What’s Going On: Minimum wage increase in Kenya, FIFA sanctions for Nigeria & more

Notable headlines from around the continent

“What’s Going On” Tallies Notable News Headlines From Across The Continent — The Good, The Bad, And The Horrible — As A Way Of Ensuring That We All Become A More Sagacious African Generation. With This Column, We’re Hoping To Disseminate The Latest Happenings In Our Socio-Political Climate From Across The Continent, Whilst Starting A Conversation About What’s Important For Us To All Discuss. From Political Affairs To Socio-Economic Issues, ‘What’s Going On’ Will Discuss Just That.

Minimum wage increase in Kenya

Four years since it was last reviewed, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced the increase of workers’ minimum wage by 12 percent. The announcement was made during Labour Day celebrations at Nyayo National Stadium on May 1, with the reasoning being that increased minimum wage would help Kenyans deal with the increasing fuel and food prices, which have been effected by Covid-19 pandemic, droughts in several parts of the country, and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“In full appreciation of the critical contribution of workers to the economy [and] following the recommendation of various stakeholders, I today declare an increase of minimum wage by 12pc points with effect from today,” Mr. Kenyatta said at the Labour Day rally. The 12% increase will raise the average minimum wage from 13,500 Kenyan shillings to Sh15,201.64. “We believe it is imperative to review the minimum wages to protect our workers from further deterioration,” the president added.

This new increase is far from the 24% increase demanded by the Central Organisation of Trade Unions-Kenya (COTU), with critics citing the upcoming presidential election as the motivation behind Mr. Kenyatta’s directive. Kenya’s economic woes is the most pressing issue ahead of the August 9 polls, with year-on-year inflation rising to 6.47 percent in April, a near 1 percent increase from March. Even though it’s not the ideal 24 percent increase, the 12 percent increase is a step in direction of easing the lives of Kenyans, with the rapidly increasing cost of living in the East African country.

Central African Republic adopts Bitcoin as national currency

Less than a year after El Salvador became the first country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, Central African Republic has become just the second country to make the cryptocurrency its national currency. CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadéra made the announcement last week, stating that country’s lawmakers unanimously voted to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. The mover puts CAR “on the map of the world’s boldest and visionary countries,” the president said in his statement.

“The president supports this bill because it will improve the conditions of Central African citizens,” Chief of Staff Obed Namsio told Reuters. That claim, however, has been (rightfully) met with some cynicism, since only about 11 percent of the 4.8 million people living in CAR have access to the internet. Along with five other countries, all former French colonies, the country uses the CFA Franc, a regional currency governed by the Bank of Central African States (BEAC), which was reportedly surprised by the Bitcoin adoption. It’s currently being alleged that the cryptocurrency move fits within the anti-French sentiments that have been growing across Francophone Africa, while also playing into growing Russian ties.

The CAR has been in conflict with armed rebel groups for a decade, however, that has greatly reduced since 2018. After coming into office in 2016, President Touadéra has been shifting strategic alliance from France towards Russia, even contracting mercenaries from the Russian-based Wagner Group in the fight against armed rebels. This shift in alliance is believed to be the backdrop of the Bitcoin adoption in CAR, a country rich with gold and Uranium, with the anti-French sentiment favouring Russia’s influence.

On a strictly economic level, the International Monetary Fund has stated that the adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender “raises major legal, transparency, and economic policy challenges.” Recently, the economy minister deemed the situation of public finances to be “alarming,” describing the country’s stark economic circumstance. With the bare level of internet penetration, it isn’t clear as to how the national adoption of Bitcoin will help in boosting CAR’s economy.

FIFA sanctions Nigeria, Senegal for match disturbances

Incensed by its national football team’s loss to the Black Stars of Ghana, at the World Cup qualifying decider in late March, Nigerian fans invaded the pitch of the Abuja national stadium, vandalising property and equipment, and endangering the safety of players, coaches and officials. A month later, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has ordered Nigeria to play one match behind closed doors, and fined the Nigerian Football Association 63 million Naira ($145, 086) for “failing to implement existing safety rules regarding order and security.”

Similarly, Senegal has been ordered by FIFA to play its next match behind closed doors, while its Football association has been fined $180,000 for failing to control fans who shone laser pointers into the eyes of several Egypt players, during the second leg of their World Cup qualifying decider. During the penalty shootout, which Senegal won to qualify for Qatar 2022, fans shone laser pointers at several players of the opposing team, notably Mohammed Salah, as he missed his penalty kick.

These sanctions were announced as part of several decisions by the world football governing body, after investigating several incidents during the last round of World Cup qualifying matches. Algeria was fined $3,000 after fans threw objects and fireworks during their second leg meeting with Cameroon. The Democratic Republic of Congo and Lebanon also received punishments following disturbances in their matches against Morocco and Syria, respectively.