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Rich in natural resources including fertile land, Zambia has significant potential for economic development. Yet growth has fluctuated over the last 15 years. Agriculture, a key sector for the country, has not fully reached its potential due to low productivity, reliance on rain-fed agriculture, recurrent drought, and limited access to finance and markets. The current lack of rainfall has devastated crops, impacting livelihoods and threatening food security for millions of people. 

"The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) remains committed to working alongside the Government of Zambia and other partners to empower rural populations and create a more robust and resilient agricultural system," said Guoqi Wu, Associate Vice-President, Corporate Services, IFAD. "The drought in Zambia underscores the urgent need to invest in medium and long-term development and resilience building for rural communities," he added. 

Guoqi Wu will visit the country from 10 to 12 April 2024. During the visit he will meet with the President of Zambia, H.E. Hakainde Hichilema, Minister of Finance and National Planning, Hon. Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane, Minister of Fisheries and Livestock, Hon. Makozo Chikote, Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Reuben Mtolo Phiri, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Beatrice Mutali and development partners. Their discussions will focus on medium- to long-term strategies that address climate impacts, future IFAD support, new financing instruments, the new United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) and how to further contribute to agriculture transformation in Zambia. 

While in the country, Guoqi Wu will visit Chongwe district to see how climate and environmental impacts such as drought are affecting livestock production, and the mitigation measures taken up by communities as a result of the projects. 

Since 1981, IFAD has invested US$385.7 million in 15 projects across Zambia, positively impacting nearly 5 million rural households. The visit to the country therefore underlines IFAD's unwavering commitment to supporting Zambia's rural communities in overcoming the challenges of climate change and building a more prosperous and food-secure future through long-term agricultural investments. IEA News

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame gives a speech at the Kwibuka30 National Remembrance Ceremony at BK Arena in Kigali, Rwanda on APRIL 7, 2024. PHOTO | Rwanda Government Flickr

Rwanda has been marking 30 years since the end of genocide, one of the bleakest moments in the country’s history. But it seems the war on the battle field only transited to narratives of which Kigali says it is still fighting.

Some of these narratives have also [punctuated] Rwanda’s relationships abroad with some countries praised and blamed in equal measure for having a hand in it.

In a speech marking Kwibuka 30, Rwandan President Paul Kagame acknowledged most of the neighbours for helping one way or another to rescue Rwandans trapped in a mass murder spree.

“For example, Uganda, which carried the burden of Rwanda’s internal problems for so many years and was even blamed for that. The leadership and the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea helped us in starting to rebuild at that time,” he said, specifically referring to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who served as a peacekeeper in Rwanda.

Read: A rebuilt Rwanda, three decades later

Kenya, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo “hosted large numbers of Rwandan refugees, and gave them a home,” he said. Tanzania too helped including in mediating dialogue sessions. Congo-Brazzaville, and South Africa, as well, supported, he said.

 

But some of these countries have since become Rwanda’s unfriendly states. And although their tensions are more recent political events, it can still be traced back to the 1994 events.

Kagame spoke of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s alleged posturing with those who committed the crimes.

“When the genocidal forces fled to Zaire, now called the Democratic Republic of Congo, in July 1994, with the support of their external backers, they vowed to reorganise and return to complete the genocide. Remnants of those forces are still in eastern Congo today, where they enjoy state support, in full view of the United Nations peacekeepers. Their objectives have not changed, and the only reason this group, today known as FDLR, has not been disbanded, is because their continued existence serves some unspoken interest.”

For Rwanda, the narrative about the genocide should be clear: Tutsis were slaughtered in attempted extermination and he and other patriotic citizens grouped to rescue the country.

Not everyone agrees with that narrative and some countries battle the figure of the dead, and the ethnic composition.

US President Joe Biden, for example, in his message on Kwibuka 30, said a diverse number of people were murdered.

“Most were ethnic Tutsis; some were Hutus and Twa people. It was a methodical mass extermination, turning neighbour against neighbour, and decades later, its repercussions are still felt across Rwanda and around the world,” Biden said on April 6, referring to the three ethnic groups in Rwanda at the time.

Read: Rwanda genocide victims still being found 30 years on

“We honour the victims who died senselessly and the survivors who courageously rebuilt their lives. And we commend all Rwandans who have contributed to reconciliation and justice efforts, striving to help their nation bind its wounds, heal its trauma, and build a foundation of peace and unity.”

Kigali says nations that remain intentionally vague about victims of the genocide perpetuate some form of denial which Kagame argues is a crime in itself.

It was not until 2003 that the UN General Assembly passed a resolution to commemorate the Rwandan Genocide as a UN day. Kigali still battled to have it referred to as Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda. That came in January 2018 after a pivotal argument by then Rwandan Permanent Representative to the UN Valentine Rugwabiza.

“Historical accuracy and words are vital while referring to the genocide,” she said then.

“The tactics of genocide denial and revisionism are well-known and documented. Some people, mostly those who were involved by action or omission, promote the theory of double genocide in the futile belief that such suggestion might divert their own responsibility, she said.

Although the resolution passed without a vote, Washington still argued in 2018 that changing the official title of the day to refer to the Tutsi “does not fully capture the magnitude of the genocide and of the violence committed against other groups.”

On Tuesday, Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Kenya Martin Ngoga told an audience that the tragic genocide it faced in 1994 should serve as a powerful reminder to confront hatred, discrimination, and division wherever it may arise.

“Genocide is not an isolated event but a consequence of a society that has allowed prejudice and intolerance to take root,” he told an audience of diplomats, Rwandan diaspora, and government officials in Nairobi at a ceremony to mark 30 years of Genocide against the Tutsi.

Read: Rwandan envoy: Genocide was product of ignored intolerance

Yet Rwanda feels there is still something simmering in the background which could bring future danger.

In fact, Kagame’s push to defeat genocidaires was not free from excesses, only that the impression given was that it was meted on those who had committed mass murders and forcible transfer of populations that needed rescue.

One of the stories Kagame gave was that of his sister named Florence. She worked for the United Nations Development Programme in Kigali. When the Hutu perpetrators targeted civilians, she remained holed up in her house near a military barracks. Kagame said she was later betrayed by her Rwandan colleague who outed her hideout.

“He (Rwandan) continued his career with the United Nations for many years, even after evidence implicating him emerged. He is still a free man, now living in France,” he told the audience in Kigali last week.

Rwanda and France had been in some damaged relations until recently. But still old wounds about how France propped up the Hutu killers and still gave them refuge remain unhealed. On April 7, French President Emmanuel Macron walked back his earlier promise to admit fault when his country and other Western allies dragged feet to respond.

At least these days, Rwanda and France have healed some of their relationship that saw Rwanda get back into the Organisation of Francophone States after reopening diplomatic ties with Paris.

Still, Kigali has a feeling that perpetrators of 1994 genocide are getting platforms abroad to revise the history.

Ngoga said Rwanda’s allies and the international community in general should continue fighting perpetrators including bring to justice the perpetrators of 1994 atrocities.

“Genocide deniers, including a number of academics, continue to perpetuate negations by conveniently ignoring the judgements of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Negationism can in no way be accepted as a tolerable opinion or a legitimate right. Genocide denial is a crime, and therefore must be fought by all means,” he underscored, referring to the tribunal that tried some of the suspects before folding in 2016, and was based in Arusha.

It indicted some 96 people directly involved in the planning, funding or execution of the genocide although many other suspects were tried in local Gacaca courts in Rwanda.

“Perpetrators and deniers of the Genocide against the Tutsi still continue to move freely in many parts of the world, spreading hate ideology and misinformation on the facts surrounding the genocide against the Tutsi. By Aggrey Mutambo, The East African

Members of the public assist in pulling out a police vehicle swept away by floods in Eldas sub-county, Wajir County.[Victor Ogalle, Standard]

Heavy rains pounding different parts of Kenya have led to the deaths of at least 13 people and displaced some 15,000, the United Nations said, as forecasters warned more rains can be expected until June.

 

The U.N Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, citing the Kenya Red Cross Society, said Thursday that nearly 20,000 people have been affected. That includes the estimated 15,000 displaced by heavy rains and flash floods across the country since the start of the wet season in mid-March.

The East African country has seen thousands of people killed by flooding in previous rainy seasons, mostly in the lake regions and downstream of major rivers. 

The Kenya Red Cross Society told The Associated Press that five major roads were cut off by the floods, including Garissa Road in northern Kenya, where a bus carrying 51 passengers was swept away on Tuesday. All passengers were rescued.

Kenya’s disaster management agency issued a flood warning to residents of Lamu, Tana River and Garissa counties that are downstream of Tana River after flooding breached dams upstream. Residents have been urged to move to higher ground.

So far, nine out of 47 counties in the country have reported flooding. 

Mudslides have been reported in the central regions. On Tuesday four people were killed in Narok county, in the western part of the country.

The Kenya Red Cross Society's secretary general, Ahmed Idris, told Citizen TV that "lifesaving assistance" including shelter and clean drinking water was being offered to those displaced and are living in camps to avert outbreaks of waterborne diseases.

The rainy season is expected to reach its peak towards the end of April and subside in June, according to the meteorology department. Story by VOA

Nigeria’s oil exports are facing a significant hurdle as a decline in European demand creates a buyer’s market.

This development comes at a time the nation is grappling with oil theft and needs a strong export market to bolster its revenue.

About 20 to 25 shipments of Nigerian crude for April loading are still seeking buyers, according to four traders specialising in the West African market, Bloomberg reports on Friday.Read more

The traders said it is a considerably weaker position than normal for this time of the month — when trade should be moving on to May’s barrels — and the prices the shipments can fetch are plummeting. 

The report highlights a confluence of factors causing the slowdown. Strikes in France’s refining sector and seasonal maintenance at European refineries have significantly reduced their capacity to process crude oil. This has led to a surplus of oil and a drop in prices, making it difficult for Nigerian crude to compete.

In addition to the strike’s impact, traders said other plants in Europe are also purchasing less crude because of seasonal maintenance.

“Capacity is offline at some typical destinations for Nigerian crude such as Spain’s San Roque refinery and Italy’s Sarroch plant. Facilities that have halted capacity for work also include Shell Plc’s Pernis refinery near Rotterdam, Europe’s biggest plant,” Bloomberg said.

READ ALSO:Petroleum Minister raises alarm over lack of crude oil for P/Harcourt, Dangote, other refineries

Also, the report said Mediterranean refiners can choose to skip Nigerian supply in favour of “cheap North African barrels that ship more quickly to the region, or they can process some of the large volumes of US West Texas Intermediate crude that have been arriving in Europe in recent months.”

The situation is further compounded by the specific challenge of finding buyers for Nigerian oil. Traditionally, France has been a major importer of Nigerian crude, averaging roughly 110,000 barrels a day over the past year. However, due to the nationwide French strikes and a decline in overall crude imports, this demand has plummeted.

The report cites traders specializing in the West African market who claim that around 20 to 25 shipments of Nigerian crude for April loading are currently struggling to find buyers. This represents a significant deviation from the usual trend, where sales for the following month would typically be underway by this point. The situation is further strained by falling prices for these unsold shipments.

Impact on Nigeria

This struggle to find buyers for its oil could have a negative impact on Nigeria’s economy. The nation relies heavily on oil exports as a major source of revenue for its national budget. A decline in sales volume or price could lead to a significant shortfall in government income.

Looking Ahead

The report doesn’t delve into potential solutions, but some key questions emerge:

  • Diversifying Markets: Can Nigeria explore alternative markets for its oil exports to lessen dependence on Europe?
  • Negotiating Prices: Will Nigeria be forced to offer steeper discounts to entice buyers in the current market?
  • Long-Term Solutions: What long-term strategies can Nigeria implement to minimize the impact of external factors on its oil exports?

The ability of Nigeria to navigate this challenging market situation will be crucial for its economic well-being. Finding new buyers, negotiating favourable prices, and potentially diversifying its export markets could help mitigate the impact of the European demand slowdown. By Ripples Nigeria

Somalia has firmly rejected claims by a senior Kenyan official that a maritime agreement among countries in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has been proposed to ease tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia over the latter’s violation of Somali sovereignty.

Ali Omar Balad, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs dismissed the purported plan as “non-existent and baseless,” emphasizing that Somalia insists on the unity of its territory.

“Reports of a maritime treaty involving Somalia and Ethiopia are completely unfounded. Somalia stands firm on its territorial integrity. We call for a focus on peace and stability in the region.” Balad stated. 

The denial comes after Korir Sing’oei, Kenya’s Foreign Secretary, told Reuters that a maritime agreement facilitated by Kenya was being discussed within IGAD. The proposed deal aimed to provide landlocked Ethiopia with “stable and predictable access to maritime resources” while respecting Somalia’s territorial integrity.

Sing’oei claimed the agreement, also known to Djibouti, would allow landlocked states in the region to access commercial ports by sharing marine resources among IGAD members with coastlines, primarily Somalia and Djibouti.

The alleged maritime deal surfaced after Ethiopia announced on January 1 that it had acquired a 20-kilometer (12-mile) coastline stretch from Somaliland, a breakaway region of Somalia, in exchange for potential recognition. This move drew strong condemnation from Somalia and raised concerns about further destabilization in the Horn of Africa.

Somalia, which boasts Africa’s longest coastline, has reiterated its commitment to maintaining its territorial integrity and promoting regional peace and stability.

The conflicting statements highlight the ongoing tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia, with Somalia rejecting any attempts to undermine its sovereignty or territorial claims.

As the situation unfolds, regional stakeholders and the international community are closely monitoring developments, hoping for a peaceful resolution that respects the sovereignty of all nations involved while addressing the concerns of landlocked states’ access to maritime trade routes. By , Horsemedia

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