10 April 2021

Art/Covid/South Africa: The country’s cultural scene has been hit badly by Covid and its restrictions. But artists are resilient. But creativity makes you able to reinvent yourself. For some, the pandemic has even opened avenues…

9 April 2021

Egyptian Pompeii: A more than 3,400-year-old city has been discovered in the desert near Luxor. Surprisingly well-preserved, items of everyday life, rings and coloured pottery, a bakery and evidence of food preparation for many people, signs of industrial activity have been found.
BBC Africa Live 09 April 2021. 7:14

Sacred forests as biodiversity niches: “The historically dense forest ecosystem in West Africa has been reduced by over 80% since 1900.” Remaining sacred forests contain more biodiversity than surrounding lands. Furthermore, they improve agricultural output. And they are important carbon sinks. Based on her research in northern Togo, the article’s author writes: “I found that it is specifically organic matter – dead leaves and remains of trees – which has been on and in the soil for a long time and decomposing that makes the difference both to soil fertility and to carbon storage.”

Global warming & marine ecosystems: Many species now find the tropical oceans too warm and have moved to cooler waters. This has happened before, 125,000 years ago and also 252 million years ago. In the latter case, 90% of all marine species were killed. With today’s global warming, “there could be mass extinctions in the near future as species move into the subtropics, where they might struggle to compete and adapt.” Plankton – a keystone species in the foodweb – has decreased around the equator...

Copper & the environment: A copper boom is imminent - copper being needed for solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles and battery storage. With prices rising, new copper mines will open. “Unless mining is done differently, rushing to bring these projects into production could unleash unacceptable, catastrophic impacts onto local people and environments.” Future mines will be in remoter places, thus more difficult to reach, and they are likely to be lower grade and deeper, thus more difficult to exploit and sure to “generate more waste rock, more tailings, and hazardous elements such as arsenic”. New mines are also likely to be in ecologically sensitive areas where the mines compete for water with local communities. Higher copper prices provide companies with the means for sustainability improvements – but they are unlikely to invest in that unless forced to.

Tanzania: Recently deceased president Magufuli revived the national airline and called it a success – the truth is, it made losses of USD65m in the past five years. The auditor-general revealed “challenges” such as the absence of directors who had any airline management experience or the fact that, with aircraft being grounded due to Covid, the airline “continued paying rental fees to a government agency that owns them.” Debts “inherited” from the past were also a heavy burden.
BBC Africa Live 09 April 2021. 4:45

Nigeria: In Konshisha area of Benue State, 11 army personnel including a commander have been killed by unknown gunmen. Reports that troops in response “fired indiscriminately killing a number of civilians” have been denied by the Nigerian military.
BBC Africa Live 09 April 2021. 11:00