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The Beauty Industry Looks to Africa for Growth

Africa's Beauty Industry

In recent years, there has been a sharp rise in African beauty brands or African diaspora niche brands that have organically built a customer base providing products made for those with black skin and hair. With Africa’s beauty and personal care market estimated at $11 billion in 2017, the continent is being seen as a major growth frontier for majors including L’Oréal and Unilever pursuing increasing activity in the region. In 2013, L’Oréal acquired the Kenyan company behind Nice & Lovely, a well-known mass-market skin and hair brand, for an estimated $17.6 million. The next year, L’Oréal bought Carol’s Daughter, a business that was started by Lisa Price in her Brooklyn, New York kitchen in 1993, but was valued at $27 million at the time of acquisition. A few years later in 2017, Liberian-born Richelieu Dennis, the founder of one of the best known black skin & hair brands, Shea Moisture, sold his New York-based company Sundial Brands to Unilever. At the time of sale his company was estimated at a whopping $240 million.


A Find Like No Other

Egyptian archaeologists

A team of Egyptian archaeologists found a “distinctive group of 30 coloured wooden coffins for men, women and children” in a cache at Al-Asasif cemetery on Luxor’s west bank. The intricately carved and painted 3,000-year-old coffins were closed with mummies inside and were in “a good condition of preservation, colours and complete inscriptions”. The coffins will undergo restoration before being moved to a showroom at the Grand Egyptian Museum, due to open next year next to the Giza pyramids. The discovery is the latest in a series of major finds of ancient relics that Egypt hopes will revive its tourism sector, which has been badly hit by political instability since the 2011.


Two Sides of Rwanda’s President

Rwanda's President

African youth are enthusiastic about Kagame. It is not uncommon to see calls on social media for Kagame to be “borrowed” as president of their respective countries, even if just for a few months to “fix things”.  Outside of Africa, Paul Kagame raises mixed feelings, with human rights groups classifying him as an authoritarian leader, who curtails press and political freedoms and presides over an undemocratic nation whose constitution he changed to remain president beyond his legal term. But on the continent, the 19 years under his charge has seen the country become stable, prosperous, unified and, in large part, reconciled. Social services, such as education, healthcare, housing and livestock are provided to the needy, with no distinction of ethnicity or region of origin – two forms of discrimination that characterised the governments leading up to the genocide against the Tutsi, which Kagame, as leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), brought to an end. 


How to Spot Fake African Art

Fake African Art

African art is becoming a larger and larger target. Fakes are flooding the South African market and while a range of artists is affected, it’s mostly the black modernists (1960 – 1990) whose legacy is suffering. To illustrate: If you use Google images to search for the work of Lucky Sibiya, the artist being used as part of a yet to be published study at the University of Pretoria, you’ll find that 30% of all the works yielded in the search are fakes. It’s the same with his contemporaries, among them George Pemba, Welcome Koboka, Nat Mokgosi, Martin Tose, Dumile Feni, Julian Motau and Eli Kobeli. They are just eight of a list of 21 artists identified as being forged. In the ongoing work researchers have traced the bulk of the fakes we’ve studied to a group we call the African Modernist Fake School – a trained artist or group of artists working together to create fakes on demand. The demand is created by an equally well organised group of “galleries” and auction houses.


Botswana Faces a Genuine Electoral Contest

Botswana Elections

The Botswana Democratic Party, in power since independence day, faces an unusually tough parliamentary vote, after the country’s former president and political heavyweight Ian Khama fell out bitterly with his hand-picked successor, President Mokgweetsi Masisi, earlier this year. There is no clear winner in sight and little to distinguish the contestants on policy. But whichever party wins will inherit the unenviable task of tackling high unemployment, inequality and over-reliance on dwindling diamonds, which turned Botswana into one of Africa’s wealthiest nations but cannot lift living standards forever.


Leading Africa into the 4th Industrial Revolution

4th Industrial Revolution

Ideas like smart cities and industrialized entrepreneurship no longer seem like far-fetched terms, but like actual solutions to some of our social problems. To improve the infrastructure of different countries in Africa, people need access to the relevant digital platforms.  To mention just one example, in Kenya, people started looking for ways in which to improve dairy farming – both for the farmer and for the industry as a whole.  Technology can now be used to digitally detect illnesses in cows to alert farmers of the type of medicine they will need.  Capturing data in such a way has immensely improved the efficiency in dairy farming. However, behind the scenes, in the background of an ever demanding society, creative entrepreneurs are working on finding technological methods to create solutions to some of our social problems.


African Youth Weigh in on Africa’s Problems

Africa's Problems

The World Bank has announced the launch of this year’s Blog4Dev competition, an annual writing contest that engages the Sub-Saharan African Youth to share their views on critical issues that affect the region’s economic development. It also gives them the platform to suggest solutions about development topics that are important to them. The theme for this year’s contest is ‘What will it take to end child marriage in your country’? Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest level of child marriage with four in ten young women married before age 18, a UNICEF report shows. 


An Ant in the Sahara Clocks in Record Speed

Sahara Clocks

Scientists have recorded the speed of the world’s fastest ant, which lives in the Sahara and is able to travel 108 times its own body length per second. The Saharan silver ant, Cataglyphis bombycina, can reach speeds of 0.855 meters per second with its high-frequency strides. The ants’ silver color also gives them some relief from the heat, as their shiny coats reflect sunlight and infrared, helping to keep them relatively cool. The team had to look for digging ants or follow a foraging ant back to its nest. Once they had located one, an aluminum channel was joined to the entrance with food at the end — to entice the ants out. The scientists then filmed them from above to work out their speed. They also excavated a nest, which they took back to Germany to record the ants running more slowly in cooler temperatures. The team’s findings, based on experiments conducted in Tunisia, will be published in the Journal of Experimental Biology. 


This Malawi Village Harnesses the Power of Radio

Nkhotakota radio programme

The Nkhotakota radio programme in Malawi is being credited with  changing people’s lives. Realising that few other programmes catered for women’s issues, it created a segment where local women are invited to the studio to discuss topics that affect them. At the end of the show solutions are suggested to the topics discussed. The show even empowered a village to successfully demand a bridge from the local government so that its children would never miss school when it rains.


African Women and Girls on Self-defence

African slums, boxing clubs

In African slums, boxing clubs are seen as a good way to keep young men off the streets, let them take out their frustrations through sport rather than crime, and provide a way out of poverty. In Uganda, though, one woman has stepped into the ring to not only win medals on the continent, but also empower young women to stay off the streets and defend themselves.  Kampala’s Katanga slum is home to 20,000 urban poor, who live in crowded conditions and where women are often victims of crime. The coach at Katanga’s Rhino Boxing Club, Innocent Kapalata, says more and more young women in the slum are joining the club.


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