African press review 2 August 2011

Text by: Carla Westerheide
3 min

Are Zimbabwe's banks abusing the public? Can Ugandan beer drinkers afford to keep dowing the pints? Generous Kenyans raise thousands for drought relief. And South Africa campaigns for male circumcision.


How much would you pay for a brand new one dollar (0.70 euro) bill? How about six dollars (4.20 euros)? The Herald in Zimbabwe reports that some commercial banks will charge you a five dollar (3.5 euros) fee for exchanging old or torn notes for a service fee.

The country’s Reserve Bank warned that the banks shouldn’t “abuse the public.” But the paper found, that did little to scare local branches. There are still a lot of old notes circulating in Zimbabwe, but a lot of shopkeepers won’t accept them.

And here is a little trivia for this morning: The US government will replace worn out or damaged money if more than 50 per cent of it is still identifiable. If it’s less, the US treasury wants proof that the rest of the bill has been destroyed before replacing it. In total, it hands out 21 million euros in refunds every year.

If you do get your bills exchanged, I wouldn’t recommend going to Uganda and spending it on beer. According to Ugandan paper Daily Monitor, beer prices are on the rise. Breweries announced that inflation was pushing them to also ask for more money.

So, no more drinking your sorrows away. But there is always candy. Except that the article says sugar prices are also skyrocketing. The reason why is still unclear, but some say there might be a shortage of cane, which is used to produce sugar.

The article says that in Kampala some supermarkets have limited the amount of sugar a person can buy.

The Ugandan government says it is sorry about the price hikes but can’t do anything. The paper cites a spokesperson for the Kampala city traders' association who says, “Uganda is a free economy and this allows traders to set prices and choose where to sell their goods.”

On to some good news, though still money-related because money makes the world go round.

Kenya’s Daily Nation reports that Kenyans have raised 640,000 euros for those affected by the ongoing drought in the country. The initiative is called “Kenyans for Kenya” and aims to implement short, medium and long-term solutions to ease the ongoing crisis.

And it has been very successful. A spokesperson told the paper that seven out of 10 shoppers at Kenyan supermarkets donated to the cause.

And South Africa’s The Star published an article on circumcision. This comes as the male medical circumcision site at the Zola clinic was officially inaugurated.

In November, the local government launched a campaign in the Gauteng region to get men circumcised and help prevent the spread of HIV. Since then some 8,000 men between the ages of 15 and 49 have been circumcised.

According to the World Health Organisation, medical circumcision reduces the risk of infection by 60 per cent. But, authorities say, nothing beats the ABC method: “Abstain, Be faithful, use Condoms.”

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning