JUBA, (Xinhua) --
South Sudanese on Wednesday celebrated the signing of
a power-sharing deal aimed at ending a brutal five-year civil war
amid calls for lasting peace in the world’s youngest nation.
Regional dignitaries and South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar who
signed a revitalized peace deal in September with President Salva
Kiir in Ethiopia, joined thousands of South Sudanese in the capital
Juba to celebrate the peace deal amid tight security.
Speaking during the celebrations, President Kiir said the
five-year-old civil war in his country has come to an end with the
President Kiir also declared he has forgiven his opponents and is
ready to move forward as part of efforts to end conflict in the
“I want to reiterate that the war in South Sudan has come to an end
and we have forgiven each other and we have decided to move
forward,” Kiir told thousands of people who gathered in Juba to
celebrate the peace deal.
The president said he has taken personal responsibility for the
suffering of South Sudanese as a result of the conflict.
“You have endured immense suffering and the weight of responsibility
heavily falls on my shoulders as your president and I deeply regret
the physical, psychological, and emotional wounds you have
undeservedly endured. As your president, I want to apologize on
behalf of all the parties to the conflict,” said Kiir.
During the celebrations, Kiir ordered the release of James Gatdet
Dak, a former spokesman of Machar, saying although Gatdet has been
sentenced to death, his release is for the sake of peace.
Kiir also said he would release William John Endley, a South African
national who was Machar’s adviser on Thursday after which he will be
deported to his home country.
The South African, who is a retired army colonel, was also sentenced
to death early this year on charges of espionage, conspiracy to
overthrow the government and supplying weapons.
“The war is over and this celebration is testimony that we are
committed to the agreement and we must commit ourselves to it,” Kiir
Machar, who returned to Juba for the first time in two years since
fleeing the country in 2016, took part in the peace celebration,
saying that he came to Juba to show his commitment to the latest
peace deal and end the conflict in South Sudan.
“I came only to confirm to people that I am for peace. The past is
gone. We have opened a new chapter for peace and unity,” said Machar
who had been exiled to South Africa over the years.
Yoweri Museveni, Ugandan President, told South Sudan leaders to
embrace non-violent means of solving political conflicts and
differences through transparent elections and dialogue.
“It is therefore ideologically incorrect to use war to solve
political arguments, elections are the discussions or the right way
or referendum but then the elections must be fair. If the elections
are not fair they are the one which create conditions for people
thinking other ways of solving problems,” said Museveni.
He congratulated Kiir and Machar for allowing logic to prevail after
they signed in September a final revitalized peace agreement in the
Ethiopian capital to end more than four years of conflict.
The Ugandan leader urged both leaders to avoid sectarianism, tribal
politics and instead create systems and institutions with national
character in the army and civil service.
Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Somali president, called on South Sudan
leaders to make concessions to put the country and its people first.
“Let’s all remember that no deal is always perfect, no arrangement
is without flaws, no negotiation is perfectly balanced. The real
test of a leader is to have the ability to make concessions and put
this country and its people first,” said Mohamed.
Mohamed said attainment of peace in South Sudan is significant for
stability of the east African region, adding his country will
support South Sudan.
“You have shown the way for peace, I urge you to steer your country
into the right path of peace and development,” said the Somali
“You have shown a great statesmanship in coming together to end the
protracted conflict. I urge you to join hands to stir your country
into the right path towards peace and development,” he said.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who helped broker the peace deal,
called on South Sudan’s leaders to commit to the peace agreement and
move their country forward.
Sahle-Work Zewde, newly appointed Ethiopian President, called for
ceasefire and urged the leaders to fully implement the peace deal
which was inked in Ethiopia by Kiir and Machar.
Under the new peace deal, Machar will serve as the first of five
vice presidents under a transitional government of national unity.
S. Africa’s ANC rejects allegations
over donation from troubled bank
CAPE TOWN, (Xinhua) --
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) on
Wednesday rejected allegations that it had received donation money
from the troubled VBS Mutual Bank in exchange for doing favor for
“If any financial contribution was made to the ANC by VBS or any
other company, this would have been without any influence or
commitment from the ANC to do favors,” Minister of Cooperative
Governance and Traditional Affairs Zweli Mkhize said on behalf of
Mkhize was responding to a demand raised by the opposition
Democratic Alliance (DA) on Sunday that the ANC pay back the
donation money from the VBS Mutual Bank which has been put under
administration due to severe liquidity crisis since April this year.
The DA urged the ANC to lay criminal charges against ANC officials,
including Mkhize, who “engineered this corrupt kickback,” and pay
back every cent of this money within the next seven days.
The ANC allegedly profited to the tune of two million rand (about
138,000 U.S. dollars) via a “donation” from VBS Mutual Bank towards
their election campaign, the Sunday Times newspaper reported last
Referring to the Sunday Times report, Mkhize said he, in his
capacity as former Treasurer-General (TG) of the ANC, has never
assisted VBS in securing any funding from municipalities or any
other state institution
“As far as the article refers to my name, it is defamatory and a
fabrication devoid of any truth and as such should not be believed,”
He said that as Minister of the Cooperative Governance and
Traditional Affairs, he will continue to support the various ongoing
investigations and further take the necessary steps within his
powers to ensure that those who stole money from municipalities that
was meant for service delivery, face the might of the law.
The VBS Mutual Bank has been embroiled in a scandal, in which up to
900 million rand (about 62 million U.S. dollars) in deposits at the
bank could not be traced due to alleged irregularities. Much of the
money was deposited by ANC-run municipalities, a preliminary
In a report released in early October, the South African Reserve
Bank (SARB) identified 50 people associated with the ANC and the
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) who allegedly used their political
influence to ransack and defraud the bank.
As one of South Africa’s smallest lenders, VBS has operated as a
licensed mutual bank, funded by its members, for 25 years.
The lender, which isn’t listed, gained attention in 2016 when it
gave then president Jacob Zuma a mortgage to settle a Constitutional
Court order to repay taxpayers some of the money spent on upgrading
his private residence.
The bank operates six branches across the country and calls itself a
black-owned specialist corporate-finance and retail bank. Its total
assets were 2.4 billion rand (about 166 million dollars) at the end
of December last year, according to the most recent central bank
Rwanda looks to tap into Chinese
market through import expo
KIGALI, (Xinhua) --
Rwanda eyes China as a “very important” export market
and expects to introduce Rwandan products to Chinese consumers
through the first China International Import Expo (CIIE), CEO of
Rwanda Development Board Clare Akamanzi said Wednesday.
“China is a very important export market we are looking at right now
and the fact that we signed a partnership with Alibaba now confirms
that China is a very important priority market for us today,”
Akamanzi said at a media briefing after the launching ceremony of
Alibaba’s Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP), which makes Rwanda
the first African country that launches this platform.
The eWTP initiative was proposed by Jack Ma, executive chairman of
Alibaba Group, in 2016. It aims to promote public-private dialogue
to foster a more effective and efficient policy and business
environment to enable small and medium-sized enterprises to
participate in cross-border electronic trade.
The first thing that Rwanda has to achieve is to make sure that
Chinese consumers know the central African country, she said, noting
that Rwanda sees the CIIE as a platform where it can present Chinese
consumers with Rwandan products.
“We are going to use all platforms possible including trade expos in
China and other local platforms to promote Rwanda products to the
Chinese market,” she added.
The CIIE, China’s first-ever fair of this kind scheduled for Nov.
5-10 in Shanghai, is China’s latest move to promote trade
liberalization and further open up its market.
Rwanda’s financial sector to remain
sound, stable in 2018: central bank
KIGALI, (Xinhua) --
Rwanda’s financial sector is expected to remain sound
and stable throughout 2018, the central bank said on Wednesday.
Banks and microfinance institutions of Rwanda hold sufficient
capital and liquidity buffers above prudential requirement and the
solvency and profits of private insurers continue to improve, said
National Bank of Rwanda in a statement, citing an assessment by the
bank’s Financial Stability Committee.
By the end of September 2018, the total capital adequacy ratio for
the banking and microfinance sectors stood at 22.6 percent and 34.8
percent respectively, compared to 15 percent prudential requirement,
said the bank.
The liquidity coverage ratio, the main indicator of liquidity
position of banks, stood at 306 percent against 100 percent
prudential requirement, it said.
On the other hand, the liquidity ratio in the microfinance sector
stood at 96.4 percent against the 30 percent prudential requirement,
The insurance sector held sufficient capital relative to risks
underwritten, it said.
The aggregate solvency levels of private insurers stood at 155
percent in September 2018 compared to 159 percent level of September
2017, the bank said.
Zambian leader calls for more
cooperation with Austria
LUSAKA, (Xinhua) --
Zambian President Edgar Lungu on Wednesday called for
efforts to boost cooperation between Zambia and Austria.
In a congratulatory message sent to Austrian President Alexander Van
der Bellen on Austrian National Day, the Zambian leader said he is
prepared to nurture the relationship between the two countries for
mutual benefit, according to a statement released by the Zambian
Embassy in Austria.
The Zambian leader pledged to work with Austria, which took over the
presidency of the Council of the European Union on July 1, in
promoting global peace and security.
The potential for economic cooperation between Zambia and Austria is
immense, Lungu said.
Libyan parliament, state council
agree to restructure presidential council
TRIPOLI, (Xinhua) --
Libya’s eastern-based House of Representatives, or
parliament, and the Tripoli-based Higher Council of State on
Wednesday reached an agreement on restructuring the current
According to a joint statement by the parliament and the state
council, both parties have agreed to reconstruct the Presidential
Council to make it composed of a president and two deputies, as well
as a prime minister, to form a national unity government.
The statement also said the draft restructuring agreement aims to
end the political division in the country, and that the new
executive authority’s task is to prepare for presidential and
The current Presidential Council was appointed in line with a
UN-sponsored political agreement signed by the Libyan rivals in
2015. It consists of a president, five deputies, and three ministers
The parliament rejects the current formation of the Presidential
Council, arguing that it has too many members which makes it hard to
139 illegal immigrants voluntarily
deported from Libya
TRIPOLI, (Xinhua) --
The International Organization for Migration (IOM)
announced late Wednesday that 139 illegal immigrants were
voluntarily deported from Libya to Nigeria.
“Another group of migrants returned home to Nigeria from Libya
yesterday. Among the 139 migrants, there were five pregnant women
and seven unaccompanied children, as well as four people with
medical conditions,” IOM said in a statement later on Wednesday.
The return was done with the support of the European Union Trust
Fund, the statement said.
The IOM is running a voluntary return program with an aim to arrange
the return of illegal immigrants stranded in Libya to their
countries of origin.
Migrant shelters in Libya are crowded with thousands of migrants who
have been rescued at sea or arrested by Libyan security services.
Libya has become a preferred point of departure for illegal
immigrants hoping to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe due to
insecurity and chaos in the North African country following the 2011
uprising that toppled former leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Ethiopia police intercept 919
illegal hand guns being smuggled to the capital city
ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) --
Ethiopian police on Wednesday intercepted 919 illegal
hand guns in the capital city Addis Ababa.
In a press statement, Yeka district communications office in Addis
Ababa, said the hand guns were intercepted by Addis Ababa police
officers as they were about to be smuggled into the city hidden
inside a freight truck.
The statement further said the driver of the freight truck has been
apprehended pending investigation into the origins of the illegal
hand guns and their intended final destinations.
Ethiopia strictly controls licensing and movement of arms across the
country and private arms ownership is relatively rare in the East
Violent crimes are relatively rare in Ethiopia, but recent
incidences of armed robberies in major cities and sporadic ethnic
and religious unrest have led to a spike in demand of illicit arms
Ownership of arms is also seen as a sign of prestige and security in
parts of Ethiopia, which has seen a history of rebellion and
Uganda confirms Crimean-Congo
hemorrhagic fever case in western district
KAMPALA, (Xinhua) --
Uganda’s ministry of health on Wednesday confirmed a
case of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) in the western
district of Kabarole.
Emmanuel Ainebyoona, senior public relation officer for the ministry
of health, told Xinhua by telephone that laboratory results from
samples taken from a female patient under isolation at Fort Portal
regional referral hospital tested positive of the fever.
“There is a confirmed case of CCHF in Kabarole, but there are
measures put in place to ensure that the disease doesn’t spread,”
He said a national rapid response team from the ministry of health
and that of agriculture, animal industry and fisheries has been
dispatched to Kabarole to handle and contain the outbreak.
The CCHF is a tick-borne illness transmitted to humans through tick
bites. It can also be transmitted through direct contact with the
blood, secretions and the organs of infected people.
According to the World Health Organization, a CCHF outbreak
constitutes a threat to public health.
The global health body says the fever, endemic in Africa, the
Balkans and the Middle East, is associated with a high case fatality
ratio of 10-40 percent.
World’s tallest statue inaugurated
NEW DELHI, (Xinhua) --
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday
inaugurated the world’s tallest statue in the country’s western
state of Gujarat.
The 182-meter-tall statue of the country’s first Home Minister
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, more popularly known as Sardar Patel or
“Iron Man of India,” is situated in Kevadiya village in the Narmada
district of Gujarat, also the home state of Modi.
The statue was built at a cost of over 400 million U.S. dollars.
Sardar Patel played a key role in India’s freedom struggle, and was
a popular leader committed to the farmers’ welfare.
Wednesday also marks the 143rd birth anniversary of
Sardar Patel. The “Statue of Unity” will be open to the public from
Located on the Sadhu Bet island near Rajpipla on the Narmada river,
the statue is located between the Satpura and the Vindhya mountain
ranges. A 3.5-km highway will connect the statue to Gujarat’s
Kevadia town, media reports said.
The statue is said to be strong enough to withstand wind velocity up
to 60 meters per second, besides vibration and earthquakes. It has
been built within three-and-a-half years by over 3,000 workers,
including 300 engineers.
According to media reports, around 129 tonnes of iron implements
were collected from nearly 100 million farmers in 169,000 villages
across all states to construct the base of the statue in the “Loha”
(means iron) campaign.
Rwanda launches Alibaba’s
Electronic World Trade Platform
KIGALI, (Xinhua) --
China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba and the government
of Rwanda Wednesday launched Alibaba’s Electronic World Trade
Platform (eWTP), which makes Rwanda the first African country that
launches this platform.
The eWTP initiative was proposed by Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of
Alibaba Group, in 2016. It aims to promote public-private dialogue
to foster a more effective and efficient policy and business
environment to enable small and medium-sized enterprises to
participate in cross-border electronic trade.
Ma and Rwandan president Paul Kagame jointly unveiled the plaque of
the eWTP at its launching ceremony, which also witnessed the signing
of MOUs between the two sides in the areas of e-commerce, tourism,
e-payment and capacity building, under the framework of eWTP.
Alibaba will work with Rwanda Development Board to help Rwandan
small and medium-sized enterprises sell their products, including
coffee and handicrafts, to Chinese consumers through Alibaba’s
Alibaba’s travel service platform and Rwanda Development Board will
also work together to promote Rwanda as a tourist destination
through a Rwanda Tourism Store for booking flights, hotels and
travel experiences and a Destination Pavilion, where Chinese
consumers can learn about Rwanda.
Alibaba’s affiliate Ant Financial will share expertise in inclusive
financial tools, such as mobile payments, to support the Rwandan
Alibaba is also committed to providing capacity building to
academics, policy makers and entrepreneurs on how to grow a digital
economy. For policy makers, Alibaba will host a three-day workshop
at its Hangzhou headquarters to showcase the nature, capabilities
and promise of a new digital economy through first-hand experience
with digital finance, logistics, e-commerce and big data industries.
delegation of ministers and government officials responsible for the
development of Rwanda’s digital economy will attend a workshop in
Hangzhou in January 2019.
Alibaba will also continue to support Rwandan entrepreneurs through
programs such as the eFounders Fellowship.
“I hope from today, the eWTP Rwanda can be able to support small
businesses, young people and women here in Africa and sell their
things to enable them to global buy, global sell, global deliver,
global pay and global travel,” Ma said at the ceremony.
“If we can make 60 million small businesses in the world, they can
do business and change the world. We want to ensure eWTP makes 80
percent of small businesses in Africa to be successful,” he said.
“Let’s support young people and small businesses to globalize,” he
The eWTP opens up new frontiers in e-commerce and tourism for Rwanda
and will also boost the capacity and competitiveness of Rwandan
entrepreneurs and business people, said Kagame.
Rwanda greatly values its growing relationship with the Chinese
private sector and Alibaba Group in particular, he said, adding that
the launch is a tangible example of that and one that Rwanda intends
to build on for mutual benefits.
Wednesday’s launch is a “starting point” for eWTP in Rwanda and
Africa, Angel Zhao, President of Alibaba Global Business Group, told
a media briefing after the ceremony.
She expressed confidence on eWTP’s success in Africa. “We are going
to build a long-term strategy (for eWTP in Africa),” she added.
Using eWTP is really key and comes at the right time as Rwanda
launches its Made-in-Rwanda policy, designed to help boost local
industrial contribution to the economic growth while promoting the
brand of the Rwandan locally made products at the global stage,
Rwandan Minister of Trade and Industry Soraya Hakuziyaremye said at
It will help Rwanda’s young entrepreneurs and also local enterprise
willing to export outside, she said.
“It (eWTP) is perfectly fit in our development agenda,” said Clare
Akamanzi, CEO of Rwanda Development Board.
Rwanda’s development priorities, first of all, is to improve the
income level of its people and eWTP provides very good opportunities
for Rwandan people and entrepreneurs to be able to maximize their
incomes from trading and export, said Akamanzi.
The future of Rwanda’s economic development is digital and data
driven, CEO of the ICT Chamber of Private Sector Federation of
Rwanda Alex Ntare told Xinhua in an interview.
Next drivers of digital transformation of Rwanda is the digital
transformation of trade, particularly enabling small and
medium-sized enterprises both in formal and informal sectors to
boost their customer reach through e-commerce platforms and
marketplaces, said Ntare.
E-commerce will help in economic growth of Rwanda in many ways
including cross-border trading, time saving, costs reducing, and
enhancing convenience, he said.
Kenya implements business reforms
to spur growth: World Bank
NAIROBI, (Xinhua) --
Kenya has accelerated business reform agenda,
implementing five key reforms in the past year to improve the
business climate for small and medium-sized businesses, the World
Bank said in a report launched on Wednesday.
The lender’s Doing Business 2019: Training for Reform report says
the reforms earned Kenya a spot among the global top improvers, a
merit it has earned four times in the past 11 years.
“While this is a great accomplishment which we must celebrate, I
also encourage the government to persist in its efforts to address
the remaining hurdles that affect the establishment and growth of
SMEs in the country, a segment that is critical to the creation of
more jobs and opportunities for Kenyan youth,” Felipe Jaramillo,
World Bank Country Director in Kenya said during the launch of the
report in Nairobi.
The World Bank report said Kenya has advanced this year to 61 in the
global ease of doing business ranking, from a rank of 80 last year.
The report is issued annually, benchmarking 190 countries globally
against ten indicators on how easy it is to do business.
high ranking on the Ease of Doing Business Index means the
regulatory environment is more conducive to start and operate a
The report indicates that some of the reforms conducted by Kenya in
the past year included making registering property easier by
introducing an online system to pay fees and obtain digital
“As a result, the time for a business to register a property
transfer has now been reduced to 49 days, from 61 days,” says the
The findings show that Kenya strengthened access to credit by
introducing a new law on secured transactions that created a unified
secured transactions legal framework.
The assessment also indicates that the country established a new
unified and notice-based collateral registry.
Tanzania launches aerial wildlife
census in Selous-Mikumi ecosystem
DAR ES SALAAM, (Xinhua) --
Tanzania on Wednesday launched an aerial wildlife
census in the Selous-Mikumi ecosystem, targeting large mammals like
elephants and buffalo.
The census is conducted by state-owned Tanzania Wildlife Research
Institute (TAWIRI), the Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA),
and the Tanzania National Park (TANAPA), in collaboration with
Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS).
“The census targets large mammals, such as elephants and buffalo,
and will estimate wildlife populations, their distribution as well
as signs of illegal human activities in the Selous Game Reserve,
Mikumi National Park and the Selous-Niassa corridor,” said an FZS
Aerial wildlife censuses in the Selous-Mikumi Ecosystem have been
conducted every three to four years since 1976.
The overall coverage of the Selous-Mikumi Aerial Wildlife Census is
approximately 110,000 square km.
The latest census was initially planned to be conducted in 2017, but
had to be postponed due to excessive tree canopy cover that hampers
aerial survey visibility, the statement said.
TAWIRI, the leading organization in the census, said the current
conditions allowed the assessment to be successfully completed and
provide reliable data for the estimate of wildlife populations and
trends in the Selous-Mikumi Ecosystem.
Selous Game Reserve has faced many conservation challenges in recent
decades, the statement said, adding that subsequent to the massive
decline of elephants in the late 1970s and 1980s, elephant
population estimates dropped from approximately 109,000 to 31,889.
Elephant numbers showed recovery later, reaching an estimated 65,000
individuals in 2006, it added.
The most recent surge in poaching occurred in the late 2000s and
early 2010s, driven by soaring demand for ivory, cut elephant
population estimates to 14,867 in 2014, according to the statement.
“Selous Game Reserve was placed on the list of World Heritage in
Danger in 2014 mainly due to the poaching threat,” said the
Tanzania has since made great strides in curbing poaching and
strengthening the Selous Game Reserve management and protection,
including the establishment of Tanzania Wildlife Management
Authority, improved law enforcement, and intensive anti-poaching
initiatives that include regular aerial surveillance, the statement
Mozambique, Botswana sign agreement
direct flights between the two countries
MAPUTO, (Xinhua) --
Mozambique and Botswana will be connected through
direct flights between Maputo and Gaborone from 2019, the Mozambican
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Jose Pacheco announced
here on Wednesday.
“The agreement we signed today (Wednesday) will materialize that
Mozambicans willing to travel to Botswana and Botswanians willing to
travel to Maputo will no longer use connecting flights to do so,
they will do it straight from Gaborone to Maputo and vice versa,”
said the minister.
“This is a reality that happens because there is political will and
commercial will in the business sector. New airplanes in Botswana
are being purchased to reinforce the fleet to among other things
connect Gaborone with Maputo,” Pacheco added.
The agreement is a result of talks held between the delegations of
Mozambique and Botswana during the three-day visit of Botswana
President Mokgweetsi Masisi in the country.
According to Pacheco, the need to reinforce commercial and political
relations between the two countries was highlighted. Cooperation in
the sectors of security and defense, culture and arts, and wildlife
conservation were also discussed during the talks.
UNITED NATIONS, (Xinhua) --
Ahunna Eziakonwa (R, front), United Nations
Development Program (UNDP) assistant administrator and
regional director for Africa, addresses the case study at the
UN headquarters in New York, Oct. 29, 2018. China’s
agricultural foreign assistance projects have resulted in
increased food production and income for smallholder farmers
in Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique, according to a case study
revealed on Monday.
XINHUA PHOTO: LI MUZI
Namibia should focus on rurual
investment to improve food security: VP
WINDHOEK, (Xinhua) --
To improve food security, Namibia should focus on
investing in agriculture to create employment and market
opportunities for small producers, Namibia’s vice president Nangolo
Mbumba has said.
“We should focus on rural investment to reduce the long-term effects
of short-term climate variability on food security, through crop
insurance and incentives that encourage farmers to adopt better
agricultural and land use practices,” he told an event commemorating
the World Food Day in the Kavango West region, about 700 km north of
Namibia on Tuesday.
He said that although malnutrition rates have been falling, too many
children are still trapped in the clutches of this devastating
One in four young children suffer from stunting and are too short
for their age, he noted.
According to the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Mbumba
said, 24 percent of children under five are stunted, while 6 percent
are wasted, and 13 percent are underweight.
World Food Day is celebrated every year around the world on 16
October in honor of the date of the founding of the Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945.
This year’s theme is “Our Actions are our Future A #Zero Hunger
World by 2030 is Possible”.
“This year’s World Food Day commemoration provides another valuable
opportunity to all Namibians to recommit their collective efforts
towards achieving a Namibia without hunger and malnutrition in all
its forms,” Mbumba said.
Kenyan digital loan apps intensify
search for borrowers on social media
NAIROBI, (Xinhua) --
While chatting with friends on social media on
Wednesday, Ann Nyaboke saw a message pop up on the screen of her
She stopped the chat and read the message, which was from a new
digital credit app asking her to enroll by downloading the software.
Not someone to fear experimenting, she followed the steps offered
and downloaded the app and borrowed 1,000 Kenyan shillings (about 10
U.S. dollars), the maximum she could get.
“I had not enrolled in any digital loan app before, but I could not
leave this chance to pass out of curiosity because it popped into my
space,” she said. “It is the easiest money I have ever borrowed.”
Her experience is shared by hundreds of other social media users in
Kenya as developers of the apps intensify their hunt for customers
through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The digital loan apps are mainly advertising on social media as they
target the youth in the east African nation, who form the bulk of
those who use the sites and borrow cash via the app.
“Apply for the first loan of 500 shillings now! Get loan, make the
back payment in time and get another loan of up to 5,000 shillings,”
one app offers on social media.
“Instant loans to your Mpesa account. Download our app today and
borrow as low as 100 shillings to 50,000 shillings without any
guarantors, security or office visits!” another app says in an
“Gone are the days when customers applied for loans, which would
months to process, in the banking halls. Get the right mobile lender
today. It’s a digital world,” offers another digital loaner.
Kenya has more than 50 digital credit apps that offer borrowers
instant loans depending on their mobile money usage. A majority of
the apps are standalone products but commercial banks have lately
joined the foray to cash in on the boom.
The apps offer loans at an interest rate of up to 15 percent per
month, which is outside the controlled Central Bank of Kenya lending
rate of 13 percent per annum that formal banks offer.
So popular are the digital credit apps that in the last months,
banks and non-banking actors have scrambled to launch new services,
with social media offering the easiest platform to advertise
Mathew Muthuri, a social media marketer in Nairobi, notes that most
of the apps are exclusively using the sites to advertise their
services because of the huge reach and they enable them to target
“Unlike TV, newspapers or radio, which reaches to generally the mass
market, social media reaches millions at once but each person
receives the message individually on their phone at any time. It may
even be in the dead of the night. They are, therefore, likely to
take up the service without seeking opinion from anyone,” he said.
The 2017 FinAccess Digital Credit Survey showed that 35 percent of
Kenyan phone owners are digital borrowers, an indication that some
6.1 million people use the apps in the East African nation.
These are mainly the youth, who also are active users of social
Muthuri noted that social media advertising has worked for the loan
apps, the reason why millions have enrolled for the service, some
taking loans from up to 10 service providers.
However, as the popularity of the apps soar, Kenya’s financial
sector regulators have warned that increased usage of digital credit
exposes the economy to various challenges that include money
“Digital credit predisposes the economy to risks that include money
laundering, terrorist financing and technology risks,” said the
Central Bank, Capital Markets Authority, Insurance Regulatory
Authority, Sacco Regulatory Authority and Retirement Benefits
Authority, in a report released last month.
Zimbabwean seed producers cut
prices after public outcry
HARARE, (Xinhua) --
Zimbabwean seed producers have cut the prices of
their products following an outcry from farmers and representations
by the government.
The producers more than doubled their prices last week, citing
unfavorable operating conditions.
snap survey by Xinhua on Wednesday showed that prices have been down
drastically, although they remained high for many farmers.
One leading seed producer cut the price of medium-season variety of
maize seed from 250.82 Zimbabwean bond dollars per 25 kg bag to 138
dollars, while prices for a 10 kg bag of the same variety went down
from 100 dollars to 55 dollars.
Despite the reduction, farmers on Wednesday said the prices are
still too high and production would be adversely affected.
bag of maize seed, now costing 55 dollars, was selling for 25 U.S.
dollars last season.
Zimbabwean monetary authorities peg the bond dollars at 1:1 to the
U.S. dollar, but the greenback is sold at more than twice the bond
dollar on the black market.
President of the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union Abdul Nyathi told Xinhua on
Wednesday that the price cuts are not enough and small-holder
farmers still cannot afford to plant in the coming season.
“Take for instance the 10 kg bag of maize, which was selling at
around 25 dollars last season. The same now costs 55 dollars, and
this is double last season’s price,” he said. “A lot of people are
saying this is not sustainable and they will not go back on the land
He also said the producers had only reduced prices of short- and
medium-season variety seeds and left the high yielding longer-term
“Farmers prefer the long-term varieties because they have higher
yields, but the producers left the prices very high. Wait and see if
anyone will buy those seeds,” he said.
Prices of fertilizers also went down, with a 50 kg bag of top
dressing going down from 80 bond dollars to 60 dollars, while basal
fertilizer went down from 75 dollars to 55 dollars. Both fertilizers
cost less than 40 dollars last season.
ALGIERS, (Xinhua) --
Visitors consult about books at the Chinese pavilion at the
23rd International Book Fair of Algiers, in
Algiers, Algeria, Oct. 30, 2018. The book fair kicked off on
Monday. As the guest of honor at the book fair, China
presented over 2,500 books both in Arabic and English.
EU wants more trade and tenable
relations with Botswana
GABORONE, (Xinhua) --
The new ambassador of European Union (EU) to Botswana
Jan Sadek says his organization is committed to strengthening
partnership with Botswana and the rest of the African continent.
Speaking during media interaction at a breakfast meeting held in
Gaborone, the capital of Botswana on Wednesday, Sadek, who is also
accredited to SADC, said upon his arrival in the country he met with
President Mokgweetsi Masisi and discussed a number of key issues
such as trade and investment.
He noted that EU was committed to assisting the country in many
areas to boost investment, further attract private investor, support
education and skills development for employability, as well as boost
trade and improve the business climate.
Sadek said Botswana stands a better position to handsomely benefit
from EU programs, particularly that the country is stable, adding
that there is still room to increase trade between the two.
In the meantime, Sadek said the new EU leadership is also committed
to deepening the EU’s economic and trade relationship with Africa
through investment and job creation.
One of the initiatives of achieving this is through “A new
Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs”.
The aim of the Alliance is to take the EU’s partnership with Africa
to the next level by boosting investment trade and business, among
The plan will be supported by the Commission’s current and future
budget, for which Africa is highlighted as a priority region.
Meanwhile, investing in people, EU recognizes that Africa has the
youngest population of any region of the world and continues to
experience demographic growth. It therefore recognizes that
providing people with access to education is of paramount
Feature: Kenyan champion Gor Mahia
in limelight for trip to Everton
NAIROBI, (Xinhua) --
Excitement, anticipation, anxiety and a bit of
skepticism has been building as Kenyan league champions, Gor Mahia
FC prepare to leave on Friday to Britain to play Everton FC.
On Nov. 6, Gor Mahia will become the first club side from East
Africa to play an English Premier League club at the iconic Goodison
Gor Mahia, who wrapped a record-extending 17th domestic
crown in the just-concluded season won the chance to play the
Toffees when they defeated Tanzanian giants, Simba SC 2-0 in the
final of an eight-team regional invitational tournament dubbed the
SportPesa Cup on June 10.
Last year, the two clubs met at the National Stadium in Dar-es-Salaam,
Tanzania where the EPL side prevailed 2-1 in a game remembered as
the first outing for former England captain Wayne Rooney since his
return to Everton after 12 trophy-laden years at Manchester United.
Rooney, who has since left for DC United in the Major League Soccer
of America, opened the scoring with a scorcher from range before Gor
Mahia’s record signing Jacques Tuyisenge, levelled for 1-1 at half
time. A late Kieran McDowell strike, also from range sealed victory
“Their performance against such a big side inspired us to come back
home and win the league. I told my players they had the qualities to
play against the best and from there it was easy for them to find
the motivation,” remarked Dylan Kerr who took charge of Gor for the
first time in that match remarked.
Former Brazilian international, Jose Marcelo ‘Ze Maria’ Ferreira
took over Gor Mahia at the start of July 2017 and subsequently led
the side to reclaim the domestic title they had lost to local
rivals, Tusker FC in 2016.
In the past season, Gor Mahia defended their crown with six games to
spare, finishing third in the regional Cecafa Club Championships in
Tanzania and above all, qualifying them for the first time in the
group stages of the second tier continental competition, the CAF
Amid a chocking fixture list that saw the team tail off towards the
end of the campaign, Gor Mahia also retained their Super Cup crown
before a crippling player’s strike over delayed salaries and
allowance saw their season end in a whimper, losing six of their
last eight games.
“The playing unit, both young and experienced, played a significant
role in delivering the 17th trophy home despite the tight
season that also saw us engage in CECAFA, Super Cup and CAF
competitions,” Ferreira said.
Ahead of the showdown, opinion has varied between those who see the
fixture as a positive step towards exposing East African football to
the world as others label the match as a public relations gimmick.
Gor Mahia and Everton share a shirt and title sponsor in SportPesa,
the African gaming giants with roots in Kenya who have since
expanded to open their business in the UK, Italy, South Africa and
The company has thrown its weight behind a huge promotional campaign
that has managed to capture the attention of the Kenyan audiences on
local television, radio, newsprint, on-line and social media.
Besides the Gor players and staff, a group of local journalists, a
number of Gor fans led by the most famous of all, Jared Otieno, also
known as ‘Jaro Soja’ the self-styled Commander-in-Chief of the Green
Army supporters and other guests will make the Everton trip.
Last year, the two sides played to a jam-packed National Stadium in
Dar and in May this year, Gor Mahia took on visiting English second
division side Hull City FC in Nairobi where the 60,000-seater Moi
International Sports Centre, Kasarani filled to its brim.
Organizers are hoping the story of a Kenyan side playing a team from
the most-followed league in the world will be a big international
draw to serve the dual purpose of exposing talent from East Africa
as well as leveraging their product in this age where football is
one of the biggest commercial drivers.
“Everton is one of the most established clubs in the UK being the
only one to play over 100 seasons in the Premier League. The
friendly will be good exposure for the Gor who have given their best
to put Kenya on the global and regional map in matters football,”
company CEO, Captain Ronald Karauri said when the game was confirmed
Regardless of the purpose of the fixture, Gor players are relishing
the prospect of what the opportunity offers to their careers.
“I’m very grateful to our partners and coach for making this trip
possible. Most of us have never been to the UK and this is a once in
a lifetime opportunity for us to showcase our talent,” the
20-year-old Edward Lokuwam said ahead of the trip.
Raphael Asudi, who grew up in Donholm, a settlement east of the
Kenyan capital Nairobi, is another youngster keen on making an
impression at Goodison Park as his promising career continues to
“It will be great to meet the entire Everton team and especially
(Theo) Walcott. I have always admired him and it will be amazing to
show them that we can handle the challenge they pose,” Asudi, who is
a devout Arsenal fan where Walcott spent a decade before signing for
the Toffees, added.
Kenya’s Teimet hopes for victory on
return to Hangzhou marathon
NAIROBI, (Xinhua) --
Former Seoul marathon champion Sylvester Teimet of
Kenya on Wednesday vowed to beat defending champion Azmeraw Molalign
Bekele of Ethiopia in this Sunday’s Hangzhou Marathon in China.
Teimet, 34, who settled for fourth spot in last year’s race,
clocking 2:10:59, holds one of the fastest personal best times among
the elites who will be racing in Hangzhou, an IAAF bronze level road
The Kenyan holds a personal best time of 2:06:49, which he set when
winning the Seoul Marathon in 2010.
During his 11-year-long career over the classic distance, the
experienced Kenyan has also collected titles in Shanghai and
He set the course record in Shanghai International Marathon of
2:09:01 in 2012 before compatriot Paul Lonyangata improved it to
2:07:14 in 2015.
Sunday’s race in Hangzhou will be his third in China this year,
after he placed seventh at the Yellow River Estuary International
Marathon in Dongying in May and second at the Taiyuan Marathon in
“I love running in China. I have rested enough and believe I have
the strength to go for the win in my third marathon this year. There
are several top names to expect, but I always focus on my own
strength and strategy to win the race,” Teimet said in Nairobi.
Kenya’s Emily Chemutai Ngetich, who holds a fast time of 2:25:14
from her fourth place finish at the Frankfurt Marathon in 2014, will
lead a Kenyan challenge in the women’s race eyeing to improve on her
ninth place finish last year. Not to rule out Anne Cheptanui and
“There Ethiopians were very strong,” she said. “But it will be
different this year.”
FIFA President says still “looking
at” possible expansion for 2022 World Cup
KUALA LUMPUR, (Xinhua) --
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said Wednesday that
the world football government body is still “looking at” the
possibility expand the number of teams taking part in the 2022 World
Cup in Qatar.
Speaking at the annual congress of Asian Football Confederation
(AFC), Infantino mentioned that the plan has been adopted to
increase the number of teams that participate in the finals during
the 2026 World Cup from 32 to 48.
“Will it happen in 2022? We are looking at it. If it’s possible, why
not?” he said, adding that it would have the positive effects on
Asian football as the quota for AFC members will rise from 4.5 to
FIFA is discussing the proposal with the host Qatar and other
partners in the region, Infantino said. “We need to see if it’s
possible, if it’s feasible,” he said. “We hope this could happen,
and if not, we will have tried.”
Meanwhile, Infantino said FIFA is eyeing on revamping the Club World
Cup, the next edition of which will be played in the United Arab
Emirates in December, “to make it a real competition.”
Infantino also suggested the possibilities of introducing UEFA’s
Nations League system in other confederation to make matches between
national teams to be “more meaningful.”
For his part, AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa
said the Asian football government body will be working closely with
FIFA on new competitions, including the introduction of an Asian
league at the worldwide level.
Botswana Wrestling team gears up
GABORONE, (Xinhua) --
The Botswana Wrestling Federation (BWF) has selected
a 10-member junior national team to represent the country in an
international tournament next month in Namibia, Botswana’s neighbor
to the west.
The tournament will be played in the Namibian capital city of
Windhoek from Nov. 23 to 25. Speaking on Tuesday in a telephone
interview, BWF founding president Moagi Sharp explained that the
international tournament is a continuation of their agreement with
the Namibia Wrestling Federation to work together to develop
wrestling in their respective countries.
He said since reaching the agreement 3 years ago, the 2 wrestling
federations played each other every year.
Sharp said next month’s competition will be in two styles: the
Freestyle Wrestling and the Greco-Roman Style.
“The team, which we have announced was selected after the
Francistown Open Wrestling Tournament, which we held two weeks ago,
and was attended by 5 wrestling clubs. It will play against the
Namibia national team and the local clubs in Namibia. The
competition will give our wrestlers much needed match practice,” he
Sharp, who is the only qualified wrestling coach in the country,
added he will be coaching the team, assisted by Gaolatlhe Madibela.
He said the team will go into training camp next week to intensify
“We expect to be in camp for 2 weeks in Selebi Phikwe because most
of the players are from the town. During that time, we expect to
play a tournament with local clubs,” he said.
He said they have done well in their previous matches against
Namibia and they target 4 medals from this year’s competition, which
will be held in the Windhoek township of Katurura.
Sharp said with more funding and support, wrestling has the
potential to win major international medals for the country.
The 10-member team comprises 7 male and 3 females.
They will compete in 6 weight categories: 30kg, 34kg, 36kg, 38kg,
40kg and 46kg. Enditem
Former Ghana FA president Kwesi
Nyantakyi receives life ban from FIFA
ACCRA, (Xinhua) --
FIFA announced on Tuesday a life ban for the former
President of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) Kwesi Nyantakyi.
The ban precludes Kwesi Nyantakyi from all football-related
activities after he was caught on video making self-incriminating
statements to renowned investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas,
who had disguised himself as an Arab businessman seeking to invest
in Ghana football.
statement issued by the world football governing body said its
adjudicatory chamber had found Nyantakyi “guilty of a number of FIFA
The adjudicatory chamber found Nyantakyi guilty of having violated
article 19 (Conflicts of interest), article 21 (Bribery and
corruption) and article 22 (Commission) of the FIFA Code of Ethics,
“As a consequence, Nyantakyi is banned for life from all
football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) at
both national and international levels. Additionally, a fine in the
amount of 500,000 Swiss Franc (more than 400,000 U.S. Dollars) has
been imposed on Nyantakyi,” the statement announced.
The statement added that the former FIFA Governing Council member
had already been informed about the decision of its adjudicating
The Number 12 investigative video produced by the Ghanaian
investigative journalist has already claimed a number of casualties
in the African football fraternity including referees caught on tape
receiving gifts in order to compromise matches.
Kenya’s Wanjiru ready for New York
Marathon after knee injury
NAIROBI, (Xinhua) --
Former London Marathon champion Daniel Wanjiru has
dared his opponents to pick up the gauntlet and take him on in
Sunday’s New York Marathon.
Wanjiru, together with defending champion Geoffrey Kamworor and
Festus Talam, left for New York on Tuesday night looking to take on
Ethiopia’s former Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa and fellow
countryman Shura Kitata, as well as Bernard Lagat of the USA.
In March, Wanjiru performed poorly at the Houston Half Marathon,
finishing 25th, and was unable to finish the Great North
Run in Newcastle because of a stomach infection.
“After I had a stomach infection during the Great North Run, I have
since recovered and have had good training. Now I’m back and fully
focused on the New York Marathon,” Wanjiru said on Tuesday evening
before his departure.
Wanjiru, a former Rotterdam Marathon champion, finished eighth in
this year’s London Marathon in April, clocking 2:10:35 in a race won
by Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge.
He blamed his loss to a knee injury, which he now says is fully
“As you can see, I am in my best form. My training has gone smoothly
and I want to challenge Kamworor and the other athletes to try to
catch me. Though this is my first marathon in the USA, I want to say
I’m ready,” said Wanjiru.
Injury concerns have inspired the 27-year-old and he believes New
York will provide him with a new start as he aims to improve his
personal best time of 2:05:21.
“The New York course is tough and we all know it. But that does not
mean I will not try to improve my time. However, the important thing
for me is to start afresh with a win as I close my season,” said
Defending champion Geoffrey Kamworor will be among this year’s
participants as he seeks to win back-to-back titles after winning
his first major marathon on the same soil last year.
Kamworor won his third consecutive IAAF World Half Marathon
Championships in Valencia in March, and hopes for similar luck in
“Kamworor hopes to defend his title successfully on Sunday and mount
a successful defense of his title in the “Big Apple” and we will
support him,” said Kamworor’s coach Patrick Sang.