Posts tagged as: eastern

Ethiopia: Tapping Hydro-Power Potential for Green Development

By Homa Mulisa

The human being has been taking advantage of hydro-power as a source of energy for centuries. However, in the late 19th century, hydro-power became a source for generating electricity. The first hydroelectric power plant was built at Niagara Falls in 1879 designed by the inventor Nicola Tesla.

The 6th World Hydro-power Congress, a landmark event that came to Africa for the first time, was held in Addis Ababa last week. Dealing with issues related to clean and sustainable energy development, the Congress primarily stressed out the fact that poverty reduction and prosperity are unthinkable without universal access to electricity.

Hydro-power, nowadays, is an advanced and cost competitive renewable energy source. It plays an important role in today’s electricity mix, contributing to more than 16 percent of electricity generation worldwide and about 85 percent of global renewable electricity.

The contribution of hydro-power in the energy mix is thus twofold: the primary benefit is its provision of clean, renewable electricity, while it simultaneously enables other renewable efforts as it serves for the reduction of carbon from the environment. Besides, it is affirmed that hydro-power is the only renewable energy source that has the potential to expand access to electricity to large populations.

From an estimated 1.2 billion global population without access to electricity, a virtually 95 percent of them reside in Sub-saharan Africa and developing Asia. In Africa, only 31 percent of the population currently could have access to electricity, and this energy deficit is impeding its development.

However, the availability of the largest reserve in the continent with regard to both renewable and non-renewable energy sources encourage the continent to exploit them for the expansion of industrialization and sustain the impressive economic development witnessed in the last few years. Thus, given its great potential, hydro-power is expected to play a significant role in developing the future energy sector in Africa in both urban and rural areas.

Ethiopia is leading in the continent in terms of installed hydro-power capacity, exceeding 4,000 MW. Moreover, the nation has some of Africa’s richest water resources, with a hydro-power potential of 45,000 MW. In December 2016, the nation inaugurated Gilgel Gibe III, Ethiopia’s largest hydro-power plant in operation and it is also currently constructing Africa’s largest hydro-power dam whose installed capacity is 6,540 MW on the Blue Nile with a 4.8 billion USD investment.

Speakers at the Congress pointed out the need for tapping into Africa’s immense potential to fuel the industrialization process thereby ensuring sustainable development. They unanimously stressed on the need for the continent to do more to exploit its untapped hydro-power resources since development is impossible without adequate and affordable energy.

Opening the Congress, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said, “Development is unthinkable in the absence of adequate and affordable energy.” Emphasizing the need to pull together, he said, “I would like to reiterate the need for collective efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change and hydro-power is crucial to provide reliable and sustainable energy development for African economies.”

African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson Quartey Thomas Kwesi discussed hydro-power’s role in addressing Africa’s energy challenges. He said, “Access to modern and sustainable energy services is crucial to achieve sustainable and inclusive development.

“The development and expansion of renewable energy provides one of the most effective strategies to simultaneously promote development, sustainable energy access and energy security as well as climate change mitigation at the global, continental and regional levels.” Calling for increased collaboration, he added, “For Africa, there is a need to engage with specialized institutions such as the International Hydro-power Association in order to benefit from their networks of experts.”

International Hydro-power Association President Ken Adams said, “Hydro-power cannot be done in isolation.” He insisted that achieving Sustainable Development Goals will not be possible without breaking barriers and widening the scope of collaboration between all institutions. He further said, “We must embrace the fact that one single technology will not resolve the challenges of our generation. We need more hydro-power on the grid, as it plays a role as a flexible, sustainable generation source. We also need it to play the often unrecognized role of energy storage.”

Rachel Kyte, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All and special representative of the UN Secretary General for Sustainable Energy for all addressed the urgency of the current energy challenge. She said, “Better hydro-power is an important way to meet the goal of sustainable energy agreed by all countries and the ambition of the Paris climate agreement. It offers affordable, cleaner, reliable energy as well as storage which can crowd in more solar and wind development.

“The challenge of securing sustainable energy for all by 2030 means we have to move forward with speed and scale. We hope that the World Hydro-power Congress will spur rapid progress.”

Further, Abdalla Hamdok said, “Hydro-power is well known to be one of the most important power sources in the world, producing more than three quarters of the world’s renewable energy output each year. A number of countries are almost exclusively using hydro as their base load electricity. At the same time, hydro-power has become the renewable energy of choice.”

Reflecting on global concerns around hydro-power’s sustainability, Abdalla said, “I am glad to note that the agenda of this congress includes items of environmental and social impact in the context of hydro-power development.”

Moreover, the remarkable deeds of Ethiopia, China, Brazil and Ecuador in regard to hydro-power development have been commended at the Congress. It was reported that Ethiopia’s dams will provide regional electricity through several electricity inter-connectors, including a 2,000 MW Ethiopia-Kenya linkage and a 1,600 MW Ethiopia-South Sudan inter-connector, while all 10 members of the Eastern African Power Pool are due to begin electricity trading in 2017 upon completion of six cross-border transmission lines.

Considering its potential, Africa can soon integrate through hydro-power; with 90 percent of its hydro-power potential untapped so far, the content could become a net hydro-power exporter to Europe and West Asia.

Health Ministry Assures of Measures to Keep Ebola Away

By Verah Okeyo And Elizabeth Merab

The government has stepped up surveillance at entry points into the country following the outbreak of lethal Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu said that all surveillance teams have been activated.

“We sent an alert to all counties, especially those at the borders, to look out for signs like fever and any other suspicious signs pointing to Ebola”, he told the Nation on phone on Tuesday.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed cases of Ebola in DRC early this week, where three people have died so far in 19 suspected cases.

This outbreak comes just a year after the end of an epidemic in West Africa that killed more than 11,300 people, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. It was termed the world’s worst Ebola outbreak which affected more than 28,600.

LETHARGIC RESPONSE

The WHO was criticised for a lethargic response to the disease, an omission that may have been a blessing in disguise as African nations such as Kenya strengthened their response to such attacks.

Also, the global vaccine alliance, GAVI, and pharmaceutical company Merck hinted at using the “opportunity” to launch the Ebola vaccine.

Kenya had sent a team of about 160 health workers to the affected countries to boost response efforts.

A statement sent to newsrooms by the Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko also provides two numbers – 0732353535 and 0729471414 – for the public to inquire or report any suspected case of Ebola.

RISK OF IMPORTATION

“While the Ministry is fully aware of the seriousness of Ebola and the risk of importation of the virus to Kenya, we wish to assure the public that the outbreak has occurred in a remote zone in DRC and, with timely effective responses having been mounted, the disease is unlikely to spread widely in the region”, Dr Kioko wrote in his statement.

Dr Mailu said that there are forms that will be filled in at the airport, and should there be any suspect case, they will be traced and monitored in their homes.

“This is not just for people whose final destination is Kenya, but also for people who are in transit,” he said.

Hosting an international airport that acts as a stopover for most travellers in Africa, Kenya suspended some of its flights in the last bout of Ebola attacks in West Africa.

Dr Mailu said that there are also leaflets at the airport that the Ministry has issued to be given to travellers and workers to remind them of the need to be alert.

SCREENING EQUIPMENT

Dr Maurice Simiyu, Busia’s health executive, said that the national government gave the county special screening equipment.

“It is much quicker to screen people as they come through here, and that puts our minds at ease,” Dr Simiyu said.

Busia has two borders – Busia and Malaba – with heavy traffic from Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and DRC.

Congo, whose dense forests contain the River Ebola near where the disease was first detected in 1976, has experienced many outbreaks and has mostly succeeded in containing the attacks without large-scale loss of life.

The East African Community may have opened the borders for trade as well as the ease at which infectious diseases can move from one country to another.

STRENGTHEN PARTNERSHIP

Dr Mailu added that this latest attack has prompted the government to strengthen the partnership between the human and veterinary departments in the country as the threat of Zoonoses increase.

Zoonoses are diseases that move from animals to man, making veterinarians a key component in responding to them.

Nevertheless, Kenya was the first country in the Eastern African region to have a Zoonotic Disease Unit (ZDU) in 2006 to tackle these kinds of outbreaks.

Kenya was also the first country in Africa to train elite squad of epidemiologists -those people who track how diseases break, spread and then they contain it– in a programme called Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (Feltp)

LATER DIED

The first case, which came April 22, involved a 45-year-old man. The taxi driver who took the man to the hospital and a person who cared for the man both became sick and later died, WHO said.

Ebola is a highly infectious virus spread through contact with bodily fluids, and testing shows the latest outbreak involves the Zaire strain, the most dangerous of the viruses known to cause the disease.

A 2007 outbreak of this strain in Congo had a fatality rate of 74 per cent, claiming 200 lives.

On Saturday, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa, met with national authorities in Kinshasa to discuss ways to mount a response to the outbreak.

“WHO has already mobilized technical experts to be deployed on the ground and is ready to provide the leadership and technical expertise required to mount a coordinated and effective response,” Moeti said.

Kenya: Health Ministry Assures of Measures to Keep Ebola Away

By Verah Okeyo And Elizabeth Merab

The government has stepped up surveillance at entry points into the country following the outbreak of lethal Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu said that all surveillance teams have been activated.

“We sent an alert to all counties, especially those at the borders, to look out for signs like fever and any other suspicious signs pointing to Ebola”, he told the Nation on phone on Tuesday.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed cases of Ebola in DRC early this week, where three people have died so far in 19 suspected cases.

This outbreak comes just a year after the end of an epidemic in West Africa that killed more than 11,300 people, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. It was termed the world’s worst Ebola outbreak which affected more than 28,600.

LETHARGIC RESPONSE

The WHO was criticised for a lethargic response to the disease, an omission that may have been a blessing in disguise as African nations such as Kenya strengthened their response to such attacks.

Also, the global vaccine alliance, GAVI, and pharmaceutical company Merck hinted at using the “opportunity” to launch the Ebola vaccine.

Kenya had sent a team of about 160 health workers to the affected countries to boost response efforts.

A statement sent to newsrooms by the Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko also provides two numbers – 0732353535 and 0729471414 – for the public to inquire or report any suspected case of Ebola.

RISK OF IMPORTATION

“While the Ministry is fully aware of the seriousness of Ebola and the risk of importation of the virus to Kenya, we wish to assure the public that the outbreak has occurred in a remote zone in DRC and, with timely effective responses having been mounted, the disease is unlikely to spread widely in the region”, Dr Kioko wrote in his statement.

Dr Mailu said that there are forms that will be filled in at the airport, and should there be any suspect case, they will be traced and monitored in their homes.

“This is not just for people whose final destination is Kenya, but also for people who are in transit,” he said.

Hosting an international airport that acts as a stopover for most travellers in Africa, Kenya suspended some of its flights in the last bout of Ebola attacks in West Africa.

Dr Mailu said that there are also leaflets at the airport that the Ministry has issued to be given to travellers and workers to remind them of the need to be alert.

SCREENING EQUIPMENT

Dr Maurice Simiyu, Busia’s health executive, said that the national government gave the county special screening equipment.

“It is much quicker to screen people as they come through here, and that puts our minds at ease,” Dr Simiyu said.

Busia has two borders – Busia and Malaba – with heavy traffic from Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and DRC.

Congo, whose dense forests contain the River Ebola near where the disease was first detected in 1976, has experienced many outbreaks and has mostly succeeded in containing the attacks without large-scale loss of life.

The East African Community may have opened the borders for trade as well as the ease at which infectious diseases can move from one country to another.

STRENGTHEN PARTNERSHIP

Dr Mailu added that this latest attack has prompted the government to strengthen the partnership between the human and veterinary departments in the country as the threat of Zoonoses increase.

Zoonoses are diseases that move from animals to man, making veterinarians a key component in responding to them.

Nevertheless, Kenya was the first country in the Eastern African region to have a Zoonotic Disease Unit (ZDU) in 2006 to tackle these kinds of outbreaks.

Kenya was also the first country in Africa to train elite squad of epidemiologists -those people who track how diseases break, spread and then they contain it– in a programme called Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (Feltp)

LATER DIED

The first case, which came April 22, involved a 45-year-old man. The taxi driver who took the man to the hospital and a person who cared for the man both became sick and later died, WHO said.

Ebola is a highly infectious virus spread through contact with bodily fluids, and testing shows the latest outbreak involves the Zaire strain, the most dangerous of the viruses known to cause the disease.

A 2007 outbreak of this strain in Congo had a fatality rate of 74 per cent, claiming 200 lives.

On Saturday, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa, met with national authorities in Kinshasa to discuss ways to mount a response to the outbreak.

“WHO has already mobilized technical experts to be deployed on the ground and is ready to provide the leadership and technical expertise required to mount a coordinated and effective response,” Moeti said.

Nigeria: Senate Summons Amaechi Over ‘Exclusion’ of Eastern Corridor From Rail Project

By Hassan Adebayo

The Senate has resolved to invite the Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, for briefing, after a Senator said the eastern corridor rail line had been excluded from the federal government’s proposal for loan to finance railway projects across the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in April sought the approval of the National Assembly for the federal government to secure loan from the China EXIM Bank for modernization of Lagos-Kano modernisation projects, Lagos-Ibadan segment $1.231 billion; Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, Kano-Kaduna segment $1.146 billion; and coastal railway project, the Lagos-Calabar segment, N3.474 billion.

But while the request is still pending legislative approval, a senator of the Peoples Democratic Party Senator from Abia State, Eyinnaya Abaribe, raised the matter on Tuesday, praying the Senate to suspend the consideration of the loan bid in view of the exclusion of Eastern corridor line.

“The Eastern section of the rail segment which has link between South-Eastern and North-Eastern segment if the rail line is completely left out,” Mr. Abaribe said.

“The loan being a federal government would be paid by all sections of the country; therefore, every section of the country should be taken into consideration.

“For the railway project to have meaningful impact on the development of the country it should cover all parts of the country.

“Exclusion of the Eastern section which links four zones of South-South, South-East, and North -Central and the North-East, and the key cities such as Port Harcourt, Enugu, Aba, Markurdi, Lafia, Gudi, Bauchi and Maiduguri is inexplicable,” submitted Mr. Abaribe.

Although he included in his prayers that the consideration of the loan request be suspended pending “correction”, the Senate decided to delete that prayer.

It however uphold the prayer that Mr. Amaechi “appear and explain” reason for the exclusion of the Eastern rail corridor.

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said already the leadership of the Senate had been making efforts to address the concern.

When Mr. Buhari sought the approval on April 26, he asked quick approval to enable Nigeria access the China-Africa fund package already included in 2016-2018 external borrowing plan which was forwarded to the National Assembly last August.

The Senate had rejected the borrowing plan entirely in November last year.

Mr. Buhari explained that the funds accessible under the package were limited and that applications from other African countries were treated on first-come first-serve basis.

Why All the Effort to Sanitize Genocide Ideologue and Convicted Criminal Victoire Ingabire?

opinionBy Peter Mugabo

Victoire Ingabire was tried and convicted of complicity in acts of terrorism, conspiracy against the government by use of war and terrorism, and genocide ideology, and in October 2012 sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment. Fifteen months later, an appeal to the Supreme Court led to her sentence being increased to 15 years.

Since then some media, NGOs and intergovernmental organisations have struggled to sanitize her genocidaire background, and portray her as woman who is no more than a political opponent and head of a coalition of Rwandan opposition parties calling itself Unified Democratic Forces (UDF).

Three years ago an appeal case was filed by Ingabire against the Government Rwanda at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), marking yet another campaign to rebrand someone who is by all known definitions, a leading genocide ideologue and convicted terrorist planner.

Victoire Ingabire happened to be in the Netherlands before the Genocide against the Tutsi and remained there before she returned to Rwanda in January 2010. But her real story does not begin when she landed in Kigali, accompanied by her deputy who later confessed to genocide and is serving a prison sentence. It begins in the refugee camps of Zaire, now Eastern DRC, in which the remnants of Rwanda’s genocidal government settled after fleeing Rwanda. .

Her official narrative says that in August 2000 she was elected president of the Rally for the Return of Refugees and Democracy in Rwanda (RDR) – now known as the Republican Rally for Democracy in Rwanda – with its headquarters in The Hague. What her resume doesn’t say is that RDR was actually born in April 1995 in Mugunga Camp in Eastern DRC.

The original RDR that Ingabire prefers to shun, merged with other Hutu extremist ideologues to form her current party, United Democratic Forces (FDU-Inkingi). Although Ingabire masquerades as an opposition politician, the party she heads has genocide denial and genocide ideology as its founding doctrine.

In January 2010 Ingabire was reminded by the interviewer on a BBC Kinyarwanda language show “Imvo n’Imvano” that she was a member of an organization called the RDR created by “extremist Hutu” in the former Zaire. She denied it and instead said she was from a non-existent “Rally for Democracy in Rwanda.”

On 16 June 2006, the ICTR Appeals Chamber Judicial Notice stated that it was a “fact of common knowledge that between 6 April and 17 July 1994 there was a genocide in Rwanda against the Tutsi ethnic group” in which “more than a million people were killed during the genocide.”

But this and many more court rulings, have not stopped Ingabire and her colleagues from denying the obvious. A similar Judicial Notice of the Holocaust was made by Judge Johnson of the California Superior Court on 9th October 1981 ruling “The Holocaust is not reasonably subject to dispute… it is simply a fact.”

But the RDR to which Ingabire belongs and has led for over a decade, has maintained that “there is no evidence of the preparation of the genocide on the part of the Rwandan people and their leaders.” Rather, their position is: “it is true that massacres occurred and that the RPF must mainly be held responsible for the tragedy that befell Rwanda.”

The ICTR has ample evidence which shows who, when and how genocidaires were the real founders of the RDR. After all, many among them were eventually tried and convicted by the Court, including General Augustin Bizimungu, Colonels Theoneste Bagosora and Tharcisse Renzaho, Major Aloys Ntabakuze, Dr. Ferdinad Nahimana, Jean Bosco Barayagwiza and Laurent Semanza.

It is this very group that herded millions of ordinary Hutu citizens to refugee camps across the border to the DRC, and kept them as hostages for over two years and where the RDR provided political guidance to invigorate Hutu Power extremism.

Ingabire was schooled by these brains behind the genocide, the masterminds who fine-tuned the propaganda which justified and rationalized the slaughter, and provided training and logistics to the Tutsi extermination enterprise.

In May 1995, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report which described that part of the DRC was as a bastion of “the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide” who had “openly declared their intent to return to Rwanda and … “kill all Tutsi… “. But the very same HRW condemned her trial which they said was “unfair” and used “unreliable” evidence. HRW conveniently failed to mention that some of the most damning evidence used by the prosecution was provided by the Netherlands.

Last year, the EU parliament arbitrarily raised her status to “political opponent”, and condemned her trial as “politically motivated… based on vague and imprecise laws”.

But if Victoire Ingabire had been in Europe as a “politician” and speaking of the Holocaust, the authorities of Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, all countries with laws against denial would arrest and charge her. If there was evidence linking her to terrorist activity, she would be paraded on our TV screens as a threat to world peace. So, why Rwanda should be expected to hold itself to lower standards of memory and security?

Grain Sector Players Move to Ease Maize Shortages As Demand Shoots Up

Photo: Kelly Rwamapera/The New Times

Farmers under KOREMU Cooperative in Ngoma District thresh maize.

By Remy Niyingize, Kelly Rwamapera & Stephen Nuwagira

Rwanda had a good harvest for both grains and cereals last season, which attracted huge demand from regional buyers. This has benefitted farmers in terms of better revenues earned, but has also created big grain shortages on the local market and pushed up prices of beans and maize, according to the Rwanda Grains and Cereals Corporation.

Wenslars Bahati, the Rwanda Grains and Cereals Corporation (RGCC) operations manager, told Business Times that traders from the region were even buying grain with high moisture content to dry and clean it themselves, while local buyers waited until the produce was fully dry.

“Traders from Uganda and Tanzania were buying grain that had 21-25 per cent moisture content because they have good post-harvest handling facilities and skills, but for us we had to wait until the moisture content was 16 per cent. This put us at a disadvantage leaving us to fight for the little produce left on the market,” he said in an interview.

RGCC is currently buying first grade maize at Rwf380 a kilo, up from Rwf280 previously; Rwf370 for second grade and third grade is at Rwf360, with the ‘undergrade’ going for Rwf350 per kilogramme.

Traders and millers in Huye District, Southern Province, quoted a kilogramme of maize also at Rwf380, an increase from Rwf200 over the past two months, but said the prices were still rising. Beans are at Rwf320, down from Rwf500, thanks to the onset of the harvest season.

In Eastern Province, the main maize producing areas, maize goes for Rwf330 per kilogramme when buying from farmers, and traders sell the grain at Rwf350 in Nyagatare and Gatsibo districts, while beans have shot up to Rwf450 per kilogramme from farmers, and Rwf500 from produce dealers. Cassava flour is at Rwf600 a kilo in Huye, up from Rwf450, while that of sorghum costs Rwf450 from Rwf400 previously.

Maize is one of the main foods consumed in Rwandan homes, with the country’s total maize demand estimated at 900,000 tonnes per annum, according RGCC.

“This is the first time in the history of the grain sector that prices have skyrocketed to this level immediately after the harvest season. What will happen in coming months with the fall armyworm attack?” Rwanda Grains and Cereals Corporation’s Bahati wondered.

RGCC projected the shortages to widen both locally and in the region as neighbours Tanzania, the DR Congo, Uganda, and even Kenya are also experiencing grain shortages.

New factories that have opened shop in Kigali and use grains and cereals as raw materials, like Africa Improved Foods, have also added pressure on the stock sending prices up, according to Bahati and Olivier Ngoga, the East Africa Exchange (EAX) operations manager.

Kigali-based EAX is a regional commodities exchange for grains and cereals. Bahati predicted the maize prices to settle at Rwf400 by August (with additional supply from the region) before coming down to about Rwf300 a kilo.

Farmers, millers speak out

Produce traders and millers in the Southern and Eastern provinces attributed the increase to various reasons, including disease and drought that led to poor maize harvest and eventual shortages.

Jacques Nkurunziza, a maize miller in Mukoni village, Cyarwa cell in Tumba sector, Huye District, said millers are counting losses, adding that the 2017 season, which started from September 2016 to February 2017, was a big challenge for maize millers and farmers because of the maize mosaic disease and drought that affected the crop.

He told Business Times that a kilogramme of the grain was at Rwf380 in Huye from between Rwf200 and Rwf250 two months back.

Nkurunziza said he used to harvest over one tonne of maize previously, but his yield was just 200 kilogrammes last season due to maize mosaic and drought.

Aloyz Sibomana, a member of KOASIMU, a maize millers’ cooperative in Huye, said the cooperative managed to buy only 10 tonnes of maize last season compared to 40 tonnes procured during a similar season in 2016. For the ordinary man, the situation has been made worse because Huye has many institutions that compete for the grain with residents and buyers from neighbouring countries, including Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda, he added.

Pierre Celestin Gatsinzi, a maize trader in Huye town, said shortage of sorghum in the district has also compounded the problem.

Meanwhile, Grace Uwimana, the president of KABOKU, a cooperative of maize and beans growers in Kagitumba, Matimba Sector in Nyagatare District, Eastern Province, said the prices were expected to continue the upward trend.

“We didn’t have enough rains in Nyagatare, especially for maize because the crop needs more rains compared to beans. So, we expect the prices to increase further in the coming months,” he told Business Times.

But Viateur Hakizimana, a model farmer in Rwimbogo, Gatsibo District, said most of last season’s harvest “went out of the country”.

Hakizimana, who is also a beans and maize trader, however, was positive the prices of beans could drop soon because the crop is about to mature in Gatsibo.

“Though this season is normally not for growing maize, the problem has been aggravated by the fall armyworm that has damaged crops,” he said. Hakizimana said the maize scarcity would lead to further price increases.

Authorities speak out

Aimable Nsengiyumva, the Huye District agriculture officer, said the scarcity of maize grain is not only in the district, but the whole province.

“The maize harvest was insufficient but it is being competed for by too many buyers,” Nsengiyumva said.

“The shortage of grains across the countrywide was caused by the long dry spell the country experience last year and maize mosaic that destroyed plantations. This greatly affected the harvest of last season and has resulted in price increases because demand has outweighed current grain supply,” Nsengiyumva explained.

Consumers react

Baptiste Muneza, a resident of Huye town, said the increase in both grain and maize flour prices has affected the life of many people. He said maize meal is a staple of many households in Huye and the country generally, adding that many are struggling to find what to eat. He was, however, optimistic the coming harvesting season in June could help ease the problem.

Mary Mukandanga, said maize meal, and steamed maize grains mixed with beans are some of the cheapest foods used by poor households. “Other kinds of foods are expensive, meaning that poor households no longer eat three meals a day,” she said, adding that the increase in maize flour prices has hit hard university students living in Huye as most of them depend on posho.

Shortages affect RGCC, EAX commitments, targets

He said RGCC has orders of up to 10,000 tonnes of grain and cereals from different clients, but has so far managed to supply only 20 per cent of this and does expect to meet 50 per cent of the total commitments. The grain corporation supplies the national strategic reserves and Rwanda Correctional services, Africa Improved Foods, World Food Programme, Minimex and EAX, among others.

“We have now resorted to buying from small produce traders, but at a higher price to be able to supply these orders,” he said.

He said the Eastern Province which is the main producer of grain and cereals all had a poor crop, except Nyagatare and Gatsibo districts. The harvest in Kirehe, Ngoma and Kayonza districts was below target, he added.

Ngoga said EAX bought over 6,000 tonnes of produce through the whole of last year, but this was sold off in the first three months of 2017. Previously, EAX would store the grains for up to four months before selling off the produce, but rising demand has changed all this, he noted. This has left the commodity exchange in a hard situation as it tries to meet its commitments with contract customers.

Interventions

Bahati said RGCC will import grain from the region as the immediate intervention to stabilise the market and ensure prices “don’t go extremely high”.

He said RGCC was also watching the local and regional markets closely.

He added: “In the event the expected supplies from the region doesn’t come through, we will go south to Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia,” he said.

EAX targeted to trade about 35,000 tonnes of grain this year, but this looks unlikely to happen with the current grain shortages in the country, he added.

“So we are now going to source from the region to get as much grain as possible to meet commitments,” he said.

More interventions

Bahati also called for increased access to improved seed and other inputs like fertilisers. He added that farmers should also embrace modern methods like crop irrigation, arguing that this will enable them to produce throughout the year without depending on seasonal rains.

Bahati said the challenge of lack of warehouses and facilities like driers and cleaners is hurting the sector and needs to be addressed immediately so that farmers do not sell off the produce immediately it’s harvested. The official said farmer cooperatives lack the capacity to build warehouses or ensure proper handling because of the high cost involved.

Country food secure

Dr Gerardine Mukeshimana, the minister for agriculture and animal resources, assured Rwandans at the end of last month, saying the country is food secure despite fall armyworms ravaging maize plantations in parts of the country. The pest has so far ravaged an estimated 15,699 hectares of farmland or a quarter of the country’s total area of 63,499 hectares planted with maize. This represents about 5 per cent of the total cultivated land countrywide this season.

“The armyworms will not seriously impact food security because maize was not cultivated in large areas during season 2017B,” Mukeshimana is quoted as saying.

“Up to 95 per cent of the total cultivated land this season (1,300,000 hectares) is covered by other crops, which will sustain food security.”

Eight More Rhinos and Two Lions Relocated to Akagera Park

By Collins Mwai

The second batch of rhinos arrived into the country yesterday morning at 3:30 am aboard Etihad Airways Cargo plane alongside two male lions.

This batch follows the first batch of 10 rhinos which arrived in the country a week ago.

This brings the total number of lions in Rwanda to 19 and 18 rhinos.

The latest arrivals were also taken to Akagera Park where they will spend a day in a shed for observation before being released into the wild.

The relocation process is through a partnership between African Parks, a non-profit that manages national parks on behalf of governments, the Rwanda Development Board and funding from Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

Prior to the relocation last week, the last rhino was spotted in the country about 10 years ago.

In the 1970s estimates put the number of black rhinos in Akagera National Park at about 50 but their numbers declined largely due to poaching. The last sighting of the species was in 2007.

In readiness for the rhinos, the park which is a protected savannah habitat has since undergone transformation since African Parks assumed management in 2010.

Among the upgrades in readiness for the rhinos included establishment of an expertly-trained rhino tracking and protection team, a canine anti-poaching unit and the deployment of a helicopter for air surveillance.

With fewer than 5,000 black rhino remaining experts estimate that there are only about 1,000 Eastern black rhino remaining.

Rwanda

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Rwanda: Eight More Rhinos and Two Lions Relocated to Akagera Park

By Collins Mwai

The second batch of rhinos arrived into the country yesterday morning at 3:30 am aboard Etihad Airways Cargo plane alongside two male lions.

This batch follows the first batch of 10 rhinos which arrived in the country a week ago.

This brings the total number of lions in Rwanda to 19 and 18 rhinos.

The latest arrivals were also taken to Akagera Park where they will spend a day in a shed for observation before being released into the wild.

The relocation process is through a partnership between African Parks, a non-profit that manages national parks on behalf of governments, the Rwanda Development Board and funding from Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

Prior to the relocation last week, the last rhino was spotted in the country about 10 years ago.

In the 1970s estimates put the number of black rhinos in Akagera National Park at about 50 but their numbers declined largely due to poaching. The last sighting of the species was in 2007.

In readiness for the rhinos, the park which is a protected savannah habitat has since undergone transformation since African Parks assumed management in 2010.

Among the upgrades in readiness for the rhinos included establishment of an expertly-trained rhino tracking and protection team, a canine anti-poaching unit and the deployment of a helicopter for air surveillance.

With fewer than 5,000 black rhino remaining experts estimate that there are only about 1,000 Eastern black rhino remaining.

Rwanda

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Ubumuntu Arts Festival Inspires Dialogue Through Global Exchange

By Moses Opobo

The collaboration between Mashirika and Bridge already promises to be one of the highlights of this year’s festival, running in its third edition now.

BRIDGE is an acronym for “Building Relationships and Inspiring Dialogue through Global Exchange”.

The project works to educate, inspire and connect young people around the globe through intensive theater education programs. It helps youth to share their stories from different cultural contexts with a view to conflict resolution and peace through shared theater experiences.

The collaboration will see plays written by students from Nepal, the US and Ecuador performed by Rwandan children at the festival. Artist educators from Mashirika and Bridge will further perform original works created by Rwandan students.

“They say every journey starts with one step. I remember Joe saying to me after the performance that he was moved by how the cast of Africa’s hope moved towards the audience, shook hands and hugged instead of going to their dressing rooms,” reminisces Hope Azeda, the founder of Mashirika and curator of the Ubumuntu Arts Festival on that 2012 performance in Los Angeles that was to open doors for the collaboration.

“I told him we constantly seek connection and we need to bring down the wall between the cast and the audience and become one. This goes well with the festival slogan; “We are human together”.

This year, performances will be grouped under four different clusters, as the festival grows from strength to strength, both in terms of the number of theater production companies on board, and the quality of the performances that will grace the Ubumuntu stage.

In the first cluster, called Ensemble, there will be a total of twelve professional performances that will run for duration of 30 minutes to one hour.

In the recreational cluster, upcoming young artistes drawn from school drama clubs from across the country will have a go at the big stage. Their performances will last between 10-20 minutes. A total of four school drama clubs will make up the recreational cluster of performances.

Another cluster, titled Works in Progress will have just one performance.

There will also be presentations that came about as a result of international collaborations and they will run from 10-15 minutes each.

Before the main stage performances, there will be pre-events that will take place on the 7th, 8th, and 9th of July, to be followed by an opening reception on the 13th of July.

The pre events will comprise of flash mobs that will take place at different strategic locations across the City of Kigali; Nyamirambo, Remera, and Nyabugogo.

A flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and seemingly random act for a brief time, then quickly disperse.

The pre-events will feature, among others, a dance showcase by the Krest Crew, a local Hip Hop dance group, and Inyamibwa. The Inyamibwa is a unique Rwandan cultural troupe whose sole aim is to preserve the unique dancing traditions of the country.

It was established in 1988 by the AERG Club (Association des Etudiants Et Elèves Rescapés Du Génocide), an association of students who survived the Genocide at the former National University of Rwanda (NUR), in Huye. At its inception, the aim of the troupe was to help youngsters stave off the depression that was brought on to them by the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

One of the performances, Recontre, is a collaboration between a Rwandan and US theater company, while there will further be a joint Yoga performance by Belgian and UK performers. It’s the first time in the festival’s three consecutive year run that a yoga ensemble will be gracing the stage.

Five performances have been lined up for day one, July 14: Romeo and Juliet (Rwanda); Humanity Rising (Rwanda/USA); Run of the Power (DRC-Dance); Who Are You? (UK/South Africa); and Pambazuka (Rwanda).

Romeo and Juliet will be performed by students from Kirehe district in the Eastern Province.

Speaking of Pambazuka, it is one of those Mashirika classics with which the troupe has toured extensively, especially at their community-based shows in the Rwandan countryside. Pambazuka tackles the societal menace of child abuse head-on, in a bid to demystify a practice that is generally treated as taboo subject in most African societies.

It’s lead character is a girl just into her teens, and who has to endure the humiliating ordeal of bearing her own father’s child. Does she kill the child and avert the shame, or should she brave the pregnancy and give birth to a child with who to share a father?

Another skit in Pambazuka portrays an innocent child whose innocence is gone with the wind, after it witnesses the mother murder the entire family. The play tries to resolve the question of what is the best societal response to such a tragedy which, incidentally, the Mashirika team picked up from the local media.

Day two will have a total of seven performances, with two from Rwanda: . Have Mercy, and Inshuti. There is Desolation in Chains (Uganda); One Gesture (Poland); 7/7/7 (India); Super Heroes of Cohesion, (Great Lakes Region); and We Won’t Forget, from Kenya.

On day three, the Rwandan production, Crazy Wonderful World will be the first to hit the stage, followed by Barzakh (Lebanon), and Bartolomeo from Sweden. Also on stage will be the Belgian/Iraqi collaboration, Waiting; and from neighboring Burundi, Le Zenith de la Folie. Day three will also have Beyond Mandela (South Africa), and The Chibok Girls: Our Story (Nigeria), which is one of the festival’s highlights.

The festival will be wrapped up by workshops and presentations, including; Man the Unfree, Kenya/UK/Rwanda, and Out of the Blue, Rwanda/Uganda/UK.

The Ubumuntu Arts Festival was created in 2015 by Hope Azeda, the founder and artistic director of the Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company, to act as a catalyst for national and international peace building processes. It is set at the end of the 100-day Genocide commemoration period in Rwanda and indeed was designed to be a part of the national and international genocide commemoration activities.

“Rwanda, with its unique history, is the perfect venue to gather people from all walks of life to reflect upon topics like conflict, peace, and humanity through the medium of art. Art has manifested itself the world over as an efficient form of communicating, expressing opinions, airing issues, and sharing values, about all aspects of life that affect humanity,” she said.

The Ubumuntu journey started when Azeda submitted the idea to the Africa Leadership Project (ALP) as her leadership project proposal in 2014. The overwhelming positive feedback the proposal received is what would later culminate into the festival.

Uwizeye Expects Tougher Rwanda Cycling Cup Season

By Geoffrey Asiimwe

Despite claiming the second race of this year’s Rwanda Cycling Cup on Saturday, Les Amis Sportifs rider Jean Claude Uwizeye remains cautious about his chances of winning the title.

The 23-year-old put on an eye-catching display to win the 152-kilomtre race that began from Kigali to Nyagatare in the Eastern Province, beating a strong field that included the 2015 Tour du Rwanda winners, Jean Bosco Nsengimana, who had won the first race in April.

Uwizeye believes the battle of supremacy has intensified and it is no-longer a two-team race, especially with Huye-based Cycling Club for All (CCA) making their presence felt this year.

Since 2015 when Rwanda Cycling Cup was established, it has been pre-dominantly a two-team battle between Rubavu-based Club Benediction and Les Amis Sportifs from Rwamagana’ with the former coming on top in the previous two editions.

Despite missing two out of the ten races last season, Uwizeye still managed to finish in the second place overall in the Elite Men category with 138 points, just 14 behind the eventual winner Gasore Hategeka of Club Benediction, however; the points were enough to give Uwizeye the U23 title.

Last season’s achievement makes Uwizeye one of the favourites to win this year’s title, but the Team Rwanda rider himself believes the race has improved significantly and the competition level has gone up following the rise of many young riders.

“It’s really interesting this year, for the past two editions, the competition has always been between Benediction and Les Amis Sportifs and it has not been looking really good but now CCA have made their presence felt and we are now wary about them,” said Uwizeye after Saturday’s race.

He added “Now, whenever a CCA rider makes a breakaway, a Club Bendiction rider attacks and Les Amis Sportifs riders do the same, which shows how the competition has improved and I expect it to be tougher this season. But at end of the day, this competition is good for Rwanda cycling.”

CCA is led by Team Rwanda rider Camera Hakuzimana, who returned to cycling this year after 10 months out of action due to suspension by the local cycling governing body, FERWACY over inappropriate conduct.

On Saturday, Hakuzimana, who failed to finish the first race, Kigali-Huye, made the first breakaway together with Benediction’s rising talent, 19-year-old Didier Munyaneza and had a lead of two minutes between the chasing group.

With about 43 kilomtres to Nyagatare town, the chasing group that included Uwizeye, had already caught up with the duo and the Les Amis Sportifs rider went on to win the race after posting 3 hours, 41 minutes and 46 seconds.

He crossed the finish line in a sprint photo finish with Club Benediction’s Patrick Byukusenge and CCA’s Hakuzimana.

Les Amis Sportifs had two riders finishing in the top 10; Club Benediction had three while CCA had also three riders with Muhazi Cycling Generation also having two.

Saturday

Famers’ Circuit: Kigali-Nyagatare

Men Elite & U23

Jean Claude Uwizeye (Les Amis Sportifs) 3h:41′:46″

Patrick Byukusenge (Club Benediction) 3h:41′:46″

Camera Hakuzimana (Cycling Club for All) 3h:41′:46″

Juniors

Kayonza-Nyagatare

Jimmy Mbarushimana (Club Benediction) 2h:17′:29″

Eric Manizabayo (Club Benediction) 2h:17′:29″

Jean Eric Habimana (Fly Club) 2h:17′:29″

Women

Kayonza-Nyagatare

Jean d’Arc Girubuntu (Les Amis Sportifs) 2h:42′:31″

Beatha Ingabire (Les Amis Sportifs) 2h:42′:31″

Varerine Nirere (Les Amis Sportifs) 2h:42′:31″

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