Africa Stay updated with Business News, Pakistan news, Current world news and latest world news with Business Recorder.. Tue, 24 May 2016 07:56:45 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Buhari's Lagos no-show dismays Nigerian business imageLAGOS: At least the taxi drivers of Lagos are happy, even if businessmen in Nigeria's commercial capital are not.

A year after becoming president, Muhammadu Buhari pulled out of his first official visit to Lagos on Monday, averting citywide gridlock but angering business leaders who say the 73-year-old former military ruler is deaf to their plight.

With Africa's largest economy now contracting, the foreign exchange market frozen by red tape and a new Niger Delta insurgency sending oil output to a 20-year low, it is a plight that gets worse by the day.

Yet businessmen say Buhari, who swept to power in an election a year ago, remains oblivious and continues to sacrifice short-term growth in pursuit of his long-term dream of overhauling the way Africa's most populous nation works.

To many, sending Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, a Lagos commercial lawyer, to the meeting in his place - despite thousands of posters welcoming "the People's President to No1 Africa's mega city" - is another sign of his disdain.

"It is rather unfortunate that the federal government would raise the expectations of the people... only to cancel the presidential showing, seemingly with no obvious cogent reasons being given," said Yemi Adeleke, director of World Trade Center, a trade and investment agency.

Buhari's spokesman Garba Shehu said the president, who is based in the capital, Abuja, was forced to postpone his visit after being "faced with scheduling difficulties".

Buhari will visit the port city after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan which ends at the start of July, he added.

Foremost among private sector complaints are foreign exchange curbs initially introduced to protect currency reserves hammered by the decline in the price of oil, but which are now a pillar of Buhari's vision of a transformed economy.


In order to keep the naira at 197 to the dollar, the central bank has scuppered the interbank foreign exchange market, blocking access to dollars for anybody not armed with a valid overseas invoice.

Buhari argues that this is about ending speculation, as well as a decades-long cycle of devaluations that has hit ordinary Nigerians in the form of high inflation and discouraged the investment needed to build a serious domestic factory sector.

"It is extraordinarily frustrating for those of us in the business community who supported him that he has chosen to be intransigent about something it seems as if he doesn't really understand," said Timi Soleye, president of CRYO Gas and Power.

Critics, including the International Monetary Fund, point to a currency trading at almost half its official value on the black market, fuelling expectations of a devaluation that are now so widespread that investment has dried up.

This view received support on Friday, when the National Bureau of Statistics revealed the economy shrank 0.4 percent in the first quarter, with industry and manufacturing shrinking 5.5 percent and 7 percent respectively.

"It is now clear that the adverse effects of the oil price shock have filtered through to the demand side of the economy, and we maintain our view that Abuja's current policy framework only serves to exacerbate the oil shock," Cape Town-based NKC African Economists said.

"The economy might still find itself on a slightly firmer footing towards year-end, but this will largely depend on Abuja abandoning some of its unconventional economic policies."


Vice President Osinbajo hinted at changes when he called this month for a "substantial" review of foreign exchange policy, but there are few signs of this filtering down to the Central Bank of Nigeria, which announces its latest monetary policy decision on Tuesday.

Over the last year, Governor Godwin Emefiele's speeches have chimed closely with Buhari's views on the economy and currency, and this month the bank explicitly denied an online media report of an imminent devaluation to 290 to the dollar.

One-month deliverable forwards - essentially a view on the currency one month out - hit 245 to the dollar on May 16 after the devaluation report, but have retraced to 224 this week, reflecting a more sober analysis of the chances of a weaker naira.

All but one of 12 analysts polled by Reuters this month said the currency would be devalued, with a median expectation of a 15 percent weakening - although many were reluctant to be pinned down on the timing. Analysts also say Buhari's actions now closely mirror his behaviour as a military ruler in the early 1980s.

Besides sending in soldiers with bullwhips to bring order to chaotic queues at bus-stops, he tried to stimulate domestic manufacturing by banning imports and rebuffed IMF pressure to devalue the currency.

Still locked in a military mindset - he came to power in a coup and left via the same route - diplomats say he is unlikely to respond in a conventional manner to public or political criticism.

"Buhari doesn't do politics. He does command and control," said one Abuja-based diplomat. "And so far it's working."

Copyright Reuters, 2016

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) Africa Mon, 23 May 2016 22:14:49 +0000
South Africa's Zuma to hear if 800 graft charges reinstated imagePRETORIA: South African state prosecutors will Monday respond to a court ruling that President Jacob Zuma should face almost 800 corruption charges, in a move that could threaten his hold on power.

The charges, relating to a multi-billion dollar arms deal, were dropped in 2009, clearing the way for Zuma to be elected president just weeks later.

The prosecutor justified dropping the charges by saying that tapped phone calls between officials in then-president Thabo Mbeki's administration showed political interference in the case.

But a court last month dismissed the decision to discontinue the charges as "irrational" and said it should be reviewed.

Zuma has endured months of criticism and growing calls for him to step down after a series of corruption scandals amid falling economic growth and record unemployment.

Pressure on the president would increase if some or all of the 783 charges -- which relate to alleged corruption, racketeering, fraud and money laundering -- were reinstated.

"Zuma might remain in office while any prosecution was going on, which would undermine his role as president," Shadrack Gutto, professor for African Renaissance Studies at the University of South Africa (Unisa), told AFP.

"Any charges would add pressure for him to step aside."

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) party faces tricky local elections in August, but Zuma retains widespread support within the party and has appointed many loyalists to key positions countrywide.

Last month, a commission that Zuma set up cleared all government officials -- including himself -- of corruption over the 1999 arms deal.

He was accused of having accepted bribes from international arms manufacturers.

The tapped phone recordings, which became known as the "spy tapes", were kept secret until they were released in 2014 after a long legal battle fought by the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA).

The DA hopes to make major gains in the August elections, tapping into discontent over the ANC's struggle to deliver jobs, houses and education 22 years since the end of apartheid rule.

In March, the president lost another major legal case when the country's highest court found he violated the constitution over the use of public funds to upgrade his private residence.

The so-called "security" work, which cost taxpayers $24 million, included a swimming pool, chicken run, cattle enclosure and an amphitheatre.

Zuma, 74, will have completed two terms in 2019 and is not eligible to run for president again, but the ANC could replace him ahead of the next general election.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had until Monday to announce its decision after the Pretoria High Court ruling last month.

A NPA spokesman said a press conference would be held at 10:00 am (0800 GMT).

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2016

]]> (Parvez Jabri) Africa Mon, 23 May 2016 08:56:34 +0000
UN says Sudan refuses to renew permit of senior humanitarian official imageKHARTOUM: The United Nations said on Sunday that Sudanese authorities had declined to renew a permit for the head of its humanitarian coordination office in Khartoum, Ivo Freijsen, saying he was being effectively expelled from the country.

A statement from the UN humanitarian country team in Sudan expressed "shock and disappointment at the de facto expulsion by the Government of Sudan of one of its senior UN officials."

It said Freijsen was the fourth UN official to be expelled by Sudan in the last two years, and said it was concerned about the impact of the decision on the operating environment "for all humanitarian organisations in Sudan".

Copyright Reuters, 2016

]]> (Fawad Maqsood) Africa Sun, 22 May 2016 20:27:38 +0000
Egypt president says no theory favoured on EgyptAir crash imageCAIRO: President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Sunday no theory was being favoured on why EgyptAir MS804 plunged into the Mediterranean and that Egypt was using a submarine to locate the black boxes.

The Airbus A320 carrying 66 people had crashed into the sea while flying from Paris to Cairo early Thursday, and some wreckage but not the black boxes has been found.

Egypt's aviation minister had said that terrorism was more likely than technical failure, but Sisi said in a televised address that "all the theories are possible".

"There is no particular theory we can affirm right now," he said.

Sisi said a submarine that could operate at a depth of 3,000 metres (9,800 feet) under sea level had been deployed on Sunday to search for the black boxes.

"This (submarine) moved today in the direction of the plane crash because we are working hard to retrieve the two boxes, which are the black boxes," he said.

A civil aviation official told AFP on Sunday that search teams had found none of the passengers' bodies, as the search continues.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2016

]]> (Imaduddin) Africa Sun, 22 May 2016 12:27:56 +0000
Search teams hunt for EgyptAir black boxes imageCAIRO: Search teams scoured the Mediterranean Saturday for more wreckage and the black boxes from EgyptAir flight MS804 for clues on why the plane plummeted and turned full circle before disappearing off radar.

An EgyptAir official said the search was focused on finding the bodies of the passengers and the Airbus A320's flight recorders, which will stop emitting a signal in a month when the batteries run out.

The plane carrying 66 passengers plunged into the Mediterranean early Thursday while flying from Paris to Cairo.

While Egypt's aviation minister has pointed to terrorism as more likely than technical failure, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said there was "absolutely no indication" of why the plane went down.

"We're looking at all possibilities," he said, as reports indicated there had been smoke on board and an apparent problem with the flight control system just before it went down.

The disaster comes just seven months after the bombing of a Russian passenger jet by the Islamic State group over Egypt's Sinai peninsula in October that killed all 224 people on board.

Families of the passengers on the EgyptAir flight gathered at a hotel near Cairo airport after meeting airline officials as they struggled to come to terms with the catastrophe.

"They haven't died yet. No one knows. We're asking for God's mercy," said a woman in her 50s whose daughter had been on board.

On Saturday, EgyptAir Holding Company chairman Safwat Muslim told AFP that the priority was finding the passengers' remains and the black boxes.

"The families want the bodies. That is what concerns us. The army is working on this. This is what we are focusing on," he said.

French investigators met their Egyptian counterparts in Cairo, while a French patrol boat carrying equipment capable of tracing the plane's black boxes was expected on Sunday or Monday.

The plane disappeared between the Greek island of Karpathos and the Egyptian coast in the early hours of Thursday, without its crew sending a distress signal.

It had turned sharply twice before plunging 22,000 feet (6,700 metres) and vanishing from radar screens, said Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos.

The Wall Street Journal and CNN cited unnamed sources as saying the plane's computer systems sent warning messages indicating smoke in the nose of the aircraft just before air traffic controllers lost contact.

The messages indicated intense smoke in the front portion of the plane. The error warnings also indicated that the flight control computer malfunctioned, the Journal report said.

It said the information was insufficient to determine whether the plane was brought down by a bomb or other causes.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2016

]]> (Parvez Jabri) Africa Sat, 21 May 2016 09:14:26 +0000
Nigeria will do what it can to rescue remaining Chibok girls, Buhari says imageABUJA: Nigeria will do what it can to rescue more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram two years ago in the northeast, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Thursday as he met the first girl who had managed to flee the militants.

Soldiers working with a vigilante group found Amina Ali Darsha Nkeki on Tuesday near Damboa, south of Maiduguri in the remote north where Boko Haram has waged a seven-year insurgency to set up an Islamic state. Officials confirmed she was one of 219 girls abducted from the government school in Chibok in April 2014.

"Amina's rescue gives us new hope and offers a unique opportunity to vital information," Buhari said during a meeting with the teenager, her mother and officials after a presidential jet had flown her to Abuja.

He said the government would make it a priority that Amina, who showed Buhari her four-month old baby, can go back to school. "Nobody in Nigeria should be put through the brutality of forced marriage, every girl has a right to education and their choice of life," he said.

"Amina must be able go back to school." After Amina was discovered the army said it had detained a suspected Boko Haram militant called Mohammed Hayatu, who said he was Amina's husband.

On Thursday the military released pictures of a clean-shaven man in a white shirt and cream slacks sitting beside Amina on a hospital bed holding the infant in his lap.

The governor of Borno state where the town of Chibok is located said army generals were already drawing up plans to rescue her classmates.

"We believe that in the coming weeks we shall recover the rest of the girls," Governor Kashim Shettima told reporters after the meeting in Buhari's office.

"The military is already moving into the forest." Previous military attempts to storm Sambisa have met with mixed success, with soldiers making significant in-roads but failing to finish off Boko Haram after running into bands of well-armed guerrillas, mines and booby traps.


Amina, who was accompanied by her mother, Binta, and Nigeria's defence minister and national security adviser, spent more than an hour with Buhari, who made crushing Boko Haram a pillar of his 2015 presidential election campaign.

Buhari, 73, Nigeria's former military ruler, cradled Amina's baby in his arms during the meeting in the lavish presidential villa before posing for a group photograph. Boko Haram captured 276 girls in their night-time raid on Chibok in April 2014, one of the most audacious and high-profile assaults of a seven-year-old insurgency to set up an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.

More than 15,000 people have been killed and two million displaced in Nigeria and neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

Some girls escaped in the melee but parents of the remaining 219 accused then-President Goodluck Jonathan of not doing enough to find their daughters, whose disappearance led to a wave of global outrage. The #Bringbackourgirls activist group said Amina had told her rescuers the rest of the girls were under heavy Boko Haram guard in Sambisa.

Amina's mother last year spoke of her daughter's fear of Boko Haram but of her joy at attending school.

She told the Murtala Muhammed Foundation, a Nigerian non-profit organisation researching a book on the Chibok girls, that she was not sure of the age of Amina, the youngest of her 13 children although only three survived their early years.

"She always sewed her own clothes," her mother said in the interview released to the Thomson Reuters Foundation by Aisha Oyebode of the Murtala Muhammed Foundation.

Binta said Amina's father died some months after his daughter was abducted. "After Amina was kidnapped, only two (of our children) are left alive," she said, adding that her son and daughter lived in Lagos.

She said she had constantly thought of her lost daughter, who had used to help her around the house. "(My son) said I should take it easy and stop crying," she told the Foundation.

"He reminded me that I am not the only parent who lost a child."

Copyright Reuters, 2016

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) Africa Thu, 19 May 2016 20:54:07 +0000
Kerry meets Sisi as Egypt seeks MidEast peace role imageCAIRO: US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo on Wednesday to meet President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, after Egypt called for a renewal of the Middle East peace process.

Even before Sisi had raised the issue, Kerry had planned a visit to discuss the crises in Libya and Syria and to raise concerns about Egypt's harsh crackdown on dissent.

But the top US diplomat is also keen to hear more from the Egyptian leader about how he intends to help broker peace between his Israeli and Palestinian neighbours.

"He's interested in hearing a bit more directly from the president about what role he has in mind," a senior US official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

On Tuesday, in a televised speech, Sisi urged Israelis and Palestinians to seize what he said was a "real opportunity" and hailed his own country's peace deal with Israel.

In 1979, Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel after years of conflict, and today it remains an influential player in the region.

Washington believes the only way to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is a negotiated settlement resulting in two states side-by-side within recognised borders.

But the US does not believe the time is yet ripe to resume a direct dialogue between the sides, preferring instead to lobby both to make confidence building measures to reduce violence and calm tensions.

Some in the international community are becoming frustrated with that approach and France -- and now Egypt -- are pushing for a quicker resumption of efforts to seek a final deal.

There is sympathy for that goal in Washington, and an acceptance that there is a risk that the process could become unsalvageable if it is allowed to fester, but there is also caution about pushing too fast.

"We've said repeatedly that we believe negotiations are the only way to solve the problem. We've also said that we're not ourselves trying to resume negotiations at this point," the official said.

"The secretary is very interested in hearing some more about the details of what President Sisi has in mind," he added.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2016

]]> (Parvez Jabri) Africa Wed, 18 May 2016 15:29:49 +0000
Egypt's Sisi offers mediating role in Israel-Palestinian peace talks imageCAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi promised Israel on Tuesday warmer ties if it accepts efforts to resume peace talks with the Palestinians, urging Israeli leaders not to waste an opportunity to bring security and hope to a troubled region.

In an impromptu speech at an infrastructure conference in the southern city of Assiut, Sisi said his country was willing to mediate a reconciliation between rival Palestinian factions in an effort to pave the way toward a lasting peace accord with the Israelis.

"If we are able to solve the issue of our Palestinian brothers it will achieve warmer peace ... I ask that the Israeli leadership allow this speech to be broadcast in Israeli one or two times as this is a genuine opportunity," Sisi said.

"I say to our Palestinian brothers, you must unite the different factions in order to achieve reconciliation and quickly. We as Egypt are prepared to take on this role. It is a real opportunity to find a long-awaited solution."

French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday an international conference due in late May in Paris to relaunch peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis had been postponed but would take place this summer.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told France's foreign minister on Sunday that Israel remained opposed to a French initiative for an international conference to try to revive peace talks.

Egypt was the first of a handful of Arab countries to recognise Israel with a U.S.-sponsored peace accord in 1979, but Egyptian attitudes to their neighbour remain icy due to what many Arabs see as the continued Israeli occupation of land that is meant to form a Palestinian state.

Copyright Reuters, 2016

]]> (Imaduddin) Africa Tue, 17 May 2016 13:11:54 +0000
Kenya police break up opposition protests imageNAIROBI: Kenyan police fired tear gas and beat protestors with truncheons Monday to prevent opposition demonstrators from storming the offices of the electoral commission to demand its dissolution.

Hundreds of supporters were blocked from the offices of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), an AFP reporter witnessed. Some protestors threw stones at police.

There have been several such protests in recent weeks.

Protests were also held in other Kenyan towns including Kisumu and Kisii, with police there firing tear gas to break up the crowds, local media reported.

Raila Odinga, a former prime minister who lost his latest bid for the presidency in 2013, accuses the commission of being biased towards President Uhuru Kenyatta. He has demanded that a new slate of commissioners be named ahead of the next election in August 2017.

Kenyatta beat Odinga by more than 800,000 votes to win the presidency in 2013.

Odinga and civil society groups accused the electoral commission of a series of irregularities that they said skewed the results.

The election nonetheless passed off peacefully, in contrast to the country's disputed 2007 elections which degenerated into fierce inter-ethnic violence that killed more than 1,100 people after Odinga's supporters challenged his defeat by Mwai Kibaki.

The next election in August 2017 is shaping up as a rematch of the 2013 election, with 71-year old Odinga expected to try to unseat Kenyatta, 54.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2016

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) Africa Mon, 16 May 2016 21:04:23 +0000
Rwanda opens pioneering methane electricity plant imageKIGALI: Rwanda formally opened a unique methane power plant Monday which it is hoped will one day provide 60 percent of the country's electricity, according to its operator.

The generation station on Lake Kivu in Rwanda's west will also help reduce the risk of a potentially catastrophic natural disaster should the lake's vast quantities of methane and carbon dioxide be disturbed by an earthquake.

President Paul Kagame joined managers from the state-run Rwanda Energy Group (REG) for the opening ceremony of the $200 million (145 million euros) "KivuWatt" project, REG manager Augusta Mutoni told AFP.

US-based power company ContourGlobal started construction of the plant located in Kibuye, close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, after the government ran a successful pilot that produced about two megawatts (MW) of electricity from the methane in the lake.

The Kibuye plant has produced 26 MW since December.

The pioneering new system uses a floating platform 13 kilometres (eight miles) off the shoreline that employs a vacuum to suck up methane from 300 metres below the waterline instead of using drilling as with traditional methane extraction projects.

Methane is then separated from water and carbon dioxide (Co2) and shipped to the shore via an underwater pipeline while excess CO2 is pumped back into the lake.

ContourGlobal hopes to build three more platforms at Kibuye by 2018 or 2019 which will increase the capacity of the "KivuWatt" project by 100 MW, a major boost to Rwanda's current nationwide production capacity of just 160 MW.

Lake Kivu, along with Cameroon's Lake Nyos and Lake Monoun, is one of three lakes in the world to have dangerously high concentrations of gasses like methane that if released suddenly could cause a disastrous explosion, after which waves of Co2 could suffocate people and livestock.

In 1984, an eruption killed 37 people around Lake Monoun, then in 1986 a similar disaster at Lake Nyos claimed more than 1,700 lives.

The "KivuWatt" scheme was largely financed by private capital, though some 45 percent of the funding came in the form of loans from international development institutions.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2016

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) Africa Mon, 16 May 2016 20:56:53 +0000
UN concerned by rise in Burundi detentions imageUNITED NATIONS: The United Nations is deeply concerned by a surge in violence in Burundi and a rise in the number of detentions in recent days, a UN spokesman said Monday.

The heightened tensions came around the one-year anniversary of an attempted coup to overthrow President Pierre Nkurunziza.

"We are deeply concerned by the hike in violence and the reports of an increased number of detentions in recent days," said UN spokesman Farhan Haq.

UN officials are closely monitoring the situation, he said.

The United Nations renewed its appeal for dialogue to overcome the crisis sparked by Nkurunziza's decision to run for a third term which he went on to win in elections in July.

Around a hundred people were arrested in Bujumbura on Friday in a series of roundups by security forces targeting opposition strongholds, according to officials and witnesses.

Dozens of police and soldiers went door-to-door, street-by-street, compiling lists of residents and visitors and taking many away for questioning, mostly young men, according to witnesses.

On Wednesday in Bujumbura security forces again arrested more than 100 people. Most were released soon afterwards but witnesses said about a dozen detainees have not been seen since.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2016

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) Africa Mon, 16 May 2016 20:53:41 +0000