Saturday 23 September 2017
(Reuters (Eng) 07/20/17)
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Africa's major central banks are entering an easing cycle as they try to stimulate growth after months of drought, austerity drives and confidence issues across the continent, a Reuters poll found on Thursday. Much of southern and eastern Africa is still recovering after an El Niño-related drought wilted crops last year. Poor business confidence in South Africa and foreign exchange restrictions in Nigeria have also hampered growth. "We expect that African monetary policy is entering a widespread and protracted period of policy easing. This will provide a boost to growth," said John Ashbourne, Africa analyst at Capital Economics. Ghana, which agreed a three-year fiscal discipline deal with the International Monetary Fund in exchange for aid in 2015,...
(AFP (eng) 07/19/17)
Five UN peacekeepers' bases in the Democratic Republic of Congo are to close at the end of July, the UN mission there announced Wednesday, describing it as a change in operational style. But the closures come against the background of cuts to the overall peacekeeping budget pushed through under pressure from the United States. The bases, all in the restive eastern province of Nord Kivu, on the border with Rwanda and Uganda, will close by July 31, according to a statement from MONUSCO, the peacekeeping mission. "The new operational device consists in prioritizing flexibility and mobility in military interventions in line with the strategy adopted by the UN department of peace-keeping operations," said the statement. The new system would include...
(AFP (eng) 07/19/17)
UN experts say they are not ruling out the possible involvement of Democratic Republic of Congo state security forces in the murder of two of their colleagues. In a confidential report seen by AFP on Tuesday, the group of experts says it has conducted preliminary analysis of phone records, a video and interviews on the March 12 murder of American Michael Sharp and Swedish-Chilean Zaida Catalan. "The preliminary evidence does not yet allow the group to attribute responsibility for the murder," reads the report by the experts to the Security Council. "However, the available evidence does not preclude the involvement of different actors, such as pro- or anti-government Kamwina...
(Bloomberg 07/19/17)
Zoe Kabila, the brother of Congolese President Joseph Kabila, owns a business empire that encompasses everything from tourism to mining. His companies have sold diamonds, owned a luxury hotel on Congo’s Atlantic coast, built roads, invested in farming, set up a fast-food franchise and printed driver’s licenses, according to a review of corporate filings obtained by Bloomberg. That’s in addition to contracts and partnerships with Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. and Nzuri Copper Ltd. Zoe’s businesses, along with those of his siblings, have brought hundreds of millions of dollars to the Kabila clan, a Bloomberg investigation in December found. His father and former Congolese president, Laurent-Desire Kabila, fathered at least 25 children, according to a biography published in 2003. As of last...
(Reuters (Eng) 07/19/17)
Two United Nations sanctions monitors in Democratic Republic of Congo discussed their travel plans with family representatives of a late militia leader the day before they were murdered while investigating the group, according to a confidential report seen by Reuters on Tuesday. However, U.N. investigators say they cannot yet lay blame for the murders based on the preliminary evidence. American Michael Sharp, coordinator of the independent monitoring group, and Swede Zaida Catalan were killed in central Congo on March 12 while carrying out investigations for the annual report to the U.N. Security Council, dated June 30. The remaining members of the monitoring group wrote that they had retrieved an audio tape, dated March 11, of Sharp and Catalan speaking with...
(Bloomberg 07/19/17)
Vodacom Group Ltd. sees the expansion of mobile-banking services into new markets in sub-Saharan Africa as a top priority following a shareholder vote to rubber stamp its purchase of a 35 percent stake in Safaricom Ltd., Kenya’s biggest company. “We will use Safaricom to enter other markets where neither Vodacom nor Safaricom are,” Chief Executive Officer Shameel Joosub said in an interview at the wireless carrier’s annual general meeting in Johannesburg on Tuesday. The two businesses have a combined 30 million mobile-banking customers, giving them “a very sizeable platform on the continent,” he said. Vodacom’s purchase of the Safaricom stake from U.K. parent company Vodafone Group Plc gives the South African company access to the fast-growing M-Pesa platform, which processed...
(Reuters (Eng) 07/18/17)
KINSHASA (Reuters) - Congolese President Joseph Kabila has replaced the national police chief of police and the police commander in the capital Kinshasa, as security concerns rise following his refusal to step down when his mandate expired. Mass prison breaks, kidnappings, rising militia violence and surging lawlessness since Kabila failed to step down in December have raised fears Democratic Republic of Congo could slip back into the chaos and conflict of the turn of the century that killed millions. About 4,000 inmates escaped from Kinshasa's main prison in May and unidentified assailants killed at least two people and wounded six police officers in an attack last Friday on the city's largest market, leading some Kabila allies to call for a...
(Bloomberg 07/18/17)
In the two decades since billionaire mining investor Robert Friedland founded Ivanhoe Mines Ltd., his small team has made some of the biggest mineral discoveries in the world. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it has done so while trading and contracting with companies controlled by one of President Joseph Kabila’s brothers, searches of thousands of pages of Congolese corporate records obtained by Bloomberg show. Ivanhoe’s unearthing of Africa’s largest copper deposit in Congo last year after more than a decade of exploration work has helped quintuple the company’s stock price. The discovery adds to other successes by Friedland, which include building the Oyu Tolgoi copper-and-gold mine in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert
(Reuters (Eng) 07/18/17)
Gunmen in restive eastern Democratic Republic of Congo kidnapped two Catholic priests in an area at the center of over two years of massacres by unknown assailants, the country's conference of bishops said on Monday. The two priests -- Charles Kipasa and Jean-Pierre Akilimali -- were taken from Our Lady of the Angels parish in Bunyuka, located between the towns of Butembo and Beni, by a group of around 10 assailants just before 10 p.m. (2000 GMT) on Sunday. "Priests are men of God who devote their lives to the good of the population without a political agenda. To hurt them is to harm the community they serve," the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) said in a statement. CENCO...
(AfricaNews 07/18/17)
Self-exiled opposition leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Moise Katumbi, has called on Congolese to hit the streets and ensure President Joseph Kabila is removed from power. He made the remark in an interview published by pan-African news analysis website African Arguments on Monday in which he said he will join the people to protest when he returns to the country. “I’m also going on the streets and will encourage the people, because today people are dying and no serious investors have come to the country since 2016,” he said. Katumbi did not disclose when exactly he will return to the DR Congo but says it will be “as quick as possible”. I went with my lawyer to the...
(AfricaNews 07/18/17)
Over the last few months the Congolese franc has dropped significantly against the US dollar, and the biting effects are being felt everywhere in the country. In the Eastern part of the country’s South Kivu province, prices of foodstuffs and other basic necessities have soared. A 25kg bag of maize flour has risen from 12 dollars to 15 dollars. As a result, the situation has attracted money changers who sell the US dollar at rates ranging from 1400 Francs to 1600 Francs. “The authorities should do everything to solve this problem, because next week the rate could go up to 1600 or 2000 Francs. At the border with Rwanda, the dollar is already changing to 1530 francs. We risk starving,”...
(Unhcr 07/18/17)
Recent violence in southern border areas of Central African Republic is driving more people to flee, including into remote areas of northern Democratic Republic of the Congo, putting immense pressure on difficult-to-reach local communities close to the border. In Zemio, around 1,000 kilometres east of the capital Bangui, our partner MSF reported last week that a baby had been shot dead by militants in a hospital housing more than 7,000 displaced people. MSF has since withdrawn from the town amid violence that has also forced the temporary closure of a UNHCR field office. The main areas from which people have been fleeing are the towns of Bangassou, Bema and Mobaye – all several hundred kilometres east of the capital Bangui...
(Reuters (Eng) 07/18/17)
Three years after he risked his life crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Italy on a small boat crammed with migrants, 22-year-old Sow Muhammed can hardly believe his luck. The former street hawker from Guinea now works as a caterer in Venice, rents his own apartment, and sends money back home regularly to his mother and siblings in the West African nation. "I am happy I came to Europe, and my family is also happy," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation as he packed up leftovers at a training event for people who work with refugees, where he had served a menu which included traditional African dishes. "I talk to my family frequently, ask them their needs, and help...
(AFP (eng) 07/17/17)
Tribal militia forces have kidnapped two Roman Catholic priests in the troubled North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials said Monday. Kidnappings are frequent in this eastern part of the DRC, related to communal conflict between the Nande and Hunde tribes on one hand and ethnic Hutus on the other. The two priests come from the Nande ethnic group. "The curate Charles Kipasa and the vicar Jean-Pierre Akili ... were taken overnight by Mai-Mai who led them off to the mountains. They also took two vehicles and two motorbikes," Bishop Paluku Sikuli of the Beni-Butembo region told AFP. "I confirm the kidnapping of two priests from the Catholic parish of Bunyuka by unknown armed persons," the administrator...
(AFP (eng) 07/17/17)
At least 27 people have perished and 54 are missing after an overcrowded boat sank in a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a local official said Sunday. Most of the victims of the tragedy on the Kasai river were students on holiday, local administrator Jacques Mbila told AFP. The main reasons for the sinking were "overcrowding and drunk drivers", Mbila added. The accident happened overnight Thursday to Friday on the river Congo in the Idiofa area in the southwest of the vast country. Local radio journalist Nelly Mafuta said she saw two nuns among the 27 dead, and the Idiofa cathedral said it held a mass in tribute to the victims. The boat had left Dibaya in the...
(AFP (eng) 07/17/17)
A US journalist kidnapped last week by a militia group in DR Congo was found safe early Sunday, officials said, as another source said five people had been killed in clashes. Lisa Dupuy and 11 wardens working for the Okapi Wildlife Reserve (RFO) -- a vast conservation park in northeastern DR Congo -- were abducted on Friday by the Mai-Mai Simba militia group. "The American journalist .. was found safe and sound at around 3 am on Sunday" by government troops, Pacifique Keta, vice governor of Ituri province, told AFP. "The outcome of the military operation has not yet been established, because the army is still at work," Keta said. In Washington, a US State Department official said: "We are...
(Reuters (Eng) 07/17/17)
Five park rangers were killed in a joint operation with the army to rescue an American journalist and three park rangers, who went missing in a wildlife reserve in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a local official said on Sunday. Gunmen attacked the group late on Friday in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in Mambasa territory. Some others in the group, including two Dutch journalists, escaped. Cosma Wilungula, the head of Congo's park service, confirmed that the journalist and rangers had been rescued from a group of Mai Mai militia fighters involved in mining gold inside the reserve. The U.S. State Department said it was aware of the reports, but did not identify the journalist who was rescued because of privacy...
(Xinhuanet 07/17/17)
Africa is making progress towards the establishment of a trade zone by Oct. 30 that will cover approximately half of the continent's member states. The Common Market for the Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Director of Trade and Customs, Francis Mangeni, said in a commentary published in the Star Newspaper on Monday that so far 19 of the 26 countries involved have signed the agreement. "Three outstanding annexes had meant the tripartite agreement was not complete and this was advanced by some countries as the reason they could not sign or ratify the agreement. However their adoption represented a milestone in the negotiation, as it removed the last obstacle to signing and ratifying the agreement," Mangeni said. The tripartite free...
(RFI(EN) 07/17/17)
French police cancelled a concert by a Congolese singer on Saturday after violent protests around the venue by opponents of Democratic Republic of Congo president Joseph Kabila. Paris's police service said they had called off the event after "unacceptable" overcrowding by demonstrators around the Olympia music venue ahead of a planned performance by Heritier Watanabe - who is viewed as being close to Kabila. Three people were arrested after a car was set on fire on a street near the venue, according to a police statement. Authorities had earlier banned protesters from gathering due to a "risk of upsetting public order." A lawyer for the venue told AFP that they had asked police to call off the concert "due to...
(AFP (eng) 07/15/17)
A deputy police commander and the administrator of Kinshasa's central market were killed Friday in an attack by unknown assailants that also freed prisoners, police and witnesses said. The assailants attacked the administrator's office and the police station at the market allowing inmates being held in cells there to escape. "There was panic (in the market) because the administrator's office was attacked as well as the police cells. The prisoners have been freed," Marie-Pauline Liyolo, a vendor in the market, told AFP. "With regard to loss of human life, we report the death of the market administrator...

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