Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
One of the few positives of Sudan’s elections, dubbed to be the first open vote in 24 years but marred by opposition boycotts and accusations of fraud, was a tiny opening of democratic freedom in Africa’s largest country.
Direct press censorship was lifted from Sudan’s papers and opposition politicians were given an albeit limited platform to address the population through state media.
Still, it seemed for the biggest international observer missions, such as the Carter Center and the European Union, the best they could say about the elections was 1): That they happened and 2): That people were not killing each other for once in this nation devastated by decades of multiple civil wars. (At least not because of the vote anyway).
They all agreed that the crack of democracy opened during the polls must be allowed to continue. And more progressive members of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s ruling party agreed. Presidential Adviser Ghazi Salaheddin told me he did not think they could go back on the democratic gains.
It was surprising to see Angola’s media regulator on Thursday accusing the nation’s only state-run newspaper of running a story that distorted a speech by the leader of the main opposition party to make him look favourable towards the government.
The National Media Council, a government run body comprised of journalists, seems determined to help Angola’s media sector become less biased towards the government . It urged Jornal de Angola to be more rigorous in its coverage.
The newspaper ran a story on March 14 based on a speech by UNITA leader Isaias Samakuva with the title: “Samakuva sees growth in several sectors of the economy,” when his words had instead been highly critical of the government, the regulator said.
Jornal de Angola “should avoid arriving at conclusions that may change the meaning of the facts reported even though the story may reflect the opinion of the newspaper or of the journalist who wrote it,” the regulator said in a statement published in Jornal de Angola.
UNITA spokesman Alcides Sakala, whose party had lodged the complaint with the regulator about the story, said the regulator’s move was a step in the right direction for a country that is opening up after a three-decade long rule that ended in 2002.
But Angola still ranks 119 out of 175 countries in Reporters Without Borders media freedom index.
The state owns two national broadcasters, the only radio station with nationwide coverage, and Jornal de Angola, the country’s most influential daily newspaper which often runs headlines praising the ruling MPLA party.
This has helped the MPLA secure almost 82 percent of the votes in Angola’s 2008 parliamentary elections – the first to take place after a civil war that ended in 2002.
The question now is whether Angola’s ruling MPLA party, which has ruled the oil producing nation for over three decades, is finally ready to loosen its grip on the media before the country holds parliamantary and presidential elections in 2012?
Ngugi wa Thiong’o had been hesitant to write his memoirs, but wanted to give his children a wake up call about what life was like when you had to walk miles to school - not to mention being a political prisoner.
A giant of African literature, he has never been afraid to challenge the establishment. Yet while he recounts his time in prison with humour today, he has never moved back to Kenya full time since going into exile nearly 30 years ago despite being one of the country’s best-known writers.
“Europe possibly needs an Afribond,” commented one contributor this week on the Thomson Reuters chatroom for fixed income markets in Kenya.
A nice quip from Henry Kirimania of The Cooperative Bank of Kenya and a reminder of just how much better placed Africa is now in terms of its debt burden than it once was and particularly in relation to what might now be regarded as the world’s Heavily Indebted Formerly Rich Countries.
By Estelle Shirbon
No sooner was Umaru Yar’Adua named in late 2006 as the Nigerian ruling party’s presidential candidate than people started asking whether he would survive four years at the helm of Africa’s most populous nation.
The answer to that question came on Wednesday night, when Yar’Adua died a year before the end of his term — a sad end for a quiet man who had been in poor health since well before he was catapulted into one of the world’s toughest jobs.
The death of Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua is unlikely to plunge Africa’s most populous state into crisis, but it intensifies what was already shaping up to be the fiercest succession race since the end of military rule.
Yar’Adua has been absent from the political scene since last November, when he left for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, and his deputy Goodluck Jonathan has been running the country since February and has since consolidated his position.
Soccer City in Johannesburg will be home to the opening and the final of the FIFA World Cup this year. On Monday, the men and women who helped build the stadium were given letters that assured them of two free tickets to the opening match.
120 000 tickets will be distributed to construction, community workers and children as part of a FIFA initiative to make sure that regular South Africans, who would normally not have the opportunity to go watch a World Cup match, can see their soccer heroes in the flesh.
It might surprise some that African business leaders are much more optimistic than the global average, which is what a new survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers shows.
The study, for which hundreds of executives were surveyed, suggested optimism had held up in Africa despite the global downturn.
Mali introduced Chinese-made motor rickshaws in 2006. They’ve been such a hit that most of Mali’s bigger cities are overrun with them and competition between drivers is pushing down prices. They’ve now been barred from the centre of the capital, Bamako, but in Mali’s third-largest city, Segou, the rickshaw-taxi is the main means of public transport.
“I have a wife and seven children,” rickshaw driver Bassidi Baba Djefaga told Reuters Africa Journal. “This
rickshaw is what enables me to feed my family. Before I had the rickshaw, I was a taxi driver and had two taxis. But when the new rickshaws arrived, I saw that taxi cars weren’t going to be good business any longer. So, I sold my two taxis and bought a rickshaw.”
Tucked between Cameroon and Congo Republic on Africa’s Atlantic coast is Gabon, a country much unlike its neighbours.
Many other African countries face problems that Gabon’s President Ali Bongo has the luxury of not needing to worry about.