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African press review 14 August 2014

Ebola is hogging the headlines in African papers today.  


In Kenya, the Standard Digital reports that the country, like Nigeria, is concerned with doctor's strikes at a time when their help is needed to contain the Ebola outbreak. Health workers have threatened industrial action because of delayed salaries. The Standard says Kenya's top health official has promised to front the salaries to make sure everyone is in place and ready to work in case of an outbreak. This after the WHO said Kenya was the East African country most vulnerable to the virus because of the many flights that transit through its airports.

Rival paper Daily Nation says though the Parliament's Human Rights body asked the government to suspend airline activities, flights are still running. According to the paper, this is because the West African route is an important source of revenue. Kenya Airways flies 44 times a week to West African cities, like Monrovia or Lagos. And Kenya currently receives nearly ten flights a day from affected countries. Though the government is loathe to put a stop to air traffic, the Nation says the airports are "religiously" following instructions to screen passengers.

And there's a lot of blame associated with the virus. In Nigeria, the man who brought Ebola into the country has sparked controversy on social media.

Premium Times reports that Patrick Sawyer, an employee of the steel-maker Arcelor-Mittal, was given sick leave because he was suspected of having the virus. He then traveled to Lagos while knowing he was infected. The man's widow said on Facebook that he hoped to get better health care over the border, and saw Nigeria as a place of refuge. Many in Nigeria though have expressed outrage, with some calling him a "biological terrorist."

The Nigerian Vanguard says that the Liberian minister who cleared Sawyer to travel was actually a friend. Lambasted on social media for incompetence and accused of being responsible for letting the virus into Nigeria, he said he did not regret his decision and did not owe anyone any explanations.

And finally the Nigerian Punch has the story on some of the consequences of the country's health scare: some hospitals have refused to treat patients suffering from fever for fear of Ebola. Restaurants are empty, family reunions are post-poned. Even the faithful aren't taking any chances - they're staying home rather than go to church. And hand-sanitzers are the hottest commodity on the market.

In South Africa, the papers are reporting on the Farlam commission, which is investigating the shooting of 34 miners at Marikana by police some two years ago. As we've heard earlier this week, South Africa's deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa was heckled while testifying about his role in the events leading up to the shooting. Many family members called for his resignation. The Mail & Guardian says the hearing reached a new state of extreme distress as families members fainted and broke down in tears while on the witness stand. Relatives have been granted five minutes each to talk about their deceased loved ones yesterday and today. According to the online paper, they are in dire need of closure and justice, and it looks like police will not be let off the hook lightly.

And finally Uganda has some bright news. The Daily Monitor publishes a feature on how the sun lights up nights in the West Nile. According to the Monitor, the region has been without power for decades. Being off the grid so to speak, villagers have turned to the sun. Thanks to a micro-financing project, they have taken up so-called solar loans to invest in panels - this allows them to start a small business renting out the outlets to charge neighbors' cell phones. The Monitor reports that using solar is cheaper than relying on generators. The paper says local radio stations invested huge money to set up the structures to provide power. The only issue is the rainy season, when for stretches at a time, the villages have to go back to being in the dark.

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