MonitorsPublished on Sep 08, 2016
Mediterranean Shipping Co. has introduced a container service between India and Africa to "improve transit times and enhance delivery."
Africa Monitor | Volume V; Issue XVIII | Mediterranean Shipping Co. launches India-Africa service

< style="color: #0069a6;">THE CONTINENT

< style="color: #163449;">MSC launches India-Africa service

Mediterranean Shipping Co. has introduced a new container service between India and Africa as part of what the Geneva-based carrier called an effort to "improve transit times and enhance delivery to those destinations." In a customer advisory, MSC said its weekly Cheetah Service connecting key ports in India, Pakistan, the Middle East and East Africa will use a fleet of five vessels, each with a capacity of about 2200 twenty-foot-equivalent units. The port rotation will be as follows: Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates; Karachi, Pakistan; Mundra and Nhava Sheva (Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust), India; Salalah, Muscat; Mombasa, Kenya; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Mogadishu and Kismayo (every three weeks), Somalia; and back to Jebel Ali. The service will begin with the sailing of the MSC Positano from Jebel Ali on September 7, according to the announcement. The Cheetah offers the following transit times from JNPT: 9 days to Mombasa, 12 days to Dar es Salaam, 16 days to Mogadishu and 20 days to Kismayo. The new service could prove a boon to the India-Africa trade, which stood at $72 billion in fiscal year 2014 to 2015, according to official statistics. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month paid a five-day visit to African nations in an effort to boost bilateral ties.Freight rates from Nhava Sheva to Mombasa and Dar es Salaam are hovering around $750 per 20-foot and $1,400 per 40-foot container following the August 1 general rate increases of $300 per TEU and $400 per FEU, according to local shipping sources. Source:

< style="color: #163449;">The future will be built in Africa — Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has said the "future of the world" will be built on the African continent. Zuckerberg made the statement during his first Sub-Saharan visit to Africa in Lagos, Nigeria on August 30. A small group of media were invited to a live-stream of the Nigerian event in Johannesburg on August 31."The thing that is striking is the entrepreneurial energy. I think when you're trying to build something, what matters the most is who wants it the most. This is where the future is going to be built," Zuckerberg said from Lagos. He said that once the world woke up to the entrepreneurial energy coming from Africa, the continent would begin to change the world."You feel that here, as soon as you get off the plane and start talking to people, you feel that passion and entrepreneurial energy," Zuckerberg added. His surprise visit to Nigeria, Facebook's largest African market with over 18 million users, was to learn more about the country with a focus around entrepreneurship and web development."If you want to connect everyone in the world then making sure everyone has access to the internet is a really important thing," he said. During his discussion with Nigerian media, Zuckerberg made mention of Facebook's key projects aimed at connecting developing communities to the internet. One such project, Free Basics aimed at providing people with access to basic services on their mobile phones in areas where internet access may not be as accessible as in more developed areas, is currently being brought to South Africans by Cell C."Whether you care about connecting people, friends and family or helping people startup businesses, the internet is one of the most fundamental parts of infrastructure that I think needs to exist," Zuckerberg said."Growing small businesses is an important part of communities. So far 60 million businesses have pages have been created on Facebook. We are giving people the same tools that only big companies would have had access to," he added. Source: Fin24

< style="color: #163449;">Rwanda, Benin endorse re-election of World Bank Chief

Rwanda and Benin have expressed support for the re-election of the current World Bank president, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, citing his capability and passion for development. The endorsement was made at a joint news conference by President Paul Kagame and his Benin counterpart Patrice Talon, who was in the country for a three-day state visit. The two leaders said Jim merits trust to continue heading the World Bank and that under his leadership the Bank had served the purpose it was set up for. The current World Bank president has been at the helm of the institution since 2012 with his first term coming to an end in June next year. President Kagame said from Rwanda's perspective, under Jim's leadership, the bank had performed well in supporting the growth of developing countries. "From my experience and perspective as well as that of Rwanda, seeing it in a broad sense, the Bank in general has done a tremendous job accomplishing the purpose it was established for, especially as it relates to development," Kagame said. The President said the World Bank chief's background in development was evident in his stewardship of the institution. "This particular president who has been leading it for the first mandate has a terrific background in development matters and has also demonstrated the capability to put that background into action and implementation of what needs to be done," he said. Kagame said having known Jim prior to his current position, his track record goes beyond his five-year term at the World Bank. Dr. Jim was one of the co-founders of Partners in Health, a global health organisation working to improve the health of poor people. "When it comes to development, he was development-oriented even before he went to the World Bank; he was one of the co-founders of Partners in Health, which has been very central in the area of development in the health sector." "In a broad sense of development, I rate Dr Jim very highly; he is a capable person and has the passion to do the work that needs to be done for the Bank and its activities relating to development which concern us as developing countries in particular. He has our full endorsement," the President said. On his part, President Talon said Jim has demonstrated interest in Africa's development meriting him the trust of the world to remain at the helm of the body. Talon said he does not expect any obstacles for the re-election of Jim from developing countries as he had proven to be a partner. "Dr. Jim merits our trust. This is an opportunity to express our support to his candidacy," the Benin president said. "Dr. Jim has strived to make the World Bank a partner of choice for African countries. The Bank has provided significant development support in key sectors of priority to Africa, including health, energy, infrastructure, social protection, urbanisation, environment, agriculture and education," a Rwanda government statement said. It added that under Dr. Jim's leadership, the Bank had shown unwavering commitment to stabilisation and progress of the Great Lakes Region through regional projects bringing together governments and the private sector. "The Bank also took the lead in the response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, through a multinational, multifaceted and localised approach. Dr. Kim's continued leadership of the World Bank will consolidate gains achieved in our countries and foster even greater collaboration to end poverty and improve livelihoods." Four years into his five-year term, Jim has reorganised the Bank, allowing the institution's expertise to move more freely across regions, reduced its internal bureaucracy and saved millions in operating costs. Source: The New Times

 < style="color: #163449;">Japan to grant Africa Sh1trillion for infrastructure

Japan has pledged Sh1 trillion ($10 billion) for infrastructure development in Africa. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said another $500 million will be channelled through international agencies to support health initiatives in the continent and combat epidemics.The PM also pledged to initiate reforms in the United Nations Security Council and have an African country get a permanent seat in the body by 2023. "UN Security Council is the most powerful body of the UN but there is no African permanent member in it...Japan is also eyeing a similar seat," he said. Mr. Abe was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad) in Nairobi on August 27. Speaking at the same function, President Uhuru Kenyatta urged leaders to push for fair global trade. He said, "there is a worrying trend for the developed world to turn inwards, even after benefiting from open trade before. Indeed, if we look back, the wealthiest countries today with very few exceptions, got rich by trading with others." The critical ingredient of prosperity in the last century has been free and fair trade, infrastructure integration of regions, educated citizens who enjoy economic liberty and responsible governments. "Yet there is now a turn among many countries, to turn towards more isolationist or grossly unfair positions on trade. I believe Ticad is a positive response to this trend," he said. The Ticad meeting, the sixth since 1993 but the first to be held in Africa, is meant to discuss development issues and the support of Japan for Africa. Source: Daily Nation

< style="color: #0069a6;">CENTRAL AFRICA

< style="color: #163449;">Burundi: Government could scrap Presidential term limits

A debate on whether to scrap Presidential term limits in Burundi is set to kick off after a commission formed last year to chart the country's political future said it was ready to present its findings to Parliament. Inter-Burundi Dialogue Commission chairman Justin Nzoyisaba said views it collected from across the country favoured removal of the two-term limit for the President. "More than two means that people said that they have to remove the term limits. It means that the president can go for as many terms as he wants if elected by the people," said the inter-Burundi dialogue commission chair Justin Nzoyisaba. Mr Nzoyisaba said this would necessitate a review of the Arusha Accord and the country's constitution which prohibit a President running for a third term in office. Burundi is just returning to relative calm after a political crisis set off by President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to run for a third term in office. He went on and won after the country's highest court said his first term in office was not by universal suffrage but by a consensus of parliamentarians under the Arusha Accord of 2005 that was meant to end the country's civil war. The Inter-Burundi Dialogue Commission was in the run up to the May 2015 election with a mandate to seek views from all Burundians on how to secure lasting political stability in the country. Mr. Nzoyisaba also said the public supported an all-inclusive government. "I can't specifically say what the Burundians said but I can note that they raised their concerns on the quotas of 60 per cent Hutu and 40 per cent Tutsi which disregards the twa ethnic (group)," he said. The Inter-Burundi dialogue commission will submit the report to Parliament for approval with the final decision being made by President of Nkurunziza. The Inter-Burundi dialogue commission consists of 15 members and includes 3 religious leaders, three political actors and 2 civil society representatives. Source: The East African

< style="color: #163449;">Angola and Vietnam to jointly combat illegal immigration

The Ministries of Interior of Angola and of the Public Security of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam opened on August 29 in Luanda talks for the reinforcement of the cooperation, mainly on illegal immigration and documental counterfeit. Speaking to the press after the start of the talks, the spokesman of the Angolan delegation at the meeting, Simão Milagre informed that besides the illegal immigration issue, the two ministries also intend to work together in the fight against cyber fraud and training of trainers. According to the official, the two delegations will also work on reinforcement of technical assistance on diplomatic assistance and other sectors to be identified. On the other hand, he reported that 19,424 Vietnamese people have legally been living in Angola, of which 18,157 have temporary worker visa. The official explained that the other Vietnamese citizens have other kinds of privileged visa, such as work permit and residence permit. The official did not give further details about the number of illegal Vietnamese citizens in Angola, but he reported that many of them are in illegal status. To the Secretary of State for Civil Protection and Fire Services, Eugénio Laborinho considered positive the cooperation between the two countries. Nevertheless, the official is hopeful about the success of the meeting, aiming to continue cooperating of the Ministry of Public Security with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. He explained that Vietnam is a country that has helped Angola since its liberation struggle in the fields of agriculture, health, construction and education, among others. On his turn, the general director of the Criminal Investigation Police of Vietnam, HO Sy Tien, said that his country cooperates with Angola on security, public order and diplomacy. He explained that his visit to Angola aims at reinforcing the cooperation between the both states, as well as the updating of the situation of illegal and legal Vietnamese citizens living in Angola. The Vietnamese delegation is paying an eight-day working visit to Angola as from August 28. During the stay in Luanda, the delegation is holding meetings with the provincial commander of the Angolan National Police in Luanda and with the Vietnamese community in this African nation. The agenda also includes the signing of the minute that will reflect on the understanding to be achieved between the two parties, under the visit. Visits to general commander of the national police, Barra do Kwanza tourist site, António Agostinho Neto memorial and the Central Criminalistic Lab are also part of the programme. Source: Angola Press

< style="color: #163449;">Government condemns Ping, warns French officials against 'Interference' in Gabon

The Gabon government accused President Ali Bongo's challenger Jean Ping on August 30 of trying to destabilize the country, and warned French ruling party officials against "interference" in its affairs. With both sides trading accusations of fraud after a bitter election campaign, there was concern the results, when they came, would trigger unrest. People stockpiled food, police manned major crossroads and soldiers were deployed at petrol stations and banks. Ping, a former foreign minister, African Union Commission chairman and lifelong political insider, is the main challenger to Bongo, whose family has ruled the oil-producing central African nation for half a century. Bongo's supporters say he is on track to win. The president was first elected in 2009 after the death of his father Omar, who ran Gabon for 42 years. Government spokesman Alain-Claude Nze told a news conference: "Jean Ping seems to be the instigator of a destabilisation that threatens the democratic process." His comment appeared to point to government concerns that Ping will announce a results tally independent of the electoral commission that will show him as the winner. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern about the issuance of premature results and called on Ping and Bongo to urge their supporters to show restraint, according to a UN statement, which said Ban had spoken to both men. Bongo's allies are also furious about a statement from France's ruling Socialist Party on August 28 declaring that early results showed Ping to be the winner. They accused French officials of carrying on the old politics of 'La Francafrique', an intricate, shadowy web of diplomacy and commerce that for decades kept African presidents in its former colonies, like Bongo's father, in power in exchange for privileged deals for French companies. "The socialist party by this interference, coming from the same members of La Francafrique, shows once again their inability to understand how African democracies function," Nze said. "The French socialist party is advised to respect our sovereignty." Authorities have also reacted angrily to an app set up by an Ivorian citizen that allegedly gives live results by region. Interior Minister Pacôme Moubelet-Boubeya said he would announce results starting on evening of August 30 after a meeting of the electoral commission and warned that any attempts at destabilization by publishing results would not be tolerated. Bongo's supporters say he is on track to win. The president was first elected in 2009 after the death of his father Omar, who ran Gabon for 42 years. Government spokesman Alain-Claude Nze told a news conference: "Jean Ping seems to be the instigator of a destabilization that threatens the democratic process." His comment appeared to point to government concerns that Ping will announce a results tally independent of the electoral commission that will show him as the winner. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern about the issuance of premature results and called on Ping and Bongo to urge their supporters to show restraint, according to a U.N. statement, which said Ban had spoken to both men. Bongo's allies are also furious about a statement from France's ruling Socialist Party on August 28 declaring that early results showed Ping to be the winner. They accused French officials of carrying on the old politics of 'La Francafrique', an intricate, shadowy web of diplomacy and commerce that for decades kept African presidents in its former colonies, like Bongo's father, in power in exchange for privileged deals for French companies. "The socialist party by this interference, coming from the same members of La Francafrique, shows once again their inability to understand how African democracies function," Nze said. "The French socialist party is advised to respect our sovereignty." Authorities have also reacted angrily to an app set up by an Ivorian citizen that allegedly gives live results by region. Interior Minister Pacôme Moubelet-Boubeya said he would announce results starting on evening of August 30 after a meeting of the electoral commission and warned that any attempts at destabilisation by publishing results would not be tolerated. Source: Voice of America

< style="color: #0069a6;">NORTH AFRICA

< style="color: #163449;">Libya's UN-backed government gets 'no confidence' vote

Libya's UN backed government in the capital, Tripoli, has suffered a major setback following a vote of no confidence by the country's eastern parliament. The vote on August 22 by members of the House of Representatives, which is based in the eastern city of Tobruk, rejected the Tripoli administration's proposed line-up for a government of national unity. "The majority of lawmakers present at the parliament session voted no confidence in the government," Adam Boussakhra, parliament spokesman, told the AFP news agency. A Government of National Accord (GNA) — led by prime minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj — was the result of a UN-brokered power-sharing deal struck in December. The August 22 vote was the first since January, when the parliament rejected an initial list of ministers put forward by the GNA's leadership, and the first since the UN backed government began installing itself in Tripoli in March. But the GNA, which had been seeking the Tobruk parliament's endorsement for months, has struggled to unite the country and assert its authority beyond the capital city. A rival government in the country's east has refused to cede power until the House of Representatives passes a vote of confidence. A total of 101 deputies attended the August 22 session, with 61 voting against the GNA, 39 abstaining, and only one voting in favour, according to officials. Parliamentary sessions in Tobruk have been repeatedly delayed or blocked as opposition to the GNA has hardened. GNA supporters, many of whom did not attend the vote on August 22, have previously complained that opponents of the UN-backed government have used physical force and threats to prevent voting from taking place. Western powers have been counting on the GNA to tackle Libya's security vacuum, revive oil production, and stem the flow of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. While forces aligned with the GNA have largely recaptured the coastal city of Sirte from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, it has struggled to assert control in other areas, losing support because of its inability to resolve a liquidity crisis, widespread power cuts and other problems. The conflict has turned the country into a nexus for people-smuggling to Europe and has enabled ISIL, also known as ISIS, to gain a foothold on the southern shore of the Mediterranean. Source: Al Jazeera

< style="color: #163449;">Algeria withstands, continues reforms despite oil market collapse

The worldwide drop in oil prices doesn't seem to hinder the momentum of reforms in Algeria which "withstands" to this external crisis and continues its socio-economic reforms. Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal reiterated, in Saida, that the country remains resilient to the collapse of the oil prices which has however halved its oil taxation. "Despite the collapse of oil market and the reduction by half of the oil taxation, Algeria withstands and continues to improve its economic performance," said Sellal in a working visit to Saida. Sellal said that the growth rate, the most important indicator according to him, remains positive, reaching 3.5% in 2016 and 3.9% in 2017, according to the forecasts. The Algerian GDP will rise from DZD 16,700 billion in 2015 to DZD 17,677 billion by the end of 2016 then to DZD 2200 billion in 2019, he underlined. This economic growth is drawn from "the strengthening of the national production notably in the industrial sector," said Prime Minister, calling the national agricultural operators to make further efforts in terms of exports. The country's currency reserves are "good" and will not fall under USD 100 billion by 2019, according to the Prime Minister. Concerning inflation, Sellal stressed that it remains stable between 4 and 5%. These achievements haven't been carried out by chance but the fruit of the socio-economic reforms undertaken by Algeria in terms of budget and trade policies, according to him. Sellal promised that the new model of growth, adopted on July 26, 2016 by the Council of Minister, will further preserve the Algerians' social gains. Source: Algerie Press Service

< style="color: #163449;">Egyptian, Jordanian PMs expected to sign cooperation agreements

Egyptian Prime Minister Sherief Ismail and his Jordanian counterpart, Hany Fawzy are expected to sign approximately 20 agreements of cooperation between the two countries on August 31. The bilateral talks on August 31 come against the backdrop of the twenty-sixth session of the Egyptian-Jordanian Joint Higher Committee, scheduled from August 29-31. According to the state-owned MENA news agency, the 20 agreements the fields of agriculture, renewable energy, housing, civil aviation, telecommunications, culture, and media. Jordan was among the countries that supported the military ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi after mass protests against his rule in 2013. Source: Aswat Masriya

< style="color: #0069a6;">SOUTHERN AFRICA

< style="color: #163449;">Health Scare — Mugabe quits SADC summit, rushes to Singapore

President Robert Mugabe on August 30 abandoned the ongoing Sadc summit in Swaziland after his health reportedly deteriorated. Government sources said Mugabe arrived back in Harare late August 30 evening and then left the capital just before 11pm. He had travelled to Swaziland on August 29. The SADC summit was due to end on August 31. "He came back today (August 30) because of health issues. It has to do with prostate cancer and is due to fly out early on August 31 to Dubai," one source said. Another source added: "He will be treated for urinary tract infection." Online flight trackers showed his Zim One Air Zimbabwe plane leaving Harare at 22:45 hours. The plane was last seen above the Indian Ocean, headed towards the Far East. Mugabe has reportedly been battling prostate cancer and regularly travels to the Far East for treatment although his handlers claim the trips are just for eye surgery. Pressure has been mounting on the 92-year-old Zimbabwean leader within and outside his ruling Zanu PF party. Opposition parties and rights activists engaging in protests almost every week demanding that he steps down due to old age. Veterans of the liberation struggle, a key Zanu PF affiliate, have also rejected Mugabe and declared they would not support him at the next elections which are due in 2018. Source:

< style="color: #163449;">Mkhwebane one step closer to Public Protector Office in South Africa

Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane is one step closer to becoming the next Public Protector after Parliament's ad hoc committee on August 30 adopted its report on the process. In a 15 minute no-fuss meeting, the ANC, DA, EFF, NFP, ACDP and UDM committee members adopted the report recommending Mkhwebane for the post. Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's term ends in October. The committee, which shortlisted and interviewed the candidates, was hoping to have the new candidate in office in time for a handover process. The report would be submitted to the National Assembly, to be debated on Wednesday, September 7. EFF leader Julius Malema said they would defend the report in the National Assembly. The DA reserved its position on the candidate and the report. The committee recommended in the report that the National Assembly put forward Mkhwebane's name to the president, who would have to sign off on the candidate. MPs recommended that the National Assembly look into establishing comprehensive guidelines for committees when dealing with appointments of public office bearers to independent constitutional institutions. The ANC chief whip's office on August 30 lauded the committee for completing the process by the August 31 deadline. "We commend the ad hoc committee, headed by chairperson Dr Makhosi Khoza, for the diligence, dedication and excellence with which it conducted its business," ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu's office said in a statement. The nomination process had been conducted with integrity, openness and transparency and parties had demonstrated political maturity and co-operated to ensure South Africans had a fit and proper public protector, the chief whip said. During the committee's last meeting, Mkhwebane was touted as the closest person they had to Madonsela in terms of qualifications, mannerisms, and handling questions. She was a lady of guts, IFP MP Themba Msimang said. ANC MP Grace Tseke said she had a fine brain. NFP MP Sibusiso Mncwabe said she was outstanding during her interview. "She is a very brave, young, but experienced black female and she has worked for that office before," he said. She also got Malema's stamp of approval. Source: News24

< style="color: #163449;">The US funds for fighting Aids in Malawi 'cash-gated' — America demand pay back

National Audit Office (NAO) audit has revealed that donor money amounting to K925, 918, 030.14 were looted from the health ministry's finance, human resources and HIV and AIDS department. The auditors pounced at the Department following request by the American Ambassador Virginia Palmer who had suspected that some dishonest employees were abusing the funds to spearhead a national response to HIV/Aids, a pandemic which has wiped out an entire generation of adults in Malawi and left over a million children orphaned. The figures have been under tight lid since the embarrassing scandal as Health Minister Peter Kumpalume said the stolen money ran into "millions." But Nyasa Times can now confirm about the figures which intial findings on the looting indicated that money amounted to K2.5 billion it has been reduced to K925, 918, 030.14. Auditor General Steven Kamphasa said his office cannot comment on anything on the matter since his office has already submitted the findings to the Ministry of Health. US-funded Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had written the ministry to complain that they suspected civil servants from the HIV and AIDS project were defrauding the government. US ambassador to Malawi, Virginia Palmer, is on record saying that that she hoped the authorities "will identify those responsible and that they will be held fully accountable for the misuse of funds intended to improve the health of Malawian citizens." Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr. Macphail Magwira said Malawi government will have to pay back the money and deal with the culprits. "We will not treat this issue with kid groves, we want to make sure that all those who were involved in such malpractice are brought to book using while using Section 39 of Public employment act," said Magwira. Malawi government suspended 63 seniors officials in the health ministry to allow auditors to investigate and audit the accounts. Those who were suspended included the Director of human resource, the Director of finance and two chief accountants to pave way for a thorough audit investigation over unjustified withdrawal of allowances and fuel abuse. Malawi, which depends on foreign aid for about 40 percent of its national budget, has suffered after donors withheld funding over a large-scale corruption scandal Prosecutors have in the past said one third of Malawi's government revenue is lost through fraud. Source: Nyasa Times

< style="color: #0069a6;">EAST AFRICA

< style="color: #163449;">Somalia: Truck bomb targets Syl hotel in Mogadishu, five dead

At least five people have been killed in a powerful bomb explosion near the presidential palace in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. Local media said the bomb attack on August 30, which partially destroyed two hotels opposite the president's residents, left 10 people, including a lawmaker, wounded. "There was a blast close to the SYL hotel area, near the main checkpoint of the presidential palace," said security officer Ibrahim Mohamed. A witness said he "saw a car speeding towards the area and huge smoke and fire went up in the sky." Local sources reported widespread damage to buildings in the area. Shortly afterwards, the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab militant group claimed responsibility for the blast. The Takfiri group said it attacked the SYL hotel because it "is close to the presidential palace, and also home to apostates and unbelievers." The hotel had already come under similar attacks in February this year and January 2015. Al-Shabab has carried out a series of deadly attacks in Somalia over the past years to try to overthrow the government. On August 26, some 10 people were killed in another al-Shabab car bomb attack targeting a beach restaurant in Mogadishu. A few days earlier, more than 20 people lost their lives when two bombs hit a local government headquarters in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region. The African country has been the scene of deadly clashes between government forces and al-Shabab militants since 2006. The group has been pushed out of Mogadishu and other major cities by government and African Union troops but continues to carry out attacks in Mogadishu. Source: Shabelle Media Network

< style="color: #163449;">Kinisu bows to pressure in Kenya, resigns as EACC chairman

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (Eacc) chairman Philip Kinisu has bowed to pressure and resigned. This comes just a day after Members of The National Assembly (MPs) recommended his removal from office. On August 30, after the MPs recommended that President Uhuru Kenyatta forms a a tribunal to investigate him, Mr. Kinisu said: "I have not read the report and cannot say anything about it. In the circumstances, you take things day by day." In his resignation letter to the President, Mr. Kinisu said that there had been adverse reporting of matters related to him and a business his family owned and that the State was using significant resources on the matter that to the fight against corruption. They warned that Mr. Kinisu faced imminent suspension unless he voluntarily stepped aside to pave way for investigations. "By virtue of his office and his relationship with Esaki Ltd, the chairperson's personal interests are in apparent conflict with those of the public in respect of the subject investigations," the commissioners said. On July 27 this year, the Daily Nation reported that Esaki Limited was issued a licence by the Pest Control Products Board on March 23, 2015, a day before the Health Ministry opened tenders for the supply of insecticides to the malaria control unit. Esaki Ltd won the Sh150 million tender and the contract was awarded on April 24. Two Local Purchase Orders, one for Sh 21,585,120 and the other for Sh1 28,583,000, were issued to Esaki Limited on June 10, the same year. Documents seen by the Nation showed that Esaki delivered 25,728 bottles of insecticide for both orders in two batches on August 10, 2015. Source: Daily Nation

< style="color: #163449;">New Railway line plan sketched in East Africa

The government has outlined a three-year timeline for the construction of a 7.6 billion US dollar (15 trillion/-) railway line — a major trade artery between Tanzania and its landlocked neighbours of Burundi, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Standard Gauge project, which is supported by China's Exim Bank, is scheduled to start anytime from now, the Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Professor Makame Mbarawa, has confirmed. "The planned standard gauge line from Dar es Salaam-Tabora-Isaka-Mwanza and Kaliua to Mpanda, Isaka to Lusumo and Uvinza to Msongati, some 2,560 kilometres will be implemented by three contractors and will take two phases," he said. Professor Mbarawa further noted that each contractor will need to complete the job in 18 months-time or about three years for the two phases. According to the minister, the Board of Directors of Reli Assets Holding Company (RAHCO) met on August 29 in Dar es Salaam purposely to issue a tender for the construction of the 200 kilometre stretch from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro. The standard gauge line is projected to take advantage of a planned 10 billion US dollar Bagamoyo port, discovery of natural gas and massive helium gas prospects in the country. Government officials had it that the iconic infrastructure would open up more trade opportunities, reduce road traffic and amicably speed-up economic growth in the eastern African developing country. Giving further details about the project, the transport minister said the new railway will have a speed capacity of between 120 and 150-kilometre per hour. He explained that the movement of goods and people from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza will take less than 12-hours, beating speedy upcountry region buses that spend more than 16-hours for the same trip. Technically, Professor Mbarawa said the current metre-gauge line takes more than 36-hours for cargo to move from Mwanza to Dar es Salaam. "In the first phase, we expect to construct about 1219 kilometres. The government allocated 1 trillion/- during the 2016/17 financial year while China will be granting a concessional loan amounting to 7.6 billion US dollars for the purpose," Professor Mbarawa noted. Apparently, he said, the project will reduce congestion, especially in the country's commercial capital of Dar es Salaam. Meanwhile, the government has announced it will embark on importing Diesel Multi Unit (TMU) modern trains to boost commuter services in the city. The plan, according the minister, will also include procurement of 35 new couches with the capacity to accommodate 100 passengers each. Preparations for the undertakings are at an advanced stage and Prof Mbarawa has said the Tanzania Railway Limited (TRL) would announce the tender for the project anytime from now. Source: Tanzania Daily News

< style="color: #163449;">EU commends Rwanda's stand on EU-EAC trade deal

Ambassador Michael Ryan, the head of European Union Delegation to Rwanda has commended Rwanda's commitment to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and East African Community member states. "I am very much encouraged by the approach of Rwanda. The approach of Trade Minister Francois Kanimba is very much in favour of the EPA and we would see no EAC country lose the ratification of the EPA with EU," , Amb. Ryan told journalists yesterday after his visit to Speaker Donatille Mukabalisa at the Parliament buildings in Kigali. Rwanda and Kenya are still committed to sign the deal while Tanzania and Uganda decided to delay the signing because of the Britain's vote (Brexit) to leave the EU bloc in the referendum of June 23. The EPA signing was expected on July 18 but was postponed until October 1st because the EAC states are divided on whether the deal will benefit the infant local manufactures or will see the big European investors dominate the EAC market. However, Minister Kanimba warned of the possible cracks in the region if the deal is not signed and urged the EAC politicians to consider the region's collective gains ahead of individual state's interests and sign the EU-EAC deal, according to The East African. Amb. Ryan said Brexit is an issue which is preoccupying for the European Union but Britain still a member of the EU as it has not yet triggered article 50 (of the EU charter). "I think there has been a lot of misconception in the EAC to say because of the possibility of Britain leaving, that our EPA has to be put on hold. There is no excuse for Tanzania or any other partner state to say 'ooh let's wait and see what the EU is doing before we go ahead on signing,'" he said, adding that EU has done everything to address concerns about potentials of European investors to dominate the EAC market. Ryan said that Rwanda is doing a great job in advancing the EPA and encouraged all EAC countries to go ahead and sign the agreement. "I think there are other relations on the table and Brexit should not be an excuse. There are many specific safeguards and measures in EPA to protect Kenyans, Burundians, Ugandan... investors. So, there is nothing to fear, we should go ahead. We negotiated this agreement last year, it is unheard of to stop and turn around on this agreement. So, it is a very unfortunate situation," he said. Though each partner state was to sign the EPA with EU individually, the EAC had undertaken negotiations as a bloc but things may change as some countries like Kenya and Rwanda are likely to negotiate the deal individually. The EU-EAC trade agreement would avoid paying up to 30% export duties from October, this year. Ryan's courtesy call to Speaker Mukabalisa on August 30 aimed to prepare the four-day visit of EU lawmakers to Rwanda from September 20 to share experiences about gender issues. Source: Rwanda Focus

< style="color: #163449;">Tanzania: WHC to capitalise on the government move to Dodoma

Watumishi Housing Company (WHC) will soon start executing mega project in constructing 500 houses in Dodoma to accommodate public servants on their way to the new capital city. The WHC Chief Executive Officer, Dr Fred Msemwa, said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the government decision to shift its seat to Dodoma is an opportunity for the organisation to capitalise to ensure there are sufficient housing units for public servants. "We have welcomed the government move and would immediately start constructing 100 units having different sizes to cater for public servants ability to purchase," he said, adding that the prices for the houses will range from 35m/- to 65m/- per unit. He said the government decision to shift its seat to Dodoma will foster demand and sale of the houses in the region. He said WHC has 50 hectares of land at Njedengwa investment area in Dodoma that could accommodate 500 units. The area has all the basic infrastructures including water, roads and electricity. He urged public servants to give priority in purchasing WHC houses because they are sold at affordable prices than building own houses that may be expensive to pursue. "Building a house using individual resources while renting a house may take long time to be completed, causing the construction costs to double at the end," he added. A total of 729 housing units were constructed in the first phase in five projects undertaken at Magomeni, Bunju and Kigamboni in Dar es Salaam, while other schemes were implemented in Mwanza and Morogoro regions. High interest rate is one of the major hindrances for most Tanzanians to access housing loans. According to the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) quarterly mortgage market report for the first quarter of 2016, interest rates offered by mortgage lenders ranged between 16 to 19 per cent. The government has, however, expressed its commitment to ensure loan interest rates are lowered in order to enable many Tanzanians to acquire loans. The current housing deficit in Tanzania is estimated at three million housing units with 200,000 units annual demand. Similarly, high value added tax on houses poses another challenge on affordability of housing to lower income earners. The BoT report says the government has created a special task force at the Treasury to address the VAT issue and discussions are at an advanced level with the matter set to be tabled in the coming budget. Source: Tanzania Daily News

< style="color: #0069a6;">WEST AFRICA

< style="color: #163449;">In Nigeria, Aero contractors suspends flight operations indefinitely and sends staff on leave

Aero Contractors Airlines on August 31 said that it would suspend all its scheduled services indefinitely from Thursday September 1. The airline's Chief Executive Officer, Fola Akinkuotu, said in a statement in Lagos that the management decision was part of the strategic business realignment to reposition the airline and return it to the path of profitability. He said all staff directly and indirectly involved in providing the services, would also proceed on indefinite leave of absence. "This business decision is as a result of the current economic situation in the country, which has forced some other airlines to suspend operation or outrightly pull out of Nigeria. In the case of Aero, the airline has faced grave challenges in the past six months, which impacted its business and by extension the scheduled services operations," he said. Mr. Akinkuotu said the impact of the external environment had been very harsh on the airline's operational performance, hence the management's decision to suspend scheduled services operations indefinitely effective September 1, 2016. This suspension is pending when the external opportunities and a robust sustainable and viable plan is in place for Aero Contractors to recommence its scheduled services. The implication of the suspension of scheduled services operations extends to all staff directly and indirectly involved in providing services, as they are effectively to proceed on indefinite leave of absence during the period of non-services. "We are aware of the impact this will have on our staff and our highly esteemed customers, hence we have initiated moves to ensure that we are able to return back to operations within the shortest possible time, offering reliable, safe and secure operations," he said. Mr. Akinkuotu said that both internal and external environmental factors had made it difficult for the airline to continue its scheduled services, leading to the management's decision. He recalled that, as part of its resolve to ensure the airline survived, unlike most other carriers that experienced short life in the country, Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) had appointed Adeniyi Adegbomire as Receiver Manager in February 6, 2016. Mr. Akinkuotu also noted that since AMCON's intervention in Aero Contractors in 2011, it had provided support for the airline to meet working capital requirements and fleet expansion.  When NAN correspondent visited the airline's counter on August 31, the ticket counters at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal (MMA2) were empty. (NAN) Source: Premium Times

< style="color: #163449;">Burkina Faso plans to withdraw its forces from UNAMID in Sudan

The State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Obeidalla Mohamed Obeidalla, has met with the State Minister of Regional Cooperation of the Republic of Burkina Faso who chaired the delegation of her country in the third session of the joint ministerial committee which concluded its meetings in Khartoum on August 24. At the meeting, Dr. Obeidalla has appreciated success of the meetings and gave a briefing on the current positive developments in the Sudanese political arena, including the peace negotiations, the national dialogue and the strategy for exit of UNAMID out of Sudan. The Burkinian Minister has praised the level of the bilateral relations between her country and Sudan. She expressed her country's thanks to Sudan for hosting a considerable number of Burkinian students at Sudanese universities. She affirmed that her country will withdraw the troops of Burkina Faso out of the UNAMID forces in Sudan, in compliance with the policy of Sudan in this regard. She said that Burkina Faso would establish its embassy in Khartoum shortly. Source: Sudan News Agency

< style="color: #163449;">In Liberia, the ruling United Party in disarray

The ruling Unity Party that has governed the post-conflict country for nearly a dozen year since it came to power in 2005, is not only in a power rigmarole, but it is seemingly divided over the removal of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, J. Alex Tyler, who equally and adamantly refused to recues himself when it was alleged that he received bribes from a UK based mining company to change the country's concession law. The party, through its national secretary general, Lenn Eugene Nagbe, said Speaker Tyler has lost legitimacy as Speaker of the House of Representatives and as such he should step aside because the party will not recognise him any longer. The Unity Party statement at the time came as a result of ongoing power struggle on Capitol Hill among members of the House of Representatives who called on the embattled Speaker to recues himself as speaker following his indictment in connection to the Global Witness bribery saga. But, in a conversation with newsmen on Capitol Hill in Monrovia, Grand Gedeh County Senator, Alphonso Gaye said the statement was unilaterally released by the UP Secretary General without the consent of party executives. "What kind of party are we running here, that one man will just get up one soon morning and issue statement representing the party without the knowledge of executive committee members; and I am an executive committee member," Senator Gaye claimed. The Senator iterated that he takes serious exception to the statement, noting that the country should and must not be governed in such a form and manner. The Grand Gedeh County lawmaker indicted that though Speaker Tyler has been indicted, he is still the legitimate head of the House of Representatives and he should be recognised as such, but he be given his day in court to exonerate him of indictment charges. The Unity Party lawmaker asserted that the action of the executive branch of government to recognize the anti-Tyler bloc is undemocratic despite being a member of the ruling party. The Senator said he believes that if the ongoing crisis among Representatives is not resolved, the job of every lawmaker is at stake, because according to him, if the executive wakes up one morning and does not feel comfortable with any lawmaker, certainly, said lawmaker will be booted out by his colleagues without following the law."I'm worried about you young people because for me am already old; if we  continue on such a path, I can clearly see our country going backward," the lawmaker said angrily. Source: The New Republic This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi.
The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.