Category: Africa

Further Protests Shut Down South African Universities

Student protesters and police continue skirmishes outside school grounds continue this week as universities shut down during a critical time of the semester.

South Africa’s Wits and Cape Town universities suspended classes on Wednesday for a second time the previous month.

The student protests root from the higher cost of education. According to many black students, the costs have become a symbol of the inequalities that endure in South Africa more than two decades after the lifting of the apartheid system.

A spokeswoman for the University of the Witwatersrand, known as Wits, and which reopened on Monday after protests last month forced a shutdown, said late on Tuesday that classes would be canceled until Oct. 10.

“We have agreed to suspend the academic program,” Shirona Patel said.

Wits, which has been the epicenter of the protests, conducted a poll last week asking students if they wanted go back to class.

Police had come in riot equipment. They had fired stun grenades and used rubber bullets and tear gas after students calling for free education in Wits.

The protesters threw stones at police and even flipped one vehicle over.

UCT spokeswoman Pat Lucas said that protesters had in the early hours of Wednesday attacked private security guards, broken into some buildings and started fires. Eight students had been arrested in the preceding day’s violence.

Elton John Pledges Millions To Help LGBTs in Africa

Award-winning singer and composer Elton John have begun a $10m fund that would issue grants and provide expertise to people in homophobic regimes.

The Aids Foundation — which he established — would provide grants to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Africa stigmatised and penalised for their sexual orientation. The Aids Foundation would work with the US President Barack Obama’s Pepfar plan for Aids relief.

According to John, he has no power to persuade countries with homophobic laws to change their values:

“I know that certain governments in Africa will not respond to someone like me telling them you should do this, you should do that. I count for nothing as far as that goes.

“What I can do is ensure that people who are LGBT – if their clinics are closed down because they are LGBT – we can give them medicine. If they are arrested, we will get them legal aid,” he said on Wednesday at the international Aids conference in Durban, South Africa.

Many sub-Saharan African countries have anti-homosexuality laws and in some, including Nigeria and Sudan, there is the threat of the death penalty. There is a long history of violent attacks and persecution against LGBT people.

“We will help them on the ground,” said John. “With these countries sometimes, who knows, it might take 50 years, but I guarantee it will change.”

Asia, Africa The Worst To Be Hit By Zika Virus Outbreak

The poorest, impoverished communities will contribute to the rapid spread of infections in Asia and African communities, leaving the countries vulnerable to the disease when it arrives.

Zika, a disease that is believed to cause microcephaly among unborns and newborns, is transmitted by mosquito bites. Lately it has been proven that blood transfusion and sexual intercourse could also spread the disease. A Texas patient contracted the disease through sexual transmission.

Thailand was the first Asian country to confirm a man who contracted the virus. Meanwhile, in Indonesia, a domestic case of the virus had been reported.

WHO Expert Anthony Costello said that the disease born in South America can leave the country and travel to other countries. According to him 25 countries have already reported Zika Cases.

Zika was first found in Uganda in 1947, causing mild flu-like symptoms and a rash. The WHO suspects the virus as responsible for the rapid rise of microcephaly many regions. The disease halts the brain development in unborns and newborns, causing their heads to shrink in size.

Meanwhile, previous pandemics, including MERS that killed 36 people and a few hundred more in the Middle east is declared officially ended.

Renewable Energy Development Could Modernize Africa In 2030 – IREA

A report from the International Renewable Energy Agency describes Africa’s modernisation could come from an accelerated uptake on renewable energy development in the country. Renewable energy development could lead to quadruple energy production that could contribute to technological developments in the continent.

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IRENA views hydropower, solar power and biomass cooking systems as major contributing factors that by 2030, would help Africa quadruple its renewable energy production.

Solar and wind energy production in Africa, spearheaded by supportive policies, allowed the continent to produce floor-priced electricity prices. Biomass, which makes up 50 per cent of energy use in Africa to heat and cook food, is set for reduced indoor pollution development and efficiency development.

IRENA urges other countries to follow the examples of some African governments when it comes to policies for renewable energies and regulatory frameworks.

IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin said the lower prices in African electricity production is due to Africa’s readily-available renewable energy sources combined with advanced energy-production technology.

“Tapping into renewable energy resources is the only way African nations can fuel economic growth, maximise socio-economic development and enhance energy security with limited environmental impact,” he said in a statement. “The technologies are available, reliable and increasingly cost-competitive. The onus is now on Africa’s governments to create conditions to accelerate deployment, paving the way for Africa’s unfettered, sustainable development.”

 

UK Aid to Rwanda Criticised

The government has come under fire for its decision to resume foreign aid to Rwanda, after the African country was accused of supporting rebels involved in fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwanda, along with Uganda, denies funding the rebels, but the UK government has been accused of a ‘profound error of judgement’. Justine Greening, International Development Minister, was put under pressure to explain the government’s decision by her Labour counterpart, Mr Ivan Lewis, who questioned the motives behind what appears to be curious move.

‘Shambolic’ Decision

Mr Lewis, in his address to Ms Greening, said:

“The government’s policy on this crisis has been nothing short of shambolic, and has seriously undermined the international effort to send a unified and unequivocal message to the Rwandan government that their actions are entirely unacceptable.”

It transpires that Ms Greening’s predecessor, Mr Andrew Mitchell, agreed to unfreeze up to £16million of aid to Rwanda on the day before he took over the post of Chief Whip. The UN accuses Rwanda of supporting a rebel militia group known as M23, a charged that the Rwandan government denies.

Justine Greening Responds

Ms Greening defended the government’s decision to restore aid to the troubled African country, explaining:

“Labour has no ability to really criticise us in relation to, a, tracking results of our aid, and, b, being clear about whether it is being spent appropriately or not. Whenever we have needed to take action to curb aid, we have indeed done that.”

It is notable that Uganda, which stands accused of supporting M23 alongside Rwanda, has had all of its aid from the UK cut after it emerged that much of it was transferred into private hands of government members in the country. The Ugandan government has said it is ‘not happy’ with the decision, but was willing to acknowledge that government aid had been stolen.