The African Union (AU) gets a lot of flak. Critics often argue that it is slow to respond to security threats; that it prioritises power over justice; and that it fails to adequately represent the needs of this continent's 1,11 billion citizens.
The continental organisation is often dismissed as a talk shop for tyrants, or depicted as an ineffectual, lumbering bureaucracy that worries more about per diems than it does about Africa's most pressing political problems.
There is merit to some of these critiques. But they don't tell the whole story, and they leave out the good bits. It is time to give credit where credit is due, and to recognise that - as imperfect as it may be - Africa is in much better shape with the AU than without it.
The AU operates under massive constraints, which greatly limit the scope of its ability (if not its ambition, so often couched in the lofty rhetoric of pan-Africanism). Firstly, it faces an immense financial challenge.
Source: Institute for Security Studies
The conventional path for improving healthcare is to build more hospitals and train more doctors. But could Africa speed up progress by 'hacking' its way to success?
Governments, NGOs and businesses spend billions of dollars across Africa building new hospitals and training new doctors. But currently, the doctor-patient ratio in many African countries is one-twentieth or less of what it is in the US and Europe, meaning many patients, particularly in remote areas, never get the specialist care they need.
Even in the best conditions, hospitals take time to build and it can take more than a decade to train a specialist doctor. Is the right approach to improving Africa’s healthcare therefore to build hospitals and train doctors?
The term "hacking” means modifying the features of a system to achieve a new goal. In development, it can describe rapid changes made by a society to advance without going through the intermediate stages. Rather than following developed nations’ roadmap to progress, Africa can leapfrog by experimenting with emerging tools, models and ideas. Foreign investors looking at Africa often say that while the prospects are exciting, the infrastructure is lagging. I believe that existing infrastructure can be hacked – which in itself is a huge opportunity.
Africa’s best-known “development hack” thus far is the mobile phone. Africa never managed to build a comprehensive telephone cable network. And, as mobile and smart phones proliferate, it will never need one. Something similar could happen with education, manufacturing and road construction, and especially healthcare. Africa must leapfrog the industrial revolution into the information revolution by using the resources it already has available.
My medical work takes me to some of the most remote communities in Nigeria. Yet in these places I still meet young people that listen to TED talks and are up-to-date with the latest breaking news on CNN. The internet – now often accessed on basic phones or smart phones – breaks the boundaries isolating small, rural communities from the rest of the world.
By Ola Orekunrin
Source: Think Africa Press
Author Isabel Allende is 71. Yes, she has a few wrinkles—but she has incredible perspective too. In this candid talk, meant for viewers of all ages, she talks about her fears as she gets older and shares how she plans to keep on living passionately.
It is estimated that 1 out of every 20 jobs on the African continent is related to tourism, especially in key tourism countries and attractions such as those found in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Egypt, Mali, South Africa, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. Being a predominantly male-dominated industry, however, with a high male patronage, tourism needs to be held accountable for its impact on women in varied and serious ways.
In this month’s Karibu - Voices from the South, Ms. Omega Bula of Zambia explores the implications and impacts of commercial tourism on women’s rights and dignity. She argues that the ‘good news’ from tourism today lacks a class, racial, and gender justice analysis, and is hence not true for the majority of impoverished and marginalised women working in the tourism industry in Africa. This situation therefore demands life-giving economies and theologies that secure gender justice in the tourism industry in Africa, as well as the wider Global South.
The text consists of excerpts from Omega’s chapter in the newly published book, “Deconstructing Tourism: A Theological Reading from the Global South” (2014).
This talk begins with a personal story of sexual violence that may be difficult to listen to. But that’s the point, says citizen journalist Meera Vijayann: Speaking out on tough, taboo topics is the spark for change. Vijayann uses digital media to speak honestly about her experience of gender violence in her home country of India — and calls on others to speak out too.
"We spend so much time listening to the things people are saying that we rarely pay attention to the things they don't," says slam poet and teacher Clint Smith. A short, powerful piece from the heart, about finding the courage to speak up against ignorance and injustice.