Seychelles’ Island Conservation Society opens conservation centre on Astove Atoll

The Island Conservation Society (ICS) - a non-profit organisation in Seychelles - has extended its conservation presence in the Aldabra group of islands with the opening of a new conservation centre on Astove, which the sixth one among others based on various islands in the archipelago.

In a press communique last week, ICS, which was set up in April 2000, said that the centre will also extend its work on the atoll of Cosmoledo where a sooty tern census is expected to be held later this month.

The new centre is located on Astove Atoll located over 1,000km southwest of the main island of Mahe. The atoll is part of the Aldabra Group, which also includes Assomption Island.

The ICS conservation officer on Astove, Jake Letori, said that opening the centre is easier said than done.

"The remoteness of the atolls with few transport options makes it logistically difficult and time-consuming to deliver equipment to the staff, especially in the southeast monsoon, making it challenging for the team," he explained.

ICS said that the opening of the new Astove Conservation Centre highlights the start of the long-term presence of ICS on the raised coral atolls which host exceptional marine and terrestrial flora and fauna. The atoll is the most important unprotected biodiversity hotspot in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.

The current main conservation priorities involve undertaking habitat assessments and removal of invasive alien species (IAS) such as cats. This will allow the reintroduction of land bird species from neighbouring Aldabra Atoll. The removal of invasive vegetation will also help to increase habitat sites for seabirds.

The new centre will also facilitate the annual sooty tern census on Cosmoledo, a task which will provide an updated estimate of the breeding population on the atoll. During the census, other seabirds will be monitored including the only breeding population of brown boobies in Seychelles, alongside red-footed boobies.

A small number of great frigatebirds and red-tailed tropicbirds also choose to nest on Cosmoledo and on rat and cat-free islands.

The director of conservation and science, Gregory Berke, said that although Astove and Cosmoledo do not fall under the same protection as Aldabra, ICS aims to conserve and monitor their unique wildlife populations and restore habitats to their natural state.

"This marks the beginning of a very long mission and while it may take some time before the centres are fully operational, it is a historic step in the right direction for conservation," he added.

Berke said that with so much to discover, a lot will be gained to benefit Seychelles and further global communities, and "throughout the journey, ICS will continue to share with you its progress and the extraordinary natural beauty that both atolls have to offer."

With the presence of ICS and the support of the Islands Development Company (IDC), which is a state-owned entity, and the tourism company Blue Safari Seychelles, it is hoped that illegal fishing activities which have been a cause of concern in the area will be reduced.

In the future, ICS is aiming to expand its programmes on Astove and Cosmoledo to include monitoring of marine biodiversity including sharks.

Source: Seychelles News Agency

Easier connection: Air Seychelles and Qatar Airways sign codeshare agreement

Air Seychelles has confirmed that the airline has signed a codeshare agreement with Qatar Airways but no other information was provided.

According to an article in the Gulf Times on Monday, Qatar Airways has announced a codeshare agreement with Air Seychelles, the flag carrier of the Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.

Through the new codeshare agreement, Qatar Airways will place its code on Air Seychelles' operated flights between Mahe, the main island, and Praslin, the second most populated island. This will enable passengers to continue their journey using a single booking.

The article indicated that this agreement will allow passengers on both networks seamless travel to one of the world's most exotic and unique destinations.

The Air Seychelles acting chief executive, Captain Sandy Benoiton, said: "This new partnership will provide passengers with new connection opportunities and access to unique destinations from both networks," said the article.

Through the agreement, travellers from over 160 worldwide destinations, where Qatar Airways operate, will be able to connect to Seychelles through the International Airport, in Doha.

According to the Gulf Times, in a press release from the airline, Qatar Airways group chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, said, "Our strategy of facilitating connectivity to African markets through partnerships is in line with this enhanced cooperation with Air Seychelles. Our two airlines are pleased to work together to benefit passengers with more travel choices and to support the tourism industry in Seychelles."

The agreement comes after Seychelles' transport minister, Antony Derjacques, signed a cooperation agreement with Qatar Airways last year. The agreement was signed in the margins of the 41st International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Assembly in Montreal, which took place from September 27 to October 7.

Derjacques said that the agreement with Qatar "will enhance cooperation between the two countries, especially where it concerns technical and training for civil aviation staff."

Source: Seychelles News Agency

World’s Top 50 Best Beaches: Seychelles’ Anse Source D’Argent takes 2nd place

Seychelles' Anse Source D'Argent on La Digue island claimed second place on the World's Top 50 Best Beaches list for 2023, said Tourism Seychelles - the marketing arm of the tourism department - on Wednesday.

Presented by Banana Boat, the World's 50 Best Beaches list, is the result of a collaborative effort that gathered votes from over 750 esteemed travel influencers and professionals.

Anse Source D'Agent is located in the southwest of La Digue – the third most populated island of Seychelles. The beach has crystal clear wavelets lapping rhythmically on shimmering white sands, shaded in parts from the sun by dramatic granite boulders and leafy green coconut trees.

Topping the list was Lucky Bay in Australia and in third place Hidden Beach in the Philippines.

The rankings for the beaches were based on several criteria, such as untouched natural beauty, remoteness, how swimmable it is, annual days of sunshine and average annual temperature.

Tourism Seychelles said that the inclusion of Seychelles' beaches on the World's 50 Best Beaches list stands as a testament to their natural beauty and captivating landscapes.

"Anse Source D'Argent is renowned as one of the world's most photographed coastlines and captivates visitors with its golden sand, turquoise waters, and majestic granite boulders. With impressive days of sunshine each year, this beach sets the stage for an idyllic beach experience," added Tourism Seychelles.

The popular beach has topped rankings several times. In 2019, it was ranked number one on Africa's Top 50 Beaches.

Another beach from Seychelles, Anse Lazio, on Praslin Island was ranked 29th.

Anse Lazio is located on the northwest coast of Praslin Island, the second most important island of Seychelles. The beach may feel like it is quite removed from the world but is easily accessible by foot, car, or boat.

Tourism Seychelles said that "celebrated as one of the finest beaches globally, Anse Lazio features a wide stretch of soft white sand framed by granite rocks at both ends. Its calm, crystal-clear waters and gentle slope make it an ideal setting for swimming and snorkelling."

"This recognition further solidifies Seychelles' position as a must-visit destination for beach lovers worldwide, offering a truly extraordinary experience," it added.

Source: Seychelles News Agency

Pistachio harvest estimated at 1,100 tonnes in Kasserine

The pistachio harvest for the 2022-2023 agricultural season is estimated at 1,100 tonnes, compared to 950 tonnes the previous season, according to the Directorate of Crop Production within the Regional Authority for Agricultural Development in Kasserine. The harvest is "good" despite the climatic challenges and the scarce rainfall recorded this year, Head of the Crop Production Directorate Omar Saadaoui told TAP, underlining that the pistachio production sector is one of the agricultural sectors that best adapts to the drought and difficult climatic conditions. Saadaoui further indicated that a programme to develop the pistachio plantation in the region is under study worth TND 240 million, including the plantation of new areas and the support of producers in improving the product and its marketing.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Sousse: Regional Day of Startups

The activities of the Regional Day of startups organised by the Agency for the Promotion of Industry and Innovation (API), started on Wednesday in Sousse, in the presence of a large number of young entrepreneurs and representatives of regional authorities and support and financing structures. In a statement to TAP on the sidelines of this event, API Director Omar Bouzouada said that the event is part of the implementation of state policy in supporting private investment and encouraging the creation and development of businesses. The Day also aims to raise awareness of the support mechanisms and accompaniment to innovative project holders, as well as funding and information programmes for companies in their various stages of implementation, said Bouzouada. On the agenda for the day is a round table on areas of cooperation between small and medium-sized enterprises and startups, aiming to improve Tunisian companies' competitiveness. The aim was also to raise awareness of the incentives and financial privileges granted by the State to young promoters, and the opportunity to get closer to their concerns, including the need to simplify administrative procedures and facilitate the financing of entrepreneurship.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Tunisia takes delivery of school conveyances from Italy as part of cooperation to help combat school dropout

Tunisia took delivery of a set of school conveyances during a ceremony held on Wednesday at the Education Ministry's depot in Megrine (Ben Arous governorate), as part of the Tunisian-Italian bilateral cooperation to combat school dropout. The ceremony was attended by Education Minister Mohamed Ali Boughdiri and Italian Ambassador to Tunisia Fabrizio Saggio. Boughdiri underlined on this occasion, the importance of this aid which will be distributed to the various governorates. The aid consists in 95 buses for school transport, 13 trucks for the transport of meals to school restaurants, 3 mobile units for the maintenance of vehicles, and 60 tractors equipped with tanks for water storage. The total cost of this aid estimated at nearly TND 33 million, is offered in the form of preferential credit (without interest), in order to support the education sector in Tunisia, the minister specified. The Italian ambassador expressed for his part, his country's willingness to increase its support to Tunisia in several sectors, notably education and sports. He proposed on this occasion a support to teach the Italian language in high schools and schools through the organisation of Italian study days, the creation of clubs facilitating the learning of the Italian language for young people, in addition to the organisation of football matches between Tunisian and Italian educational institutions. The education sector is a priority for Tunisian-Italian cooperation, he added. A budget of pound 17 million has been mobilised to support the education sector and fight against school dropout, the creation of companies, the support of young people and women as well as people with special needs in order to integrate them into the labour market, the ambassador said.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

“Most of undocumented migrants in Tunisia have entered legally, but have overstayed,” says IOM’s Pace

"Most of the undocumented migrants in Tunisia have entered legally but have overstayed," said International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Deputy Chief of Mission and Senior Regional Project Manager in Tunisia Paola Pace. There are approximately 60,000 migrants in Tunisia, between 10 and 15% are in an irregular situation, she told TAP on the sidelines of an event organised at the Convention Centre in Tunis on the celebration of the Africa Day. "To this end, the IOM is endeavouring in partnership with Tunisia to guarantee the rights of migrants and ensure their protection," she pointed out. Several programmes are implemented in partnership with Tunisia to make migration a choice for young people and not a necessity, the official underlined. The second chance school and the promotion of vocational training for young people are among these programmes, she added. "Tunisia also has a large expatriate population around the world and we are seeking to encourage them to invest in their country and in their regions of origin in order to contribute to local development and create jobs," she said. "On the other hand, for migrants living in Tunisia, we are endeavouring to guarantee their rights while helping them to contribute to the development of the host country," said Paola Pace. Taking the floor, Director of IOM's Special Liaison Office to the AU and of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Addis Abbaba Mariama Mohamed Cisse called on governments and opinion leaders to exert efforts and play an important role in creating an integrated and resilient Africa that recognises and respects human rights and justice for all. In a recorded intervention broadcast during the event, Cisse regretted that so far the African Union Free Movement of Persons protocol has only been ratified by 4 countries since its adoption in 2018. The 2020 Africa Migration Report estimated that 3% of the African population lives outside their country of origin and about 21 million Africans live in another African country, she said, pointing out that since 2010 inter-African migration has increased by over 43.6% compared to 26% for Africa-Europe migration. "Migration and movement in Africa should be considered as part of a positive phenomenon to harness economic integration," she indicated. "In fact, the free movement of people, capital, goods and services will facilitate access to employment and education and improve the quality of the population's life and the workers' living conditions," she added. On the occasion of the Africa Day, celebrated on May 25 in commemoration of the OAU/AU treaties of May 25, 1963, marking the creation of the Organisation of African Unity, cultural and scientific activities are organised at the Convention Centre in Tunis.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Kairouan, Tunis and Sfax to host “Forsa Street” event

The German-Tunisian Centre for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration is organising the "Forsa Street" event in Kairouan, Tunis and Sfax governorates. This event will be organised in Kairouan on May 26-27, in Tunis (June 9-10) and Sfax (June 21-22). It aims to raise awareness about the services provided to young people by the Tunisian State and its partners in the fields of training, employment and leadership, whether in Tunisia or abroad.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

China: a scammer steals 570,000 euros thanks to… artificial intelligence

A scammer in China has used artificial intelligence to alter his appearance and pose as the friend of a businessman from whom he cheated more than half a million euros , authorities said.

The victim, whose last name only was given, Mr. Guo, says he received a video call in April from someone whose face and voice sounded unmistakably like that of a relative.

But the person in front was in fact a scammer "using artificial intelligence technology to modify his face", according to an article published Monday by a media linked to the authorities of Fuzhou (east).

As a pretext, the scammer claimed that another friend urgently needed money to pay the security deposit for a tender.

He thus succeeded in convincing Mr. Guo to transfer 4.3 million yuan (570,000 euros) from his company's bank account.

“During the video call, I was sure I recognized the face and voice of the person calling me, so I was not suspicious,” the businessman said, quoted in the article.

After the transfer, Mr. Guo sent a message to the friend whose identity had been impersonated.

Faced with the reaction of incomprehension from his friend, who was obviously not aware of the transaction, the businessman realized his mistake and contacted the police.

The latter ordered the bank not to make the transfer and Mr. Guo was able to recover 3.4 million yuan (450,000 euros), according to the article.

The perpetrators of the scam have not been identified.

The use of artificial intelligence, sometimes for malicious purposes, has received increased attention around the world, especially since the American company OpenAI launched ChatGPT, a conversational robot that can imitate the human voice, in November.

The interface is not accessible in China. But ChatGPT is the subject of countless discussions on social networks and Chinese tech giants are vying to design equivalent tools.

In January, the country tightened the framework for deepfake, these digital manipulations of increasingly realistic images and which present a challenge in the fight against disinformation.

Authorities will also impose a "security inspection" on Chinese-made AI-powered tools like ChatGPT, according to draft regulations unveiled last month.

Source: Burkina Information Agency

Bazèga: The municipality of Kombissiri committed against insalubrity

The municipality of Kombissiri, in collaboration with its partners, launched on Monday, May 22, 2023 in Kombissiri, the 4th edition of the municipal sanitation week to clean up the city, through cleaning and cleaning actions. 'waste disposal.

It was in the presence of the administrative, customary and religious authorities, the population and partners that the starting signal for the 4th edition of the Communal Sanitation Week (SCA) in the commune of Kombissiri was given.

The objective targeted through the organization of this activity, according to the 2nd vice-president of the Kombissiri special delegation, Séni Compaoré aims to strengthen consultation between the authorities and the citizens for a participatory and community management of solid waste from the city.

Mr. Compaoré clarified that the level of sanitation of public spaces, wild heaps as well as social mobilization around the management of solid waste is not good, according to the inventory.

According to him, this situation has led the municipal authorities to implement information, education and communication activities, including the municipal sanitation week scheduled for May 22 to 30, 2023.

The conduct of this activity, which will be done with the support and involvement of the population, will make it possible to rid the city of Kombissiri of solid waste, through the cleaning of public places and streets.

Instead of June 2 where the launching ceremony took place, the city authorities gave the starting signal for the 4th edition of the SCA 2023 under the theme: ‹‹ Cleanliness and social cohesion in the commune of Kombissiri : contribution of the living forces››.

The Secretary General (SG) of the province of Bazèga, Wossolème Clarisse Denni, who chaired the ceremony, invited the entire population to fully adhere to the municipality's solid waste management policy.

She specified that the population must work in synergy of actions with the associations in charge of the pre-collection and adopt civic behaviors to make the city clean and pleasant to see.

Source: Burkina Information Agency