A storm ran three vessels aground and cast two adrift at the Port of Durban in October © @EMERGCONTROL #ArriveAlive
A storm ran three vessels aground and cast two adrift at the Port of Durban in October © @EMERGCONTROL #ArriveAlive

Top 10 Africa stories of 2017

21 December 2017

As the year ends, we’ve listed the 10 most-read Africa stories of 2017 to give a snapshot of the issues that drew the most interest in the region. 

1. Election procurement boss fired

Kenya’s electoral commission fired Lawy Aura, its procurement director, in June, less than two months before the country’s general election. It accused him of incompetence, saying he made “operations untenable”. The elections themselves were contentious, and the first ballot was invalidated by the courts. The second vote was also contested – and marred by violence. The main opposition leader, Raila Odinga, withdrew from the race and the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta, won with 98% of votes cast on 38% turnout. Kenyatta was sworn in after the courts upheld the result.

2. Zambian president calls for fire truck procurement probe

In September a newspaper revealed 42 fire engines were bought for $42m from a firm owned by a close business associate to the president. The public outrage caused president Edgar Lungu to call for an investigation into his ties with the supplier.

3. Rwanda announces mandatory public sector e-procurement

A draft public procurement law, introduced in October, sought to make e-procurement compulsory for government institutions. It would create a single channel for all public purchases, with the aim of making the process more efficient and to support the Made in Rwanda campaign.

4. Nigerian court rules Coco-Cola products could pose health risk

A high court judge in Lagos said some Coca-Cola products, including the drinks Sprite and Fanta, contained additives that became poisonous when mixed with vitamin C. The ruling came despite local international and local regulators deeming the levels legal. 

5. Storm shuts down Port of Durban

One of Africa’s busiest ports was shut down in October after a storm tore through the Kwa-Zulu Natal region of South Africa. All cargo movement was stopped, three vessels ran aground and at lease eight people were killed.

6. Cocoa producers band together to fight price collapse

After an emergency meeting held after the price of cocoa suddenly collapsed in April, the International Cocoa Organisation agreed to coordinate production to control supply. Cocoa futures in New York had fallen by more than 40% over the previous year amid a glut caused by bumper harvests in West Africa.

7. Ghana to train all government ministries in procurement

The minister of finance said the country would organise procurement training for all heads of ministries, departments and agencies in his budget statement in November. Ken Ofori-Atta also said the newly formed Office of the Minister for Public Procurement had visited all high spending entities to advocate for single sourcing to be used sparingly. This year also saw CIPS being awarded professional body status, making it the official representation of the procurement and supply chain profession in Ghana.

8. SA Parliament terminates KMPG

KPMG became one of the largest international firms to become embroiled in the ongoing scandal surrounding president Jacob Zuma’s relationship with the Gupta family when the South African Parliament announced it had ended contracts with the company. The financial services firm had audited a number of the Gupta’s businesses and reportedly missed red flags that should have been acted upon. The Guptas have been accused of using their personal friendship with the president as leverage for public contracts. While Zuma is still president, the ruling ANC party elected Cyril Ramaphosa as its new leader this week. Ramaphosa, who has pledged to fight corruption, is in a strong position to become the new president in 2019.

9. Zimbabwe pins tourism hopes on $150m airport upgrade

The country hopes improvement to Victoria Falls airport, funded by the Exim Bank of China, will help pull in more tourists. The falls, considered one of the natural wonders of the world, straddles the border between Zimbabwe and neighbouring Zambia, and the expansion is part of an ongoing rivalry between the two countries to attract visitors. This year also saw the removal of Robert Mugabe as president of Zimbabwe. The 37-year incumbent was replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwe after a military coup in November.

10. Inquiry launched into ‘maizegate’

A commission of inquiry was launched in Malawi in January over the procurement of maize from Zambia. It emerged the state-owned Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation had bought maize from the Zambian private sector and not the Zambian government. The inquiry eventually found that the $34.5m procurement flouted procedures and recommended that Malawi refer it to the country’s Anti-Corruption Bureau.

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