Items filtered by date: Monday, 06 November 2017

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe dismissed Emmerson Mnangagwa as his deputy, a day after first lady Grace Mugabe accused him of planning a coup and said she’s prepared to succeed her husband as leader of the southern African nation.

Mngangagwa, 75, was fired for “among other things, disloyalty,” Information Minister Simon Khaya Moyo told reporters Monday at Mugabe’s office in the capital, Harare. The announcement followed the president’s Emmerson Mnangagwacomments at a rally on Saturday in the southern African nation’s second-biggest city, Bulawayo, that he was prepared to dismiss Mnangagwa.

Tensions in the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front have grown as the nation gears up for elections next year when it may face a seven-party opposition alliance that’s capitalizing on public discord over cash shortages, crumbling infrastructure and a collapse in government services. While Zanu-PF named Mugabe, 93, as its presidential candidate, he’s appeared frail in public, sparking concern among his supporters that he may be unable to complete another five-year term.

“It’s clear Mugabe has his own succession in mind,” Brian Raftopoulos, the Cape Town-based director of research at the Solidarity Peace Trust, a church-backed human rights group, said by phone. “He’s been getting rid of potential successors he doesn’t like.”

On Sunday, Grace announced she’s prepared to succeed the president, who’s ruled Zimbabwe since 1980. She accused Mnangagwa of attempting to “carry out a coup” against the president and said at a rally in Harare, on Sunday, that she’d told her husband that he “should leave your position for me.”

Ruling Party Tensions

While Mnangagwa had been considered a leading candidate to succeed Mugabe, he’s suffered setbacks in recent weeks, including losing his position as justice minister in a cabinet reshuffle. His faction of supporters is known as Lacoste, taken from the French sportswear company’s Lacoste’s logo, a crocodile -- the nickname he earned during the liberation war against white-minority rule.

“If Emmerson Mnangagwa takes a lot of people with him, it means the party is weakened, even if the faction against him looks strengthened,” Derek Matyszak, an analyst at the Southern African Political Economic Series Trust, said by phone.

The current divisions are the worst since 2014 when Mugabe fired Joice Mujuru as vice president after Grace accused her of plotting against the president. She’s now part of the opposition alliance that includes former Finance Minister Tendai Biti and ex-Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

“There’s nothing to say or do,” Mnangagwa’s spokesman, Nharo Gwatidzo, said from Harare. “We’ve been fired.”


- Bloomberg

Published in Economy
Monday, 06 November 2017 16:02

Ford to invest R3bn in South Africa

American car-maker Ford said it would invest R3 billion ($211 million) in its South African assembly plant to meet rising domestic and international demand for its Ford Ranger pickup truck, the company said last week.

“This significant investment reaffirms Ford’s ongoing commitment to South Africa as a local manufacturer, exporter and key employer in the automotive sector,” Ockert Berry, vice president operations for Ford Middle East and Africa said in a statement. ($1 = R14.20)


- Reuters

Published in Business

Cote d'Ivoire inaugurated the Chinese-built Soubre hydroelectric power station, the largest of its kind in the West African country.

The 4.5-km-long hydropower dam at Naoua Falls on the Sassandra River, with an installed capacity of 275 megawatts (MW), is expected to increase hydro power in Cote d'Ivoire's energy mix and cement the country's status as a key power producer and supplier in West Africa.

The Soubre project, dormant for several decades due to lack of funding, was launched in February 2013 with funding from China. One of Soubre's four total generator units started generating electricity in May, about eight months ahead of schedule, according to the builder Sinohydro Corporation Limited, which is under PowerChina.

"The Government of Cote d'Ivoire is very satisfied with the quality and speed of the construction of the Soubre hydroelectric dam," Alassane Ouattara, President of Cote d'Ivoire, said at the inauguration ceremony held in front of the dam.

The president said Cote d'Ivoire is willing to have more cooperation with China.

Hailing it as "one of the landmark achievements of cooperation between China and Cote d'Ivoire," Wang Jun, Charge d'affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Cote d'Ivoire, noted in his speech that the hydro station has helped deepen the bilateral economic and trade cooperation, especially in the areas of energy and hydroelectricity.

"Soubre dam is of high quality and built within a shorter period than schedule. I've been impressed by both the determination and flexibility shown in the Chinese builder's work," said Teyssiaux Jean, an engineer with Tractebel Engineering, a French company in charge of quality supervision over Soubre's construction.

The cost of the Soubre project is about 572 million US dollars, of which 85 percent is financed by the Export-Import Bank of China and 15 percent by Cote d'Ivoire. Cote d'Ivoire has the ambition to push its power production capacity to 4,000 MW by 2020. Thursday's inauguration of Soubre adds to the country's existing capacity of around 2,000 MW.

"With Soubre dam, we're on course to meet the target of 4,000 MW by 2020," said Thierry Tanoh, energy minister of Cote d'Ivoire, noting that the dam contributes greatly to the improvement of people's livelihoods.

Following the Soubre inauguration, a foundation laying ceremony was held at the same site for the 112-MW Gribo-Popoli project, a dam 15 km downstream of Soubre, to be built also by Sinohydro.

Published in Engineering

Protesters clashed with police in western Ivory Coast's cocoa belt on Friday after the death of a youth leader, raising the prospect of more disruptions to the harvest.

Nearly 7,000 people have fled illegal plantations and 10 have died in the past month because of land disputes between native groups and migrants from other parts of Ivory Coast and neighbouring countries.
Ethnically charged conflicts over land in Ivory Coast's fertile west were at the heart of a decade of turmoil that culminated in a brief civil war in 2010-11 that killed more than 3,000 people.

Members of the We alliance from the Guere, Yacouba and Wobe ethnic groups have in recent weeks entered the Cavally and Gouin-Debe reserves and threatened ethnic Baoules and migrants from Burkina Faso farming there, hurting cocoa deliveries.

Violence flared after well-known We youth leader Modeste Nenonhon was shot dead on Thursday in the village of Beoua, the Red Cross and a government spokesman told Reuters.
The house of a local prefect was ransacked by protesters in the town of Guiglo, where many of the farmers have fled, said government spokesman Bruno Kone, adding that an inquiry into the violence and the death were underway.

It was not clear who was responsible for the shooting, but thousands of We demonstrators again took to the streets in the towns of Blolequin and Guiglo on Friday. In Guiglo, police fired tear gas to disperse protesters.

"There is a big march to Blolequin and another one also to Guiglo," said Franck Gaba, an official with the Ivorian Red Cross. "Last night, a vehicle was set on fire in the court where Baoule displaced people are set up."
Baoule and Burkinabe farmers in the region were on edge, fearing retaliatory attacks after the youth leader's death.
"We are afraid for our safety in the villages here because ... the youth of the alliance will seek revenge," said Felix Kouadio, who cultivates seven hectares of cocoa in the Gouin-Debe reserve.

The volume of cocoa beans from the area has already dropped in recent weeks as farmers flee. Continuing tensions could impact more deliveries just as the cocoa harvest picks up pace this month. The Ivorian Parks and Reserves Office (OIPR) estimates that up to 40 percent of Ivorian cocoa production comes from illegal plantations like the ones impacted by the violence.



Published in Agriculture

As the most robust economy in Central Africa, Cameroon, has in the past decade taken steps to further boost growth, making major advances in providing health, education, and clean water, and launching an ambitious infrastructure investment programme to become a middle-income country by 2035, according to the AfDB’s Cameroon Country Brief released on 2 November 2017.

The report highlights the country’s efforts towards achieving this objective, with the Bank’s support, by aligning its development actions to AfDB High 5 strategic pillars.

“Progress has been impressive, but a big leap in business competitiveness is required, to create a more diverse, inclusive, regional economy,” said Simon Mizrahi, Director of the Delivery, Performance Management and results.

Here are a few highlights and insights from the report:

  • Light Up and Power Cameroon: With abundant sun, rivers, and natural gas reserves, Cameroon could potentially be an electricity exporter to the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC). But for now, the country must address domestic power shortages, strong annual demand growth of 8%, and low electricity access in rural areas.  As of next year, however, 2.7 million Cameroonians will have better electricity access, due to a national plan to expand production and transmission with AfDB’s support.
  • Feed Cameroon: To fulfill its potential in agriculture, which accounts for  40% of GDP, , the AfDB has helped Cameroon double agriculture output, which has lifted the livelihoods of 4.6 million farmers by 15%, including promoting small holders agribusiness, better nutrition, and strengthening food security.
  • Industrialise Cameroon: The economy rebounded to 5.7% growth in 2015, boosted by agribusiness and construction, and the time to start a business shrank to 15 days from 45. However, the country should cut red tape and make it easier for businesses to get loans. Internet use rose 10-fold but stands at 11%, although that will grow: the Central African Backbone will install 1,000 km of fiber optic cables with AfDB financing.
  • Integrate Cameroon: Intra-Africa trade tripled in the past decade, but a big investment gap remains to build transport, energy, and information and communications infrastructure to underpin further growth. Recent trade growth was boosted by an AfDB-backed road, the 535 km corridor in the fertile zone from Bamenda in Cameroon to Enugu in Nigeria, which cut travel time to hours instead of days, and lifted the incomes of traders and farmers.
  • Improve the Quality of Life for Cameroonians: Despite investing heavily in health centers, schools, and clean water – only three-quarters of the population currently  have clean drinking water - Cameroon must create more jobs, especially for its youth. 

To better serve Cameroon, AfDB has recently expanded its Yaounde office, striking new partnerships to leverage more financing, and raising its investment to $2.8 billion.

Looking forward, Cameroon has several ambitious endeavours in its bid to narrow the investment gap in trade, energy, and transport, and to further expand its position as the largest regional trading partner in Central Africa, though projects, such as the AfDB-funded study on the Cameroon-Chad electricity Interconnection Line, one of the largest projects in the Economic community of Central African States (ECCAS).

Cameroon is the economic powerhouse  of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), accounting for nearly 40% of the region's gross domestic product (GDP). It has abundant natural resources, a diversified economic and industrial fabric and a prominent geographical location. With these potentialities, the country meets the challenges that arise on a daily basis and aims to reach the level of emerging countries by 2035. Produce and distribute more energy, modernize agriculture, develop the industrial sector, strengthening regional integration and improving the quality of life of Cameroonians by providing them with access to basic services are at the forefront of these challenges.

Published in Economy

African countries have worked hard to improve children’s access to basic education, but there’s still significant work to be done. Today, 32,6 million children of primary-school age and 25,7 million adolescents are not going to school in sub-Saharan Africa. The quality of education also remains a significant issue, but there’s a possibility the technology could be part of the solution.

The digital revolution currently under way in the region has led to a boom in trials using information and communication technology (ICT) in education – both in and out of the classroom.

A study carried out by the French Development Agency (AFD), the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), Orange and Unesco shows that ICT in education in general, and mobile learning in particular, offers a number of possible benefits. These include access to low-cost teaching resources, added value compared to traditional teaching and a complementary solution for teacher training.

This means that there’s a huge potential to reach those excluded from education systems. The quality of knowledge and skills that are taught can also be improved.

The irresistible digital revolution

Access to means of communication is now a key part of daily life for the vast majority of people living in Africa. Mobile telephone prices and the cost of communication have dropped. Mobile telephone use has increased from 5% in 2003 to 73% in 2014. There are 650 million mobile phone owners on the continent (more than the US and Europe combined) and 3G mobile networks are growing rapidly.

Costs are falling and rural areas will soon be reachable thanks to a number of developments. These include undersea cables connecting Africa to other continents, fibre-optic cables that provide connectivity within the continent and recent satellite connection plans. Access to wired Internet remains low with 11% of households connected. But access to mobile Internet is already helping the region catch up. Smartphone penetration levels should reach 20% in 2017.

This rapid expansion of mobile Internet services is already contributing to the region’s economic and social development. This is particularly the case in areas such as financial inclusion (mobile banking), health (mobile health) and farmers’ productivity.

Given the features of mobile telephones (voice calling, text messaging) and smartphones (reading texts and documents, MP3, images and video) and their wide availability, their potential for improving access and quality of educational services is also boundless.

M-learning (or m-education) – educational services via a connected mobile device – is the main lever for growth in educational information and communication technology and for making content available. This could be for learning (teacher training, learner-centred teaching, tests) or making up for the lack of data for education system management.

New technologies for learning

Mass communication technology has been used as a principal driver of education in Africa since the 1960s. Countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, Niger and Senegal developed major programmes using radio and then television to promote basic education, improve teacher training and even teaching pupils directly. These programmes reached a high number of pupils at a relatively low cost. But results in terms of academic performance remain difficult to evaluate.

The mass distribution of computer hardware then took over in the 1990s. Many national and international programmes started to concentrate on equipping schools with computers to facilitate digital education and offer new educational media in the form of educational software and CD-ROMs. Use was mainly centred on schools. But trials were often launched without clear pedagogical objectives and state-defined policy frameworks.

Digital Services for Education in Africa

The arrival of personal computers in the 2000s facilitated the individualisation of school ICT. The US One Laptop per Child project, launched in several African countries in 2005, aimed to equip schools with laptops at low cost.

Nearly 2 million teachers and pupils are involved in this programme across the world. More than 2.4 million computers (at a cost of around $200 including an open teaching platform) have been delivered. Evaluations show that the use of portable or fixed computers in the classroom has only a limited effect on pupils’ academic performance. But it may have a positive impact on certain cognitive abilities if pupils can use their computers at home in the evening.

The One Laptop per Child programme equips thousands of African schoolchildren. One Laptop per Child/Flickr

Contents and uses

Since 2010 the large-scale diffusion of mobile communications technology has transformed practices with easier access to educational resources in and outside school. The arrival of low-cost, low-consumption smartphones and tablets allows ICT in education to gradually move out of the school environment.

There has been a shift from a tool-based approach to one that’s centred on content and use. These mobile tools, particularly tablets, offer important opportunities to tackle the lack of books and textbooks. The distribution of Kindle-style readers to 600,000 children in nine African countries has seen a considerable impact on reading and on pupils’ results in educational tests.

The sending of text messaging containing short lessons, multiple choice tests or audio recordings have also been shown to have an important effect on teachers. This is also true of MOOCs (massive open online courses) adapted to African countries’ needs and capacities.

The cross-fertilisation of teaching models and tools has broadened the potential of information and communication technology in education. Some technologies, perceived as outdated, are undergoing a partial revival thanks to the combination of media that can be used in any single project. For example radio and television programmes are inexpensive and attract a considerable audience. Combined with Internet and mobile phones they provide promising educational results.

The BBC’s Janala English-instruction programme for the people of Bangladesh is a good example of cooperation between very diverse actors.

What are the conditions for success?

Most African countries are showing an interest in technology in education. But a range of conditions must be satisfied to ensure that they are deployed efficiently within the educational landscape. This includes:

  • Responding to technical and economic constraints

  • Responding to users’ needs and strengthening their capacities

  • Finding sustainable funding models

  • Facilitating effective multi-stakeholder collaboration.

Although the time for innovation and experiment will never end, now is the moment to put systems and strategies in place for moving to the next level, particularly by setting up stakeholder coalitions. ICT will not resolve all of Africa’s education problems. But it can help to fundamentally change the current paradigm of skills development systems.

This article was co-authored with Erwan Lequentrec (Orange Labs) and Francesc Pedró (Unesco). The text is based on “Digital Services for Education in Africa”, written by David Ménascé and Flore Clément.

Rohen d’Aiglepierre, PhD, chargé de recherche « Capital humain », AFD (Agence française de développement); Amélie Aubert, Chef de projet « Éducation, formation, emploi », AFD (Agence française de développement), and Pierre-Jean Loiret, Responsable du numérique éducatif, Agence universitaire de la francophonie (AUF)

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Telecoms

  1. Opinions and Analysis


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