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Orania, and Afrikaners’ dream of a city of their own

Posted PETER DUBE in Orania, South Africa

on  Thursday, July 20   2017 at  17:48

Just over a thousand men and women in Orania, a small town tucked away in the South African hinterlands, dream of a an independent Christian, Afrikaans-speaking city.

Their place of refuge is an Afrikaner-only enclave, which was established towards the end of apartheid in 1994.

Every single person in the town, which lies halfway between Cape Town and Pretoria, is a descendant of Dutch-speaking migrants who arrived in South Africa in 1652 with Jan van Riebeeck. The Afrikaner haven was the brainchild of Prof Carel Boshoff III in 1990.

Prof Boshoff III, without a doubt a visionary of note, was the son-in-law of HF Verwoerd — a man singled out as the architect of apartheid.

He and a number of families purchased an abandoned workers’ village with lofty ambitions that one day hundreds of thousands of Afrikaners would call it home.

“My father spent the bulk of his life as a missionary. The advice he got at that stage was that if you plant a church among people other than your own, you will not always be welcome, because once people take ownership they will say ‘Thank you but we want to take care of this now.’

"So he was aware that if you want to really add something to a group, it must become their own,” explained Mr Boshoff Jnr.

He added that, according to his father, the Afrikaner people, who make up only seven per cent of the South African population, were living thinly spread out all over the country without a concentration point.

“Every cultural or linguistic group has a centre. The Zulus are centred around Kwa-Zulu Natal, but Afrikaners ended up with nowhere because they trekked all over South Africa and they were nowhere in the majority,” he said, adding that Orania was not founded out of hatred.

“It was definitely out of an affirmation of our own identity and to look after our interests. But now people just assume that we are a group of white racists,” the Orania leader added.

Twenty-seven years later, the town, built on 8,000 hectares of private farmland along the Orange River in the desolate region of the Karoo, is home to 1,400 Afrikaners, has two schools, a museum and even its own currency, the Ora.

The town also boasts amenities such as shops, a hair salon, a library, a post office, a hotel, a cinema and three Christian churches.

South Africa has a large Afrikaans-speaking black and coloured population that identifies with the Afrikaner culture. However, Orania has no single Afrikaans-speaking black or coloured person in sight.

Prospective residents are screened by authorities using a criterion, which includes, either being an ethnic Afrikaner or genuinely wanting to integrate. It is not enough to simply speak Afrikaans.

Pieter Kriger, the Orania Movement’s vice-executive head, said he gets 150 calls per week of people wanting to stay in Orania.

He insisted the criterion is “about the Afrikaner culture”.

“You either need to be an Afrikaner or a person willing to assimilate with the Afrikaans culture. We actually have first generation guys from Germany who want to assimilate,” added Mr Kriger.

The general message from locals in Orania is that they have set out on a journey to help create a generation of pure Afrikaners untouched by the “outside world”.

“It’s about knowing your culture, understanding it, accepting everything about it, the good and the bad. I moved to Orania because for the first time in my life as an Afrikaner, as a South African, I understood the place of Afrikaners in the broader spectrum of Africa,” said Sarel Roets, a businessman in the town.

Their own culture

Mr Kriger added: “We believe in diversity in that the Zulus must celebrate their own culture, because they are different from the Sothos.”

Understandably, the community has gained notoriety beyond its modest means as a parochial enclave within the rainbow nation that post-apartheid president Nelson Mandela dreamt of.

“From Orania the town, we are looking to build Orania the small city. We are also looking to make it more of a region than a town,” Mr Boshoff Jnr said.

Ironically, the town’s flag bears colours reminiscent of South Africa’s apartheid-era flag, featuring a blond boy rolling up his sleeves.

The enclave does not have an armed force and depends on a security company and its isolation for protection.

The modest and easy-going Oranians never miss an opportunity to flash a greeting smile to visitors.

Fear of violence

They also do their own work, from gardening to plumbing, bricklaying and waste-collection – jobs usually done by black labourers in the rest of the country. In fact, the town’s motto is “Working for freedom.”

Most of its residents argue that Orania offers a safe sanctuary from the crime-ridden neighbourhoods of South Africa.

Last year, South Africa was ranked third in the world’s top 10 countries with the highest crime rate.

“Women like Ester (a tour guide) can walk around town at 11pm without any fear of violence, or being robbed or killed. My house has no key. We went to Pretoria the other day and left my door open for my dogs to come in and out of the house. It’s a safe community,” Mr Kriger said with pride.

Interestingly, Orania is protected under Article 235 of South Africa’s Constitution which ensures the right to self-determination.

The legislation recognises “The notion of the right of self-determination of any community sharing a common cultural and language heritage within a territorial entity within the republic.”

Chairperson for the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said the Orania community also needed to participate in social cohesion and nation building.

“While we acknowledge the right to self-determination, we say the same constitution expects social cohesion and unity. We need to find mechanisms to build social cohesion, reduce whatsoever fears they have and get over our differences,” Ms Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said..

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Tanzanian opposition endorses Kenya's president

Posted IBRAHIM ORUKO in Nairobi

on  Sunday, July 16   2017 at  17:54

Tanzania's main opposition party Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema), has endorsed the re-election of Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta in the August 8 polls.

Chadema, says the Kenyan leader is the right candidate for the presidency and a better choice for democracy in the country.

The revelations were made on Sunday by the Party leader, Mr Edward Lowassa, during an interview with the Nation at Nairobi’s Serena hotel.

Unanimously agreed

“We have had formal meetings as a party and unanimously agreed to support the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta. He is a good man, he supports the integration of the EAC and respects leaders of the opposition,” he said.

Mr Lowassa, who was in Kenya for the burial of Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, however, clarified that the ultimate decision on who becomes president would be made by Kenyans when they go to the polls next month.

He added that the Kenyan leader had shown respect to the Maasai community.

The relationship between Kenya and Tanzania, he said, would be better with Mr Kenyatta at the helm.

Mr Lowassa, who previously served as Prime Minister of the Republic of Tanzania, contested as the joint opposition candidate under Ukawa coalition in the 2015 General Election and lost to President John Magufuli of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) in what is regarded as the most competitive election to be ever held in Tanzania.

Chadema’s support for President Kenyatta is believed to be due to the close relationship between Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga and President Magufuli.

A traitor

The party is reported to have been dismayed by Mr Odinga for having supported Dr Magufuli during the presidential campaigns in the 2015 General Election, something the party leadership considered as a vile act of betrayal.

Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe has in the past been quoted describing Mr Odinga as a traitor for supporting President Magufuli.

“We supported Mr Odinga during the 2013 elections in Kenya but to our surprise, when it came to the 2015 polls in Tanzania, he supported the CCM candidate. Mr Odinga is a traitor,’’ Mr Mbowe said in May.

Mr Lowassa insisted that he was rigged out during the election in favour of President Magufuli, but said he had moved on to fight another day.

“Even though Dr Magufuli was elected in a suspicious voting system, we still respect him as the president of the republic of Tanzania,” he said, while curtly refusing to give an appraisal of the President’s performance in office.

“President Magufuli’s performance will be judged by the people at the end of his first term in office in 2020. I would rather be careful with that because I may be misquoted and land myself in trouble when I return home,” he said.

Police in Tanzania banned political meetings in 2016 saying that rallies called by the opposition were unlawful and likely to breach the peace.

However, President Magufuli who had said there should be no political activity until the next election in 2020, urging people to work, relaxed the ban and allowed only elected leaders to conduct meetings within their constituencies.

Remain relevant

Mr Lowassa said that the ban on political activity was the greatest challenge for his time in opposition politics.

The Opposition, he said, may be forced to seek the intervention of the courts if the ban persists.

“The ban is undemocratic and unfair, but we are doing our best to remain relevant. We have appealed to the government to reconsider the ban but they are still dragging their feet,” he said.

While he admitted that life in the opposition was challenging, he noted that there are some good times and that in some instances, he enjoys being on that side.

“It has been a good experience interspersed with good times and I am enjoying the experience because I am still very popular with the masses and the ban on political activity is meant to calm me down,” said the former PM.

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Chinese toll road leads to controversy in Sierra Leone

Posted KEMO CHAM in Freetown

on  Tuesday, July 11   2017 at  19:44

Some 100m outside Hastings, some 20km outside Freetown, local labourers, supervised by Chinese engineers, are putting finishing touches on a toll station.

The Hastings Tollgate, is one of three stations that will allow access to the first ever toll road under construction in Sierra Leone. But the Chinese funded project, which involves the widening of a 62km two-lane highway into four, has provoked heated debate.

The China Railway Seventh Group (CRSG), which is constructing the road under a Build, Operate and Transfer agreement, has come under heavy scrutiny since it announced last month it would commence levying fees earlier than expected.

The road, which runs from Wellington in the east end of Freetown to the northern business town of Masiaka, is estimated to costs $161 million.

Negotiations for it began in 2012 but it only got to public domain when the agreement was presented for parliamentary approval in 2015.

Major concern

It was initially rejected by lawmakers before being reintroduced and eventually passed, critics say in suspicious circumstances, in 2016.

The decision to begin levying charges with only 10km of the road completed, rekindled the debate over unanswered issues. The major concern is the fees.

Critics say the fees are too high and fear the levies will lead to increase in fares and consequent hike in the cost of living.

The decision to commence charges earlier, others say, means that the Chinese will use taxpayers’ money to complete the project, which they find unreasonable.

And those calling for an alternative route say citizens should have the option to use the road if they choose.

Also, by international standards, a 1km road costs $1 million, yet CRSG is being paid almost triple that rate in their agreement. Others are opposed to the 25-year concession time line.

The government says the project will create jobs during the four-year construction, facilitate trade with neighbouring countries, and lead to expansion of settlements along the route. It also points to easy access to the planned new airport, another divisive Chinese-funded project in the making.

“The project has immense benefits for the country,” says Mr Mohamed Sahid Koroma, the head of the Project Management Unit in the Ministry of Youth Affairs.

Apparently in anticipation of the hue and cry that greeted the announcement of levying charges earlier, government tasked the Youths ministry, which has been serving as the de facto public relations arm of CRSG, to sensitise the public on the toll system.

The initial plan was to commence charging at the beginning of July, but it was postponed to August. In a statement, the Ministry said the grace period was meant to allow renegotiations with stakeholders.

Their destinations

The proposed toll charges range from $1 (Le4, 500 for Sedan vehicles, $200 ( Le973,000) for big lorries.

The Drivers Union of Sierra Leone hailed the initiative as a “novelty”, but warned that the proposed fees would prove counterproductive to the whole idea behind introducing a toll system in a country struggling to deal with a dysfunctional transport infrastructure.

“Traffic jam has already reduced. The wear and tear on our vehicles has reduced. People now reach their destinations within the portion of the road already completed faster. Our only issue is the price,” union President Alpha Bah told the Africareview.

Vehicle owners will be required to pay one third of the total fee at each of the three gates. For lorries, this will amount to $500 (Le1946,000) for a return trip.

The river estuary

“This is too much,” lamented Mr Bah, who said they were in business and wanted profits, hence the possibility of increment in transport fares.

For ordinary Sierra Leoneans, the charges could only worsen an already difficult life in a country struggling to overcome hash austerity measures, which saw the price of fuel more than double recently.

Freetown and its largely urban environs were homes to about half of Sierra Leone’s 7 million population. And much of the locally produced foodstuff consumed in the urban areas came from the agrarian communities lining the only trunk road linking the capital to the rest of the country.

The only alternative route leads from the airport town of Lungi, but motorists choosing that route must cross the river estuary, which is the subject of over a decade-long debate over unreliable and unsafe ferry services, hence the contentious argument for a new airport.

Deputy Works minister Abdul Barrie, at the time of presenting the agreement to parliament, infamously said the availability of a “smooth and easy” alternative route would render the toll route redundant.

The road under expansion was done over 22 years ago. The government says with the rapid development and growth potentials, the two-lane way was no longer adequate to meet the increasing traffic demand and that loss of productive time due to congestion and the loss of lives through frequent accidents was hampering development and economic growth.

The plan for the new road entails a bridge and beautification of sidewalks with flowers and trees.

The actual cost is $150million, but compensation for private properties destroyed to make way for the expansion increased the amount by $11 million.

By the agreement, 95 per cent of the gross annual toll revenue will go to CRSG as repayment, with the government cashing in the 5 per cent. The Chinese also enjoy Corporate Tax waiver for 10 years.

Sierra Leone currently relies on road maintenance fund levy charged at the fuel pump to maintain its roads. That has proven thorny with authorities saying it did not generate enough revenue, while motorists complained that they do not get value for money.

With the toll agreement, says the government, CRSG is charged with maintenance of the road during the concession period. That includes adding an overlay of 4cm of bitumen to the road after the first 10 years and within the last 10 years, another overlay of 3cm of bitumen.

The pricing formula

To limit the possibility of damage, officials say the maximum weight allowed of any vehicle using the road is 53.55 tones. Locally licensed vehicles will attract $40 extra charges per every ton above the limit, whereas foreign licensed vehicles will pay $120 for the same.

In light of all that, the government says, the 25 years concession was commensurate to the pricing formula for the Chinese to recoup their money.

Information minister Mohamed Bangura last month blasted critics of the project. It followed condemnation of the agreement by an opposition politician.

Mr Bangura said such criticisms amounted to politicisation of the government's effort, adding that the focus should be beyond the cost involved in constructing the road, to the benefits.

"We do not have money to make the road. Every day the government was thinking how to open the road…They [CRSG] told us they will develop mechanisms to get back their money and it was agreed by the government,” he told a press conference.

The government has trained and deployed 60 youths to ‘sensitise’ and prepare the public ahead of the cut-off date.

Without paying

Mr Koroma occasionally accompanies the sensitisation party, which conducts town hall meetings. He said Sierra Leone had the cheapest toll charges in the world and argued that compared to elsewhere in Africa, Sierra Leone toll system was unique.

“In other parts of the world, a toll road is a closed road. You have giant slabs on the sides of it. You will never come in without paying.

"We have a toll road that is open with a lot of access routes,” he said.

Mr Koroma also noted that the agreement provides for the possibility of slicing the toll fees if there was an increase in the vehicle count on the road.

Statistics from the Sierra Leone Road Authority indicate that a little over 4,000 vehicles plied the Wellington-Masiaka route daily.

The Sierra Leone toll system will be the second in the four –member Mano River Union bloc after Cote d'Ivoire in 2014 inaugurated its 240km dual highway linking Yamoussoukro city to the commercial capital Abidjan.

Ivorian authorities at the time pegged the toll fees at between $5 to $20 (2,500 and 10,000 francs), far less than what is proposed by the Sierra Leoneans.

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A peep into Nigeria's near-comatose power sector

Posted MOHAMMED AMOMOH in Abuja

on  Tuesday, July 4   2017 at  19:46

The Nigerian power sector is grappling with a huge gap between supply and demand.

Current power demand is estimated at 17,520 megawatts, but industry watchers say the country could do with a minimum of 40,000 megawatts.

According to the African Progress Report, more than 90 million, out of the 180 million Nigerians, have no access to electricity.

The report explains that 17 million Nigerians with no access to electricity live in the urban centres, while the other 73 million reside in rural areas.

The majority of the 90 million Nigerians above, observers note, were living in off-grid areas where electricity supply was not economical and may not be sustainable due to the high cost of installing the transmission infrastructures.

Even among the electrified areas, incessant blackouts have made the access to electricity meaningless. Numerous reasons are cited for the sorry scenario. that has caused many industries to relocate from Nigeria, besides occasioning an astronomical hike in prices of goods caused by the costly generator power.

Misery and resignation

Affirming the decayed nation’s power sector, President Muhammadu Buhari, in his inaugural speech on May 29, 2016, said: “No single cause can be identified to explain Nigerian’s poor economic performance over the years than the power situation.

“It is a national shame that an economy of 180 million generates only 4,000 megawatts and distributes even less."

He went on: “Continuous tinkering with the structures of power supply and distribution, and close on $20 billion expended since 1999, have only brought darkness, frustration, misery and resignation among Nigerians.

“We will not allow this to go on; careful studies are underway during this transition to identify the quickest, safest and most cost-effective way to bring light and relief to Nigerians.’’

The sentiments aptly capture the pathetic situation in the sector and the determination of the Buhari administration to tackle the challenges.

From the inception of the present administration, some analysts have expressed concern about how long it would take it to mitigate the power sector challenges.

However, the administration targets 10,200 megawatts of electricity by 2019.

The companies

To achieve that, sector analysts estimate that Nigeria will require at least $3.5 billion annual investments in power generating capacity alone, with large portions required for the transmission and distribution networks.

Power, Works and Housing minister Babatunde Fashola said in a lecture that the Federal Government’s road map for solving the power crises was to attain incremental supplies wherever it could be found.

He also said that to attain the incremental power and ultimately stable generation and supply, it was important to address some issues bedevilling the sector.

The government has signed a $1.75 billion Solar Power Purchase Agreements with 14 companies to build 1,125 megawatts capacity of renewable power across the country.

The solar projects were expected to be delivered between 12 months and 18 months, with some of the companies already meeting their side of the bargain.

According to Mr Fashola, the incremental electricity supply project of the Federal Government is the development of hydro power through the construction and rehabilitation of several dams.

Consequently, the first overhaul of the Jebba hydro plant, inaugurated in 1985, has been completed with more construction of mini dams on-going.

Other on-going power projects include the 30-megawatt Gurara hydro plant in Kaduna, 10-megawatt Tiga dam in Kano, the 10-megawatt Oyan dam in Osun and the 8-megawatt Challawa dam in Kano.

All those dams are to generate power to complement the Egbin plant in Ikorodu, which had only two functional turbines in 2013, but now has six.

Mr Fashola said the Federal Government had also began accelerating repairs of the Forcados pipelines, damaged by vandals, among other repairs and the construction of power infrastructures.

The government, Mr Fashola said further, had inaugurated the Board and Management of the Rural Electrification Agency to complete the numerous rural projects.

At a monthly power sector operators’ meeting recently, the Power, Works and Housing minister said the Transmission Company of Nigeria had provided a progress update on the 16 critical projects designed to improve wheeling of electricity to the distribution companies.

He also noted that the government had planned to inject $1.9 billion to assist the electricity generating companies to pay for gas to power their plants, in addition to the initial $591 million intervention fund.

The performance

However, in spite of government’s commitments in addressing the perennial challenges in the last two years, most Nigerians still express dissatisfaction with the performance of the sector.

Concerned individuals and NGOs have accused the Power ministry and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission of the inability to enforce the provisions of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 on the industry operators.

They note that although the power sector comprises generating, distribution and transmission, most Nigerians were unsure of the sector to be held responsible for incessant supply failures.

But the generating companies say they were capable of producing 8,500 megawatts presently, given all the incentives.

The transmission companies also claim they have a capacity to wheel 5,500 megawatts of electricity for distribution, attributing major hiccups in their investment plans, especially in extending their network base of 4,500 megawatts, to lack of cost reflective tariff.

Private sector

Irrespective of these explanations, some Nigerians and the Senate blame the privatisation of the power sector as the reasons for inadequate supply and call for reversal.

With the privatisation, the government was retaining the transmission role, meaning that it was left with the responsibility of policy making and regulation.

Nigerians insist that government should create an enabling environment for the participation of more private sector investors to ensure quality power supply.

The General Manager of Tuns Electricity, Mr Alabi Anthony, said there was a need to encourage investment in generation, transmission and distribution to harness the enormous potential of regular power supply for industrial development.

He said that the problems of generation and transmission had been made worse by the activities of the Niger Delta militants who vandalised gas pipelines.

The theft of cables and other installations, he said, was another cause of difficulty in the effective distribution of electricity.

A Lagos-based industrialist, Mr Chukwudi Adams, advised the government to muster the political will to allow private sector as key players in the generation and distribution of electricity.

He explained that some industrial areas and selected cities could be ceded to private sector, adding that the current centralised system would continue to bog down the sector.

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Opinion divided on Trump lifting Sudan sanctions

Posted FRED OLUOCH in Nairobi

on  Sunday, July 2   2017 at  12:36

There are strong indications that the US will lift all sanctions on Sudan with a view to encouraging reforms.

Experts on Sudan say the sanctions — which have been in place for 20 years — have not worked against President Omar al-Bashir’s administration.

But US civil society organisations still resist the lifting of sanctions on the grounds that it would give Khartoum a “blank cheque” to continue with its abuse of human rights. 

A Khartoum-based journalist, Mr Mohammed Alameen, said that the Bashir administration was confident that the sanctions would be lifted on July 12, with intelligence officials disclosing that Sudan would allow the opening of the largest Central Intelligence Agency office in Khartoum to boost American investments in the oil and agriculture sectors.

Credit guarantees

On June 23, the US Foreign Agricultural Service added Sudan to a list of countries eligible for the Export Credit Guarantee Programme, also known as GSM-102. The programme, which focuses on Africa and the Middle East, provides credit guarantees to encourage financing of commercial exports of US agricultural products.

In a report published on June 22, the International Crisis Group (ICG) argues that it was time to try a new approach because sanctions against Sudan were not producing their intended effect, were disproportionately hurting ordinary Sudanese citizens, and providing the government with an excuse for its poor economic performance.

According to Mr Magnus Tailor, an ICG Horn of Africa analyst who covers Sudan and Uganda, Khartoum had essentially met the five preconditions imposed when the US partially lifted sanctions in January this year.

The economy

“Sudan has been co-operating on counter-terrorism, addressing the threat of the Lord’s Resistance Army; ending internal conflict in Darfur and Southern Kordofan; improving humanitarian access; and ending negative interference in South Sudan,” he said.

However, Mr Taylor said that there were still concerns over two preconditions that had not been fully met — ending internal conflict and unfettered access by aid agencies to the victims of war.

For Sudan, financial assets amounting to $48.2 million that were frozen would be released to boost the economy, and financial institutions from Western countries would now be free to trade with the country.

But Mr Taylor said that the lifting of sanctions was not going to make a difference to the economy in the short term, and that Sudan was unlikely to be a recipient of US direct investments in the near future. But it was the beginning of engagement where the US could partner with Sudan and build key infrastructure.

The US imposed economic and military sanctions on Sudan in 1997 over alleged association with terrorist groups. But on January 13, former US President Barack Obama issued an executive decree partially lifting sanctions and allowed banks to transfer funds to Sudan in relation to humanitarian aid, and gave Khartoum six months to meet the five conditions.

Mr Alameen said that despite the many assurances Khartoum had given confirming that it had received the green light from US officials regarding the lifting of the sanctions, some recent events pointed to the opposite.

They include the announcement by the Sudan Foreign Ministry Under-Secretary Abdel-Ghani al-Nai’m that the government and Sudanese citizens did not constitute a threat to the national security of the US and that the government was hoping that that decision should not affect the lifting of sanctions.

Regional peace

“Sudan has made the required progress to all the tracks agreed with the American side. Sudan looks forward to co-operation with the US in regional peace and security and all issues discussed in the five tracks,” said in Mr al-Nai’m in a report by Sudan News Agency.

Others include the US refusal for the participation of President Bashir in the Arab-American Islamic Summit in Riyadh in May, the US officials issuing negative remarks over the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur, and the lack of progress in opening of humanitarian access in the war zones in Sudan.

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Controversial Senegal great Diouf dismisses bad guy image

Posted STANLEY KWENDA

on  Wednesday, June 28   2017 at  15:29

El Hadji Diouf is a hero in Senegal. Everywhere he goes, he is mobbed by fans both young and old. His countrymen are still grateful for the stellar role he played during the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

But in England, he is remembered more for his controversial antics than for his football talent.

It is a trait that followed him in the English league clubs he played for - from Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers to Bolton Wanderers, with a spell for Rangers in Scotland as well.

Diouf was aggressive, spat at opponents and confronted match officials as well as opponents

But now in his retirement, he is telling his story.

'I am a bad loser'

A bad loser

"I am a lion, I am a bad loser and it's not wrong to be a bad loser," said Diouf of his often combative mood during his playing days.

"I have got character and I want people to respect me."

Diouf, who has moved back to the Senegalese capital Dakar, says he was often misunderstood during his playing days in England.

He said: "I am an easy target. It's easy to talk about El Hadji Diouf and I let them talk but I know in my heart I am a good guy. My family know, my population knows, my continent knows I am a good guy and that's the best thing. The rest is not my problem."

The problem

Despite this defence, Diouf admits he has done some bad things.

When asked why, for example, he used to spit at opponents, he said: "Maybe they used to tell me something I didn't want to hear. I did that, I paid and now it's finished."

The Senegalese legend had a drawn-out row with former Liverpool team-mates such as Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard.

Even today, Diouf and Gerrard continue their feud through the media. So what exactly is the problem?

"I have no problem with him," Diouf said. "He [Gerrard] is a strong character and I am a strong character.

"'Stevie G' was a very good player. People like him in Liverpool but he never did anything for his country. I am Mr El Hadji Diouf, Mr Senegal but he is Mr Liverpool and Senegal is bigger than Liverpool and he has to know that."

to bad

Diouf is working in Senegal as a government goodwill ambassador. He is President Macky Sall's adviser on sport as well as running his own sports newspaper business in Dakar - and is often mobbed by young people when he visits his gym in the city.

"My life is about sport but the government cannot do everything alone, they need help from people like me," Diouf said.

"The president believes in me and that's why when I finished playing football, he called me and told me he wants me to help because the young generation believe in me. I am an example to them."

Asked if he would consider a role in politics, Diouf said he was concentrating on helping to develop his country - but could not rule out entering politics in future.

He said: "I am interested because we have to make things change. People like me can make things change.

Involved in politics

"We have a country to build, a continent to build and why not be involved in politics tomorrow?"

'We put Senegal on the world map'

Twice presented with the African Footballer of the Year award by the Confederation of African football (Caf), Diouf was part of the Senegal side which reached the last eight at the 2002 World Cup, beating defending champions France along the way.

He describes that period as the greatest achievement of his career - putting it on a par with Diego Maradona's World Cup-winning achievements with Argentina.

"We put Senegal on the world map," he said.

"Before the World Cup nobody knew Senegal, but after the World Cup everybody wanted to know where Senegal was.

French league

"What Maradona did for his country is what I did for Senegal. I was one of the biggest men at the 2002 World Cup.

"We were colonised by France. Most of the businesses are run by French people here and to beat them was a big thing for us.

"Before the game, they used to say, 'The reserve team is going to play against the first team' - because most of the players used to play in the French league.

"I used to be at Lens, Salif Diao [was at Sedan], Khalilou Fadiga [was at Auxerre], most of the players played in the French league but we used to say: 'Be careful before you kill the lion.'"

Diouf says he would like to do more to help develop football on the African continent, but feels structural changes need to take place.

"Fifa has changed and now it's time for African football federations to change too," he said. (BBC Africa)

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Four ways Kenyan elections could be rigged — and how to stop it

Posted NIC CHEESEMAN

on  Wednesday, June 14   2017 at  15:12

After a long period during which President Uhuru Kenyatta looked a shoo-in for re-election, Kenya’s presidential race is looking increasingly competitive.

Although the most reliable polls still give the incumbent a strong lead of around six percentage points the main opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, has the greater momentum.

Following a year in which his poll ratings hovered between 20 per cent and 30 per cent, Mr Odinga has been buoyed by the confirmation that he will be the flag bearer of the main opposition coalition, the National Super Alliance (Nasa). Other prominent alliance leaders have also said they will back his candidacy.

The closer the race becomes, the more Kenyans and those who care about the country will start to worry about election rigging. Both candidates have committed themselves to free and fair polls, but many Kenyans still fear that the process may not be credible.

In large part, this scepticism is a legacy of the events of 2007/8, when flawed polls led to post-election violence that took the lives of over 1,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more.

Although the 2013 polls were much more peaceful, the process also suffered from a number of shortcomings which led the opposition to reject the official results.

Without prejudging whether the 2017 contest will be clean or not, it’s therefore important to ask how the election might be rigged, and how this could be stopped.

Here are four ways that elections could be rigged.

1. Bring down the technology

In the 2013 elections, the technology used to safeguard the process failed systematically. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) fell back on manual processes.

This meant there was no fingerprint verification to ascertain that the right people were voting, and were only voting once. The breakdown of the technology, and the potential for the manual process to be abused, was a central part of the opposition’s election petition.

Mr Odinga and his colleagues campaigned to make the use of biometric technology compulsory in the run-up to this election. But resistance from the government means that the commission retains the right to fall back on a manual system if the technology breaks down.

This is worrying for two reasons. First, candidates who fear they are losing and know that manual processes are less well insulated from manipulation have an incentive to make the technology fail.

Second, technological problems will be interpreted as a sign of rigging whether or not they are, undermining confidence in the process.

2. Inflate turnout in North-eastern

Electoral turnout in the north-eastern region of Kenya has traditionally been poor. This is because of low population density and the fact that the region has historically been politically and economically marginalised.

Given this, the high official turnout of over 80 per cent in 2013 surprised many. There were suspicions that the turnout may have been artificially inflated by adding ballot papers in the name of voters who did not actually go to the polls.

Ballot box stuffing in the north-eastern part is particularly viable, because it’s the most remote part of the country. It is also an area prone to terrorist attacks. As a result, it is a place that international election monitors tend not to visit, which opens the door to electoral abuse.

3. Set up fake polling streams

Many Kenyan polling stations are split up into a number of “streams” to allow people to be processed more quickly. Another allegation about the 2013 election is that in some cases fake polling streams were set up so fraudulent votes could be added.

The suggestion is that while real voters cast their ballots in one or two real polling streams, the ballots of people who had not turned out were artificially added to a made-up stream and then submitted.

This would be a smart way to rig an election. While the figures for polling stations are often recorded, the exact figures for polling streams are quickly lost.

Indeed, because the results from polling streams are merged to generate polling station totals, which are then merged to generate constituency totals, it is possible to hide suspicious results from a stream — such as turnout in excess of 100 per cent — because once everything is collated the final result may not look that exceptional.

4. Fiddle the figures

One of the classic forms of election rigging is to change the results as they are being transferred from the polling station or constituency level to the national tallying centre.

In 2013, the failure of a new results transmission system run through a mobile phone app generated concerns about electoral manipulation during the vote tallying.

This was especially when it became clear that in some cases the security forces had been deployed to bring results back to Nairobi.

This was also a major source of concern in 2007. European Union monitors found that there were serious discrepancies between the results they observed being released locally and those that were subsequently read out nationally.

How to stop election rigging

There may be no plans afoot to rig the elections, but in matters of such great importance, it is better to be safe than sorry. So how can the process be safeguarded?

When it comes to the risk of the vote being inflated in North-eastern, the answer is straightforward: international election monitors need to overcome their risk aversion and ensure that the region is thoroughly covered.

Deploying a parallel vote tabulation based on a sample of polling stations would also make it possible to tell whether turnout is artificially high.

The solution to the fiddling of election figures is also straightforward, although it will require political will. If the electoral commission agrees to accept the constituency-level results as final — unless there are exceptional cases that would require a full and transparent investigation — domestic observers and the different political parties will be able to record all of the results as they are announced, and use these to ensure that the national total adds up.

That leaves the more tricky issues of fake polling streams and the breakdown of election technology.

It is tempting to think that the solution to a breakdown is a technical one — that if the electoral commission learns from its previous mistakes it will be possible to ensure that the system works. But if the threat to the electoral process is political rather than logistical, better preparations will not help.

It is therefore important for every party to deploy a full set of trained party agents, not just in every polling station but also in every polling stream.

This will ensure that the manual process cannot be abused even if the technology fails, and it will enable any fake polling streams to be identified and reported.

This conclusion is probably not one that the parties themselves will want to hear because it involves a lot of hard work and expense.

But it is the only thing that will guarantee that the outcome of the election represents the will of the people.

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We want Ecowas soldiers out of our village, Gambia's Jammeh loyalists say

Posted BABOUCARR CEESAY in Banjul

on  Tuesday, June 6   2017 at  19:45

Residents of The Gambia'sKanilai village in the West Coast region have renewed their demands for the removal of West African troops, and are now calling for the return of exiled former president Yahya Jammeh.

In January this year, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) deployed its forces to stabilise the country after the long-serving Jammeh refused to cede power when he lost the December 2016 presidential election to Adama Barrow,leading to a political standoff.

Since then, tension has been high in Kanilai, the home of the former president, with residents insisting that troops serving under the Ecowas Mission in The Gambia (Ecomig) must leave the village over what they term as mistreatment of civilians.

Clashes on Friday June 2, 2017 between Ecomig troops and protestors left one man Haruna Jatta, 63, dead and a number of villagers injured.

Residents told this Africa Review reporter who visited Kanilai on Saturday June 3 that Mr Jatta was shot in the abdomen and died at the Bwain hospital where he was taken for medical attention.

Lala Jammeh, a middle-aged woman who accompanied the deceased to hospital said Mr Jatta was not attended to promptly.

"Jatta was left in the ambulance in the hot sun while bleeding profusely from his abdomen with his intestines sticking out," said Lala. “I tried to use my handkerchief to keep the intestines in place. He was later attended to by a nurse as he cried out for help.”

The deceased's daughter Fatou Jatta, 29, described her father as a "very good man" who earned his livelihood through farming.

“I have no appeal to make to the authorities since they have such powers as to kill my father,” she said as tears rolled freely down her cheeks.

Protests

Witnesses said residents marched to the base of the Ecomig troops at the ex-president Jammeh's mansion in Kanilai during the Friday protests, burning tires along the tarred road while chanting "we want soldiers out!"

Some youths were allegedly armed with weapons such as cutlasses and big sticks.

Upon arriving at the mansion, Ecomig troops allegedly fired shots at the protestors.

Some villagers said there were initial warning shots but the protestors were undeterred. The Police Intervention Unit (PIU) moved in to help quell the riots.

A number of people were arrested and detained at the Sibanor police station in the area.

Sources said almost two dozen people are in custody and more are still being arrested. Many others are fleeing their homes for safety.

Two of the injured protestors are said to be in critical condition at Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul where they were admitted.

Govt admission

The public relations officer of the Gambia Armed Force Lt. Col. Omar Bojang said that he was aware of the shooting in the area.

Lt. Colonel Bojang said that the presence of the security forces in Kanilai was to protect the territorial integrity of the country and its people, since the area is near a conflict zone.

He said that the Friday incident occurred due to rising tension between the Ecomig soldiers and area residents - even though there were moments of peaceful encounter between the two groups prior to the shooting - resulting in the injuries of six people and the unfortunate death of one person.

Kanilai borders the restive Casamance region in southern Senegal, which has witnessed more than three decades of rebellion with anti-government forces demanding for independence from the rest of the country.

Violence

However, some residents in Kalinai dispute claims that the protest was violent.

Yusupha Bojang, a young man wearing a T-shirt bearing former president Jammeh’s portrait said the demonstrators were unarmed and peaceful, "but the soldiers shot back using live ammunition."

His sentiments were echoed by David Kujabi, also a resident of of Kanilai, who was carrying a spent AK47 copper bullet allegedly used against the protestors.

“We are advocating for the soldiers to leave because we don’t know and don’t trust their mission here,” said Kujabi, adding that there were complaints from villagers about mistreatment particularly towards children and the elderly.

Ebou Jammeh, an aide to the Kanilai village head Bakary Jammeh said that children were no longer attending school due to the volatile security situation.

“We cannot be comfortable seeing soldiers armed to the teeth in our village and roaming our streets,” Ebou said.

He said they want the soldiers to vacate their village, adding that Kalinai had never experienced such military presence during Jammeh’s time. He said residents feel that the return of the former president would pacify the region.

“The worst are the Senegalese forces; the Gambian soldiers are a bit friendly,” said Ebou.

Ecomig is composed of Senegalese, Ghanaian, Malian, Togolese and Nigerian forces.

Amicable solution

A councillor Kaddy Badjie condemned the presence of Ecomig in the West Coast region.

“Is Kanilai in particular and Foni as a whole a threat to the new government,” she questioned?

National Assembly member for Foni Musa Amul Nyassi said the residents of Kanilai have expressed fears due to the heavy military presence.

He said he received complaints from the residents that the Ecomig soldiers at Kangfenda hold their people hostage and tell them to perform “monkey dances” as punishment.

He added that had he known about the the situation earlier he would have intervened and pushed for an amicable solution to the problem that has now morphed into a fierce confrontation between the residents and the military.

“I am advising the residents to remain calm, peace-loving and law-abiding as a way to nurture peace and stability,” said Nyassi.

He also appealed to the authorities to resolve the situation amicably.

“The former President Jammeh before his departure said that he will not allow the security, peace and stability of The Gambia to be compromised,” Nyassi said.
Political party Gambia Democratic Congress led by Mamma Kandeh also condemned the killing of "an unarmed civilian" in Kanilai.

“The use of firearms was unnecessary to quell a peaceful demonstration by civilians and defeats the purpose of fighting against 22 years of misrule,” said a statement issued by the party.

GDC described the incident as a catastrophic intelligence failure that "demonstrates government's failure to stitch together our much divided society," adding that the government’s "snail pace efforts towards reconciliation will only further divide our society."

GDC extended its condolences to the families of the victims and urged government to investigate the incident and address the situation without delay.

Justification

On his part, Interior Minister Mai Ahmad Fatty said that Ecomig forces would not have been in The Gambia, had the former president accepted the will of the people and peacefully handed over power to a newly elected democratic government.

He said every citizen and every part of The Gambian territory is subject to the law.

“Reports reveal that groups of civilians armed with traditional weapons proactively engage members of the security forces in the area, make demands one of which is the removal of security personnel from Kanilai in particular the Ecomig forces,” said the minister.

He added that no part of Gambia shall be permitted to be an island in as far as enforcing the law is concerned.

“Impunity shall not be accepted from any community or settlement in the Gambia,” said Mr Fatty.

“A security situation existed which necessitated the interventions of Ecowas, which led to the presence of Ecowas troops in The Gambia,” he said.

Mr Fatty described Ecomig forces as Gambia’s guests.

“Ecomig is here to support Gambia’s security stabilisation so that the country can consolidate its democratic gains in accordance with international rules of engagement,” said Mr Fatty

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The mystery behind Rwanda's road carnage

Posted JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE and LEONCE MYUNYI in Kigali

on  Sunday, June 4   2017 at  14:11

A recent accident involving a coaster bus plying Rwanda's upcountry route has rekindled fears about public transport safety in the country.

It also brings to light simmering frustrations among long distance drivers over what they term exploitative employment terms imposed by operators.

The accident, which happened last weekend, claimed 14 passengers. It involved a speeding coaster owned by Kigali Safari, which was coming from Musanze, Northern Province, heading to Kigali. It rammed into an oncoming vehicle in Shyorongi, while descending to the city.

The grisly accident is one of the many blamed on speeding drivers plying upcountry routes who seek to cover as many trips as possible in a bid to earn more — sometimes not getting enough rest.

Eye witnesses said the driver was speeding, despite upcountry buses being fitted with speed governors.

The spokesperson of the Traffic Police Department at Rwanda National Police, Mr Emmanuel Kabanda, could not confirm whether the bus was speeding, but said investigations were ongoing.

Emergency services

“At this point, we are still investigating the cause, but one of them points to an oncoming vehicle being in the wrong. We confirmed 14 passengers died from the accident,” Mr Kabanda said.

Following the head-on collision, the mangled bus rolled down the steep Shyorongi hill and it took police and other emergency services hours to recover the bodies.

The scramble for passengers and the rush to make the required trips, as well as meeting daily revenue targets has, in most instances, been blamed for drivers’ haste, resulting in crashes and breach of traffic rules in the city and upcountry roads.

A field survey by Rwanda Today showed total disregard for the country’s labour provisions in the transport sector where many drivers get only three to four hours of sleep per night and are not paid for the overtime.

The drivers said they are working without contracts or insurance, while getting little pay that is subject to illegal deductions.

While drivers’ monthly salaries range between Rwf70,000 and Rwf120,000, most end up taking home as low as Rwf15,000 because employers force them to take responsibility for charges on traffic offences as well as compensating for unmet targets.

In Kigali City, for instance, drivers of the popular 35-seater coasters are given a target of ferrying between 750 and 850 passengers each day, failure to which the money is deducted from their pay.

Your employer

“If you get into an accident and are hospitalised for two or three months, you don’t get medical or accident cover from your employer. When you recover and come back to work, you find that your position has been given to someone else,” said Omar Innocent Nshyimiyimana.

Due to the high unemployment rate in the country coupled with stiff competition in the transport sector, operators only hire drivers who are willing to accept these difficult terms and verbal contracts.

Young drivers are the most preferred because in most cases they are willing to work under these conditions.

According to drivers, attempts to raise their concerns result in them being fired in most cases.

Mr Dieudonne Karege, a former driver, told Rwanda Today he was sacked for voicing his grievances after his employer denied him a copy of the terms of employment he had been told to sign.

A court case

Contracts are said to contain clauses considered unfavourable for drivers hence why some employers fear they could be used against them or be the basis for a court case.

Mr Karege said not having a copy of the contract denied him the chance to take his case to court after he was fired.

About 1,200 drivers claim to have been illegally sacked from Belvedere Lines, Sotra Tours and Impala Travel Agency, which are transport companies that closed down.

The former drivers come together under an association called PRODCO that seeks to advocate for drivers’ rights. However, attempts by other drivers to join PRODCO attract harsh action from employers.

“Most of the affected drivers fear to raise their grievances because when their bosses find out, they get fired,” said one of the drivers, adding that transport companies make sure that they block workers from joining trade unions.

A few upcountry transport operators grant drivers two days off in a week, but only during off peak hours. Majority of the drivers in Kigali like John Gitore, who has been working in this sector for more than 10 years, reported living with prolonged fatigue as they are usually overworked. They start work at 1am and report back as early as 4am.

Hit targets

The fatigue, coupled with speeding and the need to hit targets, are blamed for the accidents which put passenger’s lives at risk.

Transport Regulator Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) estimates a sharp increase in the number of passengers using public transport from 250,000 people in 2013 to 450,000 people last year.

Rwanda Today could not establish if anything was being done about the driver’ concerns since concerned government officials were not available for comment by press time.

However, public transport owners’ association (ATPR) chairperson Eric Ruhamiriza, said no claim of unlawful working conditions had been brought to their attention.

RURA had touted the awaited use of Drivers Vocational Cards in public transport as likely to contribute to improving drivers’ working conditions since employer-employee job terms would be the basis for issuing the card.

Mr Kabanda said initiatives such as the use of cashless payment systems, installation of speed governors and the just-introduced vocational cards were being used to curb accidents and bad driving habits.

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The Dangote answer to Nigeria's oil crisis

Posted MOHAMMED MOMOH in Abuja

on  Tuesday, May 23   2017 at  10:56

The completion of the Dangote Refinery in 2019 will mark another milestone in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.

The refinery is being built by Mr Aliko Dangote, the founder of the Dangote Group of Companies and the richest man in Africa.

The $14 billion refinery will produce 650,000 barrels per day of refined petroleum products to meet all Nigeria’s needs, as well as for export.

It holds the prospects of stopping the importation of refined petroleum products by the African giant.

The resource base

The West African state spent N2.59 trillion to import refined petroleum products in 2016, according to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics. Mr Dangote said that the refinery projects were primarily meant to diversify the resource base of Nigeria.

"This is the biggest industrial site anywhere in the world from the fertiliser, petrochemical and refinery plants.

"Our refinery will be 1.5 times the capacity of all the existing four refineries in the country, even if they are working at 100 per cent capacity.

Fertiliser plants

"This is the single largest refinery in the world. The petrochemical that we have is 13 times bigger than the Eleme Petrochemical built by the government,” Mr Dangote said.

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo described the project as an incredible industrial undertaking, possibly the largest and most ambitious on the continent.

Apart from refining crude oil, the Dangote Refinery will also have petrochemical and fertiliser plants.

An Executive Director in the Dangote Group, Mr Mansur Ahmed, said the plant would process 1.3 million metric tonnes per annum of petrochemical products.

The fertiliser plant will produce 2.8 million metric tonnes of assorted fertiliser, while the gas plant will produce three million cubic metres of gas per annum.

The refinery will also have the largest sub-sea pipeline infrastructure in the world, with capacity to handle three billion cubic metres of oil annually.

The project is located in Lekki Free Trade Zone on 2,200 hectares, an area eight times bigger than the entire Victoria Island in Lagos.

According to Mr Mansur, the first phase of the plant will be ready by the end of 2017, the second by the end of 2018, while the third and the inauguration of the refinery will be in 2019.

It is regrettable that Nigeria, with large oil reserves and being the largest crude oil producer and exporter in Africa and eighth in the world, still imports more than 80 per cent of its petroleum products.

The capacity

The country often experienced fuel shortages due to the poor state of its refineries. All the three refineries, operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), were producing far below their capacity.

The Port Harcourt Refinery has 10.500 million mt/y (metric tonnes per year) capacity of refined products, but it was producing at less than 20 per cent of the capacity.

The Kaduna Refinery, built in 1980, has capacity to produce 5.5 million mt/y (110,000 b/d), while Warri Refinery, built in 1978, can produce 6.2 million mt/y (125,000b/d) of refined products.

With the Dangote Group on board, Nigeria will now host one of the largest refineries in the world after the Jamnagar Refinery in Gujarat, India, the world's largest, which produces 1,240,000 barrels per day.

Syndicated loan

The Dangote Refinery will be the biggest in Africa taking over from the South Africa’s Sapref Refinery, which produces 180,000 barrels per day and Cairo’s Mostorod with a capacity of 142,000 barrels per day

Mr Dangote has already provided $7 billion in equity out the $14 billion estimated total cost of the project.

Some Nigerian banks provided a syndicated loan of $3.3 billion for the project.

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has also promised to assist the Dangote Group to access foreign funding for the project.

Afreximbank President Okey Oramah gave the assurance during a tour of the project with the bank’s board members in 2016.

Is delivered

Dr Oramah said the board members decided to visit the Dangote Group to assess the project for possible financial assistance.

He said the Dangote Group was making tremendous impact across the continent, which included in Tanzania, Gambia, Zambia and Niger.

“We are supporting them in what they are doing in those countries, so we are equally supporting them in this ongoing project, so it is important for the Board of Directors of Afreximbank to pay a courtesy visit to the site.

“It is important to come and see first-hand the project that is ongoing because we are also planning to support them to ensure the project is delivered on scheduled," said Dr Oramah.

Some other private investors were still visiting the project site to evaluate the facilities with the prospect of investing in the project.

The likely benefits of the Dangote Refinery to Nigeria are diverse.

Mr Dangote said that the project would save the country about $7.5 billion annually in foreign exchange being used to import petroleum products and also generate $5 billion foreign exchange earnings annually.

The plant, according to him, will generate over 100,000 employment opportunities and revive over 11,000 filling stations that had been shut due to shortage of products.

Dangote said that the refinery would lower the price of petrol products in Nigeria and save some costs incurred in importation.

He urged the Federal Government to pursue the diversification programme, to wean Nigeria from heavy reliance on crude oil export.

According to him, the best way to diversify the economy was through agriculture and “our fertiliser plant is in line with that goal”.

Export gas

“By the time we finish out gas pipeline, it can generate about 12,000mw and we can export gas to other African countries.

“We would have the capacity to store four billion litres of products and can load 2,680 trucks per day.”

The Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, said the project would create some 235,000 jobs both directly and indirectly.

He said the project would boost the economy of Lagos and entire Nigeria through its multiplier effects.

Eliminate problems

The Independent Petroleum Marketers of Nigeria (IPMAN) National President, Mr Chinedu Okoronkwo, described the Dangote Refinery as a welcome development.

He said it would ease operations of marketers and help to reduce their costs, stressing that the association had long been calling for total deregulation of the sector.

Mr Okoronkwo said that the new refinery would also boost industrialisation in the country.

The President of Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists, Mr Abiodun Adesanya, said the refinery would eliminate problems associated with fuel importation, create competition and generate employment.

He said that the success of Dangote Refinery was an indication that the Nigerian private sector could make commercial success of refineries.