Below is a round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 3–17 December 2007.
Biofuel for Mali
Smallscale farmers in Mali will cultivate sweet sorghum and jatropha in a three-year biofuels research-into-development project funded by the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development. Juice pressed from sorghum stalks will make ethanol and jatropha seeds will make biodiesel. More>>
Work begins on South/east Africa fibre optic cable
Work has begun on the SEA data cable, which will link southern and east Africa with India and France. The cable, with landing points in Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Africa and Tanzania, will have ten times the bandwidth capacity of the existing west coast cable when it goes into use in 2009. More>>
Botswana coal resources 'unexploited'
Botswana's coal deposits are unexploited and — despite fossil fuel's contribution to climate change — power cuts in the 15-nation Southern Africa Development Community are so severe that there are plans to utilise the reserves using the cleanest available processing technologies. More>>
Government mismanagement slows HIV fight in southern Africa
Large increases in funding have had little impact in reducing the prevalence of HIV-AIDS in South Africa, according to a report from the nongovernmental organisation Transparency International-Zimbabwe. The absence of mechanisms to track budgets, lack of accountability, poor oversight and government underspending were ''a potentially lethal cocktail,'' the report says. More>> [691kB]
Climate change impact on freshwater 'must be considered'
The Niger River Basin, which runs through Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, faces threats from climate change, increased human pressure and new dams, according to the International Institute for Environment and Development. Decreased rainfall in West Africa has seen river flow in Africa's second largest wetland drop by about half in recent years. More>> [93.5kB]
Vaccinated food halts virus transmission in chickens
Broken grains of millet containing heat-stable vaccines provide an ideal way to inoculate free-roaming chickens against Newcastle disease, say researchers from the University of Nigeria and the Nigerian National Veterinary Research Institute. Their work, published in the African Journal of Biotechnology, provides new ways to treat reservoirs of the disease without penalising smallscale farmers. More>> [92.6kB]
Bean trade hindered by East African border bureaucracy
Bribes, stamp duty and complex certification requirements are hampering smallscale bean farmers' access to markets in the border regions of Kenya and Uganda, according to a report in the African Journal of Agricultural Research. More>> [71.1kB]
Boost for West African aquaculture
Researchers from Nnamdi Azikiwe University and the University of Nigeria successfully induced early spawning in African giant catfish using a synthetic hormone. Their report in the African Journal of Agricultural Research suggests that this technique may overcome the inadequate supply of fingerlings, a major constraint in African fish farming. More>> [96.8kB]
Stress 'triggering type 1 diabetes' in Zimbabwean children
Zimbabwean children aged 6–15 appear to be particularly vulnerable to developing diabetes following severe emotional stress, such as the death of a parent or deteriorating socioeconomic conditions, according to a study. The report in the South African Journal of Science found that environmental factors were major determinants in triggering the disease. More>> [388kB]
Inexpensive monitoring of air pollution
Long-term measurement programmes can survive cost escalation and changing government priorities by using small, lightweight passive samplers to monitor many key airborne pollutants without the use of electricity, say researchers. Scientists from South Africa's NorthWest University have monitored pollutants for a decade at sites such as Okaukuejo in Namibia. More>> [497kB]
The economic benefit of aggressive TB campaigns
The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe are among 22 countries that could reap major economic benefits by bringing down the number of people suffering from tuberculosis. A World Bank study says the high-burden countries would earn significantly more than they currently spend on treatment. More>>