Ambassador Caabi Elyachroutu Mohamed congratulated president Michel on his re-election (Patrick Joubert Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) – Seychelles and the Comoros are working on a judicial agreement to address the drug trade and future exchanges of prisoners, government officials from the two countries said Tuesday.
The agreement will allow prisoners to serve time in their respective countries’ prisons.
The Comoros already have such an agreement with neighbouring island nation Madagascar and Tanzania in East Africa.
The subject is timely. Eighteen Comorian fishermen were arrested by the Seychelles Coast Guard in Seychelles’ waters in November. Officials say the fishermen were fishing without authorisation in the lagoon of the Aldabra Atoll, a nature reserve.
Tuesday’s announcement came after a meeting between Seychelles President James Michel and Comoros Ambassador Caabi Elyachroutu Mohamed. During his meeting with Michel, Mohamed congratulated the Seychelles head of state on his December re-election on behalf of Comorian President Dr. Ikililou Dhoinine.
One of the boats caught by the Seychelles coast guards ( SIF) Photo License: CC-BY
During his trip to Seychelles, Mohamed met with the 18 fishermen in total who were arrested. Three Comorian skippers were charged last week with illegal fishing.
“I wish that the court proceedings will be done in the best possible conditions,” he said.
Mohamed is on a working visit to the Seychelles archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. The two countries enjoy bilateral co-operation in many fields given that both are small island states.
The Comorian ambassador has expressed his interest in the having the Seychelles national airline making Coromos one of its destinations.
“The Seychelles is becoming the hub of the region, this is interesting for us. We wish that Air Seychelles will be interested in flying to our island,” said the Madagascar-based Mohamed.
Mohamed Ali Soilihi votes at a polling station in Mbeni on January 25, 2015 during legislative elections (AFP Photo/Ibrahim Youssouf)
Moroni (Comoros) (AFP) – The vice president of the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Comoros, Mohamed Ali Soilihi, won the first round of the country’s presidential elections with 17.61 percent of the vote, preliminary results released late Tuesday showed.
Soilihi edged ahead of Mouigni Baraka, the governor of Grande Comore island, who garnered 15.09 percent, ahead of Colonel Azali Assoumani, who placed third with 14.96 percent.
The three candidates will now face off in a second-round of voting on April 10, with the winner succeeding outgoing President Ikililou Dhoinine.
Some supporters of Fahmi Said Ibrahim, who had been one of the favourites but trailed in fourth place, alleged his low count had been due to fraud.
Police dispersed a small group of Ibrahim supporters who gathered at the party’s headquarters on Grande Comore.
An African Union observer mission led by former Tunisian president Mohamed Moncef Marzouki said “apart from few isolated incidents, the entire election took place in an orderly and peaceful” manner.
The first round of voting on Sunday only took place on Grande Comore, in accordance with electoral rules that ensure the president is chosen on a rotating basis from one of the country’s three main islands.
The system was established in 2001 after more than 20 coups or attempted coups in the years following independence from France in 1975.
Dhoinine’s completion of his five-term term has been seen as a sign of growing stability in the Comoros.
Voters queue in the Comoros capital Moroni to cast their ballots for the presidential election from a crowded field of 25 candidates on February 21, 2016 (AFP Photo/Ibrahim Youssouf)
By Béatrice Debut, Aboubacar M’Changama
February 21, 2016 1:32 PM
Moroni (Comoros) (AFP) – Voters in the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Comoros cast their ballots in an election for a new president Sunday from a crowded field of 25 candidates, with a struggling economy and poor infrastructure high on the agenda.
Officials started counting the ballots after polling stations closed, using candlelight and camping lamps in a country that suffers from endemic electricity shortages that paralyse the economy, said an AFP journalist in Moroni.
Polling in the country of less than one million people took place without any major incidents, although some were delayed by the late arrival of voting materials.
Voting in areas affected by delays continued after the official closing time at 6:00 pm.
A total of 159,000 voters on Grande Comore island were eligible to vote in the first round of the election, in accordance with electoral rules that stipulate the president is chosen on a rotating basis from one of the archipelago’s three main islands.
Among those running for president are a former coup leader and the vice president.
After the first round, the three top candidates will go into a nationwide run-off on April 10 that will decide the successor to President Ikililou Dhoinine.
Dhoinine comes from Moheli, the smallest of the three main islands. The other island in the trio is Anjouan.
The system of rotating candidates among islands was established in 2001 in a bid to usher in stability after more than 20 coups or attempted coups, in the years following independence from France in 1975.
Among the candidates leading the field are vice president Mohamed Ali Soilihi, Grande Comore governor Mouigni Baraka and Azali Assoumani, a former coup leader and two-time former president.
Athoumani Toioussi, an unemployed mother who was voting in the capital Moroni, on Grande Comore, said she would vote for Assoumani, despite his coup history.
“Yes, he came to power through a coup but it helped get the country out of chaos,” Toioussi told AFP.
Another voter, Houmadi Ahmedi, favoured Baraka saying “he gave learning materials to elementary school.”
– Avoiding ‘double voting’ –
Moinaecha Youssouf Djalali, a businesswoman, is the only female candidate in a country where the majority are Sunni Muslims.
Dhoinine’s successful completion of his five-year term has been seen as a sign of growing stability in Comoros, though many candidates had expressed fears of electoral fraud.
“Real efforts are being made by the election commission and international actors to ease any political or social tensions,” European Union representative Eduardo Campos Martins said.
With suspicion poisoning the political atmosphere in the archipelago nation, “we are entering the sensitive phase now, with the tallying and counting,” said Nadia Torqui, a UN consultant.
The electoral commission on Saturday had agreed to a request from 20 candidates to ban proxy voting, seen as a possible source of fraud, “to preserve the peace”.
Voters were also set to be forbidden from leaving Moroni or moving between villages unless they had an official pass “to avoid double voting”, the interior ministry said.
The election is being monitored by dozens of African and international observers as well as a 425-person monitoring platform established by local civil society groups.
The campaign of all 25 candidates had been centred on similar promises of free health care, education and infrastructure improvement, in a country where the roads are riddled with potholes and women and children queue for water.
Voters were also choosing governors for the three islands.
Early results were expected from Sunday night.
The article was originally published in Yahoo! News.
Drones are delivering contraceptives to hard-to-reach Ghanaian villages in a program jointly funded by the U.N. and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and it’s so successful that other countries want it too, HuffingtonPost reported.
Deliveries to rural Ghana that once took two days now take 30 minutes by drone, and each flight costs only $15, according to Kanyanta Sunkutu, a South African public health specialist with the U.N. Population Fund.
Sunkutu said he expected the pilot program in Ghana to encounter resistance, and worried people would associate the drones with war. So the U.N., in its program materials, referred to the drones only as “unmanned aerial vehicles” — not drones.
“We don’t want that link between war and what we are doing,” Sunkutu told The Huffington Post in an interview. “But the resistance we thought we would get has not been there.”
Less than than 20 percent of women in sub-Saharan Africa use modern contraceptives. In rural Africa, a flood can shut down roads for days and cut off medical supplies, making access to birth control a massive problem.
An estimated 225 million women in developing countries around the world want to delay or stop childbearing, but don’t have reliable birth control, according to the World Health Organization. This prevents women and girls from finishing school or getting jobs. About 47,000 women die of complications from unsafe abortions each year.
“We are particularly committed to exploring how our family planning efforts can meet the needs of young women and girls,” Bill and Melinda Gates said, according to their foundation website.
The idea to use drones for delivering birth control came from a program in the Amazon, Sunkutu said.
The drone operator packs a five-foot-wide drone with contraceptives and medical supplies from an urban warehouse and sends it over to places hard to reach by car. There, a local health worker meets the drone and picks up the supplies.
Project Last Mile has been flying birth control, condoms and other medical supplies to rural areas of Ghana for several months.
Now it’s expanding to six other African countries. The goal is to revolutionize women’s health and family planning in Africa. Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia, Ethiopia and Mozambique have expressed an interest.
Using drones to improve reproductive health isn’t exactly a new idea — it’s just new in Africa, according to Huffington Post. In June, a Dutch organization called Women on Waves used a drone to fly abortion pills to Poland, trying to raise awareness of Poland’s restrictive abortion laws.
Project Last Mile says it is the first to develop a long-term, sustainable program for delivering contraceptives by drone.
Sunkutu hopes that eventually drones will revolutionize other areas of rural African life., starting with family planning.
“They can deliver ballots after elections, or exams for school,” he said. It becomes a logistics management solution for hard-to-reach areas. We’re going to use family planning as an entry and make it sustainable.”
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Joseph Kabila of DRC. Photo Credit: Paul Kagame
By Nick Branson and Jamie Hitchen
Staying Power: Referenda in the Republic of Congo and Rwanda have paved the way for presidents Sassou Nguesso and Kagame to extend their tenures. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), President Kabila appears intent on remaining in power beyond the end of his second term in November 2016. Kabila’s political machinations have been met with violent protest and international opprobrium. By contrast in Benin, incumbent president Boni Yayi has resolved to step down when he completes his second term in February 2016.
Africa Debt Rising: Sovereign bond issuance rose dramatically as commodity markets peaked in 2014, before tailing off as the price of oil and export minerals collapsed. With budget deficits approaching unsustainable levels in many countries and the supply of cheap debt in decline, some African governments face tough choices – cut spending or dramatically improve domestic revenue collection. This new reality will be inescapable for Zambia and Ghana in an election year. In 2015, their currencies were devalued substantially and visits from the IMF further raised concerns about the sustainability of debt levels. 2016 may see the IMF revert to a more familiar role of supervising austerity measures, albeit in a less conspicuous fashion than during the structural adjustment era; whilst Ghana accepted IMF support, Zambia has so far rejected a financial bailout package.
Economic Opportunity: African economies that rely heavily on oil and other commodity exports – including Nigeria, Angola and Zambia – continue to suffer due to low or declining prices. But this setback also provides an opportunity to focus on diversifying their economies. In Nigeria, there is much talk of revitalising agriculture. In East Africa, efforts are being made to reduce economic inefficiencies and improve productivity: progress in regional telecom reform, for example, demonstrates much from which the rest of the continent can learn.
Insecurity in Nigeria: Many Nigerians voted for Muhammadu Buhari because of his campaign commitments to tackle corruption and defeat Boko Haram. The arrest of former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki for allegedly overseeing illicit and financially fraudulent transactions worth billions of naira is highly symbolic. Despite an announcement that the government has “technically won the war” against the Boko Haram insurgency, military action has not yet been convincing and the threat remains. The renegotiation of the Niger Delta amnesty and recent agitation by Biafran separatists illustrate the security challenges facing Buhari’s government.
Urban Transport: In September 2015 Addis Ababa opened the first part of a new 17km light rail system funded in part by Chinese investment. A similar venture that forms part of the urban plan in Lagos has been beset by delays. However, Governor Ambode of Lagos State has promised that the first line will be operational by December 2016. Dar es Salaam’s bus rapid transit (BRT) system failed to open as planned in October 2015 but is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2016. New urban transport networks will need to be affordable for the everyday commuter if they are to successfully reduce congestion and improve the productivity of cities.
Flying Donkeys: The world’s first civilian cargo drone station is set to open in Rwanda in 2016. “Flying donkeys” will be capable of carrying small packages across distances of up to 80km and could help to overcome some infrastructure challenges. Regulation concerning the use of unmanned vehicles is in the process of being drafted by Rwanda’s civil aviation authority and a successful pilot should see a nationwide network of cargo drone routes established.
Sorting out the Union: The post-election crisis in Zanzibar has highlighted the shortcomings of Tanzania’s current political configuration and reignited calls for power to be shared more equitably among the constituent parts of the Union. Tanzania remains the only African nation to possess a dual-government structure, a lopsided arrangement that falls short of being a fully-fledged federation. Zanzibar retains its own executive, legislature, and judicial system; while a parliament in Dodoma and a president in Dar es Salaam take decisions for both the mainland and the Union as a whole. Tanzania’s president, John Magufuli, may consider constitutional reform as a solution to the impasse in Zanzibar; however, he will face resistance from his own party, which has repeatedly rejected changes to the status quo.
The Prominence of Social Media: African youth harnessed the potential of modern communication tools to mobilise protests in Burkina Faso and South Africa, successfully preventing a military coup and halting significant rises in university tuition fees. Twitter hashtags are becoming important tools for mobilisation and are likely to become more prominent as the cost of communication decreases. Governments are already responding to this perceived threat. Tanzania rushed through four pieces of legislation relating to access to information, media, statistics and cybercrime in 2015, while Nigeria may adopt a social media bill in 2016.
The Battle for the ANC: In South Africa, rumours have been circulating about plots to oust President Zuma mid-term. Zuma famously usurped Mbeki as ANC president at the national conference in Polokwane in December 2007, positioning him to become head of state, following the April 2009 elections. Zuma’s decision to fire Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister was an assertion of his authority that backfired. With the ruling party likely to lose control of important metropolitan authorities at municipal elections in 2016, the campaign to succeed Zuma will dominate South African politics right up until the next ANC national conference in December 2017.
A Changing Climate: In 2015, flooding in Freetown and Accra devastated urban areas whilst El Niño brought drought to rural Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. Unpredictable weather will be a continuing feature in years to come, despite the agreement reached at COP21 in Paris. Long term commitments can work alongside short-term solutions: improved urban management and support for the growing of drought resistant crops like finger millet. But weather can also offer opportunity for the continent. Renewable energy, in particular solar, wind and geothermal, has been cited as a key avenue for tackling the power deficit on the continent by African Development Bank president, Akinwumi Adesina.
Nick Branson and Jamie Hitchen are researchers at ARI.
ROBERT ROTBERG | Special to The Globe and Mail | Published Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 8:00AM EST
Robert Rotberg is founding director of the Program on Intrastate Conflict and Conflict Resolution at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and senior fellow of the Centre for International Governance Innovation.
A strong new broom is sweeping Africa. In both Nigeria and Tanzania, determined new presidents are challenging the onetime dissolute and largely easygoing ways of their predecessors. As Nigeria and Tanzania go, so conceivably could go the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.
In Tanzania – expected to be the fifth-largest country in the world in 50 years – President John Magufuli took office in November and immediately began imposing higher conduct standards on his surprised and resentful colleagues.
When he unexpectedly arrived at the main state hospital to find slovenly conditions and administrators absent, he sacked the head of the facility. When he held a meeting and six administrators arrived hours late, thinking that “African time” still ruled, they were jailed. After being released, they showed up for work two hours early. Ever since, civil servants everywhere in the country have been rushing to work at 6 a.m., not 7:30 a.m., just in case the President or some other leader chooses to check on their adherence to approved office opening times.
Mr. Magufuli, insistent on frugality, has banned all non-essential foreign travel, and restricted first-class and business-class air ticketing to himself, his Vice-President and the Prime Minister. He has thus ended decades of happy privileges for many lower-ranking but self-important politicians and administrators and, symbolically, showed a new sensitivity to waste.
Mr. Magufuli, previously a well-regarded and assertive minister of public works who earned the nickname “bulldozer,” cancelled Tanzania’s Independence Day celebrations in early December, telling his officials to spend the saved money on cleaning up Dar es Salaam’s littered streets. “It is so shameful that we are spending huge amounts of money to celebrate 54 years of independence when our people are dying of cholera,” he said.
The President’s actions also said more than his words. He personally joined the cleanup campaign in the streets, picking up trash along with fellow leaders, all of whom he had mobilized and energized.
Mr. Magufuli, a 56-year-old Roman Catholic and a former seminarian, was on the warpath against unnecessary expenditures throughout December. He startled everyone accustomed to sending out government Christmas cards by prohibiting their transmission, especially from his own office. He believes that printing cards at government expense is wasteful and unethical.
In a desperately poor country riddled for years by wild corruption scandals, all of these declarations and manoeuvres have been bold and well received by citizens, if not by the privileged politicians from his long-ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi political party. Long accustomed to abusing their public positions for private gain, they have been surprised and alarmed by the actions of the new President.
In 2014 and early 2015, key cabinet-level ministers and other officials were accused of stealing from the state-owned electricity monopoly, and for shifting huge sums of cash overseas illegally. Several prominent politicians lost their jobs, but graft still persisted as an accustomed way of life – until October and the arrival of Mr. Magufuli.
It is too early to tell whether the President’s dynamic gestures will improve Tanzania’s performance on a sustainable basis, and whether his pointed actions – many essentially symbolic – will reduce corruption appreciably. But they have given Tanzanian citizens, and East Africans more generally, great hope that governance will strengthen and that his fresh leadership will make government work for the people, rather than take from them.
Across the continent, in populous Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari’s broom has also swept strongly since he won the presidential election in March. Corrupt pursuits, once standard nationally and in the country’s 36 states, are now discouraged by Mr. Buhari, and corrupt politicians have been arrested. Petroleum revenues are neither being squandered nor spent wildly to enrich prominent individuals. Nigerians are beginning to enjoy more reliable services, even steadier electrical power and better road maintenance. The New Zion has not yet fully arrived, but it could be coming.
Tanzanians may soon also benefit appreciably from their new, committed leadership. If so, the Magufuli and Buhari brooms may presage similar behavioural replications in other African countries, appropriate emulation and aroused expectations (and hope) among Africa’s growing middle class.
LAGOS, the congested commercial capital of Nigeria, has a population variously estimated at anything from 12m-21m. But what is certain is that people are moving to the megacity and its smaller counterparts across the continent in droves—and not into brand new flats with recently acquired mortgages.
With around 40% of its people living in cities, sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s least urbanised region. But it is changing fast: the UN predicts that its urban inhabitants will more than treble in number to 1.1 billion by 2050, accounting for 56% of the region’s population. By 2030 Dar es Salaam, Johannesburg and Luanda will have joined Kinshasa and Lagos as megacities, each with more than 10m people.
Most of that growth will be in slums, which are currently doubling in size every 15 years while they shrink in many other parts of the world. They’re not always cheap to live in, either. Economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that in Kibera, a Nairobi slum, residents devoted almost a third of their non-food expenditures to rent. More than 90% of them are tenants. In Kenya’s countryside, by contrast, 90% of households pay no rent at all, typically because they built their own shelter on informally owned land.
Rural migrants who want to take advantage of the opportunities Africa’s cities have to offer often have no choice; formal housing is unaffordable in most countries. The cheapest new, privately-built formal house in Ethiopia cost $68,783 in 2013, according to the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa, a South African non-profit. A 100 square metre state-subsidised apartment sold for $16,600, 35 times the average Ethiopian’s earnings (by comparison, in Britain the ratio is around five times). Even in Mali the cheapest legally-built private homes in the region, at $5,800 (plus another $1,000 to $4,000 for land, depending on location) are out of reach for most.
It is no surprise that sub-Saharan Africa has the smallest mortgage market in the world. Just 3.7% of adults in urban areas had any type of home loan in 2011, according to a World Bank report released this week. The value of Nigeria’s mortgages more than quadrupled between 2006 and 2011, but was still equivalent to no more than 0.5% of GDP, compared with more than 25% in South Africa.
That won’t change until more of the region’s land is registered (just 10% was in 2013) and the tangles of state and customary ownership are resolved. Rwanda’s computerised land registry is the kind of reform that might help. It cut the time it takes to transfer a property from a year to a month. Countries from Ghana to Uganda are trying similar reforms. African cities will also have to invest huge sums in sewage systems, roads and other infrastructure if they want to house the millions of people who are likely to move there in the coming years. In the meantime Africa’s slums will continue to swell.
Africa has some of the best beaches in the world. Tourists will be flocking to them soon as those in the southern hemisphere take summer holidays and those from the north look for ways to escape their winter.
So where are Africa’s top beaches?
In drawing up the list I have taken both an objective as well as subjective approach.
For the objective assessment I have used the ratings of the Blue Flag awards as well as my own research. South Africa is the first country outside Europe as well as the first African country to implement the Blue Flag scheme. It currently has 39 fully complied beaches with another 30 in the process of complying.
For my subjective list I have drawn on my own experience and knowledge as well as experiences of friends and family.
The top performers
Africa has some wonderful beaches. A serious traveller or beachgoer should certainly visit at least one of them once in a lifetime. The list below is not in order of preference, but offers would be travellers different opportunities and experiences.
Most of South Africa’s Blue Flag beaches are in the Western Cape followed by KwaZulu-Natal and then the Eastern Cape. Blue Flag award beaches have to comply with 33 criteria including safety, cleanliness, environmental management and water quality. The award can be revoked if a beach does not comply.
The longest running Blue Flag beaches in South Africa and a must visit are Grotto Beach in the Western Cape, Humewood Beach in the Eastern Cape, and Ramsgate and Marina beaches KwaZulu-Natal.
From a more subjective standpoint I would recommend Tofo Beach at Inhambane in Mozambique. This is an 8 km stretch of beach that also offers diving and great sea life. Added benefits are facilities for rest and relaxation – as well as excellent prawns.
Namibia also offers tourists beautiful beaches. One of my favourites is the Skeleton Coast. It offers space and great marine life as well as ship wrecks. Crowded beach won’t be a problem. There might in fact be nobody around depending on when you visit.
Another country that offers wonderful beach experiences is Kenya. The beach I propose is Shela Beach in Lamu. It is also a UNESCO Heritage Site and is generally accepted as the country’s top beach.
I also have to include Angola. This is the new kid on the block and I propose Mussulo Bay peninsula. This is for the adventure traveller, offering wonderful beach as well fishing.
And then the islands
One of my ultimate favourites is Tanzania. I must admit I love Zanzibar. It offers great diving, snorkelling and swimming. This is a little piece of heaven on earth. Enjoying the locally produced gin is a treat as well.
If we move to Madagascar, my choice is Sainte-Marie Island. It offers beautiful sandy beaches with palm trees. Once again, diving and great sea life are on offer as well as good food.
It would unfair if I didn’t include Malawi. My choice falls on Likoma Island, which is part of Lake Malawi. This is one of Africa’s jewels. Clear clean water, great for swimming, diving or snorkelling, and friendly communities.
And then there is the Seychelles’s Anse Source d’Argent, La Digue. It is regarded as one of the world’s greatest beaches, truly something out of this world.
I could add more beaches in the west and north of the continent. But this list at least provides a taste of what Africa can offer. Hopefully the Blue Flag award scheme will be implemented in other African countries so that the continent can get its lion’s share of beachgoers, one of the biggest generators of revenue globally.