Neutron Stars: The Most Extreme Things that are not Black Holes

Neutron stars are one of the most extreme and violent things in the universe. Giant atomic nuclei only a few kilometers in diameter, but as massive four stars. And they owe their existence to the death of something majestic.

Stars exist because of the fragile balance. The mass of millions of billions of trillions of tons of hot plasma are being pulled inwards by gravity and squeeze material together with so much force that nuclei fuse.

Hydrogen fuses into helium. This releases energy which pushes against gravity and tries to escape as long as this balance exists stars are pretty stable.

Eventually the hydrogen will be exhausted. Medium stars like our Sun go through a giant phase where they burn helium into carbon and oxygen before they eventually turn into white dwarfs. But in stars many times the mass of our Sun things get interesting when the helium is exhausted for a moment the balance of pressure and radiation tips and gravity wins squeezing the star tighter than before.

The core burns hotter and faster while the outer layers of the star swell by hundreds of times fusing heavier and heavier elements.

Carbon burns to neon in centuries neon to oxygen in a year oxygen to silicon in months and silicon to iron in a day, and then death.

Iron is nuclear ash it has no energy to give and cannot be fuse. The fusion suddenly stops and the balance ends without the outward pressure from fusion. The core is crushed by the enormous weight of the star above it.

What happens now is awesome and scary. Particles like electrons and protons really don’t want to be near each other but the pressure of the collapsing star is so great that electrons and protons fuse into neutrons which then gets squeezed together as tightly as in atomic nuclei.

An iron ball the size of the earth is squeezed into a ball of pure nuclear matter the size of a city, but not just the core the whole star implodes gravity pulling the outer layers in at 25% the speed of light.

This implosion bounces off the iron core producing a shockwave that explodes outwards and catapults the rest of the star into space. This is what we call a supernova explosion and it will outshine entire galaxies.

What remains of the star is now a neutron star. It’s mass is around a million times the mass of the earth but compressed to an object about 25 kilometers wide. It’s so dense that the mass of all living humans would fit into one cubic centimeter of neutron star matter.

That’s roughly a billion tons in a space the size of a sugar cube. Put another way that’s Mount Everest in a cup of coffee from the outside a neutron star is unbelievably extreme. It’s gravity is the strongest outside black holes and if it were any denser it would become one.

Light is bent around it meaning you can see the front and parts of the back. Their surfaces reach a million degrees Celsius compared to a measly six thousand degrees for our Sun.

Okay.. let’s look inside a neutron star. Although these giant atomic nuclei are stars in many ways they’re also like planets with solid crusts over a liquid core.

The crust is extremely hard. The outermost layers are made of iron leftover from the supernova squeeze together in a crystal lattice with a sea of electrons flowing through them. Going deeper gravity squeezes nuclei closer together.

We find fewer and fewer protons as most merge two neutrons. Until we reach the base of the crust. Here nuclei are squeezed together so hard that they start to touch. Protons and neutrons rearrange making long cylinders or sheets enormous nuclei with millions of protons and neutrons shaped like spaghetti and lasagna which physicists all nuclear pasta.

Nuclear pasta is so dense that it may be the strongest material in the universe basically unbreakable. Lumps of pasta inside a neutron star can even make mountains at most a few centimeters high but many times as massive as the Himalayas.

Eventually beneath the pasta we reach the core. We’re not really sure what the properties of matter are when they’re squeezed this hard protons and neutrons might dissolve into an ocean of quarks a so-called quark gluon plasma.

Some of those quarks might turn into strange quarks making a sort of strange matter with properties so extreme that we made a whole video about it. Or maybe they just stay protons and neutrons.

No one knows for sure and that’s why we do science. That’s all pretty heavy stuff literally so let’s go back out into space. When neutron stars first collapse they begin to spin very very fast like a ballerina putting her arms in.

Neutron stars are celestial ballerinas spinning many times per second. This creates pulses because their magnetic field creates a beam of radio waves which passes every time they spin.

These radio pulsars are the best-known type of neutron star about 2,000 are known of in the Milky Way. These magnetic fields are the strongest in the universe a quadrillion times stronger than Earth’s after they’re born.

They’re called magnetars until they calm down a little, but the absolute best kind of neutron stars are friends with other neutronstars. By radiating away energy as gravitational waves ripples in space-time their orbits can decay and they can crash into and hit each other in a kiln over explosion that spews out a lot of their guts.

When they do the conditions become so extreme that for a moment heavy nuclei are made again. It’s not fusion putting nuclei together this time but heavy neutron-rich matter falling apart and reassembling.

Only very recently we’ve learned that this is probably the origin of most of the heavy elements in the universe like gold uranium and platinum and dozens more.

So they’re now two neutron stars collapse and become a black hole dying yet again. Not only two stars have to die to create elements they have to die twice. Over millions of years these atoms will mix back into the galaxy but some of them end up in a cloud which gravity pulls together to form stars and planets repeating the cycle.

Our solar system is one example and the remains of those neutron stars that came before us are all around us.

Our entire technological modern world was built out of the elements neutron stars made in eons past. Sending these atoms on a thirteen billion year journey to come together and make us and our world and that’s pretty cool.

Until then we can look at them on paper. The twelve thousand and twenty human space era calendar has arrived. You can order it now until we sell out and then never again. Visit the cloudy cities of Venus Dyson swarm assembly on Mercury and cross the borders of our solar system. Shipping from the US and from Europe for the first time, but we deliver to every country all over the world. You could also get a plushie or hoodie or poster we have some sweet deals for you. Get it for Christmas for your friends families and kids or to distract yourself from the fact that there are 100 billion billion earth-like planets in the habitable zone of sun-like stars in the observable universe and you will never visit any of them. The last few years we’ve sold them all so no rush but the clock is ticking. Getting stuff from our shop is one of the best ways to support courts cos out, because of you we can keep this channel free for everyone and make more beautiful things a happy interstellar year twelve thousand and
twenty.

A Mining Sector in Crisis

Windhoek/Gaborone – The mining sector in the region is facing the severest stress witnessed in a long time which will see thousands of workers losing their jobs, and a situation that could strain the revenue streams of Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states, whose projected economic growth for the year depend on good mining output and better commodity prices.

An analyst with Africa Risk Consulting, Mark Sorbara observes that as long as the current economic downturn persists, governments face tough budgetary decisions of how to extract more value for money from oil, gas and mining companies and stimulate employment, without discouraging investment.

He said labour issues are key concern for host governments as mining companies retrench thousands of workers to strengthen their balance sheets.

“Kumba Iron Ore in South Africa announced 4000 job losses this week. Anglo American has announced 85,000 worldwide. This will likely to strain relations between governments and mining companies and negatively impact the ability of the industry to work with host governments to create a cooperative forward looking policy environment that can set the stage for broad based benefits when the commodity cycle begins returns from its depressed price environment,” Sorbara said.

He said despite the potential for increasingly tense government – investor relations, Africa’s mineral reserves still have significant growth potential and the current down cycle provides another opportunity to get in on the ground floor. The sub-Saharan Africa region is facing severe shocks associated with the steep decline in commodity prices and tightening global financial conditions.

Botswana has already disclosed that thousands of its workers in the mining sectors will lose their jobs in the next coming few months. Botswana’s Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Kitso Mokaila told Parliament this week that the volatile commodity market has impacted negatively on the current employment levels and Government commitment to employment creation in the mining industry.

Employees at Botswana’s Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB) employees are also said to be uncertain of their future as the company is undergoing a restructuring exercise which is expected to shed an undisclosed number of jobs. Diamond prices have dropped about 12 percent over the past five years. This has been attributed to falling demand in China.

The state-owned BCL, Botswana’s biggest copper miner, is expected to cut as many as 2,000 of its 6,000 workforce as it streamlines operations in the face of weak copper prices, currently at six-year lows. London-listed Gem Diamond expects diamond production at its Ghaghoo mine in central Botswana to fall by more than half this year due to depressed demand for diamonds globally. It may have to lay off more than two-thirds of its workforce as it restructures to cope with the weak market.

The pronouncements are on the back of the February statement issued by the Mining Industry Association of Southern Africa (MIASA) which is an association of Chambers of Mines in SADC has warned of more job losses in southern Africa’s mining sector, saying the Southern African Development Community (SADC) lost approximately 70 000 jobs across all commodities.

“Considering a multiplier effect of seven, this translates to total jobs lost amounting to 490 000. This means up to five million people have been deprived of their daily subsistence considering that each employee supports between seven to 10 dependants. To make matters worse, a further 50 000 employees face the risk of losing their jobs if something drastic is not done urgently.”

MIASA had highlighted the need for policy consistency by governments to help the mining industry in the SADC region survive. MIASA is a regional mining body representing chambers of mines from Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Mokaila said beyond the job losses, the current situation has also constrained mineral exploration expenditure and activities on the ground thus compromising the ability to make new mineral findings.

“As a ministry we direct our efforts towards avoiding or minimising job losses in adverse economic situation such as the current one. Where job losses are inevitable other stakeholder Ministries become the focal points of government interventions,” he said.

Zimbabwe has also not been spared by the falling international prices of the diamond mineral in Marange, located some 300km at the eastern border-post of Manicaland province near Mozambique, resulting in several companies reducing costs and streamlining non-core business units.

Diamond mining has stalled after the government ordered all the companies operating in Marange off the fields after they defied a policy directive to merge into a single company called the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).

The government argues this is to ensure transparency, efficiency and accountability, citing the Debswana operations in neighbouring Botswana. But the mining companies, among them Mbada Diamonds and the Chinese owned Anjin, have taken the government to court in what could turn out to be a long-drawn out legal wrangle.

Media reports also indicate that the Zimbabwe Government was forced to railroad the Labour Amendment Bill through Parliament after a recent Supreme Court ruling that allowed employers to fire workers on three months’ notice sparked a tsunami of job losses that saw more than 20 000 people losing jobs.

In Zambia it is reported that the Zambian government may consider introducing finance-aiding initiatives to help reduce mining job losses.

This follows an announcement by Anglo-Swiss mining company that it is suspending operations at its Katanga copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and its Mopani copper mine in Zambia for 18 months to undertake upgrade works aimed at lowering operating costs. CNMC Luanshya Copper Mines also recently stated it would suspend operations at its Baluba mine in Zambia.

However, some member states seem to have sound policies in place that will mitigate job losses predicted by MIASA.

Namibian Chamber of Mines of Namibia chief executive officer Veston Malango last week said despite depressed global commodity prices that have adversely affected the world’s mining industry, the Namibian mining industry has actually created more jobs than it has lost. “We are engaging government to discuss and resolve such challenges to sustain mining sector growth in the future,” he said. Still, he credited a sound regulatory regime in Namibia for keeping investors interested despite trying times.

“The stable political climate in Namibia and the clear framework set out by the government have made Namibia the number one mining investment destination on the continent for two years running,” Malango further said.

Malango was speaking at the launch of Namibia’s Mining Expo and Conference that will this year take place on April 27 and 28 in Windhoek. Botswana would also on March 14 -17 hosts the Botswana Mining Conference Indaba dubbed, “Diamonds still Sparkling 2016.”

The mining conference is set to deliberate on geology and exploration, mine expansion projects, mining, metallurgical and beneficiation technology, rough diamond sales and marketing, cutting and polishing, financial services and industry analysis, industry governance and legislation update as well as mine specific case studies.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects most countries in sub-Saharan Africa will see a gradual pickup in growth, but with lower commodity prices, to rates that are lower than those seen over the past decade.

“This mainly reflects the continued adjustment to lower commodity prices and higher borrowing costs, which are weighing heavily on some of the region’s largest economies (Angola, Nigeria, and South Africa) as well as a number of smaller commodity exporters,” said IMF.

Investment managers at Imara Africa Securities says growth in the Sub-Saharan Africa region is expected to accelerate in 2016, even though the rebound will likely be moderate as the main threats to growth are not projected to wane soon.

DRC is expected to be amongst the best performers this year, with GDP growth rates at or above 7.0%. At the other end of the spectrum, South Africa is likely to be the worst performer, followed by Angola and Botswana.

Tanzania’s economic output is expected to rise at 7,1 percent in 2016 /17 driven in part by rising consumption from consumers, increased infrastructure spend and growing exports. Imara says the performance of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in 2016 to depend on the authorities addressing the macroeconomic fundamentals. – Additional reporting by Desie Heita and Mpho Tebele.

Afdb Dangles $12bn to Develop Africa’s Energy Sector

Lusaka – Countries in Sub-Sahara Africa need to bolster energy efficiency through investments that should be scaled up to over three percent of their Gross Domestic Product from the paltry 0.4 percent and further slash subsidies on some of their petroleum products to meet demand for the over 650 million population, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has proposed.

Under a new plan billed to scale up power in the 54 African states by 2030, the continent needs to boost investment in energy from 0.4 percent of GDP to 3.4 percent and consider scaling down subsidies for among other petroleum products, diesel and kerosene.

This is according to the bank’s plan of action to bolster Africa’s energy potential in which it has dangled about US$12 billion to promote energy efficiency in several countries on the continent in the next five years.

The 15-member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are also grappling to meet energy demands following persistent low rainfall in the region, spurred by the El Nino in which the sub Saharan Africa, in general, needs to scale up its potential to benefit from its funds available. According to the Pan-African financier, it will put aside about $12 billion for investment in the energy sector in Africa including solar, hydro, agriculture, and women empowerment, among others.

AFDB said in a recent report that Africa has huge potential in hydro, solar and thermal power, which all needs to be maximised to grow the continent’s energy potential.

Under the Africa Development Bank’s programme dubbed: “New Deal Initiative” that was launched last week on the side-lines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the bank plans to add 160 gigawatts of power to the continent’s current capacity by 2025.

Under the new initiative, the bank plans to invest up to $50 billion to address the continent’s chronic energy shortages.

“What we take for granted in developed countries is a luxury in Africa. Africa has no power and it is tired of being in the dark,” AfDB president Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, was quoted saying in the report.

“This will be the equivalent of adding 800 new 200MW power plants – the ambition is high but it has been done in China, Vietnam and Bangladesh. It is doable.”

Power shortages are estimated to cost Africa 2 to 4 percent of GDP every year and according to AfDB, companies in countries like Ghana and Tanzania are losing an estimated 15 percent of sales because of persistent power outages.

Hospitals, among other amenities lack the ability to provide 24-hour health care, while 90 percent of schools lack electricity, forcing many consumers to resort to wood and cow dung to heat up homes and cooking, posing a several health risk.

As a result, it is estimated that 600,000 people die yearly because of indoor pollution. Renewable energy, IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) estimates that 250 gigawatts need to be added to the energy capacity on the continent by the year 2030.

An estimated 130 million grid connections, AfDB said, will need to be completed in the next decade to hit that target, while a further 75 million off-grid consumers can benefit from solar systems.

But there’s likely to be an investment shortfall of up to $30 billion, which the ADB hopes will come from other inter-governmental organisations and the private sector.

Under an agreement devised by the global community at the Climate Change Summit in Paris in December 2015, developed countries are expected to help fund green energy and climate adaptation projects in Africa and deliver at least $100 billion a year in funds to all developing nations by 2020.

Meanwhile, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimated that about $62 billion a year was flowing out of poorer nations, which it said they are not seeing the levels of investment needed to raise people out of poverty and cope with future extreme weather impacts.

It is against this background that AfDB president Adesina noted that initial plans would be “technology neutral” pointing to South Africa’s large coal reserves and West Africa’s gas stocks alongside solar, wind and hydro.

Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan recently described the news as an “exciting moment” while urging countries to take advantage of the plans to invest in climate-friendly energy systems.

“Eventually the idea is to go green and I think Africa has the possibility of being the first continent to be a green continent,” he said.

Meanwhile, Zambia has been cheered by AfDB’s desire to provide US$12 billion for Sub-Saharan Africa for the next five years, coming on the back of critical power shortages characterising the country.

In a statement, Zambia’s presidential spokesperson Amos Chanda noted that the $12 billion funding initiative by the AfDB was welcome at the continental level, much of which will be provided to Zambia, which has a huge potential for hydro, solar and thermal power.

Following a meeting with President Edgar Lungu on the side of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last week, the AfDB chief is expected in Zambia next month to discuss with government the way forward and is optimistic the country would maximise on the available resources to improve energy needs and provision for its more than 15 million population, Chanda said in a statement.

He said Adesina, who is in support of the Zambia’s government’s economic reforms, is expected in Zambia ahead of the AfDB annual meeting to be hosted by Lusaka from May 23-27 this year.

Chanda noted that Adesina encouraged President Lungu to proceed and ensure the country had cost reflective electricity tariffs unlike the meagre US$0.4-U$0.6 cents a kilowatt hour being offered especially for the domestic and industrial user.

“The AfDB president takes note that this is a difficult thing to do, but once that is done, there is a lot of money, which will come in the energy sector.

What is inhibiting that is the lack of cost-reflective tariffs,” he said.

“President Lungu has since assured Adesina and the AfDB that the process to get to the cost-reflective electricity tariffs would move progressively. AfDB, Chanda added, hailed Zambia for also setting up a women’s bank and that the bank had $300 million from which Zambia could benefit.

“The bank is excited that the Zambian women’s bank has been set up, they have announced that a significant amount of $300 million will be made available to the women’s bank under the women empowerment,” said the presidential spokesman. (Reported by Jeff Kapembwa)

Namibia’s Independence worth Celebrating Despite Shortcomings

Windhoek – As Namibia celebrates its 26th independence on Monday, March 21, the nation can rejoice over many achievements like the stable political climate, economic growth, human development, rise in the literacy rate and more in this short span of time.

But Namibia is also faced by many challenges, especially when it comes to the staggering high rate of poverty and inequality, unemployment, lack of decent shelter and the slow pace of land reform.

Despite this, many experts believe that there are many reasons to celebrate independence as it was Namibia’s most major achievement in 1990 after a long and bitter struggle to liberate the country from the yoke of colonialism.

Namibia or South West Africa as it was called while a German colonial territory was placed under the South African “protectorate” by the League of Nations after the First World War.

But after the United Nations was established following the end of the Second World War, the South African apartheid regime incorporated the than South West Africa as one of its provinces.

Labour expert Herbert Jauch believes that in general, independence was a major achievement for Namibia and there is thus a good justification to celebrate independence every year.

“The particular focus and expectation this year rests on what measures will government take to eradicate poverty and to build a more inclusive and egalitarian society.

The huge levels of inequality that we maintained for 26 years are simply unacceptable and it is time to take deliberate action to redress this situation,” he said.

Jauch is of the opinion that the central focus of the anticipated Harambee Prosperity Plan by President Hage Geingob and government should serve its purpose, otherwise everything will remain the same while most Namibians hope for visible changes.

The ‘Harambee towards Prosperity for All’ is aimed at reducing poverty at significant levels in the country and is to be implemented from the period 2016/17 to 2020/21 and its implementation commence April 1, 2016.

Jauch further stated that there were many achievements since independence, such as the regular and generally peaceful elections that the governing Swapo Party has emerged as the dominant political force.

“Economically, we have seen modest economic growth over the years but no systematic diversification of the economy to create a large number of additional jobs. Inflation rates have been kept at modest levels of around 4-6 percent in most years and social grants were expanded to reach some of the vulnerable people in our society,” he pointed out, adding that the introduction of a universal social pension was a major step in reducing poverty and guaranteeing at least a minimum income for all the elderly.

“In terms of legal changes, women’s rights and protection against discrimination and harassment were entrenched in the Constitution, the Labour Act. Affirmative Action (employment) Act and the ruling party adopted a 50-50 policy in its structures.

Thus progress has been made in terms of moving towards formal gender equality but the question of substantive equality still remains,” he said.

The labour expert said that in terms of youth, there was much talk about the challenges facing the youth and both the National Youth Council and the National Youth Service were set up to address some of them.

However, majority of the youth still face major challenges, such as mass unemployment, poverty and a lack of housing that need to be tackled systematically.

Jauch further noted that high levels of inequality remain unresolved in terms of income and access to resources.

“The careful economic reforms and the hope of a “trickle down” effect did not manage to deliver greater levels of socio-economic equality.

Instead we are still basically a “rich country with poor people,” he maintained, saying that bold steps need to be taken now to make social and economic rights a reality for all and to eradicate poverty as the President set as one of government’s key aims.

Jauch spelled out that making adequate housing a right, providing access to quality education and health care for all, limiting housing speculation and multiple ownership by the rich, introducing a wealth tax and a capital gains tax and introducing a basic income grant as some of the measures to bring about economic equality for all.

“Expectations are high and 2016 will be a year for government to show that it can deliver and that it is willing to take bold steps of redistribution in favour of the poor.

Without addressing the huge levels of inequality, there can be no peace and stability in the years to come,” he said.

Mandela Kapere, the executive chairperson of the National Youth Council (NYC), said that the Independence Day was about celebrating the freedom and an opportunity for Namibians to determine their own future.

When it comes to youth empowerment, Kapere said that a lot has been achieved from the policy perspective and Namibia was one of the 15 first African countries to adopt the African Union Youth Charter.

He said Namibia is one of only five African nations that has youth development institutions created by law and the country can also boast as being one of few countries that has expanded its youth framework budget towards education.

“A big chunk of the national budget goes towards youth development,” he enthused.

However, the NYC chairperson said that the system was not adequately responsive to cater for the young entrepreneurs, innovators and other business development initiatives by young people.

This is the main reason why Namibia’s youth development is lowly ranked when it comes to youth entrepreneurship and support for sound enterprises, he said.

Dr Omo Kakujaha-Matundu from the University of Namibia’s Faculty of Economics and Management Sciences said he was equally elated to celebrate independence every year as it is not about a specific year in point but about the achievements in 26 years.

He said that it was Namibia’s government policies that unleashed potentials in the economy that were denied to black people during apartheid.

“Namibia made huge economic strides, whether it is our infrastructure, roads and the deepening of our harbour (at Walvis Bay),” he maintained.

On challenges, Kakujaha-Matundu said that Namibia still has a narrow economic structure, which relies heavily on industries such as mining and agriculture.

This means that when the world economy slows down, we suffer as a mineral exporting country, he said.

He said that drought was posing a serious challenge to agricultural produce, which will affect the GDP of Namibia.

“We need to see how to add value through manufacturing, such as (producing) leather products, add more value to fish before exporting.

We have serious challenges and government needs to pursue policies that will promote value addition,” he added. (Reported by Magreth Nunuhe)

Flyafrica – the Bird That Never Flew

By Timo Shihepo

Windhoek – Low budget airliner Fly Africa has seemingly given up the fight for the SADC market, after a decision to cease operation in some parts of the region, along with very little visibility in markets where the airline still hold operating licenses.

FlyAfrica is a Mauritius-based private equity aviation investment group that tried to offer cheaper services as part of its Pan-Africa low-fare strategy. It made headlines and sends shivers down the spines of state-owned airline companies when it introduced cheap routes across the region at a low ticket prices. The idea was greatly embraced by many people in Namibia who were only to pay as little as U$80 for a return ticket between Windhoek and Cape Town/Johannesburg.

It then had its operating licences withdrawn in Namibia and Zimbabwe in October 2015, which essentially grounded its entire operations and fleet of planes.

In Namibia the company faced a mountains of challenges that led to the local partner company, Nomad Aviation, to throw in the towel in December 2015, and disassociating itself completely from FlyAfrica. Former FlyAfrica Namibia Chief Executive Officer, and Nomad Aviation executive, Clifford Strydom, has confirmed to The Southern Times that Fly Africa has recently stopped all flights in the region and “we as a company [Nomad Aviation] have stopped all our association with the [FlyAfrica] airline.”

FlyAfrica was set to charge $100 for the return ticket for the Victoria Falls routes both in Zimbabwe and Johannesburg in South Africa, which otherwise cost about three times more if using national carriers. The company has had presence in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa.

FlyAfrica entered the Namibian market through local company Nomad Aviation, selling air transport tickets worth N$3 million in a span of few days up until its maiden flight was grounded by the Namibian civil aviation authority.

The Namibian directorate of civil aviation successfully prohibited Nomad, which was trading as FlyAfrica Namibia, from flying citing aviation irregularity, absence of relevant licences and aviation validation. This left passenger stranded. The regulators also cited the safety of the airline’s aeroplanes. The DCA said then that had discovered that FlyAfrica uses planes that are not authorised under the civil aviation authority’s approved wet lease, which regulates such passenger services.

FlyAfrica was also dealt a blow by Air Namibia, the national airline, which successfully asked the Namibian High Court to bar FlyAfrica from using the route between Windhoek’s Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) and the OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg, saying FlyAfrica only has licence to fly between Windhoek’s HKIA and Lanseria airport in Johannesburg.

Strydom said the company’s wings in Namibia, were really clipped when Air Namibia took them to court to prevent Fly Africa from transporting passengers from Windhoek to OR Tambo airport in South Africa.Strydom who refrained from uttering harsh words said, at first, in other SADC countries apart from Namibia they were just doing fine.

“In Namibia it’s quite the opposite. Everyone else in SADC was really accommodating but the challenge was only in Namibia. Don’t get me wrong the people in Namibia want us but the national airline doesn’t.

“The problem is that it only has one main shareholder and it is fighting tooth and nail so that it does not lose more customers. But really, if they didn’t want competition they could have just launched services that are affordable to people,” he said.

In January this year however the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) cleared FlyAfrica, to resume flying, ending a nearly three months suspension of its flying certificate. Zimbabwe’s regulatory body lifted the suspension placed on the operations of FlyAfrica after it successfully complied with all regulatory requirements.

In Zimbabwe FlyAfrica is operating in partnership between Chakanyuka Karase’s family investment vehicle called Fresh Air and Mike Bond of the now defunct One Time of South Africa.

Sanitation Is Namibia’s Neglected Stepchild

Windhoek- Every year on November 19, the global community observes the World Toilet Day, an event designated by the United Nations (UN) to raise awareness about the people in the world who don’t have access to proper toilets, despite the fact that it is a human right to have clean water and sanitation.

According to UN Water, an agency that coordinates the UN’s work on freshwater and sanitation, the World Toilet Day is about the 2.4 billion people who lack access to improved sanitation. It is about the nearly 1 billion people who have to defecate in the open.

The UN says the state of sanitation remains a powerful indicator of the state of human development in any community. It said that improved sanitation also brings advantages for public health, livelihoods and dignity-advantages that extend beyond households to entire communities.

In his statement to observe last year’s World Toilet Day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon noted that sanitation is central to human and environmental health as well as to individual opportunity, development and dignity. But he registered his disappointment that to date, one in every three people lacks improved sanitation, and one in every eight practices open defecation, worldwide.

The Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) 7, target 3, outlined the global ambition to the proportion of people without access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015.

But up to the end of last year, there has been no tangible progress by the global community, especially in developing countries like in Africa to provide proper sanitations facilities, which the UN has warned is having negative effects on people’s health, safety, and dignity.

A 2014 progress report by the WaterAid has revealed that majority of governments in Southern African region, like the rest of the continent have failed to deliver on their promises on water and sanitation.

This left over 40 million people in the region without access to safe drinking water and 73 million without sanitation. Botswana and Angola have been rounded for their efforts to half the number of people without access to clean drinking water and sanitation during the implementations of the MDGs.

Justine Eilonga, a resident of Havana informal settlement in Windhoek is one of thousands of Namibians who were let down by their own government, which failed to provide them with basic sanitation facilities.

Although Namibia has met the target for water provision with over 87 percent of the households in the country have access to improved water supply, the target for sanitation was missed dismally.

While most of their country men and women are line-up in banks or in the shops to pay for their goods and services, Eilonga and other residents of Havana in the periphery of Namibia’s main city, Windhoek are queueing up and impatiently waiting for their turns to make use of a single toilet that serves close to a thousand people, irrespective of gender and age.

“We are sharing this one toilet with many people,” she said while pointing to a solitary toilet that was erected by the Windhoek Municipality.

“It’s just unhygienic and unbelievable that people from other informal settlements also track long distances to come use this toilet. I cannot blame them because I am aware that there is not a single toilet there but it is the municipality responsibility to ensure that the inhabitants have access to portable water and toilet facilities,” she said

Eilonga said the situation forces many people to relieve themselves in open, and at night especially women and children are forced to use baskets, which they dispose in the river beds the next morning, a situation which she distribute as undignified. Others especially those that are living in the new informal settlements dig their own traditional latrines.

Helodia Amadhila, also the resident of Havana, who is concerned about using public toilet at night due to especially with regard to security and health issues.

“I suffer a lot when nature calls during the night time because the only available toilet is very far and there are lots of bad people in the area. Although I stay with my two sons, some time they are not in the house and there is no one to escort me, leaving me with no choice but to use a basket which is very unhygienic,” she said.

Simon Nghindini, also a resident of Havana and whose shack is over a kilometer from the nearest public toilet relate a similar story to that of Amadhila, Eilonga and thousands of other Namibians without proper sanitation facilities.

“Most of the time the toilets are not working. This can be explained by a large number of people using the toilets, and municipal officials take their time to come fix them,” he said about a block of 12 toilets that were built by the City of Windhoek to serve the community of Havana.

“We decided to dig our own toilet because there is nowhere to relieve ourselves. This place is overcrowded and open space are scares. It’s a terrible situation we are living in,” Losivite Tuyeni, a resident of Gereagob, while pointing at family toilet her boyfriend has dug for them, a few meters from their corrugated irons house.

Namibia Demographic and Health Survey of 2013 indicated that only 34 percent of the population having access to improved sanitation which is against a target to have reached 66 percent of the population by 2015 as set out in the National Sanitation Strategy.

During the 9th Water and Sanitation Sector Joint Annual Review on February 2, in Windhoek by the government ministries and stakeholders in water and sanitation sector including the European Union, as development partner, the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa has acknowledged the country’s failure to provide proper sanitation to the majority of the population.

“Access to water has increased overally, even if sanitation remains – despite our genuine efforts – the neglected stepchild of this country. The challenge now lies with lack of progress on sanitation with only 34 percent of the population having access to improved sanitation,” he said.

“However, the victims affected by inadequate access to sanitation are as usual are primarily the poor. The problem of poor access to sanitation is particularly acute in the rural areas where only 17 percent of the population has access to improved sanitation facilities with an alarming rate as high as 46.5 percent of open defecation. Also equally affected are the informal settlements. The low access to improved sanitation constitutes a serious public-health problem”.

Minister Mutorwa also blamed the poor sanitation standard in urban centers such as Windhoek on the rapid increase in rural to urban migration, saying that the country needed to find urgent solution to the low access of sanitation in informal settlements.

“The disparity of water and sanitation service coverage between urban and rural is cause for concern. We cannot also ignore the rapid rural to urban migration that is going on at an estimated alarming rate of 3.5 percent per annum. This has a major impact on water and sanitation service delivery particularly in urban areas,” said the minister.

Having failed to deliver better sanitation facilities during the past 15 years, Namibia has now set herself a mammoth task to improve access to sanitation from the current 34 percent to 70 percent by 2017.

According to the Sanitation Strategic Plan, a total required budget to implement all initiatives in the plan was N$1.579 billion over the five year period from 2010/11-2014/15, with an average of N$316 million per annum. However, media reports indicate that the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry has been sitting on the funds that were a solution to the problem of poor sanitation in the country.

The ministry’s Director of Water Supply and Sanitation Coordination, Theopolina Nantanga gave a lame excuses in an interview with The Villager newspaper in June 2015 that the sanitation project failed to get off the off the ground because of numerous challenges including public education.

Nantanga however explained that the water and sanitation situation currently prevailing in the country is characterised by scarce water resources, poor access to running water in rural areas and a large percentage of the population living in vulnerable conditions in informal settlements.

The City of Windhoek manager for corporate communications, Joshua Amukugo said water and sanitation provisions one of the top priorities issues at the municipality.

“The City of Windhoek sees access to water and improved sanitation as one of the key challenges to the general upliftment of our society, in particular the more vulnerable portion thereof. In this regard the city has expended millions in the provision of water and sanitation facilities throughout the city to those in need and will continue to do so as the organization is fully aware of its social responsibility and is making a real, concerted effort to address all issues at hand,” Amukugo said.

The city official pointed the maintenance of facilities and water shortages as the most pressing challenges. “The maintenance of established sanitation facilities is proving to be by far the biggest challenge. Technical solutions exist in a variety of forms and even funding can be sourced, but sustaining the facility in working order has failed in many instances.

“Given the nature of a sanitation installation and the fact that these toilets are not under care of a single individual or household in many instances lead to these installations being subjected to vandalism, unhygienic usage and even the theft of water.

“The provision of adequate sanitation is a major challenge on its own, however maintaining this has proven almost impossible under the current model.

This is also one of the primary reasons the City of Windhoek has embarked on an extensive process to review the current model of providing sanitation throughout the spectrum of service provision under the mandate of the organization.

“A second and equally important issue that has become overdue and need to be urgently addressed is the ever increasing shortage of water in the central areas of Namibia.

This situation is seriously straining development and impacting on the ability of the City of Windhoek to expand service delivery to all residents.

The Namibian Government should realise the challenge posed by this and ensure that this is resolved sooner rather than later,” he said.

Meanwhile, countries in Southern Africa like Namibia still have a chance to deliver on renewed promises following the adoption by the world leaders of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015.

This agenda includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. The SDGs are built on the MDGs that ended last year. And the universal access to clean drinking water and sanitation is one Sustainable Development Goals.

However it is going to be costly to achieve universal access to water and sanitation by 2030, according to Jean-Philippe Bayon, the coordinator for the UNDP-Global Water Solidarity. In blog post on the UNDP official website, Bayon noted US$ 27 billion are needed annually to provide clean water and sanitation by 2030. He said official development assistance (ODA) may covers approximately one third of the target but 17 billion are still missing.

He believes that local and regional authorities like the City of Windhoek, “can contribute to filling the endemic resource gap that cripples water interventions.

I believe local to local cooperation is an important part of the solution but to make it fully effective we need to improve its modus operandi”. (reporter by Lahja Nashuuta)