Water is key to Africa’s Development Agenda

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“Water is key to the agricultural and energy sectors, both critical to accelerating growth and development in Africa.”  This is why it came as a surprise to Mr. Thomas Chiramba, Head of Freshwater Ecosystems Unit at the UNEP in Kenya, that “there is too much focus on household water access and not enough on linkages between water and sustainable development.”

Part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) project for African countries was to ensure that people have access to safe drinking water, and specifically, to reduce the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water by half in 2015. Efforts to meet this target have been praiseworthy. However, the main challenge is to turn water access into a resource for sustainable economic development, and not just for domestic use.

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Yes, Africa will feed itself within the next 15 years

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Africa will be able to feed itself in the next 15 years. That’s one of the big “bets on the future” that Bill and Melinda Gates have made in their foundation’s latest annual letter. Helped by other breakthroughs in health, mobile banking and education, they argue that the lives of people in poor countries “will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history”.

Their “bet” is good news for African agriculture: agronomy and its natural twin, agricultural extension, are back on the agenda. If Africa is to feed itself, the women and men who grow its crops need access to technical expertise on how to manage their variable natural resources and limited inputs and market intelligence on what to grow, what to sell and what to keep.

New tools in the hands of farmers    

The Gates foundation report… click here to read whole article and make comments



Are these Africa’s best 10 tech startups of 2014?

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As 2014 grinds gradually to a halt, some good news of startups that rocked Africa is not misplaced. For most techies, software development and entrepreneurship are usually two concepts that find it difficult to mix well in the continent.  Some African countries, with Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya in the lead, hold out exceptional hopes for a bright future. 

While this may not be an exhaustive listing, these ten technology startups braced the odds and could be considered as some of Africa’s best 10 for 2014.

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Hargeisa, promoting culture for Somalia

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A lot of what people know about Somalia comes from movies or television and very little of this has to do with business or technology; companies merging, new products in the market, the stock exchange etc. Rather we see reports on the latest terrorist activities, millions of refugees fleeing from a never ending war, Oscar nominated films on pirates sailing menacingly along the east coast of Africa, or soldiers held hostage by rebels after their helicopter crashes down. Although these reports, films and programs are based on real life events, they leave us with the impression that Somalia is the last place in African where someone would want to be, and that the events taking place in one square kilometre are representative of the remaining 640,000. 

This might explain why an event such as the Hargeisa International Book Fair can go unnoticed in its seventh consecutive year. Or why Hargeisa itself… click here to read whole article and make comments



Lagos: the world’s fastest growing city

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Lagos is becoming one of the world's great mega-cities. Here's an optimistic look at the future of an astonishing development project, Eko-Atlantic, a planned district of Lagos, Nigeria, being constructed on land reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean. 

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Heroes of the war on Ebola

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Wars nowadays are fought by remote control, with drones, missiles and bombers. But the only way to win the war on Ebola is with boots on the ground.

The heroism of grunts who work to exhaustion to save lives ought to be the real focus of media coverage of the epidemic which threatens people Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and even Nigeria.

Of course, scientists in the West are working hard to develop a vaccine for the disease which kills between 50 and 90 percent of its victims. But the only one specifically aimed at Ebola, an American drug called ZMapp, has not even been tested properly on animals.

And there are weighty ethical and social obstacles to distributing it willy-nilly to people with the disease. Although some of the people who have taken it have regained their health, others have died. The World Health Organization has authorised doctors to use the… click here to read whole article and make comments



$90 loan restores Kenyan farm

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Although a quarter of Kenya’s population are farmers, few of them have ventured into increasing their farm output with the help of loans. For many of them, loans are risky and if unpaid, their only source of livelihood is in danger of being lost to aggressive lenders.

It is no wonder that, sceptical about farm loans, Samuel Kariuki has been struggling to increase his cabbage farm’s output over the last thirty years until his recent discovery of F3 Life, a micro finance company offering “green loans”.

F3 Life offers loans of as little as $20 to as much as $180, as well as free monthly training on how to increase one’s farming business. The program, designed by conservationist Mark Ellis-Jones, offers incentives of lower interest rates and bigger loans to farmers who apply soil and land conservation practices.

Thus, planting trees, grass strips along slope land, and other anti-erosion measures extends the life… click here to read whole article and make comments



Ebola and the news nearness factor

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Nearness is one of the qualities that make for news, that closeness which involves the reader physically or morally that he ceases to be indifferent. It is no wonder we often have a short attention span regarding news. To get us to pay attention, some editors resort to big font sizes or sensational headlines, lest they lose us completely.

Ebola was news months ago but for those outside Africa it was "far" news that very soon became a footnote on news channels. Not so now, because Ebola has arrived the United States. In the midst of the sorrow that is this disease here in Africa, it is almost amusing, though in a macabre way, to see the stricken horror among several Americans who are scared to the very marrow of their bones that what was previously far is now too close for comfort. That news footnote is… click here to read whole article and make comments



An African woman’s “Thank-you” letter to Meriam Ibrahim

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The great news of Mariam Ibrahim's arrival in Italy filled me with so much joy and elation.

The images of this graceful and beautiful African woman, babe in hand, stepping out of the plane was a sight to behold especially after her unspeakable pain and suffering in the Sudanese prison.

So I thought I should, in a very simple letter, write down my reflections and thoughts of gratitude for this resilient daughter of Africa whose freedom is being celebrated by the entire world today.

On behalf of all African women, I thank you Meriam Ibrahim, for showing the world the indomitable courage that is at the core of authentic femininity. I say this because your pain and persecution were tied so firmly to your femininity. And so your triumph was a most powerful witness to life, to motherhood, to marriage, to love and to faith.

You are indeed a true picture of faith… click here to read whole article and make comments



The many colors of Africa

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A group of US-based African students recently launched a photo campaign to help dispel misconceptions about their continent.  The African Students Association of New York's Ithaca College, comprising of youths ranging from 16 to 21, titled their campaign "The Real Africa: Fight the Stereotype”.  The social media initiative aims to educate and raise awareness about common stereotypes surrounding Africa and its people -- misunderstandings such as, Africa being a homogenous entity, rather than a diverse continent of more than 50 countries.

They show students draped in different African flags or holding them up with quotes like:

Africans do not all look alike

Africa is not a land filled with diseases

Africa is not defined by poverty

Africa existed before colonialism

This is a good fight for the redefinition and re-structuring of what really Africa means and of what it is not.

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Africa is a continent that is big, joyful, generous, enthusiastic and optimistic. Harambee tells its stories: from its love of life and family, to people who have withstood great odds to stories of innovation achieved with limited resources. Our partner is Harambee Africa International, a Rome-based NGO. We want to hear from you. Contact Eugene Ohu, the editor, at

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