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AfricaFocus Bulletin: Latest six bulletins
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March 23, 2015 Africa/Global: Swiss Connections
An investigation conducted by the Berne Declaration (BD) has revealed how Philia, a Swiss trading company, has been profiting at the expense of the Congo (Brazzaville) oil refinery, Coraf. Coraf is managed by the President's son, Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso, who is a close friend of Philia's sole shareholder, Jean-Philippe Amvame Ndong. The case is an unusually explicit and striking example of the links between corruption in Africa and the lack of transparency and regulation for companies located outside the continent.
March 17, 2015 Africa: Higher Education Must Be Higher Priority
"In 2011, the average gross rate of tertiary education enrolment in Africa was 8% against a world average of 27%. Even with those low figures, demand for university admission continues to exceed capacity, and public universities are under increasing pressure to admit more students than current staff and infrastructure would allow. ... [even so] In most African countries, the increase in tertiary enrolment has not translated into a comparable improvement in employment opportunities. ... Indeed, there are growing complaints by employers that graduates are poorly prepared for the workplace." - Concept paper for African Higher Education Summit
March 10, 2015 Africa/Global: Falling Short on Climate Finance
Africa, the continent with warming deviating most rapidly from "normal" conditions, could see climate change adaptation costs rise to US$50 billion per year by 2050, even assuming international efforts keep global warming below 2 degrees C this century, according to a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report.
March 3, 2015 East Africa: Water, Wind, and Lake Turkana
Lake Turkana, in the far northwest of Kenya and extending over the border into Ethiopia, is the world's largest desert lake, in a region that is central to archaeological investigation into the origin of humanity. It is now also central to two different projects for expanding renewable energy due to come on-line in the next three years, one based on hydropower and the other on wind. While both will significantly expand the input to the East African power grid, critics charge that expansion of hydropower on Ethiopia's Omo River also poses serious threats to the livelihood of local people both around Lake Turkana and upstream along the Omo River.
February 24, 2015 USA/Somalia: Rising Threat to Remittances
When President Obama addressed the White House Conference on Countering Violent Extremism last week, the media buzz focused on his message that it was a counterproductive error to equate Islam and terrorism. Some critics also pointed out the contradictions in trying to win hearts and minds by parsing language while continuing to fuel terrorism with drone strikes and collaboration with repressive regimes. Virtually invisible, however, was the deep collateral damage from the "financial war on terror," which continues to impede remittances from Somali immigrants needed both for survival and economic development in their homeland.
February 18, 2015 Africa: Privatizing Land and Seeds
"The G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition was launched in 2012 by the eight most industrialised countries to mobilise private capital for investment in African agriculture. To be accepted into the programme, African governments are required to make important changes to their land and seed policies. ... [for example] Despite the fact that more than 80% of all seed in Africa is still produced and disseminated through 'informal' seed systems (on-farm seed saving and unregulated distribution between farmers), there is no recognition in the New Alliance programme of the importance of farmer-based systems of saving, sharing, exchanging and selling seeds." - Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa and GRAIN, January 2015