Posts tagged as: asian

Public Debt Crosses Sh4 Trillion Mark As State Eyes More Loans

By Brian Ngugi

Kenya’s public debt crossed the Sh4 trillion mark at the end of March this year, reflecting the Jubilee government’s sharp appetite for loans.

This has raised fears of the country’s future ability to repay the mounting credit.

The latest Quarterly Economic and Budgetary Review report released Wednesday by the Treasury shows that total public debt has now risen to an equivalent of more than half (52.6 per cent) of the gross domestic product (GDP), on the back of massive increase in borrowing since the Jubilee administration took power four years ago.

The public debt comprises 51.9 per cent foreign and 48.1 per cent domestic loans.

“The gross public debt increased by Sh782.3 billion from Sh3.26 billion as at the end of March 2016 to Sh4.04 trillion, equivalent to 52.6 per cent of GDP by March 31, 2017,” says Treasury in the report tabled in Parliament.

“The overall increase is attributed to increased external debt due to exchange rate fluctuations, disbursements from external loans and more uptake of domestic debt during the period.” The rate of increase in the debt load, however, does not correspond with growth in revenue generation, indicating the widening gap and mounting pressure on government’s capacity to repay loans.

The ability to generate and grow tax revenue is a strong indicator of future ability to repay debt.

The Treasury report shows that the government’s cumulative revenue collection for the period July last year to March this year amounted to Sh984.6 billion against a target of Sh1.05 trillion.

“This represented an under-performance of Sh65.9 billion mainly due to shortfalls in income tax, (fees, charges and court fines) collection, Investment Income and Imports Declaration Fee (IDF),” says Treasury in its documents.

The total external debt stock including the international sovereign bond stood at Sh2.1 trillion at the period ending March 2017.

The debt stock comprised multilateral debt at 38.4 per cent, bilateral debt at 32.8 per cent, commercial banks debt at 28.3 per cent including international sovereign bond and suppliers’ credit debt at 0.5 per cent.

Corresponding to the rising debt load, foreign interest payments rose to Sh38.2 billion in the period compared to Sh26 billion in the same period of the 2015/16 financial year. On the other hand interest payments on domestic debt totaled Sh145.8 billion, which was higher than the Sh122.6 billion paid in the corresponding period of the previous financial year.

According to the budgetary review, Kenya’s loan repayment to China stood at Sh18 billion over the period representing over half of the total bilateral loans (Sh32.8 billion) highlighting the country’s growing appetite for Chinese loans.

Kenya this week committed to borrowing additional billions of shillings to finance the ongoing construction of the standard gauge railway (SGR) line indicating that the borrowings could soon take the debt load past 60 per cent of GDP level.

On Monday the government announced it is seeking an additional Sh370 billion ($3.59 billion) Chinese loan to extend the SGR from Naivasha to Kisumu, pushing the construction cost to Sh847 billion.

The country has in the past four years borrowed billions of shillings to finance power generation and road construction projects.

In addition to Sh327 billion spent on the first phase between Mombasa and Nairobi and Sh150 billion that the emerging Asian economy extended recently for the Nairobi-Naivasha section, the Chinese will have pumped a total of Sh847 billion in the venture.

This excludes interest on the loans that would push the overall cost beyond Sh1 trillion.

Quartet Begins Training for WTF World Championships

By Geoffrey Asiimwe

Two national taekwondo team players and two of their Para-Taekwondo counterparts began training on Monday at Amahoro indoor stadium ahead of the 2017 WTF World Championships and Asian Para-Taekwondo competitions slated for June and July respectively.

The World Taekwondo Championships will take place from June 24 to 30 in Muju, South Korea while the third edition of Asian Para-Taekwondo Championships will be hosted in Chuncheon, also in South Korea, on July 1.

At the World Taekwondo Championships, Rwanda will be represented by Regis Iyumva in the Men U-58kg category, while Aline Ndacyayisenga will compete in the Women U-53kg category.

For the Asian Para-Taekwondo Open that is meant for martial artists with physical impairments, Rwanda’s flag will be carried by Jean Claude Niringiyimana, who was named the International Paralympic Committee’s Allianz Athlete for the month of April and Jean Marie Vianney Bizumuremyi.

Niringiyimana will battle in the K44 Male under-61kg, while Bizumuremyi, the national team captain, will compete in the K42 Male under-61kg category.

During this year’s second edition of African Para-Taekwondo Open, which was hosted in Kigali, Niringiyimana and Bizumuremyi scooped silver medals in their respective fight categories.


Experts Discuss Continent’s Security Challenges

A three-day national security symposium opened, yesterday, at the Rwanda Defence Force Command and Staff College in… Read more »

Dar Secures Chinese Cassava Market

Cement giants to produce 7m tonnes, create 4,000 jobs for Tanzanians

TANZANIA is among the potential beneficiaries of additional Chinese financing amounting to 14.5 billion US dollars (over 30tri/-) to execute infrastructure projects through the Belt and Road initiative.

And this week, Tanzania and the world’s second economy are scheduled to ink two agreements to open Chinese markets for cassava from Tanzania and set up an industrial park and cement factory in Tanga. Speaking at the opening of the Belt and Road Forum yesterday, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged the additional 14.5 billion dollars into the existing Silk Road Fund.

Launched in 2013 by the Chinese to create an open economic system based on balanced trade, the Belt and Road initiative tracks down the ancient silkroad route used by the Chinese traders.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Co-operation, Dr Aziz Mlima, said the implementation of the Bagamoyo Port and its associated Special Economic Zone are among issues to feature at the global forum.

Launched in 2013 by the Chinese to create an open economic system based on balanced trade, the Belt and Road initiative tracks down the ancient silkroad route used by the Chinese traders.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Co-operation, Dr Aziz Mlima, said the implementation of the Bagamoyo Port and its associated Special Economic Zone are among issues to feature at the global forum.

“Agreements for the projects were signed during President Jinping visit to Tanzania in 2012; the stage is now for their execution,” Dr Mlima told ‘Daily News’ in a telephone interview, naming other African countries that will benefit from the funding as South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia and Congo-Brazzaville.

The Minister for Works, Communication and Transport, Prof Makame Mbarawa, is representing President John Magufuli, at the meeting that has drawn leaders and officials from all over the world. And, speaking to this paper shortly after President Jinping opening speech, Tanzania Ambassador to China, Mr Mbelwa Kairuki, said cassava farmers in Tanzania have been assured of ready market in the Asian country.

“It is a good opportunity for our farmers; Nigeria for instance exports 3.2 million tons of cassava to China every year, earning up to 800 million US dollars,” Ambassador Kairuki stated.

The envoy explained further that there would be agreement on a joint venture by the two largest Chinese cement producers, China-SINOMA and Hegya to build the industrial park and cement factory in Tanga region.

“The plant is expected to produce seven million tons of cement and create 4,000 jobs,” he stated. Tanga Regional Commissioner Martin Shigela is also attending the meeting.

In his opening speech, President Jinping said the China Development Bank and Export-Import Bank will set up special lending schemes worth 250 billion Yuan (about 36.2 billion US dollars) and 130 billion Yuan (18.8 billion dollars) to support cooperation on infrastructure and industries.

The Chinese leader as well pledged aid amounting to two billion Yuan (290 million US dollars) to developing countries along the Belt and Road and additional contribution of one billion US dollars to the Assistance Fund for South-South Cooperation.

He said China will sign business and trade co-operation agreements with over 30 countries and enter into consultation on free trade agreements with related countries.

Also, President Jinping sought to attract countries to join the ambitious “Belt and Road Initiative” as China seeks to connect nations along the new Silk Road routes through economic cooperation and infrastructure development.

He said during the past four years, there had been deepened policy connectivity, enhanced infrastructure and trade link in addition to expanded financial inclusion in line with the vision of the Belt and Road Initiative.

President Jinping hailed achievements made over the past four years, saying over 100 countries and international organisations have supported and got involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

He said China has signed cooperation agreements with over 40 countries and international organisations and carried out the framework cooperation on production capacity with over 30 countries.

At least 29 Heads of State and Government are attending the forum, the highest-profile international meeting on the Belt and Road since the Chinese President proposed the initiative in 2013.

Kenya: How Kenya Can Manage Its Increasing Dengue Fever Cases

analysisBy Andrew Githeko, Kenya Medical Research Institute

A public health alert for 150 dengue fever cases has been issued in Mombasa, Kenya. The Conversation Africa’s Health and Medicine Editor Joy Wanja Muraya spoke to Dr Andrew Githeko on the effective management of this disease whose spread is encouraged by water storage trends.

What causes dengue fever and what type of human behaviour favours its breeding?

Dengue fever, which is a mosquito-borne viral infection, is transmitted by two species of mosquito:

It’s transmitted by female mosquitoes mainly of the species Aedes aegypti which breeds in water containers in urban areas; and

Aedes albopictus, also called the Asian tiger mosquito, which prefers to lay its eggs in stagnant water in rural areas.

In 2016 there were about 390 million cases reported in the Pacific region, South East Asia and South America.

The first dengue outbreak in Kenya was reported in 1982 in the coastal region. In April to June 2013 and March to June 2014 outbreaks coincided with the long rain seasons that created a conducive breeding ground for the dengue mosquitoes.

There are two clinical forms of the disease referred to as dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever:

dengue fever has symptoms similar to malaria which includes headaches, fevers, joint pains, fatigue, muscle pains, skin rash, pain behind the eyes and vomiting; and

dengue hemorrhagic fever is a more serious form of the disease that causes bleeding which initially appears as tiny spots of blood on the skin and grows into larger patches. This causes shock which could be fatal.

Dengue fever is mostly an urban disease driven by human behaviours of storing water in open containers inside or around homes. These are excellent breeding grounds and the close proximity to human beings increases the risk of getting the disease.

In periods of warm and wet weather for example during El Nino, the mosquito population increases rapidly and the virus in the mosquito also develops very quickly. An infection with more than one type of dengue virus can cause dengue hemorrhagic fever.

What treatment and management is available in Kenya?

There is no specific treatment for dengue so it’s managed by treating the symptoms.

However, there’s ongoing promising research for a viable dengue vaccine. Before then, we must work diligently to control the mosquitoes. This can be done through:

Environmental sanitation: the removal of discarded water containers and the covering of water storage containers should be encouraged to prevent breeding habitats;

Fumigation of houses: spraying the walls in houses with insecticides is a successful strategy in controlling the mosquitoes. This type of mosquito is most active just before dark and bites its victims before they sleep under mosquito nets. Long sleeved clothing and mosquito repellent are also encouraged as self protection.

Prompt medical attention and referral: the earliest complaints of unusual headaches, fevers, joint pains and vomiting should be treated.

If health facilities are unable to effectively test and treat, they can be referred to the Kenya Medical Research Institute.

If the number of cases reported doubles, this calls for urgent mosquito control and fever management.

Dengue symptoms are similar to those of malaria. However the presence of pain behind the eyes and a skin rash suggests a viral infection. A malaria test should be carried out to rule it out.

Dengue symptoms can be managed by pain killers, increasing fluid intake and having plenty of bed rest. Aspirin should be avoided because it increases the risk of bleeding. Further referrals should be done urgently.

Why has dengue fever spread globally?

The global spread of dengue is worrying and this is driven by world trade, climate change, urbanisation , mosquito habits and insecticide resistance.

The eggs of the mosquito species can survive long periods under dry conditions thus encouraging their transportation over great distances in ships , even across continents. Air transport enables infected persons to carry disease to areas infested with dengue mosquitoes thus increasing local transmission of the disease.

Research has shown that the Asian tiger mosquitoes, Ae. albopictus, has spread to Africa, Europe and South America. Climate change has increased the spread of dengue fever indiscriminately.

Africa is becoming rapidly urbanised thus encouraging poor environmental sanitation which increases the breeding of dengue mosquitoes. Overpopulation encourages the rapid spread of the disease and the lack of access to health facilities increases the risk of severe outbreaks.

What is the way forward in controlling dengue fever?

Water stored in households should be covered and pools of water destroyed.

Safe insecticides should be used to control the mosquito population. If the mosquito population is high, fogging – using a fine pesticide spray to kill the mosquitoes – can be used to kill any flying mosquitoes. However the use of fogging to control Ae. aegypti in Brazil did not show clear evidence of efficacy on the disease.

Finally, it takes personal responsibility to observe environmental sanitation to avoid breeding of these mosquitoes, dressing appropriately and applying repellent before resorting to the insecticides.

In case they develop resistance to the insecticide, we will have fewer effective options to control these nuisance mosquitoes.

Disclosure statement

Andrew Githeko receives funding from NIH and WHO.

We produce knowledge-based, ethical journalism. Please donate and help us thrive. Tax deductible.

Africa: What Elephants Teach Us About Cancer Prevention

analysisBy Joshua Schiffman, University of Utah and Lisa Abegglen

Every time a cell divides, there is a chance for a mutation (mistake) to occur in the DNA – the substance that carries genetic information in all living organisms. These mutations can lead to cancer.

If all cells have a similar chance of developing cancer-causing mutations, then very large and long-lived animals with more cells undergoing more cell divisions should develop cancer at a higher rate than smaller, short-lived animals with fewer cells dividing over less time.

But in 1977, Sir Richard Peto noted that humans develop cancer at a rate similar to mice. This is despite having 1,000 times as many cells and living 30 times as long. Another example of this phenomenon can be found in elephants. They are 100 times larger than people and can live 60 to 70 years, and yet, their cancer rates are exceedingly low.

Peto proposed that evolutionary considerations might explain the differences in per-cell cancer incidence across species. When comparing cancer rates in mice and men, he proposed that as humans evolved to grow larger and live longer throughout evolutionary history – with more human cells dividing over a longer period of time – that they also evolved to resist cancer. This surprising cancer resistance found in larger, long-lived animals, like elephants, has become known as Peto’s Paradox.

Our research team provided the first empirical data documenting cancer across species in support of Peto’s Paradox.

We showed that cancer mortality does not increase with body size or life span. Actually, we observed that some larger, longer living animals may develop less cancer. We calculated elephant cancer mortality rates at less than 5%, compared to human cancer mortality rates of 11% to 25%.

Elephants have had 55 million years of development to figure out how to resist cancer, and we hope that we can one day apply these lessons to develop effective treatments for cancer.

Cancer resistance

Our team looked at the genome of the African elephant for changes in oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes. Oncogenes can cause cells to grow out of control while tumour suppressor genes slow down cell division. These are the two main types of genes that play a role in cancer and could help explain potential mechanisms of cancer resistance in elephants.

Our analysis revealed the shocking discovery that elephants express many extra genes derived from the critical tumour suppressor gene TP53.

TP53 is called the “Guardian of the Genome” due to its ability to protect cells from accumulating cancer causing mutations. The TP53 gene responds to DNA damage, or pre-cancer, by stopping the cell from dividing until the DNA can be repaired. If the cell cannot fix the DNA, then TP53 causes the cell to die through a process called apoptosis. Sacrificing damaged cells prevents the propagation of cells with mutations that could lead to cancer.

People with Li-Fraumeni Syndrome have a mutation in one copy of their TP53 genes, with more than 90% lifetime risk to develop cancer. This high rate of cancer associated with TP53 dysfunction illustrates the critical role that TP53 plays in protecting us from cancer.

Naturally cancer resistant

Our lab at the University of Utah studies the broken DNA damage response in people with Li-Fraumeni Syndrome who are missing their TP53 genes and have a very high rate of cancer.

When we learned that elephants were naturally cancer resistant and also had 20 times as much TP53 as humans (40 gene copies total in elephants vs. 2 gene copies in healthy humans), we teamed up with Dr. Carlo Maley, an evolutionary and cancer biologist who helped to make the initial discovery about extra elephant TP53.

We used our clinical and research experience from studying patients with Li-Fraumeni Syndrome to try to understand if elephant TP53 could be playing a role in protecting elephants from cancer. Because we already were measuring TP53 function in people with and without Li-Fraumeni Syndrome, we could use the same laboratory tests to measure how elephant cells responded to DNA damage.

To perform these experiments, we collaborated closely with Utah’s Hogle Zoo (who have African elephants) as well as Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey Circus (who have Asian elephants). Both groups routinely draw blood from their elephants to monitor their health, and we received approval to study the blood when it was drawn for these routine elephant health screening procedures.

The blood was sent to our lab where the white blood cells, called lymphocytes, were exposed to ionising radiation to induce DNA breakage. We monitored how quickly broken DNA was repaired in the African and Asian elephant lymphocytes compared to human lymphocytes.

We predicted that elephant cells would repair their DNA faster than human cells, but discovered that the rate of DNA repair was similar between elephant and human cells. But we noticed something interesting about the elephant cells after it was exposed to radiation: more elephant cells than human cells underwent programmed cell death or apoptosis.

We next undertook rigorous experiments to compare the percent of elephant cells vs. human cells vs. Li-Fraumeni Syndrome cells that died from DNA damage, or pre-cancer.

We discovered that the amount of apoptosis correlated with the number of TP53 genes and that this followed the same pattern of lifetime cancer risk – elephants (~5%), humans (~50%), patients with LFS (~90%). This makes sense because more TP53 makes the cell more effective at removing pre-cancer cells that could go on to form cancer.

Learning from elephants to help people

We showed that elephant TP53 helps elephants to more quickly remove pre-cancerous cells with DNA damage and that this possibly contributes to elephant cancer resistance.

Now, we are focusing our research efforts to better understand the specific mechanism of how elephant TP53 works. The ultimate goal of our laboratory work is to help patients who already have cancer, and maybe even those people who could be at risk for cancer in the future.

We want to see if we can translate this fascinating discovery into an effective treatment for cancer, or maybe even potentially as a cancer prevention strategy. In the end, we are working to create a world with more elephants and less cancer.

Disclosure statement

Joshua Schiffman owns shares in PEEL Therapeutics and

Lisa Abegglen does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

The Conversation is a non-profit + your donation is tax deductible. Help knowledge-based, ethical journalism today.

Uhuru, Ruto Urge Kenyans to Reject Divisive Leaders

By Pscu

Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged Kenyans to reject politicians who want to drag down the country through divisive politics. He said Kenya can only sustain its growth through politics that is constructive and devoid of incitement and divisions.

The President said Kenyans should reflect on how Kenya suffered from previous occurrences of violence and discord.

“As we enter the election season, we must remember that violence and discord has always been at the expense of the worker. They have led to layoffs, lack of investment, and suffering,” said the President.

He said the rich Asian countries that had economies smaller than Kenya fifty years ago achieved their growth by holding on to their peace and stability for long.

“We have built a good foundation to transform our country, and in the last four years we have laid the necessary foundations for a rapid upward rise,” said the President when he spoke at the Labour Day celebrations at Uhuru Park, Nairobi.

He urged all Kenyans to embrace peace and reject those who make their politics through division and incitement.

Deputy President William Ruto said as the country goes for elections, Kenyans need to be reminded that power is not about sharing positions among the elite but rather it is about implementing policies and programmes aimed at creating wealth to be shared among the public.

“We must be reminded that power is not the sharing of the elite it is for the empowerment of every citizen of the great republic of Kenya and it’s not for sharing positions that will change, it is the creation of jobs,” said the Deputy President.

COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli commended President Kenyatta and his Deputy for ensuring free, fair and transparent nominations of their Jubilee Party saying peaceful and transparent nominations are a precursor of peaceful general elections.

He also on behalf of workers wished President Kenyatta success in the coming election and called on all political players to ensure peaceful campaigns so as to maintain the economic growth being experienced in the country.

“We are aware that you have already appealed for the same and your government is totally committed towards making sure that we have peaceful elections and we equally appeal to Kenyans and our political leaders across the political divide to accept the full results of the same without reverting to violence” said the COTU Secretary General.


Europe to Observe Kenyan, but Not Rwandan, Polls

The contrast in elections in Rwanda and Kenya, which both go to the polls in August, has come to the fore with the… Read more »

Boxing Team Start Preps for 2017 African Championships

By Jejje Muhinde

Rwanda Amateur Boxing Association (RABA) will send pugilists to the African Confederation Boxing Championships (AFBC), scheduled from May 27 to June 4 in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.

RABA president, Vicky Kalisa, revealed that they had two options, either to send the boxers for the East African Games in Uganda or the African Confederation Boxing Championship in Congo.

“After weighing our options, we have decided to prepare the boxers for the African championship because it acts as the qualifier for World Boxing Championships in Germany, which will also be a qualifier to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” he said.

Kalisa added, “A team of 15 boxers have already begun training, but we shall cut the number down to six, given the available resources.”

In the last edition hosted by Morocco two years ago, Rwanda did not participate.

Rwanda last competed at a continental event back in May 2014 when Jean Pierre Cyiza took part in the All Africa Youth Games held in Botswana, bringing home Rwanda’s first medal (bronze) in boxing.

Meanwhile, the German city of Hamburg is preparing to host the 19th AIBA Boxing Championships for the first time.

Qualification for Hamburg comes in the form of the AIBA Continental Championships to be held between May and June.

The road to Hamburg begins in the Uzbekistan capital of Tashkent, with the ASBC Asian Championships running from April 30 to May 7 before Congo Brazzaville hosts the AFBC African Championships next month.


Rwanda, Ethiopia Expand Bilateral Ties

Rwanda and Ethiopia agreed on new areas of cooperation at a meeting which concluded in Kigali on Tuesday, an official… Read more »

Nigeria: Banks, Customs Culpable in Alleged N30 Trillion Fraud in 11 Years – Senate

The Senate Committee on Customs, Exercise and Tariff has commenced investigation into the more than N30 trillion fraud allegedly carried out in the import, export value chain between 2006 and 2017.

The Chairman of the committee, Hope Uzodinma, made this known at an investigative meeting with some of the commercial banks, alleged to be accomplices in the fraud.

The chairman said the committee would do everything possible to ensure that the mandate given to it by the Upper Chamber to recover and block leakages would be carried out to the latter.

“You recall Senate in plenary mandated this committee to investigate and identify areas of revenue leakages in the entire import and export circle.

“The committee has started investigation. We took time to enter into the import and export value chain and we have been able to identify areas of leakages and malpractices.

“This is ranging from unutilised Form Ms, abandoned Form Ms, partially abandoned Form Ms, abandoned assessment of Customs Duties and foreign exchange allocation manipulation.

“We have been able to go into the database of the operating system of Nigeria Customs Service otherwise called ASCODA.

“We identified Form M by Form M, import by import, vessel by vessel, liabilities of importers and commercial banks that are yet to be handled.

“We are talking about monies in regions of over 30 trillion and we have been able to give all these information to the various commercial banks that purchase foreign exchange on behalf of the importers.

“We met with the banks today and asked them to go home and come back in three weeks to show us evidence of utilization of the forex.

“Failure of which they will be compelled to refund those foreign exchange they bought from Central Bank or Inter Bank to be used for import,” he said.

He stressed that the amount of foreign exchange given to commercial banks and importers by the Federal Government for importation was not utilised as agreed.

According to him, the fraudulent act has led to scarcity of foreign exchange in the market, while the foreign exchange conceded to importers are not tied to activities of importation.

He noted that the development was unhealthy, adding that it had led to some Asian countries round tripping and sending monies out of the country without due process.

The chairman lamented that the practice had contributed to high exchange rate in the country over time.

“I am sure by the time we conclude this investigation and action plan is drawn, the exchange rate will come down drastically because only genuine importers will now enjoy government forex allocation.

“All commercial banks in the country are accomplices in this matter. They are all involved both the ones that are dead and the ones living.

“The ones that are no more operating were acquired by some banks. So, the activities of those that are no longer in operation are tied to those that acquired them as part of the liabilities.”

He said banks were part of the investigation because they were fully aware of the regulations when dealing with importers.

He pointed out that the foreign exchange utilisation manual prepared by CBN was a regulation guiding import and export, which entrusted commercial banks with the responsibility when purchasing money on behalf of importers.

He said that “under the Agency Statute, once you are acting on behalf of somebody the offence or the inaction of that person is your own inaction.

“By the time the banks carry out know your customer programme they know the address of these importers.

“They are also the ones that opened Form M for the importers, purchased foreign exchange for them and the regulation requires them to monitor to ensure that importers pay the correct customs duty on importation.

“It is the responsibility of the banks to know and confirm that the documents sent that would warrant the release of forex is genuine. It is contained in the manual.

“If we do things right, this country will get it right and irrespective of where you come from we will become the Giant of Africa which God created us to be.

The lawmaker further said that the committee had interfaced with shipping companies in this regard.

He said the committee was able to identify the infractions caused by the shipping companies and mandated Shippers Council that regulate their activities to follow through.

He stressed that what the committee was doing was not only a probe but a way to ensure that all relevant stakeholders worked together to help in the economic recovery process.

He said, “I can tell you that if government takes this very seriously, and all these potholes are blocked, government will move forward.


South Africa: Senior Citizens Better Off As Life Expectancy Improves

Cape Town — Statistician General Pali Lehohla says data shows that elderly persons are better off in terms of socio-economic conditions, as their life expectancy improves.

Releasing the Social Profile of Older Persons report during a media briefing in Pretoria on Wednesday, Lehohla said despite challenges like exposure to crime, the living conditions of elderly people improved over a five-year period between 2011 and 2015.

“The statistics show that … life expectancy is [increasing], so we have more years to live… There is an improvement there.

“We see elderly people living in conditions slightly better in terms of housing, water and electricity.

“We see elderly people accessing social grants. If you look at 2002 and now, [the number of elderly people receiving grants] jumped to 3.5 million,” he said.

Presenting the report to journalists, Lehohla said the percentage of persons aged 60 years and older who lived below the upper-bound of poverty line decreased from 84.8% in 2009 to 80.9% in 2011.

He said the elderly who lived below the lower-bound of poverty line decreased by 7.2% – from 83.4% to 76.2% between 2009 and 2011.

Between 2011 and 2015, grants and salaries or wages or commission were the main sources of income for households headed by older persons, accounting for over half of the distribution share.

Over 3.1 million of persons aged 60 years and older were recipients of an old-age grant in 2015 compared to 2.7 million in 2011.

The population of elderly people stood at 4.5 million in 2016.

“We see elderly people living in conditions that are slightly better compared to 2011,” Lehohla said.

Life expectancy improves amongst elderly persons

According to the report, the life expectancy of males increased from 53.6 to 59.7 years, while for females, it went up from 56.6 to 65.1 years.

The elderly population accounts for 8.1% of South Africa’s population – which is a proportional increase of 0.1 of a percentage point, compared to elderly people accounting for 8% of the overall population in 2011.

The three health conditions that are most common amongst the elderly persons were high blood pressure (45.3%), diabetes (15.8%) and arthritis (13.8%).

In terms of health benefits, only 22.9% of the elderly in South Africa were members of medical aid schemes in 2015.

The percentage of persons aged 60 years and older, who were covered by a medical aid or medical benefit scheme or other private health insurance, was highest amongst elderly white (73.5%) and Indian/Asian persons (33.9%).

Only 6% of black African elderly persons and 16.6% of coloured elderly persons were members of a medical aid scheme.

He said, meanwhile, that there has been a reduction in illiteracy across all provinces.

“In relation to functional literacy, the elderly are much more functionally literate.”

Kenya: Kenyan Doctor to Promote Chinese Medicine in Kenya

Nairobi — A Kenya doctor trained in China is planning to promote the use of Chinese medicine in Kenya.

Dr Mwamaka Sharifu, who is currently pursuing doctoral studies in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, told Xinhua in Nairobi that Chinese medicine offers numerous benefits over conventional medicine.

“Chinese medicine tends to focus on the whole person and can promotes long-term well being of the person,” Sharifu said during a ceremony where Sino-Africa Firefly Charity donated foodstuffs to victims of a fire that occurred in the Kibera slums.

During the event, Sharifu was appointed as an ambassador of the Sino-Africa Firefly Charity.

“I will use the platform to promote people to people Sino-Africa relations,” she added.

Sharifu said that Chinese medicine is even more relevant in Kenya today because it is effective in curing and controlling non-communicable disease whose cases are on increase.

Sharifu, 31, is of Afro-Chinese ancestry.

Over 600 years a Chinese ship sunk off the East Africa coastline close to port of Lamu. Sharifu traces her roots to the Chinese survivors who swam to the shore and married locals.

Her journey to study in China began in 2004, when she finished high school and her parents could not afford to pay her fees to study in university.

“I decided to write a letter to the Chinese embassy in Nairobi for scholarship to study in China,” she said.

She left for China in 2005 after receiving a scholarship to study in the Asian nation.

Sharifu completed an undergraduate degree in Chinese medicine in 2012 and her masters three years later in Western and Chinese medicine.

The Kenyan doctor hopes to complete her doctoral studies in 2018 and thereafter relocate to Kenya.

“I hope to work in hospitals and universities from where I will help to increase awareness of the advantages of Chinese medicine,” she told Xinhua.

She explained that a number of Kenyan universities have decided to start programs in Chinese medicine.


Kenyatta Blames Raila Odinga for 2007/08 Poll Chaos

President Kenyatta now claims Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga played a central role in 2007/8 violence. Read more »

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