10 August 2012

African Press Review 10 August 2012

Kenyans's Olympic hopes are salvaged. Zimbabwe's bus passengers run out of change. Nigeria's plan for state-of-the-art airports takes off but how much will it cost? And good news if you're planning to give birth on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

As you can imagine, the Kenyan press is full of praise for David Rudisha who has broken his world record by running the 800m in one minute and 40 seconds in London's Olympic stadium.

The Standard is headlining "Rudisha smashes his world record in 800m". In case you were wondering his previous record was one minute and 41 seconds. The paper also notes that Botswana's Nigel Amos finished second in a national record time of 1:41.73.

London Olympic Games 2012

The paper writes that Kudisha "had promised not to let Kenyans down and his victory has indeed helped to calm Kenyans who had begun to lose hope" after the country had failed to retain the 1500m men's title.

The Daily Nation talks a little more about bronze winner Kenyan Timothy Kitum who ran his personal best of 1:42.53. The Daily Nation looks at previous 800m record-holders such as Sebastian Coe, who was Britain's top dog in organising the London 2012 Olympics.

The paper says Rudisha revealed that earlier this year he was "was shown around [the Olympic stadium] by Sebastian Coe, whose world record in the event set in 1981 lasted for 16 years". No doubt this year's record breaker will hope to see his time go unbeaten for just as long.

Over in Zimbabwe things are not so positive, especially if you take local buses in and around Harare. South Africa's Mail&Guardian is headlining "Small change sparks fights in coin-starved Zimbabwe".

Hyperinflation forced Zimbabwe to dump the local currency three years ago to bring relief to the economy. Unfortunately, this has created a new problem: a lack of coins. People now shout at each other and end up fighting as they get on or off the buses because everyone fears they will get short-changed. One security guard is reported to have shot dead a bus conductor who didn't or couldn't give him change.

The US dollar and the South African rand are currently Zimbabwe's official currencies. Because of the lack of change, prices are rounded up meaning goods and services are more expensive.

"The average city commute costs 50 cents," explains the Mail& Guardian. "But the death of coins means passengers - handing over bills - are always owed change. Some bus drivers pair the passengers up, handing them a dollar bill in change and leave the two riders to sort the rest out themselves."

As you can imagine, this isn't very practical. Bus drivers and conductors have tried issuing coupons with credit notes on them but this has led to fake coupons being created. "To get round the problem, a five rand coin has become widely accepted as equivalent to 50 cents, for the purposes of public transport, regardless of the actual exchange rate."

The paper notes that authorities considered importing US coins but the idea was dropped when shipping costs proved too expensive - costing two dollars for a batch of coins worth one dollar.

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

Nigeria's Guardian describes how Aviation Minister Stella Oduah-Ogiewonyi has been working on her ambitious airport-remodelling project. It writes that her project was met with much support across Nigeria as many hope this would lead to state-of-the-art-airports. Bearing in mind Nigeria's recent track record in air-related accidents, it's no wonder the country is eager for change.

The paper notes that questions have been raised about the cost of the project. It seems to have been shrouded in secrecy.

"Figures are flying about" and many question are being asked on the quality of the job. Some airports are still in a state of infancy, "while many others are yet to hit the 50 per cent completion stage".

At Port Harcourt Airport, for example, "travellers are frequently reminded that they should bear with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria for the ongoing project that is taking eternity to progress or be completed".

The minister and her advisors are said to be begging for investment and they have even gone abroad in the hope of obtaining it. According to a number of experts interviewed by the paper, a lot of time and money is being wasted.

Staying in Nigeria, there is good news for those of you who are about to give birth, especially if you are attending the Redeemed Christian Church of God convention. The Punch has an article on how organisers have just hired 300 nurses to cater for the needs of expectant mothers on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

At least 35 babies are already said to have been delivered.

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