The Ugandan government has slapped Kenyan poultry processors with import quotas.

This comes a week after the Kenyan government lifted a two-year ban on poultry products from Uganda following an Avian flu outbreak in 2017.

In a letter by Uganda Commissioner of Animal Health at the Ministry of Agriculture Dr Ann Rose Ademun, Kenyan poultry processors are only allowed to export into Uganda 2,000kg of smoked chicken sausages for four months.

“We will only allow (processed chicken) import from Kenya for a period of four months and only 2,000kg of chicken sausages,” part of the letter reads. Ademun said the move is to protect Uganda’s poultry industry. “In order to promote and support the Uganda government goal on the development of meat industry, the Department of Animal Health wishes to advise you to source for meat (chicken) products on the local market. We shall allow import for a short time not exceeding four months from now,” Dr Ademun said in a letter to one of the poultry industry players.

“Your organisation is, therefore, encouraged to buy local machinery equipment for chicken products processing and production of quality products to support government national effort as well as access to export trade.”

Kenya imports about 35,000kg of Uganda poultry weekly. However, given the porous nature of the borders, the number could be higher. The import restriction has generated an unhealthy competition and supremacy war between the two East African Community (EAC) countries. The trade spat may hurt both Kenyan and Ugandan farmers.

In 2017, Kenya banned the importation of chicken products from Uganda due to an outbreak of the Avian influenza virus. Uganda retaliated by banning the importation of Kenyan poultry products.
Upon the resolution of the outbreak, the two countries agreed to allow the resumption in trade. Uganda, however, continues to impose the ban on Kenyan products, insisting they are protecting their local industry.
Spirit of EAC

Paul Makau, a large-scale poultry farmer and the chairman of the United Broiler Farmers Association, said Uganda’s move negates the spirit of the EAC Common Market Protocol, which allows for free movement of goods, labour, services, and capital.

“The new development means that the Uganda poultry products have free access to the Kenyan market while the Kenyan products are regulated from accessing the Ugandan market,” he said.
Kenya’s poultry industry contributes about two per cent of the country’s gross domestic product. The impact is bigger given that most households in rural areas rear chicken for commercial purposes and their activities are not recorded.

The industry’s growth is powered by health-conscious consumers who prefer poultry meat to red meat. On average, Kenyans ate 2.6kgs of poultry meat in 2018 a slight increase from 2.3kg in 2017.

 

Source: Standard Media Kenya

For a period of time between 1986 and the early 2000s Uganda was considered to be a country committed to democratic reform. But in recent years the democratic space has shrunk dramatically.

In a recently published journal article I argue that two factors have been crucial. The first is the gradual breakdown of the political consensus that was forged under a ‘broad-based’ government. This consensus resulted in a relatively progressive constitution which was adopted in 1995.

The second is the security imperative which has been accentuated by the fight against terrorism. As a result, the legitimate opposition has become a target of trumped up terror charges.

These two factors have been compounded by incumbent president Yoweri Museveni’s determination to be in power indefinitely. He’s dug in. He wants to rule for life. To stay put in State House, Museveni has had to run roughshod over important constitutional and institutional safe guards, checks and balances that were enshrined in what was a relatively progressive and liberal constitution. His actions have eroded the minimum political consensus embodied in Uganda’s 1995 constitution.

The result has been an erosion of basic democratic institutions, the securitisation of politics, criminalisation of political competition, and an upsurge in contentious politics. The outcome is that the country is facing a deep governance crisis.

How it’s meant to work

To work effectively a democratic government, of whatever stripe and tenor, must be anchored in a set of institutions. It must follow the ‘rules of the game’ that structure and condition actor-behaviour. In many countries the constitution is the primary source of the rules that translate into functional institutions, governmental bodies and state agencies.

But how do the rules of the game come about? They can be imposed through colonial conquest and forceful occupation, or through autocratic leadership. But taking this route is inevitably a recipe for contestation, protestation and even violent confrontation.

The second, and more sustainable, way of establishing the rules of the game is through negotiation, compromise and, in some respects, co-option of key political actors and their constituents. The essence is to arrive at some minimum political consensus that embodies the aspirations and wishes of key political actors and the wider public.

This minimum consensus turns on the basic norms and beliefs about what is acceptable and what is considered outside the bounds of political activity and engagement. Without this it’s not possible to sustain democratic governance.

In the early years of Uganda’s National Resistance Movement there was an attempt to build minimum consensus around some basic rules. This culminated in a constitution being adopted in 1995 that provided for several crucial checks and balances. This included granting parliament autonomy and the judiciary independence. There were also assurances of public accountability through a slew of institutions. These ranged from parliament’s public accounts committee to the Inspectorate of Government and the Auditor General.

But, in my view, the minimum consensus embodied in the 1995 constitution has been ripped apart.

What’s been broken

In 2003, Museveni began his assault on the constitution with a view to deleting presidential term limits. This came after two decades of single-party rule, which was a system of governance that was cleverly packaged as ‘no-party’ politics.

As part of Museveni’s assault on the supreme law there was a turnaround to embracing multiparty politics. In 2005, Ugandans went into a referendum and voted to return to a mulitparty system of governance. But the referendum was no more than a tactical move; it was used as a bargaining chip to remove term limits.

As a result, Uganda has been on a downward spiral since 2006.

By undermining the 1995 constitutional order in pursuit of regime survival, Museveni and the National Resistance Movement have simultaneously eroded minimum consensus and triggered political polarisation. And there has been little regard for policy alternatives and how best to move the country forward in successive election cycles.

This state of affairs has produced toxic politics and a highly adversarial relationship between the political opposition and security agencies, especially the police. The sum of it is that state security and police agencies have placed squarely at the centre of political contestations.

The desire to cling to power has also lead to institutions being undermined. In the judiciary, for example, the appointment of ‘cadre judges’ became pronounced after 2005.

In addition, state patronage, gerrymandering, and outright rigging have been used to manufacture a super majority in the house. Consequentially, Parliament has been grossly watered down and twisted to be at the service of regime survival.

The war on terror

The breakdown of minimum elite consensus has been compounded by the fight against terrorism. Museveni has astutely used this to continue positioning himself as a security president: needed by the west and trusted at home.

For most of the 1990s and early 2000s, insurgencies in the north, northeast and parts of the west of Uganda were the primary source of Museveni’s justification for holding onto power, ostensibly to deal with the insecurity. This security appeal had waned by the 2000s. But it was revived when Al-Shabaab attacked Kampala in July 2010.

The upshot is that the imperatives of security are used to criminalise otherwise legitimate political activities, which has resulted in tension and uncertainty during election time. In addition, opposition leaders are arrested too often. Since 2005 a review of media reports shows that Kizza Besigye – Museveni’s main challenger in the opposition – has been arrested more than 1,000 times.

It has also become routine that whenever Besigye’s allies plan rallies or other political events, their homes are cordoned off by the security forces to stop them from leaving.

All these developments underline the fact that the country is in crisis. It’s only by reaching a new national consensus and enacting rules of engagement that Uganda will detour off its current slippery slope.The Conversation

 

Moses Khisa, Assistant Professor of Political Science, North Carolina State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Health minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, is stuck with 20 bids from companies and individuals competing to secure government clearance to grow and export marijuana for medical purposes.

Senior officials in the Ministry of Health told Daily Monitor that they are stuck with the bids because of lack of regulations governing the undertaking. The ministry is also overwhelmed by the number of ganja planters, both local and foreign, inquiring about the application process and follow-ups.

"Marijuana growing without proper control measures can be dangerous to our youthful population... . already it is the second highest cause for the Butabika [mental rehabilitation] hospital admissions majority of whom are youth. We can't just accept growing [of marijuana]," the State minister for Health, Ms Sarah Opendi warned.

"Why are we having this huge influx of people to our country wanting to grow it here and not any other East African country? We already have laws prohibiting its production without clearance from the ministry, but this law is already being abused. People are growing marijuana under whose authority?" she added.

Dr Aceng, at the weekend, confirmed the scramble for cannabis growing in Uganda and revealed how the number of interested companies has shot up from 14 to 20. She said most of the companies are local owners seeking to tap into the $5b cannabis industry.

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 2015 allows cultivation, production and exportation of medical marijuana and mandates the minister to issue written consent for medical marijuana. However, Dr Aceng insists the applications will have to wait for the final decision of Cabinet.

Commenting on health benefits of marijuana, which is one of the terms of reference for the Cabinet sub-committee, Dr Aceng said: "It's true marijuana has medicinal properties but the medical properties are still under research... it has been proven it can be used in reducing pain in cancer patients but even then research is still ongoing... there is also research in areas of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia in cases of epilepsy; it's still undergoing research."

However, the absence of regulations to guide Dr Aceng on marijuana permits has also complicated matters to the extent that the Health minister and Cabinet do not know how to proceed. Some companies have also put pressure on Dr Aceng inquiring what's going on and accused her of creating a monopoly.

The government has already licensed Industrial Hemp (U) Ltd to grow and export medical marijuana. The company is currently working together with Pharma Limited, one of the biggest Israeli cannabis firm on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

They have invested $360m (about Shs1.3 trillion) and established marijuana farms in Hima, Kasese.

Sources told Daily Monitor that before Cabinet discussed the deals, Dr Aceng wanted to request Internal Security Organisation (ISO) and Internal Affairs ministry to conduct due diligence on some of the companies. But after consulting internally, the minister abandoned the move and ran to Cabinet. She reportedly feared a "risk" of having 20 companies growing cannabis in various parts of the country without collective responsibility.

 

Credit: All Africa & Daily Monitor Uganda

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.

Ugandan government is now at risk of losing its main state assets to China over unpaid huge increasing loans from Chinese government.
 
But according to Ugandan government, the growing debt is sustainable, and the country is not at risk of losing state assets to China, the country’s finance minister, Matia Kasaija.
 
News reported in December last year that Kenyan government risks losing the lucrative Mombasa port to China if the country fail to repay huge loans advanced by Chinese lenders, but both Chinese and Kenyan officials have dismissed that the port’s ownership is at risk.
 
Others think Chinese government are in some ways gangsters, taking over mines all over Africa, sending thousands of Chinese workers, destroy environment, bring the minerals such as copper, sink, gold, silver, diamonds etc home, and make deals with corrupt politicians to plunder the countries.
 
“The case is one of the examples of China’s ambitious use of loans and aid to gain influence around the world and of its willingness to play hardball to collect,” says the New York Times in December 12, 2017.
 
At a time in Somalia when local fishermen are struggling to compete with foreign vessels that are depleting fishing stocks, the government has granted 31 fishing licenses to China.
 
But Uganda’s auditor-general warned in a report released this month that public debt from June 2017 to 2018 had increased from $9.1 billion to $11.1 billion.
 
The report — without naming China — warned that conditions placed on major loans were a threat to Uganda’s sovereign assets.
 
It said that in some loans, Uganda had agreed to waive sovereignty over properties if it defaults on the debt — a possibility that Kasaija rejected.
 
“China taking over assets? … in Uganda, I have told you, as long as some of us are still in charge, unless there is really a catastrophe, and which I don’t see at all, that will make this economy going behind. So, … I’m not worried about China taking assets. They can do it elsewhere, I don’t know. But here, I don’t think it will come,” he said.
 
China is one of Uganda’s biggest country-lenders, with about $3 billion in development projects through state-owned banks.
 
In December 2017, the Sri Lankan government handed its Hambantota port to China for a lease period of 99 years after failing to show commitment in the payment of billions of dollars in loans.
 
Also in September 2018, News reported that China was taking over Zambia’s state power company and Kenneth Kaunda International Airport over unpaid debt rippled across Africa, despite government denials.
 
China’s Exim Bank has funded about 85 percent of two major Ugandan power projects — Karuma and Isimba dams. It also financed and built Kampala’s $476 million Entebbe Express Highway to the airport, which cuts driving time by more than half. China’s National Offshore Oil Corporation, France’s Total, and Britain’s Tullow Oil co-own Uganda’s western oil fields, set to be tapped by 2021.
 
Economist Fred Muhumuza says China’s foot in Uganda’s oil could be one way it decides to take back what is owed.
 
“They might determine the price, as part of recovering their loan,” he said. “By having a foot in there they will say fine, we are going to pay you for oil. But instead of giving you $60 a barrel, you owe us. We’ll give you $55. The $5 you are paying the old debt. But we are reaching a level where you don’t see this oil being an answer to the current debt problem.”
 

He becomes the fourth employee of the company to be deported in the last month.

The CEO of South African multinational telecommunications company MTN in Uganda, Wim Vanhelleput, was deported on Thursday evening, February 14.

He becomes the fourth employee of the company to be deported in the last month as the government piles pressure on MTN to list on the local bourse and renegotiates its operating licence after 20 years.

Authorities have not given clear reasons for the deportations.

Prior to markets opening in Johannesburg on Friday, February 15, MTN issued a statement saying it had not been notified of the grounds for the move.

The company’s group CEO, Rob Shuter, met with President Yoweri Museveni on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos in January. Not much was revealed about what they spoke about, but The East African quoted the president as having said: “It is important that you float shares on the local stock exchange to allow for local ownership now that the licence has been renewed.”

The newspaper also reports that the presidency issued a statement on January 23 stating that the dispute over the renewal of the licence had been resolved and MTN had agreed to “spread its ownership to more Ugandans through a share placement with the National Social Security Fund”. However, this statement was not available on the State House website to confirm it and matters have clearly not been resolved.

It appears Mr Museveni is taking a leaf out of Tanzanian President John Magufuli’s book by forcing international companies to list on the stock exchange and playing hardball with the renegotiation of agreements. However, the rhetoric around events in Uganda is distinct from what we have seen in Tanzania.

MTN has been characterised as a ‘security threat’ whereas in Tanzania multinationals are characterised as greedy companies that hinder development.

These different narratives speak to the sources of legitimacy for the leaders in each country – in Tanzania Mr Magufuli gets his legitimacy from being clean and bringing development, so his enemies must be greedy and hinder that aim.

In Uganda, Mr Museveni draws his legitimacy from having brought stability and security, so his enemies must want incitement to violence and instability.

In July last year, MTN’s data centre was raided, reportedly by intelligence services, an employee was taken and held for four hours and four of its servers were disconnected. MTN subsequently laid a case of illegal intrusion against those involved, but there has been no news of the case since.

In a letter on the incident, MTN wrote: “We are yet to determine the extent of interruption to our network activities and the financial impact. It is also possible that some data have been tempered with or illegally accessed and taken from the premise (sic). The intrusion into the data was properly captured by our closed-circuit television (CCTV cameras),” – so it seems they would have solid evidence to support their case.

Local newspaper The Observer reported that one of the recent deportees, Italian Elsa Mussolini (former general manager for mobile finance services), stated that she was ejected from the country for inciting violence and funding opposition member of Parliament (MP) Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine). The funding reportedly took place during the campaign against the proposed social media tax that the MP led.

There is clearly a lot going on between MTN and the Ugandan government: licence renewals, stock exchange listings, data centre raids, opposition politician funding, incitement to violence allegations, social media and mobile money taxes, and possibly access to data on citizens.

Aggressive moves against multinationals on the continent are not a new phenomenon – MTN has had its fair share of difficulties lately in Nigeria too.

Taking on international companies makes leaders look good, at least in the eyes of some local citizens, but we also may be seeing a more regional phenomenon with Mr Magufuli’s approach emboldening his neighbours.

The events do not bode well. With Mr Museveni facing mounting challenges to his over three-decade rule in the run-up to elections in 2021, we could see more erratic policies and fiery rhetoric over the next couple years.

 

By

CNBC Africa

  • Industrial users account for nearly 70 per cent of Uganda’s electricity consumption basket.

Uganda’s energy sector added to its energy generation surplus this year as new power stations went live.

Meanwhile user demand projections have increased but rising power tariffs have denied several people access to electricity, while transmission and distribution challenges mean power blackouts remain a key feature in many households. The country’s installed generation capacity is estimated at 960 megawatts while active generation capacity stands at 700 megawatts according to energy industry sources.

This scenario points to idle generation capacity suffered by the large hydro power plants and small thermal generation facilities.

In comparison, the country’s peak power demand levels have grossed 640 megawatts this year, a figure that translates into a modest surplus of 60MW on the national grid.

Demand pressure

Industrial users account for nearly 70 per cent of Uganda’s electricity consumption basket, distribution statistics show while new factories and industrial plants that are in the pipeline are expected to wipe out the surplus in less than five years, sources hinted.

This offers investors motivation for more energy projects.

“The small electricity surplus on the national grid is not sustainable because of pending demand pressures from new factories and production plants already in the pipeline. “These production facilities require around 14-20 megawatts per day and this is enough to wipe out this surplus,” Selestino Babungi, Umeme Ltd’s managing director said.

“Though Isimba and Karuma dams will be commissioned next year, they are likely to produce less than installed output capacity at the start, meaning that much of the of the electricity will be fully absorbed by new factories that will be going live in 2019. This leaves a sizeable future power demand gap that needs to be filled through additional investments in mini hydro stations,” Mr Babungi added.

“These plants help ease outage problems experienced across the national grid because they usually serve remote areas that are not catered for by the national grid. However, balancing the weight of power tariffs and efficiency demands in our operations is never easy,” he argued.

New firms

New factories commissioned this year include Mandela Millers Ltd with a daily power consumption rate of 14MW and Tiang Tang Ltd — a steel products manufacturer with daily power consumption of 20MW.

A new fertiliser, cement and glass production plant recently commissioned in Eastern Uganda requires 20MW daily while a new public water treatment plant under construction in Mukono District is to be commissioned in 2021 and will consume 20MW per day, according to Umeme records.

Global oil prices

Some seven power stations are still under construction and are scheduled for commissioning by close of 2020.

These are Siti III with a generation capacity of 16MW, Kyambura with 7.6MW, Sindila with 6.5MW, Ndugut with 5.9MW, Kikagati with 16MW and Waki with 4.8MW.

But relatively high electricity tariffs remain a headache for both households and businesses, particularly because of high capital expenditure incurred by investors and a direct peg that links power prices to changes in global oil prices, inflation rates and the exchange rate.

Umeme's concession

Persistent increases in electricity tariffs have piled significant pressure on government to terminate Umeme Ltd’s 20 year distribution concession agreement that expires in 2025, though it finally opted for renegotiation last week as opposed to an expensive, contract cancellation that would have cost the country roughly Ush500 billion ($134 million) in exit charges.

Retail consumer tariffs have steadily increased from Ush669 ($0.18) per unit in mid-2017 to Ush712 ($0.19) per unit in January 2018 and stood at Ush769 ($0.2) per unit at the beginning of October, according to ERA data.

“Government needs to fix the high electricity tariffs sooner in order to expand access to the electricity grid for poor, rural consumers.

“Most of them can hardly afford to spend Ush20,000($5) on prepaid electricity every month while middle income people also struggle with huge power bills,” Phillip Sendawula, chief finance officer at Exim Bank Uganda said.

“I spend around Ush60,000 ($16) per month on electricity for my domestic water heater, which is prohibitive for me. There is need to encourage rural people to embrace alternative sources of energy such as solar and biogas that are critical for tackling the problem of diminished firewood supplies around the country,” Mr Sendawula added.

Cyber hacking

Rising electricity tariffs have partly inspired cyber hacking schemes targeted at Umeme’s prepaid metering system.

A latest online advert posted in a local Facebook group revealed a strange, criminal offer; a hacker asking for $1 to tamper with one’s prepaid electricity meter and obtain more units for few shillings.

For instance, Ush3,000 ($0.8) would yield 15 units of power from a hacked meter compared with four units of electricity bought for the same amount at the current price after the first monthly purchase.

We were not able to authenticate these claims by the time of going to press.

“When the price reduces, more people are able to afford electricity. Lower electricity prices also mean cheaper manufactured products in the medium term.

“Since the refinancing of the Bujagali dam loan facilities, power demand levels among manufacturers have risen by an average of seven per cent due to the applied three per cent discount in the local industrial electricity tariff,” said Ziria Tibalwa Waako, ERA’s chief executive officer.

Under the refinancing deal arranged by the African Development Bank and its partners, the loan repayment period attached to $400 million worth of debt provided to Bujagali Energy Limited was extended from 2023 to 2032 in a move that eased debt repayment pressures faced by the project.

“As a result, industrial electricity tariffs charged against extra-large industries dropped to 5 US cents during the off peak period while smaller industrial producers are equally eligible for this incentive in the near future.

“Very large firms targeted in the first phase of the power tariff reduction exercise have seen their energy costs go down but spillover gains for consumers have not materialised because of the less regulated market that we operate in.

“The economy is still struggling, household spending is down and consumer demand is low. This has led to reduced production levels in local industries despite the tariff cut. As a result, my production capacity levels have dropped to about 49 per cent,” said Deo Kayemba, the CEO of East African Roofing Systems, a building materials manufacturer.

 

- The East African

The top four positions are occupied by Seychelles, Mauritius, South Africa and Botswana with passport rankings of 27, 44, 57 and 58 respectively.

The 2018 Passport Index has placed the Ugandan passport in the 11th position in Africa and 64th among passports of 198 nations of the world.

Uganda and Morocco share a passport power rank of 65, but are below East African neighbours Kenya and Tanzania, who lie in the eighth and ninth positions with respective passport ranked 62 and 63. The global passport power ranking is arrived at based on an assessment of the visa restrictions or visa-free score.

Neighbouring Kenya

Kenya allows nationals of 39 countries to visit it without a visa and nationals of 32 other countries can obtain visas on arrival. It is nationals of 127 other countries of the world that require visas to visit Kenya.

Nationals of 42 countries do not require visas to visit Tanzania and those from another 28 countries can get the visas on arrival, while nationals of 128 nations require visas to enter the country.

Uganda is not doing as well as its two neighbours as citizens of 130 countries require visas to enter the country. It only allows nationals of 35 countries to visit without visas and gives nationals of 33 countries visas on arrival.

Top positions
The top four positions are occupied by Seychelles, Mauritius, South African and Botswana with passport rankings of 27, 44, 57 and 58 respectively.

  • At 133, Seychelles has the highest number of countries whose nationals it allows to enter its borders without visas. It also gives nationals of 33 nations visas on arrival and requires nationals from only 62 countries of the world to have visas.
  • Mauritius, which is in second place requires nationals of 66 countries to have visas, but allows nationals of 99 countries to visit without visas and gives nationals of 33 countries visas on arrival.
  • South Africa, which is in third place, requires nationals from at least 100 countries to first get visas before visiting, but is visa-free for nationals of 63 countries and gives nationals of 35 countries visas on arrival.
  • Botswana makes it incumbent upon nationals from 122 nations to have visas before visiting it, but is visa free for nationals of 46 countries and gives nationals of 28 nations visas on arrival.

The global ranking

Same position. In the global ranking, Uganda is tied with Morocco, the Philippines, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan.

Number one. The global rankings are led by the United Arab Emirates, which has a passport power rank of 2. UAE is visa-free for nationals of 113 nations and gives nationals of 54 countries visas on arrival. Only nationals of 31 countries are required to have visas before entering UAE.

Second place. Tied in second place are Germany and Singapore, which have a passport power rank of 3.

Visa free. Singapore is visa-free for nationals of 127 countries and gives nationals of 39 countries visas on arrival. Citizens of only 32 nations are required to have visas before visiting Singapore.

Visa exception. Germany on the other hand is visa-free for nationals of 126 nations and gives nationals of 40 nations visas on arrival. It is only nationals of 32 countries that are required to have visas.

 

Credit: nationmedia.com

Reductions in malaria cases have stalled after several years of decline globally, according to the new World malaria report 2018

To get the reduction in malaria deaths and disease back on track, World Health Organisation, WHO and partners are joining a new country-led response, launched today, to scale up prevention and treatment, and increased investment, to protect vulnerable people from the deadly disease.

For the second consecutive year, the annual report produced by WHO reveals a plateauing in numbers of people affected by malaria: in 2017, there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria, compared to 217 million the year before. But in the years prior, the number of people contracting malaria globally had been steadily falling, from 239 million in 2010 to 214 million in 2015.

“Nobody should die from malaria. But the world faces a new reality: as progress stagnates, we are at risk of squandering years of toil, investment and success in reducing the number of people suffering from the disease,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

“We recognise we have to do something different – now. So today we are launching a country-focused and -led plan to take comprehensive action against malaria by making our work more effective where it counts most – at local level.”

Where malaria is hitting hardest

In 2017, approximately 70% of all malaria cases (151 million) and deaths (274 000) were concentrated in 11 countries: 10 in Africa (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania) and India. There were 3.5 million more malaria cases reported in these 10 African countries in 2017 compared to the previous year, while India, however, showed progress in reducing its disease burden.

Despite marginal increases in recent years in the distribution and use of insecticide-treated bed nets in sub-Saharan Africa – the primary tool for preventing malaria – the report highlights major coverage gaps. In 2017, an estimated half of at-risk people in Africa did not sleep under a treated net. Also, fewer homes are being protected by indoor residual spraying than before, and access to preventive therapies that protect pregnant women and children from malaria remains too low.

High impact response needed

In line with WHO’s strategic vision to scale up activities to protect people’s health, the new country-driven “High burden to high impact” response plan has been launched to support nations with most malaria cases and deaths. The response follows a call made by Dr Tedros at the World Health Assembly in May 2018 for an aggressive new approach to jump-start progress against malaria. It is based on four pillars:

  • Galvanizing national and global political attention to reduce malaria deaths;
  • Driving impact through the strategic use of information;
  • Establishing best global guidance, policies and strategies suitable for all malaria endemic countries; and
  • Implementing a coordinated country response.

Catalyzed by WHO and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, “High burden to high impact” builds on the principle that no one should die from a disease that can be easily prevented and diagnosed, and that is entirely curable with available treatments.

“There is no standing still with malaria. The latest World malaria report shows that further progress is not inevitable and that business as usual is no longer an option,” said Dr Kesete Admasu, CEO of the RBM Partnership. “The new country-led response will jumpstart aggressive new malaria control efforts in the highest burden countries and will be crucial to get back on track with fighting one of the most pressing health challenges we face.”

Targets set by the WHO Global technical strategy for malaria 2016–2030 to reduce malaria case incidence and death rates by at least 40% by 2020 are not on track to being met.

Pockets of progress

The report highlights some positive progress. The number of countries nearing elimination continues to grow (46 in 2017 compared to 37 in 2010). Meanwhile in China and El Salvador, where malaria had long been endemic, no local transmission of malaria was reported in 2017, proof that intensive, country-led control efforts can succeed in reducing the risk people face from the disease.

In 2018, WHO certified Paraguay as malaria free, the first country in the Americas to receive this status in 45 years. Three other countries – Algeria, Argentina and Uzbekistan – have requested official malaria-free certification from WHO.

India – a country that represents 4% of the global malaria burden – recorded a 24% reduction in cases in 2017 compared to 2016. Also in Rwanda, 436 000 fewer cases were recorded in 2017 compared to 2016. Ethiopia and Pakistan both reported marked decreases of more than
240 000 in the same period.

“When countries prioritize action on malaria, we see the results in lives saved and cases reduced,” says Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “WHO and global malaria control partners will continue striving to help governments, especially those with the highest burden, scale up the response to malaria.”

Domestic financing is key

As reductions in malaria cases and deaths slow, funding for the global response has also shown a levelling off, with US$ 3.1 billion made available for control and elimination programmes in 2017 including US$ 900 million (28%) from governments of malaria endemic countries.  The United States of America remains the largest single international donor, contributing US$ 1.2 billion (39%) in 2017.

To meet the 2030 targets of the global malaria strategy, malaria investments should reach at least US$6.6 billion annually by 2020 – more than double the amount available today.

 

Source: NAN

Uganda Government said it expects to finalise a $2.2 billion loan deal with China’s Exim bank by the end of the year to pay for part of a railway line to connect Kenya’s Mombasa seaport with Kampala.

Uganda has also reached an agreement with Kenya where the two countries have committed to work on the project simultaneously with the aim of completing it by 2022.

The new so-called standard gauge railway (SGR) line will replace an existing old line to help to make shipments faster and cheaper.

China is helping to fund the project in both countries. As in other areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, China has become a major investor in Uganda. It has mostly put money into roads, hydro power dams, fibre optic cable networks and other infrastructure, usually offering cheap loans.

Uganda’s Works and Transport Minister Monica Azuba Ntege told a news conference in Kampala negotiations with Exim bank were in “advanced stages.”

“Their team has already been here but there are some other things that they wanted and we have already supplied them. So I really believe that any time this year they will be calling on us to sign that agreement.” she said.

A Uganda team had held discussions with Exim Bank while in China for the China-Africa forum in September, she said.

On the deal with Kenya, she said the “harmonisation” of the project between the governments of Uganda and Kenya had been undertaken. “The plan is for the two countries to have completed their respective (rail) sections ... by June 2022.”

In the long term, there are plans to extend the line deeper into the region’s hinterland to include lines to South Sudan, eastern Congo and Rwanda.

Uganda is seeking $2.2 billion from Exim Bank to fund its section of the project, about 273 kilometres from Kampala to Malaba on the border with Kenya.

China’s China Harbour and Engineering Company Ltd has been awarded the contract.

The new railway will replace a decrepit, narrow-gauge railway line built about a century ago by the British to ship copper from mines in western Uganda and other commodities from their East African colonies.

 

- Reuters

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