Wed. Jan 22nd, 2020

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Africa Top10 News

Grounding South Africa’s Airline Company

South Africa's Airline

South Africa’s unions have disrupted operations of the country’s state-owned airline as it protests widespread job cuts in various government-controlled sectors. State airline South African Airways (SAA) cancelled “nearly all” flights scheduled for Friday and Saturday because of a strike over wage increases planned by a majority of employees. Unions representing about 3,000 of its 5,000-strong workforce said on Wednesday that cabin crew and other workers at SAA would strike over the airline’s refusal of salary hikes and its plan to cut more than 900 jobs in an attempt to stem severe financial losses. According to the report, only flights directly operated by SAA would be affected. Flights by subsidiaries Mango, SA Express and SA Air Link, as well as those of private operators, would not be affected.


Zimbabwe’s New Money

Zimbabwe's New Money

The effectiveness of the fresh liquidity injection will be tested this weekend when the country will be without its dominant mobile money platform, EcoCash. Demand for cash has been elevated in Zimbabwe despite the over reliance on mobile money, most likely because money supply is low. The Monetary Policy Committee of the Zimbabwean central bank admits that the country’s “broad money supply of 4% is low compared to regional and international levels of 10% to 15%”. The impact of the cash crisis has been best captured by consumers being forced to pay premiums of up to 50% to get their cash from mobile money agents as well as a run-away Zimdollar vs US Dollar parallel market exchange rate currently at 1:20 against 1:15 on the official interbank market. 


Ebola Case in Lesotho isn’t What it Seems

Ebola Case in Lesotho

Reports that a woman who displayed symptoms associated with the Ebola virus crossed the Ficksburg border in the Free State have been revealed to have been a simulation exercise. Eyewitness News earlier reported that health officials had “confirmed its first case of Ebola” According to the report, the woman was rushed to hospital where tests “confirmed she had contracted the virus”. However, the International Health Regulations (IHR) in Lesotho said in a statement that there had been an Ebola Virus Disease exercise simulation on November 13 between the borders gates of Ficksburg and Maputsoe. It was undertaken to test the capacities in terms of risk communication, coordination, communication, surveillance, case management, preparedness and response, it said. 


Namibia’s Ministers Caught in Fishy Deal

Namibia's Ministers

The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernhard Esau and the Minister of Justice Sacky Shanghala were accused of receiving bribes in return for giving preferential access to Namibia’s rich fishing grounds to Samherji, one of Iceland’s largest fishing companies. Esau and Shanghala stepped down “following press and media reports in which allegations of corruption have been made against” them, presidential spokesman Alfredo Hengari said in a statement. The resignations came in the wake of a joint investigation between Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, the Icelandic State Broadcaster RUV, and the Icelandic magazine Stundin based on leaked documents provided by the whistleblowing group WikiLeaks. Samherji is one of the country’s largest fishing conglomerates with an annual turnover of more than $700m. The company sells its fish to supermarket chains such as Marks and Spencer’s, Carrefour, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.


Menyesha Helps Rwandans Get Credit-Healthy – In Kinyarwanda


Growing numbers of Rwandans are taking control of their credit health through an innovative mobile credit reporting platform, Menyesha, which allows them to check their credit status in Kinyarwanda using their mobile phones. TransUnion Rwanda country manager, Jacqueline Mugwaneza, says “there has been steady growth in the use of the service since its launch nearly two years ago, as consumers increasingly realise the need to know their credit status. This is vital for anyone wanting to apply for a credit or a bank loan” being on mobile or classic lending. Menyesha gives consumers accurate, up-to-date information about their credit status in real time. It is easily accessible and convenient. People can check their credit status and order a credit report, a credit score and a clearance report, in either English or Kinyarwanda, by SMSing their ID numbers to 2272.


Tackling Diabetes in Sub-Saharan Africa

Diabetes in Sub-Saharan Africa

The World Health Organization has launched a new initiative it believes will allow greater access to life-saving insulin at lower prices for a greater number of people suffering from diabetes.  More than 420 million people globally suffer from diabetes and are in need of insulin to stay alive.  Diabetes, a disease that once mainly affected rich countries, is now most prevalent in low-and-middle-income countries. The prequalification program is a tool for assessing the quality, safety and efficacy of a medicine.  Emer Cooke, director of regulation of medicines and other health technologies at the WHO, says anyone who buys a WHO prequalified medication can be sure that the product is safe and effective.


Solving an Ancient Egyptian Mystery

Ancient Egyptian Mystery

Researchers say they have cracked the conundrum of where millions of mummified birds came from. Pharaohs and members of the nobility were often mummified, but the practice was not reserved for humans – cats, crocodiles, mice and mongooses are among the mummified animals that have been found. While some have been discovered alongside human burials, others – most notably the sacred ibis bird – were mummified as part of rituals designed to curry favour with the gods. The sheer quantity of mummified ibises left experts scratching their heads – where did all these birds come from? One suggestion is that they were reared on an industrial scale in hatcheries. That idea appears to have some support in ancient texts, such as the writings of Hor of Sebennytos, a priest and scribe in the second century BC, who wrote about feeding tens of thousands of sacred ibis with bread and clover.


A Zimbabwean Activist’s Disillusionment

Evan Mawarire,

Evan Mawarire, a pastor, activist and founder of the #ThisFlag movement gained prominence in 2016 when he draped himself in a Zimbabwean flag and railed against government corruption and lack of accountability in an online video. His protests became popular and caught the attention of the Mugabe regime who detained him for “inciting public violence.” Mawarire was released a day later after mounting public pressure. Mawarire claims that, “In just two years, Emmerson Mnangagwa has charged more people who have spoken out against the government than Robert Mugabe did in 37 years.” Mawarire’s popularity and calls for justice continue to make him a thorn in the government’s side. An online video of him voicing his frustration during protests against a 130% fuel hike in January led to him being arrested and sent to jail once again.


A $600m Loan to Boost Cocoa Productivity in Ghana

Cocoa Productivity in Ghana

Ghanaian President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President of AfDB Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, senior officials from Credit Suisse and ICBC, oversaw the signing of the facility, at a ceremony held at the 2019 Africa Investment Forum (AIF). At a press conference following the signing, President Akufo-Addo said the agreement would help to ensure higher incomes for Ghana’s cocoa farmers. The government has been looking for a mechanism to scale up the value chain of farmers, and that’s how AfDB came into place.


The Cameroonian Who Left the Cloth for Hoops

Pascal Siakam

For the first 17 years of his life, Pascal Siakam didn’t pick up a basketball much. It was just a game his older brothers played. Even though his father dreamed about one of his children growing up to play in the NBA, Siakam, the youngest of six siblings, was always more interested in other sports. Considering Siakam has been playing the sport for under 10 years, his resume is more than impressive. Now 25, last season he was crowned the NBA’s most improved player. He was a major contributor as the Toronto Raptors won their first NBA championship title.  Born in Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital, Siakam spent much of his youth at St Andrews Seminary, training for the priesthood in a small town called Bafia.