Health – Malaria Vaccine Trials

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Three Africa countries are selected for first phase of a Malaria vaccine pilot. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced that Ghana, Kenya and Malawi a are to be pilot countries for a new Malaria vaccine for young children from 2018. The vaccine has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives.

The vaccine was developed by GlaxoSmithKline and will be tested on children aged five to 17 months; it has taken decades of scientific and medical expertise to produce, and hundreds of millions of US dollars in funding.

The funding of US$49m for the first pilot phase is being funded by the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), UNITAID and the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

However, the vaccine only has partial effectiveness, and the challenge is whether countries can deliver the required four doses per child, said WHO Africa Regional Director, Matshidiso Moeti.

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CC Radio Okapi 2006

Malaria infects roughly 200 million people each year, killing roughly half a million people, and Sub-Saharan Africa is hit particularly hard, with 90% of the world’s cases in 2015.

According to the WHO, modelling and data gathering has been so bad that it has been hard to tell if cases have been rising or falling over the last 15 years.

Kenya, Ghana and Malawi already have fairly strong prevention and vaccination programmes, but were chosen as they still have a high number of malaria cases. The vaccine will be delivered through existing health provisioning systems.

The WHO has stated its aim to wipe out the disease by 2040, although so far it has proven stubborn, with resistance problems to both drugs and insecticides.

According to Kathryn Maitland, Professor of Tropical Paediatric Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London, writing in a academic paper published in December 2016, “the slow progress in this field is astonishing, given that malaria has been around for millennia and has been a major force for human evolutionary selection…contrast this pace of change with out progress in the treatment of HIV, a disease a little more than three decades old.” (The Independent 24/4)

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

HEALTH: Malaria
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 54, Issue. 4, Pp. 21416A–21417C

HEALTH: Wiping Out Polio
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 54, Issue. 3, Pp. 21381B–21381C

HEALTH: HIV Treatment Soars
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 11, Pp. 21236A–21237C

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Nigeria – Airline Takeover

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After a takeover by the government, the largest carrier in the country is trying to recover.

Investors are eying up airlines that the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has taken over, particularly Arik Air and Aero Contractors. AMCON took over Arik on February 9th due to Naira (N) 135 billion in debt.

Nigerian news service This Day reported that the federal government intended to sell Arik Air through AMCON. However AMCON has reportedly been changing the figures of the debt, reducing a previous figure of N300bn to N126bn.

An industry source said that the drastic fall in the exchange rate of the naira in 2016 critically affected many companies in Nigeria. Arik Air was largely funded by international finance institutions including, the US-Exim Bank, the Export Development Company of Canada, and Afrexim Bank. Arik owes Afrexim $24m and EDC $48m, with repayment dates set for 2020.

The Federal Government claims it has three programmes to revitalise the aviation industry, including establishing a national carrier; establishing maintenance, repair and overhaul facility; and the concession of the nation’s airports.

However, aviation industry experts have cautioned against the alleged plan to sell Arik Air and Aero Contractors, querying if how this would benefit Nigeria and make the airlines profitable.

However, AMCON has injected N1.5bn into Arik Airlines to safeguard operations, CEO Roy Ilegbodu said the funds were essential to the continued viability of the airline. He said KPMG had been appointed to carry out a proper audit.

Arik Air has also announced the resumption of flights to Maiduguri in Borno state, four years after operations were suspended for security reasons. The first flight commenced on May 9th.

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Meanwhile, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) Fola Akinkuotu has commended the Minister of State for Aviation Senator Hadi Sirika for the successful repair of the Abuja Airport runway.

The runway was closed for six weeks due to deterioration and safety risks. Many passengers were diverted by Kaduna airport, facing its own security risks.

There were, however, significant financial losses caused by the closure, especially due to a drop in passenger traffic. In the first three weeks of operations in Kaduna, Nigerian airlines said they lost around N10bn.

Similarly, passengers who passed through Kaduna said that it was a cumbersome experience, with a three-hour bus ride from Kaduna to Abuja city.

(Premium Times 3/5; The Guardian, Lagos 18/4; This Day 23, 28/4, 5, 7/5)

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

AIRPORTS AND SERVICES: Nigeria
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 54, Issue. 2, Pp. 21616A–21617C

AIRPORTS AND SERVICES: Africa
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.54, Issue. 3, Pp. 21651A–21652B

AIRPORTS AND SERVICES: Africa
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 11, Pp. 21504A–21506A

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Uganda – Oil Refinery Project

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The government seeks to resolve tender for huge project, as they look to Nigeria for advice. 

Uganda has shortlisted four companies for the construction of the US$4.27bn (UShs 15.3 trillion) oil refinery, according to Energy Minister Irene Muloni.

Muloni made the announcement during a session of the joint Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, Uganda Freight Forwarders Association and Private Sector Foundation, inaugural logistics fair in Kampala from April 25-27th.

A decision on the chosen tender is to be made within a month, said acting director of the refinery, Robert Kasande. However, others have said there are not four but eight companies in the bidding.

The companies are Canadian firm SNC Lavalin, United States (US) firms Yatra Ventures LLC and Apro, and Turkish firm IESCO. Others include Chinese-based Guangzhou Dongsong Energy, Spanish firm Profundo Bantu Energy, and Italy’s Maire Tecnimot.

Uganda had previously picked Russian firm RT Global Resources, but the Russian eventually pulled out citing failures by the Ugandan government to meet demands.

The decision needs to be made soon to allow a final investment by three oil firms, CNOOC, Total and Tullow, which revolves around the US$3.5bn East African Crude Oil Pipeline from Hoima disrict in Uganda to Tanga Port in Tanzania. The 1445km pipeline will be the longest electrically heated pipeline in the world, with a capacity of 200,000 barrels per day.

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Tullow Oil Refinery – CC 2010 

Another central aspect of the project is a refinery to be built at Hoima, for which financing is still yet to be ascertained, reported the Monitor.

In February the government relocated 46 families to make way for the refinery in Kabaale parish, Buseruka sub-county, Hoima. In June 2012 the government acquired the 29 square kilometres of land, covering 13 villages and displacing 7118 people.

Francis Elungat, the Land Acquisition Officer from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development said, “each family has been promised a cow, two goats, 10 kilograms of maize seedlings, a machete, hoe and other domestic tools,” adding that these supplies are meant to sustain the families until they will be self-reliant, reported Oil in Uganda. 

According to the Deputy Commander of Operations for Wealth Creation in Uganda, Lt Gen Charles Angina, Uganda is looking to learn from Nigeria in the oil sector.

“Nigeria is our admired African country who have demonstrated and exhibited local content in building and running its energy sector. And they have managed to promote this particular sector to a point that Nigerians now actively involved in different segments of the nation’s oil and gas sector. We felt Nigeria is the best country to come and learn from as well as work with our brothers and sisters of Nigeria, so that we can be able to do the same in building the local content in Uganda, so that together we benefit as Africans,” he said.

“As it stands today, most of what we see in the field today, in terms of operators and operations in the sector were formerly dominated and run by foreign companies like Shell, Total, ExxonMobil, but today, Nigeria has gained substantial control of this sector,” Angina added, reported This Day.

In Uganda, at least six major oil-related engineering projects are rolling and major project milestones are set for August and December, with numerous other small deadlines.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

UGANDA: Drought Hits Hard
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 12, Pp. 21533A–21534A

UGANDA: Diversify From Oil, World Bank Advises
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 6, Pp. 21315A–21315C

UGANDA: Major Investments
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 5, Pp. 21283A–21284A

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Malawi – Opposition Divisions

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The main opposition in the country is torn by infighting as the leader is accused of corruption. 

The opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) is in disarray as a group of party rebels led by Secretary General Gustav Kaliwo is seeking to oust the President Lazarus Chakwera. The rebel group have called for a emergency convention in July this year.

“I have had meetings with almost 23 committees from various districts across the country who requested me to call for a convention. Time is running out, as Malawi Congress Party we need to put our house in order if we are to have any chance in 2019. Therefore, I am today announcing a convention will take place on Friday 7th July to Sunday 9th July,” said Kaliwo.

According to Article 40 of the MCP constitution, an emergency convention can only be called if the party’s national executive committee resolves by two thirds of its membership. Kaliwo challenged that he has a backing of more than half of the party’s district committees.

“The convention is the highest authority of the party. Some people might find this unacceptable, they are entitled to their opinion but the party belongs to these people (district chairpersons). Let us not destroy the party. We can disagree but let’s not be disagreeable,” he added.

According to Article 38 (1) of the constitution, the convention being the highest authority of the party may remove the president, deputy president, or a member of national executive committee from office if he or she wilfully and persistently disobeys the constitution.

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Lazarus Chakwera – source

MCP, the oldest party in the country, has been hit by divisions and factionalism. Chakwera is accused of corruption and lack of leadership, the misuse of funds and practicing a ‘tyrannical leadership’ which poses a threat to the country if he was to be elected as Malawian President in the future.

Party funds have also reportedly been diverted into Chakwera’s personal accounts, alongside accusations of soliciting money from renowned business tycoons in return for positions and favours, reported the Nyasa Times.

Kaliwo accused Chakwera of snubbing his calls for a face to face meeting to resolve issues. Kaliwo said all his efforts to meet the leader of opposition have failed without any justification or explanation. Kaliwo added that Chakwera has used the MCP Administrative Secretary Potipher Chidaya to communicate.

“I have been at pains to explain what is going on in Malawi Congress Party. People are losing hope. Malawi Congress Party has been known for unity and discipline and now it is degenerating into this state. I am concerned as people keep on asking questions of what is going on. I was hoping we resolve our issues internally than washing our dirty laundry in public,” Kaliwo said, reported the Nyasa Times.

Responding to the calls for a national convention, the MCP said that Kaliwo has no mandate for such a move, particularly without consulting Chakwera himself.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin: 

MALAWI: ‘Maizegate’ Minister Sacked
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 54, Issue. 3, Pp. 21353B–21354A

Malawi – Cabinet Reshuffle
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 4, Pp. 20958A

MALAWI – TANZANIA: New Border Map
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 1, Pp. 20845A–20845C

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DR Congo – Kasai Bloodshed

Investigators unearth more mass graves as concern grows over further escalation.

On April 19th the United Nations (UN) said it had found a further 17 mass graves raising the total number known to 40. Fifteen graves were found in Tshimbulu town and two in Tshienke

Earlier on March 22nd, UN investigators counted 10 mass graves connected with the conflict between security forces and militias, at a cost of at least 400 lives. Seven were found in Demba town, with three in Tshimbulu.

Further, the UN said on April 21st that more than one million people had been displaced in the region over the last eight months. This is alongside violence in North and South Kivu, which has led a further two million to be displaced.

Fighting erupted in Kasai after government forces last August killed tribal chief Jean Pierre Mpandi, aka Kamwina Nsapu, who had launched an uprising against the government of President Joseph Kabila.

Further, two UN researchers, American Michael Sharp and Swedish-Chilean dual national Zaida Catalan, were kidnapped on March 12th with four Congolese nationals. Their bodies were found in a grave 16 days later.

Chief military prosecutor, Major General Joseph Ponde, said two men had been arrested for allegedly killing the UN experts. The remaining suspect was being interrogated in Kananga, capital of Kasai.

The Kamwina Nsapu militia “is increasingly taking violent and hostile action against anyone it sees as being outsiders, interfering in the Kasai,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.


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Resentment of Kabila’s administration runs deep in the region, which had overwhelmingly supported opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi in the 2011 election. Before he was killed, Mpandi had called on his militia to fight anyone representing the government, posting an audio appeal online for the “liberation of Congo”.

On March 28th, 39 police were killed in an ambush by rebels in Kasai and buried in a mass grave around 75km north of Tshikapa. The police had been travelling in two army transport trucks, with substantial equipment, which was taken by the rebels.

Jordan Anderson, Africa analyst for IHS Markit, cited reports that all 39 had been beheaded.

Suspected militia fighters also reportedly decapitated two soldiers on the outskirts of the Kananga airport, and have managed to release scores of prisoners from jail in Luebo area. Some escapees are seen as highly dangerous and could contribute to worsening the situation in the already embattled region.

(© AFP 28, 30, 31/3, 4, 14, 21/4 2017; BBC Monitoring 3, 11/4; Radio Okapi 9, 11/4)

Find out more the Africa Research Bulletin:

DR CONGO: Concern over Rights Abuses
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 54, Issue. 2, Pp. 21328B–21329A

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Bloody Christmas [Free to Read]
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 12, Pp. 21258A–21258C

DR CONGO: Targeted Attacks on Press
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 11, Pp. 21217B–21218A

Subscribe to the Africa Research Bulletin today. 

Somalia – Piracy Revival

After a decline in activities, there has been a resurgence of piracy in the Gulf of Aden. 

After an extended period of inactivity, pirates operating from the Somali coast have recently taken a number of ships; on March 13th a small oil tanker was hijacked and on March 24th pirates attacked a fishing boat, the first such attacks since 2012.

“We understand that pirates hijacked the fishing vessel to hijack a big ship off the ocean…they dropped its 10 Yemeni crew and a Somali guard inland and disappeared with the boat together with the food, cook, captain and engineer,” Head of Maritime Police Forces in Puntland, Abdirahman Mohamud said.

The pirates were reportedly from the village of Marrayo. Their tactic was reportedly to use the smaller ship as a mothership or launchpad for other more large scale attacks.

Further, on April 3rd Somali pirates seized a small boat and its 11 Indian crew members, and taken the vessel along the central coast, a state official said. The boat is currently in an area which was the centre of piracy in 2011, the coast near Elhur.

The attack happened as the vessel passed through the channel between Yemen’s Socotra Island and the Somali coast, reported the Independent


NATO troops on suspected Somali pirate ship – CC 2012

On piracy expert said, “we’re starting to see copycat attacks and there is a growing realisation that the shipping industry is taking huge risks.” British maritime safety firm Dryad Maritime has warned clients to stay 100 nautical miles away from the Socotra gap due to piracy concerns.

In 2011, Somalia pirates launched 237 attacks off the coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden, and held many hundreds of hostages, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

However, the frequency of attacks eventually fell as shipping firms increased security, such as blocking easy entrance points, installing secure panic rooms with communication equipment, and hiring private and military security escorts, reported the Independent.

Piracy in the region was once a serious concern for the global shipping industry. However since the decline, attention has turned to the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa. Recent events, however, suggest that the situation in the Gulf of Aden is deteriorating.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

AFRICAN UNION: Maritime Security Deal
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 10, Pp. 21170A–21170C

Mauritius – Somalia: Piracy Sentences
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 8, Pp. 21097A

GULF OF GUINEA: Step Forward in Tackling Piracy
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 52, Issue. 3, Pp. 20512A–20512B

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Nigeria – ‘Astonishingly High’ Pollution

Oil giant accused of concealing data on the health effects of two major spills. 

Data gathered among the Bodo community, which was devastated by two huge oil spills in 2008 and 2009, showed levels of pollution were “astonishingly high”, according to a letter by former employee of Shell, Kay Koltzmann.

Holtzmann was the former director in charge of Shell’s project to clean up oil spills in the Bodo community, in the oil-producing Niger Delta region. He accused the company of refusing to make the findings public.

The clean-up project carried out an analysis of the environment in the Bodo creeks in August 2015 “against fierce opposition” from Shell’s subsidiary company, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC). 

“The results from the laboratory were astonishingly high, actually the soil in the mangroves is literally soaked with hydrocarbons. Whoever is walking in the creeks cannot avoid contact with toxic substances… negative long term effects on their health are unpredictable,” he said.

The letter was addressed to the chairman of the Bodo Mediation Initiative, which is sponsored by the Dutch Government and is tasked to ensure the clean up meets international standards.

Shell accepted liability for the 2008 and 2009 oil spills. In 2011, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published a report claiming it would take up to 30 years to clean the Niger Delta from oil spills. In 2015, Shell agreed to pay £55m to the Bodo community.

Holtzmann called for “immediate action to protect the health of the Bodo residents” and urged for “medical mass screening” to take place, warning against the risk for people exposed to toxic substances by bathing or drinking the polluted water, reported UK-based the Independent

No one could explain the decision to withhold the data from the public.

Further, on April 10th Shell and ENI were forced to deny that their staff had been involved in payments to officials. In 2010 transactions worth $1.3bn were made by Shell and ENI for exploration of the OPL 245 offshore block, but the companies reportedly knew the funds would go to a front company connected to former petroleum minister Dan Etete, reported Lagos-based, the Guardian

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

NIGERIA – UK: Pollution Claims Blocked
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 54, Issue. 1, Pp. 21560C–21562C

OIL AND GAS: Nigeria
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 12, Pp. 21549B–21550C

OPEC TALKS: Oil Price Boost [Free to Read]
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 11, Pp. 21508A–21509A

Subscribe to the Africa Research Bulletin today.