Tanzania scraps levy on electronic transactions after outcry

Tanzania has scrapped the recently introduced levies on electronic transactions following public outcry.

The decision was announced by the Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Mwigulu Nchemba, in Parliament on Tuesday when he was responding to questions from the legislators.

The government imposed the levy in July this year on bank withdrawals done over the counter, ATMs and interbank transfers and mobile wallets.

“The amendments made are to cancel the levies for transferring money from banks to mobile networks (both sides) and for transferring money within one bank,” he said.

Dr Nchemba said that the new changes would take effect on October 1.

He said the move aims to reduce the scope of charges, stimulate cash transactions, simplify levies and prevent double taxation.

The government has also cancelled levies on electronic money transfers from one bank to another.

Transaction fees for cash withdrawal through bank agents and ATMs for amounts not exceeding Tsh30,000 ($12.87) have also been waived.

At the same time, the government has abolished withholding tax on rental properties collected from tenants and instead returned the responsibility to the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).

“I would like to emphasise that the withholding tax is not for the tenant but should be paid by the landlord who receives income from investment or rental business,” he said.

Dr Nchemba ordered the collected monies refunded from government expenditure savings so as not to affect services and development projects.

“Let’s cut tea, snacks, domestic and foreign trips for the officials of our ministries as the President (Samia Suluhu Hassan) has instructed. Let’s cut training, seminars, concerts, workshops,” he said.

“The government expected to collect approximately Tsh500 billion ($213.51 million) shillings from mobile and bank transactions levies,” said Dr Nchemba.

Tanzanians have been decrying the high costs, with businesses saying they have witnessed a decline in online purchases as people avoid electronic transactions.

The outcry led President Suluhu to direct a review.

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Tanzania has scrapped the recently introduced levies on electronic transactions following public outcry. The decision was announced by the Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Mwigulu Nchemba, in Parliament on […]

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Ruto to rally African leaders on climate change

enya’s President William Ruto will use his maiden trip to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York to rally African peers to raise their voice on the danger of climate change.

Africa is expected to be take the biggest hit from climate change.

Dr Ruto is expected in New York on Tuesday afternoon to attend the 77th UN General Assembly. He will be travelling from London where he had attended the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday.

A tentative programme from the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Ruto will meet African heads of state to discuss climate change and its effects, including the ongoing drought in the Horn of Africa and flooding in Sudan.

“In his capacity as Coordinator, President Dr Ruto will also chair a meeting of the Conference of African Heads of State on Climate Crisis (CAHOSCC),” said a dispatch from the Ministry on Monday.

“The 77th UNGA coincides with the worst drought in the Horn of Africa with many countries in the region, including Kenya, are experiencing unprecedented effects in the last forty years.

“At the United Nations Headquarters, Kenya will seek to promote its foreign policy at the multilateral system including enhancing participation in the quest for realisation of SDGs and global leadership in emerging issues including climate change.”

Dr Ruto is scheduled to address the General Assembly for the first time as head of state, although he had given a speech here in 2016 then as Deputy President representing President Uhuru Kenyatta.

According to the schedule of speeches publicised by the UN, he will speak in the afternoon on Wednesday just after the Slovenian representative.

US President Joe Biden will kick off the speeches and will be followed by representatives from Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Zambia, Libya and Moldova.

As is tradition, leaders converge in New York every September for the UNGA where they give speeches, hold bilateral meetings and attend mini conferences on issues important to their countries.

This year’s UNGA theme is “A watershed moment: Transformative solutions to interlocking challenges”, under which leaders are expected to discuss the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the global energy crisis, climate change, and the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In his inauguration speech last week, Dr Ruto promised to place climate change among priority items to deal with.

“Among the central concerns of my government will be climate change. In our country, women and men, young people, farmers, workers and local communities suffer the consequences of climate emergency,” he said, suggesting he will encourage alternatives to fossil fuels.
“Africa has the opportunity to lead the world. We have immense potential for renewable energy. Reducing costs of renewal energy technologies make these the most viable energy source. We call on all African states to join us in this journey.”

Egypt is due to host the upcoming UN Conference of Parties (Cop27) on climate change in November. And African countries have demanded financial backing to pledges meant to lower temperature rise and for technological transfer to help adapt to changes. 

At the UN, Kenya is finishing its final year as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and Dr Ruto is expected to meet with various leaders whose countries sit on the Council.

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Uganda confirms Ebola outbreak

Uganda has confirmed one case of Ebola in the central Mubende District, high-level government officials briefed on the matter said late Monday.

Senior Ministry of Health staff rushed to Mubende to investigate after unknown number of residents succumbed to what was initially reported as a “strange illness” until Monday’s confirmation.

“Uganda confirms an outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Mubende District, Uganda. The confirmed case is a 24 year old male a resident Ngabano village of Madudu Sub County in Mubende District presented with EVD symptoms and later succumbed,” the Health ministry said.

Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng was reported to be in New York, and sources said officials first briefed President Museveni. 

The Democratic Republic of Congo, which neighbours Uganda to the west, is currently battling an outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease, which causes a deadly haemorrhagic fever. 

According to the World Health Organization, the disease is transmitted to people from animals and spreads through human-to-human infection.

Uganda has had at least three previous outbreaks of Ebola, the deadliest being in 2000 that killed hundreds, including the lead treatment officer Dr. Matthew Lukwiya.

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Uganda has confirmed one case of Ebola in the central Mubende District, high-level government officials briefed on the matter said late Monday. Senior Ministry of Health staff rushed to Mubende […]

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Tanzanian minister calls for talks over water shortage in the capital

Tanzania is organising a meeting of stakeholders to discuss ways of ending water shortage in the capital Dodoma.

Minister for Water Jumaa Aweso on Sunday announced plans to convene the meeting when he launched the third phase of the country’s Water Sector Development Program, a five-year initiative estimated to cost $6.5 billion.

He said the meeting will be attended by officials from the Ministry of Finance and Planning and development partners.

He, however, did not confirm when the meeting would take place.

Aweso said the national capital of Dodoma should be supplied with adequate water to meet the demands of a growing city.

Residents and leaders have for a long time complained of water crisis in Dodoma.

Earlier this year, Tanzania and the African Development Bank signed a $125.2 million loan agreement for a project that will help address water shortages in three districts in the country’s Dodoma region.

Read: Dar es Salaam hit by power, water rationing as rivers dry up

The Dodoma Resilient and Sustainable Water Development and Sanitation Program (Phase I) is set to benefit more than two million residents in the Bahi, Chemba and Chamwino districts, which have suffered droughts and recorded high population growth.

Last November, the country’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam faced power and water rationing blamed on low water volumes in rivers and dams following a drought.

The dire situation has prompted the Law and Human Rights Center (LHRC) to call on the government to take short and long-term measures to mitigate the situation.

The LHRC urged the government to adopt strategies to ensure sufficient supply of water, including digging deep wells, monitoring water sources and taking measures to ensure they work efficiently. The LHRC also urged the government to allocate a sufficient budget for water harvesting projects.

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Tanzania is organising a meeting of stakeholders to discuss ways of ending water shortage in the capital Dodoma. Minister for Water Jumaa Aweso on Sunday announced plans to convene the […]

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Uganda on alert as malaria cases and deaths rise

A resurgence of malaria cases and deaths in Uganda is worrying the medical fraternity amid reported shortage of medicines.

According to Jimmy Opigo, the programme manager for malaria control at the Ministry of Health, preliminary findings point to a drop in usage of mosquito nets, mutation of the malaria parasite and increase in drug resistance.

“We are also studying whether Covid-19 could have had some impact,” Dr Opigo said.

Some private and public hospitals in high risk districts are reporting an increase in the number of malaria patients seeking treatment in the facilities, health workers said.

“Most of the inpatients at our facility are malaria patients although we have many outpatients coming in daily. Most of the drugs we have been stocking for the bigger part of this year are malaria drugs,” said Annet Nsole, a lab technician at Kasana Health Centre in Luweero district.

According to August data from the Ministry of Health, about 46 districts across the country are currently experiencing a surge in the number of new malaria infections.

“We have made some progress. We had over 70 districts, and we are now down to 40. But it’s still one third of the country, and that is really high,” Dr Opigo said.

In the last two weeks of August, the country registered 199,695 new cases with 35 deaths. Since the peak of the upsurge in January, the average number of bi-weekly new infections stood between 200,000 and 250,000.

This year’s figures are higher than last year’s average of between 100,000 and 120,000 new bi-weekly infections, Health ministry’s data shows.

The ministry has reported that about 23 percent of districts lack enough Artemisinin-based combination therapy stocks for treatment of patients.

Increased supplies

“This is mostly because of logistical constraints. But currently as government, we are increasing supplies in terms of medicine and mosquito nets in high risk areas. In some others, we are spraying. We are now enhancing case investigation and running media campaigns to create awareness within the population,” Dr Opigo said.

But most of these interventions have been constrained by limited funds.

According to Dr Opigo, the Health ministry spends about $140 million annually in the fight against malaria but the current upsurge has created a funding gap. Recently, the ministry secured $14 million from the Global Fund to help them finance the current upsurge, but officials say more funding is still needed.

“We run long-term grants of about three to four years so what we did was to call forward the money for 2023 to help us increase medicine supply mostly. We are sourcing for more so we can be able to fill the gaps created by the increasing consumption arising from the upsurge,” Dr Opigo said.

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Concerns as Africa struggles to contain drug-resistant pathogens

Africa’s low testing on anti-microbial resistance has been blamed on lack of lab facilities. A study across 14 sub-Saharan Africa found that only five out of the 15 antibiotic-resistant pathogens prioritised by the World Health Organisation for surveillance are being consistently tested — and all five had a higher-than-expected prevalence.

The patchy surveillance is compounding an obscure but complex problem that threatens to jeopardise achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and lead up to catastrophic health outcomes.

In the countries included in the study only 1.3 percent of medical laboratories there conduct any bacteriology testing.

The erratic use of available antibiotics, also contributes to resistance.

New data on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) from the 14 countries released Thursday at a meeting held at the African Union in Addis Ababa, reveals the under-reported depth of the AMR crisis.

“When pathogens are repeatedly exposed to an insufficient dose or an abbreviated treatment time of antimicrobials they may survive and evolve into resistant strains. These new strains lose their susceptibility to antimicrobials that had previously been effective — creating antimicrobial resistance. Resistant pathogens can be transmitted through contamination, but also can pass their mutation mechanisms to similar ‘bystander’ pathogens, and the resistant infections spread,” said the study.

The results provide stark insights on a health situation the research describes as dire and “a crisis within the crisis” that needs urgent policy interventions.

The report says AMR pathogens of immediate concern include Enterobacterales a large order of bacteria that includes E.coli, a common food poisoning infection, and Klebsiella pneumoniae, a common infection in health care settings. More than half of all samples tested were resistant to penicillins and cephalosporins.

Poor data foundations

More than 40 percent of samples tested were classified as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a lethal pathogen, drug resistance combination that globally accounted for more than 100,000 deaths in 2019. It is the source of a skin infection that can turn deadly if drug resistant.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is bacteria common in hospitalised patients can cause infections in the blood, lungs (pneumonia), and other parts of the body after surgeries. More than 30 percent of samples tested were resistant to Carbapenems, a class of antibiotics used to treat infections that have not responded to commonly available drugs. Resistance to these is a grave threat.

The researchers warned, “Failing to consistently test for all priority resistant pathogens translates to substandard care, where antimicrobials are used to treat infections without first determining whether they will be effective. But retrospective lab records collected also revealed that clinical and treatment data were not included in lab results.”

“Africa is struggling to fight drug-resistant pathogens, just like the rest of the world,” said Director of Science and New Initiatives of the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM), Dr Pascale Ondoa. “This study shines much-needed light on the crisis within the crisis.”

The results of the study, which was supported by the Fleming Fund, provide insights into the AMR burden and antimicrobial consumption in the 14 countries; areas where most available data on AMR is only based on statistical modelling.

The WHO has warned that AMR is one of our time’s leading global public health threats. A study estimated that, in 2019, nearly 1.3 million deaths globally were attributed to antimicrobial resistant bacterial infections. Africa had the highest mortality rate from AMR infections in the world, with 24 deaths per 100,000 attributable to AMR.

Furthermore, current estimates of AMR are based on poor data foundations in low- and middle income countries, and especially in Africa, hence limiting understanding of the efficacy of commonly used antimicrobials as well as the drivers of resistance in humans.

Across the 14 countries, clinical and treatment data are not being linked to lab results, making it hard to understand what’s driving AMR. Out of almost 187,000 samples tested for AMR, around 88 percent had no information on patients’ clinical profile, including diagnosis or origin of infection, presence of indwelling devices (such as urinary catheters, feeding tubes and wound drains) often associated with development of healthcare-associated infection, comorbidities, or antimicrobial usage.

Based on the findings, MAAP is calling for a drastic increase in the quality and quantity of AMR and AMC data being collected across the continent, along with revised AMR control strategies and research priorities.

“The future of modern medicine and our ability to treat infectious diseases reliably hinges on our ability to control AMR,” said Director and President, One Health Trust Dr Ramanan Laxminarayan.

Researchers found that most laboratories across Africa are not ready for AMR testing with only 1.3 percent of the 50,000 medical laboratories forming the laboratory networks of the 14 participating countries conduct bacteriology testing. And of those, only a fraction can handle the scientific processes needed to evaluate AMR. Researchers also found that in eight of the 14 countries, more than half of the population is out of reach of any bacteriology laboratory.

“Across Africa, even where data on AMR is collected, it is not always accessible, often recorded by hand, and rarely consolidated or shared with policy makers,” said chief executive officer for ASLM, Nqobile Ndlovu.

“As a result, health experts are flying blind and cannot develop and deploy policies that would limit or curtail antimicrobial resistance.”

“This study is an important step forward for Africa’s health systems and the health of people across the continent. I hope MAAP inspires more investment in essential data collection and desperately needed resources.”

According to the researchers, while the common understanding is that AMR is usually driven by incorrect or excessive consumption of antimicrobials, many African populations still lack access to effective and affordable medicines, emphasizing the need to address AMR by improving universal health. Little information exists on how resistance patterns are affected by the use of standard (and non-standard) antimicrobial medicines in human health or in agriculture and food production systems — those used to produce livestock, crops, fish, and even in beekeeping.

There is also a dearth of information on antimicrobial consumption and antimicrobial use in Africa — both in human medicine and for agriculture and food production systems. Without understanding antimicrobial usage, effectiveness and resistance patterns, health experts cannot develop and deploy policies that would limit or curtail AMR.

“The disconnect between patient data and antimicrobial resistance results, coupled with the extreme antimicrobial resistance burden, makes it incredibly difficult to provide accurate guidelines for patient care and wider public health policies,” said Dr Yewande Alimi, Africa CDC AMR Programme Coordinator. “Hence, collecting and connecting laboratory, pharmacy and clinical data will be essential to provide a baseline and a reference for public health actions.”

Antibiotic groups

The research also found that only four drugs comprised more than two-thirds (67 percent) of all the antibiotics used in healthcare settings. Stronger medicines to treat more resistant infections (such as severe pneumonia, sepsis, and complicated intra-abdominal infections) were not available, suggesting limited access to some groups of antibiotics.

“Collectively, the data highlights a dual problem of limited access to antibiotics, and irrational use of those that are available,” said Head of Public Health (Africa and Middle East) and Head of Real World Evidence (Middle East) at IQVIA, Deepak Batra. “As a result, people don’t get the right treatment for severe infections, and irrational use of antibiotics drives antimicrobial resistance for existing available treatment options. Routine monitoring of antimicrobial consumption could help monitor the limited access and irrational use.”

The researchers said the growing threat of AMR poses a major threat to progress made in health and in the attainment of Universal Health Coverage, and is likely to take a heavy toll on the health systems on the continent.

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Africa’s low testing on anti-microbial resistance has been blamed on lack of lab facilities. A study across 14 sub-Saharan Africa found that only five out of the 15 antibiotic-resistant pathogens […]

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S. Sudan plan to build harbor in Djibouti to hurt Kenyan port

South Sudan has bought a piece of land in Djibouti for the construction of a harbour in its latest effort to find an alternative to the port of Mombasa which is facing an onslaught from Dar-es-Salaam.

South Sudan has bought three acres of land at the port of Djibouti for the construction of a facility that will handle its import and export goods as Juba seeks to cut reliance on the Mombasa port in Kenya.

The latest development comes just two months after the Chamber of Commerce in South Sudan said it will shift its cargo to the port of Djibouti, which it termed as convenient for the Africa’s youngest State.

“We have been only using Port Sudan and Mombasa but recently, we have decided to go to Djibouti and as I am speaking to you, we have land in Djibouti,” South Sudan Minister for Petroleum Puot Kang Chol is quoted by local media.

The minister said the land was procured by the Ministry of Petroleum for the purpose of exporting the country’s crude oil as well as use it on imported goods. If effected, the move will hit the port of Mombasa given that Juba is one of Kenya’s largest clients.

Mombasa has been the main route for all consignments destined to the landlocked country with South Sudan importing nearly all of its cargo through the Kenyan port.

Mr Chol said they were ready to facilitate and stock goods destined for South Sudan through Djibouti.

“If any of you have goods, and you want to bring them through Djibouti, we have a land, we will have a space for you to accommodate your materials [or] whatever you want to bring,” said the official.

South Sudan is the second country in terms of cargo throughput volumes at the Mombasa port after Uganda, accounting for 9.9 percent of transit volumes. Uganda accounts for 83 percent of all throughput cargo followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania and Rwanda at 7.2, 3.2 and 2.4 percent in that order.

Kenya Ports Authority managing director John Mwangemi said South Sudan is one of their largest clients but they can choose a preferred facility. “I am not aware of the development in South Sudan but the government there can make a choice on which port to use,” said Mr Mwangemi.

The announcement by South Sudan comes just a few days after President William Ruto issued a directive for all inbound cargo to be cleared in Mombasa, dealing a blow to the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Naivasha.

Kenya allocated South Sudan land in Naivasha for the construction of a dry port, which would see goods destined to Juba cleared at the ICD facility to save truckers the long journey to Mombasa. Kenya has also allocated a piece of land to Uganda to clear its goods in Naivasha.

Dr Ruto promised during the election campaigns to return the port services to Mombasa if elected as President in the August election.

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Kenyan firms hit as Microsoft, Google talent war raises pay

Local Kenyan companies are struggling to recruit and retain key talent as US tech titans, led by Microsoft, Amazon and Google, tilt the market in their favour with high salaries and attractive employment terms.

The three multinationals have increased their presence in East Africa with Kenya as their hub, triggering an aggressive hiring spree that has seen them pay up to Ksh1.8 million ($15,037) monthly for principal tech specialists.

The multinationals are also paying around Ksh300,000 ($2,506) to junior tech developers, Ksh500,000 ($4,177) for mid-level techies and between Ksh800,000 ($6,683) and Ksh1.3 million ($10,860) for lead and senior roles.

Smaller companies in the area such as Wasoko, Flocash, Twiga foods, Lori Systems, and Sendy, who had invested in and trained young engineers, have been swiftly outbid.

But while the talent war is resulting in higher compensation for Kenya’s techies, it is disrupting the business plans for local firms and smaller foreign technology companies.

Major telcos and banks, long considered the best-paying organizations for techies in Kenya, are also losing their top talent to Big Tech.

“You know, what’s happening in this market across all of us. We have some people called Microsoft, Amazon, Google who are just mopping up our developers,” said Patricia Ithau, the chief executive officer of WPP Scangroup.

“We have a programme we recruit from the university two, three months, they come in from college, and you offer them a hundred. Google tells them two hundred, there’s nothing you’re going to do. They’re going to go. And then they go from Google. Microsoft offers them three hundred, they’ll move. So until we start creating a lot more talent, it is the way of the world.”

Global tech giants have been increasing investment on the continent in recent years to take advantage of growing economies with rising access rates to the Internet by a youthful population.

They are using Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria as their launch pads for a bigger stake of Africa.

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Kenya clarifies position on Sahrawi after gaffe

Kenya says it has not abandoned a decades-old policy in which it supported the African Union’s call for free self-determination of the Sahrawi people.

In a diplomatic note sent to embassies and representatives offices of international organisations in Nairobi, Kenya walked back on a controversial tweet last week in which President William Ruto appeared to end recognition of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in favour of an autonomy offer by Morocco.

Read: Kenya pushes Western Sahara issue back on AU agenda

Instead, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said Nairobi has not departed from supporting the African Union call, as well as mediation programmes under the UN, to have the people of Western Sahara decide their future.

“Kenya’s position on the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is fully aligned with the decision of the Organization of African Unity (now African Union) to admit SADR to its membership on 22nd August 1982, and the AU Charter which calls for the unquestionable and inalienable right of a people to self-determination.

“Further, the country aligns itself with decisions of subsequent AU Assemblies of Heads of State and Government on SADR,” Kamau said in the note dated September 16.

Last week, a day after President Ruto took office, he tweeted: “Kenya rescinds its recognition of the SADR and initiates steps to wind down the entity’s presence in the country.” This was posted after he had earlier met Sahrawi President Brahim Ghali, who attended his inauguration, and later Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.

The tweet was later deleted.

However, the President also did say that Kenya supports the United Nations framework “as the exclusive mechanism to find a lasting solution of the dispute over Western Sahara.”

Also read: UN names new envoy for Western Sahara

The Foreign Ministry in Kenya told embassies all formal declarations will, in future, be made only through formal diplomatic documents, not social media, in an apparent move to prevent another gaffe.

The President indicated that relations with Morocco will, nonetheless, be speeded up “in areas of trade, agriculture, health, tourism, energy, among others, for the mutual benefit of our countries.”

The announcement would have upended a decades-old policy in which African countries generally support the call for a referendum for a region claimed by Morocco as part of its territory.

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The SADR has had a seat at the African Union since 1982 and had, for a long time, caused Morocco’s withdrawal from the AU, then known as the Organization of African Unity (OAU) until 2017 when Rabat returned to the bloc.

The decision means Kenya has joined the US in recognising Morocco against SADR but it is the only African country to do so publicly.

During Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidency, Kenya’s policy was to side with SADR. When Kenya’s then Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed ran for the Chairperson of the African Union Commission in 2017, she visited the SADR government in Algeria. That decision is said to have disadvantaged her as Morocco mounted a lobbying against her quest for AU chair.

Western Sahara has been claimed by Morocco since 1975. And Kenya had argued that the boundaries of Western Sahara as vacated by the Spanish colonialists should be left unchanged.

Initially occupied by the Spanish, the Western Sahara was claimed by both Mauritania and Morocco. Mauritania later dropped its claim, leaving Rabat to call the region as its Southern Provinces.

In 1979, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution A / RES / 34/37 which provided “the unequal rights of Western Sahara people in their own discretion and liberty, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the Charter of the Organization of the African Unity and the purposes of the General Assembly.”

The dispute between the two sides had been floated in the UN systems, including at the International Court of Justice. But a referendum meant to determine the future of the region is yet to be organised as both sides disagree on who should participate.

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How two Kenyan nurses swindled Boston state out of $100 million

Before the law caught up with them, Winnie Waruru, 42, and Faith Newton, 52, lived large in America.

One drove a Maserati, an Italian luxury brand known for its exclusive styling, and the other one a Range Rover. As dollar millionaires, they kept their lives private and few Kenyans had heard about the two nurses whose fortunes seemed endless. In addition to their lavish lifestyles, they had five properties in the US and operated 40 bank accounts.

The US government now claims that the two Kenyans swindled Boston state out of $100 million in healthcare fraud. They are alleged to have paid kickbacks to obtain referrals and retain patients over a five-year period.

US detectives watched their transactions that ran into millions of dollars for many months.

Last week, Waruru pleaded guilty before US Senior District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr, who has scheduled sentencing for January 12, 2023, according to a release by US Attorney Rachael Rollins. Newton’s case will continue.

Detectives allege that between January 2013 and January 2017, the two used Arbor Homecare Services LLC as a conduit to siphon $100 million from MassHealth and Medicare – a program that provides health coverage primarily for people with low incomes – by claiming refunds and filing false statements. They then closed down the company.

With a budget running into billions of dollars, MassHealth, which pays for personal care attendants, medical equipment, and specific prescription, has been a target of swindlers who first apply to become providers through registered companies. The healthcare company nurses are supposed to attend to vulnerable members and then bill the programme for reimbursement.

Both Waruru and Newton were accused of “conspiracy to commit health care fraud” and for billing for healthcare services that they never provided. They are also charged with making false statements to MassHealth.

The federal government has filed a civil action to seize the duo’s properties and freeze their bank accounts, which held millions of dollars.

The court papers say that Newton was part-owner and operator of Arbor Homecare Services LLC, while Waruru was a licensed practical nurse. On paper, Waruru was “employed” by Arbor Care Homecare Services, but, according to court records, she was more than that.

To get more money, they are said to have entered into “sham” employment relationships with family members of MassHealth patients and purported to provide unnecessary medical care, billed as “visits”. For example, Arbor would reimburse a relative staying with a relative member for fictitious nurse visits in a scheme that went undetected between January 2013 and January 2017. It would then make claims to MassHealth.

The two are also said to have been paying kickbacks to patients under their care to retain them as part of Arbor Homecare Services LLC. Detectives alleged that Waruru “caused Arbor to bill MassHealth over $1.2 million (Sh120 million) in fraudulent nursing visits” and “passed money from Newton to two Arbor patients in order to retain them.”

By luring the patients into the scheme, the two billed for services that were neither rendered nor needed.

According to the prosecutor, “Arbor, through Newton and others, developed employment relationships” with patients’ relatives who purported to offer services. They would also pay kickbacks for patient referrals, regardless of medical necessity requirements, in a scheme that saw Arbor’s income run into millions. By entering into “sham” employment relationships with patients’ family members, according to the prosecution, it was easy for Arbor to purport “to provide home health aide services that were not medically necessary and routinely billed for fictitious visits that did not occur”.

For instance, said the charge sheet, “Waruru and Arbor billed MassHealth for Waruru’s skilled nursing visits, many of which she did not perform, were medically unnecessary, or were not approved by a physician.”

According to the civil complaint, Newton targeted low-income, disabled, and/or people with mental health issues. Additionally, Newton is alleged to have laundered the illegally acquired wealth.

The court records indicate that Arbor was registered by a Mr Njoroge Muiruri, a registered nurse, and it ceased to exist in 2017 after he filed a certificate of cancellation with the Massachusetts Secretary of State. It is not clear whether the company folded due to the investigations.

The indictments of health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, money laundering conspiracy, and money laundering each offer a jail term of up to 10 years, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the amount of the money involved in the laundering.

The conspiracy to pay kickbacks, make false statements, and make a false statement in health care matters each provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.

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Kenya’s new move on SGR to upset China and Uganda

This week’s order by Kenyan President William Ruto to revert cargo clearing services to the port of Mombasa could upset China and Uganda, the port’s biggest clients, and trigger anxiety among major players who depend on it.

The order, issued as President Ruto took office, is set to have far-reaching ramifications.

The key question is what China’s reaction will be, given that Kenya must still meet its end of the bargain on the standard gauge railway (SGR) cargo operation numbers and debt repayments.

But more importantly, will be whether port operations’ efficiency that has currently seen goods reach Uganda in a record four days after being offloaded at the Mombasa port will continue. The shortened time was due to the seamless systems that directly fed the SGR, and onwards to the Nairobi Inland Container depot and the Naivasha dry port.

Kenya’s move also comes as neighbour Tanzania steps up its efforts to connect the Dar es Salaam port with other East African countries through the Central Corridor.

Speaking on Tuesday in his first address to the nation after his swearing-in as the fifth president of Kenya, President Ruto defended his move to undo the policy of his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta.

He said his actions were aimed at restoring thousands of jobs that had been lost in the logistics sector in Mombasa when former president Kenyatta issued an order for all cargo coming through the port of Mombasa to be hauled by the SGR, and cleared at either Nairobi or the Naivasha Inland Container Depot (ICD).

“This afternoon, I will be issuing instructions for clearance of all goods and other attendant operational issues to revert to the port of Mombasa. This restores thousands of jobs in the city of Mombasa,” said President Ruto on Tuesday. But even as cargo operations are ordered back to Mombasa, the question now is how Kenya will repay the SGR loan considering that the repayments will more than double in the financial year starting this July, when there will be increased payment of principal sums to the Exim Bank of China for the project.

Read: Hard times for Kenya SGR as port operations return to Mombasa

Exim Bank of China funded 90 per cent of the $3.6 billion line from Nairobi to Mombasa.

Kenya’s Treasury projects debt repayments to Exim Bank of China will rise to $800 million in the next financial year, a 126.61 per cent surge from the revised $351.7 million budgeted for this year. Redemptions to the Chinese lender will increase to $605.16 million, from $174.98 million this year. Interest obligations will rise 8.55 per cent to $191.88 million, from 176.7 million, according to Treasury data tabled in the National Assembly.

Set volumes

According to the take-and-pay agreement, the Kenya Ports Authority undertook to consign to Kenya Railways a set volume of freight and cargo in order to collect adequate funds to pay off the SGR loan.

According to the latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, in the first six months of this year, SGR recorded a total of $750 million in revenue. Some $610 million was for cargo volumes with revenue for the past five years totalling $4.6 billion. Passenger revenues were $760 million over the same period, an indication that SGR depends on freight to remain afloat.

In December 2019, then-president Kenyatta flagged off a cargo train from Nairobi to Naivasha, marking the start of operations at the Inland Container Depot. Soon after, he issued an order to evacuate onward cargo to Naivasha.

Kenyatta’s administration forced importers to use the SGR to ensure minimum guaranteed business to repay the $3.7 billion debt taken to build it. The directive saw the government transfer goods clearance to Naivasha, and enforced compliance, affecting thousands of workers and companies in the logistics sector in Mombasa.

The move was met by protests from Uganda and South Sudan, which are the main transit users of Mombasa port. They said then that Naivasha lacked adequate cargo handling facilities, thus making the cost of transport to their respective countries more expensive.

Protests

Long-distance cargo transporters also protested the directive, saying the government’s move would raise the cost of doing business, with the costs passed on to the final consumers of the imported goods. They moved to the High Court to have the mandatory directive rescinded and succeeded, but the government, through the KPA, appealed and the directive stood.

To date, an appeal challenging orders quashing the directive requiring all cargo to be transported to Nairobi and the hinterland exclusively through the SGR is yet to be determined by the Court of Appeal.

Last November, the appellate court suspended the execution of orders quashing the directive issued by a five-judge bench of the High Court, pending hearing and determination of the appeal filed by the KPA.

Read: Reprieve for regional importers as court stops SGR rule

KPA argued that the directives were meant to operationalise the take-and-pay agreement, which is key to ensuring the loan for the construction of the SGR is repaid without any hitches.

In his campaign rallies in the run-up to the presidential election, Dr Ruto harped on the fact that the transfer of port operations to Naivasha was against the agreement made during the conception and construction of the SGR.

President Ruto said the Naivasha dry port was put up to benefit a few individuals, and dealt a blow to the economy of Mombasa.

Contrary order

But as the new order to revert cargo clearance to Mombasa takes effect, stakeholders now say it will be a blow to East African countries that use the port, and is contrary to the contract between Kenya and China on how to pay the loan.

“With the latest move by the current government, this means the Naivasha ICD where five EAC countries were last month issued with title deeds by former president Kenyatta, might cease to be lucrative. This means, the investment at the dry port, a facility on more than 1,000 acres, which is estimated to handle two million tonnes of cargo every year, will go to waste,” said Simon Sang, secretary-general of the Dock Workers Union.

“We are asking the government to invest more in Malaba and Busia borders to reduce congestion considering heavy traffic expected in the coming months,” he added.

Most of the cargo handled at the Mombasa port is destined for Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which accounts for 30 percent of imports and exports through there.

Last month, Kenya concluded the issuance of title deeds to five countries — Burundi, Rwanda, DR Congo, Uganda and South Sudan — to establish dry ports in Naivasha, despite their earlier reluctance to use the dry port as an alternative to Mombasa.

Then-president Kenyatta hosted the title deeds handing-out ceremony in Naivasha, where a special economic zone is being established. Uganda and South Sudan were offered land at the dry port in 2019, and since then have done little by way of putting up the necessary infrastructure such as cargo handling operations because of lack of a title deed as proof of ownership.

Evacuating cargo

 As the President Ruto directive is implemented, shippers say the seamless connectivity from the vessel to SGR to Nairobi or Naivasha reduced congestion, both at the port and also vehicular traffic along the Northern Corridor.

The Shippers Council of Eastern Africa (SCEA) chief executive Gilbert Lagat said the SGR idea was to fully connect port and border towns. This would be via both the SGR and metre gauge railway (MGR) to minimise costs.

Read: Costs, competition drive truckers to innovate

Mr Lagat said the SGR and MGR shortened the time taken to evacuate cargo from Mombasa to Malaba by 62 percent, and costs by 58 percent.

“What importers consider is cost and efficiency. If the consignment reaches on time at the cheapest cost, that is what they will go for. The introduction of the railway is what we have been pushing for as it will give importers an alternative means of hauling their cargo considering bottlenecks associated with the Northern Corridor,” said Mr Lagat.

He added that the new railway had reduced cases of cargo loss as there is less diversion than is experienced with trucks.

The order by President Ruto will also derail Kenya Railway Corporation’s move to improve efficiency by connecting Mombasa and Malaba via rail. Starting this January, cargo from Mombasa port destined for Malaba was to be loaded onto the SGR to Naivasha, from where it would be transshipped onto the MGR line at the Naivasha ICD.

Faster by rail

The freight train and connectivity, if successfully implemented, will take less than 40 hours to ferry cargo from Mombasa to Malaba railway yard compared with by road transport which takes 96 hours. It would also offer a cost reduction to $860 from $2,000 per container charged by road hauliers.

Also by collecting goods from the Naivasha ICD, importers from neighbouring countries will have reduced the distance covered by road hauliers by more than 400 kilometres.

Kenya chose to rehabilitate its 100-year old MGR from Naivasha to Malaba after it abandoned its bid to extend the SGR line to Kisumu, and on to the Ugandan border, after failing to secure a multibillion-shilling loan from China, which had funded the first and second phases of the SGR line.

Kenya Railway managing director Philip Mainga had said that the freight train has the capacity to handle 120,000 containers annually.

In December 2021, KRC gazetted promotional charges to haul cargo from Mombasa to Malaba at $860 for 20-foot container weighing up to 30 tonnes, while that above that cost $960. A 40-foot container above 30 tonnes was charged at $1,100, and those above were charged $1,260 without considering last mile cost. Since 2019, after the introduction of SGR freight train, transporters and container freight owners have been counting losses as all cargo ended up on the freight train to Nairobi and Naivasha.

As a result, container freight stations, which handled up to 95 percent of the cargo offloaded at Mombasa, were left to manage less than 10 percent of Mombasa-destined cargo.

Job losses

According to the Container Freight Stations Association (CFSA), more than 4,000 workers lost their jobs since the launch of the SGR and introduction of the mandatory haulage of cargo by train to Nairobi and Naivasha ICDs.

“We had to let go more than half our workers as businesses struggle. All these job losses have happened at the Mombasa port as a result of the reduction in trucked cargo volumes,” said CFSA chief executive Daniel Nzeki.

Kenya Transporters Association condemned the government’s move to force importers to use the SGR saying it does not want to tell the public the hidden costs of using the cargo train to ferry containers.

“It costs $860 including value added tax to transport a 20-foot container to and from Nairobi using a truck but the SGR costs more than $920,” said KTA chairman Newton Wang’oo.

Kenya International Forwarding and Warehousing Association chairman Roy Mwanthi echoed Mr Wang’oo’s sentiments, saying they now expect business to return to normal.

“The move by President Ruto is commended and now we want the executive order to be implemented immediately,” said Mr Mwanthi.

He added that the Naivasha Inland Container depot will remain a futuristic spot, and that “the government facilities should be left open to those willing to use them, and the government should make them efficient”.

SOURCE

This week’s order by Kenyan President William Ruto to revert cargo clearing services to the port of Mombasa could upset China and Uganda, the port’s biggest clients, and trigger anxiety […]

Continue reading "Kenya’s new move on SGR to upset China and Uganda"

Kenya’s new move on SGR to upset China and Uganda

This week’s order by Kenyan President William Ruto to revert cargo clearing services to the port of Mombasa could upset China and Uganda, the port’s biggest clients, and trigger anxiety among major players who depend on it.

The order, issued as President Ruto took office, is set to have far-reaching ramifications.

The key question is what China’s reaction will be, given that Kenya must still meet its end of the bargain on the standard gauge railway (SGR) cargo operation numbers and debt repayments.

But more importantly, will be whether port operations’ efficiency that has currently seen goods reach Uganda in a record four days after being offloaded at the Mombasa port will continue. The shortened time was due to the seamless systems that directly fed the SGR, and onwards to the Nairobi Inland Container depot and the Naivasha dry port.

Kenya’s move also comes as neighbour Tanzania steps up its efforts to connect the Dar es Salaam port with other East African countries through the Central Corridor.

Speaking on Tuesday in his first address to the nation after his swearing-in as the fifth president of Kenya, President Ruto defended his move to undo the policy of his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta.

He said his actions were aimed at restoring thousands of jobs that had been lost in the logistics sector in Mombasa when former president Kenyatta issued an order for all cargo coming through the port of Mombasa to be hauled by the SGR, and cleared at either Nairobi or the Naivasha Inland Container Depot (ICD).

“This afternoon, I will be issuing instructions for clearance of all goods and other attendant operational issues to revert to the port of Mombasa. This restores thousands of jobs in the city of Mombasa,” said President Ruto on Tuesday. But even as cargo operations are ordered back to Mombasa, the question now is how Kenya will repay the SGR loan considering that the repayments will more than double in the financial year starting this July, when there will be increased payment of principal sums to the Exim Bank of China for the project.

Read: Hard times for Kenya SGR as port operations return to Mombasa

Exim Bank of China funded 90 per cent of the $3.6 billion line from Nairobi to Mombasa.

Kenya’s Treasury projects debt repayments to Exim Bank of China will rise to $800 million in the next financial year, a 126.61 per cent surge from the revised $351.7 million budgeted for this year. Redemptions to the Chinese lender will increase to $605.16 million, from $174.98 million this year. Interest obligations will rise 8.55 per cent to $191.88 million, from 176.7 million, according to Treasury data tabled in the National Assembly.

Set volumes

According to the take-and-pay agreement, the Kenya Ports Authority undertook to consign to Kenya Railways a set volume of freight and cargo in order to collect adequate funds to pay off the SGR loan.

According to the latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, in the first six months of this year, SGR recorded a total of $750 million in revenue. Some $610 million was for cargo volumes with revenue for the past five years totalling $4.6 billion. Passenger revenues were $760 million over the same period, an indication that SGR depends on freight to remain afloat.

In December 2019, then-president Kenyatta flagged off a cargo train from Nairobi to Naivasha, marking the start of operations at the Inland Container Depot. Soon after, he issued an order to evacuate onward cargo to Naivasha.

Kenyatta’s administration forced importers to use the SGR to ensure minimum guaranteed business to repay the $3.7 billion debt taken to build it. The directive saw the government transfer goods clearance to Naivasha, and enforced compliance, affecting thousands of workers and companies in the logistics sector in Mombasa.

The move was met by protests from Uganda and South Sudan, which are the main transit users of Mombasa port. They said then that Naivasha lacked adequate cargo handling facilities, thus making the cost of transport to their respective countries more expensive.

Protests

Long-distance cargo transporters also protested the directive, saying the government’s move would raise the cost of doing business, with the costs passed on to the final consumers of the imported goods. They moved to the High Court to have the mandatory directive rescinded and succeeded, but the government, through the KPA, appealed and the directive stood.

To date, an appeal challenging orders quashing the directive requiring all cargo to be transported to Nairobi and the hinterland exclusively through the SGR is yet to be determined by the Court of Appeal.

Last November, the appellate court suspended the execution of orders quashing the directive issued by a five-judge bench of the High Court, pending hearing and determination of the appeal filed by the KPA.

Read: Reprieve for regional importers as court stops SGR rule

KPA argued that the directives were meant to operationalise the take-and-pay agreement, which is key to ensuring the loan for the construction of the SGR is repaid without any hitches.

In his campaign rallies in the run-up to the presidential election, Dr Ruto harped on the fact that the transfer of port operations to Naivasha was against the agreement made during the conception and construction of the SGR.

President Ruto said the Naivasha dry port was put up to benefit a few individuals, and dealt a blow to the economy of Mombasa.

Contrary order

But as the new order to revert cargo clearance to Mombasa takes effect, stakeholders now say it will be a blow to East African countries that use the port, and is contrary to the contract between Kenya and China on how to pay the loan.

“With the latest move by the current government, this means the Naivasha ICD where five EAC countries were last month issued with title deeds by former president Kenyatta, might cease to be lucrative. This means, the investment at the dry port, a facility on more than 1,000 acres, which is estimated to handle two million tonnes of cargo every year, will go to waste,” said Simon Sang, secretary-general of the Dock Workers Union.

“We are asking the government to invest more in Malaba and Busia borders to reduce congestion considering heavy traffic expected in the coming months,” he added.

Most of the cargo handled at the Mombasa port is destined for Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which accounts for 30 percent of imports and exports through there.

Last month, Kenya concluded the issuance of title deeds to five countries — Burundi, Rwanda, DR Congo, Uganda and South Sudan — to establish dry ports in Naivasha, despite their earlier reluctance to use the dry port as an alternative to Mombasa.

Then-president Kenyatta hosted the title deeds handing-out ceremony in Naivasha, where a special economic zone is being established. Uganda and South Sudan were offered land at the dry port in 2019, and since then have done little by way of putting up the necessary infrastructure such as cargo handling operations because of lack of a title deed as proof of ownership.

Evacuating cargo

 As the President Ruto directive is implemented, shippers say the seamless connectivity from the vessel to SGR to Nairobi or Naivasha reduced congestion, both at the port and also vehicular traffic along the Northern Corridor.

The Shippers Council of Eastern Africa (SCEA) chief executive Gilbert Lagat said the SGR idea was to fully connect port and border towns. This would be via both the SGR and metre gauge railway (MGR) to minimise costs.

Read: Costs, competition drive truckers to innovate

Mr Lagat said the SGR and MGR shortened the time taken to evacuate cargo from Mombasa to Malaba by 62 percent, and costs by 58 percent.

“What importers consider is cost and efficiency. If the consignment reaches on time at the cheapest cost, that is what they will go for. The introduction of the railway is what we have been pushing for as it will give importers an alternative means of hauling their cargo considering bottlenecks associated with the Northern Corridor,” said Mr Lagat.

He added that the new railway had reduced cases of cargo loss as there is less diversion than is experienced with trucks.

The order by President Ruto will also derail Kenya Railway Corporation’s move to improve efficiency by connecting Mombasa and Malaba via rail. Starting this January, cargo from Mombasa port destined for Malaba was to be loaded onto the SGR to Naivasha, from where it would be transshipped onto the MGR line at the Naivasha ICD.

Faster by rail

The freight train and connectivity, if successfully implemented, will take less than 40 hours to ferry cargo from Mombasa to Malaba railway yard compared with by road transport which takes 96 hours. It would also offer a cost reduction to $860 from $2,000 per container charged by road hauliers.

Also by collecting goods from the Naivasha ICD, importers from neighbouring countries will have reduced the distance covered by road hauliers by more than 400 kilometres.

Kenya chose to rehabilitate its 100-year old MGR from Naivasha to Malaba after it abandoned its bid to extend the SGR line to Kisumu, and on to the Ugandan border, after failing to secure a multibillion-shilling loan from China, which had funded the first and second phases of the SGR line.

Kenya Railway managing director Philip Mainga had said that the freight train has the capacity to handle 120,000 containers annually.

In December 2021, KRC gazetted promotional charges to haul cargo from Mombasa to Malaba at $860 for 20-foot container weighing up to 30 tonnes, while that above that cost $960. A 40-foot container above 30 tonnes was charged at $1,100, and those above were charged $1,260 without considering last mile cost. Since 2019, after the introduction of SGR freight train, transporters and container freight owners have been counting losses as all cargo ended up on the freight train to Nairobi and Naivasha.

As a result, container freight stations, which handled up to 95 percent of the cargo offloaded at Mombasa, were left to manage less than 10 percent of Mombasa-destined cargo.

Job losses

According to the Container Freight Stations Association (CFSA), more than 4,000 workers lost their jobs since the launch of the SGR and introduction of the mandatory haulage of cargo by train to Nairobi and Naivasha ICDs.

“We had to let go more than half our workers as businesses struggle. All these job losses have happened at the Mombasa port as a result of the reduction in trucked cargo volumes,” said CFSA chief executive Daniel Nzeki.

Kenya Transporters Association condemned the government’s move to force importers to use the SGR saying it does not want to tell the public the hidden costs of using the cargo train to ferry containers.

“It costs $860 including value added tax to transport a 20-foot container to and from Nairobi using a truck but the SGR costs more than $920,” said KTA chairman Newton Wang’oo.

Kenya International Forwarding and Warehousing Association chairman Roy Mwanthi echoed Mr Wang’oo’s sentiments, saying they now expect business to return to normal.

“The move by President Ruto is commended and now we want the executive order to be implemented immediately,” said Mr Mwanthi.

He added that the Naivasha Inland Container depot will remain a futuristic spot, and that “the government facilities should be left open to those willing to use them, and the government should make them efficient”.

SOURCE

This week’s order by Kenyan President William Ruto to revert cargo clearing services to the port of Mombasa could upset China and Uganda, the port’s biggest clients, and trigger anxiety […]

Continue reading "Kenya’s new move on SGR to upset China and Uganda"

President Ruto off the blocks with drastic economic policy decisions, orders

Kenya President William Ruto faces a Catch-22 situation in his quest to overturn some of his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta’s policies so as to deliver on his campaign promises on the economy to bring down the cost of living.

On his first full day in office last Wednesday, President Ruto withdrew the state subsidy on petrol, cut relief on diesel and kerosene, pointing to a pending end also to the subsidy on the staple maize flour.

The fuel subsidy introduced by Kenyatta’s administration in April last year to defuse public apprehension over the rising cost of living was due to end this September 30 under conditions agreed between the Treasury and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a loan.

Dr Ruto, keen on stamping his authority in early days of his presidency, was quick to cut the programme, saying it had not achieved its purpose and was not sustainable.

Read: Kenya’s Ruto pledges to bring down cost of living ‘in 100 days’

He has indicated preference for productive subsidies and could use part of the Ksh9.4 billion savings expected from the fuel subsidy squeeze to fund a plan to distribute 1.4 million bags of fertilizer at discounted prices to maize farmers for planting in the current short rain season.

While the government looks to the fertiliser programme to improve maize production in at least the next three months, it also has immediate concerns over the high transportation and production costs arising from the fuel subsidy cuts to deal with.

Bus operators were on Friday expected to raise fares by between 20 percent and 30 percent due to the higher cost of diesel announced late Thursday — a decision that will put more pressure on household budgets, and especially affecting urban workers most of whom will be forced to walk to work.

Transport accounts for the third highest expenditure by Kenyan households after food and housing.

A 2018 study by Deloitte found that a majority of commuters use matatu (mini bus public service transport) and boda-boda (motorbike taxis). In the capital Nairobi, 47 percent of residents prefer to walk, according to the study.

“Bottom-up” pledge

The findings of another study released early this year by the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed company Car & General, which sells motorcyles and motorcyle spare parts, put the number of boda-boda riders at 1.2 million and the number of people whose livelihoods are supported by the business at six million.

With Dr Ruto’s subsidy squeeze setting off a significant rise in fuel prices, the boda-boda is likely to see the daily rides go down drastically, potentially causing unease in a sector that the president aggressively courted through his “bottom-up” campaign slogan.

The public disgruntlement could be even more widespread if the president’s scrapping of fuel subsidies ends up sparking drastic increases in the cost of food and other household goods.

Diesel is widely used in Kenya for transport, to power farm and manufacturing machinery, thereby determining production costs.

Read: Consumers in Kenya hit by fuel and electricity cost shocks

Kenyans have since the beginning of the year expressed frustrations over unprecedented increases in the prices of key food items such as maize and wheat flour and cooking oil, mainly attributed to global supply chain disruptions caused by the Russia war in Ukraine.

Global risk assessment firm Verisk Maplecroft early this month said that Kenya is one of the countries alongside Peru, Iran and Sri Lanka facing the threat of civil unrest over the high cost of living.

SOURCE

Kenya President William Ruto faces a Catch-22 situation in his quest to overturn some of his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta’s policies so as to deliver on his campaign promises on the […]

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Uganda to introduce fines for internet misuse

Misuse of internet in Uganda will now attract hefty fines and longer jail terms, following amendments on the Computer Misuse Act 2011 that were passed last week.

The amendments, now awaiting the president’s signature to become law, seek to enhance the provisions on unauthorised access to information or data, prohibit the sharing of any information relating to a child without authorisation from a parent or guardian, and to prohibit the sending or sharing of information that promotes hate speech.

According to the new law, one will face a fine of Ush16 million ($4,200) or face 10 years in jail, or both, for unauthorised sharing of people’s data.

Equally offensive will be information shared to ridicule others. Any misleading or malicious information about or relating to any person through a computer and offenders could face up to seven years in jail.

The provisions have caused an uproar, with opponents claiming that it they would take away their right to access information.

Mathias Mpuuga, the leader of the opposition in parliament, said that the new law would be challenged in the Constitutional Court on the grounds that it is inconsistent with some provisions of the law on the rights of the citizens.

During the debate on the Bill, MPs only rejected the clause that sought to bar convicts from holding public office or running for elections in 10 years.

Gorreth Namugga, the Mawogola South representative who read the minority report on the Bill, had earlier urged the House not to pass the proposed law since many of the clauses are already catered for in existing legislations and in some instances, go against the country’s Constitution.

The current act has been used by police to arrest critics and online trolls who post about the first family and other government officials.

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Misuse of internet in Uganda will now attract hefty fines and longer jail terms, following amendments on the Computer Misuse Act 2011 that were passed last week. The amendments, now […]

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East African standby force seeks to correct past mistakes in DR Congo

The imminent deployment of the East African regional force to the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo will be preceded by a massive civilian awareness campaign. Officials say they first want to correct errors committed by other international missions by educating civilians on the tasks of the force, which will include engagements with locals to abandon war.

It is a new tactic endorsed last week by Kinshasa to help begin a peacebuilding programme on a clean slate.

Christophe Lutundula, the DR Congo Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs last week signed agreements on the status of the regional force with Peter Mathuki, Secretary General of the East African Community, effectively permitting member states to deploy their troops.

But while it’s only a matter of time for troops to hit the ground, military chiefs from member states agreed in their Concept of Operations to give prominence to civilian engagements. They agreed that past deployments by the UN and regional bloc SADC faced routine public suspicions. For the UN, the forces have in the past been accused of atrocities including rape. Since July, protesters have targetted UN peacekeepers’ camps in eastern DRC, accusing them of failing to beat down rebels.

Read: One killed during anti-UN protest in east DR Congo

The standby force by the EAC will have an initial timeframe of six months, renewable, and will, besides combat, work on civilian programmes such as setting up social amenities and holding peace meetings with villagers in a new strategy meant to endear locals to the authorities.

“The objective is to stabilise the region, to put an end to terrorist and criminal activities and to promote cooperation, a true partnership, beneficial to all,” said Lutundula.

Vast distances

The deployment of this force will take place in North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri, three huge provinces whose combined area is seven times the size of Rwanda but which have not known peace for three decades. These provinces are also where a hundred or so armed groups of various kinds are hiding.

The deployment of the regional force will take place in a particularly tense context: The M23 rebels have resumed attacks on civilian and military bases, including the town of Bunagana, on the border with Uganda.

Additionally, Uganda’s ADF terrorists have been able to resist both the Congolese and Ugandan armies despite a joint operation launched in November. Last month, the ADF managed to carry out an escape operation of more than 800 prisoners in North Kivu. Authorities said some of the prisoners have now been recruited to fight for ADF.

Conservative estimates show that at least six million people have died from conflict in eastern DRC since 1994. This is in spite of various missions of peacekeeping, including the UN stabilisation mission (Monusco). Recent protests against Monusco were an expression of the inefficiencies of the missions.

Besides the forthcoming East African regional force, the area is already patrolled by the FARDC (the Congolese army), the UPDF (the Ugandan army) since last year, the Burundian army since last month and Monusco since 1999.

Expectations are high for the contingents. Reacting to the disillusionment of Monusco, with its 16,000 soldiers, in June, Bintou Keita, the head of Monusco explained the need for “a regional solution” to overcome the insecurity.

The contrast between the enormous expectations of the Congolese authorities with regard to the regional force, and the reticence of the same force by a part of the Congolese is striking, however. Roger Manzakele, spokesperson for the North Kivu civil society association said most Congolese “fear unnecessary and disorderly over-militarisation.”

“On top of that, there have been many other forces that have been here for a long time and yet the situation has never changed. We think that with this, the DRC will be too dependent on others for security,” he said.

The Congolese are trying to maintain a good hope that peace will return thanks to the actions of neighbours.

Nobel Prize winner Denis Mukwege and opposition leader Martin Fayulu have been among the doubting Thomases. Mr Fayulu told The EastAfrican last month that “DR Congo must not leave the issue of security in the hands of foreign armies.”

The deployment may bank heavily on a supportive vote by the public. But this early excitement may be pricked if rebels put up a fight.

SOURCE

The imminent deployment of the East African regional force to the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo will be preceded by a massive civilian awareness campaign. Officials say […]

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Tanzania constitution review team starts work on final report

The team formed to conduct public consultations on democratic reforms in Tanzania, as the quest for constitutional review gathers pace, says it has completed making public consultations and is compiling the views into a document to be presented to President Samia Suluhu, and the public.

The task force, chaired by Prof Rwekaza Mukandala, has been gathering the views through face-to-face interviews and written submissions in both mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar since March this year.

Read: Task force elicits new debate in Tanzania

Prof Mukandala did not specify how long the final compilation would take, saying only that it was “a big job that needs enough time to be done properly”.

The task force was formed by the Registrar of Political Parties last December year and comprises representatives of various political parties, civil society organisations, academicians, clerics, lawyers and media workers representative groups.

Its initial mandate was to look into opposition party demands for a new Tanzanian constitution to replace the current one of 1977 and the adoption of independent elections regulatory system to ensure a level political field in future polls after years of dominance by the ruling CCM party.

The task force has the backing of the Tanzania Centre for Democracy, a cross-party think-tank that includes CCM and leading opposition party ACT-Wazalendo.

But it lost the support of other major parties like Chadema and NCCR Mageuzi after it recommended in its preliminary report in March that the new constitution review process be postponed until after the next election in 2025.

After the controversy, the task force mandate was expanded to gather views on democratic reform. Still, proposals related to the constitutional review and independent electoral body have continued to form the bulk of views brought before it.

Former prime minister Joseph Warioba, who led a previous constitutional review processes that aborted, said that a “stronger political will” was required to restart the process afresh.

Former president Jakaya Kikwete, who formed a Constitutional Assembly that was later dissolved, said President Samia had made a “wise decision” in allowing the formation of the task force as a way of “reducing political tensions in the country.”

“My hope is that the goal of political reconciliation that this exercise is aiming for will eventually come to fruition,” he stated.

Other views collected included those of Tanzania’s former Chief Justice Mohamed Chande who told a press briefing after his September 7 session that he had proposed constitutional amendments to allow for presidential election results to be challenged in court, as is the case with parliamentary poll results.

Tanzania’s current constitution was adopted in 1977 when the country was still a one-party state and has remained the blueprint for successive national elections despite constant opposition demands for amendments that acknowledge the advent of multi-party politics in 1992.

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Consumers in Kenya hit by fuel and electricity cost shocks

Kenya’s economic situation deteriorated further as consumers woke up to a record increase in fuel and electricity prices in the same week that the nation’s new leader, President William Ruto, was sworn in.

The record-high fuel surcharge comes at a time when the government and the International Monetary Fund have agreed to end the fuel subsidies that have been cushioning consumers.

The abolishment of the fuel subsidy has seen prices surge by about 15 percent, inflicting more pain to households and businesses that are grappling with the skyrocketing cost of living.

In addition to the removal of the subsidy, the situation has been compounded by the weakening shilling against the dollar, and the annual inflation adjustment levy of 6.3 percent.

The levy will be imposed on imports, including fuel (petrol, diesel and kerosene), by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) from October 1.

The levy will result in an increase of excise duty on products such as fruit juices, bottled water, beer, and motorcycles, according to KRA’s Legal Notice on Draft Rates of Excise Duty for Inflation Adjustment 2022.

The shilling fell to a low of Ksh120.41 against the dollar on September 14 from Ksh120.33 against the greenback on September 9, increasing the debt repayment obligations of an economy grappling with over Ksh8.6 trillion ($71.66 billion) debt.

President Ruto, under the Kenya Kwanza coalition, were elected on a platform of economic transformation, administration of justice to all, and the financial empowerment of the masses, popularly known as “hustlers”, through his bottom-up economic model.

Rising retail prices

The regulator, Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra), said the new retail prices of fuel are in line with the cost of imported refined petroleum products and the government’s policy to progressively remove the subsidy.

Following the changes that took effect on Thursday, the retail price of a litre of petrol, diesel and kerosene in Nairobi has increased by Ksh20.18 ($0.16), Ksh25 ($0.2) and Ksh20 ($0.16) to Ksh179.13 ($1.49), Ksh165 ($1.37) and Ksh147.94 ($1.23), respectively.

Epra had retained the retail prices of fuel for July and August, with the pump price for super petrol, diesel and kerosene in Nairobi trading at Ksh159.12 ($1.32), Ksh140 ($1.16) and Ksh127.94 ($1.06), respectively. Earlier, Epra said in a statement that the average landed cost of imported super petrol, diesel, and kerosene for the month of August declined by 24.31 percent, 13.9 percent and 19.07 percent, respectively.

The regulator also noted that although the subsidy on super petrol has been removed, a subsidy of Ksh20.82 ($0.17) per litre of diesel and Ksh26.25 ($0.21) per litre of kerosene had been retained to cushion consumers.

Without the subsidy, the retail prices of diesel and kerosene would have been Ksh185.82 ($1.54) per lire and Ksh174.19 ($1.45) per litre, respectively.

Also read: Kenya’s oil dealers warn of looming fuel crisis

Inflation

The country’s overall inflation rose for the sixth consecutive month to 8.5 percent in August, from 8.3 percent in July, largely driven by high fuel and food prices.

This is against the government monetary goal of five percent, with a flexible margin of 2.5 percent on either side in the event of adverse shocks.

During the week, Epra also raised electricity prices by 15.7 percent, reversing the reduction by 15 percent in January this year.

The regulator also increased the pass-through cost including fuel, forex and inflation adjustments, pushing the price of a kilowatt hour unit to Ksh25.3 ($0.21) for domestic consumers who use more than a 100 units in a month.

KRA’s move to implement the annual inflation adjustment levy will make life even harder for the struggling taxpayers.

The indexation of specific rates of excise duty to adjust for the inflationary erosion of collected taxes was introduced through the Excise Act 2015.

However, the manner in which the new rates were to be adjusted has been reviewed and revised since the Act took effect in December 2015.

In 2017, the adjustment of the specific rates of Excise duty was initially proposed to be made once every two years.

But the proposal was reversed in 2018 to every year, according to consultancy firm Ernst &Young through its Tax Alert (2020).

The Finance Act (2020) amended the provision in the Excise Duty Act relating to annual inflation adjustment by requiring KRA’s Commissioner General to seek an approval from the Cabinet Secretary for Treasury and Planning to adjust the specific rates of duty.

Thereafter, the adjustment notice is expected to be set before the National Assembly within seven days of publication and approved by the Assembly within 28 days.

High taxation

The government has come under heavy criticism for the increase in fuel prices in the country through over taxation, with the cost per litre of fuel consisting close to 50 percent taxes.

Barely two weeks ago, Kenya Pipeline Corporation (KPC) warned of an imminent fuel shortage in Nairobi and the western parts of the country due to the delayed compensation to oil marketing companies.

KPC, which is mandated to transport, store and deliver petroleum products to consumers, said the risk of fuel stock-out has increased owing to low uplifts of AGO (diesel).

In a letter to the Principal Secretary in the state department of Petroleum and Mining, Andrew Kamau, dated September 7, KPC managing director Macharia Irungu said the timely delivery and replenishment of petrol and kerosene has been adversely affected owing to the low uplift of diesel.

“Our mandate to transport petroleum through the multiproduct pipelines to the KPC storage locations has been greatly affected by the low uplifts witnessed since beginning of July 2022,” said Mr Irungu.

“As you are aware AGO (diesel) being the carrier product of all other grades in the pipelines is the most affected with the daily average uplift volume dropping from 11,500 cubic metres to 9,000 cubic metres, marking a 30 percent drop. This has directly affected timely delivery and replenishment of MSP (petrol) and DPK (kerosene).”

According to KPC the low uplifts has led to stock-outs and delays in the replenishment of petrol, illuminating kerosene and jet fuel in the KPC locations.

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Cybercriminals on the continent target East African firms most

Businesses in East Africa have reported the highest number of cyber-attacks in Africa, implying the rising threats that come with massive digital transformation.

A survey by audit firm KPMG focusing on 300 companies, both large corporations and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), reveals that about three in 10 businesses in the region have fallen victim to cyber-attacks.

The survey blames this on “rapid development and adoption of digital technology across business sectors with limited expertise and awareness around technology and digital infrastructure.”

About nine in ten firms in the region are currently undertaking a digital transformation or have already finished transitioning, compared to 82 percent in West Africa.

John Anyanwu, Africa cyber lead at KPMG, said many economies in the continent have managed to shake off pandemic woes and the effects of other shocks to increase “consumption and adoption of digital technologies at grassroot level.”

The threats

But cybercriminals have revamped their tactics to prey on unsuspecting organisations, primarily posting ransomware, business email compromise and data leakage threats to firms across the continent.

“Today, there is a much larger focus needed on not only mitigating threats, but in the way organisations are set up to deal with them,” said Anthony Muiyuro, cyber lead at KPMG East Africa.

Even so, a quarter of firms across the continent are yet to develop any form of strategy to prevent or deal with cyber-attacks, with only 34 percent of those with a strategy having independent cyber and information security functions.

“This function should be a strategic focus, cut across all business functions. Therefore, establishing an independent information security function is touted as a critical success factor for mature information risk management,” Mr Muiyuro said.

In East Africa, where there is the most threat, 77 percent of businesses have well-defined and regularly reviewed cyber strategies, even though all countries in the region except the Democratic Republic of Congo have established cyber security legislation that requires some form of information protection.

Budget constraints and shortage of skills still hinder African companies’ efforts at building strategies and security operation centres.

While 55 percent of African firms said they are planning on recruiting cybersecurity professionals in the next 12 months, more than two-thirds of the companies find it hard to recruit and retain qualified personnel.

A 2022 report by the International Systems Audit and Control Association estimates that there are currently three million cyber security job vacancies globally that remain unfilled, and this is projected to rise to 10 million in the next few years.

Other challenges that impair organizations’ ability to establish cybersecurity strategies include an influx in the number of security alerts reported, difficulty managing and analyzing related data, and lack of documented processes.

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IMF roots for cross-border Africa trade to stem rising food insecurity

The International Monetary Fund is appealing to African countries to open up their local markets to commodities from their regional peers as a long-term solution to persistent food shortages.

Last week, the fund released a policy paper urging countries to expand cross-border trade to better deal with the rising food crisis on the continent.

According to the paper How Africa can Escape Chronic Food Insecurity amid Climate Change”, only 15 percent of food imports into the continent are from neighbouring countries.

“African countries have not lifted most of the restrictions even though it could benefit both net food importers and exporters from trading with one another,” states the document authored by a team of African economists.

The report underscores the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as a step in the right direction, noting that opening up of markets would further reduce trade costs by 16 to 17 percent.

“In the context of climate change, greater regional trade integration can enhance food availability and affordability,” the paper says. “Combined with resilient storage and transport infrastructure, it can facilitate sales of one country’s bumper harvests — that may have gone to waste — to a neighbouring country facing shortfalls.”

Also read: Africa losing 15pc of GDP growth to climate change

The economists called for robust fiscal, monetary, and financial policies to improve the affordability and accessibility of food products. They are also recommending targeted interventions such as social cash transfers to allow families and small businesses to invest in resilience-building equipment and technology.

According to the paper, the targeted interventions are “more effective at containing inequality than agricultural subsidies”.

Digitalisation has also been encouraged, to improve farmers’ access to early warning systems, mobile banking and other platforms to buy farm inputs and sell output, enabling small-scale farmers to a wider market in the continent.

Financing

Access to credit and financing from private markets for small-scale farmers and traders also needs to be improved to better position Africa as a food-secure continent.

“In the interim, micro-finance or public-private partnerships can help provide credit to people who currently don’t have access through banks,” the authors state, adding that developing the required financial markets to improve access could take time even as the risk is urgent.

The IMF paper follows an earlier report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), which stated that the war in Ukraine and other economic shocks on the continent have pushed nearly half of its population to the brink of starvation.

The July 2022 report showed that 124 million people in Africa are already starving, 300 million more are at risk of food insecurity and several others spend majority of their household budget on food.

The food crisis on the continent, according to ECA, results from a mix of economic shocks instigated by the conflict in Eastern Europe, the Covid-19 pandemic, and natural calamities like droughts and floods occasioned by climate change.

ECA recommends the utilisation of the African Trade Exchange (Atex) platform, which was created in May this year in collaboration with the African Development Bank, African Export-Import Bank and the AfCFTA secretariat.

The Atex platform aims to ensure Africa’s supply chain resilience by enabling trade of major agricultural commodities and inputs imported from Russia and Ukraine, consequently improving their price stability.

According to the IMF, climate change is intensifying food insecurity, and Russia’s war in Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic are also adding to food shortages and high prices.

The fund notes that climate events, which destroy crops and disrupt food transport, are disproportionately common in the region.

According to the fund one-third of the world’s droughts occur in sub-Saharan Africa, and Ethiopia and Kenya are enduring one of the worst in at least four decades.

Countries such as Chad are being severely impacted by torrential rains and floods.

The resulting rise in poverty and other human costs are compounded by cascading macroeconomic effects, including slower economic growth. Supplies and prices are especially vulnerable to climate change in sub-Saharan Africa because of a lack of resilience to climatic events, food import dependence, and excessive government intervention.

Most people live in rural agricultural and fishing communities that can’t afford infrastructure to protect them from adverse weather. For instance, they depend on rain to water their crops, as less than one percent of arable land is irrigated.

Weather-sensitive domestic food production results in heavy reliance on imports, with some 85 percent coming from outside the region.

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Uganda furious at EU for censuring oil project over rights abuse

The Ugandan parliament has dismissed a resolution by the European Union (EU) parliament to halt the development of the country’s oil sector, citing environmental concerns and human rights abuses, as economic racism.

Thomas Tayebwa, deputy Speaker of the Ugandan parliament, said the motion by the EU parliament seeks to curtail the progress of Uganda’s oil and gas developments and by extension, the country’s socio-economic growth and development.

“It also seeks to deny Ugandans and East Africans the benefits and opportunities from the oil and gas sector. This represents the highest form of economic racism against developing countries,” Tayebwa said.

Earlier, the European Parliament had fingered the joint oil production and transportation by Uganda and Tanzania, calling on the EU and the international community to exert “maximum pressure” on the two countries over associated human rights abuses and environmental concerns.

The parliament, sitting in Strasbourg, France, advised EU members, the international community and project promoters and stakeholders to “put an end to the extractive activities in protected and sensitive ecosystems, including the shores of Lake Albert.”

But Uganda disagrees.

“It is imprudent to say that Uganda’s oil projects will exacerbate climate change, yet it is a fact that the EU bloc, with only 10 percent of the world’s population, is responsible for 25 percent of global emissions, and Africa, with 20 percent of the world’s population, is responsible for three percent of emissions. The EU and other western countries are historically responsible for climate change. Who then should stop or slow down on development of natural resources? Certainly not Africa or Uganda,” Tayebwa added.

Arrests

Uganda and Tanzania are developing a cross-border oil extraction and pipeline project comprising the installation of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which will transport oil produced from Uganda’s Lake Albert oilfields to the port of Tanga in Tanzania.

The 1,443km pipeline will run from Kabaale, Hoima district in Uganda to the Chongoleani Peninsula near Tanga Port .

At least 80 percent of the thermal-insulated pipeline is in Tanzania and will be buried underground.

The EU legislative body called on the Ugandan government to release those still in custody for protesting the development, noting that various human rights defenders, journalists and civil society actors have been reported to have suffered criminalisation, intimidation and harassment.

Read: Oil pipeline $5b financing headache as activists pile pressure

They include Maxwell Atuhura, an environmental rights defender and field officer in Buliisa for the NGO Africa Institute for Energy Governance.

Federica Marsi, an Italian journalist, was also arbitrarily arrested on May 25, 2021. Others are Joss Kaheero Mugisa, the chairman of the NGO Oil and Gas Human Rights Defenders Association, who spent 56 nights in jail without being sentenced by a court; Robert Birimuye, leader of people affected by the EACOP project in Kyotera District, who was arbitrarily arrested; Yisito Kayinga Muddu, coordinator of Community Transformation Foundation Network, whose house and office were broken into; and Fred Mwesigwa, who testified in the case against TotalEnergies in France and was subsequently threatened with murder.

Read: East Africa oil and gas: The Total takeover

The EU Parliament revealed that a mission from the EU delegation and the embassies of France, Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands was barred from entering the oil zone on November 9, 2021.

The MPs urged players in the project to study the feasibility of an alternative route for the project to better protect sensitive ecosystems and the water resources of Uganda and Tanzania, and limit the impact on the watersheds in the African Great Lakes region.

But environmentalists have argued that nearly a third of the pipeline will run through the basin of Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria, on which more than 40 million people depend for water and food production. It will cross more than 200 rivers and run through thousands of farms. They argue that an oil leak or spill would have catastrophic consequences.

The oil fields prospected for drilling are within Uganda’s oldest and largest national park, which conservationists argue threatens one of the most ecologically diverse and wildlife-rich regions of the world.

But EACOP contends the pipeline is buried and “once topsoil and vegetation have been re-instated, people and animals will be able to cross freely anywhere along its length”.

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South Sudan offers 14 oil blocks to increase output

South Sudan is putting up 14 oil blocks for sale in a bid to increase production to pre-war levels of 350,000 barrels a day.

Chol Deng Thon Abel, the Managing Director of state-owned oil consortium, the Nile Petroleum Corporation Limited (Nilepet), told journalists in the capital Juba on Wednesday that interest in its nascent petroleum industry has been growing.

Much of South Sudan’s oil and gas blocks are yet to be fully explored and resources assessed, stalled by conflict.

“We have 14 oil blocks that have not been taken, and we invite international companies that are here to seize the opportunity to apply for these blocks. South Sudan is actually very busy nowadays attracting international companies to come and invest in the oil industry, and this conference is a very good platform to exchange ideas with international companies,” Mr Abel said at the end of the 5th annual oil and power forum.

Read: South Africa signs oil search deal with South Sudan

South Sudan has the third-largest oil reserves in sub-Saharan Africa, estimated at 3.5 billion barrels, with only about 30 percent of the country explored.

The country currently produces 175,000 barrels a day, about a third of the potential 500,000 bpd, in blocks 1, 2 and 4 and blocks 3 and 7, and block 5A in Unity state.

Read: South Sudan’s oil production plummets

“We have a lot of countries now saying that we need to increase production because there is a huge need for crude because you have the sanctions on Iran, Venezuela and recent Russia and this is where South Sudan is positioning itself to increase production,” Mr Abel said.

Nilepet plans to take over blocks 3 and 7 by 2027, he disclosed, when the exploration production sharing agreement expires.

Blocks 3 and 7 are operated by Dar Petroleum Operating Company, a consortium owned by Malaysian Petroliam Nasional, China National Petroleum Corporation, China Petrochemical, Nile Petroleum and MOG Energy.

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Sahrawi gaffe hands Kenya’s Ruto first diplomatic dilemma

President William Ruto’s communication team has remained mum on the confusion created by Kenya’s policy on the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), giving diplomats the headache of clarifying an age-old international stance.

On Wednesday, President Ruto tweeted that Kenya would no longer recognise the SADR, the portion of Western Sahara ruled by the Polisario Front exiled in neighbouring Algeria. The territory has been contested by Morocco since 1975, even though the SADR is a member of the African Union like Morocco.

“Kenya rescinds its recognition of the SADR and initiates steps to wind down the entity’s presence in the country,” Dr Ruto said.

He had on Tuesday met with Sahrawi President Brahim Ghali, who attended his inauguration at Kasarani.

“Kenya supports the United Nations framework as the exclusive mechanism to find a lasting solution to the dispute over Western Sahara,” he said after meeting Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita. 

Also read: UN names new envoy for Western Sahara

No explanation

The bit about recognition was later deleted, but State House offered no explanation on the position.

By a tweet, the President may have departed from history, including his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta’s, and by deleting the tweet, he may have left confusion on just which way the country’s foreign policy will go. 

Yet some observers think the presidency was only playing realistic politics: Choosing a side that brings direct benefit.

“It could be a strategic business move and Kenya may also be moving towards a neutral approach on this matter, given the role of Morocco,” said Dr Hawa Noor Z, a peace and security researcher and analyst for the Horn of Africa and associate fellow at the Institute for Intercultural and International Studies (InIIS) in Germany.

“Morocco is backed by many powerful countries, including Israel, that have been normalising relations with many Arab states. If you look at this trend and how Kenya is strategically placing itself, in business, especially for this regime, it becomes somehow clear where things are going,” she told The EastAfrican on Thursday. 

She, however, added that the abrupt announcement might run counter to the ‘hustler’ way of supporting the oppressed across the continent. 

SADR not informed

Later, the President indicated that relations with Morocco would be speeded up “in areas of trade, agriculture, health, tourism, energy, among others, for the mutual benefit of our countries”.

Morocco is one of the main producers of fertiliser on the continent, which the President had promised to look for, at cheaper prices, for Kenyan farmers.

In spite of the deleted message, Morocco reinforced the announcement, publishing a lengthy statement that also indicated that Kenya would be opening a resident embassy in Rabat.

“The Republic of Kenya has decided to revoke the recognition of the pseudo-SADR and to begin the steps for the closure of its representation in Nairobi,” the statement said.

By Thursday, the diplomatic mission of the SADR in Nairobi had not been formally informed of a closure requirement, according to diplomatic sources who spoke to The EastAfrican.

Ambassador’s headache

However, the biggest headache may be for Kenya’s ambassador to Algeria, Peter Katana Angore.

In May, he became the first Kenyan ambassador to present credentials to the SADR government exiled in Algerian refugee camps.

His statement after the ceremony reiterated Kenya’s decades-old policy. “The Republic of Kenya has always stood in solidarity with the Sahrawi people in their quest for independence,” he said after meeting Mr Ghali.

SADR set up a resident mission in Nairobi during President Kenyatta’s term.

“Kenya’s position on the question of Western Sahara is predicated on the fact that Kenya, as a country, owes its existence, to a large extent, on the principle of self-determination of peoples as enshrined in the United Nations Charter. 

“We have a historical parallel with the people of Sahrawi and we stand with them. We are strongly convinced that by virtue of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, all peoples have the right to freely determine, without external interference, their political status and to pursue their economic, social, and cultural development. As believers of a rules-based international system, we observe this principle.”

Dr Ruto’s office had butted away claims on Sahrawi before. Last year, while serving as Deputy President, Dr Ruto denied remarks attributed to him by then Moroccan Ambassador to Kenya Mokhtar Ghambou that had suggested the DP supported the autonomy of Western Sahara.

His then chief of staff, Ken Osinde, wrote to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs denying the attribution.

Rush decision

On Wednesday, Morocco’s Foreign ministry claimed Kenya had endorsed the autonomy issue.

“In compliance with the principle of territorial integrity and non-interference, Kenya gives its full support to the serious and credible autonomy plan proposed by the Kingdom of Morocco, as a single solution based on the territorial integrity of Morocco.”

Critics said the decision was made in a rush, especially as there is no substantive Cabinet secretary yet to handle the diplomatic dilemma. In the past, critical policy shifts were discussed in the Cabinet first.

“Whoever advised the President on the Moroccan/Sahrawi issue on day one of his presidency should not be anywhere near MoFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) or the presidency. These are the kind of things you take your time before you make any pronouncements,” argued Mohamed Wehliye, a Kenyan economist and senior advisor to the Saudi Central Bank.

On both occasions when Kenya chaired the African Union Peace and Security Council, in 2021 and this year, Nairobi voiced support for SADR’s quest for independence, through a referendum supervised under UN terms. 

In March 2021, the PSC chaired by Kenya asked the African Union troika and the AU special envoy for Western Sahara, Joachim Chissano, to “reinvigorate support to the UN-led mediation.”

Read: Kenya pushes Western Sahara issue back on AU agenda

At the time, however, Mr Bourita, the Moroccan Foreign minister, wrote to Kenya asking that the discussions be cancelled.

“The theme of the discussions risks provoking severe divisions among the PSC members who would be more comfortable to examine unifying and priority issues, over which there is basic consensus, especially during the challenging period of Covid-19 pandemic,” Mr Bourita argued in a March 1, 2021 letter to Nairobi.

Kenya also chaired another meeting on Western Sahara in February this year “to examine the conditions that have given rise to current tensions and violence and assess whether the policy measures and strategies adopted at the international, regional and national levels are bringing peace to Saharawi.”

Possible isolation

Kenya’s declaration, if implemented, upends a decades-old policy by Nairobi, which aligned with the African Union, to have Sahrawi pursue its self-determination, including through a referendum.

The SADR has had a seat at the African Union since 1982 and had for a long time caused Morocco’s withdrawal from the AU, then known as the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), until 2017 when Rabat returned.

The decision means Kenya has joined the US and Israel in recognising Morocco against SADR but it is the only African country to do so publicly.

Read: US stresses support for Morocco over W. Sahara

Some critics warned the move may isolate Kenya on a continent massively behind SADR.

“In the 1980s, whilst the rest of Africa shunned apartheid in South Africa, Kenya and Malawi defied Africa,” said Donald Kipkorir, referring to the Moi era.

“South Africa has never forgiven Kenya. Their President didn’t attend our inauguration. We are making the same mistake in supporting Morocco against the Sahrawi Republic. Kenya is alone in AU,” he said.

It may, however, be Morocco’s latest victory as it seeks support for a UN-led solution “to vacate the AU against any improper attempt to divert the path of unity and fellowship.”

Initially occupied by the Spanish, Western Sahara was claimed by both Mauritania and Morocco.

Mauritania later left, leaving Rabat to call the region its Southern Provinces of territory.

In 1979, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution A / RES / 34/37 which provided “the unequal rights of Western Sahara people in their own discretion and liberty, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the Charter of the Organisation of the African Unity and the purposes of the General Assembly.”

The dispute between the two sides had been floated in the UN systems, including at the International Court of Justice.

But a referendum meant to determine the future of the region was yet to be organised as both sides disagree on who should participate.

The Polisario Front rejected Morocco’s proposal for autonomy.

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Tanzania’s Samia backs African Court building permanent premises in Arusha

Tanzania President Samia Suluhu has affirmed the country’s support for the African Court for Human and People’s Rights.

President Suluhu made the pledge when the court’s judges paid her a courtesy call at State House Dar es Salaam early this week.

Led by the court President, Lady Justice Imani Daud Aboud, the delegation discussed the building of permanent premises for the Pan-African legal institution with the Tanzanian head of State.

The African Court, which executes duties from the northern Tanzanian city of Arusha, plans to move into its own permanent buildings.

Read: Treaty changes to give African court teeth

Currently, the African Court is hosted at the Tanzania National Parks’ premises in Majengo, Arusha.

Tanzania has since approved funds for the court’s building.

The National Assembly in Dodoma endorsed Tsh4 billion ($1.7 million) for the construction in the outskirts of Arusha.

The Tanzanian government has allocated about 25 hectares of land to the court along the Great North Road on the hill known as ‘Laki-Laki.’

Also read: Tanzania makes U-turn on African court pull out

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Kenya rattled as Britain rejects new EAC tariffs

The UK has demanded that its exports to Kenya be exempted from the newly raised East African Community (EAC) tax charges that took effect on July 1, posing a big dilemma for Nairobi, which is bound by the regional bloc’s decisions.

Trade Principal Secretary Johnson Weru said the UK demands that Kenya abide by the provisions of an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed between the two nations—a request that, if granted could trigger similar demands from other nations.

In a deal struck on May 5, 2022, by the Partner States of the EAC, the Common External Tariff (CET) for imports entering the bloc has been raised by up to 35 per cent from July 1.

The levy is imposed on imported finished products from non-member States in a strategy to stimulate local industry and production.

Mr Weru said the UK had sought assurance “that the EAC-CET 2022 will not apply to them on the basis of the standstill provisions of the Kenya-UK EPA, which entered into force prior to the amendment. This presents a challenge to the implementation of the new CET to ongoing trade agreements.”

Fresh cut flowers

The new levy affects a tax band of products that also includes iron and steel, edible oils, furniture, leather products, and fresh-cut flowers.

Other products on the raised CET tax band include fruits, nuts, sugar and confectionery, coffee, tea, spices, head gears, ceramic products and paints.

This means that from July 1, imports of commodities entering Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania now cost more.

Based on its EPA with Kenya, the UK wants Kenya not to apply the CET levies on its products.

Kenya signed the EPA with the UK on December 8, 2020, before it was ratified by the UK Parliament on March 5, 2021, and by the Kenya National Assembly on March 9, 2021.

Kenya is pursuing a new bilateral trade deal with the UK post-Brexit, hoping to cushion its economy after partner states of the EAC failed to conclude an EPA with the EU. Only Kenya signed and ratified the deal.

Until the end of the Brexit transition period, Kenya enjoyed duty-free, quota-free access to the UK’s markets through the EU’s Market Access Regulation (MAR).

As the UK did not replicate the MAR at the end of the transition period, Kenya would have faced an increase in tariffs without a trade agreement or other measures in place.

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French firms wait on Kenya’s call over Mau Summit highway

French firms are waiting for Kenya’s decision on whether they should go ahead and expand the Mau Summit highways, a key road for cargo movement between Kenya and neighbouring countries.

Visiting French Minister of State for Development, Francophonie and International Partnerships, Ms Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, said it is up to the new President William Ruto when works on the Northern Corridor road starts.

Ms Zacharopoulou spoke to the media on Wednesday, a day after attending Dr Ruto’s inauguration and later met with him at State House to discuss priorities in their bilateral relationships.

But the pending issue from his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta’s days is the incomplete deal that would have seen French firms finance and build the 233km highways that start on the edge of Nairobi in Rironi to Mau Summit through Nakuru.

“We have to resume talks, obviously, but it would be something important and would be nicer for the new administration to speak with the companies,” she said in Nairobi.

“It [discussion] has been slowed by the electoral period, but now we are ready, and all the companies and financiers are waiting to put money into it, but they are waiting for Kenya to resume its part,” she added, referring to the general elections in the two countries.

Talks

French President Emmanuel Macron won back his seat in early May, while Kenya’s electioneering period to replace retiring Uhuru Kenyatta ended on Tuesday.

President Kenyatta had begun discussing the construction of the Ksh160 billion ($1.3 billion) toll highway from Nairobi to Mau Summit, slated to start in September last year.

A French consortium made up of Vinci Highways SAS, Meridian Infrastructure Africa Fund, and Vinci Concessions SAS was tasked to expand the main artery from Nairobi to western Kenya into a four-lane dual carriageway through a public-private partnership model.

The consortium was to design, finance, construct, operate and maintain the highway. The companies would then recoup their finances using the revenues and income generated from tolls charged on motorists at a given tariff. 

Read: Kenya’s plan to toll new Nairobi-Mau Summit highway faces opposition

More players

In July, the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved financing of $150 million to support the project, which involves widening the existing Rironi- Mai Mahiu–Naivasha road to a seven-metre carriageway with two-metre shoulders on both sides. It also includes the construction of a four-kilometre elevated highway through Nakuru town and the building and improvement of interchanges along the highway.

The loan is to be disbursed to Rift Valley Highways Limited – a Kenyan registered special purpose vehicle owned by the consortium.

The Rironi–Nakuru–Mai Mahiu road is part of the Northern Corridor network linking the port of Mombasa through the Malaba border to Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“The companies and financiers are waiting for the letter of support, which is the way Kenya commits to this project,” the French minister said.

“For us, there is a very strong political support even though it is a private project. It all depends on the priorities of the new president.”

SOURCE

French firms are waiting for Kenya’s decision on whether they should go ahead and expand the Mau Summit highways, a key road for cargo movement between Kenya and neighbouring countries. […]

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Hard times for Kenya SGR as port operations return to Mombasa

Kenya’sPresident William Ruto has returned all port operations transferred to Nairobi and Naivasha Inland Container Depots (ICDs) to Mombasa, reversing one of the most controversial policies of the Jubilee administration.

To ensure that the standard gauge railway (SGR) has minimum guaranteed business to repay the Ksh450 billion ($3.7 billion) debt taken to build it, the Uhuru Kenyatta administration forced traders to use the modern railway line, a policy that saw the government transfer clearance to enforce compliance.

Read: Mandatory SGR use causes unease among importers

Speaking on Tuesday during his inauguration, Dr Ruto said the move is aimed at restoring thousands of jobs that had been lost in Mombasa.

“This afternoon, I will be issuing instructions for clearance of all goods and other attendant operational issues to revert to the port of Mombasa. This restores thousands of jobs in the city of Mombasa,” said Dr Ruto.

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2019 launched the extended SGR freight services from Mombasa to the Naivasha ICD, promising faster transportation of cargo to western Kenya and on to neighbouring countries.

Read: SGR moves regional cargo to Naivasha

He also put in place various policies to protect the SGR but ended up hurting transporters who lost thousands of jobs at the Kenyan coast.

The directive is also likely to hurt the businesses that had set up in Naivasha after the directive. The Naivasha ICD was at the heart of Kenya’s ambition to become the transport corridor of choice for neighbouring countries like Tanzania and Uganda.

The State also launched in the same year the upgraded ICD in Nairobi to promote efficient transportation of bulk cargo from the port of Mombasa to the hinterland. The Nairobi ICD which was built by the China Roads and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) was expected to decongest the port of Mombasa while lowering the cost of transporting goods.

But both moves did not go down well with cargo owners who are being forced to ferry their goods to Nairobi or Naivasha via the SGR for onward clearance. Cargo transporters protested the directive, saying the government’s move would raise the cost of doing business, with the costs passed on to consumers.

The government was also accused of issuing the directive without engaging stakeholders and addressing the inefficiencies associated with the port and the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Nairobi.

To date, an appeal challenging orders quashing the directives requiring all cargo be transported to Nairobi and the hinterland exclusively through the SGR is yet to be determined by the Court of Appeal.

The appellate court last November suspended the execution of orders quashing the directive issued by a five-judge bench of the High Court, pending hearing and determination of the appeal filed by the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).

The KPA argued that the directives were meant to operationalise the take-and-pay agreement, which is key to ensuring the loan for the construction of the modern railway line is repaid without many hitches.

According to the take-and-pay agreement, KPA undertook to consign to Kenya Railways a set volume of freight and cargo.

SOURCE

Kenya’sPresident William Ruto has returned all port operations transferred to Nairobi and Naivasha Inland Container Depots (ICDs) to Mombasa, reversing one of the most controversial policies of the Jubilee administration. […]

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William Ruto sworn in as Kenya’s fifth president

Dr William Ruto has been sworn in as the fifth President of Kenya at Kasarani International Stadium in Nairobi.

Dr Ruto took the Oath of Office at 12.44 pm in a swearing-in process led by the Judiciary under Chief Justice Martha Koome and the registrar Anne Amadi.

Dr Ruto also received the highest award in the country – Chief of the Order of the Golden Heart. 

His deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, was also sworn in shortly after him. 

The swearing-in and inauguration kicked off with the entry of President Uhuru Kenyatta aboard the Commander in Chief ceremonial vehicle, after which he inspected a full parade mounted by the Kenya Defence Forces under Lt-Col Gilbert Kinanga’s command.

The event was attended by tens of head of states and diplomats from across the world. They included East African Community presidents among others. 

Check out our other coverage of William Ruto’s inauguration below:

Watch Ruto’s swearing-in live

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Dr William Ruto has been sworn in as the fifth President of Kenya at Kasarani International Stadium in Nairobi. Dr Ruto took the Oath of Office at 12.44 pm in […]

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President William Ruto’s full speech after his inauguration

Dr William Ruto was on Tuesday sworn in as the fifth President of Kenya at Kasarani International Stadium.

Here’s the full speech he issued afterwards.

“This is a momentous occasion for Kenya. Our politics and elections have never failed to be emotive, engaging and dramatic. The most recent installment, however, showcased our most exemplary democratic performance ever. This day comes on the back of a peaceful election following an intense, issue-based campaign, in which major coalitions, made up of strong political parties canvassed their agenda for examination by the people of Kenya. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) stewarded a transparent and credible election, whose result faithfully reflected the democratic will of the Kenyan people. 

Dissatisfied parties exercised their right of petition before the Supreme Court, whose proceedings and determination not only gave comfort to the doubtful, but also restored faith in our electoral and judicial institutions. Many countries aspire to have moments like this, and we should not take ours for granted. This is the third election under the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and the second peaceful democratic transition.

We have had a robust conversation about the moment we are in and what it demands of us, and we sought to answer whether this was a constitutional or an economic moment. In this process, we have demonstrated the maturity of our democracy, the robustness of our institutions and the resilience of our people.

My competitors and I mobilised vigorously to offer the citizens of Kenya the most appealing agenda as well as the best roadmap to achieving it. I remain firm in the conviction that all sides in the last election did their best to present a pathway to actualize the people’s aspirations. The just concluded election was a choice between competing agendas towards the Kenya we want. Elections and democracy entail unifying competition, not divisive rivalry.

The performance of our security services, the IEBC and the Judiciary was put to severe test. By and large, these institutions lived up to our expectations. We can only aspire to do better in future, and I give my undertaking that my administration shall work to ensure that the bar is raised even higher for the next election. 

A significant dividend of our electoral and democratic process is the tremendous achievement we made in breaking the glass ceiling by enhancing the participation of women in leadership. 7 women were elected governors, up from 3 in the last election. 29 women were elected as members of the National Assembly up from 23 in 2017. 7 women Deputy Governors and 3 women Senators were also elected.

It is very clear that this election had many winners far exceeding those who were actually elected. By far, the people are the biggest winners. We have done well. We have blazed the trail in an increasingly challenging environment where democracy is consistently on trial.

We have come a long way in our nation’s journey to freedom and going by our most recent performance in the election, we conclude in confidence that we are almost home. 

Allow me to single out the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for special commendation for the courage to do the right thing under exceptionally challenging circumstances. As an institution, they have set a new standard in public service that is uncompromising, professional and exemplary, raising the bar of integrity of our public officials and institutions. 


It is appropriate to celebrate our Judiciary for sustaining its tradition of boldly giving much-needed guidance, especially in allaying post-election anxieties and resolving grievances in a sensitive, credible and authoritative manner. Its articulation of the aspirations and standards enshrined in the Constitution has deepened our democracy and institutionalized the rule of  law. Our Judiciary is now, without doubt, Kenya’s biggest constitutional dividend. It has successfully arbitrated 3 election disputes and defended the nation against formidable onslaughts on our Constitution. Our Judiciary has demonstrated transparency in its proceedings and decision-making thereby consolidating thereby consolidating its independence, authority and legitimacy.  

I also take this opportunity to say a special word of appreciation to our security services for a commendable job at a critical period in our nation. Their service and the heroic sacrifices they have made beyond the call of duty has kept our nation safe. I am aware that our uniformed services effectively resisted concerted attempts to foment unrest and subvert the will of the people. 

My special commendation to all candidates who contested various positions. Their participation enhanced competition and enriched public debate that underpins democratic choice. Special recognition goes to my worthy competitor and friend, the Hon Raila Amolo Odinga and his running mate Hon Martha Wangari Karua, who mounted a vigorous and  determined campaign. 

Our special gratitude also goes to millions of Kenyans in the Hustler movement for tirelessly mobilizing for the campaign and executing a historic revolutionary feat, perhaps as great as the daring exploits of our legendary freedom fighters. This includes all our campaign volunteers, agents, mobilizers and those who contributed whatever they could, in whatever form, to keep the movement going.  

I also appreciate our religious community and institutions for their support, prayers and encouragement. I commend the Church in particular, and in equal measure the Islamic religious leadership, for their considerable support to us and our campaign. We also appreciate them for continuously exploring avenues for inter-faith understanding and solidarity, which have gone a long way to enhance tolerance and cohesion in Kenya. Faith-based institutions continue to play a noble and indispensable role in our communities and I commit that we will enhance our partnership, collaboration and support. 


At this juncture, it is important for me to speak directly to the youth and especially those who participated, in one way or another, in the election campaigns. I commend them for resisting pressure and enticement to be misused as agents of conflict and disruption during the electioneering period. I also congratulate those who went out to seek various roles within campaigns and election, thus playing their part in keeping Kenya’s democracy robust. Even if your candidates did not win, your participation in the activities of political parties, campaigns and elections is the beginning of political internship. My political journey similarly began as a young  campaign volunteer, fresh out of university. Your experience and lessons learnt should form the basis for your leadership journey.

We have all, therefore, emerged out of this contest stronger, more united and alive to the issues that are common to all of us. We should remain conscious that we have all been elected to work together in ensuring that our children go to school, our people have food and decent healthcare, our youth have jobs and our workers have dignified livelihoods, for it is our strong belief that every hustle matters.


Dreams and ambitions live in the hearts of Kenyans, who struggle daily against daunting odds, often with nothing except stubborn hope. Some succeed, others fail while the others do not even get a decent chance. Before the nation and the world today, I stand with great humility and profound joy, as a living testimony, that with faith in God, willingness to work hard and commitment to a vision, dreams can become reality in the fullness of time. I promise to throw open every door of opportunity and to keep them open until success stories become the norm rather than the exception and urge all other leaders to do the same, so that we can together expand opportunity and chance for many more.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We should consolidate our success in the just-concluded elections and enhance the capacity and performance of all our governance institutions. 

The innovative deployment of technology to secure election results has been the electoral commission pioneering breakthrough. Going forward, we will support IEBC’s institutional capacity so as to expand the deployment of technology to cover all elections from the MCA to the President.

I also believe that there is tremendous opportunity for IEBC to support electoral processes in our political parties as part of broader democratic development.

To consolidate the place of the judiciary in our constitutional and democratic dispensation, my administration will respect judicial decisions while we cement the place of Kenya as a country anchored on democracy and  the rule of law. 

Our campaign for financial independence of the Judiciary has paid off with the implementation of the Judiciary Fund, on July 1st this year. My administration will scale up the budgetary allocation to the judiciary by an additional Ksh 3 billion annually for the next 5 years. These resources will support the bottom-up scaling of justice by increasing the number of small claims courts from the current 25 to 100. We will also work with the Judiciary to build High Courts in the remaining 7 counties, magistrates courts in the remaining 123 sub-counties and support their ongoing digitization program. These interventions will empower the Judiciary to adjudicate and expeditiously conclude corruption cases, commercial disputes and all other matters, thereby enhancing  access to justice and efficiency in the Judiciary.

To further demonstrate my commitment to the independence of the Judiciary, this afternoon I will appoint the 6 judges already nominated for appointment to the court of appeal, three years ago, by the Judicial Service Commission and tomorrow, I shall preside over their swearing-in ceremony so that they can get on with the business of serving the people.

As required by Article 245 of the Constitution, the Inspector-General of Police is mandated to exercise independent command over the National Police Service. The services’ operational autonomy, however, has been undermined by the continued financial dependence on the Office of the President. This situation is going to change.

As I address you, I have instructed that the instrument conferring financial autonomy to the National Police Service by transferring their budget from the Office of the President and designating the Inspector-General as the accounting officer, be placed on my desk for signature. 

Financial independence to the police will give impetus  to the fight against corruption, and end the political weaponization of the criminal justice system; an undertaking I made to the people of Kenya.

I understand the deep fissures and low morale in the public service. The intimidation that was visited on IEBC commissioners and staff during the last election was also meted on various other agencies and staff in the Public Service.  This is now in the past. I assure all public officers that my administration will respect their professional service, and no public servant, even chiefs and their assistants, will be required to run political errands so for any political party or formation.

Ladies and gentlemen, we anchored our campaign on the platform of the economy premised on job creation and the well-being of the people and we have been working continuously on the measures to bring down the cost of living.

Our people are confronted daily with increasingly unaffordable prices, especially food and transport. In our economic forums across the country during the campaign, citizens consistently shared their anxiety, pain and fury on this matter. It calls for an urgent and decisive resolution. 

The interventions in place have not borne any fruit. On fuel subsidy alone, the taxpayers have spent a total of Ksh144 billion, a whooping Ksh 60 billion in the last 4 months. If the subsidy continues to the end of the financial year, it will cost the taxpayer Ksh 280 billion, equivalent to the entire national government development budget. Additionally, there was an attempt to subsidize Unga in the run up to the election, a program that gobbled up Ksh 7 billion in one month, with no impact. In addition to being very costly, consumption subsidy interventions are prone to abuse, they distort markets and create uncertainty, including artificial shortages of the very products being subsidized. 

The cost of living challenges are related to production. Our strategy to bring down the cost of living is predicated on empowering producers. The forecast for maize harvest this year is below 30 million bags against the normal production of 40 million bags. The main cause of the decline in production is the high cost of inputs. 

Our priority intervention therefore, is to  make fertilizer, good-quality seeds and other agricultural inputs affordable and available.  For the short rain season, we have already made arrangements to make 1.4 million bags of fertilizer available at Ksh3,500 for a 50kg bag down from the current Ksh 6,500. This will be available from next week. I appeal to county governments in Eastern, Central and Western regions, to work with us in making sure that the fertilizer is available to farmers. Additionally to cushion tea farmers, we have made arrangements with KTDA to immediately supply tea farmers with fertilizer at Kshs 3,500 down from Kshs 6,500. This is our initial intervention, we will be doing more for the medium term and the long term. 

We are alive to the challenges of drought that face seven counties, which are now at ‘alarm’ and 13 that are at alert stages respectively. We are determined to ensure that no county slips into the emergency phase and will coordinate with county governments, which are the first line of response. We are mobilizing resources to reverse this situation. 

Our goal is not just to provide relief and recovery to restore the situation, but to invest and unlock the huge economic potential of the rangelands that constitute two-thirds of our country.

Jobs is our other priority. It is time for us to stem the tide of youth unemployment. Every year, 800,000 young people join the workforce and over 600,000 of them do not find opportunities for productive work. Moreover, our young people in cities and towns face  very hostile environments, many times treated as a nuisance and their hustles criminalized. Those who seek to set up formal businesses are faced with the bureaucratic monster that is multiple licences. 

Our immediate agenda is to create a favourable business and enterprise environment, decriminalize livelihoods and support people in the informal sector to organise themselves into stable, viable and creditworthy business entities. This is the essence of the bottom-up economic model, which creates a path for traders and entrepreneurs to build linkages, experience safety, and enjoy security. We will work with county governments to create frameworks that provide secure trading places in our cities and towns.

Financial inclusion and access to credit are critical in addressing the fundamental factors of the cost of living, job creation and people’s well-being. We shall take measures to drive down the cost of credit. Our starting point is to shift the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) framework from its current practice of arbitrary, punitive and all or nothing blacklisting of borrowers, which denies borrowers credit. We will work with Credit reference bureaus a new system of credit score rating that provides borrowers with an opportunity to manage on their creditworthiness. This will eliminate blacklisting. 

In our engagements, traders also complained about the onerous burden involved in cash transactions exceeding Kshs 1 million. Many have reverted to storing money under their mattresses at great risk, which is clearly not the intention of the anti-money laundering regulations. While we remain fully committed to mitigating this risk, we believe that there is scope to make compliance less burdensome on genuine business transactions. I have been assured by the Central Bank that work on how to ease this burden without compromising the security of the financial system is underway.

We shall implement the Hustler Fund, dedicated to the capitalization of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises through chamas, saccos and cooperatives to make credit available on affordable terms that do not require collateral.

To implement all these interventions, we shall establish a Ministry of Cooperatives and SME Development mandated to ensure that every small business has secure property rights, access to finance and a supportive regulatory framework.

Furthermore, to deal with the huge challenge of youth unemployment we will roll out our social and affordable low-cost housing program, targeting an average of 250,000 units a year. This will create opportunities in the entire job market.  We will engage TVET institutions to provide necessary skills to enable the Jua Kali industry supply standardized products for our housing program.  We will leverage on our competitive advantage in leather and textile to roll out our labor intensive Agro-processing industrialization program. This will start with the Dongo Kundu and Naivasha industrial parks. 

This afternoon, I will be issuing instructions for clearing of all goods and other attendant operational issues to revert to the port of Mombasa. This restore thousands of jobs in the city of Mombasa. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we must stabilize our public finances. This year, we will spend 60 per cent of our revenues to service our debt. We are faced with Ksh 600 billion in pending bills for goods and services supplied to the government. Clearly, we are living beyond our means. This situation must be corrected. I am aware that many individuals, families and their companies have been driven to ruin and forced to shut down, over government unpaid bills. 

We shall give priority to the expeditious resolution of our pending bills so that the government can meet its obligations and facilitate better economic performance. In the coming weeks, we shall advise government creditors on the mechanism for the resolution of their outstanding payments. We are committed to ensuring that they are paid in the shortest time possible. 


Additionally, we urgently need to expand our tax base. Our job-creation agenda and the capitalizing SMEs will go a long way in broadening our tax bracket.


We will make KRA more professional, efficient, responsive and people-friendly. I urge taxpayers to respond by undertaking their patriotic duty and pay taxes. 

In furtherance to this, oversight institutions such as the Auditor-General and the Controller of Budget will be adequately funded to execute their mandates.

On the matter of gender parity, I am committed to the two-thirds gender rule as enshrined in the Constitution. We will work with Parliament to fastrack various legislative proposals and establish a framework that will resolve this matter expeditiously. The participation of women in our governance does not make us lesser; it makes us greater. And their role can no longer be nominal; it has to be substantive. 

Ladies and gentlemen, our health agenda is premised on fundamental reform in the way healthcare is financed and provided. We shall reform the National Health Insurance Fund to make it a social health insurance provider, improve procurement of medical supplies, deploy an integrated state-of-the-art health information system and most importantly, provide adequate human resources at all levels. Contributions will now graduated and will now be based on income.


There is a robust conversation in the country on education, in particular the implementation of the CBC curriculum. Public participation is critical in this matter. We will establish an Education Reform Taskforce in the Presidency which will be launched in the coming weeks. It will collect views from all key players in line with the constitutional demand of public participation. We are particularly alive to the anxieties of parents on the twin transitions of the last 8-4-4 class and the first CBC class in January next year. I assure that there will be a solution to the matter before then. 

We have elevated our diaspora to be the 48th County. The complaint has been that the diaspora has not received the attention they deserve. The focus has been on remittances, while their fundamental rights as citizens have been neglected. To correct this oversight, I pledge to:

a.Elevate diaspora issues at a ministry level. 
b.Strengthen diaspora services in all embassies.
c.Work with parliament to set up a committee that will exclusively deal with diaspora issues.
d.Set up a mechanism for public participation by the Diaspora. 
e.Work closely with the IEBC to expand and enhance diaspora participation in elections.

Ladies and gentlemen, devolution and sharing of power and resources is not just a national value and principle of governance in the Constitution, but it is the crown jewel of our constitutional dispensation and the proudest achievement of the citizens of Kenya. Every part of the country has experienced the positive impacts of this invaluable institution and Kenyans yearn for a better performance of devolved units. 

One of the best ways of accelerating national development is through collaboration with county governments. As Deputy President, I witnessed first-hand the tremendous potential of inter-governmental synergy and look forward to scaling up our capacity to harness these bountiful possibilities. 

Because of this realization, I have no hesitation in accelerating the transfer of outstanding functions to counties, together with the attendant resources. 

To promote budget efficiency and minimize disruptions and delays in devolved service delivery, my administration commits to take necessary measures to secure the timely disbursement of revenue allocations to county governments.

The success of devolution depends on sound inter-governmental relations. There is a template which incorporates lessons from successes as well as failures in past engagements, and we stand a stronger chance of making devolution work better.

Kenya will continue to be a dedicated partner to peace, security and prosperity in the East African region. We look forward to deepening our integration. We welcome our newest member, the DRC, whose entry now extends our region from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic. Kenya is fully committed to the implementation of the EAC treaty and its protocols of free movement of people, goods and services. Equally important is our commitment to the full actualization of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). 

Ladies and gentlemen, Kenya will continue playing its key role in international diplomacy at the bilateral and multilateral levels, appreciating that we are host to major international agencies, including the United Nations.

Among the central concerns of my government will be climate change. In our country, women and men, young people, farmers, workers and local communities suffer the consequences of climate emergency. 
It is not too late to respond. To tackle this threat, we must act urgently to keep global heating levels below 1.5C, help those in need and end addiction to fossil fuels. 

Africa has the opportunity to lead the world. We have immense potential for renewable energy. Reducing costs of renewal energy technologies make this the most viable energy source. Kenya is on a transition to clean energy that will support jobs, local economies and the sustainable industrialisation. In Kenya, we will lead this endeavor by reaffirming our commitment to transition to 100% clean energy by 2030. We call on all African states to join us in this journey. 

As members of the international community, we shall support a successful Climate Summit in Africa in November, by championing delivery of the finance and technology needed for Africa to adapt to climate impacts, support those in need and manage the transition.

My administration is ready to work with global partners to fight pandemics and other health emergencies. We are also committed to promoting Kenya’s vigilance and efficacy in responding to emerging public health challenges. We stand ready to play our role in the collective efforts to keep the public safe. I call upon countries that have developed vaccines to make them accessible.

Ladies and gentlemen, my government commits to create a business-friendly environment, eradicate barriers that hamper business development and growth, and make Kenya one of the most compelling and attractive business destinations. 

We are an open, democratic society founded on freedom and justice. We take pride in receiving visitors and offering them our legendary hospitality. Kenya is a land of immense natural beauty and unforgettable delights. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I stand here on my Day One as your President. I make a commitment that, in the days ahead, I will make pronouncements that are going to better define the trajectory of my administration. I promise to make every Kenyan proud and ensure the economic well-being of all.”

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Dr William Ruto was on Tuesday sworn in as the fifth President of Kenya at Kasarani International Stadium. Here’s the full speech he issued afterwards. “This is a momentous occasion for Kenya. […]

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Benin officials in Rwanda for talks on support to fight insurgents

Police chiefs of Rwanda and Benin have discussed ways to strengthen cooperation and support the West African country, seeking military assistance to tackle the worsening terrorism insurgency.

Rwanda’s Inspector General of Police (IGP), Dan Munyuza, hosted the Director-General of Benin Republican Police, Soumaila Allabi Yaya, in Kigali on Monday for the talks.

The Benin delegation is in Rwanda for five days “to learn and draw inspiration from Rwanda’s peacekeeping experience” as both countries seek to enhance security cooperation, including fighting organised and transnational crimes.

Benin government spokesperson had told Reuters on Saturday that Kigali could provide logistical support but would not involve deploying Rwandan troops to the country.

On whether there are plans to deploy in Benin, the Rwanda National Police deputy spokesperson, Apollo Sendahangarwa, told The EastAfrican that “there are no signed agreements for now”.

“For that to happen, a memorandum of understanding would have to be signed and legal grounds would be established, which has not happened for now,” he added.

Deadly assaults

Benin, alongside the Gulf of Guinea states Togo and Cote d’Ivoire, has seen increasing attacks from militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State as violence creeps south from the Sahel countries of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

Benin, alongside Togo and Cote d’Ivoire, has been battling strings of deadly assaults by jihadists in the northwest from a spillover of militant activity in neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

“I know you (Rwanda) have a lot of experience in the fight against terrorism, and we want to draw inspiration from it to protect our country, which has been plagued for some time by sordid demonstrations by lawless people,” Mr Yaya said.

Rwanda deployed a peacekeeping mission in Mozambique in July last year, with 1,000 soldiers and police deployed to fight Isis-linked militants in the Cabo Delgado province. The country also deployed troops to the Central African Republic.

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Police chiefs of Rwanda and Benin have discussed ways to strengthen cooperation and support the West African country, seeking military assistance to tackle the worsening terrorism insurgency. Rwanda’s Inspector General […]

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President William Ruto tasks Uhuru Kenyatta to lead regional peace efforts

Kenya’s new President, William Ruto, has tasked his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta to lead peace initiatives in the region as he renewed his commitment to scale up the country’s contribution to regional efforts.

In his inaugural speech after taking the oath of office on Tuesday, President Ruto said his government would be keen on advancing regional integration, trade and peace, continuing on the precedent of his predecessors.

“Kenya is fully committed to the implementation of the EAC treaty and its protocols of free movement of people, goods and services, and the full actualisation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” he said.

He added that Kenya would “continue to be a dedicated partner to peace, security and prosperity in the East African region,” commending President Kenyatta’s role in steering peace talks in the region during his term in office.

President Kenyatta has spearheaded peace talks in the region, especially involving member states of the East African Community (EAC) and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad).

This year, Mr. Kenyatta has led talks in efforts to contain the conflicts in Tigray – northern Ethiopia, the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and cross-border conflicts in EAC.

He hosted the EAC heads of State in April to address the DRC conflict and led efforts to bring the rebels and Kinshasa to the table for dialogue.

Mr Kenyatta was also actively involved in halting escalating tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia earlier this year. The two neighbouring countries agreed to a peaceful resolution after the Igad heads of state and government meeting in Nairobi in July.

Diaspora docket

Alongside Dr Ruto’s commitment to continue Kenya’s role in the region is a pledge to better tackle issues related to Kenyans living abroad through embassies and a legislative committee to exclusive tackle their challenges.

The new president said he will also support the upcoming Climate Summit in Egypt and “work with global partners to fight pandemics and other health emergencies.”

“My government commits to create a business-friendly environment, eradicate barriers that hamper business development and growth, and make Kenya one of the most compelling and attractive business destinations,” he added.

He said Kenya would transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.

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Kenya’s new President, William Ruto, has tasked his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta to lead peace initiatives in the region as he renewed his commitment to scale up the country’s contribution to […]

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DR Congo pledges to pay EAC dues and cement role in bloc

The Democratic Republic of Congo says it will settle dues to the East African Community on time, reflecting the country’s commitment to its new membership in the bloc.

On Thursday, DRC Deputy Prime Minister Christophe Lutundula said Kinshasa is ready to send representatives to EAC organs to cement role in the bloc it formally joined in May. The country, like other member states, is required to pay at least $8 million a year.

Most countries owe the bloc membership fees, however, with South Sudan leading with more than $20 million due.

DR Congo needs to pass amendments to its laws to allow free movement of people, localise trade protocols of the EAC and send members to the East African Legislative Assembly, East African Court of Justice and the Secretariat.

He spoke as the EAC kicked off its first mission to the country led by Secretary General of the EAC Peter Mathuki.

Read: EAC team on orientation tour in DR Congo

Governance instruments

The mission aims to reflect on the key priorities for deepening integration and exploiting investment opportunities, a dispatch said.

It is also meant to help the DRC to improve the understanding of the integration pillars; Common Market, Customs Union, Monetary Union and Political Federation protocols; and the various governance instruments of the EAC to help it easily join the community.

Mr Lutundula said the DRC is preparing to “reorient its policies and resources to create favourable conditions for the development of international trade, to create favourable conditions for the development and achievement of the objectives of the Community.”

“As a member, the DRC will adopt legislation to ensure the effective implementation of the provisions of the Treaty establishing the East African Community.”

Kinshasa says it is already working on a policy for free movement of people, workers, labour, goods and services in the region.

Dr Mathuki said the DRC’s membership will expand the Community’s consumer market from 177 million to 260 million people, raising the GDP from $193 billion to $240 billion.

Although lacking in infrastructure such as roads linking the provinces, the DR Congo has 80 million hectares of arable land, over 1,100 different viable minerals and a market of 90 million people.

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The Democratic Republic of Congo says it will settle dues to the East African Community on time, reflecting the country’s commitment to its new membership in the bloc. On Thursday, […]

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Purge keeps fragile peace in Burundi after coup talk

The manner in which Burundian deputies dispatched Alain Guillaume Bunyoni from the premiership on Wednesday was ruthless but not surprising. It was a unanimous 113-0 vote to impeach him and President Evariste Ndayishimiye promptly replaced him with Gervais Ndirakobuca. Power abhors a vacuum.

Ndirakobuca, a lieutenant-general, is a former rebel who fled from school after the assassination of the first democratically elected president Melchior Ndadaye in 1993. He joined a rebel group which morphed into Burundi’s ruling party in 2005, the CNDD-FDD party.

Read: Burundi MPs eject PM in president purge over coup plot

In a fragile country like Burundi, where the military has a finger in nearly every office, Bunyoni’s marked a purging of pro-Nkurunziza people in government.

At least 54 police provincial commissioners were shuffled as the president said he was disappointed with some top government officials “who think they are untouchable.”

As the head of government, the new prime minister announced his Cabinet, naming Martin Niteretse as the Internal Affairs and Public Security minister. All the dropped ministers were allies of Nkurunziza’s regime.

President Ndayishimiye signed a decree appointing Col Sindayihebura Aloys as Chief of the Civil Cabinet, replacing Gen Gabriel Nizigama, also a Nkurunziza appointee.

Breaking the cycle

Sources told The EastAfrican that border guards have been instructed not to let them out of the country, and there has been talk that Bunyoni could be seeking asylum in Tanzania but there has been no word from Dodoma.

It would not be a surprise for Bunyoni to opt to go into exile in Tanzania. The country hosted the peace talks that led to the formation of a government by the late president Pierre Nkurunziza. The latter also happened to be in Arusha in a meeting in 2015, when there was an attempted coup to oust him for refusing to relinquish power after his two terms.

For the sake of stability and to quash any future attempts to destabilise the country, sources now say President Ndayishimiye wants to make an example of Bunyoni and his accomplices by having then charged in court. However by Friday, there had been no such news and the country it was calm.

Fissures had been opening in Burundi’s political sphere when Bunyoni had a public spat with President Evariste Ndayishimiye for weeks over a rumoured coup plot and it didn’t portend well for the newly recovered stability of the country. Burundi is the poster child of the region’s instability with coups being a part of its political fabric and to crush such a danger, President Ndayishimiye needed to be harsh.

Since taking over in June 2020, following the sudden death of Pierre Nkurunziza, President Ndayishimiye’s leadership style was different. The bad apples in the military blamed for the 2015 coup attempt against Nkurunziza’s administration had been purged, and the president had embarked on cleaning up the country’s image locally and abroad, shedding the yoke of sanctions imposed by the European Union, and having an observer mission of the UN in Bujumbura closed permanently, all in one year.

Power grab

But it turns out all was not well in Gitega, when on Wednesday news started filtering through that the bad blood between the president and his PM — who had publicly criticised each other — had boiled over and that a power grab had been in the offing.

Bunyoni, a former police chief had served as minister for Internal Security in Nkurunziza’s government.

He was very influential and was among the strongmen of the system having amassed wealth, running a series of business networks, hence having his finger on the pulse of the country’s economy.

Also read: US sanctions four Burundians blamed for crisis

Fasttrack to 2022, now prime minister but in a new government, he soon was at loggerheads with the president, with what political watchers believe to be a power struggle within the system following changes in policy that limited his influence.

“During Nkurunziza’s regime, powerful officials could do what they wanted, but now the situation has changed, under Ndayishimiye,” said a top government official, who prefers to remain anonymous.

Clean-up campaign

Other sources say the disagreement between the president and the PM started when the president launched a massive ‘‘clean-up’’ campaign in government offices, to stem corruption and targeting tax cheats.

Some of Bunyoni’s businesses were closed, much to his frustration.

Burundi has been facing fuel, cement and sugar shortages for months, and president Ndayishimiye had publicly criticised top government officials of being behind the shortages for their own benefit.

On Wednesday the Trade and Transport minister signed authorisation allowing businesspeople to import maize and wheat flour, cement and sugar.

Analysts believe that the removal of Gen Bunyoni from was one way to unclog blockages.

Burundi’s economy like those in the region was battered by effects of Covid-19, and although the country did not enforce lockdowns, no goods were coming in or getting out of the country.

Read: Burundi allows sugar, cement imports to tame black market

“What we have done is right and we expect the new Cabinet very soon,” Burundi’s opposition leader Agathon Rwasa told The EastAfrican in Bujumbura, commenting on the PM’s ouster and agreeing with the president’s choice of Ndirakobuca.

It was clear that President Ndayishimiye had been waiting for an opportune time to act going by what he said on Wednesday in Gitega prior to the vote to remove Bunyoni.

“You cannot threaten a general with a coup d’état. Let me be clear that there will never be any coup d’état in Burundi again, by God’s grace,” he said.

Irony facing Chair

The president, who is himself ex-military, must have found himself in awkward position, being the current chair of the EAC and expected to douse such fires in other countries and here his backyard was smoldering. Also Burundian soldiers proudly came out of civil unrest at home and deployed as peacekeepers in Somalia and lately DR Congo.

It would therefore be ironic for President Ndayishimiye to fall in a coup while “his troops” are out there, not just keeping for security but also remitting money that keeps the economy running, only for some government officials to destroy it through corruption.

The other simmering issue, going back to the chaos of 2015 is that the notorious ruling party youth wing, imbonerakure, had their wings clipped and influence dimmed by President Ndayishimiye, to stop them being used by some politicians to harass competitors.

The imbonerakure enjoyed free rein under Nkurunziza, beating, harassing, and kidnapping alleged anti-government citizens and even killing some in broad daylight. Not everyone was happy when their influence was taken away and order restored.

Further, the president gave more powers to the judiciary, army and police to arrest, charge and even relieve top corrupt and wayward officials from office, to bring civil sanity.

Judiciary purge

Corrupt judges were relieved of their duties after being accused of extorting money from the public by delaying judgments. No specific cases have been mentioned in public but the decision by the president came after citizen outreach programmes revealed a frustrated public who claimed that they could not get any service without parting with a bribe and that justice was almost a mirage for the poor.

Thirty five 35 magistrates accused of obstruction of justice and corruption were sacked in June as part of the clean-up and there had been disquiet in government circles.

According to the Presidency, President Ndayishimiye feared that corrupt judiciary officials would themselves become a security hazard by delaying judgments or disputes between villagers, especially on land matters.

In Nkurunziza’s day, Burundi was uncivil with corrupt government officials protected and untouchable. Some did not realise Ndayishimiye’s government was different. Bunyoni’s defiance was meant to frustrate the policies of the president’s clean-up, the Presidency charged.

So on Wednesday, deputies did what the president needed to get his work done, and unanimously voted for Ndirakobuca, who until Wednesday, was the minister for Internal Affairs and Public Security.

“The president of the republic proposed Gervais Ndirakobuca to be prime minister and the president has the mandate to choose who he wants to work with,” said Gelase Ndabirabe, Speaker of the Parliament.

“This was a very brave move keeping in mind that the prime minister had influence in the security forces. That is why you saw the shakeup affect many including regional and provincial police commissioners,” said a political analyst in Bujumbura.

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Tanzania slaps new rules on foreign grain traders

Kenyan grain traders seeking to import maize from Tanzania will now be required to register their companies in Dar es Salaam as the country imposes stricter rules to protect its commodities and jobs from shifting abroad.

The new measure by Tanzania will have an impact on Kenya’s food security as the country relies heavily on cross-border stocks from this East African nation to bridge the annual deficit.

A notice issued by Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture wants foreign traders to register their companies in Tanzania to enjoy better terms and ensure a smoother flow of their commodities across the border.

Tanzania’s Agriculture minister Hussein Bashe said in an interview with The Citizen that the country has not stopped the issuance of permits but has put in place processes to control the arbitrary export of grains.

Read: Tanzania dismisses claims of freezing maize export permits

The measures include the mandatory requirement to secure export permits and the need for foreign exporters to register their entities domestically.

“The ministry urges those who are not Tanzanians to register their companies and to follow the law of the land, so that they can benefit from doing grain business in the country,” said the Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture in a notice.

Measures

Data from the Eastern Africa Grain Council shows imports from Tanzania nearly grew five-fold last year to 469,474 tonnes from 98,000 tonnes in 2020, making it the largest exporter of grain to the country.

The raft of measures issued by Tanzania a fortnight ago also makes it mandatory for importers and exporters of grain to register with the Business Registrations and Licensing Agency (BRELA) and obtain a trading permit.

Traders will also be required to present tax clearance certificate and show business permit issued by BRELA, allowing them to trade on grain before they are allowed to export the commodities.

Before this, Kenyan traders bringing in maize from Tanzania were only required to have export permits, according to United Grain Millers Association chairperson Ken Nyaga.

These strict conditions have seen traders cut on imports from Tanzania, worsening the situation locally, given limited supply of maize locally.

Some millers and animal feed manufacturers raised concerns early in the week that Tanzania had stopped issuing permits last week, cutting the supply of the grain locally.

However, Dar es Salaam has dismissed the claims surrounding the export permits, urging traders from Kenya to follow the right procedures.

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EAC troops get nod for deployment in east DR Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has signed a troop deployment deal with the East African Community (EAC), signalling the imminent formal sending of forces to combat rebels in the east of the country.

President Félix Tshisekedi witnessed the signing of the agreement by Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula and Peter Mathuki, the secretary-general of the EAC.

Mr Lutundula said “the deployment of this force will be in the execution of the political will expressed by all the Heads of State of the community, namely to definitively settle the issue of stability, security and peace in the Great Lakes region within the community”.

Dr Mathuki and Macharia Kamau, Kenya’s special envoy to the Nairobi Process launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta to seek peace in the DRC, have been in Kinshasa as part of the EAC mission to discuss the key priorities for deepening integration and exploiting investment opportunities in the region.

The troop deployment was agreed on in June by the EAC conclave of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC. It was later endorsed by the EAC Summit, indicating an entire agreement of the bloc to support the DRC peace process.

Read: East African army awaits nod on rules for DRC mission

But the actual deployment has been awaiting a formal agreement, which will describe the terms of reference, legal obligations and rights of troops and financial responsibilities of troop contributors. The EAC deal is supposed to be followed by individual member states signing the document before troops are deployed.

Mr Kamau stressed that the security situation in eastern DRC is of great concern. He said the threat requires closer cooperation and collaboration in the region and internationally to eradicate it.

A conclave of East African heads of state held in Nairobi in April decided to create a regional force made up of troops from member countries that would be deployed to the troubled provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri to help combat insecurity.

The DRC authorities have ruled out Rwanda’s participation in the force, following accusations of alleged support by the Rwandan army for the Congolese M23 rebels.

Since August 15, Burundian troops have been deployed in South Kivu to fight local armed groups and rebels from that country who are in eastern Congo. DRC authorities explained that this deployment was part of the East African regional force. South Sudan has also prepared a contingent of 750 soldiers as part of the regional force expected in eastern Congo.

The diplomatic mission was also in the DRC to help Kinshasa improve its understanding of the integration pillars and the various governance instruments of the EAC, such as protocols, laws, regulations, policies and strategies, in order to ensure a smooth entry into the community for the DRC.

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How Kenya’s unemployment rate rose highest in East Africa

The number of Kenyans out of work has doubled over a decade of infrastructure-fuelled economic growth and faster adoption of technology that has left East Africa’s largest economy with the highest unemployment rate in the region.

World Bank data shows 5.7 percent of Kenya’s labour force was out of work in 2021, up from 2.8 percent when the Jubilee administration took over in 2013.

In the same period, unemployment as a portion of the labour force fell from 2.9 percent in 2013 to 2.6 percent in Tanzania while the rate went up in Ethiopia from 2.3 percent to 3.7 percent.

In Uganda unemployment rose from 1.9 percent to 2.9 percent while in Rwanda the rate rose from 1.2 percent to 1.6 percent.

The Kenyan economy has grown by an average of 5.0 percent but this growth has come from capital-intensive infrastructure projects which have not trickled down to the average citizen.

Analysts say the country’s private sector has also rapidly taken up technology that saw massive job cuts, especially in the services like insurance and banking.

Kenya’s unemployed is almost twice the 2.7 percent East African average, with Rwanda having the lowest rate of unemployment at 1.6 percent.

Tanzania, which had a higher rate of unemployment than Kenya in 2013, has lowered its rate below second-placed Ethiopia and third-placed Uganda in the region.

“One of the reasons is the greater adoption of technology which led to a rise in unemployment. Remember banks and fintech shedding jobs?” Prof XN Iraki, an economist at the University of Nairobi, said.

“Secondly, there has been less than expected economic growth, we never reached the magical 10 percent envisaged in Vision 2030. The growth has also been driven by large capital projects which are not labour-intensive.”

The incoming government has the difficult task of kick-starting an economy deeply troubled by high inflation and a lack of jobs.

The Kenya Kwanza administration faces the uphill task of delivering poll promises on jobs, cost of living, economic reforms, infrastructure and housing amid a public sector job freeze and a slump in the private sector due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The situation is worsened by the more than one million young people who graduate from colleges and universities annually in an economic setting that is plagued by reduced hiring on the back of sluggish corporate earnings.

Companies have also been shedding jobs due to technology. For instance, the rise of mobile banking has allowed lenders to reach customers directly, reducing the need for physical locations in a move that has also led to massive job losses among clerical staff.

Banks shed 6,574 clerical jobs between 2014 and 2019 as they move towards digital banking over mobile phones, allowing lenders to employ technology to eliminate mundane tasks, manage costs and increase efficiency.

Prof Iraki says that over the last decade most of the country’s resources have also been spent unwisely, especially by county governments, which devolved corruption and failed to stimulate the economy by consuming Exchequer issues instead of funding development.

The Jubilee administration also failed to deliver job growth due to unfriendly practices like the failure to settle half-a-trillion shilling pending bills that killed many small businesses due to cash flow constraints.

Latest Treasury statistics show pending bills climbed to Sh504.7 billion at the end of the last financial year in June, a 40.39 percent jump over Sh359.5 billion the previous year, making it the biggest annual jump on record.

“Resources sucked into the public sector after devolution were not as efficiently used as expected. They would have created more jobs if they were in the private sector,” Prof Iraki said.

“The regulatory environment has also not been friendly to job creators. Beyond covid-19 stimulus, we have rarely stimulated our economy.”

Kenya has a youth bulge, with 18-34-year-olds making up 25 percent of the population, and those below 15 making up 43 percent.

This part of the population can be a blessing or a curse, for instance fuelling crime and social unrest. Without jobs, insurance or pension when they advance in age, they will weigh heavily on the state’s health and social spending.

Prof Iraki said for businesses the huge number of unemployed youth could bring labour costs down and would be ideal for companies producing goods for exports.

A large number of jobless youth, however, means companies do not see market potential as they will not be able to afford goods and services, thus making the country unattractive for investments targeting local consumers.

“High unemployment rate could put pressure to reduce wages and salaries and investors should be cheered by such low wages. But the low purchasing power would discourage them too unless they are producing for the export market,” Prof Iraki said.

“This might not have a big effect regionally because labour mobility is not that high in Africa. But we have seen Kenyans seeking jobs abroad.”

Kenyans are indeed going abroad in search of jobs with the Central Bank of Kenya Diaspora Remittance Survey indicating 63.6 percent of Kenyans in East Africa left their motherland in search of jobs.

The exodus has not always meant better fortunes given the Survey indicated that income levels are lowest in Asia and East Africa where the majority of respondents earn less than $2,000 per annum, which is a pointer to the type of jobs held by migrants.

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Uganda to allow investors to stay in wetlands

Uganda has ordered all its citizens to vacate wetlands and forest reserves but will allow investors who had set up factories to operate in the meantime because they were misled.

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija said the government is allowing the investors to occupy the catchment areas because they could have been unaware they are protected areas.

“If those [investors] were misled, they will be tolerated because they were not told from the word go, but those [locals] who went there [wetlands] having been warned are the ones we are targeting,” he said.

He made the remarks while unveiling the International University of East Africa as the venue for the upcoming East African Food security symposium and expo scheduled for October 14 to 16.

The government’s move against wetlands encroachment is due to pollution, which is taking a toll on Lake Victoria and other water bodies, Mr Kasaija said.

In July, the government removed rice on an estimated 30-acre wetland in Otuke District in northern Uganda to dissuade farmers from cultivating in catchment areas.

President Yoweri Museveni had ordered all encroachers out of wetlands in January..

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Tanzania dismisses claims of freezing maize export permits

Tanzania has dismissed claims by Kenyan traders that it has frozen the issuance of new maize export permits, urging them to follow procedures.

“Tanzania hasn’t barred issuance of permits for maize exports and it is not planning to do so. Traders should follow crop export procedures including securing crop export permits that are issued free of charge,” said Agriculture Minister Hussein Bashe told The Citizen on Wednesday.

“Between August 27 and September 7, 2022, Tanzania issued maize export permits for 37,450 tonnes of the product,” added Mr Bashe.

Agricultural produce exporters, he said, a required to secure an export permit and a phytosanitary certificate. Foreign exporters are required to register their companies in Tanzania.

“The challenge is that people don’t want to follow procedures. Foreigners would like to arbitrarily enter the farms in Tanzania and ferry the crop to their respective nations,” he said.

The minister said the procedures are to help control arbitrary crop business.

“These procedures have been put in place to prevent possible burden that could befall the government and the country in case there were challenges facing the produce in the international market,” he said.

The minister’s comments follow claims by Kenyan traders that Tanzania had stopped issuing permits since last week, a move that tightened the supply of the staple in Kenya.

Read: Tanzania freezes exports permits for Kenyan traders

Tanzania has for the last two years become a key source market for maize to bridge deficits especially after the two countries mended their trade ties with the change of regime last year following the death of former President John Magufuli.

Data from the Eastern Africa Grain Council shows Kenya imports from Tanzania nearly grew five-fold last year to 469,474 tonnes from 98,000 tonnes in 2020. The development has left processors jostling for stocks that are available locally and a few imports coming in from Zambia.

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Tanzania has dismissed claims by Kenyan traders that it has frozen the issuance of new maize export permits, urging them to follow procedures. “Tanzania hasn’t barred issuance of permits for […]

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Uganda farmers, millers seek ban on maize exports

Ugandan farmers and millers are seeking a ban on the export of maize so as to retain husks used for the manufacture of animal feeds.

Following the disruption of grain supplies from Ukraine and Russia in the wake of the Moscow invasion, countries in East Africa have been competing for the limited maize stock for consumption and producing animal feeds.

The government estimates the country will produce about 2.5 million tonnes of maize this year, down by half, due to poor rainfall.

Agriculture Minister Frank Tumwebaze said the farmers and processors want the government to only allow the exportation of maize flour. “Their argument is that this would bring in more value and also make animal feeds available and cheaper,” he said.

Mr Tumwebaze said the government would study the impact of such a ban.

Uganda is a major source market for Kenya, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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New maize shock as Tanzania freezes exports permits for Kenyan traders

Tanzania has frozen the issuance of new maize export permits for Kenyan traders in what could worsen the shortage of the product, which has driven prices of flour to historic highs.

Several millers and animal feed manufacturers in Kenya told Business Daily the neighbouring country stopped issuing permits last week, tightening the supply of the staple locally.

“We have been unable to get maize from Tanzania since last week after the country stopped issuing export permits to traders with the cutting off of stocks from Tanzania expected to push up the cost of flour,” said Ken Nyaga, the chairperson of the United Grain Millers Association.

John Gathogo, publicity secretary of the Association of Kenya Feed Manufacturers, said their members are unable to get stocks from Tanzania as well following the move that has seen processors cut down on production.

Millers are issued with a one-off permit for grain export from Tanzania and they need to apply for a new one every time they intend to ship maize out of that country.

Tanzania has for the last two years become a key source market for maize to bridge deficits especially after the two countries mended their trade ties with the change of regime last year following the death of former President John Magufuli.

Data from the Eastern Africa Grain Council shows imports from Tanzania nearly grew five-fold last year to 469,474 tonnes from 98,000 tonnes in 2020. The development has left processors jostling for stocks that are available locally and a few imports coming in from Zambia. Tanzania restricts exports to protect its local stock following poor harvests.

Read: Kenya wants share of maize imports from Africa raised

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) said the maize coming in through the Namanga border has significantly declined, confirming that imports into the country at that point is originating from Zambia.

“We have witnessed a significant decline in maize coming in from Tanzania; on average we are now getting 10 trucks from a high of 80 trucks previously,” a Kebs official at the Namanga border said.

The move leaves Zambia as the only key source market for the produce to bridge the local deficit as most stocks from Uganda— also a key source — is now heading to South Sudan owing to high prices in Juba.

The shortage occasioned by Tanzanian ban will push up the price of maize locally to Ksh5,900 ($49.06) for a 90-kilogramme bag from Ksh5,400 ($44.91), according to millers.

Kenya has been relying on cross-border stocks from Tanzania and Uganda to meet the rising demand of flour after supply in the local market dwindled. The price of flour has jumped to Ksh210 ($1.75) for a two-kilo pack after the subsidy programme that lowered the cost to Ksh100 ($0.83) ended.

Countries in the region are competing for a limited white maize for flour and animal feeds.

$1 = Ksh120.25

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One killed during anti-UN protest in east DR Congo

A man was killed on Tuesday in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo during a protest against United Nations peacekeepers, police and the UN said, in the latest violence in the troubled region.

Returning from patrol, UN peacekeepers, escorted by DR Congo armed forces, “were attacked by demonstrators throwing stones”, the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, known as MONUSCO, said in a statement.

“Warning shots permitted a path to be made through. One person unfortunately lost their life,” it added. “A joint investigation with the Congolese authorities will enable the circumstances of this death to be established.”

A police spokesman Nasson Murara had earlier said that UN troops had been passing through the town of Beni in North Kivu province when protesters on motorbikes blocked them and started throwing stones.

The troops fired shots to disperse the crowd, he said. “Unfortunately, in this mess of bullets, there was a stray that hit a driver, who is dead,” he told AFP. Police have launched an investigation to “identify the perpetrators of these shots”, Murara said.

Pepe Kavotha, the head of a network of civil society groups in Beni, said they “condemned the peacekeepers firing on the population”. The latest unrest follows deadly protests in July against MONUSCO.

Read: Death toll from anti-UN protests in DRC rises to 19

Thirty-two demonstrators and four UN troops died over the course of a week-long disturbance, according to a Congolese toll, and UN bases were ransacked. An estimated 120 armed groups roam eastern DRC, many of them a legacy of two regional wars that flared in the last decade of the 20th century.

Many Congolese are frustrated by MONUSCO’s perceived ineffectiveness in the face of persistent violence. 

Read: EDITORIAL: Monusco attacks call for EAC force deployment

The United Nations first deployed an observer mission to eastern Congo in 1999. It became the peacekeeping mission MONUSCO — the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — in 2010, with a mandate to conduct offensive operations.

It has a current strength of about 16,000 uniformed personnel.

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How William Ruto’s election as Kenya president will impact Uganda

The news of the election of William Ruto as Kenya’s next president was well received across certain quarters of the Ugandan government. His reaffirmation as duly elected by the Supreme Court on Monday is the gift that keeps on giving that Kampala could only have wished for. 

When Dr Ruto takes over the mantle next Tuesday as Kenya’s fifth president, Kampala will be waiting with bated breath on whether he will reinvigorate the dull spark in Uganda-Kenya relations. Both countries are like Siamese twins tied to the umbilical cord. They share dialects, ethnicities and cultures. 

Read: Inside Museveni-Ruto friendship

They routinely spar over, especially trade, but nothing serious. The uneasy political triangle in Nairobi between Dr Ruto and his archival, five-time presidential contender, Mr Raila Odinga, briefly spiralled to Kampala, but it was nothing serious.

Yet, according to diplomatic sources, the Kampala regime frowned upon the possibility of the Odinga presidency. Kampala’s many misgivings with Mr Odinga, whose election petition the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed over lack of evidence, include frolicking with President Museveni’s implacable foe, Dr Kizza Besigye.

The embers of anti-Ugandan sentiments are also strong in Mr Odinga’s strongholds in parts of western Kenya. During the 2007 election violence, following the contested polls that pitted Mr Odinga against Mwai Kibaki, a section of metre-gauge railway was uprooted and Uganda-bound cargo trucks were targeted. In the aftermath of last month’s Kenya polls, Uganda-bound cargo trucks were re-routed.

Dr Ruto’s romance with the Kampala establishment jolted some in Nairobi in the months leading to the August elections. While his win has been hailed as breaking the back of dynasty politics, his Kenya Kwanza manifesto under the theme “Shaking up Kenya through Bottom Up Economy” hardly mentions his foreign policy prescriptions, which raises fears that his administration might not break ranks nor alter much of his predecessor’s policies.

Uganda barely has a foreign policy—it is largely conjured based on the mood of the Executive—but in his manifesto for 2021-2026, President Museveni detailed several ways to further relations with especially the East African Community (EAC).

Kenya, which serves as Uganda’s gateway to the sea, is an economic powerhouse in sub-Saharan Africa. As such, the country has sparred with Uganda and Tanzania over non-tariff barriers to curtail imports and promote the domestic market.

Read: Kenya’s change of guard: Why neighbours watch every step

Unlike Uganda, which has a lot at stake, Tanzania reciprocates swiftly whenever Nairobi takes such a hard stance.

The outgoing Kenyatta administration enacted the Foreign Service Act—signed in November 2021—to guide Kenya’s foreign relations and engagements, including regional integration, which will be tried and tested to the fullest by the incoming government.

During his first term as Deputy President, Dr Ruto represented Kenya on a number of foreign assignments, including addressing the United Nations General Assembly in September 2016. The delegation seems to have waned as his relationship with his boss soured.

SGR venture

Besides cementing bilateral relations between the countries and offering room for intra-trade, Kampala also hopes that the Ruto administration will rekindle plans and agree to finance the remaining sections of the shinny Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) connecting Malaba en route to Kampala, which plans were first reached in 2008.

The arrangements for the much-touted SGR were subsequently concretised in 2012 with the two countries agreeing to construct China Class One standard, whose design classification according to the Chinese standards, is one with annual passengers/freight traffic volume for the near-term, which is more than or equal to 20 metric tonnes.

While the plan was to borrow money jointly from China’s Exim Bank for the regional project, Nairobi did not live up to its promise and started parallel negotiations shortly and acquired $3.8 billion for the Mombasa to Nairobi section, and later the 120km line from Nairobi to Naivasha at $1.7 billion.

Kenya eventually took its foot off the gas pedal on the plans after Uganda, with the backing of French oil giant now TotalEnergies EP, opted for the southern route as the least cost for the route of the proposed East African Crude Oil Pipeline.

The Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP), a loose cooperation of EAC involving Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and South Sudan—to work together on joint infrastructure projects, including the SGR stretching from the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa to Kampala en route to Kigali and Juba—also collapsed. There is all indication of little appetite for the NCIP, especially after the bruising ego Kampala-Kigali disagreements and it will remain to be seen if Dr Ruto can revive the coalition.

SOURCE

The news of the election of William Ruto as Kenya’s next president was well received across certain quarters of the Ugandan government. His reaffirmation as duly elected by the Supreme Court […]

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Burundi MPs eject prime minister in president purge over coup plot

Burundi’s parliament on Wednesday approved the appointment of a new prime minister after President Evariste Ndayishimiye warned last week of a possible coup plot against him.

The President sacked his prime minister Alain Guillaume Bunyoni and his cabinet chief General Gabriel Nizigama on a day of high drama in the troubled country.

At a hastily called parliamentary session, lawmakers approved the appointment of Security Minister Gervais Ndirakobuca to replace Bunyoni as prime minister in a unanimous 105-0 vote.

Mr Bunyoni is a former police chief and had been in office as prime minister for two years. He had also served as Minister for Internal Security during president Nkurunziza’s regime.

“The President of the Republic proposed Gervais Ndirakobuca to be the prime minister, and the president has the mandate to choose who he wants to work with,” said Gelase Ndabirabe, the Speaker of Parliament, before lawmakers approved the new prime minister.

Coup plot

Mr Bunyoni’s departure came after President Ndayishimiye, who has been in power for just over two years, had last week warned of a coup plot against him.

“Do you think an army general can be threatened by saying they will make a coup?  Who is that person? Whoever it is should come and in the name of God I will defeat him,” President Ndayishimiye had warned at a meeting of government officials on Friday.

There has been speculation of a possible feud between the Prime Minister and the President due to a power struggle.

Read: Rumours of a coup bedevil Burundi

The fate of Bunyoni, a senior figure in the CNDD-FDD party, the former rebel group that has ruled the country for years, was not immediately known.

Nizigama was replaced by Colonel Aloys Sindayihebura, who until now has been in charge of domestic intelligence within the National Intelligence Service.

Mr Ndayishimiye took power in the troubled nation in June 2020 after his predecessor Pierre Nkurunziza died of what the authorities said was heart failure.

His election in May 2020 had offered promise after the chaotic and bloody rule of his predecessor, although the country has failed to improve its dire record on human rights.

Political opponents

Nkurunziza had launched a crackdown on political opponents in 2015 that left 1,200 people dead and made Burundi a global pariah.

The turmoil erupted after Nkurunziza launched a bid for a third term in office, despite concerns over the legality of such a move.

The United States and the European Union had imposed sanctions over the unrest that also sent 400,000 people fleeing the country, with reports of arbitrary arrests, torture, killings and enforced disappearances.

Earlier this year, both resumed aid flows to the landlocked nation of 12 million people after easing the 2015 sanctions.

Civil society groups have returned, the BBC is allowed to broadcast again and the EU — Burundi’s largest foreign donor — has commended efforts to fight corruption.

Read: Burundi’s president in Brussels for EU-AU Summit

New PM Ndirakobuca was sanctioned in 2015 by the US for “silencing those opposed” to Nkurunziza’s third term bid.

Burundi’s history is littered with presidential assassinations, coups, ethnic massacres and a long civil war that ended in 2006 and left some 300,000 dead.

– Additional reporting by The EastAfrican

*Story updated

SOURCE

Burundi’s parliament on Wednesday approved the appointment of a new prime minister after President Evariste Ndayishimiye warned last week of a possible coup plot against him. The President sacked his […]

Continue reading "Burundi MPs eject prime minister in president purge over coup plot"

Landslides kill at least 15 in western Uganda

At least 15 people died in Rukooki, Kasese District, western Uganda after their homes were buried following Tuesday night mudslides caused by a heavy downpour that also left hundreds of residents displaced.

Several others are reported missing or feared dead as search and rescue operations by Uganda Red Cross officials, residents and local authorities intensify.

Red Cross officials said the death toll had risen to 15 after five more bodies were retrieved from the debris on Wednesday morning. Six other people have been rescued and transferred to a nearby hospital.

“Majority of the dead are mothers and children,” Uganda Red Cross spokeswoman Irene Nakasita said in a statement.

Simon Buhaka, the local council chairperson, said the bodies had been retrieved from the debris of collapsed houses following the night rain that lasted about six hours.

Mr Buhaka said most homesteads were knocked down at 3 am when their occupants were sleeping.

Locals have been using rudimentary tools like hoes and spades to search and retrieve the victims’ bodies.

Kasese District, where the disaster occurred, is prone to landslides, especially during the rainy season, because it sits in the foothills of the Rwenzori mountains that straddle the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

After a prolonged drought, heavy rains have fallen on much of Uganda since late July, causing deaths and flooding and the destruction of crops, homes and infrastructure.

Last week, two people died following a mudslide in neighbouring Bundibugyo District. Additionally, two people were swept away by floods in Kirembe, Kasese District.

In July, flooding caused by heavy rains killed at least 24 people in Mbale district in eastern Uganda.

The country’s weather agency had warned it would be hit by unusually strong and destructive rains in the August-December season and advised people living in mountainous areas to be vigilant or evacuate to safer areas.

SOURCE

At least 15 people died in Rukooki, Kasese District, western Uganda after their homes were buried following Tuesday night mudslides caused by a heavy downpour that also left hundreds of […]

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William Ruto inauguration as Kenya president set for next week

Kenya says it will swear in President-elect William Ruto on Tuesday, assuring the country of a stable transition programme in spite of reservations by his would-be predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta.

The country’s Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua announced that Dr Ruto, whose victory was upheld by the Supreme Court on Monday, will be sworn-in seven days after the decision.

Speaking after chairing an Assumption of Office meeting attended by leaders and members of Dr Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance, Mr Kinyua said the swearing in will be conducted under the law, between 10am and 2pm. Deputy President-elect Rigathi Gachagua will also take an oath on the same day.

“In keeping up with President Kenyatta’s commitment to facilitate a smooth transition to the incoming administration as announced yesterday, I am pleased to notify the nation that we convened a meeting this morning to address the progress of the change of administration that has been ongoing from August 12,” said Mr Kinyua.

He said a peaceful and orderly transition in administrations is the hallmark of Kenya’s democracy and testament of its status as a beacon of stability and rule of law.

The swearing in ceremony shall be held at Kasarani Sports Stadium and the day shall be a public holiday.

“With the election cycle now behind us, the swearing-in and inauguration ceremony is an opportunity for the nation to not only witness and usher in our country’s 5th administration, but also celebrate the strength and vibrancy of our constitutional and democratic processes which differentiates Kenya from many countries in Africa and beyond,” added Mr Kinyua.

All Kenyans have been invited to the event.

SOURCE

Kenya says it will swear in President-elect William Ruto on Tuesday, assuring the country of a stable transition programme in spite of reservations by his would-be predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta. The […]

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Rumours of a coup bedevil Burundi

Just when it all seemed calm, Burundi’s political tensions have risen again, following suspicions some senior leaders were plotting to oust President Evariste Ndayishimiye.

On Friday last week, President Ndayishimiye, while addressing government officials in the capital Gitega, warned “some individuals” who he did not name are threatening to overthrow his government, just after two years in the office.

“Do you think an army general can be threatened by saying they will make a coup d’état?  Who is that? Whoever it is should come and in the name of God I will defeat him,” Mr Ndayishimiye warned.

The Burundian president expressed his frustration in the country’s political capital after video clips circulated on social media showing the country’s Prime Minister Alain Guillaume Bunyoni lamenting about “individuals who are backbiting” instead of telling things straight away.

Read: Burundi, the poorest country on the planet: What went wrong?

The clips raised concerns of a possible feud between the Prime Minister and the President due to a power struggle even though the two have often appeared in public and the council of ministers meetings together.

“I want to tell those who think they are powerful to be humble…there is one I saw…in Burundi, there will never be any coup d’état again and God is the witness…those who wish bad things for Burundi, they should prepare for defeat,” the Burundian leader and army general warned.

A professor at the University of Bujumbura told The EastAfrican that the tensions between the PM and the President may be because of the policy changes under Gen Ndayishimiye. “There is a struggle inside the system as the president is changing a lot of things like fighting corruption and impunity. Many within are feeling the pinch,” he said on condition of anonymity so he can discuss the topic without fear of reprisals.

President Ndayishimiye, who took over power in June 2020, promised to restore the rule of law, accountability and fight against impunity.  This has resulted to dozens of high profile government officials relieved from their duties for failure to deliver. This push has seen him regularise ties with the West as financial sanctions imposed by the European Union were lifted in February this year.

Read: Burundi wins big as bloc lifts economic sanctions

Burundi had gone through turmoil since it gained its Independence in 1962 with the most recent political crisis dating back in 2015 when protests against the former president Pierre Nkurunziza led to deaths of more than 1,000 people. There was a coup attempt to overthrow Nkurunziza’s government as he attended a summit of the East African Community in Dar es Salaam. The culprits are still serving jail terms.

“A coup d’état at this moment is more difficult but what we need to understand is that there is a crack within the system, and who knows what comes tomorrow? The president is facing a big challenge now,” the professor argued.

Burundi has witnessed three coups, two presidential assassinations, in addition to the failed coup in 2015 that plunged the country into deadly unrest.

SOURCE

Just when it all seemed calm, Burundi’s political tensions have risen again, following suspicions some senior leaders were plotting to oust President Evariste Ndayishimiye. On Friday last week, President Ndayishimiye, while addressing […]

Continue reading "Rumours of a coup bedevil Burundi"

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