The Untold Story of the Rwanda Genocide- New BBC Documentary

A new controversial but powerful BBC documentary attempts to shed light on the other untold stories from the 1994 Rwandan genocide. More »

Zimbabwe’s Kariba Dam on Verge of Collapse

One of the top symbols of British colonialism was the construction of the Kariba Dam on the Zambezi Valley. The arch shaped dam was the product of Italian engineering which was constructed at more than $135M at the time a feat of massive proportion More »

African Innovation At Its Best: GIST Finalists

Mixon Faluweki of Malawi and Cynthia Ndubuisi of Nigeria are among the 15 finalists for the Global Innovation in Science and Technology (GIST) Tech-I finals. More »

TVE Bio Movies Finalist: Cosmo Zengeya

tvebiomovies is a film competition now in its fifth year, and open to everyone around the world with access to a camera. These are some of the finalists that could use your help with your one click= one vote. More »

What is Ebola? Fact v. Myth

Ebola viruses are found in several African countries including Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) . Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. More »

 

TVE Bio Movies Finalist: Cosmo Zengeya

tvebiomovies is a film competition now in its fifth year, and open to everyone around the world with access to a camera. These are some of the finalists that could use your help with your one click= one vote.

THE INBAR PRIZE FOR BAMBOO AND RATTAN

Bamboo and rattan are two non-timber forest products that have many benefits and values, but these are not universally recognised. Both plants are very important for the lives of local people in Asia, Africa and Latin America, but they also play other roles. Giant pandas in China, mountain gorillas in the Ruwenzori Mountains and bamboo lemurs in Madagascar all depend on bamboo. Rattan and bamboo can help to restore degraded lands and make them productive again. Both plants absorb CO2, and play a role in climate change mitigation. And they are the raw material for furniture, construction materials, textiles, food, pulp and paper. Why do we not talk about these benefits more often?

SAVE SOME FOR THE CHILDREN

The WWF-UK Prize for World With a Future

Across the globe, vulnerable habitats and endangered species need protection more than ever before. People are using more natural resources than our planet can replace. And the threat posed by climate change continues to grow. We’re facing widespread wildlife extinction and the breakdown of our most important natural systems – unless we urgently work together for change. To stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment, and build a future in which people live in harmony with nature, we need to communicate the beauty of species, as well as forests, oceans and other habitats. And we need to champion ways of living more sustainably.

Around the world, people are protecting forests from the many threats they face, campaigning for more marine protect areas, guarding vulnerable species from poachers and taking local action to safeguard the things that are precious to them. Every action that helps to protect our world is worth celebrating. Let’s focus the world’s attention on our amazing planet, and the urgent need to protect it.

The Untold Story of the Rwanda Genocide- New BBC Documentary

RwandaMapA new controversial but powerful BBC documentary attempts to shed light on the other untold stories from the 1994 Rwandan genocide. According to the new documentary, Paul Kagame is not the liberator that he claims to have been but a selfish man in search of political power who was not concerned about how many people actually died in his pursuit of power. The mainstream story of the 1994 genocide fits into the narrative that his western backers former Prime Minister Tony Blair and Former President Bill Clinton use in their praise of him. Three Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) informants claim that American trained Paul Kagame was the mastermind in the shooting down of the plane that killed the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, which then triggered the mass killings.

Featured in the documentary are two American academics from the University of Michigan who traveled to Rwanda to better understand the genocide. They believe that most Tutsis were already dead by the time the RPF marched in to takeover power. This contrasts with Paul Kagame’s story of him as the ‘savior’ that helped to end the genocide. The RPF is accused of killing fleeing Hutus and Tutsis indiscriminately as they approached the capital. In addition, there is evidence that the United Nations (UN), United Kingdom (UK) and United States (US)  suppressed a report that showed the RPF killed 30,000 Hutus in one part of the country. Kagame is also accused of being responsible for the killing of 5 million Hutu and Tutsi refugees in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who had fled during the genocide.

Rwanda’s Untold Story Documentary from RDI-Rwanda Rwiza on Vimeo.

Professor Alan Stam of the University of Michigan agrees that 1 million people died in the Rwandan genocide. However, he argues that there were only 500,000 Tutsis in the country at the time. Of the 500, 000 who were in the country before the genocide, 300,000 Tutsis survived. This means about 200,000 Tutsis died and therefore 800,000 Hutus also died in the 1994 genocide but no one talks about it. The government of Rwanda will imprison anyone who challenges the mainstream story of the genocide and labels them a ‘genocide denier’.

Rwanda’s former Chief of External Intelligence, Col Patrick Karegeya was murdered in a hotel room in Johannesburg, South Africa. Faustin Nyamwasa,  a Rwandan former Lieutenant General who was Chief of Staff of the Rwandan Army has survived four assassination attempts. They were both accused of trying to topple the Kagame regime.

Paul Kagame has been President of Rwanda since March, 2000. In the last election (2010), Kagame claims he won with 93% of the vote.

African Innovation At Its Best: GIST Finalists

The Global Innovation through Science and Technology Finalists have been announced. The top 15 idea stage finalists are: Adwoa Asiedua Boateng, Ghana; Alim Khamitov, Kazakhstan; Cynthia Ndubuisi, Nigeria; Dessy Aliandrina, Indonesia; Eshmuradov Dilmurod, Uzbekistan; Gargy Lahiry, Bangladesh; Onyedikachukwu Igili, Nigeria; Islam Azeddine Mennouchi, Algeria; Jossué Amador Andino, Honduras; Mixon Faluweki, Malawi; Muchu Kaingu, Zambia; Pavel Santos, Dominican Republic; Sartika Kurniali, Indonesia; Sheldon Duncombe, Jamaica and Waleed Jan, Saudi Arabia. To celebrate the African scientist who make us proud we have chosen to highlight a few.

The GIST initiative is led by the U.S. Department of State and the American Association for the Advancement for Science (AAAS).

GIST (Global Innovation through Science and Technology) operates at the intersection of science & technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship to empower individual innovators and to strengthen entrepreneurial ecosystems.GIST empowers young people to use their science and technology (S&T) based ideas to commercialize new products and create companies that address economic and development challenges. GIST takes innovators from around the world, augments their skills, builds networks, and connects them with mentors and investors – from New York to Silicon Valley – that can help them realize their ambitions. Since 2011, GIST has mentored over 3,500 startups, generated over $21 million in financing, and engaged over 1 million innovators and entrepreneurs. Learn More about GIST

Below are the proposals submitted for the GIST competition by Mixon Faluweki (Malawi) and Cynthia Ndubuisi (Nigeria).

MIXON FALUWEKI- ENERGY

Due to the advancement in mobile phone communication in Malawi, use of cellphones is common both in urban and rural areas. Beside the known cost of buying airtime by cellphone users, many rural cellphone users spend a lot of money on paying for charging the batteries of their phones. These costs are on top of the high airtime tariffs that puts a lot of pressure to the poor rural population. In Malawi, an average daily income for an individual is below 1 USD. Other forms of energy such as solar energy are very expensive making it difficult for many rural citizens to access them.

The most reliable mode of transport in Malawi is a bicycle as discovered by the 2010 Malawi Demographic and health survey conducted by NSO. It is reported that about 47 % of the rural households own a bicycle. Also a large group of men both in urban and rural areas run a bicycle taxi service called kabaza in local language. Many of these people do not have home electricity. It is for this reason that Padoko charger, that uses the bicycle, has been designed and developed to ease the problem of paying for charging their phones’ batteries.
faluweki bicycle
The charger takes advantage of the existing bicycles that are readily available to the people in Malawi. The few components used to fabricate the charger makes it relatively cheaper than other phone chargers currently on the market. The ability to charge a phone in a comparatively shorter period of time than available chargers makes it a preference over the rest. Also the charger will not have extra running costs for users. Furthermore, Padoko charger could charge the batteries for an MP3 player and a rechargeable torch. The latter will see many people stop using paraffin lamps thereby reducing indoor pollution.

The Padoko charger uses a bicycle dynamo whose output is regulated to a stable DC power at a 5V and 400-500mA. It does not need too much energy to work, once the wheel starts revolving, charging begins. It can also charge almost every mobile phone.

If implemented, the charger has the potential of serving approximately over six million people. Due to the high number of people owning bicycles and the increasing number of mobile phone users in villages plus the burden of paying money for phone charging makes the innovation very marketable. Furthermore, bicycle taxi operators could use the same innovation to charge phones for their clients hence increase their income. The technology would see Malawi make Phone chargers for the first time in history and also create employment for many which will boost the economy of the country.

My plan is to open a small company that will be manufacturing this product and make it accessible to all potential users.

Being a third year university student pursuing Bachelor of Education Science degree, majoring in physics, I have the technical know how that is required to run the business. My educational courses have offered me a chance to study leadership and management. Other individuals include my two supervisors: Dr Justice Mlatho and Dr. Chomora Mikeka from Physics department, Chancellor College who could offer the necessary support in the business.

The leadership structure comprises of the manager (myself), an accountant and technical staff. As a manager I would oversee all company proceedings, plan and delegate duties to the company staff. In conclusion, the Padoko charger is a solution to the problem faced by many phone users in Malawi who do not have access to electricity but use a bicycle for transport.

CYNTHIA NDUBUISI – AGRICULTURE

The Problem

According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; Nigeria being the world’s largest producer of cassava, produces about 40 million metric tons of cassava annually and generates over 12 million metric tons of cassava peels of which is perceived as useless and often burned openly by farmers to dispose of it cheaply. This releases more than 10 million tons of toxic carbon monoxide and other forms of pollution in the atmosphere damaging the air and health quality of people living in the communities.

Potential Impact

a. Reduced harmful effects caused by the traditional practice of burning cassava.

b. Increased economic benefit for both cassava processors (sellers) and goat farmers (buyers).

c. Increased quality of life and productivity/Increased career prospect.

Innovation

This project is comprised of five innovations:

a. A simple technology (a drying platform for the cassava peels to be used instead of burning the waste)
b. A new product (clean dried cassava peels that can be sold as goat feed),
c. An educational component (a diet prescribed to goat farmers, designed by animal scientists that utilizes cassava peels and maximizes the growth rate and health of the goats)
d. Access to credit (facilitating micro-credit loans to build drying platforms), and
e. A new market mechanism (linking cassava processors and goat keepers).

This innovation provides a measurable economic benefit to both cassava processors and goat farmers with average annual incomes less than $2 a day. Original estimates suggested an annual increase of $384 USD and $198 USD respectively (“Development Marketplace Proposal #4345,” 2008, p. 2) and early evidence indicates gains closer to $635 USD a year (DM TEAM, October 1, 2010).

Competitive Advantage

a. The Nigerian Ministry of Agriculture estimates the livestock consumption of low income earners (i.e. market potential) as approximately $24 billion per annum and $66 million per day. In recent years maize production in Nigeria has not kept pace with demand. This may be attributed to inadequate production due to climate change coupled with the food-feed competition for this grain and its increased use for bio-fuel production in the developed countries. There is therefore the need to explore alternative cheaper feed sources for poultry/livestock feeding (e.g. goat, sheep, etc.) and sun-dried cassava peels have recently proven to be the best and most sustainable alternative.

b. The Department of Animal Production, University of Illorin Nigeria, in the Bioresource Technology Journal asserts, “High cost and poor quality of feeds and feed stuffs have been identified as the greatest constraints impacting livestock production in Nigeria. The high cost of maize (key ingredient) for livestock feed formulation is crippling the Nigerian livestock industry. The most logical step therefore is to formulate livestock feeds from non-conventional and non-competing (with human beings) ingredients by utilizing by-products and waste -from farmers and food-processing companies, which are not directly utilizable by man. Sun-dried cassava peels make a very attractive option.

Science and Technology

Animal scientists from the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria designed a specific diet for the goats, comprised of dried cassava peels (30%) and grasses, legumes and roughages (70%) that maintains the health of the animals (reducing the cost of antibiotics and risk of death) and minimizes the time needed for the goats to reach their full growth (at which point they can be sold). In most cases the growth time is cut in half and the input cost of feed is drastically reduced, increasing the profit margin of the farmers by roughly $198 USD a year.

Sun-dried cassava = fatter goats and happier farmers

In Africa, where 87 million tons of cassava is processed annually, only 6% is used as livestock feed. In comparison, 32% of the cassava produced in Latin America is used for livestock feed and in Asia, the number is over 40%.

Why customers would want the product/service:

a) Reduced production cost.
b) Reduced time of livestock growth.
c) Healthier and fatter goats generated for goat farmers, etc.

Strategy

1. Securing funds & partnerships

2. Distributing through already existing distribution outlets.

3. Engaging women vendors and local youth groups in the marketing and sale of our product.

7.) Team:

1. Cynthia Ndubuisi: CEO – Co-founder, Textile & Polymer Technologist, Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria. Social entrepreneur, specialized in niche social networks.

2. Stephen Ugochukwu Ugwudi: Co-founder, product manager.

3. Clinton Ndubuisi: Co-founder,marketing and expansion officer.

4. Director of Research and Innovations: Mrs Esther Kantiok; she’s a consultant for the National Agricultural Extension Research Liaison Services and other research bodies.

Participant Information Courtesy of The GIST Initiative led by the U.S. Department of State, and the Tech-I competition implemented by AAAS, 2014. Learn More

Zimbabwe’s Kariba Dam on Verge of Collapse

kariba damOne of the top symbols of British colonialism was the construction of the Kariba Dam on the Zambezi Valley. The arch shaped dam was the product of Italian engineering which was constructed at more than $135M at the time a feat of massive proportion. Today the Kariba dam is one of the crowning signs of failed leadership and infrastructure ruin in the former bread basket of Southern Africa.

Reports coming out from Zimbabwe show that there is growing concern over the possibility of the collapse of the Kariba Dam which was built in the 1950s. The dam wall is collapsing as a result of years of neglect and non-repair basically poor management that is the usual story of the Mugabe regime. The consequence of a dam wall collapse is 3.5 million losing their lives and the loss of hydroelectric power to 40% of the people in Southern Africa.

Zimbabwe has become a king of diamonds in the industrial diamond industry and yet cannot repair the wall of this dam that provides hydroelectric power to the country. Zimbabwe is currently experiencing ‘load shedding’   where power cuts are the norm and people live in urban areas without power for more than 12 hours a day. The more affluent families have resorted to solar energy and generators to provide their power needs.

Kariba Dam was built on the Zambezi River which is the second longest river in Africa. The Zambezi River flows from Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique before it flows into the Indian Ocean. It revolutionized the power industry in Southern Africa and ushered in cities of lights in the continent once dubbed the “dark continent”.

The dam was built to produce hydroelectric power for the colonial governments. It involved the resettlement of more than 50,000 Tonga people who were indigenous to the region. This was not done in an orderly way since this was a time when the colonial government did not concern itself a great deal with the living conditions of the Tonga. There were no Tonga people to document their story about the effects of this movement but there was no one to hear or willing to highlight their plight. In the mainstream media there was more concern for the animals that were living in the valley than the humans who occupied it.

 THE TONGA PEOPLE

The Tonga people of Zambia and Zimbabwe (also called ‘Batonga’) are a Bantu ethnic group of southern Zambia and neighbouring northern Zimbabwe, and to a lesser extent, in Mozambique. They are related to the Batoka who are part of the Tokaleya people in the same area, and also to the Tonga people of Malawi. The BaTonga people of Zimbabwe are found around the Binga District, the Kariba area, and other parts of Matabeleland. They number up to 300,000.

The Tonga People were settled along Lake Kariba after the construction of the Kariba Dam wall. They stretch from Chirundu, Kariba town, Mola, Binga to Victoria Falls. Like any other tribes in Zimbabwe, the educated ones relocated to larger urban areas in search of jobs and better education.

The Tonga language of Zambia is spoken by about 1.38 million people in Zambia and 137,000 in Zimbabwe; it is an important lingua franca in parts of those countries and is spoken by members of other ethnic groups as well as the Tonga.