Thursday 27 July 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...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/19/17)
Panama authorities have detained a Moroccan phosphate shipment from the disputed territory of Western Sahara after the Polisario independence movement claimed the cargo had been transported illegally, Polisario and officials said on Thursday. The detention of the vessel carrying phosphate rock cargo from Morocco's OCP for Canada's Agrium is the second tanker stopped this month by a Polisario legal challenge, a new tactic the independence movement has been using in its conflict with Morocco. Western Sahara has been disputed since 1975, when Morocco claimed it as part of the kingdom and the Polisario fought a guerrilla war for the Sahrawi people's independence.
(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...
(Xinhuanet 05/18/17)
Morocco has received a loan of 350 million U.S. dollars from the World Bank to support wide-ranging financial reforms, local media reported on Wednesday. The loan will support new sources of financing for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) while improving the regulatory oversight of the banking sector, the Moroccan news site said. The operation will also support capital market development by broadening the range of instruments and strengthening the protection of Moroccan investors, it noted, adding that the loan will also address the financial sustainability of the civil service pension fund
(Premium Times 05/18/17)
Nigeria, Morocco sign gas pipelinNigeria and Morocco on Monday strengthened their business relationship by signing two bilateral agreements in Rabat, Morocco. The first agreement was the Joint Initiative on the Morocco –Nigeria Gas Regional Pipeline. Tagged “The Wonder of Africa” the pipeline project has historical significance because it is designed by Africans for Africans with a direct impact on 300 million people through the speeding up of electrification projects in West Africa; thus serving a basis for the creation of a competitive electricity regional market. The scope of the Memorandum of Understanding, which was signed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines (ONHYM), was to determine the modalities of undertaking a...
(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...
(Xinhuanet 05/16/17)
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has decided to maintain its 3.47 billion U.S. dollars' worth of Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL) for Morocco, local media reported on Monday. The IMF's executive board completed the first review under the PLL Arrangement and reaffirmed Morocco's continued qualification for the PLL, Morocco's leading financial daily l'Economiste said. In July 2016, IMF approved the two-year PLL arrangement for Morocco to withstand external risks and support the country's program to rebuild fiscal and external buffers and promote higher and more inclusive growth. l'Economiste praised Morocco's solid macroeconomic performance in recent years, saying improving the business
(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...
(AFP (eng) 05/11/17)
A Moroccan court has sentenced a young Ferrari driver to two years in jail after he triggered a scandal by posting footage of himself apparently drunk at the wheel, local media said Wednesday. The 20-year-old caused a scandal in the North African country when footage of him apparently inebriated and insulting police officers in the capital Rabat went viral. First he is seen at a nightclub holding a bottle of champagne, and later at the wheel of his Italian sports car, still with the bottle, showing signs of intoxication. He then appears in front of his crashed car, mocking police officers, and finally sitting proudly
(Xinhuanet 05/11/17)
Morocco's police have arrested six people with suspected links to the Islamic State group, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. According to the statement, the suspects were plotting attacks in "strategic" sites in the kingdom. The preliminary investigations revealed that some of the arrested had contact with IS fighter in Syria and Iraq and had been learning how to manufacture explosives to carry out their terrorist plans, it added. The arrested people will be brought before court after the public prosecutor's office completes its investigation, the statement added. According to official figures, Morocco busted 19 terrorist cells and arrested 273 suspects in 2016, most of them linked to the IS group.
(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...
(AFP (eng) 05/09/17)
About 100 African migrants stormed over a high double fence between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla on Tuesday in a violent assault that left three police officers injured, officials said. Around 300 sub-Saharan African migrants attempted to force their way across the fence at about 7am (0500 GMT) in a coordinated operation, a Spanish police spokesman said. "Around 100 managed to enter Melilla," he told AFP. The barrier is composed of two six-metre-high (20-feet-high) fences, with criss-crossing steel cables in between. In order to get across, migrants often use hooks and shoes studded with nails. Three policemen were injured in clashes with the migrants, who kicked and threw rocks at the officers, Spain's interior ministry said in a...
(AFP (eng) 05/09/17)
Algeria and Morocco were the top winners on the opening day of the Islamic Solidarity Games football tournament in Baku on Monday. Four days prior to the official opening ceremony of the May 12-22 games, Algeria struck late to edge Turkey 2-1, while Morocco were too good for Saudi Arabia, winning 1-0. In other games, Palestine and Oman played out an entertaining 2-2 draw, while hosts Azerbaijan had to settle late on for a 0-0 draw against Cameroon. It took two late goals to help Algeria to edge fellow Group B favourites Turkey 2-1 in a thriller. Onur Eris' first half strike put Turkey ahead, but it was Farid El Melali who saved the day for the north Africans with...
(AFP (eng) 05/08/17)
The authorities in Morocco and Spain have dismantled a "terrorist cell" of three Islamic State group supporters, the interior ministry in Rabat said on Monday. It said one of the jihadist suspects was arrested in the northern Moroccan port of Tangier, and the other two were detained in Spain. The ministry said the three-man cell had been in "close contact" with IS in Iraq and Syria and was recruiting volunteers to join the jihadist ranks. Both Morocco and Spain have been spared in the wave of recent IS attacks that have targeted Paris, Brussels and Berlin, as Rabat and Madrid collaborate closely in the fight against extremism. However, Spain was hit in 2004 by the deadliest Islamist attack on European...
(Bloomberg 05/08/17)
Attijariwafa Bank, Morocco’s biggest lender, is planning to complete expansions in East and West Africa this year as it focuses on consolidating its new acquisitions to spur growth. The Casablanca-based bank aims to finalize a deal to buy Rwanda’s Cie Generale de Banque, known as Cogebanque, start commercial banking operations in Chad and apply for a banking license in Ghana in 2017, General Manager Ismail Douiri said in an interview in Cairo on Sunday. The lender has halted its plans to enter Nigeria and Algeria as it prioritizes the consolidation of its purchase of 100 percent of Barclays Plc’s Egypt, which was completed this month as part of plans to boost growth. Attijariwafa started its first wave of acquisitions in...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/08/17)
Morocco's Attijariwafa Bank (ATW.CS) paid twice book value to acquire Barclays' Egyptian business and hopes the acquisition will enable it to increase its market share in Egypt to 5 percent within five years, the Moroccan bank's CEO said. The bank plans to rename the unit Attijari Bank Egypt and raise its profile in Egypt, CEO Mohamed El Kettani said. Britain's Barclays (BARC.L) reached a deal last year to sell its Egyptian banking unit to Attijariwafa Bank, one of Morocco's largest banks, but the value of the deal, which closed this month, has not been disclosed by either side. Kettani, speaking to Reuters on Sunday, would not put an exact dollar figure on the acquisition but said it was twice Barclays...
(AFP (eng) 05/08/17)
Defending champions Morocco edged out Saudi Arabia 1-0 in their opening Group A clash at the Azal Arena, as the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games got underway in Baku on Monday. Morocco were by far the better side throughout and Zouheir El Moutaraji wasted a great opportunity early on, while Saudi keeper Habib Alwatyan made several second-half saves. But substitute Chouaib El Maftoul curled in a deserved winner with 14 minutes to play. It was the first action of the fourth edition of the Solidarity Games, with the only two previous winners of the football tournament going head-to-head. With the domestic league season still ongoing, the Moroccan outfit was mainly made up of amateur players from the lower divisions, but they...
(AFP (eng) 05/07/17)
Italian football has been hit by a second racist storm inside a week after Juventus defender Mehdi Benatia was insulted live on air during a live, post-match television interview with Italian state broadcaster Rai. Benatia, a Morocco international, was being interviewed following a 1-1 Serie A draw at home with city rivals Torino when it was cut embarrassingly short by what seemed like a studio technician's gaffe. As he was speaking to studio presenters about Juventus, Benatia heard a voice over his radio earpiece say: "What are you saying, shitty Moroccan?" Benatia, who had been answering a question about Juventus winning their sixth consecutive Serie A title, stopped mid-sentence and said: "Who said that? What stupid person is speaking?" Presenters...

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