Tunisia tops Africa in latest FIFA rankings

Tunisia

Tunisia has topped Africa at position 22 in the latest FIFA rankings released by the world football governing body on Thursday.

The Tunisians, who have already qualified for next year’s AFCON in Cameroon, are followed by Senegal at 25, which has also qualified for the tournament.

Kenya rose two places to position 105 from the previous 107.

The Democratic Republic of Congo are out of the top 40 after losing 2-1 and drawing 1-1 against Zimbabwe in mid-October.

Morocco, Cameroon and Ghana are all down two places, at 47, 51 and 52, respectively.

From 56 last month , Burkina Faso now occupies position 57, while Egypt has moved up six places to 58. Ivory Coast completes the top 10 countries in Africa at position 64. They have jumped up two places.

Globally, Belgium is still on top while World champions France drop to 2nd place.

Brazil and Croatia maintained their 3rd and 4th position respectively. England has moved up one place to 5th and pushed Uruguay to 6th.

Source – Africa.com

FIFA boss to ask for vote on new soccer tournaments despite opposition

FIFA president Gianni Infantino is expected to put his controversial plans for two new international soccer tournaments to a vote at Friday’s meeting of the body’s ruling council.

A spokesman for the governing body revealed this to Reuters on Wednesday.

However, with the World Leagues Forum, which represents 38 professional leagues, asking Infantino last week not to go for a vote and strong opposition within Europe, Friday’s FIFA council meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, could cause a major split.

Infantino revealed his plans in May for a new Global Nations League and a revamped Club World Cup which he says are backed by a ‘solid and serious’ group of investors willing to spend $25 billion over a 12-year cycle starting in 2021.

The European Leagues, which includes the Premier League, Bundesliga and La Liga, and European football’s governing body UEFA are among several organisations unwilling to endorse the plans at this stage.

The new competitions and related commercial strategy feature on the agenda for the meeting and the FIFA spokesman told Reuters that there will be votes held on the proposals.

Source – Reuters

Pantsula Revolution! How South Africa’s Townships Dance Got Political

In the beginning, it was all about the shoes. In the early 1950s in Sophiatown, Johannesburg, the pantsulas defied their lean material circumstances by dressing in designer clothing. Influenced by American jazz music, they danced with a quick-stepping style, tapping the floor in a way that wouldn’t ruin their expensive footwear.

Sixty years on, pantsula (both the name of the dance and its surrounding culture) still thrives in townships across South Africa, but its character and style have morphed in line with the lives of the people who cultivated it. Only recently has pantsula broken into the mainstream dance world. You can see it in the show Via Kanana, created by the South African choreographer Gregory Maqoma and dancers from the Katlehong township, playing at Shoreditch Town Hall, east London, as part of Dance Umbrella.

Pantsula took its early influences predominantly from tap dance, with traces of jive, gumboot, tribal African dance and everyday gestures like dice-rolling. Its trademark is intricate, on-the-spot rhythmic footwork, where feet twist, shuffle and stamp. But those early pantsulas were as much about style as dancing. With a gangsterish attitude, fancy clothes, expensive liquor and women on their arms, “they’d be the people who were feared the most in the township,” says Maqoma.

Maqoma grew up in Soweto in the 70s and 80s in a conservative Christian household, and the pantsulas were seen as “the bad guys”, but he couldn’t help being intrigued. The groups he knew were named after their favoured labels – the Pierre Cardins, the Valentinos – but Maqoma was more interested in their moves. “I was always curious about their movement and the dance style, the sense of expression,” he says.

In the 70s, the townships were growing, and the gangs were competing for territory and status. But in parallel, the dance was becoming more competitive, and status could be won on the dancefloor, too. “The footwork became more sophisticated, more complex in its rhythms, and each group became known for its own innovative form of dancing,” says Maqoma.

In the 80s came influences from hip-hop and from television. As a boy, Maqoma was more inspired by Michael Jackson than pantsula, but he happened to live near a hostel for migrant workers who came from all over southern Africa and at the weekends would go and watch them dance their own traditional forms. All these things influenced the young Maqoma, and fed into pantsula dance culture as well.

“Pantsula reflected the changing landscape of the township itself,” says Maqoma, “and the fact that the township is made of people from different cultural backgrounds. You learn in your backyard when young people start putting steps together, it’s very much a collective form.”

These days you don’t have to go to a township to see pantsula, you can just search on YouTube, where you’ll find a resurgence of dance groups all taking pantsula in new directions. What’s most striking – aside from the ever-expanding variations in style, the crazy energy and speed, the pounding beats of kwaito house music – is that pantsula is an increasingly political form, reflecting the concerns of the young people who dance it.

You’ll find pantsula dancers campaigning against drink, drugs and violence – things that were all hallmarks of its early days. “It is evolving,” says Maqoma, who believes young people are “more socially aware of their environment and how they can contribute and respond to their circumstances. They’re surrounded by the social imbalances within their townships and they are part of the new post-apartheid struggle.”

Maqoma feels an urgency in the air that is perfectly captured by the relentless attack of pantsula. “It’s young people stepping up and creating a revolution in their own way,” he says. “Responding to what’s going on in the political sphere, in terms of corruption, the complex nature of land rights, the decay in just … humanity. And young people want to hold those in power accountable.”

The performance Maqoma has created is about corruption. “When we created the work we were still under the leadership of probably the most corrupt leader in our country, our ex-president Zuma.” It draws on the lives and concerns of the dancers of Via Katlehong. Maqoma remembers: “One of the guys said: ‘You know, my grandmother still lives in a shack, and I live in a shack, and it’s 24 years after apartheid: what has the fight really been for? Why are things still the same? Why are things worse?’”

Amid the problems and the protest, though, there is always time to dance. Maqoma now lives in north-east Johannesburg, but the life of the city is still in the townships, he says, and every weekend that’s where he goes. “It’s part of killing our own depression, to party, to make noise, to come together. It’s psychological therapy for our people. Dance and music is what we own and it gives us life.”

Source – the Guardian

Waakye: Ghanaian Rice and Bean Based Dish

Although it originated in northern parts of Ghana, the rice-and-bean-based dish known as waakye is today consumed on a national level.

Whether it’s eaten for breakfast or lunch, this dish can be made as rich and as filling as one likes by adding an almost unending list of accompaniments. The most typical ones include fried plantains, the spaghetti-like talia, a black pepper sauce called shito, boiled eggs, avocados, a tomato-based soup which contains meat, and gari foto — a mashed sauce made with finely grated cassava. This versatile dish is a favorite street food and comes served on a large waakye leaf.

Source – Taste Atlas

Find the Right Business Opportunity for You in Africa

Finding the business opportunity which will suit you best should never be a random process and always requires a sound strategy.

Your plans must obviously take into account your skills and aptitudes, as well as your interests and previous experience. And while such an approach should never rule out something entirely new, you must know your strengths (and weaknesses) in order to determine what path you plan to follow.

You must also look around carefully to find out what is popular and where there is a gap in the market. And fortunately, Africa is a continent full of business opportunities for both traditional and trailblazing entrepreneurs.

Right Business Opportunity
African art and traditional craftwork

Do you know much about the value of African art? You may be surprised to hear that Sotheby’s sold a collection of West African antiques in New York for the staggering sum of $41 million in 2014 (a record sum for African art in the US).

And elsewhere, Nigerian artist Ben Enwonwn’s wooden sculptures sold on the London market for $500,000, – three times more than they were expected to make!

While these are extreme examples, it’s also known that the marketplaces of Egypt and Morocco, for instance, enjoy a buoyant trade in original artefacts and locally created, hand-crafted goods produced primarily for the tourist trade.

There are undoubtedly many reasons for the resurgence of interest in this field, but the spread of multiculturalism and today’s ease of access via the Internet suggest this is a trend set to continue.

Right Business Opportunity
Africa’s renaissance farmers

African agriculture suffers from a bad press, associating it with poverty, aging farmers, back-breaking labor and subsistence-level returns.

As a result, there has been a pronounced drift away from rural areas. This industry has become an untapped goldmine crying out for new blood and full of exciting opportunities to develop an ancient industry in exciting new ways.

Sub-Saharan Africa has fertile soils, around three-fifths of the world’s unexploited arable land, an abundant source of agricultural labor and year-round sunshine.

These attributes put the region in pole position to become a major source of food for the world’s markets. This projection discounts the continent’s own ‘home market’ of one billion people – a huge opportunity for young agricultural entrepreneurs to exploit.

Eco-energy for the African market

Would-be entrepreneurs should note that hardly one-fifth of Africa’s population have access to an electricity supply, and even those who do mostly rely on dirty and noisy generators.

With much of sub-Saharan Africa able to enjoy an average of more than 325 days of sunshine a year, the continent has its own source of cheap, clean energy ready to be harnessed to get its people connected to the future.

The market for solar power has huge potential. To take just a single example, the smartphone has emerged as Africa’s most potent tool for communication, but millions have problems finding a reliable source for recharging their phones – especially in rural areas.

Solar energy now benefits from advanced technologies which make it fast and cheap to set up, even in the most remote locations.

In addition, solar-generated energy is a ‘green and clean’ product which makes it an even more attractive proposition for the future.

With equipment prices also falling, many observers believe that African solar power could start making a major contribution to the European energy market.

Africa’s potential education market 

There is an ever-growing need for education and training all over Africa which is overwhelming governments everywhere.

For the entrepreneur equipped to meet such demands, there are numerous small and large opportunities right across the sector: in both primary and secondary education, for individual private tutors, in university training, for vocational training as well as professional certification needs of all kinds.

Africa’s growing population of young people see a good education not only as a pathway out of poverty but also as the key to securing a good job with prospects for advancement.

And in the corporate arena, businesses are looking to recruit an educated workforce who can service the needs of a 21st-century economy. For example, these needs alone have created an almost insatiable demand for language teachers.

These are just some of the many gaps in the market Africa now offers the young, dedicated and organized entrepreneur.

So, provided you carefully research the present and future demands of your sector, there are many businesses which could represent an ideal opportunity.

By Bruce Hakutizwi, USA and International Accounts Manager for BusinessesForSale.com, the world’s largest online marketplace for buying and selling small and medium size businesses.  Bruce has over 7 years’ experience working within the US business transfer marketplace connecting buyers and sellers.

Kenya ranked third in Africa’s private equity chart

By BRIAN NGUGI

Kenya has been ranked the third most attractive African market for private equity (PE) funding, indicating the huge promise in East Africa’s largest economy despite multiple challenges arising from a recent pile-up of public debt.

Consultancy EY (Ernst & Young) says in a report that is expected to be published today (Monday) that Kenya’s fast-growing technology sector, nicknamed “Silicon Savannah”, drew the most foreign investor interest, supported by an improved business environment.

“FDI [foreign direct investment] projects in Kenya increased by 44 per cent compared with 2016,” says the Turning Tides, Africa Attractiveness October 2018 report.

The increase, the report says, was “largely because of a conducive environment, including a pool of well-resourced IT developers and a high smartphone penetration rate.”

South Africa and Morocco are ranked as Africa’s top hotspots for PE deals ahead of Kenya, which beat Nigeria, Ethiopia and Egypt – the number four, five and six respectively.

The report says Kenya’s top ranking has benefited from recent government’s action to make the country a viable and competitive technology hub through formulation of policies to drive the initiative.

The country’s performance is described as significant given that 2017 was dominated by election-related investor jitters.

Kenya’s economy grew 4.9 per cent in 2017, its lowest rate in five years, under the weight of a prolonged electoral process and adverse weather.

Top ten countries by Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Projects

That pace of growth was far below the 5.9 per cent recorded in 2016, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data.

The last time Kenya’s growth stood at below five per cent was in 2012, also an election year, when the economy expanded by 4.5 per cent.

EY says British investors were particularly active in Kenya last year, having made 10 project commitments, followed by Dutch firms.

“The digital industry remains a key driver of the continent’s growth riding on high mobile and Internet penetration rates coupled with the establishment of technology parks across numerous countries including Cape Verde, Angola, Kenya, Senegal and Rwanda,” says the report. Kenya is expected to remain a hotspot for private equity whose attraction to global deal makers was mainly driven by improved business environment.

“Recent initiatives in Ethiopia, as well as gains by Kenya and Nigeria in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business scores, illustrate that more and more of Africa’s leaders are starting to prioritise reform,” it says.

“Along with that, recent leadership changes in Angola, Ethiopia, South Africa and Zimbabwe are also expected to stimulate policy change, as countries increasingly compete for foreign investment as a key driver for sustained growth.”

Recent studies have echoed similar projections while noting that the improvement in ease of doing business, high return potential across all sectors, a well-diversified economy and consolidation in sectors such as financial services has created an avenue for increased PE activity.

Consolidation

In the financial services several analysts have said they expect consolidation in the banking industry and innovations to be the main drivers of activity.

“We remain bullish on PE as an asset class given the abundance of global capital looking for opportunities in Africa, the attractive valuations in private markets compared to public markets and better economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa compared to global markets,” investment firm Cytonn said in an outlook earlier.

The Treasury has recently upgraded Kenya’s economic growth projection to six per cent from 5.8 per cent, a move that was seen as having been informed by renewed private investor confidence and increased agricultural output.

Heavy rains in the second quarter of the year and the March 9 truce between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition chief Raila Odinga — popularly known as the ‘handshake’— are likely to lift growth to a seven-year high, Treasury secretary Henry Rotich said earlier.

Kenya’s economy last expanded at the projected pace in 2011 when growth was 6.1 per cent.

Economic activities last year buckled under the weight of a biting drought in the first half, which hit farming activities hardest, and elevated political uncertainties following a bruising presidential election contest in the second half that put on hold a raft of investment decisions.

That, together with the debilitating effect of a sharp drop in loans to the private sector due to legal ceilings on loan charges starting September 2016, resulted in the slowest growth in national wealth in five years at 4.9 per cent.

Source – Business Daily

Uganda puts SGR on hold over unresolved issues with Kenya

Finance minister Matia Kasaija has said government has put on hold the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) venture and has instead turned attention to revamping the old metre-gauge railway network until unresolved issues with Kenya and China have been concluded.

“It is apparent the SGR is going to take us a lot of time to complete. First, we have to wait for Kenya to reach at the Malaba [border] point then we can start,” Mr Kasaija told Daily Monitor Monday.

He said government, in the interim, is refurbishing the old railway line as “an alternative” to lower transportation costs for traders.

Uganda and Kenya first agreed to construct the SGR in 2008 but the arrangements were only concretised in 2012.

Construction

Kenya is currently constructing the 120km line from Nairobi to Naivasha at $1.7bn to be followed by a 266km line from Naivasha to Kisumu port at $3.6bn, and later embark on the 107km line connecting from Kisumu to Malaba border with Uganda which is expected to cost $1.7bn.

The first phase of Kenya’s SGR line running from Mombasa port to the capital Nairobi, that cost $3.8bn, was commissioned last year and is operational. The trains’ daily tonnage has increased to more than 800 containers, out of the 1,700 that arrive at the port of Mombasa.

Uganda’s first phase of SGR, the eastern line running from Malaba to Kampala, about 273km (338km rail length), is expected to cost $2.3bn.

Mr Kasaija admitted that Uganda has currently taken a back seat on the SGR venture, but will resume “serious discussions once Kenya is about to reach” the Ugandan side.

President Museveni, according to sources familiar with the venture, in recent months had been directly involved in discussions on the project, and had hoped to secure financing for the first section of the railway line during his visit to China last month when he attended the seventh Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit. But he returned empty-handed.

However, Mr Kasaija revealed that during the discussions in Beijing, it was agreed that “Uganda and Kenya will embark on joint financing negotiations” after Kenya has completed the current Nairobi-Naivasha section.

“Kenya also has its own problems which we cannot speak about in public. We shall wait for them to settle but on our side, we have already compensated people from Tororo to Iganga. When they finish their part, we shall proceed with it,” Mr Kasaija said.

For some time now, Ugandan government officials have blamed Kenya for failing to commit themselves to financing the remaining two—Naivasha-Kisumu, and Kisumu-Malaba—sections. Kenya’s non commitment, according to sources, is mainly debt concerns but also the fact that there is little economic activity in Uganda to justify such an investment.

Kenya’s take

However, a Kenyan government official told Daily Monitor Monday on condition of anonymity that Nairobi is “committed to the project” and said Ugandan officials were using Kenya to “cover” for what he called their “confusion.”

Uganda’s SGR project since conception has been subject of various controversies.

The Ugandan State Minister for Works and Transport, Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, told Daily Monitor separately that government is “still on course, and is continuing to work with Kenya to tie up all the loose ends and synchronise the project.”

“We are even meeting in Kigali next week to continue discussions on the matter,” Gen Katumba said.

One of the key conditions made by the Chinese funders, EXIM Bank, is the seamless movement of the train from Mombasa to Kampala for it to make “economic sense.”

Early this month, the European Union offered Uganda €21.5mn for revival of the old metre gauge railway line from Tororo through the districts of Mbale, Kumi, Soroti, Lira to Gulu “to contribute to a better performance of the value chain for key products and the development of the private sector in Northern Uganda.”

The line is expected to open up an alternative route to the Northern Corridor, connecting strategic trade routes with South Sudan, which is now a major trade and investment destination for partner states of the East African Community.

Old rail

Once revived, the 500km old railway line could as well be key in transportation to Uganda’s oil belt—Albertine Graben—and ease the burden on the existing and yet to be constructed transport infrastructure required for developing Uganda’s oil sector.

Revival of the railway line has been attempted before by Rift Valley Railways (RVR), the concessionaire for the Uganda-Kenya railway line, which collapsed early this year after each party accused each other of reneging on the concessionary terms.

Is SGR worth the cost?

The entire SGR, to cover the whole country, is pegged to a cost $12.8bn. The government has been in constant back and forth engagements with Beijing to release the first tranche of funding for the eastern line, particularly with prospects of paying back when oil revenues start flowing in 2020 but is unlikely. Several experts have said while the SGR could be a game-changer in reducing transportation costs, it might do little service for Uganda which is import reliant.

The main concern is that because the government imports more and exports less, the government will have to charge more fees on imports to offset the cost of exporting; Uganda imports goods worth about $4b and exports just about less than half of that. However, the government has noted that the project is sustainable, insisting that it will generate enough revenues to repay the loan.

The SGR classification is in line with the African Union SGR protocol, of upgrading and linking the continent’s railway system to facilitate continental integration. Other countries that have upgraded to SGR include Moroco, Ethiopia, Algeria, Egypt, South Africa, and now Kenya and Uganda ongoing.

Source – Business Daily

Child soldiers of South Sudan

by Andreea Campeanu

In South Sudan there are still 19,000 children in armed forces, with boys trained to fight and girls taken as “wives”.

Yambio, South Sudan – On the red dusty ground in Yambio, under a large mango tree, a group of thirty girls and boys, some wearing military cloths and some with guns next to them, sit in the shade eating biscuits while waiting for the start of the ceremony to release them from the army.

The US ambassador and other guests are coming from the capital Juba to attend the event.

They are part of the 900 children who were released from the armed forces in South Sudan in 2018, the country with one of the largest number of child soldiers in the world. The ceremony consists of them symbolically taking off the military clothes, and receiving blue UNICEF labeled notebooks and schoolbags.

According to the UN, there are still 19,000 children in armed forces in South Sudan, a number contested by the army. “We have concerns about the figures published by UNICEF. We don’t know how they came up with those numbers. Now it’s true that some other groups that were integrated in the SPLA had child soldiers among them. But our policy is clear: we don’t want child soldiers,” said Lul Ruai Koang, the spokesperson for the South Sudan’s People Defence Force (former SPLA). “We gave their names to UNICEF. In Pibor or Yambio, they have been demobilised. We facilitate the process. After, it’s their responsibility to help them.”

Many of the children in the ceremony have already returned to their communities before the official release. They received medical screenings, counseling and psychosocial support as part of their rehabilitation, and some were assisted to return to school, while others received vocational training. Their families were also provided with food assistance.

But across South Sudan and in refugee camps outside the country, there are children and youth who left or escaped from the armed forces but received no assistance and have not been through a rehabilitation program. Depending on age, boys are either used as porters, cleaners, or are trained to fight. Girls are often taken as “wives”, and often return in their communities with children.

“We see depression, anxiety. They have intrusive thoughts that come back. That can be triggered by something happening, but of which they have no control. That can affect their functionality,” says Rayan Fattouch, mental health specialist working in Yambio with Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

MSF is medicaly screening the children who were associated with armed groups. Part of it is the mental health aspect. They are dealing with children and young adults who are facing “moderate to severe trauma”.

“The child needs to feel embraced by his community. And that can change from one community to another, depending of the experiences they have been through. They have their own trauma,” said Fattouch.

 Reporting for this story was supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center.

According to the UN, there are still around 19,000 children serving in armed forces across South Sudan. [Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera]

According to the UN, there are still around 19,000 children serving in armed forces across South Sudan. Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera
A 18-year-old boy from Yei. He said he was abducted and held by a militia aligned to the SPLA since the conflict started in 2013. 'They would raid villages', he said. 'We were given weed to smoke and alcohol (to drink), so that we don’t think about what they made us do.' He said he was treated rather fairly by the commanders and was given food to eat, but life in the bush wasn't easy. He managed to escape when the militia he was held by moved to Equatoria with SPLA troops. He took advantage of being near the border to escape to Uganda. [Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera]

A 18-year-old boy from Yei. He said he was abducted and held by a militia aligned to the SPLA since the conflict started in 2013. ‘They would raid villages’, he said. ‘We were given weed to smoke and alcohol (to drink), so that we don’t think about what they made us do.’ He said he was treated rather fairly by the commanders and was given food to eat, but life in the bush wasn’t easy. He managed to escape when the militia he was held by moved to Equatoria with SPLA troops. He took advantage of being near the border to escape to Uganda. Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera
A 15-year-old girl who was held by armed forces for a week. Originally from Mayendit, she was collecting firewood outside the Protection of Civilians (POC) site near Bentiu, in December 2017. 'Soldiers came to us, they had guns and uniforms. We all tried to run away, but they caught me.' They took her to Bentiu town, and kept her for a week. She was repeatedly raped. 'One soldier took me as a wife. But when he was away, the other soldiers would come to the house and do what they wanted with me. That man didn't care, he was mean to me, he would beat me and say I was useless. I was thinking to kill myself'. She now lives in the POC near Bentiu with her family, who is supportive but very poor. She's going to school and hopes to be able to complete her studies and forget about the past. [Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera]

A 15-year-old girl who was held by armed forces for a week. Originally from Mayendit, she was collecting firewood outside the Protection of Civilians (POC) site near Bentiu, in December 2017. ‘Soldiers came to us, they had guns and uniforms. We all tried to run away, but they caught me.’ They took her to Bentiu town, and kept her for a week. She was repeatedly raped. ‘One soldier took me as a wife. But when he was away, the other soldiers would come to the house and do what they wanted with me. That man didn’t care, he was mean to me, he would beat me and say I was useless. I was thinking to kill myself’. She now lives in the POC near Bentiu with her family, who is supportive but very poor. She’s going to school and hopes to be able to complete her studies and forget about the past. Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera
Augustino Ting Mayai was part of the Red Army in the Second Civil war that started in 1983 and lasted till 2005. In the early 1980s, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) recruited and trained boys as young as 12. The child soldiers were called the Red Army. In 2013, the Red Army Foundation (RAF) was formed, an organisation dedicated to addressing social problems, especially among its own former members and South Sudan's youth. Mayai, a member of the Red Army Foundation, now holds a PhD in Sociology and is a Director of Research at the Sudd Institute and an Assistant Professor at the University of Juba’s School of Public Service. [Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera]

Augustino Ting Mayai was part of the Red Army in the Second Civil war that started in 1983 and lasted till 2005. In the early 1980s, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) recruited and trained boys as young as 12. The child soldiers were called the Red Army. In 2013, the Red Army Foundation (RAF) was formed, an organisation dedicated to addressing social problems, especially among its own former members and South Sudan’s youth. Mayai, a member of the Red Army Foundation, now holds a PhD in Sociology and is a Director of Research at the Sudd Institute and an Assistant Professor at the University of Juba’s School of Public Service. Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera
Children walk outside the POC in Juba, South Sudan, home to more than 40,000 people. [Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera]

Children walk outside the POC in Juba, South Sudan, home to more than 40,000 people. Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera
A 16-year-old boy who was a bodyguard in the opposition group South Sudan National Liberation Movement (SSNLM) plays football outside the transit center ran by World Vision and UNI. [Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera]

A 16-year-old boy who was a bodyguard in the opposition group South Sudan National Liberation Movement (SSNLM) plays football outside the transit center ran by World Vision and UNI. Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera
A boy who was in an armed group learning carpentry at a vocational training center ran by UNICEF outside the city of Yambio. [Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera]

A boy who was in an armed group learning carpentry at a vocational training center ran by UNICEF outside the city of Yambio. Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera

Originally from Bentiu, this young man fled in December 2013 when the conflict broke out in his town. He went to a smaller town called Mayom, where the war had not reached yet. There he wanted to keep on going to school. But in April 2014, when he was 14, government soldiers came to the town and took him away. 'I was forced to be a soldier. Many people were taken that day. I knew that they were there looking for new recruits'. He was taken for training with other young men, to a military camp. 'They would beat up those who resisted'. After he managed to escape, he made his way to Juba, where he now lives. He last heard from his parents and brothers three years ago. 'War creates a lot of destruction, war kills people, he says. You are going backwards. But I hope that with studying, I can make progress.' [Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera]

Originally from Bentiu, this young man fled in December 2013 when the conflict broke out in his town. He went to a smaller town called Mayom, where the war had not reached yet. There he wanted to keep on going to school. But in April 2014, when he was 14, government soldiers came to the town and took him away. ‘I was forced to be a soldier. Many people were taken that day. I knew that they were there looking for new recruits’. He was taken for training with other young men, to a military camp. ‘They would beat up those who resisted’. After he managed to escape, he made his way to Juba, where he now lives. He last heard from his parents and brothers three years ago. ‘War creates a lot of destruction, war kills people, he says. You are going backwards. But I hope that with studying, I can make progress.’ Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera
The one-month-old baby girl of a mother, 16, who was held by rebel soldiers, is sleeping on a mat in their compound, outside Yambio. The mother was made a second wife for one of the soldiers, but other men were sleeping with her, too. She doesn’t know who the father is, but she loves the child. “My grand-mother welcomed me when I came back, and the child when she was born. But some neighbors were scared. They said I had the mindset of the people in the bush. I was made to kill and maybe I would do it again”. She’s learning tailoring but after, would like to go back to primary school. She says till today, she doesn’t dare to go back to the fields because she’s scared of being abducted again. [Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera]

The one-month-old baby girl of a mother, 16, who was held by rebel soldiers, is sleeping on a mat in their compound, outside Yambio. The mother was made a second wife for one of the soldiers, but other men were sleeping with her, too. She doesn’t know who the father is, but she loves the child. “My grand-mother welcomed me when I came back, and the child when she was born. But some neighbors were scared. They said I had the mindset of the people in the bush. I was made to kill and maybe I would do it again”. She’s learning tailoring but after, would like to go back to primary school. She says till today, she doesn’t dare to go back to the fields because she’s scared of being abducted again. Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera
An older woman with a family member at her home in Yambio. She welcomed into her home three of her grand-daughters who were kidnapped and held by a rebel group. [Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera]

An older woman with a family member at her home in Yambio. She welcomed into her home three of her grand-daughters who were kidnapped and held by a rebel group. Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera

Y, 18, in his home in the POC in Juba, where he has been living since January 2018. He was going to school in Malakal when the war started. He fled to a village in Fangak where his family is originally from. 'When the enemy attacked us, I decided to join because I was angry. They killed old people, children, disabled people who could not escape. One of my cousins was killed. I knew that if they reach our village, they would kill my family, destroy our properties. I thought, it's better if I die fighting them then let them kill my parents.' At the beginning of this year, he asked to go to Juba. 'I didn't want to be there anymore. The soldiers on both sides, it's not them, they could shake hands. But the big people make them fight.' [Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera]

Y, 18, in his home in the POC in Juba, where he has been living since January 2018. He was going to school in Malakal when the war started. He fled to a village in Fangak where his family is originally from. ‘When the enemy attacked us, I decided to join because I was angry. They killed old people, children, disabled people who could not escape. One of my cousins was killed. I knew that if they reach our village, they would kill my family, destroy our properties. I thought, it’s better if I die fighting them then let them kill my parents.’ At the beginning of this year, he asked to go to Juba. ‘I didn’t want to be there anymore. The soldiers on both sides, it’s not them, they could shake hands. But the big people make them fight.’ Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera
O, 16, from Leer, is reading in a makeshift home belonging to a family member in the Protection of Civilians site (POC) in Bentiu, where he''s been living for the last two years. He was outside the POC to buy charcoal, when he was abducted by soldiers and taken away in a pick-up car. 'There were only women and older men with me then, so they only took me. They tied me up and told me I was going to fight for them'. Next to Bentiu town, he stayed with about 40 other young men. 'We were told we were going to fight the rebels. They said we'd have the guns, so that the people would give us money and that the cattle we could take would be ours'. After about 10 days, he escaped and made his way back to the POC. He says he doesn't dare to go out of the perimeter since he was abducted. [Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera]

O, 16, from Leer, is reading in a makeshift home belonging to a family member in the Protection of Civilians site (POC) in Bentiu, where he”s been living for the last two years. He was outside  POC to buy charcoal, when he was abducted by soldiers and taken away in a pick-up car. ‘There were only women and older men with me then, so they only took me. They tied me up and told me I was going to fight for them’. Next to Bentiu town, he stayed with about 40 other young men. ‘We were told we were going to fight the rebels. They said we’d have the guns, so that the people would give us money and that the cattle we could take would be ours’. After about 10 days, he escaped and made his way back to the POC. He says he doesn’t dare to go out of the perimeter since he was abducted. Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera
'We see depression, anxiety. They have intrusive thoughts that come back. That can be triggered by something happening, but of which they have no control. That can affect their functionality,' says Rayan Fattouch, mental health specialist working in Yambio with Doctors Without Borders (MSF). [Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera]

‘We see depression, anxiety. They have intrusive thoughts that come back. That can be triggered by something happening, but of which they have no control. That can affect their functionality,’ says Rayan Fattouch, mental health specialist working in Yambio with Doctors Without Borders (MSF). Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera
Former rebel commander Abel Matthew Mbarza, now part of the govenrment forces, at his compound in Yambio. According to the UN, there are still 19,000 children in armed forces in South Sudan, a number contested by the army. [Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera]

Former rebel commander Abel Matthew Mbarza, now part of the govenrment forces, at his compound in Yambio. According to the UN, there are still 19,000 children in armed forces in South Sudan, a number contested by the army. Andreea Campeanu/Al Jazeera

Source – Al Jazeera

Thousands of US troops sent to tighten security at Mexico border

By AFP

WASHINGTON,

The Pentagon is deploying 5,200 active-duty troops to beef up security along the US-Mexico border, officials announced Monday, in a bid to prevent a caravan of Central American migrants from illegally crossing the frontier.

The move represents a massive military buildup along the border, where some 2,000 National Guardsmen are already working to provide assistance to overwhelmed authorities.

MONITORING

President Donald Trump in recent weeks has repeatedly said more troops are needed to tighten border security, and he has made political capital of the caravan ahead of crucial midterm congressional elections that could see the Democrats regain some degree of power.

According to US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, US authorities are tracking a group of about 3,500 people traveling north through the Chiapas-Oaxaca area in southern Mexico.

Additionally, officials were monitoring another group of about 3,000 people that had gathered at a border crossing between Guatemala and Mexico.

Mr Trump said Monday night that his administration plans to build tent cities for migrants that do reach the border and ask for asylum.

“If they apply for asylum, we’re going to hold them until such time as their trial takes place. We’re going to hold them, we’re going to build tent cities, we’re gonna build tents all over the place,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News.

“We’re not gonna build structures and spend all of these hundreds of millions of dollars. We’re gonna have tents, they’re gonna be very nice, and they’re going to wait, and if they don’t get asylum they get out,” he said.

CROSSING

Even as US officials unveiled details of the military deployment, migrants were trying to cross the Suchiate River from Guatemala into Mexico on rafts made from truck tires, or by forming human chains to avoid being swept away.

Others swam across after Mexican authorities refused to open a border bridge.

McAleenan described the situation along the US-Mexico frontier as a “border security and humanitarian crisis,” and said border agents over the past three weeks had apprehended about 1,900 people per day illegally crossing.

“Over half of these arrivals have been made up of family units and unaccompanied children who place themselves in the hands of violent human smugglers, paying 7,000 (dollars) per person to make the journey,” McAleenan said.

The massive deployment marks a sharp increase from initial estimates last week, when US officials said about 800 active-duty troops would head south.

It means that within days, the US military will have more than three times as many troops along the southern border as it does fighting the Islamic State group in Syria.

BOMBS

President Trump last week expressed frustration that the issue, which had been attracting growing cable news attention, had slipped from front pages as top figures in the Democratic Party were targeted by a series of mail bombs.

He took to Twitter on Monday to again blast the migrant caravan, which is comprised mainly of Hondurans — many of whom are fleeing horrific gang violence.

“Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border,” Mr Trump wrote without providing evidence, doubling down on the hardline anti-immigrant rhetoric that helped fuel his 2016 election victory.

“Please go back, you will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process. This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!”

The president has been campaigning intensively for weeks, frequently hammering on the migrant caravan issue and stoking anti-immigrant concerns among voters.

He is expected to hold 11 rallies in the days ahead of the November 6 midterms, which Washington pundits are characterizing as a referendum on his presidency.

CRITICISM

The American Civil Liberties Union blasted Mr Trump’s decision to send troops, calling the move a political one to fuel “his anti-immigrant agenda of fear and division” ahead of the midterms.

“These migrants need water, diapers, and basic necessities — not an army division,” ACLU lawyer Shaw Drake said.

The Democrats, for their part, have been caught largely flat-footed by Mr Trump’s messaging on the caravan and struggled to present coherent alternatives.

The Southern Poverty Law Center called the deployment an act of “defiance” that would not make the US safer.

In April, President Trump ordered up to 4,000 National Guardsmen to head to the border as a different migrant caravan wound its way north. About 2,100 have deployed.

SENSORS

Air Force General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, head of the US military’s Northern Command, told reporters the 5,200 troops would focus on trying to “harden” border crossings and surrounding areas, with work done by combat engineering battalions with experience building temporary fencing.

Additionally, the Pentagon is sending military police and three helicopter companies equipped with high-tech sensors and night-vision capabilities.

Though soldiers are not conducting direct law-enforcement operations and will ostensibly be in a support role, they will nonetheless be deployed with their weapons, officials noted.

Source  – AFP

How tight a hold does Museveni have on Kenyan politicians?

By Nelson Wesonga

Lately, many Kenyan politicians have been drawn to Uganda the way moths and grasshoppers are attracted to lit bulbs, or bees to nectar.

In August, Kenya’s deputy president William Ruto, 52, was in Kampala where he met President Museveni. They discussed strengthening cross-border trade.

And in September, the former vice president, Kalonzo Musyoka, 64, was here to pay Mr Museveni, 74, a courtesy call during which they deliberated on a strong East African Community.

Now, according to Heal the Planet Global Organisation – a body that aims to use humanitarian programmes to better the world, Mr Ruto will be in Uganda, again, on Monday, October 29, as a special guest during a Senior Citizens Convention.
However, David Mugonyi, the communications secretary in the Office of Kenya’s Deputy President, said he is not aware of the event.
“There is nothing like that in [Ruto’s] diary,” Mr Mugonyi said when the Sunday Monitor phoned him on Wednesday, October 24.
Whether Mr Ruto will be in Uganda at the end of this month or not, it won’t be lost on observers that he frequented the country in the run-up to the 2016 election in which President Museveni fought off a stern challenge from his perennial nemesis, Dr Kizza Besigye.
Mr Ruto especially frequented the Sebei sub-region to meet with his kinsmen on the Uganda side and once met with Mr Museveni in Mbale District. The visits were interpreted as an act of campaigning for Mr Museveni.

Before Mr Ruto, in the middle of the campaigns for the 2011 election, Kenya’s Opposition leader Raila Odinga paid a courtesy call on President Museveni, who he met in Jinja District and accompanied to a rally in Iganga District. At the rally Mr Odinga praised Mr Museveni’s leadership but stopped short of openly calling on Ugandans to re-elect him.

Why do Kenyan politicians, especially those thought to nurse presidential aspirations, like to visit President Museveni?
Prof Sabiti Makara, a senior academic at Makerere University, said there are three possible reasons.

These are Mr Museveni’s longevity in power, his stature as an elderly statesman and his role in resolving conflicts in the Great Lakes Region.
“Having been in power for long, I think there is a skill that they might want to learn from him [from Museveni],” Prof Makara told Sunday Monitor on Tuesday.

Mr Museveni has been in power for 32 years. At the end of the current term in 2021, he will clock 35 years in State House.
It is believed that it is this particular skill of Mr Museveni that informed Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo’s visit to Uganda in 2006 to get tips on how to extend his – Obasanjo’s – term in office by one more term.

Mr Obasanjo’s attempt failed.
Since then, Uganda’s Parliament amended the Constitution to remove the 75-years-old upper cap limit on presidential candidates, paving the way for Mr Museveni to keep contesting for the top seat.

While amending the Constitution, Members of Parliament who voted in support of amendment of the article, which the Constituent Assembly had included in the Constitution to block Milton Obote from running for the position, said locking out those above 75 was unconstitutional.

Given that Kenyan policy is affected by five-year election cycles, perhaps the Kenyan politicians need tips on how to get and retain executive power for at least the maximum of 10 years that their country’s constitution provides for.
It is not clear though if the Kenyans hope to pick a leaf from Mr Museveni on values such as the respect for human rights like freedom of assembly and association as well as on free and fair elections.

The visits, it should be noted, are also to Mr Museveni’s advantage. A year ago when Mr Musyoka was in Uganda to officiate at the Uganda Technical and Management University (UTAMU) graduation, he said Mr Museveni should become the first president of the East African Federation (EAF) once it is established since he is passionate about East African matters.

Mr Musyoka must be aware Mr Museveni longs to head the federation even though Jakaya Kikwete, a former president of Tanzania, once said the position of EAF president should be open to an East African of good standing regardless of whether they were once head of state or not.

There is also an economic explanation for the Kenyan politicians buttering up to Mr Museveni.
Mr Ruto, through social networking site Twitter, acknowledged Uganda and Kenya share mutual interests.
On August 19, he tweeted, “We are the largest recipients of Ugandan products within the East African Community and our companies are the biggest investors.”

Many of the consumer goods manufactured in Kenya are sold in Uganda than anywhere else in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
According to data from the Bank of Uganda (BoU) released on October 3, as of calendar year 2017, Kenya exported items worth $512.85 million (Shs1.9 trillion at today’s exchange rate) to Uganda.

The imports from Kenya accounted for 62 per cent of Uganda’s bill on imports from the COMESA.
Kenya’s long distance haulers make money transporting by road items such as petroleum products like diesel, kerosene and petrol from Mombasa to Uganda via Kenya.
With the establishment of more industries in Uganda and exports from Uganda to Kenya, the trade imbalance between Kenya and Uganda has thinned.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Uganda, like Kenya, benefits from the bilateral trade. According to BoU, Uganda’s inflows from exports to Kenya have increased from $157.43 million (Shs590 billion) in 2008 to $551.06 million (Shs2 trillion today) in 2017 calendar year.
Up to 95 per cent of Uganda’s imports from overseas come in through Mombasa, Kenya’s port city.

The other reason Prof Makara advanced for Kenyan politicians calling on Mr Museveni is his standing as an elder.
“I think he [Museveni] is an elder statesman in the region; I think they are tapping into his wisdom,” Prof Makara said.
The region though is not short of elderly statesmen. There is Ali Hassan Mwinyi, 93, a former president of Tanzania and Daniel arap Moi, 94, and Mwai Kibaki, 86, both former presidents of Kenya.

Of Mr Ruto, Musyoka and the former prime minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga, the three likely contenders for president during Kenya’s 2022 general election, Mr Odinga has visited Moi and Kibaki separately to discuss national politics.
Even president Uhuru Kenyatta has been to Mr Moi’s and has met Mr Museveni many times though his rendezvous with Mr Museveni rotate around trade, something dear to both leaders.

When Mr Ruto went to Moi’s residence in Nakuru, Mr Moi’s family did not allow him to meet the senior citizen because Mr Moi was reportedly doing doctor-supervised physical exercises at the time.
Perhaps that left Mr Museveni as the elderly statesman Mr Ruto could talk to.
The third reason Prof Makara gave for the visits is that Mr Museveni has been involved in the settlement of conflicts in the Great Lakes Region.

Though he did not delve into the conflicts, Uganda, like the African Union, is involved in resolving the South Sudan conflict pitting Mr Salva Kiir against Riek Machar. Mr Museveni sent Ugandan troops to Somalia to protect the government there from the al-Shabaab militants. He played a role in Rwanda’s 1994 liberation.
He could also contribute to finding a permanent solution to the Migingo Island issue. In 2009, Mr Museveni said the island is in Kenya but it is surrounded by Uganda’s waters.

The rocky hamlet is home to a Kenyan Luo fishing community though there have been many reports of Ugandan security officials harassing the community there.
During the campaigns ahead of general elections in Kenya the matter crops up. Mr Odinga is from the county in which Migingo is geographically situated.

In late September, he said he planned to meet Mr Museveni to settle the ownership of the Migingo Island, which he claimed Idi Amin Dada, who ruled Uganda from 1971 to 1979, grabbed from Kenya.
Like Mr Ruto, Mr Odinga is likely to run for president in 2022 – going by statements by James Orengo, Kenya’s Senate Minority Leader, and a confidant of Mr Odinga.
Mr Odinga is aware how charged Kenyans get when talking about Migingo and the treatment of their fellow countrymen by Uganda security officials.

Mr Ruto supported Mr Kenyatta’s election in 2013 and again in 2017 on the understanding that Mr Kenyatta would in 2022 support Mr Ruto in the latter’s quest for Kenya’s top elective position.
All seemed to be going according to script until in March this year when Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga had the handshake.
Mr Odinga said the handshake is meant to address tribalism, poverty, nepotism, unemployment and corruption.
Others see it differently. At the beginning of October, Mr Ruto accused Mr Raila of working to have him edged out of the ruling Jubilee Party, an accusation Mr Raila has dismissed.

In a rejoinder, the Orange Democratic Party, which Mr Odinga is affiliated with, said Mr Ruto was looking for an excuse to leave Jubilee because he is uncomfortable with the newfound friendship between Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.
In Uganda, according to one unofficial Ugandan account, the handshake ruffled Mr Ruto, who has his eyes on the 2022 presidential election, forcing him to run to Mr Museveni for advice.
Asked if Mr Ruto’s rendezvous’ with Mr Museveni are about Kenya’s next general election, Mr Mugonyi said no.
“Uganda has nothing to do with 2022. He – Ruto – cannot come to campaign in Uganda [for an election in Kenya],” Mr Mugonyi said.

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Before Mr Ruto, in the middle of the campaigns for the 2011 election, Kenya’s Opposition leader Raila Odinga paid a courtesy call on President Museveni, who he met in Jinja and accompanied him to a rally in Iganga. At the rally Mr Odinga praised Mr Museveni’s leadership but stopped short of openly calling on Ugandans to re-elect him.

Source – Daily Monitor