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Africa

African press review 29 February 2016

media DR

Student clashes in Pretoria and the spending habits of Kenya's new middle class make the African news today. On a brighter note, one newspaper claims solar energy could be the solution to Rwanda's energy needs.

South Africa’s Business Day has been following the student clashes which have brought the university of Pretoria to a standstill.

Violent protests broke out last week over the university's language policy.

Members of the left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters's student wing demanded that Afrikaans be removed from the university as a language of instruction.

In response pro-Afrikaans students formed a chain to stop them from moving through the main campus.

Tensions culminated when students physically clashed, throwing bottles and stones, which led to 24 of them being arrested.

Business Day reports that the country's Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande was holding urgent meetings with the university's vice-chancellor yesterday, as well as with student leaders, to discuss racial tensions on campus.

Meanwhile the university has proposed that English be the primary language of instruction in all lectures, but that Afrikaans could be used as additional support to students in tutorials.

Kenya's Business Daily reports that the country's growing middle class could be spending too much on imported goods.

It says the country’s Parliamentary Budget Office, which advises MPs on economic issues, has warned that the trend is slowing down Kenya’s economy.

Middle-class consumers are not investing in ventures like real estate and enterprises, which it says can drive growth and generate jobs.

Instead they are splashing out on lavish cars, electronic goods and clothing, with a taste for trendy fashion and luxury brands bought in Nairobi.

Business Daily quotes the Budget Office as saying that high consumer spending is likely to mean people are investing less and that this type of consumption is having a negative effect on the economy.

The number of Kenyans classified as middle class has doubled in the last decade to almost a fifth of the population, or 6.5 million, according to the African Development Bank

Business Daily says this has created a new generation of sophisticated consumers exposed to global trends through foreign travel experiences and the internet.

The New Times is running a story on solar energy, which it says will be the next big thing in Rwanda.

As the country seeks to connect 70 per cent of the population to electricity by 2018, investors are looking at alternative ways of providing access across the country.

The New Times spoke to Ignite Power, a company which has signed an agreement with the government to invest over 50 million euros in power generation through solar energy.

The firm says people will be relying on gridless electricity in the years to come and that Africa - and Rwanda especially - could get ahead of other countries in the development of solar technology.

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