29 December 2021

Uganda: This year’s winner of the Pen Pinter Prize's International Writer of Courage award, Kakwenza Rukriabashaija, has been detained. Would it be because he has recently called Museveni’s son obese and said that “the Musevenis have imposed enormous suffering” on Uganda? Rukirabashaija is known for the novel The Greedy Barbarian, a satire describing high-level corruption in a fictional country, and also for “an account of the torture he was subjected to while in detention in 2020”: Banana Republic: Where Writing is Treasonous.

Ghana: A middle-income country since 2010, Ghana nevertheless depends on primary commodity exports (gold, crude oil and cocoa) for more than 80% of its foreign exchange earnings. The collapse of commodity prices in the wake of the Covid-19-caused global recession and disruptions of global commodity-based supply chains have hit the economy badly and market-based credit became unavailable or unaffordable (Ghana’s credit rating having been downgraded). The IMF had to come to the rescue.

Covid/Senegal/Mali/Burkina Faso: Workers in the informal economy were more likely to lose their jobs and to experience decrease in earnings due to Covid-19 than workers in the formal sector. The article’s two authors’ research is based on a Facebook survey of 900 individuals – can their figures be considered representative?

Egypt: “Who thought it would be a good idea to make an ad that enables sexual harassment in a country where 98% of women reported getting harassed at some point in their lives?” An advert by French car manufacturer Citroën, where a picture is taken of a woman without her consent, is accused of normalising sexual harassment.

28 December 2021

Namibia: Near Lüderitz, in the Tsau//Khaeb National Park, energy produced from sun and wind is to be used to separate hydrogen molecules from desalinated water. Once the project reaches capacity, this is to produce 300,000 tonnes of “green hydrogen” every year. But hydrogen plants cost a lot – 9.4bn USD are needed for the project, about the country’s GDP. But there are doubts whether the desalination and the electrolysis processes are viable and whether Lüderitz will be able to develop its infrastructure fast enough. Other countries (South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya) also have their green hydrogen plans – but these plans are less advanced than Namibia’s.

Ghana: Aid versus market-driven approaches – which works better for renewable energy projects in remote rural communities? Aid-driven projects do not build the necessary collective capacity as they “usually involve only one actor: renewable energy companies. (...) They only train local companies or technicians.” In that respect, market-driven projects are better, furthering interactions among different actors and favouring transfer of knowledge and building of capacity, with local technicians doing repairs and rural banks involved in disbursing loans. But such projects also have their problems, most of them being rather short-term, they do not allow for enough time to adapt to local contexts: “user priorities, changing energy demand, energy-use behaviour, and income patterns. For example, some rural dwellers can make payments only after harvest seasons.”