She’s There When African Governments Turn Off The Internet: Meet The Lawyer Advancing Facebook In AfricaBy Staff, 1:01 am
Some describe Ebele Okobi, 42, as Facebook’s secretary of state for Africa. Last year, at least 11 African governments shut down the internet for various temporary reasons. Where there are shutdowns, there is Okobi. Perhaps the most controversial aspect of her work is Free Basics, the Facebook-driven platform that provides a free version of the internet. Telecos in 22 African countries provide it. Facebook can control what is accessible, and many have criticized it for creating different classes of internet access. For its part, Facebook says half of all Free Basics users convert into paying internet customers within a month.
Staff, 9:33 am
What’s been billed as the world’s most luxurious cruise ship, the 750-passenger Seven Seas Explorer, in 2018 will operate a voyage down the west coast of Africa — rare in the cruise world. The voyage will bring one of the priciest cruise ships in the world to one of the globe’s poorest regions. The per capita income of many of the countries on the itinerary is less than $2,000 per year. The most expensive luxury ship ever built, it features some of the largest, most elaborate accommodations at sea, including a 4,443-square-foot suite — nearly 50% larger than the average home in the U.S. The ship spa is operated by Canyon Ranch.
Staff, 11:55 am
South Africa sees itself as a gateway to Africa and a spokesman for the continent. The rest of the continent doesn’t necessarily agree. African Union officials and observers of continental politics spoke anonymously on perceptions of South Africa’s policies and role in Africa. Respondents all raised similar concerns — paternalism, xenophobia, hypocracy and poor communication. Despite South Africa’s rhetoric of ubuntu (human kindness) and the African Agenda, its economic interests always come first, respondents said.
Staff, 8:02 am
Once a center of the slave trade, the ancient port of Calabar is now one of the prettiest cities in Nigeria. It has long sought to position itself as a tourist center and jumping-off point for exploring Cross River State, home to Nigeria’ s only population of drill monkeys. Drills are one of Africa’s most endangered mammals. You can see them at Pandrillus in Calabar, the world’s most successful drill monkey breeding program. Director Peter Jenkins is a hero to some and hated by others. He’s been the target of death threats for trying to change local attitudes against catching monkeys for bush meat.
Staff, 5:31 pm
In KwaZulu-Natal the strongest activity is along the North Coast from Durban to Ballito — popular among investors. Residential development in upscale areas such as uMhlanga and Sibaya is enormous, prompting converns of oversupply, but home prices are expected to increase. Durban’s North and South Beach areas, including The Point, have increased as popular residential areas, thanks in part to the general upgrade to the Promenade.
Staff, 1:00 am
An investment fund that describes itself as “the first cross-border fund between Africa and France” wants to help French companies expand in Africa and African companies expand into France and other E.U. markets. Investments will be in the form of equity participation, generally through minority stakes. The fund’s capital will targeted towards African startups displaying a high growth potential. Investors include Orange, Bpifrance, Société Générale and Proparco.
Staff, 2:46 pm
Exclusively a South African gold producer until September 2015, JSE-listed Sibanye Gold is set to become the world’s fourth-biggest platinum and third-largest palladium producer. Sibanye hopes to acquire Montana-based Stillwater Mining for $2.2 billion. If completed, the acquisition will further dilute Sibanye’s portfolio. Sibanye began its expansion in 2016 with the purchase of platinum mines in Southern Africa. The Stillwater deal is in a whole other league. It’s much more valuable and involves mines far from Sibanye’s home country.
Staff, 12:17 pm
Nigeria should be witnessing major investment into its commercial property industry, given its large economy relative to the rest of the continent, its population, which is more than 184 million people and its general development potential. Yet its reliance on oil and its volatile currency had hindered investment. South African investment groups invested in Eastern Europe at the expense of opportunities closer to home, to the tune of around $1.5 billion in 2016. This was more than the total investment volumes recorded in Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana for the past five years or so.
Staff, 2:20 pm
It’s somewhat disconcerting to look at gazelles with the roar of traffic as your soundtrack, or see a line of skyscrapers on the northern edge of the park, but this is Africa. If you’re visiting Nairobi and don’t have time to head out into the bush, you’ll find one of the best urban wildlife parks in the world just a few miles from the city’s central business district. All you need is a few hours. At the Nairobi National Park, I saw giraffe, Cape buffalo, wildebeest, baboons, impala, a rhino and her baby, and — unexpectedly — lions mating.
Staff, 3:53 pm
Recently renewed by U.S. President Barack Obama, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA, allows qualifying African countries to export certain products to the U.S. duty free. U.S. exports to Africa, however, are subject to customs duties. Incoming President Donald Trump isn’t going to go for that, says Herman Cohen, a former U.S. ambassador to several African countries. “I have the feeling that he will ask African governments to accept reciprocity in trade relations,” Cohen said.