Sunday, September 22, 2013

Kenyan Forces Work To Free Hostages At Nairobi Mall

Last updated: September 22, 2013 10:19 am

Kenyan forces work to free hostages at Nairobi mall

Kenyan authorities on Sunday said they were working to free hostages in an upmarket shopping centre in Nairobi, a day after gunmen killed at least 59 people in the country’s worst terrorist attack in more than a decade.
The attack on Saturday targeted the Westgate mall, which is popular with affluent Kenyans and expatriates, including diplomats and businessmen. The Kenyan government said the country’s president had lost several family members in the terrorist attack, which left at least 300 injured. The UK said that at least three British nationals had been confirmed dead.





The stand-off between the Kenyan security forces and the terrorists continued on Sunday. The Kenyan interior ministry said that between 10 and 15 terrorists were still inside the shopping mall in two different locations, holding an undetermined number of hostages. “We have established the location of the criminals. It’s a delicate balance and we want to evacuate the hostages safely,” said the ministry of interior on its Twitter account.
Kenyan authorities had stopped their updates, saying that the terrorists were monitoring social media. Cars and ambulances carrying casualties continued to arrive early on Sunday to a makeshift hospital outside the shopping centre. At least one hostage was freed.
British and Israeli officials are also believed to be helping the Kenyan authorities in Nairobi. “Mossad, British – everyone is in there,” Kenya military colonel Justin Mwinde told the Financial Times. Asked about the participation of Israeli advisers in the negotiating strategy, a senior Israeli official declined to confirm or deny the reports, but he said: “We are willing to help any friendly nation in the combat against terrorism.”
Westgate, which describes itself as “Nairobi’s premier mall”, is a symbol of Kenya’s rapid economic growth over the last decade, and includes a cinema and 80 shops and restaurants over five floors.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta vowed in a televised address on Saturday night to fight the terrorists. “I have personally lost family members in the Westgate attack,” he said as he addressed the nation, adding: “We shall hunt down the perpetrators, we shall get them, and we shall punish them for this heinous crime.”
Although the president did not blame any particular group, attention has turned to al-Qaeda-affiliated militants al-Shabaab in Somalia. Kenya sent troops into its neighbouring country two years ago as part of a UN-backed mission to push back al-Shabaab. The Islamist group had promised retaliation.
The Somali group, in Twitter messages on Sunday that could not be corroborated, said the Kenyan government had renewed calls for negotiation. It said: “We’ll not negotiate with the Kenyan govt as long as its forces are invading our country, so reap the bitter fruits of your harvest #Westgate.”
Experts said a homegrown group affiliated to al-Shabaab could be behind the attack, or at least have provided logistical support for it, rather than al-Shabaab directly. A UN report published this year said Kenyans made up many of the foreign fighters with al-Shabaab and noted that several other domestic fundamentalist groups operated in Kenya.
The attack is the worst in Kenya since al-Qaeda bombed the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in twin attacks in 1998, killing more than 200 people and injuring hundreds. Kenya is reliant on safari tourism, and the attacks – if confirmed as al-Qaeda-linked terrorism – could hit the industry, derailing growth in east Africa’s largest economy.
Kenya is also a key trading hub in the continent, and an ally of western countries in security matters in the volatile Horn of Africa, a region that includes Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia.
The White House, in a statement, said the US condemned “in the strongest terms the despicable terrorist attack”. John Kerry, US secretary of state, said in a separate statement that there were no reports of any Americans killed, but the wife of a US Agency for International Development employee died in the attack.
William Hague, UK foreign secretary, told the BBC that “undoubtedly” British nationals had been caught up in the attack. He called the terrorist onslaught “callous and cowardly and brutal”.
Canada said that two of its citizens, including a diplomat, were killed, and France confirmed two French nationals were also among the dead.
The onslaught in Nairobi resembles the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in India, in which Pakistani militants targeted public spaces including an upmarket hotel frequented by westerners killing dozens of people.
Additional reporting by Javier Blas in Lagos and John Reed in Jerusalem
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Monday, September 16, 2013

Nigeria's Sovereign Wealth Fund Makes Its First Investment

September 16, 2013 5:27 pm

Nigeria SWF makes maiden investment

Nigeria’s sovereign wealth fund has made its first ever investment, handing over $200m to UBS, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs to manage a fixed income portfolio.
The first investment, even if relatively small, adds Nigeria to the small cadre of commodity-rich countries that over the past decade have become one of the most powerful forces in global financial markets through their sovereign wealth funds.




Uche Orji, chief executive of the $1bn Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), told the Financial Times the fund gave UBS $50m last week to invest in US Treasuries. A further $150m is being transferred this week to Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs to build a US corporate bond portfolio.
“This is a major milestone for us,” Mr Orji, a former banker who was recruited to set up the fund last year, said in an interview in Abuja, the country’s capital.
Mr Orji said in June that he had delayed making any initial investments due to the volatility in global markets. But on Monday he said that he felt the bond market was now “fairly valued”. The first investment comes ahead of this week’s crucial meeting of the Federal Reserve. The US central bank is likely to start phasing out its bond buying programme that has kept interest rates at ultra-low levels. “There is more optimism now,” Mr Orji said.
The Nigeria sovereign wealth fund is the third largest in sub-Saharan Africa, after the $6.9bn Botswana and $5bn Angola funds, though tiny compared to those of oil producers such as Saudi Arabia, Norway and Abu Dhabi, which have more than $600bn in assets each.
The sovereign fund was set up to safeguard oil revenues for future generations, provide a buffer against external shocks and spur infrastructure development in Nigeria. Despite decades of oil production, the country has never previously had a sovereign wealth fund or any ringfenced method of saving. Nigeria’s government wants to grow the fund by about $1bn a year, but faces opposition from state governors, who receive a share of national revenues. Mr Orji acknowledged that new inflows were not guaranteed, but said that the seed capital was enough for now. “$1bn is not inconsequential,” he said. “Not many sovereign wealth funds have started out with that amount.”
Under the investment policy approved by the NSIA earlier this year, the fund is split into three pools. The stabilisation fund has a 20 per cent share – the $200m handed over to banks this week. Capital preservation is the main aim, with the fund acting as a buffer against short-term economic instability.
The future generations and infrastructure funds will each receive 32.5 per cent, or $325m, with 15 per cent unallocated. The NSIA has drawn up a long list of financial institutions to manage the future generations fund, which aims for a long-term return of US inflation plus 4 per cent. Investment options include listed stocks, hedge funds, private equity and real estate.
Mr Orji said he hoped this fund would be running by the end of March 2014. But he expressed concern about rising valuations in the developed world stock markets. “We find quite a few asset classes, such as US equities, to be a bit rich at the moment,” he said. “We see more value in emerging markets.”
For the infrastructure fund, which will invest in Nigerian projects in sectors including power, healthcare, transport and agriculture, the NSIA has signed memorandums of understanding with the Africa Finance Corporation and International Finance Corporation to work together on transactions. It also has an agreement with GE, and is in talks with Power China about a possible electricity investment.
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