Nearly 20 years ago, Oxford University-trained doctor, Chris Lavy, relocated from the UK with his family to become a professor at the University of Malawi’s College of Medicine.
As the only orthopedic surgeon among 12 million people, Professor Lavy carried out thousands of operations during his time in Malawi. Ten years ago, he opened the Beit Cure International Hospital, which specializes in hip and knee replacement surgery, one of the very few places where this surgery is available in sub-Saharan Africa. This has brought about increased survival rates, especially for children, from serious injuries and road traffic accidents.
In addition to his fundamental work at the hospital, Levy has worked with a Christian medical charity to set up a training program for orthopedic paramedics, and established the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA).
Professor Levy’s interest in Malawi and sub-Saharan Africa has generated great progress in the region, and will stand as a beacon of success for other doctors and professionals from all across the world to lend their efforts to the cause.
After a series of bad investment experiences with Chinese firms Botswana’s president, Ian Khama, has stated that his country may no longer award government contracts to the fast-rising economic powerhouse. At the very least, Gaborone will be much more selective in granting infrastructure projects, especially those on which Chinese companies have placed bids.
Botswana’s harsh criticism of what it believes to be China’s sub-standard building practices is notable, given Chinese investor’s rapidly expanding presence in Africa. Additionally, this may also be viewed as an expression of growing dissatisfaction with China’s presence on the continent. Its investment activities were originally billed as a more equal partnership than what had historically been the case with the West. However, many in Africa, governments included, feel that China is more interested in access to raw materials at low prices than supporting genuine development in those countries where it maintains a presence.
Khama said that, were it not for delays and problems with Chinese-constructed power plants that we would “be totally self-sufficient if we hadn’t been let down by the Chinese.” The Chinese embassy in Gaborone did not respond to a request for a response to these recent allegations. It is important to note, though, that in 2009 when Khama became president relations with China were strong and it was involved in eighteen construction projects in the country. The future ability of Chinese investors to win contracts in Botswana will be played out in negotiations over which firms come out on top in the bidding negotiations for rights to build railways to transport Botswana’s untapped coal reserves to ports in Namibia and Mozambique.
It remains to be seen whether the criticisms Khama has voiced will become more common or whether Chinese growing economic clout will discourage other leaders from criticizing the fast-rising giant.
The wife of Ghana’s former leader, Jerry Rawlings, has been disqualified from running in the current election. Ghana’s election commission has stated that Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings’ nomination forms were not properly completed.
She had originally wanted to run on the National Democratic Congress (NDC – the party that her husband founded) party’s ticket, but was defeated in a primary election. She then helped to form a rival party, the National Democratic Party (NDP) on which to run. There had been much speculation regarding which party the former President, Rawlings would support. Mrs. Rawlings is said to be very upset about her disqualification and is not offering statements to the press. Currently, the main opposition candidate is Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party.
The government of Mozambique has been in negotiations with the company Rio Tinto about how to advance logistical infrastructure to transport mined coal from the inland to the ports. Previously, it was discussed that a type of barge project was going to go into effect, which would ship coal down the Zambezi River, but the government has concluded that the river would be unnavigable. Current talks include plans for a rail system to help transport, not only coal for Rio Tinto, but other mining companies as well.
A study published in December by scientists in Benin claims to have found a new method of detecting malaria parasites. This test focuses on polymerase chain reaction technology compared to the traditional method which uses an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test, a standard laboratory diagnostic test that uses antibodies and colour change to detect DNA molecules.
This new technique can allow for more accurate estimates of the malaria burden and transmission in different settings. This is a particularly important discovery because Africa has been plagued by malaria for decades. Aside from helping with the detection of malaria transmission, this test can also help with creating malaria vaccines. The scientists and researchers involved in the study cite it’s significance in not just Benin, but in the entire international medical field.
The Annual Erongo Regional Cultural Festival has official been declared a success, accomplishing its aim to contribute to the preservation of cultural diversity within Namibia. The festival, which was held on Tuesday October 9, 2012 under the theme of “One Namibia, One Nation”, was said to have drawn over 500 people participating in various performances.
The festival was hosted by the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture who’s mission it is “to empower and develop the youth, promote sport, arts and culture through the efficient and effective provision of services.”
A participant of the festival performing a dance
The performers were subdivided into four groups, with The Kufamosha Pioneers from Walvis Bay winning the lower primary category, the Festus Gonteb Primary School won the upper primary and the Dibasen Junior Secondary School at Okohombahe won the junior category.
The Kubasen Cultural group of Arandis Senior Secondary School won the senior category and The Kufamosha Cultural Group of Walvis Bay won the adult category.
Apart from winning N$ 1200 the winners will be performing at the National Cultural Festival.
Chinese and Mauritian Relations to Grow Further following this Agreement
Following a $19 million agreement signed by both China and Mauritius, China will build health facilities in the small island nation, focusing mostly on “the construction of a new Operation Theatre and Wards Block over an area of about 90,000 square feet at the Victoria Hospital in Candos, in central Mauritius”. The project will be “in the form of design, construction and provision of furniture and medical equipment, including laryngoscope sets, electrical and orthopaedic operating tables, ICU beds and Fowlers beds, among others”.
The health Minister of Mauritius has said that the best way to “provide quality, accessible and efficient health care to the population” is to seek out “the best partners in the world”. His words ring true as China remains as one of the country’s top aid donors, especially within the last 30 years.
It is apparent that Mauritius is taking steps to further modernize its health sector. Additionally, China’s growing role in its support for developing African nations will allow the world to see the impact of foreign aid, as it helps African countries in their pursuit of an increasingly modernized, and prosperous economy.
With the 2014 elections right around the corner, Malawian politicians are increasingly looking for different ways to market themselves to a broader audience. One such method they have chosen is through social media on the internet.
There are 188,900 Facebook Monthly Active Users (MAU) in Malawi, and the number is increasing by the hour. Social media penetration as a percentage of the nation’s population is 1.22%, and 56.09% in relation to the number of Internet users.
Despite the number of voters having increased since the 2009 elections, the Nyasa Times speculates that Facebook and other social media will not significantly alter the results of the 2014 election. Instead, the real mantra of influence will be from those who take their campaign “to the districts and not waste resources on Facebook agents or on phone/internet bills.”
There is still hope, however, that progressing in the internet field will have profound effects on Malawi in other ways in the coming future.
South African labor minister, Mildred Oliphant, stated that South Africa has agreed to increase the daily wage of farm workers by 52%.
After a two-week strike in January, 2013 in the Western Cape, the minimum wage is being raised from $8.00 to $12.00. The famers had demanded $17.00 claiming that with the current wages they are no longer able to support their families.
The Western Cape is home of approximately 3,000 seasonal farm workers picking and packing fruit, meaning that they do not have a guaranteed income through out the year.
Although the workers were successful in obtaining a wage increase, both employers and employees fear that the increase in wages will eventually cause job loss with the increased burden of fuel and electricity prices on the employers.
With the Kenya elections coming up shortly, the world has turned its eye on the African country to see if it will be able to remain peaceful during its election process. In 2007, ethnic violence erupted after elections, making the issue of the relationship between candidates and ethnic groups a hot topic in this year’s election process. At the center of the debate: power sharing. Is it beneficial, or does it contradict the concept of a democracy?
Regardless of one’s opinion, the process of free elections entails that candidates need to gain voters’ support. However, this has specific implications within the African continent in that politicians retreat into their “tribal cocoons”, often seeking the support of large ethnic communities while leaving the smaller tribes to feel neglected. Many feel that the ethnic rivalries undermine democracy in Africa because they enhance the cohesion and exclusivity of ethnic communities which can eventually lead to ethnic wars, as in the case of 2007.
But while many attribute the violence of 2007 to power sharing with ethnic groups, a debate still exists over whether power sharing could be used as a means of improving democracy and preventing corruption. Cyprian Nyamwamu argues that negotiated democracy, where political power is shared evenly among various ethnic and interest groups, could work to end corruption by including minority groups in the political process. In other words, it would end the “winners take all” political system.
The overall question remains, is Kenya ready for democracy? Power sharing could be a means of ending corruption or of promoting it, but significant attention needs to be on strengthening political institutions to limit those with too much power. Perhaps power sharing could improve Kenya’s democracy, but this will never be so unless minority groups are offered a voice.