MonitorsPublished on Jan 08, 2018
Africa Monitor | Vol VII Issue XLXIII

The Continent

France signs landmark loan agreement to boost African Development Fund

The African Development Fund (ADF) has signed a significant concessional donor loan agreement with the Government of France to the tune of $ 253 million as support for the 14th replenishment of the Fund. Established in 1972, the ADF represents an enduring development partnership between African countries and donors. The Fund is part of the African Development Bank Group and helps to improve the lives of millions of people across Africa through loans and grants to projects and programmes. Its resources are replenished by donors every three years. The 14th replenishment is intended to mobilize the funds necessary for the period 2017 to 2019. The acting Vice-President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer at the African Development Bank, Hassatou N'Sele, signed the ADF concessional donor loan agreement with the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Agence française de Développement (AFD), Jean-Pierre Marcelli, in Paris. The Agence française de Developpement negotiated and signed the loan agreement on behalf of the French Treasury as part of the contributions of France to the Fourteenth Replenishment of the Resources of the African Development Fund (ADF-14). The move by France is the first time a donor country would sign a concessional donor loan agreement for the ADF since the Fund management and donors agreed in November 2016 to include a loan component within its financing framework. Global support for the ADF 14 cycle will help the African Development Bank to continue to deliver very concrete developmental impacts across each of the High 5 areas (Light up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa). Two other countries have also agreed to provide similar loan supports for ADF 14: Japan (US $ 700 million) and India (US $ 15 million). The signature of the loan agreements with Japan and India should take place early in 2018, N'Sele said. The loan component of ADF will enable donor countries to circumvent the fiscal pressure most of them are facing and to provide additional support to ADF-14 through reimbursable funds. Without these innovative instruments, ADF-14 would have been one-third lower than ADF-13. Source: African Development Bank Group

Afreximbank gets U.S. $ 100 million Shariah-compliant facility

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) have signed a financing agreement of $100-million in the pursuit of increased trade within the continent. The bank will use the $100-million facility to provide Shariah-compliant financing to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in its member countries across Africa. Already, Afreximbank has a solid pipeline of projects in the industrial, communication, technology, healthcare, construction and agricultural sectors spread across the continent that would be financed by the ICD line of financing. Executive Vice President at Afreximbank, Amr Kamel, said: "This facility will give a boost to our effort to implement our current strategy which prioritises intra-African trade; intra -African investments and export manufacturing of the labour intensive type. "It will also promote our knowledge in Islamic finance and provide us with additional manoeuvring capacity in terms of product offerings to our clients." "We are delighted that ICD has chosen to partner with us in the pursuit of Africa's trade developmentt. This collaboration will contribute to, the objective of fostering sustainable economic growth in the member countries of our two institutions, leading to job creations, contribution to export and Islamic finance development, among others." Similarly, Chief Executive Officer of ICD, Khaled Al Aboodi, added: "The proposed financing facility is a token of a good partnership between ICD and Afreximbank, with the purpose of supporting private sector businesses with a Shariah-compliant facility structure in our common African member countries". Afreximbank pointed out that the key economic and financial developmental impact of the financing will include the development of private sector, especially SMEs, to help expand the real economic growth based on value creation. It will also be promoting Islamic Finance based on the pipeline of Afreximbank projects, as well as have an impact on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in line with ICD's strategic objectives. Source: The Guardian

Central Africa

In Rwanda, court bailiffs, notaries warned on corruption

Minister for Justice and Attorney General Johnston Busingye has cautioned court bailiffs and notaries in the country against accepting gifts from the public provided in return for their service, saying such gifts are a disguised form of "bribe." He made the remarks on December 28 while presiding over the swearing-in of 126 professional and 33 non-professional court bailiffs and two notaries. The ceremony was held at the ministry's offices in Kimihurura. Busingye called on the group to be characterised by integrity, accountability and bravery to accomplish their duties. He noted that graft attracts penalties, and cannot be tolerated by the government. "You have committed to serve the community. The responsibilities are not easy; you should work positively so that your contribution adds value to our justice system. If the work of executing court judgments among other tasks of legal institutions is handled on time and well, it will further improve the justice sector," the minister said. He said that the essence of court bailiffs' work is to help community to get justice easily and faster. According to official statistics, there now 3156 court bailiffs countrywide, excluding those who work from prisons. Busingye said that these numbers should be reflected in execution of court judgments. Commenting on professionalism, the minister warned the new bailiffs against making mistakes such as auctioning people's property without due regard of the law. He also asked them to be available all the time so that in case of need, the public should find them easily without waiting for hours. Source: The New Times

Military launches operation to free hostages in Cameroon

Cameroon's military freed 17 of its citizens held hostage by armed groups from the Central African Republic. One person was killed and four were wounded in a confrontation between the military and the kidnappers. The country say hundreds of its citizens are still in captivity. This ambulance rushes with people said to have been wounded in armed confrontations between Cameroon's military and armed groups from the Central African Republic on the border of the two central African states. Doctor Yali Bin Yamazani at a Norwegian missionary hospital in the Cameroonian town of Ngaoundere says all of them suffered bullet wounds. He says the four wounded patients are not in danger even though they have fractured arms and legs. Ahmed Ousseni, a 24-year businessman, says they were wounded when the Cameroon military attacked a base of an armed group from the Central African Republic that held him and some of his friends hostage in the bush for two months. He says the armed men kidnapped five of them after storming their village and shooting indiscriminately in the air. He says while in the bush, five other villagers were brought and detained with them. A month later, the kidnappers brought another men to make a total of 18 hostages. Ousseni says they were given a meal on days when there was something to eat but went hungry when there was no food. He says they were threatened with death but never beaten. Kildadi Taguieke Boukar governor of the Adamawa region of Cameroon, says the government has taken the necessary security measures to protect the population as they continue additional operations to free dozens of others believed to be still held hostage in the bush. He said by freeing 17 of the 18 hostages, the military has shown it is at the service of Cameroonians wherever they are, and that it will continue to protect citizens and do what is needed to free every hostage. The military says some of the militants escaped to the Central African Republic, and several disguised in Cameroon military uniforms were killed. Armed groups from the Central African Republic have been infiltrated Cameroon to seize cattle ranchers and business men to extort ransom from their family or steal their property. Before 2014, when sectarian violence escalated between the Muslim and Christian militias, anti-Balaka soldiers from CAR were attacking Cameroon to force the release of Abdoulaye Meskine and 10 other militants arrested in Cameroon in 2013. Cameroon shares a 900-kilometer boundary with the landlocked CAR and presently hosts 350,000 refugees from the neighboring state. The United Nations this month said the security and human rights situation in CAR was starting to deteriorate after a series of major incidents rocked the capital Bangui. Source: Voice of America

Activists killed in latest anti-Kabila protests

At least seven activists have been killed, scores injured and over 100 arrested after anti-government protests in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The bloodshed follows national security forces responding brutally to demonstrations against beleaguered President Joseph Kabila in the capital Kinshasa and several cities in the country of over 80 million people. Kabila, whose home in the eastern Kivuwas recently burnt down by militia, is clinging to power despite his term expiring at the end of 2016. Trigger-happy security forces are notorious for using live ammunition against critics demanding the resignation of the strongman who assumed power after his father Laurent was assassinated in 2001. António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, expressed concern about the outcome of the New Year protests. "The secretary general calls on the government and national security forces to exercise restraint and to uphold the rights of the Congolese people to the freedom of speech and peaceful assembly," Guterres' spokesperson said. He urged all Congolese political actors to remain committed to the December 2016 political agreement paving way for elections possibly before the end of this year. Banditry has spiked despite the roadmap. Last month, armed groups ambushed and killed 14 UN soldiers and five Congolese soldiers northeast of the Central African country. Over 4 million people are displaced by the violence. Source: cajnews

North Africa

Food security in North Africa deteriorating, warns UN

Food security in North Africa and the Middle East is quickly deteriorating because of conflict in several countries in the region, the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on December 21. In its annual report on food security, FAO noted that an average of more than a quarter of the population in those countries hardest hit by crises -- Libya, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Iraq -- was undernourished, reported Reuters. "The costs of conflict can be seen in the measurements of food insecurity and malnutrition," the FAO's Assistant Director-general Abdessalam Ould Ahmed said adding, "Decisive steps towards peace and stability (need to be) taken." The report focused on changes to food security and nutrition across the region since 2000. The UN agency said that undernourishment in countries not directly affected by conflict, such as most North African countries including Egypt and most Gulf Arab states and had slowly improved in the last decade. But it had worsened in conflict-hit countries. According to FAO a quarter of Yemen's people are on the brink of famine, several years into a proxy war between the Iran-aligned Houthis and the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi that has caused one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in recent times. Several countries in the region erupted into conflict following uprisings in 2011 that overthrew leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Syria's civil war, which also began with popular demonstrations, has killed hundreds of thousands of people and made more than 11 million homeless according to UN. Source: Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)

Egyptian, Ethiopian  FMs discuss faltering dam talks

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry discussed in Addis Ababa with his Ethiopian counterpart Workneh Gebeyehu means of enhancing joint cooperation and the outcome of a recent technical committee meeting on the Ethiopian renaissance dam. Shoukry expressed at the meeting Egypt's concern over faltering of the technical course of the dam negotiations, said Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid in press statements. Shoukry also said that failure on part of the committee to reach an agreement on the report that was compiled by the consultancy firm on the dam impedes studies on the effect of the dam on the two downstream countries in line with the time frame set by the Declaration of Principles that was signed by the two countries and Sudan, added the spokesman. The Egyptian foreign minister underlined the importance of water security for Egypt, added the spokesman, noting that what is required is a commitment by the three countries to implement the Declaration of Principles. For his part, the Ethiopian minister asserted his country is committed to the declaration and keen on rendering the talks on this score successful. Shoukry arrived in Addis Ababa on a visit that is aimed at breaking the logjam of the technical track of talks on the Ethiopian dam. The move comes in line with the Egyptian stance which is seeking to settle the issue within the framework of adherence to the Declaration of Principles and showing signs of goodwill and confidence-building measures, added the spokesman. The visit also comes within efforts for establishing joint cooperation while maintaining the full right of Egypt's water interests, added the spokesman. Source: Egypt Information Service (Cairo)

Sahara Issue - Chile adopts resolution in support of Morocco's autonomy initiative

The National Congress of Chile voted by a huge majority, on January 3 in Valparaiso, to support a resolution in support of the Moroccan autonomy initiative. The vote was 66 in favour to 11 against, with 22 abstentions. According to the rules of the National Congress, abstentions are counted with votes in favour. Chile's National Congress lauded the pre-eminence of the Sahara autonomy plan proposed by Morocco, which was hailed by the United Nations and the entire international community as a serious and credible initiative for the final settlement of this regional dispute. In this regard, Chilean MPs said that the Moroccan initiative is "a serious and credible effort, which will undoubtedly enable the Sahara population to exercise their right to self-determination, by democratically managing their own affairs through legislative, executive and judicial bodies with exclusive powers under the sovereignty of Morocco ". Since its presentation to the United Nations on April 10, 2007, Morocco's autonomy proposal for the Sahara region has been approved by the Security Council, which has unanimously adopted resolutions 1754, 1783 and 1813 and deemed the initiative as "serious and credible", the resolution said. The text also underscored the support of the international community, which described the Moroccan initiative as "an opportunity to advance in the settlement of an issue that is running for more than thirty years now", taking into account the "inapplicability of the referendum ". Following the UN's call for a final and mutually acceptable political solution, Morocco presented in April 2007 an initiative for the negotiation of an autonomy status in the Sahara region, the source said, adding that the broad autonomy plan proposed by Morocco to settle the regional dispute over the Sahara leads to a "win-win situation" and enable the Sahara's population to manage their affairs in a democratic, inclusive and participatory manner. The resolution noted that Morocco has made significant progress in the democratization of the country where the institutions in charge of the fight against human rights abuses are autonomous, adding that that the experience of the Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) provided a model that many countries are studying in order to adopt it to help them tackle past human rights abuses. According to this resolution, the National Congress calls on the Chilean government, in its capacity as member of the United Nations, to support and commit to the UN Security Council Resolution No. 1754, adopted on April 30, 2007. Source: Maghreb Arabe Presse (Rabat)

Southern Africa

In Mozambique, 13 Somalis found dead in a bush

Bodies of 13 Somalis believed to have suffocated in the back of a container truck were discovered on December 26 in a village in central Mozambique. According to the authorities, the bodies were found dumped in a bush some 200 metres from a police station in Cheringoma in Sofala Province. The Mozambican government said investigations are ongoing but did not give any details. A government source quoted in the local O País newspaper said the Somalia nationals were suspected illegal immigrants travelling from the north to south of the country. "They were probably illegal migrants who were being ferried in a container truck and may have died of suffocation. "As soon as the driver realised they were dead, he threw them in the bush," the source told O País. The southern African country is a major transit route for migrants, used by human traffickers to ferry Somalis and Ethiopians to South Africa. In May, Mozambique deported 24 Ethiopians found with fake visas. Source: The East African

Cholera outbreak delays 2018 school calendar in Zambia

Government has announced the 2018 school calendar will delay indefinitely after 50 deaths have been recorded countrywide following the outbreak of cholera. More than 2000 cases of cholera cases have been recorded countrywide. According to a joint statement by Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya and his education counterpart Dennis Wanchinga, the re-opening of schools countrywide has been deferred until further notice. "We have had an outbreak of cholera from October 6, 2017 and it has affected mainly Lusaka Province and we have recorded sporadic cases in various parts of the country," says Dr Chilufya. "We have recorded a total of 2047 cases and Lusaka alone is accounting for 2000 cases. Cumulatively, we have recorded 50 deaths, with Lusaka accounting for 47 deaths. We have mounted a robust multi-sectorial approach involving various sectors." Dr Chilufya has issued a Statutory Instrument N0. 79 of 2017 which evokes provisions of the Public Health Act to ensure that the spread of the outbreak and loss of life is prevented. He said deferring the re-opening of the schools countrywide was to avoid many gatherings in various educational facilities. "There are children who are coming from areas which we are describing as the epicentres of the epidemic and they will be mixing with children from other areas. There may be cross contamination and that may escalate the epidemic. "There are also children that will be coming from the epicentres in Lusaka who may need to travel to boarding schools outside Lusaka to various parts of the country. So, we will suddenly be having a possibility of carriers and this disease will spread in various parts of the country and will spiral out of control. "In line with the Statutory Instrument, we are restricting this particular movement. We do not want school children to move outside the epicentres to various schools where they will co-mingle with other children. Or move out of Lusaka to other parts of the country so that we start fire fighting in different parts of the country. "So, this is an important measure and will apply to all schools nationally and we will be able to review this decision by January 30, 2018. This period will allow us to work with the authorities in the schools to look at water and sanitation facilities, correct them where need be and so there is a task force that is working to ensure that water facilities, sanitation facilities in the schools is in good shape." Dr Chilufya said his ministry would broadcast key messages to raise awareness to improve personal hygiene by school children before schools re-opened. Dr Chilufya also said his ministry would further vaccinate all citizens in affected areas particularly school going children. "This will help reduce the spread of the disease. We are targeting to begin vaccination within the next seven to 10 days and we are going to vaccinate an initial number of two million people and we hope to reach four million. This will give us an opportunity to continue correcting the issue of access to clean and safe water. Let's be mindful that the drivers of this epidemic include consumption of contaminated water and food, poor waste management, and poor personal hygiene practices. These must be addressed," said Dr Chilufya. Education minister Dennis Wanchinga said postponing the re-opening of schools due to the cholera outbreak was an important decision to make. Source: Zambia Reports

In South Africa, water crisis intensifies in Cape Town

Cape Town is experiencing the worst drought to hit South Africa in decades. Located only a stone's throw away from both the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, the city's water reserves can only last a few more months. This shortage has led to the municipality raising existing water restrictions to level six. This means that households using more than 10,500 liters (2,773 gallons) per day will now be fined or have water management devices installed on their properties, The city's "Day Zero" will come when all the reservoirs are empty, and authorities say this could be in early May. The level six restriction measures affect all sectors including domestic, industrial and agriculture in a bid to stretch out the water remaining. Councillor Xanthea Limberg, a member of the city's mayoral committe for corporate services, said they had employed all water saving measures in the book, and residents now have no choice but to comply. "We did the public naming and shaming, where we identified the top 20,000 users, and we released the names of the top 100 users. Moving forward, we will continue with our enforcement activities by issuing fines and notices to appear in court, to sustain our water supply going forward," Limberg said. The restrictions are taking their toll on residents. Housewife and mother Lucy Mazwi said the shortage had made her rethink her daily routine. "Whatever water I use in the washing machine, I use it for flushing . And when I wash my dishes in the morning, I keep that water so that I can clean the dishes again in the afternoon. I am just trying to save a little bit of water. As for the kids, they used to go for swimming lessons, but it's not happening anymore," she said. Will the new restrictions help in the long run? According to a new study published on 1 January in Nature Climate Change, more than a quarter of Earth's land surface will become significantly drier, even if the global warming limit of two degrees, as laid down in the Paris Agreement, is reached. Cape Town has been affected by a series of extreme weather patterns; from waves that were 8 meters (26 feet) high crashing against shorelines, to wildfires fanned by strong winds that killed seven people and destroyed property. But the biggest problem, for now, is the water shortage. One of South Africa's leading environmental lawyers, Terry Winstanley, says the city is quickly running out of options. "The prognosis long term is that the city can expect to receive less rainfall than it has historically. A possible other solution will be mobile desalination plants, which could address a short-term need," she said. The Cape Town authorities are already preparing for the worst. Once 'Day Zero' kicks in, there will be 200 water points stationed across the city. Each resident will receive 25 liters of water per day. Source: Deutsche Welle

South African death toll in Free State train crash rises to 12, rescuers search for more bodies

The death toll in the fiery collision between a passenger train, truck and car near Kroonstad in the Free State on January 4 morning has risen to 12, the provincial government has confirmed. Free State health spokesperson Mondli Mvambi told News24: "So far we have 12 confirmed." He said rescuers were still searching three burnt-out carriages for more bodies. The SABC however reported that the death toll had climbed to 14. Earlier on January 4, ER24 spokesperson Russel Meiring said at least 100 people were injured. A section of the train had burst into flames after colliding with the vehicles. Those who had sustained injuries were treated on the scene, before being transported to nearby hospitals for treatment. "Provincial fire and medical services were the first to arrive on the scene, finding that several carriages were lying on the side. A fire had broken out in one of the carriages and had begun to spread," Meiring said in a statement. According to a statement by Shosholoza Meyl, the train was travelling from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg. Source: news24WIRE

East Africa

Somali Government takes control of its own skies

The Somali government has retaken control of its air space after more than two decades. Air traffic over the Horn of Africa nation had been controlled by the United Nations from neighboring Kenya since 1992, a year after the Somali civil war broke out. Inaugurating the aviation control center in the capital, Mogadishu, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo said this is a sign the country is moving forward. "We are here today because we've worked together, stopped fighting among ourselves, we fought division," said Farmajo. "As you know, nothing will work if there is division and people are fighting among themselves. Today we have continuity. We are building on other things and strengthening and making an effort achieving things for the country." The president and government officials toured the newly equipped center on December 28, the day Somalia formally retook control of its airspace from the International Civil Aviation Organization. The U.N.'s aviation agency began controlling air traffic over Somalia after the county descended into civil war. Because of security concerns, the organization worked from Kenya. Somalia's aviation and air transport minister, Mohamed Abdullahi Salad, told reporters the entire process of controlling the country's skies will be complete in early 2018. "From December 29, the airspace of Somalia will be controlled from here. In the next two months, we will be working with others in Nairobi," said Omar. "This is not an easy process like moving from one house to another. It will require some time." Some critics say Somalia is still not safe, as al-Shabab militants continue to carry out attacks against the internationally recognized government and civilians. Airplanes have been avoiding the southern part of the country, instead flying into the north and northeast, where there is relative peace and stability. President Farmajo urged al-Shabab to let the whole country have peace. "To those who are against peace, Somalia is moving forward, and it's not going to stop for anyone," said Farmajo. "We are building the army and day after day they are getting better. We are telling you to stop what you are doing, killing your people. Come back to your people so that you can take part in rebuilding the country." Government officials say they will provide training to air traffic controllers and improve security at the Mogadishu airport, where the African Union mission in Somalia, which is fighting al-Shabab, still has a heavy presence. Source: Voice of America

In Somalia, corruption rife, UN says in year-end assessment

United Nations officials are offering a mixed but mainly negative year-end assessment of conditions in Somalia, while warning of a "grim" humanitarian outlook for 2018. Progress towards stability is being impeded by extreme drought and hunger, by Al-Shabaab's continued ability to slaughter large numbers of civilians, and other "enormous challenges," said Michael Keating, head of the UN Somalia Mission. "These include pervasive corruption, most obviously in politics, and powerbrokers' willingness to use violence, or the threat of violence, against opponents," he said in a review of Somalia's status. Noting that Al-Shabaab remains capable of launching devastating attacks, Mr Keating said the militant Islamist group "thrives, among other things, on the absence of functional local government and on the many conflicts around the country". And it is not only Al-Shabaab that threatens the country's future, he added. "Somalis deserve better than to watch as the most privileged compete for personal gain at a time when they face so much adversity and insecurity," Mr Keating said. In a bulletin issued on December 27, the UN's humanitarian agency cited a 10-fold increase in the number of Somalis classified as on the brink of famine -- from 88,000 in January 2017 to 866,000 in November. Overall, 6.2 million Somalis require humanitarian aid, the UN body said. "More than half of these require urgent life-saving assistance." Projections of below-average rainfall for the coming year indicate that Somalia's "unprecedented drought" is likely to persist, the bulletin added. "The prospects for recovery in 2018 remain grim," it said. Some achievements did occur during the past year, Mr Keating noted. He pointed to a coordinated effort by the government, business sector, civil society, the diaspora and international donors that succeeded in averting famine. A peaceful transfer of presidential power took place in 2017, Mr Keating pointed out. In addition, "80 female members of parliament took their seats, accounting for a remarkable 24 percent of both houses". Mr Keating concluded his assessment with an expression of personal optimism, saying he is "encouraged by what has been achieved, while aware of how difficult the situation remains". Source: Daily Nation

Somali Govt to receive US $ 50 million annually as it takes over Airspace from UN

According to Abdi Aden an official at the Somalia Civil Aviation the government is to receive a revenue least $50M after it takes over the airspace. Meanwhile ICAO will continue to receive the revenue on behalf of the Somali government until the complete handover. A new flight information and operation center was on December 28 opened by President Mohamed Abdullah Farmaajo that will usher in a complete take over of the airspace from the UN agency ICAO by the government in a few weeks. The opening ceremony was conducted at a colourful event at the Aden Abdulleh International Airport in Mogadishu. The new new flight info center will be Self-funded by air navigation service charges collected on behalf of Somalia by the UN. Within weeks the centre will take over managing airspace and provision of air navigation services from UN agency ICAO. The International Civil Aviation Organisation has controlled Somalia airspace from Nairobi, Kenya since 1992 a year after the country fell into a civil war. Source: Dasan Radio (Mogadishu)

Ethiopian Govt gives up tobacco monopoly for US $ 434 million

Amidst the forex crisis in the country, Japan Tobacco International (JTI) paid 434 million dollars, in full, to buy the remaining shares owned by the government at the National Tobacco Enterprise, raising its stake to almost a billion dollars. Recently, the nation drafted stringent laws to reduce the number of smokers, raising excise tax and preparing a new proclamation obliging the Enterprise to print graphic warning labels depicting tobacco-related health risks on its products. Girma Amente, minister of Public Enterprise (MoPE) and Christopher Nocke, Global HR manager of JTI, signed the pact on December 21, 2017, at the premises of the Ministry where the government agreed to transfer its 31pc shares to the Japanese giant. "We have received the full payment via swift transfer," said Wondafirash Assefa, public relations director at the Ministry. Based on the new accord, the Japanese tobacco producer, with the Japanese government as its major shareholder, will have five seats in the board of directors, whereas the remaining two are held by Sheba- which owns 29pc of the Enterprise. "The action of the government is not acceptable at all. It will push more people into addiction," said an expert who has done a study on tobacco products in Ethiopia. "Now, even with the applicability of the new law, it is difficult to control the Company." "Health warnings must be printed in colour on all tobacco products' packaging and labelling," said Yehulu Denekew, director of Food, Medicine and Health Care Administration & Control Authority (FMHACA). "Additionally, all tobacco-related laws will be organised and included in the new proclamation, unlike the existing trend." The bill is drafted based on the World Health Organisation (WHO) framework convention on tobacco control, ratified by the government almost four years ago, to curb the spread of tobacco-caused non-communicable diseases by lowering demand and supply. Furthermore, the Ministry of Finance & Economic Cooperation (MoFEC), along with WHO and FMHACA, conducted a study to bump up the excise tax by 10 percentage points to around 24pc, pushing the government's earnings from it to almost 800 million Br. Gizachew Hagos, the chief executive officer (CEO) of NTE, doubts the effectiveness of the reforms in reducing the number of smokers in the country. "The strictness of tobacco-related laws will instead expand the illicit market," said Gizachew, who has been heading the Company for 11 years. JTI, with a global market share of around eight percent, entered the Ethiopian market a year ago with an offer of half a billion dollars- a record high in the history of privatisation in Ethiopia- to buy out NTE's 40pc shares. It managed to secure the deal after vying with its competitors, Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) and British American Tobacco (BAT), the leading tobacco producer in the world. Being a significant shareholder of NTE, JTI will have a monopoly on import and export of tobacco products up until 2025, according to its contractual agreement. It will also have the same rights on production, harvesting, retailing and wholesale of tobacco products. "We have a plan to replace BAT's Rothmans and PMI's Marlboro cigarettes with our brand cigarettes," said Gizachew. Such contraband products control close to half of the tobacco market in the country. To reduce the share of these products, NTE, whose net profit stood at 18.5 million dollars last year, plans to double its market stake in three years through local sourcing and construction of a new plant at Qality on a 6.6ha plot. JTI's deal with the government is facilitated by the Embassy of Japan, according to sources. It enabled the Japanese producer to have a significant stake in the Company whose assets are valued at 45 million dollars, and annual production capacity stands at four billion cigarettes. Founded 117 years ago, JTI is amongst companies sued by millions of individuals for hiding the risk of tobacco on health in Canada, two years ago. A Canadian court ordered the Company, along with Imperial Tobacco Canada and Philip Morris, to pay 15.5 billion dollar compensations to the people, according to BBC. Source: Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa)

In Uganda, Museveni assents to Age Limit Bill

President Yoweri Museveni has at last appended his signature to the Constitutional Amendment Bill No. 2 2017, commonly known as the 'Age Limit' bill. Don Wanyama, senior presidential press secretary says the president wrote to the speaker of parliament through the clerk. "We have not yet received official communication as the communications department, but he has assented to the bill," Wanyama told URN. Parliament's director of communications Chris Obore says the president signed the bill on December 27, just seven days after it was passed by the 10th parliament on the night of December 20. Now with Museveni's signature, the Constitution has been effectively amended to remove the presidential age limit caps. Before the amendment, article 102 (b) barred people above 75 and those below 35 years from running for the highest office. The current age limit bill also extends the term of office of parliament from the current five years to seven years. The bill, however, restores presidential term limits which had been removed in a 2005 constitutional amendment that paved the way for President Museveni, in power since 1986, to contest again after his two five-year terms had expired. During their Christmas messages, many religious leaders openly opposed to the bill asked President Museveni not to sign the now controversial piece of legislation into law. Its passing on December 20 came at the head of episodes of violence in and outside parliament as security forces roughed up those opposed to the bill, including Members of Parliament. On September 27, the day Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi tabled the motion seeking leave of parliament to draft the bill, 25 MPs were forcefully evicted from the parliamentary chambers shortly after the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga suspended them over rowdy conduct. At its second reading on December 20, a total of 317 members of parliament voted in support of the bill, while 97 voted against. Two legislators abstained. After long hours of deliberations, as parliament considered the bill clause by clause, Speaker Kadaga put it to vote again, with 315 voting in favour and 62 against and two abstaining. In his end of year speech, President Yoweri Museveni praised the 317 MPs who voted in favour of the bill saying they enabled him "to avoid a more complicated path that would have been required." He likened them to his bush war fighters that helped bring him to power 31 years ago and the 232 MPs of the 7th parliament who removed presidential term limits in 2005. To the religious leaders, the president accused them of being so full of arrogance by meddling into everything including politics, forcing Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga the Archbishop of Kampala to respond in his New Year 's Day homily that religious leaders have a right to comment on politics. Museveni in his New Year message lashed at religious leaders saying they they "talk most authoritatively on all and everything even when they have not bothered to find out the truth." "This is assuming they do not have evil intentions which would be worse," said the president. But Archbishop Lwanga said religious leaders are citizens whose freedom of expression is enshrined in Article 29 of the constitution "if it has not also been amended." He said the "life of our nation" is not a responsibility of a certain group of few individuals alone." Before making abusive utterances against religious leaders and journalists, said Dr Kizito Lwanga, politicians should first read and understand the Constitution and appreciate that it is for all Ugandans. Source: The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda denies deal with Israel on African migrants

Uganda has denied partnering with Israel to host thousands of African migrants who have been ordered to leave the Middle East country within 90 days. "We have no agreement with the Israeli government to send refugees from other countries that are in Israel to Uganda. We are baffled with the reports," said Mr Henry Oryem Okello, the State Minister in charge of International Affairs. Without giving details, Mr Okello stressed in a telephone interview: "We have no partnership agreement with the government of Israel, ask them (Israel) to explain how they reached that decision." The minister's denial comes hardly a day after media reports that Israel government has issued a notice for thousands of African migrants to leave the country or face imprisonment. The migrants who are mostly from Eritrea and Sudan, according to report will be given the option of going to their respective home countries, to Uganda or to Rwanda. Described as infiltrators, the 38,000 migrants are said to have gone to Israel to seek asylum after fleeing persecution and conflict but authorities regard them as economic migrants. Livingstone Sewanyana, the Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) said that repatriation of refugees is only acceptable if they would not suffer harassment or mistreatment like those they flee from. "If Israel has ascertained that the conditions prevailing in those countries are conducive, it would not be in breach of international obligations. But if the conditions still warrant refugees to be protected, Israel would be in breach of her obligations," he said. Sewanyana, a human rights activist observed that Uganda as a host country would be in fulfilment of her international obligations to accord refugees' protection. "If they (refugees) do not render host communities in a condition of competition over land and other resources, there would be no problem. But if they create unnecessary competition, it would be advisable that Uganda does not render her borders unnecessarily open," Dr Sewanyana said. Source: The Monitor

Sudan turns out over 100 tons of gold in 2017

Sudan's Ministry of Minerals announced on January 3 that the country produced over 100 tons of gold in 2017 worth around 400 million U.S. dollars. "In the past year we produced over 100 tons of gold worth of around 400 million dollars, which is equivalent to the country's oil revenues before the separation of South Sudan," said Sudan's Minerals Minister Hashim Ali Salem in a statement. He said 80 tons of gold were produced by the traditional mining sector. He added his ministry is working to remove barriers of investment in the gold mining sector and combat gold smuggling. Sudan is seeking to make gold a major source of foreign currency after losing three quarters of its oil revenues due to the separation of South Sudan in 2011. Source: Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Beijing)

West Africa

Ex-soccer star George Weah wins Liberia's presidential poll

Former soccer star George Weah has been declared the winner of Liberia's presidential election. The country's electoral commission said on December 28 that Weah won 61.5 percent of the total vote and won 14 out of Liberia's 15 counties. Weah ran against Vice President Joseph Boakai to replace President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is stepping down after two terms, the maximum allowed under Liberia's constitution. The election commission said voter turnout was 56 percent - lower than the October 10 election in which Boakai and Weah were the top vote-getters, qualifying them for the runoff election. Observers said polling stations were better organized than during the October vote, and there were few reports of problems. The National Elections Commission said a woman who tried to vote twice was caught and arrested. Weah's running mate was senator Jewel Howard-Taylor. She is the ex-wife of former rebel leader and president Charles Taylor, who sparked Liberia's civil war in 1989 and is serving a 50-year prison sentence in Britain for his role in atrocities in Sierra Leone. Taylor still has supporters in Liberia, and his ex-wife is credited with helping Weah win key counties in the first round of voting. If all goes smoothly, Liberia will see its first peaceful and democratic transfer of power in more than 70 years. Source: Voice of America

Fuel Crisis – Nigeria senate committee summons minister, petro chief

The Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) has summoned the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, and Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Maikanti Baru, over the ongoing fuel crisis. The Chairman of the Committee, Kabiru Marafa, on December 28 announced that the two and other stakeholders in the petroleum sector have been invited to a crucial meeting on January 4, 2018. The announcement was made available through a press statement from the media office of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. Mr. Saraki had earlier, on December 27, directed members of the committee to cut short their recess and address the lingering fuel crisis. The statement noted that the meeting will be held on January 4, 2018 and will be aired live on the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA. The Senate, which is presently on Christmas and New Year break is billed to resume committee work for budget defence on January 9, and commence plenary on January 16. The fuel crisis across Nigeria has been on for about three weeks, with officials giving various reasons for it. Source: Premium Times

In Nigeria, herdsmen kill 50 in Benue communities

Suspected Fulani herdsmen have invaded five communities in Benue State, killing over 50 persons and leaving many others wounded.The attackers struck around 10:00 a.m. on New Year day and in the early hours of January 2.The affected communities are in Logo and Guma Local Government Areas (LGA) of the state. Sources told The Guardian that the assailants, armed with dangerous weapons, attacked a suburb of Ayilanmo and Turan in Gambe-tiev, Logo LGA, while residents were in church observing end-of-year prayers.They were said to have proceeded to Tomatar and Umenger in Guma LGA around 3:00 a.m. where they opened fire, killed some villagers and members of the state livestock guard and burnt a patrol vehicle. The governor, Samuel Ortom, described the incident as unfortunate when he visited the victims at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH). He said more than 20 persons were killed, nine of whom were personnel of the livestock guard."We are living in a country we call our own, yet this kind of thing is happening. The security agencies are aware of what you are seeing today and this is just a tip of the iceberg. What happened, from the report I have received, is far beyond what you have seen here. So many houses have been burnt. So many people have been killed. Some are still missing," the governor said. "Can you imagine innocent children and women being killed and their private parts removed? People were slaughtered like animals. The Federal Government must arise to this challenge and give us protection, to show that truly we are also citizens of this country. This is not fair. This is not right, and we cannot accept it. We may continue to be law-abiding but there is a limit to how far," Ortom added. BSUTH staff, Dr. Gajir Hembaor, said over 30 injured persons were rushed to the hospital, three of whom later died.The Police spokesperson, Moses Yamu, said his men were still combing the bushes, adding he could not ascertain casualty figures until he received a detailed report. Also on New Year day, suspected cult members murdered about 20 persons as they returned from church in Omoku, Rivers State.Condemning the killings, including that of a traditional ruler, Dr. Gambo Makama, and his wife in Sanga LGA of Kaduna State, President Muhammadu Buhari directed law enforcement agencies to intensify efforts at apprehending the perpetrators, adding: "I have always maintained that nothing justifies the taking of the life of an innocent person." In a statement by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, Buhari described the incidents as "reprehensible and unacceptable" and appealed to citizens not to embark on reprisals but allow security agencies to carry out comprehensive investigations.The Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, meanwhile, has offered to reward any person with information leading to the arrest of the culprits in the Omoku killings. At the residence of wanted militia leader, Don Wanny, the governor disclosed: "We have placed a N200 million bounty for relevant information that will lead to the arrest of all those involved in this unfortunate act of violence. Anybody who is connected to this crime in any way will have his/her house forfeited to the government. This place has been peaceful until this unfortunate mayhem. We will not allow another case of this violence. We have mobilised the security agencies to take the battle to the perpetrators." Emotionally stricken, he commiserated with the families of the deceased, assuring residents of the town that the government was working with security agencies to arrest the criminals. He promised that his administration would support the bereaved families in burying their loved ones, and also foot the medical bills of those who sustained bullet wounds. He was accompanied by the Brigade Commander of 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Brigadier General A. A. Bande; Commander of the Joint Task Force, Colonel M.N Madi; Rivers State Deputy Police Commissioner, Ahmed Magaji; and the Director of the Department of State Service, Mr. Tosin Ajayi. Senator Magnus Abe (Rivers South East) said the killings were an indication "that all is not well with the security network of the state. The state government should assist security agencies with the needed tools to tackle the rising insecurity. The incident is condemnable and should be condemned by every right thinking Rivers man and woman. Rivers communities should not be allowed to become havens for bloodthirsty hoodlums". The Omoku incident, however, has reignited a war of words between Wike and former Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, currently Minister of Transportation. At the Presidential Villa in Abuja on January 2, Amaechi said: ‎"The governor needs to get a bit more serious. He should stop encouraging militant groups in the name of politics and election. You heard about 21 only in Omoku. What about in Akutoru, where two people were killed? What about other LGAs? It never happened when I was governor. We stayed awake so the citizens could sleep. I think the governor needs to do much more or quit office." But the Rivers State Commissioner for Information, Emmah Okah, dismissed Amaechi's words as regrettable.He said: "For the avoidance of doubt, Amaechi's statement is false and an infantile attempt to gain political mileage from a senseless killing of innocent Rivers indigenes. The fact that he made such a statement in the precincts of the Presidential Villa is a sad commentary." Source: The Guardian

In Nigeria, suicide bomber kills own father, four others in Borno mosque

More than five persons were killed in early morning suicide bomb attack at Gamboru town in Gamboru-Ngala Local Government Area of Borno State. The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the incident occurred at about 5: 00 a.m., when a teenage male suicide bomber detonated an Improvised Explosive Device strapped to his body in a mosque at Yobe area of Gamboru. Rogers Nicholas, the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, confirmed the attack to NAN in Maiduguri. Mr. Nicholas said that five persons were killed in the attack as against 11 earlier reported. He added that the troops had also neutralised a suicide bomber at Rann, headquarters of Kala-Balge Local Government Area. "Yes, but only five killed and another suicide bomber neutralised in Rann". However, Lawan Abba, a resident of Gamboru, told NAN that 10 persons were killed and six others sustained injuries in the attack. Mr. Abba disclosed that the suicide bomber sneaked into a crowded mosque while people gathered to observe Morning Prayer and detonated the explosive. He revealed that the teenage suicide bomber hailed from Gamboru town, adding that the father to the assailant was among the 10 persons, who lost their lives in the attack. "The suicide bomber hailed from Gamboru town, he disowned his parents and joined the insurgents in the bush. "He entered the mosque blew up himself into pieces and killed 10 persons including his biological father," he said. Mr. Abba added that the wounded persons were referred to the clinic in the Internally Displaced Persons camp in the area for treatment. Source: Premium Times This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi
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