Recent Sub-Saharan Africa Tech news in brief

Satellite data receiving station for Gambia
A station for receiving satellite data has been installed at the Gambia’s National Environment Agency as part of the Africa Monitoring of the Environment for Sustainable Development Programme, a pan-African programme developing geo-information services on the continent. The agency will be responsible for analysing the received data and supporting it use by other stakeholders. The station should be fully operational by early 2011. More>>

Biotech laboratory for Ghana
Construction has begun on a US$1.8 million biotechnology research laboratory for Ghana’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The laboratory, funded by the World Bank, will aim to strengthen procedures for the registration and release of genetic material and pesticides for commercial use. Felix Annor-Nyarko from the crops research institute at the council said the laboratory would also help build the capacity of researchers and support farm surveys. More>>

Nigeria needs renewable energy, says environment minister
The Nigerian minister of environment, John Odey, has said that renewable energy is key to the development of the country’s national energy programme. He was speaking at Nigeria’s first annual renewable energy day. He urged the nation to explore options such as biofuels and the use of wind and solar energy. “While determined to harness all our abundant primary energy resources to get adequate power to drive our vision of becoming one of the 20 most developed economies of the world by 2020, we are seeking to use the most climate-friendly technologies to accomplish this,” Odey said. More>

Nigerian university to receive US$15 million UN research grant
The Kwara State University in Nigeria will receive a US$15.3 million research grant from the UNESCO (the UN Educational and Cultural, Scientific Organisation) for its alternative energy programme. According to the university’s vice-chancellor, Abdul Rasheed Na’Allah, the grant will be used over six years to establish a UNESCO chair for the research programme. The programme aims to address critical energy concerns in the country through alternative energy development. More>>

Zambian scientists develop cassava cultivars to fight rural hunger
Zambian scientists have developed four new, early-maturing and high-yielding cassava cultivars to fight rural hunger. The project was undertaken in cassava-rich Luapula Province, under the country’s Root and Tuber Improvement Programme (RTIP). The cultivars, tested both in the laboratory and in the field, take less time to mature than traditional varieties and have better yields. “There are so many things you can do with cassava which you cannot do with other crops like maize or wheat,” said RTIP team leader Martin Chiona. “With this crop, you throw away literally nothing at all.” More>>

Produce quality seeds, Tanzanian scientists told
Tanzania’s agricultural scientists have been urged to produce better quality seeds. Jumanne Maghembe, the minister for agriculture, food security and cooperatives, said the shortage is a setback to the sector. He said the country requires 120,000 tonnes of improved seed a year for various crops, but only 30,000 tonnes are available in the country annually. More>>

New fibre optic cable to boost access to broadband services in Rwanda
Rwanda’s fibre optic cable, expected to boost the country’s access to various broadband services — including the fast-tracking of initiatives such as e-governance — has been laid. Patrick Nyirishema, deputy director of the Rwanda Development Board in charge of information technology, said that installation of equipment in institutions directly connected to the cable is underway, and the network will be operational by April. More>>

IT spending in Africa to grow by ten per cent in 2011
According to global research firm International Data Corporation (IDC), information technology (IT) spending in Africa will grow by ten per cent to US$25 billion this year. “This year IT markets in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa will continue to build on the post-downturn rebound in spending experienced in 2010,” said Jyoti Lalchandani, vice-president and regional managing director for IDC in the Middle East and Africa. “Investments to build out IT infrastructure will gain further momentum in most countries, particularly in the public sector.” More>>

Compiled by Ochieng’ Ogodo.

Source – SciDev.Net