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Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya's capital Nairobi. Kenyan passport holders cannot access 40 countries despite a massive vaccination campaign put up by Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE | NMG

This has seen Kenyans remain locked out of dozens of destinations at a time nations are easing travel restrictions following increased Covid-19 vaccinations.

The Henley Passport Index, which regularly monitors the world’s most travel-friendly passports since 2006, made the revelations in its final report of 2021, showing how countries are still keen to protect their citizens from new variants of coronavirus.

“This year, Passport Index data paints a picture of a world in recovery, bolstered by growing access to vaccines and an inherent desire to move, meet and connect across the globe,” said the report.

Taiwan, Israel, Sweden, Vatican City, South Korea, Singapore, Poland, and Cambodia top the list of countries that have banned or placed restrictions on holders of Kenyan passports.

Others are Bangladesh, Chile, Czech Republic, Cyprus and Cameroon, which Henley & Partners lists as the only African country to place restrictions on Kenya. 

The countries that have so far removed Kenya passport holders from the list of Covid-19 ban include Ireland, Bulgaria, Canada, Hong Kong, Denmark and the UK. This has helped open up the Kenyan skies and increased activity in the aviation sector.

Kenya is a net importer and travel is a major requirement for its business executives who have to move to do due diligence and source raw materials and finished products for the East African market.

The report comes at a time Kenya has recorded a sharp increase in cases of Covid-19 infections in recent months, while the number of admissions in health facilities is also increasing.

The positivity rate — the proportion of tests coming back positive — climbed sharply by a double-digit from last month, raising concerns among health officials.

The rate has increased from a low of 0.5 percent in October to 24.4 percent as of Sunday as the government stepped up testing and vaccination.

By close of business yesterday, Kenya had vaccinated 10.1 million doses of the vaccine, with, 4.2 million people have been fully vaccinated up from 746,267 on August 14 while the number of those who have received the first jab has jumped to 5.8 million from two million over the same period.

The country has so far vaccinated 14.4 percent of its adult population, well ahead of its targets. To boost vaccinations, the Health ministry had ordered malls and other public establishments to lock out the unvaccinated.

As cases continue to soar with the emergence of the new Omicron variant, about 130 countries, including Kenya, have started implementing booster programmes, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). So far, 13.218 million booster doses have been administered.

The Kenyan passport also lost its strength in Africa, dropping from the 12th position in October to 32nd in the review.

The Passport Index shows Kenya ranked behind Seychelles, Somalia South Africa, Mauritius, Botswana, Namibia, Tunisia, Tanzania and Swaziland, among other African states.

A Kenyan can visit 30 countries without a visa and obtain the entry document on arrival in 33 countries while the visa is required in 133 countries.

Kenya rolled out new chip-embedded passports for its citizens in a move that targets rampant forgery and impersonation of holders. The new features are meant to make it impossible to forge or duplicate a Kenyan passport.

Roll-out of the e-passports with a 10-year validity period marked the beginning of the end of the ‘analogue’ passports that had been in use since Independence and has since joined 60 other countries that use e-passports.

Kenya whose economy grew by 9.9 percent in the third quarter has been counting on easing of containment measures to support its growth and lift the economy from the Covid-19 slowdown.

The restrictions are set to stop the party for the recovery of the hospitality industry, which posted the fastest growth in the third quarter growing by 24.8 percent compared to 63.4 percent contraction in the third quarter of 2020.The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics attributes the growth to the easing of Covid-19 containment measures, which lifted performance in the education, accommodation and food serving activities, transportation and storage, manufacturing and insurance activities that had been battered by the lockdowns.  By GERALD ANDAE, The East African

 

Senior white executives are accused of discriminating against BAME Kenyan-born staff

The entrance to the British Council building in Kisumu, Kenya
The British Council building in Kisumu, Kenya. The organisation is the UK government’s cultural arm abroad. Photograph: Images of Africa Photobank/Alamy
The British Council has launched an inquiry into allegations from black current and former staff members in Kenya who claim they were subjected to systemic racism.

Senior white executives at the organisation, which is the British government’s cultural arm abroad, have been accused of discriminating against BAME Kenyan-born staff, particularly as they were selected and assessed for redundancy. 

A letter that claims to represent seven current and former staff members sparked the inquiry in July when it was sent to the British Council as well as the Kenyan authorities.

It says: “The cases underline a repeated practice by white members of staff to constantly assign Kenyans as underperformers, inadequate, unskilled, unprofessional, and suspects as the organisation abuses its procedures and systems to validate its discriminative practice.”

Five of the seven accusers claim they were discriminated against during a redundancy process that they say favoured white colleagues. The allegations come amid cuts in central government funding for the British Council as well as a shortfall of income related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 
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The British Council, known as the UK government’s main instrument of soft power, launched an inquiry into the claims in September and says it takes racism claims seriously. It claims it is still waiting for all of the complainants to come forward with evidence and has queried some of the claims in the initial letter.

One of the complainants who was made redundant said he would not cooperate with the inquiry because it was too narrow in scope to include earlier allegations.

Apollo Edewa, 33, a former programme manager at the office in Nairobi for five years until February, said staff believed the organisation gave much greater weight to white people’s opinions compared with black people and now wants to tailor the inquiry to justify its prejudices.

He said: “The British Council says it will only investigate these allegations if we allow them to manage the complaints process and select the cases to be investigated. But many former and current employees believe that there is a racist culture in the organisation which goes back many years. White people’s opinions are given more weight than black people from Kenya.”

Many of the claims revolve around a recent redundancy programme implemented after a shortfall in income after government cuts to the aid budget.

Allegations outlined in the letter include:

  • A programme manager who worked at the British Council from August 2014 to 2019 who claimed they were put at risk of redundancy without adequate explanation.

  • Another complainant claimed they resigned as a senior official of the Kenyan office’s welfare association after a white executive frustrated efforts to channel staff concerns to the senior leadership team. “Staff have no confidence raising concerns through HR … for fear of being victimised,” the complainant said.

  • A manager for the professional skills centre in Kenya who claimed they were among a number of black employees who were unfairly targeted for redundancy.

The British Council was founded in 1934 to improve cultural relations and improve social mobility, It generates 85% of its own income, mainly through teaching and examinations, and receives some funding through a government bloc grant. 

It is facing substantial job cuts and office closures after income from English-language teaching and exams plummeted during the pandemic.

Regarding the complaints of racism in Kenya, a British Council spokesperson said that they received the letter in July and launched an inquiry in August but were still waiting for all of the complainants to identify themselves. They also pointed out that 98% of employees were locally appointed.

According to the British Council, an individual who recognised details of their case in the letter now says he did not give his consent to be included in the complaint.

The spokesperson said: “The British Council takes all allegations of discrimination, racism, bullying and harassment very seriously. We operate in over 100 countries across the world and our values of equality, diversity and inclusion are at the heart of everything we do.

“On receiving the anonymous letter, we immediately initiated an investigation. This investigation is ongoing, and we are keeping avenues of engagement open with the author of the letter. The author of the letter has not been willing to be interviewed and has not yet provided evidence in support of the allegations.” By , Guardian

Legendary paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey remained energetic into his 70s despite health problems Photo: AFP / Yasuyoshi CHIBA

 

World-renowned Kenyan conservationist and fossil hunter Richard Leakey, whose groundbreaking discoveries helped prove that humankind evolved in Africa, died on Sunday at the age of 77, the country's President said.

The legendary paleoanthropologist remained energetic into his 70s despite bouts of skin cancer, kidney and liver disease.

"I have this afternoon... received with deep sorrow the sad news of the passing away of Dr Richard Erskine Frere Leakey," President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a statement late Sunday.

Born on 19 December, 1944, Leakey was destined for palaeoanthropology -- the study of the human fossil record -- as the middle son of Louis and Mary Leakey, perhaps the world's most famous discoverers of ancestral hominids.

Initially, Leakey tried his hand at safari guiding, but things changed when at 23 he won a research grant from the National Geographic Society to dig on the shores of northern Kenya's Lake Turkana, despite having no formal archaeological training. 

In the 1970s he led expeditions that recalibrated scientific understanding of human evolution with the discovery of the skulls of Homo habilis (1.9 million years old) in 1972 and Homo erectus (1.6 million years old) in 1975.

A TIME magazine cover followed of Leakey posing with a Homo habilis mock-up under the headline "How Man Became Man". Then in 1981, his fame grew further when he fronted "The Making of Mankind", a seven-part BBC television series.

Tonnes of ivory and rhino horn burn on a bonfire in Nairobi in 2016 in an anti-poaching stunt first made popular by Leakey

Tonnes of ivory and rhino horn burn on a bonfire in Nairobi in 2016 in an anti-poaching stunt first made popular by Leakey Photo: AFP / Tony KARUMBA

Yet the most famous fossil find was yet to come: the uncovering of an extraordinary, near-complete Homo erectus skeleton during one of his digs in 1984, which was nicknamed Turkana Boy. 

As the slaughter of African elephants reached a crescendo in the late 1980s, driven by insatiable demand for ivory, Leakey emerged as one of the world's leading voices against the then legal global ivory trade.

At Kenya's national museum in Nairobi, school children look at the nearly complete skeleton of "Turkana boy", today 1.6 million years old but aged about eight when he died.

At Kenya's national museum in Nairobi, school children look at the nearly complete skeleton of "Turkana boy", today 1.6 million years old but aged about eight when he died. Photo: AFP / TONY KARUMBA

President Daniel Arap Moi in 1989 appointed Leakey to lead the national wildlife agency -- soon to be named the Kenya Wildlife Service, or KWS.

That year he pioneered a spectacular publicity stunt by burning a pyre of ivory, setting fire to 12 tonnes of tusks to make the point that they have no value once removed from elephants.

He also held his nerve, without apology, when implementing a shoot-to-kill order against armed poachers.

In 1993, his small Cessna plane crashed in the Rift Valley where he had made his name. He survived but lost both legs.

"There were regular threats to me at the time and I lived with armed guards. But I made the decision not to be a dramatist and say: 'They tried to kill me.' I chose to get on with life," he told the Financial Times.

Leakey was forced out of KWS a year later and began a third career as a prominent opposition politician, joining the chorus of voices against Moi's corrupt regime.

His political career met with less success, however, and in 1998 he was back in the fold, appointed by Moi to head Kenya's civil service, putting him in charge of fighting official corruption.

The task proved impossible, however, and he resigned after just two years.

In 2015, as another elephant poaching crisis gripped Africa, President Kenyatta asked Leakey to again take the helm at KWS, this time as Chairman of the board, a position he would hold for three years.

Deputy President William Ruto said Leakey "fought bravely for a better country" and inspired Kenyans with his zeal for public service.

Softly-spoken and seemingly devoid of personal vanity, Leakey stubbornly refused to give in to health woes.

"Richard was a very good friend and a true loyal Kenyan. May he Rest In Peace," Paula Kahumbu, the head of Wildlife Direct, a conservation group founded by Leakey, posted on Twitter. IB Times

SUDAN is at a “dangerous turning point,” Abdalla Hamdok said yesterday as he announced his resignation as the country’s prime minister.

Mr Hamdok made his announcement just hours after two people were killed in mass protests against last October’s military coup.

In his speech, the prime minister said discussions were needed to agree on a new “national charter” and to “draw a road map” for a transfer to civilian rule.

“In view of the fragmentation of the political forces and conflicts between the [military and civilian] components of the transition … despite everything that has been done to reach a consensus … it has not happened,“ he said in a televised address.

Sudan is “crossing a dangerous turning point that threatens its whole survival,” he said, adding that he had “tried his best to stop the country from sliding towards disaster.”

His shock resignation came just two months after he was reinstated as prime minister, having been held under house arrest following the coup.

Mr Hamdok was accused of betraying the revolutionary movement after he signed an agreement with the military junta allowing it to hold on to power until planned elections in July 2023.

Protests have continued but have been met with violence by the authorities and the notorious Rapid Support Forces, formerly known as the Janjaweed.

Security forces were accused of mass rape and gang rape during a protest on December 19 last year before they shot four people dead at the end of the month.

The shooting of two men during yesterday’s protests in the city of Omdurman brought the total death toll since October to 56, according to the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors.

News channel Al Hadath quoted an adviser to military leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan as saying that the armed forces would not allow anyone to plunge Sudan into chaos, labelling the protests a “physical, psychological and mental drain on the country.”

Protesters have said that 2022 will be “the year of the continuation of the resistance” as they push for an immediate transition to civilian rule.

The Sudanese Communist Party, which played a leading role in the popular movement that ousted former president Omar al-Bashir in 2019, called for the liberation of the people “from the grip of the bloody military regime and its domestic and foreign supporters.

“Victory for the revolution of the great Sudanese people and shame on the military system, the servants of imperialism,” the party said. Morning Star

Abdalla Hamdok, a former UN official seen as the civilian face of Sudan's transitional government, had been reinstated as prime minister in November as part of an agreement with the military following the October coup.

 

Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok announced his resignation Sunday amid a political deadlock and widespread pro-democracy protests following a military coup that derailed the country's fragile transition to democratic rule.

Hamdok, a former UN official seen as the civilian face of Sudan's transitional government, had been reinstated as prime minister in November as part of an agreement with the military following the October coup. In that time he had failed to name a Cabinet and his resignation throws Sudan into political uncertainty amid uphill security and economic challenges.

In a televised national address Sunday, Hamdok called for a dialogue to agree on a “national charter” and to “draw a roadmap” to complete the transition to democracy in accordance with the 2019 constitutional document governing the transitional period.


“I decided to return the responsibility and declare my resignation as prime minister," he said, adding that his stepping down would allow a chance for another person to lead the nation and complete its transition to a “civilian, democratic country.” He did not name a successor.

The prime minister said his efforts to bridge the widening gap and settle disputes among the political forces have failed.

“I tried as much as I possibly could to prevent our country from sliding into a disaster. Now, our nation is going through a dangerous turning point that could threaten its survival unless it is urgently rectified,” he said.

The October coup had upended Sudan's plans to move to democracy after a popular uprising forced the military's overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist government in April 2019.

Four months after al-Bashir's ouster, the generals and the protesters reached a power-sharing deal to rule the country through elections in 2023. However, military-civilian ties have been frayed by the military takeover that has threatened to return Sudan to international isolation.

Hamdok's resignation comes amid a heavy security crackdown on protesters denouncing not only the takeover but the subsequent deal that reinstated him and sidelined the pro-democracy movement. He was returned to office in November amid international pressure in a deal that calls for an independent technocratic Cabinet under military oversight led by him.

“I have had the honour of serving my country people for more than two years. And during his period I have sometimes done well, and I have sometimes failed,” Hamdok said.

The Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, an umbrella group of Sudanese political parties and pro-democracy organizations, has rejected the November deal and remains committed to ending military rule. The alliance accused Hamdok of allowing the military to dominate the government, and continued to organize anti-coup street protests which were met with heavy crackdown.

Over the past two weeks, there was increasing speculation that he would step down. National and international efforts have failed to convince him to stay in office.

The US State Department urged on Twitter Sudan's leaders to “set aside differences, find consensus, and ensure continued civilian rule” following Hamdok's resignation.

It also called for the appointment of the next premier and Cabinet to “in line with the (2019) constitutional declaration to meet the people's goals of freedom, peace, and justice.”

 Hours before Hamdok's resignation speech, Sudanese security forces violently dispersed pro-democracy protesters, killing at least three people, according to the Sudan Doctors Committee, which is part of the pro-democracy movement. The group said dozens of protesters were injured.

The protests came despite tightened security and blocked bridges and roads in Khartoum and Omdurman. Internet connections were also disrupted ahead of the protests, according to advocacy group NetBlocs. Authorities have used such tactics repeatedly since the October 25 coup.

Sunday's fatalities have brought the death toll among protesters since the coup to at least 57, according to the medical group. Hundreds have also been wounded.

Allegations surfaced last month of sexual violence, including rape and gang rape by security forces against female protesters, according to the United Nations.

The ruling sovereign council has vowed to investigate violence against the protesters.

On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged security forces to “immediately cease the use of deadly force against protesters" and to hold those responsible for violence accountable.

“We do not want to return to the past, and are prepared to respond to those who seek to block the aspirations of the Sudanese people for a civilian-led, democratic government,” he added. Outlook/AP

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