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African press review 14 July 2014

Al Shebab, Richard Branson and alcohol consumption all feature in stories in today's African papers ...


The Standard in Kenya claims to know the identity of the Al Shebab commander who led the fighters who recently carried out deadly attacks in Lamu County, in the north of Coast Province.

According to the Nairobi-based daily, intelligence reports say that Idris Kamau, a Kenyan of Kikuyu ethnicity, was the mastermind of the spate of terror attacks in Lamu that have so far claimed 87 lives.

This information is contained in a report prepared by the National Intelligence Service and sent to police stations in the Coast region. The alert also indicates that a former Kenya Defence Forces soldier, Abu Jamal, is in charge of a cell of Al Shabaab fighters in Mombasa said to be planning more attacks in the region.

Across Nairobi, at The Daily Nation, the main story reports that British billionaire Richard Branson has slammed foreign governments for issuing travel advisories against Kenya, saying they create a wrong impression about the country and risk destroying its economy.

In a posting on his Virgin Group website, Branson said governments should never publish travel advisories warning its citizens against visiting another country, saying this played into the hands of terrorists.

The businessman said the travel advisories were hurting Kenyan’s tourism sector and, by extension, the economy, adding that decreased business is the reason his airline pulled out of Kenya in 2012.

Branson is an investor in Kenya’s hospitality industry having opened a luxury tented camp in the Maasai Mara last year.

The top story in South African financial paper BusinessDay says the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa yesterday inexplicably reduced its wage demand to 10 per cent from 12 per cent and said it was willing to end its strike if employers agreed to a one-year deal.

"We are ready to end the current strike with a one-year agreement and a 10 per cent wage increase," the union's general secretary Irvin Jim told reporters in Johannesburg yesterday, declining to explain why the labour group had altered its demands.

As the stoppage enters its third week, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation is offering a three-year package that would see workers getting 10 per cent this year, 9.5 per cent next year and 9 per cent in the third year.

The union and employer representatives are scheduled to meet later today.

BusinessDay also reports that the popular wisdom that a few drinks are good for your health is probably nonsense.

According to a study published at the weekend, reducing even light consumption of alcohol will not only improve your chances against coronary heart disease, but also help you to lose weight and ease high blood pressure.

The study suggests that there's a link between reduced consumption of alcohol and improved cardiovascular health, regardless of whether you're a light, moderate or heavy drinker.

On its African Business pages, BusinessDay says Togo has ordered Europe’s largest hotel group, Accor, to quit the country immediately or face nearly one million euros in daily fines.

The order is the culmination of months of legal wrangling over the renewal of Accor’s rental agreement for its beachside Sarakawa hotel in Lome, Togo’s capital.

The government, which opposed the lease renewal on the basis that Accor had not invested sufficiently in the hotel, now plans to find a new operator for the property.

The Paris law firm representing the hotel group says the Togolese government is in breach of a legal treaty governing business law in West Africa, adding that the decision to expel Accor is a very bad sign for foreign investors.

The empty hotel was last night being guarded by police officers.

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