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  1. Mali region bans motorbikes
  2. Tanzania 'stops 40 health centres from offering Aids services'
  3. Hundreds of migrants enter Spanish enclave of Ceuta from Morocco
  4. Kenya's government wants to monitor citizens' mobile phone calls
  5. Militant attack on Maiduguri repelled
  6. Egypt appoints first-ever female provincial governor
  7. Cyclone Dineo kills seven people in Mozambique
  8. Email stories and comments to - Friday 17 February 2017

Live Reporting

By Tom Spender and Clare Spencer

All times stated are UK

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Scroll down for Friday's stories

We'll be back next week

That's all from us today. 

Keep up-to-date with what's happening across the continent by listening to the Africa Today podcast or checking the BBC News website.    

A reminder of today's wise words:

A long wait may harm the stomach.

Click here to send us your African proverbs.

And we leave you with this picture of South Sudanese model Nykhor Paul,at New York Fashion week, it's part of our top shots of the week:

South Sudanese model Nykhor Paul

Ivorian cocoa farmers call off strike

Alex Duval Smith

BBC News, Abidjan

Ivorian cocoa farmers have agreed to call off their strike to allow for talks with the Coffee and Cocoa Council. 

Stockpiles of cocoa have built up over the past few months in Ivorian ports as exporters have defaulted on orders. 

Meanwhile the farmers say they have not been paid for their crops since December.

On Thursday striking growers brandished documents showing buyers have not paid them

Zambia newspaper editor criticises home raid

Mr M'membe described the raid on his home as "cowardly"

Zambian authorities are seeking to arrest the managing editor of the country's leading opposition newspaper, which was closed down last year ahead of presidential elections, AFP reported.

They have already arrested his wife Mutinta after turning up at his house while he was on holiday. She was detained in custody for two days before being released on bail and charged with allegedly obstructing the police.

Fred M'membe faces contempt of court charges in a long-running legal battle over tax payments and alleged unpaid salaries since The Post newspaper was shut and its publishing company wound up. 

The closure of The Post - a vocal critic of President Edgar Lungu - was severely criticised by election observers, with the EU saying that campaigning was "marred by systematic bias in state media". Mr Lungu won the election but his opponent said it was rigged.

Mr M'membe has in the past accused the government of closing his newspaper to stifle independent media.

In a statement, he criticised the Zambian authorities for Wednesday's raid on his home:

I learnt of the arrest of my wife Mutinta and harassment of my lawyer Nchima Nchito with deep sadness. This was inhuman, unacceptable and done in bad faith. The invasion of my home in my absence was and is a cowardly and desperate act.

The liquidation of The Post is supposed to be a civil issue. The use of the police, intelligence officers and the entire state machinery, including State House, is unwarranted. It is impunity of the highest order.

My children, wife and relatives residing at my home have to be left alone. The policemen and state agents should vacate my home. It is me President Edgar Lungu is after. He should have the patience to wait for a few more days."

UN demands to know fate of South Sudanese abducted in Kenya

The UN has asked the Kenyan and South Sudanese governments to reveal the whereabouts of two South Sudanese men who were abducted in Kenya last month. 

They say the two were reportedly abducted with the involvement of security personnel from both Kenya and South Sudan. 

Dong Samuel Luak, a human rights activist from South Sudan who had been given refugee status in Kenya, was on his way to board a bus in Nairobi when he was snatched on 23 January, the UN says in a statement.

The statement goes on to say Aggrey Idri Ezibon, chair of the rebel SPLM-IO’s Humanitarian Affairs Committee, was last seen the next day in the Kilimani neighbourhood of Nairobi.

“The ongoing hearings and recent arrest warrant issued for a suspect linked to these disappearances are positive steps in the right direction,” said a United Nations expert group on enforced disappearances. 

“However, efforts must be stepped up so as to ensure credible investigations, including into the alleged role of Kenya security agents, and promptly establish the whereabouts of the two men,” the group added.

'Make Somalia great again'

US President Donald Trump's election slogan is becoming a tool of US diplomacy and spreading across the world:

View more on twitter

Even camels are not surviving devastating drought

Emmanuel Igunza

BBC Africa, Addis Ababa

There is scarce water for camels and some are not surviving

Thousands of Somali refugees are crossing into neighboring Ethiopia as a devastating drought bites in their country.   

When I met one farmer he told me that even his camels had died:

In my life, I have not witnessed drought as terrible as this one. I had 50 camels and 200 goats. They are all gone now. All I have left are my children."

Hussein Ali Farah
Hussein Ali Farah said he only knows life as a farmer

Hussein Ali Farah, 56, went on to tell me that he hoped he could quickly get assistance to re-stock his animals animals. 

I met him in the Weder area in south east Ethiopia, where some people had taken their camels in search for water:

Camel and man
Water containers
Camels and boy

Ethiopia itself is in the grip of a new drought in its southern and southeastern regions and the government is appealing for nearly $1bn for urgent of food aid.

The UN has warned that this drought affecting the Horn and Eastern Africa "has all the signs of the drought in 2011" when a quarter of a million people died.  

Watch more about the looming famine:

Somalia faces 'catastrophic' famine if drought continues

Uganda 'not about to expel Burundi refugees'

Sammy Maina

BBC Monitoring

Burundi refugees in Tanzania

The head of Uganda's refugee department has denied media reports that Kampala is seeking to expel Burundian refugees from the country at the behest of Bujumbura.

Commissioner of Refugees David Apollo Kazungu said the government would "continue to provide asylum to the Burundian refugees till such a time when it is safe for them to return".

Deutsche Welle had reported that Uganda planned to send home at least 46,000 refugees from Burundi following a request from its government. 

DW said Ugandan Minister of Refugees Hillary Onek as saying: "You are given a visa to stay here for three months and if your visa is expired, we shall not do it like Trump but we shall advise them quietly to go back".

Burundi has been hit by unrest since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to stand for a third term in April 2015. Several hundred people have died since the violence started and at least 240,000 have fled to Tanzania, Rwanda, DR Congo and Uganda.

Can Ghana build its way out of trouble?

With the election of a new president in January 2017 and the start of a new year, most Ghanaians are hoping for a new dawn. 

The West African nation has suffered a few economic shocks - affecting its currency, jobs and local investments - and has raised its levels of public debt and borrowing. 

However, despite its economic woes, property developers say there is everything to play for. 

The BBC’s Lerato Mbele finds out more:

Can Ghana build its way out of trouble?

Kenya denies mass mobile phone surveillance plan

Kenya has more than 30 million mobile phone subscribers
Kenya has more than 30 million mobile phone subscribers

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has denied it wants to carry out mass surveillance amid criticism of its plan to monitor mobile phone use.

The CA has ordered mobile phone firms to install equipment to allow the telecommunications regulator to monitor activity on their networks.

It means the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) would have the ability to listen to calls, read messages and view financial transactions.

But the body says the move is not about mass surveillance and is necessary in its fight against counterfeit phones.

Such handsets cannot be tracked and are often used by criminals.

The country's biggest telecoms operator, Safaricom, says it has "strong reservations" about the move.

Read the full story here

What next for Libya?

Six years ago this week the brutal repression of a protest in Libya's second city of Benghazi inspired a revolution that led to the fall of Col Muammar Gaddafi. 

Today the country is preyed on by more than 1,500 militias. Different governments rule in the west around Tripoli and in the east from Tobruk.

Now some international powers are considering abandoning the ineffectual UN-led attempts to find political solutions and instead are turning once again to a Libyan military leader to seize control. 

General Khalifa Haftar, commander of a powerful militia, the Libyan National Army, is seen by his supporters as the only man to restore stability to the country. 

But his critics argue that the last thing Libya needs is a return to the rule of a strongman.

The BBC's Rana Jawad explained on Newshour the complex situation:

This content only works in the UK.

Is General Khalifa Haftar Libya's best chance for stability or a threat to a free future?

Maiduguri bombers 'only succeeded in blowing themselves up'

Forensics cover a dead body and clear the scene of a blast in Maiduguri on February 17, 2017.
Getty Images
Ltest reports suggest only the bombers themselves died

We reported earlier that a firefight between Nigerian security forces and suspected Boko Haram militants took place last night in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri.

Now Mohammed Kanar, from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has told AFP press agency says as many as seven suicide bombers were involved. 

He said six were women:

None of the six female bombers succeeded in their attacks. They ended up being killed in the explosions. A man who dropped them off in his car then tried to ram a military checkpoint was also unsuccessful.

He added that the bombers only succeeded in blowing themselves up, contrary to earlier reports.

Hundreds of migrants sent back to Senegal from Libya

Leone Ouedraogo

BBC Africa, Dakar

Migrants detained in Tripoli
Getty Images
The migrants were detained in Tripoli

At least 174 Senegalese migrants have returned from Libya where they were detained whilst attempting to cross the Mediterranean. 

Abdoulaye Niass, one of the peoplewho returned today, told me his situation in Libya was dire:  

We were in prison. I spend almost 4 months there. We went there because we wanted to reach Europe. But they caught us at sea. Over there [in Libya], we didn't have food. We couldn’t sleep well. They were beating us.

The operation was organised by Senegalese authorities under the supervision of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).  

In 2016, IOM has supported at least 1,500 migrants to voluntarily return to their countries of origin.

Sudan's 'forgotten' pyramids

More than 200km (124 miles) from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, the remains of an ancient city stand in the desert.

The Nubian pyramids in Meroe are smaller than the more famous ones in Egypt but there are many more of them.

BBC Travel Show's Ben Zand joined some guides making a trek to the site and found it unguarded and deserted of tourists.

Find out more @bbctravelshow

The 'forgotten' pyramids of Sudan

South Sudan minister defects to rebels

View more on twitter

A South Sudanese minister has resigned from the country's unity government to rejoin the rebel movement led by the former Vice-President Riek Machar. 

The minister, Gabriel Duop Lam, was appointed last year as part of a peace deal. 

He initially did not join Mr Machar when he fled the country following days of fighting in the capital, Juba, last July, but has now changed his mind. 

The defection follows the recent resignation of a senior general, Thomas Cirillo Swaka. 

South Sudan
South Sudan's three-year old civil war has displaced more than 3.5 million people

Kissing the ground in Ceuta

We are getting images of the moments after immigrants stormed through fence this morning to enter Ceuta, the Spanish enclave in North Africa.

Kissing ground

AFP reports that one person shouted: "I love you Mamma, long live Spain!"   

A migrant holding a European Union flag sits on the ground with others after storming a fence to enter the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, Spain, Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. An emergency team in Ceuta is assisting more than 300 migrants who crossed the fence surrounding Spain"s enclave in North Africa early Friday, a spokesman for the local Red Cross said.

An emergency team in Ceuta is assisting more than 300 migrants, a spokesman for the local Red Cross told AFP.


Abidjan's accidental entrepreneur

Evelyne Masumbuko is the wife of an expat worker who found herself moving to Abidjan in Ivory Coast to join her husband in 2015. 

Anxious to make the move seamless and interesting for her family, she gathered all the information she could find about the new country and collected it into one portal. 

That information became a website for other expats and then grew into an entertainment channel, linking local Ivorian celebrities with visitors and fans. 

Evelyne tells the BBC how she become an entrepreneur, running a business that she accidentally created.

Ivory Coast's accidental ex-pat network entrepreneur

Kenyan Uber story goes viral

A short story about a Nairobi Uber driver has been shared online thousands of times after being posted on Facebook by law student Charles Muchori last week. 

View more on facebook

Mr Chanchori regularly posts stories on his page, but wasn't prepared for the response to this one, which has now attracted the interest of film-makers.  

He spoke to the BBC World Service:

A short story about a Nairobi Uber driver has been shared online thousands of times

Mali region bans motorbike use

Alex Duval Smith

BBC News, Abidjan

bikes in Mali
Getty Images
Motorcycles are the main form of transport in Mali

In Mali the chief of army staff has banned the use of motorcycles for moving between villages in the Segou region. 

The ban - that seems centred on areas where the Islamist Macina Liberation Front is active - comes into effect at midnight on Sunday and specifically states that motorised two-wheelers are linked to terrorism. 

It's an extraordinary decision for Mali where motorbikes are the number one form of transport.

The decision comes in the wake of a clampdown in central Mali on ethnic Fulanis - who some Malian believe are linked to the Macina militants. 

Human rights groups have criticised a Malian military operation which led to dozens of arrests and a number of deaths in the past week.

Mali order
The order says motorcycles are banned in the Segou region

UK government investigating Charles Taylor 'contact with allies' from prison

Esther Webber

BBC News

Charles Taylor

The UK government has confirmed it is looking into reports that war criminal Charles Taylor phoned his political allies from prison in the north of England.

A spokeswoman for the UK Foreign Office told the BBC: "The UK has discussed this at the highest levels with the Liberian government and we are investigating.”

Earlier this week Liberian information minister Eugene Nagbe, speaking to the BBC World Service, said he was "very concerned" at the alleged phone call. 

A British MP who chairs an all-party group on Africa, Labour's Chi Onwurah, has also spoken out, warning that Taylor's influence "has the potential to threaten peace in Liberia," especially in light of the forthcoming election. 

On a visit to Monrovia on Wednesday, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson emphasised the importance of UK's relationship with Liberia. 

'We will field Robert Mugabe's corpse for election'

Grace Mugabe

Grace Mugabe has been giving a speech at a campaign rally as she continues to position herself as her husband’s potential successor as leader.

She has reportedly offered to field 92-year-old Robert Mugabe's corpse as an election candidate to demonstrate Zimbabweans' affection for him. 

View more on twitter
View more on twitter
View more on twitter

'Deadly gas leak' at South Africa's Durban port

Local media in the South African port city of Durban are quoting emergency services as saying a group of workers were reportedly underground when there was a gas leak:

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Specialists join Zimbabwe doctors strike

Shingai Nyoka

BBC Africa, Harare

A group of specialist doctors have withdrawn their services from Zimbabwe’s state hospitals following a junior doctors strike over work conditions.  

In a notice issued today, obstetricians and gynaecologists say it is no longer safe to work without the services of the striking doctors.

The withdrawal is expected to disrupt maternal and perinatal care at three of the largest state hospitals. The specialists say they can only work once the junior doctors are available. 

Registrars say it is no longer safe to continue working without doctors

The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association says close to 200 of its members are taking part in the strike.

The striking doctors are demanding more jobs and more pay. The government says it has already offered jobs to more than 100 doctors about to complete their internships. But the second demand to increase on-call allowances from the current $300 (£240) a month has been outstanding since 2014. 

The doctors association says state employed doctors are some of the lowest paid in southern Africa and most junior doctors are earning just under $800 a month. 

The government has urged the doctors to return to work while negotiations continue.

Maiduguri attack aftermath

MD attack

The BBC's Bilkisu Babangida in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri has sent in photos of the charred remains of vehicles in the Muna area.

They attest to the ferocity of a firefight between security forces and suspected Boko Haram militants who were attempting to launch an attack.

Two civilians and several militants are reported to have died in the clash, which saw the militants repelled.

See earlier post for more details

MD attack

Somali 'Farmajo fan' video goes viral

Abdullahi Yusuf Osman

BBC Monitoring, Nairobi

A video of an avid supporter of Somalia's recently-elected President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo is making waves among Somalis on Facebook and Twitter. 

On the night of President Farmajo's election on 8 February, Abdullahi Mohamed Osman, a farmer from the town of Jowhar, was recorded chanting wildly in the streets.

He sang out: “Ar Farmajo iigeya” - which loosely translates as “take me to Farmajo”. The people around him are seen in the video chanting back “Walaguugeyna” - which means “you will be taken to him”.

View more on twitter

The video began to circulate on 12 February when Osman did indeed get to meet the president.

View more on twitter

A number of Facebook users have since changed their user names to “Ar Farmajo iigeya" and some have created their own version of the video.

Nairobi-based Somali rapper Digriyow has jumped on the bandwagon and released a song called 'Farmajo iigeya’  

View more on youtube

Somalis at home and abroad are enthusiastic about the new president. They see him as a unifier and many celebrated his victory regardless of their own clan affiliation.

Read more: Somalia's 'Mr Cheese' president has a lot on his plate

Kenyan maize boss kidnapped in Mozambique

Jose Tembe

BBC Africa, Maputo

A Kenyan boss of a maize mill has been kidnapped in Matola, about 10 kilometres southwest of the Mozambican capital, Maputo. 

The incident, according to eyewitnesses, happened yesterday morning a few meters from his work, a maize milling company. The police say the culprits are still at large. 

Police spokesman Juarce Martins said:

The kidnappers have not yet contacted either the relatives of their captive nor colleagues of the company, where he was the managing director, for a possible ransom.”

Kidnapping, particularly for ransom, has become common in Mozambique. Before the main victims have been wealthy men of Asian origin.

Tanzania 'stops 40 health centers from offering Aids services'

HIV test
Getty Images

Tanzania's government has stopped 40 privately run health centers from providing Aids-related services, accusing them of catering to homosexuals, reports AP news agency.

Gay sex is criminalised in the country and is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. 

The government believes that non-governmental organisations are using some health centers to promote gay sex, AP reports Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu as saying.

The health minister also announced that the government was expanding HIV/AIDs services at 3,000 other health centers across the country, AP adds.   

AP goes on to say in September, the government temporarily suspended HIV/AIDS outreach projects targeting gay men.

Dineo heads to South Africa

Milton Nkosi

BBC Africa, Johannesburg

BBC Weather
Dineo has been making its way over northeastern South Africa

Cylone Dineo has been downgraded in strength but floods continue to threaten villages and towns.

Dineo has already claimed seven lives and damaged about 20,000 homes and has displaced at least 130,000 people in Mozambique.

Here in Johannesburg we woke up with low cloud and light rain blanketing the city.

Vast areas in Limpopo, KwaZulu Natal and Mpumalanga provinces are expected to experience heavy rain and strong winds this weekend.

The weather service here has issued warnings saying they are “posing a great risk”.

The head of South Africa’s Disaster Management Centre Mmaphaka Tau said “In the country we are having rainfall in various areas but it is just rain without major storms. We will still urge our communities to remain alert because localised flooding can be determined by a number of factors.”

View more on twitter

First female governor appointed in Egypt

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For the first time in Egypt's history a woman has been appointed as a provincial governor. 

Nadia Ahmed Abdou has been sworn into office in the Governorate of Beheira, in the Nile Delta. 

She's an engineer with a long record of public service and her foerce decision-making powers have seen her earn the nickname "iron woman".

The news site Egyptian Streets reports that she has served as the deputy governor since 2013. She spent 10 years, from 2002 to 2012, as chief of the Alexandria Drinking Water Company. She was also the first woman to hold this post. 

Two dead as militants repelled from Maiduguri


Nine suspected Boko Haram militants are reported to have been killed in an overnight attack on the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, the most serious such assault for months. 

Three female suicide bombers blew themselves up on the outskirts, killing two civilians. 

Witnesses say troops fired at gunmen escorting other suicide bombers, killing at least six. In a battle lasting more than an hour, the security forces prevented the militants from entering the city.

Nigeria's Sun newspaper quoted local sources who said the militants tried to invade the newly constructed Customs House where internally displaced people are being housed.

Battle of the Pogbas: Paul 3-0 Florentin

Florentin Pogba (left) sported brother Paul's number six on the side of his head
Florentin Pogba (left) sported brother Paul's number six on the side of his head

The world's most expensive player, Paul Pogba, was up against his brother Florentin, as Manchester United played St Etienne in the Europa League on Thursday evening.

Florentin - a Guinea international - was signed by the French side for 500,000 euros in 2012.

Mother Yeo and third brother Mathias watched from the stands as the two shared a warm embrace before kick-off, with the elder sibling Florentin sporting a number 19 on one side of his head and his brother's six on the other.

"It is something very magical, it does not happen every day and I really enjoyed playing against my brother," said the United player.

France international Paul controlled the tempo of the match in a dominant display.

However, on one occasion he inadvertently gave the ball away to Florentin, whose burst forward eventually saw the ball reach Senegalese midfielder Saivet, but he could not find the target.

Florentin's rising drive in the first half almost saw him nick an away goal for his side, while Paul wasted good chances in the second period, the best of which came as he headed against the woodwork when unmarked.

However the Saint-Etienne defender's evening ended early as he hobbled off with an injury with 12 minutes remaining.

The brothers will clash again in the return leg.

Read the full match report here

Cyclone Dineo 'kills 7 in Mozambique'

Cyclone Dineo killed seven people and affected 130,000 across southern Mozambique, AFP news agency quotes Mozambique's natural disaster agency as saying.

They added that more than 20,000 homes were destroyed by winds and very strong rain and the search for survivors is ongoing.

Dineo's impact was greatest in Inhambane, an area popular with tourists on Mozambique's south east coast, as this Mozambican Human Rights Watch researcher tweets:

View more on twitter

It was struck by winds of more than 100 kmh (62 mph), torrential rain and rough seas. 

Dineo was downgraded to a tropical depression on Thursday and renamed "ex-Dineo". 

However, a BBC Weather forecast warns that heavy rain across Southern Africa could lead to flooding.

Hundreds of migrants 'enter Spanish enclave from Morocco'

Hundreds of migrants smashed their way into Spain's North African territory of Ceuta from Morocco early this morning and some were injured doing so, the emergency services and police told AFP news agency.

The Civil Guard estimated 500 people could have succeeded in entering the town, the emergency services said on Twitter. 

They added many of them were hurt along with members of the security forces. 

Back in December around 400 migrants  were photographed storming a border fence to enter Ceuta from Morocco - that was the most in a decade.

People storming Ceuta border fence in December 2016
Hundreds of migrants also stormed the Ceuta border fence in December

The tiny Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla sit on the northern shores of Morocco's Mediterranean coast. Together they form the European Union's only land borders with Africa.        

Kenya in mobile snooping plan

Wanyama wa Chebusiri

BBC Africa

kenyans on phones
Tom Spender
Kenya's government wants to collect citizens' call data

Kenyan authorities have launched an attempt to compel mobile phone companies in the country to allow government agents to tap people’s communication data. 

The government industry regulator, Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK), has written to mobile service providers requesting to be able to monitor their networks, effectively opening up private communication data on phone calls, text messages and financial transactions to an entity other than those already licensed to hold the information. 

The proposed move would see more than 30 million mobile phone owners in Kenya lose their privacy and confidentiality. 

The main mobile phone companies are Safaricom, Airtel and Orange. 

CAK officials say the plan, which is aimed at tracking counterfeit devices, is expected to be implemented as soon as next week.  

However there has been sharp criticism of the plan in local media.


Today's wise words

Our African proverb of the day:   

A long wait may harm the stomach.

A Swahili proverb sent by Edwin Sosthenes, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Click here to send us your proverbs

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