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Algeria: Youthful country dependent on oil and gas





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Algeria, where half of the population is under 30, is suffering from financial and social woes linked to the fall in oil prices, from which it gets 60 percent of its budget.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on March 11 announced he was abandoning his bid to stand for a fifth term, following weeks of mass protests against his re-election bid.

On April 2 Bouteflika submitted his resignation with immediate effect, state media reported.

Every Friday, the first day of the weekend in

Every Friday, the first day of the weekend in Algeria, protesters invaded the streets. The events were hailed for their organization, pacifism, humor and signs, but also for their festive side. Too festive for some that music and dances irritate. PHOTO | RYAD KRAMDI | AFP

Here are some key facts about the North African country of 42 million people:

Algeria became a French colony in 1830 after three centuries of Ottoman domination.

Independence came in July 1962 after a bloody independence war which lasted nearly eight years.

In September 1963, prime minister Ahmed Ben Bella of the National Liberation Front (FLN), which had led the struggle against French colonial rule, became the founding president of independent Algeria.

Protesters take part in a rally in support of

Protesters take part in a rally in support of the ongoing protests in Algeria against the president’s bid for a fifth term in power, at Place de la Republique in Paris, on March 10, 2019. PHOTO | BERTRAND GUAY | AFP

In 1965 the FLN’s Houari Boumediene overthrew and jailed Ben Bella, thereafter running Algeria as a one-party state until his death in 1978.

Colonel Chadli Bendjedid was then elected president, a post he held until 1992.

In October 1988, protests rocked the capital Algiers, prompting the authorities to declare a state of emergency.

Algeria protests

Algerian anti-riot police stand guard during a demonstration in the northern coastal city of Oran, on March 5, 2019 against the ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term. PHOTO | AFP


The army clamped down on demonstrators, but introduced political reforms which brought an end to the single-party system.

However, when the country held its first multi-party legislative poll in 1991, the army stepped in to prevent the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) winning and setting up an Islamic state.

That sparked a civil war which killed some 200,000 people between 1992 and 2002, with the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) claiming responsibility for many civilian massacres.

In this file photo taken on February 12, 2009

In this file photo taken on February 12, 2009 Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika waves to cheer his supporters during an election rally in Algiers. Algeria’s ailing leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika informed the Constitutional Council he is resigning in a move that is to take effect tuesday, state television said. PHOTO | FAYEZ NURELDINE | AFP


At the height of the war, Bouteflika won the 1999 presidential election.

He was backed by the army and launched a reconciliation programme that saw thousands of Islamist fighters lay down their arms.

Bouteflika, who had joined the FLN aged 19, went on to win re-election in 2004 and 2009.

The president suffered a stroke in 2013 which confined him to a wheelchair, but despite his poor health Bouteflika was elected for a fourth term the following year.

His mobility and speech severely reduced, he has since rarely appeared and no longer speaks in public.

His bid for a fifth term at April 2019 elections sparked massive street protests and saw him lose the support of key loyalists, including armed forces chief Ahmed Gaid Salah.

Veteran soldiers from Algeria's civil war take

Veteran soldiers from Algeria’s civil war take part in a demonstration against ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in the capital Algiers on March 29, 2019. PHOTO | RYAD KRAMDI | AFP

He finally submitted his resignation with immediate effect on Tuesday, state media reported.

Socialist until the early 1990s, Algeria’s economy remains subject to a high level of state intervention.

The oil wealth subsidises fuel, water, health care, housing and basic goods.

Algeria is Africa’s third biggest crude producer and the world’s ninth producer of natural gas.

Those exports make up 95 percent of external revenue and contribute 60 percent of the state budget.

Algeria protests

Algerians are pictured as police in riot gear fire tear gas and set up a security cordon to block their access to the presidential palace during a demonstration against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, February 22, 2019. PHOTO | RYAD KRAMDI | AFP

Falling oil prices have hit the country’s economy hard.

In late 2018 analysts at the International Crisis Group estimated that urgent reforms were needed to diversify the economy to avoid a crisis in 2019.

It said the country can count on an external debt lower than two percent of GDP and on support from partners.

Part of the Maghreb, Algeria is Africa’s biggest country.

Desert makes up more than five sixths of its territory, but 80 percent of the population lives on the coast, including in the capital Algiers. Nearly 54 percent of the population is younger than 30.

Algeria counts some 10 million Berbers, most living in Kabylie, a rebellious mountainous region to the east of Algiers.

The language of former colonial power France is not one of the official languages, which are Arabic and the Berber language Tamazight, but the country counts many francophones.


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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard




Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.


However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard




President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health




Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

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Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.


Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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