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African press review 17 October 2011

The economic effect of the Somali pirates, a call for censure for some ministers in Uganda and the possible doubling of the cost of printing Kenya's currency are the stories making the headlines in the African press.

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The East African gives front-page prominence to a story on the economic impact of Somali piracy.

Pirates operating from Somalia are reckoned to have cost the global economy 16 billion euros in the first six months of this year.

A report by the Centre for American Progress reveals that 154 ships were attacked in the first half of 2011. 21 of those were successfully hijacked, with a total of 362 hostages on board.

According to The East African, countries are increasingly being forced to spend millions of dollars on ransoms, excess insurance premiums for ships travelling through the Gulf of Aden, re-routing ships to avoid high-risk regions, security costs, naval forces and the prosecution of suspected Somali pirates in foreign courts.

These costs are likely to get even higher because the entire Indian Ocean was classified as a war-risk zone in January, meaning that ships transiting through the region are automatically subject to excess premiums.

The regional newspaper also reports that Tanzania leads other East African Community members in ensuring the safety of its citizens.

A report from the Mo Ibrahim Foundation shows that Tanzania scored 90 out of 100 for national security, while Kenya came second in the region with 78.

Uganda, just a year after twin bomb attacks by the Somali-based terror group, Al Shaabab, managed 72, Burundi 66, while Rwanda scored only 54.

The study looked at such areas as cross-border tensions, domestic armed conflict and government involvement in armed conflict.

On people’s safety, Tanzania led the regional rankings with 49 of a possible 100, Uganda had 46, with Kenya coming last with 31.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagamé has supported applications by both North and South Sudan to join the five-member East African Community.

President Kagamé said a bigger trade bloc would offer more opportunities to regional economies.

Some member states are opposed to Khartoum’s application, arguing that the country does not share a common border with any of the East African Community states.

Opponents are also uncomfortable with Sudan’s human-rights record and the fact that the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir for atrocities allegedly committed in Darfur.

The final decision on Sudanese membership is expected to be made at the Heads of State Summit in Bujumbura, Burundi, next month.

The Daily Monitor in Uganda reports that members of parliament have called for the censure of ministers accused of profiteering from alleged dubious oil deals if they fail to resign from their positions by the end of this week.

The move follows last Tuesday’s resolution by Parliament directing the three members - Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi, Interior Minister Hilary Onek and Sam Kutesa at Foreign Affairs - to step aside while a parliamentary committee investigates the allegations against them.

The latest move gives the three until 25 October to step down.

A financial story with a difference makes the front page of Nairobi's Daily Nation. The Kenyan government could be paying double for printing Kenyan currency after it dropped the competitive tendering process, according to a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank.

Last month, the cabinet gave exclusive currency printing rights to De La Rue Ruaraka, as part of a deal that gave the government 40 per cent ownership of the company.

According to former deputy governor of the Central Bank, Jacinta Mwatela, such a venture has eliminated competition in the currency printing business. She says the chosen printer's prices are uncompetitive.

De La Rue is said to charge the government 27 cents for a bank note, compared to the 12 cents charged by other international bank note printers.

In justifying the deal, Treasury officials argue that leaving the currency printing job in the hands of a private printer exposes the country to the risk of counterfeiting.

And a word of sports news from the South African papers.

According to the Johannesburg Star, Craig Joubert has been named to referee the World Cup final between New Zealand and France next Sunday at Auckland's Eden Park.

It will be his first final and he becomes the second South African, after Andre Watson, to take charge of the final match of the global showcase.

England's Wayne Barnes will referee the playoff for third place between Australia and Wales on Friday.

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