Saturday, 29 March 2014

Putin seeks diplomatic solution to Ukraine crisis


Russia's President Vladimir Putin meets the newly promoted top officers from various branches of the Russian armed forces at the Kremlin in Moscow, on March 28, 2014.

KIEV, Saturday
Russian President Vladimir Putin called his American counterpart Barack Obama Friday to discuss a US proposal for a diplomatic end to the Ukraine crisis while insisting to the United Nations that Moscow had "no intention" of further military action.
The White House said Putin phoned Obama following a bid presented to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by US Secretary of State John Kerry earlier this week.
"President Obama suggested that Russia put a concrete response in writing," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Obama and Putin had agreed that Kerry and Lavrov would meet to "discuss next steps."
The details of the US initiative were not disclosed, but a White House statement said Obama had reiterated his determination to seek a diplomatic solution.
"President Obama made clear that this remains possible only if Russia pulls back its troops and does not take any steps to further violate Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty," it said.
A senior administration official later noted that previous discussions about a possible solution had addressed issues such as the deployment of international monitors, the pull back of Russian forces and direct a Russia-Ukraine dialogue.
Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea has redrawn the map of Europe and reopened the Cold War's East-West split.
The diplomatic standoff has forced NATO to reinforce positions along Russia's frontier in a bid to calm ex-Soviet satellite nations about the Kremlin's expansionist mood.
- Direct involvement -
Putin confirmed for the first time Friday that his forces were directly involved in Crimea -- the initial step of what the new pro-Western leaders in Kiev fear is a plan to annex an even greater part of Ukraine.
However, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Putin had assured him Russia was not planning further military action in the region.
Ban said Putin told him "he had no intention to make any military move."
He did, however, "express his concern about some extreme radical elements and any such movement along the border lines," according to the UN chief.
Obama had told US broadcaster CBS earlier there was clear evidence of a Russian troop buildup on the Ukrainian border.
A top security official in Kiev this week estimated there were now 100,000 Russian soldiers positioned around Ukraine -- a figure neither confirmed nor denied by Moscow.
Obama said the Russian military buildup "may simply be an effort to intimidate Ukraine or it may be that they have got additional plans."
Putin has taken quick steps to annex Crimea -- a move declared illegitimate by a non-binding UN General Assembly referendum on Thursday that highlighted Russia's growing isolation on the global stage.
The head of the FSB (ex-KGB) security service added to the nationalist fervour by reporting to Putin about his decision to fight back against "a growing foreign threat" to Russia by deploying "offensive counterintelligence and reconnaissance measures" against the West.
- Soaring popularity -
The Kremlin chief -- more popular at home now than at any point since his 2012 election to a third term -- approved of the decision in nationally televised news footage that also showed him congratulating the troops involved in the Crimea swoop.
"The recent events in Crimea... demonstrated the new capacities of our armed forces," Putin said.
The seemingly offhand remark carried great weight because Putin had previously insisted that only "local self-defence forces" were involved in the rapid succession of raids on Ukraine's army and naval installations.
The interim leaders in Kiev have been trying to pull Ukraine out of its worst post-Soviet crisis by securing a Western economic rescue package and setting the stage for snap polls on May 25 that could unite the culturally splintered nation behind one democratically elected leader.
They managed the first task on Thursday by winning an International Monetary Fund-backed pledge of $27 billion in international aid over the next two years.
The race to succeed ousted president Viktor Yanukovych meanwhile heated up with the entry of his arch-rival Yulia Tymoshenko into a crowded field of contenders ready to tighten Kiev's embrace of the West.
Tymoshenko will have ground to make up. An opinion poll published by four respected Ukrainian research firms this week put her in third place with about eight percent of the prospective vote.
Chocolate baron Petro Poroshenko -- the only prominent Ukrainian tycoon to join protesters at the Kiev barricades -- ranked first with the backing of almost a quarter of the respondents.
Former heavyweight boxing champion turned opposition leader Vitali Klitschko was second with almost nine percent.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Tullow registers Shs171b loss


Tullow Uganda head of corporate affairs Conrad Nkutu (R) introduces general manager Jimmy Mugerwa (L), Total Uganda general manager Loic Laurandel, (2nd L)and CNOOC Uganda Ltd president Xiao Zongwei after a press briefing last month.

Kampala.
Tullow Oil’s profit after tax declined by 68 per cent from $666 million (Shs1.7 trillion) last year to $216m (Shs553 billion) this year, the latest company annual financial report released this week reveals.
As a result, basic earnings per share decreased by 73 per cent to 18.6 cents down from 68.8 cents in 2012.
According to the company chairman Mr Simon Thompson’s report to the shareholders, the loss was due to higher exploration write-offs and lower portfolio management profits.
According to the report, the Uganda business contributed to the profit slump by registering a $67 million (Shs171 billion) in exploration “write-offs” in respect of its offshore Ngassa discoveries.
The loss is part of a $280 million (Shs717 billion) write-off brought about as a result of “license relinquishments and changes to future work programmes.”
The other write-offs in the same category include Kenya’s $79 million (Shs202billion) due to the relinquishment of Block 10A and the UK $30 million (Shs76 billion) due to the relinquishment of the Cameron discovery.
No returns registered
Relinquishment of a block means that the company drilled the area but failed to hit commercially viable hydrocarbons.
Daily Monitor couldn’t verify the number of unsuccessful wells Tullow drilled in Ngassa.
By press time, the company’s corporate affairs manager had not responded to email inquiries.
According to Investopedia, an online investment dictionary, a write-off is a reduction in the value of an asset or earnings by the amount of an expense or loss.
Companies are able to write off certain expenses that are required to run the business, or have been incurred in the operation of the business and detract from retained revenues.
Transparency disclosure
Tullow performance releases also included revelations of all its payments to foreign governments on a project by project basis. This is the first time an oil company has ever done this.
The disclosures show the taxes, royalties, license fees and other public revenues generated by the company’s operations across 21 countries – 14 of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa – for the years 2012 and 2013.
According to the report, Uganda was given income taxes amounting to $4.1m (shs10.6billion), 136m less of last year’s $141m (shs361.3bilion).
Uganda received another $11,000(shs28 million) in license fees last year.
At the moment it is not possible to track payments into the Ugandan budget because they only appear as one lump sum figure for all companies and all payments. However, the Public Finance Management Bill currently before Parliament will, if passed in its current form, make it possible to disaggregate oil monies from the URA tax bandwagon.
The Bill seeks to create a petroleum fund where all oil monies will have to be deposited.

Tullow’s disclosure comes at a time Uganda government is being pushed to join the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative so that it is compelled to voluntarily make public monies it gets from the oil companies.
Global witness’s researcher George Boden hopes that Tullow’s transparency move will help create the demand for the same transparency on the part of governments so that citizens can ‘follow the money’ into government accounts.
Global Witness is an international non-government organisation established in 1993 that works to break the links between natural resource exploitation, conflict, poverty, corruption and Human rights worldwide.
According to a statement the NGO released, Tullow’s voluntary disclosures were released in advance of a new European Union law, due to come into force in the UK in 2015.
The law will require EU oil, mining and logging companies to publish their payments to governments on a project-by-project basis.
“Tullow’s disclosure reflects the emergence of a new global reporting standard for natural resource payments,” the statement reads.
It adds that the disclosures “will enable citizens in economically poor but resource-rich regions to monitor public revenues worth hundreds of billions of dollars and hold governments to account for how the money is used.
Tullow came to Uganda after buying off Heritage oil’s interests and it discovered commercial quantities of oil in 2006. It later, in 2011, farmed down to Total and China National Offshore Oil Company.
However, since then, there has been a slow movement in the company’s progress in Uganda especially as regard to acquiring a production license.
Tullow says the delay has enabled it to focus on Kenya.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Cane factory worker wins Sh5m mobile banking prize


Mr Paul Alfayo Wawire, the winner of Sh5 million M-Shwari promotion, arrives at the award ceremony at Safaricom House on Wednesday.
Paul Alfayo Wawire, who earns a living cutting and loading cane in Kakamega on Wednesday received what is arguably the sweetest news in his life after he won Sh5 million in a promotion.
Alfayo, 21, was having a snooze in the afternoon when he received the call that would change his life dramatically.
For the first time in his life, he caught a plane from Kisumu to Nairobi. This was also the first time that he would be leaving his rural home for a trip to the city.
Alfayo did not go to school beyond Standard Six and lives with his grandparents. But Lady Luck smiled on him and now he will have to count the Sh5 million jackpot that he won in the Fanikisha na M-Shwari promotion run by Safaricom and the Commercial Bank of Africa.
It was a tale of rags-to-riches for Alfayo when he made his way to Nairobi’s Safaricom House in a carriage drawn by two milk-white horses as he went to collect his winnings. And when he got there, there was a troupe of traditional dancers waiting to welcome him as he received a red carpet reception.
Until last week, Alfayo was living in a hut in Lugari, Kakamega County and earning Sh200 a day. His job was mainly to load and off-load sugarcane at a local factory and sometimes cutting it.
Now, however, he has won close to 70 years worth of his wage as a labourer. What’s more, he will be spared the tax burden that the Kenya Revenue Authority had imposed on winnings because the law is going through clarifications.
“We meet any additional costs that are associated to tax ourselves and we treat that as a cost,” said Mr Nzioka Waita of Safaricom.
Yesterday, Alfayo confessed that he had never before been near an aeroplane or a building more than two stories high.
“Before going to catch a plane in Kisumu to get to Nairobi I had never flown,” he said. Now, he can afford a plane ticket for a destination of his choice, thanks to M-Shwari, the joint partnership between Safaricom and CBA which offers a paperless banking service to M-Pesa customers, enabling users to open and operate saving accounts.
Mr Jeremy Ngunze, CEO, CBA said that the company was already giving Alfayo and other winners lessons in financial literacy to aid them to better spend their winnings and ensure they do not squander it.
Alfayo plans to use his winnings to buy a shamba on which he will plant his own sugarcane and also set up a business to supplement his earnings from farming activities.

Ismailia community celebrates Lalani’s life


                                                                                                 Shirin Lalani 
Kampala.
“She was loving, caring and generous, not only to her family but to everyone around her. She would always stand by us and was also the pillar uniting the family. So her death is a big loss.”
This is how Mr Sikander Lalani, the chairperson of Roofings Limited, described his mother, Shirin Lalani, who died on Sunday.
According to Roofings Group Business Development Manager Stuart Mwesigwa, Shirin, who was arguably one of the oldest persons among the Ismailia community in Uganda, died of old age.
“She was 92, so she died of old age but this was worsened by the stroke she suffered in February last year. However, she had lived a happy life because she had seen her children succeed,” Mr Mwesigwa said.
Mr Salim Lalani, a son to the deceased, said her death is a big loss not only to their family but also to Uganda. “She was born here and some Ugandans will always have great memories of her because of what she has done.”
Mr Mwesigwa said Shirin’s body will be laid to rest today at the Aga Khan Cemetery in Kampala. “There is a memorial service at the Aga Khan Mosque at 10am. The burial is open to the public,” he said.
Shirin was born in Masaka on February 12, 1922. Her father was a businessman who came to Uganda in 1913. She got married to Nazarali Lalani in 1942.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

State ‘failed poll chaos sex victims’


Kenya National Commission on Human Rights CEO Patricia Nyaundi at a past event.
A rights watchdog has accused the government of discriminating against the survivors of sexual violence in the 2007/08 post-election violence.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights chief executive officer told a Nairobi court on Tuesday that the government failed to address the survivors’ cases.
Ms Patricia Nyaundi said during an emotional hearing of a petition by the survivors of sexual and gender- based violence that the government had discriminated against the survivors despite evidence that they were abused by security officers.
“Those who perpetrated sexual violence on vulnerable women are walking free, yet the government has done nothing to help their stigma. I do not understand why they are being discriminated against when those displaced during the violence have been compensated,” said Ms Nyaundi.
She took the court through the time she worked at the Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida) and the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission during which she got first hand testimonies of women who had been sexually abused.
“I received many calls from women and men who had been subjected to rape, sodomy and forceful circumcision. Some said they had been abused by police officers.”
Ms Nyaundi said she participated in preparing the Waki Commission and the TJRC reports which detailed how police officers deployed in the violence hot-spots to protect the vulnerable turned out to be the perpetrators.
She testified that the government violated the victims’ right to life since it had prior information of violence during the 2007 election but failed to take measures to stop it.
According to her, it is unfortunate that the government has only considered compensating and settling the internally displaced when survivors of sexual violence continue to suffer without any medical support.
She said it was disheartening to come across women who had their genitals raptured and others who contracted HIV.
“Why should somebody walk in that state when the government has an obligation to take care of them? The sexual violence meted on victims is punishable by life imprisonment, but the priority of survivors is not the conviction but to get help,” said Ms Nyaundi.
She was testifying in a case in which eight survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, the Coalition on Violence Against Women, the Independent Medico-Legal Unit, the International Commission of Jurists and Physicians for Human Rights have sued the government.
The hearing continues.

Obama sends more troops to capture Kony


                                                                     A picture of a CV-22 Osprey, a decisive game changer.
US President Barrack Obama has ordered the deployment of an additional 150 Special Forces and aircraft to boost the hunt for the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel leader Joseph Kony in the thick jungles of central Africa. The deployment comes just weeks after the US government threatened to “review” its bilateral relations with Uganda after President Museveni signed the law that criminalises homosexuality.
But the Public Affairs officer at American Embassy, Mr Daniel Travis, told the Daily Monitor yesterday that his country can help protect both rights of LRA war victims and sexual minorities.
“Ensuring justice and accountability for human rights violators like the LRA and protecting LGBT rights aren’t mutually exclusive. We can and must do both. We continue to look at additional steps we may take to work to protect LGBT individuals from violence and discrimination, and to urge Uganda to repeal this abhorrent law,” he said.
The Uganda People’s Defence Forces welcomed the deployment of extra forces that brings the officially acknowledged number of American troops participating in the LRA hunt to 250.
“We have bilateral relations with the US to end the LRA insurgency and we are still looking for him (Kony). We welcome any extra effort that comes to help us end this problem,” UPDF spokesperson Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, said yesterday.
Mr Travis said the deployment of CV-22 Osprey aircraft will enable quick troop movement in the war theatre.
“Our African partners have consistently identified airlift as one of their greatest limiting factors as they search for and pursue the remaining LRA leaders across a wide swath of one of the world’s most remote regions,” he said. The Americans help the African Regional Task Force that includes Uganda, South Sudan, Central African Republic and DR Congo to gather intelligence on the LRA and its elusive leader.
The Enough Project’s Ugandan researcher on LRA, Mr Kasper Agger, yesterday observed that the CV-22 Osprey is “a decisive game changer”. “The US and their African partner forces will now be able to act swiftly to apprehend Kony who continues to terrorise civilians in remote corners of central Africa. The deployment confirms US resolve to the mission and sends a strong signal about the Obama administration’s commitment to atrocity prevention,” he said.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Malaysian flight ended in Indian Ocean, no survivors: PM


Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (C) delivers a statement on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 during a press conference at the Putra World Trade Center (PWTC) in Kuala Lumpur on March 24, 2014. 

The missing Malaysia Airlines jet came down in the Indian Ocean, Prime Minister Najib Razak has said as the airline reportedly told relatives it had been lost and that none on board survived.
"It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean," Najib told a press conference, citing new satellite information.

 Flight officer Rayan Gharazeddine, on board a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion, scans for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean on March 22, 2014.
 A young Chinese boy looks at his mother during a briefing by Malaysian ambassador Iskandar Sarudin to relatives of passengers from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 at Metro Park Lido Hotel in Beijing on March 24, 2014.

Govt to ban shisha smoking


A woman smokes shisha in a Kampala hangout recently. A new Bill has been tabled, which among other things, seeks to ban the smoking of shisha

KAMPALA.
Parliament is working on a Bill that among other things wants smoking of Shisha [Hookah] banned.
Shisha smoking, the latest fad for the middle-class and the youth, is a brand of smoking where tobacco is flavoured using water.
The team that is currently drafting Uganda’s Tobacco Control Bill (TCB) intends to produce an avalanche of laws that will effectively ban Shisha smoking as well as providing guidelines for tobacco smokers.
“We have proposed that we ban it before it becomes widespread,” said Dr Sheila Ndyanabangi, the Ministry of Health’s Focal Person Tobacco Control, said on Saturday.
“We want to save lives,” Dr Ndyanabangi said in Kampala during a meeting organised by the Uganda National Health Consumers Organisation to raise awareness of the dangers associated with tobacco.
According to experts, this brand of smoking also affects non-smokers since those smoking exhale some smoke that is released later.
The World Health Organisation says on average 37 people in Uganda die everyday due to tobacco-related illness such as lung cancer.
Unfortunately, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the number of young males who smoke has increased from 12 in every 100 (2001 figure) to 19 in every 100 (2011) young males.
Also, the number of young female smokers has increased from 11 to 15 in every 100 female youth.
Health experts attribute the increases to the belief among some youth that smoking is “cool”.
However, the increase in the number of young female smokers is believed to have been spurred by the belief that smoking is a sign of equality, according to experts.
The increase is also premised on the aggressive marketing conducted by tobacco companies.
Dr Possy Mugyenyi, the manager of the Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa, said the increase is a health burden.
“In 15 years the current group of smokers will be at the cancer institute not as doctors but as patients,” said Dr Mugyenyi.
According to the Tobacco Control Journal (2013), it is estimated that the percentage of smokers would have increased to 30 per cent by 2030 if Africa does not find ways through which it can effectively discourage tobacco smoking.
Recently, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, the Member of Parliament for Kinkizi East, tabled a Bill in Parliament that seeks to control tobacco use.
According to the World Bank, for every Shs2,565 the government receives from the tobacco sales, it parts with Shs7, 695 treating those with tobacco-related illnesses.
Not doing well on tobacco control
According to Dr Chris Baryomunsi, Uganda is not doing well in terms of tobacco control, which calls for concerted efforts in regards to regulating the usage of tobacco smoking, especially among the youth.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Malaysia says China has new images of floating objects


Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein shows a note from the Chinese ambassador stating that they have received new satellite images during the search for missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370, at a press conference near Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on March 22, 2014. China has new satellite images of one or more floating objects that could be related to missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, Hishammuddin said. It was not immediately clear how many possible objects had been spotted, but the minister said one was estimated at 22 metres by 30 metres (72 by 98 feet)


KUALA LUMPUR, Saturday
China released Saturday a new satellite image of a large floating object possibly linked to missing Malaysian Flight MH370, boosting search efforts as anger with the pace of the operation boiled over among Chinese relatives in Beijing.
The grainy photo taken on March 18 released by the State Administration of Science Technology and Industry showed an object measuring 22.5 metres by 13 metres (74 by 43 feet) in the southern Indian Ocean.
The location was given as just 120 kilometres (75 miles) distant from where March 16 satellite images -- released by Australia on Thursday -- had detected two pieces of possible wreckage in a remote, storm-swept stretch of ocean around 2,500 kilometres southwest of Perth.
Six planes, including four Orion anti-submarine aircraft packed with state-of-the-art surveillance equipment, scoured the area for a third straight day without success Saturday.
The emergence of the new photo was announced in Kuala Lumpur by Malaysian Transport Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, who was a handed a note during his daily press briefing on the international search for MH370 which vanished two weeks ago.
A visibly animated Hishammuddin wrapped up the briefing early "to follow this lead".
Chinese, British and Australian naval ships are already steaming to the search area and the new image will provide welcome backing for the decision to deploy so many resources without confirmation that the objects are pieces of wreckage.
Two-thirds of the 227 passengers on board the missing plane were Chinese and growing anger among their family members over Malaysia's handling of the crisis exploded during a meeting with Malaysian officials at a Beijing hotel.
Police were forced to intervene as relatives rushed towards the officials, demanding answers which they accuse the Malaysians of withholding.
TELL US THE TRUTH!
"Government of Malaysia, tell us the truth! Give us back our loved ones!" they shouted.
After the police stepped in, the Malaysian officials left the room.
"We can't bear it any longer," one of the relatives said later. "They're offering us compensation, but we've lost our entire families. Before he cut short his briefing in Kuala Lumpur, Hishammuddin promised to continue engaging with the families despite the growing tensions.
"I know this roller coaster has been incredibly hard for everyone, especially for the families," he said.
In Perth, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss vowed there would be no let up in the search.
"We intend to ... search until we are absolutely satisfied that further searching would be futile and that day is not in sight," Truss said.
"At this stage we are planning to continue indefinitely."
The distance from Australia's west coast allows the Orions only about two hours of actual search time before they must turn around with enough fuel to get back to Perth.
MH370 dropped off civilian radar on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and two weeks later Malaysian investigators still believe it was "deliberately diverted" by someone on board.
Three scenarios have gained particular traction: hijacking, pilot sabotage, and a sudden mid-air crisis that incapacitated the flight crew and left the plane to fly on auto-pilot for several hours until it ran out of fuel and crashed.
Finding wreckage in the remote southern Indian Ocean would undermine the hijacking theory, which many of the relatives continue to cling to.
RELATIVES BEING IGNORED?
Sarah Bajc, the partner of American passenger Philip Wood, voiced concern that the sudden focus on a particular section of the Indian Ocean was happening at the expense of a land search along a northern route the plane may have taken over South and Central Asia.
"I believe, and I think many people believe, the passengers are being held for some other purpose. But so far that doesn't seem to be listened to," Bajc told CNN
"If there's a chance it was taken by an abductor of some sort, then we should be putting at least some of our resources towards looking on land," she added.
The search for MH370 has become one of the longest -- and certainly largest -- in modern aviation history.
Expectations based on advances in technology, coupled with the modern era's relentless 24-hour media coverage, would seem to rule out public acceptance of the idea that the aircraft may never be found.
Scott Hamilton, managing director of US-based aviation consultancy Leeham Co., said the investigation would simply have to continue for as long as it takes.
"This is, in all probability, a criminal act, and thereby presumed murder of more than 230 people," Hamilton said.
"Worse, if this is some kind of terror event that is a precursor to something bigger in the future, authorities will presumably do all they can to make this determination and work to prevent it -- whatever 'it' is," he added.
Malaysia has asked the FBI to help recover data it said was deleted from a home flight simulator belonging to the plane's chief pilot, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, but otherwise no evidence has emerged to implicate him.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Two objects spotted possibly related to MH370: Australia PM


Map showing the general area where two objects possibly related to the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have been sighted, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Thursday


KUALA LUMPUR,
Australia said Thursday that two objects possibly related to missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 had been sighted at sea, marking a potential breakthrough in the nearly two-week search for the aircraft and its 239 passengers and crew.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told parliament that "new and credible information" based on satellite imagery had come to light, and four long-range surveillance planes were being diverted to look into the find in the southern Indian Ocean.
"Following specialist analysis of this satellite imagery, two possible objects related to the search have been identified," Abbot said.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority had said that the vast area it was scouring had been "significantly refined" following closer analysis of flight MH370's fuel reserves.
The Boeing 777 vanished in the early hours of March 8 after veering drastically off course over the South China Sea while en route to Beijing.
Sketchy radar and satellite data had resulted in investigators proposing two vast search corridors, stretching south into the Indian Ocean and north over South and Central Asia.
Most analysts had favoured the maritime southern corridor, pointing out the unlikelihood of the airliner passing undetected over nearly a dozen countries.
But the international search has been marked by numerous false leads, and Abbott sought to temper expectations.
FOUND ANYTHING?
"We must keep in mind the task of locating these objects will be extremely difficult and it may turn out that they are not related to the search for flight MH370," he said.
The head of Malaysia's civil aviation authority, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, said he was yet to receive any information from Australia.
"What have they found? They have found something? We have not received anything yet from them," Azharuddin told AFP.
The Malaysian authorities have been criticised for their handling of the investigation, especially by relatives of the passengers on board.
Nearly two-thirds of those on board were Chinese, and there were chaotic, emotional scenes Wednesday when a group of tearful Chinese relatives tried to gatecrash Malaysia's tightly controlled daily media briefing at a hotel near Kuala Lumpur airport.
Shouting and crying, the relatives unfurled a protest banner reading "Give us back our families", and accused the Malaysian authorities of withholding information and doing too little to find the plane.
If the plane is found in the ocean, fundamental questions will remain as to what caused it to crash .
DELETED DATA
A US official who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity said Malaysia had asked the FBI to help recover data deleted from a flight simulator in the home of the missing plane's chief pilot, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah.
Malaysian police removed the simulator from Zaharie's home on Saturday, after investigators said they believed the plane had been deliberately diverted from its intended route by someone on board.
In his first on-camera comments on the mystery, US President Barack Obama, who is due to visit Malaysia next month, offered thoughts and prayers Wednesday to the anguished relatives of the missing passengers.
"I want them to be assured that we consider this a top priority," he said in a television interview at the White House.
Obama stressed there had been "close cooperation" with the Malaysian government and added that the United States had put "every resource that we have available" at the disposal of the search process.
There were three US nationals, including an infant, on board.
The New York Times quoted a senior US law enforcement official as saying FBI agents in Kuala Lumpur would likely copy the hard drive of the captain's simulator and send the contents back to analysts in the United States who specialise in retrieval of deleted computer data.
"Right now, it's the best chance we have of finding something," the official said.
Zaharie, a 33-year veteran of the airline, was highly regarded by his peers. But suspicion has clouded him since investigators concluded the plane's communication systems were likely disabled manually and the aircraft diverted by a skilled aviator.
ANGUISHED KIN
Security was strengthened Thursday at the airport hotel where the protest a day earlier by angry Chinese relatives played out in front of the international media.
Several police officers guarded the entrance to the Sama Sama Hotel and new barriers were erected restricting access to the area around the briefing room.
One hotel official told AFP that police had briefed hotel security on preventing "suspicious people" from entering.
Wednesday's ugly scenes of screaming women being forcibly carried from the briefing room only compounded the pressure on the Malaysian authorities, who argue they are doing everything possible to resolve one of the biggest mysteries of the modern aviation era.
Peter Weeks, whose brother Paul, 39, was on the plane, said there had been no official communication from any government figures in Malaysia.
"The information we get is no better than what is in the media," he told CNN.
"You spend 24 hours a day thinking about it really; every waking moment and even the few moments of sleep you get.
"There's no solid information about anything," he said.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Gays law: Sweden cuts tourism links with Jinja


President Museveni (M) and Jinja mayor Kezaale Baswaale (L) hand over a bottle containing water from Source of the Nile to an official from the embassy of Sweden in Uganda


Jinja.
The Swedish town of Skelleftea has suspended activities under a tourism promotion agreement with Jinja to protest the enactment of the anti homosexuality law.
President Museveni recently signed into law the Bill.
Skelleftea entered the agreement with Jinja Town Board in 2012 where it was agreed that the two would work together on two major activities namely “Paint the City Bright” and “Relay from Jinja to Northern Sweden”, both of which were launched in Jinja on May 4, 2013 by President Museveni.
“Paint the City Bright” saw numerous buildings painted to give Jinja the look of a bright city while “Relay from Jinja to northern Sweden” saw containers shaped like Uganda’s Nile Perch fish filled with water from the source of the Nile and carried to begin a northward journey adjacent to the Nile, over the Mediterranean and Europe.
The bottles which are due to arrive in Sweden in the summer had been expected to be handed over to mayors of various municipalities as part of the tourism promotion of Jinja, but a March 14 letter addressed to Jinja Mayor Hajji Muhammad Baswari Kezaala, has cast a dark shadow over such a development.
According to the letter, which was signed by the head of the Steering Committee of Skelleftea-Jinja Cooperation, Ms Ann-Christin Westerlund, and three members, there is a strong feeling among the Swedes that the agreement should be revoked.
“However, we want to postpone the cooperation around developing the tourism industry through events until we can see how the new law will affect the people,” reads the letter in part.

Two Al-Shabaab suspects jailed for illegal stay in Kenya


Militants of al-Shabaab train with weapons on a street in the outskirts of Mogadishu. Two suspected Al Shabaab militants arrested in a sting operation in Nairobi after allegedly sneaking into the country from Somalia to conduct a mass recruitment drive have been jailed for a year for being in Kenya illegally.

Two suspected Al Shabaab militants arrested in a sting operation in Nairobi after allegedly sneaking into the country from Somalia to conduct a mass recruitment drive have been jailed for a year for being in Kenya illegally.
Mr Jabreen Ahmad alias Harun Osama and Mohammed Salim Alias Daud pleaded guilty to a charge of being found unlawfully present in the country after they were arrested on February 25 along the Nairobi-Kamiti road.
But they denied separate charges linking them to terrorism.
Through an Arabic translator the prosecution said they were members of Al Shabaab terror group and were found with photographs and video downloads “used in instigating the commission of terrorist activities.”
Mr Ahmad was further charged with collection of information for preparation of terrorism activities, a charge he denied.
The court heard that on February 25 at about 10.00am he was found in possession of flash-disk containing details on how to assemble a bomb “ which was information for the use in instigating terror.”
The suspects allegedly arrived in Kenya on December 18, 2013 accompanied with a Scotland Yard spy who had infiltrated their ranks in Somalia, according to details of their arrest Nation obtained from a police officer.
They had been living in different parts of the city including Dagoretti Corner and later Kahawa West while intelligence bugged their rooms and monitored the communication, mainly in Arabic, which they exchanged with agents in Somalia.
According to the source who requested anonymity, the men were on a mission of mass recruitment since “locally, the Al- Qaeda supported cell had been destabilised and membership had dwindled.”
The source also said they were suspected to have been planning a major terror strike before they were arrested.
The men have been held since December over various terrorism related charges, including being found in possession of Al Shabaab military training videos, the prosecution said Thursday.
The prosecution said that on February 25 at around 10.00pm they were found unlawfully present along Nairobi -Kamiti Road as they did not have valid entry papers.
The suspects have also been charged with being members of an Al Shabaab terrorist cell after they were found in possession of video materials and hard disk retrieves “meant to be used in instigating the commission of a terrorist activity.”
MR Mohamoud is further charged with being found in possession of a photo of himself where he posed while holding an AK 47 rifle.
The police seized exhibits which include video clips of the suspects engaging in physical combat training in Somalia, the prosecution said.
Their trial begins on June 5.

Over 70,000 S. Sudanese seek asylum


                                           South Sudan refugees at Elegu border post in Adjumani District recently.
More than 77,000 South Sudanese refugees are registered in Uganda as asylum seekers according to the Office of the Prime Minister. The majority of them are believed to have fled the conflict that began in Juba, the South Sudan capital, mid-December last year and spread to other parts of the country.
Thousands of refugees fleeing violence in South Sudan have crossed into neighbouring countries, including Uganda and Sudan.
“I have just concluded an on-spot check in the refugee camps in Arua, Koboko and Ajumani districts. We have so far registered 77,500 South Sudan refugees seeking political asylum. International agencies are on ground. They responded to an appeal I made three weeks ago but the biggest challenge is education of children in these camps,” State minister for Disaster Preparedness Musa Ecweru said in an interview yesterday.
Most of the South Sudanese who escaped the violence, which has led to the death of an estimated 10,000 people, have settled in Adjumani District. The UN estimates that more than 82,000 South Sudanese refugees have fled to Uganda due to the current conflict pitting President Salva Kiir against former vice president Riek Machar, whom he accuses of attempting a coup against his government.
A further 60,000 have fled to Ethiopia, 20,000 to Kenya and about 40,000 to Sudan.
More than 705,800 people have been displaced within the country, according the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
South Sudanese had been going to Old Kampala Police Station to apply for asylum but the service has since been transferred to refugee camps in Kiryandongo, and West Nile. When the Daily Monitor visited Old Kampala Police Station, a notice of transfer of service was pinned on the noticeboard with a heading: ‘Closure of registration of South Sudan asylum seekers in Kampala’“You are advised to go and register in Kiryandongo, Rhino Camp (Arua) or Ajumani Refugee Settlement where the process is faster,” the notice read.
However, the registration of Somali refugees was still going on.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Clock Tower, Jinja Road flyovers to cost billions


Kampala Capital City Authority has unveiled a masterplan to transform the transport network for Kampalans expected to cost more than Shs300 billion. The project will be funded in partnership with the Japanese government. This artistic impression shows how the road section at the Jinja Road traffic lights will look like when completed.

Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has unveiled a multi-billion master plan to transform the transport network in the city. The plan encompasses construction of flyovers at Kitgum House, Mukwano and Clock Tower junctions in the next five years.
It will also develop an integrated public transport system with Bus Rapid Transit, Non-Motorised Transport and cable cars. According to KCCA documents, the passenger rail services in the city and its suburbs will be revamped.
“Feasibility studies and preliminary designs have been completed. Works are expected to commence by 2016,” reads a KCCA document on the project in part. KCCA spokesperson Peter Kaujju corroborated with the plans, saying: “We have done the preliminary designs and contacted seven possible service providers.”
He said the project is also part of the efforts to end congestion in the capital and ease traffic flow. Sources say the plan was endorsed by the ruling party, NRM and its MPs during their retreat at the National Leadership Institute, Kyankwanzi last month.
The KCCA Executive Director, Ms Jennifer Musisi, made the presentation during a session attended by President Museveni. The city authority will execute the plan with the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA).
According to UNRA spokesperson Dan Alinange, the designs of the flyovers have been done with the support of the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Mr Alinange said he had not got a price attached to the project.
However, documents obtained from City Hall indicate that the project will cost $150 million (about Shs373 billion). “A team of Japanese will help us to determine how much to cost in the compensation process,” Mr Alinange said in a telephone interview yesterday.
“After determining how the project will progress, we shall embark on the tendering process very soon and procuring the necessary requirements,” he added. Last year, KCCA launched the construction, upgrading and expansion of several roads in the city.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Museveni, King Oyo get peace awards


King Oyo (2nd L) receives a peace achievement award from the president of Heavenly Culture, World Peace Restoration of Light, Mr Lee Man-Hee (C), from South Korea during a ceremony held in Kampala at the weekend. Mr Man-Hee, together with Ms Kim Namhee (2nd R), the chairperson of International Women’s Peace Group, also gave a similar award to President Museveni. King Oyo and the President were hailed for promoting peace in the region. With the king is his sister, Princess Ruth Komuntale (L) and mother Best Kemigisa (R)

 Kampala.
President Museveni and Tooro King Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru have received awards for their roles in promoting peace.
The awards were bestowed by the president of Heavenly Culture, World Peace Restoration of Light, Mr Lee Man-Hee from South Korea, at King Oyo’s palace in Buziga, a Kampala suburb at the weekend.
Mr Lee said King Oyo was recognised for his contribution in promoting peace in Uganda while President Museveni, whose award was handed to the king for transmittal, was saluted for efforts to restore peace both in Uganda, Somalia, South Sudan and other parts of the world.
“These two leaders have done a great job in promoting peace worldwide and that’s why I have come a long way from South Korea to recognise them for their big achievements,” Mr Man-Hee said.
He promised to work together with Tooro Kingdom to bring South Korea investors to Uganda to promote investment within Tooro and the country.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

East African Community gears up for single info platform for integration


(From L to R) Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, President Uhuru Kenyatta, host President Yoweri Museveni and Rwandan President Paul Kagame during the 15th Ordinary Summit of The East African Community Heads of State at Speke Resort, Kampala.

ARUSHA
East African countries could soon have one communication platform on matters to do with regional integration.
Ministries of East African Community (EAC) affairs, the Arusha-based secretariat and organs and institutions of the Community will streamline their communication channels for better information on regional matters.
The move was agreed during the fourth EAC Communication Policy and Strategy Forum early this week, where joint communication and sensitisation strategies and activities were raised.
The two-day forum brought together communication experts from the partner states, EAC organs and institutions and a raft of affiliate organisations.
They included the East African Business Council, the East African Law Society, Centre for Constitutional Development, East African Local Governments Association and the East African Civil Society Forum.
“Ministries and institutions have a critical role to play in implementing the communication policy and strategy,” said Mr Owora Richard Othieno, who heads the EAC Department of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Bunyoro wants UK to return stolen throne


King Solomon Gafabusa Iguru dons royal attire during the ‘empango’ celebrations at the palace.

Hoima. 
Bunyoro Kingdom has asked the government to support its demand to Britain to return its royal throne which was allegedly stolen by Col Colville, a British colonial agent on June 11, 1894.
Led by the prime minister, the Rev Jackson Nsamba Kasozi, the kingdom officials presented a petition signed by King Solomon Gafabusa Iguru, to MPs on the Finance, Budget and Natural Resources committee during a meeting on Wednesday.
“The British are keeping my throne at Pitt Rivers Museum as a historic piece that people pay money to see. Great Britain has benefitted financially from this throne since it got into their hands,” King Iguru’s petition reads in part. Kingdom officials say at the time of independence in 1962, the artifact and others should have been surrendered to Uganda.
Minister’s take
“However, the British chose to keep them and continue to earn income from them. I hold them legally responsible and accountable. This throne is our heritage,” the petition reads further.
The State minister for Bunyoro Affairs, Mr Ernest Kiiza, said the government had taken note of Bunyoro Kingdom’s concerns and would handle them accordingly.
“Government has the commitment to address our historical injustices. Some have been addressed and many more will be addressed,” Mr Kiiza, who is also the chairperson of Bunyoro Parliamentary Caucus, said.
Asked by MPs what the kingdom expected from Parliament regarding the petition, the head of Bunyoro Kingdom’s regalia, Mr George Muhuruzi, said they want the central government to exert diplomatic pressure on Britain to return the confiscated throne and compensate the kingdom.
This newspaper has, however, seen correspondences between the kingdom and Pitts Rivers Museum in which the museum denies holding the said throne.
The king wrote to the museum on November 28, 2013, demanding his royal throne which he saw during his visit.
Background
Britain administered Bunyoro as a conquered territory after British soldiers defeated Omukama Kabalega’s nine-year rebellion against colonialism. Besides losing lives during the colonial war, Bunyoro says it also lost its cultural artifacts and symbols to the British.

Obama’s dilemma in 2015 budget proposals for East African countries


In Kenya, the ICC cases remain key as Uganda and Rwanda refuse to blink. Tanzania seen as Washington’s footprint

US President Barack Obama’s administration is grappling with difficult decisions in balancing abuse of human rights concerns against other priorities in its relationship with East Africa.
These include a shared desire to counter terrorism, ongoing development and humanitarian priorities, and other foreign policy goals.
The latest budget proposals unveiled last week by President Obama show that the US government intends to maintain or slightly increase most forms of assistance to East African countries, a development analysts say highlights Washington’s dilemma.
The proposals came as the fallout between Uganda and donors deepened, two weeks after President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality law.
The US delegation to Uganda has announced it has begun an internal review of its relationship with Uganda to ensure that all dimensions of their engagement, including assistance programmes, uphold anti-discrimination policies and principles that reflect their values.

Other factors affecting the relationship between the US and East Africa include the conflict in South Sudan and security threats posed by the Al Shabaab terror group.
Analysts say the status quo in US-EA relations would be hard to sustain should the Congress approve President Obama’s recommendations as submitted; aid would rise sharply in a few instances and decrease moderately in others.
For example, the US president is seeking a reduction in development aid to both Rwanda and Uganda.
The proposed cuts for the coming fiscal year — from $62 million to $48 million for Rwanda, and from $68 million to $56 million for Uganda — may be intended to give concrete form to the Obama administration’s criticism of policies in both countries that it views as repressive.
The US has roundly and repeatedly condemned the Anti-Homosexuality law in Uganda, and has disapproved what it terms as stifling dissent by the Rwanda government.
At the same time, however, President Obama is seeking small increases in military assistance to both Rwanda and Uganda, suggesting that the US does not intend to distance itself from the two countries it views as key allies in the region.
Development assistance would also be marginally reduced for Kenya — from $97 million to $91 million. It is not clear whether the reduction is linked to relations between the two countries.
Analysts say the election last year of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto continues to present donor governments, including the US, with diplomatic challenges. They say the pair’s continued compliance with the International Criminal Court holds the key to future engagements between Nairobi and global powers.

The US federal budget section for the State Department envisions a slight drop in military training funding for Kenya, but an increase for a separate military aid programme. The White House also plans to expand HIV/Aids treatment and prevention in Kenya, along with other health programmes.
The dilemma for Obama and other donors is what to do about leaders who may want assistance but will not agree to be told what to do or how to behave, like Western powers used to do during the Cold War, said a political analyst who did not wish to be named due to his engagements with governments in the region.
He added: “Ever since Uganda discovered oil and as progress towards commercial exploitation advances, donors have become nervous. President Museveni has never been the easiest of ‘clients’ to manage in terms of getting him to behave in particular ways or do certain things. So ‘managing’ him has always been difficult. Donors are now asking how they will ‘manage’ an independent-minded President Museveni with less need for aid and plenty of oil dollars.”
According to the analyst, President Museveni’s decision to sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill amid clear signs of fallouts with donors had confirmed the Wests worst fears.
“In Rwanda, donors also have a problem in the form of a president who is not prepared to toe the line on anything. He has a mind of his own and leads a government full of people with similar instincts. When they cut aid, of course Rwanda’s economy suffered. But the country has responded by trying to diversify its sources,” he added.

Tanzania is considered an important country for US business interests and foreign policy, given the risk of terrorism on the coast of East Africa and the ongoing efforts to find peace in the Great Lakes region.
President Obama’s visit to Tanzania in July 2013 was seen as a re-assertion of the US footprint in the region, particularly in the context of securing future energy supplies.

It also underscored Tanzania¹s rising importance in the region, largely thanks to its recent massive hydrocarbon discoveries.
Tanzania’s natural gas reserves are estimated at 41.7 trillion cubic feet, and US oil and gas giant Exxon has already laid claim to a large natural gas deposit off the coast.
The country’s booming extractive industry makes it attractive to many investors, not just the US — Obama’s visit came just months after China’s new president Xi Jinping had finished a tour of the resource-rich country.
But extremism is on the rise in Tanzania, and hardline Islamist groups such as Uamsho — whose ideology is similar to the strict Wahhabi brand of Islam — are increasingly compromising Tanzania’s image as the bedrock of stability in the region.
In its proposals, President Obama’s administration wants to provide more than $80 million to the Democratic Republic of Congo for efforts to avert human rights violations, treat victims of sexual violence and reform the DRC army.
Mr Obama is further urging Congress to provide millions of dollars in additional aid to South Sudan’s army and government. The President’s request for large-scale assistance to South Sudan follows the February 26 announcement by a US special envoy that some military aid for Juba was being withheld.

Mr Obama is asking for $36 million in the next fiscal year for South Sudan’s army as well as $225 million in economic support for a variety of initiatives by the government headed by President Salva Kiir.
According to the budget documents, the $36 million outlay would go to “support the rebuilding of a fractured military and support the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) continuing efforts to transform from an oversized, disintegrated rebel force to an appropriately-sized professional military.”
At the same time, President Obama’s proposed budget calls for a modest reduction in US military-training funds for the SPLA.

The envisioned cut — from $759,000 this year to $650,000 next year — may reflect the Obama administration’s recently revealed decision to withhold an unspecified amount of aid for the SPLA and transfer it to the ceasefire verification efforts of East African monitors deployed in South Sudan.
Ambassador Donald Booth, the US special envoy for both South Sudan and Sudan, criticised the Juba-based government while informing Congress of the plan to suspend a portion of the aid given to the SPLA.
President Kiir’s administration has failed to fully address the causes of the violence ravaging South Sudan, Ambassador Booth said two weeks ago.
The US president is also asking for an additional $20 million to enhance South Sudan’s capacity to provide “civilian security and basic justice services.”
In a move by Washington to thaw relations with Khartoum, the budget proposals include $9.5 million in aid for Sudan’s government. These funds would be spent to help resolve disputes between Khartoum and Juba, to improve conditions in Darfur, and to promote peace in “marginalised areas” of the country.
Somalia’s government, said by UN monitors to be guilty of egregious corruption, is slated to receive $79 million in US aid.
Djibouti, the host of a large US military base, is in line for a sharp increase in development aid from $1.9 million to $10 million.
President Obama will invite 47 leaders to a US-Africa summit in August. The summit, together with Obama’s trip to Africa last year, and a promised future visit before he leaves office, may assuage disappointment that he did not pay the continent more attention in his first term.

South Africa, Rwanda engage in diplomatic row over so-called dissidents




 
Lt.-Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa. Photo: File   
 
 A diplomatic row has broken out between Rwanda and South Africa in the wake of a recent attack on the residence of Rwandan dissident Lt Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa in Johannesburg. 
 
 
A diplomatic row has broken out between Rwanda and South Africa in the wake of a recent attack on the residence of Rwandan dissident Lt Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa, only two months after the murder of another Rwandan in South Africa. 
Officials in Kigali confirmed that South African authorities on Friday gave two diplomats at the Rwandan High Commission in Pretoria 48 hours to leave the country. 
Details of the reasons for their expulsion were not given. The EastAfrican has established that Pretoria is investigating the murder of Rwanda’s former spy chief Patrick Karegeya on January 1, and a recent attack on the home of Lt Gen Nyamwasa. It is not clear if the expulsions are linked to the two incidents.
 
In retaliation, Rwanda expelled six high ranking South African diplomats on allegations of espionage. The six do not include the High Commissioner George Twala.
Rwanda’s foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo confirmed the expulsion of South Africa diplomats: “We have expelled six South African diplomats in reciprocity and concern at the country harbouring dissidents responsible for terrorist attacks in Rwanda,” she said on her Twitter account on Friday evening.
The South African government was yet to come up with an official position on the matter.
It is not the first time diplomatic ties between the two countries have suffered.
In August 2010, South Africa recalled its ambassador to Rwanda Gladstone Dumisani Gwadiso, two months after an assassination attempt on Lt Gen Nyamwasa.
South Africa, however, said it did not have any intentions of expelling the Rwandan ambassador but said it recalled its own for “consultations.”
However, reports indicated that South Africa was angered after investigations revealed Kigali’s hand in the attack. 
Mending fences
In June 2011, President Jacob Zuma named a new envoy to Rwanda and relations between the two countries have been slowly getting back on track, until the murder of Col Karegeya, which has also been blamed on Kigali.
The South African government was yet to publish a report on the outcome of  the investigations when the recent attack on Lt Gen Nyamwasa’s home happened.
A group of armed men stormed Nyamwasa’s house in South Eastern Johannesburg on Monday “looking for him.”
The South African Police Spokesperson Paul Ramaloko said the men are yet to be identified.
 
Rwanda National Congress, the opposition party co-founded by General Nyamwasa, said that the former Army Chief of Staff and his family survived because at the time of the attack they were not in the house. 
Theogene Rudasingwa, the co-ordinator of the opposition group said that he “has no doubt that those who have always attempted to get rid of General Nyamwasa may also be behind the attack,” adding that there is no doubt they are linked to Kigali.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Ecobank board ousts CEO Thierry Tanoh, names deputy as head


                                                Thierry Tanoh  the chief executive of Ecobank. 

The board of Ecobank removed its chief executive, Thierry Tanoh, on Tuesday following months of turmoil at one of the biggest financial institutions in sub-Saharan Africa.
The crisis over corporate governance and leadership that led to Mr Tanoh's departure is seen as a test case for regulators and has put a spotlight on the integrity of financial institutions on a continent where economies are expanding rapidly.
Ecobank named deputy CEO Albert Essien as its new chief executive. It also announced the reinstatement of finance director Laurence do Rego, which was a demand by Nigeria's securities regulator, which is investigating alleged breaches of corporate governance.
"Ecobank Transnational Incorporated today (Tuesday) announces the departure of Group CEO Mr Thierry Tanoh with effect from 12 March 2014. Effective the same date he will no longer be a director of ETI," the bank's holding company said in a statement.
Mr Tanoh could not immediately be reached for comment.
Mr Tanoh's supporters have said he was under pressure because of his drive to expose and correct abuses of corporate governance that pre-dated his tenure, which attracted powerful enemies nervous of what he might uncover.
Mr Essien, who is from Ghana, has been at Ecobank for more than 20 years and rose to deputy group CEO two years ago.
The 12-member board made its decision at a meeting in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, a senior bank official said. Mr Tanoh did not attend.
The Ivorian took the reins as CEO in January 2013, having previously served as a vice president at the International Finance Corporation, the investment arm of the World Bank.
Ecobank is based in Togo and has a presence in 35 African countries. There are few other pan-African banks, and the continent's biggest financial institutions are based in South Africa.
Under Mr Tanoh, profits grew 56 per cent in the first nine months of last year, and his defenders said those results reflected his leadership qualities.
But his tenure was also marked by a row over his bonus and by an investigation launched last August by Nigeria's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) after Ms do Rego told the regulator that Mr Tanoh had pressured her to misstate 2012 financial results.
Ecobank denied that allegation and said Ms do Rego had previously been suspended in a dispute over her qualifications.
The SEC in January criticised what it said was an absence of clear vision and strategy at the bank, inadequate transparency in recruiting and conflicts of interest.
It also demanded that Ms do Rego be reinstated as a whistleblower, something the bank said would be against Togolese law.

Last week, shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting voted to implement reforms designed in part to answer the regulator's criticism. In an apparent snub to Mr Tanoh, they also told the board to reinstate Ms do Rego.
A senior Ecobank official played down the impact of the crisis on the bank.
"It's obviously caused people to be a bit concerned, but if you look at the share price it is slightly down this year, but it is still much higher than at the end of 2012," the official said.
Boardroom battle
Mr Tanoh's position as CEO was undermined by a series of defections from the board at a bank that had attracted little adverse publicity under the long tenure of its previous CEO, Arnold Ekpe.
"This (Mr Tanoh's departure) was just a matter of time. I expect a positive response in terms of the market's view of Ecobank's corporate governance," an institutional investor said, declining to be named.
Four executives on Mr Tanoh's top five-person committee wrote on February 13 to interim chairman Andre Siaka to say Mr Tanoh should resign to solve a crisis of leadership.
That email was sent by Mr Essien, who was executive director of corporate and investment banking in addition to his duties as deputy CEO.
On March 1, non-executive board member Daniel Matjila denounced Mr Tanoh in a letter to Mr Siaka and the board, calling for his contract to be terminated immediately. Mr Matjila represents South Africa's Public Investment Corporation, the bank's largest shareholder with 18.35 per cent.
His letter had the support of two other board members, which had amounted to a total of seven who came out publicly to oppose Mr Tanoh before Tuesday's meeting.

Kayihura shuffles police spy chiefs


Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba addresses journalists in Kampala yesterday

Kampala.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) has reshuffled the leadership of two main intelligence units, weeks after several officers were gunned down by suspected armed robbers in the city centre.
Gen Kale Kayihura appointed the former Entebbe Airport chief joint security officer, Mr Herman Owomugisha, as the commandant of the Flying Squad, a unit carrying out intelligence and operations against violent criminals.
The police spokesperson, Ms Judith Nabakooba, confirmed the transfer of the officers, saying the changes are meant to strengthen the operations of the police.
Police sources who preferred anonymity because they aren’t authorised to talk to the press, said the changes came hours after Gen Kayihura met the officers at the police training school in Masindi District on Monday night over the handling of violent crime in the country.
The IGP has on several occasions complained publicly that he isn’t getting intelligence from those who are supposed to give it to him.
Mr Charles Kataratambi, who has been heading the Flying Squad, has been transferred to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) as the commandant.
Mr Kataratambi has replaced Assistant Commissioner of Police Beata Chelimo, who has been transferred to the Welfare Directorate to head the Women Affairs’ Desk.
Mr Moses Otala has also been confirmed the head of the Police Welfare and Production Unit. Gen Kayihura transferred the flamboyant Norman Musinga back to the Traffic and Road Safety Directorate as the head of operations.
About units
The Flying Squad comprises former Rapid Response Unit operatives. It was re-established last year after violent crimes became common in the city centre.
The Special Investigations Unit investigates serious cases such as armed robberies and murders which are often assigned by the Inspector General of Police.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The story of struggling Kenyan students in Ukraine


The Kenyan students in Ukraine from left Anthony Kiarie, Everlyne Njuguna, Simon Njinju and Elizabeth Ekakoro 

When Elizabeth Nabwire Ekakoro left Kenya on December 12, 2011 headed for further studies in Ukraine, her future could not have been any brighter.
She was one of the five Kenyan students selected that year to receive a scholarship to study in the Eastern European country beating out about 100 other applicants.
She was to pursue civil engineering at the Kiev National University of Construction and Architecture.
Three of her newly found colleagues were headed to the National Technical University of Ukraine and are also pursuing engineering degrees with Anthony Kiarie studying Mechanical Engineering, Simon Njinju (Chemical) and Samuel Erumu (Computer). One other student Everlyne Wamuyu is pursuing International Economics.
They all boarded the same flight bidding their families goodbye ready to start their new life.
Their parents were relieved that their only cost was paying for their children’s air tickets as the Ukrainian government was footing their tuition and the Kenyan government was catering for their upkeep.
When Elizabeth and her other colleagues arrived in the Ukrainian capital city of Kiev, they found out that they could not enroll for university level classes until they completed their Ukrainian and Russian language classes. This was the start of their challenges but they did not mind this particular one.
What they did not anticipate was that their own government would turn its back on them once they departed.
BURSARY FUNDS
According to Elizabeth, the Ministry of Higher Education had promised them that they would start remitting their bursary funds amounting to Sh60,000 annually as soon as they landed in Ukraine.
However, this was not to be as the five students waited patiently for communication from the ministry but none was forthcoming.
As panic set in, the students wrote numerous emails to the ministry but they did not receive a response.
Two years in, they are yet to receive any communication from the ministry as to when they would be receiving the funds promised to them.
After giving up on ever hearing back from the ministry, they turned for help from the Kenyan Embassy in Moscow which has accreditation in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus.
This too did not help. The embassy did not respond to any one of their emails for almost two years as well.
When the Daily Nation reached out to the Embassy for a comment, a spokesman for the Kenyan ambassador in Russia confirmed that the interviews were indeed conducted for the Ukrainian Government scholarships 2011 and the students selected.
Ms Jennifer Njuguna responding on behalf of the embassy however said that only the Ministry of Education could explain the government’s policy on bursaries.
“The Cabinet Secretary and the Principal Secretary in the Ministry would be the right people to explain government policy on bursaries.” Ms Njuguna told the Daily Nation.
An email sent to the Ministry was not responded to.
As the students hold on to the thin thread of hope that their own government will not indeed go back on its word to make good its promise, they have to endure miserable days that they never thought they would see.
“We can only eat one meal a day here,” Elizabeth says. “Sometimes we will miss meals entirely to save the little we have.”
The Ukrainian government also offers stipends to students who excel in their classes achieving straight “A”s. The amount is about $80.
“It is very difficult to maintain an “A” for us because of the challenges we face having to use a foreign language in class,” says Simon. “Even when you are really lucky to get the stipend, the hostel alone is $50 which leaves you with $30 for all your other needs.”
The students also say they have been shut out of the international students’ community activities as they are not able to participate financially. They say they have been completely isolated.
The only bright light in their otherwise tumultuous days is a church that they attend which holds sermons in English.
“The church sometimes comes together and gives us some little funding to sustain us,” says Elizabeth. “Without them, this life would be unbearable.”
For now the students hope that the ministry will come to their aid and remit the Sh300,000 they are owed. They all remember that President Uhuru made comments in Uganda stating that the diaspora is Kenya’s largest asset.
“Right now it does not feel like it. I am not even sure the government knows that we landed in Ukraine,” says Simon. “I remain hopeful though, I remain hopeful.”

Monday, 10 March 2014

Don’t force students to repeat classes, govt warns schools


KAMPALA.
The government has warned head teachers against defying its policy of automatic promotion of students, saying they risk disciplinary action.
The warning was sounded at a two-day Senior Five selection exercise as news filtered through of the death of a Senior Three student at Trinity College Nabbingo.
It was reported that Mariam Kamwaka, committed suicide after she was advised to repeat S3 because she had failed to attain the required aggregate to be promoted to S4.
It is understood that parents were invited to the school last week, and after a two-hour discussion, it was agreed that the student repeats S3 in order to improve her grades.
However, it is alleged this did not go down well with the student who was later found hanging by the mattress string in one of the school dormitories on Thursday morning.
Mr Francis Agula, commissioner secondary education Ministry of Education, told school administrators their actions were causing a lot of problems some of which are now starting to show up.
He insisted forcing a child to remain in a class doesn’t only waste the parents’ resources but also the government.
“I sound a warning again to you head teachers. Register all your S4 candidates. You cannot have this child from S1 up to now and you begin telling them that they cannot meet the school standard.”
“That is wrong and a waste of government and parents’ resources. We are going to establish the truth. This won’t be tolerated,” Mr Agula said.
Dr Yusuf Nsubuga, the ministry’s director of basic education, did not have kind words either.
He said some head teachers were acting unprofessionally and are irrelevant to those they lead as students can no longer trust them.
“Some of you are behaving as if you are not parents. You don’t have skills in counseling. You are becoming irrelevant and unhelpful to students. When some students come to you and tell you what they are going through, you share it on assembly the next day. The students then become frustrated. That is why they don’t come to you. The death of this young girl could have been avoided,” Dr Nsubuga lamented.
“There are many children whose parents have separated. I don’t know what was going wrong with this young girl but there is a lot of frustrations in our community. If you don’t have a permanent councilor, I implore you to hire one for at least two days a week.”
A total of 124,334 students were placed in A-level schools, technical and teachers’ training colleges.
Education minister Jessica Alupo said the government is working hard to see that the mind-set of teachers changes who will then guide learners towards choosing subjects that are relevant in the job market.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Malaysia Airlines hunts for missing plane carrying 239


Malaysia Airline's ground staff park a Boeing 777-200 at Kuala Lumpur International airport 


KUALA LUMPUR
Malaysia Airlines said a flight carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing went missing early Saturday, and the airline was notifying next of kin in a sign it expected the worst.
The airline said flight MH370 disappeared at 2:40 am local time (18:40 GMT Friday), about two hours after leaving Kuala Lumpur International Airport. It had been due to arrive in Beijing at 6:30 am local time (22:30 GMT Friday).
It was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, from 13 different nationalities, and 12 crew members.
China's state television said 158 of the passengers were Chinese.
"We deeply regret that we have lost all contacts with flight MH370 which departed Kuala Lumpur at 12.41 am earlier this morning bound for Beijing," Malaysia Airlines Group Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said in a statement.
The statement said the Malaysian flag carrier was working with authorities, who had launched an effort to locate the aircraft.
"Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew," Ahmad Jauhari said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members."
The plane was a Boeing 777-200. The airline's Kuala Lumpur-Beijing route passes roughly over the Indochinese peninsula.
A Malaysian Airlines spokeswoman said she could not immediately provide further details.
"This news has made us all very worried," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a statement.
"We hope every one of the passengers is safe. We are doing all we can to get more details."
'CONTACT LOST OVER VIETNAMESE AIRSPACE'
A report by China's Xinhua news agency said contact was lost with the plane while it was over Vietnamese airspace.
Xinhua also quoted Chinese aviation authorities saying the plane did not enter China's air traffic control sphere.
A Beijing airport spokeswoman said the facility had activated an emergency response system. Screens at the airport indicated the flight was "delayed".
An accident would be a huge blow for the carrier, which has bled money for years as its struggles to fend off competition from rivals such as fast-growing AirAsia.
It recorded its fourth straight quarterly loss during the final three months of 2013 and warned of a "challenging" year ahead due to intense competition.
The carrier admitted in 2012 it was in "crisis", forcing it to implement a cost-cutting campaign centred on slashing routes and other measures.
In 2011, it chalked up a record 2.5 billion ringgit ($767 million) loss.
In July 2013, a Boeing 777-200 operated by South Korea's Asiana Airlines skidded off the runway upon landing at San Francisco's international airport after it clipped a seawall before touching down.
Three people died.
"We're closely monitoring reports on Malaysia flight MH370. Our thoughts are with everyone on board," the manufacturer said in a statement on its Twitter feed.
Boeing has been best by problems with its high-tech 787 Dreamliners put into service two years ago, including a months-long global grounding over battery problems last year.
The information vacuum regarding the flight touched off a frenzy on social media, which saw an outpouring of concern for passengers and unconfirmed rumours that the plane had landed safely in southern China.
Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has suffered few accidents in its history.
One of its jets crashed in 1977 in southern Malaysia, killing all 93 passengers and seven crew.
A smaller Twin Otter aircraft, operated by its unit MASwings, crashed upon landing in Malaysia's Sabah state on Borneo island last October, killing a co-pilot and a passenger.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Nigeria seeks to conquer African video games market


Kuluya's Chief executive officer, Olakunle Ogungbamila (standing) watches as script writer/illustrator Nelson Omeike works on a game at Kuluya's office in Lagos February 25, 2014.

LAGOS
It's a common enough scenario in Nigeria and across Africa: how to get rid of pesky mosquitoes whose buzzing disturbs sleep and whose bites can carry malaria and other diseases.
Two Nigerian start-ups have tapped this - and other aspects and quirks of daily life in Africa - to create online and mobile phone video games that are winning fans around the world.
It's easy to see why "Mosquito Smasher" - which has earned comparisons to "Angry Birds", the worldwide mobile app success of recent years - might be a hit.
The graphics are simple, the aim clear and the reward immediate: squash as many of the blood-sucking parasites as possible under your thumb with a satisfying "Splat!"
Another, the highly popular "Okada Ride", has players guide a motorcycle-taxi driver around roadside street vendors, road-blocks and police in the notorious traffic of Lagos, a sprawling metropolis of nearly 20 million people.
"What I like about Nigerian video games, it's one: the local content, because it tends to give you that everyday feel," said Chucks Olloh, 32, a big fan.
"For example the 'Okada' hustle, it tells you how you ride on your bike, trying to avoid so many obstacles on your way home or on your way to work," said the computer programmer from Lagos.
"Two: it's very simple. All you have to do is to gain as much points as possible and avoid the obstacles."
AN AFRICAN FLAVOUR
The worldwide video games industry, worth more than $63 billion in 2012, is expected to reach nearly $87 billion in 2017, PricewaterhouseCoopers said in a recent study.
And while the African market has not figured prominently on the radar of game developers, the founders of Maliyo - the makers of "Mosquito Smasher" and "Okada Ride" - and Kuluya are hoping to change that.
Both firms were launched about 18 months ago and draw inspiration from life in Lagos. Kuluya - "action" in the Igbo language of southern Nigeria - has already created some 70 games.
It hopes to reach one million mobile telephone users by the end of June and has fans well beyond Nigeria's borders.
"In Africa, we have a lot of downloads from Ghana, Kenya and South Africa," said Lakunle Ogungbamila, who runs Kuluya.
"There was a particular game that a lot of people downloaded in Ethiopia, I'm not sure why. It's called 'Ma Hauchi': it's a hunter who is shooting vultures. A very simple game...
"Also, we get a lot of downloads from China, India, Thailand, Taiwan."
'MOBILE IS MASSIVE'
Adapting the games to the platforms that Africans use is vital, said Ogungbamila and Maliyo founder Hugo Obi.
Unlike in Europe or the United States, sales of games consoles are low in Africa and there is a preference for playing on-line.
Internet access comes rarely via home broadband hubs but instead - and increasingly - via smartphones.
"Mobile is massive in this part of the world. It has the highest penetration, especially for Internet users. And we are exporting a lot of our games onto mobiles," Maliyo's Obi told AFP.
Figures clearly show the trend in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation with 170 million residents and nearly 100 million mobile phone users in 2012.
In 2011, it is estimated that 46 million people used Internet, up from 2008 when there were only 11 million Internet users.
Obi, who invented "Mosquito Smasher", spent 10 years in Britain running a recruitment company before returning home in 2012 to set up his on-line games company.
To share Nigeria's high operating costs, with daily power cuts the norm and investment in diesel-powered generators a must, his five-member firm shares workspace with eight other companies.
From an office in the Lagos suburb of Yaba, Maliyo now offers 10 free on-line games to some 20,000 users across Nigeria but also in Britain and the United States.
It is preparing to launch smartphone versions of its most popular games.
EXPANSION PLANS
Kuluya, meanwhile, started with an investment of $250,000 but is now worth an estimated $2 million and employs about a dozen people in its Lagos office.
Sitting behind large Apple Mac screens and armed with giant tablets and light pens, the creative team, all Nigerian, find inspiration from what dominates their daily life but also comb the web for information about other African countries.
Along with the typically Nigerian games, their catalogue now nods to Kenyan culture with the game "Masai" and another called "Matatus", which features the minibuses that travel around Nairobi. Their "Zulu" game, meanwhile, has clear references to South Africa.
For the moment, Kuluya, which is seeking new investment, earns little money from advertising. Maliyo, for its part, funds itself by creating games for businesses.
The next stage for Kuluya is to introduce payment by text message for more sophisticated versions of its games.