South Africa: Latest News
Dana Sanchez, 3:29 pm
Johannesburg-based Standard Bank is the latest to join the R3 consortium after some global heavyweights pulled out. The network represents a collaboration of 75-plus banks exploring blockchain as a solution for digital payments. Goldman Sachs, Santander, Morgan Stanley and the National Australian Bank have quit the NYC-based R3. Their departure raises questions about how much distributed ledger and blockchain technology are worth to the financial sector. One expert says they could have quit over competition and not wanting to share.
Dana Sanchez, 1:49 pm
The A.U. is divided on whether or not to collectively adopt a plan that Human Rights Watch described as having no timeline and “few concrete recommendations for action.” Unless the ICC undergoes reforms, African countries should make a coordinated withdrawal, according to the resolution. A proposal refers to the creation of an alternate regional African war crimes court. South Africa and Kenya have pushed for withdrawal. “They’ll be disappointed that the discussions about completely severing ties with the ICC will have to wait another six months for the next summit,” an analyst said.
Karen Elowitt, 8:01 am
Humans evolved with day-and-night rhythms of natural light-dark cycles. Most of us no longer experience dark nights. Exposure to artificial light disrupts our circadian rhythm, increasing our risk of cancer. Far from city lights, Namibia’s Sossusvlei Desert offers uncompromised views of the night sky. The Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is an International Dark Sky Reserve. It’s almost totally free from light pollution. Located on the private NamibRand Nature Reserve, it has its own observatory and astronomers.
Dana Sanchez, 3:49 pm
A former Spanish colony, Western Sahara is the last unresolved African case on the U.N. Committee on Decolonization. The debate on readmitting Morocco to the A.U. was “an emotional call for the fight against colonization.” South Africa and Algeria were opposed. Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said Morocco’s acceptance back into the A.U. was the will of the majority of member countries. Resolving the Western Sahara question will have to wait for another day. “Africa wants to speak in one voice. We need all African countries to be a part of that voice,” she said.
Dana Sanchez, 12:48 pm
The U.S. president’s travel bans provided a rallying call today for African unity. Today’s African Union summit had divisive issues on the agenda, including Africa’s relationship to the International Criminal Court and Morocco’s readmission to the A.U., but outgoing A.U. head Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma identified Trump’s refugee ban as one of the “greatest challenges to our unity.” A South African A.U. expert says the A.U. is more divided than ever, but it’s not over refugees. “You have all these calls for unity but actually… (it’s) over Morocco, the regional divisions and the ICC.”
Dana Sanchez, 11:11 am
Chad’s Moussa Faki Mahamat replaces South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is expected to run for president of South Africa in a bid to replace her ex, Jacob Zuma. Mahamat, 56, previously served as the chairman of the A.U.’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council. His boss, President Idriss Deby, has ruled Chad for 26 years. Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed was Mahamat’s main rival in the final round of voting. She is one of the most vocal critics of the International Criminal Court.
Tom Jackson, 7:55 am AFKI Original
As tech becomes more widespread in Africa, democratic processes will become more accessible. Internet and mobile technologies can reach remote areas and give voice to many. Rashaad Alli is a manager at South African nonprofit People’s Assembly, which supports websites that make parliamentary information more accessible to ordinary people. “Access to information is a great enabler to effect social change and deepen democracy,” Alli said. “Tech tools help increase transparency, expose corruption, strengthen democracy and hold governments to account.”
Richard Holmes, 9:21 am
“Today, praise be to God, wine was pressed for the first time from Cape grapes.” Those were the words scribbled in the diary of Jan van Riebeeck, the first Dutch commander of the Cape of Good Hope. It was Feb. 2, 1659. South Africa may still be referred to as one of the “New World” wine producers, but there is a long history of wine making in the Western Cape province. With some of the most scenic vineyards on the planet just a short drive from Cape Town’s city center, it’s no surprise that most visitors to the Mother City spend at least a day – often longer – exploring the magnificent wine lands.
Dana Sanchez, 2:50 pm
About 90% of managed assets are concentrated in four countries including South Africa and Nigeria. SA leads, thanks to rules that allow them to invest 10% of assets through private equity. Nigeria is held back by trust issues. “The thought of using our pension fund for investment in public-sector infrastructure development is highly frightening given the well-known penchant for mismanagement inherent in public-sector institutions in Nigeria,” the Nigerian Labour Congress says. Pension funds are ideal for driving inclusive growth and social stability through long-term projects such as infrastructure, says consultancy firm RisCura.
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.
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