China Is Not Trapping Africa In Debt, Says Foreign Minister

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) is received by his Kenyan counterpart, Raychelle Omamo (R) at the Sarova Whitesands Hotel where they met for a bilateral meeting between Kenyan and Chinese officials in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa on January 6, 2022. (Photo by Tony KARUMBA / AFP)

 

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday rejected suggestions that Beijing was luring African countries into debt traps by offering them massive loans, dismissing the idea as a “narrative” pushed by opponents to poverty reduction.

Wang, speaking ahead of touring Beijing-funded infrastructure projects in Kenya, said China’s considerable lending to Africa was “mutually benefiting” and not a strategy to extract diplomatic and commercial concessions.

“That is simply not a fact. It is speculation being played out by some with ulterior motives,” he told reporters in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa.

“This is a narrative that has been created by those who do not want to see development in Africa. If there is any trap, it is about poverty and underdevelopment,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.

Wang’s three-nation tour of Eritrea, Kenya and the Comoros follows a trip to Africa by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in November that in part aimed at countering China’s growing influence on the continent.

China is Africa’s largest trading partner, with direct trade worth over $200 billion (177 billion euros) in 2019, according to official Chinese figures.

China is Kenya’s second-largest lender after the World Bank and has funded a number of costly infrastructure projects that have raised concerns about Nairobi taking on more debt than it can afford.

In Mombasa, Wang held a closed-door meeting with a team of government ministers and signed agreements on trade and investment, health, security, climate change and green technology transfer.

He later met President Uhuru Kenyatta and visited the Port of Mombasa, where China is constructing a new $353 million terminal to allow larger oil tankers to berth.

“The visit is a testament to the deepening of relations between the two countries,” said Kenya’s foreign minister, Raychelle Omamo.

– Debt fears –

Beijing funded Kenya’s most expensive infrastructure project since independence, loaning $5 billion for the construction of a railway line from Mombasa opened in 2017.

During a visit to Mombasa in January 2020, Wang described the railway as a “benchmark” of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a trillion-dollar push to improve trade links across the globe by building landmark infrastructure.

But observers have raised red flags over Kenya’s reliance on Chinese funding, warning that debt was soaring to unmanageable levels.

Aly-Khan Satchu, a Kenyan geopolitical and economic analyst, said the East African nation was at a disadvantage negotiating deals and often stuck with high-interest repayments.

“These investments are not going to make a return on investments for the foreseeable future,” he told AFP.

“You have taken out these loans and they are making losses every month. You are essentially increasing the problems.”

Beijing’s lending spree has slowed in recent years as borrowers have pushed back on terms and the coronavirus pandemic has inflicted economic pain.

Satchu said China was shifting focus from infrastructure to greater trade, and saw promise in deepening ties with Indian Ocean economies. “The Chinese are trying to recalibrate their relationship with Africa, with a lot of emphasis on agriculture and lending to the private sector,” he said.

Wang has already visited Eritrea and after Kenya, heads to the Indian Ocean island nation of the Comoros.

Erdogan Pledges 15 Million Covid Vaccine Doses For Africa

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) poses for a family photo with African leaders prior to the official opening session as part of the 3rd Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit in Istanbul. AFP

 

Turkey will send 15 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to Africa, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday at a major summit of the continent’s leaders, adding that the low vaccination rates there was a blot on humanity.

Ankara has invested heavily in developing trade and diplomatic ties with the world’s poorest continent during Erdogan’s rule as prime minister and then president since 2003.

Speaking to dozens of attending leaders and ministers, Erdogan said Turkey would ship 15 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to Africa, where cases are rapidly rising and vaccination rates are low.

“We are aware of the global injustice in accessing the Covid-19 vaccine and Africa’s unjust treatment,” Erdogan said.

“It is disgraceful for humanity that only six percent of Africa’s population has been vaccinated.”

Turkey is developing its own vaccine, known as Turkovac, which is in the process of receiving emergency use approval.

Following any authorisation, it will be shared with Africa, Erdogan said.

It was not immediately clear from his remarks whether Turkey would first send some doses of the internationally approved vaccines it was currently using, including those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech.

“In order to contribute to the resolution of this issue, within our means, we plan to share 15 million vaccine doses in the period ahead,” he said.

Soaring infection rates

The number of new infections in Africa has shot up by 57 percent in the past week, according to AFP calculations based on official figures.

South Africa is the hardest-hit country, becoming one of the first in the world affected by the new Omicron variant, which is believed to be even more contagious than past coronavirus strains.

Erdogan said Turkey wanted to strengthen relations with Africa in a wide range of areas including health, defence, energy, agriculture and technology.

“The real potential between us goes far beyond the targets we have,” he said.

In a final declaration, Turkey and African countries agreed to strengthen cooperation in several fields, including health “through further health sector investments”.

“With the declaration, we have accepted at this summit and the joint action plan, we agreed on a road map to deepen our relations,” Erdogan told a closing media event.

 Focus on trade

Trade between Turkey and Africa has grown in the past 20 years from $5.4 billion to $25.3 billion (4.8 billion euros to 22.5 billion euros) last year.

And in the first 11 months of 2021, it had reached $30 billion, Erdogan said.

Turkey has set an even higher target of trade volume for the future: $75 billion.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the third Turkish-African summit — by far the largest to date — was being attended by 16 African heads of state and 102 ministers, including 26 top diplomats.

Erdogan also held one-on-one meetings with African heads of state, including Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who have both expressed an interest in Turkey’s defence industry.

The next Turkey-Africa summit will be held in 2026 in an unspecified African country.

AFP

Armed With Drones, Turkey Explores African Arms Sales

This file photo taken in Ankara on March 5, 2021, shows an Anka Drone, unmanned aerial military vehicle developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries in Ankara. PHOTO: Adem ALTAN / AFP

 

Armed with battle-tested drones, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been deepening defence ties with African countries ahead of a major gathering of the continent’s leaders in Istanbul.

The two-day Turkey-Africa partnership summit starting Friday comes fast on the heels of a top-level business forum in October that focused on investment and trade.

The next phase of this fast-blossoming relationship is security, experts say, with a host of African leaders looking to buy up military hardware at cheaper prices and with fewer strings attached.

Leaders and top ministers from 39 countries — including 13 presidents — have confirmed attendance, with Erdogan set to make a speech on Saturday.

READ ALSO: At Least 62 Killed In Haiti Gas Truck Explosion

Ankara already has a military base in Somalia, and Morocco and Tunisia reportedly took their first delivery of Turkish combat drones in September.

Angola became the latest to express an interest in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) during Erdogan’s first visit to the southern African country in October.

Turkey in August also signed a military cooperation pledge with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has been embroiled in a war with Tigrayan rebels for the past year.

“The most important sector is the defence sector because this is a new asset. Turkey has pushed this sector a lot, especially drones,” Federico Donelli, an international relations researcher at the University of Genoa, told AFP.

 

– ‘Everyone asks about UAVs’ –

Russia has been the dominant player on the African arms market, accounting for 49 percent of the continent’s imports between 2015 and 2019, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

But interest in Turkish weaponry is peaking.

This file photo taken in Ankara on March 5, 2021 shows an Anka Drone, an unmanned aerial military vehicle developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries in Ankara. PHOTO: Adem ALTAN / AFP

 

The TB2 Bayraktar model is in high demand after it was credited with swinging the fate of conflicts in Libya and Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the past few years.

The drones are made by the private Baykar company, run by one of Erdogan’s sons-in-law.

“Everywhere I go in Africa, everyone asks about UAVs,” Erdogan boasted after a visit to Angola, Nigeria and Togo in October.

Some of the closest scrutiny has focused on Turkey’s ties with Ethiopia, where a brutal conflict has killed thousands, displaced more than two million and driven hundreds of thousands into famine-like conditions, according to UN estimates.

A Western source said Turkey sent an undisclosed number of combat drones in support of Abiy’s campaign earlier this year, but that Ankara has since responded to international pressure and halted the sales.

“Ethiopia can buy these drones from whoever they want,” Turkey’s foreign ministry spokesman said in October, neither confirming or denying the sales.

 

– Soaring sales –

Official Turkish data does not break down the details of military sales to individual countries, only giving the total sales amount for each month.

These have soared spectacularly in the past year.

Turkish defence and aviation exports to Ethiopia rose to $94.6 million between January and November from around $235,000 in the same period last year, according to figures published by the Turkish Exporters Assembly.

Sales to Angola, Chad and Morocco experienced similar jumps.

Turkey’s drones first made international headlines after Ankara signed two deals with the UN-recognised Libyan government covering maritime and security in 2019.

It then swarmed the conflict zone with drones, stalling an advance by rebel eastern forces backed by Turkey’s regional rivals and paving the way for a truce.

Turkey cemented its drones’ reputation last year by helping Azerbaijan recapture most of the land it lost to separatist ethnic Armenian forces in disputed Nagorno-Karabakh nearly three decades ago.

“Now Turkey with drones has more cards to play when they have to bargain with other countries,” researcher Donelli said.

“This is a very good bargaining chip for Turkey.”

 

 

– Growing network –

The head of Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board — the NGO that hosted the October forum in Istanbul — insisted the growing relationship was not just about weapons.

“We care about the defence sector and our relations with Africa,” the board’s head Nail Olpak told AFP.

“But I would like to emphasise that if we see the defence sector only as weapons, rockets, guns, tanks and rifles, it would be wrong.”

He highlighted Turkish mine-clearing vehicles in Togo, which qualify as defence industry sales.

Donelli agreed, referring to Togo’s plans to improve its army with the support of Turkey through training and armoured vehicles, weapons and other kinds of equipment.

Turkey has reportedly set up a web of 37 military offices across Africa in all, in line with Erdogan’s affirmed goal of tripling the annual trade volume with the continent to $75 billion in the coming years.

AFP

France To Lift Ban On Southern Africa Flights Saturday

French President Emmanuel Macron

 

France said Wednesday it would allow in flights from ten southern African countries from Saturday, but with “drastic” restrictions permitting only French and EU residents to disembark, along with diplomats and flight crews.

These travellers must have a Covid test upon arrival, with a negative result still requiring a seven-day quarantine, while a positive test will prompt a 10-day quarantine, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said after a cabinet meeting.

France is one of several countries worldwide that halted flights from southern Africa in recent days after the more contagious Omicron strain of coronavirus was reported by South Africa.

But the World Health Organization warned Tuesday that “blanket” travel bans risked doing more harm than good, by potentially dissuading countries from sharing data about the evolving virus.

Attal said French authorities had discovered 13 suspected Omicron cases so far that were under analysis for confirmation.

“Let’s not be fooled or naive, there will very probably be cases on our territory in the coming hours or days,” he said.

Attal also announced that all travellers arriving from outside the European Union would have to present a negative Covid test less than 48 hours old, in a bid to halt the spread of the more contagious Omicron variant.

In addition, non-vaccinated travellers from within the EU will have to show a negative test less than 24 hours old.

AFP

Nigeria, South Africa Will Partner To Promote Africa’s Development Interest – Onyeama

Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and his South African counterpart, Naledi Pandor during the Ministerial Meeting of the 10th Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National Commission in Abuja on Monday, November 29.

 

The Nigerian government has reassured the Republic of South Africa that it will continue to strengthen bilateral ties and work together to promote Africa’s development.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said this on Monday at the closing of the Ministerial Meeting of the 10th Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National Commission in Abuja.

Onyeama said both countries have common interests which must be used to move Africa forward.

“Nigeria’s and South Africa’s bilateral interests must go beyond trade level to that of influencing Africa’s position at the multinational level, where both countries seek the progress of the African continent.

“Given by our common history and culture, the people of Southern Africa and West Africa, we are indeed brothers although separated by distance, we have the same outlook and aspiration. Therefore, we can bond, live, and share together.

“I am confident that the conclusion and the implementation of these agreements would cause a significant improvement in relations between the peoples of our two great countries,” Onyeama said.

READ ALSO: An Efficient Civil Service Crucial For National Development, Governance – Osinbajo

According to him, the bi-national commission provides the needed platform to strengthen corporation between the two countries, to promote Africa’s interests at other international levels.

“We have no doubt that if Nigeria and South Africa come together, work together, it would be for the benefit of the whole of Africa. We will be the motor, the engine for Africa’s economic, technological, cultural, social development,” he added.

The South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor in her address said South Africa is committed to strengthening relations with Nigeria to address common challenges for mutual benefits.

“Our visit is intended to affirm South Africa’s commitment to strengthening and fostering greater collaboration and cooperation in bilateral and multilateral relations to address our common challenges for mutual benefit. It is our belief that Nigerian and South Africa are critical to Africa’s developmental progress,” she said.

The Agreements to be ratified by both countries include Early Warning Mechanism, Agreement on Arts and Culture, Agreement on Youth Development, Agreement on Immigration, among others.

COVID-19: China Leader Promises Africa One Billion Vaccine Doses

(FILES) This file photo taken on March 3, 2014 shows Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli (top) walking past China’s President Xi Jinping as they arrive for the opening session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (Photo by AFP)

 

China’s President Xi Jinping on Monday pledged to offer one billion Covid vaccine doses to Africa, in a speech made via videolink to a China-Africa summit near Senegal’s capital Dakar.

The Chinese leader said that his country would donate 600 million doses directly. A further 400 million doses would come from other sources, such as investments in production sites.

READ ALSOFG ‘Monitoring’ New COVID-19 Variant Omicron, Advises Nigerians To Get Vaccinated

Xi’s promise comes as part of a forum between China and African states with an emphasis on trade and security, held in the city of Diamniadio near Senegal’s seaside capital.

China invests heavily in Africa, and is the continent’s largest trading partner with direct trade worth over $200 billion in 2019, according to the Chinese embassy in Dakar.

Vaccination rates in Africa are low compared to the rest of the world, with many states at the mercy of foreign donations due to the lack of local production facilities and prohibitive costs of mass purchases.

“We must continue to fight together against Covid,” Xi told the summit. “We must prioritise the protection of our people and close the vaccination gap”.

AFP

Keep Borders Open As We Tackle New COVID-19 Variant, Says WHO

File photo of WHO

 

The head of the World Health Organisation in Africa on Sunday urged countries to follow the science rather than imposing flight bans in a bid to contain the new Omicron coronavirus variant.

“With the Omicron variant now detected in several regions of the world, putting in place travel bans that target Africa attacks global solidarity,” said WHO regional director general Matshidiso Moeti.

“Travel restrictions may play a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID-19 but place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods,” the WHO said in a statement.

“If restrictions are implemented, they should not be unnecessarily invasive or intrusive, and should be scientifically based,” the UN body said.

READ ALSO: UK To Enforce New COVID-19 Rules From Tuesday

The Omicron strain has cast doubt on global efforts to battle the coronavirus pandemic because of fears that it is highly infectious, forcing countries to reimpose measures many had hoped were a thing of the past.

As scientists race to determine the level of threat posed by the new strain — particularly whether it can evade existing vaccines — a South African doctor said dozens of her patients suspected of Omicron infection had shown only mild symptoms such as fatigue.

READ ALSO: Israel Closes Borders To All Foreigners Over Omicron

A long list of countries have already imposed travel restrictions on southern Africa, including key travel hub Qatar, the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Netherlands.

It Is Time To Start Treating Africa As Major Geopolitical Player – U.S.

 

The United States government believes now is the time for major geopolitical players across the world to start treating Africa as one of them.

U.S. Secretary of State, Mr Antony Blinken, stated this on Friday while addressing members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja.

“United States firmly believes that it is time to start treating Africa as a subject in geopolitics, and structure it as a major geopolitical player it has become – the facts speak for themselves,” he said.

READ ALSO: Even In Death, Itunnu Babalola Must Get Justice, Says Dabiri-Erewa

Speaking specifically about Nigeria, the U.S. official highlighted some of the reasons it would not be out of place to call the nation the giant of Africa.

Among several other qualities, he noted Nigeria’s cultural influence, saying people across the world listen to the Afrobeat music genre and watch Nollywood movies. He, however, believes there are areas that require improvements.

”Your strengths are undeniable – a dynamic democracy, a robust economy, and a very powerful civil society. Challenges you face here are undeniable as well, including the disruption and insecurity caused by terrorism,” said Blinken.

“What happens here in Nigeria is felt around the world, and that, in a nutshell, is why I came to Abuja. United States knows that in most of the challenges and opportunities we face, Africa will make a difference.

“We can’t achieve our goals around the world – whether ending the COVID-19 pandemic, building a strong and inclusive global economy, combating the climate crisis… without the leadership of the African governments, institutions, and citizens.

“Countries like Nigeria, not just global leaders, they are increasingly prominent around the world beyond this region, and they are deserving a permanent seat wherever the most consequential issues are discussed.”

Mr Antony Blinken is asking African leaders to show leadership and stop democratic backsliding in their countries.

 

Democratic Backsliding

The U.S. Secretary of State stressed the need to foster democracy across the African continent and appealed to its leaders to stop interfering with democratic processes.

Alluding to the threats to democracy also in the U.S., he stated that it was important for countries in every part of the world to share best practices.

Blinken also asked them to make public pledges to hold each other accountable, as well as show how democracy can deliver what citizens want quickly and effectively.

He explained that boosting democracy was one of the major reasons why U.S. President Joe Biden would host a democratic summit in December.

“The recession of democracy in many places in Africa cannot be denied, and it is not the will of the people,” the U.S. official decried. “Survey after survey in countries across the continent show that the people of Africa – either Ghanaian, or Zambian, or Ugandan, or Tanzanian – support democracy when given the choice between multi-party elections or strong man rule, one-party state or military control; they choose multi-party elections.

“That makes it more important that leaders show leadership and stop democratic backsliding that is wiping away their citizens’ aspirations. I want to emphasise that democratic backsliding is not just an African problem, it is a global problem.

“My own country is struggling with threats to democracy and the solutions to those threats will come as much from Africa as from anywhere.”

Buhari Receives US Secretary Of State Blinken

President Buhari welcomes US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken during the latter’s three-nation African tour. Photo: State House.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has received the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken at the State House in Abuja. 

Blinken arrived at the presidential complex in a motorcade on Thursday and is expected to have a meeting with Buhari in his office.

The Nigerian leader and US top diplomat are also expected to discuss security issues facing Nigeria especially terrorism in the northern region.

READ ALSO: President Buhari Signs Climate Change, AMCON (Amendment) Bills Into Law

Blinken is on a three-nation African tour. Photo: State House

 

Blinken will, after the meeting, head to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s office to sign some agreements between the US and Nigeria and also hold a joint press conference with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, before leaving the State House.

The US diplomat is on a three-nation tour of Africa and had first visited Kenya where he called for African-driven solutions to the continent’s crises including the spiralling war in Ethiopia — where Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo has been leading mediation.

With 20 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s population and its largest economy, Nigeria is critical for any continent-wide strategy and successive US administrations have courted Nigerian leaders since the restoration of civilian rule in 1999.

buhari blinken
President Buhari receives in audience, the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. Photo: State House

 

But US views of Nigeria, already marred by years of violence and rampant corruption, hardened last year after security forces unleashed deadly violence during massive protests against police brutality.

Biden, in an unusually forceful statement as a candidate, voiced solidarity with the protesters and urged President Muhammadu Buhari — whom Blinken will meet Thursday — to rein in security forces.

Senator Bob Menendez, a member of Biden’s Democratic Party who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at a hearing with Blinken called for a “fundamental rethink of the framework of our overall engagement” with Nigeria.

Congressional objections have held up the sale of 12 US Cobra attack helicopters to Nigeria amid calls to probe whether the military is doing enough to prevent civilian deaths as it battles the two-decade Boko Haram jihadist insurgency.

But Nigeria recently started receiving a separate shipment of Super Tucano warplanes after former president Donald Trump gave the green light to the sale that had been held up by the previous administration of Barack Obama following Nigeria’s accidental strike on a refugee camp that killed more than 100 people.

Removal from blacklist

The US diplomat’s visit comes on the heels of Nigeria’s removal from a US blacklist of nations that violate religious freedom. Photo: State House.

 

On the eve of his visit, Blinken undid one Trump action by removing Nigeria from a US blacklist of nations that violate religious freedom.

Blinken’s predecessor Mike Pompeo, who did not visit Nigeria, made the decision late in his term at the urging of evangelical Christians who say that attacks on the community in the religiously diverse nation are systematic.

Blinken, in Nairobi, also nudged close ally Kenya on ensuring free and safe elections next year — and acknowledged that the United States was “hardly immune” to such concerns, a veiled allusion to the January 6 mob violence by Trump supporters who sought to overturn Biden’s victory.

Oge Onubogu, West Africa director of the US Institute of Peace, said the Biden administration should see parallels between Nigeria and Ethiopia, where lingering ethnic conflict in a major nation has mushroomed into a devastating war that risks regional chaos.

Blinken, she said, can reinforce the message that “what happens in Nigeria doesn’t only affect Nigeria, but it affects West Africa and the rest of the continent as well”.

Onubogu said there should be no more “business as usual” and that the United States needed to deal more directly with the Nigerian people, not just the government.

Buhari and Blinken pose for a photo during the latter’s visit to Nigeria. Photo: State House.

 

State Department officials said Blinken would raise human rights in Nigeria and meet civil society groups throughout the trip, which will also take him to Senegal.

“That’s what folks will be looking at. They will be saying, ok, the tone is changing, but they will want more assurances that things are actually changing in the right direction,” Onubogu said.

Climate Change Threatens More Than 100 Million People In Africa, Says UN

In this file photo taken on September 23, 2019, the United Nations flag is seen during the Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly Hall. Ludovic MARIN / AFP

 

More than 100 million extremely poor people in Africa are threatened by accelerating climate change that could also melt away the continent’s few glaciers within two decades, a UN report warned on Tuesday.

In a report ahead of the COP 26 climate summit in Glasgow, the UN highlighted Africa’s “disproportionate vulnerability” last year from food insecurity, poverty, and population displacement.

“By 2030, it is estimated that up to 118 million extremely poor people will be exposed to drought, floods, and extreme heat in Africa if adequate response measures are not put in place,” said Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, Commissioner for rural economy and agriculture at the African Union Commission.

The extremely poor are those who live on less than $1.90 per day, according to the report coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

“In sub-Saharan Africa, climate change could further lower gross domestic product by up to 3% by 2050,” Sacko said.

“Not only are physical conditions getting worse, but also the number of people being affected is increasing,” she said in the foreword.

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said that last year Africa saw temperatures continue to increase, “accelerating sea-level rise” as well as extreme weather events like floods, landslides, and droughts, all indicators of climate change.

 

Disappearing Glaciers

“The rapid shrinking of the last remaining glaciers in eastern Africa, which are expected to melt entirely in the near future, signals the threat of imminent and irreversible change to the Earth system,” Taalas said.

Last year Africa’s landmass and waters warmed more rapidly than the world average, the report said.

The 30-year warming trend from 1991-2020 was above that of the 1961-1990 period in all of Africa’s regions.

The rate of sea-level rise along the tropical coasts and the South Atlantic, as well as along the Indian Ocean was higher than the world average.

Though too small to serve as significant water reserves, Africa’s glaciers have high tourism and scientific value and yet are retreating at a rate higher than the global average.

“If this continues, it will lead to total deglaciation by the 2040s,” the report said.

“Mount Kenya is expected to be deglaciated a decade sooner, which will make it one of the first entire mountain ranges to lose glaciers due to human-induced climate change.”

The other glaciers in Africa are on the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

To avoid even higher costs of disaster relief, the WMO urged African countries to invest in “hydrometeorological infrastructure and early warning systems to prepare for escalating high-impact hazardous events.”

It backed broadening access to early warning systems and to information on food prices and weather, including with simple text or voice messages informing farmers when to plant, irrigate or fertilize.

“Rapid implementation of African adaptation strategies will spur economic development and generate more jobs in support of economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report said.

The report involved the WMO, the African Union Commission, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) through the Africa Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), international and regional scientific organisations, and United Nations agencies.

Google To Invest $1bn To Improve Internet Access In Africa

This file photo taken on February 14, 2020 shows the Google logo in Brussels. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
This file photo taken on February 14, 2020 shows the Google logo in Brussels. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

 

Google on Wednesday said it will invest $1 billion over the next five years to allow for faster and more affordable internet access and support entrepreneurship in Africa.

Internet reliability is a problem in Africa where less than a third of the continent’s 1.3 billion people are connected to broadband, according to the World Bank.

But the continent, where nearly half the population is under 18, is a promising market.

According to Google and Alphabet boss, Sundar Pichai “huge strides” have been made in recent years, but more work is needed to make “internet accessible, affordable and useful for every African”.

The investment will support digital transformation by ensuring improved connectivity and access, he said in a statement.

The funds will, among other things, go towards infrastructure development including the Equiano subsea cable that will connect South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria and St Helena with Europe.

The deal expands Google’s pledge announced four years ago to train around 10 million young Africans and small-scale businesses in digital skills.

“I am of the firm belief that no one is better placed to solve Africa’s biggest problems than Africa’s young developers and startup founders,” said Google’s Africa managing director Nitin Gajria.

Internet access is also hampered by the affordability of smartphones.

Google said it will partner with Kenya’s telecoms giant Safaricom to launch affordable Android smartphones for first time users.

The project will later be rolled out across the continent with other carriers such Airtel, MTN, Orange and Vodacom.

Macron To Host Africa ‘Summit’ Without Leaders

French President Emmanuel Macron attends the One Planet Summit videoconference meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris on October 4, 2021.  (Photo by Michel Euler / POOL / AFP)

 

President Emmanuel Macron will host a conference on Africa on Friday billed as a summit but with no other leaders attending, as he aims to readjust France’s relationship with the continent.

Instead of other heads of state and premiers, Macron is inviting hundreds of young businesspeople, artists, and sporting figures to the southern city of Montpellier.

The aim is “to listen to the words of African youth” and “to leave behind obsolete formulas and frameworks”, said a French presidential official who asked not to be named.

The meeting comes at a delicate moment between France and many of its former colonies in French-speaking Africa, as a row rumbles on over a decision to cut visas to citizens of Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia.

Algeria recalled its ambassador after Macron reportedly said the country was ruled by a “political-military system”, while tensions have erupted between France and Mali over plans to deploy Russian mercenaries as part of an anti-jihadist fight.

The new format hints at the frustration felt by France, which has held summits with African leaders since 1973, with the political leadership of some countries.

Roughly 3,000 participants including more than 1,000 young people are expected in Montpellier for discussions on economic, cultural, and political issues.

Macron is set to debate with a panel of young people chosen after months of dialogue led by the Cameroon intellectual Achille Mbembe, who is in charge of preparing the meeting.

“Subjects that cause anger will be on the table,” the French presidential official said, adding that “the current political context makes the discussion particularly sensitive”.

French officials are promising concrete proposals from a report that Mbembe is to submit to Macron on Tuesday.

 

‘Symbolic Gestures’

Macron vowed in a November 2017 speech in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou to take a new approach to Africa, where France would no longer tell Africans what to do.

He has also made a point of reaching out to English-speaking Africa to build sway beyond France’s former colonial possessions.

On Thursday, Macron will meet in Paris with former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, still a hugely influential figure on the continent.

Since the 2017 speech, cultural artefacts pillaged from Benin have been returned and the abolition of the CFA franc, a currency once used in several countries but guaranteed by France, has been abolished.

Meanwhile, a report commissioned by Macron acknowledged France’s “overwhelming responsibilities” over the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, an issue that has poisoned relations between Paris and Kigali.

“Since the speech in Ouagadougou, the lines have moved symbolically, there have been important gestures,” said Amadou Sadjo Barry, a Canadian philosopher of Guinean origin.

“But in terms of foreign policy, we cannot speak of major changes,” he told AFP.

France remains more than ready to tolerate autocratic regimes, quickly accepting the handover of power from Chad’s president Idriss Deby Itno to his son in April.

While the Montpellier format may help bring some new life into France-Africa relations, Barry described the meeting as “a symbolic defeat for Africa”.

“Why is it still that the human, political and economic future of the African continent is being discussed in France? Why don’t African governments themselves listen to the concerns of their populations,” he asked.

AFP