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Wednesday:  December 17, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Tuesday
Apr032012

The World’s Happiest Countries (REPORT) 

(Happy Face/The Joy Project)(HN, 4/3/12) - On Monday, representatives at the UN took a day off from discussing the crisis and conflict engulfing the globe to talk about something totally different: how to be happy.

Holding a high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly hosted by the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan - long ranked as the `Happiest Country on the Planet' - the world body looked at ways to put happiness on the global agenda at their gathering "Wellbeing and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm".

In partnership with the Earth Institute at Columbia University, the government in the Bhutanese capital of Thimphu may just have a thing or two to teach our world leaders.

The first-ever World Happiness Report, is based on Gallup World Polls over a period of 2005-2011, with respondents aged 15 or in more than 150 countries asked to evaluate the quality of their lives on an 11-point ladder scale running from 0 to 10 - with the bottom rung of the ladder (0) being the worst possible life for them and 10 being the best possible.

The report generally shows that the world’s happiest countries are all in northern Europe -- Denmark, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands took the top four spots, in that order.  Canada came in fifth, well ahead of the United States at eleventh place. The least happy countries at the bottom of the list were Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Benin and Togo.

In advanced countries, women are happier than men, while the position in poorer countries is mixed. Happiness is lowest in middle age.

Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel, initiated the idea of an alternate model to Gross NationalProduct as a measurement of national progress in the 1970's and the country has famously adopted the goal of gross national happiness over gross national product (GNP). 

The 800,000-person kingdom - where the per capita income is an estimated $670 - has become the center of development economics these days as Western policymakers seeking knowledge on national happiness in the globalized world look to Bhutan for answers.

Indeed the debate is growing over how to best measure the progress of countries beyond monetary valuations; and the `Happiness Quotient' ranks high in terms of quality of life.

According to the report - co-authored by economists Jeffrey Sachs of the Earth Institute, Richard Layard of the London School of Economics, and John Helliwell of the Economics Department of the University of British Columbia - on average, the world has become a little happier over the last 30 years; tho the rise in economic living standards has not always had a direct impact on happiness. 

(PHOTO: lovehkfilms) True - overall the happiest countries in the world are all in Northern Europe while the least happy countries are all in Sub-Saharan Africa; but it's not just wealth that makes people happy: political freedom, strong social networks and an absence of corruption are far more important than income in explaining well-being differences between the top and bottom countries, according to the report.

The survey reflects a new worldwide demand for more attention to happiness and more lack of misery as criteria for government and public policy making.  It also reviews the state of happiness in the world today and shows how the new science of happiness explains personal and national status.

On a more personal level, the researchers argue that good mental and physical health, someone to count on, job security and stable families are all crucial to self-happiness.

UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon at the High-Level meeting said "I commend the Government of Bhutan for initiating this important debate on the link between happiness, well-being and prosperity."

He commented that he had received a final report recently of the Global Sustainability Panel, in preparation for the upcoming Rio+20 Earth Summit citing the 56 recommendations of the panel and the importance of establishing a `Sustainable Development Index', or a set of indicators to measure progress towards sustainable development, including happiness and well-being.

Ban ki-Moon noted that such thinking dates back to the earliest times, and can be found, for example, in the teachings of the Buddha and Aristotle. More recently, measuring success by wealth alone has been questioned in the groundbreaking Brundtland Report of 1987, the Human Development Index and the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, established by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France.

"We need a new economic paradigm that recognizes the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development.  Social, economic and environmental well-being are indivisible.  Together they define gross global happiness," said the UN Secretary General. 

He called upon government ministers, policymakers, business and civil society leaders, and young people - to work together to transform our economies, to place our societies on a more just and equitable footing, and to protect the resources and ecosystems on which our shared future depends.

Connecting the dots between these issues - between water, food and energy security, climate change, urbanization, poverty, inequality and the empowerment of the world’s women - lies at the heart of sustainable development and he said, "The outcome from Rio+20 should reflect this". 

Countries in order of their `Happiness Factor' according to the report are in this order:

Denmark, Finland, Norway, Netherlands, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, US, Costa Rica, Austria, Israel, Belgium, Luxembourg, UAE, UK, Venezuela, Iceland, Panama, Spain, France, Mexico, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Puerto Rico, Italy, Kuwait, Germany, Qatar, Turkmenistan, Singapore, Belize, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago, Argentina, Jamaica, Colombia, Greece, Chile, Japan, Guyana, Taiwan, Malta, El Salvador, Slovenia, Uruguay, Malaysia, Thailand, Poland, Jordan, Slovakia, South Korea, Bolivia, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Bahrain, Belarus, Honduras, Mauritius, Vietnam, Ecuador, Hong Kong, Kosovo, Cuba, Paraguay, Algeria, Estonia, Portugal, Myanmar, Moldova, Russia, Peru, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Romania, Libya, Laos, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Montenegro, Tunisia, Albania, Nicaragua, South Africa, Ukraine, Lebanon, Dominican Republic, India, Djibouti, Hungary, Namibia, Iraq, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Nigeria, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, Bangladesh, Morocco, Latvia, Syria, Ghana, Zambia, Mozambique, Somaliland, China, Mauritania, Malawi, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Botswana, Serbia, Mongolia, Palestinian Territory, Nepal, Armenia, Yemen, Sudan, Senegal, Cameroon, Macedonia, Uganda, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Angola, Guinea, Niger, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Liberia, Congo (DRC), Zimbabwe, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Georgia, Bulgaria, Congo, Tanzania, Haiti, Comoros, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Benin, Togo.

- HUMNEWS

Wednesday
Dec282011

THE HUM - HEADLINES FROM THE GEOGRAPHIC GAP - 12/28/11

Afghanistan 

India, Iran to resolve crisis in Afghanistan

(PHOTO: Canada's 1915 IDP's in La Ferme, Canada. MONTREAL GAZETTE)Albania

 Ton of cannabis seized in Albania

Algeria

Turkey accuses France of genocide in Algeria

Angola

Government pledges to cultivate human rights 

Antigua & Barbuda

World Bank says climate change talks bring ‘good and bad news’ for the Caribbean

Argentina 

Five Argentines Die in Traffic Accident in Southern Brazil

Armenia

Armenian women’s national team beats Vietnam’s team

(PHOTO: Tariq Ramadan at the Toronto1 gathering. The convention lured an impressive galaxy of distinguished scholars, including Prof. Tariq Ramadan ONISLAM.NET)Bolivia

Bolivian Minister Highlights Economic Growth 

Brazil

Due to Too Little Structure & Too Much Pesticide Brazil Exports Less than 1% of Its Fruit

Cameroon

Eto'o launches mobile network

Chinese Goods Top Christmas Wish List In Cameroon

Canada

Toronto Convention Inspires Canada Muslims

Remembering the spirit of Canadians unjustly interned

China

Chinese dissident Chen Wei gets 9 years in prison

Snack makers face expired food probe

Facebook Follows Server Brains From Taiwan to China

Colombia

Colombia, The Netherlands  Sign Rivers Dredging Agreement

(PHOTO: In Cyprus, poaching of the Blackcap birds is surging in defiance of a European Union ban. József Szabó.)Congo (DRC)

Congo: What’s Rwanda got to do with it? Interview

Cyprus

Illegal bird trapping a surging problem in Cyprus

Egypt

Egypt’s Amina Diab forges ahead with handbag collection

From Burning Bodies To Burning Books: Egypt Becoming “House Of Dust’ (Perspective)

Equatorial Guinea

Seadrill semi-tender rig gig off Equatorial Guinea

Ethiopia

Ethiopia: Swedish journalists to spend 11years in prison

Finland

Finland Authorities Clear MS Thor Liberty With 11 Ukrainian Citizens On Board After Finding Explosives To Travel Again 

Guinea

Guinea to review mining contract – Mr. Alpha Conde

India

Guwahati campus to become operational next June, says TISS Director

Don’t write off the India story yet (Perspective)

Iran

(PHOTO: Taiwan election-inspired merchandise on display in a shop. CHANNELASIA.NET)Iran and Russia survey regional developments

Iran envoy:  Abducted engineers in Syria are safe and sound

Iran threatens to stop Gulf oil if sanctions widened

Stop worrying and learn to love the Iranian bomb (Perspective)

Japan

Anti-Whaling Activists Use Drone to Track Japanese Fleet

Japanese PM Noda in India on economic mission 

Jordan

Libyan health minister visits Jordan field hospital

Kosovo

Serbia returns to dominate Kosovo market

(PHOTO: Screen shot of Tunisia's new Islamic TV channel, "Al Kalam")Kuwait

Kuwait donates 1 million to support Gaza preschool children 

Second consignment of Kuwaiti fuel donation arrives in Benghazi 

Lebanon

Lebanese al Qaeda operative eulogizes Jordanian killed in Afghanistan

Libya

Aid workers in Libya ponder future role in oil-rich country

Benetton Donates UnHate Statue To Libyan Capitol

Malta

(PHOTO: S. Sudan, the planet's newest nation opens its embassy in Washington, DC this week. WASHINGTON POST) PM, wife unharmed as shots fired close to Girgenti Palace

Montenegro 

Montenegro police arrests 16 members of international drug trafficking ring

Morocco 

Journalist Denied Access Into His Office

On the Verge of a Clean Energy Transformation: Morocco

Myanmar 

Burmese embassy in Thailand appoints labour official

Niger

A 'children's crisis' unfolds in West and Central Africa's Sahel region (Press Release)

(PHOTO: A gorilla stops to groom a tourist in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. DISCOVERY NEWS)Nigeria 

Christians flee north as Nigeria mourns church bomb victims

North Korea

Web blackout helps North Korea craft new cult of Kim

Oman

Pirates Seize Enrico Ievoli Ship With Five Ukrainians On Board Near Oman

Philippines

The Rights of the Child (Perspective)

Russia

Egyptian Foreign Minister in Russia to discuss Syria crisis

Rwanda

Country Committed in Fight Against Climate Change - Kamanzi

(PHOTO: `Harare Beyond Words' opens at H Gallery, Bangkok Thailand Jan 5-30th, 2012)Saudi Arabia

AIDS patient sues Qunfuda hospital

KSA residents protest fines for 'wasting water'

Value of Saudi's delayed public projects hits $147bn

Mobile phone subscriptions in Kingdom up to 56.1m in Q3

'Hafiz' flayed for precluding job hunters above 35

Endless debate over death penalty (Perspective)

Senegal

EALA roots for disaster experts in the region

South Africa

SA envoy visits drug mules in Thailand jails

Discovery of world's oldest bedding in SA (VIDEO)

South Sudan

South Sudan’s entrance on world stage includes setting up Washington embassy

South Sudan: Africa’s next farming frontier

Creating a film industry in South Sudan from scratch

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Fresh Insights On Attempts To Join ASEAN – Analysis

Sudan

Steps to Launch the Sudanese Satellite

Swaziland

(PHOTO: First community of hackers, called Hacekerspace were found in Tunisia this week. Nawaat.org) Electricity consumers soon to decide on tariff hikes

Whoonga - a new social threat

Switzerland

Swiss village in uproar over asylum centre

Switzerland slips in global ranking

Switzerland to renew Turkish-Armenian mediation

Syria

Telecomix hackers helping Syrians detect and avoid government surveillance online

Syrian NGOs: A dual-use technology?

“30%” Syria Oil Production fall, Minister

Syria refugees find sanctuary in Libya

Taiwan

(PHOTO: Zimbabwe farmers tend their fields. IITA) Taiwan poll campaigns spark merchandise

New prevention policy needed for tuberculosis: medical expert

Renowned Taiwan Lantern Festival set to light up heavens on February 6

Taiwan monastery hopes to attract tourists to see Buddha's tooth

Tanzania

Diplomatic, Trade Row As Dar Blocks Ugandan Exports

Serengeti Investor Speeds Up Social and Economic Development

World Bank stresses improvement of public health facilities in Tanzania

Investor: Tanzania good for pay TV

Thailand

Thailand battles with post-flood clean-up (VIDEO)

Thailand wires up with free Wi-Fi

Thailand prepares to be cloud hub

Seventh Anniversary of Thailand's Boxing Day Tsunami (VIDEO)

Zimbabwean art show opens next week in Bangkok

The Arctic

NOAA issues draft study for Arctic Sea oil drilling

The Netherlands

The battle for free speech continues

Tonga

Tonga’s Speaker facing arrest when he returns to the country

Tunisia

First Community of Cyber-hackers Founded in Tunisia

Train Operators Join the National Wave of Strikes

New Islamic Tunisian TV Channel “Al Kalam” Announced

Douz: Gateway to The Desert

Air France launches new direct flights to Tunisia destination

Turkey

Tourists visiting Turkey hit 30 million this year, surpassing target

Turkey is the answer (Perspective)

Uganda

Man Groomed by Gorillas On Trek in Uganda

Activists oppose plan to build railway through national park

The Joys of a Christmas Celebration in the Village

A List of the Most Corrupt Would Help the Poor More (Perspective)

Time is now for Ugandans to rise against the cancer of corruption (Perspective)

Ukraine

Ukraine becomes the European capital of rabies

Russia, Ukraine do not envision gas war this year

Ukraine, Turkey sign visa-free travel agreement

United Arab Emirates

UAE pledges to bolster China-Arab trade relations

100 distressed overseas foreign workers in Abu Dhabi spend Christmas in shelter

UAE launches first association for policewomen in Arab world

Property market is being rebuilt in the UAE

Meet the UAE's Marathon Woman

Emirates Airline Launches U.S. TV Ad Campaign (VIDEO)

United Kingdom

UK businesses investing in social media for 2012

Morrissey named PETA UK Person of the Year

United States

U.S. population growth slows

America’s Best Kept Secret: Rising Suburban Poverty

U.S. gets holiday gift in the form of Occupy Wall Street (Perspective)

US needs to act as melting ice transforms Arctic (Perspective)

Uruguay

Uruguayan Economy Grows

Uzbekistan

No more panties in public eye in Uzbekistan

Venezuela

Venezuela: UN human rights experts voice alarm at extended detention of judge

Hugo Chávez claims that Venezuela's economic strengthening "is amazing"

Vietnam

Vietnam freezes oil product prices, eyes import tax on gasoline

Vietnam masterpieces in auction for the poor

New high-income consumers emerge in Vietnam

Endangered wildlife dealers arrested in southern Vietnam 

Virgin Islands

A windsurfing nightmare called Maho Beach

Western Sahara

U.S. foreign aid done right (Perspective)

Yemen

Yemen malnutrition data should "shock"

The Emergence of a New Political & Social Consciousness in Yemen (Perspective)

Zambia

Stray Dogs 'Besiege' Kapiri Mposhi, Spread Rabies

MTN Zambia deploys first solar-powered site

Zimbabwe

WFP buy local scheme helps farmers

Zimbabwe loses again on AIDS funding‏

Labour Law - Dilemma of New Employers

Friday
Dec232011

THE HUM - HEADLINES FROM THE GEOGRAPHIC GAP - 12/23/2011

Algeria 

Algeria Eyes 2.5 Million Tourists Per Year By 2015

(PHOTO: Marriott, 198 room hotel expected to open in 2014 in Setif) Courtyard by Marriott Announces Its Second Hotel in Algeria

Bhutan 

Health referral cost escalates

Cambodia 

Challenges Ahead as Cambodia Preps for Asean Presidency

Cambodian PM Pays Last Tribute to DPRK's Leader Kim Jong Il

MSF Steps Up Tuberculosis Support in Cambodia

Finding profit potential in the rich soil of Pailin

Digital content key to growth for Kingdom’s telecom firms (Perspective)

Central African Republic

CAR: UNSC extends mandate of UN office

Chile

Pinera Says Chile Will Be First Developed Latin America Nation

Christmas Island

(PHOTO: Kirimati, Christmas Island, NASA) Seen from Space: Christmas Island

Congo (DRC)

Congo Opposition Leader Ready To Take Oath Office, Says Adviser

Egypt

Meeting condones peaceful use of nuclear power for generating electricity

India

Much anticipated short film fest in Gauhati today

Kenya

Ebola fear strikes Kenya

Morocco

Snake Charmers, Old Markets and Friendly People

Myanmar

Myanmar to allow private mining in noted ruby area

Samoa

Samoa considers decriminalising female impersonations

Slovenia

Stay at a former military prison turned art hostel in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Suriname

Suriname, Fiji ink comminique at UN

UAE group to set up mint house in Suriname

Swaziland

Over 600 armed officers hunt ‘scarface’ in Swaziland

High tech ticketing system comes to SD

Switzerland

Concern as asylum seekers forced onto street

Revised CO2 law reflects uneasy compromise

Syria

Syrian company owner  molests Pinay, 2 other workers in UAE

Violence, sectarianism stalk Homs

Taiwan

PFP VP candidate to visit Bhutan in search of happiness

Tajikistan

Tajiks need more private investment to spur economy, WB says

Tanzania

Kindle, eBooks and the future of Tanzania’s poor readership

In Tanzania, two journalists charged with incitement

Police fail to charge Tanzania media boss

Thailand

Shipbuilding seeks revival

Junie Browning Finally Surrenders to Thailand Police

China signs currency swap deal with Thailand

Turks and Caicos

Sandals Foundation brings Christmas joy to TCI kids

TCI draws more than 1 million tourists in 2011

Togo

Togo to Receive Assistance to Better Manage Flood and Land Degradation Risks

Tokelau

Tokelauan New Zealanders get help to maintain language

Tonga

Tonga speaker at risk of arrest over bail breach

Investor embarks on beef plan

Trinidad and Tobago

Chicken prices will eventually go up

Key and ministers off to Oz

Turkmenistan

Native of Turkmenistan Oleg Kononenko in second space flight

Tunisia

New Tunisian premier names coalition government dominated by Islamists

American Children Kidnapped and Taken to Tunisia By Father

Turkey

Turkey: Post-Earthquake, How Easy to Stop Substandard Construction?

Tuvalu

The Tuvalu Drought: A Microcosm of Things to Come

Uganda

Don't Break Your Nails. Hire a Chef

Lazy Ugandan men face arrest

Ukraine

Ukraine will start 2012 in precarious condition

United Arab Emirates

Citizenship law for Emirati women sets good example

Young people spend nearly 10 hours a day online

United Kingdom

Sony - Netflix's U.K. Plans Undermined By Amazon Deal

England riots: all-night courts praised, but were they a publicity stunt? (Perspective)

United States

U.S. Population Grows at Slowest Rate Since 1940s

The U.S. Isn’t Into Social Networking as Much as You’d Think, and Females are Into It More Than Males

Uruguay

Uruguay Set to Invest in Its Dairy Farmers to Make Them More Green

Vanuatu

Vanuatu minister accused of making threats

Venezuela

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Calls Obama a 'Clown'

No more kumbaya

Malicious Spam Depicts Demise of Venezuela President

(PHOTO: Theresly Malavé, Venezuelan criminal defense lawyer & president of NGO Justicia y Proceso Venezuela (Venezuelan Justice & Process) & Jackeline Sandoval, the director of the Foundation for Due Process (Fundepro); Credit Gustavo Bandres)NGOs count 24 political prisoners in Venezuela

Vietnam

Vietnam fuel companies suspected of dodgy tax practices 

Wallis and Futuna Islands

Real Estate In Wallis And Futuna Islands Look Great

Western Sahara

Justice for Killing of Young Saharawi Boy Demanded

Yemen

Unrest puts child marriage issue on back burner

Yemen faces critical period to cement political settlement: UN envoy

Zambia

Zambia’s Free Education Policy to Benefit Poor

(PHOTO: Lusaka, Zambia; CREDIT: Jacqui Wintle; September 2011)Women farmers need funding in face of climate change says environment advocates

Zambia to host 200th David Livingstone celebrations

Zimbabwe

Women still marginalised in Zimbabwe

Blitz Triggers Transport Woes

Monday
Feb142011

“We’re Changing the Order of the Alphabet” (Report)

(HN, February 14, 2011, Las Vegas) – This was how Sebastian Kopulande, Chief Executive Officer of the Zambian International Trade and Investment Centre opened the historic first ever Africa-USA Business Executives Conference tonight in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The conference runs February 14th-15th.

For the first time, the city of Las Vegas, has welcomed hundreds of African business executives from countries such as Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Zambia for two days of meetings with their counterparts from the US, for the first-annual Africa - USA Business Executives Convention and Expo.

The conference is designed to explore and create relationships and alliances between business leaders of both continents, allowing them to meet investment partners in a dynamic and vibrant environment of panels and exhibits for the purpose of forming sustainable and capacity-building agribusiness partnerships locally, regionally and internationally.

Why Africa?  

“Many global commentators agree that this is the `African Century’.  For investors, this means an understanding of the available opportunities as well as offering the chance to develop meaningful relationships among those doing business together,” says Ted Alemayhu, Executive Chairman of the event.  

Five areas have been identified as being the most attractive for growth, namely agriculture, banking and finance, energy, telecommunications and aviation, travel and tourism. All will be featured at this year’s meeting.  

Realizing the need to go beyond discussing issues, ideas and strategies for increasing  livelihoods in Africa, the organizers say they are taking bold steps to not only learn how to “fish for our own food but to create partnerships to sell the fish”. 

(Chisokone Market, Kitwe. CREDIT Wikipedia)One of the most prominent delegations at the conference are the Zambians.

Zambia is one of the most highly urbanized countries in sub-Saharan Africa with 44% of the population concentrated in a few urban areas, the largest city being the capital Lusaka with more than 1 million people. Unemployment and underemployment are serious problems, while most rural Zambians are subsistence farmers. Yet, in 2010 The World Bank named Zambia as one of the worlds fastest economically reforming countries.

The Zambian economy has historically been based on the copper mining industry, yet attendees here say they are interested in talking about issues such as solar power, farming (agriculture) and financial services.     

Over the past 30 years the infrastructure in Zambia has been crumbling and the government is seeking not only new investment from the likes of Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse and Societe Generale - who are all here too - but also from the entrepreneurial Diaspora Zambian community here in the US to help make their homeland a star in the African growth landscape.

This element is so important in fact that the central Zambian government has set up a special office as a representative from the President’s office to the Diaspora community, and given the community a full time staff member.  

The country has sent 54 people from Zambia to the first of its kind gathering. More than 50 other people who now live in other countries around the world - such as Belgium, the UK and Canada, and the US - have also come to see how they can be a part of `making Z the first letter of the alphabet’ as Angel Mondoloka, Chief Operating Officer of the Zambian International Trade and Investment Centre, says.

(Nkana Copper Mine. CREDIT Wikipedia)“We are lucky that the previous President Levy Mwanawasa began intensive business reforms in our country before his death (in 2008),” said Mondoloka. “This is our future and we are going to make it happen with smart investment, and entrepreneurship”.   

The conference is serving as a matchmaker between small and medium sized businesses in Africa, US counterparts, and investment firms.  Participants were asked to submit proposals before the convention began so they could be matched with the most appropriate contacts.

Patrick Kolata, who had travelled from Lusaka, wanted to create a solar power business and has been matched with a solar panel manufacturer. He said, “We have had to learn as Africans to be resourceful, now we want to be cutting edge entrepreneurs. Solar power will be a big industry for us in our future.”

He finished by saying, “We’re ready!”

The formal panels and business expo begin later today.

--HUMNEWS staff

Tuesday
Jan182011

Social Media Boom Takes Off in Africa (Feature)

By André-Michel Essoungou

In the mid-1990s, as the use of mobile phones started its rapid spread in much of the developed world, few thought of Africa as a potential market.Increasing numbers of young people on the continent - such as these Egyptian women - are using mobile technologies to access social media tools on the Internet. CREDIT: ITU

Now, with more than 400 million subscribers, its market is larger than North America's. Africa took the lead in the global shift from fixed to mobile telephones, notes a report by the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Rarely has anyone adopted mobile phones faster and with greater innovation (see A bank in every African pocket?, Better health at the click of a button).

A similar story now seems again to be unfolding. Africans are coupling their already extensive use of cell phones with a more recent and massive interest in social media — Internet-based tools and platforms that allow people to interact with each other much more than in the past. In the process, Africans are leading what may be the next global trend: a major shift to mobile Internet use, with social media as its main drivers.

According to Mary Meeker, an influential Internet analyst, mobile Internet and social media are the fastest-growing areas of the technology industry worldwide, and she predicts that mobile Internet use will soon overtake fixed Internet use.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube in Africa

Studies suggest that when Africans go online (predominantly with their mobile phones) they spend much of their time on social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and so on). Sending and reading e-mails, reading news and posting research queries have become less important activities for Africans.

In recent months Facebook — the major social media platform worldwide and currently the most visited website in most of Africa — has seen massive growth on the continent. The number of African Facebook users now stands at over 17 million, up from 10 million in 2009. More than 15 per cent of people online in Africa are currently using the platform, compared to 11 per cent in Asia. Two other social networking websites, Twitter and YouTube, rank among the most visited websites in most African countries.

Along with regular citizens, African stars, thinkers, political leaders and companies have rapidly joined the global conversation. The Facebook fan base of Côte d'Ivoire's football star and UN goodwill ambassador Didier Drogba is more than 1 million people. Zambian best-selling author and economist Dambisa Moyo has more than 26,000 followers on Twitter. Media organizations in South Africa and companies such as Kenya Airways are using various social media platforms to interact better with customers and readers. During recent elections in Côte d'Ivoire candidates did not only tour cities and villages; they also moved the contest online, feverishly posting campaign updates on Twitter and Facebook.

Africa's upward trend in the use of social media is even more striking given the low number of Africans connected to the Internet and the many hurdles Africans face in trying to go online.

Tremendous Room for Growth in Africa

Africa's Internet users (more than 100 million at the end of 2010) represent just a small percentage of the 2 billion people online around the world. In the US alone, more than 220 million people use the Internet. Within Africa, one person out of every 10 is estimated to be an Internet user (up from one in 5,000 back in 1998), making the continent the region in the world with the lowest penetration rate.

Even young Africans are taking to mobile phones and social media. CREDIT: ITUAmong the many reasons for this poor showing are the scarcity and prohibitive costs of broadband connections (the fastest means of accessing the Internet), and the limited number of personal computers in use.

But these challenges simultaneously contribute to Africa's impressive growth rate in the use of mobile Internet, which in recent years has been the highest in the world.

"Triple-digit growth rates are routine across the continent," notes Jon von Tetzchner, co-founder of Opera, the world's most popular Internet browser for mobile phones. "The widespread availability of mobile phones means that the mobile Web can reach tens of millions more than the wired Web." Mr. Tetzchner believes that like mobile phones, whose use has grown rapidly in Africa in recent years, the "mobile Web is beginning to reshape the economic, political and social development of the continent."

‘Seismic shift’ coming

Erik Hersman, a prominent African social media blogger and entrepreneur who helped drive development of the ground-breaking platform Ushahidi, is equally enthusiastic. In an e-mail to Africa Renewal he notes that "with mobile phone penetration already high across the continent, and as we get to critical mass with Internet usage in some of Africa's leading countries (Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt) … a seismic shift will happen with services, products and information."

The sense that the future holds more promise is inducing major companies to show special interest in Africa's expanding pool of Internet users. Facebook, after launching versions in some of the major African languages (including Swahili, Hausa and Zulu) in May, has announced it will offer free access to its platform to mobile phone users in various countries around the world, including many in Africa. In October Google started testing a new service for Swahili speakers in East and Central Africa. Tentatively called Baraza ("meeting place" in Swahili), it will allow people to interact and share knowledge by asking and answering questions, many of them of only very local or regional interest.

Africans are also getting ready to benefit from the fast-growing mobile Internet sector. In South Africa, MXit, a free instant messaging application with an estimated 7 million users, is the most popular local social networking platform. From Abidjan and Accra to Lusaka and Nairobi, African programmers are designing, testing and launching new homegrown platforms and tools to keep the African online conversation going.

- United Nations Africa Renewal

Friday
Oct292010

(HEADLINES) - October 29, 2010 - AFRICA

ALGERIA

(CREDIT: Tunisia Online) The 3rd congress of the Arab Women Organisation was held on Thursday afternoon in Tunis

ANGOLA

Angola at launching of Africa’s Food Security Day

Angola hosts fashion, beauty expo

BENIN

Benin: UN emergency flight arrives with aid for flood victims

BOTSWANA

Celebrating Botswana's amazing one-hit wonders

Flood victims cry out for help(CREDIT: MMEGI ONLINE)

Khama declares war on poverty

Fires in Botswana (PHOTO)

BURKINA FASO

Honesty must be predominant in social change (opinion)

CAMEROON

Transparency International launches Launches Corruption Perception Index @Cameroon Center

US$19.2 million IFAD loan to Cameroon to improve food security in rural areas

Cholera kills 550 in Cameroon

Cameroon Counts Over 93,000 Business Companies

CAPE VERDE

Atlantic sea turtle population threatened by egg infection

Cape Verde gets Africa's first giant wind farm(CREDIT: Afrol.com)

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Support for National Efforts Vital As UN Leaves, Says Secretary-General

COMOROS

Al-Rumaihi's Statement on Arab Committee for Development in the Comoros

Research and Markets: 3Q10 Comoros Mobile Operator Forecast, 2010 - 2014

Comoros Ambassador to Tehran Encourages Iranian Traders to Invest in Comoros

DJIBOUTI

Book Review: Elmore Leonard Takes His Crime-Writing Skills to ‘Djibouti’

Djibouti Food Security Outlook October 2010

Research and Markets: 3Q10 Djibouti Mobile Operator Forecast, 2010 - 2014

EQUATORIAL GUINEA

African women primed for big stage

ERITREA

Yemen, Eritrea summit boosting joint cooperation

Modern Machineries-Backed Crop Harvesting Underway in Dekemhare Sub-Zone

GABON

Gabon and Chinese in manganese project

UN to Open Conflict Prevention Office in Gabon

Korea, Gabon hold talks on energy cooperation

THE GAMBIA

Soldiers told to take proactive role in national development

Gambia to set up Science, Technology Park

GHANA

Iran's foreign minister flies to Ghana

Gov't Releases Funds To Control Black Flies

GUINEA

Guinea sets date for poll second round

GUINEA-BISSAU

UNDP to back civil society projects in Guinea-Bissau

Guinea Bissau to create more mangroves, parks by 2012

LIBERIA

WFP Supports Food Security in Liberia

Carbon Fraud Report Links Many

LIBYA

Chavez, Gaddafi meet in Libya to build power among global "south"

African Development Bank Launches First Project in Libya

MADAGASCAR

Parasite infects poor women's reproductive organs

MALAWI

Malawi: no longer begging

Sex for work at Labour offices

MALI

Mali: Restructuring Agriculture

Weather forecasting helps Mali farmers adapt to climate change

Cuba: Alarcon Meets with Mali Parliamentary Leader

MAURITANIA

Mauritania unveils counter-terrorism plan

Orangutans And Monk Seals Among Species To Benefit From Spain-Backed Conservation Boost

MAYOTTE

Coral deaths reach Mayotte, Comoros

MOZAMBIQUE

Child Registration Campaign

Nippon Steel to acquire interest in Mozambique coal project

Eight Detained for Cholera Disinformation

Central Bank of India to open branch in Mozambique

NAMIBIA

Coca Cola Happiness Ambassadors land in Namibia

NIGER

Niger to vote on constitution; critics question vote's significance months after military coup

South Korea to cooperate with Niger on nuclear energy

RWANDA

Hero of 'Hotel Rwanda' is declared enemy of the state

SAO TOME & PRINCIPE

World Bank to support state budget of Sao Tome and Principe

SEYCHELLES

Seychelles, from recession to new boom

SOMALIA

New radio show features Somali language

U.S. slips in corruption index, Somalia worst

SUDAN

Sudan’s Last Chance for Durable Peace

SWAZILAND

Swaziland Railway employees petition CEO

TANZANIA

Tanzania Teachers Start Second Taarab Workshop in Comoros

TOGO

21 dead in Togo as floods ravage west Africa

WESTERN SAHARA

Western Sahara: the difficult mission of Christopher Ross

Call for the protection of rock paintings of the desert

ZAMBIA

H.E joins London Mayor to Celebrate Africa @50

AFRICA GENERAL:

Africa's election Super Sunday

Bharti Airtel to establish call centers across Africa

Witchcraft in Africa a complex dilemma

WHO Launches Massive Polio Eradication Campaign 

All Afrika Expedition against malaria kicks off

Cholera continues to be deadly epidemic in most countries

Is the US backing governments who employ child war fighters? (opinion)

Cable exclusive: The secret Obama administration memo on child soldiers

4 African countries, 15 others join ECOSOC

Africa: from North to South, the economy is recovering

Two wheels to a better life in Africa

Wednesday
Sep082010

(REPORT/INTERVIEW) "Reading is FUN-damental" - Twitter partners with Room to Read on World Literacy Day

PHOTO: Room to Read, India (HN, September 8, 2010) – Can you read this? 

Wehn yuo cnnaot raed, noe hruendd ftory ccrhaetars maen noinhtg. Hlep ptoorme goalbl latceriy:  http://t.co/W5UTbuB

Today, September 8th is the 35th anniversary of World Literacy Day.  Adopted in 1965, this year’s theme organized by UNESCO (the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) celebrate’s women’s empowerment through literacy and pays tribute to the women and men who work behind the scenes who help others acquire literacy skills.

One in five adults worldwide - 796 million - lack minimum literacy skills (reading and writing); with two-thirds of those being women and girls accounting for more than half of the 67.4 million out-of-school children globally.

Literacy rates are comparatively, a cause for celebration and the world has made progress since 1965 with now close to 4 billion literate people in the world.  However, literacy for all – children, youth and adults - is still a goal ahead to achieve.

In 2003, the United Nations proclaimed the ten years until 2012 the “United Nations Literacy Decade”, and has put literacy and education front and center as `Millennium Development Goal Number 2’ to be accomplished by 2015.  

A basic education equips children with literacy skills for life and the ability to learn further and grow intellectually.  Literate parents are more likely to send children to school and literate people are better able to access continuing, higher education; and jobs.  In today’s 21st century, `later literacy’ also means experience and understanding with digital languages and technologies but reading and writing remain the fundamental building blocks for development.  

The International Literacy Day global celebrations today focus on the transformation literacy can bring to women’s lives and those in their families, communities and societies and on the people and efforts who help them get there, such as the international organization `Room to Read’.

PHOTO: Erin Ganju, Room to Read`Room to Read’ was founded by former Microsoft executive John Wood, with co-Founders Erin Ganju and Dinesh Shrestha.  This year the organization celebrated its 10 year anniversary with the opening of its 10,000th library in Nepal; where the effort first began.   After a vacation to Nepal in 1999 allowed Wood to witness first-hand the country’s lack of educational resources, he and his co-founders launched a book drive for one school, and turned that one-time act of kindness into the basis of inspiration for a global education movement.  

Over the last decade, `Room to Read’ has increased its work exponentially to impact over four million children in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Zambia through its worldwide network of more than 1,000 schools and 10,000 libraries filled with over 7 million children’s books. 

The organization works in collaboration with local communities, partner organizations and governments, and has empowered children with increased access to high-quality educational opportunities – including 10,000 girls this year who are attending school on scholarship.  

Known also for its innovation in technology and marketing, `Room to Read’ (@roomtoread) became Twitter’s first Corporate Social Responsibility partner last year creating a joint project to create `Fledgling’ wine (@fledgling) - a year-long first-of-its-kind social winemaking project in collaboration with the Napa Valley vineyard Crushpad. The Fledgling wines, a Pinor Noir and a Chardonnay, will benefit `Room to Read's’ literacy programs in India and will launch to the market on September 25. 

Additionally, Twitter and `Room to Read’ have teamed up on this International Literacy Day in order to show the world what someone who cannot read see’s, when they look at a page of words.  The `Hope 140’ effort will show viewers the scrambled message you see at the beginning of this article, and then unscramble the message to show the true words. 

"With the International Literacy Day campaign, we are asking the average Twitter user to experience, just for a minute, the disempowerment that one in five people in this world experience due to illiteracy," said John Wood. "Room to Read' is galvanizing a global movement to solve this critical issue and through Twitter's worldwide platform, we aim to not only raise awareness but to instigate action." 

On the `Hope 140’ page you’ll also find ways to buy `Fledgling’ wine, as well as how to donate to Room to Read’s publishing program which has created 433 children's books in 22 local languages and distributes them throughout its library network in Asia and Africa.  In honor of International Literacy Day and throughout September, `Room to Read’ will be producing the book "Unjani" or "How Are You," an original South African children's book written in Xhosa and English and a donation will be matched by a Room to Read donor.

So today, HUMNEWS, Room to Read and Twitter ask you to tweet for literacy and help others around the world to achieve the basic skill of reading - which can change people’s lives, forever.

Because if you can’t read this “Wehn yuo cnnaot raed, noe hruendd ftory ccrhaetars maen noinhtg. Hlep ptoorme goalbl latceriy:   http://t.co/W5UTbuB” – there is still a long way to go to total world literacy.

==============================================================================================================

PHOTO: John Wood, Room to ReadINTERVIEW WITH JOHN WOOD, Founder of Room to Read and author of the highly-acclaimed book,Leaving Microsoft to Change the World”.

Q:  10 years on in Room to Read for you John. What is the most important thing you've learned about the world as you've been building Room to Read 

John:  Ten years ago, when I delivered that first load of books to children in Nepal, I had no idea that we’d be at the point we are today – impacting the lives of five million children and on track to double that by 2015. The big lesson for me is to dream big and share that dream with incredibly passionate, qualified and hardworking people to make that dream a reality. That’s what Room to Read is all about – we went from a handful of supporters (mainly friends and family) to a network of thousands around the globe.

Children’s education is an issue that crosses borders and resonates with people in every corner of the world – and it’s incredible that Room to Read is the convergence point as we lead a global movement to provide every child with the ability to attend school and learn to read.

Q:  Room to Read was Twitter's first corporate social innovation sponsor.  Talk about before Twitter, and after Twitter.  How has this, helped Room to Read better achieve its goals of literacy?

John:  Twitter has become a great vehicle to help us engage with our supporters and spread our message and mission to an even wider audience. Room to Read’s Twitter account (@RoomtoRead) already has close to 450,000 followers and with the 315,000 people following me @johnwoodRtR, together  we’re reaching almost half a million people around the world on a daily basis – which is outstanding! Many of the our  40+ volunteer chapter network around the world also maintain their own Twitter accounts – so we’re definitely getting the word out there.

Twitter’s unique format enables us as an organization to provide real-time updates and information to supporters – without greatly taxing our resources. We use it to thank our supporters and partners, give shout-outs to other organizations, and just to keep the Room to Read message alive and fresh.

We were also fortunate enough to be chosen by Twitter as their first corporate social innovation partner and because of that we’ve had the opportunity to experiment with creative ways to use the platform. In fact, for International Literacy Day on September 8, we have worked with Twitter to develop a creative way for people to understand the concept of literacy and what it’s like for the 776 million people in the world who still can’t read. At the same time, we’re asking the social network community to help support the publication of a new children’s book for the children of South Africa.

I truly believe that simply by getting the message out across the globe, we’ll rally more and more supporters in our battle against illiteracy – and Twitter is an incredibly platform that allows us to do just that.

Q: R2R has an intense focus on results, talk about how running an efficient and stable business, helps to achieve your goals for reading, literacy and education worldwide?

John:  We started Room to Read with some important basic business principles – that we would be efficient, accountable and results-driven. I strongly believe it’s necessary to take the best of the business world and combine it with the best of the NGO world – in fact, I tell our team that we want to run Room to Read with the compassion of Mother Teresa but the focus and tenacity of a blue-chip company.  

I don’t believe in the model of an NGO spending up to 40 cents of each dollar on administration and fund-raising. So, we keep our overhead low and run a tight ship. We do creative things, like getting our board members to donate frequent flier miles, and having volunteers in 40+ cities raise about a third of our annual budget. There are many small steps that together add up to create a very efficient organization. So, what you get when you make a donation to Room to Read is a very direct, very tangible result. We tell donors exactly how much it costs to build a school, publish children’s book, establish a library or to support a year of a girls’ education. In the long term, education in the developing world has been proven to be the best ticket out of poverty, so an investment in this area yields amazing long-term benefits.

Q: How does technology play a role in how you conduct business and measure results?

John:  It’s incredible how quickly technology evolves and allows us new and creative ways to communicate with our supporters. Using social media has enabled us to have instant access to millions of potential supporters across the globe – we can directly engage with them on a regular basis and develop a real connection more easily share our work across the globe and directly engage with people.

We also actively use technology to develop and track our programs as well. With Salesforce licenses generously donated by the Salesforce.com Foundation since 2007, we have built what we call our Global Solutions Database (GSD) that tracks all of our projects in nine countries as well as our operations in the global office. It’s the Room to Read mega-reference – which is key, because keeping results in key to our organization. Every project established by Room to Read across our nine countries is tracked in the system – we track implementation timeline, number of students and teachers, percentage of community contribution, etc.  The information collected helps guide our monitoring and evaluation team’s efforts, so we know if we need to boost our work in certain areas.  This information is then also used to provide more detailed information to our donors so that we can directly connect them to the project they’re supporting -- and in doing so, we keep our them excited about our work.

Q:  Can you talk about the importance of your local language education programs and books? Why was it important for teaching and learning?

John:  When we started building libraries we soon realized that many of the children’s books in our libraries weren’t being used by the children – most of them were in English, which is not the primary language for most of the students. At that point, we decided to develop our Local Language Publishing program, to produce and distribute books in local languages. The books are written by local authors, many of whom attend our writers’ workshops, and are illustrated by local artists. We also publish the books locally, so in addition to providing books for the children, we’re helping to support the local economy.

Many of our books have won prestigious awards – but more importantly, they are incredibly popular and effective tools in teaching children to read. Not only is the language something the children can understand, but the stories and illustrations are culturally relevant and speak to the children’s life experience.

Q:  Helping children get the habit...how easy is that?  And what have you heard years on, about how this simple act, changes their lives? 

John:  I believe children have an inherent desire to learn, so if you give them the tools and the right guidance, they can’t wait! With our focus being now more directed on literacy and gender equality in education, we’re developing new programs to teach reading more effectively so that it does become a skill and a habit for millions of children. Our teams in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal are already having great success in the pilot phases of their literacy programs, so we have high expectations to see literacy rates jump dramatically in the next several years.

How does reading change a child’s life? This is probably most dramatically illustrated when you talk about educating girls. No offense to my gender – but it is amply documented that when you educate women you have spillover effects to the next generation which are substantially larger.  When you educate a woman, you educate the next generation and all subsequent generations.

There is an increase in health and nutrition for the whole family, higher income levels for the woman and overall improvement in the quality of life for a community. For only $250, you support a girls’ education for one year. I believe that’s the best investment one can make when trying to effect global change.

Q:  What's next for R2R and for you?

John:  For the organization, Room to Read's long-term goal is to help over ten million children to gain the lifelong gift of education by the year 2015.  We’re well on our way to meet this goal – by the end of 2010, we’ll have impacted the lives of over five million children. But we’re also looking to increase the quality of education through improved teacher training and additional materials – we want the educational opportunity to be the best it can be. We’re also looking to expand our Girls’ Education program and provide even more life skill training – girls thrive when they’re allowed to develop self confidence and academic skills – and we want them to go out and conquer the world!

Geographically, we’re looking to add programs in Africa fairly soon and have been researching opportunities in Central America as well. The sad fact is that there is a long list of countries ripe for Room to Read, but we have to be sure we have our resources in place before we take the next leap – but we’ll get there!

As for me, this is it!  I want to see to it that Room to Read meets its goal of reaching 10 million children within the next five years. This is the hardest I’ve ever worked, but it’s also the happiest I’ve ever been, and I can’t imagine doing anything else! Every morning, I feel like the luckiest person alive because I get to make a difference in the lives of children

Saturday
Jun192010

In Selling World Cup Tickets, FIFA Belatedly Grasped Realities of Africa (Updated June 20)

(HN, June 19, 2010) -- Alhassan Rano is technologically advanced compared to the average resident of Nigeria’s Kano state. With an advanced laptop and Nokia phone - and with accounts on Gmail and Facebook - he is able to communicate with the outside world with ease.Two boys blowing on the iconic vuvuzela at a public fan park in Soweto

But with 20-plus hours of daily power outages and dial-up connectivity speeds, it’s often a challenge to surf the web, let alone attempt online shopping. Moreover, the health worker has no credit card to divert part of his meager wages to online shopping.

When FIFA announced that the first-ever World Cup to be held on the African continent would be in South Africa in June 2010, soccer-crazed Africans greeted the news with a collective glee. Many - like Alhassan - dreamed of traveling to the wealthiest country in Africa to catch some of the matches.

Tickets for the World Cup 2010 first went on sale on February 20, 2009, followed by four additional sales phases.

Speak to most Southern Africans and the common refrain is that FIFA “didn't take into account the needs of the locals,” as put by Mboni, a young male soccer fan from Johannesburg who spoke to HUMNEWS today at a mostly empty public fan park in the centre of town.

Despite pronouncements by South African FIFA organizing chief Danny Jordaan that “we want this to be a World Cup for Africa,” selling tickets almost exclusively online froze many Africans out of the action and out of the stadiums.  According to Internet World Stats, Internet penetration in Africa was only 6.7% in the second quarter of 2009 - compared to a worldwide average of 24.7%.

Even in host country, South Africa, there are less than 5-million Internet users in a country with a population of almost 50-million.

Aside from the difficulty of obtaining even one of the some 3-million tickets made available - many matches sold out within hours - the cost of intra-Africa flights (a weekend flight to Johannesburg clocks in at $2600) and accommodation in South Africa would have made a trip to the World Cup out of the question for someone like Alhassan in Nigeria.

Indeed, at Saturday's matches with teams from Cameroon and Ghana, few fans from either country were visible in the stands, even with sizeable Diaspora communities in Johannesburg.

Not being able to afford World Cup tickets is not limited to out-of-towners. Many expatriates in South African complain of ticket prices as high as $900 (for the Category One final) - IF they are available. Those with resident cards have had access to as many as 15,000 discounted tickets - some as low as about $20.

One Johannesburg-based business writer said that even in South Africa, credit cards are out of reach of millions. Those who have them either distrust submitting their credit card details or do not know how to use online purchasing. “We are about as inclined to give our credit card details as going to live on the moon,” she said.

While the several fan parks in host cities have become popular free venues to take in the games via huge screens, some fans say FIFA didn’t take into account that the World Cup would be taking place in winter. Indeed, this evening, there were only a hand full of fans at the free fan park in Newtown in Johannesburg - many driven away by temperatures hovering around freezing.

One retired resident of Soweto told HUMNEWS that, with a pension of only about $150-a-month, there was no way he could afford tickets to any of the games. "If I take 150 Rand out of the 1,000 Rand I don’t have anything left for essentials,” he said.

Many tickets were put onto the local market closer to the opening day of the World Cup, but by then it was too late for many South Africans. “We have a tendency to leave things to the last minute,” said Mboni. “It’s hard to change plans at the last minute.”

--Reporting and photo by HUMNEWS staff, Johannesburg, SA