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BBC: Ghana oil begins pumping for first time http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-11996983     Ghana has officially begun to pump oil from vast underwater reservoirs found off the country’s shores three years ago. It was found in the ‘Jubilee Field’ and is “estimated to hold 1.5billion barrels of oil.” Another nearby field was discovered this year with an estimated additional 1.4 billion barrels significantly adding to potential revenues and the prospects of a new booming industry. A UK based oil production company, Tullow Oil, is now producing 55,000 barrels every day. The oil’s discovery and production will certainly have a large impact on the African country as revenues are expected to eventually reach $1 billion yearly. Although, some reports are skeptical of the benefits the oil will bring to Ghanaians. In other developing countries of the region, such as Nigeria, the cash flow from oil production has done more to fuel conflict rather than aide development. Indeed there is some concern about the lack of legislation and formal procedure to manage the new industry.   However, Ghana is notably different from countries in the region which have had less than favorable results of oil revenues. Stephen Hayes, head of the Corporate Council on Africa…

UNDP: Tackling the Costs of Gender Inequality to Africa’s Development http://content.undp.org/go/newsroom/2010/november/tackling-the-costs-of-gender-inequality-to-africas-development.en   The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the African Institute for Economic Development (IDEP) have recently launched a new program which intends to advance policies which benefit men and women equally in Africa. The mission of the ‘Global Gender and Economic Policy Management Initiative-Africa’ program (GEPMI-Africa) is to “target government officials, development practitioners, civil society organizations and research institutes to help countries promote gender-responsive policies in specific areas such as health, education and labour.”[i] The program is a result of increasing evidence and support for economic growth through gender equality. As increasing evidence from research on gender studies has mounted it has become clear that women’s rights are not only ethical, but also economically beneficial for developing countries. Currently, “women continue to consistently trail men in formal labor force participation, access to credit, entrepreneurship rates, income levels, and inheritance and ownership rights” which often alienates the population from gaining from development programs.[ii] This alienation hampers women from taking part in development and as a result “slows down poverty reduction and economic growth” for the population as a whole. [iii] Alternatively, increasing access to employment, education, technology and credit in…

CNN: The Fight to Stem Africa’s Rural Exodus http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/africa/12/10/africa.rural.exodus/?hpt=C2     While many African cities are thriving, providing more and more people with amenities such as clean water, electricity and medical care, these strides are often not matched in rural areas. It is no wonder then why many Africans are choosing to leave their rural villages to try and find a better life. In fact a new report from the U.N. estimates that “14 million people in sub-Saharan Africa migrate from rural to urban areas every year [and] of those, 70% move into slums,” indicating that not everyone finds what they were looking for.   Programs have been set up to address this challenge, like Rural Futures, which has support from major organizations such as the U.N. and World Wildlife Fund. This organization is focusing on closing the gap between things like access to opportunity, services like water or electricity, and jobs in urban and rural areas. As it is, the continent is facing a sort of paradox, where it is necessary to foster agriculture for development yet development “has not benefited the rural world.” A possible solution, which is currently being explored by Rural Futures, is creating jobs in…

Al Jazeera: "Millions register for Sudan vote" http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2010/12/201012963043716993.html   The registration process for the referendum on Southern Sudan’s independence ended earlier this week without major incident or accusations of fraud. The process began on November 15 for what was an initially scheduled two week period but was continued for an additional week following “high demand in the south and also to encourage a bigger turnout by southerners living in northern Sudan.” The initial estimates from the South Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) were that more than 3 million people were registered in the South and 76,000 in the north. These numbers represent a high, but not inclusive, representation of the 5 million eligible southern Sudanese living in the region, in the north or abroad.   Current reports suggest that the registration process was carried out fairly and freely with surprisingly few complaints from either party. The results of the registration match commission estimates confirming little, if any, fraud. However, there were low levels of registration in both the northern region of Sudan and abroad – while southern Sudan registered voters at a rate of about 60 percent, the north and the diaspora registered only about 40-50 percent. Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil, SSRC…

The Guardian: Ugandans turn Kampala’s uncollected garbage into versatile fuel http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/30/uganda-fuel-from-waste-michael   Two Ugandan entrepreneurs, Fred Kyagulanyi and James Sendikwanawa, found opportunity when others only saw a public hindrance. They were inspired by piles of rubbish in Kampala which they saw as a useful resource and an opportunity to profit. Today, the pair are successfully converting the trash into “’non-fossil fuel’ made from refuse such as plastic bottles, polythene bags and organic waste.” The fuel can be used in any diesel engine and is regularly bought by taxi drivers and locals for around $1 a liter, nearly half of what gas stations charge.   Kyagulanyi and Sendikwanawa found their technical knowledge in German literature on biodiesel and, despite a bumpy road, used trial and error to figure how to transform the waste around them into fuel. The pair did not only succeed but now offer their customers “super,” “premium” and “pure” grades. Customers confirm that the fuel works well in their vehicles and saves them money. One purchaser estimates that he has “been saving about 2,000 shillings per day [about 90 cents] compared to the past." They are now processing up to 2 tons of trash a day, have established…

Sudan vote ‘held up by donors’ http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2010/11/201011150111520274.html     The south Sudan referendum commission has reached a major milestone towards the impending January referendum for southern succession. This week marks the beginning of registration for voters in the south. The registration is scheduled to take place between 15 November and 1 December and will operate from 3,000 sites across Sudan and in 8 additional countries (Australia, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States).[i] United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) panels have also arrived in Sudan to monitor the endeavor.   While the procedures of the vote are being carried out as planned and on time there has been some criticism from the commission towards international aid groups in reference to funding the referendum. While Sudan’s law requires that all funds be given to the commission which governs it many international groups are refusing to pay directly. For instance, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has “budgeted up to $50 million to help stage the referendum” but will not release any funds directly to the commission. Rather, USAID and other agencies like it are offering assistance in the form of grants and foreign contractors….

AllAfrica.com: Mobile Phones ‘Powerful’ in Promoting Health, Advocates Say http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/201011100207.html   This week in Washington policy, health, telecommunication and development representatives have gathered to draft strategies to improve healthcare systems through mobile technology in developed and developing communities alike. The “mHealth Summit” is designed to “advance the discussion around ways mobile technology can increase the access, efficiency and effectiveness of health systems.” While basic needs, like those outlined in the UN Millennium Development Goals, are still waiting to be realized in many parts of the world new, creative solutions are required in order to meet them.   As mobile phone use is dramatically increasing across Africa the potential to use these resources to increase the efficiency of health care systems is remarkable. In fact of the “five billion subscribers today, almost 70 percent of them are in the developing world.” These devices are a reliable resource to send information, in some cases medicinal, from remote areas previously disconnected from available resources. For example, one village could immediately notify another when health care professionals or medical supplies are nearby.   Mobile technology initiatives have already proven to be successful in increasing the efficiency of healthcare in Africa. In Uganda, mobile phones…

CNN: "Guineans cast ballots in presidential poll" http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/africa/11/07/guinea.election/index.html   Sunday, November 7, 2011 marks Guinea’s first free and fair presidential elections since the country gained its independence 52 years ago. This is the first election to move the country from military rule to democratic governance and is a major milestone for the region of West Africa. This election follows the primary elections last June in what was called “the nation’s most credible and democratic election ever.” The results of the June poll allowed opposition leader, Alpha Conde, and former prime minister, Cellow Dalein Diallo, to compete in Sunday’s runoff. Reports indicate that the election was a close race but generally transparent, peaceful, and technically sound.   While both parties seemed satisfied with the elections it was not without its complications. Diallo, the front runner, noted that his coalition was short on representatives to monitor the voting in some regions due to displaced supporters fleeing recent ethnic and political unrest. At least 2,800 people have been displaced since election proceedings began, however local officials of Diallo’s coalition claim the number is more likely between 15,000 and 20,000. The people who fled potential violence said they had been “threatened with death by…

Sudan Tribune: "’Postponement of Abyei Referendum is Undesirable But May Be Unavoidable’ – RVI" http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/201011010928.html   Speculation that Sudan’s January referendum that will decide if the northern and southern regions will split into two autonomous states or remain as one will be delayed in the Abyei border region has continued to mount following a local non-profit report. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended Sudan’s civil war 20 years ago and provides guidelines for the referendum requires a separate vote for the people of Abyei to decide if they would be absorbed into the Northern or Southern regions in the event of a split. Although the referendum is expected to be held on time in the rest of Sudan, several key issues have yet to be negotiated for the preparations of the referendum in Abyei to move forward.   Despite the ever nearing date of the referendum, negotiations to resolve outstanding issues over the Abyei region have remained in a stalemate. The most contemptuous issues include “north-south boundary demarcation, the appointment of members of the referendum commission, the question of voter eligibility and residency and issues of public security.” As a result, no necessary procedures for the referendum, such as…

CNN: "Free Newspaper Makes Headlines" http://business.blogs.cnn.com/2010/10/21/is-african-media-becoming-more-free/   The latest newspaper in Mozambique is printing nearly 10 times as many copies previous papers – and it’s free. The model behind the newspaper is nothing new, like many websites or basic cable, the organization is making money from advertisers, not readers. Erik Charas, the publisher of Verdade (or ‘truth’), says he’s not a newspaper man, but a social entrepreneur who hopes to encourage knowledge and ambition throughout Mozambique with this latest business venture.   Although his readership is primarily low income, Charas says they still have a lot of buying power. He explains that his readers could use the dollar they would have spent on the newspaper and buy a coke or airtime for their cell phones. Companies wishing to advertise such products and services could stand to gain quite a bit from this previously untapped audience. Charas explains the value of a free paper beyond access to information for readers as well – “you don’t have to make a choice feed your brains or feed your stomach, ultimately you have been empowered because your dollar counts.” The advertisers hope the readers will choose to make that dollar count towards their bottom…