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   Strategies & Market TrendsAfrica and its Issues- Why Have We Ignored Africa?


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From: TimF2/19/2018 6:09:12 PM
2 Recommendations   of 1225
 
On the List of Good News Under-Reported By the Media, This is Near The Top of the List
February 8, 2018

This is really staggeringly good news. Malaria has, through history, been one of the deadliest infectious diseases (though of late my understanding is that it has been surpassed by HIV). One of the problems with malaria is that for every death, many more are rendered unable to work for long periods of time, a drag on productivity in economies that already have trouble producing sufficient food and other goods.


coyoteblog.com

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To: TimF who wrote (1208)3/27/2018 6:19:51 PM
From: TimF
   of 1225
 
And its not just malaria -

-------

Amazing' News About The Awful Guinea Worm

Scratch another Guinea worm hot spot off the list. One of the countries hardest hit with the parasite — South Sudan — has finally stopped transmission, the Carter Center announced Wednesday.

The country reported zero cases in 2017 and hasn't had a case in 15 months. There are also no signs Guinea worm is circulating in dogs in South Sudan, as it is in Chad and Mali.

"I come from an area that had the most Guinea worm," South Sudan's Minister of Health, Dr. Riek Gai Kok, said at a news conference. "I never thought — even one time — that the area would be free of Guinea worm, let alone all of South Sudan would be."

"But today that dream has come true," he added.

The international effort to eradicate Guinea worm has been a huge success. Back in the mid-'80s, more than 3 million people were catching the parasite each year. Now Guinea worm is circulating in only three countries: Ethiopia, Mali and Chad. Last year, there were only 30 human cases worldwide...

npr.org

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From: TimF4/13/2018 9:09:42 PM
2 Recommendations   of 1225
 
Elephants Are Very Scared of Bees. That Could Save Their Lives.
Trilobites
By KAREN WEINTRAUB
JAN. 26, 2018

Elephants are afraid of bees. Let that sink in for a second. The largest animal on land is so terrified of a tiny insect that it will flap its ears, stir up dust and make noises when it hears the buzz of a beehive.Of course a bee’s stinger can’t penetrate the thick hide of an elephant. But when bees swarm — and African bees swarm aggressively — hundreds of bees might sting an elephant in its most sensitive areas, the trunk, mouth and eyes. And they hurt.

The threat of bees is so intensely felt by elephants that conservationists are using it to help prevent the kinds of conflict that put the behemoths at risk. The endangered animals have sometimes been shot by farmers trying to save their crops from elephants foraging at night for late-night snacks, or by poachers allowed access to help guard the fields.

Now there’s a weapon — and a mutually beneficial one — in the arsenal. In recent years, researchers and advocates have persuaded farmers to use the elephant’s fear of bees as a potential fence line to protect crops. By stringing beehives every 20 meters — alternating with fake hives — a team of researchers in Africa has shown that they can keep 80 percent of elephants away from farmland...

nytimes.com

H/T Marginal Revolution

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From: Glenn Petersen5/27/2018 3:14:36 PM
1 Recommendation   of 1225
 
Africa is now a favorite destination for Chinese tourists and tens of thousands of them are coming

Written by Abdi Latif Dahir
Quartz
May 21, 2018



Chinese tourists jump as they pose for photographs at the esplanade of the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, October 6, 2016." title="">
Loving Morocco. (Reuters/Youssef Boudlal)
___________________________________

Chinese travelers are the world’s top tourism spenders, shelling out almost $260 billion in 2017 alone. A growing part of that spend is now happening in Africa, encouraged by relaxed visa rules, increased interested in the continent’s cultural and historical sites, and a initiatives that seek to appeal to Chinese tourists.

Last week, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China launched a joint loyalty program with Kenya’s Stanbic Bank, aiming to create incentives for travel, shopping, and leisure to tourists visiting the two nations. The “I Go Kenya—I Go China” scheme follows the bank’s similar program in South Africa last year, which rewarded its cardholders by offering a range of discounts and special offers from merchants across the travel, hospitality and lifestyle sectors. The state-owned financial behemoth is doing this as part of its plan to internationalize, and push its banking card product abroad.

Meanwhile, Africa is becoming increasingly attractive destination for Chinese tourists. A recent survey by the global travel platform Travelzoo found that the continent was the top destination of choice for Chinese tourists seeking more adventurous holidays in 2018, beating Japan and Australia. Visitors were especially drawn to Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa, Namibia, Madagascar, and Tanzania. This year, Kenya also launched a marketing campaign to target China, hoping to boost the over 53,000 Chinese visitors who already came to the country last year.



Part of the interest in these nations came following the introduction of relaxed visa rules for Chinese citizens. For instance, after the easing of visa requirements in Tunisia and Morocco, there has been a 240% and 378% year-over-year growth in Chinese arrivals respectively, according to the travel intelligence company ForwardKeys. As tourism packages diversify, and airline travel becomes easier and more affordable, Travelzoo says the continent will only continue “to grow in popularity” with many Chinese drawn to its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty.

The boom in travel to Africa is another example of how China is redefining Africa’s economic landscape. The continent’s engagement with Beijing is primarily as a business partner, with Chinese companies getting lucrative contracts and experience overseas while host nations receive needed infrastructure, jobs, and eventually technology and skills. Yet increasingly, China is boosting its diplomatic and military presence in the continent, and is influencing young Africans through education and training. This is raising concern among American officials, even as the Trump administration has adopted isolationist policies that are deterring Chinese tourists from visiting the US.

African governments, businesses, and tour agencies are eager to tap into this sector and introduce localized tourism products. And indeed, tourism is a powerful vehicle for economic growth: As of 2014, tourism contributed to 8.5% of Africa’s gross domestic product, according to the United Nations trade arm, generating 7.1% of all jobs.

qz.com

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From: Glenn Petersen6/17/2018 1:02:18 PM
   of 1225
 
AI Helps Africa Bypass the Grid

Azuri’s HomeSmart adjusts power output based on prior solar battery use.

By Adam Popescu
Bloomberg
June 10, 2018



Azuri customers in Kenya with a radio add-on.0
Source: Azuri Technologies
_________________________________

In sub-Saharan Africa, home electricity is a 50-50 prospect and bank accounts can be rare, but most people have some kind of cellphone. The phones provide information often tough to come by in rural areas—the latest commodity prices, for example. And even in places where pastoral tribesmen tend livestock in very old-school ways, they may also chat over WhatsApp and use money-transfer apps to settle debts. To charge the phones without access to an electrical grid, Africans spend more than $17 billion a year on such fuels as kerosene and firewood to power sometimes primitive generators. Simon Bransfield-Garth is pitching a cleaner and, he says, smarter alternative.

His company, Azuri Technologies Ltd., has brought what it calls smart solar power to 150,000 people in a dozen African nations, focusing on East Africa and Nigeria. While solar batteries often struggle to power homes through the night, Azuri’s yellow box—the size of a landline phone, it’s called HomeSmart—uses software with artificial intelligence to learn each home’s energy needs and adjust power output to keep things running. Those tweaks include automatically dimming lights and TV screens, lowering speaker volume, and slowing a fan’s motor.



Azuri agents deliver a home solar system.
Source: Azuri Technologies
________________________________________

“Instead of a system just powering as fast as it can for a certain amount of time and stopping, we provide customers with the amount of light they typically use on a day-to-day basis,” Bransfield-Garth says. His company runs on a lease-to-own model. Customers can make payments online monthly, weekly, or as they go. Most pay about $3 a week for 18 months to pay off the equipment costs, roughly half what they used to pay for kerosene.

The setup is simple: A roof-mounted, 5-watt solar panel connects to the battery, placed on a wall in the home. The basic system comes with two LED lightbulbs and a USB port for charging mobile devices. Add-ons such as radios and TVs cost more.

The Azuri system’s AI software distinguishes it from other solar startups in Africa, says Benjamin Attia, a solar analyst at researcher Wood Mackenzie Ltd. To make the most of the juice the solar panel gathers, the software sets internal targets for the exact amount of energy it thinks a customer will need overnight and refines those estimates based on use patterns. Unlike with kerosene, “I have no fears of burns and fumes,” says Lucia, an Azuri user in the Tanzanian village of Ngulyat.

Bransfield-Garth has raised $18 million in venture funding, led by the U.K.’s IP Group Plc. He says the company is profitable and revenue has doubled in two years but wouldn’t provide numbers. A Briton, he began researching AI neural networks in the 1980s before getting into semiconductors, consumer electronics, and eventually renewable energy. He spun Azuri out of his solar panel company, Eight19 Ltd., in 2012, after spending two years developing the storage cell and figuring out how sensors and panels could be used to better predict customers’ energy habits. Based on when the sun hits a panel, for example, the HomeSmart software can determine sunrise and sunset, latitude and longitude, and what time of year it is. The company installed its first units outside Nairobi.

“When people looked out of their homes at night and saw someone had light on at 10 p.m., two days later there was a queue around the block,” Bransfield-Garth recalls. “First there’s a sense of disbelief. Then people get excited, and it’s something of an event. And in six months, it all becomes fairly normal.” Six years ago, few homes used solar. Now, as many as half a million homes in East Africa plug in.

Azuri says sales volume allows it to offset costs and offer the incentives it does. The company has about 80 employees and 2,000 sales and marketing partners throughout Africa, mostly residents with relationships on the village level. Gratis installation and upkeep, the company says, helps secure loyalty and friendly word-of-mouth.

bloomberg.com

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From: Glenn Petersen6/18/2018 9:53:18 PM
   of 1225
 
Bancor launches blockchain platform in Kenya to enable community currencies

Chris O'Brien @obrien
VentureBeat
June 18, 2018 7:00 AM


Above: Bancor
Image Credit: Bancor
____________________

Cryptocurrency platform Bancor announced today that it will launch a new blockchain service in Kenya as part of a financial system designed to help alleviate poverty.

The service will facilitate the creation of “community currencies” to boost local commerce and peer-to-peer collaboration. A community currency is a kind of alternative financial system that a group can use to encourage the creation and purchase of goods and services within a certain geographic region.

While some communities actually create physical money for such systems, the Bancor system will let Kenyan communities use tokens on a blockchain.

“We have seen the crypto world generate roughly $400 billion for new currencies, and we believe the same mechanics can be applied to help communities create wealth on a local level through the use of blockchain-based community currencies that fill regional trade gaps, enable basic income and food security, and promote thriving local and interconnected global markets,” Bancor cofounder Galia Benartzi said in a statement.

Above: Bancor system in Kenya
Image Credit: Bancor
_____________________________


The company says the system will help track the exchange rate value for such local currencies and will allow outsiders to purchase tokens to support community development and increase the overall value of the tokens.

The company is also working with local nonprofit Grassroots Economics, which has been helping communities develop such currencies. Bancor has hired the nonprofit’s founder, Will Ruddick, to oversee the project. Ruddick was once arrested by the Kenyan government for his efforts, but he now works with the government to develop community currencies.

Bancor, based in Switzerland’s ‘Crypto Valley’ of Zug, said it will seed creation of the currencies using some of the $153 million it raised last year in its own token sale.

venturebeat.com

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From: S. maltophilia6/29/2018 5:15:45 PM
   of 1225
 
This site has become active again after being somewhat dormant, for anyone following this part of the world:

sahelblog.wordpress.com

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To: S. maltophilia who wrote (1214)9/3/2018 12:44:58 PM
From: Stephen O
   of 1225
 
this is worth a read
eddiecross.africanherd.com

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From: TimF10/18/2018 12:20:24 PM
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kottke.org

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From: TimF12/11/2018 8:36:51 PM
1 Recommendation   of 1225
 
The Good News From Africa
The continent is mostly at peace — and is reaping the economic, political and social benefits.
By Tyler Cowen
November 27, 2018, 2:30 AM EST

There’s a general feeling of optimism about Africa these days. And the good news, which runs deeper than rapidly improving health and quality-of-life indicators, deserves a closer look.

Perhaps most significant, a relatively high proportion of sub-Saharan Africa is at peace today. It is more stable and less prone to conflict, relative to previous decades. Violence in the Congo region and Rwanda, for instance, killed millions in the 1990s. There is nothing comparable going on today. This general move toward greater peace has been detailed in a recent report from the Institute for Security Studies.

This peace will also pay a demographic dividend, as the aging of Africa’s population, and the marrying off of many of its young males, will decrease the potential for conflict. Older, more settled populations are less likely to go to war.

The costs of war are far more numerous than death. War can cause malnutrition, long-term damage to infrastructure, polarization and ruined politics, and the traumatization of entire populations. So the likely ongoing diminution of war in sub-Saharan Africa should bring many collateral benefits, boosting an overall positive dynamic. Not only have Ethiopia and Eritrea stopped fighting, for example, but they have also resumed open trade and travel, to the benefit of both countries.

As long as peace holds, African nations should be able to continue to import new technologies from the rest of the world, and of course develop some of their own. That will lead to a virtuous circle of greater education, higher productivity, and more contentment with living standards, reinforcing the basic dynamic toward peace.

A second dynamic is harder to measure or prove, but is also likely positive: greater national unity. It is a longstanding concern that the colonial powers drew African national borders that did not sufficiently correspond to the underlying ethnic and linguistic groups. That in turn boosted the probability of conflict and instability by making many nation-states prone to bickering over the nature of the regime. Furthermore, the colonial powers made this problem worse by instituting “divide and conquer” strategies in their territories. The Belgian rulers drew people’s attention to the underlying ethnic divisions — such as Tutsis and Hutus — in what is now Rwanda, for example, and the British did something comparable in Nigeria.

One source of gain is simply that the colonial era is receding ever further into the past. In the meantime, a wide array of media outlets have helped to further African notions of national unity and cultural coherence. Soccer and other athletic teams compete on the world stage, and African players competing in Europe are portrayed as representatives of their nations, not particular ethnic groups. Commercial brands and celebrities help define national identities. Exposure to international media, most of all through smart phones and the internet, cements the notion that these regions are indeed perceived as nations by the outside world and that such designations are likely to stick. Mobile phones have knit together different African regions, and ethnic groups, in closer economic ties.

The notion of a nation as an “ imagined community,” to use a term from political scientist Benedict Anderson, is under accelerating construction in many parts of Africa. Cultures and cultural expectations are adapting to current borders, even given earlier injustices, thereby contributing to falling rates of violence and conflict.

Unfortunately, Africa is exposed to a lot of “ fake news,” perhaps more than Americans are. The good news, if you would call it that, is that Africans seem to be relatively skeptical of social media as a news source, and they put a relatively high degree of trust in international media.

Better yet is that most Africans say that the internet has improved their politics and economics. For instance, 64 percent of Nigerians reported in 2017 that the increasing reach of the internet was good for Nigerian politics. That number compares to just 43 percent in 2014, and positive impressions of a similar nature are common throughout Africa. For all the talk about social media creating divisions (such as in Myanmar), the net effect of modern technology seems to be greater unity, including with respect to national borders.

Many serious problems remain with respect to national identity — in places such as the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Cameroon — so a celebration would be premature. But, to pose a simple question, if you were asked to trade the Africa of the 1970s or ’90s for the Africa of today, the right answer would be pretty obvious. There has been so much net progress on the ground. The simple truth is that today’s Africa is still underrated.

bloomberg.com

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