1A Cocktail to Combat Malaria
A genetically modified fungus that kills malaria-carrying mosquitoes could provide a breakthrough in the fight against the disease, according to researchers. Trials in Burkina Faso found that a fungus, modified so that it produces spider toxin, quickly killed large numbers of mosquitos that carry malaria. Within 45 days, mosquito populations were drastically reduced by more than 90%, according to researchers at the University of Maryland and the IRSS research institute in Burkina Faso. Researchers selected a fungus, Metarhizium pingshaense, which naturally infects malaria-carrying mosquitoes. This fungus was then genetically modified so that it would produce a toxin found in the venom of a species of funnel-web spider. Laboratory trials showed that the genetically modified fungus killed mosquitoes more quickly, with fewer spores, than wild fungus, according to the study, published in the journal Science.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
2Making an African Phone for African Users
For Chinese phone manufacturer Transsion, localization isn’t just a marketing strategy: it’s the secret ingredient that has placed it ahead of all its competitors in Africa. The company has bet on African consumers by making affordable handsets with advanced features using an aggressive distribution network. The Shenzhen-based firm has risen as a dark horse in the mobile hardware market by instituting “micro innovations” propitious to its African customers including multiple SIM slots, long battery life, as well as user-friendly designs that support local languages like Swahili or Ethiopia’s Amharic. But one feature that has distinguished its devices is their camera-centric nature and their ability to calibrate exposures for darker skin tones. As its key focus market, Transsion has thousands of employees across Africa, working in production lines in its Ethiopian factory and as in-design and user interface personnel in Kenya and Nigeria. After conducting an in-depth analysis of consumers’ photo habits and needs, the company found photo quality was important to not just younger consumers but increasingly wider age demographics. Phone cameras, especially front camera exposure, was the first feature customers inspected when considering buying a new mobile phone.
SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA
3Growing Independent Voices after the Arab Spring
The newspaper where Lina Attalah was working went under at the worst possible time. It was April 2013, and Egypt was at a crossroads. So she rallied former colleagues to establish a new, independent outlet. They called it Mada Masr — the first word means “range” or “span” in Arabic, and the second “Egypt.” On June 30 that year, the website launched to cover the mass protests against Morsi, whom Egyptians were angry with for trying to force through an Islamist constitution by presidential decree and for the chaos in the streets and a slumping economy. Three days later, on July 3, a military coup deposed Morsi and opened the door for Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s authoritarian rule. Egypt was now deeply divided, but Mada Masr continued reporting with balance. “At the time, many media outlets had taken steps back in terms of reporting accurately and with integrity,” says Attalah, now 36. “I thought Mada Masr was going to serve as an important record of the history of the country.”Six years later, Attalah is the chief editor of Egypt’s only independent media outlet, with 124,000 followers on Twitter and 241,000 on Facebook. But Mada Masr isn’t alone. It’s among a growing number of independent Arabic digital outlets that are emerging as fresh sources of news in a region where tyrants and oligarchs have for decades controlled the media. The next challenge for outlets like 7iber and Mada Masr is to expand beyond their core followers of young progressive millennials and activists.
4Will Elections Settle Sudan’s Impasse?
The country’s ruling military council has called for an election after troops stormed the main camp of pro-democracy protestors and killed at least 35 people in a crackdown which has drawn international condemnation. Hundreds were injured Monday in the capital Khartoum when the military tried to break up the opposition sit-in, according to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors, which is close to the protestors. The demonstrators have demanded that the Transitional Military Council, which has ruled the country since troops ousted longtime President Omar al-Bashir in April, make way for a civilian-led interim body. After the coup the military council and opposition groups agreed on a three-year transition to democracy. But in a broadcast early Tuesday, the council’s leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan called for national elections within nine months.
5Mobile Health Caravan Initiative in The Gambia
In an effort to strengthen the psychosocial reintegration of returnees and promote universal access to healthcare in their communities, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), community health volunteers and doctors provide free medical consultations, psychosocial support and complimentary medicine to over 200 community members through the mobile health caravan. Simultaneously, health education sessions on HIV, tuberculosis, depression and other mental health-related disorders are conducted daily. the initiative was designed to address the medical and psychosocial concerns of returnees who often return from difficult and traumatic experiences, and their communities, who are equally impacted by the departure or loss of lives of their families and friends. Returnees identified with medical or psychosocial needs are followed up by IOM staff and referred to relevant health authorities. his initiative came as a result of an analysis of conflict drivers in The Gambia conducted by the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office, in which the stigma and negative perceptions faced by returnees were identified. The caravans were designed to include communities in the reintegration process. The first two caravans are the beginning of a series of 10 planned events, which will all take place in communities with the highest number of returnees. Prior to each caravan, health volunteers in the community are trained on the provision of psychological first aid and basic counselling skills.
SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS
6Why is Kenya Replacing its Banknotes?
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced that the country’s currency is to be replaced with a new generation of banknotes. Kenyans must return their 1000 shilling ($10) notes to banks by 1 October, in a bid to fight money laundering, counterfeits and corruption. New banknotes are to be brought in over the coming months with other denominations being phased out gradually. The governor of Kenya’s central bank, Patrick Njoroge, also expressed “grave concern” over larger banknotes being used for “illicit financial flows in Kenya and also other countries in the region”. The note is the highest value note in Kenya and according to Mr Njoroge, the Kenyan shilling is the equivalent to the US dollar in east Africa, in terms of its recognition.
7South Africa’s CEO Purge
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s mission to fix two of South Africa’s most troubled state companies, power firm Eskom and South African Airways (SAA), could take longer than planned after their chief executives quit within a week of each other. Investors say the CEOs’ resignations could slow the implementation of turnaround plans seen as critical to shoring up confidence in Africa’s most industrialised economy, which has for years struggled to grow and whose last investment-grade credit rating is hanging by a thread.The roles at Eskom and SAA are some of the most challenging in corporate South Africa, with fierce disagreements over how the companies should operate, meaning it will be difficult to find replacement leaders quickly. Eskom is choking under $30.3 billion of debt — equivalent to around 9 percent of South Africa’s 2018 gross domestic product — and this year implemented some of the worst power cuts in several years.
SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA
8Ghana And Ethiopian Airlines To Create National Ghana Airlines
Africa’s largest airline, Ethiopian Airlines, and the government of Ghana have signed a strategic partnership agreement to set up a new national carrier in Accra, Ghana. The proposed airline will be a home based airline that would be established by Ethiopian Airlines in collaboration with the government of Ghana and the private sector. The government of Ghana and the private sector will have a minimum of 51 percent stake in the proposed airline while Ethiopian will hold up to 49 percent interest in the new national airline. Following the demise of Ghana Airways and Ghana International Airlines the West African economic powerhouse does not have a national airline. In 2016 the government of Ghana invited international airlines who are interested in forging a strategic partnership to establish a home based national carrier in Accra. Ethiopian Airlines, Air Mauritius and indigenous carrier Africa World Air presented their expression of interest to the Ghanaian Ministry of Transport.
9Back from the Front Line
Nearly 2,000 former child vigilantes who fought against Boko Haram have returned to their homes in northeast Nigeria. The United Nations says some of the children took up arms to help the army fight the armed group an allegation officials deny. The UN wants the disengagement process to help children caught up in violence have a chance at a normal life with hundreds of the former fighters have since returned to school.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA
10Cameroon’s Forest Tribes Use Insects to Supplement Diet
The palm weevil grub, a fat worm found in palm trees, is such a popular source of protein that it has squirmed from the forest into the villages and even urban restaurants.These larvae are extremely rich in essential food nutrients; they contain proteins, carbohydrates, fats and energy values comparable to those of beef and fish. They are also an excellent source of a range of minerals and vitamins. The exploitation and trade of weevil grubs is an important source of income for forest dependent communities in the Congo Basin. Grub farming system has proved to be more productive and sustainable than both the traditional collection and the semi-farming methods. This farming system could be used to produce grubs at any time of the year, thereby providing an opportunity for year-round availability of these nutritious insects, while securing their place as an important alternative to protein and a valuable income source in Cameroon.