The types of Coffee Beans used in Go Africa®Coffee (Q&A)

You can buy Go Africa Coffee at:  www.amazon.com/shops/GoAfricaStore

 

The types of Coffee Beans used in Go Africa®Coffee

We have received so many inquiries regarding which beans are used in Go Africa Coffee. Since we source are beans from the following countries: (Ethiopia, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Cameroon, and Democratic Republic of the Congo) the short answer is it depends.

images-4We have asked our resident Coffeelogist and Chief Roaster, Losseni Kone, to help provide an answer.

Coffee aficionados of all levels have without a doubt heard the words “Robusta” or “Arabica” However, Coffee is much more complex than just type of Coffee.

Below is a list of Countries and Types of beans sourced from the country for Go Africa Coffee. Keep in mind a Country can source more than one type of bean:

  • images-2Ethiopia: (Arabica, Sadamo (Yirgachefe and Guji))
  • Kenya: (Bourbon, French Mission)
  • Côte d’Ivoire (Arabica, Gros Idente, Excelsea, Kouilou and Petit Indenize)
  • Tanzania: (Robusta)
  • Cameroon: (Arabica)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo: (Robusta)

 

 

Below is a detail description of each type and subclass of Coffee Beans grown in the various regions of Africa.

 coffee-615

Not all of Africa’s coffee production is limited to Robusta, however. Here’s an overview of the different coffee varieties that are grown frequently across the African continent (keep in mind that while some of these coffees are considered single origin in nature, most like Arabica and Robusta are not):

  • Sadamo:A type of Arabica (which you can find elsewhere in this list) grown as a single origin coffee source in Sadamo, Ethiopia, this variety of coffee is a small bean that produces a rich, spicy and almost chocolatey flavor. Individual types of Ethiopian Sadamo include Yirgachefe and Guji, both known to be of high quality. Another type of Ethiopian coffee is Harar, which is another Arabica but not grown in Sadamo. More on these types of coffees later.
  • Liberica:Coffea Liberica is a species separate from Arabica as well. It typically grows in the western areas of Africa – most notably Liberia. Liberica’s taste is closer to Robusta than that of Arabica, and the beans grow on trees that can grow as high as 10 to 15 meters tall.
    Gros Idente: Similar to Liberica, Gros Idente coffee is grown in large trees in the western areas of Africa, such as the Ivory Coast.
  • Arabica:Yes, for all of our talk about Robusta growing in Africa, it can be easy to forget that Arabica coffee is also grown in Africa. Typically, the environments suited for growing Arabica in Africa are in mountainous areas – places like the mainland of the Ivory Coast and Cameroon are typical spots where Arabica coffee is grown. only-on-amazon-gacoffee
  • Excelsea:Like Liberica coffee, these trees grow high. In fact, they are also grown in the Ivory Coast which contributes to much of their similarities to Liberica and Gros Idente coffees.
  • Robusta:Much of the African environment is suitable for Robusta growing, typically the lower-lying areas in the equatorial regions of Africa. Robusta is grown just about everywhere from Madagascar to Gabon – even if Vietnam is a leading producer of Robusta coffee, its African roots are hard to shake off.
  • Kouilou and Petit Indenize:Grown inland along the Ivory Coast, these are actually smaller coffee trees.
  • Bourbon:This type of coffee was already mentioned before, but its influence in African coffee is difficult to understate. Bourbon was planted in Reunion – an island off the eastern coast of Madagascar – in the 18th century. The type of coffee then mutated, producing Bourbon coffee, which was then moved around the world and cultivated in different areas.
  • French Mission:This refers to a type of Bourbon coffee that was planted by French missionaries in areas of East Africa around the turn of the 20th century. A Kenyan type of this coffee known as K7 is also grown in Africa.
  • Mayaguez:Another subset of Bourbon coffee, this coffee is grown in Rwanda. Typically, the Bourbon coffees planted in Africa are spread throughout the eastern portions of the continent and Madagascar.

Considering the degree of geographical, environmental, and climate differences on a large continent like Africa, it’s not surprising that so many different varieties of coffee are produced there to some degree – including the world-popular Arabica.images-4

Coffee aficionados of all levels have without a doubt heard the words “Robusta” or “Arabica”. If you aren’t familiar with either, these two terms describe the two different species of beans grown commercially. They are the same in that when harvested, roasted and eventually brewed to become that magical thing we call coffee. However, that’s where the similarities end. Robusta and Arabica differ when it comes to taste, growing environments and quality:

Taste

Robusta has a neutral to harsh taste range and is often likened to having an “oatmeal-like” taste. When unroasted, the smell of Robusta beans is described as raw-peanutty.

Arabicas, on the other hand, have a very wide taste range (depending on its varietal). The range differs from sweet-soft to sharp-tangy. When unroasted, Arabica beans smell like blueberries. Their roasted smell is described as perfumey with notes of fruit and sugar tones.

Growing environments

Robusta coffee beans come from a resilient plant that is able to be grown in low altitudes of 200-800 meters. Robusta beans aren’t very susceptible to damage done by pests. Additionally, they produce more finished product per acre and require fairly low production costs.images-3

Contrariwise, Arabica coffee beans are fragile and must grow in cool, subtropical climates.  Arabica beans also need a lot of moisture, rich soil, shade and sun. Because of their fragility, Arabica beans are vulnerable to attack from various pests and can be damaged by cold temperatures or poor handling. This type of bean also needs to be grown at a higher elevation (600-2000 meters).

Which bean is better? 

No contest!  If you had to choose between an Arabica bean and a Robusta bean, it’s important to always choose Arabica.images-1

Robusta fosters use mono-cropping, the practice of growing the same plant every year in one place. It yields more space since it involves clear-cutting the forest for the crop. Because Robusta is more a resilient plant than the delicate Arabica, it can be grown in more places. Large coffee companies buy huge amounts of rainforest, clear-cut the land and plant Robusta beans. Robusta is often mixed with Arabica,  allowing the coffee companies to save a pretty penny and serve you a crappy cup. Not to mention, mono-cropping, when done excessively, also erodes soil and demolishes nutrients making the soil nearly unusable.

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Humans Spread From Africa in One Wave, DNA Shows (NYT)

By Carl Zimmer (NYT)

Did humans flood out of Africa in a single diaspora, or did we trickle from the continent in waves spread out over tens of thousands of years? The question, one of the biggest in human evolution, has plagued scientists for decades.

 

Now they may have found an answer.

In a series of unprecedented genetic analyses published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, three separate teams of researchers conclude that all non­Africans today trace their ancestry to a single population emerging from Africa between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago.

 

“I think all three studies are basically saying the same thing,” said Joshua M. Akey of the University of Washington, who wrote a commentary accompanying the new work. “We know there were multiple dispersals out of Africa, but we can trace our ancestry back to a single one.”

 

The three teams sequenced the genomes of 787 people, obtaining highly detailed scans of each. The genomes were drawn from people in hundreds of indigenous populations around the world — Basques, African pygmies, Mayans, Bedouins, Sherpas and Cree Indians, to name just a few.

 

The DNA of older indigenous populations may be essential to understanding human history, many geneticists believe. Yet until now scientists have sequenced few whole genomes from people outside population centers like Europe and China. The new findings already are altering scientific understanding of what human DNA looks like, experts said, adding a rich diversity of variation to our map of the genome.

 

Each team of researchers used sets of genomes to tackle different questions about our origins, such as how people spread across Africa and how others populated Australia. But all aimed to settle the question of human expansion from Africa.

 

In the 1980s, a group of paleoanthropologists and geneticists began championing a hypothesis that modern humans emerged only once from Africa, roughly 50,000 years ago. Skeletons and tools discovered at archaeological sites clearly indicated the existence of modern humans in Europe, Asia and Australia.

 

Early studies of bits of DNA also supported this scenario. All non­Africans are closely related to one another, the studies found, and they all branch from a genetic tree rooted in Africa.

Yet there are also clues that at least some modern humans lived outside of Africa well before 50,000 years ago, perhaps part of an earlier wave of migration.

In Israel, for example, researchers found a few distinctively modern human skeletons that are between 120,000 and 90,000 years old. In Saudi Arabia and India, they discovered sophisticated tools dating back as far as 100,000 years.

Last October, Chinese scientists reported finding teeth belonging to Homo sapiens that are at least 80,000 years old and perhaps as old as 120,000 years.

 

Some scientists have argued from these finds that there was a human expansion from Africa earlier than 50,000 years ago. In 2011 Eske Willerslev, a renowned geneticist at the University of Copenhagen, and his colleagues reported evidence that some living people descended from this early wave.

Dr. Willerslev and his colleagues reconstructed the genome of an Aboriginal Australian from a century­old lock of hair kept in a museum — the first reconstruction of its kind. The DNA held a number of peculiar variants not found in Europeans or Asians.

He concluded that the ancestors of Aboriginals split off from other non­Africans and moved eastward, eventually arriving in East Asia 62,000 to 75,000 years ago. Tens of thousands of years later, a separate population of Africans spread into Europe and Asia.

It was a big conclusion to draw from a single fragile genome, so Dr. Willerslev decided to contact living Aboriginals to see if they’d participate in a new genetic study. He joined David W. Lambert, a geneticist at Griffith University in Australia, who was already meeting with Aboriginal communities about beginning such a study.

Their new paper also includes DNA from people in Papua New Guinea, thanks to a collaboration with scientists at the University of Oxford. All told, the scientists were able to sequence 83 genomes from Aboriginal Australians and 25 from people in Papua New Guinea, all with far greater accuracy than in Dr. Willerslev’s 2011 study.

Meanwhile, Mait Metspalu of the Estonian Biocentre was leading a team of 98 scientists on another genome­gathering project.

They picked out 148 populations to sample, mostly in Europe and Asia, with a few genomes from Africa and Australia. They, too, sequenced 483 genomes at high resolution.

David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School, and his colleagues assembled a third database of genomes from all five continents. The Simons Genome Diversity Project, sponsored by the Simons Foundation and the National Science Foundation, contains 300 high­quality genomes from 142 populations.

Dr. Reich and his colleagues probed their data for the oldest evidence of human groups genetically separating from one another.

They found that the ancestors of the KhoiSan, hunter­gatherers living today in southern Africa, began to split off from other living humans about 200,000 years ago and were fully isolated by 100,000 years ago.

Earlier studies had estimated that the split between living groups of humans occurred much more recently. The new findings indicate that our ancestors already had evolved behaviors seen in living humans, such as language, 200,000 years ago.

Dr. Reich and his colleagues then investigated whether people in Australia and Papua New Guinea descended from an early wave of humans from Africa. They could find no evidence supporting that idea in the genomes.

The people of Australia and Papua New Guinea descended from the same expansion of Africans that produced Europeans and Asians, Dr. Reich’s team decided

Working with a separate set of genomes, Dr. Willerslev and his colleagues came to much the same conclusion. “The vast majority of their ancestry — if not all of it — is coming from the same out­of­Africa wave as Europeans and Asians,” said Dr. Willerslev.

Dr. Metspalu and his colleagues ended up with a somewhat different result when they looked at the Estonian Biocentre data.

They compared chunks of DNA from different genomes to see how long ago people inherited them from a common ancestor.

Almost all the DNA from non­Africans today could be traced back to one population that lived about 75,000 years ago — presumably a group of Africans who eventually left the continent and settled the rest of the world. That squares with the conclusions of the other two studies.

 

But in Papua New Guinea, Dr. Metspalu and his colleagues found, the story was a little different. They could trace 98 percent of each person’s DNA to that 75,000­year­old group. But the other 2 percent was much older.

Some people in Papua New Guinea — but no one else in the analyses — may carry a trace of DNA from a much older wave of Africans who left the continent as long as 140,000 years ago, and then vanished.

 

The second wave — the one from which the rest of the world descends — departed over 60,000 years later, the researchers suggest. The ancestors of the people of Papua New Guinea interbred with those first pioneers on their way east, which is why their descendants carry remarkable DNA.

 

Why leave Africa at all? Scientists have found some clues as to that mystery, too.

 

In a fourth paper in Nature, researchers described a computer model of Earth’s recent climatic and ecological history. It shows that changing rainfall patterns periodically opened up corridors from Africa into Eurasia that humans may have followed in search of food.

 

Huw Groucutt, an archaeologist at the University of Oxford, criticized the new studies as too simplistic. It’s incorrect, he said, to try to split non­Africans into just two distinct groups — one 120,000 years ago, and one closer to 50,000 years ago.

 

He suspects that there were several early waves from Africa, whose descendants combined into a complex gene pool. “It’s probably much more about populations expanding and contracting, fusing and separating,” said Dr. Groucutt.

Luca Pagani, a co­author of Dr. Metspalu at the University of Cambridge and the Estonian Biocentre, said that their findings suggest a population of early human pioneers were able to survive for tens of thousands of years.

 

But when the last wave came out of Africa, descendants of the first wave disappeared. Why?

 

“They may have not been technologically advanced, living in small groups,” Dr. Pagani said of the people of the early wave. “Maybe it was easy for a major later wave that was more successful to wipe them out.”

 

(Al Jazeera) Somalia executes al-Shabab journalist

| Politics, Africa

Hanafi said he confessed to the killing of journalists following torture by authorities in Mogadishu [AP]

Hanafi said he confessed to the killing of journalists following torture by authorities in Mogadishu [AP]

Somalia has executed a journalist accused of helping members of al-Shabab kill at least five journalists in the capital.

Hassan Hanafi, who was captured in neighbouring Kenya in 2014, was executed on Monday morning by a firing squad in Mogadishu after his appeal at a military court failed.

Hanafi was accused of helping fighters from the al-Qaeda-linked group identify possible targets in the journalism community between 2007 and 2011.

From 2009 to 2011 he worked for Radio Andalus, al-Shabab’s official mouthpiece.

In an interview aired on Somalia state TV in February, Hanafi admitted ordering the murder of several journalists.

But in an audio recording of a phone call leaked last month Hanafi appeared to claim he made the confessions after being tortured.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists more than 25 journalists have been killed in the Horn of Africa country since 2007.

Al-Shabab, which is seeking to overthrow the country’s Western-backed government, was pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011 by government troops backed by an African Union force.

It continues to carry out suicide attacks and targeted assassinations in south and central parts of the country, and it has also conducted major attacks in Kenya, Djibouti and Uganda, which all contribute troops to the African Union effort.

The article was published in Al Jazeera.

(Vox) 3 young Muslim Americans killed in mysterious ‘execution-style’ murders

A broadcast from the local Fort Wayne ABC affiliate, ABC21, announcing the murders ABC21

Early on Wednesday evening, as the sun began to set and the air cooled to just below freezing, police arrived at a unremarkable white home in Fort Wayne, Indiana, a few blocks from the campus of Indiana Tech. We do not yet know who called them or what they expected. Inside, they found the bodies of three young men, shot multiple times in what police, on Friday, called “execution style” murders.

The young men were members of a predominantly Muslim diaspora community whose roots are in Africa’s eastern Sahel region. They were Muhannad Tairab, age 17, Adam Mekki, age 20, and Mohamedtaha Omar, age 23. Police have identified no motive in the killing, which appears to be something of a mystery.

The modest white building had apparently become something of a “party house” used by local youths, but police said there was no known connection to gangs or any other violent organization.

Were they killed for their religion? A police spokesperson cautioned against jumping to conclusions, stating that, as of yet, they had “no reason to believe this was any type of hate crime, or focused because of their religion or their nationality whatsoever.”

Indeed it may turn out that there was some unseen force at play here: gang violence, a robbery gone awry, some personal dispute. Nonetheless, it seems impossible, at this point, to completely rule out the possibility that this could be exactly what Muslim American rights group already fear it may be: an expression of America’s increasingly violent Islamophobia problem.

In recent months, there has been an alarming trend of violence and violent threats against America’s community of roughly two to three million Muslim citizens.

There were the murders, almost exactly one year ago, of three Chapel Hill students, by a local man who’d expressed a paranoid hatred of religion. Later that spring, the FBI arrested the leader of a far-right militia that was planning to massacre a predominantly Muslim neighborhood in upstate New York. Another militia, in Texas, has sent its assault rifle-wielding members to stalk a local mosque and its adherents, later publishing the home addresses of “Muslims and Muslim sympathizers.”

More isolated acts of violence — what we might call “lone wolf” attacks had the religions of the shooter and victim been reversed — have been so frequent they are difficult to track.

On Thanksgiving, a Pittsburgh man accosted his Moroccan cab driver with questions about ISIS, then shot him. Two weeks later, a Michigan man called an Indian store clerk a “terrorist” before shooting him in the face. On Christmas eve in Texas, a local man charged into a Muslim-owned tire shop and shouted “Muslim!” as he opened fire, killing one and critically wounding another.

Less than a week ago, a Missouri man charged at a Muslim American family with a handgun, telling them, “This state allows you to carry a gun and shoot you. … You, your wife, and your kids have to die.” The family was able to flee.

This has not come out of nowhere. Islamophobia has entered mainstream American discourse in the past year, receiving substantial airtime on cable news networks. CNN anchors have called Muslims “unusually violent” and “unusually barbaric”; Fox News has called Islam a “destructive force” and suggested that Muslim American communities are running secret terrorist “training camps.” Presidential candidates from Donald Trump to Marco Rubio continue to dabble in overt Islamophobia.

It is important to caution against assuming that whatever happened this week in Fort Wayne, whatever chain of events led to the mysterious “execution-style” murders of three young men, must necessarily be part of the rising wave of Islamophobic violence in America. Police are presumably cautioning against that conclusion for a reason, and it may well turn out that their deaths are entirely unrelated.

Still, it is difficult to ignore that three apparently Muslim young men have been murdered, for no immediately obvious reason, just as indiscriminate violence against Muslim Americans is growing out of control.

It is thus concerning that these murders have received so little attention, if only for the possibility, however remote, that they could be part of this trend of religious violence against American citizens.

As a thought experiment, scroll back up to the top of this page and read back through, but this time imagine that the Muslim victims of violence, in every instance, were instead Christian. Imagine that the perpetrators had all been Muslim, and had targeted their victims explicitly because of their Christian faith.

Imagine that, rather than Donald Trump calling for banning Muslims from entering the US, it was Rep. Keith Ellison, who is Muslim, calling for banning Christians. Imagine that Rep. André Carson, who is also Muslim, complained bitterly when President Obama responded to anti-Christian violence by visiting a church, and that Carson further argued America should be willing toclose down churches and anywhere else dangerous Christians might congregate.

Now imagine, amid all this anti-Christian violence and anti-Christian hatred, as Christians were gunned down in the street for their religion and crowds of thousands gathered to cheer anti-Christian rhetoric, that three Christians youths turned up mysteriously executed a few blocks from Indiana Tech. Ask yourself whether it would be treated as major news, if only for the possibility of its connection to that wave of violence, or whether it would be largely ignored, as the murders of Tairab, Mekki, and Omar have been.

The article was published in Vox.

(Yahoo! News) Comoros VP wins first round of presidential vote

Mohamed Ali Soilihi votes at a polling station in Mbeni on January 25, 2015 during legislative elections (AFP Photo/Ibrahim Youssouf)

Mohamed Ali Soilihi votes at a polling station in Mbeni on January 25, 2015 during legislative elections (AFP Photo/Ibrahim Youssouf)

Moroni (Comoros) (AFP) – The vice president of the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Comoros, Mohamed Ali Soilihi, won the first round of the country’s presidential elections with 17.61 percent of the vote, preliminary results released late Tuesday showed.

Soilihi edged ahead of Mouigni Baraka, the governor of Grande Comore island, who garnered 15.09 percent, ahead of Colonel Azali Assoumani, who placed third with 14.96 percent.

The three candidates will now face off in a second-round of voting on April 10, with the winner succeeding outgoing President Ikililou Dhoinine.

Some supporters of Fahmi Said Ibrahim, who had been one of the favourites but trailed in fourth place, alleged his low count had been due to fraud.

Police dispersed a small group of Ibrahim supporters who gathered at the party’s headquarters on Grande Comore.

An African Union observer mission led by former Tunisian president Mohamed Moncef Marzouki said “apart from few isolated incidents, the entire election took place in an orderly and peaceful” manner.

The first round of voting on Sunday only took place on Grande Comore, in accordance with electoral rules that ensure the president is chosen on a rotating basis from one of the country’s three main islands.

The system was established in 2001 after more than 20 coups or attempted coups in the years following independence from France in 1975.

Dhoinine’s completion of his five-term term has been seen as a sign of growing stability in the Comoros.

The article was published in Yahoo! News.

(Yahoo! News) Crowded field competes for Comoros president

Voters queue in the Comoros capital Moroni to cast their ballots for the presidential election from a crowded field of 25 candidates on February 21, 2016 (AFP Photo/Ibrahim Youssouf)

Voters queue in the Comoros capital Moroni to cast their ballots for the presidential election from a crowded field of 25 candidates on February 21, 2016 (AFP Photo/Ibrahim Youssouf)

By Béatrice Debut, Aboubacar M’Changama

February 21, 2016 1:32 PM

Moroni (Comoros) (AFP) – Voters in the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Comoros cast their ballots in an election for a new president Sunday from a crowded field of 25 candidates, with a struggling economy and poor infrastructure high on the agenda.

Officials started counting the ballots after polling stations closed, using candlelight and camping lamps in a country that suffers from endemic electricity shortages that paralyse the economy, said an AFP journalist in Moroni.

Polling in the country of less than one million people took place without any major incidents, although some were delayed by the late arrival of voting materials.

Voting in areas affected by delays continued after the official closing time at 6:00 pm.

A total of 159,000 voters on Grande Comore island were eligible to vote in the first round of the election, in accordance with electoral rules that stipulate the president is chosen on a rotating basis from one of the archipelago’s three main islands.

Among those running for president are a former coup leader and the vice president.

After the first round, the three top candidates will go into a nationwide run-off on April 10 that will decide the successor to President Ikililou Dhoinine.

Dhoinine comes from Moheli, the smallest of the three main islands. The other island in the trio is Anjouan.

The system of rotating candidates among islands was established in 2001 in a bid to usher in stability after more than 20 coups or attempted coups, in the years following independence from France in 1975.

Among the candidates leading the field are vice president Mohamed Ali Soilihi, Grande Comore governor Mouigni Baraka and Azali Assoumani, a former coup leader and two-time former president.

Athoumani Toioussi, an unemployed mother who was voting in the capital Moroni, on Grande Comore, said she would vote for Assoumani, despite his coup history.

“Yes, he came to power through a coup but it helped get the country out of chaos,” Toioussi told AFP.

Another voter, Houmadi Ahmedi, favoured Baraka saying “he gave learning materials to elementary school.”

– Avoiding ‘double voting’ –

Moinaecha Youssouf Djalali, a businesswoman, is the only female candidate in a country where the majority are Sunni Muslims.

Dhoinine’s successful completion of his five-year term has been seen as a sign of growing stability in Comoros, though many candidates had expressed fears of electoral fraud.

“Real efforts are being made by the election commission and international actors to ease any political or social tensions,” European Union representative Eduardo Campos Martins said.

With suspicion poisoning the political atmosphere in the archipelago nation, “we are entering the sensitive phase now, with the tallying and counting,” said Nadia Torqui, a UN consultant.

The electoral commission on Saturday had agreed to a request from 20 candidates to ban proxy voting, seen as a possible source of fraud, “to preserve the peace”.

Voters were also set to be forbidden from leaving Moroni or moving between villages unless they had an official pass “to avoid double voting”, the interior ministry said.

The election is being monitored by dozens of African and international observers as well as a 425-person monitoring platform established by local civil society groups.

The campaign of all 25 candidates had been centred on similar promises of free health care, education and infrastructure improvement, in a country where the roads are riddled with potholes and women and children queue for water.

Voters were also choosing governors for the three islands.

Early results were expected from Sunday night.

The article was originally published in Yahoo! News.

(LA Times) Why a congresswoman from Los Angeles is talking about Africa

la-pol-ca-bass-africa-breakfast-20160223-001

From left: Rep. Karen Bass, Sheila Siwela, Zambia’s Ambassador to the U.S., and Tebelelo Mazile Seretse, Botswana’s Ambassador to the U.S. (Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call)

By Sarah D. Wire Contact Reporter

It’s 8 a.m., Congress isn’t in session and Washington’s roads are icy, but more than 100 ambassadors, academics, African emigres and heads of humanitarian groups have crammed into a basement room of the U.S. Capitol for an unofficial meeting about how Boko Haram and other terrorism groups are stunting African progress.

The regular breakfasts are the brainchild of Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), who is frustrated by a lack of attention paid to the continent and sees her own constituents with deep interest in policy toward Africa.

“In community organizing, you believe that the best policy is made by having those people that are most affected by the policy at the table. It’s not rocket science. If you do policy in a vacuum it can have unintended consequences,” she said in an interview after the meeting.

Bass first got involved in African policy because of South African apartheid in the 1970s and 1980s when she co-chaired the local Southern Africa Support Committee.

When apartheid ended, and Nelson Mandela was freed from prison in 1990, Bass’ attention shifted to stopping crack cocaine abuse and gang violence in  South-Central L.A. Bass started and ran the Community Coalition, a social justice organization. In 2004, she was elected to the state Assembly and in 2008 was the first African American woman in U.S. history elected speaker of a state legislative body.

“I stopped doing international work and just focused on domestic work. One of the reasons I was excited about coming to Congress is I could do both,” Bass said. “I really took almost a 20-year hiatus away from foreign policy.”

She views it as her responsibility.

“The same way it was my responsibility to figure out how to address the gang and crack intersection in South-Central, I also felt it was my responsibility to help fight to end apartheid and especially the U.S. government’s policies,” Bass said.

When she joined the House Foreign Affairs Committee after taking office in 2011, Bass said it didn’t feel like those actually affected by the committee’s decisions had a voice.

“When I would go to hearings on Africa, you would have no Africans participating, but they are sitting there in the audience while we’re talking about their countries. That just seemed odd to me,” she said.

She is now the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Human Rights, and International Organizations. Other Foreign Affairs Subcommittees focus narrowly on one or two subjects.

“That in and of itself to me kind of says that Africa is not a big enough priority to have its own focused subcommittee,” she said. “We could go easily a month or two without having a hearing on Africa [with] so many subject matters.”

Bass said she’s gone out of her way to work with the Foreign Affairs Committee, not supersede it, by having committee leaders co-host the breakfasts or speak.

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) said a wider group of people are excited about legislation before the committee because of Bass’ breakfast meetings. He’s spoken at a few.

“It’s effective,” he said. “Karen Bass is able to strategically use the enthusiasm of those who participate in the breakfasts in order to try to assist us.”

Royce pointed to several cases, including a bill recently signed by President Obama aimed at electrical infrastructure around the continent, the global anti-poaching act and congressional response to Ebola.

Bass said Africa may seem so far away to her Los Angeles constituents, “but we have a huge diaspora community in L.A.”

Her district includes Little Ethiopia, a block-long stretch on Fairfax Avenue between West Olympic Boulevard and Whitworth Drive.

“Even Little Ethiopia is a commercial strip. It is not like Ethiopians reside in that area. I’m sure some do, but that area’s very, very mixed,” she said.

She plans to talk with Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council about a trade mission and also a seminar to connect federal agencies with private businesses interested in investing in Africa, Bass said.

This year she wants to coordinate with the African diaspora living in Los Angeles and hold a policy breakfast in the city so her constituents can be heard too.

“I know there’s a huge Nigerian community, Cameroonian, and there are seven official consulates for seven African countries, and then there’s about another five honorary consulates,” she said. “There should always be a voice. If we come up with a policy we want to bounce it back and forth. You want the people that are most affected also pushing for the policy as well.”

Nii Akuettah, executive director of the African Immigrant Caucus, a coalition of immigrant groups in Washington, called Bass “a big champion for Africa.”

“There is a great deal of good will in the African community here for her and on the continent for her,” he said.

The periodic gatherings draw members of Congress, ambassadors from African countries, emigres or diaspora, and other people who have a stake in the United States’ policy regarding Africa, such as businesses, State Department officials and academics–and often the groups are “not on the same page,” Bass said.

The meetings began as a way to draw attention to reauthorization of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act. First created in 2000, AGOA gives special market access to certain sub-Saharan countries that maintain legal, human rights and labor standards. In June, President Obama signed bipartisan legislation extending the act until 2025.

The talks continued, with a focus on trade and economic development between the United States and African countries. Topics have ranged from Ebola to elections to electricity, and the July 2014 breakfast was also about instability because of Boko Haram, the northeastern Nigerian Islamist group.

Bass said Boko Haram must be addressed when looking to set policy about Africa’s future.

“You can’t talk about economic development, you can’t talk about the implementation of AGOA in countries without security and in countries that are not stable or are being destabilized because of Boko Haram,” she said.

Bass said many Americans underestimate the threat from the group.

“When you look at the number of people that have been killed by Boko Haram, it’s more than the number of lives lost to ISIS. I think part of our job here is raising the consciousness in the U.S. that just because something is happening on the continent, that doesn’t mean that it does not have international significance,” she said.

It’s her goal to reshape U.S.-Africa relations.

“We still kind of view Africa as a charity case and not as a continent that is a partner. Unfortunately, I think the United States is behind the rest of the world, because the rest of the world sees Africa as much more of a partner than we do,” she said.

The original article was published in the Los Angeles Times.

(The Guardian) Secret aid worker: ‘I was the obscure African girl in a room full of white faces’

It was sitting in a conflict resolution lecture – an intern in my early twenties and eager for life – when I knew that was it, I wanted to be an aid worker. I wanted to be the one who makes the difference.

I started my career as that obscure national staff member who took the minutes at important meetings and was good at it. Many times however, I would be the only African in those meetings and my role would solely be to take minutes. Strangely, and contrary to popular belief, minute taking is the best way to learn and adapt to new concepts. Nobody noticed me, or asked for my opinion; even when what they discussed affected how much food I had at dinner. So I listened, took notes and learned. Soon I knew more than most people coming to the meetings.

Close up of African boy raising hand

‘It has become my responsibility as the only African in a room to bring the reality of my home, my continent.’ Photograph: Alamy

A few years later, I landed my first international job. I had managed to convince a HR officer that I knew what I was doing better than anyone else going for the position, and that I deserved the job. This time, I became the obscure African girl who could relate to the context and whose opinion was closest to the reality of those affected by crisis. The room would fall silent when I spoke, and I felt relevant. I was making the difference, and I thought I was good at it.

That was until I was told: “you speak African, we cannot understand what you say”. That was actual feedback I got from one capacity building initiative set up by an organisation specifically to raise the profile of its “native” staff. I wanted to get on though so I changed my accent, pronouncing phrases like IDP camp as “IDP kemp” instead of “IDP kamp” in order to appeal more to an American audience. Now I start to construct my sentences before I pronounce them. I’m no longer making the difference, I’ve become an illusion of it.

The continent I call home is now “the field” for me and my colleagues, and the people we are contracted to serve have become indicators in the reports we churn out. When I’m in the field, the only difference between me and the starving mother of seven who I’m excited to photograph (in order to attach to my trip report), is the sheer fate that life brought us. Because I know how it feels to be hungry and desperate, I take it upon myself to make the field more than just numbers and check boxes. At the next meeting, I make a point to remind everyone that we are here to serve human beings.

The room falls silent when I speak. I notice a slight look of surprise from those around the table. I’m used to this, an expectation that I, like others would attend and take notes, agreeing to everything. But I’m no longer the obscure African girl that impressed her European audience because she is fluent, outspoken and confident. I am part of the decisions made on the lives of people. That is enough to outweigh comments like “you have such impressive intelligence” or “you don’t sound like most natives” that often come from well-meaning colleagues but are condescending and disrespectful.

I speak out when the politics of aid stops it from being useful, when we get derailed by bureaucracy and forget the starving mother of seven who hopes that her picture attached to a foreign report will provide her next meal. It has become my responsibility as the only African in a room full of white faces to bring into the room the reality of my home, my continent.

The silence in the room has stopped bothering me, and I no longer care that I must introduce myself multiple times to people because “all Africans look the same”. I am making a difference, even when it is sometimes difficult to see it. I remind myself that my place is deserved, I earned it and that I owe it to myself and others to let my presence be the difference.

The article was published in The Guardian.

(Rising Africa) Uganda Manufactures First Solar-Powered Bus in Africa

Kiira Motors Corporation is set to launch the first solar-powered bus ‘Kayoola’ in Africa in the corporation’s vision to spearhead the automotive industry in Uganda.

‘Kayoola’ can be loosely translated as ‘mass carrier’.

The Kayoola bus is uniquely designed to be powered by solar energy to make it environmental friendly.

It relies on 2 power banks (lithium-ion batteries) which power an electric motor that is coupled to a 2-speed pneumatic shift transmission.

The 2 power banks operate in automatic alternation to enable real time mobile battery recharging while the other is in use.

Mr Isaa Musasizi, the CEO Kiira Motors Corporation told journalists during the test drive at Namboole stadium on Sunday that Kayoola was built at an estimate of Shs 500m.

With a seating capacity of 35 passengers, the bus has a power capacity of 150KW (204HP) Peak and solar power of 1320W.

The solar panels on the roof harvest energy to run the bus on a range of 80kms (approximately 8 hours of nonstop movement).

“Uganda is privileged to be among the 13 countries in the whole world that are situated along the equator. We decided to take advantage of this strategic position to improve transport technology,” he said.

Mr Musasizi stressed the fact that most of the bus features are locally sourced and were assembled by a team of about 100 Ugandans.

These did the wielding, spraying, wiring among others.

“The body is typically our Roofings material and was worked on by hand. Also, the battery banks which are stainless steel were also fabricated from here. Uganda possesses polished skills to deliver automotives today.”

Transport challenges

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Sandy Stevens Tickodri who officiated at Sunday’s test drive said ‘Kayoola’ will go a long way in addressing Uganda’s mass transportation problem.

“We have buses all over the world but Ugandans must be proud to be championing a technology that represents clean energy,” said the Minister who birthed the idea of manufacturing Uganda’s first electronic car Kiira EV while still a Professor at Makerere University.

He said the innovation has raised the regional standard, adding; “The Kayoola sets a green precedence and inspiration trend for technological future in urban mobility for East and Central Africa.”

President Museveni is set to officially launch the Kayoola solar bus on February 16 at Kampala Serena Hotel.

Kiira Motors project is an industrial development intervention fully funded by Government of Uganda. It is aimed at establishing vehicle manufacturing capabilities in Uganda for Pickups, SUVs, Sedans, Light and Medium duty trucks and Buses.

The article was published in Rising Africa. 

(AFK Insider) Gates Foundation Pays For Contraceptive Delivery By Drone To African Women

Ghana health care. Photo Credit: gooverseas.com

Ghana health care.
Photo Credit: gooverseas.com

By Dana Sanchez

Published: January 29, 2016, 3:26 pm 

Drones are delivering contraceptives to hard-to-reach Ghanaian villages in a program jointly funded by the U.N. and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and it’s so successful that other countries want it too, HuffingtonPost reported.

Deliveries to rural Ghana that once took two days now take 30 minutes by drone, and each flight costs only $15, according to Kanyanta Sunkutu, a South African public health specialist with the U.N. Population Fund.

Sunkutu said he expected the pilot program in Ghana to encounter resistance, and worried people would associate the drones with war. So the U.N., in its program materials, referred to the drones only as “unmanned aerial vehicles” — not drones.

“We don’t want that link between war and what we are doing,” Sunkutu told The Huffington Post in an interview. “But the resistance we thought we would get has not been there.”

Less than than 20 percent of women in sub-Saharan Africa use modern contraceptives. In rural Africa, a flood can shut down roads for days and cut off medical supplies, making access to birth control a massive problem.

An estimated 225 million women in developing countries around the world want to delay or stop childbearing, but don’t have reliable birth control, according to the World Health Organization. This prevents women and girls from finishing school or getting jobs. About 47,000 women die of complications from unsafe abortions each year.

“We are particularly committed to exploring how our family planning efforts can meet the needs of young women and girls,” Bill and Melinda Gates said, according to their foundation website.

The idea to use drones for delivering birth control came from a program in the Amazon, Sunkutu said.

The drone operator packs a five-foot-wide drone with contraceptives and medical supplies from an urban warehouse and sends it over to places hard to reach by car. There, a local health worker meets the drone and picks up the supplies.

Project Last Mile has been flying birth control, condoms and other medical supplies to rural areas of Ghana for several months.

Now it’s expanding to six other African countries. The goal is to revolutionize women’s health and family planning in Africa. Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia, Ethiopia and Mozambique have expressed an interest.

Using drones to improve reproductive health isn’t exactly a new idea — it’s just new in Africa, according to Huffington Post. In June, a Dutch organization called Women on Waves used a drone to fly abortion pills to Poland, trying to raise awareness of Poland’s restrictive abortion laws.

Project Last Mile says it is the first to develop a long-term, sustainable program for delivering contraceptives by drone.

Sunkutu hopes that eventually drones will revolutionize other areas of rural African life., starting with family planning.

“They can deliver ballots after elections, or exams for school,” he said. It becomes a logistics management solution for hard-to-reach areas. We’re going to use family planning as an entry and make it sustainable.”

The article was published in AFKInsider.