Saturday 16 December 2017
(Reuters (Eng) 11/08/17)
PARIS (Reuters) - Malian soldiers killed by a French military strike in northern Mali last month were deserters who had joined an Islamist militant group, a French source close to the matter said on Tuesday. That contradicted comments from the Malian Defense Ministry, which said on Monday that the soldiers killed in the Oct. 23 strike, a raid on a camp of the Ansar Dine militant group, had been its hostages. The French source said the raid was carried out “on the basis of detailed intelligence against a camp that included Malians who had joined the Islamist ranks. They were hit, amongst others.” “They were not prisoners,” the source told Reuters, declining to say how many were killed or captured...
(AFP (eng) 11/08/17)
A dozen other students look on as Umar Amadu uses a glass pipette to draw a solution from a conical flask as part of a chemistry experiment. It could be a scene from any school laboratory around the world, but until two months ago Amadu and his fellow students had no access to any science equipment. Science subjects at his rural secondary school outside the city of Katsina in northern Nigeria were taught using theory only. But now they have all the kit they need to put theory into practice, thanks to a mobile science lab that tours selected state schools. "It's an exciting experience. We were being taught only the theoretical aspect of science subjects," Amadu, who wants to...
(AFP (eng) 11/07/17)
The maiden mission of a counterterrorism force that aims to tackle jihadist groups in the troubled Sahel experienced "logistical problems" but they are not "insurmountable", according to the military's first appraisal of the operation. The G5 Sahel force -- an initiative comprising Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger -- last week began its first operation, dubbed Hawbi, with French military support. "It's the first mission. We have lots of lessons to learn, but I don't think it is insurmountable," said Mahamadou Mounkaila, a Nigerien colonel, from a command post in the Niger capital, Niamey. Construction work is still underway, but the complex is already the strategic and logistical hub of the new multinational force. It has an unprecedented mandate...
(Reuters (Eng) 11/07/17)
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Ride-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc. [UBER.UL] is growing rapidly in sub-Saharan Africa and considering moves into more markets, despite sometimes violent opposition from metered taxi drivers, a senior executive said on Tuesday. Uber’s service has triggered protests by rivals from London to New Delhi as it up-ends traditional business models that require professional drivers to pay steep licensing fees to do business. “We are bullish on Africa. The growth here is still substantial and we think that given the right regulatory environment, the growth could be even better,” Justin Spratt, head of business development for the sub-Saharan region, told Reuters. “Africa’s growth thus far has been faster than America and a large part of that is...
(AFP (eng) 11/06/17)
At least seven people died Monday in two attacks in Mali, as the prime minister cancelled a visit to a central town after a vehicle sent to protect his team hit a landmine. A bus travelling in the restive north was blown by a mine on Monday, killing at least four people, police and administrative officials told AFP. "A bus hit a mine near Ansongo," a small town about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Gao," the regional hub, a Malian military officer in the area said by phone. "At least four civilians, including a teenage girl, were killed. There were injured as well." A local official, reached by AFP, added: "It was jihadists who laid the bomb in order to...
(Reuters (Eng) 11/06/17)
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Africa’s mobile internet connections are set to double in the next five years, a study showed on Monday, thanks to affordable smartphones and the roll-out of high-speed networks. A report by research and consulting firm Ovum in London estimates that mobile broadband connections will rise from 419 million at the end of this year to 1.07 billion by the end of 2022. “Data connectivity is growing strongly in Africa, and there are also good prospects on the continent in areas such as digital media, mobile financial services, and the Internet of Things,” said Matthew Reed, Practice Leader Middle East and Africa at Ovum. “But as Africa’s TMT market becomes more convergent and complex, service providers are under...
(AFP (eng) 11/04/17)
In a cloud of ochre dust, a column of army pickup trucks slowly advances on a dirt road near Mali's border with Burkina Faso -- one of the world's hotspots for jihadism. The national flag of Mali flaps in the wind: an appropriate symbol for a brand-new force whose first task is to assure terrified locals that governance is returning to lawless lands. "We are here to secure the zone and to reassure people that they can live a normal life," Lieutenant Gaoussou Diara, who commands 100 Malian troops in the convoy, told AFP. "The track between Tessit and Kayrougouten (in central Mali) is a major route, used by traders and the population." The new force, called the G5 Sahel,...
(AFP (eng) 11/03/17)
US politicians are voicing concern over America's growing military presence across Africa, where they worry the Pentagon is getting ever more embroiled in a secretive campaign against a shifting enemy. Last month's killing of four US soldiers in a Niger ambush has thrust the issue into the spotlight, with lawmakers calling for greater transparency on what is going on in Africa. "The footprint in Africa is much bigger than the American public understands," Democratic Senator Tim Kaine said this week. The Niger ambush has also rekindled debate over the legal authorities the Pentagon uses to fight jihadist groups overseas, particularly in Africa where about 6,000 US troops are deployed across the vast continent. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis this week faced...
(AFP (eng) 11/01/17)
A joint anti-jihadist force linking countries in the Sahel began operations on Wednesday, the French military mission in the region, which is providing support, told AFP. "The deployment of Malian, Nigerien and Burkinabe troops in the G5 Sahel force began this morning," said a colonel for France's Barkhane mission, speaking on condition that only his first name of Marc-Antoine was used. Several hundred troops have been deployed in the initial operation, codenamed Hawbi, he said. It will "provide a show of strength and demonstrate presence" in the Mali, Burkina and Niger border regions "and impede freedom of movement, which several armed groups have enjoyed for months," Marc-Antoine said. "The ultimate goal is to boost the power of the G5 Sahel...
(AFP (eng) 11/01/17)
A campaign group for two French journalists murdered in Mali four years ago said Wednesday they had received information that "two or three" people involved in the killings may be in Algeria. Speaking to the press in Dakar after being briefed on the state of the investigation, the group said they believed "major suspects" had been identified. Journalists Ghislaine Dupont, 57, and Claude Verlon, 55, working for France's state-owned world news service RFI, were abducted and killed in Kidal, in northern Mali, on November 2, 2013. The murders have long been suspected to have been revenge for a French military campaign, Operation Serval, that chased out jihadists from the region a few months earlier. But a rival theory, aired this...
(Reuters (Eng) 10/31/17)
(Reuters) - The U.S. Navy is investigating whether two members of the elite SEAL Team Six may have been involved in the death of an Army Green Beret in Mali in June, defense officials said on Sunday. The United States has special operations forces stationed in Bamako, Mali’s capital, performing training and counterterrorism missions. U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said investigators suspected that Staff Sergeant Logan Melgar did not die from natural causes. Melgar, 34, had served two tours in Afghanistan and was found dead on June 4, the officials said. The New York Times first reported on Melgar’s death, citing unnamed military officials saying his death was caused by strangulation. Defense officials told Reuters the investigation was...
(AFP (eng) 10/31/17)
The UN Security Council looked at ways of shoring up a new G5 Sahel regional counter-terrorism force on Monday, with France seeking UN funding and support for the fight against jihad in Africa. What are the origins of the force to number up to 5,000 troops from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, and why is it needed? - Why now? - Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger -- the so-called "G5 Sahel" countries just south of the Sahara -- first raised the idea of a regional force in November 2015 in Chad's capital, N'Djamena. The idea resurfaced in the light of the deteriorating security situation in Mali, and following mounting incidents of jihadist violence in neighbouring Burkina...
(Reuters (Eng) 10/31/17)
HARARE (Reuters) - Economic growth is expected to rise to 3.4 percent in sub-Saharan Africa next year from 2.6 percent in 2017, the IMF said in a report on Monday, but warned that rising debt and political risks in larger economies would weigh down future growth. Nigeria and South African are the biggest economies in Africa south of the Sahara, but both nations have been clouded by political uncertainty linked to the tenure of their leaders. The IMF said a good harvest and recovery in oil output in Nigeria would contribute more than half of the growth in the region this year while an uptick in mining and a better harvest in South Africa as well as a rebound in...
(AFP (eng) 10/30/17)
The United States will pledge $60 million to support the new G5 Sahel regional counter-terrorism force, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Monday, ahead of UN talks on the operation. "This is a fight we must win, and these funds will play a key role in achieving that mission," he said, describing G5 members Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger as "regional partners." Washington has previously expressed support for the force, and has troops and drone operators in the region supporting operations against Islamist militants, but opposes United Nations involvement. The UN Security Council was due to meet later Monday to look at ways of shoring up the G5 force, with France seeking a multilateral platform to provide assistance...
(Reuters (Eng) 10/30/17)
UNITED NATIONS/ABIDJAN (Reuters) - The United States has promised up to $60 million to support the Group of Five Sahel States (G5 Sahel) Joint Force’s counter-terrorism efforts, the State Department said on Monday. The force - which will eventually comprise nearly 5,000 troops units from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania - is meant to counter a growing jihadist threat in West Africa’s arid Sahel region that includes groups linked to Al Qaeda and Islamic State. It is due to begin joint patrols along the borders between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso in the coming days. An ambush by unidentified militants earlier this month in Niger killed four U.S. Special Forces troops and threw a spotlight on American involvement...
(AFP (eng) 10/27/17)
Three UN peacekeepers in northern Mali were killed Thursday and another two injured when their vehicle struck a "mine or an improvised explosive device," the United Nations Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said. The blast occurred at around 1430 GMT when the vehicle was escorting "a logistical convoy" north of Kidal, on a highway between Tessalit and Aguelhok, it said in a statement, adding that the toll was still provisional. "Following the explosion, three peacekeepers lost their lives and two others were injured, according to a provisional toll," MINUSMA said, adding the survivors were being taken to Kidal. Interim UN mission head Koen Davidse said he vigorously condemned "such despicable acts whose sole aim is to destabilise the country and jeopardise...
(AFP (eng) 10/26/17)
An organisation linked to al-Qaeda on Thursday claimed an attack in northern Mali that killed two soldiers, the US monitoring group SITE said. Claims were made by Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, the Mali-based branch of al-Qaeda, on the "Telegram" channel of the group's so-called Al-Zallaqa Media Foundation, it said. "Fighters mounted a surprise attack on the Malian army position in Soumpi, killing two soldiers and burning military vehicles as well as those belonging to Sogea-Satom,"
(AFP (eng) 10/26/17)
Five nations in Africa's Sahel region are progressively deploying a counter-terror force to combat jihadist groups but the project will be vulnerable during its fledgling stage, diplomats and military sources say. The so-called "G5 Sahel" states are some of the world's poorest and least developed nations, comprising Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Spread across largely tough, desert terrain, the G5's counter-terror force will launch its first operation against jihadists at the end of October, codenamed "Buffalo" in a local language according to official documents seen by AFP, with several more planned. At the new force's military headquarters in Sevare, central Mali, Commander Didier Dacko is highly aware of vulnerabilities linked to incomplete troop numbers and a funding gap...
(AFP (eng) 10/24/17)
The 15-nation West African bloc ECOWAS told regional leaders Tuesday that the goal of establishing a single currency among their economies in 2020 had failed. "The roadmap has not been implemented vigorously," Marcel de Souza, president of the ECOWAS Commission, told a summit in Niamey, the capital of Niger. "We cannot move to the single currency in 2020," he said.
(AFP (eng) 10/24/17)
Elephant poaching in Africa declined for a fifth straight year in 2016 but seizures of illegal ivory hit records highs, the CITES monitor said Tuesday, calling it a "conflicting phenomena". In its latest report, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species also noted that despite the overall fall in poaching, Africa's elephant population has continued to drop "due to continued illegal killing, land transformation and rapid human expansion." Global illegal ivory trade has remained relatively stable for six years, CITES reported. But 2016 saw a full 40 tonnes of illegal ivory seized, the most since 1989, as well as the hightest-ever number of "large-scale ivory seizures", the group said. "The overall weight of seized ivory in illegal trade is...

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