Mozambique Strives for Quality Education


The government in Maputo, Mozambique, has promised to enforce bans on cell phones for students in the classroom. Citing distraction and cheating as main reasons, the city of Maputo has promised to enforce these bans, only allowing students to enter classrooms if their phones are turned off and safely stowed away.

Maputo’s commitment to education has been reaffirmed by their promises to address additional problems inside schools as well, including complaints about alcohol use by students and issues of sexual harassment.  Some pupils present at the meeting about these issues suggested that all informal bars or places to obtain alcohol should be moved away from schools, and Maputo’s governor encouraged all those affected by sexual harassment to speak up, lest they should be considered complacent. Officials also urged students to look after their schools, discouraging graffiti or other damage to school facilities, stating that “school is our second home.”


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G8 New Alliance Initiative Favors Agro-Business

A Kenyan farmer tends newly planted trees

At the 2012 G8 Camp David Summit, President Barack Obama announced the creation of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which aims to lift 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa out of poverty in the next 10 years by supporting agricultural development ( However, a closer look at the policy implementation shows that the G8 New Alliance Initiative is excluding small-hold farmer input and favoring agribusiness.

Since the formation of the New Alliance, ten countries have made more than 200 policy commitments, largely granting agribusinesses unprecedented access to decision-makers, including easing of export controls and tax laws as well as governments giving huge chunks of land of investment.

The CEOs of companies were invited to the table with African presidents and head of donor agencies through the New Alliance Initiative, although there was no representation for the subsistence farmers. While the private sector investment is supposed to ensure food security, the companies’ plans include non-food crops, including cotton, biofuels and rubber, or other goods for export markets. Companies have refused to publicly announce their full investment plans under the New Alliance. Olivier de Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, said that governments have been making promises to investors with “no long-term view about the future of smallholder farmers.”

The chairman of Tanzania’s parliament’s public account, Zitto Kabwe, agrees. “By introducing this market, farmers will have to depend on imported seeds. This will definitely affect small farmers. It will also kill innovation at the local level. We have seen this with manufacturing,” he said. “It will be like colonialism. Farmers will not be able to farm until they import, linking farmers to [the] vulnerability of international prices. Big companies will benefit. We should not allow that.” Kabwe further argues that the tax commitments should go through parliament, not just the executive branch, as they would benefit companies rather than small farmers.

While the New Alliance has benevolent intentions to lift sub-Saharan Africa out of poverty, placing the project in the hands of private investors leaves room for error. Colin Poulton, research fellow at the center for development, environment and policy at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, told Guardian “Without a clear theory of change indicating how increased investment in large-scale agriculture will lead to poverty reduction, improved food security of nutrition, and without clear plans to ensure that large numbers of outgrowers will be engaged in the new value chains, the New Alliance is so far primarily an initiative to commercialize agriculture in Africa.”

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Offshore Oil Drilling by Shell to Begin in Namibia


Shell is set to begin drilling for oil off the coast of Namibia in the Orange Basin. For some time now there has been growing international interest in the offshore drilling of Namibia, and finally, Shell has stepped up to explore the potential Namibia has to offer. In the past, international interest in Namibia has been centered around its uranium reserves, so the focus on offshore drilling is a marked shift.

The move by Shell bodes well for Namibia. Mines and Energy minister Isak Katali stated last Monday, “The ministry of mines and energy is very excited about the interest shown by a super-major such as Shell Exploration and Production in Namibia.” Another Spanish oil and gas company, Repsol, is also set to begin drilling, perhaps as soon as before the end of this month. The transition from interest to action on the part of international oil companies could be a strong positive push towards expanding and diversifying Namibia’s economy.

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China-Cape Verde Collaboration

Cape Verdean Schoolchildren

China has begun plans to undergo major construction efforts in Cape Verde with aims to promote commercial and economic cooperation between both nations.  Prioritizing Education, China has promised to fund construction of a new University Campus and Confucious Institute in Praia.  China will also be funding the construction of a tourism school in Sal’s Island and a center for value added agricultural products in Santiago Island.  This is on top of China’s continued government backed scholarships which allow young Cape Verdean Students to attend Universities in China.  


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Honoring the Life and Legacy of Nelson Mandela

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick  Photo by Mariah Tauger

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick
Photo by Mariah Tauger

On Thursday, January 30, 2014, hundreds of people from around the Commonwealth attended a special event to honor the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela who died December 5, 2013 at the age of 95. The celebration was co-sponsored by Northeastern University’s College of Social Sciences and Humanities, the School of Law and South African Partners, a Boston-based nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering partnerships between the United States and South Africa. Prominent leaders, including Governor Deval Patrick, Representative Byron Rushing, and Reverend Nancy Taylor, Minister & CEO of Old South Church, Boston took the time to share their reflections about the inspirational leader,  anti-apartheid icon and the first democratically elected president of South Africa. The 90 minute ceremony included three inspiring performances by the Boston Children’s Chorus, video footage of Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 and a video collage of Mandela’s visit to Boston just four months after his release from 27-years of imprisonment.

During his remarks, Governor Patrick shared with the audience that, “When I think of Nelson Mandela, a giant of a leader, I keep coming back to love. You don’t hear leaders talk much about leading by love…but it might be that loving leadership is the most powerful leadership.” Rep. Rushing asked the audience, during his remarks, “Can we commemorate ourselves in this legacy of so many? Where do we fit and what do we do? Where do we struggle and what are we ready to sacrifice and to forgive in the legacy of Nelson Mandela?” Lenna Assaf, an AmeriCorps Member of City Year Boston, is an example of someone carrying on the legacy of Mandela. Ms. Assaf is a Team Leader for City Year Boston and works at Orchard Garden’s K-8 pilot school in Roxbury, MA. In her reflections, Assaf shared that, “I serve with City Year to carry on Nelson Mandela’s legacy to live his ideals and to contribute to making this world a better place for all its citizens…while Madiba may be gone, I know he lives within me.”

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Nigerian Start-up Companies Recieve Grants from Microsoft

The Microsoft "4Afrika" initiative aims to provide financial support to the next generation of African entrepreneurs.

The Microsoft “4Afrika” initiative aims to provide financial support to the next generation of African entrepreneurs.

Microsoft Corporation recently provided five African start-up companies with innovation grants in order to further entrepreneurship, development, and innovation on the continent.  Of the five companies receiving  funding, two are based in Nigeria. Save & Buy is “a web and mobile platform that enables Nigerians to save toward the purchase of items conveniently and securely through e-commerce channels.”  Gamsole is “a mobile game production company creating Windows games, with downloads topping more than 4 million.”

Microsoft’s “4Afrika” initiative, in addition to providing financial support to these young companies, aims to “place tens of millions of smart devices in the hands of African youth, bring 1 million African small and medium-sized enterprises online, upskill 100,000 members of Africa’s workforce, and help an additional 100,000 recent graduates develop skills for employability, 75 percent of whom Microsoft will help place in jobs.”

Investments in these start-ups provide opportunity to the many young innovators of Nigeria and the rest of the continent.


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Mozambique’s Political Parties Agree to Continue Dialogue


After 2013’s year of violent clashes between the Mozambique National Resistance Party (RENAMO) and the ruling Frelimo Party, resulting in dozens dead and hundreds displaced, RENAMO has agreed to negotiate for the amendment of Mozambique’s electoral parliament. The parliament, called the Assembly of the Republic, currently consists of thirteen seats, but RENAMO’s amendment calls for seventeen seats in order to more properly represent the three major Mozambican parties: RENAMO, Frelimo, and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM).  This agreement comes just after pleas from both sides for RENAMO and the Mozambican Armed Forces (FADM) to stop the aggression and negotiate peacefully. Transport Minister Gabriel Muthisse spoke about the violence, urging President Guebeza to intervene in the FADM’s retaliatory actions in order to ensure peace and stability in the region.  However, Muthisse also expressed support for the actions of the FADM, claiming that they have only been carried out in order to protect the population from ongoing RENAMO attacks.

This new agreement between RENAMO and the ruling party is a key step in the democratic process, showing the capabilities of both sides to engage in dialogue without resorting to violent means. A stable government and peaceful solutions for disagreements are especially important, as Mozambique continues to tackle issues such as the disarmament of existing land mines, which may be completed this year if the political parties can put their grievances aside for the greater good of all Mozambicans.

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Kenyatta Calls for an End to Radicalization in Religious Centers

Kenyan Police Force

Uhuru Kenyatta, the President of Kenya, has announced that all places of worship are off limits as targets for radicalizing youth.This announcement comes on the heels of the recent tragedy in Nairobi, where Islamic extremists from Somali bombed a shopping mall in the capital of Kenya, killing 67 people. Apart from this incident, which occurred in September, there have been a number of raids and violent incidents involving police and youth protesters. Kenyatta has also been focusing on the improvement and enlargement of police forces within Kenya, in an attempt to combat the growing tensions in the country.

Meanwhile, Muslim Kenyans argue that the growing divide between Muslim leaders and youths can be attributed to the police and government harassment of them. Muslim leaders have insisted that this unfair treatment has driven Muslim youths to act radically and in opposition to the law. 


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South Africa miners’ strike overshadows conference

Africa’s largest mining conference is being held in Cape Town but the annual “Mining Indaba” is being overshadowed by major strike action which is crippling the South Africa’s platinum production.

Tens of thousands of workers have downed tools demanding higher wages – but with no agreement between the unions and management in sight, the disruption is expected to continue.