Joy and Relief in Niger
After five hard months of living hand to mouth, villagers in Niger gaze in wonder at the ears of millet ready for picking in the fields and allow themselves to hope that this year's harvest will put an end to their hardship. "We can breathe again. Thanks be to God," sighs Halilou Habou, one of 500 people living in Damana, a village more than 100 Km east of the capital, Niamey. "Look at all this millet; it's ripe and ready to reap. And in a week, or maybe 10 days I'll be able to start harvesting my beans too. We have really suffered. We lost lots of our animals. But for the past week, we have been starting to harvest the new crop," Habou said, gesturing at his two-acre expanse which has exceeded expectations. "2005 seasonal rainfall throughout much of Niger has been greater than normal, leading to very good agricultural conditions in most of the region," the US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) said in its latest bulletin published last week. Niger's Minister for Agricultural Development, Labo Moussa, agrees the outlook is good across the semi-desert and landlocked country. "The meteorological conditions favour a good harvest, the rainfall levels are heavier than last year," he told reporters. According to statistics from his ministry, the harvest will be more widespread this year with at least 10,200 villages nationwide having planted crops by the end of July.
KCB to Open Branch in South Sudan
Kenya Commercial Bank will open a branch in southern Sudan. The bank was awaiting enactment of a new constitution in Sudan before it could set up the subsidiary, KCB group chairperson Susan Mudhune said. She said the bank was expanding its network in the region to turn around its performance in regional business. By setting up subsidiaries in Sudan, Tanzania and other countries, the bank would provide fast and effective services in the competitive regional financial sector, Ms Mudhune said. The KCB boss said the bank was embracing more recent technologies and customer friendly service. Ms Mudhune spoke on Friday evening during the launch of the new look KCB branch in Kisumu.
Business Beckons in Somali
Following a painstaking peace deal that was facilitated by Kenya, and which included hosting the Somali Government in Nairobi for one year, relative peace has returned to Somalia, and so have the businessmen eyeing its oil, gas and mineral deposits. The price of peace has been enormous for Kenya, which had to foot a huge bill, not to mention hosting thousands of Somalia's displaced people. Business opportunities are opening up in Somalia, but Kenyan businesspeople have yet to take note. Besides lucrative oil or mineral deals, Somalia's reconstruction process will involve paving roads and rehabilitating buildings destroyed in the 14-year civil war. There are also issues of security to consider.
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