06 November 2022

Energy, Environment, Development: Africa’s economic development will suffer from global efforts to curb climate change by lowering CO2 output “unless sufficient financing is available to fully transition to renewable and sustainable fuels at a scale needed to support economic growth”. The article’s author discusses what can be done to get out of the conundrum and argues for a “polycentric model of international climate governance” and opines that “(t)he people affected by climate change should decide when and how to transition to net-zero emissions.” That does sound good and just but not realistic. Overall, mini grids distributing renewable energy could be a viable alternative to centralised energy system based on fossil fuel.

Kenya: The civil justice advocacy group Police Reform Working Group in Kenya has documented 1,264 cases of executions and 237 enforced disappearances in the country since 2017. “Police killings of citizens are shockingly commonplace in Kenya” and can be said to have been systemic since the late 1990s. “Those who bear the brunt are mostly poor, young and male suspects of crime or terrorism.“ The special police unit – which was recently disbanded by the new president Ruto – is only one of the culprits. The “structural rot within the police service” has “been normalised in public discourse”. Pretended reforms are met with cynicism by experts. There is no indication that Ruto will fundamentally change all this.

Kenya: There are more digital agricultural services (mostly on mobile phones) in the country than anywhere else in Africa – the second best, Nigeria, has only about half as many. Yet even there, only 20-30% of farmers use them. The article makes suggestions how to improve uptake – mostly by “digital platforms that bundle such services for easy access and use”. On top of that “human bridges are also needed that link service users and providers.”

South Africa/Tourism: Without counting indirect effects, the tourism sector contributes 2.9% to GDP, provides jobs for 725,000 and is the country’s second biggest forex earner. The sector suffers from shocks like disease outbreaks (e.g. Covid), economic downturns, climate threats (e.g. the Durban floods), xenophobia, political instability (riots) and criminality. But the sector has proven “quite resilient”.

Nigeria/Floods: In 2021, seven out of ten Nigerians are estimated to not have had enough to eat. One of the factors endangering food security is floods. With this year’s floods having killed more than 600 dead and displaced millions, 2022 is set to surpass the floods of 2012 – the most severe hitherto recorded in the county. The article sets out to analyse the four ways floods affect food security: by reducing food availability (destruction of crops, death of livestock, etc.); by reducing access to food (food becoming “more scarce, hard to physically obtain and more expensive”); by nutrient and soil loss as a consequence of flooding lowering quality and nutrient value of food; by lowering food stability (unsure and reduced availability forcing people to choose less nutrient and more filling foods).

05 November 2022

Ghana: After 7 years of renovation, the country’s National Museum has reopened. When the museum was opened, the slave trade and other conflictual topics were excluded, the intention being to focus on peaceful histories, a “past characterised by ordered progress and development resulting from the interaction between the people of Ghana, West Africa and other parts of the world”. The renovation from 2015 to 2022 provided the opportunity to integrate missing histories into the museum’s main narrative. But the museum still leaves out crucial aspects of Ghana’s past – amongst them transatlantic slave trade and the colonial period.

Egypt/Podcasts as digital feminist activism: The article’s author did research into feminist-leaning podcasts and four female podcasters. Such podcasts allow “Egyptian women to exercise an otherwise muted voice in society”.

Malaria: Africa is by far the most concerned. In great part, this is so because “the malaria parasite species Plasmodium falciparum, the dominant species in Africa, is the most lethal. It’s responsible for most malaria cases and deaths – 80% of which occur in children younger than five.” Almost everywhere, elimination remains out of reach – with only Algeria and Morocco to this day having been certified malaria-free by the WHO. The article discusses the most important factors why elimination remains out of reach: poverty, human movement, resistance (insecticide, diagnostic and drug resistance of the very adaptable malaria virus) and climate change (more places have and will become malaria risk areas). Fortunately, there are some good news, amongst them two new vaccines.