header image

Our Blog

Next Event

UN-Backed Polio Campaign to Reach 72 Million African Children http://allafrica.com/stories/201010261040.html   Although the incidences of polio have dramatically increased in Africa, as in the rest of the world, since the discovery of its vaccine in 1952 the eradication of the disease is not complete. In 2009, the disease spread from Nigeria, the only African country to never have stopped polio transmission, across 24 countries highlighting the importance of complete eradication throughout the world. Now 15 African countries are engaging in what is hopefully the final push to rid the continent of the disease.     The disease has no cure, can be fatal, but takes only two drops of an oral vaccine to prevent. The current $43 million UN backed effort will deploy 300,000 health workers in October and November with the goal to vaccinate 72 million children under 5 years old in high risk areas. The health workers will set up both fixed immunization posts and house to house vaccination teams travelling by car, foot, or boat to reach more remote areas. Just last week Nigeria, African’s epicenter of polio transmission, immunized almost 30 million children last week alone. Similar operations are taking place in Sudan, Burkina Faso, the…

Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa): "First Ever Carbon Credit Trade" http://allafrica.com/stories/201010220379.html   The World Bank recently bought the Ethiopia’s first ever carbon credit for $34,000 from the Humbo Community Based Forest Management Project. The deal was introduced by World Vision Ethiopia to try to shift the communities surrounding the Humbo forest from cutting trees for subsistence to profiting from its preservation. The World Bank has pledged to invest $726,000 in carbon credits from the project in the next 10 years.   This project is an example of one type of carbon trading and the “first large-scale forestry project in Africa to be registered by the United Nations (UN) under the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol.” The idea behind this type of carbon trading is to offset the emissions from the developed world, by creating incentives to preserve forests which absorb carbon in the developing world. Currently these carbon credits are bought and sold voluntarily, as is the case for this project.   The $34,000 spent by the World Bank will be divided between the 800 members of the project’s cooperatives. This is said allow the local communities to preserve the forest without financial burden to themselves. The money will also…

Buisness Day (Johannesburg): "Mixed Reaction to Relax Sanctions Call" http://allafrica.com/stories/201010200157.html       Since 2002, Zimbabwe’s government and economy have been under a cloud of sanctions from European Union (EU) and United States (US) governments. These sanctions were imposed in response to alleged human rights abuses and election fraud by President Robert Mugabe and his regime. Since then, the EU has continuously renewed and increased the number of entities included in the sanctions every year. The United States has passed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Recovery Act which orders directors of financial institutions to “oppose and vote against any extension of any loan, credit or guarantee to the Zimbabwean government or any cancellation or reduction of debt.” While there doesn’t seem to be much public objection to the sanctions in the Europe or the US, officials from Zimbabwe’s neighbors, South Africa and Botswana, have called for their termination.   South African President Jacob Zuma told members of the EU parliament that the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe had not only hurt South Africa’s economy, but stunted Zimbabwe’s ability to work through its political troubles. The current political arrangement in Zimbabwe is a ‘unity government’ where Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and Morgan Tsvangirai’s…

The East African (Nairobi) "Obama Issues Tough Conditions On Resumption of Relations" http://allafrica.com/stories/201010250110.html   At a recent press conference, Mr. Johnny Carson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, laid out the Obama administration’s conditions to resume diplomatic relations with Sudan after the January referendum. The conditions included “the full implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the assurance that the referendum in the south will be held on January 9 as scheduled, the commitment to reach agreement on pending issues of CPA, and a comprehensive resolution for peace in Darfur.”   On the other hand, the Sudanese government has set forth conditions as well to “ensure a democratic and legitimate referendum,” including “the US to lift economic sanctions against Sudan, the US to remove Sudan from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism and for Washington to help influence the deferment of the ICC warrant of arrest against President al-Bashir.” Resuming diplomatic relations would have to take these conditions into account.   The administration’s current policy toward Sudan of “constructive engagement” has angered many who find the actions of the Sudanese regime unpardonable. Others applaud the efforts as a positive change in U.S. strategy by being “pro-active and…

The Guardian: Could a Split Benefit Sudan? http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/oct/02/south-sudan-split-benefit   In 2005, a 30 year civil war between forces in the Northern and Southern regions of Sudan concluded with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). This agreement also set forth preliminary terms for a future referendum which would take place in January 2011 and would allow South Sudan the opportunity to become independent if approved. As the date for this referendum has drawn closer, preparations have been made to carry out the vote fairly, transparently and peacefully. Anticipation has risen as it has becomes clearer that the Sudan will likely split into two independent nations. While there are still many contemptuous issues which have yet to be resolved the leadership of both regions have made clear their commitment to hold the referendum on time.   The majority of coverage in the anticipation of the referendum has been full of fear and uncertainty. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the countdown to the referendum “a ticking time bomb of enormous consequence.” Southern Sudan’s President Salvia Kiir has requested and been granted UN peacekeeping troops to be deployed across ‘hotspots’ on the border. There has yet to be an agreement on…

Wal-Mart sets sights on Africa in £2.9bn bid for Massmart http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/sep/27/wal-mart-bid-massmart-south-africa The world’s largest corporation, Wal-Mart, is in negotiations to move into Sub-Saharan Africa through a £2.9bn takeover of Massmart, a South African based chain of superstores. Massmart currently consists of 290 stores in 13 Africa countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe under a variety of brand names. This deal is Wal-Mart’s first attempt to gain access to African markets which it deemed as a “’compelling’ growth opportunity.” Many within the region see Wal-Mart’s desire for business as a vote of confidence in their economies. However, the takeover may prove complicated for Wal-Mart, particularly in the case of Zimbabwe, as the U.S. is still enforcing targeted sanctions due to its disapproval of Robert Mugabe’s regime which has been accused of “ongoing human rights violations, land seizures and intimidation of political participants.” Things could also get complicated for the company within South Africa in the midst of ongoing strikes across industries for wage increases. Wal-Mart’s reputation ‘for being anti-union and for a ruthless approach in keeping down wages,” leads Michael Bride, deputy organizing director for global strategies at America’s UFCW union, to speculate that “The company may very well…

The Guardian: "Kenya to Build Africa’s Biggest Windfarm" http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jul/27/kenya-wind-farm     As Africa develops, so does an unprecedented demand for electricity. Many countries have struggled to meet the demand causing blackouts to be increasingly common. There has been substantial debate over Africa’s right, capability and responsibility to develop sustainable power generation over more traditional, less expensive, methods. In this climate of domestic and international pressure, to create more electricity that is both cheap and green, many African countries have turned to the wind. Kenya, backed by the African Development Bank, has invested £533m in a new project to install 365 wind turbines around Lake Turkana, the largest of its kind on the continent. At their completion (estimated in 2012) the turbines are projected to be able to hold a capacity of 300MW – or “a quarter of Kenya’s current installed power and one of the highest proportions of wind energy to be fed in a national grid anywhere in the world.” However, Kenya’s electricity has been considered very green by any standard as “nearly three-quarters of KenGen’s installed capacity comes from hydropower, and a further 11% from geothermal plants.” Although Kenya is not alone; many African countries are making strong…

Committee to Protect Journalists: "‘A Somali journalist’s life is short anyways’" http://cpj.org/blog/2010/09/a-somali-journalists-life-is-short-anyways.php       Beyond the current conflict in Somalia between Islamist factions Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam and Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, a violent and repressive struggle between the insurgents, the government and reporters over control of the country’s media has become a humanitarian crisis in itself. Reporter Tom Rhodes details the challenges of media entities within the country to report the truth, or much of anything at all, without the fear of violent repercussions. However, some journalists and news organizations are fighting back to provide the people of Somalia with up to date and unbiased information. Rhodes explains that four months ago, BBC operations in the country were forcibly halted, their property stolen and local media contracts cancelled by Al-Shabaab. Hizbul Islam also announced a ban on music to radio stations. These bans were headed by most, as the penalty for defying these “hard-line militant Islamist rebel groups” is often “death by crossfire and assassination.” However, the Shabelle Media Network, described as “one of Somalia’s leading independent broadcasters” broadcast their news and music despite the risks. The Network has paid dearly for their resistance, five of its journalists…

The McKinsey Global Institute recently published a study entitled

On Friday, September 17, 2010, The Africa Society attended Congressman Payne