Items filtered by date: Thursday, 05 October 2017

President Jacob Zuma said South Africa and Zimbabwe must implement their 2009 agreement aimed at cutting the massive delays characteristic with the Beitbridge border post by having a one-stop border post at the busy international gateway.

“I wish to underscore the strategic significance of a one-stop border post at the Beitbridge border. This border post is the busiest border post on the continent. Much of our goods and services go through it. We cannot afford to continue to have unnecessary delays at that border,” Zuma said while addressing the second session of the neighbouring countries’ Bi-National Commission (BNC) in Pretoria.

“It is therefore important and urgent that we start in earnest the process of establishing a one-stop border post. Our two countries took a decision to do so as far back as 2009. In this regard, we direct the relevant ministers and officials to move with speed and report progress at the next BNC [to be hosted in Harare next year].”

After a closed door meeting between the delegations of the two countries, a joint communique read out by South Africa’s International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane at the conclusion of the BNC said resolved to speed up the development of legal framework for the one-stop border post.

“Having noted the developments on the one-stop border post (OSBP) at Beitbridge, they [the two heads of state] welcomed the establishment of a joint technical committee whose mandate, among other things, will be to develop the necessary legal framework for the project. The two heads of state reaffirmed the strategic importance of the OSBP and directed the relevant ministers to fast-track its operationalisation,” she said.

On Monday, of Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, also said the two governments should wrap up issues which have long been on their agenda, particularly the establishment of a one-stop Beitbridge border post.

“Our two countries stand to benefit immensely from the smooth movement of people and goods through the Beitbridge-Musina border post. A one-stop at the busiest border post in the African continent will bring harmonised processes, improved infrastructure and smiles to many of our compatriots and others who regularly traverse through this border. It will produce impacts that will extend beyond our two countries and region,” said Mumbengegwi.

“The establishment of the one-stop border post at Beitbridge-Musina is an urgent issue that needs our dedicated attention.”

South Africa and Zimbabwe have good bilateral political, economic and social relations underpinned by strong historical ties dating back many years. The two countries do not only share strong historical relations but also economic cooperation. Zimbabwe is one of South Africa’s top five trading partners on the continent, with trade statistics showing annual growth.

In 2016, South Africa’s exports to Zimbabwe amounted to approximately R29.3-billion.

There are over 120 South African companies doing business in Zimbabwe in various sectors including mining, aviation, tourism, banking sector, the property sector, the retail sector, construction sector, and the fast food sector and many more.

At the BNC hosted at the Sefako M. Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria on Tuesday, Zuma was supported by several ministers including Nkoana-Mashabane, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nkqakula, Trade and Industry Minister Dr. Rob Davies, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele, and Transport Minister Joseph Maswanganyi.

Visiting Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who co-chaired the BNC with Zuma, was accompanied by his officials including Mumbengegwi, Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, Health and Child Care Minister David Parirenyatwa, Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo and the country’s Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira.


Source: African News Agency

Published in Economy

Kenya plans to attract low-cost airlines in order to increase the number of international tourists visiting the country, a senior government official said.

Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Najib Balala told a media briefing in Nairobi that an increasing number of tourists are using low-cost airlines. "We are therefore developing an aviation strategy for the tourism sector that will offer incentives for low-cost airlines to begin flying into Kenya," Balala said during the Seventh Edition of the Annual Magical Kenya Travel Expo.

The three-day event will showcase Kenya's tourism destinations to overseas travel agencies. Tourism promotion agencies from Tanzania, Rwanda, and Seychelles were also represented in the conference. The east African nation had previously set aside 12 million U.S. dollars to promote chartered air travel.

"However, charter tourism is facing a lot of challenges due to the changing patterns of international holiday makers who are seeking to spend less on vacations," Balala said. 

Kenya already has a number of budget airlines operating in the country, which has helped expand the domestic tourism sector. Domestic low-cost airlines have contributed to pushing earnings of the local tourism sector to account for over 52 percent of the industry, Balala said.

He said Kenya needs to replicate the successful model of low-cost airlines to attract more foreign tourists. The country is planning to invest more in domestic tourism because it's more resilient as compared to international travelers, he said.

According to the ministry of tourism, Kenya recorded 1.3 million international arrivals in 2016. Balala noted that despite a 10 percent increase in tourist arrivals in the first eight months of 2017, overall tourist arrivals the whole year will likely fall as compared to last year due to the prevailing political uncertainty caused by a re-run of the presidential polls, now scheduled for Oct. 26.


Source: Xinhua

Published in Travel & Tourism

Kenya has registered an explosive growth in the number of TV and radio stations in about two years since the East African nation switched from analogue to digital broadcasting.

The growth has been unprecedented, with the number of TV stations rising to 66 while radio stations have doubled to 178 since 2015. The swell indicated that Kenyans now have more variety in terms of TV content and can choose from a myriad of radio stations to listen.

Besides, the growth means more jobs created in the sector, which include radio and TV announcers, technicians and journalists. "At the end of the financial year 2016/2017, the number of free-to-air TV channels on the digital terrestrial platform stood at 66 up from 60 recorded in the previous quarter," latest data from the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) shows Wednesday.

The TV stations are mainly free-to-air as tight competition among pay TV players in the East African nation has locked out new entrants. The regulator attributed the increase to the opened space in the broadcasting sector as a result of digital TV, which has made it easy to join as all investors need to do is register their stations and come up with content, which will be carried by companies that distribute the Digital Terrestrial Television network.

The mode of operation has, therefore, reduced investment capital for investors who initially had to install transmission infrastructure across the country. 

"The increase in TV stations is mainly as a result of licensing of new entrants in the broadcasting market," said the CA in the report for the quarter ending June.

Kenya switched to digital TV in January 2015 and since then, the signal has been expanding to cover 78 percent of the population as at the end of June, enabling millions of people who were locked out of TV viewing initially to enjoy the service. During the quarter, there was extension of network coverage by some of the self-provisioning digital signal distributors to various areas, including far-flung border towns like Kapenguria, Wajir and Lamu.
The expansion of the digital signal coupled with rise in the number of TV stations from five in 2015 has made more Kenyans acquire set-top-boxes. Close to 5 million Kenyans now own the set-top boxes which they use to access the digital signal, up from less than 1 million in 2015.

"The cumulative number of digital set-top boxes purchased as at the end of June stood at 729,477 for Free-to-Air set top boxes and 3,788,417 for pay TV," the CA noted.

Similarly, the total number of active FM stations in the country has risen to 178 stations as at the end of June from nearly 70 in 2015. Like TV, the FM stations are being carried on the digital platform making it easier for investors to join the industry.

"When compared to the 139 stations recorded in last financial year, there has been a remarkable increase of 28 percent, which was as a result of licensing of new operators in market," said CA. Bernard Mwaso, a consultant with Edell IT Solution, noted that digital migration was a huge blessing for the Kenyan citizens and the sector in general.

"Though the migration was initially resisted by media owners, time has come to disapprove them as the sector has expanded exponentially. Now the industry is no longer controlled by the big corporates but even small players have a stake in it," he said. Mwaso observed that the entrance of the new TV and radio stations has led to more audience segmentation and fragmentation giving people a variety of stations and programmes to choose from.

"It is a good thing because you can now find a TV or radio station catering for farmers or news only, for instance. This is something that could not have been possible in the past," he noted, adding that a good number of stations are regional and broadcast in vernacular languages therefore addressing listeners immediate needs.


Source: Xinhua

Published in Engineering

Weaknesses at KPMG South Africa are not systemic and reforms are underway to address mistakes made in work it carried out for business friends of President Jacob Zuma, the firm's new local chief executive told parliament on Thursday.

KPMG sacked a number of South African executives last month after it found work undertaken for firms owned by the Gupta family - a trio of Indian-born businessmen with close ties to Zuma - "fell considerably short" of its standards.


Published in Business

The link between climate change and violent conflict is a complex one. In specific circumstances changing weather patterns may lead to conflict. For example, people may be forced to leave their homes or grazing land and encroach on other communities. But the links are often exaggerated and oversimplified.

Somalia is a case of subtle connections between drought, food insecurity and conflict. Understanding these connections better – and identifying other relevant factors – could help prevent suffering in future.

The people of Somalia have been through regular cycles of violence and food insecurity in the last few decades.

Food and conflict

Since the collapse of the central government in 1991, there have been at least seven periods of food insecurity that coincided with droughts. Some were times of famine, which the UN defines according to certain measures of hunger, malnutrition and death, and others were food crises, when hunger and malnutrition rose sharply. The major events were: a famine in 1991–92, food crises in 1999–2000, 2006 and 2008, another famine in 2011–12, a food crisis in 2014 and a food crisis verging on famine in 2016–17.

At the same time, the country has been in a state of civil war. Conflict in Somalia has deep political roots that go back decades. After the Somali-Ethiopian war in 1977-78 drained the government’s coffers, severe austerity was implemented to control debts and protests were met with brutal repression. Eventually, the Siad Barre government, which had been in power since October 1969, collapsed in January 1991, ushering in civil war between rival clan-based political factions.

Normal rainfall patterns

The seasons and livelihoods in Somalia revolve around rainfall.

The main rainy season (called gu) is from April to June and a second rainy season (called deyr) is from October to November. All other months are dry. Crop prices follow a seasonal trend: they decrease in July/August as the gu harvest replenishes stocks, increase between September and December as market stocks are used up, and decrease again in January/February with the deyr harvest.

The rains are particularly crucial to the Somalis whose livelihoods depend on the land. In the pastoral zones, lush pasture nourishes livestock, thus increasing their value. In the agricultural zones, a good harvest lowers crop prices, replenishes household stocks and provides work.

Recent drought

Drought has a severe impact. In 2016, poor gu rains led to a low harvest. Later that year, the deyr rains were also poor and the harvest fell by 70%. In the northern parts of Somalia the dry season was hotter and drier than usual, and the region had experienced drought during the previous two years. This destroyed the harvest and livestock.

In southern Somalia, 2017 began with a dry season that was hotter and drier than usual. The 2017 gu rains started late and were below normal, which led to a low harvest.

The combined effects of these events were that people could not feed themselves or get work. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that over 3.1 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

Drought and displacement map for Somalia as of May 2017. Humanitarian Information Unit, U.S. Department of State

The role of al-Shabaab

In southern Somalia, the militant group al-Shabaab controls large areas including key agricultural areas. The group relies on a variety of tactics to get new recruits and solidify its presence. For example, in one area it builds canals to make local farmers less dependent on rainfall, thus cultivating goodwill and getting recruits.

At the peak of the 2011/12 drought, al-Shabaab was reported to have sabotaged the relief effort by restricting access to humanitarian agencies. This made the situation worse for people affected by the drought. Bruno Geddo of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Somalia believes food insecurity plays into al-Shabaab’s hands:

Because of the increase in food prices, [the famine] has been a boon for al-Shabaab’s recruitment campaign because when you don’t have purchasing power to buy the food, you will be encouraged to be recruited because then you will be saved, and you can use that salary or you could be given food.

In other words, al-Shabaab takes advantage of the hunger and desperation caused by drought. In this way, climate worsens the conflict by giving al-Shabaab more manpower.

Mitigating drought and preventing famine

It is wrong to blame climate change for famine and conflict. These can either be prevented, or the impact minimised, if institutions and mechanisms of good governance are in place.

For example, the severe 1973–75 drought in Somalia affected 700,000 people (20% of the population) and the death toll was around 20,000 (less than 1%). The country at the time had a strong central government and institutions that dealt effectively with the natural disaster and reduced its impact. International help was also sought quickly. Around USD$ 640 million (2017 equivalent) was spent on drought relief efforts.

The US Agency for International Development said in a 1975 case report that the Somali government:

promptly and effectively mobilised all resources at its disposal to cope with the emergency.

Somalia’s new president, Mohamed Farmaajo has already declared the current drought a national disaster, and the country is in the process of formulating its first national disaster management policy. For this policy to be effective, Somalia needs a Somali-led integrated disaster information system that identifies food insecurity and directs response. Other useful steps include harnessing local knowledge and technology to meet the people’s needs.

According to a recent study, there has been a strong link between global warming and increased dryness in the Horn of Africa over the past 2000 years. Somalis should be prepared for more hard times in future.


Hakim Abdi, Geographer and Sustainability Scientist, Lund University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Agriculture

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