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CEO of MTN Uganda deported over “national security”

In a statement, MTN confirmed the deportation but said the company was not aware of the reasons for the move

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Uganda has deported the Belgian head of South African telecoms giant MTN’s local branch, the company said Friday, making him the fourth employee to be kicked out of the country this year.

Police spokesman Fred Enanga said that MTN Uganda’s chief executive Wim Vanhelleputte had been deported on Thursday night “over national security”.

In statement issued on Friday MTN confirmed the deportation but said the company was not aware of the reasons for the move. 

“MTN has not been notified of the grounds for the deportation and is working hard to establish precise reasons for the deportation,” said MTN Uganda’s communications manager Valery Okecho. 

“We are understandably concerned about these developments and are engaging with the authorities to seek understanding that would lead us to resolving this matter.”

Vanhelleputte had been in the role of CEO since July 2016 at the Uganda branch of MTN, which operates in 22 African countries.

In January, Uganda deported three senior MTN executives accusing the employees of using their positions to “compromise national security.” 

Marketing chief Olivier Prentout, a French national, Annie Bilenge-Tabura, a Rwandan who was head of sales and distribution, and MTN Uganda’s general manager, Elsa Mussolini, an Italian, were thrown out of the country after being questioned by security agencies. 

At the time the police spokesman told AFP that Mussolini was questioned on “incitement to violence” without giving further details. 

The expulsion of a Rwandan national raised questions about whether the move was linked to on-going tensions between the East African neighbours who have regularly traded accusations of espionage. 

Days after the trio were deported Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni met Rob Souter, MTN’s chief executive, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos where the pair discussed the Ugandan telecoms market.

Following the meeting Museveni accused MTN of under-declaring call volumes to avoid tax and called for shares in the company to be floated on the Ugandan stock exchange or transferred to the national social security fund “to allow for local ownership.”

MTN Uganda is currently operating under an interim licence after its 20-year licence expired last year.

Last July, MTN said armed men claiming to be from Uganda’s Internal Security Organisation “kidnapped” two of its contractors and forced them to open up the company’s main data centre, where they made an unsuccessful attempt to access servers. 

MTN Uganda said at the time that it took the “criminal incident” seriously and had reported it to the authorities. MTN Uganda added it didn’t believe it was under investigation. 

MTN Uganda said that Gordian Kyomukama, currently chief technology officer, had been appointed acting chief executive on Friday “to ensure business continuity”.

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Zimbabwe’s business community calls for economic reform

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had initiated a massive protest against worsening economic conditions

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Zimbabwe’s business community calls for economic reform
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

The Zimbabwe business community has called on its government to urgently address ordinary people’s concerns in order to avoid continuous loss of production time through protest shutdowns.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had initiated a massive protest in central Harare to express growing impatience with the government’s failure to remedy a deepening economic crisis that has pushed many to the edge.

The government, however, insists that the pain caused by its tough policy measures was necessary for an economy which is reeling from decades of mismanagement under former President, Robert Mugabe.

Police moved on Thursday to impose an unpopular ban on the demonstration, setting the stage for ugly clashes with MDC followers.

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Nigeria’s state oil firm awards crude oil swap deals to 15 firms

The awarded oil firms include Vitol, Trafigura, oil major, BP and local downstream companies

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Nigeria's state oil firm awards crude oil swap deals to 15 firms
NNPC Towers, headquarters of Nigeria's state oil firm in Abuja, Nigeria. (File photo)

Nigerian state oil company, NNPC, has announced that 15 companies have won the right to swap the country’s crude oil for fuels, following a tender for the deals.

About 132 companies made a bid for the deals. The tender for the one-year contracts effective from the 1st of October and dubbed direct sale, direct-purchase (DSDP), was issued in March.

Nigeria is almost entirely reliant on imported fuel due to years of neglect at its own refineries.

It has leaned heavily on the swap arrangements to get fuel, particularly gasoline, as other would-be importers struggle to make money due to price caps.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation says the companies that won the bids are made up of a consortium of 15 companies including Vitol, Trafigura, oil major, BP and local downstream companies.

Since the scheme’s inception in 2016, replacing a program that paid subsidies to importers, the NNPC has said it had saved the country $2.2 billion and supplied some 90 per cent of its import requirements.

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Zambia rejects donor aid amid its worst drought

The government says it has enough corn, the country’s staple food, to last until the next season and won’t need to import

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Zambia declines donor aid amid its worst drought
(File photo)

Zambia is experiencing its worst drought since 1981, but its government insists that a state of national emergency will not be declared.

Neither will donor assistance be accepted. A Southern Africa Development Community report last month, forecast 2.3 million Zambians will be food-insecure by March after large parts of the southern and western areas of the country received the lowest rainfall since 1981.

Over the same period, the report forecast Zambia will experience an 888,000-ton cereal deficit.

The Zambian government says it has enough corn, the country’s staple food, to last until the next season and won’t need to import.

Retail prices for the cornflour that Zambians consume mostly are already the highest since at least, 2003, according to data from the national statistics agency.

In July, prices were 41 per cent higher than the same time last year, helping to push inflation to 8.8 per cent, the highest since November 2016.

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