MonitorsPublished on Jun 12, 2017
Africa Monitor | Volume VI; Issue XXXVIII

The Continent

UN Africa Forum launches migration panel to help create political momentum for change

Amid growing concern for the safety of migrants, particularly in Africa, as they undertake extreme risks in the hopes of a better future or to escape violence and persecution, a high-level body established by the United Nations development arm in the continent has launched a process to help forge political consensus to address challenges and save lives. Furthermore, border control measures and stringent policies also prevent Africa from realizing the benefits of migration, underscored Abdalla Hamdok, the Acting Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) at the launch of the High Level Panel on Migration in Africa. "Travel in Africa by Africans is curtailed by stringent visa requirements, excessive border controls and immigration restrictions," said Mr. Hamdok, noting that it not only increased costs, but multiplied the risks that migrants are forced to undertake. "Data shows that less than three per cent of Africa's population have migrated internationally and less than 12 per cent of the total migrant in Europe are from Africa," he added. On top of this, the issue of safe migration for the continent given that every year, thousands of migrants perish while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach mainland Europe. "Just last week, some forty young men and women died of thirst in the Sahara Desert, while trying to reach Europe," said President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who also chairs the High-Level Panel. Maureen Achieng from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) also shared this view. "Migration from Africa towards other regions is taking place in a much lower level than one might think," she said. The 14-member High-Level Panel was established in April last year by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) to push migration issues to the top of policy agenda by engaging major stakeholders and partners. Over the next few months, it will hold consultations at the national, regional and global levels and propose recommendations on building and sustaining broad political consensus on the implementation of the international migration development agenda, while taking into account the particular challenges of countries in conflict and post-conflict situations. The report will be submitted to the African Union Summit in July 2018. Source: UN News Service

Ethiopian Airlines wins Africa's best airline, again

Ethiopian Airlines has been named the 'African Airline of the Year' for the second time in a row. The Addis Ababa flag carrier was awarded during 26th Annual Air Finance Africa Conference & Exhibition held in Johannesburg, South Africa. The award--presented by the African Aviation--recognised the airlines' continued rapid growth, increased profitability and contribution to aviation development in Africa. "We are pleased to win the award for the second time in a row; a testimony of our commitment to serve our beloved continent Africa," Meseret Bitew, the airline's acting chief finance officer said. "We shall continue to play vital roles in connecting African countries with their major trading partners around the world and realise an economically liberal Africa," he added. Despite a turbulent year for airlines in Africa, the Ethiopian carrier expanded its route network, modernised its fleet, inaugurated three new aircraft maintenance hangars and introduced a world-class in-flight catering facility. "In addition, Ethiopian Airlines has achieved a record financial turnover and profitability in spite of various industry challenges. Currently, the airline is well on track to exceed the goals of its Vision 2025 Strategy," said Nick Fadugba, the African Aviation CEO, when announcing the award. Ethiopian Airlines reported a 70 per cent jump in full year 2016 net profit to $265 million boosted by an 18 per cent increase in passenger number over the period. Source: The East African

Central Africa

Angolan diplomats call for ‘reality’ approach to diaspora

Angolan ambassadors to some countries have stressed the need to bring together the communities abroad in order to convey the concrete reality of the country and avoid misinformation about the national reality. The heads of diplomatic missions spoke to the press at the end of a meeting in Luanda with the plenipotentiary ambassadors and consuls of Republic of Angola. meant to convey to the Angolan diplomats the "government communication strategy 2017". Angolan ambassador to the United States, Agostinho Tavares, said that the image of the country should be well transmitted to counter circles interested in distorting the country's reality. He said that although Angola emerged from destructive wars there is a positive image due to improved communication and exchange of information with citizens and communities. The country is well-known for its positive role in conflict resolution in Africa and has increased its interest in cooperating with Angola in several areas, particularly security and non-oil areas. In his turn, the ambassador to Brazil, Nelson Cosme, said it was vital that diplomacy transmits a better proactive perception of the country in the national interest, stressing the importance of carrying a message of hope on the country under construction. Whereas, the ambassador to Portugal, Marcos Barrica, valued a closer approach to the Angolan community, estimated at 60,000 citizens, and the press for the exchange of information about the country's reality. According to him, misrepresentation of information on social media is almost inevitable, especially in societies such as Portugal, where this mean is available to all. In prompt reaction and clarification, the diplomat spoke of the need to be emphatic in countering information on the issues related to the State and asked those targeted to react in a timely manner on the information that undermine their good name, adding that otherwise the embassy will interfere in personal matters. Marcos Barrica believes that distorted information, sometimes even hideous, apocalyptic and harsh society, can hinder the foreign investments. He recommends that Angolans always maintain a positive attitude, contrary to the negative image that many boys, youngsters and even adults disseminate at home and abroad. Still, Josefina Diakité, the ambassador to South Africa, with about 22,000 national citizens registered, defends restoring the truth by the same channels from where the negative information is disseminated. Angola remains a good market, but engagement and a speedy response are needed to restore the truth, the diplomat stressed. Source: Angola Press

CAR tops list of 'world's most neglected' crises

The conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) is the world's most neglected displacement crisis, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council. Unveiling its annual index, the aid agency said on June 1 that the world pays the least attention to humanitarian crises when they force Africans from their homes, dashing hopes of peace and raising the risk of escalated conflict. In the NRC's list of the world's 10 most neglected displacement crises, CAR was followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen, Palestine, Ukraine, Myanmar and Somalia. "The fact that most of these people do not turn up at our doorsteps gives us no right to close our eyes to their suffering, and does not remove our responsibility to assist," Jan Egeland, the NRC's secretary general, said in a statement. The NRC analysed all countries worldwide in which more than 100,000 people are displaced. The countries topping the list are characterised by insufficient economic support to meet the most basic humanitarian needs, limited media attention and lack of political will to solve the crises. "The international community has not only forgotten these crises, but has never really shown sufficient willingness to contribute to a solution," Egeland said. "Economic support to alleviate humanitarian crises must be given based on needs, and not be subject to geopolitical interests." Chronic conflict involving militias in countries such as CAR and the DRC could drive more and more people into armed groups, said Richard Skretteberg, a senior NRC adviser. In 2016, the United Nations only received 38 per cent of the money it needed to distribute humanitarian aid in CAR. Almost half of the population faces food insecurity, eating only one meal per day, according to the NRC report, while only 35 per cent of people in CAR have access to clean water. "When you combine limited state presence in much of these countries, mass displacement, and a lack of protection and aid for civilians, this creates a fertile breeding ground for radicalisation," Skretteberg told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "Rebuilding and working towards peace are difficult when so many people are displaced," he added. One in five Central Africans - about one million people - is displaced, and at least 100,000 were newly uprooted last month in some of the worst violence between the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels and Christian militias since conflict began in 2013. Spreading ethnic violence in the DRC has also forced more than 1.5 million people to flee their homes within the country this year - more than triple the number uprooted within Syria and five times the number within Iraq, according to the NRC. The UN has received just one-fifth of the $812.5m sought in the humanitarian appeal for DRC this year, and 25 percent of the $400m requested for Central African Republic, the UN's Financial Tracking Service shows. Africa's arid Sahel belt, which stretches from Senegal to Eritrea and lies south of the Sahara desert, topped the NRC's index last year, followed by Yemen and Libya. Source: Al Jazeera (Doha)

EU dismisses Burundi accusations of destabilising Govt

The European Union denies Burundi accusations that it is involved in the destabilization of government institutions. In the statement by the Delegation of the European Union to Burundi on 7 June, the EU denies the "false" accusations of its involvement in the destabilization of Burundi security. "The accusations are based on a deliberately wrong interpretation of a program to support human rights defenders", reads the EU declaration. "The EU foreign policy is based on the promotion of human rights and protection of their defenders throughout the world", says the declaration, which also indicates that the lasting solution to the crisis in Burundi has to take into consideration the value of human rights. "Any lasting resolution of the crisis in Burundi must take into account the ongoing and past human rights violations as well as the protection of the persons and organizations working in this regard", reads the declaration. The EU reminds that it's a long-standing partner of Burundi and its people and that it supports the mediation efforts of the East African Community and continues its development cooperation in direct support to the Burundian population. The EU declaration comes as a reaction to the Burundian government announcement issued on 5th June in which it accuses the EU of its probable involvement in the destabilization of Burundi institutions. Source: Iwacu

North Africa

Authorities stifle women's protest in Morocco

Moroccan authorities stifled a women's protest in the coastal city of Al-Hoceima, campaigning for access to jobs, health services and infrastructure in the northern Rif region. Police encircled hundreds of female protesters in a public park late on June 3, impeding others from joining, as the women chanted "freedom, dignity and social justice," Reuters news agency reported. Female police officers and riot police pushed the leader of the protest Nawal Ben Aissa - a prominent member of Hirak - away from the group. She was accompanied at the protest by the mother of Nasser Zefzafi - the 39-year-old leader of the protest movement who was arrested last week for "undermining the security of the state" and other criminal acts. "We go to sleep in fear, and we wake up in fear," Fatima Alghloubzari, who tried to join the protest, told Reuters. "We never imagined our city would become like this." One woman fainted after police suppressed the protest. A heavy security presence has been in place around the city's Sidi Abed square. According to organisers, police have been increasingly preventing people from joining protests and blocking access since Zefzafi's arrest. "Women in northern Morocco were usually confined to their homes. They never participated in politics even if they were educated," Mohamed Chtatou, a political analyst told Al Jazeera. "But now women are leading protests which is significant."

Six countries cut diplomatic ties with Qatar

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Maldives cut diplomatic ties on June 5 with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Qatar's Foreign Affairs Ministry said the measures are "unjustified and are based on baseless and unfounded allegations." The countries said they would withdraw their diplomatic staff from gas-rich Qatar and cut air and sea traffic to the country. Qatar Airways announced a suspension of flights to Saudi Arabia. Egypt gave the Qatari ambassador 48 hours to leave Cairo, while the Persian Gulf states gave Qatari citizens 14 days to leave their countries.  Saudi Arabia, which leads a coalition of nations fighting in support of Yemen's government, also said Qatar's forces would be withdrawn from that fight. The Saudi state-owned SPA news agency said Qatar "embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at disturbing stability in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, and al-Qaida, and promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly." "Qatar has been exposed to an instigation campaign based on allegations that amounted to absolute fabrications, which proves that there are premeditated intentions to cause damage to the state," Qatar's Foreign Ministry said. It further accused the nations involved of seeking to impose "guardianship" over Qatar.

US offers help to address tensions

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he does not expect June 5’s actions to have an impact on the fight against terrorism in the region or globally. He urged all of the parties to address their disagreements. "I think what we're witnessing is a growing list of some irritants in the region that have been there for some time," Tillerson said, "and obviously they have now bubbled up to a level that countries decided they needed to take action in an effort to have those differences addressed." Tillerson said that if there's any role the U.S. can play "in terms of helping them address those" issues, "we think it is important" that the Gulf Cooperation Council "remain unified." Dana Shell Smith, the U.S. ambassador to Qatar, also shared messages on Twitter that she and her embassy's account originally wrote in October 2016 expressing U.S. support for Qatari efforts to combat terrorist financing. The U.S. military's Central Command maintains a presence at the al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar. Hints of the June 5 six-nation split with Doha emerged last month when Qatar contended that hackers were behind the release of false remarks attributed to Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the Qatari leader, that were published on the Qatar News Agency website. The reports quoted him questioning U.S. hostility towards Iran, claiming "tensions" between Qatar and the United States and suggesting President Donald Trump might not remain in power for long. Qatar said it had been the victim of a "shameful cybercrime." Despite Doha's official denial, media outlets in several Gulf countries reported the emir's comments as fact. Source: Voice of America

Southern Africa

Mugabe, 93, kicks off 'Youth Rallies' ahead of elections

Zimbabwe's ageing president Robert Mugabe will on June 2 kick off a nationwide series of rallies to drum up support from youths ahead of elections next year. But there has been fierce criticism of the 93-year-old's plans from some war veterans who are his traditional supporters. Here's what you need to know. This is a series of rallies that will take place between now and October. They're going to be held in all of the country's 10 provinces. The first is set for June 2 in a soccer stadium in Marondera, a small town east of Harare. Two hundred buses and trucks have been laid on to bring supporters to the venue. Youths, women and war veterans are understood to have been invited. There is likely to be a big turnout. Remember it was the youth wing that organised a "million-man march" in support of Mugabe in Harare just over a year ago. They may not have got a million people there, but they did get tens of thousands.

Zimbabwe to sell wildlife to DRC, Gambia

The government is set to export wildlife to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gambia, the Environment Minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has said. Muchinguri told The Source that the two countries recently sent special envoys to President Robert Mugabe to forward their requests to purchase Zimbabwe's wildlife. "We have received orders to purchase wild animals from DRC and Gambia. Most former French countries lost a substantial number of wildlife due to poaching and we will work with these countries so that we all benefit," said Muchinguri-Kashiri. She did not say which species will be sold. In January this year, the Parks and Wildlife Authority of Zimbabwe announced that it had sold 35 elephants to China on December 23 last year to ease overpopulation and raise funds for conservation, sparking an outcry from environmental activists. Muchinguri- Kashiri said selling wildlife is a government policy. "We don't sell our wildlife because there is drought, it's a government policy that when we receive a request from a friendly country, we sell or donate to these countries as sustainable effort to build capacities of communities and organizations where these animals are found. "We may accelerate in drought situations where possible," she said. Zimbabwe is home to some the world's largest population of wildlife species such as lions, elephants, giraffe, buffalo, leopards, kudu and rhino. Source:

Johannesburg University climbs up in world rankings

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) has advanced to the top 2.3% of universities globally, according to a world university ranking released on June 8. UJ was among the top 650 global institutions for 2017/2018, according to the latest Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings. The institution's high overall score was achieved, in part, by its improvement in employer reputation, its increased complement of international staff and students, UJ said in a statement. The QS World University Rankings are based on six performance indicators, related to global reputation, research output and quality, internationalisation, and teaching and learning. The 12-year-old UJ was the youngest of all ranked universities in South Africa and had moved into fifth position nationally. It is the only one of these top five universities in South Africa that achieved the distinction without the benefit of a medical school. "UJ outperformed the South African average for participating universities in four of the six indicators, namely: employer reputation, staff-to-student ratio, international staff and international students." The university said the scores for international students and employer reputation showed the highest improvement for UJ between 2016 to 2017. For more information on the QS World University Rankings, visit Top Universities . Source: news24WIRE

East Africa

South Korea vessel hijacked off of Somalia

A South Korean Defence Ministry official says a South Korean fishing vessel has apparently been hijacked in the waters off of Somalia. The official told the French News Agency, “The boat sent a message that she was being approached by some unidentified vessels” and then contact with the boat was lost. South Korea’s anti-piracy unit was in nearby waters and was dispatched to respond to the emergency call. The fishing ship’s crew included South Koreans and foreigners, the Defense Ministry official said. A resurgence of piracy has occurred recently in the waters off of Somalia after years of inactivity. At the peak of the piracy crisis in 2011, dozens of boats were hijacked and hundreds of hostages were taken. Source: Voice of America       

Ethiopia: Govt shuts down mobile internet

Ethiopia's government offered no explanation for the national mobile internet shutdown, AFP reports. "Mobile data has been deactivated," deputy communications minister Zadig Abrha is reported as telling AFP. Abrha reportedly refused to elaborate, as the country enters its ninth month in a state of emergency. The Internet was last shut down in October 2016, and a recent report shows that more African countries are using these shutdowns as a way to crack down on protesters. Source: allafrica

Ugandan government needs Shs28.8 trillion for refugees

The government of Uganda is looking for over Shs28.8 trillion to support refugees and host communities for the next four years, Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda has said. Mr Rugunda was on Thursday briefing Parliament on the forthcoming two-day Uganda Solidarity Summit on Refugees, to be held on June 22-23, 2017 in Kampala. "It is critical that refugees and host communities are provided with an environment in which they co-exist in safety and in dignity," he said. He said the money is needed next the four years, with an annual target of USD2 billion (Ush7.2 trillion) starting this year. The money, Dr Rugunda said, would be raised through national strategic undertakings and foreign humanitarian support towards the high refugee influx in the country. "With the pressure of the increasing numbers Uganda is currently hosting, we call upon the international community to endeavor to match our efforts towards people who have lost the protection of their own countries," said Rugunda. Uganda today ranks among the topmost refugee host countries in the World, with a total of 1,200,000 refugees as of May 30, 2017, up from 500,000 refugees in 2016. Just last week, Parliament approved a loan request by government to borrow USD 50 million (UShs180 billion) from the International Development Association of the World Bank group to support the response to displacement impact project in the Horn of Africa. This approval, Dr Rugunda said, was an important milestone in improving the livelihood of the refugees and their respective host communities. Despite the rising influx, government has vowed to maintain an open border policy so as to allow entry of fleeing populations elsewhere. In a cabinet statement to Parliament, a copy of which has been obtained by this reporter, the open border policy is meant to provide refugees with land, skills, education and a chance to work. "We have to keep our borders open to our brothers and sisters who are forced to flee their homes and countries due to war, starvation, violence and persecution," reads part of the Statement. "We maintain this approach because we know no one chooses to become a refugee," adds the statement, authored by Dr Rugunda. The Uganda Solidarity Summit on Refugees, which is a few weeks away is expected to bring together heads of government, heads of UN Agencies as well as other regional and international organisations, foundations and humanitarian agencies. The summit will generate efforts towards meeting the needs of refugees and host communities through raising awareness and mobilising additional resources for Uganda to adequately address humanitarian needs. While in a London Conference on Somalia last week President Museveni and Mr Antonio Guteress, the UN Secretary General held discussions about the summit. Source: The Monitor

Tanzanian headway made in plan to build U.S. $ 30 billion LNG plant

A proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Tanzania is moving forward, bringing with it the potential for major economic gains, though it still faces a long construction timeline and regional competition. In mid-April the government submitted a draft agreement to the Ministry of Energy and Minerals to build a $30 billion LNG plant and export terminal in Lindi on the south-eastern coast. Earlier ministry recommendations suggest the facility will have two trains, each with a capacity of 5m tonnes per annul. Prepared with help from six major oil firms looking to take part in the project - Shell, ExxonMobil, Norway's Statoil, Singapore's Pavilion Energy, the UK's BG Group and London-based Ophir Energy - the draft is a big step towards reaching a "host government agreement" setting out foreign investor obligations and the role of the state oil firm, Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC). Talks have been ongoing since September last year, and authorities expect to reach a final agreement with the oil companies by the end of 2018.

Al-Shabab attack Puntland army base, over 70 killed

Heavily armed al-Shabab fighters have stormed a military base in Somalia's semiautonomous state of Puntland, killing close to 70 people and wounding dozens more, officials say. The attack began with a blast at the remote Af-Urur camp, about 100km west of the commercial hub of Bossaso, before the fighters overran the base and killed soldiers at close range, said Ahmed Mohamed, a senior military official. Close to 70 people were killed, though an exact death toll was not yet available, Mohamed said. Abdi Hersi Ali, Puntland's interior minister, said troops suffered casualties but he declined to give further details. Officials called it the region's deadliest attack in years, highlighting the dual challenges facing security forces from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab and the growing presence of fighters linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group. "The situation is grim over there. This attack was an unexpected one," Mohamed said. The armed fighters, including suicide bombers, reportedly attacked the base from three directions, forcing soldiers to retreat. Colonel Hashi Ahmed, a senior military official, told the Associated Press news agency that reinforcement troops reached the area and drove the fighters out of the camp. He estimated that at least 100 fighters were involved in the attack. Al-Shabab claimed to have killed at least 61 soldiers. They also seized a large amount of weapons and ammunition and more than a dozen military vehicles in the assault. Puntland in northern Somalia also faces a growing threat from ISIL-linked fighters who have split from al-Shabab. The assault came days after Puntland sentenced to death five al-Shabab members who were arrested as they drove a vehicle carrying three barrels packed with explosives into Bosaso, Puntland's capital, on April 26. Al-Shabab, which is fighting to overthrow the internationally recognised Somali government, has launched a series of deadly incursions in neighbouring Kenya, which has contributed troops to the Somalia-based African Union peacekeeping force. Source: Al Jazeera (Doha)

West Africa

44 Nigerian, Ghanaian migrants die in Sahara desert

More than 40 migrants from Nigeria and Ghana have died in the Sahara Desert after their truck broke down in arid northern Niger. The Red Cross said the migrants, most of whom have not been identified, died this week. According to Reuters, six survivors walked to a remote village where they said that 44 people, mostly from Ghana and Nigeria and including three babies and two other children, died of thirst, said Lawal Taher, the department head for the Red Cross in the Bilma region. Taher said a search for the bodies was underway. The number of migrants who cross the Sahara has increased in recent years as impoverished West Africans risk their lives to try to reach Europe. In one of the most perilous parts of the journey, thousands of migrants each week are crammed into pickup trucks for the days-long ride from Niger into Libya, often with only enough room for a few litres of water. Authorities and aid organisations are able to keep track of the thousands of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean Sea between Africa and Europe, but it is almost impossible to know how many have died in the vast and un-policed Sahara. Last year, a report by 4mi, an affiliate of the Danish Refugee Council, reported that it is likely that more migrants die in the desert than at sea, according to testimony from migrants. Source: Vanguard

Ecowas admits Morocco, but studying implications

Monrovia — The Northern African country of Morocco's request to join the West African regional body has been approved in principle by ECOWAS, but West African leaders are studying the implications of its membership before its membership can be formally endorsed. King Mohammed VI of Morocco was expected to take part in the 51st ECOWAS summit but canceled his trip to Liberia due to the controversy surrounding the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the event. ECOWAS weighs US$630 billion, representing the world's 21st GDP and by integrating Morocco, the 15-member bloc would become the 16th largest world economy with an additional $115 billion and a GDP approaching US$745 billion, ahead of Turkey and right after Indonesia. With its strategic geographic and economic position, Morocco would be a vital platform for ECOWAS countries to secure European, American and Arab markets. According to experts, the regional group has exceeded the expectations of its founding fathers. Today, the organization is recognized globally as a successful regional body. ECOWAS can be seen now as a model of integration and regional co-existence. The vision of ECOWAS is the creation of a borderless region where the population has access to its abundant resources and is able to exploit them through the creation of opportunities under a sustainable environment. In this bloc, the population enjoys free movement, have access to efficient education and health systems and engage in economic and commercial activities while living in dignity in an atmosphere of peace and security. With a population of some 35 million people, Morocco until recently wasn't even a member of the African Union (AU). The country left the continental organization for more than 30 years over the AU's recognition of Western Sahara, a territory that Morocco laid claims to. Early this year, it reapplied to the AU and was readmitted. ECOWAS is a regional bloc of some 15 countries close to each other and mostly sharing borders. The countries are Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Senegal, Togo, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, The Gambia, Mali, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, Benin and Cape Verde. While this won't be the first time that North African countries have joined organizations originally meant exclusively for countries in other regions of Africa, as Libya and Egypt are members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), a group of countries in East and South Africa, Morocco's bid to join ECOWAS sounds bizarre. Morocco regards Western Sahara as part of its historic territory and has spent much of the last three decades trying to strengthen ties with Europe at the expense of relations with Africa. There has been no official confirmation of the decision to admit Morocco but highly placed ECOWAS sources have confirmed it to the BBC. Morocco, along with Tunisia which is seeking observer status with the ECOWAS and Mauritania, which wants to return to the body, will be invited to the next meeting of heads of state in Togo in December, a source told BBC. The country Morocco With its diverse Arab, Berber and influence of European culture, Morocco describes itself as a constitutional monarchy. In 2011 it adopted a new Constitution, which laid the grounds for what it describes as a more open and democratic society, with separation of powers and increased decentralization. Despite the claim to democracy, the monarchy has a tight grip on the country. The World Bank reports that after a good performance in 2015, the Moroccan economy is decelerating in 2016. Economic activity slowed to 1.4 percent in the second quarter as a result of a 12.1 percent contraction in agriculture production, while growth outside the agriculture sector remained sluggish at around 2.5 per cent. Inflation has remained muted at under 2 per cent, reflecting prudent monetary policy and the fall in international commodity prices. The Bank further indicates that based on performance since the beginning of 2016, Morocco is expected to reduce its fiscal deficit to 3.5 percent of GDP. "This would be the result of strong revenue performance and the continued reduction in consumption subsidies. Morocco should thus be able to stabilize its central government debt at around 64 per cent of GDP," it said. The country's trade deficit narrowed down in recent years as a result of fiscal consolidation efforts and the emergence of Morocco's new industries, especially automobiles. The current account deficit should not exceed 1.5 per cent of GDP for 2016, and Morocco's international reserves reached $24.9 billion--the equivalent of 7.3 months' worth of imports at end-June 2016, the World Bank said. Considering its sound economic performance, despite all the headwinds, which is an indication that Morocco might be seeking to take advantage of the West African economy - with a population of 335 million, West Africa has a GDP of $345 billion, and Morocco already has bilateral relations with almost all the 15 countries of the ECOWAS. While Morocco might be a good trading partner as it is also one of the leading producers of phosphate in Africa, there are already existing trade relations with these countries, raising questions about the exact reasons behind Morocco's interest in becoming a member of ECOWAS. One of the sticky issues surrounding Morocco's ECOWAS membership is whether or not the country being a monarchy state would be willing to subject itself to ECOWAS protocol on democracy and governance as Article 1 of ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance calls for separation of powers, and among others, the independence of the judiciary and judges. The Protocol is also clear on the secularism and neutrality of the State in all matters relating to religion but does not preclude the right of the State to regulate with due respect to human rights. Besides, ECOWAS protocols such as this one are binding. What that means is that, for a constitutional monarchy that operates quite differently, it remains to be seen how Morocco can subject itself to these universal principles of this particular ECOWAS protocol. Source: Front Page Africa

Nigerian government pays 20 whistle-blowers N 375.8 million

The federal government said on June 7 it had released about N375.8 million for payment of 20 whistleblowers who provided information that led to the recovery over N11.6 billion. The Ministry of Finance, which confirmed the release in a statement, said the payments were the first under the Whistleblower Policy. The government did not disclose the identities of the beneficiaries, apparently for security reasons. "This payment is the first under the Whistleblower Policy," the Minister for Finance, Kemi Adeosun, said in the statement. "The payment underscores the commitment of the President Muhmmadu Buhari-led administration to meet its obligations to information providers under the Whistleblower Policy, which is an essential tool in the fight against corruption." The minister said recent amendments to the Whistleblower Policy of the government include the introduction of a formal legal agreement between information providers and the Federal Government. The agreement is executed by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, she said. In line with the policy, each whistleblower would be entitled to a minimum of five per cent of the money involved in the corruption case reported. The payment of the money would however be made after the successful recovery of the affected sum to government coffers, while informants whose info provide false hint, risk prosecution and jail. The minister said standard procedures had also been introduced to ensure the protection of the identities of information providers during the payment process. Mrs. Adeosun explained that all payments were taxable and were only made upon confirmation of the final recovery of related assets, after confirmation by the Attorney-General of the Federation as being free of legal disputes. The Minister also gave details of the Whistleblower Unit, a multi-agency team resident in the Ministry of Finance Headquarters. The unit is staffed by personnel from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), State Security Services (SSS), the Nigeria Police Force and Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), among others. "The Whistleblower Unit is the first line of response to whistleblower information, where initial review is undertaken before cases are forwarded to the relevant investigative agencies," Mrs. Adeosun said. The Executive Council of the Federation approved the Whistleblowers Policy launched by the Minister of Finance in December 2016 to encourage members of the public volunteer credible information about corruption cases in the country. The policy, which is part of the government's anti-corruption campaign, has seen the government receiving about 2,150 communications and 337 tips through the Whistleblower Unit's dedicated channels from various Nigerians. The minister said this has led to the recovery of substantial assets illegally acquired by individuals across the country. Details of such asset recoveries are still not made public by government. Despite several demands by Nigerians, the government has continued to withhold the information, claiming most of the affected assets were still subjects of legal processes yet to be completed. Mrs. Adeosun said the primary purpose of the Whistleblower policy was to support the fight against financial crimes and corruption, promote accountability and enhance transparency in the management of public finances. She assured that the present administration would continue to encourage all Nigerians with information on misconduct, violation or improper activity, which could negatively impact on the country, to report to the appropriate authority. Source: Premium Times This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi
The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.