Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 9–22 September 2010


Source: SciDev.Net

Below is a round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 9–22 September 2010

More seed companies key to Africa's much-awaited Green Revolution
Africa needs more seed companies that will 'multiply, market, and disseminate improved seed varieties' to enable farmers to increase food production, according to an International Institute of Tropical Agriculture maize breeder. Baffour Badu-Apraku said developing the continent's seed sector was vital 'to have a landmark breakthrough in agricultural productivity'.

Kenya to develop electronic waste management regulations
Kenya will become the first East African nation to develop regulations for managing electronic waste (e-waste), in a bid to reduce the hazards associated with unsafe disposal. One of the first steps will be to map the environmental effects of e-waste on the country. Experts from organisations including Kenya's environment ministry, the National Environment Management Authority and Microsoft also called for investigation into the hindrances to safe disposal and the country's recycling infrastructure.

Africa faces drug-resistant HIV threat, says study
Nearly six per cent of patients about to start HIV treatment for the first time in Africa already have resistance to standard first-line anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs according to research conducted in Lusaka, Zambia. The study was part of a monitoring programme on transmitted HIV drug resistance, as well as 'secondary' drug resistance — resistance acquired during treatment — by a Dutch nongovernmental organisation. The researchers fear that Africa could become like Europe and the United States where up to 20 per cent of new HIV patients have drug resistance.

Embark on ambitious space programme, Africa told
Africa must harness space technology to manage its natural resources and maintain its diversity, according to Jean-Pierre Ezin, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technologies at the African Union Commission. He was speaking at a meeting at the European Commission in Belgium this week. Ezin said that the 'time has come to develop skills so as to achieve high level training and research throughout Africa and to bridge the technological gap between countries and regions within Africa and between Africa and other continents'.

Mozambican government to promote use of renewable energies
The government of Mozambique plans to pursue clean and renewable energies to aid energy efficiency and socioeconomic development, particularly in off-grid rural areas. According to Jaime Himede, the country's deputy energy minister, the use of these types of energy will help create income-generating opportunities without high initial costs and with less harmful impacts on the environment compared with the use of wood fuels.

UN hopes to lessen Rwandan communities' vulnerability to climate change
The UN's environment and development programmes have launched a pilot project, with funding from the Danish Foreign Ministry, to mitigate local Rwandan communities' vulnerability to climate change. They have jointly mapped and developed a comprehensive plan for land use and sustainability aimed at restoring the thousands of hectares of land in Rwanda's Gishwati Forest destroyed by decades of degradation. Technical manuals to help local governments and communities better manage forest resources have also been developed.

Kenya and South Africa to host high-tech mobile phone labs
Kenya and South Africa have been chosen to host 'Incubation Labs of Mobile Phone Applications for Development'. The labs are funded by the World Bank in partnership with Finland and mobile phone provider Nokia. East and Southern Africa will have one lab each where local and regional companies, technologists and experts can work in partnership to develop applications relevant to local user needs.

Ugandan scientists release disease-free sweet potato varieties
Researchers at Uganda's National Crop Resources Research Institute (Nacrri) have released disease-free sweet potatoes varieties for further multiplication and planting. Using tissue culture, they have come up with varieties resistant to sweet potato pests, diseases and weevils. Sweet potato is Uganda's third most important crop after banana and cassava with production of about 2.6 million metric tonnes annually.

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