How Myanmar became destination for trafficked East Africans

On a Facebook page routinely appearing in the East African region, ‘models’, saleswomen and teachers of English are invited to apply for jobs ranging from marketing, language classes and translation.

And the promised pay is hefty, by East African standards. One offer for a ‘sales specialist’ promises one to earn Thai Baht (TBH) 7,5000 (about KSh256,000 or $2,098) per month. A bilingual translator could earn up to $3,000, mostly to work at a call centre where clients are foreign speakers of English or some other language. It is an added advantage if you can speak Chinese and are white, but good looks generally will do you fine.

The qualification, the advert shows is simple. You must be a university graduate, good at communication skills and have a “cheerful” personality. What is more, a human relations manager whose salary is Ksh150,000 ($1,229) can more than double their take-home if they recruit more workers. One offer says they will get $139 times the number of employees under their watch.

Flight ticket guaranteed

The jobs also require one to have fast typing skills and that one must be able to relocate to Thailand with a promise to have their visas sorted and a flight ticket guaranteed.

This type of recruitment, it turns out, has gotten more East Africans travelling in droves to Thailand, but ending up enslaved in Myanmar, according to a bulletin by the Kenyan Foreign and Diaspora Affairs ministry.

One survivor, recently rescued from Myanmar, told The EastAfrican they were duped into the jobs but were moved to an unknown location as soon as they landed in Thailand, initially on a tourism visa. That place turned out to be a remote location inside Myanmar, a country under a state of emergency since last year when the military junta deposed a democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

“They said they wanted their employees to be taught English so they can speak fluently to their clients,” Martha* said.

“After we arrived, they took our passports and we were moved mostly through remote locations. They said they were avoiding dangerous security points. But they had not told us we would end up in Myanmar,” she explained.

Rescued

Martha, a Kenyan, was among 24 East Africans rescued in September from Myanmar in a concerted effort by the Kenyan and Laos government with HAART Kenya and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). The group also included a Burundian and a Ugandan. Earlier, a group of 13 had also been rescued after the Thai military responded to distress calls.

The Kenyan Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs said on Wednesday that the Laos security forces had rescued another group of six, collaborating with the UN agencies. But the response has been to only those who manage to sneak out their call for help.

“Already, one young Kenyan has died as a result of a botched operation by quack doctors operating in the so-called special economic zones in rebel controlled areas in Myanmar,” the Kenyan ministry said, suggesting organ harvesting is fuelling the trafficking. Officials did not reveal the identity or gender of the dead Kenyan. But most of those rescued recently have been all women.

“Others who have been rescued have returned home in crutches and with broken limbs after being beaten severely by up to 20 gang members operating in the factories.”

Coordinated gangs

The gangs are coordinated, given that travelling between Nairobi and Myanmar is treacherous. With no direct flights and no diplomatic missions between any east African country and Myanmar, travellers are lured as though they are going to Bangkok, a popular destination for tourists, and famous for its blind masseuses. Others are advertised as jobs in Mae Sot, a town in Thailand near the border with Myanmar.

“The jobs that are purported to be in Mae Sot town in Thailand are fake. The cartels use Mae Sot as a bait. As soon as one lands in Mae Sot, they are whisked across the river to the factories in Myanmar,” the Kenyan government warned on Wednesday.

“Kenyans continue to fall prey to online job scammers, who are unrelenting in their search for innocent Kenyans to sell to Chinese cartels. Many of the agents, wanted by the police, are still advertising sales and customer care jobs purported to be in Thailand with impunity, well aware that there are no such jobs.”

Since August, Nairobi says 75 victims of trafficking have been brought back home. They include ten Ugandans and a Burundian, rescued in cooperation with the governments of Thailand, Laos, IOM and HAART Kenya. Authorities estimated there could be more still trapped, as there at least 30 distress calls pending rescue.

Those rescued say they had to work long hours and the pay was not forthcoming. Those trafficked were mostly women under 35. They also said they were working in an area controlled by rebels opposed to the junta in Myanmar. Nairobi says “the rebels provide protection to the Chinese criminal cartels” who sometimes threaten Thai and Laos government officials planning rescue operations.

Kenya now says it will raise supervision on any East African travelling to Thailand through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to purge anyone travelling after getting an ‘online job’ there. In addition, those travelling to Thailand on ‘tourist’ visas will have to show exact address and return tickets even though the government said it invites any Kenyans “to Thailand and other countries in the region who come for legit work and leisure but not as victims of trafficking”.

At least 2,5O0 Kenyans work and study in Thailand, according to official government records.

“Some are teachers, doctors, IT professionals, international civil servants working with UN agencies and others doing business. We have Kenyans who have lived in Thailand for over 30 years and married Thai citizens.”

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On a Facebook page routinely appearing in the East African region, ‘models’, saleswomen and teachers of English are invited to apply for jobs ranging from marketing, language classes and translation. […]

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‘White rebel’ label for journalist killed in South Sudan angers US

The United States embassy in Juba has condemned the recent statement by South Sudan’s Information minister describing its journalist killed in war front years ago as a ‘white rebel’.

Christopher Allen, a US-British journalist, was killed in a crossfire in Kaya Central Equatoria State in August 2017 during clashes between South Sudan’s Defence Forces and Sudan People Liberation Army-In Opposition.

Information Minister Michael Makuei’s statement five years ago caused controversy after he described the journalist as a ‘white rebel’.

And at an event last week, Makuei reiterated his previous statement, claiming that the late Allen was in the country illegally.

Calls for probe

His comment comes after the US Embassy issued repeated calls to the coalition government to investigate and hold to account Allen’s killers.

“This man [Allen] had entered the country illegally in the first place, and that’s why I declared in a statement that we have killed a white rebel, because he was killed on the side of the rebels.

“So, he was a rebel. Now, can we be held answerable or accountable for the death of such a journalist? This is funny; and we are being asked to investigate. Whom do we investigate now?” asked Makuei.

Reacting to Makuei’s statement, the US embassy described Makuei’s statement as reckless.

“The remarks would be irresponsible and reprehensible at any time but are all the more so as they were made on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

“The US embassy is seeking clarification as to whether these comments represent the position of the government of South Sudan,” said the embassy.

The diplomatic mission renewed its calls to the coalition government to conduct a credible inquiry into Mr Allen’s death and to share its findings with the journalist’s family.

Minister Makuei is among individuals sanctioned in 2017 by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control for expanding or extending the conflict in South Sudan. He was reportedly instrumental to President Salva Kiir’s initial unwillingness to sign a peace agreement in August 2015. 

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The United States embassy in Juba has condemned the recent statement by South Sudan’s Information minister describing its journalist killed in war front years ago as a ‘white rebel’. Christopher […]

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IMF warns of looming recession in 2023 as shocks persist

The International Monetary Fund has warned that a global economic recession could be apparent next year if the war in Ukraine and other economic shocks persist in the near term.

The projections for the growth rate of the global output (Gross Domestic Product) this year remain 3.2 percent as earlier predicted, down from 6 percent in 2021, and is forecast to reduce further to 2.7 percent in 2023.

Read: Brace for impact, some of East African woes are self-inflicted

The global slowdown is a result of the Russian war in Ukraine, rising costs of living caused by persistent and relentless inflation pressures, and the reduced economic activity in China due to consistent lockdowns, dimming the global growth prospects, IMF said.

“The 2023 slowdown will be broad-based, with countries accounting for a third of the global economy expected to contract this year or next,” said Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, IMF’s chief economist and research director.

“The worst is yet to come, and for many people, 2023 will feel like a recession. Despite the slowdown, inflation pressures are proving broader and more persistent than anticipated.”

Read: East Africa’s economic recovery prospects facing headwinds

Global inflation is expected to peak at 9.5 percent in the third quarter of 2022, and is broadening beyond food and energy, IMF said.

Should the war in Ukraine persist, inflation continue to broaden and the dollar continue to appreciate, IMF says, there is a 25 percent chance GDP growth could drop to below two percent and a 10 percent chance it could reduce to 1.1 percent.

Read: Africa facing recession, a first in 25 years says World Bank

“Increasing price pressures remain the most immediate threat to present and future prosperity by squeezing real incomes and undermining microeconomic stability,” Mr Gourinchas said.

The growth rate in Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to drop to 3.6 percent in 2022 down from 4.7 percent last year.

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The International Monetary Fund has warned that a global economic recession could be apparent next year if the war in Ukraine and other economic shocks persist in the near term. […]

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Puzzle of ‘missing’ Ugandan MP’s Nairobi-Kampala journey

A Uganda Member of Parliament who was reported missing after taking a taxi in Nairobi, Kenya, is reported to be in Kampala.

Just hours after media reports that he was reported missing when he boarded an Uber taxi from the Kilimani area on Sunday morning to the Nairobi City Centre, Bukigai County MP David Wakikona on Tuesday afternoon told The Monitor that he is in Kampala.

On Tuesday, details emerged of how the Ugandan legislator left Samra Court, located along Argwings Kodhek Road in Nairobi, and made his way to Kampala.

The Nation established that the legislator left the Nairobi apartment without informing any of his colleagues from the Uganda Parliament. 

Mr Wakikona on October 3, 2022, arrived in Kenya alongside fellow MPs including Abdi Fadhil Kisos Chemaswet (Kween County), John Ngoya (Bokora), Paul Busiro (Busiro) and Clerk of the National Assembly Opio Emmanuel.

Read: Ugandan MP missing in Nairobi after boarding taxi

On October 9, he asked a guard at the city apartment to get him a taxi to drop him off at Tom Mboya Street. It has been established that upon reaching Nairobi Central Business District, the Ugandan legislator proceeded to Latema Road where he booked a Molo Line matatu to Nakuru City.

A senior detective privy to the matter said that once in Nakuru, he then boarded another vehicle. His phone signal showed that by 2 pm he was in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County. He then proceeded to Bungoma County before travelling to Kampala.

Unaware of Mr Wakikona’s whereabouts, his colleagues filed a missing person’s report at Kilimani Police Station, prompting Directorate of Criminal Investigations officers to track him down to the Kenya-Uganda border. The officers could not get hold of the MP as he had already crossed into Uganda.

 “A missing person report was filed at Kilimani police station and the DCI took over the investigations. The MP has already returned to Uganda,” Kilimani Sub-County police boss Andrew Muturi said on Tuesday.   

Shortly after reports of Mr Wakikona’s disappearance appeared on Tuesday, he issued a statement in Uganda saying he was safe and asked local journalists to find him within Parliament Buildings in Kampala.

“I am here [in Kampala], you come to Parliament you will see me,” he said.  

Political career

Since he was re-elected in the 2021 Uganda General Election, Mr Wakikona has been embroiled in a court case challenging his academic qualifications.

His main opponent, Mr Wilson Watila, moved to court challenging his election victory. Mr Watila garnered 2,177 votes against 4,108 polled by Mr Wakikona.

Mr Watila rejected the poll results and filed a petition at the Mbale High Court, accusing his opponent of electoral malpractices, which he alleged had denied him victory.

He also cited discrepancies in the names on the academic documents belonging to his rival, saying that he did not swear a poll deed before his nomination.

Mr Watila claimed that the ‘O’-Level certificate presented by his rival indicates that he is David Wakikona Wanendeya while the ‘A’- level certificate reads Wakikona Wanendeya David.

He also said that his certificate from Soroti Flying School carries Wakikona D. Wanendeya while his advanced flying certificate reads Wakikona David. 

But Wakikona’s lawyers from Tumusiime Kabega and Co. Advocates told the court that the affidavits that accompanied the petition were defective since they were prepared by a commissioner of oaths who never had a valid practicing certificate.

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A Uganda Member of Parliament who was reported missing after taking a taxi in Nairobi, Kenya, is reported to be in Kampala. Just hours after media reports that he was reported […]

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Sentry links banks, firms and senior officials to Sudan Sudan plunder

US advocacy group The Sentry is alleging $1 billion was embezzled in deals involving senior government officials, foreign companies and international banks in South Sudan.

In the investigation titled Cash Grab: How a Billion-Dollar Scam Credit Robbed South Sudan of Fuel, Food and Medicine, The Sentry places the theft at the door of a 2012 failed letter of credit programme.

“Between 2012 and 2015, the government of South Sudan received a credit line of nearly $1 billion from Qatar National Bank (QNB) and CfC Stanbic Bank in Kenya to support efforts to import much-needed food, fuel and medicine to the war-torn and newly independent country.

“The credit line issued in US dollars in the form of letters of credit was intended to help local traders pay for these imports, considering the extreme shortage of hard currency and the weakness of the new local pound,” said The Sentry.

The Sentry added, “the government was supposed to allocate the LCs to traders, who could exchange South Sudanese pounds (SSP) at the then-official exchange rate of 3.16 SSP per dollar. Traders would then use the LCs essentially a guarantee from the bank to pay the exporter upon confirmation of delivery of the goods”.

Stanbic Bank (Kenya) acknowledged that its South Sudan unit made available a $200 million letter of credit program to South Sudan between 2012 and 2015 which was in line with the objectives of the government of South Sudan to support local businesses’ participation in the importation of certain essential goods.

In an emailed response to The EastAfrican, the lender says it transacted with its already existing clients who had undergone the normal know-your-customer processes and due diligence.

“These processes returned satisfactory outcomes,” said Stanbic bank, On whether Stanbic Bank asked for proof of delivery of goods, the lender said the requirement under the letters of credit is to examine the transactional documents requested to ensure that they are compliant with the terms and conditions of the letters of credit.

“The documents were sufficient and compliant, hence the payments were released,” said Stanbic bank, which is a member of the Standard Bank of South Africa.

However, according to the Sentry, its investigation into the LCs programme found that multimillion-dollar contracts were awarded to inexperienced middlemen and foreign-run companies that only existed on paper.

“It appears that millions of dollars’ worth of essential pharmaceuticals, fuel, and food were not delivered. The government failed to repay the borrowed money and entered arbitration proceedings initiated by QNB at the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes,” The Sentry added.

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US advocacy group The Sentry is alleging $1 billion was embezzled in deals involving senior government officials, foreign companies and international banks in South Sudan. In the investigation titled Cash Grab: […]

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Muhoozi’s ambition putting Museveni-Ruto ties at risk

Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba this week either marked a milestone in his political career or blotted ties between his country and Kenya. It depends on where you stand.

At 48 years, is the youngest general in Uganda today. But that title is already held by five other people in the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), including his father President Yoweri Museveni. This week, President Museveni also dropped him as Commander of Land Forces, which means he is a general with no army.

So, what was the endgame of his controversial tweets in which he suggested an invasion of Kenya to occupy Nairobi in two weeks? In public, officials in Nairobi said they would let the matter slide after President Yoweri Museveni apologised to Kenya. In private, President William Ruto’s officials were so miffed they threatened to cancel his attendance of Uganda’s 60th independence anniversary in Kampala on October 9.

An earlier invitation to Dr Ruto to open a business forum in Kampala on Tuesday was not honoured. Initially, Nairobi dismissed the tweets. But then the general tweeted on about his supposed love for former President Uhuru Kenyatta, who he lamented should have tried a third term (under Kenyan law, that is unconstitutional), his admiration of revolution rather than democracy and aspiration to make Kenya and Uganda “one country.”

In Kenya, the feeling among some government officials is that Muhoozi is unhappy with the election of Ruto rather than Raila Odinga who was backed by Kenyatta. Nairobi diplomats indicated they expected “clarification” from Uganda. By Friday, Ruto’s team had indicated the president would attend the independence anniversary.

The tweets drew an apology from President Museveni, but he defended promoting Muhoozi saying he was focusing on the positives while discoursing negatives.

“I ask our Kenyan brothers and sisters to forgive us for tweets sent by General Muhoozi, former Commander of Land Forces,” he said.

The Ugandan leader said it was not proper for any public officer to comment about the affairs of another country or interfere in any way in the affairs of a brother country.

Thorny election issue

Yet this also gives a dilemma for Museveni: How to tame his son while keeping a domestic polity intact, and a fledgling bromance with Ruto. When Ruto campaigned for election, his closeness to Museveni became a subject of controversy in Kenya, leading to a ban on his travel to Uganda. Officials suggested there had been undue influence from Uganda in Kenyan elections, forcing Kampala to clarify it had no role.

On Thursday, Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga did suggest there had been foreign interference in the elections but did not directly accuse Uganda. He said the election had been stolen by “the work of a group of right-wing politicians and a group international monopoly capital.”

Beyond local elections, however, Ruto’s ethnic relations to some Ugandans in the east of that country is seen by Museveni as crucial. Kenyan President is said to have investments in Uganda, which explained closeness to the Ugandan leader.

Museveni also needs to keep his generals at home happy, even as he juggles the succession balls, some say. Muhoozi sees himself as the heir-apparent and suggested so in his tweets.

Balam Barugaharra, his confidant, says the rank of general is preparation for the presidency. He says they hope he gets appointed minister so that he can interact more with ordinary Ugandans and understand their plight.

At a recent function in western Uganda, Barugaharra told the president that Muhoozi was Uganda’s “standby generator,” in case he chose to step down.

In what looks like a formal introduction to the public and business sphere, Gen Muhoozi is expected to be chief guest at Business Breakfast in Kampala on October 12. The conference, sponsored by some of the leading brands in Uganda such as New Vision, Uganda Breweries and Uganda Airlines, is organised by an unfamiliar organisation, Kef Uganda.

But to some insiders, the president has lost patience with an erratic Muhoozi. At the height of what Ugandans thought was a problem in the military three months ago, Deputy Chief of Defense Forces Lt-Gen Peter Elwelu issued a standby order class one, which Muhoozi immediately countered, prompting a meeting in Ntungamo and chaired by the President in which Muhoozi was asked to desist from tweeting.

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Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba this week either marked a milestone in his political career or blotted ties between his country and Kenya. It depends on where you stand. At 48 years, […]

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WHO sounds alarm over suicides in Africa

Africa needs to combat a suicide rate that is the highest in the world yet remains widely unrecognised and often stigmatised, the UN has said.

Six of the 10 countries with the greatest suicide rates in the world are in Africa, and the continent’s per-suicide rate is more than a fifth higher than in other regions, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

“Around 11 people per 100,000 per year die by suicide in the African region, higher than the global average of nine per 100,000 people,” the agency’s Africa branch said on Thursday.

Death by hanging or poisoning by pesticide head the list of methods.

The agency launched an appeal for awareness of the problem ahead of World Mental Health Day on October 10.

“Suicide is a major public health problem and every death by suicide is a tragedy. Unfortunately, suicide prevention is rarely a priority in national health programs,” said regional director Matshidiso Moeti.

Stigma is a key problem, as is lack of funding, the WHO said.

Africa has on average only one psychiatrist for every 500,000 inhabitants — a ratio 100 times lower than the WHO’s recommendation — and the lack of therapists is especially serious in countries that have been in conflict.

Spending on mental health in Africa is under 50 cents per head, less than a quarter of UN recommendations.

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Africa needs to combat a suicide rate that is the highest in the world yet remains widely unrecognised and often stigmatised, the UN has said. Six of the 10 countries […]

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Bobi Wine claims he was arrested in Dubai, grilled for hours

Ugandan opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, has claimed that he had been detained in Dubai on Friday night and grilled for hours.

“Landed in Dubai at 8:30pm. It’s now 5am. I’ve been held & interrogated for 8hrs. They asked me about NUP, its leaders, their phone numbers, my family members & their contacts! I have all necessary travel docs. They’ve confiscated my passport & my phone. Am literary under arrest,” the National Unity Platform (NUP) leader tweeted early Saturday.

An hour later, he added, “In Dubai to perform at a charity concert to assist some of the Ugandan immigrant workers. Been held at the airport for almost 10 hours, being interrogated mostly about NUP! My phone and passport have now been returned. Hopefully things go as planned. Will give an update.”

He was scheduled to perform at a concert.

Mr Kyagulanyi is the second Ugandan Opposition politician to be held in another country in less than two weeks—the first one having been Mr Chapa Karuhanga, a founding member of one of the country’s opposition party the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), who was on September 29 detained in an immigration facility in Dar es Salam, Tanzania, over unclear cases.

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Ugandan opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, has claimed that he had been detained in Dubai on Friday night and grilled for hours. “Landed in Dubai at […]

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A father’s pain: Why president’s ‘avenger’ son is EA’s nightmare

After a storm of 16 tweets that threatened war on Uganda’s eastern neighbour Kenya, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni seemed to have had just enough headaches from his son, Lt-Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba.

So he sacked him from the position of Commander Land Forces but, in a surprise twist, promoted him to the highest military rank of Uganda’s armed forces – General.

It was unprecedented, needless to say, that unlike generals before him who’d waded into political commentary and were detained, charged at the Court Martial and kept away from both position and rank, Gen Muhoozi even got a prized apology issued on his behalf by the president to the Kenyan people.

But what is distinctive about Gen Muhoozi? Is it simply that he is the president’s blood? Does he represent a core part of Museveni’s rule and succession? Or is it, as some have pointed out, a case of a privileged, spoilt child?

Read: Museveni apologises to Kenya over Muhoozi tweets

It’s a complicated picture.

Politicians vs securocrats

In November 2020, smack in the heat of the presidential campaigns, the arrest of National Unity Platform leader Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine changed the nature of Uganda’s security forever.

President Museveni had toyed with political solutions to beat back the growing dissent, mostly in central Uganda. After a 36-year rule, the fatigue of supporting his National Resistance Movement (NRM) had started to show in Uganda’s population. In by-elections, voters punished the NRM for service delivery failures. Their candidates, for whom the president campaigned, were voted out. The winning trick for Bobi Wine was populism matched with a massive stoking of social anger.

Read: Uganda sees ‘parallel’ diplomacy from Muhoozi

Unable to fully understand the unfolding defeats, Museveni asked the party to “go to the ghetto” and sell its agenda. In a few months, it had scraped up new friends. Buchaman, a singing duo of Bobi Wine, came close; Catherine Kusasira, a musician, even got a job as a presidential adviser; Bebe Cool, a singing nemesis of Bobi Wine, became a prominent campaign figure for the NRM.

But the political dissent wasn’t abating. In the kitchen, security officials were mooting their own ideas. For one, many of them were uncomfortable with the rise and rise of Bobi Wine.

He had sailed through a by-election in Kyadondo East against the combined force of the NRM and the opposition Forum for Democratic Change. After a bitterly fought by-election in Arua, in the northwest, which the NRM lost to the opposition candidate Kassiano Wadri, Bobi got into the crosshairs of the securocrats.

He was accused of pelting the presidential convoy with stones and was arrested, tortured and dragged before a military court. Security officers told the court that guns had been found in his room, and an elaborate plan was laid out as part of evidence to pin him to a treason charge. The trial picked the eye of many international actors.

Muhoozi had been watching the events from the background. Then, only a special adviser to the president on special operations, he had limited scope. But his role in the country’s security was becoming more pronounced.

Read: Muhoozi Twitter storm reveals the app’s new power in Africa

After the November 2020 riots, it wasn’t in contest where power lay in Uganda. The boots stepped out, and 54 people were shot and killed in a 47-minute army operation.

A snap reshuffle saw Muhoozi returned to the centre of Museveni’s rule as Commander of the Special Forces Command, an elite army set up to guard the president initially, but which morphed into the most tactical and fluid of Uganda’s different army sections.

Muhoozi and his friends in the army returned to command Uganda’s security infrastructure – the Late Lt-Gen Paul Lokech was at Police, Muhoozi at SFC and Maj-Gen Kayanja Muhanga as overall commander for Kampala.

Read: Muhoozi’s ambition putting Museveni-Ruto ties at risk

That trio delivered what Museveni initially wanted of Kampala: A quiet, subdued and politically numb city.

But the ensuing headache is what Museveni wasn’t ready for.

The Rwanda problem

After crossing the border to Rwanda and meeting with President Paul Kagame, Muhoozi returned triumphant, ending a standoff that had seen the two countries’ borders closed for three years. He had cleared a mountain of errors committed by Ugandan security that had led to icy relations. He pushed for border reopening, and openly invited President Kagame to his 48th birthday.

To crown the moment, at his birthday celebration, he would secure a handshake between Museveni and Kagame, former bosom buddies, who had not spoken to each other for long.

But it’s at the height of this diplomatic win that Muhoozi muddied the waters. In a tweet in early April, he said the Rwandan army would be allowed into the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to help deal with the security crisis there. The tweet, which was fast-deleted, caused a stir in the Congolese parliament. Uganda had negotiated careful entry into the DRC for its “Operation Shujaa” to pursue Ugandan extremist Islamist group Allied Democratic Forces, and thereafter help construct roads. In terms of access, the Congolese army limited the UPDF’s operational area to a triangle in eastern DRC, and insisted that any or all operations would be carried out jointly with the government’s Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, FARDC. Uganda would seek, in that small triangle, to destroy ADF and FARDC would learn from them operational efficiency. The agreement was tabled before the DRC parliament after pressure from Congolese politicians. Uganda army’s history in eastern DRC hadn’t all been pretty, having been accused of plundering the DRC in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and fined heavily for it. Their re-entry had to be carefully managed.

Museveni picked on a battle-tested soldier, and friend of Muhoozi, Maj-Gen Kayanja Muhanga to lead the operation. Muhoozi, as Commander of the Land Forces, would play a pivotal role in planning and co-ordination. The Congolese looked at Muhoozi as the commander and prosecutor of the war, and when his tweet announced that Rwandan forces would be granted access to the eastern DRC, even though it was only his opinion, it was hard to tell fact from opinion.

An agreement for Uganda to construct roads was retracted. A stormy parliamentary session in Kinshasa rebuked Muhoozi and asked that he be reprimanded.

Sources in Kampala say Museveni called Muhoozi for a dress-down on the tweets. Angry at the reprimand, Muhoozi tweeted in quick succession that he would quit the army and retire. Then, in 11 hours after that tweet, he deactivated his account. People familiar with this episode say Muhoozi was unhappy with his father.

In a more recent tweet, Muhoozi had given away bits and pieces of this troubled moment in which he wrote; “My father doesn’t drink… I drink and I have saved him many many times”.

Muhoozi had been, in that tweet, defending “perfectly capable people” who were victimised due to their drinking of alcohol. That tweet too, was deleted.

In comes Ethiopia

Museveni had steered clear of the Ethiopian conflict, choosing silence with the strategic aim of mediating the conflict between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s federal government in Addis Ababa and the rebel regional Tigray Peoples Liberation Front, TPLF. His son, on the other hand, was of a different mind, tweeting in November 2021, of support for the TPLF much to the horror of Uganda’s diplomats and Ethiopian government.

Abiy flew to Entebbe to insist on Uganda’s position being clear on the conflict. Ugandan diplomats sought to allay the concerns of Addis with limited success. Months later, this August, Muhoozi was sent, together with Uganda’s state minister for Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem – also a former first son – to Ethiopia to meet with PM Abiy. After the meetings, he tweeted that he was “optimistic” that an African solution would be found to an African problem, but remained adamant about deleting tweets in which he supported the TPLF.

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After a storm of 16 tweets that threatened war on Uganda’s eastern neighbour Kenya, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni seemed to have had just enough headaches from his son, Lt-Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba. So […]

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Ruto in Kampala for Uganda’s Independence Day celebrations

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Saturday received his Kenyan counterpart William Ruto at Entebbe International Airport, ahead of Kampala’s celebrations to mark 60 years of independence from Britain.

But the anniversary had been marked with tensions between the two neighbouring countries after Museveni’s son, Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, last week issued a series of tweets that derided Ruto’s election and joked about the ease with which his troops could capture Nairobi in two weeks.

The tweets forced Museveni to apologise personally to Kenya, and remove Muhoozi as head of Land Forces. He, however, took no further action. Instead, the Ugandan President promoted his son to a full general, making him the youngest Ugandan soldier today to hold such a title.

President Ruto’s team had threatened to skip the ceremony over the tweets unless an apology came but even after that, it was expected that the two leaders would hold a bilateral session in Kampala on Saturday to discuss the issue.

Read: A father’s pain: Why president’s ‘avenger’ son is EA’s nightmare

Uganda is Kenya’s biggest trading partner with Kampala relying on the Port of Mombasa for most of its imports.

The trip is Dr Ruto’s first to Kampala since he was elected President and the Supreme Court validated his victory last month. Prior to travelling to Uganda, he was in Addis Ababa for the launch of Safaricom Ethiopia. He is also scheduled to visit Tanzania in this first regional tour.

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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Saturday received his Kenyan counterpart William Ruto at Entebbe International Airport, ahead of Kampala’s celebrations to mark 60 years of independence from Britain. But the […]

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Kenya to list skilled refugees for online work

Kenya plans to start a programme to list skilled refugees in a digital database to enable them get work from international organisations interested in outsourcing services.

The Ajira Digital Programme will be implemented by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and funded by the MasterCard Foundation, both of which say they will help push for adoption of refugees into legal work by also providing constant training opportunities.

Read: CLEMENTS: Kenya’s generosity towards refugees is impressive

Also read: How refugees bring along their music and culture, creating a melting pot

KEPSA, with the Amahoro Coalition, a platform of private organisations in the region, will target refugees in Kakuma and Dadaab, Kenya’s refugee centres that host more than 400,000 people.

Nairobi is taking advantage of the program to entice refugees to leave the camps once they get legal work.

Kenya has traditionally allowed refugees to stay out of camps if they prove they can afford basic needs on their own.

But the refugee camps have had security issues in the past with Nairobi promising to close the two camps down on several occasions, citing terror threats.

Read: Kenya plans to close world’s biggest refugee camp Dadaab: document

Also read: Kenya revises refugee camp closure to June 2022

Last year, however, Kenya’s Interior Ministry agreed to stagger the closure of the camps based on voluntary departure as well as gradual programmes to enable refugees live normally in the country or find work abroad.

Officials did not indicate how many refugees will initially benefit from the Ajira programme, but they said that many refugees in camps may face challenges due to lack of adequate skills, limited movement, limited access to formal education, and lack of a form of identity.

“We have a lot of talent waiting to be tapped among the refugee population in Kenya,” said Dr Ehud Gachugu, Project Director- Ajira Digital Program and Youth Employment at KEPSA.

Read: Kenya targets easier integration of refugees

“We have seen many examples of bright but marginalised young people delivering quality work to global clients through online platforms. Our aim is, therefore, to help grow and harness this talent to also deliver work for our local businesses, thus creating even more opportunities for refugees to add value not only in their local communities but also nationally.”

Ajira Digital Programme initially only served Kenyans with beneficiaries now at 1.9 million people since 2020 when it was launched for Kenyans. 

A study dubbed ‘Private Sector Digital Outsourcing Practices in Kenya’ further indicates that 59 percent of the private sector in Kenya are currently outsourcing digital services with another 75 percent intending to outsource in the future.

Read: Education still elusive goal for refugees even with Uganda’s open door policy

Another study by the Amahoro Coalition and the International Trade Center (ITC) on “Kenya’s Private Sector Digital Outsourcing Landscape and Its Potential to Support Refugee Economic Inclusion” indicates that a lack of awareness of the skills and potential available among the refugee community is the greatest barrier to companies working with refugees. This is despite companies that had previously worked with refugee freelancers expressing satisfaction with their ability to deliver quality, timely and cost-effective work.

Kenya’s two refugee camps are located in Turkana and Garissa counties, some of the driest areas in Kenya. They host refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan, DR Congo and Burundi.

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Kenya plans to start a programme to list skilled refugees in a digital database to enable them get work from international organisations interested in outsourcing services. The Ajira Digital Programme […]

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Kenya on the spot as ICC suspect dies mysteriously

The sudden death of Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru, while out on Ksh1 million ($8278) bond and as he waited for the ruling in his case at the International Criminal Court (ICC), has put President William Ruto’s regime in the international spotlight.

Gicheru, 52, was found dead at his Karen home on Monday evening. This means his case at The Hague is over since the ICC does not convict or acquit the dead – as reasoned in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the case against Slobodan Milosevic.

It also means that President Ruto, who was adversely mentioned during the Gicheru trial, is off the hook — for now.

Mr Gicheru, a former ally of President Ruto, was charged with interfering with ICC witnesses in the case in which Dr Ruto was charged with crimes against humanity following the 2007/2008 post-election violence. His arrest warrant was unsealed on September 10, 2015.

However, though a Kenyan court had stopped his extradition, the lawyer surrendered to the Dutch authorities on November 2, 2020, surprising his friends and lawyers.

During his trial, which closed on June 27, 2022, Dr Ruto was adversely mentioned by the prosecution as the beneficiary of the “common scheme”, which included bribery and intimidation of witnesses.

Interestingly, Mr Gicheru, who was charged with eight counts of offences against the administration of justice, opted not to present any oral testimony during his case, and his lawyer relied on documents disclosed by the prosecution to extricate him from the jaws of the ICC. Even more intriguing is that Mr Gicheru’s defence failed to call any witnesses.

Mr Gicheru’s death is the second one among the members of the “common scheme”. In December 2015, one of Mr Gicheru’s allies, Meshack Yebei, was abducted and killed.

His body was later found in the Tsavo National Park. Mr Yebei was also implicated in efforts to corrupt witnesses in the case against Dr Ruto and his co-defendant, Joshua arap Sang.

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The sudden death of Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru, while out on Ksh1 million ($8278) bond and as he waited for the ruling in his case at the International Criminal Court […]

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Tanzania, DR Congo rank poorly on digital life quality: report

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Tanzania are among the countries with the worst digital quality of life globally, occasioned by slow internet speed, high costs of internet, and other factors.

The 2022 Digital Quality of Life Index, produced by Dutch network company Surfshark, reveals that DRC citizens have the least digital wellbeing, out of the 117 countries surveyed, with Tanzania ranking 107.

The index measures the quality or speed and affordability of internet in the countries along with the availability and strength of electronic infrastructure, security, and government.

Kenya was ranked the highest in East Africa, but 78th globally, with Uganda coming second in the region and 98th globally. There was no data on Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan.

DRC came last, particularly in electronic infrastructure which assesses how developed and inclusive a country’s digital infrastructure is; and in electronic government that assesses how advanced and digitised the government services are.

Kinshasa also came last in electronic security, which measures how safe and protected people feel while in the digital space in the country. Uganda was ranked to have the second least affordable internet globally.

According to the Surfshark report, electronic infrastructure and government are the leading determinants of citizens’ digital well-being, as many countries that ranked low in these also ranked low in the overall index 92 percent of the time.

Internet affordability and quality are the least important factors of the quality of life, the report says.

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The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Tanzania are among the countries with the worst digital quality of life globally, occasioned by slow internet speed, high costs of internet, and […]

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Tanzanian wanted in Kenya for killing colleague over ugali

Kenyan police are looking for a Tanzanian suspected of stabbing his colleague at a gold-mining site in Narok in a dispute over a bowl of ugali.

Narok County Police Commander Kizito Mutoro said the two men were having supper after a long day at the Got Kabong mines in Transmara West on Thursday when the incident happened.

“It was reported that while they were taking the meal, an argument ensued between Mr Mungare Busene, 27, and another only identified Magige, 23, (both Tanzanians) over ugali they were eating,” Mr Mutoro said.

It is believed that Mr Busene picked up a kitchen knife and stabbed Mr Magige in the left leg, inflicting a serious deep injury.

“Mr Magige was rushed to Lolgorian Level Four Hospital, where he was pronounced dead while undergoing treatment,” Mr Mutoro said.

After the attack, the suspect went into hiding.

Police are investigating the incident and are pursuing the suspect.

The body of the victim was taken to the mortuary at the same hospital.

SOURCE

Kenyan police are looking for a Tanzanian suspected of stabbing his colleague at a gold-mining site in Narok in a dispute over a bowl of ugali. Narok County Police Commander […]

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Tanzanian Maasais lose case on relocation from game reserve

A regional court on Friday ruled that Tanzania’s decision to cordon off land for wildlife protection was legal, dealing a blow to Maasai pastoralists who had protested the move, two lawyers for the community said.

The nomadic community in Loliondo in the northern district of Ngorongoro has accused the government of trying to force them off their ancestral land in order to organise safaris and hunting expeditions.

Read: Tanzania removes Maasais out of Ngorongoro

But the government has rejected the accusations, claiming it wants to “protect” 1,500 square kilometres (580 square miles) of the area from human activity.

After several postponements, the Arusha-based East African Court of Justice upheld the government’s decision, a lawyer for the Maasai told AFP.

“Unfortunately, the court ruled against us,” Esther Mnaro said.

“They have delivered a very impugned judgement,” another lawyer, Yonas Masiaya, told AFP.

Read: Tanzania ends hunting deal with Dubai royal family

Kenyan Maasai community members protest in solidarity with their counterparts from Ngorongoro conservation in Tanzania facing eviction at Namanga town on June 17, 2022. PHOTO | NMG

The Maasai had asked the court to “stop the evictions, the arrest, detention or persecution” of their members and demanded a billion Tanzanian shillings ($430,000) as damages.

The three-judge bench said no compensation was due, Mnaro said.

They “decided that there… was no loss of property and none of these people were injured during the evictions, but our evidence and our witnesses had said totally different things.”

Mnaro said the community would decide whether to appeal.

There was no immediate reaction to the ruling from the government, which had previously argued that the Arusha court did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Also read: Court criticised for entertaining Serengeti case without evidence

Tensions have soared in recent months with violent clashes breaking out in June in Loliondo between police and Maasai demonstrators.

More than two dozen Maasai protesters were charged with murder over the death of a policeman in the clashes.

Tanzania has historically allowed indigenous communities such as the Maasai to live within some national parks, including the Ngorongoro conservation area, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

But the authorities say their growing population is encroaching on wildlife habitat and began moving the pastoralists out of Ngorongoro in June, calling it a voluntary relocation.

Read: ULIMWENGU: Trouble in Ngorongoro paradise and MPs see no evil

The relocation has sparked concern, with a team of UN-appointed independent rights experts warning in June that “it could jeopardise the Maasai’s physical and cultural survival.”

Since 1959, the number of humans living in Ngorongoro has shot up from 8,000 to more than 100,000.

The livestock population has grown even more quickly, from around 260,000 in 2017 to over one million today.

As climate change leads to prolonged droughts and low crop yields, pressure on the pastoralists has increased, forcing them into conflict with wildlife over access to food and water.

In 2009, thousands of Maasai families were moved out of Loliondo to allow an Emirati safari company, Ortelo Business Corporation, to organise hunting expeditions there.

Read: Dar to crackdown on illegal Kenyan Maasais

The government cancelled that deal in 2017, following allegations of corruption.

The East Africa Court of Justice came into force in 2001 to ensure adherence to the laws establishing the seven-nation East African Community bloc, made up of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

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A regional court on Friday ruled that Tanzania’s decision to cordon off land for wildlife protection was legal, dealing a blow to Maasai pastoralists who had protested the move, two […]

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Ebola survivors to forego sex for 90 days

Ebola survivors have to wait for at least three months before having sex again unless they use condoms as one the preventive ways to curb spread of the disease, the Ministry of Health has advised.

“Before returning home, Ebola patients will have their blood tested in the laboratory to ensure the virus is no longer in their body. However, people who have recovered from the illness should not have sex for at least three months unless they use condoms,” the Ministry of Health’s advisory reads in part.

The executive director of Uganda Virus Research Institute, Prof Pontiano Kaleebu, said although Ebola is not considered a sexually transmitted infection, in some studies, experts have found the virus in sperms after recovery.

Dr Ataro Ayella, a clinical epidemiologist, who has managed previous Ebola outbreaks in Bundibugyo in 2007, Liberia in 2014, and DR Congo in 2019, told Monitor in a separate interview yesterday that Ebola can be transmitted sexually and the virus can stay in the semen for up to three months. This means transmission can occur even if the survivor has no symptoms of the disease.

“Besides having got cured of the disease, a relapse or reinfection could occur… The reinfection depends on the immunity of the person and other co-existing diseases,” Dr Ayella added.

Scientists say studies done in Liberia indicate that a woman was infected with Ebola following sexual intercourse with a male Ebola survivor.

Dr Charles Olaro, the Ministry of Health’s director for curative services, said the Ebola virus hides in testes after recovery.

Asked when the three-month count down starts, Dr Olaro said “from the time they (survivors) get discharged”.

Dr Ayella explained that the virus can hide in other places such as backbone fluid and eyes.

“The nature of the virus gives it ability to survive for long in reserves in the body (brain, spinal fluid, semen, placenta and eyes) even when the patient is declared cured…The virus can be stored alive in the semen for long since it is conducive environment for its survival, unlike other body fluids,” Dr Ayella explained.

Several people who spoke to Monitor urged the government to conduct more sensitisation.

Ms Grace Aine, businesswoman in Kampala, said: “The Ministry needs to sensitise the population. I am sure not very many people know about this despite the number of Ebola outbreaks this country has had. I am sure people will abide if they know the risk involved, after all they are saying protected sex is okay.”

Mr Alex Ariho, a resident of Kampala, said: “This message needs to be taken to people who need it the most, the sex workers. Emphasise the need for protected sex since they are saying with protection, it’s okay.”

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Ebola survivors have to wait for at least three months before having sex again unless they use condoms as one the preventive ways to curb spread of the disease, the […]

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Catholic priest in court over sexual abuse of students in Tanzania

A Catholic priest was arraigned Monday at the Resident Magistrate’s Court in Moshi over allegations of raping and sexually assaulting more than 10 children.

He had been in police custody since September 20.

His arraignment came after he was accused of giving a Standard Six pupil and a Form One student Tsh3,000 ($1.29) and Tsh5,000 ($2.14), respectively, for sexual favours.

The children had been attending First Holy Communion and Confirmation classes.

Regional Commissioner Nurdin Babu said “it is a disgraceful incident”.

Parents had raised the alarm that the priest had abused many students and planned to march in protest to Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa’s office before the priest was arrested.

Sources said that the parents had reported the allegations to the leadership of the Catholic Church in Moshi and to the police.

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A Catholic priest was arraigned Monday at the Resident Magistrate’s Court in Moshi over allegations of raping and sexually assaulting more than 10 children. He had been in police custody […]

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Uber, Bolt drivers in Kenya stage go-slow over commissions

Taxi drivers signed on to the Uber Kenya and Bolt platforms on Monday staged a go-slow in a move to push the firms to lower the commission charged on their fees.

The industrial action came just days after the new regulations to cap the commission charged by taxi-hailing firms at 18 percent took effect—which have been challenged in court by Uber, which maintains that the move will restrict flexibility on its revenue model, and stifle the ability to negotiate suitable commissions that will affect its investment, demand and competition.

Read: Bolt switches to corporate clients only in Tanzania

A section of the drivers told the Business Daily on Monday they were not accepting rider requests from the two apps in areas such as Eastlands, Kasarani, Nairobi CBD, Waiyaki way, and Kilimani area.

“We are asking Uber and Bolt to obey the law. Regulations were supposed to take effect on September 22. This is the backbone of our strike which has started today morning,” said Zachariah Mwangi, chairman of Organisation of Online Taxi Drivers and Digital Taxi Association of Kenya.

“The other problem we have is we don’t determine prices, the companies do. We are still operating with the same price when fuel prices were at Ksh97 ($0.80).”

Fuel costs in Kenya have shot up with petrol retailing at Ksh179.3 ($1.49) a litre and diesel at Ksh165.82 ($1.37) in Nairobi.

Read: Uber suspends operations in Tanzania pending ‘deal with authorities

Also read: Tanzania says Uber, Bolt agree to resume services

Uber Kenya told Business Daily it was aware of the go-slow by some drivers, and that it would continue engaging them on their concerns.

“We are aware that a small group of e-hailing drivers plan to go offline (not using the app). We respect drivers as valuable partners with a voice and a choice and we want drivers to feel they can talk to us about anything at any time,” the firm said.

“However, drivers are diverse in how they use the Uber app and it would be difficult for an individual or group to holistically represent every driver on the app.”

Read: Auctioneer’s hammer to fall on Uber cars

The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) in June 20 published regulations putting the ceiling on commission charged by digital taxi operators in the country on drivers at 18 percent per trip.

The law was expected to take effect three months after the notice, as a move to cushion thousands of drivers who for years have cried out on declined earnings.

Also read: Uber taxi wars in Kenya highlight tax loopholes in charging technology

Uber, however, filed a petition with the High Court to suspend the regulations.

Uber charges 25 percent commission per single ride, while Bolt and Little platforms charge 20 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

Taxi drivers signed on to the Uber Kenya and Bolt platforms on Monday staged a go-slow in a move to push the firms to lower the commission charged on their […]

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Rwanda genocide ‘financier’ Felicien Kabuga trial to open in The Hague

Alleged Rwandan genocide financier Felicien Kabuga will go on trial in The Hague on Thursday, one of the last key suspects in the 1994 ethnic slaughter that devastated the small central African nation.

Kabuga’s trial will open at 0800 GMT before a UN tribunal, where he has been charged with genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in the Genocide against the Tutsi 28 years ago.

Read: Rwanda protests Kabuga trial delay at Hague court

Also read: Genocide survivors welcome decision to begin Kabuga’s trial

Prosecutors and the defence are expected to make their opening statements on Thursday and Friday, with evidence in the case to start the following Wednesday.

Kabuga’s lawyers entered a not guilty plea to the charges at a first appearance in 2020.

Once one of Rwanda’s richest men, prosecutors say the octogenarian allegedly helped set up hate media that urged ethnic Hutus to “kill Tutsi cockroaches” and funded militia groups in 1994.

Now in his mid-80s, Kabuga was arrested in France in May 2020 after evading police in several countries for the last quarter of a century.

He was then transferred to the UN’s International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, set up to complete the work of the now defunct Rwanda war crimes tribunal.

Read: Rwandan genocide suspect Kabuga denounces charges as “lies”

Said to be in fragile health, Kabuga in August appeared before the judges in a wheelchair — and it was not known whether he’ll be in court on Thursday as judges are permitting him to attend the hearings via a video link.

Kabuga was originally scheduled to appear in court in Arusha, where the other arm of the IRMCT — also referred at as the MICT — resides, but judges had ruled he would remain in The Hague “until otherwise decided.”

Also read: Kabuga’s trial in Arusha will lift the lid off a dirty East African family secret

In June, the judges denied a defence objection, ruling Kabuga was indeed fit to stand trial.

Swift trial wanted  

The UN says 800,000 people were murdered in Rwanda in 1994 in a 100-day rampage that shocked the world.

Read: Felicien Kabuga: The quiet businessman from Byumba who took over Kigali

An ally of Rwanda’s then-ruling party, Kabuga allegedly helped create the Interahamwe Hutu militia group and the Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), whose broadcasts incited people to murder.

The radio station also identified the hiding places of Tutsis where they were later killed, prosecutors said in the indictment.

More than 50 witnesses are expected to appear for the prosecution, which said they needed about 40 hours to wrap up their case.

Prosecutors said Kabuga controlled and encouraged RTLM’s content and defended the station when the minister of information criticised the broadcasts.

Kabuga is also accused of “distributing machetes” to genocidal groups, and ordering them to kill Tutsis.

Read: Felicien Kabuga pleads not guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity

Later fleeing Rwanda, Kabuga spent years on the run using a succession of false passports.

Investigators say he was helped by a network of former Rwandan allies to evade justice.

Following his arrest in a small apartment near Paris, his lawyers argued that Kabuga, whose age is now given as 87 on the indictment, should face trial in France for health reasons.

But France’s top court ruled he should be moved to UN custody, in line with an arrest warrant issued in 1997.

Kabuga is one of the last top wanted suspects for the Rwandan genocide to face justice.

Others, including the man seen as the architect of the genocide, Augustin Bizimana, and former presidential guard commander Protais Mpiranya have both died.

Victims of the genocide have called for a swift trial for Kabuga saying “if he dies before facing justice, he would have died under the presumption of innocence.”

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Alleged Rwandan genocide financier Felicien Kabuga will go on trial in The Hague on Thursday, one of the last key suspects in the 1994 ethnic slaughter that devastated the small central African […]

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Ebola infections, deaths rise in Uganda

The death toll from Ebola in Uganda has risen to four, while the number of confirmed Ebola cases rose to 16, data from the Ministry of Health indicates.

Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Ainebyoona said that apart from the four confirmed deaths, 17 other fatalities are probable cases of Ebola infection. He added that the number of confirmed Ebola cases in Uganda rose to 16 at the weekend, with 18 others listed as probable cases of infection.

Read: Uganda closes clubs, limits gatherings to curb Ebola spread

“Cases reported outside Mubende include three in Kyegegwa and one in Kassanda but all linked to the index case in Mubende,” ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Ainebyoona said, adding that there were “no confirmed cases in [the capital] Kampala”.

Health authorities said samples from suspected cases are being analysed at the Uganda Virus Research Institute.

The ministry appealed to residents to adhere to preventive measures and report any suspected cases to nearby health facilities or authorities.

Read: Focus on prevention, no vaccine for rare Ebola strain, Uganda told

At the weekend, officials expressed concern over the gaps in contact tracing.

While delivering his message at the national taskforce meeting at Mubende District headquarters on Saturday, Lt Col Henry Kyobe, the Ebola incident commander, said they are tracing 213 contacts.

“As we speak today (Saturday) we have 213 cumulative contacts. Contact tracing is still a challenge madam. The biggest proportion, numbering 118 (55 percent), are health workers, meaning that community contacts have not all been listed which creates a challenge,” he said.

Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng demanded a robust contact tracing.

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The death toll from Ebola in Uganda has risen to four, while the number of confirmed Ebola cases rose to 16, data from the Ministry of Health indicates. Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel […]

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22 Kenyans rescued from human traffickers in Laos

Kenyan authorities on Friday warned against applying for online jobs in South East Asian countries after it emerged hundreds of East Africans are falling victim to trafficking.

The caution came as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had rescued 22 Kenyans, a Burundian and Ugandan, who had managed to raise distress calls from Laos.

Read: Kenya ‘overwhelmed’ by job scam victims in Myanmar

Also read: Tackle escalating human trafficking in Horn of Africa, IOM says

The rescued victims told authorities that hundreds more were still inside the Asian country, having been duped to go for hospitality and teaching jobs only to end up trapped.

“The government in liaison with the Government of Laos and IOM (International Organization for Migration) has rescued 24 nationals, among them a Ugandan and a Burundian, from trafficking cartels in Laos as more, still trapped in Myanmar and Laos, call for help,” the Ministry said on Friday.

Read: US offers $2m reward for two Kenyan ‘traffickers’

The 24 who were rescued have since been repatriated with the help of HAART Kenya, the IOM, and Laos government.

Earlier, 13 other Kenyans were rescued from traffickers in Myanmar .

“It is now emerging that there could be hundreds of mostly young Kenyans working in ‘Fraud Factories’ in South East Asia.

“More worrying is intelligence information that some of the factories may be facilities for extracting and storing human organs.”

Read: UK, Dar partner to fight child trafficking and abuse in Tanzania

Also read: UN uncovers human trafficking at refugee camp in Malawi

Kenya says the trafficking reflects the widening network of cartels to the region, taking advantage of joblessness and vulnerability.

Neither Kenya, Uganda nor Burundi have embassies in Laos, and Kenya had to coordinate the rescue from its diplomatic mission in Bangkok.

Traditionally, Kenya has had to deal with continual claims of mistreatment of its nationals working as domestic workers in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, including Bahrain.

Read: Burundi, South Sudan: East Africa’s weak link in human trafficking

But it has this year been receiving distress calls from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.

“They (cartels) have established local networks and gangs that help them either lure the victims or transport them through various countries in the region,” the ministry added.

“This new breed includes young and tech savvy individuals, well-educated, computer literate, and multilingual.”

Read: Covid-19 fueling rise in human trafficking, UN warns

Once in the trafficked countries, the victims who are not tech savvy are offered training in computer applications for 10 days before commencing ‘work’.

The work is mostly cybercrime and sextortion, according to survivors.

The cartels reportedly lure them to the jobs by promising hefty perks, including an offer of $2,000 per month. However, they are soon only overworked, underpaid and given little rest.

Read: Human trade is alive and thriving across East Africa

Those who want to quit are told to pay $15,000 “compensation for the expenses the cartels used to traffic the victims.”

“[The government] warns Kenyans to stop applying for online jobs that are advertised in South East Asia without authenticating them, as this exposes them to dangers, including possibility of losing body organs,” MFA said.

“There are no sales and customer care jobs in Thailand or other countries in the ASEAN region.”

SOURCE

Kenyan authorities on Friday warned against applying for online jobs in South East Asian countries after it emerged hundreds of East Africans are falling victim to trafficking. The caution came […]

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Tshisekedi accuses Rwanda, again, of backing rebels in DR Congo

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has reignited an accusation against Rwanda, insisting that Kigali is still fanning rebel groups in his country’s territory.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly, Tshisekedi claimed his efforts to reunite the country and pursue peaceful settlements have been dragged by continual external interference, accusing Rwanda, in particular, of fomenting rebel movements.

“Despite my goodwill for the search of peace, some neighbours have found no better way to thank us than to aggress and support armed groups that are ravaging eastern Congo,” he told an audience on Tuesday night.

Read: DRC, Rwanda agree to ease tension and normalise diplomatic relations

Also read: The M23 demon: Could Rwanda ultimately invade eastern Congo?

Turning to Rwanda, he said: “In defiance of international law, has once again not only interfered in the DRC since MARCH by direct incursions of its armed forces (Rwanda Defense Force RDF), but also occupies localities in North Kivu province (eastern DRC) by an armed terrorist group, the M23, to which it provides massive support in terms of equipment and troops.”

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Tshisekedi accuses Rwanda, again, of backing rebels in DR Congo

WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 21 2022

    

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi at the UN headquarters.

Democratic Republic of the Congo President Felix Tshisekedi addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 20, 2022. PHOTO | ANGELA WEISS | AFPADVERTISEMENT

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DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has reignited an accusation against Rwanda, insisting that Kigali is still fanning rebel groups in his country’s territory.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly, Tshisekedi claimed his efforts to reunite the country and pursue peaceful settlements have been dragged by continual external interference, accusing Rwanda, in particular, of fomenting rebel movements.

“Despite my goodwill for the search of peace, some neighbours have found no better way to thank us than to aggress and support armed groups that are ravaging eastern Congo,” he told an audience on Tuesday night.

Read: DRC, Rwanda agree to ease tension and normalise diplomatic relations

Also read: The M23 demon: Could Rwanda ultimately invade eastern Congo?

Turning to Rwanda, he said: “In defiance of international law, has once again not only interfered in the DRC since MARCH by direct incursions of its armed forces (Rwanda Defence Force RDF), but also occupies localities in North Kivu province (eastern DRC) by an armed terrorist group, the M23, to which it provides massive support in terms of equipment and troops.”

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The accusation against Rwanda, which has been rejected many times before by Kigali, is likely to elicit a response when Kigali’s representative addresses the UN later in the week. But it could also signal simmering differences between the two countries that had initially cut official communication between them before resuming talks.

In July, after meeting in Angolan capital Luanda, under mediation of President Joao Lourenço, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and President Tshisekedi agreed to reopen dialogue and have their differences solved diplomatically.

Read: Region steps up diplomatic firefighting in Rwanda-DRC tensions

Tshisekedi told the audience he is always ready to pursue peace, speaking of recent arrangements to hold dialogue with rebel groups that did not succeed as other parties to the talks pulled out.

“Since my election as head of state of the DRC, I have not stopped fighting every day for peace. In order to definitively eradicate insecurity, restore lasting peace and ensure stability in the East of my country, several agreements have been signed with armed groups and even neighbouring countries.

“National and international mechanisms have been created. All these prospects for a final settlement of the conflict lasted only a few months. Soon, the architecture cracked and the building collapsed; we always start with the same tragedies.

Read: Rwanda: ‘Leaked UN report’ on DRC invasion a distraction from real issues

Tshisekedi spoke at the opening of the regular session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. And for 38 minutes, the Congolese head of state touched on global security issues, including terrorism, which he argued had not spared the African continent. He also talked about the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the need for a peaceful settlement between these two countries.

SOURCE

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has reignited an accusation against Rwanda, insisting that Kigali is still fanning rebel groups in his country’s territory. In a speech to the UN General […]

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Kenyan students win $1 million prize for business innovation

A team of students from Kenya’s St Paul’s University last night won the global finals of the 2022 Hult Prize for their business innovation.

Competing in the finals as Eco-Bana Ltd, the students beat five other finalists and were awarded $1 million to boost their business. 

Eco-bana Ltd is a start-up that makes biodegradable sanitary pads using banana fibre. The idea aims to stop plastic manufacturing by providing biodegradable sanitary pads to end period poverty.

The team comprises Lennox Omondi, Keylie Muthoni, Dullah Shiltone and Brian Ndung’u. The event was held during the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York City, US. Former US President Bill Clinton delivered the keynote address.

“The Hult 2022 Prize was such a joyful celebration of innovation and sustainability in business. All our finalists did incredible pitches today, but there could only be one winner. Huge congratulations to Eco-Bana Ltd,” Hult Business School said in a tweet.

Muthoni, however, did not make it to New York due to a visa hitch.

“With $1 million, we’re confident that we will be the best and become number one producers of biodegradable sanitary towels in Kenya and East Africa,” Mr Omondi told Daily Nation in an interview before they left for the finals.

He doubles up as the chief technical officer of the company. He is a third year student of mass communication, public relations and marketing.

“Today, at exactly 1.58 pm New York time, Eco-Bana is here to ask for one million dollars to make our dreams come true. We predict to sell more than three million pads, generating over $50 million and employ more than 2,000 people by 2024,” Mr Ndung’u said during their pitch. 

The company has already introduced the product in the market and plans to expand to the Egyptian market have started.

Mr Omondi revealed that for mass production, they need heavy duty machines which are costly.

Muthoni is the chief operations officer, while Shiltone and Ndung’u work as the chief financial officer and the marketing officer respectively. The students entered into the final after winning the regional summit in May in Johannesburg and emerging position two in the Global Accelerator in Boston, Massachusetts in August.

“We’re a team with a mind for business and a heart for the world. We’ll continue creating sustainable enterprises that will shape the future of the sanitary towels industry that will drive entrepreneurship growth,” Mr Omondi said.

The five other finalists are Breer from Hong Kong, Savvy Engineers from Pakistan, Openversum from Switzerland, Cooseii from Taiwan and Flexie from Australia. The six teams are the winners of each of the regional summits.

“At the point where I was founding the company, I had difficulties balancing with my studies. With proper guidance from my mentor, I’ve learnt how to balance by creating a weekly study plan and a work plan. That way, I’m able to know when I have to leave the office and go to class or do my assignments and still get to be with my friends and team mates,” Mr Omondi said.

His goal is to study for a masters degree at the University of Oxford.

SOURCE

A team of students from Kenya’s St Paul’s University last night won the global finals of the 2022 Hult Prize for their business innovation. Competing in the finals as Eco-Bana Ltd, the […]

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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.

SOURCE

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 […]

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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.

SOURCE

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 […]

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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.

SOURCE

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 […]

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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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Tanzania begins weeklong population census

Tanzania has launched a nationwide week-long population and housing census that will delve deeper than in the past to identify bona fide citizens, immigrants, refugees, foreign residents and passing visitors along with employment statuses and other livelihood engagements.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who designated Tuesday as a public holiday for the exercise, was the first to be enumerated at the Chamwino State House in the capital Dodoma.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is asking a raft of questions, about 100, related to age, gender, birthplace, residential status (ownership and tenancy), education, employment and financial inclusion status. It is also collecting details on marital status, reproductive health and technology use.

“I have been counted. It is true that the questions are more, but they can be answered,” President Suluhu told journalists at State House, where she urged citizens to familiarise themselves with the questions and have the necessary documents such as the national identity cards beforehand so they can answer quickly.

Read: Census: Tanzania lures hunter-gatherers with bush meat

The census commissar Anne Makinda said the exercise would run for seven days.

This year’s census is the first to be done digitally and will cost Tsh328 billion ($141 million). The census will also include housing and property statistics for the first time.

According to the concept documents, the findings will allow relevant authorities to streamline the provision of various social services and facilities according to more accurate estimations of different community, demographical and living environment needs.

Officials say the census findings will also be used to determine unemployment numbers, crime control requirements by area, and the sustainability of existing social security and pension systems.

Tanzania is estimated to have a population of between 55 and 65 million. In 2012, Tanzania reported 44.9 million people.

UN predictions have placed Tanzania’s population among the world’s eight fastest-growing countries over the next three decades.

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Tanzania has launched a nationwide week-long population and housing census that will delve deeper than in the past to identify bona fide citizens, immigrants, refugees, foreign residents and passing visitors […]

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Uproar over proposal by African leaders to invest in fossil fuels

Climate lobbyists have faulted African leaders over their retrogressive proposal on investment in fossil fuels despite scientists warning that countries should move away from the production and use of the fuels.  Fossil fuels are made from plants and animals that decompose to form natural gas, petroleum and coal.

Scientists have persistently warned that the production of such fuels contributes to greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide, which are responsible for the changing climate. This call on investments was done during a meeting held in July by Africa’s technical committee on energy in their 41st Ordinary session, which adopted the African Common Position on Energy Access and Just Transition.

Amani Abou-Zeid, the African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, said such investments push for favourable outcomes in energy and infrastructure. “This is an important and major step forward in ensuring and confirming Africa’s right for a differentiated path towards the goal of universal access to energy, ensuring energy security for our continent and strengthening its resilience, while at the same time acting responsibly towards our planet by improving the energy mix,” he said.

The leaders suggested that natural gas, green and low carbon hydrogen and nuclear energy will play a crucial role in expanding modern energy access in the short to medium term while enhancing the uptake of renewables in the long term for low carbon and climate-resilient trajectory.

Read: ADOW: Why continent should lead the Green Revolution

The damning proposal comes at the backdrop of the backing of the European Union’s recent vote in favour of a new rule that will consider fossil gas and nuclear projects “green,” making them eligible for lost-cost loans and subsidies.

The climate activists now warn that this plan would distract from the clear need for renewable energy such as the use of solar, and embracing fossil fuels, while also shifting dangerous nuclear technologies shunned by Europeans on African soil.

Mohamed Adow, Director of Power Shift Africa, said in a joint statement from the lobbyists that African leaders should be maximising this potential and harnessing the abundant wind and sun, which will help boost energy access and tackle climate change. “Africa is blessed with an abundance of wind, solar and other clean renewable energies.  What Africa does not need is to be shackled with expensive fossil fuel infrastructure, which will be obsolete in a few years as the climate crisis worsens,” said Mr Adow.

This new call is ahead of the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27), a global climate change meeting that will be held in November in Egypt.

Mr Adow added: “It would be a shameful betrayal of African people, already on the front line of the climate crisis, if African leaders use this November’s COP27 climate summit on African soil to lock Africa into a fossil fuel-based future. Africa does not need the dirty energy of the past, it needs forward-looking leadership that can take advantage of the clean energy of the present and future.”

Dr Sixbert Mwanga, the coordinator of Climate Action Network Africa, urges leaders to transfer those resources to renewable energy such as solar, wind, and geothermal, which are safer for the planet. “At COP27, we call for the African Union and African leaders to announce the utilisation of these sources for the benefit of our people and leave aside fossil fuel development for export.”

Read: ATELA: What agenda will an African champion bring to COP27?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which brings together science experts on climate change, warned in its latest report that human activities such as fossil fuel production and use adversely affect our climate. Lorraine Chiponda, Africa Coal Network Coordinator, reiterated this, saying the world needs to cut carbon emissions to prevent catastrophic climate impacts.

“The globe already has seen the temperature rise and we will exceed 1.5ºC by 2030 and suffer an increase in intensity and frequency of climate disasters. The prospect that African leaders are presenting and pushing for gas developments and investment is overwhelming and reckless given the climate impacts that threaten the lives of millions of people in Africa having seen worsening droughts and hunger, recurring floods and cyclones,” she said.

“We have seen in the past the acceleration of gas projects in Africa is another colonial and modern Scramble and Partition of Africa amongst energy corporations and rich countries. Fossil fuel projects have neither solved energy poverty in Africa where 600 million still live in energy poverty nor brought any socio-economic justice to Africans. We shall continue to strengthen calls for a people’s just transition away from fossil fuels,” she added.

One of the contested fossil fuel projects in Africa is the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project (EACOP), which will be in Uganda and Tanzania. Coordinator #StopEACOP Omar Elmawi said it is time for Africa to invest in green energy that supports and meets African needs and not extract oil and gas for Europe’s needs as we leave all the impacts and destruction to be faced by the African people.

Joab Okanda of the Pan Africa Senior Advocacy Advisor, Christian Aid feels that Africa is being shortchanged by its own leaders. “The African Union is in danger of falling for the con of African gas at a time when other countries are investing in renewables, which will be what powers development and progress in coming decades. It would be the ultimate betrayal of African people if their leaders missed the opportunity to become a renewable energy superpower by locking us into a doomed experiment with fossil fuels that is hurting Africa through climate breakdown.”

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Climate lobbyists have faulted African leaders over their retrogressive proposal on investment in fossil fuels despite scientists warning that countries should move away from the production and use of the […]

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Weakening shilling pushes up Kenya’s debt by $4.1b

Kenya’s depreciating currency cost the country nearly half a trillion shillings on the external public debt burden alone, eroding the government’s efforts to pay external lenders.

The shilling, which continues to present a challenge to the economy mainly in servicing of external debts and importation of goods by businesses, devalued by 9.3 per cent from 107.85 units by end of June 2021 to 117.83 by June 30 this year.

A new report by the National Treasury shows that while Kenya’s external debt stock – in dollar terms – reduced by five per cent from $37.1 billion to $35.3 billion in the year to June 2022, in Kenyan shilling terms it increased by Ksh156 billion ($1.3 billion), to Ksh4.16 trillion ($34.7 billion).

“The increase in the public debt is attributed to external loan disbursements, exchange rate fluctuation and the uptake of domestic debt during the period,” Treasury stated in the 2021/22 last quarterly budget and economic review report. The increase in the external debt burden was despite the government’s spending to service loans from other countries, multilateral lenders and foreign commercial banks.

External lenders

Between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, Treasury reported that taxpayers paid a total of Ksh305.3 billion ($25.5 billion) to external lenders. This shows the full impact of the depreciated currency on the external debt burden in the last financial year alone totaled Ksh461 billion ($38.5 billion), or at least 12 per cent of the country’s 2021/22 budget.

“By the end of June 2022, the total cumulative debt service payments to external creditors amounted to Ksh305.3 billion ($25.5 billion). This comprised Ksh184.5 billion ($15.4 billion) (60.4 per cent) principal and Ksh120.8 billion ($10.1 billion) (39.6 per cent) interest,” Treasury stated.

The government spent the highest amount Ksh152 billion ($12.7 billion) on repayments to commercial lenders, bilateral lenders Ksh102 billion ($8.5 billion) and multilateral lenders Ksh51 billion ($ 4.3 billion). Yet the multilateral lenders’ debt stock still rose by Ksh265 billion ($22.1 billion), commercial lender’s debt stock was only reduced by Ksh74 billion ($6.2 billion) and bilateral lenders’ by Ksh30 billion ($2.5 billion).

Had the shilling remained at 107.85 units in the mean exchange rate as was the case by end of June 2021, the external debt stock by end of June 2022 would have been Ksh3.8 trillion ($ 2.5 trillion).

External public debt

“In dollar terms, external public debt stock declined by US$1.8 billion from US$37.08 billion by end of June 2021 to US$35.26 billion by the end of June 2022. This comprised debt owed to multilateral (46.3 per cent), bilateral (26.6 per cent), commercial banks (26.8 per cent), and Suppliers Credit (0.3 per cent),” Treasury stated.

The amount by which the debt reduced is equivalent to Ksh214.6 billion ($17.9 billion), by June 30, 2022 exchange rate terms.

The punishing cost of the depreciating currency, which has remained on an accelerated devaluation trend for months now, is not only being felt by taxpayers while servicing the external debts but also by businesses while importing goods since they have to purchase dollars first.

In recent months, companies have complained of an acute shortage and high cost of dollars in the market, with some being forced to scale down operations.

The ultimate victim is the final consumer, as businesses pass on the cost when setting prices. This has led to higher prices of commodities and increased overall cost of living in the country.

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Kenya’s depreciating currency cost the country nearly half a trillion shillings on the external public debt burden alone, eroding the government’s efforts to pay external lenders. The shilling, which continues […]

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Exit Uhuru Kenyatta, East Africa’s big hugger, glad-hander and master of soft power

In the past 10 years the Kenyan president has perpetuated an unblinking business-led foreign policy in the region, playing the main character in the play. As he exits the stage, he might well say, with his bow to the audience: “East Africa is our plate. You don’t pee where you eat,” writes Charles Onyango-Obbo.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s political rodeo will end a few weeks after the August 9 General Election. With that, the East African Community (EAC) will see the departure of its most extroverted president. There was more, though, to Uhuru’s gregariousness than a happy lad.

The late Tanzanian president, John Magufuli, was a combative, prickly, volatile and quarrelsome leader who got things done. His government had trade disputes with nearly all his neighbours and, in an unforgettable “up yours” moment, set day-old chicks from Uganda and Kenya on fire. By July 2019, the trade fight with Kenya had reached a fever pitch.

Uhuru jumped on his plane and headed for Dar es Salaam to massage Magufuli’s feelings. He went one better, visiting Magufuli’s ailing mother and the grave of father.

He melted combative Magufuli’s heart. A weepy Magufuli spoke of how he was touched by Uhuru’s kind-heartedness and gifted him four peacocks, a gesture, which he said, had great significance in Tanzania’s history.

Read: Kenyatta arrives in Tanzania for two-day private visit

For effect, Magufuli said that he had never gifted any other Head of State the birds, nor was he planning to do so again. He died in March 2021 before he could go back on his word.

It was signature Uhuru to hug his peers and give them backslaps like none of them.

His most hearty hugs and backslaps were handed out to Rwanda President Paul Kagame, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and, curiously, newcomer Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi.

President Uhuru Kenyatta receives Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi at State House Nairobi on June 20, 2022. PHOTO | PSCU

He was less handsy with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, an avuncular philosophising germaphobe who is averse to public cuddling but accorded him the reverence of an elder. He handled South Sudan’s fragile President Salva Kiir like a delicate pot.

When newish Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye broke the Pierre Nkurunziza-era isolation and visited Kenya in May 2021, the first time in nearly a decade that a Burundian leader had dropped in the country, Uhuru buttered and treated him like a long-lost brother. Ndayishimiye grinned happily throughout the visit.

Uhuru Kenyatta receiving President Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi at State House, Nairobi, in June 2022. PHOTO | PSCU

He liked to give PM Abiy massive bear hugs, and they would walk hand-in-hand, chuckling away. When new Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan visited Kenya in May 2021, Uhuru brought out the best family silver and laid on elite-level pampering for her. With a rare pro-Suluhu chorus in the Kenyan media during her visit, the Tanzanian president was visibly pleased.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (left) and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta embrace during the Kenyan leader’s visit to Addis Ababa on November 14, 2021. PHOTO | POOL

If it hadn’t been for the lingering social distancing of Covid-19, the awkwardness men feel around powerful women, and the austere signals sent by Suluhu’s hijab, Uhuru would probably have kissed her hand.

Also read: A region on the fly: Queen Samia and the five East African kings

As president, Uhuru was East Africa’s champion hugger and backslapper. If it were only about pressing the flesh, it would have gone down in history as little more than feel-good. But it wasn’t.

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Uhuru Kenyatta receiving President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia during his official visit at State House, Nairobi on July 15, 2022. PHOTO | PSCU

It was partly a posture that allowed him to leverage soft power and steward the ever-expanding business interests of corporate Kenya in the region. And, too often panned at home, he seemed to find refuge in East Africa.

The result of the latter was that there were more peace meetings held in Nairobi during Uhuru’s presidency than in any other EAC capital.

When South Sudan descended into a deadly war again in 2013, the warring parties gathered in Nairobi under Uhuru’s watch to talk peace.

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Uhuru Kenyatta receiving South Sudan President Salva Kiir at State House, Nairobi, in June 2022. PHOTO | PSCU

When the horrors of the Tigray war against the Ethiopian government eventually forced the adversaries to yield to negotiation, the Tigrayan rebels suggested that Uhuru host peace talks with Addis Ababa.

As the security situation in eastern DR Congo deteriorated sharply this year, Uhuru hosted the rebels and the Kinshasa government to seek a settlement.

A good part of all this is about oiling the wheels for Kenyan business. The chest bumps with Tshisekedi were not just boys’ play. It had money written all over it. During his presidency, Uhuru unlocked doors for companies like Equity Bank to enter DR Congo, make acquisitions and become the country’s second-largest bank in a blink. Profits for Kenyan banks in the East African region have soared.

Read: Equity to fund Kenyan businesses in DRC cities

His glad-handing of Abiy might well have helped telco giant Safaricom, East Africa’s most profitable company, to gain a foothold in the lucrative but closed 120-million-people Ethiopian market. Unsurprisingly, in June last year, Uhuru flew to Addis Ababa on an official visit that included witnessing the formal award of a telecom operating licence to a consortium led by Safaricom.

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Uhuru Kenyatta after talks with his host Rwanda President Paul Kagame in Kigali in 2019. PHOTO | PSCU

His East African canoodling also represented perhaps the strongest stream of continuity with the policies of his predecessor Mwai Kibaki. Kibaki pushed a neutralist “don’t-rock-the-boat” policy with the rest of East Africa.

Thus, like Kibaki, Uhuru prevaricated and buried the dispute with Uganda over the pint-sized Migingo island in Lake Victoria in diplomatic niceties and promises of task forces to look into it. He was not going to die on that island.

Read: Kibaki was East Africa’s ‘good thief in the night’

This unblinking business-led foreign policy is uniquely Kenyan in the region. For the past nearly 10 years, Uhuru has been the main character in the play.

As he exits the stage, he might well say with his bow to the audience: “East Africa is our plate. You don’t pee where you eat.”

Source

In the past 10 years the Kenyan president has perpetuated an unblinking business-led foreign policy in the region, playing the main character in the play. As he exits the stage, […]

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Kenya threatens ban on Facebook over hate speech

Kenya has threatened to shut down Facebook over its failure to improve content moderation on hate speech in the run-up to the August 9 elections.

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has given the social media giant seven days to adhere to recommendations on taming online hate speech on its platform in the country.

The state agency said Meta, Facebook’s parent company, has been reluctant to take action to combat the spread of hate speech, propaganda and disinformation, escalating the risk of violence ahead of the elections.

Read: Misinformation rears ugly head as Kenya poll campaigns heat up

As such, the commission has asked Facebook to urgently increase the number of content moderators in Kenya, expand its capacity to cover content expressed even in indigenous languages, and deploy integrity systems to “mitigate risk before, during and after the upcoming Kenyan election.”

This follows an investigative report by human rights organization, Global Witness, which revealed that Facebook approved several adverts promoting hate speech in both English and Kiswahili languages.

Jon Lloyd, a senior advisor at Global Witness, said that Facebook approved content that violates its own policy and community standards since it qualified as hate speech and ethnic-based calls to violence.

“Much of the speech was dehumanising, comparing specific tribal groups to animals and calling for rape, slaughter and beheading. We are deliberately not repeating the phrases used here as they are highly offensive,” Mr Lloyd said while presenting the findings to the NCIC.

NCIC Commissioner Dr Danvas Makori said Facebook’s inaction toward the inappropriate content on its platform is an outright violation of the Kenyan Constitution and threatens the peace of the country, especial during this election period.

“The freedom of expression does not extend to propaganda, incitement to violence, hate speech, or advocacy of hatred,” he said. “Facebook violates our laws because they have allowed themselves to be a medium of hate speech, incitement, misinformation, and disinformation.”

Dr Makori said that the commission has already engaged Meta’s representative in the country and informed them of the requirements failure to which the company’s operations in the country will be suspended until they abide.

Last Wednesday, Facebook published a statement saying it is working to “ensure a safe and secure” general election in Kenya.

“We’re investing in people and technology to reduce the spread of misinformation and remove harmful content across our apps,” Mercy Ndegwa, Meta’s Director of Public Policy for East and Horn of Africa, said in the statement.

However, according to Global Witness’ report, Facebook still allowed hate speech and spiteful adverts to run on the platform even after declaring its efforts against it.

Motaung petition

Meanwhile, Meta is fighting a court battle with Daniel Motaung, a South African national who was employed as a content moderator for Facebook in Kenya.

Motaung’s petition, also filed against Meta’s local outsourcing company Sama, alleges that workers moderating Facebook posts in Kenya are subjected to irregular pay, inadequate mental health support, refusal to join trade unions and violations of their privacy and dignity.

Read: Facebook faces suit over work conditions in Nairobi office

Last week, a group of human rights organisations, including Global Witness and Article 19, criticised Meta, saying it was actively trying to silence Motaung.

Recently, a report by Mozilla also revealed how social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok, were used to propagate disinformation, misinformation, and hate speech in Kenya during the electioneering period.

Dr Makori said Twitter and TikTok have taken quick action to curb the menace, but Facebook has been slow, even refusing to promote the commission’s peace messages while allowing inappropriate content to continue.

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Kenya has threatened to shut down Facebook over its failure to improve content moderation on hate speech in the run-up to the August 9 elections. The National Cohesion and Integration […]

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Tanzania bans day-old chicks imports, again

Tanzania has imposed a total ban on the importation of day-old chicks effective next week as it seeks to protect its local hatcheries and limit the inflow of substandard chicks.

The ban, which takes effect on July 30, aims to protect the local poultry market, the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries said in a statement on Monday.

Deputy Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Abdallah Ulega said the government would no longer issue import permits on chicken from Saturday.

This was after a meeting with poultry business executives in the capital Dodoma. The government, Mr Ulega said, is currently collecting poultry industry data to ascertain the demand for day-old chicks.

Local poultry producers, Organia and Mkuza Chicks, had decried the rise in smuggled chicks sold at lower prices.

Most incubators in the country are selling day-old chicks at an average price of Tsh2,000 ($0.85), while the smuggled chicks sell at Tsh1,200 ($0.5) per chick.

In 2016, Tanzania banned the importation of chicks and fresh poultry meat from Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, South Africa and the US to protect local farmers.

On October 31, 2017, government authorities in Arusha destroyed 6,400 chicks imported from Kenya through the Namanga border crossing. The ban was later lifted.

Read: Tanzania destroys another 5,000 chicks from Kenya

Most of the day-old chicks are imported from the United Kingdom and South Africa, with substantial quantities imported from Kenya and Zambia.

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Tanzania has imposed a total ban on the importation of day-old chicks effective next week as it seeks to protect its local hatcheries and limit the inflow of substandard chicks. […]

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