Africa

Learn Swahili on Duolingo

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Duolingo is arguably the best free online language learning platform available. Duolingo can be used through its website or mobile app.

The selection of languages on Duolingo has been fairly limited, but it is quality over quantity. When writing my previous blog post about on-line language learning, I certainly did not imagine a Duolingo Swahili course to be reality only a year later!

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Google Earth – see the world now and then without leaving desktop

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Google Earth is a great tool to browse the world. The service has been around over ten years now, and it has constantly improved by addition of better quality images, and new features, among them the Street View and historical imagery.

The availability of historical views varies from place to place, the earliest satellite pictures usually dating from 70’s or 80’s. Detailed pictures, however, are only available since early 2000’s.

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Detailed imagery of Cape Town 16 years ago

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African medal performance at the 2016 Olympics

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The 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, finished a week ago. Traditionally, African nations gather most of their medals in athletics, particularly middle- and long distance running, led by Kenyans and Ethiopians. Only a small fraction of medals come from other sports. South Africa, for example, produces good swimmers and rowers, while Egypt has been good in weightlifting. Olympic football gold has been won by an African country twice.

African countries got a total of 45 medals at the 2016 Olympics, 10 of them golden. If Africa was a country, it would have been placed 7th on the medal table, just above France.

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Airline alliances in Africa

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There are three notable international airline alliances, namely Star Alliance, Oneworld and SkyTeam. Most large airlines are part of one of these alliances. Notable exceptions are Emirates, who have been hugely successful on their own, and most low-cost airlines, whose business model is much different to traditional airlines that form these alliances.

Many people favour flying primarily with one alliance, to reach upper status levels and get the best benefits. The negative side is that they often miss cheapest flights (most of them are business traveller who don’t have to pay themselves). The other problem is that the desired route or destination is often not served by an airline of the “right” alliance. This is especially true for those who travel in Africa, where the choice is often nonexistent.

Out of the three alliances, it is much obvious that Star Alliance is the only real option for travellers in this region, offering the best connections both within Africa and to other continents.

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Democracy 3: Africa – be better leader than real ones

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There are not many video games set in Africa, but last month saw the release of ‘Democracy 3: Africa’, a strategy game where the player will be the leader of an African country.

‘Democracy’ is a series of turn-based strategy games where the goal is to stay in power and run the nation successfully. Democracy 3: Africa’ is the newest edition in Democracy series developed by Positech Games. The game has 10 African countries to choose from. Given all political, economical and social aspects, African countries provide very intriguing scenarios for a game like this. Certainly, this game is very unique compared to previous ‘Democracy’ games, where the player leads mostly stable western countries.

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Jovago.com – the site budget travellers in Africa use to book their hotels

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Jovago.com is a relatively new hotel booking machine, launched in Nigeria in 2013. Despite its short history, it is already considered a leading online booking service in much of Africa. While Africa-centered, Jovago has listings worldwide (probably through other booking machines). Their primary markets are in Sub-Saharan Africa, but also in some Asian countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan. Jovago.com has already gained popularity among locals, but few western tourists have heard of it yet. Anyone travelling in Africa, especially those on budget, should make use of the service.

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Google translate and other online language resources

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Google Translate, while not nearly as accurate as a professional translator would be, comes handy as it can translate chunks of text in no time and for free. Errors aside, the reader will likely understand most of the translated text right way.

Google Translate expanded last month, when three new African languages were added among others, so the service can now translate ten native African languages. These are : Amharic, Chichewa (Nyanja), Igbo, Shona, Somali, Sotho (Sesotho), Swahili, Zulu, Yoruba and Xhosa. According to Wikipedia,  Kinyarwanda and Wolof are under development. In addition, Google Translate includes most foreign-derived languages spoken in various parts of the continent, including Afrikaans, Arabic, French and Portuguese.

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