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Published 26th September 2014

Vol 55 No 19


Security changes mark a sombre anniversary

NAIROBI: Central business district. Crispin Hughes / Panos
NAIROBI: Central business district. Crispin Hughes / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

A year after the Westgate Mall siege, President Kenyatta is reorganising the security services as Somali and local jihadists continue their attacks

The wide-ranging calls for a full inquiry into the handling of the attack by Al Haraka al Shabaab al Mujahideen on the Westgate Shopping Mall a year ago have been met with a confusing silence. Amid claims of debilitating inter-service rivalries, unheeded intelligence warnings and crass criminality by security officers, the public’s concerns have been left unanswered. The government flatly rejected the idea of a public enquiry, like the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission). Nor, we hear, has it launched a far-reaching internal investigation of what went wrong and why.


The fire this century

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Demonstrations, rhetoric and technological innovation in Africa all help but the political will is missing in negotiations for a new climate treaty

At least it started well. Three days before the world's leaders gathered on 23 September at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to debate the urgent measures needed to stop...

Frelimo turns the screws

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As election campaigning intensifies, the ruling party takes full advantage of its control of the state

Violence is rising in the run-up to the presidential and parliamentary elections on 15 October, as police and judiciary openly express their partiality for the governing Frente de ...


Both sides of the corporate coin were on parade this week. Dozens of bankers and chief executives attended the United Nations Climate Summit in New York on 23 September, which was a prelude to negotiations in Paris next year for a new climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 (see United Nations | Africa: The fire this century). They came bearing elaborate plans for voluntary and 'market s...

Both sides of the corporate coin were on parade this week. Dozens of bankers and chief executives attended the United Nations Climate Summit in New York on 23 September, which was a prelude to negotiations in Paris next year for a new climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 (see United Nations | Africa: The fire this century). They came bearing elaborate plans for voluntary and 'market solutions' to global warming, with innovative plans for solar power and wind production that could make African energy producers into the greenest and most cost-effective on earth.

A day earlier, executives from some of the world's biggest power companies told African delegates how new technology and investment could overcome the continent's energy crisis within 15 years. The African Development Bank says Africa's oil and coal producers could raise the necessary US$300 billion if they reinvested just 5% of their export revenue in that period.

Elsewhere, the United States' biggest companies were locked in a three-way battle with anti-corruption activists and the New York Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) about how to implement the 2010 Dodd-Frank law. This demands that oil, gas and mining companies produce annual reports of all payments they make to African and other governments for the extraction of those resources.

Last year a court in Washington threw out the SEC's first attempt to set new rules for these disclosures and now Oxfam and other activists are suing it for dragging its feet. Nor are Chinese companies escaping scrutiny. On 24 September, the World Bank announced that for the first time, it was debarring a state-owned company, China International Water and Electric Corporation, from bidding for Bank contracts for three years after a lengthy probe into its technical capacity and working practices on a hydro-power project in Africa.

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Al Shabaab shake-up

Militia leaders make overtures to their enemies while the government is mired in financial scandal

In an attempt to terminally weaken Al Haraka al Shabaab al Mujahideen, the Somali and United States governments are both trying to exploit the killing of its leader, Ahmed Abdi God...

Saying no to the narco-state

A new civilian government is trying to guide the country back to legality, handling the military carefully and promising no prosecutions

No elected government has yet served out a full term but Prime Minister Domingos Simões Pereira has formed a broad coalition to get Guinea Bissau back on the path to constit...

Reshaping the army

President Kabila is restructuring the army and putting his loyalists in command. It is a sign he means to stay on, come what may

A sweeping restructuring of the army command is the strongest sign yet that President Joseph Kabila Kabange plans to ignore the constitution and seek re-election for a third term i...

A bail-out for Beijing's sake

The ruling party is paying back its top members' debts to China in the hope that President Xi Jinping will turn the money tap on again

Opposition politicians are outraged that President Robert Mugabe's government has used scarce public funds to pay off a US$80 million debt to a Chinese supplier which had been rack...

Power fraud unravels

How the government handles the latest power sector scam could have a major impact on President Kikwete’s political legacy

Heads may be about to roll after revelations about the contested transfer of 200 billion Tanzania shillings (US$124 million) from an escrow account in the central bank, the Bank of...

Putting US aid to other uses

Museveni uses Obama's security assistance for the fight against Al Shabaab to crack down on the opposition as well

United States' military aid and training in surveillance techniques is helping President Yoweri Museveni's government to crack down on the opposition, say political sources in Kamp...

Never give it up

Tycoon Beny Steinmetz is using every device he can to contest the Conakry government's decision to take away his iron-ore mining licence. Steinmetz, who is under investigation, alo...

Calling all investors

Multinationals are starting to see Egypt’s potential as a strategic hub but there few signs of a major revival in foreign interest

Egypt is taking halting steps towards dismantling obstacles in the way of attracting foreign investment, However, it looks as though it will continue to be dependent on support fro...

Kabila for ever

The President wants the constitution changed to allow him to stay in power after 2016 but opposition is mounting

Faced with fierce opposition to amending the constitution so that he can run for a third term, President Joseph Kabila is pushing for a new one. He has assigned the task of draftin...

Poor prospects ahead

The IMF predicts 6% growth but poverty still rises. Sassou has high hopes for Special Economic Zones as the end of oil looms

Between the lines, the International Monetary Fund's latest analysis of Congo-Brazzaville's economy reveals a meagre record of economic achievements for the decades of rule by Pres...


Changing faces

It looks as if the one-time external security boss, General Fernando Garcia Miala, is being groomed for a key role in the Palace. Sacked in 2006 from the Serviços de Intelig...

MINUSMA minus one

Albert Gerard 'Bert' Koenders, the United Nations Secretary General's Special Representative in Mali, may soon be en route to the Hague, where he is seen as the favourite for Nethe...

Nuclear secrets

A US$50 billion agreement with Russia to build up to eight nuclear reactors has raised the alarm in South Africa about the speed and secrecy with which the 'strategic partnership' ...