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BEIJING, (Xinhua) -- Zhang Dejiang ®, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), holds talks with Speaker of Mozambican Parliament Veronica Macamo in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 15, 2017.  XINHUA PHOTO: PANG XINGLEI

Kenya says measures in place to curb extremism in prisons  

By Njoroge Kaburo NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Wednesday that his government has put in place measures to curb radicalization and violent extremism in prisons.

Kenyatta said major steps have been made in collaboration with the National Counter-Terrorism Centre to improve training curriculum for staff and rehabilitation programs for inmates to check the vice in the correctional institutions.

“A multi-agency task force, which I appointed to assess the capacity of Kenya Prisons Service, has concluded its assignment and presented the report for further review - which we will shortly be undertaking,” he said during the passing out parade of 2,699 prisons recruits in Ruiru, about 20 kms east of Nairobi.

The police say extremists are now targeting young people who are members of a particular youth groups like the football clubs and convert Christians to Muslims. They entice them with money and a promise of better lives ahead.

According to the police, some of the terror attacks in the country have been committed by Kenyans who joined the terror groups such as Al-Shabaab who have resorted to recruiting young Kenyans to join the group.

One of the gunmen involved in the Garissa University terror attack that killed 147 people in April 2015 was a young promising Kenyan lawyer.

The dynamic of terrorism in Kenya is that while in the past the perpetrators were exclusively foreigners, there is a growing number of Kenyans who have joined foreign terrorist organizations like Al-Shabaab and have staged low key attacks inside Kenya according to arrests and prosecutions made against some of the Kenyan terrorists.

Several Kenyans have been arrested while crossing over into Somalia to receive terrorism training or when they are returning from the Al-Shabaab training camps in Somalia to stage attacks.

Kenyatta said prison institutions are required to offer not only retributive justice but also the prospect of reform to reduce crime, stem radicalization and ensure security in the country.

“Our justice system exists not just to punish offenders or to deter possible offenders from doing wrong; it exists also to encourage those who have done wrong to change, and to once more contribute meaningfully to society,” he said.

The president also directed Interior Cabinet Secretary and the Commissioner of Prisons to liaise with the Chief Justice regarding petty offenders to see if they could be released to decongest prison cells.

Kenyatta observed that some of the petty offenders have stayed longer in remand cells than they would have served jail terms if their cases were heard and determined.


168 drug suspects arrested in Tanzania’s ongoing crackdown

ARUSHA, Tanzania, (Xinhua) -- At least 168 people, 28 of them women, have been arrested in Tanzania’s capital Dodoma in connection with narcotic drugs, authorities said Wednesday.

Christina Mndeme, Dodoma District Commissioner said that the suspects were arrested in different locations across the city for the past two weeks when the countrywide narcotic drugs crackdown started.

She disclosed that those arrested are currently languishing in police custody, as they wait for the investigation before being taken to court.

According to Mdeme, most of the suspects were found in possession of khat, marijuana, and cocaine.

The official named hot spots for illicit drugs within the municipality as Makutupora, Veyula, Msalato, Chadulu, Miyuji, Zuzu, Mbabala, and Chinangali West wards.

Other areas are Madukani, Mlezi, Hazina, and Airport. But she added that other spots are likely to spring up due to the expected large influx of people looking to set up residence in Dodoma as the designated new capital takes shape.

The official expressed concern that with Dodoma slated to be the nation’s capital and government seat, the availability of drug dealers along its streets remains a big embarrassment.

Mndeme called on local government leaders to report any cases of illicit drug trading and use, whether in public or private, in their areas of jurisdiction.

She described the ongoing narcotics crackdown as a real and of a national nature.

“My request to you is to intensify the war on illicit drugs since this war is not for the police alone. Please use all the weapons at your disposal to end the problem in your areas,” she added.

District police spokesman Daniel Shilah urged the general public to come forward and promptly report such cases as they occur. 


Namibia illegally detains 46 foreigners: gov’t lawyer

WINDHOEK, (Xinhua) -- A Namibian government lawyer told the High Court Wednesday that 46 foreigners who had been languishing in police cells since Dec. 2016 were being detained illegally.

The lawyer, Sylvia Kahengombe, said this when she testified in the case brought to the court by the Ombudsman John Walters regarding the detention of the illegal immigrants.

Walters filed an urgent application Friday against the home affairs, the chief of immigration, the Immigration Tribunal, the safety minister, the Namibian Police Inspector General, and the station commanders of the police stations in Windhoek, Katutura, Wanaheda and Seeis, where the immigrant were being detained.

Judge Shafimana Ueitele, who heard the case Monday, postponed it for a week to allow the defense lawyers representing more time to prepare their response to the Ombudsman’s application.

Kahengombe’s admission, however, came earlier after the defense had investigated the circumstances around the detention of the foreigners from Zimbabwe, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Kenya.

Judge Ueitele then ordered that the immigrants should be released forthwith and be dealt with according to the provisions of the Immigration Control Act.

According to the Immigration Control Act, immigration officers are not allowed to detain illegal immigrants for more than 14 days.

In the case of an extension, the Act says the home affairs minister is the only one who can do so but not for more than 14 days.

If immigration officers fail to finalize their investigation to verify an immigrant’s legality in the country, the Act further says, they must then release the immigrants after asking them to pay a guarantee.

In this case, one of the 46 immigrants had been in custody since Sept. 2016, while others had been held since Dec. 2016.


Mozambican authorities deport 180 Tanzanians

DAR ES SALAAM, (Xinhua) -- Mozambican immigration authorities have deported 180 Tanzanians through the Newala border in Mtwara region, a senior Tanzanian official said on Wednesday.

Avod Mmanda, the Acting Mtwara Regional Commissioner, said some of the deported Tanzanians claimed to have been raped by Mozambican police.

“We are investigating on these claims,” said Mmanda, adding that there were also reports that the victims’ money and property were stolen before they were repatriated.

Susan Kolimba, Tanzania’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, said its envoy to Mozambique has been tasked to probe the deportations.

“We are awaiting to hear from our envoy in Maputo so that we can be in a position to know what had transpired,” she told a news conference in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

Rose Mhagama, the Mtwara Regional Deputy Commissioner for Immigration, said reports reaching Tanzania indicated that there were more Tanzanians lined up for deportation.

“We have learned that they are being deported in batches,” said the immigration officer.

Some of the deported Tanzanians claimed that their property, including passports and money had been confiscated before they were put in custody for three days while in Mozambique.

Matilda Mwakipesile said Mozambican police arrested her as she was doing her business and confiscated her money before they locked her in a cell for three days.

“I have been living in Mozambique for the past six years now. I was doing petty businesses, selling cold drinks and food,” said Mwakipesile. 


AU envoy says election of new president puts Somalia on path to renewal

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Somalia has a chance to forge a new beginning after peaceful election of the new President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Farmajo) on Feb. 8, said the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) for Somalia, Francisco Madeira.

Madeira said in a commentary published by Kenya’s Daily Nation on Wednesday that election of a new president will enable Somalia to shake off its tragic past and chart a new beginning marked by peace, stability and development.

“The successful conclusion of the presidential election heralds a new dawn for a country that has been plagued by years of instability, internal strife, cyclical drought and violent extremism,” said Madeira.

Abdullahi Farmajo trounced the incumbent Hassan Sheikh Mohamud after a hotly contested race to become the new president of Somalia.

His victory was cheered by Somali citizens, regional blocs and the international community who expressed confidence in his leadership skills that were tested when he served as the country’s prime minister for eight months from 2010 to 2011.

The 54-year-old Farmajo holds a dual Somalia-U.S. citizenship and his reformist credentials will be crucial to restore political and economic institutions that crumbled during two and half decades of turmoil in the horn of African state.

Madeira hailed the peaceful transfer of power in Somalia against a backdrop of huge uncertainties about its future due to sectarian wars and under-development.

“Let 2017 be the year of firsts for Somalia. There is an opportunity for leaders to work together to spearhead reconciliation and national unity,” Madeira remarked, adding that dialogue on resource sharing, job creation, security, women and youth empowerment will be reactivated under the new president.

Madeira who is also the head of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said that an end to violent conflicts and terrorism in the country is possible if grassroots leaders and ordinary citizens rally behind the new president to annihilate the twin evils.

He stressed that African Union in partnership with the international community will continue to support counter-terrorism and peace building initiatives in Somalia.

“With a new government in place, one of our key priorities with the national security forces is to intensify our offensive against terrorists. We will not relent until the war against violent extremism is won,” said Madeira.

The Mozambican diplomat said the establishment of vibrant security apparatus in Somalia to deal with old and emerging threats is a key priority of the AU and its multilateral partners.

He added that the continental body will also support provision of critical services like education and health to eliminate conditions that would create a fertile ground for violent extremism to flourish inside Somalia.


Egypt’s president discusses regional issues with UN chief

CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- Egyptian president and visiting United Nations chief vowed here Wednesday to continue cooperation and solve regional problems.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi held talks with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, expressing readiness to further cooperate with the UN, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in a press conference with Guterres after the meeting.

“Guterres has wisdom since he was a statesman, a former prime minister...Egypt will definitely be continuously in touch with the UN through our permanent mission,” Shoukry said.

He explained that Egypt has supported the peace process in Syria as well as the efforts of the UN special envoy for Syria Staffan De Mistura, stressing the importance of the Syrian opposition in the Geneva peace talks.

The minister also asserted that the international community cannot accept any preconditions from all sides to reach a settlement in Syria, adding that a peaceful solution that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people must be reached.

Meanwhile, Shoukry said he met on Wednesday with a delegation from the Libyan High Council of State, and the delegates praised the road map, which means a notable development that supports the legal institutions and the national army.

Guterres said Egypt is a central player in the Middle East and an essential contributor to the solutions of regional problems.

He stressed that there is no plan B to the situation between the Palestinians and Israelis but two-state solution, adding that everything must be done to preserve that possibility.

“We also need to find political solutions for the crises of the region,” Guterres said, stressing the determination to move ahead with Geneva talks in relation to the Syrian situation and resume the policy of national reconciliation and unity in Iraq.

He said that he will be totally committed to support the countries of the region to come together in order to create the conditions for both Yemen and Libya able to overcome the present crises.

Guterres took the post as UN secretary-general on Jan. 1. He arrived in Cairo on Wednesday after visiting Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman. 

CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ® meets with visiting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Cairo, capital of Egypt, on Feb. 15, 2017. Egyptian president and visiting United Nations chief vowed here Wednesday to continue cooperation and solve regional problems. XINHUA PHOTO: MENA

Trial for 41 Rwandan Muslim terrorism suspects resumes in Kigali

KIGALI, (Xinhua) -- The trial of 41 Rwandan Muslims suspected of involvement in terrorism crimes resumed Wednesday at the High Court in Kigali with prosecution praying for the hearing to be conducted in camera over security concerns.

The suspects, including five women are accused of multiple counts, including belonging to a terrorist organization, complicity in a terrorist act, formation of a criminal gang and financing terrorism.

Prosecution alleges that the suspects committed the crimes in different areas of Rwanda.

Defense lawyers however asked court to disregard the prosecution request for the trial to be conducted in camera, arguing the public had right to follow the proceedings.

The High Court set March 15 to announce its decision on prosecution request before hearing can continue.

On August 19 last year, Rwandan police shot dead three suspected terrorists in a targeted operation in Rusizi district, western Rwanda after they reportedly turned violent and resisted arrest.

They were suspected of belonging to ISIL. 


5 terrorists killed in northern Algeria

ALGIERS, (Xinhua) -- Algerian counter-terrorism troops on Wednesday killed five armed militants and retrieved weapons in a wide-scale operation in the province of Bouira, 110 km east of Algiers, said a statement of the defense ministry.

The operation has been launched in the dense woods of Laadjiba in Bouira with accurate information of a terrorist group there, said the statement.

The troops clashed with a group of armed men, killing five of them, and retrieved machine guns and ammunition.

The operation is still underway, the statement added.

Located in a region plagued by unprecedented security and political instability, Algeria faces ongoing terrorist threats.

A few militants affiliated to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and recently established Islamic State affiliated group of Caliphate Soldiers are still taking refuge in the dense woods in the north of the country, as well as remote desert areas near troubled Libya and Mali.


South Sudan, Uganda to set up joint anti-bird flu task force

By Julius Gale JUBA, (Xinhua) -- South Sudan and Uganda have agreed to conduct joint border surveillance exercise in an effort to combat the spread of the avian flu that was reported in Kampala in January, a South Sudanese official said Thursday.

Meanwhile, Minister of Livestock and Fisheries James Janka Duku said South Sudan would not ban imports of Ugandan poultry products.

The minister said the two countries have agreed to deploy health experts along the Uganda-South Sudan border to monitor and inspect Ugandan poultry products.

He said under the new guidelines, all bird products must undergo background checks and traders must have valid export certificates issued by the joint task force.

Duku said a team of technical experts from South Sudan would be dispatched to its Southern neighbor Monday next week to meet their Ugandan counterparts in a bid to expedite the process.

“We have agreed that we jointly set up a mechanism for monitoring and regulating poultry products from Uganda,” Duku told Xinhua in Juba.

The strain of avian influenza detected in wild and domestic birds in Uganda is the same virus that has spread through Asia and Europe over the past four months.

The H5N8 avian influenza strain is thought to have spread across continents via wild migratory birds.

Since Uganda declared the outbreak, Kenya and Rwanda have banned poultry products from Uganda and a number of other East African countries have increased surveillance.

Duku said South Sudan would not ban Ugandan poultry products from entering its territory after initial assessment showed that the outbreak has been contained in the Lake Victoria region.

“We are also involving the ministry of trade and industry in this process because banning has a direct impact on trade,” Duku added.

Uganda is South Sudan’s biggest trading partner in the East African bloc, with South Sudan taking in 15 percent of Uganda’s agricultural products according to data from Ministry of Trade.


Former Rwandan minister charged with favoritism

KIGALI, (Xinhua) -- Former Rwanda’s state minister for mining Wednesday appeared in court where he was charged with favoritism and falsifying official documents.

Evode Imena appeared before Nyarugenge High Court in Kigali.

Imena, who was arrested last January after being fired from cabinet, is accused together with two former officials who worked in former Rwanda Natural Resources Authority.

Prosecution alleges that the trio hastily registered a company which was fraudulently awarded a license to conduct mining in Nduba mines on the outskirts of Kigali.

Later, the company which prosecution named JDJ fraudulently sold its concession to another company called KNM at 20,000 U.S.dollars with the approval of the minister, according to the prosecution.

The charges were committed between 2013 and 2014, prosecution claims.

However, appearing before court, the former minister denied the charges and asked for bail.

The court set Friday to rule on the bail application.


UN political, development team visits Gambia

UNITED NATIONS, (Xinhua) -- A mission led by officers from the UN Department of Political Affairs and the UN Development Programme is in Gambia on Wednesday to assess the situation with regard to peace and security and analyze the new government’s priorities going forward, a UN spokesman said here.

“It will also assess governance and institutional capacities in the country, map support by international stakeholders engaging in peacebuilding, and identify areas of enhanced UN support to national authorities and civil society organizations,” Farhan Haq, the deputy UN spokesman, said at a daily news briefing here.

The mission, which arrived in Gambia on Tuesday, on Wednesday met with President Adama Barrow after meeting with the vice-president, the foreign minister, the UN’s Country Team working in Gambia, and representatives of the diplomatic community in the West African country, Haq added.

On Jan. 19,  Barrow was sworn in as Gambian president at the Gambian embassy in Dakar, capital of Senegal.

Barrow, staying in Dakar since Jan. 15, won Gambia’s presidential election on Dec. 1, 2016. However, his election win was challenged by the former Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh, who refused to cede power to him despite decisions by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to send troops to support Gambia in power transition.

On Jan. 19, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called Barrow to discuss latest developments in Gambia and congratulated him on his inauguration, according to a statement by UN Spokesperson’s Office. Barrow returned to Gambia as the new president in late January.


Construction of Zambia’s new railway line set to start

LUSAKA, (Xinhua) -- Construction of a new railway line in northwestern Zambia is set to start after the acquisition of equipment and other materials required, the project’s proponent said on Wednesday.

Enock Kavindele, the chairman of North West Rail Company said construction works will commence soon after the firm spent 12 million U.S. dollars on the acquisition of equipment and other materials ahead of commencement of construction works.

The official, who also served as Zambia’s vice-president during late President Fredrick Chiluba’s administration, told reporters in Lusaka, the country’s capital that construction of the first stretch which will run from Chingola town on the Copperbelt Province to Solwezi in the northwestern part was expected to take 18 months from the date of commencement.

The official, who was speaking when he flagged off the dispatch of 20 Land Rover pickups meant for the project, assured that all was set for the construction of the railway line which will also connect the northwestern Zambia to Angola.

The project requires 1.2 billion dollars and has been financed by the African Development Bank and the Development Bank of Southern Africa.

Last year, the official said the Zambian government had expressed willingness to take a 30 percent stake of equity shares in the company.


17 banks to be prosecuted in S. Africa for collusion

JOHANNESBURG, (Xinhua) -- The South African Competition Commission said Wednesday they have referred 17 banks to their tribunal for prosecution of collusion.

Among the 17 banks, 3 of them are South Africa’s biggest banks who face prosecution of collusion for price fixing of the South African rand.

The country’s consumer watchdog has been investigating the banks for the past two years and has resolved to refer the case to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution.

The Competition Commission said the banks manipulated the price for bids and offers through an agreement to abstain from trading and creating fake bids and offers at given times. The collusion happened through groups chats. 

The South African Banks involved in collusion includes Standard Bank of South Africa, Absa and Investec. The foreign banks involved are JP Morgan Chase Bank, Barclays Capital, Barclays Bank, HSBC Bank and Bank of America Merril Lynch International, among others.

Tembinkosi Bonakele, one of the Commissioners from the Competition Commission said “the referral of this matter to the tribunal marks a key milestone in this case as it now affords the banks an opportunity to answer for themselves.”

The Commission said the banks had a general agreement to collude on prices for bids, offers and bid-offer spreads for the spot trades in relation to currency trading involving U.S. dollar and rand currency pair. 

According to the Commission, some banks used trading platforms such as the Reuters currency trading platform to carry out their collusive activities. Some used Bloomberg instant messaging system (chatroom), telephone conversation and had meetings to coordinate their bilateral and multilateral collusive trading activities. The banks coordinated trading times and helped each other to reach desired prices.

The Commission applied to the Tribunal to declare that the 17 banks as having contravened the Competition Act and are liable for the payment of an administrative penalty equal to 10 percent of their annual turnover.

South African ruling party, African National Congress spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the actions by the banks are an attack on the constitutional mandate of the South African Reserve Bank to protect the value of the South African currency.

“The African National Congress takes an extremely dim view of the activities of the listed banks, understanding the banking sector as being instrumental to our quest for economic growth and development,” he said. 

CAPE TOWN, (Xinhua) -- South African President Jacob Zuma ® talks with police officials at the Nyanga Police Station in Cape Town, South Africa, on Feb. 14, 2017. The South African government will do everything to restore peace and safety in crime-stricken communities, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday. XINHUA PHOTO: DOC/KOPANO TLAPE

Study shows nearly 50 pct of mobile users only use voice, SMS services

MADRID, (Xinhua) -- Around half of the people who use mobile phones still only use them for just conversations and traditional SMS text messages, a study published on Wednesday revealed.

The study conducted by GSMA Intelligence in the lead up to the 2017 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona identifies four groups of mobile phone users.

These are: aficionados (people who must use their phones), pragmatists, networkers and talkers.

Talkers are considered to be the least engaged mobile users and only use their phones to either made calls or to send text messages. Despite advances in technology, they still make up 47 percent of the market, the study found.

GSMA, which is the company that represents the interests of mobile users worldwide, believes this number will drop to 29 percent as users see the effects of “advances in mobile innovations, affordability and availability.”

Traditional SMS messages are still more popular than internet protocol messaging in places such as France and the United States.

Along with South Korea and Qatar, the United States is one of the most important markets in terms of mobile engagement, the study showed.

The study also threw up some surprising facts, such as in Kenya and Tanzania, one in five adult mobile phone owners use their phone for financial services, while in India there is an important gender gap with women 43 percent less likely than men to use mobile internet. 


UN, Kenya sign deal to promote environmentally sustainable tourism sector

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- The UN housing agency and Kenya on Wednesday signed a deal to promote environmentally sustainable tourism in the east African country.

UN Human Settlement Program (UN-Habitat) Chief of the Urban Energy Unit Dr Vincent Kitio told a media briefing in Nairobi that under the agreement, the UN body will offer technical advice to the Tourism Finance Corporation (TFC) on the designs for new hotels as well as on ways of retrofitting existing hotels in Kenya.

“The aim is to promote energy efficiency in hotel design so as to ensure the hospitality sector is environmentally sustainable,” Kitio said.

A key facet of the agreement will see TFC’s technical staff empowered with tools and measures to help them implement and design environmentally sound buildings that consume less energy, and conserve water and also manage waste.

Kitio said that electricity cost is a factor that greatly impacts on profitability of hotels and other facility.

“This high cost can be reduced if Kenya adopts renewable energy that is cheaper than conventional sources of energy,” he said.

“Green energy can help make the hospitality sector more efficient and environmentally sustainable,” he added.

TFC Managing Director Jonah Orumoi said that the partnership with UN-Habitat will transform the hospitality industry in Kenya.

Orumoi said that the collaboration will enable Kenya’s hospitality sector to embrace environmentally sustainable practices.

“It will also help to make Kenya have facilities that are recognized internationally as being green,” Orumoi said. He added that the need for an integrated approach to sustainable development in the tourism sector is urgent.

“Investors in the tourism sector must factor in environmental and social considerations into every business decision,” he noted. 


Safaricom inflows boost turnover at Nairobi bourse

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Turnover at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) on Wednesday rose to 11 million U.S. dollars on a volume of 63 million shares from 20 million worth 3.7 million dollars, boosted by Safaricom inflows.

The leading telecom operator was the day’s biggest mover, attracting as many foreign sales as purchases, as it traded a massive 45 million shares at 0.18 dollars.

The shares were valued at 8.3 million dollars to account for 75 percent of the traded volume.

Electricity producer KenGen was the day’s second best traded stock moving 7.2 million shares at 0.06 dollars, an increase of 2.4 percent.

Coming in third was cement maker Athi River Mining with 5 million shares traded at 0.19 dollars, a rise of 1 percent.

Kenya Commercial Bank and KenolKobil were the fourth and fifth best stocks after moving 1.8 million 601,100 shares at 0.25 dollars and 0.13 dollars respectively.

During the session in which foreign investors were net buyers, a rise of at least top 10 stocks lifted the NSE 20 Share Index up 19 points to settle at 2,952.33.

The All Share Index (NASI), on the other hand, edged 0.04 points lower to settle at 124.91 while the NSE 25 Share Index shed 1.48 points to settle at 3,250.13.

The bond market registered a marginal rise with securities worth 6.9 million dollars transacted from 6.7 million dollars.


Roundup: African Fine Coffee event kicks off in Ethiopia’s capital

ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) -- Attracting regional and international coffee roasters, traders, producers, professionals and connoisseurs, the 15th edition of African Fine Coffee Conference and Exhibition kicked off in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Wednesday.

With the objective of reshaping African coffee industry, the three-day event from Feb. 15 to 17 is expected to have intensive discussions on policy and trade development across the African coffee value chain.

The African Fine Coffee Association (AFCA) and the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Development and Marketing Authority, have co-hosted the event under the theme, “Reshaping African Coffee Industry for Productivity and Investment.”

The participants are also expected to discuss ways of boosting coffee production on the African continent, and the exhibitors from across the world showcase their coffee products, machinery and packaging facilities, among others.

The conference is a buyer-oriented event which brings together buyers from all over the world to build key trading relationships and discuss issues impacting on production, trading environment and policy interventions necessary to grow the coffee industry worldwide, according to the organizers.

The event is also expected to provide an opportunity for business-to-business engagements and for buyers to taste best coffee from Ethiopia and the rest of Africa.

Officially opening the event, Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome reiterated that his government attaches great importance to the coffee industry as it is backbone of the country’s commodities export.

“Around 20 million people are directly or indirectly deriving their livelihoods from coffee. Hence, as major agricultural export product, it generates about 26 percent of Ethiopia’s total export earnings. Ethiopia is the largest producer of coffee in Africa and the fifth largest coffee producer in the world, next to Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, and Indonesia, contributing from 7 to 10 percent of total world coffee production,” noted the president.

It has been recognized that new markets have been identified in order to benefit coffee farmers and also to encourage all stakeholders in coffee industry, according to the president.

“In this regard, China, Russia, Middle East, and the Far East economies, Australia, and consuming African countries of Algeria, Tunisia, and Sudan among others offer a lucrative option and price incentives to the Ethiopian coffee,” he said.

Bagersh Abdullah, Board Chairman of African Fine Coffee Association (AFCA), stated that African Fine Coffee Conference and Exhibition has become one of the top events in the world.

“This conference has a lot of value because we are at the beginning of the coffee season and I am hoping that by being here the delegates the buyers, many, many buyers are here will have the chance to see, believe and taste the coffees and we are going to ship first class coffee out of Ethiopia this year,” he said.

Eyasu Abraha, Ethiopian Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said on his part that the government has been taking various measures to tap Ethiopia’s huge potential in the sector and boost coffee productivity in the country.     

“Ethiopia has a huge potential to increase coffee due to processing, suitable climate, soil, indigenous planting material, and sufficient rainfalls in coffee growing belts of the country. To this end, government is committed to more than ever before to tap the huge potential that exists to increase coffee productivity through undertaking research and development interventions.”   

African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA) is an association with coffee sectors in 11 member countries, namely Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.  

Over 100 exhibitors participate in the exhibition showcasing their coffee products, machinery, and packaging among others, according to the organizers.   


AfDB pledges more support for Tanzania

ARUSHA, Tanzania, (Xinhua) -- The African Development Bank (AfDB) on Wednesday pledged to continue supporting Tanzania’s development projects by providing loans with low-interest rates.

Amadou Hott, AfDB Vice-President in-charge of power, energy, climate and green growth, made the pledge when he met with Tanzania’s Finance and Planning Minister Phillip Mpango.

The bank official said that the bank will support Tanzania in different ways including the country’s industrialization agenda.

Hott said that his bank has allocated 12 billion U.S. dollars to support African countries including Tanzania so that they improve their economies as well as fighting against climate change.

The senior bank official said energy improvement is his priority in Tanzania, particularly ensuring that state-run power utility firm (TANESCO) becomes free from huge debts, making it able to focus on providing competitive services for the country’s economic benefits.

“Our interest is to ensure that TANESCO provide reliable and affordable power, which will stimulate the country’s economy,” the AfDB official said.

He also revealed the African bank has come up with a new strategy of encouraging the effective use of sustainable power in an effort to reduce the use of charcoal and firewood as a source of cooking energy.

He said that the move is also meant to save trees and forests in the continent and Tanzania in particular.

According to Hott, the bank is interested in financing projects which are encouraging the use of sustainable energy in urban and rural areas.

Mpango hailed the role played by the AfDB in improving road infrastructures in the country, asking the bank to extend the support into the standard gauge railway line construction, the project which intends to improve transport of passengers and cargo in the Great Lakes Region. 


Britain seeks stronger ties with Ghana

ACCRA, (Xinhua) -- The British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that his government is committed to ensuring more investments from his country to Ghana.

Johnson, who is on a two-nation West African tour that has also taken him to the Gambia, said the British government hopes to have an even deeper friendship with Ghana going forward.

“Particularly, we want to make sure that British firms come here in greater numbers and in greater strengths to invest in Ghana and if I may say so take advantage of the fantastic opportunities that are in this wonderful country,” Boris told the press after holding a closed-door meeting with president Nana Akufo-Addo at the Flagstaff House in Accra.

The talks centered on foreign policy, security in the sub-region and trade cooperation.

President Akufo-Addo said a lot of work has been done to make sure that the relations between Ghana and Great Britain continue to be on an even keel, and that both sides are looking at the areas for greater trade and business cooperation.

“At the end of the day, we are both concerned about what we can do to improve the lives of our various people, and that is the main consideration,” the Ghanaian leader said. 


Ghana’s petroleum authorities dispel fears of imminent fuel shortage

ACCRA, (Xinhua) -- The National Petroleum Authority (NPA) assured Ghanaians here on Wednesday there was no basis for fuel shortage in the country any time soon.

It said there was enough fuel reserves to meet demands, dispelling rumors of imminent fuel shortage in the west African country.

“The current stock position in the country indicates there is over 200 million liters of gas oil and more than 100 million liters of petrol at various depots throughout the country. These stocks are expected to last up to 6 weeks,” the NPA said in a signed statement by its Public Relation and Consumer Service Manager, Yaro Kasambata.

Additionally, it said over 73 million liters of gas oil and 46 million liters of petrol were expected to be delivered into the country from Feb. 13th to 18th.

“There are no challenges at the discharging terminals at the country’s ports and ensures that there is fairness in the process leading up to the discharge of cargoes of all importers. The NPA continuously monitors the weekly schedule of fuel imports to ensure that there is constant supply of fuel for the country,” it said.

A think tank, Institute for Energy Security (IES), had warned of an impending shortage of petroleum products in the coming weeks due to the shutdown of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) and the congestion at the ports which had compelled many oil companies to postpone their imports.

A statement by Richmond Rockson, Principal Research Analyst at the Petroleum Unit of IES, said on Tuesday that, due to the unanticipated shutdown of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) and port congestion, the oil companies were being compelled to postpone their import and export programs amid acute discharge and loading constraints that had the potential to interrupt with Ghana’s fuel supply.

CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gives a lecture entitled “Facing Global Challenges: Finding Hope in Youth” at Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt, on Feb. 15, 2017. There is no plan B for the two-state solution between the Israelis and the Palestinians to resolve the Middle East conflict and achieve regional peace, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a press conference in Cairo on Wednesday following his meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. The UN chief reiterated his statement at a lecture he later gave at Cairo University, attended by diplomats and students. XINHUA PHOTO: MENG TAO

South Sudan launches UN climate change framework

JUBA, (Xinhua) -- South Sudan on Wednesday launched 28 projects under the National Adaptation Programs of Action (NAPAs), making Juba eligible to acquire funding of up to 50 million U.S. dollars for implementation of programs seeking to address climate change.

Joseph Bartel, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said the government has indentified five projects toward developing environmentally friendly agriculture, early warning system, wetland protection, renewable energy and mainstreaming environmental policies and laws.

Bartel urged the government to enact legislations that can protect the environment by ensuring increased funding to environmental conservation efforts and enforce stringent punishment and also ensure that increased funding to the 28 projects listed in the NAPAs.

“Once we get the environmental law, we are going to go after anybody including the oil industry that is currently not being monitored,” he said.

NAPA is an initiative of the UN framework convention on climate change (UNFCC) that provides a process for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to identify priority activities that respond to their urgent and immediate needs to adapt to climate change. So far 51 countries have responded to it.

Environment Minister Josephine Naphon said NAPAs would help guide the country to stop over-reliance on thermal energy and shift to renewable energy by 2020.

Asrad Khan, UN Environment Program (UNEP) South Sudan Program Manager, said South Sudan remains one of the countries in the world with the highest deforestation rates, which has made it prone to disasters such as drought and flooding that have severely devastated crop and livestock production in the eastern and northern parts.

He said implementation of NAPAs would strengthen efforts to combat negative effects of climate change on livelihoods and boost food security.

“Climate change has no boundaries. So you it is very important for a country like south Sudan which is prone to disasters to adapt the NAPA to ensure that we use the natural resources wisely and start to take action now,” Khan said.

South Sudan is prone to recurrent floods every year in the rainy season—May to October—which threatens the lives and livelihoods of the local population and their communities, according to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Origination (UNESCO).

The agency said destruction of homes, schools, crops and agricultural lands lead to a loss in potential income, food insecurity, disrupted educational opportunities and delayed delivery of basic services in South Sudan. 


Zimbabwe forecasts maize output to triple after good rains

HARARE, (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe expects to produce up to 1.8 million tonnes of the staple maize in 2017 from 512,000 tonnes last year due to good rains received this season, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) said on Wednesday.

An increase in production of other cereal crops was also forecast this year following a devastating El-Nino induced drought in 2016 which left 4 million of the nation’s 14 million people in need of food aid.

RBZ governor John Mangudya said the favorable rains would boost agricultural productivity and help stimulate economic growth given that the country’s economy was agriculture based.

“The good agricultural season that is anticipated to produce around 1,500,000 - 1,800,000 tonnes of maize and other cereals from 1,595,000 hectares requires government to mobilize funding for the Grain Marketing Board to purchase grain from farmers,” the governor said in the 2017 first-half monetary policy statement.

He said cotton seed output was also forecast to rise to 100,000 tonnes from 32,000 tonnes last year.

Tobacco leaf output, the country’s largest foreign currency earner, was expected to jump to between 200 million and 215 million kg from 183 million kg in 2016 due to an export incentive scheme introduced last November, the governor said.

The export incentive scheme is being financed through bond notes whose circulation now stands at 94 million since introduction in November.

The bond notes, also introduced to ease current cash shortages in the economy, are trading at par with the U.S. dollar.

Mangudya said the export incentive will also be extended to tourism to encourage foreign currency generation by the sector. 

CAIRO,  (Xinhua) -- Some Egyptian teenagers are seen in the School of Recycling in the Zabbaleen district of Monshat Naser, Cairo, Egypt on Jan. 22, 2017. The School of Recycling, located in the Zabbaleen district of Monshat Naser, east Cairo, was built by the Association for the Protection of Environment in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Aiming to help the traditionally marginalized group and strengthen environmental protection, the school receives the children of the Zabbaleen (literally meaning garbage collector in Arabic) and teaches them some reading and writing skills, as well as waste management and recycling techniques. XINHUA PHOTO: AHMED GOMAA

UNICEF launches 110 mln USD appeal for Sudan children

KHARTOUM, (Xinhua) -- The United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Sudan office, on Wednesday launched an appeal to raise 110 million U.S. dollars to meet humanitarian needs for children in Sudan.

The appeal is part of a UNICEF annual global Humanitarian Action for Children, which aims at mobilizing resources and drawing attention to the plight of children worldwide, Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF representative to Sudan said in a statement Wednesday.

UNICEF in Sudan is planning to reach over two million children this year across the country, he added.

About 13 percent of African children who suffer from severe acute malnutrition are in Sudan, the statement said.

Figures show that two million children under the age of five are acutely malnourished, 550,000 of them severely malnourished.

Conflict-related displacements, El Nino, epidemics, floods and droughts exacerbated the nutrition and food security situation of Sudanese children, the statement said.

Earlier statistics by Sudan’s Health Ministry indicated that malnutrition surpasses eight known causes of children’s deaths including malaria, blood poisoning, pneumonia, dehydration, gastroenteritis, anemia and heart disease.

Sudan’s government is working with its partners to implement national priority programs addressing malnutrition and reducing children’s mortality rates. 

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