19 November 2022

Ethiopia/Green Legacy Initiative: To plant 20 billion trees in four years was the aim of the Green Legacy Initiative launched in 2019. According to the government, the objective has been exceeded and the survival rate was high (83.4% in 2019, 79% in 2020). There are doubts whether these figures are true, similar projects elsewhere having had survival rates of around 50% only five years after planting. Then, there is the question of varieties planted: “Putting the right species, in the right places, for the right purposes is essential”, with indigenous varieties generally thought best. Eucalyptus trees, for example, “grow fast and produce more timber (…). However, they require a lot of water and can drain soil of vital nutrients, making it harder to grow other crops.” Eucalyptus trees do have the advantage of providing benefits (timber) to the communities and thus stand higher chances of being looked after in the long run. Survival of seedlings has in some areas been made difficult by drought – it is necessary “to grow trees that are right, not only for today – but also for tomorrow's climate conditions”, so drought-resistant varieties may be needed. Ethiopia’s Green Legacy Initiative contributes – substantially – to the Great Green Wall project that stretches from Senegal to Djibouti and tries to stop desertification.

18 November 2022

Botswana: While lithium prices are increasing on world markets, four men have been arrested with 40 lithium batteries from mobile phone towers worth close to 80,000 USD. Such thefts compromise mobile phone services.
BBC Africa Live 18 November 2022. 6:45

African mountains in times of climate change: With less snow and ice covering mountains, they become darker and hotter (white ice/snow reflects light/heat, keeping the ground cool) – so “(m)ountains worldwide are already warming twice as fast as the global average.” In Africa, glaciers still existing on Mount Kenya, Kilimanjaro and the Rwenzori mountains are in rapid retreat and will be gone by 2050. The disappearance of glaciers means that rockfalls, landslides and debris flows will become more frequent. Furthermore, surrounding communities may be deprived of their water sources. “Climate change may (also) pose problems for both the survival of keystone species and for overall biome integrity”, Afromontane biogeographical region being a global biodiversity hotspot.

Senegal & Wolof/French: French is the country’s one and only official language (Malinke, Wolof, Serer, Diola, Soninke, Pular and 15 more being ‘national languages’), but “the golden age of the French language in Senegal seems to be over”. Wolof is “spoken and understood by at least 90% of the population”. “French is no longer the language of privilege”, Africanisation is taking place. Media and alphabetisation in other languages than French have contributed to the upswing of Wolof and the recession of French.

Ghana: Online campaigns can be enhanced by practical offline actions. The latter help avoid ‘slacktivism’ – people not truly engaged or devoted to the cause. The author bases his article on the OccupyGhana, #RedFriday and #OccupyFlagstaffHouse campaigns.

Mozambique: In the country and inside Frelimo, the party that has been ruling since independence, democracy is in decline. The Economist Intelligence Unit now classifies Mozambique as an authoritarian regime (it used to be ‘hybrid’). Within Frelimo, Nyusi and the 11 provincial secretaries were elected unopposed at the latest party congress. Being in total control and Frelimo having a two-thirds majority in parliament, Nyusi could easily change the constitution and run a third time for president. But internationally, nobody seems to notice, attention is “focused on fighting the northern Mozambique insurgency and on the country’s first liquefied natural gas export to ease Europe’s energy crisis since the start of Russia’s war against Ukraine.”