Scientists map genetic diversity of sub-Saharan Africa

Scientists have made the most comprehensive map yet of African genetic variation and say it should help them learn more about the role genes play in diseases such as malaria, haemorrhagic fever and hypertension in populations there. Publishing the findings in the journal Nature on Wednesday, Deepti Gurdasani of Britain’s Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said that despite Africa being the world’s most genetically diverse region, relatively little is known about potential genetic risks for disease among its populations.
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New airliner landing approach technique to save SAA fuel and time


South African Airways (SAA) announced on Friday that it was implementing an innovative technique to ensure more efficient and more rapid landings at airports. The technique, designated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation as the Required Navigational Performance-Authorisation Required (RNP-AR), is operational at Cape Town International Airport.

An appropriately equipped aircraft, with flight crew trained in the technique, can make more direct and curving automatic approaches to (and also departures from) airports with air traffic controllers who have also been trained to use it. Previously, instrument approaches to airports required the aircraft to make dog-leg approaches with straight flight segments between the turns.

Thus, RNP-AR reduces the time taken by an airliner to land and cuts the distance flown in the vicinity of the airport. This, in turn, reduces fuel expenditure and engine emissions. “Research conducted by French company Airbus ProSky showed potential savings of over 690 t of fuel and a reduction of some 230 hours of flight time per year, based on an average saving of 100 kg of fuel per approach and a reduction of two minutes flying time for each approach,” reported SAA Senior First Officer (and project manager) Andrew Smit.
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Apply Now for $5 Million in GSMA mWASH Grants


Currently 10% of the world’s population does not have access to ‘improved’ water resources, nearly 20% are without access to energy, and almost 35% lack access to improved sanitation.

These gaps are due to challenges such as last mile distribution, operation and maintenance capabilities and costs, and payment ability and collection. Furthermore, increasing urbanisation, ageing infrastructure, and lack of investment are resulting in millions of people, who are considered to have access, living with increasingly less reliable services.

The GSMA’s Mobile for Development Utilities programme is focused on looking at how mobile technology can be used to facilitate access to affordable and reliable energy, water and sanitation, which are vital for health and wellbeing, and can also help reduce poverty and drive economic growth.

A lack of access to such services often disproportionately impacts the economic opportunities, health and safety of girls and women. M4D Utilities seeks to identify and support innovative mobile-enabled solutions that will improve the lives of many, but especially this group of society.

To combat this issue, the GSMA Mobile for Development Utilities programme is proud to announce a $5 million Innovation Fund, supported by DFID, to:

  • Accelerate efforts using mobile technology to enable improved or increased access to energy, water and/or sanitation services for underserved communities
  • Identify innovative business models that can support mobile innovations for energy, water and sanitation services
  • Generate knowledge about the application of mobile enabled services which can be shared with the development community and mobile industry
  • Stimulate productive partnerships between mobile operators/tower companies and energy providers, water providers, sanitation service providers, utilities, NGOs, entrepreneurs and academics to achieve these objectives at scale

Sounds cool, eh? Then be quick to apply to the two stage application process. Concept notes due December 7th, 2014

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International molecular symposium to promote research commercialisation

The seventh International Symposium on Macro- and Supramolecular Architectures and Materials (MAM) will reinvigorate the link between academia, industry and international partners to stimulate the application of local research and growth of the economy, says science council Mintek Research and Development GM Dr Makhapa Makhafola. The symposium will be held from November 23 to 27 at Emperor’s Palace, in Kempton Park. It will showcase how to move from research and breakthroughs to innovation and commercialisation, with speakers who have established spinoff companies from research conveying their experiences.
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Life skills training for engineering students a success

According to professional services firm SMEC South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal-based office, its workplace integrated learning and training initiative for civil engineering students from previously disadvantaged communities – the life skills training programme that has been incorporated into the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Singakwenza Ndawonye training scheme run on the Pietermaritzburg Campus in KwaZulu-Natal – is yielding positive results. SMEC KwaZulu-Natal regional head Kresen Manicum tells Engineering News that the company started working with the Singakwenza Ndawonye training scheme in 2003, by offering several final year engineering DUT students an opportunity to complete their in-service training to meet their diploma requirements.
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