Sunday, April 29, 2012

Grenade blast sows chaos at Nairobi church, one dead- AFP:

NAIROBI — A man set off a grenade during a church service in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Sunday, sowing chaos and killing one worshipper.
"It was horrible. People were screaming all over and blood was all over," resident Samuel Kimani Mwandati said outside the God's House of Miracles Church in Nairobi's Ngara neighbourhood.
The area police chief, Joseph Gichangi, said there had been "one fatality," and later police estimates put the number of injured at 15.
Nairobi has been hit by a series of unclaimed blasts since late 2011, which Kenyan officials have blamed on Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab Islamists.
Kenyan troops launched an incursion into neighbouring Somalia in October to increase the military pressure against the Shebab, and the Islamists have vowed revenge attacks so long as Kenyan forces remain on Somali land.
"We have not known the motive of the attack, but we can't rule out anything," said Nairobi deputy police chief Moses Nyakwama.
Gichangi said the assailant was reportedly a member of the congregation and fled immediately after setting off the grenade. Witnesses said he was armed.
"We saw a man running out after the blast and when we chased him he pointed a pistol at us, so we ran back," Kennedy Wasilwa recounted.
Joseph Kimani, who owns a shop nearby, told AFP he rushed to the church after hearing "a loud blast," and initially thought the church had caught fire.
"Then I found people screaming and some were trying to assist others who had injuries," he said.
Inside the church a young man lay motionless, Mwandati recounted. "We knew he was dead or seriously injured. He is the one who has died."
The Vatican condemned the violence.
"The new terrorist attacks in Kenya and Nigeria at Christian celebrations are horrible and despicable acts," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.
Attackers armed with bombs and guns opened fire at church services in a Nigerian university on Sunday, killing around 20 people.
Police said witnesses provided a description of the attacker and urged the community to assist their investigation.
"With the help of the public, we will get him," Nyakwama said.
A March 10 blast at a Nairobi bus terminal killed nine people and injured around 60, while on March 31 another person died at a church gathering in the coastal town of Mtwapa.
Interior Minister George Saitoti blamed the Shebab for the blast, although the Islamists did not claim it.
Nairobi launched its operation in Somalia following a spate of kidnappings in Kenya that officials blamed on the Islamist rebels.
Earlier this month, the Shebab threatened retribution and revenge for the continued presence of Kenyan troops on Somali land.
"The Kenyan public must be aware that the more Kenyan troops continue to persecute innocent Muslims of Somalia, the less secure Kenyan cities will be," the Islamists said in a statement. "Such is the law of retribution."
The Shebab once controlled vast swathes of Somali territory but have in recent months been chased out of most of their strongholds.
The Western-backed African Union force in Mogadishu along with the Kenyan and Ethiopian armies have increased military pressure against the Islamist rebels on three fronts.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kenya's unmanned borders - YouTube

Kenya's unmanned borders - YouTube: ""

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Kenya, Uganda risk entering Sudan conflict

Home  Cover Story  Kenya, Uganda risk entering Sudan conflict

Kenya, Uganda risk entering Sudan conflict

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As the dispute between Sudan and South Sudan over oil transportation dues deteriorates into full-fledged war, The Independent reports of an intense rhetoric that could see Kenya and Uganda sucked in.
Following separation, most of the oil fields fell in South Sudan’s territory but Sudan remains the owner of refineries and pipelines and the South’s oil is exported through the north.  For that, Khartoum claims Juba owes it up to US$3.8 billion in transportation, refinery and port fees but the South says it owes Khartoum US$2.6 billion.
Sudan wants to be paid US$32 per barrel transported but Juba wants to pay US$1 per barrel. Brent crude for June delivery was hovering at around US$120 per barrel.   In an effort to ease the standoff, the African Union has proposed a cost of US$25 per barrel.
Meanwhile, Khartoum has resorted to bombarding various towns in the south and the south has retaliated with occupation of the oil—producing Heglig region, sparking fears that the conflict might escalate.
There are mixed reports on what is happening in Heglig with Sudanese officials saying that they are in control of the region and South Sudan insisting that they the ones in control.
The African Union has called the occupation “illegal”, and the US and UN have condemned both offensives. While the South maintains that it occupied Heglig because of Sudan’s continued aerial bombardments on its territory, Khartoum insists that the South’s move is an act of aggression and a call to have the guns drawn.
Juba claims that the Thabo Mbeki led African Union High Level Implementation Panel favours Khartoum, The East African reported.  Juba reportedly prefers the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) takes over the talks. And a group of officials from Juba were in Nairobi to co-opt it into salvaging the situation.
Juba and Khartoum had in March agreed to sign the agreement on April 3 that would have also allowed a consensus on oil revenue sharing that has been a contentious issue since December when Khartoum seized Juba’s oil as compensation for alleged unpaid transportation fees.
Sudan this month declared all South Sudanese living in the north foreigners—they can nolonger use Sudanese passports—and President Omar al-Bashir has cancelled the signing of an agreement on non-aggression and citizenship because of the Heglig clashes.
As war looms, there are calls for the region’s powers to rein in al-Bashir who is increasingly being seen as a rogue leader following his indictment by the ICC over war crimes and now his aerial bombardments on South Sudanese territory.
President Yoweri Museveni has so far remained quiet about the escalation to full-fledged war between the two Sudans but anxiety remains.
Assurances by the Army and Defence Spokesman, Col. Felix Kulayigye, that Uganda will not be sucked into the conflict have failed to quell fears.
Shortly before unleashing aerial attacks on the South’s territory, Sudan had blamed Juba and Kampala for backing rebels in Darfur.
Sudan President Omar Bashir’s advisor, Mustafa Osman Ismail, warned that Khartoum would not standby idly while Kampala and Juba continued backing rebels in Darfur.
It was the latest flare up in hostility that experts trace to Uganda’s history of supporting the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army then under the late John Garang that led to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and enabled the cessation from the north.
Khartoum has in turn backed Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group over the years.
Reports indicate that South Sudan officials have also been courting Nairobi to intervene on its side. Mombasa is the South Sudan’s main conduit of arms with some of the arms supplies docking at Mombasa supposedly for Kenya only to end up in South Sudan.
With Nairobi pursuing its biggest infrastructure project, the billion dollar Lamu Port and Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET), experts say Kenya will likely be on Juba’s side.
Senior UPDF officials, and military experts like Uganda’s former Army commander have quoted a spillover of a war between Juba and Khartoum as one of the main reason why President Yoweri Museveni has been spending billions of dollars on arms and fighter jets.
In 2011 Uganda spent a staggering $750 on six SU-MK ex-Russian jets, ballooning the country’s military expenditure to US$1.02 billion far above the US$735 million for Kenya which has been the region’s biggest military spender.
Uganda’s advanced combat aircraft have raised Uganda’s squadrons a notch above those in the East and Central Africa regions but Khartoum is reputed to have one of the strongest armies in Africa.
It has over the years hired Russia and China to up its air force’s tech and some reports indicate that it assembles fighter jets.
Data from SIPRI shows that while Sudan purchased about 1000 jets between 2000 and 2011, South Sudan purchased just 61 in 2011.
The Sudanese Air Force hardware includes Mil Mi-24 attack helicopters, MiG-29 fighters, Su-25 close air support aircraft, Chengdu J-7 fighters, Q-5 ‘Fantan’ ground attack aircraft, and Antonov medium—some of which are being used in the aerial bombardments.
South Sudan’s airforce was only formulated on 24 June 2008. In September 2010 Bloomberg News reported that the airforce had received a fleet of nine Mi-17V-5 transport helicopters and one Mi-172 variant, purchased for $75 million from Russia’s Kazan Helicopters.
Most of arms supplies to South Sudan have been scantly reported and come through mainly Kenya.  On Sept 25, 2008 a large shipment of weapons including 33 Russian-built T-72 main battle tanks from Ukraine supposedly belonging to Kenya were hijacked by Somali pirates. They would later be located in southern Sudan.
An Arms Survey conducted by Switzerland’s Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, reported that satellite imagery confirmed that the tanks were currently deployed at military headquarters in southern Sudan.
Reports indicate that the hijacked vessel, the MV Faina, also carried heavy artillery, 23 ZPU-anti-aircraft guns and 812 tons of ammunition when it was seized in the Gulf of Aden. It is believed to be one of four arms shipments to Sudan from Ukraine.
This is not comparable to Sudan that runs fully fledged arms industry that potentially produces tanks and anti-tanks.
Just in January this year, Sudanese defense minister, General Abdul Rahim Mohamed Hussien, declared that Sudan participated in Dubai’s Airshow with two drone warplanes.
He also added that that his country was in plans to start producing heavy weapons. Hussien, added that Sudan was no longer depending on the outside world to provide small arms to the military.
With an over 100,000-strong force, Sudan ranks among the top 5 Africa armies, far ahead of South Sudan’s fledgling army.
Sudan’s military expenditure is also one of the highest in Africa.
Research and Market, notes that Sudanese defense expenditure stood at US$3.308bn in 2010 and was expected to rise to US$3.923bn in 2011. This is 22.2% of GDP of its GDP.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Kenyan Runners 8 Days for Glory - A Kenya-Flavored Preview of the Upcoming Men's Marathon World Record Assault

By Emory Mort
April 11, 2012
(Editor's note: Employee #1 Emory Mort went to Kenya to participate in the IAAF's Day in the Life project and he shares some of the wisdom gleaned from that trip in this series. Mort got to spend twenty days in Kenya - many with the sport's biggest stars, including 800m world record holder David Rudisha, double world champ Vivian Cheruiyot, World and Olympic 1,500m medallist Asbel Kiprop, world marathon record holder Patrick Makau, double marathon world champ Abel Kirui, 2:03:42 man Wilson Kipsang, London champ Emmanuel Mutai, and coach Renato Canova, among others. In this first series of articles, we look at the six Kenyan men's marathoners vying for three Olympic spots. While the IAAF graciously paid for portions of Mort's trip, they had no say on the article below.)

World Record Holder Patrick Makau

(Light Blue Adidas Top)
The marathon may be over 2,500 years old, but it may have never seen anoctave like the upcoming one.
Thanks to a decision handed down by Kenyan Olympic organizers, on April 15th in Rotterdam, April 16th in Boston and April 22nd in London, six of the fastest and greatest Kenyan men's marathoners of all time (Moses Mosop in Rotterdam,Geoffrey Mutai in Boston, and the stunning quartet of Emmanuel MutaiAbel KiruiPatrick Makau and Wilson Kipsang in London) will vie for three Olympic spots in what could be eight of the most jaw-dropping days in marathoning history. Like Russian nesting dolls, from the perspective of the Kenyan men these eight days will treat the spectator to drama after interwoven drama: the race to win the purse, the race for the Olympic berth, the race for the world record, the race for national and personal pride.
2011 was the zenith of the marathon's golden era and there is no disputing that these six Kenyan runners are the current champions of the marathon world. In 2011, Geoffrey Mutai (2:03:02 Boston), Moses Mosop (2:03:06 Boston), Patrick Makau (2:03:38 Berlin) and Wilson Kipsang (2:03:42 Frankfurt) ran the four fastest marathons of all time. Thanks to the intricacies of marathon courses, Mutai's and Mosop's marks on the net downhill point-to-point Boston course do not count for world record purposes, meaning Makau is the world record holder (a title he may only enjoy for a precious few more hours). Mutai followed his Boston run with a more than two-and-a-half-minute course record on the famed New York Marathon course, and Mosop followed with a course record in Chicago.
Meanwhile, Abel Kirui won his second straight World Championship marathon with a record 148-second margin of victory in Daegu to go along with his 54-second margin in 2009. Emmanuel Mutai won and set a course record in London, lately the most competitive annual marathon in the world, in a race where he not only defeated future world record holder Makau and the field by over a minute, but also put himself into the lead for the huge $500,000 World Marathon Major title, which he banked at the end of the year with a runner-up finish in New York.
Even with the tragic mortal fall of pioneering Sammy Wanjiru last May, Kenyans, several of whom are marathoning neophytes, won every major marathon in 2011. Winning, however, wasn't enough. They won in emphatic style, besting record fields in record times, by margins big and small that left sports fans baffled. In the case of 2011's Boston, Geoffrey Mutai and Moses Mosop and a pleasant gale forced IAAF decision-makers to ponder questions they thought were so fantastic they weren't written in the rule book: does a world record time in Boston count as a world record? To put the recent surge in perspective, ten years ago in London, recently-retired American Khalid Khannouchiran a world record 2:05:38, a time that has nose dived to just the 44th-best record-worthy run in history.
2011 was a historic year in the marathon and it all belonged to Kenya. In January of this year, the Kenyans' rivals, the Ethiopians, responded with seven sub-2:06 clockings in a single race (the 2012 Dubai Marathon), including three 2:04s. Prior to that race, in the history of the world, just six Ethiopians in history had gone sub-2:06. Dubai seemed to demonstrate that in 2012, marathoning is going to build on the momentum of the 2011.
Don't think however the Ethiopians have the edge in the Ethiopian-Kenyan battle for supremacy. The Ethiopians are contemplating dealt hands that would under normal circumstances give them a clear advantage, but like Patrick Makau zig-zaggingaway from Haile Gebrselassie's best bluffs on the streets of Berlin last fall to wrest away the Emperor's title and his world record, the Kenyans, with at least a couple more cards to be dealt before all the chips are counted under the five rings of London, hold the better hand.
While the athletes push the boundaries of athletic greatness for the next fortnight, I hope to bring the personalities behind these epic 2-hour efforts to life. Thanks to the IAAF, I met with many of the biggest players on the Kenyan world marathon stage. After watching them train, visiting their camps, speaking with them, their training partners, their managers and their coaches, I can paint a picture to help set the stage for what could be a week of explosive performances and disastrous duds, not to mention unseen surprises.
Write in or post your questions and comments, get your predictions ready, and set your clocks for some early wake-ups ... it should be a wild ride!
Up First: A Look At The Incredible Moses Mosop As He Takes To The Streets Of Rotterdam: "Moses has speed that has never been seen." Moses debuted in the marathon at 2:03:06 in Boston. His coach Renato Canova says, "Moses has speed that has never been seen."  What will happen when Moses removes his watch again and goes for broke once more versus three half marathon aces in hopes of making the Olympic team?

Home Of The Champions... Keep Reading In Part I

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mixed reactions from Uganda as Kenya strikes oil - Prosper |

Journalists at an oil site in Hoima District.
Journalists at an oil site in Hoima District. File Photo 
By Ismail Musa Ladu  (email the author)

Posted  Tuesday, April 10  2012 at  00:00
The good news that has come out of East Africa recently is the discovery of oil in northern Kenya—precisely in the northwest Turkana region. in the northwest Turkana region. And the bad news, according to economic analysts is that, should Uganda dare to delay any further the explorations and production of its oil, Kenya will certainly leap frog it.

“This is a wake call,” said Mr Gideon Badagawa, an economist and the executive director of the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), the apex body representing the interest of the private sector in Uganda.
According to Mr Badagawa, given Kenya’s shrewdness, chances are that it could move much faster in drilling her oil before Uganda begins to commercially exploit hers in the next three or four years, leaving Uganda in the dark as Kenya enjoys the limelight that comes with oil explorations and production.
“We must leave politics out of this and look at issues such as equipping Ugandans with skills and preparing people to grab the opportunities that come with oil and gas discoveries,” said Mr Badagawa.
And if this does not happen soon, he believes that Kenyans will take over the benefits that the oil discovery presents, since her people will be the most prepared when the country’s oil wells begin to flow in the next three or four years.
The National Economy committee Chairperson, Mr Stephen Biraahwa Mukitale last week, said it became apparent that it was only a matter of time before Kenya discovered her oil given her geographical links in terms of terrain with the neighbouring countries that have since discovered oil.
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He said it is important that the neighbouring countries that have discovered oil, among them Uganda, Southern Sudan, Ethiopia, DR Congo, and now Kenya, join forces rather than single handedly exploit their oil resources.

The Buliisa County Member of Parliament is also of the view that Kenya still has a long way to go. He argues that whereas Uganda is headed for production of her oil in the next few years, Kenya still has to first ascertain whether her discovered oil deposits are huge enough for commercial exploitation.

Announcing the discovery of the oil three weeks ago, President Mwai Kibaki said that the commercial viability of the oil find in the northwest Turkana region is still uncertain, although he welcomed the news, describing it as “a major breakthrough.”
However, Mr Kiraitu Murungi, Kenya’s energy minister, was quoted by Kenya’s leading newspaper, the Daily Nation, as saying that Tullow informed him that Kenya’s oil deposits could be bigger than Uganda’s, although the oil firm is reluctant to confirm that assertion, saying it is too early to determine that.
This and other voices that appear to rush or put Uganda’s exploration and production ventures under pressure should, according to the legislator not be taken serious, for it is not in the long term interest of government and its people.
“All that talk is the voices of the oil investors and their representatives, who would be so eager to exploit the country’s important resource even within five years as opposed to 25 or more,” the MP who hails from the oil rich region said.
Mr Biraahwa, also said government must guard against taking a decision that is based on the oil discovery by the neigbouring country, arguing that the talks pitting Kenya’s oil discovery against the one of Uganda are aimed at hoodwinking the government into entering short term deals with the oil investors as opposed to long term oil benefits that the country is yearning for.
He said: “The biggest challenge the government is facing now with the discovery of Kenya’s oil is striking a balance between the short term gains and long term interests of the country.”
Experts view
But, other economic analysts like Prof Augustine Nuwagaba, says the repercussions of Kenya oil discovery present a serious threat to the young but nascent oil sector in Uganda.
Speaking to Prosper, the professor said: “The discovery (of oil in Kenya) will intensify geo-politics in terms of attractiveness of the region.”
By that, Prof. Nuwagaba means that Kenya could end up being more attractive to investors as already is the case on many fronts. According to the Makerere University Professor, the country should both speed up its exploration and production before Kenya takes away the leverage Uganda has been enjoying since 2006 when it became obvious that it has huge oil deposits—to last at least two decades.
He said although, it is good news for the regional countries to discover oil, he warned that it can be potentially dangerous—in a sense that it can trigger disharmony among the EAC member states.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

South Sudan, Ethiopia sign security, development cooperation accord - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle   April 4, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) - Ethiopia and South Sudan have agreed to undertake a range of joint activities along their shared border.
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Presidents [L-R], Salva Kiir of South Sudan, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya and Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia raise their joined hands on March 2, 2012 during the ceremony of an ambitious port project in Kenya’s resort town of Lamu (GETTY)
Representatives from Ethiopia’s Gambella and South Ethiopia Nation Nationalities and Peoples state (SNNP) regions and South Sudan’s Jonglei, Upper Nile and Easter Equatoria states met in Ethiopia’s Gambela town last week to discuss ways of fostering cooperation over a broad range of interests and concerns.
Gambella state chief Umod Ubong and the Jonglei deputy governor Hussien Mar have signed the agreement.
The bordering regions of the two countries will undertake a number of development activities and will make coordinated efforts to further strengthen the ties between its people.
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Jonglei State Deputy Governor, Hussein Mar Nyot (Source:
The two sides have also agreed to work together on border security, to ensure sustainable peace and stability. They will undertake joint measures to combat armed groups which pose a threat to the security of the border regions.
David Kong Dang, deputy head of mission at the embassy of South Sudan in Addis Ababa told Sudan Tribune that the joint border commission meeting had been “fruitful”.
Dang said both delegations have agreed to control the illegal movement of people across the border by establishing immigration checkpoints at the main crossings at Gambella and Akoba on Ethiopian side and Pagak and Nasir areas on the South Sudanese side.
This is the first major joint agreement to be signed between the countries at regional level since South Sudan officially gained independence in July 2011.
In March the first Ethiopia-South Sudan Joint Ministerial Commission meeting was held in Juba with the signing of eight Memoranda of Understandings to advance economic and political ties. They covered issues including transit, communications, transport, exports education and capacity building.
A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed on a Joint Strategic Partnership aimed at promoting development, peace, security and stability in the region and Africa as a whole.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kenya’s oil success is Ethiopia’s gain

By Muluken Yewondwossen   

Successful oil discoveries in Kenya should be good news for Ethiopia given their geographical similarity, experts said. London based Tullow Oil, first found oil in Uganda’s Lake Albert Rift Basin and then extended its exploration to the East African Rift Basins of Kenya and Ethiopia in 2010.
The third quarter of 2012 will see Ethiopia’s first well drilled by Tullow after two previous wells were drilled in Kenya. The company’s exploration area is the South Omo block, south western part of the country in the Great Rift Valley. The Tullow Ethiopian office expert said, “It is highly likely the first well shall be drilled in September.”
Early last week the company announced the Ngamia-1 exploration (Kenya) has found over 20 meters of oil.
The well, located in Turkana County of Kenya Block 10BB, was drilled to an intermediate depth of 1,041 meters and has been successfully logged and sampled. Moveable oil with an API greater than 30 degrees has been recovered to the surface, according to the company.
“This oil has similar properties to the light waxy crude discovered in Uganda,” the statement clarified.
The combined acreage covers the Turkana Rift Basin which is similar in character to the Lake Albert Rift Basin and also a south-east extension of the geologically older South Sudan rift basin’s trend.
In 2010, Tullow signed an agreement with Canadian oil company, Africa Oil; to gain a 50 percent operation interest in the South Omo Block in Ethiopia. This has been complemented by the 50 percent operation interests in five adjacent Kenyan licensed areas. The Ethiopian side detailed oil exploration began a year after the Kenyan started.
The company statement indicated that the Ngamia structure is the first prospect to be tested as part of a multi-well drilling campaign in Kenya and Ethiopia. Many leads and prospects similar to Ngamia have been identified and following this discovery the outlook for further success has significantly improved.
The well will now be drilled to a depth of approximately 2,700 meters to explore for deeper potential. According to the oil company expert, the exact amount of the oil deposit will be identified after this deep drilling.
Tullow has a 50 percent operated interest in multiple licenses in the Kenya & Ethiopia Rift Basins covering in excess of 100,000 square kilometers.
The Turkana County, where the Ngamia discovery has been made, is one of seven basins mapped in Tullow’s acreage and is similar in size to the 9,000sqm Lake Albert Rift basin in Uganda.
In 2010 Vancouver based Africa Oil, bought exploration areas in Ogaden basin, Kenya and Puntland.  These concessions were previously held by Lundin Petroleum, the Swedish petroleum company. Recently the company has successfully accomplished its exploration in Puntland, part of the former Somalia, which is now a peaceful and independent state although it is not internationally recognized.