Africa

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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Nigerian musicians getting famous abroad

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Traditionally so called “world music” has had its followers in western countries, providing many African artists opportunities to tour other continents, yet remaining niche artists outside their home markets. Over years, numerous African artist that have made name all over world, Ali Farka Toure, Fela Kuti, Miriam Makeba, and Youssou N’Dour, to name few. Not mainstream, but still well recognised artists. These represent older generations of musicians, many of whom have passed away. They are being replaced by new generation of musicians, performing modern music styles. Most popular of them tend to come from Nigeria.

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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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Uber keeps expanding, despite legal challenges

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Uber ride service has been much in the news in recent years. As the platform has expanded around the globe, so has the opposition against it grown, particularly by taxi drivers. They have a genuine reason to be concerned on what their business will be in the coming years. Taxi industry is highly regulated in many countries, but Uber drivers operate more or less on “wild” basis (it is worth reminding that unofficial taxis have always been common in many countries, long before the emergence of Uber). Uber itself does not operate vehicles, instead it provides a software platform to connect drivers with customers, and facilitating the payment. That makes determining its legal status a complicated matter. So far Uber has been at least partially banned in number of places, like Berlin and the whole of Spain. While legality of Uber is questionable in most jurisdictions, the service enjoys considerable public support. A service like Uber is a way forward, like most forms of digitalization. Not embracing development is a step backwards, a poor policy. That’s why Uber should be here to stay, but the service has to conform to local conditions, and admit it is not above others.

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Overland truck tours in Africa – not the ordinary tour experience

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Those of us used to travelling in Africa are likely to have seen trucks full of (usually) western tourists. That’s a fairly popular way of getting around Africa. Typical to overland truck tours is:

  • Trucks specifically fitted to sustain rough roads and carry passenger, equipment and luggage
  • Tours may last weeks, sometimes even months
  • Tours cover more than one country
  • Tours end at a different place (and country) than the starting point
  • Many tours are planned to minimise costs (e.g. camping)

Most overland tours take place in Southern Africa. East Africa is another hotspot. A few operators offer tours also in Northern or Western Africa. The most popular route is arguably from Cape Town via Namibia and Botswana to Victoria falls, this itinerary takes usually around 20 days. 

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Dakar Rally, will it ever return back?

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Each January starts with the famous endurance racing event Dakar Rally. Far from its roots, the event has been held in South America for several years now. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the event is in South America to stay.

Competed since 1979, the event was traditionally flagged off in Paris, France, and finished in Dakar, the Senegalese capital. Most competitive stages would be deep into Saharan deserts, though. In the 90’s the competition started  experimenting different routes, but in most cases the podium stayed in Dakar. Formerly known as Paris-Dakar rally, the name was later shortened to its current form “Dakar Rally”.

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Planning to visit the center point of Africa? Not an easy task, wherever it is

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Where is the center of Africa? Before the question can be answered, a method how to define the center has to be selected, and secondly, define what actually are the borders of the continent. Both issues may be widely debatable. This blog post provides examples of possible center points of Africa, using few simple methods. In this case only continental Africa has been selected as the borders of the continent, so islands are not counted in.

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A map showing proposed central points Africa, as well as geographic extremes of the continent. Explanation to numbered center points:            1. Pole of inaccessibility;   2. intersection of lines connecting extremes of continental Africa;   3. center of a box enclosing continental Africa;   4. Central continental point along the equator

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