mfioretti: africa*

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  1. China built brand new $200m African union building, including high-tech computer system, for free. Turns out that the building is riddled with microphones, with the donated computers transmitting all voice data back to servers in Shanghai every night
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2018-01-30)
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  2. The idea: Documentation is often lacking in parts of Africa, leading to land disputes because it isn't clear who owns the land. Even when there are records, sometimes they have been tampered with. A record that cannot be deleted, using something called blockchain, could be used to prevent these disputes. Blockchain is a method of recording data - a digital ledger of transactions, agreements, contracts - anything that needs to be independently recorded and verified. What makes a big difference is that this ledger isn't stored in one place, it's distributed across several, hundreds or even thousands of computers around the world. Everyone in the network can have access to an up-to-date version of the ledger. So it can be an open, transparent auditable and verifiable record of any transaction.

    The application: Cybersecurity company WISeKey is using blockchain technology for the land registry in Rwanda.

    What happened in 2017: WISeKey announced a partnership with Microsoft to support the Rwandan government in adopting blockchain technology, reports technology news site Cryptovest.

    What can we expect for 2018: The first step in adopting blockchain in Rwanda is digitising the Rwanda Land Registry, iAfrikan tech blog reports. The company is opening a blockchain Centre of Excellence in Rwanda, reports the New Times, which could go as far as developing a Rwandan cryptocurrency, similar to Bitcoin.
    Outsourcing IT work to Africa
    Image copyright Getty Images

    The idea: The world has a scarcity of software developers. Meanwhile, Africa has a growing young population. Training software developers in Africa who US and European firms can hire taps into that human capital.

    The application: Andela is a startup company that trains developers in Nigeria and hires them out to global tech companies. The original idea was to teach people a practical skill and then use the money they make to pay for their education, Iyin Aboyeji, one of the founders of Andela, explained to the Starta podcast.

    What happened in 2017: In October Andela raised $40m in funding, reports TechCrunch. The previous year it had raised $24m from Mark Zuckerberg, reports Forbes.

    What can we expect for 2018: There are rumours that it is going to open up in Egypt according to iAfrikan.
    Making it easier to pay for things
    Image copyright Getty Images

    The idea: Many people across Africa don't have bank accounts. Mobile money - sending money via your phone - has already proved a very successful alternative to cash. Africa has become the global leader in mobile money with more than 100 million people having mobile money accounts in 2016, according to McKinsey research. Mobile financial services now include credit, insurance, and cross-border remittances. The problem is that there are too many different systems which do not always work with each other. This means lots of people in Africa can't pay for products online.

    The application: Flutterwave is one of the new innovations coming through. It makes it easier for banks and businesses to process payments across Africa. It lets customers pay in their local currencies and allows people to send money from the US to a mobile money wallet, charging sellers a small service fee, which it shares with banks.

    What happened in 2017: In the first quarter of 2017 Flutterwave processed $444m in transactions across Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, it told BBC. From the start the company has processed more than $1.2bn in payments across 10 million transactions, reports CNN. The company received $10m of funding from the US this year, CNN adds.

    What can we expect for 2018: The new funding will be used "to hire more talent, build out our global operations and fuel rapid expansion of our organization across Africa," Flutterwave says. With that, it hopes that more people in Africa can buy things they are not currently able to pay for, like on online retailer Amazon. As the firm's boss Iyinoluwa Aboyeji puts it: "If we are successful, we might just inspire a new generation of Africans to flip the question from: 'What more can the world do for Africa?' to 'What more can Africa do for the world?'".
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  3. High income countries such as Sweden, the Netherlands, the UK and Spain have managed to stabilise their incidence of dementia by changing the way they approach mental and physical health in early to mid-life.

    They modified how they deal with dementia risk factors. These include their diets, smoking, depression, physical inactivity, lack of sufficient cognitive stimulation and risk of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

    Africa, however, is likely to see a rise in dementia over the next decades. This is for two reasons: its ageing population, an increase in non-communicable diseases and the effects of the HIV pandemic.

    Worldwide, there’s an estimated 47 million people living with dementia with 10 million new cases diagnosed each year. The latest Alzheimer’s Disease International report predicts that by 2050, there will be 130 million people living with dementia. About 70% of those people will be from low and middle income countries.
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2016-11-19)
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  4. There are some who argue that greater recognition for the Amazigh would turn the tide against smuggling, at least in Zuwara. After Gaddafi fell in 2011, in part thanks to western air strikes, there were hopes among the Amazigh that the new Libya, supported by the EU, would afford Berbers more rights. But little progress has followed, and in several interviews locals claim the surge in smuggling is a response to being ignored. Others say the Amazigh’s plight should not be used to excuse organised crime.

    But Hajj himself says the two are linked. “There are smugglers who work for the pleasure of making money, even in Zuwara,” he says. “But there are others like me who work for the pleasure of putting pressure on you Europeans » .”

    True or not, recognising the Amazigh won’t curb smuggling in Arab parts of Libya. That’s the message from Ahmed, who smuggles from Garibulli, a town a few hundred kilometres to the east. While the world fails to address the root causes of the biggest wave of mass migration since the second world war, the business will continue.

    “It’s not going to stop,” he says. “It’s simply not going to stop. The borders in the south of Libya » are open, and there is always going to be an appetite for it.”
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  5. ESODI è una mappa web interattiva realizzata sulla base delle testimonianze di mille migranti dell'Africa Subsahariana raccolte in quasi tre anni (2014-2016) dagli operatori e i volontari di Medici per i Diritti Umani (Medu). Racconta nel modo più semplice e dettagliato possibile i motivi della fuga e le rotte affrontate dai migranti dall'Africa subsahariana all'Italia, le difficoltà, le violenze, le tragedie e le speranze attraverso le voci e le informazioni dei protagonisti. E' rivolta a tutti coloro che vogliono comprendere e approfondire la vicenda umana che più sta segnando il nostro tempo. In questo senso ESODI è allo stesso tempo una mappa con le tappe e i percorsi, un report con i dati e le statistiche ma soprattutto una testimonianza con le storie di vita. E'un mappa web dinamica e in progress che si arricchirà periodicamente di nuove testimonianze raccolte da tutti coloro che vorranno raccontare la storia del loro viaggio. Le informazioni sono state raccolte in particolar modo in Sicilia, nei centri di accoglienza straordinaria (CAS) di Ragusa e nel Centro di accoglienza per richiedenti asilo (CARA) di Mineo (260 testimonianze approfondite), e a Roma nei luoghi informali di accoglienza (686 schede socio-anagrafiche e 52 testimonianze approfondite). Testimonianze sono state raccolte anche a Ventimiglia (14 testimonianze approfondite) e in Egitto, ad Aswan e al Cairo (40 testimonianze approfondite). In tutti questi luoghi Medu opera portando supporto socio-sanitario ai migranti, prima assistenza medica, servizi di riabilitazione medico-psicologica per le vittime di tortura e trattamenti inumani e degradanti. Esodi racconta anche le conseguenze del viaggio sulla salute fisica e mentale di un'intera generazione di giovani africani; un viaggio in cui, come ha detto un testimone, "non sei più un essere umano".
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  6. An Index-Based Livestock Insurance program in Northern Kenya uses satellite images to predict "greenness" of pasture and farmers who take insurance policies can actually get financial compensation if the satellite shows there is little pasture left for the cattle.This money can be used to protect livestock against drought by taking necessary initiatives.

    Another case in point is the use of big data and the Internet of Things to empower farmers by giving them immediate and timely access to marketing data, which allows them to take necessary decisions and harness more benefits from their yields. An example is the M-Farm which leverages on internet and text messaging to help Kenyan farmers access market prices for produce, aggregate orders of farm supplies and thus lower the purchase costs, and sell their produce in bulk thereby reducing related marketing costs. Farmers could still link up with mobile-based financial services.
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  7. se questa tendenza dovesse continuare, per i cattolici in Africa, in Asia e in America Latina si prepara un futuro con più fedeli ma meno preti. Un dato che non potrebbe non andare a incidere profondamente sul volto complessivo della Chiesa del XXI secolo.,News.html#
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  8. One of the negative legacies of colonialism in Africa is that it upended many traditional African practices. In the case of women, they lost whatever traditional powers that they had. The traditions in African society that allowed women to wield significant political power or to protect themselves against certain abuses by men were largely erased. In its place arose the present day situation we find in places such as Nigeria and Swaziland in which women have become essentially voiceless.
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  9. Agriculture is strategically important in supporting the livelihoods of the majority of the rural population in Africa and closer to home in South Africa. The growth of e-agriculture has the potential to accelerate agriculture and rural development, promote food security and reduce rural poverty in developing markets.

    While farmers and their machinery are still key for the agricultural industry, technology is starting to play a more significant role in uplifting communities. This goes beyond basic computer training to using ICT to improve sustainability, efficiency and profitability of small scale farming. ICT can facilitate relationship building with trusted suppliers of seeds and fertiliser; purchasing aggregation where multiple buyers can result in lower pricing; access to cultivation information and best practices; and an overall reduction in labour costs and wastage.
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  10. ‘Ci invadono’, ‘ci rubano il lavoro’, ‘portano malattie’. Luoghi comuni e disinformazione che inquinano il dibattito pubblico. È necessario partire da dati corretti per ragionare, raccontare, capire la complessità del fenomeno migratorio.
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