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    Dear Colleagues,  

Welcome to the Nineteenth Edition of our Africa Weekly Digest - A round-up of the news, stories and publications that captured our hearts and minds this past week. This digest is “Made in Africa and Globally curious”.    

Happy reading and we look forward to your feedback.    
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Chameleon Last seen 100 years ago Rediscovered in Madagascar. Scientists from Madagascar and Germany have discovered several living specimens of Voeltzkow’s chameleon during an expedition to the north-west of the African island nation. This elusive chameleon species was last spotted in Madagascar 100 years ago. Unfortunately, the scientists believe that the Voeltzkow’s chameleons’ habitat is under threat from deforestation. (The Guardian). 

 One of the Voeltzkow’s chameleons spotted in Madagascar. Photograph: Frank Glaw/AP


Rethinking Mangrove Restoration in Africa: Previous mangrove restoration projects in Africa have proved unsustainable over the long term due to a focus on planting “in the wrong place, the wrong species, the wrong density.”A new approach, called ecological mangrove restoration (EMR) championed by Wetlands International is said to be resulting in better survival rates, faster growth, and a more diverse, resilient forest.  The  Mangrove Capital Africa initiative is restoring large mangrove deltas across that continent, including the Rufiji Delta in Tanzania, and Senegal’s Saloum Delta, the largest mangrove deltas in East and West Africa, respectively. Hundreds of thousands of people depend directly on these forests for resources such as building materials, fish and oysters, and firewood. (Mongabay).


African Agency in Mineral Resource Governance: Africa accounts for around 30 percent of the world's mineral resources but attracts only around 15 percent of global exploration spend. For many international mining companies and investors, ‘African agency’ is often synonymous with state intervention, resource nationalism, and risk amid unquestionable opportunity. To change this perception, and to support the rejuvenation of the industry across the continent, there is an urgent need for open and collaborative dialogue between government and industry that goes beyond revenue management. Mining is often seen as a ‘zero-sum’ competition between citizens and international mining companies, so bridging this gap requires a new collaborative approach to creating value and delivering ‘benefit’. This includes Extractive Companies embracing regional diversity and African voices at board level: Women only occupy 8 percent of board seats in the top 100 mining companies. For companies with a diverse footprint, knowledge of regional socio-cultural norms and politics is an essential attribute of the board. The increasing importance of environment, social and governance (ESG) criteria set by socially-conscious investors requires a deeper appreciation of socio-cultural dynamics and strategies that recognize environmental factors. Having a diversity of voices involved in decision-making and reflected in board composition is an important step towards achieving this. beyond ESG criteria. (Chatham House). 


Botswana’s Solution to its Large Elephant Population: Botswana’s 135,000 elephants mostly live in a 520,000 square kilometer (201,000 square-mile) area known as the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, which spans five countries and is home to almost half of the world’s African elephants. 


Now, elephants are beginning to migrate into neighboring Angola and the governments of both countries are helping them do so by removing land mines leftover from Angola’s civil war and tearing down fences. For more information on this story check out Bloomberg.


Youth entrepreneurs in Cameroon are turning waste plastic bottles into boats for fishermen. Madiba & Nature is helping to solve this problem by building affordable 'ecoboats' from recycled plastic, also helping rid the beaches of plastic waste.  So far, 50 eco-boats are being used by 150 fishermen and tourist guides. (The Guardian). The organisation empowers coastal communities to collect waste through beach clean-up activities, and now the strategy is to expand via the use of 'ecobins', allowing for the installation of the first selective sorting of plastic waste on beaches in an area of Douala in Cameroon.  The Alliance to End Plastic Waste, founded in 2020 by 50 industry titans, committed to investing $1.5 billion in creating solutions to improve methods for collecting plastic waste and recycling into new products. So far, it has launched 14 projects, many in Southeast Asia and Africa. (The World Economic Forum). 


From Paper to Pixels - Technology is helping unlock the secrets of Congo’s forests. The Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART), an open-source, data management software system, designed for protected area managers, is being increasingly adopted by national governments with the support of enforcing its forest restoration policies. For example, in the Republic of Congo, 16 mining permits were recently cancelled by the government after the Republic of Congo Forest Atlas helped reveal that they overlapped with Odzala-Kokoua National Park and a logging concession. (Carpeincongobasin.atavist.com). 


Can Africa Balance the Energy Triangle? Only about half of the people in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have access to electricity; only one third have access to clean cooking methods, and 13 countries in SSA have less than 25% access to electricity. ( OECD ). With the COVID-19 impact exacerbating these challenges, how can Africa balance the 'energy triangle' namely, addressing the challenges of economic development and growth, energy security and access, and environmental sustainability – all at the same time. Safe and healthy cooking remains a major challenge and the amount of unpaid time it takes (mostly women) to collect biomass fuel, but also for cooking itself, is a typical blindspot, reducing household productivity and increasing health risks. Waste to energy (WtE) and LPG have been proposed as safe, quick, and affordable functional equivalents of biomass for meeting household energy needs in order to accelerate energy access in SSA, where energy consumption is largely driven by traditional uses such as biomass for cooking, which constitutes 80% of residential consumption. (World Economic Forum ). There is also talk of Green Hydrogen as a potential Key to a Carbon-Free Economy, with EU’s $550-billion clean energy plan have included funds for the new green hydrogen to achieve its climate ambitions. This might be an important food-for-thought for Africa as the continent expands the funding portfolio of the Africa Renewable Energy Fund (AREF). (Yale Environment 360).  


African Cities Research Consortium established: The consortium, which is bringing together engaged partners including the UK-based IIED, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, and ODI, African-based groups such as ICLEI Africa, will generate evidence to catalyze integrated, sustainable, inclusive approaches to urban development in 13 Africa countries. The initial interventions in 13 countries will allow for more focused, interconnected research that delivers real insights for local authorities, civil society, and donors. Many problems constraining growth and development in any city are interlinked, with common political economy factors that undermine reform efforts. The Consortium will support local authorities in Africa to move beyond the sectoral silos of research and interventions by treating each city as a complex system.  This is particularly important for Africa where the urban population is expected to nearly triple by 2050 to 1.34 billion.  (United Nations University). 


The Elephants are returning to Nki National Park in Cameroon. Camera-trap images from a new forest clearing being monitored in Nki National Park for large mammal activities, show huge prospects of elephant concentration in the park. Up to 14 individual elephants were captured in the camera trap images in April 2020, the largest number captured in Nki in over a decade. This good news follows a statement by the Cameroon government to place all categories of Elephants and Pangolins under Class A: (WWF Cameroon)


Strengthening Community Livelihoods in the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA). WWF in Nambia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe with support from the European Union are working together to promote long-term ecosystem management and livelihood approaches in KAZA through sustainable agriculture and the effective participation of communities in anti-poaching efforts. The Silowana complex – which has high poaching pressure is a buffer zone of Sioma Ngwezi National Park (SNNP) in Zambia and the Chizarira complex in Zimbabwe and the Lake Liambezi area in Namibia.  So far, 3,272 small-scale farmers in the Silowana complex have adopted conservation agriculture with the objective of increasing crop productivity that will address food security, income generation, soil fertility improvement, and mitigate human-wildlife conflicts. (WWF). 


 
WHAT WE ARE READING
 
Unregulated Fishing in the Indian Ocean is putting Food Security and Ocean Health at Risk.  A new report from WWF and Trygg Mat Tracking (TMT) shows for the first time exactly when, where, and how unregulated fishing is happening in the Indian Ocean, its impacts on threatened species, and how far it is expanding.  Squid fishing in one unregulated area grew by 830% in just five years, while species such as shark have no regulatory frameworks for monitoring and protection (WWF ). 
 
Climate change appears to be disrupting the yield of fruit trees, a critical food source for many large mammals in Central Africa. The rainforest of Lopé National Park in central Gabon is one of the last safe havens for the endangered forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis). But in a  new study in Science, researchers warn that elephants and other keystone species in the park, such as western lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, and mandrills, could be facing famine. (Science Magazine ).

World’s Women 2020: reveals that women’s job market participation stagnated at less than 50% for the past 25 years. Unpaid domestic and care work falls disproportionately on women, restraining their economic potential as the COVID-19 pandemic additionally affects women’s jobs and livelihoods. The report analyses gender equality in six critical areas: population and families; health; education; economic empowerment and asset ownership; power and decision-making; and violence against women and the girl child as well as the impact of COVID-19. Access all data on this interactive panel at United Nation Division for Economic and Social Affairs. (The World’s Women 2020: Trends and Statistics).

New genetics research reveals how Africans could be protected from diseases and viruses.  New Research led by Wits University’s reveals complex patterns of ancestral mixing within and between African populations, and genomes that might be helping Africans fight off disease; (Independent Media). 

Anchoring Loss and Damage in Enhanced NDCs. Anchoring loss and damage in NDCs provides the necessary attention to deliver policies and measures that drive climate actions at the national level to safeguard people and nature and to achieve the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement. Loss and damage and the impacts are projected to increase in the near and long-term (for example, drought in sub-Saharan Africa). This WWF Guide shows how in the revised NDCs, countries can describe the actual and specific losses and damages already being experienced - including a gender-differentiated perspective in order to design and support targeted solutions. ( WWF).

Fifty Years of Broken Promises  The $5.7 trillion debt owed to the poorest people: This new report published by Oxfam warns that the economic fallout of COVID-19 will increase the need for aid but will further undermine aid spending, and make it harder for poor countries to mobilize revenue from other sources. Yet just 28 percent of the $10.19 billion the UN requested to help poor countries tackle the crisis has been pledged to date. (Oxfarm )

Regional Outlook on Gender and Agrifood Systems in Africa. African women are the backbone of their households, communities, and rural economies covering important roles in food production, processing and marketing, and also in the nutrition of the family. However, they continue to face multiple challenges due to persisting gender discrimination despite remarkable political commitments to improve women’s condition and status. This report outlines what needs to be done to overcome these challenges including addressing the root causes of gender inequalities through innovative and gender-transformative approaches Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Global food system emissions could preclude achieving the 1.5° and 2°C climate change targets: New report published in Science shows that even if fossil fuel emissions were eliminated immediately, emissions from the global food system alone would make it impossible to limit warming to 1.5°C and difficult even to realize the 2°C target. Thus, major changes in how food is produced are needed if we want to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement (Science Magazine).

Global Impunity Index 2020 lists Africa as one of the toughest regions in the world to do journalism. The situation in Somalia, which tops the list, is described in another report by the African Freedom of Expression Exchange as "deplorable". The 2020 rights tracker survey by the Human Rights Measurement Initiative named Angola, DR Congo, Liberia, and Mozambique among countries where journalists were at extra risk. Committee to Protect Journalists; Global Impunity Index 2020

Mining Pollution in Zambia: Kabwe is one of the most polluted places on Earth as a result of the long history of lead and zinc mining centered around the now-closed Broken Hill Mine. A first of its kind report on the clinical outcomes of individuals affected by multiple metal exposure in Africa shows significant correlations between blood metal levels and clinical parameters especially for adult participants, indicating potential adverse health effects due to metal exposure in Kabwe. (Business & Human Rights Resource Centre).


FIGURE OF THE WEEK
The post-pandemic road to economic recovery in Africa.

Not only were the most developed economies of sub-Saharan Africa hit hardest by the effects of the pandemic, but that the pandemic also weakened the ability of these economies to stabilize prices and exchange rates. The data reveal widespread currency depreciation and reduction in reserves in the countries analyzed.  For example, resource-intensive countries Nigeria and Zambia and tourism-dependent Seychelles witnessed sharp reductions in their reserves and currency depreciation (Nigeria’s peg has been devalued multiple times). Low-income countries like Liberia, Gambia, and Uganda did not experience large drops in the EMPI. Find out more here: Brookings.

The figure above shows changes in fiscal balance 2019-20, select countries of sub-Saharan Africa. Source: Brookings.


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