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Row in Africa over 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifiers in France



Namibia in action against New Zealand at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan
Namibia have appeared at every Rugby World Cup since 1999 and are among the field for July’s eight-team African qualifying tournament

African rugby’s governing body, Rugby Africa, has been accused of ignoring the interests of the game on the continent following a controversial decision to host its 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifiers in France.

In July eight African teams will compete in a tournament in two French cities, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, for one automatic ticket to the finals set to be hosted by France in September next year.

This will be the first time in the history of African rugby that its World Cup qualifiers have been held outside continental borders and the decision has been met with discontent in Africa.

One contender, Namibia, have spoken out against the move, saying they are “dissatisfied” with the decision.

“We did request Rugby Africa to revisit their decision,” Namibia rugby president Corrie Mensah said, but “the outcome was to remain with France as host.”

Kenya and Zimbabwe put in bids which the continental body described as “strong”, but it decided to award the hosting rights to France.

“Our main goal is to keep growing and progressing and taking our rightful place on the international stage,” Rugby Africa told BBC Sport Africa in a statement.

“In collaboration with our members and partners, Rugby Africa needs to invent new ways and create new opportunities to grow its revenue and redistribute it in African rugby.”

Former Uganda women’s international Helen Buteme told BBC Sport Africa that Rugby Africa “doesn’t have the interests of African rugby at heart”.

“There is no justification whatsoever for taking what is our biggest tournament to a European country,” she added. “Africa needs this tournament while France does not.”

Namibia will be aiming to clinch a seventh consecutive appearance at the global tournament, having made their debut in 1999.

The other teams set for the qualifying competition, to be held from 1-10 July, are Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Ivory Coast.

The runners-up will have a second chance to reach the World Cup via a final four-team round-robin global qualifier to be held in November.

‘Not in best interests’ of African rugby

Ivory Coast in action against France at the 1995 Rugby World Cup
Zimbabwe (1987 and 1991) and Ivory Coast (1995, pictured in orange) are the only African sides other than South Africa and Namibia to play at the Rugby World Cup

BBC Sport Africa understands that France2023, the local organiser for next year’s World Cup, will oversee the African qualifier but the reason France decided to bid for the event remains unclear.

BBC Sport Africa was earlier informed by a high-ranking official that the French Rugby Federation (FFR) was surprised by the bid, but its communication director Laurent Latour denied the claim, saying the FFR had not opposed it.

Our questions to France2023 went unanswered.

In Kenya, one rugby commentator believes the move negates the work done to grow the game from the grassroots level.

“This decision by Rugby Africa goes against the trend across the continent to spread the game to the grassroots,” Daudi Were said.

“Rugby Africa is attempting to undo all the good work by rugby development officers across the continent by hosting our most important tournament abroad.”

An official sponsor of Rugby Africa, APO, added to the growing criticism with its chairman and founder Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard saying: “We believe the decision is not in the best interest of African rugby. One can only wonder whether there are other interests at play.”

In response to the criticism, Rugby Africa told BBC Sport Africa that financial considerations played a part in the decision, with some of their members struggling for money.

“This event in France is seen as a springboard to kick-start a new dynamic of income generation that will help us grow,” Rugby Africa said.

Concerns among supporters

As Rugby Africa looks to appeal to an international fanbase, some on the continent feel deprived of an opportunity to watch their teams in stadiums, because travel to Europe is costly.

The governing body, however, argues that while they understand fans’ disappointment, the Covid-19 pandemic may not have allowed supporters to attend matches anyway. It has also promised high-quality broadcasts will be available.

However, Rugby Africa has 38 members across the continent – some of whom have hosted major continental events during the pandemic, including the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon – so it is unclear why it would settle for a European country.

The continent has also shown it has the capacity to host major international events in the past, including the 1995 Rugby World Cup and 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa and a World Under-20 Athletics Championships.

Fans across the continent moved their campaign online with a petition set up in the hope that it can influence Rugby Africa’s decision, but the page has only garnered 1,387 signatures in five months.

There have been calls for World Rugby, the custodians of the sport globally, to influence a reversal of the decision but the body told BBC Sport Africa it cannot interfere with its regional associations’ decisions, dimming any hope that the tournament will be held on African soil.

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million



Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe




A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News




Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.

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