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The most important in this week’s headlines out of and about Africa, for those who need help catching up.
In this week’s news, Darfur decides to vote on their political future, Nigeria looks to the cosmos, and Ethiopia turns to bamboo for economic boost.
Darfur Holds Controversial Election
Darfur, a Western part of Sudan, is holding a vote to decide if the region will remain divided as five states or if they will unite as a single state.
Proponents of a united Darfur have suggested that it will give the region a stronger role in Sudanese politics. While the idea of a vote may sound democratic, there are many concerns: more than 2.5 million people have been displaced by the conflict in Darfur since it started 13 years ago, and many of those refugees are not registered to vote. This has lead to concerns that the vote will not be free or fair, since many of the people directly affected by the outcome would not be able to vote.
Nigeria Aims to Have Astronaut in Space by 2030
Nigeria’s National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) has announced it’s plan to send people into space by 2030. Since 2003, NASRDA has developed and launched 5 satellites into space, using them for a variety of purposes, from collecting climate data to locating hostages taken by Boko Haram.
NASRDA believes that space is key to Nigeria’s development, and believes that putting a man in space will inspire Africans across the continent to look to the stars for inspiration and innovation.
Bamboo Could be Next Source of Income for Ethiopia
Farmers and entrepreneurs in Ethiopia are looking to partner with China to join the international bamboo trade.
Bamboo is an extremely versatile plant: while some variations are best known as decoration, others can also be used to make a variety of goods, including paper and furniture. Other variations are used as construction material, or even as a food source. Bamboo is also sustainable: it is extremely durable, and is the fastest growing plant in the world.
The worldwide bamboo industry is worth around $60 million, and becoming a major cultivator of the plant would be a massive boost to Ethiopia’s economy.