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The Africa Report: 29 May

EWN's Africa Correspondent, Jean-Jacques Cornish, reports on the day's top African news

A Kenyan flag. Picture: AFP

KENYAN MPs VOTE FOR R90,000 SALARY

With many companies heading towards that time of the year when salary increases are discussed, you may be excited about the prospect of, say, a 5% increase.

If you were a Kenyan member of parliament (MP), you'd probably be laughing at regular work folk because despite your president's plea for public spending reforms, you have successfully voted for a salary increase from $1,700 to a staggering $10,000.

Despite Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta imploring MPs to take a pay cut in order to free up money for job creation, Tuesday saw the unanimous vote for an increase that leaves Kenyan MPs amongst the highest paid parliamentarians in the world.

Kenyatta does not have the power to overrule this vote as the decision is made by Kenyan's legislator.

Following protests by angered citizens, civil rights groups are expected to challenge the motion in court.

According to a report in Business Day, the average Kenyan citizen earns $76 and the country's public-sector wage bill stands at 50% of annual government tax revenue, making it 15% higher than the International Monetary Fund's global benchmark.

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ETHIOPIA'S DAM AMBITIONS

The water of the world's longest river has yet again sparked problems among African nations.

On Tuesday, Ethiopia began diverting a stretch of the Nile River to fulfill its ambitions of building a hydroelectric dam that, government claims, will not only power its own country but neighbouring countries too.

The $4.7 billion dam forms part of the Grand Renaissance Dam, with the White and Blue Niles meeting near the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.

This is a $12 billion project which will create 6000 megawatts of power, making Ethiopia Africa's leading power exporter.

The Nile is a water source for the Horn of Africa, Sudan and Egypt, and the diversion of the river has led to worries from the latter nations downstream.

Ownership of the Nile's water was declared through a colonial-era agreement, proving 90 percent ownership to Sudan and Egypt.

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AFRICA TO MISS MDG

Despite the continent's impressive performance over the past decade, according to an assessment by the African Union (AU), the United Nations (UN) and the African Development Bank (AFDB), Africa will miss its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to halve poverty come 2015.

At the recently concluded AU summit that celebrated 50 years of African solidarity, South African President Jacob Zuma declared that economic growth was not enough to eradicate poverty as sustainable economic development was needed.

The continent has been performing remarkably in terms of economic growth with an unprecedented 5 to 6 percent growth rate.

However, this has not been enough to achieve the continent's MDGs of halving poverty, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and ensuring environmental stability.