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 Positive Predictions for E-tourism’s Growth in Africa   E-tourism, or the ability to book hotel, flight and other travel reservations online, accounts for about 56 percent of global travel today. Yet as late as 2005, e-tourism accounted for less than “2 percent of tourism revenues in Africa.” However, the disparity seems to be narrowing due to South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup when online booking jumped to 5 percent. Now, continued growth is expected and projections predict that the percentage of bookings made online throughout Africa will reach “15-20 percent by 2015.” Although there remain challenges to overcome before more of Africa’s hotels, parks and resorts are available for reservation online such as “high cost of bandwidth, the lack of integrated, real-time reservation systems and local online payment gateways.”   However, the challenges to online business on the continent have not hampered interest by major online travel agencies. As interest in tourism to Africa increases and the internet becomes more accessible on the continent, these companies see a major opportunity to expand their markets. In fact, the popular travel site Expedia has even gone so far to open a new office whose sole purpose is to focus…

Malaria Prevention Efforts Find Success in Zanzibar The widespread destabilizing effects of malaria have become a thing of the past on the island of Zanzibar of the coast of East Africa. However, this was not always the case, but has been achieved through determined efforts by the government and the international community. The results are staggering. In 2002, just before Zanzibar’s strong initiative to prevent the disease took root, one small clinic in Matemwe village of the Unguja region was treating about 3,063 cases a year. From 2006 to 2010, only 31 cases were reported, an incredible feat in just a few years. What’s even more incredible is that Zanzibar’s efforts utilized solutions that are well known, commonly utilized, and can be made available across the world, including “insecticide- treated bed nets, widespread home spraying, rapid diagnostic kits, lifesaving drugs and public education.”   Zanzibar’s success in malaria prevention can be attributed to careful planning, sufficient funding and a sustained commitment. Reduction in malaria infections gained significant gains in 2004 after healthcare officials recognized the disease’s resistance on the island to chloroquine, one of the most commonly used malaria treatment drugs, and halted its distribution switching to the more effective…

 Energy Efficient Stoves Make Impact on Ugandan Environment   The worldwide effort to reduce carbon emissions is having a profound effect on the type of stoves used in Uganda. Carbon financing has allowed on small company to produce and provide efficient cooking stoves to Ugandans, saving money, resources and the environment. Ugastove, a thriving producer of energy efficient stoves based in Kampala, has provided over 300,000 homes with their product. The stoves “have a thick clay lining that holds in the heat of burning charcoal and cooks food more efficiently…[and] use only half as much fuel as conventional stoves, saving a family the equivalent of 80 dollars a year.” The stove’s reduced charcoal usage is also making a significant impact on the environment as “more than 98 percent of Ugandans rely on charcoal or firewood as an energy source.” A reduction in the consumption of these resources has the potential so save “tens of thousands of hectares of trees.”   Although the promise of more efficient stoves is great, Ugastove has had to find creative ways to overcome the challenges of selling a more expensive product to those with limited resources. Although a more efficient stove saves the user a…

 Humanitarianism and Capitalism find Harmony in Ghana One company in Ghana has recently discovered that fighting malaria and increasing worker productivity go hand in hand. Throughout the world, Malaria “kills almost 800, 000 adults and children worldwide, 90% of them in Africa” yet is a totally preventable and curable disease when the appropriate medication is available. These deplorable figures are in addition to the estimated cost of “$12 billion annually in lost productivity” due to malaria plaguing the African workforce. AngloGold Ashanti, a gold mining and marketing company based in Johannesburg, South Africa, has shifted their malaria policy from reactionary to preventative in an attempt to increase worker productivity. Their program targets malaria prevention not only for their own employees, but for the entire community. Their efforts have led to “massive reductions in productivity losses, school absenteeism, infant mortality and treatment costs.”   Malaria is a serious obstacle for AngloGold Ashanti’s business in Ghana as it can be for many companies operating throughout Africa.  Steve Knowles, AngloGold Ashanti’s Director for Malaria Control, even went so far to say that “there was no doubt that malaria was the biggest threat to us as a company.” In fact, “in 2005 the Obuasi…

  Some Rwandan’s may soon be deriving large amounts of relatively inexpensive electricity from an uncommon source, Lake Kivu. The lake is large, 1,000 square miles, and deep, with a maximum depth of 1,575 ft.  However, its unique characteristic is “the rich supplies of methane gas that are lying in its depths.” The methane is a result of area volcanoes and anaerobic bacteria, and there is an estimated 60 billion cubic meters of it trapped deep below the surface. The trapped gas has traditionally been viewed as a local hazard but is now being seen as a potential energy source in a region which is hampered by shortages. The Rwandan government has launched a pilot program which has already begun to extract methane from the lake in the hopes of attracting investors. This type of energy production is especially attractive for the Rwandan government because it isn’t exported, but derived from Rwanda’s own resources. The mechanisms for extracting underwater methane are also cheaper than those of hydro or thermal plants. The methane extraction process involves lowering a pipe so that it is positioned just above the gas. Then, “when a valve is opened, the deep water flows up and the gas…

Many of the children of Mathare, a slum in Nairobi, become victim of the pervasive poverty and crime that often defines the community. However, one innovative school is investing in ballet to inspire and enrich the children to reach their full potential.  About 40 children in the school have begun to take beginning ballet once a week and the program’s organizers are very optimistic about the effect these classes may have on its pupils. The class instructor, Mike Wamaya explains that for these children, ballet is “a chance to be yourself and a chance to interact and express yourself in an artistic way.”   The dance classes are a result of a partnership with the school and Anno’s Africa, an English charity which provides “arts education to vulnerable children” in Africa. The classes cost very little for the funders, the children practice in a local church without traditional equipment like mirrors or bars, but the effect is grand. Wamata explains that, “We believe it keeps our guys focused. It prepares them mentally and it trains them how to breathe and have body postures." Teachers have reported that students who have participated in the classes are doing better at school as…

 Innovation in Medical Care Brings Access to Rural Areas in Rwanda   Simple medical attention can be hard to come by in rural areas of many developing countries. For instance, “just a few years ago the Burera district [of Rwanda] only had one doctor for its 350,000 population.” This has serious consequences for those in need and can cause what should be low risk exercises, like routine childbirth, to turn deadly. However, the inability to provide care for women has caused “childbirth [to be] the number-one killer of young to middle-aged women in developing countries.” In Rwanda, where maternal mortality is extremely high, government officials are relying on innovation to aid in the fight against this humanitarian crisis.   A cooperative effort between the Rwandan government and a variety of foundations and non-profit organizations has allowed Rwanda to begin constructing community health centers in rural areas of the country. A major donor, Partners in Health, not only provided funding but the expertise for a state of the art medical facility in Rwanda’s Burera district. Dr. Peter Drobac, the Rwanda project director for the organization explained that their purpose is to “help support the government implement their roadmap and do it…

 Community Gardens Grow Hope in South Africa   A sandy plot in the middle of Khayelitsha, one of Cape Town’s largest townships, does not seem like the ideal place for a garden to thrive. However, sixty-three year old local resident Christina Kaba has made it so. As a matter of fact Christina, along with other local women, has successfully implemented 28 community garden projects in the township which are providing fresh food to the community and even turning a profit. It began with the simple idea of putting food on the tables of the community but has seen unpredicted success due to the desire of people throughout Cape Town to have fresh fruits and vegetables.   According to local residents participating in the program, “the community gardens have transformed the area, and the lives of its residents.”   The gardens have grown from a modest supply of fresh produce to the participating members of the project to big business. The gardeners are now selling their harvest to the larger Cape Town market through a program called “Harvest for Hope.” This initiative was set up in 2008 as a way to give small scale township farmers access to viable markets. Demand has…

An Arizona based organization, ‘Ride 4 a Woman,” has successfully begun a program in Uganda which will train more than two hundred women in bicycle maintenance and repair. The two week training course is part of a larger initiative with the goal of “help[ing] disadvantaged women gain new, marketable skills and at the same time promote an environmentally-friendly form of travel, namely, cycling.” After completing the bicycle repair course the women will have the opportunity to expand their knowledge and increase their viability to successfully run a bike based business through job training which emphasizes professional skills. As bicycle mechanics is not a traditional job for women in this region, the program allows women to create their own opportunities in an untapped sector of the economy. Although the direct impact of training women to contribute to the local economy will certainly be felt, Ride 4 a Woman has a larger vision for the community. They have broke ground on a women’s center which will “house a venue for training courses, a bike repair station, a bike shop, and eventually a bike manufacturing section” and hopes to be a “hub of local activity.” The organization hopes to drive development and growth…

 Brilliant Innovation Produces Energy from Trash in Kenya   Public sanitation and hygiene have long been compromised by the lack of public works programs to remove trash and sewage from Kenya’s urban low income areas. Resident’s have been left with the task of their community’s garbage removal and human waste facilities which has been far too daunting without the proper equipment or resources.  However, a community based organization, Ushirika Wa Safi or “‘an association to maintain cleanliness’ in Swahili,” in the Kenyan slum of Kibera has begun to make large strides in successfully accomplishing this task without government assistance.  Innovation and the will to improve their standards of living have allowed this community to develop their own sustainable waste removal system which doubles as a “community cooker that turns waste into an energy source.” Some say Ushirika Wa Safi’s program is radically improving the lives of the community’s residents.   The organization began its work simply enough, as a group that would send out teams once a week to collect and burn garbage in the community. Soon organizers thought to use the burning garbage as an energy source to warm a boiler that could provide hot water to residents for…