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Africa in the News: Contentious Kenyan Security Bill Passes, U.S.-South Africa Trade Row Heightens, African Development Bank 2014 Report Underscores Regional Integration

 

Kenya to Implement Controversial Security Law

 

In the past month, 64 people have been killed in two major attacks committed by al-Shabab militants in Mandera, a north-eastern region of Kenya, spurring protests in Nairobi over the rising threat of terrorism. On Thursday, December 18, after several days of heated debate, the Kenyan government passed a new bill aimed at boosting internal security, and President Uhuru Kenyatta subsequently signed it into law on Friday. The bill, as introduced in parliament on December 11, enables intelligence officers to arrest suspected terrorists and restrict the publication or broadcast of information related to ongoing terrorism investigations. However, throughout the past week, civil society organizations and opposition party legislators have campaigned against the bill, calling it an infringement on civil liberties and media freedom. Among the clauses considered most controversial were the additional powers given to the national intelligence agency and police, including the ability of these bodies to detain suspected terrorists for up to one year, mandate that landlords and vehicle dealers hand over records to police, and intercept calls—without first obtaining court orders. In its final form, however, the bill was amended to soften these clauses or drop them entirely so that intelligence agents and police will be required to obtain court orders to detain suspects for more than 24 hours, collect personal records and intercept calls.

Still, some divisive measures remained in the bill: for example, the mandate that the police must approve of all journalistic reporting related to terrorist investigations before it is made public. As he signed the bill into law, President Kenyatta stated that the new law does not oppose any aspect of Kenya’s Bill of Rights or Constitution, according to the Daily Nation.

 

U.S.-South Africa Trade Dispute over Poultry Intensifies

 

After 14 years of facing “anti-dumping” duties on its chicken exports to South Africa, the U.S. is heightening pressure on South Africa to eliminate these import duties. This added pressure comes one year after the South African International Trade Administration Commission announced additional duty increases on poultry products, including increasing duties for whole chickens to a maximum bound rate of 82 percent. In contrast, under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade preference regime, nearly 90 percent of South African exports enter the U.S. duty-free.

In a letter to South African President Jacob Zuma last week, U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) urged the president to “pursue solutions expeditiously that guarantee market access for U.S. poultry” or the U.S. might “reconsider the extension of duty preferences under AGOA for South Africa.” As AGOA is up for reauthorization in 2015, this issue will be one of many under consideration by U.S. policymakers as they work to update and renew the legislation.

 

African Development Bank Reports on Regional Integration: Progress and Challenges

 

“Regional Integration for Inclusive Growth” served as the theme of the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) 2014 African Development Report, launched on Tuesday, December 16, in Abidjan. The report examines regional integration, one of the five core operational priorities of the AfDB’s Ten-Year Strategy (2013–2022), as a catalyst for inclusive, sustainable growth, and highlights the key opportunities and challenges for Africa and its regional institutions, including financial integration, infrastructure and value chain development and migration.

At the launch event, AfDB President Donald Kaberuka further noted that: “More than infrastructure, it is political will that boosts regional integration in Africa.” While many African leaders agree on the centrality of regional integration to economic development, the AfDB report finds that “inadequate guidance on what needed to be done at the country and regional levels” has impeded deeper integration and will require additional coordination and leadership, from institutions such as the AfDB and African Union, to harmonize national and regional policies.

Author

Amy Copley

Research Analyst and Project Coordinator - Africa Growth Initiative

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