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Business action against malaria

Exxon Mobil reports that its workplace malaria programme in Chad and Cameroon, which included employees, contractors, and the community, saved it US$ 8.9 million (for a US$ 3 million investment) in productivity gains. This figure does not include healthcare cost savings.

Enterprising ethnic minorities

My Africa-based colleague Nigel Twose shared an illuminating story with me. His words follow:

Last Wednesday, I was sitting in the lobby of my hotel in Monrovia, waiting for my flight to Dakar and back to Jo'burg. Across from me were three men of Lebanese origin: the manager of the hotel, a 20-something, and an older man who had just left Lebanon to escape the war. The three of them were huddled over a laptop. One suddenly asked me: "Do you think Kentucky Fried Chicken would work in Monrovia?"

$100 laptops: Nigeria's in, India's out

The Nigerian government says "yes" to $100 laptops. (Although probably more accurate to say that "the check is in the mail".)

Nigeria has officially ordered and paid for one million of the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) devices, according to the Nigerian Vanguard newspaper.

Public-private dialogue on African diamonds

Astronomers, perhaps inspired by the Beatles, have actually found a diamond in the sky - with plenty of bling at 10 billion trillion trillion carats. Here on Earth, you probably know that most diamonds are produced in Africa, and that the sector does not have a great track record in corporate social responsibility.

Trans-African cable project picks up speed

The East African Submarine cable System (EASSy) has spawned a flurry of debate on the future of broadband in Africa. (And yes, most writers succumb to temptation and include the acronym in one bad pun or another.) EASSy, a huge fibre-optic undersea cable still in the planning stages, promises more immediate access to information and communication technologies in Africa.

Improving administration of nature parks

Public-private partnerships are being used in nature conservation with good results. Much of the world’s biodiversity is found in developing countries, yet their national park agencies often lack the resources to protect biodiversity and promote tourism. Only 12% of global spending on protected areas occurs in the developing world. The IFC’s Nico Saporiti recently published a policy note on how public-private partnerships can aid conservation.

Cookie-cutter approach to social enterprise

Two years ago, [Alicia] Polak founded The Khayelitsha Cookie Co., which now employs 11 women from the sprawling shantytown to bake high-end cookies and brownies that are distributed to top hotels, restaurants and coffeehouses throughout South Africa. The cookies come packed in plastic with a cartoon on the front showing a big, African 'mama' in traditional dress and the company slogan: "Creating opportunity one bite at a time."

Should firms publish what they pay?

Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Anglo American chairman and Shell ex-chairman, thinks multinational oil and mining firms are part of the long-term solution to African development. Anglo American has a robust AIDS prevention program and supports the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).