1Nigeria’s Electoral Commission has Embraced Technology

While Nigeria’s elections are by no means fully electronic, the use of permanent voter cards (PVC) verified by electronic card readers to accredit voters has proven a major leap. Under the current system, voters show up at polling units and have their PVC verified by card readers before being allowed to vote. The two-step authentication eliminates the dual problems of impersonation and multiple voting—previously rampant rigging tactics. It’s a major shift from the past when only paperwork (which could easily be faked) was enough to allow voters cast a ballot. After a delay in the polls officials from the commission have taken steps to protect its current set-up. This includes programming the card readers to work only at specific locations and during specific time frames on election day, which will now be Saturday Feb. 23.

SOURCES: QUARTZ AFRICA

2The Ghanaian Women in the Driving Seat

The campaigns “Women moving the city” and “Women moving trucks” aim to reduce the gender gap in Ghana’s transport industry. Nearly 100 women have trained to become bus or truck drivers in the capital Accra. Ladybird Logistics is a new company that only employs female drivers. The company is playing a key role in “Women moving trucks!”, and is training 22 drivers.

SOURCES: CNN

3South Africa’s Budget Speech in a Nutshell

Finance minister Tito Mboweni delivered a gloomy budget that showed a deterioration in SA’s finances and economic outlook, which may raise the ire of ratings agencies. Delivering his first budget speech since he returned to the cabinet in October, Mboweni predicted that budget deficits would be wider than expected four months ago owing to a weak economy, another shortfall in revenue collection and the need to set aside more cash for the ailing state-owned enterprises. Taxpayers, and the Reserve Bank governor, might be happy with Mboweni pledging that MPs will lead by example and not get salary increases in the current fiscal year, together with provincial legislators and senior executives at SOEs.

SOURCES: BUSINESS DAY LIVE

4Creative Campaigns to Bring an End to Female Genital Mutilation

In Nigeria, young men are increasingly joining the movement against FGM. In Owerri, Imo State, around 68% of women have undergone some form of FGM – one of the highest rates in the country. Men are the decision-makers in many Nigerian families so Ensure, an awareness campaign, speaks to them at every opportunity. Chart-topping musician Smarty visits a school in Ouagadougou to talk about FGM. In Burkina Faso, 76% of women and girls have undergone FGM despite the practice being illegal. Smarty uses music to address the complex social norms that underpin the practice. ‘To end FGM, we need to speak to the whole community. A love of music is universal here – music is how we will be heard, it is how we will be noticed’ he says.

SOURCES: THE GUARDIAN

5Things are About to Change for Kenya’s LGBTi Community

There is a quiet air of excitement at the offices of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC), as the countdown draws closer to Friday when a much-awaited ruling by Kenya’s High Court could make history. Homosexuality is taboo in the East African nation and persecution of sexual minorities is rife. Under sections of Kenya’s penal code, gay sex — or “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” — is punishable by up to 14 years in jail. Campaigners say the laws have long promoted homophobia in the largely conservative Christian country — and are used daily to persecute and discriminate against sexual minorities. They face prejudice in getting jobs, renting housing or seeking medical care or education.

SOURCES: VOA

6An Expedition to Help Create a New Image of Blindness in Africa

On 20 February 1969, seven blind climbers and their four sighted companions completed the arduous trek to the 5,750m crater summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania. The group took nine hours to climb the last 914.4m, fighting against high winds and freezing temperatures, to where they observed a circling Fokker F27 Friendship aircraft dipping its wings in a salute to their achievement. The fittest trekkers were selected from hundreds of volunteers from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and underwent a two-week training programme, which included rope climbing, night camping and mastering the use of mountaineering equipment. The trek was covered on front pages of African newspapers and all the trekkers received a hero’s welcome. Three pairs of their worn out boots are displayed in the Ugandan National Museum.

SOURCES: BBC

7The Compound Issues Fuelling Sudan’s Protests

While the protests were set off by the rising cost of bread and fuel in the north of Sudan, they quickly grew into a demand for more political freedoms and an end to al-Bashir’s rule. By the time they reached Khartoum, the domestic media outlets were ordered to stop covering the story and revoked the media credentials of half a dozen journalists while arresting 70 others. Online platforms, such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter were blocked. The clampdown has not stopped activists and citizen journalists from getting those pictures out – security services beating protesters, in some cases shooting them or running them over. Virtual private networks (VPNs) have allowed activists to circumvent the shutdown. It’s the technology of choice in countries where the authorities cut off access to online sites.

SOURCES: AL JAZEERA

8Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park has Reopened

It was closed after two Britons and their Congolese driver were kidnapped last May by gunmen in the east of the park. They were released three days later, but a ranger was killed trying to defend them. “We have taken enough time to be sure of an improvement of security for visitors,” Virunga’s director Emmanuel Demerode told media outlets. It is Africa’s oldest national park and largest tropical rainforest reserve, covering 7,800 sq km. Warfare in eastern Congo between 1996 and 2003 killed millions of people, mainly through hunger and disease. Since tourism was relaunched in 2014 Virunga has received more than 17,000 visitors.

SOURCES: AFRICA NEWS

9Namibia’s Hottest Desert was Once Made of Ice

A team of researchers reported last month in PLoS One that they had pieced together a picture of an ancient flow of ice where around 300 million years ago, Namibia was frozen and located near the South Pole and was smooshed against what is now South America within the emerging Pangea supercontinent. The key piece of evidence came in the form of lacerated Namibian hills formed long ago by the migration of glaciers and icy rivers. This study features some of the oldest descriptions of these ice-formed sculptures, and it is the first time they have been described in southern Africa. Research on these features doesn’t just provide a window into Earth’s distant past. Lauren Knight, a glacial geomorphologist at the University of Portsmouth, says that this ancient ice stream could be compared to those found today in places such Antarctica and Greenland.

SOURCES: THE NEW YORK TIMES

10[WATCH] Tanzanian Nine-year-old Poet

Tumaini is a nine-year-old from Tanzania with big dreams and big vocabulary. The young poet first went viral after performing her own poem about the country’s first president Julius Kambarage Nyerere. Now, she wants to inspire people through her poetry.

SOURCES: BBC

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