Friday 20 April 2018
(AFP (eng) 11/07/17)
The maiden mission of a counterterrorism force that aims to tackle jihadist groups in the troubled Sahel experienced "logistical problems" but they are not "insurmountable", according to the military's first appraisal of the operation. The G5 Sahel force -- an initiative comprising Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger -- last week began its first operation, dubbed Hawbi, with French military support. "It's the first mission. We have lots of lessons to learn, but I don't think it is insurmountable," said Mahamadou Mounkaila, a Nigerien colonel, from a command post in the Niger capital, Niamey. Construction work is still underway, but the complex is already the strategic and logistical hub of the new multinational force. It has an unprecedented mandate...
(Reuters (Eng) 11/07/17)
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Ride-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc. [UBER.UL] is growing rapidly in sub-Saharan Africa and considering moves into more markets, despite sometimes violent opposition from metered taxi drivers, a senior executive said on Tuesday. Uber’s service has triggered protests by rivals from London to New Delhi as it up-ends traditional business models that require professional drivers to pay steep licensing fees to do business. “We are bullish on Africa. The growth here is still substantial and we think that given the right regulatory environment, the growth could be even better,” Justin Spratt, head of business development for the sub-Saharan region, told Reuters. “Africa’s growth thus far has been faster than America and a large part of that is...
(Reuters (Eng) 11/06/17)
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Africa’s mobile internet connections are set to double in the next five years, a study showed on Monday, thanks to affordable smartphones and the roll-out of high-speed networks. A report by research and consulting firm Ovum in London estimates that mobile broadband connections will rise from 419 million at the end of this year to 1.07 billion by the end of 2022. “Data connectivity is growing strongly in Africa, and there are also good prospects on the continent in areas such as digital media, mobile financial services, and the Internet of Things,” said Matthew Reed, Practice Leader Middle East and Africa at Ovum. “But as Africa’s TMT market becomes more convergent and complex, service providers are under...
(AFP (eng) 11/04/17)
In a cloud of ochre dust, a column of army pickup trucks slowly advances on a dirt road near Mali's border with Burkina Faso -- one of the world's hotspots for jihadism. The national flag of Mali flaps in the wind: an appropriate symbol for a brand-new force whose first task is to assure terrified locals that governance is returning to lawless lands. "We are here to secure the zone and to reassure people that they can live a normal life," Lieutenant Gaoussou Diara, who commands 100 Malian troops in the convoy, told AFP. "The track between Tessit and Kayrougouten (in central Mali) is a major route, used by traders and the population." The new force, called the G5 Sahel,...
(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) 11/02/17)
Six countries in central and western Africa have breathed life into long-running plans to allow visa-free movement of people among their nations. At a summit in the Chadian capital of N'Djamena, the countries formally declared late Tuesday that the scheme had now been ratified by all members. The agreement gathers six francophone states -- Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of Congo -- in a bloc called the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC). The association, set up in 2000, has a potential market of 30 million consumers, many of whom however, live in poverty.
(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...
(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...
(Reuters (Eng) 10/30/17)
N‘DJAMENA/LONDON (Reuters) - Chad is on a collision course with top creditor Glencore as it wants to divert oil from the Swiss trading house to U.S. energy company ExxonMobil from the new year amid a dispute over debt restructuring. A government document showed that Chad wants to hand over crude oil marketing rights currently held by Glencore under a $1.4 billion loan agreement to Exxon, the biggest oil producer in the Central African country. Three government and industry sources confirmed the details. Sources close to Glencore say they believe the contract does not allow such a change. Under pressure from the International Monetary Fund, Chad is renegotiating its hefty external commercial debt, namely to Glencore, which eats up nearly all...
(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...
(Reuters (Eng) 10/26/17)
N‘DJAMENA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Ginette Ngarbaye, 52, rises from her seat, leans forward and glares intensely at the ghost of her tormentor. “I gave him a long, deep look - like this,” she said, recalling how she came face to face with former Chad President Hissène Habré - the man responsible for the worst moments of her life. Aged 20, she was arrested by Habré’s soldiers, interrogated, tortured and raped – all while pregnant with her first child. Unable to get medical help, she gave birth on the cement floor of her cell, crowded with other women and crawling with insects. “I don’t even know what was used to cut the umbilical cord,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation,...
(AFP (eng) 10/26/17)
The Nigerian military on Wednesday said it was investigating reports that a recent bombing raid killed one of the wives of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau. Fighter jets attacked what was said to be "a large gathering of Boko Haram terrorists" at the Durwawa settlement, near Urga in the Konduga area of Borno state on October 19. The bombing killed jihadists on the ground and triggered a fire, air force spokesman Air Commodore Olatokunbo Adesanya said in an emailed statement. "Efforts are ongoing to confirm the reported killing of Shekau's wife, alongside other BHTs (Boko Haram terrorists)," he added.
(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) 10/25/17)
Ten people were killed in clashes at a gold mine in the Tibesti Mountains in northern Chad, pitting locals against outsiders in search of riches, a security source told AFP. The violence erupted early Tuesday when local residents told gold miners who had flocked to the central Sahara mountain region from other parts of Chad to leave, the source said on condition of anonymity. "A fight broke out and the outsiders killed three locals," he said. "The locals then ambushed the outsiders, who ended up leaving the area ... but seven gold miners were killed while the others got away." The discovery of gold in Tibesti in 2012-2013 drew miners from all over Chad, and also from neighbouring Sudan. But...
(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...

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