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Chinese Artists perform during the China Southern Airline Guangzhou Tourism Promotion Conference | Coastweek
NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Chinese Artists from China - Kenya Cultural Education Centre perform during the China Southern Airline Guangzhou Tourism Promotion Conference in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, May 29, 2018. China Southern Airlines has announced the launch of a new flight between Nairobi and the Chinese city of Guangzhou in a move expected to increase volume of trade and cultural interactions among the two countries, airline officials said in Nairobi on Tuesday. The airline currently has scheduled two weekly flights between the two cities, departing on Monday and Friday, starting July 9, 2018.  XINHUA PHOTO: CHARLES ONYANGO
Nigeria’s star table tennis player Ajetunmobi dies in gas explosion

ABUJA, (Xinhua) -- Nigeria’s table tennis star Seun Ajetunmobi was on Friday confirmed dead following a gas explosion inside his home in the southwestern state of Lagos.

The Italy-based Ajetunmobi died due to severe injuries he sustained during the domestic accident late Thursday, according to local officials.

“He died Friday morning while receiving treatment at a Lagos hospital,” said an official statement.

The Nigerian Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) described the late Ajetunmobi as “a key player that will be sorely missed.”

According to NTTF scribe Anthony Idaye, the deceased athlete was on holiday in Nigeria after the end of the season in Italy.

Last month, Ajetunmobi won the men’s singles champion at the annual Aso Championships, a local tourney, in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja.

His last international duty for Nigeria was at the 2015 African Games in Congo Brazzaville.

Ajetunmobi died at 33.


49 killed, 70 others still missing after tropical cyclone in Somaliland

MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) -- At least 49 people were killed while 70 others are still missing following tropical cyclone Sagar that caused heavy rains and flooding in Somaliland, the UN humanitarian agency said on Sunday night.

Citing estimates from Somaliland’s disaster management authority, NADFOR, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said nearly 168,000 people were directly affected and some 277 hectares of land have been destroyed in the affected villages.

“Key infrastructure, including roads, fishing boats, medical facilities, boreholes and water wells were damaged. Over 80 percent of community shelters have been destroyed and 33 schools were affected,” said OCHA in its latest humanitarian bulletin.

According to the UN, communities in the coastal areas of Somaliland and major portions of Awdal district, as well as some coastal communities in Puntland are still reeling from the impact of tropical cyclone Sagar.

The cyclone, one of the strongest storms ever recorded in Somalia, left an entire year’s worth of rain in a matter of hours, according to SWALIM.

“It left in its trail death, floods and strong winds, as well as the destruction of farmland and infrastructure. Thousands of livestock were killed and civilians displaced. The impact of the cyclone has affected communities that were still recovering from prolonged drought,” said the UN relief agency.

In Puntland, said the UN, flash floods in Bari left three people dead and damaged the road linking the town of Bossaso to areas in the south.

“Humanitarians have reported that 3,600 families were affected. The worst-affected areas include the coastal towns of Bareeda, Caluula, Gumbax, Murcanyo, Xaabo and some parts of Qandala,” says the report, noting that houses and fishing boats were washed away. Agricultural land was also swamped. 

Cyclone Sagar which formed in the Gulf of Aden hit Somaliland, northern Somalia on May 19. It also affected the neighboring country Ethiopia, where 188,000 people were reportedly displaced.


Gunmen kill 15 in NW Nigeria’s village attack

LAGOS, (Xinhua) -- Nigerian police in the northwestern Zamfara state said on Saturday that 15 people were killed when unknown gunmen attacked a village in the state.

Police spokesperson in the state, Muhammad Shehu, told reporters in Gusau, the state capital that the gunmen killed the people in a village called Zakuna, in the Anka Local Government Area.

The gunmen invaded Zakuna in the early hours of Friday and stole cows belonging to villagers, she said, adding that no arrest had been made.

He told reporters that investigation into the matter had commenced.

The beleaguered state has seen repeated attacks in recent times that have left scores dead.

On May 25, some communities in Gidangoga District in the Maradun Local Government Area of the state were attacked by bandits, resulting in the death of 26 people, with three others injured.


Air strikes kill at least 2 civilians in eastern Libya

TRIPOLI, (Xinhua) -- At least two civilians were killed by air strikes carried out by Libya’s eastern-based army targeting the eastern Libyan city of Darna, head of the city council confirmed on Saturday.

“At least two civilians were killed by four air strikes targeting various locations in the city, specifically at the populated western entrance of the city,” Awad L’eraj told Xinhua later on Saturday.

“The city is besieged from all directions, as military forces are trying to break into it without taking into account the civilians and the losses they would suffer by the continuous air strikes and shelling,” L’eraj said.

He called on international organizations to “lift the siege on Darna and enable entry of medicine and food, as civilians are on the brink of famine.”

However, no international organization can provide any aids without prior authorization by Libya’s eastern-based army, which is besieging the city, L’eraj added.

The official accused Tripoli-based UN-backed government of “abandoning Darna and its residents”, after the government announced it was unable to provide any aids for the city due to the military action.

The UN Support Mission in Libya on Friday said that at least 17 civilians had been killed and 22 others wounded in Darna over the past two weeks, as a result of the fighting between the army and militants.

The mission also confirmed that some 125,000 people in Darna were suffering power blackouts and water shortage, appealing to all parties in Darna to “allow unfettered and safe access” by humanitarian workers.

The eastern-based army, led by General Khalifa Haftar, has been besieging Darna since 2015 and demanding the armed group of the Shura Council of Mujahideen of Darna leave the city. The army accuses the group of being loyal to al-Qaida.


48 migrants die after boat sinks off Tunisian coast

TUNIS, (Xinhua) -- The number of illegal immigrants killed after their boat sank off the southeastern coast of Tunisia on Sunday has risen to 48, according to the Ministry of Defense.

A total of 75 people have been rescued people so far, including 60 Tunisians, five from Sub-Saharan Africa, two Moroccans and one Libyan, said Rachid Bouhawala, the press officer at the Ministry of Defense.

Relief operations are continuing in coordination with the army as well as units of the Maritime Guard and civil protection.

At least 180 illegal immigrants were aboard the boat stranded off the island of Kerkennah on the southeastern coast of the country, including 80 African nationalities.

Kerkennah is known as one of the main illegal gateways to Europe from Tunisia. Since the beginning of this year, about 1,910 Tunisian migrants have reached Italy by sea, according to the International Organization for Migration.

The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights said in a study that 9,329 Tunisians attempted to cross the Mediterranean in 2017, with 34 percent intercepted by Tunisian maritime forces.


Kenyans split on state officials taking polygraph test to curb rampant graft   

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenyans are divided on an announcement by President Uhuru Kenyatta that the government will subject all its procurement and accounting officers to lie detection test to curb spiraling corruption.

Kenyatta on Friday announced that all the officers would be subjected to the polygraph test by June 30 as his government works to curb corruption that has rocked his administration.

Officials in five public institutions are currently being investigated for corruption scandals.

The institutions are National Youth Service (NYS), Kenya Pipeline, Kenya Power, National Cereals and Produce Board and the Youth Fund.

Some 40 suspects linked to the theft of 90 million U.S. dollars at the NYS were this week arrested and charged in court with the crime.

A furious Kenyatta used the Independence Day celebrations on Friday to announce the new measure by his government to tackle graft.

“All heads of procurement and accounts in government ministries, departments, agencies and parastatals will be vetted afresh, including taking a polygraph test, to determine their integrity and suitability,” said Kenyatta.

Some Kenyans believe the radical step would eliminate the vice but others are cynical, noting that is another scheme to wane public anger but would yield little results.

“Lie detection test is out of this world and would be a first in Kenya. I really support it. Any move that would help fight corruption in Kenya is welcome,” Joseph Kimenyi, a public transport vehicle (matatu) driver, said Saturday.

Kimenyi suggested that the test should be extended to the traffic police department, which has been ranked the most corrupt institution in Kenya for ages.

“In fact, they should start with the police. As matatu operators, we lose a lot of money to the officers and this has become a way of life. This should stop,” he said.

Georgina Musavi, a salonist was hopeful that the lie detection test would eliminate corrupt people in government and allow the employment of honest persons.

However, critics say a lie detection test is the last thing that Kenyans need to fight corruption.

“What Kenya needs to fight corruption is political goodwill not lie detectors. Kenya is gripped in corruption because the political class is benefiting from it and has allowed it,” said Dismas Okoth, a youth leader in Kayole on the East of Nairobi.

Okoth said if government was keen on fighting corruption, Kenyatta would have ordered for the incarceration of all people linked to graft, including his close allies.

“So many people including top politicians and government officials have been named in graft scandals but they continue to serve. Are they going to take a lie detection test?” He posed, noting the best way to fight corruption is to start from the top.

On social media, Kenyans have debated the pros and cons of the lie detection test that the government has said is urgent.

“One big flaw of polygraph testing is the fact an honest person may be nervous and a dishonest person may be non-anxious. You can fool a lie detector test with just one simple movement and get away with it,” said Kinyan Boy on Twitter.

Analysts noted the announcement of the test had caught the country by surprise.

“It is radical. It is innovative but citizens’ chances of eliminating corruption with the gadgets are fifty-fifty. Corruption is so rooted in Kenya that a polygraph test is part of the solution but not the cure of the menace,” said Ernest Manuyo, a business management lecturer in Nairobi.

Manuyo observed that to eliminate corruption, Kenyans first need to have a sense of nationhood so that they can see graft as a threat to their country and existence.

“Currently, people seek services from government offices expecting to bribe. This is what public officials exploit. Though I welcome the detector, we need a major culture shift as Kenyans to eliminate graft,” he said.

James ole Kiyiapi, a professor of environment and a political analyst, noted that to end corruption, the country must not only punish those complicit in graft, but also return the money.


AU Commission chief calls for calm, restraint in Mali

ADDIS ABABA,  (Xinhua) -- The Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has urged political actors in Mali to refrain from acts that may further worsen the situation in that country.

One month ahead of Mali’s presidential elections in July, violent clashes occurred last Saturday in the capital city Bamako sparked by demonstrations by opposition parties.

In a statement on Monday, the Chairperson of the 55-member Commission regretted the incidents, whereby more than a dozen were reportedly injured during the demonstration organized in Bamako by the opposition.

Wishing a speedy recovery to those who were injured in the incidents, the Chairperson of the AU Commission has called on Malian political actors to exercise restraint and refrain from any act likely to induce greater political polarization.

Mahamat has underlined that all Malian political leaders need to work towards the holding of peaceful, smooth, and transparent elections next month. 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday also called for calm and restraint by all parties in the country.

He has urged political actors and the civil society to favor dialogue in order to maintain an environment conducive to the holding of credible and transparent elections.


Angola president’s Belgium visit to improve bilateral cooperation

LUANDA, (Xinhua) -- Angolan President Joao Lourenco’s two-day working visit to Belgium could improve cooperation between the two countries, said Angolan foreign minister on Sunday.

Speaking to the press on Sunday in the capital Brussels, Angola’s Foreign Affairs Minister Manuel Augusto said bilateral cooperation will dominate the agenda of the Angolan president’s visit.

The minister said the president is expected to meet with King Philip of Belgium and Prime Minister Charles Michel, as well as senior officials of international bodies based in Brussels, such as the European Union.

Lourenco will also meet with the Belgian business community and the Angolan community in residing in Belgium.


South Sudan’s Kiir in Ethiopia for State visit

JUBA, (Xinhua) -- South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Wednesday travelled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a one-day State visit, the presidency said.

President Kiir was accompanied by the country’s chief peace negotiator and government ministers for talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The South Sudanese leader is expected to brief the Ethiopian prime minister about South Sudan’s position on the peace talks led by the East African regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

“The president of the republic would discuss with the new Ethiopian Prime Minister the government’s position on the recent IGAD proposal on the revival of the country’s peace,” the presidency said.

It is Kiir’s first visit to Ethiopia since the resignation of former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Ethiopia is hosting peace talks aimed at reviving South Sudan’s stalled 2015 peace deal.

The second round of the High Level Revitalization Forum ended last week without any deal after the warring parties rejected a proposed power sharing deal developed by IGAD. IGAD is yet to announce the next date for the negotiations.


Madagascar’s PM announces resignation

ANTANANARIVO, (Xinhua) -- Madagascar’s Prime Minister Olivier Mahafaly Solonandrasana announced his resignation Monday morning after the decision of the High Constitutional Court last week which asked him to resign in seven days. 

“I resign from my position freely without problem. I will send to President Hery Rajaonarimampianina my resignation,” the prime minister said during his press meeting Monday.

Solonandrasana said that the reason of his resignation is the decision of the High Constitutional Court (HCC), which decided to create a new government of consensus.

“I agree without objection this decision of the HCC and I put my resignation to facilitate it,” Solonandrasana added.

The prime minister said he always looked for solidarity among the Malagasy people.

Solonandrasana, 53, was appointed prime minister on April 10, 2016 to replace Jean Ravelonarivo.


Zimbabwean government rejects U.S. claims on upcoming vote    

HARARE, (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwean government said Monday it has taken adequate executive measures to ensure free, fair and credible elections set for July 30 this year.

It said this in response to recent claims by United States senator Chris Coons that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration was making empty promises and deliberately delaying implementing key electoral reforms to disadvantage the opposition.

“First, government has guaranteed a peaceful poll, which is why the President has been unambiguous in his call for peace as well as taking the unexampled decision to meet with opposition parties once the Nomination Court has confirmed who is genuine and who is not,” the state-controlled Herald newspaper quoted Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba as saying.

Charamba said the new Zimbabwe government had taken steps to guarantee a credible poll which included inviting international observers and adequately resourcing the electoral body to smoothly run the elections.

He said the Zimbabwe government would not interfere with the operations of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in running the poll.

“Maybe what is unclear to the Senator (Coons) is that ZEC is a constitutional creature whose independence is provided for in the law. Whether, when and how it release the voters’ roll and in what format, is for it to determine without undue influence from any player national or international, inside government or outside government,” Charamba said.


Activists in Uganda denounce tax on social media users

KAMPALA, (Xinhua) -- Civil society organizations and rights activists on Friday criticized Uganda’s legislators for passing a controversial bill that imposes a daily tax on social media users in the country.

Livingstone Sewanyana, the executive director of Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, told Xinhua in an interview that the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill 2018, which imposes a mandatory daily tax of 200 shillings (0.05 U.S. dollars) for social media users is unwarranted and unnecessary on tax payers.

“It is a restriction on people’s individual freedom to express themselves and communicate freely since it makes access costly and prohibitive,” said Sewanyana.

“It is a double tax since we pay for airtime. Such a tax should be rejected. The bill once passed into law will be subjected to court litigation to determine its constitutionality,” he said.

The lawmakers on Wednesday passed the bill two months after President Yoweri Museveni in March announced that the government was planning to introduce taxes on social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn, and Viber, on alleged grounds that people were using them mainly for gossip.

Chris Obore, director of communications and public affairs at Uganda’s Parliament, told Xinhua that the bill was passed to enable the government to raise revenues to offer social services.

“The bill originated from the executive which runs government. Parliament has passed it basing on the reasons the executive advanced in order to run government,” said Obore.

The proposed excise duty law, which takes effect from July 1, 2018, also imposes 1 percent levy on the mobile money transactions, which includes cash deposits and withdrawals using a mobile phone aimed at growing domestic budget financing.

Uganda has 23,529,290 mobile phone subscribers, according to the recent report of the Ugandan Communications Commission.


Zimbabwe to end voter registration for July 30 elections  

HARARE, (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said Wednesday voter registration for the July 30 national polls ends on June 1.

ZEC chairperson Priscilla Chigumba said changes to the recently promulgated Electoral Act stipulate that voter registration closes two days after proclamation of the election date.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday set July 30, 2018 as the date for national polls to choose the President, National Assembly members and councilors.

“It therefore means that the registration of voters for the purposes of the 2018 harmonized elections shall close on June. 1 2018,” she said.

“However those that are going to register after the cut-off date will be considered for future elections,” she added.

Voter registration started in September last year and about 5.4 million people have so far registered to vote in the July 30 election.

Chigumba said the two-days until June 1 would afford those who failed to inspect the voters’ roll from May 19 to 29 a chance to do so.

ZEC was ready for the elections whose budget is 198 million U.S. dollars, Chigumba said.

She added that the electoral body had identified regional companies that will supply ballot papers and ink to be used in the voting process.

The electoral body would also provide the final voters’ roll to candidates who will have successfully filed their names to contest in the elections.  


UN, South Sudan launch strategy to fight HIV/AIDS

JUBA, (Xinhua) -- The United Nations agency in charge of fighting HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and South Sudan have launched a five-year strategic plan to halt new infections and deaths linked to the disease.

Lula Simon Lola, chairman of South Sudan network for people living with HIV/AIDs, said many people living with the disease lack access to quality medical care because of the economic crisis and insecurity engulfing the country.

Lola hailed the UN strategy, which was launched on Thursday, saying its speedy implementation accompanied by adequate funding will offer hope to people living with HIV/Aids.

“If the funds are availed, we can really meet the target of universal testing and treatment,” said Lola.

Everline Lato, who works at an organization called national empowerment for HIV-positive Women united, expressed gratitude to the UN and government for coming up with a plan to guide the country to respond to its treatment and prevention.

“We now have the direction to help anyone who come to seek medical advice and treatment will not struggle to get the required assistant since they will be guided by this plan,” said Lato.

Speaking at the launch of the UN strategy, South Sudan’s vice president James WaniIgga told the gathering that the government is committed to fight HIV/AIDs but lack adequate funding.

“South Sudan is the most under-funded country in regard to HIV/AIDs program. As a government we are doing our level best to finance HIV/AIDs intervention in the country although we have our own limitations,” Igga said.

Michelle Sidibe, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, said the plan is to strengthen response to HIV prevalence in the east African nation.

“Today we are talking about 25,000 or more on treatment. Few years ago, we were having less than 30 people in treatment so this is a good progress. We will continue to strengthen our response to HIV prevalence in the country,” Sidibe remarked.

South Sudan’s national AIDS commission chair, Estereno Novello said the government recognized HIV as one of the most formidable challenges in the country.

“I urge the UNAIDS leadership to advocate for an increase of resources to enable us implement the country’s national strategic plan to strengthen the availability of strategic information such as aids indicators survey which we have not done since independence,”

South Sudan’s AIDS commission estimates a 2.7 percent national HIV/AIDS prevalence while only about 25,000 people in the country are currently on treatment. 


Tanzania set to amend laws to allow HIV self-testing

DAR ES SALAAM, (Xinhua) -- The government of Tanzania plans to review relevant laws to allow for HIV self-testing and enable persons undergoing the testing to interpret diagnostic results in private, a senior official said on Thursday.

The new system aims to help reduce challenges in the current form of testing whereby many people fear going public, the Minister for Health, Ummy Mwalimu, told parliament in the capital Dodoma.

Mwalimu said the ministry has written to the Attorney General, recommending that the laws be reviewed to allow self-testing since the laws do not currently allow that.

“As we move to the new way of testing for HIV, my office has written to the AG’s office for the amendment of the law to allow self-testing which is likely to have very big impact in the country,” she told the House.

Mwalimu said the government will soon launch a public drive for men to voluntarily go for HIV testing, saying that people should not fear testing since HIV/AIDS is no longer a “death sentence” because once found positive, a person can live longer while on drugs.

According to statistics by the Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS), Tanzania has an estimated 1.4 million people living with HIV/AIDS, but only 52 percent of them are aware of their condition.

The disease has mostly affected the youth aged between 14 and 25 years, according to the ACAIDS.


Kenya’s SGR train to hasten Africa’s rise as major power: expert

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- The Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) passenger train service whose first anniversary was celebrated on May 31 will be instrumental in propelling Africa’s rise as a global economic power, a Kenyan expert said Sunday.

Peter Kagwanja, CEO of Nairobi-based think tank Africa Policy Institute said in a commentary published by Sunday Nation Newspaper that the SGR project has revolutionized regional growth while placing the African continent in a vantage position to become an economic and industrial powerhouse.

“The project brings 21st century railroad technology to power the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063,” said Kagwanja.

“It eliminates the technological isolation and balkanization of the continent, thus defying the legacy of colonial era lines that had little regard for interconnection of the continent,” he added.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on May 31 last year launched the modern train to operate along the China-funded 480-km railway linking the port city of Mombasa to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Dubbed “Madaraka Express”, the SGR commuter service has over the last one year ferried an estimated 1.3 million passengers hence generating 11 million U.S. dollars.

Kagwanja hailed benefits unleashed by Madaraka Express that includes decongesting the highways while providing efficient, safer and faster means of transport for regular travelers, tourists and entrepreneurs.

He added that the railway project has reduced the cost of maintaining roads and air pollution that is linked to use of heavy commercial vehicles to transport cargo.

“The new railway network is supporting efforts to diversify the economy and enhance East Africa’s export potential. It has created an enabling environment for investments,” said Kagwanja.

“SGR is Africa’s most audacious railway project. Railways are linked to the rise of powers such as the United States, China and Russia,” Kagwanja remarked.

“In this sense, the new railway paves the way for Africa’s emergence as a major global power,” he added.


Deal signed to promote Angola’s tourism

LUANDA, (Xinhua) -- The Angola-China Chamber of Commerce (ACCC) signed a partnership agreement here on Friday with Angola’s tourism authorities and a local bank to promote the tourism sector in the African country.

Under the deal, Sol Bank would help facilitate the acquisition of foreign exchange to back Angolans who wish to do business in China and promote national tourism, said Coutinho Nobre Miguel, the president of Sol Bank, a privately-owned bank based in Luanda.

The agreement also aims to promote trade relations between Angola and China, taking into account the decline in business activity as Angola is currently undergoing economic and financial crises, Miguel told reporters.

Arnaldo Calado, chairman of the Angola-China Chamber of Commerce, said the agreement will strengthen tourism in Angola, stressing the Chinese have vast experience in the tourism sector and can easily adapt to the realities of other peoples, whether in the field of business or leisure.

The Angola-China Chamber of Commerce currently has 800 Angolan and 200 Chinese members and intends to expand to 50,000 members in the coming years.

Although the long-lasting civil war ended in 2012 in Angola, the country’s tourism sector is currently facing tough challenges, ranging from difficult visa procedures and high prices for hotel rooms to yellow fever outbreaks and street crime, according to media reports.

In December last year, Angolan State Minister for Economic and Social Development Manuel Nunes Junior said that Angola was open to establishing international partnerships to provide competitive and better tourism products to attract more tourists from around the world.

He also said that his country would work on simplifying visa procedures for international visitors.


Ethiopia’s next fiscal year budget to grow by 3.6 pct

ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) -- A draft budget bill approved by the Ethiopian Council of Ministers on Saturday showed a 3.6-percent increase for the next 2018-2019 Ethiopian fiscal year.

The bill, now tabled to the Ethiopian House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) for approval, provides 346.9 billion ETB (close to 12.56 billion U.S. dollars) budget for the coming fiscal year, up from 320.8 billion ETB for the current 2017-2018 fiscal year, state television Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) reported.

The bill is expected to fulfill the regional governments’ necessary requirements as well as for the federal government’s effective implementation of the second five-year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) of Ethiopia, due effective from 2015 to 2020.

The Ethiopian government’s priority areas during the GTP II include infrastructure, education, agriculture, water, and health constitutes 61 percent of the total budget allocation, according to Ethiopia’s finance ministry.

Despite a 3.6-percent increase, the next year’s budget has registered a decrease as compared with the current fiscal year’s budget in terms of its value due to the Ethiopian National Bank’s decision to devalue the Ethiopian birr (ETB) by 15 percent as of October last year.

The bill will be scrutinized by the HoPR’s, the Ethiopian parliament’s lower house, Budget and Finance Affairs Standing Committee before tabled to the parliament for approval. 


Zambia’s annual inflation increases to 7.8 pct in May

LUSAKA, (Xinhua) -- Zambia’s year-on-year inflation increased to 7.8 percent in May from 7.4 percent recorded in the previous month, its statistics agency said on Thursday.

“This means that on average prices of goods and services increased by 7.8 percent between May 2017 and May 2018,” Goodson Sinyenga, acting director of the Central Statistical Office (CSO) told reporters during a press briefing.

He attributed the increase in the annual inflation to price movements in food and transport.

According to figures, the year-on-year annual food inflation rate was recorded at 6.9 percent compared to 6.5 percent the previous month, indicating an increase of 0.4 percentage points while the year-on-year annual non-food inflation rate for May was record at 8.9 percent from 8.4 percent recorded last month.

The country also recorded an increase in the month-on-month inflation to 0.6 percent in May from 0.4 percent in April, he added.


Kenya begins transportation of export-oriented crude oil

TURKANA, Kenya, (Xinhua) -- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday flagged off the first consignment of crude oil destined for export from the East African nation under a pilot scheme.

Kenyatta flagged off trucks loaded with crude oil from the Turkana oil fields in northwest Kenya as part of the Early Oil Pilot Scheme (EOP).

“This flag-off event and the anticipated implementation of the Early Oil Pilot Scheme mark the beginning of a long and fruitful journey,” Kenyatta said.

Kenya has hoped the EOP scheme will establish the country as a crude oil exporter in the region and help gain information for future exploration and development.

Under the scheme, some 2,000 barrels of oil per day will be transported to Mombasa by road for eventual shipment.

The EOPS is being undertaken by the Kenyan government and the Kenya Joint Venture Partners comprising Tullow Oil, Africa Oil and Total Oil.

The East African nation struck oil in 2012 and has so far confirmed approximately 750 million barrels. Kenya is currently undertaking the EOPS before full field oil production commences in 2021.

Kenya in 2017 also signed an agreement for a feasibility study on a proposed pipeline to transport crude oil from the oilfields to Lamu.

Kenyatta said the initial petroleum exports will complement the country’s existing development projects under the Big Four Agenda, a five-year development plan to transform the lives of Kenyans through manufacturing, food security, universal health insurance and cheaper housing.

“My government will therefore focus on the development of our oil and gas sectors for the betterment of the economy and people,” Kenyatta said.

The president said the pilot scheme will also incentivize better road infrastructure in the region and spur electricity connectivity in Turkana. 

Kenya’s oil production has made it a front runner in the East African region that is eyeing a greater role in the global petroleum sector.

“With the discovery of oil and gas in Uganda and Tanzania and the ongoing explorations in Ethiopia and DRC, Kenya finds itself in the company of other resourceful African nations,” Kenyatta said.


Kenya unveils plans to revamp ailing cotton industry   

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenya has announced plans aimed at revamping its ailing cotton sector, a government official revealed on Saturday.

Charles Waturu, Director of Horticulture Research Institute at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), said the sub sector has potentials for the manufacturing industry that is one of the key development agendas of the government.

“We have plans to introduce the development of cotton production using hybrids, which will have three times the production yield,” Waturu said during a cotton stakeholders meeting in Nairobi.

He said the government has plans to give incentives to investors to build modern ginneries and textile manufacturing plants as part of the revival drive.

“We intend to increase revenue from textile industry from 35 million U.S. dollars to 20 billion dollars,” he added.

He said the East Africa country is also exploring the potential of application biotechnology and other plant breeding techniques to help produce quality seeds.

“We have a provisional commercialization of Bt cotton trials road map and has identified in the nine sites for National Performance Trials (NPTs),” he said.

Waturu noted that some 50,000 youths and women are to be trained and 5 million square feet of industrial sheds will be established in cotton-growing regions to boost production.

The scientist observed that additional 500,000 jobs will be created in the sub sector and 100,000 new clothes jobs by the year 2022.

“The cotton sub sector can be revived faster with the adoption of modern technology such as biotechnology,” said Edward Nguu, professor at the biochemistry department of University of Nairobi.

“Modern technologies are desirable because they are pest resistance, drought tolerance, cold tolerance and reduces the use of herbicides and chemicals in farming,” he added.

He noted that the technologies derived from authorized genetically-modified (GM) crops are as safe as conventional varieties and takes a shorter time to achieve desired results.

“Kenya’s cotton has been low in competition to the more efficient producers in India, China, Bangladesh and Vietnam,” said Dickson Kibata, Technical Advisor on fiber crops from to the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA).

Kibata said that the leading producers of cotton have in the past years developed integrated strategy that cuts across production and value addition to markets.

He attributed low production of cotton to high energy cost, low technology upgradation and competition from cheap imports.

“The sub sector has outmoded ginneries, spinning and weaving with only garmenting at the Export Promotion Zones (EPZ) which is modernized,” he noted.

He revealed that today, only 30,000 farmers are involved in cotton growing that produces 4,000 tonnes against the market demand of 25,000 tonnes, yet the country has the potential for 200,000 farmers as eligible growers.

Kibata revealed that AFA targets productivity efficiency of 2,500 kilograms per hectares in the future compared to the current 572 kilograms per hectares.

“We have started a national cotton classing system through the planting of conventional and hybrid seed varieties,” he noted.

Kibata said the Kenyan government is due to launch production of the commodity through irrigation with expectation of 35,000 bales expected to come from irrigation as well as adoption of Bt cotton that is expected to lower the cost of production by 40 percent.

He noted that the government recently appointed a 12-member task force to oversee commercialization of Bt-cotton.


Kenya says regional infrastructure projects on course

LAMU, Kenya, (Xinhua) -- Kenya said Thursday the construction of an ambitious Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPPSET) corridor project is well underway.

David Maringa, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, said Kenya is currently pursuing the development of the appropriate road infrastructure connections that will connect the port to the rest of the LAPSSET corridor as well as other parts of the country and outside.

“We are happy that the port construction has taken shape very well and it’s now at 42 percent complete. We appreciate the great support that the LAPSSET Corridor project has so far received from the local county and national governments plus all concerned agencies. I would like to say that we are all working together to deliver the port project,” Maringa told journalists in Lamu.

The Lapsset Corridor Project plan includes a 32-berth port, transportation hubs for rail, highway and international airports in Lamu, Isiolo and Lodwar, an oil pipeline from South Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia to Lamu Port, an oil refinery and three resort cities in Isiolo, Lamu and Turkana.

The entire port project is estimated to be worth 25 billion U.S. dollars, Maringa said, noting that the construction of the first three terminals is also underway with the first expected to be completed by end of June this year.

The other two berths in the initial phase are expected to be completed by end of the year 2022, according to Maringa. The entire three berths will cost 480 million dollars.

Sylvester Kasuku, the LAPSSET project Director General, said so far, 150 million dollars of the total budget had already been spent on design works and auxiliary facilities.

“The port construction project is taking shape very well and so far we have had to work within the confines of the plan. We have enough support from the government and other agencies,” said Kasuku.

He said the LAPSSET portends huge economic and industrial benefits for Kenya and the East Africa region, adding that the port will open up Kenya to more and bigger trade opportunities and investments in Africa and globally.

The construction of the port headquarters that cost 8.7 million dollars and a police station is already complete, Kasuku said.

The government expects the LAPSSET to have impact on the livelihoods of 166 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and other East African countries.

With the intervening discovery of economically viable oil deposits in Lokichar, Turkana along the LAPSSET corridor, the proposed refinery and oil based infrastructure will automatically be able to refine oil mined from Turkana.

It has been suggested that the Lamu basin has a potential of generating up to 3.7 billion barrels of oil. 


Ugandan car dealers welcome bill banning importation of vehicle over 15years old

KAMPALA, (Xinhua) -- Ugandan car dealers on Friday welcomed the proposed law banning the importation of cars manufactured more than 15 years ago.

Marvin Ayebale, secretary general of Associated Motor Dealers, said there must be a limit on every sort of junk coming into the country.

Chris Obore, the director of communications and public affairs at Uganda’s Parliament, told Xinhua that bill is aimed at promoting road safety.

“The essence (of the bill) is to regulate traffic and promote road safety in the country,” said Obore.

The East African country registers at least 20,000 accidents with over 2,000 deaths each year, making it one of the countries with the highest road accident fatality rates in the world, according to police figures.

The act exempts heavy vehicles such as breakdown lorries, crane lorries, road sweeper lorries, fire fighting vehicles, concrete mixer lorries, spraying lorries, mobile workshops and forklifts among others.

Armored vehicles, agricultural and forestry tractors will also be exempted.

KIGALI, (Xinhua) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (back, L) meets with his Rwandan counterpart Louise Mushikiwabo (back, R) in Kigali, Rwanda, on June 3, 2018. Sergey Lavrov arrived on Sunday morning in the Rwandan capital Kigali for one day official visit, intended to strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries. XINHUA PHOTO: GABRIEL DUSABE

Rwandans march against plastic pollution

KIGALI, (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of Rwandans on Sunday marched in the capital city of Kigali to encourage the public to join the effort to address plastic pollution.  

The march, organized by the ministry of environment through the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) is part of activities of the 2018 national environment week and World Environment Day due on June 5.

The “Beat Plastic Pollution Walk” offered a great opportunity to demonstrate Rwanda’s commitment to improving health and environment by ending the use of single-use plastics and addressing plastic waste, said REMA director general Coletha Ruhamya at the event.

Ruhamya urged Rwandans to reject using single-use plastics including plastic straws, cups, plates and bottles, and find sustainable alternatives.

Rwanda on May 29 launched the national environment week featuring different awareness activities aimed at addressing plastic pollution, such as countrywide inspection of the illegal use of plastic bags and exhibition on plastic recycling.

The event will be concluded on June 5 on World Environment Day.

For more than a decade, Rwanda has raised awareness about the benefits of life without plastic bags to maintain a clean and healthy environment.

In 2008, the landlocked country passed a law banning importation and use of polythene bags, which also stipulates heavy penalties for their use or smuggling them into the country.

REMA now encourages Rwandans to live without disposable plastics to make the world a better place for today and future generations. 


Botswana citizens lead the pack in tobacco use - official

GABORONE, (Xinhua) -- Botswana citizens use tobacco the most when compared with other highly populated African countries such as Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya, a senior official said on Thursday.

At an event marking the World No Tobacco Day in Francistown, Botswana’s second largest city, Permanent Secretary of Botswana’s Ministry of Health and Wellness Ruth Maphorisa said tobacco use in Botswana is severe.

Maphorisa said “17.6 percent people in Botswana currently use tobacco.”

According to the official, this is the highest rate among all African countries involved in the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) last year, including Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya.

Last year, Botswana undertook GATS, a study aimed at determining the impact of tobacco in the southern African nation.

According to Maphorisa, the survey established that 82.2 percent of the 17.6 percent tobacco users buy single sticks of cigarettes, indicating the affordability of cigarettes, which makes them easily accessible.

“Affordability and easy accessibility of cigarettes promote the buying of tobacco sticks on credit,” she said.

She further explained that the average monthly expenditure on tobacco per person is an estimated at 79.5 U.S. dollars, an amount that is more than the country’s minimum wage pegged at 40 U.S. dollars.

“The majority of those spending on tobacco are people in rural areas with no basic education who spend more than they earn on tobacco,” she said.

Due to the high use of tobacco in the country, Maphorisa said 7.5 percent of She further explained that the average monthly expenditure on tobacco per person is an estimated at 79.5 U.S. dollars, an amount that is more than the country’s minimum wage pegged at 40 U.S. dollars.

She said second-hand smoke is real within the communities of Botswana, saying it is more dangerous than active smoking.

According to a message released on Thursday by World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco kills over 7 million people each year despite a steady reduction in tobacco use globally.

WHO’s new Global Report in Prevalence of Tobacco Smoking 2000-2025 shows that worldwide, 27 percent people smoked tobacco in 2000 compared with 20 percent in 2016. 


Kenyan shilling dips 1.2 pct in May on high dollar demand 

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan shilling depreciated 1.2 percent against the U.S. dollar in May saddled by increased demand for the greenback.

The shilling declined from 100.40 at the end of April to 101.60 at the close of May, according to data from the Central Bank.

“The decline was mainly due to increased dollar demand by multinationals and importers towards the end of the month,” Cytonn, a Nairobi-based investment firm, noted in a brief Monday.

The bulk of the fall in May happened last week, where the Kenyan shilling depreciated by 0.5 percent against the dollar to close at 101.60 from 101.1 the previous week, mainly due to continued end-month dollar demand by oil importers.

However, on a year-to-date basis, the shilling has gained 1.6 percent against the dollar.

“In our view, the shilling should remain relatively stable against the dollar in the short-term, supported by stronger horticulture export inflows driven by increasing production and improving global prices and high forex reserves, currently at 9 billion dollars,” said Cytonn. 


Kenya’s Kipruto targets world record run in Monaco

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto of Kenya will make an attempt on the world record in Monaco in July.

The Commonwealth Games champion believes his career will be incomplete without the world record to his name as he wants to go an extra mile than his mentor Ezekiel Kemboi.

Speaking in Nairobi on Saturday, Kipruto, who also won the world title in London last year, says he has set the plan in motion and tested his fitness in Rome where he won in a season best time of 8:08:40 to beat Eugene, USA winner Benjamin Kibet (8:10.01) while Doha winner Chala Beyo (8:11.22) was third.

“The world record has been in my mind. I know I can run faster and I now have four weeks to focus on training before attempting the world record in the Monaco Diamond,” said Kipruto, who boasts a personal best of 8:00.12 from Birmingham in 2016. “I will put all of my effort in there. I’m ready for it.”

Kipruto said he started his season early and has been struggling to return to his best form.

He started off with win in Gold Coast after returning from injury and believes he was not ready for action in Shanghai where he failed to finish his 5,000m.

Kipruto also believes Kenya has a big reservoir of athletes who will be able to challenge for medals at the Africa Championships in Asaba, Nigeria.

Already 25 countries have confirmed participation in the premier track and field competition in the continent, in which the top two will secure direct qualification to the IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava, the Czech Republic in September.

Athletics giants South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya are all presenting large squads as they move to consolidate their dominant status on the continent.

South Africa are the defending champions – having won the last two editions hosted in Marrakech, Morocco; and Durban, South Africa.


Namibia, China to clash in Under-23 football friendlies

WINDHOEK, (Xinhua) -- Namibia’s under-23 football team heads to China on Friday ahead of two friendly matches on June 4 and 7.

According to the Namibia Football Association (NFA), the squad of 20 players will participate in preparatory games in China ahead of their 2019 African Under-23 finals qualifiers.

Head coach Timo Tjongarero said on Friday that the qualifying draw is still to be conducted and his team has to be ready for anything, hence the importance of the training camp in China.

“We are grateful for this invitation and the boys have been hard at work on the field going through the drills so that they can leave a mark in China,” he added. “It will be a learning experience as well and the team will enjoy playing to find the right combinations to see what can work for us before the real business begins.”

In recent years, Namibia has won the COSAFA Cup for southern African nations at senior and under-17 level, also reaching the quarterfinals of the African Nations Championship. Tjongarero says this current crop of players want to build on these achievements.

“Of the many friendly games the team has played thus far, the most notable one was on May 19 when we defeated the Tertiary Institutes Sports Association of Namibia 1-0.”

Meanwhile, Namibia’s dreams of participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be decided by a tournament to be held in Egypt in November and December 2019.

The event will see the top three teams qualifying automatically for the Olympic Games, with the fourth-place finisher competing in a playoff match against a team from the Asian Football Confederation.


Uganda’s Nakiyemba gets wildcard for 2018 World Badminton Championship

KAMPALA, (Xinhua) -- Uganda’s female player Aisha Nakiyemba is among the African players who have been given a wildcard to take part in the 2018 Badminton World Federation World Championship.

The event which will bring together the top players in the world will take place July 31-Aug. 5 at the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games Park Arena, China.

“I am happy to be among the players who have been considered for a wildcard to feature at the World Championship,” Nakiyemba who represented Uganda at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia told Xinhua on Thursday.

Besides Nakiyemba who is ranked 112 in the world in the women’s singles, Egypt’s Hadia Hosny is the other African player on the wildcard.

Africa’s top player who is also ranked 65 in the World, Kate Foo Kune is the only African women’s player who has gained direct entry to the Championship.

Uganda’s top men’s badminton player Edwin Ekiring who retired from the national team after the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games is the only Ugandan player ever to play in a World Championship in 2015 in Indonesia.




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