South African Prisons

Prisons in South Africa are run by the Department of Correctional Services. According to the ministry, there are approximately 34,000 employees of the department running 240 prisons. In those prisons are nearly 156,000 inmates as of August 2013. The prisons include minimum, medium and maximum security facilities. Since 2012, the Minister of Correctional Services has been S’bu Ndebele.

The latest available prisoner statistics from across the world shows which country has the largest prison population – and where South Africa fits into the picture. According to the World Prison Brief by the Institute for Criminal Policy Research, South Africa has a total prisoner population of 159,241 people as of March 2015 – including pre-trial detainees. This represents the 11th highest prisoner population in the world in terms of sheer numbers, but only 35th (out of 222 regions) with 292 prisoners per 100,000 people.

The United States tops the rankings globally, with 2.2 million prisoners in its criminal justice system. The US figures include 731,200 people in local jails, as well as 1.48 milllion people in state or federal prisons. The USA has 4,575 confinement facilities with an official holding capacity of 2,157,769. China has the second highest prison population in the world, with 1.65 million prisoners, followed by Russia with 644,700 prisoners.

San Marino – a ‘micro-state’ surrounded by Italy has only two prisoners (out of a population of 33,700), the lowest figure in the world, ahead of Liechtenstein, with seven prisoners out of a population of 37,130. San Marino also has the lowest prisoner rate in the world, at 6 per 100,000 people.

While the USA has the biggest prisoner population in the world, the Seychelles, with a population of 92,000 trumps the USA for the highest rate of prisoners, with 799 per 100,000. The USA is still rated second, however, with 698 prisoners per 100,000 people. According to the Seychelles News Agency, the majority of nearly 800 inmates are incarcerated in the main Montagne Posée Prison, some 500 of them. The remaining are either in the Open prison on Coetivy island, 290 kilometres south of the main island of Mahé, which is for the rehabilitation of prisoners or in the prison where drug traffickers, sexual offenders and refractory prisoners are incarcerated, on Marie-Louise, an outer island of the Seychelles.

More than 400,000 US inmates are awaiting trial,  while more than 166,000 inmates are incarcerated for murder, 95,000 for sexual assault, and 70,000 for rape.

The United Nations Human Rights Council’s report on South Africa has painted a grim picture of the country’s prisons. The committee on South Africa reported a slew of factors contributing to poor conditions at state detention centres. “The committee is concerned at poor conditions of detention in some of the state’s prisons, particularly with respect to overcrowding, dilapidated infrastructures, unsanitary conditions, inadequate food, lack of exercise, poor ventilation, and limited access to health services,” it read.

“The committee notes with concern the conditions of detention in the two super-maximum security prisons and the segregation measures imposed, for instance in Ebongweni super-maximum prison, where prisoners are locked up 23 hours a day for a minimum period of six months.”  The committee recommended that the state take drastic steps to reduce overcrowding and ensure that detainees were treated with dignity. “Ensure that de facto solitary confinement measures, including segregation, are used only in the most exceptional circumstances and for strictly limited periods of a short duration,” it said. The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) said overcrowding and understaffing in prisons remained an issue.

“This is a challenge on ablution facilities, the rising levels of violence among inmates and in ensuring the very objective of rehabilitating inmates, with a view of reintegrating them back into society,” Popcru said. “Various studies indicate that approximately 85% to 94% of prisoners in South Africa re-offend after their release, which means the current system of rehabilitation needs to urgently be redefined. “Due to very little technical and life skills of the inmates, survival outside of the prison environment becomes very difficult and many tend to re-offend because in their view life is easier in prison.”

What’s life like in a South African prison?

A stuffy, overcrowded cell. At times, two or three men to a single bunk. Lockdown for 23 out of 24 hours. Is this what awaits South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius if he is found guilty of premeditated murder in the death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamplast year? Some of South Africa’s prisons are better than others. But whichever one might house Pistorius, there’s no question that conditions would be a far cry from those in his $560,000 home in the luxury Silverwoods Estate, on the outskirts of Pretoria.

South African prisons are frequently overcrowded, putting a strain on sanitation, ventilation and medical care, according to Nooshin Erfani-Ghadimi, project coordinator for the Johannesburg-based Wits Justice Project , a civil society group. The overcrowding means three men may share a single cell, or communal cells for 40 people are jammed with double the number they were intended to hold, with men sleeping in double or triple bunks, she said. “We heard of one person who for the first year in remand detention slept on the floor and then ‘graduated’ to a bunk,” she said. Remand is the term used for pretrial custody. Many inmates are kept locked up for 23 hours a day, with only an hour outside their cell. Some prisons go into lockdown as early as 3 or 4 p.m., leaving prisoners cooped up for 12 hours or more at a stretch.

“It’s not a pretty picture,” Erfani-Ghadimi said.

Overcrowding is a particular problem in remand prisons, where it runs at just over 200%, she said, citing figures from the Department of Correctional Services. Overall, overcrowding in prisons stands at about 133%.

Special treatment?

The track star’s high-profile case has put South Africa’s criminal justice system under the spotlight. Observers asked why Pistorius, a gold medal-winning Paralympian, was detained in a holding cell at the Brooklyn Police Station after Steenkamp’s death last February — and not at Central Prison or Newlock, where other defendants awaiting trial are kept.

“If there is some special circumstance that permits this, authorities must share this with the public as they are setting a bad precedent,” the women’s branch of South Africa’s ruling party said in a prepared statement. “All should be treated equally before the law no matter your standing in society.”

Pistorius got special treatment, the African National Congress Women’s League said, adding that his family was able to see him outside visiting hours — unlike relatives of other inmates.

The 27-year-old has rejected the murder allegation “in the strongest terms,” his agent said in a statement.

Pistorius’ lawyers requested Brooklyn so that they could have access to their client over the weekend, following his arrest on Valentine’s Day in 2013. The state did not object.

The case of Shrien Dewani, a British man accused of hiring hitmen to kill his wife on their South African honeymoon, also cast the country’s criminal justice system in an unflattering light. His lawyers argued in 2012 that his extradition would breach his human rights under European law because he risked being attacked by other inmates in South African prisons.

While British High Court judges dismissed that part of Dewani’s argument — and last month ruled that he can be extradited to South Africa to stand trial — concerns about potential torture and abuse in detention are warranted, Erfani-Ghadimi said.

South Africa is a signatory to the U.N. Convention on Torture, but it has yet to ratify it, so such abuses have not been criminalized.

“A legacy of apartheid is that prison cells are still unfortunately a place where prisoners can be abused,” Erfani-Ghadimi said.

Amnesty International’s Annual Report 2012, which looked at human rights around the world, also said that a draft law to make torture a criminal offense had not been presented in South Africa’s parliament by the end of the year.

Human dignity

Nevertheless, said Erfani-Ghadimi, the problem doesn’t lie in South Africa’s laws so much as in the ability of the justice system to cope with the number of inmates in the system.

South Africa’s constitution and its bill of rights, with regard to prisoners’ rights, are among the best in the world, she said. “Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily translate into practice.”

She says she thinks conditions are improving, however, thanks in part to the strength of those constitutional rights and the work of civil society organizations campaigning for change.

And Pistorius, if he is eventually convicted and jailed, should find that his particular medical needs as a double amputee are taken into account, she said.

This could mean that he is sent to a prison with better medical facilities or wheelchair access, she suggested.

According to the bill of rights, prisoners are entitled to “be detained in conditions that are consistent with human dignity, including at least exercise and the provision, at state expense, of adequate accommodation, nutrition, medical treatment.”

Correctional Services Department spokesman Koos Gerber said South Africa’s detention facilities, whether for remand prisoners or those serving prison terms, “can accommodate people with any disabilities.”

“We have a general problem of overcrowding but we have learned to live with it,” said Gerber, adding that extra bunks have been added to make sure all remand prisoners have a bed. Hospital facilities are also available at all times, he said.

According to official figures for 2011 to 2012, there were 158,790 prison inmates in South Africa, a nation of nearly 52 million, of whom about 30% were on remand awaiting trial.

This compares with about 2.2 million people in prisons or jails in the United States at the end of 2011, according to U.S. Department of Justice figures. Crowding in U.S. prisons stood at 39% over capacity in 2011, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

Long wait for trial

Erfani-Ghadimi blames systemic problems for South Africa’s overcrowding. One issue is that police are quick to arrest people, she said, and they have only 48 hours from arrest to bring charges.

After they are charged, many suspects cannot afford to make bail or hire a lawyer and so are forced to spend months or even years behind bars awaiting trial, she said.

Investigations are often poorly run and courtrooms can be overcrowded, adding to the hurdles faced by those on remand, she said.

“Because the system is cumbersome and slow, there’s a lot of people stuck waiting — and that means the conditions are not by any means ideal,” she added.

A “statement of agreed factual findings” filed in a Constitutional Court ruling in December, in favor of a man who contracted tuberculosis while imprisoned, gives insight into what could lie ahead for Pistorius.

The statement describes the conditions Dudley Lee endured in Cape Town’s Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison — where Nelson Mandela was once held — before he was eventually acquitted and freed.

Prisoners going to court appearances were “stuffed into vans like sardines,” it said. Holding cells at court were also “jam-packed.” Meanwhile, conditions back at the prison were far from pleasant — though ideal for the spread of disease.

Packed, smoky cells

The air inside the communal cells, locked down without cross-ventilation for up to 15 hours a day, was thick with cigarette smoke, the statement said. Even after Lee was diagnosed with TB, he was kept in a cell with other prisoners. He “begged, bullied and bribed” to get the medication he needed.

As a world-famous athlete, Pistorius has money to pay for good defense attorneys, unlike many in the South African justice system. He stated his annual income was 5.6 million rand ($631,000) at his bail hearing in February of last year.

A Pretoria magistrate granted Pistorius bail and he walked free on bond eight days after the shooting death of his girlfriend. But if convicted of premeditated murder, he would face 25 years in prison before being eligible for parole.

His lawyers will be trying to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Inside South Africa’s brutal prisons: ‘If I didn’t join a gang I’d have been raped’

On his first day in one of South Africa’s notorious Western Cape prisons, 16-year-old Ivor Swartz knew his only choice for survival was to join one of the brutal prison gangs that ruled the correctional centres. “If I didn’t join a gang very quickly, there’s a good chance I would have been raped in the first few days,” said Ivor. The choice he made would define the rest of his time in jail.

Ivor grew up in Grabouw, a small, quiet town in Western Cape, South Africa, known for growing apples and not much else. He had an upbringing typical of his area; poor, rife with street-violence and fatherless homes. Ivor’s father died when he was young so his older brother, Dion, took charge of the house. He was a tough man made hard by life in Grabouw. He was abusive to his family and drank heavily. “If I tell you he was monster, that’s a real understatement” said Ivor.
At 14 and unwilling to live under his brother’s rule, Ivor took to the streets. There, he befriended a group of young men under similar circumstances to his; from divorced families, broken homes and runaways. “The way we formed a group was simply because we shared our suffering. Our suffering pushed us to the street and brought us together,” he said.

The group shared their first drinks, first drugs, and even first burglary together. At 16 Ivor also became a father for the first time. Together the group assaulted people on the streets of Cape Town, taking their phones and wallets. They stole from people’s homes and smashed car windows, taking whatever may be valuable. With extreme overcrowding, sparse budget, and new prisoners pouring in every day, it seems prison warders have little to do but keep the prisoners contained and allow, to a degree, the running of the gang system.

Ivor’s gang shared a gun between them. It was a 38 calibre handgun that had been tossed on a fire by a previous owner on the run from the police. Someone had taped bright red duct tape to repair the handle: “I don’t know why we chose red because that made it look fake!” says Ivor, laughing and shaking his head. “But that gave us a bit of power to rob people on the street.”

One fateful night, Ivor and two friends entered a house while the home-owner was asleep inside. They held her at gun-point and took her TV and other belongings. Later that year, the surviving home-owner recognised Ivor in a line-up and he was arrested for the break-in. His fingerprints were found at that scene and later linked to another case of robbery in the area. Ivor was collectively sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison for the burglary charges. From ages 16 to 21 he would be behind bars. Ivor quickly associated with a gang, knowing full well it was his best chance for survival. He was alone, having left his family; and without access to money, joining a gang meant he had access to food, a bed and social interaction to pass the time.

There are around 240 prisons in South Africa, 42 of those are in the Western Cape housing nearly 30,000 prisoners. But these statistics don’t take into account criminals who were serving other kinds of sentences or have been released on bail. Ivor estimates around 80% of those prisoners in the Western Cape are gang members. There are hand signals for each gang; 26 is two thumbs up, 27 is thumbs up and index fingers pointing toward the horizon and 28 is thumbs up, index and middle finger together and pointing forward.

In these prisons there are three well-known gangs; 26s, 27s and 28s. Collectively known as the numbers gangs, they are notorious around the world. In stories, the history of the gangs goes back to 1812. “We don’t know if that is true but that’s the history and each gang must know their history” says Ivor. A history which changes depending on who speaks of it. The gangs are ranked much like the South African military service, from generals to privates, and run like a rookie military too. It’s rumoured the three gangs all originate from bands of fugitives that plagued late 19th and early 20th-century Johannesburg.

The numbers gangs were chiefly inspired by one bandit in particular, Nongoloza Mathebula, and his band of quasi-military outlaws. Some might remember him as an African version of Robin Hood, taking from the victors of South Africa’s colonial order and giving to the downtrodden victims.

The sole impetus of a 26 gang member is money and getting it by any means possible. As Ivor had spent much of his youth on the street hustling, the ideals, social order and code of conduct resonated. Violence was secondary to the goal of collecting cash so Ivor quickly associated with the 26s – known as the least brutal of the three gangs. The 26 gang has a strict membership policy and doesn’t allow anyone to join their gang who has been raped, snitched on anyone, or has any physical defects. A 26 candidate should be in good health, willing and able to fight for one’s camp.

28s, on the other hand, show no discrimination; a contributing factor to why it’s the largest known prison gang in South Africa. A 27s focus is drawing blood, particularly from a prison warder, a sure way to climb the ranks as a 27 member. Stabbings of prison warders are reported frequently, yet subtly, in South African news. Little is said about what encourages the attacks; supporting Ivor’s belief that the prison officials hope to conceal the numbers gangs’ true reign on the prisons.

There are two lines of the 28s – those that choose to climb the ranks by sodomising other prisoners and those who choose to stab warders. The 26s and 28s don’t get along and their animosity frequently descends into violence.

Igor Swartz

There are hand signals for each gang; 26 is two thumbs up, 27 is thumbs up and index fingers pointing toward the horizon and 28 is thumbs up, index and middle finger together and pointing forward. There is a slight distinction in the two signs for the sections of the 28’s. The ‘sodomy 28’s’ hold their index and middle fingers together when holding up their signs and the blood 28’s hold them apart.

The numbers gang system is an intricate social structure with its own language, codes of conduct and rules every member must adhere to. However, the system works only in the construct of prison. A high-ranking 27 from Pollsmoor Prison, inked to the ears, means nothing on the streets of Cape Town.

It doesn’t take long to get the picture that the numbers gangs run the prison. Uncontrollable prisoners make for very bad PR and the easiest way to maintain an illusion of control is to allow gang members to quietly maintain order. Ivor believes fighting against the gang system in prison will only lead to violent uproar and protest from the prisoners. With extreme overcrowding, sparse budget, and new prisoners pouring in every day, it seems prison warders have little to do but keep the prisoners contained and allow, to a degree, the running of the gang system.

The golden rule in prison? The fastest live the longest. “If you don’t stab first, you will get stabbed. That’s how we lived, every day,” says Ivor. The fight between will power and social pressure is an age-old battle and Ivor wasn’t always on the right side.

Ivor was released in December 2005 after serving his time. “Not a single minute of solitary confinement was as lonely and scary as that first day out.” Ivor recalls.

Sadly, not many prisoners make it past two months of being free. “Your gang becomes your family, what you live for,” says Ivor. Prisoners are so conditioned by the prison system, into their gang network and way of life that the outside world makes little sense anymore and their freedom becomes a new cage.

“Life is better in prison than on the outside, especially if you belong to a gang” says Ivor. “You’re respected, guaranteed a bed, blankets, food and a sense of community. Those things don’t come easily when you’re on your own on the outside.”

Ivor has been out of prison for 11 years. He is now a youth pastor working at St Paul’s United Church in Johannesburg. He thoroughly enjoys his work and is excited about his prospects at the church. “The church saw value in me and spoke worth into my life.” He admits he never pictured himself doing what he does, but now that he’s found God and helping to mould young minds, Ivor wouldn’t have it any other way.

More than 4,000 inmates will be evacuated from a South African jail after two inmates died from a rat-related disease due to “overcrowding” and “inhumane” conditions. The two inmates died last week from leptospirosis – a disease carried in rat urine.

Manelisi Wolela, a spokesperson for the department of correctional services responsible for the Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison outside Cape Town told news service Al Jazeera that an estimated “4,100 detainees” had been evacuated from the facility to prevent further spreading of the disease. The evacuation is expected to take between 6-8 weeks.


Survivors of prisoner rape tell their stories for the first time

Most of us have never heard about the horror of prisoner rape from someone who has survived it, and whose life was changed forever as a result. Most of us have not heard that much about prisoner rape at all.

These stories are told by three exceptionally brave men who have come forward to talk about surviving rape in South Africa’s prisons. Vincent*, Francois and Thabo* decided to help bring prisoner rape out of the shadows, and raise public awareness about this widespread violation of fundamental human rights. These are the first South African survivors of prisoner rape to tell their stories in this way.

The exact extent of rape in prison is unknown, but nearly half of all inmates surveyed by the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services reported that sexual abuse happens “sometimes”, “often” or “very often”. Sexual violence in prisons is linked to gang violence and its power structures, and inmates who are sexually abused are targets for repeated abuse, and usually are victimized again and again.

Reports estimate that a quarter of the inmate population has HIV. Rape creates a high risk for HIV transmission between inmates, inmates and officials, and the communities to which inmates return.

In 2013 the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) adopted the Policy to Address the Sexual Abuse of Inmates In DCS facilities. This was a historic and important first step towards ending prisoner rape in South Africa, but little progress has been made on its implementation: much work lies ahead to ensure that inmates benefit from the policy. But it is possible. The majority of sexual abuses can be prevented.

With greater awareness, we can all play a role in this, and in supporting survivors of this violence. These stories are the first of their kind in South Africa, and underscore the urgent need for action.

Vincent: I Have A Purpose

Vincent was raped by two gang members in an overcrowded cell in a Western Cape remand detention facility. This was his very first sexual experience. Vincent asked for help from nurses, wardens, priests, social workers, and even a magistrate who all rejected him and told him to expect this treatment in prison. He only received medical attention three years after he was raped when he was sentenced, and learned he was HIV-positive. Vincent calls on the Department of Correctional Services to stop this from happening to others, and encourages survivors to speak up. Vincent feels stronger than before, and says “I know I have a purpose in this life”.

Francois: I’m A Survivor

Francois was violently raped twice in an Eastern Cape correctional centre, once at knife-point, and another on Valentine’s Day. He reported the rapes to the warders, but never received counseling or support. In despair, Francois attempted suicide. After being released, he sued the Department of Correctional Services, and after 10 years he accepted a settlement offer based on the promise that they would take action to stop inmates from being raped. When nothing changed, Francois decided to tell his story. Francois encourages other survivors to seek help and says “I know I can make it because I’m a survivor”.

Thabo: My Story, 21 Years Old

Thabo went to prison when he was just 21 years old and was repeatedly raped during the decade he spent behind bars. Thabo attempted suicide but was not successful, unlike three other inmates he knew who were raped then took their own lives. Experiencing serious trauma and shame, Thabo struggles to interact with people. He says he came back from prison with a lesson and an illness (HIV). The biggest weight he has carried is that nobody in his family knows what happened to him. He urges youth to stay away from crime so that “unlike me, you can reach your dreams”.

“The [department] committed itself to reduce the level of overcrowding by at least 2% per annum in order to comply with the constitutional requirement to detain inmates under humane conditions.”

Ndebele said correctional services had managed to reduce overcrowding in prisons from 38% in 2007/08, “to 28% as on 30 July [this year]”.


No one has escaped from South Africa’s most secure prison, C-Max in Kokstad, an eerie world of solid barriers, security cameras and handcuffed prisoners in single cells.


The corridors are deadly quiet, apart from the footsteps of warders and the occasional sound of a prisoner talking, moaning or even grumbling in his cell.

In this eerie silence, South Africa’s own Houdini – serial escape artist Ananias Mathe – got to work.

Using pieces of metal taken from his cell door, he chipped away at the wall. Before the guards did their nightly inspection, he used a home-made paste to cover up his handiwork. It is a similar colour to the off-white paint, so the guards did not notice.

Day after day, Mathe, 38, chipped away at the wall, trying to make a hole.

This continued until, one day, a guard noticed what he was up to. Mathe was immediately moved to the cell next door, and his brazen bid for freedom – in the form of a 33cm cut in the wall – was brought to an abrupt end.

But even if Mathe had escaped from his cell, he would have found himself inside that quiet corridor, and into the waiting arms of warders, who would have picked him up on one of the hundreds of CCTV cameras installed across the prison.

This is the reality of the eBongweni C-Max Prison in Kokstad. There is, quite simply, no getting out.

Even if Mathe had slipped past those guards and cameras undetected, he would have been confronted with about a dozen electronic gates and doors that are opened and closed from a central command centre in the bowels of the building.

Had he managed to get through and outside the building itself, he would have had to sneak past other guards and over three barbed wire fences.

Then, and only then, would he have caught a first glimpse of freedom – but he would still have had to make his way out of the guarded and fenced prison ground itself before truly tasting freedom.

The Sunday Times was taken on a tour of the “super-maximum security” prison, which is home to 1203 of South Africa’s most dangerous and violent prisoners.

The prison, officials said this week, was so escape-proof that Mathe’s breakout bid in September 2013 was the only attempt in the facility’s 13-year history.

“eBongweni is the symbol of no escape – not only in KwaZulu-Natal but across the country,” said regional commissioner Mnikelwa Nxele.

The C-Max in Kokstad – which was built in 2002 at a cost of R450-million – is home not only to South Africa’s most violent criminals, but also those considered too problematic to be at other correctional centres.

“Some of the offenders are here simply because of the violent nature and seriousness of their crimes. But some are brought here because they have shown behavioural problems,” said Nxele.

Mathe was one of those, having escaped from two maximum security prisons in the past.

From the outside, the red face-brick prison looks like any other jail.

It has typically high walls, three layers of fencing and a raft of CCTV cameras ensuring that every inch of the perimeter is covered at all times.

Inside, it is completely different.

The cement corridors are dull and lifeless. Every step and word echoes off the plain white walls. The clanging of the remote-controlled gates and shutters reverberates as one moves through the various sections. And it is cold. Extractor fans ensure that the temperature is never above the low 20s.

Inmates stay in single cells, never getting a look at the others because all the doors face the same direction. Each cell has a stainless steel basin and toilet, a thin mattress on a cement block, and a desk.

The walls are solid concrete, and the door is solid steel with a shoebox-size slot that food gets passed through.

Everything that Mathe and the other inmates see for 23 hours of their day is through this small slot.

There is no TV, no communal lounge, dining room or recreational area. Everything the prisoners do, they do alone. And when they do leave their cells – never for more than one hour a day – they are handcuffed and there is a warder right alongside them.

As we walked into the cell block Mathe stays in, which is made up of two banks of five cells on top of each other, prisoners immediately stuck their heads out of the slots in their doors to see what was going on. Prisoners on the upper level, who could not see the activity on the lower level, shouted out, trying to find out what was happening.

Nxele said: “Across the country, there is nothing else like this. It was designed with stringent security in mind, knowing that this is our centre of last resort.

“You cannot allow a situation where somebody who has raped and killed 55 women is seen to be enjoying prison luxuries. There is nothing like that here, OK?”

No prisoner ever goes from C-Max straight back into society. They go to other prisons first.

“Nobody wants to be here. It’s not a nice place to be.”

Who’s who behind the bars in C-Max

Ebongweni C-Max Prison is 5km outside Kokstad, a small town on the border of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. It is perched on a hill, clearly visible as you drive along the road towards Matatiele.

A total of 1203 of South Africa’s most hardened criminals – guarded by 322 “discipline members” – are jailed here under three categories:

Phase 1: Most hardened/ hardcore criminals. They are kept under strict guard and have no interaction with other prisoners.
Phase 2: The rules are still strict, but these prisoners are allowed greater interaction with other inmates.
Phase 3:Prisoners begin to receive education on how to engage with other prisoners; after this stage, they will be transferred to other prisons.
Current and former inmates at C-Max in Kokstad are:

Thozamile Taki:the “Sugarcane Murderer”, convicted in 2010 of 13 killings. He got a life sentence for each of the murders, as well as 208 years for robbery, and was ordered to serve them at C-Max Kokstad;

Sibusiso “Tilili” Mzimela: a well-known gangster from Umlazi, Durban. A modern-day Houdini, Mzimela has escaped from police and prison custody nine times. He was sentenced to 89 years in prison in 2011, and was sent to C-Max because of his history of breakouts;

Henry Okah: a Nigerian national, Okah was sentenced to 24 years in prison in January 2013 on 13 counts of terrorism, including engaging in terrorist activities, conspiracy to engage in terrorist activities, and delivering, placing, and detonating an explosive device. It related to two bombings in Abuja, Nigeria, in early 2010. He was arrested in South Africa in October that year, at which time he also made threats against the South African government – for which he was sentenced to 13 years;

Sandile Goniwe: he was given a 25-year sentence after a 2008 robbery in Butterworth in the Eastern Cape. One security guard was killed and 20 firearms were stolen in the robbery;

Mongezi Samuel Jingxela: formerly of Meadowlands, Soweto, he received multiple life sentences for a string of rapes, assaults, robberies and kidnappings in the early 2000s. Jingxela ultimately faced 261 charges – including 71 of rape, 64 of kidnapping, 62 of aggravated robbery and 61 of assault – and was convicted on 229 of these in December 2007; and

Christoff Becker: one of the “Waterkloof Four”, Becker was sent to C-Max after a video of him and fellow inmate Frikkie du Preez drinking alcohol and partying in their cell at Kgosi Mampuru II Prison in Pretoria surfaced just after they were released on parole. As a result, their parole was cancelled and they were ordered back behind bars in Pretoria. But Becker was then caught with a cellphone and transferred to Kokstad in April last year. He has since been released on parole again. The “Waterkloof Four” were convicted of the 2001 murder of a homeless man in Waterkloof, Pretoria.


Meet the inspirational female entrepreneurs of Indego Africa Leadership Academy

This blog comes to us from our partner Indego Africa, a nonprofit that empowers artisan women in Rwanda and Ghana.

Last April, we published a story on ONE.org about the inspiring female entrepreneurs we work with in Rwanda. The piece featured students from the inaugural class of the Indego Africa Leadership Academy—an institution in Kigali, Rwanda dedicated to building powerful businesswomen, entrepreneurs, and leaders across the country.

1st Graduating Class
This April—one year after their graduation—we sat down with these very same women to find out how their time at the Leadership Academy had impacted them. We wanted to know: How had their lives changed? How were they putting the business skills they had learned into action? And what were the results? The answers we got were nothing short of astounding.

But let’s take a step back. First, a few words on our Leadership Academy. The Indego Africa Leadership Academy, launched in October 2014, is a free-of-cost, six-month advanced business training program (the only one of its kind in Rwanda) that enrolls 25 students per semester. The program was created in response to the incredible achievements of some of our artisan partners who, having mastered our basic business training courses, were eager to take their education to the next level.

Students at the Leadership Academy study advanced lessons in accounting, marketing, supply chain management, product innovation, technology and more. They are then able to apply the knowledge they learn to the real-life context of their artisan enterprises, something which the World Bank contends is crucial for the long-term success and viability of business training programs in the developing world.

As one of our Leadership Academy graduates, Annonciatha, said: “Many people have vocational skills but lack business skills. Others have business skills and lack vocational skills. By combining both together, Indego Africa helps us use our knowledge to become truly competitive in the market.”

So, how are our Leadership Academy graduates using their knowledge outside of the classroom? For starters, all of our graduates have used the lessons they learned to improve the management of their businesses. They’ve set up new systems to track and manage inventory (Just walking into one of their workplaces allows you to see the difference—talk about organized shelves!); they’ve developed budgets; built out savings and growth plans; created new marketing strategies; diversified their products; instituted better bookkeeping systems and more.

As one of our graduates, Laurence, said about the artisan cooperative she is a member of, Abasangiye, “Before, we didn’t know much about how to manage a business. At the Leadership Academy, we learned how to organize our financial records, logging our expenses and revenues separately. We learned how to work with banks and opened up our first bank account. We learned the meaning of customer care and have improved the way we communicate with clients. We even created a plan to increase our revenue by 20 percent this year.”

Many students are using their Leadership Academy lessons to help generate new, local business for their artisan products. For example, one of our students, Marie Josee, said: “Before we didn’t know how to market our products. We used to sit around and wait for orders to come to us. Now, we go out into our communities and try to find markets on our own. For example, we started knitting uniforms and brought them around to local primary schools. At one of the schools, the principal loved them so much that she ordered sweaters from us on the spot.”

In addition to improvements made at their artisan cooperatives, many students have gone on to start their own businesses. While most have begun with small-scale enterprises (like selling agricultural goods or breeding livestock), others have hit the ground running with larger operations. For example, one of our graduates, Daphrose, recruited 14 people to band together and start a brick-building business, which now contracts up to 60 laborers per month depending on the project.

Daphrose said that before starting at the Leadership Academy, she noticed that there were a lot of construction projects going on in her community. She thought that there might be a good market opportunity there, but felt that she didn’t have enough money to get a business going, let alone the skills to manage it.

At the Leadership Academy, Daphrose learned how to create a viable business plan and gained the management knowledge and skills she felt she had lacked before. She also gained the confidence to recruit others from her community to set up a cooperative and pool their capital in order to get the business off the ground.

Together, they’ve created a plan to bring in 5 million Rwandan Francs by the end of the year (around $6,400 USD) and are well on their way to doing so, having already secured orders from several primary schools in their community. In Daphrose’s mind, “anything is possible if you set a goal,” and we have no doubt that she will be successful in meeting hers!

Many students also highlighted the way the Leadership Academy connects artisan women from across the country to help them learn from one another and build valuable networks. Since graduating, the Leadership Academy students continue to leverage these networks to support each other in myriad ways. For example, now when tourists come to Cocoki Cooperative and ask about where to buy traditional Rwandan baskets, Cocoki directs them to the sweetgrass-weaving cooperatives, Covanya and Imirasire. (You can find bracelets woven by women of the Imirasire Cooperative at the ONE store!)

Imirasire’s Leadership Academy graduates, recognizing the benefit of diversifying their group’s skill sets, hired the grads from Cocoki to teach their members how to sew. Since then, they have saved up money to buy several sewing machines and have begun a small apparel collection, which they showcase and sell from their workplace.

This spirit of mutual assistance—of collaboration and empowerment—is pervasive among all of our Academy graduates. As Jacqueline, the president of Twiyubake Cooperative and a Leadership Academy grad, expressed: “It’s important to me to use my knowledge to uplift others. It’s a cycle, and I want to give back.”

Today, our Leadership Academy graduates are doing exactly that—using their education to give back to their communities and make a difference in the lives of countless others. They are building powerful networks of skilled, confident, and hopeful women who are creating employment opportunities and economic growth across their country, all while setting new precedents for what women can achieve.

We couldn’t be more proud of the first graduating class of our Leadership Academy and are thrilled to report that the results continue to come in! Of the 25 students in our second Leadership Academy class, 52 percent started a new business, 12 percent expanded a pre-existing business; and the remaining 36 percent plan to start a new business in the near future. These women have employed eight additional people so far, with, we’re sure, many more to come!

As Annonciatha said, “There is where we have come from and where we are going. Twenty-two years ago, Rwanda was in a dark place. Today, our leaders are moving our country towards development, and we are helping them get there.”


West Africa

West Africa is the western region of Africa. In the north the region is bounded by the Sahel, and in the south and west by the Atlantic Ocean. The most densely populated area of Africa, it is many ways both the continent’s most difficult place for travel and potentially its most rewarding.

The region may be divided into several broad physiographic regions. The northern portion of western Africa is composed of a broad band of semiarid terrain, called the western Sudan, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean on the west to the area of Lake Chad on the east, a distance of about 2,500 miles (4,000 km).

It is largely a plateau of modest elevation and borders the Sahara (desert) on the north and the Guinea Coast forests on the south. Rainfall in this region ranges from less than 10 inches (250 mm) in its arid northern reaches to about 50 inches (1,250 mm) in the south. The flora of the western Sudan consists of the scrub vegetation of the transitional zone known as the Sahel in the north and a mix of tall trees and high savanna grasslands in the south. Lying south of the western Sudan are the Guinea Coast equatorial forests, which flourish along the Atlantic coast and extend inland for about 100 to 150 miles (160 to 240 km).

Most of the Sahara and the transitional vegetational zones to its south (the Sahel and the western Sudan) are drained, where there is enough rainfall to support surface streams, either southward via the Niger River system or inland to the Lake Chad basin in the east. Along the better-watered Atlantic coastal areas, the chief features are (west to east) the Mauritanian-Senegal Basin, drained by the Sénégal River; the Fouta Djallon and Guinea Highlands; the Volta River and Niger River coastal plains; and the uplands of Nigeria’s Jos Plateau and the Cameroon Highlands.

Countries of West Africa

  • Benin A safe and relatively easy country for travellers to visit; birthplace of the Voodoo religion and former home of the Kingdom of Dahomey.
  • Burkina Faso Landlocked country that is very off the beaten path for visitors.
  • Cape Verde Tiny Atlantic island group off the coast of Senegal with wonderful beaches.
  • Côte d’Ivoire Formerly something of a jewel in the West African crown, this nation has taken huge steps backwards due to recent political driven conflict.
  • Gambia Tiny coastal nation popular with European beach package tourists and birdwatchers.
  • Ghana So-called “Africa for Beginners”—West Africa’s richest, most-English speaking country, with highly varied landscapes, a few off-the-beaten-path beach getaways, and the solemn, imposing slave castles of the coast west of Accra.
  • Guinea Some great hill scenery (the Switzerland of Africa), major rainforests and Atlantic beaches, ravaged by decades of political turmoil and lawlessness, now striving to develop.
  • Guinea Bissau A former Portuguese colony which has been through lots of struggle since independence, has little change since colonial times and is hardly visited by travellers.
  • Liberia Settled by former African American slaves in the 19th Century, this country has been through murderous conflicts, and it is too dangerous to visit outside Monrovia City, which is a completely underdeveloped city anyways.
  • Nigeria A vast, highly populated country with great wealth—unfortunately little of it shared with its people. It has huge tourism potential and a very diverse ethnic culture of over 360 ethnic groups. It is the second largest economy in Africa.
  • Senegal West Africa’s other “visitor-friendly” destination, with tasty food, nice beaches, and French colonial history.
  • Sierra Leone Some of the best beaches anywhere in the world, and huge potential for tourism, but held back by enormous transport infrastructure problems, extreme poverty, hardly any development and danger.
  • Togo A small, sleepy country that is home to no less than 40 different ethnic groups, and the surreal villages of Tamberma Valley.

Sometimes Mauritania, Mali, Niger, and Chad are also considered as West African states.

West Africa Cities

  • Abidjan — the largest city in Cote d’Ivoire, still a West African nightlife mecca, despite the country’s political instability.
  • Abuja — the purpose built government capital of Nigeria is attractive, and—by Nigerian standards—remarkably safe!
  • Accra — an incoherent jumble of a city, the capital of Ghana, and one of the most accessible cities in West Africa for travellers.
  • Cotonou — Benin’s big non-capital has the feel of a West African, urban version of the Wild West; you can buy anything at a city that is essentially an enormous, lawless (but reasonably safe) market town, and dirt cheap “Rolexes” of questionable origin and voodoo charms remain popular items for travellers.
  • Dakar — the capital of Senegal and the westernmost city in Africa.
  • Lagos — the largest city in Nigeria and the second largest in the whole of Africa is a huge but chaotic metropolis whose people and state are making huge efforts to push forward.
  • Lomé — Togo’s bustling capital, somewhat unfairly disliked by travelers, and possibly the moto-taxi capital of the world.
  • Ouagadougou — the capital of Burkina Faso.

Other destinations in West Africa

  • Bijagos Islands — an archipelago of some twenty tropical, beautiful islands in Guinea Bissau with French-owned fishing lodges.
  • Freetown Peninsula’s beaches — are these paradisiacal-looking beaches, each with an utterly unique appearance and culture, the most beautiful in the world?
  • Ganvie — absurdly named the “Venice of Africa,” this stilt village, at the center of a large lake, is more of a stilt city, and offers one of the strangest photo opportunities you’ll ever have.
  • Moyenne Guinee (Fouta Djallon) — hills and mountains in the interior of Guinea with a relatively cool climate, the home of the Pular people and sometimes called the “Switzerland of Africa.”
  • Niokolo-Koba — the largest National Park in Senegal.
  • Taï National Park — the largest remaining intact portion of the once great Upper Guinea Rainforest is home to the world’s last viable population of pygmy hippopotami, as well as numerous rare monkeys, chimps, rare forest elephants, and other rare animals.
  • Tamberma Valley — Togo’s somehow completely unknown answer to Mali’s Dogon Country; an expansive, beautiful, mountainous region filled with surreal villages of improbable mud/clay fortresses, and culture barely touched by modernity.
  • W National Park — a large, trans-border system of national parks, with parts in Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger, which offers the best opportunities for wildlife spotting in West Africa.
  • Yankari National Park — the largest National Park in Nigeria, and the most visited of all the parks in the region.

West Africa Beaches

West Africa is home to some incredible, mind-blowingly beautiful beaches, and they are not always where you would expect. Gambia, Cape Verde, and to a somewhat lesser extent Senegal are well known and well developed tropical beach destinations. But the most beautiful beaches (OK, don’t tell Cape Verdeans this) are at Africa’s westernmost point: Liberia and above all Sierra Leone, home to what are possibly the most beautiful beaches in the world. And, of course, Sierra Leonean and Liberian beaches are emphatically not overdeveloped—you will often have them to yourself, or share them with a few busy fishermen!

Beach duds, unfortunately, crop up in the Gulf of Guinea, where locals do not respect the their coast’s great natural beauty. (Granted, eking out a decent existence in these poor countries often seems a greater priority.) The beaches anywhere near towns and cities are heavily littered, and are used as a toilet, filling the water with squishy faeces. The beaches are also very dangerous in this region, both for being the home of the respective countries’ highest rates of violent crime, and very strong currents. Of course, there are notable exceptions, particularly in the sparsely populated regions of western Ghana.

West Africa Food/Eat

West African food doesn’t seem to be for everyone, but those who like it love it. The staple dishes are starch plus some version of soup. Rice is the most popular starch, but fufu—a thick paste, with the rough consistency of soft play-dough, usually made by boiling starchy root vegetables in water and pounding with a mortar and pestle—and other similar pastes are a more interesting alternative. Fufu and its cousins should be eaten with the right hand, and usually dipped in the sauce, stew, or soup provided. Simple “chop bars” (there are plenty of different names for this common phenomenon) nearly always provide this recipe, plus some chicken or fish.

Street food is delicious, multifarious, and dirt cheap. Unfortunately, problems with sanitation make this food a bit more dangerous than those found in chop bar-style spots and restaurants, for the straightforward reason that you aren’t sure when it was cooked! Items that you see cooked, items that require peeling (eg: eggs, coconuts, bananas, etc), or items wrapped immediately after cooking (like bread) are safe.

Restaurants in cities are very skewed towards European dishes, and tend to treat African food like a poor man’s diet. The Francophone countries often have a few excellent French restaurants hidden in the larger cities. What constitutes a “restaurant,” though, is malleable. The restaurant could potentially be just a log for sitting, and be defined a “restaurant” simply by dint of having more than three dishes available.

West Africa Drinks

Make sure your water bottles are sealed and not just refilled with tap water. It can be hard to see until you actually test the top, but people are generally honest about this sort of thing. Many travellers try to go for the locally produced mineral water, rather than those produced by foreign corporations, since local economies need all the help they can get.

“Pure water” is also widely available in guaranteed-sanitary sachets sold on the street, usually for less than 5¢, and is a great way to make sure you stay hydrated in the hot climate. Coconuts in most of these countries are also omnipresent, and street vendors will take off the top with a machete for a tasty drink.

Lagers, non-alcoholic malts, and some weird beverage masquerading as “Guinness” are among the more popular beverages you will run across. Voodoo priests and chiefs seem to prefer Schnapps. For harder stuff, look around for palm wine and gin sachets (which mix well with sprite, or more foolishly, palm wine).

West Africa Air transport Airports

The capitals airports include:

  • Cadjehoun Airport {COO} International; Cotonou, Benin.
  • Ouagadougou Airport {OUA}; Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
  • Amílcar Cabral International Airport {SID}; Praia, Cape Verde.
  • Banjul International Airport {BJL} International; Banjul, Gambia.
  • Kotoka International Airport {ACC}; Accra; Ghana.
  • Conakry International Airport {CKY}; Conakry, Guinea.
  • Osvaldo Vieira International Airport {OXB}; Bissau, Guinea-Bissau.
  • Port Bouet Airport {ABJ}; Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
  • Roberts International Airport {ROB}; Monrovia, Liberia.
  • Bamako–Sénou International Airport {BKO}; Bamako, Mali .
  • Diori Hamani International Airport {NIM}; Niamey, Niger.
  • Murtala Muhammed International Airport {LOS}; Lagos, Nigeria.
  • Saint Helena Airport; Jamestown, Saint Helena
  • Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport {DKR}; Dakar, Senegal.
  • Lungi International Airport {FNA}; Freetown, Sierra Leone.
  • Lomé–Tokoin Airport {LFW}; Lomé, Togo.

West Africa has cachet and soul. Home to African landscapes of our imaginations and inhabited by an astonishing diversity of traditional peoples, this is Africa as it once was.

African Landscapes

From the Sahara to tropical rain forests, from volcanic outcrops to stony depressions in the desert’s heart, West Africa is an extraordinary sweep of iconic African terrain. Sand dunes of the Sahara yield to the Sahel where human settlements sit on the edge of eternity. A few latitude lines to the south, savannah and woodland take over, building to a crescendo of primeval forest crowding the coast and its pristine beaches. Through it all runs one of Africa’s longest rivers, the Niger.

Secret Wildlife

You wouldn’t come to West Africa in search of an East African–style safari. If you did, you’d be disappointed. And yet there’s more to West Africa’s wildlife than initially meets the eye (which may not be much). If you look in the right places, there are elephants and primate species in abundance, and big cats stalk the undergrowth. Throw in pygmy hippos and some of the world’s best birdwatching and it becomes clear that West Africa is greatly underrated as a wildlife-watching destination. And unlike in East or Southern Africa, you’re likely to have whatever you find all to yourself.

Why I Love West Africa

On my first journey into West Africa, I felt like I was visiting another planet, and I loved it. It was the cooling sand beneath my feet as I shared a campfire with Tuareg nomads in the Sahara, or a dawn glimpse of paradise at a bend in the river deep in the Cameroonian rainforest. It was dancing the night away in the bars of Bamako or Dakar, or the silence of the Sahelian night. And no matter how many times I return, I never lose that sense of having wandered into some kind of otherworldly African fairytale.

African Peoples

The mosaic of peoples who inhabit West Africa is one of the region’s most beguiling characteristics. The sheer number of peoples who call the region home will take your breath away. Drawing in a little nearer, you’ll discover that traditions survive in West Africa like nowhere else on the continent, revealing themselves in fabulous festivals, irresistible music and the mysterious world of masks and secret societies. These are peoples whose histories are epic and whose daily struggles are similarly so. West Africa is in-your-face, full-volume Lagos or the quiet solitude of an indigo-clad nomad – not to mention everything in between.

A Musical Soundtrack

West Africa’s musical tradition is one of extraordinary depth and richness. Youssou N’Dour, Tinariwen and other musicians may have been ‘discovered’ in recent decades, but the region’s music is so much more than mere performance. The griots of ancient African empires – Mali’s master kora player Toumani Diabaté is the 71st generation of griots – bestowed upon West Africa’s musicians the gift of storytelling as much as the power to entertain. They do both exceptionally well and their ability to make you dance or learn something new about the region may just rank among your most memorable travel experiences.

africa population

African Population

The last 100 years have seen an incredible increase in the planet’s population. Some parts of the world are now seeing smaller increments of growth, and some, such as Japan, Germany, and Spain, are actually experiencing population decreases.

Africa Population 2016

Africa is the second-largest and second most populous continent on earth with an estimated population in 2013 of 1.033 billion people. Africa is home to 54 recognized sovereign states and countries, 9 territories and 2 de facto independent states with very little recognition. The UN Population Fund stated in 2009 that the population of Africa had hit the one billion mark and had therefore doubled in size over the course of 27 years. As of 2015, the population estimates are around 1.166 billion.

The Population Fund’s Director Thoraya Obeid spoke to the BBC at the time and underlined the reasons behind the growing population.

“Africa countries are all growing fast… because there is large number of women who have no access to planning their families” she said. “It’s an African phenomenon of a large growing population and a large percentage of young people in the population.”

Africa Population Growth and Life Expectancy

56 countries make up the continent of Africa and while population growth is relatively low in some areas, countries such as Nigeria and Uganda are increasing at an advanced rate. In most countries in the continent, the population growth is in excess of 2% every year.

In addition, there is a high proportion of younger people within the Africa population as a whole and the life expectancy is also low – less than 50 in many nations. This has reduced considerably over the course of the last twenty years with a widespread HIV and AIDS epidemic taking much of the blame for that statistic.

Infant mortality is also extremely high and in Angola, it is reported that there are 190 deaths per 1,000 live births. All of these statistics could be expected to lead to a fall in population numbers but in Africa, the issue over family planning leads to the reverse effect.

Africa Demographics

As far as demographics are concerned, the African nations as a whole are made up from such a diverse set of components that it is impossible to list them in full. However, in certain parts of the continent there has been an increase in Asian and even European settlers which has also served to boost the population statistics as a whole.

In former British colonies, this can be seen extensively and Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa are all good examples as to a growing set of diverse ethnicities.

The population in Africa has grown rapidly over the last 40 years and it has a relatively young population, with more than half of the population under 25 in some states.

Most Populous Countries in Africa

  • Nigeria: 173,611,131
  • Ethiopia: 95,045,679
  • Egypt: 82,196,587
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo: 67,363,365
  • South Africa: 52,914,243

Least Populous Countries in Africa

  • Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (UK) (non-sovereign): 4,000
  • Seychelles: 93,033
  • São Tomé and Príncipe: 194,161
  • Mayotte (France): 217,000
  • Cape Verde: 501,674

Africa Population Growth

Any expert would find it hard to argue with the commonly held view that the population of Africa in 2013 and beyond is set for further increases. With little or no measures in place to address the issue, the 1.9 billion prediction for 2050 is entirely plausible.

Africa currently has a very low population density of about 65 people per square mile, which puts it behind Asia, Europe and South America. The population of Africa is currently projected to quadruple in just 90 years, with a growth rate that will make Africa more important than ever to global economy and more.

Africa’s Nigeria is currently one of the most populous countries on earth and, as China’s population shrinks and India plateaus, Nigeria will reach nearly 1 billion people by 2100 and come close to surpassing China. This is pretty amazing considering the country is about the size of Texas. Nigeria is set for one of the biggest population booms in world history and it’s expected to increase by a factor of eight in just two or three generations.

The boom in Africa’s population will be in sub-Sahara, including in countries like Tanzania, which is one of the poorest countries on earth. Just 13 years ago, the country’s population was 34 million, which has now grown to 45 million but is projected to reach 276 million by 2100, which is close to the current population of the U.S.

Many consider Africa’s population growth a bit frightening, with predictions placing the continent’s population at 1.9 billion by 2050. By 2100, 3/4 of the world’s growth is expected to come from Africa, reaching 4.1 billion people by 2100 to claim over one third of the world’s population. Most countries will at least triple in population as the region has very high fertility rates and very little family planning in most regions.

As much of Africa is still developing, and it contains some of the poorest countries on earth, time will tell how it will sustain such massive population growth.

Population boom: 40% of all humans will be African by end of century

The continent of Africa, however, is not following this pattern. Now home to 1.2 billion (up from just 477 million in 1980), Africa is projected by the United Nations Population Division to see a slight acceleration of annual population growth in the immediate future.

Africa’s rising population and youth unemployment challenge

In the past year the population of the African continent grew by 30 million. By the year 2050, annual increases will exceed 42 million people per year and total population will have doubled to 2.4 billion, according to the UN. This comes to 3.5 million more people per month, or 80 additional people per minute. At that point, African population growth would be able to re-fill an empty London five times a year.

From any big-picture perspective, these population dynamics will have an influence on global demography in the 21st century. Of the 2.37 billion increase in population expected worldwide by 2050, Africa alone will contribute 54%. By 2100, Africa will contribute 82% of total growth: 3.2 billion of the overall increase of 3.8 billion people. Under some projections, Nigeria will add more people to the world’s population by 2050 than any other country.

The dynamics at play are straightforward. Since the middle of the last century, improvements in public health have led to a inspiring decrease in infant and child mortality rates. Overall life expectancy has also risen. The 12 million Africans born in 1955 could expect to live only until the age of 37. Encouragingly, the 42 million Africans born this year can expect to live to the age of 60.

A seismic shift in demographic trends is transforming the world into an increasingly African place, creating huge economic opportunities, as well as new risks for political instability and extreme poverty, a United Nations agency says.

“The future of humanity is increasingly African,” says a report by the UN children’s agency to be issued on Tuesday, based on revised population forecasts that reveal an unprecedented demographic shift this century.

Africa accounted for only 9 per cent of the world’s population in 1950, but by the end of this century about 40 per cent of all humans (and nearly half of all children) will be African, heralding one of the fastest and most radical demographic changes in history, the report says.

While every other continent is seeing a slower rise in births, or even a decline, UNICEF projects that 1.8 billion babies will be born in Africa over the next 35 years, and the total African population will nearly quadruple to about 4.2 billion by the end of the century.

Lagos is expected to soon overtake Cairo as Africa’s largest city.

Meanwhile, another key demographic variable – the number of children the average African woman is likely to have in her lifetime, or total fertility rate – remains elevated compared to global rates. The total fertility rate of Africa is 88% higher than the world standard (2.5 children per woman globally, 4.7 children per woman in Africa).

In Niger, where GDP per capita is less than $1 per day, the average number of children a woman is likely to have in her life is more than seven. Accordingly, the country’s current population of 20 million is projected to grow by 800,000 people over the next 12 months. By mid-century, the population may have expanded to 72 million people and will still be growing by 800,000 people – every 18 weeks. By the year 2100, the country could have more than 209 million people and still be expanding rapidly. This projectionis based on an assumption that Niger’s fertility will gradually fall to 2.5 children over the course of the century. If fertility does not fall at all – and it has not budged in the last 60 years – the country’s population projection for 2100 veers towards 960 million people.

As recently as 2004, the United Nations’ expected Africa to grow only to 2.2 billion people by 2100. That number now looks very out of date.

What has caught demographers off-guard – and has required such dramatic revisions – is that African fertility has not fallen as expected. Precipitous declines in fertility in Asia and Latin America, from five children per woman in the 1970s to around 2.5 today, led many to believe Africa would follow a similar course.

Strong national family planning programmes in various parts of the world jump-started a virtuous circle: fertility declines allowed more educational and other resources to be deployed per capita than otherwise would have been possible. In turn, relatively more educated girls and women were able to increase their economic value and societal status – allowing for even greater agency to access and use contraception.

Unfortunately, since the early 1990s, family planning programmes in Africa have not had the same attention, resulting in slow, sometimes negligible, fertility declines. In a handful of countries, previous declines have stalled altogether and are reversing. Beyond unreliable supplies of contraceptives in many countries the greater obstacles to lower fertility are often male opposition to contraception, religious teachings, social norms, or misinformation about contraceptive options and their side-effects.

These dynamics create the opposite of a virtuous circle. Rapid population growth helps overstrain educational systems and local economies and can be a challenge to any government. Many areas of Australia and England, both fast-growing countries, are contending with overcrowded schools, congested highways and stratospheric housing costs. The reality is that as the size of any populace expands, governments must construct infrastructure apace.

Failure to do so results in per capita declines in living standards. In already economically strained nations, physical goods such as roads, bridges, water supplies, sewers and electricity systems are crucial, but scaling-up educational, public health and security systems are also required. Unemployment, instability and entrenched poverty follow suit. Uneducated girls and women are less likely to overcome social barriers to contraceptive use, such as domineering paternalistic cultures or religious prohibition. Fertility remains high and human suffering builds steam.

A few heroic efforts, such as Family Planning 2020, are attempting to stimulate family planning programmes across the continent, and there are some signs of success. Recent figures from Kenya and Zambia show substantial strengthening of contraceptive use among married women. In Kenya, 58% of married women now use modern contraception, and in Zambia this measure has risen from 33% to 45% in the last three years.

In both cases, the catalysts for improvements were government commitment and commensurate budget financing. The virtuous circle may not be completely out of reach, but many more African governments must make haste and make substantial investments in contraceptive information and access for their people.

Africa could reap a massive demographic dividend from its bigger labour force and relatively fewer dependents, the report says. The population boom could “transform the continent, breaking centuries-old cycles of poverty and inequality.”

But the opposite is also possible, and requires urgent discussion soon, UNICEF warns. “Unless investment in the continent’s children is prioritized, the sheer burden of population expansion has the potential to undermine attempts to eradicate poverty through economic growth, and worse, could result in rising poverty and marginalization of many if growth were to falter.”

The new projections are based on the latest revised numbers from the UN’s population division, showing an even stronger shift in child demographics in Africa’s direction.

Until recently, the UN had predicted that one-third of the world’s children would be living in Africa by mid-century, yet that prediction is now believed to be an underestimate. Instead, 37 per cent of the world’s children will be African by 2050, and more than 40 per cent of births will take place in Africa.

The population explosion will be biggest in West Africa, especially in Nigeria. By 2050, Nigeria alone will account for an astounding one-tenth of all births in the world, the report says, and its total population will reach nearly a billion by the end of the century.

Fertility rates are declining in Africa, but they remain far higher than anywhere else in the world, the report says. At the same time, life expectancy and child survival rates have drastically improved in Africa, helping explain the population boom.

“Within 20 years, Africa will have its first generation of children who can expect to reach pensionable age,” UNICEF says, predicting that African life expectancy will reach 65 years in the next two decades. (By contrast, in the 1950s, African life expectancy was less than 40.)

As part of these trends, Africa will become increasingly urbanized and crowded. In 1950, its population density was just eight persons per square kilometre. By mid-century, Africa will hold 80 people per square kilometre. Its megacities will soar in size, with the population of Lagos nearly doubling to 24 million by 2030 and Kinshasa growing from 12 million to 20 million in the same period.

Much of the population boom is occurring in the poorest and most fragile countries. The world’s highest fertility rate is believed to be in the impoverished West African nation of Niger, where the average woman has 7.5 children, the UNICEF report says. The next-highest fertility rate is in a neighbouring country, Mali, where the average woman has 6.8 children.

The report calls for “courageous and determined action” to face the challenges of the African population boom. It cites, for example, the continued lack of contraception for many African women. About a quarter of all women in marriages or unions in sub-Saharan Africa lack the reproductive heath services they need, the report says. It also calls for stronger programs to improve the education of girls and to end child marriage.


Africa Climate

The African Climate Change Fellowship Program (ACCFP) program promotes innovative adaptation research in Africa. Alumni of the program represent a cadre of climate change specialists who are promoting and facilitating adaptation research, education, and decision making across Africa.

Since the program’s inception in 2008, nearly 100 ACCFP Fellows have been matched with universities, research centers, and other host institutions across Africa where they collaborate with mentors to implement individually designed projects that, for example, assess and prioritize climate risks, investigate current practices for designing and implementing adaptation actions, and consider approaches for integrating adaptation with planning and practice. Learn more about how ACCFP links individuals and institutions.

Current Fellowship types include Adaptation Science Fellowships and Adaptation Policy Fellowships. ACCFP Science Fellows receive small grants that enable them to visit other institutions – “Host Institutions” – where they collaborate with mentors to implement individually-designed projects. Adaptation Policy Fellows participate in an Adaptation Policy Training Institute and receive a small grant to conduct a follow-on project that uses the knowledge gained during the training.

Due to the lack of knowledge on climate change and Global Warming in Africa we need to do a lot of Research which will enable us to really evaluate and adequately sensitize the population on climate change issues.

All ACCFP Fellows participate in periodic workshops and training sessions that add value to the research experience. Such activities challenge Fellows to step “outside the box” in considering the role and potential contributions of their individual work within broader efforts to address climate change adaptation challenges in Africa.

SASSCAL is a joint initiative of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Germany, responding to the challenges of global change. The establishment of a Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management could create added value for the whole southern African region. It should be conceptualised and operationalised to complement the excellent existing research and capacity development infrastructures and research initiatives in the region. It should be embedded in the regional and national research. Its mission is to conduct problem-oriented research in the area of adaptation to climate and change and sustainable land management and provide evidence-based advice for all decision-makers and stakeholders to improve the livelihoods of people in the region and to contribute to the creation of an African knowledge-based society.

The SASSCAL will improve the capacities to provide sound science-based solutions for current problems and future risks in the region, in particular regarding climate change and the associated demands concerning land management practices of local players. To this end, the centre will contribute to strengthening existing and developing new capacities for application-oriented scientific research and science-policy consultations on climate change, adapted land-use and sustainable development in the region.

SASSCAL will support national, regional and local institutions and service providers to develop relevant advisory and implementation skills.

A regional dialogue between scientists and decision makers is indispensable in this context because many of the global change challenges go beyond national boundaries. Therefore SASSCAL will have a regional scope and the work of the Centre will be defined in partnership with the respective scientific communities, the users of science products, policy-makers, and decision-makers.

To describe weather conditions across the continent of Africa in specific terms is difficult in such a small space, so we’ll opt for general terms. Most of Africa is in the tropics, and except for the peaks of mountains in the Great Rift Valley, it never freezes. The continent’s northern half is primarily desert or arid, while its central and southern areas contain both savanna plains and very dense jungle (rainforest) regions.

Africa is the hottest continent on earth; dry lands and deserts comprise 60% of the entire land surface. The Sahara Desert (including its satellite deserts) is the world’s largest hot desert, and temperature above 37.78 °C (100 °F) are common. In fact, the record for the highest temperature ever recorded was set in Libya in 1922; 58 °C – (136 °F).

To the immediate south of the Sahara Desert in the Sahel region, drought and annual rains way below average are rather common, and major dust storms are a frequent occurrence. In the central African rain forests (along the Equator) warm to hot climate conditions are the norm with very high humidity; Africa’s heaviest rains fall in this area.

In the far south, the Kalahari Desert, a large semi-arid sandy savannah covers much of Botswana and parts of Namibia and South Africa. Rainfall is sparse and summer temperatures run high. It usually receives 3–7.5 inches (76–190 mm) of rain each year.

Summers in Southern Africa can be be quite hot, especially along the coastal areas. Inland in the higher elevations, temperatures do moderate. Winters are generally mild, with some light snow up in the hills and mountains.

For detailed weather in any African country select the country of choice from the dropdown list above right, or review these current weather conditions in some selected cities.
Note: The seasons south of the Equator are just the opposite of those north of the Equator; (Spring) October to December; (Summer) January to March; (Fall) April to June, (Winter) July through September.

Afriuca Climate, World’s second largest continent

Africa is the second largest continent, approximately three times the size of the United States. The African continent measures 5,200 miles from north to south, and at its broadest point, is nearly as wide as it is long.

Victoria Falls from Zambian side, Africa contains both the world’s largest desert (the Sahara) and the world’s longest river (the Nile). The continent is also home to Victoria Fall, considered as one of the natural wonders of the world.

Africa’s 11,636,846 square miles of land are divided into 55 countries (including South Sudan, which became a separate country in 2011).

Africa is bordered by:

  • the Atlantic Ocean to the west
  • the Indian Ocean to the east
  • the Mediterranean to the north.
  • A variety of climate zones

Unsurprisingly, such a large land mass has a wide variety of climates:

  • Tropical rainforest – found particularly in the centre of the continent and also along the eastern coast of Madagascar.
  • Humid sub-tropical – found in the southwest.
  • Mediterranean – mostly on the northwest (Mediterranean) coast and in the southeast
  • Savannah – found to the north and south where it replaces the rain forest. There are distinct wet and dry seasons.
  • Steppe – away from the Equator, to the north and south, the savannah grades into drier steppe.
  • Desert – here there is little rainfall and wide differences between day and night temperatures. The Sahara in the north is the world’s largest desert (only three countries have a greater area – Russia, Canada and China). The Kalahari in southern Africa covers an area larger than France.
  • Highland – largely found in the east, below the Horn of Africa.
  • Marine – largely in the southeast.

Record temperatures in Africa

  • The highest temperature recorded anywhere in the world was at Al’Aziziya, Libya, which reached 57.8°C (136°F) on September 13, 1922.
  • The lowest recorded temperature in Africa is -24°C (-11°F) at Ilfrane, Morocco, on February 11, 1935.

Highs and lows

Temperatures are highest in desert areas, particularly the Sahara. They are coolest across the south and in mountainous areas and plateaux highlands.

Rainfall varies dramatically across Africa. The northern half of the continent contains large areas of arid desert, where annual rainfall can be just 50mm. But in central areas of the continent, tropical rainforests can receive over 4,000mm each year (Scotland has an average of around 1,500mm).

2014 West Africa Ebola Outbreak Map

Ebola Outbreak in Africa

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa was first reported in March 2014, and rapidly became the deadliest occurrence of the disease since its discovery in 1976.

In fact, the epidemic killed five times more than all other known Ebola outbreaks combined.

More than 21 months on from the first confirmed case recorded on 23 March 2014, 11,315 people have been reported as having died from the disease in six countries; Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, the US and Mali. The total number of reported cases is about 28,637.

But on 13 January, 2016, the World Health Organisation declared the last of the countries affected, Liberia, to be Ebola-free.

Ebola deaths  Figures up to 13 January 2016

  • 11,315 Deaths – probable, confirmed and suspected (Includes one in the US and six in Mali)
  • 4,809 Liberia
  • 3,955 Sierra Leone
  • 2,536 Guinea
  • 8 Nigeria

The World Health Organization (WHO) admits the figures are underestimates, given the difficulty collecting the data. There needs to be 42 days without any new cases for a country to be declared Ebola-free. The outbreaks in Nigeria and Senegal were declared officially over by the WHO in October 2014. Sierra Leone and Guinea both had much larger outbreaks and it took a little longer. Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free on 7 November 2015, Guinea followed in December.

Liberia has been the worst-hit, with more than 4,800 dead and 10,672 becoming infected. The WHO said that at the peak of transmission, during August and September 2014, Liberia was reporting between 300 and 400 new cases every week.

The epidemic seemed to abate and the outbreak in Liberia was declared over on 9 May 2015 – only to re-emerge seven weeks later when a 17-year-old man died from the disease and more cases were reported. The same happened in September, which is why the latest declaration of Liberia being Ebola-free, while welcome, should be treated with caution, say correspondents.

What is Ebola?

Ebola virus disease, or Ebola haemorrhagic fever as it was previously known, is caused by the Ebola virus. It is a rare but severe disease, found in countries in Africa, which can often have a fatal outcome (for 25-90% of the infected people). Transmission of the viruses occurs from person to person through direct contact with blood and other body fluids. The first documented outbreak of Ebola virus disease occurred in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, at the time known as Zaire, and all subsequent outbreaks have been in Africa.

What are the symptoms of Ebola?

In most cases, an infected person experiences sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle and joint pains and headache, followed by progressive weakness, lack of appetite, diarrhoea (sometimes containing blood and mucus), nausea and vomiting. The initial symptoms are unspecific and are similar to other more common diseases such as the common cold or malaria.
The next stage is more severe with bleeding from the nose, gums and skin, and bloody vomiting and stools. Other symptoms include skin rash, inflamed throat and difficulty swallowing.
It can take between 2 and 21 days from the point of infection for a person to begin to show symptoms.

How can a person get infected?

A person can get infected with the Ebola virus by direct contact with infected blood, secretions, tissues, organs or other bodily fluids of dead or living infected persons. The risk for transmission in general is low in the initial stages of symptomatic patients. The virus can also be transmitted through material heavily contaminated with such fluids. It can also be contracted through unprotected sexual contact with patients who have recovered from the disease.
It is transmitted by droplets and not in the air, so it is highly unlikely that someone would be infected with Ebola virus disease just by coming into casual contact with someone already sick, such as sitting next to someone (and without any direct contact of bodily fluids).
Most people are infected from another person but some people have been infected with it from handling dead wild animals or ‘bush meat’ in Africa, such as chimpanzees and bats.

How contagious is it?

People only become infectious once they start to have symptoms. The risk of being infected in the early phase of symptomatic patients is generally low. The risk of infection is much higher in the later stages of the disease but can be effectively addressed with the proper use of appropriate personal protective equipment.

How deadly is it?

The case fatality rate – the proportion of people diagnosed with the disease who die – is 25-90% dependent on the virus type.

Is the virus resistant?

The Ebola virus is susceptible to disinfectants and bleach and is destroyed by heating.

Is there a vaccine?

There is no approved vaccine at this point but research is ongoing.

What is the treatment?

There is no specific treatment that is approved for general use against Ebola virus disease but supportive treatment – hospital care to relieve symptoms and to prevent further complications and side effects – can be given.

Where does it come from?

Ebola viruses are thought to circulate in wild animals in sub-Saharan Africa. They have been found in fruit bats, chimpanzees, gorillas and duikers, and human infections have been linked to direct contact with such animals.

How can an outbreak be stopped?

An outbreak of Ebola virus disease can be stopped by breaking the chain of transmission. This can be done by isolating suspected and confirmed patients to prevent onward transmission. At the same time, people who have been in close contact with patients are also contacted and monitored to identify possible infections.

If there is an Ebola outbreak in a country, does it mean that I shouldn’t travel there?

Check with your national authorities for travel advice on whether to travel to a country affected by an Ebola outbreak and other health information, including access to healthcare for reasons other than Ebola virus disease.

How can I protect myself against Ebola infection?

People visiting or residing in affected countries should take the following measures:
Avoiding contact with symptomatic patients and/or their bodily fluids
Avoiding contact with corpses and/or bodily fluids from deceased patients
Avoiding contact with wild animals (including monkeys, forest antelopes, rodents and bats), both alive and dead, and consumption of ‘bush meat’
Washing hands regularly, using soap or antiseptics

When to seek medical attention?

If you develop fever, muscle aches, weakness, headache and sore throat, you have been in a known affected area, having had contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of dead or living infected persons, you should seek rapid medical attention also mentioning your travel history

18 March 2016
According to WHO on 18 March, two new cases of Ebola were confirmed in a rural village in the prefecture of Nzérékoré.
17 March 2016
WHO declared the end of the recent flare-up of Ebola virus disease in Sierra Leone, 42 days after the last person confirmed to have Ebola virus disease in the country tested negative for the second time.

15 January 2016
Sierra Leone and WHO report a new confirmed case on 15 January 2016.

14 January 2016
Liberia was declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization as forty-two days have passed since the second negative test of the last laboratory-confirmed case. All countries in West Africa involved in the epidemic have now been declared Ebola-free.

29 December 2015
Guinea was declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization as forty-two days have passed since the second negative test of the last laboratory-confirmed case.

20 November 2015
The Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare reported three confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease in Monrovia, Montserrado county.

7 November 2015
Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization as forty-two days have passed since the second negative test of the last laboratory-confirmed case.

3 September 2015
WHO declares Liberia free of Ebola virus transmission in the human population as forty-two days have passed since the second negative test on 22 July 2015 of the last laboratory-confirmed case. Liberia enters a 90-day period of heightened surveillance.

2 July 2015
The sixth meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (IHR) advised that the EVD outbreak still constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and previously issued temporary recommendations should be extended.

2 July 2015
Ministry of health of Liberia reported a re-emergence localised EVD transmission in Margibi County resulting in three confirmed cases.

9 May 2015
WHO declares Liberia free of Ebola virus transmission

10 April 2015
WHO publishes a statement following the fifth meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee stating that the event continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

10 March 2015
WHO declared the United Kingdom free of Ebola virus disease as 42 days have passed since the confirmed case tested negative.

23 January 2015
EVD vaccine developed by GSK ships to Liberia for phase-3 trial expected to start in February 2015.

21 January 2015
WHO publishes a statement following the fourth meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee stating that the event continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

18 January 2015
The government of Mali and WHO declare Mali free of Ebola virus transmission.
29 December 2014
Scotland reported the first imported case of EVD to the UK that was not a medical evacuation. The case is a healthcare worker who had returned from volunteering at an Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone. According to WHO all possible contacts of the case have been investigated and no high risk contacts have been identified.
21 December 2014
The USA is free of Ebola, 42 days from the date when the last patient tested negative.
2 December
WHO declared Spain Ebola-free as 42 days have passed since the confirmed case tested negative.
25 November 2014
WHO confirmed two additional cases of EVD in Bamako, Mali. Both infected persons are close contacts of previously identified EVD-infected patients.

17 November 2014
In Mali, WHO reported two additional cases in Bamako, all these cases are linked to an EVD imported case from Guinea on 25 October.

12 November 2014

In Mali, WHO reported three additional cases in Bamako that are not linked to the case reported on 23 October. Two are probable cases from Guinea, one was admitted in a clinic in Bamako on 25 October and died on 27 October, the second was a visitor of this patient who also died (the date of his death is not available). The two other cases are confirmed cases in HCWs who cared for the patient in the clinic. One died on 11 November.

1 November 2014
An UN worker was medically evacuated from Sierra Leone to France upon the request from WHO

28 October 2014
WHO published a press release regarding the approval of an Ebola vaccine trial at Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland. The trial, which is being supported by WHO, is the latest in a series of trials that are ongoing in Mali, UK and the USA.

23 October 2014
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a new case in New York City. The case is a medical aid worker who volunteered in Guinea and recently returned to the United States. In addition, the Ministry of Health in Mali has reported that a two-year-old girl who recently arrived from Guinea has tested positive for Ebola. This is the first confirmed case of Ebola virus infection in Mali.

23 October WHO re-confirmed that the outbreak continued to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

20 October 2014
WHO officially declared Nigeria free of Ebola virus transmission.

17 October 2014
Senegal was declared Ebola free

14 October 2014
In the USA, a second healthcare worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who also cared for the imported EVD patient tested positive for Ebola.

10 October 2014
In the USA, a healthcare worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who cared for the first imported EVD patient tested positive for Ebola.

6 October 2014
The Spanish authorities reported a confirmed case of EVD in a healthcare worker who cared for the second of two EVD patients that were evacuated to Spain.

3 October 2014
In Senegal, all contacts of the imported EVD case had completed the 21-day follow-up period without developing disease. No local transmission of EVD has been reported in Senegal. The imported case tested negative on 5 September and WHO declared Senegal free of Ebola on 17 October 2014 (two incubation periods after the last isolated case tested negative).

30 September 2014
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the first imported case of EVD in US linked to the current outbreak in West Africa.

23 September 2014
A study published by the WHO Ebola response team forecasted more than 20 000 cases (5740 in Guinea, 9890 in Liberia, and 5000 in Sierra Leone) by the beginning of November 2014. The same study estimated the doubling time of the epidemic at 15.7 days in Guinea, 23.6 days in Liberia, and 30.2 days in Sierra Leone.

18 September 2014
The United Nations Security Council recognised the EVD outbreak as a ‘threat to international peace and security’ and unanimously adopted a resolution on the establishment of an UN-wide initiative which focuses assets of all relevant UN agencies to tackle the crisis.

29 August 2014
The Ministry of Health in Senegal reported a confirmed imported case of EVD in a 21-year-old male native of Guinea.

8 August 2014
WHO declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a Public Health Event of International Concern (PHEIC).

End July 2014
A symptomatic case travelled by air to Lagos, Nigeria, where he infected a number of healthcare workers and airport contacts before his condition was recognised to be EVD.

May 2014
Sierra Leone and Liberia reported the first cases. The disease is assumed to have spread from Guinea through the movement of infected people over land borders.

22 March 2014
The Ministry of Health in Guinea notified WHO about a rapidly evolving outbreak of Ebola viral disease (EVD). The first cases occurred in December 2013. The outbreak is caused by a clade of Zaïre ebolavirus that is related but distinct from the viruses that have been isolated from previous outbreaks in central Africa, and clearly distinct from the Taï Forest ebolavirus that was isolated in Côte d’Ivoire 1994–1995. The first cases were reported from south-eastern Guinea and the capital Conakry.

Ebola virus disease case definition

The classification of cases under this definition relies on clinical, epidemiological, laboratory and high-risk exposure criteria, allowing the identification of persons required to be investigated for EVD and the differentiation of probable and confirmed cases for reporting. The definition aims to classify cases for epidemiological reporting.


Clinical criteria

Any person currently presenting or having presented before death:

  • Fever ≥ 38.6°C

AND any of the following:

    • Severe headache
    • Vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain
    • Unexplained haemorrhagic manifestations in various forms
    • Multi-organ failure

OR a person who died suddenly and inexplicably

Laboratory criteria

Any of the following:

  • Detection of Ebola virus nucleic acid in a clinical specimen and confirmation by sequencing or a second assay on different genomic targets.
  • Isolation of Ebola virus from a clinical specimen.

Epidemiological criteria

In the 21 days before the onset of symptoms:

  • having been in an area with community transmission;


  • having had contact with a probable or confirmed EVD case.

High-risk exposure criteria

Any of the following:

  • close face-to-face contact (e.g. within one metre) without appropriate personal protective equipment (including eye protection) with a probable or confirmed case who was coughing, vomiting, bleeding, or who had diarrhoea; or had unprotected sexual contact with a case up to three months after recovery;
  • direct contact with any material soiled by bodily fluids from a probable or confirmed case;
  • percutaneous injury (e.g. with needle) or mucosal exposure to bodily fluids, tissues or laboratory specimens of a probable or confirmed case;
  • participation in funeral rites with direct exposure to human remains in or from an affected area without appropriate personal protective equipment;
  • direct contact with bats, rodents, primates, living or dead, in or from affected areas, or bushmeat.

New developments

On 9 October 2015, the UK notified an unusual late complication in an Ebola survivor. The case is a nurse who was diagnosed with EVD on 29 December 2014, after returning from Sierra Leone to Glasgow, via London. The nurse was treated with blood plasma from an Ebola survivor and an experimental drug closely related to ZMapp. She was declared free of Ebola on 24 January 2015. The nurse was transferred on 9 October from Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow to the Royal Free Hospital in London, where she is treated – in accordance with national guidelines – in the hospital’s high-level isolation unit. As of 13 October 2015, the health authorities have identified 62 close contacts who will be closely monitored for 21 days. They will have their temperature taken twice daily, restrictions placed on travel and, in the case of healthcare workers, they were asked not to have direct patient contact during this period. Forty of the contacts had direct contact with the nurses’ bodily fluids and they have, as a precautionary measure, been offered vaccination with the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine.

This is the same vaccine that has proved to be effective in the ongoing ring vaccination trial in Guinea. Twenty-six of the 40 have been vaccinated while 14 have either declined vaccination or had pre-existing medical contraindications. All 58 close contacts are being closely monitored for 21 days after their last exposure. The 26 who were vaccinated will undergo additional monitoring because the vaccine is still being evaluated.

ECDC threat assessment

Less than ten cases per week have been reported in Guinea and Sierra Leone since the end of July 2015, and transmission has remained confined to small areas in both countries.

No EVD cases have been reported worldwide during the last two weeks. This is the longest period without cases since March 2014. However, the risk of resurgence West Africa, and hence the risk of regional and global spread, will remain until all the most-affected countries have been declared Ebola-free. The Scottish health authorities are following up the nurse’s close contacts as a precaution. As of 13 October 2015, the health authorities have identified 62 close contacts, 40 of which had direct contact with the nurses’ bodily fluids [9]. As a precautionary measure, close contacts having had direct contact with any type of bodily fluids were offered vaccination with rVSV-ZEBOV.

These vaccinations have now taken place. Twenty-six of the 40 accepted the vaccine. Fourteen have either declined the vaccine or were unable to receive it due to existing medical conditions. All 58 close contacts are being closely monitored for 21 days since their last exposure. They will have their temperature taken twice daily, restrictions placed on travel and, in the case of healthcare workers, they were asked not to have direct patient contact during this period. The 26 who were vaccinated will undergo additional monitoring because the vaccine is still being evaluated. In acute EVD, neurological symptoms of meningitis, encephalopathy, and seizures have been described.

In one case report, detectable viral load in CSF indicated that Ebola virus can cross the blood-brain barrier and thus have a pathogenic role in encephalitis. The authors concluded that treatment for Ebola virus disease should also target the central nervous system . However, there is as yet no evidence that the detection of Ebola virus in CSF during the acute illness is linked to relapse with CNS symptoms. Late manifestations of EVD, such as uveitis, were first described in 1999 . Information about late manifestations of EVD in association with RNA/viral reappearance in body fluids is limited. The continued detection of RNA and live virus in semen has been documented .

Further, persistence of the virus with long-lasting symptoms has been described once for Ebola virus. Viable virus was detected in aqueous liquid in the eye nine weeks after the clearance of viraemia and 14 weeks after disease onset in a patient presenting with uveitis. Long-term sequelae occurring over two years after Bundibugyo virus disease have been described, including neurological manifestations . The need for attention to the long-term sequelae in EVD survivors in the current West-African outbreak has been raised recently  and some studies are ongoing . The risk of further transmission from the infected healthcare worker in the United Kingdom is considered very low, given the preventive measures taken and the continued monitoring of close contacts.

Contacts most at risk are those having cared for the patient prior to the adoption of protection measures and have potentially been exposed to bodily fluids. Further investigations are needed to fully understand the mechanism and impact of the re-appearance of viral RNA in this patient more than eight months after recovery. The patient received convalescent plasma when she was first treated for EVD eight months ago. It can only be speculated at this time whether treatment with convalescent plasma may influence an EVD patient’s immune response to the infection and the ability to clear the body of the virus. Ongoing cohort studies will hopefully provide more information about EVD survivors’ complications and longterm prognosis.


Finance companies in Kenya

Commercial Banks and Mortgage Finance Institutions are licensed and regulated pursuant to the provisions of the Banking Act and the Regulations and Prudential Guidelines issued thereunder. They are the dominant players in the Kenyan Banking system and closer attention is paid to them while conducting off-site and on-site surveillance to ensure that they are in compliance with the laws and regulations.

Currently there are there are 42 licensed commercial banks and 1 mortgage finance company.

 Find below the list of registered Commercial Banks, Mortgage Finance Companies and Bank Branch listing.



1 African Banking Corporation Limited

Postal Address: P.O Box 38610-00800, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20- 4263000, 4447352, 4442382, 4443482,
44447358, 22251540/1, 0722207386, 0735611223, 0719015000,
Fax: +254-20-4447354
E-mail: headoffice@abcthebank.com; talk2us@abcthebank.com.
Website: www.abcthebank.com
Physical Address: ABC Bank House, Woodvale Groove, Westlands, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 8th December, 1994 Peer Group: Small Branches: 11

2 Bank of Africa Kenya Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 69562-00400 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20- 3275000, 3275200, 0703058000
Fax: +254-20-2211477
E-mail: headoffice@boakenya.com
Website: www.boakenya.com
Physical Address: Re-Insurance Plaza, Ground Floor – Taifa Road, Nairobi
Date Licenced: 30th April 2004 Peer Group: Medium Branches: 34

3 Bank of Baroda (K) Limited

Postal Address: P. O Box 30033 – 00100 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-2248402/12, 2226416, 2220575, 2227869,
2248402/12, 2226416, 310439
Fax: +254-3310439
E-mail: ho.kenya@bankofbaroda.com , Kenya@bankofbaroda.com
Website: www.bankofbarodaKenya.com
Physical Address: Baroda House, Koinange Street, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 1st July, 1953 Peer Group: Medium Branches: 12

4 Bank of India

Postal Address: P. O. Box 30246 – 00100 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-2221414 /5 /6 /7, 0720606707, 0734636737
Fax: +254-20-2221417
E-mail: cekenya@boikenya.com
Website: www.bankofindia.com
Physical Address: Bank of India Building, Kenyatta Avenue, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 5th June, 1953 Peer Group: Medium Branches: 5

5 Barclays Bank of Kenya Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 30120 – 00100, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-4254000, 4254601
Fax: +254-20-2213915
E-mail: barclays.kenya@barclays.com
Website: www.barclayskenya.co.ke
Physical Address: Barclays Westend, Waiyaki Way, Westlands, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 1916 Peer Group: Large Branches: 106

6 CfC Stanbic Bank Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 72833 – 00200 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-3638000 /11 /17 /18 /20 /21, 3268000,
3269000, 0711-0688000
Fax: +254-20-3752901/7
E-mail: cfcstanbic@stanbic.com
Website: www.cfcstanbicbank.co.ke
Physical Address: CFC Stanbic Centre, Chiromo Road, Westlands
Date Licenced: 1st June 2008 Peer Group: Medium Branches: 28

7 Charterhouse Bank Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 43252 -00100 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-2242246/47/48/49
Fax: +254-20-2219058, 2223060, 2242248
E-mail: info@charterhouse-bank.com
Website: N/A
Physical Address: Longonot Place, 6th Floor, Kijabe Street, Nairobi
Date Licenced: 1998 Peer Group: Small Branches: 10

8 Chase Bank (K) Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 66015-00800 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20- 2774000, 0732174100, 0703074000, 0736-
432025, 0703074101.
Fax: +254-20-4454816/4454800-10
E-mail: info@chasebank.co.ke ; atyouservice@chasebank.co.ke
Website: http://www.chasebankkenya.co.ke
Physical Address: Riverside Mews, Riverside Drive, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 1st April, 1991 Peer Group: Medium Branches: 39

9 Citibank N.A Kenya

Postal Address: P. O. Box 30711 – 00100 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20- 2754000/ 2711221
Fax: +254-20-2714810/1
E-mail: Kenya.citiservice@citi.com
Website: http://www.citibank.co.ke
Physical Address: Citibank House, Upper Hill Road, Upper Hill, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 1st July, 1974 Peer Group: Medium Branches: 3

10 Commercial Bank of Africa Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 30437-00100 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-2884000, 2884444, 0711056000, 0732156000,
0734600234, 0732156444
Fax: +254-20-2734599
E-mail: iqueries@cbagroup.com ; contact@cbagroup.com
Website: www.cbagroup.com
Physical Address: CBA Building, Mara / Ragati Road, Upper Hill
Date Licenced: 1st January, 1967 Peer Group: Large Branches: 36

11 Consolidated Bank of Kenya Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 51133 – 00200, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-340208/340836, 340551, 340298,
340747,340298,211950, 0703016000
Fax: +254-20-340836
E-mail: headoffice@consolidated-bank.com
Website: www.consolidated-bank.com
Physical Address: Consolidated Bank House, 6th Floor, Koinange Street, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 18th December, 1989 Peer Group: Small Branches: 18

12 Co-operative Bank of Kenya Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 48231 – 00100 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-3276000, 2776000, 0711049000, 0732106000
Fax: +254-20-2245506
E-mail: customerservice@co-opbank.co.ke
Website: www.co-opbank.co.ke
Physical Address: Co-operative House, 4th Floor Annex, Haile Selassie Avenue, Nairobi
Date Licenced: 1st July, 1968 Peer Group: Large Branches: 142

13 Credit Bank Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 61064-00200 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-2222300/2220789/2222317,2283000,
0728607701, 0738222300
Fax: +254-20-2216700
E-mail: info@creditbankltd.co.ke
Website: www.creditbank.co.ke
Physical Address: Mercantile House, Ground Floor, Koinange Street, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 30th November, 1994 Peer Group: Small Branches: 15

14 Development Bank of Kenya Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 30483 – 00100, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-3340401 /2 /3, 3340416, 2251082, 3340198,
3340478, 3317449,3344184, 2250143, 3317449, 3340416
0724253980/1, 0735046336
Fax: +254-20-2250399
E-mail: dbk@devbank.com
Website: www.devbank.com
Physical Address: Finance House, 16th Floor, Loita Street, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 20th September, 1996 Peer Group: Small Branches: 3

15 Diamond Trust Bank Kenya Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 61711 – 00200, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-2849000, 0732121000, 0719031000,
0732121000, 0719031000
Fax: +254-20-2245495
E-mail: info@dtbafrica.com
Website: http://www.dtbafrica.com
Physical Address: DTB Centre, Mombasa Road, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 15th November, 1994 Peer Group: Medium Branches: 51

16 Ecobank Kenya Limited

Postal Address: P. O Box 49584- 00100 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-2883000, 4968000, 0719098000
Fax: +254-20-2883304, 2883815
E-mail: info@ecobank.com
Website: www.ecobank.com
Physical Address: Ecobank Towers, Muindi Mbingu Street, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 16th June, 2008 Peer Group: Medium Branches: 33

17 Equatorial Commercial Bank Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 52467-00200, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20- 4981000, 0713600724, 0733333780
Fax: +254-20-2719625, 0703047000, 070304777
E-mail: ecbcustomerservice@ecb.co.ke
Website: www.equatorialbank.co.ke
Physical Address: Equatorial Fidelity Centre, Waiyaki Way, Westlands, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 23rd June, 1995 Peer Group: Small Branches: 13

18 Equity Bank Kenya Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 75104-00200, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20- +254 20 2262000/2262956 /2262828,
0763026000, 07633026956, 0763026828
Fax: +254-020-2737276
E-mail: info@equitybank.co.ke
Website: www.equitybankgroup.com
Physical Address: Equity Centre, 9th Floor, Hospital Road, Upper Hill, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 31st December, 2014 Peer Group: Large Branches: 174

19 Family Bank Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 74145-00200 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-020- 3252000, 3318940/2/7, 2244166, 2240601,
0733332300, 0728120444/555
Fax: +254-020- 318174
E-mail: info@familybank.co.ke; customerservice@familybank.co.ke
Website: www.familybank.co.ke
Physical Address: Family Bank Towers, 6th Floor, Muindi Mbingu Street, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 1st May 2007 Peer Group: Medium Branches: 78

20 Fidelity Commercial Bank Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 34886-00100 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-2242348, 2244187, 2245369, 2220845, 2243461,
2248842, 3315917, 2240766, 0722372531, 0733911835
Fax: +254-20-2243389/2245370
E-mail: customerservice@fidelitybank.co.ke
Website: www.fidelitybank.co.ke
Physical Address: I.P.S Building. 7th Floor, Kimathi Street, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 1st April, 1996 Peer Group: Small Branches: 14

21 First Community Bank Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 26219-00100., Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-2843000 -3, 07202843000, 0738-407521,
Fax: +254-20-344101
E-mail: info@fcb.co.ke
Website: www.firstcommunitybank.co.ke
Physical Address: Prudential Assurance Building, 1st Floor, Wabera Street, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 29th April, 2008 Peer Group: Small Branches: 18

22 Guaranty Trust Bank (K) Ltd

Postal Address: P. O. Box 20613 – 00200, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-3284000, 073084000
Fax: +254-20-342024
E-mail: banking@gtbank.com
Website: www.gtbank.com
Physical Address: Sky Park Plaza, Woodvale Close, Westlands, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 13th January, 1995 Peer Group: Medium Branches: 15

23 Giro Commercial Bank Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 13400-00800, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-4229000, 0722823684, 0722823684,
Fax: +254-20-229300
E-mail: girobank@girobankltd.com
Website: www.girobankltd.com
Physical Address: Eldama Park, Eldama Ravine Road, Off Peponi Road, Westlands, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 17th December, 1992 Peer Group: Small Branches: 8

24 Guardian Bank Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 67681 – 00200, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-020-2226771, 2226774, 2226341, 2226483, 0722-
282213, 0733-888060
Fax: +254-020 -2216633
E-mail: biashara@guardian-bank.com; headoffice@guardian-bank.com
Website: www.guardian-bank.com
Physical Address: Guardian Centre, Biashara Street, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 17th December, 1992 Peer Group: Small Branches: 11

25 Gulf African Bank Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 43683 – 00100, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-2740000, 2718608/9, 2740111, 0711075000
Fax: +254-20-2715655
E-mail: info@gulfafricanbank.com
Website: www.gulfafricanbank.com
Physical Address: Geminia Insurance Plaza, Kilimanjaro Avenue, Upper Hill, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 12th September, 2007 Peer Group: Small Branches: 17

26 Habib Bank A.G Zurich

Postal Address: P. O. Box 30584 – 00100, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-3341172/76/77, 3340835, 3310694, 0720208259
Fax: +254-20-2217004 /2218699
E-mail: habibbank@wananchi.com
Website: www.habibbank.com
Physical Address: Habib House, Koinange Street, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 1st July, 1978 Peer Group: Small Branches: 6

27 Habib Bank Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 43157 – 00100, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-2226433, 2222786, 2226401/7
Fax: +254-20-2224636, 2214636
E-mail: hblro@hblafrica.com
Website: www.hbl.com
Physical Address: Exchange Building, No.17, Koinange Street, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 2nd March, 1956 Peer Group: Small Branches : 4

28 Imperial Bank Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 44905 – 00100, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-2874000, 3343416, 0711-019000, 0732-119000
Fax: +254-20-2719705/2719652, 3342374, 2719498
E-mail: info@imperialbank.co.ke
Website: www.imperialbank.co.ke
Physical Address: Imperial Court, Westlands Road, Westlands, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 8th January, 1996 Peer Group: Medium Branches: 28

29 I & M Bank Limited

Postal Address: P.O. Box 30238 – 00100, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-3221000, 3271375/27, 0719088000,
Fax: +254-20-2711994
E-mail: invest@imbank.co.ke
Website: www.imbank.com
Physical Address: I & M Bank House, 2nd Ngong Avenue, Off Ngong Road, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 27th March, 1996 Peer Group: Medium  Branches: 33

30 Jamii Bora Bank Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 22741 – 00400, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20- 2224238/9, 2214976, 2219626, 2210338/9,
0722-201112, 0734600682
Fax: +254-20-341825
E-mail: info@jamiiborabank.co.ke
Website: www.jamiiborabank.co.ke
Physical Address: Jamii Bora House, Koinange Street, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 2nd March, 2010 Peer Group: Small Branches: 26

31 KCB Bank Kenya Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 48400 – 00100, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-3270000, 2851000, 2852000, 0711012000, 0734108200
Fax: +254-20-2242408’ 2216405
E-mail: kcbhq@kcb.co.ke
Website: www.kcbbankgroup.com
Physical Address: Kencom House, 8th Floor, Moi Avenue, Nairobi.
Date Licenced:1st November, 2015 Peer Group: Large Branches: 193

32 K-Rep Bank Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 25363 – 00603, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20- 3906000-7, 0711-058000-7, 0732-158000
Fax: +254-20-3568995
E-mail: registry@k-repbank.com
Website: www.k-repbank.com
Physical Address: K-Rep Centre, Wood Avenue, Kilimani, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 23rd March, 1999 Peer Group: Small Branches: 25

33 Middle East Bank (K) Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 47387 – 0100 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-2723120/24, 2722879, 2723124, 2723130, 0722-
205903, 0733-333441, 0731001310, 0717531448
Fax: +254-20-343776 / 2256901
E-mail: ho@mebkenya.com
Website: www.mebkenya.com
Physical Address: Mebank Tower, Milimani Road, Milimani, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 28th November, 1980 Peer Group: Small Branches: 5

34 National Bank of Kenya Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 72866 – 00200 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-2828000, 0711-038000,
Fax: +254-20-311444/2223044
E-mail: info@nationalbank.co.ke
Website: www.nationalbank.co.ke
Physical Address: National Bank Building, 2nd Floor, Harambee Avenue, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 1st January, 1968 Peer Group: Medium Branches: 73

35 NIC Bank Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 44599 – 00100 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-2888000, 4849000, 0711041000, 0732141000
Fax: +254-20-2888505/13
E-mail: info@nic-bank.com
Website: www.nic-bank.com
Physical Address: N.I.C House, Masaba Road, Upper Hill, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 28th September, 1995 Peer Group: Medium Branches: 31

36 Oriental Commercial Bank Limited

Postal Address: P.O BOX 14357-00800, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-3743278/87, 3743289/98, 0714611466,
0733610410, +254 20 2228461, 0734333291, 0722209585
Fax: +254-20-3743270
E-mail: info@orientalbank.co.ke
Website: www.orientalbank.co.ke
Physical Address: Apollo Centre, 2nd Floor, Ring Road, Westlands, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 8th February, 1991 Peer Group: Small Branches: 9

37 Paramount Universal Bank Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 14001 -00800 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-4449266/7/8, 446106 /7, 4441528, 4441527,
0723564254, 0734258020, 0728-606652, 0735445506
Fax: +254-20-449265
E-mail: info@paramountbank.co.ke
Website: www.paramountbank.co.ke
Physical Address: Sound Plaza Building, 4th Floor, Woodvale Grove, Nairobi
Date licenced: 5th July, 1995 Peer Group: Small Branches: 7

38 Prime Bank Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 43825 – 00100, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-4203000 /116 /148, 4450810, 0722205491
Fax: +254-20-4451247
E-mail: headoffice@primebank.co.ke
Website: www.primebank.co.ke
Physical Address: Prime Bank Building, Chiromo Lane/Riverside
Drive.-Junction, Westlands, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 1st March, 1992 Peer Group: Medium Branches: 18

39 Standard Chartered Bank Kenya Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 30003 – 00100, Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-3293000, 3293900, 3291000, 3294000,
0719081000, 0732104000, 0703093000
Fax: +254-20-3747880
E-mail: Talk-Us@sc.com
Website: www.standardchartered.com
Physical Address: Standard Chartered Building-Westlands RoadChiromo
Lane, Westlands, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 1910 Peer Group: Large Branches: 42

40 Trans-National Bank Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 34353 – 00100 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-2252216/19, 2224235/6, 2252188/90/91, 0720-
081772, 0733-505656
Fax: +254-20-2252225
E-mail: info@tnbl.co.ke
Website: www.tnbl.co.ke
Physical Address: Transnational Plaza, City Hall Way, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 8th January, 1985 Peer Group: Small Branches: 19

41 UBA Kenya Bank Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 34154 – 00100 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-020- 3612000/1/2,
Fax: +: +254-020-3612049, 0726-926367, 0735-500196/180/175
E-mail: ubakenya@ubagroup.com
Website: www.ubagroup.com
Physical Address: Apollo Centre, 1st Floor, Ring Road / Vale Close, Westlands, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 25th September, 2009 Peer Group: Small Branches: 4

42 Victoria Commercial Bank Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 41114 – 00100 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20-2719499, 2719815, 2710271, 2716108,
2719814.2713208, 2716196, 0721328183
Fax: +254-20-2713778/2715857
E-mail: victoria@vicbank.com
Website: www.victoriabank.co.ke
Physical Address: Victoria Towers, Mezzanine Floor, Kilimanjaro Avenue, Upper Hill, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 11th January, 1996 Peer Group: Small Branches: 3


1. HFC Limited

Postal Address: P. O. Box 30088 -00100 Nairobi
Telephone: +254-20- 3262000, 317474, 2221101, 0722201174,
0722201175, 0733617682/3
Fax: +254-20-340299/2250858
E-mail: housing@housing.co.ke
Website: www.housing.co.ke
Physical Address: Rehani House, 2nd Floor, Kenyatta Avenue / Koinange
Street Junction, Nairobi.
Date Licenced: 8th May, 2015 Peer Group: Medium Branches: 18


1. Bakki Holdco Limited

Licenced Subsidiary: K-Rep Bank Ltd
Postal Address: P.O.Box 10518 -00100, Nairobi
Telephone: 0709902000
E-mail: info@centum.co.ke
Website: www.centum.co.ke (NB: Bakki Holdco is a subsidiary of
Centum Ltd)
Physical Address: 5th Floor, International Life House, Mama Ngina Street, Nairobi
Date Authorised: 31st December, 2014

2. CfC Stanbic Holdings Limited

Licenced Subsidiary: CfC Stanbic Bank Ltd
Postal Address: P.O Box 72833-00200, Nairobi
Telephone: + 254 20 3638000
E-mail: cfcstanbic@stanbic.com
Website: www.cfcstanbicbank.co.ke
Physical Address: CfC Stanbic Centre 1st Floor, Chiromo Road,
Westlands, Nairobi
Date Authorised: 21st June 2013

3. Equity Group Holdings Limited

Licenced Subsidiary: Equity Bank Kenya Ltd
Postal Address: P.O.Box 75104 – 00200, Nairobi
Telephone: +254 763 3026000
Contact Centre: +254 763 063 000
E-mail: info@equitygroupholdings.com
Website: www.equitygroupholdings.com
Physical Address: Equity Centre, 9th Floor, Hospital Road, Upper Hill,
Date Authorised: 31st December, 2014

4. HF Group Limited

Licenced Subsidiary: HFC Ltd
Postal Address: PO Box 30088 – 00100, Nairobi
Telephone: +254(20)-3262000, 0722715256, 0722708660,
0722201175, 0733617682
E-mail: housing@hfgroup.co.ke
Website: www.hfgroup.co.ke
Physical Address: Rehani House, Kenyatta Avenue/ Koinange Street
Junction, Nairobi.
Date Authorised: 3rd June, 2015

5. I & M Holdings Limited

Licenced Subsidiary: I & M Bank Kenya Ltd
Postal Address: P.O. BOX 30238-00100, Nairobi
Telephone: +254 20 322 1000, +254 719 088 000, +254 732 100 000,
+254 753 221 000
E-mail: invest@imbank.co.ke
Website: www.imbank.com
Physical Address: I&M Bank House, 2nd Ngong Avenue, Nairobi
Date Authorised: 13th May, 2013

6. KCB Group Limited

Licenced Subsidiary: KCB Bank Kenya Ltd
Postal Address: P.O.Box 48400 – 00100, Nairobi
Telephone: +254 20 3270000 / 2851000 /2852000 / +254 711012
000 / 734 108200 /
Sms: 22522
E-mail: contactus@kcbbankgroup.com
Website: www.kcbbankgroup.com
Physical Address: Kencom House, Nairobi
Date Authorised: 1st November, 2015

7. M Holding Limited

Licenced Subsidiary: Oriental Commercial Bank Ltd
Postal Address: P O Box 73248-00200 |Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone: + 254 20 2228461/2
E-mail address: mholdings2014@gmail.com
Physical address: Jadala Place, 3rd Floor, Ngong Lane, Ngong Road,
Date Authorised: 18th February, 2015


Borama Information

Borama (Somali: Boorama, Arabic: بوراما‎), also known as Borame, is the capital and the largest city of the northwestern Awdal of Somaliland, a self-declared republic internationally recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia. The commercial seat of the province, it is situated near the border with Ethiopia.. It is situated in the Woqooyi Galbeed province.

During the Middle Ages, Borama was ruled by the Adal Sultanate. It later formed a part of the British Somaliland protectorate in the first half of the 20th century.

The city has a population of around 215,616 residents. It has been a leading example in community organizing, having been the first area in northwestern Somalia to adopt a self-help scheme in the wake of the civil war.

Borama Location and habitat

Borama is situated in northwestern Awdal region of Somalia, in a mountainous and hilly area. It has green meadows and fields, and represents a key focal point for wildlife. The town’s unusual fertility and greenery in the largely arid countryside has attracted many animals, such as gazelles, birds and camels.


Borama History

In the first half of the 20th century, Borama formed a part of the British Somaliland protectorate. It was later given district status in 1925.

In 1933, Sheikh Abdurahman Sheikh Nuur, a Qur’anic teacher and son of Borama’s qadi (judge), devised a new orthography for transcribing the Afro-Asiatic Somali language.

During the onset of World War II, the town was captured by the Italians. It was re-captured by the British the following year, in 1940.

In the post-independence period, Borama was administered as part of the official Awdal administrative region of Somalia. Since the 2000s, control of the town has been disputed between Awdal land, a proposed autonomous state, and Somaliland, a self-declared republic that is internationally recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia.

Borama Climate

Borama has a hot semi-arid climate.

Education in Borama

Borama is the capital of the Awdal province with nine secondary schools which include:

  • Aayatiin Secondary School
  • Waaberi Secondary School
  • Al Qalam Secondary School,
  • Al Aqsa Secondary School
  • Ubaya-Ibnuka’ab Secondary School
  • Al Nuur Secondary School
  • Aadam Isaak Secondary School
  • Ali Jowhar Secondary and Hassan Ardale Secondary School.

Higher learning institutions include

Amoud University
Other local tertiary academies include EELO American University and SAW Community College.
Borama Deaf School

Borama International Airport is the only airport in the Awdal region.

Public transport is by mini buses from one destination to another.


Africa Debt Rising

The developmental benefits of governments taxing citizens, even for modest sums, are often disregarded. African governments have long depended on revenue from natural resources or foreign aid to fund budgets. While the potential contribution that better domestic resource mobilisation could make to national finances has received greater attention since the 2008 global financial crisis, international donors often fail to recall the central role that bargaining over taxation has played in building effective, accountable and responsive states across the developed world. Although never popular, taxation is an essential component of consensual and representative government.

In African states, where the reach of national government beyond capital cities is often limited, reinforcing local revenue generation and collection would enhance state-building and ensure that the potential benefits of decentralisation policies are realised. If governments were to invest in establishing mutual dependence with taxpayers, and enhancing the administrative capacity of the state, improvements in policymaking and local service delivery would follow.

Property tax has been posited as the ideal source of income for municipal governments, given the association between taxes raised locally and the delivery of municipal services and infrastructure. Yet this type of revenue has been neglected in favour of consumption taxes, which as a percentage levy on transactions are less conspicuous than the annual payment of a property tax. If local authorities were to simplify the assessment of rates, make taxpayers aware of the benefits of compliance and address political resistance from wealthy property owners, a tax on land and buildings could underpin local political and economic development.
Dr. Nara Monkam is Director of Research at the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF). Mick Moore is Professorial Fellow at the Institute for Development Studies and Chief Executive Officer of the International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD).

  • Taxation and state-building
  • The pros and cons of property tax
  • A spaghetti soup of property taxes
  • Tiered government
  • Rural-urban divide, and “tax-farming”
  • Investing in reform
  • Political will…
  • …and persuasion
  • Recipe for reform
  • Notes

Taxation and state-building

Taxation plays a critical role in state-building. Most importantly, it helps to forge a social contract between citizens and the state through bargainto taxation and the government collecting the revenue. The experience of being taxed engages citizens, incentivising them to collaborate to ensure their money is well spent. Civic activism establishes norms of accountability and scrutiny that encourage the establishment or strengthening of representative assemblies. Such institutions, whether formal legislatures or informal civil society associations, provide governments with an opportunity to secure taxpayer compliance in return for a voice in setting tax policy. They also provide a forum for discussion of public expenditure priorities, ensuring that the benefits of tax revenue are shared by citizens and the state.

Taxation plays a critical role in state-building

To successfully manage a tax regime, governments must develop effective bureaucracies. The process of institutional reform can produce a number of positive outcomes. Administrative reforms foster expectations of meritocracy and professionalism, which can spread across the civil service, enhancing efficiency. The information required for taxation also increases pressure on related agencies – for example, those responsible for land registration – to improve their services. Tax collection extends the presence and reach of the government across its territory, preventing potential competitors, such as insurgents, from establishing relations of mutual dependence with local inhabitants. Finally, revenue collection generates data and information that can facilitate national economic planning.

The relative predictability of domestic taxation is advantageous compared to fluctuating income from aid flows or the export of natural resources. In an effort to maximise predictable flows of income, the state is therefore incentivised to invest in the prosperity of its citizens, rather than focusing on unearned rents from donors and international commodity markets.

Some African governments have recognised the potential benefits of taxation and established semi-autonomous revenue authorities (SARAs) to professionalise tax collection. Almost all have implemented a value-added tax (VAT) regime on goods and services. However, the formal sector, the prime target of these reforms, often accounts for less than half of the total economy. If a majority of the population is only indirectly affected by taxation, citizens will not be politically engaged. In contrast, a tax on land and buildings would stimulate the processes of state-building outlined above, as well as create a relationship between government and those active in the informal economy. Revenues from property taxation would provide finance to local authorities – a neglected and under-resourced tier of government across sub-Saharan Africa – enabling town and city councils to improve local service delivery and invest in infrastructure, improving living conditions and stimulating economic growth.

The pros and cons of property tax

Property tax is an annual levy on immovable property, such as land and buildings, usually paid by the owner to the state. This form of taxation is closely associated with financing municipal government because of the immediate connection between property values and services funded at the local level. These services may include the provision of water, sewerage, refuse collection and policing, and the maintenance of public parks, schools and roads.

Property taxation is widely regarded as highly progressive and equitable because the sum due is determined by wealth rather than being a percentage levy on transactions. The fact that land and buildings are immobile means that taxpayers cannot relocate to another jurisdiction to avoid the levy – unless they sell their assets. With welladministered property tax, local authorities can count on a predictable, autonomous, and potentially lucrative source of income.

However, in contrast to consumption taxes such as VAT, where payments are made by a small number of businesspeople, an annual property tax is highly visible to ordinary taxpayers. The fact that property owners are acutely aware of the tax has the potential to enhance the accountability of municipal governments, a positive from both economic (budget restraint and transparency) and political (democratic development) points of view. But that does not make it popular, and the unavoidable and uncompromising nature of property tax has led to it being neglected globally. Levies on land and buildings are estimated to account for 0.5% of GDP in sub-Saharan Africa.1 The unwillingness to tax property has deprived municipal governments of the capital required to improve local services and infrastructure, undermining social and economic development.

In Africa, as elsewhere in the world, technical and staffing constraints are often cited by national governments as justification for limited or non-existent local responsibility for property tax. Many governments continue to argue that allowing sub-national authorities to become significantly dependent on property taxes that they raise locally will lead to unfairness between richer and poorer localities. Generalised indictments of competence in municipal governments and the risks of disparity are the ostensible reasons why, across Africa, central governments continue to keep local authorities dependent on transfers from the national treasury. Yet reluctance could equally stem from fear of empowering opposition politicians and strongholds.

Property taxation is widely regarded as highly progressive and equitable because the sum due is determined by wealth rather than being a percentage levy on transactions

This hesitancy undervalues the potential benefits of competition between municipalities in terms of enhanced accountability and government responsiveness, and disregards examples of successful property tax reform. Citizens will not feel the potential benefits of decentralisation until responsibility for revenue-raising is devolved in tandem with responsibilities and expenditure powers. Lagos is a case in point. People are drawn to Nigeria’s commercial capital because of its comparably favourable tax administration and commitment to service delivery. A combination of political competition and an ambition to transform Lagos into a modern “megacity” has resulted in successful property tax reforms, in addition to the development of a relatively efficient bureaucracy in Lagos State. Given the importance of Lagos in the national economy, this is ultimately beneficial for Nigeria as well.

People are drawn to Nigeria’s commercial capital because of its comparably favourable tax administration and commitment to service delivery

A spaghetti soup of property taxes

A plethora of different property taxation models exist on the African continent, the legacy of colonial era tax regimes and selective reforms since independence. Governments can tax land, buildings or a combination of the two. Kenya has raised levies on land for over a century, whereas Tanzania only taxes buildings because land belongs to the state. In Uganda, land and buildings are taxed together, while in Malawi, Zambia and Botswana structural improvements on the land are taxed separately.

Taxation rates can be calculated based on plot area, capital value or rental value. Economists argue that the latter two, being ad valorem or value-based, are preferable in theory; however, both require a mature and well-functioning property market, which in turn demands clear land ownership and transaction records. Ad valorem models also require a large number of qualified valuers, capable of assessing the worth of land and/or buildings at fixed intervals. In the absence of regular revaluations, the levy loses credibility, while tax gains are quickly eroded by inflation and increases in property values. Given the bureaucratic obstacles to obtaining land title, formal property markets remain for the most part embryonic, limiting the practical application of the ad valorem model.

Many countries have adopted area-based valuation as a temporary solution. In Ethiopia, Mozambique, the Comoros, and several Nigerian states, municipal governments raise a presumptive levy on buildings based on size and location, simplifying the system to a degree where it is both transparent and easy to administer. Similarly, in Burkina Faso the national government administers a presumptive residence tax, the rate of which is determined by housing characteristics and the supply of local public goods. This residence tax was modelled on the urban tax in Morocco and a rent tax formerly levied in Tunisia. Rwanda initially adopted a similar area-based model, recognising its limited administrative capacity in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, but has since moved to selfassessment by the taxpayer. This further reduces the administrative burden, but carries significant risks of underpayment.

Following the civil war in Sierra Leone, Freetown, Bo, Makeni and Kenema city councils deviated from the ad valorem model enshrined in national legislation and also adopted a simplified, area-based model. Properties were valued based on the dimensions of the structure, construction type, location and accessibility. This equitable approach secured legitimacy for a newly re-established tier of government, while enabling the four local authorities to increase their income from property tax by 300-500% between 2007 and 2010.

Regardless of the valuation model, governments must identify all of the land and/or buildings in a given jurisdiction by undertaking a cadastral survey. Authorities need to obtain as high a coverage ratio as possible, but in practice this can prove expensive and time-consuming. Cadastral information is used to prepare a tax roll, containing a description of the property, its location, and the amount due. Finally, governments must issue tax bills, collect taxes, and deal with arrears. In light of the sensitivities of taxing property, a process for appeals should also exist, either directly to the tax authority or via the judicial system.

Tiered government

Anglophone African countries inherited a property tax system where municipal governments were responsible for administering a tax on land and/or buildings. Local authorities have continued to apply this system. However, across Francophone Africa, property taxation has been for the most part neglected, with municipal governments reliant on transfers from the centre. Since independence, national governments have retained responsibility for tax assessment and collection, although instances of revenue sharing are emerging in Cameroon, Guinea and Chad. This is a positive development as central governments usually prefer to concentrate their limited resources on reforms that can make a greater contribution to the national treasury rather than invest in improving that revenue generation.

In Nigeria, the 36 states are responsible for property tax legislation. Capital value, rental value and area-based property taxation are all used in various locations. In Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and The Gambia, an ad valorem property tax system with discrete values for each rateable property is enshrined in legislation, but a lack of data on the real estate market and a dearth of valuers has rendered this difficult to implement. Of these four countries, only Ghana has training facilities for valuation officers. Sierra Leone and Liberia together have fewer than 50 valuers for a combined population of 10 million inhabitants.

The ad valorem model is also favoured in eastern and southern Africa. It has worked well in South Africa and Namibia, where real estate markets are considerably more mature and municipal governments have adequate skills and resources. In South Africa, provincial governments provide local authorities with additional administrative support and training to assist with valuation, issuing bills and collection. Property tax contributes about one-quarter of the annual budget for the country’s eight metropolitan councils. The combination of property tax and income from user fees on services – electricity, water and sanitation – has enabled South African cities to become relatively autonomous from the central government. However, this is not the case in rural South Africa and Namibia, where property tax is not collected.

Rural-urban divide, and “tax-farming”

Despite urbanisation, an estimated 60% of Africans still live in rural areas. Basic infrastructure and service delivery remain largely absent in many settlements, while a combination of regressive levies and coercive taxation methods adopted by colonial governments and traditional leaders has undermined trust in local authorities. Many citizens instinctively flee their homes to evade tax collectors, preferring to avoid any encounter with the state. In some rural areas, as well as in informal urban settlements, international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) have circumvented local authorities by presenting themselves as the only providers of services, thus undermining the development of constructive citizen-state interaction.Rather than address this challenge to state authority head-on, the governments of Botswana, Malawi and Tanzania have contracted out tax assessment and collection to the private sector. “Tax farming” is fraught with risks, however, as contractors have no vested interest in building amicable community relations or in state-building. The desire to maximise income is to the fore, and private firms are therefore more likely to employ coercive rather than contractual taxation methods, which can exacerbate tensions between citizens and the state. If data on properties assessed and revenue generated are not available for – and subjected to – scrutiny, corruption is also likely to be prevalent.
In some rural areas, as well as in informal urban settlements, international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) have circumvented local authorities by presenting themselves as the only providers of services

Outsourcing tax collection is not a sustainable or progressive alternative to developing local administrative capacity. It undermines the development of effective bureaucracies and the social contract between the state and citizens. A more feasible solution to lack of state capacity would be to outsource elements of tax assessment and collection selectively to private sector specialists such as surveyors, IT professionals, accountants and auditors. However, investment in bureaucratic capacity remains essential if local authorities are to sustain improvements in the long term.

Investing in reform

Addressing the administrative deficit in municipal governments is the key to creating an efficient, predictable and lucrative property taxation regime. As demonstrated in Sierra Leone, minor reforms can have a dramatic impact, significantly increasing the tax take and providing much-needed capital for improvements to infrastructure and local government service delivery. This is by no means an impossible task. For example, cadastral surveys can be expedited by deploying the tools of urban planners and engineers such as geographic information systems, digital maps, and aerial photographs. Similarly, the coverage ratio can be significantly increased by digitising property ownership records, or harmonising existing local databases with the national land registry and utility company records. These quick wins can be sustained by ongoing information-sharing between different tiers of government to ensure that property sales result in the new owners being billed correctly.

In the early 2000s, the Nigerien capital of Niamey demonstrated the potential of collaboration between existing government agencies by establishing mixed teams of municipal agents, cadastral surveyors, and representatives from the state water and electricity companies to enable the municipal government to reconcile its property register with street address data in real time. Once established, databases can facilitate the maintenance of property records, issuing bills and dealing with appeals, in addition to strengthening the integrity of the system by removing opportunities for administrative discretion and rent-seeking. In the absence of up-to-date street address data or a functional postal service, short-term contractors can provide the manpower and local knowledge to hand deliver tax bills and pursue delayed payments.

As demonstrated in Sierra Leone, minor reforms can have a dramatic impact, significantly increasing the tax take

Municipal governments need to consider carefully how best to ensure widespread compliance. Many taxpayers resist paying their bills due to the lack of any visible benefit, especially in areas where infrastructure is poor and service delivery intermittent or non-existent. Non-compliance with property tax demands can be enforced in principle by the confiscation and sale of property, but in practice such penalties are often unenforceable. In the absence of improvements to public services, local authorities will only earn taxpayer compliance by creating a climate of greater legitimacy and trust.

In Francophone Africa, the first step towards ensuring legitimacy would be to decentralise responsibility for revenue generation and expenditure to municipal governments. Taxpayer education and engagement through participatory budgeting has enjoyed some success in the Cameroonian capital of Yaoundé, Madagascar, Senegal and elsewhere. The close involvement of taxpayers in the budget development process – formulation, legislation, implementation and assessment – leads to more accountable and responsive municipal government, with commensurate improvements in local service delivery and the fiscal social contract.

Political will…

Once local authorities are more widely regarded as legitimate and accountable to taxpayers, and can be relied upon to use tax revenues to provide services of value to citizens, it becomes easier for them to establish fair procedures for revenue collection and enforcement and establish a climate of trust. Residents need to have confidence that their neighbours will pay their share of the tax regardless of their political or economic influence, and that municipal governments are resolved to address any challenges to
their authority. It is inevitable that those with significant investments in property will resist the tax, but local authorities must be willing to confront strong vested interests by prosecuting non-payment, enforcing judgments and eschewing the exercise of discretion regarding the tax liabilities of wealthy landowners.

The degree of local commitment to targeting elites can be a litmus test for commitment to reform in general

A comparison of the four previously mentioned city councils in Sierra Leone is illustrative. In Bo, 93% of business owners surveyed in 2012 were able to produce a property tax receipt and 87.5% believed that local elites were successfully prosecuted for non-compliance. In Makeni and Kenema, however, only around 40% were able to produce a receipt, and just 30% were confident of successful prosecution. All three cities had demonstrated rapid revenue gains, but in Makeni and Kenema annual increases stagnated as elites proved resistant to the tax, while the municipal authorities in Bo made further progress due to sustained political will. Comparable statistics are not available for the capital Freetown, but the city council there focused its efforts on taxing large businesses and enforcing a poll tax on all residents, rather than expanding the tax base to include properties owned by local elites.2

The degree of local commitment to targeting elites can be a litmus test for commitment to reform in general. However, external advisers wishing to support reform need to have a deep understanding of the prevailing political economy if they are to successfully identify the factors determining the degree of political will. Their analysis must include an assessment of the connections between political and economic elites, the characteristics of local political competition, and whether municipal and national governments are controlled by competing parties. Sustainable reform cannot depend on any of these factors alone and must be built on a genuine commitment by local leadership to emphasise reciprocity and transparency as a means to establish a social contract.

…and persuasion

Building on the foundations of legitimacy and accountability, local governments must engage with the public and carefully consider how property tax is presented. While some African governments have attempted to “name and shame” high-profile individuals and businesses for not paying their dues, others have taken the opposite approach. The national revenue authorities in Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda hold an annual taxpayers’ appreciation week during which the benefits of paying taxes are communicated to citizens. A similar model could be deployed locally to make citizens aware of the advantages of paying their property tax bills.This approach could be taken one step further by rebranding property tax as a local “benefit tax”. This would enable African citizens to buy in to the idea of paying taxes in return for infrastructure and services provided by municipal governments. In urban areas, in particular, property tax has the potential to be reframed as a means to generate revenues that are earmarked to finance improvements that directly benefit property owners, such as waste collection, street lighting, roads and public spaces.This link in the minds of taxpayers between compliance and local service delivery is exactly what the many hundreds of African municipalities now practising participatory budgeting are seeking to promote. Its successful promotion is certainly one of the factors underlying the success of property tax in post-conflict Sierra Leone. Following reforms to the assessment method there, local authorities conducted extensive public education and awareness campaigns. Radio presentations and call-in shows provided a platform for councillors, tax officials, paramount chiefs and religious leaders to explain to taxpayers the basis of the levy, how revenue would be spent, payment methods, and appeals procedures.As African cities expand and the urban middle class grows, greater awareness of – and respect for – property rights and obligations could provide the legal and financial foundations for individuals to access credit, using their land and buildings as collateral. This would in turn help to improve land tenure systems and property markets in urban areas, in addition to providing an added incentive for tax compliance. Municipal governments could conceivably shift then from area-based to value-based property tax, although this remains a distant prospect for many.

Recipe for reform

The potential of property tax for both municipal governance and state-building is clear. A combination of legislative reform, technical know-how and political will is required to ensure that the levy becomes a durable source of income for local authorities. In many countries, especially in Francophone Africa, decentralisation policies have been enshrined in legislation, but their provisions have not been enacted. The reform of local government finance should be a priority for policymakers, but they will need determination to build alliances and confront vested interests if they are to mobilise and sustain lucrative revenues from property taxation.A number of positive trends give rise to cautious optimism regarding property tax in Africa. Prosperity is increasing and an educated, politically-engaged middle class is emerging in many countries. Social scientists identify this as a sign that the tax take should increase. Africa is also increasingly urban, amplifying popular pressure on municipal governments to do something. This in turn necessitates a reform of municipal government financing and creates opportunities for the introduction of comprehensive and effective property taxation. The spread of participatory budgeting, for example, is evidence that citizens are increasingly demanding rights, services and accountability in local government. Finally, declining oil and commodity prices and aid flows are already beginning to expose the dependence of many African governments on external rents, providing an incentive to focus on domestic revenue generation potential.
The future of African national and municipal governments will depend on institutions and tax policy that are equitable, improve local service delivery and encourage compliance through establishing a social contract between taxpayers and the state

Despite the seemingly improving outlook for the introduction of property taxes, progress remains sporadic. Across much of Africa, decentralisation has stagnated. Renewed impetus is urgently required if municipal government finance is to be reformed and the potential of property taxation realised. International donors need to be more mindful of the role of domestic resource mobilisation in underpinning effective, accountable and responsive states. Similarly, INGOs must consider the long-term implications of circumventing domestic institutions and undermining, deliberately or otherwise, the authority of governments attempting to forge a relationship of mutual dependence with taxpayers. The future of African national and municipal governments will depend on institutions and tax policy that are equitable, improve local service delivery and encourage compliance through establishing a social contract between taxpayers and the state. Property tax is one of the more effective means of realising these goals.


South Africa’s ‘Teflon president’ survives another day, but scandal will stick eventually

As South African satirist Tom Eaton put it on Twitter, asking parliament to impeach the president was like asking hyenas if they wanted to stay huddled round the carcass. There was only ever one possible answer, and the National Assembly duly delivered it on Tuesday, comprehensively rejecting the opposition’s motion to remove Jacob Zuma.

South African president Jacob Zuma survives impeachment vote

Just 143 of the total 400 MPs voted in favour of the motion to impeach, with the African National Congress (ANC) closing ranks to protect its embattled leader. Even the newly-reappointed finance minister Pravin Gordhan, thought to be a key figure in the ruling party’s anti-Zuma camp, cast his vote in support of the president.The impeachment motion was tabled following last week’s groundbreaking constitutional court ruling which found that Zuma had failed to uphold the constitution over expensive upgrades made using public money to his private home in Nkandla.

While Zuma apologised for acting unconstitutionally, he maintained that he had done so “in good faith” and promised to pay back the cash. He also ignored calls for his resignation. That the ANC accepted this line, and defended Zuma so vociferously in parliament, should come as no surprise given that the president has hand-picked many of the ruling party MPs. But it is also a reflection of the party’s longstanding emphasis on displays of public unity, even when there are serious divisions behind the scenes.

“There are members of the ANC who no doubt hate Zuma, but they hate the opposition more. They cannot be seen to be collaborating with the opposition, irrespective of the principle at stake,” said political analyst Ralph Mathekga. Mathekga argued the vote in parliament should be interpreted as the ANC uniting against the opposition rather than behind their leader, and that it doesn’t mean Zuma is now guaranteed to see out his term, which expires in 2019.

“I think for the short term, it means that this is not the type of exit that the ANC would like to see him undergo. It does not necessarily mean he is safe altogether,” Mathekga added.

Stephen Grootes, a journalist who has interviewed many of the key players in the Nkandla scandal, agrees that Zuma has been strengthened by the defeat of the impeachment motion – but only for now. “It looks like Zuma is safe for the short to the medium term, for the next six months or so, but at the same time the ANC is going to come under more pressure than ever before, particularly at local government elections,” he said.

United opposition

At the conclusion of parliament on Tuesday, the major opposition leaders – including the Democratic Alliance’s Mmusi Maimane, the Economic Freedom Fighters’ Julius Malema and the United Democratic Movement’s Bantu Holomisa – gave an unprecedented joint press conference in which they promised to work together to remove Zuma from power.

It’s clear that as the ANC puts on a united front the opposition has responded in kind, collaborating to become a formidable force ahead of upcoming local elections, scheduled for between May and August this year.

Jacob Zuma breached constitution over home upgrades, South African court rules

A successful opposition campaign could also strengthen the hand of the anti-Zuma faction within ANC. “At this point Zuma’s camp is still in charge. He has appropriated the internal processes of the party to the point where there is little recourse against him. His detractors must do sufficient political work on the ground and stage a mutiny within the branches at the lower levels of the party.

“If the ANC performs very badly at local elections they have a strong case to make at the lower levels,” said Mathekga. Zuma has been nicknamed “the Teflon president” in recognition of his ability to withstand scandal after scandal. While last week’s constitutional court ruling has provided him his greatest hurdle to date, so far his reputation as a political survivor remains intact, and even enhanced by the ANC’s latest show of parliamentary support. But he’s not out of the woods yet. Facing a united, invigorated opposition, and heading towards crucial local elections, he’s still got plenty of work to do if he is going to remain in power.