THE RACE TO REVIVE AFRICA’S NATIONAL AIRLINES

By Paul Ndiho

Air transport in Africa is critical in facilitating business, international trade, and tourism.  Across the continent, several countries are racing to relaunch their defunct national carriers even though these airlines were not profitable and survived on government financial support to stay solvent. The International Air Transport Association says Ethiopian Airlines is arguably Africa’s most successful airline — it leads the continent’s air carriers in revenues, the number of aircraft, routes operated in Africa and profitability. Ethiopian Airlines has the goal to become Africa’s largest Airline by 2025.
Industry analysts say the growth of Ethiopian Airlines is outpacing its regional competitors to become Africa’s largest airline with a fleet of over 100 planes.  The carrier services dozens of destinations in Africa, Asia, South America, and the United States.
“Airlines are now growing 5-6 percent, a maximum of 10 percent in any part of the world. But we are growing 20 percent plus. So this is impressive in any standard in the industry.”
Screen Shot 2019-06-13 at 8.04.23 AM

Despite the success of Ethiopian Airlines, other regional carriers have not been as successful.  The International Air Transport Association says the aviation industry overall is expected to make significant profits in 2019, but African airlines are projected to continue losing money.
For example, In 2017, Kenya Airways lost money despite cutting its losses by 51 percent to $97 million compared with $250 million posted the previous year.

Last October, Kenya Airways announced its first ever direct nonstop flight from Nairobi to New York.  The carrier operates the route using the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft.  The transatlantic flight is part of an effort to revive the airline’s fortunes, after it nearly collapsed, leading to a $2 billion restructuring in November that included a government bailout, which reduced the stake of Air France and KLM in the African carrier.

“This is, roughly this is 10 percent, this is going to increase 2019 revenues by roughly 10 percent of what we have today.”

South African Airways another intercontinental national carrier has also not been profitable. The airline has lost billions of dollars in the last seven years, recording a loss of $153 million in 2017.  Critics say that without a government bailout, the airline unlikely to survive.  However, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s is pledging to fully revive the troubled national carrier.

Uganda is trying to revive and relaunch Uganda Airlines, nearly two decades after the national carrier collapsed.  Ephraim Bagenda is the CEO of Uganda Airlines.

“Commercial operation will start the beginning of July this year. And we will start with a few routes. We intend to have 21 destinations eventually, but we shall start slowly.”

Air Tanzania bounced back, announcing the purchase of a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner package valued at $224 million. It’s slated to be flagship aircraft for Air Tanzania fleet – ‘The Wings of Kilimanjaro.’ The 787 is costly to maintain and could cost Tanzanian taxpayers millions of dollars.

Later this month Air Tanzania – Boeing 787-8 will launch four weekly flights between Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg and in July 2019 another additional flight between Dar es Salaam and Mumbai.

RwandAir, the state-owned flagship carrier of Rwanda, operates domestic and international flights across Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia from its headquarters at Kigali International Airport. But some critics say RwandAir may be too optimistic with its financial expectations and is operating on losses.

Advertisements

ESPORTS GAMING TAKES ROOT IN KENYA

By Paul Ndiho

Kenya is gearing up to host the inaugural Africa Esports Championship in Nairobi in August this year, and younger players have already participated in several leagues in the build-up. Kenyan gaming events companies are hoping to cash in and become significant players in the global arena.  

esports kenya

The global gaming industry valued at over US$135 billion, has Kenya’s budding gamer’s sights set on honing their gaming skills to build professional careers as the fast-growing industry continues to create opportunities on several fronts.

Video gaming form of entertainment, and has even grown to become a spectator sport.  At a club in Nairobi, players recently had a chance to battle it out in the Kenya National League of the Africa Esports Championships.

Gaming has become a big business and has given rise to games being played in tournaments that offer impressive amounts of prize money.

“If you look at countries like those in the West and Asia, esports has become a full-time occupation. Where you have dedicated athletes who compete in games, so I can list some of them like, ‘League of Legends’ has a dedicated league. ‘Over Watch’ in multiple continents, whereby the players are paid a stipend, and they also earn money from endorsements they receive from sponsors and corporate investors, and this has now changed the landscape of the sport, where people are taking it far more seriously, like an actual sport,”

Esports already boasts an estimated 250 million players worldwide in a growing market worth about US$1 billion. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognized esports in 2017 as a sports activity, but the IOC maintains that the structure of esports and its focus on commercialization currently hamper immediate hopes of inclusion in the Games.

Sylvia Wahome also is known as ‘Queen Arrow’ in gaming circles, is Kenya’s first female professional gamer and is currently signed up with a US-based esports XiT Woundz team.

“I see myself becoming one of the most recognized esports athletes not just because of my gender and because of my skill, yeah because I am taking the slow and gradual steps to improve in my gameplay,”

Esports is the competitive side of electronic gaming, with multiple players battling against each other usually in teams, often in matches that are streamed live to crowds of young fans

“Well yes, with the growth of the industry especially at the numbers that the industry is growing in the international market, I believe that esports will be a career option very soon in Kenya,”

Several African countries are well positioned to benefit from gaming because of their youthful population and broadband access. Talent managers are also seizing the opportunity to nurture professional gamers.

“We know there are quite many talented players already, so as the sessions grow as the competitions expand, we feel like we are going to capture quite some talented players that will enable Kenya to compete against the best in the world,”

Global esports revenues are expected to hit $US1.1 billion in 2019, up 27 percent since last year amid ballooning revenues from advertising, sponsorship and media rights to competitive video gaming, according to a report from Newzoo, a gaming industry analytics firm.

ANALYSIS OF MALAWI AND SOUTH AFRICAN ELECTIONS

 

By Paul Ndiho

Cyril Ramaphosa South Africa’s president was sworn in as last month vowing to create jobs and tackle deep-rooted corruption that has stifled economic growth. Meanwhile,

Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika took the oath of office and allegiance after winning the country’s May 21 elections. He called on his opponents to accept the results.

Malawi Elections

Newly-elected South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says he is committed to tackling severe challenges the country faced at his inauguration ceremony in Pretoria.  He committed being sworn in as South Africa’s fifth president since the end of Apartheid in 1994.

Ramaphosa pledged to root out corruption and to address socio-economic problems plaguing South Africa. And also announced a new, leaner cabinet for South Africa.

As he looks to meet a pre-election pledge to reform and revive an ailing economy and attract foreign investment.

Half of those appointed are women, making the country the third on the continent, after Ethiopia and Rwanda, to achieve gender parity among its ministers.

“All South Africans are acutely aware of the great economic difficulties that our country is going through right now, but they’re also aware of the constraints that have been placed on our public finances. It is therefore imperative that in all areas and spheres of government, we place a priority on revitalizing our economy, while at the same time exercising great care in the use of public funds.”

A political analyst says having a small cabinet was good for business and investment, showing a sign of decisiveness and political stability.

 

    “The cabinet shows a certain level of dynamism. It’s efficient, and it’s meant to bring in elicit new ideas from people who were never there. Getting rid of the old tired bodies perhaps? So, there’s a heralding of dynamism, something new, right? Which is in keeping with the president’s theme of renewal.”

Ramaphosa’s African National Congress (ANC) clinched a 57.5% majority in a general election earlier in May, down from 62% in 2014 as voters turned against the ruling party due to revelations about government corruption and record unemployment.

Meanwhile, in Malawi, Peter Mutharika was sworn in as president of Malawi for a second term on Tuesday last week after a contentious election marred by allegations of fraud and vote-rigging.

The Malawi Electoral Commission announced that Peter Mutharika, of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), won 38.57 percent against former evangelist Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) on 35.41 percent — a gap of just 159,000 votes.

“Thank you, Malawians for re-electing me as your president for the next five years.” “There is a time to argue and a time to agree. There is a time to pursue our past and goal and a time to pursue our collective national goal. This is a time to unite and develop this country.”

Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda conducted the swearing-in ceremony in Blantyre’s Kamuzu Banda sports stadium.

Malawi’s opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera on Friday rejected the result of last week’s presidential election, saying he had launched a court battle to have the vote annulled on the grounds of fraud.

“I reject the Malawi Electoral Commission’s fraudulent presidential results,” Chakwera said in a statement. What we have witnessed in front of our very eyes is not an election, but daylight robbery, a crime against our decency as a people and our democracy as a nation.”

Chakwera lost the election by just 159,000 votes to incumbent Peter Mutharika, who was hurriedly sworn into office the day after the delayed result was issued. Third-placed presidential contender Saulos Chilima who garnered  20.24 percent, of the vote. Chilima was a vice president and member of the ruling party but quit last year to form the youth-focused United Transformation Movement.

Malawi has a “winner-takes-all” system, and in 2014 Mutharika also narrowly beat Chakwera, by a small margin.  Mutharika came to power vowing to tackle corruption after the “Cashgate” scandal a year earlier revealed massive looting from state coffers.

But he has faced corruption allegations himself. Last November, he was forced to return a $200,000 (180,000-euro) donation from a businessperson facing corruption charges in a $3-million contract to supply food to the Malawi police. 

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS IN UGANDA

By Paul Ndiho,

The Buganda Kingdom plays a significant role in Uganda. Since the restoration of traditional Kingdoms in 1993, this cultural institution has served as an essential support-base for politicians running for office, spearheading cultural and development programs within the country. bugandakingdom2_7215799c70b647366cee70ca8357fe6f_650x400.resized

At the top of Mengo Hill in Uganda’s bustling capital Kampala, the Bulange palace – home of the Buganda Kingdom symbolizes the country’s rich history of the monarchy.

The Buganda Kingdom is one of four Ugandan kingdoms and perhaps the most influential politically and strategically.   Cultural institutions are not supposed to have any “real” political power — but Buganda, with a population of nearly six million people, is more than a cultural institution – it is a political force.

Buganda has embarked on the social and economic and infrastructure transformation that sets the bar for the rest of the country. Charles Peter Mayiga, the Prime Minister or commonly known as the “Katikiro” has been at the center of development programs.

The Buganda Kingdom boasts of the largest ethnic community “Baganda,” and they pride themselves as having a unique culture, good morals, and close association with the other clans to boot.  Margaret Muwonge is one of the 11 representatives of the Kingdom in North America. She explains.

“The Kabaka is what I would call the custodian of the screed trust of Buganda. He does not come in to rule over the people. He comes in to mingle and look at his people and direct them and inspire them. He does not give them orders. What he does is to listen, and that’s why he deploys all of us everywhere in the Diaspora.”

The Katikiro, the Kings representative, is visiting the Washington, D.C. area to meet and mingle with members of the Bugandan ethnic community from different parts of North America.  His mission is to meet and listen to the king’s subjects and then report back to the king.

“People look up to him because they revere the trust, they revere him, and that’s why you see them kneeling. They do not kneel to the man; they kneel to that entity of what he represents.”

The Baganda were instrumental in the current Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni’s rise to power 33 years ago.  Museveni based his five-year military struggle in the kingdom’s heartland in Luwero.   Since then, the Baganda have supported and helped him to stay in power.

But a long-simmering dispute over land and power between President Yoweri Museveni’s government and the Buganda kingdom has persisted for a long time.  The Kabaka wants more autonomous control over resources in his kingdom, such as land and taxes, but the government says he is only a cultural figure and must steer clear of politics.

The disputes over land and power with Buganda sparked violent protests in 2009 that killed dozens of people.  Demonstrators,  mostly youth from the Baganda tribe, blocked roads, and set fire to vehicles and tires, protesting the decision to block the Kabaka, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, from visiting a part of his kingdom, the Kayunga district in the eastern part of Buganda.

A couple of months later, fire gutted a mausoleum was built in 1860 and destroyed much of the Kasubi Tombs, the final resting place of the kings of Buganda and a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The cause of the blaze was never determined and the reconstruction of the tombs is still ongoing.

TECH COMPANIES BETTING ON AFRICA

 

By Paul Ndiho

U.S. Technology giants are betting big on Africa.  Microsoft, Facebook, and Uber are investing and opening development centers on the continent where they will train software engineers, build an ecosystem and tap into the burgeoning market for tech startups. index

Microsoft is planning to invest $100 million to open an Africa technology development center with locations in Nigeria and Kenya over the next five years. This is Microsoft’s first development center on the African continent.

“The future of the world in terms of the labor workforce is here in Africa, and we started working about the infrastructure that is needed to un-taped that opportunity, and allow all the African countries to do the bridging in the details cap. So one of the things we created is; first we announced, like two months ago, a full data center in South Africa that creates infrastructure.”

Microsoft says it expects to hire more than 100 local engineers to work in the new Africa facilities in both countries to customize its applications for the African market and to develop new ones for the continent and beyond.

“From a dollar standpoint, we are talking about 100 million dollars investment, between infrastructure and people. But the most important part is not about that; it is the ripple effect we will create in the ecosystem, with the university, with the governments, and with the startups.”

Global tech giants, including Facebook and Uber are planning to take advantage of Africa’s young population interested in the technology sector.

Facebook founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg is no stranger to investing in Africa.  Speaking to young techies in 2016, at Yaba, a tech enclave in Nigeria’s sprawling commercial capital, Zuckerberg said that Facebook was looking to better support tech development and entrepreneurship across Africa.

“The service needs to load quickly, right? If people want to use the service, it’s going to take half a minute to load, so we have to make sure that works on all these different network conditions around the world. That’s a big part of our job too, and we take all this seriously,”

In 2018, Facebook launched its first Africa community hub for innovative startups in Lagos. The tech giant plans to train 50,000 young entrepreneurs and creative developers in digital technology.

“It’s really about an investment in Nigeria, an investment in the tech ecosystem, it’s also about supporting businesses, developers, creative, entrepreneurs, with training specifically curated training that will give them the digital skills they need to succeed.”

Uber uses a transport service app that allows users to order ride services. Uber is also betting big in Africa, operating in 15 major African cities and offering employment to more than 100,000 drivers.

Last year, the company struck a loan and discount deals with Japanese carmaker Suzuki for its Alto compact cars — and with the South African-based Stanbic Bank.

“We enable their business, give them an opportunity to access what the partnership can’t offer, and at the same time we take them on a journey to start learning how to run that business, how to grow it, and actually we believe we should be able to access the 6,000 drivers that Uber has on the platform,”

Uber’s ambition is to dominate Africa’s transportation sector. The company’s deal with Alto in Kenya, is expected to soon be extended to Uganda and Tanzania, offering 100 percent car financing for top-rated Uber drivers at a price just over eight-thousand dollars.  The loans are to repay with the money the driver earns providing services.

THE ROLE OF AFRICAN DIASPORA

By Paul Ndiho

The African Union defines its diaspora as people of African origin living outside the continent.  The United States and other nations have created initiatives and opportunities to engage directly with the African Diaspora. Fest Africa 2015 PKG

The term African diaspora is diverse, multi-faceted, multi-generational demographic irrespective of their citizenship and nationality.

The diaspora can be a powerful force for the development of Africa, especially through remittances. But perhaps more importantly, through the promotion of trade, investments, research, innovation — and knowledge and technology transfers.

Remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa grew almost 10 percent to $46 billion in 2018, according to the World Bank’s latest Migration and Development Brief.

Margaret Muwonge, a native of Uganda, mobilizes her community to fundraise and collectively send money back home to help communities.

“A lot of money is being remitted back home and that is done individually, and it has a lot of impacts because it’s even a factor in the national budget. But if all these resources are leveraged collectively, the effect is much significant. Because you’re not targeting an individual family, a brother or sister. You’re targeting a community, and the positive impact is that population will benefit.”

Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation after Nigeria, is arguably one of the fastest growing economies largely due to its diaspora and the countries new policies encouraging them to return home.

For example, this newly opened hotel is owned by an Ethiopian couple who migrated back from Washington D.C.  It’s part of a growing series of businesses started by Ethiopians returning from the Diaspora to invest in their native land.

 “We wanted to create something new here in Ethiopia that has never been seen before. One of the unique things about the Washington Hotel is our Presidential Penthouse Suite. It is unique because the construction was done in a very dynamic way that separates us from any other hotel here in Ethiopia.”

 Business officials say the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, home to the Africa Union headquarters, has tripled its number of hotels in the last three years. New roads and buildings are now a regular part of the city’s landscape.  The construction industry is being driven by the country’s growing economy and Ethiopians returning from abroad.

“The technology flow coming from abroad coming through the diaspora will be, in a human aspect, soft skill and also management aspect and also in a hardware aspect.”

Another area where the diaspora is shaping the narrative is the documentation of the African story.   In the Gambia, the Fyen Network, a foundation run by a family of Gambian women in the diaspora, is promoting literacy and education back home.  Anna Fye, her two sisters, and their mother, Lucy Fye, started Fyen in 2007 as a hobby, but it has grown into a powerful tool to influence young children and help them discover their heritage.

“Africans need to take over the narrative of telling the African story. We want to use the African experience, the African voice, the African perspective, to teach others, but also ourselves. So we can be proud to say here is a children’s series written by Africans for African children and of course, the rest of the world can also learn from it.”

As diaspora groups continue advocating for democracy and human rights across the continent -Africa’s most powerful resource is proving to be the caring attitude of its people.

USING DRONES TO SAVE LIVES IN AFRICA

 

By Paul Ndiho

countries are experimenting with drones to deliver on-demand emergency medical supplies to remote areas. The use of drones appears to saving lives. How Rwanda Built A Drone Delivery Service-1

For an aspiring drone pilot, racing unmanned aerial vehicles in my neighborhood or empty parking lots is a new hobby, and I still have a lot to learn. Perhaps, I should not quit my day job as a journalist anytime soon.

In the United States, three main steps must be taken to become a certified commercial drone pilot. Step one; you must learn the rules as required by the Federal Aviation Administration. Step two; you must pass the knowledge test required by the FAA and Step three; you must register your drone with the FAA.

A San Francisco, California-based tech firm Zipline is changing the way people use drones. The company has a fleet of drones that carry medical supplies to remote areas in Africa.

Earlier this month, Ghana became the second African country after Rwanda to launch a fleet of drones carrying medical supplies to remote areas. The drones are part of an ambitious plan to solve the problem of medical access in a country with poor roads. Dr. Wiredu, medical superintendent, Tafo government hospital:

“With the Zipline and this provision of drone technology we believe very much that if we have to bring things on an emergency basis, it is going to be easier for us. Within a very short time like where we find ourselves in the New Tafo government hospital in 30 minutes, we have this product delivered to you.”

Zipline is quickly becoming one of the world’s largest independent logistics networks, providing nearly 13 million people with instant access to essential medicines and revolutionizing access to healthcare with a cost-effective drone delivery network.

Millions of people across the world — in both developed and developing countries — die each year because they can’t get the medicine they need when they need it,”

Zipline’s drones have been flying test runs with blood and vaccines, at the main drone base in Omenako, 70 kilometers north of Accra, one of the company’s four distribution centers.  Zipline says the three other sites should be up and running by the end of 2019.

“When people are in urgent need when their life is on the line, and the hospital might not have the blood or the medicine they need to stay alive, we can get that medicine to them in 15 or 20 minutes by sending a drone and airdropping a package of medicine to the hospital”

Zipline began its African journey in Rwanda in 2016, delivering blood and medicine in Rwanda. That success has inspired other African countries to tap into the technology.   In 2016, Malawi’s government launched Africa’s first drone air corridor, to provide a controlled platform for drones to deliver needed services to communities.

UNICEF-Malawi primarily supports the testing corridor as a pilot project using unmanned aircraft systems for transporting dried blood samples for the early diagnosis of HIV in infants.

In Madagascar, drones fly blood and laboratory materials from rural villages to a research station for testing. The drones help doctors speed up the identification of disease in patients and make quick deliveries of vaccines.

Some commercial drones are already being used to monitor crops, inspect bridges and transmission lines, and assist firefighters and police officers and film movies. As for Zipline’s future, the sky is the limit!

 

MALAWIANS TO VOTE IN GENERAL ELECTIONS ON MAY 21, 2019

 

By Paul Ndiho and Lameck Masina

Voters in Malawi head to the polls on May 21st.  Political observers are predicting a tight battle for the presidency between incumbent Peter Mutharika and several top opposition candidates. Malawi vice president Saulos Chilima -1

Campaigning in Malawi’s upcoming election is entering its final stages as voters prepare to elect a president, members of parliament and local councilors.

President Peter Mutharika, of the Democratic Progressive Party, has told thousands of his supporters that he will continue to act on his election promises, convincing his backers that he will emerge from the poll the winner in a landslide.

But allegations of corruption continue to hover over his campaign.  The government denies the accusations — and Mutharika’s supporters appear to be unmoved by the corruption claims.

“I just want him to continue from where he started because he has been building a lot of infrastructures, encouraging people in terms of education, helping some people’s careers, yeah, so I am expecting much from him.”

One of President Mutharika’s top rivals in this election is Lazarus Chakwera, of the Malawi Congress Party.  Chakwera, claims Mutharika is failing Malawi’s citizens.  More that 50 percent of the country’s 18 million people are living below the poverty line, unemployment is rampant — life expectancy is low — and the infant mortality rate is high.  An estimated one-million Malawians are living with HIV and over 770-thousand children are orphaned, many due to AIDS, according to USAID.  But Mutharika’s supporters say they sticking by their man.

“I am going to vote for Lazarus Chakwera [leader of opposition Malawi Congress Party, or MCP] because his manifesto is good for me.””I am supporting MCP, but I feel that the voted were being rigged already. So if MEC is serious about producing good results that people will indeed vote for change.”

Vice President Saulos Chilima is hoping to win power as head of a new opposition party, the United Transformation Movement.  Political analysts say Chilima is seen as the biggest threat to both Mutharika and Chakwera.   Chilima has a large following of young people who want change from the current administration.

“I think Mr. Saulos Chilima will win and the reason behind this is according to statistics 60 percent of the people who are going to vote are the youths. Now, most of the youths want Dr. Chilima.
“We have had a lot of politicians who were cheating us. And I see I have to vote for those who are giving me hope so that they should develop our country.”

Many Malawians remain undecided for whom to vote as president… Zainabu Mangani is one of them.

“Malawi will remain the same because these politicians are selfish! What can I say? Because they are all the same what they know is to feed their stomach they are not even concerned about our lives they are not even concerned about our welfare. So I don’t want to vote for those people.”
Voter turnout may be the key to winning the presidential poll and the real impact of this election will only be known once the ballots are counted.

 

SOUTH AFRICA DECIDES 2019

By Paul Ndiho

The Electoral Commission of South Africa says nearly 27 million people have registered to vote in today’s National Assembly and provincial legislature elections. The number of people registered to vote represents about 75 percent of the eligible population.

162311fe-new-tsa-cover-image-1200x858-17
The stakes are high as South African voters cast their ballots in today’s in general elections.  This is the sixth election held since the end of the apartheid system — and it will determine who will become the nation’s next president.
The poll also marks the 25th anniversary of the country’s iconic 1994 elections which saw the African National Congress party – with Nelson Mandela at the helm – arrive at the forefront of the nation’s political landscape. But now the A-N-C is facing an uphill battle to retain its dominance amid a series of corruption scandals. South Africa’s president says he determined to clean-up his country.
“We want to rid our country of corruption, and we want to rid our country of the wrongdoing that has been happening in the past few years. Comrades we’re not turning back… Corruption comrades are not only corruption against the state; it is corruption against the people of South Africa.”


Political analysts say comments like these from the president have only adds fuel to the opposition – and their campaigning fire.
“He (Ramaphosa) says ‘we stole from your future, give us a chance to steal even more.'”
Julius Malema, leader of South Africa’s far-left Economic Freedom Fighters party, has also taken to attacking government corruption.
“There’s too much money in South Africa (that) is wasted by politicians…Let’s save money! What do you want to do with that money Malema? I want to give those grannies, and I want to give their children that money removed from the pockets of politicians.”
The fight over land reform remains a hot topic as people cast their ballots. South Africa is considering changes to its constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without an explicit plan for compensation. Struggling farmer Meshack Ncongwane was a life-long supporter of the ANC, but he says the party will not have his vote in this election.
“We see corruption being investigated, but no one is being arrested. If it were me, I would have long been in jail, that’s the painful part.”
Young South Africans make up the majority of eligible voters, but they are finding it difficult to find jobs. The nation’s youth unemployment rate is hovering at 53 percent, ranked among the highest in the world. Kgomotso Sebabi, has two bachelor’s degrees, but she says it is still tough to find a job in her field.
“You go to school, and then once you are qualified you sit with a whole stack of certificates that you can’t actually use, but then you can see within the public sector that here I can make a contribution, here I can make a contribution, but it’s like they are just not hiring the correct candidates.”
Tswelopele Maputla, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Rhodes University, but she feels like she’s been duped into believing education is the answer to poverty.
“I feel scammed, because in so many of these (election) campaigns, right, they talk about unemployment, they talk about poverty alleviation, they talk about gender-based violence, but it’s all a talk shop. And I genuinely feel like you are trying to target the youth, but even the representation in most parties – there are no young people in some of these parties even.”
The government repeatedly vows, especially on the elections campaign trail, to create desperately needed jobs. Political observers say that this election is like no other because for the last 25 years, the ANC has never really been challenged at the polls. But it has also never been as tainted by controversy and corruption as it has been in the last few years.
Paired with the risk of a low voter turnout, the real impact of this election will only be seen as the ballots are counted.

Press Freedom In Africa

By Paul Ndiho

Across Africa young people are standing up to the abuse of power by mobilizing widespread protests against their respective governments. Some longtime leaders are becoming fearful of these uprisings and are hitting back by stifling freedom of speech and shutting down access to the internet and social media networks. Uganda Journalists-1

In its annual report, Freedom House, an independent watchdog group dedicated to the freedom of expression, freedom of the press and democracy around the world, says democracy is in retreat in 2019.  More authoritarian governments are now banning opposition groups or jailing their leaders, eliminating term limits and restricting the use of the internet and independent media.

Jon Termin, the Director of Africa programs at Freedom House, appearing on VOA’S Straight Talk Africa says Angola and Ethiopia — both historically closed countries that were previously ruled by autocratic leaders, are expressing a commitment to much-needed reforms.

“The picture for Africa is a mixed one. There are some concerning countries…but I also want to point out that they’re two countries in particular  Ethiopia and Angola that has undergone a very serious turn around in the last year. Both of those countries Ethiopia and Angola have seen a significant increase in our annual ratings.”

Zimbabwe’s status has improved from the Not Free to Partly Free category because the 2018 presidential election, though flawed, granted a degree of legitimacy to the rule of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who seized power after the military forced the resignation in 2017 of former longtime leader Robert Mugabe.

The right to freedom of assembly appears to be the exception, rather than the rule, as young people advocate for democratic values, self-determination, and freedoms in Sudan. Their determined push led to the recent ouster of former leader Omar Al-Bashir.

Despite some gains, several of the continent’s aging authoritarian leaders continue to cling to power.  In Cameroon, President Paul Biya, now in office for 36 years, was re-elected after presiding over elections in 2018 that were marred by allegations of fraud and low voter turnout.

In Uganda, long- time leader President Yoweri Museveni’s regime in office for 32 years—oversaw the removal of a presidential age cap from the constitution, allowing him to run for a sixth term in 2021.   He has also sought to curb dissent by arresting opposition leaders Kiiza Besigye and pop star turned politician Bobi Wine.

The rights group “Internet Without Borders” says efforts by governments across Africa to deliberately sever online access to silence dissent over various issues is on the rise.

” It’s worrying because it’s not just an internet shutdown, it’s a triggering of more serious human rights violations,”

In its 2019 press freedom report, the right of freedom of expression and free media remains in jeopardy in Burundi.   In March, Burundian authorities charged three schoolgirls with defacing a picture of President Pierre Nkurunziza by scribbling over images of him printed in their school textbooks.

In another development,  the Voice of America and the British Broadcasting Corporation are both barred from broadcasting in Burundi. In March, Burundi’s media regulator, the National Communication Council announced that it had withdrawn the operating license for the BBC and renewed its suspension of the VOA, the ban extends to journalists, both foreign and domestic, who provide information to either broadcaster.

Meanwhile, U.S. lawmakers are urging Congress to pass and quickly implement the Global Fragility and Violence Reduction Act on Burundi in an effort to avoid any escalation of another political and humanitarian crisis as the 2020 election approaches.

In Rwanda, to avoid running afoul of the regime, censorship and self-censorship is the norm, rather than the exception.  Rwanda’s Supreme Court, last week, repealed a law that banned the publication of political cartoons, while upholding another that punishes any person who insults or defames the president of the republic. Breaking this law could land the person in prison for at least five years.

Rwanda ranked 155th out of 180 in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index released last month.

In South Africa, however, people are optimistic about their press freedom as they celebrated the 25th anniversary of the end of apartheid.

” The right to elect the leaders we want. To be free also means we must exercise, not just our right, but our responsibility to wake up and elect leaders. People died so that we can have this freedom. Freedom was not free.”

Ghanaian, Journalist Eugene Selorm Owusu says perhaps without a free press there would be no democracy in Ghana.

“In Ghana press freedom plays a significant role, In shaping the political discourse in Ghana. It acts as the watchdog on all government institutions and journalists in the country often go undercover to uncover the untold stories going on in the country. And without a free press, this wouldn’t be possible. Without a free press, there would be no democracy in Ghana.”

Freedom House has ranked the Central African Republic, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, and Eritrea among the worst performing countries on freedom of expression and press freedom.

 

« Older Entries