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How Africa’s fastest solar power project is lighting up Rwanda | Environment | The Guardian

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East African plant is completed in less than a year – creating jobs and setting the country on the path to providing half its population with electricity by 2017

Source: How Africa’s fastest solar power project is lighting up Rwanda | Environment | The Guardian

“Arise, shine for your light has come,” reads a sign at the entrance to the first major solar power farm in east Africa.

The 8.5 megawatt (MW) power plant in Rwanda is designed so that, from a bird’s-eye view, it resembles the shape of the African continent. “Right now we’re in Somalia,” jokes Twaha Twagirimana, the plant supervisor, during a walkabout of the 17-hectare site.

The plant is also evidence, not only of renewable energy’s increasing affordability, but how nimble it can be. The $23.7m (£15.6m) solar field went from contract signing to construction to connection in just a year, defying sceptics of Africa’s ability to realise projects fast.

The setting is magnificent amid Rwanda’s famed green hills, within view of Lake Mugesera, 60km east of the capital, Kigali. Some 28,360 solar panels sit in neat rows above wild grass where inhabitants include puff adders. Tony Blair andBono have recently taken the tour.

From dawn till dusk the computer-controlled photovoltaic panels, each 1.9 sq metres, tilt to track the sun from east to west, improving efficiency by 20% compared to stationary panels. The panels are from China while the inverters and transformers are from Germany.

The Gambia bans female genital mutilation | Society | The Guardian

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President Yahya Jammeh outlaws practice that affects three-quarters of women in west African country

Source: The Gambia bans female genital mutilation | Society | The Guardian

The Gambia has announced it will ban female genital mutilation (FGM) after the Guardian launched a global campaign to end the practice.

The president, Yahya Jammeh, said last night that the controversial surgical intervention would be outlawed. He said the ban would come into effect immediately, though it was not clear when the government would draft legislation to enforce it.

FGM involves cutting female genitalia – often when girls are young – to remove their labia and clitoris, which often leads to lifelong health complications, including bleeding, infections, vaginal pain and infertility. More than 130 million women worldwide are subjected to the procedure in Africa and the Middle East…”

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