African press review 2 January 2016

Anything is possible in today's African press review: paint and posts can change the world; Kenyans could soon pay next to nothing to travel in the east-African region and President Muhammadu Buhari could ban the hijab in Nigeria.


We start with Kenya, where parents are unhappy about new school fees. You'll find that story in Daily Nation.

Kenyan public secondary schools have apparently found new ways of making parents pay more charges, even though some are dealt with by the national government. The daily had access to fee demand letters for this year, and they include "levies for items" such as "county and sub-count education boards, a task of the national government" or holiday tuition "wich was banned".

Schools are scheduled to reopen at the beginning of next week, and this hike in fees couldn't come at a worse time.

There's now a "high cost of living occasioned by inflation, higher cost of textbooks and stationery and a steep increase in the prices of basic commodities" says Daily Nation. And to make things worse, publishers have announced a 15% rise in texbook prices.

Meanwhile, Nigeria is considering whether or not to ban the Hijab or Islamic veil according to Punch.

The veil, usually worn by Muslim women to cover their head, could be banned on security grounds.

President Muhammadu Buhari made the comments on Wednesday, explaining the move could be implemented if "female suicide bombers continued to cause havoc in the country".

The presidency however, backtracked and promised to work with leaders of the Nigerian muslim community.

"The present administration will always respect the rights of Muslims to protect their modesty and allow religious freedom," a spokesperson told the daily.

Now the Guardian has a story on how land disputes can be resolved by... paint.

The British newspaper has a very interesting report on how, in North Darfour, the simple fact of digging a hole, "sinking a concrete post into it and slapping on a bit of paint," can do wonders.

The paper describes, how, after the war between rebels and the Karthoum government, "competition for land has increased" between nomadic tribes and farmers.

That's when NGO Pratical Action, came up with the idea to clarify the routes along which the cattle and camels are allowed to roam.

"Before the route-marking began, Practical Action identified areas of conflict, talked to community leaders and drew up maps with support from local and regional authorities," says the Guardian.

The NGO then installed concrete posts along those roads - using a different coloring to indicate if an area is being used for farming or not.

Proof, according to the british daily, that even if this is 2016, solutions don't always need to rely on new technologies.

The East African wonders if low-cost airlines will finally take off in the eastern part of the continent.

Last year was not a great year for traditional carriers in east Africa, says the newspaper, mainly due to terror attacks and the Ebola epidemic of 2014. Kenya Airways suffered a record loss of 248 million dollars (228 million euros), while British Airways pulled the plug on its service to Uganda.

But 2016 might prove to be another story: Fastjet, that The East African calls "the poster child of low-cost air travel in the region," will enter the Kenyan market.

This means the possibility of cheap flights between Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. One of the challenges for low-cost airlines is the lack of secondary airports, which means high user fees charged by regulators.

But, notes the daily, the falling oil prices could benefit those carriers.

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