President says country “will get out of this turbulence”
Staff Writer, ZAWYA
August 1, 2023
Nigeria’s new President Bola Tinubu has outlined measures to cushion the impact of the removal of fuel subsidies in Africa’s biggest economy in the form of a 500 billion naira ($632 million) supplementary budget approved by parliament.
In a speech broadcast nationwide on Monday evening, Tinubu focused on various aspects of the economy that would benefit from the cash injection, including agriculture, manufacturing, small businesses, infrastructure, education and other social services.
Following his decision to remove fuel subsidies, transportation costs and food prices have skyrocketed in Africa’s most populous country. The naira’s devaluation – part of Tinubu’s new policies – has also accelerated inflation, which hit 22.8% in the year to June.
In 2022, the government spent $10 billion on the subsidy – causing widening budget deficits and soaring government debt.
In his speech the president admitted that Nigeria’s economy was going through a “tough patch” and that people were being negatively affected by the subsidy removal.
“The cost of fuel has gone up. Food and other prices have followed it. Households and businesses struggle,” Tinubu said. “I understand the hardship you face.”
Despite the hardship, Tinubu said there were no other options but to remove the fuel subsidy.
“I have consistently maintained the position that the fuel subsidy had to go. This once beneficial measure had outlived its usefulness,” he said.
“The subsidy cost us trillions of naira yearly. Such a vast sum of money would have been better spent on public transportation, healthcare, schools, housing and even national security.”
Pump prices for gasoline have nearly tripled since the announcement of the plan, which is one of a number of new market-focused measures he claims would help the economy grow more quickly during his term.
Transportation costs have risen, angering both the general public and unions. Fuel consumption has dropped sharply, according to the country’s oil regulator.
Millions of people and businesses that depend on fuel generators – due to a perennially erratic electricity grid – for power are struggling to cope with the steep prices.
“We will get out of this turbulence,” Tinubu said. “In a little over two months, we have saved over a trillion naira that would have been squandered on the unproductive fuel subsidy.”
(Editing by Seban Scaria firstname.lastname@example.org)
Amr Yehia , Saturday 15 Jul 2023
A Russia-Africa pre-summit roundtable was held Wednesday in Addis Ababa, focusing on social partnership, digitization and agricultural cooperation.
The roundtable titled “Social and Humanitarian Fields between Russia and Africa” discussed the wide-ranging connections between Russia and Africa, as a prelude to the Russia-Africa Summit which will take place in St. Petersburg from 26 to 29 July 2023.
Opening the event, Russian Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union (AU) Evgeny Terekhin said Russia will prioritize economic and trade cooperation with African countries.
“The Russia-Africa Summit has emerged as a pivotal event, driving the development of Russian-African relations. Through this collaboration, we envision attaining an unprecedented level of mutually beneficial partnership that will fortify our resilience against the challenges of the twenty-first century” said Terekhin.
“The summit will contribute to strengthening comprehensive and equal cooperation between Russia and African countries,” stressed the ambassador.
The Advisor to the General Manager of the United Chemical Company, Andrei Guturov, announced an ambitious initiative to supply approximately 300 thousand tons of fertilizers to developing countries, mainly in Africa, free of charge.
The primary objective of this initiative is to combat hunger and prevent the escalation of the global food crisis.
Guturov further explained that the initiative also focuses on technology transfer and capacity building, including the training of skilled personnel.
“The aim is to foster mutually beneficial cooperation that will enable African countries to enhance agricultural productivity, create new employment opportunities, and ensure access to essential food resources,” he added.
Igor Morozov, Chairman of the Coordinating Committee for Economic Cooperation with African Countries, addressed the digital transformation taking place in Africa, which has captured Russia’s keen interest.
“We live in a digital world, and there is no doubt that the future of civilization depends on the digital economy, ” Morozov said.
He also highlighted Russia’s digital platforms, including B2B and B2C, along with advancements in educational products and services. Morozov noted Moscow’s reputation as one of the world’s leading cities in terms of quality of life and digitization of services, trailing only Toronto and Singapore.
Morozov emphasized the potential for Africans to benefit from the experience of Russia’s digital transformation, and collaborate for a shared technological future.
Ahram Online , Sunday 16 Jul 2023
The African Union’s fifth Mid-Year Coordination Meeting (MYCM) kicked off in Nairobi on Sunday, bringing together various regional economic groups and mechanisms to accelerate continental integration.
The theme of this year’s meeting is the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The meeting is being led by Kenyan President William Ruto with the participation of the President of Comoros Ghazali Osmani, who currently presides over the African Summit.
The summit aims to address crucial issues of African integration, division of labour, and the roles played by the African Union and regional economic groups on the continent.
During the opening session, Ruto urged African countries “to provide leadership towards a new industrial age for Africa.” He also called upon the IMF and World Bank to come up with a fair financial system, saying that “some of the financial debt crisis we have is because of the unfair financial system that makes Africa pay higher interest than others.”
The agenda also included a review of the implementation of continental and regional declarations in Africa.
The ministerial-level meeting preceding the heads of state’s participation adopted the theme of education for the AU in 2024.
The MYCM, established in 2017, serves as the primary platform for the African Union, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Regional Mechanisms (RMs), and member states to jointly assess and accelerate continental integration.
In addition to Presidents Ruto and Osmani, notable participants in the meeting include President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt, who chairs the African Heads of State and Government Committee for development issues in the continent, as well as President Ali Bongo of Gabon, President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, and President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa.
President El-Sisi, who arrived in Nairobi on Saturday, is expected to deliver a speech presenting Egypt’s ambitious two-year roadmap as the current chair of the Steering Committee of the African Development Agency (NEPAD).
He will also emphasize the need for African countries to collaborate in its implementation. Moreover, he will deliver a second speech during the session on the environment, climate change, and the blue economy.
Harare, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s government has welcomed the lifting of an 18-month ban by FIFA, football’s governing sports body, which will allow the country’s team to compete internationally again.
FIFA banned Zimbabwe from international matches in February 2022. The governing body acted after the government in Harare tried to take control of the Zimbabwe Football Association, on the grounds it had failed to account for some funds and did not investigate alleged cases of sexual abuse toward female players by football officials.
The situations have yet to be resolved, but FIFA chose to lift the ban as scheduled, with qualifiers for the next World Cup set to begin in Ivory Coast.
The end of the ban comes as a relief to football fans in Zimbabwe, where the sport has grown in popularity in recent years.
Speaking to reporters in Harare on Tuesday, sports minister Kirsty Coventry said the ban was beneficial to Zimbabwean football in the long run.
“Hundred percent it was worth it. It was hard, it came at a cost that we all knew before we took the decision but to get to this final stage, where we can sit down and agree finally on [a] way forward, that is going to benefit us as a country. Hundred and ten percent it was worth it,” Coventry said.
But Lincoln Mutasa, chairman of a “normalization committee” mandated by FIFA to hold elections for the Zimbabwe Football Association and investigate the sexual abuse and corruption allegations, had a different view about Zimbabwe being penalized.
“It was hurting, not only the sports people, but ourselves, all the sports parents,” he said. “You put so many hours to try get your kid to excel in a sport, when this doesn’t happen or when this is frustrated, it’s a big mountain to climb. So, I am really delighted for all parties involved for finding each other.”
FIFA’s manager for development programs in Africa, Solomon Mudege, said that even though the ban has been lifted, Zimbabwe’s government needs to stay out of the association’s affairs.
He said FIFA, the government and the Zimbabwe Football Association need to have open communication to avoid disruptions in the future.
“I can assure you in the coming days you will see a more transparent FIFA, how they share what is important and how they share investments from governments, and investments from FIFA. It’s something that we are proud of,” Mudege said. “So there is no change in FIFA’s approach. What we encourage is more engagements. We shouldn’t talk to each other [only] in situations of crisis and conflict.”
The end of FIFA’s suspension means Zimbabwe will be part of the African qualifiers for the next World Cup, beginning this Thursday in Ivory Coast.
AFP , Monday 10 Jul 2023
West African heads of state late on Sunday chose Nigeria’s new President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to lead their regional bloc for the next year, replacing Guinea-Bissau’s leader Umaro Sissoco Embalo.
Speaking at a summit in Bissau after being named chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Tinubu said democracy was “the best form of government”, despite being “very tough to manage”.
“We need it, to be an example to the rest of Africa and the world,” he said. “We will not allow coup after coup in West Africa.”
Three ECOWAS members, Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso, have undergone five putsches since 2020.
Omar Alieu Touray, president of the ECOWAS commission, urged those countries’ ruling juntas to respect agreed-upon deadlines to hand power to civilian leaders.
“In the event of a failure to meet the transition deadlines, major sanctions could be imposed,” he said.
The West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) on Saturday agreed to lift a suspension of Mali imposed in January 2022 over the military’s timeline for returning to civilian rule.
ECOWAS had also imposed a range of measures against the Sahel state, but lifted them in July 2022 after the junta agreed to a March 2024 transition.
On Sunday, Touray said ECOWAS had set up a commission to examine security options in Mali as the UN winds down its decade-long peacekeeping mission there.
“This commission has 90 days to reflect and make proposals,” he said.
Mali has since 2012 been battling a jihadist insurgency that has since spread to Burkina Faso and Niger.
Tinubu, who was in May sworn in as president of Africa’s largest economy, said ECOWAS members would pursue “inclusive” economic integration in the year ahead.
“We should serve a warning to exploiters that our people have suffered enough,” he said on Sunday.
“I am with you, and Nigeria, we are back.”
AFP , Monday 3 Jul 2023
Senegal braced for a potential showdown on Monday as President Macky Sall prepared to make a long-awaited announcement on whether he plans to seek a controversial third term.
On the eve of Sall’s nationwide address, his fiercest critic, Ousmane Sonko, urged the public to “come out en masse” and oppose him.
The president is due to make the announcement on national television at 8:00 pm (2000 GMT).
Deadly clashes erupted last month between Sonko supporters and the security forces, claiming at least 16 lives.
The turbulence has stained Senegal’s image as a beacon of stability in West Africa, a region notorious for coups and civil war.
Sall, 61, was first elected in 2012 for a seven-year term and again in 2019 for a five-year term, following a constitutional revision of the presidential tenure.
The constitution stipulates that a president cannot serve more than two terms — but Sall’s supporters argue the counter has been reset to zero thanks to the 2016 revision.
Sall once campaigned against a third term by his predecessor, Abdoulaye Wade, who was in power from 2000 to 2012.
He also repeatedly said he would not seek a third mandate.
But he has no designated political successor and in recent months has been coy about another term, a position that has stoked tensions.
Sonko, a fiery orator popular with Senegal’s disaffected youth, paints Sall as corrupt and a would-be dictator.
“It’s incumbent on all the Senegalese people to stand up, to face him,” Sonko said on Sunday night.
“If we have to put up a fight, it must be definitive… the days and weeks to come will be crucial,” he said in a video posted on social media.
Sonko was sentenced on June 1 to two years’ jail for “corrupting” a young beauty salon worker, sparking protests which led to 16 deaths according to the government, 24 according to Amnesty International, and 30 according to Sonko’s party.
The conviction makes him ineligible to stand in 2024.
Sonko says the case was crafted to prevent him from running, a charge authorities deny. He has been blocked in by the authorities at his home since May 28.
‘Praying for peace’
Residents of the Senegalese capital Dakar returned to work on Monday after a long weekend break for the Muslim festival of Tabaski.
Abdou Diagne, a 38-year-old car washer, said: “I don’t want him (Sall) to stand again. We’ve already given him 12 years — it’s time for him to go and let somebody else take over.
“If he says otherwise, it’s not a given that people will stand by with their arms folded,” Diagne said.
“Either way, we are praying for peace.”
Samba Fall, 50, said he believed Sall “will keep his word.”
“I expect him to say ‘I thank the people for the trust they have invested in me over these last 12 years, I have made my contribution towards building a harmonious Senegal and I won’t be standing again, in line with the constitution’.”
But, he predicted, if Sall announces a bid for a third term, “that will shake the country up.”
Egypt’s top diplomat met with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on Sunday (June 18).
The officials talked among other things on strategic relations, economic partnership and close cooperation in the Mediterranean, the Egyptian Foreign ministry tweeted.
The EU representative announced an allocation to back Egypt as it welcomes refugees from neighbouring Sudan.
“In very few days more than 200,000 people has been hosted in Egypt, and I have to thank you for that and also, the European Union will provide an immediate assistance of €20 million (about $22 million) to help you to address this new wave of Sudanese refugees on your Southern border. I know it is not enough, I know you are going to pay much more, but at least, let us contribute a little bit in your support”.
Over two months into the war between Army general Al-Burhane and paramilitary commander Dagalo, over 1,800 people have been killed, according to NGO Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.
Nearly two million people have been displaced, including 476,000 who have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, the United Nations says.
Citing a crackdown on “illegal activities” including fraud, Egypt announced earlier this month it would reverse a visa exemption for children, women and elderly people. All citizens of neighbouring Sudan now have to obtain visas before crossing the border.
The U.N. and other nations will organize Monday (June 19) a pledging conference to raise funds to cover Sudan’s humanitarian needs.
The U.N. says it received less than 16% of the $2.57 billion required to help those in need in Sudan in 2023. Another $470 million is needed to support refugees in the Horn of Africa region, the body added.
Sameh Shoukry and Josep Borrell’s Cairo meeting took place after a deadly Greek migrant boat wreck. A trawler that sank off the coast of Greece last week, leaving at least 79 dead and many more missing in one of the worst disasters of its kind this year.
Egypt was promised to receive about 80 million dollars for border management, search and rescue and anti-smuggling operations.
“There is no European country that is hosting the number (of Refugees) that Egypt is hosting, however we are doing this under the framework of our international commitment that we abide to, but also through the Egyptian historic stance in embracing and protecting our brothers, but we need the continuity of assistance from our brothers in friendly countries because at the end it is a mutual interest. Egypt has become a destination state and if things met with obstacles, it would turn again into a transit country.”
According to Italy’s Interior Ministry, between January and June over 50-thousand migrants have arrived by boat in Italy, compared to just over 20-thousand in the same period in 2022.
AP , Sunday 21 May 2023
A delegation of six African leaders set to hold talks with Kyiv and Moscow aim to “initiate a peace process,” but also broach the thorny issue of how a heavily-sanctioned Russia can be paid for the fertilizer exports Africa desperately needs, a key mediator who helped broker the talks said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Jean-Yves Ollivier, an international negotiator who has been working for six months to put the talks together, said the African leaders would also discuss the related issue of easing the passage of more grain shipments out of Ukraine amid the war and the possibility of more prisoner swaps when they travel to both countries on what they’ve characterized as a peace mission.
The talks will likely be next month, Ollivier said.
He arrived in Moscow on Sunday and will also go to Kyiv for meetings with high-level officials to work out “logistics” for the upcoming talks. For one, the six African presidents would likely have to travel to Kyiv by night train from Poland amid the fighting, he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have both agreed to separately host the delegation of presidents from South Africa, Senegal, Egypt, Republic of Congo, Uganda and Zambia.
The talks also have the approval of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, the African Union and China, Ollivier said in a video call with the AP on Friday.
Neither side in the war appears ready to stop fighting, though.
The talks were announced last week by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa just as Russia launched an intense air attack on Kyiv. On Sunday, Russia claimed to have taken the key eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut after fierce fighting, a claim denied by Ukraine.
“We are not dreamers,” Ollivier said on the chances the African leaders will achieve an immediate breakthrough with regard to stopping the 15-month conflict. “Unless something happens, I don’t think we are going to finish our first mission with a ceasefire.”
The aim was to make a start, said Ollivier, a 78-year-old Frenchman who brought opposing sides together in high-stakes negotiations in the late 1980s that helped end apartheid in South Africa.
“It starts with signs. It starts with dialogue. And this is what we are going to try to do,” Ollivier said. “No guarantee that we are going to succeed but, for the time being, Russia and Ukraine have accepted … a delegation coming specifically to their countries to talk about peace.”
A key starting point for Africa is grain and fertilizers.
The war has severely restricted the export of grain from Ukraine and fertilizers from Russia, exacerbating global food insecurity and hunger. Africa has been one of the hardest-hit continents. Last week, Russia agreed to a two-month extension of a deal brokered by Turkey and the U.N. that allows Ukraine to ship grain through the Black Sea and out to the world, and the six African presidents would like to see that extended further.
But they also need to broach ways of making it easier for African nations to receive shipments and pay Russia for fertilizers, Ollivier said. Russian fertilizer is not under international sanctions but the U.S. and some Western nations have targeted Russian cargo ships for sanctions. Russia’s access to the SWIFT global financial transaction system also has been restricted by the sanctions, leaving African nations struggling to order and pay for critical fertilizers.
“We will need to have a window whereby SWIFT will be authorized for this specific point,” Ollivier said. “That will be on the table and we hope that in that case we will gain the support of the Russians for the grains from Ukraine, and we will gain the support of the Ukrainians to find payments and shipments possible for the Russian fertilizer.”
The African mission is not the only mediation effort. China offered its own peace proposal in February and a Chinese envoy has been in discussions with Ukrainian officials. But China’s plan has largely been dismissed by Ukraine’s Western allies and is clouded by Beijing’s political support for Moscow.
Ukraine and Russia are far apart in terms of any agreements that might form the base of a peace deal.
The African delegation still had a wide cross-section of backing, Ollivier said, after China also “came to us and offered support” on the basis it would be a “parallel effort” to Beijing’s plan.
“More support, more weight will be put on the negotiation (with Moscow and Kyiv),” said Ollivier, the founding chairman of the London-based Brazzaville Foundation, an organization that deals with conflict resolution. “If one party says no, they will consider to who they are saying no. Are they saying no only to Jean-Yves Ollivier? To the Brazzaville Foundation? To the six (African) heads of state?”
“Or are they saying no to the United Nations, or to the Chinese, or to the Americans. To the British? To the European Union?”
The Japanese Prime-Minister, Kishida Fumio, arrived in Ghana on Monday on the second leg of an African tour.
Fumio met Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo and both vowed to continue to pursue reforms at the UN Security Council.
Japan and Ghana are serving as non-permanent members of the Security Council.
The Ghanaian President added that the current Security Council permanent members does not reflect the current reality adding that reform must be promoted.
Both heads of state also agreed to closely coordinate on the issue of Sudan, where military clashes continue for a third week.
The Japanese Prime Minister said he hopes his latest visit will boost cooperation between the two countries across a range of fields, such as the economy, development and human resources.
By Rédaction Africanews with AFP
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Inspectorate General of Finance (IGF) has revealed massive fraud in the public payroll department, where dozens of fictitious employees cost the state nearly $800 million a year.
According to the findings of an audit of the government’s payroll, the IGF noted numerous irregularities, with tens of thousands of fictitious employees.
Each month, “the monthly loss of earnings suffered by the Treasury is 148,999,749,440.95 Congolese francs (or 66.2 million dollars),” said the IGF in a statement dated Thursday, concerning the audit conducted by its services.
The Congolese public finance watchdog says that more than 145,000 paid agents have “incorrect, fictitious and fabricated registration numbers for payroll purposes”.
Also, more than 40,000 agents are paid without their names appearing on the declaratory lists from the services that employ them, while more than 90,000 agents “share the same registration number with other agents who are also paid.
The IGF has promised to transmit to the judicial authorities the list of 961 state agents involved in this “mafia network”.
Already, “some cases of obvious irregularities are subject to deactivation” on the payroll of state services, the same source added.
For 2023, the DRC’s budget is estimated at 16 billion dollars.
Despite the country’s vast natural resources, poverty is rampant. Nearly two-thirds of the country’s approximately 100 million inhabitants live on less than $2.15 a day, the international poverty line, according to the World Bank.
The country ranks 169th out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2021 ranking.