Queensland University of Technology assistant dean Simone White addresses participants at the International Symposium for Innovation in Rural Education Thursday, August 2, 2018 at Montana State University in Bozeman, Mont. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham

Rural schools conference, Rural Voters and Other Reports

Every week, RuralReporters.com collate reports on development issues in rural Africa and its environs.

This report includes some of our top picks from recent must-read research, interviews, blogs, and in-depth articles, carefully selected to help you keep up with global issues.

Here are some of the updates you may have missed from the previous week:

Educators gather in Bozeman for international rural schools conference

An international rural education conference hosted at Montana State University helped share lessons between education experts about challenges and strengths that stretch from the Scottish highlands to the Glasgow Scotties.

A frequent theme was how to create a reliable pipeline of teachers in small, isolated schools — something Montana has struggled with.

Other presenters highlighted an MSU program that lets teaching students observe in rural schools before they begin student teaching. Small groups travel across the state, helping teaching students bridge the gap from their idea of rural to the realities of individual towns.

Zimbabwe election: What do voters in rural areas want?      

Zimbabweans have voted in the country’s first election since the ousting of President Robert Mugabe last year.

The BBC’s Pumza Fihlani went outside the capital, Harare, to find out how rural voters feel and what issues matter most to them.

How can Nigeria’s cities deal with migration from rural villages?

As Nigeria’s economy grows so does the challenge of planning her cities to adapt. The problem is that many parts of these growing cities are neglected but still growing at an alarming rate. According to UN-Habitat, 62% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s urban population live in slums with Nigeria’s largest slum settlements being Ilaje, Shomolu, and of course the infamous Makoko.

Urbanisation affects the everyday life of Nigeria’s arguably 180 million inhabitants, just as much as it’s climate, economy and political factors do. The World Bank estimates that as of 2017 the population of the sub-Saharan region living in cities is 39% – with Nigeria reaching as high as 49%.

One way to deal with rapid urbanisation is through public-private partnerships. On the public side, the focus should be on housing regulations, eradication of slum dwellings and the planning principles that facilitate this.

African governments’ quest for cheap electricity has kept millions of us in the dark

With an electrification rate of 42% in 2016, Africa lags all other regions in the world, with the lowest rates in rural areas, according to the World Bank (pdf, pg 49).

The problem is that across Africa, the vast majority of the power utilities are effectively bankrupt. Why are so many African power utilities effectively bankrupt? For one thing, they are incredibly inefficient. Efficiency can be improved by proper metering, investing in the system to reduce losses, improving collections and being able to cut off non-payers.

Which brings us to the crucial point: power tariffs. An improvement in the power situation in Africa cannot happen without an increase in power tariffs. Most power utilities are government-owned and where they aren’t, governments heavily regulate them. Regulators are thus able to impose pricing caps to ensure affordability.

Supporting the “Next Generation” in rural development, – IFAD

Ahead of his address to the Group of Twenty (G20) Ministers of Agriculture Meeting this week, Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), offered the institution’s full support for efforts to increase the sustainable production of nutritious foods.

While the main theme of the meeting is sustainable soil management, the group will also discuss a proposal by Argentina to boost rural youth employment through access to technology and engagement with the private sector through global events.

Busayo Sotunde is a prolific writer with special focus on Business, Entrepreneurship, Reproductive Health and other development issues in Africa. Her articles have been published by different outlets including Investing Port and Ventures-Africa.com. She has a penchant for reading and sustainable development. Follow Busayo on Twitter @BusayomiSotunde

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