Africa's first mosquito net factory, uranium mining, and why Uganda's ruler is keeping it in the family.
CAfrica’s first large-scale factory for mosquito nets is about to begin production in the town of Arusha. The A-to-Z Textile Mills will produce 10m insecticidal nets a year and has been touted as an “African solution to an African problem”. Malaria kills more than a million people each year, 90 per cent of whom are in Africa. But the new factory will have a Japanese twist. Sumitomo Chemical has developed the insecticide on the new nets, which last for at least five years – most nets last for just three.
Central African Republic
Three countries in Africa – Niger, Namibia and South Africa – produce around 6,500 tonnes of uranium a year. But because of demands to cut carbon dioxide emissions and the rising price of oil, the World Nuclear Association expects that output to double (to around 20 per cent of the world’s output) in the next seven years. New mines in the Central African Republic, as well as Zambia and Malawi, will increase the continent’s capacity yet further.
Mining uranium, however, is never straightforward. It becomes even more complicated when the mine is in a country that has experienced 11 coup attempts in the past decade. The Central African Republic (CAR), a country of four million people, which is sandwiched between Congo, Chad and Sudan, is about to become the newest African producer. The Bakouma mine has been acquired by French firm, Areva, which hopes to begin exploration by the start of 2009.
Meanwhile, CAR’s president, François Bozizé, claims that Areva’s purchase of the contract is “irregular”. But Bozizé is not in control of the whole country. Disparate rebel groups operate in the north, where guerillas from neighbouring Darfur have also been known to hide out.
CAR’s instability – and the unaccountable and undemocratic nature of its government – has made Areva’s work in the country unpredictable. “Our business is very complicated anyway,” says Areva’s Ludovic Boursin. “It is even more complex in CAR.”
So, you’re a president with rather shaky democratic credentials. Eventually you know you’ll have to give up power. The question is: who should be your hand-picked successor? If your name is Yoweri Museveni and you’re the president of Uganda, the answer may well be: your son.
Museveni Jnr, who goes by the name of Muhoozi Kainerugaba, has long been groomed for the role. Educated in the UK and trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Kainerugaba has risen swiftly through the ranks of Uganda’s armed forces, becoming the commander of the Presidential Guard Brigade’s motorised battalion.
Perhaps concerned that young Kainerugaba didn’t have what it takes to be a leader of men, Museveni also packed him off to the Fort Leavenworth army facility in the US last year for a year-long “leadership course”.
Museveni is now midway through his third term as Uganda’s president. He changed the constitution in 2005 to end two-term limits – opponents wouldn’t put it past him to find a way to stand for a fourth in 2011.
He is not alone among African leaders touting their sons as potential successors. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is frequently spoken of as a future leader of Libya, while Gamal Mubarak is now a leading member of Egypt’s ruling party.
Olympics: gold standard
Although it secured only one medal in 2004, that gave the Emirates (pop. 2.5m) the region’s best medal-population ratio.
Africa’s biggest country did less well. It won two medals – that’s one medallion for every 68.6 million Nigerians. Roll on Beijing.