Day: April 20, 2010

Ten things we have learnt about Africa

A new study by the Pew Center has been released about attitudes from religion to morality in Africa.  It was based on interviews and surveys of 25,000 people and over 19 countries.

Some of the interesting finds are:

1. 75% of South Africans think polygamy is “morally wrong” – bad news for their president, as Jacob Zuma took his third wife earlier this year and is engaged to a fourth. However, the survey also revealed some possible double-standards. While only 7% of Rwandans approved of polygamy (although this did include women), a rather higher number – 17% – of men said they had more than one wife.

2. An overwhelming majority of respondents disapproved of homosexual behaviour. In three countries – Zambia, Kenya and Cameroon – this was a massive 98%. Interestingly, one of the countries with the highest numbers of people – 11% – accepting homosexuals is Uganda, where an MP is trying to get legislation passed which would punish homosexual acts with life in prison and even death in some cases. The former Portuguese colonies of Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique were also relatively tolerant of homosexuality.

3. Africa is probably the world’s most religious continent, with more than 80% saying they believed in God in most countries. At least half of the Christians questioned expect Jesus Christ to return to earth during their lifetimes. In Ethiopia, 74% of Christians say they have experienced or witnessed the devil or evil spirits being driven out of a person and in Ghana, 40% of Christians say they have had a direct revelation from God. About half of all Muslims expect to see the reunification of the Islamic world under a single ruler, or caliph, in their lifetimes.


4. Zimbabwe, where the Lemba people say they are the lost tribe of Israel, was not one of the countries surveyed. But 26% of Nigerian Christians said they traced their origins back to Israel or Palestine.

5. Belief in witchcraft is also common – about 40%; a similar percentage also visit traditional healers to cure sickness. Belief in witchcraft is highest in Tanzania with 93% – this is the country where witchdoctors say that magic potions are more effective if they contain body parts of people with albinism. Ethiopia had the lowest levels of belief in witchcraft – at just 17%. Belief that juju or sacred objects can prevent bad things happening was generally lower – between 20 and 30%. In Senegal, however, 75% thought such things worked – far higher than in Tanzania (49%). It may come as a surprise to learn that South Africa had the highest number of people – 52% – saying they took part in ceremonies of traditional religions, or honoured or celebrated their ancestors.

Mohamed Omar Ismail's hand is shown to the crowds before being  chopped off

A majority of people disapproved of Sharia punishments such as amputations

6. Predictably, there was also a religious split concerning alcohol, banned by Islam. Surprisingly, however, more Muslims in Chad (23%) approved of booze, than Ethiopian Christians (5%). This comes as a huge surprise to Ethiopia experts, however, who point out that it is traditional to welcome Orthodox Christian clergy with traditional honey beer when they visit your house. Maybe “alcohol” was only taken to mean spirits by some of the respondents?

7. Attitudes to divorce showed a strong divide along religious lines in Nigeria. A massive 79% of Christians thought it was “morally wrong”, while among Muslims, a narrow majority (46-41%) accepted divorce.

8. In recent years, Islamist hardliners in Somalia and Nigeria have introduced strict punishment based on Sharia law, such as amputating the hands of thieves and even stoning to death for adultery. The majority of people disapproved of such Sharia punishments. In Nigeria, they were backed by about 40% of Muslims and less than 10% of Christians. However, a majority did approve of whippings and amputations in Senegal and Mali. In nearby Guinea-Bissau, even 50% of Christians backed them. This was double the rate among Muslims in Ethiopia (25%) – maybe it feels like a more realistic prospect to them, as they share a border with Somalia and most Muslim Ethiopians are ethnic Somalis.


The blending of religions like Islam and Christianity with African religions is one way of ensuring survival of traditional religions

BaDumisani, Berlin

9. The survey also asked about material well-being in the world’s poorest continent. Not so long ago, Cameroon regularly topped surveys of champagne consumption per head. However, a shocking 71% of Cameroonians surveyed said there were times in the past year when they did not have enough money to buy food. In Ethiopia, which is commonly seen as a country struggling to feed itself, the rate was far lower – at 30% – the lowest of all countries surveyed.

10. Ethiopia did, however, have the lowest numbers of people – 7% – who said they regularly used the internet. Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame is striving to turn his country into Africa’s answer to Silicon Valley and is being helped by the arrival of several new fibre optic cables off the east coast of Africa. He will be encouraged by the finding that 30% of his countrymen – the highest number – regularly browsed the web. Mobile phones, were far more common – with 81% of respondents in Botswana owning one. Many countries reported more than 50% having phones but here, Rwanda lagged behind at just 35%.

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IBM to Support Local IT in Tanzania

IBM begins to expand its footprint in Africa, by helping to fund local home grown computer talent.

Dar Es Salaam — IBM, a company that deals with information technology, has signed an agreement with the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training to support the adoption of Information Technologies and education.

Under the agreement, IBM will support the government’s vision to build IT environment around the University of Dodoma, the ‘Silicon Valley’.

According to Country General Manager, IBM East Africa, Mr Anthony Mwai, the company will under the agreement, facilitate collaboration with US universities on research projects in the area of smarter cities, cloud computing and business analytics.

He added that, IBM will also support the Ministry in developing and implementing better access to technology and educational resources for Tanzanian universities and Secondary Schools, especially in interior areas of the country.

The agreement further underscores IBM’s commitment to Tanzania and the importance of information technology in the country’s development by leveraging cutting edge technologies.

Both sides, the US and Tanzania will benefit from this partnership. This will only enhance and deepen the economic trust for both parties.

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Nepad Unveils Project to Attract Investments Into Africa

More economic investment opportunities due to 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development, NEPAD unveiled ‘The Best of Africa 2010-2015’ project aimed at attracting investments into Africa.

The project will focus on showcasing Africa as a business and investment destination, according to NEPAD’s Planning and Co-ordinating Agency chief executive officer Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki.

The initiative draws on the declaration of the 8th Assembly of the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government through which the AU reaffirmed its commitment to make the 2010 World Cup a truly African tournament.

“We are looking to take advantage of the presence of the international and African business representatives that will be in South Africa for the World Cup in June. The idea is to get these representatives to engage each other on increased investments, growth and development for Africa.” says Dr. Mayaki.

The Best of Africa project will take place in the first week of the World Cup in South Africa and will include a business conference, an exhibition and a cultural festival – all designed to showcase opportunities in the continent.

“It is a worthwhile initiative but much will depend on how well the African governments follow through with parties interested in investing in Africa. It is clear that there are investment opportunities in Africa but it is important to provide the favourable environment for investors to see a return.” says TradeInvestSA editor JP van der Merwe.

“Feasibility studies for new projects will need to be thorough, land rights and ownership will need to be well defined and governments will have to outline definitive investment plans, where a thorough step-by-step process is followed. For portfolio investments, African markets will have to continue to open themselves up so that potential investors can buy or sell assets quickly and without hassle,” he adds.

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