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Some of Africa's leading financial institutions will be attending the 2024 edition of the Awards Ceremony. This annual event takes place during the African Development Bank Annual Meetings will be taking place at the newly launched JW Marriott Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, on the 28th of May 2024. 

Launched by African Banker magazine in 2007, the African Banker Awards were designed to highlight African success stories in banking as well as recognise the rapid modernisation and growth of Africa's banking and financial system. The African Banker Awards are part of the official programme of the African Development Bank Annual Meetings, which this year are being held under the theme: "Africa's Transformation, the African Development Bank Group and the Reform of the Global Financial Architecture.". 

Leading pan-African financial institutions  

The African Guarantee Fund have been long-time supporters of the Award and last year launched the AFAWA Award. AFAWA is a joint initiative by the African Development Bank and the African Guarantee Fund, which seeks to bridge the $42 billion financing gap facing women in Africa. The AFAWA Awards will celebrate the financial institutions bridging this gap. 

This year the newly rebranded African Trade & Invest Development Insurance (ATIDI) have come on board as sponsors as have the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), whose own Annual Meetings will take place in June in the Bahamas.  

Both Afreximbank and ATIDI are founding members of the Alliance of African Multilateral Financial Institutions (AAMFI), which have committed to collaborate to address Africa's development finance needs, promote the interests of member states, advocate for Africa on global finance issues, develop innovative finance tools, and support sustainable finance strategies. These institutions are due to meet on the sidelines of the AfDB Meetings in Nairobi. 

Banking giants at African Banker Awards 2024 

Amongst the Awards sponsors are two titans of the African financial sector, United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Guarantee Trust Bank (GTBank), two institutions that have recently posted record results in Nigeria and who are known for their unwavering dedication to banking excellence. 

Joining these titans is the burgeoning West African banking group, Vista Bank Group. With its recent acquisitions of Société Générale Burkina Faso and Banco Société Générale Moçambique, Vista Bank Group has secured a strategic position in the Southern African market. Furthermore, its mid-last-year acquisition of Oragroup catapulted it to become West Africa's third-largest banking entity, and marks the retreat of international banks from the African landscape. 

About the African Banker Awards 

The African Banker Awards, are a prestigious accolade that celebrates excellence and best practices in African banking and finance. These annual awards recognise the outstanding achievements of individuals and financial institutions that are transforming the continent's financial sector and contributing to economic development and financial inclusion in Africa. 

Organised by African Banker magazine in partnership with IC Events, the awards bring together industry leaders from across the continent to honour innovation, resilience, and the spirit of competition in African banking. For more information about the African Banker Awards, please visit our website at www.AfricanBankerAwards.com. 

By JULIUS MBALUTO 

Kenyan President William Ruto has been in the US for a state visit. He has been awarded a VIP treatment and there was a lot to celebrate as the US President Joe Biden elevated Kenya's partnership over 60 years saying he would designate Kenya as the first major non-NATO-U.S ally in Sub-Sahara Africa. However, Ruto's state -visit continues to raise controversies. Back home, Kenyans are still debating why the President spend over Kshs 200 million to hire a luxurious jet for his trip to the US when there was a free alternative mode of travel.

Debate rages on as Kenyans wonder why they are being over taxed by a regime that is bend on spending willy-nilly. The second area of focus has been the sending of Kenyan police officers to Haiti in the name of peace keeping. So, away from state visit enjoyment, Haitians protested in Washington DC just after President William Ruto confirmed he will be sending Kenyan Police officers to Haiti. Some carried banners calling him a US puppet, US slave, Traitor and more. 

 

In a media briefing, a Kenyan Journalist Ayub Abdikadir had asked President William Ruto why he was sending 1000 Kenyan police officers to Haiti while back home bandits were killing Kenyans and had not been stopped. In his Defence the President said that Kenya had troops in Dr Congo and Somalia and that was key to global peace. Yet, ironically, while the US is keen to see Kenyan security team in Haiti, they are not sending their own troops to keep peace. 

By the same token, a UN report says that half a million legal and illegal weapons were smuggled from the US by air, land and sea with the key conduits being Florida, Georgia and Texas. From there, the weapons end up in Port-au-Prince in Haiti , a city which the UN report say its 80% controlled by gangs. An Haitian resident was quoted saying, 

"All the guns here are from the US, everybody knows it. If the US wants to stop this, they could easily do it one month!" He pleads: "We are asking the US to give us a chance to live, just give us a chance."

Un reports that in 2024, 1660 people were killed by gangs with 850 sustaining injuries. So, why can't the US send its troops to Haiti? Why are  they reaching out to Kenya? Why can't the US stop proliferation of weapons? Will Kenyan police stop it if they can't? Only time will tell. 

Ugandan authorities should thoroughly investigate and hold to account those responsible for attacking journalists Zainab Namusaazi, Gertrude Mutyaba, and Magaret Kayondo, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.

On May 18, the private bodyguards of opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, also known as Bobi Wine, harassed and assaulted the three journalists who were covering the funeral of a prominent businessman in the central region district of Lwengo, according to media reports, a statement by the local press rights group the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda, and the journalists who separately spoke to CPJ.

The attack happened just after Kyagulanyi, who is president of the National Unity Platform (NUP) political party, arrived at the burial grounds and greeted mourners, according to media reports and the journalists. 

“Ugandan journalists must be allowed to work without fear of violence,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Muthoki Mumo, in Nairobi. “Authorities should ensure accountability for the assault and harassment of these three journalists, and NUP opposition party officials must take concrete steps to ensure that their private security personnel do not pose a threat to the media.”

Kayondo, a reporter with the privately owned Radio Simba, told CPJ that she was filming Kyagulanyi’s arrival when two bodyguards attacked her, pushing her to the ground. The journalist said one of bodyguards repeatedly slapped and punched her in the back. Kayondo said she was treated at a local hospital for a nosebleed and general body pain, adding that her mobile phone and sweater were stolen during the attack.    

Namusaazi, a reporter with the privately owned Next Media Services, told CPJ that she witnessed the attack on Kayondo, shouted for the bodyguards to stop, and told them that Kayondo was a journalist. Namusaazi said that the two bodyguards then turned on her, punching her on the knee and breaking her camera. Namusaazi said that she recognized the man who broke her camera as Achileo Kivumbi, a known member of Kyagulanyi’s security detail. Namusaazi did not suffer injuries requiring treatment.

Mutyaba, a reporter with the privately owned Nation Media Group, told CPJ that Kivumbi grabbed her camera and tried to confiscate it but was ordered to return it by Edward Ssebuwufu, the head of Kyagulanyi’s security detail who is also known as Edwward Mutwe. 

On May 20, the Greater Masaka Journalists Association (GREMAJA), a local journalist umbrella body, issued a two-day ultimatum for an apology and compensation from Kyagulanyi’s party and warned they would pursue litigation. Namusaazi and Kayondo filed cases at Kiwangala Police Station, in Lwengo district.

On May 21, Alex Waiswa Mufumbiro, the NUP party deputy spokesperson, told CPJ in a telephone interview that the party has conducted internal investigations and said the accusations by the journalists are baseless. 

In a separate telephone interview on May 21, NUP spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi told CPJ that the party believes journalism is not a crime, and they are investigating the incident. Ssenyonyi also serves as opposition leader in Parliament, which is a constitutional position appointed by the largest opposition party in Parliament.

Ssenyonyi said that he had interviewed some of Kyagulanyi’s private security personnel, who provided an account of events at the funeral that did match the journalists’. Ssenyonyi said the bodyguards accused Namusaazi of insulting them and claimed that she did not have a camera. Ssenyonyi said that once investigations were concluded the party would act in the event of any wrongdoing, including by barring those culpable from future events. 

On May 21, Twaha Kasirye, the Greater Masaka Regional police spokesperson, confirmed to CPJ that Namusaazi and Kayondo had filed cases with police and had been requested to provide additional information, upon which investigating authorities will determine how to proceed.

The incident is the latest of several CPJ documented cases where journalists covering public events in Uganda have been targeted with robberiesdetention, and assault.  CPJ

South Africans head to the polls next week to decide whether the political party that has led their country since the end of apartheid will lead it into the future.

Gallup surveys in South Africa reveal a level of disenchantment that does not bode well for the incumbent African National Congress (ANC) party, which could lose its parliamentary majority for the first time in 30 years.

Approval of Country’s Leadership Languishes

After the ANC’s landmark win in the 1994 elections, which propelled Nelson Mandela to the presidency, the party enjoyed a strong mandate across the country, cresting with nearly 70% of the vote in 2004. However, the party has been on a downward trajectory for the past two decades, plagued by poor economic conditions, rising unemployment and a series of scandals.

These struggles are reflected in South Africans’ approval of their leaders’ job performance. In Gallup’s initial reading on this question in 2007, a record-high two-thirds of South Africans (67%) said they approved of the country’s leadership. However, approval declined sharply in the following years, and it has hovered near 30% in 2022 and 2023. 

The ANC has governed the country continuously since it was allowed to participate in elections in 1994. Yet growing and persistent concerns about the economy, safety and infrastructure have seen its support decline over the past 20 years. The coming elections may serve as a turning point for the nation if the ANC receives less than 50% of the vote, dropping the party out of the majority position it has held and necessitating negotiations to form a coalition government.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is the ANC’s main opposition party, garnering 20% of the vote in the previous elections. The DA’s leadership has positioned the party as pro-business and has left open the possibility of entering a deal with the ANC, should the incumbent party fail to gain enough votes to hold on to power in parliament.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), a far-left populist party led by the controversial Julius Malema, is a stark contrast to the DA. While Malema’s promises of jobs have resonated with youth, his more controversial statements, like the expropriation of White-owned lands, have caused others to express concern. Representing a particular threat to the ruling party is the breakaway uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MK), led by former President (and former head of the ANC) Jacob Zuma. Zuma himself has been barred from running for a seat.

Economy, Safety Remain Major Concerns

Compounding crises have afflicted the country over the past three decades, including persistently high poverty, with the World Bank estimating that 62.7% of the population lives at or below the upper-middle-income poverty line of $6.85 per day.

Since 2008, the percentage of South Africans who struggled to afford food has dipped below 50% only twice; it stood at 58% in 2023. Residents are also pessimistic about the economy in their local area, with 57% saying conditions are getting worse, compared with 31% who feel it is getting better.

By some measures, South Africa has one of the worst unemployment rates in the world, with the official rate rising to 32.1% in the fourth quarter of last year. Gallup’s Unemployment Index finds 29% unemployed in 2023, the third-worst rate in sub-Saharan Africa behind Somalia and Botswana. The difference is even more stark among youth, with a 37% unemployment rate among those aged 15 to 29, compared with 25% for those aged 30 to 49. 

Safety and security have long been worries in South Africa. They have become a top issue ahead of the elections as the country continues to have one of the highest violent crime rates in the world. Over the past two years, the homicide rate in South Africa was 45 per 100,000 -- compared with 6.3 in the U.S.

In this climate, just 30% of South Africans say they feel safe walking alone at night in their area -- substantially lower than the median of 49% across sub-Saharan Africa and one of the lowest rates in the world last year.

Quality of Water, Infrastructure Issues Likely Trouble Voters

Weighing further on public opinion is the state of the country’s electrical grid. While known for years as having some of the best infrastructure on the continent, over the past decade, South Africa has been plagued by “load-shedding” -- intermittent electricity blackouts that can last up to 12 hours per day.

Analysis by the South African Reserve found that the ongoing energy crisis has exacerbated a decrease in economic growth in the country. The national energy provider, Eskom, has struggled against aging facilities, corruption and sabotage, including the cyanide poisoning of its former CEO.

In addition to supply issues with electricity, parts of the country -- including Johannesburg -- have faced water shortages. In March, taps ran dry across Gauteng, South Africa's most-populous province, for nearly two weeks during a severe heat wave. Historically, as many as 81% of South Africans (in 2007) have reported being satisfied with the quality of water in the city or area where they live, but the 55% who said the same in 2023 is one of the nation’s lowest levels on record. 

South Africans May Vote With Their Feet

Increasingly dissatisfied South Africans are considering greener pastures elsewhere. For those not looking to leave the country entirely, the term “semigration” has been coined for those moving between provinces, with many opting to travel to Cape Town in the west to seek better conditions.

However, the desire to leave the country entirely has been on the rise as well. While just 8% of South Africans reported wanting to permanently move to another country in 2007, this has slowly risen, reaching 30% for the first time in 2022 and inching up to 32% in 2023. 

Implications

Many South Africans remember the ANC for its role in the struggle and triumph over apartheid 30 years ago. Yet decades of compounding issues related to crime, corruption and poverty have eroded their support and left residents looking for alternatives. While no single opposition party is expected to surpass the ANC in terms of total vote share, a coalition government is possible.

Such a government, regardless of whether it includes the ANC, will be hard-pressed to deal with the multitude of issues facing the country, including restoring voters’ trust. Heading into the elections, 38% of South Africans express confidence in the honesty of elections, down from a peak of 74% who reported the same in 2007. Whichever party takes control after May 29 will need to act quickly to assuage voters’ worries and make progress on improving the economy, safety and infrastructure of the country. BY ZACH BIKUS, Gallup

Kenya Pipeline Company, Nakuru depot. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

After privatising 35 state agencies, the government is in fresh plans to transform nearly 200 government-owned enterprises (GOEs) into limited private companies, if a Bill goes through.

In the proposed plan, the Treasury will own, run, and set up new ones at will. A policy by the Treasury explains that the law will be amended to convert all commercial agencies into limited private companies so that they can compete with private businesses for opportunities in government and public service.

The policy also adds that the government will privatise the companies when it feels there is no justification for their continued existence as an entity under state ownership.  

“To refocus the GOEs on their commercial mandate and also provide a better legal setting for established corporate governance practices, the entire portfolio of GOEs in Kenya will be transitioned into limited liability companies created under the Companies Act, 2015,” the policy said.

President William Ruto announced in November last year that the government would privatise 35 state companies after enacting the privatisation law.

“There are 240 commercially oriented public enterprises with direct or indirect government ownership through ICDC, IDB, KTDA, KTDC, and other entities. Of these, the government has designated 33 as 'strategic enterprises' and intends to retain its ownership and active Board participation in them for the time being,” the Privatisation Commission explains on its website, adding, “The remaining 207 have been classified as 'non-strategic enterprises' and they constitute the government's privatisation program." Of these enterprises, the PRPC has selected 45 to begin the first phase of the privatisation programme, leaving 162 to be processed for subsequent privatisation.” 

A source at the Treasury intimated: “Already a team is working on amending the laws.” 

However, the Privatisation Commission says there are 240 commercially oriented public enterprises, and the National Treasury says that the state is also preparing a bill that will ensure a smooth transfer of all other state agencies under treasury from other ministries as private entities. The government's Public Enterprise Reform Programme (PERP) aims to enhance the private sector's role by shifting production and service responsibilities to the private sector, eliminating preferential treatment and monopoly rights.

It says this will enable equitable private sector entry into public enterprises (PE's) activities, fostering a level playing field. Additionally, the programme seeks to optimise resource use, reduce the Exchequer burden, and streamline public enterprise operations.

" It also aims to improve the regulatory environment by adopting economically rational methods and promoting capital market development to diversify ownership and stimulate economic growth,” PC said on its website.

Treasury argues that under the current arrangement, the exercise of various components of ownership rights is diffused among various institutions of GoK, namely the National Treasury itself, the line ministries, and the Office of the President. It says that this arrangement is inconsistent with established and tested good corporate governance practices and tends to create a principal (owner)-agent (state corporation) relationship with a multiplicity of principals who often send conflicting signals to the agent.

“The scope of this policy is confined to state corporations that have a commercial mandate. These commercial state corporations will hereinafter be referred to as government-owned enterprises (GOEs) as defined in Section 210 of the Public Finance Management (National Government) Regulations, 2015,” the policy says, adding, “This will entail amendments to various existing statutes.”

The policy said that since government enterprises often perform non-commercial public policy obligations (PPOs), the National Treasury will now develop a framework to guide how GOEs carry out these obligations. “Because GOEs perform public policy obligations (PPOs), sometimes referred to as public service obligations (PSOs), mainly of a non-commercial nature, either continuously or from time to time, a framework for GOEs to carry out PPOs will be developed by the National Treasury,” the policy said.

Further, the policy said that the policy for owning and managing enterprises will be adjusted and applied to non-commercial state corporations as well.

“The National Treasury, through the Cabinet Secretary to the Treasury as a body corporate established under the Cabinet Secretary to the Treasury (Incorporation) Act, will exercise the ownership rights and responsibilities as envisaged in this policy with respect to GOEs,” the policy said.

GOEs will run their businesses commercially and transparently and will, in principle, not enjoy direct or indirect favourable treatment from the government solely because they are GOEs. Government enterprises (GOEs), whose shares are traded on a public stock exchange, will follow the same rules and regulations as other publicly listed companies, overseen by the capital markets regulator. , The Standard

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