Leading the News
On June 12th, United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the importance of the peaceful and timely holding of the Libyan legislative elections scheduled for the 25th of June. The U.N. Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has been providing technical assistance for the elections and the reforming of State institutions. A statement issued by Secretary-General Ban’s office can be read here.
On June 15th, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby announced that the U.S. military had captured Ahmed Abu Khatallah over the weekend. Khatallah was a key figure in orchestrating the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012. The Department of Defense (DOD) reported that Khatallah is now in U.S. custody in a secure location outside of Libya. There were no casualties related to the operation. A press release was provided here.
On July 17th, President Barack Obama issued a statement on the apprehension of Ahmed Abu Khatallah. President Obama said the U.S. has an unwavering commitment to bring to justice those responsible for harming Americans and the operation in Libya is evidence of the efforts of U.S. military, law enforcement, and intelligence personnel to achieve this goal. In addition, the President remembered U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty, who were all killed in the Benghazi attack, and vowed continue support for democracy building in Libya. President Obama’s statement can be viewed here.
On June 17th, Secretary of State John Kerry provided a press statement on the capture of the alleged leader of the September 2012 Benghazi attack, Ahmed Abu Khatallah. In addition to mourning the loss of the four Americans killed in the attacks, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, Secretary Kerry noted that Khatallah will now face a court of law and be held accountable for his actions. He also articulated support for an ongoing bilateral partnership with Libya to help the country achieve its desires to build a democratic government, provide security, protect human rights, and rebuild the economy. Secretary Kerry’s statement can be seen here.
On June 17th, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) issued a statement crediting U.S. military and intelligence personnel for the capture of Ahmed Abu Khatallah in connection with the Benghazi terrorist attacks. Congressman Royce expressed optimism that Khatallah’s capture
will bring the U.S. closer to justice and accountability and that the intelligence community will take advantage of the opportunity to collect as much intelligence as possible. Congressman Royce’s statement can be read here.
On June 17th, House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) issued a statement regarding the capture of Ahmed Abu Khatallah for his role in orchestrating the terrorist attacks in Benghazi. Congressman Engel said that Khatallah’s capture sends the clear message that those responsible for the Benghazi attacks will be held accountable and brought to justice. He also commended President Barack Obama for authorizing the unilateral operation. Congressman Engel’s statement was published here.
On June 17th, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) issued a statement congratulating the U.S. military on the capture of Ahmed Abu Khatallah. Before prosecution begins, Congressman McKeon said it is important that Khatallah be fully interrogated in order to collect the intelligence that is needed to bring all of the perpetrators of the September 2012 Benghazi attacks to justice. Congressman McKeon’s statement was posted here.
On June 18th, the Government of Libya issued its first response to the U.S. capture of Ahmed Abu Khatallah. At a news conference, Libyan Justice Minister Saleh al-Marghani condemned the capture and said that Khatallah should be returned to Libya and tried there instead of in the U.S. In addition, Minister Marghani expressed frustration that Libya had receive no prior notification of the U.S. mission and indicated that Libyan authorities had also sought to detain Khatallah for questioning, but were unable to do so due to the security situation in the country. The news conference was summarized here.
On June 18th, the State Department responded to questions regarding the assistance of the Rewards for Justice Program in the capture of Ahmed Abu Khatallah in Libya. Since January 2014, the Rewards for Justice Program has advertised rewards of up to $10 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of individuals responsible for the September 2012 Benghazi attacks. Khatallah was also previously classified as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. The State Department noted that the reward offer remains active, but declined to offer any additional information. The State Department’s response was issued here.
On June 15th, 48 people were killed in Mpeketoni, Kenya, when attackers set fire to three hotels and a police station. While no organization had claimed responsibility in the immediate aftermath of the attack, Mpeketoni police indicated that Al Shabaab militants were the prime suspects. The full story can be viewed here.
On June 16th, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned in the strongest terms the attacks that took place on Sunday in Mpeketoni, Kenya that killed at least 48 people and wounded many others. Secretary-General Ban also reiterated the solidarity of the U.N. with the people and the Government of Kenya in their struggle against terrorism. Secretary-General Ban’s statement can be seen here.
On June 16th, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki condemned the Al Shabaab attack on the coastal town of Mpeketoni in Kenya. She said information on those killed and injured was preliminary, but noted that the State Department is continuing to work with Kenyan authorities to address security concerns in the region. The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi had already restricted travel for U.S. Government personnel to the Nairobi neighborhood of Eastleigh and to all coastal counties prior to the attack. Spokesperson Psaki’s complete statement can be viewed here.
On June 17th, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said lethal assaults over the past two days that left an estimated 63 people dead were the work of local political networks and not Al Shabaab, despite the fact that Al Shabaab publically claimed responsibility for the attacks. Meanwhile, President Kenyatta continues to experience growing criticism from the main opposition party, which suggested he is deflecting attention from Al Shabaab in order to shift any blame for failure to prevent the attacks. Details were shared here.
On June 12th, U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague hosted government officials from Nigeria, Chad, Benin, Niger, Cameroon, the U.S., the U.K., and France, in London to discuss the threat posed by Boko Haram and the progress of efforts aimed at rescuing the more than 200 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the terrorist group in April. As an outcome of the meeting, participants agreed to form a regional intelligence unit to fight Boko Haram and to run multi-national patrols along Nigeria’s borders. Details are available here.
On June 13th, following a ministerial meeting on security in Nigeria held by U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague, head of the U.N. Office for West Africa (UNOWA) Said Djinnit lamented that while efforts are underway to safely release the abducted Nigerian school girls, more civilians are killed and many others are being displaced by Boko Haram insurgents. Special Representative Djinnit also reiterated the U.N. commitment to promoting stability in Nigeria. More information can be found here.
On June 15th, after Nigerian police announced they had foiled a bomb plot targeting a church in Imo state, authorities arrested 486 suspected Boko Haram militants in Abia State. The suspects, aged between 16 and 24, were traveling in buses on the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway when they were stopped by Nigeria soldiers. An article on the arrests and the ongoing investigation of the suspects’ ties to Boko Haram can be read here.
On June 16th, marking the Day of the African Child, U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown called for the world to remember the kidnapped schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria, while also praising young people around the world as they mobilize to demand education for all. Special Envoy Brown’s comments on the Day of the African Child were transcribed here.
On June 17th, a bomb exploded at a football viewing center in Damaturu, Nigeria, where fans had gathered to watch the World Cup game between Brazil and Mexico. According to local police in Yobe state, there were no immediate reports of death, but hospitals confirmed they were treating victims wounded in the attack. Since then, 21 deaths have been reported. Authorities in Nigeria’s Adamawa and Plateau states had already decided to close viewing centers in advance of the World Cup, following an incident earlier this month when an explosion in Mubi killed 40 football fans. More information can be seen here.
On June 19th, in response to some media commentators suggesting that Boko Haram’s uprising in Nigeria could result in a military coup, Nigerian Chief of Defense Staff Alex Badeh said that rumors of a military coup are negative and unfounded. Furthermore, Chief of Staff Badeh described the Nigerian military as a group of professionals with no option but to love Nigeria. His comments can be accessed here.
On June 13th, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) warned that Egypt’s judicial system has again come up short after a criminal court handed down a harsh jail sentence for 25 activists, including prominent blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah. The defendants were reportedly charged for breaching the protest law, illegal gathering, theft, and attacking officials on duty. OHCHR expressed concern about the decision by a Cairo criminal court on Wednesday to sentence the activists in absentia to 15 years imprisonment and to a fine and a further five years of police surveillance after their release. The complete story can be read here.
On June 15th, the World Bank Group launched consultations with a diversified group of stakeholders in preparation for its new partnership framework with Egypt, which will guide the Bank’s engagement in the country during the period of 2015-2019. The framework aims at supporting Egypt’s development priorities per the regional strategy of the World Bank Group in the Middle East and North Africa and the World Bank’s overarching goal of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. More information on this framework can be viewed here.
On June 16th, the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars held an event titled, “What to Expect from the Al-Sisi Presidency.” Presenters included former Ambassador of Egypt to South Africa and to Czechoslovakia and former Egyptian Minister of Family and Population Moushira Khattab, Marinia Ottaway of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an Emad El-Din Shahin of The American University in Cairo. Details on the event and the speakers can be found here.
On June 17th, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi chaired the first meeting of his new cabinet shortly after cabinet members were sworn in at the presidential palace in Cairo. The new cabinet consists of 34 ministers, 13 of whom are new to the Cabinet. The cabinet will be led by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab, who has vowed to combat corruption, ensure the return of stability, and build a strong state. More information on the new cabinet was reported here.
On June 17th, Abdullah Elshamy, an Al Jazeera reporter who has been held in an Egyptian jail since last August on accusations of several violence-related crimes, was released from prison on medical grounds. For nearly half the time he was imprisoned, Elshamy was on hunger-strike in protest of the politicization of his case. Elshamy had previously been sent to solitary confinement when doctors warned that he was on the verge of death. The full story is available here.
On June 19th, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its FY15 State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill. The bill would cut U.S. aid to Egypt by $400 million – a cut of roughly 26% from current funding levels. In their bill, House appropriators opted to fund military aid to Egypt at $1.3 billion and to provide an additional $200 million in economic assistance, representing a cut of just $50 million. More information can be found here.
On June 13th, Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of Food for Peace Dina Esposito authored a post for USAID’s Impact Blog on efforts to combat food insecurity in South Sudan. In February 2014, USAID shipped 20,000 metric tons of U.S. food to the region. By May, when U.N. officials alerted the world to the possibility of famine, Food for Peace rapidly mobilized resources for the U.N. World Food Program’s (WFP) South Sudan initiative. At the South Sudan Humanitarian Pledging Conference in Oslo, Norway in May, $112 million of the almost $300 million pledged by the U.S. Government was for food assistance. The full blog post can be read here.
On June 14th, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released a $1.8 billion plan to assist 3.8 million people in South Sudan who are vulnerable to hunger, violence, and disease through the end of this year. According to U.N. officials, their appeal for aid is now even more urgent with heavy rains setting in and further deteriorating humanitarian conditions. Some $740 million in humanitarian assistance has already been mobilized in the country as part of the South Sudan Crisis Response Plan.
United States – Africa Relations
On June 13th, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Erica Barks Ruggles to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda and Earl Robert Miller to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Botswana. Ruggles is a career member of the Foreign Service who is currently serving as Consul General at the U.S. Consulate in Cape Town, South Africa. Miller, also a career member of the Foreign Service is currently managing Director of the Visa Office in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs and has served at a number of U.S. diplomatic posts in Africa. The nominations were announced here.
On June 16th, as part of his trip to Brazil, Columbia, and the Dominican Republic (DR), Vice President Biden attended the World Cup soccer game in Natal, Brazil, between the U.S. and Ghana. The U.S. team beat the Ghana team by a score of 2-1. A background briefing on Vice President Biden’s travel, which notes his attendance at the U.S.-Ghana match, was transcribed here.
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
On June 16th, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) for Europe and the Middle East Daniel Mullaney led an interagency delegation to Tunis, Tunisia, for a meeting of the U.S.-Tunisia Council on Trade and Investment. Assistant USTR Mullaney’s travel was noted here.
On June 16th, USTR issued a fact sheet titled, “Trade, Illegal Wildlife Trafficking, and National Security.” According to the fact sheet, increased demand for elephant ivory and rhino horn has increased poaching
in Africa. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) estimates more than 20,000 African elephants were victims of poaching in 2013. Criminal elements of all kinds, including terrorist organizations, are involved in poaching and transporting ivory and rhino horn across Africa. There is evidence that some groups then trade wildlife products for weapons or safe haven. The full fact sheet can be downloaded here.
On June 12th, Secretary of State John Kerry delivered remarks condemning the conviction and continued imprisonment of Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag by authorities in Sudan. As the mother of two young children, Secretary Kerry argued that Ishag should be home with her family rather than held in prison on charges of apostasy. In addition, Secretary Kerry urged Sudan to repeal its laws that reject the fundamental right to freedom of religion and that are contrary to Sudan’s commitment to respect universal human rights. Secretary Kerry’s remarks were posted here.
On June 12th, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power condemned recent attacks by the Sudanese Government’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on civilians in Sudan’s Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. Ambassador Power also highlighted that the RSF forces have reportedly been targeting schools and hospitals. Ambassador Power’s comments were noted here.
On June 13th, Secretary of State John Kerry was on travel to London, U.K. to attend the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, where he delivered the keynote address. Secretary Kerry was accompanied by Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall, Ambassador-At-Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen Rapp, Ambassador-At-Large for Global Women’s Issues Catherine Russell, Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Russ Feingold, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki, and Vice Admiral Kurt Tidd of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). Secretary Kerry also participated in a closing joint press conference with U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague and U.N. High Commission on Refugees Special Envoy Angelina Jolie. Information on the Summit can be found here. Secretary Kerry’s address, which noted sexual violence in the DRC and Kenya, can be viewed here.
On June 13th, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski met with the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) at the Department of State. CIHRS works to promote respect for the principles of human rights and democracy in the Arab region. The meeting was included on the State Department’s daily appointment schedule, which can be viewed here.
On June 13th, the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program offered rewards for information on four terrorists operating in North and West Africa. Rewards of up to $5 million were offered for information on the location of Khalid al-Barnawi of Nigeria-based terrorist group Ansaru, as well as Hamad el Khairy and Ahmed el Tilemsi of the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA). Rewards of up to $3 million were offered for information leading to the arrest or conviction of Abu-Yusuf al-Muhajir a former explosives expert for the Tawhid w’al Jihad-Egypt (TWJ-Egypt), an extremist group based in the Sinai Peninsula. More information on the rewards was posted here.
On June 16th, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom departed on foreign travel to Senegal, Kenya, and Liberia. While in Dakar, Senegal, Deputy Secretary Higginbottom met with senior Senegalese officials, including Prime Minister Aminata Toure and Minister of Economy and Finance Amadou Ba. In Nairobi, Kenya, Deputy Secretary Higginbottom met with senior Kenyan Government officials to discuss a range of issues of mutual interest in the U.S.-Kenya partnership, such as health, wildlife conservation, economic development and commercial ties, and security. During her last stop in Monrovia, Liberia, Deputy Secretary Higginbottom met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and other Liberian officials. Deputy Secretary Higginbottom’s complete travel itinerary was released here.
On June 17th, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a press statement congratulating Seychelles on 21 years of independence. Secretary Kerry expressed appreciation for Seychelles’ ongoing efforts in support of regional security and its work to combat piracy and make the world’s oceans a safer place. Secretary Kerry also applauded Seychelles’ sustainable management of its ocean resources and initiatives to protect the oceans from the threat of pollution, overfishing, and other human impacts.
Secretary Kerry’s full statement can be read here.
On June 17th, 500 Washington Fellows arrived in the U.S. as part of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, the flagship program of President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Through the program, 500 of Africa’s most promising young leaders will participate in academic coursework, leadership training, networking, and professional opportunities at U.S. colleges and universities. There were more than 49,000 applicants for this year’s program and those selected represent all 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Details can be seen here.
On June 17th-19th, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William Brownfield visited Morocco and Italy. In Morocco, Ambassador Brownfield signed an agreement with the Government of Morocco to support ongoing law enforcement cooperation and police reform. Assistant Secretary Brownfield’s travel was announced here.
On June 18th, U.S. Special Representative for Global Partnerships Andrew O’Brien kicked off a Diaspora Tour at the Africa in Action Diaspora Conference in London, U.K. The Tour will feature keynote addresses and panel discussions with leading diaspora experts, students and university faculty, community leaders, local government officials, and civic leaders to help uncover new ways of collaborating around innovation, entrepreneurship, and youth-focused engagements. Details on the Tour were shared here.
On June 23rd, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield will participate in a briefing hosted by the Women’s Foreign Policy Group. The discussion will be centered on U.S. foreign policy challenges and opportunities in Africa. Event logistics can be accessed here.
Department of Defense
On June 13th, the New York Times Magazine profiled Commander of U.S. Special Operations forces in Africa Brigadier General James Linder. Brigadier General Linder identified several threats facing U.S. interests in Africa, including the activities of extremist groups such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al Shabaab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia and Libya. The full article can be read here.
On June 14th, the guided-missile destroyer USS James E. Williams participated in a bilateral engagement with the Tunisian Navy in the Mediterranean Sea. The engagement sought to enhance U.S.-Tunisian interoperability and strengthen Tunisian capabilities for promoting maritime security in its waters. The exercise focused on maneuvers against small boat attacks that can be used in operations to counter illicit trafficking. The exercise was detailed here.
On June 16th, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) noted that public information officers from countries contributing troops to the African Union (AU) Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) recently attended a seminar at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, to share best practices when communicating with the public, local leaders, and news media. Participants included AMISOM Deputy Force Commander Ugandan Army General Geoffrey Baraba Muheesi and officers from the armed forces of Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, and Uganda. Details were reported here.
On June 16th, in preparation for their deployment to Africa, Camp Lejeune Marines completed training in marksmanship, general engineering, and convoy operations. Some of these Marines will conduct train-and-equip missions in Uganda and Burundi, while others will work on maritime security in Mauritania, Cameroon, and Senegal. More details can be viewed here.
On June 16th, more than 40 U.S. airmen arrived in Dakar, Senegal, to participate in Africa Partnership Flight, which is co-hosted by the U.S. and Senegalese governments. Airmen from Senegal, Togo, Ghana, Benin, Mauritania, Nigeria, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso will participate in the exercise, which will entail both classroom discussions and hands on experience in mission planning, aeromedical evacuation, cargo loading, base defense, and ground and flight safety. Africa Partnership Flight was described here.
On June 17th, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel John Crisafulli was awarded the French National Defense Medal for his exceptional service in close operational coordination with French forces during his tour as
U.S. Africa Liaison Officer (LNO) to AFRICOM. Lieutenant Colonel Crisafulli was specifically recognized for his personal engagement during the provision of U.S. support to French Operation SERVAL in Mali, and for his assistance in coordinating U.S. transport of African forces supporting French Operation SANGARIS in the Central African Republic (CAR). More information is available here.
On June 17th, as part of the AFRICOM Commander’s Speaker Series at the U.S. Army Garrison in Stuttgart, Germany, Karl von Hasburg-Lothringen and Dr. Joris Kila visited AFRICOM headquarters to speak about cultural property protection in Africa. Hasburg-Lothringen is the President of the Association of National Committees of the Blue Shield and has conducted several assessments of the effects of armed conflict on cultural property in northern Africa, including expeditions to Mali and Libya. More information was shared here.
U.S. Trade and Development Agency
On June 18th, U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) Director Leocadia Zak led the U.S. delegation including representatives from USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank of the U.S., the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and the U.S. African Development Foundation to the Africa Energy Forum in Istanbul, Turkey. As part of the Forum, the U.S. delegation presented on President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative during a roundtable on “Accessing the U.S. Government’s Toolkit for Africa’s Power Sector.” Details on the U.S. Government’s participation in the Africa Energy Forum are available here.
On June 19th, USTDA announced that it will co-host two African Leaders’ Visits to the U.S. July 30th-August 1st, to build up momentum for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit that President Barack Obama will host in Washington, DC, in early August. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), USTDA will host delegates from Angola, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and South Africa who have announced plans for significant near-term expansion in both rail and aviation infrastructure. In addition, USTDA and the Department of Energy (DOE) will co-host delegates from Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, and Tanzania, who are facing important decisions on how best to develop significant recent natural gas discoveries. The African Leaders’ Visits were announced here.
Overseas Private Investment Corporation
On June 13th, The OPIC Blog featured a post detailing how a bankable power purchase agreement (PPA) helps private sector investment in African power. During the U.S.-Africa Energy Ministerial (AEM) held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, earlier this month, while promoting President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative, OPIC President Elizabeth Littlefield shared a framework document outlining the 10 key elements of a PPA and its benefits in Africa. The full blog post can be read here.
On June 13th, Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and the Congressional Black Caucus Africa Task Force hosted an event titled, “Engaging wall Street on Power Africa,” in New York City. The goal of the event was to outline the ways that U.S. companies can access new business opportunities through President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative. During the event, industry executives and government officials discussed how investors can identify and structure projects in Africa. The event was highlighted here.
On June 17th the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing to consider a number of ambassadorial nominations. Among the nominees considered was Joan Polaschik to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Algeria. During her testimony, Polashick committed to working with Algeria to fight terrorism and to increase commercial trade between Algeria and the U.S. A webcast of the hearing can be watched here.
On June 19th, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Bob Corker (R-TN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Mike Johanns (R-NE) introduced the Energize Africa Act, a bill to help provide nearly 600 million Africans with electricity. The legislation would make it U.S. policy to help 50 million Africans with first-time access to electricity and add 20,000 megawatts of electricity to the grid by 2020. The legislative text can be downloaded here.
On June 24th, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to vote on the nomination of Ambassador Robert Beecroft to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, among other bills and nominees. The business meeting was noticed here.
On June 26th, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a nominations hearing. The Committee will receive testimony on Alfonso Lenhardt’s nomination to serve as USAID Deputy Administrator and Marcia Denise Occomy’s nomination to serve as U.S. Executive Director of the African Development Bank. Hearing details were posted here.
On June 13th, OHCHR urged the Government of Mauritania to protect prominent human rights activist Aminetou Mint El-Moctar who has become the focus of a social media campaign inciting her murder. Moctar has been targeted since the leader of a movement known as Friend of the Prophet issued a fatwa against her because she publicly demanded a fair trial procedure, in compliance with Mauritania’s international human rights obligations, for Mohamed Ould M’Kaitir. The full story is available here.
On June 16th, the World Bank announced the new $50 million Third Export Development Project in Tunisia, which is intended to help Tunisian enterprises produce and export goods and services with higher value to new markets. The project will focus on increasing the competitiveness of Tunisian exports by improving trade logistics, strengthening Tunisia’s export promotion center, creating access to financing from commercial banks, and helping Tunisia to develop a strategy for producing higher value-added goods. The project was described here.
On June 16th, The Heritage Foundation and the Benghazi Accountability Coalition co-hosted an event on the September 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Several panels of speakers discussed a range of issues including unanswered questions, the Obama Administration’s response to the attack, and the challenges for the House Select Committee on Benghazi. The full agenda and a recording of the event are available here.
On June 17th, International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda briefed the U.N. Security Council on challenges as part of the ongoing crises in the Darfur region of Sudan. Prosecutor Bensouda argued that concrete steps are needed to apprehend those guilty of crimes against humanity. She cautioned that the ICC’s judicial process cannot take place without arrests. Highlights from the briefing were noted here.
On June 25th, the Center for National Policy (CNP) will host four members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt (AmCham Egypt) to discuss Egypt’s economy, especially anticipated reforms following Egypt’s presidential elections. The panelists are part of a 40-member delegation that is visiting Washington, DC, June 23rd-27th. Event logistics were posted here.
On June 11th, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported on the efforts of Kenya’s Energy Regulatory Commission to improve energy access for students in the country. The Government of Kenya has been working with partners in rural communities to turn primary schools into incubation centers for renewable energy. The Kenyan Bureau of Statistics estimates that only 28% of Kenyans, most who are living in urban areas, are connected to the national electricity grid. Details can be seen here.
On June 12th, Finance Ministers from Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda presented their tax proposals for the 2014/2015 fiscal year through budget statements. In general, the ministers proposed to abolish some existing tax exemptions and to implement new taxes, including fees on earnings from sports and gaming and sales of commercial property to help raise revenue. The ministers also addressed how electronic tax payment methods could be helpful in improving tax compliance. Information on the proposals can be found here.
On June 13th, the World Bank announced it has provided a $10 million grant from the Statistics for Results Catalytic Fund, to help the Government of Ethiopia increase the quality of its official statistics. The project will support the implementation of Ethiopia’s National Strategy for the Development of Statistics. It will improve statistics by enhancing the organizational, human and physical capacity of the
Central Statistics Agency (CSA). Specifics on funding allocation can be viewed here.
On June 17th, the World Bank issued its fourth Uganda Economic Update titled, “Reducing Old Age and Economic Vulnerabilities: Why Uganda Should Improve Its Pension System.” According to the report, of Uganda’s 15 million-strong workforce, only 2.5 million people are employed in formal wage paying jobs and just 750,000 of those employees qualify for retirement benefits under the existing pensions system. The report suggests that addressing the flaws in the current system can help reduce old age vulnerabilities, promote social transformation, and accelerate economic development. The report’s findings were highlighted here.
On June 12th, education ministers and delegates from 12 African nations formed a broad framework for collaboration between governments, the private sector, and education/training institutions that will strengthen technical and scientific skills in Africa. The initiative was launched on the final day of the Dakar Forum, when participants including government ministers, scientists, academics, and business leaders signed a call-to-action outlining how partners will work together to support the skills-building needs of sub-Saharan African countries. Specifics on the framework can be viewed here.
On June 13th, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved $85 million in International Development Association (IDA) financing for Burkina Faso to expand electricity access to communities and boost growth in agriculture and livestock to reduce poverty and improve shared prosperity. The funds support the Electricity Sector Support Project (ESSP), with an additional US $35 million in IDA financing. The project will help provide electricity access to about 80 additional communities by expanding the electricity grid and installing hybrid mini grids and solar home systems in remote and poor communities. Data on the funding allocations was posted here.
On June 16th, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said talk of “Africa Rising” obscures the plight of African girls, many whom do not receive an education. She touted that Africa's economy has grown at more than 5% annually over the past decade. However, she noted that that growth has not bettered the lives of the most vulnerable. She recommended investing some of the revenue generated from that growth in education so that girls finally have a place in the classroom. President Sirleaf’s comments were transcribed here.
On June 16th, the World Bank and the Africa Caribbean Pacific - European Union (EU) Natural Disaster Risk Reduction Program (ACPEU NDRR), an initiative of the ACP Group funded by the EU and managed by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), announced their decision to finance an almost $1 million disaster risk reduction project in Niger to mitigate the threats caused by natural disasters, such as food insecurity. Nearly 3,000 people have been trained in disaster risk management under the project, including 943 women. In the first year of the project, teams have successfully integrated disaster risk management into 10 community development plans, ensuring sustainable and resilient growth. More information was shared here.
On June 16th, U.N. Special Representative to Cote d’Ivoire and head of the U.N. Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) Aichatou Mindaoudou briefed the U.N. Security Council on developments in the country. Special Representative Mindaoudou reported progress and that planning continues for the reduction of peacekeeping personnel in Cote d’Ivoire, but noted that the rapid reaction capabilities of remaining forces must be boosted to help ensure security during planned elections. Since violence erupted in Côte d’Ivoire when Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down, U.N. officials have encouraged all Ivorian political actors to work in support of an inclusive political dialogue and national reconciliation. Excerpts of the Security Council briefing were highlighted here.
On June 16th, the World Bank approved $50 million in IDA financing to help Guinea’s national power utility, the EDG, improve electricity services for an estimated 1.5 million people and to help promote small business development and private sector investment. World Bank financing will be used to fund a management contract for an international caliber private operator to work with EDG and to rehabilitate and upgrade the national distribution system to improve electricity reliability and reduce power losses. The financing award was announced here.
On June 16th, the World Bank officially inaugurated its newest office in Monrovia, Liberia, and reiterated
its commitment to assisting the country in achieving its development goals. Liberia first joined the World Bank in 1962, becoming the World Bank’s 75th member. Recently, the World Bank has been prioritizing investments in Liberia’s infrastructure sector, including in road, energy, and communications projects. The office opening was noted here.
On June 17th, the World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors approved a $200 million IDA credit to help Nigeria finance improvements to Oya state’s disaster risk management capabilities, to strengthen community-based resilience capacity, and to facilitate the use of risk assessment and early warning systems in Ibadan. Flooding in the area in 2011 resulted in significant human and economic losses in housing, education, agriculture, and transportation. The Ibadan Urban Flood Management Project was detailed here.
On June 18th, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the death toll from the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa has now reached 337, making it the deadliest ever outbreak of the disease. To date, 264 deaths have been reported in Guinea, in addition to 49 in Sierra Leone and 24 in Liberia. Health experts are beginning to express concerns that the outbreak may be spreading as a result of mourners touching the bodies’ of those who have died from the disease during traditional funeral services. Developments regarding the Ebola outbreak in West Africa were reported here.
On June 18th, The Telegraph reported that former Liberian President and African warlord Charles Taylor is suing the U.K. on claims that his detention in a Durham jail is a violation of human rights because he is being denied his right to a family life. The U.K. agreed to imprison Taylor after he was sentenced to 50 years by The Hague for his involvement in murders, rapes, torture, and the enslavement of child soldiers in Liberia. The full story can be accessed here.
On June 18th, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous briefed the U.N. Security Council on progress in Mali. Under-Secretary-General Ladsous noted that a successful political process will be essential to achieving long term stability, especially following the recent deterioration of the security situation in Kidal. Under-Secretary-General Ladsous expressed concern that the Malian Government and armed groups in the northern part of the country have made little progress towards substantive dialogue under the Ouagadougou Agreement. The briefing was summarized here.
On June 18th, a Malian mission led by Minister of Economy and Finance Bouare Fily Sissoko concluded a visit to IMF headquarters in Washington, DC, for a series of meetings. Following the meetings, Minister Sissoko and IMIF Mission Chief for Mali Christian Josz noted that over the past several weeks the IMF and Mali have held discussions on the recent purchase of an aircraft, a Ministry of Defense and Veterans Affairs contract for the supply of goods other than arms and munitions, and the issuance of a government guarantee for the amount related to these and other contracts. The purpose of these discussions was to ensure that public finance management in Mali is being conducted in a manner that is consistent with Mali’s quantitative targets and commitments to good governance. A joint statement on the meetings can be found here.
On June 18th, World Bank Vice President for Africa Makhtar Diop arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone for an official visit. Vice President Diop is scheduled to participate in the Consultative Group meetings on Sierra Leone and to hold high level talks on a wide range of development issues with President Ernest Bai Koroma, senior government officials, development partners, civil society, and the media. Vice President Diop’s trip to Sierra Leone was announced here.
On June 18th, the World Bank provided insights on the successful implementation of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP) in Sierra Leone. As part of the program, thousands of rice farmers have benefitted from the new System of Rice Intensification (SRI), which supports farmers with herbicides, organic fertilizers, and new farming methods, such as single-seed planting with wide spacing, rather than the traditional cluster method. Details on WAAPP’s success in Sierra Leone can be viewed here.
On June 10th, Rwanda’s Ministry of Natural Resources unveiled a new monitoring system to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by deforestation and forest degradation as part of Rwanda joining the U.N. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program.
According to Rwandan officials who expressed support for the new monitoring system as part of Rwanda’s commitment to protect its forests and encourage sustainable development, Rwanda’s REDD+ plan will be presented to the U.N. for approval later this month. More information was shared here.
On June 10th, the Mozambique Ministry of Education released its joint initiative to improve the resiliency of school infrastructure to natural disasters. In 2012, Cyclone Funso and Tropical Storm Dando damaged 1,000 classrooms along the eastern coastline and in 2013 heavy flooding affected 250 classrooms in the Limpopo Basin. Bureaucrats will first conduct risk assessments of schools and then, depending on a school’s conditions, will order repairs. More details on the initiative were discussed here.
On June 11th, Martin Kobler, U.N. Special Representative to the DRC and head of the U.N. Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), called on Rwanda and the DRC to restore calm after clashes in the Kibumba border area. He also said that MONUSCO would support any efforts that aimed at restoring stability in the area. Special Representative Kobler’s full statement can be seen here.
On June 12th, a group of U.N. human rights experts expressed serious concerns regarding the ongoing detention of human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko and the Editor-in-Chief of The Nation magazine Bheki Makhubu in Swaziland. The U.N. experts said that their detention is a violation of Swaziland’s international human rights obligations, particularly article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. More information is available here.
On June 13th, the AU Commission, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) announced a collaborative effort to improve Sub-Saharan Africa’s infrastructure. They seek to secure the funds necessary to pay for projects estimated at $93 billion each year. Their goals of the joint effort were outlined here.
On June 13th, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission concluded a visit to Bujumbura, Burundi, for discussions under the IMF’s Article IV consultations and the fifth review of the government’s economic and financial program supported by the IMF under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF). The mission met with Second Vice-President Gervais Rufyikiri, President of the Senate Gabriel Ntisezerana, Minister of Finance Tabu Abdallah Manirakiza, Governor of the Central Bank of Burundi Jean Ciza, and other senior government officials. The IMF staff found that Burundi’s economic growth is expected to improve to 4.7% in 2014, due to advances in the country’s agricultural and infrastructure sectors. The press release for the mission was posted here.
On June 17th, J. Peter Pham, Director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, argued in a column in The Hill that newfound prosperity in DRC belies structural political and economic problems that have bedeviled the nation for over a century. Despite the DRC’s wealth of resources, he argues the nation’s people are among the poorest in Africa because foreign businesses, along with corrupt politicians, do not share the resources they tap. In addition, Pham expressed his belief that the DRC’s widespread poverty, which stems from an inequitable distribution of wealth, will depress the nation for the foreseeable future. His entire column was posted here.
On June 17th, President and CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa Stephen Hayes authored an op-ed for U.S. News arguing that USTR should choose to retain South Africa as eligible for benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). While South Africa is a success story for AGOA and some experts have suggested that the country could graduate from receiving AGOA benefits, Hayes argues that the benefits are necessary to ensure that bilateral trade is not reduced. The full op-ed can be read here.
General Africa News
On June 13th, the U.N. CITIES released a report finding that the level of elephant poaching across Africa remains alarmingly high. The report by the Convention’s Secretariat suggests that although the sharp upward trend in illegal elephant killing observed since the mid-2000s is levelling off, poaching levels continue to far exceed the natural elephant population growth rates, resulting in a further decline in elephant populations across Africa. Details on the report can be viewed here.
On June 13th, the Brookings Center for East Asia Policy Studies and the Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) co-hosted a briefing on “Rethinking the Aid Paradigm: Japan’s Engagement in Africa.” The discussion
focused on identifying key recommendations for policymakers looking to capitalize on Japan’s and other countries new engagement strategies in Africa to help achieve local development goals. Speakers included Mireya Solis of the Center for East Asia Policy Studies, Vice President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency Hiroshi Kato, Satohiro Akimoto of Mitsubishi Corporation, Amadou Sy of AGI, and Keiko Honda of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. A recording of the event can be accessed here.
On May 14th, Forbes reported that the investment firm founded by Mara Group founder Ashish Thakkar and former Barclays Chief Bob Diamond is looking to raise an additional $400 million to fund its investments in Africa. In particular, the group is looking to support projects in Angola, Ethiopia, and Cote d’Ivoire. More information can be seen here.
On June 19th, Health24 reported on the findings of the recently released Sanofi Fights Against Counterfeit Medicines Report. While the WHO estimated that 10% to 15% of the global drug supply is fake, the report suggests that fake medicines may account for as much as 30% of all medications in circulation in Africa. The full report can be downloaded here.