African press review 20 January 2015


Did you know that Africa is smaller on maps than it is in real life? Or that Apple and Sony might be linked to a child labour scandal? All that, and more, is in today's African press review.


We start with Kenya, and the fate of an army commander who went missing. Today's Standard  wonders about the location of "the commander who was in charge of El Adde camp where dozens of soldiers were killed" last Friday.

This as more and more survivors are being found after the Al-Shebab attack against a Kenyan camp in Somalia.

The Standard is looking for the commander because he apparently received "intelligence over the imminent attack" - at least  that's what a Somalian officer told Voice of Amercia.

There is growing suspicion that the layout of the El Adde camp was leaked to the insurgents.

"There is suspicion that a traitor from within KDF or someone within the Somali National Army leaked information to Al Shebab," writes the paper.

To Zimbabwe, where a drought could mean no electricity for the country. According to Business Day "water levels in southern Africa’s Lake Kariba have dropped to 12% of capacity".

This raises concerns about severe power rationning in Zimbabwe and Zambia -  as both countries "rely heavily on the Kariba dam for electricity". In comparison, last year at the same date, the dam was 53% full.

This is due to a prolonged drought that threatens crops across the Southern Africa region, the paper explains.

It also doesn't help that the dam is in a poor state of repair and could collapse if nothing is done. Zambia and Zimbabwe signed a deal last year to repair, bu efforts seems to have been delayed so far writes Business Day.

"With some countries in the region relying mainly on hydropower from the Zambezi" its collapse or full stop would be a catastrophy, concludes the paper.

Meanwhile, a new report for rights group Amnesty International claims tech giant Apple, Samsung and Sony might be linked to child labour in Africa. You'll find that story in South Africa's Independent.

The new report probes labour practicies in the mining of colbat  which  is used in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries" - a component you find in every cellphone James.

The Democratic Republic of Cong produces more than 50% of the world’s cobalt.

According to Amnesty, "miners face the risk of long-term health damage and a high risk of fatal accidents".

The organisation was told by children "that they work up to 12 hours a day, carrying heavy loads to earn between one and two dollars a day".

According to Unicef, there is more than 40.000 children working in DRC mines. This is how it works:

First, the traders sell the mineral to Congo Dongfang Mining (CDM), a wholly owned subsidiary of Chinese mineral giant Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Ltd.

The companies then "process the cobalt before selling it to three battery component manufacturers in China and South Korea", then the battery makers, supply Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony, and Volkswagen.

And finally, website Africa Check is asking us to rethink how we look at... maps.

The fact checking website reacted to comments from South African President Jacob Zuma, explaining that every other continent could fit into Africa.

And while this is completly false, the website notes that Africa is smaller on maps than it actually is.

There is, of course, the difficulty of representing a globe, earth is not flat after all, on a flat surface.

The problem here, while no map will ever be perfect, is that the Mercator map, the most commone one, is "centred on Greenwich".

According to Africa Check,  the representation are a "relic of Euro-centric colonial days". The disposition of the map is also an issue: why is Africa down, and Europe up, it asks.

This "north/south" division brings negative connotations, with developping countries alway at the bottom.

"In summary, maps, as with many visualisations, are simply representations of the world through the lens of their creator" concludes the article.

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