Africa Top10 News

1Environmentally-friendly Furniture Maker Strives to be the IKEA of Africa

Ciiru Waweru

Ciiru Waweru is a Kenyan entrepreneur who deploys the latest technology in her furniture factory, using computer-controlled cutting machines to make children-friendly fittings. Yet every day, a donkey cart delivers water to the FunKidz workshop located in Kikuyu town, just 20 kilometers (12 miles) northwest of the capital Nairobi. Water supply isn’t her only challenge: electricity is unreliable too and the facility has to use diesel generators time and again. Besides reducing productivity, these factors make the production process more expensive, hindering the final products’ competitiveness in the local and global market. Almost a decade since starting her company, FunKidz has however distinguished itself as a quality furniture brand, spreading beyond Kenya’s borders. FunKidz’s strategy aligns with a slew of programs launched in Kenya in the past year aimed at enabling sustainable businesses and planting 1.8 billion trees. Even as the East African nation aims to enhance its manufacturing sector from 9.2% to 20% of its gross domestic product by 2022, businesses have been encouraged to adopt climate mitigating practices and green technologies. Waweru says she’s struggled with training and retaining women at her factory but hopes her new business model will create a supply chain that employs more women, especially farmers, who can be paid to collect, shred, dry and package the waste. This also plays into her hope that authorities would boost small-scale, decentralized manufacturing businesses that can make products that are currently exported.


2Ghana Prepares for its First Digital Population and Housing Census

Ghana Population Census

Next March, the country will be joining Swaziland, Malawi and Kenya as one of the first countries in Africa to collect data electronically. The country’s previous census in 2010 were paper questionnaires which took months to gather and assemble the data, and around 3% of the population was left out of the survey. Now the government will be going digital, using tablets and satellite images to improve the reach of enumerators and make sure everyone in Ghana is counted on census night. The census is expected to cost $84 million, around 50% more than the last census. The government has contracted around 60,000 enumerators, but is still working with the United Nations on how best to source the 65,000 tablets required to conduct the surveys. Together with the homeless, they are the “floating population” whom government statisticians want to capture better in their database. And the stakes are higher this time, as the census will play a key part in the nationwide rollout of biometric ID cards launched by President Nana Akufo-Addo in 2017. The new Ghana Card requires a digital address code, many of which will be generated by enumerators during the census.


3Providing Relief for African Girls During that ‘Time of the Month’


When non-profit organization Femme International gave each girl at Ghona a pack of AFRIpads — reusable pads that last as long as eight hours and are effective for up to a year — it was a game changer, especially for girls from poorer backgrounds who were using old rugs as pads. In rural Tanzania, most women and girls on their period use “kanga,” layered pieces of thick, colorful fabric used for making traditional east African dresses. The stiff material gets wet quickly and often leads to urinary tract infections. Girls and women say they live in constant fear of bleeding through. There are no global statistics on how many girls miss school because of their periods, but anecdotal evidence shows that period absenteeism is common across much of the developing world. In Tanzania, 16% of girls say their periods keep them out of school, research by the Tanzania Water and Sanitation Network found. Girls are suffering fewer illnesses since using AFRIpads, made from absorbent, quick-drying fabric, that secures to underwear with snaps, Goodwine said. The school’s headmaster Peter Mushi said attendance has improved after the girls got AFRIpads. He doesn’t have precise figures, but said the effect was “noticeable.”


4Checking Up on Rwandans 25 Years On

Rwandans 25 Years On

A Rwandan genocide survivor touring all 30 of the country’s provinces says he has been struck by the kindness of the people he has encountered on the way. Hyppolite Ntigurirwa is halfway through a 1,500km (932 mile) “peace walk”, marking 25 years since the 100-day genocide of 1994. He says he was perhaps most touched by the support of a young girl who wanted to join the walk and even offered to carry his bags but found they were too heavy. Now aged 32, Ntigurirwa was seven years old at the time of the genocide. He says the trauma of the past still gives him nightmares. “Forgiving is a journey and you can only do it if you think about the generations to come. It’s the hardest path you can take but it’s the one that can bring what we want in the world.” Today, his family has gone to great efforts to “invite these people who we knew who killed my relatives and my cousins… They now come in our ceremonies and they enjoy what we enjoy.” He hopes his 100-day walk can bring together other Rwandans in the same spirit. He says anyone he encounters is welcome to join him.


5Using Dance to Entice Africa’s New Crop of Farmers

She made a name for herself as the choreographer behind one of the most controversial yet critically acclaimed music videos of last year. Now Sherrie Silver, the creative force behind the dance moves in Childish Gambino’s This Is America, is using her success to drive a social media campaign promoting investment in young people in rural Africa. The 24-year-old, told the Guardian she is on a mission to “make farming cool”, recently visited Cameroon where she carried out dance workshops with farmers and entrepreneurs, before creating the music video Freedom. Silver travelled to the village of Ndjore in the district of Mbandjock, an area with high levels of poverty and youth unemployment. The choreographer, born in Rwanda but raised in London, shot the video as part of a campaign for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad). It features some of the 2,000 young people in Cameroon who have benefited from start-up grants from Ifad to launch their own businesses.


6Cleaning Up Liberia’s Coffers

President George Weah announced an overhaul of the central bank’s leadership to restore confidence in an institution that has been beset by scandals and hampered efforts to deal with an economic crisis. The government will open nominations for a vetting committee to appoint the bank’s new leadership, said Weah. In July 2018, Weah ordered that $25 million should be injected in the economy to mop-up excess liquidity of Liberian dollars. An investigation by the state auditor found that only $17 million was used for this purpose. A separate inquiry into the alleged disappearance of about $100 million in cash that was printed abroad found that while no money was missing, there were lapses in the accuracy and completeness of the central bank’s internal records.


7What Nigeria Needs from Buhari’s Second Term

Muhammadu Buhari has been sworn in for a second term as Nigeria’s president as he vowed to tackle security threats and root out corruption. The 76-year-old leader was sworn in amid tight security in the Nigerian capital Abuja. He did not make a speech during the low-profile event attended by members of the diplomatic community. Nnamdi Obasi, Nigeria researcher at the International Crisis Group (ICG), told Al Jazeera that persisting tensions in the northeast region could escalate into more violence. Herders and farmers continue to fight  over land and water in Nigeria’s fertile central region, with the clashes between them claiming hundreds of lives and displacing thousands more. Oil sales account for the majority of the country’s foreign exchange reserves but communities in the oil-producing Niger Delta area have continued to complain of government neglect. The unemployment rate has more than doubled to 23 percent since Buhari assumed office in 2015, while Nigeria has 90 million people living in extreme poverty, more than than any other country, according to findings based on a projection by the World Poverty Clock and compiled by the Brookings Institution. Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and economic analysts say the next four years offer another opportunity to fix the problems.


8The Senegalese Opening that Pulled Big Names in Showbiz

It’s Sunday night in Dakar, and Naomi Campbell is vaping. Alicia Keys is taking selfies with fans by the open bar, her husband, the producer Swizz Beatz, bobs his head nearby and Kehinde Wiley, the American artist who brought everyone here, is dancing so close to the infinity pool that some guests at the launch party for his new residency program — Black Rock Senegal — wonder aloud if he’ll fall in. Black Rock, named after the volcanic stones on the shore, is a departure from many art projects in Africa, which tend to be supported by or commissioned with foreign money. Outside pressure can hinder free expression, experts say, when creators feel pushed to cater to tourists or aid workers.Wiley, who was born in Los Angeles to an African American mother and a Nigerian father, is known for his polychromatic renderings of black models with old school twists. He first visited Dakar two decades ago on a layover from Nigeria, where he’d gone to find his estranged dad, an architecture professor in the southern state of Akwa Ibom. Wiley’s program has grabbed the brightest spotlight, thanks to the buzz in 2018 from his official portrait of former president Barack Obama. The presence of his top model and Grammy-winning pals doesn’t hurt, either.