Russia Launches Telecoms Satellite For Angola

Russia on Tuesday launched a rocket carrying Angosat-1, the first national telecoms satellite for Angola, from its Baikonur space pad, with rare use of a rocket from Ukraine despite collapsed ties between the two nations.

Live footage aired by Roscosmos space corporation showed the spacecraft take off into the night from the freezing launch pad in Kazakhstan. It reached initial orbit shortly after.

The Zenit-2SB rocket carrying Angosat to orbit was supplied by Ukrainian maker Yuzhmash, making the launch a rare joint project between the two countries since 2014 when Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.

The Angosat project was agreed by Russia and Angola in 2009 and includes the satellite, its launch, and on-ground infrastructure in a suburb of the capital Luanda.

The approximately $280-million project has been financed with a credit from Russia’s state banks.

The satellite is designed for a 15-year mission to boost satellite communications, Internet access, radio and TV service.

Around 50 Angolan aerospace engineers trained around the globe, including in Brazil, China, Japan and Russia, will oversee the functioning of the satellite from a control centre built near Luanda.

The launch was initially scheduled for the summer but had been pushed back several times due to delays.

Russia initially wanted to use its new Angara rocket to launch the satellite but opted for the Zenit rocket instead, which is built by Ukrainian contractor Yuzhmash.

The project went ahead despite space cooperation between Russia and Ukraine suspended following the annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Angola, which along with Nigeria, is one of Africa’s top oil producers, but many of its citizens are mired in poverty.

AFP

Angola Arrests Nigerian Kidnappers

Angolan authorities in Huíla Province in the southwest have arrested three Nigerian nationals allegedly for kidnapping a Chinese, local media confirmed.

According to Jornal de Angola, the Nigerians had also robbed the Chinese of $11,700 (Kwanzas 12m) over ransom demand.

The paper said the Nigerian used guns to execute their crime.

The Chinese national, a 53-year-old bricklayer, was reportedly kidnapped at Arimba commune and held for 72 hours by the criminals.

He was freed after a ransom was paid, Jornal de Angola reported.

It added that the three Nigerian nationals were later arrested in the capital Luanda.

“They are living legally in Angola,” the Huíla Province Criminal Investigation Services head, Mr Alberto Sawana, was quoted as saying.

Huíla Province, about 904km south of Luanda, is the second most populous region after the capital.

The province is rich in mineral resources, that tend to attract people from far and wide.

The minerals found in Huíla Province include iron, gold, kaolin, diamonds, manganese, mica, black granite and mineral water.

Africa Review

NFF Chairman Considering Two Friendlies For Super Eagles After Algeria Win

The Chairman of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), has gathered with his crew to begin its yearly general assembly in Jos tomorrow and is considering reported overtures from two unnamed countries for friendly matches with the Super Eagles immediately after next month’s Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier against Algeria.

The Nigerian team has been contacted by England over a friendly game with the team to help both nations prepare for the World Cup in Russia next year. But Super Eagles’ Media Officer, Toyin Ibitoye, dismissed the report, affirming, however, there were plans for a friend with a yet to be determined country after the game with Algeria next month.

“We cannot talk about playing England now when the draw for the World Cup has not been made. We can only talk about teams when we know our group opponents at the World Cup. But there is a game lined up for the Eagles immediately after the qualifier in Algeria,” Ibitoye said.

An NFF official, who pleaded anonymity, however, told The Guardian that the Federation actually has two friendly opportunities for the Eagles, which would be discussed at the meeting in Jos.

“The matches are just for Coach Rohr to look at some of the players who have not featured in competitive games for the team. “Rohr wants to look at as many players as possible before deciding those that will make his squad when the actual preparation for the World Cup begins next year,” the source said.

The NFF in a statement yesterday said the general assembly brings together the kernel of Nigeria’s football family, including Chairmen and Secretaries of the Football Associations of all 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory, Chairmen and Secretaries of the various Leagues, Referees Association, Coaches Association and the Players’ Union, the members of the NFF Executive Committee and Management, and stakeholders of the game invited for the purpose.

Items on the agenda include presentation of the Consolidated and Revised Balance Sheet and Profit-and-Loss Statement, presentation of the Financial Statement for approval, presentation of the 2018 Budget for approval, votes on proposals for amendments to the Statutes, the regulations governing the application of the Statutes and the standing orders of the General Assembly, as well as discussion of any further items proposed by the Members or by the Executive Committee.

During the business of the assembly proper, NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, will present his address, encapsulating activities within the football sector since the last assembly and the Federation’s plans for the year 2018, while General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, will also present the activity report.

Angola President Dos Santos To Step Down After 37 Years

Veteran Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos announced Friday he will not run in August elections, signalling the end to 37 years in power and naming his defence minister as the candidate to succeed him.

The autocratic 74-year-old has been the oil-rich country’s president since September 1979, making him Africa’s second-longest serving leader — one month short of Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

His rule has seen the end of civil war and an investment boom, but has also been criticised as secretive and corrupt, with Angola’s citizens suffering dire poverty as his family became hugely wealthy.

Dos Santos told a meeting of the ruling MPLA party in Luanda that “the party approved the name of the candidate heading the list in the August elections as (Defence Minister) Joao Manuel Goncalves Lourenco”.

Lourenco, a former general, emerged as the probable next president late last year at another meeting of the MPLA (People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola).

Earlier in the year, Dos Santos had said he would step down in 2018.

The party — which faces no real political opposition — recently issued a statement denying reports that Dos Santos was seriously ill.

After constitutional changes in 2010, Angola does not directly elect a president, but the leader of the winning party automatically becomes head of state.

– ‘Watershed moment’ –

Despite Lourenco being a party loyalist, the end of Dos Santos’s regime could open a new chapter for a country largely closed off to the outside world.

The president has been a dominating presence for decades, rarely seen in public but exercising personal authority over government, politics, media and business.

“The transition process has now been formalised. This clarity is good for Angola,” Alex Vines, director of the Africa Programme at the London-based Chatham House think tank, told AFP.

“Angola has not experienced a change of president since 1979 and so for many Angolans this will be the first time they have witnessed presidential change — a watershed moment in Angola’s modern history.”

When Dos Santos became president in 1979 — following the sudden death from cancer of Angola’s liberation president Agostinho Neto — civil war was already raging between the MPLA government and UNITA rebels, four years after independence from Portugal.

Ending decades of bloodshed, peace came only in 2002, and the country is still deeply scarred by a conflict that was a vicious proxy battleground in the Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union.

When fighting ceased, a frenetic oil boom saw skyscrapers sprout up in the centre of the capital Luanda and paid for nationwide infrastructure improvements.

But it left millions of ordinary Angolans living in slums, and the collapse of oil prices has seen the country battling a full-scale national economic crisis since 2013.

Dos Santos’s picture often appears on the front page of newspapers, as well as on countless billboards and framed photographs in every office. He has been accused of brutally repressing dissent.

“Looking back, he has been an extraordinary, substantial figure who was involved in ruthless oppression of opponents, including within his own party,” Martin Plaut, African analyst and fellow of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, told AFP recently.

“In some ways, he did bring stability to his country and he is viewed as an ’eminence grise’ by some other African leaders. But he ruled with an iron rod.”

AFP