Coastweek website



CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- Egyptian students attend a ceremony on the first day of the new term at Maadi school in Cairo, Egypt, on Sept. 25, 2016. Most of the Egyptian schools opened on Sunday and 2.5 million students came back to school for the new term study.  XINHUA PHOTO: AHMED GOMAA

Kenya seeks total ban on ivory trade at CITES meeting  

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government said on Sunday that it will lobby for a total ban on ivory trade during the 17th meeting of conference of parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which kicked off in South Africa on Saturday.

State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu said international efforts are needed to deal with illegal trade in ivory products which he said drives supply and demand.

“The trade is simple. Demand for illegal products drives supply. Deal with the trade, requires aggressive law enforcement, effective elephant ivory and rhino horn movement control and influential market dis-incentivisation,” he told journalists in Nairobi.

“So, we will aggressively seek a total ban on ivory trade at this Johannesburg CITES meeting,” said Esipisu during his weekly briefings.

He said the East African nation will lobby the international community to back its proposals on putting an end to trade in trophies during the high level summit.

He said Nairobi remains committed to playing its rightful role in ensuring that international trade in endangered species does not threaten survival of wildlife species like elephants.

Kenya is a member of the African elephant coalition that has lobbied the international community to support a ban on ivory trade ahead of CITES meeting in Johannesburg.

The coalition will submit a set of proposals at the CITES meeting calling on governments and multilateral agencies to strengthen protection of elephants through outlawing trade in trophies.


Ghana issues guide for election candidates

ACCRA, (Xinhua) -- Ghana’s Electoral Commission (EC) on Friday launched a manual for aspiring candidates and their agents ahead of the December 7 general election.

The guide is to help potential candidates and their agents to understand the nomination and electoral process and outline the responsibilities that have to be undertaken when seeking to be elected to the office of president or House of Parliament.

It also highlights the duties and responsibilities of the agents, who will represent the candidates at the 29,000 polling stations in the 275 constituency collation centers.

The chairperson of the EC, Charlotte Osei, said the Guide is a source of basic information about the electoral process, but is by no means intended to be a substitute of the electoral laws.

She said achieving free, fair, credible and transparent elections was never and could not be the responsibility of the EC alone.

As a result, the Commission hopes that candidates and polling agents would play their respective roles dutifully and in good faith to ensure a peaceful electoral process.

The general election will be Ghana’s 7th since it returned to constitutional democracy in 1992.


Nigeria begins fumigation of northeast Bama town

LAGOS, (Xinhua) -- The Nigerian government on Saturday began clearing and fumigation of northeast Bama town in Borno State, recently liberated by the military to prepare ground for the return of the people.

The operation was to ensure the early return of the people back home, said Nasiru Surundi, Sole Administrator of the Borno Environmental Protection Agency (BOSEPA).

Bama is the second largest town in Borno after Maiduguri, the state capital.

“We are here with 1,000 personnel to clear the entire town of refuse and other rubbish ahead of the peoples’ return,” he told reporters.

He said the agency had earlier deployed 40 environment staff to commence the cleaning before the eventual launching.

Surundi said BOSEPA was also spraying another sets of chemicals that would prevent disease outbreaks after the return of the people.

Bama, one of the worst hit towns by the Boko Haram insurgency was liberated in 2015 by the military after been occupied for several months by the insurgents.

Nigerian troops have routed terrorists from different towns and communities in northeast Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in recent times.

With the massive military operations, the troops have also recovered several sophisticated weapons from the terrorists. 


No territory in northeast Nigeria under Boko Haram’s control: military

LAGOS, (Xinhua) -- No territory in the restive northeast region is being occupied by the Boko Haram sect, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai said Saturday.

Buratai, who told reporters in Abuja, the nation’s capital city that the military had routed the insurgents and was currently securing the region, said terrorism was complex and called for patience.

The military chief Buratai also called on journalists to show understanding in reporting the insurgency for the sake of national interest.

He recalled that there was mistrust in the past between the media and the army and assured of seamless flow of information as long as it does not affect national security.

Boko Haram has since 2009 waged a campaign of violence in Nigeria in an effort to establish an Islamic state. It has been blamed for some 20,000 deaths in Nigeria since 2009. 


At least 22 Boko Haram insurgents killed in NE Nigeria: army

LAGOS, (Xinhua) -- At least 22 Boko Haram insurgents were killed during an attack in northeast Nigeria’s state of Borno, the Nigerian Army said Sunday.

Four soldiers also died in the repelled terrorists attack, while two others sustained injuries, the army spokesman, Col. Sani Usman, said in a statement made available to Xinhua.

The attack came in three waves with the terrorists, using 36 hand grenades and rocket propelled launchers at Logomani, he said, adding that the troops recovered two AK-47 Rifles, one G3 Rifle and 36 hand grenades.

The location has been reinforced and replenished while the troops have continued their clearance operations, Usman said.

Nigeria’s northeast region has been a stronghold of the extremist group Boko Haram. In past months, the Nigerian government has launched several military operations to eliminate the terrorist threat. 


Somalia launches campaign to promote women representation in parliament

MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) -- Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has launched a national campaign for women in an effort to achieve a 30 percent quota of seats in both houses of the country’s next federal parliament.

Mohamud, who presided over the launch of the “All Women’s Campaign”, said the move will help women shape the destiny of the Horn of Africa nation.

“We want a free and fair electoral process that earns the confidence and acceptance of the public. We want the public to be confident that they are represented by leaders of their choice,” said Mohamud in a statement issued on Friday.

“Our country has unique challenges. We are not yet perfect, but we are on the right course to perfection,” Mohamud said, adding that the campaign is aimed at realizing the 30-percent quota that guarantees women’s seats are reserved in parliament.

Mohamud noted that 81 or more members in the next parliament will be women.

The campaign will mobilize women to register for elective positions and use lobbyists to sensitize clan elders on the critical role women play in decision-making.

In her remarks, Zahra Mohamed Ali Samatar, the Federal Minister of Women and Human Rights Development, urged women to mobilize more female candidates to run for parliamentary seats.

“In the coming years, women will be able to vie for the seat of Speaker of Parliament. The joy on our faces is a testimony to our satisfaction with the achievements made and a victory for the Somali women,” Samatar said.

Somalia is poised to begin the 2016 electoral process, which will choose members of a new federal parliament who will in turn vote for presidential candidates in late October.


AU deploys technical electoral support team in Somalia

MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) -- The Africa Union has deployed a short-term technical electoral support team ahead of the electoral process in Somalia to back up the AU mission.

A statement from the AU Commission received in Mogadishu on Saturday said the team will also reinforce AMISOM’s Political Unit and will be in Somalia until Nov. 5.

The two experts on the team, Hope Mary Nsangi from Uganda and Jespa Ajereboh Tichock from Cameroon, will be tasked with duties including collection of information on the implementation of the 2016 limited franchise electoral process agreed upon by Somali stakeholders.

“Their role will include contribution to the identification and documentation of lessons learnt from the electoral process toward the realization of the 2020 political road map,” the statement said.

The team will also be tasked with liaison and coordination with other international partners supporting Somalia’s electoral process (including the European Union, the Union Nations; the Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation).

The deployment follows a Pre-election Assessment Mission conducted by the African Union Commission in July to identify the best form of technical assistance to support elections in Somalia.

The deployment of the AU Expert Team follows a decision at the African Union Peace and Security Council meeting held in Addis Ababa on Sept. 6 which requested the AUC to expedite the deployment of technical experts and provide other relevant forms of support to AMISOM in order to assist and reinforce the mission’s capacity ahead of the elections.

AMISOM Political Affairs Officer Walters Samah said the AU mission is pleased to have received this direct support from the headquarters, noting that their deployment to Somalia is a further demonstration of AU’s long term commitment to the country. 


Somalia misses poll deadline amid confusion on way forward

MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) -- Somalia’s electoral team failed to meet the Sept. 24 deadline for the start of the elections of members of the Lower House, raising concerns the delay could affect the election of the president slated for Oct. 30.

By Saturday, the day polling stations were set to open in the regional capitals, the Federal Indirect Elections Implementing Team, FIEIT and its state level equivalent were still held up in a meeting to iron out contentious issues.

The polls body said in a statement on Sept. 21 that elders tasked with choosing the delegates who will elect members of the Lower House were yet to submit their lists to the electoral body even as it emerged clans were not willing to reserve seats to women in line with the poll procedures.

The polls body also said it was facing financial, political and security challenges which could delay the electoral process for the Horn of Africa nation.

The international community committed to meet 60 percent of the budget while Somalia would clear the rest through Federal Government purse and candidates fees.

Besides the technical aspects of the elections, security remains a key challenge. The militant group Al-Shabaab announced last week it would disrupt the polls, raising concerns this could scare some voters away.

Analysts have expressed fears that a delay in parliamentary elections will automatically influence that of the president which is scheduled for Oct. 30.

The Presidency announced in a decree Sept. 4 that President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud would have limited powers after Sept. 10 when his constitutionally mandated term ran out.

The decree stipulated the extended stay in office must come to a close in November 6. But the delay of Parliamentary elections is likely to affect the October 30 Presidential poll.

The election of members of the Upper House which ought to be completed by Sept. 25 also stands postponed.

The timetable which set out the process to choose a new federal Parliament between Sept. 24 and Oct. 10 and president by Oct. 30 was endorsed by Somalia’s National Leadership Forum.

The electoral body announced late last month that a list of 135 traditional elders was being finalized for selecting 14,025 members of Electoral Colleges, who will in turn elect the 275 members of the lower house of the next federal parliament.


Egypt’s Sisi meets with top officials over migrant boat tragedy

CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi met Saturday with the country’s top officials to discuss the recent capsized illegal migrant vessel that left at least 162 people dead, official MENA news agency reported.

After meeting with the security committee including the prime minister, the interior minister and the general intelligence chief, the Egyptian president ordered tougher security measures and deterrent punishments against smugglers to limit illegal migration and urged a new anti-illegal-migration law to be soon approved by the parliament.

On Wednesday, while the world leaders including Sisi gathered in New York to seek solutions for immigration problems, a migration boat carrying hundreds capsized off Egypt’s northern coast of Rosetta killing dozens of passengers, mostly Egyptians.

“The latest death toll until yesterday (Friday) was 162,” the Egyptian Health Ministry’s spokesman Khaled Megahed said Saturday, noting the morgues of nearby hospitals were all busy receiving the retrieved bodies.

The Egyptian authorities arrested Thursday four members of the capsized boat crew over human trafficking charges, while a senior official said an anti-illegal-migration bill had been presented by the government to the parliament for approval.

Illegal migration via Egyptian Mediterranean Sea shores rose over the past few years in attempts to reach Europe and flee difficult economic conditions in the financially-struggling Arab country, where unemployment rate hit 12.5 percent according to official reports.

During Saturday’s meeting, President Sisi ordered intensive marketing for the government’s recent initiative to finance small and tiny enterprises for the youth, for which 200 billion Egyptian pounds (about 22.5 billion U.S. dollars) are allocated.

Experts believe that Egypt has become a more common exporter of illegal migration through its Mediterranean Sea shores to Europe after Libya and Turkey lost their importance for smugglers in favor of the most populous Arab country due to security and other reasons.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a report in June that more than 10,000 people have died in attempts to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe since 2014. 

CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi © meets with officials in Cairo Sept. 24, 2016. Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday discussed with the officials the issue concerning the capsizing of an illegal migrant vessel, which left at least 162 people dead, the official MENA news agency reported. XINHUA PHOTO: MENA

 Death toll of Egypt’s capsized migrant boast rises to 112: Health Ministry

CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- The death toll of the capsized migrant boat near Egypt’s northern coast rose to 112, Egypt’s Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed told Xinhua on Friday.

“The number of the death toll might rise because the rescue efforts are still going on,” Megahed said.

The migrant boat that drowned on Wednesday near the coast of Egypt’s northern Beheira province carried about 600 people onboard whose destination was supposed to be Italian shores.

Egyptian authorities have arrested four members of the capsized boat crew over human trafficking charges.

Smugglers often overload the boats with passengers who have paid for the journey.

The EU’s border agency Frontex warned that a growing number of migrants bound for Europe is turning to Egypt as a departure point for the sea voyage.

Illegal migration via Egyptian Mediterranean Sea shores rose over the past few years in attempts to flee difficult economic conditions in the most populous Arab country. 


Egypt court sentences 7 to death for killing police chief

CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced seven Islamists to death over charges of killing a police general in a firefight on the outskirts of Cairo in 2013, official MENA news agency reported.

Another five defendants were sentenced to five years in prison in the same case, the report said.

The defendants were accused of storming a police station, killing the chief, Nabil Farag, and wounding nine other policemen in Kerdasa on Aug. 14, 2013.

The police station was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and then torched.

In Aug. 2014, a lower court confirmed the death sentences on the 12 defendants on charges of killing Farag.

The Court of Cassation ordered a retrial of seven of the defendants last year.

The defendants were further accused of funding and administering terrorist attacks, assaulting the private life of citizens, harming the national unity and social peace, targeting public institutions and disturbing public order. 


Feature: Civil society helps finding Egypt’s lost children

By Marwa Yahya, Wang Xue GHARBIYA, EGYPT, (Xinhua) -- “After eight years roaming in the streets, hospitals and morgues across Egypt, I could finally embrace my boy,” said Gaballah al-Azouni, a father who lost his child when he was five years old.

“I couldn’t believe my ears when the administrator of ‘Lost Children’ page on the Facebook told me that he has found my boy in an orphanage in the outskirts of Cairo,” al-Azouni, a 57-year-old tennis coach told Xinhua.

“Losing a child even for one day could destroy a whole family,” al-Azouni said sadly, unveiling that the mother has passed away due to suffering a severe depression one year after the boy was missed.

According to the Egyptian laws, a death certificate could be issued if four years passed on the disappearance of any person, but the father rejected to do that.

“I know deeply in my heart that my son is alive somewhere and God will join us together one day,” said the father.

The boy, Marwan, 14 years old, is still feeling isolated and he is encouraged by his family to integrate into the society.

“I was memorizing the faces of my parents, and I recognized my dad when I saw him in the orphanage for the first time,” said Marwan in a shy low voice.

“I’m so happy to have a family and my private room now after I used to sleep in a dormitory with 20 boys,” he said.

Since 2011, child abduction has been on the rise in Egypt as the political transition, weak economy, lax border control and corruption problems have worsened the situation.

“Civil society activities were a must to help the government,” said Ramy el-Gebally, an engineer in his forties who has launched a page on the Facebook named “Lost Children” to combat the phenomena and raise the awareness of families on how to protect the children.

“The ghost of children abduction is echoing everywhere, and in all the cases negligence of the parents isn’t the main reason, because the kidnappers have new methods of taking the children,” Gebally told Xinhua.

The page, which has six administrators, was launched at the beginning of 2015. So far, it has attracted 780,000 followers.

“The idea started by collecting the photos of kidnapped or lost children and uploads them with information about their hometown and the families’ phone numbers on the page, and wait for reactions from the people, maybe someone could recognize or find one of the children,” he explained.

Gebally added that his page has managed to return 140 cases ranged between two to seventy years so far, and among the them, 7 were kidnapped, 13 were found in orphanages, and the others were either lost or controlled by gangs.

“Marwan is a lucky boy, because his father kept looking for him,” he told Xinhua, adding that “most of the lost children’s families are so poor and from remote provinces, and they don’t know how to search for their children. Some families are even scared to report to the police stations.”

According to rights groups, children aged between one to five years old are most vulnerable to abduction. Most of the abduction cases in Egypt have been reported in rural areas.

The Egyptian foundation of Advancement of Childhood (EFAC) documented 63 cases of child abduction during the first five months of 2016, with 70 percent from rural areas.

The report added that 80 percent of the cases were financially motivated, with the abductors asking for ransom.

Besides his “Lost Children” page, there are other more websites or public pages on social platforms which focus on the lost children in Egypt nowadays, representing the increased awareness from the public on this problem.

Also, the alarming cases of child abductions have made some Egyptian parents worried about going out with their children.

“I never take my eyes away from my children whenever we go out fearing they might be kidnapped,” Amany Okeal, mother in her thirties told Xinhua.

“Every day I check the pages of lost or missed children to follow the cases, praying for God that those children will return home,” Okeal said.

“The principal of the ‘Lost Children’ page is that the civil society could solve the problem,” Gebally said.

“The page created a state of interaction and feeling of responsibility among the people who feel the danger of the problem and intervene by all means,” he said.


UNAMID asks Sudan gov’t to facilitate aid to Jebel Marra

KHARTOUM, (Xinhua) -- The United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) on Sunday asked Sudanese government to facilitate access of international organizations to areas of Jebel Marra to aid affected people, Sudan Tribune reported.

The UNAMID Chief Martin Uhomoibhi urged for easier access of all UN agencies to Jebel Marra to deliver humanitarian help, the report said.

Uhomoibhi has met with senior UNAMID officials and local authorities in Central Darfur State and reviewed the humanitarian conditions at Jebel Marra.

Jebel Marra had witnessed heavy fighting between the Sudanese army and the rebels of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM)/Abdul-Wahid Mohamed Nur faction since mid-January 2015.

The area was one of the strongholds of the SLM/Abdul-Wahid Mohamed Nur faction, located in Central Darfur state and covering an area of 12.8 square km.  Enditem


UN urges timely, full implementation of peace accord in Mali

UNITED NATIONS, (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for the timely and full implementation of a peace agreement in Mali in order to bring peace and stability to the West African country, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters here Sunday.

The secretary-general made the appeal in his meeting here with Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita at UN Headquarters in New York late Saturday, Dujarric said. The meeting took place on the sidelines of the annual high-level debate of the UN General Assembly.

“The secretary-general welcomed the steps undertaken by the Malian government to implement the peace agreement,” the spokesman said. “He underscored the importance of all parties fully implementing the peace agreement and of an inclusive approach to ensure lasting peace in Mali. He called for clear timeliness and benchmarks for the implementation of the agreement.”

During the meeting, the secretary-general discussed the situation in the northern region of Kidal and the humanitarian situation in Northern Mali, the spokesman said, adding that Ban also noted the important role that countries of the region can play to collectively address the security challenges in northern Mali.

“The secretary-general assured President Keita of the United Nations’ steadfast support to the Malian people in their search for peace, notably through the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA),” the statement said.

The peace accord, known as the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, was signed in June 2015 by the Coordination des Mouvements de l’Azawad armed group, following its signature in May 2015 by the Malian government and a third party, the Plateforme coalition of armed groups.

On Friday, the secretary-general called for an early return to peace and security in Mali, saying that the promotion of peace and stability in the West African country is crucial to its people, the region and the world.

Speaking at a ministerial meeting here on the implementation of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, Ban also called on the relevant parties involved in the reconstruction of Mali to implement the foundations that have been laid out regarding the way forward.

The Malian government has been seeking to restore stability and rebuild following a series of setbacks since early 2012, including a military coup d’etat, renewed fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels, and the seizure of its northern territory by radical extremists.

The West African country has also been wrecked by a series of humanitarian crises. 


ANC denies allegations over attempt to seek new rules to protect Zuma

CAPE TOWN, (Xinhua) -- The ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Sunday denied a newspaper report that the ANC wants new rules to protect President Jacob Zuma.

The Sunday Times quoted ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu as saying in an interview that the ANC “wants to change parliament’s rules to create new measures to defend Zuma against abusive MPs before his next visit to the National Assembly”.

“The Office of the ANC Chief Whip in Parliament” is disappointed with the downright dishonest fabrications and shoddy journalism”, spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.

“This is blatantly untrue,” Mothapo said, adding that at no point during the interview, such a remark was made.

The Sunday Times reporter, Babalwa Ndenze, cannot produce any record proving that the Chief Whip indeed said those words, said Mothapo.

“Ndenze’s story is wholly based on sensationalized inventions, which he will have an impossible task to prove when the matter is reported to the press ombudsman this week,” the spokesperson said.

In response to Ndenze’s question seeking the ANC Caucus’ view on the disruptions that broke out during president’s appearance in Parliament to reply to questions, the Chief Whip emphasized the need for all parties to commit to the supremacy of the House rules and the importance of enforcing the existing rules to deal with disruptive elements.

Zuma has been disrupted several times by opposition MPs during Q&A sessions in Parliament. Recently, the National Assembly adopted new overhauled set of rules, which, amongst others, deal with disruptive conduct and provide comprehensive guide regarding appropriate steps to be taken against unruly MPs.

“It is therefore inconceivable that the Chief Whip would have called for a new rule to deal with what is already thoroughly provided for in the existing newly adopted rules,”  Mothapo said.

The Office of the ANC Chief Whip will this week lodge a formal complaint with the press ombudsman to ensure that the Sunday Times publish a retraction and an apology regarding the unfair and damaging fabrications contained in Ndenze’s story, said Mothapo.


Interview: UNAIDS Ghana head lauds Xinhua’s AIDS reporting

ACCRA, (Xinhua) -- The Ghana Country Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Girmay Haile, has lauded the Xinhua News Agency for its role in supporting the work of the UN agency.

Xinhua’s consistent involvement in UNAIDS’ fight against HIV, both here in Ghana and at the world stage, showed the news agency’s commitment to raising public awareness on the importance of responding to the epidemic, said Haile to Xinhua on Thursday.

In March, UNAIDS and Xinhua signed a new Memorandum of Understanding to find innovative solutions to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030.

In July, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe presented the UNAIDS Leaders and Innovators Award to Xinhua President Cai Mingzhao in recognition of his leadership as a media partner and for his contribution to the AIDS response.

Haile said the UNAIDS’ recognition of Xinhua at the international level did not come to him as a surprise.

“In fact, when we were consulted at the country level to what extent Xinhua is involved, I can say to you that probably the one news agency that consistently reports on HIV development in Ghana, that consistently reports on the key achievements that we have in Ghana without fail is Xinhua,” he told Xinhua in an interview.

“Even though we have good relations with the wider media, even though there is an attempt by media houses to provide information on HIV, none of them can match the level of reporting and the level of involvement that Xinhua has been having in Ghana,” he said.

Xinhua has been promoting public awareness of HIV/AIDS in China and abroad.

During the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS in June, 2016, Xinhua showcased UNAIDS “Fast-Track to an AIDS-Free Generation” message on a giant electronic screen at Times Square, New York. 


Kenya seeks to expand key highway to boost trade, ease traffic

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government said on Sunday that it plans to expand the Nairobi-Mombasa highway from the current single lane to six lane modern highway and bids are likely to be invited soon, an official said on Sunday.

State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu told a news conference in Nairobi that already a U.S. investor has expressed its interest in the Nairobi-Mombasa Expressway which is expected to ease traffic jams in Nairobi.

“I can confirm U.S. investor interest in this Nairobi-Mombasa Expressway. Among the partners involved are Bechtel Corp., the United States’ largest construction and civil engineering firm, which will be supported in this endeavor by the United States’ Import-Export Bank and OPIC,” he said.

The U.S. Export-Import Bank is simultaneously working with Bechtel to secure investment for the 485-kilometre expressway which is intended to speed up commerce and travel between Kenya’s main port of Mombasa and cities throughout East Africa.

OPIC’s role in the emerging deal would be to insure Bechtel against breach of contract.

“We are hopeful that these discussions will bear fruit, and that Kenya will soon enjoy the new infrastructure on the Nairobi-Mombasa route,” Esipisu said.

“More importantly, though, this is a show of continued massive international investor confidence in our economy and our country,” he added.

According to Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia the government plans to build the road through a Public Private Partnership.

The 485km Mombasa-Nairobi highway is crucial for trade in the region since it connects the port to Nairobi and onward to the hinterland markets, including landlocked Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

More than 90 percent of goods landing at Mombasa port—one of the largest and busiest ports in Africa—are transported over the road and over a parallel railway line, underlining the importance of the road.

Nearly all of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan’s imported goods reach their destinations via this road, making it an important regional economic asset.


Feature: Lives at stake as drought hits Kenya’s northeast county

GARISSA, Kenya, (Xinhua) -- Humanitarian crises is looming in northeast Kenya’s county of Garissa, which borders Somalia as thousands of pastoralists’ families are hit by escalating drought that has led to drying up of water sources and depletion of pasture.

Affected families have appealed to the government as well as the international community to speedily intervene as escalating drought threatens their lives and that of their livestock.

Most water points have dried up forcing residents to heavily depend on inadequate remaining wells, which have changed color and developed foul smell due to contamination from the high number of animals and people converging at them for survival.

Large population of those stricken by the raging dry spell have to trek, in some cases more than 30 km to find water for drinking and for domestic use.

Ijara Sub-sub County, one of the areas hardest hit by the drought schools and health facilities are on the verge of shut down with respective administrators fearing keeping the children and patients could pose more danger to their health.

According to residents interviewed, chances of water born diseases like cholera spreading were high because of lack of clean water.

A spot check in some of the areas showed that children in the drought affected areas have already started showing signs of contraction of water borne diseases such as diarrhea.

When Xinhua visited the only water dam in Korisa location in Ijara sub-county in Garissa, there was beehive of activities; local residents were seen busy drawing the visibly contaminated water with pungent smell and at some points compete with thirsty livestock and wild animals.

“Thirsty wild animals are “fighting” with people over the access of the only water source in this area. Residents were forced to take turns day and night to keep way buffaloes from the dam, but now we have given up because it’s extremely risky to ward off the thirsty wild animals as they come in big numbers and take a forcibly turn in drinking the water,” a resident Haret Nasteh said.

He said most livestock moved deep into Boni forest saddled between Ijara and Lamu as the drought situation worsen on daily basis in pursuit of greener pasture.

“As you can see this is our only water source. We, therefore urgently appeal to the government and international community to come to our aid urgently because if the situation is fast going out of hand,” he added.

According to Garissa County’s National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), the dry spell is at an alarming stage in the county noting that Ijara sub-county is the hardest hit due to water points have dried up.

The authority said unlike previous dry spell, which only affected families on hinterland, the current drought also destabilized people living around the river line areas. Cases of human-wildlife conflict has surged up into alarming proportion, as thirsty wild animals invade human settlement in bid to get water to consume.

Ijara sub-county administrator Mohamed Ahmed Dahir said the county government is overstretched with overwhelming number of families requiring water and food provision as it’s impossible to provide all drought victims living different parts of the expansive county.

“We would like to appeal to donors to intervene as the situation is getting out of hands,” he added.

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Staff workers prepare a vintage car before contest of the 2016 Africa Concours d’Elegence in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 25, 2016. The 46th Africa Concours d’Elegence was held in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi on Sunday. XINHUA PHOTO: ZHOU XIAOXIONG

Jordan king in Kenya to discuss trade, security issues

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- King Abdullah II of Jordan arrived in Nairobi on Monday for a state visit aimed at boosting trade and strengthening security cooperation.

“Jordan and Kenya are partners of long standing, and during his time here, President Kenyatta and His Majesty will focus their attention on discussions regarding security and counter-terrorism. They will also witness joint military exercises,” said State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu.

Esipisu said that Kenyatta invited the Jordan leader in January when they discussed international efforts to confront terrorism and extremism.

“This visit will renew and strengthen that relationship,” added the Esipisu. 


Chinese technology fuels Kenyan’s entrepreneur dream

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenneth Giitu left formal employment in 1998 with dreams of becoming one of Kenya’s preeminent entrepreneurs.

He had worked for a prestigious chemical manufacturing firm for almost a decade before he decided to become self-employed.

He was convinced that the technical skills he had acquired from the blue chip firm would propel him to become a successful businessman.

Giitu started a small cottage industry of manufacturing chemicals required for the health-care industry.

He entered into the business of supplying Calamine lotion, surgical spirits, antiseptics, sanitizers and peroxide to the local market.

The businessman depended on raw materials sourced locally in order to make his products. However, he was unable to compete with established manufacturers who benefited from economies of scales.

“Because I bought products in small quantities I couldn’t get bulk discount and hence my business remained unprofitable,” Giitu told Xinhua in Nairobi in an interview on the sidelines of a briefing of the Kenyan business delegation which is to depart for China to attend the China Import and Export Fair, or 120th Canton Fair to be held in south China’s Guangzhou from Oct. 15.

He recalled he struggled to raise money to finance his first business trip to China over ten years ago but his efforts have paid off handsomely.

“Since I discovered Chinese technology, my business has expanded over 20 times in volume,” he said.

His business now employs over 60 staff up from two before he began sourcing raw material from the Asian nation. “I am now able to access world class technology at half the cost of sourcing from Europe,” he added.

Giitu, who is the CEO of Diarim Enterprises, travels to China at least four times a year to source for raw materials straight from Chinese manufacturers.

He told Xinhua on Saturday that Chinese technology in the health-care is now comparable to that of U.S. or Europe. “In addition, the Chinese firms tend to be more responsive to customer needs,” he added.

The entrepreneur’s latest venture is a water producing facility. In 2012, he purchased water bottling equipment from China that uses reverse osmosis to produce mineral water.

“Many people advised me against buying machinery from China because of the mistaken belief that Chinese goods are of low quality,” he revealed.

“However, ever since I installed the machine it has never failed even once,” he added.

His water products have achieved the Kenya Bureau of Standards Diamond Mark of Quality and currently enjoys a huge market share in Kenya’s crowded mineral water industry.

Giitu said he plans to use his latest trip to the Canton Fair to source for the latest Chinese technology in order to expand his business even further.


Feature: Egypt’s rice export ban worries farmers

By Marwa Yahya GHARBIYA, Egypt, (Xinhua) -- “I expect the rice price will get lower this season, and it will be better for me to buy rice than to plant it,” said Mahmoud Abdel Fattah, a 55-year-old farmer.

The rice harvest season came in September in the Nile Delta area of Egypt. Farmers will be busy on harvesting, packaging and selling through the whole month, with the hopes to earn more to feed their families.

According to the official data from the Egyptian government, the rice price has surged by about 50 percent this year. In supermarkets of Cairo, the price of one kilo rice has increased from 3.5 Egyptian pounds (0.4 U.S. dollar) last year to unprecedented 11 pounds three months ago.

The hiking price encouraged more farmers to plant rice this year. However, this season is not a source of joy anymore since a ban of rice exports, issued by the government last month, aiming to control the price and preserve stocks for the local market.

“For this season, I have spent 2,000 Egyptian pounds on 12 acres since this May, but now I can’t expect a reasonable income,” Fattah said while spreading the rice on ground to get drier, helped by his daughter and his two grandchildren.

He said that after calculating the expenses of seeding, cultivating, farming, using machines, hiring workforce and harvesting, as well as the revenues, he has regretted planting rice this year.

With the sound of reapers from behind, Fattah’s family were collecting the crops by hand in piles. “I can’t even afford 160 pounds per day to hire more hands,” he added.

Since the year of 2011 when the former president Hosni Mubarak was overthrew, Egypt has been trapped in economic stagnation and security problems.

In 2016, food problem has become more serious because of the hiking prices. The failure to stockpile rice earlier this year has left it at the mercy of traders, who are usually not interested in domestic market, or prone to stockpile for a higher price. 

“I don’t care about exportation, I just want the rice to be available like last year with cheaper prices,” said Amal Moustafa, a housewife in her thirties, while buying some vegetables from the market.

“The rice is a base for everyday dishes, and with high prices, I reduce the amounts of vegetables and meat to buy more rice,” she said, noting the ban of rice exports is really important for poor people living in cities.

However, farmers stand on the other side, regarding to the ban and lower price of rice.

“Actually, we produce more than enough rice for the domestic needs, especially this year. I was told that the price of a kilo of rice might be lower than 3 pounds after the harvest season,” a farmer named Abdel Shafy Qasem told Xinhua.

He added that earlier this year, many farmers have planted rice and nobody expected that the government will totally ban the rice exports.

“It was a bad decision to plant the rice this season. I have some other fields planted with garlic, carrot and corn, now they are my hope for the whole year,” Qasem said.

He said that for most farmers, this water-consuming grain has brought them more economic burden on irrigation, because they have to spent much to find water.

“My land is located in a higher level, and I have to dig nearly 150 meters for ground water, which cost me and my neighbors 15,000 pounds,” Qasem explained in details.

According to Ragab Shihata, head of the Rice Department in the Industries Union of Egypt, halting the rice exportation will lower the price in a short time, but in a long run, the ban will increase the stock percentage, and make the rice vulnerable for spoilage.

“The key problem is that nobody expected this policy earlier this year, so it will really harm the farmers’ income,” he said.

At the same time, the expert called for a more balanced policy on rice.

“For example, the government can open exportation for one million tons of rice to make balance between controlling the high prices in the local market and avoiding losses of farmers and businessmen,” Shihata said.


African nations urged to embrace apiculture to help reduce poverty

KIGALI, (Xinhua) -- Agricultural experts have cited beekeeping and honey production as key towards eradicating poverty among rural farmers across African continent.

The experts made the observation on Sunday during the closure of the 5th All-Africa International Honey Exposition and the 3rd Continental General Assembly (GA) of the African Apiculture Platform (APP) in Kigali.

“Most of the rural communities in Africa are not aware of the immense benefits accruing from beekeeping and honey production. They depend solely on agriculture for survival without engaging in other income generating activities like honey production,” said Bosco Okello, chief executive, ApiTrade Africa.

He added that apiculture is often overlooked and left untapped in most African economies as it is seen as a small investment venture.

Apiculture is the practice of keeping bees as well as the manufacturing of honey and beeswax. ApiTrade Africa is an NGO that specializes in developing trade in bee products from Africa.

Jean Claude Kayisinga, Rwanda’s permanent secretary for agriculture and animal resources, said that honey continues to be a popular commodity across the globe, and poor rural farmers throughout Africa have not got a chance to take up the practice of beekeeping to earn money and fight poverty in their households.

“We always talk about big investments to eradicate poverty in Africa, but small investments like beekeeping and honey production have not been made a priority to enable poor rural people to overcome poverty. This is the reason why apiculture in Africa is poorly practiced and not developed at all,” he said.

Kayisinga noted that African governments’ efforts to reduce poverty, especially in the rural areas, could be given a boost if apiculture or beekeeping were taken as a serious venture.

At the conference, agriculturists argued that beekeeping and honey production could provide self-employment and reliable higher incomes if adequately supported to develop.

Beekeeping is cost effective and not strenuous, requiring the use of relatively simple equipment, they added.

Rwanda is hosting the 7-day continental forum from Sept. 21. The forum brought together some 5,000 bee keepers, honey dealers, agriculturists, officials and development partners from across Africa and beyond to promote apiculture and share knowledge on trade and business.


Feature: Climate change restrains Tanzanian
coffee growers to meet production target

ARUSHA, Tanzania,  (Xinhua) -- Songoro Tozo is one of the coffee growers in southwestern Tanzania’s district of Mbozi who are currently overwhelmed with a number of challenges which have made them unable to reach production target for the last 15 years.

In the hilly and sloppy area of Mbozi, farmers have been failing to raise production from 250 grams of coffee beans per plant to 1,000 grams, the target set by the Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TaCRI).

A 52-year-old farmer, Tozo said erratic and often adverse changes to weather patterns make coffee growing in the area more a lottery than an art.

“I have been in this venture for more than three decades, and in those good days, we had enough rains, but now rains start late, delaying crop planting and resulting in late coffee flowering and berry ripening,” said Tozo, of Nambizo village.

“That means delays for farmers in earning income from their coffee,” he said, adding that in some years it rains within a shorter period, a situation that affects the growth of the crop.

A father of four, Tozo cites lack of extension officers and the high cost of farm inputs as the “deadly” challenges facing coffee cultivators in the area and perhaps across Tanzania.

“As farmers, we’re left growing coffee on our own as there are no extension officers,” said Jonas Silungwe, a coffee grower in the area, who owns five acres of farm land.

Silungwe said farmers were expecting that the government would come up with dams that would help farmers to venture into irrigation as mitigation measures to climate change.

“In the past, we had strong cooperative societies, which used to pay farmers at the right time and empower us with new farming skills as well as ensuring that farm inputs are available, but now it’s not the case,” Silungwe lamented.

According to Silungwe some farmers uprooted the crop and planted other crops, as they could not maintain them.

Sikujuwa Msukwa of Nkanga village said “coffee farming is under a new threat, as of now the market is flooded with fake pesticides and insecticides. This makes our sweat disappear in a thin air as we’re spending a lot of money in production with a very minimal return.”

Isack Mushi, manager of Mbimba center of TaCRI said that the institute has reached 15 years and it has been facing a number of challenges including failing to help farmers raise coffee bean output to 1,000 grams per plant.

“We’ve also failed to improve grading of coffee beans from between 13 and 9 to between 9 and 5,” he said, citing limited investment in the crop by local authorities through supporting farmers with extension officers as well as making farmers get farm inputs like fertilizers at low price.

Edna Mwaigomole, Mbozi District Council executive director is aware of the challenge facing the coffee farming in the district. “In this financial year, we’re going to employ 47 extension officers as part of our efforts to revamp the cash crop,” she said.

However, Deusdedit Kibasa, senior researcher from Ardhi University suggested the need for coffee growers to start venturing into organic farming.

Kibasa said many farmers have been using unfriendly farming methods including the use of toxic chemicals, which reduces the quality of coffee beans, making it unable to compete in the international markets.

Apart from destroying the quality of coffee beans, the expert said it also destroys the soil which reduced its fertility making farmers get less and less production on a yearly basis.

Coffee is one of Tanzania’s major export crops; on average the country produces around 50,000 metric tons each year of which approximately 70 percent is Arabica and 30 percent Robusta. Sales generate over 100 million U.S. dollars per year, according to data from Tanzania’s Coffee Board.

The three main Arabica growing regions are in the North/Kilimanjaro, Mbeya and the Matengo Highlands (Mbinga). Tanzania ranks the 19th largest producer of coffee in the world.


African nations unveil action plan to save rhinos

JOHANNESBURG, (Xinhua) -- African countries on Sunday unveiled an action plan, which seeks to give directions on how to preserve the rhinos on the continent.

The African Range State’s African Rhino Conservation Plan was unveiled by South African Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, in Johannesburg on the sidelines of the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which opened on Saturday.

Molewa said the plan clearly demonstrates the commitment of the African range states to work as a collective to secure viable, growing and valued rhino populations across the African landscape.

African rhino range states participated in three workshops over the last two years to develop this continental plan, according to the minister.

“The plan does not seek to duplicate existing more detailed national rhino plans, but rather seeks to complement them by providing an overarching higher-level umbrella plan under which all the national plans can fit,” she said.

The plan also seeks to identify and focus on areas where collectively and cooperatively there may be opportunities for range states to work together to enhance rhino conservation such as enhancing effective conservation funding, increasing cooperative sharing and analysis of intelligence information, and boosting political will and support for rhino conservation across the continent.

“While there had been conservation successes that we celebrate, the range states recognize that there is a need to cooperate to further enhance the conservation of rhino on the continent and to effectively address illegal trade in wildlife,” Molewa said.

She said African countries have decided to unite in combating illegal trade in wildlife and save the rhinos.

The minister invited donors to support the continental initiative, and encouraged the African countries to implement it. 

JOHANNESBURG, (Xinhua) -- People demonstrate for stop wildlife trading before the opening of the 17th meeting of Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Sept. 24, 2016. South African President Jacob Zuma on Saturday opened the 17th COP to the CITES in Johannesburg, which will discuss key issues pertaining to the regulation of international trade in wildlife. XINHUA PHOTO: ZHAI JIANLAN

Roundup: Poaching behind worst African elephant losses in 25 years: report

JOHANNESBURG, (Xinhua) -- Africa’s overall elephant population has seen the worst declines in 25 years, mainly due to poaching over the past 10 years,  according to a report released here on Sunday.

The African Elephant Status Report was launched by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) at the ongoing 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Spices of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Based on population estimates from a wide range of sources, including aerial surveys and elephant dung counts, the estimates for 2015 were 93,000 lower than in 2006. However, including 18,000 from previously uncounted populations, the real decline from estimates is considered to be closer to 111,000.

The continental total is now thought to be about 415,000 elephants, although there may be an additional 117,000 to 135,000 elephants in areas not systematically surveyed.

The surge in poaching for ivory that began approximately a decade ago, the worst that Africa has experienced since the 1970s and 1980s, has been the main driver of the decline, while habitat loss poses an increasingly serious, long-term threat to the species, according to the report.

“These new numbers reveal the truly alarming plight of the majestic elephant, one of the world’s most intelligent animals and the largest terrestrial mammal alive today,” said IUCN Director General Inger Andersen. “It is shocking but not surprising that poaching has taken such a dramatic toll on this iconic species.”

This report provides further scientific evidence of the need to scale up efforts to combat poaching, he said.

“Nevertheless, these efforts must not detract from addressing other major and increasingly devastating threats such as habitat loss,” Andersen said.

With over 70 percent of the estimated African elephants, Southern Africa has by far the largest number of the species, approximately 293,000 elephants in systematically surveyed areas.

Eastern Africa holds about 86,000 (20 percent) estimated elephants, while Central Africa has about 24,000 estimated elephants (six percent). West Africa continues to hold the smallest regional population with approximately 11,000 (under three percent).

Eastern Africa, the region most affected by poaching, has experienced an almost 50 percent elephant population reduction, largely attributed to an over 60 percent decline in Tanzania’s elephant population. Although some sites have recorded declines, elephant numbers have been stable or increasing since 2006 in Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda, and range expansion has been reported in Kenya.

Central Africa’s forest elephant population has been substantially affected by poaching for ivory since the 1990s. The Democratic Republic of Congo used to hold one of the most significant forest elephant populations in Africa, which has now been reduced to tiny remnants of its former size.

The savanna populations of Chad have taken heavy losses and those in the Central African Republic have almost completely disappeared.

The report is an authoritative source of knowledge about the numbers and distribution of African elephant populations across their 37 range states in sub-Saharan Africa.

It presents more than 275 new or updated estimates for individual elephant populations across Africa, with over 180 of these arising from systematic surveys.

The report summarizes for the first time in almost a decade elephant numbers at the continental, regional and national levels, and examines changes in population estimates at the site level. 


Ethiopia’s Bekele wins Berlin Marathon

BERLIN, (Xinhua) -- Kenenisa Bekele won the 43rd edition of the Berlin Marathon after crossing the finish line in two hours, three minutes and four seconds on Sunday.

Bekele has run the second fastest marathon time in Berlin but missed Dennis Kimetto’s world record time by just six seconds.

Former Berlin winner Wilson Kipsang crossed the line 10 seconds after Bekele, while Evans Chebet finished third in two hours, five minutes and 31 seconds.

The marathon started with a strong pace in the first five kilometres. The leading group was more than one minute inside the World Cup time before Kipsang took the lead to establish a four-second advantage over Bekele.

The Ethiopian turned up late whereas Kipsang’s pace seemed to decrease at the 38-kilometer mark, allowing Bekele to close the gap and to pull away at the final drink station.

“I wanted to run a personal best,” Bekele said. “The time was fast but I am a little disappointed that I missed the world record.”

Ethiopia’s women dominated their competition as Aberu Kebede wrapped the win in two hours, 20 minutes and 45 seconds, followed by Birhane Dibaba (2:23:58) and Ruti Aga (2:24:41). 

Remember: you read it first at !


Please contact

MOMBASA - GULSHAN JIVRAJ, Mobile: 0722 775164,
Tel: 0731 099309 / (+254) (41) 2230130 / Wireless: 020 3549187

NAIROBI - ANJUM H. ASODIA, Mobile: 0733 775446 / 0773 468786

    © Coastweek Newspapers Limited               Tel: (+254) (41) 2230130  |  Wireless: 020 3549187  |  E-mail: