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African Startups Win FinTech for Agriculture 2015 Competition

Two African startups have emerged winners of a regional competition organised by Village Capital:

Village Capital today announced the first winners of its innovative program, East Africa: FinTech for Agriculture 2015. The program supports entrepreneurs in making financial services more affordable and accessible for smallholder farmers and other underbanked individuals in East Africa. It is supported by the DOEN Foundation, The MasterCard Foundation, and Duncan Goldie-Scot.

Over 65% of Sub-Saharan Africans do not use financial institutions or mobile money accounts to save or borrow money. Access to financial services can be especially difficult for smallholder farmers, often far from a financial access point. Furthermore, many promising early-stage entrepreneurs addressing this issue cannot find the resources they need to get off the ground.

Village Capital East Africa: FinTech for Agriculture 2015 provided these resources to 12 high-potential, early-stage entrepreneurs from across East Africa. The program also supported them through business development training, mentorship, and opportunities to meet potential customers and pitch to investors. At the end of the 12-week program, the entrepreneur-participants ranked each other on six criteria, and chose two companies to each receive a 50,000 USD investment. The two top peer-ranked companies are:

Atikus Insurance (Rwanda); expands access to credit by increasing the capacity of MSME lenders via reimagined insurance and technology risk solutions.

Farmerline (Ghana, expanding to East Africa); provides accurate and timely agricultural information to farmers and also provides technology to stakeholders to work better.

Ugandan Peace Advocate Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

This is Uganda (ThisIs256) is a platform of talented writers from Uganda who are determined to write positive stories about their country, banishing stories about poverty porn, hunger, Ebola, and tribalism, among others. They seek to represent an authentic, reflective, honest, and objectively balanced study about Uganda that you will never find anywhere else in mainstream western media.

Their latest story is about Victor Ochen, a former internally displaced person who was nominated by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker social justice organisation, for the Nobel Peace Prize.

In the past, AFSC nominated Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King Jr., and US President Jimmy Carter, who all became winners. The organisation unsuccessfully nominated Mahatma Gandhi, who never won the Nobel Peace Prize, although he was nominated five times between 1937 and 1948.

Ochen, 33, founded the African Youth Initiative Network, based in Lira, Uganda, in 2005, which works in medical rehabilitation of victims of burnings, mutilations of all kinds, rape, and psychological torture as well as promotes youth leadership. It has grown to become an international network of medical professionals who help victims rebuild their homes and livelihoods. According to This is Uganda:

What Victor did out of sheer compassion added him to this prestigious list. As a teenager in Abia camp that was home of over 40,000 people, he formed a peace club with his peers in the camp. This initiative angered the elders “Why are you talking about peace that you have never seen?” He was enterprising; he risked his life to burn charcoal to raise his school fees. Then later he joined secondary school and could barely afford time to do his charcoal business so he became a cobbler, he used to repair shoes of kids at school. One day he landed a big job of mending the shoes of the school football team, unfortunately that money was stolen. His hard work and favor from the teachers saw him through high school

Victor’s heart was home even when he worked with straight talk foundation in Kampala, interacting with the people in the field made him realize that the people of northern Uganda wanted more than hand outs but wanted and deserved more. That is when he left his job and started the African youth initiative Network. This initiative mobilizes communities especially the youth to pursue peace and human rights, reconciliation. They offer psychosocial support to the former victims of conflict, most of who suffer severe emotional pain and struggle with forgiveness, they have also supported over 5000 people with reconstructive surgeries especially the women whose lips were cut off, the initiative also supports income generating activities, have formed 100 peace clubs in schools and universities in northern Uganda and over 6000 young people have gone through the peace building and transitional justice programme.

Watch Out for MozFest East Africa 2015

MozFestEA will take place from July 17th – 19th 2015, at Victoria University, Kampala, Uganda under the theme,“Building solutions for Africa's challenges, together on the web”:

MozFest East Africa is an annual event that brings together educators, innovators, learners and makers from East Africa and beyond to share experiences and build the web together laying a foundation for growth of the internet and information technology in Africa.

The event is exponentially spreading across Africa to help address the technological challenges faced in the African continent through meaningful collaborations.

Being a Member of Parliament in Uganda is a Lucrative Business

It is a very lucrative business to be a legislator in Uganda as Prudence explains:

Friends, being a Member of Parliament in Uganda is good business.

All you need to do is buy your way into the August House with a few sachets of salt, pieces of soap, some sugar and pledges to your local church. Make sure that you have your academic papers right because when your opponent discovers that your qualifications are found wanting, this is one reason you will be kicked out.

In this job, you will be paid huge amounts of money every month regardless of whether you attend sessions or your are in your farm tending to your cattle, you will travel abroad with fine Per Diem, you can keep quiet in parliamentary sessions , play solitaire on your iPad or take a good afternoon nap – relax no one will hold you accountable.

Biofortified Bananas for Beta Carotene Deficiency

Félix Moronta Barrios is a Venezuelan biologist who spreads scientific culture among Spanih speaking community. He recently explained the researches and biotechnologic findongs about transgenic bananas in Uganda and the United States.

The banane cultivated in Uganda has no A vitamin. That's why its modification is necessary. Moronta Barrios warns the skeptical:

Antes de que piensen cosas como “natural es mejor”, “otra vez los científicos jugando a ser dios”, “lo modificado genéticamente es malo malísimo”, etc, etc, etc. sepan que la transgénesis también ocurre naturalmente, como expliqué aquí. Que el plátano, banana o cambur que consumimos hoy en día es un invento humano, tal como explica Ciencia de Sofá en “El oscuro pasado de los plátanos“. Y para que no termine ahí la sorpresa, les cuento que es un alimento radiactivo por su alto contenido en potasio; tanto, que camiones cargados de plátanos hacen saltar las alarmas en algunas aduanas. Incluso hay una unidad de medida al respecto, la dosis equivalente a un plátano.

Before you think of things such as “natural is best”, “again scientists playing God”, “genetically modified is not good”, etc, you better know that transgenesis goes on naturally, as explained here. The bananas we eat are human creation, as stated by Ciencia de Sofá on “The dark past of bananas“. And for more surprises, let me tell you this is a radiactive fruit, due to its high content of potasium. So much that banana trucks start the alarms in some customs control. There even is a measuring unit about that, the dose equivalent to a banana.

For updates about biology and biotechnology by an expert written in Spanish with a simple language, visit the blog by Felix Moronta or follow his tweets on morontafelix.

This post was part of the eleventh #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on July 14, 2014.

Why Rwanda Accuses France of Aiding 1994 Genocide

As Rwanda pays tribute to the victims of the genocide 20 years after the tragedy, President Kagame states again that France must “face up to the difficult truth” of its role in the 1994 genocide [fr]. As a result of this statement, France has pulled out of the commemorative events and former Foreign Affairs Minister of France demands that president Hollande defends the Honor of France and its army.  Rémi Noyon at French site Rue 89 lists the reasons why Rwanda accuses again France of aiding the genocide [fr] :

 1) La France va « de facto » prendre le commandement de l’armée rwandaise face au rebelles du Front patriotique rwandais (FPR).

2) La France craint alors que l’offensive tutsi ne soit télécommandée via l’Ouganda par les Anglo-saxons, et ne vise à enfoncer un coin dans l’influence de la France sur la région

3) La France ne semble pas s’intéresser outre mesure aux négociations de paix.

4) Les soldats n’embarquent pas le personnel tutsi présent à l’ambassade de France (sauf une personne). Ils seront tous massacrés.

5) Quant à l’opération Turquoise, elle continue à diviser : elle a certainement permis de sauver des vies tutsi, mais l’armée est accusée d’être restée passive – et donc complice – face aux atrocités.

1) France commanded some branches of the Rwandan army against the rebels of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

2) France feared that the Tutsi offensive was remotely piloted via Uganda by anglophone countries and was intended to drive a wedge into the influence of France in the region. 

3) France did not seem overly interested in peace negotiations before the conflict.

4) The soldiers did not evacuate any  of the Tutsi staff present at the Embassy of France (except for one person). They ended all being killed.

5) As for Operation Turquoise, it continues to divide: it certainly saved Tutsi lives, but the army is accused of having remained passive – and therefore was accomplice – to the atrocities.

 

 

Digging into Uganda's Anti-homosexuality Bill

Kristoff Titeca looks beyond a single explanation on Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill:

A crucial point is that President Museveni has never been an outspoken supporter of the bill, instead being rather dubious about it: he was fully aware of the disastrous international consequences. In his first public reaction after the introduction of the bill, he argued how it did “not represent the party of government position” and how “Uganda cannot risk its foreign policy by allowing the Bill to pass in its current form”. In the following years, the bill was weakened and consistently shelved, (in 2009, 2011 and 2013), until it reappeared on 20th December 2013, when it was passed by parliament.

After its passing, Museveni continued to pursue an ambiguous position: he claimed how the bill was passed without his consultation, and in a rushed manner, by a small number of MPs led by speaker Kadaga. This had then forced him to look further into the matter. In his interviews and statements, Museveni has consistently focused on two issues: On the recruitment of homosexuals (and related with this, the ‘recruited’, those who become homosexuals for ‘mercenary reasons’), and secondly, ‘exhibitionism’ of homosexual behavior. In doing so, he left a loophole, being that there was a possibility that certain people were ‘born homosexual (…) rare deviations in nature from the normal’. In doing so, he could both satisfy the domestic constituency – he was criticizing homosexuals – but also the international constituency, by leaving this loophole open. For example, even after announcing that he was going to sign the bill, in a response to Obama’s criticism, Museveni argued how he encouraged the US government to provide evidence that some people are born homosexual, which would then allow him to review the legislation.

RESULTS: Uganda's First Ever Social Media Awards

The first ever Uganda Social Media Awards (SMAs) took place on 15 November 2013 at The Hub, Oasis Mall in Kampala, Uganda.

Social Media Awards 2013 banner.

Social Media Awards 2013 banner.

The objectives of the awards, which were organised by BluFlamingo, were:

The Uganda SMA’s (Social Media awards) is Uganda’s first event that seeks to bring together individuals and organizations that are at the frontline when it comes to using social media for entertainment, change, sharing of ideas, creating communities and talking to customers online.

The awards seek to reward those individuals and organizations that are making a concerted effort to harness the power of social media to engage and build communities online. From avid face-bookers to twitter personalities and passionate bloggers.

This first of a kind event will be held on November 15th 2013 and will bring together not just the digitally aware, but also corporate organizations at the forefront of new media and those who have contributed to the growth of social media in Uganda.

The winners of different categories were:

Best Entertainment website – BigEye
Best Entertainment individual writer – Moses Serugo
Best blogger – Beewol

Corporate – MTN Uganda

News & info company – NTV Uganda
News & info individuals – Songa Stone

Civil service – Kampala Capital City Authority
Best innovation – Matatu
Best customer care – Airtel Uganda

Social justice – Barefoot lawyers Uganda
Crisis management award – National Water and Sewerage Corporation
Best media outlet print – The Red Pepper

Best media outlet radio – Power FM
Best media outlet TV – NTV Uganda
Celebrity – Anne Kansiime

Photography – Echwalu Photography
Best social media campaign – 40 days & 40 smiles
Judge’s choice – Proggie Uganda

The winners were nominated through online public voting and later selected by a panel of five judges.

The State of Torture in the World in 2013

On January 23, 2013, an excerpt from the annual report of l'ACAT-France, A World of Torture 2013, makes a fresh assessment of the state of torture in the world [fr]:

“A report called A World of Torture in 2013, assesses torture practices that continue to be alarming, from Pakistan to Italy, by way of South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Bolivia. From authoritarian regimes to democratic countries, none are exempt from criticism on the topic. In 2013, torture remains as endemic, omnipresent and multi-faceted as ever”.

Mapping the Conflicts in DRC in 2012

crisis group map of fights in DRC between April-Nov 2012

The Crisis Group has created an interactive map of the conflicts in the Kivu region, DRC in 2012 [fr].

Storipot: A News Aggregator for Ugandan Blogs

Keep up to date with news and conversations on Ugandan blogosphere through Storipot, a news aggregator created by Dignited:

Storipot is a News aggregator that provides you with headlines of the latest stories (“Feeds”) curated from websites and blogs by or about Uganda.

Storipot helps you filter through the noise of today’s vast information by bringing to surface a summary of the day's most important stories on a single page.

We are currently doing this through clever computer algorithms that routinely crawl through our large database of more than 250(as of launch) Ugandan content sources. We analyze and gauge all this content to bring you the most compelling content on the web from Uganda.

However, with the understanding that nothing beats the human judgement, Storipot also employs human editorial curation mechanisms. With a team of long-time experienced bloggers and journalists, we sieve through the blog sphere to discover and bring you great content that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Designed for both readers and publishers.

Can Ugandan President Rule Guinea on a Loan for 10 Years?

Guinean born and Italian citizen Abdoulaye Bah asks Ugandan blogger Prudence Nyamishana if Uganda can give Guinea their president, Yoweri Museveni, for only 10 years:

“You can have him for as long as you want.” I replied.

This was a conversation I had with Abdoulaye Bah my 72-year-old friend from Guinea during his visit to Uganda.

He was dead serious when he requested for President Museveni of Uganda for only 10 years. He is convinced that if Museveni became president of Guinea for 10 years, he would create a fundamental change. Who am I to argue against Adbdoulaye’s case?

This Guinean born and Italian citizen, former UN staff, retired journalist and current Global Voices contributor, first visited Uganda in 1975 and he says that a lot has changed. When he came with his wife, they stayed at the Sheraton hotel a place that was then reserved for only civil servants. Load shedding in the city was the order of the day.

You Will Never Find Stories About Famine, Idi Amin or Joseph Kony on This Site

Talented Ugandan writers take to the Internet to tell positive stories about the country:

We will be honest with you. Stories about poverty porn, hunger, Ebola, tribalism and all negative stories about Uganda, you will never find them here. This is a site to celebrate the positive stories about The Pearl of Africa through poetry, stories, profiles, opinions, music, dance and drama.

This is Uganda (ThisIs256), is a platform of talented writers from Uganda who are determined to tell stories about Uganda and for Ugandans aimed at demystifying stereotypes from people who do not know the real story of Uganda all over the world. The platform is loosely composed of diverse array of Ugandan writers who desire and seek to represent and reclaim an authentic, reflective, honest, and objectively balanced study about Uganda you will never find anywhere else in the mainstream western media.

Film: A Ugandan Transgender Girl Fights for Her Right to Love

Rough Studios, a small Swedish production company, has released the first episode of a documentary series about being transgender in Uganda:

We enter the life of Cleopatra Kambugu, a Ugandan transgender girl who was forced to flee to Kenya after being “outed” as homosexual in one of Uganda's major tabloids. It is a story about love, hate and being transgender, in one of the worlds most homophobic places.

Our goal with this film has always been to make a difference. Whether it is to change peoples hearts, their perception of a transgender person or the prejudice people have towards the LGBT community.
Uganda is a country which for long have been criticized for the discriminations against the LGBTI community.

Ugandan Bloggers Demand the Release of Ethiopian Bloggers

Ugandan bloggers Prudence Nyamishana, Javie Ssozi, Florence Naluyimba, Muwonge David and Chris Igune delivered a letter to the Ethiopian ambassador in Uganda demanding the release the jailed Ethiopian bloggers and journalists:

Should Africa Learn From the Crimea Referendum?

“Is Crimea referendum a good model for Africa?” asks Richard Dowden:

Africa’s arbitrary borders, mostly drawn by people who had never set foot in the continent, have always been an obvious target for renegotiation. But Africa’s first rulers, who foresaw chaos and disintegration if the nation states were reconfigured, ruled it out. “Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each State” was one of the founding principles of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the forerunner of the African Union. Despite all the wars, internal and external, this principle has been pretty much adhered to by both presidents and people.

Loyalty to an African state is not always related to the ability of that state to make the lives of its people better. Patriotism, an emotional thing, does not take these benefits into account, even in countries where the majority of citizens are marginalised or oppressed by the government. Even in the catastrophic recent meltdown of South Sudan after just two years of independence, no one is advocating return to rule from Khartoum. In the dying days of Mobutu’s Zaire (now the DRC) I was astonished to find that people felt it to be a great country. I asked why Katanga, the rich south east province, didn’t secede – as it had in 1960. My suggestion was greeted with shocked surprise.

Two-Year Anniversary of Kony 2012 Campaign

March 5, 2014 marked two-year anniversary of KONY 2012 campaign:

Two years ago today we started a campaign called KONY 2012. It was an experiment to see if the world was ready to unite and speak out against the horrific and unseen crimes of Joseph Kony and the LRA. The world was.

Together, we made Kony famous and put the issue of LRA violence on the table of popular and political interest. One element of the campaign was calling on culture and policy makers to work in their sphere of influence to stand up for Kony’s child soldiers. You led our leaders to take action that resulted in tangible results. As part of our celebrations, we’ve decided to thank the politicians that gave a gift to justice through their support of KONY 2012.

Follow AfricaHackTrip Online

A group of developers and designers from Europe who are curious about the emerging African tech hubs are on hack trip of the continent.

Check out their blog or Tumblr and follow discussion about the trip on Twitter.

Kony's LRA Kills Villagers in Yalinga, Central African Republic

While the Central African Republic awaits a new prime minister [fr] after the peace talks in Libreville, the army reports that Joseph Kony and the Lord Resistance Army LRA have killed three people [fr] near the village of Yalinga. The reports adds that a 12 year old girl was also kidnapped by the rebels.

382 Million in Africa's Workforce Today and 122 Million more in 8 Years

Africa at work: Job creation

Infographic posted by Courtney on the Workforce in Africa today (CC-license-NC-BY)

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