Tag Archives | Africa

UN Identifies the World’s Most Expensive Broadband Access

BroadbandIn the Central African Republic, broadband internet service costs 3891% of the average monthly income. Put another way, a month’s broadband service costs more than three years’ average wages in the country,” notes this technology blog, “compared with less than two hours’ earnings in Macau.” (The world’s cheapest broadband access…)

A United Nations’ technology group released the figures in a new report in advance of a September 19 summit on the digital divide in developing countries. (“We are trying to avoid a broadband divide,” said Dr. Hamadoun Toure, the secretary general of the UN’s International Telecommunications Union says in the report.) Their agency noted that the rate for broadband penetration is below 1% in many poor countries, with monthly costs higher than the average monthly income, whereas in the world’s most developed economies, 30% of people have access to broadband at less than 1% of their income.

And the report also estimates that there are 5 billion cellphones in the world — though some people may own more than one.”

Read the rest

Continue Reading

The Genocide Behind Your Smart Phone (Video)

Alan Mascarenhas writes on Newsweek:
It takes a lot to snap people out of apathy about Africa’s problems. But in the wake of Live Aid and Save Darfur, a new cause stands on the cusp of going mainstream. It’s the push to make major electronics companies (manufacturers of cell phones, laptops, portable music players, and cameras) disclose whether they use “conflict minerals” — the rare metals that finance civil wars and militia atrocities, most notably in Congo. The issue of ethical sourcing has long galvanized human-rights groups. In Liberia, Angola, and Sierra Leone, the notorious trade in “blood diamonds” helped fund rebel insurgencies. In Guinea, bauxite sustains a repressive military junta. And fair-labor groups have spent decades documenting the foreign sweatshops that sometimes supply American clothing stores. Yet Congo raises especially disturbing issues for famous tech brand names that fancy themselves responsible corporate citizens. A key mover behind the Congo campaign is the anti-genocide Enough Project: witness its clever spoof of the famous Apple commercial.
Continue Reading

True Blood For African Addicts

At what point do people need a fix so bad that they are willing to inject another person’s blood into themselves? With the constant presence of AIDS related deaths in Africa, and the progressive educational-outreach towards sex workers and addicts, it would seem a foolish thought. BBC reports:

Desperate heroin users in a few African cities have begun engaging in a practice that is so dangerous it is almost unthinkable: they deliberately inject themselves with another addict’s blood, researchers say, in an effort to share the high or stave off the pangs of withdrawal.

The practice, called flashblood or sometimes flushblood, is not common, but has been reported in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on the island of Zanzibar and in Mombasa, Kenya.

It puts users at the highest possible risk of contracting AIDS and hepatitis. While most AIDS transmission in Africa is by heterosexual sex, the use of heroin is growing in some cities, and experts are warning that flashblood — along with syringe-sharing and other dangerous habits — could fuel a new wave of AIDS infections.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

A New African Ocean?

For over the past 5 years, scientific researchers have been observing an ocean in the making.  Scientists at the Royal Society, claim that the African continent will be split in two based on a 60 kilometer crack in the Earth’s surface in Ethiopia.  Tim Wright, the lead researcher, estimates that the process of forming a new ocean will take approximately ten billion years.  The crack is caused by molten rock slowly rising from deep below the Earth’s surface.  Matt McGrath of the BBC goes into detail:

“Dr James Hammond, a seismologist from the University of Bristol – who has been working in Afar – says that parts of the region are below sea level and the ocean is only cut off by about a 20-metre block of land in Eritrea.

“Eventually this will drift apart,” he told the BBC World Service. “The sea will flood in and will start to create this new ocean.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Albinos Killed in Burundi for Belief That ‘Good Luck’ is Brought by Body Parts

Albino Boy

Photo: Muntuwandi (CC)

Tom Odula writes on the AP:

Attackers in Burundi chopped off the limbs of a 5-year-old albino boy and pulled out his mother’s eye, killing them over the belief that their body parts would bring wealth and success, human rights activists said Friday.

Those deaths and other recent attacks in Tanzania are part of long pattern of violence against African albinos. At least 10,000 have been displaced or gone into hiding since attacks against them spiked in late 2007, the International Federation of the Red Cross says.

Since then, 57 albinos have been killed in Tanzania and 14 in Burundi, said Vicky Ntetema with the rights group Under The Same Sun.

The killings are fueled by superstitious beliefs that human albino body parts will bring others wealth and success, Ntetema said.

“Body parts are sought for their supposed miraculous powers,” she said. “Some use them as human sacrifice as advised by witch doctors.”

Read More: AP

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Scientists Find 95-Million-Year-Old Bugs In African Amber

Scientists have found amber containing perfectly-preserved 95-million-year-old bugs. From Wired Science:

Suspended in the stream of time were ancestors of modern spiders, wasps and ferns, but the prize is a wingless ant (above) that challenges current notions about the origins of that globe-spanning insect family.

The amber, which is formed when plant resin fossilizes, preserving flora and fauna trapped within, was found in what is now northwest Ethiopia. Ninety-five million years ago, it was part of a disintegrating Gondwana, one of two vast land masses that spawned the seven modern continents.

While it will take years to interpret the ecological tales trapped in the new amber, one important story is already suggested. Inside the Ethiopian amber is an ant that looks nothing like ants found in Cretaceous amber from France and Burma. Those deposits had placed the origin of ants in Laurasia. That’s no longer certain.

Read more at Wired Science

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Archbishop Tutu’s DNA Helps Show African Diversity

Archbishop-TutuBy Malcolm Ritter for AP via comcast.net News:

Scientists who decoded the DNA of some southern Africans have found striking new evidence of the genetic diversity on that continent, and uncovered a surprise about the ancestry of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

They found, for example, that any two Bushmen in their study who spoke different languages were more different genetically than a European compared to an Asian. That was true even if the Bushmen lived within walking distance of each other.

“If we really want to understand human diversity, we need to go to (southern) Africa and we need to study those people,” said Stephan Schuster of Pennsylvania State University. He’s an author of the study, which appears in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.

The study also found 1.3 million tiny variations that hadn’t been observed before in any human DNA. That should help scientists sort out whether particular genes promote certain diseases or influence a person’s response to medications.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Alabama-Born Jihad

The New York Times has an article on a kid raised as a Southern Baptist in small town Alabama who grew up to become an Al Qaeda-aided Jihadist leader in Somalia:

As a teenager, his passions veered between Shakespeare and Kurt Cobain, soccer and Nintendo.. “It felt cool just to be with him,” his best friend at the time, Trey Gunter, said recently. “You knew he was going to be a leader.”

A decade later, Hammami has fulfilled that promise in the most unimaginable way. Some 8,500 miles from Alabama, on the eastern edge of Africa, he has become a key figure in one of the world’s most ruthless Islamist insurgencies. The rebels are known for beheading political enemies, chopping off the hands of thieves and stoning women accused of adultery.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Report: UN-Backed Congo Troops Killing Civilians

From Yahoo News:

JOHANNESBURG – A U.N.-backed Congolese military operation to oust rebels from eastern Congo has caused more civilian casualties than damage to rebels, with more than 1,400 people deliberately killed over a nine-month period, human rights groups said Monday.

Human Rights Watch said it had documented “vicious and widespread” attacks against civilians by soldiers and rebels between January and September. Soldiers being fed and supplied with ammunition by the United Nations have killed civilians, gang-raped girls and cut the heads off some young men they accuse of being rebels or supporting the enemy, groups said.

“For every rebel combatant disarmed, one civilian has been killed, seven women and girls have been raped, six houses have been burned and destroyed and 900 people have been forced to flee their homes,” British-based organization Oxfam said.

Human Rights Watch said it documented the killings of 732 civilians between January and September by the Congolese army and troops from neighboring Rwanda fighting alongside it.

Read the rest
Continue Reading