Monday, 16 July 2018

ERITREA/ETHIOPIA: President Issayas's historic visit to Addis Ababa leaves some tough questions about the pace of rapprochement

More dramatic developments in Ethiopia this week, with the arrival of Eritrea's President Issayas in Addis Ababa. Kayode Fayemi's victory in the Ekiti State governorship election boosts the Buhari government and is a blow to opposition plans. Despite the mounting security and economic crisis in Cameroon, President Paul Biya is to vie for a seventh term. And China's President Xi Jinping is embarking on an Africa tour this week, taking in a BRICS summit in South Africa.

ERITREA/ETHIOPIA: President Issayas's historic visit to Addis Ababa leaves some tough questions about the pace of rapprochement
On Wednesday (18 July), an Ethiopian Airlines passenger jet will make the first scheduled commercial flight to Asmara, Eritrea in 18 years. It will be a powerful symbol of the rapprochement between the two countries which stepped up a gear on 4 June with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's announcement that Ethiopia would withdraw its troops from the disputed area and accept the ruling of the international border commission.

Today (16 July), President Issayas Aferwerki, who is visiting Addis Ababa for the first time in over two decades, reopens the Eritrean embassy in the Ethiopian capital. His visit reciprocates Abiy's trip to Asmara a week ago. Full diplomatic and commercial relations have been restored. Ethiopia will be able to use Eritrea's ports again, speeding up trade and earning much-needed revenues for Issayas's government. It could also revive investor interest in a potash-development that straddles the border area.

But the hectic rapprochement raises some tough political questions. Peace with Ethiopia cuts through the rationale for Eritrea's compulsory national service programme, which has driven tens of thousands of young men and women to flee the country. Eritrean oppositionists want the end of conscription, the opening up of the political system, and the release of the thousands of political prisoners. They may be encouraged by the moves towards political liberalisation that they see in Ethiopia under Abiy's leadership, which started with a mass release of political prisoners.

Issayas experienced the new climate in Ethiopia first-hand when he attended a welcome meeting of 20,000 people in Addis Ababa on Sunday (15 July). Later, Abiy took him to meet regional leaders in Hawasa, in southern Ethiopia. Although Abiy's charm offensive has worked with Issayas there are still questions about the enthusiasm of Ethiopia's security forces for the changes.

Old guard politicians and military officers are uneasy with Abiy's political style, pushing initiatives publicly and communicating directly with citizens, as when he addressed a crowd of over 700,000 in Meskel Square in Addis at the beginning of June. That carries its own risks, as shown by a clumsy attempt to assassinate him at the rally.

NIGERIA: Fayemi wins governorship in Ekiti State, boosting Buhari and ruling party
Winning the governorship of Ekiti State by 20,000 votes in elections on Saturday (14 July), Kayode Fayemi has struck a blow against the new opposition coalition's plan to expand its support across the country, from its base in the south-south and south-east. Fayemi's victory means that the governing All Progressives' Congress (APC) now controls all the states in the south-west, a region that the opposition coalition had been targeting.

The APC had thrown heavy resources into the campaign, with visits from top-level officials to the state, after Fayemi had decided to resign as minister for mineral resources to contest for the Ekiti governorship. He had already served one term as governor, after a tortuous legal battle to prove that his opponents in the People's Democratic Party had rigged the vote.

Fayemi's victory also strengthens the hand of Bola Tinubu, the godfather of Lagos politics whose ally Opeyemi Bamidele directed Fayemi's campaign. It also means that President Buhari will fight the presidential elections next February with control of over two-thirds of the states.

The opposition has rejected the results in Ekiti, after the sitting governor, PDP stalwart Ayo Fayose tried to announce the victory of the party's candidate, Kolapo Olusola-Eleka, on the state government's radio station.

Much is at stake for Fayose. When his term as governor ends, he will lose his immunity from prosecution. On Sunday (15 July), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission announced it will open investigations into Fayose's management and use of public funds in a poultry project.

CAMEROON: As his country faces turmoil, Biya is to run for seventh term in October elections
Amid a mounting rebellion in the west of the country, the 85-year-old President Paul Biya says he will run for a seventh term in elections due on 7 October. His announcement followed a meeting with Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission, last Friday (13 July).

Although Biya rarely attends AU meetings he wants to stop the organisation referring the deepening security crisis in his country to its Peace and Security Council. Months of fighting between Anglophone dissidents in the south-west and government soldiers have caused tens of thousands of people to flee into neighbouring Nigeria.

Over 80 soldiers have been killed in the south-west in the past year and many more civilians. For several months the Biya govermment turned off the internet in the region to disrupt the dissidents' organisation. Human rights organisations have accused the government of atrocities in their bid to suppress dissent. So far, they have been unable to galvanise the attention of either Nigeria or France to pressure the Biya regime.
The day before Biya announced his candidacy, a convoy in the southwest carrying his defence minister Joseph Beti Assomo came under fire. The army claimed to have killed six of the assailants.

CHINA/AFRICA: President Xi Jinping takes off for eight-day tour of Africa and the Middle East
On his first foreign tour since his re-election in March, President Xi Jinping starts a swing through Africa and the Middle East on Thursday (19 July). First port of call will be the United Arab Emirates, which is an important staging post in Beijing's One Belt, One Road grand trade plan. Both China and the UAE are getting more involved in the politics and business of the Horn of Africa.

China has opened its first overseas naval base in Djibouti. One of the UAE's biggest companies, DP World, is in a bitter commercial dispute with President Omar Guelleh over billions of dollars in port dues.

Next on Xi's itinerary will be Senegal and then Rwanda, where President Paul Kagame's brand of authoritarian politics and dirigiste economic management have already found favour with Beijing.
Then, Xi is to attend the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in Johannesburg on 25-27 July, whose theme is 'BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution', which has been driven by President Cyril Ramaphosa's government. The summit is set to move from economic discussions to political and security questions. All BRICS members states are concerned about the implications of the United States-backed trade war and how to manage other regional threats.

After the summitry, Xi is to stop over in Mauritius on his way back to Beijing.


UGANDA: Critical vote on 26 July to determine Museveni's eligibility to run for another term

SOUTH SUDAN: Juba Parliament extends President Salva Kiir's term until 2021 and undermines negotiations

CONGO-KINSHASA: President Kabila appoints sanctioned military chiefs, snubbing Washington again after cancelled meeting

ZAMBIA: IMF team due in Lusaka this week to discuss rising debt levels

TUNISIA: President Béji Caïd Essebsi calls for Premier to step down or seek confidence vote to resolve crisis

Don't forget to check for our latest stories.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Two views of free trade

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa's call on Nigeria to speed up consultations on joining the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) reminded officials of the complexity of economic integration, at a time when the United States has launched a trade war with China, the rest of Asia, Europe, and its North American neighbours.

Although South Africa was not among the first cohort of ACFTA signatories when it was launched in Kigali in May, it has now signed up following discussions with local trade unions and corporations. Ramaphosa's officials argued that the treaty would open markets for South Africa's manufactured and processed goods, earning the country far more than it stood to lose from allowing in unprocessed farm exports from its neighbours.

Another set of interests was at play when Rampahosa, at the Afreximbank annual meeting in Abuja on 11 July, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to join the free trade area. Although Nigeria's economy is the biggest in Africa, and its 190 million people the continent's biggest market, economic cooperation with South Africa has been weak, hobbled by political and commercial disputes.

Many of Buhari's ministers agree, but Buhari is instinctively an economic nationalist, arguing that Nigeria's huge internal market makes possible a radical industrialisation policy including protection of local companies. He also fears the electoral consequences of an influx of cheap imports challenging local producers.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

CONGO-KINSHASA: President Kabila snubs US envoy Nikki Haley and UN chief over elections as churches plan protests for next month

We start in Kinshasa with the cancellation two high-level meetings and what this tells us about President Joseph Kabila's political plans. Then to Asmara for a breakthrough meeting between Eritrean President Issayas Aferwerki and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. There was a smaller breakthrough in Nigeria where 38 political parties have formed an opposition coalition to fight next year's elections. If it holds together, it could change everyone's calculations. And in Kampala, President Yoweri Museveni is considering a Chinese company's radical offer to become the national electricity provider.

CONGO-KINSHASA: President Kabila snubs US envoy Nikki Haley and UN chief over elections as churches plan protests for next month
Citing an extra demanding work schedule this week, President Joseph Kabila is unavailable for meetings either with United Nations Secretary General António Guterres or Nikki Haley, the United States Ambassador to the UN. Both have voiced concerns about political conditions in Congo-Kinshasa as evidence suggests that Kabila wants to extend his time in office.

Lambert Mende, Kabila's Information Minister, insists the fuss over the two meetings is misplaced while Haley and Guterres maintain a diplomatic silence. Guterres has been in Addis Ababa this week and was preparing to meet Kabila in Kinshasa later in the week.

So far, Kabila has steadfastly refused to say whether he plans to change the constitution and run for a third term. The Haley and Guterres meetings were due at a critical moment in the political calendar. Candidates for the presidential elections, scheduled to take place before the end of the year, are meant to register between 25 July and 8 August. If this goes ahead and nominations close without Kabila's intervention, it will be a critical signal.

Congo is one of the most important issues for Guterres this year: it houses the UN's biggest and costliest peacekeeping operation. UN staff fear the worsening political crisis could trigger fresh conflict across the country and beyond. The US has been stepping up sanctions on Kabila's allies accused of corruption but at the same time wants to cut its contribution to UN peacekeeping operations, such as Congo.

Next month, a coalition of Catholic church groups is to organise protests across the country to press Kabila to leave office and organise free elections. Previous protests by the group have met with heavy state repression.

ETHIOPIA/ERITREA: Issayas and Abiy speed up political and economic rapprochement after breakthrough meeting in Asmara
A month after Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that his government was to accept the 2000 peace agreement with Eritrea and withdraw troops from the border area, the two countries have reopened full diplomatic and commercial relations.

Although Abiy was warmly received during his ground-breaking visit to Asmara on Sunday (8 July), there are difficult details still to resolve on security arrangements, land rights and, perhaps, compensation. Of the two leaders, Issayas has the most to gain in the short term if Ethiopia can help his country end its isolation. Abiy's position is riskier, with some senior security officials said to be sceptical of the deal.

NIGERIA: People's Democratic Party agrees 38-party opposition alliance to step up campaign against President Buhari
After several dissidents left the governing All Progressives' Congress last week, the country's many opposition parties have been belatedly putting together a united front to prepare for elections due in February and March.

At the helm of this Coalition of Unity Political Parties is the PDP, which claims the coalition members are committing to agree on a common presidential candidate to challenge Buhari. Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar appears to have been leading the negotiations for the unity front, drawing on his political networks and cash reserves.

In the coming days, attention will focus on political heavyweights Senate President Bukola Saraki and former governor of Kano Rabiu Kwankwaso, who are said to be on the brink of quitting the governing APC. They would add great weight to the new coalition but would also be likely to want the presidential candidacy, competing with each other and Atiku for the nomination.

UGANDA: China's $3 billion bid for national power company could get President Museveni's backing
Such is President Museveni's dissatisfaction with the performance of the national electricity distributor, Umeme, that he is said to be considering terminating its concession, which was due to last until 2025. Instead, he has been examining a US$3 billion bid by the China Electric Power Equipment and Technology to supply and distribute Uganda's electricity.

It would be a bold move by both sides, getting China even more deeply involved in Uganda's economy. China already has substantial stakes in the local oil industry and is promising to use smart technology to improve the reliability of power supplies. But ending the concession held by the stock exchange-listed Umeme would shake the local financial markets could damage investor confidence.

The week ahead in very brief

SUDAN: Sacked spy chief Mohamed Atta appointed Ambassador to US to push negotiations on removing Khartoum from terror list

SOUTH AFRICA: Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane charged with corruption over links with the Gupta family and wielding political influence

ITALY/LIBYA: New government in Rome revives offer of $4 billion in investments if Tripoli agrees to accept returnee migrants

SOUTH AFRICA/UNITED STATES: New chief of McKinsey consultants apologises for links to graft scandal and admits it overcharged on power contract

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

AFRICAN UNION: Security and corruption top agenda of sparsely-attended summit in Nouakchott

We start this week in the Mauritanian capital, which has been hosting an African Union summit tasked with a tough agenda on regional security. The meeting crafted a compromise on Morocco and Western Sahara. Meanwhile, in Beijing, the Ministry of Defence has been hosting African military chiefs to discuss better cooperation and more arms sales. Finally, to Nairobi, where the recent political dramas have taken a new twist.

AFRICAN UNION: Security and corruption top agenda of sparsely-attended summit in NouakchottAbout 30 leaders, including Nigeria's Muhammadu Buhari and South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa, flew to Mauritania for an AU summit which ended yesterday (2 July) with a special session on regional security attended by France's President Emmanuel Macron. Three jihadist attacks over the past week in West Africa and Mogadishu concentrated minds on the subject.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, AU Commission chairman, also called for the organisation to take tough measures against  the warring parties in South Sudan after they had breached the terms of their latest ceasefire agreement, signed in Khartoum only last week.

Also on the AU agenda were deteriorating conditions in Congo-Kinshasa and Cameroon: the crises in both countries have been spilling over national borders. Neither Cameroon's Paul Biya nor Congo's Joseph Kabila attended the summit. They had been keen to keep their crises off the agenda.
The AU is to send a monitoring mission to Zimbabwe ahead of national elections due on 30 July. First, a short-term delegation will gauge whether the vote meets the required 'free and fair' criteria, and later it will also send a longer-term economic and political mission.

Summit host Mauritania's President Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz made much of the summit's anti-corruption agenda, even though his government doesn't have the strongest record here. There are questions about Abdel Aziz's political intentions: he seized power in a coup d'état in 2005 and the ensuing regime was initially put under AU and European sanctions. Subsequently Abdel Aziz organised elections and mended fences with both organisations. But many in Nouakchott believe he plans to stay in power beyond his two elected terms.

Macron's visit to the region was partly to send a message about France's  commitments to regional security, following his government's international fund-raising to support the G5 Sahel security alliance of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania.

The visit followed hard on the attack on the headquarters of the G5 in Sévaré, central Mali, with what looked like a truck bomb on 29 June, killing at least six people. The Groupe de soutien à Islam et aux musulmans (GSIM) led by Iyad Ag Ghali has claimed responsibility. Al Mourabitoune, which has launched several other attacks in the region, is part of the group.  And on Sunday (1 July), a group of jihadi fighters, also suspected to be from GSIM, killed four civilians after targeting a French military patrol near Gao in Mali.

Macron is due in Nigeria on 3-4 July to meet President Buhari in Abuja, and then commission the new Alliance Française building in Lagos, as well as preside over the launching of former President Olusegun Obasanjo's think-tank, the Africa Progress Group, in Ogun State. He is also due to visit The Afrika Shrine, established by Fela Anikulapo Kuti and now run by the late musician's sons, Femi and Seun.

MOROCCO/WESTERN SAHARA: AU will play a role in last-ditch UN talks over the future of Western SaharaWith the 55 members of the African Union still chronically divided over the future of the Western Sahara, African leaders in Nouakchott devised a painstaking compromise which gives their organisation a role in negotiations at the UN over the territory.

After joining the AU last year Morocco had hoped to make serious progress on consolidating its grip on Western Sahara. Its plan was to build up enough support within the AU to get the organisation to expel the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. That failed because two of the SADR's biggest supporters, Algeria and South Africa, are among the most powerful members of the AU.

South Africa was one of 11 African states which didn't support Morocco's bid to host the World Cup in 2026. Its courts also ruled that a 55,000-tonne shipment of phosphates despatched by Morocco but held in Algoa Bay in South Africa last year had been illegally mined in Western Sahara. The courts then turned the phosphates over to the SADR's Polisario Front.

Since then Morocco has taken a more emollient line in the AU. It won a seat on the Peace & Security Council and is winning support for its proposed reforms of the Council.

During the debate on Western Sahara Moussa Faki tried to steer a middle course between  South Africa/Algeria on one hand and Morocco on the other. However, the compromise means that AU delegates, and the AU envoy Joaquim Chissano, who is close to South Africa, will get involved in the debate at the UN over the extension of the Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (Minurso) and the possibility of direct talks organised by UN mediator Horst Köhler between Rabat and the SADR.

CHINA/AFRICA: Beijing hosts its own summit for Africa's military chiefsThe first China-Africa Defence and Security Forum (26 June-10 July) suggests that Beijing's military power and influence over security in Africa are growing as fast as its economic might. The two areas are closely linked for Beijing: it has ramped up its military presence in north-east Africa, opening a naval base in Djibouti in support of its One Belt, One Road trading network which links East Asia to Europe via Central Asia and East Africa.

Beijing's defence ministry says it's hosting this inaugural forum to focus on regional security and defence cooperation, and upgrading Africa's military capacity. China is stepping up its contribution to UN peacekeeping missions and pan-African security operations but it has increased arms sales and other military services to African states by over 50% between 2013-2017, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. China's share of arms exports to Africa has risen to 27% from 16% in those years. Its biggest customers are Algeria and Egypt, two of the most militarised regimes in the world.

KENYA: Raila Odinga's manoeuvres raise spectre of new political alliancesAlmost six months after the much-feted handshake between opposition leader Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta, there are signs that the opposition is regrouping around him. (In our next edition, Africa Confidential will be carrying a detailed analysis of how insiders think the Odinga-Kenyatta deal has changed the country's political dynamics.)

Odinga has convened several important meetings recently: one, with Kenyatta's business and political supporters from the Mount Kenya region; and several reconciliation meetings with his erstwhile colleagues, Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi. Another former ally of Odinga's, Moses Wetangula, hasn't joined the meetings as he has teamed up with Vice-President William Ruto.


UGANDA: New tax on social media raises hackles in the opposition, civil society and among journalists

TANZANIA: President Magufuli appoints new ministers for Home Affairs and Security, Water and Infrastructure

COMMODITIES: Glencore's market value falls by $7.3 billion after the United States orders documents in fraud and money laundering probe

SOUTH AFRICA: Suspended tax chief Tom Moyane changes his defence tactics as government steps up investigations

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Deadly politics in the Middle Belt

As the ruling All Progressives' Congress held an exuberant convention in Abuja's Eagle Square on 23-24 June plotting victory in next year's elections, a few hundred miles to the north-east some 200 people were being slaughtered in clashes between farmers and herders in Plateau State. Yet the fall-out from these worsening clashes, which are spreading north and south from the Middle Belt, may prove more decisive than the political position-taking at party conventions. Along with the fast-rising death toll, the clashes are destroying agricultural production.

Although the herder-farmer clashes are currently the most serious security threat, none of the responses from the states or the centre are proving effective. Instead, the clashes are a debating point, with the opposition People's Democratic Party accusing the government of inaction or, worse, siding with the herders. A former minister of defence, General Theophilus Danjuma has accused army commanders of collusion with the herders, urging farmers to take up arms to defend themselves. That is now happening, with the number of local militias and vigilante groups increasing. In response, the APC accuses of the opposition of political point-scoring and exploiting misery. The bigger danger is that without a robust response, this crisis will further polarise the country along ethnic and religious lines. The rival political parties could prevent that by cooperating on a common security policy to address the causes and the effects of the herder-farmer confrontation.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

SIERRA LEONE: Incoming government uncovers massive fraud under Koroma's rule

This week, we wanted to let you know about another exclusive Africa Confidential report – this time on a devastating report on corruption and fraud in Sierra Leone over the past eight years. We also want to flag up upcoming coverage of the two assassination attempts – in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe – and their political implications.

SIERRA LEONE: Incoming government uncovers massive fraud under Koroma's rule
The new government's transition team has produced a 130-page report, seen by Africa Confidential, listing details of wholesale diversion of state funds, improper sale of public assets and serial fraud under the government of President Ernest Bai Koroma. We understand this sensitive report will arrive on the desk of new President Julius Maada Bio in the next few days but Africa Confidential will publish on 28 June its analysis of the winners and losers in what appears to have been a far-reaching system of political patronage.

It goes into details about the misuse of monies intended for education and the Ebola crisis, and illicit support for business people close to the then-ruling All People's Congress. The transition team has recommended a special investigation into the state's losses that could run into hundreds of millions billions of dollars.

One of the most extreme cases is the government's sale of its 30% stake in the profitable Sierra Rutile company in 2012 at an extremely low price. Africa Confidential has spoken to several people in the mining industry with knowledge of the transaction and will report on how the deal worked, who was involved and what could be its international consequences.

ETHIOPIA: Prime Minister Abiy pushes ahead with Eritrea rapprochement and reforms despite grenade attack
Sending a clear message, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to Addis Ababa Airport to welcome a delegation from Eritrea on 26 June arriving in Ethopia to open talks on implementing the Algiers Accord to end conclusively the border war between the two states.  This follows a grenade attack on Abiy on 23 June as he was addressing a rally of around 500,000 people in Meskel Square in the capital. Dozens, possibly over 100, were injured.

Several senior police officers have been arrested, apparently for negligence, in the wake of the attack but Abiy has gone on state television insisting that it would not derail his reforms which include opening up the economy and releasing thousands of prisoners. Last week, Abiy said the security services and police would end their brutal tactics under his government.  This follows an extensive reshuffle in the senior ranks of the security system. There are also signs of a new policy on

ZIMBABWE: Opposition sceptical about government calls for a peace pact in wake of attack on  President Mnangagwa
Nelson Chamisa, presidential candidate of the opposition MDC Alliance, has reiterated his doubts about the government's commitment to free and fair elections and characterised its call for a peace accord between the rival political parties as a stunt. Speaking to the BBC World Service on 26 June, Chamisa said the problem in Zimbabwe was mainly violence by the state against opposition parties and their supporters. Chamisa condemned the attack on Mnangagwa on 23 June, in which the government says that two people died, but said it was caused by faction-fighting within ZANU-PF.

Neither Mnangagwa nor Chamisa turned up at the signing of the peace accord on 26 June. Nor has the government or the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission responded to the MDC's concerns about the lack of access to the full electoral register and other restrictions, exacerbating concerns about the credibility of the election due on 20 July, acceptance of its results.


President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar open second round of peace talks in Khartoum under eyes of Sudan's President Omer el-Beshir and Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni

Civil servants' strike over pay and security could threaten the organisation of national elections due on 29 July after another spate of attacks in the central region

Plateau state imposes a curfew after herder-farmer clashes kill over 80 in weekend attacks raising fresh questions about central government's policies on the crisis

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

SOUTH AFRICA: Questions are asked about the goals of President Ramaphosa's purge of security agencies

We start in South Africa where President Ramaphosa's motives in reforming the security sector are being questioned, and then to Uganda where a big budget increase laying the ground for oil infrastructure includes a controversial proposal to tax social media. In Congo-Kinshasa, mining companies face adversity in-country, from new taxes, and internationally, from increased scrutiny. And then to Morocco and Nigeria which have just agreed on a new gas pipeline project, and finally to Cameroon where there are moves to postpone this year's presidential elections.

SOUTH AFRICA: Questions are asked about the goals of President Ramaphosa's purge of security agencies
A fight between Setlhomamaru Dintwe, Inspector-General of Intelligence, and former head of the State Security Agency (SSA) Arthur Fraser is raising doubts about whether President Cyril Ramaphosa is set on reforming these agencies and making them more accountable.

Before Ramaphosa became President, Fraser, a close ally of ex-President Jacob Zuma, had revoked Dintwe's security clearance after he had launched an investigation into the SSA. Fraser has been accused by investigative journalist Jaques Pauw of running an illegal network of agents and transferring classified data to his private computer. His activities were said to have cost the state 1 billion rand (US$73 million).

Although Ramaphosa has restored Dintwe's security clearance, the government is not backing a court order to stop further interference in the Inspector-General's work. Ramaphosa is also under fire from the opposition Democratic Alliance for transferring Fraser to a senior post in the Department of Correctional Services, rather than suspending him and launching an investigation into his record in Security.

UGANDA: A bumper budget as Museveni targets the tweeters In his 2018-19 budget
Finance Minister Matia Kasaija says he will increase spending by 13%, boosting security spending by 60%. About 15% of the budget is to go on roads and communications linked to the oil development schemes near Lake Albert. President Yoweri Museveni also wants a tax on social media use.

CONGO-KINSHASA: Tough times for mining companies as Kabila mulls succession plan
Mining companies have had a bad, certainly expensive time in Congo-K in the past month. Apart from the new, increased revised taxes and royalty payments just passed into law, some are also facing the long arm of international regulators.

Glencore, the world's biggest commodity trader, had a couple of costly problems. The first was to settle with its dispute with the Kinshasa government over finance and equity shares in the Kamoto Copper Company which is to produce 300,000 tonnes of copper and 34,000 tonnes of cobalt next year. Reluctantly, Glencore agreed to write off $5.6bn of debt in the project.

Glencore's other problem was to pay off Dan Gertler, its erstwhile business partner in Congo, who was suing it for $3bn for unpaid royalties owed on another mine. After talking to the United States government, which has  imposed sanctions against Gertler accusing him of grand corruption, Glencore hopes to circumvent Washington's penalties by paying royalties to him in Euros, rather than US dollars.

Meanwhile in Kinshasa, President Kabila's call on parliament to draft a law that would protect former presidents from prosecution is being taken as more evidence that he may consider leaving office this year, as scheduled.

MOROCCO/NIGERIA: Losing the World Cup, gaining a pipeline
Clumsy diplomacy may have cost Rabat its chance to host the 2026 World Cup – 11 African countries voted against it – but it is having more success on the business front.

Although Nigeria had opposed Morocco's bid to join the Economic Community of West African States, the two countries have initialled an agreement on a 5,660 kilometre pipeline which takes a circuitous offshore and onshore route via Mauritania. Announcements about the plan followed President Muhammadu Buhari's meeting with King Mohammed VI Rabat last week.

CAMEROON: Biya tries to postpone elections for a year
As the country's political crisis deepens, it has emerged that President Paul Biya has written to the Senate asking it to consider postponing presidential elections scheduled for October. The ostensible reason is that the crisis in the Anglophone regions have had very low voter registration.

Although 20% of Cameroonians are Anglophone, only 3% of the voters registered this year come from their community.


ETHIOPIA/SOMALIA: Premier Abiy and President Farmajo propose plan to invest in four ports on the Red Sea
KENYA: With its 26 million users, Safaricom wants to push back against higher taxes on mobile money payments
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Tennis star Boris Becker accused of taking Bangui envoy post to dodge London bankruptcy case