Africa Top10 News

1East Africa Needs to Take Care of its Waters

East African Fish

A thriving trade in fish maw – made from the swim bladders of fish – could lead to the extinction of the Nile perch fish in east Africa’s Lake Victoria. Demand for fish maw has spawned such a lucrative business enterprise in the region that it is raising concerns of overfishing. The high profits involved mean that traders keep a low profile, and are secretive about their haul’s eventual destination, according to the women who gut the perch to extract the precious maw. Fish maw has various uses, including the manufacture of surgical sutures, but it is also a delicacy in China, where it is served in soups or stews in addition to being used as a source of collagen. It is also used to make water-resistant glue and in the production of isinglass, a refining agent involved in the manufacture of beer and wine. Ironically, Nile perch is an invasive species. It was introduced to Lake Victoria in 1950, and has been blamed for the disappearance of the native fish and interfering with the lake’s ecosystem. But it is now an important part of the local economy. According to a report commissioned by the German development agency GIZ in collaboration with the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation in August 2018, the Chinese agents supplying maw had better opportunities for business growth compared with others in Uganda. There is still little knowledge of this trade in the region, and this in itself contributes to unsustainable fishing. For example no guidelines or policy exist to regulate the fish swim bladder trade in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.


2One of the Continent’s Worst Polluters Transitions to Lower Emissions

SA's carbon tax

South Africa’s long-delayed carbon tax has been enshrined in law, in its efforts to meet agreements on global climate change. The tax was first mooted in 2010 but has been postponed at least three times after mining companies, steelmakers and state-owned power utility Eskom said it would erode profit and push up electricity prices. The first phase of the tax is from 1 June to December 2022, with a tax rate of $8.34 (R120) per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent. Allowable tax breaks will reduce the effective rate to between R6 and R48 per tonne of CO2. Big energy users, including Sibanye-Stillwater and ArcelorMittal’s South African operation, had previously opposed plans to enact carbon tax laws, saying the levies are unaffordable and should be scrapped or delayed. Local and overseas climate activists, however, believe the tax response falls short of emissions targets the country signed up for in the 2015 Paris Agreement. The tax is considered “highly insufficient” by the Climate Action Tracker group.


3Nigerian Teens Challenge Tradition

Nigerian Teens

Kudirat Abiola, 15, Temitayo Asuni, 15 and Susan Ubogu, 16, want to change the law on child marriage in Nigeria. The girls started an online petition to get lawmakers to close the legal loopholes that currently enable men to enter marriages with girls under 18. But they are unfazed by things others their age might be. More than a third of girls in Nigeria end up in child marriages, and with 22 million married before the age of 18, the nation has among the highest number of child brides in Africa, according to a 2018 UNICEF report. Campaigning for human rights is second nature to Abiola, who comes from a family of prominent activists. Abiola’s grandmother, also called Kudirat, fought for Nigeria’s democracy before she was assassinated in 1996. It came three years after the military jailed Moshood Kola Abiola, the apparent victor of the annulled 1993 presidential elections and the teenage activist’s grandfather. Ubogu taught herself to code at age 10 after taking lessons on the internet and already has a software company with two games in the Google Play store. The math geek says no girl should be denied her education because of marriage. Asuni says she has been reading newspaper articles of young girls being married off to men old enough to be their fathers since elementary school. The 15-year-old says she felt helpless about it until she met Ubogu and Abiola at a workshop in December organized by local NGO to educate students about the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The girls’campaign NeverYourFault specifically takes aim at a clause in Section 29 of the Nigerian constitution they say backs underage marriage.


4Tensions in Botswana’s Ruling Party 

Botswana's Ruling Party

Botswana has announced the lifting of its ban on elephant hunting, attributing its decision to an apparent rise in “human-elephant conflict” caused by rising elephant numbers. Conservationists, however, criticized the move as not being grounded in science and said it could have negative effects on Botswana’s thriving wildlife-driven tourism industry. Botswana is home to the world’s largest elephant population, with about 130,000 living in the southern African country, according to conservationists. After diamonds, tourism is Botswana’s biggest foreign-income earner. The government banned hunting elephants in 2014 at the direction of then-President Ian Khama, a staunch conservationist. But the ban has been controversial in Botswana, where advocates for lifting the ban say the growing number of elephants has affected locals’ livelihoods. Khama over the weekend quit the governing BDP which has ruled since independence more than half a century ago, citing deep differences between him and his successor.


5Top 5 Opportunities for Investment in Djibouti

Investment in Djibouti

Bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea and situated between Eritrea and Somalia, Djibouti is the route to the sea for African countries such as South Sudan and Ethiopia. Ethiopian imports and exports account for more than 65% of the port activity at Djibouti’s container terminal. In the absence of a local Djiboutian consumer base, the foreign military presence provides a major portion of the consumer spending. The Somalis, known as big players in the trading and informal Djiboutian market, place their cash in real estate to avoid having money in banks. The country is also home to internationally renowned scuba diving places in the north. Unfounded and founded security concerns have kept the tourism sector from growing. At the same time, Djibouti’s touristic areas could use a heavy boost from investment in moderately priced, quality hotels as well as other touristic amenities. Salt production, logistics and education are also key sectors.


6Sub-Saharan Africa is Set to Get its First Bullet Train 

First Bullet Train Africa

The 571km-long cross-border railway project dubbed the Isaka-Kigali SGR project linking landlocked Rwanda with Tanzania’s port at Dar es Salaam will cost US$2.5billion to complete. In a joint announcement, Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure Claver Gatete and Tanzania’s transportation minister Isack Kamwelwe declared the cost was established by an initial study.The cost will be split between the two nations with Tanzania forking out US$1.3bn and Rwanda US$1.2bn. The first 400km from Dar to Dodoma is currently underway and being built by Turkish/Portuguese consortium. The cross-border railway project will enable landlocked Rwanda to access the Dar es Salaam port in Tanzania. The line will also support the transfer of goods from Dar es Salaam port to Burundi and Congo. The Isaka-Kigali SGR project linking Isaka township in Tanzania with the Rwandan capital, Kigali was initially planned to be powered by diesel before it was switched to electric. Once complete, it is expected to provide improved railway connectivity and reduce freight transportation costs in the East Africa region.


7Nigerians Scammed in Russian Football Gig

Nigerians Scammed

At around the time of the 2018 World Cup, several Nigerian men travelled to Russia on a promise. Agents in the African country had led them to believe that they would enjoy professional footballing careers in Russia, and they arrived with “fan-ID”, which provided visa-free entry. Almost a year later, some remain stranded in Russia having witnessed the ugliest side of the football business. They had been scammed. As they remained undocumented, the men suffered enormously. Alternativa, an NGO which fights forced labour and human trafficking in Russia is a reliable resource for foreigners in difficult situations in the country, and has been helping Africans stuck in Russia. Several Nigerian women, who were also lured during the World Cup by “agents” back home promising work, were soon forced into prostitution, often by fellow Nigerians in Moscow. Alternativa says it has helped some 40 scammed African footballers so far, but there are more and not only from Nigeria.


8Rwanda’s Total Ban of Second Hand Imports Boosts Local Designers

Rwanda's Total Ban

At first glance, Matthew Rugamba’s big break was the result of pure serendipity. Since 2011, he has built a loyal following for his House of Tayo brand, fusing African heritage with contemporary designs to create brightly colored, mixed-print items like bow ties and infinity scarves. But he had struggled to break out from the local fashion scene. That changed in 2018, with the premiere of one of the most anticipated movies of the year: Black Panther, when Lupita Nyong’o’s brother wore his suit. But it wasn’t just luck, hustle, and connections that propelled Rugamba to the Hollywood red carpet. Rwanda, a small nation of 12 million people, has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with aspirations of becoming a middle-income nation by 2035. And Rugamba is the beneficiary of one of a series of homegrown initiatives aimed at sustaining high and inclusive growth in different industries—including the country’s nascent fashion scene. One of those initiatives is “Made in Rwanda,” launched in 2015, which aims to recapture parts of the Rwandan market from imports while improving the competitiveness of Rwandan exports globally. How? By boosting (pdf) private businesses and the manufacturing sector, augmenting garment and leather production, reducing operation costs, and helping small businesses, like Rugamba’s, get finance from the government or commercial banks.


9First African Woman to Win the Grand Prix at Cannes Film Festival 

Mati Diop

French-Senagalese director Mati Diop has become the first black female director to win an award in Cannes’ 72-year history.  Diop took home the Grand Prix – the equivalent of a silver prize – for her film  Atlantics, a Senegalese drama about sexual politics among young migrants.  The 36-year-old had previously said she was a “little sad” to make history as the first woman of African descent to even have a film screened at the festival. “My first feeling to be the first black female director was a little sadness that this only happened today in 2019. I knew it as I obviously don’t know any black women who came here before. I knew it but it’s always a reminder that so much work needs to be done still.”


10Social Media Abuzz with Ethiopia’s Map Blunder

Ethiopia's Map Blunder

Ethiopia’s foreign ministry has apologised after a map of Africa on its website incorporated neighbouring Somalia within its own borders. “We sincerely regret any confusion and misunderstanding this incident might have caused,” the statement said. Somalia had been completely erased from the map, but the self-declared territory of Somaliland – which is not internationally recognised – was shown. The neighbours have long been rivals, fighting borders wars in the past. But relations between the two countries have improved since Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power last year as he has sought to defuse tensions in the region. The map has caused an uproar on social media, with Somalis saying it reveals a wider plan by Ethiopia to annex their country. Others hit back, with their own version of a map of Africa, incorporating Ethiopia into Somalia. Some have noticed other problems with the map published on the Ethiopian website, for example, it showed that the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo had become one country and it did not show South Sudan, which split from Sudan in 2011.