The Great Lakes Research Journal

In-depth reviews of issues and challenges facing Central Africa – ISSN: 1554-0391

Kenyan farmer Zack Matere is using the Internet to help his business, and is now trying to involve the rest of of his rural community.

When faced with the problem of people encroaching on the community’s water supply, Mr. Matere used Facebook to get assistance from the Forest Action Network, who helped him protect the area.

Mr. Matere was also able find a fix for his dying potato crop. He hopped on his bicycle and made a 10 kilometer trip to a local cyber cafe, where after a little bit of searching he was able to find a cure. He was also able to find a local buyer for his crop, too.

Unfortunately, the cost of accessing the Internet is too high for most farmers in rural Kenya. It costs Mr. Matere about 50 Kenyan shillings (.66 US a day) to access the Internet with his mobile phone.

To help his community, Mr. Matere plans to setup a notice board where he can share information on agriculture, health and education that he’s found on the Internet with everyone else.

Cultural barriers are also impeding Internet usage. Mr. Matere doesn’t believe people will be willing to use the Internet on their mobile phone in the isolation of their homes.

“The internet is quite an individual pursuit. But a noticeboard is more of a group thing.

“So if I post an item on a noticeboard on potato disease, for example, the community can read it, talk together and come to a decision,” said Mr. Matere.

It’s extremely important to have people such as Mr. Matere leading the way for Internet usage in rural communities in Africa. As seen with his experience, it can greatly improve people’s quality of life, and will also enable them to enter the global marketplace of ideas and business.

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President Robert Mugabe defended the policy move designed to help the ailing nation recover from 10 years of economic crisis. The new rule states that locals must own at least 51% of big corporations, while foreigners can own the rest.

“Our indigenisation policy, like the land reform programme, is meant to correct historical imbalances in the ownership of our resources,” said Mugabe.

This isn’t the first time the Zimbabwe government led by Mugabe has enacted radical reforms. Ten years ago they put in place land reforms that seized nearly 4,000 white owned farms and handed them out to beneficiaries. Ever since then, the nation has endured a massive slump in food production because of this haphazard attempt at reform.

Judging by its past attempts at “reform,” it’s doubtful that this new rule of corporate ownership will prove to be fruitful and help the country develop its economy.

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Six South African Airlines have been accused of raising fares for local flights in June, when the World Cup will be taking place. South African Airways, Comair, Mango, 1time, Airlink and SA Express are the airlines under investigation.

South African Airways has already been found guilty of price-fixing in the past, being fined 55 million rand (7 million USD) in 2006.

Ticket prices along with the availability of flights is partly being blamed for a reduction in the number of foreign fans attending the World Cup. Originally estimated at about 1 million, the number has now dropped to 450,000.

If the charges are proved to be true then these airlines must be dealt with immediately. It’s obvious that the situation has already contributed to a massive decrease in expected attendance to the World Cup, which will have a big economic impact on South Africa.

It also gets in the way of having as many people as possible visit the beautiful nation and seeing all it has to offer.

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According to the BBC, Africa has seen an increase in tourism thanks to the spotlight brought on by both the World Cup and Barack Obama winning the presidency. In fact, Africa is the only continent to actually see an increase in tourism, growing by 5% when the rest of the world saw a decrease of 4%.

This is wonderful news for all African nations. Africa has a lot of natural beauty that any traveler would relish seeing. So it’s nice that events like the World Cup and Barack Obama becoming the President of the United States of America can inspire people to visit the continent when they otherwise might not have thought of making such a trip.

Tourism can be a way for Africa to continue to develop economically and bring prosperity to its people. Although they have to make sure to keep the right balance between growth and protecting the environment that will attract visitors.

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