In the past few weeks there have been unofficial reports that some people in Tanzania, including one in Dar es Salaam, had died of what was suspected to be Ebola virus disease. As we know, there is an ongoing outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in which thousands have died.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has criticised Tanzania for failing to provide details about suspected cases of Ebola in the country. While Tanzania insisted it had no confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola, it did not directly address the case of the woman mentioned by the WHO and provided no further information.
The reports are a cause for concern because they followed earlier cross-border Ebola cases and fatalities in neighbouring Uganda which were clearly linked to the DRC outbreak. The ongoing concern is that the disease might spread in the region, and potentially even globally.
The DRC outbreak was declared a global public health emergency in July and regional countries were advised to proactively monitor the situation and report any suspected cases of Ebola.
The cases in Tanzania, if confirmed, are also highly likely to be related to the ongoing outbreak in the DRC.
What is different and a departure from international norms in Tanzania’s case is the lack of transparency, and information sharing. No clinical data, investigation results, contact tracing and laboratory tests performed have been shared by the government.
Why the government has taken this route is unclear and some observers are alleging a cover-up in which for whatever reason, the authorities in Tanzania seem deliberate about not providing the information that have been requested for by WHO. Fear and concerns among international travellers are spreading fast.
One possible explanation might be that the government is reluctant to give out details for fear of alarming the public and the international community. Providing information could spread panic while also affecting international travel, tourism and business.
The problem with this thinking is that it means missing the opportunity to contain the outbreak before more people are exposed. When this happens, a much better response is needed. And panic, as well as travel and business disruptions, may end up being even greater.
Why information matters
The importance of sharing information cannot be over-estimated. Ebola can spread at a phenomenal speed – as was shown in the 2014-2016 outbreak in West Africa. The only way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to provide information to the public, stakeholders, put service providers on high alert, provide necessary suppliers, and ensure a functional laboratory capacity is in place. Those who have come in contact with people who have contracted the virus need to be isolated while the infected need supportive care.
Getting all stakeholders on board lessens the burden of containing an outbreak. For example, in Ebola outbreak situations we have seen before, the WHO is often willing and ready to provide technical capacity where these are lacking. These include personnel, laboratory and supplies. No such requests have been made in this case.
The WHO provides extensive guidance on a range of issues. These include definitions of suspected Ebola virus disease cases, setting up surveillance systems, contact tracing, infection prevention among health care providers and handling deaths. Under the International Health Regulations, Ebola is classified as a notifiable disease. This means that countries are obligated to report suspected and confirmed Ebola cases.
The first action on any suspected case of Ebola is to isolate the person and to provide supportive treatment. At this stage, samples are taken to a reference laboratory for testing. The next step is to trace all the people with whom the person had contact with and to try and establish whether they are showing symptoms or not.
Most of the outbreaks that have caused lots of infections and deaths have been as a result of a poor response in identifying and isolated early cases. For example in Guinea it took about three months to establish Ebola as the cause of the epidemic. This usually happens where health systems are weak, as was the case with the west Africa outbreak and in the DRC. Insecurity is an additional layer to the challenges of containing the outbreak in the DRC.
The Ebola virus is transmitted through body fluids. Risk of exposure is high in particular settings. These include health facilities such as laboratories, during burial rituals involving the washing of corpses, and other intimate acts such having sex with an infected person. The web or network of exposed people can grow quickly from one case if steps aren’t taken early on to avoid further onward transmission.
Research has shown that the number of new cases generated from a single case in the absence of control measures can be as high as two. Given the relatively short incubation period of two to 21 days, several new cases can develop and a full blown outbreak may manifest.
In the event that Ebola cases are confirmed in Tanzania, the logical thing to do is to act fast to stem further spread. Isolation of infected people and their contacts is critical.
New vaccines are being tried in the DRC and Uganda especially among front line health workers who are more likely exposed to virus through attending to patients. This could also be considered to protect those at the highest risk of exposure.
The WHO and other UN agencies discourage countries from imposing travel bans. The WHO argues that travel bans are detrimental and ineffective in the control of Ebola outbreaks. Nevertheless, there is usually nervousness among potential travellers which ultimately affects businesses and normal life.
Tanzania expects to raise cashew nuts production by 33.5% in the year to September 2020, helped by favourable weather conditions and increased plantings, its agriculture minister said on Saturday.
Output in 2019/2020(October-September) is seen reaching 300,000 tonnes, up from the 225,000 tonnes produced in the 2018/2019 season.
"We expect to get a bigger harvest in the coming season, with our cashew nut production likely to rise to more than 300,000 tonnes," the minister, Japhet Hasunga, told Reuters.
"This forecast of increased output is attributed to good weather, widespread availability of farming inputs and increased plantings."
Last year, the government blocked traders from buying the crop from farmers after they could not meet the minimum indicative prices set by the president, and bought the entire crop itself.
President John Magufuli had ordered a 94 percent hike in prices, arguing that farmers were receiving too little for the most valuable of Tanzania's crop exports.
He then deployed the army to collect the entire crop of over 200,000 tonnes of cashew nuts from farmers.
But in November he sacked two ministers, saying they had failed to secure buyers.
Hasunga told Reuters that the government had eventually sold the 2018/2019 crop to a Vietnamese firm, but would allow private traders to resume buying in 2019/2020.
Tanzania has signed a contract with Airbus for the European planemaker to supply two passenger jets for the country’s national airline to help expand its small fleet and extend its network of destinations, a government official said on Friday.
Benjamin Ndimila, the Chief Executive Officer of Tanzania Government Flight Agency (TGFA), told Reuters that under the contract Airbus would supply two A220-300 aircraft.
President John Magufuli has been personally championing the revival of Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL), joining other regional governments that are launching or revamping national carriers to share in Africa’s growing aviation business.
Last month, neighbouring Uganda also relaunched its national carrier.
TGFA, under the president’s office, leases aircraft to Air Tanzania. Air Tanzania’s existing fleet includes one Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, two Airbus A220-300 jets and three DHC Dash 8-400 aircraft, formerly known as the Bombardier Q400 turboprop.
Ndimila said the new Airbus planes would have a more luxurious interior than in the existing aircraft.
“The new planes will have an improved entertainment system including screens in each seat,” he said.
Airbus, he said, had told Tanzania the planes would be ready in about a year. He declined to say how much they would cost. Magufuli’s government reckons a more efficient national airline will help tourism, a mainstay of Tanzania’s economy.
On Monday, he said the airline carried 75% of domestic air traffic, up from 3% three years ago.
“So far the business is doing very well. We are overwhelmed by the demand ... we wish these planes could be delivered even tomorrow,” Ndimila said.
Tanzania is starting the process of building the fourth largest hydro dam in Africa and the ninth largest in the world.
Tanzanian President John Magufuli is to lay the foundation stone for the construction of Stiegler’s Gorge hydroelectric power project.
The project according to government officials will cost $3 billion. The 2,115 megawatts hydroelectric dam when completed will produce 5,920GWh of power annually.
The project was an original idea of Tanzania’s founding President Julius Nyerere. It was abandoned due to financial and environmental concerns but the project is back on. Current president, Magufuli is however committed to industrializing his country with such projects.
The project is part of Tanzania’s power master plan, to interconnect the grids of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. The government’s plan is to execute such industrial projects to alleviate constant power outages hampering the manufacturing sector.
But there are concerns from environmentalists who say the dam is situated in middle of Selous Game Reserve. The reserve is the main elephant sanctuary in Tanzania and a World Heritage Site.
There are fears the dam will destroy wildlife habitat. Tanzania is part of some East African countries trying to ensure that they have enough power generation capacities. Kenya is now home to Africa’s biggest wind power plant. The plant in the Marsabit County is to provide nearly a fifth of the country’s energy needs.
The project is to support the Kenyan government’s commitment to increase electricity generation to 5,000W.
Tanzania’s economy expanded 5.2% in 2018, the World Bank said, the second major report this year from a multilateral financial institution contradicting rosier government figures.
Tanzania’s finance minister had told parliament last month that growth was 7% last year
In a report, the World Bank, which makes its calculations based on state data, also forecast 2019 growth at 5.4% – again lower than the government’s estimate of 7.1%.
Last year’s growth was affected by a decline in investment, exports and private lending, the report said.
“Data related to consumption, investment and net trade suggest that growth softened in 2018,” it said.
President John Magufuli embarked on an ambitious programme of industrialisation after coming to power in 2015, investing billions of dollars into infrastructure, including a new rail line, reviving the national carrier and a hydropower plant.
But government interventions in mining and agriculture have led to declining investment in east Africa’s third largest economy. Foreign direct investment has more than halved since 2013, while private sector lending growth plummeted to less than 4% in 2018, far below the 20% average between 2013-16.
The World Bank report follows an unpublished International Monetary Fund (IMF) report in April that also raised questions over Magufuli’s handling of the economy.
A leaked version of the report, seen by Reuters, accused the government of undermining the economy with “unpredictable and interventionist” policies, saying medium-term growth would be around 4-5 percent, again below official forecasts.
In its report, the World Bank said investment growth was subdued partly because of government struggles to meet spending targets in development projects. The economy could grow to 6% by 2021 “with a modest improvement of the business climate and a pick-up in [foreign direct investment] and other private investment,” the bank said.
Other economic indicators also point to a slowing economy.
The current account deficit widened to 5.2% percent of GDP in the year ending January 2019, up from 3.2% a year earlier, the bank said. The value of exports dropped nearly 4% last year, partly because the government banned cashew exports, a major foreign exchange earner, due to low prices.
On the other hand, the construction of the standard gauge railway and expansion of Dar es Salaam port helped drive up the value of imports by 7.8%, the World Bank said. The government should minimise economic risk by improving the business environment and fiscal management, it recommended.
Globally, Tanzania is also vulnerable to weaker demand, tighter financing conditions, and higher international energy prices, it said.
Eleven people were killed in an attack last week by an Islamist militant armed group in northern Mozambique near its border with Tanzania, Mozambican police said on Wednesday.
Several of the attackers from the Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama (ASWJ) group were later arrested, police added, referring to a militia operating in the gas-rich northern province of Cabo Delgado province since at least 2014.
Six people were wounded in the raid, said Orlando Mudumane, spokesman for Mozambique Police's General Command, adding that the arrested gunmen included both Mozambicans and foreigners.
"On 26 of June, 2019, a group of bandits perpetrated an attack in the village of Itole, in Palma District, killing 11 civilians; 9 Tanzanians and 2 Mozambicans," he said.
He dismissed reports the that deaths were by beheading, a method of killing used by the group in some previous attacks.
"All of them died of gunshot wounds, no beheadings. The defense forces combed the area and have already detained some elements of the group, foreigners and nationals."
Information about the attack has been scarce, with conflicting accounts from local and international media on the number of deaths and nature of the attack in the Muslim-majority region of the southern African nation.
Last week's ambush was the latest in a spate of execution-style attacks in the area since 2017 that have so far killed more than 100 people, while forcing hundreds to flee into the interior. Tanzanian security officials on Saturday also confirmed the attack and number of deaths, but were unsure of the identity of the suspects.
"The attack took place on June 26 in Mozambique where the Tanzanians had gone to work in paddy fields," Tanzania's police chief Simon Sirro said at a weekend briefing near the border.
"According to eyewitness accounts, unidentified gunmen raided the paddy farmers and carried out the attack."
Sirro said Tanzanian and Mozambique police had launched a joint investigation into the incident.
Impoverished Cabo Delgado, surrounded by dense forests and isolated villages, houses a growing clutch of multinational companies developing one of the biggest offshore gas finds in a decade - estimated to be worth at least $30 billion.
Whilst the attacks have mostly targeted civilians and government buildings, in February U.S. energy giant Anadarko said one worker was killed and several others injured in two attacks near the construction site for its massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Cabo Delgado.
The attacks by the Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama, or "followers of the prophetic tradition", have drawn comparisons to Islamist groups in Tanzania, Somalia, Kenya and the Great Lakes region.
In common with Boko Haram in Nigeria, it touts a radical form of Islam as an antidote to what it regards as corrupt, elitist rule that has broadened gaping inequality.
The problem of irregular migration from the East and Horn of Africa to southern Africa presents a formidable challenge for countries along this route.
As they device ways of managing the flows while at the same time ensuring that the human rights of migrants are respected and protected, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya, held a three day high level inter-governmental consultative conference which was expected to deliver a final comprehensive roadmap to address the situation of stranded migrants on the Southern route.
It was against the backdrop of this challenge that the three countries affected by the flux, namely The ‘Southern Route’ – as this migration route has become known – is reportedly used by scores of irregular migrants journeying southward in the hope of reaching South Africa.
A release from the International Organization for Migration has indicated that the consultation involved was held in partnership with both the International Organization for (IOM) and the European Union (EU). Running from Tuesday to Thursday, (April 2-4, 2019), the meeting takes place with the support of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa. The programme, backed by the Africa Trust Fund, covers and has been set up in close cooperation with a total of other 23 African countries.
According to the IOM, the initiative is motivated by the desire to strike that delicate balance between managing the movement and ensuring appropriate human rights consideration in the treatment of the migrants. It follows several bilateral and trilateral technical meetings between the abovementioned countries, since 2014.
Technical experts from the three countries, with the support of IOM, were scheduled to develop a draft outcome document to be adopted by the states at senior political level on the third day, which was this past Friday.
In light of the above, chief of mission of the IOM in Tanzania, “Dr. Qasim Sufi, had expressed optimism that the donor community would continue to step forward to support efforts for the safe return and reintegration of vulnerable migrants.” He did in the same vein acknowledge the efforts of both the United Republic of Tanzania and Ethiopia to jointly assist migrants who are stranded in Kenya.
A key priority of the Joint Initiative, according to IOM, was to support partner countries in the region to develop capacities for safe, humane and dignified voluntary return as well as sustainable reintegration processes. In that regard, a roadmap aimed at addressing issues pertaining to the trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants in the region, as well as the sharing of good practices and developing holistic approaches in tackling irregular migration on the Southern Route is reported to have been crafted at the consultation conference.
Other issues to be addressed by the proposed roadmap include considering alternatives to detention practices and exploring better coordination mechanisms to protect vulnerable migrants and as well improving existing voluntary return and reintegration processes and policies.
This publication made efforts to obtain comments from Wison Johwa, the IOM East Africa Regional communications officer regarding the outcomes of the EU-IOM sponsored Tri-nation initiative, which also linked me with both Alem Makonnen and Abbibo Ngandu, both based in Pretoria. The effort notwithstanding, hit a snag.
Source: Sunday Standard
An e-commerce platform, Jiji has announced the acquisition of OLX in Ghana and four other counties in Africa.
The details of the deal was made available via a statement by Naspers on Wednesday.
Consequently, OLX users in Ghana would be directed to Jiji marketplace in a transaction backed by one of Jiji’s cornerstone investors, Digital Spring Ventures.
According to the statement, both companies have also reached an agreement to acquire the other OLX businesses in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, subject to regulatory approvals.
The statement noted that all users of the sell-and-buy classifieds websites of OLX Nigeria, OLX Ghana, OLX Kenya, OLX Tanzania, and OLX Uganda would be redirected to Jiji.
The Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Jiji, Anton Volyansky, while making comment on the deal, said, “Users will always come first for us. We warmly welcome OLX’s customers to the Jiji family and we look forward to our new customers joining Jiji on its …online shopping experience.”
OLX shut down business in Nigeria last year February while it maintained its online marketplace as workers were laid off.
Tanzania says it plans to conclude talks in September with a group of foreign oil and gas companies led by Norway’s Equinor on developing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in the East African country.
Construction of an LNG export terminal near huge offshore natural gas discoveries in deepwater south of the country has been held up for years by regulatory delays.
“The government has officially decided to begin talks in early April for construction of the LNG project,” Tanzania’s energy ministry said in a statement issued late on Friday.
“We are keen to implement this key project for the economy and we plan to ... conclude the talks in September this year,” the ministry said.
The country’s central bank believes just starting work on the plant would add another 2 percentage points to annual economic growth of around 7 percent. The talks are aimed at negotiating a host government agreement, which is seen as a crucial step towards reaching a final investment decision for the long-delayed project.
The decision to speed up the talks was reached following a meeting on Friday between the African country’s energy minister, Medard Kalemani, and Mette Ottøy, a senior vice president at Equinor, who is also the company’s country manager in Tanzania.
Equinor, alongside Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil and Ophir Energy, plan to build a $30 billion onshore LNG plant. The firms plan to develop the project in partnership with the state-run Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC).
Tanzania invited bids in April 2018 for consultancy services to help the government conclude negotiations for the host government agreement. Tanzania has estimated recoverable reserves of over 57 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas.
Tanzania President John Magufuli wants to speed up negotiations to set the commercial and fiscal framework for the LNG terminal development to boost revenues to finance other infrastructure projects.
Stiegler's Gorge Hydroelectric Power Station (SGHPS), which will be able to generate over 2,100MW.
Minister for Energy, Dr Medard Kalemani, told the Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Minerals, which visited the construction site recently, that 5,000 Tanzanians would be employed as temporary workers and 400 others would be employed under permanent contracts.
The parliamentary committee, which visited the construction site to assess mobilisation procedures, was led by its chairman, Mr Danstan Kitandula.
According to Mr Kalemani, between 3,000 and 5,000 Tanzanians will be employed during the construction, while between 250 and 400 others will get permanent employment after construction.
"Other 400 Tanzanians will be employed when the project starts to generate 2,225MW. This means they will be employed after construction," he noted.
He added: "Employment opportunities will help Tanzanians get income and improve their lives."
According to Dr Kalemani, the implementation of the project will uplift the livelihoods of Mloka villagers in Rufiji District in Cost Region and of Kisaki villagers in Morogoro Region.
He added that the project would enable the supply of electricity to 37 villages in Kibiti and Chalinze. A total of 12 villages will be connected to electricity under Tanzania Rural Energy Agency (REA) programme.
The government signed a construction agreement with Arab Contractors and Elsewedy Electric from Egypt in December 2018.
Speaking after the signing of the contract, Speaker of National Assembly Job Ndugai reaffirmed the Parliament's commitment to supporting the implementation of the hydropower project. Mr Ndugai praised the government for achieving what he described as a "historic landmark."
He added that: "As Parliament, we will support the initiative by allocating sufficient funds to make this project successful and useful."
The project is expected to cost 6.5tri/-. In October 4, 2018, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa visited the construction site and asked all Tanzanians and experts to play their roles effectively in ensuring proper implementation of the project.
In February, this year, the government handed over the site to the Egyptian contractor. The move paved the way for the contractor to officially start the job that will avail additional 2,100MW to the national grid.
Source: Daily News