Friday 17 November 2017
(AFP (eng) 11/04/17)
Selembouha Dadi can only imagine the homeland she dreams of but has never seen, agonisingly out of reach beyond the Algerian refugee camp where she has spent her whole life. "They tell me it was beautiful," the 25-year-old told AFP. The territory that Dadi yearns for is Western Sahara, a sprawling swathe of desert on Africa's Atlantic coast that has been disputed by Morocco and independence fighters from the Polisario Front for decades. Her father Moulay abandoned everything and fled 42 years ago when Moroccan troops arrived in 1975 during the rush to claim the former Spanish colony as Madrid let it go. Now, along with tens of thousands of other refugees, their family of nine lives in one of...
(AFP (eng) 11/04/17)
An unexpected gust of cool air greets visitors to the new archives centre in Tiznit in the mountains of southern Morocco, even without air-conditioning despite extreme heat outside its walls. That is thanks to the ancestral building methods used by Salima Naji, a French-educated Moroccan architect who specialises in construction that blends in with the environment and local traditions. Rather than concrete, she used adobe and mudbrick, and built in high air vents for circulation. "First I look at what's available on the scene, rather than bring things in from elsewhere," said the architect who has a second degree in anthropology and who has restored several historical buildings. The priority is always two-fold: to protect local traditions and the environment...
(AFP (eng) 11/03/17)
One man was shot dead and two others were hurt in a tourist area of Marrakesh, authorities in Morocco said, adding that it appeared to be a local settling of scores. Two attackers wearing balaclavas shot the victim at a cafe in the town, a popular destination for foreign visitors. The man, who was hit in the head, died instantly. The two assailants also injured two other people in a hail of bullets before they fled on a motorbike, local authorities said. Initial investigations indicate that the dead man was specifically targeted, authorities said. Morocco's head of government said on Twitter that two people had already been arrested.
(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) 10/31/17)
The once teeming Jewish area of Moroccan tourist gem Marrakesh is seeing its fortunes revived as visitors including many from Israel flock to experience its unique culture and history. "You're now entering the last synagogue in the mellah," the walled Jewish quarter in the heart of the ochre city, Isaac Ohayon says as he enthusiastically guides tourists in the courtyard of the Lazama synagogue. "Many visitors come from Israel -- you wouldn't believe the demand!" adds the jovial 63-year-old hardware shop owner. This place of worship and study was built originally in 1492 during the Inquisition when the Jews were driven out of Spain. Known as the "synagogue of the exiles", it hosted generations of young Berbers who converted to...
(Xinhuanet 10/31/17)
Transforming skins waste into luxury leather to make handbags, pairs of shoes or smartphone hulls is the challenge successfully tackled by the Moroccan company SeaSkin. Founded by Nawal Allaoui, a student at the Higher School of Textile and Clothing Industries (Esith), SeaSkin produces and markets luxury leather goods based on fish leather. This young woman, who often frequented the coastal zone of Casablanca, knows perfectly the species of fish, from which she recovers waste which is worth of gold. Considered as waste, the skins usually go to the trash to pile up in bins where they decompose in oily matter, until the day when Nawal saw the treasure that these skins hid, giving them a second life. "The idea came...
(Xinhuanet 10/31/17)
A regional meeting on migration opened in the Moroccan city of Skhirat with the aim to elaborate an African agenda on the issue. The three-day meeting brings together representatives of African states, the United Nations, the African Union, NGOs and academics. Speaking during the opening of the meeting, Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita said the informal session aims to open a deep dialogue between the politician, the experts and the civil society. Since March, Morocco's king Mohammed VI has been in charge of coordinating the migration issue within the African Union. In his speech addressed to the 29th AU Summit last July, the Moroccan king stressed the need for African states to work together to develop an African...
(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)
Tensions still simmer in Morocco's neglected north a year after a fishmonger was crushed to death in a rubbish truck, sparking a wave of protests for social justice. On Saturday, residents of the port city of Al-Hoceima marked the first anniversary of Mouhcine Fikri's death as he tried to retrieve swordfish confiscated by authorities because they were caught out of season. The 31-year-old's death had sparked demonstrations for justice that quickly snowballed into a wider social movement named Al-Hirak al-Shaabi, or "Popular Movement", calling for jobs, development and an end to graft. Protests gripped the Rif region, particularly the main port city of Al-Hoceima, but also spread to the capital Rabat and economic hub Casablanca. Demonstrators clashed with security forces,...
(AFP (eng) 10/25/17)
King Mohammed VI of Morocco on Tuesday sacked three ministers because of "delays in development programmes" in the troubled northern Rif region, the palace said. The Rif was gripped earlier this year by months of angry demonstrations calling for jobs, development and an end to corruption in the North African kingdom. Morocco in 2015 launched a $700 million (600 million euro) programme to revive the northern port city of Al-Hoceima, a focal point of the protest movement. But a report released on Tuesday cited "malfunctions" and unjustified delays, the royal cabinet said. "There was a big delay in launching projects, and worse, the majority...
(AFP (eng) 10/24/17)
A protest leader who spearheaded demonstrations that rocked northern Morocco earlier this year went on trial Tuesday in a packed courtroom in the city of Casablanca. Unemployed Nasser Zefzafi, 39, who was arrested in May, faces the death penalty for allegedly "undermining the internal security of the state" after becoming the flag bearer for the protest movement in the impoverished Rif region. Zefzafi's silhouette could be seen through the opaque glass in the courtroom alongside some 30 other defendants, in his first public appearance since his detention. His co-accused are facing between five and 20 years behind bars. A judge quickly suspended the hearing to restore order as some 50 lawyers and dozens of relations of those on trial struggled...
(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...
(Reuters (Eng) 10/23/17)
DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - African political leaders, activists, and local chiefs joined forces on Monday to commit to ending child marriage in West and Central Africa, the region with the highest child marriage rate in the world. More than a third of girls in the region are married under the age of 18, with the rate over 50 percent in six countries and up to 76 percent in Niger. Driven by factors including poverty, insecurity and religious tradition, marrying off girls once they reach puberty or even before is a deeply engrained social custom in much of West and Central Africa. The practice hampers global efforts to reduce poverty and population growth and has negative impacts on women’s and...
(AFP (eng) 10/21/17)
Morocco has recalled its ambassador after the Algerian foreign minister accused the kingdom's banks of "laundering hashish money" in Africa, in the latest diplomatic spat between the North African rivals. The foreign ministry said it also summoned Algeria's charge d'affaires in Rabat on Friday evening to protest the "very serious statements... concerning the African policy of the kingdom of Morocco." Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel made his comments at a meeting of business leaders in Algiers on Friday, excerpts of which were widely circulated on social media. He was discussing the sharp increase in investment...
(AFP (eng) 10/21/17)
A 1,200-kilometre (750 mile) round bus trip taking about 22 hours: that is the weekly grind faced by families of activists arrested over a protest movement in northern Morocco if they want to see their loved ones jailed in Casablanca. "The families of those detained are exhausted, every week it's the same ordeal," complained Rachid Ahbbad, as he visited his 19-year-old son Bilal who was jailed in June. "Why do they make us go through this suffering?" The Rif region of northern Morocco, a predominantly Berber area, was gripped earlier this year by months of angry demonstrations calling for jobs, development and an end to corruption in the North African kingdom. Originally sparked by the death of a fisherman crushed...
(AFP (eng) 10/21/17)
The killing of four American special operations soldiers in Niger has highlighted the increasing role elite units are playing across Africa, which is rapidly becoming a major center of US military action. Their mission is to counter the advances of a slew of jihadist movements across the continent, including Al-Shabaab in Somalia, affiliates of the Islamic State group in the Sahel region and Boko Haram in Nigeria. Of the 8,000 special forces "operators" deployed globally this year, more than 1,300 are in Africa, according to officials from the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), which is based in Tampa, Florida. Another 5,000 or so are in the Middle East. In five years, the number of US commandos in Africa has tripled...
(AFP (eng) 10/20/17)
Visitors crowded through the doors Thursday as a museum to legendary fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent opened to the public in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh. The museum's management said 1,000 people thronged through its exhibition halls in the first three hours to get a glimpse of some of Saint Laurent's most iconic creations as they went on display in the city that inspired him. The opening comes just over a fortnight after another museum to the famed French couturier, who died in 2008, began working at the company's former headquarters in Paris. The Moroccan project -- housed in a modernist building of traditional rose-coloured ochre bricks -- was a last labour of love for Saint Laurent's former business and...
(Reuters (Eng) 10/20/17)
DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The #MeToo social media campaign to raise awareness about sexual harassment and abuse has sparked conversation in parts of Africa where domestic violence is rampant but strong cultural and religious taboos prevent women from admitting it. Prompted by sexual abuse allegations against American film mogul Harvey Weinstein, millions of women around the world have been sharing their experiences of harassment and abuse on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #MeToo. The movement has reached only a small part of the population in West Africa, but some women are participating in defiance of attitudes which dictate that being abused brings shame on the family, is a curse, or makes a woman unmarriageable. In Senegal, some women...
(AFP (eng) 10/18/17)
A smart white coat is no proof of being a qualified medical practitioner in Morocco, where fake dentists and other "health professionals" thrive on poverty, sometimes with wretched consequences. "It's all a question of know-how. I inherited mine from my father," Hamid says proudly, sporting a thin moustache and teeth yellowed by thick deposits of tartar. Hamid brandishes his pincers at the heart of the joyous racket of the Sunday market of Beni Yakhlef, a rural town about 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the seaside metropolis of Casablanca. About a dozen patients wait their turn under an ancient, ragged sunshade, seated on plastic stools bearing the logo of a renowned brand of soft drink. Hamid cleanses the pincers with bleach,...
(AFP (eng) 10/18/17)
Rent-a-room giant Airbnb said Tuesday that it had provided accommodation for 1.2 million visitors to Africa over the last year -- double the previous year as tourism expands across the continent. The website now offers more than 100,000 accommodation options in Africa, global public affairs director Chris Lehane said on a visit to Johannesburg. "It's an incredibly rich and diverse continent, an incredibly dynamic place, certainly a big part of our future," Lehane told AFP. Airbnb was founded in 2008 and offers accommodation ranging from single bedrooms to whole homes in 65,000 cities in 191 countries. The company announced Tuesday that it would invest $1 million (850,000 euros) in Africa by 2020 to "promote and support community-led tourism projects". "For...

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