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From waste to wealth: How DR Congo city turned plastic problem into profit

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Residents of the Bukavu province in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, have shown the African entrepreneurial spirit by turning thousands of plastic waste routinely thrown into the Ruzizi River into great profits for themselves.

Before striking on this profit making opportunity, the plastic waste routinely clogged the country’s hydropower station’s turbines, often shutting them down for months while plunging the city of 1.6 million people into darkness.

But an entrepreneur, Elie Mapenzi Matabaro, stumbled upon the idea of turning the waste into wealth and set up a company which not only provided jobs for young people in the city, but also provided a permanent solution to the city’s plastic waste and regular power problems.

Matabaro who started his company, FDA Group, seven years ago, has transformed the plastic bottles and other city waste into cheap, hard-wearing paving slabs that grace driveways and forecourts across the city.

Every day, FDA’s trash collectors go round the city, picking up the trash from deposits of mountains of waste, where it is melted down and scraped into hexagonal metal moulds to form the beautifully designed paving slabs.

Speaking on the breakthrough by his company, Marabaro said:

“There was no system for protection of the environment, so we started our business to help resolve the waste problem.

“It is a business that helps us to turn an environmental problem to an economic resource.”

Residents of the city who have paved their courtyards with Matabaro’s slabs have been full of praises for him.

Obedi Erodia, who has paved his driveway in red and black tessellating blocks, said:

“The advantage of these cobblestones is that they are less expensive compared to cement cobblestones.

“The plastic paving is becoming more popular because it is easy to clean and helps fight environmental pollution in his province.

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Educationist challenges media freedom norms, cautions against misuse of freedom of expression

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Geshom Banda, Deputy Head Teacher at Hillside Primary School, presents a contrasting perspective amidst discussions on media freedom and digital rights.

Banda contested the prevalent notion suggesting limitations on expressing opinions regarding government affairs through media channels.

In an interview with Zambia Monitor in Chipata, Eastern Province, Banda emphasized Zambia’s democratic foundation, affirming that citizens possessed the liberty to voice their views on governmental matters via the media.

“Television broadcasts frequently feature discussions on political issues and government affairs, reflecting the freedom of expression prevailing in our nation,” he observed.

Furthermore, Banda highlighted the accessibility of media platforms for marginalized groups, including the disadvantaged and persons with disabilities, enabling them to articulate their voices effectively.

“Thanks to the readily available facilities, marginalized communities now have avenues to express themselves through various media channels,” he said.

Nevertheless, Banda cautioned against the misuse of freedom of expression and digital rights, particularly concerning the dissemination of inaccurate information, which could adversely affect consumers’ perceptions of cyberspace.

“The challenge lies in misinformation. Inaccurate information circulated through the media can distort the public’s understanding,” he cautioned.

Acknowledging the necessity of regulatory measures, Banda referenced the Cybersecurity Act, aimed at curbing the malicious distortion of media content, despite persistent efforts by some individuals to spread misinformation.

“Granting unrestricted freedom in media poses risks of information distortion. Hence, regulatory measures like the Cybersecurity Act are crucial in safeguarding digital rights and preventing abuse,” he emphasized.

This story is sponsored content from Zambia Monitor’s Project Aliyense.

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Nigerian govt shuts Chinese supermarket over ‘no-Nigerian shopper’ allegation

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Nigeria’s Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has shut down a Chinese store in Abuja, the country’s capital, because it would not let Nigerians in, but only Chinese people in.

The commission told the owner of the store on Airport Road on Monday evening that they had to come in on Wednesday and would use “regulatory tools” against the management. It also claimed it had conducted investigations into complaints by Nigerians who claimed they were victims of unfair treatment. Officials say that the store owner could be punished if they are found guilty.

In the raid led by Boladale Adeyinka, the Director for Surveillance and Investigation of FCCPC, they said their job was in response to the video that went viral showing Nigerians being discriminated against and not being able to get into an Abuja supermarket.

At the end of the enforcement, Adeyinka said that the Chinese woman who owned the supermarket, Cindy Liu Bei, left with her family on Monday at 8:26 a.m., which was proven by the CCTV camera.

She said, “The essence of the surveillance and investigation that we conducted today is to verify the allegations and the content of that viral video.

“On arrival, we noticed that the supermarket which is right behind me, was sealed and padlocked externally. Inquiries have shown that yes, as this morning this supermarket was open and people were here.

“CCTV footage also shows that in the morning, two vehicles departed from these very premises allegedly containing the owner of the supermarket, whom we have been able to identify by name and we have her contact details.”

She further directed that the owner appear before the commission tribunal or the compound would remain sealed.

“Now the summons of course, since she’s not around and the place is locked, is to serve notice on her to appear before the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission by Wednesday.

“There are other regulatory tools to be deployed if she fails to attend to this summon. The summons means that on entering into these premises, they must see the summons because that is how they gain access to it”, she said.

Meanwhile, the China General Chamber Of Commerce, which is in the Royal Choice Estate with the supermarket, denied claims that any Nigerian was discriminated against or not allowed to shop at the store or in the estate.

On Monday in Abuja, the CGCC said this in a statement called “REJOINDER: Response to Allegations of Discrimination at Chinese Supermarket” and signed by the management. The chamber said that the residential area of the estate is made up of privately owned homes and that outside guests must follow strict security rules to stay safe.

However, it said it was sorry about the fight at the estate’s entrance gate between security staff and a customer and that it did not represent the official opinion of the estate management in any way.

The statement read in full, “The China General Chamber of Commerce and the supermarket are completely unrelated entities. The residential area of the estate consists of privately occupied residences. Access for external visitors must adhere to security protocols for safety reasons. The supermarket manager asserts that no individual was subjected to discrimination or denied access to the estate or supermarket to purchase groceries.”

It added, “The altercation at the estate’s entrance gate between the security personnel and a customer is regrettable and does not in any way reflect the official position of the estate management. The China General Chamber of Commerce is an organization that believes in equality and inclusiveness. Our principles are to enhance friendship between the people of both countries and promote economic development. Seeing is believing. We welcome firsthand visits to witness the truth.”

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