Wednesday 18 April 2018
(AFP (eng) 03/28/18)
French transport giant Bollore said Tuesday it would seek compensation for work already carried out on a major rail infrastructure project after Benin asked it to withdraw "amicably" in favour of China. Patrice Talon, president of the small West African country, said both the French conglomerate and its local rival Petrolin would be "compensated fairly", without elaborating. Philippe Labonne, deputy CEO of Bollore Transport and Logistics, said the firm should be compensated notably for the some 140 kilometres (85 miles) of rail it has already laid down. "We are a little disappointed not to complete" the project, he said, speaking to AFP on the sidelines of a business forum in the Ivorian business hub Abidjan...
(AFP (eng) 03/22/18)
Benin's President Patrice Talon has asked local firm Petrolin and French giant Bollore to "withdraw" from a major rail infrastructure project to make way for China, in the latest development of the controversial scheme. In an interview published on Thursday in the French magazine Challenges, Talon asked the two companies to "withdraw amicably from the project", which links Benin to Niger to the north, promising they will be "compensated fairly". "A private investor cannot finance the railway we want alone," the head of state was quoted as saying, describing Bollore's offer as "lower-end".
(AFP (eng) 03/21/18)
Forty-four African countries have signed an agreement establishing a free trade area seen as vital to the continent's economic development, the head of the African Union said Wednesday. "The agreement establishing the CFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area) was signed by 44 countries," said Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the AU commission. The creation of a free trade area -- billed as the world's largest -- comes after two years of negotiations, and is one of the AU's flagship projects...
(AFP (eng) 03/15/18)
The Benin government on Wednesday suspended the country's official pharmacy body for six months and banned a key drugs supplier in a bid to clear up the pharmaceutical sector and crack down on fake drugs. The decision follows a court ruling that jailed pharmaceutical executives on Tuesday on charges of selling illicit medicine in the West African country. "The council of ministers has decided to suspend for a period of six months the Benin National Pharmacists' Association, the time needed...
(AFP (eng) 03/14/18)
The EU warned African and other countries on Wednesday that their citizens will find it harder to get visas to Europe if they refuse to readmit economic migrants under the bloc's efforts to curb migration. Brussels has been seeking greater cooperation from such countries to take back irregular migrants since Europe was hit in 2015 with its worst migration crisis since World War II. "I cannot understand how a country can refuse to take back its nationals" when they have...
(AFP (eng) 03/13/18)
A court in Benin on Tuesday jailed seven local pharmaceutical executives for four years on charges of selling illicit medicines after a trial that breaks new ground in West Africa's campaign against fake drugs. The seven were convicted of "the sale of falsified medicines, display, possession with a view to selling, commercialisation or sale of falsified medical substances." They work for wholesale pharmaceutical distribution companies, five of which -- GAPOB, Ubipharm, CAME, Ubephar and Promo Pharma -- dominate the sector...
(AFP (eng) 03/09/18)
Police on Friday fired teargas to break up an anti-government demonstration by Benin's political opposition involving thousands of people, according to AFP reporters on the ground. Protesters had gathered in Cotonou, Benin's economic hub, to march against President Patrice Talon but officers moved in when they strayed off an agreed course. "The police hit honest citizens," said demonstrator Cyrille Medagbe as some protesters set light to barricades made of tyres in the city centre. People's Liberation Party founder Leonce Houngbadji...
(AFP (eng) 03/09/18)
A thousand artists from over 50 countries will gather in Ivory Coast on Saturday for a week-long festival of African music, theatre, dance, comedy, slam poetry and storytelling. The 10th edition of the biannual Market for African Performing Arts, known by its French initials as MASA, will mark the 25th anniversary of the event. This year's crop of artists come from all over Africa and the African diaspora in Japan, Haiti and Canada, performing in the economic capital Abidjan and...
(AFP (eng) 03/07/18)
"Sir, we're going to handcuff you," a coast guard from Sao Tome tells a man accused of fishing illegally in the archipelago's waters. But the "fisherman" is really a French navy seaman disguised in a T-shirt, cap and sunglasses -- a member of an unusual multinational training exercise to combat crime in the Gulf of Guinea. Illegal fishing, piracy and hostage-taking haunt the vast bay lying off West Africa, whose coastline runs from Liberia in the west to Gabon in...
(AFP (eng) 02/28/18)
The sleepy town of Bohicon in southern-central Benin roars into life during the cotton harvest between January and March. Enormous trucks piled high with "white gold" trundle down the roads to the town's cotton-processing plant. Yerima Fousseni, head of the cotton-growers cooperative in Wewe district farther north, says 2018 has been a bumper harvest -- more than 46 tonnes, triple last year's yield. "We now have 32 farmers in the village -- before, there were only 10 of us. Everyone...
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
Nine people appeared in a Benin court Wednesday on charges of selling fake drugs at the start of a landmark trial in a regional campaign against illicit medicines. The suspects, who include executives from major pharmaceutical companies operating in the West African nation, were remanded in custody until March 6 on technical grounds. They are accused of "the sale of falsified medicines, (and) display, possession with a view to selling, commercialisation or sale of falsified medical substances." A tenth defendant, the head of the Directorate for Pharmacies, Medications and Diagnostic Evaluation (DPMED) under the control of the ministry of health...
(AFP (eng) 02/19/18)
Benin's government is looking to bring court proceedings against the country's former finance minister as well as two opposition lawmakers who were close to former president Thomas Boni Yayi, a parliamentary source told AFP on Monday. "The request came direct to the office of the parliamentary president last Thursday," the source said. The trio are accused of "bad governance and acts of corruption", the sourced added. Benin's parliament is currently in recess and does not resume until mid-April. It will...
(AFP (eng) 02/19/18)
About 224 million people are suffering from malnutrition across Africa as climate change and conflicts heighten food insecurity across the continent, a top UN food agency official said Monday. The official, speaking at a conference on Africa organised by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said the situation was a "cause of concern" as the continent's population was expected to reach 1.7 billion by 2030. "Under-nourishment appears to have increased from about 21 percent to nearly 23 percent between...
(AFP (eng) 02/08/18)
The African Union's chairman dismissed during a visit to Beijing on Thursday a French newspaper report alleging that China had spied on the continental body as "lies" intended to derail cooperation. The report published by Le Monde in January claimed technicians at the AU's Chinese-built headquarters in the Ethiopian capital discovered last year that the contents of their computers had been regularly copied to servers in Shanghai since 2012, citing unnamed AU sources. "I don't see it is in the...
(AFP (eng) 02/07/18)
Benin's public sector unions on Wednesday claimed "a small step forward" following a meeting with President Patrice Talon over weeks of strike action that have paralysed the public sector. Union leaders met government officials and Talon on Tuesday night to discuss an end to the crisis, which has seen mass walk-outs at hospitals, schools and courts. "We brought up the question of freedoms and expressed our unhappiness... the head of state did not dismiss it," Anselme Amoussou, of the confederation...
(AFP (eng) 02/05/18)
Israel began warning thousands of African migrants Sunday that they must leave by the end of March, officials said, under a plan that could see them jailed if they refuse. On January 3, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced implementation of a plan to deport about 38,000 migrants who had entered the country illegally, mainly Eritreans and Sudanese. The controversial plan gives them until the end of next month to leave voluntarily or face jail and eventual expulsion. Immigration authority spokeswoman...
(AFP (eng) 02/03/18)
Megastar Rihanna vowed she would "never stop fighting" to get millions of children back in school on Friday as French President Emmanuel Macron promised a major boost in foreign aid for education in developing nations. Macron co-hosted a conference in Dakar organised by the Global Partnership for Education with Senegalese President Macky Sall, while Rihanna attended as the organisation's global ambassador. "We have made tremendous progress today but of course our work is never done, we have a long way...
(AFP (eng) 02/02/18)
Rihanna on Thursday used her star power to urge key governments to commit to ensuring education for the world's poorest as she takes part in an international conference in Senegal. The chart-topping singer arrived in the capital Dakar where she on Friday will join the Global Partnership for Education talks co-hosted by Senegalese President Macky Sall and French leader Emmanuel Macron. Rihanna, the fourth most followed person on Twitter with 86 million followers, took to social media to urge Macron,...
(AFP (eng) 01/31/18)
Benin's vast Pendjari National Park, one of West Africa's last remaining wildlife refuges, will receive $23.5 million (18.9 million euros) to help protect it and fight poaching, donors announced in London on Wednesday. The Benin government will provide $6 million (4.8 million euros), with the National Geographic Society donating $7.5 million (6 million euros) and the US Wyss Foundation stumping up the rest through the African Parks NGO, the groups said at a press conference. The 4,800-square-kilometre Pendjari is one...
(AFP (eng) 01/30/18)
Matthieu Yoa smiles at a job well done. The ranger and his colleagues have just put a satellite tracking collar on an elephant in the Pendjari National Park in northern Benin. "It was very strong," he says in halting French, visibly emotional about what he has just done to help protect the animal. Although Yoa was born just a few kilometres (miles) outside the huge 4,700-square-kilometre (1,814-square-mile) park, the 23-year-old had never seen the wild animals until two months ago...

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