Wednesday 13 December 2017
(AFP (eng) 08/05/17)
Mauritanians began voting Saturday on several contentious changes to their constitution sought by President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz but opposed by a wide swathe of opposition lawmakers and civil society groups. Aziz is pushing to abolish the country's Senate and several other state bodies and to make a small alteration to the national flag, measures that have galvanised a boycott movement hoping to sap the vote's credibility by forcing a low turnout. Polling stations opened at 7:00 am (0700 GMT) and were due to close at 7:00 pm (1900 GMT) in the conservative west African nation, where violent clashes have broken out after the authorities banned several rallies planned by opponents of the changes. The president is due to vote...
(AFP (eng) 08/04/17)
The head of a boycott movement opposed to a constitutional referendum in Mauritania accused the country's rulers on Friday of planning "massive fraud" on the eve of the vote, and warned of violence. Saturday's referendum follows a tense campaign punctuated by massive protests that have been at times violently put down by the security forces. Jemil Ould Mansour, head of the Islamic Tewassoul party spearheading the movement against the vote, said President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz and his supporters had fixed "the electoral roll and voting materials to prepare fraud on a massive scale." "Those in power are pushing people to violence by not allowing any kind of protest not in line with their own views," Mansour told reporters. The...
(AFP (eng) 08/04/17)
Police and opposition activists clashed Thursday in Mauritania's capital on the final day of campaigning for a controversial constitutional referendum. The authorities refused to give the green light for protests opposing the constitutional changes in Nouakchott and three regions of the west African country, leading to what activists said was "excessive" use of tear gas in an area to the west of the capital. A coalition drawn from a broad political spectrum including Islamists and anti-slavery activists in the conservative west African nation opposes measures including abolishing the senate and changing the national flag, and some are boycotting Saturday's vote. Saleh Ould Henenna, a spokesman for the protesters, said "we have to inform the authorities of our activities but we...
(AFP (eng) 08/03/17)
The sole Mauritanian political party urging citizens to vote "No" in a controversial referendum on abolishing the Senate complained Wednesday their ability to campaign had been severely restricted. The National Democratic Convergence (CDN) is alone in campaigning for a "No" vote as other opposition parties are either calling for a total boycott of the referendum on Saturday, or joining the ruling party of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz in calling for a "Yes". "Campaigning is difficult and unequal in terms of time allocated for broadcasting...
(Xinhuanet 08/03/17)
Trade between China and Africa reached 85.3 billion U.S. dollars in H1, surging 19 percent year on year as the two sides strengthened cooperation in a wide range of areas, official data showed Thursday. The data reversed the negative growth trend since 2015, according to Gao Feng, spokesperson with the Ministry of Commerce. During January-June, Chinese imports from Africa, including minerals, agricultural products and fruits, amounted to 38.4 billion U.S. dollars, jumping 46 percent from the same period last year, while exports gained 3 percent to 47 billion U.S. dollars. Transport equipment has become a bright spot in China's exports to African countries, with that of ships, trains and aerospace equipment up 200 percent, 161 percent and 252 percent respectively,...
(AFP (eng) 08/02/17)
French and German support for a regional Sahel force to battle jihadists will persuade other European nations of the benefits of backing the counter-terror measure, Germany's defence minister said Tuesday. Ursula von der Leyen spoke to journalists in Bamako after talks with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, arriving six days after a helicopter crash in the country's north killed two German crew who were monitoring clashes for the United Nations mission to Mali. Von der Leyen said the discussion had centred on the autumn deployment of the force from the so-called "G5 Sahel" countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger)
(Bloomberg 08/02/17)
Julien Ochala can’t live without his morning cup of Joe. But not just any coffee will do. For the past five years, the 37-year-old physiology lecturer at King’s College London has visited the same store every week to grab a pack of his beloved Kenyan brew. And he’s not put off by the cost: at 37 pounds a kilogram ($22 a pound), it’s more than double a similar supermarket product. "I take Kenyan coffee every morning," said Ochala, who buys his beans from Monmouth Coffee Company in Borough Market. "I love it because of the relatively higher acidity level. It keeps me active in the afternoons." Customers willing to pay a premium for African brews, known for their floral, fruity...
(Reuters (Eng) 08/01/17)
Germany on Monday lent support to France's push to make operational a new multinational military force that will tackle Islamist militants in Africa's Sahel region and urged other powers to contribute funds at an Autumn donor conference. On a joint visit to Niger's capital, Niamey, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and her French counterpart, Florence Parly, said the Sahel force was West Africa's best hope for defeating the militants. Some observers see the G5 Sahel force — comprised of troops from Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad
(Bloomberg 08/01/17)
British American Tobacco Plc faces a formal probe by the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office following reports that the maker of Dunhill cigarettes bribed African government officials to influence tobacco legislation. BAT said Tuesday it is running its own investigations, via external legal advisers, into allegations of misconduct and is cooperating with the U.K. prosecutor. A BBC report two years ago said BAT had a lobbyist arrange bribes totaling $26,000 for three public officials in Rwanda, Burundi and the Comoros Islands in 2015. The British broadcaster said the bribery was revealed by a former employee, Paul Hopkins. At the time, BAT said “we do not tolerate corruption in our business, no matter where it takes place.” The SFO investigation adds to...
(Le Calame 07/29/17)
Le coup d’envoi de la campagne en vue du referendum du 5 Août a été donné vendredi dernier, à 0h. Partisans et adversaires du scrutin contesté rivalisent d’arguments. Les premiers plaident en faveur d’un « oui massif » aux amendements constitutionnels préconisés par le dernier dialogue politique, entre une partie de l’opposition et la majorité présidentielle, les seconds pour « faire échec » au projet gouvernemental de modifier la Constitution sans passer par les règles promulguées par Celle-ci. Sur le terrain, les uns et les autres usent de moyens disproportionnés. Le gouvernement, qui n’entend, évidemment pas, perdre son pari de faire triompher le oui, a décidé de mobiliser l’administration et tous ses moyens, media public en tête, alors que le...
(Reuters (Eng) 07/28/17)
Barclays reported a 1.2 billion pound ($1.57 billion)attributable first half loss on Friday after taking a 2.5 billion pound hit from the sale of its Africa business and calling an end to its restructuring. The British bank said it had made a 1.4 billion pound loss on the sale of 33 percent of Barclays Africa Group, and took a further 1.1 billion pound impairment charge on the sale. Barclays in June cut its stake in Barclays Africa Group to 15 percent, ending more than 90 years as a major presence in the continent as it shifts its focus back to Britain and the United States. The losses from the sale of unwanted assets including the Africa business showed the costs...
(AfricaNews 07/27/17)
At a time when Africa is going through a difficult situation, the blue economy is emerging as a stepping stone to relaunch the continent in the right economic direction. But this type of economy is seriously threatened by “predators” who do not hesitate to plunder resources. The “cancer of illegal fishing” costs Africa about $ 1.6 million annually based on Economic Commission for Africa’s estimates. This and more on this week’s edition segment on Business on the Morning Call with Jean David Mihamle.
(Voice of America 07/25/17)
European and African ministers are meeting in Tunisia about efforts to regulate the flow of refugees from Africa to Europe, primarily along the deadly central Mediterranean route originating in Libya. In a declaration Monday in Tunis, the capital, the ministers said they agreed on a multi-pronged approach to the crisis, including informing people about the risks of illegal migration and the possibility of voluntarily returning home, addressing why migrants leave home and beefing up actions against human traffickers. Participating in the meetings were interior ministers from Algeria, Austria, Chad, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Libya, Mali, Malta, Niger, Slovenia, Switzerland, Tunisia and Estonia, which currently holds the EU Council presidency. Through the first half of 2017, nearly 84,000 migrants arrived in...
(AFP (eng) 07/24/17)
Senior politicians in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Saturday called for measures to cut the birth rate in the region in order to bring the population explosion there under control. Deputies of ECOWAS, Mauritania and Chad should be aiming to cut back the birth rate to three children per woman, said Salifou Diallo, Burkina Faso's speaker of parliament. The idea, he said, was to cut the birth rate in half by 2030, in a region that has the highest fertility rates in the world. He called for countries to adopt measures including universal access to family planning, improved education for women and better health care of children, to bring about "a rapid, voluntary decline" in the...
(AFP (eng) 07/21/17)
Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz launched campaigning Friday for a constitutional referendum boycotted by opposition figures who call the vote a smokescreen to keep the ruling party in power. The boycott movement draws broad political support from Islamists and anti-slavery activists in the conservative west African nation, all of whom oppose measures including abolishing the senate and changing the national flag. "Your presence in such great numbers sends a message to those who don't want the country to move forward," Aziz told large crowds in a stadium close to the capital, Nouakchott, according to an AFP journalist at the scene. Aziz said he would travel the length and breadth of the country to "respond to the lies and hoaxes"...
(AFP (eng) 07/21/17)
The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will expand from 16 to 24 teams and be staged in June and July, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced on Thursday. The tournament has traditionally been held in January and February, with the timing of the tournament a source of frustration to European clubs forced to release players in the middle of the season. The CAF executive committee confirmed the changes to the format following a two-day symposium in Rabat, although the tournament will continue to be held every two years and exclusively on African soil. The decision to increase the number of teams mirrors a similar one taken by UEFA to expand the European Championship, with 24 nations taking part at...
(Reuters (Eng) 07/20/17)
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Africa's major central banks are entering an easing cycle as they try to stimulate growth after months of drought, austerity drives and confidence issues across the continent, a Reuters poll found on Thursday. Much of southern and eastern Africa is still recovering after an El Niño-related drought wilted crops last year. Poor business confidence in South Africa and foreign exchange restrictions in Nigeria have also hampered growth. "We expect that African monetary policy is entering a widespread and protracted period of policy easing. This will provide a boost to growth," said John Ashbourne, Africa analyst at Capital Economics. Ghana, which agreed a three-year fiscal discipline deal with the International Monetary Fund in exchange for aid in 2015,...
(Bloomberg 07/19/17)
Vodacom Group Ltd. sees the expansion of mobile-banking services into new markets in sub-Saharan Africa as a top priority following a shareholder vote to rubber stamp its purchase of a 35 percent stake in Safaricom Ltd., Kenya’s biggest company. “We will use Safaricom to enter other markets where neither Vodacom nor Safaricom are,” Chief Executive Officer Shameel Joosub said in an interview at the wireless carrier’s annual general meeting in Johannesburg on Tuesday. The two businesses have a combined 30 million mobile-banking customers, giving them “a very sizeable platform on the continent,” he said. Vodacom’s purchase of the Safaricom stake from U.K. parent company Vodafone Group Plc gives the South African company access to the fast-growing M-Pesa platform, which processed...
(Voice of America 07/18/17)
Foreign fishing vessels, many from China, prowl the waters off West Africa every day. They capture millions of fish — catches that used to go to local boats. The fish are then shipped to China, Europe and the United States, satisfying a global demand for seafood and fueling a multibillion-dollar industry. Foreign trawlers from Asia and Europe have cost West Africa's economy 300,000 jobs and $2 billion in income, according to John Hocevar, a marine biologist with Greenpeace. However, what to do about the problem — and possible damage to regional fish populations — has eluded experts and officials. Chinese presence Exact numbers are difficult to come
(Reuters (Eng) 07/18/17)
Three years after he risked his life crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Italy on a small boat crammed with migrants, 22-year-old Sow Muhammed can hardly believe his luck. The former street hawker from Guinea now works as a caterer in Venice, rents his own apartment, and sends money back home regularly to his mother and siblings in the West African nation. "I am happy I came to Europe, and my family is also happy," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation as he packed up leftovers at a training event for people who work with refugees, where he had served a menu which included traditional African dishes. "I talk to my family frequently, ask them their needs, and help...

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