1Nigerian Boy Builds his Own Computer Games at 9
Basil Okpara Jr. is building a hide and seek game, using a free programming application called Scratch 2. The app allows users to create games, animations, and stories online or offline. So far, Basil has used it to generate more than 30 mobile games. “I learned how to build games at a boot camp. Now, I build to keep me busy when I am bored,” Basil told CNN. In March, his father signed him up for a five-day boot camp for children aged 5 to 15. The camp, organized by Codefest International, was put in place to give children like Basil access to emerging technologies like robotics and virtual reality. Basil, who wants to be a scientist in the future, titles his games based on what they are about. The games are still in their raw form and can currently only be accessed on computers that have Scratch 2 installed. But according to his father one of them, titled Frog attack, will be available to the public on Google play store in August.SOURCE: CNN
2Gloves Off in the Zambia vs Vedanta Row
The government of Zambia has defended its efforts to kick London-based copper miner Vedanta Resources out of the country, in an escalating row over tax and alleged underinvestment. The southern African nation’s national mining vehicle, ZCCM, is seeking to have Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), its partner in the country’s largest copper mine, placed into liquidation. Vedanta responded earlier this week by seeking to have the case referred to arbitration in South Africa. A South African court has ruled that the sale process should be halted but the government has pressed on regardless. One source within the Zambian tax authorities said the company owed about $100m in VAT, customs duties and other taxes, even once refunds due to the company were taken into account. The source added that KCM, which has previously been criticised over pollution, has also withheld $10m in dividend payments.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
3Building Green Breweries in Africa
Diageo, the British owner of iconic brands including Guinness and Johnny Walker, is going green at brewing sites across Africa with an ambitious $218 million investment drive. The beverages multinational will overhaul the electricity mix at its African brewing sites across the continent and install solar power, biomass boilers and new water recovery equipment. The spending consists of an initial $60 million upfront investment in equipment and installation with $158 million earmarked for long-term maintenance and operations costs. The plans are a key commitment in one of Diageo’s most important market with the continent currently accounting for 13% of its global sales. And there’s potential for significant upside as Africa’s $13 billion beer market is the fastest growing globally. But the increased focus of global brewers targeting market share in Africa (in some cases by producing both premium beer brands and locally brewed low-end options), also comes with the risk of alcohol-related health problems as the African market is doubly attractive for brewers given weaker regulation for sales and advertising compared to western markets.SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA
4Rwanda and Congo Discourage Travel across their Border
Travel restrictions are part of measures taken by Rwandan and Congolese health officials who met in Rwanda. According to a statement issued at the end of the meeting, people traveling across the border for non-essential reasons such as attending workshops and religious crusades will need clearance from both governments. The Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo has killed more than 1,800 people. Rwanda briefly closed its border with Congo last week after a patient tested positive for Ebola in Goma, a Congolese city of more than 2 million people about 7 kilometers from Rwanda’s main border town of Gisenyi.
5Protect, Support and Empower Girls in Lake Chad Region
As Lake Chad enters its 10th year of conflict, millions of young girls are being used and manipulated in grotesque ways. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), says the Lake Chad region (specifically in northeast Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger) is struggling with “the compounded impact of climate change, deep poverty, and violent extremism.” A report by Plan International has revealed that over 15% of girls aged 10-19 had been married at least once or were currently married. As a result, the levels of girls’ education have drastically decreased. Some initiatives include strengthening of social and emotional learning; building confidence; fostering relationships; harmonizing with their communities to build safe environments; economic empowerment and adequate education have been introduced to mitigate the circumstances. However, it is important to educate the boys as well, she noted.
6The World’s Top Cocoa Producers Coordinate on 2020-2021 Cocoa Bean Prices
Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have joined forces to impose a floor price for cocoa of $2,600 per tonne and a live income differential of $400 per tonne. “We will not sell the 2020-21 crop for below $2,600 per tonne,” Ivorian President Ouattara said in a televised address. He also said he wanted the guaranteed price for farmers to return to 2015 levels of $1.71 per kilogramme from the current level of $1.28 per kilogramme. The move is a dramatic change of course from only a few weeks ago. On July 16, Ghana and the Ivory Coast had given in to pressure from the global chocolate industry and lifted a month-long ban on cocoa sales that was meant to push international buyers to accept a $2,600-a-tonne minimum agreement. At the time, the two countries settled for a fixed premium price under which farmers in Ghana and the Ivory Coast would get $400 premium per every tonne of cocoa beans they sell during the 2020-2021 harvest season.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA
7South Africa Calls Out Airlines Flouting Procedures
The Department of Home Affairs has issued over R25 million in fines to airlines for bringing illegal foreigners to South Africa. In a recent parliamentary Q&A session, the department said that conveyance fines are issued to airlines where such contraventions occur. While the department did not provide information on how many foreigners travelled to the country, its fine data shows that Emirates is the biggest offender – receiving R6,960,000 in fines during 2017/18 and R2,670,000 in fines during 2016/17. The next biggest offenders were South African Airways (R4.4 million in fines in 2017/18) and Ethiopian Airlines (R4.1 million in fines in 2017/18). It added that no arrangements have been made with regards to ‘arrears’ as fines are not regarded as debt. These fines are typically given out to ‘inattentive’ airlines who did not properly follow procedure when checking passengers for valid documents.
8African Bank Sets Agenda for Regional Integration
Ethiopia and the African Development Bank Group have signed a $98 million grant agreement from the African Development Fund (ADF) to help finance phase one of the Ethiopia–Djibouti Road Transport Corridor Project. The total cost of the project is $255 million, comprising an ADF grant of $98 million to the government of Ethiopia, an ADF grant of $5.3 million to the government of Djibouti and a co-financing contribution of $151 million by the government of Ethiopia. The project will kick off in 2020 and be implemented over a five-year period. The ADF grant to land-locked Ethiopia’s road transport sector is part of the Bank’s efforts to boost regional integration and connectivity, especially access to seaports. The project consists of the construction of the first 60 km of a 4-lane expressway section of the new 126 km stretch from Adama to Awash and includes the design of a one-stop border post at Dewele. The project will enhance trade by significantly reducing transport costs, thereby accelerating the economic growth of Ethiopia and its neighbour Djibouti, as it is part of the main import-export corridor. The expressway is expected to improve access to markets for farmers and rural communities. Other beneficiaries include some 3,000 truck-drivers who work the 900 km between Djibouti and Addis Ababa, and youths, who will receive over 95% of the job opportunities during the construction phase.SOURCE: AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK
9Madagascar’s First Locally Owned Sea-cucumber Farm
In much of the Far East, sea cucumbers are a delicacy, fetching a high price for their purported health benefits. In Tampolove, a tiny windswept village of mud huts and sandy paths squeezed between the coast and the forest in south-west Madagascar, they have provided a major boost to the local economy and environment. The delicacy is transforming the lives of people who have typically earned no more than a dollar a day, while at the same time helping to alleviate the pressure on marine species. Sea cucumbers belong to the echinoderm family, along with starfish and urchins, and come in all shapes and sizes. They spend their days buried in silt, emerging at night to feed, sifting through the sediment for particles, a practice that provides an essential filtration service that benefits the wider ecosystem. n 2004 the local community, with the support of a British NGO, Blue Ventures, came together to decide what to do about the rapid decline in fish and octopus stocks in their coastal waters. They set up an association, comprising representatives from several villages on this stretch of coast, whose responsibility it would be to manage fishing and the environment. They called the protected area Velondriake, which translates from the Vezo language as “to live with the sea”.
10Egypt’s Hajj Season is Written All Over the Walls
Eid Al Salwaawi, 69, paints murals of the rituals of the hadj pilgrimage on the walls of a house in Cairo’s Sayeda Zainab neighbourhood. Sometimes he volunteers to paint scenes that celebrate the hadj and religious stories and lessons, other times he is paid. Every year, Muslims travel from around the world to the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia to complete the hadj, one of the five pillars of their faith. This year’s hadj will conclude on Sunday. Salwaawi said the hdaj scenes he saw on the walls of houses in his home village as a child in northern Aswan captured his imagination. He uses simple tools like a handmade palm frond brush and a mixture of paint, vinegar, rosewater, gum Arabic and glue. He adorns his works with prayers and Koranic verses. Each mural takes him between two and three hours.
SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS