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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

 
SOUTH AFRICA-PRETORIA-CHINESE VICE PREMIER-DONATION | COASTWEEK

PRETORIA, (Xinhua) -- Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong © takes part in a medical equipment donation ceremony at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria, South Africa, April 25, 2017. Liu Yandong on Tuesday visited the hospital and donated medical equipment to it. XINHUA PHOTO BY: ZHAI JIANLAN

5 Al-Shabaab suspects nabbed with explosives in Somalia 

MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) -- Somalia’s security forces have arrested five Al-Shabaab suspects and seized a vehicle laden with explosives in the northern port town of Bosasso, officials said on Wednesday.

Police Commissioner of Bari region, Abdihakim Hussein Yusuf said the security forces received a tip off from members of the public and swung into action to thwart a terrorist attack in the town.

“We have captured five Al-Shabaab suspects and a vehicle loaded with explosives after receiving prior intelligence. Investigation is still continuing now,” Yusuf said.

He said the suspects who were arrested on Tuesday night have been planning to carry terror attacks on unspecified locations in Puntland including public places.

Hussein said the security forces have enhanced operations to identify the group’s targets, saying this was a significant operation against the terror cells in the region.

The latest arrest comes after Al-Shabaab and pro-Islamic States’ militants killed nine Puntland soldiers in a roadside blast.

 

Four Burundian abductees in DR Congo released: police

BUJUMBURA, (Xinhua) -- Four Burundian nationals including a priest who had been abducted earlier this month at Gatumba near the Burundi-Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) border have been released, the Burundian police spokesman said Wednesday.

According to Burundian Police Spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye, all those released abductees were “in good shape” apart from small injuries on the feet of three ageing people because of a “long walk” between Burundi and the Congolese territory.

“All belongings of the four abductees including theirs shoes and other valuable objects were taken by the unidentified kidnappers,” Nkurikiye said.

He however indicated that those abductees told investigators that they were not tortured, adding that they do not know whether their families paid ransoms in order to obtain the release.

Nkurikiye said that investigations are underway to identify the kidnappers.

Those four persons were abducted at Gatumba on April 9, 2017 in an ambush by armed people on a passenger minibus coming from the Burundian capital Bujumbura.

During that ambush, two persons were injured and evacuated to hospital.

Security has been occasionally disrupted in villages near Burundi’s Rukoko forest reserve in Gihanga and at Gatumba, with thefts and ambushes on the road linking Bujumbura to Cibitoke and the road linking Bujumbura to Gatumba.

  

Burundi president swears in new EAC minister

BUJUMBURA, (Xinhua) -- Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza Wednesday swore in Isabelle Ndahayo as the new East African Community (EAC) Affairs Minister for Burundi.

The ceremony attended by the country’s top leaders including lawmakers of both chambers of the Burundian parliament and diplomats accredited in Burundi took place at Kigobe Parliament house in the north of the east African country’s capital Bujumbura.

In her oath, Isabelle Ndahayo swore fidelity to the Burundian unity charter, the national constitution and other laws governing the country.

“Before the Burundian president and the parliament, I swear fidelity to the National Unity Charter, the National Constitution and other laws. I commit to dedicate all my strengths to defend interests of the nation, to promote unity and cohesion of Burundian people, to promote peace and social justice in accomplishing my assignments,” said Ndahayo.

She also committed to combat genocide ideologies and exclusion as well as all kinds of discrimination.

She also pledged to promote human rights and liberties.

Isabelle Ndahayo was appointed by Burundian President Nkurunziza in a presidential decree on April 14.

Since 2012, she was one of the nine Burundian lawmakers sitting at the East African Legislative Assembly whose headquarters is based in Arusha, Tanzania.

She replaces Leontine Nzeyimana who had served as Burundi’s EAC minister since 2012.

The EAC bloc is made up of six countries including Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and South Sudan. 

 

Algeria, UN discuss peace process in war-torn Libya

ALGIERS, (Xinhua) -- Algerian Minister of Maghreb Affairs, African Union and Arab League Abdelkader Massahel met here on Wednesday with UN Envoy to Libya Martin Kobler in discussion of peace process in war-torn Libya.

“There’s a desire among Libyan ordinary citizens and political leaders to achieve peace,” Messahel told reporters following his meeting with the Kobler, who is also Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

“Libyan warrant parties detain the solution in their hands, and our role is to support and assist them without the need to interfere in their internal affairs,” he noted.

Furthermore, Messahel welcomed the return of UNSMIL mission to Tripoli after more than two years absence due to chaos reining there.

For his part, Kobler hailed Algeria’s “efforts in terms of supporting the process of the implementation of UN-sponsored peace agreement in Libya.”

He admitted that deadlock due to some articles of the Libyan political agreement should be reviewed or changed to boost the peace process.

Kobler arrived in Algeria on Wednesday as part of a work visit to continue consultation between Algeria and the United Nations on the Libyan crisis, amid recent developments in this nation and assessing the progress of the implementation of the Libyan political accord of December 17, 2015. 

  

Security of Libyan waters an EU priority: Mogherini

VALLETTA, (Xinhua) -- The security of Libyan waters is an essential part of the work of the European Union (EU), said Federica Mogherini, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, on Wednesday.

She was speaking on board the Italian Amphibious ship San Giusto in Malta, which is taking part in the operation SOPHIA tackling piracy and Human Trafficking.

Mogherini said that this operation is fulfilling its core mandate of disrupting the traffic of smugglers at sea and they have already trained 93 Libyan coastguards. Libyan coastguards will be provided with ships that allow them to operate in the waters to monitor what happens in the waters and save lives if necessary.

She added that the security of Libyan waters translates into more possibilities for fishermen of Libya, providing sustainable economic revenue that can help disrupt the business of human trafficking.

  

Sudan, UN sign 1.4 bln USD worth assistance framework

KHARTOUM, (Xinhua) -- Sudan Government and the UN on Wednesday signed the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for 2018-2021, which worth 1.4 billion dollars.

The framework, signed by Osman Ahmed Fadul Wash, Sudan’s Minister of International Cooperation, and Marta Ruedas, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, constitutes the planning framework for UN development collaboration in Sudan over the next four years.

Sudan and the UN vowed during the signing ceremony to foster cooperation, coordination and partnership to implement the UNDAF as the UN’s contribution towards national development plans and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“This framework helps in addressing challenges facing sustainable development and social work in Sudan such as displacement, migration, refuge, and the social and economic effects of these issues as well,” said Sudan’s  Minister of International Cooperation Osman Ahmed Fadul Wash.

Marta Ruedas, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, for her part, said that “the new UNDAF is an exceptional opportunity for the UN system to enable an early take-off of the SDGs in Sudan and closely align its support behind the essential ambitions of Sudan’s national development plans.”

“The SDGs are extraordinarily ambitious and complex, and require everyone, including the UN, to approach development innovatively. We will need to work across sectors in an all-of-society effort for these ambitions,” she noted.

The formulation of the UNDAF, which was based on extensive consultations with different national stakeholders, including government partners and civil society, was overseen by a government-UN task force, coordinated by the Ministry of International Cooperation, established in June 2015.

  

Nigerian president to work from home: minister

LAGOS, (Xinhua) -- Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has opted to work from home, Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed said Wednesday.

The minister told reporters after the weekly  Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja, the country’s capital that the Nigerian leader has already called for files requiring his attention to be moved to his official residence.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo is presiding over the meeting.

“We just concluded the Federal Executive Council meeting. I’m sure you noticed that the President was not there. He was not there because he asked that he be allowed to rest and asked the vice president to preside,” he added.

“And he will be working from home. He has asked all his files to be taken to him in the house. He will be working from home today,” he said.

Mohammed told reporters that  Osinbajo will visit the President at home later in the day.

There has been controversies over the state of health of President Buhari, who returned to the country on March 10 after a 49-day medical sojourn in London.

The 74-year-old Nigerian leader was only seen in public once throughout last week, when he joined other Muslim faithfuls for a Juma’at service on Friday at a mosque located near his office inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The service lasted less than one hour after which Buhari returned to his residence.

The President’s continuous non-appearance at public events is linked to his ailing health and the need to take further rest.

  

Nigeria nabs 9 foreigners in suspected oil theft

ABUJA, (Xinhua) -- Nine foreigners have been identified among 10 suspected oil thieves arrested in Nigeria’s Delta region on Tuesday, a navy commander said Wednesday.

An Indonesian, a Beninois, two Ukrainians, two Pakistanis and three Ghanaians were arrested with a Nigerian onboard a Panama-registered vessel carrying out the illegal activity early Tuesday, Navy Commander Ibrahim Dewu told reporters.

The suspects were caught siphoning crude oil into a vessel from a loading jacket operated by Shell Petroleum and Development Company, Dewu said.

He said about 2,000 metric tons of crude oil had been siphoned from the loading jacket before the suspects were caught.

They were arrested based on intelligence report three days after the Nigerian navy personnel opened a dragnet on them.

“The Nigerian among them is the Chief Officer while the Captain is a Pakistani,” Dewu said.

According to him, a preliminary investigation showed that the vessel had been on Nigerian waters for two weeks, operating on the high sea during the day and going late at night to connect to the loading jacket to siphon crude oil.

The suspects and the vessel would be handed over to the authorities for prosecution after investigations, the official added.

 

Nigeria to kick off nationwide voter registration

LAGOS, (Xinhua) -- Nigeria’s electoral commission said Wednesday that all is set to commence the nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) across the 774 Local Government Areas in the country beginning on April 27.

Necessary logistics have been deployed for the commencement of the exercise as scheduled, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, a director with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) told reporters in Abuja.

The required personnel and materials for the exercise have also been deployed, he added.

Osaze-Uzzi reiterated that the exercise would take place at the commission’s Local Government offices on working days of the weeks from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. local time, pending when the review of the exercise.

The director advised those who are yet to register for their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) to use the opportunity to do so.

Osaze-Uzzi said it was when people have their PVCs to vote, they could influence politics and development positively.

He advised those who had registered before but could not obtain their PVCs to go and lodge their complaint before going for new registration.

Nigeria is scheduled to hold general elections in February 2019. 

  

Zambian leader seeks to consolidate ties with Czech Republic

LUSAKA, (Xinhua) -- Zambian President Edgar Lungu on Wednesday said his government was committed to enhance cooperation with the Czech Republic.

Lungu said when Czech Republic’s Ambassador-Designate to Zambia Radeck Rubes presented his letters of credence at State House that it was in the interest of his government to consolidate relations with other countries at a time it was diversifying its economy and expanding industrial base.

Zambia, he said, was looking forward to closely collaborating with the Czech Republic in order to learn from the country’s admirable expertise in various sectors such as agriculture, energy and health.

According to him, the Czech Republic’s decision to open an embassy in Zambia was a positive development aimed at enhancing bilateral relations, adding that this will open up several new doors of fruitful cooperation.

On his part, the Czech Republic envoy assured of his government’s commitment to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.

He said he was impressed with the great interests in Zambia to take the cooperation to a greater height. 

  

8 killed, 12 others injured in road accident in eastern Kenya

MAKUENI, Kenya, (Xinhua) -- At least eight people were killed and 12 others seriously injured in a grisly road accident along the busy Nairobi-Mombasa highway in eastern Kenya early Thursday.

Area divisional police commander Zacharia Bitok said the accident occurred when a commuter minibus which was ferrying passengers from Mtito-Andei to Nairobi collided head-on with a truck that was headed to Mombasa a few meters from Salama market in Makueni County.

Bitok said the driver of the minibus was among those killed. “The truck, which was loaded with timber, overturned following the impact of the collision,” Bitok told journalists at the scene.

“The eight died instantly while 12 others among them the lorry turnboys were rushed to Machakos level-5 hospital,” he added. He said the driver of the minibus failed to overtake some vehicles leading to a head-on collision with the truck.

Bitok said the whereabouts of the others remains unknown. The accident has disrupted trafficking flows since the truck is blocking the busy highway.

The incident comes two days after another one happened few meters away from the scene and killed 27 people and 20 others were injured in the accident at Kambu, Kibwezi area. Police say they are investigating both incidents.

Kenya ranks among African countries with the highest toll of road accidents that are caused by over speeding and lethargic enforcement of traffic rules.

Government statistics indicate that the East Africa nation loses at least 3,000 people annually from road carnage, with close to half being pedestrians while several others are left with injuries, according to statistics from the police. 

  

Kenya launches e-portal for Port Health Services

NAIROBI,  (Xinhua) -- Kenya on Thursday launched an e-portal for Port Health Services that will boost surveillance against cross border transmission of diseases.

Ministry of Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopha Mailu told a media briefing in Nairobi that the digital platform will manage services offered to traders at Kenya’s points of entry.

“The management information system is part of the government’s policy of promoting automation of services for greater efficiency,” Mailu said.

“The online system will provide a platform for faster electronic processing of applications for export and import health certificates,” he added.

Mailu said that the e-portal will greatly contribute towards creation of an enabling environment for business transactions and thus enhance Kenya’s commercial profile.

“Importers and exporters will now be able to acquire health certificates in 12 hours as compared to four days under the manual system,” he added.

The digital platform will enable Kenya to provide services at the port of entry in line with international health regulations and therefore contribute towards attainment of Global Health Security Agenda.

The portal will also provide a forum for port health officers to share information on the movement of goods thoughout the country.

Mailu noted that port health services play a very important role in trade facilitation through the inspection of goods of public health importance.

“However some of the goods handled are perishable in nature and require to be processed within the shortest time possible,” he said.

The portal was funded by TradeMark East Africa. The platform will be rolled out on a pilot basis to the main airport of Nairobi and Mombasa and thereafter rolled out to all border points by the end of the year.

  

Kenya seeks to screen 200,000 against high blood pressure levels

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenya plans to screen 200,000 people against increased high blood pressure levels, a senior government official said on Wednesday.

Ministry of Health Principal Secretary Julius Korir said the month-long campaign exercise is the beginning of the fight against cardiovascular diseases in the country.

“We are stepping up the fight against cardiovascular diseases because it is the second killer disease in the country after infectious diseases as the top contributor in the country,” he said during the launch of the exercise in Nairobi.

The campaign dubbed “Pima Pressure” is part of the May Measurement Month and will see the ministry set up free screening stations in the country’s referral hospitals, public universities and various public pick up points.

According to the National Stepwise Survey of 2015, almost one in four Kenyans is living with hypertension and more than half of Kenyans have never had their blood pressure measured.

In addition, more than 90 percent of those undergoing treatment for hypertension have not attained control of the disease.

“We want to encourage all Kenyans to regularly measure their blood pressure because awareness is the first step to better health,” he noted.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hypertension is the most common cardiovascular disease with estimates where three in 10 people are living with the condition.

The Steps Survey 2015 also revealed that more than five million Kenyans currently consumed some form of tobacco products.

One million Kenyans consume alcohol on a daily basis; three million are physically inactive and over 40 million consume an unhealthy diet.

The ministry was keen on addressing the growing burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and would implement the National NCD Strategy.

“We have intensified public awareness campaigns and interventions to reduce these risk factors and the burden of the disease in the country,” he added.

The ministry of health in conjunction with the Kenya Cardiac Society and other stakeholders are leading the campaign. 

 

Kenya’s value chain agricultural farmers seek funds to enhance output

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s value chain agricultural farmers are seeking more resources to help boost production and improve existing agro processing firms to enable them undertake value addition of locally produced commodities.

A new report on Kenya agro-processing industry reveals that lack of finances coupled with poor technology is curtailing full utilization of agro-processing industry potential.

The report which was launched in Nairobi on Wednesday states that the agro processing industry is grappling with low level of investments.

Gloria Otieno, one of the authors of the report noted that policies on climate change, trade and food security are not integrated thus leading to stumpy production and low incomes to farmers and traders.

“There is need for resource mobilization to up-scale production and upgrade existing firms so as to ensure that the potential for the industry is fully utilized, especially in the banana and cassava subsectors,” Otieno said.

“There are existing structural inefficiencies with respect to the functioning of value chains, specifically the way the sectors and ancillary support sectors such as packaging, labeling branding and marketing support,” she added.

Booker Washington who co-authored the report stated that government and financial institutions need to make credit more accessible to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), producer groups and women engaged in agro processing.

“This can be achieved by lowering interest rates and providing innovative loan packages for entrepreneurs specifically those working in groups or cooperative societies,” said Booker.

Kenya’s export destination market remains quite narrow, with over 70 percent of total exports being destined to 12 countries globally, she noted.

Booker said even though youth involvement in agriculture is low, the gap can be remedied by channeling the youth fund to agricultural and processing activities at county level.

Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe revealed that the government will soon start providing more smallscale farmers with appropriate agro-processing machines to enhance value addition of locally produced commodities.

The machines he explained will help in advancing value addition of local products with a view to attracting premium prices at the local, regional and global markets.

He confirmed the agro-processing machines will be distributed to farmers in the cassava, mangoes, bananas and rice sub sectors.

Currently, he noted most of the agricultural exports such as coffee, tea, horticulture, cassava, mangoes and bananas are semi-processed and hence have low market value.

“Enhancing our products will enable us attract premium prices and equally we will also expand our regional and global markets,” said Lesiyampe.

“Agro-processing and other value addition processes in agriculture, increases the competitiveness of our agricultural products in the local, regional and international markets.  The ministry has however adopted strategies that will enable the country to capture a greater percentage of value addition,” he added.

The government is establishing agro-technology incubation centers, for example, in Siaya, Makueni and Nandi counties and supporting cottage processing concept in counties that produces mangoes, Cassava, Aloe-Vera, ground nuts, bananas,  and cereals, he added. 

  

Kenya records progress in eliminating armyworms

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenya has made good progress in eradicating fall armyworms that had invaded hundreds of farms in various regions across the East African nation.

The country’s Ministry of Agriculture early this month conceded invasion of the pest and discouraged citizens from moving plant materials from one region to another.

The ministry identified a variety of crops under threat that included cereals such as sorghum, millet, rice, millet, wheat, maize and barley.

Pasture grasses like Bermuda, hay and napier grass and vegetables like kale and cabbages, legumes or pulses, bananas, tomatoes, capsicum, ginger, spinach, amaranth, onions, sugar beet, citrus, cucumber and sunflower were also under threat.

Approximately 11,000 hectares of off-season maize had been infested, according to the ministry. Maize is the most important staple in Kenya with a per capita consumption of more than 78kg per person, per annum.

The armyworm, according to the ministry, undergoes full egg-larva- pupa-adult metamorphosis, with the female laying tiny eggs in masses of 150-200, thus, enabling the pest to cover a huge area in short time.

“Plant early and adhere to regional planting calendar, use recommended fertilizers and keep fields weed-free to boost plant vigour,” the ministry told farmers.

In conjunction with county governments, it released chemicals for use as farmers were mobilized to spray their crops, especially in maize growing areas of Bungoma, Busia, Siaya and Kakamega and wheat growing areas like Nakuru and Uasin Gishu.

The efforts are paying off, with farmers reporting that they are winning against the pest that has become a threat to Kenya’s food security, worsened by a six months drought.

“I sprayed my two acres of maize concentrating on the shoots as advised by agricultural officers. The maize is now flowering because I have maintained intermittent spraying,” James Kayunga, a farmer in Bungoma, said Wednesday.

Kayunga explained that he detected the pest on his farm in mid-March and has worked hard to eliminate it.

“The county government stepped in to help farmers when I had already made my own progress. Some farmers who delayed spraying have lost their crops to the pest but a majority are reporting good progress,” he said.

At the Kenyan Coast, the Kwale County government said there are no more reports on the presence of armyworms.

“I am happy to report that there’s no single case of new invasion of the armyworms in the county. We have achieved this progress by using various strategies with the help of the national government,” said County Agriculture Director David Wanjala.

Bernard Moina, an agricultural extension officer in Kitale, one of the areas that had been hit the pests, said the intensify of the worms in the area had gone down significantly.

The pests, according to the UN agency Food and Agriculture Organization, was first detected in Nigeria in January last year and has spread in Botswana, Congo, Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo, and Uganda.

There are four kinds of armyworms namely African armyworm, Common armyworm, Fall armyworm and Lawn armyworm. The Fall armyworm is the one that has invaded Kenyan farms.

  

Kenyan scientist calls for increased funding for biotechnology research

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- A Kenyan scientist on Wednesday called on the government to increase funding for agricultural biotechnology to help empower women scientists.

Professor Caroline Thoruwa, the Chairperson of African Women in Science and Engineering said additional funding could help enhance the participation of women in science whose number is currently small.

“Additional funding will help empower women’s participation in modern science especially Genetically Modified Organization that is the current innovation in agriculture,” she said in an inaugural women in biosciences forum in Nairobi.

Thoruwa called on the government to increase awareness on biotechnology by reaching women in all parts of the country.

“It is time to tell the public about the positive side of biotechnology. We need to raise up the status of women in biotechnology and also encourage women to network in order to achieve the noble goal of sharing their science,” she said.

Felister Makini, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization Deputy Director General urged the government to make farming easier to women by providing them with modern tools such as biotechnology.

“Biotechnology can help African women since they form majority of farmers and suffer most during drought and food shortages,” she noted.

Makini said that drought and perennial hunger should be a thing of the past since the technology that could be of great help exists.

Margaret Karembu, Director, The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications AfriCenter hailed Kenya’s intention to revive the textile industry by introducing disease resistant and drought tolerant Bt cotton.

“Despite demonstrated will and long history of safe use, conflicting messages between different ministries and regulatory agencies were hampering progress in delivering the technology to farmers,” Karembu said.

She called on women scientists to intensify engagement with government and help clarify long-standing misconceptions on the technology.

  

Feature: Huawei-funded digital skills development program benefit Kenyan youths

By Christine Lagat NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Thirty Kenyan youth drawn from low income families on Wednesday graduated from a six weeks digital skills development program funded by Chinese telecommunications giant, Huawei.

The youth underwent an intensive training program to upgrade their skills in computing, use of internet and entrepreneurship.

Cabinet Secretary for ICT, Joe Mucheru said government has forged strategic partnerships with industry and academia to bridge the digital divide through investments in broadband infrastructure and human capital.

“Providing youth from underprivileged backgrounds with high end ICT skills is an integral part of the government’s strategy to alleviate unemployment and its related social ills,” Mucheru said.

Huawei technologies in partnership with Kenya’s ICT Authority implemented the digital skills development program aimed at improving computer literacy and entrepreneur skills among youth from financially constrained backgrounds.

“We have increased investments in training programs that enable youth acquire technical skills like coding, computer assembly and entrepreneurship. These are critical skills set required to drive growth of knowledge based economy,” said Mucheru.

He said Huawei has also supported Presidential Digital Talent Program that aims to polish ICT skills and employability among university students.

The Chinese government and enterprises are keen to play a central role in hastening Kenya’s digital transformation.

Chinese Ambassador to Kenya, Liu Xianfa said Beijing has prioritized vocational training and technology transfer in a bid to strengthen bilateral cooperation with East Africa’s largest economy.

“Digital skills for life program stand as an epitome of China-Kenya skills and technology transfer to hasten realization of vision 2030,” Liu said.

Huawei has set aside adequate funds to support digital skills upgrade for Kenya’s youth through internship and job placement.

Dean Yu, the CEO of Huawei in Kenya said that provision of technical and life skills to under-privileged Kenyan youth is at the heart of Huawei’s corporate social responsibility strategy.

“We are committed to enrich the lives of Kenyan people especially disadvantaged youth with technical skills,” said Dean, adding that Huawei aims to build an ecosystem to speed up technology transfer in Kenya.

KENYA-NAIROBI-CHINA-HUAWEI-DIGITAL SKILLS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM | COASTWEEK
NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for ICT Joe Mucheru (2nd R) and Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Liu Xianfa (2nd L) give a certificate to a trainee at the graduation ceremony of Huawei digital skills development program in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, on April 26, 2017. Thirty Kenyan youth drawn from low income families on Wednesday graduated from a six-week digital skills development program funded by Chinese telecommunications giant, Huawei. The youth underwent an intensive training program to upgrade their skills in computing, use of internet and entrepreneurship. XINHUA PHOTO: PAN SIWEI

Nairobi bourse key index in major rise as selected stocks swell

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- The benchmark Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) 20 Share Index on Wednesday rose 25 points to hit a new high of 3,162.37, boosted by rise in prices of key stocks.

British American Tobacco, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and CFC Stanbic were among the stocks whose prices went up by between 0.5 percent and 8.3 percent.

KCB was the top traded stock after moving 8.5 million shares at 0.32 U.S. dollars, an increase of 2.4 percent.

Safaricom, Kenya’s leading telecom operator, came second with 6.2 million shares at unchanged price of 0.18 dollars.

Equity Bank was the day’s third best traded stock after transacting 2.8 million shares at 0.33 dollars, an increase of 1.5 percent.

Some 24 million shares valued at 7.8 million dollars were traded in 1,006 deals, down from 32 million shares worth 8.6 million dollars posted in the previous session.

The NSE All Share Index ended the day at a high of 133.13 from 132.71 in the previous session while market capitalization, which measures shareholders wealth rose to 19 billion dollars. 

  

Nigeria to support for people living with disabilities

LAGOS, (Xinhua) -- Nigeria on Wednesday said it was committed to providing welfare support and dividends of democracy to individuals living with disabilities.

Samuel Ankeli, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Disability Matters, disclosed this in Abuja, the country’s capital city.

He said government was promoting disability inclusive policies to ensure the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to him, this present administration wants to correct the mistake of the past where disabled individuals were not employed and empowered.

He told reporters that employment is just one out of many critical areas that concerns the government and people with disabilities, among others like health, education, employment, empowerment, housing and transport.

He said the government has a development policy strategy, noting that his office was to supervise the structure on ground and supervise its effective implementation.

  

Feature: Finding an antidote to Ghana’s illegal mining

ACCRA, (Xinhua) -- Ghana’s illegal mining, arguably the most topical issue spanning the past few weeks, has sparked strident public outcry.

The case against the practice is its unprecedented sophisticated nature which has caused massive destruction to the country’s water bodies, forests and farmlands.

Perhaps, the most worrying aspect of illegal mining, popularly called “galamsey” (gather and sell), is the threat it is causing to Ghana’s major rivers like the Pra, Birim, Bia and Ankobra, sparking fears Ghana may have to import drinking water within the next 10 years.

It is no wonder a coalition of media against galamsey has been formed to back government’s action to halt this harmful practice or at least make it conform to fresh government policies and guidelines to restore sanity in small-scale mining.

The impact of illegal or small-scale mining has been felt in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire which Tuesday sent a delegation to Ghana for talks on measures to stem the threat to its water bodies.

The Ivorian delegation Tuesday scheduled a meeting with Ghanaian officials over the rippling effects of illegal mining in Ghana on that country.

Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Benito Owusu-Bio, told the media in the Western regional town of Prestea after touring some mining sites that River Tano and Bia River, which tributaries enter Ivory Coast’s lagoons had polluted that country’s water bodies.

The meeting was therefore arranged to find an amicable solution to the problem.

Following a two-week ultimatum by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources John Peter Amewu, to all illegal miners to halt their activities, more than 540 excavators have been withdrawn from mining sites.

The Minister has also revoked all mining licenses while halting the issuance of new ones to prospective small-scale miners.

The government’s action has received widespread support from chiefs, the media, non-governmental organizations, and other organized bodies, urging the government to take sterner measures to protect and preserve Ghana’s water bodies, forests and farmlands.   

The Chief of Prestea-Hemang, Nana Ntaboah Pra IV, says he backs the government’s decision to halt mining in the water bodies, which has destroyed River Ankobra that serves as a source of drinking water for the people.

“We have taken the move to destroy dredgers being used for mining in Ankobra River and even four days to the 2016 general election we burnt eight of them,” he stated.

Nana Pra has subsequently asked Ghanaians not to politicize the government resolve to halt illegal mining in water bodies, while appealing to the main regulatory bodies - Water Resources Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency - to join the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to clamp down on mining in rivers.

Two deputy ministers, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi and Owusu-Bio as well as some officials of the Minerals Commission later visited Wasa Akropong in the Wasa Amenfi East in the Western region to find out the extent of destruction caused by illegal miners. 

  

Ghana economic growth slowed to 3.5 pct in 2016

ACCRA, (Xinhua) -- Provisional data released here by the Ghana Statistical Service on Wednesday indicated a subdued economic growth figure of 3.5 percent year-on-year for Ghana’s economy in 2016, compared with the 3.8 percent year-on-year growth in the previous year.

The value of the economy, including oil, was estimated at 36. 01 billion Ghana cedis (8.52 billion U.S. dollars) for 2016, compared with 34.80 billion cedis in the previous year.

Announcing the figures here, Acting Government Statistician Baah Wadieh disclosed that Gross Domestic Product grew by 4.1 percent during the fourth Quarter (Q4) of 2016, compared with the 3.9 percent growth experienced in Q4 2015.

The services sector accounted for 56.9 percent of total GDP, while industry sector accounted for 24.2 percent, leaving the agriculture sector with 18.9 percent.

The services sector again experienced the highest growth rate of 5.7 percent while the agriculture sector experienced a 3.0 percent growth with industry contracting by 1.4 percent. 

  

Ghana producer inflation rise to 6 pct in March

ACCRA, (Xinhua) -- The rate of change over time in prices received by domestic manufacturers for the production of their goods and services rose to 6.0 percent during the month of March 2017, the Ghana Statistical Service announced here Wednesday.

This is relative to the 5.4 percent recorded during the previous month.

“The rise in producer inflation rate for March 2017 was mainly due to increase in inflation in virtually all sectors, particularly manufacturing as well as mining and quarrying,” said Acting Government Statistician Baah Wadieh.

“Mining and quarrying, which recorded the highest inflation, rose by 1.1 percentage points to 20.8 percent in March 2017, relative to the 19.7 percent recorded a month earlier,” Wadieh disclosed.

On the other hand, manufacturing, which constitutes more than two-thirds of All Industry, increased by 0.5 percentage points to record an inflation rate of 4.0 percent during the month under review, compared with the 3.5 percent for February 2017, while utilities rose 0.2 percentage points from 1.3 percent in February 2017 to 1.5 percent in March 2017.

“In manufacturing, higher inflation rate was mainly due to increase in petroleum prices recorded on February 20, 2017.  PPI for manufacture of basic metals also increased,” he said.

“Increase in inflation for mining and quarrying was due to slight increase in gold prices and the depreciation of local currency,” he added. 

  

China pledges to deepen cooperation with South Africa on women’s affairs

DURBAN, (Xinhua) -- China is willing to deepen pragmatic cooperation with South Africa on women’s affairs, said visiting Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong here on Wednesday.

Liu made the remarks at a ceremony where the All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF) donated sewing machines to the African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL), the women’s wing of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

Noting that both China and South Africa are major developing countries and emerging market economies, Liu said enhanced bilateral cooperation will not only foster women’s welfare in the two countries, but also is of great significance to greater global gender equality.

China will increase experience sharing with South Africa in women’s universal education, public health, poverty reduction and equal employment, she said.

China hopes that more women will join China-South Africa people-to-people exchanges and contribute to the cause of women’s empowerment in the world, she said.

At the donating ceremony, the South African side expressed that South African women cherish the friendship with Chinese sisters and hope to enhance cooperation with the Chinese side.

ANCWL President Bathabile Dlamini, South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and some other officials attended the donating ceremony.

SOUTH AFRICA-DURBAN-CHINESE VICE PREMIER-WOMEN’S AFFAIRS | COASTWEEK
DURBAN, (Xinhua) -- Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong (2nd R) attends the ceremony of the All-China Women’s Federation donating sewing machines to the Women’s League of the ruling African National Congress in Durban, South Africa, on April 26, 2017. China is willing to deepen pragmatic cooperation with South Africa on women’s affairs, said Liu Yandong on Wednesday. XINHUA PHOTO: TIAN HONGYI

Kenya’s Tergat set to take over national Olympic body, Kipchoge retires

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s iconic long distance runner Paul Tergat is expected to assume the leadership of the country’s Olympic body after the incumbent and only rival failed to present his nomination papers at the expiry of the Tuesday deadline.

With the elections set for May 5, Tergat has been declared the only candidate eyeing the chairman position for the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock), an affiliate of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Tergat will replace another legendary long distance athlete and former Olympic champion Kipchoge Keino.

“This was unexpected. I feel lost for the great fortune that has come my way. I am truly lost for words to express my feelings,” Tergat said on Wednesday in Nairobi.

“But it will be a great challenge to steer these great country of top athletes and sportsmen to greater heights. A challenge that I knew its magnitude when I presented my candidature for the position.”

However, Tergat was full of praise for the man he will replace, saying he has always acted above board, truthful and committed to helping the country’s youth to do well in international competitions.

“Kipchoge has always been a statesman, a legend but more importantly he is a leader. He has done his part and now the baton will change. I will anchor the team, but it is now up to the younger leadership to take Nock to the next level,” he said.

“I’d like to appreciate each federation and their heads; the people I will be working with indiscriminately. We are known worldwide as a sporting nation and it is my will to uphold and enhance this status,” he added.

Keino did not present his papers and was not present when the Centre for Multiparty Democracy, who will oversee the polls on May 5, made the announcement in Nairobi.

Also unopposed are athletes representatives Hellen Obiri and Kenya Sevens legend Humphrey Kayange, who will be taking the previous post, which were occupied by world marathon champion Catherine Ndereba and Tergat.

Tergat had secured the support of key federations including Athletics Kenya, Football Kenya Federation and Kenya Rugby Union.

Change in Nock will be appreciated by IOC, who have championed for new course in the wake up of poor organization at the last Olympics in Rio by Kenya and the increase in doping cases among local athletes.

IOC sent their observers in Nairobi twice but they failed to convince the outgoing office to reform and emend its constitution to have fair play during election.

This prompted the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to freeze funding to Kenya earlier this month. 

  

Teams arrive in Uganda for first Para-badminton event in Africa

KAMPALA, (Xinhua) -- Players from four nations have arrived in Uganda ahead of the first international Para-badminton Championship to be staged in Africa.

The event features six classifications; wheel chair 1, wheel chair 2, SL3, SL4, SU5 and SS6 on April 27-30 at the Sharing Young Center, Nsambya.

Bartlomiej Mrosz, the world number 2 from Poland in the SU5 (Standing Upper 5) category, said, “I am very happy to be in Uganda and I am looking forward to performing well in the Championship.”

France’s Stephen Durand and Richard Perot and 11 from India will compete against 36 players from the hosts Uganda in different categories.

“We have invested a lot and convinced the World badminton body that we have what it takes to host this event,” Simon Mugabi, the Uganda Badminton Association (UBA), Chief Executive Officer said.

Shaban Nkutu, the Association Chairman said, “We are very happy that the Badminton World Federation recognises our efforts in promoting para-badminton.”

Para-badminton was added to the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2014 by the International Paralympic Committee.

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