Africa Monitor | Vol VI Issue XLIX

     South Africa, Africa, Africa Monitor, Guptagate, November

    Boy whistling in Mpumalanga, South Africa

    Source: Jan Truter

    The Continent

    'Guptagate' hits businesses across Africa, China, India

    The corruption scandal engulfing South Africa's state-owned companies has triggered a ban by one of the world's leading software companies on the payment of commissions on contracts with government agencies in all but five African countries. The ban was announced on October 26 by the German-based multinational, SAP, as part of the clean-up of its business practices arising from the payment of $7.7 million to a company associated with President Jacob Zuma's friends, the Gupta family of Johannesburg.

    SAP said its board will "eliminate sales commissions on all public sector deals in countries with a Corruption Perceptions Index (according to Transparency International) below 50." This rules out commissions on deals in all African countries other than Botswana, Cape Verde, Mauritius, Rwanda and Namibia. It would also stop commission payments in India and China. Apart from Mauritius and Namibia, SAP advertises that it has offices in Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa.

    Last year, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission fined SAP $3.9 million arising out of its business practices in Panama. Reuters reported that the company failed to implement internal controls which would have prevented a bribery scheme by a former sales executive who secured deals with the country's government.

    In July this year, reporters from South African journalism's leading investigative unit, amaBhungane (Zulu for "the dung beetles"), uncovered a "sales commission agreement" signed in 2015 between SAP in South Africa and CAD House, a small Gupta-associated company which sold 3D printers. The agreement provided that SAP would pay a 10 percent commission to CAD House on deals it secured with the massive state-owned company which operates South Africa's railways, ports and fuel pipelines.

     AmaBhungane said SAP claimed CAD House had the requisite skills needed to promote its business but the reporters found no evidence that the Gupta company had any experience marketing or selling SAP software. It emerged from SAP's announcement on October 26 that two days after the amaBhungane report appeared, the company "voluntarily disclosed the situation in its South Africa business" to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), which enforce the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. SAP said the U.S. agencies were still investigating the matter and that it "has committed to full and complete cooperation" with the investigations.

    Source: allafrica                   

    All is set for 2017 conference on land policy in Africa

    In Addis Ababa, all is set for the Land Policy Initiative Centre's (LPIC) second Conference on Land Policy in Africa that seeks to deepen capacity for land policy in Africa through improved access to knowledge and information on land policy development and implementation. The conference will be held under the theme; 'The Africa We Want: Achieving socioeconomic transformation through inclusive and equitable access to land by the youth' and runs from November 14 to 17.

    LPIC Coordinator, Joan Kagwanja, says the theme supports the declaration by the African Union of 2017 as the year of the youth under the broader theme; 'Harnessing Africa's Demographic Dividend through Investment in youth'. "We are ready for the conference, which has been over-subscribed and has become the premier land meeting that no-one wants to miss," said Ms. Kagwanja. "As we always say, land is central to Africa's development and if well- governed and managed, we will sure reduce poverty and inequalities so the conference is important as participants will be looking at how we can use this God-given resource to maximum returns for everyone. So in that regard, the conference is both a policy and learning event."

    The conference, which will be attended by representatives from member States, farmers, parliamentarians, private sector, academia, and civil society, among others, will highlight latest innovations, including research and papers on the land sector in Africa. "We expect the conference to have a catalytic effect on evidence-based land policy development and implementation by creating space for presenting research, and other evidence by Africans and other interested stakeholders," said Ms. Kagwanja.

    Topics participants will discuss include the need to strengthen land governance and administrative institutions both at local and national levels, including the adoption of technology and innovations for securing land rights under different tenure regimes. The empowerment of youth through strengthening their land rights; women's land access rights and gender equality - addressing persisting bottlenecks; inclusive, transparent and sustainable land based investments, economic justice and environmental management or monitoring; migration, radicalization and violent extremism - linkages to youth employment; entrepreneurship and access to land for investment; rapid urbanization, land use and spatial planning policy and development control will also be discussed. The conference will also look at planning, monitoring and evaluation experiences and emerging best practices in developing and implementing land policies on the continent.

    Source: United Nations Economic Commission For Africa (Addis Ababa)

    Central Africa

    Regional Bloc creates six-country visa-free zone

    The Central African Economic and Monetary Community reached a key milestone this week. Heads of state meeting in Chad lifted visa requirements for their citizens traveling within the six-member regional bloc. But challenges remain to ensuring free movement and deepening economic integration. The announcement marked the culmination of 23 years of negotiation. Citizens of Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Central Africa Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon and Chad no longer need visas to travel within the six-member economic bloc.

    Chadian President Idris Deby made the announcement at the CEMAC heads of state summit in Ndjamena. Deby said the people have rightfully been waiting for strong actions that concretely demonstrate that the integration of central Africa is a reality, which is the main reason the Central African Economic and Monetary Community was created. He said everyone who visited Chad this week can testify that they were exempted from visa charges. CEMAC was founded in 1994, but has trailed behind other regional blocs on the continent in lifting visa restrictions.

    Economist Youssouf Saleh, Chad's former prime minister, said for CEMAC, it is better late than never. But he added that the effectiveness of the free movement of goods and people will depend on whether there is also an integrated and competitive economy and whether political divides that have hampered economic activity are broken.

    Last year, the economies of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea took a hit amid the global drop in oil prices. The two countries sealed their borders to stop job-seeking youths flooding into their countries and even began expelling some migrants from other CEMAC countries. Only Chad, Cameroon and Gabon have started issuing the CEMAC biometric passports, despite a January 2014 deadline. Security concerns are also hindering free movement. At Garoua-Boulai on Cameroon's eastern border with the C.A.R., border controls remain with travelers prevented from crossing on both sides.

    Cameroonian Colonel Etienne Detou said they have arrested rebel combatants from the Central African Republic trying to cross disguised as business persons and refugees. He said although there is relative peace on the Cameroon side. But he added it should be noted there are regular incursions by armed groups and highway robbers from Central African Republic. He said the military and the police should be very vigilant and self-defense groups should participate in safeguarding their territory. Cameroon and Chad are also limiting free movement of people at their common border.Both countries have suffered Boko Haram atrocities as well and want to make it harder for the terrorists to penetrate.

    CEMAC Commission President Pierre Moussa said the states are taking measures to address security concerns. He said for the new visa-free policy to be fully effective, the heads of state have authorized the Development Bank of Central African States to pay $2 million as part of the debt they owe the International Police Organization so that they can help secure the borders of CEMAC. Other ambitious plans for CEMAC regional integration are yet to be executed, including plans to create a regional airline and to build roads linking the regional capitals.

    Source: Voice of America

    UN sounds alarm on humanitarian crisis in Kasai, DRC

    An official from the United Nations' World Food Program has issued a warning about the situation in the southwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where conflict has left 3.2 million people severely hungry. In the past year, about 1.4 million residents of Congo’s Kasai region have been displaced by violence that has killed more than 3,000 people and destroyed entire villages, according to Claude Jibidar, who heads the WFP in Congo.

    Jibidar says the situation is comparable to well-known crisis zones like Syria and Yemen. Congo, the massive central African nation, now has the highest burden of displaced people in Africa. “The number of people displaced during that time period is more than Syria, than Yemen, than all the other emergencies that you know of,” he said. “That just tells you about how serious the situation is in the DRC.” The WFP is not the only humanitarian group calling attention to the Kasai region. Medical aid group Doctors Without Borders recently warned of widespread malnutrition among children, with rates of severe acute malnutrition as high as 10 percent in some areas.

    Horrific tales

    The violence began last year after the killing of a tribal leader who defied longtime President Joseph Kabila, whose term officially ended in December 2016. Critics have accused Kabila of being slow to hold fresh elections, in what they say is a bid to cling to power. The Kasai violence quickly spiraled into ethnic clashes, massacres and abuses at the hands of armed groups, including Congo’s army. Jibidar, who visited the area last week, says many residents who had fled into the bush to escape violence emerged with horrific tales to tell.

    “It is the use of machete; it is the systematical use of rape on women; it is really terrible, terrible things,” Jibidar said. “Kasai has been characterized by the beheading of a lot of people. You have heard about the mass graves; it has been a terrible situation. People who are coming out, they are just traumatized. Traumatized.”

    Without significant increases in funding from donor nations, Jibidar says, the agency will run out of food by mid-November. He says the bigger solution to Kasai’s woes is beyond the scope of his U.N. agency. Jibidar noted the DRC government has made progress in restoring peace, along with the U.N. peacekeeping force in Congo. “It is a question of sustained, long-term security and peace,” he said. “That is the first thing. Without peace and security maintained, now it is calm, it has to remain calm. People have to regain confidence and they all have to come out of the bush.”

    Source: Voice of America

    ICC war crimes judges approve Burundi investigation

    Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague approved on November 9 the chief prosecutor's request for a full war crimes investigation in Burundi. The judges found there was "a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation in relation to crimes against humanity" in their decision made on October 25 but not announced publicly until November 9.

    United Nations investigators reported in September there was strong evidence of killings, torture and rape by mainly government forces but also by opposition groups in the land-locked, central African state. The Burundi government had a "duty to cooperate with the court for the purpose of this investigation," the court found, since the probe was approved before Burundi's "withdrawal became effective" from the ICC, the judges said. They added that if "sufficient evidence" was found the prosecutor could "issue either summonses to appear or warrants of arrest."

    The judges ruled that although Burundi had become the first country to leave the ICC, the court still had "jurisdiction over crimes allegedly committed while Burundi was a State party to the ICC Rome Statute. Burundi was a State Party from the moment the Rome Statute entered into effect for Burundi (1 December 2004) until the end of the one-year interval since the notification of Burundi's withdrawal (26 October 2017)."

    Protests and violence

    There have been protests since 2015 after President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a third term. The opposition boycotted the poll. The ICC judges noted that "at least 1,200 persons were allegedly killed, thousands illegally detained, thousands reportedly tortured, and hundreds disappeared. The alleged acts of violence have reportedly resulted in the displacement of 413,490 persons between April 2015 and May 2017."

    Officers with Burundi's National Intelligence Service, which reports directly to the president, the national police force, military and the ruling party's youth league were implicated in the crimes, according to the UN report. Based on interviews with 500 victims and witnesses, the report also suggested Burundi's armed opposition groups had committed rights abuses. The UN investigators had not been allowed to visit Burundi itself and carried out their work from neighboring countries and had called on the ICC to open a case as soon as possible.

    Extending the investigation

    In a response to the decision, Burundi presidential office spokesman Willy Nyamitwe called the ICC "corrupt" in a tweet and said it had just "shot itself in the foot." The Nkurunziza government had dismissed the UN report as part of an "international conspiracy" against the country. The judges ruled that the ICC prosecutor could "extend her investigation to crimes which were committed before 26 April 2015 or continue after 26 October 2017," if certain legal requirements were met.

    The UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi has extended until June 2018 its deadline for the submission of information. It said in September that it had "reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed and continue to be committed in Burundi since April 2015." While opposition groups in Burundi continue to call into question Nkurunziza's legitimacy two years after his re-election, some regional actors and the African Union have shifted their focus on to the 2020 elections. The government itself has proposed a constitutional amendment which would include the removal of term limitations for the president. A referendum on the proposed changes could be held early next year.

    Source: Deutsche Welle

    North Africa

    In Tunisia, suspected Islamist arrested after knife attack near Parliament

    A suspected Islamist militant wounded two policemen with a knife near the parliament in Tunis on November 1 and was later arrested, Tunisia's Interior Ministry said. It was a rare incident in a country that has improved security since deadly attacks in 2015.

    The assailant was known to authorities and said after the attack that he considered the police to be "tyrants," the statement said. One of the policemen was taken to hospital for treatment after being wounded in the neck, while the other was only lightly wounded, it said. "I saw a young man with a thick beard trying to kill a policeman. He put the knife in his neck before he was pursued by a second policeman," a witness told Reuters. "He shouted, 'Allahu Akbar,' ['God is greatest'] as he attacked the policemen."

    The Interior Ministry said the November 1 suspect had confessed that he "adopted Takfiri thought three years ago and believes that killing security forces is a form of jihad." "Takfiri thought" refers to a view that Muslims should proclaim other Muslims to be infidels and justify attacks against them. Large numbers of police were deployed to the Bardo square in the aftermath of the attack, a witness said. Blood could be seen on the ground in the square.

    The square is opposite the parliament building and close to the Bardo museum, where 21 people, mostly European tourists, were killed in an attack by three gunmen in March 2015. A security source told Reuters the attacker was 25 and from Ettadamen, one of the largest, poorest suburbs of Tunis. One of the attacker's neighbors told Reuters that the attacker was the youngest of six brothers and also had a sister "who works in the parliament's administration."

    Colonel Major Khelifa Chibani of Tunisia's national guard named the attacker as Zied Gharbi. Security forces raided his house and confiscated his personal computer and other items, he said. Sofian Sliti, a spokesman for judicial counterterrorism investigations, said that "the attacker planned to join terrorist groups in Libya." As well as the Bardo killings, Tunisia suffered two other major attacks in 2015, one against tourists at the beach resort of Sousse and the other against presidential guards in the capital.

    The 2015 attacks severely damaged the economy, which has a large tourism sector at its Mediterranean beaches. Since then, security has been boosted at strategic sites while authorities have cracked down on militants, dismantling dozens of cells. Tunisia was the only Arab country where a long-serving leader was toppled in the region's 2011 uprisings without triggering civil war or large-scale violence. Tunisian democracy activists who kept dialogue open between Islamists and secularists were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015.

    Source: Voice of America

    TV presenter jailed for talking about sex outside marriage in Egypt

    Doaa Salah, a presenter on Al-Nahar TV, has been sentenced to three years in jail after she discussed ways of becoming pregnant outside a conventional marriage, reports news site Jezebel.com.

    According to BBC, Salah had asked if her viewers had considered having sex before marriage, and also suggested a woman could marry briefly to have children before divorcing, a topic the government felt is promoting indecency. On the episode in question, Salah wore a fake pregnant belly to highlight her point. This episode aired in July.

    Salah was suspended by the TV company for three months in the aftermath of the broadcast, before legal action was taken against her. The TV presenter was then charged and convicted of outraging public decency. She was also ordered to pay a U.S.$566 fine to the lawyer who filed the lawsuit against her. Salah can appeal the three-year sentence. Another presenter on the same channel, Reham Saeed, was suspended for three months after spending an episode discussing extra-marital affairs.

    Source: allafrica       

    16 civilians killed in Derna airstrikes in Libya

    Unidentified aircraft attacked several locations in Libya's eastern city of Derna on October 30, 2017, killing 16 civilians and critically wounding 4 children. Derna medical sources said that most victims were from the same extended family and included 12 children, ages 2 to 16. The Libyan National Army forces (LNA), which has conducted airstrikes on Derna targets in the past months, denied any involvement in the attack in a televised statement, blaming "terrorists" and promising an investigation. Medical sources said that no fighters were known to have been killed or injured in this attack.

    "An aircraft bombs a Libyan city and kills 16 civilians, yet none of the warring parties accepts responsibility for the attack or names the intended military target," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "Derna residents run the risk of repeat incidents unless authorities start making good on their promise to investigate and hold those responsible for unlawful attacks to account." The LNA, under the command of Gen. Khalifa Hiftar, imposed a siege on Derna in August 2016 in an effort to drive out fighters from the militant alliance Derna Mujahideen Shura Council (DMSC). The DMSC, which opposes the LNA, has controlled the city since participating in ousting the extremist armed group Islamic State (also known as ISIS), in April 2016.

    Human Rights Watch spoke by phone on October 30 and 31 with Dr. Mansour Ben Fayed, the director of Derna's main hospital, who said that the October 30 airstrikes hit two locations, one in the al-Fatayeh neighborhood and the other in the rural area of al-Arqam. Ben Fayed said that Derna's main hospital received 13 of the 16 people killed. The three others died in their home in al-Arqam and were buried without being taken to the hospital. Ben Fayed said the 13 brought to the hospital were all women and children who had been attending an event at a private house. He said that the hospital also treated the four injured children: The first airstrikes hit a family farm in al-Fatayeh after 7 p.m., almost simultaneously with the call for Isha prayers. With the exception of one small child, all of the victims were dead upon arrival at the hospital. The child died soon after arrival. One of the bodies arrived with a severed head. The dead children were dug up from the rubble of the farmhouse after the airstrikes attacked it. Some of the bodies were charred, one child's head was split open from the back, and another had sustained severe injuries to the face.

    Moncef al-Bazouti, who drove an ambulance to the farmhouse in al-Fatayeh to evacuate the injured and retrieve the bodies, told Human Rights Watch by phone on October 31: As soon as we heard the impact of the first strike in the area of al-Fatayeh, all three ambulance cars moved from the hospital to the area of the incident. Just as we arrived and started to collect the dead bodies, a second strike hit the same area and caused some damage to the ambulance I was driving. We had to dig for the bodies under the collapsed wall of the house and the rubble. There were 12 bodies in total. I remember that one women had a severed head, limbs of some victims were severed too. The youngest victim was only 3 years old, and one of the injured children was only 3 months old.

    Al-Bazouti provided Human Rights Watch with the names of the 12 victims he helped to remove from the private home. Ben Fayed said the 13th person killed in al-Fatayeh, a child, was brought to the hospital later in the evening. Ben Fayed and al-Bazouti said that the al-Arqam area was not accessible for ambulances or other vehicles due to the LNA-imposed siege, making it impossible to remove the three bodies there. Hana', a Derna resident who lives near to al-Fatayeh, told Human Rights Watch by phone on October 31 that she heard aircraft that "made a lot of noise" circling over their area before the first series of airstrikes began. She also said that between about midnight and 1 a.m., another series of airstrikes hit the western entrance to the city, causing damage to a building but no reported casualties. Human Rights Watch has not been able to assess whether there were legitimate military targets in the vicinity of any of the airstrikes.

    Previous airstrikes on Derna have not been investigated, Human Rights Watch said. Joint airstrikes by Libyan and Egyptian forces on Derna in February 2015 resulted in at least seven civilian casualties and damage to civilian structures. In February 2016, unidentified aircraft attacked a hospital in Derna, killing at least two civilians and damaging the hospital extensively. In May 2017, the Egyptian air force reportedly conducted airstrikes on Derna in retaliation for the killing of 28 Egyptian Christian Copts from Minya. The killings were later claimed by ISIS. No civilian casualties were reported.

    Armed conflicts since 2014 have left the country with two rival governments claiming legitimacy. The United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, controls parts of western Libya in addition to the capital. A rival, the Interim Government, based in the eastern cities of al-Bayda and Tobruk, controls large swathes of eastern Libya, with the exception of Derna, and parts of the south. The Interim Government is linked with the House of Representatives and the LNA.

    After the ouster of ISIS from Derna, the DMSC militant alliance took control of the city. The LNA formed the "Omar Al-Mukhtar Operations Room," currently under the command of Brigadier General Kamal al-Jabali, to "liberate" Derna from the DMSC. This military operation oversees access to all major entry points into Derna, and control s all movement of people and goods into and out of the city. Ben Fayed, the Derna hospital director, said that this operation has caused shortages in medical supplies and medication to the city. The LNA's siege of Derna has also restricted the movement of civilians.

    International humanitarian law, or the laws of war, apply to all sides in the fighting in Libya. All attacks must be directed at military targets. Deliberate, indiscriminate, and disproportionate attacks against civilians and civilian structures are prohibited. The laws of war further require that warring parties "take all feasible precautions" to avoid or minimize harm to civilians and damage to civilian objects. The laws of war require all parties to the conflict to allow and facilitate the "rapid and unimpeded passage" of humanitarian aid to civilians at risk, including in areas under siege. They also require parties to the conflict to allow free passage for civilians who wish to leave these areas.

    Serious violations of the laws of war, when committed with criminal intent, are war crimes. Those who commit, order, assist, or have command responsibility for war crimes are subject to prosecution by domestic courts or the International Criminal Court, which has jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide committed in Libya since February 15, 2011, under UN Security Council resolution 1970. "Warring factions should impartially investigate possible war crimes by their forces," Whitson said. "Sadly, too many wartime deaths of civilians have simply been ignored."

    Source: Human Rights Watch (Washington D C)

    Southern Africa

    In South Africa, Malema calls for cutting all ties with 'Apartheid' Israel

    EFF leader Julius Malema has called for the closure of the Israeli embassy in South Africa and for South Africa to close its embassy in Israel in solidarity with Palestine. At a picket outside the Israeli embassy in Pretoria on November 2, Malema called for support for the people of Palestine in their fight against "apartheid Israel", which, Malema said, was oppressing Palestine and depriving its people of their land.

    Malema said this was a struggle all too familiar in South Africa. "The EFF is not an organisation for South Africans only, the EFF represents all those who reject imperialism and colonialism," said Malema. "EFF represents the masses of oppressed people all over the world. It doesn't matter whether you are white or black. As long as you are fighting colonialism, as long as you are fighting imperialism, as long as you know that USA is the enemy of the people, you are a friend of the EFF. "That madman that is a president of the USA agrees entirely with the nonsense that is happening in Palestine, the nonsense that is perpetuated by apartheid Israel."

    'If South Africans can do it, you can do it'

    Malema called on South Africans not to visit Israel and for academic institutions and businesses to cut all ties with the country until the land is returned to the Palestinians. He likened this action to the support received during apartheid when many countries placed economic and sporting sanctions on South Africa. "If we boycott everything then they will feel the pain and go into genuine negotiations with Palestinian authorities," he said. Malema also called for a one-state solution. Jews and Palestinians should live under one roof, he said. "We are living here with Afrikaners, it doesn't matter how much we hate them, we have to live with them because they have been naturalised here. "If South Africans can do it, you can do it."

    DA 'a rebound'

    Malema also touched on local politics as he launched an offensive against the DA, which he said represented Israel. He said that the EFF votes with the DA should not be "confused" as support for Israel. "Our vote with the DA does not mean we support their ideological orientation." Malema said the EFF was "passing time" with its partnership with the DA. "DA is like what you call a person you date after breaking up with your genuine girlfriend, DA is a rebound. We will meet the real lover, we are still passing time. Because DA represents apartheid Israel here, we are not confused about that. "But we have a problem with these criminals called the ANC who are stealing directly without any shame. That is why we are saying in the meantime let us pause a bit here while we are still looking for a permanent solution to the crisis of South Africa." Malema also spoke out about the #BlackMonday protest, saying among other things, that the police were scared of white people.

    Source: news24WIRE

    Harare Gets $26 million for roads

    Harare City Council has received $26 million from Government's Emergency Rehabilitation Fund to ensure that roads are repaired before the onset of the rainy season. According to recent ordinary council minutes, Acting Town Clerk Mrs Josephine Ncube told councillors that so far $6 million has been used in road maintenance. "The Acting Town Clerk advised that the programme was being funded by the Emergency Rehabilitation Fund and City of Harare had been awarded $26 million, and so far, $6 million had been used," reads the minutes. "In coming up with the list of roads to be repaired, council had identified major arterial roads, which were widespread within the wards.

    There was need for speed to ensure the roads were repaired before the onset of the rains and teams had been put in place to ensure that the roads were repaired on time." Council has since identified roads that require urgent attention, which include Granville Cemetery Road, Kuwadzana Extension (when turning into Bulawayo Road) and Ardbennie Road, among others. The city council is also requesting the Department of Works (in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development) to include a provision for black spots and humps in the 2018 budget. The City of Harare is now embarking on the second phase of roadworks which entail road reconstruction, rehabilitation, resealing, overlaying and marking. The city's 2018 budget proposes to allocate $12 million to roads and maintenance programmes.

    "It, therefore, behoves the city to fully capacitate its roads maintenance teams and steer clear of hiring plant, equipment and machinery. Council will indeed be seized with programmes to render zones fully functional before end of 2018 and the envisaged retooling exercise as targeted in the 2017 and 2018 budget is particularly instructive," said the city's finance committee chairperson councillor Luckson Mukunguma while presenting the 2018 budget.

    In February, President Mugabe officially declared a state of disaster on Harare's roads and road infrastructure through a notice published in the Government Gazette. The road network has not had any meaningful routine maintenance over the last 15 years. Government has pledged to help rehabilitate the capital's 5 000-kilometre road network.

    Source: The Herald

    East Africa

    Rare protests reported in Eritrea with 28 deaths

    At least 28 people have been killed and dozens more arrested in rare protests that rocked the Eritrean capital, a member of an opposition coalition claimed on November 1. "The magnitude of the protests was very huge," said Nasredin Ali of the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization, based in neighboring Ethiopia. The deaths, arrests and scale of the protests in the reclusive and tightly controlled country could not be confirmed.

    However, the US Embassy said on October 31 it had received reports of gunfire and protests in central Asmara. "Streets in the downtown area may be closed, and police continue to maintain a significant presence," the US Embassy said. Unconfirmed videos were published on social media showing the protests. Nasredin said the protests were triggered when authorities faced resistance after they tried to take control of a Muslim school. "We have information that followers of all religions in the country are now ready to oust the dictatorial regime of Isaias Afewerki once and for all," he added, referring to the president.

    A video of a speech by Hajji Musa, an elderly and respected board member of the Diaa Islamic School, to hundreds of families was posted online. In it he calls on families who paid for the school to protect it from government control. Hajji Musa was later arrested alongside several others, according to the opposition online news Awate.com. This reportedly triggered hundreds of students to take to the streets.

    Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Meskel downplayed the protests, saying on Twitter: "Small demonstration by one school in Asmara dispersed without any causality hardly breaking news." The Freedom Friday network, a loose covert network of activists operating in and outside Eritrea, said in a statement that Christians and Muslims should unite and reject attempts by the regime to divide people to perpetuate its rule. Eritrea is one of the world's most repressive regimes, with no political opposition or free press. Human rights organizations have documented forced conscription into the army that is often indefinite, prompting tens of thousands to flee the country.

    Source: Deutsche Welle

    In Kenya, nurses end their 5-month strike after deal with state

    Nurses will resume work on November 3 after signing an agreement with governors and the government, ending a five-month strike that dealt the country’s health system one of its biggest blows in a long time. In the agreement signed at the offices of the Council of Governors (CoG) in Nairobi, the three parties agreed to have the nurses’ uniform and the risk allowances paid in the next financial year. The over 20,000 nurses will receive in initial uniform allowance of Sh15,000, which will be increased by Sh5,000 each financial year. This allowance has been increased from the Sh10,000 they have been receiving.

    Further, the nurses will also start receiving a risk allowance of between Sh20,000 and Sh25,000, depending on job group, in the next financial year. Council of Governors chairman Josphat Nanok said the parties have also agreed that the risk allowances will be increased to Sh30,000 in the 2020/2021 financial year. Nurses first took to the streets on December 5, 2016, the same time as doctors, who ended their work boycott after 100 days. They then signed a return-to-work formula with governors after being offered a nursing allowance of between Sh15,000 and Sh20,000, to be implemented in two tranches, 60 per cent beginning January and the rest from July.

    Source: Daily Nation

    In Madagascar, World Bank gives government U.S.$5 million to fight plague crisis

    The World Bank has approved an additional $5 million funding to help Madagascar cope with the plague outbreak. The World Bank said in a press release that the decision was made in Washington on October 13-15. The funds, explained the release, would be used in the Emergency National Response plan.

    The plan includes the deployment of personnel to the frontline in the affected districts, disinfection and fight against insects, cleaning up of vulnerable areas and for the purchase of fuel for ambulances. A Malagasy delegation headed by the Finances and Budget minister, Ms Vonintsalama Andriambololona, had appealed for further financial support to combat the epidemic. "We are pleased that the Bank has listened to our call. The ministry promises to closely supervise the good management of such resources in order to quickly tame the epidemic," Ms Andriambololona said on October 30. The WB country manager in Antananarivo, Ms Coralie Gevers, assured that the new financial support would not affect the availability of other funds for Madagascar's social and infrastructure projects.

    The epidemic has affected 40 out of 114 districts in 14 regions so far, according to governmental data. Since August, the plague has killed at least 130 people, including foreigners. An estimated 1,200 infections have been reported, with nearly 800 of them said to have recovered from the illness. In October, the Geneva-headquartered World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated the plague response on the island nation required at least $5.5 million.

    Source: The East African

    Trump policy harming Kenya, Uganda health services

    Early effects of United States restrictions to global health aid will include cuts to essential health services in Kenya and Uganda, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has warned. Human Rights Watch has sent its findings in advance of a six-month review by the State Department of these funding restrictions. In a letter to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released in October, HRW said the changes have resulted in a loss of training and equipment from non-governmental groups for government health clinics, and widespread confusion about implementation.

    On January 23, 2017, US President Donald Trump issued an expanded "Mexico City Policy," later renamed the "Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance" policy. The policy requires foreign nongovernmental organizations receiving US global health aid to certify they do not use their own, non-US funds to provide abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or to save a woman's life. If they wish to keep their US funding, the groups also cannot offer information or referrals for abortion - even where abortions are legal - or advocate liberalizing abortion laws.

    This policy is widely known as the "Global Gag Rule" because it restricts the type of information organizations can provide even with their own funds from non-US sources, including restricting what a doctor can say to her patient. US law already prohibits using US funds for abortion in foreign family planning assistance.

    Kenya and Uganda to be hit by cuts

    "Our research shows that the expanded Mexico City Policy is already erecting barriers that will block people in Kenya and Uganda from the health care they need," said Skye Wheeler, women's rights emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch. "Because the US is the world's largest health donor, this indefensible change in policy puts the lives of many women and girls at risk." Previous Republican administrations have consistently enacted versions of the Mexico City Policy, and these affected US family planning funds, approximately $575 million in FY2016.

    The Trump administration's policy extends the restrictions to an estimated $8.8 billion in US global health assistance, including for family planning and reproductive health, maternal and child health, nutrition, malaria, tuberculosis, infectious diseases, neglected tropical diseases, water, sanitation, and hygiene programs, and HIV/AIDS - including The President's Plan for Emergency Relief for AIDS (PEPFAR).

    In July, Human Rights Watch interviewed representatives of 24 organizations in Kenya and 21 in Uganda affected by the funding restrictions. These organizations provide reproductive and HIV health services, conduct health outreach to marginalized populations, or advocate for improved health policies. HRW says Kenya and Uganda both rely heavily on US health funds to combat high maternal mortality rates and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In Kenya, maternal deaths account for 14 percent of deaths of women ages 15 to 49, and it is among the six countries with the highest total number of HIV infections in the world.

    US global health funds pay for anti-retroviral treatment for 890,000 Ugandans with HIV, about 93 percent of the people receiving HIV treatment in the country. The Ugandan government has estimated that unsafe abortions contribute to 8 percent of maternal deaths. Human Rights Watch found the policy has triggered reductions in key sexual and reproductive health services from well-established organizations that cannot easily be replaced.

    For example, Family Health Options Kenya (FHOK) runs 16 healthcare facilities in the country. FHOK representatives told us the organization will not comply with the restrictions and therefore will lose US funds, which make up roughly 60 percent of its budget, and that it may have to cut as many as half of its services. The organization has already closed one clinic and canceled 100 planned outreach events, including for cervical cancer screening, HIV testing, and family planning counseling, that typically reach 100 people each time. "Many of the groups that now stand to lose their funding have long and strong track records and are among the best placed and qualified to do the work," Wheeler said. "In many cases, alternatives with comparable infrastructure, expertise, and community relationships simply do not exist."

    Although governments receiving US funds are exempt from the policy, Human Rights Watch found that in Kenya and Uganda, many government health clinics will be indirectly weakened. Many depend on nongovernmental groups for training and equipment to provide safe abortion care, including in cases of rape or incest, or to save a woman's life. Groups interviewed said they doubt these government clinics will have the capacity to continue providing comprehensive safe abortion care without their support. Many of the healthcare providers said they feared an increase in unsafe abortions and associated maternal deaths as a result of the cuts in services, reductions in referrals, reduced capacity of government clinics, and uncertainty about whether needed materials and equipment will be available.

    As the US government embarks upon a six-month review of the policy's impacts, Human Rights Watch said that six months is not long enough to sufficiently assess this. Many organizations have not yet signed new grants or renewals and have not yet had to cut or shift their programs. This is the case for many groups receiving PEPFAR funds to prevent and treat HIV, a large proportion of US global health funds. Interviews with sex worker organizations that have come up for funding renewal illustrated that they had to make cruel programmatic choices, including choosing between funds for lifesaving antiretroviral therapy for their members or lifesaving reproductive health services. "These donor-imposed restrictions undermine hard-won relationships of trust developed with a key population on the front lines of efforts to fight HIV," Wheeler said The majority of people interviewed said they had not received any direct communications or explanations of the policy from US government grant administrators.

    In a letter to Human Rights Watch, USAID said that it has trained its staff, published the policy on its website, and created an online course. However, organizations interviewed had many questions about the scope and implementation of the policy; and about access to US government-funded equipment and supplies. They also had questions about whether groups that comply with the policy could partner and meet with groups that do not. In the absence of more detailed guidance, some organizations appeared to have interpreted the policy's restrictions too broadly - for example, feeling they should avoid community outreach on the risks of unsafe abortion. "President Trump should rescind this devastating policy, which will set back hard-won global health gains," Wheeler said.

    Source: The Independent (Kampala)

    Nasa leader, Governors agree to launch people's assembly in Kenya

    The National Super Alliance took the first step towards establishment of the People's Assembly when a meeting between its leader Raila Odinga and governors agreed on moving to the ground to launch the groups at county level. Mr Odinga, in the meeting on November 2 asked the Nasa governors to support the initiative by taking the proposal to their respective county assemblies for approval. During the forum, which was also attended by co-principals Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang'ula, the county bosses approved the coalition's plans to set up a People's Assembly and initiate a review of the Constitution particularly to safeguard and strengthen devolution, according to the statement from Nasa.

    "The governors were also briefed on and approved the coalition's plan to form a special committee to review the Constitution of Kenya 2010," the statement, signed by Nasa CEO Norman Magaya, said. On October 31, Mr Odinga declared that Nasa would not recognize President Kenyatta's win and announced formation of a People's Assembly to start preparation for a fresh poll. The Nasa leader said the political crisis is specifically about free and fair elections and noted that the People's Assembly was the vehicle through which the coalition would exercise what he described as a solemn duty of restoring democracy, constitutionalism and the rule of law. Mr Odinga reiterated that Nasa would not accept to have President Kenyatta's re-election stand because doing so would make a mockery of elections and might as well be the end of the ballot as a means of instituting government in Kenya.

    The governors after the briefing also promised to mobilise grassroots leaders to join the People's Assembly once it finally convenes at a date to be announced by the coalition. The statement revealed that the People's Assembly would comprise of governors and their deputies; senators, members of the National Assembly and County Assemblies; religious, trade union and civil society leaders; and representatives of youth and women organisations. Mr Magaya said a convention to be held in Nairobi will discuss and determine the pathway to democracy and constitutionalism and to restore legality and the rule of law. The task force to review the Constitution will look at systemic continuing failure of electoral bodies, and the electoral system in general, performance of national security organs and the abuse thereof by the national executive, the political architecture and the structure of the executive and Parliament, among others.

    Meanwhile, Bunge la Mwananchi movement has opposed the establishment a People's Assembly as proposed by Nasa, saying it was a duplicate of what they have, but asked Mr Odinga to join them. Speaking at Jeevanjee Gardens in Nairobi, the chairman, Mr Henry Shitanda said that Mr Odinga's plans to take over the already established platform will not be accepted but will be allowed to join like any other Kenyan. However, he said that part of the Nasa agenda was contrary to the core mission and tenets of the movement.

    Source: Daily Nation                    

    Museveni and Magufuli launch Mutukula one stop border post

    President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and John Pombe Magufuli of Tanzania have on November 9 inaugurated the Mutukula One Stop Border Post and also laid the cross-border mark-stone for the construction of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). The One Stop Border Posts (OSBP) launched on November 9, is one of 13 that have reduced regional goods transit periods by more than 50% and improved joint border management procedures.

    An OSBP brings together immigration and customs officials from two neighbouring countries under one roof to eliminate need for trucks and persons to undergo clearance twice on both sides of the border. The East African Community (EAC) has completed 13 out of 15 earmarked OSBPs so far, according to Ambassador Liberat Mfumukeko, the Secretary General of EAC. The two presidents also laid the cross-border East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline mark-stone at the Uganda-Tanzania border point of Mutukula

    President Magufuli, who is on a 3-day state visit, advised host communities to take advantage of EACOP to enhance their livelihoods by provision of local content - goods and services. Magufuli's visit will climax with laying of the second foundation stone for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline in Hoima on November 11. In August, President Yoweri Museveni and Magufuli commissioned the construction of the 1,445km-long East African crude oil pipe line from Hoima district in Uganda to the Tanzanian port of Tanga by laying the first foundation stone.

    The heated crude oil pipe line, the longest of its kind in the world, will cost $3.5 billion and will be completed by 2020 making Uganda join the ranks of oil producing countries. The pipeline works will be undertaken by Total E&P, CNOOC and Tullow Oil together with the two governments of Uganda and Tanzania. The pipe line will on completion carry 216,000 barrels of crude oil for export daily.

    Source: The Independent (Kampala)

    Former South Sudan military chief, Gen Malong, seeks refuge in Uganda

    The under siege former South Sudan Chief of Staff, Gen Paul Malong, is seeking political asylum. In a letter to various international agencies dated November 11, 2017, Gen Malong pleaded that the Juba administration be prevailed upon to allow him safe exit to Uganda. He said he should be allowed to leave South Sudan with his bodyguards, to seek shelter in any UN camp in Uganda. "I should be allowed together with my guards to seek shelter and asylum at any UN camp in order to preserve my life and those around me," the letter reads.

    Gen Malong also urged the South Sudan government to unconditionally release all his loyalists who escorted him to Yirol and were currently being detained by the National Security Service (NSS) in Juba. The former powerful military commander claimed that President Salva Kiir's order dated November 3 had a sole effect of endangering both his life and the lives of his bodyguards, adding that it could also heighten countrywide. The letter ordered troops deployment at strategic locations in Juba, including around Gen Malong's residence. "Mindful of the urgent need to preserve peace and security in the Republic of South Sudan and appreciative of the ongoing efforts to find peaceful and amicable solution to the crisis, my conditions must be met," Gen Malong warned.

    However, the South Sudan Army spokesman, Brigadier General Lul Rual Koang, urged the residents of Juba to remain calm, saying the massive troops deployment last week was for security reasons. General Malong was sacked last May and placed under house arrest after he was intercepted in Yirol town as he attempted to escape from Juba.

    Source: The Monitor                                      

    In Uganda, all doctors and interns must return to work now, orders minister Aceng

    Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng says Uganda Medical Association (UMA) that organised the strike is not a registered union to lobby for labour rights. She orders all doctors and intern doctors to resume work at once; directs UMA officials to stop interfering with Association members willing to work; promised protection for doctors who get back to work; and, says intern doctors who fail to comply will have their internships terminated and have to reapply. Health workers who were misled but realise their mistake and resume work will not be subjected to disciplinary procedure, she says.

    In An 8-point terse statement read at a press conference on November 9 night at Health ministry headquarters in Kampala, Dr Aceng says the doctors never gave formal 90-day notice and followed no public service procedure in declaring industrial action. She says grievances about salary and working condition by public officials must have been channelled through the Public Service Negotiation and Consultation Council. This, she says, is the guidance by the Solicitor General, the technical arm of the Attorney General, the government chief legal advisor.

    Dr Aceng tells the ongoing press conference that they, however, appreciate the doctors' concerns as "genuine". She says the Office of the President directs all Resident District Commissioners (RDCs), who represent the President in districts, to monitor compliance of doctors with the new directive.

    Source: The Monitor

    Tanzania, World Bank ink Sh340bn loan deal

    Dar es Salaam — A total of Sh340 billion will be spent on boosting Tanzania's southern tourist circuit in a bid to shake up economic growth in the area. This comes after the government signed a loan agreement with the World Bank in a move that will see the southern regions contributing more to the national economy. The project is targeting Iringa Region as the hub for tourism in southern circuit and will involve the improvement of infrastructure, promotion of tourist attractions and creation of related economic activities.

    Ministry of Finance permanent secretary Dotto James signed on behalf of the government while World Bank Country director Bella Bird did so on behalf of the lender. Speaking after the signing of agreement, Mr James explained that the southern circuit is rich with tourist attractions, but receives a small share of tourists arriving in the country mainly due to poor infrastructure. "The signed loan will open up national parks in the southern circuit, starting with the Ruaha, which is the second largest in Africa," he said. He added, "The project will also involve the construction of bridges and air strips in the Ruaha National Park and Selous Game Reserve. This will also benefit the surrounding communities." The permanent secretary revealed that the project will involve the construction of tarmac roads linking Iringa to Ruaha National Park, a move that will simplify transport for tourists.

    World Bank boss Bird, for her part, said the protection of the environment and natural resources during the implementation of the projects remain the lender's priority. "From the World Bank, we see the southern circuit as an excellent choice to promote tourism diversification, and fully support the vision of positioning it as an engine for economic growth and job creation," she said. Through the implementation of much needed infrastructure inside the protected areas, strong community involvement and livelihood activities, tourism promotion, marketing and private sector engagement, REGROW project, which is financed by the credit sets the vision for poverty reduction through a conservation lens that will turn into a world-class example on how to sustainably manage natural resources.

    "I want to reiterate my pride and satisfaction to participate in the signing ceremony for the REGROW project, for $150 million, today," she said. Ms Bird said signing ceremony of the credit bears witness to the bank's commitment of supporting the government of Tanzania in bridging the gap between conservation and economic benefits for the country, and becomes an important milestone for a great partnership "Tourism has done many things to the Tanzanian economy which include job creation, environmental and ecological protections," she said. She furthermore said the prospective infrastructure project should enable improving people's welfare and must be people-centred.

    The southern circuit and its large protected areas are subject to a range of pressures, including water shortages, poaching, human-wildlife conflicts, and others. The REGROW project, to be financed by the loan will strengthen the government's ability to manage the pressures and better protect the resources. "In Tanzania, perhaps more evidently than in most countries, to talk about tourism equals talking about biodiversity. They are two inextricable sides of the same coin, and they are both mutually dependent. By promoting the development of tourism in the south, the government is ensuring much needed flows of income, which in turn are fundamental to be reinvested in protection of the resource base," she said in her speech.

    Source: The Citizen

    West Africa

    Buhari, Sultan make top 50 world influential Muslim leaders

    President Muhammadu Buhari, the Sultan of Sokoto and President of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) Muhammadu Sa'ad Abubakar were the only Nigerians listed in the rankings among the top 50 influential Muslim leaders in the world. A renowned Maiduguri based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ibrahim Salih however dropped from the first 50 but was listed among the top 500.

    They were listed in the 9th edition of the annual "The Muslim 500: The World's 500 Most Influential Muslims" 2018 formally released on November 2. It said that apart from being citizens of their respective countries, those recognised also have a sense of belonging to Muslim community worldwide. It among others measured influence to include; any person who has the power (be it cultural, ideological, financial, political or otherwise) to make a change that will have a significant impact on the Muslim world. It however, added that the impact can be either positive or negative, depending on one's point of view. "The first two examples also point to the fact that the lists, and especially the Top 50, are dominated by religious scholars and heads of state. Their dominant and lasting influence cannot be denied, especially the rulers, who in many cases also appoint religious scholars to their respective positions," it said.

    It listed 13 criteria scholarly, political, administration of religious affairs, preachers and spiritual guides, philanthropy/charity and development, social issues, business, science and technology, arts and culture, Qur'an reciters, media, celebrities and sports stars, and extremists where those ranked were selected from. While President Buhari was listed as number 19 (17 last year and 20 in 2016 even as a first timer) in the rankings, the Sultan whose highest ranking was in 2009 at number 16, was listed as 23 (22 last year and 24 in 2016).

    The publication list Professor Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad Al-Tayyeb the Grand Sheikh of the Al-Azhar University and Grand Imam of the Al-Azhar Mosque as number one, retaining his 2017 position. King Salman Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia however emerged the second after displacing King Abdullah Al-Hussein of Jordan to the third position. The Jordanian King was number one on 2016. The duo of the Iranian Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Hajj Sayyid Ali Khamenei and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came fourth and fifth respectively.

    In a short citation the publication recognised President Buhari's past military career, his anti-corruption credentials and his promise and subsequent efforts to deal with the insurgent group, Boko Haram and the economy and infrastructure. Other Nigerians on the ranking are Dr. Ibrahim Datti Ahmed, Prince Bola Ajibola, Imam Muhammad Ashafa, Sheikh Tahir Usman Bauchi, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Sheikh Yakubu Musa Katsina, Prof Ishaq Olanrewaju Oloyede, Emir of Kano Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and Shiite leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky.

    Source: Daily Trust

    In Nigeria, Senate to investigate U.S.$1.035bn fraud in power ministry

    Abuja — The Senate on November 2 vowed to investigate a $1.035 billion fraud in the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing. This followed a motion on Order 42 of the Senate Rules moved by Senator Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West). Melaye informed the plenary that the ministry acquired about $1 billion from euro bond, which was issued by the federal government in 2013.

    Senate President Bukola Saraki, on hearing the discovery of the alleged fraud, granted Melaye's prayer to sponsor a substantive motion on the allegation on the next legislative day, being next week November 7. Revealing how the money was gotten, Melaye said that the sum of $350 million was given to IBEX in 2014 by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. He alleged that the money is being syphoned in installments by officials of the ministry.

    Melaye said, "In line with the anti-corruption posture of this chamber, especially now that our cries and observation are yielding evidence as expressly manifested in the case of Babachir Lawal, today, I bring to the attention of this Senate, a monumental fraud in the power sector. "In July 2013, the federal government raised N1 billion from a Euro bond issue. From the proceeds, the sum of $350 million was given to IBEX in 2014. This money is installmentally stolen".

    The lawmaker further alleged that in 2016, the ministry came up with a project named Fast Power, which was supposed to build new generating plants to add to national power grid. He said the project failed, as the National Assembly did not approve any expenditure for it. Melaye continued: "As I speak to you Mr. President, sometime last year again, the Ministry of Power came up with the project they termed Fast Power. This indigested project is supposed to build new generating plants to add power to our grid.

    "There are few questions I need to ask to bring a substantive motion up in another legislative day. Up till date, there are no details to build this new generating plant or feasibility study. There is no appropriation by the National Assembly for this project. "The ministry has spent $35 million on the affirmed Fast Power project that has no appropriation or no detailed feasibility study. How and when was this money appropriated? Out of this money, $29 million was purportedly paid to General Electric for turbines, while $6 million was paid to others. This amount, amongst others, is a monumental fraud. We need Senate to investigate this after moving a substantive motion".

    Source: Leadership (Abuja)

    Jihadists kill UN Peacekeepers in Mali

    Bamako — THE United Nations mission in Mali (Minusma) has mourned the killing of three peacekeepers by rebel groups in the country. The peacekeepers from Chad were killed when their vehicle escorting a MINUSMA logistics convoy hit an explosive device in the northern Kidal region. Abdoulaye Ali Abderassoul, Ndonodji Issackar Laysam and Nadjibaye Jacob Djibiya, lost their lives. "These brave peacekeepers have chosen to leave their families and countries to serve in Mali," said Mahamat Saleh Annadif, head of Minusma. In recent times, the majority of peacekeepers killed and wounded in Mali have been killed by mines or improvised explosive devices.

    On October 31, the Malian Armed Forces intervened near Tenenkou to rescue the convoy of the President of the High Court of Justice, Abdrahamane Niang, which was targeted through explosive devices. Jihadist groups are making the environment hostile for peacekeepers in Mali, where 10 000 UN peacekeepers are deployed. Attacks against peacekeepers, aid workers and the military are prevalent. Annadif urged the peacekeepers not to relent despite rising attacks. "They must adapt to this new type of enemy," he said. The Security Council established Minusma in 2013 to support political processes and carry out a number of security-related tasks in the West African country of 18 million people.

    Source: cajnews                  

    Nigerian Senate approves U.S.$350 million World Bank loan for Ogun

    The Senate on November 9 approved a $350 million loan request for developmental projects in Ogun state. The approval followed the presentation of a report by the committee on Local and Foreign Debts. Presenting report, the committee chairman, Shehu Sani, Kaduna-APC, said the projects earmarked by the Ogun state government will boost the socio-economic development of the state. He said the Ogun state $350 million loan was approved in 2015 and captured in 2016-2018 borrowing plan as approved by the National Assembly.

    The lawmaker added that the credit facility had an attractive low financing data of 1.25 per cent interest for a period of five years and a 25-year maturity tenure. "The committee observes that Ogun state has a low and acceptable loan sustainability level, therefor, is eligible to borrow," he said. He added that the state government had met "various conditions" to access the loan.

    Sani said: "The committee observes that the Ogun state government has met the various conditions by the World Bank and is qualified for the loan. The committee observes that the Ogun state government has put in place institutional framework for the transparent and accountable budgetary and financial purpose.

    "The committee observes that the various projects to be funded by the facility will engender economic growth, also increase revenue generation capacity of the state and create employment opportunities. The committee observes that Ogun state has shown a high degree of prudence in implementing her annual budgets." The lawmakers approved the recommendation through a voice vote.

    Source: Premium Times

     This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi

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