Africa Headline News Monday, March 6, 2017

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East Africa: Region on track to boost energy access, says World Bank

(The East African)

East African countries are emerging among leaders on the continent when it comes to putting in place policies on access to energy, energy efficiency and investment in renewable sources. According to a new World Bank report, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda — unlike many countries in sub-Saharan Africa — are taking progressive measures which include: A dedicated budget for electrification, capital subsidies for utilities to provide distribution systems to rural areas and direct subsidies to support the payment of connection fees by consumers. “As many as 40 per cent of sub-Saharan African countries have barely taken any of the policy measures needed to accelerate energy access,” notes the Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy (RISE) report. In Kenya, for example, the national utility firm Kenya Power developed a subsidy targeting end-users in informal settlements and low-income areas for connection to the national grid at a cost of $15 each. Ethiopia, Nigeria and Sudan are ranked as three of the most populous energy deficit countries, with a total unserved population of 116 million people. Worse still, the report shows that as many as 70 per cent of Africa’s least electrified nations with access rates below 20 per cent of the population have barely begun to establish an enabling environment for energy access. “The bulk of sub-Saharan Africa countries with the lowest electrification rate under 20 per cent are in the red zone on energy access, indicating that they have barely begun to grapple with this serious development issue,” notes the report. It adds that the battle to reach universal electricity access will be lost or won in sub-Saharan Africa, where on average, countries score only 35 out of 100 on the policy environment for energy access. It notes that Africa trailed Asia on all of the scorecard’s energy access indicators — energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy. India and Bangladesh have emerged as leaders in grid and off-grid solutions, the report notes.

Cameroon/ Nigeria: Some 62,000 refugees set to return to Nigeria from Cameroon

(BBC)

Cameroon, Nigeria and the UNHCR signed a tripartite agreement on 2 March for the voluntary repatriation of nearly 62,000 out of 85,000 Nigerian refugees that fled their country to the Minawao Refugee Camp in the Extreme North Region of Cameroon to escape the atrocities of the Boko Haram jihadists, reported Cameroonian state-owned CRTV on 2 March 2017. Cameroon’s territorial administration and decentralization minister, Rene Emmanuel Sadi, signed on behalf of his country while the Nigerian interior minister, Lt-Gen Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau, signed on his country’s behalf in the presence of the resident UNHCR representative in Cameroon, Kouassi Lazare Etien. The Nigerian interior minister said: “The Nigeria government has been making every effort to ensure that those communities in areas that have been taken over by the military are well protected after the military has won the war. The second part, which is more difficult, is how to win the peace. Winning the peace is part of this process that we have started.” Cameroonian Minister Sadi said: “The government will spare no effort to protect Nigerian refugees who are living on its territory.” The resident UNHCR representative said the agreement clearly stated that repatriation should only take place on a voluntary basis.

Cape Verde: Country targets 100% renewables reliance by 2020 Neil Ford 3 March 2017

(African Business)

Cape Verde has set a target of generating all electricity from renewables by 2020, which would make it the first country in the world to do so. The government originally decided to focus on a transition to renewables in 2010, when it set a goal for the sector to produce 50% of all electricity by 2020. However, such has been the success of its strategy to date, that it has now decided to double the target. Existing oil fired plants are expected to be kept for back-up.Wind power development on the islands has been driven by Cabeólica, a company that the government set up in 2010. It now operates four wind farms with combined generating capacity of 25.5 MW on four of the nine inhabited islands: Santiago, São Vicente, Sal and Boa Vista.The $90m development costs were provided by the European Investment Bank and African Development Bank. Cabeólica is now owned by the government, the Africa Finance Corporation, the Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation and InfraCo, which is a donor funded development company that supports early stage infrastructure projects in developing countries. All output is sold to the state power utility, Electra, which also holds a stake in Cabeólica. While donors and development agencies have driven renewable energy development in many parts of Africa, the motivation in Cape Verde has largely come from within, although there has been some external funding. Now, however, the government is keen to attract greater foreign, private sector involvement. Foreign investment Delegations of French and Chinese companies have visited the country in the past four months to assess the potential for investing in several sectors, including renewables. Following a meeting with potential French investors in December, Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva said: “Safe, reliable, predictable and with political stability, these are the natural resources of Cabo Verde.”Cape Verde is being particularly innovative in one aspect of its energy strategy.

Mali: Soldiers killed in attack on border base

(News24)

At least 11 soldiers were killed in Mali on Sunday in an attack on an army base near the border with Burkina Faso, as rival armed factions surrounded the flashpoint city of Timbuktu. The jihadist attack on the border village of Boulekessi killed 11 troops and wounded five more, according to an official toll from the defence ministry read out on national television. “One of our positions was attacked early Sunday morning by terrorists, on the border with Burkina Faso,” a highly-placed Malian military source told AFP on condition of anonymity earlier Sunday. French forces stationed in the troubled west African nation sent helicopters to help Malian forces assess the attack site, the source later added, and 20 soldiers had crossed into Burkinabe territory to flee the violence. A regional security source said the attack was carried out by Ansarul Islam, a jihadist group that claimed an attack in December in which 12 Burkinabe soldiers were killed. Ansarul Islam is led by Burkinabe Malam Ibrahim Dicko, a radical preacher who wants to create an Islamist “kingdom” in the region, experts say. There was no official claim of responsibility from the group. Dozens of soldiers were killed in a suicide attack on an army base on January 18 in Gao, northern Mali. But jihadist attacks like Sunday’s have increased in Mali’s centre, having previously been largely confined to the restive north. A resident of Douentza, the county seat near the base, said the assailants had looted or torched large amounts of military hardware. The Malian army told AFP that a team had been dispatched to assess the damage and provide reinforcements. Meanwhile in Timbuktu, northern Mali, residents said their city was entirely surrounded by rival armed groups, blocking all entry and exit points. “They have taken position everywhere outside the city. We are very scared of being caught in crossfire,” said the resident of Abaroudjou, a neighbourhood on the city’s outer edge.

Niger: Country declares emergency in areas flanking restive Mali

(AFP)

Niger on Friday declared a state of emergency in several western areas flanking Mali after a spate of deadly attacks blamed on jihadists from its restive neighbor. A government statement read on state television said a state of emergency would be enforced in seven departments of the regions of Tillaberi and Tahoua.

Security forces would now be granted additional powers including the right to search homes at any time, it said. The statement said repeated attacks in these areas “have endangered the security of the peaceful population and public order.” The zones affected are “Ouallam, Ayorou, Bankilare, Abala and Banibangou in Tillaberi and Tassara and Tilia in Tahoua”. Tillaberi and Tahoua have witnessed several deadly attacks on army posts and refugee camps, blamed by authorities on Malian jibadists linked to the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) group. These include a late February attack in Ouallam which killed 16 soldiers and wounded 18. And in October, 22 soldiers died in Tahoua during a daring assault on a refugee camp.

Nigeria: Women displaced by Boko Haram hold protest

(AFP)

Thousands of Nigerian women forced from their homes by Boko Haram jihadists held a protest on Sunday to demand better conditions as UN Security Council envoys visited their camp, an AFP journalist saw. The demonstrators accused local authorities and aid agencies of exacerbating one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, which the UN says has left northeastern Nigeria on the brink of famine. They also accused local aid agencies of diverting assistance that should have gone to the 15,000 displaced people living in the Teachers Village camp near the flashpoint city of Maiduguri. The women held their protest as 15 ambassadors from the UN’s top decision-making body visited the camp in northeastern Nigeria, seeking to draw global attention to the emergency affecting 21 million people in the Lake Chad region. The region straddles Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger. The UN envoys are visiting all four nations on their mission, which began Friday in Cameroon and will end Monday in Abuja. The humanitarian emergency afflicting the area was triggered by the Boko Haram insurgency, which erupted in Nigeria in 2009. Poor governance and climate change have also been powerful contributors to the crisis.

Somalia: Country says 110 dead in last 48 hours due to drought

(Reuters)

Some 110 people have died in southern Somalia in the last two days from famine and diarrhoea resulting from a drought, the prime minister said on Saturday, as the area braces itself for widespread shortages of food. In February, United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said the drought in Somalia could lead to up to 270,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition this year. “It is a difficult situation for the pastoralists and their livestock. Some people have been hit by famine and diarrhoea at the same time. In the last 48 hours 110 people died due to famine and diarrhoea in Bay region,” Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire’s office said in a statement. “The Somali government will do its best, and we urge all Somalis wherever they are to help and save the dying Somalis,” he said in the statement released after a meeting of a famine response committee. In 2011, some 260,000 people starved to death due to famine in Somalia. The country also continues to be rocked by security problems, with the capital Mogadishu and other regions controlled by the federal government coming under regular attack from al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab.

South Africa: Millions of South Africans will be paid benefits on April 1- minister

(Reuters)

The government will continue paying millions of South Africa’s most vulnerable people social security payments on April 1, despite not signing a new deal with an existing service-provider, the minister of social development said on Sunday. The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) is scrambling to ensure that as many as 17 million people continue to receive their money, despite concerns that retaining the existing service provider is both unlawful and costly. For millions of South Africa’s most vulnerable, SASSA money is often the difference between an empty or a full belly. “We will continue paying social grants beyond March 31 when the contract with the current service provider comes to an end,” Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini told the media. “As has been the case in the past no one will go unpaid.” Dlamini said the South African Post Office’s more than 2,600 outlets will be used as one of the payment services for social security in the transition and future phases. In an attempt to resolve the looming crisis, President Jacob Zuma held talks on Saturday with Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan and Dlamini to ensure that social security payments are made from April 1. The existing contract, run by Cash Paymaster Services, part of technology company Net1 1 UEPS Technologies, has been in doubt since South Africa’s highest court ruled in 2014 that the tender process to acquire its services was unlawful. It ordered that a new contract to be negotiated. SASSA has so far failed to find a new service provider to take up the service at the start of April or set up its own payment agency.

Uganda: Economy resilient despite setbacks

(Africa Business)

The Ugandan economy is performing surprisingly well, despite the long delay in bringing oil production on stream and the impact of war in neighbouring South Sudan. The IMF is more optimistic now than last year, particularly because of the influence of interest rate cuts. Continued progress will depend on the development of a string of planned infrastructural projects. It is now almost a decade since commercial volumes of oil were first discovered in the Ugandan half of the Kivu Basin, on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Crude oil reserves in the area are estimated at 6.5bn barrels.

The big obstacle to development was always going to be how to transport the oil to international markets. There were also disagreements over changes in the composition of the project consortium, partly relating to tax. The government was initially keen to oversee the construction of a huge 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) refinery in Uganda in the first instance, but it has now accepted the development of a far smaller plant. The lion’s share of crude output will now be piped to the coast via a pipeline to the Tanzanian port of Tanga. The project consortium now comprises Tullow Oil, Total and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), and first oil is expected by the end of 2020. Kampala had set a target of achieving middle income status by 2020 but this is now unrealistic given that it would require double digit annual economic growth to reach that level. The government predicts that GDP will grow by 4.5% in the year to the end of this June and 5.5% for fiscal year 2017-18. The economy has also been affected by the impact of drought across the region and civil war in neighbouring South Sudan. The World Bank forecasts economic growth of 5.0% for 2016-17 and 5.2% for 2017-18, on the back of increased investment in the oil industry and infrastructure projects, including the extension of the new standard gauge railway from Kenya into Uganda. Even aside from existing oil projects, the government expects to issue new exploration licences over the next 18 months. The World Bank said that they could “accelerate foreign direct investment inflows, infrastructure development, employment and the development of local industries.”

Tanzania: World Bank approves funding for Tanzania Strategic Cities Project

(Construction Review Online)

The World Bank Group dedication to carry on supporting Tanzania was reaffirmed after it approved US $130 million (Sh275 billion) intended at financing the Tanzania Strategic Cities Project (TSCP). The Tanzania Strategic Cities Project, which is going on, began in 2010 in different cities and towns across the nation. At first, the project was expected to cost a sum of US $175.5 million (about Sh370 billion). A World Bank statement released yesterday showed that the US $130 million was an addition to the US $175.5 million early amount of the project; of which US $163 million was from the World Bank and US $12.5 million was from Denmark. The funds are for the seven strategically significant cities of Arusha, Dodoma, Tanga, Kigoma, Mwanza, Mtwara and Mbeya, meant to facilitate them to keep up with the pace of quick urbanization. The project, which at first was intended to be finished by December 2017, received some extra financing in 2014 to the tune of US $50 million from the World Bank and US $6 million from the Danish International Development Agency (Danida). The present extra financing should cater for the project’s vital objective of boosting the quality of and access to basic urban services in the participating Local Government Authorities (LGAs). The WB Country Director for Tanzania, Malawi, Somalia and Burundi, Ms Bella Bird, held that the enhancement of services in Tanzania’s medium-sized cities wanted to provide a chief boost to the triumph of the state’s industrial sector. “Improving services in Tanzania’s medium-sized cities is serious to supporting the government’s industrialization goals,” she said. Ms Bird further affirmed that the cities play a key role in strengthening broader regional development, to connect people with markets and offer the foundation to encourage the growth of industries across the nation.

 

(Africa News Bureau <africanewsbureau@worldbank.org>)

Africa International

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