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Live Reporting

Emmanuel Onyango and Basillioh Mutahi

All times stated are UK

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  1. South Sudan extends partial Covid lockdown

    Nichola Mandil

    BBC News, Juba

    The authorities in South Sudan say a partial lockdown, brought in to reduce the spread of Covid-19, will remain in place for another month.

    Schools and universities will remain closed, while social gatherings - including religious and sporting events - remain banned.

    The partial lockdown will run until 3 April, according to the head of the Covid-19 national taskforce, Hussein Abdelbagi Akol.

    He termed the extension as "necessary to prevent wider spread of the Covid-19 across the country".

    Mr Abdelbagi directed law enforcement agencies to enforce the measures and ensure that violators face penalties.

    On Wednesday, South Sudan confirmed 109 new cases and three deaths, bringing the total cases to 8,414, and 100 deaths.

  2. Chad president cleared to run for sixth term

    Killian Ngala

    BBC News, Yaoundé

    Saleh Kebzabo, Chad opposition leader
    Image caption: Mr Kebzab's inclusion in the race has raised questions

    Chad's supreme court has cleared President Idris Deby, who has been in power for 30 years, to seek a sixth term in office in the 11 April presidential election.

    He faces nine other candidates who were qualified by the supreme court, including his main and historical rival, Saleh Kebzabo.

    The inclusion of Mr Kebzabo, who had on Monday withdrawn his candidacy, has raised questions.

    The opposition leader had cited the "obvious militarisation of the political climate" following the deadly attempt by security forces to arrest another opposition candidate, Yaya Dillo, at his home in the capital, N'Djamena.

    The 28 February attack left five members of Mr Dillo’s family dead, according to his party, although the government says three people were killed, including the mother of the opposition leader.

    The supreme court rejected the candidacy of seven other aspirants including Mr Dillo and Succès Masra on grounds that their parties were not "legally constituted".

    With the crackdown on a fractured opposition, the incumbent is now seen as the favourite to win re-election for a 6th term.

  3. Ethiopian party withdraws from polls over its jailed leaders

    Bekele Atoma Boru

    BBC Horn of Africa

    Jawar Mohammed addresses supporters in Addis Ababa
    Image caption: Activist Jawar Mohammed is among party members in jail

    One of Ethiopia's main opposition parties, The Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), has announced its withdrawal from parliamentary election scheduled for June until its demands are met.

    It wants its jailed leaders to be released and its offices across Oromia state to be allowed to operate.

    Senior members of the party Bekele Gerba, Dejene Tafa and Jawar Mohammed are facing terrorism charges.

    They were charged in September in relation to a wave of ethnic unrest that followed the murder in June of popular musician Hachalu Hundessa.

    “If our questions are answered and our demands are met, we will remain in the race [election],” party official Tiruneh Gemta told the BBC.

    The authorities have not yet commented on the party's withdrawal.

    Another opposition party, The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), is also mulling withdrawing from the election citing imprisonment of its senior leaders and closure of its offices - including the head office in the capital, Addis Ababa.

    The withdrawal of the two main parties could undermine the credibility of the election.

  4. Crocodiles escape from breeding farm in South Africa

    A crocodile
    Image caption: Officials have warned that the crocodiles pose a danger

    An unknown number of young crocodiles are on the loose in South Africa's Western Cape province after escaping from a breeding farm on Wednesday, local media report.

    Efforts to recapture the crocodiles, each measuring over a metre, are underway.

    Most are suspected to have found their way to the nearby Breede River.

    "They present medium danger to people because they are farmed animals used to regular feeding and do not hunt for food. But they are wild and instinctive animals and, like all wild animals, always pose a danger to people," local government spokesman James-Brent Styan is quoted by Times Live.

    About 20 crocodiles have been returned to the farm, according to a local official quoted by Eye Witness News.

  5. Electric boats give Kenyan fishermen a cheaper option

    Fishermen on Lake Victoria in Kenya have begun using some of Africa’s first electric fishing boats.

    Asobo, a Kenya-based start-up, is offering battery-powered engines to some of the tens of thousands of boats that go out onto the water each night, as a cheaper and greener alternative to petrol ones.

    Most of the estimated 60,000 fishermen who go out fishing every night use petrol-powered engines, which emit fumes and can pollute the lake through oil spills.

    "There is a difference because with this motor there are fewer fumes while driving and the petrol engine vibrates a lot and the fumes get into your lungs. This is good and works well," Cevince Odhiambo, told the BBC.

    Rose Awino said the benefits of the electric-powered boat are clear: "I had a petrol engine, but the problem is that it kept on breaking down, but with this one they repair it themselves. We can focus on preparing our fishing trips," she said.

    "We need as humanity to change our ways of using energy, and get away from fossil fuels, said Laurens Friso, Asobo's chief executive officer.

    Video content

    Video caption: Fishermen in Kenya swap petrol outboard motors for electric engines
  6. How did Zambia get into so much debt?

    Alan Kasujja

    BBC Africa Daily

    People shop at an open air market in Lusaka, Zambia.

    Zambia’s up to its eyeballs in debt.

    Late last year, it became the first African country to default on its foreign debt since the Covid pandemic began.

    “We’re on a downhill trajectory and we’ve almost hit the bottom, but there’s nothing stopping us from going further,” says Trevor Hambayi, a financial analyst in Lusaka.

    And people across the country have started feeling the pinch: many complain about rising prices and their sudden inability to pay their bills.

    “Because the price of cooking oil has also gone up, we’ve suspended meals that required cooking oil,” a Nakonde resident tells me.

    But Zambia’s looking for a way out: it’s been talking to the International Monetary Fund, hoping to get some sort of bailout.

    How did things get so bad though? And is there an easy way out of this crisis?

    Find out in Thursday’s edition of Africa Daily.

    Subscribe to the show on BBC Sounds or wherever you get your podcasts.

  7. South Sudan suspends airline after plane crash

    Nichola Mandil

    BBC News, Juba

    South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has ordered the suspension of the operations of a local airline whose plane crashed on Tuesday, killing all on board.

    The small plane operated by South Sudan Supreme Airlines Aviation Company crashed in the eastern Jonglei State shortly after take-off at Pieri airstrip.

    A map of South Sudan

    The dead included a Kenyan pilot, his South Sudanese co-pilot and seven women passengers.

    In a statement, President Kiir said the suspension of the airline was a "temporary measure to deal with these avoidable air accidents before laws governing civil aviation are strengthened via legislative means".

    "This measure is necessary for these institutions to ascertain air worthiness of the remaining South Sudan Supreme planes. It is also a necessary step to restoring public confidence in air travel in the country,” President Kiir said.

    The airline is owned by Ayii Duang Ayii, the president of South Sudan General Business Community and Employers’ Federation.

  8. At least 20 die as migrants thrown into sea off Djibouti

    BBC World Service

    Boys fish near Djibouti port on May 3, 2015.
    Image caption: Drownings are common as migrants try to escape war in Ethiopia and Somalia

    The UN says at least 20 African migrants died after smugglers threw them overboard off the coast of Djibouti.

    The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said at least 80 people were thrown off the vessel after the traffickers realised it was overloaded.

    Their boat had been carrying about 200 migrants, including women and children according to IOM.

    The migrants were on their way to Yemen, hoping to get to Saudi Arabia to look for work.

    The head of IOM, António Vitorino, tweeted about the news:

    View more on twitter

    Drownings are common off Djibouti as migrants from Ethiopia and Somalia try to escape war and poverty at home to find work in the Gulf.

  9. 'Nigerian forces shoot three' as freed girls return home

    Mayeni Jones

    BBC News, Lagos

    A member of the security forces holds a weapon as people wait for the arrival of the rescued JSS Jangebe schoolgirls in Jangebe, Zamfara, Nigeria March 3, 2021.
    Image caption: There were chaotic scenes as parents reunited with their daughters

    There were chaotic scenes on Wednesday in north-western Nigeria as parents were reunited with their kidnapped daughters in the town of Jangebe.

    Eyewitnesses say at least three people were shot by the security forces.

    The shooting reportedly happened after parents, frustrated by the length of the handover ceremony, started throwing stones at government officials. It's unclear whether there were any deaths.

    The 279 schoolgirls were kidnapped on Friday, and have been in the custody of the state government since they were freed on Tuesday.

    UN experts have called for the traumatised students to receive urgent rehabilitation.

    One mother told the AFP news agency that they were keen to return home before dark because the roads were unsafe.

    President Muhammadu Buhari declared a no-fly zone across the state on Tuesday, and banned all mining activities in response to the insecurity.

    More on this topic:

  10. Thursday's wise words

    Our African proverb of the day:

    Quote Message: When you find yourself in the same place in the forest twice, then you are lost." from A Beti proverb sent by Christian Messina Mvogo in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
    A Beti proverb sent by Christian Messina Mvogo in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
    A drawing of a forest

    Click here to send us your African proverbs.

  11. Scroll down for Wednesday's stories

    We'll be back on Thursday

    That's all from the BBC Africa Live team for now. 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 our wise words of the day:

    Quote Message: To appreciate the taste of any food, it must have been introduced to you by your mother at tender age." from A Lozi proverb sent by Mubiana Gilliam Njamba in Lusaka, Zambia
    A Lozi proverb sent by Mubiana Gilliam Njamba in Lusaka, Zambia

    Click here to send us your African proverbs.

    And we leave you with this photo of a motorbike passenger in Senegal's capital, Dakar, keeping her eyes shut amid clashes between supporters of an opposition politician and the security forces earlier on Wednesday:

    Motorbikes passing gendarmes in Dakar, Senegal - 3 March 2021
  12. Mozambique football clubs allowed to resume training

    Jose Tembe

    BBC News, Maputo

    Footballers who play for clubs in Mozambique’s top football league have been authorised to return for training.

    But the national championship, known as Mocambola, is not being allowed to resume yet.

    It was suspended in early February because of a spike in coronavirus cases.

    President Filipe Nyusi said clubs should be committed to conducting regular tests - something they had not being doing properly before.

    Any players who tested positive should be isolated, he added.

  13. Mali used to 'refine and sell off Venezuela's gold'

    A gold bar in wrapped in a newspaper - generic shot
    Image caption: Venezuela has been selling off its gold reserves

    Venezuela's cash-strapped government sent gold to Mali last year in Russian-owned planes to exchange it for foreign currency, Reuters news agency is quoting prominent Venezuelan opposition politician Julio Borges as saying.

    The gold was refined in Mali - one of Africa's largest gold producers - and then resold in the United Arab Emirates, Mr Borges, who lives in exile in neighbouring Colombia, reportedly said.

    He alleged this was part of a scheme that allowed Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's administration to stay afloat despite US sanctions.

    There has been no immediate comment from the authorities in either Mali or Venezuela.

    For the last few years, Venezuela's government has been selling off some of its gold reserves to allies in Turkey, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

    Mr Maduro was re-elected for a second six-year term in May 2018 in highly controversial elections, which most opposition parties boycotted and at a time of a deep economic crisis.

    The opposition argued that as Mr Maduro had not been elected fairly, the presidency was vacant and opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president.

    He was recognised as Venezuela's legitimate leader by more than 50 countries, including the US, the UK, the EU parliament and most Latin American nations.

    But Mr Maduro has remained in control of the security forces and also retains the support of Russia and China, two powerful allies.

    Watch this report from 2019 about Venezuela's gold diplomacy gamble:

    Video content

    Video caption: Venezuela's gold diplomacy gamble
  14. Nigeria's freed schoolchildren 'need urgent help'

    An official embraces a girl who was kidnapped from a boarding school in the northwest Nigerian state of Zamfara, after her release in Zamfara, Nigeria - 2 March 2021
    Image caption: The girls from Zamfara state were released a few days after their dramatic abduction by gunmen

    Nigerian children traumatised after their abduction need urgent and specialised help to recover from their ordeal, UN experts say.

    Their statement comes a day after 279 girls were released following their recent kidnapping from a school in north-western Zamfara state.

    It was the third school kidnapping since December in northern Nigeria by criminal gangs known to demand ransoms. In all three cases the pupils have now been freed.

    “Social inclusion of these children requires the provision of long-term measures aimed at restoring their physical and psychological well-being,” the experts said.

    They pointed to the mass kidnapping in December at a boys boarding school in Kankara in Katsina state as an example of how things had gone wrong.

    “There has still not been an impartial, independent investigation into the abductions nor specialised rehabilitation for the children after the incident," they said.

    “Due to such incidents, many children have not returned to class and some schools have already closed down in the border areas out of fear of reoccurrence. This may mean an end to education for these children.”

    Kidnapping is a widespread criminal enterprise in Nigeria - and happens on an almost daily basis.

    The UN experts said this was of particular concern when it came to abducted women and girls.

    “We are alarmed at reports that an unknown number of women and girls have been abducted in recent years, and subjected to domestic servitude, forced labour, sexual slavery through forced marriages, forced and unwanted pregnancies.”

    They reminded the Nigerian government that it had international legal obligations to protect the right to life, liberty and security of a person “as well as the obligation to adopt effective measures and policies to prevent exploitation”.

  15. Senegal opposition leader 'arrested' after clashes

    Supporters of Ousmane Sonko throwing stones at the security forces, Dakar, Senegal - 3 March 2021
    Image caption: Ousmane Sonko's supporters were throwing stones at the security forces

    Prominent Senegalese opposition politician Ousmane Sonko has been arrested, his lawyer says.

    He is accused of disturbing public order in the capital, Dakar, as he travelled to court for a hearing in a rape case.

    His motorcade was followed by hundreds of chanting supporters, who were dispersed by police with teargas.

    Supporters of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko gather in front of security forces in Dakar, Senegal - 3 March 2021
    Image caption: Supporters of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko are angry about the rape allegation
    Gendarmes firing teargas at Ousmane Sonko's supporters in Dakar, Senegal - 3 March 2021
    Image caption: Gendarmes fired teargas to disperse Ousmane Sonko's supporters

    On Friday, Senegal's parliament voted to strip Mr Sonko of his immunity so the rape prosecution could proceed.

    Mr Sonko denies he raped a woman at a salon where he went to get massages.

    Ousmane Sonko
    Image caption: Ousmane Sonko finished third in presidential elections in 2019

    The 46-year-old, who heads the opposition Pastef party, says the charges are politically motivated to stop him running in elections in 2024.

    Mr Sonko came third in the 2019 presidential election and has accused President Macky Sall of manoeuvring to run for an unconstitutional third term.

  16. Nigeria kidnap gangs targeted in mining and jet ban

    Chris Ewokor

    BBC News, Abuja

    The girls taken from a boarding school in Zamfara lining up after their release
    Image caption: The girls taken last week were reportedly made to walk a long distance into the forest

    Nigeria has announced a ban on mining and a no-fly zone in the north-western state of Zamfara as part of efforts to clamp down on notorious criminal gangs often involved in kidnapping.

    Mining activities are believed to offer cover to these groups, which often invade communities and abduct villagers - many of them for ransom. Last week, 279 girls were kidnapped from their boarding school before being released on Tuesday.

    It is suspected that powerful figures engaged in illegal artisanal mining are arming the gangs.

    “Private jets are being used to ferry arms to Zamfara and then take gold to Dubai,” presidential spokesman Garba Shehu told the BBC.

    More on this topic:

  17. Saving Africa's vulture from an ‘extinction crisis’

    Anne Okumu

    BBC News, Nairobi

    Conservationists and communities in central Kenya are working together to save vultures which are on the brink of extinction.

    One species - the bearded vulture - has less than five individuals remaining according to conservationists.

    Poisoning has been cited as the major cause of the vulture population's decline over the past three decades.

    Watch how a conservation group, The Peregrine Fund, is working in Kenya’s conservancies through the Coexistence Co-op project to try and reduce human-wildlife conflict:

    Video content

    Video caption: Endangered vultures: A species on the 'brink of extinction' in Kenya

    Produced, filmed and edited by Anthony Irungu

  18. Tanzania nuns and priests dying 'with Covid symptoms'

    Athuman Mtulya

    BBC News, Dar es Salam

    A Catholic cathedral in Zanzibar, Tanzania
    Image caption: The Catholic Church in Tanzania has been outspoken about what it sees as a hidden epidemic

    Sixty nuns and 25 priests have died in Tanzania in the last two months after showing symptoms of coronavirus, the Catholic Church in the East African nation says.

    The church, which has been outspoken about coronavirus before in one of the few countries in the world not to publish its virus data, warned Tanzanians to take Covid-19 precautions more seriously.

    President John Magufuli has previously played down the virus - and last month the health minister said that Tanzania had no plans to vaccinate.

    But Father Charles Kitima, secretary of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) - an official assembly of Catholic bishops, said the Covid-19 threat was alive in Tanzania.

    “It is upon every one of us to make sure that we take all the required precautions and protect ourselves and others, especially the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions,” he told a press conference in Dar es Salaam.

    Father Charles Kitima
    Image caption: Fr Kitima said the church was not allowed to test for Covid-19 at its 500 health centres

    Fr Kitima said the church could not say whether the deaths of the clergy had been caused by coronavirus as they had not been tested, though they had all shown signs of Covid-19, including “respiratory challenges”.

    “People are not tested. That’s a big challenge. The church has about 500 health centres across the country but we are not allowed to test and we don’t have the equipment to do so,” he said.

    Fr Kitima said the church had noted a recent change in tone from the government as far as Covid precautions were concerned, but said that a number of people were still not observing the restrictions as no punitive measures were being taken against them.

    This is the second time this year that the church has spoken out about the threat of the pandemic in the country, saying in January it had noticed a spike in deaths in its parishes.

    Tanzania has not issued any statistics on Covid-19 since May last year.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has pleaded for the country to do so – and review its position on the vaccines currently being rolled out through the Covax distribution scheme.

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