MonitorsPublished on Jul 09, 2018
Africa Monitor | Volume VII; Issue XLXIII

The Continent

AU Summit meeting in Mauritania

The supreme organ of the African Union, the Assembly, which comprises Heads of State and Government of all the 55 African countries, began its 31st ordinary session on 1 July 2018 in Nouakchott, Islamic Republic of Mauritania. During the meeting, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Lesotho, Burundi, and Namibia signed the agreement establishing the AfCFTA on 1 July 2018 in Nouakchott while Eswatini and Chad deposited their instruments of ratification of the AfCFTA. While making his opening remarks, President Kagame commended the efforts made in the planning of the 2019 budget of the African Union which resulted in a reduction of 12% in the budget compared to 2018. President Kagame remarked that, “The African Union has applied the ‘golden rules’ and adopted the most credible and transparent budget in our history.” The Summit is being held under the 2018 theme of the year “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation. The Mauritanian President, Mr. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz underscored the importance of the theme, saying, “Winning the fight against corruption is a prerequisite for our progress and prosperity”. Source: TRALAC

China-Africa cooperation: First defence, security forum opens in Beijing

In order to strengthen cooperation, China on 26 June  opened a 15-day China-Africa Defence, Security Forum, organised by the country’s Defence Ministry in Beijing, local media reported. Invited to the pioneer event are African defence officials and diplomats who will watch displays by Chinese soldiers and also inspect military hardware. China last year inaugurated its first military base on the continent in Djibouti. China is already involved in training African military personnel. It is not only Africa’s leading economic partner, but an increasing military ally. Source: Cameroon Tribune

Senate approves Trump choice for top Africa policy post

President Trump's selection for the senior Africa policy position in the State Department, Tibor P. Nagy, Jr., of Texas, was approved by the U.S. Senate on 28 June by voice vote. The nomination of the retired career diplomat to be Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs was announced by the White House on May 10. Nagy served as U.S. ambassador to Guinea and Ethiopia under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Until he resigned last November, he was vice provost for international affairs at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. "I'm very honored and humbled that the US Senate confirmed my nomination to be Assistant Secretary for African Affairs," Nagy said in a Tweet.  "I remain an Afro-Optimist and hope to help the Continent advance in stability, prosperity, and good governance.  I am grateful to God for this opportunity!" Source: allAfrica

3rd edition of United Nations Peacekeeping Course for African Partners in New Delhi

The third edition of the United Nations Peacekeeping Course for African Partners (UNPCAP) was inaugurated in New Delhi on 7 May 2018 to build and enhance the capacity of the African Troop Contributing Countries to the UN. The UNPCAP sessions were held from May 7-25. The course is conducted by the Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping in India (CUNPK) in partnership with the US, the Indian Army said in a statement. The first and second editions of the course were held in New Delhi in 2016 and 2017, respectively. "The inaugural session for this course was conducted on May 7 at the Manekshaw Centre in New Delhi. Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs, Ruchi Ghanashyam, chaired the inaugural session and welcomed the officers while briefing the audience on the commitment of India towards the UN," the statement said. Other eminent speakers included Director General Staff Duties Lt Gen Ajae Kumar Sharma and US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster. "The course is aimed to build and enhance the capacity of the African Troop Contributing Countries to the UN and to further train the trainers from these countries," the Army statement said. Source: Business Standard

North Africa

Two shipwrecks add to ‘alarming increase’ in migrant deaths off Libya coast

More than 200 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean in the past three days, bringing the overall death toll so far this year to more than 1,000, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) reported on 2 July. The tragic weekend began on 29 June with the deaths of an estimated 103 people, including three babies, when the rubber dinghy they were on sank off the coast of Libya. The Libyan Coast Guard rescued 16 survivors: young men from the Gambia, Sudan, Yemen, Niger and Guinea. The incident was followed on 1 July by the capsizing of a small rubber boat off the Libyan port city of Al Khums, east of the capital, Tripoli. The vessel was packed with migrants and while 41 people survived, 100 are reported missing. During this same time period, the Libyan Coast Guard intercepted several small vessels heading towards the open sea, returning nearly 1,000 migrants to shore. The people were provided with food, water and health care, as well as other emergency assistance, and were interviewed by IOM staff.  They were later transferred to detention centres, where IOM continues to provide humanitarian assistance. The Libyan Coast Guard has returned some 10,000 people to shore so far this year, according to IOM. Othman Belbeisi, its Libya Chief of Mission, reported an “alarming increase” in deaths at sea. Source: UN News

Egypt announces primary budget surplus for 1st time in 15 years

Egypt announced on 5 July that it had a primary budget surplus for the first time in 15 years, Finance Minister Mohamed Mait said, according to official Ahram Online news website. The state budget achieved a 0.2 percent primary budget surplus, worth 4 billion Egyptian pounds (nearly 223 million U.S. dollars) in its 2017-2018 fiscal year. It surpassed the target of 3 billion Egyptian pound (nearly 167 million dollars), the minister said at a press conference following his inspection tour of Egypt's Large Taxpayers Center (LTC). Egypt's fiscal year runs from beginning of July to end of June of the following year. The country expected its 2017-2018 budget deficit to stand at 9.8 percent, slightly above the 9.1 percent it said last year it was expecting. Mait told reporters that revenues expected from the 2018-2019 fisical year budget were around 989 billion Egyptian pounds (55 billion dollars), 817 billion of which would be spent on debts and interest. The country's foreign reserves rose by the end of June to 44.258 billion dollars from 44.139 billion dollars, the central bank also announced on 5 July. After experience an ailing economy over several years due to turmoil and lax security, Egypt's government float the Egyptian pound by half in 2016, and adopted reform economic measures like fuel and electricity subsidy cuts this year. The latest measures, despite exhausting poor people, were praised by economists and secured a 12-billion-dollar International Monetary Fund loan, half of which was already received by Egypt. Source: Xinhua

Southern Africa

Opposition calls for Malawi President’s resignation over graft allegations

Malawi’s main opposition party on 2 July called for President Peter Mutharika to resign over allegations he received a kickback from a $4 million government contract. Mutharika has called the allegations “fake news” designed to smear him ahead of an election next year. The Malawi Congress Party (MCP) added its voice to that of civil society groups calling on the president to resign. “We in the opposition have previously and tirelessly raised such issues of nauseating corruption by President Peter Mutharika’s administration,” MCP leader Lazarus Chakwera told journalists. “He needs to resign and call for early elections.” The country’s anti-graft body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau, has been investigating a $3.9 million Malawi police food supply contract awarded to Pioneer Investments, a firm owned by businessman Zameer Karim, who has denied wrongdoing. Malawi’s two biggest daily newspapers have published what they said was the final report into the contract, although the ACB said it had not finalised it and was still investigating the case. The leaked report said the businessman deposited 145 million Malawian kwacha ($200,000) into an account belonging to the ruling party and of which Mutharika is sole signatory. Mutharika, president since 2014, has been tipped to be re-elected, but regular allegations of corruption could hobble his campaign in the impoverished southern African nation where reports of government graft have become routine. Malawians next go to the polls in May 2019 to elect the president, parliament and ward councillors. Source: Reuters

Heroin one of Mozambique’s biggest exports

Mozambique boasts vast coal, ruby and gas deposits, but one of the southeast African nation’s biggest exports may be something more sinister: heroin. As much as $800 million (R10.9bn) worth of the narcotic is shipped annually from its beaches to neighboring countries and to Europe. That’s according to a research paper by Enact, a European Union-funded initiative to mitigate the impact of transnational organised crime, and a related working paper by Joseph Hanlon, visiting senior fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. "Mozambique is a significant heroin transit center and the trade has increased to 40 tons or more per year, making it a major export which contributes up to $100 million per year to the local economy," Hanlon said. "With an export value of $20 million per ton, heroin is probably the country’s largest or second-largest export after coal." The value of Mozambique coal exports more than doubled to $1.7bn (R23bn) last year, as production and prices rose, according to data from the central bank. Produced in Afghanistan and Pakistan, heroin is shipped to Mozambique’s coast with motorized wooden boats, which can carry up to a ton of the drug in hidden compartments, according to the Enact report. From there, it’s transported by road to neighboring South Africa. Some is sold to local users, but most of the heroin is destined for Europe, said the researchers, who include Mark Shaw, Simone Haysom, and Peter Gastrow. Traffickers appear to be increasingly using east and southern Africa as a land-based Balkan route has become more difficult to get the opioid into Western Europe, the research shows. Heroin accounted for more than a quarter of Europe’s estimated $28bn (R383bn) drug market in 2013, according to the Lisbon-based European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Source: fin24

 India-South Africa Business Summit 2018: Huge potential for trade

India is ready and willing to assist in development in southern African countries, Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu said at the India-South Africa Business Summit 2018, noting that the region holds huge potential for trade. "We feel that there is a huge potential that exists between these two regions," Prabhu said as he shared the platform with his counterparts form Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique at the summit. Prabhu said there had been a meeting in New Delhi just a month earlier to explore what could be done in each of these countries. "It was quite an eye-opener for us, because we realised that some of these countries have so much capability which we were not aware of, so we can actually use that and bring it into India as well. The minister said "we are preparing for each and every country what it is that we can do together. We don't want to offer one single solution to all the countries, but something befitting each of the countries in the southern African region," Prabhu said. He said India's commitment to trade relations with Africa is "very strong" and efforts are on to find out how the credit extended for project financing in some of these countries can be further improved. Prabhu said the steps would further benefit the countries where these projects are going to be implemented. Despite the optimism about the pledge of support from India, Prabhu cautioned that these projects "should not be overambitious. Often the ideas don't work because of the very high ambitions that we start with, feeling that everything should be done immediately. That is not possible, even for India, which is a country much larger (than its African partners)." Prabhu proposed that a Joint Study Group be set up to explore these ideas further. "The relationship at political level is very high and very good, but we need to transcend that relationship into the economic sphere as well to benefit both the populations from that interaction," he said. Source: FirstPost

East Africa

On way to BRICS, Modi and Xi vie for East Africa’s attention

The BRICS summit in South Africa later this month is likely to see a reviving up of India’s rivalry with China for influence in resource-rich Africa. While PM Narendra Modi will use the occasion for a major east Africa outreach with visits to two countries in the region, at least one of these countries will also be visited by President Xi Jingping days ahead of Modi’s arrival. The government is yet to announce this but official sources said Modi was going to visit Rwanda and neighbour Uganda on his way to South Africa for the BRICS summit starting 25 July. While Uganda has seen visits by Prime Ministers in 1997 and 2007, this is the first time that an Indian PM will visit Rwanda. While dates for Modi’s visit is still being worked out, it’s almost certain that he will land in the Rwandan capital Kigali a day or two after a similar visit to the country by President Xi. This visit to Rwanda was another sign that Africa remained the focus of India’s outreach to the developing world and had nothing to do with any ‘cutthroat competition’ with China as is often reported in the media. “It is also significant that both Rwanda and Uganda are members of Commonwealth where India is an important player”, said an official, adding that the outreach also enhances India’s south-south leadership credentials even as it engages with bigger powers. Modi will hold official dialogue with President Paul Kagame in Rwanda and with President Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, where several agreements are expected to be signed with both countries. It is significant though that both leaders have chosen to visit Rwanda, where China has emerged as an important partner in post-conflict reconstruction work, in East Africa on their way to South Africa. Source: Times of India

India-Seychelles agree to develop naval base at Assumption Island

India and Seychelles on 25 June agreed to work together on a project to develop a naval base at the Assumption Island keeping each other's concerns in mind after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Danny Faure. India also announced a $100-million credit to Seychelles for augmenting its defence capabilities. "With this credit, Seychelles will be able to buy defence equipment to boost its maritime capacity," Prime Minister Modi said in his joint media statement with Faure. On the project to develop a naval facility at the island, which would give India a strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean Region, Modi said, "We have agreed to work together on the Assumption Island project based on each other's rights." Faure, in his remarks, said the Assumption Island project was discussed and the two countries equally engaged to work together bearing each other's interests. The visit also saw India and Seychelles ink 6 MoUs in areas such as naval cooperation, cyber security, culture, development projects among others. India also gifted to Seychelles a Dornier Do-228 aircraft to augment Seychelles’ defence assets and capabilities. Source: Business Standard

Djibouti commissions $3.5 billion Chinese built free trade zone

Djibouti commissioned a $3.5 billion, Chinese-built free trade zone on 5 July, deepening ties with the Asian giant and helping the Horn of Africa nation generate more jobs for its youths. Djibouti, with a population of 876,000, already hosts Chinese, U.S. and French naval bases and it also handles roughly 95 percent of the goods imported by Ethiopia, its land-locked neighbour with 99 million people. The new trade zone, one of several new port and trade facilities being developed by Djibouti, covers 48 square kms and was built by China’s Dalian Port Corporation. The zone will be jointly operated by Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority and China’s Merchants Holdings Company. The zone which will house manufacturing and warehouse facilities, an export-processing area and a services centre, is expected to handle trade worth $7 billion within two years, and create 15,000 jobs when complete. “It is … a zone of hope for thousands of young jobseekers,” Djibouti President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh said at the inauguration ceremony, which was also attended by the presidents of Rwanda, Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan. The agreement to build the free trade zone was signed in March 2016 as part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which is a bid to expand trade routes with a series of infrastructure initiatives stretching across 60 countries. “Our strategic location and world-class facilities have … seen Djibouti’s importance as a trade hub recognised globally,” Aboubakar Omar Hadi, chairman of the Djibouti Ports and Free Trade zone, told Reuters at the ceremony. Source: africanews

Ethiopia ‘accepts peace deal’ to end Eritrea border war

Ethiopia's governing coalition has announced it will fully accept and implement the peace deal that ended its border war with Eritrea. It says it will accept the outcome of a 2002 border commission ruling, which awarded disputed territories, including the town of Badme, to Eritrea. This will end a dispute with Eritrea that sparked Africa's deadliest border war in 1998. Tens of thousands of people were killed in two years of fighting. The two sides have remained on a war footing as Ethiopia had, until now, refused to accept the ruling of the border commission, which was set up as part of a peace deal. As a result, Ethiopia had refused to withdraw its troops out of the disputed areas - leading Eritrea to accuse Ethiopia of forcefully occupying its territory. "The Eritrean government should take the same stand without any prerequisite and accept our call to bring back the long-lost peace of the two brother nations as it was before," the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) wrote on Facebook. Eritrea had refused to hold any talks with Ethiopia until it agreed unconditionally to the border commission's findings. Ethiopia's new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had promised to make peace with the country's northern neighbour after taking power earlier this year. Source: BBC News

 Madagascar to hold presidential elections in November

Madagascar will hold the first round of presidential elections in November with the second round due in December, the prime minister said on 29 June, after a court ordered the president to form a consensus government. President Hery Rajaonarimampianina named a new cabinet and promised free elections in June, responding to the order of the court, which had sought to resolve a political crisis. A 2009 coup prompted an exodus of foreign investors from Madagascar, which remains one of the world’s poorest countries despite reserves of nickel, cobalt, gold, uranium and other minerals. The island’s latest political crisis was triggered in April by a legal amendment that would have prevented former President Marc Ravalomanana from standing for office. In May, Rajaonarimampianina approved a new law removing that provision, and the Constitutional Court ordered him to dissolve his government and appoint a new prime minister with the support of all parties. The first round will be held on Nov. 7 with the second round on 19 December, Prime Minister Christian Ntsay told reporters. Source: Reuters

West Africa

Nigeria overtakes India as world’s poverty capital

Nigeria has now taken over as the nation with the highest number of extremely poor people, a report by Brookings Institution has shown. Before now, India used to hold the position with a population of 1.324 billion people as against Nigeria’s 200 million. According to the report, the number of Nigerians in extreme poverty increases by six people every minute. The report read: “According to our projections, Nigeria has already overtaken India as the country with the largest number of extremely poor in early 2018, and the Democratic Republic of  Congo could soon take over the number 2 spot. “At the end of May 2018, our trajectories suggest that Nigeria had about 87 million people in extreme poverty, compared with India’s 73 million. What is more, extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by six people every minute, while poverty in India continues to fall. “In fact, by the end of 2018 in Africa as a whole, there will probably be about 3.2 million more people living in extreme poverty than there is today. “Africans account for about two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor and that if current trends persist, Africa will account for nine-tenths by 2030.” “Fourteen out of 18 countries in the world—where the number of extreme poor is rising—are in Africa.” In March, the International Monetary Fund had said Nigerians are getting poorer saying there is a need for coherent and comprehensive economic reforms. Source: Vanguard

Buhari to sign ‘Not Too Young to Run’ Bill

Nigerian President on 29 May said he will assent to a bill that will pave a way for more young people to contest elections in Africa’s most populous country. Known as ‘Not Too Young to Run’ Bill, when passed into law later this week, the bill will lower the age limit for those seeking political office in a country where more than half of the population is younger than 30. “In few days to come, I will be joined by many promising young Nigerians to sign into law the “Not Too Young to Run” Bill,” President Muhammadu Buhari said in a televised speech to mark the nineteenth anniversary of Nigeria’s return to democracy and the third year of his government. Nigeria’s 1999 constitution stipulates that the president has to be at least 40, while senators and state governors have to be aged 35 or above. The bill, however, reduces the minimum age for presidential candidates from 40 to 35, and state governors and senators from 35 to 30. The age limit for state assembly will be 25. The bill was passed by both Chambers of the National Assembly in 2017 and also been approved by the constitutionally required a two-third of the state assemblies. Buhari, 75, is standing for reelection in the next general elections scheduled to hold in the first quarter of 2019. Other candidates such as Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), former Nigeria’s central bank deputy governor Kingsley Moghalu, the publisher of Sahara Reporters Omoyele Sowore are older than 40 years. Source: Guardian

Central Africa

Zimbabwe to hold first post-Mugabe elections on July 30

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has announced elections will be held on 30 July, the first without long-time former leader Robert Mugabe on the ballot. Mnangagwa became president in November after an intervention by the army removed Mugabe. "The Zimbabwe election commission is hereby advised to fix 30 of July as the day of the election of the office of president, the election of members of house of assembly and election of councillors," Mnangagwa said. His main opponent will be Nelson Chamisa, 40, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which lost its stalwart, Morgan Tsvangirai, to cancer earlier this year. So far, opposition parties have been campaigning without the previous threats of violence and arrest. More than five million of Zimbabwe's 13 million people have registered to vote. A runoff will be held on September 8 if none of the presidential candidates wins an outright majority, according to a proclamation by Mnangagwa. Known by his nickname The Crocodile, Mnangagwa was a long-standing ally of Mugabe before the latter sacked him. Mugabe was widely accused of violently suppressing the opposition and rigging elections during his more than three decades in power. Mnangagwa has promised that international election observers will be allowed back into Zimbabwe and the vote will be free and fair. The European Union signed an agreement earlier this week with Zimbabwe in preparation for deploying election observers nationwide. Source: Aljazeera

Burundi’s Nkurunziza to step down in 2020

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza said on 7 June that he would not run for another term, despite widespread belief that he backed a new constitution extending term limits in a bid to cling to power. "I will not go back on my word. Our mandate ends in 2020," Nkurunziza said in a speech to supporters and diplomats in the central region of Gitega. His announcement came shortly after he signed into law a new constitution that could enable him to rule until 2034. Describing himself as "Guide" of the ruling CNDD-FDD party, Nkurunziza said he would not seek re-election at the end of his current, controversial third term. Nkurunziza's decision to run for election in 2015 plunged Burundi into a deep and deadly political crisis, with opponents saying his candidacy went against a peace deal that had ended more than a decade of civil war. Last month a constitutional referendum was held to extend presidential terms to seven years. It was widely seen as a move paving the way for Nkurunziza to run for a further two terms under the new dispensation. "The new constitution has not been tailored for Pierre Nkurunziza, as our enemies claim," he said. "As far as I am concerned, I am preparing to support, with all my strength, the new president who we are going to elect in 2020." Source: The Citizen
 This monitor is prepared by Abhishek Mishra, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi
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