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Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 18 November–1 December

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Source: SciDev.Net

Below is a round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period: 18 November–1 December 2010

Climate change centres for five African countries
Plans are afoot to launch research centres in five Southern African countries to study adaptation to climate change. The centres will focus on improving the sustainable use of soils, water and biodiversity in Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia. They will also provide training and information services, and could expand regional integration. Germany is funding the project with  €50 million (US$ 65.5 million), most of which will be invested in capacity building, research and services.

Nigeria needs US$1.5 trillion to meet growing power demand
Nigeria's growing demand for electricity will need an investment of US$1.5 trillion, according to Bart Nnaji, special adviser to the president on power, and chairman of the presidential task force on power. Nnaji said at the Nigeria Energy Summit, in Abuja, that the country must increase its power generation capacity from 4,200 megawatts to 13,000 in the next two years. Currently less than half of the country's population has access to electricity.

Low-tech solution to clean slums in Tanzania
Slum dwellers may benefit from pedal power to provide cheap and efficient sewage removal. The People Powered Poo Pump, developed by Nate Sharpe, a researcher at Cambridge University, United Kingdom works by placing the end of a hose into a pit latrine and cycling in place for a few minutes. This sucks waste through the hose and into a waste bucket. The pump could 'revolutionise the removal of faecal sludge from pit latrines common to slums in Africa, Asia and other parts of the developing world — and lead to vast health benefits,' said Sharpe, who is planning to test the pump in Dar-es-Salaam, where around 80 per cent of residents live in slum conditions.

Botswana science university faces setbacks
The Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) is unlikely to open before August 2011 — five months behind schedule. The country's second public university was intended to be a world-class university but new decisions by the government may even downgrade it to a technical institution. President Seretse Khama Ian Khama said earlier this month: 'Due to the difficult financial situation arising from the recent recession and changes in the tertiary education landscape, the Ministry of Education and Skills Development is in the process of reviewing the BIUST project to determine the appropriate scope and focus in the context of what we can currently afford.'

Text messages delivering crop information could increase farmers' incomes
Small scale farmers in Ghana are set to benefit from a US$1.25 million technology investment to help them receive timely crop information. The project, funded by the International Finance Company — a member of the World Bank Group — and the Soros Economic Development Fund will help farmers  share information via text messaging. This will enable affordable and timely access to market information, which could prove useful in negotiating better prices and getting crops to the markets more quickly.

Key to Africa's development is in science, says minister
Science is the single most resourceful solution to Africa's development challenges, according to Ato Alemayehu Tegenu, Ethiopia's minister of water and energy. Tegenu said science is the only means by which Africa can free itself from poverty. Science and innovation, he said, will inspire critical management of precious resources, help mitigate the impacts of climate change and enable Africa to move to the frontline of the global transition to renewable energy.

African Development Bank to help clients access carbon financing
A two-year programme to assist people to access carbon finance for commercially viable investments, was launched earlier this month, by the African Development Bank. The programme will, among other things, screen investment proposals, organise capacity-building activities and highlight research findings in climate change vulnerability and adaptation options.

Aluminium smelter causing great pollution in Mozambique
Emissions of polluting fumes and dust from Mozambique's large aluminium smelter, Mozal, situated on the outskirts of Maputo, is damaging the environment. Owners of the smelter have bypassed environment-protecting filters, and carried on with pollution despite protests and calls for better practices, say environmentalists. 'This decision by Mozal is arrogant,' said Antonio Reina, director of the local environmental group Livaningo.

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