04 February 2023

AI – universal vs South African risks: There are risks that come with artificial intelligence everywhere (accountability, bias, transparency, autonomy, socio-economic risks, maleficence) and there are risks that are specific to South Africa (foreign data and models, data limitation, exacerbating inequality, uninformed stakeholders, absence of policy and regulation) and other countries of the Global South that are “on the periphery of technology development and related policy formulation”. As AI will become pervasive soon, authorities in South Africa et al “should proactively govern AI ethics risks”.

03 February 2023

eSwatini: Only hours before Maseko was murdered, the country’s king had stated that people causing political trouble should not “cry about mercenaries coming after them”. Thulani Maseko was a fierce government critic, but he was “the opposition’s voice of reason”, always “urging peaceful dialogue”. The murder, the ISS’s Peter Fabricius argues, could be a turning point – but we don’t know in which direction. Concerning the region’s Southern African Development Community which has timidly tried to act as mediator, it “surely needs to be much more demanding than to ‘propose’ something (king) Mswati has already agreed to, if it hopes to prevent the country from sliding further into violence.”

Algeria/Red coral: Algeria’s reserves are the largest. Red coral – which may cost up to 5 000 euros per kg – facing extinction, a “moratorium on harvesting was in place from 2001 to 2021”. This has not stopped red coral fishing, but pushed it underground. Hoping to control illicit harvesting, the moratorium was lifted in 2021 and collecting and selling are now regulated. Amongst others, “(l)icensed fishers must sell 70% of their product to the state company AGENOR. No more than 3 000 kg may be harvested annually in selected areas.” Critics believe “that fishers might not declare their entire harvest, and sell the excess on the black market at inflated prices” and also “that poaching will be replaced by state-approved looting”. Measures abroad are also needed: illegally harvested red coral must be made difficult to sell.

Mozambique/Rwanda: By end 2022, Rwandan troops in Cabo Delgado province had increased to 2,500 (from 1,000 in 2021). In Ancuabe District in the province’s south, they now protect lucrative ruby and graphite industries that had to be halted because of terrorist attacks but are now again operative. The terms of the agreement between Kigali and Maputo are not known, but it looks as if the agreement targeted natural resources. Rwandan troops seem to have created “another island of safety”, now for the benefit of the ruby and graphite industries – while the locals of other parts of Cabo Delgado are more or less left to themselves.

South Africa/Black travelogues: Under-recognised for a long time, the travelling while black movement contributes to decolonising travel. With the need to justify one’s movements gone, it is now time to claim spaces. The article briefly discusses seven South African travelogues – where travelling happens mostly in Africa. In one of them, the author (Sihle Khumalo) remarks that travelling is “about being greedy for new experiences that can never happen if you do not move your sorry ignorant naïve self from one point to the other”.

Ghana: Water ATMs are “automated water vending machines that store clean water and are most often connected to a water purifying plant that uses groundwater. Customers buy water from the ATMs using a water card, which is topped up with credit via mobile money.” The article discusses the effects of such ATMs in off-grid Ghana – they are not all positive, while for example improving clean water accessibility, water vendors lose their jobs.

Kenya: The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, established in 2011, oversees elections including voter registration and the fixing of boundaries for electoral constituencies and wards. Since its creation, it has been “at the centre of Kenya’s history of post-election violence”, accused “of failing to administer elections fairly and lawfully”. With the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (Amendment) Bill signed into law, the appointment of the commission’s members is to make “the selection process more participatory and reflective of the country’s diversity”. It is hoped that this will strengthen the commission, provide election results accepted by all and thus make the country’s political culture more peaceful in future.