Leading the News
On April 6th, United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Kigali, Rwanda, to participate in the official commemoration ceremony of the 1994 genocide that killed 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus. Prior to the ceremony, Secretary-General Ban met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, where the leaders discussed international efforts to prevent future genocides and other mass atrocities. Secretary-General Ban’s travel to Rwanda was noted here.
On April 6th, President Barack Obama issued a press statement on the 20th commemoration of the genocide in Rwanda. President Obama mourned the loss of more than 800,000 people to genocide and commended Rwandans for their efforts to heal the wounds of the genocide, spur economic growth, and eradicate poverty. President Obama also bemoaned the world’s failure to respond to the genocide in Rwanda and called on the international community to never again be so indifferent to intolerance and suffering. The full statement was posted here.
On April 6th-10th, House Foreign Affairs Africa Subcommittee Ranking Member Karen Bass (D-CA) traveled to Kigali, Rwanda, as part of the Presidential Delegation to attend the 20th Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide. While in Rwanda, Representative Bass and other members of the U.S. delegation met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and also visited the Nyamata Memorial Site in the Bugasera region. Information on Representative Bass’s visit to Rwanda can be found here.
On April 7th, following a wreath laying ceremony at Rwanda’s national genocide memorial, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lit a torch at Amahoro Stadium in Kigali, officially beginning a week of mourning in Rwanda to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1994 genocide. The torch will burn for 100 days, consistent with the length of the genocide. Events to commemorate the genocide in Rwanda were detailed here.
On April 7th, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a press statement recognizing the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda. Secretary Kerry said the genocide resulted in the senseless and savage murder of more than 800,000 people. In addition, Secretary Kerry reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to helping to ensure that other countries do not face the pain and suffering that Rwanda endured two decades ago. Secretary Kerry’s remarks were transcribed here.
On April 8th, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Africa Subcommittee Chairman Chris Coons (D-DE), and Africa Subcommittee Ranking Member Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced a resolution recognizing the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda. The resolution honors the memory of those lost, expresses support for the people of Rwanda, and condemns the ongoing atrocities against civilians in the Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan, and Sudan. A press release was issued here.
On April 9th, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) President and Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Littlefield authored a post for The OPIC Blog to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. President Littlefield discussed her development work in the country in the early 1990s as well as OPIC projects in Rwanda that support forestry and agricultural programs, as well as the local coffee and tea industries. The full blog post can be read here.
On April 3rd, the State Department issued a readout of the recently concluded U.S.-Tunisia Strategic Dialogue. Delegations led by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and Tunisian Foreign Minister Monji Hamdi met to discuss economic investments, security, and potential partnerships. The U.S. delegation also reaffirmed support for fostering a safe and secure environment in Tunisia to help solidify Tunisia’s foundations of democracy. The outcomes of the U.S.-Tunisia Strategic Dialogue were summarized here.
On April 3rd, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a report detailing security and political developments in Tunisia. The report highlights passage of Tunisia’s new constitution and details security threats in the region, primarily emanating from Libya. The full report can be downloaded here.
On April 4th, in conjunction with Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa’s visit to Washington, the White House issued a fact sheet on President Barack Obama’s framework for investing in Tunisia. Since January 2011, the U.S. has committed more than $400 million to support Tunisia’s transition, including technical assistance to Tunisia’s economy and private sector, support for security along Tunisia’s borders, and support for civil society and democracy programs. The fact sheet can be accessed here.
On April 4th, President Barack Obama met with Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa at the White House. The meeting was intended to reaffirm the strategic partnership between the U.S. and Tunisia. The leaders discussed the efforts of Tunisian political and civil society leaders to advance democracy in the country and to support stability in the Maghreb, Africa more broadly, and the Middle East. A joint statement issued by President Obama and Prime Minister Jomaa after their meeting, which addresses economic cooperation and development, educational and cultural cooperation, and the U.S.-Tunisian security and counterterrorism partnership, can be read here.
On April 8th, following a meeting with Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa at World Bank headquarters, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim announced a $1.2 billion 2014 financial package for Tunisia. The World Bank financing plan includes funding for economic reforms, local government capacity building, support that will allow banks to create access to credit, export promotion activities, and a water pumping station. The World Bank financing package was announced here.
Central African Republic
On April 4th, the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released the findings of a preliminary investigation into the deadly fighting between Muslim ex-Seleka members and Christian anti-Balaka militias that took place on Mary 29th in Bangui. U.N. officials found that Chadian army troops, separate from those participating in the African-led International Support Mission in the CAR (MISCA), killed 30 civilians and wounded at least 300 others in an indiscriminate attack on a crowded market. The investigation was detailed here.
On April 5th, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid a surprise visit to the CAR to observe conditions associated with the escalating crisis. While in the CAR, Secretary-General Ban addressed the National Transition Council, met with President Catherine Samba-Panza, and visited with displaced families in Bangui. In these meetings, Secretary-General Ban called for the deployment of additional international troops and police forces to the country, as well as the development of a U.N. peacekeeping mission. Secretary-General Ban’s visit to the CAR was described here.
On April 8th, U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Rashad Hussain traveled to the CAR with an interreligious delegation of leaders from the U.S. representing several faiths to demonstrate solidarity between religious communities in the U.S. and the CAR. The delegation met with CAR religious leaders Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga, Imam Omar Kobine Laymaya, and Reverend Nicolas Guerekoyame Gbangou, as well as transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza to discuss tactics for promoting peace and reconciliation in the country. The trip was announced here.
On April 9th, at least 30 people were killed and another 10 injured in clashes between sectarian militias in the town of Dekoa in the CAR. According to local police officials, the violence was instigated by the Christian anti-Balaka militia, which launched an offensive against positions held by Muslim ex-Seleka rebels. Reporting on the incident can be found here.
On April 10th, the U.S. Department of State issued a press statement commending the U.N. Security Council for passing a resolution establishing a U.N. peacekeeping mission that will deploy to the CAR in September 2014. The U.N. integrated mission in the CAR (MINUSCA) will have the responsibility not only to protect civilians and to establish a safe environment for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, but also to help support the reestablishment of governance, assist in election preparations, facilitate the disarmament and demobilization of combatants, assist in reconciliation, promote and protect human rights, and support the formation of accountability mechanisms for those responsible for human rights abuses. The full statement can be read here.
On April 3rd, head of the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Hilde Johnson announced new plans to establish additional protected sites for displaced civilians. There are currently about 70,000 people sheltering at U.N. sites in South Sudan. According to UNMISS, the sites currently providing refugee to displaced civilians are vulnerable to flooding during the upcoming rainy season. Additional information was provided here.
On April 3rd, U.S. President Barack Obama reported to Congress on his Executive Order declaring a national emergency with respect to the threat to the national security and foreign policy of the U.S. due to developments in South Sudan. The Executive Order authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to block the property and interests of individuals contributing to the violence in South Sudan and undermining the stability of the country. President Obama’s message to Congress was posted here.
On April 3rd, the Office of the White House Press Secretary issued a statement on South Sudan. The press statement details the Executive Order signed by President Barack Obama allowing for sanctions on individuals who threaten the stability of South Sudan, obstruct the peace process, target U.N. peacekeepers, or are responsible for other human rights abuses. In addition, the White House called on the South Sudanese Government and rebels loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar to engage in an inclusive peace process and to resolve the conflict. The full statement can be seen here.
On April 9th, UNMISS provided on update on civilians in South Sudan seeking refuge at U.N. bases. UNMISS estimated that approximately 67,000 internally displaced persons are living at eight protection sites, primarily in Juba and Malakal. UNMISS expressed concern that the bases are now becoming overcrowded and announced efforts to improve the water and sanitation situation in an attempt to mitigate the public health risks due to overcrowding. Details can be viewed here.
On April 9th, the U.S. Department of State announced the designation of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis was created in 2011, following uprisings in Egypt, and has since then been found responsible for attacks on Israel and security services and tourists in Egypt. In addition to the well-known July 2012 attack against a Sinai pipeline exporting gas to Israel, the terrorist group has also claimed responsibility for assassination attempts against Egyptian officials. More information on the terrorist designation was shared here.
On April 9th, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) issued a press release welcoming the State Department’s decision to officially designate Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis as a terrorist organization. Representative Royce labeled the group as an enemy of the Egyptian people, U.S. allies in the region, and global peace. The full statement was issued here.
United States – Africa Relations
On April 3rd, President Barack Obama nominated Tom Kelly to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti. Most recently, Kelly has served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political- Military Affairs. Kelly’s nomination was announced here.
On April 7th, President Barack Obama notified Congress of his decision to extend the national emergency with respect to Somalia. While acknowledging that the U.S. only began to recognize the Government of Somalia for the first time in 22 years in January 2013, President Obama said that U.S. sanctions against persons trying to undermine the stability of Somalia are still needed to address threats to U.S. interests. President Obama’s message to Congress can be read here. The Federal Register notice on the extension of the state of emergency was posted here.
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
On April 11th, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Michael Froman met with a delegation of African Finance Ministers who were visiting Washington, DC. The meeting was included on USTR’s weekly schedule, which can be found here.
On March 30th-April 4th, State Department Counselor Tom Shannon was on overseas travel to Cairo, Egypt. Counselor Shannon was accompanied by Senior Advisor to Secretary of State John Kerry Ambassador David Thorne, as well as other officials from the Treasury Department and the National Security Council (NSC). While in Egypt, the U.S. delegation met with senior Egyptian officials and business leaders to discuss ways to support Egypt, to encourage a sustainable and nonviolent transition to democracy, and to explore ways to strengthen the Egyptian economy. Counselor Shannon’s travel was noticed here.
On April 2nd, while on foreign travel to Rabat, Morocco, with Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Ambassador-At-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism Tina Kaidanow delivered remarks at the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s (GCTF) Fifth Coordinating Committee Meeting at the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In her speech, Ambassador Kaidanow addressed terrorist threats in Africa, including those posted by Al Qaeda affiliated groups in North Africa and Al Shabaab in Somalia. Her full remarks were transcribed here.
On April 3rd, the State Department issued a statement welcoming Ghana’s participation in the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Initiative, a multinational organization that brings together governments, companies, and NGOs to collaborate on minimizing the risk of human rights abuses near extractive sites. Ghana is the first African nation to join the initiative. More information can be found here.
On April 3rd-4th, following her visit to Ndjamena, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne Richard traveled to Sarh and Maro, Chad, to visit returnee centers and refugee camps housing refugees from the CAR. Assistant Secretary Richard’s travel was detailed here.
On April 4th, Secretary of State John Kerry was on foreign travel to Rabat and Casablanca, Morocco, for a series of events. Secretary Kerry met with King Mohammed VI and Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezour, co-hosted the U.S.-Morocco Strategic Dialogue, and participated in a Peace Corps Volunteers Swearing-In Ceremony. Accompanying Secretary Kerry were Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security Sarah Sewall, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan, Ambassador-At-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism Tina Kaidanow, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki, NSC Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa Prem
Kumar, and Vice Admiral Kurt Tidd of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). Secretary Kerry’s remarks from the opening plenary of the U.S.-Morocco Strategic Dialogue were transcribed here. A joint statement on the U.S.-Morocco Strategic Dialogue was issued here. A transcript of Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Mezouar’s joint press availability was posted here.
On April 4th-7th, following her travel to Chad to meet with refugees from the CAR, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne Richard traveled to Bangui, CAR, for meetings with government officials, representatives from the U.N. and other humanitarian organizations, and internally displaced persons. At the conclusion of her trip, Assistant Secretary Richard expressed concern for the dire humanitarian crisis, noting that 625,000 Central Africans have been displaced by violence and more than 320,000 people have become refugees. Assistant Secretary Richard’s observations were summarized here.
On April 4th-9th, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan traveled to Cairo, Egypt, for meetings with alumni of State Department exchange programs to discuss issues such as women and entrepreneurship, human rights, and civic engagement. Assistant Secretary Ryan was also scheduled to meet with Egyptian government officials to discuss cultural heritage protection. Assistant Secretary Ryan’s travel was announced here.
On April 4th, the State Department expressed concern following reports that Ugandan authorities had ordered a raid on a U.S.-funded health clinic and medical research facility, the Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP). One of the facility’s employees was allegedly arrested on charges of conducting unethical research and recruiting homosexuals. The incident led U.S. officials to express heightened concern for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) individuals living under Uganda’s recently enacted anti-homosexuality law. Feedback from the State Department is available here.
On April 6th-10th, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power traveled to Rwanda, Burundi, and the CAR. In Rwanda, Ambassador Power led the Presidential Delegation attending the 20th Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide. In Burundi, Ambassador Power met with President Pierre Nkurunziza, as well as other government officials and civil society leaders to discuss emerging issues of ethnic exclusion and oppression. In the CAR, Ambassador Power met with transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza, as well as the leadership of the African-led International Support Mission to the CAR (MISCA). Ambassador Power was accompanied by Assistant Secretary of State for African
Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador-At-Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen Rapp, and House Foreign Affairs Africa Subcommittee Ranking Member Karen Bass (D-CA). Ambassador Power’s travel was outlined here.
On April 7th, the State Department issues a press statement condemning the killing of two employees of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Puntland, Somalia. The State Department called on Somali officials to investigate the crime and bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice, while expressing its ongoing support for the people and the Government of Somalia in their efforts to strengthen peace, security, and rule of law. The full statement can be seen here.
On April 8th, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Doug Frantz departed on foreign travel, including a stop in South Africa. In South Africa, Assistant Secretary Frantz was scheduled to visit the Public Affairs Africa Regional Media Hub in Johannesburg, and to meet with journalism students to discuss the intersection of foreign policy and the media. Assistant Secretary Frantz was also scheduled to travel to Cape Town to participate in a panel discussion at the International Press Institute World Congress. Assistant Secretary Frantz’s travel was announced here.
On April 8th, State Department Counselor Tom Shannon met with members of a visiting delegation of Nigerian politicians from both the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives’ Congress (APC). The meeting, which was held at the Department of State, was listed here.
On April 9th, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Chief Justices from Nigeria and Liberia, as well as Supreme Court officials from Nigeria, Liberia, and Botswana. The meeting, which was held at the Department of State, was noticed here.
On April 9th, the State Department issued a press statement on the upcoming elections in Guinea- Bissau. As the people of Guinea-Bissau plan to go to the polls on April 13th, the State Department encouraged authorities to create an environment that allows its citizens to express their will in peaceful, credible elections and encouraged voters to participate in the democratic process. The full statement can be viewed here.
Department of Defense
On April 3rd, Air Force officials announced that a loss of power was responsible for the crash of a remotely piloted MQ-1B Predator into the Mediterranean Sea in September 2013. The remotely piloted aircraft was returning from a 20-hour intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance mission for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). The accident report was detailed here.
On April 4th, U.S. Army Africa and the Ghana Armed Forces completed a Medical Readiness Training Exercise in Accra. The goal of the exercise was to improve standards of practice. As part of the exercise, U.S. and Ghanaian medical military personnel provided care together in the emergency room, operating room, and intensive care unit, and provided Ghanaian health care providers with information on casualty triage, disaster care, and the proper application of a tourniquet. More information can be found here.
On April 4th, AFRICOM joined the observance of International Mine Awareness Day through its support of demining efforts across Africa. More specifically, AFRICOM manages a program to provide training to African partner nations by explosive ordnance experts who teach others how to locate and disable landmines. Information on AFRICOM’s demining programs was posted here.
On April 7th, AFRICOM joined in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) celebration of World Health Day. This year’s World Health Day campaign is focused on small organisms, including insects, that transmit diseases. To support the initiative, AFRICOM will continue medical missions with African partner nations to mitigate the impact of mosquito borne diseases, such as malaria. Details were shared here.
On April 8th, AFRICOM Commander General David Rodriguez and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Amanda Dory hosted a press briefing on the U.S. military presence in Africa. Commander Rodriguez presented generally on the challenges and opportunities on the continent, while Assistant Secretary Dory urged that partnerships with African forces are key to fostering African stability and prosperity. Highlights from the press conference were noted here.
On April 8th, Marine Forces Europe and Africa provided insights on a recently completed five-day exercise on non-lethal weapons training provided for approximately 20 Nigerian solders in Abuja. The training session focused primarily on basic riot-control formations, how to use shields and shin guards, and how to properly use collapsible batons. The exercise was summarized here.
On April 9th, Chief of Defense for the Ghana Armed Forces Vice Admiral Mathew Quashie traveled from Accra, Ghana, to Stuttgart, Germany, to visit AFRICOM headquarters. Vice Admiral Quashie was accompanied by officials form the North Dakota National Guard. In their meetings, AFRICOM leaders and Vice Admiral Quashie discussed maritime security, medical training events, disaster response planning and training, and military-to-military engagements to strengthen bonds between U.S. and Ghanaian forces. Vice Admiral Quashie’s visit was detailed here.
An April 9th, Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SP-MAGTF) Africa noted that U.S. Marines and Coastguardsmen recently traveled to Lome, Togo, to demonstrate small boat engine mechanics to a group of sailors and Gendarmerie from the Togo Navy. U.S. service members also taught classes on engine electricity, lubrication, fuel and cooling systems, and four-stroke theory, as well as troubleshooting for small boat engines. An article on the training can be read here.
On April 9th, the North Dakota National Guard participated in a ceremony in Lome, Togo, that included a signing ceremony officially designating the North Dakota National Guard and the Togolese Republic as affiliates under the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program. This marks the third partnership under the program, as the North Dakota National Guard has previously finalized partnerships with Ghana and Benin. More information was posted here.
On April 10th, Marine Forces Europe and Africa reported on a recent training mission conduced by the U.S. Marines SP-MAGTF in Tifnit, Morocco. As part of exercise African Lion 14,150 soldiers of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces and 350 U.S. service members participated in the exercise that was designed to improve rapid response capabilities at Department of State identified high-risk facilities. The exercise was detailed here.
Department of Commerce
On April 11th, Candace Shriver, a Special Advisor at the Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) delivered remarks at the Africa Business Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio. Special Advisor Shriver addressed the state of minority business and the Obama Administration’s Doing Business in Africa Initiative. More information is available here.
U.S. Trade and Development Agency
On April 8th, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) awarded a grant to NextGen Solawazi Limited to support the implementation of a 5-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic power plant in Kigoma, Tanzania, as part of President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative. The USTDA grant will fund the services provided by the project’s engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor. When completed, the plant is expected to power 50,000 households. A USTDA press release was issued here.
Department of Energy
On May 2nd-3rd, Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz will travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with U.N. Sustainable Energy for All (UNSE4ALL) Chief Executive Kandeh Yumkella to promote President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative. Secretary Moniz will return to Addis Ababa in June to host the Africa Energy Ministerial (AEM). More information can be seen here.
On April 3rd, during a House Armed Services Committee Hearing on the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Force Development Christine Wormuth testified that the Department of Defense (DOD) is taking aggressive actions to quickly place more U.S. special operations forces in North Africa, where the threats posed by Al Qaeda and their affiliates are now the strongest. Highlights from Deputy Under Secretary Wormuth’s testimony were noted here.
On April 8th, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on national security and foreign policy priorities in the FY15 State Department budget. Secretary of State John Kerry testified before the Committee. A recording of the hearing can be accessed here.
On April 8th, the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee held a closed hearing on AFRICOM. Testimony was provided by AFRICOM Commander General David Rodriguez. The hearing was noticed here.
On April 8th, the House Appropriations State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee held a hearing on the FY15 budget request for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In his testimony, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah highlighted the agency’s participation in President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative and its strategic engagement with North Africa. A webcast of the hearing can be viewed here.
On April 9th, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa held a hearing on “U.S. Policy Towards Morocco.” Witnesses included Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Egypt and Maghreb Affairs William Roebuck and USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Middle East Alina Romanowski. A webcast of the hearing can be watched here.
On April 9th, Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) held a press conference to announce that Senate Republicans will continue to press the Obama Administration for additional information on the September 2012 terrorist attack against Americans in Benghazi, Libya. Excerpts from the press briefing were posted here.
On April 9th, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) held media availability to discuss Republicans’ efforts to turn the September 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya into a scandal. The press conference was announced here.
On April 10th, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on international development priorities in the FY15 budget request. In his testimony, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah discuss global food security programs in Africa, President Obama’s Power Africa initiative, and U.S. efforts to strengthen security in the region. Hearing details were posted here.
On April 3rd, the U.N. Security Council endorsed new strategic priorities for the African Union (AU) –
U.N. Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). The new vision for UNAMID includes mediation between the Sudanese Government and armed movements, the facilitation of humanitarian assistance, and measures to address the root causes of community conflicts. Details on the revised UNAMID mission can be seen here.
On April 9th, the Italian Navy estimated it has saved 15,000 migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea during the crossing from North Africa to the Italian island of Lampedusa since the start of the year. U.N. officials have reported a 300% increase in the number of migrants attempting to leave Africa for Italy, most often in overcrowded boats. The trend was detailed here.
On April 4th, OHCHR called on Somali authorities to impose a moratorium on the death penalty. The plea from OHCHR comes after judicial officials in Kismayo executed a man just nine days after he allegedly murdered a village elder. Since the start of the year, 34 people have been executed. More information can be found here.
On April 5th, the British city of Sheffield voted to officially recognize Somaliland as independent from Somalia. While the vote was purely symbolic and carries no legal weight, Somaliland leaders celebrated the outcome nevertheless, especially as thousands of people of Somaliland origin are currently living in the northern British city. Information on the vote can be viewed here.
On Aril 7th, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov and U.N. Special Representative to Somalia Nicholas Kay condemned the killing of two U.N. consultants by unknown gunmen in Somalia’s Puntland region. Both U.N. officials called on Somali authorities to quickly identify the attackers and bring them to justice. Details were reported here.
On April 9th, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta marked the one-year anniversary of his inauguration. Experts suggest that President Kenyatta’s first year has been challenging, especially in light of the September attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi. Furthermore, analysts pointed out that President Kenyatta has yet to deliver on his campaign promises to deliver economic progress, national unity, affordable health care, and food security. Commentary on President Kenyatta’s first year in office was provided here.
On April 9th, the Financial Times reported that Kenya is on track to reach middle-income status next month after a government review that will likely increase the economy’s size by one fifth to $50 billion. Achieving middle-income status will allow Kenya to engage in greater borrowing from international financial institutions. Middle-income status is also likely to influence greater investment in Kenya’s economy in key industries, including telecommunications and banking. More information can be viewed here.
On April 4th, the U.N. Security Council issued a press statement calling on all stakeholders in Guinea- Bissau to help ensure that upcoming elections will be peaceful and credible. The elections, which are scheduled for April 13th, have been delayed several times following an April 2012 coup. According to U.N. officials, the voter registration process in Guinea-Bissau has successfully concluded and additional elections preparations are well on track. The U.N. Security Council’s guidance to Guinea-Bissau was issued here.
On April 4th, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission completed visit to Banjul, The Gambia, to assess authorities’ progress in implementing policies to bring their economic reform program back on track. IMF staff met with Gambian Vice President Isatou Njie Saidy, Secretary General Momodou Sabally, Finance Minister Kebba Touray, and Central Bank Governor Amadou Colley. The IMF team observed that corrective measures to boost revenue and contain expenditures are showing economic improvements and restoring confidence. Additional analysis was shared here.
On April 5th, Liberian businessman and potential presidential candidate Benoni Urey publically accused President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of abandoning Liberia during the worsening Ebola epidemic in West Africa by traveling to Brussels, Belgium, for the 4th annual Euro-Africa Summit in Brussels, and to Rome, Italy, to meet with Pope Francis. More than 150 cases of Ebola have been reported and nearly
100 deaths have resulted in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Despite President Sirleaf’s office’s
attempts to downplay the criticism, Urey continued to demand that President Sirleaf cut her trip short. The full story is available here.
On April 6th, Massmart Holdings, which owns Shoprite and Wal-Mart, announced plans to open stores in Kano, Nigeria. Kano is considered the northern commercial hub in the country. In addition to opening a supermarket, Massmart is also planning to anchor an $85 million shopping mall development in the city. The opening of new stores in Nigeria was announced here.
On April 7th, the Wall Street Journal reported that Nigeria has passed South Africa as Africa’s largest economy. According to Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s 2013 gross domestic product (GDP) was $510 billion. The figure is 89% higher than economic projections and outpaces South Africa’s 2013 GDP growth by $190 billion. The full Wall Street Journal article can be read here.
On April 7th, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) hosted a briefing on “Political Parties and Nigeria’s Electoral Process.” Speakers included All Progressives Congress (APC) Senator for Ekiti State Babafemi Ojudu, APC National Publicity Secretary Lai Mohammed, Nigerian Government Senior Special Assistant for Public Affairs Doyin Okupe, Senior Special Assistant to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan Sanya Awosan, and Political Advisor to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan Fred Majernite. Recordings from the event were posted here.
On April 8th, World Health Organization (WHO) Assistant Director-General Keiji Fukuda said the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa is one of the most challenging outbreaks of the virus the WHO has ever faced. Assistant Director-General Fukuda speculated it could take as long as four months to contain the outbreak, which is now prevalent not only in Guinea, but also in Liberia and Sierra Leone. An update from the WHO was provided here.
On April 9th, the Ghana Statistical Service issued new statistics on Ghana’s economic growth. Revised GDP estimates for 2013 found that the national economy grew at a rate of approximately 7.1% last year. While the economic growth rate has increased from previous projections, it remains under Ghana’s desired economic growth rate of 8%. Further economic analysis is available here.
On April 9th, Ventures reported that Dangote Cement, Nigeria’s largest cement manufacturer, will double its production capacity to 40 million metric tons by the end of this year. While nine million additional tons of cement will be produced in Nigeria, an additional 11 million tons of cement will be produced at Dangote facilities commissioned across the continent, including in Cameroon, Senegal, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, and South Africa, over the course of 2014. The growth trajectory for the company was detailed here.
On April 3rd-4th, the Steering Committee of the IMF’s Regional Technical Assistance Center for Southern Africa (AFRITAC South) met in Seychelles to discuss progress in the most recent fiscal year. AFRITAC South is on track to increase development activities by 40%. The regional technical assistance center also provides capacity building services to member countries on public financial management, revenue administration, financial sector supervision, monetary policy framework operations, and real sector statistics. More information can be viewed here.
On April 6th, an IMF team concluded a visit to Rwanda to conduct the first review under the Policy Support Instrument (PSI). The mission met with Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Claver Gatete, Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda John Rwangombwa, and other government officials and development partners. The IMF team observed that performance under the IMF-supported program remains satisfactory. While economic growth slowed to 4.6% in 2013, the IMF projects a growth rate of 6% for 2014. More information can be seen here.
On April 6th, The Guardian reported that Lesotho’s flagship medical facility, the Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital, located in Maseru, currently costs the country 51% of its entire annual health care budget, or roughly $67 million per year. The funding primarily supports South Africa-based Netcare, the biggest private health care provider in the United Kingdom (U.K.), who built and now runs the facility. Economists suggest that spending on the hospital is not consistent with improvements in patient care. The full story can be read here.
On April 8th, Bloomberg reported on South Africa-based money manager, The Public Investment Corp.’s plans to invest in energy projects across Africa, including shale gas projects in South Africa and the construction of a new power generation complex in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Public Investment Corp. noted that its investments will be targeted to assist large economies, such as Nigeria and South Africa, where energy shortages are constraining further economic growth. Details were shared here.
On April 9th, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navy Pilllay, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous, and Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura hosted a press conference to unveil a new U.N. report on sexual violence in the DRC. The report finds that 3,600 victims have registered between January 2010 and December 2013 and suggests that a number of attacks occurred when women were working in fields, going to the market, or fetching water. The report’s findings were highlighted here.
On April 9th, the World Bank launched a development dialogue series on sustainable management of natural resources in Maputo, Mozambique. Recent studies indicate that the development of gas and coal has put Mozambique on a path to accelerate development and improve the well being of its population. The launch was reported here.
On April 9th, South African Deputy Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said that great progress has been made towards developing a BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) development bank. He noted that strides have been made on interbank cooperation and currency arrangements. Deputy Minister Nene indicated that BRICS representatives will continue to discuss the bank leading up to the next BRICS summit, which will be held in Brazil this July. Comments from Deputy Minister Nene can be seen here.
On April 9th, Reuters reported that South African retailer Woolworths Holdings Ltd will purchase David Jones, Australia’s second largest department store, for $2 billion. The transaction represents Woolworth’s largest acquisition to date. The company has been doing significantly well, with profit growth of 20% annually over the past five years. The deal was announced here.
On April 9th, Yahoo! News reported that Mozambique is considering a new anti-poaching law. The legislation would impose a prison sentence of up to 12 years and impose a $90,000 fine for poaching endangered species, including rhinos and elephants. The bill, which was introduced in Parliament this week, would legally criminalize poaching for the first time in the country. The bill was outlined here.
On April 9th, the Italian Government approved Pierguido Sarti, a researcher at Italy’s National Institute for Astrophysics, to serve as Italy’s first-ever scientific attaché to sub-Saharan Africa. The post was created in an attempt to boost research and technology cooperation between Italy and the growing sub- Saharan economy. Sarti is expected to deploy to the region in September, where he will spend time at the Italian embassies in Pretoria and Cape Town, South Africa. More information was shared here.
On April 10th, after testifying in his own defense in the trial on the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius was cross examined by the prosecution, who called into question his account of Steenkamp’s death. Pistorius continues to attest that he shot Steenkamp because he thought she was an intruder. The latest developments in the trial were shared here.
On April 10th, South Africa’s second largest pizza delivery chain, Taste Holdings, announced it had finalized a 30-year master franchise agreement with Dominos Pizza International. Under the agreement, Dominos restaurants will be opened in South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, and Mozambique. Details can be found here.
General Africa News
On April 9th, the New York Times published on op-ed by Pulitzer Prize winning author Tina Rosenberg on why it is time for a green revolution in Africa. Rosenberg suggests that a green revolution in Africa will help to increase the continent’s agricultural yields and produce other environmental benefits. The full opinion piece can be read here.