Namibia loses top African spot on press freedom index

Namibia has lost its top spot on the World Press Freedom Index of 2022 for Africa, emerging as number two.

Seychelles is now the freest country in Africa in terms of press freedom at number one, and took the 13th spot in the World Press Freedom Index, published by Reporters Without Borders.

Namibia has moved from 2021’s 24th position, claiming the 18th position for 2022 on the World Press Freedom Index.

Norway has the freest press in the world, according to the index.

Looking at the southern African region, South Africa moved from number 32 to number 35 on the global index, while taking the third position in Africa.

Botswana emerged at number 95, after being ranked 38th in 2021.

Angola occupies position number 99, from number 103 in 2021, while Zambia is 109th, after being ranked 115th in 2021.

Zimbabwe is far behind at the 137th position.

Meanwhile, North Korea has been ranked as performing the worst in terms of press freedom.

The global report comes at a time when World Press Freedom Day was celebrated by journalists worldwide on Tuesday, under the theme ‘Journalism Under Digital Siege’.

The day coincides with the signing of the Windhoek +30 Declaration.

The Namibian government says Namibia’s ranking reflects the country’s long-held commitment to ensuring that media practitioners are constitutionally guaranteed press freedom and independence.

Namibia Media Trust (NMT) chairperson Gwen Lister on her official Twitter page says she thinks Namibia would have stayed at the top in terms of being the freest press in Africa if the access to information law had been enacted and if the government spoke out on global media freedom and rights-based issues.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) says it is great for Namibia to be among the global top 20.

NMT hosted a special edition of its #FreeSpeak podcast as part of the commemoration of World Press Freedom Day.

NMT director Zoé Titus said it is important to celebrate journalists, and that it is not done enough.

Speaking at the event on Friday, Titus said journalists are on the receiving end of a great deal of abuse and threats hence it is critical to celebrate their work.

She warned that although Namibia ranks among the top in Africa in terms of press freedom, the country is not immune.

Veteran journalist Brigitte Weidlich said it is astonishing that Namibia suddenly gained six places and is at number 18 globally, only two places behind Germany, which is an industrial nation.



South Sudan kicks off plans to nationalize oil industry

South Sudan said it has kicked off plans to nationalize the country’s oil industry in the next five years.

Awou Daniel Chuang, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Petroleum told journalists in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, that the ministry has started the process of readying the oil sector to be nationalized and stop dependence on foreign help.

“When we talk about local content, we talk about maximizing the benefits and to maximize the number of people who are working in the oil industry but it does not mean it will be 100 percent, we have already reached 90 percent. For us to reach that level of nationalization, it will not take us less than five years for us to have quality engineers and quality managers, IT can take us about five years,” Daniel said.

South Sudan, whose oil fields were destroyed during the civil war, has largely employed foreign engineers to produce and export the country’s crude oil to Sudan, where it is processed and sent to the international market.

Daniel said the ministry has constructed a geological data center that will be used for training and technical operations for the institution as part of the nationalization process.

He also said the government has purchased three aircrafts to be used for geological mapping of the areas in the country and it has as well constructed a hangar at the airport to facilitate the process.

Daniel, however, noted that the country’s production of crude oil reduced by over 20,000 barrels per day over the last three years as a result of flooding in the country.

He said the South Sudan government is working with Egypt to build dykes and drenches to address the challenge of flooding.

South Sudan is the most oil-dependent nation in the world, with oil accounting for almost the totality of exports, and around 60 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), according to the World Bank.



China’s Sinosteel Cam S.A. Inks Iron Ore Deal In Cameroon

Cameroon and Sinosteel Cam S.A., a subsidiary of China’s multinational Sinosteel Corporation Ltd., yesterday, signed a convention that will enable the company to invest more than 700 million U.S. dollars, at an iron ore project in Cameroon.

Minister of Mines, Industry and Technological Development, Gabriel Dodo Ndoke and General Manager of Sinosteel Cam S.A., Zheng Zhenghao, conducted the signing, at the Congress hall in Yaounde, capital of Cameroon.

The convention concerns an integrated mining and infrastructure project, which aims at the industrial exploitation of the Lobe iron ore deposit in the region, according to a statement released by Sinosteel Cam S.A. during the signing ceremony.

It includes the development of an iron ore beneficiation plant, a pipeline of about 20 kilometres to transport the beneficiated iron ore to the terminal, an energy production unit of at least 60 megawatts for the project, and a mineral terminal to market the products on the international market, indicates the statement.

“It is ecologically sustainable and economically rewarding. Sinosteel has the technical and financial means. I want to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank our Chinese partners that are accompanying us in this project, through their international company Sinosteel, which is a great company that has experience globally. It is a great opportunity for our development. This project, soon to start, will bring a lot of opportunities to us,” Ndoke told reporters after the ceremony.

The deposit is estimated to be 632.8 million tonnes of iron ore, and Sinosteel Cam S.A. plans to extract 10 million tonnes per year, at 33 percent iron and then enrich it to produce four million tonnes of high-grade iron concentrate, at more than 60 percent iron, according to the statement.

“This project will bring an increase in income to the state, create employment directly and indirectly for Cameroonians. We will train the local people so that they could know what industrial mining is and this is also the first industrial mining project in the mining sector in this country,” Zheng said.

Sinosteel Cam S.A. estimates that at least 600 direct jobs and more than 1,000 indirect jobs will be created through the project.



Fresh $23m Abacha stole from Nigeria recovered in Britain

Britain said that it has recovered $23 million stolen from Nigeria by the country’s late military leader Sani Abacha. The recovery was done by Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

According to the NCA, the money recovered in Britain forms part of a larger pool of funds the DOJ has identified as having been misappropriated by Abacha and his associates.

“The NCA is committed to ensuring that the UK is not a safe haven for criminals to launder their proceeds of crime, and the civil recovery of assets is a powerful weapon in this fight,” Billy Beattie, Asset Denial Senior Manager at the NCA, said.

“We work closely with UK and international partners to tackle the threat posed by corruption, which disproportionately impacts the poorest and most vulnerable members of society. We are committed to ensuring that those who perpetuate corruption do not benefit from their actions.”

The recovered funds come seven years after litigation and international negotiations pursued by the NCA at the request of the DOJ. The funds will be transferred to the DOJ.

This is the latest in a series of other funds stolen by Abacha and his family, repatriated from Europe and the U.S., which the media now describes as the Abacha loot.

According to Nigeria’s The Cable, over $3.624 billion of the Abacha loot was recovered between 1998 and 2020.

In 2020, the United States Embassy in Nigeria disclosed that it had discovered $319m of cash looted by Abacha in France and the United Kingdom.

Similarly, in 2019, the government of Jersey, a self-governing dependency of the United Kingdom in the Channel Islands between England and France, seized an amount of £211 million ($267m) that belonged to the former Nigerian military dictator who died in 1998.

Abacha, who presided over a repressive government between 1993 and 1998, stole more than $1 billion from oil-rich Nigeria.