01 Dec

Kenya: Striking Kenya Airways Engineers to Sue Over Dismissal

Striking technicians and engineers of national carrier Kenya Airways will move to court to protest their dismissal. The workers announced on Thursday they have engaged their lawyers over the matter.

Court

At a press conference, the more than 160 workers stated, through a seven-member committee, that they have resolved to take up the matter in court.

“We will not negotiate again with the employer. The courts will now give the way forward on this matter,” said Mr Joseph Oyuga, a certified engineer who spoke on their behalf.

The workers, who include technical assistants, technicians and engineers, have boycotted work since Tuesday evening to demand higher salaries.

They want their pay to match those of their counterparts in Middle East countries.

Aircraft Safety

Mr Oyuga also raised serious concerns over the safety of aircrafts and passengers, saying normal but critical maintenance procedures could be affected.

The committee member said those currently supervising and signing off aircrafts are not properly qualified to do so.

“Some of them are our managers who last undertook such technical procedures a long time ago. As of now, the safety of those planes and the passengers cannot be guaranteed,” he said.

The workers, who vowed to continue with the strike until their demands are addressed, demanded an audit of the work done since the boycott began.

This should be done by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, they said.

Mr Shem Onyango, another engineer and a member of the committee selected to represent the staff, lamented that their employer, KQ, has been unwilling to meet them and discuss the concerns they have raised.

Pay Hike

KQ boss Sebastian Mikosz told the striking employees that the boycott was against the company’s efforts at financial restructuring.

He said the airline will not be held at ransom by striking workers

KQ, which is financially constrained, said a technical assistant used to earn Sh120,000 and this was increased to Sh200,000 in April after a review; but add that the workers are now demanding Sh340,000.

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30 Nov

EU Pledges Increased African Investments to Slow Migration

European Union leaders pledged to increase investments in Africa to assist development and help stem the arrival of thousands of migrants who are desperate to flee poverty.

Speaking at a gathering of heads of states of the continents in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital, Abidjan, European Council President Donald Tusk said Wednesday the bloc was “ready to do more” to create jobs and economic opportunities for Africa and its people.

“We have to be ambitious,” Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, said at the same gathering. “There needs to be a true Marshall Plan for Africa.”

The two-day meeting in Ivory Coast takes place as the EU plans to make 8 billion euros ($9.5 billion) available to improve migration control from the Middle East and Africa. In September, the European Parliament adopted a separate 4.1 billion euro plan for Africa that’s meant to generate 44 billion euro in investment and address root causes of migration.

Solutions to Africa’s problems “require significant financial resources, much more than what African resources alone can afford,” Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said. “Our appeal will be for the growth of investments from Europe, public and private.”

Europe is grappling to stem the biggest wave of asylum seekers since World War II, as anxiety over the issue is stoking populism and drives electoral gains by far-right parties from France to Hungary.

Libya Slaves

The plight of African migrants was highlighted this month by videos of what the International Organization for Migration described as slave markets in Libya, scenes that are dominating the summit’s talks.

Leaders and officials of the EU, AU and United Nations met Wednesday with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Mustafa Al-Sarraj to find solutions for this “atrocious and unbearable situation,” French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters.

Libya agreed to allow access to its territory for the parties to evacuate the camps “where these barbaric scenes” have been identified and to speed up the repatriation of migrants to their countries of origin, he said.

Governments across the two continents will reinforce cooperation to dismantle trafficking networks and their funding mechanisms while the EU may help to pay for the repatriation of migrants to their countries of origin.

A lasting solution to illegal migration will require that Libya solve its political crisis, Macron said. “It is indispensable to reconstitute a durable state and a political balance as part of the roadmap that has been decided,” he said.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-29/eu-pledges-increased-african-investments-to-slow-migration

30 Nov

Buhari’s Graft War Stumbles as Nigeria Security Chiefs Feud

When agents of Nigeria’s financial crimes body arrived this month to arrest a former intelligence chief fired by President Muhammadu Buhari for stashing $43 million in cash in his wife’s apartment, they were stopped by armed secret policemen.

After a 10-hour standoff, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission backed down in the upscale Asokoro district of the capital, Abuja, with its boss, Ibrahim Magu, vowing his agents would be back to arrest former National Intelligence Agency boss Ayodele Oke.

It was the latest in a string of incidents that have dented the credibility of Buhari’s war on graft. Propelled by pledges to tackle corruption, the 74-year-old former military ruler became in 2015 the first opposition candidate in Nigerian history to defeat an incumbent at the ballot box. The West African nation ranked 136 out of 176 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index in 2016, the same as the year before.

Inter-agency rivalry has been a consistent feature of Buhari’s graft war. Twice he sent the nomination of Magu as head of the financial crimes commission, known as the EFCC, to lawmakers for approval, and on both occasions they rejected him based on state security police reports of alleged prior wrongdoing. That’s left the president’s anti-corruption czar in a weakened, acting capacity more than halfway into his tenure.

Lack of Clarity

“This clearly shows the lack of tactics and strategy in the approach of fighting corruption by the current administration,” said Oluseun Onigbinde, head of Lagos-based BudgIT, a civic group that lobbies for government transparency. “There’s no clarity on who’s directly responsible for arresting or prosecuting people.”

Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said he couldn’t comment on the clash between the two security agencies over the attempted arrest of Oke when contacted by phone, saying he hadn’t been briefed on the matter. Buhari says his administration is making progress.

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30 Nov

Chaos Threatens Key Leadership Vote for South Africa’s ANC

Leadership disputes have ended up in court in three of the nine provinces — KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State and North West — while the party’s national officials stepped in to avert a lawsuit challenging the outcome of its internal election in the Eastern Cape province.

Court challenges, allegations of vote rigging and outbreaks of violence — South Africa’s ruling party is in disarray less than three weeks before it’s scheduled to choose a new leader to replace President Jacob Zuma.

The struggle for power has spawned such disorder that some analysts question whether the African National Congress can hold a credible election at the Dec. 16-20 conference in Johannesburg in what’s shaping up to be the most hotly contested internal vote since Nelson Mandela led the party to power in 1994.

“If all these legal disputes are not sorted out by the time the conference takes place, they will be transferred to the conference itself,” said Mpumelelo Mkhabela, a political analyst at the University of Pretoria’s Center of Governance Innovation. “There is a risk that after the conference, some people challenge its legality and the decisions that have been taken.”

Seven candidates are vying to replace Zuma as ANC leader and become the party’s presidential candidate in 2019. Only Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the former chairwoman of the African Union Commission and Zuma’s ex-wife, appear to have a realistic chance of winning.

Most party branches in the Northern Cape and Western Cape nominated Ramaphosa for the post, while Dlamini-Zuma received overwhelming backing in the Free State. The other six provinces will announce their preferences over the next few days.

On Wednesday, the high court in Bloemfontein in the Free State ordered that the province’s conference, which was due to take place this weekend, can’t be held until 29 branch meetings are rerun. The court said 29 of these meetings were irregular and unconstitutional.

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29 Nov

Africa Seeks Investment to Stem Migration as EU Summit Begins

European and African leaders gathering in Ivory Coast have an opportunity to confront one of the biggest sore points between the two continents: migration.

The two-day African Union-European Union summit begins Wednesday as Europe is grappling to stem the biggest wave of asylum seekers since World War II, with more people arriving by sea from African countries this year than from war-torn Syria. Anxiety over migration has stoked populism in Europe and driven electoral gains by far-right parties from France to Hungary.

“For the Europeans, it’s a priority because it’s also a domestic political issue and their electorate is very sensitive to this question,” said Gilles Yabi, head of policy group Wathi in Senegal’s capital, Dakar.

Yet few African leaders want to be seen as curbing migration in a region where going overseas is often considered a rite of passage and remittances are vital for economic survival. That’s why African Union member states favor talks that touch on broader issues such as economic development, security and trade relations, according to Yabi.

‘Concrete Projects’

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are expected to attend the summit in Abidjan. Among African leaders to join the talks are Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari and South African President Jacob Zuma.

Africa will only persuade its young people to stay if there are prospects for economic development on the continent, Moussa Faki Mahamat, president of the African Union Commission, told Radio France Internationale last week.

“We have to start at the root of the problem, with development, with concrete projects,” Mahamat said.

The views of African and European leaders on migration are fundamentally at odds, the International Crisis Group said in a report last month. “The European Union is doggedly focused on trying to prevent irregular migration, whereas the African Union is looking for ways to increase legal flows,” the Brussels-based research group said.

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28 Nov

Kenya Is Said to Seek Proposals for $2 Billion Eurobond Sale

Kenya’s government is seeking proposals from banks about a possible $2 billion Eurobond offering in the first quarter of 2018, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The East African nation’s Treasury asked banks for pitches on how to structure the sale, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter. The deadline for proposals is Nov. 29, they said.

Kenya’s return to international capital markets would mark its first sale of foreign debt since a debut Eurobond in 2014. The Treasury is seeking to plug a budget deficit that’s forecast to narrow to 6.4 percent of gross domestic product in the fiscal year through June from 8.5 percent last year.

The government plans to re-enter the Eurobond market before the end of the current budget year, though a placement is likely from February onward as funds are required for spending purposes, the people said.

Proposals from banks must outline the costs of either a five- to 10-year issue to be repaid in bullet form, or 12- to 15-year securities amortizing in the final three years, the people said. A government roadshow is expected to start in January, said one of the people.

Treasury Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge didn’t respond to two text messages and four calls to his mobile phone seeking comment.

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27 Nov

Mugabe Quit Over Fear of Being Zimbabwe’s Qaddafi

An emotional Robert Mugabe finally agreed to end his 37-rule in Zimbabwe when army generals who’d seized power told him they wouldn’t prevent protesters from storming his home unless he relented, three people familiar with the talks said.

The peril from the protesters was real. Three days before they’d approached the gates of his mansion, known as “the blue roof,” in the affluent northern Harare suburb of Borrowdale. Chris Mutsvanga, a leader of veterans of the liberation war against white-ruled Rhodesia in the 1970s, threatened to unleash a fresh wave of protests when Mugabe, confused and tearful during his final days in power, didn’t immediately resign after thousands poured into the streets on Nov. 18.

For Mugabe, an almost president-for-life figure, the scenes were difficult to believe. He’d always been accompanied by a motorcade of heavily armed troops, decoy cars, police vehicles, motorcycle outriders and a fully-equipped military ambulance. But in recent years, the fate of figures such as Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi, both of whom died or were captured after going on the run, had weighed on him, according to the officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Ailing health and frequent confusion hobbled Mugabe during the talks. He wept often and called out for his deceased first wife Sally, and Nhamodzenyika, his son who died of cerebral malaria as an infant, the officials said. His friend Father Fidelis Mukonori, a Catholic priest who was mediating talks with the military, consoled him and begged him to eat and bathe.

Mugabe’s decision to step down and end a week-long standoff with the military came as his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front was preparing to impeach him in parliament. It marked an anguished end to the career of Africa’s second-longest serving leader who had led Zimbabwe to independence in 1980 and dominated its political scene ever since.

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13 Nov

African Economic Growth Rides on Wireless Rails

A telecommunications boom is lifting an industry and a continent.

In Kenya, hundreds of thousands of people are rising out of poverty as mobile-money services turn subsistence farmers into business people. A similar dynamic drives Ethiopia, the fastest-growing economy in Africa, where the gross domestic product is forecast to climb 8 percent in 2019. Borrowing costs in Ghana plummeted almost 2.5 percentage points during the past 12 months amid an unprecedented gain in GDP that’s been led by the growth of the telecom industry.

From the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, hand-held phones are letting people become their own ATMs, increasing economic activity by enabling payments for food, travel, school and business. Wireless communication is driving economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa much as the railroad did in the 19th-century U.S., accounting for almost a tenth of global mobile subscribers and a growth rate that’s beating the world.

The transformation is reflected in the more than 1,300 publicly-traded companies that make up corporate Africa. The value of communications firms increased during the past five years to 25 percent of the total market capitalization of African companies, up from 16 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Materials and energy, the natural-resources benchmarks that defined the region since its colonial days, diminished to a combined 18 percent from 27 percent during the same period.

Read more here: African Economic Growth Rides on Wireless Rails

10 Nov

Exporting to Nigeria: Tips and insights

Nigeria is still, by a slim margin, the biggest economy in Africa, despite the economic woes of the past two years. A population of anything between 180 million to 200 million people makes its consumer market in particular of great interest to investors, manufacturers and exporters around the world. The country manufactures relatively few of the products it consumes and despite efforts to increase local industry, it remains largely import dependent.

However, despite the multitude of opportunities that Nigeria presents to exporters, getting a product into the market can be a challenging exercise.

Nigeria’s main port complex is in the commercial capital of Lagos, a city of an estimated 20 million people – a major market in itself – but also the shipping gateway for imports and exports for the whole nation.

The facility, comprising the Lagos Port Complex and Tin Can Island Port in the Apapa area of Lagos city, is one of the busiest in Africa. It is also by far the main portal for trade into and out of this large country, processing 97% of containers. The only other port of size, Onne, is focused on the oil and gas industry around Port Harcourt, and there are a few other, smaller, ports.

As a result, there is usually serious congestion at Lagos. The high volumes are just part of the problem. Other challenges include poor infrastructure, inadequate and often poorly functioning equipment, the demands of different agencies located there, onerous bureaucracy and general issues related to officialdom.

Clearance time in Lagos port is between seven and 14 days. Once clearance is complete, it takes, in a best-case scenario, 48 hours to get the product out of the port. However, this can take longer depending on other factors, as currently being experienced with the rebuilding of the access road to the port, and any problems in the manifest or other documents.

Having a competent cargo clearing and forwarding company is vital to navigate the process. Exporting to Nigeria requires detailed knowledge of requirements. A simple mistake in documentation or process can lead to cargo sitting in port for weeks or even months, with hefty demurrage charges.

It is important for an exporter to be on top of any changes in documentation and import requirements. Do not wait for the importer in Nigeria to alert you to what is needed; rather do your own homework.

Read more: Exporting to Nigeria

08 Nov

Belt and Road Initiative – African countries offer major investment opportunities

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is stepping up a gear, with new BRI-related projects estimated to be worth US$350bn over the next five years. This is according to a new report by Baker McKenzie and Silk Road Associates – Belt & Road: Opportunities & Risks.

According to the report, various African countries along the BRI have the potential to provide major opportunities for investment. These countries particularly include Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Egypt.

The report explains how BRI (also known as One Belt One Road (OBOR)) is primarily divided between the overland ‘Belt’, the classically defined Silk Road that stretches from China to Europe, and the new, maritime Silk Road. The maritime Road is a densely populated consumer and industrial opportunity. Like the landlocked Belt, it also connects China and Europe, but differs in that the Road passes through Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and East Africa, a region that is home to 42% of the world’s population and 25% of its GDP, excluding China.

The report states that multinationals from all countries can expect to find significant opportunities in the maritime Road regions over the coming decades, irrespective of the success of BRI.

Kieran Whyte, head of the energy, mining and infrastructure practice at Baker McKenzie in Johannesburg, says that for investors in Africa, “A big attraction of the Belt and Road Initiative for both governments and project sponsors is that it assists the speed of project implementation. Project stakeholders advise that the whole process is a lot quicker than other options”.

The report outlines East Africa’s integral role in the BRI, owing to Djibouti’s ports, Ethiopia’s manufacturing, and the region’s existing plans to connect rail, road and energy networks. It also details how key opportunities in Africa with regards to BRI will be transactions related to major projects in the power and infrastructure sector and related financing. China’s construction of power plants and transmission lines in East Africa is expected to be a game changer for local industry.

Read more: Belt and Road Initiative – African countries offer major investment opportunities