03 June 2023

South Africa: “(R)research shows that reducing trading hours is an effective way to curb alcohol consumption and its associated harms.” The government of Western Cape province – nowhere in Africa is alcohol consumption higher than in South Africa, and nowhere in the country is alcohol consumption higher than in the Western Cape – proposes earlier closing hours for where onsite alcohol consumption takes place. The article’s author’s research looked into expected effects of 12 p.m., 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. closing hours. Result: “limiting the hours for onsite consumption of alcohol will save lives. It will also prevent alcohol-related diseases and injuries, and reduce hospital and crime prevention costs” but, unsurprisingly, it will reduce “national tax revenue and revenue to the alcohol industry”. 2 a.m. closing time only slightly improves things, midnight is a lot better. Other measures will need to complement earlier closing hours for the provincial government’s anti-alcohol policy to be even more successful.

02 June 2023

A sick person gets a hundred advisers
BBC Africa Live 02 June 2023. 6:38 Proverb of the day. A Somali proverb sent by Abdullahi Jaran in Mogadishu, Somalia

Free secondary education: It sounds like a good idea. But can countries “with resource constraints” afford it? According to Malala Fund, a global education NGO, free upper secondary education is “regressive in nature” (favours the rich) “and might not be affordable for low-income countries”. The article’s author recommends that “free education should be introduced gradually, starting with the lowest levels” and proceed gradually. Lower secondary education is now fee-free in almost half of all African countries. Two problems remain for poor children: most are not eligible for not having completed primary school plus fees are only half the (financial) problem, with non-fee expenses (textbooks, school uniforms, meals, transport) not covered in such programmes. Despite this, these programmes are very costly (unsustainably so in some cases) – and they benefit the better-off instead of the poor.

Cycling/Lagos: With traffic jams legendary in the country’s economic hub, “there are growing groups of Lagosians championing the bicycle”, fears concerning security, low prestige (the rich drive, the poor cycle) and lack of cycling infrastructure act as breaks on the trend. The economic and environmental and health benefits of switching from driving to cycling are evident.

Benin: A large part of Benin’s population so far bought Nigerian subsidised fuel smuggled over the border. Since Tinubu’s announcement that subsidies would be scrapped, prices in Benin have almost doubled.
BBC Africa Live 02 June 2023. 14:01

Angola: Fuel subsidies have been abolished. As from yesterday Thursday, petrol costs 300 instead of 160 kwanzas – the new prize amounting to half a USD. Public service vehicles and motorcycles have been exempted from the price rises.
BBC Africa Live 02 June 2023. 9:31

South Africa/Power Cuts: The article discusses present alternatives to Eskom provisioning and makes suggestions how to solve the energy crisis: “unbundle Eskom and establish the market operator”, i.e. get rid of Eskom’s monopoly and establish a sort of stock exchange for energy + build connection capacity + have the market operator build large-scale photovoltaic/battery capacity.

South Africa/Harry Oppenheimer: The article is a critique of Michael Cardo’s biography of the mining magnate, son of the founder of the Oppenheimer empire (Anglo and De Beers) who consolidated it. The biography shows him as a person, assesses his liberalism and “profiles his behind-the-scenes influence as a magnate”. He was no die-hard apartheid man, but “he clung to a belief in political segregation. His liberalism allowed for more humane treatment of black people while denying them equal rights.” After his retirement (in 1982 – born in 1908 he lived until 2000) he went on mingling in politics. Mandela, after his liberation, was often a guest of his, with Oppenheimer’s objective to make him abandon nationalisation and make him see the importance of private enterprise.