Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

3
Dec

WITH the world’s attention focused on the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, there was a flurry of debate about how much more media coverage France had received than Beirut, where, a day earlier, suicide bombers sent by the Islamic State killed 43 people. In Nigeria, we expect most terrorist attacks to go unnoticed by the world.

Considering the global attention paid to the Islamic State, you would not guess that Boko Haram is actually the world’s deadliest terrorist organization, according to the Global Terrorism Index. While the Islamic State operates in an oil-rich region and directly threatens the West, Boko Haram’s brutality remains largely confined to remote, sparsely populated parts of Nigeria. The group has reinforced this isolation by attacking telecommunications towers.

At the turn of the year, the group occupied territory estimated to be the size of Belgium. In March, its leader, Abubakar Shekau, released an audio message, pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. But he has not appeared in public since then, fueling speculation that he is dead or incapacitated. And Boko Haram has been pushed on the defensive, pummeled by a coalition of troops from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger, briefly supported by mercenaries from South Africa and the former Soviet Union.

In August, I visited Yola — home to at least three camps for internally displaced persons, as Boko Haram’s refugees are known. The Yola I encountered was actually a less beleaguered place than it had been a year earlier, when Boko Haram fighters were virtually knocking on its doors, having overrun a string of nearby towns.

In Maiduguri, about 250 miles away, where Boko Haram first burst onto the national scene in a bloody uprising six years ago, the airport reopened to commercial flights in July, after being closed for about 18 months. The city’s public secondary schools, shuttered since early 2014, started reopening in October.

While Boko Haram may have been weakened, it has yet to lose its capacity to sow terror. The suicide bomb attacks — some carried out by young girls, not even teenagers — now blur with surreal intensity into one another. Many attacks go unclaimed; everyone assumes it’s Boko Haram, as usual. Read more…

Published in the New York Times on Dec. 2nd, 2015

Tolu Ogunlesi is the West Africa editor for The Africa Report and the author, most recently, of the novella “Conquest and Conviviality.”

23
Nov

mali

While most global attention has been focused on Nigeria, Mali has been West Africa’s other insurgent hotspot in recent years.
It is threatened by various armed groups – from Ansar Dine, which is linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), to Touareg separatist rebel groups. The lawlessness in Libya after Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011 led to a spread of weapons across the Sahel region of northern Africa, which fell into the hands of such groups and fuelled unrest in the region. In 2012 the handling of the Touareg rebellion prompted some army factions to stage an uprising, sparking a civil war. Jihadist groups took advantage of the situation and took control of the north of the country, imposing strict Islamic law.

The resulting fighting needed the intervention of French forces to push away the militants and regain much of northern Mali. But the jihadists are still active and have carried out numerous attacks across the country.

Key players
The most prominent group is Ansar Dine, led by Iyad Ag Ghaly. The group is linked to AQIM and has vowed to destabilise the Sahel region. Ghaly recently called for attacks on France and its interests in Mali. The group implemented Sharia law in towns it captured during the 2012 uprising, including the ancient city of Timbuktu. A new jihadist group known as Macina Liberation Front (FLM) has recently emerged in central Mali.It is linked with Ansar Dine and just last week, carried out an attack on a military checkpoint in the region of Djenne, a town 500km (310 miles) north-east of the capital Bamako. Its leader has called for continued attacks on the government. Last week, the Malian authorities said that information from members of the public had led to the arrest of one of the group’s leading financiers during an army operation in the central region of Mopti. Read more…

By Tomi Oladipo
BBC Monitoring Africa security correspondent
20 November 2015

6
Oct

A child selling charcoal in Kabezi, Burundi (photo from 24 June 2015)

The World Bank has said that for the first time less than 10% of the world’s population will be living in extreme poverty by the end of 2015.

The bank said it was using a new income figure of $1.90 per day to define extreme poverty, up from $1.25.

It forecasts the proportion of the world’s population in this category to fall from 12.8% in 2012 to 9.6%.

However, it said the “growing concentration of global poverty in sub-Saharan Africa is of great concern”.

Although the share of people in poverty in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to fall from 42.6% in 2012 to 35.2% by the end of 2015, this will still represent around half of the world’s poor.

“We are the first generation in human history that can end extreme poverty,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said.

The bank says the downward trend was due to strong growth rates in developing countries and investments in education, health, and social safety nets.

But Mr Kim warned that continuing the progress would be “extraordinarily hard, especially in a period of slower global growth, volatile financial markets, conflicts, high youth unemployment, and the growing impact of climate change”.

And the bank warned that poverty is “becoming deeper and more entrenched in countries that are either conflict ridden or overly dependent on commodity exports”.

 

Published in bbc.com on Oct. 5th, 2015; http://www.bbc.com/news/world-34440567

31
Aug

A man withdraws money from an Orange Money cashier in Abidjan. About $104bn of African incomes currently flow outside the formal banking system annually. (Issouf Sanogo, AFP)

Making the world a better place – noble in theory, but expensive in practice and ambitious to sustain.

Financing the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs), for example, will require more than the combined GDP of Africa’s 30 biggest economies in additional funds every year. A big ask – so where should the money come from? Given that the funding needed is nearly 20 times last year’s official international aid flows, it’s safe to say that more aid from international donors cannot continue to be the primary focus.

So what if we tapped into the considerable resources of the developing countries themselves? Often overlooked, these countries’ tax revenues, natural resource revenues, private domestic savings, pension funds, private equity markets, stock markets, and remittances, taken together, are significantly larger than aid flows – and are growing rapidly. If harnessed to finance development, these resources could enormously accelerate the rate at which the SDGs are achieved.

Take sub-Saharan Africa. As a conservative estimate, at least 20-30% of the $2.6-trillion funding gap will be needed in this region alone. This is a massive amount – but our estimates show that sub-Saharan Africa can get part of the way there, and unlock approximately $90-billion for development per year, with just four actions: lowering the cost of remittances and using them as collateral for loans, banking more of the unbanked, and unlocking pension funds for investment in private equity. Taken together the four suggestions illustrate a broader point: what if the way we fund development propelled development itself? Read more…

Published on 26 Aug. in the Mail and Guardian. Yana Watson Kakar is the global managing partner of Dalberg, Matthew MacDevette is a Dalberg consultant and James Mwangi is executive director of the Dalberg Group. Follow @DalbergTweet on Twitter.

22
Jun

Rene talk

IE School of International Relations and the IE Africa Club will host on Tuesday, June 23, Rene Meyer, a Master in International Relations (MIR) alumnus, who will present the African infrastructure challenge with particular focus on the power supply gap in African countries. He will also share his 3-year experience working in Sub-Saharan Africa and speak about particularities of the African business and government culture.

Date: Tuesday, June 23rd, 19:30

Room: MMB-603 (María de Molina 31bis, 6th floor)

 

For more information on the event and the speaker, click here.

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