1Leak Reveals How Mauritius Siphons Tax From Poor Nations To Benefit Elites
Mauritius Leaks, a new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and 54 journalists from 18 countries, provides an inside look at how the former French colony has transformed itself into a thriving financial center, at least partly at the expense of its African neighbors and other less-developed countries. Based on a cache of 200,000 confidential records from the Mauritius office of the Bermuda-based offshore law firm Conyers Dill & Pearman, the investigation reveals how a sophisticated financial system based on the island is designed to divert tax revenue from poor nations back to the coffers of Western corporations and African oligarchs, with Mauritius getting a share. The files date from the early 1990s to 2017. The island, which sells itself as a “gateway” for corporations to the developing world, has two main selling points: bargain-basement tax rates and, crucially, a battery of “tax treaties” with 46 mostly poorer countries. Pushed by Western financial institutions in the 1990s, the treaties have proved a boon for Western corporations, their legal and financial advisers, and Mauritius itself — and a disaster for most of the countries that are its treaty partners.SOURCE: AFRICA.COM
2When the Rights of Tribal People Clash with Conservation Efforts
The situation across the vast Kahuzi-Biéga national park, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a frontline of a simmering and sometimes deadly conflict between two largely impoverished groups: the autochthon people, forced out of the forest as part of conservation efforts, and the rangers, who are tasked with protecting the land. Home to the endangered eastern lowland (Grauer) gorilla, is itself a microcosm of growing tensions across the globe. The autochthon sell the charcoal to traders, who in turn sell it at a giant markup in the nearby city of Bukavu, on the border with Rwanda, where it is used as cooking fuel. The clashes with the autochthon have contributed to a growing crisis of morale, fuelled by the longer term problem of armed militias who operate within the park’s boundaries, and low pay. The rangers earn a basic salary of around $100 (£79) a month before additional payments – barely enough, they say, to live on.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
3The “Terrifying Prospect” that Drug-resistant Malaria could Spread to Africa
Malaria is treated with a combination of two drugs – artemisinin and piperaquine. The drug combo was introduced in Cambodia in 2008. But by 2013, the first cases of the parasite mutating and developing resistance to both drugs were detected, in western parts of the country. The latest study, published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, analysed blood samples from patients across South East Asia. Inspecting the parasite’s DNA showed resistance had spread across Cambodia and was also in Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Huge progress has been made towards eliminating malaria. However, the development of drug resistance threatens that progress. The other issue is if the resistance spreads further and reaches Africa, where more than nine in 10 cases of the disease are.SOURCE: BBC
4Overfishing and Climate Change take their Toll in Malawi
Hundreds of local traders gather each morning and afternoon at Senga only to find that fish populations are falling in Lake Malawi, Africa’s third largest body of freshwater. “We were hoping to catch a half-boat full or maybe a quarter-boat … but I’m afraid the fish are dwindling in numbers.” Bordering three countries — Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique — Lake Malawi stretches across more than 29,000 square kilometers (11,200 square miles) with over 1,000 species of fish. The 14,000 people living at Senga Bay depend on the lake for food and for their livelihood. For both locals and climate experts, declining fish numbers reflect a combination of environmental change and overfishing that augurs ill for the future. The World Bank ranks Malawi among the top 10 at-risk countries in Africa to climate change, with cyclones and floods among the major threats. According to USAID, the number of rainfalls incidents in the aid-dependent country is likely to decrease — but each rainfall will be more intense, leading to droughts and floods. That leaves Malawi’s agriculture-based economy sharply vulnerable to climatic events and entrenched poverty heightens pressure on the environment.
5Support to Nationalise Kenya Airways
Kenya’s parliament voted to nationalise the country’s main airline Kenya Airways to save it from mounting debts. The loss-making airline, which is 48.9% government-owned and 7.8% held by Air France-KLM, has been struggling to return to profitability and growth. A failed expansion drive and a slump in air travel forced it to restructure $2 billion of debt in 2017. The airline later proposed taking over the running of Nairobi’s main airport to boost its revenue. Parliament’s transport committee, however, rejected that plan, recommending instead the nationalisation of the airline in a report debated by the national assembly on June 18. The government will now draw up an implementation plan, with clear time lines. Kenya is seeking to emulate countries like Ethiopia which run air transport assets from airports to fuelling operations under a single company, using funds from the more profitable parts to support others, such as national airlines. The committee’s report proposes that Kenya set up an aviation holding company with four subsidiaries, one of which would run Kenya Airways. Another arm of the holding company would operate Nairobi’s main international airport. The committee’s report also recommended the holding company be given tax concessions for a period to be determined and that it be exempted from paying excise duty on all goods, including jet fuel.
SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA
6Another Blow to Zimbabweans
Commuter transport fares rose in tandem with fuel price increases effected by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA). The price of diesel rose to 7.19 Zimbabwe dollars per liter, up from 5.84 Zimbabwe dollars per liter, while that of petrol rose from 6.10 dollars per liter to 7.47 per liter. Operators did not increase fares the last time fuel prices went up on July 12. ZERA has been periodically hiking fuel prices to keep them in the region of the prevailing foreign currency exchange rate. Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube said recently that fuel and electricity tariffs would be reviewed because the current pricing model was no longer sustainable. Fuel prices have gone up several times in 2019, starting with a 150 percent increase in January which saw the price of petrol go up from 1.64 dollars per liter to 3.39 dollars when the local currency was still pegged at par with the U.S. dollar.
SOURCE: CGTN AFRICA
7CNN’s Inside Africa Investigates the Conservation of Zambia’s Black Rhinos
There were once around 12,000 black rhinos in Zambia until the population was wiped out by the turn of the century. A group of local conservationists have gradually reintroduced them and are now discovering new ways to sustain their growing population. The conservationists are dedicated to their work, using a mixture of technology and on-foot tracking to cover the 22,000 square kilometre park. With so much land to cover, and a constant rotation of staff, over 400 scouts are employed from the local area to protect the wildlife on the ground. Another important part of North Luangwa National Park’s local impact is their educational programme. Since it started in 2003, it has reached around 2,500 children. The conservation at North Luangwa National Park is important for the local area, for Zambia as a whole, and for black rhino numbers across the world.SOURCE: ATTA
8Helping Young Africans Access Premium Financial and Lifestyle Services
Nigerian fintech startup Fundall has launched a digital ecosystem called beta with over 300 early adopters in May, Fundall provides savings and investment services, SME credit and short term loans, an open e-commerce platform, debit and credit card solutions, and other premium financial services to users. Chief executive officer Taiwo Obasan said Fundall was focused on educating its customers about various financial services, helping them access different products, and providing them with an aggregated view of their assets and liabilities. The bootstrapped Fundall has raised small amounts of funding, and is currently only active in Nigeria. Obasan said its “big vision” was to enter other African markets in a few years.SOURCE: DISRUPT AFRICA
9Ethiopian Airlines Group Opens Ethiopian Skylight Hotel in Addis Ababa
Located five minutes away from Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport, the five-star hotel aims to increase the number of tourists entering the country, providing seamless hospitality services to the Ethiopian Airline partners and transit passengers. The Skylight Hotel will meet the international standards with 373 rooms, three luxurious restaurants and an executive lounge. The hotel offers three separate day-light and two VIP private meeting rooms for corporate meetings, a Grand Ballroom that seats 2000 people and a Health Club with outdoor swimming pool, mini-golf courses, a spa and massage room and gym.
SOURCE: IOL TRAVEL
10Be Careful What you Sing in Juba
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has banned anyone from singing the national anthem unless he is present. Information Minister Michael Makuei said that different leaders and institutions were playing the anthem at whim, which was an abuse of the national tune that was written shortly before independence in 2011. Makuei said that with the exception of South Sudan’s embassies, which represented the president, and schools where children are taught the anthem, no one was allowed to sing the song in Kiir’s absence. “We are seeing now even a minister, undersecretary, even governor or state minister, whenever there is a function, the national anthem is sung.” The minister said that military leaders had also been banned from addressing the public when in uniform. SOURCE: AL JAZEERA