AFRICA BOILING! • Nigerian unions fight 300% energy price hike • Kenyan doctors fifth week on strike • Niger workers demand US troops out now

Nigerian workers protest demanding cheaper energy as a 300 per cent price rise is proposed

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned the government against the proposed 300 per cent hike in the electricity tariff.

On Monday, the NLC cautioned that plunging Nigerians into more hardship amidst the current hunger and hike in food prices will be disastrous.
Labour said that an additional hike in the electricity tariff – despite the near-zero electricity supply – at this critical time is not a good decision.
The union noted that with ‘Nigerians trying to survive as a result of the current economic realities requires a good government to think about addressing the immediate needs rather than embarking on an over 300 per cent hike in the electricity tariff.’
NLC acting Deputy General Secretary, Ismail Bello, reiterated the earlier call by Labour against privatisation of the sector.
He said: ‘What is happening now is reconfirmation of what we told the general public and federal government during the privatisation period that privatisation was not the solution to the problem in the sector.’
He called on the government to have a rethink on the hike, saying its implementation will further add burden on the people that have been pushed to the wall.
Bello emphasised that the increment will further push more Nigerians into poverty.
He added: ‘What Nigerians need most at this period is for the government to address the current economic realities rather than pushing them into more hardship with a further hike in the electricity tariff.
Meanwhile, The Kenya doctors’ strike entered its fifth week on Monday with no sign that it is is going to end as no agreement has been reached between the medical unions and the government.
The strike started on March 14th with medical unions such as the Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union; National Union of Nurses; National Union of Medical Laboratory Officers; Union of Clinical Officers; Union of Nutritionists and Dieticians; Union of Pharmaceutical Technologists and specialist doctors taking action.
Speaking on Monday, Abi Mwachi, chair of the Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, said that his members would not be intimidated by the police after a protest that they were holding in Nairobi was attacked.
Speaking after the rally of workers Japhet Koome, Inspector-General of the National Police Service, said: ‘The medics have become a public nuisance.
‘The medical professionals continue demonstrations without notifying the police, as per law.
‘In the interest of national security, therefore, all respective Police Commanders had been instructed to deal with such situations firmly and decisively in accordance with the law.
‘We wish to caution all doctors against infringing on the rights of others while demonstrating and that their efforts to disrupt smooth operations of hospitals will not be tolerated.’
The police chief continued: ‘We wish to assure the public that our country is safe and that the National Police Service remains committed to maintaining law and order.’
Mwachi said: ‘This disturbing development only serves to aggravate an already delicate situation in Kenya.
‘The Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union is willing to talk to the government, but they are not willing to negotiate with us.
‘They say that they cannot afford to give medical workers a pay rise.
‘The fact is that many of my members cannot afford to live.’

  • Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Niger’s capital on Saturday to demand the immediate departure of United States troops.

Last month, the Niger military government shifted its strategy by ending a military accord with the US and welcoming Russian military instructors, but US forces are still in the country.
Marching arm-in-arm through central Niamey the crowd waved Nigerien flags in a demonstration that recalled the massive anti-French protests that spurred the withdrawal of France’s forces from Niger last year after the army seized power in a coup.
One hand-written sign in English read: ‘USA rush out of Niger’, in a show of support for the military government.
As it stands, there are still over 1,000 US military in the country operating out of two bases.
Protester Maria Saley said: ‘We’re here to say no to the American bases, we don’t want Americans on our soil.’
The crowd was also heard chanting ‘Down with American imperialism!’ and ‘The people’s liberation is on the march!’
Until last year’s coup, Niger had remained a key security partner of France and the US, which used it as a base as part of international efforts to curb a decade-old rebellion in West Africa’s Sahel region.
In March, the country suspended its military agreement with the US.
The US military had some 650 personnel working in Ni in December, according to a White House report to Congress. But the Nigerien regime has said that it believes that the real figure is over 1,000.
The US military operates a major airbase in the Niger city of Agadez, some 920 kilometres (572 miles) from Niamey, using it for manned and unmanned surveillance flights and other operations.
A drone base known as Air Base 201 near Agadez was also built at a cost of more than $100 million (£80 million).
France also agreed to withdraw its troops last September in the wake of the July coup that overthrew democratically-elected President Mohamed Bazoum.
The new authorities in Niger joined military-run governments in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso in ending military deals with one-time Western allies, quitting the regional political and economic bloc ECOWAS and also fostering closer ties with Russia.
The arrival last Wednesday of Russian military instructors and equipment was further evidence of the military government’s openness to closer cooperation with Moscow which is also forging closer ties with other countries in west Africa.
Russian flags were visible at the protest.
Student Souleymane Ousmane said: ‘We will be pleased to see the back of the US and France.
‘The French and the Americans and all the other countries settled in Niger – from military cooperation, they ended up occupying large parts of our country.’
It is still unclear, however, if or when the US troops will leave.

  • Floods have killed 58 people in Tanzania over the last two weeks, spurring the East African country to seek an answer in major infrastructure projects.

The government announced the death toll late on Sunday as heavy rains continued to lash the country.
April marks the peak of Tanzania’s rainy season, but it has been exacerbated this year by the El Nino phenomenon, which has caused droughts and floods across the globe.
Tanzanian government spokesman Mobhare Matinyi said: ‘From April 1st to April 14, 2024, there were 58 deaths caused by the heavy rains, which caused flooding.
‘Serious flood effects are experienced in the coastal region where 11 people have so far died.
‘Tanzania has plans to construct 14 dams to prevent flooding in future.’
Just four months ago, at least 63 people were killed during floods in northern Tanzania that also triggered devastating landslides.
On Friday, eight schoolchildren drowned after their bus plunged into a flooded gorge in the north of the country. A volunteer in the rescue operations also died.
Overall, at least 126,831 people have been affected by the flooding.
More than 75,000 farms have been damaged in the coastal and Morogoro areas – about 200 kilometres (124 miles) west of the country’s largest city Dar-es-Salaam.
Essential supplies, including food, have been distributed to those affected.
Other parts of East Africa have also been experiencing heavy rains.
Flooding in neighbouring Kenya is reported to have killed at least 13 people and there has also been flooding in Ethiopia and Somalia.
Infrastructure has been damaged and those living in flood-prone areas are being urged to move.