Friday 15 December 2017
(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...
(Agence Ecofin 10/31/17)
Having become an Associated State last August, Mauritania now, after 17 years of absence, wishes to become a full ECOWAS member. The first session of the ECOWAS-Mauritania integration council was thus held last October 27. Present at the session were Robert Dussey, the Togolese minister of foreign affairs who is also the actual president of ECOWAS ministers’ council, Naha Mint Hamdi Ould Mouknass, Mauritania’s minister of trade, industry and tourism, Isselkou Ahmed Izid Bih, head of the Mauritanian diplomacy and Marcel de Souza, president of the ECOWAS Commission. The session was mainly held to discuss what is needed for the effective implementation of the association agreement. Even prior to the latter’s ratification, a particular accent was put on the implementation,...
(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) 10/26/17)
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)
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...
(AFP (eng) 10/23/17)
An appeal by Sahel region countries for help in their battle against jihadist violence received a boost Sunday when a visiting UN Security Council ambassador pledged support. "I can assure you Burkina Faso and the G5 Sahel Countries will get the support they need," said Ethiopian ambassador Tekeda Alemu, who co-presided with his French and Italian colleagues in the 15-strong UN delegation ending a five-day visit to the region. The trip came on the initiative of France, which is presiding over the UN Security Council this month.
(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)
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...
(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) 10/19/17)
The new UN envoy for disputed Western Sahara, Horst Koehler, met leaders of an Algerian-backed independence movement Wednesday after visiting Morocco in a bid to get stalled peace talks back on track. Koehler, a former German president tasked by the United Nations in August with mediating the decades-old dispute, sat down with leaders from the pro-independence Polisario Front as he made his first trip to the refugee camps in Algeria where they are based. The meeting is part of a fresh push by the United Nations to try to resolve one of Africa's longest-running territorial disputes, which saw the Polisario Front wage a bitter 16-year insurgency against Moroccan control. A UN-brokered ceasefire in 1991 halted the fighting, but Morocco insists...
(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...
(AFP (eng) 10/17/17)
Though its motto is "one Africa, one voice", the reality of "Africa's parliament" could not be more different. Since its creation in 2004, the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) has struggled to make its voice heard, prompting its deputies to ask themselves at a recent gathering: "What are we for?" "Every time we're here, we obsess over the same things. If we are not making laws, then what's the point of being here?" Corneille Padonou of Benin said to his fellow parliamentarians. "This forum is not a parliament, it is just a discussion platform that does not have any legislative powers. This institution is still wobbly," said Floyd Shivambu, a parliamentarian from South Africa. "As it is, it is a waste of...
(APA 10/16/17)
APA-Dakar (Senegal) - The president of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, will deliver the Norman Borlaug Lecture on Monday 16 October as part of the World Food Prize events taking place from October 16 to 20, 2017 in Des Moines, Iowa, USA. The Norman Borlaug Lecture under the title: “Betting on Africa to Feed the World”, will be held on World Food Day, October 16, in conjunction with the annual World Food Prize celebration. AfDB President Adesina will receive the 2017 World Food Prize on Thursday October 19, announced a press release issued by the AfDB on October 16, which also said “the prize is to agriculture what the Nobel Prize is to peace, science and literature.” The World...
(APA 10/12/17)
APA - Nouakchott (Mauritania) - The Mauritanian government has said it is backing the unity of Spain in view of ongoing moves by the Catalan leadership to break away from the rest of the country. The Foreign Affairs and Cooperation ministry issued a statement on Wednesday, stating Nouakchott’s position on the issue, affirming its unconditional support for the indivisibility of Spain. Mauritania described Spain as a friendly country with which, it maintains, in addition to centuries-old relations, exemplary multidimensional cooperation. The ministry said it remains convinced that the successful democratic model in Spain will enable the country to overcome the ongoing crisis, while respecting the rule of law.
(AFP (eng) 10/10/17)
Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is set to accelerate to 3.4 percent next year, the International Monetary Fund said Tuesday, citing Nigeria's recovering oil and agricultural sectors. The IMF said in its latest World Economic Outlook report that the region would grow by 2.6 percent this year after 1.4 percent in 2016. "Growth is expected to rise gradually," it said, while noting that the rate would be uneven and "barely above population growth". GDP in the west African powerhouse Nigeria contracted by 1.6 percent in 2016, but is predicted to grow by 0.8 percent this year and 1.9 percent next year. The IMF said Nigeria was benefitting from "recovering oil production and ongoing strength in the agricultural sector", but the...
(APA 10/09/17)
APA - Nouakchott (Mauritania) - The 31st summit of the African Union will take place next July in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott, the country’s Economy and Finance minister, Moctar Ould Diay has confirmed. The announcement was made by the Minister as he defended the finance law rectifying the 2017 state budget, during a plenary of the National Assembly on Saturday evening. It is the first time Mauritania has been chosen to host the AU summit. Last year the country hosted an Arab League summit. Rwandan leader, Paul Kagame is tipped to succeed Alpha Conde as the next chairman of the AU in January. The AU has witnessed several major reforms, including the imposition of a 0.2-percent tax on the import...
(AFP (eng) 10/05/17)
It is hardly the most inviting place to call home -- a sprawling tent city in a sea of reddish sand in southeastern Mauritania. But for the Malians who eke out a life here, the harsh Saharan desert is a haven compared to the violence and chaos back home. Tens of thousands have fled towns and villages in northern Mali to the safety of Mbera camp, 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the border. And for many of them, the craving to go back is offset by the wretched fate of those who have done so. Mohamed Ousmane Ag al-Khalifa arrived in the camp in 2012, fleeing Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist groups that seized key towns in northern Mali, exploiting an uprising by...

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