Friday, April 13, 2018

Africa: Free Speech


Fee Speech

Uganda and Tanzania came under fire for internet regulations that critics say are thinly disguised efforts to curb free speech.
Uganda plans to slap a new tax on social media users from July, noted Reuters, while Tanzania has introduced a $930 fee for bloggers, along with stricter regulations for online radio stations, online streaming platforms, online forums, social media users and internet cafes, CNN reported.
The Tanzanian rules require bloggers to provide information including share capital, tax certificates, estimated investments and other information to secure accreditation. The regulations also ban “content that causes annoyance… or leads to public disorder.”
In Uganda, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija said the government will tax each mobile phone subscriber using platforms such as WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook 200 Ugandan shillings ($0.027) per day, characterizing the tax as a move to generate revenue that would not limit the use of the internet.
But human rights activists weren’t convinced – considering that the government blocked access to Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp during the last general election in 2016.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Ethiopia: A New Day In An Old Country


A New Day in an Old Country

Ethiopia’s economic growth has been miraculous, according to Quartz.
In 2000, the nation’s per capita gross domestic product was only $650 and it had one of the highest poverty rates in the world. Today, it has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, and poverty has been reduced by one-third, according to the World Bank.
But as many other booming countries have experienced, prosperity often exposes long-simmering social and cultural tensions that poverty helped suppress.
In February, protests erupted over plans to expand the boundaries of Addis Ababa, the fast-growing capital. That angered local farmers in the Oromo region who feared the government would confiscate their land, Al Jazeera wrote.
But the protests expanded to include calls for more rights for the Oromo, an ethnic group who make up more than a third of Ethiopia’s population but feel shut out from the country’s ruling class. Those and other protests over the past year have resulted in hundreds of deaths, human-rights groups said.
Eventually, in February, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced that he would step down. But at the same time, the government declared a state of emergency, limiting press freedomsand other civil rights.
Now it’s up to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was sworn in April 2, to clean up the mess.
“This is the season in which we learn from our mistakes and compensate our country,” said Ahmed in his first speech in office, Foreign Policy reported. “I ask forgiveness from those activists and politicians who paid the sacrifice and youths who wanted change but lost their lives.”
He’s off to a good start. Ahmed is Oromo, the Washington Post explained. With one deft move, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front addressed one of the protesters’ primary concerns. And this week, he was met by thousands of cheering locals Wednesday when he visited Ambo, a town at the heart of protests and clashes with security forces since 2015, Reuters reported.
Apart from being Oromo, there are other ways Ahmed reflects his country. His father was Muslim. His mother was Christian. He’s also a former military man who rose up in the ranks – in part because he learned Tigrinya, the language of the ethnic group that comprises the Ethiopian elite. He’s also 41, making him the youngest leader in Africa, a continent where aging strongmen often cling to power long after they’ve worn out their welcome.
Opposition leader Merara Gudina sounded a note of hope as Ahmed assumed power.
“It goes without saying that a change in personalities within the leadership may bring changes in terms of bringing better ideas that may ultimately lead to national reconciliation,” Gudina told the Associated Press.
The word “ultimately” is key here. Between Ethiopia’s economic growth and the goodwill he’s generated so far, however, Ahmed is in a rare position to transform his country for the better.
Many hope that day will come. If not, they will hit the streets.
“We are free,” Salem Gebre, 30, a street hawker who has led protests in the capital, told the Washington Times.  “We are demanding our rights…(and) we will continue to demonstrate until the government listens to us…. We are not going to be intimidated.”

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Cpngo: The Search For Joseph Kabila's Successor[UNIQID]

Friday, April 6, 2018

Africa: The Most Tragic OfCorners


The Most Tragic of Corners

Over the last century, as economies and democracies flourished, governments have been able to respond more quickly to humanitarian catastrophes, Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, recently told PBS NewsHour.
But various manmade conflicts around the globe in recent years have halted that progress.
According to the United Nations’ food agency, the number of people at risk of starvation rose to 124 million last year – a 55 percent increase from 2015.
Over one-quarter of those people live in just four countries: Somalia, South Sudan, northeastern Nigeria and Yemen.
In Somalia, about half of the nation’s population, 6.2 million people, are in need of emergency aid for food, water and shelter. The nation has endured unprecedented drought across four consecutive rainy seasons and violent conflict that’s raged since 1991, Reuters reported.
The Somali famine of 2011 already took the lives of 260,000 – half of whom died before famine was officially declared, and because militants blocked humanitarian groups’ access to those in need. The Somali government, backed by Western powers, struggles to rein in the terror of the militant group al Shabaab in rural areas.
South Sudan, too, is on the brink of another famine. Civil war has raged since 2013, just two years after South Sudan gained independence, placing almost half of the population in a “crisis” situation, Al Jazeera reported. Four million have already fled the country, marking Africa’s worst refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
The African continent’s most populous nation, Nigeria, is often thought of as a success story for its vast oil reserves, but it’s also facing a troubled future. For the past nine years, the government has been in a stalemate with the Islamist group Boko Haram over control of the nation’s northeast.
The militants have isolated the region, preventing aid groups from reaching an estimated one million likely in dire straits. Fighters have even gone so far as to kill humanitarian workers trying to alleviate hunger, Reuters reported.
Of all these conflicts, however, the Fletcher School’s de Waal says the situation in Yemen is perhaps the “biggest famine crime of our generation.”
As the proxy war between Saudi and Emirati-backed government forces and Iran-backed Houthi rebels continues to kill civilians indiscriminately, the Saudi-led coalition has blockaded the ports, keeping food and medicine from reaching the country.
Some 150,000 malnourished children could soon die if they don’t receive aid, as ABC News’ Ian Pannell saw on a rare trip to the country recently.
Increased global wealth has helped alleviate hunger, but the quest for power and money around the world only fuels the vicious cycle of man-made famine, said de Waal. It’s something governments can control by withdrawing from conflicts.
But so far, with too much money to be made and power to be won, that’s not likely anytime soon.

Renewed optimism in industry for Middelburg-based Columbus Stainless steel plant

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SoE governance, operating models under the spotlight

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Sierra Leone: Changing the Guard


Changing the Guard

Opposition leader Julius Maada Bio was  declared on Wednesdaythe winner of a runoff vote to become Sierra Leone’s next president.
The former military commander was immediately sworn in Wednesday night, the New York Times reported.
The Sierra Leone People’s Party candidate won 51.8 percent of the vote in the runoff on Saturday, compared with 48.2 percent for Samura Kamara from the governing All People’s Congress, according to the Electoral Commission. Sixteen candidates had originally contested, but no one was able to gain the 55 percent required to avoid a second round.
Following a campaign season marred by violence and accusations of irregularities, the presence of heavily armed soldiers made for a fraught atmosphere, and a dispute over how to count the votes delayed the results.
Bio, who attended graduate school in the US and Britain, was previously part of two coups, in 1992 and 1996. After the second one, he ruled the country for three months before handing over control to a democratically elected civilian government.