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Symantec Internet Security Threat Report Reveals Increase in Cyberespionage – Including Threefold Increase in Small Business Attacks

Posted on 13 May 2013 by Africa Business

Release includes Top 30 countries in Africa in terms of their internet security threat profile

About Symantec

Symantec ( protects the world’s information, and is a global leader in security, backup and availability solutions. Our innovative products and services protect people and information in any environment – from the smallest mobile device, to the enterprise data center, to cloud-based systems. Our world-renowned expertise in protecting data, identities and interactions gives our customers confidence in a connected world.

DUBAI, UAE, May 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ Symantec Corp.’s (Nasdaq: SYMC) ( Internet Security Threat Report, Volume 18 (ISTR) ( today revealed a 42 percent surge during 2012 in targeted attacks compared to the prior year.  Designed to steal intellectual property, these targeted cyberespionage attacks are increasingly hitting the manufacturing sector as well as small businesses, which are the target of 31 percent of these attacks. In addition, consumers remain vulnerable to ransomware and mobile threats, particularly on the Android platform.

Top 30 countries in Africa in terms of their internet security threat profile:

Johnny Karam – Regional Director Middle East and French-speaking Africa Symantec

“This year’s ISTR shows that cybercriminals aren’t slowing down, and they continue to devise new ways to steal information from organizations of all sizes,” said Johnny Karam, regional director, Middle East and French-speaking Africa, Symantec. “The sophistication of attacks coupled with today’s IT complexities, such as virtualization, mobility and cloud, require organizations to remain proactive and use ‘defense in depth’ security measures to stay ahead of attacks.”

ISTR 18 Key Highlights Include:

Small Businesses Are the Path of Least Resistance

Targeted attacks on businesses with fewer than 250 employees are growing. Small businesses are now the target of 31 percent of all attacks, a threefold increase from 2011. While small businesses may feel they are immune to targeted attacks, cybercriminals are enticed by these organizations’ bank account information, customer data, intellectual property and the knowledge that they often lack adequate security practices and infrastructure.

Manufacturing Sector and Knowledge Workers Become Primary Targets

Shifting from governments, manufacturing has moved to the top of the list of industries targeted for attacks in 2012.  Often by going after manufacturing companies in the supply chain, attackers gain access to sensitive information of a larger company. In addition, in 2012 the most commonly targeted victims of these types of attacks were knowledge workers (27 percent) with access to intellectual property and those in sales (24 percent).

Mobile Malware Put Consumers and Businesses at Risk

In 2012, mobile malware increased by 58 percent, and 32 percent of all mobile threats attempted to steal information, such as e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Android’s market share, its open platform and the multiple distribution methods available to distribute malicious apps, make it the go-to platform for attackers.



Symantec Corporation

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Multi-faceted consumer car market bucks economic trend, says Standard Bank South Africa

Posted on 06 May 2013 by Africa Business

The South African new car market is bucking the economic trend with sales increasing by 4.1% to 163 092 units during the first three months of 2013 when compared to the same period last year. This is despite tough economic conditions, with the South African Reserve Bank expecting GDP to grow by only 2.7% during 2013.

Sydney Soundy, head of Vehicle and Asset Finance at Standard Bank South Africa, says that the prosperity within the market is notable when compared to other sectors, which were feeling the brunt of reduced consumer spending and the cost pressure caused by higher inflation and fuel prices, among other factors.

“Consumers seem to be taking advantage of the low interest rate environment and clearly still have an appetite for secured credit,” Mr Soundy says.

Vehicle sales continue to be driven by passenger vehicles and individual purchases. As at February 2013 total vehicle instalment debtors and leases were made up largely by individuals, who made up 72% of the instalment and leases book.

Looking at the South African buyer reveals several interesting facts.

“The majority of people applying for vehicle finance are between the ages of 18 and 45, constituting 62.4% of the market. These consumers display the highest level of awareness about technical changes to vehicles taking place in the industry, the brand offerings available, the legislation and the financial offerings available to buyers,” Mr Soundy says.

He notes that manufacturers have reacted to this knowledgeable sector of the market by ensuring that their offerings are competitively priced and offer the features demanded. One of the results is a diversified market in which about 70 brands of passenger vehicle are available, offering customers a choice of around 2 500 variants.

“About 65% of consumers are purchasing cars that cost less than R200 000. Toyota, Hyundai and Volkswagen are some of the manufacturers that have met the need for buying economical vehicles, capturing 50% of the new car market in this segment,” he said. Smaller engine vehicles (<1.7 litres) have seen the biggest sales growth in recent times, growing by just under 12% in 2012 from 2011, compared to growth of 9% and 1% for medium (1.8 to 3 litres) and large (>3 litres) engine vehicles respectively.

Consumers have been addressing the monthly affordability of repayments for their vehicles of choice in different ways, including through financing vehicles over a longer period, using the Residual Value option on their finance deals, and varying the extent of deposits offered.

The advent of the National Credit Act has also seen finance contracts taken over longer terms, with the average contract for new vehicles now being just over 60 months. “The average settlement period for new vehicles however, is just over 40 months,” Mr Soundy says.

Applications with a residual value request have increased, with the overall percentage of applications received with residual values at around 13% in the first quarter of 2013, from just over 11% in 2012. Consumers are seeing the benefit of this finance option, in which the monthly installments are reduced due to a residual value.

In the first quarter of this year, Standard Bank South Africa has seen an increase in the number of vehicle finance applications; however the percentage of applications with deposits have declined, with more consumers seeking to finance vehicles without a deposit.

Mr. Soundy also notes that although the traditional installment sale agreement remains very popular, consideration for alternative financing options, such as rental and leasing options, is gaining traction.

“Astute consumers are well aware that a vehicle cannot be deemed an asset. They are shifting the risk of vehicle ownership and residual values, and the responsibility of disposing the vehicle at the end of the contract, to the financier.”

Looking ahead, Mr Soundy notes that certain factors this year may work against growth in new vehicles sales. These include the Rand exchange rate which could put pressure on vehicle prices, continuing high levels of consumer household debt, and the high level of households with impaired credit records. Increases in food prices, energy prices (both fuel and electricity), and transport costs, including toll fees, will also impact on consumers’ disposable income. Inflation will be under pressure to remain below the target of 6% in 2013, impacted largely by the depreciation of the Rand and higher fuel prices.

“The Rand is likely to remain sensitive to both domestic and global developments. This could have a negative knock-on effect on vehicle prices,” he says. “However, the effect of the exchange rate has not yet reflected in car sales. Last year, vehicle prices rose by only 2.2% year-on-year.”

Mr Soundy believes that the continuing current low interest rate environment and the competitive nature of the South African motor industry will provide potential boost for growth in the market.

He says that Standard Bank South Africa’s financing activities will continue to be based on responsible lending that takes into account cash flow optimisation for both personal and commercial customers.

“Regardless of the economic situation, we will continue to assist customers by developing and providing financial services that make the acquisition of vehicles, whether for private or corporate use, as easy as possible.”


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Korn/Ferry Survey: Executives Say Most Important Strategy For Leading Global Companies Is Talent Management

Posted on 25 March 2013 by Africa Business

-Yet 35 Percent Say They Do Not Have a Talent Management Strategy in Place-

About The Korn/Ferry Institute
The Korn/Ferry Institute generates forward-thinking research and viewpoints that illuminate how talent advances business strategy. Since its founding in 2008, the institute has published scores of articles, studies and books that explore global best practices in organizational leadership and human capital development. For more information, visit

About Korn/Ferry International
Korn/Ferry International is a premier global provider of talent management solutions, with a presence throughout the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The firm delivers services and solutions that help clients cultivate greatness through the attraction, engagement, development and retention of their talent. Visit for more information on Korn/Ferry International, and for thought leadership, intellectual property, and research.

LOS ANGELES /PRNewswire/ — When asked what they feel is the single most important corporate strategy for their company to implement, 45 percent of global executives say talent management – and they indicate it is more critical than marketing (26 percent), financial management (21 percent) and capitalization (7 percent).

These results are from a survey of global executives conducted from February 6 to March 8, 2013 by Korn/Ferry International (NYSE: KFY), a premier global talent management company.

Despite ranking talent management the No.1 corporate strategy, 35 percent of respondents say their companies do not have a talent management strategy in place.

Further emphasizing the importance global executives place on talent, the survey also reveals that 86 percent of executives believe that a strong management team is the most critical component to a company’s success. Yet, 43 percent say they do not believe their company has the right management team for the company over the next 12 months and 56 percent do not believe they will have the right team five years from now. This is despite the fact that just seven percent of respondents believe their company’s strategy will remain the same in five years.

“Our survey indicates that even when top executives say that a strategic approach to determining human capital needs such as recruiting, hiring and retention is one of the highest priorities on their agenda, many companies’ talent management practices lag behind the minimum accepted standards,” said Ana Dutra , Chief Executive Officer, Korn/Ferry Leadership and Talent Consulting. “Many companies today have yet to align their talent strategies with the changing nature of business strategies.”

“What apparently has yet to take hold in companies is recognition that business strategies are constantly changing and that companies need their leaders to be able to grow and learn from their experiences as well as update their talent strategies in order to execute on more challenging business performance targets,” added Dutra.

Questions and detailed results are as follows:

Q:  What do you think is the SINGLE most important strategy for a company to implement?

Talent Management 45%
Marketing 26%
Financial Management 21%
Capitalization 7%


Q:  Has your company implemented a talent management strategy?

Yes 59%
No 35%
Never heard of

talent management



Q:  Who has primary responsibility for your company’s talent management strategy?

CEO 45%
Chief HR Officer 36%
COO 10%
CFO 0%
No one 8%


Q:  Of the attributes listed below, which one do you think is most critical to a company’s success?

Strong management team 86%
Effective marketing 8%
Sound financials 5%
Long-term funding 1%


Q:  Does your company have the right management team to guide and operate the company for:

12 Months 3 Years 5 Years
Yes 57% 43% 44%
No 43% 57% 56%


Q: Do you think your company’s strategy will remain the same for the next…?

12 Months 3 Years 5 Years
Yes 40% 28% 7%
No 60% 72% 93%

The Korn/Ferry Institute Executive Survey is based on a global survey of executives registered within the firm’s online Executive Center, Respondents representing a wide spectrum of industries and functional areas participated in the most recent Executive Survey in February and March 2013. Due to rounding, percentages of responses may not equal 100 percent.


SOURCE Korn/Ferry International

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Human Trafficking and the Human Rights Agenda Against Eritrea (Part 1)

Posted on 18 March 2013 by Africa Business

By Simon Tesfamariam

Human Trafficking and the Human Rights Agenda Against (Final) (.pdf Acrobat Reader)


On March 1, 2013, Joel Millman of the Wall Street Journal published a piece entitled “Ruthless Kidnapping Rings Reach From Desert Sands to U.S. Cities.” The article chronicles the touching personal accounts of Eritrean refugees being kidnapped and taken for ransom in Egypt’s Sinai desert. As disheartening as this piece may be to even the most apathetic observers, Eritreans are growing increasingly aware of the fact that similar articles highlighting the trafficking of Eritreans are becoming a regular occurrence. Although human trafficking, smuggling, and migration have been longstanding problems that have plagued the so-called developing world, it seems somewhat curious that Eritrea is suddenly getting the brunt of the international attention. Why now? Although increased international attention may be positive in that it sheds needed light on the plight of the affected migrants, the reality is that pieces like this are often politically motivated, lacking context, skewing the facts on the ground, and serving as part of larger campaign to vilify and isolate Eritrea.

Before we delve into this whole human trafficking ordeal, we must note that Eritrea was the target of UN sanctions in 2009. Since then, the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) has been regularly reporting on Eritrea’s role in Somalia to the Security Council. The group has made many ridiculous claims ranging from Eritrea’s alleged support of al-Shabab in Somalia to a failed bombing attempt on an African Union summit in Ethiopia. Both accusations were later shown to be false [1, 2]. As the last SEMG report reveals, linking Eritrea to terrorism is a futile task. [3] The expectations of the nation seem like a moving target and now the new focus of the international media and the SEMG is on Eritrea’s “use of revenues from the taxation of Eritrean citizens in the diaspora, from human trafficking of refugees through Sudan and Egypt, and from gold mining.” [4] The emerging concerns regarding a sovereign state’s use of its revenues from any legitimate source–be it from a diaspora tax or gold mining or whatever–is a mystery unworthy of pursuit. The human trafficking issue, however, is a serious allegation that may be used in conjunction with broader human rights allegations to build a case for the expansion of UN sanctions on Eritrea. Thus, the issue requires further inspection.

In a speech regarding human trafficking delivered at the Clinton Global Initiative on September 25 of last year, President Obama made the following remarks:

I recently renewed sanctions on some of the worst abusers, including North Korea and Eritrea.  We’re partnering with groups that help women and children escape from the grip of their abusers.  We’re helping other countries step up their own efforts.  And we’re seeing results.  More nations have passed and more are enforcing modern anti-trafficking laws. [5]

What kind of “partnering” is he talking about, exactly? It’s not within the US’s authority or obligations to help people escape from a nation. To do so would be human smuggling. President Obama is essentially admitting to taking part in smuggling people out of Eritrea and North Korea. The US can only support those who take refuge in the US following immigration from another nation. The president’s comments came as surprise to many Eritreans.

About one month later, Eritrea’s presidential advisor, Yemane Gebreab, explained that “Eritrea is a victim of human trafficking” and that “for a number of years now, some people have felt that one way that they could weaken Eritrea would be by encouraging Eritrean youths to leave the country in larger numbers.” [6] Are his claims valid? Is there a systematic effort to drive youth out of Eritrea?

Linking Eritrea to Human Trafficking

Let us rewind to May 5, 2009. In a wikileaked diplomatic cable entitled “Promoting Educational Opportunity for Anti-Regime Eritrean Youth,” the then US Ambassador to Eritrea, Ronald K. McMullen explained that “Post plans to restart visa services (completely suspended in 2007) for student visa applicants; we intend to give opportunities to study in the United States to those who oppose the regime.” [7] He then goes on:

Post intends to begin adjudicating student visa applications, regardless of whether the regime is willing to issue the applicant an Eritrean passport and exit visa. If an applicant is otherwise found eligible for a student visa, Post will issue it in a Form DS-232…With an Eritrean passport and an F1 visa in a Form DS-232, the lucky young person is off to America. For those visa recipients who manage to leave the country and receive UNHCR refugee status, a UN-authorized travel document might allow the young person to travel to America with his or her F1 in the DS-232.

…Due to the Isaias regime´s ongoing restrictions on Embassy Asmara, Post does not contemplate a resumption of full visa services in the near future. However, giving young Eritreans hope, the chance for an education, and the skills with which to rebuild their impoverished country in the post-Isaias period is one of the strongest signals we can send to the Eritrean people that the United States has not abandoned them. Were we to begin processing student visa applications and require a regime-issued passport, we would be seen as strengthening the dictatorship´s hand. Thus, the limited category-specific exemption outlined above is key.

The cable’s title alone, reveals the ambassador’s intentions. And if one wonders why brain drain is an issue in the developing world, perhaps this cable may provide some insight. What young person, anywhere in the world, wouldn’t want a chance to come to the US? Though the more important question is, why now? Why restart issuing visas in 2009 after a two year suspension? Perhaps the answers will become clear shortly. McMullen, who clearly seeks to weaken the Eritrean “regime” (as in “government we don’t like”), also makes curious mention of preparing for a “post-Isaias period,” which becomes more interesting when one considers that his doctoral thesis at the University of Iowa was on the “Economic Consequences of African Coups D’etat.” [8] He also served as the Charge’ d’Affaires in the Fiji Islands during the 2000 coup d’etat. In another leaked cable he predicted the Eritrean government is ‘‘one bullet away from implosion’’ and posed that “any sudden change in government is likely to be initiated from within the military.” [9] McMullen is no longer the ambassador but in light of the recently fabricated “coup” rumor that the international mainstream media has been recklessly trumpeting,  [10] perhaps the US sent McMullen to make use of his expertise. As Rafael Correa once jokingly stated, “the only country that can be sure never to have a coup d’état is the United States because it hasn’t got a U.S. Embassy.”

While on the one hand secretly promoting Eritrean youth migration, the US administration was simultaneously taking actions against Eritrea for not doing enough to stop it. One month after McMullen’s cable announcing the secret restart of F1 visa processing, in violation of the basic tenets of consular relations, the US Administration suddenly classified Eritrea as a “Tier 3″ nation in the US State Department’s June 2009 “Trafficking in Persons Report.” [11] Keep in mind that Eritrea didn’t even make the list in 2008 and, unlike other nations that started off with Tier 1 and 2 warnings, Eritrea jumped straight to Tier 3. The entire reasoning behind doing this is that it allows trafficking nations to meet the “minimum standards” by the following year. [12] As a result of this unprecedented move, President Obama added Eritrea and 5 other African countries to a blacklist that would subject them “to the trafficking sanctions, which can include a ban on non-humanitarian and trade-related aid and U.S. opposition to loans and credits from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.” [13]

What did the report say about Eritrea, exactly? In essence it stated that Eritrea was a “source country” for human trafficking and that it didn’t do enough to prevent the practice. That could apply to almost every nation on the planet. Notably, the report focused more on “large numbers of migrant workers” and made almost passing mention of the Eritrean government being “complicit in conscripting children into military service.” In spite of no significant policy changes to the Eritrean national service program, subsequent reports, which are released annually, focused less on the “migrant workers” and increasingly more on the “conscripts,” “adolescent children” being sent to Sawa, and “child laborers.” More on this later.

Following the TIP report, US ambassador McMullen’s writes in an August 26, 2009 leaked diplomatic cable about a young unnamed Eritrean “who is preparing to flee the country” and supposedly confesses the intricate details of his escape plan. [14] McMullen writes that he will “use one of the Eritrean National Security Officers (ENSO), who he claimed to be the ringleaders in smuggling of Eritreans to the Sudan border” and “he stated the cost at 80,000 nakfa.” This is the first time we see official US documentation of claims that Eritrean government officials are directly involved in the smuggling of citizens outside the country. This is despite the fact that about a year earlier the Chargé d’Affaires, Matthew D. Smith, confessed in another leaked diplomatic cable entitled “How To Escape From Eritrea” that “the GSE [Government of the State of Eritrea] is very keen to break these human smuggling rings and dispatches agents to pose as potential customers. Other agents pose as facilitators, making all of the supposed smuggling arrangements prior to having the unsuspecting person arrested.” [15]

In spite of the Eritrean government’s efforts to combat smuggling, the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) produced a report in 2011 that expanded on McMullen’s claims. The report states:

421. The well-documented exodus of young Eritreans to escape poverty or obligatory “national service” represents yet another opportunity for corruption and illicit revenue. People smuggling is so pervasive that it could not be possible without the complicity of Government and party officials, especially military officers working in the western border zone, which is headed by General Teklai Kifle “Manjus”. Multiple sources have described to the Monitoring Group how Eritrean officials collaborate with ethnic Rashaida smugglers to move their human cargo through the Sudan into Egypt and beyond. This is in most respects the same network involved in smuggling weapons through to Sinai and into Gaza.

422. According to former Eritrean military officials and international human rights activists, military officers involved in the practice charge roughly $3,000 a head for each person exiting Eritrea.

…The Monitoring Group has obtained details of a Swiss bank account into which the proceeds from smuggling have been deposited and has provided the Swiss authorities with information related to this account, together with the personal and contact details of the Swiss-based coordinator of this trafficking ring and details of the coordinator’s Egypt-based associates. [16]

For the SEMG’s extraordinary claims it cites as its only sources an “interview with Eritrean individuals directly involved in people smuggling operations” and an “interview with Eritrean source, Switzerland, March 2011.” In the 2012 follow-up report, the SEMG repeats the same human trafficking claims, citing no sources as evidence. “The trafficking of arms and people is managed by the same networks using the same vehicles, and the same Eritrean officials are implicated,” the report states. The SEMG then claims to have acquired 1,300 testimonies of which “61 were from Eritreans who identified the names of Rashaida smugglers.” Artfully interweaving groups of similar testimonies as vignettes, the report attempts to illustrate the validity of earlier claims made by the SEMG. Finally, it shows photos of body wounds of two unnamed and faceless torture victims. The annex is only 3 pages long, filled with photos, and has nothing to do with human trafficking allegations.

After reading both reports, one is left scratching their head. That’s it? No real people’s names? No bank account numbers? No photos of human traffickers? Where is the hard evidence? Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. To put things in perspective, imagine a man is brought to trial on charges of torture and the prosecuting team presents the following as their “evidence” against him:

1. Claims against him by unnamed interviewers with no transcripts for the court to review

2. Pictures of unnamed and faceless victims he allegedly tortured

3. 61 snippets of testimonies by the nameless victims who he allegedly tortured

4. Claims against him by people who openly call themselves his “opposition“

5. Claims against him by one of his former torturer buddies, who is unnamed

The defendant then demands access to the evidence and witnesses for cross-examination but his request is denied. Based on the information, he is then found guilty and expected to accept his sentence. Would that be justice? Of course not. However, this is exactly what Eritrea has had to face regularly in regards to the UN Security Council and SEMG reports. This system of international law requires incredible trust in the prosecutors–the SEMG, in this case–who Eritrea had no say in appointing. And if we think that the SEMG is actually a committee of independent experts as opposed to a prosecuting team, then why would the head of the SEMG, Matt Bryden, say “we’re trying to make the case that any improvement in Eritrea’s conduct is the result of sanctions, and that it’s too early to lift them because of the other violations they have committed”? [17] In essence, he’s saying ‘yeah, I know we couldn’t find evidence that they support terrorism but please keep the sanctions because of this new human trafficking ordeal.’ In other words he is prosecuting and making a case against Eritrea and, unfortunately, it’s completely within his mandate to share his opinion [18]. That’s UN justice for you. The SEMG’s “evidence” would be considered a joke if wasn’t so serious. According to the UNSC, the successful implementation of “targeted sanctions” on any nation is premised on the expectations that the “panel of experts” will uphold the highest standards of evidence, which is the key tenet of the 2003 Stockholm Process. In this regard, the 2003 UNSC states:

While recognizing that it might sometimes be necessary to uphold the confidentiality of sources of information available to expert panels or monitoring groups regarding sanctions busting or non-compliance, the Stockholm paper notes that the credibility of the findings and the integrity of the process required that evidence be as transparent and verifiable as possible….sanctions should be based on concrete evidence of violations of international law or Council obligations, and not based on presumptions, media reports or motivated allegations. [19]

The SEMG report clearly falls short. To make matters worse, Eritrea doesn’t get to comment or defend itself at any point in the process because according to the SEMG, which unprofessionally leaked the report to the media before Eritrea could see it, [20] “the Government of Eritrea failed to provide responses to any Monitoring Group correspondence and declined to grant the repeated requests.” How convenient. Where have we seen this sort of tactic before? For years, the world has been unable to hear Eritrea’s side of the story:

A. On the Kenyan defections: “Eritrean officials were unavailable for comment on Tuesday.” [21]

B. On Eritrea’s alleged bombing of the AU (proved false by WikiLeaks [22]): “Eritrean officials were unavailable for comment on Tuesday.” [23]

C. On claims of human trafficking: “Eritrean government…did not respond to requests to provide information for this report.” [24]

D. On relations with the US: “It has been difficult to talk to Eritrea frankly. We have had trouble getting them to talk to us. I sent the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs to talk with Mr. Isaias and he didn’t see her.” [25]

E. On breakdown of US-Eritrea relations: “Eritrean officials were not immediately available to comment on the decision” [26]

The list goes on and on, ad infintum. The point is that Eritrea is not allowed to defend itself in court, in the media, in reports, or anywhere in the international arena. It’s no surprise that Eritrea is so misunderstood by the world. In contrast, the darlings of the mainstream media, the US and Ethiopia, were also accused of violating the Somali arms embargo by the former Somalia monitoring groups yet we saw no prosecution by the UNSC. Is this justice? No way! In the words of Gerald Celente, it’s “just-us” and unfortunately Eritrea isn’t one of “them.”

Following the SEMG report, the UNHCR released a report in November 2012 entitled “Refugees and the Rashaida: human smuggling and trafficking from Eritrea to Sudan and Egypt.” [27] The document states that “it has come to light that some members of the military and Eritrean Government are complicit in smuggling” and it references the 2012 SEMG report. It talks about General Teklai Kifle, adding no new information, and then goes on at length about the Rashaida ethnic group’s involvement in the human trafficking business. In regards to both of them, “it is thought there are varying levels of experience and organization within the groups of Rashaida who engage in taking Eritreans to Sinai. However other networks, such as those organized by some members of the Eritrean Government for smuggling arms are highly organized.” In other words, the government is the syndicate–the major player. What’s interesting about this particular report is the divisive new ethnic and regional dimension it seems to take:

There is a marked difference between the majority of the refugee population and those now leaving Eritrea. Those now leaving the country are young, Christian, Tigrinya from urban areas. Much like young Sudan-born refugees, the new arrivals are generally unwilling to remain in an enclosed camp setting without access to higher education or employment.

…Eritrean brokers are key to arranging onward movement with Rashaida from within the camp. The facilitators in the route are usually of the same ethnicity as those embarking on the movement (Hamood 2006: 50). Furthermore, life in the refugee camp is characterized by ethnic divides. Different ethnicities are thought to have different aspirations. One testimony states that people from Akele-Guzai region are thought to have strong connections abroad and to be most likely going to Israel. Those from Maekel region are believed to be going to Europe, while those from Gash Barka are simply associated with smuggling people out of Eritrea and settling in Sudan (Mehari 2010).

Turning to the reference section to investigate the source of the aforementioned claims, the report cites an “unpublished paper” by someone named “Mehari, K” (Mehari, K. 2010. ‘Desert in Disorder’ unpublished paper). Investigating the rest  of the citations for follow-up is a futile task as most references are made to personal interviews with individuals like Meron Estifanos, who was integral in propagating the fabricated “coup” in January 2013 and using it as a springboard for the so-called “Forto 2013″ campaign. [28]

Returning to the latest publication of the US State Department TIP report, we hear echoes of the SEMG’s allegations of corruption by senior Eritrean army officers. As opposed to the 2009 report, the 2012 publication is focused less on migrants workers more on youth conscripted into national service. More notably, the report seems to focus on the Eritrean government’s alleged conscription of minors. It states that “adolescent children that attempt to leave Eritrea have been forced into military service despite being younger than the minimum service age of 18. As part of the requirements to complete their senior year of high school, adolescent children are also sent to Sawa, Eritrea’s military academy, prior to their eighteenth birthday.” Surprisingly, this claim was later cited by Child Soldiers International in a 2012 case study to support the claim that Eritrea uses child soldiers. This “study” was, in turn, posted on the UNHCR website and is currently being used by journalists and various NGO’s to propagate the notion that Eritrea’s use of “child soldiers” is driving youth out of the country.

Nowhere is the international media’s desperation to point out the Eritrean government’s blunders more evident than in its claim that Eritrea uses “child soldiers.” When the average person reads about child soldiers in Africa, she/he may conjure up the classical CNN-promoted image of regime-indoctrinated 9 year-olds mowing down civilians. Perhaps the image is sometimes a wee bit less graphic but the reality is that the claims of child soldiers in Africa perpetuates the stereotype of a barbaric Africa out of control and encourages intervention against nations like Eritrea. Thus, such claims must be taken seriously. In regards to their Eritrea study, Child Soldiers International states the following:

To prevent increasing evasion of national service by school leavers, the government announced in 2003 that the final year of secondary education, Year 12, must be performed at the Sawa Military Training Camp in western Eritrea near the border with Sudan. Because the Year 12 designation is based not on a child’s age but rather on the school grade achieved, some Year 12 students are under 18 years old. According to a recent US State Department report on human rights in Eritrea, “Students at Sawa were typically 18 years old or older, although a fair percentage were as young as 16 years old”.

The government denies underage conscription and argues that students attending the twelfth grade in Sawa should not be confused with national service conscripts. However, the Year 12 students at Sawa have military status and are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defence and subject to military discipline. They are therefore in reality soldiers, even if not fully operational members of the Eritrean National Army. [29]

The sad part about this is that the “Eritrea recruits child soldiers” claim is entirely based on this hair splitting of mandatory twelfth grade education. Such reporting is irresponsible for two reasons. Firstly, this report is based on non-independent politically biased sources like the US State Department. Secondly, even if 16-year-olds attended Sawa they are not considered members of the Eritrean National Army, as CSI even admits. Consideration should also be given to the fact that while most of the world submits to more lax standards on child soldier laws enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Africa has collectively gone above and beyond by signing the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which by default accedes to the “Optional Protocols” of the CRC and increases the minimum military recruitment age from 15 to 18. [30] Given these more stringent laws and the known fact that most reported child soldiers are between ages 15-18 years old, it’s no surprise that half of the world’s child soldiers are in Africa. [31] Regardless of the facts, the media is quick dish out the child soldier label in Africa. There’s a reason why the spineless international media points out “child soldiers” in Eritrea while it ignores “child soldiers” in the UK, which is also a signatory to the Option Protocols and refers to the exact same argument as Eritrea. [32] Let us also refresh the UN’s memory and recall that in 2002, the UNSC Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu, visited Eritrea to assess the use of child soldiers. He concluded that there was “no systematic use of child soldiers” and said that “the absence of the ‘child soldiering’ phenomenon was particularly impressive since no other conflict zone he had visited recently had been free of the problem.” [33]

As shown above, there seems to be a concerted effort to link Eritrea to human trafficking. The reality is that we have yet to see any hard evidence to support this allegation. To make matters worse the international press almost reflexively blames it on child soldiers, forced labor, and lack of [insert word like freedom, democracy, religion, or other’s words used to destroy Iraq, Libya, etc.]. As some of the wikileaked diplomatic cables suggest, the US State Department has made efforts to drive youth out of Eritrea to weaken the government. It then turns around and blames the Eritrean government for “human trafficking.” These actions are part of a broader concerted and systematic effort by the US Administration to destroy Eritrea through the control of human migration. To understand this we must go back in history.

Part 2:

Part 3:





3. “Exclusive: Eritrea reduces support for al Shabaab – U.N. report.” Maasho, Aaron. Reuters.  July 16, 2012. link

4. ibid.


6. “Eritrea Calls for Lifting of Sanctions.” Clottey, Peter. Voice of America News.. October 17, 2012.


8. McMullen, Ronald Keith. Economic consequences of African coups d’etat. Diss. University of Iowa, 1985.




12. Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-386). Sec. 108-109.

13. “U.S. Expands Human Trafficking Watchlist.” Associated Press. June 16, 2009. link




17. “Exclusive: Eritrea reduces support for al Shabaab – U.N. report” Maasho, Aaron. Reuters. Jul 16, 2012. link



20. “In UN Sanctions Follies, Jim’ale Shifted to Somalia List, Eritrea Report Down, Bryden Spins.” Russell, Matthew Lee. Inner City Press. July 24, 2012. link

21. “Eritrea football team “hiding” in Kenya – official.” Reuters. Jack Oyoo Dec 15, 2009. link


23. “Ethiopia accuses Eritrea of bomb plot.” Reuters. Steve Bloomfield. February 2, 2007.

24. “Trafficking in Persons Report 2012″ US Department of State. June 2012. link

25. “Foreign Affairs Committee. US Congress. 110th Session. Serial No. 110–131. Page 25. October 24, 2007. link

26. “US to suspend issuing visas in Eritrea” Sudan Tribune. Nov 27, 2006. link

27. Humphries, Rachel. “Refugees and the Rashaida: human smuggling and trafficking from Eritrea to Sudan and Egypt.” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Research Paper No. 247. November 2012. link


29. “Child Soldiers International, Louder than words – Case Study: Eritrea: Widespread conscription of children goes unchecked.” September 12, 2012. link

30. “Guide to the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed.” Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. The United Nations Children’s Fund. December 2003. link

31. “AFRICA: Too small to be fighting in anyone’s war”. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs News and Analysis. December 2003. link

32. “Explanatory Memorandum on the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – Command Paper number: 5759″.  International Committee of the Red Cross. Customary IHL Study Database: United Kingdom: Practice: By Country: United Kingdom: Rule 137. Article 1. Paragraph 9. Updated on December 12, 2012. Accessed on March 15, 2013.  link

33. “UN envoy reports no evidence of ‘child soldiering’ in Ethiopia and Eritrea” United Nations New Centre. March 26, 2002  2002. link

34. “No turning back: A review of UNHCR’s response to the protracted refugee situation in eastern Sudan.” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Policy Development and Evaluation Service. November 2011. link

35. “3. Norway’s policy towards UNHCR.” Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. link

36. “Africa Rising” TIME Magazine. March 30, 1998. link



39. “No turning back: A review of UNHCR’s response to the protracted refugee situation in eastern Sudan.” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Policy Development and Evaluation Service. November 2011. link

40. “Position on Return of Rejected Asylum Seekers to Eritrea.” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. January 2004.




44. “Views on Migration in Sub-Saharan Africa: Proceedings of an African Migration Alliance Workshop.” Catherine Cross, Derik Gelderblom, Niel Roux and Jonathan Mafukidze. Human Sciences Research Council. Apr 1, 2007. Page 104.





49. “Ethiopia’s Ethnic Cleansing.” Calhoun, Craig. Dissent. pg. 47-50. Winter 1999.



52. ibid.

53. Kibreab, Gaim; Ohta, Itaru; Gebre, Yntiso D. “Displacement Risks in Africa: Refugees, Resettlers and Their Host Population.” Trans Pacific Press. Pg. 143-145. Mar 1, 2005.

54. R. Ek. “UNHCR’s operation in eastern Sudan, 1967-2009: lessons learned.” UNHCR, March 2009.


56.  “Regulation of Sexual Conduct in Un Peacekeeping Operations” Simić, Olivera. Springer. Pg. 36. Aug 18, 2012.

57. “Eritrea: UNMEE Dismisses Criticism by Top Military Official.” United Nations Integrated Regional Information Network. May 4, 2004. link

















74. “Tanzania rejects asylum request by Eritrean footballers.” Panapress. Oct 13, 2011.


76. “Eritrea asks Israel to deport ‘deserters.’” Ravid, Barak. Ha’aretz. March 25, 2008.

77. “Israel detains Eritrean refugee for 18 months because he couldn’t prove his identity.” Weiler-Polak, Dana. Ha’aretz. May 24, 2011.

78. “Eritreans turned down for asylum after Ethiopia claims refugees as their own” Nesher, Talila. Ha’aretz. October 24, 2011.  link

79. “The dark side of Tel Aviv.” Ynetnews. Adino Ababa, Danny. June 7, 2012. link

80. “52% of Jewish Israelis say illegal African migrants a ‘cancer.” LA Times. June 8, 2012.



83. “Closing the holes and the loopholes.” Wuraft, Nurit. Ha‘aretz.  June 21, 2009. link

84. “Improving the Speed and Quality of Asylum Decisions.” Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General. HC 535, Session 2003-2004: June 23, 2004. link

85. “Former Miss Ethiopia unlawfully held by British immigration.” Daily Telegraph. June 16, 2009.


87. Re-blogged link:


89. Re-blogged link:


91. “Swedish Resident Charged with Terrorism in US Court.” Radio Sweden. March 10, 2010. Re-published link







98. “Tanzania rejects asylum request by Eritrean footballers.” Pana Press. Oct 13, 2011. link

99. “East African soccer team players defect, settle in Houston.” Susan Carroll. Houston Chronicle. May 23, 2012. link



102. “Tanzania rejects asylum request by Eritrean footballers.” Pana Press. Oct 13, 2011. link






108. “Eritrea and European Community: Country Strategy Paper And National Indicative Programme For the period 2009-2013.” Global Forum on Migration and Development. Pg. 59. 2009. link

109. “Eritrean president appears to quash death rumour.” Agence France Presse. April 28, 2012. link









118. ibid.


120. Letter dated February 2008. “Re: Presidency of the UN Human Rights Council” link

121. Letter dated March 31, 2010. “Re: May 2010 UN Human Rights Council elections” link














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Exset Reveals $20 Technology that Powers Digital Monetisation System for Africa

Posted on 11 March 2013 by The African Press Organization



Exset ( is a broadcast technology and solutions company founded in 2011. It is based in The Netherlands with offices in the UK, Estonia and India. Exset provides complete solutions to the television industry focusing on emerging markets where localisation, social and economic factors require a fresh approach to traditional technology supply. Exset works collaboratively to provide a unique service, understanding developing markets and working with TV operators in to monetise platform deployments.


AMSTERDAM, Netherland, March 11, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ Exset, pioneers of TV ecosystems for emerging markets, has today revealed how the technology behind its pioneering Digital Monetisation System (DMS) works, facilitating the transformation and monetisation of television platforms across Africa.

Gary Ellis, Chief Technology Officer with Exset, says, “To make this project work we needed to develop an ecosystem – now called the Digital Monetisation System (DMS) – that allows additional interactive services over and above TV via digital networks at an incredibly low price point for operators – our target for set-top boxes is $20 per unit, which we’ve met. This means that revenues can be generated not only via a very low subscription fee, but also via interactive transactions and information dissemination.”

By taking the popular application model whereby the core processing is carried out centrally with the content then distributed when the application is accessed via the TV screen, low power set-top boxes can be deployed to receive services. Exset has created a flexible and graphically pleasing template-based onscreen system that’s populated using an Exset-developed content publishing technology. This can be accessed via those who have paid to disseminate content, be that government departments like health and education, local service providers or teleshopping operations. This interactive content publisher is accessed via the internet and is similar in concept to a website content management system.

Ellis says, “The publisher is the key to the business model. The interactive content can be changed through the day to suit different demographics, from the young to the old and anywhere in between depending on the time of day. The content distribution carousel rotates every two minutes so that the content can be truly dynamic. Operators can then sell space and access to the publisher. Digitisation in developing countries is about getting a 200-300 Mbit/s pipe into people’s homes of digital data – effectively that’s what digital broadcast networks allow. Most of it will be used for TV channel delivery but there’s the opportunity now to get vital services – as well as lifestyle interactivity – into people’s homes.”

Rahul Nehra, Global Head of Sales and Marketing at Exset, says, “Across Africa the TV screen offers the most potent and low-cost way of reaching populations on the wrong side of the digital divide. Exset is proud of the technology that it has developed and the fact that by keeping the cost of receivers so low, access to the technology is open at all points along the chain – from pay-TV operators to those who wish to deploy interactive services to the end user.”




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SA: Education group, CTI, advances learning

Posted on 05 March 2013 by Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

CTI is the first to offer free tablet computers for study – the group says.

The groups also attests that this is the Digital learning revolution for CTI degree students.

CTI is one of South Africa’s leading private higher education institutions with students studying across 12 campuses, and awards degrees and diplomas to a growing market of full-time and part-time students in such subjects as business, information technology, law, psychology and counselling, graphic design and creative arts. The CTI group since 2006 has included partner Midrand Graduate Institute (MGI).

According to CTI, in a move that will revolutionize the way they study [students], CTI Education Group will become the first higher education institution in South Africa to offer its students tablet computers loaded with prescribed textbooks, at no extra cost.

Over two thousand students who will start their degree studies at CTI in January will receive the new ten-inch touch-screen Samsung Galaxy Note tablets, loaded with up to eight prescribed textbooks’ of course material, a note added.

The tablets will be supplied to first-year students commencing their Bachelor of Commerce and BSc in Computing Systems degrees at CTI’s twelve campuses across South Africa.

Darren Fox, chief executive of CTI Education Group, comments: “To succeed in their future careers, young South Africans will need to be IT-literate and fully fluent with the latest technology. We want to make our students’ learning experience as close as possible to the world of work they will be entering, and we’re very pleased to partner with Samsung, one of the world’s leading technology companies, to do that.”

A study conducted earlier this year by the Pearson Foundation of college students in the United States revealed that students believe tablets and other mobile devices will transform learning, with tablet ownership among college students having tripled in the last year.

The survey reveals that more students are reading digital books, and that a majority (63%) of college students believe that tablets will effectively replace textbooks within the next five years.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab is the third most popular tablet among the students surveyed in the Pearson Foundation study.

Nearly all the students surveyed believed these devices are valuable for educational purposes, and around half of them say that they would be more likely to read textbooks on a tablet because of access to embedded interactive materials, access to social networks to share notes or ask questions, and access to instructors’ comments in the reading material.

CTI Education Group’s Fox added: “Our partnership with Samsung makes us the first higher education institution in South Africa to offer our students tablet computers loaded with all of their prescribed textbooks at no extra cost beyond their normal course fees.

“By putting cutting-edge technology into their hands while they study with us, we believe we can give our students the best possible education for the modern world and the industries in which they will work. CTI focuses on equipping our students with the skills and drive that they’ll need to find fulfilling careers and add value to the South African economy. That is why our graduates tend to find employment more quickly than most.”

Sibongile Malebane is studying for her Bachelor of Commerce at CTI’s Pretoria campus and took part in a pilot programme by CTI on tablet usage this year. She said: “The Samsung tablet has changed my view on electronic media. I used it in lectures and it has made it easier for me to have all my study guides in it.”

Allaster Le Goabe, studying the same course, said: “The tablet is fun to use. The applications available with the study guides make studying and making notes a whole lot easier.”

CTI students will access their textbooks through advanced e-text software, allowing them to read their textbooks on-screen. Course lecturers will be able to make notes and update texts throughout the academic year. These will automatically update to students’ tablet devices.

Students will be offered training in how to use their tablets, and will have access to additional loan tablets and e-learning support when they are on campus. Students will also be able to use their tablets to access Wi-Fi at all of CTI’s campuses, at no additional expense.

CTI has also secured insurance and warranties for all the tablets and will pay for this on behalf of the students.

CTI is part of Pearson, the world’s largest education company, a pioneer in the use of digital and mobile technologies to enhance learning.

Mark Cunnington, Managing Director for Higher Education at Pearson South Africa, said: “We are constantly seeking ways to use technology to give people access to a better education all over the world. Millions of students from the United States, Europe, Asia and now across Africa use Pearson’s digital learning tools to enhance their learning every day.
Thanks to this partnership, CTI students will now be part of the digital learning revolution which has the power to transform learning outcomes in South Africa.”

In 2010, CTI became a part of Pearson, the world’s leading learning company. Pearson has over 100 years’ heritage in educational publishing and assessment, and works in more than seventy countries offering products and services that help people make progress in their lives through learning.
In South Africa, Pearson also publishes for schools and colleges under the Heinemann and Maskew Miller Longman imprints.

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Illegal Trade Robs Wild of Almost 3,000 Great Apes Annually, Threatening Populations / Released at CITES Meeting, New UNEP Report Links Ape Traffic to Organized Crime

Posted on 04 March 2013 by Africa Business


The Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) is an innovative and ambitious partnership comprised of great ape range states with an immediate challenge: to lift the threat of imminent extinction faced by gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans across their ranges in equatorial Africa and Southeast Asia. Visit the GRASP website here:


BANGKOK, Thailand, March 4, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The illegal trade that sees almost 3,000 live great apes lost from the forests of Africa and Southeast Asia each year is increasingly impacting wild populations as links to organized crime grow stronger.


Stolen Apes: The Illicit Trade in Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Bonobos and Orangutans is the first report to analyze the scale and scope of the illegal trade and highlights the growing links to sophisticated trans-boundary crime networks, which law enforcement networks are struggling to contain.


Stolen Apes, which was produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) through the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), estimates that a minimum of 22,218 great apes have been lost from the wild since 2005 – either sold, killed during the hunt, or dying in captivity – with chimpanzees comprising 64 per cent of that number.


The report examines confiscation records, international trade databases, law enforcement reports, and arrival rates from sanctuaries and rehabilitation centers between 2005 and 2011.


Stolen Apes says that each great ape confiscated or confirmed in the illegal trade represents many more that died either during the capture or the trafficking process.

Over the past seven years, a minimum of 643 chimpanzees, 48 bonobos, 98 gorillas and 1,019 orangutans are documented to have been captured from the wild for illegal trade. These figures are just the tip of the iceberg, and extrapolating from this research the report estimates that at least 2,972 great apes are lost from the wild each year.


“The taking of great apes from the wild is not new – it has gone on for well over a century,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director. “But the current scale outlined in this report underlines how important it is that the international community and the organizations responsible for conserving endangered species remain vigilant, keeping a step ahead of those seeking to profit from such illegal activities.”

All great apes are endangered and protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as Appendix I animals.

Yet Stolen Apes reveals that the illegal trade has shifted from being a by-product of traditional conservation threats such as deforestation, mining and bush-meat hunting to a more sophisticated business driven by demand from international markets.

These markets include the tourist entertainment industry, disreputable zoos, and wealthy individuals who want exotic pets as status symbols. Great apes are used to attract tourists to entertainment facilities such as amusement parks and circuses. They are even used in tourist photo sessions on Mediterranean beaches and boxing matches in Asian safari parks.

Since 2007, standing orders from zoos and private owners in Asia have spurred the export of over 130 chimpanzees and 10 gorillas under falsified permits from Guinea alone, an enterprise that requires a coordinated trading network through Central and West Africa. A safari park in Thailand admitted in 2006 that it acquired at least 54 orangutans from the forests of Borneo and Sumatra.

“It is important to establish baseline figures for the illegal trade in great apes, even if these numbers only hint at the devastation,” said Doug Cress, coordinator of GRASP. “Great apes are extremely important for the health of forests in Africa and Asia, and even the loss of 10 or 20 at a time can have a deep impact on biodiversity.”

The illicit trade is increasingly linked to organized crime, and sophisticated trans-boundary networks now move great apes along with other contraband such as ivory, arms, drugs, rhino horn and laundered money. A smuggler recently apprehended in Cameroon was transporting a live chimpanzee wedged between sacks of marijuana.

Profit margins are high for the criminal networks. The report found that a poacher may sell a live chimpanzee for US$50, whereas the middleman will resell that same chimpanzee at a mark-up of as much as 400 per cent.

Orangutans can fetch US$1,000 at re-sale, and gorillas illegally sold to a zoo in Malaysia in 2002 reportedly went for US$400,000 each.

“The illegal trade in apes has little to do with poverty,” said Ofir Drori, founder of the Last Great Ape Organization in Cameroon. “It is instead generated by the rich and powerful.”

Law enforcement efforts lag far behind the rates of illegal trade. Only 27 arrests were made in Africa and Asia in connection with great ape trade between 2005 and 2011, and one-fourth of the arrests were never prosecuted.


The report also found that the loss of natural great ape ranges in Africa and Asia helps drive the illegal trade, as it promotes contact and conflict between apes and humans. Great ape habitat is being lost at the rate of 2-5 per cent annually. By 2030 less than 10 per cent of the current range will remain on current trends.

In Southeast Asia, the conversion of rainforest for agro-industry is directly linked to the illegal trade, as orangutans are flushed from the forest and end up being captured, killed, or trafficked. Extractive industries such as logging, mining, and petroleum exploration create transportation and trade routes that facilitate the illicit traffic of great apes.

Key Recommendations from the Report

As well as highlighting the scale of the problem and the worrying trend of increasing organization of the trade, the report issues a series of recommendations aimed at reducing the startling rate of decline of ape populations, including:

• Establish an electronic database that includes the numbers, trends and tendencies of the illegal great ape trade, and monitor arrests, prosecutions and convictions as a means of assessing national commitment.


• Target organized crime by investigating traffickers and buyers, establishing trans-national criminal intelligence units targeting environmental crime to ensure that intelligence is compiled, analyzed and shared with national police forces, customs and INTERPOL, and prosecuting the accused to the fullest extent of the law.


• Utilize national and international multimedia campaigns to eliminate the trade/ownership/use of great apes and emphasize laws and deterrent punishment.


• DNA-test all confiscated great apes and return to country of origin – if discernible – within eight weeks of confiscation.


• Review national laws and penalties relating to the killing and trafficking of great apes and support efforts to forcefully implement and strengthen those laws.


• Increase enforcement of protected areas, to both reduce illegal trade in great apes and to protect their habitat.


Download the full report here:


United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

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Most Beautiful Object in South Africa (MBOISA) 2013 finalists

Posted on 26 February 2013 by Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

Edited by Thandisizwe Mgudlwa and Contributed by Design Indaba
Here they are! The Most Beautiful Object in South Africa finalists for 2013. Who will get your vote?
It’s our great pleasure to present the much-anticipated Most Beautiful Object in South Africa (MBOISA) 2013 finalists.

Featuring a diverse selection of objects, the MBOISA finalists were nominated by a mix of design journalists and cultural commentators in South Africa.

Every year Design Indaba invites the public to engage with the question of what constitutes beauty through the MBOISA award. More than just an object of visual delight, MBOISA encourage a wider definition of beauty – one that encapsulates attributes such as social significance, economic impact, usability, sustainability and even humour.

We know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that’s why the winner is determined by public vote. Vote for your most beautiful object in South Africa, via SMS. The winner will be announced on the afternoon of Sunday 3 March at Design Indaba Expo.

The designs of all the MBOISA finalists will be on show at Design Indaba Expo, open to the public from Friday 1 March to Sunday 3 March at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

1. Zanzan Umbrella
By Gareth Cowden, Babatunde
Made using African wax prints, Babatunde’s range of accessories – including caps, trilbies, pith helmets, bow ties and clutch bags – fuse the iconic patterned fabric of West and Central Africa with Western shapes. The brand stands for strong African values and maintains a focus on quality details. The Zanzan umbrella is handmade with polycotton and a wooden frame. The shade is UV-resistant and waterproofed with a fabric sealer. 

Nominated by Jackie Burger, editor, ELLE

A very simple object inherent to our cultural landscape, done in an array of innovative prints! Finally, the humble umbrella steps up as a modern, colloquial and pop-culture accessory serving the dual purpose of functional fashion.”
Vote for the Zanzan Umbrella 

SMS* “MBOISA Babatunde” to 43431

2. Necklace
By Katherine-Mary Pichulik
Katherine-Mary Pichulik makes one-of-a-kind neckpieces and jewellery from the humblest of materials: rope. A graduate of the Michaelis School of Fine Art at UCT, she began making jewellery out of materials she found on her travels through India – rope, a bead, bones… She has developed a distinctive language using intense colours, bold shapes and quirky details to create a range of fresh, contemporary tribal-inspired jewellery.
Nominated by Sarah Buitendach, editor, Sunday Times Home Weekly
“Katherine-Mary Pichulik’s pieces are bold and eye-catching, fun and sexy. I especially like the fact that her jewellery is made from humble, everyday materials such as coloured rope and string, which she transforms into embellishments that are very sophisticated.”
Vote for the Necklace 

SMS* “MBOISA Pichulik” to 43431

3. The Soweto Theatre
By Lawrence Chibwe, Afritects Architects
This new landmark building transforms the world’s most well-known township into an area known not just as a place where people come from, but where people also go to. It is set in the heart of a culturally rich area within the neighbourhood of Jabulani, a planned entertainment precinct that is the first initiative of Soweto’s grander development plan. The building’s innovative design brings a heightened sense of hope to the area.
The red, yellow and blue colours of the theatre’s three “boxes” represent the vibrancy, personality and excitement associated with performance in Soweto. The 200 000 ceramic tiles adorning the boxes’ exterior walls were laid individually by local tradesmen. Their walls curve both horizontally and vertically, creating a parabolic shape that is the building’s signature feature and was one of the most challenging to engineer. Afritects designed the theatre by exposing the three performance boxes outward to the public, thereby inviting the community in while at the same time clearly defining each separate venue.
Nominated by Laureen Rossouw, editor, ELLE Decoration

“I love the confident, bold, colourful architecture of this iconic theatre in SA’s most famous township and the immediate impact it has on its surroundings. It has three indoor venues and an undercover outside venue for productions. It is also built close to the railway station, taxi rank and Rea bus stop in Jabulani, which gives commuters a chance to interact with and enjoy this inspiring and aspirational landmark. A great example of urban regeneration and a symbol of progress for all South Africans.”
Vote for the Soweto Theatre 

SMS* “MBOISA Afritects” to 43431

4. Mechanical Bureau
By Joe Paine
This desk utilises an old-world mechanical solution to the modern-day problem of space-saving laptop storage. It was inspired by the late 19th and early 20th-century farm machinery often found rusting in the veld on a typical Highveld farm. It opens and closes using a system of gears, cranks, and rack and pinions. As one turns the handle the top lifts up and a rack and pinion pushes the timber worktop out towards you, providing extra workspace. When the user is finished working, the lid closes, hiding the laptop. The desk is part of the 2012 Southern Guild collection.
Nominated by Sumien Brink, content director, VISI

“In total sync with the new steam punk movement, Joe Paine has designed a mechanical space-saving desk that the trendiest urbanite will covet. Joe was inspired by discarded 19th century farm machinery. The desk is made from Cape teak, medium density fibreboard (MDF) and mild steel, and uses a system of gears and cranks to open and close. Small workspaces will never look the same again.”
Vote for the Mechanical Bureau 

SMS* “MBOISA Paine” to 43431

5. Pebble Dress
By Gavin Rajah
This dress from Gavin Rajah’s Spring/Summer 2013 couture collection was created out of leather pieces that were moulded into pebble shapes and then embroidered onto mesh by hand. The leather pebbles are placed to create a gradation of colour with rose gold blending into chocolate. Rajah’s studio pioneered the technique to foil ostrich skins with the Klein Karoo Co-op last year. After the technique attracted interest from Chanel and other international fashion brands, the studio decided to create their own textiles in foiled leathers. The result is a more tactile leather with depth and dimension. The garment is handmade and has been created without seams in pure couture tradition.
Nominated by Malibongwe Tyilo, Blogger, Skattie What Are You Wearing?

“The Pebble Dress combines to great effect some of the most relevant design influences at the moment: leather, ombre, texture and craft. Their unity creates a completely resolved design piece. At first glance, your eye is attracted by the complete garment and it’s almost scale-like appearance. A closer look reveals the incredible amount of work and precision that has gone into creating not only the garment but also an entirely new fabric.”
Vote for the Pebble Dress 

SMS* “MBOISA Rajah” to 43431

6. Slice Cutting Board
By Jonathan Fundudis, Snapp Design
The Slice cutting board is Jonathan Fundudis’s exploration of the utilitarian, shorn of splendour and adornment. The design is characteristically defined by its purpose yet visually invites attention in any kitchen environment. The removal of two mirrored wedge shapes from both sides makes the board effortlessly easy to pick up and controls the funneling of food from its surface in one movement. This feature not only makes the product highly functional but gives it a sense of pared-down ornament as well. The board has been nominated by the German Design Council for a German Design Award 2013.
Nominated by Brandt Botes, founder, Studio Botes

“Something as simple and seemingly mundane as a kitchen cutting board is given added functionality through the process of design. A solution so clear it begs the question ‘Why has no one done that before?’ Designer Jonathan Fundudis mentions that his approach is to design objects that leave you with a ‘smile in the mind’. Simple and smart, this is exactly what the Slice cutting board says to me.”
Vote for the Slice Cutting Board 

SMS* “MBOISA Snapp” to 43431

7. Gustav Greffrath’s interpretation of the 1975 Pipeline Gun
Shaped by Spider Murphy for Dutchmann’s Delft Portfolio
Gavin Rooke’s Dutchmann label initiates creative projects that connect experienced master craftsmen with contemporary designers and artists. For the Delft Portfolio, Dutchmann asked 10 artists and designers to create artwork for ten surfboards shaped by Spider Murphy. The surfboards are identical to the original 1975 Pipeline Gun on which Shaun Tomson won the Hawaii Pipeline Masters. The artists were asked to work within the theme of Delftware, limiting their palettes to the cobalt hues that gave this 16th-century Dutch style of pottery its distinctive appearance. 

For his board, designer Gustav Greffrath decided to bring the attention back to the object and the craft that went into shaping it. The traditional processes of sealing and laminating boards creates a high-gloss layer that is at first beautiful and beguiling. Yet it only covers up the true beauty of the matt, white object underneath. So Greffrath omitted any graphic elements to shift the focus to the shape of the board. He also left part of the board exposed, specifically the section featuring Murphy’s signature. The varied responses by the artists in this portfolio demonstrate the power of making, the diverse ways collaboration can offer up new ideas and, finally, the way the contemplation of a beautiful object can create a personal experience far beyond its intended purpose.

Nominated by Garth Walker, founder, Mister Walker

“Spider’s uber-sleek hand-shaped ‘gun’ – surely an apt description – is itself a thing of beauty and an object of lust. Handmade and shaped by the eye, it’s an amazing creation – simple to look at, hold or caress. Suggesting speed, agility and efficiency, the board’s deceptively light weight defies its size. The interesting intervention is that the artist perfectly retained the essential ‘gunness’ of the original shape, yet the top half dipped in glossy Delft blue adds to the allure – and hints at the water for which it is intended…”
Vote for Gustav Greffrath’s Surfboard 

SMS* “MBOISA Dutchmann” to 43431

8. Wood and Carbon Bike
By David Stubbs
David Stubbs came up with an innovative way of combining wood and carbon to create a lightweight but strong 10-speed racing bike. The frame’s exterior consists of laminated ash, bamboo and purple heart woods, strengthened by carbon fibre placed at strategic internal points. The result is an aesthetically beautiful, structurally sound bicycle unlike anything else that has been designed in South Africa. The wood is watertight to withstand the elements and creates the feeling of a smooth ride. This is a one-of-a-kind bike used by Stubbs himself, a leading shaper and manufacturer of world-class surfboards, longboards and kiteboards with a passion for making things with his hands.
Nominated by the Design Indaba Expo team

“This is what making is all about: one man in his studio, setting himself a challenge and lovingly creating something for himself rather than simply going out and buying it. Stubbs has invented his own solution for a durable but light bike by creating a protective skin of wood impregnated with carbon. As cycling begins to permeate South African culture, it is inspiring to see one artisan elevating bicycle design to a work of handmade art.”
Vote for David Stubbs’s bicycle 

SMS* “MBOISA Stubbs” to 43431

9. City Press Newspaper, 27 May 2012
In May 2012 a ruckus erupted over a provocative painting called “The Spear” by artist Brett Murray. The painting featured President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed, painted in the style of a Lenin propaganda poster. After City Press covered the exhibition and published a photograph of the painting, a nation-wide furore ensued. The artwork was defaced twice, live on camera and mass protests resulted through the streets to protect the president’s dignity with the ruling party calling for a boycott on City Press for publishing the controversial piece. The May 27th issue of City Press went out anyway and, far from being boycotted, sold out everywhere.
Nominated by Lauren Beukes, novelist, Zoo City and Moxyland
“I chose this as my Most Beautiful Object of 2012 because it’s a symbol of our fraught, messy, wonderful country and the problems we still face in talking about race and gender, but also because it’s about the beauty of our most important democratic rights, the freedom of the press and freedom of expression to talk about it.”
Vote for City Press Newspaper 

SMS* “MBOISA City Press” to 43431

10. Visibility Vest
By Ronel Jordaan
Following the death of an employee in a road accident involving a taxi, Ronel Jordaan conceptualised the idea of a bag made of polyester that is strong, and which could also be worn as an item of bright, reflective clothing when commuting during the day or at night. The multi-functional design is a departure for Jordaan, who is well-known for her sculptural pieces made from felt. She designed the form of the two patterns to accommodate people’s various shapes and sizes. The zip is curved to disperse weight and accommodate various hip sizes. A drawstring gives the bag a fashionable square shape. The vests range from simple to fashionable, offering something for everyone. As the bag folds into the size of a tennis ball, it easily fits into any handbag or jacket pocket.
Nominated by Gregor Naude, editor, Enjin

“Ronel Jordaan’s visibility shopping bag/vest is function made form. I think it nicely encapsulates the idea that, in addition to creating beautiful objects, good design offers solutions to everyday challenges.”
Vote for the Visibility Vest 

SMS* “MBOISA Jordaan” to 43431

11. Aretha Dress
By Sindiso Khumalo
This dress was showcased at the 2012 Elle Magazine Rising Star Awards, for which Sindiso Khumalo was selected as a finalist.  Named after legendary performer Aretha Franklin, the dress is made from digitally printed 100% silk chiffon. The print is designed with an understanding of where each element of the print will fall on the body. It was designed for Khumalo’s first collection, for Spring/Summer 2013. Khumalo studied architecture at UCT before moving to London to work for award-winning architect David Adjaye. Following that she went on to study an MA in Textiles at Central St Martins College of Art and Design, graduating with a distinction for her final project. Describing her aesthetic as “Afro Bauhaus gone Pop”, she brings a heightened sense of colour and a collision of geometric prints into a luxury womenswear brand.
Nominated by Robynne Kahn, fashion director, special projects,Cosmopolitan and founder,

“I love her use of colour and graphic prints. The way she has used patterns and shapes in a modern, updated and fashion-forward way is exciting. She has taken what feels like a traditional, tribal influence and interpreted it live now. Her fashion and design aesthetic feels relevant and authentic.”
Vote for the Aretha Dress 

SMS* “MBOISA Khumalo” to 43431

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Afrobarometer: Poor South Africans More Active, but Less Well Served by Government

Posted on 26 February 2013 by Africa Business

The Afrobarometer is a comparative series of public attitude surveys, covering up to 35 African countries in Round 5 (2011-2013). It measures public attitudes on democracy and its alternatives, and evaluations of the quality of governance and economic performance. In addition, the survey assesses the views of the electorate on critical political issues in the surveyed countries. The Afrobarometer also provides comparisons over time, as four rounds of surveys have been held from 1999 to 2008 and Round 5 is currently underway.

Afrobarometer’s work in South Africa is coordinated by Citizen Surveys. Fieldwork for Round 5 was conducted in South Africa from 20 October – 30 November 2011.The survey interviewed a total of 2399 adult South Africans, and a sample of this size yields results with a margin of error of +/-2% at a 95% confidence level.



Most South Africans looked forward to the State of the Nation Address (SONA), with anticipation that President Jacob Zuma would provide more concrete and time-framed solutions to the aching problems of poverty, inequality and unemployment.  These issues were  identified during the 2012 SONA as the top most problems facing the nation, and South Africans are particularly keen to hear the government`s plans to alleviate poverty. During the SONA, the President noted the steady progress made in addressing social challenges in areas such as health, education, energy, water provision, rural development, and in harnessing social ills such as crime and human settlements.  However, he bemoaned the lack of progress in arresting the triple challenges of unemployment, inequality and poverty. Alas, the SONA fell short of providing answers to poverty challenges.




The Afrobarometer survey measured people`s experience with poverty across a wide range of indicators that include access to basic needs like, food, clean water, medicines, fuel, cash income and electricity in the home.


The survey reveals some improvement in access to food, cooking fuel and medicines since 2008, but slight there were slight declines in access to clean water, electricity, and a cash income (Figure 1).  For example, 37% of South Africans sometimes went without food in 2011, compared to 42% in 2008. Declines were also recorded in going without medicine (39% in 2011, 44% in 2008) and cooking fuel (38% in 2011, 43% in 2008).  Poverty still ranks as one of the top five problems facing South Africans: a total of 21% identified poverty as the most serious problem affecting the country.


Figure 1: Lack of Access to Basic Goods and Services, 2008-2011

Question: Over the past year, how often, if ever, have you or anyone in your family gone without:· enough food to eat; enough clean water for home use; medicines and medical care; enough fuel to cook your food; a cash income; electricity in your home?  Note: Figures represent the aggregate percentage of respondents who ever went without a basic good or service, i.e., responded ‘once or twice’, ‘several times’, ‘many times’, or ‘always’.


The survey also clearly reveals an accessibility gap between rich and poor South Africans. Overall, 71% report having a water supply located either within their houses or within the compounds, and 29% outside their compounds; 44% report having a toilet located inside their houses, while 9% have no latrines at all.


Moreover, a majority of poor citizens (53%) report that they encounter significant difficulties in accessing household services from government, as compared to just 31% who say the same among their wealthier counterparts (Figure 2).  Similarly, 45% of the poorest report significant difficulty in accessing medical care from public clinics, compared to just 24% among wealthier respondents.

Figure 2: Access to Household Services from Government, by Poverty Level, 2011

Question: Based on your experience, how easy or difficult is it to obtain the following services from government (or do you never try and get these services from the government): Household services like piped water, electricity, or telephone?


Finally, the survey also finds that the poor citizens are more politically active than their wealthier counterparts. Between November 2010 and November 2011, close to a third (31%) of the poorest respondents had contacted their local government councillor, compared to 22% among the wealthiest.  And 69% of the poorest had attended a community meeting at least once in the past year, whereas only 49% of the wealthiest had done the same.  The poor are almost twice as likely as the wealthy to protest: 17% had done so in the past year, compared to 9% of the wealthy.


The message is clear: poor South Africans are still clearly deprived of basic services, and although they are politically more active, they nonetheless face greater challenges than wealthier South Africans even in securing basic services from their government.


Attention therefore now shifts to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who will deliver his Annual Budget on Wednesday, 27 February 2013. The nation looks forward to seeing the government’s commitment to channeling resources into this critical area.

The Experience of Poverty in South Africa: A Summary of Afrobarometer Indicators, 2000-2011 (Acrobat Reader .pdf)

Afrobarometer: Poor South Africans More Active, but Less Well Served by Government (Acrobat Reader .pdf)

For more details, see “The Experience of Poverty in South Africa: A Summary of Afrobarometer Indicators, 2000-2011”, available at or contact Anyway Chingwete at

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AfDB and CIF aim to develop the continent

Posted on 23 February 2013 by Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

The African Development Bank (AfDB) report shows projects underway in Africa to reduce nearly 7 million tonnes CO2.

A document produced in Tunis, Tunisia reveals that the African Development Bank’s Financing Change: The AfDB and CIF for a Climate-Smart Africa is the Bank’s second semi-annual report on its
work to implement the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) in Africa, covering July-December 2012.

Also revealed in that the projects will create more than a million new electricity connections in Africa with AfDB and CIF support.

In addition, the report showcases expected results from projects underway in Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger and South Africa backed by US $420 million CIF funding and US $1.1 billion of the Bank’s own funding.

“Through the eight projects under implementation, it is expected that 6.9 million tonnes of CO2 emissions will be avoided every year, 1.3 million households and businesses will get new access to power, nearly 42,000 hectares of land will be newly dedicated to climate-resilient activities, and 150,000 farmers will gain access to climate information, including 50,000 women farmers and 3,000 villages,” the company stated on their website.

“A publication of the African Development Bank’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department (ONEC), the report features a review of the Bank’s support to 17 African countries through its CIF portfolio, which is channeling US $1 billion – more than a third of all CIF investment in Africa – to Africa, with the Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department leading the institutional charge.”

Furthermore,” the report also highlights the work underway with the AfDB and other CIF partners and stakeholders to continue improving the CIF’s effectiveness – exploring new tools and mechanisms, enhancing and simplifying the approach to measuring results, and brokering climate knowledge from the national to the global stage.”

The Climate Investment Funds (CIF) was established in 2008 as one of the largest fast-tracked climate financing instruments in the world, the US $7.6 billion CIF provides developing countries with grants, concessional loans, risk mitigation instruments, and equity that leverage significant financing from the private sector, multilateral development banks, (MDBs) and other sources.

Five MDBs – the African Development Bank (AfDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and World Bank Group (WBG) – implement CIF-funded projects and programs.

More information on the African Development Bank and the Climate Investment Funds can be found here:

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