NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Former U.S. President Barack Obama Monday praised Kenya’s president and opposition leader for working together but said this East African country must do more to end corruption.
Obama, on his first visit to Africa since stepping down as president, commended President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga for cooperating following last year’s disputed presidential election which were marked by violence.
“Despite some of the tumultuous times that seem to attend every election we now have a president and major opposition leader who have pledged to build bridges and have made specific commitments to work together,” said Obama, speaking in Kogelo in Siaya County, the rural birthplace of his late father.
“So what we see here in Kenya is all part of an emergence of a more confident, more self-reliant Africa. But we know real progress means addressing the problems that remain. It means rooting out corruption that weakens civic life,” he said.
Other challenges facing Kenya are tribalism and the need for better education, Obama said. Since visiting Kenya as senator in 2006 and then as president in 2015, Obama has passionately urged Kenya to tackle its endemic corruption and problems surrounding the divisions between this country’s ethnic groups. In 2006, he angered the government of President Mwai Kibaki when he gave a talk about corruption at the University of Nairobi. The government spokesman responded calling him “an inexperienced young man who could not teach Kenya how to manage its affairs.”
Obama went to Kogelo on Monday to launch a sports and training center founded by his half-sister, Auma Obama, through her foundation Sauti Kuu. Thousands of Kenyans turned up in his ancestral home of Kogelo to see Obama but many could not get into the venue due to high security.
“We wanted to appreciate Barack Obama for what he has done. In fact he has developed the community through giving iron sheets for people to build their houses,” said Boniface Rachula, a farmer from Kogelo who was turned away from the event.
Obama’s current visit to Kenya is low key, unlike his previous trips where he electrified thousands of Kenyans who lined the streets to see him. “It is a joy to be with so many people who are family to me and so many people who claim to be family to me. Everybody is a cousin,” Obama said in jest.
Later Monday he left for South Africa where he will deliver the annual Neslon Mandela lecture which this year will mark the late anti-apartheid icon’s 100th birthday.
June 14 (UPI) — A Ugandan inventor has won the Royal Academy of Engineering‘s prestigious Africa Prize for developing a method of testing for malaria without drawing blood.
Brian Gitta, 24, became the prize’s youngest winner Wednesday after he and his team developed Matibabu, or “medical center” in Swahili, the Royal Academy of Engineering said in a statement.
Gitta’s low-cost, reusable invention clips onto a patient’s finger and provides a result within 60 seconds on a mobile phone. A red beam shines through the user’s finger to detect changes in shape, color and concentration of red blood cells — all of which are affected by malaria.
“We are very proud of this year’s winner. It’s a perfect example of how engineering can unlock development — in this case by improving healthcare,” Africa Prize judge Rebecca Enonchong said. “Matibabu is simply a game-changer.”
Shafik Sekitto, a member of the Matibabu team, told BBC News Gitta came up with the idea for a bloodless test after it once took four normal blood tests for medics to diagnose him with malaria — the leading cause of death in Uganda. “[Gitta] brought up the idea: ‘Why can’t we find a new way of using the skills we have found in computer science, of diagnosing a disease without having to prick somebody?” Sekitto said.
Gitta won more than $33,000 as the first-place winner at a ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya, where Africa Prize judges and a live audience voted for the most promising engineering innovation. Three runners-up won more than $13,000 each. “We are incredibly honored to win the Africa Prize — it’s such a big achievement for us, because it means that we can better manage production in order to scale clinical trials and prove ourselves to regulators,” Gitta said.
“The recognition will help us open up partnership opportunities — which is what we need most at the moment.”
The award, founded by Britain’s Royal Academy of Engineering in 2014, is Africa’s biggest prize for engineering innovation.
Lots of the news from sub-Saharan Africa is about war, famine, poverty or political upheaval. So it’s understandable if many Americans think most Africans who immigrate to the United States are poorly educated and desperate. That’s the impression that President Trump left with his comments to members of Congress opposing admission of immigrants from “s***hole countries” in Africa and elsewhere.
But research tells another story.
While many are refugees, large numbers are beneficiaries of the “diversity visa program” aimed at boosting immigration from underrepresented nations. And on average, African immigrants are better educated that people born in the U.S. or the immigrant population as a whole.
“It’s a population that’s very diverse in its educational, economic and English proficiency profile,” said Jeanne Batalova, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute think tank in Washington and co-author of a report last year on sub-Saharan African immigrants in the U.S. “People came for a variety of reasons and at various times.”
Overall, their numbers are small compared with other immigrant groups but have risen significantly in recent years. The U.S. immigrant population from sub-Saharan Africa (49 countries with a total population of more than 1.1 billion) grew from 723,000 to more than 1.7 million between 2010 and 2015, according to a new report by New American Economy, a Washington-based research and advocacy group. Still, they make up just half a percent of the U.S. population.
Drawing from U.S. surveys and Census Bureau data, the report found that the majority come from five countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa.
The Pew Research Center reported that African immigrants are most likely to settle in the South or Northeast, and that the largest numbers — at least 100,000 — are found in Texas, New York, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Virginia. Many African refugees have also relocated to or have been resettled in states such as Minnesota and South Dakota.
The Refugee Act of 1980 made it easier for people fleeing war zones to resettle in the U.S., and today there are tens of thousand of refugees from Somalia, Sudan and Congo. About 22% of African immigrants are refugees, according to Andrew Lim, associate director of research at New American Economy.
At the same time, the diversity visa program — also known as the visa lottery — has opened the door to immigrants from more peaceful places. Of the sub-Saharan immigrants who have become legal permanent residents, 17% came through the program, compared with 5% of the total U.S. immigrant population, according to Batalova.
Applicants to the program must have completed the equivalent of a U.S. high school education or have at least two years of recent experience in any number of occupations, including accountant, computer support specialist, orthodontist and dancer. As a result, the influx includes many immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa who are highly skilled professionals.
Innovators across Africa are harnessing digital technology to develop new ways of tackling social and economic challenges. From the rise of Silicon Savannah to the launch of M-PESA, the continent has a burgeoning tech sector that is driving a social tech movement that puts people before profits. These inspirational projects are making a positive difference to people’s lives in their own communities and creating social change at a national level.
For the last four years, Nominet Trust has identified and celebrated 100 different socially-motivated startups from across the globe. In our 2016 NT100, we feature some extraordinary examples of how pioneers from across Africa are using tech for good to promote education equality, economic empowerment and access to medical care.
In Kenya, a lack of physical space at universities and the prohibitive costs of attending can be barriers to often capable students pursuing degree programmes. Daystar University in Nairobi and California startup, OneUni, partnered up to tackle this and make university education accessible to more Kenyans. Together they created Africa’s first smartphone degree programme, Daystar Mobile, where all course materials are made available through an app. They now have plans to expand the model to other African countries to reach thousands of more students, aiming to make university education more accessible across the continent.
Another venture bolstering education in Kenya is Tunapanda Institute. Approximately one-third of Kenyan children do not enrol into a high school because of financial constraints, so brothers Jay and Mick Larson created a free, open source online training programme to help bridge this digital divide. Tunapanda Institute currently delivers three-month intensive learning courses in technology, design and business, giving students access to vital skills that can act as an alternative to traditional high school diplomas. At the institute’s HQ in Nairobi, specific workshops are also held to provide girls with skills in the STEM subjects, helping address the gender gap in these fields. To date, 100 people have graduated from the programme, of whom 85 percent are in meaningful employment as a result.
After the disputed elections in Kenya in 2007, over 800 people were killed, leaving a generation of youths feeling disenfranchised. To help get to the heart of what young Kenyan’s wanted to talk about, Rob Burnet established Well Told Story, a research consultancy which is famous for creating Shujaaz, meaning ‘heroes’ in Sheng. Shujaaz is a free, international Emmy-winning comic book that now has a monthly circulation of 500,000 and a readership that Burnet estimates to be five million Kenyans aged between 10 and 25. The content is lovingly crafted by young people based in Well Told Story’s Nairobi office and offers readers tips on everything from planting maize to contraception, information about upcoming elections and careers.Enhancing daily living
In Cape Town, communities living in deprived areas are threatened by the devastation caused by house fires which can sweep through the neighbourhood. Lumkani, which means ‘beware’ in Xhosa, was created by a group of students horrified by the danger faced by less advantaged citizens in their city, to help save lives in the event of these fires. Lumkani transmits a signal to devices within a 20-metre radius so that neighbours are aware of potential danger and can mobilise help or evacuate. Since launching in 2014, Lumkani has been installed in 7,000 homes in Cape Town, and co-founders Francois Petousis and Samuel Ginsburg say that the device has already prevented the spread of what could have been five major fires.
Although 70 percent of Nairobi’s population rely on the matatus – 20,000 private vans which transport people around the capital – there’s very little information available on how to navigate this seemingly chaotic system. In 2011, researchers at MIT, Columbia University and the University of Nairobi, together with design agency Upshot, began a collaborative mapping project to make sense of the matatus system to support those travelling on it. By recruiting Kenyan students to ride the matatus and log journeys using mobile and GPS, by 2015 Digital Matatus had recorded almost 3,000 stops on more than 130 routes. Since its release, the city of Nairobi has adopted the map as the capital’s official transit guide and more than 5,000 people have downloaded it online.
Childhood friends Brian Bett and Taita Ng’etich, whose families are farmers, set out to explore better solutions to farming after their young tomato crop was destroyed by flooding. They developed a system using low-cost materials and advanced sensor technologies to monitor their crops to prevent this happening again. When neighbours started asking them to build their own greenhouses, they founded a new business: Illuminum Greenhouses. Each greenhouse is fitted with sensors that monitor temperature, humidity and soil moisture, alerting farmers to change the settings via text messages. To date, more than 750 Kenyan farmers are using Illuminum’s technology and the pair aspires to scale the innovation so it can be deployed all over Africa and Latin America.
Elisha Barno and Hellen Jepkurgat, both of Kenya, were the men’s and women’s winners Sunday of the Los Angeles Marathon. Barno, who pulled away from fellow Kenyan Daniel Limo in the final mile, crossed the finish line in Santa Monica in 2 hours, 11 minutes, 53 seconds.
Jepkurgat won the women’s race in 2:34:23, almost two minutes faster than Kenyan Jane Kibii at 2:36:14. More than 24,000 runners from 63 countries are participating in the “Stadium to the Sea” race, the fourth-largest marathon in the U.S. and 10th largest worldwide.
Halima Aden is flawlessly breaking down barriers in the pageant community: Over the weekend, the 19-year-old made history as the first contestant in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant to wear a hijab throughout the competition and a burkini during the swimsuit round. And needless to say, she looked absolutely stunning.
The Somali-American teenager, who was born in a Kenyan refugee camp and moved to America when she was just 6 years old, ultimately made it to the pageant’s semifinals Sunday. But as she told multiple sources both before and after the pageant was over, despite not winning, she hoped her participation would serve as a reminder that beauty comes in many different forms.
“A lot of people will look at you and will fail to see your beauty because you’re covered up and they’re not used to it. So growing up, I just had to work on my people skills and give people a chance to really know me besides the clothing,” she said in an interview with KARE-11. “Be who you are. It’s easy to feel like you have to blend in, but it takes courage to live your life with conviction and embrace the person that you are.”
In the October issue of Vogue, three-time cover girl Lupita Nyong’o talks about growing up in Nairobi, and her desire to see more African narratives represented in Hollywood and beyond. “I want to create opportunities for other people of color because I’m fortunate enough to have a platform to do that,” she said.
Recently, Nyong’o starred in “Eclipsed” on Broadway, playing a 15-year-old girl held captive by a rebel officer in Liberia. In her latest film, “Queen of Katwe,” she plays the mother of a Ugandan girl who becomes an international chess master. (The film opens next week.) And she’s also working on the forthcoming film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Americanah“— a love story that centers around two Nigerians.
“Being able to use my platform to expand and diversify the African voice … I feel very passionate about that. It feels intentional, meaningful,” Nyong’o said. She was drawn to “Queen of Katwe,” she said, because it was “based on a true story, an uplifting story out of Africa.” Nyong’o also reflected — not for the first time — on the significance of seeing darker-skinned women represented and celebrated as beautiful.
“Alek Wek changed how dark people saw themselves,” she said. “That I could do the same in a way for somebody somewhere is amazing.” She added, “The European sense of beauty affects us all. I came home from college in the early two-thousands and saw ads on TV with a girl who can’t get a job. She uses this product. She gets her skin lighter. She gets the job. The lording of lighter skin is a common thing growing up in Nairobi. Being called ‘black mamba.’ The slow burn of recognizing something else is better than you.”
Working on the set of “Queen of Katwe,” Nyong’o said a young Ugandan-British woman came up to her and said: “I’ve never had so many people call me beautiful until you showed up. I get called to auditions I never would have been called to before. I know it’s because you exist.”
RIO DE JANEIRO — Accomplishing a distance-running first for Kenya, a nation known for distance running, is no easy feat. So Jemima Sumgong‘s accomplishment Sunday at the Rio Olympics was indeed an accomplishment.Sumgong beat 156 competitors along a picturesque course on the sweltering streets of Rio, surging in the final 2 kilometers to claim Kenya’s first gold in the Olympic women’s marathon.It was an accomplishment that was nearly derailed, and not by the competition. Less than a mile from the finish line, a man with a sign jumped over the railings ahead of Sumgong and dashed onto the course.
Police officers immediately cut off the protester, who leaped over the fence and ran away.”I was scared,” Sumgong said initially. “I thinking he could maybe … he could grab one of my colleagues.”But she ran on undeterred.Sumgong finished in 2 hours, 24 minutes, 4 seconds. Kenya-born Eunice Kirwa of Bahrain was second (2:24:13), and world champion Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia (2:24:30) was third.
Shalane Flanagan (2:25.26), who hung on with the lead pack for about 40 kilometers, finished sixth to lead all three Americans in the top 10. Des Linden (2:26:08) was seventh, and Amy Cragg (2:28:25) was ninth.
On Friday, the World Economic Forum on Africa presented the five winners of the conference’s challenge to find Africa’s top women innovators. The winners, whose innovations were from the areas including mobile health insurance, solar powered vending carts, bio medical materials and IT training as well as food processing, hail from Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.
Currently, Africa has the youngest population in the world and this is expected to double by 2045. In view of this, several global leaders have attested to the fact that Africa’s future lies in the hands of its youthful population. The region’s start-up businesses are gaining confidence and scale with a growing number of innovations achieving recognition beyond the region’s borders. However, a lot still has to be done in order to create an enabling environment that will allow women to flourish. Due to this set back, the World Economic Forum decided to run this competition to find Africa’s top female innovators especially as the potential of women entrepreneurs is far from optimum.
“I strongly believe that the 21st century will be Africa’s century, that its young population has the potential to build a world where they are not only materially better off, but also where things are fairer, more sustainable and more tolerant than at any other time in history. But this will not be achieved unless women are able to make a full contribution. This is why we are showcasing Africa’s best female entrepreneurs in Kigali this week,” said Elsie Kanza, Head of Africa at the World Economic Forum.
Here are Africa’s top female innovators, selected based on the criteria for the WEF Africa challenge. This required entrant companies to be less than three years old, be earning revenue for at least a year and have proven innovation and positive social impact.
Natalie Bitature – Musana Carts, Kampala, Uganda
Musana Carts has used frugal innovation to develop environmentally friendly, solar-powered vending carts. With a price point of $400, each Musana Cart saves 3,000 tons of carbon emissions and improves the health of cities by eliminating pollution from charcoal and kerosene stoves.
Audrey Cheng – Moringa School, Nairobi, Kenya
Audrey Cheng established Moringa School to enable an entire generation gain the skills they need to compete in the digital economy. Two years on, graduates work in the top tech companies in the region, earning, on average, 350 percent more than before they completed the course.
The Africa rising narrative has been called into question several times. It was called a myth by former deputy governor of Nigeria’s central bank, Kingsley Moghalu and Tanzanian millionaire Ali Mufuruki called it false.
Although the old clichés of Africa being a continent where war and poverty reign with pestilence have not completely changed as several parts of the continent still grapple with poverty, as well as war and terror, but the continent has one thing going for it, which makes the hopeful ‘Africa rising’ narrative bold enough to hold on to; its people.
Even if Africa is not rising as claimed by Mufuruki, Africans are rising and are impacting the continent and the world at large. Their lives inspire other Africans to follow their dreams and they are moving Africa closer to the future we all hope for, one step at a time.
When Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed Patrick Njoroge as central bank governor, he was relatively unknown, so the president was criticized over his choice. But getting to know Njoroge changed everything. What struck Kenyans was not his PhD in Economics. It was also not his years of experience working for global lender International Monetary Fund (IMF). What was captivating for most Kenyans was his modest lifestyle. Who rejects the perks of public office? Patrick Njoroge said no to three official cars and a palatial apartment.
It is just six months into his reign as central bank governor but the impact of his ingenuity is already being felt. He brought inflation under control in his first month and helped stabilise the shilling. Banks in Kenya know he is not going to overlook any incontinence and flouting of the law. Two banks have been hammered already. He is not the typical African public office holder. He made Africa proud in 2015.
Adesina’s story is a story of sheer determination to succeed. Born to a farmer in southwestern Nigerian State, Ogun, he didn’t quite leave the path he knew from infancy; agriculture was everything. But he would not be the type of farmer his father was, he wanted more and Agricultural Economics seemed perfect. He stayed true to his dream and saw it through. Continue reading “Here are 20 Africans That Should Inspire Your 2016 – The Nerve Africa”→