African press review 21 September 2016

The main story in regional paper the East African reports that Kenya’s central bank yesterday stunned the market by cutting its benchmark lending rate to 10 percent, giving further relief to borrowers.

The bank’s Monetary Policy Committee explained the move as an effort to end the decline in private sector borrowings which has now lasted two months and poses a risk to the economy.

Under Kenyan law, commercial banks are allowed to charge borrowers up to four percent more than the central bank rate.

The rest of the East African‘s front page is less edifying . . .

Burundi government accused of torture

The regional paper reports that Burundi’s government is behind systematic human rights violations, including executions and torture, UN investigators said Tuesday, warning of possible crimes against humanity and the looming risk of “genocide”.

We also learn that five million Somalis are hungry because of the effects of poor rainfall.

That figure has increased by 300,000 since February, with children at the greatest risk of ill-health and death.

Kenya and Somalia at loggerheads over oil and gas reserves

Somalia has accused Kenya of unnecessarily prolonging a battle over lucrative Indian Ocean oil and gas reserves, despite Mogadishu’s willingness to reach an amicable solution. This is the third piece of bad news on the front page of the East African.

Mogadishu also slammed Nairobi for criticising its Horn of Africa neighbour for turning to the UN’s top tribunal, the International Court of Justice, to adjudicate in the row.

Somalia said Kenya had prolonged the negotiations that have now dragged on for six years forcing the country to go to court.

Border dispute between the two Sudans

In the Sudan Tribune, we read that the office of the South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir, has downplayed threats by the Sudanese government in Khartoum to close the border between the two countries.

The Sudanese government called on South Sudan to expel rebel fighters being hosted by the Juba government. They warned that failure to expel the rebels would lead to the closure of their common border.

The Cooperation Agreement signed in September 2012 by the two countries, obliges South Sudan to stop its support for all rebel groups opposed to the leadership in Khartoum.

Moody’s warns South Africa on political divisions

BusinessDay in Johannesburg reports that political divisions are now South Africa’s number one credit weakness, according to the ratings agency Moody’s.

While South Africa’s low growth rate and its ability to stabilise public debt levels were key issues in the past, Moody’s say they are keeping a close eye on the country’s political divisions ahead of a planned update to its rating due on 25 November.

Moody’s warned on Tuesday that the government must deliver on some of the reforms it has promised if it wants to stave off a downgrade.

Contract for dam impact studies signed in Khartoum

And the main story in the Cairo-based Egypt Independent says that Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have officially signed the final contracts for the technical studies to be conducted on the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

The contracts were signed yesterday in Khartoum by the three nations and the two French consultancy firms who will conduct the studies.

The two French firms will assess the cross-border environmental, social and economic impacts of the dam.

Ethiopia is scheduled to finish construction of the Renaissance Dam in 2017. Downstream countries, especially Egypt, fear a potential reduction in the volume of water in the Nile that would affect agriculture, industry and drinking water as a result of the dam’s construction.

Egypt’s human rights record criticised

The Independent also reports that representatives of several European nations have slammed Egypt’s track record on human rights, delivering harshly critical speeches at the 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council, currently talking place in the Swiss city of Geneva.

The meeting, which continues until 30 September is intended to review human rights situations in a number of countries, and Egypt is among several receiving special attention this time around.

Speakers from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark and the European Union raised allegations of human rights violations in Egypt.

The United States expressed support for Egypt’s fight against terrorism and stressed that the long-term stability of the country would benefit from allowing political dissent.

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