Friday 22 September 2017
(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...
(AFP (eng) 05/19/17)
President Emmanuel Macron visited French troops fighting jihadists in conflict-torn Mali on Friday and urged faster progress on a peace accord signed in 2015. At the end of his first week in office, Macron flew into Gao, a city in Mali's deeply-troubled north, where he was met by his Malian counterpart Ibrahim Boubacar Keita before sitting down for talks. Macron was keen to display his defence and security credentials with around 1,600 French soldiers stationed in Gao at France's largest foreign base, part of the larger "Barkhane" counter-terror force operating across the Sahel region. The operation comprises around 4,000 soldiers who are deployed in five countries -- Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso. Macron made clear his desire for...
(AFP (eng) 05/19/17)
President Emmanuel Macron on Friday visits conflict-torn Mali, where French troops have been fighting jihadists for four years, in his first official visit outside Europe after taking power. He will address French soldiers stationed in the city of Gao in Mali's deeply troubled north. The French base there has 1,600 soldiers -- the biggest outside the country. The troops are part of Operation Barkhane, a French counterterror operation whose mission is to target jihadist groups operating in the Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert. Set up in 2014, the operation comprises around 4,000 soldiers who are deployed across five countries
(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...
(AFP (eng) 05/18/17)
Un homme et une femme ont été lapidés mercredi 17 mai par des terroristes qui les accusaient de vivre ensemble sans être mariés. Cela s'est passé dans la vallée de Tahglit, entre les villes Aguelhoc et Tessalit, au nord du Mali. Entre mars 2012 et janvier 2013, alors que le nord du Mali était sous contrôle des groupes terroristes, des exactions similaires avaient été perpétrées dans plusieurs villes : à Gao et Tombouctou notamment, des habitants accusés de vols avaient été amputés, d'autres flagellés en public pour des pratiques considérées contraires à la charia; et, déjà à Aguelhoc
(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...
(AFP (eng) 05/17/17)
An unmarried couple were stoned to death in public in northeast Mali by Islamists, local officials told AFP on Wednesday, the first such incident since jihadist groups overran the region five years ago. Jihadists seized key northern cities in Mali in March 2012, and though they were driven out by a French-led military intervention, Islamist groups continue to make their presence felt with frequent attacks on domestic and foreign forces. "The Islamists dug two holes where they put the man and the woman who lived maritally without being married," said a local official. "They were stoned to death." The Tuesday stoning happened in Taghlit, close to Aguelhok in the Kidal region, and the same source told AFP that members of...
(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...
(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...
(Xinhuanet 05/11/17)
A 395-strong Chinese peacekeeping force is set to begin missions in Mali on behalf of the United Nations before the end of May. The troops will be sent to the West African country in two batches, where they will stay for one year. The troops include military engineers, security personnel and medical staff. This is the fifth Chinese peacekeeping force to be sent to Mali.
(Bloomberg 05/10/17)
West African nations are preparing to deploy a military force to counter a surge in ambushes and bombings by Islamist militants that more than 15,000 international troops have failed to contain. Militants are targeting not only United Nations peacekeepers in Mali but increasingly carrying out assaults across its borders. That’s prompted five nations in the arid region south of the Sahara desert known as the G5 Sahel to agree to assemble a 4,000-member force by the end of the year, Malian Defense Minister Tiena Coulibaly said in an interview. Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania will also contribute soldiers. “The frequency of attacks is certainly increasing in both Mali and northern Burkina Faso,” Sean Smith, a West Africa analyst at...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/10/17)
Canada, fearful of possible casualties, is taking months longer than expected to decide whether to send troops to a U.N. mission in Mali, worrying allies and potentially undermining Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's commitment to peacekeeping. Trudeau replaced a Conservative government in November 2015 that had little time for the United Nations. Trudeau's Liberals declared "Canada is back" in August 2016 and said they would commit up to 600 soldiers for possible U.N. deployment. Officials said one option was Mali, where the United Nations has a 10,000-member force to help deal with Islamist militants. "This would be a combat mission. Casualties are inevitable," said one person familiar with the matter. Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan visited the African nation in November,...
(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...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/09/17)
Unidentified militants killed seven Malian soldiers in the north at the weekend, the defense ministry said on Monday, days after the West African country extended a state of emergency. The strike is the second on Malian security forces in a week, bringing the total death toll to at least 15. Militants used a car to ram an army post in the village of Almoustrat on Sunday, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of Gao, before firing rockets, the defense ministry said on state TV. Desert fighters have regrouped since a French-led military operation in 2013 to drive them out of Mali's northern towns which they seized
(AFP (eng) 05/05/17)
A UN peacekeeper killed in a rocket and mortar attack in Mali was identified Thursday as a Liberian soldier, as a powerful jihadist alliance claimed its latest high-profile operation. Nine other soldiers were injured by the shelling that struck the base held by the UN's MINUSMA mission, near the airport in the historic city of Timbuktu on Wednesday afternoon. MINUSMA has been stationed in the west African country since 2013 and is considered the UN's most dangerous active peacekeeping deployment. The Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), a fusion of three Malian jihadist groups
(Voice of America 05/05/17)
The United Nations Security Council has condemned “in the strongest terms” a rocket attack on the peacekeeping camp in Mali that killed one and wounded nine others. The council is demanding the Malian government swiftly investigate the attack and bring those responsible to justice. It stressed that under international law, targeting peacekeepers may be a war crime. Islamic extremists calling themselves Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims is claiming responsibility for Wednesday’s rocket attack on the camp in Timbuktu. A Liberian peacekeeper was killed. Al-Qaida-linked militants were behind another rocket attack on the camp last year. U.N. peacekeepers and French forces are helping Mali deal with the remnants of an Islamic insurgency in the north. Militants briefly took...
(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.

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