: African press review 31 December 2015

First to South Africa, where microcredit solutions are being accused of causing poverty. A few years ago, microcredit was seen as a solution for development in developing countries, but according to a story in The Mail and Guardian by economist Milford Bateman, microcredit is to blame for a “major economic disaster”.

Instead of dealing with poverty and unemployment in the black community, microcredit “didn’t create sustainable jobs, nor did it raise incomes in the poorest communities” writes Bateman.

What happened, says the economist, is that South Africa saw a fall in average incomes in the informal economy in the last 15 years. Bateman argues that “the microcredit movement helped plunge large numbers of black South African’s into deeper debt, poverty and insecurity”.

And that at the same time, “a tiny white elite became extremely rich by supplying large amounts of microcredit to black South Africans”.

But what is needed, says Bateman is not the financing of micro companies – it’s the development of “the financial system’s ability to intermediate financial resources into growth oriented enterprises.”

On the topic of the economy, Nigerians don’t seem to be too happy about a new reduction in the price of petrol according to today’s Vanguard.

Petrol will now sell at 86.50 nairas a litre, says the newspaper, compared to 87 previously and 97 at the beginning of this year. If it doesn’t seem like much, that’s because it isn’t: 87 nairas equals 0.40 euros and 86: 0.39 euros.

“The remedy is for government to deregulate the energy industry fully and allow prices of petroleum products to be determined by market forces,” one expert told the newspaper.

“The reduction is too small and relatively insignificant to get the attention and praise of the average Nigerian” said another.

What seems to be the consensus here is that the reduction is a politically motivated move from the government – and one that will probably go unnoticed at that.

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have finally signed an agreement regarding a dam project says The Egypt Independent.

Earlier this week, the three countries signed a “declaration of principles setting guidelines for resolving disgreements related to Ethiopia’s Grande Renaissance Dam project”.

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This is a new step in a longstanding row over the Nile River waters. Egypt and Sudan both fear that the dam project might diminish their water supply. “Cairo is almost entirely dependent on the Blue Nile” notes the newspaper.

And while this agreement is good news for the region, it’s also good news for France.

“France’s Artelia and BRL groups have both been selected to do the work” explains The East African.

Dossier: Sharia wars – Boko Haram v the military in northern Nigeria

Finally, the Kenyan Standard has a story on how mothers are fighting racism with… names. The newspaper decided to report on mothers struggling to find a name for their newborn babies.

“As is common in the country today, some names are associated with tribes and people have been keen on identifying other people’s tribes by their names” writes The Standard.

What better solution, then, to fight prejudice, than by giving your baby a tribal name says one mother.

“I have decided to name my baby Santa Roby Aaron Sam” says Jakoyo. I have been a victim of ethnic profiling and would not wish to have my children face the same torment”.

But “according to the Luo Council of Elders Chair Ker Opiyo Otondi, the move to avoid ethnic names is likely to erode the African culture” writes the newspaper.

Plus, as Kisumu human rights activist Betty Okero points out, birthplace is indicated on idendity card – which means it’s easy to find out one’s ethnic background.

I guess that people who want to discriminate will always find a good reason to do so…

Source: rfi afrique