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CAPE ANGELA, (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on June 21, 2017 shows the sunset at the Cape Angela, known as the northernmost point of African continent, in Bizerte Governorate, Tunisia. XINHUA PHOTO: MENG TAO

Al-Shabaab militants pursued after killing 3 in northeast Kenya

MANDERA, Kenya, (Xinhua) -- Kenyan police on Friday launched a manhunt for four Al-Shabaab militants who killed three people in the northeast region of Mandera before escaping toward Somalia’s border.

Mandera County Commissioner Fredrick Shisia said the gunmen killed a police officer and two civilians outside a bank in Elwak town in Mandera County early Friday.

Shisia said about five gunmen who were in a private vehicle drove towards the Equity Bank before spraying bullets indiscriminately from inside their vehicle at around 8:30 a.m, killing three on the spot.

He said the attackers sped off after the killings towards Bula Haji neighbouring Somalia, adding that the police responded swiftly but that the assailants had escaped by the time they arrived. Elwak town is located seven kilometres from the Kenya-Somalia border.

Shisia said he suspects the Al-Shabaab militants were on a revenge mission after two of their top commanders were killed on Monday by the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF).

“The Al Shabaab might have been revenging on the killing of two of their top commanders by KDF inside Somalia. The commanders originate from Elwak,” Shisia said.

He said the Al-Shabaab militants are known to upscale attacks during the last ten days of Ramadan and especially during dates with odd numbers.

Regional Commissioner Mohamud Saleh said security officers have been dispatched to the area to pursue the attackers but no arrest has been made. He said the security officers are under firm instructions to search the attackers.

Meanwhile, two people are nursing their injuries at a local hospital after their vehicle ran over a bomb planted on the road.

Shisia said the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) went off as the vehicle with two occupants drove near it at about 9:30 am on Friday in Lafey Sub County.

“The windscreens of the vehicle were completely shattered down and two occupants of the vehicle seriously injured due to the impact of the blast,” Shisia said.

The government administrator called on road users to be careful while driving along the Lafey Mandera road as many IEDs targeting civilian and security officers have been planted in the past one month killing several people in different incidents.


Kenyan police nab 2 Nigerian drug suspects

MOMBASA, Kenya, (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s anti-narcotic detectives on Friday arrested two Nigerian drug barons and seized heroin worth 50,000 U.S. dollars in the coastal city of Mombasa.

The two—Chukwu James and Gageche Gold Patience—were arrested in dawn operation where heroin weighing 1.5 kilograms was impounded in an apartment within Nyali suburb.

Head of Anti-Narcotic Police Unit Hamis Massa said the drugs were smuggled from Tanzania.

“Acting on intelligence, we carried an operation and arrested the two with drugs stashed in suitcase. The two are wanted drug traffickers,” Massa said.

Massa said the two traveled from Nairobi to Mombasa to pick the consignment they intended to smuggle to Brussels. He said the suspects were on anti narcotic watch list for smuggling drugs from the country.

Massa said sample of the drugs were sent to the government for further analysis. “The two will be charged in court and later deported to their country where they are also wanted for trafficking narcotics,” Massa said.

In April, three Italian fugitives wanted by Interpol over drug and criminal related offenses were also deported.

The three, Mario Mele, Alberto Fulvio and Stefano Poli who were on Interpol’s Red Notice, were handed over to Italian authorities in Malindi and deported.

They were among twelve suspects arrested in Mombasa during a joint security operation.


International refugee summit opens in Uganda

KAMPALA, (Xinhua) -- An international refugee summit opened in Uganda on Friday with the aim of raising eight billion U.S. dollars to cater for refugees in the east African country over the next four years.

The meeting dubbed ‘Solidarity Summit’ is co-hosted by Uganda and the UN.

In attendance is the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, regional leaders, UN relief agencies among others.

Uganda is now Africa’s leading refugee-hosting country, having jumped from the eighth largest refugee-hosting country in the world in mid-2016 to the third largest today, after Turkey and Pakistan.

UN figures show that the country hosts more than 1.2 million refugees from neighboring countries like South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda, among others. Of these, more than 900,000 are from South Sudan.

Relief agencies say such numbers are placing excessive pressure on state and host community resources, especially social services like health and education.

Experts warn that Uganda’s refugee policy, which gives refugees land and allows them to work may be undermined because of the huge influx of refugees and limited funding.

The UN and Uganda are hoping to appeal to the international community to raise the required resources to avoid the refugee crisis from escalating.


1st LD Writethru: At least 3 killed by car bomb in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) -- At least three people were killed and several others injured in a suicide car bomb attack at a police station in Mogadishu on Thursday, the police confirmed.

A police officer at the scene said a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives inside the police station in Waberi district.

“I saw three dead bodies at the police station. The incident took place when the police officers were holding a meeting at the station,” said the officer who declined to be named.

The police officer said many people—both the police and civilians—have been injured in the latest attack in the Horn of Africa nation.

Witnesses said a local radio station, Radio Mustaqbal which is not far from the scene, was shut down immediately the bomb hit the police station.

The latest attack comes after 15 people were killed on Tuesday in a car bomb attack on a government building in Mogadishu that was claimed by Islamist insurgents.

However, the military group which frequently launches attacks in Mogadishu and other areas controlled by Somalia’s federal government, has not claimed responsibility for the latest attack.


Tanzania’s anti-narcotics agency nabs 20, seizing 168 bags of marijuana

ARUSHA, Tanzania, (Xinhua) -- Tanzania’s Drug Control and Enforcement Authority (DCEA) on Wednesday said it had arrested 20 people and seized 168 bags of marijuana in northern district of Arumeru during a one-week operation.

The suspects were arrested in one of the notorious villages for growing marijuana on the slopes of Mount Meru, the second after Mount Kilimanjaro.

Fredrick Kibute, DCEA’s intelligence commissioner, said his office in collaboration with other security agencies such as the National Service managed to accomplish the one-week operation on Wednesday morning.

He said that they managed to arrest the suspects after being tipped off by good citizens on large consignment of cannabis.

According Kibute, all the 20 suspects are from a remote village of Losinoni, which is popular for growing marijuana in Arusha Region.

“It was a very hard task due to geographical location of the village as it’s located in the mountainous and sloppy areas on the slopes of Mount Meru,” he said.

He, however warned the villagers to refrain from growing marijuana, one of the prohibited crops in Tanzania.

Since August last year, authorities in Arumeru launched operation against marijuana farming, transporting and selling.

So far, 22 villages have declared to stop the business and instead started venturing into maize, sunflower and pyrethrum farming because of good climatic conditions and soil.


Congo peacekeepers pulled out of CAR after scathing UN report on sexual abuse

UNITED NATIONS, (Xinhua) -- A UN investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by the Republic of Congo peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (CAR) finds “systemic problems” and Brazzaville officials are withdrawing military personnel serving in the UN Mission in CAR (MINUSCA), the UN said here Wednesday.

“The Secretariat is working with the Republic of Congo and MINUSCA on the modalities for a speedy withdrawal that will have the least impact on the mission’s operational requirements and ability to implement its mandate,” said a “Note to correspondents on MINUSCA” released at UN Headquarters.

Allegations of several cases of sexual abuse and exploitation, involving minors in the conflict-ridden CAR were investigated beginning last year. The abuse reports alleged military peacekeepers in the CAR sexually abused victims, sometimes demanding sex in trade for protection or supplies.

“The review of the deployment of uniformed military personnel from the Republic of Congo found that the nature and extent of existing allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, in their totality, point to systemic problems in command and control,” the UN investigation showed.

“These problems have also been compounded by issues related to the preparedness, overall discipline, maintenance of contingent-owned equipment, and logistical capacity of these troops,” it said.

“The outcome of the review has been shared with the authorities of the Republic of Congo, who have decided to withdraw their military personnel deployed in MINUSCA.”

The note explicitly ruled out police peacekeepers from being involved in the allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation, saying “The police contingent will be retained.”

“The United Nations stands ready to assist the Republic of Congo authorities by identifying factors in the areas of leadership and command, performance, conduct and readiness, to enable them to address these gaps and for Republic of Congo military contingents to be eventually considered for future deployment to UN peacekeeping operations,” the note said.

“The Republic of Congo authorities have been requested to urgently inform the United Nations of accountability measures they have taken regarding the one substantiated allegation of sexual abuse involving a Republic of Congo police personnel,” the note said.

Peacekeepers accused of wrongdoing while assigned to UN missions routinely are withdrawn to their home countries where they are supposed to go on trial or receive military discipline depending on the seriousness of the allegations against them.


Chinese, Ethiopian FMs meet on bilateral issues

ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) -- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with his Ethiopian counterpart, Workneh Gebeyehu, on bilateral relations here on Wednesday.

Wang noted that China and Ethiopia upgraded their relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation in May when Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn was in China for the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

The advancement reflected the high level of bilateral relations and charted the future course for China-Ethiopian relations, the Chinese foreign minister said.

Practical cooperation between China and Ethiopia is at the front of China-African mutually beneficial cooperation and has made significant achievements, he added.

China is ready to implement the consensus between Chinese and Ethiopian leaders, hold fast to the idea of joint construction of the “Belt and Road”, give full play to the exemplary role of China-Africa cooperation in industry capacity, and implement the “10 major China-Africa cooperation plans”, to strengthen political mutual support and deepen practical cooperation in various fields, he said.

China also stands ready to build an economic corridor along the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway and expand cooperation with Ethiopia in human resource development and strengthen communication and coordination on global and regional affairs, so as to inject new content to their comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation, he said.

The Ethiopian foreign minister said Ethiopia-China relations are very important and of strategic significance.

The Belt and Road Initiative Forum for International Cooperation has provided an important opportunity for the expansion of cooperation in all fields between Ethiopia and China, and Africa and China, said Workneh.

Workneh said his country thanks China for its strong support and assistance to Ethiopia’s efforts to realizing economic transformation.

Ethiopia is willing to join efforts with China to expand mutually beneficial cooperation in such areas as economy, security, infrastructure, human resources and aviation, he said.

ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) -- Ethiopian Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu ® meets with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Addis Ababa June 21, 2017.  XINHUA PHOTO: MICHAEL TEWELDE

EU contributes 2 mln Euros to respond to South Sudan refugee crisis in Uganda

KAMPALA, (Xinhua) -- The European Union’s relief agency has contributed 2 million Euros towards emergency nutrition and education response to the South Sudanese refugee crisis in Uganda.

European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) said in a joint statement on Wednesday that the money would go towards supporting the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (Unicef) response to the major nutrition and education needs of children within both refugee and host communities.

According to UN figures, over 750,000 South Sudanese refugees have arrived in Uganda since July 2016, with over 950,000 South Sudanese refugees now in the country since the beginning of the South Sudan crisis in December 2013.

Aida Girma, Unicef’s Representative in Uganda said considering that 56 percent of the refugees are children, children are the face of the South Sudanese refugee crisis in Uganda.

A recent food security and nutrition assessment conducted in the refugee hosting districts shows high malnutrition rates, stunted development due to chronic malnutrition and high levels of anemia among children and women. 

Uganda and the UN are this week scheduled to host an international refugee conference dubbed Solidarity Summit.

The meeting is aimed at raising over 8 billion dollars that would be used over the next four years to cater for the refugees in Uganda.

Uganda is now Africa’s leading refugee-hosting country, having jumped from the eighth largest refugee-hosting country in the world in mid-2016 to the third largest today, after Turkey and Pakistan.


Tanzanian president orders repossession of dormant privatized industries

DAR ES SALAAM, (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Thursday ordered authorities to repossess formally state-owned industries sold to private investors who had failed to develop them.

The president specifically ordered the Minister for Industries, Trade and Investments, Charles Mwijage, to repossess the dormant industries and re-allocate them to serious investors.

“The government sold about 197 industries to private investors with a view to developing them but most of them are dormant or changed their use,” said Magufuli at the end of his three-day official tour of the Coast region.

“Make sure these dormant industries are repossessed by the government and sold to other serious investors. They can not remain idle while the government is pushing for the industrialization drive,” the president told the minister.

Magufuli made the order shortly after he had laid the foundation stone for the construction of a fruit processing plant at Chalinze with the capacity of processing 300 tonnes of fruits a day, employing 800 people. The 54-million plant will be built by a Tanzanian national.

In November 2015, the government summoned investors who bought public farms and factories in a new bold move to review the largely failed privitization of state-owned entities.

The government said in a statement that some of the investors had not developed the privatized firms as agreed, lacked investment plans, changed the use without permission or vandalized machinery while some owners had not paid for the said properties.

Magufuli pledged during his presidential campaign in 2015 to revisit the privatization plan as part of his plan to revive the country’s ailing industrial sector and boost employment.

He said if he won, his administration would not hesitate to repossess failed ventures and return them to public ownership or give out to serious new investors.

Magufuli said quick industrial development was a key element in the 2015-2020 ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) manifesto.


S. African Competition Tribunal fines cable dealer 1 mln USD for collusion

JOHANNESBURG, (Xinhua) -- As South Africa continues with crackdown on anti-competitive behavior, Competition Tribunal on Wednesday slapped a fine of about one million U.S. dollars on the South Ocean Electric Wire Company (SOEW) for price fixing, market division and collusive tendering.

The company agreed that in November 2003 and November 2012 they took part in price fixing, market division and collusive tendering. The Competition Commission first lodged a complaint with the Tribunal in March 2010.

The investigations by the Commission revealed that companies in the wire cable supply section had come to an agreement to divide the markets and fix the prices.

Chantelle Benjamin, spokesperson of the Competition Tribunal said, “The Competition Tribunal has confirmed the administrative penalty of 10 percent of SOEW’s annual turnover for the financial year ending February 2010. SOEW has admitted that it agreed, alternatively engaged in a concerted practice, with Abedare Cables to divide the market between 2001 and 2007.”

The Commission found that Alvern Cables, Tulisa Cable, Aberdare Cable and SOEW had fixed the selling price of power cables to wholesalers, distributors and original equipment manufacturers (OEMS) between 2001 and 2010.

SOEW and other power cable manufacturers through decisions by the Association of Electric Cable Manufactures fixed the selling price of power cables by using a price adjustment formula which it circulated to members monthly. This was in contravention of the Competition Act.

Price fixing is common in South Africa with the Commission taking a hard stance on those taking part in uncompetitive behavior. 


Rwanda launches this year’s mountain gorilla naming activities

KIGALI,  (Xinhua) -- Rwanda Development Board (RDB) Wednesday announced here the launch of mountain gorilla naming activities, locally called Kwita Izina ahead of the event scheduled on September 1.

This year marks the 13th edition of the annual flagship event in Rwanda’s conservation that brings together conservation enthusiasts from all over the world to celebrate Rwanda’s success in protecting an endangered species.

The theme of this year is “conservation and sustainable tourism, a foundation for future generations,” confirming the country’s focus in enhancing awareness on sustainably maintaining biodiversity.

“Rwanda’s conservation journey has been more rewarding within the past decade, because of the involvement of local communities within the entire tourism and conservation industry to uphold responsibility and sustainability to biodiversity,” said Belise Kariza, the Chief Tourism Officer of RDB.

Kariza announced planned activities for Kwita Izina week with a call to action for the public and all key stakeholders to participate in these activities and continue driving the discourse on sustainable tourism, leaving a stamp for future generations.

The week-long event will be initiated by the Gala Dinner on August 26, where industry leaders will come together to celebrate and support Rwanda’s conservation success and raise funds for conservation project which is Volcanoes National Park Conservation Easement.

This will be followed by Conservation and Tourism Exhibition on August 27 and 28, targeting the public and industry stakeholders to showcase diverse tourism products in the region and host education displays.

The Conversation on Conservation that annually brings together leading experts to deliberate Africa’s common conservation challenges will also take place from August 28 to 29.

RDB is committed to continuing to leverage on platforms such as Kwita Izina, by joining hands with experts in conservation to ensure the long-term sustainability of an endangered species, it said.

Gorilla tourism remains the backbone of Rwanda’s tourism and conservation industry. Since the initial launch of Kwita Izina in 2005, a total of 239 mountain baby gorillas have been named, according to RDB. 

Rwanda also seeks to enforce the domestic tourism campaign following Kwita Izina, a mini draw promotion event will be held on July 4, where lucky winners will be gifted with an opportunity to visit the gorillas in November.


S. Sudan lifts ban on foreign journalists

JUBA, (Xinhua) -- South Sudan’s media regulatory body on Thursday lifted ban on foreign journalists to allow them to operate in the country and pledged to allow unhindered media coverage of the war-torn country, an official said.

Alfred Taban, head of Information Committee for Steering Committee for the National Dialogue said the leadership of the South Sudan Media Authority has agreed to relax the restrictions imposed on foreign journalists to allow the media wider coverage of the ongoing national dialogue, the humanitarian crisis and issues of concern to the public.

Taban, who also heads the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS), added that the media authority further pledged to ease conditions for acquiring media accreditation permits.

“I took up the issue of banning foreign journalists from the country with the Media Authority and they promised me that this (ban) has been suspended. So now if somebody wants to come, there will be no question (of) somebody being denied Visa because that has been cleared,” Taban said during a meeting with diplomats and UN envoys.

The South Sudan Media Authority recently said it had banned at least 20 foreign journalists from media coverage in the country for what it termed “unsubstantiated and unrealistic stories”.

But the media regulatory body failed to name the journalists or media outlets affected by the ban.

The ban attracted condemnation from the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS), the Foreign Correspondents Association of East Africa (FCAEA) and Reporters without Borders (RWB).

Elija Alier, the Managing Director of the Media Authority on Thursday denied imposing any ban on foreign journalists entering South Sudan, adding that the body would continue to ease entry and work of foreign media in the East African nation.

“We have never stopped foreign journalists from coming (to South Sudan) and they will continue coming. As media authority, we will continue giving them permits,” Alier told Xinhua by phone.


Breastfeeding may reduce mother’s heart attack, stroke risk: study

WASHINGTON, (Xinhua) -- Breastfeeding is not only healthy for babies, it may also reduce a mother’s risk of having a heart attack or stroke later in life, according to a new study of 300,000 Chinese women published Wednesday.

Those who breastfed their babies had about a 10 percent lower risk of developing heart disease or stroke compared to those who did not, and the longer they breastfed, the greater effects they had, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

“The findings should encourage more widespread breastfeeding for the benefit of the mother as well as the child,” study co-author Zhengming Chen, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Oxford, said in a statement.

“The study provides support for the World Health Organization’s recommendation that mothers should breastfeed their babies exclusively for their first six months of life,” Chen said.

Previous studies have suggested that mothers get short-term health benefits from breastfeeding, such as weight loss and lower cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose levels after pregnancy. However, the long-term effects of breastfeeding on the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases in mothers are unclear.

In the new study, researchers from the University of Oxford, the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking University studied 300,000 Chinese women aged 30 to 79 years, as part of a large prospective cohort study called the China Kadoorie Biobank, which provided detailed information about their reproductive history and other lifestyle factors.

After eight years of follow-up, there were 16,671 cases of coronary heart disease which includes heart attacks, and 23,983 stroke cases among the 290,000 women who had no previous history of cardiovascular disease when enrolled in the study.

The researchers found that compared to women who had never breastfed, mothers who breastfed their babies had a nine percent lower risk of heart disease and an eight percent lower risk of stroke.

Among mothers who breastfed each of their babies for two years or more, heart disease risk was 18 percent lower and stroke risk was 17 percent lower than among mothers who never breastfed.

Each additional six months of breastfeeding per baby was associated with a four percent lower risk of heart disease and a three percent lower risk of stroke, the researchers said.

“Although we cannot establish the casual effects, the health benefits to the mother from breastfeeding may be explained by a faster ‘reset’ of the mother’s metabolism after pregnancy,” said study co-author Sanne Peters, research fellow at the University of Oxford.

“Pregnancy changes a woman’s metabolism dramatically as she stores fat to provide the energy necessary for her baby’s growth and for breastfeeding once the baby is born. Breastfeeding could eliminate the stored fat faster and more completely,” Peters added.  Enditem


Kenya deworms over 6 mln school-age children

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s education ministry said Thursday it has dewormed six million school-age children between six and 14 years to help boost academic excellence and health of children.

The five-year deworming program, which was launched in 2012, targeted five million children every year.

Principal Secretary for Education Belio Sang said the program has improved health and nutritional incidents that has increased enrollment and stabilized attendance among pupils.

“School-based deworming has been carried out successfully over the last four years and peaked last year when more than 6.4 million children in over 16,000 primary schools were reached,” the PS said.

Kenya has made significant progress in reducing the burden of parasitic worms among school children. The government has implemented previous school based deworming programmes targeting high burden counties.

“The successes of the program have been unmatched and it is no surprise that the country is seen as a model for other countries to learn from. Having a program exceed its target year after year can only be attributed to effective partnerships with dedicated stakeholders,” Belio said.

The program is initiated and managed at the national level but is implemented at the county level with personnel from the respective ministries of education and health playing a joint leadership role in ensuring that the agenda is executed in every school within the targeted treatment areas.

Treatment takes place in schools across susceptible areas endemic for parasitic worm after selection of these areas has been determined according to World Health Organization (WHO) criteria.

The two types of worms treated by the program are soil-transmitted helminths (common worms) and schistosomes which cause bilharzia.


Africa needs to put youth at center of development policies: AU official

KIGALI, (Xinhua) -- With about 35 percent of the youth in Africa without access to decent work, governments need to ensure that the youth are better organized to be more productive and contribute to national development, an African Union (AU) official said Wednesday in Kigali, capital city of Rwanda.

Governments across the continent need to review their education and training programs to ensure that the youth learn relevant skills to get jobs, said Minata Samate Cessouma, Commissioner for Political Affairs at the AU Commission at the Africa Public Service Day celebrations.

The celebrations attracted more than 500 participants.

Opening the conference, Rwanda’s Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi, talked of the need to empower the youth for socio-economic development.

To help African youth raise their productive capacities, governments must provide trainings that match labor market opportunities and commit to deliver public services with integrity, excellence, and professionalism, he said.

The day is celebrated on June 23 annually at national level by AU member states to appreciate the work done by the public service.

The Africa Public Service Day is also marked every two years at a continental level and hosted by one of AU member countries.

This year’s event was organized under the theme “entrenching a citizen-centered service delivery culture: partnering with the youth for Africa’s transformation.”

Deliberations are conducted around four main themes including how to entrench a citizen-centered public service delivery by involving youth for the continent’s transformation.

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on June 21, 2017 shows that a train with relief food reaches Kenya’s capital Nairobi through the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railways(SGR). China on Wednesday officially handed over the first batch of 100,000 bags of relief food to Kenya for distribution to hunger-stricken citizens. XINHUA PHOTO: LI BAISHUN

Namibia’s economy contracts 2.7 pct in Q1

WINDHOEK, (Xinhua) -- Namibia’s poor performance in the construction, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade and hotels sectors resulted in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first quarter of the year contracting by 2.7 percent compared to a 4.1 percent growth registered in 2016, according to the Namibia Statistics Agency.

In a quarterly GDP update on economic statistic released on Thursday, NSA Statistician General, Alex Shimuafeni said the mentioned sectors contracted by 44.9 percent, 10.7 percent, 7.4 percent and 9.3 percent in real value added, respectively.

“Furthermore, slower growths were observed in sectors such as financial intermediation, transport and communications and fishing sectors that registered 0.1 percent, 0.7 percent and 4.6 percent in real value added, respectively,” he added.

Despite the slow growth, Shimuafeni said sectors such as agriculture, mining and quarrying recorded double digit growth of 10.5 percent and 16.8 percent compared to the contractions recorded in the corresponding period.

“The water and electricity sector also posted strong growths of 6.1 percent compared a marginal growth of 0.3 percent in real value added registered in the same quarter of 2016,” he added.


Egypt heightens security alert ahead of post-Ramadan festival

CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- Egypt has put its security forces on high alert ahead of post-Ramadan celebrations, vowing to foil any attempt to sabotage public safety, the official MENA news agency reported Thursday.

Egyptian Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar has issued directives to security agencies to take “decisive measures to foil any attempt to mar Eid al-Fitr celebrations,” a security source was quoted as saying.

The Eid al-Fitr is the festival that Muslims worldwide celebrate the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.

Gahaffar has finalized a security plan over the past two days, including ordering increased security measures in vital facilities, requesting the ministry’s leadership inspect security measures during Eid al-Fitr.

Mobile and fixed security convoys will be deployed alongside bomb squads in public places, including parks and shopping malls, the source added.

Egypt has suffered from several major terror attacks in recent months, including the two bombing attacks against Coptic Christian churches in Tanta and Alexandria in April and the ambush of a bus carrying Coptic Christians in south of Cairo in late May.

About four dozens of people were killed in the two bombings in April, and 26 others died in the bus attack in May. Egypt has declared a three-month state of emergency since April and launched airstrikes against terrorists’ targets in Libya to retaliate for the terror attacks.


Deforestation is Ghana’s leading environmental challenge: minister

ACCRA, (Xinhua) -- Deforestation was among leading challenges in Ghana’s natural resource management, a senior official said late Wednesday. 

John Peter Amewu, the western African nation’s Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, said deforestation was causing loss of forest cover in the country at a very high rate. 

Addressing an environmental symposium, he said environmental degradation has resulted in severe impact of climate change patterns, including temperature rise, unpredictable rainfall patterns, long periods of drought and low agricultural productivity. 

“In spite of the numerous benefits we derive from the forest, Ghana’s timber and non-timber resources are being over-exploited and continue to decline in both quantity and quality,” said the minister. 

He said the government will reverse the decline in the natural and environmental resources of the country by addressing the major drivers of deforestation and forest degradation. 

“Our traditional authorities who are custodians of the land have a big role to play in complementing the efforts of state institutions in addressing environmental degradation,” said Amewu. 

He said some of the measures the government has adopted included promotion of sustainable mining and reclamation of degraded mined-out landscapes and policy review to ensure favorable tree tenure for farmers.

Prof. Peter Acquah, a natural resource expert, said the environmental degradation was also affecting the health status of Ghanaians. 

Using examples from America, Europe and other African countries, the expert urged the Ghanaian authorities to reclaim their water bodies that have been massively polluted, including the Odaw River in the capital Accra.


Maasai living in northern Tanzania’s sanctuary to be issued with electronic ID

ARUSHA, Tanzania, (Xinhua) -- Pastoral communities living within the northern Tanzania’s sanctuary of Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) will soon be issued with electronic identity cards, a move that seeks to control the number of people entering the conservation area.

The exercise, which will be supplemented by the marking of livestock in the area, seeks to establish the actual number of human beings and livestock within the NCA.

The initiative will not only spare the eighth wonder of the world from human activities but also help the government ascertain the demand for social services in the district.

Giving an update on the upcoming human beings and livestock census in the area on Wednesday, Chief Conservator with Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), Freddy Manongi said his office will issue IDs to the pastoral communities in a bid to thwart strangers entering the conservation area.

“Once we are done with the census we will definitely issue the residents with special identity cards which will only be given to legitimate residents,” he said.

According to Manongi, the 178,800 U.S. dollars exercise which will begin on July 1 this year, seeks to lock out intruders who come to graze their livestock from neighboring countries like Kenya.

Through the process, the NCAA will also establish a Lands Plan Commission in the area.

“This is a very important step towards development, we have had cases of impostors disguising as Maasais hailing from this area thus inconveniencing the provision of social services in the area,” Manongi explained.

The process will also ascertain legitimate residents of NCA who have been residing in the area since 1959.

The NCAA’s decision comes hardly seven months after Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa directed the NCAA to conduct a census on human beings and livestock coexisting with wild animals in the area.

During his tour of the NCA in December last year, the premier expressed concern over the increase of human activities near the Ngorongoro crater and its negative effects on the wildlife ecosystem.

He directed the NCAA to inscribe livestock with special marks once the count is completed.

Earlier on, the chairperson of Ngorongoro Pastoralists Council, Edward Maura expressed his concern over the much-touted census, saying it was bent on locking out some of the legitimate residents in the area.

The firebrand chairperson disclosed before the NCAA officials and fellow pastoral council’s members that there were reports of people being targeted in the exercise.

He recommended a formation of an independent commission comprised of seven Maasai elders, two officials from the NCAA office and two District Commissioner’s office to assist in identifying strangers and legitimate residents during the census which is planned to be conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

“At the moment, there are fears of some genuine residents to be evicted; that is why we want a free and a fair commission,” Maura said.

But on his part, Ngorongoro District Commissioner, Rashid Taka allayed such fears, saying the exercise will not target anyone living within the NCA, and urged the residents to cooperate while NBS move from one household to the other counting people.

“You shouldn’t be worried, let the statisticians do their work,” Taka said.

According to Taka, the census will extend to Loliondo and Sale, areas greatly inhabited by pastoralists.

On numerous occasions, scientists have warned against increased human population, grazing pressure, the spread of invasive species and poaching within the NCAA, saying such practices may soon wipe out the tourist attraction from world wonders.

Established in 1959 as a multiple land use area, with wildlife coexisting with semi-nomadic Maasai pastoralists practicing traditional livestock grazing, the NCA includes the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest caldera. 


Tanzanian president rules out allowing pregnant teens back to school

DAR ES SALAAM, (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Thursday defied appeals by some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to send back to school pregnant girls after their delivery, saying that will never happen in his administration.

Addressing a rally in Bagamoyo district at the end of his three-day official visit to the Coast region, Magufuli scolded the NGOs that have been pushing the government to allow teen mothers back to school.

“These NGOs are being used by their foreign agents,” said the president.

He said schoolgirls who were impregnated could engage in other undertakings after they had given birth, including joining the Vocational Education Training Authority centers where they can learn skills like sewing.

“They should not expect going back to school under my administration,” Magufuli said, adding that if allowed back to school, they could encourage others to engage in unprotected sex.

Some NGOs have of late been pressuring the government to allow teen mothers back to school.

Some of them have urged the government to formulate a legal framework that would allow teenage mothers to resume studies after giving birth.

HakiElimu, a non-profit civil society organization, said recently that early pregnancy among schoolgirls was some of the factors behind schoolgirls’ failure to finish their studies.

A study carried out by the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences revealed that pregnancy was one of the major reasons for school dropout among teenage girls in the East African nation.

In 2007, pregnancy accounted for 21.9 percent of secondary schools dropout, said the study, adding that Mtwara region in south of the country was one of the leading areas in Tanzania for teenage pregnancy.

The study showed that school dropout caused by pregnancy increased from 5.2 percent in 2003 to 21.9 percent in 2017.


Tanzania to promote tourist attractions in southern circuit

DAR ES SALAAM, (Xinhua) -- Tanzania said Thursday that it has embarked on a vigorous campaign aimed at promoting tourist attractions in its southern circuit.

Ramo Makani, Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, told parliament that the southern circuit boasts immense tourist attractions that were largely unknown outside the country.

“Our southern circuit promotion campaign will involve using diverse international media to expose the country’s tourist potential to the world,” the deputy minister told the House.

Makani said the government has also directed all district executive directors to identify tourists’ attractions in their areas of jurisdiction for promotion.

A new report released a fortnight ago rated Tanzania’s tourism industry as one of the fastest growing sectors in the country with figures showing a surge on tourist arrivals.

Alloyce Nzuki, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, said the 2016 International Visitors’ Exit Survey Report indicated that the number of tourists who visited the country continued to rise.

He said the report showed that Tanzania hosted at least 1,284,279 tourists in 2016, an increase of 12 percent from 1,137,156 in 2015.

Tourism is Tanzania’s largest foreign exchange earner since 2012, contributing an average of 2 billion U.S. dollars annually, which is equivalent to 25 percent of all exchange earnings, according to government data.

Tourism also contributes to more than 17 percent of the national GDP, and creating more than 1.5 million jobs.


Burundian police accuse Rwanda of abducting a Burundian fisherman

BUJUMBURA, (Xinhua) -- A Burundian fisherman was Wednesday morning abducted by Rwandan soldiers at Ruhwa in Cibitoke on the Burundi-Rwanda border post, a Burundian police spokesman said Wednesday.

“The fisherman known as Jackson Ndayikengurukiye was abducted at about 07:30 in the morning. Rwandan soldiers shot five bullets from the Rwandan territory and two Burundian men who were doing fishing activities in the River Ruhwa got scared. One of them, Jackson Ndayikengurukiye, ran away on Rwanda’s side and the other ran on Burundi’s side,” Burundian Police Spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said.

According to him, the Burundian fisherman who ran on the Rwandan side was captured and “abducted” by Rwandan soldiers.

Nkurikiye said authorities from both countries have started talks to bring back the Burundian national “alive”, adding that gunshots had been heard Tuesday from the Rwandan territory around 21:30 by Burundian citizens living near the common border.

In recent months, over six Burundian nationals were killed by Rwandan soldiers after the Rwandan army accused them of illicitly entering the Rwandan territory from Burundi’s Cibitoke and Kirundo provinces.

Relations between Burundi and Rwanda have deteriorated after Burundi accused Rwanda of hosting and supporting perpetrators of the May 13, 2015 coup plot against Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza.


Chinese-invested steel factory launched in eastern Tanzania

ARUSHA, Tanzania,  (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Wednesday launched the Chinese-invested steel factory Kiluwa Steel Group, located in the eastern district of Kibaha.

Speaking at its official launch, President Magufuli commended the Chinese investors for choosing Tanzania as their investment destination in the east African region, calling other foreign investors to follow suit.

He described the new Chinese investment as important as it is part and parcel of the government-driven industrialization agenda.

Magufuli said: “This is an important project for Tanzania as it produces quality iron bars that meet the international standard as they are used in any bridge across the globe.”

He discouraged the tendency of importing raw materials from other countries when in Tanzania there is a big deposit of iron ore in Mchuchuma area of the southern part of the country.

“I am aware of the challenge with our iron ore, as it is mixed with titanium and vanadium so the iron is combined with the two elements. These two elements have value than iron ore, I urge Tanzanian experts to find ways of separating the elements so that we get pure iron ore which is fit for iron bar production. This will also reduce the cost of importing to our investors,” Magufuli suggested. 

The Kiluwa Steel Group located in Mlandizi area of Kibaha District in Coast Region has the capacity of producing 300,000 tonnes iron bars per year in the first phase.

In the second phase, the plant will produce an average of 1,200,000 tonnes of iron bars per year.

Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania Lu Youqing congratulated the factory’s launching, saying it will contribute to China-Tanzania cooperation.

The factory is linked with 3.5-km railway line from Tanzania Railway Ltd., at an advantageous point for the transport of raw materials and final products to the market. 


Ghana adopts new business-friendly policy initiatives: president

ACCRA, (Xinhua) -- Ghanaian President Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo said on Wednesday his government had put policy initiatives in place to bring relief to and encourage businesses.

The initiatives include measures to stimulate the private sector, a monetary policy that will stabilize the national currency and reduce significantly the cost of borrowing, in addition to a raft of tax cuts.

“These interventions are already lowering the cost of doing business, and shifting the focus of our economy from taxation to production,” Akufo-Addo said while addressing a luncheon organized for members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs of the International Democratic Union (IDU) in Accra.

Akufo-Addo said his administration also aimed to enhance further the business atmosphere and make Ghana an easier place to conduct business through paperless transactions at ports and the removal of all internal customs barriers by the beginning of September.

He said this process of economic and industrial transformation was going along with ensuring that the most basic elements of social justice were met - making quality basic education and healthcare accessible to all - to promote a culture of incentives and opportunities.

The IDU is a working association of over 80 Conservative, Christian Democrat and like-minded political parties of the centre and centre right.

Formed in 1983, the IDU provides a forum in which parties holding similar beliefs can come together and exchange views on matters of policy and organizational interest.


Kenyan, Ethiopian, favourites in Olomouc Half Marathon race

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Kenneth Keter and Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa stand out as favourites in Saturday’s Mattoni Olomouc Half Marathon in the Czech Republic.

The Kenyan has been on a strong course and has the everything to lose in the event, which is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.

“It is not won until the last metre. I have done my part in training and hopefully, I will be able to do well against some strong global challenge,” said Keter in Nairobi on Friday before jetting out.

Keter, 20, set his 59:48 career in 2016, and on Saturday will be targeting his first win over the distance this year after three performances in the 1:01:05 to 1:01:50 range in the first half of 2017.

Meanwhile, 23-year-old Kenyan Simon Cheprot, with a 59:20 lifetime best from 2013 to his credit, will start as the fastest in the field.

He is dipped under the 60-minute barrier on two other occasions --59:32 and 59:39-- but both of those came in 2015. He will bring a more modest season’s best of 1:02:10 to the line of this eastern Czech city on Saturday.

Veteran Felix Kandie could also be a factor as well. With two sub-2:06 marathons under his belt, the 30-year-old has stronger credentials over the longer distance, but a 1:00:04 half marathon best set last year shows he can be expected in the mix.

Notable too is that his 2:06:03 personal best in the marathon was set in March, illustrating that he’s in the shape of his life.

Also among the strong Kenyan contingent are Peter Some, with 1:00:21 and 2:05:38 (both from 2013) personal bests, and Josphat Kiptis, who won this race in 2015 in 1:00:21, still the 23-year-old’s career best.

Also expected in the mix is rising British star Callum Hawkins, who’s twice come close to breaking 60 minutes this year.

In February, he clocked 1:00:00 to win in Marugame, Japan, and followed up with a 1:00:08 run in New York in March, finishing second. 


Gravity defying daredevil to grace Autoshow in Namibia

WINDHOEK, (Xinhua) -- The world champion for freestyle motocross, Libor Podmol is set to entertain motorheads and fanatics at this year’s Namibia Auto Show which will take place from June 30 to July 1 in Windhoek.

The Standard Bank Auto Show and Biltong Fees takes place annually in Namibia with the main aim to provide a platform for selected dealers, suppliers and stakeholders in the market to showcase their vehicles and other products as well as to create awareness among potential buyers over the two-day period.

Standard Bank’s Public Relations Manager, Surihe Gaomas-Guchu on Thursday said, Podmol will be showcasing his gravity defying and daredevil stunts during show.

“We have always ensured that the event caters for the whole family, which is why we are proud that motocross world champion Libor Podmol who will surely wow attendees with his amazing stunts,” she said.

The Czech-born motocross rider previously was the runner-up at the International Freestyle Motocross (IFMXF) Championship from 2006 to 2008, before going on to win world champion at the same tournament in 2010 in Brazil.

“I can assure all our prospective attendees that they will not be disappointed by Podmol’s performance during the Auto Show. He is one of the best freestyle motor cross riders out there and will give a show to be remembered,” she added.

Meanwhile, over the years the Autoshow has grown and has seen an influx of visitors, with the last event in 2016 attracting over 20,000 in the two-day period.

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