1South Africa’s Blended Cabinet
President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a new cabinet in which, for the first time in the country’s history, half of all ministers are women. In another unexpected move, one of the women is from the opposition. He appointed veteran opposition politician Patricia de Lille, who had stood for the Good Party, as minister of infrastructure development. South Africans have welcomed the move to have equal gender representation. Tanya Cohen from Business Unity South Africa (Busa) said it sent “good signals to have qualified ministers like Dr Naledi Pandor as International Relations minister”. Mr Ramaphosa reduced the amount of ministers in what he called a “bloated” cabinet from 36 to 28 ministers. However, the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party said in a statement that the idea that he had reduced the size of the cabinet was “the first sign of absolute dishonesty” because, at the same time, he had increased the number of deputy ministers. Mr Ramaphosa has pledged to root out corruption, but correspondents say eyebrows have been raised that he retained Deputy President David Mabuza. Mr Mabuza, a close ally of former President Jacob Zuma, denies allegations of involvement in political killings and illegal tenders.
2Kenya’s Coping Mechanism for the Drought
The country is facing one of the worst stretches of drought in years, causing underdevelopment, fights over water, and fears of starvation. However, a village in western Kenya is using a high-tech solution to water scarcity with so-called “digital wells” in a bid to improve local livelihoods and prevent waste. World Vision Kenya and the Nakuru County government funded the wells, giving residents access to clean drinking water, but also using a high-tech solution to prevent waste. Villagers use cards fitted with microchips and pre-loaded with money to dispense and pay for the water, helping to fund the costs of drilling wells. The project has brought much-needed water closer to home and extra income for locals. For the villagers of Solai, the access to clean, safe drinking water has literally taken a load off their backs.
3Old African Techniques are En Vogue
When European explorers discovered the Yoruba kingdoms in West Africa in the fifteenth century, they found a civilization already established over 500 years earlier. The culture spread across the world, partly as a result of the slave trade, with its vibrant artistic traditions, albeit fading, still felt as far as Cuba, Haiti and Brazil. Now, designers are reinventing ancient Yoruba crafts for their modern creations. Nigerian fashion brand Ethnik are using Aso Oke, a traditional Yoruba weaving technique, for the contemporary designs. Packed with vivid, blue, yellow and red patterns, Ethnik’s sneakers, bags and smartphone cases are a way for their customers to connect with their heritage through fashion. The apparel and footwear market in sub-Saharan Africa is on the rise, with a number of small companies competing for a share of the market. Valued at an estimated $31 billion in 2015, the market is expected to keep growing, according to research by Euromonitor.
4The Racial Undertones of Science
There has been justified outrage about a recently published—and hastily retracted—academic article written by academics from Stellenbosch University in South Africa. The article suggested that “coloured” women in South Africa “present with low cognitive function and which is significantly influenced by education”. Coloured is a racial classification legalized during apartheid for people of “mixed race”. This allegedly low cognition was also linked to unhealthy lifestyle behaviors. There’s a myriad of articles all pointing to one particularly important concept that’s been given a lot of attention in the debates – the notion of “race science”, which is also called scientific racism. The article and the opprobrium that followed are a reminder that race and racism are still deeply embedded in science, and must be exorcised. Race science concerns the use of science as a vehicle to advance racist agendas, or where race is used as a variable in science for the purpose of labeling certain groups of people negatively or defining them in deficit terms.
SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA
5The Fledgling Libyan Women’s Football Team
#TimesUp is a superbly made, stirring documentary that introduces us to what you might call Fadwa’s 11. In the film’s desperate final act, as the near-disbanded team fight to attend a showcase international tournament in Lebanon, it even starts to feel like one-last-job territory. The women’s courage and perseverance, as well as their enormous potential symbolic impact for Arab society, shows up Hollywood hashtag feminism for what it is. Filming over four years following the 2011 revolution, half-British, half-Libyan director Nahiza Arebi focuses on amiable player of the year Fadwa, ice-cream-loving goalkeeper Halima, and the lean and determined Naama, a refugee in Tripoli from Tawergha, 200km to the east. Horribly, the spirit of fear, control and national self-sabotage that dominates the country leaves them less leeway for their passion than the women of sharia Iran and Saudi Arabia.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
6Equatorial Guinea’s Dilemma
Even the purpose-built town built in 2011 at a cost of €600m to host a week-long AU summit and showcase the rise of the tiny oil-rich state has failed to attract visitors. For almost a decade, Sipopo has been the crown jewel in a strategy to lure high-end visitors to Equatorial Guinea to diversify an economy badly hit by a slump in oil revenue. A 16km drive from Equatorial Guinea’s capital, Malabo, the resort boasts a vast conference centre, the Sofitel Malabo Sipopo Le Golf hotel and 52 luxury villas — one for every head of state to attend the summit — each with its own swimming pool. There is also an 18-hole golf course, several restaurants and exclusive beaches guarded by police. A 1.5km beach — an artificial shore secluded from curious eyes — was virtually deserted, in contrast to a public beach near the capital. The three-lane highway leading from Malabo to Sipopo was mostly empty of traffic. A hospital was added after the villas were built, but is unused. A few travel firms offer trips tailor-made for both luxury and adventure, but they also allude to the difficulties, notably of being allowed to enter the country.
SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY LIVE
7Africa’s Biggest Wealth Fund Takes A New Direction
Senior executives from the Public Investment Corp.’s three biggest labor union contributors are set to be appointed to the interim board of the fund manager that’s being investigated over allegations of wrongdoing. Ivan Fredericks, the general manager of the Public Servants Association, and Mugwena Maluleke, the general secretary of the South African Democratic Teachers Union, could be appointed to the $135 billion fund manager as early as this week. The PIC’s current board offered to resign in February as testimony at a judicial inquiry brought to light a string of questionable investment decisions. The fund manager is on its third chief executive officer in six months and senior executives have been suspended. In a break with tradition, the new board, which will serve until the commission releases its findings. The PSA has 240,000 members, making it the biggest contributor by members to funds that ultimately flow to the PIC. Sadtu has about 230,000 members and Nehawu about 194,000.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA
8Banks Closed on Account of Strikes
Banks in the Sudanese capital Khartoum came to a virtual standstill on Wednesday as protest and opposition groups organised a second day of strikes to pressure military rulers to cede power to civilians. Several banks visited by a Reuters reporter were fully closed, and cash machines had not been restocked for several days. Employees at the central bank were also on strike. Participation in the strike has been partial, with buses and most air transport still operating. Shops including clothes and shoe retailers where people buy gifts ahead of Eid al-Fitr, the holiday ending the holy month of Ramadan next week, were open. But the strike has been widespread in the financial sector, already struggling from an economic crisis that led to shortages of fuel and cash and helped trigger 16 weeks of mass protests against Bashir’s rule.
SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA
9Nigerians are Waiting for Buhari to Say Something
President Muhammadu Buhari surprised many when he did not deliver a speech at his inauguration on Wednesday. The 76-year-old former military leader faces a long list of challenges, including combating a sluggish economy, high unemployment and a decade-old Islamic insurgency. Some social media users were critical of the absence of a speech. Software developer Tosin Olugbenga called it was a “missed opportunity”. “It is an opportunity for the president to speak to Nigerians and give further assurance of his commitment to a better Nigeria,” he said in a tweet.
SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS
10The World’s First Gin to Feature Elephant Poo
Indlovu gin is the world’s first gin to feature “elephant-foraged botanicals.” Golden in color, and distinctly earthy on the palate, it’s smooth enough to drink neat at 11 am, but it also likes to mingle with tonic, Cointreau and even coffee beans. A pair of scientists washed the dung in water, put it through a cleansing process akin to the one used to make borehole water drinkable and air-dried it. The result: a fluffy, strawlike substance.For centuries, elephant dung has been used by Africans to assuage labor pains, cure sinusitis and even quench thirst (as a last resort). Indlovu, means elephant in many south african languages, is not the only alcohol to use poop as its base, but it might be the only one that gives animals the freedom to ad-lib their own recipes. Every bottle is marked with geogrpahic coordinates denoting where the dung was foraged.