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Below is a round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 23 September–6 October 2010

East Africa making progress in renewable energy
Rising electricity prices are driving various countries in East Africa to move away from a solely carbon-based electricity network to a cleaner power grid. Energy prices in the region are up to five times higher than in South Africa, making it difficult for both consumers and industrialists. Electricity demand in the region is also outstripping grid supply. "We are not there yet, but countries are starting to take the bull by the horns," said Mark Hankins at the Africa Energy Week 2010 in Cape Town (27–30 September). More>>

Smart phones for food surveys
Smart phones are being harnessed to assess food needs in Burundi and other African countries. The World Food Programme (WFP) is piloting them in food surveys, aimed at faster data collection and improved accuracy. The phones, costing around US$200, are loaded with a specially developed application for the project. WFP Burundi marks the first phase of the project, with plans to expand to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique. More>>

Global initiative to preserve yam biodiversity
An ambitious initiative by farmers and scientists to conserve diversity of yam — a crop eaten by 60 million in Africa — backed by the Global Crop Diversity Trust, is underway. It is hoped that the scheme will enable the addition of 3,000 yam samples to international genebanks. "This opportunity to protect an incredibly wide variety of yams allows us to feel more reassured that the unique diversity of yam will be safely secured and available to future generations," said Alexandre Dansi, a yam expert at the University of Abomey-Calavi in Benin. More>>

Senegal to benefit from climate change adaptation fund
Senegal is to benefit from one of two projects, worth US$14 million, launched by the Adaptation Fund — set up to finance adaptation programmes in developing countries. Senegal's project, awarded to the country's Ecological Monitoring Centre, will focus on combating coastal erosion that has been worsened by climate change and rising sea levels. "Going through this flexible although rigorous process was challenging and will certainly constitute an unequivocal source of motivation for all African countries," said the centre's general manager Assize Touré. More>>

Ugandan scientists demand science ministry
Ugandan scientists have reiterated the need for a science ministry to accelerate the country's science and technology (S&T) development. During a meeting by S&T professors on the challenges hindering the development of S&T and innovation in Uganda, they argued that such a ministry would also be crucial in lobbying for funding. More>>

Equatorial Guinea wants UNESCO to end Obiang prize deferral
Equatorial Guinea has called for immediate end to the deferral of the controversial UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)–Obiang Nguema Mbasogo International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences at UNESCO's annual general meeting. President Obiang, who has ruled the country for more than 30 years, has been accused of widespread human rights abuses. The prize was deferred in June and is pending consultations scheduled for this month (October). More>>

Zimbabwe set for major Internet penetration
One of Zimbabwe's biggest Internet service providers, Africom, has invested US$30 million in a project to increase mobile penetration across the country. "Mobile operators are now offering Internet services … and we said we need to offer a full bouquet of communication services," said Kwanayi Kashangura, Africom founder and chief executive officer. Currently Africom has three million subscribers. More>>

South African immunology website scoops top prize
A South African immunology website providing doctors with easy access to immunology information has won the Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE) award. Immunopaedia is a free resource designed by Clive Gray, a researcher at the University of Johannesburg. The site features clinical case studies of HIV infected children. 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 ([email protected]).

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