Friday 23 June 2017
(AFP (eng) 05/26/17)
Entertainment | France | film | festival | Cannes | Zambia | witchcraft Cannes, France | AFP | Friday 5/26/2017 - 14:01 UTC+3 | 615 words by Katy Lee Being accused of witchcraft is no laughing matter in Africa -- but movie director Rungano Nyoni decided a dose of humour was just what was needed to tackle a problem rampant in parts of the continent. Set in Zambia, the sharp satire "I Am Not A Witch" has premiered to strong reviews at the Cannes film festival, taking aim at the blatant sexism behind accusations that overwhelmingly target women. White tourists are seen gawping at women detained in a "witch camp" in the movie, taking pictures of them as if they're...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/24/17)
When U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders of the world's seven major industrialized nations gather in Sicily on Friday, they will enjoy a spectacular view of the Mediterranean Sea, but won't get any glimpse of boats full of migrants. A common sight off Sicily in recent years, the authorities have banned all migrant landings on the island during the Group of Seven Summit for security reasons, telling rescue vessels that pick them up at sea to take them to the mainland during the two-day meeting. Out of sight does not mean out of mind. Italy chose to host the summit in Taormina, on the cliffs of eastern Sicily, to concentrate minds on Europe's migrant crisis and to seek ways...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/23/17)
Fossils from Greece and Bulgaria of an ape-like creature that lived 7.2 million years ago may fundamentally alter the understanding of human origins, casting doubt on the view that the evolutionary lineage that led to people arose in Africa. Scientists said on Monday the creature, known as Graecopithecus freybergi and known only from a lower jawbone and an isolated tooth, may be the oldest-known member of the human lineage that began after an evolutionary split from the line that led to chimpanzees, our closest cousins. The jawbone, which included teeth, was unearthed in 1944 in Athens. The premolar was found in south-central Bulgaria in 2009. The researchers examined them using sophisticated new techniques including CT scans and established their age...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/22/17)
Countries in sub-Saharan Africa need to get their budgets in order, diversify their economies and look after their poorest people. If they do that, there is no reason why the region cannot have the strong growth needed to meet the aspirations of a young and growing population. That, at least, is the three-pillared prescription from the International Monetary Fund as expressed by one of its top Africa researchers, Celine Allard, in an official IMF blog post and podcast. Allard co-authored the Fund's regional economic outlook, released earlier this month. It found that sub-Saharan economic growth hit only 1.4 percent last year, the lowest level in two decades and well off the 5-6 percent rates normally reached. It was also well...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/20/17)
France will step up the fight against resurgent Islamist militants in north and west Africa and will work more closely with Germany to help the tinderbox region, President Emmanuel Macron said on his first trip outside Europe on Friday. Visiting Mali days after taking office, Macron vowed to keep French troops in the Sahel region until there was "no more Islamist terrorism" there. He said operations would be escalated in response to signs that militant groups were regrouping and uniting. "It is vital today that we speed up. Our armed forces are giving their all, but we must speed up" efforts to secure the Sahel, he told a news conference in Gao, Mali, where he held talks with President Ibrahim...
(Xinhuanet 05/19/17)
A joint-financing of 26 million U.S. dollars will be invested to transform Benin's Pendjari national park complex into the largest ecosystem of protected savannahs in West Africa. The investment is part of a five-year business plan, a government statement said on Thursday in the economic capital Cotonou. Keeping with that goal, the investment will be used to renovate and enrich the Pendjari national park complex as well as its peripheral areas expected to be integrated then after. Benin's government will provide domestic funding of 5.97 million U.S. dollars and the shortfall will be sought as support from technical and financial partners. "The rehabilitation of the complex involves efficient and modern management adjusted to conservation objectives while contributing to the development...
(AFP (eng) 05/19/17)
Odile Ahouanwanou landed Benin's first-ever gold medal in an Islamic Solidarity Games with victory in the women's 100-metre hurdles final on Thursday evening in Baku. The 26-year-old got off to a slow start but powered clear in the final 30 metres to record a personal best time of 13.55 seconds and secure Benin's second athletics medal after Noelie Yarigo's bronze in the women's 800-metre final on Wednesday. Benin had never previously won a medal at an Islamic Solidarity Games prior to the fourth edition in Baku, but they now have two in as many days in the athletics at the Olympic Stadium. Turkey's Nevin Yanit Baltaci clocked 13.71s to take silver, 14 hundredths of a second ahead of Malaysia's Raja...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/19/17)
When rich countries wrote off billions of dollars of African debt in 2005, they hoped governments would think twice about borrowing again in costly foreign currencies. Over a decade later, most sub-Saharan African countries still rely on U.S. dollar-denominated debt to finance their economies. Some investors say this is sowing the seeds of future debt crises if local currencies devalue and make dollar debt repayments more expensive. Aside from South Africa and Nigeria, governments have not yet done enough to develop capital markets that would have allowed them to raise more money in their own currencies, investors say. United Nations trade body UNCTAD estimates that Africa's external debt stock rapidly grew to $443 billion by 2013 through bilateral borrowing, syndicated...
(Xinhuanet 05/18/17)
Benin's government plans to convert the country into "a platform of digital services for the West Africa by 2021," an official on Wednesday said in the economic capital Cotonou . Mrs. Rafiatou Monrou, Benin's minister of digital economy and communication, made this public in a statement as part of the World telecommunication and information society day (WTISD)'s celebration on Wednesday. She believes the "Big data for Big impact" as theme of the WTISD's celebration in 2017 is well in line with the vision of Benin's President Patrice Talon for digital economy sector.
(Bloomberg 05/18/17)
Steinhoff International Holdings NV plans to list its African assets separately as the acquisitive retailer seeks a new prize for shareholders following this year’s failed merger talks with Shoprite Holdings Ltd. The company said Wednesday it will seek to list businesses including clothing retailer Pepkor and furniture chain JD Group Ltd. on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, about 18 months after moving its primary listing to Frankfurt from the South African commercial hub. The new business could be worth as much as 60 billion rand ($4.5 billion), said Evan Walker, a money manager at 36one Asset Management in Johannesburg, although the valuation could also be as low as 40 billion rand depending on how much debt Steinhoff puts into the vehicle...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/17/17)
Gay and lesbian Africans who fled abuse in their home countries face a "culture of disbelief" which makes their experience of seeking asylum in Britain traumatic, a Nigerian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender rights (LGBT) campaigner said. Aderonke Apata, 50, who fled persecution in Nigeria, said the practice of assessing Africans' sexual orientation claims based on Western standards was problematic. "They expect an LGBT person to have used sex toys, to go to gay clubs," Apata, an asylum seeker who founded African LGBT charity, African Rainbow Family, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Apata has been trying to claim asylum in Britain for 13 years, but her case was refused several times after a judge ruled that she was pretending to be...
(Premium Times 05/16/17)
A standard gauge rail line stretching from Parakou in Benin Republic will terminate in Ilorin, central Nigeria, upon completion, as part of a budding infrastructure rebirth aimed at unlocking potential investment opportunities in the West African sub-region. The project was disclosed at Africa’s premier infrastructure summit which kicked off in Abuja Monday. The event, organised by Africa Finance Corporation, was held on Monday and continues on Tuesday. It brings together some of the frontline experts in infrastructure investments who would offer suggestions on how to approach the continent’s infrastructure demands. The cross-border rail project is part of a series of investment arrangements put in place by Petrolin’s Backbone Project – which includes a rail line to be built on existing...
(Bloomberg 05/16/17)
When the impoverished West African nation of Niger imposed a ban on donkey exports last year, a small community of traders just over the border in Nigeria was devastated. “Before the ban, you could see thousands of donkeys here,” said Mohammed Sani, a 45-year-old trader in the Nigerian town of Jibiya, as he wiped the sweat off his brow. “Now look at them: there’s no more than 50, crippling the business.” Donkeys are being slaughtered at an alarming pace to feed a global trade in donkey hides that’s fueled by soaring demand in China, where the skins are used to manufacture a gelatin believed to have anti-ageing and libido-enhancing properties. The gelatin, known in China as e’jiao, is so popular...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/13/17)
Tackling climate change in Africa could help resolve multiple problems ravaging the continent, from drought to refugees and violence, the head of the African Union said on Friday. The mix of global warming with economic woes and political conflicts keeps peace from taking hold, said Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Union's new chairman, at Chatham House, an international think tank. "There is a link between climate change and prosperity, as well as peace, on the continent," Mahamat said in French with an interpreter. "Africa is among the least polluting continents, and yet it is the continent that suffers most," he said. Mahamat, the former foreign minister of Chad, was chosen to chair the 55-member, Addis Ababa-based organization in January. In Africa's...
(Capitalfm Business 05/10/17)
President Uhuru Kenyatta has reached out to Benin in his latest quest to expand the export market for Kenya’s products, including coffee, tea and fresh produce. The President pitched for the new market for Kenyan exports when he held talks with President Patrice Talon of Benin that focused on deepening economic ties between Kenya and the West African nation. He also spoke strongly on expanding intra-Africa trade, including through improved air services to better link African cities. President Kenyatta met President Talon – who is on an official visit – at State House, Nairobi, and expressed the need for the two countries to increase their bilateral trade. President Kenyatta has cultivated close working relationships with leaders from all corners of...
(Fox News 05/10/17)
After five years of no major attacks on merchant vessels, piracy around the Horn of Africa seemed to be on hiatus. Acts of piracy in those treacherous waters have fallen sharply since 2012, according to statistics released by the United States Navy. The Navy credits aggressive patrolling by international forces and increased vigilance by the commercial shipping industry for the decrease. However, in the past month, Somali pirates have intercepted five ships, raising concerns that piracy has returned to the Indian Ocean, beginning with the kidnapping of a Sri Lankan crew from the Aris 13 oil tanker on March 13th (they were later released without a ransom). Nobody thinks the problem will end until a stable government is restored in...
(Voice of America 05/05/17)
As Africa grapples with a severe drought, and famine threatens millions of people, experts at the World Economic Forum on Africa this week in the South African city of Durban say food security needs to be a major part of discussions on advancing the continent economically. The annual World Economic Forum in Switzerland is usually a high-powered event, but at this week’s Africa meeting of the international organization, the continent’s big players are welcoming the humble farmer, now known as the “agripreneur.” Agricultural economist Paul Makube, with South Africa’s First National Bank, told VOA it makes sense to talk about farming when discussing building competitive markets, and boosting innovation and technology. “For business to prosper, you need a situation where...
(Xinhuanet 05/04/17)
The World Economic Forum (WEF) Africa Competitiveness Report 2017 released in Durban Thursday called for urgent policy reforms if the continent intends to create more jobs for its growing young population. According to the report issued at the 27th WEF on Africa, fewer than one-quarter of the 450 million new jobs required in the next 20 years will be created if current policies remain unchanged. The report called for structural reforms in the economies to create more jobs for the youth entering the market. African countries have to prioritize improving infrastructure, skills and adoption of new technology and quality of institutions. To improve competitiveness in the short term Africa needs to increase housing construction through investment, better urban planning and...
(Voice of America 05/03/17)
African military expenditures have finally slowed down after more than a decade of steady increases, according to a new report on global defense spending. The main reason, the report found, is a drop in oil prices. “The sharp decreases in oil prices has affected quite a number of African countries, namely South Sudan and Angola. This has kind of driven almost the entire regional trend,” said Nan Tian, a researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) Arms and Military Expenditure Program, the organization that authored the report. The SIPRI report found military spending in Africa in 2016 was down by 1.3 percent from the previous year and totaled about $37.9 billion. Despite the drop, Africa’s military spending remains...
(Bloomberg 05/02/17)
Saudi Aramco is seeking to boost its fuel-trading volume by more than a third as the world’s biggest crude exporter expands its capacity to refine oil to grab a bigger share of growing markets in Asia and Africa. Aramco, as Saudi Arabian Oil Co. is known, is building refineries in the kingdom and in Asia to help it increase sales and purchases of gasoline, diesel and other products to more than 2 million barrels a day, said Ibrahim Al-Buainain, chief executive officer of Saudi Aramco’s trading unit, Saudi Aramco Products Trading Co. Owning refineries gives the unit, known as Aramco Trading Co., options for buying and selling fuel that some of its competitors don’t have. “The key is that you...

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