MonitorsPublished on Jan 25, 2017
Africa Monitor | Vol VI Issue XXVIII

The Continent

Ahead of the Gujarat global summit, PM Modi meets world leaders

Ahead of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held bilateral talks with several heads of state and ministers who have converged in Gandhinagar for the mega event. PM Modi held delegation-level talks with leaders of Rwanda, Serbia, Japan and Denmark. The talks were held at Mahatma Mandir on January 17 morning. “A crisp January morning in Gandhinagar begins with full delegation level talks. PM with President @PaulKagame of Rwanda @VibrantGujarat,” tweeted External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup. “The two leaders witnessed the exchange of an MoU on Forensic Sciences cooperation and Rwanda’s accession to the Intern’l Solar Alliance,” Swarup said in a series of tweets.

Later, Modi held bilateral talks with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, Economy Minister of Japan Seko Hiroshige and then with Energy Minister of Denmark Lars Clilleholt. “Strengthening ties with Serbia. PM @narendramodi holds 2nd bilateral with Aleksandar Vucic, Serbian PM at #VibrantGujarat2017,” Swarup said. “An enduring investment partner. 2 months after Economy Minister @SekoHiroshige called on PM in Tokyo, they meet @VibrantGujarat,” he said.“Learning from the leaders in renewable energy. PM @narendramodi with @larsclilleholt, Minister for Energy, Utilities and Climate, Denmark,” he tweeted.

The Prime Minister is expected to hold similar meetings with other heads of state ahead of the official inauguration of the 8th edition of Vibrant Summit. Around 20 heads of state and ministers from different governments across the world are attending the summit. Nisha Desai Biswal, an Indian-American serving as Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs in the United States Department of State, will attend the Summit along with a large US business delegation. Other prominent dignitaries are President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta, Prime Minister of Portugal Antonio Costa, Deputy PM of Russia Dmitry Rogozin, first Deputy PM and Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Poland, Poitr Glinski.

Source: Rajya Sabha TV

UN warns of famine risk in Somalia amid worsening drought

Somalia risks slipping back into famine, the United Nations said on January 17, as worsening drought has left millions of people without food, water or healthcare in a country crippled by decades of war.

Five million Somalis, or more than four out of 10 residents, do not have enough to eat because of poor rains and fighting between the Islamist militant group al Shabaab and Somalia's African Union-backed government.

Famine last struck pockets of Somalia in 2011, killing 260,000 people. It was caused by drought, conflict and a ban on food aid in territory held by al Shabaab. "The humanitarian situation remains grim for millions of Somalis," the U.N.'s humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq, said in a statement. "We are faced with a slight but steady increase in the number of people in need, and most recently with a significant risk of further deterioration to famine."

Both of Somalia's 2016 rainy seasons were below average and the April to June 2017 Gu rains are predicted to be poor, the U.S.-based Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) said. "Urgent action to ramp up assistance provision and ensure adequate humanitarian access is needed to address rising levels of food insecurity and mitigate the potential for large-scale loss of life," it said. In the south, the regions of Bay and Bakool are most worrying, as poor households have had little to no harvest, own few livestock and rely on wage labour which declines quickly during severe droughts, it said.

Half of those who died in 2011 lost their lives before famine was officially declared, a situation that must not be repeated, de Clercq said. Governments typically declare famines when situations grow dire, using a classification system developed by the U.N. However, while official declarations of famine may encourage awareness and foreign aid, some governments are reluctant to do so because of the negative image.

Many indicators like those seen in Somalia in 2011, such as rising food prices and falling livestock prices, have reappeared, according to FEWSNET. As crops fail and animals die, people move into towns or across the border to Ethiopia, de Clercq told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in the U.N. compound near Mogadishu's airport. "They think that is where they're going to find water," he said. "Mistakenly, because that is not necessarily true."

Hunger is particularly acute among Somalia's 1.1 million extremely poor people who already are displaced internally, forced by conflict and drought to flee multiple times. Some 320,000 children under age 5 are acutely malnourished, and 50,000 of them are so severely malnourished they risk dying without emergency intervention. De Clercq made an appeal for $864 million to provide emergency aid to 3.9 million people. "Early action is the only way to demonstrate that we have learnt the lessons from the past to avert another catastrophe," he said.

The crisis will be a major test for the new government in Somalia, which is in the process of electing a president. The government last week announced an inter-agency National Drought Relief Committee to coordinate a response to the drought, which de Clercq called encouraging. Delivering aid in Somalia is difficult due to violence, kidnapping and corruption. In 2010, a U.N. panel of experts said up to half of food aid to Somalia was diverted to corrupt contractors, al Shabaab and local staff.

Source: Thomas Reuters Foundation

In Gambia, finally, Jammeh 'agrees to step down'

Gambia's outgoing leader, Yahaya Jammeh, will finally leave power for internationally-recognized Adama Barrow, after failing three deadlines, a report says. A France24 journalist in The Gambia, Nicolas Germain, tweeted at 5.56PM, almost two hours after the expiration of the third deadline, quoted The Gambian officials as saying Mr. Jammeh was writing a statement "where he accepts defeat." For hours, Mr. Jammeh has been in talks with Mauritanian and Guinean leaders, persuading him to step down to avert being forced out by ECOWAS troops already in his country's territory. ECOWAS is backed by the United Nations to enforce respect for the December 1 election in which Mr. Barrow was returned winner. Mr. Barrow was sworn-in at the embassy of The Gambia in Senegal.

Source: Premium Times,

Central Africa

Congo Agreement paves way for first democratic transition in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Late last year, the Democratic Republic of the Congo approached a constitutional crisis. As President Joseph Kabila's second and final term drew to a close, there was no plan for elections to select his replacement. Fears of an indefinite delay spread. Security forces met peaceful protests with violence, and the country girded for prolonged instability. Then, at literally the 11th hour on New Year's Eve, the government and opposition struck a deal to avert crisis.

Under the agreement, presidential, legislative, and provincial elections will be held no later than December 2017. President Kabila cannot seek a third term but will remain in office until a successor is in place. In the interim, there can be no amendments to the constitution, and the government will announce a unity government led by a prime minister from the opposition. A new national council, led by opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, will oversee implementation of the accord.

This agreement paves the way for the DRC's first-ever democratic transition. It is a triumph for the government, opposition, and Congolese people. Yet the deal remains fragile, and all parties must move quickly to honor its terms. Selecting a new prime minister and establishing the oversight council will be essential. This agreement would not have been possible without Congolese civil society, especially the Council of Catholic Bishops which facilitated months of negotiations between the government and opposition.

 The Council joined many other organizations, civic leaders, and ordinary citizens in speaking out for a stable, democratic future in the face of harassment, arrest, and intimidation. These voices will remain vital to encourage continued progress, a key test of which will be whether the government makes good on its pledge to respect human rights, restore space for political discussion, and reopen shuttered media outlets.

Congolese actors deserve overwhelming credit for this compromise, but proactive international engagement was also critical. Behind the scenes, the United States, European Union, and regional partners urged DRC officials to seize this opportunity and warned of consequences if they did not. This was no idle threat: both the US and EU sanctioned several DRC officials for undermining democratic processes and perpetrating violence against civilians. This combination of persuasion and pressure helped push all sides to negotiate and make the hard compromises needed for an agreement.

A more stable and democratic future is now in reach for the DRC, but it hinges on implementation by all parties. While the United States hopes new sanctions will prove unnecessary, they remain an option should Congolese parties fail to honor the accord. Ten years ago this month, Ban-Ki Moon visited Kinshasa on his first trip to Africa as UN Secretary-General. Through years of civil strife, millions of Congolese had perished in the bloodiest conflict since the Second World War. But with support from the international community, the Congolese chartered a different path by holding the country's first democratic elections in a generation.

 Addressing the parliament, the former Secretary-General declared the DRC a "source of hope" for the continent. Last month, the country stood on the brink of crisis. Again, with support from the international community, the Congolese people defied history by choosing democracy and peace over division and conflict. They continue to give us hope, and the world must support them on their challenging yet hopeful path.

Source: allafrica

African Union pays tribute to Burundian soldiers killed in Somalia

Smail Chergui, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, arrived in Bujumbura in the afternoon of 18 January 2017. He paid tribute to the Burundian soldiers who lost their lives in the fighting against the Al-Shabab terrorist group in Somalia. Chergui laid a wreath on the grave of Brigadier General Juvénal Niyoyunguruza, who died in Somalia on 17 September 2009 in memory of all Burundi soldiers who died on the battlefield in Somalia.

Niyoyunguruza, who was the Deputy Commander of the African Union Mission in Somalia-AMISOM at the time, died with six other Burundian soldiers following a twin suicide attack rocket that struck AMISOM headquarters. Al shabab group later on claimed responsibility for it .Niyoyunguruza participated in the first Burundi contingent deployed in peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

"It is a fundamental duty to come here to pay tribute to our peacekeepers who sacrificed their lives to give their fellow Somali brothers and sisters the opportunity to restore peace and security," said Chergui while explaining the gesture of placing a wreath on the grave of Niyoyunguruza. He said the African Union Commission would continue to recall the gesture Burundian troops have made for Somalia in particular and for Africa as a whole. "We will always remember them because they have done more than their duty," Chergui said.

For Alain Aimé Nyamitwe, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Burundi's involvement in the peacekeeping mission in Somalia was important in restoring peace not only in Somalia but also in the world. "There was a time when maritime piracy in the Indian Ocean at the height of Somalia was completely difficult to eradicate. Had it not been the intervention of the Burundian and other countries' forces through AMISOM, many Western countries would have still been suffering from maritime piracy and other acts of terrorism, "says Nyamitwe.

Source: IWACU

Govt cuts Internet in English-speaking regions in Cameroon

In Cameroon, internet connections appear to have been cut in the major towns of the country's two English-speaking regions. The action comes as a months-long strike by local lawyers and teachers intensifies. Agbor Gideon owns a shop that provides internet services to students and researchers at the University of Bamenda in the northwest region of Cameroon. He says his suppliers disconnected internet connection to his neighborhood on January 17.

"They are stepping on our rights. They are stepping on the rights of the people to use internet because it blocks so many things," said Gideon. "There are people whose businesses are based on the internet so it is going to add to the hardship." The northwest is one of two English speaking regions in Cameroon that has seen violent demonstrations and waves of arrests in recent months related to the strike by teachers and lawyers. Those professionals say the government is letting French sideline English in the bilingual country.

The strikers have been joined by other interests, some of whom are calling for the English-speaking regions to secede from Cameroon. The government says that is not an option. Mobile phone companies have not issued any official statement about the internet cutoff. But agents have told worried users that the government is threatening to withdraw their licenses should they not suspend internet services to these two regions. For now, no online money transfers and payments can be made. The government has not commented on the internet issue. The communications minister warned in November, though, that a blackout was a possibility if social media was used to disseminate what he called anti-government propaganda related to the strike.

Authorities have been sending out warnings this week via SMS, which Libom Li Likeng, Cameroon's minister of post and telecommunications, says are part of a civic education campaign. She says social media has become an important communications instrument, which unfortunately is used by people with evil intentions to propagate false information to threaten the public and create panic. She says the president ordered them to pass the message that the irresponsible use of social media is punishable by the law. She says prison time of up to two years and fines of up to $4,000, or both, await offenders as per Cameroon's penal code.

Source: Voice of America

European Parliament accuses Burundi government of human rights violations

On 19 January 2017, the European parliament has written to the Burundi government, spelling out a number of accusations about human rights violations. It has also condemned the law legalising the "Imbonerakure", a violent youth militia, according to the European parliament. The European parliament says its report on Burundi expresses its deep concerns at the worsening political security situation and violence occurring in Burundi since 2015.

The parliament also said the justice system in Burundi is corrupt: "Despite hundreds of people being killed and tortured since the crisis began, many of them by the police and intelligence services, very few have been brought to justice." The European Parliament said it condemns activities of "Imbonerakure", the youth league of the ruling party. "According to reports, 'Imbonerakure' members arrest, beat and steal possessions from residents, and also use rape as a weapon», said the European parliament.

In Burundi's ruling party "Imbonerakure» is a part of members who are still young. They are most often said to commit different crimes, but in a secret way. Different reports of international human rights associations show that the Imbonerakure youth violate human rights. According to the European parliament, "Imbonerakure" focus their attacks on opposition members: "Scores of opposition members and identified opponents have been killed, imprisoned, beaten and tortured in recent months.

Imbonerakure members are also widely accused by international human rights organisations and the UN of grave human rights abuses and of impunity." The European parliament said it condemns the adoption of a new law on the creation of a national volunteer corps. According to them, the law is aimed at legalising the activities of "Imbonerakure" youth. The parliament calls for the immediate disarmament of the militia.

Ninette Nancy Mutoni, in charge of communication for the "Imbonerakure" denies all accusations of the European parliament. "Such reports aim at tarnishing the CNDD party and its Imbonerakure youth. There is no truth in anything they have said", says Mutoni. Iwacu has tried to contact Burundian government members to include their point of view, but to no avail.

Source: IWACU

North Africa

Morocco bans sale of full-face veil

Morocco has banned the production and sale of full-face Muslim veils apparently for security reasons, according to local media reports. While there was no official announcement by authorities in the North African nation, the reports said the interior ministry order would take effect this week. "We have taken the step of completely banning the import, manufacture and marketing of this garment in all the cities and towns of the kingdom," the Le360 news site quoted a high-ranking interior ministry official as saying on January 10. It said the measure appeared to be motivated by security concerns, "since bandits have repeatedly used this garment to perpetrate their crimes".

Most women in Morocco, whose King Mohammed VI favours a moderate version of Islam, prefer the hijab, or headscarf, which does not cover the face. The niqab, which leaves the area around the eyes uncovered, is also worn in more conservative regions in the north, from where thousands of fighters have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq. In some commercial districts of Casablanca, the country's economic capital, interior ministry officials on January 9 conducted "awareness-raising campaigns with traders to inform them of this new decision", the Media 24 website said. In Taroudant in southern Morocco, authorities ordered traders to stop making and selling burqas and to liquidate their stock within 48 hours, the reports said. Retailers in the northern town of Ouislane were said to have received similar instructions.

It was unclear if Morocco plans to follow in the footsteps of some European countries such as France and Belgium where it is illegal to wear full veils in public. The reports were met with a muted response in the absence of official confirmation, though Salafists expressed concern that the measure could be expanded to include the niqab. "Is Morocco moving towards banning the niqab that Muslim women have worn for five centuries?" Salafist sheikh Hassan Kettani wrote on Facebook. "If true it would be a disaster."

Hammad Kabbaj, a preacher who was barred from standing in parliamentary elections in October over his alleged ties to "extremism", denounced the ban as "unacceptable". In comments on Facebook, he mocked the "Morocco of freedom and human rights" which "considers the wearing of the Western swimsuit on the beaches an untouchable right". But Nouzha Skalli, a former family and social development minister, welcomed the ban as "an important step in the fight against religious extremism". The High Council of Oulemas, the country's top religious authority, has yet to comment on the issue of banning full-face veils.

Source: Al Jazeera (Doha)

EU criticises freezing assets of NGO directors in Egypt

European Union criticises court decision to freeze assets of two human rights activists, in a statement on January 12. On January 11, the Cairo Criminal Court decided to freeze assets belonging to three non-governmental organisaiton directors on charges of foreign funding. The defendants include director of Nazra for Feminist Studies Mozn Hassan, director of Arab Organisation for Criminal Rehabilitation Mohamed Zare'a, and director of the Arab Penal Reform Organisation. They are charged with receiving foreign funds. "The decision continues a worrying trend of restricting space for civil society to operate in Egypt, as seen by the recent multiplication of travel bans and asset freezes imposed on prominent human rights defenders and organisations," the EU statement read.

According to EU, human rights defenders play a key role in democratic, economic development and hence building political stability. It has called on ensuring civil society organisaitons work are operating freely. The foreign funding case initially started in 2011 and has brought heavy criticism to Egypt with a number of NGOs being raided and investigations launched into their foreign funding. It later on simply came to be known as the NGO trial, in which 43 Egyptians and foreigners were convicted in 2013. Egypt reopened the investigation into the case last March, a move which was locally and internationally criticised. In September 2016, the judicial probe barred four rights defenders and their families from disposing of their assets. The temporary decision includes Gamal Eid and Hossam Bahgat, two leading Egyptian rights defenders.

Source: Aswat Masriya

In Egypt, military court sentences Muslim Brotherhood supreme guide to 10 years in jail

Military court sentenced on January 18 Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Badie to ten years in prison for "involvement in violent clashes" in North Sinai. Forty-eight other defendants were sentenced to life in prison, and 20 were acquitted in the same case. The events of the case date back to 2013, following the forced dispersal of pro-Brotherhood sit-ins in Rabaa al-Adaweya and al-Nahda squares.

The North Sinai criminal court referred the defendants to a military court in 2015. The prosecution investigations charged them with "storming into Ber Al-Abd police station, and seizing personal documents related to the interior ministry, as well as facilitating escape of defendants in custody." Moreover, the defendants were charged with belonging to an outlawed organisation. Egypt listed the Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation in December 2013. The state insists the Brotherhood is behind the wave of militancy which has targeted security personnel since mid-2013.

Source: Aswat Masriya

Southern Africa

In Zimbabwe, pastor arrested over Mugabe death prophecy

Kariba based pastor Patrick Mugadza who last week predicted the death of President Robert Mugabe by claiming 93-year-old would breathe his last on October 17 was arrested on January 16 at the Harare Magistrates Courts. In a message sent to the media via WhatsApp, Mugadza said police were still holding him without any charge but claimed to have overheard them saying he would be charged with undermining the authority of the President. "Police arrested me right at the door when I was coming out of the Court. Right now, I am at (Harare) central police station for the prophecy I gave that the President will die in October. "They say I have undermined the authority of the President though they have not formally charged me. I have not seen anyone yet save for arresting officers," Mugadza told

The pastor was due to appear in court later later on January 16 for a trial in a case where he is charged with offences against the country's flag which was wrapped around his neck during his one-man protests demo along in the capital last week. The outspoken Pastor, in his Mugabe death prophecy, said: "I just want to tell you something concerning the year 2017. "It is a very special year because of number SEVEN and at the same time also 2017 collides with 37 years by which Zanu PF has been ruling this beautiful nation of Zimbabwe, but something is going to be happening also, which is very critical for us to know." He continued: "It is not to say that I am glad to announce this but, I am just saying it because that's what God told me.

"It was on the 26th of December 2016 when I was in prayer and God said to me this coming year 2017 the President is dying and he told me that he is dying on 17th of October, like I said earlier on that I am not happy for somebody to die but, this is something that is going to happen. "People may ask me if what he does not die. I do not know how much he believes in prayer but he has to do something about this prophecy." The clergyman said if the President does what he has to do he may not die, giving reference to the biblical Hezekiah and quoting the book of Isaiah 38 which says "this is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover".


In South Africa, farmer not showing remorse for psychological trauma of woman in cage

A farmer who gave a woman a lift in a cage on the back of his bakkie has shown "no remorse" for the psychological trauma the woman was subjected to, the ANC Women's League (ANCWL) said on January 19. In a statement, they also slammed a Facebook video in which Linda Stenekamp is being interviewed about the incident. The league said she was "forced to record a video to collaborate with the story of the driver 'baas'".

The photo of Stenekamp sitting in a cage on the back of Johan Erasmus' bakkie circulated on social media on January 19, upsetting people who considered the incident racist and degrading to the woman. News24 earlier reported that Erasmus had just dropped livestock off on a farm outside Cradock when Stenekamp asked him for a lift. He said there was no space for her in the cab, and that Stenekamp had climbed into the cage herself. In a video circulated on Facebook by eBlockwatch, Stenekamp is interviewed by a woman who asks her to tell her version of events.

She says the "baas " had given her a lift to the garage in town as she had asked. The interviewer tells Stenekamp to confirm that she didn't want to get in the front because "julle is gewoont agter op ry, julle like mos die wind en goeters ". Stenekamp says the man asked her if she wanted to sit in the front, but that she said no as it was hot and "we are used to sitting at the back". She says it was her decision to sit in the cage.

"The ANCWL believes that the high level of inequality in the country perpetuates racism and at the most the victims of inequality are women," ANCWL secretary general Meokgo Matuba said. "It is also the ANCWL's view that there is a direct correlation between massive land ownership, extreme economic power and sheer arrogance with disregard of black people. Those with extreme economic power and land marginalise and exploit those who are landless and are economic outcasts in the only country they call home."

The women's league called for government to "radically implement land redistribution and economic transformation". "For speedy implementation of land redistribution, the ANCWL calls for a new land audit that will be conducted at ward-based level by municipalities. The findings of the audit must be used as an accurate land audit and all land acquired illegally by any landowner must be expropriated. It is only through radical implementation of land redistribution and economic transformation that the arrogant racists will learn that blacks are human beings too."

Incidents of racism taking place across the country show that there are some who are not prepared to be part of a non-racist, non-sexist and prosperous country, Matuba said. "Since 1912, black people have overextended the olive branch to build a rainbow nation and those who are not showing any remorse to what was inflicted to black people since 1652 have to be aware that in the near future victims of racism, with the support of peace-loving citizens of the country, might lose patience and request the fanatics of racism to leave the country."

Source: News24

Fundraising for 21st February movement celebrations begins in Zimbabwe

Zanu-pf's Matabeleland South Province has started fundraising for the 21st February Movement celebrations slated for next month in the province. This follows the setting up of 10 committees to spearhead preparations for the event set to be held at Matopos National Park. The party's Matabeleland South provincial secretary for information and publicity, Cde William Dewa, told our Bulawayo Bureau that the green light for the coordinating committees to start fundraising for the event has already been given. "Yes, fundraising is underway because when we set up the committees last week we gave the coordinating committees the gree nlight to start right away to fundraise," he said. "Everything is in overdrive to raise money for the event. Unfortunately, at the moment I cannot divulge the budget because it's up to the organising committee to come up with the final figure."

zanu-pf Gwanda Youth League secretary for commissariat Cde Emmanuel Ncube urged his colleagues who are in business to donate towards the successful hosting of the event. "As youths who were empowered by President Mugabe's youth empowerment policy, we should not wait to be requested to donate for this cause," he said. "The event is ours, we should all support the event with whatever we have, be it financially or materially, so that it becomes a success. "The event is ours and we should be proud of it and raise the province's flag high." President Mugabe celebrates his 93rd birthday next month. Started in 1986, the 21st February Movement seeks to inspire young people to emulate the exemplary character of President Mugabe, its patron.

Source: The Herald

East Africa

Kenya switches to thermal power as hydroelectric dams dry up

Kenya is injecting thermal electricity into the national grid to compensate for hydro generation -- which has affected by low water levels due to poor rainfall last year. The government has ruled out loadshedding, but the use of electricity generated from plants that use expensive diesel and fuel oil sets the stage for higher bills. In the late 1990s, Kenya started diversifying power sources to reduce dependence on hydroelectricity.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers said prolonged use of thermal power and decline of hydro output has the potential of disrupting economic growth. Hydro now accounts for 37.1 per cent of electricity being used. The Ministry of Energy said the fuel cost levy will rise as the current drought has affected the output of hydro plants like the Seven Forks Dam on Tana River, Sondu-Miriu in western Kenya, and Turkwel Gorge in the northwestern part of the country. "We have scaled down generating electricity from hydro plants. Before, they accounted for 39 per cent of the power generated, but this has dropped to 37.1 per cent," said Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter.

Consumers are expected to pay more for power before the onset of the long rains expected between March and May. The fuel levy cost will increase this month to Ksh3.52 ($0.035) per kilowatt hour (kWh) from Ksh2.85 ($0.028) in December. In November it was Ksh2.34 ($0.023). Kenya has an installed generation capacity of 2,341MW. Domestic consumers using up to 50kwh, paying Ksh2.50 ($0.02) per unit, will not be subject to the extra fuel cost levy. Households using 51 to 1,500 kWh will pay Ksh11.62 ($ 0.11) per unit. Companies that are paid the fuel cost levy include Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), Rabai Power Ltd, Iberafrica Power, Thika Power Ltd, Triumph Power Generating Co. Ltd, Tsavo Power Company Ltd and Gulf Power Ltd. The levy is to offset the cost of diesel and fuel oil used for generation.

As of January 11, the water level of Masinga dam, which is the main reservoir of Seven Forks hydro stations, was 1,048.31 metres above sea level and Sondu Miriu 1,402 metres. Minimum levels for the two dams to generate electricity is 1,037 and 1,400 metres above sea level respectively. "Sondu-Miriu will be more challenged if the current drought persists as it relies on runoff from the Sondu-Miriu river as opposed to a dam. The hydro plant has to shut down if the water falls below minimum levels," industry sources said. Kenya's cheapest source of power is hydro at Ksh3 ($0.03) per unit, but it is affected by erratic weather. This is followed by geothermal power at Ksh 7 ($0.07) and thermal at Ksh20 (0.19). The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) adjusts the fuel levy monthly with forex levy attributable to the dollar exchange rate.

The Seven Forks hydro station, Sondu-Miriu plant and Turkwel Gorge station belong to the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed KenGen, which is 70 per cent owned by government and generates 80 per cent of the power in the country. The Seven Forks complex comprises the Masinga plant, which is uppermost on Tana River, the Kamburu power station, Gitaru hydro, Kindaruma plant and Kiambere power station. Kenya's hydro plants generate about 820MW.

Masinga power station will be shut down if water declines below operating level. Water at Masinga reservoir flows downstream for generation of power at Kamburu, Gitaru, Kindaruma and Kiambere hydro plants. Mr Keter said that the Turkwel Gorge, Masinga and Sondu-Miriu hydro stations are still injecting electricity into the national grid despite the decline in water levels. "We have enough supply from geothermal and diesel driven power sources to cover what we may lose from the hydropower stations affected by the ongoing dry weather and poor rains experienced late last year," he said.

Kenya's installed electricity capacity rose from 1,765 Megawatts in 2013 to the current 2,341MW after completion of power generation projects by KenGen and private investors. KenGen, with an installed capacity of 1,630MW, commands 68 per cent of the country's market share. KenGen has installed capacity of 47 per cent geothermal, 39 per cent hydro, 1 per cent wind and 13 per cent thermal. KenGen's planned expansion programme of 721MW from 2016 to 2020 is estimated to cost over $1.3 billion. According to the Ministry of Energy, household access rates to electricity in Kenya rose from 27 per cent in 2013 to 60 per cent in 2016, and 5.3 million customers are currently connected to the national grid.

Source: The East African

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta bans maize export

President Uhuru Kenyatta has banned exportation of maize until the ravaging drought ends. The Head of State further ordered the arrest of unscrupulous traders, who were hoarding maize to make "abnormal" profits. Addressing a rally in Isiolo Town, President Kenyatta, who was flanked by Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario and Governor Godana Doyo said the drought in the country was dire and that his government was doing "everything possible to address it." He said no maize should leave the country until the food shortage ends. "We want to ensure that we help those affected," he said. The President regretted that some traders were hoarding maize in anticipation that the prices would rise.

The government through the National Cereals and Produce Board is currently buying maize at Sh3,000 per 90 kilogram bag in North Rift. Private millers are buying the cereal at between Sh2800 and Sh3200 per 90 kilogram bag. "Action would be taken against traders found hoarding maize. You cannot take advantage of the needy to make profits," he warned. The President, who was in Isiolo to spearhead voter registration campaign said the government is preparing supplementary budget to address the food deficit. He urged county governments to also realign their budgets to cater for the hungry. He said the rain shortfall had also affected neighbouring Ethiopia, Uganda and Somalia. Long term measures are to be taken to prevent Kenyans from suffering again due to drop of rains.

President Kenyatta said pastoralists should be assisted to access water and pasture for their livestock. While the country produces about 33 million bags of maize annually, consumption stands at about 40 million bags. The deficit is usually filled through imports and cross border trade. The food situation is usually worsened by drought with arid and semi-arid counties where residents rely on livestock for their livelihood being the hardest hit.

Isiolo and neighbouring Marsabit, Mandera and Wajir counties are some of those hardest hit by drought. In Marsabit, Governor Ukur Yatani says hundreds of thousands of animals of have died due to lack of rains since April last year. Some 250,000 people in Marsabit are in need of food. A supplementary budget, Mr Yatani said, has been prepared to raise money for relief supplies, livestock off take, provision of water and for peace building. Mr Yatani's administration has also stopped recruitment of workers and cut recurrent expenditure by 50 per cent to get Sh450 million for food supplies to the needy in the next three months. The governor said his government plans to buy livestock from pastoralists, slaughter and distribute meat to hunger stricken families.

Source: Daily Nation

Tanzania to build more natural gas stations in Dar

Tanzania plans to construct more compressed natural gas (CNG) stations in Dar es Salaam to provide cheaper, cleaner energy for more of its citizens. According to the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC), the project will be executed in three phases and will involve construction of 15 compressed natural gas stations in the country's commercial capital. "This project hasn't taken off because of lack of funding. We have divided it into four main zones to simplify investment. TPDC is confident that the project will take off and more stations will be constructed," TPDC acting public relations manager Francis Lupokela told The East African.

TPDC also plans to undertake a feasibility study. "The first study was done in 2012 and the locations for the stations were identified. However, TPDC faced financing challenges for the project." Mr Lupokela added that TPDC had learnt from current projects implemented in Mikocheni, the CNG plant at Ubungo and from vehicles using both natural gas and normal gasoline. "The use of natural gas has decreased air pollution and curbed diseases caused by the use of charcoal," he said. Many Tanzanians are heavily dependent on biomass, leading to the deforestation of 100,000 hectares per year, according to available data.

In 2012, The EastAfrican reported that Tanzania, through TPDC, was going to spend about $55.1 billion to connect homes, industries and institutions in Dar es Salaam to a natural gas system. The plan was to set up three trunk pipelines of 65 kilometres and 15 CNG stations to meet demand. TPDC constructed a pipeline worth $2.8 million to the Mikocheni Light Industrial Area with take-offs at University of Dar es Salaam and Ardhi University.

This same pipeline now serves the 70 houses that are presently connected to the natural gas network, which TPDC now wants to expand to the rest of Dar es Salaam. Minister for Energy and Minerals Sospeter Muhongo has been quoted saying the country aims to transform itself into a gas economy. He said this would involve increasing electricity production from the current 97kWh to 236kWh per capita by using natural gas effectively.

Source: The East African

West Africa

Adama Barrow sworn in as new President of Gambia

Adama Barrow was sworn in as Gambia's new president on January 19 at a ceremony in the country's embassy in neighbouring Senegal, as incumbent Yahya Jammeh refused to step down after last month's presidential election. "This is a day no Gambian will ever forget in a lifetime," Barrow said in a speech immediately after taking the oath of office. The ceremony was broadcast on Senegalese television.

Source: Reuters Media Express

Saudi Arabia lifts quota on Muslim pilgrims in Nigeria

Succour is around the corner for intending pilgrims in Nigeria, as the Saudi Arabian government lifts the quota on number of pilgrims allowed to perform the yearly hajj rites. The new development would give more Nigerians opportunity to perform the religious rites without limitations. In view of this, the Media Awareness Initiative for Hajj (MAI-HAJJ) has congratulated the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), hajj stakeholders and the entire Muslim Ummah for having another opportunity to perform Hajj in a larger perspective.

The decision of the Saudi Arabian government according to Saudi Gazette Newspaper is that: "Saudi Arabia has decided to lift from this year the reduction in the quota of Hajj pilgrims imposed five years ago to ensure safety during the expansion of the Grand Mosque. This, according to the MAI HAJJ, Public Relations Officer, Kabiru Yussuf, would help the Muslim Ummah throughout the globe to have opportunity to perform Hajj, especially Nigerians. He said with this positive development, Nigerian Muslims would have more opportunity to buy hajj seats at ease in their determination to fulfill one of their religious obligations.

MAI-HAJJ urged the 36 states pilgrims welfare boards and Abuja to give priority to first timers, and take all necessary actions to checkmate the activities of those who would try to secure hajj seats through back door. "We also commended the FCT Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board in its efforts not to entertain payment by proxy and bulk purchase of the forms by individual for the exercise. This action will put a stop to seats racketeering which for years denied many Nigerians opportunity to perform hajj due to exorbitant price cause by the so called racketeers," he stated.

This measure by the FCT board will definitely ensure efficiency, transparency and safeguard against fraud in this year's hajj operations especially the sale of the 2017 hajj forms to intending pilgrims. The association charged all intending pilgrims to abide by NAHCON's guidelines of having a guarantor either the chief Imam of his area, traditional ruler or a Senior Civil Servant of not less than Grade Level 12 as contained in the Guideline for the registration of 2017 pilgrimage released by the commission. Female intending Pilgrims should remember that in line with Saudi Arabian government regulations, they can only be registered with their male guides (Muharram).

Source: The Guardian

Nigerian Senators fault deployment of troops to Gambia

Senators have faulted the deployment of troops to the Gambia without recourse to the Senate. Raising a constitutional point of order on January 19, Senator Chukuwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu) said the executive violated sections of the 1999 Constitution by deploying troops without approval of the Senate. Quoting section 5 (4) of the Constitution, Utazi said, "Going on a warfare in another country without a recourse to this constitutional provisions is affront of the 1999 Constitution and it is a breach of the Constitution."

Supporting Utazi's point of order, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu said the president needed the approval of the Senate before deploying the troop. Quoting section 5(4b), he said "except with the prior approval of the Senate no member of the armed forces of the federation shall be deployed on combat duty outside Nigeria. This has to do with war and we are not at war with anybody but for you to send the Nigerian armed forces outside Nigeria this Senate must be told."

In his remark, Senate President Bukola Saraki said, "Notwithstanding the provisions, the president, in consultation with the National Defence Council, may deploy members of the armed forces of the federation on a limited combat duty outside Nigeria, if he is satisfied that the national security is under imminent threat or danger. Provided that the President shall within seven days of actual combat engagement, seek the consent of the Senate and the senate shall thereafter give or refuse the said consent within fourteen days."

Source: Daily Trust

In Nigeria, IDP camp bombing, death toll could be as many as 170 - MSF

Medicine Sans Frontier, MSF, has said "consistent reports" from residents and community leaders indicated that as many as 170 persons may have died from the bombing of the Rann IDP camp in Borno state by a Nigerian Air Force jet. The official figure of the casualties as at January 19 evening was 54 death, after two of those under treatment in hospitals in Maiduguri were confirmed to have died.

The international humanitarian group in a statement on January 20 however said the toll "may have risen to about 90 deaths" from official accounts. Quoting Bruno Jochum, the MSF General Director, the statement said the international aid agency said it would be investigating the claims by unofficial sources, as the victims of the "horrifying" incident deserve a transparent account of what took place in Rann. It was reported on January 17 that as many as 54 persons had died and 120 others clinically injured after the air force jet missed its coordinate.

The full statement of MSF reads:

"The death toll continues to rise following the horrific military attack on civilians in Rann, Nigeria, according to latest estimates by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Around 90 people were killed when a Nigerian airforce plane circled twice and dropped two bombs in the middle of the town of Rann, which hosts thousands of internally displaced people. At the time of the attack, an aid distribution was taking place. The majority of the victims were women and children.

"Outside of what MSF teams have witnessed, consistent reports from residents and community leaders say as many as 170 people were killed. "This figure needs to be confirmed. The victims of this horrifying event deserve a transparent account of what happened and the circumstances in which this attack took place. Many of the survivors will need long-term care and support for the future," says Bruno Jochum, MSF General Director. "People had sought safety in what they thought was a protected site - instead they were bombed by those who were meant to safeguard them."

"The tragedy in Rann too clearly illustrates the dire situation in Borno State, where extremely vulnerable people remain trapped in a cycle of daily violence between the Nigerian military and Boko Haram. This intense violence has led to the displacement of nearly three million people over the past few years, who are still in urgent need of protection and assistance.”

"The population continues to pay the price of a merciless conflict, where the war between Boko Haram and Nigerian military too often disregards the safety of civilians," says Jochum. "The people of Borno should be entitled to guarantees of protection and assistance. All parties to the conflict must ensure the safety of civilians, and we urge the Government of Nigeria to ensure the protection of its people." "MSF first started working in Nigeria in 1996 and is one of the few organizations still able to operate in hard-to-reach areas of the country".

Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, is said to be on his way to Rann on January 20. The army chief is expected to fly to Rann alongside some top army officials and selected journalists. Buratai was among the Federal government delegation that visited Maiduguri on January 18. He stayed back in Maiduguri when his colleagues, the Chief of Defense Staff and the Chief of Air Staff returned to Abuja with officials of the Buhari administration.

Source: Premium Times

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

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