Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 8–21 April 2010

Trypanosoma brucei gambiense genome sequence may lead to identification of genes that allow it to infect humans, say scientists Copyright: CDC613

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Below is a round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 8–21 April 2010

Sleeping sickness parasite sequenced
Scientists have published a draft genome sequence for the parasite that causes human African trypanosomiasis — the sleeping sickness. This neglected disease, which affects the nervous system, is prevalent in poor and rural areas in Central and West Africa. Writing in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, the team said the sequence will provide further insights into the disease and inform future studies. More>>

Kenya to increase Internet connectivity
Kenya will set up digital centres in each of its constituencies in a move to boost Internet access across the country. Every constituency is expected to have at least five centres, with computers and Internet connectivity, by the end of the year. The idea of ‘digital villages’ in Kenya have been discussed for three years, but lack of funding has held back plans, said Bitange Ndemo from the Ministry for Information and Communications. More>>

South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria dominate research field in Africa
Three African countries are dominating the continent’s research output, according to a report released by Thomson Reuters last week (12 April). South Africa leads with "the greatest research output of any country" on the continent, followed by Egypt and then Nigeria. But Sub-Saharan Africa’s overall volume of research activity "remains small", according to Jonathan Adams, director of research evaluation at Thomson Reuters. He said that available resources are not being invested in the continent’s research base. More>>

Namibia to back up water supplies
In response to water scarcity in Windhoek, Namibia — Sub-Saharan Africa’s driest capital city — water engineers are harvesting rainwater in de-watered aquifer space to back-up the supplies delivered through pipelines and to help meet future demand. But the project still faces challenges including high costs and susceptibility to pollution. More>>

Farmers must be involved in weather data collection
Engaging farmers to help monitor weather patterns and collect weather data could help them come to terms with the climate change threats to agricultural production, a conference has heard. Findings presented at the first conference of ministers responsible for meteorology in Africa last week (12–16 April) reveal that countries that have involved local communities in this way "have markedly better outcomes in terms of improved agricultural yields and public health". More>>

Malawi and UN team up to address climate change challenges
Malawi has entered into a US$4.2 million agreement with the UN Development Programme to improve collaborations between the government and its development partners on setting-up a national framework to address climate change challenges. Climate change threatens the country’s food security and economic development. Malawi suffers widespread droughts and flooding, and needs a robust framework to mitigate future threats, experts said. More>>

Antibiotic shows promise in river blindness treatment
The antibiotic doxycycline is "well-tolerated" in river blindness patients who are co-infected with Loa loa microfilaraemia and therefore cannot be treated with ivermectin due to severe — currently the only drug available to treat river blindness — researchers have found. The antibiotic, trialed in Cameroon, may provide a viable alternative to ivermectin, but the researchers say that further trials are required to assess its safety and efficacy. More>>

Nigeria needs weather satellite to provide early warnings
Nigeria’s government must acquire a weather satellite to provide early warnings about looming natural disasters. The satellite would enable better weather predictions, said Joseph Akinyede, executive director of the African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education. He also suggested that the country’s meteorological agency should collaborate with American, European and Russian space agencies to harness available data for disaster-prevention planning. More>>

Compiled by Ochieng’ Ogodo.

If you would like to suggest a story for this news in brief, please contact the Africa News Editor Ochieng’ Ogodo (ochieng.ogodo@scidev.net).