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Journalists become endangered species in Somalia, Amnesty International1 minute read

At least eight journalists have been killed since 2017, and at least eight more fled the country fearing for their lives, Amnesty said.

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Relatives and fellow journalists carry the body of Somali journalist Abdulaziz Ali Haji during his funeral , on September 28, 2016, in Mogadishu. - Abdulaziz Ali Haji , a reporter for Shabelle radio, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on his way home north of the capital Mogadishu. Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for media workers: 45 Somali journalists were killed between 2007 and 2015, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). (Photo by MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB/AFP)

Somalian journalists have become endangered species and are “under siege”, facing bombings, beatings, attacks and arrests, rights group Amnesty International said on Thursday in a report.

The East African nation has long been seen as one of the riskiest places to work as a journalist, with the twin threats of reporting on conflict and draconian restrictions imposed by the authorities.

But now the situation is getting even worse, Amnesty said, in a report titled “We live in perpetual fear”, detailing what it called a “dramatic deterioration” in press freedom, AFP reports.

“A surge in violent attacks, threats, harassment and intimidation of media workers is entrenching Somalia as one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist,” Amnesty said, calling on the government to take action.

Journalists face threats on all fronts, from attacks by Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-allied Al-Shabaab fighters, to the internationally backed authorities.

At least eight journalists have been killed since 2017, and at least eight more fled the country fearing for their lives, the report said.

“From barely surviving explosive-wired cars, being shot, beaten up and arbitrarily arrested, journalists are working in horrifying conditions,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty’s head for eastern and southern Africa.

“This crackdown on the right to freedom of expression and media freedom is happening with impunity. The authorities hardly investigate or prosecute perpetrators of attacks on journalists,” Muchena said.

Reporters Without Borders ranks Somalia 164th out of 180 countries on its global list of press freedom, with more than 43 journalists killed over the past decade.

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Common Customs bond in East Africa will to reduce costs

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Importers in East Africa will from July, operate under a common Customs bond, to guarantee uniform import duties and taxes across all partner states.

Currently, the value of Customs bonds varies from country to country because of the application of different duty rates, valuation and sensitivity of goods.

Kenya requires importers of transit goods to secure a Customs bond issued by an insurance company, while delicate or sensitive cargo requires a bank or cash guarantee. In Uganda and Rwanda, the Customs bond is issued by an insurance company with rates based on the taxes charged by the destination country.

According to the East Africa Community Single Custom Territory Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, the common Customs bond will reduce the cost of doing business and goods turnaround time.

This common Customs bond is expected to be adopted during the Council of Ministers in July as part of the pillar to create a Customs Union. It is meant to create a level playing field for the region’s producers by imposing uniform competition laws, Customs procedures and external tariffs on goods imported from countries outside the EAC.

To secure cargo movement in the region, revenue commissioners from Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda in attendance, say they are already implementing cargo tracking systems and before the end of this year, there will be one data control centre to monitor and track cargo.

The new data control centre involves computerisation of all Customs systems and it will help in enhancing online tools, which include a regional dashboard, transport observatory system and a geographic information system.

A regional cargo tracking system is already operational on the Northern Corridor and has reduced cargo loss to close to zero in 2019.

According to the committee, the EAC secretariat in collaboration with Trade Mark East Africa and other partner states particularly the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) are looking into the possibility of interfacing the TRA Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTs) platform with existing ECTS systems along the central corridor.

Kenya Revenue Authority regional co-ordinator Southern Region Kenneth Ochola said they are setting up internal mechanisms in consultations with the Kenya Bureau of Standards to monitor compliance.

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Business News

Carrefour faces Kenyan fines over unfair supplier deals

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Kenya’s competition watchdog has fined Carrefour and ordered the French retail giant to review all its supply agreements within 60 days after the supermarket chain was found to be exploiting traders who supply it with goods.

The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) also ordered Carrefour through its franchise holder, Majid al Futtaim’s (MAF) to expunge six items from its supplier contracts that are said to give the store the power to offer ultra-competitive pricing to boost sales and increase market share.

The clauses include forcing suppliers to pay a non-refundable fee to do business with it and forcing merchants offering the retail chain goods to provide extra rebates or discounts.

Carrefour was found to be in breach of the law for forcing suppliers to post their own staff at its outlets at the expense of the suppliers. It was also accused of rejecting goods already delivered.

The retail giant has also been barred from delisting suppliers unilaterally without notice for failure to meet its stringent supply contract.

According to the CAK Director-General, Wang’ombe Kariuki, all current supply agreements of Majid Al Futtaim Limited relating to its Carrefour Hypermarkets in Kenya be amended forthwith and in any event within 60 days of service of this order to expunge all offending provisions.

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Tanzania’s gold, dollar reserves reach $5.5billion

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By the first half of 2019/2020, covering more than six months of imports, Tanzania accumulated $5.5 billion worth of gold and dollar reserves

The country’s benchmark is at least four months’ reserve of imports cover.

The Bank of Tanzania ( BoT), in its Monetary Policy Statement Mid-Year Review released last week, attributes the good run to the increase in value of exports specifically from the non-traditional goods counter of minerals and manufactured goods.

By the end of the first half of 2019/2020, data shows the value of non-traditional goods exports increased by 39.3 per cent to $2.363 billion, largely driven by manufactured goods and gold.

Exports of manufactured goods increased by 19.2 per cent to $518.6 million from $435.2 million in the same period in 2018/2019. The increase is attributed to a rise in exports of iron and steel products, glass and glassware, manufactured tobacco, sisal yarn and twine.

As of January 2020, manufactured goods recorded a 24 per cent increase of $984.9 million, driven by sisal yarn and twine, iron and steel products, glass and glassware, manufactured tobacco and fertilisers.

Gold, which accounted for 53.7 percent of non-traditional goods exports, increased by 59.6 per cent to $1.268 billion from $795.1 million in 2018/2019 on account of both volume and favourable prices at the world market.

Traditional goods exports also increased to reach $634.4 million compared with $322.1 million in the same period last year, driven by exports of cashewnuts.

Services receipts increased to $2.257 billion, boosted by a good performance in travel and transport receipts.

According to BoT, gross domestic product maintained an average growth of 6.9 per cent, same as in 2018, occasioned by scaling up of public investments, steady private sector activity, and stable consumption expenditure.

The main contributors to growth for the first half of 2019/2020 were the construction sector by 28.9 per cent, agriculture by 18 per cent and transport by 9.9 per cent.

With the ongoing public investments in social and physical infrastructure, continued improvement in power supply, expansion of credit to the private sector, and enhanced capacity utilization in the manufacturing industry real GDP growth is expected to remain robust at the end of the 2019/2020 financial year.

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