Technology • Internet & Web
Spotify expands international footprint across 80+ new markets
Spotify expands international footprint across 80+ new markets
Credit: Sara Kurfeß

Over the next few days, Spotify will launch its service in 85 new markets across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, as announced at its online event, "Stream On". The company will also add support to 36 new languages on the platform.

The streaming platform stated, "Our dedication to international artists and listeners is unwavering. Working closely with local creators and partners, we’ll deliver a Spotify experience that meets the unique needs of each market, with scaled language translations and specialized payment formats. These 80+ markets represent more than 1 billion people—potential Spotify listeners who have yet to tap into the power of our platform."

Regional News • Africa
Guinea: First Ebola outbreak since 2016 kills at least three

In Guinea at least three people died of the Ebola virus in the past weeks. These are the first reported cases of Ebola since the country was declared Ebola-free in 2016.

"The government reassures the people that all measures are being taken to stem this epidemic as soon as possible," Guinean minister of health Rémy Lamah.

Science • Archaeology & History
Ancient teeth from Peru hint now-extinct monkeys crossed Atlantic from Africa
Ancient teeth from Peru hint now-extinct monkeys crossed Atlantic from Africa
Credit: Courtesy of University of Southern California

"This is a completely unique discovery," said Erik Seiffert, the study's lead author and Professor of Clinical Integrative Anatomical Sciences at Keck School of Medicine of USC. "We're suggesting that this group might have made it over to South America right around what we call the Eocene-Oligocene Boundary, a time period between two geological epochs when the Antarctic ice sheet started to build up and the sea level fell," said Seiffert.

When Seiffert was asked to help describe these specimens in 2016, he noticed the similarity of the two broken upper molars to an extinct 32 million-year-old parapithecid monkey species from Egypt he had studied previously. Fossils discovered at the same site in Peru had earlier offered the first proof that South American monkeys evolved from African primates.

Climate & Environment
Ocean Panel countries commit to higher level of ocean protection
Manta Ray
Manta Ray Credit: Tchami (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

14 countries worldwide have committed themselves to the sustainable management of their national waters. The "Ocean Panel" is a body for sustainable marine management. A goal is it to place until 2030 a third of the seas under protection.

Involved are countries like Australia, Canada, Ghana, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Norway and Portugal. Together they have a marine area that is about the size of Africa.

Ebola outbreak in Congo ended according to WHO

According to the World Health Organization the Congo has successfully ended an Ebola outbreak while fighting Covid-19 at the same time.

WHO Africa chief Matshidiso Moeti has stated that "Overcoming one of the world's most dangerous pathogens in remote and hard to access communities demonstrates what is possible when science and solidarity come together," adding that "This constituted a major logistical challenge in terms of the implementation of response activities in a health system already weakened by previous epidemics and by a weak involvement of the community."

"Tackling Ebola in parallel with COVID-19 hasn't been easy, but much of the expertise we've built in one disease is transferable to another and underlines the importance of investing in emergency preparedness and building local capacity."

Climate & Environment
Fire has erupted on Mount Kilimanjaro
Fire has erupted on Mount Kilimanjaro
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

On Sunday a fire has erupted on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The fire could be observed near the middle of the mountain and "efforts to extinguish it are still ongoing" according to the Tanzania National Parks service.

According to the newspaper "The Citizen", people from neighboring communities helped to combat the fire, but because the fire broke out at a higher altitude, the extinguishing work was difficult.

Science • Animals
Botswana: Mystery death of elephants solved
Botswana: Mystery death of elephants solved
Credit: Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Earlier this year, hundreds of elephants in northwestern Botswana inexplicably died. The government now states that their death was due to a neurological disorder caused by water contaminated by toxic blue-green algae.

It's unclear why the contaminated water only affected elephants and not other animals.

A new study suggests that dengue may provide immunity against Covid-19
Miguel Nicolelis
Miguel Nicolelis Credit: Fronteiras do Pensamento (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The not yet published study led by Miguel Nicolelis, a professor at Duke University, suggests the possibility that vaccines approved or under development for dengue may result in some form of protection against the new coronavirus.

The study points out that places where a large part of the population contracted dengue last year and earlier this year took longer to have exponential community transmission of Covid-19 and recorded fewer numbers of cases and deaths caused by the new coronavirus, indicating a possible immunological interaction between the two viruses.

To validate the observation made in Brazil, Nicolelis expanded the analysis of the correlation between dengue and Covid-19 to 15 other countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, and the behaviour was repeated, according to him.

Business • Economy
Facebook to open new office in Lagos in 2021
Facebook to open new office in Lagos in 2021
Credit: Jordan

Facebook will open its second African office in Lagos, Nigeria in 2021 to support the Sub-Saharan region, the company said in a statement.

“The opening of our new office in Lagos, Nigeria presents new and exciting opportunities in digital innovations to be developed from the continent and taken to the rest of the world," the Head of New Product Experimentation Ime Archibong said. “All across Africa we’re seeing immense talent in the tech ecosystem, and I’m proud that with the upcoming opening of our new office, we’ll be building products for the future of Africa, and the rest of the world, with Africans at the helm. We look forward to contributing further to the African tech ecosystem.”

Africa declared free of wild polio by World Health Organization
Somali boy receives a polio vaccination
Somali boy receives a polio vaccination Credit: PV2 Andrew W. McGalliard (Public Domain)

Health officials from the World Health Organization have announced that all 47 countries in the WHO’s Africa region have eradicated the crippling viral disease that attacks the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within hours.

Regional News • Africa
Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia resume talks over management of Ethiopian Nile dam
Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia resume talks over management of Ethiopian Nile dam
Credit: Hailefida (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Under the leadership of the African Union the three in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) involved countries Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt have announced that they'll continue negotiations over the management of the dam.

The water and foreign ministers of the countries have agreed "to work on unifying the texts of the agreements submitted by the three countries" according to the water ministry of Sudan.

Regional News • Africa
Botswana: Capital under two-week lockdown due to rise in Coronavirus cases
Botswana: Capital under two-week lockdown due to rise in Coronavirus cases
Credit: Brandon Gregory / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Botswana's capital Gaborone was placed under a 14-day lockdown again as Coronavirus infections doubled in the past week. Dr. Lemogang Kwape, the country's health minister, said this was a necessary move as the capital was experiencing a "worrying rise" of infections. The lockdown started Friday. People, except essential workers, will need temporary permits to move around.

Dr. Lemogang Kwape said: "During the course of this week the disease has taken an unexpected turn. This now requires that we place the greater Gaborone zone under lockdown for a minimum period of two weeks to enable us to contain the disease."

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Music
Nigeria: Musician Mr Eazi raises $20 million for African music creatives
Mr Eazi
Mr Eazi Credit: YouTube (Reproduction)

Nigerian singer and entrepreneur Mr Eazi raised $20 million with his Africa Music Fund. The musician wants to offer funding and financial support for African music creatives. One of his main investors is Pan-African seed fund 88mph.

Mr Eazi said: "Artists cannot go to banks to get money for their music because financial institutions don't understand how to secure intellectual property. They get it for physical properties but not for music. So, because not a lot of people understand the music business, there is no finance product for musicians."

Science • Animals
Uganda: Wildlife poaching doubled as tourism income dwindles
Rafiki, a silverback gorilla, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in South Western Uganda was killed in a poaching incident recently
Rafiki, a silverback gorilla, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in South Western Uganda was killed in a poaching incident recently Credit: Arney

The Uganda Wildlife Authority recorded 367 wildlife poaching cases between February and June, twice as much as during the same period last year. This is due to many people who rely on income from tourism now have turned to poaching to make money or obtain food.

“They set snares for other animals that they want to eat. Like, the small antelope. Or a bushpig," Gladys Kalema Zikusoka, founder and chief of non-profit wildlife group Conservation Through Public Health, said. "They’ll go for those to eat them. And when they set these snares, gorillas can accidentally get caught in the snare. But worse still, we’ve had cases of people spearing gorillas. Yet they were not going for gorillas, they were going for diker and bush pig.”

Regional News • Africa
Gabon: Senate voted to decriminalise homosexuality
Gabon: Senate voted to decriminalise homosexuality
Credit: Österblom

Gabon senate voted in favor of decriminalising homosexuality. The bill is now awaiting ratification by President Ali Bongo Ondimba.

"Parliament is restoring a fundamental human right for its citizens: that of loving, freely, without being condemned. The Republic defends respect for everyone's privacy and remains One and indivisible beyond feelings. Yes to dignity, no to hate. #Gabon" – Sylvia Bongo Ondimba, the president's wife, voiced her support on Twitter.

Science • Space
"Ring of Fire" solar eclipse to happen on June 21
Annular eclipse in New Mexico, 2012
Annular eclipse in New Mexico, 2012 Credit: Kevin Baird / CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

On June 21, an annular "ring of fire" solar eclipse can be seen in parts of Africa and Asia, while a partial eclipse will be visible in Europe and northern Australia. A "ring of fire" eclipse happens when the moon covers the view of the Sun partially, leaving a glowing ring around the moon.

Regional News • Africa
Africa: Coronavirus outbreak accelerating across continent, according to WHO
Dr. Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti, Regional Director of the WHO Regional Office for Africa
Dr. Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti, Regional Director of the WHO Regional Office for Africa Credit: Jude Morel, Seychelles News Agency / CC BY (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's Africa regional director, said that the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating in all of Africa. The virus is spreading beyond major cities and into rural areas. Cases doubled in just 18 days to 200000. Moeti: "Even though these cases in Africa account for less than 3 percent of the global total, it's clear that the pandemic is accelerating."

Regional News • Africa
Sudan: Citizens demand lift of lockdown

Sudanese people demand the government to lift the lockdown. The population is battling famine and poverty. Government aids have failed to appear because of "technical issues". Sudan extended the lockdown until June 18th. Sudanese car mechanic Mohamed Othman: "We demand that the lockdown is lifted immediately so that we can get on with our lives because hunger is worse than corona."

Science • Space
2020 Strawberry Moon lunar eclipse occurs today
Full moon, so called "Strawberry moon" viewed  from Tochigi prefecture, eastern Japan.
Full moon, so called "Strawberry moon" viewed from Tochigi prefecture, eastern Japan. Credit: On-chan (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Today's lunar eclipse that begins at 17:45(UTC) and lasts until 21:04(UTC) will be a "penumbral eclipse," which occurs when the outer ring of Earth's shadow just grazes the moon.

This subtle lunar eclipse will be entirely visible for observers in eastern Africa, the Middle East, southern Asia and Australia. It will start at moonrise for those on the eastern coast of South America, western Africa and Europe, and at moonset for skywatchers in Japan and New Zealand.

The full moon in June is called a Strawberry Moon because it coincides with the strawberry harvest. In Europe, an old name for this full Moon is the Mead Moon or the Honey Moon.

Regional News • Africa
Africa: 140,000 confirmed coronavirus cases

Africa now has a total of 140,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and each country has reported at least one case. 4223 people suffered death from the coronavirus.

China promised support to Africa and will donate 30 million test kits per month as well as ventilators and masks, so Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa.