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 The New Times (Rwanda): UNEP Commends Environmental Policy http://allafrica.com/stories/201102180145.html   Rwanda has gained recognition from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for a rather simple, but significant, environmental effort. The country has banned plastic bags altogether and since the law was enacted in 2005 it has been successfully enforced. This effort has been attributed to a larger appreciate for the benefits of protecting the environment and developing in a sustainable way.UNEP Director, Achim Stiener, recognized that Rwanda “has set an example for other African states to follow.”   This initiative on plastic bags is only a small piece of a larger commitment to environmental sustainability that the Rwandan government has successfully and responsibly engaged in.  Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), Rose Mukankomeje, made it clear that “that the country is "going green" in all sectors of the economy, from schools to agricultural activities and towns.”  This all encompassing effort is formally expressed in Rwanda’s latest constitution which includes an amendment which serves as a “new organic law on the environment—article 3, which stipulates that every person has the right to live under a safe and clean environment.” President Paul Kagame has also made an effort to emphasize…

    AllAfrica.com: Technology Eyed to Improve Lives of Women http://allafrica.com/stories/201103080774.html         Liberia’s emphasis on the education of women and girls as a key element to economic development has gained international recognition and attracted assistance from some of the world’s top information technology experts.  A delegation led by Princeton University Professor Ann Marie Slaughter which included another seven female technology experts, including representatives from Google and Twitter, travelled to Liberia to “explore how mobile technology can be used to improve the lives of women” under a U.S. State Department program. While Liberia seeks to build its infrastructural capacity in order to engage its population in advanced technology, the delegation focused on how to train women and girls so that they may benefit from the new opportunities.   Under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia has demonstrated a strong commitment to the advancement of women in both political and economic roles as the country develops. This attracted the U.S. State Department delegation as there is both interest and opportunity for programs focused on women’s education to thrive. The delegation visited teacher training institutes to collaborate on the best ways to use advanced technology to increase literacy. They also focused…

BuaNews (Tshwane, South Africa): "Companies Must Get Into Southern Sudan Early – Sisulu" http://allafrica.com/stories/201102230067.html     As South Sudan’s independence date draws nearer many South African companies see opportunity where others see hardship. The South African Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Lindiwe Sisulu, is encouraging South African businesses to “take advantages of opportunities in Southern Sudan as soon as possible.” A new market that was once significantly stifled by sanctions and debt is suddenly emerging and has plenty of room to grow. South African officials have identified “agriculture, minerals and energy, infrastructure development, information technology and telecoms, water purification and supply, as well as forestry and banking” as “key opportunities.” Sisulu sees the reconstruction of South Sudan not only as a humanitarian responsibility but also as economic opportunity for South African businesses.   Many have already begun to take the unique opportunity. For instance, SABMiller (a South African brewery) completed its construction of a $30 million plant and began production in the budding country over a year ago. The South Sudanese can now enjoy their first locally produced beer, White Bull Lager. South African owned and operated, Kwezi V3 Engineers, have also joined the movement, sending consultants to South…

Media Global (New York): “Microsavings Opens Up a World of Possibilities” http://allafrica.com/stories/201102140002.html http://www.africasummit.org/?p=804For those living on less than $2 a day there are few available financial tools that many of us may take for granted like bank accounts, credit, or insurance. However, even when the denominations are small, these financial tools can make a major difference in the profitability, security, and viability of a family’s finances. A few dollars is generally not enough to open or sustain a minimum balance in savings account at a traditional banking institution yet it can provide substantial security for low income family in times of need. Without the security of a bank account, savings must be kept in hand, in the home, or in risky informal banking and investment ventures. Access to a safe place to keep money can make a major impact on the ability of families and individuals to “manage risks and take advantage of commercial opportunities.” Without formal banking, saving money can be a risky endeavor. Robbery, flooding, and fires are real risks, not only for property, but for any savings hidden in drawer, under a mattress or in a pocket. Needy friends and family members and impulse spending can also…

 BBC: “Africa’s mobile banking revolution” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8194241.stm                 A new type of banking has taken root across many parts of Africa. While the number of mobile phone users across the continent has reached an estimated 500 million people most do not have access to a personal bank account or credit cards. This has helped to advance the use of mobile phone banking, a fairly simple process by which mobile user can transfer prepaid credits to another mobile user who can then redeem the credit for cash. Although this method of transferring money is virtually unheard of in the United States, “millions of Africans are using mobile phones to pay bills, move cash and buy basic everyday items.” People have found a variety of conveniences through this new service.  Some use mobile banking to send money to far away relatives, others use it as a secure way to store funds, or making business transactions. One charitable clinic in Tanzania uses the technology to send roundtrip bus fares to low income patients in rural areas allowing them to afford the cost of travel necessary to receive care.[1] However, the major cause for the service’s success is its penetration…

The East African (Nairobi): "The Story of a Food Secure Nation" http://allafrica.com/stories/201101311486.html   Less than three years ago Rwanda put into action a plan aimed at increasing food security. Since then food production has steadily increased at a rate of 16 percent per year, an incredible accomplishment compared with the rate of growth previous to the nationwide effort of only 0.7 percent. Today the country has developed a strong agricultural base which has “bid food deficits goodbye.”   The initiative began with the aim to provide one cow per family in 2006. The cows made significant improvements in the lives of many rural individuals and families by adding additional nourishment, natural fertilizer, and a little income to their homes. The government also enacted policy which would halt land fragmentation and encouraged the merging of smaller farms in order to make the “best use of fertiliser, improved seeds and labour.” Government management of the sector was improved through the reorganization and investment of homegrown agricultural policy and research. These policies were followed by additional programs like the “Crop Intensification Project” which began “distributing high-yielding seed varieties and fertiliser across the country” in 2008.   Of course nature has played its role, however,…

    Publisher: Al Jazeera Publication Date: February 1, 2011 Copyright: 2011 Publisher Website: http://english.aljazeera.net/ Language: English Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians have streamed into central Cairo on Tuesday, taking over Tahrir Square in an unprecedented protest against President Hosni Mubarak. Packed shoulder to shoulder, they held aloft posters denouncing the president, and chanted slogans "Go Mubarak Go" and "Leave! Leave! Leave!" Similar demonstrations calling on Mubarak to step down were also witnessed across other cities, including Sinai, Alexandria, Suez, Mansoura, Damnhour, Arish, Tanta and El-Mahalla el-Kubra.

  Egypt –  Article published the Monday 17 January 2011 – Latest update : Monday 17 January 2011 Man sets himself alight outside parliament in Cairo Fears that protests in Tunisia may spread to neighbouring Egypt Reuters/Asmaa Waguih By RFI A parliamentary source said the man, identified as restaurant owner Abdo Abdelmoneim, stood in front of the People’s Assembly on Monday, covered himself in fuel and set himself on fire. A policeman standing near the victim was able to extinguish the fire and the man was immediately taken away by ambulance.   In an apparent copycat replay of the self-immolation of a Tunisian graduate, the official MENA agency says Abdelmoneim was protesting because he had not received bread coupons for his restaurant. Tunisian graduate, Mohammed Bouazizi, eventually died from his injuries sparking a wave of protests in the country that would topple the 23-year-old regime of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Egyptians have often voiced similar grievances to Tunisians. They complain of economic hardships and the failure by Cairo to lift an emergency law in place for three decades. On Friday, dozens of Egyptians celebrated the ouster of Ben Ali outside the Tunisian embassy in central Cairo. Meanwhile, Egypt’s Foreign…

  23 January 2011   Anti-government protesters in the Tunisian capital are continuing to heap pressure on Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi to quit. Backed by the country’s main trade union, thousands of "caravan of liberation" marchers descended in Tunis from the impoverished region where the uprising began last month. Public assemblies of more than three people are officially banned under a state of emergency that has remained in place, along with a night-time curfew, since president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted last week.   The peaceful demonstrators were joined by hundreds of police officers, some of whom briefly blocked a car carrying interim president Foued Mebazaa, the speaker of parliament. "The aim of this caravan is to make the government fall," said Rabia Slimane, 40, a teacher from Menzel Bouzaiane, where the first victim of the uprising was killed by security forces last month. The General Union of Tunisian Workers, or UGTT, is refusing to recognise the new government because of its inclusion of figures from the old regime. Ghannouchi has been prime minister in Tunisia since 1999. Following the revolt, he promised to resign from political life after Tunisia holds its first free and fair polls since…

Cairo — Mohammed Bouazizi, the 26-year old Tunisian whose act of self-immolation led to an unprecedented popular revolution in Tunisia, is quickly turning into a symbol for disgruntled Arab youths angry at their autocratic rulers and poor economic conditions – a development that Arab leaders in the region are clearly taking note of.   On Tuesday a third Egyptian who set himself ablaze in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria to protest unemployment died at hospital. This came after a man set himself alight outside the Cabinet offices in downtown Cairo, and another set himself on fire Monday to protest his inability to obtain subsidised bread. Egypt, a country of 85 million people, has implemented an economic programme, in agreement with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), that includes lowering subsidies for staple foods and energy. The programme has deprived millions of Egyptians of inexpensive bread and pushed prices upwards for several other food items. As a result protests over salaries and lack of benefits have rocked the country over the past five years. Other Western-backed Arab rulers – under prodding from Western economic institutions – are implementing similar programmes that…