Uganda’s response to the World Bank; New mining code in Mali to increase revenues; Former SA leader granted a presidential remission; Saipem won a $1 billion contract in Libya to develop a gas project; Palestinian President Abbas to visit Cairo; Tunisia and Libya to establish a trade corridor to sub-Saharan Africa, and others

In response to the controversial anti-LGBTQ law in Uganda, the World Bank has halted new lending to the country. The Washington-based lender said Tuesday it would pause financing pending a review of measures to protect sexual minorities from discrimination in its projects. The World Bank said the law “fundamentally contradicts” its values of inclusion and non-discrimination. It will increase monitoring to enable corrective action if needed. In May, the World Bank said the law was inconsistent with its principles and “highly concerning” about its passage. In June, the US restricted travel for Ugandan officials in response. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has rejected criticism, defending the law as necessary to stop LGBTQ people from “recruiting.” The World Bank reaffirmed its commitment to assisting Uganda despite the financing pause.

To increase the state’s share of mining revenues, Mali has adopted a new mining code to increase the state’s share of mining revenues. In January, the government announced a code review, saying Mali was not receiving a fair share of profits from its major gold mining industry. The new code allows the state to take a 10% stake in new mining projects, with the option to buy an additional 20% within two years of commercial production. Locals can also receive a 5% stake, taking total Malian interests to 35%, up from 20%. International mining companies operating in Mali said they were in talks over the proposed changes in July. The government says the new code will generate an extra $803 million annually and boost mining’s contribution to GDP to 20% from 9%.

Japan signed an agreement with Namibia to explore rare earth minerals as part of its plan to develop supply chains for materials used in electric vehicle batteries. The state-owned Japan Organisation for Metals and Energy Security (JOGMEC) will collaborate with Namibia’s state mining firm, Epangelo. Details of the agreement were not immediately available. Japan already partners with Namibia Critical Metals on the Lofdal rare earth deposit, Namibia’s most advanced project. Lofdal is rich in yttrium, dysprosium, and terbium, critical materials for electric vehicle batteries and wind turbines. In 2022, Namibia signed a deal to supply rare earths to the European Union. Securing alternative sources of battery minerals is crucial for Japan and other countries seeking to reduce dependence on China, which dominates global supply.

After a three-month pause, the World Food Programme has resumed distributing food aid in parts of Ethiopia’s Tigray region. The WFP halted aid to Tigray in May following reports of widespread theft of donations. It then suspended all aid to Ethiopia in June, as did the United States. The aid halt was criticised by Ethiopia’s government, which investigated the theft claims. WFP and USAID said they were ensuring proper delivery before resuming assistance. WFP will continue testing measures before wider aid distributions, including in other affected regions. The restart comes amid fresh violence in Amhara, Ethiopia’s most serious security crisis since Tigray’s war ended.

Italian energy company Saipem has won a $1 billion contract in Libya to develop the Bouri Gas Utilisation Project. The deal was awarded by Mellitah Oil & Gas, a joint venture of Libya’s National Oil Corporation and Eni North Africa. Eni owns stakes in both Saipem and Mellitah. Saipem said the contract is a “related party transaction, and the terms are market-standard. Saipem will revamp platforms and facilities at the Bouri offshore gas field for the project. It will engineer, construct, install, and commission a 5,000-tonne gas recovery module. Saipem will also lay 28 kilometres of pipeline connecting platforms. The contract underscores Saipem’s ongoing role in Libya’s strategically important oil and gas sector.

In response to the junta’s seizure of power in Niger, the West African bloc ECOWAS ordered activating a standby force this week that could be used against the junta that seized power in Niger last month. ECOWAS said after a summit on Thursday that it wants a peaceful restoration of democracy in Niger but that all options, including military force, remain on the table. The West African bloc, however, pledged to enforce sanctions against the junta and said no option was ruled out, including force as a last resort. But ECOWAS also expressed hope that collective diplomatic efforts could resolve the crisis. An official statement asked defence chiefs to immediately activate the standby force, while another spoke of deploying it to restore order through “peaceful means.”

Former South African president Jacob Zuma has been granted a presidential remission, avoiding a decision on whether he should return to jail. Zuma was imprisoned in 2021 for contempt of court but was controversially released on medical parole after two months. A court ruling found the parole unlawful, and Zuma faced possible re-incarceration this week. His initial jailing triggered deadly protests, raising fears of more unrest if he returned to prison. On Friday, Zuma briefly appeared at the prison where he was previously held before a remission by President Cyril Ramaphosa took effect. The decision spared officials from sending Zuma back to jail, which could have ignited volatile reactions from his loyal supporters. Zuma denied corruption allegations and portrayed himself as the victim of a political witch-hunt. He still faces a separate criminal trial over an arms deal. The recent remission avoids inflaming tensions over Zuma’s controversial early release while he continues fighting legal battles.

Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta held talks with Jordanian officials during a two-day visit to Amman this week. Biruta announced Rwanda would open a diplomatic mission in the Jordanian capital to boost cooperation. Following a visa waiver agreement signed in February, the two countries have now decided to exempt citizens from visa requirements when entering each other’s nations. Biruta said this would enhance tourism, trade, and investment. The officials also discussed boosting collaboration in the fertiliser, pharmaceutical, trade, and defence sectors. Biruta said they share the goal of playing a constructive role in promoting peace and stability in their regions. Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi said new deals were signed in urban development, visa waivers, and diplomatic training. Biruta also met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II during the visit.

President Felix Tshisekedi seeks to rebalance the deal signed during a Beijing visit in May. A massive $3 billion “resources for infrastructure” deal between China and the Democratic Republic of Congo recently faced criticism in Kinshasa for being heavily tilted in China’s favour. China secured access to $93 billion worth of Congolese cobalt and copper deposits in exchange for investing $3 billion in roads, hospitals, and other infrastructure in 2008. However, a recent Congolese government audit found China has invested only $822 million. Congo wants to boost its stake from 32% to 70% while reducing China’s from 68% to 30%. Congo also seeks compensation, saying the deal resulted in $7 billion in lost revenues for Gécamines, Congo’s mining firm. But China rejects claims it gained excessive benefits in a “win-win” partnership.

Tunisia and Libya have agreed to establish a trade corridor connecting the two countries to sub-Saharan Africa. The decision was approved Thursday during a meeting between Tunisian and Libyan ministers in Tunis. The countries signed memoranda of understanding on organising fairs, markets, and freer trade. Both emphasised rehabilitating the key Ras Ejdir border crossing to international standards. The goal is to transform the area into an African commercial portal, promoting integration with sub-Saharan nations. The corridor aims to boost Tunisia-Libya trade and economic links with the wider continent. Improving the border crossing will facilitate the exchange of goods and people.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Cairo on Sunday for a tripartite summit hosted by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. Abbas will join Al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II in the coastal city of Alamein. Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt Diab Al-Louh said the leaders would discuss issues at the Arab, regional, and international levels, unifying their visions. They will review efforts to end Palestinian suffering and achieve their rights to an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. The upcoming summit reflects close coordination between Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians on advancing the Palestinian cause as political prospects remain dim.

Writer and researcher at Alafarika for Studies and Consultancy.

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