Tuition-free opportunity from University of the People
University of the People President and founder Shai Reshef is arriving in South Africa this month to recruit hundreds of deserving students for Microsoft’s 4Afrika scholarship. UoPeople aims to expand access to tertiary education in Africa, and in turn assist in increasing and accelerating economic development in the continent. To date, students from 138 countries have been accepted with 1000 more expected from Africa specifically in 2014.University of the People (www.UoPeople.org ) is a non-profit, tuition-free, degree granting online academic institution dedicated to opening access to higher education globally. It is designed to provide access to college studies for qualified high school graduates, despite financial, geographic, societal, or personal constraints.Earlier this year, the University announced a drive to increase its footprint and reach for African students. In support of this, Microsoft recently announced its offering of 1000 UoPeople scholarships for African students. This is the institution’s largest scholarship programme to date and opens the doors to higher education for so many African students.“Increasing access to post-secondary education in Africa will create a significant impact on the African youth. By empowering them to be the future generation leaders of their communities, countries and the continent, equipped with world-class education, we believe they will be able to take Africa to its rightful place on the world stage” says President Reshef.The University of the People will be scouting across South Africa for at least 100 deserving students to take advantage of the Microsoft 4Afrika scholarship. “We are also seeking out other corporations that may take up the challenge to sponsor more students in Africa and we anticipate that South Africa will be a major source country for our scholarship programmes,” said Reshef.Founded in 2009, UoPeople has partnered with several prestigious brands and educational institutions such as Yale University for research and the New York University to accept students. In addition, the University works with Microsoft for scholarships and access to its certificate programmes, mentoring, internships and employment opportunities; and Hewlett-Packard, for general support, scholarships for women and internships.The organisation has gained widespread support of leading academics with its President’s Council chaired by New York University President John Sexton and includes Oxford Vice-Chancellor Sir Colin Lucas, Rector Emeritus of the Academy of Paris, Michèle Gendreau-Massaloux, and UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, among others. UoPeople is supported by The Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, Hewlett Foundation and companies such as HP, Google, Microsoft, Western Union and Estee Lauder and many more. UoPeople has received the support of almost 1.2 million people on Facebook and garnered media coverage throughout the world. [x]
A prize-winning scientist at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (Cern) has used his winnings to promote particle physics in Africa.
Professor Tejinder Virdee was part of the team that played a key part in the discovery of the Higgs Boson.
A winner of the 2013 Fundamental Physics prize, Prof Virdee used his money to bring science teachers from Africa to the Geneva lab.
In March this year, the BBC held a science festival in Kampala, Uganda, where researchers from Africa, the US and Europe took part in a week of programmes and debates.
One of those was Prof Virdee, a former spokesman for the CMS project at Cern, one of the detectors which found evidence of the Higgs Boson.
Originally from Kenya, he is keen to see science develop in the region. And that visit to Uganda gave him a chance to look at how he could get involved.
"I wanted to do something to promote science education in an international context, in ways that makes a significant impact," he said.
Kenya aquifers discovered in dry Turkana region
A huge water source has been discovered in the arid Turkana region of northern Kenya which could supply the country for 70 years, the government says.
The discovery of two aquifers brings hope to the drought-hit region, tweeted Environment Minister Judi Wakhungu.
They were found in the Turkana Basin and Lotikipi Basin using satellites and radar.
Last year, scientists released a map detailing the vast reservoirs which lie under much of Africa.
Senegal Names 2nd Female Prime Minister, Human Rights Activist Aminata Touré
PICTURED ABOVE: Puros Bush Lodge, Puros Conservancy, Damaraland, Namibia. [source]
Namibia probably isn’t the first place you’d point to as a model for combining economic benefits with wildlife conservation, but maybe it should be.
This relatively new nation, which became independent in 1990, is the first African country to incorporate environmental protection into its constitution.
Since then, it’s become home to 79 registered conservancies that cover 38 million acres, says the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
"By the mid-1990s — shortly after Namibia won its independence — wildlife numbers were at historical lows in many communal areas," says Chris Weaver, managing director for WWF Namibia. ”But since passage of 1996 communal conservancy legislation, the recovery of the wildlife has been amazing. We now have the largest free-roaming population of black rhino, the only expanding population of lions, and the biggest cheetah population in the world. Elephants are recovering and enlarging their range, while migration routes for many animals are being re-established.
Pretty amazing to turn the situation around in just two decades. It shows the resilience of wildlife if the government has good policy. That policy has been instrumental in shaping its citizens’ approach to conservation, says Weaver.
"This remarkable transition has all been possible due to Namibia’s visionary government, which recognized the importance of engaging communities in conservation. The government teamed up with multiple non-governmental organizations, including WWF, to create a national community-based natural resource management program. We jointly assist communities in forming conservation areas to manage and benefit from their wildlife. Once a community meets legal criteria, it becomes a legitimate natural resource management organization registered and recognized by all branches of government in Namibia as a communal conservancy."
One example is the Puros Conservancy in northwest Namibia. In the 1990s, the community there had a very simple approach to lions: shot them on sight.
It been exciting to watch the transformation in how people value wildlife in Namibia, Weaver says. They were once perceived as a detriment to peoples’ livelihoods and poached for meat, but now they are seen as a valuable asset that attracts tourists. “One can see peoples’ mindsets incrementally shift; they start to think that wildlife is worth something and that it should be conserved and protected.”
20 countries have sent delegations there to learn from its success, says Weaver.
African Students Who Invented Anti-Malaria Soap, Awarded $25,000
AFRICANGLOBE – Two African students have created a malaria-repellant soap using local herbs, and have won, consequently, a $25,000 Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) award.
The GSVC is the only international competition of Social Business Plans, dedicated to students, young graduates, and entrepreneurs with high social and/or environmental startups.
Moctar Dembélé who hails from Burukina Faso and Gérard Niyondiko, from Burundi, are the first non American born/citizen, to win the Global Social Venture Competition.
Africa’s art flourishes as the newly wealthy wake up to its value
When one of Nigeria’s biggest media moguls began collecting contemporary African art three decades ago, he was one of the few Africans in a niche market dominated by western connoisseurs. But as African art becomes more sought-after globally, that is rapidly changing.
“Some of the things I bought just for aesthetic pleasure years ago are now worth millions,” said the wealthy businessman, who did not want to be named for fear his home could become a target for thieves.
“A lot of people on both sides of the pond are waking up to the fact you can make big money in contemporary [African] art,” he added, reclining on a golden sofa in his Lagos home crammed with expensive art from across the globe.
Guinea government, opposition agree to end-September election
Guinea’s government and opposition parties reached a deal on Wednesday to hold long-delayed legislative elections at the end of September to complete the mineral-rich nation’s transition to civilian rule.
Elections scheduled for June 30 were postponed after a wave of protests, with the opposition accusing President Alpha Conde of planning to rig the poll. Conde won a 2010 election in Guinea’s first democratic transition of power, but his victory was contested by the opposition.
"We have reached an agreement," Mouctar Diallo, one of the opposition’s leaders, told Reuters. "I hope the international community will guarantee the implementation of this deal."
Political instability following a 2008 military coup deterred some investors from Guinea despite its large deposits of iron ore, bauxite, gold and other minerals.
The election, originally due to take place in 2011, is essential to unlock nearly 200 million euros of European Union funding.
Wednesday’s agreement means elections should be held within 83 days. With Guinean electoral law specifying voting must take place on a Sunday, this would make the date of the election September 29, Diallo said.
A woman who could be considered Africa’s Oprah Winfrey is launching an entertainment network that will be beamed into nearly every country on the continent with programs showcasing its burgeoning middle class.
Mosunmola “Mo” Abudu wants EbonyLife TV to inspire Africans and the rest of the world, and change how viewers perceive the continent. The network’s programming tackles women’s daily life subjects — everything from sex tips to skin bleaching.
"Not every African woman has a pile of wood on her head and a baby strapped to her back!" the glamorous Abudu, 48, told The Associated Press from a hotel’s penthouse floor against a backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean and high-rise buildings flanked by palm and almond trees.
"We watch Hollywood as if all of America is Hollywood," she said. "In that same vein we need to start selling the good bits of Africa."
Stateless Zimbabwe residents gain citizenship
Standing in a winding queue in downtown Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, Judith Kapito, 38, cannot hide her excitement: she is waiting to receive a new identity document, one that will offer her rights and opportunities she has long been deprived of.
Kapito was born to Malawian parents who migrated to Zimbabwe - then Southern Rhodesia - in 1960. She lost her citizenship in 2001, when the government’s amendment of the Citizenship Act forced those born of alien parents to renounce their foreign citizenship.
Kapito, who was born in Zimbabwe and registered as a national of the country, had no other citizenship to renounce. She became stateless, and remained so until the country’s new constitution, passed in April 2013, restored her status as a Zimbabwean.
“For 10 years, I had no identity, just a name. I had no country to call mine because the government of Malawi, where my parents came from, did not consider me as its citizen and could not help me in any way.”
A new report on the Global Plan towards elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive (Global Plan) has revealed a marked increase in progress in stopping new infections in children across the Global Plan priority countries in Africa.
The members of the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste – the world’s only all-black orchestra – are self-taught and started out playing homemade instruments. Now the band’s founder is to be given a major international accolade
Nathalie is a single mum who struggles to clothe her little boy and pay the rent. She plays the flute and the sax. Josephine gets up at 4.30am every day to sell omelettes at the market. She is in the chorus. Papy is a part-time mechanic who also runs his own pharmacy. He plays the tuba. Josef is a freelance electrician, a kind of African version of the Robert De Niro character in the film Brazil. He also runs his own hair salon and plays the viola.
Nathalie, Josephine, Papy and Josef are adepts of the Congolese art of débrouillardise, a French word that means “making ends meet” or “surviving”. For most of the day, they do whatever they must to hustle their daily bread in the Congolese capital Kinshasa, one of the biggest, noisiest and most dysfunctional cities on earth. In the early evening, they set out on a journey that often takes several hours to rehearse with the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste de Kinshasa (OSK), the only all-black symphony orchestra in the world. There they find release from their daily cares. “When I sing Beethoven’s ninth Symphony, it takes me far away,” says one of the other singers in the choir.
"They come because they’re passionate about music," says Armand Diangienda, the man who founded the OSK almost 20 years ago. "It gives them something more in terms of confidence, of feeling capable and of being able to contribute to a collective endeavour."
If the musicians in the OSK are masters of individual survival, the orchestra itself is an epic example of débrouillardise, of thinking the impossible and then just doing it. Diangienda lost his job as a pilot when the Fokker F-27 he used to fly across the Congo crashed into the hills above the town of Goma in 1992, killing all those on board. Luckily – for him – he was on holiday at the time. Finding himself unemployed, he rallied followers of his father’s church, the hugely popular Kimbanguiste church, and created a symphony orchestra, a strange endeavour for a confirmed reggae fan who had only a passing interest in European classical music at the time.
"We told ourselves that creating a symphony orchestra would be great because the church already had a brass band, a flute orchestra, a guitar ensemble and a number of different choirs," Armand tells me over the phone from Kinshasa. "I couldn’t read music, but driven by my passion, and with help from my friends, I gradually learned."
In the early days, instruments had to be borrowed or made from scratch by reverse engineering. Violin strings were concocted from bicycle brake wire. Hundreds of scores were copied out by hand, individual parts had to be deciphered by listening to the works on CD, over and over again. Music stands were cobbled together from old pieces of wood.
Despite attracting huge interest locally, the orchestra remained the city’s secret until two German film-makers, Claus Wischmann and Martin Baer, made the 2010 documentary Kinshasa Symphony, one of the most beautiful and honest portrayals of the power of music and the human spirit that I have seen in ages.
New machine expected to cut TB diagnosis time dramatically, enabling speedier treatment
A new machine that should speed up diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis is being rolled out across Mozambique.
The GeneXpert machine, which has been trialled in hospitals in Maputo and Tete following pilot schemes by NGOs, should speed up TB diagnosis from two to three months to two hours. More machines will be rolled out around the country over the next few weeks. Every province will have at least one machine, while areas with high rates of TB will have more.
The new test, which has been implemented successfully in South Africa, uses cartridges to automate diagnosis. The patient spits in a cup, and the sample is fed into the machine to identify any TB bacteria. These machines mean people can be tested, diagnosed and started on multi-drug resistant treatment on the same day – a significant improvement on current waiting times. The sooner patients are diagnosed, the better their prognosis. The new test will be subject to delays only if the patient has not supplied enough sputum.
Mugabe signs Zimbabwe constitution, paving way for vote
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe signed a new constitution into law on Wednesday, replacing a 33-year-old document forged in the dying days of British colonial rule and paving the way for an election later this year.
Approved overwhelmingly in a referendum in March, the constitution clips the powers of the president and imposes a two-term limit. However, it does not apply retroactively so the 89-year-old Mugabe technically could extend his three decades in office by another 10 years.
A beaming Mugabe, flanked by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, his main political rival, and Deputy President Joice Mujuru signed multiple copies of the charter at State House in the capital to cheers and applause from aides.
The constitution was rewritten under terms of a power-sharing deal between Mugabe and Tsvangirai after elections in 2008 marred by violence.
The five-year coalition government formed under the same agreement expires on June 29, and parliamentary and presidential elections should follow within 90 days of that date.
However, many obstacles remain, not least finding the estimated $130 million needed to pay for the election and reaching agreement on outside monitors.
Harare has turned down offers of United Nations or donor assistance and Mugabe accused some in the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), which has been mediating in the crisis, of trying to impose their will.
"We rejected this," he told reporters after the signing ceremony, adding that any vote would be fair. "We will ensure that there won’t be any violence, that there won’t be any rigging."
Mugabe made no mention of an election date but Tsvangirai later told reporters it would be later rather than sooner because of the need to amend electoral laws and allow the 30-day registration period for new voters mandated in the constitution.
State media said on Wednesday that Mugabe was pressing for a vote before July although his rivals wanted it delayed to allow for the opening up of broadcast media, registration of new voters and reform of the military to ensure it stays out of politics.