Tue. Feb 18th, 2020


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A Small Victory in Nigeria’s Fight against Polio

Nigeria's Fight against Polio

Nigeria has gone three years without a case of polio, putting it on the brink of being declared free of the disease. This is a dramatic change from 2012 when the country accounted for more than half of all polio cases worldwide, the World Health Organization has said. The head of the primary health care agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said Nigeria had reached a “historic milestone”.  But it will be several months before the country can officially be labelled polio-free. The first criteria, no case for three years, has been achieved. It has taken the effort of thousands of volunteers who have risked their lives in some instances to deliver the much-needed vaccines to all parts of the continent. But “to end polio, at least 95% of children must be vaccinated, no matter where they live.” SOURCE: BBC

Is IS Behind Recent Attacks in Southern Africa?

Attacks in SA

Experts are warning that a focus on alleged Islamist militant ties is hindering efforts to respond to insurgencies in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Local insurgent groups have claimed ties to Islamic State to increase their clout, but the groups operate autonomously, experts who study the regions say. On July 24, IS released a video featuring a man named “Sheikh Abu Abdul Rahman” who called for an end to division and infighting among Muslims in Central Africa. He also called for the creation of a caliphate. The video features heavily armed fighters in a forested area pledging allegiance to IS. Some saw the proclamation as a sign of solidarity between the Mozambican and Congolese extremist groups. But experts are unsure whether links to IS signal a new threat or simply reflect the groups’ attempts to raise their profile. Ryan O’Farrell, an extremism researcher studying at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, said experts have found virtually no evidence that IS has trained, funded or equipped its African affiliates. Sierra Leone’s government aims to have the the system in use by all banks and microfinance institutions in the country by the end of this year, Bio said.


A South African Innovation Goes on Display

bio-brick SA

A research team from the University of Cape Town (UCT) will be showcasing its eco innovation – a ‘bio-brick’ made from urine – at an Austrian art museum as part of the Vienna Biennale for Change 2019.  The pioneering bio-brick will showcase this South Africa’s innovation at the Vienna-based Museum of Applied Arts’ Design Lab – a floor in the museum dedicated to contemporary design. UCT’s urine bio-brick will be on loan to the Vienna museum for four years, but arrived in time for the Vienna Biennale exhibition, which opened on 28 May and runs until 6 October 2019. The Vienna Biennale is the first event of its kind to combine art, design and architecture with the aim of generating creative ideas and artistic projects to help improve the world. In 2018 Dr Dyllon Randall, of UCT’s Department of Civil Engineering, and his students presented the world’s first bio-brick ‘grown’ from human urine. The resulting bio-brick boasts innovative use of waste materials, which the team demonstrated could be used for building materials.


Six Months after a Wave of Protests Began in Algeria

Algeria Protests

People are still demonstrating and the military-backed government appears determined to keep its grip on power. The demonstrations have gained a familiar rhythm since tens of thousands of Algerians first took to the streets on 22 February. Thousands of students turn out on Tuesdays and there are larger protests each Friday. “We didn’t come to negotiate, we came to kick you out,” read one placard brandished last Friday. On Tuesday this week the number of demonstrators swelled as older Algerians joined students in the heat, defiant in the face of government efforts to curb the protests by closing off areas of the capital and introducing new rules for demonstrations. The interim president, Abdelkader Bensalah, remains in power alongside the all-powerful army chief, Ahmed Gaïd Salah, while protesters say they will persist until the military-backed government is replaced by a civilian democracy. 


Bringing more Sierra Leoneans into the Financial System

Sierra Leoneans

Kiva, a San Francisco-based tech nonprofit organisation, is using blockchain to create an online ID database in Sierra Leone allowing people who struggle to get loans to prove their credit history. President Julius Maada Bio officially launched the system in the capital Freetown this week. Kiva facilitates small loans in 80 countries, but Sierra Leone is the first country to implement an online credit system designed by the organisation. The platform will enable lenders to look up citizens’ credit histories using fingerprints and other biometric data that was collected a few years ago by Sierra Leone’s government to print voter ID cards. Ordinary Sierra Leoneans appear excited by the prospect, more than three quarters of Sierra Leone’s population lies outside the formal banking sector, according to data from the central bank. Informal institutions like community banks and microfinance lenders are more common, but they rarely share credit information and often charge extortionate interest rates.

Unlocking Value In The Sub-Saharan Africa Mobile Market

Africa Mobile Market

Mobile network operators can avoid the challenges more mature markets have experienced by focusing on their customers. Mobile phone operators in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are playing on borrowed time. Robust network investments, cheaper smartphones and data, and a rapidly expanding population of connected youth have fueled strong growth for the US$60 billion SSA mobile market. But as the market matures, operators risk falling into the “doom scenario” that has plagued their counterparts around the globe: saturated markets, an uneven response to evolving consumer preferences, and falling revenues. . To create the right conditions for growth, operators must first improve network coverage and capacity through targeted, demand-based investments.


Zimbabwe: No Laughing Matter

Samantha Kureya

Samantha Kureya, who is known by her stage name Gonyeti, is a Zimbabwean comedian whose skits have been critical of police brutality and the Zimbabwean government. According to Zimbabwe’s News Day, Gonyeti was allegedly taken from her home in Mufakose by masked and armed men who reportedly beat her and members of her family. Gonyeti was eventually found by one of her colleagues in a nondescript bush in the capital, Harare. Comedians and artists have always faced varying consequences for criticizing the government or the police. Veteran musicians such as Oliver Mtukudzi and Thomas Mapfumo, had their respective protest songs “Wasakara” and “Corruption in the society”, banned from being played in the country altogether. Mapfumo was eventually exiled to the United States in 2004 but returned last year. Another Zimbabwean musician, Raymond Majongwe, recorded his popular album Dhiziri kuChinhoyi in South Africa, after recording studios outright refused to have any part in the project for fear of retaliation from then President Robert Mugabe.


Museveni Takes On Donor Groups

Donor Groups

Nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) in Uganda have been told to submit financial information including budgets and donor lists to the authorities, in a move rights groups said was another attempt to muzzle criticism. This month a letter circulating on social media showed the head of the Financial Intelligence Authority, a government agency that tracks and combats money laundering, writing to a commercial bank requesting financial records of 13 pro-democracy NGOs including FHRI. Over the last year several government officials have been quoted in local media accusing Bobi Wine, a musician-turned-legislator who says he will seek the presidency at the next election, of being funded by unnamed foreign agents.


This Senegalese Show is Not for Sensitive Viewers

Mistress of a Married Man

In the most controversial scene of “Mistress of a Married Man,” a hugely popular new television series in Senegal, the show’s protagonist, Marème, dons a daring magenta pantsuit and heads out for a date with a married man — but not before pointing below her belt. “This is mine,” she tells her best friend. “I give it to whomever I please.” The series, which debuted in January, has quickly reached a “Sex and the City” level of popularity, setting off a fierce debate over contemporary womanhood in a largely Muslim West African nation that like much of the region, is urbanizing at breakneck speed. The pilot alone has received more than three million views on YouTube, a number nearly equivalent to the entire population of Senegal’s capital region. It is part of a burst of woman-driven television and film production across Africa in which writers, producers and actors openly assert female sexuality, challenge traditional gender roles and present distinctly African stories to African audiences.


Ghana’s New Music Scene has Taken Hold


FOKN Bois is made up of friends M3NSA and Wanlov the Kubolor who use their music to challenge the status quo. Using the tools of parody, humour, and protest, they highlight social issues and call for political change. But they, along with a new generation of artists – who produce songs, poems, murals, clothes, and more – are investing in home. Capturing drone footage, shooting videos on iPhones, editing songs in private studios, and streaming music online, they spread a message of confidence and self-love. Using the power of the internet, they contradict mainstream views of their communities, call out politicians, and challenge the messages of megachurches. But as they push for change, at times the road to progress looks longer than ever, and their work threatens to drain them. Over the course of five years, Ghana Controversial follows musicians like M3NSA, Wanlov the Kubolor, Adomaa, Worlasi, Akan, Mutombo Da Poet and Poetra Asantewa as they shake things up at home. They have written and produced new songs and videos exclusively for this film in collaboration with Swiss filmmakers.