Sunday 25 June 2017
(AFP (eng) 03/02/17)
A film raging against colonialism and the exploitation of Africa wowed viewers at the continent's top cinema festival Wednesday, winning shouts of approval at a screening packed to bursting point. "The African Storm" tells the story of an African president who nationalises businesses run by racist, cynical Western executives. Directed and produced by its Beninese star Sylvestre Amoussou, it tackles several hot-button issues including an exit from the CFA franc currency, closer ties with Russia and China as opposed to the West, criticism of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and pride in being African. One of 20 feature-length movies on show at the Panafrican Film and Television Festival (Fespaco) in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou, the movie was punctuated...
(AFP (eng) 03/01/17)
In the Very Holy Church of Jesus Christ of Baname, the 25-year-old founder calls herself God, her business partner is a self-styled Pope and devotees pledge to end the reign of the Devil. Its charismatic theology and clashes with other religions have caused it to be expelled from Benin's community of churches, and repeated scandals keep the sect in the public eye. The latest episode occurred in January, when five followers suffocated to death after they were told to lock themselves inside sealed rooms with burning incense and pray for deliverance. But it seems no amount of bad press can dent the Very Holy Church's soaring popularity, or eclipse the fire-and-brimstone appeal of its leader. On special Sundays, thousands of...
(AFP (eng) 03/01/17)
With its palm tree-lined beaches, unique heritage and wildlife parks, Benin can hold its own against the best African holiday destinations. But tourism revenue accounts for just 0.7 percent of gross domestic product and there were only 240,000 visitors in 2014, according to World Bank figures. That compares to an average of one million visitors a year in Senegal, which is one of the most popular destinations in West Africa. Now Benin's government wants to change the situation. "We've got 200,000 people without doing anything. Imagine what we could do with a bit of effort? We could double that," said the head of the national tourism agency, Jose Pliya. The agency, which was set up several months ago, is the...
(AFP (eng) 02/28/17)
The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership -- the world's biggest individual prize -- drew a blank once again in finding a suitable laureate, it was announced Tuesday. The prize only goes to a democratically-elected African leader who demonstrated exceptional leadership, served their mandated term and left office within the last three years. The award comes with $5 million (4.7 million euros) paid over 10 years and $200,000 annually for life from then on. The prize, founded by Sudan-born telecoms tycoon Mo Ibrahim, has only been given four times in its 10-year existence. The philanthropist has said in the past that making no award sent just as strong a message on African leadership. "A very high bar was deliberately...
(AFP (eng) 02/27/17)
An African road movie about four women wowed its audience Sunday as it kicked off the Panafrican cinema and television festival (Fespaco), a showcase for the continent's burgeoning film industry. "Borders" ("Frontieres") directed by Apolline Traore, a Fespaco laureate in 2013, sweeps across Africa as its protagonists journey through Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Benin on their way to Nigeria. Along the way the women -- Ivorian, Senegalese, Burkinabe and Nigerian actresses -- are spared nothing as they are beset by customs officers, thieves, murderers and rapists. The film -- the first feature-length film to show at the festival -- deals with "the bravery of women," Traore told AFP at the festival in the Burkinabe capital Ouagadougou. "There is a...
(AFP (eng) 02/23/17)
For the first time in Africa, researchers said Wednesday they have detected a malaria parasite that is partially resistant to the top anti-malaria drug, artemisinin, raising concern about efforts to fight a disease that sickens hundreds of millions of people each year. The discovery means that Africa now joins southeast Asia in hosting such drug-resistant forms of the mosquito-borne disease. Malaria infected more than 200 million people and killed some 438,000 people worldwide in 2015, most of them children in Africa. "The spread of artemisinin resistance in Africa would be a major setback in the fight against malaria, as ACT (artemisinin-based combination therapy) is the only effective and widely used antimalarial treatment at the moment," said lead author Arnab Pain,...
(Xinhuanet 02/22/17)
Africa Energy Indaba, the continent's premier energy event, kicked off in Johannesburg on Monday with the aim of finding solutions to the continent's energy future. The three-day conference is being attended by the governments' representatives, business and funders. The meeting seeks to unleash the continent's potential by coming up with an energy mix to develop Africa. Dr. Garth Strachan, Deputy Director General and Head of Gas Industrialization Unit in South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry said the recent discoveries of gas in Mozambique, Angola and Tanzania provides a huge opportunity for the continent. He said there is a need for the countries to work together to tap benefits from the gas for the good of the continent. Strachan said...
(Bloomberg 02/21/17)
Ashish Thakkar, who co-founded Africa banking conglomerate Atlas Mara Ltd. with ex-Barclays Plc head Bob Diamond, lost a ruling over the ownership of family assets in a London divorce case, with a judge questioning Thakkar’s truthfulness. Judge Philip Moor ruled that Thakkar, and not his mother and sister, was the owner of disputed assets in the divorce. He found that the 35-year-old owned 100 percent of Mara Group Holdings Ltd. and other corporate entities. The result will have ramifications in the proceedings where a judge will have to decide how much Thakkar -- described in videos posted on his foundation’s website as "Africa’s Youngest Billionaire" -- is worth. Thakkar says he has assets of 445,532 pounds ($553,000) while his wife,...
(Reuters (Eng) 02/18/17)
Four Christian priests from a Benin anti-voodoo cult were arrested and charged on Thursday for their suspected role in five deaths during prayers held last month in anticipation of the end of the world. The followers of the "Very Holy Church of Jesus Christ of Baname" died after they were instructed to seal off their prayer rooms, burn incense and charcoal and wait for the world to end, residents and a survivor told Reuters. Others were treated in hospital for severe breathing problems. The four priests were charged with manslaughter in the capital Porto Novo and were sent to prison pending trial.
(AFP (eng) 02/15/17)
The French nuclear group Areva said Tuesday a truck carrying a chemical used in the uranium fuel process had tipped over in Benin, but there was "no risk" of contamination. The accident occurred in the West African country on Sunday near Dassa, about 200 kilometres (125 miles) north of the capital Cotonou. The truck was carrying uranate, an oxide used in the process to make nuclear fuel. The chemical has "very low radioactivity", a spokeswoman for Areva told AFP. A security cordon was set up at the site, and "it was quickly determined that there was no radioactive or chemical threat from the accident, the container stayed attached to the trailer without
(AFP (eng) 02/15/17)
Sub-Saharan Africa, where more than a half billion people live without electricity, trails the world in government policies that promote sustainable energy, according to a new World Bank report Wednesday. Much of the rest of the world, however, has made strides toward making energy broadly available, developing renewable power sources and increasing efficiency, the inaugural Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy report said. In a survey of 111 countries, the World Bank found that through 2015 nearly 80 percent had begun to adopt policies to expand electrical grids, connecting them to solar and wind generation, and to help make electric utilities creditworthy and financially viable while keeping energy prices down. More than a third of countries, home to 96 percent of...
(Agence Ecofin 02/14/17)
Benin plans to borrow from regional capital markets about 1 trillion CFA, by issuing public securities. The decree corresponding to the move was adopted during a council of ministers held last February 1. It will help the country fund part of its CFA2 trillion budget for 2017. The issuance of securities by the Benin government this year was decided jointly with the UMOA-Titres agency (UAT) and primary dealers of approved treasury securities. The new transaction comes while Benin’s reputation in the regional financial market was impaired the nation’s inability to secure FCFA35 billion issued on Treasury bills on February 2. According to a report from the regional agency for support to issuance and securities management in WAMU, the operation organized...
(Voice of America 02/14/17)
U.S. President Donald Trump made his first phone calls to African heads of state Monday, speaking with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and South African President Jacob Zuma. Nigeria and South Africa said the calls were made at the request of the U.S. president, who until now has said little about Africa or African issues since assuming office last month. The Nigerian presidency said Trump and Buhari discussed issues of terrorism, and said Trump assured Buhari the United States is ready to make a new deal to help Nigeria "in terms of military weapons." The statement said Trump also commended Buhari for the strides Nigeria is making against Islamist radical group Boko Haram, and invited Buhari to come to Washington at...
(AFP (eng) 02/10/17)
Up to 18 players at the just-completed Africa Cup of Nations could be involved in the new-look CAF Champions League when it kicks off this weekend. Among them is Georges Bokwe, one of two unused goalkeepers in the Cameroon squad that defeated Egypt in the final last Sunday in Gabon. Bokwe was kept out of the starting line-up by the consistent brilliance of Spain-based Fabrice Ondoa, who was included in the team of the tournament. But Bokwe is the first choice for regular Champions League entrants Coton Sport from northern Cameroon cotton town Garoua. Coton qualified for the 2008 final, losing to Al Ahly of Egypt, but have fared poorly recently with first round exits in the past two seasons...
(Standard Digital 02/09/17)
Hundreds of business and political personalities yesterday attended a German-African economic summit in Nairobi, where German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Mueller talked about his “Marshall Plan” for Africa. The plan is “with Africa, not for Africa,” Mueller (pictured) said, stressing that it would be based on cooperation between equals rather than the principles of traditional development aid. The plan, which Mueller presented to the German parliament’s development committee on Wednesday, is based on fair trade conditions, investment and increasing aid for educational projects. One of the goals of the plan, which the German opposition received with scepticism, is to curb migratory flows from Africa to Europe. Mueller called on German companies to focus on Africa, which he...
(AL Jazeera 02/08/17)
The EU must espouse a transnational approach with a clear development agenda that replaces its current security policy. One year ago, 22-year-old Patrick left Douala, the largest city in Cameroon, to become a football star in Europe. A talented midfielder and an ambitious young man, Patrick felt compelled to reach Europe to help him to realise his dreams. But, as he passed through Agadez in Niger, which has become a major transit hub for migrants taking the Central Mediterranean route, reality proved to be grimmer than he had anticipated. Patrick and two of his male relatives, also travelling from Douala, were beaten, robbed and held captive by organised predatory groups. Finally, their tumultuous journey came to an end in Algeria,...
(Bloomberg 02/06/17)
Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. is expected to raise about $500 million for its new African investment fund, attracting less than its original goal as investor interest in the region proved weaker than anticipated, according to people familiar with the matter. The Toronto-based insurer sought to raise as much as $1 billion at $10 a share for Fairfax Africa Holdings Corp. in an initial public offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange, according to a regulatory filing in December. Fairfax said it had secured as much as $416 million in commitments for the African venture from both its own funds and partners, including the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, a Canadian pension fund and CI Investments Inc., according to the...
(Xinhuanet 02/03/17)
T20 Africa Conference, the meeting for the G20 think tanks and African countries, ended on Friday in Johannesburg with a commitment to accelerate cooperation between the G20 and Africa. The three-day conference aimed to chart a course for the future cooperation between Africa and the G20. The day ended with the formulation of the communique which will be given to the current G20 chair Germany. The communique will also be the reference for further discussion between Africa and T20. T20 comprises of the G20 think tanks. Dr. Christine Hackenesch, researcher at the German Development Institute (DIE) said, "There was an agreement that there must be a continuous and sustained engagement between G20 and Africa because there is a strong dependence...
(Reuters (Eng) 02/02/17)
African leaders have backed a "strategy of collective withdrawal" from the International Criminal Court (ICC), but it came with unspecified reservations, an African Union official said on Wednesday after this week's African Union summit. The official did not give details about the strategy or the reservations, but it highlights broad antipathy towards the court among Africans who feel the ICC unfairly targets them. A document seen by Reuters before the summit proposed a co-ordinated withdrawal unless the ICC was reformed. It included a call for "regionalization" of international law, a reference to proposals for an African war crimes court. Almost a third of the ICC's 124 members are African, and a withdrawal by a large number of them would cripple...
(Reuters (Eng) 02/01/17)
Five people died from asphyxiation in Benin this weekend and several more were hospitalized after a religious cult told followers to seal themselves into prayer rooms and burn incense and charcoal, residents and a survivor told Reuters. The group, whose name in French translates as the "Very Holy Church of Jesus Christ of Baname", has thousands of adherents across the country and has stirred tensions by vehemently opposing the local voodoo culture. Its young woman leader, Vicentia Chanvoukini, known by her followers as "Lady Perfect", has proclaimed herself a god.

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