Africa, technology, media, humanitarian issues, Africa jobs.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Biopiracy for World Intellectual Property Day (April 26): The University of Toledo has tried to patent the use of Endod, an Ethiopian berry to control zebra mussels. The Endod berry, used as a natural soap, but was found by an Ethiopian scientist to control schistosomiasis, a disease carried by freshwater snails. From the Traditional Ecological Knowledge Prior Art Database (T.E.K.* P.A.D.). (via Development Gateway).

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Zambian internet pioneer Regina Cammy Shakakata died in November 2002. The Pula newsletter offers an obituary. I remember her fondly from an APC workshop on the African Internet in South Africa in 1997. The meeting produced a truculent communique which we called (toungue in cheek) the Holy Family Communique.

Reading it again, I wonder how far we have come. Here's an extract:

  • Relevant African information ("content") needs to be produced, managed and delivered appropriately within Africa. The raw information heritage is too valuable to be trusted to others. Almost no resources are directed to this need.
  • Telephone and other communication infrastructure beyond the cities remains under-funded - a problem that liberalisation cannot solve. Private investment in deregulated markets has so far generally concentrated in the major cities.
  • The little international investment that there is in technical training and capacity building - a critical need, especially to bring more women into networking - too often neglects the particular needs of Africa.
  • Methods of information delivery must go beyond "putting it on the Web". The power and flexibility of electronic mail should not be underestimated.
  • Alliances are being developed between some donors and parastatal PTTs which are giving governments a stranglehold on national bandwidth. Donors are mainly focusing on the pipes, not the people.
  • We seek greater consultation from the various initiatives which aim to steer telematics developments in Africa - including: AIF, ANI, AISI, AFCOM, SDNP, ACACIA and the Leland Initiative. There is a difference between being used as cheap advisors and then ignored, and becoming valued as key stakeholders in an ongoing process.

BBC NEWS | Africa | UN sends more troops to Ituri. IRIN reports 200 more troops. The UN force in DRC and its approach to Ituri explored here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Democrats are "damned" according to Swazi clerical sycophants.

Telkom Kenya is changing area codes. And, by the way, 1 MB of bandwidth in Nairobi costs $6750 per month.

TIMEeurope Magazine | Heroes 2003 - Innovators. Kenyan social entrepreneurs ApproTEC are nominated heroes by Time magazine. Their MoneyMaker irrigation foot pump is helping small famers make profits.

Gold and minerals exploration in Eritrea: Canadian company Nevsun continues exploration in Western Eritrea despite the murder of its consultant which Asmara blames on Islamic rebels backed by Sudan and Ethiopia. The Yahoo! chart illustrates investor excitement about Nevsun's prospects in Mali and Eritrea.

PDF: "Humanitarian work should be performed by humanitarian organisations. Insofar as military organisations have a role to play in supporting humanitarian work, it should, to the extent possible, not encompass direct assistance in order to retain a clear distinction between the normal functions and roles of humanitarian and military stakeholders."
Rather obvious but sound advice from a briefing note on humanitarian issues in Iraq by the Humanitarian Policy Group of the UK-based Overseas Development Institute

Global Witness: Reports. Al Qaeda in the illicit African diamond market.

e-Africa - Journal of Governance and Innovation. They say: "e-Africa - Journal of Governance and Innovation will be launched on May 1 by the South African Institute of International Affairs Johannesburg, South Africa ( ) . It will be a free e-publication to the leaders of nations, policy makers, key business and NGO people, academics and journalists across Africa."

Thursday, April 17, 2003

RIPE NCC Training Course Request Form. If you are in an African ISP, this free course in Kampala is for you.

New Technologies for Rural Applications The ITU is requesting ideas and information - and may fund - pilot projects using WiFi in rural areas.

Five contenters for 3rd Kenya GSM licence. As MTN are not there, the word is they are highly likely to buy Vivendi's share of Kencell.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

FoodNet | Market Information Here it is - the price of bananas in Uganda. Coffee, Cotton, Maize, Cocoa prices are available via SMS on MTN Uganda

Very interesting job. Using SMS to deliver market content to local traders in Kenya.

The Networking Africa's Future conference is under way

More South African airports to get WiFi Net access

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Meteorological experts warn of severe drought It's not just my yard. Kenya is having a drought.

Saw a family of Sykes monkey in the parking lot leaving work yesterday. The rains still haven't really started. It's getting late...

Poor 12-year-old Iraqi bomb victim Ali is becoming the "framing" humanitarian story (the woman giving birth in a tree in Mozambique has been called the "framing" story from the floods disaster there - see below). There is an Ali Fund which has raised UKP140,000.

Do you know this name: Adekoye Jo Fola Adeoye? The British police have belatedly narrowed their search for clues in the allegedly ritual killing of a black child in London to Nigeria. In a bizarre show of ignorance, the police had previously brought in a South African expert in "muti" - or witchcraft - killings called Dr Hendrick Scholtz, while the name found at the scene was obviously Nigerian.

Only the torso of the boy - aged five or six - was found in the River Thames. The graphic here was released by UK police. Police have offered a £50,000 reward for information leading to a conviction for the boy's murder.

The clues available to the police were:
Orange shorts with a label in German
Seven half-burned candles wrapped in a white sheet
A name - Adekoye Jo Fola Adeoye - written on the sheet and the name Fola Adeoye inscribed on the candles.
The name is thought to be Yoruba

Now (April 2003) they have done analysis on the bones and have narrowed their search to between Benin City and Ibadan.

Detectives from London are now in Nigeria hunting the killer. (Ananova categorises this as a South Africa story)

Oil and gas analyst Duncan Clarke of Global Pacific and Partners has released a paper coining the phrase "The Third Scramble for Africa" about oil prospects in Africa. Here is the summary of oil reserves across the continent:

In Angola, reserves may sit around 12-15 BBLS proven while Sonangol has cited potential as some 50-70 BBLS. Benin may have some 100 MMBLS, but the deepwater is yet to be tested. Cameroon is under stress and estimates of oil may only be 200 MMBLS, while others cite 400 MMBLS, with potential in the 3-400 MMBLS range, again deepwaters to consider. CAR has no commercially proven reserves but industry sources indicate potential around 1-2 BBLS. In Chad, 1.0 BBLS is proven and another 1-2 BBLS may await discovery. Congo has suffered reserve downgrades in fields recently but proven oil is around 1.3-1.5 BBLS, and a new upsurge appears in-place with potential maybe at 1.0 BBLS, much hinging on the deepwaters. Cote d’Ivoire has had recent discoveries and a range of 500-1,000 MMBLS is indicated with Government claiming potential at 6.0 BBLS, this over-optimistic. In DRC, fields are small and 100 MMBLS may be proven now with potential at 150 MMBLS. In Equatorial Guinea, some 2-3.0 BBLS may have been proven, with potential possibly at 2-3.0 BBLS. Eritrea has neither proven oil nor clear image of oil potential evident. Likewise is Ethiopia, but for 300 MMBC reported in the Calub. Gabon has suffered decline, and 2.6 BBLS is thought to exist but with potential for another 5.0 BBLS. No oil has been discovered in The Gambia but claims of potential at 100 MMBLS are made. In Ghana, GNPC had claimed 800 MMBLS but 50 MMBLS is more likely now, with unclear potential for more. Guinea has no proven oil to date and potential is undeclared. In Guinea-Bissau, the Dome Flore may have 1.0 BBLS of Heavy Oil. Kenya remains a frontier with no proven reserves but potential according to officials could be 2-3.0 BBLS, a claim awaiting exploration in deepwaters. Liberia has delineated offshore blocks and some place potential at 100-200 MMBLS. Madagascar has recorded Heavy Oil finds, OMNIS suggesting potential might be 500-1,000 MMBLS. No one expects oil in Malawi now. Mocambique has been a gas play, and deepwaters will soon be tested. Mali has no proven oil but one player reckons potential at 2-4.0 BBLS. Mauritania has an estimated 300 MMBLS and potential might reach 1.5 BBLS in time. In Namibia, it has been gas. In landlocked Niger, some 350 MMBLS exist, yet to be commercialised, and potential might be some 1-2.0 BBLS. Nigeria’s Government reports 33 BBLS now with 40 MMBLS expected by 2007, and potential somewhere around another 25-40 BBLS to 2025 given success in deepwaters and ultra-deep plays as well as the JDZ. Rwanda only has methane gas in Lake Kivu. In Sao Tome & Principe, the talk is of 4-8 BBLS potential, untested. Senegal has only 10 MMBLS and an 85% share of Dome Flore and AGC waters. Seychelles has not shown reserves but SNOC believes 1-2.0 BBLS exists in the Archipelago. Sierra Leone is just starting to award blocks, and potential is unknown. Somalia mostly under force majeure has proven oil and potential, perhaps 100 MMBLS within ready reach in the near term, some saying 1.2.0 BBLS potential in the long-run. In South Africa, oil reserves stand around 40-50 MMBLS and potential is placed by State agencies at some 1.0 BBLS in time, with deepwater openings coming and the EEZ expected within 10 years. In Sudan, proven oil may already be at 2.5 BBLS, and growing with CNPC-Petrodar’s recent discoveries, while suggest potential up to 8-12 BBLS. Tanzania has been a gas play with the Mafia Basin deepwater under examination, and potential is indicated by TPDC at maybe 500 MMBLS. Togo has had no luck, and potential is undeclared. In Uganda, operators reckon there could be a potential of 650 MMBLS. Zamibia is a long shot for any company. Zimbabwe has probably no hope.

Clarke does not regard the new Ugandan announcements yet worthy of inclusion. Overall reserves are put at 60 billion barrels. Sadly oil and other mineral wealth have brought misery and war to Angola, Sierra Leone, the DRC and elsewhere.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Fellowship in digital technology and the African Diaspora . "The Center for Black Studies is currently accepting applications for the 2003-04 Visiting Fellow in Residence at the University of California, Santa Barbara. We are interested in researchers working in the areas of digital technologies and the African Diaspora. This fellowship will help inaugurate the Center's new research initiative concerned with the
intersections of race and technology from a number of perspectives including, historical, economical, institutional, socio-political, cultural-artistic, global, local, and interpersonal. The Center intends this race and technology initiative to help reframe public debates about the "digital divide.""

Rageh Omaar t-shirt (via MediaGuardian). Why is a football site selling this? And are they paying the man?

Map of Ituri showing Drodro, location of the latest massacres.

HTTP 501 Not implemented. Oh dear - the UN is moving to Windows on the main website and forgot to set it up properly. The Iraq page, for example is stuffed.

The CNN effect: Does media coverage make any difference in generating funds for humanitarian relief? The woman giving birth in a tree in Mozambique is given in this (PDF) paper from the Humanitarian Review as an example of "framing" the story. The Orissa cyclone on India killed 10 times more people but generated a fraction of the response. The paper argues that lobbying has a greater effect than courting a fickle media.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Humanitarian hyperbole watch: "The clock is ticking, and if time runs out, we will have a huge problem like you have never seen before." 2 billion people worldwide do not have safe water. So what exactly will we not have seen before in Basra and Baghdad?

Iraq: Relief and Recovery. The World Bank's hyperportal, the Development Gateway, has a new Iraq section.

AfriNIC - an African regional Internet registry. Soon Afrinic will be choosing which country should host the central service which allocates IP numbers to Africa.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Affected Areas - Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). WHO's page shows no cases in Africa yet. This must be the nastiest disease not to be blamed on Africa for some decades...

DEPHA: Digital mapping (GIS)resources for the Horn of Africa.

Monday, April 07, 2003 -- Uganda: RPA Moves Closer. Northeastern DRC looks worse and worse as new massacres are reported in Ituri.

Friday, April 04, 2003

ReliefWeb: Iraq: Military/humanitarian distinction not just lofty ideal

Humanitarian hyperbole watch: Umm Qasr "bleak".. We shall watch the adjectives in the coming days... There will be inflation.

Since June of 2002, an estimated 5,000 children have been abducted from northern Uganda by the charismatic-terrorist group, the Lord's Resistance Army.

Job: Executive Director of the IMLU (Kenya). The Independent Medico Legal Unit (IMLU) is a non-profit organization. Its focus is to promote and protect of human rights by providing medical and legal assistance to victims and survivors of torture.

Genetics and race: One quarter of "white" South Africans shared a male ancestor with Nama Khiosan people in a recent test in South Africa.

The US CENTCOM now says they think Thuraya phones are insecure. Thuraya phones are portable satphones which also can be recharged by solar power. They say "Thuraya uses encryption which is equivalent in robustness to the standard GSM encryption."

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

IRIN: UGANDA: Oil potential confirmed. If "Several billion barrels" means, say, 5 billion, then Uganda would have more oil than the UK or Gabon. the US DOE estimates world oil reserves in this table.

Extracts from the 1 April edition of the e-newsletter Humanitarian Times (

favoring the new programming design by President Bush, Save the
Children will now bomb children after feeding them. The new
fundraising campaign "Bombs with Biscuits" has already raised $300,000
in private donations, primarily from Texas & Florida. Other NGOs are
leery of this mixing of destructive ordnance, killing & humanitarian
aid, claiming that it might confuse the beneficiaries about the
intentions of humanitarian NGOs; as a symbol of protest MSF closed all
its programs in Westport Connecticut.

extend the now-in-revision SPHERE humanitarian charter & minimum
standards. Among the new standards is a clarification that relief
aid should only be given if the recipients reveal tactical information
useful to combat or if they agree to flee their homes. Water should
be delivered primarily in the form of imported bottles & shelter
destruction should be given earliest priority.

There are "several billion" barrels of oil underneath Uganda, confirmed by a test drilling by Heritage Oil on 31 March. Meanwhile President Yoweri Museveni feels 20 years in power may not be enough.

As reported earlier for IRIN, this does not bode well for peace on the Congolese side of the border.

"The prospect of petrodollars in Ituri may have provided a new impetus to the bloody battle for control of Ituri in 2002, analysts say. Geological surveys have indicated potential oil reserves in the Semliki basin, south of Lake Albert. A Canadian firm, Heritage Oil Corporation, has been exploring western Uganda since 1997 and is in the process of drilling a test well in the area called "Turaco-1". In June 2002, Heritage signed an agreement with President Joseph Kabila to gain initial rights to a staggering 3.1 million hectares of eastern DRC, including eastern Ituri. The test well on the Ugandan side of the border has a 20 percent chance of producing oil, officials of Heritage indicate, and is expected to produce results, one way or the other, before early 2003. In another illustration of the links between the security and commercial dimensions of the conflict, a founder and director of Heritage Oil, Anthony (Tony) Buckingham, was the "inspiration behind Sandline [International]", the British private security firm."

Today is Safe Motherhood Day.

Aidspeak of the day: What is a Shared Vision Program (SVP)?

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Numbers: Amount paid out by the UN Compensation Commission for claims against Iraq arising from the 1991 invasion of Kuwait: $16,680,964,976.12 (PDF).

The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) was created in 1991 as a subsidiary organ of the UN Security Council. Its mandate is to process claims and pay compensation for losses and damage suffered as a direct result of Iraq's unlawful invasion and occupation of Kuwait. Funds to pay the awards of compensation are drawn from the United Nations Compensation Fund which currently receives 25 per cent of the revenue generated from the export of Iraqi petroleum and petroleum products, pursuant to Security Council resolution 1330 (2000).

UN appeals for $2bn for Iraq.