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Uganda’s Cabinet spearheads adoption of Kiswahili

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DAILY MONITOR

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The Ugandan Government has endorsed the establishment of the Uganda National Kiswahili Council whose main objective is to guide the introduction of Kiswahili as the second national (official) language.

Addressing journalists about the Cabinet decision at State House Entebbe on Monday, Mr Ofwono Opondo, the executive director of Uganda Media Centre, said that the establishment of the council is provided for in the Constitution and it’s mandated to ensure that Kiswahili is rooted as the second national language. 

“The Constitution provides that we shall have two national languages [that is] English and Swahili but we have not been using Swahili. This council will be recruiting Swahili teachers who will be deployed to teach Swahili in schools,” he said.

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He said the council will also oversee the establishment of a policy, legal and institutional framework for setting standards for effective promotion, development and usage of Kiswahili at all levels.

English has been Uganda’s lone official language since independence in 1962.

In 2005, Kiswahili, which is viewed as neutral, was proposed as the country’s second official language.

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Document trove shows how ‘Africa’s richest woman’ stole fortune: ICIJ

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AFP

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An award-winning investigative team published a trove of files Sunday allegedly showing how Africa’s richest woman syphoned hundreds of millions of dollars of public money into offshore accounts.

The New York-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) worked with newspapers such as Munich’s Suddeutsche Zeitung to reveal the “Panama Papers” tax haven scandal in 2016.

Its latest series called “Luanda Leaks” zeros in on Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of former Angola president Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

Angola’s prosecutors last month froze the bank accounts and assets owned by the 46-year-old businesswoman and her Congolese husband Sindika Dokolo, which she described as a groundless political vendetta.

“Based on a trove of more than 715,000 files, our investigation highlights a broken international regulatory system that allows professional services firms to serve the powerful with almost no questions asked,” the ICIJ wrote.

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The group said its team of 120 reporters in 20 countries was able to trace “how an army of Western financial firms, lawyers, accountants, government officials and management companies helped (dos Santos and Dokolo) hide assets from tax authorities”.

Dos Santos took to Twitter to refute the claims, launching a salvo of around 30 tweets in Portuguese and English, and accusing journalists involved in the investigation of telling “lies”.

“My fortune is built on my character, my intelligence, education, capacity for work, perseverance,” she wrote.

She also blasted “the racism and prejudice” of SIC-Expresso, a Portuguese TV station and newspaper, and member of the ICIJ, “that recall the colonial era when an African could never be considered equal to a European”.

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Dos Santos’s lawyer dismissed the ICIJ findings as a “highly coordinated attack” orchestrated by Angola’s current rulers, in a statement quoted by The Guardian newspaper.

Dos Santos herself told BBC Africa the file dump was part of a “witch hunt” meant to discredit her and her father.

The former president’s daughter headed Angola’s national oil company Sonangol. Forbes magazine last year estimated her net worth at $2.2 billion.

Her father’s successor Joao Lourenco forced her out of the oil company after becoming president in 2017.

Dos Santos said on Wednesday that she would consider running for president in the next election in 2022.

The ICIJ investigation said Western consulting firms such as PwC and Boston Consulting Group were “apparently ignoring red flags” while helping her stash away public assets.

“Regulators around the globe have virtually ignored the key role Western professionals play in maintaining an offshore industry that drives money laundering and drains trillions from public coffers,” the report said.

Its document trove included redacted letters allegedly showing how consultants sought out ways to open non-transparent bank accounts.

One confidential document allegedly drafted by Boston Consulting in September 2015 outlined a complex scheme for the oil company to move its money offshore.

The investigation also published a similar 99-page presentation from KPMG.

None of the companies named issued immediate statements in response to the investigation.

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East Africa: Lapsset Project Adopted By AU in Move to Boost Continent’s Free Trade Area

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Kenya’s mega Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (Lapsset) Corridor Programme has been adopted as an African Union project and redesigned to link the Lamu port on the eastern African Coast of the Indian Ocean to Douala port in the western Africa Atlantic Ocean.

The adoption means it is now under the African Union and elevates the project’s status to attract foreign direct investment and other financiers compared with its status during the launch in 2012. It also means the implementation will now be a regional affair under the AU, and will be important to the realisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The Africa Union’s High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa, Raila Odinga, made the announcement at a ceremony last week in Mombasa, Kenya. The ceremony was attended by ministers from Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan, who signed a memorandum of understanding for development and funding, which was preceded by a three-day technical team meeting to discuss the future of the project.

The meeting was also attended by prospective financiers of the project including the African Development Bank (AfDB), the United Nations Economic Mission of Africa and the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa Development (Nepad).

Last July, the Lapsset Development Authority applied — to the AU Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), under Nepad and subsequently to the Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative (PICI) project under the AU Commission — for consideration under the AU flagship projects of Agenda 2063 after facing financial constraints and lack of political will, which has slowed its implementation.

The Lapsset authority argued that the project had potential to boost continental integration.

Mr Daniel Osiemo, Nepad Kenya’s representative, said the corridor project is the only PIDI project and the largest in eastern Africa with a market catchment of more than 160 million people.

“This infrastructure development will promote the achievement of the AfCFTA and the inter connectivity will enhance movement of goods and services,” said Mr Osiemo, adding, “Lack of infrastructure was cited as a major impediment in doing business and this project will create a link from Lamu port and help ease trade by reducing the distance through an efficient land transport system.”

“Ethiopia is a large country and we need infrastructure to make business cheaper, that is why we are investing in the Lapsset corridor and we have already tarmacked more than 500 kilometres of road from Moyale to Awasa. Our presence here should send a clear signal that we are for the project,” said Ethiopia’s ambassador to Kenya Melos Alem, who witnessed the signing of the MoU. He refuted claims that Ethiopia had abandoned the Lapsset project in favour of Eritrea’s ports of Assab and Massawa, which are closer to the country. He also added that southern Ethiopia, with a population of 50 million people, will be best served by the Lamu port.

The initial design of the project was to cover Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan, but the redesign and adoption by the AU will see the project connect East Africa with West Africa to facilitate the AfCFTA and also make it easy when lobbying to be considered under the AU programme.

“The new regional project implementation programme will assist partner countries to hasten the development of the project and this commitment will attract more financiers to bring this project to success. In the past, each country has been funding its own projects but the MoU will facilitate crowd funding,” said Mr Odinga.

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“The project has been adopted by the AU and this will give it an upper hand in crowd funding,” said Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport James Macharia.

The project will comprise roads, railways, ports, pipelines and special economic zones, to be implemented in two phases, starting with the Lamu-Isiolo-Addis Ababa to Djibouti by road and rail, while the second phase will connect Lamu to Kribi/Doula in Cameroon via Juba in South Sudan and Bangui in Central African Republic.

Lapsset joins the ranks of other continental corridors such as East Africa’s Northern Corridor and Central Corridor.

Some of the projects under the Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative being considered by the AU are the Nigeria-Algeria gas pipeline project (Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline); Missing links on the Trans-Sahara highway and optic fibre link between Algeria and Nigeria; Dakar-Ndjamena-Djibouti road/rail project. Others are North-South Corridor road/rail project; Kinshasa-Brazzaville bridge road/rail project; Unblocking political bottlenecks for ICT broadband and optic fibre projects linking neighbouring states and construction of navigational line between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean Sea.