This week in the Great Lakes: Rwanda expands beyond gorilla tourism

A roundup of this week's news from Africa's Great Lakes region, from Rwanda's shift to English language education and Uganda's missing journalist to allegations of corruption by Congolese generals in the nation's gold mining industry.

By , Correspondent

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    Guide Damas Habinsauti holds up a barbed wire fence for tourists hiking up to visit the mountain gorillas. Only about 700 mountain gorillas are left in the world and they all live in a small area in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo. Five gorilla groups in the park get visits from tourists for a maximum of one hour a day.
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Welcome to the first of my weekly Great Lakes news roundups, which I'll publish every Friday in conjunction with the Christian Science Monitor's Africa Monitor blog, a daily must-read for what's happening across the continent. If you see important, interesting or downright quirky news, send it my way.

In Rwanda, the shift to English language education has the country looking abroad for teachers. The World Bank gives Rwanda $70 million to reduce the student-teacher ratio, now 63:1. The Dutch consider cutting aid, given this summer’s troublesome news cycle. This after the Dutch, in 2008, froze direct budget support because of Rwandan dealings in Congo – the latest allegations of which the government denies.

On Saturday, Rwanda donated $1 million to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, joining 8 other countries who both give to and receive from the fund. On Sunday, the country inked a $379 million deal with the Global Fund. And tourism may grow beyond gorillas. “We’d like to show people not just the genocide, but Rwanda’s history before colonization, before the genocide,” the head of tourism said.

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Uganda wants more "water tourism," focused on the country's lakes and rivers. The Nile continues to lose whitewater to the controversial Bujagali Dam project, threatening a $1 million rafting tourism industry, thousands of fishing jobs, and the only people I've ever seen willing to swim a rapid holding only a jerry can for about $3.

Al Shabab blanketly threatens all Ugandans. A Ugandan journalist is still missing, likely in government custody. At least three other Ugandan journalists are arrested on extortion charges, in two separate alleged incidents.

In Burundi, the World Bank calls out corruption, urging the country to, uh, not be so corrupt. Reporters Without Borders calls out the country’s nasty media detention practices. Local human rights activists succeeded in their call for an investigation into the murders of 22 people in recent months, apparently of members of an ex-rebel group and supporters of the president’s political opponents. In response, the government threatens to shut down the group. The army clashes with an unnamed "gang" in the west, killing a student.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is worried about polio, following an outbreak in its northwestern neighbor, the Republic of Congo. Evidence of yet more rape emerges along the DRC-Angolan border, which 7,000 people have crossed in two months.

A BBC investigation suggests that a top general in the Congolese army is profiting from a gold mine (which continues to operate, despite a recent national ban on mining, “under direct military control”). The minister of mines, under investigation in France for his alleged role in a massacre in the 1990s, visits Australia. A Canadian NGO launches a class-action lawsuit against Montreal-based Anvil Mining for “providing logistical assistance” to human rights abuses including a 2004 massacre.

Proving perhaps that Congo is more than rape and pillage, Reuters cribs a Radio Okapi broadcast about 40 people who died after a bush taxi – big trucks stacked sky-high with beans, maize and other produce, and then topped with a several dozen people – overturned near Lubambashi.

Around the region, fashion models pilot their conviction that in addition to being pretty, they know a thing or two about the provision of public goods. Tyra Banks donates a dress to electricity.

Jina Moore is a freelance journalist who blogs from Kigali, Rwanda at jinamoore.com.

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