African Press Review

South Africa's plans for 2013 when it will host two major international gatherings, Kenya's upcoming elections and Egypt's economic woes are all subjects in today's papers around Africa.

The National Development Plan, rhinos, service delivery, soccer, Brics, Marikana and Nelson Mandela were on South African president Jacob Zuma's mind as 2012 drew to a close yesterday. That's the main front-page story in this morning's BusinessDay.

In his New Year's message, the president said the National Development Plan would guide the country to prosperity.

By 2030 the plan is intended to create a society where people have adequate access to water, electricity, healthcare, education, safety and jobs.

South Africa will host the Africa Cup of Nations football tournament later this month. In March, the country will host the Brics group of nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, in Durban.

The main story in the Nairobi Standard is headlined "Kenyans hope for change of fortunes in 2013".

Kenyans usher in the New Year with anxiety and optimism, the article reads, as the country prepares to turn the page on bad political governance.

The first elections under the current Constitution take place on March 4, and many Kenyans expect those elections to open a new chapter.

Sister paper The Daily Nation gives pride of place to a 2013 Watch List . . . the events and personalities to look out for over the coming twelve months.

Top of the list, the first elections since the enactment of the new Constitution, on March 4th.

Among the constitutional changes, Kenya's next president will be sworn into office at a public function to be presided over by the Chief Justice. In the past, the swearing-in has been a private affair for party supporters.

Third on the Nation's watch list is the fact that Kenya will celebrate its Golden Jubilee on December 12, marking 50 years since it attained independence from the British in 1963.

The chances of Jubilee Coalition presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate, Eldoret North MP William Ruto participating in a presidential run-off have been complicated by the cases facing them at the International Criminal Court.

Although the runoff will be held before the ICC hearing starts, the swearing-in will take place exactly 14 days after the results are announced, by which time the two politicians will be at the Hague.

In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni has admitted that 2012 was a difficult year for his administration and for the country in general, acknowledging that the past 12 months have been "full of economic challenges" and missed opportunities.

Runaway inflation, high prices of key commodities such as sugar and fuel, a slump in economic growth, continuing corruption and apparent sabotage by "some elements" of the political class, Museveni said, were among the troubles that had blighted his presidency.

The president, however, said that "in spite of intensive political and economic sabotage" by the opposition, his administration had been able to maintain success in strategic areas such as electricity and communications.

Foreign reserves are now at a critical low and must be maintained to repay the foreign debt to preserve the country's reputation in global financial markets and to pay for imports of strategic goods, according to the Central Bank of Egypt. That's on the gloomy front page of the Egypt Independent.

The International Monetary Fund on Monday welcomed steps Egypt has taken to stop a drain on its international reserves, which have seen the Egyptian pound plunge to record lows.

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