All Uganda news


Travel Alert | The Laptop Ban and What It Means for Air Travel – Bloomberg News

Uganda Diaspora - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 07:05

Middle East airports and passengers are grappling with new U.S. and British rules barring laptops and other electronic gadgets in carry-on luggage. Both governments prohibited large electronic devices in the cabins of flights headed to their countries. In announcing the rules, officials cited security reasons but didn’t supply many specifics.

1. Is this type of ban unusual?

Yes. And some security analysts find it baffling. The stated purpose of the U.S. ban, which affects nonstop flights from 10 Middle Eastern airports, is to protect travelers from security threats on commercial flights. There certainly have been instances where electronic devices were used in terror attacks. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not cite a specific threat when it said the ban is aimed at terror groups looking to bypass airport security, other than that it has “reason to be concerned.” Representative Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, said he’d been briefed on the situation and that the steps are “both necessary and proportional.” The U.K. ban is similar but applies to fewer countries. A report in the New York Times said intelligence services suspected Islamic State of developing explosives that could be hidden in laptop batteries.

2. Which countries and airlines are affected?

The eight countries affected by the U.S. ban are Egypt, Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The biggest carriers affected are Turkish Airlines, the three leading Persian Gulf operators (Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways) as well as British Airways. No U.S. carriers fly to the affected cities. The U.K.’s ban applies to flights originating from six countries: Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia.

3. What’s the reaction?

The Persian Gulf hubs affected say they have high safety standards to protect fliers. Some aviation consultants, including Addison Schonland with AirInsight Inc., say they know of no credible threats involving technology. They say the ban won’t necessarily make flying any safer. Determined terrorists, for example, could fly out of unaffected airports beyond the 10 the U.S. is naming. Or they could place a bomb in devices in checked-in luggage. That has prompted some analysts to suggest that protectionism could be at play here.

4. How so?

One motivation for the ban, some aviation experts say, might be to prompt business travelers to take alternative routes via European hubs to curb the growth of the big three Gulf carriers: Emirates, Etihad Airways PJSC and Qatar Airways Ltd. U.S. airlines have long complained that those three are unfairly subsidized by their governments and have lobbied to restrict their expansion. President Donald Trump has said he plans to help U.S. airlines compete with foreign carriers that are aided by their governments. The move also comes just weeks after Trump tried to bar citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S.

5. Is it temporary and will it spread to more airports?

For now, the ban is indefinite. The U.S. has not ruled out that more airports could be added to the list, saying that as threats change, so too will the Transportation Security Administration’s requirements.

6. Why does this apply to laptops and not mobile phones?

That hasn’t been specified. The U.S. said it tried to balance risk with the effect on travelers and therefore has determined that smartphones will be allowed at this time. Other prohibited items include tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, electronic game units bigger than smartphones and travel printers or scanners.

7. How will this affect screening and passengers?

It will probably cause check-in delays at bigger airports, some of which must screen more than 500 passengers looking to board double-decker A380 planes. Passengers with connecting flights are advised to pack large personal electronic devices in checked bags at their originating airport. For example, Etihad Airways said its U.S.-bound passengers transiting in Abu Dhabi must place the banned devices in checked bags at the airport of origin.

8. When does it start?

The U.S. said it notified airlines of the ban on March 21 at 3 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time and gave them 96 hours to comply. That means it will take effect at 3 a.m. Saturday, March 25, but some airlines are enforcing it earlier. The U.K. measure also needs to be implemented by Saturday.

9. Why now?

We don’t know. The U.S. government fact sheet said this is based on “evaluated intelligence” showing that terrorist groups continue to target aviation, including by smuggling explosive devices in consumer products.

Source — Bloomberg Politics.

Special Report | Top Ugandan Policeman AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi Shot Dead in Kampala

Uganda Diaspora - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 15:26

The East African — Uganda Police Spokesperson has been shot dead Friday morning in Kampala by unknown gunmen. Mr Andrew Felix Kaweesi, who was also the Assistant Inspector General of Police, together with a bodyguard and driver were killed in his car as they left his home in Kulambiro, a suburb in the capital Kampala.

Uganda Police spokesperson Andrew Felix Kaweesi has been shot dead in Kampala by unknown gunmen on March 17, 2017. PHOTO | DAILY MONITOR | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“It is true and it’s so sad,” Presidential Press Secretary Linda Nabusayi told the Daily Monitor, a member of the Nation Media Group stable, when she was asked to confirm the Friday morning shooting.

Ugandan forensic experts at the scene where Police Spokesperson Felix Kaweesi and two officers were shot dead on March 17, 2017 in Kampala. PHOTO | MORGAN MBABAZI

There have been other assassinations of high profile Ugandans in the streets of Kampala in the recent years.

In November last year, Major Sulaiman Kiggundu was shot dead along with his bodyguard on a Kampala road by gunmen, who witnesses said were riding a motorcycle. Kiggundu, a puritanical Muslim leader, a prominent Sheikh and a reformed ADF rebel leader, had been reintegrated into the Ugandan army where was serving in the intelligence unit.

In March 2015, Joan Kagezi, an Assistant Director of Public Prosecution, was shot at close range when gunmen on a motorcycle rode up to her car on her way home. Ms Kagezi was prosecuting the 2010 Kampala bombing suspects.

Source — The East African and NTV News Video

Events | MIT Sloan Africa Innovate Conference | Ideas to Impact | April 7-8, 2017 at MIT Media Lab

Uganda Diaspora - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 02:20

The MIT Sloan Africa Business Club is pleased to announce the 7th Annual Africa Business Conference on April 7-8th at the Media Lab. The theme of this year’s conference is Ideas to Impact! Join us for an eventful two-days as we explore the entrepreneurship cycle from ideas generation to building sustainable businesses in Africa.

The goal of this conference is discuss the opportunities for development in Africa and specifically how entrepreneurship can lead to sustainable businesses. We will host several accomplished and inspirational keynote speakers including Her Excellency Ameenah Gurib; President of the republic of Mauritius.  

Limited quantity early bird tickets are available until March 20th. Get your ticket NOW.

For more information about the conference, including speakers, panels, and logistics, please visit our website:

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at with any questions.

SA Dispatch | Perceptions, Xenophobia, Sangomas and a word with the Out-going Ugandan Ambassador.

Uganda Diaspora - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 00:28

Dispatch from South Africa — As a Ugandan student moving to South Africa for further studies after graduating from high school in 2013, I did not know what to expect. I had received my acceptance but was discouraged by rampant crime statistics, especially in Cape Town, and I did not find at all reassuring the nickname of “Sangomas” given to Ugandans. Sangomas (diviners) are legally recognized in South Africa as “traditional health practitioners”, under the Traditional Health Practitioners Act of 2007 along with herbalists, traditional birth attendants and traditional surgeons.

South Africa has one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, with major cities such as Johannesburg, a.k.a the “New York” of Africa, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town, a.k.a the “Miami” of Africa, with beautiful women and white sandy beaches. As a result, many Ugandans looking for affordable world-class degrees, investment opportunities and a better quality of life in general frequent these destinations.

While in Uganda I discovered that there were many South African-owned companies like DSTV, MTN, Wine re-sellers and South African Airways that hailed from this land of the Madiba, which seemed to provide evidence of healthy relations between the two countries. Upon further research l found that Uganda has a bilateral investment treaty with South Africa signed in 2000 that created favorable conditions for greater investment and recognizes the encouragement and reciprocal protection under international agreement of such investments in both countries.

After very limited contact with my fellow Ugandans in South Africa, that all changed in 2016 during my second year when a mutual friend introduced me to a Ugandan student on my campus who then acquainted me with a number of Ugandans who have been living and working in the country. To my pleasant surprise, there was nothing mythical/ ancestral or traditional about them, they were simply hard-working professionals trying to make a life for themselves.

With all this in mind, my excitement about this revelation brought about the opportunity to interview the outgoing Ugandan Ambassador, H.E. Julius Peter Moto, who had just served 4 years in Pretoria.

Late one sunny Saturday morning, a 55-minute phone call from Cape Town to Pretoria commenced with some fun facts. Did you know that the two main Ugandan exports to S.A are coffee and copper wires? Yes, to my surprise the balance of trade is in favor of South Africa., Uganda to S.A. trade is estimated at around USD 3 million. H.E. Moto stated that the main reasons for this deficit were due to supply side bottlenecks that hinder productivity. He went on to stress the challenges Ugandan goods face on the international platform, such as marketable volumes; when demand increases and the Ugandan supplies cannot cope, the S.A. markets are able to switch their preferences to suppliers like Brazil who are more dependable with regards to coffee.

It was eye-opening to learn that H.E Julius Moto had won a number of accolades, one standing out above them all: “Best Performing Envoy 2014”, attracting investment in Uganda recognized by the Uganda Revenue Authority. It was interesting to discuss his contributions to trade, investment and tourism. He expressed his gratitude for the recognition and talked about how Uganda participated in the 2014 Design Indaba in Cape Town and won best stall and presentation. This helped to increase recognition and build strong relations with foreign investments, tourism and business meetings at the Ugandan Embassy in Pretoria.

“Uganda is not land-locked, it is land-linked” says the Ambassador, a powerful statement that stood out. It was interesting to learn that South Africa has a strategic interest in Uganda which is a member of East African Community (EAC) and COMESA, with an estimated 33-35 million people that investors may have access to.

As H.E. Julius spoke, it was easy to notice that he is passionate about Uganda and promoting the country’s agenda, even as we broached the topic of the headlines from South Africa that plagued the local news channels and tabloids in Kampala, “Ugandan MPs robbed at gunpoint in front of guesthouse.” H.E recognized the unfortunate event and was in contact with local authorities but said that the issue was handed over and dealt with appropriately, adding that thankfully nobody was physically harmed. Upon further research it was found that the MPs are given travel allowances which led them to opt for relatively affordable accommodations, little knowing that thwey would be staying in a less secure neighbourhood in Johannesburg.

The Ambassador smoothly transitioned to the setback of the public image of Ugandans in South Africa, when headlines both in Ugandan and Southern African media outlets, online and in print sensationalized the story of Ugandans as Sangoma scammers and con men. “Sangomas are recognized practices by S.A Law” says H.E. Julius Moto, going on to say that there are Good Sangomas and Bad Sangomas.

Another fact worth noting is that there are professionals from Uganda who are respected teachers, engineers, lecturers in universities, owners of schools and consultancy firms in S.A. Not only do they exist but as H.E. pointed out , they are recognized by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), emphasizing that they do make more money than the infamous “Sangomas” but they are reserved and prefer to protect their public image and reputation. H.E. stated that the Ugandan Embassy in South Africa recognizes all contributors including the good legitimate Sangomas but that we should aim for quality and world-wide recognition.

As we went on, I had to hold back countless questions about the plans to have Uganda included on the free visa list. H.E. Moto went on to say that the visa regime is being negotiated by Home Affairs in Uganda. He laments that, “based on our submission, which is for citizens holding visas of business persons, professionals, students, and diplomatic passport/documentation, such people may receive visa free access to S.A. once their visas expire, if the negotiations are successful.”

There was no time for conclusions but it was impressive to see the freedom with which the Ambassador gives his opinion and good to know that here is a Ugandan leader who is a man of the people, realistic and straightforward with his ideology and views. With regards to his new posting to London, Ambassador Moto acknowledged the announcement in the media but he is yet to receive the official communication deploying him and he says he will react accordingly once he receives the documentation in person.

Banz The African Instagram: @ emibanz Email:

Events | Don’t Miss The (BBNAC) — Buganda Bumu Convention In Atlanta, Georgia. May 26th – 29th 2017

Uganda Diaspora - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 03:26

 At its first biennial convention in Boston in 2015, the Agali Awamu of Atlanta was designated to host the Buganda Bumu Convention 2017 in Atlanta Georgia. Convention Theme The Theme of the Convention is: “Strengthen Luganda and invest in health and economic development.”
“Tunyweeze eby’Obuwangwa, eby’Obulamu, n’Okwekulaakulanya.” The City – Atlanta, GA  Come experience Atlanta’s rich cultural history and world-class attractions. Some of these sites include the World of Coca-Cola museum, the MLK National Historic Site, the CNN Center, Centennial Olympic Park, and the Georgia Aquarium. The Venue The Convention will be held at the Westin Perimeter North, situated on a private lake less than 30 minutes from downtown Atlanta, just minutes from Perimeter area businesses, shopping and dining. Booking and Registration

Register Early and take advantage of early pricing. Click here to book a room at a special rate. You can also register by downloading and filling out this form:

Westin Perimeter North — Situated on a private lake, The Westin Atlanta Perimeter North is a tranquil retreat from the city for business and leisure travelers. Less than 2 miles from Perimeter Mall, the hotel is within 15 miles of downtown, the Georgia Aquarium, and the Atlantic Station retail and entertainment district. Surrounded by Fortune 500 companies, we are also adjacent to the Concourse Athletic Club within the Concourse Corporate Center.

For first time attendees of the Buganda Bumu Convention — click the link below to view the pictorial of the 2015 Buganda convention held in Boston, Massachusetts.

Buganda Bumu North American Convention (BBNAC) is a non-profit 501(c) organization that unites Baganda Associations in the United States and Canada under one umbrella. The eight Associations are;

Ggwanga Mujje Boston Chapter Inc., Gwanga Mujje Midwest, Gganga Mujje DC, Kamu Kamu, Dallas, Agali Awamu, Atlanta, Baganda Community of New York New Jersey, Bulungi Bwansi Canada, Buganda Ey’enkya, California.

Improving the well-being of fellow Ugandans has been a major objective of BBNAC and its eight stake holders in collaboration with the Government of Buganda in Mengo, Uganda.

For more details about the convention visit the official event website —

BBC Special Report | Stolen Luxury Cars | Twenty Eight Stolen British vehicles Returned from Uganda

Uganda Diaspora - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 02:08

This Report was first published in the British Press last year — on Mar 29, 2016. Ugandan Diaspora News Online is reproducing the report as a warning to the general public to be on the look out for stolen luxury cars. BBC Courtesy video.

Statement on The Health of Owek. Joash Mayanja Nkangi From The Family

Uganda Diaspora - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 07:41

Buganda Kingdom Prime Minister Owek. Charles Peter Mayiga visits Owek. Joash Mayanja Nkangi at Nakasero hospital

Dear friends,

I am not writing a statement because I think you will want to say this in your own way. I only ask that you use the same high standard of integrity that I have always known you for.

For a while now, my father has been complaining about pain here and there. He has been under the care of Dr. Mbonye and Dr. Luzige at Nakasero hospital. The plan was to take him to India for further investigation.

However, on February 19th, we realized that he was in a lot of inexplicable pain so we rushed him to the hospital. Until this week, we didn’t really know what the extent of the damage was. The doctors said it was pneumonia however on Sunday, my father took a turn for the worse. An oncologist was called in and on Monday we learnt that daddy is seriously ill.

At the moment, everything humanly possible is being done to manage the situation. He is generally stable and pain free. As a family we appreciate the fact that daddy belongs to the nation, not just to us. We know that many would like to see him however, it is critical that he rests so his strength can be renewed.

We ask that everybody respects his dignity and the right to privacy. I am attaching his most recent image of him that was taken when the Prime Minister of Buganda, Owek. Charles Peter Mayiga visited him in hospital yesterday.

If there are any further questions, feel free to contact me — Josephine Mayanja-Nkangi on the numbers provided below.

Thank you for loving daddy.

Most Sincerely,

Josephine Mayanja-Nkangi
c | +256-776355500 or +256790848108
e |

Diaspora News — On behalf of the Mayanja Nkangi family the Ugandan Diaspora Community will be creating a GO FUND ME fundraising account to help with the hospital bills shortly. Please check back soon for details on how you can help Owek. Joash Mayanja Nkangi a friend to many and a politician maverick whose contribution to Uganda spanned more than 50 years. Together lets pray for his quick recovery and good health — Amen

Events | Join The 8th Annual African Development Conference, March 31st — April 1st at Harvard

Uganda Diaspora - Wed, 03/01/2017 - 06:02

His Excellency President John D. Mahama— former President of Ghana

Africa Development Conference — We are proud to announce the 8th annual African Development Conference scheduled for March 31st and April 1st, 2017 at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Governance and the Harvard University Law School.

The African Development Conference is an annual pan-African forum that convenes students, alumni, scholars, business professionals, policy practitioners, government officials and leaders from around the world. Our theme for the year is ‘Imagining New Frontiers for Collaboration’. In a time of global division we are provoking a discussion on working together, upending the notion of Africa as a continent constantly in receipt of aid, investment and development. We’re proud to announce a leading lineup of exceptional keynote speakers and panelists:

The keynote speakers to look forward to this year are:

  • His Excellency President John D. Mahama— former President of Ghana
  • Madame Folorunsho Alakija—  a successful Nigerian business magnate who was listed among Forbes’ 100 most powerful women in the world.
  • Advocate Thulisile Madonsela–- the former Public Protector of South Africa who was named Forbes African Person of the year in 2016.
  • Ms. Beatrice Mtetwa— internationally acclaimed human rights lawyer from Zimbabwe
For information about our inspiring keynote speakers and panelists, the conference schedule, highlights, ticket registration and accommodation options, please visit

Additionally, we would like to offer your network a discount code for conference tickets. Please use the code below to get $35 off: HN92HVE.  We would love for you all to join us at this historic event. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at you and we look forward to seeing you at the conference!

Yours sincerely,

The Harvard University Africa Development Conference
Executive Committee for 2017


Africa: Imagining New Frontiers of Collaboration revisits the enduring, yet dynamic and elusive, concept of “Pan-Africanism” as it takes shape in the twenty-first century and invites conversations on the increasing importance of cross-border and international cooperation and partnership for the continent.

The conference will explore creative, collaborative approaches to African challenges and opportunities. These include governance and human rights, education, infrastructure, public health, gender and income inequality, Africa’s economies, and urban development.

The conference will bring together policy makers, innovative business leaders, accomplished academics, leaders of civil society organizations and other distinguished individuals to foster a productive dialogue about Africa’s future. The conference endeavors to move beyond raising awareness about the challenges facing Africa by highlighting innovative thinking and promoting those who are working to effect real change in their country or throughout the continent.

We hope the conference attendees will leave with a sense of excitement and purpose regarding the continent and its role in the world. Importantly, in the spirit of this year’s theme, we hope that conference attendees will discover new opportunities for collaboration and be inspired to take part in Africa’s future.

CNN Money | FAA Opens Door To Non-stop Flights Between Kenya and The United States

Uganda Diaspora - Sat, 02/25/2017 - 08:13

CNN Money — There may be soon non-stop flights between the United States and Kenya. Kenya received a safety certification this week from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration that will allow its airlines to apply for non-stop flights to U.S. airports.

Non-stop flights would cut hours off the lengthy journey between the two nations, and provide a major boost to Kenya’s tourism industry. Kenya Airways said it would begin work immediately to establish new routes.
Bob Godec, the U.S. ambassador to Kenya, said the certification means it’s only a “matter of time” before the first non-stop flights take off.

“I can’t stress enough how much we want to see Americans enjoying everything Kenya has to offer,” he said in a tweet. The latest data from the UN World Tourism Organization shows that visits to Kenya surged by 16% in the year to October due to “strong marketing efforts and heightened security.”

Tourism in the country had suffered following a series terrorist attacks. The most high-profile incident came in 2013 when Al-Shabaab militants stormed the upscale Westgate mall in Nairobi and killed at least 68 people. But former President Obama’s visit to Kenya in mid-2015 is thought to have given a boost to the industry.

Kenya’s tourism minister Najib Balala said that 100,000 Americans visited Kenya last year — even without the convenience of direct flights. He said he has already discussed the possibility of direct flights with Delta Air Lines (DAL), which has an existing partnership with Kenya Airways.

American regulators are highly selective about which countries are allowed to have direct flights into the U.S. The last country to get approval for direct flights was Indonesia in 2016.

Source — CNN Money

Diaspora Death Notice | Robinah Sewaya and Family Annouce The Death of Gloria Namukuba Otengho of South Carolina

Uganda Diaspora - Fri, 02/24/2017 - 04:56
Ms. Robinah Sewaya and family would like to thank the community for the messages and condolences for the loss of their daughter Gloria Namukuba Otengho.  Ms. Gloria Namakuba Otengho was 38 years old and was trained as a teacher.  She is survived by her parents Ms. Robinah Sewaya and Mr. Otengho.  Gloria also leaves behind a lovely daughter, sisters and nieces and nephews.  The following are the funeral arrangements: The funeral service for Gloria Namukuba Otengho will take place this Saturday. February 25, 2017 at 10:00 AM at the Watkins, Garrett and Woods Funeral Home, 1011 Augusta Street, Greenville, South Carolina 29605. Funeral Home phone number is (864)242-1144 Viewing of Body and Wake: Early viewing of the body will take place tomorrow, Friday, February 24, 2017 at 6:00 PM at the funeral home as above (i.e. Watkins, Garrett and Woods Funeral Home). Okusula mu Lumbe (or Traditional Wake): Okusula mulumbe or Traditional Wake will be held starting at 9:30 PM on Friday, February 24, 2017 after the viewing.  Okusula mu Lumbe  will be held at 103 Skipping Stone Court, Simpsonville, South Carolina 29681.  Phone number for Mr. Elvis Muhaabwa is (864)275-8642. Please bring food and drinks if you can. Amabugo:  Contributions or Amabugo are needed to support the family to meet these unexpected funeral expenses. Please contribute generously to:  Ms. Robinah Sewaya, 34 Reedy River Way, Greenville, SC 29605. Her phone number is (864)346-8092.  Her email address is  Can also send amabugo via Mr. Elvis Muhaabwa at 103 Skipping Stone Court, Simpsonville, South Carolina 29681. GO FUND ME — Cemetery: Please note, the cemetery where Gloria will be buried on Saturday is Rest Heaven Memorial Gardens, 1655 Piedmont Highway. Piedmont, South Carolina 29673. After Funeral Gathering: After the cemetery, moaners will gather at Mr. Elvis Muhaabwa’s residence at 103 Skipping Stone Court, Simpsonville, South Carolina 29681 for refreshments and to further console the Robinah Sewaya and Otengho family for the loss of their lovely daughter.


EALA MP Emoluments | EALA MPs Now Earn $14,908 In Pay, Perks – The East African

Uganda Diaspora - Fri, 02/24/2017 - 04:08

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) will be the highest paid in the region and second only to Nigeria on the continent following the approval of a $1,208 increment to their basic salary beginning July.

The MPs are expected to earn $6,408 as their basic salary, up from $5,200 following an approval by the EAC Heads of State at their November Summit in Kampala that the increment be included in the 2014/2015 budgetary allocations to the EALA.

In the proposed EAC budget, EALA has been allocated $14.7million, 6.3 per cent higher than their 2013/2014 budget.  The MPs are entitled to a sitting allowance of $400 per day and medical/travel insurance.

Considering that the average sitting days for the MPs during plenary each month is 12 days, their allowances add up to $4,800. But they would rake in about $8,500, given that when not in plenary, they do committee work. The MPs will now take home $14,908 per month, including the allowances.

Apart from the basic salaries the MPs receive from the EAC Secretariat, they are given facilitation allowances by their states of origin for activities such as sensitising citizens on EAC matters as required by the EALA regulations.

“The second EALA earned the same perks but the first assembly started on a lower figure, at one point as low as $1,200,” said an EAC official.  “The second assembly raised it following a strong appeal that they were regional legislators deserving better pay.”

So far, EALA MPs have enjoyed better pay compared with other national Parliaments in the region apart from Kenya.

The Kenyan politicians were the highly paid in the region and second in Africa after the Nigerian lawmakers with a basic monthly salary of $13,740 that is subject to an annual increment of 8 per cent. Their Nigerian counterparts, the global leaders, earn a monthly salary of about $15,800, excluding the allowances. Uganda MPs earn a monthly salary of $8,715, Tanzania $7,266 while Rwanda MPs earn $1,271 per month.

In the EAC budget, each partner state makes an annual contribution towards the functioning of the secretariat, Court of Justice, the Inter-University Council and EALA.  EALA is the legislative organ of the East African.

This article was first published in the East Africa Newspaper 3 years ago and is meant to give Ugandans an idea of the EALA MP emoluments ahead of the vote in Parliament this week.

VOA Straight Talk Africa | “Trump/Africa Relations” — Host Dr. Shaka Ssali

Uganda Diaspora - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 17:50

“Trump/Africa Relations”

U.S. President Donald Trump made his first phone calls to African heads of state, speaking with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and South African President Jacob Zuma.  Nigeria and South Africa said the calls were made at the request of the president, who until now has said little about Africa or African issues since assuming office last month.

Join us for our live, one-hour television and radio call-in simulcast of “Straight Talk Africa” when host Shaka Ssali and his guests have an in-depth discussion on the expectations of President Donald Trump’s engagement with Africa.

Question of the Week:

What are your expectations from U.S. President Donald Trump towards Africa?

Social Media:

Ayen Bior, VOA Social Media Reporter

Twitter:  @VOA Shaka

Hashtag:  #VOATrumpAfrica

Washington Studio Guests:

Peter Pham

Vice President for Research and Regional Initiatives & Director of the Africa Center

Emira Woods

Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies

Angelle Kwemo

Chair, Believe in Africa

Broadcast Schedule

Straight Talk Africa is broadcast live every Wednesday from 1830-1930 UTC/GMT simultaneously on radio, television and the Internet. US Eastern Time is 1:30pm


Roblyn Hymes
Voice of America
English TV to Africa, TV Manager
330 Independence Ave., SW, Suite 1613-2
Washington, DC  20237


Politico | How an American Bureaucrat Became President of Somalia

Uganda Diaspora - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 04:31

Politico — On the morning of February 8, a civil servant from Buffalo, New York—a Somali by birth but an American by choice—walked into a heavily guarded airplane hangar in the battle-scarred capital of his native country where an important vote was about to take place. When he emerged that night, he was president. His surprise victory, which was celebrated with gunfire and camel slaughter in Mogadishu and high-fives at the Buffalo office of the New York Department of Transportation, where he was still technically employed as an equal opportunity compliance officer, was all the more remarkable because it came at the very moment a federal court in the U.S. was deciding the fate of a travel ban that targeted refugees exactly like him.

The story of how Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed came to be the leader of a country that is synonymous with anarchy and terrorism is both a classic American immigrant’s tale and one about the age-old conflict between basic democratic principles and the forces of political corruption. It begins in 1988, when Mohamed, then a first secretary for the Somali embassy in Washington, D.C., decided it was too dangerous to return home and applied for asylum. Back then, the U.S. was inclined to say yes to such requests.

Over the next 25 years, he earned degrees in history and political science, served on local campaigns and acted as a spokesman for other refugees as an elected official, slowly absorbing the lessons of civil society and the basics of American midmanagement that he knew he wanted one day to bring back to Somalia. He had become, in some ways, an export-ready product. Not soybeans or computer chips but democratic values.

“He’s always had an interest to go back and try to bring peace,” said Joel Giambra, a former county executive in Erie County, New York for whom Mohamed campaigned, then worked for, starting in 1999. “That was always his ambition.”

There are those who say that Mohamed, 54, who ran for president on an anti-corruption platform, bought his way to victory. Those same people say it’s the ironic but inevitable cost of doing business in a still desperately unstable country. But tainted results or not, some say Mohamed, with his decades of experience in American governance, could be the very partner the United States needs to fight international terrorism originating in the Horn of Africa. “What I think Mohamed brings is, hopefully, the technocratic understanding of how U.S. democracy works,” said Muhammad Fraser-Rahim, a programs officer at the U.S. Institute for Peace. “I think that’s a skill set that the two former presidents did not necessarily have.”

In fact, the refugee-turned-president might just be one of the most powerful arguments against a travel ban like President Donald Trump’s, which would have barred Mohamed’s entry to the U.S.—it ultimately diminishes American influence abroad.
Mohamed had never been eager to leave Somalia. He was born into a well-connected clan, and his father, who spent much of his life under Italian colonial rule, was a government employee. He nicknamed his son “Farmaajo,” which is a local version of the Italian word for cheese, one of the boy’s favorite foods. After graduating from secondary school, Mohamed had access to a job with the foreign ministry, and in 1985 he was sent to Washington, D.C., to work in Somalia’s embassy. But in 1988, Mohamed criticized Somalia’s authoritarian government, and, fearing he could not return home safely, he requested political asylum in the United States.

Mohamed brought his wife to Buffalo, where a community of Somali refugees had begun to settle a few years earlier. They moved into public housing while he pursued a bachelor’s degree in history at New York State University in Buffalo. A year after his graduation, Mohamed’s fellow tenants elected him as resident commissioner, which automatically placed him on Buffalo’s Municipal Housing Authority. He earned a reputation as a community organizer who Buffalo immigrant and Muslim voters looked toward for leadership. In 1999, Mohamed rallied minority voters to support Giambra, a Democrat-turned-Republican running for county executive, and Mohamed registered as a Republican. When Giambra won, Mohamed took a job in his office as the county’s minority-business coordinator. He parlayed that, in 2002, into a similar job with New York’s Department of Transportation. For eight years, Mohamed enforced nondiscrimination and affirmative-action requirements among state-employed contractors—policies that are totally alien to Somalia, where government jobs depend on clan membership and public lands are practically given away to friends and allies of those in power.

The people Mohamed worked with during those years describe him as a kind and humble family man. But his ambition was evident, too, and it wasn’t just to improve the percentage of minority hires by DOT contractors. He earned a master’s degree in political science at New York State University in Buffalo. His thesis was titled: “U.S. Strategic Interest in Somalia.”

“We all got the sense that he just had a passion, and a heart for his country,” said Janine Shepherd, who worked in the cubicle next to Mohamed at the New York Department of Transportation. “He was always really bothered by the corruption there.”

“We had extensive conversations about developing countries that were authoritarian and what the steps were to achieve democracy,” said professor Donald Grinde, his thesis adviser. They discussed the different models of democratic governance, warlordism and religious extremism. “He understands that democracy is an imperfect exercise,” Grinde said, “both in Somalia and the United States. But I think he would think it’s far better than the alternative.”

In his thesis, Mohamed identified “Islamic extremists” as a major obstacle toward stability in Somalia. Al-Shabab and other terrorist organizations, he argued, were able to flourish because of the United States’ ill-advised policy in the region. “The Somali people have been victim of colonialism, dictatorship, and warlord thugs,” Mohamed wrote. “Now, they are at the crossroad of two extremist ideologies: George W. Bush’s Christian ideology on one hand, and Islamic radicalism on the other, which want to wage a holy war on each other not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in Somalia as well. Sadly, the people who ultimately suffer most form the majority: they do not subscribe to these radical ideologies.”

In 2010, not even a year after receiving his master’s, Mohamed got a chance to talk about these issues with someone who actually could do something about them. The then-president of Somalia, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, came to New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly, and Mohamed, via friends of friends, arranged a meeting. According to Mohamed, he wanted to give the president his advice—one manager to another—on what Somalia could due to cut down on corruption. The meeting went well; so well, in fact, that a few days later, Mohamed received a phone call from the president’s staff. He was on the president’s short list for prime minister.

After discussing it with his wife, Mohamed asked his supervisor for three weeks of vacation, explaining he would go to Mogadishu for an interview, and there was a chance he wouldn’t come back. A month later, in Somalia, Mohamed was sworn in to his new position.
Mohamed’s sudden ascension to prime minister wasn’t as strange as it seems.

Diaspora politicians make up a third of Somalia’s federal parliament. It’s one of the quirks of a country that doesn’t have the kind of governmental farm teams that more developed democracies do. A Somali-American who spent most of his life in California returned in 2011 to become the country’s defense minister, and this year, of Somalia’s 24 presidential candidates, nine held American passports. The most amazing homecoming story of all is probably from 1996, when tribal elders elected to the presidency Hussein Mohammed Farah, a 33-year-old corporal in the Marine Reserves who a year earlier was making $9 an hour as a clerk in the suburbs of Los Angeles. (In that instance, it probably helped that the marine’s father was Mohammed Farah Aidid, a self-declared president who died in a firefight a year earlier; Aidid was also the general who fought against the Marine Corps in the battle immortalized in the book and movie Black Hawk Down.)

In fact, among the seven countries included in Trump’s attempted ban, most boast influential officials who spent time in the United States, usually to attend school. Former prime ministers in Yemen and Libya attended American universities. One of them, Shukri Ghanem, was a reformer who worked, with some success, to push Muammar Qadhafi toward reconciliation with the west. Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister who oversaw negotiations on the Iran nuclear deal, went to a private high school in San Francisco and received a B.A. and M.A. from San Francisco State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Denver. An influential rebel leader from Sudan who was a key player in the country’s 2005 peace agreement, John Garang, attended Grinnell College in an Iowa town of 9,000 surrounded by cornfields.

Foreign leaders who’ve spent time in the United States can frequently, if not every time, give the United States government a leg up when conducting diplomacy. Giambra argues that that will definitely be the case with Mohamed: “I believe he would love the opportunity to collaborate with the United States,” he said. “He always said to me that the most effective way to eradicate terrorism in the United States is to stop it in Somalia.”

When Mohamed began his tenure as prime minister in September 2010, he did in fact work to push back al-Shabab, Somalia’s largest terrorist group, and he helped the army to establish the rule of law in 60 percent of Mogadishu. But what really won Mohamed the love of the people was his reputed distaste for corruption. He reduced the size of a bloated Cabinet from 39 to 18 and nominated others from the diaspora like himself. He required all of them to declare their assets and sign a code of ethics, a policy he possibly picked up from his time working for the New York state government, where he was required to sign a “Public Officers Law.” Mohamed also drew on his experience as a bureaucrat in Buffalo to establish a system in which commanding officers could not keep for themselves the stipends that were meant for rank-and-file soldiers.

Not everyone is convinced that Mohamed deserves the popular support he enjoys. “The improvements in Somalia have been in spite of the government, not because of the government,” said J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council. Pham believes that, for the most part, Mohamed benefited from low expectations and that credit for keeping the country stable should go to the African Union forces, which did much of the work to help secure Mogadishu and fight back al-Shabab. “Anybody would have been an improvement over the president that appointed him,” said Pham, “who was widely acknowledged to have stolen roughly 96 percent of bilateral aid.” That’s $72.7 million that simply went missing.

But regardless of one’s opinion on Mohamed’s efficacy, his status as a popular hero in Somalia was cemented in June 2011, when Mohamed fell victim to a backroom deal engineered by President Sharif Ahmed, the man who appointed Mohamed, and Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, the speaker of parliament who was aspiring to the presidency himself and saw Mohamed as a roadblock to his ambitions. The two men agreed to postpone elections until August 2012, giving Ahmed another year of power. As part of the deal, he would have to dismiss his popular prime minister.

The blowback was immediate. Rioters took to the streets in support of Mohamed. They burned tires and set bonfires, blocking peacekeepers from getting to their destinations. Soldiers, who Mohamed had won the loyalty of by guaranteeing their pay, abandoned their posts and joined the protests, waving pictures of Mohamed above their heads.

The deed was done, however, and Mohamed no longer had a reason to stay in Somalia. He returned to his wife and kids in Buffalo, and resumed his position as a regional compliance specialist for the New York Department of Transportation, with a salary of $83,954 a year and the promise of a state pension after only seven more years of service.
“He wasn’t the same,” said Galloway, describing an encounter with Mohamed after he had returned to Buffalo. “You could tell within his demeanor that he wasn’t back in Buffalo without intention to return to Somalia.”

Giambra agreed: “After he came back, he was disappointed, but he was committed and determined to go back and give it another chance.”

“We were all a little surprised,” said Shepherd, describing the moment Mohamed returned to his cubicle in Buffalo. “We could all sense from him that there was something more out there for him.”

Mohamed was glad to be reunited with his family, and there were some things he definitely didn’t miss about being prime minister. Five of his bodyguards had been killed, and he never forgot the sound of bullets hitting the reinforced windows of his house. But his colleagues were right that he hadn’t given up on his political dreams in Somalia. He decided to run for president in 2012. Mohamed, along with his former Cabinet members, established a new political party called Tayo—meaning “quality” in Somali. Mohamed lost in the first round of voting, winning barely 5 percent of the vote. As a parting shot—payback might be a better term—he threw his support behind the candidate running against the incumbent president, the man who had dismissed him as prime minister. Mohamed’s man won.

Mohamed wasn’t done. Almost immediately, he began to lay the groundwork for another run. He made trips to Somali communities around the world, places such as Minneapolis, Columbus and even Oslo, Norway. These are where many of the kingmakers who can decide Somali elections live. Diaspora communities are also a great source for campaign contributions. In 2015, he stepped up his campaigning, frequently taking leave from work. “He traveled extensively in preparation for this,” said Giambra. “He was very methodical and deliberate.”

Mohamed was using a playbook familiar to any American campaign, but news agencies were reporting that the election was shaping up to be a classically Somalian affair, possibly one of the most corrupt in the country’s checkered history. Security was so bad that a national election couldn’t be held. Just two weeks before voting, a car bomb attack on a Mogadishu hotel killed 28. That meant that once again it would be up to the 328 members of parliament, a notoriously bribe-susceptible group of politicians. Market prices for a vote were high, observers said. The incumbent president, who by all reports had only exacerbated corruption in Somalia during his tenure, was widely reported to have offered $50,000 to anyone who voted for him in the secret ballot.

On Election Day, parliamentarians met in a heavily guarded airport hangar in Mogadishu. African Union peacekeepers stood watch outside, wary of attacks by al-Shabab. The parliamentarians were forbidden from taking large amounts of cash or cellphones into the hangar, lest the voting floor devolve into a televised auction for votes as it had in the past. In the first round of voting, 17 of 21 candidates were eliminated. Then an additional candidate withdrew, leaving three contenders: Mohamed, incumbent president Mohamud, and former president Ahmed—the same man who had appointed and dismissed Mohamed seven years earlier.

To the shock of international news outlets, few of whom considered Mohamed a major contender, the bureaucrat from Buffalo won more than 50 percent of votes in the second round. Former President Ahmed was eliminated, and while the rules required that the eventual victor win two-thirds of votes, President Mohamud, who trailed Mohamed significantly in the second round, conceded defeat. While thousands rushed into the streets of Mogadishu and soldiers celebrated by firing their automatic weapons into the air, Mohamed declared in a televised victory speech that, “This is the beginning of unity for the Somali nation, the beginning of the fight against al-Shabab and corruption.”

News reports largely confirmed that significant amounts of money had changed hands, despite the attempts to limit the vote-buying. According to Abdi Ismail Samatar, a University of Minnesota professor who was part of a commission appointed by parliament to observe the election process and stop the exchange of cash on the voting floor, there is little reason to believe any of the major candidates—Mohamed included—had abstained. “I am quite confident that all of the four or five major candidates were deeply implicated in the buying of votes,” Samatar told POLITICO. “That includes the incoming President Mohamed.”

Mohamed and his office could not be reached for comment.

But the reports of a corrupt election have not dimmed public enthusiasm for the civil servant who ran on the platform to clean up the Mogadishu swamp. Celebrations in the streets revealed a populace that was ecstatic to have a president who won their affection years ago—not a blatantly corrupt consensus choice of the clan elders.

“Farmaajo has come back to the country and the people are united,” a young Somali man told Agence France-Presse. “Welcome, Farmaajo, we are under the sun because of you.”

U.S. officials might be feeling equally sunny about his prospects. Here is a man well-versed in the ways of American politics, who is deeply popular in his country, vocally supportive of beating back the forces of Islamic terrorism and committed to bringing stability to the failing institutions that often enable groups like al-Shabab to thrive.

“You have someone who is a success story who can then talk about, ‘Hey, America is not what I thought it was. They opened their arms and now I understand how American democracy works,'” said Muhammad Fraser-Rahim. “I think that is only a win for the U.S.”

“I think there was a degree of pleasant surprise when he was elected president,” said Richard Downie, deputy director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. “Not just because of his connections to the U.S., but because of his previous stint as prime minister.”

The U.S. ambassador to Somalia, Stephen Schwartz, gifted President Mohamed a hat that says “Make Somalia Great Again” on Friday, February 17.

Of course, Mohamed’s election alone will not solve Somalia’s problems. According to John Mukum Mbaku of the Brookings Institution, Mohamed has no hope of clamping down on corruption if he cannot strengthen the weak institutions that enable it. And as president in a constitutional system that depends on foreign financial support, he cannot enact reform through force of will alone. “Given the way that Somalia is, effective reform in the country will require the assistance of much more than just Mohamed himself,” said Mbaku. Others, like Pham, question whether Mohamed will be capable of reform at all. “We should entertain no delusions about the sort of partner we have in Farmaajo—and his limitations. Some of the over-the-top optimism of the last few days is simply not justified.”

Downie put it bluntly: “You could put Nelson Mandela in as president of Somalia and probably the same mess would persist.”

Still, the enthusiasm, justified or not, has spread. Even Abdi Ismail Samatar, the election observer who doubts Mohamed won a clean victory, finds reason for hope. “There is an incredible public hunger for a clean government,” said Samatar, “and therefore, regardless of what the process was like, and any money he used, there is a fantastic opportunity for him to march the country in a different direction.”

On his first day in office, Mohamed did take a small step forward. Avoiding any appearance of double-dipping, he resigned from the New York Department of Transportation.

Source — Politico

NAACP Image Awards | Madina Nalwanga Among The Nominees For Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture

Uganda Diaspora - Sun, 02/19/2017 - 09:19

(CNN) — Here’s a look at the Winners of The 48th NAACP Image Awards were held on February 11, 2017 –

History: The Image Awards were established in 1967 “to honor outstanding black actors, actresses, writers, producers, directors, and recognize those working in Hollywood who supported those artists.”

The Image Awards is now “a multi-cultural awards show from an African-American point of view.”

There are 54 competitive awards in the fields of film, television, literature and music. There are also several honorary awards.

Voting rights for the Image Awards are restricted to members of the NAACP only.

1991 – First prime-time broadcast.

2017 winners (Selected):

Entertainer of the year: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series: Anthony Anderson in “black-ish”

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series: Tracee Ellis Ross in “black-ish”

Outstanding TV Drama Series: “Queen Sugar”

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series: Sterling K. Brown in “This Is Us”

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series: Taraji P. Henson in “Empire”

Outstanding Motion Picture: “Hidden Figures”

Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture: Denzel Washington in “Fences”

Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture: Taraji P. Henson in “Hidden Figures”

Outstanding Album: “Lemonade” – Beyoncé


See complete NAACP nominees per major category:

Entertainer of the Year
  • Chance the Rapper
  • Regina King
  • Dwayne Johnson
  • Beyoncé
  • Viola Davis
Outstanding Motion Picture
  • Hidden Figures
  • Moonlight
  • Fences
  • Loving
  • The Birth of a Nation
Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
  • Don Cheadle, Miles Ahead
  • Will Smith, Collateral Beauty
  • Stephan James, Race
  • Denzel Washington, Fences
  • Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation
Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture
  • Madina Nalwanga, Queen of Katwe
  • Tika Sumpter, Southside with You
  • Ruth Negga, Loving
  • Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures
  • Angela Bassett, London Has Fallen
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
  • Alano Miller, Loving
  • David Oyelowo, Queen of Katwe
  • Trevante Rhodes, Moonlight
  • Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
  • Chadwick Boseman, Captain America: Civil War
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
  • Viola Davis, Fences
  • Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
  • Mo’Nique, Almost Christmas
  • Aja Naomi King, The Birth of a Nation
  • Lupita Nyong’o, Queen of Katwe
Outstanding Independent Motion Picture
  • Lion
  • Miles Ahead
  • The Birth of a Nation
  • Moonlight
  • Loving
Outstanding Comedy Series
  • Insecure
  • Black-ish
  • Survivor’s Remorse
  • The Carmichael Show
  • Atlanta
Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series
  • Dwayne Johnson, Ballers
  • Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
  • Donald Glover, Atlanta
  • Don Cheadle, House of Lies
  • Kevin Hart, Real Husbands of Hollywood
Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series
  • Issa Rae, Insecure
  • Keesha Sharp, Lethal Weapon
  • Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black
  • Niecy Nash, Soul Man
  • Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
  • Laurence Fishburne, Black-ish
  • David Alan Grier, The Carmichael Show
  • Deon Cole, Black-ish
  • Miles Brown, Black-ish
  • Tituss Burgess, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
  • Laverne Cox, Orange Is the New Black
  • Erica Ash, Survivor’s Remorse
  • Yvonne Orji, Insecure
  • Marsai Martin, Black-ish
  • Tichina Arnold, Survivor’s Remorse
Outstanding Drama Series
  • Power
  • Empire
  • Underground
  • This Is Us
  • Queen Sugar
Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series
  • Terrence Howard, Empire
  • Mike Colter, Marvel’s Luke Cage
  • Kofi Siriboe, Queen Sugar
  • Omari Hardwick, Power
  • Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series
  • Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Underground
  • Taraji P. Henson, Empire
  • Rutina Wesley, Queen Sugar
  • Kerry Washington, Scandal
  • Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
  • Trai Byers, Empire
  • Jussie Smollett, Empire
  • Joe Morton, Scandal
  • Jesse Williams, Grey’s Anatomy
  • Alfred Enoch, How to Get Away With Murder
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
  • Cicely Tyson, How to Get Away With Murder
  • Lynn Whitfield, Greenleaf
  • Amirah Vann, Underground
  • CCH Pounder, NCIS: New Orleans
  • Naturi Naughton, Power

Ugandan Diaspora News Online salutes Madina Nalwanga ‘Queen of Katwe’ Character for getting nominated in the Outstanding Actress in a Major Motion Movie Category along Seasoned Actresses!!

BBC Travel Special | Uganda Tops World’s Friendliest City According Expat Insider Survey

Uganda Diaspora - Sun, 02/19/2017 - 08:07

By Lindsey Galloway — For many expats, finding new friends can ease the often overwhelming task of adjusting to a new life abroad. But with huge variances in local culture and language capabilities, some places can definitely feel more welcoming than others.

To determine where expats might find the best success of fitting in fast, global community network InterNations recently conducted their annual Expat Insider survey of more than 14,000 expats from 191 countries, asking residents to rate a number of aspects about life abroad, including how easy it was to settle in, a country’s friendliness and ease of making friends.

We talked to residents in the countries ranked high for friendliness to find out what makes these places so hospitable to newcomers.

Uganda received the highest marks for friendliness (Credit: Tom Cockrem/Getty Images)

This East African country received the highest marks for friendliness. According to the InterNations report, 57% of expats in Uganda gave ‘general friendliness’ the best possible rating (the global average was 26%). Not only that, not a single respondent ranked this factor negatively.

Charlotte Beauvoisin, a British expat who writes about living in the capital Kampala at Diary of a Muzungu, said that welcoming all nationalities is an intrinsic part of the culture, and residents are quick to offer smiles to newcomers.

InterNations Ambassador Nadya Mileva, originally from Bulgaria and now living in Kampala, agrees, saying that the people are ‘amazingly friendly’.

“The country has a lot to offer, from breathtaking landscapes to high-end restaurants and bars to year-round summer,” she added.

Many expats live in Kampala, where English is widely spoken (Credit: Tom Cockrem/Getty Images)

Uganda isn’t without its problems, however, including the occasional power outage, pollution from old cars and infrastructure growing pains that can make traffic come to a complete standstill. But “the overwhelming majority of visitors to Uganda love the place. Many of us extend our contracts; many of us decide to settle here,” Beauvoisin said.

The majority of expats live in Kampala, where English is common and international restaurants abound.

“It has a high-energy core with a relaxed periphery well suited for families and others who prefer to stay at home,” Mileva said. While the southern half of the city is culturally diverse and less expensive, with easy access to Lake Victoria and the airport, the northern half is home to more affluent neighbourhoods. But expats live everywhere.

“There are not neighbourhoods predominated by mazungus [foreigners] and others only for Ugandans,” Mileva explained.

The country is also very affordable for food and labour – meaning that expats are usually able to maintain a high standard of living.

Expats are drawn to Costa Rica’s beaches where they can surf and swim (Credit: Andria Patino/Getty Images)

Costa Rica
The Central American country ranks high across all factors when it comes to how easily expats fit in. Almost nine out of 10 expats (89%) are pleased with the general friendliness of the population, and eight out of 10 (79%) feel at home, according to the survey.

Foreign- or native-born, the community is connected by the ‘pura vida’ sensibility, said Diana Stobo, owner of The Retreat Costa Rica. “The idea of living a ‘pure life’ is the promise here, and those who are tired of the hustle and bustle want to live that way.”

She believes the socialist government plays a part in maintaining this equality and openness. “People all live within the same means; it is difficult to get ahead financially, and therefore most find peace and harmony in what they have. No sweat, no worries, no problems, just ‘pura vida’.”

While English is widely spoken, learning Spanish will get you far with the locals, said David Black, an InterNations Ambassador who lives in Santa Ana, 15km west of the capital San Jose, and is originally from the UK.

Costa Ricans are connected to the ‘pura vida’, or ‘pure life’ (Credit: Jean-Pierre Lescourret/Getty Images)

“If you make an effort to understand and embrace the Costa Rican culture, you are very much welcomed with open arms and considered a friend.”

While expat retirees flock to beach locations like Guancaste in the northwest and Jacro and Manuel Antonio, both in the central west, many professional expats live in the Central Valley near San Jose.

“Santa Ana and Escazu [8km west of San Jose] are very popular with North Americans and Europeans in particular,” Jones said.

The cost of living in Costa Rica has increased in the past 10 years, with Jones noting that a cup of coffee and a cake can cost just as much as in central London in some places. “However, like most other places, if you know where to look and wish to survive on a modest budget, there are still plenty of local places where you can eat and shop at a reasonable cost,” he said.

According to expats, Colombia ‘feels like home fast’ (Credit: Jane Sweeney/Getty Images)

This South American hotspot feels like home fast, according to many expats.

“The Colombian people are eager to show their country in a positive light and are very receptive and hospitable towards newcomers,” said Anne Marie Zwerg-Villegas, an InterNations Medellín Ambassador living in Chia (a suburb north of Bogotá) and originally from the US.

“Colombia is one of the countries in the world with the lowest percentage of foreign-born residents, so we are a novelty. Locals tend to think of us as tourists and treat us as tourists.”

William Duran, who lives in Medellín, Colombia’s second largest city, where he hosts a digital nomad bootcamp, says this gives expats a unique opportunity to feel immediately welcomed, without the shine wearing off. “Out of the 40-plus countries I have been to, there is no other place where I’ve seen foreigners feel such a great balance of familiarity and novelty,” he said. “Colombians are very helpful and cheerful. The country is warm in every sense of the word.”

Colombians are ‘very receptive and hospitable towards newcomers’ (Credit: John Coletti/Getty Images)

Most expats live in Bogotá, the metropolitan capital with nearly 8 million residents. Since traffic in the city is ‘horrendous’, according to Zwerg-Villegas, it pays to live close to your office. Most professional expats live in the northeast quadrant of the city, in neighbourhoods such as Chicó, Rosales, Usaquén and Cedritos.

“These neighbourhoods have modern commercial centres with international brands, restaurants with a variety of ethnic cuisine, and social and athletic clubs. Exclusive nightlife spots like Parque 93, Zona T and Zona G are also in these neighbourhoods,” Zwerg-Villegas said.

Younger and more adventurous expats might consider parts of the city further south like Teusaquillo or Soledad, where craft beer bars and inexpensive nightclubs are everywhere.

Since Colombia is an agricultural economy, fresh fruit and vegetables are available year round at affordable prices, and services are cheap too.

“Most expats will easily afford a maid, a driver and a nanny,” Zwerg-Villegas said. That said, expat incomes usually qualify as upper-middle class, which means a surcharge on utilities is levied to support the lower income earners.

Oman’s welcoming culture reflects its warm climate (Credit: Gavin Hellier/Getty Images)

As one of the sunniest countries in the world, Oman also has friendly residents who reflect the warm climate. A welcoming culture rooted in faith also leads to an openness with newcomers.

“Traditionally speaking, Omanis are very hospitable to strangers. With their strong Islamic background and belief, they love to help their neighbours or those in need, and will easily bring a stranger or new person into their home for coffee or dates or fruit,” said Nicole Brewer, who lives in Nizwa (160 km south of the capital of Muscat) and blogs about her experience at I Love to Globetrot.

The country is known for outdoor living and adventures, with great weather, camping and adventure spots.

Thanks to its great weather, Oman is known for outdoor living (Credit: Franz Aberham/Getty Images)

“Don’t consider moving to Oman for the city life,” warned Rebecca Mayston, an InterNations Ambassador originally from New Zealand who lives in Muscat. “Move here with an open mind for outdoor experiences. For me, the life is endless adventures, amazing weather and landscapes, diverse nationalities and friendships.”

Muscat has more bars and restaurants than any other city in Oman, and Mayston says many of her expat friends enjoy clubbing here on the weekends. Nizwa has more of a small-town feel, even though it used to be the capital of the country, but has plenty of history, including the Nizwa Fort and its famous souq, a shopping district filled with gems and pottery.

While the cost of living in Oman is growing more expensive, it was recently ranked by Mercer as one of the more affordable places to live in the Middle East.

“For me, I can live a better life here than I do back home, and still get ahead with financial benefits,” Mayston said.

Expats are drawn to the Philippines’ tropical lifestyle (Credit: Danita Delimonte/Getty Images)

The Philippines
This island nation has become an outsourcing capital with many multinational companies opening offices here and attracting expats from across the world. Currently, residents of 159 countries do not need even need a visa to enter the Philippines.

English is a primary language and residents are eager to welcome newcomers.

“Locals are very outgoing and helpful, which makes foreigners feels accommodated,” said Eleanor Webley, a Manila native and InterNations Ambassador.

There’s also a strong culture of going out – to festivals and parties, or even just getting outdoors – which means newcomers can easily find opportunities to meet new friends.

“The people here are very friendly and are always smiling,” said Wendell Yuson, an InterNations Ambassador who was born and raised in Manila, adding that the slogan of the Philippine Department of Tourism also reflects this vibe: ‘It’s more fun in the Philippines!’”

The Philippines’ going-out culture gives expats plenty of opportunities to make friends (Credit: Tom Cockrem/Getty Images)

While most expats work in Manila, many choose to make their home near the country’s beautiful beaches. Tagatay, 74km south of Manila, is a popular island for expats who want to be out of the fray, but still within reach via public transportation (buses connect the cities).

“The Philippines has 7,100 islands, and expats love the tropical lifestyle here,” Yuson said. Those who prefer city living usually stay in the Central Business Districts (including Makati, the primary and largest CBD; the newest district Bonifacio Global City; and centrally located Ortigas Center in Manila) or live in Cebu, the second city of the country located in the central islands.

The cost of living here is generally not high, and budget-minded expats can easily make ends meet, with costs in Manila about 60% less expensive than London in housing, transportation and food, according to Still, living in high-end districts or using serviced apartments, where residents enjoy hotel-level amenities and services, can push costs up substantially.

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ABC News | Mugabe’s wife says he could run in election ‘as a corpse’

Uganda Diaspora - Sat, 02/18/2017 - 06:28

Zimbabwe’s 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe should run “as a corpse” in next year’s election if he dies before the vote, his wife said Friday.

Grace Mugabe accused some ruling ZANU-PF party officials of plotting to take over from her husband and said that even if he dies, supporters should put his name on the ballot to show their love for him.

“If God decides to take him, then we would rather field him as a corpse,” she told thousands of cheering supporters at a rally in Buhera in eastern Zimbabwe. She spoke in the local Shona language.

The president, who will turn 93 on Tuesday, has slowed down on public engagements while his 51-year-old wife has become increasingly visible in politics.

Mugabe has been in power since white minority rule ended in Zimbabwe in 1980 after years of war. A big celebration for him is planned on Feb. 25, a few days after his birthday.

Grace Mugabe warned associates of Mugabe from the era of guerrilla war against white rule that they can’t take power because they also are old.

“Anyone who was with Mugabe in 1980 has no right to tell him he is old. If you want Mugabe to go, then you leave together. You also have to leave. Then we take over because we were not there in 1980,” she said, pointing to herself.

Grace Mugabe has professed fierce loyalty to her husband, previously saying she would get him a wheelchair if necessary and push it for him so that he can continue to rule.

Mugabe has declared he wants to live until 100 and rule for life, and has complained about ruling party factions that are jostling for influence as a succession battle looms.

Source — ABC News

Opinion | The Confusion, Ingratitude As Well As The Danger Of Western Liberals And The Trump Therapy – By President Yoweri K. Museveni

Uganda Diaspora - Sat, 02/18/2017 - 05:29

I have been either closely following or actively involved in World and African political events for the last 56 years. In those 56 years, I have noticed many happenings, behaviours, etc. One of the groups that I have observed with interest are the Western “Liberals”, “Leftists”, etc. In particular, I have noticed the confusion, ingratitude and, therefore, danger of these groups. Liberals are supposed to be people who are not conservative and hardliners in economic, political and social issues. Leftists are supposed to be progressive as far as the same issues are concerned. In order to keep this piece brief, I will not go into the history and details of Western Liberalism and Leftism. That should be for another day.

Suffice it to say that the freedom fighters from Africa, who have been fighting colonialism, neo-colonialism, slave trade and marginalization for the last 500 years, would have counted the Westerns Liberals and Leftists among our automatic allies because these should be people that should be fighting for freedom and justice for all peoples, including the formerly Colonized Peoples.

Instead, we notice confusion, ingratitude and, therefore, danger from these liberals and leftists. Let us start with the confusion. During the US campaign, I noticed President Trump using the words: “convergence rather than divergence”, while handling international affairs. That is exactly what the Western Liberals and Leftists should have been looking for. Instead, we would spend endless hours arguing with the Western Liberals on matters on which we cannot have convergence bearing in mind that our societies were still pre-capitalist and traditional while theirs have been industrial for centuries now. These are issues to do with family, forms of democracy, homo-sexuals, central planning versus economic liberalization, etc., etc.

One had to control irritation to politely get through these meetings. Yet matters of convergence were there and uncontested: fighting extremism and terrorism (narrow-mindedness and indiscriminate use of violence); modern education in natural sciences and social sciences; the emancipation of women; trade; democracy; etc. This is what, in brief, I regard as the confusion of the Western Liberals and Leftists. I do not want to say much on this because I want to get to the next two points and space is limited. Nevertheless, by the Western Liberals trying to impose all their views and values on everybody in the World, they generate not convergence but divergence and even conflict.

Owing to the confusion of these actors, it leads them to two other mistakes: ingratitude and, therefore, a danger to peace in the World. As colonized Peoples, the Africans were greatly assisted by two earth-shaking events in the last century: the October Communist Revolution of 1917 in the Soviet Union (Russia) and the Victory of the Communists in China in 1949. You should remember that by 1900, the whole of Africa had been colonized except for Ethiopia which Musolini would soon add on the list (in 1935). Colonized by whom? By the Western Countries (Britain, France, Portugal, Germany and Spain). The Communists, on the other hand, in both Russia and China, were totally opposed to Western Imperialism and were for de-colonization. They opposed Imperialism by word and action (support for the Liberation Movements)

The greed and flawed logic of the Western Imperialists soon led to two World Wars (the 1st and the second ─ 1914–18 and 1939 – 45). How? In 1453, the Ottoman Turks captured Constantinople (Istanbul) and, therefore, blocked the overland trade route opened by Marco-Polo in the years 1272 – 1275. The trade was mainly in silk and spices – very much in demand in Europe at that time. Now, the Ottoman Turks cut off this route.

The Europeans had, therefore, to look for sea routes either around the massive African Continent or through the unknown Western Oceans ─ the Atlantic and the Pacific. Frantic efforts by Western rulers to go by sea around Africa and over the Western Oceans, were soon rewarded. In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed in Cuba, discovering for the Europeans a new continent occupied by the American Indians. This new continent was North and South America. In 1498, Vasco Da Gama went around the Cape of Good Hope and spent the Christmas day at Natal. These two events should have been very beneficial to humanity if it was not for two weaknesses: the greed of the Europeans and the bankruptcy of the African Chiefs as well as the under-development of the indigenous Peoples of the Americans. The bankrupt African Chiefs would not organize us to resist slave trade and colonialism. In fact, many of them actually assisted both. Especially for Africa, both slave trade and colonialism would not have been possible, if it was not for the collaboration and bankruptcy of the African Chiefs. Owing to the social under-development of the Indigenous Americans (the American Indians), they were exterminated by “the Christians” from Europe, using war and disease. It is an amazing miracle of God when I go to the UN and see the very American – Indian face of Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia.

So, some American – Indians survived in sufficient numbers to generate a President from among themselves!! How great God is even in the face of evil!! I have never had a chance to talk to him. What language do these Indians speak? Do they still speak their indigenous languages? Therefore, in the four centuries between Columbus landing in Cuba and 1900, three most terrible things had happened to the non-European children of God: the indigenous People of the Americas had been exterminated and their land had been taken over by “the Christian” Europeans; millions of Africans had been up-rooted, taken into slavery in the Americas or perished in the process; and the whole of Africa (except for Ethiopia) and much of Asia had been colonized by European Countries (Britain, France, Spain, Holland, Portugal, etc.). The Europeans had polluted the efforts of the explorers that were looking for the sea routes to the East. Unlike Marco Polo who opened a trade route to the East for the flow of silk and spices, the Europeans now unleashed conquest, slave trade and even extermination on the People of the three continents: Africa, Asia and the Americas.

Nevertheless, the Colonized Peoples, initially betrayed by their bankrupt chiefs, were beginning to organize themselves. The ANC of South Africa was, indeed, founded in 1912. I attended their Centenary celebrations in Bloemfontein in 2012. In the USA, by around 1905, people like Du Bois, later on joined by George Padmore, started agitating for Pan-Africanist ideas. It is this re-invigorated resistance by the African and other colonized peoples that formed the first pillar of our ability to regain our freedom. Indeed, Mahtma Ghandi was also in South Africa as a young lawyer when this awakening was taking place.

It is at this stage that the 2nd pillar of our freedom took shape: the sparking of the inter-imperialist war of 1914-1918. What were these imperialists fighting for? They were fighting over us ─ we the Colonized Peoples ─ the property of the imperialists. The Germanic tribes inhabiting the forests of Northern Europe, had defied the Roman Empire and contributed to its decline and collapse in 450 AD. By 1870, these tribes were still governed under 39 Kingdoms, Principalities etc. On account of the growing Junker pressure in one of the Kingdoms, Prussia, a war took place between Prussia and France in 1870. France was defeated by Bismarck and the German Kingdoms were united. A United Germany now cried foul on account of being “cheated” by the other European countries in the enterprise of having “Colonial possessions” – i.e. us. Germany demanded a “fairer” redivision of the World Colonies.

That is how Bismark organized the Congress of Berlin in 1884 – 85 to solve this “problem” ─ the problem of being “cheated” as far as we the “possessions” were concerned. That is how Germany now joined the League of the Imperialists by being awarded: Tanganyika, Rwanda, Burundi, Cameroon, Namibia, Togo, etc. It seems, however, that Germany was not happy with the redivision. That is how, eventually, the 1st World War broke out in 1914. The results of the 1st World War did not please Germany and Germany, now under Hitler, started the 2nd World War. The good thing was that the Imperialist Countries had been so weakened by their criminal wars, that the anti-colonial movement grew in strength. The Imperialists tried to re-establish control, but they were defeated in Indonesia, Indo-China, Kenya etc. This, therefore, was the second pillar that enabled our emancipation.

The third pillar was the emergence of Communists in the Soviet Union in 1917 and in China in 1949. These groups were anti-capitalist but also anti-colonialist. To the advantage of the Colonized Peoples, a big anti-imperialist camp had emerged by 1950. They opposed imperialism morally and also gave material support to the liberation Movements. Genuine freedom fighters in Africa can, therefore, never forget this history changing solidarity. When “Christian” countries from the West were enslaving us, these atheist communists supported our freedom and they never interfere in our affairs even today. These communists, especially the Soviet Union, did not only support our freedom, they also defended, at a great cost to themselves, the freedom of the imperialist countries themselves. Although the imperialist countries had intervened in the Soviet Union so as to defeat the new communist power, which efforts had failed between 1918 and 1920, by 1938, the pragmatic Stalin was calling on the West to form an Alliance with him to oppose German aggression.

The Western leaders, on account of their narrow interests and myopia, refused. Soon Hitler attacked Poland and overrun it; he had gobbled up Czechoslovakia in March 1939. He overran the whole of Western Europe except for Britain and Sweden. Spain, Portugal and Italy were Hitler’s allies. Fortunately for the West and for us all, Hitler made the mistake of attacking the Soviet Union on the 22nd of June, 1941. It is the Soviet Union that defeated Hitler after alot of sacrifices with over 60 millionpeople dead etc. Hitler, had to deploy 195 Army divisions against the Soviet Union compared to only 75 divisions in the West against the Western allies ─ the USA, Britain, France’s De-Gaulle, Canada, Australia, New-Zealand, South Africa, not forgetting the hundreds of thousands of African soldiers fighting for the Colonial Masters. The Western countries only opened the second front with the landings in Sicily in July 1943. This was after the defeat of the Germans by the Russians at Moscow (1941 – December), Stalingrad (1942-43) and Kursk (July, 1943).

It is this Soviet Union, that did not only support the freedom of us, the Colonized Peoples of the World, but saved the whole of humanity by defeating Hitler, that is ever the target of the ungrateful, confused and, therefore, dangerous groups in the West. These groups were against the Soviet Union after the October Revolution in 1917, throughout the inter-war period (1918 – 1939), during the Cold War and even after the Cold War. It is unfair, it is wrong and it is dangerous for World Peace. True, the Soviets made their own mistakes. Why did they occupy Western Europe after the defeat of Hitler? Would the mighty Red Army not have earned more admiration from the Peoples of the World if they had withdrawn from Eastern Europe in 1946 and left those People’s to shape their own destinies? They would not have, then, involved themselves in Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968 and there would have been no Berlin Wall. Why did Brezhnev invade Afghanistan in 1979? I was part of the massive anti-Soviet demonstration in Dar-es-salaam in 1968 following their invasion of Czechoslovakia. However, to me, who is not biased, those mistakes neither compare with the mistakes of the West, past and present, nor do they deem the great historic contributions of both the USSR and China to the cause of humanity in general and the African Peoples in particular.

The Soviet Union broke up to the wild acclamation of the groups in the West. They welcomed the break up but did not bother about the how. You, therefore, had residual and consequent issues to the break-up. If the old internal borders of the USSR were now to become the new international borders of Sovereign Countries that were successors to the old Russian Czarist Empire and the USSR, was it not necessary to discuss that phenomenon frankly and fairly? How about the mixed populations ─ Russian and Non-Russian? How were they to live thereafter? No, all that was none of the business of the Western governing circles. What was crucial was that the “enemy” was down. Moreover, all the positive contributions Russia made to global peace or can make now are of no consequence to these Western circles. Russia must submit to the dictates of the West. This is where the danger of these groups comesin. Russia is a very powerful country even after the break-up of the USSR. It is (17,021,900 km²) seventeen million square kilometers in land area ─ that is like almost combining the USA and China. The Communists developed Russian technology and it can develop more. To think that you can trample on Russia like they have been trampling on other unfortunate Peoples, is to be very reckless and dangerous to World peace. Yet there are so many issues on which all of us (Africa, the West, Russia, China, India, Brazil, etc.) agree: universal education; improved health; industrialization; freedom of Peoples; the emancipation of women; anti-terrorism; etc. Why not take advantage of these convergences? We who were colonized and brutalized by the Western Countries forgot and forgave those mistakes. Why can’t these countries of the West have a just and balanced attitude to the countries of the East that are growing in capability and getting millions of Peoples out of poverty?

This is where Mr. Trump comes in. He says: “Why do we not examine the possibility of working with Russia against common threats, such as terrorism?” The liberals then shout that Mr. Trump must be having a secret agenda with Mr. Putin etc. This is why we could think of looking into the possibility of talking about the Trump Therapy for strategic myopia and recklessness in the West.

Gen. (rtd.) Yoweri Kaguta Museveni


Source — President Museveni’s Blog.

The Hill | Trump’s Africa Policy Finally Gets Going, And There’s Reason For Hope

Uganda Diaspora - Thu, 02/16/2017 - 06:24

The Hill — Since the election of Donald J. Trump, I have dedicated three columns to imagining Africa policy under the new U.S. president. With “imagination” being the operative word, because few hints had been offered up by the president, or by his top advisors during the 18-month campaign, or thereafter.

Admittedly, it hasn’t been easy to stay positive. There have been hiccups and misfires.

Such as in December, when it was rumored that Trump’s first meeting, as president-elect with an African leader would be with Sassou Nguesso, president of the Congo, a man who had changed the constitution so he could extend his 30-year rule indefinitely.

Africa watchers were outraged! The meeting was later cancelled, (or never on the books), depending on who you listen to.

In January, Helene Cooper of the New York Times reported that the Trump transition team, in questions submitted on Africa, grilled the State department on whether engaging in Africa was worth our time, given “so much corruption,” and with, “so many problems at home.”

At that point I called myself “utterly dismayed.”

Today, however, it appears that there is reason to be guardedly optimistic that the long-standing bi-partisan policy that has guided successive U.S. administrations on Africa, anchored in democracy, respect for human rights, shared threats to security, and private-sector led development, may indeed continue.

Here’s why.

Tuesday morning, President Trump placed his first phone calls to African leaders since being elected, reaching out to President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and Jacob Zuma of South Africa. They represent two of Africa’s largest economies, attracting thousands of U.S. investors, and whose cooperation is essential to facing shared challenges and threats.

These were the right calls to make out of the box, and the conversations, as reported, were on point.

In talking to President Buhari, Donald Trump expressed America’s continued support for the fight against Boko Haram, Nigeria’s militant Islamist group which has caused havoc in Africa’s most populous country.

Researchers estimate that between 2011 and the close of 2016, Boko Haram has killed more than 15,000 civilians, in addition to the horrifying kidnapping of 276 Chibok school girls, and regularly deploying children as suicide bombers.

This was an essential intervention by the U.S. president, particularly after last week when the White House list of “underreported” terrorist incidents included only a sole reference to attacks in Sub Saharan Africa — at the U.S. Embassy in Chad — and was silent to Nigeria’s suffering against Boko Haram, something that did not go unnoticed on the Continent, particularly in social media.

In South Africa, according to reports from the South African presidency, the two presidents reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the already strong bilateral relations between the two countries. They “also discussed the need to work together on multilateral issues… especially the quest for peace and stability on the African continent.”

All of this took place in the midst of major shakeup at the National Security Council, where Michael Flynn’s pick for the senior Africa Director, Robin Townley was denied security clearance by the CIA, according to reports.

As we look at what’s next, President Trump plans to attend the G-7 Summit in Sicily on May 26, where the focus will be on Africa and Migration. Then, July 7-8, the U.S. president has accepted the invitation of Chancellor Angela Merkel to participate in the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany where the topics will include terrorism, migration and refugee flow, among others. Two meetings with our allies; two formal discussions on Africa.

Merkel, and other European leaders, are calling for investing in programs that support youth education and training, and on strengthening economies and the rule of law to support African growth and development, and to stem the flow of migration from its source. This is a long stretch from the White House’s current focus on implementing an immigration ban and reinforcing the border.

It looks as if the Trump administration is finally off to a start on Africa. But is there a true appreciation of the importance of Africa to U.S. economic, environmental, health and national security interests?

Is there an understanding that partnerships with Africa’s people, its businesses, and leaders make America stronger?

We can only hope, and continue to advocate, reminding President Trump that not everyone who disagrees with him is part of “the resistance,” some of us are just trying to help.

K. Riva Levinson is President and CEO of KRL International LLC a D.C.-based consultancy that works in the world’s emerging markets, and author of “Choosing the Hero: My Improbable Journey and the Rise of Africa’s First Woman President” (Kiwai Media, June 2016).

Source — The Hill

Opinion | African Nations Increasingly Silence Internet to Stem Protests — The New York Times

Uganda Diaspora - Sun, 02/12/2017 - 08:22

People waiting to vote in the presidential election outside a polling station in Banjul, Gambia, in December. Government officials said security concerns prompted internet services to be shut off and international cellphone calls to be blocked.

DAKAR, Senegal — Julius Ikena’s trade business is at a standstill because he cannot make electronic payments to his partners. Andrew Mofor cannot get access to the small fortune — 800 euros, or about $850 — that his daughter sent him through an online banking system.

And Angela Atabong, a 29-year-old economics student in Cameroon’s capital, can no longer tap out sweet nothings on the internet messaging service WhatsApp to her fiancé, who lives six hours away.

All three have been thwarted by Cameroon’s government, which is the latest in sub-Saharan Africa to switch off the internet in parts or all of a nation, or to put other limits on online communication in hopes of snuffing out protests and other opposition.

Officials in Cameroon and elsewhere say internet blackouts are a security measure. But they are also a hit to the fragile economies of developing nations that are increasingly reliant on online business transactions as internet access and cellphone use have exploded in recent years.

Authoritarian regimes have long limited communication with the outside world during tense times. Most notably in 2011, Egyptian government officials cut internet and mobile network access to 80 million people as thousands of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Governments in Myanmar, Nepal and other countries have also shut off internet access in recent years.

Now, sub-Saharan African governments are increasingly employing the tactic: Blackouts have grown most rapidly in the past two years, researchers say. In recent months, governments in several countries have turned off internet access during elections when violence broke out or was merely expected.

In December in Gambia, the president at the time, Yahya Jammeh, a ruthless leader known for human rights abuses, shut off internet services and blocked international cellphone calls as votes were cast in a presidential election that eventually ousted him from office. In Gabon, officials cited security concerns for an internet blackout during presidential elections that prompted deadly demonstrations after the vote was considered by observers to be fraudulent.

And in the Republic of Congo, internet access was blocked, television networks switched off and the nation’s main airport closed during an election that spurred violence. Government officials were accused of using airstrikes on opposition forces.

Elsewhere on the continent, Ethiopia has shut down some social media sites and internet services after demonstrations. In Zimbabwe, after protests over the travails of daily life, officials raised prices on cellphone data, a move widely seen as an effort to curb the use of social media. Lawmakers also pushed measures to allow the police to intercept data and seize electronics like laptops and cellphones, levying charges of terrorism for misuse. The Democratic Republic of Congo has blocked social media sites and text messaging amid demonstrations over the president’s attempts to extend his tenure in office.

Freedom House, an American watchdog organization, said in its annual Freedom on the Net survey of 65 countries that 24 nations experienced restrictions on social media and communications last year, up from 15 countries the previous year. Network shutdowns occurred in 15 countries last year, more than double that in 2015, the survey found.

Mai Truong, program manager for the survey, said, “It’s a strategy that the authorities are increasingly turning to as a method of controlling both the information landscape and citizens’ ability to mobilize, in recognition of the fact that the internet has become a fundamental tool for people to realize their rights and participate meaningfully in society.”

The United Nations Human Rights Council last year condemned the practice of intentionally preventing or disrupting access to information on the internet, saying access was a fundamental human right.

Network blackouts also have economic consequences. Many residents of some regions of Africa where joblessness is soaring are increasingly using online or mobile transfers to receive money from relatives in urban areas or abroad. If the internet is shut off, users cannot use Wi-Fi to transfer cash and must pay for mobile data to go online. The cost is prohibitive for many people.

Between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016, 81 short-term internet shutdowns in 19 countries cost at least $2.4 billion in gross domestic product globally, according to Darrell M. West, founding director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution.

“As the digital economy expands, it will become even more expensive for nations to shut down the internet,” he wrote in an October analysis. “Without coordinated action by the international community, this damage is likely to accelerate in the future and further weaken global economic development.”

Mr. West estimated that the election-time shutdown last year in the Republic of Congo alone dealt an $72 million hit to the economy of the struggling nation.

Cameroon’s continuing internet blackout affects only English-speaking regions of the country. It followed weeks of protests from lawyers, teachers and other residents in those areas who have been agitating for better treatment from the French-speaking government, which they say has long marginalized their communities.

Before independence in the early 1960s, Cameroon was colonized by the French and the British. The Constitution allows protections for both languages, but Francophones rule the government. Most official documents are offered in French and not translated, evidence that Anglophones cite as proof of their marginalization.

Some demonstrations in English-speaking areas have turned violent, and security forces have fired on protesters.

The blackout has attracted attention from Edward J. Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who revealed extensive surveillance and data collection programs operated by the National Security Agency. He recently criticized Cameroon’s government on Twitter, saying, “This is the future of repression.” A hashtag #BringBackOurInternet has been circulating.

Yet the shutdown is a stopgap measure until another filtering system can get up and running, said one diplomat with knowledge of operations in the region, who declined to be identified because of continuing tensions there. The government is buying technology from Chinese companies that will allow officials to filter websites in the same fashion that the Chinese government has long employed to control content.

Still, the blackout could have political ramifications for Cameroon’s government. Bankers have largely stayed apolitical over the more than three decades since President Paul Biya has been in office. But as the shutdown starts to hurt their business, they could become a potent adversary, analysts fear.

The blockage has also made it difficult for local journalists to report on what is widely viewed as an overly harsh government response to the demonstrations. Before the internet went dark, some cellphone users received ominous messages from officials.

“Dear subscriber,” one message the government circulated on WhatsApp warned. “You incur six months to two years imprisonment and 5 to 10 million fine if you publish or spread on the social media information that you can’t prove.”

Another message read, “Do not be an accomplice of disinformation or destabilization of our country through the social media.”

Some citizens in blackout areas have come up with clever ways to get around the shutdown. Cellphone users type out messages and then pay drivers who gather garbage bags full of phones and take them outside the blackout boundaries. After crossing into an area where the network is up and running, they hit the send button on each phone.

Since the blackout, Henry Boh has not been able to send money to Bamenda in the northwest, where his brother needs cash to take his nephew to the hospital for treatment.

“This is a clear sign that the government of Yaoundé doesn’t listen to its people’s voices,” said Mr. Boh, who lives in Yaoundé, the nation’s capital.

Mr. Boh said the shutdown further proved the Anglophone protesters’ point that the government mistreated them. In the nation’s Far North region where Islamic militants from Boko Haram wage deadly attacks, they say, the internet is operational.

“The government respects Boko Haram more than us,” Mr. Boh said.

Dionne Searcey reported from Dakar, Senegal, and Francois Essomba from Bamenda, Cameroon.

Source — The New York Times.

Irish Times | Lawyer Seeking Order Forcing Facebook to Reveal Ugandan Blogger’s Identity Loses Appeal

Uganda Diaspora - Fri, 02/10/2017 - 08:50

A High Court judge has said he could not, “in conscience”, order Facebook Ireland to reveal the identity of a blogger who has made clearly defamatory allegations against a Ugandan lawyer. Mr Justice Donald Binchy said he could not do so because the blogger’s bodily integrity or life might be under threat having read an Amnesty International report on Uganda. He said the Amnesty report – referring to the arrest and charging of people who spoke out against the Ugandan government – seemed to echo some of the concerns put forward by Facebook.

The social media company opposed an application by lawyer Fred Muwema for an order revealing the identity of the blogger who goes under the pseudonym TVO (Tom Voltaire Okwalinga). TVO posted material on Facebook alleging Mr Muwema had accepted bribes and that a break-in at Mr Muwema’s office had been staged. Mr Muwema denies the claims and sought to sue TVO for defamation. He brought proceedings in Ireland as it is home to Facebook’s headquarters outside the US and Canada. Mr Justice Binchy last August refused Mr Muwema an injunction requiring Facebook to take down the material but was prepared to make an order relating to disclosure by Facebook of basic subscriber information relating to the identity of TVO.

Fake TVO page — Facebook asked the judge to revisit his decision on revealing his identity after it said it had learned a second, or fake TVO page, had been set up on Facebook. A former employee of the US Embassy in Uganda was arrested by police on the incorrect presumption he was TVO, Facebook’s lead litigation counsel, Jack Gilbert, said in an affidavit. Facebook was also concerned about a number of international reports, including from the US State department in 2015, about the lack of respect in Uganda for human rights involving unlawful killings and torture of detainees. Nicholas Opiyo, an advocate with the Chapter Four human rights organisation in Uganda, said he defended the man who had been arrested by police who believe he was TVO and he was held for 48 hours at a notorious detention centre in Kampala.

Mr Opiyo believes if the identity of the real TVO is revealed, the latter will be subjected to similar or worse abuse at the hands of security agents. Mr Justice Binchy said on Thursday his decision was 80 per cent complete but Facebook had behaved very responsibly in bringing the information before the court. While he did not believe TVO’s identity should be revealed, the court would have to make an order in circumstances where Mr Muwema had been defamed and was entitled to a remedy.

Andrew Walker, for Mr Muwema, said his client needed the identity to sue TVO for defamation. The Ugandan judicial system was robust enough to protect TVO who had broken that country’s Computer Misuse Act, he said. Rossa Fanning SC, for Facebook, said the real TVO, who has 80,000 followers, had set matters up where an order of the court relating to his identity may be ineffective while the “fake TVO” had not. Facebook found itself in an unusual situation where it felt compelled to ask the judge to revisit his order at its own cost. It was prepared to deal with this matter on the basis both sides pay their own costs of the litigation so far, counsel said. Mr Justice Binchy said he hopes to finalise his decision soon.

Source — Irish Times of Ireland.


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