Hundreds Join ‘People’s March’ on Climate as African Climate Summit Begins in Nairobi

Nairobi, Kenya, witnessed a ‘people’s march’ on climate as the African Climate Summit commenced on Monday, drawing attention to the continent’s climate challenges and concerns about the global agenda’s alignment with rich-nation interests.

The demonstrators, accompanied by a marching band, voiced their frustration with the expectations placed on African countries to adopt cleaner practices while facing a lack of promised support. The march highlighted the need for systemic reform and the criticism of carbon markets as a tool in climate action.

Babawale, an activist from Friends of the Earth Africa, called for the decolonisation of Africa’s energy system and a focus on systems change rather than climate change. Demonstrators also demanded the targeting of fossil fuels and an end to the neo-colonial scramble for oil and gas in Africa.

The African Climate Summit, which opened with a ministerial session and the presence of more than a dozen heads of state, seeks to amplify Africa’s voice on climate issues and secure greater financing and support. Young people have called for a stronger role in the process.

Kenyan President William Ruto emphasised the economic opportunities, mineral wealth, and shared prosperity that can arise from addressing the climate crisis. He urged the immediate delivery of the $100 billion pledged annually by rich countries to developing nations.

The summit has also seen protests against projects like the TotalEnergies-funded East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline in Uganda and Tanzania. Activists called for more subsidies for solar power to scale up renewable sources.

Africa faces substantial loss and damage due to climate change, projected to range from $290 billion to $440 billion from 2020 to 2030, depending on the degree of warming, according to the U.N.

While Kenya derives 93% of its power from renewables and has implemented measures like banning single-use plastic bags, it faces challenges such as deforestation for infrastructure projects and limited access to electricity for millions of Africans.

The summit is attended by prominent figures including U.S. climate envoy John Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who acknowledge the climate crisis’s impact on Africa and the need for action.

As the summit addresses climate issues, the continent’s leaders and activists continue to call for tangible commitments, meaningful change, and a fair global approach to combating climate change.

Lagos Launches Commercial Operations for Blue Rail Line Project

Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, marked a significant milestone on Monday with the official launch of commercial operations for the Lagos Blue Line rail project. The commencement date, long-awaited and postponed multiple times, is expected to provide much-needed relief to Lagos residents grappling with chaotic traffic situations.

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, joined fellow Lagosians and state officials in celebrating the launch of commercial operations for the Blue Line rail. The rail system is set to serve a daily ridership of at least 250,000 individuals, bringing substantial reductions in travel time along the Mile 2-Marina corridor within the state.

With a population of over 20 million residents, Lagos has been notorious for its traffic congestion. The Blue Line project was conceived as an innovative mode of intra-city commuting, with the specific aim of reducing the city’s heavy reliance on a single transportation mode.

Passengers who had the opportunity to ride on the train expressed their satisfaction with the service, describing it as a smooth and organised experience. Engineer Joseph Akinpelu highlighted the environmental benefits, stating that the electrically powered rail system would reduce pollution and make transportation more seamless and comfortable.

Governor Sanwo-Olu also announced that almost four million citizens in the state already possessed Cowry cards used for public transport, and these cards could be used for the Blue Line as well. He further disclosed a 50% reduction in Blue Line fares.

The Blue Line project’s first phase, Phase I, was initially scheduled for completion in 2011 but encountered delays due to funding shortages and changes in government leadership. Upon full completion, the entire 27km Blue Line is expected to transport approximately 500,000 passengers daily, offering a significant solution to Lagos’ transportation challenges.

World’s Largest Rhino Farm in South Africa Acquired by African Parks to Combat Poaching

In a significant move to protect rhinos from poaching, the world’s largest rhino farm, the 7,800-hectare Platinum Rhino farm in South Africa, has been acquired by the NGO African Parks, which is associated with Prince Harry.

The farm, which houses 2,000 white rhinos, was founded by wealthy businessman John Hume in 2009 with the aim of breeding and conserving the endangered species. However, due to the high costs associated with the project, Hume put the farm up for auction in April, hoping to find a buyer who could continue the conservation efforts.

With no buyers emerging, the rhinos faced the looming threat of poaching. African Parks, supported by the South African government and conservation groups, stepped in to secure the future of these majestic creatures.

John Hume, 81, acknowledged the challenges of breeding rhinos, calling it an expensive hobby. He revealed that he had spent a total of $150 million on the conservation efforts but had run out of funds to continue the project.

African Parks did not disclose the purchase price but emphasised its moral obligation to protect the rhinos from further decline. The organisation’s CEO, Peter Fearnhead, stated that he had not originally intended to become the owner of a business breeding rhinos in captivity, let alone 2,000 rhinos.

South Africa is home to nearly 80% of the world’s white rhino population, with estimates indicating fewer than 13,000 specimens remaining. The country has become a hotspot for rhino poaching, driven by demand from Asia, where rhino horns, made of keratin, are used in traditional medicine for their alleged therapeutic or aphrodisiac effects.

In 2022, South Africa recorded the loss of 448 rhinos to poaching, despite reinforced anti-poaching measures in national parks. Poachers have adapted their tactics, targeting more vulnerable private parks where rhinos are easier to access.

African Parks’ acquisition of the Platinum Rhino farm is part of a broader strategy to reintroduce farmed rhinos into the wild over the next decade, with plans to transfer them to protected areas in Africa. This ambitious project aims to reduce the risks to the species and gradually phase out the breeding programme.

One approach to combat rhino slaughter is preemptive dehorning, a procedure that involves removing the coveted horns, which can then grow back. In South Africa, trade in rhino horns within the country is allowed, albeit controversially, while export remains illegal.

John Hume previously stirred controversy in 2017 when he organised an online sale of rhino horns to raise funds for conservation efforts, sparking public outrage and debate within the private sector. With the acquisition of the Platinum Rhino farm, African Parks is taking a significant step towards protecting rhinos and preserving their future in the wild.

Kenya Pushes for Greater Adoption of Solar Energy Despite Taxation Challenges

Kenya, a leading proponent of renewable energy in Africa, is striving to further harness the potential of solar energy, despite taxation hurdles that affect the affordability of solar technology for consumers.

Kenya generates over 70% of its energy from renewable sources like geothermal, hydro, and wind power. Solar energy is gaining traction for industrial and residential use, driven by its reliability and lower operational costs compared to the initial installation capital.

To encourage the adoption of solar power, the Kenyan government has provided incentives such as zero-rated importation of certain solar components like panels and inverters. However, solar technology imports continue to be subject to import duties and over 15% value-added tax, which increases the overall cost for consumers.

President William Ruto, speaking at the inaugural Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, emphasised the continent’s potential to become entirely self-sufficient in energy by leveraging renewable sources like wind, solar, geothermal, sustainable biomass, and hydropower.

Clean Power, a Nairobi-based solar energy company, has witnessed increased interest from various industries, including steel manufacturers and edible oil factories, due to the reliability and cost-effectiveness of solar energy. Rashmi Shah, the Solar Managing Director for Clean Power, highlighted the company’s achievements, stating that they have completed 25,000 kilowatts of installations in the last six years.

Solar energy offers significant environmental benefits, as it reduces air pollution, minimises temperature increases, and has a positive impact on the climate. Some home installations have allowed individuals to go completely off the grid, providing them with uninterrupted power during national blackouts.

The World Bank reports a rise in the deployment of solar mini-grids in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the number increasing from around 500 in 2010 to over 3,000 today. Additionally, the United Nations’ environmental agency highlights that 60% of the world’s best solar sites are located in Africa, with vast untapped potential as only 1% of this energy source is currently harnessed.

Despite the challenges posed by taxation, Kenya is committed to promoting solar energy adoption as a clean, sustainable, and cost-effective solution to its energy needs, with the hope of inspiring similar initiatives across the continent.

Direct Commercial Flights Between Egypt and Sudan Resume After Conflict

Egypt has resumed direct commercial flights to Sudan for the first time since the conflict broke out between rival generals in Sudan nearly five months ago.

EgyptAir’s Flight MS865 departed from Cairo and landed in Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast, marking a significant step towards re-establishing connectivity between the two countries. The flight carried 120 passengers and is expected to ease the challenges faced by Sudanese travelers, particularly those who require medical assistance, students, children, and the elderly.

Sameh Farouk, Egypt’s Consul General in Port Sudan, highlighted the importance of this resumption in air travel between the two nations. He noted the strong historical and popular bonds between Egypt and Sudan and emphasised the role of EgyptAir in facilitating people-to-people connections.

The Sudanese authorities greeted the Egyptian plane with a “water salute” ceremony upon its arrival in Port Sudan. A return flight with 115 passengers landed in Cairo later in the day.

EgyptAir plans to operate a weekly return flight between Cairo and Port Sudan, representing a crucial development in restoring regular air travel between the two nations.

These flights mark the first commercial flights to and from Sudan since the conflict began in mid-April. The conflict involves the Sudanese army, led by General Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.

The resumption of direct commercial flights between Egypt and Sudan signals a positive step towards normalizing relations and re-establishing crucial links between the two countries in the wake of the recent conflict.

Norman Busigu to Unveil Compelling New Documentary, “Nigeria: Can its Youth Shape its Future?

LONDON, UK – Norman Busigu, the acclaimed British-Ugandan filmmaker, media broadcaster, and accomplished fashion model, is set to dazzle audiences with the world premiere screening of his eagerly awaited second documentary, “Nigeria: Can its Youth Shape its Future?” The premiere will take place in his hometown, London, in October 2023, coinciding with Black History Month.

Norman Busigu, who is no stranger to accolades, has already made a significant mark in the world of film and media. His impressive portfolio includes a nomination for a prestigious award. With “Nigeria: Can its Youth Shape its Future?” Norman embarks on a remarkable journey, exploring the role of Nigerian youth, both within the country and in the diaspora, in shaping the nation’s destiny.

This groundbreaking documentary has garnered substantial support and media coverage, notably from esteemed African media outlets such as Channels TV, Pulse, Starr103.5 FM, GhOne TV, and Metro TV. Produced by Nigeria-based production company, The Milade Films, with post-production supervised by DJ Reckyy/Lamarr Campbell, founder of Playback, the documentary promises to be a thought-provoking exploration of Nigeria’s future.

Additionally, the documentary has secured an official partnership with Jendaya, a luxury e-commerce platform catering to a global consumer base. The film boasts an original soundtrack contributed by the talented British-Nigerian artist, Kvngs.

While Nigeria faces a plethora of challenges, Norman Busigu firmly believes that the nation possesses the essential elements required to ascend to global superpower status. In his view, the youth of Nigeria hold the key to unlocking the nation’s boundless potential.

Through a captivating blend of interviews, thematic analysis, and visits to key locations in Lagos, the documentary delves deep into the perceptions and aspirations of Nigerians regarding their nation’s trajectory. It seeks to understand the role that the youth can play in shaping Nigeria’s future and whether the nation can fulfil its potential as a global powerhouse.

These probing themes are examined through two distinct lenses: Nigeria’s socio-political and socio-economic landscape, as well as the vibrant arts scene, encompassing music and visual arts.

The world premiere screening event is scheduled for Saturday, October 28, 2023, at the Lexi Cinema, situated in North-West London. The event promises a captivating lineup, including keynote speeches, an interactive question and answer session, and more.

Norman Busigu selected the Lexi Cinema for its strong commitment to the community, as it is a volunteer-run social enterprise cinema. The venue not only supports the local community but also contributes to a charitable project in South Africa. Recognised with the Civic Trust Award in 2023, the Lexi’s emphasis on community, charity, and its connection to Africa made it the ideal choice for the world premiere.

In addition to the Lexi Cinema event, Norman Busigu will host a screening event at Queen Mary University London in collaboration with their Afro-Caribbean Society, further reinforcing his commitment to showcasing the film during Black History Month in the UK.

With his second documentary, Norman Busigu aspires to surpass the achievements of his debut film, “Ghana: Africa’s Exciting Entry Point?” This inaugural documentary, which explored the rise of tourism in Ghana, achieved remarkable milestones, including being shortlisted as a Semi-Finalist at the Paris International Short Festival (April 2023), screenings at prestigious venues like Cambridge University and Soho House, and extensive coverage in leading Ghanaian publications.

Norman Busigu’s ambition for his latest documentary is global in scale, with screenings and press coverage spanning Europe, America, and Africa. His dedication to shedding light on the beauty, stories, and truths within Africa, and his determination to challenge negative stereotypes and preconceptions, underscore his commitment to portraying the continent authentically.

Through his films, Norman Busigu hopes to offer audiences a fresh and youthful perspective that reveals the enchantment of Africa, ultimately inspiring them to explore the wonders of the Motherland.

Netflix on a Swashbuckling Adventure with Femi Osofisan’s ‘Pirates’

Netflix, the global streaming giant, is once again making waves in the world of entertainment as it announces its latest project, an adaptation of Femi Osofisan’s captivating novel ‘Pirates.’ This exciting news has sent ripples of anticipation through the literary and cinematic communities alike. With its unique blend of African storytelling and the allure of piracy on the high seas, ‘Pirates’ promises to be a thrilling addition to Netflix’s growing repertoire of original content.

Femi Osofisan, the esteemed Nigerian playwright and author, penned ‘Pirates’ as a gripping exploration of identity, belonging, and the unending quest for freedom. The novel, first published in 1978, is set against the backdrop of West Africa’s history, where swashbuckling pirates and fearless adventurers roamed the coastlines in search of treasure and adventure.

The story follows the life of Captain Ransome, a charismatic and enigmatic pirate who sails the tumultuous waters of the Atlantic Ocean. At its core, ‘Pirates’ delves into the complexities of human nature, with the characters grappling with themes of love, betrayal, and the enduring desire for self-discovery.

Netflix has consistently shown its commitment to diversity and inclusivity, both in front of and behind the camera. By adapting ‘Pirates,’ Netflix not only celebrates the rich literary tradition of Africa but also provides a platform for African talent to shine. This adaptation promises to introduce audiences around the world to the depth and complexity of African storytelling.

In recent years, Netflix has made significant strides in featuring African narratives, with critically acclaimed productions like ‘Queen Sono’ and ‘Blood & Water.’ By adding ‘Pirates’ to its portfolio, Netflix continues to amplify the voices and stories of underrepresented communities, fostering a global understanding of different cultures.

Netflix’s adaptation of ‘Pirates’ has garnered excitement not only for its source material but also for the talented team assembled to bring this story to life. The screenwriting duties have been entrusted to a rising star in African cinema, Amina Ibrahim, known for her compelling storytelling and fresh perspective. Her ability to capture the essence of ‘Pirates’ and translate it onto the screen is a promising sign of the project’s success.

Directing this grand adventure is the renowned South African director, Thabo Rametsi, whose previous work includes the critically acclaimed film ‘Five Fingers for Marseilles.’ Rametsi’s unique vision and commitment to capturing the essence of African narratives make him a perfect fit for ‘Pirates.’

As Netflix prepares to take on this thrilling adaptation, anticipation is building among audiences worldwide. The novel ‘Pirates’ has long been revered for its ability to blend historical elements with a captivating narrative, and this adaptation is poised to do the same.

In today’s interconnected world, storytelling has the power to transcend borders and cultures. ‘Pirates’ promises to resonate with audiences far and wide, inviting them to embark on a high-seas adventure that explores universal themes of freedom, self-discovery, and the enduring spirit of adventure.

Femi Osofisan’s ‘Pirates’ is just one example of the rich tapestry of African literature waiting to be explored by a global audience. By adapting this novel, Netflix is not only celebrating African storytelling but also encouraging a deeper appreciation for the diversity of African literature.

The streaming platform’s global reach means that ‘Pirates’ will be accessible to millions of viewers, providing an opportunity for the world to engage with African narratives in a meaningful way. This adaptation could serve as a gateway, leading viewers to explore more African literature and cinema, enriching their cultural horizons.