Saturday 19 August 2017
(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...
(The Associated Press 05/19/17)
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is making his first trip overseas to Liberia, the West African country where Ebola killed more than 4,800 people. Price on Thursday praised Liberia for its "remarkable cooperation" on health care issues. He toured a community that was hit hard by the Ebola virus in 2014. Ebola survivor Mohammed Kromah told Price how he spent almost two months at a treatment center. He showed the U.S. health secretary his Ebola-free certificate, which was greeted with wide applause. Price later met with health workers at Redemption Hospital
(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...
(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...
(Daily Observer 05/16/17)
At least 3,900 persons have enrolled in the Ebola Natural History Study being conducted by PREVAIL - the Partnership for Research on Ebola Virus in Liberia in Margibi County. The number includes about 1,000 Ebola survivors and 2,000 of their close contacts, people who took care of the survivors at the time they came down with the deadly Ebola virus, according to PREVAIL Social Mobilization Manager Bartholomew Wilson, during a community engagement in Worhn, the administrative headquarters of Gibi District in Margibi County. The community engagement meetings, organized by the Liberia Crusaders for Peace in collaboration with PREVAIL, are meant to rally Liberians' support for the scientific research being conducted by the joint US-Liberia clinical research partnership. PREVAIL has launched...
(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...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/10/17)
Medical samples from four of the victims of a disease in Liberia that initially baffled scientists have tested positive for a type of bacteria that causes meningitis, the minister of health said on Monday. So far a total of 31 cases of the so-called mystery illness have been reported, including 13 deaths in an outbreak linked to the attendance of a religious leader's funeral. While the symptoms are different from Ebola, the sudden deaths nevertheless stirred anxiety about an outbreak of the tropical illness which was often spread through burial rituals in the West African epidemic that ended less than a year ago. Seven specimens from the deceased tested positive for Neisseria meningitidis, a particularly contagious strain of bacteria that...
(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...
(Xinhuanet 05/09/17)
The mysterious disease plagued Liberia's southeastern county of Sinoe in the past two weeks appears to be meningitis, a Liberian health official has said. Health Minister Bernice Dahn told reporters here on Monday that laboratory tests carried out on victims' blood specimens had proven that the West African country was "dealing with a probable outbreak of meningitis." The disease that originated from Greenville, the capital of Sinoe county, has spread to other parts of the nation during the past two weeks. A total of 31 cases, including 13 deaths, have been reported so far. "We are taking public health measures so that it will not further spread," said the minster, adding that an investigation is underway to clarify all doubts...
(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...
(AFP (eng) 05/04/17)
A UN peacekeeper killed in a rocket and mortar attack claimed by a powerful jihadist alliance in Mali was identified Thursday by the United Nations as a Liberian soldier. A UN mission known by its acronym MINUSMA has been stationed in the west African country since 2013 and is considered the world body's most dangerous active peacekeeping deployment. MINUSMA said nine others were injured by shelling on its camp in the troubled historic city of Timbuktu on Wednesday afternoon. Liberia had 78 troops serving in the 13,000-strong MINUSMA force which is assisting Malian troops struggling to secure the country.
(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...
(AFP (eng) 05/02/17)
More people have died following the outbreak of a mysterious illness that began in southeastern Liberia but has spread to the capital, with 12 unexplained deaths so far, health authorities told AFP Tuesday. Liberia's health ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO) both confirmed the revised death toll, while minister Sorbor George said the illness first registered in Sinoe County was now present in Monrovia. "The illness has entered the capital. A man came from Sinoe to attend a funeral in Monrovia and he got sick. He shows the same symptoms, later on he died," George said. "After he died his girlfriend got sick showing the same symptoms, she died also," he added. The Liberian government had given a death...
(The Associated Press 05/02/17)
A Liberian forestry authority says a mob of people have killed two forestry staffers who had arrested 20 people for hunting illegally in Liberia's Sarpo National Park. Forestry Development Authority managing director Darlington Tuagben said Monday that the two staffers found a new base set up by illegal hunters and arrested 20 of them on Thursday in the protected rainforest park which covers more than 100 hectares (247 acres) in Liberia's southeast. He said a mob in support of illegal hunting then formed and attacked, killing the two staffers using shot guns, machetes and sticks. Tuagben said that those monitoring and protecting the park do not even carry pistols. Hunters mainly target wild monkeys and deer that are protected in...
(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...
(Reuters (Eng) 04/29/17)
Eleven people have died and five are in hospital, Liberian officials said on Friday, after contracting a mystery illness the World Health Organisation (WHO) said was linked to attendance at the funeral of a religious leader. "We are still investigating. The only thing we have ruled out is ... Ebola," said Liberia's Chief Medical Officer Francis Kateh, adding samples from the victims had been sent abroad for further testing. On Wednesday, the WHO said Liberian health authorities were taking rapid precautionary steps after eight people died of a mystery illness, 10 months after the end of a two-year Ebola virus outbreak. "It seems all of these people were attending the funeral of a religious leader," WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told...
(AFP (eng) 04/28/17)
Liberia said Friday that samples from people struck down by a mystery illness are being tested abroad after 11 unexplained deaths, though Ebola has been ruled out. The unidentified illness has affected 19 people in Greenville, southeastern Liberia, who began showing symptoms on April 24, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed. Eleven people died in the community and five more have been hospitalised since then, the WHO said in Geneva, with the rest discharged. Liberia's health ministry and the WHO have confirmed the disease is not Ebola, the hemorrhagic fever that killed thousands in a recent west African epidemic, despite some similar symptoms. "We have taken blood samples, and what we are going to do is to send this sample...

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