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Day 1 for South Africa’s Presidential Election

SA special voting

After what appeared to be a jittery start for the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), things have turned out pretty smoothly on the first day of the elections 2019 special vote process. Over 770 000 South Africans were expected to cast their special vote between 6 and 7 May, a privilege that was approved by the electoral body in consideration of those who would not be able to cast their ballot on election day. Hundreds of IEC officials manned the fort at designated voting centres across the country, while others visited the homes of those who, due to health reasons, could not travel to a voting station. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was also part of the process. Scores of media personnel and party agents crowded outside his residence as IEC officials processed his vote.


Kenyan Athlete Sets Sights on Beating his Own Record

Eliud Kipchoge

Kenyan world record holder Eliud Kipchoge is to make another attempt at breaking two hours for the marathon later this year, probably in Britain, in a project backed by Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire owner of chemical firm INEOS. Last year he lowered the legal world record by an astonishing 78 seconds when posting 2:01.39 in Berlin and last week ran the second-fastest time in history when winning the London marathon in 2:02.37. With an Olympic marathon gold and an amazing record of 11 wins from 12 races over the 26.2 mile distance, breaking two hours would appear to be the only thing missing from the CV of a man ranked among the greatest his sport has seen. Kipchoge ran two hours and 25 seconds in his “Breaking Two” project on Italy’s Monza motor racing circuit in 2017, though the time was not ratified for record purposes as he used “in and out” pacemakers and a moving drinks station.


The Biggest Security Threat Facing Africa’s Largest Economy Today

Africa’s Largest Economy Today

The crisis started as tit-for-tats between rural farmers and herders over cattle destroying crops in 2011. But it has now exploded into a full-fledged ethnic conflict between two of Nigeria’s most prominent communities: the Fulani, traditional herders with a population of seven million, and the Hausa, farmers with an estimated population of 25 million in Africa’s largest nation. The violence has claimed more than 300 lives since the start of 2019, security experts say, threatening to exceed the 411 civilians who died in clashes with Boko Haram in all of 2018. To many Nigerians, the spiraling ethnic conflict is also a reminder of the political neglect that fed the rise of Boko Haram. As internal refugees move to neighboring states, the parallels are only growing. Refugees escaping Boko Haram are today spread across the Lake Chad region. Major Nigerian cities — from Abuja to Kaduna, the capital of the Northwestern province by the same name — have recently witnessed large protests by youth demanding more proactive political engagement from the country’s government to cool the ethnic crisis.


Egypt’s Drive to Lure Back Investors who Left during the Arab Spring

1.6 gigawatt solar park

The country expects the 1.6 gigawatt solar park it is building in the south of the country to be operating at full capacity in 2019. The $2 billion project, set to be the world’s largest solar installation, has been partly funded by the World Bank, which invested $653 million through the International Finance Corporation. Some parts of the park are already operating on a small scale, while other areas are still undergoing testing.  Egypt aims to meet 20 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2022 and up to 40 percent by 2035. Renewable energy currently covers only about 3 percent of the country’s needs. Most of the foreign direct investment Egypt attracts goes toward its energy sector.


Streets in Khartoum Turn into Story Boards

Streets in Khartoum

Murals have been mushrooming on the walls around the military headquarters in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, as thousands keep up a vigil to see a return to civilian rule. Many of the artworks carry the message that bullets and bombs are not the order of the day – and the demonstrators want a peaceful transfer of power. The area of the sit-in protest, sandwiched between the northern perimeter of the airport and the Blue Nile, is now the beating heart of the city and it is also where the university campus is based. An art collective has formed there – and a dove mural, expressing the freedoms achieved so far, marks the entrance to the vocational training centre. Many of the artworks use of the blue, yellow and green colours of Sudan’s first flag, from independence in 1956, the old flag was dropped in 1970 by a military junta, which adopted the current pan-Arab colours of red, white, black and green. The hashtag #Sudaxit has been popular with the protesters and harks back to Sudan’s African, rather than Arab, identity. Scores of people are continuing to take part in this outpouring of creativity – and even soldiers have been seen among those coming out to paint the walls of Khartoum.


Educating Vietnamese Consumers about Africa’s Rhino Poaching Crisis

Africa’s Rhino Poaching Crisis

Vietnam is one of the world’s largest consumers of rhino horn, contributing to the continued poaching of rhinos in the wild. Last year in Africa 1,100 rhinos were killed by poachers. And today there are only about 29,500 left in the world. Considerable efforts have been devoted to reducing the demand for rhino horn in Vietnam. In 2015, the government of Vietnam increased sanctions on the illegal trade and use of rhino horns.  Aside from being used as medicine, rhino horn is considered a status symbol. Consumers said that they shared it within social and professional networks to demonstrate their wealth and strengthen business relationships. Gifting whole rhino horns was also used as a way to get favors from those in power. Researchers found that the use of rhino horn doesn’t attract a stigma in Vietnam. The consumers we interviewed said they weren’t concerned about poaching or the plight of rhinos. The killing of rhinos in Africa was seen as a remote issue, something that happened far away, out of their influence because they didn’t kill the rhinos themselves.


Uneasy Standoff with Soldiers in Benin

Soldiers in Benin

Soldiers broke up demonstrations with gunfire after the opposition called for the annulment of last Sunday’s parliamentary election. Life returned back to near-normal in much of Cotonou a day after soldiers broke up demonstrations with gunfire around the home of former-President Thomas Boni Yayi, which had become a focal point of anger over Sunday’s parliamentary polls, which took place without opposition parties. The opposition says they will not give up the push for a new direction in Benin.


Zamalek, RS Berkane to Face Off in CAF Showdown

Zamalek of Egypt

Zamalek of Egypt and RS Berkane of Morocco will contest the final of the 2018/19 Total CAF Confederation Cup after aggregate wins in their respective semifinals. RS Berkane advanced to their first-ever continental tournament final after a 3-0 second leg win over CS Sfaxien at the Stade Municipal de Berkane stadium in Berkane, Morocco. Meanwhile, 10-man Zamalek held hosts Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia to a draw. Goalkeeper Mahmoud ‘Gennesh’ Abdel Rahim was sent off for the visitors in injury time for a second yellow card. Berkane hosts the first leg in Morocco on May 19 with the return leg in Egypt on May 26. Zamalek will be hoping to end a 16-year wait for a continental championship while Berkane will hope to become the fifth Moroccan winners of the Confederation Cup.


Total Extends its Role in Africa

Total Africa

French energy major Total said on Sunday it had reached a binding agreement with Occidental to acquire Anadarko assets in Algeria, Ghana, Mozambique and South Africa for a consideration of $8.8 billion. The firm said the transaction was contingent upon Occidental entering into and completing its proposed acquisition of Anadarko and approval of relevant authorities. The deal is expected to close in 2020. Total said the assets represented around 1.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) of 2P reserves, of which 70 percent is gas, plus 2 billion boe of long term natural gas resources in Mozambique.


Hitting the Right Notes Without a Tenor Horn

Tosan Arugha plays the saxophone almost note perfect — but he plays it differently from how you might expect. The 31-year-old has been dubbed the human saxophone because he makes a sound remarkably similar to the woodwind instrument using just his mouth. Through coordinated blowing similar to whistling, Arugha thrills audiences with renditions of popular Afrobeats songs from Nigerian performers such as Teni Entertainer and Burna Boy. The unusual talent has made his Instagram videos an instant hit, with thousands reposting them on the social media site. He has also received cash donations from fans impressed with his mouth saxophone skills. Arugha’s story is, however, tinged with tragedy. In 2010, he survived a bomb blast in Nigeria’s oil-rich but volatile Delta region.  He sustained injuries, including burns to his face, but said music kept him going during the hospital stay. A graduate of Delta State Polytechnic, southeast Nigeria, Arugha says he is currently perfecting his talent by rehearsing songs and practicing to get better.


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