BBC News with David Legge.
The Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has announced a multi-billion-dollar plan to rebuild and privatise the country’s notoriously inefficient power generating network. It will mean selling off the state power monopoly. Nigerians have to deal with electricity black-outs on a daily basis. With more, here’s Caroline Duffield in Lagos.
As President Goodluck Jonathan stood up to speak, Nigeria’s power was off. All of the lights, microphones and cameras filming him were running on diesel-fueled private generators outside the Elite Hotel. Nigeria is divided into two worlds - those who can afford electricity, running expensive and filthy generators, and those who cannot, who live in darkness. Chronic power shortages here cripple the economy and discourage investment.
Demonstrations have been held throughout South Africa on the eighth day of a pay strike by public sector workers. Ten thousand people caused gridlock in Johannesburg in a noisy but peaceful protest, but police fired rubber bullets at protestors in Kimberley, southwest of Johannesburg. A Trade Union spokesman said the government could end the dispute quickly as the gap between the two sides’ positions wasn’t enormous. The strikers want an 8.6% pay rise; the government is offering 7%. The army, too, is calling for an early settlement.
There’s mounting anger in Egypt over what are the worst power cuts in decades. There’ve been black-outs daily across the country during the past two weeks, prompting calls for the electricity minister to be sacked. The power failures have led to many families breaking their fast in near darkness, using candles and gas lamps. Yolande Knell reports.
Officials say there have been power shortages because consumption has risen higher than normal due to a heat wave. They’re urging consumers not to waste electricity and promising to increase the capacity of the national grid. Still with high food prices and water shortages also affecting festivities in this holy month, this is something that all worried the government ahead of parliamentary elections due late this year.
Rising floodwaters in southern Pakistan are threatening hundreds of thousands of people who’ve so far escaped the devastation suffered across much of the rest of the country. The authorities have evacuated many towns in the region, as they struggled to hold back the waters. Fleeing villagers have been heading north, jamming their possessions into vans and carts or leading their livestock on foot. The United Nations humanitarian spokesman Maurizio Giuliano said the threat of new flooding was making the aid operation more difficult.
"The situation is particularly difficult in Sindh, because as we strive to provide more assistance, we have more and more flooding. There are people now, hundreds of thousands of people on the move as we speak, and the water is still coming in, breaking banks and inundating, flooding new villages."
World News from the BBC.
The Brazilian government has given the formal go-ahead for the construction of what will be the world’s third biggest hydroelectric dam. After several failed legal challenges by environmentalists, President Lula da Silva signed the contract for the building of the Belo Monte dam in the Amazon River basin. Greg Morsbach reports.
The Brazilian government says the Belo Monte dam project will create 20,000 jobs, and when it starts operating in the year 2015, it’ll generate enough power to supply some 23 million homes. But the dam will flood almost 500 square kilometers of virgin Amazon rainforest. Environmental campaigners, including the Hollywood film director James Cameron, have warned that up to 50,000 indigenous people will lose their homes. Officials say they’ll get compensation, but campaigners argue the likely damage to their way of life and to nature cannot be repaired.
The former president of France, Jacques Chirac, has agreed to pay 550,000 euros to the city of Paris to settle a legal action. He’s been accused of creating 21 fictitious jobs for friends and political allies while he was the city’s mayor in the early 1990s. The UMP, the political party he founded when he was president, has agreed to pay a further 1.5 million euros. Mr Chirac has denied any wrongdoing.
It’s emerged that the police chief in the Philippines capital Manila, who handled the armed siege of a tour bus on Monday, was offered help from a specialist military squad trained in hostage situations, but made no use of it. Brigadier General Jose Mabanta said the army squad was "highly equipped, and are trained in the United States." The police chief has told a Senate enquiry he believed his officers could handle the siege. It ended with eight Hong Kong tourists being killed. The police operation’s been widely seen as "mishandled" and has caused anger in Hong Kong.