Posts tagged as: communication

Nigeria: ITU Report Suggests Surge in Mobile Broadband Subscriptions

By Bankole Orija

Mobile broadband subscriptions have grown over 20% annually in the last five years and are expected to reach 4.3 billion globally by the end of 2017.

This is according to the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU’s) ICT Facts and Figures 2017, which also shows a significant increase in broadband access and subscriptions, with China leading the way.

New data released by ITU shows 830 million young people are online, representing 80% of the youth population in 104 countries. The global ICT data shows youths (15- to 24-year-olds) are at the forefront of Internet adoption.

In least developed countries (LDCs), up to 35% of individuals using the Internet are aged 15-24, compared with 13% in developed countries and 23% globally. In China and India alone, up to 320 million young people use the Internet.

“ITU’s ICT Facts and Figures 2017 shows great strides are being made in expanding Internet access through the increased availability of broadband networks,” says ITU secretary general Houlin Zhao.

“Digital connectivity plays a critical role in bettering lives, as it opens the door to unprecedented knowledge, employment and financial opportunities for billions of people worldwide.”

Between 2012 and 2017, LDCs saw the highest growth-rate of mobile broadband subscriptions, says ITU. Despite this, it points out the number of mobile subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in LDCs is the lowest globally at 23%.

The UN specialised agency notes the number of fixed-broadband subscriptions has increased by 9% annually in the last five years, with up to 330 million subscriptions added.

There has been an increase in high-speed fixed broadband subscriptions parallel to the growth in the number of fibre connections, it adds.

Most of the increase in high-speed fixed broadband subscriptions in developing countries can be attributed to China, which accounts for 80% of all fixed-broadband subscriptions at 10Mbit/s or above in the developing world, says ITU.

Mobile broadband prices, as a percentage of gross national income per capita, dropped by half between 2013 and 2016, the report shows, adding mobile broadband is more affordable than fixed broadband in most developing countries.

According to ITU, while the Internet user gender gap has narrowed in most regions since 2013, the proportion of men using the Internet remains slightly higher than the proportion of women using the Internet in two-thirds of countries worldwide.

It also emerged from the report that international Internet bandwidth grew by 32% between 2015 and 2016, with Africa registering an increase of 72% during this period, the highest of all regions.

Global telecommunication revenue declined by 4% from $2 trillion in 2014 to $1.9 trillion in 2015. Developing countries, which are home to 83% of the global population, generate 39% of the world’s telecommunication revenue.

ITU’s ICT Facts and Figures demonstrates that ICTs continue to play an increasingly critical role in achieving the global Sustainable Development Goals.

“ICTs continue to be a key enabler of economic and social development, bridging the digital divide and fostering an inclusive digital economy,” notes ITU telecommunication development bureau director Brahima Sanou.

Nigeria: Violation of Corporate Governance By Telcos to Attract Sanctions

By Adeyemi Adepetun

As part of measures targeted to safeguard the $68 billion investments in the telecommunications sector, the industry’s Code of Corporate Governance has become mandatory.

Although it became mandatory by November 2016, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said non-compliance with the code henceforth would be met with heavy sanctions.

In an interaction with journalists on Monday in Lagos, NCC’s Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management (ECSM), Sunday Dare, said Nigeria’s telecommunications industry must be guided by global best practices, to sustain the investments and attract more, as such, the enforcement of the code becomes mandatory.

Dare, who explained that the Corporate Governance Code was introduced in 2012, which was then voluntary, said an agreement in the industry revalidated the code in 2014, and became mandatory by November 2016. “But henceforth, the Commission will monitor strict compliance with the code.”

He noted that if compliance to the code was properly monitored, “probably what happened to Etisalat, now 9mobile, might not have happened.” Dare, who alerted operators that compliance will be vigorously monitored, however said the code is not intended to micro manage any of the service providers.

According to him, while sanctions are inevitable for erring operators, “there will also be reward for good behaviour.” He argued that such codes are not peculiar to the telecommunications industry, as it was already in place in the banking sector, stock market, and a host of others.

Also speaking, the Chairman, Code of Corporate Governance Working Group, Felix Adeoye, said most of the telecommunications companies have gone beyond just being a private firm, to becoming somewhat public, “because they are holding peoples’ money. Some subscribers have up to N250, 000 Airtime on their phones, even above that. So, there must be constant check on them to ensure there is no abuse.”

Meanwhile, at the sensitization programme on the code yesterday, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umaru Danbatta, said the code will still pass through some modifications, based on contributions made by stakeholders at the programme.

Danbatta said the issue of sanction is usually the last option, stressing that there have been situations where telecoms operators ignore laws, “sanctions are regulatory actions and usually the last resort. We shall continue to engage the industry, because the sector is critical to the survival of the economy.”

To the Chairman, NCC Board, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, in his welcome address, the move is in line with the Federal Government Change mantra and the ease of doing business drive and is like the African leaders peer view mechanism and it is expected that the industry reaches a self-regulatory phase in the nearest future.

“The recent, rather unacceptable, events in the industry have also brought to the fore the need for Board Corporate governance and the commission has resolved to improve Economic Regulatory compliance and adherence to the Code of Corporate Goverance. As it is said, ‘once beaten is twice shy’,” he stated.

The NCC said it discovered significant deviations from the key principles contained in the Code, therefore, there was urgent need for all operators to fully align with these principles in order to ensure that the industry moved on the same trajectory.

Checks by The Guardian on the Code showed that compliance is mandatory for all licensees that meet one or more of a number of criteria. These are spread of operations of the licensee covering a minimum of three geo-political zones; turnover of the licensee is in excess of N1billion; the number of staff employed is in excess of 200, and where the licensee has a subscriber base of 500,000 or more.

In the area of tenure and re-election of directors, the code explained that to ensure continuity and injection of fresh ideas, a Director may serve on a board for a period of three terms of five years each. No director shall serve on any board for a period exceeding 15 years.

Subject to satisfactory performance and the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act(CAMA), all Directors shall be submitted for re-election at regular intervals of five years. In order to guide decision of shareholders, names and sufficient biographical details of Directors nominated for re-election should be accompanied by performance evaluation statement and any other relevant information.

The Code also mandated that companies are expected to present a fair, balanced, understandable and transparent assessment of the licensee’s position and prospects to external stakeholders.

“Boards should develop a corporate reporting model that is tailored to the needs of shareholders and other stakeholders.

Nigeria: NCC to Punish Telcos Over Pre-Registered SIM Cards

By Ugo Onwuaso

Nigerian Telecommunications Commission (NCC) has ordered mobile telecommunications firms to block pre-registered SIM cards, believed to be what criminals, especially kidnappers, armed robbers and fraudsters are using to perpetuate crime across the country.

Ismail Adedigba, NCC deputy director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, also warned that severe punishment awaits any provider whose network is still carrying pre-registered sim card

Adedigba, who chaired the commission’s 87th consumer outreach in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, frowned at complaints about the existence of pre-registered sim cards insisting that “I expected to hear that all sim cards are registered. But I have issues with Service Providers here, how did we get these pre-registered Sims to start with?

“I think your networks should have the total number of available lines and the total number of subscribers in your database, and as such you should be able to know which Sims age registered and those that are not registered and automatically deactivate those that are pre-registered and those that are not properly registered.

“But a situation where are still having pre-registered SIM cards with the advancement in technology today, is a surprise to me, and note that a severe punishment awaits any provider whose network is still carrying pre-registered SIM cards.”

The Deputy Director also urged the service providers to step up their services to save some of the frustrations their consumers are going through because of poor service delivery.

According to him, there is presently no known cancer case or any other health challenge traceable to telecommunication masts and asked the public to save themself the fear that the electro magnate radiation from the network equipment causes skin cancer or any other type of disease.

He said: “As at today, there is no health implication, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). So there is no health research and well-known health implication of mast as at today. You should not prevent the service provider from deploying masts.

The more masts we have, the better quality service we have.

“At the NCC, we believe consumer is the king in the palace market. Therefore, the consumer must accord basic rights such as rights to be heard, right to be educated, right to redress as well as right to safety.”

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Zimbabwe: Telecoms Regulatory Body Mulls Licencing Virtual Network Operators

By John Kachembere

The Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) is finalising licence guidelines for virtual network operators, opening the door for a new class of players who will act like retailers for telecom service providers.

Zimbabwe currently has three mobile network operators, Econet Wireless, Telecel Zimbabwe and NetOne and one fixed telecommunication operator, Telone.

Africom and Powertel are data networks operating limited mobile telecommunication services.

Government has, however, been under pressure to license new players such as South Africa’s MTN to allow for increased competition and improved services to subscribers.

POTRAZ said the country has limited spectrum to license new telecommunication companies and was working on various ways to accommodate new entrants into the sector.

“The current licensing regime is being reviewed to allow virtual network operators (VNOs) to participate in the sector, thereby opening up the sector to more players at the downstream level. This is meant to boost innovation and competition through adoption of open access policies,” POTRAZ director general, Gift Machengete, told The Financial Gazette.

A virtual network operator is a wireless communications service provider that does not own the wireless network infrastructure over which it provides services to its customers.

According to international practices, the operator enters into a business agreement with an existing mobile network operator to obtain bulk access to network services at wholesale rates, and then sets retail prices independently.

A virtual network operator may use its own customer service, billing support systems, marketing, and sales personnel, or it could employ the services of a mobile virtual network enabler.

Telecommunication experts assert that the entry of VNOs is expected to push down the cost of providing telecommunication services.

Machengete said the licensing of VNOs would also result in the country’s data tariffs significantly coming down.

Zimbabwe currently has one of the highest data tariffs in the region.

“We do believe that such VNOs and mobile virtual network operators will not only bring in additional competition to the market but will also bring about the much needed innovation and customer-centric service provision,” he said.

Mobile virtual network operators’ agreements with network operators date back to the 1990s, when the European telecoms market saw market liberalisation, new regulatory frameworks, better 2G network technology, and a subsequent jump in wireless subscriber numbers.

To date, there are over 1 017 virtual network operators across the world, with Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Australia, Denmark, Spain, Poland, Belgiumand Japan leading the way.

South African telecommunications expert, Themba Napakade, however, said government’s proposal to license VNOs would prejudice local mobile network operators that have already invested heavily in the sector.

“There is a case for mobile virtual network operators in a market that is saturated and developed, but then the case of developing countries, like Zimbabwe where you still battle to even get a proper signal and 2G or 3G let alone LTE, it does not make business sense for the operators to spend a lot of money and allow another entrant that will come in and disrupt their operations,” said Napakade, who runs a telecommunications consultancy in South Africa.

He pointed out that since virtual network operators do not own or invest in infrastructure such as the telecoms switches, radio network and signalling equipment, base stations, ancillary power infrastructure, rating engines and the human locator registers, the central repositories of all users or subscribers of an telecoms operator, they would prejudice those who have already invested.

Cellphones Generate More Tax than Beer – Report

Photo: The Citizen

A National Bureau of Statistics report shows that since 2004/05 beer was the largest contributor of revenue from excise but things changed in 2013/14.

By Nuzulack Dausen

Dar es Salaam — It is official: mobile phones are now leading generators of excise tax, overtaking beer.

A National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report shows that since 2004/05 beer was the largest contributor of revenue from excise but things changed in 2013/14 when mobile phones took the lead.

This came after the tremendous growth of mobile phone usage in the country that has been prompted by ever increasing demand in communication especially in voice, internet and mobile money services.

Tax Statistics Report 2015/16 shows that since in 2013/14 mobile phones have been accounting for more than 28 per cent of total domestic excise tax, leaving beer at an average of 25 per cent.

The report reveals that the revenue from the electronic gadgets has grown tremendously by more than 25 times from Sh9.7 billion in 2004/05 to Sh246.6 billion in 2015/16. Beer domestic excise duty has risen from Sh52.1 billion to Sh216.6 billion in 2015/16.

Analysts say this shows the contribution of mobile phones to the national economic growth can be higher if excise duty is reduced to increase communication.

“Tanzania has the highest excise rate in the East African Community. It’s 17 per cent while Rwanda’s is eight per cent and Kenya’s is 10-12 per cent,” said Auditax International expert Shabu Maurus.

He said telecom companies had been urging the government to reduce the rate to make communication inexpensive, to no avail. Mr Maurus suggests that it is important for the government and mobile phone companies to agree on win-win model for rural areas to enjoy reliable communication.

“Most studies done in the past including that of 2015 by GSMA — a trade body that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide — shows that a reduction in excise tax rates will increase communication, which will in turn, boost the government revenues.”

However, the taxman says it is the growth in the use of communication services that made mobile phones raise their share of revenue from domestic excise taxes.

“People nowadays use mobile phones not only for voice call alone but for more uses such as mobile money services and social networks like WhatsApp,” said the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) director of information and tax education, Mr Richard Kayombo. “That’s why mobile phones have contributed more than other products in the tax category.” He said excise tax rates in telecommunication sector “are the same across the region”.

In 2013/14 financial year the government introduced a 14.5 percent excise duty in all mobile phones instead of taxing airtime alone. Excise duty of Sh1,000 was slapped on each Sim card, but the public protested. The 2.5 per cent of the revenue from mobile phones excise duty was to fund the education sector.

The government then increased excise tax to wired and wireless telephones. Unlike in mobile phones, beer excise tax has been increasing almost every financial year, sometimes adjusted to fit with inflation.

For example, the excise duty for all beer, except that from locally unmalted cereals jumped from Sh382 per litre in 2010/11 to Sh765 per litre this financial year.

According to the report, total revenue from total domestic excise revenue in 2015/16 was Sh868.6 billion almost two times of what was collected in 2011/12.

Nigeria: ‘What3words Will Boost Nigeria’s Addressing System’

interviewBy Adeyemi Adepetun

Chris Sheldrick is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of what3words, the simplest way to communicate locations. The UK-based company solves the problem that roughly 75 per cent of the world faces: inconsistent, complicated, poor, or no addressing. By carving the global map up into 57 trillion 3mx3m squares, what3words created a universal addressing system that uses a unique string of three words to specify any location. The new solution is to be adopted in Nigeria through NIPOST partnership. Sheldrick, in a telephone interview with ADEYEMI ADEPETUN, spoke on how the new solution would aid Nigeria’s addressing system, eCommerce services, among others. Excerpts:

Can you shed more light on what what3words is all about in “lay man’s language” that the average Nigerian can understand?

Around the world, 75 per cent of the countries have insufficient, complicated or even no addressing systems at all. That means four billion people do not have an address. This hampers economic and social growth; businesses can’t be found, individuals don’t receive urgent medical attention in time, remote assets are difficult to manage, lands titles are sometimes hard to administer, among others. While there are other alternatives in place, they are not good enough for today’s needs; street addressing is very costly, landmark addressing is frustrating and not scalable, and GPS coordinates are nearly impossible to communicate without mistakes. So what3words is a global address system, describing any location in Nigeria, or the world using just three words. We have divided the whole world into 3m x 3m squares. There are 57 trillion 3m x 3m squares in the world, and we’ve named every square with three words. For example, if I say to you “table.chair.spoon”, that is the name of a 3m square. And you can use the free app to discover your three word address; you can give it to somebody else, they will type in the three word address, and they would find your house.

What benefit does it bring to the current addressing system in Nigeria?

The clearest benefit is this: absolutely everybody in Nigeria will have an address by using this system. This is because at the moment, many streets are not named in Nigeria. And even the streets that are named, the house numbers are inconsistent or perhaps don’t exist. When people type in a street address into a map app on their phone, it often doesn’t take them to the right place. So the big benefit is that from today, everybody in Nigeria can just use a three word address to describe where they live, which is enormously valuable. We currently have it in Djibouti, Cote D’Ivoire. Nigeria is the third.

Have you considered those in the very remote parts of Nigeria?

NIPOST will shortly start an education campaign around the whole country, by using their network of post offices, workers, communication channels through TV, radio, to encourage everybody to find their three word addresses. Now perhaps in the villages, it will take a little bit longer for the message to reach them, but with the assistance of NIPOST and family members, they too will be able to discover and use their three word address.

What triggered the partnership between your company and NIPOST in Nigeria?

Whilst many letters are now replaced by emails, there is still no other solution for parcels than to be physically delivered. And there as well, NIPOST is determined to improve its quality of service and the number of people it delivers to. Today, NIPOST only delivers to 20 per cent of households. In two years, through the Mail for Every House Initiative (MEHI), it hopes to reach 70 per cent, and even 90 per cent in 2020.

Implementing the what3words addressing system will help achieve these targets. They are looking for an address solution that works today, without having to wait for all of the street naming and numbering to be sorted out, which could take decades. We supply NIPOST with software so they will be able to use three word addresses at scale. The people of Nigeria can access the free app called what3words that is in the app store. And for anyone in Nigeria, it is free to use this app to find their own address and to use it.

Looking at the booming e-commerce sector in Nigeria, how will this add up for the players?

It will boost the sector because the e-commerce stores and the courier services become more efficient. That means they can lower the price of delivery for people, and that means people are going to be keener to have things delivered to their homes or offices, and they will trust the service. So, we will be reducing costs for the key businesses involved, improving the customer experience for the consumers themselves, and lowering the prices for the consumers so they can make more purchases. It is a whole ecosystem improvement.

The what3words ecosystem, is there any link between it and Google map system?

What3words works with any map on the what3words app, it works with Google maps, but we also display 3-word addresses on top of many other maps including “Esri” and OpenStreetMap. We can work with any Nigerian mapping providers too. Whilst we choose to use Google Maps for our apps, we can work with any mapping provider.

You say the app is free, what then is the bottom-line for your company?

We have a licence with National Post Services in countries, including NIPOST. It’s the businesses we charge and we will be charging any other courier providers in Nigeria, but for consumers, it is entirely free. All you have to do is to download the what3words app, and find your 3-word address, share it with people, and they can use it to find you.

Does the app work offline?

Yes it does. Once you have downloaded the app, you can use it offline as well. Also what3words is integrated in a number of offline map apps too, like Navmii, the world’s biggest offline mapping app. It’s a big benefit even for people in rural villages – what3words works offline, even if you have no data connection at all.

NDI Cautions Politicians Against Unwarranted Attacks on Judiciary

By Jeremiah Wakaya

Nairobi — The National Democratic Institute Election Observation Mission has appealed to politicians to respect the independence of the Judiciary and refrain from pressuring it.

In a statement to newsrooms Wednesday night, hours after the National Super Alliance (NASA) announced it will challenge presidential election results in court, the institute said all parties must respect judgments rendered by the courts.

“The Court has its constitutional duty to provide a full, fair and independent hearing and to render its judgment based on the rule of law for the benefit of the people of Kenya. Accordingly, the Court’s judgment should be respected by all parties,” the observer mission which issued its preliminary post-election report on August 10 stated.

In the statement, the institute’s Director of Government Relations and Communications, Jerry Hartz, underscored the importance of availing all results declaration forms for ease of analysis by members of the public and those who wish to use them in court.

Among other things, NDI had in its preliminary report urged the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to provide form 34As and 34Bs to facilitate those who seek to proceed to the court within timelines set in law.

“This is an even more urgent matter in light the seven-day time limit to file legal challenges concerning the announcement of the presidential election result. That deadline is Friday, August 18,” NDI asserted.

NDI’s statement came in the backdrop of a thinly veiled attack by NASA presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, who cautioned the Judiciary against “compounding problems facing the county” by issuing judgments he said favoured the government.

“Our decision to go to court constitutes a second chance for the Supreme Court. The Court can use this chance to redeem itself, or, like in 2013, it can compound the problems we face as a country,” Odinga said on Wednesday while announcing NASA’s decision to challenge presidential election results declared by IEBC at the Supreme Court.

The NDI also called upon security agencies to respect the right to life and desist from using excessive force to quell riots, even as reports by rights lobbies indicated that up to twenty people could have died in parts of Nairobi and Nyanza during protests following the Friday announcement of the General Election results.

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Mubende Gold Miners Given a Two Hours Ultimatum to Vacate the Mines

Over 50,000 artisanal miners operating in Mubende district were ordered to vacate the gold miners within a period of two hours on Friday 04/08/2017.

This operation to evict all the artisanal gold miners in Mubende district is was led by Col Balikuddembe Lutaaya commander 1st division in Uganda People’s Defence forces.

The miners were told to leave the mining sites in Kitumbi and Bukuya sub counties but were not given ample time to rescue their mining equipment.

A troop of Uganda peoples defence forces and Uganda police forces totaling 750 people, 4 tear gas vehicles and tanks were stationed in the gold mining sites in Kitumbi and Bukuya sub counties forcing the gold miners and other people operating business with this location to pack their belongings to leave the mines.

Mr Sempowo Robert the chairman Mubende artisanal miners explained that they has been woken up by the sound of lorries moving into the mines that were packed with Uganda peoples defence forces soldiers and Uganda police forces officers who ordered them to vacate the premises within two hours and by midday no single person was to be found in the mines.

Sempowo added, “Currently most of the miners in this area are packing up their belonging to leave the premises ,others have abandoned their property for lack of money especially the heavy machinery while other are selling the property at a giveaway price so that they can live this place before it’s too late.”

“Government is not fair, because there was no official communication to neither the leaders or to the gold miner to vacte the gold mines , we have been relying on rumours and hear say, its a shock to us all our efforts have been shattered one investor. “Sempowo expressed.

Ivan Male Kawuma, the Project Coordinator Singo Artisanal Small Scale Miners Association said that “we are being treated like non Ugandans, how can we become like refugees in our own country. There is no communication, no compensation for the money invested in our business running in the gold mines. This has been our main source of livelihood and we don’t know what we are going to do next.”

His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni the president of Uganda in his letter addressed to the hon. members of parliament Mubende district dated 28/June/2017 made it clear that;” those artisanal miners who invaded where the investor had excavations must straight away get out.

The evictions folowed the presidential directive to evict all the artisanal miners in Mubende district on grounds that the people in the mines are not registered, government doesn’t know the amount of gold they are getting out from this area, the people operating in this area are not Ugandans and increased environmental degradation which is a threat to the nearby communities.

However the permanent secretary under ministry of energy and mineral development Dr.Stephen. R. Sabalija in the letter dated 02/08/2017 entitled Statement on illegal mining activities in Uganda explains that government is putting in place intervention measures whereby all the local artisans will be registered in all mining areas of Kitumbi and Bukuya sub counties so that they can be organized into groups that shall ultimately be regulated.

This intervention is anticipated to take 3 months and will subsequently help the ministry of Energy and Mineral development to re-organise mining activities supported by Uganda police force, Uganda people’s defence forces, Directorate of citizenship and immigration control under the Ministry of Internal Affairs and will be led by Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.

Josephine Nabaale

Oil.Uganda@actionaid.org

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Queries Raised After Roselyne Akombe is Detained at Airport

By Walter Menya, Fred Mukinda

Questions are being raised as to why top electoral agency commissioner Roselyne Akombe was temporarily detained at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Dr Akombe was reportedly prevented from boarding a KLM flight to New York on Tuesday night. The plane was to leave at 10pm, according to JKIA contacts.

It took the intervention of the US embassy in Nairobi to have Dr Akombe released from custody. She was then transferred to the government pavilion at the airport.

By 8am Wednesday, reports indicated that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission official was still being held at the airport, though IEBC communications manager Andrew Limo told the Nation that Dr Akombe later travelled on a Kenya Airways flight.

IEBC confirmed the detention of Dr Akombe but appeared to downplay the incident, terming it “a delay”.

“Dr Akombe who was travelling to the US for an official meeting was delayed at JKIA by officials who have since apologised. She returns on Sunday,” the commission said on its Twitter handle.

The same message was shared with IEBC staff on the internal communication forum.

FLIGHT DELAYED

“Flights get delayed almost daily. If it is just a delay, why is it necessary to inform workers? So many other commissioners have had their flights delayed for one reason or another and we have never been informed. There is something more to this delay,” an IEBC insider told the Nation.

The government, however, said the standoff was because Dr Akombe had not been cleared to travel outside the country by Head of Civil Service Joseph Kinyua.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said it was a requirement for a public officer to get clearance from Mr Kinyua before travelling out of Kenya.

“The IEBC commissioner has proceeded on her travel after being cleared. There is a code of regulation for public servants and officers. It affects even those in independent commissions because they are not private companies,” Mr Njoka said.

MEDIA INTERVIEWS

However, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights chairperson Kagwiria Mbogori disputed the explanation given for Dr Akombe’s flight hitch.

“Independent offices and constitutional commissions are autonomous. A commissioner or a worker in a commission does not need clearance from the head of public service,” Ms Mbogiri said.

“We are not privy to what happened in that particular case. Our comment for now is just that.”

The Nation established that Dr Akombe had presented a clearance letter but officials at the Immigration desk noticed it authorised her to travel to the United Arab Emirates between July 27 and July 30.

She was part of the delegation that visited Al Ghurair Printing & Publishing company Dubai, which had been awarded the contract to print the General Election ballot papers and results declaration forms.

When the news of Dr Akombe’s ordeal at JKIA surfaced, the social media was awash with rumours, with many questioning why she was leaving just after the General Election.

POLITICS

“Due to the prevailing political situation, Kenyans rushed to connect the incident to politics,” Mr Njoka said.

Some independent sources said the commissioner may have been fearing for her life after being on some powerful people’s radar regarding the August 8 elections.

Apart IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati and CEO Ezra Chiloba, Dr Akombe has been the most visible commissioner, taking part in media interviews and engaging with political and civil society stakeholders.

She was also the master of ceremonies on August 11 as the commission declared the presidential results at the Bomas of Kenya.

FLEEING

Later, Dr Akombe issued a statement denying she was fleeing the country.

“I’m deeply concerned by the statements attributed to me on my departure from Nairobi. They are false and unwarranted. While it is unfortunate that my departure was delayed, I at no time indicated that I was fleeing my beloved country due to questions raised on the credibility of our elections,” she said.

She said she was on official duty in the US and would be back soon.

“I will return to continue working with my colleagues on the next stages of our electoral process,” she said.

Tanzania: GGM Invests 12bn/ – to Solve Geita Water Woes

GEITA Gold Mine (GGM) has invested over 12bn/- in water project and managed to reach 36 per cent of the Geita township population in four years.

The water reach out percentage expected to increase as a 24kilometer-pipeline from Lake Victoria at a cost of 8.0bn/- was envisaged to be commissioned at end of this month.

However, before the potable water project started in 2012, water supply in the township was reaching 3.0 per cent of the population, then 80,000 people.

Today, according to a release issue yesterday, after four years water distribution reached 36 per cent of population, which also ballooned to 192,000.

“Now, after the limited distribution network was completed and the project launched in last January, the access percentage as per design is 36 per cent,” the release showed.

The GGM’s Potable Water Project was focused on distributing water to Geita Town residents by way of domestic connections and public access kiosks.

GGM Public Relations and Communications Manager Mr Tenga Tenga said the mining firm believed in finding sustainable solutions which would turn the sur rounding neighbors into a better community.

“The water project continues to improve the quality of life to the families and especially to mothers and girls who are always the most affected group,” Mr Tenga said. The project idea was born out of Community Relations Committee (CRC) discussions.

The CRC comprises government technocrats working in Geita and members of the GGM’s sustainability team and co-chaired by DC and Managing Director of GGM.

Due to drought hit almost the entire last year, the township main reservoir, Nyankanga Dam, was seriously affected. The effect forced authorities to introduce water rationing this June.

To reverse the situation GGM decided to install a second pipeline covering 24 kilometers from Lake Victoria to the water treatment plant in Geita at a cost of 8.0bn/-.

Mr Tenga said the work was in good progress and commissioning is expected at the end of this month. The pipeline has a capacity of pumping 250 cubic meters per hour.

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