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Tanzania joins other African countries with plastic bag bans3 minutes read

Africa has 34 of these countries, followed by Europe with 29.

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Tanzania joins other African countries with plastic bag bans | News Central TV
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A plastic bag ban comes into force in Tanzania on Saturday, as Africa leads efforts to stem the tide of plastic blighting the farthest reaches of the globe, and depths of the ocean.

Tanzania is banning the importation, production, sale and use of plastic bags, becoming the 34th African country to implement such restrictions, according to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).

“Let me be clear on this, once it reaches June 1, the government is not planning to add any more days and we will not tolerate anyone who will be caught using them. No plastic bag will be allowed in the country,” Tanzania’s vice-president Samia Suluhu Hassan said when announcing the move in April.

Tanzania, whose wildlife is a popular tourist draw, has also issued a notice to travellers that they will have to “surrender” plastic bags in their possession before entering the country.

“The government expects that, in appreciation of the imperative to protect the environment and keep our country clean and beautiful, our visitors will accept minor inconveniences resulting from the plastic bags ban,” said the statement.

According to local media, anyone caught manufacturing or importing plastic bags and plastic wrappings could get a fine of one billion Tanzanian shillings ($430,000) or face imprisonment for up to two years. 

Possession and usage can lead to a fine of $87 or imprisonment for seven days, or both. 

Degrees of success –

Globally, 127 countries have some sort of plastic bag legislation, 91 of which include a ban or restriction on manufacturing, importation and retail distribution, according to UNEP.

Africa has 34 of these countries, followed by Europe with 29.

Patrick Mwesigye, UNEP’s regional co-ordinator for resource efficiency told AFP that the degree of success of the bans varied in Africa.

Rwanda’s plastic bag ban has been in place for over a decade and is considered one of the most successful.

“But Rwanda had an advantage that there wasn’t much manufacturing of plastics,” in the country when the ban was implemented, said Mwesigye.

Countries with manufacturing and import industries, where jobs are impacted by bans, have struggled more to enforce them. 

“In Kenya… it has been very effective. Still you have some plastic smuggled from neighbouring countries” like Uganda, he said.

Kenya’s 2017 plastic ban imposed particularly harsh laws, with fines of up to $38,000 and four-year prison sentences.

However, in reality, while there have been waves of arrests, fines, and jail terms have been far less than proscribed.

Mwesigye said some countries put bans in place before ensuring there were suitable alternatives in place, while monitoring and practical enforcement were also a challenge.

Scourge of single-use plastics –

Joyce Msuya, UNEP’s Acting Executive Director, praised Tanzania for joining the nations implementing the ban.

“It is critical that bans now be complemented by efforts to identify effective alternatives to single-use plastics…”

The world currently produces more than 300 million tonnes of plastics annually, and there are, at least, five trillion plastic pieces floating in oceans, scientists have estimated.

Most of the items polluting oceans and landscapes and causing horrendous deaths for the creatures that live there, are made to be used once and thrown away, such as bags, straws and food packaging.

In March, nations failed to agree to a timetable to phase out all single-use plastics, opting instead to “significantly reduce” their production.

Neither the United States, Canada or Australia have national plastic bag regulations -although some American states like Hawaii or California have implemented bans.

The European Union, in March, voted to ban a dozen forms of single-use plastics from 2021.

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Heavy rains threaten Uganda’s coffee crop quality

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Uganda’s coffee crop quality could see a decline in the coming months as heavy rains across the country have reduced the amount of sunshine necessary for bean drying.

Uganda is Africa’s largest exporter of coffee followed by Ethiopia and grows mostly robusta variety.

The country has been pounded by unusually heavy rains that started in August resulting in deaths, displacement and extensive damage to roads and other infrastructure.

Western Uganda, including the foothills of the Rwenzori mountains , some of the biggest coffee growing areas, has received some of the most intense rains.

Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), the state-run regulator, forecasts Uganda’s bean exports will climb 16 percent to 5.1 million 60-kg (132-pound) bags in the current crop year ending September.

The country’s coffee output has surged in recent years, the fruition of a government programme that has been distributing free seedlings to farmers to expand acreage and replace aging trees.

Authorities say their target is to help boost annual production to 20 million bags by 2025.

The beans have traditionally been Uganda’s biggest commodity export but were recently overtaken by gold which now annually earns the country over $1 billion.

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Tanzania, France sign water supply loan agreement

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Tanzania has signed a loan agreement with France to finance water supply projects that will benefit about 770,000 people in the country’s Morogoro municipality.

The French government will extend the loan worth about $76 million to Tanzania through its French Development Agency (AFD), according to Dotto James, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Planning who signed the agreement on behalf of Tanzania.

“Upon completion, the water supply in the Morogoro municipality will increase from the current 37,000 cubic meters a day to 108,000 cubic meters a day,” James told a press conference following a signing ceremony in Morogoro.

AFD Country Representative for Tanzania, Stephanie Mouen says the project will improve the well-being of the people in the municipality and it will also improve the environment.

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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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