1The Thorny Side of Kenya’s Flower Industry
Because of its favourable weather all year round, Kenya is Africa’s top flower exporter with an average of 360 tonnes exported daily. It is the world’s fourth largest producer of cut flowers after the Netherlands, Colombia and Ecuador. In 2017, according to Horticultural Crop Directorate the floral industry earned Kenya $823m, with Europe a major market. With demand for flowers skyrocketing on occasions such as Valentine’s Day, the sector is a top foreign-exchange earner. The minimum wage for an unskilled agricultural employee is about $65 a month. This low minimum salary entices large cut-flower companies to Kenya and civil society has called out the Kenyan government for poor policing.
SOURCES: AL JAZEERA
2Egypt’s Baby Boom is One of the Biggest Threats Facing the Country
Egyptians prefer large families, but they come with significant economic costs for both parents and the country. In an effort to rein in the galloping birth rate, the Egyptian government has launched a family planning program named “Two Are Enough.” It involves poster campaigns, television advertising, home visits by social workers and clinics handing out contraceptives. The government has also decided to stop disbursing some benefits to poor families beyond the second child. The aim, says Othman, is to reduce the fertility rate from 3.5 children per woman to 2.4 by 2030. Meeting that target would mean 8 million fewer births over the next decade. Egypt has already run a successful family planning program, which helped reduce the birth rate to 3.1 children per woman in 2008 from 5.6 in 1976. But when the program, funded by the U.S., expired in 2008, the birth rate started climbing again.
3Starting Medical and Health Humanities in Africa
Essentially, it straddles disciplines and practices in an effort to address health concerns. Artists compose music to open up understandings of health care and specific conditions, such as delirium. Some academics open up new conversations about existing health concerns like AIDS or use everything from yoga to photography to observation and drawing to help educate health sciences students. Others pair academics and artists to help young people talk about sex and sexuality or tuberculosis. While still a relatively new field on the African continent, it is growing and gaining momentum. The latest milestone is the first English-language special issue of the globally respected BMJ Medical Humanities Journal to deal exclusively with work on and about medical and health humanities in Africa. The special issue came out in December 2018. It showcases work from various countries in Africa, among them Nigeria, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa.
SOURCES: THE CONVERSATION
4Nigeria’s Appetite for the Old Guard
Despite recent progress in lowering age limits for political offices, both presidential candidates Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar are in their 70s in country with a median age around 18. The reduction came after months of the “Not Too Young To Run” campaign led by a coalition of youth advocacy groups. It reflected the general population’s appetite for younger leaders as a 2017 survey showed a majority of Nigerians hope to elect a president younger than 50 this year. But while young Nigerians seeking office have new laws on their side, the challenges of old remain the same. The limitations of spending and reach shapes young politicians’ choices from the onset: a majority tend to run for legislative offices at state and federal level as they involve cheaper campaigns focused on a smaller bloc of voters.
SOURCES: QUARTZ AFRICA
5The Small-scale Salt Harvester Who’s Keeping Senegal Healthy
When Senegal privatized land in Ndiemou, which means “Salt” in the local Serer language, Marie Diouf became the first woman to invest. It was a bold move in the west African country, where women have limited access to property despite providing the vast majority of agricultural labor. During the high harvesting season, from February to April, the salt flats are scattered with hundreds of women toiling away in over 40 degrees Celsius (100 degree Fahrenheit), scooping the crystalline mineral into baskets later carried aloft on their heads. But they’re not necessarily the ones to benefit financially from the production.
6Tale of Tortured Sudanese Refugee Wins
A Sudanese refugee detainee has received a top human rights award for exposing what he has described as Australia’s “inhumane” treatment of asylum seekers. Abdul Aziz Muhamat, 26, was held at the Manus Island detention centre after fleeing violence in Darfur. Over six years, he sent thousands of WhatsApp messages to a journalist who told his story in a podcast. The Martin Ennals Award recognised his “extraordinary tenacity and courage”. Mr Muhamat described the camp’s conditions, which have long been criticised by the United Nations.He said he was stripped of his name and referred to as a number- QNK002.
7There’s a Whole New Craze in East Africa
Inline skating, better known as rollerblading after the Rollerblade brand of skates, peaked in popularity in most western countries over 20 years ago. When the fad faded, most skates were either hidden in cupboards or donated to charity. In recent years, along with bundles of used clothes and shoes, some of them have been steadily making their way to east Africa. Usually dressed in stylish apparel and rarely wearing safety gear, these street skaters relish the risks of their sport and the accompanying swagger it gives them. Skating on major roadways may be risky, but lack of facilities and poorly maintained streets mean Kenyan skaters have to make do, and the best places to skate are almost always the busiest.
SOURCES: THE GUARDIAN
8Ouagadougou’s Image is Changing
Once considered a safe tourist destination in West Africa and famed for its annual film festival, Burkina Faso is under serious threat and most regions should be avoided by travelers, according to the French Foreign Ministry. A Canadian mining executive was kidnapped and shot dead last month, and a Canadian-Italian couple has been missing since mid-December. A surge in Islamist militant attacks eerily similar to those that have killed hundreds in neighboring Mali has prompted a government reshuffle, the appointment of a new army chief and a state of emergency in the most threatened regions.
9Will Splitting Eskom Salvage the Situation?
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said his plan to divide struggling state power firm Eskom into three units would minimize risks to the economy, as a fifth day of power cuts hurt businesses and drove the rand to a six-week low on Thursday. “It is not a path to privatization,” he added, promising that a financial support package for Eskom would be accompanied by a turnaround plan and that officials would consult with trade unions, which have expressed anger at the proposed split.
SOURCES: REUTERS AFRICA
10The Pageant that’s Caused a Stir in Uganda
Uganda’s junior minister for tourism this month sparked controversy by suggesting that curvy women could be promoted as a tourist attraction. Uganda earns billions of dollars off of wildlife tourism but, the idea of adding women to that list has generated heated debate about objectifying women. Uganda’s Tourism Board has distanced itself from the Ms. Curvy pageant, saying it will concentrate instead on promoting the country’s current attractions.