Leading the News
On May 21st, following the White House’s announcement of its decision to deploy 80 troops to Chad to assist in the search for the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) issued a statement welcoming increased U.S. support on intelligence gathering and surveillance in the search for the missing schoolgirls. However, Congressman Royce urged that the U.S. should to more to advise and assist those engaged in rescue efforts. Congressman Royce’s full statement was issued here.
On May 22nd, as expected, the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council approved sanctions against Boko Haram. The organization has now been added to a list of Al Qaeda linked entities subject to an arms embargo and asset freezes. The U.N. sanctions were announced here.
On May 26th, speaking at the 2014 Democracy Day Interdenominational Church Service in Abuja, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said he believes that the perpetrators of violent terrorist attacks in Nigeria are plotting to bring down his government. President Jonathan said had it not been for these distractions, Nigeria would have progressed further under his leadership. In addition, he said that despite the challenges facing Nigeria, elections will proceed next year as scheduled. Excerpts from President Jonathan’s comments can be viewed here.
On May 26th, Nigerian Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh publically announced that Nigeria’s military knows the location of the nearly 300 girls kidnapped last month by Boko Haram. Speaking on Nigerian public television, Air Chief Marshal Badeh added that the Nigerian military would not undertake any rescue attempt that would endanger the lives of the victims. He declined to provide any further details on where the girls may be located and whether or not they remain in one group or have been split up. Developments in the search for the missing schoolgirls were reported here.
On May 27th, following reports that the Nigerian military had determined the location of the schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said that the U.S. has obtained no independent information to support such reports. In addition, Spokesperson Pskai said that as a matter of policy and for the girls’ safety and wellbeing, the State Department would not discuss any information on the girls’ location. Spokesperson Psaki’s comments were transcribed here.
On May 28th, Al Jazeera reported that former Nigerian President Olusegun Obsanjo has met with people close to Boko Haram in hopes of negotiating the release of the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram militants. Allegedly, President Obsanjo has proposed a prisoner swap that would result in the release of some of the girls in exchange for a group of Boko Haram fighters held in Nigerian custody. The current Nigerian Government has publically ruled out a prisoner swap, but has indicated it has also sent intermediaries to negotiate with Boko Haram. The full story is available here.
On May 29th, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan released a pre-recorded Democracy Day speech reiterating his administration’s commitment to do everything possible to bring home the schoolgirls who were abducted by Boko Haram. President Jonathan pledged to wage total war against terrorism and said the Nigerian Government is open to dialogue with citizens who backed Al Qaeda or other militant groups if they renounced terrorism. Excerpts from the address were highlighted here.
On May 21st, as the security situation in Libya continued to deteriorate, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Spokesman Benjamin Benson said U.S. initiatives to train Libyan troops are still in the planning phases. Spokesman Benson indicated it is unclear if recent developments in Libya will further delay training efforts. Comments from Spokesman Benson were provided here.
On May 23rd, the U.S., the European Union (EU), France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom (U.K.) issued a joint statement on Libya. International leaders expressed deep concern for the repeated acts of violence and called on all sides of the conflict in Libya to refrain from the use of force and to address differences by political means. In addition, the leaders emphasized the importance of Libya carrying out a peaceful and democratic transition and offered to help facilitate dialogue and reconciliation as part of Libya’s stabilization process. The full joint statement was posted here.
On May 24th, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement expressing concern for the growing military mobilization in and around Tripoli, Libya. Acknowledging Libya’s deteriorating security situation, Secretary-General Ban urged all parties to resume dialogue and personally offered to facilitate such discussions. He also urged Libyan authorities to uphold their duties to protect civilians. Secretary-General Ban’s statement can be read here.
On May 27th, gunmen attacked the home of Libya’s newly elected Prime Minister Ahmed Miitig in Tripoli. While Prime Minister Miitig and his family were home at the time of the attack, they escaped unharmed. The attack occurred as U.S. defense officials announced the deployment of an amphibious assault ship, the USS Bataan, 1,000 Marines, and several helicopters to the Libyan coast to provide assistance in evacuating the U.S. Embassy in Libya, if necessary. Developments in Libya were summarized here.
On May 27th, Mohamed Zahawi, leader of Ansar Al Sharia, the Islamist militant group listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. after orchestrating the September 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, accused the U.S. of backing former Libyan General Khalifa Hiftar in his campaign to rid Libya of Islamist militants. Zahawi warned that should the U.S. intervene in Libya, it would face repercussion worse than the conflicts in Somalia, Iraq, or Afghanistan. Zahawi’s comments were transcribed here.
On May 27th, the State Department issued a travel warning U.S. citizens against all travel to Libya and recommending that U.S. citizens currently in Libya depart immediately. Due to security concerns, the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli announced a shift to limited staffing at the Embassy and the availability of only limited emergency services to U.S. citizens in Libya. The travel alert was issued here.
On May 28th, the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) condemned the murder of Libyan newspaper editor Meftah Bouzid and defended freedom of the press in the country. Bouzid was shot dead in Benghazi on Monday. UNESCO believes that Bouzid was targeted because of his outspoken criticism of Islamist extremists, especially following reports that Bouzid had been receiving death threats leading up to his murder. The full story is available here.
On May 28th, the USS Bataan arrived in the Mediterranean carrying more than 1,000 Marines and aircraft that could be quickly deployed to Libya. Department of Defense (DOD) Spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said while there has been no request from the State Department for Marines to evacuate the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli or any other Americans in Libya, Marines have also already been
prepositioned in Italy as part of the Special Purpose Crisis Response Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SP-MAGTF). The ship’s arrival in the Mediterranean was reported here.
On May 26th, following a televised Sunday evening address by interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour encouraging high voter turnout, polling stations across Egypt opened for voting in the country’s presidential elections. Reports indicated high military and police presence as part of an effort to safeguard polling locations. Former Egyptian Field Marshal General Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi was largely expected to be victorious over leftist candidate Hamdeen Sabahi. Egypt is also on track to hold parliamentary elections later this year. The opening of the polls for the presidential vote was noted here.
On May 27th, Reuters reported that Egypt’s presidential election was being extended by one day as part of an effort to boost lower than expected voter turnout. Tuesday was also declared a public holiday to encourage participation in the election. The two-day vote was initially scheduled to conclude on Tuesday evening, but was extended through Wednesday. An article on the extension of the Egyptian election can be read here.
On May 29th, judicial sources in Egypt declared former Field Marshal General Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi the winner of Egypt’s presidential elections, having won 93.3% of the vote. Hamdeen Sabahi, the only other contender in the presidential race, won just 3% of the vote, while 3.7% of the votes were declared void. Elections analysts suggest that low voter turnout may have deprived General Sisi of the strong mandate needed to lead Egypt’s ongoing transition. According to the Egyptian Government, just 46% of Egypt’s 56 million voters turned out to vote. The elections were debriefed here.
On May 22nd, U.N. Special Representative to Somalia Nicholas Kay briefed the Security Council on developments in the country. While Special Representative Kay reported that security improvements have been made as the result of more coordination with the African Union (AU) Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), he cautioned that urgent progress is needed in revising and implementing the constitution, overseeing the establishment of federal states, and preparing for elections. He also expressed concern for political tensions in Mogadishu, especially given that more than 100 Members of the Somali Parliament have called for President Hassan Sheik Mohamoud to resign. Excerpts from the briefing were highlighted here.
On May 24th, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.N. Special Representative to Somalia Nicholas Kay condemned the attack by Al Shabaab suicide bombers and gunmen against the Somali Federal Parliament while lawmakers were in session. At least six attackers and one of the soldiers fighting them were killed in the attack. In the incident’s aftermath, U.N. officials commended the response of Somali National Forces, as well as AMISOM personnel, and underscored support for all actors working toward peace and stability in Somalia. The U.N.’s response to the attack can be seen here.
On May 24th, the U.S. State Department issued a statement condemning Al Shabaab’s attack on the Somali Parliament. State Department officials commended Somali and AU forces for their swift response and pledged to continue to stand firmly with the Government of Somalia and international partners to address the threat posed by Al Shabaab. The statement is available here.
On May 25th, following the weekend terrorist attack in Somalia, the U.N., the EU, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) issued a joint statement calling for a resolution to the political crisis in Somalia, especially as the development of a federal system, the constitution review process, and preparations for 2016 elections remain behind schedule. The U.N., the EU, and the IGAD said Saturday’s attacks demonstrate the need to redouble efforts towards peace and state-building in Somalia and that they stand ready to hold to account anyone who poses an obstacle to progress. Details can be found here.
On May 27th, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned that it will need to suspend essential health services in Somalia within one month if additional funding is not received. More than 70% of health care services in Somalia are provided by UNICEF and U.N. partners, including supplies of medicines, all
vaccines, the wages of employees, training of health care workers, fuel for generators, water, and medical equipment. The warning was issued here.
On May 25th, Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh condemned Saturday’s Al Shabaab attack on the crowded La Chaumiere restaurant, which is notoriously popular with Westerners. According to the Djibouti Interior Ministry, two Somali suicide bombers launched grenades at the restaurant during the weekend dinner rush, killing three people and injuring at least 15 others. Several foreigners were among those injured in the attack. The incident was detailed here.
On May 27th, the State Department published a statement condemning the May 24th terrorist attack by Al Shabaab at Place Menelik in Djibouti City, Djibouti. Acknowledging President Barack Obama’s recent meeting with Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh at the White House, the State Department reiterated that Djibouti is a close partner of the U.S. and that the U.S. will continue to stand with Djibouti and other international partners in their efforts to counter Al Shabaab and promote regional stability and economic growth in the Horn of Africa. The full statement can be seen here.
On May 27th, Stars and Stripes reported that U.S. military personnel at Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti, have been restricted to the base following Saturday’s terrorist attack. No U.S. personnel were among those killed and injured in the attack. The Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) indicated that official business is continuing, but off-post missions are being carefully considered and the necessary precautions are being taken as the investigation of the attack continues. The full report can be accessed here.
On May 23rd, as AU and U.N. officials met with Tuareg rebels and Malian Government representatives in Kidal to push for a peace agreement, new fighting was reported in Kidal between Tuareg fighters for the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and Government forces. According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 3,000 people have fled Kidal in the direction of Gao since fighting broke out last Saturday. Developments in Mali were reported here.
On May 24th, Al Jazeera reported that Tuareg separatists in Mali accepted a ceasefire agreement proposed by AU and U.N. officials. Senior Tuareg officials also said that a deal was reached on an exchange of prisoners and an investigation of the recent fighting in Kidal. Meanwhile, Malian Defense Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maigas said that about 20 soldiers had been killed and 30 others wounded in a failed attempt by government forces to retake control of Kidal. Details can be found here.
On May 27th, U.N. officials reported that the May 23rd ceasefire agreement reached between the MNLA, the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA), and the Arab Movement of Azawar (MAA) in Mali appears to be holding. Meanwhile, U.N. entities began redeploying staff and supplies to northern Mali, where the recent violence in Kidal has displaced roughly 4,000 people. The U.N.’s observations in Mali were shared here.
On May 22nd, Malawian outgoing Deputy Local Government Minister Godfrey Kamanya shot himself in his home as the country’s electoral commission continued tallying votes in the May 20th general elections. Minister Kamanya left a suicide note, asking President Joyce Banda to take care of his daughter and provide for her education. Minister Kamanya’s staff denied that his suicide was linked to him apparently losing his parliamentary seat. The Malawi Election Commission was expected to announce elections results once 30% of the votes have been counted. More information can be viewed here.
On May 24th, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on all candidates, political parties, and state institutions in Malawi to remain calm and refrain from violence as the Malawi Electoral Commission completes it work related to Malawi’s recent presidential, parliamentary, and local government elections. Secretary-General Ban’s statement came as accusations of fraud surfaced, with Malawi’s High Court rejecting a decision by President Joyce Banda to annul the general election, in which she was a
candidate, because of alleged regulations. Developments following Malawi’s tripartite elections were noted here.
On May 25th, the Malawi Electoral Commission announced plans to recount ballots from the recent elections following the discovery of evidence of fraud and other irregularities. According to Malawi Electoral Commission Chairman Maxon Mbendera, in at least four cases, the total number of votes cast was higher than the number of total registered voters at certain polling stations. As of Sunday, the Commission reported it had counted roughly 62% of the votes from roughly half of all polling stations, but that results could be delayed as authorities proceed with a physical audit. Details can be found here.
On May 26th, the U.S. State Department indicated it is closely monitoring the situation in Malawi following the tripartite elections, while joining the AU and the international community in calling for calm as the Malawi Election Commission works to tally the vote and resolve challenges and complaints. In addition, the State Department urged all political leaders and their supporters to refrain from violence and to resolve any disputes in a manner that adheres to Malawi’s laws and constitution. A press release was published here.
On May 21st, the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) expressed concern following reports that two U.N. staff has been assaulted and illegally detained by South Sudanese security forces in Juba. UNMISS noted that these acts violate the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and called for the Government of South Sudan to investigate the allegations. UNMISS also expressed concern for the rising number of cholera cases in Juba, with 266 cases documented since May 20th. UNMISS observations on developments in South Sudan can be found here.
On May 23rd, U.N. Special Representative and Head of UNMISS Hilde Johnson met with rebel leader David Yau Yau of the South Sudan Democratic Movement/Army (SSDM/A) to discuss peace efforts in Jonglei state. During the meeting, the Yau Yau stressed the importance of implementing the May 9th peace agreement so that the people of Pibor and surrounding counties can start to build trust and stability with their neighbors and enjoy daily life without fighting. The discussion was summarized here.
On May 27th, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution extending UNMISS and revising its mandate to authorize the use of all necessary means to protect civilians, monitor and investigate human rights, create conditions for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and support the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement. In addition, the Security Council requested Secretary-General Ban to report on the need to increase UNMISS’s force levels related to the mission’s revised mandate. Details can be viewed here.
On May 27th, UNHCR said despite the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement on May 9th, 70,000 more people have fled their homes in South Sudan as the violence linked to the political dispute between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and former Deputy President Riek Machar continues. Roughly 370,000 people who have been displaced since fighting began in mid-December have now fled to Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda. An update from UNHCR on the situation in South Sudan can be viewed here.
Central African Republic
On May 23rd, UNHCR renewed its $22 million humanitarian appeal for humanitarian initiatives after reporting an alarmingly high rate of death among refugee children fleeing violence in the Central African Republic (CAR), with 30 deaths reported in the past month. Dehydration, hypothermia, and severe anemia have been the primary causes of death for child refugees headed to Cameroon. Meanwhile, the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) also reported that malnutrition rates are on the rise in Cameroon. More information can be seen here.
United States – Africa Relations
On May 23rd, President Barack Obama called South African President Jacob Zuma to congratulate him
on his reelection, which represents the African National Congress’s (ANC) fifth successful election in the post-apartheid era. The leaders noted that they look forward to continuing to work together on bilateral and multilateral issues of importance, and to ensuring that the upcoming U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit advances regional stability and economic growth. A readout of the call can be found here.
On May 28th, President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In his remarks, President Obama highlighted that the U.S. faces a growing threat from decentralized Al Qaeda affiliates, such as those responsible for attacks in Somalia and Kenya. President Obama also called on Congress to approve a new $5 billion Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund that would make resources available for counterterrorism initiatives, such as supporting a multinational force to keep peace in Somalia, working with European allies to train Libyan security forces, and facilitating French operations in Mali. In addition, President Obama reflected on his trip to Africa last year and highlighted U.S. efforts on the continent to fight AIDS, help farmers get their products to market, and double electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa. President Obama’s speech was transcribed here.
On May 22nd, the State Department released a statement congratulating Guinea-Bissau on the successful completion of its May 18th presidential elections and congratulating President-elect Jose Mario Vaz on his victory. State Department officials noted that the elections have created opportunities for comprehensive reforms to break Guinea-Bissau’s cycle of corruption and to make progress on providing public services and advancing development. The full statement can be read here.
On May 26th, the State Department released a media note welcoming the order issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) earlier this month requiring companies to comply with most due diligence and reporting requirements related to conflict minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and adjacent countries under its rule implementing Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The State Department noted that developing a legitimate mining industry is critical to building an economic foundation for sustainable peace in the Great Lakes region and applauded the efforts of U.S. companies, industry associations, and civil society groups to promote conflict-free sourcing for minerals from the region. The media note was posted here.
On May 27th, the State Department announced the lifting of all remaining restrictions on direct assistance to the Government of Madagascar, following Madagascar’s successful 2013 elections and the installation of a new government earlier this year. In addition, the State Department noted that in addition to the lifting of U.S. restrictions on assistance to Madagascar, because the AU has lifted its suspension of Madagascar’s membership, the U.S. has invited President Rajaonarimampianina to the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, planned for August 5th and 6th in Washington, DC. The lifting of restrictions on assistance to Madagascar was announced here.
On May 27th, Secretary of State John Kerry shared remarks on Ethiopia’s National Day. Secretary Kerry reflected on his visit to Ethiopia earlier this month, which he said served as a first-hand example of the longstanding partnership between the U.S. and Ethiopia. In addition, Secretary Kerry articulated the U.S. commitment to promoting Ethiopia’s economic growth and development, democratic governance, and respect for human rights, as well as peace and security in the region. Secretary Kerry’s statement on Ethiopia’s National Day can be viewed here.
On May 27th, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a press statement in recognition of Eritrean National Day. Secretary Kerry sent warm wishes to the people of Eritrea on the country’s 23rd anniversary of independence and noted the continued support of the U.S. in Eritrea’s pursuit of a free, prosperous, and democratic future. Secretary Kerry’s remarks were transcribed here.
On May 28th, Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen Rapp was on overseas travel to Freetown, Sierra Leone to receive the Master Peace Award for his former role as Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and for current support from the U.S. to the Court. Ambassador Rapp’s travel was noted here.
On May 29th, Secretary of State John Kerry distributed a press statement commemorating the International Day of U.N. Peacekeepers. Secretary Kerry specifically recognized the 116,000 men and
women serving across 16 U.N. peacekeeping missions, as well as the 140 U.S. military and police personnel deployed in support of U.N. peacekeeping operations in the DRC, Haiti, Liberia, Mali, South Sudan, and the Middle East. Secretary Kerry’s comments were shared here.
On May 29th, Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen Rapp continued his visit to Freetown, Sierra Leone. Ambassador Rapp met with officials of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Attorney General of Liberia, and representatives from the national police victim and witness protection unit. Ambassador Rapp’s appointments in Sierra Leone were listed here.
U.S. Agency for International Development
On May 22nd, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah and National Security Advisor Susan Rice unveiled a the Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy, a new effort to reduce the number of chronically malnourished or stunted children by at least two million over the next five years and hold global acute malnutrition below the agreed emergency threshold of 15% in places with humanitarian crises, such as South Sudan and the CAR. The Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy was launched at the 2014 Chicago Council Global Food Symposium in Washington. The new initiative was detailed here.
On May 29th, Director of USAID’s Office of HIV/AIDS David Stanton authored a post for the agency’s Impact Blog on the future of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The blog post outlines newly sworn in U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Deborah Birx’s vision for the ongoing implementation of PEPFAR, including a renewed emphasis on an AIDS vaccine, mobilizing and establishing strong health systems where AIDS is prevalent, and drawing on the strengths of all U.S. agencies and partners in implementing PEPFAR. The blog post can be read here.
Department of Defense
On May 23rd, the Washington Post published a map flagging 13 African countries where the U.S. military is involved in actual military operations as part of a growing shadow war against Al Qaeda affiliates and other militant groups on the continent. According to the report, U.S. military personnel are currently deployed in Burkina Faso, the DRC, the CAR, Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda to engage in activities ranging from protection of U.S. citizens and property, drone strikes and surveillance, and the search for Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony. The map can be accessed here.
On May 26th, the New York Times reported that U.S. Special Operations troops are forming elite counterterrorism units in Libya, Niger, Mauritania, and Mali with the goal of enhancing the capabilities of African counterterrorism teams to combat Al Qaeda affiliates in Africa. As part of the classified program, the Pentagon is funneling resources to North and West Africa to be used for training, procurement of intelligence gathering equipment, and other forms of support. Details were reported here.
On May 27th, U.S. Army Africa (USARAF) reported that two U.S. senior noncommissioned officers recently spent more than three months working with Malawi Defense Force senior enlisted advisors at the Malawi Sergeants Major Academy. The event was part of the Africa Military Education Program that focuses on improving the capacities of African military and training institutions. More information was shared here.
On May 27th, CJTF-HOA ran an article detailing the efforts of CJTF-HOA Directorates to teach Burundi National Defense Force (BNDF) members how to use the AFRICOM Data Sharing Network (ADSN). The communications system is used to share information between military partners in troop-contributing nations. The article can be read here.
On May 27th, AFRICOM noted that U.S. military doctors at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti and French military doctors at the neighboring French Air Base, Base Aerienne recently completed biannual exercises aimed at saving lives during mass casualty incidents. Following the event that included a simulated explosion on a French C-160 at Base Aerienne, U.S. and French military leaders met to discuss advancements from previous exercises, as well as ways to improve future joint exercises. The event was described here.
On May 28th, CJTF-HOA reported that CJTF-HOA engineers recently conducted inspections on two school buildings in Bondara and Yoboki, Djibouti. At Bondara Primary School, U.S. military engineers completed a quality assurance and pre-final inspection on a newly installed water system and identified cracks in the foundation and leaking water pipes that require additional work. The team then traveled to Yoboki Primary School to complete a preliminary inspection for a humanitarian aid nomination package. Information on the inspections can be viewed here.
On May 29th, AFRICOM provided insights on U.S. Marines’ with SP-MAGTF Crisis Response recent visit to Accra, Ghana, for meetings with members of the Ghanaian Air Force (GAF). The meetings were focused on learning more about each other’s capabilities and promoting cooperation and interoperability between the two military forces. In addition, U.S. Marines demonstrated the capabilities of their MV-22B tiltrotor Ospreys. More information is available here.
On May 29th, AFRICOM revealed that USARAF and Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Africa are supporting the Trans Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCP) with a train and equip mission in Burkina Faso. The partnership includes Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal. The mission is focused on delivering equipment to Burkinabe soldiers that can be used to reinforce existing security networks and to bolster capabilities to locate and interdict terrorists along local borders. Details were provided here.
Department of Commerce
On May 19th, as part of the Energy Business Development Mission to West Africa, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met with Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama to discuss the strategic importance of strong U.S.-Ghanaian economic and commerce relations. Secretary Pritzker also met with Minister of Trade and Industry Haruna Iddrisu to discuss policies that would facilitate U.S. companies’ participation in developing Ghana’s energy sector and helping the country meet its goal of generating 5,000 megawatts (MW) of power by 2016, as well as Minister of Finance Seth Terkper to discuss challenges facing Ghana’s business community. Secretary Pritzker also visited the Meltwater Entrepreneur School of Technology (MEST) to tour its facilities, meet with local startups, and learn more about Ghanaian entrepreneurial culture. More information on Secretary Pritzker’s meetings with Ghanaian officials can be found here.
On May 20th, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker kicked off her second day in Ghana at the Electric Company of Ghana (ECG), where she spoke about the importance of Ghana partnering with private sector business to help the country reach its energy potential. As part of her remarks, Secretary Pritzker highlighted opportunities through President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative, announced last year with the goal of doubling the number of people in sub-Saharan Africa with access to electricity. Secretary Pritzker’s visit to the ECG was summarized here.
On May 21st, President and CEO of HPI and participant in the Commerce Department’s West Africa Energy Business Development Mission Hal Pontez authored a blog post discussing the challenge of providing reliable electricity access in Africa. Pontez also noted HPI’s contributions to addressing this challenge, including the construction of a 132 MW power plant in Takoradi, Ghana. The full blog post can be accessed here.
On May 21st, the Department of Commerce issued a press release announcing that Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Michael Bloomberg of Bloomberg Philanthropies plan to host the first-ever U.S.-Africa Business Forum on August 5th as part of the approaching U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. The Forum will focus on U.S. private sector engagement in Africa in the areas of finance and capital investment, infrastructure, power and energy, agriculture, consumer goods, and information communication technology. President Barack Obama is also expected to participate in the forum, along with more than 45 African heads of State. The U.S.-Africa Business Forum was announced here. Secretary Pritzker’s remarks announcing the Forum while visiting Nigeria are available here.
On May 27th, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker concluded her visit to Africa with a stop in Ethiopia, where she met with President Mulatu Teshome and private sector leaders to discuss ways to increase bilateral trade and investment between the U.S. and Ethiopia. During their discussion, Secretary Pritzker emphasized the U.S. commitment to the reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) as one tool for deepening trade relations. Secretary Pritzker was joined in
Ethiopia by House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Karen Bass (D-CA). Secretary Pritzker’s trip to Africa was summarized here.
U.S. Trade and Development Agency
On May 22nd, U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) Director Leocadia Zak concluded here participation in the Energy Business Development Mission to West Africa with three grant signings for energy projects in Nigeria and by announcing additional USTDA support for activities in Nigeria’s power and health care sectors, as well as the agency’s plans to place a USTDA representative in West Africa. The grants will support feasibility studies for a 275 MW gas-fired power plant in Lago and a proposed gas-fired power generation project at the Sagamu Independent Power Plant, as well as technical assistance for modernization of Benin Electricity Distribution Company’s network. A press release was posted here.
Export-Import Bank of the U.S.
On May 28th, the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank of the U.S. announced that Ex-Im Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg will travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to participation in the U.S.-Africa Energy Ministerial (AEM) June 3rd-4th. The AEM will allow U.S. officials to engage with African energy ministers on best practices and technologies for sustainable energy development on the continent. The U.S. delegation to the AEM will be led by Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz. Additional members of the U.S. delegation will include U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Patricia Haslach, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Special Assistant to the President and National Security Council (NSC) Senior Director Gayle Smith, President Barack Obama’s Coordinator for Power Africa and Trade Africa Andrew Herscowitz, USTDA Director Leocadia Zak, and Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) President Elizabeth Littlefield. A press release was issued here.
Securities and Exchange Commission
On May 23rd, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released its new Unified Agenda, which indicated the agency plans to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) related to the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act rule requiring energy and mining companies to disclose payments made to foreign governments. As the SEC continues to work on the rule, SEC Chair Mary Jo White, Commissioner Kara Stein, and SEC staff continue to meet with stakeholders about the forthcoming rulemaking. More information was provided here.
On May 22nd, Republican and Democratic members of the Select Committee on Benghazi met separately to discuss the Committee’s organization. Later in the day, Committee leaders Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) also held their first official meeting. The Committee’s timeline remains unclear, especially as House leadership must still provide funds for the Committee’s activities and a staff must be assembled. Details can be seen here.
On May 23rd, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) announced that the Committee had accepted the State Department’s offer to have Secretary of State John Kerry testify on the September 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, on June 12th. Congressman Issa had wanted to hold the hearing on May 29th, but the State Department indicated there were conflicts with Secretary Kerry’s diplomatic schedule. More information can be viewed here.
On May 22nd, the Telegraph reported that Mohamed Jar Elnabi, the Sudanese lawyer representing Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag, a pregnant woman sentenced to hang for apostasy, has received threatening phone calls warning him to drop an appeal against the death penalty. Meanwhile, Ishag’s family continues to raise concerns about her ability to survive labor and the delivery of her second child in prison. Developments in the case were detailed here.
On May 24th, one U.N.-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) peacekeeper was killed and three others injured while attempting to mediate a tribal dispute between Fur people and an Arab militia in a village in North
Darfur, Sudan. The incident has been condemned by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNAMID Joint Special Representative Mohamed Ibn Chambas. The injured peacekeepers remain in critical condition at a hospital in North Darfur. The episode was described here.
On May 22nd, Al Shabaab leader Fuad Shongole delivered a speech on public radio warning of plans to carry out attacks in Kenya and Uganda, and later in the U.S. The radio address follows last week’s announcement that the U.S. Embassy in Kenya had increased its security posture after learning of an increased threat of terrorism. More information was reported here.
On May 24th, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda officially introduced the East Africa Tourist Visa, which allows multiple entries between the three countries for a period of 90 days for $100. The visa can be obtained upon arrival in one of the participating countries. The East Africa Tourist Visa is the first of anticipated visa reforms intended to help promote trade and tourism in the region. Details were shared here.
On May 24th-27th, World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region Makhtar Diop was on travel to Seychelles. During his visit, Vice President Diop was scheduled to meet with President of Seychelles James Alix Michel, Vice President Danny Faure, Minister of Finance, Trade, and Investment Pierre Laporte, and members of parliament. In addition, Vice President Diop visited development projects in infrastructure and small business and discussed their results with beneficiaries and the private sector. Vice President Diop’s travel was noted here.
On May 28th, Kenyan customs authorities seized hundreds of tons of illegally logged rosewood from Madagascar at the port of Mombasa. The wood was en route to Hong Kong from Zanzibar. Kenya’s Environmental Investigation Agency said that 24 containers were confiscated, containing 705 tons of rosewood worth approximately $12.8 million. In addition, Kenyan authorities expressed concern that ongoing illegal logging in Madagascar could derail sustainable development and wreak havoc on the country’s biodiversity. The full story is available here.
On May 22nd, the World Bank Board of Directors approved an $8.2 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) for Guinea-Bissau’s Private Sector Rehabilitation and Agribusiness Development Project. The new credit will be used to help Guinea-Bissau create jobs and combat food insecurity and poverty by expanding the county’s cashew agribusiness, increasing the supply of rice production, and supporting entrepreneurship in other sectors of the economy. A press release was posted here.
On May 23rd, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed the sixth review of Benin’s economic performance under a program support by the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement approved in June 2010. The IMF observed that Benin’s economic growth is expected to reach 5.5% for the third consecutive year and that macroeconomic performance remains satisfactory due to progress in achieving structural reforms. The completion of the review allows for the immediate disbursement of $16.4 million. More information can be found here.
On May 26th-May 30th, Senegal will host the Fifth Africa Water Week in Dakar. Convened by the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) and the AU Commission (AUC), Africa Water Week events are expected to bring together more than 1,000 stakeholders to discuss solutions to Africa’s water resources and sanitation challenges. The focus of this year’s events will be on improving cooperation in transboundary waters for increased climate resilient-growth and an energy and food-secure future. Details are available here.
On May 27th, the World Bank Board of Directors approved a $71 million IDA credit for Cameroon’s Multimodal Transport Project to support road and railway improvements along the Douala-N’Djamena corridor. Not only is the project anticipated to increase international and regional trade and create jobs, but it is also expected to increase access to clinics, schools, and markets for the residents of poorer communities in northern Cameroon. Project details can be seen here.
On May 27th, the World Bank approved a $50 million credit to continue to support the Ghana Social Opportunities Project, which was designed to reduce poverty and expand social opportunities through public works employment and grants for poor households. The new credit will be used to expand Ghana’s Labor-Intensive Public Works (LIPW) program from 49 to 60 districts and to scale up grants from 100,000 to 150,000 poor households through the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) program. A press release was shared here.
On May 27th, Rio Tinto, Chinalco, and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) signed a deal to move forward on the Simandou project in Guinea, which would be the largest iron ore and infrastructure project in Africa. The $20 billion investment framework must now be ratified by the Guinean National Assembly. The project has the public support of Guinean President Alpha Conde, especially in light of projections that the project could double Guinea’s gross domestic product (GDP) and create as many as 45,000 jobs. The project was detailed here.
On May 29th, BBC News reported that experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Doctors Without Borders Charity are expanding into eastern Sierra Leone as the deadly Ebola outbreak continues to spread. Nearly 200 people have died of Ebola in West Africa since the outbreak of the virus was first reported in Guinea in March. Developments related to the Ebola outbreak were reported here.
On May 26th, the U.N. Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) issued a statement demanding that the Republic of Congo (ROC) immediately stop expelling citizens from the DRC and calling for an investigation into reports of alleged sexual violence and other human rights violations. MONUSCO reported that more than 130,000 DRC nationals have been expelled from Brazzaville and that mass expulsions are contrary to the principles of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and international law more broadly. MONUSCO’s feedback can be viewed here.
On May 26th, an IMF team concluded a visit to Brazzaville, ROC, to conduct discussions for the Article IV consultations. The mission met with State Minister of Economy, Finance, Planning, Public Portfolio, and Integration Gilbert Ondongo, Minister at the Presidency in Charge of Territory Planning and Large projects Jean-Jacques Bouya, Deputy Minister in Charge of Planning and Integration Raphael Mokoko, Special Advisor to the President Denis Gokana, National Director of the Central Bank Cedric Ebauh Ondaye, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Commission of the National Assembly Maurice Mavoungou, and Chairman of the Economic and Financial Commission of the Senate Fila de Saint-Eudes. The mission also met with representatives of the private sector, civil society, and development partners. IMF officials observed that the ROC’s macroeconomic performance remains broadly satisfactory, with average growth of 3.5% in the last three years. More information on the IMF mission to the ROC can be found here.
On May 26th, recently reelected South African President Jacob Zuma announced a restructuring of his cabinet and the appointment of both new and old cabinet ministers to his administration. Of particular interest, Minister of Finance Gordan Pravin was demoted to the Cooperative Governance Department and succeeded as Finance Minister by his deputy, Nhlanhla Nene. In addition, all but one minister in the old cabinet’s security cluster were removed from national security positions, and President Zuma appointed Lynne Brown, South Africa’s first openly gay cabinet minister, to serve as Minister of Public Enterprises. Additional details on the new cabinet were shared here.
On May 26th, Swaziland’s Central Bank’s Monetary Policy Consultative Committee said the Kingdom only has around $790,000 left in the bank, which will cover just four months of vital imports. Swaziland relies heavily on imports and has been negatively impacted by a slowing South African economy. International assistance to Swaziland may be limited due to the country’s poor track record on human rights. The full story is available here.
On May 29th-30th, the IMF and the Government of Mozambique hosted the high-level conference on “Africa Rising: Building to the Future” in Maputo, Mozambique. The Africa Rising conference brings together more than 300 stakeholders, including policymakers, the private sector, and civil society, to discuss Africa’s past successes and challenges, as well as the overall outlook for the continent as it continues to recover from the 2008 global economic crisis. The conference is expected to address inclusive growth, structural transformation, natural resources management, and how the IMF can
continue to support African countries’ economic growth. An overview of the conference was provided here.
On May 29th, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde delivered the keynote address at the Africa Rising conference held in Maputo, Mozambique. In summary, Director Lagarde highlighted the need to assist Africa in working toward an inclusive, job-rich, and sustainable growth strategy and extending on the gains in many countries by helping to build strong public institutions. Director Lagarde’s remarks were posted here.
On May 29th, World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region Makhtar Diop traveled to Maputo, Mozambique to participate in the Africa Rising conference. Vice President Diop participated in a panel session on opportunities and challenges in sub-Saharan Africa, where he discussed how the continent might tackle the challenges of reducing poverty while boosting job creation and accelerating structural transformation. Vice President Diop also warned of the dangers of climate change. Vice President Diop’s participation was highlighted here.
General Africa News
On May 21st, the National Basketball Association (NBA) selected Nigerian-born, two-time NBA Champion and Basketball Hall-of-Famer Hakeem Olajuwon to serve as NBA Ambassador to Africa. In this role, Olajuwon will work closely with the NBA Africa office in Johannesburg, South Africa, to grow basketball’s presence on the continent, give back to African communities, and bring attention to diplomacy through sport. More information on Olajuwon’s background can be found here.
On May 25th, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered a message to mark Africa Day, which commemorates the founding of the AU. This year’s Africa Day theme was focused on agriculture and food security, with Secretary-General Ban noting the critical need to address Africa’s growing social and economic inequalities. In addition, Secretary-General Ban said that efforts to help unleash Africa’s full potential in the agricultural sector will help develop rural areas, create jobs, and empower people while ensuring food security. Secretary-General Ban’s message can be read here.
On May 28th, following the death of civil rights activist and writer Maya Angelou, Africa is a Country published an article on the time Angelou spent living in Africa. In 1961, Maya Angelou moved to Egypt with her then partner Vusumzi Make, an exiled South African activist, where she worked as a journalist for a radical newspaper. The following year, after ending her relationship with Make, Angelou moved to Ghana, where she joined an expatriate African American community including W.E.B Du Bois, William Gardner Smith, Pauli Murray, Julian Mayfield, and St. Clair Drake. The full article can be accessed here.
On May 28th, Forbes published its annual list of “The World’s Most Powerful Women.” Included on this year’s lists were Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Folorunsho Alakija of Nigeria, the first self-made African billionaire. Full coverage of this year’s list is available here.
On May 29th, Stanford Law School hosted a briefing on “Africa’s Elephants and Rhinos vs. Illegal Traffickers: Who Will Win?” They keynote address was provided by former Deputy Secretary of the Interior and Vice-Chair of the President’s Wildlife Trafficking Advisory Council David Hayes. Event logistics were shared here.
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