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African press review 24 March 2015

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on Monday signed an agreement on Ethiopian plans for a new Nile dam. The story is making front pages as far away as South Africa.

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According to the Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay, Monday's "declaration of principles" is intended to pave the way for further diplomatic co-operation on the Grand Renaissance Dam, which has stirred fears of a regional resource conflict. No details of the agreement were immediately released.

Egypt, which relies almost exclusively on the Nile for farming, industry and drinking water, has been worried that the dam will cut Egypt's share of the river's flow.

Ethiopia hopes the project will transform the country into a power hub for the electricity-hungry region.

The principles agreed on Monday include giving priority to downstream countries for electricity generated by the dam, a mechanism for resolving conflicts, and compensation for damage.

BusinessDay also looks to Liberia, one year after the outbreak of Ebola was confirmed there at the start of what turned out to be the worst regional outbreak of the disease in history.

According to the South African paper, the people of Monrovia’s Peace Island ghetto, survivors of civil war and Ebola, are facing an even deadlier threat   the measles virus. Experts say Liberia and its neighbours Guinea and Sierra Leone are ripe for an outbreak that could infect hundreds of thousands, dwarfing the carnage wrought by Ebola.

One consequence of the recent crisis has been a dramatic drop in measles vaccinations, with overburdened hospitals unable to keep up, leaving millions of children potentially at risk, according to the medical aid agency, Doctors Without Borders.

The Nairobi-based Standard reports that Kenyans are the second happiest people in Africa after Rwanda, according to a poll carried out by the Gallup organisation. Which might sound like good news, but actually leaves the Standard editors perplexed.

Forget about economic hardships, insecurity and the endemic corruption that are threatening our very existence, says the Standard, we are happy.

Worldwide, Kenya ranks 33rd on the Gallup Happiness Index for 2014. Rwanda, at number 15 out of 143 countries, is the happiest country in Africa.

The top 10 happiest countries are all from Latin America, led by Paraguay.

Kenya’s neighbour, Sudan, was ranked the unhappiest country in the world followed by Tunisia and Turkey.

Further down the same Standard front page, there's a story which might take the smiles off some happy Kenyan faces.

Under the headline "House of Shame," the Nairobi daily reports that the record of bad manners in the current Parliament continues to pile up as MPs ignore the provisions of Chapter Six of the Constitution that demands integrity and dignity of all State officials.

To date, at least 20 elected members of the Senate and the National Assembly have been accused of being involved in scandalous issues ranging from corruption, bribery, brawls and rape.

Some MPs have been caught hurling insults and even assaulting police officers while others have been implicated in sexual harassment of colleagues and parliamentary staff.

The main story in the Kenyan Daily Nation deals with a subject that is not ideal if you are still having your breakfast.

Under the headline "Human waste contains gold worth millions," we learn that a new expert study suggests that poo contains gold and other precious metals that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now the question is how to, if you like, get our hands on this potential windfall that could also help save the planet.

A recent study found that waste from one million Americans could contain as much as $13 million worth of various metals.

Finding a way to extract the metals could help the environment by cutting down on the need for mining and reducing pollution.

Finally, according to the top story in this morning's Kampala-based Daily Monitor, former prime minister Amama Mbabazi has said he will actively participate in the transformation of the country, an indication that his plan to contest for the presidency in 2016 is gaining momentum.

Mbabazi, who has been out of the political limelight since his sacking as prime minister last year, made the remarks while addressing university students at the weekend.

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