Thursday, March 04, 2010

How can you not love something called "Afrobotics"?

"Afrobotics seeks to use competitive robotics to imbue the next generation of Africans with a cadre of scientists, engineers, innovators and entrepreneurs who are not only knowledgeable and skilled but critical thinkers and problem solvers.

"A cadre that is hands-on, technically creative and determined to apply their abilities to problems relevant to Africa.

"Our mission is to inspire African students to be science, engineering, and technology leaders, by enabling them in innovative team-based competitions that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire entrepreneurial risk-taking, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership."

Afrobotics |

Herman Chinery-Hesse: Turn the brain-drain into the round-trip brain-train

"Herman Chinery-Hesse, or ‘Africa’s Bill Gates’ as he is called by the BBC, is a highly respected Ghanaian technology entrepreneur who co-founded a million-dollar software company, SOFTtribe, and a truly visionary company, BSL.

"Chinery-Hesse had a fairly privileged childhood and left Ghana to study industrial technology at the Texas State University in San Marcos.

"However, he returned to Ghana in 1990 with the intention of staying for good. Unlike many of his peers who felt that all real opportunities were to be found abroad, he set about finding opportunities at home.

"His first project involved writing a software program for a travel agency in Accra to automate its accounting and customer service functions. The software was so successful that it was adopted by travel agents throughout the country."

Full story here.

See also:

Chinery-Hesse – Ghana’s Bill Gates

Using Technology to Boost Trade in Africa

Mo Ibrahim: "The other, brighter Africa"

Mohamed Ibrahim, telecom billionaire, writes:

"Alongside this focus on improving African governance, we must also put pressure on our leaders to encourage regional integration. Many small, landlocked African countries will never become serious players in the global economy without increased cooperation within their own regions.

"Today’s haphazard, overlapping regional integration is proving largely ineffective, and this severely hampers African countries’ ability to compete in international markets.

"One of the consequences of this lack of cooperation for Africa’s 967 million people is the bureaucratic replication and currency-exchange issues that being divided into 53 countries entails. China, with 1.3 billion people, is just one country; and the European Union, with some 500 million people, functions as a single economic market, with most of its members sharing a single currency.

"If Africa’s small and diverse nations do not come together, they will never integrate properly into the world economy, and so will not reap the benefits of our globalised world.

"Economic integration must be backed up by increased intra-regional trade; less than 4% of Africa’s trade is between African countries, compared to over 70% in Europe and over 50% in Asia.

"The International Monetary Fund credits Asian intra-regional trade as the main factor behind its recent export boom and strong economic growth. Africa, with its huge and often untapped markets, must follow the same path."

The rest of the article.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

TONIGHT ON THE TERRORDOME: Ali Abunimah on Israeli Apartheid Week, and Chris Abani on Literature as a Vehicle for Humanity

6 pm Mountain Time

FM 88.5 Edmonton worldwide
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Around the world and right here in Edmonton, advocates of the Palestinian cause are presenting the sixth annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW).

The IAW is hosted by more than 40 cities worldwide--from Bethlehem and Caracas to New York and Johannesburg. From March 1 to 14, lectures, performances, films and more will educate the public about the punishing effects of Israeli military occupation of Palestine and the unequal status of Arab citizens inside Israel. Organisers also call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

A multi-ethnic coalition including Palestinian, Jewish and other activists, IAW organisers framed their demands in a July 2005 Statement:

“full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, an end to the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands – including the Golan Heights, the Occupied West Bank with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip – and dismantling the Wall, and the protection of Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in U.N. resolution 194.”

On Monday night, Edmontonians heard the lead speaker for the local series of IAW events, the Palestinian-American journalist and co-founder of the news website Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah.

A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Chicago, Abunimah is a well-known analyst of Middle Eastern political affairs and contributes regularly to the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. He’s also published articles The New York Times, The Financial Times, Lebanon’s Daily Star and Ha’aretz, among others.

He’s the author of the 2007 book One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse, published by Picador, and one of the key figures behind the website The Electronic Intifada.

I spoke with Ali Abunimeh at the University of Alberta campus shortly before his talk.

“Bil’in weekly demonstration reenacts the Avatar Film”, December 02, 2009.

Chris Abani, Nigerian Novelist and Former Political Prisoner

Chris Abani, the dynamic Nigerian novelist and poet. When he was a youth, his James Bond-style spy thriller Masters of the Board delighted readers in Nigeria, but terrified the Nigerian government with the prospect that the book was a blueprint for a coup. So the Nigerian government threw the 18-year-old in jail.

Neither that nor f
uture imprisonment would deter Abani from engaging in political art, nor from embracing life with humour, intelligence and dignity.

A prolific writer, Abani has created other novels such as
Song For Night, The Virgin of Flames, Becoming Abigail and GraceLand. He’s also penned poetry collections such as Hands Washing Water, Dog Woman, Daphne’s Lot, and Kalakuta Republic.

Abani has received numerous honours for his literary and political output, including the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the California Book Award, the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award, the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, and a Guggenheim Award, among others.

He’s currently a Professor at the University of California at Riverside. Chris Abani spoke at the TEDGlobal conference in Arusha, Tanzania, in June 2007, explaining how stories are a key component for generating cultural self-knowledge.