Africa: Six West African Countries Reject 'Eco' Currency


[Daily Trust] The six member countries of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) comprising Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, have rejected the adoption of 'Eco' as the name of the proposed single currency for West Africa.

Nile dam dispute: Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt agree preliminary deal in Washington


Officials from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan say they have reached a preliminary agreement aimed at clearing the way for the filling and operation of a $5 billion dam project on the Nile River. The foreign ministers and water resources officials of the three countries concluded three days of meetings in Washington on Wednesday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and World Bank President David Malpass. The project, called the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, is around 70% complete and promises to provide much-needed electricity for Ethiopia’s more than 100 million people. However, Egyptian officials are concerned that filing the reservoir behind the dam too quickly could significantly reduce the amount of Nile water available to Egypt. The joint statement late Wednesday did not give details on how long it would take to fill the dam, saying only that it should occur in stages during the rainy season, which generally runs from July to August. Earlier this month Ethiopia’s minister for water and energy, Sileshi Bekele, said Ethiopia wanted a filling time of 12 years while Egypt wanted 21. The discussions this week were aimed at developing the rules and guidelines that would mitigate drought conditions based on the natural flow of the Nile and water release rates from the dam’s reservoir. The guidelines said that filing the reservoir could continue into September under certain conditions, with the goal of achieving the early generation of electricity while providing mitigation measures for Egypt and Sudan in case of severe droughts. “The ministers agree that there is a shared responsibility of the three countries in managing drought and prolonged drought,” the officials said in their joint statement. The statement said these preliminary decisions on the dam’s operation will not become final until the countries agree on all points in a final operating agreement. The countries plan to meet again in Washington on Jan. 28-29 with the goal of reaching a final agreement on the dam’s filing and operation. “The ministers recognize the significant regional benefits that can result from concluding an agreement … with respect to trans-boundary cooperation, regional development and economic integration,” the joint statement said. In an address to the United Nations General Assembly last fall, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said he would never allow Ethiopia to impose a “de facto situation” by filing the dam without an agreement on its operation. Pro-government media in Egypt have cast the issue as a national security threat that could warrant military action, leading Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to warn last year that if there’s a need to go to war over the dam project his country could muster millions of people. Abiy added, however, that only negotiation can resolve the current deadlock.

Uganda Imam 'mistakenly' marries man: 'couple' charged, Twitter trolls, gay slant


Local media outlets in Uganda over the weekend reported how an Imam ‘unknowingly’ married a fellow man. The story had it that the said wife had gone stealing and was arrested – found out if you want – during the burglary. Almost a week on, the Imam has been suspended from clerical duties by the mosque, the ‘wife’ has appeared before a court and been charged whiles on social media conspiracies continue to be woven. As at Thursday, the local Daily Monitor newspaper said the Imam had also been charged along with his wife on charges of having unnatural carnal knowledge. How the episode started out The saga is woven in the central Ugandan district of Kayunga, where the marriage took place weeks ago. The conjugal headaches of the Imam Sheikh Mohammed Mutumba, will come to light only after his ‘wife’s’ burglary move, uncovered by the neighbours. The Daily Monitor said a female police officer reported the suspect as male after conducting a body search. The newspaper report included the account of a cleric at the imam’s mosque who said the imam needed counselling after his bride “refused to undress while they slept.” The Imam of Kyampisi Noor mosque actually had entered a marriage with a 27-year male whose real name is Richard Tumushabe and not Swabullah Nabukeera. Why the Imam has been charged The Imam for having wedded a fellow man in the Islamic culture (Nikah) was charged with having carnal knowledge with a person against the order of nature, and remanded to Ntenjeru prison. Appearing before the Kayunga Grade One magistrate Ms Irene Akello on Thursday, Sheikh Mutumba, 27, was not allowed to take plea because his case can only be heard by a higher court, the newspaper added. The Kayunga District Police Commander, Mr John Lukooto, also confirmed that the ‘man wife’ Tumushabe had duped a number of men who fell in love with ‘her’ and later stole their money. Social media, gay activist reacts On social media, people continue to ask questions about how the Imam was led on by a fellow man till marriage and for as long as two-weeks living as a couple. Some averred that the entire episode smelled of a same-sex arrangement. A gay rights activist on his part said criticism of the imam highlights intolerance in the East African country. Frank Mugisha, who runs the group Sexual Minorities Uganda, said Thursday the case proved “how homophobic the country is.” “The imam could be right when he says he didn’t know,” he said. “Ugandans should respect people’s privacy. They are not necessarily homosexuals.” Mugisha said it was not clear whether the imam’s partner is transgender, one reason his group had decided not to release a statement regarding the case. Uganda’s no-nonsense gay laws Gay sex is criminalized in Uganda, where there have been efforts in recent years to enact stiffer penalties targeting homosexuals, including death by hanging. Many Ugandans believe homosexuality is imported from the West. A harsh anti-gay law enacted in 2014 was later overturned by a panel of judges amid international pressure and threats of aid cuts. In enacting that law, President Yoweri Museveni accused “arrogant and careless Western groups” of trying to recruit Ugandan children into homosexuality, although he did not identify the groups. According to Human Rights Watch, 32 African nations have varying laws criminalizing homosexuality. In many cases the anti-gay laws are left over from the colonial era.

Gambia: Thousands March for Ex-Ruler Yahya Jammeh's Return


[Deutsche Welle] Thousands of supporters of Gambia's longtime dictator, Yahya Jammeh, have protested for his right to return from exile. But accounts differ on whether an agreement is in place for him to do so.

Africa: How the UN's More Nimble Approach Can Contribute to Peace and Security


[The Conversation Africa] The United Nations' peace operations are changing. This is true of a range of operations, from special political missions and peacebuilding offices to multidimensional peace efforts.

Lesotho: Under Scrunity for Link to Wife's Death, Prime Minister Thabane to Resign


[Deutsche Welle] Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has come under scrutiny after the murder of his first wife. His current wife, Maesaiah, is currently wanted by the police for questioning -- and her whereabouts are unknown.

Southern Africa: 45 Million People In Urgent Need of Food Aid - UN


[Deutsche Welle] A record 45 million people across southern Africa are in need of in urgent need of food aid, the UN has said. The situation is expected to get even worse as the annual cyclone season begins.

Kenya: Kipchoge to Battle Messi for Top Sports Award


[Nation] World marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge has yet again been nominated for the 2019 Laureus Sportsman of the year award.

Philanthropic fashion| Bas Timmer’s Sheltersuit brings hope to the homeless

Design Indaba  

Design Indaba drives a better world through creativity with its online design publication, annual festival and other "design activism" projects.

2020's key polls in Horn, East Africa: Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, Burundi


Elections are always a major fixture on the African news coverage calendar. This year is no different. In 2019, over a dozen polls were recorded – from the presidential, legislative and general elections. The presidential elections have at every turn attracted the major attention as incumbents look to continue and as opposition attempt dislodging them. Another perspective is of outgoing incumbents scheming to stay on. Elsewhere, incumbents wrap up and step off the stage as required by law. 2019 saw elections held across all regions except in East and Central Africa. Majority of the vote was, however, in southern Africa. Votes were held in South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, Madagascar, Namibia and Botswana. The 2020 lineup of polls in Africa indicates that East and West Africa will be the major regions to look at. This article looks at the elections that are expected to hold in the respective regions. Ethiopia – first post-Abiy vote Ethiopians are looking forward to the first vote since the coming into office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in April 2018. The polity has been heating since Abiy opened up the political space and welcomed opposition voices to return from exile. The government insisted on holding the polls despite concerns of humanitarian and security crisis in the country. The elections body, the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) announced a tentative date of August 16. It has been met with opposition in some quarters with the main reason that August was a rainy season across the country. Abiy will be seeking to steer the new Prosperity Party (PP) to retain power across Ethiopia’s ethnic federation. Ethiopians vote in lawmakers at the regional and federal levels, the party with majority ends up forming the government and running affairs in Addis Ababa. What is sure is that opposition voices will make it into the next parliament all things being equal. Somalia’s Farmajo will be eyeing a second term Still in the Horn of Africa, Somalia will go to the polls to elect a president. Incumbent Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo will be looking to secure a second term in charge of the country still striving to throes of Al-Shabaab terrorists. As a result of insecurity, everything points to the fact that the same procedure employed in 2017 is likely to be used. Somalia is unable to apply universal sufferage due to terror attacks. A system that involves federal lawmakers and other clan quotas was used in a fortified Mogadishu to pool the ‘register’ that was used to elect Farmajo. He faces a big coalition that is led by a two former presidents. Tanzania vote to test Magufuli’s popularity John Pombe Magufuli of Tanzania is one of the African leaders that has categorically stated his disinterest in staying on for whatever reason. Rightfully so for a president operating in a democracy that has seen presidents come and go. Magufuli will be seeking his second and final term in charge of the East African giant. He came to power in 2015 after the exit of Jakaya Kikwete. The ruling party is confident of victory but opposition concerns have been a cause for worry under Magufuli. The last local polls saw the ruling party score 99%+ of votes due to an opposition boycott. Opposition have been clamped down on with a number of their leaders arrested and attempted assassinations on others. Human rights and political watchers have expressed concerns over ongoings under Magufuli. The media have not been spared the clampdown. The opposition have a tall order but will the voters opt for another 5 years of Magufuli or will the ruling party record a historic electoral defeat? Burundi preps for post-Nkurunziza era A country embroiled in a political crisis since 2015 thanks to an election. Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to contest for the presidency 5 years ago plunged the country into a security crisis that has continued till date. Nkurunziza has however promised to sit out this year’s vote and all things being equal, the country will be preparing for life without him. The ruling party has yet to elect a possible successor and the opposition look set to participate. The government said it had turned down all international support for the polls and raised money for the vote from a public fundraiser. A contested referendum has extended tenure of president and limited tenures to two. Other elections slated for this year are: Ghana general elections Togo presidential elections Guinea general elections Ivory Coast presidential elections Burkina Faso general elections Central African Republic presidential elections Seychelles presidential elections Legislative elections are also expected to be held in the following countries: Comoros, Egypt, Mali, Chad and Cameroon. Shaban Abdur Rahman Alfa Digital journalist alfa.shaban@africanews.com @AlfaAfrican

What my great-granddad, Nelson Mandela, would make of 2020 South Africa

BBC News Africa  

Nelson Mandela's great-granddaughter says the former President wouldn't be '100% happy' with modern South Africa.

What's behind the fight for Libya?

BBC News Africa  

The oil-rich North African country has been beset by a civil war for nearly a decade.

Africa's week in pictures: 10-16 January 2020

BBC News Africa  

A selection of the week's best photos from across the continent and beyond.

Kenenisa Bekele to take on Eliud Kipchoge at London Marathon 2020

BBC News Africa  

Kenenisa Bekele - the second-fastest marathon runner of all-time - will take on world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in at April's London Marathon.

Africa: 10 U.S. House Members Raise Concern About Potential Reduction of Froces in Africa


[U.S. House] Washington, DC -House Armed Services Committee Vice Chair Anthony G. Brown (MD-04) and a bipartisan group of 10 lawmakers, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressing their concerns with a potential reduction of American forces in the African theater despite the heightened threat of terrorism and rising geopolitical competition on the continent. The Department of Defense recently announced a review of the United States' force posture as they reorient strategy toward countering Russia and China.

Africa: Senate Armed Services Chair Says Africa is 'Critical' to U.S. Interests - Inhofe Letter


[United States Senate] Washington, DC -U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, submitted the following statement for the record today:

'Journey With Me' Is a Window Into the Ups and Downs of Traveling by Train In South Africa


In his new photo series, South African artist Luxolo Witvoet, speaks to everyday people in Cape Town about their experiences commuting via the city's fragile, yet vital train system.

Zimbabwean swimmer breaking Kirsty Coventry's records

BBC News Africa  

Fifteen-year-old Donata Katai is breaking the age records of Africa's most decorated Olympian.

South Africa mediates Lesotho 'political murder' crisis: PM to quit


Prime Minister Thomas Thabane of Lesotho has agreed to resign his post amid an assassination scandal involving his current wife. The resignation is the latest development arising from mediation by neighbouring South Africa. President Cyril Ramaphosa sent a delegation headed by former energy minister Jeff Radebe to mediate in the crisis next door. The PM is said to have confirmed that he will be stepping down under the current circumstances. Emissary Radebe reported being optimistic because his team had met with all coalition partners and that they had agreed on how the next few days was to unfold. Police in the tiny southern African country said earlier this week that they were searching for the country’s first lady for questioning in the 2017 killing of the prime minister’s former wife. The police commissioner said at the time that the “noose” was tightening around the prime minister and those close to him as an investigation continues. The killing of Lipolelo Thabane occurred two days before Thabane’s inauguration for a second term, and two years after a court ruled that Lipolelo was the lawful first lady and entitled to benefits. Thomas Thabane married his current wife some two months after Lipolelo was killed. The acceptance to step aside is the first move of the PM on allegations of his involvement in the murder. Police last Friday obtained an arrest warrant for the first lady after she didn’t report to them. Police Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli on Tuesday said officers had no idea where she might be. A High Court hearing her application seeking the cancellation of the arrest warrant adjourned to next week. The ruling party had weeks back advised that the PM resigns due to on goings, a position that the opposition also reiterated. The police chief had also accused the prime minister of wanting him out in a bid to stop the murder investigation and recommend a new commissioner “to immunise himself from criminal investigations and prosecution, thus thwarting the rule of law.” The police commissioner in recent weeks successfully challenged efforts by the prime minister to send him into suspension and forced leave.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Projected decline in growth in 2020 [Business Africa]


Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020 is projected at 2.9% compared to the 3.2% previously announced by the World Bank. The year 2020 is off to a timid start in sub-Saharan Africa. The region’s economic growth is significantly lower than the forecasts announced by the World Bank. In its latest World Economic Outlook report, the organization reports a drop in economic growth to 2.9% compared to the 3.2% previously announced. Nigeria: lower taxes to boost SMEs Nigeria has decided to support SMEs this year with a significant tax cut. It’s a new bill deemed salutary by the Nigerian authorities. Increasing government revenue through an increase in value added tax and tax cuts. In concrete terms, this is a policy of increasing tax revenue as part of efforts to diversify its economy to reduce its dependence on the sale of crude oil.

African debt: what to expect in 2020? [Business Africa]


Will the year 2020 be the year of the realization of major economic projects in Africa? Africa’s debt remains topical and political uncertainty seems to persist while the indicators of 8 African countries are in the red. Countries such as South Africa, Mozambique, South Sudan and Zimbabwe are in a situation of over-indebtedness according to the IMF. 9 others are dangerously close to the worrying levels of external debt, such as Cameroon, Ghana or Ethiopia. However, the year 2020 seems to be the year of major economic projects with, in particular, the effective implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area, elections and major projects, and the continuation of the debates on the advent of the ECO. Understanding the stakes and consequences of African debt with Germain Salla, international trade expert.

Ashburn Update