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Archive for April 13th, 2007

power consumption in Africa was only 3 per cent compared to the rest of the world.

Posted by African Press International on April 13, 2007

Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) Despite Africa being inhabited by 14 per cent of the world’s population, it lags behind in a number of development indicators, including power consumption, according to experts meeting in Dar es Salaam Thursday.

The experts noted that inadequate generation, transmission and distribution capacity of power on the continent deprived its citizens to enjoy electricity.

As a result, power consumption in Africa was only 3 per cent compared to the rest of the world.

Thus the experts came to the conclusion that Africa’s “darkness” was caused by poor governance that often leads African countries into conflicts.

Manager for Regional Power Trade of the Nile Basin Initiative, Kamu Karekao, said that Africa’s power woes could not be attributed to colonialism or low education levels — but to incessant conflicts that scare away much needed investments in the sector.

Karekao was speaking at the launch of the Social Economic Benefit Sharing (SDBS) activities of the Nile Basin Initiative at Giraffe Oceanic View Hotel in Dar es Salaam.

“An investor invests with the primary objective to generate enough funds for reinvesting, and also to adequately recover costs of investment. This is not possible in the circumstances of conflict,” said Karekao.

He said the challenge for Nile basin countries therefore was to move away from the problems through the establishment of a regional power forum to tap on the abundant synergies available in the region.

The objective of SDBS is to reduce poverty in the Nile basin countries through the enhancing of the process of integration and cooperation to promote social and economic development.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Obasanjo advises military men eyeing leadership to go the political way

Posted by African Press International on April 13, 2007

Lagos (Nigeria) Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has advised any military personnel in Africa who wished to assume political leadership to contest elections for the office.

Obasanjo told members of the ECOWAS Committee of Experts on Peace and Security, who called on him late on Tuesday in Abuja that “If you have worn the military uniform and desire to participate in politics, you can drop the uniform and contest for the office.”

He said Africa would no longer accept people with “gun in hand and in uniform, shooting themselves into office’’.

“Gone forever are the days when someone in uniform hopes to use it as a stepping stone to political office,” he said.

He said West Africa was experiencing a period of “vibrant democracy,” with two nations, Mali and Nigeria, holding elections this month, with Senegal’s newly elected leader being inaugurated last week.

The Nigerian President thanked the committee for its role in the sustenance of democracy, through the maintenance of peace, security and stability in their nations.

Earlier, Colonel Mahamen Toure, ECOWAS Commissioner for Peace and Security, said the committee was meeting in Abuja to look at the security situation in the sub-region and the new Commission’s organisational structure.

The ECOWAS Committee of Experts on Peace and Security comprises all Chiefs of Defence Staff of ECOWAS member countries.

Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Martin Luther Agwai, led the delegation to the Nigerian president.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Female Genital Mutilation an issue in Sierra Leone

Posted by African Press International on April 13, 2007

Freetown (Sierra Leone) Two Sierra Leonean women’s rights activists, AnnMarie Caulker and Laurell Bangura, Thursday announced that they were now taking bold steps in their campaign against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), by targeting the initiators known locally as “soweis”, APA has learnt.

“Our focus now is on the initiators or “soweis” who have always been the most hostile and unreceptive,” AnnMarie Caulker, the Executive Director of Catanya Women’s Development Association (CAWDA) told APA.

“Even attempting to discuss the issue of FGM with them can cause you physical harm ; you could be violently attacked or even chased out of the community where they operate,” AnnMarie said.

AnnMarie Caulker and Laurell Bangura both work for CAWDA, a non-governmental women’s rights group that has been in the forefront of campaigning against FGM and other forms of abuses against women and girls over the past decade.

Beginning Thursday, the two have launched what they describe as “empowerment of the soweis campaign” aimed at providing alternative means of livelihood for the soweis, through agriculture or skills training.

Discussing FGM openly is viewed as a taboo in Sierra Leone and girls and women who are initiates tend to feel a sense of pride and superiority over non-initiates.

But CAWDA seems to have broken from tradition and is engaging the very initiators with a view to helping them restart their lives through the empowerment campaign.

The group has also been advocating for official ban on FGM, but the government, mindful of the sensitivity of the issue and its electoral implications [elections billed for July 28], seems less enthusiastic to do so.

A Child Rights Bill is currently before parliament with a key provision to ban FGM “as a form of cruelty against children.”

A presidential candidate in the 2002 elections lost woefully for allegedly campaigning against FGM.

“Such is the sensitive nature of the FGM debate and a pointer to what difficult challenge we are faced with,” Laurell Bangura lamented.

CAWDA announced Thursday it is embarking on a week-long sensitisation tour of the provincial regions where the practice of FGM is prevalent, to meet and dialogue with the Soweis and find a way forward.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Repatriation of Sudanese refugees completed

Posted by African Press International on April 13, 2007

Bangui (Central African Rep.) The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Bangui, Wednesday said it has completed the repatriation of the last 31 Sudanese refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) to Nzara in Sudan, APA has learnt.

A UNHCR release said the CAR is the first of six countries bordering South Sudan to complete the repatriation of Sudanese refugees.

Last weekend, the UNHCR repatriated 50,000 Sudanese displaced people from the six countries bordering Sudan.

The repatriation operation of Sudanese refugees started in February 2006 following the tripartite agreement signed between the Sudanese and Central African governments.

The flights were however interrupted in April and December 2006 due to the official closure of the border between the two countries.

During that period, 1,300 refugees were conveyed home and were provided with three-month survival rations, seeds, and agricultural equipment to facilitate their reintegration.

“The UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migrants (IOM) jointly organised the flights for the repatriation of 8,400 Sudanese refugees.

Another group of 1,311 refugees were brought back to Sudan after receiving assistance and support for their reintegration, and that the UN humanitarian body has also facilitated the repatriation of some 9,700 Sudanese refugees.

Nearly 36,000 Sudanese fled the civil war which rocked south Sudan for 20 years and sought refuge in Central Africa in the 1990s.

Only about 2,000 Sudanese displaced people remained in Central African Republic, including some who preferred to live in the host country with their families.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Kenya is one of the countries that do not have a Political Parties Act

Posted by African Press International on April 13, 2007

Nairobi (Kenya) Democracy cannot thrive in countries where there is no law providing for the funding of political parties, an independent watchdog body in Kenya said on Thursday.

The executive director of the National Democratic Institute, Felix Odhiambo said Kenya is among countries in sub-Saharan Africa that do not have a Political Parties Act that seeks to finance political parties.

Odhiambo said that Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Sudan and Zimbabwe are among countries where the state does not fund political parties and warned that under such conditions strong democracy cannot thrive.

He urged the countries to borrow a leaf from Europe where the state financially subsidizes political parties and the United States where private members are allowed to finance parties.

“Democracy is an expensive exercise and for it to be nurtured and sustained governments have to fund the parties for them to effectively participate especially in elections,” he said.

Addressing the media in Nairobi, Odhiambo said that political parties need to concentrate on strengthening democracy in their respective countries rather than spending time and resources looking for money abroad as is the case with Kenyan parties.

He gave examples of African countries such as Nigeria, Tanzania and South Africa where governments have funded political parties successfully.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Kenyans abroad urged to register as voters

Posted by African Press International on April 13, 2007

Nairobi (Kenya) Kenyans living in the diaspora were on Thursday urged by the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) to register as voters in order to be legible to vote for the elections scheduled for December.

Samuel Kivuitu, the ECK chairman, said that there is no law that forbids them to vote in the elections and that all they need is to meet the condition of residency as provided in the constitution.

“There is no law which forbids them to register and vote ; all they need to do is to comply with the provisions stipulated in the constitution regarding residency,” said Kivuitu.

Addressing the press in Nairobi, Kivuitu warned that issues of cost effectiveness may arise but that was a matter of policy to be decided by the government and parliament.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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The marking of Pan African Historical Theatre Festival

Posted by African Press International on April 13, 2007

Accra (Ghana) Ghanaian Tourism and Diaspora Relations Minister, Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, Thursday said the country will provide a DNA map for Africans in the Diaspora to help them trace their origins in Africa as part of activities to mark this year’s Pan African Historical Theatre Festival(PANAFEST) , APA has learnt.

“Offering a DNA map, will enable those in the diaspora to take a DNA test and have the opportunity to reconnect them to their families in Africa”, Lamptey said when he launched this year’s PANAFEST and Emancipation Day celebrations to take place from 23 July to 1 August at Elmina, 130 kilometers southwest of Accra, the capital.

Lamptey said that most Africans in the diaspora were yearning to return to Africa and hence the map will be their guide whenever they chose to come back.

He said the PANAFEST celebration this year will honour some distinguished Africans in the diaspora who have excelled in the world.

Rabbi Kohain Nathanya Halevi, the Executive Secretary of PANAEST Foundation and main organisers of the event, said the Foundation has an obligation to restore the confidence, civilisation, arts and culture as well as the personality of Africans that were destroyed during the slave trade.

Ghana’s Central Regional Minister, Nana Ato Arthur, said PANAFEST and Emancipation Day should be used as a forum to share ideas in order to accelerate the socio-economic development of Africa.

He underscored the need for Africans to tap their human resources both at home and abroad so as to meet the challenges of modernisation.

PANAFEST is celebrated every two years in Ghana, and during which, Africans in the diaspora converge in Cape Coast and Elmina in the Central Region, where two castles served as transit points for transporting slaves from other countries in Africa in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade to the Americas, Caribbean and Europe.

The even gives a perfect opportunity to Africans to reflect on the inhuman episode that took place about 400 years ago.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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The need for food aid in Sudan has dropped

Posted by African Press International on April 13, 2007

Khartoum (Sudan) The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Thursday the demand for food aid in South Sudan has dropped by 19 percent since the signing of a landmark peace deal, which ended the civil war in the region.

In a statement, OCHA said a recent food needs assessment in Southern Sudan has indicated that food needs have dropped due to increased food production in the south following the end of the 21-year war in the region.

OCHA said while meningitis and acute diarrhoea have killed over 700 people in the vast region since the beginning of the year, the food security situation is slowly improving.

“Food aid planned for 2007 will be 108,000 metric tons, down by 19 percent compared to 133,000 metric tons in 2006. But the real change is not so much about tonnage, but rather about how food is used,” said World Food Program Coordinator Justin Bagirishya.

“The global picture shows an increase in Southern Sudan’s food production, from 805,000 metric tons in 2005 to 838,000 metric tons in 2006, marking a 4 percent improvement. For a territory that just came out of two decades of war, this is not bad,” Bagirishya said.

The improvement, he said, is in good part due to the return of internally displaced persons and refugees.

“In addition, the improvement in the road network allows for much better transport and trade, which has led to the opening of new markets,” said Eliane Duthoit, head of OCHA in Juba.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Energy saving strategies put into effect in Cameroon

Posted by African Press International on April 13, 2007

Yaounde (Cameroon) Cameroon on Thursday launched an energy information system in the capital, Yaoundé, with the view to prevent domestic gas, fuel and electricity shortages, APA noted.

The early warning system, backed by the Francophonie Energy and Environment Institute (IEPF), will collect and process all the economic and socio-economic data in connection with the sectors concerned, so as to prevent and plan the shortages of supply, the Water and Energy Minister, Jean Bernard Sindeu, explained to APA.

The survey began this week and a summary report of the national situation is expected at the end of the year, he said.

Cameroon is the 7th sub-Sahara Africa oil producer, but its crude oil (considered very heavy) is primarily exported. For local consumption, the country must buy other varieties from neighbouring Nigeria and refine them in Limbe (south-west).

Cameroon is regularly exposed to shortages of domestic gas (butane gas), and should import half of its monthly needs, which corresponds to 2000 tons.

With regard to electricity, the country underwent a serious crisis three years ago, marked by a long period of power cuts which caused a serious setback to national development.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Congolese clash with British police: They are being deported to DRC

Posted by African Press International on April 13, 2007

London (UK) Clashes ensued Thursday among 4,000 asylum-seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo and British immigration police following a UK Home Office decision to deport the Congolese back home, APA has learnt.

The asylum-seekers started their protests at the Midlands-based Solihull Immigration Centre (North England) when a despatched team of immigration officers swooped in to head them to the airport for deportation.

A joint security operation comprising the police, immigration officers etc were called in to quell the three-hour riots to no avail.

The Congolese vowed to resist the deportation, preferring to die in the process rather than being deported home to face death.

There was an exchange of scuffles between the security agents and protesters which resulted in arrests of scores of them.

Hundreds of demonstrators from the black community in the UK, who are in sympathy with the asylum-seekers, staged separate protests at the Home Office premises across London, insisting they would not leave until authorities reverse the deportation move.

As at press time, the Home Office was yet to provide details on the incident while the riots continued.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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UN man on torture and inhuman treatment on a ten day mission to Togo

Posted by African Press International on April 13, 2007

Lome (Togo) The special rapporteur of the United Nations on torture and other inhuman treatments, Manfred Nowak, Thursday started a ten-day mission in Togo, APA has learnt.

The visit will enable Nowak to gather information on human rights in Togo particularly on prevention of torture.

“I came to Lome to establish the facts on torture in the country and start cooperation with the Togolese government on torture prevention,” Nowak told the media.

During his stay, the official will hold discussions with Togolese authorities including the head of state, the prime minister, the ministers of Human rights, foreign affairs, justice, local government, as well as members of the National Human rights commission.

Nowak will hold working sessions with officials of international organisations, NGOs and civil society organisations before visiting detention centres in the country.

International organisations and NGOs working on human rights in Togo often accuse the country of human rights violation and especially of torture.

The UN official will also assess the respect of these commitments by Togo.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Human error cause blast killing 103 people

Posted by African Press International on April 13, 2007

Maputo (Mozambique) Human error is to blame for the 22 March series of explosions that rocked Maputo and its suburbs, killing 103 people and injuring 515 others, Radio Mozambique reported on Thursday.

The radio, quoting an independent commission of inquiry set up by President Armando Guebuza, blamed poor storage conditions, soaring temperatures and obsolete weapons as the key causes of the deadly explosions.

The national broadcaster said that the commission established that the human error was based on the absence of technical inspection, strange visitors to the armoury and failure to observe norms pertinent to security of war weapons.

The report, which has been submitted to Guebuza, ruled out the possibility of sabotage.

Radio Mozambique reported that Guebuza has instructed the defence ministry to immediately transfer all arsenals nationwide to safer places and the provision of assistance to all the victims.

He also instructed the government to destroy all obsolete weapons and vigorously abide by norms and procedures of storage and conservation of lethal weapons.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Former Chadian president on trial

Posted by African Press International on April 13, 2007

Dakar (Senegal) The trial of former Chadian President, Hissene Habre, will require 43 billion CFA francs, according to a taskforce the Senegalese government instructed to evaluate its organisation of the trial, APA learnt Tuesday from good sources.

In a report submitted to President Abdoulaye Wade, the working group set down, amongst other, the issues of compensating the judges in charge of the trial, and the judgement criteria.

El Hadj Babacar Kebe, high-ranking retired magistrate and chairman of Senegalese Association of the United Nations (ASNU) said Monday on a private radio “Sud Fm” that a trial as that of Hissene Habre is “expensive”.

« Many witnesses have to be brought to Senegal, and because of the stakes of the trial, there are very important financial expenditures to make,” he stressed, suggesting a method “of compensation enabling Senegalese judges to run the proceedings”.

“I don’t think the budget of Senegal should take care of the trial, since it is a mandate of the African Union (AU) entrusted to the country,” he pointed out, stating that “everyone should now make some efforts to raise the necessary funds for the trial”.

A representative of the “Coalition for the effective judgement of Hissene Habre”, Lawyer Demba Cire Bathily, said on “Sud Fm” that he does not understand anything in the report which is almost proposing “the impossible.”

According to him, it is not about “building new courts or creating super-magistrates,” but to make a “functional reorganisation of the current justice system,” he added, announcing that the international community and the AU are ready to partly take care of “the cost of the trial”.

In July 2006, at the time of the AU summit in Banjul, Senegal was charged to judge the former Chadian head of state in exile in the country since his overthrow in December 1990. Habre is being sued for human rights “violation”.

The AU decision followed a rejection of an extradition request to Belgium, addressed to Senegal which had then subjected it to the appreciation of the continental organisation.

The African heads of state then opposed to this request, preferring to entrust to the Senegalese justice system Habre’s judgement.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Norway: Inflation rate jumps high

Posted by African Press International on April 13, 2007

Norway’s core inflation rate, which excludes changes in energy prices and taxes, rose to an annual rate of 1.5 percent in March. The rise came more quickly than expected.

The value of Norway’s currency rose along with the inflation rate and speculation of another interest rate hike.

PHOTO: TOR RICHARDSEN

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The country’s central bank, Norges Bank, has long targeted an annual inflation rate of around 2.5 percent. Even though Norway’s economy has been booming because of high oil prices, inflation has remained at record low levels.

That’s prompted the central bank to steadily raise interest rates over the past year, in the hopes of cooling down consumer demand. Now there’s speculation that rates will be boosted yet again in April, this time because inflation is rising.

Official figures released Tuesday showed Norway’s core consumer price index rising from an annual rate of 1.1 percent in February to 1.5 percent. The rise exceeded all forecasts by a panel of eight economists polled by news bureau Reuters.

“Overall it was stronger than expected, and it of course raises the question of whether we will have an interest rate hike already at the (central bank’s) April meeting,” the senior economist for Nordea Markets, Erik Bruce, told Reuters.

The central bank itself had predicted a 1.1 percent rise in its March inflation report.

The inflation hike boosted the value of Norway’s currency, the krone, against the euro. It had cost NOK 8.16 to buy one euro, but by mid-morning Tuesday it cost NOK 8.10.

By Nina Berglund

Lifted and published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.aftenposteneng.

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