Africa Monitor | Volume VI; Issue XXXVI | World Bank cautions against infrastructure projects

     World Bank, infrastructure projects, borrowed funds, ORF
    Courtesy: World Bank

    The Continent

    World Bank cautions against infrastructure projects with borrowed funds

    The Africa Pulse Report 2017 by the World Bank has cautioned sub-Saharan governments against the risk of developing huge infrastructural projects using borrowed funds, and instead called for institutional reforms that could attract private sector capital. World Bank chief economist for Africa Albert Zeufack and the Bank’s lead economist Punam Chuhan-Pole said sub-Saharan countries have to undertake the much-needed development spending while avoiding increasing debt to unsustainable levels.

    “When you read the Pulse, you realise that reforms that increase government efficiency include procurement; and procurement in the infrastructural sector is one of the evidence where corruption is actually widespread,” Zeufack told journalists in a televised video conferencing from Washington DC. Chuhan-Pole added: “The gap in infrastructure is just so huge… The impact of public investment on economic growth can be improved if countries implement policies that make investment more efficient.”

    Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is set to rebound in 2017 after registering the worst decline in more than two decades in 2016, according to the World Bank report. Overall, the report calls for reforms to improve private sector growth and develop local capital markets. Other reforms that the economists noted are in the areas of fiscal discipline. Donors remain keen on how recipient countries spend money, assessing how aid affects government spending, tax revenue and domestic borrowing. “When countries are increasing fiscal adjustment, they need to limit wasteful expenditure and increase revenues… Countries could actually emphasise on taxing land speculation in capital cities than increasing revenue using consumption-related taxation [Value added tax on commodities],” said Zeufack.

    Last year, the World Bank withdrew funding for the construction of key road projects in the oil sub-region and eastern Uganda. BoU says aid inflows have an effect on public spending. The country’s external debt has grown rapidly, according to experts. As of October, the debt levels were estimated at $10bn, according to information from Bank of Uganda. Uganda’s public debt has risen by 12.7 per cent from 25.9 per cent of GDP in 2012/13 to 38.6 per cent in 2016/17. It is projected to rise to 45 per cent by 2020.

    According to the 2017/18 financial year budget proposals, at least 12 per cent of the budget will be diverted towards servicing debt. Fitch, an international credit rating agency, said last year the debt-to-GDP ration for the region was shooting up to unprecedented levels. According to the Pulse report, seven African countries including Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Mali, Cote d’lvoire and Ethiopia continue to exhibit economic resilience, with annual growth rate above 5.4 per cent in 2016/17 supported by domestic demand.

    The report indicates that the global outlook is improving and should support the recovery of a number of sub-Saharan African countries. It shows that the continent’s aggregate growth is expected to rise to 3.2 per cent in 2018 and 3.5 per cent in 2019, reflecting the recovery in the largest economies. The report warns of risks that could hamper this growth. The report points to the slow pace in reforms, rising security threats, and political volatility in some countries heading for elections, as some of the issues that could hurt growth prospects. “As countries move towards fiscal adjustment, we need to protect the right conditions for investment so that sub-Saharan African countries achieve a more robust recovery,” Zeufact said.

    Source: The Observer (Kampala)

    US Congress rejects Trump’s aid cuts to Africa

    The US Congress is expected to vote soon in support of a budget deal that preserves most Africa assistance programmes and provides nearly $1 billion to respond to current and threatened famines. The pending agreement announced on May 1 rejects many of the aid cuts sought by Republican President Donald Trump. That outcome results from the unwillingness of key Republicans in Congress to slash funding for the State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAid).

    The most ardent congressional supporters of Mr Trump’s proposed cuts were sidelined as a result of Republican leaders’ decision to seek compromises with the Democratic Party minority. President Trump thus suffered a significant setback for his effort to “put American first” at the expense of poor countries. But the president has nevertheless said he will accept Congress’ version of the federal government spending plan.

    The Republican-Democratic deal applies to the US budget for the 2017 fiscal year that ends on September 30. Mr Trump is vowing to push again for steep reductions in State Department and USAid allocations for fiscal 2018. Backers of continued US assistance to Africa are praising the agreement reached by Republican and Democratic negotiators.

    “The funding for the State Department and USAid demonstrates strong bipartisan support as negotiations move forward on next year’s budget, particularly as proposals surface that would pull America back from the world,” declared Liz Schrayer, head of the US Global Leadership Coalition. That group represents some 500 businesses and NGOs that call for diplomacy and development to be given as much priority as US military initiatives.

    Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, specifically hailed the commitment to allocate $990 million to alleviate acute food shortages in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen. “With 20 million people on the brink of starvation, there’s no question that this money will save lives,” Ms Lee said.

    The legislation also extends US support for health programmes important to Africa, such as the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Congress also plans to provide $30 million for the African Development Foundation, which Mr Trump had favoured eliminating. But the compromise package does contain some of the funding reductions for international organisations that Mr Trump had targeted.

    No money is to be allocated for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or the Green Climate Fund. And the United Nations is facing a $640 million cut in Washington’s $10 billion share of the UN budget. The proposal prohibits any US spending for implementation of the UN Arms Trade Treaty. Kenya played a leading role in fashioning that international agreement, which is opposed by the US gun lobby. Congress appears willing to give Mr Trump about half of the $54 billion increase in US military spending that he had urged. The Pentagon’s $521 billion budget would grow by five percent under the terms of the compromise reached by Congress.

    Source: Daily Nation

    Ugandan President meets UK PM over South Sudan, Somalia

    Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has met United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May at the sidelines of the International Conference on Somalia currently taking place at Lancaster House in London. According to a statement issued by Ms Lindah Nabusayi, the presidential press secretary, the bilateral meeting between the two leaders focused mainly on the situation in Somalia and the conflict in South Sudan, which has generated close to a million refugees making it the second-largest refugee-hosting country in the world after Turkey.

    The international conference on Somalia opens on May 11 in London and is organised under the auspices of the UK and the United Nations as part of efforts to put Somalia back on track. The conference has brought together Heads of State and Government from across East Africa and other key partners, along with senior figures from international organisations.

    Source: The Monitor

    Central Africa

    ‘Smart Rwanda’ initiative gets a boost from Japanese agency

     Smart Rwanda, ICT, ORF, Africa
    Source: Rwanda Government/Flickr

    The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has pledged more support to Rwanda’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector as the country moves toward a digital economy. According to Toda Takao, JICA’s vice president in charge of human security and global health, the aim is to offer Rwanda full-scale technical support to implement Smart Rwanda master plan.

    Under the new smart Rwanda master plan, government wants to focus on digitising the economy and positioning ICT as one of the key pillars of the country. The initiative, dubbed “SMART Rwanda,” is aligned with the government’s national development strategy and ICT Sector Strategic Plan to create an information-rich and knowledge-based economy and society by 2018.

    Takao added that Japan will continue supporting this cause through JICA to make Rwanda more competitive on the global scale. “It is important that we support Rwanda’s innovative eco system to help create a conducive business environment that will help attract more investors into the country,” Takao who is currently in the country for the Transform Africa summit told The New Times on May 11. “A knowledge-based economy will require cutting edge innovative products that can be competitive in regional and global markets,” he said adding that JICA’s cooperation framework will continue to focus on priority areas including agriculture, infrastructure, energy and regional integration, among others.

    Last year, the Private Sector Federation (PSF), through its ICT Chamber, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Japan’s Kobe Institute of Computing (KIC), a prominent private graduate school of Information Technology, to support Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.

    e hitech lab fuses design and production through the use of computer-aided design and manufacturing ability with help of three-dimensional modeling software. The software allows designers to produce material digitally.

    According to Rwanda’s ICT Sector Profile – 2015, as of December 2015, 33.5 per cent of Rwandans had access to internet and 77.8 per cent had mobile phones with mobile money subscribers reaching 7,663,199. More than 500 ICT experts are currently in the country for the Transform Africa summit to discuss strategies on how best economies in Africa can leverage on ICT to become competitive.

    Source: The New Times

    In Angola, diamond sale yields over 250 million US dollars

    At least USD 250.4 million were collected for the coffers of the states, with the selling of 2.1 million carats of diamonds during the first quarter of this year. According to data compiled by ANGOP on the basis of diamond sales reports, published by the Ministry of Finance, during the same period, 4.1 billion kwanzas were also collected from the state coffers through the industrial tax and Royalties payment.

    The average amount paid for each diamond carat was USD 113.43 (January), USD 111.87 (February) and USD 123 (March). Compared with the same period of 2016, sales of 25,992 carats of diamonds were reduced, since 2.1 million carats were sold in that period. In terms of revenue collection for the state coffers, a reduction of USD 33 million andUSD 617,862 was also noted.

    Source: Angola Press

    Ebola outbreak in DRC, three dead

    An Ebola outbreak has been declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after one person who died of hemorrhagic fever tested positive for the virus. Two others may have also died from the disease. The case was confirmed following tests on nine people who came down with hemorrhagic fever in Bas-Uele province, in the northeast of the country, in late April, according to a statement from the country’s health ministry.

    Dr Allarangar Yokouide, WHO’s representative in Congo, said the first teams of specialists should arrive in the affected area of Likati on May 13. The zone is some 1,300km from the capital, Kinshasa. Out of the nine cases, three people have since died, including one who tested positive for Ebola, according to WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier.

    “We need to take this very seriously,” Lindmeier told Al Jazeera on May 12. “It’s very important to find all the possible contacts of people who have been infected, who has been in contact, and see whether there is a possible continuation of infection and limit it as much as possible.” Without preventive measures, the virus can spread quickly between people and is fatal in up to 90 percent of cases. There is no specific treatment for the disease.

    The last outbreak of Ebola in the DRC in 2014 killed at least 42 people. The country has been hit by Ebola about nine times in all. “This is not the first outbreak for the DRC so its health system has experience in dealing with it,” Lindmeier said. Ebola killed more than 11,300 people and infected some 28,600 from 2013 as it swept through the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia and caused alarm around the world. “Our country must confront an outbreak of the Ebola virus that constitutes a public health crisis of international significance,” the health ministry said.

    The WHO’s Congo spokesman, Eugene Kabambi, said, “It is in a very remote zone, very forested, so we are a little lucky. We always take this very seriously.” The new cluster of Ebola cases will again test one of the world’s least equipped health systems. The US Agency for International Development has said an estimated 70 percent of the population has little or no access to healthcare.

    In June 2016, WHO declared Liberia free of active Ebola virus transmission. Liberia was the last country still fighting the world’s worst outbreak of the disease. A major trial last year showed a prototype vaccine to be “very effective” against the deadly Ebola virus, according to WHO, which co-funded the study. The GAVI global vaccine alliance said some 300,000 emergency doses of an Ebola vaccine developed by Merck could be available in case of a large-scale outbreak. The vaccine, known as rVSV-ZEBOV, was shown to be highly protective against Ebola in clinical trials published last December.

    Source: Al Jazeera (Doha)

    North Africa

    Algeria donates to flood victims in Zimbabwe

    Algeria has donated $100 000 towards assisting victims of floods which hit Zimbabwe. The floods affected mostly low-lying areas like Tsholotsho in Matabeleland North and the southern parts of the country. Speaking after receiving the donation at his offices in Harare on May 4, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere pledged to put the money to good use. “Your Excellency, your generous donation of $100 000 will be used prudently and every effort will be made that it benefits the most needy or the most exposed to danger,” he said. “It will certainly make a huge difference on their recovery path.”

    Minister Kasukuwere hailed the relationship between Zimbabwe and Algeria that dates back to the days of the liberation struggle. “Algeria has always been there for Zimbabwe, especially during the liberation struggle,” he said. “You have come at the right time when we are in need of financial support to help our brothers and sisters who were greatly affected (by the floods).”

    Algeria’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Nacerdine Sai said the donation was a response to Government’s call for assistance. “As we all know that His Excellency the President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe declared the floods that affected the southern parts of the country a national disaster. “We are responding to that with what we can help with,” he said. “We thought a financial donation would be of more use to the affected people of Zimbabwe.” Mr Sai said his country was keen to further strengthen ties with Zimbabwe.

    Source: The Herald

    Sudan, Algeria agree on bilateral coordination on peace and stability in Libya

    On May 7, the Foreign Minister, Prof. Ibrahim Ghandour met the Minister of Moroccan Affairs, Arab League and African Union in the Algerian Foreign Ministry, Abdul Al-Gader Mosahel in the context of the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Countries Neighboring Libya scheduled to be held on May 8.

    Ghandour told reporters that the meeting touched on the Libyan Issue where the two sides agreed that the unity of Libya requested the unity of its leaderships and people, adding that the Libyan unity, peace and security should be maintained by the Libyans. He underlined that an agreement was reached concerning the political and security coordination between the different concerned circles to realise peace and security in Libya. The Foreign Minister aid the meeting discussed the Sudanese-Algerian bilateral relations, specially, the holding of the joint Ministerial Committee, which the two sides agreed to be held, next July, in Algeria.

    Source: Sudan News Agency (Khartoum)

    African migrants bought and sold openly in ‘slave markets’ in Libya

    Hundreds of migrants along North African migration routes are being bought and sold openly in modern day ‘slave markets’ in Libya, survivors have told the United Nations migration agency, which warned that these reports “can be added to a long list of outrages” in the country. The International Criminal Court is now considering investigating.

    The International Organization for Migration (IOM) had already sounded the alarm after its staff in Niger and Libya documented over the past weekend shocking testimonies of trafficking victims from several African nations, including Nigeria, Ghana and the Gambia. They described ‘slave markets’ tormenting hundreds of young African men bound for Libya.

    Operations Officers with IOM’s office in Niger reported on the rescue of a Senegalese migrant who this week was returning to his home after being held captive for months, IOM had on April 11 reported. According to the young man’s testimony, the UN agency added, while trying to travel north through the Sahara, he arrived in Agadez, Niger, where he was told he would have to pay about 320 dollars to continue North, towards Libya.

    A trafficker provided him with accommodation until the day of his departure, which was to be by pick-up truck, IOM said. But when his pick-up reached Sabha in south-western Libya, the driver insisted that he hadn’t been paid by the trafficker, and that he was transporting the migrants to a parking area where the young man witnessed a slave market taking place. “Sub-Saharan migrants were being sold and bought by Libyans, with the support of Ghanaians and Nigerians who work for them,” IOM Niger staff reported.

    “The latest reports of ‘slave markets’ for migrants can be added to a long list of outrages [in Libya],” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM’s head of operation and emergencies. “The situation is dire. The more IOM engages inside Libya, the more we learn that it is a vale of tears for all too many migrants.” Abdiker added that in recent months IOM staff in Libya had gained access to several detention centres, where they are trying to improve conditions.

    “What we know is that migrants who fall into the hands of smugglers face systematic malnutrition, sexual abuse and even murder. Last year we learned 14 migrants died in a single month in one of those locations, just from disease and malnutrition. We are hearing about mass graves in the desert.” So far this year, he said, the Libyan Coast Guard and others have found 171 bodies washed up on Mediterranean shores, from migrant voyages that foundered off shore. The Coast Guard has also rescued thousands more, he added.

    “Migrants who go to Libya while trying to get to Europe have no idea of the torture archipelago that awaits them just over the border,” said Leonard Doyle, chief IOM spokesperson in Geneva. “There they become commodities to be bought, sold and discarded when they have no more value.” Many describe being sold “in squares or garages” by locals in the South-Western Libyan town of Sabha, or by the drivers who trafficked them across the Sahara desert.

    “To get the message out across Africa about the dangers, we are recording the testimonies of migrants who have suffered and are spreading them across social media and on local FM radio. Tragically, the most credible messengers are migrants returning home with IOM help. Too often they are broken, brutalised and have been abused, often sexually. Their voices carry more weight than anyone else’s,” added Doyle.

    So far, the number of Mediterranean migrant arrivals this year approaches 50,000, with 1,309 deaths, according to the UN migration agency. IOM rose from the ashes of World War Two 65 years ago. In the battle-scarred continent of Europe, no government alone could help survivors who wanted no more than an opportunity to resume their lives in freedom and with dignity. The first incarnation of IOM was created to resettle refugees during this post-war period.

    In view of these reports, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 8 May told the United Nations Security Council that her office is considering launching an investigation into alleged migrant-related crimes in Libya, including human trafficking. “My office continues to collect and analyse information relating to serious and widespread crimes allegedly committed against migrants attempting to transit through Libya,” said Fatou Bensouda during a Security Council meeting on the North African country’s situation.

    “I’m similarly dismayed by credible accounts that Libya has become a marketplace for the trafficking of human beings,” she added, noting that her office “is carefully examining the feasibility” of opening an investigation into migrant-related crimes in Libya should the Court’s jurisdictional requirements be met.

    Source: IPS

    Southern Africa

    Malawi school girls challenge court order punishing them over pregnancies

    Malawi, court order, ORF, Africa
    Photo: Erik Törner/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Fourteen teenage schoolgirls in Malawi on May 2 launched a legal challenge against a controversial court decision to punish them over pregnancies, including jailing some of the girls’ parents. Nyasa Times reported that in April 2016, a primary school in Nkhata Bay on the shores of Lake Malawi gave one-year suspensions to several students aged 13 and 14. The boys who impregnated them were also suspended.

    Magistrate Alexander Gomba heard how 16 boys at Hoho secondary school in Chintheche impregnated the 16 girls just four weeks into the new term. The girls were also referred to a magistrate court which fined each of them K10, 000 ($14). Students who failed to pay were imprisoned, along with their parents, and were freed only after paying the fine.

    The case was brought to court by a child protection NGO, Maranda Child Protection Committee. But the teenage girls are seeking judicial review on the case. “We are asking for a review of the strange orders imposed by a lower court that all pregnant girls be sent to prison,” Victor Gondwe, a lawyer representing the girls and their parents, told AFP. He said it was “quite strange and awkward to criminalise pregnancy.”

    “You don’t get imprisoned for the acts of others,” the lawyer said by telephone from the northern town of Mzuzu, the nearest to Nkhata Bay, where the High Court heard the case. Laws in Malawi, a deeply impoverished country, stipulate that pregnant schoolgirls be suspended from classes for one year. Earlier, the Magistrate had charged the boys who impregnated the girls with defilement as the girls looked younger than 18 years that could have taken them to jail. However, the head teacher John Msowoya told the court that the girls were all 18 years old, saving the boys from going to jail for defilement.

    Source: Nyasa Times

    Namibia President guarantees press freedom

    Namibian President Hage Geingob said on May 10 that as long as he is head of state, press freedom in Namibia is guaranteed. “Let me tell you here that as long as I am given the mandate to lead this great country, the freedom of the press is guaranteed,” Geingob said at the official World Press Freedom Day celebrations in Windhoek.

    While acknowledging that he was proud of Namibia’s number one position in Africa on the World Press Freedom Index rankings of Reporters Without Borders, and the fact that long-established democracies such as France, the United Kingdom and the United States of America were ranked lower, the President said Namibia could even do better. “This is not to say that we are happy with the status quo in our country. Far from it. We want our media to be the freest in the world. We are talking about being number one, not just in Africa, but in the world,” he stated.

    The President acknowledged that with media diversity came new challenges, such as the difficulty to get reliable news, as well as the emergence of the ‘fake news’ phenomenon. He added that in this environment, newspapers have gained new respect as even television newscasters referred to the print media to give credence to their broadcasts.

    According to him, a free press wields great power to effect change. For that reason, media practitioners have an obligation to remember that with great power came great responsibility. “They must guard against becoming lap dogs or attack dogs. They must be the watchdogs,” Geingob stressed.

    This year’s celebrations were held under the theme ‘Critical minds for critical times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies’. Geingob said the theme was appropriate as Namibia remained committed to press freedom and to critical minds, and that government, with media as the ‘fourth estate’, would play its role in building a peaceful, just and inclusive society.

    He added that with the ‘fake news’ phenomenon and the ability of anyone to create news these days, it was crucial for the media to not become corrupted through a lack of accountability and transparency. “Journalists must know that they are accountable for the information they convey to society. When government speaks of introducing checks and balances with regards to the press, we are not calling for our journalists to be muzzled. Rather, we are calling upon our journalists to practise their journalism with a clear conscience, liberated by accountability,” Geingob said.

    The celebratory event was attended by members of the media, European Union and United Nations representatives as well as government officials and diplomats. As part of the programme, veteran journalist and Namibia Media Trust chairperson Gwen Lister interviewed the editor of Swaziland’s The Nation magazine, Bheki Makhubu, on the topic ‘journalism is not a crime’.

    Source: The Namibian

    Zimbabwean Wildlife boss fired after Rhino horns worth three million USD goes missing

    The head of Zimbabwe’s wildlife authority has been fired following the disappearance of rhino horns worth $3 million two years ago, it was reported on May 14. Edson Chidziya was suspended last year on full pay after he was accused of failing to alert the police when it was discovered that the horns were missing in 2015. Now the Sunday Mail is reporting that Chidziya has been fired. Said the paper: “Mr Chidziya was fired for maladministration and abuse of office.”

    A report from the board of Zimbabwe’s Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) quoted by the Sunday Mail said that Chidziya “failed to put in place security and control measures to prevent pilferage of rhino horns”. The authority has a stash of more than 4 000 confiscated rhino horns at its headquarters. Some of them have been in the authority’s custody since 1989, according to official media. There are periodic calls for Zimbabwe to be allowed to sell off its horn. That move is opposed by those who feel it would fuel the trade in the horn, which is used in traditional Asian medicine.

    Zimbabwe has around 800 black and white rhinos in total. They are in danger from poachers, as they are throughout the southern African region. Police spokesperson Charity Charamba told the paper she didn’t know anything about the investigations into Chidziya. Zimparks is now looking for a new director general, according to a job advert placed separately in the Sunday Mail. The recruitment agency acting on behalf of Zimparks says the candidate must be 40 years or older and must have a Masters in conservation or ecology, an MBA and possibly a PhD.

    Source: news24WIRE

    East Africa

    Somali President visits Ethiopia, at last

    Somalia’s new president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, was to visit Ethiopia on May 3 in a much-anticipated meeting aimed at smoothing over decades of mistrust. Farmajo has been criticised for waiting three months before going to Addis Ababa. The Ethiopia trip is by far the most important visit abroad that President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo will make and it is also the most difficult, says Gérard Prunier, a French historian specialising in the Horn of Africa.

    Farmajo has visited five other countries, including Kenya, beforehand. “He didn’t have the guts to go there first,” Prunier told RFI by phone on May 2. “Since it’s going to be a controversial visit with difficult circumstances, difficult dialogue, he probably postponed it until he felt it was absolutely necessary.” Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo beat the odds to become Somalia’s ninth president on 8 February, campaigning on a platform to defeat the Al Shabaab armed group and improve security.

    Yet he almost did not make it to the presidency due to meddling from the Ethiopian government. “The Ethiopian government backed a different candidate, so there was speculation that the new Somali president may actually be hostile to Ethiopia, a regional country with a military presence in Somalia,” Rashid Abdi, Horn of Africa Director at the International Crisis Group in Nairobi told RFI.

    Yet the urgency of Mogadishu’s security concerns leave Farmajo with little choice but to do business with Addis. “Definitely there is a huge security imperative which is how to deal with Al Shabaab,” Abdi says. “Al Shabaab is an existential threat not only to Somalia but to the region. And I think that security cooperation between the two countries will be very central to how they move forward.” Relations though weren’t helped when Ethiopia pulled its troops from Somalia last October.

    Ethiopia National Defense Force (ENDF) units under the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) unilaterally departed from two strategic towns in the Hiraan region of central Somalia, with Addis blaming the EU for failing to sufficiently support Amisom. Since then, the regional force has secured significant gains: driving out Al Shabaab militants from the Somali capital Mogadishu. But the latter remain active in the rural parts of Somalia. “Al Shabaab remains a formidable threat still and clearly there will be expectations of a more robust Amisom push against Al Shabaab,” at the talks, Abdi reckons.

    Source: Radio France Internationale

    Outrage as SFF boss threatens journalists exposing alleged corruption in Somalia

    Somali Federation Football President Abdighani Arab reportedly threatened lives of journalists he claims are unfairly exposing alleged corruption in the organisation According to a tweet by a Mr.Ahmed Gutale who is a manager of a local Mogadishu radio station (Radio Mustaqbal ) manager the threat was issued in a meeting he had with the SFF boss recently.

    Arab had asked for an interview to clear his name following several accusation against him regarding mismanagement and corruption. “Abdiqani started insulting the local media saying they criticise his leadership and even blackmail him. He said that journalists are irresponsible” Gutale said. In the conversation Gutale said that Arab accused journalists of being malicious and being on a witchunt mission.

    According to Gutale Arab mentioned that in the current situation in the country, it got easy to shut down such journalists with as little as $100. According to the radio Arab further went to indicate it was possible to hire a hit squad to deal with journalists criticising him. The threat has been met by outrage on Somalia social media.

    “Abdiqani is accused of corruption and mismanagement that is why he relation with the media is at its worst” Dahir Yaris a Sports analyst told Radio Dalsan . Arab has been in the Admin of SFF in the last 3 years in different positions. Radio Dalsan recently published an analysis of alleged corruption and mismanagement of football in Somalia.

    Source: Dalsan Radio (Mogadishu)

    In Tanzania, workers can appeal in bogus certificates saga

    Civil servants who feel they have been victimised in the verification of academic certificates can appeal, a senior government official told The Citizen on May 2. The Permanent Secretary in the President’s Office (Public Service and Good Governance), Dr Laurian Ndumbaro, said a special task force had been appointed to handle appeals. Complainants had been given until May 15 to lodge appeals, he added.

    The decision is aimed at ensuring justice and fairness in line with rules and principles governing public service and good governance. The announcement came amid reports that the sacking of nearly 10,000 civil servants alleged to have forged academic certificates had started to paralyse public service in some areas. The main post office in Kahama Town, Shinyanga District, remained closed on May 2 after all but one of its staff were put on the “list of shame” published last week.

    President John Magufuli announced the mass sackings in Dodoma on April 28 after receiving a report on the verification of civil servants’ academic and professional qualifications. He said that was the beginning of wider verification that could affect thousands more workers. A day after the dismissals were announced, academics warned of disruptions in public service delivery. They said the government was already facing a shortage of about 50,000 employees in sectors such as health and education, adding that the sackings could worsen the situation.

    On May 2, Dr Ndumbaro said the government had formed a task force to receive and work on appeals, saying the aim was to ensure that no one was victimised during the verification that started last year. He added that vacant positions would be advertised after appeals were determined. The President’s Office (Public Service and Good Governance) is currently implementing Dr Magufuli’s directive that those found to have forged certificates be removed from public service by May 15.

    However, Dr Ndumbaro could not give a breakdown of specific sectors the affected workers came from, saying the number could change after appeals were determined. “We will be in a position to disclose how many people will have been removed and the public service areas they came from after May 15,” he said. Elsewhere, the main post office in Kahama did not open on May 2 because there weren’t enough workers to man it. Reliable sources told The Citizen that all of those who were supposed to report for duty on May 2 stayed away after their names appeared on the list of public workers alleged to have forged academic and professional certificates.

    Source: The Citizen

    Dar extradites Shkuba, allies to US

    Lawyers representing the most wanted drug king, Ally Khatibu Haji, alias Shkuba and two others, were on May 2 caught by surprise upon learning that their clients have already been extradited to United States of America (USA) for trial on drug offences, while the appeal against the extradition was still pending. Advocate Hudson Ndusyepo and Majura Magafu confirmed to the ‘Daily News’ in Dar es Salaam that their clients were handed over by state organs to American authorities on the night of May 1, a move they described as illegal and amount to violation of not only the constitution but also other laws of the land. “The state is aware that there is an appeal which is pending before the High Court, against the extradition order issued recently. This is totally against the constitution and other laws,” advocate Ndusyepo pointed out when reached for comment on the matter. Similar sentiments were issued by Mr Magafu, who did not want to go into details on the matter.

    Shkuba’s wife, identified as Munira, also confirmed the extradition of her husband, when reached for comment saying,” Indeed my husband left the country at around 23.10 pm aboard KLM flight.” The wife also did not want to give more details on the matter, but she was quick to point out that they will meet with other relatives and find out what should be the next course of action, considering already Judge Shaweji has been assigned to hear the appeal against the extradition ruling.

    The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mr Biswalo Mganga, could not comment on the matter when contacted because he was at hospital receiving some treatments. But, various senior police and prison officials, who requested anonymity, broke the news early the morning of May 2. Other suspected drug barons who the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court granted a request for their extradition to USA are Idd Salehe Mfuru and Mr Lwitiko Samson Adam.

    Principal Resident Magistrate Cyprian Mkeha had issued the extradition order after considering a request by the DPP.However, the three suspects had 15 days within which to file an appeal to the High Court in an attempt to challenge the ruling in question. The magistrate, therefore, ordered the suspects to be remanded in custody awaiting consent from the Minister for Constitution and Legal Affairs to let them travel to America. Shkuba (44) is considered one of the most powerful and influential drug barons in Africa. He is said to be the leader of a cartel operating principally in East Africa, but with a reach as far as China, Brazil, Canada, Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom.

    Last year, the US government declared Shkuba among the world’s most notorious drug traffickers who smuggled multi-tonne shipments of heroin and cocaine to Africa, Asia and North America via East Africa-based trafficking organisation. He was in custody since February 2014 in Lindi for allegedly trafficking 210 kilos of heroin worth around 10bn/-; police seized the drugs in Lindi in January 2012 and linked him with the haul. Shkuba reportedly fled to South Africa the same day the drugs were seized and has since been in hiding. He was arrested at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) after a two-year intensive manhunt. The US Department of Justice formally asked the Tanzanian government last month to extradite Shkuba and his cosuspected drug barons, believing that they had smuggled into the country huge quantities of heroin and cocaine.

    Source: Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

    EU woos Tanzania to sign trade deal

    The European Union has invited the government of Tanzania for dialogue over the Economic Partnership Agreement impasse that has threatened to derail the trade pact between the bloc and the East African Community member countries. The head of the EU delegation to Tanzania and the East African Community, Roeland van de Geer, said they were awaiting Dar es Salaam’s position on the matter. “What is important is that we have dialogue,” said Mr Geer during the Europe Day celebrations in the Tanzanian political capital Dodoma last week. “Tanzania has its own convictions, the EU have theirs. Tanzania is a sovereign country and should take its own decisions,” he said, underscoring the importance of the dialogue. Tanzania has not signed the EPA, arguing that the trade agreement in its current form will have negative implications for its industrialisation strategy.

    Talks on the EPA are expected to feature for the East African Heads of State Summit on May 20. Only Kenya and Rwanda have signed and ratified the EPA deal, but being a Single Customs Territory, the other EAC members must sign the pact to make it enforceable. Burundi has also not signed, citing the resumption of EU aid to Bujumbura as a precondition for its signature. Uganda, on the other hand, said it will only sign the EPA if there was consensus among the EAC members. The EU-EAC EPA promises duty and quota-free access to EU markets for East African goods in exchange for a gradual opening up of the region’s markets to European products.

    President John Magufuli, addressing a joint press conference with his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni at State House in Dar es Salaam recently, said that Tanzania was examining EPA, arguing that there was no rush to sign it. President Museveni concurred with his host, insisting that East African countries should first focus on issues of interest to their countries prior to signing. At the gathering, which drew many lawmakers from the European Parliament, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Dr Tulia Ackson said parliaments role on the EPA was to advise the government on how best to deal with the treaty.

    “We have constitutional duty to advise the government on issues of national importance,” she said in her speech, adding that the parliament had advised the government on what was in the country’s interest. “Practically, parliament hasn’t said no to EPA, but there are issues that have been raised and the parliament will want them ironed out before the government makes its decision,” noted the Deputy Speaker. A United Nations think-tank has, however, held reservations over the East African Community entering into an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union arguing that it will neither spur economic growth nor bring wealth to the region’s citizens.

    Source: The East African

    West Africa

    Eight Malian soldiers killed in military convoy ambush

    At least eight Malian soldiers have been killed in an ambush on a military convoy in the country’s west-central region, according to an army spokesman. Armed assailants attacked the troops’ vehicle on May 2 after it hit a mine near the town of Nampala in the restive Segou province. “The provisional toll is eight dead and some people wounded,” army spokesman Colonel Diaran Kone told the Reuters news agency, holding unspecified groups responsible.

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but rebel groups – some linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) – have stepped up a series of attacks in recent months in a campaign against the Malian government and its international allies. Last July, 17 soldiers were killed in an attack on a military base in Nampala, which sits close to the Mauritanian border. The attack was claimed by the Ansar Dine group.

    A similar attack on the garrison town in January 2015 claimed the lives of 11 Malian soldiers. Northern Mali fell to groups linked to AQIM in March 2012. They were driven out of key towns by a French-led military intervention the following year, but have now spread further south. The Mali security forces are struggling to keep security despite the presence of French and United Nations troops.

    Last weekend, the government extended a state of emergency by six months. Three Malian groups with previous al-Qaeda links recently joined forces to create the “Group to Support Islam and Muslims” (GSIM), led by Iyad Ag Ghaly of Ansar Dine, and have already killed soldiers further east near the Burkina Faso border. France said it killed more than 20 fighters hiding in a forest near the border last weekend in an operation that involved both air and ground strikes.

    Source: Al Jazeera (Doha)

    Boko Haram releases 82 Chibok girls in prisoner swap

    Boko Haram militants have released 82 schoolgirls out of a group of more than 200 whom they kidnapped from the northeastern town of Chibok in April 2014 in exchange for prisoners, the presidency said on May 6. Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) helped secure the 82 girls in “lengthy negotiations”, the presidency said on its Twitter account.

    President Muhammadu Buhari will receive the girls on May 7 in the capital Abuja, it said, without saying how many Boko Haram suspects had been exchanged or disclosing other details. A military source said the girls were currently in Banki near the Cameroon border for medical checks before being airlifted to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. From there they will be flown to Abuja.

    The kidnapping was one of the high-profile incidents of Boko Haram’s insurgency in Nigeria’s northeast, now in its eighth year and with little sign of ending. About 220 were abducted from their school in a night-time attack. More than 20 girls were released last October in a deal brokered by the ICRC. Others have escaped or been rescued, but 195 were believed to be still in captivity before this release.

    Mr. Buhari said in April 2017 that the government was in talks to secure the release of the remaining captives. The release of the 82 girls may give a boost to the former military ruler who made crushing the Islamist militant Boko Haram insurgency a key pillar of his election campaign in 2015. He has hardly appeared in public since returning from Britain in March 2017 for treatment of an unspecified sickness.

    Although the Chibok girls are the most high-profile case, Boko Haram has kidnapped thousands of adults and children, many of whose cases have been neglected. The militants have killed more than 20,000 people and displaced more than 2 million during their insurgency aimed at creating an Islamic caliphate in northeast Nigeria.

    Although the Army has retaken much of the territory initially lost to Boko Haram, large parts of the northeast, particularly in Borno State, remain under threat from the militants. Suicide bombings and gun attacks have increased in the region since the end of the rainy season in late 2016.

    Source: The Hindu

    Nigeria seeks foreign investors for smart cities project

    The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, says Nigeria is set to hold a smart cities summit in June as part of efforts by the Federal Government to develop ICT sector in the country. Mr. Shittu disclosed this in an interview the News Agency of Nigeria on the sideline of the Transform Africa Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda, an ICT conference focused on development of smart cities. The minister, who said the plan was to replicate the unparalleled ICT transformation of Rwanda in Nigeria, said the “Smart Cities Nigeria 2017 Summit” was scheduled for June 28 and 29.

    NAN reports that a smart city is an urban development vision to integrate in ICT and Internet of Things (IoT) technology in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets. The initiative aims at leveraging technology solutions to improve efficiency of cities. Rwanda which is spearheading the initiative has rolled out a number of developments such as WiFi in public areas, including public transport vehicles, as well as cashless payment systems in public transport.

    Currently, the initiative is backed by 18 African countries while more nations including Nigeria are expected to join. While explaining further on the Smart Cities Summit, Mr. Shittu said Nigeria was starting late but steadily. “I will say that we have some delays within the government operations we ought to have unleashed some of these ideas in the Nigerian scene more than eight months ago. “In consonance with our desire to pursue all initiative in the ICT transformation including smart cities we have planned a summit.

    “The summit is with the theme ‘Smart Cities Nigeria 2017’ fixed for 28 and 29 of June, this year, is with a view to getting the buy in of stakeholders in the Nigeria projects. “From that point, we will kick off and there would not be any stoppage,” he said. Mr. Shittu said the Smart cities project would provide the opportunity to get a buy in of all stakeholders in the Nigerian project.

    According to him, Nigeria needs the buy-in of all stakeholders especially that of the state governments if the ICT transformation project is to work. “To transform Nigeria using ICT we need the buy-in of all states that must get it right from the onset that ICT is the way to go. “Of course, we would demand the patriotic participation of all states,” he said. He also said that government was seeking foreign investments into the country’s ICT sectors to fast-track the digital transformation agenda in the country.

    The minister said that he had spoken with some foreign investors to that effect.

    Source: Premium Times

    This edition is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi.

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