Africa This Week 121122: Ivory Coast-France Trade Partnership, Kenya’s Drought, Ghana-IMF Agreement, and Others
On Friday, France’s foreign minister, Catherine Colonna, paid a visit to the government of Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara. Speaking in Abidjan, the minister said France will remain by the side of its former French colony in all ramifications. She said France as a country believes in the potentialities of the Ivory Coast and is ready and willing to sacrifice for its progress. Colonna also met with her Ivorian counterpart, Kandia Camara, who told her she was concerned about what she called “terrorists” crossing over from neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso. She also hinted that one of Ivory Coast’s challenges is to prevent young people from falling into the hands of jihadists by promoting growth. Canada said around 900 French soldiers are now stationed in Ivory Coast, owing to the fact that Ivory Coast has always benefited from the support of France as far as solving the insecurity issue is concerned.
On Friday, Somalia held a remembrance of a bloody conflict that happened 30 years ago during a humanitarian operation. According to reports, the operation then led by the U.S., “Operation Restore Hope,” was organised to relieve hunger in Somalia but later turned into a bloody conflict. Reports revealed that the aim of the “Restore Hope” operation was to create the conditions for the delivery of humanitarian aid. The significance and memory of the event are still fresh in the minds of many Somalis. But still, the retreat did not bring peace to a country that continued to be ravaged by internal conflict.
On Friday, United States authorities announced the imposition of sanctions against Guinea’s former leader, Alpha Condé. Thus, it comes after the leader was accused of instigating violence against opponents before being ousted in a coup in 2021. The US government said it will freeze the assets of the former Guinean leader, and all transactions involving Alpha Condé will also be criminalized. In 2010, Condé became the first democratically elected president, but after two terms, he was accused of ruling with authoritarianism, which resulted in a bloody crackdown against protestors in 2020.
Reports have indicated that about tens of thousands of Somalis are now crossing over into Kenya in search of water and food for their families as drought grips the Horn of Africa and the country’s northern region for the first time in 40 years. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) stated that over 80,000 Somalis arrived in Kenya in the past two years, fleeing a complex mix of conflict and drought. Furthermore, many people who have already been forced to flee violence have not yet been displaced by the drought, which has been caused by four failed rainy seasons, with a fifth predicted. Globally, these kinds of extreme weather events are intensifying and becoming more frequent due to the climate crisis.
By Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Ghana are expected to reach a staff-level agreement on a loan deal. According to a spokesperson for Ghana’s finance ministry, the IMF programme is expected to be an extended credit facility that provides financial assistance to countries with drawn-out balance of payments issues. The source also indicated that major hurdles in the negotiations were overcome this week, which sped up the process. In July, Ghana turned to the IMF for help due to its ongoing economic crisis, and an IMF team is currently already in the country. The country’s finance minister, Kenneth Ofori-Atta, has said he is hoping for a relief package of up to $3 billion, possibly over a three-year period, as the West African country faces its worst economic crisis in a generation.
A week before elections, hundreds of Tunisians have protested against President Kais Saied’s constitutional changes to create a new parliament. They were accusing him of an undemocratic coup. But Saied said he will never be a dictator, claiming his actions were legal and necessary in order to save Tunisia from years of crisis. Saied shut down the previous parliament last year and ruled by decree before rewriting the constitution this year to give the presidency more powers, moves rejected by most political parties. Tunisians had grown increasingly angry in recent times over the country’s economic stagnation and political paralysis, with a divided parliament and an unstable government. Elections for a new, less powerful parliament created by Saied’s constitution, which was passed in a referendum in July with a low turnout, are scheduled for December 17.
France President Emmanuel Macron has accused Russia of influencing anti-French propaganda in troubled African nations, where France has been challenged with military setbacks and a wider loss of influence over recent years. Speaking in Tunisia on the sidelines of a summit of French-speaking nations, Macron was challenged to respond to critics who claimed that France exploits historic economic and political ties in its former colonies to serve its own interests. But Macron replied that some powers, who want to spread their influence in Africa, are doing this to hurt France and pursue their own interests. France, a former colonial power in most of western and central Africa, has longtime military ties across Francophone countries.
Following the acquittal of two young women of charges relating to lesbianism in court because there was no clear legislation criminalising same-sex relationships, some Niger lawmakers have supported a motion seeking to criminalise same-sex relationships in the country, saying the kind of relationships are against the religious and cultural beliefs of the people. Niger’s major population is made up of Muslims, but the country currently has no specific law prohibiting same-sex relationships. The proposal was presented by Nana Djibou Harouna, a lawmaker from the southern region of Maradi, to the Speaker of Parliament. According to her, they had carried out wide consultations, and the proposal had received the support of Nigerien citizens as well as nearly all MPs. It’s not clear yet what constitutes the content of the law and when the matter will be formally debated in parliament.
Following President Joe Biden’s plan to meet with African leaders next week, the US government has indicated its readiness to back the idea that the African Union becomes a permanent member of the G20 group of leading economies, saying that it’s time Africa too had permanent seats at the table in international organisations and initiatives. Currently, South Africa is the only African G20 member, but both the presidents of South Africa and Senegal have pushed Mr. Biden to support increased representation for Africa. Biden will receive African leaders in Washington for a three-day meeting starting on Tuesday. This will be the second US-Africa leaders’ summit after President Barack Obama hosted one in 2014.