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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 29th August 2017

KENYA: Opposition demands access to election computers as court case heats up ahead of 1 September deadline

Patrick Smith

We start this week with a couple of election disputes – in Angola and Kenya. In both cases, opposition candidates allege fraud by the national electoral commission, but few expect either result to be overturned. Congo-Kinshasa is back on the radar, with the UN criticising the government over elections, about which there are growing concerns. A new agricultural commodities exchange is stirring interest among farmers and investors from South Africa and China. Finally, France's President Emmanuel Macron hosted a mini-summit on migration in Paris over the weekend during which he got agreement, in principle, to process asylum seekers within Africa, instead of running through the checks once the would-be migrants have landed in Europe. Much detailed work remains according to both the European and African officials at the summit.

KENYA: Opposition demands access to election computers as court case heats up ahead of 1 September deadline
A trial of strength is intensifying between Raila Odinga's National Super Alliance (Nasa) and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) as opposition lawyers demand access to the commission's servers and other electronic data. Nasa says IEBC's announcement that incumbent president Uhuru Kenyattawon the 8 August elections by 1.4 million votes was 'fatally flawed' due to meddling with the commission's information technology systems.

Although the Supreme Court, which is hearing the opposition's challenge, has requested the IEBC to grant opposition lawyers limited access to its computer servers on 28 August, both parties have been locked in dispute over the modalities. Opposition lawyers claim that the electronic results transmitted by the IEBC differ sharply from the votes counted manually at polling stations across the country.
The Presidential inauguration has been postponed until after 1 September, the deadline for the Court to rule on the validity of the elections.

ANGOLA: Opposition questions MPLA election win as talks start on $2 billion Eurobond
Opposition parties are also questioning the credibility of national polls on 23 August in Angola in which the incumbent MPLA is said to have won 61.1% of the vote by the electoral commission. Final results are not due until 6 September.

However, UNITA, the historic opposition party, says its parallel vote count in the provinces of Bie, Cabina, Huambo and Luanda, differs sharply with the results released by the commission.
Meanwhile, the authorities in Luanda have opened talks with international banks about floating a US$2 billion Eurobond. Crashing world oil prices brought Angola's economy to a grinding halt last year after a decade of growth averaging 7% a year.

Although Russian state bank VTB, which along with Credit Suisse is at the centre of the secret loans scandal in Mozambique, had earlier tried to market a financing scheme in Luanda, Angolan officials deny that it has been selected to handle the bond launch.

CONGO-KINSHASA: UN criticises President Kabila's government over rights violations as Washington ends special envoy post
Raising serious doubts about the government's commitment to holding national elections this year, a United Nations assessment has criticised the Kinshasa government for cracking down on journalists and civic activists.

A UN team led by Georgette Gagnon of its Human Rights Office concluded that the 'space for a credible electoral process is rapidly shrinking' although President Joseph Kabilasigned an agreement pledging to leave power and hold free elections this year. Gagnon's assessment follows fresh reports of clashes in Kasai and the east of the country.

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, who has met Kabila in private talks, has added to concerns by telling the recent summit of the Southern African Development Community that elections in December are 'unlikely'. SADC is to appoint a high-level envoy to mediate between Kabila and the opposition. Kabila may find his political plans will encounter less international opposition following a decision by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to end the appointment of special envoys to crises in Africa and Asia.

In a letter to the US Congress last week, Tillerson announced that he was shutting down the offices of special envoys to Congo-Kinshasa and South Sudan, and that those functions would be taken up by other Washington-based officials.

NIGERIA: Investment of $135 million in commodities exchange buoys hopes for speedier economic revival
The latest economic data – a slight drop in headline inflation and economic growth edging upwards slowly – points to a slow recovery from last year's recession but concerns persist about caps on social spending and a lack of new jobs.

However, the plan to invest US$135 million in an agricultural commodities exchange at Ugbokun, Edo State, has sparked huge interest following the sharp growth in farm production over the last two years. Farmers have boosted output in the wake of the crash in oil prices and state revenues.

Due to more effective delivery of seeds and fertilisers, farmers in northern Nigeria are stepping up rice, millet and sugar production, selling substantial amounts of produce to neighbouring states.
The commodities exchange at Ugbokun, known as Integrated Produce City, should encourage farmers in six states in the south of the country to boost their own production and bring it to the new market for domestic customers or exports. Crops such as cocoa, rubber, cashew nuts and palm oil will be traded on the exchange initially but the range is likely to widen to include yam and cassava.

Chief Executive of the new venture, Pat Utomiis an economist, a founder of the Lagos Business School and a former presidential candidate. Having advocated restructuring the country's economy away from its dependence on crude oil exports, Utomi is committing his energies to a project that would promote the country's self-sufficiency in staple foodstuffs. Currently Nigeria spends more than $3.5 bn. a year on imported commodities.

AFRICA/EUROPEAN UNION: France's Macron wins wide support for 'safe zones' to process asylum applications in Africa
After a summit meeting in Paris yesterday (28 August), German Chancellor Angela Merkeland French President Emmanuel Macron pronounced themselves satisfied with 'initial progress' on a plan to stem migration to Europe by organising the processing of applications for political asylum in Africa.

The plan, devised by Macron, also won some conditional support from Libyan leader Faiez el Serraj, Chad's President Idris Déby Itno and Niger's President Mahamadou  Issoufou. As with most of the European Union's initiatives on migration there is likely to be some inducement for regional governments to join.

Under the scheme, the EU will pay some countries in the Sahel region and West Africa to set up better facilities to accommodate asylum seekers. Over the last couple of years, the EU has stepped up development projects in African countries where people face harsh conditions and are firmly on the migration roadmap.


IN VERY BRIEF

GHANA: IMF is to release a review of the economy this week as the government forecasts faster growth over next two years.

SOUTH AFRICA: Presidential son Duduzane Zuma and KPMG are trying to limit damage of their links with Guptafamily businesses.

SOMALIA: US airstrike kills top Al Shabaab commander but Mogadishu government faces protests after civilians killed in ground operation.