African press review 28 January 2015

Lagarde warns that Africa’s economies could be hurt by a Chinese slowdown. SA’s electricity crisis sputters on. Nigeria has naira trouble. Egyptian tights groups demand to know where missing demonstrators are. And there’s more trouble for Kenya’s teachers.


The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, is on several African front pages. Yesterday she was warning African economies that they could be hurt by a slowdown in China’s economy and an imminent hike in US interest rates.

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Lagarde, speaking yesterday on a visit to Rwanda, said the IMF’s global economic forecasts have been revised down over the past few months, despite a huge fall in oil prices.

She called for "vigilance" across Africa and added that slower growth has implications for a continent that is now more integrated into the global economy than ever before.

The IMF's overall outlook for sub-Saharan Africa remains promising, with average growth predicted to be close to five per cent this year.

The South African electricity crisis has not gone away. Following blackouts on Monday, the national supplier Eskom yesterday used what it called rolling power cuts to keep the grid from closing down.

According to South African financial paper BusinessDay, Eskom is scrambling to keep the lights burning. On Tuesday it had to bring in controlled power outages for the second day in a row to keep demand from overwhelming the grid, which would trigger a total blackout.

Eskom said the power cuts were necessary because of a shortage of generation capacity. Twenty five per cent of Eskom’s generator capacity is currently out of action because of technical problems or maintenance.

On its African financial pages, BusinessDay reports that Nigeria's commercial banks appear to have suspended trading in the naira, despite assurances from the governor of the central bank in Abuja that the national currency was "appropriately priced".

The naira has been trading at a low of 190 to the US dollar, mainly because of the world slump in oil prices.

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BusinessDay says Nigeria's commercial banks have an unofficial "circuit-break" agreement to halt trade if the naira falls more than 2.0 per cent in a single day.

In Nigeria itself daily paper Punch carries a story saying that former minister of petroleum resources Professor Tam David-West yesterday described Nigeria as a failed state.

At a news conference in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, David-West said that any government that could not protect its citizens was a failed government.

Punch also reports that, with just 23 days to go to Nigeria's elections, 60 per cent of voters have yet to collect their personalised elector cards.

The Egypt Independent reports that a human rights organisation has called on the Cairo security authorities to release the whereabouts of several protesters arrested in the Egyptian capital last weekend during demonstrations commemorating the fourth anniversary of the 2011 uprising.

The Egyptian Centre for Social and Economic Rights said yesterday its lawyers had filed a complaint against the interior minister and several police stations heads for randomly arresting activists and taking them to undeclared destinations in violation of the constitution.

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According to the centre, several activists were held inside police vehicles for hours before being taken to the Azkabiya police station in Cairo. They were later taken to a destination that still remains unknown.

The health ministry says 23 people died following violence between police and protesters commemorating the January 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak. The iInterior ministry says there were 516 arrests.

There’s more trouble for Kenya's teachers. According to the main story in this morning's Nairobi-based Standard, an estimated 2,000 teachers from terror-prone spots in North Eastern region yesterday declared they would not go back to their schools, reinforcing a stand-off with the government, which has warned they will be fired if they don’t return to work.

The teachers vowed to defy the return-to-work order by the Teachers Service Commission and dared the government to sack them, insisting they could not risk their safety for teaching posts.

Last November 24 teachers were gunned down by suspected Al-Shebab militants in north-eastern Kenya.

The government has said that any teacher missing from his post after Monday next will be replaced.

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