Africa Top10 News

1Picking up the Pieces after Cyclone Idai

Cyclone Idai

Rescue efforts in eastern Zimbabwe picked up the pace on Tuesday in distressed areas from Cyclone Idai’s trail of destruction with nearly 100 people dead and hundreds missing. Poor weather conditions and destroyed infrastructure hampered efforts by the military and humanitarian agencies to reach thousands of stranded people. Mozambique has been hardest hit with the president saying more than 1,000 people may have been killed. Dozens have also died in Malawi. Bulldozers and road graders struggled through the night to clear obstructed muddy roads in parts of the Chipinge and Chimanimani districts.


2Rallying Behind Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines

Financiers, passengers and industry partners are, for now, still backing Ethiopian Airlines’ quest to become Africa’s dominant carrier, despite a March 10 crash that killed 157 people.  Passenger confidence in Ethiopian Airlines, long regarded as one of the most reliable in Africa, has remained steady, according to the company. Cancellation and booking rates are unchanged since the crash, said spokesman Asrat Begashaw. “Ethiopian is a solid company,” said one, an official from an international bank that helped finance the acquisition of some Ethiopian Airlines planes. “No reason to change the way the bank sees its credit risk at this point.” Analysts said the crash was unlikely to damage Ethiopian’s partnerships with African carriers, key to a strategy that helped increase passenger numbers from 2.5 million a decade ago to 10.6 million last year, or with other industry players. Ethiopian Airlines, which grounded its handful of remaining 737 MAX planes, said it would decide whether to cancel orders for 29 others after a preliminary investigation.


3Giving Zimbabweans in the Diaspora Access to Key Documentation

Documentation Zimbabwe

The parliamentary portfolio committee on Defence and Home Affairs has proposed that Zimbabwean embassies be allowed to process births and deaths, marriages, citizenship, national identity documents, and issue travel documents including passports and temporary travel documents. Currently, Zimbabweans living abroad are required to submit passport applications to the Zimbabwe Embassy in that country or the nearest embassy in neighbouring countries, for onward transmission of the applications to Harare. If there are no embassies, applicants have to come back home before their passports expire for renewal. Research shows that over three million Zimbabweans live in the Diaspora, in countries like the United Kingdom, US, Australia and New Zealand, with South Africa having the highest number of nearly 2.2 million Zimbabweans.


4African Countries Reviewing Gay Rights

Gay Rights Africa

Botswana’s High Court is considering a challenge to the provisions of the penal code criminalising consensual same-sex relations in the country. It will hand down its judgment in June. The challenge raises similar legal issues as the one pending at the Kenya High Court, which is due for a decision in May. Same sex relations are outlawed under Botswana’s penal code. These prohibitive sections were inherited from the colonial penal code of Bechuanaland, as Botswana was then known. Section 164 prohibits “unnatural offences” defined as “carnal knowledge against the order of nature”. The section prohibits oral and anal sex for both homosexual and heterosexual couples. Those found to have broken this law face up to seven years in prison. Attempting to engage in unnatural offences is also illegal and offenders can spend up to five years in prison under Section 165.


5Elephants and Building Workers Share a Crowded Africa

Poaching in southern Kenya

Poaching in southern Kenya is largely under control now, thanks to the numbers of rangers in place, but there is a bigger issue these days: the invasion of humankind into the wildlife habitat and the conflict that ensues. This tension is depicted in This Empty World, a series of shots taken by Nick Brandt in southern Kenya in 2017. Each work is a composite of two images: the animals photographed first and the humans second, shot weeks apart. The project took place on Maasai community ranchland, near Amboseli National Park, a location that had both wildlife habitat and unprotected land inhabited by people. Brandt says “I also wanted it to be extremely denuded, due to overgrazing: the dust was important from an aesthetic point of view. Conceptually, I needed images of animals appearing to be in a state of alarm or melancholy. I wanted the final pairings of humans and beasts to convey a shared sense of loss. In this shot, there is an obvious sense of displacement and alarm, which is exactly what is happening all across Africa.”


6Job Call in Zambia Raises Eyebrows


Hundreds of Zambians have so far applied to be employed as maids and drivers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait.  Last month, UAE and Kuwait requested the southern African nation to provide 1,000 citizens to work as drivers and maids in the two countries. Minister of Finance Margaret Mwanakatwe told media that medical and police screening processes have already started. She said government had engaged a recruitment agency to receive applications and that once the screening process is completed, those selected will be advised on the dos and don’ts while working in the two countries. Ms Mwanakatwe said government will keep constant contact with those who will be selected through the Zambian embassy in those countries. However, other citizens took to social media questioning the offer given the poor labour records in the two countries.


7Remote Parts of Mali Now Offer Free Medical Care

Free Medical Care Mali

The United Nations Mission in Mali recently deployed armed peacekeepers to the landlocked African nation. The country has been in turmoil since the government temporarily lost control of the north in 2012. Most of the patients are elderly people with chronic articular diseases, like arthritis, and ocular problems in particular. “There are some illnesses that we cannot treat with the limited resources that we have here. Diseases like cataracts and glaucoma…those are diseases that need more specialised treatment. We do not have all the necessary paraphernalia, but we are doing our best even against the recurrent diseases we find”, said Lt. Tafsir Gueye, a Senegalese medical officer serving with MINUSMA.


8Counting Calories and Job Cuts with South Africa’s Sugar Tax

South Africa's Sugar Tax

South Africa’s unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, and now the country’s rates of diseases like diabetes are also rising. The two rates are now pitted against each other, as a tax aimed at reducing the consumption of sugary drinks and improving citizens’ health in the long-run, is said to be leading to short-term job losses. But critics of the industry’s calculations say a drop in international prices and dumping has led to the perceived crisis in the sugar industry. Health experts, who prefer to refer to the tax as “the health promotion levy,” have accused the sugar industry of exaggeration. Sue Goldstein, a researcher with Priority Cost Effective Lessons for System Strengthening South Africa (Priceless SA) at the University of the Witwatersrand, argues that the 7% loss to GDP caused by healthcare requirements and missed work due to illnesses like diabetes, which will be the leading cause of death by 2040.


9South Africa’s Electricity Woes Mount

South Africa's Electricity

The country’s power supplier Eskom and government officials have started planning for Stage 5 and Stage 6 load shedding, according to officials who say that there is a race against time to ensure that a national blackout and grid collapse does not happen. Stage 5 and Stage 6 load shedding imply shedding 5000 MW and 6000 MW respectively. For businesses and residential consumers, it means more frequent cuts of the same duration. An extensive briefing by Eskom executives and the Department of Public Enterprises on Tuesday has made it clear that the national power supply is more precarious than previously understood. South Africa has bought all available diesel on the high seas (to run emergency power), maintenance of power plants is in crisis because boiler tubes are bursting at eight units across three power stations and there is a planned strike early in April.


10The First Long-distance Hiking Trail in Egypt’s Mainland

Hiking Trail in Egypt

The Red Sea Mountain Trail is 170-km long and is usually completed in 10 days and led by local Bedouins. At this stage hikers aren’t yet allowed to do the trail on their own. Adventurers only cover about 15-20km a day, but there are some intense elevations in the mountains along the way. There is an alternative, easier route at every point on the Red Sea Mountain Trail and hikers can also do a mix of the main route and the easier one. Hikers will have to carry their own food, water and sleeping gear, but will get to see the arresting beauty of the desert plains, deep gorges, rugged summits up high, crumbling Roman towns, and prehistoric rock art.