As a researcher at the Center for Public Diplomacy, I came to appreciate the need and the convenience of a timely recap of the news. With so much going on in many different fields, and various mediums through which to receive and explore news and information, having one source with a quick summary and commentary on the current events is invaluable.
The African File will begin to publish a weekly recap of news from the African continent, with a focus on my three areas of interest/specialty: technology, politics, and sport. The weekly digest isn’t meant to cover the biggest news stories, but examine a range of topics that might be interesting for those who are interested in keeping up on events from the continent. It will contain links to the stories so that readers may gain a deeper inside, and The African File will attempt to add thoughtful, or at least satirical, commentary to the news each week. It will publish under the title: ‘The Week That Was’ (TWTW).
With a brief preview of the format, a sample from this week is below:
- The biggest event on the continent kicked off last weekend, with the Africa Cup of Nations being co-hosted between Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Both host nations
- have shocked many by topping their groups and qualifying for the second round after just 2 matches. My pick to win the tournament, Cote d’Ivoire, has also qualified for the second round with maximum points in their two matches. Botswana, my pick as the dark horse, plays it second game tomorrow after losing 1-nil to Ghana in the opener. Good coverage of the tournament can be found at these sites: CAF Online, Orange Sport (where they streamed the opening match, in French), and MTN Football
- South Africa appointed the new Springbok coach this week. He takes over after managing the regional Super XV club, Blue Bulls, and fills the void left by Pieter de Villiers. The Springboks failed to get past the quarter finals, which was a disappointing end for a golden generation of South African rugby players. Heyneke Meyer has long track record of success at the club level, and with reports emanating from the Rugby board that de Villiers had benefitted in some part due to being non-white, Meyer seems to be a pick based on talent, which should appeal to all sectors of the sporting world in South Africa.
- A piece of research that is particularly relevant to my line of current study is a report discussing the Twitter habits of those on the continent. The Atlantic story on the
report seems to suggest that this will enable Africans to circumvent unfree press and media. However, despite the Portland Communications firm finding that that majority of people using Twitter with between 21-29, unfortunately there’s no way to gauge social-economic levels of the users. This would give us a greater insight into whether Twitter can be considered a broad spectrum medium, or that exclusive to the wealthy.
- Sony opened a store in Harare, Zimbabwe this past week. This is an interesting move by the Japanese electronics maker, perhaps signaling the strength of the Southern African market? Though one has to wonder about what the tech market in Zimbabwe will look like as time closes in on the next Presidential elections, likely this year if Mugabe gets his way.
- In a bit of public diplomacy combined with the corporate world, Microsoft has set out to help bridge the digital divide in tandem with the British Council in six African countries. I wondered if most of these six countries speak Swahili, because the project is titled “Badiliko” (change in Swahili). Turns out four of the countries are from East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia) and the other two are Nigeria and Gabon. Its an interesting combination of countries, and some are out of my range of expertise, as I only covered the top 10+Rwanda in my paper on ICT Readiness last year.
- Nigeria has been in the news quite of bit of late, and this no doubt had an effect on the Nigerian leadership, as President Johnathan decided to fire the Inspector General of the Police in Nigeria, despite the fact that Mr. Hafiz Ringim was set to retire in just a few weeks. There are two readings of this from my perspective: 1. Jonathan needs to look as though he is taking action in dealing with Boko Haram and made a deal with Ringim that he would take the fall, yet not be sacked entirely. 2. Jonathan, or his advisors, could be legitimately upset with the handling by the police of the security situation and decided they needed to send a message to their entire security apparatus.
- The International Criminal Court in the Hague charged some of the biggest players in Kenya’s domestic politics, perhaps dramatically impacting the Presidential elections set to be held in 2013. The charges stem from the political violence perpetrated in the wake of the 2007 elections. Two of the accused had planned to stand for election for president. Interestingly, this is part of the continued expansion of the power of the ICC, and the consequences of this trial might not just have implications for Kenya, but also for future investigations by the ICC. A fact that may give even more credence to the ICC is the fact that a majority of Kenyans wish to see the ICC deal with the post-election violence cases.
Infographic/Video of the Week