Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
The giggles started when the seventh journalist in a row said that his question was for Egypt’s water and irrigation minister, Mohamed Nasreddin Allam.
Allam bared his teeth when a Kenyan journalist accused him of hiding behind “colonial-era treaties” giving his country the brunt of the river’s vital waters whether that hurt the poorer upstream countries or not.
“You obviously don’t know enough about this subject to be asking questions about it,” he snapped before later apologising to her with a kiss on the cheek.
For telecoms-tycoon-turned-philanthropist Mo Ibrahim, it’s one step forward, two steps back. For Benno Ndullu, governor of the central Bank of Tanzania, the whole thing is bound to stall unless problems are ironed out first.
For many Tanzanians, it’s a threat to their jobs, language and prospects.
But for the leaders of the five-member East African Community (EAC), signing the common market protocol on Friday represents the future fortunes of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda combined.
In a small courtroom in eastern Burundi, state prosecutor Nicodeme Gahimbare waves a bone at the judges and the eight men lined up in front of them, as he states his case.
It’s a human bone.
The eight men are on trial for murdering albinos and trying to sell their body parts across the border in Tanzania, where some people believe that using albino body parts in witchcraft can bring wealth and good fortune. Some of the body parts found are now on display for all to see.
Nine out ten of malaria deaths occur in Africa – that’s nearly 1 million fatalities a year. The World Health Organisation estimates the financial loss to Africa because of malaria at 12 billion dollars a year.******And yet it’s an illness that’s preventable: the cheapest and easiest method is to stay under a mosquito net during the night.******In South Sudan, a mosquito net costs around $2, still too expensive for many here, where income per capita is just 25 cents per day. So the government and private charities have launched a campaign to distribute 75 million dollars’ worth of nets to 6 million people in the south before the rains start in July. With only 14 km of paved roads in the entire region, it won’t be easy.****** (more…)
In Burundi, 11 albinos have been killed since last year. In Tanzania, over 40 have been killed since mid-2007 by people who use their body parts, including hair, limbs and genitals, for witchcraft.
Buoyed by recent discoveries of commercial scale oil deposits in Uganda, east African policy makers, foreign oil explorers and their local partners trooped to a five-star hotel on the Kenyan coast this week to reflect on the progress and chart future strategies.Viewed as a frontier region for oil exploration, east Africa’s first major oil find was made by Tullow Oil and Heritage Oil companies in the Albertine Basin, which spans the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (whose improving relations are making the exploitation of the reserves look morel ikely).Before that, Tanzania had found vast reserves of natural gas in Songo Songo and Mnazi Bay areas.Just like Rwanda, which hopes to revolutionise electricity generation in the region through methane gas from Lake Kivu, Tanzania hopes to power cars from the gas and generate much needed electricity from its natural gas.The regional economic power house Kenya has, however, had disappointing results so far in its search for oil.Although 32 wells have been sunk here since the 1950s, only traces of oil and gas have been found. It is now reprocessing data gathered over that period in the hope new knowledge and technology will reveal hidden deposits.Drilling, an expensive affair that prospectors say can cost a firm $200 million for one well, took a commercial break in the 1980s. But it has also seen a resurgence of interest, thanks to last year’s rise of crude in global markets.Kenya issued 14 exploration licenses last year and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) is set to sink its first well in the second half of this year in the eastern province.Kiraitu Murungi, the nation’s energy minister, told the meeting in Mombasa they were praying day and night for the new well and data reprocessing to show signs of oil.On the other hand, Uganda — long reliant on Kenya’s ageing oil refinery for its supply of petroleum products — has grand plans for its newfound oil resources.They include the construction of a state of the art modern refinery at an estimated cost of $1.3 billion to process its oil as well as oil from any new finds in the region.Uganda’s energy and mineral development minister, Hillary Onek, spoke of the plans with a grin and added that the region, believed to share common geology, could be headed for a better future as it taps its oil and gas reserves to power development.However, as officials and oil prospectors retired to the hotel’s restaurants and beach bar for a drink in the evenings, they must have wondered if a few obstacles may not block the path to that prosperous future.The global financial crisis is weighing heavily on the finance base of some companies prospecting in the region.Lack of local skilled manpower in oil and gas industry is also worrying. So is the big question of how to equitably manage revenues from oil and gas so that oil and gas do not turn into a curse for the region as they have elsewhere on the continent.Is east Africa ready to handle oil and gas? Will oil discoveries help local communities?
For those looking to invest in Africa, the best prospects are in Nigeria and Ethiopia according to a new index of potential investment destinations published this week.
But should anybody want to put money into Africa at a time the global financial crisis and falling prices for export commodities, on which the continent is so reliant, have discouraged investors who had begun to see some African countries as promising frontier markets?
If anyone in Africa was worried that the global financial crisis might dim China’s interest in the continent, President Hu Jintao will be visiting this week to give some reassurances – as well as possibly to temper any unrealistic hopes for the amount of assistance to be expected.
As Chris Buckley reported from Beijing, this visit is also about China showing the wider world that it is a responsible power.
Where once African officials might have viewed infrastructure projects solely as a good source of kickbacks, these days there is pressure from electorates, at least in some countries, to deliver on promises of improvements.
The growth that many African states have enjoyed in recent years has exposed the failure of the continent’s infrastructure still more starkly – with even South Africa suffering the kind of power outages that much of the rest of Africa has grown far too used to.
from Global News Journal:
A little while back, we asked who is and isn’t fighting corruption effectively in Africa. This week, a number of examples bring us back to the subject.
In Tanzania, two former ministers have been charged with flouting procurement rules over the award of a tender for auditing gold mining back in 2002. The pair, who deny wrongdoing, served in the government of President Jakaya Kikwete’s predecessor Benjamin Mkapa. One of them also served under Kikwete himself.