Monday 22 May 2017
(The Globe and Mail 12/23/16)
The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s most powerful radio telescope, opening new frontiers in our understanding of the universe. But the builders have to contend with an unforgiving climate and other formidable challenges first, In the desolate rocky plains of the Great Karoo, the dangers are endless. Scorpions and puff adders are underfoot. The harsh sun beats down, interrupted only by occasional lightning storms. Temperatures range from stifling heat to freezing cold. But at night, in the vast empty darkness, the stars are impossibly bright and clear. And it is the stars that have lured a Canadian-backed project to build the world’s most powerful radio telescope, with the potential to unlock the deepest secrets of the universe. For...
(Reuters (Eng) 12/22/16)
The humanitarian catastrophe in Lake Chad basin, where conflict has left over 8 million people destitute with many "teetering on the brink of famine", was the most neglected crisis in 2016, according to a survey of aid agencies. Following Lake Chad in a Thomson Reuters Foundation poll of 19 leading aid groups were Yemen, where children are starving, and South Sudan where U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon fears genocide is about to start. Overshadowed by the wars in Syria and Iraq and the global refugee and migrant crisis, Lake Chad barely made the headlines this year, but aid organizations said the crisis was "on an epic scale" with "terrifying rates of child malnutrition". "Syria broke my heart, but for out and...
(AFP (eng) 12/22/16)
Selma saunters on her stilt-like legs, batting thick lashes as she extends a blackish tongue -- as long as an arm -- to grab pellets offered by an awed tourist. The giraffe is after all, eating for two. Her pregnancy is good news for one of the rarest giraffe species, protected at the Giraffe Centre in the Kenyan capital, but experts warn the outlook for the rest of the world's tallest land mammals is far gloomier. While it is hoped the shocking news that the gentle giants of the African savannah are facing extinction will spur action, conservationists largely have their hands tied as many giraffe live in Africa's most conflict-torn regions. Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan...
(The Citizen 12/21/16)
Tanzania is among some African countries which may see a drop in development aid as the US is likely to expand fiscal stance and cut spending during Donald Trump's presidency, a new report shows. The move by the world's largest economy will affect dependent countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and DRC according to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) latest report released in London yesterday. In its Economic Insight: Africa Q4 2016, the accountancy and finance body points out that signs of an expansionary fiscal stance under the Trump administration coupled with spending cuts to accommodate increased infrastructure expenditure are likely to lead to the decrease in aid. "Aid is one of the main...
(Agence Ecofin 12/20/16)
In an interview with French Magazine Le Point, President Issoufou described Niger’s demography as a ticking bomb. “We have a growth rate of 4% per annum, and a fecundity rate or 7 children per woman. In addition, when asking women about how many kids they want, they respond nine, while men say eleven. So the average number of kids desired exceeds the rate of fecundity. It’s a great challenge which we must tackle,” he said. The Head of State believes the answer to this is education, especially that of girls. “Youth is our door out, if we are able to educate it, and provide it jobs. It’s a key factor to developing Niger’s economy,” he said. In this context, Mr...
(Agence Ecofin 12/20/16)
The European Union announced it would provide the Niger government a €470 million facility to support in efforts to implement reforms and bolster its capacities in education, nutrition, food security, etc. Besides this financing, the emergency trust fund for Africa has approved this year the injection of €140 million in nine projects in Niger. The European Union in a statement said the funding was to support projects which are part of the La Valette action plan. “This is about fighting human trafficking, improving border management and tackling the roots of illegal migration, by providing better economic alternatives. It’s also about contributing to the protection and assistance of returning migrants, to the reinforcement of authorities and local municipalities’ skills, as well...
(AFP (eng) 12/20/16)
When Rose Kariuki first felt a lump on her left breast, the spectre of cancer -- a disease she had only heard of on television -- was the last thing on her mind. "To me, cancer was nowhere near us. It was shocking, I feared death, I feared so many things," the 46-year-old Kenyan school teacher told AFP. Rose is one of a growing number of Africans suffering from cancer, one of the lifestyle diseases -- along with diabetes and heart problems -- proving increasing deadly on the continent. A World Health Organisation (WHO) survey released Tuesday showed that most Africans had at least one risk factor for developing one of these diseases, such as smoking, a lack of exercise,...
(Reuters (Eng) 12/16/16)
The European Union offered 610 million euros ($635 million) to Niger on Thursday for keeping a lid on migration from Africa through the Mediterranean to Europe. The bloc, anxious to curb immigration after some 1.4 million refugees and migrants arrived this year and last, is stepping up cooperation with key African countries of origin and transit to ensure fewer people get to European shores. The latest money announced for Niger comes from the bloc's new Africa fund, as well as from Germany, France and Italy. Niger is a Western African country where the desert city of Agadez is a popular waystation for migrants attempting to traverse Sahara to reach Libya and eventually Europe via Italy. The EU has also offered...
(AFP (eng) 12/16/16)
The number of migrants feared to have died this year has soared to nearly 7,200 -- a more than 20-percent increase over 2015 -- with most of the fatalities in the Mediterranean, IOM said Friday. In total, 7,189 migrants and refugees have died or remain missing on migratory routs around the world, the International Organization for Migration said. That number is already 1,449 more than in all of 2015. And since it represents an average of 20 deaths per day, another 200 to 300 people could perish by the end of the year if the trend continues, the Geneva-based IOM warned in a statement. The Mediterranean Sea routes, used so far this year by nearly 360,000 people seeking a new...
(CNN 12/15/16)
In the sleepy, sun-blasted town of De Aar in central South Africa, a mighty force is stirring. The largest solar plant in Africa, Middle East and the Southern hemisphere was inaugurated here earlier this year, a 175-megawatt facility that spreads over almost 500 hectares. The facility is the brainchild of Solar Capital, led by hotel magnate turned solar evangelist Paschal Phelan, which ploughed $400 million into the venture. The plant supplies power to the National Grid, but when the heat is fiercest it produces far more than the Grid can use, and the excess power goes to waste. "It's like you have a Ferrari and you run a small car," says Massimiliano Salaorno, plant manager of Solar Capital De Aar...
(Agence Ecofin 12/14/16)
During a roundtable in December 9, 2016, the council of ministers of Niger has decided to grant mining firms XANTUS and Endeavour Mining, new prospection permits in Tillabéry and Agadez. According to the approved related agreements, the two firms should respectively invest in lithium and gold exploration in Niger. In regard to details, XANTUS will receive in Tillabéry four mining permits, namely the Dibilo, Dingoaba, Namaga 2 and Boungou permits. The Tortola-based firm will invest in each of the zones covered by these permits, over the three years following the signing of agreements, a minimum of $3,210,900 to conduct its exploration activities to discover lithium and related substances deposits. Endeavour Mining will for its part, through its subsidiary, Endeavour Niger,...
(AFP (eng) 12/14/16)
Family planning helps people in Africa to be healthier and wealthier, as women without contraceptives become locked in "a cycle of poverty," Melinda Gates told AFP as a conference on the topic was held in Ivory Coast. "When a woman has access to contraceptives she can lift herself out of poverty, and if she doesn't have access to contraceptives, it locks her inside a cycle of poverty for the rest of her life," said the wife of Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Bill Gates, whose foundation is very active in the field. Family planning has "huge health benefits for the woman and for her children, and it has economic benefits," Gates told AFP by telephone from the Ivorian economic capital Abidjan...
(AFP (eng) 12/13/16)
The cocktails keep flowing by the pool on the tourist strip, but in The Gambia's markets many African migrant traders are packing up their businesses and heading home. The international community is piling pressure on President Yahya Jammeh to leave power after 22 years and hand over to opposition leader Adama Barrow, who won an election two weeks ago only for Jammeh to later reverse his original concession of defeat. Of the economy's two main sources of investment from abroad, tourism appears to be weathering the country's political storm far better than the thousands of petty traders who move to The Gambia from the rest of west Africa. President-elect Barrow told AFP on Monday claims that tourist numbers could be...
(Le Monde 12/09/16)
Dozens of politicians, diplomats, military and intelligence chiefs, members of the opposition and leading business figures were wiretapped across the continent. This rare overview of modern satellite espionage could hardly be less technical and abstract, for it not only names the victims of intercepts but also reveals the scale of a surveillance operation spanning an entire continent. That continent is Africa. New documents shown to Le Monde, in collaboration with The Intercept, from the data cache of the former NSA (National Security Agency) operative Edward Snowden, originally given to Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, offer unprecedented insight into information on twenty African countries collected by GCHQ, the British intelligence service, between 2009 and 2010. Dozens of lists of intercepts examined...
(Reuters (Eng) 12/08/16)
Poverty, conflict and climate change will leave 15 million people across Africa's Sahel belt in need of life-saving aid next year, the United Nations said on Wednesday as it launched a record $2.7 billion humanitarian appeal for the region in 2017. Around 40 percent of the money will be used to help some seven million people in Nigeria affected by the jihadist group Boko Haram's seven-year insurgency, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). OCHA has increased its appeal for eight countries in the semi-arid band stretching from Senegal to Chad more than tenfold in as many years, but each year funding has fallen short. This year's $2 billion appeal has been less than half-funded...
(Reuters (Eng) 12/07/16)
As the darkness falls on the plains around Bunambiyu, a remote village in Tanzania's northern Shinyanga region, Elizabeth Julius switches on her solar lantern to finish sewing clothes for her customers. Not long ago, nightfall would have forced her to close her tailoring shop, or use a smoky kerosene lamp. But with the solar-powered lamp, Julius can now sew for as long as she wants. "Solar energy has entirely changed my life. I use it at work and at home, yet it doesn't cost me anything," said the 29-year-old entrepreneur and mother of two. "I often wake up at night to work because I need the money to support my family," she said. Julius and her husband, Zablon, used to...
(APA 12/06/16)
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) says Africa can yield benefits from commodity-based industrialization and agro-alliance with new policy approaches, according to a statement issued here Tuesday. The ECA has on many editions of its annual Economic Report made a push for the developmental state and a return to planning, arguing that the strong role of the state is key to fostering Africa’s structural transformation. The acting ECA Executive Secretary Abdalla Hamdok spoke on the need for new policy approaches to incentivize agricultural production in activities and sectors with higher returns. In his remarks at the opening of the African Economic Conference on the theme, Feeding Africa: Towards Agro-Allied Industrialization for Inclusive Growth, Hamdok said: “Our desire for structural transformation...
(AfricaNews 12/05/16)
Cameroon’s Indomitable Lionesses failed to use home advantage and revenge in the final of the Women African Cup of Nations (AWCON 2016) losing by a goal to Nigeria’s Super Falcons. The Super Falcons thus successfully defended the title they won in 2014 by defeating Cameroon in Namibia. The hosts entered the final aiming to win their first title and avenge two previous defeats by Nigeria. But a late goal by Oparanozie Desire dashed hopes and sent disappointment through the teeming home fans. Desire slotted in from close range after a beautiful lob from team mate Ngozi Okobi hit a Cameroonian defender and fell on her path with six minutes to the end of the game. The remaining duration and three...
(Reuters (Eng) 12/02/16)
Women who join violent extremists such as Nigeria's Boko Haram are lured by the promise of power and influence they otherwise would not get in their everyday lives, a top expert said on Thursday. With that empowerment, women entangled in extremist groups are far more difficult than men to de-radicalise and reintegrate into their communities, said Fatima Akilu, executive director of the Neem Foundation, a nonprofit group aimed at countering extremism in Nigeria. Boko Haram is largely male, but women do volunteer to join what is one of the world's deadliest Islamist groups, said Akilu, speaking at Trust Women, an annual women's rights and trafficking conference hosted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Boko Haram militants have killed about 15,000 people...
(Voice of America 12/02/16)
Activists are using the women's Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon to campaign for the protection of the continent's forests and animal species. The campaign, called “Sports for Nature," is spearheaded by conservationist groups who say some of Africa's natural resources are on the verge of going extinct. In Yaounde, birds sing at a makeshift park near the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium, one of the sites of the 2016 women's football African Cup of Nations. Conservationist Nevielle Tanyi points toward a crocodile walking nearby and describes the danger it poses to workers trying to maintain a pond. "When we provoke the crocodile to leave the pond area, it goes toward the side where there is no water and it normally...

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