Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
It was a just another seminar on transparency in the oil sector. Seemingly banal.
But this was being held in Khartoum, involving live debates between northern and southern Sudanese officials, a minerals watchdog and the international media, who were allowed free access to publicly grill those who administer what has for years been an incredibly opaque oil industry.
What emerged was surprisingly positive and all walked away feeling that — at least until the Jan. 9, 2011 referendum on southern independence — this was the first step towards finally unpicking all the stitches that have sewn the sector tightly shut to outsiders.
We are “PR stupid” said the newly appointed Minister for Energy from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, Lual Deng, who instigated the forum.
Dawn was breaking and wisps of mist rising through the dense trees as wildlife expert and author Gareth Patterson and I set off into the forest, in search of one of the last remaining elephants of South Africa’s Knysna forests.
The Knysna forest, an expanse of 121,000 hectares of forest managed by South African National Parks, is home to the last remnants of the once abundant herds of Cape Bush elephants that inhabited the Southern Cape.
Kenya’s Maasai warriors are known for being fearless lion killers but times have changed and the country’s lion’s population is in danger of being wiped out. Now the Maasai in southern Kenya are taking part in an initiative to preserve the big cats.
For thousands of years the Maasai co-existed with huge herds of wildlife. Their lion-killing rituals kept down the number of lions preying on the game while their fearsome reputation as warriors kept the herds safe from other humans. The result, Kenya’s wildlife heritage is a wonder of the modern world.
After a decade of rampant destruction of the Mau forest water catchment in western Kenya, the country’s coalition government seems firmly united in trying to save the complex before more serious damage is inflicted on the economy.
U.N. officials say this is no longer simply an environmental issue but something that has huge importance for the whole country. Already two of the top three foreign exchange earners — tourism and tea — are feeling the impact of falling water levels which have also forced the postponement of a major hydro-electric project.
Few people from the outside world come this way.
Most foreign and local holidaymakers heading for the popular Lamu Islands prefer to fly rather than use the road.