This week we start in Addis Ababa for an international conference on development finance. And then to Côte d'Ivoire where the government is insisting the army mutiny is over. In South Africa, the African National Congress is divided over the reappointment of Brian Molefe, a presidential ally, to run the national power company. There are signs of scepticism about Western policy on Somalia as well as doubts about the ability of the new government there to deliver. Finally, Nigerian officials are to resume negotiations this week with representatives of Boko Haram to free more of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls.
AFRICA/UNITED NATIONS: UN's new Africa economy chief
to open international financial parley
Vera Songwe, the highly-regarded new
executive secretary of the UN's Economic Commission for Africa, will
preside over the continent's biggest financing conference, the Africa
Regional Forum, in Addis Ababa, which starts tomorrow (17
May). Its aim is to finalise the continent's strategy and list of
priorities ahead of the UN's High-Level Political Forum on sustainable
development in September, which is to be attended by over 180
governments and funding agencies.
The starting point for the discussions in Addis Ababa will be
growing inequality across Africa and the failure of its economies to
generate more jobs after a decade of economic growth averaging 5%.
Songwe has said one of her main concerns will be policies and projects
that work for the more than 70% of Africans currently dependent on
seasonal, rain-fed agriculture.
After the forum ends, many of the delegates will travel to
Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India where the African
Development Bank is holding its annual meeting this year on 22-25 May.
SOUTH AFRICA: Molefe returns to Eskom as Zuma tries to
keep Russian nuclear deal on track
African National Congress dissidents and anti-corruption
activists are railing against Public Enterprises Minister Lynne
Brown's reappointment of Brian Molefe as chief executive
officer of Eskom. A group of senior figures in the party have called on
Brown to reverse the decision immediately.
Molefe resigned as head of Eskom last November after a report
by the office of the Public Protector, an official anti-corruption
body, found mismanagement and fraud at the highest level in the
company. It also pointed to the heavy influence of the Gupta family, business associates of President Jacob Zuma,
on Molefe. In particular, it found that Molefe didn't follow company's
rules when awarding a lucrative coal supply contract to the Guptas.
Last month, the High Court in the Western Cape ordered Eskom
to abandon a planned US$70 billion deal with Russia to build nuclear power stations because parliament had not been
consulted. The government said it won't appeal against the ruling but
it will reopen negotiations with Russian nuclear power companies.
Overseeing those talks would be one of Molefe's first tasks if he stays
in the job.
COTE D'IVOIRE: Mutineers deny minister's claim of a
deal on pay arrears
There are doubts about government claims of a deal over
soldiers' pay after mutineers insisted early today (16 May) that they
would continue with the protests which have shut down the commercial
capital Abidjan and the northern town of Bouaké in the north since the
end of last week.
The rebel soldiers, who fought for President Alassane
Ouattara during his confrontation with ex-President Laurent
Gbagbo, had been offered bonuses of CFA12 million (US$20,000)
after protests in January. But most of them have received just CFA5 mn.
because the state treasury has been hit by the precipitate fall in
revenues from cocoa exports.
AFRICA/UNITED STATES: Washington's new Africa policy
chief to face critics over Somalia policy shift
One of the first tasks facing Peter Pham,
who we understand has been appointed Assistant Secretary of State for
African Affairs, will be to explain President Donald Trump's
more militarised policy, which has removed some safeguards designed to
keep civilian casualties to a minimum.
Critics say the new rules enable US officers to kill Somalis
'perceived' as terrorists but without clear information that they
specifically threaten Americans and this targeting would permit the
killing of civilian bystanders if deemed 'necessary and proportionate'.
Coming alongside the Trump administration's plans to cut
budgets in the US Agency for International Development, which has been
financing urgent drought and famine relief, there are concerns the new
policy will exacerbate Somalia's crisis. Critics add that the
combination of higher risks to civilians from military attacks and
worsening social conditions is likely to strengthen Al Shabaab's
SOMALIA/BRITAIN: Grave doubts despite promises over
money and military at London conference
One of British Prime Minister Theresa May's few foreign
policy outings was her opening of the latest London conference on
Somalia on 11 May but despite the upbeat talk, the plans to defeat the
insurgency in two years and deal with the effects of drought lacked
Critical shortages of food and water amid attacks by the Al
Shabaab militia have driven over one million Somalis from their
homes and another 600,000 into neighbouring countries. Somalia's new
President Mohamed Abdullah Mohamed 'Farmajo' set
out his goverment's National Security Plan which is to boost the
strength of the national army to 18,000 and guarantee regular pay. Al
Shabaab would be defeated within two years, insisted Farmajo, and
the government would restart national reconciliation efforts.
Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson promised a boost in support for Farmajo's government but not the extra
weaponry, including attack helicopters, requested by Somalia and its
neighbours in the regional intervention force against Al Shabaab.
NIGERIA: Security services push ahead with Boko Haram
talks to free more abducted schoolgirls
Fresh negotiations are due this week between Abuja's
security officials and representatives of the Islamist militia Boko
Haram to secure the release of more of the kidnapped Chibok
schoolgirls. By most counts the militia still holds at least 150 of the
Shehu Sani, a senator who has been involved
in the negotiations, says the government had preferred to trade some of
the militia's captured commanders for the release of the schoolgirls
rather than pay ransoms. Some government officials believe the latest
round of negotiations could broaden out to other matters. Security
conditions in north-eastern Nigeria remain precarious.
Getting aid to the estimated 4.7 million Nigerians in the area
who are desperately in need of food and water has been complicated by
military threats and bureaucracy, according to United Nations
officials. Aid organisations there say they will run out of money by
the end of June unless donors honour the pledges they made at a special
conference in Oslo in February.