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Sunday, 17th November 2019
4:44:13am

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Seventeen black rhinos have been released into Malawi’s Liwonde national park after arriving from South Africa as part of conservation efforts aimed at keeping the local population of the endangered species healthy and safe.

By moving the beasts, in one of the biggest international relocations of its kind, conservationists hope to ensure wild black rhinos remain genetically diverse to better fight off disease.

Peter Fearnhead, Chief Executive of African Parks, a private conservation trust that runs game reserves in Malawi, said the relocation also reflected local efforts to keep rhinos and other wild animals safe. Anti-poaching measures in Malawi have included deploying British troops to patrol the reserves.

“Extensive measures to protect these animals include aerial surveillance, daily ranger patrols, and the integration of the most advanced technology to enable live-time tracking,” Fearnhead said.

“With fewer than 5,500 black rhinos remaining in the wild, translocations to well-protected areas are essential for their long-term survival.”

The first translocation of two rhinos from South Africa’s Kruger National Park took place in 1992. The new transfer was organised by wildlife departments in the two countries and WWF South Africa.

The 17 rhinos were captured in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and quarantined for six weeks at Imfolozi Game Reserve, after which they were flown from King Shaka airport in Durban to Lilongwe in Malawi.

Britain’s Prince Harry has been involved in conservation efforts at Liwonde, which lies in Eastern Southern Malawi on the banks of the Shire river.

“This is a great boost to the endangered rhino species, hunted down for its horn,” said Brightson Kumchedwa, director of parks and wildlife in Malawi’s Ministry of Natural Resources.

“For the South African government to release the 17 is a sign of confidence in Malawi’s concerted efforts to greatly improve wildlife security.”

-Reuters

South Africa’s SAA’s restructuring plan will be finalised by March next year and should save the firm 700 million rand ($47 million), the executive team at the ailing state airline told a media briefing on Tuesday.

“If you look at the 944 employees (who could lose their jobs), it’s estimated, depending on how the process pans out, it could save the company about 700 million rand. Our communications to labour and employees is to have this process finalised by the end of March next year,” said South African Airways’ Martin Kemp.

Earlier on Tuesday the company said it had started consultations with its more than 5,000 staff and labour unions about cutting jobs to bringing down its massive debt, including a 21.7 billion rand funding gap, that has forced government to repeatedly bail it out.

-Reuters    

South African telecoms major MTN Group Ltd has ditched a plan to sell its 53% stake in Mascom Wireless Botswana, which was supposed to net the company $300 million. 

Africa’s largest mobile operator by subscribers said in a quarterly update on Thursday that certain conditions related to the transaction had not been met, which led to the company’s decision.

Chief Financial Officer Ralph Mupita said on a call with reporters that the bid for MTN’s stake in the business had been unsolicited, and it was for now no longer being held for sale.

“In the longer term, if somebody came with a very attractive offer for the business, we’ll apply our minds then,” he said. 

A 15 billion rand ($1.00 billion) divestment plan is making “steady process”, Mupita said, adding that the company was in advanced discussions around the disposal of 49% holdings in ATC Ghana and ATC Uganda, which it values at between 7 billion rand and 8 billion rand.

MTN is reviewing a raft of investments under a three-year plan that includes shedding loss-making e-commerce assets and exiting countries where it has no prospect of reaching the top-two spots in terms of market share.

It is aimed at slimming the company down and honing its focus on high-growth markets on the continent and in the Middle East after clashes with regulators in Nigeria, Uganda and elsewhere crimped growth.

It said on Thursday its service revenue for the nine-months to Sept. 30 rose by 9.6% year-on-year, buoyed by strong performances from its Nigeria and Ghana operations.

-Reuters 

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday approved a data protection law which complies with European Union legal standards as it looks to bolster investment in its information technology sector.

The East African nation has attracted foreign firms with innovations such as Safaricom’s M-Pesa mobile money services, but the lack of safeguards in handling personal data has held it back from its full potential, officials say.

“Kenya has joined the global community in terms of data protection standards,” Joe Mucheru, minister for information, technology and communication, told Reuters.

The new law sets out restrictions on how personally identifiable data obtained by firms and government entities can be handled, stored and shared, the government said.

Mucheru said it complies with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation which came into effect in May 2018 and said an independent office will investigate data infringements.

Companies such as Kenya Airways and tourist hotels will have to comply when handling personal data from clients, Mucheru said, as will phone-based lenders such as Safaricom, which amasses personal data through services offered jointly with local banks.

Amazon Web Services, part of the Amazon group, said on Friday it will set up part of its cloud infrastructure in Kenya, adding it was encouraged by the new law. It did not give a value for the new investment. 

Teresa Carlson, vice president of Amazon Web Services, said the new law paves the way for the company’s investment in Nairobi, according to a government news release.

Those violating the law face a maximum fine of 3 million shillings ($29,283) or two years in jail, a copy of the law seen by Reuters showed.

“It will come down to implementation and enforcement but, we have been waiting on this for seven years so it is a start,” said Nanjira Sambuli, a senior policy manager at the World Wide Web Foundation, a web access advocacy group.

A lack of data protection legislation has also hampered the government’s efforts to digitise identity records for citizens.

The registration, which the government said would boost its provision of services, suffered a setback this year when the exercise was challenged in court.

“The lack of a data privacy law has been an enormous lacuna in Kenya’s digital rights landscape,” said Nanjala Nyabola, author of a book on information technology and democracy in Kenya.

-Reuters

The South African government unveiled the broad outlines of a plan to overhaul struggling state power firm Eskom on Tuesday, saying it hoped to complete a legal separation of the utility into three entities around 2022.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a state of the nation address in February that the government planned to split Eskom into units for generation, transmission and distribution, but there has been little detail about the timeframe.

Tuesday’s release of a government “special paper” on Eskom had been eagerly anticipated by investors and ratings agencies, which cite the financial and operational crisis at Eskom as one of the biggest risks to Africa’s most industrialised economy.

Eskom produces more than 90% of South Africa’s electricity but has been grappling with faults at its coal-fired power stations that have caused several rounds of power outages this year. It also has an unsustainable 440 billion rand ($30 billion) debt burden.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Tuesday that the government would prioritise setting up the transmission unit as a separate entity within an Eskom holding company. 

At a later stage the government could create two or more Eskom generation subsidiaries that could compete against each other.

The paper did not address Eskom’s debt in much detail, other than to say the government was looking at various mechanisms to give Eskom additional debt relief, on top of bailouts of more than 100 billion rand promised for the next two financial years.

Gordhan said the government would hopefully announce a new chief executive for Eskom next week, later than initially envisaged, after the previous CEO left his post in July.

Eskom’s financial crisis is rooted in soaring expenditure, huge cost overruns on two huge coal power stations and years of low tariffs.

It made a loss of more than 20 billion rand in the year to the end of March.

Ramaphosa, who came to power in February 2018 with a pledge to fix ailing state firms, is under pressure to revive the flagging economy, which suffered a steep contraction in the first quarter when Eskom implemented severe power cuts.

-Reuters

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