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Saving Gabon’s Unique Wildlife

Gabon’s Unique Wildlife

Government has vowed to find and punish those responsible for the disappearance of more than 350 containers of protected hardwood worth nearly $250m. In late February and early March, the authorities uncovered and seized 392 containers with 5,000 cubic metres of illegally felled kevazingo wood in the port of Owendo. By the end of April, 353 of those containers had disappeared. Forestry is a major industry for the central African country, almost 80 percent of which is carpeted in rainforest. But the rare kevazingo tree, which can take 500 years to grow to its full height of 40m (130 feet), is protected by law. Demand in Asia for kevazingo remains high despite the ban in Gabon. The kevazingo in the stolen containers would have a market value of at least $241m.


The Biggest Obstacle to Business for SME’s in African Countries

SME’s in African Countries

Entrepreneurs have a pivotal role to play in Africa’s unemployment crisis. Today over a third of the continent’s young workforce (those aged 15-35) are unemployed. Another third are in vulnerable employment. By 2035, Africa will contribute more people to the workforce each year than the rest of the world combined. By 2050 it will be home to 1.25 billion people working aged. To absorb these new entrants, Africa needs to create over 18 million new jobs each year. But access to financing remains an obstacle, young entrepreneurs often face double digit interest rates from local banks. And venture capital penetration is still extremely low. Top end 2018 estimates put it at about $725 million for the whole continent. To tackle the problem, African countries continue to start new entrepreneurship funds. In July 2017 Ghana launched the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan. The aim is to provide integrated national support for start-ups and small businesses. Almost a year later, Rwanda secured a $30 million loan from the African Development Bank for the establishment of the Rwandan Innovation Fund. This will focus on investments in tech-enabled SMEs.


Bloodshed Taints Sudan’s Peaceful Protest of Military Rule

Sudan’s Peaceful Protest

Four Sudanese protesters and an army major were shot dead Monday in the capital, hours after protest leaders and the ruling generals reached a breakthrough agreement on transitional authorities to run the country. The latest developments came as the prosecutor general’s office said ousted president Omar al-Bashir had been charged over the killings of protesters during anti-regime demonstrations that led to the end of his rule last month. The major and a protester were killed at a sit-in outside the army headquarters in Khartoum where thousands of protesters remain camped for weeks, demanding that the army generals who took power after ousting Bashir step down. Three soldiers and several protesters and civilians were also wounded when “unidentified elements” fired shots at the Khartoum sit-in, the ruling military council said. The committee later said three more protesters had been shot dead, but did not specify if they were actually killed at the sit-in.


The Journey of Creating One of South Africa’s Patriotic Symbols

South Africa's Patriotic Symbols

In 1994, Frederick Brownell delivered on what may be the hardest and most consequential assignment any designer could receive: Design a flag to unite a nation—and do it in a week. “It scared the living daylights out of me,” he said to the BBC in 2014. Brownell, who passed away at age 79, was the head of the South Africa Department of Arts and Culture’s Bureau of Heraldry during a time when the country was in the midst of abolishing apartheid. He was tasked with the assignment after a drawn-out design contest that yielded 7,000 entries went nowhere. With barely two months before the inauguration of its newly elected president Nelson Mandela, South Africa needed a new unifying graphic symbol—fast. As Brownell outlines in his 2015 PhD dissertation, the the six-color, Y-shaped design first came to him while attending the Féderation Internationale de Associations Vexillologiques (FIAV) conference in Zurich in 1993. Like many brilliant back-of-the-napkin ideas, Brownell had actually been stewing over a new flag design for several years. He sensed that South Africa may need a unifying symbol after Mandela was released from prison in 1990.


Time Runs Out for Liberians Living in the US

Liberians Living in the US

A form of immigration status known as Deferred Enforced Departure which had protected Liberian migrants from deportation and allowed them to work legally – was due to expire in March, meaning they would have had to leave the country voluntarily or be deported. It was all part of the effort by President Donald Trump’s administration to widen its crackdown on legal and illegal immigration to the United States. Days before the March deadline, Trump granted Liberians a reprieve to last through March 30, 2020. Though relieved, community members recognized that the clock was simply reset for the thousands of Liberians who fled civil war and instability in their home country in the 1990s and early 2000s.


Somalia’s Shutdown of the Internet isn’t for Repressive Reasons

Somalia’s Internet Shutdown

The country has postponed national high school exams after discovering that papers were being sold and shared on social media. Any exams that have already been taken have been invalidated, Education Minister Abdullahi Godah Barre said during a broadcast on national TV. The cancellation has sparked student protests in the capital, Mogadishu. The exams will now take place over five days at the end of May and social media will be shut down to avoid leaks. It is unclear how the blockade would be implemented and if will be for the whole country. Mr Barre also did not say which social media platforms had been used to post the papers in the first place. Over 31,000 students, across five of Somalia’s regional states, will be affected by the postponement. A video has been shared online of Mr Barre and the police boss trying calm down students who were protesting against the postponement. Students have been sitting their final year exams since Saturday and they were supposed to end on a week’s time, but Mr Barre said the postponement was necessary.


Zimbabwe Sells Elephants to China and Dubai for $2.7m

Zimbabwe Sells Elephants to China

Money from the sales will be used to support conservation efforts. Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority says the agency was having difficulty controlling the population in its national parks, and that proceeds from the sales, made over a six-year period, will be used for the upkeep of its remaining elephants. “We are struggling with a ballooning number of elephants. We believe in sustainable utilization of our resources, and these elephants must pay for their upkeep,” Farawo told CNN. He said water levels were running low in rivers in its parks and officials have been using alternative water sources to feed the animals. The 98 elephants were airlifted to parks in China and Dubai and they were sold for prices ranging from $13,500 to $41, 500 each, the reports said. They were exported between 2012 and 2018, the Zimbabwe Chronicle reported.


Beautifying the Ethiopian Capital

Ethiopian Capital

A fundraising effort aimed at beautifying the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, has raked in over $25 million dollars from a section of the project supporters. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office disclosed on that the latest amount of funds had been raised from local and international support including from the Italian government which contributed 5,000,000 Euros. Two United Nations outfits gave a million dollars each whiles the African Development Bank, AfDB, gave 600,000 dollars. The largest tranche of over 17 million dollars were deposits at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia. The development project will run along the two biggest rivers in Addis Ababa – stretching 23.8kms and 27.5kms respectively – all the way from the mountains of Entoto through to Akaki River. The funds paid towards the ‘Beautifying Sherger Project,’ will culminate in a dinner event ‘Dine for Sherger,’ slated for later this week. A seat at the event is valued at 5 million birr. Among others, donors get a plaque with their names along the project route and a photo opportunity with the PM.


This is How South Africa’s Lawmakers will Look Like

South Africa’s sixth Parliament

South Africa’s sixth Parliament will sit in a week, after an intensely fought election. A record number of 14 parties will take up the 400 seats in the National Assembly. The previous high was 13 parties. With voters leaving the ANC and Democratic Alliance (DA), there is now space for new faces, to sit next to some faces that have been in Parliament for a long time. Newcomer parties that have made the cut to serve the country include former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille’s GOOD party and the African Transformation Movement with two seats each. Al Jama-ah — which according to its website is a Muslim party — secured one seat. The growth of these small parties, and of the FF+ and EFF, has meant fewer votes for other parties, and some parties not even making it to Parliament.


Evidence that African Players are Thriving in the Premier League

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has admitted his pride at sharing the Golden Boot with Liverpool’s Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah. The Arsenal forward’s two goals against Burnley on the final day ensured he ended the season on 22, matching the tally of Senegal’s Mané and Egypt’s Salah, who also became the sixth player to win the award in successive seasons. It was the most prolific campaign for African players in England’s top-flight, surpassing the 2006/7 season when Chelsea’s Didier Drogba finished as the top scorer with 20 goals and Blackburn’s Benni McCarthy came second with 18. But while Aubameyang will not be in action in Egypt this summer along with Mané and Salah following Gabon’s failure to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations, the 29-year-old believes their club achievements are “a good sign for the continent”.


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