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Angola withdraws real estate contract awarded to Isabel dos Santos2 minutes read

The tender was for the construction of a new suburb in the capital Luanda.

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Angola withdraws real estate contract awarded to Isabel dos Santos
Angolan businesswoman and elder daughter of Angola's former President, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Isabel dos Santos. (Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP)

Angolan President Joao Lourenco has cancelled a $1.3-billion real estate tender that had been awarded to his predecessor’s daughter, Isabel dos Santos, the presidency said Tuesday.

In a decree, it said the contract had been cancelled “after establishing overcharging” and denounced a “violation of moral principles”.

In January 2016, former president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos approved a tender awarded to several companies -including Urbinveste, in which his daughter Isabel is the main shareholder.

The tender was for the construction of a new suburb in the capital Luanda.

Isabel, the former president’s oldest daughter and believed to be the richest woman in Africa, said on Twitter on Monday that the allegations of “over-invoicing are unfounded”.

“There is a will by new Angolan executive to demonstrate, even without any facts and without proof, that those who worked at the time of the previous executive were dishonest,” she tweeted.

In a statement, Urbinveste described the cancellation of the contract without proof “of overcharging” as “incomprehensible … and incoherent”, saying it had followed public procurement procedures.

Relations between Dos Santos’s family and Lourenco have soured since the former handed over power in 2017, after 38 years in office.

The new president has embarked on a large-scale clean up of government and state-owned companies, targeting the ex-leader’s relatives.

Within three months of taking control of Angola, Lourenco sacked Isabel as head of the state-run oil company and set about dismantling the empire built by Dos Santos. 

Last year, Dos Santos’ son was fired from his position as head of the sovereign wealth fund.

Most of the dos Santos family are now abroad.

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Uganda approves return of over 2,500 nationals stranded abroad

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Over 2,500 Ugandan nationals stranded abroad amid the Covid-19 pandemic can now return home as approved by the Ugandan cabinet.

The cabinet on Monday, agreed that Ugandan nationals trapped in 66 countries can return home at their own cost.

The government is making arrangements with the UN World Food Program (WFP) to fly the stranded citizens home, Judith Nabakooba, the country’s minister for information, communication technology and national guidance says, adding that all the returning citizens will have to undergo a 14-day mandatory institutional quarantine. 

President Yoweri Museveni last month, directed Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda to study the possibility of evacuating dozens of citizens stranded abroad amid Covid-19 pandemic travel restrictions. 

To contain the spread of Covid-19, the country on March 22 suspended all incoming flights, except cargo flights. 

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Border closure hurts Tanzania’s horticultural exports

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A border closure between Tanzania and Kenya has hit Dar es Salaam’s horticulture sector due to long delays at the crossing for fresh produce truckers, resulting in a disruption of the supply chain.

Horticulture is one of Tanzania’s economic pillars.

This past week, Tanzania Horticulture Association (TAHA) Chief Executive, Jacqueline Mkindi asked the governments of Tanzania and Kenya to resolve the border issue for the sake of an already struggling exports industry.

Most of Tanzania’s horticulture produce is exported through Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). “If this tug of war continues, we’ll be the first to suffer as we still rely on JKIA and the port in Mombasa to export crops whose routes are not open from Tanzania,” Mkindi adds. “Our government has all along been considerate to horticulture. We advise it to embark on economic negotiations with Kenya to allow cargo to continue crossing borders smoothly.”

After an international aviation halt, the TAHA signed a deal with Ethiopian Airlines.

Despite the deal with Ethiopian Airlines to ferry fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers to global markets from Kilimanjaro International Airport, the airline has still not been granted long-term landing permits.

Currently, TAHA has to apply for a landing warrant for every incoming flight at routine airport charges and has to attach backup documents each time.

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Ethiopia to divest 40% of Ethio Telecom

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The Ethiopian government is finalizing plans to sell a 40 percent stake in Ethio Telecom- the country’s sole telecommunication provider . The plan was announced by Ethiopia’s State Minister of Finance, Eyob Tekalign Tolina.

Ethiopia’s telecommunication industry is considered one of the last closed markets. It has been one of the government’s plans to liberalize the country’s economy launched by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Ethio Telecom has a large market serving a population of around 110 million.

The government will retain ownership of the remaining 60 percent.

Foreign firms in the telecom sector will be invited to bid and a percentage of the minority stake will be sold to Ethiopian citizens. South Africa’s MTN and Kenya’s Safaricom have shown interest in expanding into Ethiopia in the past.

Ethiopia’s communications regulator says the country would proceed with the privatisation of the telecommunications sector despite the novel coronavirus outbreak.

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