Tag Archives: africa

Papal fatigue in Africa

Many of the crowd simply made their own outfits

Many of the crowd simply made their own outfits

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Obama appoints Swahili-Speaking Retired General as Special Envoy to Sudan

Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration

Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration

Mr. Obama will tap Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, a Swahili-speaking retired Air Force officer who grew up in Africa as the son of missionaries, to take on one of the most delicate diplomatic missions of his presidency, according to three administration officials, who were not authorized to discuss the selection before the official announcement on Wednesday.

March, 18th 2008 – New York Times

According to the NYTimes, President Obama plans to appoint Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, a retired general and a close adviser as his Special Envoy to Sudan as the administration turns up the pressures on the Government in Khartoum. This is especially significant given that the International Criminal Court (ICC), issued an arrest warrant for Omar Hassan al-Bashir on 4 March 2009 on counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. President al-Bashir responded by expulsion of aid groups.

What makes Major Gration an interesting choice is his past. Beyond just being a Swahili Speaker he has been in a similar situation thrice in his life, according to his Wikipedia entry

Gration grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where his parents worked as missionaries; during the Congo Crisis in the early 1960s, his family was evacuated three times and became refugees.

This also reminds me of a much discussed piece on twitter that was featured in the Huffington Post by Mona Gable on  “Why Obama Needs A Special Envoy to Africa (& not just George Clooney)” http://bit.ly/1SooZn

Hopefully, an envoy to Sudan is a begining for a more engaged Africa policy from this administration …  and in more areas than just conflict resolution and into areas such as balanced trade, renewable energy and education initiatives.



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The ‘dusty foot philosopher’ makes waves again

knaan

Somalia-raised, Toronto-based rapper K’naan thinks like Bob Marley, flows like Eminem and mixes African music with conscious hip-hop, unabashed pop and even metal. The results are usually catchy and interesting – Rolling Stone, Feb 5, 2009

Along with his mother and his brother, 13-year-old Keinan Warsame left Somalia on the last commercial flight from Mogadishu to join his father in New York; the family settled in Toronto’s “Little Somalia” shortly thereafter. K’naan has been speaking out publicly about his country’s plight since 2001. Recently he joined Youssou N’Dour, to appear on his album of “refugee voices,” Building Bridges, and a subsequent tour.

K’naan’s Troubadour hits stores on Tuesday, Feb. 23. Check out “Bang Bang” by K’Naan free on iTunes this week. http://urlbrief.com/f7aef1


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can discarded phone booths be used to kickstart micropayments?

Andrewhydeheadshot_normalandrewhyde: rt @dllavoy just occurred to me. could payphones be considered the first micropayment model? about 2 hours ago · Reply · View Tweet

Andrew Hyde of TechStars retweeted  a simple thought by Deb Louison Lavoy on why pay phones could not be used for micropayments. I thought I’d share this on my blog for your thoughts.

This reminds me of an equally interesting project called Question box that converts discarded phone booths in rural villages into a knowledge re-sources.

The idea was simple:

Users place a free call by pushing the green button. They connect to an operator sitting in front of an Internet-enabled computer. Users ask the operator questions. The operator goes online and finds their answers, translating them into the local language.

Question Box brings relevant information to people who cannot access the Internet directly. It overcomes barriers of illiteracy, language and limited penetration in rural India and Africa. Villagers have access to immediate, relevant information using the most simple mode of communication:  voice.

While this is great, Question Box’s successful pilots coupled with Deb’s post brings up an interesting question. Can these same discarded phone booths also serve the purpose of collecting micro payments? – Phone booths already have the ability to collect money and transmit data over phone lines.

With little modification, phone booths could serve to kick start micro payments in rural Africa for those still be disconnected to the banking and communication grid.

These are my $0.02 ; your thoughts welcome ..

tag: afrigadget, appfrica, jobsworth

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Why I blog about Africa

Why write about Africa? There are many reasons why people choose to blog about Africa, but few have ever been challenged to share their reasons. Interestingly enough, African bloggers have been responding to a wonderful post by Théophile Kouamouo, a blogger based in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), who started a meme asking why you blog about Africa:

Why do you blog about Africa? Do we blog for the diaspora and for the world at large, cut off from our contemporary on the continent? Is blogging about Africa done in the same way as blogging about Europe or Asia? Does the African-oriented blogosphere have something specific to offer to the world version 2.0?

To understand why I write about Africa, there are a few things you must know about me:

  1. I am a third generation Kenyan.
  2. Like many in his time, my father’s grandfather came to Africa as a laborer for the great East African Railway from India. The journey was hard, their future was uncertain but he was determined to find his destiny in a land that his forefathers would have known little about.
  3. I am also an Indian.
  4. My mother comes from a state where the seeds of peaceful revolution were planted by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, later known as the Mahatma – this state, Gujarat has been the powerhouse of Indian Industry ever since.
  5. Lastly, I’m American educated.  I believe strongly in mankind’s responsibility to protect some basic inalienable rights for every human being as outlined in the American Declaration of Independence , “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness “.

I write about Africa because I believe in Africa; I believe in the dream of a  self reliant and prosperous Africa; I believe in the unwavering strength of its people, and the richness of its cultural history. My Africa is undergoing a revolution – a silent revolution, a peaceful revolution, an information revolution. The youth are vocal and demanding a better future. Rather than look at the west for answers, it is engaging the west to define it’s own future. Lastly, I write about Africa because its my home – and this is why I write about Africa.

Why do you blog about Africa? I’d love to hear from you …

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Ben Affleck tours War torn Eastern Congo

ben_affleck

“I’m not an expert in international affairs or diplomacy, but it doesn’t take that to see the tremendous suffering here”

Actor, Ben Affleck traveled to Africa’s Congo region three times over the last eight months, hoping to understand firsthand one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises of this century.

Affleck and the “Nightline” team traveled through refugee camps, hospitals and clinics, meeting with warlords, relief workers, child soldiers and members of parliament in an effort to better understand the place where over the last decade more than 4 million people have died in the deadliest conflict since World War II.

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Is this the begining of a green revolution in Africa?

a sugar cane plantation in Mauritius

sugar cane plantation in Mauritius

With the sharp rise and fall of global grain prices, many affluent countries with limited arable land have begun looking to Africa for food security.

Countries like Angola, Tanzania and Ethiopia have already shown interest in foreign investments and have restructured their land allocation laws to allow for this. The horticulture industry is one of the fastest growing non-traditional export sectors of many African countries, including Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi.

South Korean firm Daewoo has unveiled plans to plant corn on one million acres of land in Madagascar, to sharply cut its reliance on US imports.

Daewoo is leasing the vast tract of land – half the size of Belgium – for 99 years and hopes to produce 5 million tonnes of corn a year by 2023.

It will use South African expertise and local labour on the plantations.

Source: news.bbc.co.uk

Large Investments in Ethiopia and Kenya have been very profitable and now with countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait looking to invest, the African Agricultural sector seems like a great bet.

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