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Back Issues

Pambazuka News 480: Sonangol and the looting of Angola's oil

The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa

Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839

CONTENTS: 1. Action alerts, 2. Features, 3. Announcements, 4. Comment & analysis, 5. Advocacy & campaigns, 6. Pan-African Postcard, 7. Letters & Opinions, 8. African Writers’ Corner, 9. Emerging powers in Africa Watch, 10. Highlights French edition, 11. Zimbabwe update, 12. Women & gender, 13. Human rights, 14. Refugees & forced migration, 15. Social movements, 16. Africa labour news, 17. Emerging powers news, 18. Elections & governance, 19. Corruption, 20. Development, 21. Health & HIV/AIDS, 22. Education, 23. LGBTI, 24. Environment, 25. Land & land rights, 26. Media & freedom of expression, 27. Conflict & emergencies, 28. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 29. Courses, seminars, & workshops

Help Pambazuka News become independent. Become a supporting subscriber by taking out a paid subscription. Donate $30 a year.

Highlights from this issue

- Salim Ahmed Salim: Speaking Truth to Power: Honouring Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem
- Rafael Marques de Morais: Sonangol and the looting of Angola's oil
- Joan Baxter: Land grabs: Protecting investors, but what about the people?
- Sokari Ekine: Too much hype about mobile technology!
- Bernadette Iyodu: Uganda: The silent practice of deportations
+ more

- Nnimmo Bassey: Voices from Bolivia: World Peoples’ Climate Conference
- Hama Tuma: Homophobia? It is ‘demophobia’ really!
- Tim Wise: Imagine if the Tea Party was black
- Elyas Mulu Kiros: Proudly Amhara, proudly Ethiopian
+ more

- Horace Campbell: May Day and worker solidarity
- L. Muthoni Wanyeki: Ocampo’s coming, the witnesses are running

- Radical philosophy under threat in the UK
- World Press Freedom Day, Nigeria: 3 journalists murdered

- Church's hypocrisy on Kenya's draft constitution

- Nancy Muigei: The Voiceless CryACTION ALERTS: 3 SA families remain homeless at the gates of Blikkiesdorp
ANNOUNCEMENTS: Discussion: Is democracy possibly here in the UK
ZIMBABWE UPDATE: Opposition infighting raises specter of violence
WOMEN & GENDER: The worst places to be a mother
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: UN must continue to protect Chad’s civilians
HUMAN RIGHTS: Kinshasa rejects report of army atrocities
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Fahamu refugee e-newsletter – April 2010
EMERGING POWERS NEWS: Emerging powers news roundup
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: Sign Jinn letter to Chevron CEO
AFRICA LABOUR NEWS: Transport strike looms in South Africa
CORRUPTION: Does corruption create poverty?
HEALTH & HIV/AIDS: Activists ‘escorted’ out of Tanzania
DEVELOPMENT: World Economic Forum on Africa opens
EDUCATION: Textbooks for Angolan students
LGBTI: Being gay in Morocco
ENVIRONMENT: Somaliland needs climate change plan
LAND & LAND RIGHTS: Protecting investors, but what about the people?
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Ugandan journalists under threat
SOCIAL WELFARE: Free care for mothers and children in Sierra Leone
INTERNET & TECHNOLOGY: Young Africans put technology to new uses
ENEWSLETTERS & MAILING LISTS: AfricaFocus Bulletin: Africa: Finance ministers vs. development goals
JOBS: Vacancy at Comic Relief
PLUS: Fundraising & useful resources, publications, courses, seminars and workshops

*Pambazuka News now has a page, where you can view the various websites that we visit to keep our fingers on the pulse of Africa! Visit

Action alerts

South Africa: 3 families remain homeless at the gates of Tin Can Town


Three families have been living homeless, freezing weather, rain and all, at the gates of Blikkiesdorp for over 10 nights now. These families were evicted recently from backyards where they used to live in Delft. They came to Blikkiesdorp looking for a tin because they have nowhere else to go. Since the City of Cape Town will not accommodate them inside Blikkiesdorp, they have occupied some land at the entrance to the Phase 2 section of the TRA.


Speaking Truth to Power: Honouring Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem

Salim Ahmed Salim


Pambazuka Press is thrilled to announce the release of 'Speaking Truth to Power: Selected Pan-African Postcards', a collection of the late pan-Africanist Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem's legendary Thursday postcards, available at £14.95 from With the first anniversary of his passing approaching on African Liberation Day on 25 May, 'Speaking Truth to Power' captures Tajudeen's inimitable voice, sharp intellect and irrepressible humour. The following article comprises the preface to the book, written by former secretary-general of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Salim Ahmed Salim in honour of Tajudeen's enormous contribution to Pan-Africanism.

Sonangol and the looting of Angola's oil

Rafael Marques de Morais


cc C A
Manuel Vicente, chair and director-general of Angolan state oil company Sonangol, had the distinction in 2008 of doing a business deal with himself in taking a percentage of Sonangol Holdings in his own name, writes Rafael Marques de Morais. This was an act in direct contravention of the country's 'Law on Public Probity', Marques de Morais stresses.

Protecting investors, but what about the people?

Dissecting the contradictions of agricultural investment in Sierra Leone

Joan Baxter


cc M V B
The large-scale acquisition for industrial agriculture in African and other developing countries has been described as a global land grab, 'threatening food, seed and land sovereignty of family farmers, social stability, environmental health and biodiversity around the world', writes Joan Baxter. While it is understandable that investors deny that this kind of agricultural investment is a ‘land grab’, says Baxter, what is perplexing is that ‘the same kind of rhetoric is coming from some whose job it is to protect Africa’s farmers’ rights and their farmland from exploitative foreign takeover’.

Too much hype about mobile technology!

Sokari Ekine


cc V L
There’s a tendency among technophiles and people in the development industry ‘to state the obvious and make it sound incredible’, writes Sokari Ekine, in this week’s round-up of the African blogosphere, but AppAfrica’s insights on Google SMS in Uganda make a refreshing change.

Uganda: The silent practice of deportations

Bernadette Lyodu


cc M B
Deportations to and from Uganda encompass a largely unreported world of human rights abuses, writes Bernadette Iyodu. Those returning are commonly immediately regarded as a threat as potential political dissidents, while those deported from Uganda face a murky world of debilitating bureaucracy and detention.

Africa and the 2010 UK elections: Party manifestos

Alex Free


cc P N
As millions of UK citizens cast their votes in the country’s general and local elections, Alex Free considers the attitudes of the three major parties – Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats – towards engaging with other parts of the world as set out in their manifestos, for a sense of how the outcome of the election might affect Africa and the global South.

Ethiopia: The fire next time

Alemayehu G. Mariam


With Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's regime gearing up to set things firmly in its favour, Ethiopia's upcoming national election this month is already a done deal, writes Alemayehu G. Mariam. Zenawi's threatening gestures towards opposition leaders and dissenting political activists, Mariam stresses, are simply part of a broader campaign of pre-electoral intimidation and political paralysis.

My house is your house

An interview with Tony Ehrenreich

Phumlani Majavu


cc O D
In an interview with Tony Ehrenreich, COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) Western Cape provincial secretary, Phumlani Majavu discusses the extravagance of Julius Malema and the differences between Jacob Zuma and Thabo Mbeki's interaction with the ANC (African National Congress).

No band-aid solution for South Africa’s racial problems

William Gumede


cc Versionz
‘Band-aid solutions to South Africa’s deep-seated racial problems are simply foolish’, writes William Gumede, and ‘it is naive to think that given the more than 300 years of colonialism and apartheid, racist attitudes will magically evaporate in under two decades. Until we acknowledge that racism is deeply embedded in South African society, instead of living in denial, pretending racial incidents are "isolated" events, solutions will only paper over the cracks and reconciliation across racial divides will remain elusive.’

AFRICOM and the US's hidden battle for Africa

Ba Karang


cc US Army
Stressing that recent US military interventions represent nothing more than 'the expansion and consolidation of Western capital', Ba Karang takes a look at the emergence of the US AFRICOM (African Command) programme. The African continent's emergence as a key oil and energy provider has not escaped the attention of the US government, Karang notes, and we are now seeing the 'aggressive birth' of AFRICOM.


Is democracy possible here in the UK?


Is democracy possible here in the UK?

13 May Post-Election Reflections
Reflections on what the recent UK election tells us about the health, or
otherwise, of democracy in the UK with:

Firoze Manji, Editor in Chief, Pambazuka News
Colin Leys (Goldsmiths and Queens University, Ontario, author of
Market-Driven Politics, 2000)
Hilary Wainwright, Editor, Red Pepper
Heather Wakefield, UNISON
Chaired by Nick Couldry, Goldsmiths, University of London

5.30pm Goldsmiths main building RHB 309

For more details, write to Nick Couldry, n.couldry[at] of visit

Comment & analysis

Voices from Bolivia: World Peoples’ Climate Conference

Nnimmo Bassey and Sharif Abdel Kouddous


cc Fred R
Democracy Now! producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous spoke with Nnimmo Bassey outside the World Peoples’ Climate Conference gates in Tiquipaya, Bolivia.

Homophobia? It is ‘demophobia’ really!

Hama Tuma


cc Wikimedia
The surge in anti-gay statements by leaders across the continent is aimed at diverting the attention of people both at home and abroad from the lack of good governance and democracy, writes Hama Tuma.

Imagine if the Tea Party was black

Tim Wise


cc K D
As the US's Tea Party marches on, Tim Wise invites readers to imagine if the movement's participants were black.

Why should one be proud of one's identity or country?

Elyas Mulu Kiros


cc R O
Why should one take pride in one’s identity or country, asks Elyas Mulu Kiros, in an exploration of the tension between national and ethnic identities in Ethiopia.

April: Remembering genocide

Gerald Caplan


cc C M
The anniversaries of the Rwandan and Armenian genocides and the Jewish Holocaust all occur in April, writes Gerald Caplan, but last month’s memorial service at Tufts University in Boston was unusual in bringing together survivors from all three affected communities to bear witness together.

May Day: Building a Nigerian Labour Party as a people’s voice

Kola Ibrahim


cc S
Fiercely critical of the Nigerian political and business classes' perpetual money-grabbing and disenfranchising of ordinary Nigerians, Kola Ibrahim makes the case for Nigeria's Labour Party to develop into a 'mega-party' representative of the country's majority.

Advocacy & campaigns

Radical philosophy under threat in the UK


Richard Pithouse weighs in on the news breaking this week that the Philosophy Department at Middlesex University in London is to be closed down on the grounds that their work 'made no "measurable" contribution to the University.'

World Press Freedom Day, Nigeria: Three journalists murdered


On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, Sokari Ekine reflects on the murders of three Nigerian journalists. She accuses the Nigerian press of colluding with government in its own oppression and presenting an illusion of the free press by failing to defend its own members.

Pan-African Postcard

May Day and worker solidarity

Horace Campbell


Marking International Workers' Day on 1 May, Horace Campbell argues that it is only through re-focusing on workers' rights and representation and genuine democracy for all that African people will be able to fully liberate themselves from the exploitation of international capitalism.

Ocampo’s coming, the witnesses are running

L. Muthoni Wanyeki


As part of his investigation into the country's post-election violence in 2008, International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo's visit to Kenya this week 'will be important symbolically – particularly in terms of how it is received and responded to by the relevant state agencies, departments and ministries', writes L. Muthoni Wanyeki. But will it secure the accountability needed to ensure that this never happens again?

Letters & Opinions

Church’s hypocrisy on Kenya constitution

Responses to ‘Women's rights and Kenya's constitution: Challenging “men of faith”’

Ciiru Njehu, Nzilani, Kĩriakũ wa Kĩnyua


Responding to an article by Beth Maina and Cenya Ciyendi, Nzilani writes that ‘the anti-constitution campaign by various church leaders in Kenya is an attempt to exert their authority and power in the face of the government’. Ciiru Njehu hopes Kenyans will ‘recognise the hypocrisy of the church leaders’, while Kĩriakũ wa Kĩnyua says it ‘is time for the “voiceless” to speak-out for themselves’.

The way forward for Kenyan civil society

A response to ‘Kenya's civil society needs a new vision’

Simon Kokoyo


Responding to an article by Zaya Yeebo, Simon Kokoyo writes that ‘the agenda for people-driven change or development in Kenya has always been either hijacked by people with ulterior motives or externally driven.’

African Writers’ Corner

The Voiceless Cry

Nancy Muigei


The silent cries of the innocent,
Abandoned in the dark,
Stabbed in the night,
Shot by the wayside,
By masked men in ‘plain clothes’

We not know their names
We know their masters
Actions of intimidation
The voiceless cry!

Seekers of truth strangled
Maimed in daylight…

We have seen them,
We know them
But in little whispers we talk of them;

Intimidated by the lack of;
Crucified for the act of;

Bailing for the blood of the innocent
Kill and maim for what they cannot provide

The voice of the voiceless
Crying in the silent wilderness
Strangled by very powers we pay

We have seen them abduct kill and maim
We have seen them tap and disconnect
In fears we live
In confidence we cry

They abduct
They kill
And silence
Yet the voiceless die in the silent
Those with voice are now in borders
Those with voice never will return – Oulu, Kingara
Those with voice fear

When will the new dawn rise?

Emerging powers in Africa Watch

Deepening Africa-China engagement: The African Journalist Study Tour

Hayley Herman and Sanusha Naidu


Four African journalists have taken part in a study tour to Beijing, initiated and conducted by Fahamu’s Emerging Powers in Africa Programme. Hayley Herman and Sanusha Naidu report back on the visit, and invite readers to contribute their voices to a forthcoming newsletter that will provide African perspectives on the emerging powers in Africa.

Highlights French edition

Pambazuka News 144: La CPI et les massacres du 28 septembre en Guinée


Zimbabwe update

Diamond company official abducted


Andrew Cranswick, the CEO of African Consolidated Resources (ACR), the company at the centre of a legal battle over the Chiadzwa diamonds claim, says one of their officials was abducted from the ACR offices in Harare on Thursday. He told SW Radio Africa that ACR Financial Officer Ian Harris was abducted at 4pm by members of Mines Minister Obert Mpofu's private police, the CID Mineral Squad. Cranswick said the police are refusing to tell lawyers where Harris has been taken.

MDC youth leader out on free bail after allegedly insulting Mugabe


MDC provincial youth chairman for Mashonaland Central, Tonderai Samhu, appeared in court on Tuesday facing allegations of insulting Robert Mugabe. Samhu handed himself over to the law and order section in Bindura on Monday. Police had been hunting him down since he organized a rally in Mvurwi last week Wednesday to bid farewell to the late MDC provincial Chairman Biggie Chigonero.

Opposition infighting raises spectre of violence


A public disagreement between Zimbabwe's Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, and Finance Minister Tendai Biti over pay increases in public servants' salaries is being seen as evidence of greater divisions between two of the most senior leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Zimbabwe leaders unite over sanctions


Zimbabwe's three leading figures have condemned international sanctions on the country at a World Economic Forum conference in Tanzania. In a rare show of unity, President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara appealed for investment. Only Mr Tsvangirai had been expected to represent Zimbabwe at the forum in Dar es Salaam.

Zimbabwe shelves key privatisation


Zimbabwe has announced it was shelving the privatisation of the country's huge iron and steel company, in what is suspected to be a growing bickering in Zimbabwe's coalition government. Arcelor Mittal, the world's biggest iron and steel company, and India's Jindal Steel and Power company, had been short-listed to buy a controlling stake in the loss-making Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Zisco).

Women & gender

Burkina Faso: Project boosts education, health care for women farmers


A United Nations-backed pilot programme that supplies electric generators to rural women farmers in Burkina Faso, freeing them from lengthy chores so that they can devote more time to education, childcare and health care, is to be adopted on a national scale.

Global: The worst places to be a mother


Eight of the bottom 10-ranked countries in Save the Children’s annual Mothers Index, which ranks the best and worst places to be a mother, are in sub-Saharan Africa, says the NGO. Afghanistan, Niger, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Sudan, Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea form the bottom 10; while Norway, Australia, Iceland and Sweden come top.

South Africa: Community radio takes on gender and World Cup


The world’s media eyes will soon squarely focus on South Africa, with millions from across the globe tuning in via multimillion-dollar broadcasts. Yet, as Deborah Walter points out, even as the international media and big broadcasters move in, and journalists descend from all over the world, in South Africa, like much of Africa, community radio is still a key source of information and news for many communities, linking local activities and issues with international perspectives.

South Africa: Women shut out of the labour market


South Africa has one of the highest rates in the world of unemployment for comparable middle-income countries. The latest official statistics show that by December 2009, around 4,2 million people, out of a total labour force of 17 million, were officially unemployed. Yet, this figure does not include almost two million individuals who have simply lost hope of ever finding a job. For women, the situation is nothing but drastic, writes Kimani Nding'u.

Human rights

Africa: FAO head calls for more focus on hunger, malnutrition


The head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has appealed for greater attention to be focused on the food security situation in sub-Saharan Africa, where nearly one third of the population is hungry. With nearly 270 million people malnourished out of a total population in the region of more than 800 million, “this situation clearly demands our urgent and undivided attention,” Jacques Diouf, FAO Director-General, told government ministers at the agency’s regional conference in Luanda, Angola.

DRC: Death penalty verdict prompts concern


Congolese authorities have been urged to ensure two soldiers and a civilian sentenced to death for murdering a reporter face some form of punishment. A right groups says it fears as there is a moratorium on death penalties in the Democratic Republic of Congo those found guilty this week may be freed.

DRC: Kinshasa rejects report of army atrocities


A report alleging that government troops summarily executed fifty civilians in early April in fighting around Mbandaka, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo's northwestern Équateur Province has been rejected by the government. "About fifty Congolese civilians were killed without warning by the Congolese Armed Forces (known by its French acronym, FARDC) in April 2010," says a report by human rights group ASADHO (Association africaine de défense des droits de l’homme), a group based in Kinshasa, capital of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

North Africa: Campaign spotlights disabled Tunisians' right to work


Many disabled Tunisians face towering obstacles in their daily lives, especially in finding jobs. But for some, having a handicap is just another challenge to overcome. "We need to stop begging and appearing pathetic," visually impaired student Beshir Nasri told Magharebia during the Saturday (May 1st) wrap-up of the "2010 Hope" campaign.

Rwandan: Genocide suspects in Zambia: A call for justice


African Rights, REDRESS and the Southern Africa Litigation Centre have sent a confidential report to President Rupiah Banda of Zambia detailing the names and roles of 16 key suspects of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda who are believed to be living in Zambia. The report follows a visit of President Banda to Rwanda in mid- January 2010 during which he expressed determination to take timely and effective action to ensure that Zambia is no longer a safe haven for individuals who are alleged to have taken part in planning, organizing and executing the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

South Africa: Domestic workers in South Africa: It's modern day slavery


There are approximately one million, mainly black women, who are domestic workers in South Africa. The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) is the overarching piece of legislation that regulates their wages and working conditions in addition to, broadly speaking, all unorganised workers in South Africa.

Refugees & forced migration

Ethiopia: Major water project for Somali refugees


UNHCR has completed and inaugurated a multi-million dollar water and electrification project that will benefit tens of thousands of people, including Somali refugees and members of the local community, in a semi-arid region of eastern Ethiopia. The US$5 million Jarrar Valley Water Supply scheme in the country's Somali region is using electricity to pump 1.3 million litres of fresh water a day to 51,000 people, including 16,000 refugees.

Fahamu refugee e-newsletter

April 2010


The April edition of the Fahamu refugee e-newsletter, Rwandan refugees in Uganda fear forced repatriation as threat of Cessation Clause looms, Ethiopians repatriated from Puntland, urgent action needed to save lives of Saharawi activists, and Kakuma Refugee Free Press threatened.

South Africa: Refugee's wife raped after he speaks to press


Michael Uredi, 37, a cabinet maker, came to South Africa from the Eastern Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) eight years ago. He is a member of the Bembe ethnic group, married to a woman from the Banyamulenge, so he is not welcome at home and his wife was raped by his "own people" before they fled. This is his story.

Southern Africa: The ugly face of Botswana


Were it not for the police men in blue tunics with a Botswana coat of arms patrolling the cordoned off area, most visitors to the Dukwi refugee camp would barely realize that they are in Botswana. The camp, which is synonymous with Botswana’s hard line policy towards refugees, is a grim hovel where those inside have different rights from those outside. Residents can not move out of the camp without an official pass.

West Africa: Sierra Leonean and Liberian refugees feel abandoned in Guinea

Manuel Toledo


Kountaya refugee camp
"Kountaya was one of the biggest refugee camps in West Africa," Sheku said, pointing at the old buildings surrounded by the Guinean jungle. After a long pause, he added, somewhat nostalgic, "while UNHCR and the other agencies were here, we had schools and medical assistance; we had many cultural and sport events. I used to play basketball. But then they said that, since the war in Sierra Leone was over, we had no reason to be here. And they abandoned us."

Social movements

26th FAO Regional Conference for Africa

Civil Society Parallel Consultation Declaration in Luanda – 4 May 2010


We, representatives of organizations of farmers, fisherfolk, Indigenous Peoples, pastoralists, women’s groups, NGOs and other civil society organizations met on May 4 2010 here in Luanda to deliberate on issues affecting food security in Africa during the 26 FAO Regional Conference for Africa. The objective of civil society’s engagement in this process is to contribute critically and provide own perspectives informed by social organisations and communities experiences in their efforts to achieve food security and food sovereignty.

Nigeria: Sign JINN's Letter to Chevron's CEO


In the Niger Delta, Chevron’s operations have devastated communities’ local economies and environment. Chevron engages in gas flaring, the burning of associated gas that comes out of the ground when oil is extracted. People live literally next door to the toxic, roaring, ground-level flares—burning 24 hours a day, some for 40 years. Chevron is among the worst offenders in Nigeria, flaring over 84% of its gas in 2008. Sign and add your own comments to this letter to Chevron's CEO.

Africa labour news

South Africa: Transnet ups wage offer to avert strike


A South African workers' union said on Friday that logistics group Transnet had improved a wage offer to its workers in a bid to avert a strike that could cripple rail, pipeline and port operations in the country. A strike at monopoly Transnet could paralyse coal and iron ore exports, distribution of fuel and interrupt shipping at ports in Africa's biggest economy.

Tanzania: Dar’s 100% pay hike sparks labour-capital battle


The Trade Unions Confederation of Tanzania has called for a nationwide strike over government’s reluctance to implement a minimum 100 per cent pay hike proposal for workers in the private sector. The government had, after a series of negotiations with sector players and an industry survey settled for a minimum wage of Tsh120,000 ($88.8).

Emerging powers news

China Global Investment Tracker: 2010


China's financial behavior is increasingly important to the United States and the international community. The China Global Investment Tracker created by The Heritage Foundation is the only publicly available, comprehensive dataset of large worldwide Chinese investments and contracts beyond Treasury bonds. Details are available on over 200 attempted transactions -- failed and successful -- over $100 million in all major industries, including energy, mining, transportation and banking.

Emerging Actors in Africa news round-up


In this week's roundup of emerging powers news, Zimbabwe and China sign $400m power plant agreement, World Bank unit to finance Chinese Africa venture, Indian IT firm set to invest in Uganda, Seychelles-China relations accelerate with new momentum, and Niger coup raises questions about China’s tactics.

Global: Two years on from the Forum Summit

The future of Africa-India engagement


This conference took place on the second anniversary of the first India-Africa Forum held in New Delhi in 2008. Although India and the African continent have been closely linked through long-established trade roots, there has been too little debate and analysis on India in Africa and this conference was an effort to provide a platform for a more balanced and focused debate, away from the existing overemphasis on China and its efforts in Africa.

Tracking where China invests


The People's Republic of China will be among the world's largest investors for a long time to come, writes Derek Scissors. Its official foreign exchange reserves are closing in on $2.5 trillion and its financial institutions hold hundreds of billions more.

Elections & governance

Burundi: France gives 90,000 Euros for elections


The French government has provided financial assistance to the tune of 90,000 euros to Burundi for the organisation of the series of elections planned in the coming four months, an official source said in Bujumbura.

Cote d’Ivoire: Securing the Electoral Process


This latest report from the International Crisis Group, warns of the risks involved after President Laurent Gbagbo recently dissolved the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) and the government. Preparations are now at a virtual standstill, and the process of identifying who is eligible to vote carries serious risks of violence.

Guinea Bissau: ECOWAS military chiefs on fact-finding mission


A four-member delegation of ECOWAS Chiefs of Defence Staff arrived in Guinea Bissau on Monday, on a fact-finding mission in connection with the 1 April incident by a section of the country's armed forces that resulted in the brief detention of the Prime Minister and the Chief of Defence Staff.

Mauritius: Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam wins election


Opposition leader Paul Berenger has conceeded defeat in parliamentary elections in Mauritius.
Confirmed results gave incumbent Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam's Labour alliance 41 out of the 62 parliamentary seats that were being contested. Economic and constitutional reform, fraud, corruption, drug trafficking and ethnicity were some of the main issues of the election.

Nigeria: Yar'Adua laid to rest


The remains of late Nigeria's President Umaru Yar'Adua were laid to rest Thursday evening in his home town of Katsina in the country's northern part. After funeral prayers led by the Chief Imam of Katsina, Mohammed Aliu, the body, draped in the national flag, was taken by foot some six kilometres away to the Dan Marna cemetery, one of the top cemeteries in the ancient town.

Sudan: Regional perspectives on the prospect of southern independence


This latest background report from the International Crisis Group examines the historical relationships, strategic interests, and recent engagement of key regional states as well as their views on the possible independence of the South. Many of Sudan’s bordering states were involved in, or affected by its civil wars, and each would be directly affected by either peaceful separation or a return to conflict.

Togo: PM resigns


The Togolese Prime Minister, Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, has presented his resignation and that of his government to President Faure Gnassingbé as a constitutional requirement following the investiture on Monday of the country's elected president for a second five-year term.

West Africa: Nigeria swears in new president


Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria's acting president, has been sworn in as the country's new leader following the death of Umaru Yar'Adua. Jonathan took the oath of office at a ceremony in the capital, Abuja, on Thursday, just hours after officials announced the death of Yar'Adua following a long illness.


Africa: Macmillan admits to bribery over World Bank Sudan aid deal


A Macmillan Education representative made the undisclosed bribery payments to a local official in an unsuccessful attempt to secure the multi-million pound contract for an education project in southern Sudan. The World Bank said it had banned Macmillan from bidding for any of its contracts for six years.

Egypt: Corruption muddies labour pool


Saeed El-Masry was born poor, raised poor and, unless he can get ‘kosa,’ will probably die poor. Kosa is the Arabic word for zucchini, but it also means someone in a position of power who can open doors to gainful employment. "There are no good jobs unless you know a cabinet minister or pay off a high-ranking official," El-Masry resigns. "That’s the way it’s always been in Egypt."

Global: Does corruption create poverty?


The issue of corruption resonates in developing countries, writes Walden Bello. In the Philippines, for instance, the slogan of the coalition that is likely to win the 2010 presidential elections is "Without corrupt officials, there are no poor people."

Kenya: Kenya's corruption tax


Kepher Otieno, lead reporter in Kenya for the Global Integrity Report: 2009, is concerned with the lack of financial accountability in his country. Yet he doubts that legal reform alone will curb graft in Kenya. Speaking to this impunity, Kepher describes his Mashup Challenge entry as an attempt to "dig into possible solutions" including coupling tax law reform with greater levels of auditing and citizen input in resource allocation decisions.

Nigeria: State drops corruption fighter Nuhu Ribadu charges


Authorities in Nigeria have dropped charges against the former head of the country's anti-corruption agency. Nuhu Ribadu had been accused of not declaring his assets while in office. He was named head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, but was removed when he stood down in 2007.


Africa: What will continent export if it leases farmland to Arabs?


When Citadel Capital announced its plan to open an eastern Africa office in Nairobi by January this year, there was little excitement even as the Egyptian firm went ahead to explain that its interest in the region will extend to food transport. By the time the announcement was made late last year, Citadel Capital was already a household name in the region –just fresh from acquiring a stake in struggling Rift Valley Railways (RVR).

Africa: World Economic Forum on Africa opens


More than 10 African heads of state and government were converging here Wednesday for the three-day conference of the World Economic Forum that is specifically dedicated to the continent's economic future. A brainstorming session on 'Turning Vision into Reality' was billed to kick- start the meeting by examining the current, changing global landscape and identify opportunities that can unlock Africa's growth potential and the barriers to social and economic progress in the coming year.

East Africa: Don't kill the Uganda Millennium Science Initiative


Government indifference threatens to put an end to the Uganda Millennium Science Initiative (MSI) project, says former executive director of the Africa Academy of Sciences, Tom Egwang. The US$30 million MSI programme, financed by the World Bank and launched in 2006, has made great progress in many areas including malaria vaccines, fisheries, climate change and agri-biotechnology, says Egwan.

Global: Does anti-poverty aid really work?


Governments and charities have spent billions to try to wipe out poverty, but award-winning economist Esther Duflo says we really don't know if that money has been well spent. But as a result of Duflo's pioneering work, we may be getting some answers to that question. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor has led the way in showing how the scientific method can be applied to determining what policies actually work.

South Africa: Half the country living in poverty


About half of South Africa's population is living in poverty, a problem that is not going to be solved overnight, says the Deputy Director-General of Social Development, Selwyn Jehoma. He said the poverty situation in the country was "very significant" and most people believed it would take about a generation to solve.

South Africa: Mixed feelings about 2010 opportunities


The announcement that South Africa would host the 2010 World Cup prompted a whirlwind of heavy investment in infrastructure, with high expectations for an economic boom. Obviously, the 2010 World Cup will also boost tourism, but how far will these benefit society as a whole, not just a privileged few? asks Nasser Kigwangallah.

Southern Africa: Namibia, Angola to build $1.1 bln dam


Namibia and Angola have partnered to build a US$1.1 billion hydropower plant on a river that runs along their common borders. The move is to help end power disruptions that have plagued their economies for decades.

Swaziland: Not much benefit in preferential trade agreement


A decade after the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), a preferential US trade agreement, became law on 18 May 2000, there are questions over the benefits, if any, derived from the initiative. AGOA was touted by the US government as offering "tangible incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets"; in return, selected countries could access US markets without restrictive quotas or import taxes.

West Africa: Mali gets FCFA 9.3 billion for vocational training


Canada will grant Mali CFA F 9.3 billion to enable the African country train health professionals for a period of six months, according to a memorandum of understanding (MOU), signed Wednesday in Bamako, the capital, between the two countries. The grant will also enable Mali to implement its Programme for Health and Social Development (PRODESS) and the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategic Framework(GPRSF).

Health & HIV/AIDS

East Africa: Activists 'escorted' out of Tanzania


A group of Aids activists arrived in Johannesburg on Thursday afternoon after attending meetings related to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Dar es Salam. They had been detained by Tanzanian authorities in the country's capital and escorted to the airport.

Ethiopia: In search of "made-to-measure" HIV prevention


With more than half of all Ethiopian adults tested for HIV in the past five years and a campaign for behaviour change in place, specialists are now calling for a more targeted approach. “Most-at-risk populations” (MARPs) have to be targeted through better understanding of how the epidemic is affecting them and in turn, to develop a more specific response.

Global: Headaches for HIV-positive travellers


China recently became the latest country to lift travel restrictions on people living with HIV, following in the footsteps of the United States. "Every individual should have equal access to freedom of movement, regardless of HIV status," UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé commented on China's decision.

Global: Male cut: Some protection against high-risk HPV


Adult male circumcision appears to have some protective effect against high-risk strains of human papilloma virus, according to two studies published in the May 15th edition of the Journal of Infectious Diseases. In HIV-positive men, circumcision reduced the prevalence and incidence of multiple high-risk penile human papilloma virus infections. Circumcision also had these benefits for HIV-negative men, and was also associated with clearance of infections.

Malawi: PMTCT battles missing drugs, moms


Services to prevent the mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV are gaining ground in Malawi but the country continues to battle drug shortages and mothers and infants that disappear to follow-up and treatment. In 2005 only three percent of HIV-positive mothers were using PMTCT services, and mother-to-child transmission of HIV accounted for 30 percent of all new infections nationally.

South Africa: Clinical research in "serious decline"


Clinical research in South Africa is in serious decline because of two decades of "disinvestment" — leading to an ageing workforce, "chronic underfunding" of its Medical Research Council and "grossly insufficient" funding for research professorships, says a report.

South Africa: Therapeutic TB vaccine could reduce latent TB treatment to 1 month


A vaccine designed to be used alongside isoniazid preventive therapy to shorten the course of drug treatment in people with latent TB will shortly undergo trials in South Africa, manufacturer Archivel Farma announced this week. Latent infection with tuberculosis, in which the bacteria which cause the disease are walled off and unable to multiply in the lungs, is present in around one-third of the world’s population.

Southern Africa: Malawi battles measles outbreak


Malawi is urgently looking for US$4.1 million to fight a measles outbreak that is on the increase in the southern African country. So far, according to Health Secretary Chris Kang'ombe, over 2, 000 cases have been recorded.

Southern Africa: Zambia pushes anti-counterfeit bill despite health danger


Zambia is pushing forward with formulating an anti-counterfeit draft law which will include medicines, despite the controversy that has surrounded similar laws in East Africa and despite having existing legislation which has been used to successfully prosecute counterfeiters of medicines


Southern Africa: 210,000 textbooks for Angolan students


About 210,000 primary school students from eight of Angola's 18 provinces will benefit from two million text-books offered to the Ministry of Education by the European Union (EU).


North Africa: Being gay in Morocco


Samir Bergachi is unstoppable. Barely 23 years old, the young Moroccan is simply not content to live his homosexuality openly in a country where it is considered as a crime. For the past 6 years, Samir has been running the first Moroccan gay association, kif-kif. And only a month ago, he caused a real stir: the launching of Mithly, the first gay magazine in the Arab world. Some find his initiatives inadmissible. Others admire his courage.

Zambia: Channel funds to projects, not gay rights, donors urged


Northmead Assemblies of God Bishop Joshua Banda has advised the donor community to channel their funds to development programmes rather than supporting practises such as homosexuality that are alien to the Zambian society. And Bishop Joe Imakando of Bread of Life Church International said homosexuals and lesbians had no room in society because Zambia had been declared a Christian nation.


Global: World ecosystems to pay high price with increased globalisation


With increased globalisation, urbanisation and growing prosperity, the world's ecosystems will continue to pay a high price as the toll has never been greater, according to two new UN reports.

Horn of Africa: Somaliland needs climate change plan


The human and environmental disruption wreaked by drought in Somaliland, where more than 60 percent of people raise livestock for a living, means the self-declared, but barely recognized, independent state should draw up its own plan for climate change adaptation, according to a new report.

Land & land rights

Sierra Leone: Protecting investors, but what about the people?


The large-scale acquisition for industrial agriculture in African and other developing countries has been described as a global land grab, ‘threatening food, seed and land sovereignty of family farmers, social stability, environmental health and biodiversity around the world’, writes Joan Baxter. While it is understandable that investors deny that this kind of agricultural investment is a ‘land grab’, says Baxter, what is perplexing is that ‘the same kind of rhetoric is coming from some whose job it is to protect Africa’s farmers’ rights and their farmland from exploitative foreign takeover’.

Sudan: German company brought to justice over abuses in dam?


The Merowe Dam on the Nile in Northern Sudan is one of the largest and most destructive hydropower projects in Africa. Commissioned in 2009, the project affects up to 70,000 people, many of whom were displaced from the fertile Nile Valley to arid desert locations. Thousands of people were flushed out of their houses by raising waters before they were properly resettled.

Media & freedom of expression

Cameroon: Open letter to Paul Biya


Reporters Without Borders has written to President Paul Biya calling for exceptional measures and bold, deep-seated reforms to improve press freedom in Cameroon. The Cameroonian authorities cannot continue to take no action in response to the death two weeks ago of journalist Ngota Ngota Germain, also known as Bibi Ngota, in Yaoundé’s Kondengui prison, the letter said.

Egypt: Anger at Islamist call to ban Arabian Nights


Egyptian writers have condemned a call by a group of Islamic lawyers for the classic book Arabian Nights to be banned because it is "obscene". The group, Lawyers Without Shackles, filed a complaint with Egypt's prosecutor general after the collection of folk tales was republished.

Nigeria: Cameraman found dead


Reporters Without Borders has expressed deep shock at the death in unexplained circumstances of cameraman Jerry Usanga of Channels Television, whose body was found on the roadside by passers-by, on 4 May 2010. The spot where Usanga’s body was found, in Calabar, Cross River state in the south-east of the country, is close to the headquarters of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).

North Africa: Maghreb journalists mark World Press Freedom Day


Government officials, civil society leaders and journalists from across the Maghreb gathered in Nouakchott Monday (May 3rd) for a large regional celebration of World Press Freedom Day, held under the banner, "Freedom of information and right to know, what future for the Maghreb?"

Somalia: Tribute to Sheikh Noor Mohamed Abkey

Jubbaland Independent Journalists Association


The chairman of Jubbaland Independent Journalists Association (JIJA) Mr. Ali Yasin Gurbe together with all the other members of this association hereby send an obituary to the family and friends of the slain famous Somali Journalist in Mogadishu Mr. Sheikh Noor Mohamed Abkey. Abkey was a senior journalist and had a reputation within the Somali journalists. Indeed, we shall miss him. Also the Somali people will miss his noble service. We are also very worried of the ever increasing persecution against the Somali journalists. May Allah rest his soul in eternal peace.

Uganda: Journalists under threat


Supporters of Uganda's ruling party, including government officials, are threatening and intimidating journalists in an effort to curb criticism of the government, Human Rights Watch said. Human Rights Watch urged the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) government to honor World Press Freedom Day on May 3, 2010, by publicly condemning such practices and amending laws to protect free expression in the lead-up to the 2011 elections.

Conflict & emergencies

CAR: Civilians fleeing clashes in moved to Chad refugee camp


In a remote southern part of Chad, the UNHCR began this week the transfer of some 1,100 newly arrived Central African refugees from the border to a refugee camp where they can be assisted. These refugees crossed into southern Chad's Moyen Chari province two weeks ago, after violence forced them from villages in northern Central African Republic (CAR).

Chad: The UN must continue to protect civilians


Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people living in eastern Chad, including more than 450,000 Sudanese refugees from Darfur and internally displaced Chadians, are at risk if the UN mission in Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) leaves or no longer has a mandate to protect civilians.

Djibouti: Half rural population need emergency food aid


About half of Djibouti’s rural population will need emergency food assistance this year due to the combined effects of drought, livestock losses, unfavourable livestock-to-cereal terms of trade and high staple food prices, according to an assessment by the government and UN agencies.

DRC: Dozens dead as boat capsizes


Dozens of people are dead or missing after a boat capsized in a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The boat, carrying 125 people, overturned on Wednesday evening in the Congo River near the city of Kindu, the capital of Congo's eastern Maniema province.

DRC: Minor rebels, major terror


They may number as few as 100 men, women and adolescents, but Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) units scattered across the forests of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo's Orientale Province have sown sufficient terror to make some 318,000 people take flight, abandoning their homes and fields, in many cases to the uncertain sanctuary of urban centres.

Kenya: Your guns or your freedom, please


Thousands of security personnel have been deployed across northern Kenya to confiscate weapons after a voluntary disarmament exercise netted only a small fraction of the 50,000 guns thought to be in civilian hands. Firearms are widespread among pastoralist communities in east Africa, where police are rare and cattle theft and intercommunal conflict is common. Similar operations are taking place in neighbouring Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda. Borders between these countries have been temporarily sealed.

Southern Africa: Botswana battles Okavango flood as villagers evacuate


Twenty villages in Botswana have been evacuated after the Okavango River burst its banks. Water in the river, which starts in Angola, passes through Namibia and empties into Botswana's Okavango swamp, has reached unprecedented levels.

Sudan: Armed men ambush Darfur peacekeepers, two killed


Armed men ambushed U.N.-African Union peacekeepers in Darfur on Friday, killing two soldiers and seriously injuring three in Sudan's troubled west, the latest in a wave of attacks on the under-equipped force. Separately Darfur's main rebel group said on Friday it had clashed twice with government troops in the past three days, warning more attacks would mean "all-out war" and the collapse of a fragile peace process.

Sudan: Rebels 'freeze' peace talks


Sudan's largest rebel group says it will suspend peace talks with the Sudanese government because of alleged violence in the west of the country. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) accuses the Sudanese government of bombing its positions in West Darfur state, near the Chadian border.

eNewsletters & mailing lists

Africa: Finance ministers vs. development goals

AfricaFocus Bulletin May 4, 2010 (100504)


"After two heated debates during the recent African ministers of finance meeting in Malawi, national delegations from South Africa, Rwanda and Egypt succeeded in deleting any reference to budgetary targets for education, health, agriculture and water in the Common Position on MDGs and the conference report and resolutions. Their action brings into question the extent to which African finance ministers are committed to continental integration, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the declarations and resolutions of their own heads of state." - Geoffrey Njora

Courses, seminars, & workshops

Africa: Great Lakes field course


The first Great Lakes Field Course will take place 17-23 July 2010 in Bujumbura, Burundi. The course is a graduate-level, residential programme designed for aid workers, peacekeepers, researchers and diplomats – those already living and working in the region and those about to start. Taught in French and English, with interpretation available, the course will offer a full programme of talks, seminars and visits to sites of interest, with many opportunities for informal discussion with the teaching staff and other participants. Please download a prospectus below. To request an application form, please write to the Great Lakes Course Administrator. The application deadline is 7 May 2010.

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