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Africa: Tribute to Babacar Ndiaye – Titan of Africa
July 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

Photo: Africa Economy Builders Babacar Ndiaye (right) presenting the Africa Economy Builders Award to Ambassador Harold E. Doley, Jr. in Abidjan in April.

Photo: Africa Economy Builders
Babacar Ndiaye (right) presenting the Africa Economy Builders Award to Ambassador Harold E. Doley, Jr. in Abidjan in April.

New Orleans — The Greek mythological Titan of Forethought, Prometheus, dared to disobey Zeus’ wishes by sharing fire and heat with humanity. His punishment was to be shackled to the Caucasus Mountains (The derivation of Caucasian comes from the people of the Caucasus Mountains.).

This humane act for humankind led to eternal condemnation. Each day, the eagles ate Prometheus’s organs, but because he was a Titan (i.e. god), the organs grew back. Prometheus endured this daily fate until Hercules broke his chains.

Babacar Ndiaye, who passed away in Dakar yesterday, lived the life of Prometheus. He did what he knew was right and paid the price many times over.

Many people that he helped throughout his life hurt him and hurt him dearly. I personally saw him reconcile with each one of those people, even though just one of those blows could have been mortal.

Babacar was a religious man who knew the Koran as well as the Old and New Testaments and understood that we are all One. He recognized that Ishmael, Abraham’s first son, was the forbearer of Islam. He knew the Old Testament teachings that Noah son Ham’s descendants are Black, cursed to always be the servant of servants (slaves). In the New Testament, Babacar liked to point out that two men carried the cross to Calvary, Jesus and Simon of Cyrene, a black man.

God and history created Babacar, who was a compilation of Prometheus, Ishmael, Ham and Simon of Cyrene.

Bababcar is recognized for his decade (1985-1995) as president of the African Development Bank (AfDB). What is lesser known is that he orchestrated the quadrupling of the capital of that Bank and that he secured the first AAA rating for an African institution or sovereign country. He also was instrumental in creating Shelter Afrique, the African Export-Import Bank and the African Business Roundtable.

One little known anecdote is that – when the superpowers agreed in 1991 that the next Secretary General of the United Nations should be an African – Babacar Ndiaye was next in line for the position, had Boutros Boutros-Ghali not prevailed following a stalemate in the voting. Another unknown gem is that Babacar was asked by Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi to deliver his wish to Washington to reconcile with the United States.

Perhaps most important was Babacar’s behind-the-scenes contribution to ending apartheid. In 1985, the year Babacar became AfDB President, Hughlyn Fierce, senior executive vice president of Chase Bank in New York, won approval for the Bank to refuse to renew the debt of South Africa. This decision immediately put the white government in default, forcing the closure of the foreign currency exchange window and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Less than 60 days later, President P.W. Botha gave his Rubicon speech in Durban and spoke of the ‘new’ South Africa. Within a matter of weeks, Nelson Mandela was moved from prison to a halfway house, and the lengthy negotiations that led to the country’s first non-racial elections in 1994 were underway.

Babacar quietly supported Chase Bank in extraordinary ways, and It was the cooperation of these two men of color – Fierce and Ndiaye – which helped to bring about this remarkable change.

Throughout his career, Babacar handled tens of billions of dollars. Yet he did not die a wealthy man in monetary terms.  What he accomplished was to do his job extraordinarily well.

Now that his earthly chains have been broken, we need not cry for Babacar. We should, however, mourn the fact that Africa has lost a great titan to whom we all are indebted..

*Allafrica.Ambassador Harold E. Doley, Jr. (Ret.) was the first U.S. Executive Director to the African Development Bank and Fund.

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The CFA Franc: French Monetary Imperialism in Africa
July 13, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Ndongo Samba Sylla*
A cartoon with a hand holding a key emerging from a jacket of the colours of the French flag. The key of for a padlock which holds the French nations to the much maligned CFA Franc currency used by former French colonies in West Africa

A cartoon with a hand holding a key emerging from a jacket of the colours of the French flag. The key of for a padlock which holds the French nations to the much maligned CFA Franc currency used by former French colonies in West Africa

Ndongo Samba Sylla argues that the CFA franc – officially created on 26 December 1945 by a decree of General de Gaulle – used across much of Africa today is a colonial relic. For those hoping to export competitive products, obtain affordable credit, work for the integration of continental trade, or fight for an Africa free from imperialist control, the CFA franc is an anachronism demanding orderly and methodical elimination.

On 11 August 2015, speaking at the celebrations marking the 55th anniversary of the independence of Chad, President Idriss Deby declared, ‘we must have the courage to say there is a cord preventing development in Africa that must be severed.’ The ‘cord’ he was referring to is now over 71 years old. It is known by the acronym ‘CFA franc’.

The pillars of the CFA franc

Like other colonial empires – the UK, with its sterling zone; or Portugal, with its escudo zone, France had its franc zone. The CFA franc – orginally the French African Colonial franc – was officially created on 26 December 1945 by a decree of General de Gaulle. It is a colonial currency, born of France’s need to foster economic integration among the colonies under its administration, and thus control their resources, economic structures and political systems.

Post-independence the CFA franc was redesignated: for the eight members of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) – Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo – it became the African Financial Community franc; for the six members of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CAEMC) – Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Chad – the Central African Financial Cooperation franc. The two zones possess economies of equal size (each representing 11 per cent of GDP in sub-Saharan Africa). The two currencies, however, are not inter-convertible.

As established by the monetary accords between African nations and France, the CFA franc has four main pillars:

Firstly, a fixed rate of exchange with the euro (and previously the French franc) set at 1 euro = 655.957 CFA francs. Secondly, a French guarantee of the unlimited convertibility of CFA francs into euros. Thirdly, a centralisation of foreign exchange reserves. Since 2005, the two central banks – the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) and the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) – have been required to deposit 50 per cent of their foreign exchange reserves in a special French Treasury ‘operating account’. Immediately following independence, this figure stood at 100 per cent (and from 1973 to 2005, at 65 per cent).

This arrangement is a quid pro quo for the French ‘guarantee’ of convertibility. The accords stipulate that foreign exchange reserves must exceed money in circulation by a margin of 20 per cent. Before the fall in oil prices, the money supply coverage rate (the ratio of foreign exchange reserves to money in circulation) consistently approached 100 per cent, implying in theory that Africans could dispense with the French ‘guarantee’. The final pillar of the CFA franc, is the principle of free capital transfer within the franc zone.

The CFA franc: for and against

Despite its exceptional longevity, the CFA franc by no means enjoys unanimous support among African economists and intellectuals. Its critics base their analysis on three separate arguments. Firstly, they condemn the absence of monetary sovereignty. France holds a de facto veto on the boards of the two central banks within the CFA franc zone. Since the reform of the BCEAO in 2010, the conduct of monetary policy has been assigned to a monetary policy committee. The French representative is a voting member of this committee, while the president of the WAEMU Commission attends only in an advisory capacity. Given the fixed rate of exchange between the CFA franc and the euro, the monetary and exchange rate policies of the franc zone nations are also dictated by the European Central Bank, whose monetary orthodoxy entails an anti-inflation bias detrimental to growth.

Secondly, they focus on the economic impact of the CFA franc, construed as a neocolonial device that continues to destroy any prospect of economic development in user nations. According to this perspective, the CFA franc is a barrier to industrialisation and structural transformation, serving neither to stimulate trade integration between user nations, nor boost bank lending to their economies. The credit-to-GDP ratio stands around 25% for the WAEMU zone, and 13% for the CAEMC zone, but averages 60%+ for sub-Saharan Africa, and 100%+ for South Africa etc. The CFA franc also encourages massive capital outflows. In brief, membership of the franc zone is synonymous with poverty and under-employment, as evidenced by the fact that 11 of its 15 adherents are classed as Least Developed Countries (LDCs), while the remainder (Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Congo, Gabon) have all experienced real-term economic decline.

Finally, they maintain that membership of the franc zone is inimical to the advance of democracy. To uphold the CFA franc, it is argued, France has never hesitated to jettison heads of state tempted to withdraw from the system. Most were removed from office or killed in favour of more compliant leaders who cling to power come hell or high water, as shown by the CAEMC nations and Togo. Economic development is impossible in such circumstances, as is the creation of a political system that meets the preoccupations of the majority of citizens.

For its partisans, in contrast, the underlying logic of the CFA franc lies not in neocolonialism, but in monetary cooperation. The under-development of the franc zone nations is attributed to factors independent of their monetary and exchange policies, in particular to their political instability and the poor economic policies of their leaders.

The CFA franc is characterised as a credible and stable currency, a significant virtue given the experience of most currency-issuing African nations. This counter-argument is, however, flawed: experience shows that nations like Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, which post independence withdrew from the franc zone and mint their own currency, are stronger economically than any user of the CFA franc.

It is also claimed that the CFA franc has allowed inflation to be pegged at a rate considerably lower than the African average. For its critics, however, the counterpart of this low inflation rate is weak economic growth and the creation of fewer jobs. Not to mention that this low average inflation rate does not prevent cities like Dakar from ranking among the most ‘expensive’ in the world.

In fact, the terms of the debate are quite simple. The CFA franc is a good currency for those who benefit from it: the major French and overseas corporations, the executives of the zone’s central banks, the elites wishing to repatriate wealth acquired legally or otherwise, heads of state unwilling to upset France etc. But for those hoping to export competitive products, obtain affordable credit, find work, work for the integration of continental trade, or fight for an Africa free from colonial relics, the CFA franc is an anachronism demanding orderly and methodical elimination.

From forbidden topic to emerging social movement

In October 2016, a group of African and European economists published a book entitled [in translation] Liberate Africa from Monetary Slavery: Who Profits from the CFA Franc? The date was not selected at random; it coincided with a meeting of the franc zone’s finance ministers, central bank governors and regional institutions. In the wake of the public debate sparked by the book, people are beginning to speak out.

France maintains the position that the CFA franc is an ‘African currency’, existing only as a support to Africans, who retain their ‘sovereignty’. Some heads of state, like Alassane Ouattara in Côte d’Ivoire and Macky Sall in Senegal take the same line. Unlike Idriss Déby, Macky Sall describes the CFA franc as ‘a currency worth keeping’. Ouattara goes further, insisting that the currency is a matter for experts and thus not a subject for democratic debate. From this standpoint, any critic of the CFA franc must by definition know nothing about it.

Yet, alongside radical economists and intellectuals, the critics of the CFA franc also include former international officials like Togo’s Kako Nubukpo (ex-BCEAO), Senegal’s Sanou Mbaye (ex-African Development Bank, and Guinea-Bissau’s Carlos Lopez (ex-UN Economic Commission for Africa), as well as African bankers like Henri-Claude Oyima (President-Director General of BGFI Bank).

From a taboo subject raised only by a handful of African intellectuals and politicians, the CFA franc debate is starting to enter day-to-day conversation and to attract the attention of activists. A social movement is developing to demand the joint withdrawal of African nations from the CFA franc. On 7 January 2017, on the initiative of ‘SOS Pan-Africa’ (‘Urgences Panafricanistes’), an NGO set up and run by the activist Kemi Séba, anti-CFA demonstrations were organised in several African and European cities, and in Haïti. The mobilisations varied in size according to country, bringing together intellectuals, pan-Africanist and anti-globalisation activists and others. SOS Pan-Africa has since issued a symbolic appeal for Africans to boycott French products.

The current alternative to the CFA franc in West Africa is the joint currency planned for members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The new currency was due to enter circulation in 2015, but this has since been deferred until 2020. The new deadline may or may not be met, but one thing seems increasingly clear: the CFA franc no longer has a future.

*Ndongo Samba Sylla (@nssylla) is  Research and Programme Manager for the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. He is the editor and author of a number of books including The Fair Trade Scandal.This article was first published on the Review of the African Political Economy (ROAPE) blog
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Macron Got A Lot Wrong About Africa … But Made One Good Point
July 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Viviane Rutabingwa*


French President Emmanuel Macron speaks a Press conference after a meeting of European Union leaders at the Chancellery on June 29, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.
Michele Tantussi/Getty Images

At a press conference at the G20 summit in Hamburg on July 8, French President Emmanuel Macron answered a question from a Cote d’Ivoire journalist.

The reporter asked why there was no Marshall Plan for Africa.

Macron’s response included these comments: “The challenge of Africa is completely different, it is much deeper. It is civilizational today. Failing states, complex democratic transitions, the demographic transition.” He later said, “One of the essential challenges of Africa … is that in some countries today seven or eight children [are] born to each woman.”

Many commentators have called these statements racist, problematic and arrogant. And many of us Africans agree.

The Audacity Of Macron

The French colonial empire ruled over much of North, West and Central Africa from around 1830 until 1960. During this time, African peoples were labeled “French subjects” but as a rule could not own property or vote.

By the time the last French colonial country — Gabon — fully gained its “independence” in 1960, France had left behind a legacy of colonization, slavery and pillage.

President Macron, as the leader of France, speaks on the status of Africa with this backdrop looming behind him. In 1884, a French statesman and leading proponent of colonialism, Jules François Camille Ferry, stated: “The higher races have a right over the lower races, they have a duty to civilize the inferior races.” He called it France’s “mission civilisatrice” or “civilizing mission.” That idea was at the core of French colonial ideology. And now in 2017, President Macron declares the problems in Africa “civilizational.”

It is concerning to see the casual manner in which a head of state can play into racist stereotypes of the African continent and African women. Africa is a continent of 54 dynamically different countries. Each of them — like any other country on earth — has strikingly different needs and issues to face — and a conglomerate of local individuals and organizations working hard to address them.

When Macron in his comments refers to “failed states, complex democratic transitions, demographic transition, infrastructure, porous borders, drug trafficking, arms trafficking, human trafficking, violent fundamentalism, Islamist terrorism….,” he plays into the tiresome trope that “Africa is a country, everyone is poor and can’t help themselves.”

Which country is he speaking of? Could it be Rwanda, one of the fastest growing economies globally and a country that is always high up on the list of gender equality: almost 64 percent of parliamentarians are women compared to just 22 percent worldwide? Or perhaps is he referring to Botswana, which has demonstrated remarkable economic progress by jumping from a low-income to a middle-income country within a few decades.

It has been discussed ad nauseum why the rhetoric that there’s one story for all of Africa is damaging to the progress of African countries and the dignity of African people.

Birth Rate Misinformation

And then there is the matter of children.

Niger is the country with the world’s highest fertility rate — 7.6 children per mother, according to World Bank data. But the number of children per African woman in many African countries is lower and is generally declining. The data in 2015 shows 3.5 in Namibia, 5.6 in Nigeria, 4.3 in Kenya (down from 7.9 in 1960).

In 2015, on average, according to World Bank data, a Sub-Saharan African mother gives birth to 4.9 children.

I’m distressed by the ease at which this president throws out an extreme number to paint an inaccurate and stereotypical picture of African mothers.

Moment Of Clarity

French President Emmanuel Macron with Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. EPA/Christophe Petit Tesson

French President Emmanuel Macron with Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. EPA/Christophe Petit Tesson

Despite my criticisms of Macron’s comments, I do believe he made a pertinent point when he said: “If we want a coherent response to Africa, then Africans must develop a series of policies that are far more sophisticated than a simple Marshall plan.”

That observation mirrors statements made by African heads of states as well as many researchers and academics who have been pushing for alternative models to help the countries of Africa grow.

In her book Dead Aid, the acclaimed author and International economist Dambisa Moyo observes that African peoples — for decades — have been pointing to the inherently ineffective and actually destructive nature of Western aid programs. Too often these programs bring in foreign personnel and do not invest in grassroots efforts. And they fail to recognize that one size does not fit all.

Despite this bit of clarity, Macron’s comments dig up the ever hidden stems of old imperial notions. His words remind many of us Africans of the terror our ancestors and elders went through during the years of imperial rule.

And yet I’m not entirely sorry that Macron said what he said. His comments were a much-needed reminder that we must keep demanding accountability from imperial nations — a goal that president Macron himself seems to agree with. In a speech in Algeria in February, he called colonization “a crime against humanity.”

Well said!

*NPR Viviane Rutabingwa was born in Nairobi, Kenya, at the twilight of the Ugandan civil war to Ugandan parents and grew up in Kenya, Burundi and Uganda. She now divides her time between Uganda and Canada. She is a public health professional with a focus on the uninsured and refugees. a Global Health Corps alumni and a founding member of A Place For Books. She tweets @Rootsi

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Planet Earth Institute launches the PEI exChange, the first online matching platform for African development
July 8, 2017 | 0 Comments

Based on user-identified criteria, including countries and regions of focus, industries, skills and experience, the PEI exChange provides personalised matches to help users make their ‘Big Ideas for Africa’ happen.

  • The Planet Earth Institute NGO will launch the PEI exChange as part of its #ScienceAfrica UnConference on 20th July
  • The PEI exChange is the first online matching platform for individuals passionate about African development
  • The website is also the world’s only online portal dedicated to projects in Africa

The Planet Earth Institute (PEI) , an international NGO and charity, will launch the ​PEI exchange  during its ​#ScienceAfrica UnConference on 20th July​, 2017 . The PEI exChange  is the first online matching platform for all individuals working and interested in Africa.

While Africa has long been the subject of fascination, there are few specialised websites for the sheer range of professionals working on the continent. The PEI exChange is a new website that aims to connect all people working in and passionate about Africa. Based on user-identified criteria, including countries and regions of focus, industries, skills and experience, the PEI exChange provides personalised matches to help users make their ‘Big Ideas for Africa’ happen. These could include charitable projects, a new technology, a business plan, an academic collaboration or more.

Users will be matched with like-minded people who have the skills, expertise, and experience to support their projects on and for the continent. Once connected, the PEI exChange real-time chat function facilitates collaboration, allowing users to share contacts and expertise, build  networks, and create interest-focused groups.

The PEI exChange also features a ‘Big Ideas Map’, which displays projects, initiatives, businesses, and collaborations happening in and for Africa. Users can post their own projects, follow and support others, and stay up-to-date with challenges and opportunities on the ground.

The PEI exChange will be unveiled during the PEI’s fifth #ScienceAfrica UnConference, which is hosted by the Rt Hon Lord Boateng. Held under the banner of ‘Big Ideas For Africa: Celebrating the Continent’s Science and Technology Pioneers’, the UnConference aims to recognise the individuals and groups creating scientific and technological innovations that not only benefit  the continent, but also the world. Participants come from diverse backgrounds, including business, academia, policy and civil society. The UnConference will also be live streamed and people are encouraged to use the #BigIdeasforAfrica hashtag on Twitter to engage in discussion about science, technology and innovation in Africa.

The Rt Hon Lord Paul Boateng, PEI Chairman and Trustee, commented, “The latest digital technologies are a powerful way of fostering collaboration among the many talented individuals working to further sustainable and inclusive development in Africa. As such, I believe that the PEI exChange will be an invaluable resource and community for people who are passionate about the continent. This online matching platform and project portal has the potential to revolutionise the way people do business and good in Africa.”

The Planet Earth Institute (PEI) is an international NGO and charity working for the scientific independence of Africa. While other emerging regions have invested heavily in science and technology, Africa is falling behind in the race for scientific development. And we want that to change, fast.

All of our work is built around the three pathways we believe will help lead Africa to scientific independence: Higher Education, Technological Innovation and Policy and Advocacy. In other words, we want to support and strengthen higher education institutions, help incubate technologies able to drive scientific advancement and campaign for a science-led development agenda for Africa.

Headquartered in London with a core executive team, the PEI also has a regional office in Luanda, Angola.

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What are Israel’s goals in West Africa?
July 8, 2017 | 0 Comments

Tel Aviv is on a charm offensive in West Africa, taking advantage of Arab absence to court ECOWAS states.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with African leaders in Liberia pm June 4, 2017

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with African leaders in Liberia pm June 4, 2017

The presence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at last month’s Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) summit in Liberia was a clear sign of strengthened ties between Israel and the African organisation.

The Israeli prime minister became the first ever non-African head of state to address the ECOWAS summit.

“I believe in Africa, I believe in its potential – present and future. It is a continent on the rise,” Netanyahu said during his speech in Monrovia, adding that he had made strengthening Israel’s ties with the continent a top priority.

But Netanyahu’s presence at the summit, coupled with the absence of any Arab leaders, sent a clear diplomatic message.

Traditionally, Israeli leaders have not been well-received in Africa. North African states have Muslim majorities, close ties with the Middle East, and are supportive of the Palestinian cause.

Sub-Saharan African states fell out with Israel in the wake of the 1973 October War, referred to by Israelis as the Yom Kippur War.

But since 2016, Netanyahu has pursued a campaign of rapprochement with African nations, in the hopes of strengthening ties and winning African support for Israel.

Before his visit to Liberia, he said that his goal was to “dissolve this majority, this giant bloc of 54 African countries that is the basis of the automatic majority against Israel in the UN and international bodies”.

He is scheduled to return to the region in October to attend an Africa-Israel summit in Togo, where he is set to meet with leaders of 25 African countries to discuss cooperation in the areas of technology, development and security.

There are several main motivators behind Israel’s interest in West Africa.

Tying resistance to ‘terrorism’

Israel has seized on the appearance of “jihadi groups” in West Africa over the past few years as a golden opportunity.

The threat has provided a convenient opening to brand Palestinian resistance movements as “terrorists”, and to paint them in a similar light to violent West African movements.

In doing so, Tel Aviv has taken advantage of the fact that Africa’s political elite, swayed by Western media advancing an Israeli agenda, may not possess a deep knowledge of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Israeli officials who have visited Africa in recent years have focused on equating resistance with “terrorism”. Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman described Palestinian resistance movements, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as “terrorists” during a 2010 visit to the Nigerian capital, Abuja, when he was Israel’s foreign minister.

This was done to rein in sympathy for the Palestinian cause among the majority-Muslim ECOWAS economic bloc, which represents a quarter of Africa’s inhabitants.

West Africa is also seen as a hub for the Lebanese community accused of financing Hezbollah, whose foreign funding has been a long-standing point of concern for Israel. Israeli intelligence and economic influencers have focused on the countries most prone to this Lebanese influence, such as Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire, establishing a number of investment institutions and encouraging Israeli businessmen to invest.

It has also set up security companies that collect intelligence on the presence of Hezbollah supporters in the country, while an Israeli-Canadian company, Visual Defence, handles security at Abidjan’s international airport and port, making the flow of individuals and goods through the country subject to Israeli monitoring.

Increasing trade with West Africa

Israeli trade with West Africa is still weak, as it has relations with only a few countries in the region. A 2015 report by the Israeli Export Institute found that Israeli exports to Africa represented only 1.6 percent, while imports from Africa were 0.5 percent.

This means that Israel has yet to take significant advantage of the 340 million-strong consumer base of the ECOWAS bloc, as well as its economic potential and varied natural resources.

But Israeli diplomacy over the past few years has paved the way for further progress.

On a visit to Africa seven years ago, Lieberman said that Israel was intending to enter the ECOWAS region in a strong and active manner, noting that friendly African nations, such as Nigeria and Ghana, would play a large role in facilitating the building of ties between Israel and ECOWAS.

Israel’s presence in West Africa is neither deep nor historical. However, Israel does have good relations with influential countries such as Nigeria, having formed a relationship after its independence from Britain in 1960.

Israel was a generous supporter of Nigerian separatists in the Biafran War of 1967 and has a large and economically influential community there. Tel Aviv has established important economic installations in the country, such as the huge construction firm Nigersal, and the electrical and mechanical engineering firm Etco Limited.

Israel also has strong relations with Ghana, cemented by then Israeli Foreign Minister Golda Meir’s attendance at Ghana’s independence celebrations in 1957. The founding father of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, who was raised in Protestant missions that believe in the return of the Jews to Palestine, was also influenced by the thinking of pro-Israel Jamaican activist Marcus Garvey.

The influence wielded by these two countries on decision-making in ECOWAS, as well as the strong relationship between Tel Aviv and President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire, doubtless contributed to the warm welcome Netanyahu received at the recent summit.

After a period of neglect, Israel wants its return to Africa to be built on solid foundations.

It has limited its focus to security, military and economic aspects, with a special emphasis on the economy in countries where it will not be able to achieve much popularity among the mostly Muslim populations.

For example, agriculture is a key aspect of the relationship between Israel and Senegal. By focusing on agriculture, Israel not only hopes to penetrate an economy that relies heavily on farming, but also to gain a foothold in the more conservative rural areas of Senegal, where 95 percent of the inhabitants are Muslim and 70 percent rely on agriculture or herding.

Africa-Israel summit

The upcoming Africa-Israel summit in Togo this October represents an advanced stage of normalisation between Israel and West African countries, in a vein similar to previous French-African, Indian-African, Chinese-African and Turkish-African summits, all aiming to establish economic influence.

Africa’s level of acceptance of Israel will depend on the size of its economic investments, the money it will be able to pump into regional infrastructure projects, and whether Netanyahu will fulfill his promise to spend $1bn in the region to improve green energy projects over the next four years.

An absence of Arab policies to contain Israeli influence in this region may allow Israel to expand its African footprint to other countries, such as Mali, Niger and Guinea.

North African nations such as Morocco, Mauritania, Tunisia and Algeria have failed to capitalise on the common historical, cultural and social ties that bind them with the West African region, which may contribute further to Israel’s rise in the region.

Still, Israeli penetration of the region will not come without challenges: West African regimes may worry that a close relationship with Israel could make them a target for armed Islamist groups, whose attacks have become a major source of concern for ECOWAS leaders.

*Al Jazeera

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Mugabe donates $1 million to African Union
July 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe arrives at the African Union headquarters during the opening ceremony of the 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and the Governments, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 3, 2017. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe arrives at the African Union headquarters during the opening ceremony of the 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and the Governments, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 3, 2017. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said on Monday he was donating $1 million to the African Union (AU), hoping to set an example for African countries to finance AU programmes and wean it off funding from outside donors.

For years, about 60 percent of AU spending has been financed by donors including the European Union, World Bank and governments of wealthy non-African countries.

Mugabe, who has held power in Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, has said reliance on foreign funds allows big powers to interfere in the work of the AU.

The 93-year-old Mugabe told an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he had auctioned 300 cattle from his personal herd in May to fulfil a promise made to the continental body two years ago.

“Africa needs to finance its own programmes. Institutions like the AU cannot rely on donor funding as the model is not sustainable,” Mugabe said in comments broadcast on Zimbabwe’s state television.

“This humble gesture on Zimbabwe’s part has no universal application but it demonstrates what is possible when people apply their minds to tasks before them.”

The African Union’s 2017 budget is $782 million, increasing from $416.8 million last year. African leaders in July 2016 agreed in principle to charge a 0.2 percent levy on some exports to help finance AU operations.

Zimbabwe, whose economy was devastated by a drought last year, does not disclose its contributions to the AU. The top five African contributors are Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria and South Africa.

*Reuters.(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by James Macharia and Andrew Roche)

 

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Africa: Don’t Abandon Patriotism, KK Reminds Africa
June 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

Kenneth Kaunda

Kenneth Kaunda

First Republican president Kenneth Kaunda has reminded Africa not to abandon the patriotism that its founding fathers exhibited when they stood by each other to liberate the continent from colonial bondage despite geographic locations.

Dr Kaunda said good neighbourliness was the cornerstone that the founding fathers built on Africa and liberated it from colonial bondage, and it was important that the current generation did not forget this component of history.

The former head of State said it was important that Africans worked together in love because where there was love, people could overcome any challenges.

Dr Kaunda said this yesterday when visiting Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo paid him a visit at his residence in Lusaka’s State Lodge area.

“Our neighbours may be from another region or origin. They may even be from another political party. We are all brothers and sisters. We work together to do our part in God’s work. With love we can overcome great challenges,” Dr Kaunda said.

He said Africans should not allow themselves to be divided on account of colour, ethnicity, language or religion.

Dr Kaunda said African countries had in the past helped one another attain independence from the colonial masters, and this mutual support should be sustained in the interest of good neighbourliness.

 He hailed the Ghanaian leader for his election to the presidency, which coincided with Ghana’s 60th independence anniversary.

Dr Kaunda said Mr Akufo-Addo’s visit would nourish the deep relations between Zambia and Ghana, which dated many years back when Kwame Nkrumah worked to liberate the continent.

President Akufo-Addo said the warm relations that existed between Zambia and Ghana symbolised love and solidarity.

He said Ghana under his administration would continue to work closely with Zambia to improve existing relations for the betterment of people in the two states.

Mr Akufo-Addo said this was living up to the relationship that existed from the days before independence foe the two countries.

He said Dr Kaunda was an icon of this generation, and that Africa was one people and that he would work with his counterparts to defend the rights of the people on the continent.

*Culled from Times of Zambia

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Is the U.S. taxpayer paying for French neo-colonialism in Africa?
June 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
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FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON DURING VISIT TO MALI, MAY 12, 2017 (REUTERS)

FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON DURING VISIT TO MALI, MAY 12, 2017 (REUTERS)

At the end of his first week in office, newly-elected President Emmanuel Macron visited French troops in the West African country of Mali. Macron flew into Gao, the largest city in Mali’s north, where political unrest and ethnic strife have raged for more than five years. He met some of the 1,600 French soldiers stationed there, at the largest French military base outside of France.

The French had intervened in its former colony in January 2013 in an effort to drive out al-Qaeda-linked groups which had taken advantage of the unrest and conflict created by a rebellion of the ethnic Tuaregs in 2012 to try to take control of the central government in Bamako, Mali’s capital. This rebellion spread throughout the Sahel; an eco-climatic and biogeographic zone of transition in Africa between the Sahara to the north and the Sudanian Savanna to the south covering more than 3.053 million km².

Before one can explain the role played by the U.S. in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel, it is important to understand the continuing role of the French Government and army in the region. France established military bases in Africa during the colonial period and maintained a military presence in Africa after the ‘flag independence’ of its former colonies in the 1960s. The independence struggle of French Africa resulted, with the exception of Guinea, in the notional independence of the African states, each with a flag, a national anthem, a football team, and a continuing dependence on France under the terms of a Colonial Pact. The terms of this pact were agreed at the time of independence as a condition of the de-colonialization of the African states.

The Colonial Pact Agreement enshrined a number of special preferences for France in the political, commercial and defence processes in the African countries. On defence, it agreed to two types of continuing contact. The first was the agreement on military co-operation or Technical Military Aid (AMT) agreements. These covered education, training of soldiers and officers of African security forces.

The second type, secret and binding, were defence agreements supervised and implemented by the French Ministry of Defence, which served as a legal basis for French interventions within the African states by French military forces. These agreements allowed France to have pre-deployed troops and police in bases across Africa. In other words, French army and gendarme units present permanently and by rotation in bases and military facilities in Africa, run entirely by the French.

For the past half-century, the secretive and powerful “African Cell” has overseen France’s strategic interests in Africa, holding sway over a wide swath of former French colonies.

The Colonial Pact was much more than an agreement to station soldiers across Africa. It bound the economies of Africa to the control of France. It made the CFA franc the national currency in both former colonial regions of Africa and created a continuing, and enforceable, dependency on France.

In summary, the colonial pact maintained French control over the economies of the African states:

    • it took possession of their foreign currency reserves
    • it controlled the strategic raw materials of the country
    • it stationed troops in the country with the right of free passage
    • it demanded that all military equipment be acquired from France
    • it took over the training of the police and army
    • it required that French businesses be allowed to maintain monopoly enterprises in key areas (water, electricity, ports, transport, energy, etc.)
    • it required that in the award of government contracts in the African countries, French companies should be considered first
    • it didn’t matter if Africans could obtain better value for money elsewhere, French companies came first, and most often got contracts
    • the African states must make a contribution to France each year for the infrastructure created by the French colonial system and left behind when independence was granted

France not only set limits on the imports of a range of items from outside the franc zone but also set minimum quantities of imports from France. These treaties are still in force and operational.

The system is known as Françafrique. These policies of Françafrique were not concocted by the French National Assembly or the result of any democratic process. They were the result of policies conducted by a small group of people in the French President’s office, the ‘African Cell’, starting with Charles de Gaulle and his African specialist, Jacques Foccart. For the past half-century, the secretive and powerful “African Cell” has overseen France’s strategic interests in Africa, holding sway over a wide swath of former French colonies. Acting as a general command, the Cell uses France’s military as a hammer to install leaders it deems friendly to French interests and to remove those who pose a danger to the continuation of the system. Sidestepping traditional diplomatic channels, the Cell reports only to one person: the president.

GENERAL CHARLES DE GAULLE SPEAKING AT THE AFRICAN-FRENCH CONFERENCE IN BRAZZAVILLE, CONGO, 1944.

Under Chirac, African policy was run by the President himself. He worked with the “Cellule Africaine” composed of African Advisor Michel De Bonnecorse, Aliot-Marie (the Defence Minister) and DGSE chief Pierre Brochand. They were aided by a web of French agents assigned to work undercover in Africa, embedded in French companies like Bouygues, Delmas, Total, and other multinationals; pretending to be expatriate employees.

Under Sarkozy the “Cellule Africaine” was run by the President and included Bruno Joubert and an informal adviser and Sarkozy envoy, Robert Bourgi. Claude Guéant, secretary general of the presidency and later interior minister, played an influential role. Hollande’s “Cellule Africaine” was composed of his trusted friends: Jean-Yves Le Drian (Minister of Defence); the chief of his personal military staff, General Benoît Puga; the African Advisor Hélène Le Gal, and a number of lower-level specialists from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and the Treasury.

EMMANUEL MACRON MEETS MALI PRESIDENT IBRAHIM BOUBACAR KEITA IN MALI (REUTERS/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON)

It isn’t clear yet who will make up Macron’s African Cell.

What is important about the effects of Françafrique on African states is that the French resisted any locally-engendered change in the rules and had troops and gendarmes available in Africa to put down any leader with different ambitions. During the last 50 years, a total of 67 coups happened in 26 countries in Africa; 61% of the coups happened in Francophone Africa. The French began the ‘discipline’ of African leaders by ordering the assassination of Sylvanus Olympio in Togo in 1963 when he wanted his own currency instead of the CFA franc.

  • In June 1962, the first president of Mali, Modiba Keita, decreed that Mali was leaving the CFA zone and abandoning the Colonial Pact. As in Togo the French paid an African ex-Legionnaire to kill the president. In November 1968 Lieutenant Moussa Traore made a coup, killed Modiba Keita, and became President of Mali.
  • The French use of African ex-Legionnaires to remove Presidents who rebelled against the Colonial Pact, the CFA or Françafrique became commonplace. On January 1st, 1966, Jean-Bédel Bokassa, an ex French foreign Legionnaire, carried out a coup against David Dacko, the first President of the Central African Republic.
  • On January 3, 1966, Maurice Yaméogo, the first President of the Republic of Upper Volta, now called Burkina Faso, was victim of a coup carried out by Aboubacar Sangoulé Lamizana.
  • On 26 October 1972, Mathieu Kérékou who was a security guard to President Hubert Maga, the first President of the Republic of Benin, carried out a coup against the president.

There were several other assassinations managed by the French which took place without the use of Legionnaires. These included:

  • Marien Ngouabi, President of the Republic of the Congo was assassinated in 1977.
  • In Cameroon, Felix Moumie, who was the successor to previously-assassinated Reuben Um Nyobe, was murdered by thallium poisoning in Geneva on October, 15 1960. His killer was a French agent, William Bechtel, who posed as a journalist to meet Moumie in a restaurant and poisoned his drink.
  • François Tombalbaye, President of Chad was assassinated by soldiers commanded by French Army officers in 1975. Then, in December 1989 the French overthrew the government of Hissan Habre in Chad and installed Idriss Deby as President because Habre wanted to sell Chadian oil to U.S. oil companies.
  • Perhaps the most tragic was the assassination of Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso in 1987. Thomas Sankara seized power in a popular coup in 1983 in an attempt to break the country’s ties to its French colonial power. He was overthrown and assassinated in a coup led by his best friend and childhood companion Blaise Compaoré on French orders.
  • In March 2003 French and Chadian troops overthrew the elected government of President Ange-Felix Patasse and installed General François Bozize as President when Patasse announced that he wanted French troops out of the Central African Republic. A few years later the French deposed Bosize as well.
  • In 2009, the French supported a coup in Madagascar by Andry Rajoelina against the elected government of Marc Ravalomanana who wanted to open the country to investments by international companies in mining and petroleum and refused to allow Total to unilaterally raise its contracted price for oil by 75%.
  • The French used its troops in the Ivory Coast to provoke an attempted overthrow of the democratically-elected government of Gbagbo. When the rebellion to oust Gbagbo failed, the French troops divided the country into two areas and continued to plan coups against Gbagbo. When Gbagbo won the election in 2010, despite French interference, the French troops (and the UN ‘peacekeepers’) used helicopter gunships to attack the Ivorian citizenry and took over the country in 2011.

French Military Involvement in Africa

The current problem for France is that it maintains wide engagement of its military in operations outside of metropolitan France. These are very expensive. There are currently 36,000 French troops deployed in foreign territories. Such operations are known as “OPEX” for Opérations Extérieures (“External Operations”).

Since colonial days France has stationed its troops across Africa in permanent bases. These participate in controlling the internal politics of the African nations of Franćafrique as well as their borders.

These included:

  • Côte d’Ivoire, where the French troops in Operation Licorne and its helicopters recently overthrew the government of Gbagbo and supervised the killing of numerous Ivoirian citizens in collaboration with UN Peacekeepers.
  • Chad, with the Epervier mission. Established in 1986 to help re-establish peace and maintain Chad’s territorial integrity, and establish and protect the government of Deby.
  • France has been present in Mali since January 2013 in support of the Malian authorities in the fight against terrorist groups. 2,900 men were deployed with the Serval operation.
  • Since December 2013, France also has operated in the Central African Republic in support of the MISCA, the African Union peacekeeping operation. 1,600 men are deployed with the Sangaris operation.

France also supports the participation of African soldiers in peacekeeping operations through the Reinforcement of African Peacekeeping Capabilities (RECAMP) program.

These terrorists are not, for the most part, invading foreigners coming to seek domination, power or advantage. They are locals who have taken up the Salafist ideology to further their joint aims of setting up an Islamic State and in preserving the smuggling routes across the Sahel.

Recently the French have concentrated their troop deployments in West Africa to fight the rising threat of Islamic fundamentalism. Around 3,000 soldiers remain in the expansive Sahel area of Africa to check Islamist violence and arms trafficking, with no specified exit date. French forces are organised around four base camps, each with its own focus, and with headquarters based in the Chadian capital of Ndjamena. Their primary aim is not entirely the suppression of fundamentalist forces; their primary aim is to safeguard the French Areva uranium mines in Niger which provide France with fuel for its nuclear power programs.

This operation is known as Operation Barkhane (the name refers to a sickle-shaped sand dune). It is an effort to streamline French military activity in the region and to retain the military power but reduce the costs of duplication of tasks. Following diplomatic agreements with Chad, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania (the “Sahel G-5”), over 3,000 French troops are involved in securing the Sahel-Sahara region in cooperative operations involving G-5 troops. Other assets deployed in the operation include 20 helicopters, 200 armoured vehicles, 200 trucks, six fighter-jets, ten transport aircraft and three drones.

The initiation of Operation Barkhane brought to an end to four existing French operations in Africa; Licorne (Côte d’Ivoire, 2002-2017), Épervier (Chad, 1986-2014), Sabre (Burkina Faso, 2012-2014) and Serval (Mali, 2013-2014). Licorne is coming to an end in June 2017 (though 450 French troops will remain in Abidjan as part of a logistical base for French operations) while the other operations were folded into Operation Barkhane. Operation Sangaris (Central African Republic, 2013-present) is classified as a humanitarian rather than counter-terrorism mission and the deployment of some 2,000 French troops will be reduced 1,200 French soldiers who will remain in northern Mali. Existing French military deployments in Djibouti, Dakar (Senegal) and Libreville (Gabon) are expected to be scaled back significantly.

FRENCH SOLDIERS DURING CEREMONY IN BANGUI, DECEMBER 19, 2013, MARKING THE TRANSFER OF AUTHORITY OF THE MULTINATIONAL FORCE OF CENTRAL AFRICA (FOMAC) TO THE AFRICAN-LED INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT MISSION TO THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (MISCA), MANDATED BY THE UNITED NATIONS. (IVAN LIEMAN, AFP)

France’s problem in maintaining its military presence in Africa is that it has run out of money. It cannot afford to maintain such a strong military posture in Africa. It has been able to get the assistance of its European Union partners in a Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in programs like EURFOR in Chad which notionally confronts the terrorist organisations with European troops, but the funds needed to provide a real challenge to the terrorists are wanting.

The notion of intrinsic forces is important in the evaluation of warfare in the Sahel. These terrorists are not, for the most part, invading foreigners coming to seek domination, power or advantage. They are locals who have taken up the Salafist ideology to further their joint aims of setting up an Islamic State and in preserving the smuggling routes across the Sahel. The ancient salt caravans across the Sahel from Mali making their way to Europe and the Middle East have evolved into caravans of drugs, diamonds and gold from Mali to Europe and the Middle East. The large revenues earned from this smuggling have helped fund the AQIM, the MNLA, MUJAO and other bands and have generated financial and political support from the Wahhabi extremists of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. The collapse of Libya under Qaddafi left these smugglers without a protector so the radical extremists who supplanted Qaddafi offered the smugglers of the Sahel the same protection as before and lots of weapons.

The Sahel is still a major centre of illicit trafficking in goods. The tribes of Northern Mali are emboldened and protected by terrorist organisations in the barren wastes of Northern Mali and live, symbiotically, with the terrorist forces. Their paths are overlapping. While the tribes continue their smuggling, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) engages in illegal taxation in its areas of control, ISIS in Libya is active in human and narcotics trafficking, and Boko Haram generates significant revenues from trade in cocaine and heroin.

The trafficking overlaps the terrorist threats. It is matched by a large influx of weapons. Conflict Armament Research, a UK organization that monitors armaments transfers and supply chains, published an important report in late 2016, “Investigating Cross-Border Weapon Transfers in the Sahel.” The report confirms that a flow of weapons from Libyan dictator Qaddafi’s stockpiles after his fall played a major role in the Tuareg and Islamist insurgencies in Mali in 2012.

That same stockpile supplied weapons systems that included man-portable air defence systems to insurgents throughout the Sahel region. But, the report documents that weapons flows since 2011 are no longer predominately from Libya. Instead, the weapons now come from African countries with weak control of their own weapons stockpiles, notably the Central African Republic and Ivory Coast. Sudan has also been an important source since 2015 of weapons used by insurgents in the Sahel. The report posits that the jihadist attacks in 2015 and 2016 on hotels and government installations specifically in Mali, Burkina Faso, and the Ivory Coast also included weapons from a common source in the Middle East, these Iraqi assault rifles and Chinese-manufactured weapons are also used by the Islamic State.

The Logistical Challenge In Opposing the Terrorist Threat

The terrain of the Sahel does not lend itself to conventional warfare. There are broad expanses of sand and dunes, broken up by small villages and, occasionally, a town or city. There are no petrol stations, wells, repair shops, water stores, food stocks or fuel reserves in most of the region. Trucks and buses, as well as conventional armour, are difficult to transport in such a terrain. Air bases are usually suited only to small aircraft and lack the scissor-tables, cranes, fork-lifts and loading equipment which allow the free flow of cargo.

On the positive side, in the war in the Sahel the lack of ground cover and a tree canopy in the region enables a strategy of using the most modern weapons, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) which can seek out, observe and destroy small and mobile enemy forces. This has meant that the logistical demands of the war in the Sahel has generated a strategy of the use of high-tech weaponry deployed by Western forces combined with African troops on the ground as garrison forces for towns and cities.

Warfare, in general, in Africa requires a policy of expeditionary war. This is a polite way of saying that massed troop formations have no real use as there are few opposing forces of equal size to fight. African insurgents are bands and groups of often irregular soldiers. Across most of Africa troops must pass through jungles, deserts, mangrove swamps and hostile terrain to get to the enemy, often under heavy fire from the bush. The enemy of the peacekeepers is rarely an army battalion of any strength. Large-scale troop concentrations can sit in a city or town and maintain order, but they rarely can take the battle to the enemy. African armies have virtually no equipment which will allow them to fight an expeditionary war. This is a war of helicopters – in and out movement of troops to desert encampments or remote landing zones or the shooting up of ground formations by helicopter gunships when the enemy can be located.

This is how African wars are fought. Except for rented MI-8 and MI-24 helicopters leased from the Ukraine and Russia, most of Africa is bereft of air mobile equipment. They are certainly bereft of African pilots (other than South Africans and a small band of Angolans and Nigerians). There are very few African military aircraft capable of fighting or sustaining either air-to-air combat or performing logistics missions. Either they don’t exist or they are in such a state of disrepair that African combat pilots are unwitting kamikazes.

FRENCH HELICOPTER FLYING OVER A RIVER IN MALI. (MARC TESSENSOHN / BUNDESWEHR)

There are very few airbases in the bush which allow cargo planes to land safely when a war is on given that every rebel group has its share of rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and mortars. There are no fuel reserves at the airports outside most African capitals, and there are no repair facilities. There is no air-to-air refuelling, except that provided by foreign militaries. Indeed, except for Denel in South Africa and the main airbase in Ethiopia there are no places on the continent which perform sophisticated aircraft or weapons maintenance.

Most Western European armies themselves don’t have sufficient helicopters or heavy-lift capacities. The Africans have less. This lack of transport is critical to moving out the wounded. This takes its toll on the soldiers. This is mirrored in the lack of effective battlefield communications. In Africa the phone system doesn’t work in peacetime; why should it work in a period of war? Sending orders and receiving information between the central staff and outlying units is a ‘sometimes’ process. It sometimes takes days to contact units operating far from command headquarters.

Despite the good wishes of the French and the other Europeans, success relies on an active U.S. participation and engagement. The French have requested the support of the U.S. military (through NATO) in its ambition to retain control of its former African colonial empire.

Europeans are not really ready to assist in the Sahel, despite EU plans. In 2015 when Angela Merkel made the grand gesture of sending weapons to Kurdish rebels fighting ISIL, she learned that her cargo planes couldn’t get off the ground. At the time, the German military confessed that just half of its Transall transport aircraft were fit to fly. Of its 190 helicopters, just 41 were ready to be deployed. Of its 406 Marder tanks, 280 were out of use. In 2016 it emerged that fewer than half of Germany’s 66 Tornado aircraft were airworthy. The French Transall fleet is out of date and few are being replaced.

FRENCH TRANSALL DEPLOYED TO MALI. THE SAHEL REGION IS ARID, AND KNOWN FOR ITS DUST STORMS, WHICH CAN CREATE WEAR AND TEAR ON MILITARY EQUIPMENT.

This matches the debacle of the European military effort to conduct warfare on its own; starting in Kosovo. The Europeans wanted to show they had some independent military capability. The amount of bombs, missiles and other tactical devices used in the first two weeks of the Kosovo campaign exceeded the total arsenal storage of the totality of the European Community. The amount spent per day on the bombing of Kosovo, including indirect costs, amounted to over $12.5 million. It would have been far cheaper to buy Serbia than to bomb it. NATO could have offered each Serb $5,000 a head plus moving costs and still saved money. Under NATO rules the US was obliged to pay two-thirds of these costs.

This was just as true in Libya. The Europeans (calling themselves NATO) quickly ran out of ammunition, bombs and money. The US spent almost $1.5 billion in the first wave of attacks by the French and British. As Secretary of Defence Gates said in his speech, “Despite more than 2 million troops in uniform – not counting the U.S. military – NATO has struggled, at times desperately, to sustain a deployment of 25,000 to 45,000 troops — not just in boots on the ground, but in crucial support assets such as helicopters; transport aircraft; maintenance; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and much more.” He went on, “We have the spectacle of an air operations centre designed to handle more than 300 sorties a day struggling to launch about 150. Furthermore, the mightiest military alliance in history is only 11 weeks into an operation against a poorly armed regime in a sparsely populated country – yet many allies are beginning to run short of munitions, requiring the U.S., once more, to make up the difference.”

That is the key point in analysing the struggle against terrorism in the Sahel. Despite the good wishes of the French and the other Europeans, success relies on an active U.S. participation and engagement. The French have requested the support of the U.S. military (through NATO) in its ambition to retain control of its former African colonial empire.

There is an ironic side to the French requiring assistance from NATO to support its neo-colonial policies. France withdrew from being a full member of NATO in 1966, and remained separated for decades. The reason for withdrawal was that France believed NATO was not militarily supportive enough. France’s effort to develop its own non-NATO defence capability, including the development of its own nuclear arsenal in the 1960s, was to ensure that the French military could operate its own colonial and post-colonial conflicts more freely. Under de Gaulle, France had attempted to draw NATO into France’s colonial conflicts (on France’s side). De Gaulle claimed that Algeria was part of France and thus was part of NATO. Therefore, NATO was required to intervene to assist France in putting down Algerian independence movements. After the British and Americans refused to assist with French colonialism, de Gaulle expelled NATO troops from France and set up a more independent French military. Now that France is back in NATO it is making the same request of its partners as De Gaulle.

The Germans lead the EUTM Mali, which trains Mali’s armed forces, and EUCAP Sahel Mali, which is training and advising the country’s police, gendarmerie and National Guard. The Eucap Sahel Mission, under the command of the German diplomat Albrecht Conze, is co-ordinating European aid to the region. Gunther Nooke, Angela Merkel’s representative to Africa, a Commissioner for Africa at the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, has proposed a “German Marshall Plan” for Africa to relieve a continent struggling with terrorist bands in the region coupled with a drought which is causing mass famine. However, no money is yet attached to such a plan.

WOMEN AND CHILDREN AWAITING AID IN MALI. (UNHCR IMAGE)

The US has its own strategic interests in fighting Islamic terrorists in the Sahel because they pose a major danger to US business interests in the area; a threat to political stability in Africa as a whole which has produced a human tide of refugees. Most importantly, terrorism in the Sahel produces a major source of revenue to the international terrorist structures of Al-Qaeda, Daesh and the myriad sub-groups of these in the Middle East as well as Africa.

The US has agreed to support the French and European efforts to fight terrorism in the Sahel but has been unwilling to commit US regular forces to fighting on the ground. It has offered training, equipment and Special Forces participation in military programs in the Sahel and frequently arranges mass exercises to make sure the trained remain so.

The U.S. Military Presence in Africa

The US is at war in Africa and has been so for many years. The US has had practical experience in African wars. America has been fighting wars in Africa since the 1950s – in Angola, the DRC, Somalia, the Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Morocco, Libya, Djibouti to name but a few countries.

In some countries they used US troops, but in most cases the US financed, armed and supervised the support of indigenous forces. In its support of the anti-MPLA forces in Angola it sent arms and equipment to the UNITA opposition. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Larry Devlin of the CIA was an unofficial Minister of Mobutu’s government; the US ran its own air force in the Congo at WIGMO.

US airmen supported the South African forces in Kwando, Fort Doppies and Encana bases in the Caprivi from WIGMO. At these bases one could also find soldiers from Southern Rhodesia (in their DC3s) and German, French, Portuguese and other NATO troops. One of the largest of these bases was at Wheelus Field, in Libya. Wheelus Air Base was located on the Mediterranean coast, just east of Tripoli, Libya. With its 4,600 Americans, the US Ambassador to Libya once called it “a Little America.” During the Korean War, Wheelus was used by the US Strategic Air Command, later becoming a primary training ground for NATO forces. Strategic Air Command bomber deployments to Wheelus began on 16 November 1950. SAC bombers conducted 45-day rotational deployments at this staging areas for strikes against the Soviet Union. Wheelus became a vital link in SAC war plans for use as a bomber, tanker refuelling and recon-fighter base. The US left in 1970.

Another giant U.S. base was Kagnew Field in Asmara. The base was established in 1943 as an Army radio station, home to the U.S. Army’s 4th Detachment of the Second Signal Service Battalion. Kagnew Station became home for over 5,000 American citizens at a time during its peak years of operation during the 1960s. Kagnew Station operated until April 29, 1977, when the last Americans left.

A PAIR OF AIRMEN RETURNING TO THE GROUND AFTER THEIR PLANE AT WHEELUS FIELD, LIBYA, 1957. THE AIRFIELD WAS USED TO TEST THE NEW TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE US MILITARY. (NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC IMAGE)

However, with the end of the Cold War, the US has found itself fighting a much more difficult and insidious war; the war with Al Qaeda. This is much less of a war that involves military might and prowess. It is a war against the spread of drug dealing, illicit diamonds, illicit gold, human trafficking and the sheltering of Salafists (Islamic militants) who use these methods to acquire cash which has sustained the Al Qaeda organisation and now Daesh throughout the world. It is a conflict between organised international crime and states seeking to maintain their legitimacy.

There are now several ‘narco-states’ in Africa. The first to fall was Guinea-Bissau where scores of Colombian Cartel leaders moved in to virtually take over the state. Every day an estimated one tonne of pure Colombian cocaine was thought to be transiting through the mainland’s mangrove swamps and the chain of islands that make up Guinea-Bissau, most of it en route to Europe. This was equally true of Guinea under President Lansana Conte whose wife (and her brother) was shown to be kingpins in the Guinean drug trade. Many in the National Army were compromised and active participants.

This drug trade has spread to Senegal, Togo, Ghana and Nigeria. There are very few jails anywhere in the world which are not home to West African ‘drug mules’ tried or awaiting trial or execution. This drug trade is spreading like wildfire in West Africa, offering rich remuneration to African leaders, generals or warlords well in excess of anything these Africans could hope to earn in normal commerce.

PRES. BILL CLINTON, THIES MILITARY BASE, SENEGAL, APRIL 1998, WITH US ARMY AFRICA CMDR. IN CHIEF GEN. JAMES JAMERSON.

According to a US Congressional Research Service Study published in November 2010, Washington has dispatched anywhere between hundreds and several thousand combat troops, dozens of fighter planes and warships to buttress client dictatorships or to unseat adversarial regimes in dozens of countries, almost on a yearly basis. The record shows the US armed forces intervened in Africa forty-seven times prior to the now-concluded LRA endeavour. The countries receiving one or more US military intervention include both Congos, Libya, Chad, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Rwanda, Liberia, Central African Republic, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea. Between the mid 1950’s to the end of the 1970’s, only four overt military operations were recorded, though large scale proxy and clandestine military operations were pervasive.

Under Reagan-Bush Sr. (1980-1991) military intervention accelerated, rising to eight, not counting the large scale clandestine ‘special forces’ and proxy wars in Southern Africa. Under the Clinton regime, US militarized intervention in Africa took off. Between 1992 and 2000, seventeen armed incursions took place, including a large-scale invasion of Somalia and military backing for the Rwandan Kagame regime. Clinton intervened in Liberia, Gabon, Congo and Sierra Leone to prop up long-standing troubled regimes. He bombed the Sudan and dispatched military personnel to Kenya and Ethiopia to back proxy clients assaulting Somalia. Under Bush Jr. fifteen US military interventions took place, mainly in Central and East Africa.

Most of the US’ African outreach is disproportionally built on military links to client military chiefs. The Pentagon has military ties with fifty-three African countries. The Bush Administration announced in 2002 that Africa was a “strategic priority in fighting terrorism”. Henceforth, US foreign policy strategists, with the backing of both liberal and neoconservative Congress members, moved to centralize and coordinate a military policy on a continent-wide basis forming the African Command (AFRICOM) and Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA). These organise African armies, euphemistically called “co-operative partnerships,” to support anti-terrorist activities in the continent. U.S. special operations teams are now deployed to 23 African countries and the U.S. operates bases across the continent.

A Ghanaian instructor gives a brief to U.S. Soldiers during  at the Jungle Warfare School in Akim Oda, Ghana May 20.

In his 2015 article for TomDispatch.com, Nick Turse disclosed that there are dozens of US military installations in Africa, besides Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti (the Main Operating Base). These numerous cooperative security locations (CSLs), forward operating locations (FOLs) and other outposts have been built by the US in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Senegal, the Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda. According to Turse, the US military also had access to locations in Algeria, Botswana, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Zambia and other countries.

Gen. Charles F. Wald divided these into three types:

    • Main Operating Base (MOB) is an overseas, permanently manned, well protected base, used to support permanently deployed forces, and with robust sea and/or air access.
    • Forward Operating Site (FOS) is a scalable, “warm” facility that can support sustained operations, but with only a small permanent presence of support or contractor personnel. A FOS will host occasional rotational forces and many contain pre-positioned equipment.
    • Cooperative Security Location (CSL) is a host-nation facility with little or no permanent U.S. personnel presence, which may contain pre-positioned equipment and/or logistical arrangements and serve both for security cooperation activities and contingency access.

There are a large number of UAV bases as well.

AFRICOM’s two forward operating sites are Djibouti’s Camp Lemonnier and a base on the United Kingdom’s Ascension Island off the west coast of Africa. Described as “enduring locations” with a sustained troop presence and “U.S.-owned real property,” they serve as hubs for staging missions across the continent and for supplying the growing network of outposts there.

One of the most important of these bases is in Niamey, the capital of Niger, and nearby at Agadez, into which the U.S. has just spent $100 million on improvements. N’Djamena, in Chad, has been heavily used in the battle against Boko Haram.

AFRICOM’s Programs

The main thrust of AFRICOM programs involves the training and equipping of local forces. It engages in regular exercises with African armies and conducts JCET training programs. Most of these involve working alongside and mentoring local allies.

SOCAFRICA’s showcase effort, for instance, is Flintlock, an annual training exercise in Northwest Africa involving elite American, European, and African forces, which provides the command with a plethora of publicity. More than 1,700 military personnel from 30-plus nations took part in Flintlock 2016.

AMISOM TROOPS IN SOMALIA. AMISOM IS A COLLABORATION BETWEEN THE AFRICAN UNION, UN AND THE SOMALIAN GOVERNMENT. AMISOM’S 22,000 TROOPS ARE PRESENT TO FIGHT AL SHABAB, A EXTREMIST PARAMILITARY GROUP.

There are a wide range of programs in addition to the U.S. participation in various UN programs like AMISOM in Somalia:

Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative/Partnership (formerly Pan Sahel Initiative) (TSCTI) – Targeting threats to US oil/natural gas operations in the Sahara region Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Tunisia, Nigeria, and Libya.

Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance Program (ACOTA) (formerly African Crisis Response Initiative) (ACRI)) Part of “Global Peace” Operations Initiative (GPOI) – Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia.

International Military Training and Education (IMET) – Brings African military officers to US military academies and schools for indoctrination; Top countries: Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa.

Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) (formerly Africa Center for Security Studies) – Part of National Defence University, Washington; provides indoctrination for “next generation” African military officers; this is the “School of the Americas” for Africa, all of Africa is covered.

Foreign Military Sales Program – Sells US military equipment to African nations via Defence Security Cooperation Agency; Top recipients: Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Zimbabwe.

African Coastal and Border Security Program – Provides fast patrol boats, vehicles, electronic surveillance equipment, night vision equipment to littoral states.

Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) – Military command based at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti; aimed at putting down rebellions in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Somaliland and targets Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti.

Joint Task Force Aztec Silence (JTFAS) – Targets terrorism in West and North Africa. Joint effort of EUCOM and Commander Sixth Fleet (Mediterranean); based in Sigonella, Sicily and Tamanrasset air base in southern Algeria; Gulf of Guinea Initiative, US Navy Maritime Partnership Program Trains African militaries in port and off-shore oil platform security; Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, Sao Tome & Principe, Togo.

Tripartite Plus Intelligence Fusion Cell – Based in Kisangani, DRC to oversee “regional security,” i.e. ensuring US and Israeli access to Congo’s gold, diamonds, uranium, platinum, and coltan; Congo-Kinshasa, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda.

Base access for Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs) and Forward Operating Locations (FOLs) – U.S. access to airbases and other facilities in Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Tunisia, Namibia, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia, Algeria.

Africa Regional Peacekeeping (ARP) – Liaison with African “peacekeeping” military commands East Africa Regional Integration Team: Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania. North Africa Regional Integration Team: Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya. Central Africa Regional Integration Team: Congo (Kinshasa), Congo (Brazzaville), Chad.

Regional Integration Teams: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola. West Africa Regional Integration Team: Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Niger, Western Sahara.

Africa Partnership Station (APS) – Port visits by USS Fort McHenry and High Speed Vessel (HSV) Swift. Part of US Navy’s Global Fleet Station Initiative. Training and liaison with local military personnel to ensure oil production security Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, Sao Tome & Principe.

Claiming that this was a battle against “terrorism” the French were able to pass on the costs of their reoccupation of their former colonies using European, UN and, mainly, US taxpayer money.

The U.S. Taxpayer Is Paying For French Neo-Colonialism

The U.S. military is engaged in over 34 nations in Africa in the fight against terrorism and the growth of the various Al-Qaeda and ISIL affiliates in the region. One of the key problems in conducting this ongoing battle is that the political situation in each francophone country is determined by the needs of Françafrique to keep their chosen President in power; not necessarily what Africans want. A good example is Mali, where the French intervened militarily in January 2013 to stop an uprising of various militant groups in the north.

As the price for this assistance, France signed a new defence agreement with Mali, which would allow it to maintain a considerable military presence in the country. The agreement’s eleven pages of mostly general statements say that French military troops and civil servants will be allowed to stay in Mali, build military bases, operate, if needed, with Malian troops, etc., for the next five years. The five years’ term, as written in the document, is renewable.

This was a great triumph for France. Ever since the inauguration of the first President of Mali, Modibo Keïta, Mali had resisted the military aspects of the Colonial Pact. The last French soldier departed Mali in 1961. Keita refused to sign the defence protocols. Keita didn’t allow French military bases or troops on Malian soil. Even after the French had him assassinated by Lt. Moussa Traore, the Malians continued to refuse the defence pact. Traore’s successors Alpha Oumar Konare and Amadou Toumany Toure also refused, despite huge diplomatic and economic pressure. The most France could get in Mali was a 1985 military cooperation accord which allowed France to give military training and technical assistance to Malian troops.

Now, after engaging French troops to fight the Islamic forces in the North, France took over military control of Mali. After having defeated the invaders, and chasing them out of Timbuktu and other northern cities, and disarming factions of the rebellions, the French military banned the Malian army from Kidal, the central city of the northern Azawad region. The territory is claimed by different rebel groups, but it is under the de facto control of the mainly Tuareg MNLA (National Movement for Liberation of the Azawad). France allowed the rebels to occupy the area, reorganise and later gain a place at the post-war negotiations table.

France has openly supported the MNLA for a long time and insisted they be a party to the negotiations with the Malian government who did not want to negotiate with the Tuareg rebels. Then the French put on the agenda the division of Mali into two parts, despite the Malian refusal. There was a short interval of peace before hostilities started again.

The French, realising they could no longer afford the military costs of the Malian war, persuaded the UN to send peacekeepers to Mali. In December 2013, France announced a 60% reduction in its troops deployed in Mali to 1,000 by March 2014. Interim peace deals were agreed but were quickly broken. By August 2016 there continued to be attacks on foreign forces. More than 100 peacekeepers have died since the UN mission’s deployment in Mali in 2013, making it one of the deadliest places to serve for the UN.

UN PEACEKEEPERS CARRY COFFINS AT BAMAKO, FEBRUARY 17, 2016, AT A TRIBUTE TO SEVEN GUINEAN UN SOLDIERS KILLED. (HABIBOU KOUYATE / AFP)

The French were satisfied that the bulk of the expenses for the capturing of Mali in the web of Françafrique were being paid for by the “international community” (the UN, the US, and ECOWAS). In 2015, the European Union also joined to promote France’s ambitions. France got its military pact with Mali and control of the country. This seemed such a good idea, France then expanded its ambitions to pursue the military options of Operation Barkhane based in Chad to cover Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger and make sure that the costs of this expansion of the reach of Françafrique were being passed on to the ‘international community’; the large part of which is the US taxpayer (directly and indirectly).

The same situation emerged in Niger and the Central African Republic. The French intervened militarily in domestic disputes which they created, and took over de facto control of the countries. Claiming that this was a battle against “terrorism” the French were able to pass on the costs of their reoccupation of their former colonies using European, UN and, mainly, US taxpayer money. Both African countries remain at war with domestic enemies in conflicts created by France and perpetuated by French policies towards reinstalling the rigours of Françafrique; all in the name of counter-terrorism. The UN, the EU and the U.S. don’t get a chance to decide who is the enemy in francophone Africa; this is decided by France. They only get to pay for it and use their military to train the soldiers who keep Françafrique in place.

Perhaps NATO will soon make it clear to the new Macron Government that the United States is capable of choosing its own enemies and, as in the time of DeGaulle, it is not in the business of preserving French neo-colonial rule on the continent.

*Dr. Gary K. Busch, originally did the article  for Lima Charlie News

Dr. Busch has had a varied career-as an international trades unionist, an academic, a businessman and a political intelligence consultant. He was a professor and Head of Department at the University of Hawaii and has been a visiting professor at several universities. He was the head of research in international affairs for a major U.S. trade union and Assistant General Secretary of an international union federation. His articles have appeared in the Economist Intelligence Unit, Wall Street Journal, WPROST, Pravda and several other news journals. He is the editor and publisher of the web-based news journal of international relations www.ocnus.net.

Lima Charlie provides global news, insight & analysis by military veterans and service members Worldwide.For up-to-date news, please follow them on twitter at @LimaCharlieNews

 

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Why migration from west Africa may start to slow
June 18, 2017 | 0 Comments

FOR 165 Senegalese, the journey of a lifetime ended in a fluorescent-lit, green-carpeted barn at the edge of Dakar’s international airport.

Dressed uniformly in new white sneakers and hoodies reading “RISING” in large letters, they perched on plastic chairs and ate their first meal back on home soil out of foil containers.

They had just returned from Tripoli, in Libya, on a flight put on by the International Organisation for Migration, a UN body. Of the 165, all but one were men, and all were young. They had been trying to get onto boats bound for Europe. Instead they had spent months—over a year for some—living on starvation rations in Libyan prisons.

And yet by their accounts, these are the lucky ones. “Today, to be back here, it is as good as if I made it to Europe,” says Mohammed Sylla, a 30-year-old trader. “Why did I want to go to Italy anyway? I was stupid.” He headed for Libya after trying to get to Europe through Morocco, but the moment he crossed the border from Algeria, it became “a hell”.

He describes being beaten up repeatedly by soldiers, and hiding in a forest for six days without food. Two other migrants he was with, from Guinea, were shot by militiamen in front of him. “I thought I would die for sure,” he says, his voice dipping to a whisper. Black people are imprisoned, he continues, and sold on for labour or ransom.

Centuries ago, Senegal, on the western edge of Africa, was a stopping point for European ships taking slaves to the new world. On Goree Island, off the coast of Dakar, tourists can gawp at buildings where human beings were once kept like cattle. Today, Senegalese go on grim journeys of their own volition, in hope of a better life. Of 37,000 arrivals to Italy in the first four months of this year, around 7% were from Senegal. In that time the number of migrants, mostly from the Middle East, crossing to Greece from Turkey dropped by over 90% compared with last year. By contrast, the number going to Italy increased—most of them from west Africa.

In Senegal it is possible to get a hint of what leads people to risk the journey to Europe. Kayar, a fishing village about 60km (40 miles) outside Dakar, is a place from where people have been seeking a way north for decades. On the beach, hundreds of wooden pirogues painted in dazzling colours crowd the sand; the buzz of saws at makeshift workshops fills the air. But fishing provides work only for a few months of the year, leaving young men with little to do. Instead, they dream up schemes for travelling north.

Ali Diong, a 35-year-old fisherman, often chats on WhatsApp with friends who have made it to Spain and Italy. “They can send money to their wives, they can pay for baptisms,” he says. “We who are still here depend entirely on our parents.” Every migrant’s plan is different, he says, but in order to pay for their journeys, people sell assets, such as their boats or motorcycles, or families chip in to raise the fare. It is risky, he admits. “But here there is nothing. You have to do something, and emigration is all you have.”

Kayar also offers hints of how illegal migration can be curbed. A decade ago, the area was a transit point for people trying to travel 1,500km across the Atlantic to the Spanish Canary Islands. According to Aliou Ndoye, the town’s assistant mayor, at the peak of that migration, in 2006, some 973 men from Kayar—which has a population of just 27,000—tried to cross. Hundreds of people died; some pirogues full of bleached corpses washed up in the Caribbean. Today, that route is all but closed, thanks to a deal Spain struck with Senegal to return migrants and patrol the coast for boats. Those who want to try to get to Europe face an even tougher journey. And from Kayar, fewer are going. Mr Ndoye reckons the number who have left this year is under 100. Those who do so now mostly head to Morocco instead of Libya. That is Mr Diong’s plan: “The desert is very dangerous, but I know the sea,” he reasons.

The trouble for European countries, desperate to curb the flow of boats across the Mediterranean, is that the message hasn’t reached other parts of Senegal yet. Jo-Lind Roberts-Sene, the representative of the IOM in Dakar, says that closer to the capital people have become more wary. But in more remote parts of the country, the idea that Europe is El Dorado persists. The majority of migrants going to Europe via Libya these days are leaving from south-east Senegal, which is separated from the rest of the country by the Gambia, and is far poorer. Migrants from there are usually farmers, and do not have much formal schooling. “They think they are aware of the dangers,” says Ms Roberts-Sene; but those who come back tell shocking tales.

That is certainly true of Thierno Mendy, a 37-year-old from eastern Senegal. “If I knew the journey would be like it was, I would never have done it,” he says. But failure is shameful, and many migrants are desperate to believe they have a chance. Massyla Dieng, a 50-year-old in Kayar who lived in Italy for ten years, says he has given up trying to persuade young men not to go. “When I say it is tough, they treat me like an enemy. They think I want them to fail.” Unfortunately, whatever the dangers may be, as long as a few are making it to Europe, the dream will never fully die.

This article appeared in the Middle East and Africa section of the print edition under the headline “What drives the huddled masses”
*Economist
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Former winners Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Zambia lose at home
June 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Oluwashina Okeleji*

Tokelo Rantie put South Africa 1-0 up against Nigeria in Uyo

Tokelo Rantie put South Africa 1-0 up against Nigeria in Uyo

Former African champions Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Zambia all suffered home defeats on Saturday in their first group qualifiers for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

Nigeria, who failed to qualify for the last two editions of the tournament, fell to their first competitive defeat to South Africa, losing 2-0 in Uyo in the Group E match.

Second-half goals from Tokelo Rantie and Percy Tau sealed a deserved win for Bafana Bafana against three-time African champions Nigeria.

Rantie opened the scoring with a brilliant close-range header in the 54th minute.

Tau broke free in a swift counter-attack, putting the ball around goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi before slotting home in the 81st minute.

Nigeria fluffed chances in the first half as Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo and Simon Moses failed to score.

It was second time lucky for coach Stuart Baxter who was in charge when Bafana beat Nigeria 2-1 in the 2004 Nelson Mandela challenge at home.

Friday: Grp L: Cape Verde v Uganda (postponed to Sunday)
Grp A: Sudan 1-3 Madagascar Grp G: DR Congo 3-1 Congo
Grp E: Libya 5-1 Seychelles Grp I: Burkina Faso v Angola (1800)
Saturday: Grp C: Mali v Gabon (1900)
Grp B: Malawi 1-0 Comoros Grp A: Senegal v Equatorial Guinea (2000)
Grp C: Burundi 3-0 South Sudan Grp H: Ivory Coast 2-3 Guinea
Grp K: Zambia 0-1 Mozambique Sunday:
Grp I: Botswana 0-1 Mauritania Grp G: Zimbabwe v Liberia (1300)
Grp B: Cameroon 1-0 Morocco Grp H: CAR v Rwanda (1400)
Grp J: Niger 0-0 Swaziland Grp D: Benin v The Gambia (1500)
Grp K: Guinea-Bissau 1-0 Namibia Grp F: Ghana v Ethiopia (1530)
Grp E: Nigeria 0-2 South Africa Grp D: Algeria v Togo (2100)
Grp F: Sierra Leone 2-1 Kenya Grp J: Tunisia v Egypt (2200)
Grp L: Tanzania 1-1 Lesotho

The twelve group winners plus the best three group runners-up will qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations along with the hosts Cameroon.

Seydou Doumbia’s brace was not enough for Ivory Coast as the Elephants were beaten 3-2 at home by Guinea in Group H.

Doumbia gave the home side a 15th minute lead, before Guinea equalised in the 32nd minute.

Naby Keita’s shot was spilled by goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo and Abdoulaye Sadio Diallo pounced on the rebound to put the visitors level.

Doumbia grabbed his second goal in the 62nd minute, but four minutes later France-based Francois Kamano made it 2-2.

However, the impressive Naby Keita sealed the stunning win for Guinea in the 79th minute to complete a bad start for new Ivory Coast manager Marc Wilmots.

The defeat for Ivory Coast in Bouake came just five days after the death of former Ivorian international Cheick Tiote.

In Ndola, former winners Zambia were left stunned by a late goal as they lost 1-0 to Mozambique at home in Group K.

Mozambique left it until the 89th minute to earn their first ever win over Chipolopolo with Germany-based Stanley Ratifo scoring the goal.

2012 African champions Zambia dominated the encounter for long spells but failed to turn their superiority into goals.

The Mambas made them pay for their profligacy when Ratifo finished brilliantly from a cut-back to stun the home side.

Elias Pelembe should have doubled the lead in added time but goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene rushed out of his box to stop the Bidvest Wits winger.

Coach Abel Xavier and the Mambas held on to celebrate a first triumph over Zambia in 18 attempts.

In the other Group K game, Guinea-Bissau beat visitors Namibia 1-0 thanks to a powerful header from Jerson in the 24th minute.

Veteran striker Aristide Bance scored twice as Burkina Faso beat Angola 3-1 in Group I.

 

Aristide Bance
Aristide Bance struck twice for Burkina Faso in their win over Angola.

Bance’s opening goal in the 22nd minute was quickly cancelled out by Gelson Dala a minute later.

Bance then restored the lead from the penalty spot just before half-time with Chelsea winger Betrand Traore scoring the third in the 79th minute.

Also in Group I, Mohamed Abdellahi Soudani’s second-half strike sealed a famous 1-0 win for Mauritania away to Botswana.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Gerald Phiri Junior scored the only goal as Malawi began their Group B campaign with a 1-0 home win over Comoros in Blantyre.

The South Africa-based winger hit a free-kick from outside the 18 yard box which flew over the wall and into the right corner on 31 minutes .

The flames had several chances but failed to punish a resolute Comoros.

It is a first competitive win for Malawi’s coach Ronny Van Geneugden who took over in April.

Malawi have taken an early advantage in the group after hosts Cameroon beat Herve Renard’s Morocco 1-0 in Yaounde.

Vincent Aboubakar
Vincent Aboubakar scored Cameroon’s only goal in their 1-0 win over Morocco

A 29th minute goal from Vincent Aboubakar gave the Indomitable Lions the victory which puts Morocco bottom of Group B after the opening round of matches.

Cameroon qualify automatically as hosts for the 2019 Nations Cup, but their group matches still count as qualifiers for their opponents.

After the victory, Cameroon’s coach Hugo Broos confirmed that defender Oyongo Bitolo would definitely miss the Fifa Confederations Cup later this month.

The player was stretchered off the pitch after suffering a knee ligament injury which Broos said would keep him out of the game for seven months.

Burundi began their 2019 Nations Cup campaign in triumphant fashion by beating South Sudan 3-0 in Group C on Saturday.

The Swallows secured all three points with first half goals.

Cedric Amissi set the tone with the opening goal in the 15th minute.

Gael Duhayinnavyi added the second ten minutes later before Fiston Abdul Razak made it three in the 30th minute.

Mali face Gabon later on Saturday in the other Group C match.

In Freetown, goals from Julius Woobay and and Umaru Bangura penalty helped Sierra Leone make a winning start to their Group F campaign as they beat Kenya 2-1.

Kenya had Brian Mandela sent off but they did get a consolation goal through Michael Olunga. Ghana take on Ethiopia in that group on Sunday.

Spain-based Cedric Bakambu grabbed a brace as DR Congo beat neighbours Congo Brazzaville 3-1 in Group G.

Bakambu scored opened the scoring in the 20th minute.

Thievy Bifouma equalised for the visitors on the stroke of half-time.

Bakambu grabbed his second after 56th minute before Newcastle defender Chancel Mbemba ensured victory in the 90th minute.

The Group L match between Cape Verde and Uganda – scheduled for Saturday – had to be postponed to Sunday after some members of Uganda’s squad were delayed in Dakar en route to Praia.

In the other Group L game Tanzania drew 1-1 with Lesotho in Dar es Salaam.

Mbwana Samata put Tanzania ahead with Thapelo Tale hitting the equaliser for the visitors.

On Friday, Libya and Madagascar opened the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign with impressive victories.

Libya beat Seychelles 5-1 in Group A and in the first qualifier for Cameroon 2019, Madagascar were 3-1 winners away to Sudan in Al-Obeid in Group E.

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Ecowas agrees to admit Morocco to West African body
June 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
Morocco's King Mohammed VI is strengthening his country's ties with the rest of Africa

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI is strengthening his country’s ties with the rest of Africa

West African regional group Ecowas has in principle approved Morocco’s membership application despite the country being in North Africa.

But Ecowas leaders meeting in Liberia said the implications of its membership still needed to be considered before Morocco could formally join.

King Mohammed VI was not at the summit because Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been invited.

Morocco’s application comes after it rejoined the African Union in January.

Morocco left the continental body in 1984 after it recognised the independence of Western Sahara.

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.

Ivory Coast President Alasanne Ouattara has confirmed that the decision had been agreed in principle but the details still had to be worked out.

Morocco, along with Tunisia which is seeking observer status with the organisation 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 senior Ecowas source told the BBC.

Rival bodyguards ‘clash’

Ecowas is made up of 15 West African nations, none of which shares a border with Morocco.

Members enjoy free trade and movement of people.

King Mohammed VI last week announced he would not be attending the summit in Liberia, because of the presence of Israel’s prime minister.

Morocco does not have diplomatic ties with Israel.

Mr Netanyahu addressed West African leaders on Sunday saying: “Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel.

“I believe in Africa. I believe in its potential, present and future. It is a continent on the rise.”

While in Liberia for the summit, his bodyguards scuffled with those of Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe, according to reports in the Israeli media.

This trip comes nearly a year after Mr Netanyahu was in East Africa as part of his efforts to strengthen ties between the continent and Israel.

*BBC

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Germany’s ‘Marshall Plan with Africa’
May 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Andrew Green*

Photo by: Irina Patrascu / CC BY

Photo by: Irina Patrascu / CC BY

BERLIN, Germany — A proposal from Germany’s development ministry stands to rewrite the country’s — and possibly the G-20’s — aid relationship with Africa. The so-called Marshall Plan with Africa would prioritize encouraging private investment on the continent, possibly while reducing or shifting official development assistance.

The plan is part of a broader German focus on Africa in 2017, in an effort to play a stronger role leading donor policy within Europe and the G-20.

Analysts and advocates working in Africa say the plan puts into writing some of the trends already underway in aid, including a shift toward the private sector. They warn, however, that moving away from ODA entirely could leave gaps in need. Others, meanwhile, are looking to the German government to use the plan to engage a wider range of actors, including other donors and multilateral banks, to introduce a range of initiatives that could truly have a long-term impact.

For now, though, the debate is largely hypothetical. The plan is still only a proposal, and Germany’s position on Africa is set to evolve rapidly in the coming weeks. The finance ministry is currently constructing a separate “Compact with Africa,” and the country is set to host the G-20 summit in July, where relations with Africa will feature heavily on the agenda. German elections in September could also impact the development agenda, particularly if Chancellor Angela Merkel loses her bid for a fourth term.

Amid the uncertainty, experts are cautious not to either under or overstate the Marshall’s Plan potential impact. German aid and implementing partners are equally unsure how to react. The ministry declined to answer specific questions about whether development partners should read the document as a broader shift in priorities, or consider realigning their programs to match the interventions highlighted in the document.

But one indicator of the proposal’s impact could come in June, as Berlin hosts a G-20 African Partnership Conference, ahead of the broader G-20 meeting in July. The agenda for that meeting, which is focused on improving the investment climate in African countries, dovetails with the emphasis in the plan and could indicate how much influence it will ultimately have on German aid.

What does this Marshall Plan entail?

The Marshall Plan with Africa, released earlier this year, is effectively a blueprint for tackling a range of challenges on the continent — chief among them the problems that could result from Africa’s likely population explosion by 2050.

The proposal aims to be an “integrated overall approach” to address issues ranging from food security, good governance to social concerns, Gerd Müller, the federal minister for economic cooperation and development, explained during a business summit in Nairobi in February.

The plan positions Germany to help African governments with more than 100 different reform ideas that fall under three broad pillars: Economic activity, trade and employment; peace and security; and democracy and the rule of law. Each pillar includes recommendations for African country governments, the German government and the larger international community. Some are quite specific, for example a call on African countries to support a continental human rights court. Others offer more vague guidance, as in the call for international partners to “promote local value chains.”

Throughout, the plan emphasizes improving the investment climate. Among the proposed initiatives are plans to help create incentive packages for businesses. It also floats the idea of using ODA funds to secure private investments.

“It’s not the governments that will create all the long-term employment opportunities that are needed, it’s the private sector,” the plan reads. “So it’s not subsidies that Africa needs so much as more private investment.”

The plan also looks to directly seed the ground for investors. It would support programs that promote peace, security and anti-corruption efforts, in order to better protect investment. It would also look to boost job and vocational training initiatives to prepare young people for the workforce. Traditional development initiatives, including improving health, education systems and infrastructure, would also likely continue.

“We need more ODA funds to meet the current challenges,” the plan says, without specifying an ideal amount. In 2015, the German government spent about 16 billion euros ($17.8 billion) on ODA — the third highest amount in the world behind the United States and the United Kingdom.

Still, “it’s definitely a pro-private investment shift and a bit away from ODA,” said Manfred Öhm, the head of the Africa department at Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. The German political foundation, which draws some financial support from the government, runs a range of development programs in Africa.

Implications for the G-20 relationship with Africa

If expanded, some advocates say the plan could have a significant impact, in part because Germany looks to be positioning itself as a policy-leading donor on the continent. The draft was released in a year when Germany is hosting the G-20, and has made re-evaluating its relationship with Africa a priority. Already, German officials appear to be reframing the plan, which is the vision of one ministry, as part of the larger discussion of the G-20’s relationship with Africa.

Speaking to the African Union last October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to “make the issues that concern you in Africa one of the priorities of the G-20 agenda, and also launch a large-scale initiative with Africa to this end.” The first step, the G-20 African Partnership Conference, will be designed to encourage private investment, sustainable infrastructure and employment in Africa.

The plan could form a significant part of the broader global discussion about the international community’s relationship with Africa, according to Jamie Drummond, the co-founder and executive director of ONE, a grassroots organization fighting extreme poverty and preventable diseases, particularly in Africa.

“This G-20 could and must herald a more coordinated push with Africa than we’ve seen since 2005 and Gleneagles,” Drummond said, referring to the U.K.-hosted G-8 summit that agreed to double aid to Africa, and eliminate the debts of some of the world’s poorest countries.

Drummond is looking for something equally bold to emerge — or at least begin — in Hamburg, where Germany is hosting its G-20. He would like to see momentum towards improving the quality and quantity of funding for education, increasing funds for women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship and an emphasis on good governance, alongside any focus on improving the climate for private investment.

“The private sector approach is incredibly important,” he said. “But if it was the only thing that was being proposed, that would not be enough.”

With Africa’s population set to more than double by 2050, from 1.2 billion to 2.5 billion, according to the Population Reference Bureau, “African development is now clearly central to European and G-20 security into the twenty-first century,” he said. “That’s what this G-20 acknowledges and now we must urgently act on that.”

Domestic support for the plan

The Marshall Plan proposal will need to pull in new elements and some more collaborators — including from within the German government — if it is to be relevant, some analysts warn.

Given what it hopes to achieve, the proposal doesn’t yet include enough partners, said Stefan Brüne, an associate fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations. The federal ministry for economic cooperation and development may not be the best body to strengthen democracy, for example, he said.

“They are not in a position to really address these problems,” he said, compared to their counterparts in the ministry of foreign affairs, for instance, who can exert more political pressure.

Domestic politics could also impact the roll out. Though Müller comes from the ruling party coalition, it is still not clear how popular his plan is within his own government. Experts are looking for input from the ministry of defense, and greater cooperation with the ministry of finance, as it puts together its own compact with Africa. They are also watching to see if Merkel will more publicly embrace the plan or introduce her own strategy that might borrow elements from it.

If it is to truly jumpstart a broader conversation, it would also need to draw in officials from other G-20 nations, the World Bank and other international institutions — something its architects are clearly already aware of and which its advocates are prepared to push for.

Öhm said one of the ministry’s priorities should be providing more clarity, including about the future of ODA, programs the government plans to support and which governments the ministry is specifically hoping to assist. Some African countries are interested in reforms to improve the investment climate, and some are interested in transparency and democratic promotion, but the two groups are not necessarily the same.

At best, he and some other analysts see the plan as a potential starting point for conversations about the balance between ODA and private investment, for instance.

Truly rethinking Germany’s — or the G-20’s — relationship with Africa in the terms that the plan lays out would require a significant generational commitment, experts said. The question is whether the Marshall Plan actually represents that.

*DEVEX

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