Former South African President Nelson Mandela died peacefully at his Johannesburg home on Thursday after a prolonged lung infection.
An international conference in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi has brought together ministers, economists, scientists and development experts to review and recommend policy action towards incorporating the valuation of natural resources and ecosystems services in development planning and accounting in Africa. Natural capital is a critical asset, especially for low-income countries, where it makes up around 36% of total wealth, according to recent World Bank estimates. In May 2012, 10 African countries, along with various public and private organizations, adopted the Gaborone Declaration, which outlines a set of concrete principles and development goals that include valuing natural capital in the development planning process. As of 2005, half of Africa's most biologically rich terrestrial areas lost more than 50% of their area due to cultivation, degradation or urbanization.
South Africa's deputy president has re-launched the country's HIV counselling and testing campaign to mark World Aids Day. Kgalema Motlanthe, who is also the chairperson of the National Aids Council, underwent an HIV test at a mobile testing station in the mining town of Piet Retief in Mpumalanga to raise awareness of the importance of getting tested. The focus of the campaign was mainly to encourage men to get circumcised. Studies have shown that circumcision reduces a heterosexual male's risk of contracting HIV by up to 60 percent. Currently there is an estimated 6.4 million HIV-positive people in South Africa, 2.4 million of them are on the treatment programme, the biggest in the world. This year, the health ministry introduced a single dose anti-retroviral drug to make it easier for those receiving treatment.
With about six million people infected with the HIV virus - more than 10 percent of the country's population - South Africa carries the world's heaviest HIV/AIDS caseload. But it also has one of the world's largest treatment programmes. Ahead of World Aids Day on Sunday, the head of South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), the highest body that advises the government on all HIV and tuberculosis related policies, programmes and interventions, says that much more needs to be done to prevent new infections. Dr Fareed Addullah said the challenge in curbing new infections is to change people's behaviour.
A group of researchers at South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has developed the world's first digital laser. The team described it as a "disruptive technology" that could change the ways of manufacturing, communication and how electronic devices work. Their work is being regarded as a breakthrough in laser technology. The team has shown that laser beams can be digitally controlled from within a laser device to shape it in new ways. South African Science Minister Derek Hanekom said CSIR's digital laser was the latest addition to South Africa's list of "firsts", which included the first heart transplant by Dr Chris Barnard. Local scientists have also pioneered the computerised axial tomography scan, known as the CAT scan.
A bus crash in South Africa killed at least 11 people and injured several others early this morning, barely two weeks after another accident took the lives of nearly 30 people. The bus travelling from Johannesburg to neighboring Zimbabwe drove into an oncoming sedan in Makhado, 270 kms north of the capital, Pretoria. Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, spokesman for police in the northern Limpopo province, confirmed the casualties. According to the police, some of the victims were Zimbabwean. Police are investigating a case of culpable homicide although both drivers were killed in the early morning crash, which happened as the bus was overtaking a truck.
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