Niger opposition leader Mahamane Ousmane has claimed that he narrowly won the country’s presidential election, as fresh violence erupted a day after official results gave victory to his rival by a wide margin.
“The compilation of result which we have in our possession through our representatives in the various polling stations give us victory with 50.3 percent of the vote,” Ousmane said on Wednesday, according to a video of a speech he made in the southeastern town of Zinder.
According to provisional results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), former interior minister Mohamed Bazoum picked up 55.75 percent of the vote in Sunday’s runoff and Ousmane 44.25 percent.
Police clashed with Ousmane supporters in the capital, Niamey, after CENI’s announcement on Tuesday, AFP news agency reported.
Sources in the city said at least one police station and shops owned by people perceived as being close to the government had been pillaged.
In Dosso, 100km (62 miles) south of Niamey, the offices of a pro-government party were damaged by fire, residents said.
Further violence erupted on Wednesday morning in Niamey’s central market area. Protesters threw stones and police responded with tear gas, and at least one petrol station was attacked, according to AFP.
In the afternoon, protesters confronted security forces in the southwestern town of Kollo, residents said.
Internet access was severely reduced on Wednesday in Niamey and Zinder.
Also on Wednesday, Moumouni Boureima, a former chief of staff of the armed forces, was arrested at his home, a security source said. He was accused of leading the disturbances after the election result was announced, the source told AFP.
Boureima is reportedly close to Hama Amadou, the man who had been expected to be the most formidable opposition candidate in the election. But Amadou was banned from running because of a conviction for baby trafficking – a charge he says was politically motivated – and threw his support behind Ousmane.
The elections have been presented as the first democratic transition in the history of the coup-prone state. President Mahamadou Issoufou is voluntarily stepping down after two five-year terms.
Bazoum, co-founder with Issoufou of the ruling PNDS party, picked up just over 39 percent of the vote in the first round on December 27. Ousmane won just under 17 percent.
In 1993, Ousmane became Niger’s first democratically elected president, only to be toppled in a coup three years later.
In his speech, Ousmane insisted “fraud” had been committed “pretty much everywhere in all of Niger’s regions”.
“You have expressed your clear willingness to break with poor government, you have expressed your desire for change, for an emerging Niger,” Ousmane said, addressing Nigeriens.
“This desire for change has been expressed by your voting massively in my favour,” he said.
In the constituency of Timia in the Agadez region, “a turnout of 103 percent was recorded, with a score of 99 percent in favour of the ruling party’s candidate,” he claimed.
“In these areas, our delegates were forced at gunpoint to sign certifications (of the vote) without any possibility of adding remarks,” he said.
CENI has not yet commented on the allegations of irregularities. An observer mission from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said the vote was held “under free, fair, credible and transparent conditions”.
It was marred, however, by two attacks that killed eight people in two regions where armed groups are active.
Seven of the victims were election workers in the western Tillaberi region, near the border with Mali, whose vehicle struck a landmine as they headed to the polls.
Bazoum, speaking at his party’s headquarters on Tuesday, said he would be “the president of all Nigeriens” and reached out to Ousmane.
“Knowing his wisdom, I would like to count on him,” Bazoum said.
“If the opposition has doubts [about the election], it should be able to have the evidence” to put to the Constitutional Court, which certifies the results, he said.
The leaders of Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Chad have congratulated Bazoum on his win.
The Francophonie organisation of French-speaking countries, meanwhile, condemned the post-election violence.
Niger is the world’s poorest nation according to the United Nations’ development rankings for 189 countries. It is also struggling with armed campaigns that have spilled over from Mali in the west and Nigeria in the southeast. Hundreds of lives have been lost and an estimated 460,000 people have fled their homes.
Source: Al Jazeera
Niger's ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum took an early lead in the second round of the West African nation's presidential election, data released by the electoral commission showed on Monday.
Provisional results from 38 out of 266 constituencies showed that Bazoum was in a comfortable lead, winning a 54.1% share of votes counted so far against his main challenger and former president Mahamane Ousmane, according to Niger's electoral commission.
Nigeriens went to the polls on Sunday in the second round of the country's presidential election. The runoff between the two political heavyweights is expected tol pave the way for Niger'sfirst democratic transition of power since independence from France more than six decades ago.
Ousmane, who took nearly 17% of the vote in the first round, can count on the support of a coalition of 18 opposition parties as well as Hama Amadou, previously thought to be the most formidable candidate against Bazoum. But Amadou was banned from running because of a conviction for baby trafficking which he has slammed as politically motivated.
Several dead in vehicle blast
As voting came to an end, at least seven people were killed and three more were seriously injured when a vehicle belonging to the electoral commission hit a landmine.
The blast took place in the rural commune of Dargol in Tillabery region, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Niger's capital Niamey in the so-called tri-border region where Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso converge.
"This is a painful moment. It is a great shock for us, for us all," said Interior Minister Alkache Alhada.
Addine Agalass, an advisor to the governor of Tillabery, told The Associated Press by phone, "It's unclear if it was intended to target the electoral commission officials or if it was related to the election."
A new dawn for Niger
The vote was called after outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou announced he was voluntarily stepping down after two five-year terms.
"I'm proud to be the first democratically elected president in our history to be able to pass the baton to another democratically elected president," said Issoufou as he voted in Niamey.
Thousands of soldiers were deployed, to ensure a peaceful transfer of power. Election results are expected in several days.
The two candidates vying to replace Issoufou are political stalwarts in the West African nation, which is one of the poorest in the world.
Mohamed Bazoum, Issoufou's right-hand, is widely seen as the favorite after winning 39.3% of the vote in the first round. He has vowed to continue Issoufou's policies, with a focus on security and revamping the economy. He has the backing of the candidates who came third and fourth in the first round.
Mahamane Ousmane, was Niger's first democratically elected president in 1993 until he was toppled in a coup three years later. He won 17% of the votes in the first round and has the endorsement of about a dozen smaller parties and candidates. He has vowed to implement change and tackle corruption.
Ousmane also expressed concerns about electoral fraud and stressed that Nigeriens are "no longer willing to tolerate rigged elections."
"The suffrage of the citizens must be respected," Ousmane told reporters after he voted in the city of Zinder. "If citizens ever find out that these elections have been rigged again, I fear that the situation will be difficult to manage," he added.
Relative 'calm' in southeast Niger
Magagi Ganda Aissa, a Niamey-based civil society member, said she was "not aware" of any incidents of voting fraud in Niger's largest city, "There have been reports that armed people have arrived and seized ballot boxes in the interior of the country," she added.
According to DW correspondent Marah Mahamadou, election day Diffa in the southeast, along the border with Nigeria , was calm.
"We must admit that the vote went very calmly. At the beginning, there was a little fear, but nothing was reported. People everywhere went out to vote," she said.
What challenges do they face?
The Sahel nation has a population of 24 million and struggles with poverty, recurring drought, floods and two festering insurgencies. Militants linked to al-Qaida and the "Islamic State" (IS) armed group have carried out a series of attacks near Niger's western border with Mali and Burkina Faso, while Boko Haram has killed hundreds of people along the southeastern border with Nigeria.
One of Niger's few exports, uranium, has been hit by a drop in price in recent years, and the coronavirus pandemic has weighed on Niger's economy.
Political analyst Elhadj Idi Abou, based in Niamey, said the result could go either way and that turnout was expected to be high.
"For me, there is no favorite because this ballot is the most open and the outcome does not depend on alliances but on the citizens. Both candidates have the same chances," he told the Reuters news agency.
Niger is the poorest nation in the world, according to the United Nations' development rankings for 189 natons. In the country with a population of roughly 23 million and the highest birth rate in the world, 7.4 million are eligible to vote.
(AP, AFP, Reuters)
Voters in Niger will head to the polls today, Sunday to choose the country’s next president, in a runoff vote that pits outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou’s chosen successor against the country’s first democratically elected president.
Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism, had secured 39.3 percent of votes in the first round of voting on December 27, well ahead of his closest rival, Mahamane Ousmane, at 16.9 percent.
Hailing from Niger’s tiny ethnic Arab minority community, 61-year-old Bazoum held key ministries in Issoufou’s cabinet and is widely seen as the favourite against Ousmane. The 71-year-old in 1993 won the West African country’s first multiparty elections but was overthrown three years later in a coup and has since failed to regain the presidency.
Issoufou’s decision not to run for a third term – in line with the country’s constitution – has been greeted by Niger’s international partners as a sign of democratic openness. The years preceding the poll, however, have been marked by growing insecurity along Niger’s borders, major corruption scandals and repressive measures against civil society members.
Focus on security crisis
The vote will complete Niger’s three-month-long electoral cycle that kicked off in early December with local elections and is also expected to usher in the country’s first peaceful transition of power between freely elected leaders.
Supported by large multi-party coalitions, both candidates launched their campaigning in the border region of Tillaberi, a hotspot of the worsening conflict plaguing the western portion of the Sahel for much of the past decade – and in recent years, increasingly hitting Niger as well.
Attacks by armed groups linked to ISIL (ISIS) and al-Qaeda and counterterrorism operations supported by Western forces have turned the area near Niger’s border with Mali and Burkina Faso into a regular battleground, forcing more than 90,000 people to leave their homes in the past three years, according to the United Nations.
At least 621 people were killed in the region in the first 11 months of 2020, an increase of more than 40 percent compared with the previous year, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.
“How can we herd our cattle, go fishing, bring our kids to school, trade goods, see a doctor, if there’s no security?” Ousmane asked at the end of his coalition’s rally in Tillaberi on February 6, while also decrying what he deemed as the ineffective presence of Western armies.
Two days later, at another rally in front of a different crowd, Bazoum replied by promising he will do “everything in my power, to restore security” in Tillaberi, referencing the expected arrival of more than 1,000 Chadian troops to assist a regional military force fighting the armed groups and the deployment of hundreds of newly recruited and trained agents from the Garde Nationale, an internal security force.
As a former minister of interior, from 2016 to 2020, “Bazoum knows very well the country’s security apparatus, and this played a role in his designation as a natural heir to Mahmadou Issoufou,” explained Andrew Lebovich, a research fellow at the Washington-based European Council on Foreign Relations.
But although “Niger has avoided the security breakdown of some of its neighbours, namely Mali and Burkina Faso”, he added, “such persistent insecurity represents a risk for stability in the medium term”.
Like many other observers, Lebovich also pointed to the “consistent allegations over the embezzlement of public funds in military spending in the past years”.
According to an internal audit of the Ministry of Defence, partially leaked to journalists in February 2020, at least $137m has been lost between 2014 and 2019 as part of an enormous corruption scheme, involving high-ranking state agents and powerful middlemen who overpriced military contracts.
None of the people presumably involved has faced any legal consequence, and critics argue that Bazoum’s re-election would prolong such a climate of impunity.
Infrastructure, economic growth promises
Over the past five years, Niger has been turned into something of a global military hub, hosting army bases with troops from France, the United States, Italy, Belgium, Germany and recently establishing defence agreements with Russia and Turkey.
For many Nigeriens, however, insecurity is not necessarily the most pressing matter – poverty, and basic needs, are.
“The heartland of the country, the rural zones, have been completely neglected during the regime of Issoufou, and this is where 80 percent of Nigeriens live, often in a state of misery – a deep injustice which is the real prelude to insecurity,” said Moussa Tchangari, the secretary-general of civil society group Alternative Espaces Citoyens.
Niger’s record gross domestic product (GDP) growth, hitting about six percent in recent years, “benefitted only a very small part of the population, an urban middle class which is the target of Bazoum’s campaign”, he said.
Such growth has been largely driven by big infrastructure projects such as a new international airport in the capital, Niamey, shining five-star hotels, bridges on the Niger River, conference centres and hospitals.
Largely funded through foreign direct investment by Turkey, China and India, these facilities embody the new role of Niger’s international partners, one that might overshadow the traditional position of former colonial ruler, France, and of other European countries, that recently looked at Niger as an ally to reduce north-bound migration.
While the “Coalition Bazoum” election programme has promised to keep investing in similar infrastructure projects, including highways, regional routes and oil extraction plants, Ousmane’s “Seven E” manifesto focused more on access to water, education and support to farmers, in an attempt to mobilise rural voters.
Seven and a half million people, out of a population of 23 million, are eligible to vote on Sunday, with results expected in the coming days.
Voting projections seem to be in favour of Bazoum, who has the backing of 95 political parties in the second round. Ousmane, on the other hand, will count on the support of 17 political groups.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc has deployed an observation mission, while a local grassroots pro-democracy movement called Tournons la Page [translation: Let’s turn the Page] plans to mobilise some 500 observers around the country and a phone line to report potential incidents of fraud.
Maikoul Zodi, the group’s secretary, said the first round of voting was marked “by hate speech, vote-buying and irregularities, including the malfunctioning of many poll stations in areas targeted by jihadists”.
From 2018 onwards, Zodi and fellow activists spent months in jail following their mobilisation against what he calls “unpopular measures” taken by the government, from new taxes to impunity in cases of alleged corruption.
“In the past years, we’ve seen insecurity, corruption and a growing repression of dissent,” said Zodi. “Let’s leave all this behind.”
SOURCE : AL JAZEERA
Despite the twin problems – poverty and insecurity – that have faced Niger in the past few decades, President Mahamadou Issoufou successfully completed his two-term tenure. In December 2020, the country held the first election to transfer power from one civilian regime to another since independence from France in 1960.
When President Issoufou assumed power in 2011 (a year after a coup d’etat which led to the removal of Mamadou Tandja), the country was overwhelmed by widespread poverty and insecurity. Persistent agitations came from the Tuareg ethnic groups, stemming from perceived marginalisation and oppression. Issoufou’s first step towards stabilising the country was to appoint Brigi Rafini, a Tuareg leader from Agadez, as prime minister.
Many rebel leaders were appeased with political positions, a gesture which helped stabilise the country and reduce calls for secession. Another boost to the country’s democracy was Issoufou’s decision not to seek a third term but instead organise a free and fair election.
The increase in the number of African incumbent presidents extending or ignoring term limits has been described as reversing democracy.
In addition to achieving relative political stability and entrenching democracy, Niger has grown its GDP during Issoufou’s tenure. GDP grew from $8.7 billion to $12.9 billion between 2011 and 2019, and by 6.3% in 2019. This was achieved through investment in agriculture, which represents about 40% of GDP, as well as the prevention of internal conflicts.
One of the key issues which plagued Niger was trafficking (weapons, humans and drugs). Although this still constitutes a menace, Niger has benefited financially from the European Union in its quest to reduce trafficking. It has been awarded over $840 million since 2011 to help curb the flow of migrants from Africa to Europe through the Sahara. This has helped the country combat trafficking through upgrading security infrastructure.
Landlocked nation surrounded by problematic countries
But despite the efforts of the Nigerien government to attain political stability, economic growth and security, conflict in neighbouring countries has hindered development. Islamist or terrorist groups operate in six of the seven countries that surround Niger (Algeria, Libya, Chad, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Mali). Benin is the exception.
Al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb – which was formed after the Algerian civil war in the late 1990s – operates along the northern border of Niger with Algeria. The war in Libya also polarised parts of the country’s north-eastern border where Islamic State operates. Boko Haram, formed in Nigeria, operates along Niger’s south-eastern border between Chad and Nigeria. The group claimed responsibility for the massacre of 28 civilians in the town of Toumour in December 2020.
Since 2018, the western parts of the country have also witnessed sporadic attacks orchestrated by Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. This group is an affiliate of Islamic State which was formed in Mali but operates in Burkina Faso and along the border with Niger. As the results of the presidential election were being released, terrorists attacked two villages, killing over 100 people.
Data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project reveal that insurgent activities have increased in Niger in the past few years. A total of 167 conflict related events resulting in 506 fatalities were recorded in 2018. The numbers grew to 476 conflict related events resulting in 1046 fatalities in 2020. Most events happened around the borders of the country. These data reveal the impact of insecurity on the stability of Niger.
The elections and challenges ahead
Although 30 candidates contested the presidential elections, there are believed to be two front runners. Mohamed Bazoum, the former head of Niger’s interior and foreign ministries, is one. The other is Mahamane Ousmane, Niger’s fourth president, who held office between 1993 and 1996 before being removed in a military coup. Since no candidate was able to garner 50% of the votes in the first round of elections (Bazoum got 39.33% and Ousmane got 17%), runoff elections have been scheduled for February 2021.
The three key issues which have dominated the presidential campaigns are insecurity, poverty and corruption. Despite the progress recorded by the incumbent president in the past nine years, the World Bank states that poverty remains high: 41.4% of the population lived in extreme poverty in 2019.
Since the runoff elections will be between two popular figures in the country, intense political calculations are expected.
One key issue which is likely to be prominent in the build up to the runoff election is the ability of the candidates to sustain the balance of power. This has been essential in keeping Niger relatively stable since 2011.
While the prospect of a peaceful democratic transition in Niger is welcome in the country and across the region, the eventual winner faces an uphill task to surmount the twin problems of insecurity and poverty.
Niger holds presidential elections on December 27, which could see the country's first democratic transition of power since independence. But the new president faces problems from insecurity to corruption and poverty.
Around 7.4 million Nigeriens will cast their vote in presidential and legislative elections on Sunday, December 27.
Unlike some of his counterparts in neighboring countries, incumbent Mahamadou Issoufou, who has already served for two terms, isn't standing for reelection.
He thus paves the way for a peaceful transition of power between two elected presidents, a first for the West African country, which has seen four coups since achieving independence from France in 1960.
Despite ongoing security problems along Niger's borders, experts don't think the election will be seriously disrupted.
"There are jihadist groups on the border with Nigeria and on the border between Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. They are making some incursions from time to time but these are very localized attacks," said Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim, a consulting analyst for the Sahel at the International Crisis Group.
'Climate of mistrust'
But political dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition is still deadlocked.
In November, the Constitutional Court declared the main opposition candidate Hama Amadou "ineligible" to run in Sunday's election.
Although the court didn't give a specific reason, it is assumed Amadou's candidacy was rejected because of a one-year jail sentence he received in 2017 for his links to a network trafficking infants from Nigeria.
Niger's electoral code bars citizens convicted of crimes with prison sentences of one year or more from running for president.
Amadou, a former prime minister, maintains his innocence, saying the charges against him were politically motivated.
Just a week later, the same court dismissed doubts around the nationality of Mohamed Bazoum, a protege of President Issoufou and the candidate for the ruling Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS). Under Niger's constitution, only those with Nigerien nationality are eligible for the presidential office.
A pre-electoral mission conducted by the African Union and ECOWAS in Niger at the beginning of December noted "the persistence of a climate of mistrust between the main actors in [Niger's] electoral process." It called for a dialogue between stakeholders, something which is now unlikely to happen before the polls.
Progress with Bazoum
A total of 30 candidates are running in Sunday's election. Bazoum, a political veteran, is the clear favorite. The 60-year-old held the position of minister of the interior for the last four years and is a staunch ally of Issoufou.
The PNDS is hoping its popularity will push Bazoum over the 50% mark in the first round, thereby avoiding a run-off. This would also be a first in the country's electoral history.
Africa expert Paul Melly from Chatham House, a London-based think tank, believes the PNDS has rightly won popularity, especially in rural areas.
"The government has really treated food security and village development as a big political priority over the last ten years. Many villages in parts of Niger that aren't affected by insecurity are benefiting from the sustained effort to tackle basic development problems," Melly told DW.
That could work in Bazoum's favor considering Niger is a predominantly rural country, which was regularly ravaged by famine up until recently, he said.
Niger is one of the poorest country's in the world. According to the World Bank, despite some real progress, the poverty rate remains very high at 41.4%, affecting more than 9.5 million people.
Bazoum has turned his attention to Niger's pressing demographic problems, seen as one cause of poverty. The predominantly Islamic country has one of the highest global fertility rates, with an average of seven children being born to every woman.
"Bazoum is stressing the case for more education for girls. But he's tying that to the question of family size in a way that is quite brave politically," Melly said.
Human rights abuses
The government's human rights record stagnated, however, while Bazoum was interior minister.
"It is clear that the government has abused power in terms of reducing people's freedoms and liberties and arresting activists just for demonstrating," said Sahel expert Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim.
There are also reports of military executions of civilians, people who disappear and all manner of other abuses perpetrated by the state.
This doesn't mean that Niger is rejecting a multi-party political model, Paul Melly believes.
"I think there's a sort of reflex in the Nigerien system. Whether it's a reflection of the fact that the army in Niger has always been a pretty powerful institution and that shapes mindsets is hard to tell," he said.
Corruption as another problem facing the country despite what Melly called "serious efforts" to tackle it.
Help from the international community
Donors are bound to keep up discreet pressure on the next government to remedy these ills.
The administration of outgoing President Issoufo has benefited from significant aid by the West, intent on fighting jihadism in the Sahel and stopping West African migrants using Niger to transit to Europe.
The Nigerien budget has seen a "staggering increase" said Ibrahim from the Crisis Group, pointing out that this, together with military aid, has helped stabilize the country.
The new government doesn't need to fear a loss of interest by the international community.
"I think the position of Niger now gives it a lot of say in the way that the region is run," said Ibrahim, adding that Niger serves as a barrier that prevents many insurgent groups in the Sahel from merging.
"This is like a dam. If the dam breaks up, then the flood will inundate the entire area," Ibrahim said.
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.”
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.
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:
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.
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.”
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.
The federal government of Nigeria said it has recovered the sum of $64.630, 065 billion from Niger and Benin republic as part payment for electricity supply to the two nieghbouring countries.
Minister of Works, Energy and Housing Babatunde Fashola (SAN) made this known at the 21st monthly power stakeholders meeting in Asaba Monday.
Addressing heads of DISCOS across the country in the power sector, the minister said generation has hit 7,000mw due to the stable peace in the gas producing area of Niger Delta region. According to the minister, “for the first time in the history of power sector, hydro and gas combined together to improve electricity needs of the country.
“This is a fair balance and now that the waters are going down it is also the time for us to prove our mettle by stabilizing upward, the power being generated. “We have also been able to recover $64.630, 065 billion from Niger and Benin republic as part payment for electricity supply to the two nieghbouring countries,” the minister added.
Speaking further, Fashola tasked Nigerian lawmakers on the need to come up with legislation prohibiting encroachment on the right of way of power lines, vandalization of electricity installations and another that will support collection of bills among others.
The minister appealed to electricity consumers to pay their bills regularly without which DISCOs would find it difficult to provide services, adding that the greatest challenges facing consumers were estimated billings and insufficiency in mater which he said were being addressed by Nigeria Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC).
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