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People in South Sudan are blaming the Russia-Ukraine war for soaring food prices in the African nation, and fear that this week’s elections in Kenya, their richer and more populous neighbor to the southeast, could worsen their predicament.

Majak John, who works at a petrol station in the capital Juba, told Anadolu Agency that the war has affected fuel prices because refined oil products they import from other countries have gone up, because they are coming in at higher prices.

He blamed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for rising fuel prices.

Founded in 2011, the world’s youngest nation has been experiencing inconsistent and rampant inflation, as fuel prices rose from 430 to 1,200 South Sudanese pounds per liter ($1.4).

He said that the hike in prices led to higher transportation costs and taxes in Kenya.

“We all get fuel from the foreign market, it enters Kenya's capital, (and) it is highly taxed,” he explained.

“One liter of fuel at the moment is currently selling at $1.4 in South Sudan but in Nairobi (Kenya’s capital) is $1.6 and in Kampala (Uganda’s capital) is $1.8; we’re selling at the lowest price of fuel in East Africa.”

Modi John, a businessman who imports wheat and maize flour from Uganda, said commodity prices are rising due to the devaluation of the south Sudanese pound and Russia’s war on Ukaine.

“Our local currency is now weak on the black market, and that’s the big issue for businesspeople and customers,” he said.

He said that they get food commodities from neighboring countries, but at high prices.

“The elections in Kenya will make things worse in South Sudan because now the incoming goods are affected, some of the trucks aren’t coming on time due to delays in Kenya,” he said, referring to this Tuesday’s general elections in neighboring Kenya, with vote counting still ongoing. “Traffic is heavy, the trucks can’t move quickly like before.”

He explained: “I’m supposed to receive some trucks loaded with food commodities this week, but they failed to come due to the elections in Kenya. They say traffic is very heavy and not moving since there are elections in their country, since people want to witness the elections.”

Imports and the greenback

Abdalla Ahmed, another trader in the capital Juba, said that the prices will continue to increase since South Sudan depends only on importing food items and things have changed internationally.

“The Ukraine war is indirectly affecting us here in South Sudan,” he said. “When you look at the market, the situation is made worse by the ongoing sharp increase of the selling and buying of local South Sudanese pounds with the US dollar on the black market.”

“We’re going into a very bad situation, it will continue to worsen the economic situation and many people won’t be able to afford food,” he added.

Ahmed said that the country will experience skyrocketing of goods these days due to ongoing elections in Kenya because the trucks will not reach on time.

“I talked some of my supplies last week and they told me that they will not come to south sudan until the elections in Kenya, now I am trying others to supply me with goods to be sold here in south sudan and if the give me expensively, I will also increase the prices here such that I recovery my money, instead to have loses”

Moses Makur Deng, former governor of the state Bank of South Sudan, said that the economic distress is caused by the Russia-Ukraine war and other factors.

“The continuing war in Europe and the pandemic have rendered the global macroeconomic outlook highly uncertain. Countries are facing unexpectedly high inflation including food inflation, supply chain disruption, and demand-supply imbalances in products and labor markets.”

“High interest rates in the US along with increased risk aversions among global investors have fueled safe haven demand and strengthened the US dollar.”

South Sudan is highly dependent on imported food supplies from neighboring countries, notably Uganda and Kenya. For instance, between 2012 and 2019, imports from Uganda accounted for about $253 million (48% of total imports) while those from Kenya stood at $30 million (30% of total imports) in the same period. Rising food prices, notably cereals (wheat and maize) in source markets will negatively affect domestic prices in South Sudan, thus increasing inflation (projected at 24% in 2022), food insecurity and humanitarian needs (estimated at $1.5 billion or 30% of GDP).

Though it is an oil producer and exporter, South Sudan also imports refined petroleum products. Fuel prices increased at the pump from an estimated $1.04 per liter to $1.39 per liter in March 2022. Fuel price hikes are often an immediate trigger for increases in the price/cost of other related commodities and services, such as transportation. - Benjamin Takpiny, Anadolu Agency

The Bank of Uganda (BoU) has increased the central bank rate for the third consecutive monetary policy committee by 50 basis points to 9.0 percent.

Michael Atingi-Ego, the BoU deputy governor, said: “The economy continues to face strong cost-push inflation pressures from the external environment, dry weather conditions and exchange rate depreciations amid weak domestic demand.”

The headline inflation --a measure of annual changes in the cost of living--  rose to 7.9 percent in July from 6.8 percent the previous month.

The spike in inflation saw the monetary policy committee increase the benchmark rate by a percentage point, the highest hike since 2018, in June and again in July.

Last month, BoU held its first unscheduled monetary policy committee meeting on the back of soaring commodity prices occasioned by supply chain disruptions caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Atingi-Ego said Friday that the central bank forecasts inflation to range between 7.0 percent and 7.4 percent for the rest of the year 

The economy is projected to expand at between 2.5 percent to 3.0 percent, a slower pace compared to the earlier estimate of 4.5 percent to 5.0 percent this year.

“Overall, economic growth prospects have been dimmed further with increasing risks of a global recession, and weaker consumer and business sentiment as high inflation and commodity prices continue to erode households and business incomes and financial conditions tighten,” said Mr Atingi-Ego.

The monetary policy stance has seen the cost of funds rise as commercial banks increase lending rates, restricting private sector borrowing. By Nelson Naturinda, The East African. 

Machakos governor candidate Nzioka Waita conceded defeat during a press conference. [John Muia, Standard]

Former State House Chief of Staff Nzioka Waita has conceded defeat in the Machakos gubernatorial race.

His main rival for the Machakos governor seat is former Transport and Infrastructure Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Wavinya Ndeti, running on a Wiper Party ticket.

Addressing journalists on Friday, August 12, Waita congratulated Ndeti and wished her team the best. 

By the time Waita conceded defeat, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had not yet announced the winner of the Machakos gubernatorial race. 

"We are taking this opportunity to formally concede this election and to pass a message to the people of Machakos [County] that we are grateful for the support they gave us.

Election irregularities claims

"We are grateful they came out to vote in large numbers. To the team that will take over, we wish them all the best," he said.

Waita, however, alleged that the Machokos election was marred by irregularities. 

"A number of presiding officers had already taken sides and objections noted by our team was not taken into account.

"Our opponents stormed the polling centres in the middle of the night intimidating the people counting and non of these objections were taken into account," Nzioka lamented.

On February 9, Waita officially resigned as Chief of Staff to focus on his Machakos Governor quest. He and his running mate, Florence Mwangangi, had promised to revive the county’s fortunes by fighting poverty and corruption. The former public servant now says that his ticket ideas carried the day but their opponent's tactics had the way.

The Machokos governor seat had four candidates. Apart from Waita and Ndeti, the other two are Johnson Muthama, United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Chairman and Rose Mulwa who was running under the Empowerment and Liberation Party (ELP). By Stephanie Wangari, The Standard

Photo Courtesy 

Mr Mohamed Adow has been declared winner of the Wajir South parliamentary seat. Mr Adow is a renowned former Al Jazeera journalist who had run-ins with the authorities when he worked for the Doha-based media outlet. 

In early January 2014, Mr Adow was expelled from South Sudan for reporting on the anti-government protesters’ advance on the capital Juba.

He produced a documentary that aired on Al Jazeera English on November 14, 2013, revealing a history of discrimination in Kenya since independence against ethnic Somalis in Northern Kenya.

The documentary came shortly after the Westgate attack in Nairobi.

Born and raised in Wajir County, Mr Adow said he witnessed first-hand the political and economic marginalisation of the region.

In another documentary that he made for Al Jazeera, “Not Yet Kenyan”, he returned to the region to see how its people had survived and started to prosper, only to find that Kenya's intervention in Somalia and the actions of Al-Shabaab were threatening to throw the region into turmoil again.

With over 15 years of experience in telling stories across Africa, Mr Adow filed exclusive reports for Al Jazeera about the Ogaden fighters who were battling to achieve an autonomous state in eastern Ethiopia.

“This election has been framed. It’s about ideas and long-lasting policies that will replenish the full potential of Wajir south in all its spheres. We are united on a common goal – a better and developed Wajir south,” he wrote on a social media platform.

He had urged residents of Wajir South to play their part by coming out to vote.

On Tuesday, voters indeed turned up and elected the journalist as their MP, giving him 13,990 votes.

His closest competitor, Mohamud Muhumed Sirat, received 7,545 votes. 

“This evening I attended a football tournament in Habaswein town and realised the boys need someone to uplift them in showcasing their untapped talents,” Mr Adow (ODM) said in another post on social media. 

“I pledged to them [that] as their MP, my office will have a cordial relationship with football Academies in Europe and other developed countries to nurture these young men.”

He pledged to base his political leadership on effective development, improving education and uplifting voters’ living standards.

Mr Adow was vying for the first time but he beat strong opponents, including the incumbent Mohamud Sheikh Mohammed, who received 4,293 votes. 

Others were Dekow Noor Ali (53 votes), Khalif Abdi Ali (654), Mohamed Kahiye Bullet (1,274), Abdullahi Yussuf Noor (7,317) and Mohamud Muhumed Sirat (7,545).

Mr Adow started his media career as a Garissa correspondent for the Daily Nation in 1996. He later joined the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Nairobi and Ethiopia as a World Service Correspondent.

In 2006, he joined Qatar-based Al Jazeera as Africa correspondent before he was transferred to Doha as a world correspondent in Africa, the Middle East and Europe in 2017. By Manase Otsialo & Edwin Kipsang, Daily Nation

  • Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga speaking to Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka at a past event.  FILE 
  • Former Vice President, Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, played an important role in boosting the numbers of former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, in the August 9 presidential vote.

    According to Forms 34B uploaded on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) portal, Kalonzo's three counties of Ukambani delivered a total of 769,422 votes to the former Prime Minister's basket.

    The data, which represents 75 per cent of the total votes cast in the region, was derived from 22 Form 34Bs representing all the 22 constituencies in the three Ukambani counties - Makueni, Kitui and Machakos. 

    Raila defeated his main competitor, Deputy President William Ruto, with a wide margin. The latter garnered a total of 242,187 votes in the three counties.

    Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka signs the condolence book during the burial of Johnson Muthama's daughter on Monday, May 2, 2022.
    Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka signs the condolence book during the burial of Johnson Muthama's daughter on Monday, May 2, 2022.
    FILE

    According to the data, the former Prime Minister got the most votes from Machakos county which contributed a total of 304,830 votes. This is despite Raila and Kalonzo's fallout with the county's governor, Alfred Mutua. 

    In Makueni, Raila got 229,187 votes while in Kitui, he received 235,408 votes.

    Constituency-wise, the former Prime Minister gained the most from Mbooni Constituency in Machakos County (50,649) followed by Machakos Town (50,114) and Makueni Constituency (48,774).

    Out of the 1,699,724 registered voters in the three counties, 1,030,292 individuals turned up to vote representing a 60 per cent turnout. 8,924 votes were, however, spoilt.

    Kalonzo and Raila entered into an agreement in June 2022 with the Azimio leader promising the former Vice President a Chief Cabinet Secretary slot as well as several Cabinet slots.

    In return, the former Vice President agreed to drop his presidential bid and support Raila.

    Initially, Kalonzo had opted out of the Azimio coalition after protesting for being snubbed as Raila's most preferred running mate. 

    The official presidential results are yet to be announced by the IEBC.

    File photo of Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga reading a Bible in Church
    File photo of Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga reading a Bible in Church. FILE By Derrick Okubasu, Kenyans.co.ke
     
 

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