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Rwandan workers’ trade union appeals for minimum wage review1 minute read

Rwanda’s current minimum wage was set in the 1980s at 100 Rwandan francs per day

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Rwandan workers’ trade union appeals for minimum wage review
Rwandan factory workers.

As the world marked Labour day yesterday, Rwandan workers’ trade union made a fresh appeal for the government to expedite establishing a new minimum wage.

“There is need to fast track the set up of the minimum wage which is commensurate with affecting the cost of living”, says the Rwanda Workers’ Trade Union Confederation in a statement.

A new minimum wage is critical in reducing high-income inequalities, the statement said.

Rwanda’s current minimum wage was set in the 1980s at 100 Rwandan francs per day. Labour unions argue that it is out-dated and not in line with the current cost of living.

Under the theme “Quality Work, A Catalyst for Sustainable Development”, the national Labour Day celebrations in Rwanda were marked in Nyagatare district in eastern Rwanda together with centenary celebrations of the International Labour Organization.

“Quality work is important across all sectors of work including agriculture, livestock farming, education, and business” -says Fanfan Rwanyindo, Rwandan minister of public service and labour, at the celebrations.

Rwanyindo called for collective efforts to enable the government meet its target of creating 1.5 million decent jobs under its seven-year program from the end of 2017 to 2024.

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Kenya seeks $1 billion World Bank loan

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In a bid to cut debt from overseas capital markets after a borrowing binge in recent years,Kenya is in advanced talks with the World Bank for “a fairly priced” loan of up to 100 billion shillings ($991.57 million), nearly half of its required external funding this fiscal year.

The World Bank, which has multiple development funding programmes with Kenya worth billions of dollars, is seen as one of the viable alternatives to commercial debt.

The Washington D.C.-based financier lent money to the Kenyan ministry of finance for the first time last year, changing past practice where it channelled cash straight to the projects, bypassing the Treasury.

The loan size will be determined by how much its funders can put together, says Julius Muia, principal secretary in the Kenyan Finance ministry.

“We are thinking something between 50-100 billion (shillings) depending on what kind of interest there will be”. The loan will be cheaper than commercial debt, in line with the government’s policy of cutting its funding costs, Muia adds.

Kenya became a middle-income country in 2014 after it rebased the economy, meaning it cannot secure funds from the World Bank at the concessional rates offered to low-income states.

The finance ministry has set a budget deficit of 6.3% of GDP for this financial year to the end of June with about 213 billion shillings expected from external sources.

The balance will be raised through Kenya’s first sovereign green bond, with the country taking advantage of next week’s UK-Africa investment summit in London to gauge investor demand for the potential issue.

“It is taking shape as we go,” Muia says.

The Treasury projects that the budget deficit will shrink to 5.7% of GDP in 2020/21. The gap, which peaked at 9.1% of GDP in 2016/17 financial year, is expected to narrow further to the desired level of 3.3% in 2023/24

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Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan to finalize Blue Nile dam agreement

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Ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan agreed on Wednesday, to reconvene in Washington later this month to finalise an agreement on the giant hydropower dam on the Blue Nile that sparked a diplomatic crisis between Cairo and Addis Ababa.

The ministers met in Washington this week and agreed to fill the $4 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in stages during the wet season, taking into account, the impact on downstream reservoirs.

Initial filling of the dam, due to begin in July, will aim for a level of 595 metres above sea level and early electricity generation, while providing appropriate mitigation measures for Egypt and Sudan during severe droughts.

Cairo fears the dam, announced in 2011 and under construction on the Blue Nile near Ethiopia’s border with Sudan, will restrict supplies of already scarce Nile waters on which its population of more than 100 million people is almost entirely dependent.

Addis Ababa denies the dam will undermine Egypt’s access to water and says the project is crucial to its economic development, as it aims to become Africa’s biggest power exporter with a projected capacity of more than 6,000 megawatts.

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Ethiopian airlines to spend $5 billion on Next-generation airport

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Ethiopian Airlines will begin construction of a new $5 billion airport later this year, according to its chief executive officer, Tewolde Gebremariam, as the rapidly-expanding carrier outgrows capacity at its current base in Addis Ababa.

Gebremariam says the construction will begin in the next six months. 

The airport, which will cover an area of 35 square km, will be built in Bishoftu, a town 39 km south east of the capital, and have the capacity to handle 100 million passengers a year.

“Because Bole Airport is not going to accommodate us; we have beautiful expansion project, the airport looks very beautiful and very large but with the growth that we are going every year in about 3 or 4 years we are going to be full,” Gebremariam says.

Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa has a passenger capacity of about 19 million passengers annually.

Gebremariam notes that the new airport’s price tag is higher than the $4 billion cost of building the yet-to-be-completed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile.

In 2018, Addis Ababa overtook Dubai as the top transit hub for long-haul passengers into Africa. In 2019 China funded the expansion of Bole Airport was, allowing it to accommodate 22 million passengers annually. Gebremariam has not said how the new airport, which will accommodate 100 million passengers ,will be funded.

The continent has been notoriously under-connected by air, and Ethiopian airlines is changing that, with flights to more than 60 African cities. The company also owns stakes in several local airlines based in other countries.

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