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29 March 2021

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the Africa Weekly Digest covering news, stories, and publications that captured our hearts this past week. 

This edition features key highlights from Earth Hour, World Water Day,  Elephants on the IUCN Red List, and many more.

We wish you the most blissful upcoming Easter holidays.  We will be back on 12th April with a double issue of this digest. 

Happy reading and looking forward to your feedback.

This newsletter is made in Africa and globally curious!
Earth Hour 2021 bring together 192 Countries and Territories 

Congratulations to everyone for making Earth Hour 2021 another unforgettable year! We so enjoyed watching everyone switch off around the world and put a spotlight on our planet! Earth Hour has astonished us yet again by breaking EVERY measurement metric: 192 participating countries and territories, 6.7 Billion social impressions (with numbers still rolling in), trending in 42 countries, and the Earth Hour Virtual Spotlight video, highlighting the link between nature loss and pandemics, had at least 2.4 million views in 24 hours, making it the most-watched video in Earth Hour history! Media coverage, at last checking, is over the 50,000 marks before the wrap-up press release has even been issued.  You can watch the wrap-up video here: WWF


African Forest and Savanna Elephants on IUCN Red List for the First time

IUCN Red List has released a #new Endangered and Critically Endangered status for AfricanElephantsIt follows a scientific decision to treat this species of elephant as two distinct species: the #forestelephant and the savanna elephant.

World’s First Wildlife Bond to Track Rhino Populations in Africa

The five-year, 670 million rand (US$45 million) security will be the world’s first wildlife conservation bond and the aim is to sell it in the middle of the year. 

 State of Wildlife Report in Africa

The State of the Wildlife Economy Report focuses on the “Big Five” wildlife economy activities: i) ecotourism, ii) hunting (including some aspects of fishing), iii) wildlife ranching, iv) non-timber forest products, v) the carbon market. The report finds that the wildlife economy contributes to local, national, and regional economies but is largely not taken into account by governments and its full value is not accounted for. Africa Leadership University  


 Army fires 'kill five Elephants' in Kenya 

Five elephants, including a calf, have reportedly been killed in fires started by UK soldiers in Kenya, prompting an investigation by the British Army. Officials confirmed the probe last night as the most recent of the fires continued to rage over 8,000 acres of the Lolldaiga training area. Daily Mail 

Africa's Latest Economic Outlook  

Light at the end of the tunnel for Africa’s economic recovery. Real GDP is projected to grow by 3.4% in 2021 after contracting by an estimated 2.1% in 2020, mainly due to COVID-19 related disruptions, according to the African Development Bank’s recently released
African Economic Outlook (AEO). 

Over 90% of Rwandese financially included

The number of Rwandese adults who have access to financial services increased between 2016 and 2020, largely driven by the rise in informal savings groups as well as the rise in mobile money services.  New York Times 

Forbes Africa Names Top 10 Richest African Artists

Forbes Africa has released its list of richest African musicians. The list is based on various factors that include among others, endorsement value, popularity, show rates, sales, awards and YouTube views. 

How avocado farming is helping Tanzanian communities flourish

Africado uses about 65l of water to produce one kilo of avocados – far less than the global estimate of 283l of water needed to produce a kilo of avocados (Africado).  Learn more about Tanzania’s Avocado. 

Senegalese artist Omar Ba tackles politics and the pandemic with paint

Internationally-celebrated Senegalese artist Omar Ba is working on a new series of paintings that promises to combine politics and the COVID-19 crisis.  

‘It's radical’: the Ugandan city built on solar, shea butter and people power

Ojok Okello is transforming his destroyed village into a green town where social enterprises responsibly harness the shea tree. Okere City began in January 2019. The 200 hectares (500 acres) feature a school, a health clinic, a village bank and a community hall that also serves as a cinema, a church and a pub. Electricity is available to all, generated from solar energy.


The Covid-19 pandemic has created Africa’s next big investment opportunity

The number of health tech startups that have been funded in recent years has increased drastically, and so has the amount of funding. Capital for health tech startups increased by 257.5% from 2019 to 2020, according to a report by Disrupt Africa. Quartz Africa

Strive Masiyiwa’s group plans to deploy a 4000km network in DRC

After laying 2,500 km of optical fibre in the western DRC, Liquid Intelligent Technologies, a subsidiary of the Zimbabwean group Econet Wireless, plans to deploy a new 4,000km network between the central-southern area and the east of the 

What’s the Latest Economic Research on Africa? A Round-up of Nearly One Hundred Studies from CSAE 2021

The countries most heavily represented are Kenya (8 papers), Uganda (7), Ghana (5), and Tanzania (5), Ethiopia (4), Nigeria (4), Mozambique (3), Rwanda (3), and South Africa (3). CGDEV 

Microsoft looks to Africa for sourcing largest amounts of data 
Brad Smith, the head of Microsoft, thinks the African continent could be producing “the largest amounts of data in the world” in the next 20 years. There are two things that determine how much data a country produces, Smith says: 1) the size of its population; and 2) the number of digital devices inside its borders. 

Kenya orders closure of two refugee camps, gives ultimatum to UN agency

The Kenyan government has given the UN Refugee Agency two weeks to come up with a plan for the permanent closure of the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps, home to more than 400,000 displaced people. Reuters  


New IUCN Red List Released 

The news for sharks and rays are VERY BAD‼️ As latest findings show, 36% of sharks and rays are now threatened with extinction, with overfishing as the single largest threat responsible for this alarming trend. 

Sir David Attenborough Backs New Tech That Can Recycle All Plastics

Wildlife filmmaker Sir David Attenborough has appeared in a video campaign for a new plastic recycling technology in the U.K., alongside other naturalists calling for stronger protections for the world’s oceans. 

Record weights of Ivory seizures in pre-pandemic data remains of concern

The most recent seizure data from the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) shows that despite reporting gaps, there was a marked increase in the total weight of ivory seized during 2019 compared to the previous three years. The year 2019 saw three of the largest weight seizures ever recorded by the monitoring system. CITES 

How rescheduling Debt for Climate and Nature goals could unlock a Sustainable Recovery

UN Economic Commission for Africa, for instance, is working on ways of providing immediate debt relief and liquidity while developing a medium-term green investment strategy.

WWF appoints  Ombudsperson in a first for Conservation sector

WWF has appointed distinguished human rights lawyer and international mediator, Gina Barbieri, as Ombudsperson for the global conservation network, the first role of such a kind for the nature conservation sector. WWF 

Cargo Ship still stuck across Suez Canal- holding up $9.6bn of goods a day 

Last week, a single ship — admittedly one almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall — caused ripple effects around the world when it blocked the southern entrance to the canal after running aground. Crude oil prices have jumped, tankers and container ships are backed up. Financial Times

World's biggest Coal company bets on Solar Power

Coal India Limited (CIL) plans to invest in a 3,000 megawatt solar energy project in a joint venture with state-run NLC India. BBC 

UN Chief warns of coming Debt Crisis for Developing World

Guterres said the fact that only six countries had defaulted on their foreign debts last year — Argentina, Belize, Ecuador, Lebanon, Suriname and Zambia — had created the “illusion” of stability and a “misperception of the seriousness of the situation”. Financial Times.

President Biden Invites 40 World Leaders to Leaders Summit on Climate 

The Summit will reconvene the U.S.-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which brings together 17 countries responsible for approximately 80 percent of global emissions and global GDP. White House  

Nature-based Solutions for Adaptation are underfunded - but offer big Benefits 

New research finds that as little as 1.5% of all public international climate finance has gone to support nature-based solutions for adaptation in developing countries.
REDD+ Digest

Experts Urge World Leaders to 'Put Marine Ecosystems at the Heart of Climate Policy'

Led by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) and backed by 66 partner groups, the letter (pdf) calling on world leaders to “put marine ecosystems at the heart of climate policy” is now open to public signature and will be presented to governments before November's United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. 

Once nearly extinct, American bald eagle populations have quadrupled in last decade

Populations of American bald eagles, once on the brink of extinction, have pleasantly surprised experts — quadrupling in size since 2009. 

Transatlantic flights are about to get a little bit greener. 

Scientists found smart new flight paths to take advantage of prevailing winds that could save 200km worth of jet fuel on every 

UN-Habitat and UNEP jointly launch a new project “Connecting People, Cities and the Ocean''. 

The programme aims to harness important coastal and marine resources to achieve a sustainable blue economy and bring jobs to over 3,000 youth and women.

Octopuses may be able to Dream and change Color when sleeping. 

Octopuses change color when they sleep, and it might be because they are dreaming. Sidarta Ribeiro at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Natal, Brazil, and his colleagues have found that octopuses go through two distinct stages of sleep – active and passive.

Thriving population of Endangered Monkeys gives hope to Conservationists. 

Fewer than 300 Delacour’s langurs (Trachypithecus delacouri) remain today. Most of the world’s remaining Delacour’s langurs live in Van Long Nature Reserve in Vietnam. Efforts to conserve them are showing positive outcomes. 

Unrelated adoptions by Bonobos may point to altruistic traits, study says.

While the researchers do not know why these Bonobos chose to adopt unrelated infants in the Congo, they speculate that it could be to strengthen current and future alliances within their own groups as well as with other social

Could the Amazon become Ground Zero for the World’s next Pandemic? 

If deforestation continues to accelerate, the Amazon could be at risk of becoming ground zero for the world’s next pandemic, according to a study published last week.

New picture of famous Black Hole reveals its swirling Magnetic Field. 

“It was not a lot of information about the actual physics of the gas around the black hole,” says Sara Issaoun, an EHT team member at Radboud University in the Netherlands. “Looking at it in polarised light told us information about the magnetic field of the black hole.” 

Three-Quarters of Travellers are choosing destinations based on sustainability compliance has released its 2020 Sustainability Report, sharing market intelligence that 80% of travellers think sustainable travel is important, and 70% are more likely to choose an accommodation if it has implemented sustainable practices. 

                                     World Water Day

This year's World Water Day coincides with WWF signing agreements with four global WASH organizations (CARE, IRC-WASH, WaterAid & to boost One Health in Africa by collaborating on programmes that link water & sanitation with freshwater conservation under our Blue Heart of Africa initiative

WWF published Tackling growing water risks in the food sector with EDEKA, Germany's biggest retailer, which is now making the use of its version of WWF's Water Risk Filter mandatory for all new fruit & vegetable suppliers - expected to include 700 suppliers & 30,000 producers worldwide.

Stuart Orr of WWF wrote an oped in Environmental Finance with the President of Sustainable Waters & spoke during the UN General Assembly High Level Event on water.
What We Are Reading 
Battling misinformation wars in Africa: applying lessons from GMOs to COVID-19. 
A new environmental education site for kids. Mongabay 
World Development Report 2021: Data for Better Lives. 
New UN report shows Indigenous Peoples are key Guardians of the forests. FAO 
20 Staggering E-Waste Facts in 2021. 
A scathing critique of Paul Kagame’s government.
The Blue Economy is an Ocean of opportunity to advance Gender Equality. UNctad.orag 
Octopuses may be able to dream and change colour when sleeping. 
What We Are Watching
Why are women so important in marine conservation? Find out how women in coastal conservancies are advancing conservation and protecting the health of the ocean for the benefit of their communities.
Graphic of The Week
     Global Hunger Report
30 March 2021. 09:00 AM – 05:00 PM. 2021 Global Science Gathering. Register here:

30 March 2021. Renewable Energy in Africa and Brazil. Register here

21 April 2021. 10 AM PDT: Earth Day Virtual Summit. Register here: Register Here   

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Copyright © *| Africa Weekly Digest- 21 February 2021

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