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12 April 2021


We hope you enjoyed your Easter holidays. 

Missed us last week? Never mind, as promised here is a Double Issue of the Africa Weekly Digest covering news, stories, and publications that excited us  in the past two weeks. 

Top stories in this edition include A New Chameleon in Ethiopia, A New Google Map feature showing greener routes, 
 IMF/WB spring meetings, Mourning a Patron of WWFand many more.

Happy reading and looking forward to your feedback.

This newsletter is made in Africa and globally curious!
Mourning HRH, Prince Philip- Patron of WWF

WWF is deeply saddened by the passing of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. HRH Prince Philip was a powerful visionary and advocate for the natural world. He was with WWF at its founding in 1961 and remained our UK President for over 20 years before becoming our international President, and later our global President Emeritus. We are enormously proud of what he did for WWF and hugely grateful for his lifelong contribution to our work.

Spiny new Chameleon Species described from Bale Mountains of Ethiopia

The conservation status of the new chameleon is unknown, but due to its small distribution range and human-caused habitat disturbance and agriculture in the area, it is likely that it will be classified as threatened. 

‘Sacred forests’ in West Africa capture carbon and keep soil healthy

In parts of West Africa, patches of forest have been preserved for long periods of time because of their cultural or religious significance. These “sacred forests” are believed to be inhabited and protected by gods, totem animals or ancestors.

The latest Global Gender Gap Report report by World Economic Forum 

Namibia and Rwanda are among the top 10 in closing the gender gapTogo is among the five most improved countries in the overall index this year having narrowed their gender gaps by at least 4.4 percentage points or more.
Togo & Cote DIvoire also among the four countries that have managed to close their Economic Participation and Opportunity gap by at least 10 full percentage points in one year.  According to the report, it will take a whopping 121 years for Sub-Saharan Africa to close the gap!

African Agriculture is ready for a Digital Revolution

In an editorial published by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Akinwumi Adesina and Patrick Verkooijen explain that Africa’s food systems must become more resilient to future shocks like droughts, disease and floods. Food production must increase sustainably and counties must reduce their reliance on food imports. They believe that mobile phone and smartphone ownership in Sub-Saharan Africa could hold the key to strengthening the agriculture sector and reducing poverty. 

Poaching wiping out Elephants, says Scientists 

Demand for elephant ivory to satisfy the global wildlife trade coupled with continued loss of habitat have been cited as a major reason for declining populations of the two species of African elephants.  Read more.


Africa's Electric Motorbike Pioneer Seizes Silicon Valley Funds

 East Africa’s motorbike taxis are a step closer to mass electrification following a $3.5 million investment from Silicon Valley. Ampersand, a Rwandan startup that claims to be the continent’s first electric motorbike company, secured the money from Ecosystem Integrity Fund, a San Francisco-based venture capital fund. Bloomberg 
The African Development Bank Group Mobilises $876 million in Climate Investment Fund

The African Development Bank has mobilized $876 million in CIF investments, which has in turn leveraged an additional $12.8 billion in co-financing from a wide array of official and private co-financiers. As an implementing entity of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), the African Development Bank supported the development of 39 investment plans across 27 African countries with the objective of unlocking climate action. African Development Bank Group

Ghana joins Ecuador and Germany to Tackle Plastic Pollution 

WWF welcomes the commitment from the governments of Ecuador, Germany and Ghana to champion the development of a global treaty to stop ocean plastic pollution. The three governments have agreed to organize a global ministerial conference on plastic pollution later this year, an important opportunity to make progress. A global treaty has already received the backing of about 70 governments, 50 businesses and more than 2 million people. And you too can join the calls for the global action we so desperately need. WWF.

Zambia turns to Nature to Tackle Climate Change

 The government of Zambia has launched a new $6 million initiative to use nature to adapt to climate change. The project is part of a wider attempt in the country to improve the livelihoods of rural communities by restoring damaged ecosystems. UNEP.

Race for Covid vaccines in Africa is hiding the key role of nutrition

Akinwumi Adesina has urged that when world leaders meet at the UN Food Systems summit this year, nutrition and health need to be recognised as central to both the food transformation agenda and to managing Covid-19. Financial Times

Spoken poetry finds fans in eastern Congo

Marc Smith, an ex-builder, held the world’s first ever slam poetry event in Chicago in the 1980s. Three decades later slam inspires more than 100 young people in embattled eastern Congo. The spoken-word poetry is designed to pull rhymes out of books, making them lively and accessible. Economist 

Mona Eltahawy on Nawal El Saadawi’s legacy amongst ‘feminist giants’

Mona Eltahawy on Nawal El Saadawi’s legacy amongst ‘feminist giants’. When Nawal El Saadawi, a pioneering Egyptian feminist and writer, died at the end of March she left behind an extensive body of work including novels, essays, autobiographies and talks. Her frank and uncompromising activism for women's political and sexual rights inspired generations. But it also earned her enemies and she was subjected to death threats and imprisonment. BBC.

Uganda, Tanzania, oil firms sign accords to build $3.5 billion pipeline
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Tanzania’s new leader Samia Suluhu Hassan, on her first official visit, attended the signing of the three accords that included: a host government agreement for the pipeline, a tariff and transportation agreement and a shareholding agreement. Reuters

Why a Water Crisis in Cameroon is disproportionately affecting women

In the Mayo Tsanaga River Basin area in Cameroon’s Far North region, teeth-whitening agents are often in high demand to mitigate the impacts of dental fluorosis. More than 500,000 people there are exposed to this disorder, which can cause irreversible damage to teeth — ranging from permanent discoloration to skeletal deformation. Devex


Brands Back Call for Moratorium on Deep Seabed Mining

Four leading global companies have announced their support for a global moratorium on deep-seabed mining. Initiated by BMW Group and WWF, and signed by Samsung SDI, Google and Volvo Group, the companies join the increasing chorus of concern about the significant risks to economies and to ocean health that would arise from opening up the deep seabed to extraction of minerals. WWF.
Experts call for plan to protect deep-sea life from mining - MINING.COM

Poaching and Illegal trade in Sturgeon pose major threat to Critically Endangered Species in Europe

With all but one of Europe’s remaining sturgeon species facing extinction, a new report details the scale of the poaching and illegal trade in wild sturgeon caviar and meat in the lower Danube and the Black Sea, which threatens the survival of these iconic fish. WWF’s new market survey 

Only 6.5% of Global Forests adequately protected

According to the study, 15.7% of global forests are designated as protected, but after adjusting for PA effectiveness, they found that only 6.5% of forests are adequately protected. This number is a far cry from the Aichi Convention on Biological Diversity’s 2020 target of 17%. Mongabay

Google Maps to show greener and ‘cleaner’ routes

The new feature will direct drivers to routes estimated to release fewer carbon dioxide emissions.
Where Did National Forests Go? Green Spaces Disappear From Google Maps :  All Tech Considered : NPR

Atomic Superyacht to Offer $3 Million Eco-Tours With Scientists

A nuclear-powered ship full of scientists, activists and billionaires, sailing the world and examining the state of the oceans. That’s the dream of entrepreneur Aaron Olivera, who believes the novel vessel will help raise environmental awareness. Bloomberg

UN Launches Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability

In support of the UN Secretary-General’s Roadmap on Digital Cooperation, the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, the International Science Council, the German Environment Agency, the Government of Kenya, Future Earth, and Sustainability in the Digital Age have joined forces to act as co-champions for a new global initiative called CODES (Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability.

Portugal must be a European leader in the protection of Sharks and Rays

Portugalis in 3rd place among the European countries that capture the most sharks and rays, behind Spain and France, with almost half of its species under threat. ANP|WWF urges the Portuguese government to create a National Action Plan for the management and conservation of sharks and rays, which would place Portugal in the European leadership for the protection of these species. WWF

New Partnership on Restoration

WWF has a partnership with RESTOR, a new, free and open data platform of scientific ecological insights for the global restoration community. RESTOR was born out of a collaboration between the Crowther Lab (ETH Zurich University) and Google and is designed to bring transparency and knowledge sharing to support restoration and conservation activities globally.

To Stop the Next Pandemic, Curb the Trade in Wild Animals 

According to one estimate, only 1% of the viruses in existence are known. Unless more is done to break the chain of zoonotic transmission, the world might one day be struck by a pandemic far deadlier than Covid-19. Bloomberg.
$1 Trillion Earmarked for Environmental Business by 2030

Bank of America said it would earmark $1trn for environmental business by 2030, building on the $300bn already promised for green projects. The money will go towards lending to, raising capital for, advising and investing in sustainable businesses. In February the bank said it would aim for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. 
8 Billion Content Creators launched 

WWF are co-founders of a new open-source platform - 8 Billion - an online community of those who want to celebrate our connection to the natural world (think YouTube for nature). 8 Billion is a way for WWF to really show our commitment to inclusive storytelling, by giving others a platform to share their own stories in their own way. More info here.

This is Environmental Racism

For decades, heavy industry in the US has tended to cluster in Black and Latino neighborhoods labeled undesirable by white government planners. For the Washington Post, Darryl Fears and Brady Dennis examine the lingering effects of these policies.

Beehive deliveries keep New Yorkers buzzing on rooftops, backyards

Bustling New York City may not seem a bee-friendly place, but its high-rise rooftops and tiny gardens are buzzing with honeymakers threatened by pesticides in rural areas. Reuters 

News — New York City Beekeepers Association

Average Westerner's eating habits lead to loss of four trees every year

Consumption in G7 states accounts for an average loss of four trees a year per person, the research says; the US is above average with five trees being lost per capita. In five G7 countries – the UK, Japan, Germany, France, and Italy – more than 90% of their deforestation footprint was in foreign countries and half of this was in tropical nation.
IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings

The G-20 and IMF’s International Monetary and Financial Committee supported a new $650 billion issuance of Special Drawing Rights, paving the road for IMF to present details of such an issuance and a program for high-income countries to transfer their SDRs to lower-income countries in July. A new issuance is not likely until August.  Low-income countries will get about $21 billion worth of SDRs, which could almost double their health budgets, Oxfam’s Nadia Daar told Devex. 

Vera Songwe, executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, called for transferring SDRs and using them to reduce the cost of borrowing for African nations. The World Bank has also released a New Climate Action Plan.

An IMF tilt to Africa

No one is rushing to reclaim the term, but the signs are that there is a new ‘Washington consensus’. Member states of the IMF are set to approve a $650bn issue of its Special Drawing Rights reserve currency. The Africa Report

World Health Day 

Working Together on Water is Key to a Healthier Africa

WWF and, WaterAid, IRC-WASH and CARE have joined hands  to bring a One Health pillar to WWF’s Blue Heart of Africa Initiative. The Blue Heart of Africa seeks to ensure that Africa’s freshwater resources are effectively managed and conserved to sustain locally and globally important ecosystems, biodiversity and provide a foundation for sustainable development and secure livelihood. WWF
Tackling Misinformation: Educating the continent on Coronavirus using Technology

There is a pressing need for reliable information about COVID-19 in Africa. To meet this challenge Africa CDC has partnered with CcHub to coordinate continent-wide development and dissemination of vetted and culturally sensitive information materials.
New Africa Magazine.
Expanding Africa's Vaccine Manufacturing 

Africa will meet today for a two-day high level Virtual Conference to discuss the Development and Manufacture of its own Vaccines. You won't want to miss the discussions, register now at

No alt text provided for this image

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the fragility of our way of life and the challenges and opportunities for nature conservation, food security, energy supply and health care are more apparent than ever. 
The #Connect2Earth​ Global Health Talks - Ep. 1 looks at Preventing pandemics with global nature protection. 
100 Young Conservation Leaders Announced 

100 youth from 23 countries in Africa have been recognised as the top youth leaders in conservation in the continent. The exceptional top 100 young leaders are advocating and creating a huge positive impact in sustainable agriculture & food security, forest and land restoration, ocean protection, wildlife conservation, waste management, clean energy access and research, education and awareness. This list is the result of a collaboration between the Africa Alliance of YMCAs, World Organization of the Scout Movement, African Wildlife Foundation and WWF to empower young Africans in leading the way to ensure nature and people thrive for generations to come. 

What We Are Reading 

The Charcoal Grey Market in Kenya, Uganda, and South Sudan.

Introducing a major source of renewable energy in Senegal. DFC
The New Development Bank: Few member countries, lots of project finan
cing. Devex
Tackling the data gap in the fight against illicit financial flows. UNCTAD  
Spotlight on State of the Planet. 
WWF Zimbabwe  
COVID 19 and sustainable tourism: Information resources and links. 
Are Kenyan Conservancies a Trojan Horse for Land Grabs?
New Global Tracker to Measure Pandemic’s Impact on Education Worldwide.
What We Are Watching 
Kavango Oil: Where do we stand? Public debate prompted by exploration for oil and gas in Kavango by ReconAfrica. Organised by Namibian Environment and Wildlife Society (NEWS) and Environmental
Graphic of The Week
Tree cover loss rose in both the tropics and temperate regions, but the rate of increase in loss was greatest in primary tropical forests, led by rising deforestation and incidence of fire in the Amazon, Earth’s largest rainforest. Mongabay.
UPCOMING EVENT: The Road to COP15. Register  

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