President Joao Lourenço inaugurates Angola’s satellite control centre

Image of Angosat 2, Angola’s first satellite   –   Copyright © africanews

By Rédaction Africanews

Angolan President João Lourenço on Friday inaugurated the country’s first satellite control centre. Its main task is to monitor the activity of the satellite “ANGOSAT 2”.

The southern African country had in October launched the main satellite with the help of Russia

The inauguration took place at Funda area within Luanda, the capital city of Angola and fully equipped with technical and technological means.

“With the launch of this satellite and its commissioning, Angola will win in all services, so we will improve our telecommunications and our social communication and will also benefit from this important project,” said President João.

“Therefore, further investments to ensure that our telecommunications contribute to the development of the country and the services of our economy, not just of Angolan society, will continue to be made, and it has been said here that in terms of fibre optics and therefore cable transmission and investment that we are making today to connect Angola to the neighbouring country, specifically the DRC,” said President João.

According to what was revealed, the Satellite Mission and Control Center is an intelligent infrastructure with multiple engineering advantages, capable of guaranteeing the tracking, monitoring and operation of satellites, in this case the ANGOSAT-2.

In December 2017, Angola launched its trial satellite Angosat-1 alongside the Russian rocket, but Moscow announced it had lost control of it as soon as it entered orbit.

Uganda agrees oil exploration deals with two firms including Australia’s DGR Global

A cabinet meeting on Monday had approved the signing of an agreement with DGR Energy Turaco Uganda Limited, owned by Australia’s DGR Global, for the Turaco exploration area

Elias Biryabarema, Reuters News

January 12, 2023

A view shows JDC Hakuryu-5 deep water drilling platform in the South China Sea off the coast of Vung Tau, Vietnam April 29, 2018. Maxim Shemetov, Reuters Image used for illustrative purpose.
Reuters Images

KAMPALA – Uganda’s cabinet has agreed for the energy ministry to sign production-sharing agreements (PSA) for two oil exploration blocks with two oil firms, including a unit of Australia’s DGR Global, the government said on Thursday.

A cabinet meeting on Monday had approved the signing of an agreement with DGR Energy Turaco Uganda Limited, owned by Australia’s DGR Global, for the Turaco exploration area, according to a statement issued by Godfrey Kabbyanga, a junior information minister.

The 637-square kilometre exploration area is located in Uganda’s Albertine Rift basin near the border with Congo. A different unit of DGR Global already owns an exploration property in the area, Kanywataba, which it acquired in 2017.

The second deal is for Uganda’s state-owned Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC), and covers the Kasuruban exploration area that stretches over 1,285 square kilometres, according to the statement.

Uganda first discovered commercial reserves of crude oil in the Albertine Rift basin in 2006 and officials say first oil will be pumped out of the ground in 2025.

The two exploration areas were part of five blocks Uganda auctioned in a licensing round launched in 2019.

The firms will initially get two-year exploration licences for the blocks, the statement said.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

Big change for Eskom and other state companies in South Africa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the energy department will take over responsibility for overseeing state utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., which has been failing to meet the nation’s power demand since 2008.

The change will be in line with a resolution adopted by the governing African National Congress at its national conference last week, which specified that state companies operating in specific economic sectors should be overseen by the relevant government departments.

That could potentially signal a dissolution of the Department of Public Enterprises, which oversees Eskom, logistics company Transnet SOC Ltd. and several other entities.

“It is a clear mandate from the conference,” Ramaphosa told reporters at a media event in Johannesburg on Monday. “The resolution will be implemented,” and the government will decide how and when it will be done, he said.

Eskom, which supplies more than 90% of South Africa’s electricity, has been at the epicenter of a national energy crisis, because its old and poorly maintained plants can’t generate adequate power to meet demand. It subjected the country to a record 205 days of rolling blackouts last year, which stymied economic growth and investment.

The government has already announced plans to split the nearly century-old company into three units and take over part of its debt to try and make it financially sustainable.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has prioritized anti-corruption measures at Eskom and defended outgoing Chief Executive Officer Andre De Ruyter.

A change in the oversight of the company may raise concerns among some investors as Gwede Mantashe, the energy minister, has been opposed plans to transition the economy to green energy — even though Ramaphosa advocates doing so — and been a vocal critic of De Ruyter’s performance.

Several previous resolutions taken years ago by the ANC are still work in progress, and Ramaphosa warned that the party’s latest policy decisions will take time to implement.

“Things in government move very slowly, I have learned,” he said.

Twitter users vote to oust Elon Musk as CEO

AFP , Tuesday 20 Dec 2022

In this file photo taken on February 10, 2022 Elon Musk pauses and looks down as he speaks during a press conference at SpaceX s Starbase facility near Boca Chica Village in South Texas. AFP

A total of 57.5 percent of more than 17 million accounts voted for him to step down. Musk, who also runs car maker Tesla and rocket firm SpaceX, has not yet reacted publicly to the results.

“The question is not finding a CEO, the question is finding a CEO who can keep Twitter alive,” the South African-born billionaire tweeted before the vote closed.

In a response to another tweet, he added: “No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor.”

Musk has fully owned Twitter since October 27 and has repeatedly courted controversy as CEO, sacking half of its staff, readmitting far-right figures to the platform, suspending journalists and trying to charge for previously free services.

Analysts have also pointed out that the stock price of Tesla has slumped by one-third since Musk’s Twitter takeover. The share price briefly rallied by 3.3 percent on Monday before fading.

“It’s hard to ignore the numbers since [the Twitter] deal closed,” tweeted investment expert Gary Black, saying he reckoned Tesla’s board was putting pressure on Musk to quit his Twitter role.

In discussions with users after posting his latest poll, Musk renewed his warnings that the platform could be heading for bankruptcy.

“Won’t happen again”

Resorting to Twitter’s polling feature has been a favorite strategy of Musk’s to push through policy decisions, including the reinstatement of the account of former president Donald Trump.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, which defends press freedom around the world, said the polls were a “crude and cynical” ploy.

“These methods appear to be democratic procedures, but in reality they are… the opposite of democracy,” said the group’s head, Christophe Deloire.

Unpredictable entrepreneur Musk posted his latest poll shortly after trying to extricate himself from yet another controversy.

On Sunday, Twitter users were told they would no longer be able to promote content from other social media sites.

But Musk seemed to reverse course a few hours later, writing that the policy would be limited to “suspending accounts only when that account’s *primary* purpose is promotion of competitors.”

“Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes. My apologies. Won’t happen again,” he tweeted.

The attempted ban had prompted howls of disapproval and even bemused Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey, who had backed Musk’s takeover.

Dorsey questioned the new policy with a one-word tweet: “Why?”

“Perfect storm”

Musk has generated a series of controversies in his short reign, one which analyst Dan Ives from Wedbush described as a “perfect storm.”

He noted that “advertisers have run for the hills and left Twitter squarely in the red ink potentially on track to lose roughly $4 billion per year.”

Shortly after taking over the platform, Musk announced it would charge $8 per month to verify account holders’ identities, but had to suspend the “Twitter Blue” plan after an embarrassing rash of fake accounts. It has since been relaunched.

On November 4, with Musk saying the company was losing $4 million a day, Twitter laid off half of its 7,500-strong staff.

Musk also reinstated Trump’s account — though the former US president indicated he had no interest in the platform — and said Twitter would no longer work to combat Covid-19 disinformation.

In recent days, he suspended the accounts of several journalists after complaining some had published details about the movements of his private jet, which he claimed could endanger his family.

Employees of CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post were among those affected in a move that drew sharp criticism, including from the European Union and the United Nations.

Washington Post executive editor Sally Buzbee said the suspension of journalist Taylor Lorenz’s account “further undermines Elon Musk’s claim that he intends to run Twitter as a platform dedicated to free speech.”

Some of the suspended accounts have since been reactivated.

On Monday, the head of the European Parliament, speaker Roberta Metsola, sent a letter to Musk inviting him to testify before the legislature, her spokesman said.

The parliament has no power to compel Musk to turn up, and his response was not immediately known.

Microsoft targets internet expansion in Africa, longer-term cloud adoption

By Jeffrey Dastin

Smartphone is seen in front of Microsoft logo displayed in this illustration taken, July 26, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Dec 14 (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) aims to secure internet access for 100 million more people in Africa by 2025, teaming up with a satellite provider and setting the stage for longer-term cloud adoption, its President Brad Smith told Reuters.

The software maker has long pushed to bring more people online, playing the role of facilitator among telecoms and electricity providers, governments and non-profits. Since 2017, it helped widen connectivity for 50 million people, including nearly 10 million in Africa, under its so-called Airband initiative.

Now, Microsoft is tapping satellite technology for the program for the first time, aiming to reach remote areas that have had little connectivity. In news pegged to the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, Microsoft said Wednesday it is working with Viasat Inc (VSAT.O) to expand access in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other countries globally.

Smith said the effort was “building a new market for access to the internet, for the use of the cloud, for the power of AI, the ability to harness data. All of these things connect with our business.”

He declined to state Microsoft’s financial commitment to Airband but said money “is in some ways the least important part of our contribution” relative to its growing partnerships and helping others make sustainable investments.

Africa, he said, represented a burgeoning talent pool in contrast to declining population growth elsewhere. Microsoft now has more than 500 engineers in Nairobi and more than 200 in Lagos, he said.

Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin in Palo Alto, Calif.; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

Sheikh Mohammed announces major project for Dubai’s countryside

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Image courtesy Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s official Twitter handle.

Staff Writer, Khaleej Times

The Dubai Ruler has approved a comprehensive plan to develop the emirate’s countryside into touristic destinations. The development plan includes a first-of-its-kind 100km scenic route, natural reserves and areas to practise desert sports.

The plan encompasses a 2,216-sqkm area in areas like Lehbab, Aweer and Faqaa, among others, according to a tweet by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

“We have the most beautiful city in the world. Our next goal is to make the emirate’s countryside among the most enjoyable and beautiful,” said Sheikh Mohammed.

Photos he shared with the tweets showed helicopter tour sites, a scenic route with a convoy of camels and greenery and lakes carved out of the desert.

A plan to transform Dubai’s charming countryside into cultural, tourist and environmental destinations was first announced back in May 2022.

According to the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan announced last year, wildlife sanctuaries and natural rural areas will constitute 60 per cent of the total area of the Emirate.

Nigerian start-up uses tech to help the visually impaired

Nigerian start-up uses tech to help the visually impaired   –   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022

By Reuters  •  Updated: 24/11/2022 – 11:06

LAGOS – A Nigerian start up called Vinsighte is using technology to assist the visually impaired, with several products including “smart” reading glasses that convert text to audio.

About 15.3% of the world’s blind population resides in Africa, according to the World Health Organization, where they often lack the resources and support needed to succeed in school and everyday life.

“I wanted to just try and see if we could build something that could solve the problem and that was where it all started,” said Vinsighte CEO Kolawole Tomi.

The company distributes its products to schools and institutions and estimates it has reached about 5,000 people.

CMG Africa showcases selection of premium CMG productions

By CGTN Africa 

China Media Group (CMG) Africa launched its annual media event focusing on cooperation with its African partners on November 16 in Nairobi, Kenya.

The forum saw the release of the first ever annual report on CGTN Africa news programs, detailing their content and audience reach.

During the forum, CMG Africa set up the African stand of CMG Program Exhibition in an innovative way, focused on “idea, art, and technology”.

27 masterpieces were selected by CMG Africa for exhibition at its annual media event held last week. Viewers are not only able to read the summaries of those excellent works offline with pictures and texts, but they are also able to watch the wonderful content of the programs online through the touch screen exhibition mode produced by H5 new media technology.

Click to watch the selections:

Greener pastures: Is South Africa ready to profit from green hydrogen?

A view shows solar panels at the green hydrogen proof-of-concept site in Vredendal, Western Cape, South Africa, November 15, 2022. REUTERS/Esa Alexander

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 17 (Reuters) – South Africa could produce over five million tonnes of green hydrogen a year by 2040, according to a plan it presented at the U.N. climate summit in Egypt that aims to catapult the world’s 13th biggest polluter into a greener future.

The plan envisages reaching annual production of 10 million tonnes by 2050 and creating a local market worth $20 billion, employing around 50,000 people.

Green hydrogen, made by using renewable energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, is viewed as vital in the world’s shift away from fossil fuels and part of a three-pronged approach South Africa is taking to tackle its carbon emissions.

The other two are substituting its ageing coal plants with solar and wind power and kick-starting an electric vehicle revolution.

But for a country still squabbling over when to retire coal plants, it is a mammoth task.

“The political situation in South Africa is on a kind of a knife edge right now … We really need to get some policy, regulatory and planning certainty,” Chris Yelland, managing director and energy analyst at EE Business Intelligence, told Reuters TV.

The government estimates that realising its green hydrogen goals would require up to 100 gigawatts (GW) of additional solar or wind power capacity, and investing close to $133 billion.

According to Boston Consultancy Group, South Africa will need to set up 6-7 GW of renewable capacity per year for the next two decades, compared with the 6 GW it has managed in total since 2011.

“It might very well be feasible … our renewable resources are world class: solar radiation, wind,” said Margo-Ann Werner, environmental law director at law firm Cliff Deker Hofmeya.Advertisement · Scroll to continue

“It really is about the (regulatory) environment: … electricity generation, pipelines for distribution, converting port facilities; all of that can be dealt with if we really commit.”

Reporting by Promit Mukherjee in Johannesburg and Shafiek Tassiem in Cape Town Additional reporting by Tim Cocks in Johannesburg Editing by Tim Cocks and Mark Potter

Uganda heightens health surveillance as Ebola fight continues

A general view of the main entrance of Entebbe International Airport in Entebbe, Uganda. /CFP

Uganda has imposed a mandatory health declaration requirement for all passengers leaving or arriving at Entebbe Airport.

The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority in a notice on Tuesday announced that passengers will be required to fill in a digital Ministry of Health declaration form within 24 hours prior to travel.

The country hopes the new measures will contain an Ebola outbreak currently in the country.

So far, 141 people have been diagnosed with Ebola. 55 people have died.

The virus circulating in the East African country is the Sudan strain of Ebola, unlike the more common Zaire strain that spread during recent outbreaks in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a televised address on Tuesday, President Yoweri Museveni said the government is doing all it can to prevent exporting the virus out of the country. He noted that the list of contacts and suspected cases have been submitted to immigration authorities to prevent cases from traveling out of Uganda.

An on-site mobile laboratory has been established in Mubende and risk communication activities are ongoing in all districts that have reported cases of the deadly disease.

The Ugandan government is also conducting community-based surveillance and active case finding.

Uganda’s efforts have been complemented by the presence of teams from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), WHO, the Global outbreak alert and response network (GOARN), and other partners.