The Rwandan Cabinet has approved an agreement with Russia to advance the use of nuclear energy for "peaceful purposes," a move that is expected to bolster relations between the two countries and advance the latter's interests in the region.
This comes ahead of the first Russia-African Forum next week in the city of Sochi, which President Paul Kagame has confirmed attendance, accompanied by a delegation of senior government officials.
The nuclear power deal was first signed in Moscow last December and will see Russian scientists set up a Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology in Kigali.
The deal was boosted in May when a Russian government nuclear parastatal, Rosatom Global, reached an agreement to set up the nuclear plant by 2024--that the government says will help in the advancement of technology in agriculture, energy production and environment protection.
It has signed similar co-operation agreements with Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania even as questions over the appropriateness of the technology loom large.
In June Rwanda commenced negotiations to purchase Russian missile defense systems, as reported by the Russian press, as well as signed agreements to develop a military simulation and training centre in Kigali.
The trade and political relationship between Rwanda and Russia has steadily grown over the years as the European country seeks to compete with the US, China and Western Europe for trade and political influence in Africa.
Minister of Trade and Industry, Soraya Hakuziyaremye, met top Russian politicians in Moscow early this year, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as well as investors to discuss further trade partnerships.
Ms Hakuzumeremyi said she invited more Russian investors to explore what Rwanda has to offer.
"We want to deal with countries on equal footing, and we consider Russia one of the countries willing and eager to pursue that path," Ms Hakuziyaremye said.
The EastAfrican reached out to the Russian officials, who said they had also negotiated agreements with different institutions including the Rwanda Development Board, Kigali Military Hospital and the Ministry of Agriculture.
Rwanda's imports from Russia--mainly cereals, machinery, fertilisers, iron, and steel--increased from $20 million worth in 2017 to $31 million worth in 2018, according to Russia's Export Centre data.
Exports to Russia--mainly agricultural products--however, remained a paltry $3.6 million worth, an increase from $2.4 million worth from 2017, which is a big negative balance of payment that Rwanda hopes to reverse.
The Putin regime also provides aid to Rwanda amounting to $3.5m per year, mainly towards energy development.
The two countries' military forces co-operate in training and exchange of information through a commission that was set up in 2017.
Russia's exports to the East African Community increased from $439.8 million in 2017 to $500 million in 2018, coinciding with a new larger plan by President Putin to restore Russia's status as a great power.
Kenya is Russia's biggest trade partner in the EAC, followed by Tanzania, with main imports being chemicals, arms, and machinery.
Source: East African
Russian hackers piggy-backed on an Iranian cyber-espionage operation to attack government and industry organizations in dozens of countries while masquerading as attackers from the Islamic Republic, British and U.S. officials said on Monday.
The Russian group, known as “Turla” and accused by Estonian and Czech authorities of operating on behalf of Russia’s FSB security service, has used Iranian tools and computer infrastructure to successfully hack into organizations in at least 20 different countries over the last 18 months, British security officials said.
The hacking campaign, the extent of which has not been previously revealed, was most active in the Middle East but also targeted organizations in Britain, they said.
Paul Chichester, a senior official at Britain’s GCHQ intelligence agency, said the operation shows state-backed hackers are working in a “very crowded space” and developing new attacks and methods to better cover their tracks.
In a statement accompanying a joint advisory with the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre said it wanted to raise industry awareness about the activity and make attacks more difficult for its adversaries.
“We want to send a clear message that even when cyber actors seek to mask their identity, our capabilities will ultimately identify them,” said Chichester, who serves as the NCSC’s director of operations.
Officials in Russia and Iran did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent on Sunday. Moscow and Tehran have both repeatedly denied Western allegations over hacking.
GLOBAL HACKING CAMPAIGNS:
Western officials rank Russia and Iran as two of the most dangerous threats in cyberspace, alongside China and North Korea, with both governments accused of conducting hacking operations against countries around the world.
Intelligence officials said there was no evidence of collusion between Turla and its Iranian victim, a hacking group known as “APT34” which cybersecurity researchers at firms including FireEye FEYE.O say works for the Iranian government.
Rather, the Russian hackers infiltrated the Iranian group’s infrastructure in order to “masquerade as an adversary which victims would expect to target them,” said GCHQ’s Chichester.
Turla’s actions show the dangers of wrongly attributing cyberattacks, British officials said, but added that they were not aware of any public incidents that had been incorrectly blamed on Iran as a result of the Russian operation.
The United States and its Western allies have also used foreign cyberattacks to facilitate their own spying operations, a practice referred to as “fourth party collection,” according to documents released by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden and reporting by German magazine Der Spiegel.
GCHQ declined to comment on Western operations.
By gaining access to the Iranian infrastructure, Turla was able to use APT34’s “command and control” systems to deploy its own malicious code, GCHQ and the NSA said in a public advisory.
The Russian group was also able to access the networks of existing APT34 victims and even access the code needed to build its own “Iranian” hacking tools.
Zimbabwe's militant teachers' group, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) says its members will from today start reporting for duty only twice a week as they could no longer afford transport fares to and from work.
This, they announced through a Friday letter they addressed to Public Service Commission chairperson, Vincent Hungwe.
PTUZ secretary general Raymond Majongwe said teachers under his 15 000-member union will also be abandoning formal dressing during their course of duty as they can no longer afford the clothing.
He said teachers' earnings have been eroded by continued price increases that have propelled the country's inflation to an alarming 591 percent, according to top world economist Steve Hanke.
"We hereby give our notice of incapacitation and with effect from Monday the 21st of October 2019 our members will be reporting for duty twice a week at most," Majongwe said.
"Mr Chairman, teachers would also like to advise and notify you that because of their plight, they will no longer be able to abide by the Strict Dress Code Rules as the little pittance they are getting is not adequate to feed them and their families, let alone buy formal clothing."
Majongwe said teachers under his organisation will only resume full time duty when government starts paying their wages based on the US dollar interbank rates, which on Friday stood at $15.8 against USD$1.
"Our humble and honest request to government is simply a radical adjustment of teachers' salaries to the last USD salary paid, at the current interbank rate, that is pegged at $15.8 today," he said.
The pending job action by the radical teachers group comes as junior doctors working in the country's public hospitals Friday went into Day 47 of their crippling strike demanding a review of their wages and allowances based on interbank rates.
The doctors insist they were prepared to report for work, but they were financially incapacitated to do so.
Government has offered the critical health staff a 60 percent wage hike which has been turned down by doctors who want their salaries pegged against the US dollar.
According to latest wage talks, government Friday revised the offer to 100 percent.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa Thursday accused the striking doctors of being used by the enemy to advance a regime change agenda against his under-fire administration.
Credit: New Zimbabwe
Boeing Co said on Sunday it understood the outcry over leaked messages from a former test pilot over erratic software behavior on its 737 MAX jet two years before recent crashes, and added it was still investigating what they meant.
The world's largest planemaker, under growing pressure to explain what it knew about 737 MAX problems before it entered service, said it had not been able to speak directly to former employee Mark Forkner but echoed his lawyer's subsequent claims that the problems were linked to a faulty simulator.
The role of the simulator has emerged as a crucial issue since the 2016 messages surfaced on Friday, since investigators will want to know whether erratic movements reported by the pilot meant Boeing was aware of problems on the aircraft itself or only in the artificial cockpit.
The FAA on Friday ordered Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg to give an "immediate" explanation for the delay in turning over the "concerning" document, which Boeing discovered some months ago.
In the messages from November 2016, then-chief technical pilot Forkner tells a colleague the so-called MCAS anti-stall system - the same one linked to deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia - was "running rampant" in a flight simulator session.
At another point he says: "I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly)."
The messages, first reported by Reuters, prompted a new call in Congress for Boeing to shake up its management as it scrambles to rebuild trust and lift an eight-month safety ban of its fastest-selling plane.
"We understand entirely the scrutiny this matter is receiving, and are committed to working with investigative authorities and the U.S. Congress as they continue their investigations," Boeing said in its statement on Sunday.
Boeing said it informed the FAA about its decision to expand MCAS to low speeds. The FAA also observed MCAS operation in the low-speed configuration during certification flight testing, from August 2016 through January 2017, Boeing said.
The instant messages prompted harsh reactions from several Democratic lawmakers in Washington, with Representative Peter DeFazio saying, "This is no isolated incident."
"The outrageous instant message chain between two Boeing employees" suggests "Boeing withheld damning information from the FAA," DeFazio, who chairs the U.S. House Transportation Committee, said on Friday.
Muilenburg, who was stripped of his chairman title by the company's board nine days ago, is set to testify before the committee on Oct. 30.
DeFazio's committee also obtained details of a 2016 Boeing survey that found nearly 40% of 523 employees handling safety certification work perceived "potential undue pressure" from managers, such as bullying or coercion.
Other top concerns include "schedule pressure" and "high workload," though 90% of the employees said they were comfortable raising concerns about "undue pressure" to management, according to a copy of the Boeing presentation of the survey results seen by Reuters on Sunday.
The presentation was obtained by the committee's investigators and not among a trove of documents handed over the committee by Boeing itself, a person briefed on the matter said.
Evidence of "undue pressure" was also pinpointed by a group of international regulators reviewing the 737 MAX certification.
A Boeing spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the survey results.
On Sunday, Boeing said it has not been able to speak to Forkner directly about his understanding of the document.
"He has stated through his attorney that his comments reflected a reaction to a simulator program that was not functioning properly and that was still undergoing testing," Boeing said.
"The simulator software used during the Nov. 15 session was still undergoing testing and qualification and had not been finalized," Boeing added.
Reuters reported on Friday that the simulator had a number of software problems, citing a former Boeing test pilot who analyzed the transcript and who had direct knowledge of the flight simulator at the time.
Such calibration problems may have contributed in some way to Forkner's observations and conclusions about MCAS' behavior, the former pilot, and a second former Boeing engineering employee, Rick Ludtke, said.
Boeing's statement was released as its board of directors and top executives from its airplanes division and supply chain gathered in San Antonio, Texas for previously scheduled meetings on Sunday and Monday.
The board meetings come as pressure mounts on the Chicago-based company not only from the regulatory and criminal investigations stemming from the crashes but also from the financial burden caused by the jet's safety ban and continued high production.
Several industry sources said there was speculation inside the company of significant job cuts as it continues to experience a cash drain. The 737 production rate may also have to come down if regulators further delay the MAX's return to service, the people said.
Kaïs Saïed has won Tunisia’s presidential election.
This triumph came at the expense of the two forces that have dominated Tunisia’s political landscape since the 2011 revolution: Islamism and nationalist secular parties.
Over the past eight years, these two movements failed to meet the urgent demands of the people, expressed in the famous revolutionary slogan: work, freedom and dignity.
The alliance between these two forces – represented on the one hand by the Islamist Ennahdha party and, on the other, by the secularist parties Nidaa Tounes and Tahya Tounes – sparked far-reaching crises: an economic crisis, a crisis of representative politics and a crisis of social and moral values.
The establishment confiscated power and was incapable of meeting the urgent demand for jobs and justice. It created a gulf between the State and society.
Its disdain for young people and the forces of the revolution gave rise to populism in the country. In this context, populism embodies the political language of those excluded from governance, growth and development.
Though populism is heterogeneous in nature, it often revolves around a powerful, enterprising figurehead.
Throughout his campaign Saïed positioned himself as the absolute embodiment of the will of the people. He is known for his courtly use of literary Arabic and his constitutional expertise. He projects moral rigidity and brings with him a utopian project to transform Tunisian executive power. This was hugely popular with young voters.
There was a feeling that the new leaders, though democratically elected, usurped the “Revolution of Dignity” (as it is known in Tunisia). Representative democracy was perverted for private, partisan and mafia-type interests.
The youth, and large swathes of the middle and lower classes, were destabilised by a high cost of living and a lack of employment. This disenchantment created a hotbed for populism.
The drive for change is still there, and this presidential election provided the opportunity for a legal revolution.
Platform of morality
Kaïs Saïed is a law professor who based his platform on his respect for the new Constitution and the rule of law. He is also in favour of local, decentralised power as a way to address unemployment and the marginalisation of citizens and regions.
To win, he said that he would purge his programme of any references to inheritance equality, the decriminalisation of homosexuality, and the abolition of the death penalty. These are subjects that are seen as the concerns of the elite, as opposed to the people.
Saïed has a reputation for integrity and honesty that was unparalleled among his rivals, who are largely seen as arrogant and often ignorant.
Saïed’s support is underpinned by a structure for political change embodied by the Forces of Tunisian Youth made up of students, the unemployed and the marginalised.
Lacking financial resources and headquarters, this new horizontal structure was inspired by the revolutionary social movement and brings together leftists, social conservatives and extreme-right activists from the former Leagues for the Protection of the Tunisian Revolution.
These youth express themselves and organise on social media, with official pages, closed support groups, and a codified language via Facebook, Telegram, WhatsApp and Messenger.
Their platforms help circulate flattering pictures and bombastic declarations by Kaïs Saïed, described as a cross between a “vigilante Robocop” and “Gaddafi without the oil”.
In this way, young people campaigned for the orator.
Within the media, various populist figures expressed their support for Saïed. As a “revolutionary candidate”, he also garnered support from the Ennahdha party and the Salafists.
This support has pushed Tunisia in a new direction, with more radical than moderate values, privileging Islam over secularism.
History tells us that populist rhetoric and populist government can bring about the best and worst outcomes. The best would be the renewal of the rusted state system, with across-the-board social innovation and the ascendance of a new, younger generation of leaders.
The worst would be the deterioration of the centralised state, already sorely tested since the fall of the former regime.
In that case, political demagogy, economic collapse and social disorder could usher in a new era.
Translated from the French by Alice Heathwood for Fast ForWord.