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Cholera outbreak hits Kenya VP's hotel

Posted VERAH OKEYO in Nairobi

on  Thursday, June 22   2017 at  18:39

A cholera outbreak has been reported at Weston Hotel in Nairobi that is associated with Deputy President William Ruto.

The outbreak was reported as some guests, including doctors, were attending a science conference at the hotel.

The chairman of the conference, Dr George Nyale, confirmed the outbreak, saying there was no cause for alarm.

"We have contingency measures on the ground," he said.

He said tests were being run in the hotel and there were ambulances on standby to take people to the hospital.

Were suffering

A source, who sought anonymity, told Nation.co.ke that at least 47 were admitted to various hospitals in the city after they developed cholera-related symptoms.

The hotel’s management refused to talk to the Nation regarding the matter.

Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko denied the allegations of the “an outbreak of cholera at Weston”.

He said the victims were suffering from gastroenteritis, a common food related infection that is characterised by vomiting and diarrhoea.

Dr Kioko said the Ministry of Health’s department of Disease Surveillance and the National Public Health Laboratories had to conduct “microbiological and other tests to confirm if it is really cholera”.

Nairobi County Executive for Health Bernard Muia said there was a team from the Ministry of Health at the hotel to contain the issue.

The Weston Hotel forum, called “The Kenya International Scientific Lung Health Conference”, was organised by the Ministry of Health

It began on Tuesday and was scheduled to end on Friday.

Barely audible

The over 500 doctors and scientists had been discussing Kenya’s vulnerability to respiratory diseases since Tuesday.

One of the victims admitted to Nairobi Hospital was barely audible, saying the diarrhoea started Wednesday.

“I thought it was food poisoning, so I took water the whole day knowing it would pass,” he said.

The physician from Kisumu County, west of Nairobi, said he later realised that he could be suffering from cholera from the colour of his loose stool.

The toilets

There was a notice at the entrance of the conference on first floor in the hotel directing anyone experiencing stomach aches to a presidential suite.

The same poster was placed in the toilets, an indicator that the hotel was aware of the crisis.

At the entrance, there were there ambulances from Amref that entered the building.

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Ethiopian Airlines orders 10 airbus aircraft

Posted ANDUALEM SISAY in Addis Ababa

on  Thursday, June 22   2017 at  11:08

Ethiopian Airlines has placed an order to purchase 10 additional Airbus A350-900 aircraft.

CEO Tewolde GebreMariam said the additional purchase was aimed at expanding Ethiopian Airlines' long-haul route network.

“…We will deploy the additional aircraft on our long haul routes connecting Addis Ababa with destinations in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia," he said.

"Operating the youngest fleet in the industry with modern and comfortable customer features in cabin is one of the four pillars in our 15 years strategic road map, vision 2025, and this order placement for additional A-350s is one component of this strategy,'' he added.

Were on lease

Ethiopian Airlines last month became the first African carrier to operate the A350 when it took delivery of the first of 12 aircraft on order.
The carrier currently operates a fleet of four A350s, two of which were on lease, according to a press statement.

The new order tops-up the Addis Ababa-based carrier's fleet, enabling it to pursue its growth strategy and objectives over the coming years.
Ethiopian Airlines' A350-900s are configured in a two class layout seating 30 passengers in Business Class and 313 in Economy Class.

Passenger comfort

The spacious, quiet interior and mood lighting in the cabin contribute to superior levels of passenger comfort and well-being.

"The performance, operational and cost efficiencies we have achieved with our initial A350-900s have resulted in these additional 10 aircraft order placement and thereby suffice our ever-expanding global network,” said Mr Tewolde.

The A350 features the latest aerodynamic design and materials, including its carbon-fibre fuselage and wings. It is powered by new fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.

Double cabin

Ethiopian operates the youngest and most modern fleet with an average fleet age of less than five years.

"Ethiopian Airlines' repeat order is a resounding endorsement of the A350, its suitability, flexibility and unmatched economics. We are delighted that the innovative aircraft -the A350- is closely associated with the world's fastest growing and profitable carriers," said Mr John Leahy, the Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers.

Ethiopian says its fleet includes ultramodern and environmentally friendly aircraft such as Airbus A350, Boeing 787, Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 777- 200LR, Boeing 777-200 Freighter, Bombardier Q-400 double cabin with an average fleet age of five years.

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Why youth and women enterprises fail in Africa

Posted KEN WALIBORA in Nairobi

on  Monday, June 19   2017 at  17:35

Informality has been singled out as a major setback for youth and women’s business ventures in Africa.

Presenting the keynote address during the Partnership for Economic Policy conference at a Nairobi hotel on youth and female entrepreneurship, Prof Michael Chege, a renowned policy consultant, said in Kenya for instance, nearly half of all start-ups disintegrated before one year.

Only 5 per cent went beyond 15 years, he disclosed.

Prof Chege, clarified that it was not the lack of credit facilities that led to the more than 46 per cent sustainability failure of new business ventures by youth and women, but a lack of coordination, registration and preparedness, all of which were related to the lack of formality in the business environment.

Trial and error

However, Prof Chege argued that while failure could not be celebrated, it was also inappropriate to fear it.

Business entrepreneurship, he maintained, often succeeded after a series of trial and error and therefore youth and women should not be discouraged by initial bad results.

It was vital, the don said, to know where previous attempts failed and strategise on how to avoid the same pitfalls in future by trying new approaches to business.

Prof Chege said Africa held tremendous promise with its average entrepreneurs age being 31 years old compared to East Asia where the average age of entrepreneurs was 36 years.

Dismal share

On the whole, more Africans entered business compared to their Asian counterparts, but they also outnumbered the the latter in the frequency of failure.

It would seem, Prof Chege, suggested, that the dismal share of manufacturing sector, consisting on of 11 per cent of the continents Gross Domestic Product (GDP), explained the instability of business.

He said most enterprises focused on hospitality, as well as wholesale and retail ventures, and shied away from manufacturing which was the hallmark of economic growth in the strong Asian economies.

Without strengthening the manufacturing sector, Africa would continue lagging behind the rest of the world, he said.

Public policy

Prof Chege also decried the lack of emphasis on agrobusiness, despite its tremendous potential.
The conference, attended by more than 150 delegates from 37 countries from across the world, was officially opened by Kenya' Cabinet Secretary for Youth and Gender Affairs, Ms Sicily Kariuki.

She noted the pivotal link between public policy and research and pledged the commitment of the Kenya government to consider implementing proposals from the conference to improve youth and women entrepreneurship.

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Equatorial Guinea oil wealth 'squandered and stolen'

Posted ARNALDO VIEIRA in Luanda

on  Monday, June 19   2017 at  13:26

Equatorial Guinea’s mismanagement of its oil wealth has contributed to the chronic underfunding of its public health and education systems in violation of its human rights obligations, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.

HRW said in an 85-page report that the government spent only 2 to 3 per cent of its annual budget on health and education in 2008 and 2011, the years for which data is available, while devoting around 80 per cent to sometimes questionable
large-scale infrastructure projects.

The report is titled; Manna From Heaven’?: How Health and Education Pay the Price for Self-Dealing in Equatorial Guinea”.

It also exposes how, according to evidence presented in money laundering investigations carried out by several countries, senior Equatorial Guinea government officials reaped enormous profits from public construction
contracts awarded to companies they fully or partially owned, in many cases in partnership with foreigners, in an opaque and non-competitive process.

Little time left

“Declining oil reserves mean that there is very little time left for the government to correct course and significantly invest in improving the country’s woeful health and education indicators," says the report.

“Now that the economy has been doubly hit by declining oil production and prices, it is more critical than ever for the government to invest public funds in social services instead of dubious infrastructure
projects,” HRW quoted its business and human rights researcher Sarah Saadoun as saying.

“Ordinary people have paid the price for the ruling elite’s corruption,” she was further quoted.

Equatorial Guinea is a small central African nation of around 1 million people.

Was admitted

Its President Teodoro Obiang' Nguema is the world’s longest-serving leader and has ruled the former Spanish colony since 1979 when he ousted his uncle in a military coup.

Equatorial Guinea, though originally Spanish-speaking, applied to join Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking bloc) in 2006 and was admitted.

The Central African nation earned approximately $45 billion in oil revenues between 2000 and 2013, catapulting it from one of the world’s poorest countries to the one with the highest per capita income in Africa.

But since 2012, its GDP has contracted by 29 per cent and, according to the International Monetary Fund, oil reserves were expected to run dry by 2035 unless new ones were found.

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Madagascar in $225m airports renovation

Posted RIVONALA RAZAFISON in Antananarivo

on  Thursday, June 15   2017 at  12:26

Madagascar is renovating its two international airports at the cost of $225 million.

The Antananarivo Ivato International Airport and Fascene on the Nosy Be Island in north-western Madagascar, were being upgraded under the Ravinala Airports Finances project.

The project is being under taken by French companies, including the Aéroport de Paris Management, Bouygues Bâtiment International, Colas Madagascar and Meridiam.

Official documents indicate that the refurbishment concession contract was signed in 2015.

Existing runway

According to the documents, the Antananarivo Ivato International Airport will have a new terminal covering 17,500 meters square with an annual capacity of 1.5 million of international passengers.

The airport will be equipped with standard international facilities, while the existing runway will be renovated to accommodate all types of aircraft.

The Nosy Be’s old infrastructures was also being fully revamped.

President Hery Rajaonarimampinina said the work, which was expected to end within three years, would reflect the modern and dynamic and friendly image of Madagascar.

The confidence

“Any international airports are the symbol of the connection to the world,” he stressed when he visited the project site on Monday.

The president also termed the launch of the project as the consolidation of the confidence between the Malagasy government and foreign investors.

Madagascar recently adopted a new law governing the public-private partnership.

The island nation’s airport infrastructure was built five decades ago.

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Bank of China begins operations Angola

Posted ARNALDO VIEIRA in Luanda

on  Wednesday, June 7   2017 at  11:22

Bank of China (BOC) has opened its first branch in the Angolan capital Luanda.

The new BOC branch launched operations on Tuesday.

According to the Angolan Finance ministry, BOC will be a major link between Angolan institutions and other from around the world, and will ease financial transactions between Beijing and Luanda.

BOC provides loans, financing for businesses, credit cards as well as money management for high-net-worth individuals and companies.

The civil war

It also offers money market vehicles, investing opportunities and exchange and transfer services.

The BOC move to Angola is a major boost to the relations between the two states that have been cooperating in energy, finance, construction, agriculture and human resource development.

China has been particularly active in the reconstruction of Angola since the end of the civil war.

Chinese firm CITIC, for instance, is tasked with constructing 100,000 houses in 10 Angolan provinces.

The largest

BOC was founded in 1912 and operates in China and in 51 other countries.

BOC boasts $3.62 trillion assets base and ranks among the largest in the world.

A study by the American-based research unity ChinaAid in August last year confirmed that Angola had received more than $12 billion in aid from China since 2000, making it the top African recipient of Beijing aid.

The study said Angola was followed by Sudan, Ghana and Ethiopia.

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West Africa, Israel sign $1bn clean energy pact

Posted KEMO CHAM in Freetown and MOHAMMED MOMOH in Abuja

on  Saturday, June 3   2017 at  14:32

West African states have inked a new deal with Israel aimed at boosting the region’s struggling power sector.

Leading Israeli solar power developer, Energiya Global, on Friday committed to a $1 billon green energy project for the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

The company said the money will be invested in the next four years to develop solar projects in all the bloc’s partner states.

The deal is part of an Israeli-Ecowas development cooperation pact that is due to be signed this weekend by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the bloc’s chairperson, in Monrovia.

Mr Netanyahu is in Liberia on his second Africa visit as the Israeli nation seeks to increase its foothold on the continent. He is scheduled to address the opening session of Ecowas heads of state summit in Monrovia on Sunday.

The energy agreement was signed by Israel, Ecowas president Marcel de-Souza, and Energiya’s chief executive Yosef Abramowitz.

"We are prepared to finance and build the first national demonstration solar projects in all Ecowas-affiliated member countries in order to promote political stability, social and economic development, as well as to transfer of knowledge," said Mr Abramowitz.

Liberia will be the first to benefit with a project valued at $20 million. The commercial-scale solar field is billed to supply 25 per cent of the country’s power need and will be located at the Roberts International Airport in Monrovia.

The Israel-Ecowas pact also includes technological support in agriculture, water and fight against terrorism.

An Israel - Africa Summit is slated for October this year in Togo.

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Malawi bank buys Barclays Zimbabwe

Posted KITSEPILE NYATHI in Harare

on  Thursday, June 1   2017 at  17:14

A Malawian bank has bought a majority stake in Barclays Plc’s Zimbabwean unit.

The move by the First Merchant Bank (FMB) of Malawi ends months of speculation after the British financial institution announced it was disposing of its African assets.

FMB Malawi’s pursuit of the controlling stake had been facing resistance from the management of Barclays Zimbabwe, which had also tabled a bid to take over the iconic financial institution.

However, the deal between FMB and Barclays Plc sailed through on Wednesday and was now awaiting regulatory approval, officials said.

Barclays Plc and FMB officials were reportedly in Zimbabwe for meetings with local staff and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on the deal.

Be rebranded

FMB group managing director Hitesh Anadkat told the Financial Gazette newspaper that the bank would be rebranded into Barclays & FMB.

“We are looking at being in Zimbabwe for a long time, not short term because we see a big future here,” Mr Anadkat was quoted saying.

Last week, Barclays Zimbabwe’s low level management filed an urgent High Court application seeking to stop the sale of the bank to FMB or any investor, saying they should get the right of first refusal.

The workers also argued that the transaction must comply with Zimbabwe’s tough indigenisation laws that compel foreign-owned companies to cede 51 per cent of their shares to locals.

Critics of the deal have cited reports that some FMB directors were embroiled in allegations of financial irregularities in Uganda and Malawi.

The collapse

The alleged shady deals were said to have resulted in the collapse of Crane Bank in Kampala, rendering 300 workers jobless.

Barclays Zimbabwe has been operating since 1912 and was one of the most stable institutions in a country that has leapt from one financial crisis to another since the turn of the millennium.

The bank employs over 1,000 people, a network of 38 branches and was listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

Barclays Plc held a 67,68 per cent stake in the Zimbabwean unit.

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Kenya Standard Gauge Railway rolls out services

Posted CHARLES OMONDI in Nairobi and PSCU

on  Tuesday, May 30   2017 at  19:36

The Kenya Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) rolled out its cargo services at a ceremony at the port of Mombasa Tuesday evening.

The SGR replaces the more than a century-old colonial railway line, and heralds a new dawn for Kenya, the gateway to the East and Central African region.

With the unveiling of the new railway's cargo operations, Kenyans and the more than the 300 million residents of the region are set to reap the benefits of efficient transportation of cargo.

President Uhuru Kenyatta waved a giant Kenyan flag to set in motion the inaugural cargo train of the SGR shortly after 6pm (+3GMT), at Port Reitz, marking a new era where cargo will be moved twice as fast and at a cheaper price.

The ceremony was witnessed by Kenyans and representatives from across the world.

The Kenya government has already embarked on extending the SGR to eventually reach Kampala and Kigali in Uganda and Rwanda respectively.

President Kenyatta, who was flanked by Deputy President William Ruto and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, said every Kenyan should be proud of the SGR.

"I call upon all Kenyans whatever their political beliefs to celebrate, today we should be together holding hands in celebrations," said the president moments after the cargo train pulled alongside his Dias waiting for the flag off.

"This is the Kenya we seek and this is the Kenya we want our children to inherit from us and their children to inherit from them," said President Kenyatta.

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India and Japan launch Asian and Africa growth corridor plan

Posted ANDUALEM SISAY in Ahmedabad, India

on  Thursday, May 25   2017 at  13:37

India and Japan on Wednesday launched the Asian Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), a vision document, which aims to link the two continents through multiple sectors.

“The idea is that India and Japan, with other willing partners, would explore joint initiatives in skills, health infrastructure, manufacturing and connectivity,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said at the 52nd African Development Bank (AfDB) meeting his country is hosting.

The document, produced jointly by Indian and Japan’s research institutions, is a result of the discussions between Mr Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzō Abe.

Mr Modi visited Tokyo last year, during which the two leaders stressed the need for a partnership for sustainable and innovative development for Asia and Africa.

“In our joint declaration, we mentioned an Asia Africa Growth Corridor and proposed further conversations with our brothers and sisters from Africa,” said Mr Modi.

Development roadmap

The AAGC document is produced by the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) of India, the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the Eastern Asia (ERIA) of Indonesia and the Institute of Developing Economies Japan External Trade organisation (IDE-JETRO).

“AAGC is growth and development roadmap for Africa with back and forth linkages with Asia,” said, Ms Anita Prakash, the Director General of the Policy Development at ERIA, during the launch of the 30-page document.

“It is more than economic connectivity; it is about social connectivity having people at the centre,” she said, indicating that the full study, with projects and impacts on people at local level, may be ready by late 2018.

Commenting on the difference of the envisioned connectivity between Africa and Asia with China’s Belt Road initiative, Prof Sachin Chaturvedi, the Director General of RIS, said AAGC was more of all-inclusive, beyond infrastructure and recalled his prime minister’s objections to the China plan.

Core concerns

China hosted the Belt and Road Forum in mid-May, bringing together the leaders from around 35 countries.

“No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the India Foreign ministry said on May 13 on why Delhi refused to be part of China’s plan.

It is not yet clear if AAGC was a response to China’s One Belt one Road plan and which offer Africa would take.