AU Passport Launches for Government Workers

The African Union has announced that a significant step has been made to creating free movement between borders. That significant step is a special passport for government officials and head of state who need to travel between countries. The passport is only useful for a small group of people but it shows that the AU is on its way to creating a stronger union with free movement for the population.

Having a visa-free passport is instrumental to the creation of a borderless Africa which will, in turn, accelerate socio-economic growth. According to Acha Leke, the Director of Mckinsey & Company, the passport is essential in order to boost tourism revenue and increase intra-African trade.

The release of the AU passport is a significant mile stone for the outgoing AU Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. In her last opening speech on Sunday, she noted that with the launch of the passport, the body has been able to cross off two big items on its to-do list. At the summit, Dlamini Zuma presented the new passport to the incoming chairperson, H.E. Idriss Deby Itno, the President of Chad, and Paul Kagame, the Rwandan President.

Read more.

Meningitis Outbreak in Africa Will Not Happen

Meningitis has killed a lot of people, most of them in Africa in what is referred to as “the meningitis belt”. Every couple of years a meningitis outbreak flares up and ravages many countries, but not this year. This year meningitis was beaten by a cadre of countries and organizations. Many lives will be saved thanks to their efforts.

The last big outbreak was in 1996-1997. 250,000 people were infected and some 25,000 people died. Even in off years, there are low level meningitis outbreaks. Last year, 1,300 people died from the disease in Africa.

But this year, there will be no meningitis season at all.

It did not make front page headlines, but last month it was announced that cases of meningitis dropped to effectively zero in 2014 across the meningitis belt.

The disease has been effectively wiped out through a combination of technological innovation, political will, and an unusual collaboration between the pharmaceutical industry, NGOs and governments.

Read more.
Thanks to Mirella!

Ethiopia Opens Africa’s Largest Wind Farm

Ethiopia is looking to massively expand their energy infrastructure and renewable sustainable energy is a key part of their strategy. This is great to see new energy installations focus on the long-term effectiveness and viability of projects.

“Various studies have proved that there is potential to harness abundant wind energy resources in every region of Ethiopia. We cannot maintain growth without utilising the energy sector,” Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said in a speech at the launch.

Experts put Ethiopia’s hydropower potential at around 45,000 MW and geothermal at 5,000 MW, while its wind power potential is believed to be Africa’s third-largest behind Egypt and Morocco.

Read more at Al Jazeera.

Brazil Restructures Debt With African Countries

Brazil has announced that they will essentially “write off” about $90 million in debt from African nations. This is for helping the countries alleviate their huge levels of debt while helping create stronger economic ties between Brazil and their indebted partner nations.

“To maintain a special relationship with Africa is strategic for Brazil’s foreign policy.”

He added that most of the debt was accumulated in the 1970s and had been renegotiated before.

A spokesman for Brazil’s Foreign Ministry told Efe news agency that the debt restructuring for some countries would consist of more favourable interest rates and longer repayment terms.

Congo-Brazzaville owes the most to Brazil – $352m – followed by Tanzania ($237m) and Zambia ($113.4m).

The other countries to benefit are Ivory Coast, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, and Sudan.

Read more at BBC.

One Amazing Fence

Fences can build good neighbours and fences can save the environment. One fence has done
wonders for protecting rhinos and water.

Colin Church, the chair of the Kenya-based Rhino Ark conservation group and a leading expert on African leading wildlife, said the fence, which took 21 years for local communities to complete, had failed to save the rhino in the uplands it surrounds.

However, it had succeeded in protecting a large forest area and the sources of four of seven of Kenya’s largest rivers, all of which rise in the Aberdares and provide electricity and water to major cities including Nairobi.

“In the early days, the motivation was to protect the black rhino, but then we all woke up to the fact that the farmers [who lived near the fence] were celebrating, and the reality is that this forested mountain area was the lifeblood for millions of people. We realised the whole ecosystem was at stake,” he said.

“Our thinking had to change.The Aberdares are now the most secure mountain ecosystem in the whole of Kenya and maybe Africa.”

Keep reading at The Guardian.