[Interview] Africanews @ 2: Review of the year and prospects for the future

1 day 10 hours ago

As Africanews celebrates 2 years of broadcasting across the continent, the team celebrates several milestones and challenges overcome in the quest to tell the African story.

Over the past 12 months, the channel has grown by over 80% to amass 6.3million viewers across 37 countries, and impressive numbers on the digital platforms.

Our determination to serve you where you are has given birth to the release of our Android application, which has over 50,000 downloads.

We sat down with the deputy editor in chief and English Language head of Africanews, Raziah Athman, who shared with us the strategies that have delivered these milestones, the challenges that have been faced and overcome by our journalists and the expectations for the next 12 months and beyond.

What have been the key milestones and challenges faced in the last 12 months?

Africanews has been part of the changing trends in media, in content consumption and production. From new technologies that have taken us to the deepest corners of the continent, to dealing with journalists from diverse cultures, who have different styles of bringing the news to our audience.

I think our biggest achievement is the fact that we have been able to take advantage of these factors, blend that into our parent system developed by our sister channel Euronews and still be able to grow on the African continent.

We are new. We deliver the news as it happens. We broadcast in both French and English simultaneously. We cover close to 40 African countries with our network of correspondents. Because of this uniqueness, in the last year, our audience has grown by over four million viewers, which is a key milestone.

How has Africanews engaged its audiences through its digital platforms?

If you are on Twitter or Facebook and do follow Africanews, you are guaranteed a flow of updates on news happening around Africa, including those we package in our magazine programmes like This Is Culture and Sci Tech.

In the last 12 months, we have maintained consistency that is quite necessary for our audience online, especially those who might not be able to catch the news on TV.

Our numbers have grown into thousands and we are investing more into social media tools like the recently released Android application which has amassed over 50,000 downloads in a few months.

What were some of the biggest stories covered by the Africanews team this year?

We tend to cover political events that are shaping the history of this continent, the stories that will still be told generations and generations to come. Take the example of a court overturning an election in the case of the Kenya August 8 polls. That is unprecedented, even if constitutions allow for such rulings.

Certainly, Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe’s ouster made headlines across the world, including at Africanews on November 21, 2017.

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma’s resignation on February 21, 2018 was a story we had been closely following throughout the president’s turbulent years in office.

We have also been keeping a keen eye on the conflicts tearing apart nations on the continent. And, the idea of peace is becoming even more complex. We have as well covered the conflicts in the Sahel region.

We are particularly sensitive about terror in Somalia, a country that is definitely intertwined in a much more complex web of conflict. From traditional influences, to modern politics, and the role of international actors, this unstable nation gives us the one of the accurate scenes to observe where Africa is going in terms of security.

You lead a diverse and multilingual newsroom at Africanews. How has your experience here informed your outlook on journalism in Africa?

The most important thing I have learned in this diverse Africanews newsroom is that audiences are diverse and so are stories. Our journalists represent this very diversity and so journalism is more diverse than what we may already know. I keep on learning to deliver the news for the entire continent. Stories that matter to everybody.

What can Africanews audiences expect going forward?

The Africanews audiences can expect unwavering principles in our style of delivering the news. This is made possible through the advantages we share with our sister channel Euronews. Together, we have been able to make partnerships for instance with award winning global media outlets like AJ + and NBC, as part of the efforts to bring the best to our audience.

Our audience can expect partnerships with local media platforms in their respective countries as we strive to reach everybody. The Africanews audience can always be sure we’ll move with the trends so they are not left behind. It’s why we are here, to give ‘your voice’.

Ozmic

South Africa must tame Zambia's 'brutal regime', opposition leader says

1 day 10 hours ago

Zambia’s opposition leader Hakainde Hichelema accused President Edgar Lungu’s government on Thursday of political killings, rights abuses and rampant coruption, calling on South Africa to intervene to restore calm.

Hichilema, who spent four months in jail last year on a treason charge, said regional allies needed to apply pressure on Lungu or risk Zambia descending into the economic disarray seen in neighbouring Zimbabwe under former President Robert Mugabe.

Zambia, Africa’s second largest copper producer, has been criticised by rights groups for an increase in political arrests under Lungu and concerns about corruption following reports of billions of dollars in undisclosed borrowing.

Lungu denies there is a government corruption problem or that police are used to stifle dissent.

“I am asking the region to open its eyes to a brutal regime and to do all it can to restore the rule of law, or the world will be looking at the next Zimbabwe,” Hichilema said in an interview in Johannesburg.

“It is in South Africa’s interest as the regional powerhouse to act now or it will suffer from economic collapse of its neighbour and mass migration over its border.”

South Africa is the commercial gateway to the region and has powerful influence over its neighbours.

Pretoria intervened to bring together a unity government in Zimbabwe after scores were killed in post-election violence in 2008 and swiftly brought an end to an attempted coup in Lesotho in 2014.

Zambia is due to hold elections in 2021 but Hichilema said it was impossible to hold a free and fair vote in the current environment because Lungu controlled the electoral commission.

Rights groups and diplomats have not reported a crackdown on dissent on the scale described by Hichilema.

“It is much, much worse than the world thinks,” he said.

Hichilema, an economist and businessman widely known as HH, was arrested in April last year and charged with treason after his convoy failed to make way for Lungu’s motorcade.

He was released in August after state prosecutors dropped the charges.

Former South African President Jacob Zuma did not publicly call for Hichilema’s release, drawing criticism from South African opposition parties who said Zuma was failing to uphold regional democracy.

Hichilema said he had more faith in new South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, a successful businessman who came to power in February after Zuma was forced out by his own party.

REUTERS

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Congo Republic still not ready for IMF deal despite pledged reforms

1 day 11 hours ago

An International Monetary Fund team in the Congo Republic said on Thursday it was not ready to propose an aid programme for the debt-crippled country to the IMF board but did applaud reforms promised by Brazzaville to obtain a bailout.

Like other Central African oil producers, Congo has been hit hard by low crude prices. But while several regional neighbours, including Chad and Gabon, have secured bailouts from the IMF, talks with Congo have dragged on since last year.

The delay is largely due to the IMF’s demand that the government restructure its debt, which stood at $9.14 billion, or around 110 percent of GDP, by the end of July and which the Fund says is unsustainable.

The IMF wrapped up its latest visit to Congo on Wednesday.

“Staff understands that the authorities will continue to work in the coming weeks on implementing their comprehensive strategy to restore debt sustainability and ensure full program financing,” it said in a statement.

“Once compliance with all relevant IMF policies has been established, an arrangement to support Congo’s economic program would be proposed for the IMF Executive Board’s consideration.”

Congo is seeking to restructure its debt with commodities trading houses after borrowing $2 billion from merchants including Trafigura and Glencore. The bulk of its external debt, however, is owed to Chinese entities.

In a statement released late on Wednesday, Prime Minister Clement Mouamba said that any restructuring of the external debt would not affect multilateral creditors or holders of Congo’s Eurobond, which matures in 2029.

It added that the government expected the talks to “rapidly lead to the adoption” of a three-year programme with the IMF.

Government revenues have dropped by a third since world prices for crude plummeted in 2014 and 2015. The IMF said last year that the non-oil economy was expected to contract by 9.2 percent in 2017.

That hardship was exacerbated by Congo’s chronic governance problems, the Fund statement said.

“The authorities will need to take bold and immediate governance reforms to put into effect the government’s proclaimed intention to mark a break with past policies and practices,” it said.

The mission commended the government’s pledges to establish an independent anti-corruption body, oblige senior officials to declare their assets and foster transparency regarding natural resource management and large infrastructure projects.

REUTERS

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Nkurunziza reshuffles Burundi cabinet ministers ahead of referendum

1 day 11 hours ago

Burundi’s president Pierre Nkuruniziza announced a partial cabinet reshuffle on Thursday night replacing the Foreign Affairs minister Alain-Aimé Nyamitwe with Ezéchiel Nibigira, former boss of the notorious Imbonerakure youth league.

Ambassador Nyamitwe had been in office since May 2015, just after the attempted coup, tasked with containing the diplomatic uproar that followed Nkurunziza’s ambitions to seek a third term in office.

The reshuffle comes less than a month to the referendum. The May 18 vote has been set to allow Burundians vote on whether or not to allow President Pierre Nkurunziza to extend his tenure in office. The president who is already serving a controversial third-term would rule till 2034 if the vote succeeds.

The other new members of the cabinet include Gaspard Banyankimbona, former Rector of the University of Burundi, who has been appointed minister of education, technical and vocational training.

Senator Evelyne Butoyi has been appointed minister of youth, posts and information technologies while Thaddée Ndikumana, former spokesperson of the Ministry of Public Health is now the minister of public health and the fight against AIDS.

Jean-Marie Niyokindi is the minister for trade, industry and tourism.

Burundi has been rocked by insecurity since 2015, when Nkurunziza decided to seek a third term in office that his opponents said was unconstitutional.

Those who opposed Nkurunziza’s third five-term launched an armed struggle against his government, and the resulting violence has left hundreds dead and forced at least 400,000 people into exile.

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No matter how hard George Soros & Brussels try, no illegal migrants will be admitted to Hungary – FM

1 day 13 hours ago

Preview Budapest will continue to uphold its strong anti-immigrant stance, despite attempts by the EU and media moguls to portray migration as a positive process and a basic “human right,” Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said.
Read Full Article at RT.com

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Cuba marks end of an era as Castro hands over to new president Diaz-Canel

1 day 14 hours ago

Cuba marked the end of an era Thursday as Miguel Diaz-Canel was formally elected as the country’s new president, becoming the first leader of the Caribbean island in six decades who is not named Castro.

The silver-haired Diaz-Canel, a top Communist Party figure who has served as first vice president since 2013, assumes power from Raul Castro, who himself took over from his elder brother Fidel, father of the 1959 revolution.

In his first speech as president, Diaz-Canel vowed to keep the country on the path of that “revolution,” but also on the road to economic reform.

“The mandate given by the people to this legislature is to continue the Cuban revolution at this crucial historic moment, which will be marked by what we must do to implement the economic model” put in place by Raul Castro, he said.

“I am here to work, not to make promises,” he said.

Diaz-Canel was elected in a landmark vote of the National Assembly which took place on Wednesday, he was the sole candidate for the presidency, with the result formally announced on Thursday.

He is the island’s first leader born after the revolution, and will be 58 on Friday.

Among the first world leaders to congratulate the new leader were China’s President Xi Jinping and President Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico. Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, a close ally of Cuba, described the new leader as a “faithful representative of a brilliant generation.”

AFP

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Malawi can eradicate HIV infections says U.S. doctor who discovered AIDS virus

1 day 14 hours ago

Malawi, which has one of the highest rates of the deadly HIV/AIDS infections, is on course to eradicate the virus, Jay Levy who co-discovered the AIDS virus 35 years ago said.

Most of the AIDS cases globally are in poorer countries, where access to testing, prevention and treatment is limited. More than one million people in Malawi have the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS, the U.N. AIDS agency (UNAIDS) says.

However, according to official figures, Malawi’s national HIV/AIDS prevalence dropped to 8.8 percent in 2016 from 30 percent in 1985 when the first HIV/Aids case was registered in Malawi.

Levy cited the Malawian government’s efforts in increasing access to treatment, mother to child transmission interventions, and awareness on prevention and treatment as some of the steps that are helping to fight the disease.

“Malawi is not a rich country, but has done a remarkable job of reducing HIV infections and deaths from AIDS,” Levy, a University of California researcher and renowned virologisit and infectious disease expert told Reuters on a visit to Malawi.

“Malawi could be one of the countries in Africa on target to eradicating infection,” he added.

Levy delivered a lecture at College of Medicine in Blantyre, the nerve centre for HIV/AIDS research in Malawi, and is touring HIV testing centres in the countryside.

Malawi is one of the world’s poorest countries, and the country’s economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and individual donor nations.

In 2016, Malawi started testing the use of drones to speed up the time it takes to test infants living in rural areas for HIV, where poor roads and high transport costs often result in delays in testing that can prevent access to treatment.

Early diagnosis is important with HIV because it allows people to start treatment with AIDS drugs sooner, increasing their chances of living a long and healthy life.

Malawi now has a much lower HIV prevalence than some of its neighbours, UNAIDS says. South Africa has the biggest HIV epidemic in the world, with 7.1 million people living with HIV. HIV prevalence is high among the general population at 18.9 percent.

The Kingdom of eSwatini (formerly called Swaziland), a small landlocked country in southern Africa, has the highest HIV prevalence in the world, with 27.2 percent of their adult population living with HIV.

“There are still no real heroes to point at in Africa. But Senegal was the first country to really focus on the epidemic and reduce infections to a lower level,” he said. “South Africa is now catching up with the fight.”

Levy called on African governments to continue lobbying for more funding to direct towards eradicating HIV/AIDS.

REUTERS

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