Category Archives: West Africa

Barkhane: France sends 220 troops

Faced with a persistent jihadist threat, the leaders of the G5 Sahel countries and France announced the establishment of a new operational framework with redefined priorities and concentrated action on the so-called “three borders” area between Mali , Niger and Burkina Faso.

The military coalition will have a “joint command” between the Barkhane force and the joint force of the G5 Sahel, “by integrating our intelligence forces, our military forces” in the area of the three borders, “with a much stronger latitude of engagement. ”, said Emmanuel Macron.

“Beyond that, I decided to engage additional combat capabilities – 220 soldiers to initiate this dynamic will swell the troops already present on the Barkhane field”, which currently counts 4,500 men, added the French head of state.

“The priority is the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS), which does not prevent us from fighting all the armed terrorist groups but it is the priority enemy because the most dangerous,” he said. for follow-up. A month after threatening to withdraw French troops from the region in a context of anti-French sentiment, Emmanuel Macron estimated that he had obtained the necessary “clarification” from his partners who in a joint declaration expressed the wish to see the Barkhane operation.

West Africa abandons colonial franc

West Africa’s monetary union has agreed with France to rename its CFA franc the Eco and cut some of the financial links with former metropole, ensuring the region’s common currency since its creation soon World War Two.

Under the new agreement, the Eco will remain pegged to the euro but eight African countries in the bloc won’t have to transfer 50% of their reserves in the French Treasury and there will no longer be a French representative on the currency union’s board, meaning Paris will also withdraw “from the governance bodies in which it was present”.

Critics of the CFA have long seen it as a relic from colonial past while proponents of the currency say it has provided financial stability for the turbulent region.

“This is a historic day for West Africa,” Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara said during a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in Abidjan, the capital.

In 2017, Macron highlighted the stabilizing benefits of the CFA but said it was up to African governments to determine the future of the currency.

“Yes, it’s the end of certain relics of the past. Yes it’s progress … I do not want influence through guardianship, I do not want influence through intrusion. That’s not the century that’s being built today,” said Macron.

We have decided to reform the CFA franc with three major changes (…) including the change of name “and” stopping the centralization of 50% of the reserves in the French Treasury, “said Mr. Ouattara during at a joint press conference on the second day of the French president’s visit to Côte d’Ivoire.

Emmanuel Macron described this decision as “major historic reform”. “The Eco will see the light of day in 2020, I welcome it,” he added, adding that the CFA franc was “perceived as one of the vestiges of Françafrique”.

This reform has been negotiated for six months, according to a French source, between France and the eight countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA): Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

It does not currently concern the six Central African countries which use the CFA franc but which form a separate monetary zone.

Paris said it was “open” to this development after multiple discussions with African capitals, while the controversy over this currency had again grown in recent months.

The “franc of the French colonies in Africa” was created in 1945 and became the “franc of the African Financial Community” after independence.

The fixed parity with the euro of the CFA franc, the future Eco, maintained (1 euro = 655.96 CFA francs), but this point is likely to change when the common West African currency comes into being.

Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), issued the following statement today on the reform of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU)’s CFA franc framework:

“I welcome the reforms to the WAEMU’s CFA franc currency arrangement that were announced today by Presidents Ouattara and Macron in Abidjan. They constitute a key step in the modernization of long-standing arrangements between the West African Economic and Monetary Union and France.

“The announced measures build on WAEMU’s proven track record in the conduct of monetary policy and external reserve management. In recent years, the WAEMU has recorded low inflation and high economic growth, the fiscal situation has improved, and the level of foreign exchange reserves has increased.

“The reforms also maintain key elements of stability that have served the region well, including the fixed exchange rate with the euro and the guarantee of unlimited convertibility provided by France.

“The IMF stands ready to engage with the regional authorities, as needed, and to support the implementation of this important initiative.”

Inates: IS claims attack in Niger

Islamic State terrorist group claims the attack on Inates miliatry camp in Niger close to Mali border. They have killed at least 71 soldiers in an offensive on a military base in western Niger – the deadliest in several years.

The militants, indending to establish Caliphate on the Sahel territories, and linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group (IS) have staged attacks in the Sahel region this year despite the presence of thousands of regional and foreign troops.

Operation Barkhane is an ongoing anti-insurgent operation in Africa’s Sahel, launched in August 2014. It consists of a 4,500-strong French troops, which is permanently headquartered in N’Djamena the capital of Chad. The operation has been composed with five countries – former French colonies:  Sahel: Burkina Faso,Chad, Mali, Niger, Mauritania.

Norway crew abducted in Benin

Nine crew members from Norway vessel have been abducted by pirates while anchored off the coast of the West African country of Benin. The Gulf of Guinea is notorious among maritime regions, plagued by piracy. (Image: illustration).

The sailors on a vessel Bonita owned by the Norwegian shipping company J.J. Ugland have been kidnapped by pirates while anchored 9 miles (14.5 kilometers) off shore from the port city of Cotonou on November 2.

In a statement published in Norway’s Dagens Naeringslivnewspaper on November 3, the company spokesperson said it would not disclose the crew’s nationalities, citing safety reasons.

“The Ugland Emergency Response Team are handling this situation as per contingency plans, and they are in contact with relevant authorities.

“The families of the crew members have been contacted and will be kept informed by Ugland,” the company
The remaining crew members was able to dock at port with its gypsum cargo the same day.

The Gulf of Guinea, which extends from Gabon to Liberia, has been infested by piracy practicing kidnapping in search for ransom.

Guinea-Bissau: EU warns against illegal actions

“The illegal attempt to dismiss Prime-Minister Gomes and his Government threatens to derail the ongoing electoral process in Guinea-Bissau. The Government, whose programme was recently approved by a parliamentary majority, is the sole and legitimate executive power in Guinea-Bissau, supported by regional and international partners” reads the statement of  the spokesperson of the European External Action Service.

“In order to preserve stability and sustainable development, the electoral cycle should be pursued with the Presidential elections planned on November 24th 2019. The EU expects all stakeholders to avoid any actions that undermine this process.

“The EU endorses the October 29th ECOWAS Statement and stands firmly with its international partners in order to ensure free, fair and transparent elections on November 24th 2019.’

Senegal anti-trafficking measures

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Senegal and the Ministry of Justice, represented by National Unit for Combatting Trafficking in Persons (CNLTP) and the Directorate of Criminal Affairs and Amnesty (DACG), has united efforts to consolidate the country’s first human trafficking case law database, the Système de suivi de la traite, known as Systraite.

https://twitter.com/dev_discourse/status/1187767501456842755?s=21

Senegal is an origin, transit, and destination country for the flows of migrants in West and Central Africa who are the risk group, exposed for various abuses, including human trafficking.

Forced begging is the most common way of exploitation, but also to the other forms as domestic servitude, forced labour in gold mines, and sex slavery. In 2018, 1,100 Senegalese migrants who intended to reach Europe were identified as vulnerable to trafficking in Libya.

Despite Senegal’s considerable efforts to identify and assist trafficking survivors, the country’s taskforce against trafficking in persons (TiP) experiences deficiency of data on survivors, crimes, and traffickers. At present the rudimentary networking and information sharing among local authorities and other means of coordination of efforts across Senegal are impaired.

DRC: Second Ebola vaccine in view

Health authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) informed that they plan to introduce a second Ebola vaccine, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, to counter the second-worst outbreak of the deadly virus.

https://twitter.com/reutersafrica/status/1175372732596465664?s=21

The team overseeing Congo’s Ebola response did not reveal when exactly the J&J vaccine would be employed. It will complement another vaccine manufactured by Merck, which has been administered to more than 225,000 people since August 2018. Unlikely fhe J&J vaccine requires two injections eight weeks apart, unlike the Merck product, which requires a single shot.

https://twitter.com/reutersafrica/status/1175372732596465664?s=21

According to the Congolese authorities, they will offer J&J vaccine to Congolese traders who cross into Rwanda and then to residents of the province neighbouring the epicentre of the outbreak to “create a corridor of immunised people”.

https://twitter.com/csis/status/1175121195013771264?s=21

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