Africa Headline News Tuesday, March 7, 2017

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East African: EU optimistic of trade deal with East African Community

(Xinhua)

The EU on Monday expressed optimism that member states of the East African Community (EAC) will sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Alessandro Tonoli, Trade adviser with EU Delegation to Kenya said the EAC Heads of State last year expressed the willingness to move ahead as a bloc so that they can continue enjoying the duty and quote free market. “We fully respect this and want to support EAC regional integration. We understand that our partners need some time to continue their internal process,” Tonoli said in a statement issued in Nairobi. “The EU respects the decision making process in the region and that we hope that the countries that have not done so yet will sign soon so that the EPA can be implemented and provide benefits to the region,” he added. He observed that negotiations went on for many years because the EPA deals with very complex issues, providing modern mechanisms to address them. Kenya’s Trade and Cooperatives Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed last week assured that Nairobi still has access to the EU market despite that the other East African countries failed to sign the EPAs. Mohamed said Kenya could only be limited to enjoy duty and quota free access market if the other countries completely fail to sign as outlined in the trade protocol. “Kenya has complied with the first condition of the EPAs protocol of signing and ratifying it. However, Kenya is likely to lose on other benefits such as European Development Fund (EDF) as the same demands signing of the trade framework be executed by the entire bloc,” Mohamed said.

Cote d’Ivoire: Country to bring 275 MW hydropower plant online next month

(Reuters)

Ivory Coast will begin production at a 275 megawatt (MW) hydropower station next month, boosting the West African economic powerhouse’s total capacity by around 10 percent, government officials said on Monday. Water from the River Sassandra began rushing into the huge dam near the southwestern city of Soubre on Monday and the plant is due to reach full capacity within four months. “We have finished construction of the dam ahead of our timeframe,” said Amidou Traore, director of power sector management agency CI-Energies which oversees the project. The plant was financed by a $500 million low-interest loan from China’s Export-Import Bank in 2013 and construction was by China’s state-owned hydropower engineering firm Sinohydro. Ivory Coast already has six hydropower stations and four more hydropower stations are due to be built in the West African economic powerhouse as part of a national policy to reach a capacity of 4,000 MW by 2020. Current capacity with the new Soubre dam is 2,275 MW. Unlike many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Ivory Coast has an enviably reliable power supply and exports electricity to neighbours Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo and Mali.

Ethiopia: Drought emergency spirals in Ethiopia amid major aid shortages

(Reuters)

Millions of drought-stricken Ethiopians needing food, water and emergency medical care are not receiving it due to funding shortages, the United Nations said, warning the crisis will worsen if spring rains fail as predicted. Some 5.6 million people need food aid in the Horn of Africa nation, which has been hit by a series of back-to-back droughts. “The needs relating to the developing emergency exceed resources available to date,” the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Monday. “Each day without food assistance exponentially increases human suffering, lengthens the recovery period of affected people, puts increasing pressure on humanitarian and development systems, and the interventions become that much more expensive.” It is three times cheaper to treat children who are moderately, rather than severely, malnourished, it said. But it takes at least four months to procure, ship and deliver emergency supplies to Ethiopia, it said. The U.N. appealed for more than $900 million in aid for Ethiopia in January. Almost 13 million people across the Horn of Africa need aid due to drought, including 2.7 million in Kenya, 2.9 million people in Somalia and 1.6 million people in Uganda, OCHA said.

Madagascar: Country braces itself for cyclone Enawo

(Radio France Internationale)

Madagascar is the target of an intense tropical cyclone. The cyclone, christened Enawo, will hit the northeastern shores of the country on Tuesday 7 March in the morning between 0900 and 1200 [local time], according to forecasts by the metrological department of Madagascar. It will continue on its path along the country’s central highlands tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. The authorities are calling on the people to be vigilant. Strong winds and heavy winds have been battering Antalaha and Cape Masoala, in the northeast of the country since Monday. The red alert, “notice of imminent danger “, was issued in all the districts of the regions of Sava and Analanjirofo by the metrological department of Madagascar.

Mali: Armed groups prevent Mali interim government’s installation in Timbuktu

(Reuters)

Armed groups surrounded Timbuktu on Monday, the defense ministry said, preventing Malian interim authorities from being installed there under a peace pact meant to end years of lawlessness. The return of state authority to the city was supposed to fill a vacuum that has turned northern Mali into a launch pad for jihadi attacks across the vast region bordering on the Sahara Desert. Banks, schools and shops were shuttered and the city’s streets nearly deserted, barring patrols by U.N. peacekeepers, and residents reported sporadic gunfire that had petered out by the afternoon. “Armed groups opposed to the interim authorities, which should have been put in place today, are positioned around the city and are threatening to take it over,” Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Sidibe said by telephone. He said the arrival of the new authorities had been postponed and negotiations were under way. A Reuters cameraman saw fighters standing on sandbags and wielding rocket launchers at an official checkpoint, their faces wrapped with turbans to protect them against the blowing sand. Most government posts have been unfilled since ethnic Tuareg separatists and desert jihadists took over northern Mali in 2012, before French forces intervened to push them back. A peace deal signed in 2015 was meant to enable authorities to return.

Nigeria: Governor guilty of corruption get 5 years’ jail

(Associated Press)

A Nigerian High Court on Monday convicted and jailed a former state governor for corruption. Bala James Ngilari of northeastern Adamawa state was found guilty of improperly awarding a 167 million-naira ($1 billion) contract to buy vehicles during his seven-month stint as governor that ended in 2015. Judge Nathan Musa said a fine was not an option and sentenced Ngilari to five years’ imprisonment. He said the sentence should serve as a warning to other governors to obey the law. Ngilari is the first senior government figure to be successfully prosecuted since President Muhammadu Buhari took office in May 2015 and declared a war on the endemic corruption that has impoverished this oil-rich nation. It was unclear how much Ngilari made on the deal. It occurred while his state was battling an Islamic uprising by Boko Haram extremists. Ngilari is the first governor to be jailed in Nigeria since decades of military rule ended in 1999. Former Delta State Gov. James Ibori was recently released from a British prison after serving half of a 13-year jail term for corruption. Ngilari pleaded innocent and begged the court’s leniency, citing his “invaluable contributions” to the fight against Boko Haram.

Rwanda: Country pledges more allegiance to regional integration

(Xinhua)

Rwanda President Paul Kagame has said that Rwanda is committed to supporting the deepening of integration of the East African Community (EAC) to achieve economic and social prosperity of the citizens within the region. He made the remarks on Monday while addressing a Special Sitting of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) which starts a two-week session at the Rwandan Parliamentary buildings in the capital Kigali. The EALA is the law-making organ of the EAC established under Article 9 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC. Being the legislative arm of the community, members are sworn into five-year terms. The regional parliament is responsible for, among other things, approving budgets of the EAC and debating audit reports. “East Africa is increasingly perceived as a region on the move. We have to continue to meet these high expectations. It is easier to trade and do business with each other and we are collaborating to expand energy and transportation infrastructure,” said Kagame. He noted that citizens of the EAC member countries move more freely than ever before and communication within the region has become more affordable and convenient.

Somalia: UN chief urges ‘massive response’ to avert Somali famine

(AFP)

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday urged the international community to take action to avert famine in Somalia where a biting drought has left three million people going hungry. Somalia is facing its third famine in the 25 years that it has been embroiled in civil war and anarchy. A 2011 famine left 260,000 people dead in the Horn of Africa nation. “There is a chance to avoid the worst… but we need massive support from the international community to avoid a repetition of the tragic events of 2011,” said Guterres. “It justifies a massive response,” he added. Guterres arrived in Mogadishu Tuesday morning for a whirlwind visit which will also take him to a camp of internally displaced persons in one of the hardest-hit parts of the country. He met President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, a popular leader whose recent election has sparked hope among Somalis of a more stable future for a country notorious for being the world’s foremost failed state. “The reason (Guterres) came here today is to show support and solidarity to the Somali people at this time of humanitarian crisis,” said the president, better known by his nickname Farmajo. “We have a drought which could result in a famine if we don’t receive any rain in the coming two months.”

South Africa: President Zuma picks first woman to head top appeal court

(Reuters)

South African President Jacob Zuma on Monday nominated Mandisa Maya to become the first woman president of the Supreme Court of Appeal, the nation’s highest court on non-constitutional matters.

Maya is currently deputy president of the court, which made world headlines in December 2015 when it upgraded the verdict on Paralympic “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius to murder from manslaughter for shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Maya, if approved, will replace Lex Mpati, who is retiring. Her appointment will have to be confirmed by the Judicial Service Commission, a 23-member body that includes the chief justice, minister of justice and lawmakers.

South Sudan: Ex-South Sudan general forms rebel group, vows to topple president Kiir

(Reuters)

A disaffected South Sudanese army general who quit his position last month announced on Monday that he had formed a new anti-government rebel group, underscoring mounting resistance to the rule of incumbent president Salva Kiir. Lieutenant General Thomas Cirillo Swaka, formerly deputy head of logistics, resigned after he accused Kiir of turning the country’s military into a “tribal army.” The military, police and other security branches, he said, heavily recruited from among the Dinka, Kiir’s tribe. Swaka was one of three top military officials who quit in February amid accusations of tribalism, nepotism, corruption and other abuses levelled against Kiir’s government. In a statement on Monday, Swaka said his new rebel group, The National Salvation Front (NSF) “is convinced that to restore sanity and normalcy in our country, Kiir must go; he must vacate office.” NSF would “fight to eradicate the malady that has badly tarnished the image of South Sudan,” he said. Oil producing South Sudan, Africa’s youngest nation, was plunged into its first war in 2013 after Kiir sacked his then deputy and political rival, Riek Machar.

Zimbabwe: Government to pay bonuses after civil servants sit-in protest

(Reuters)

Zimbabwe’s government on Monday agreed to pay outstanding cash bonuses, bringing an end to a brief sit-in protest by public workers, union leaders and a government minister said. “The issue that we were clamouring for, which is the cash payment of bonuses, has been accepted,” said Raymond Majongwe, secretary general of Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe. Doctors called off a three-week strike on Sunday after government approved increased allowances and created 250 new jobs, the same day President Robert Mugabe returned from medical leave in Singapore. Civil service unions said the 2016 bonuses would be staggered, starting with the army, doctors and nurses being paid in April, police in May and teachers in June. Prisca Mupfumira, the public service and labour minister confirmed the bonus agreement with the unions. Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has previously said the government requires $180 million for bonuses. The southern African nation had failed to pay civil servants their bonuses due to a lack of funds. An offer to substitute the bonus with land was rejected by unions. Reuters earlier saw signs the sit-in was not being adhered to everywhere. At the government registry in the capital Harare, officials were issuing passports and birth certificates as normal, while teachers taught lessons at schools in the city centre.

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

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