Republique Centrafricaine: Yaounde Declaration on Solutions in the context of Forced Displacement related to the Central African Republic Crisis (27.04.2022)
I write what I like.
The last two weeks or recent days the French President Emmanuel Macron have proven how the elites of Paris is disregarding the former colonies, if it is Mali or Algeria. I am sure behind closed doors and within trusted associates the words could be even striking. Because, these words has been said in public and with no proper excuse.
In that regard, when the Head of State of France is saying that. The previous colonies should question the need to be bound by mechanisms and by agreements tied to Paris. Since Paris clearly don’t respect you or honour you.
Françafrique consist of Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad (Tchad), Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Comoros, Central African Republic, Djibouti, Gabon, Guinea, Mali, Madagascar, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Togo, and Tunisia. That is lot of counties and huge part of continent. The French are involved also in republics and nations, which they were the colonial power over. However, this here piece about them. Since they have still a significant place and plays a role for the power-balance in these countries.
About the “Colonies Francaises d’Afrique”:
The countries still bound by a monetary union and a common currency, which is Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo, These are all part of West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). The second monetary union of the CFA Franc are based on these countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon. These countries are a part of the Central African Economic and Monetary Union (CAEMC).
The French and some of their allies tried to relaunch it as “Eco” in 2019 and that has gone nowhere. That should say a lot. I doubt that is only happening, because of regime changes. Nevertheless, I don’t expect any serious movement on this matter anytime soon.
We know Benin said it wanted to leave CFA Franc … that hasn’t happened either. Paris and the elites there has a way of keeping everyone under their control.
What would be healthy would be for all heads of state and parliaments, ministries and such evaluate the relations, agreements and ties with it’s former colonial master. Since, as an independent nation it is nothing saying that you should be there forever or have to be mocked on a irregular basis by Heads of State of France. Neither, should the French has trade advantage or mineral extraction agreement, which other nations companies couldn’t have. That could possibly make it more profitable and earn more tax-dollars to the state reserves in any given republic.
It is time for all of them to consider this. Everyone has some sort of ties and this is why they are still indirectly having influence. That is why everytime something happens or in regards to French interests. Things gets tense and you never know when things will pop-off. This is why the Republic’s need to oversee and have a proper oversight of it. It is like this has have never been done.
All mechanism and statutory bodies, which is connected needs also to be looked into. This here will take time and needs to be inquires. There is a need to directly investigate and also see what sort of affects it has had over the years. If there is a beneficial relations or one-sided. Since, there might be some good parts, but a lot of it is a way of the French to never let go.
After everything Macron has done. The Francophone Africa needs to react and not accept this sort of acts. Right now he does this to Algeria and Mali. Who knows when the “wrong” head of state get elected somewhere and he will use his power to stifle them. Even if that was the will of the people and not the will of Paris. That is what is striking here and that is why these republic’s needs to see over everything. We know the French will feel insulted and infuriated. Since they are entitled to it all. However, this wasn’t their to begin with. This isn’t Marseilles or Bordeaux, but it’s Yaounde and Lome. Peace.
“There is hardly any antagonism between communities or ethnic groups or regions. The violence here is largely the result of conflict between leaders whose ambitions know no limit and no decency. These leaders have around them some hard-core followers, armed to the teeth. They have made the entire people of the Congo hostages of their blind ambition. It is not the people, their communities or even their political parties who are driving this confrontation. They are!” – UN Special Envoy Mohammed Sahnoun (E Leonard, UN envoy says Congo leaders consumed by ambition, Reuters, United Nations, 26 September 1997).
Just as the internet is blocked and social media blackout. The Presidential Elections is happening in Congo-Brazzaville. Where the Self-Styled President for Life, General Denis Sassou-Nguesso is running for his fourth term. Not shockingly his anticipated to win and certainly by a landslide.
Though he ran the nation for 12 years between 1980 to 1992. Where he ran it as a one-party state. The General had total control and this is persistent to this day. After he overthrow the elected government again in 1997. Since, then he has never looked back and power. He has held this office for 36 years with the two consecutive terms.
Sassou-Nguesso is the “emperor” who like others are not only planning to run another term as President for 5 years. This means he would be running the nation for most of the time since 1980. The General with his strict discipline and his “nice suits”.
Just like others who rules for life. They are planning for their sons to takeover. The Cobra or the Emperor is no different. There is speculation that his planning for Denis Christel to takeover from him. His the planned successor and heir to the throne.
The General have used force against the opposition. The Emperor have used tricks that is common for leaders like him. He has used violence, detained, silenced media and brutally deported 250,000 immigrants from the DRC. Therefore, his not a “benevolent” dictator. His just another one of them and enjoys the perks of the highest office.
That is why he can siphon money to France. Buy weapons from Azerbaijan. While still securing debt-relief by western donors. That is the sort of man the Cobra is.
He has in the past promised “The Way Forward” but that always includes him and he never let it go. Now that he has power. He will never let it go. The Cobra will stay and the Emperor has no intention of leaving office. Even when the public has already voted him out once.
Today will not make a difference or any changes. The man is installing himself in power. Just like he did in 1980 and in 1997. All the promises and pledges of the past doesn’t matter. The election is only made to legitimize himself. We know that plenty of the militia members that got him to power either is in a high rank in the army or been vital in his Presidential Security Guard.
None of the previous elections have been deemed “free and fair” but have stated as “not free and fair”. We can expect the patronage and the ones loyal to him to be happy. The President and his men will be giddy. The rigged election and the preparation for the next term is already in play. Just like the laws was ushered in to allow him to stand again. Therefore, everything is in the making to make it happen.
A general like Denis will not let-go and he will not risk it either. The way he has gone after every enemy and opposition. He knows he cannot just step-down. They might want to investigate him and litigate his actions. That the Cobra and Emperor cannot accept. He got to reign supreme and no one else is supposed to that in Brazzaville. Peace.
““African Quality” is the industry term for fuels that are destined for African markets. They are characterised primarily by their high sulphur content, though the term also refers to fuels with other low-quality aspects such as a high olefinic or aromatic content. In short, this definition of African Quality matches the type of fuels that we found at petrol stations owned by Swiss trading companies in Africa” (Public Eye, P: 100, 2016).
There are viciousness and malice attempts all over the globe, there warlords killing for selling luxurious minerals and keeping resources in their hands to sell to get ammunition. Then there are not as vicious as them, but still worth condoning; the ones that knows that they are selling an off-brand product that they are not allowed elsewhere, but selling “African Quality”, low-level gasoline with blended high toxic and filled with metals, with levels higher than sulphur, PAHs and other chemicals that can be dangerous at certain extent.
Switzerland are a prosperous and business companies that are profitable abroad, like the ones mentioned in the report of Public Eye, that shows to what extent they go to earn fortunes. As they uses both connections to various regimes; they are using connections in Netherlands to blend and mix diesel and gasoline to the African market. That would be fine if it wasn’t an inferior product, but we’re a product that could be following standards of the same quality sold in Denmark or United Kingdom, instead it filled dangerous toxins and metals that can make the air-quality lower and make the car quickly destroyed. These acts should not go unnoticed.
Mixing and making cheap Gasoline in Abidjan, Ivory Coast:
“How was this waste produced? Every month for 16 months, between January 2006 and April 2007, Trafigura bought batches of coker naphtha created at a Mexican refinery, with the intention of turning them into blendstocks for gasoline. This coker naphtha is one of the lowest qualities of gasoline blendstocks and it is created during oil refining from the “bottom of the barrel”. It has two specificities: first, it contains very high levels of toxic substances, namely sulphur and mercaptan sulphur, and second, as a direct consequence, it is very cheap. In other words, it is an opportunity for (almost) any creative trader. “As cheap as anyone can imagine”. James McNicol, a trader from Trafigura, wrote in an email to his colleagues in December 2005, “[this] should make serious dollars”. Trafigura’s sole motivation for experimenting with the production process was profit. Company executives had estimated that buying and selling the coker naphtha would generate profit to the tune of US$7 million per cargo. But before “making serious dollars”, Trafigura had to convert the product into a suitable ingredient for African gasoline: it had to find a way to lower drastically the mercaptan sulphur content, otherwise its odour would be unbearably strong” (Public Eye, P: 17, 2016).
Abidjan – Minton Report on African Quality gasoline:
“Based on the Minton report and an internal Trafigura document we conclude that the total sulphur still in the washed naphtha was between 608 and 680 tons – equaling between 7,156 and 8,000 ppm. The Minton report noted that “the process had achieved a 47 percent reduction of the mercaptans [in the sense of transforming into other Sulphur components] and that some ended up in the aqueous waste phase and some in the oily product, but that the conversion rate was not known.“ An internal Trafigura memorandum dated 23rd September 2006 summarizes in paragraphs 1–3 how much coker naphtha was unloaded to the Probo Koala by three different vessels and the mercaptan Sulphur content of it before and after the washings: (1) 11 April 2006 M/T Seapurha: 28,829 mt, mercaptan sulphur level of 1,700 ppm and after washings 950 ppm. (2) 19 May 2006 M/T Moselle: 28,130 mt, mercaptan sulphur level of 2,014 ppm and after washings 950 ppm. (3) 18 June 2006 M/T Seavinha 28,284 mt, mercaptan sulphur level of 1,700 ppm and after washings 950 ppm. We can make an even more precise estimation: Based on Trafigura’s reply to the BBC that gives a summary of the composition of the waste as estimated by the claimants in a group litigation case – and based on analysis of the Netherlands Forensic Institute – the total sulphur content of the waste dumped in Abidjan was around 66 tons” (Public Eye, P: 149, 2016).
“In 2015, Trafigura had revenues of US$ 14.4 billion from Africa, making the continent its second largest market after Europe. Its competitor, Vitol, also operates widely on the continent. Thought to be the world’s largest commodity trader, Vitol might be expected to give some information about its activities if only in the public interest, but the company does not disclose its annual results. Many other Swiss companies also supply fuels to Africa” (Public Eye, P: 30, 2016).
Using Oil Deposits to blend into African Quality:
“Oil depots offer the opportunity to blend petroleum products according to the fuel quality required by the country (see chapters 9 and 10). With that respect, an advisor close to the BP-Puma transaction assumed Puma Energy was, among other reasons, buying petrol stations in order “to sell surplus of dirty products in Africa.” He was not the only one. A market analyst from Petroleum Intelligence Weekly also mentioned the “compromise” in fuel quality that could occur with the arrival of the traders.13 Weak regulation on fuel quality standards (particularly for sulphur) is a crucial factor in any analysis of the economic potential of petrol stations in Africa. As we show below, many high sulphur, low-quality intermediate products are available that can be blended into “African Quality” diesel and gasoline. Playing with qualities is a lucrative strategy and nothing else than a form of regulatory arbitrage” (Public Eye, P: 31, 2016).
Republic of Congo demand of Petroleum:
“Congo’s demand for petroleum products is satisfied by two sources. The first source is the state-owned refinery, Coraf, which is run by the President’s son Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso, nicknamed “Kiki”. This refinery gets its oil from the State and provides diesel and gasoline to the local market. Coraf’s dodgy deals with a Swiss front company, Philia, have been the subject of a previous report by Public Eye” (…) “Tacoma and its Congolese subsidiary X-Oil have both been paying “consulting fees” to an offshore shell company belonging to Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso, the Congolese President’s son and head of trading operations at SNPC, according to a 2006 Hong Kong court judgment.32 The shell company, Long Beach Limited (Anguilla), was part of a broader scheme set up by Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso to syphon off part of Congo’s oil wealth to private coffers, in collusion with Denis Gokana’s AOGC” (Public Eye, P: 43, 2016).
Difference between Europe and African levels of PAHs:
“So the actual gap between the African and European samples is even wider. Indeed, a study showed that the level of PAHs contained in diesel sold in Germany had an average of 2.73 percent of mass in 2013. So Vitol’s diesel, as sold in Senegal, has more than five times more PAHs than the diesel sold in Germany. Worldwide, the average of PAH in diesel is estimated to be 3.7 percent of mass, according to CONCAWE. This is certainly lower than what we found in Africa. Only two of our samples, found at Oryx in Zambia and Trafigura in Côte d’Ivoire, are lower than the global mean” (…) “The reason why African diesel fuels have high aromatic and polyaromatic content can easily be explained: almost no sub-Saharan African country regulates them. And so the trading companies who import these fuels are tempted to use cheaper, lower quality, high aromatic blendstocks for diesel in the African markets. This tactic might have commercial advantages, but for the people and for the environment where these fuels are sold, this “blend-dumping” is a very unhealthy practice” (Public Eye, P: 55, 2016).
Difference between Europe and African levels of sulphur:
“But if we compare the average sulphur levels in European gasoline (7 ppm) with the highest sulphur sample of gasoline from a station in Ghana belonging to UBI, a subsidiary of Puma Energy, then that discrepancy increases to a factor of 103. More generally, we found the highest levels of sulphur in Ghana and Mali. In Ghana, we found between 275 and 718 ppm sulphur in the four gasoline samples. This is within the legal limit, but the limit itself is very high (1,000 ppm), one hundred times higher than the European legal limit. Many of our samples show much higher sulphur contents than what refineries in West Africa often produce. The Tema refinery in Ghana produces an average 127 ppm gasoline” (Public Eye, P: 56, 2016).
Swiss trading in Ghana:
“In 2014, 4 of the 8 deliveries from Swiss trading companies fluctuated between 2,800 ppm and 3,200 ppm, highlighting a possible strategy to stick as close as possible to the legal limit. That same year, both Vitol and Trafigura delivered diesel with sulphur content so high that the product could not be sold at the pump. The product would have been further blended in the depot to lower its sulphur level, unless it ended up being sold off-spec (i.e. illegally) to consumers. Asked to comment about those of their cargoes containing higher sulphur content than allowed at the pump, Trafigura declined to do so while Vitol specified that it “does not comment on specific cargoes as a matter of policy.” (Public Eye, P: 75, 2016). “While the subsidies drained the public treasury, the BDCs benefited from them systemically delivering lower quality products than planned (<1,000 ppm). Indeed, our findings revealed sulphur levels in diesel that were on average much higher than 1,000 ppm both at the moment of import and at the pump. The price calculated by the government to subsidise the importers therefore didn’t correspond with the quality of products imported. In a totally legal manner, as they were respecting Ghana’s national standards, the importers profited from a system to the detriment of the government (public finances) and the consumers, not to mention Ghanaian health” (Public Eye, P: 79, 2016).
Money before People:
“Simply put, Swiss commodity trading companies put profits before anything else, even before the health of the population, while claiming, as Vivo does for instance in Côte d’Ivoire, that “it uses all the means and tools necessary to ensure the latest international standards of quality […] so that Ivorian consumers benefit from what is best in terms of fuel when going to a Shell petrol stations”. Our findings contravene these glossy CSR-statements. In a corporate video, Trafigura says that “Across Africa and other developing regions, our supply of affordable high-quality fuel products empowers local businesses.” Vivo Energy is the same, saying that “Our commitment to achieving and maintaining the highest international Health, Safety, Security and the Environment (HSSE) standards is at the heart of our business and is a key differentiator (…) in Africa.” Not to repeat a similar promise made by Oryx Energies, that “Our commitment (…) for Africa means that we take every precaution to minimise the potential impact our products and services may have on the environment.” Commenting on Oryx’s development in Mali, the chairman of the group, Jean Claude Gandur said: “This enables us to supply high-quality fuels (…) to an increasing number of clients.” The reality is quite different. Just to take Mali as an example, Oryx’s diesel in the land-locked country was the worst we found among 25 samples collected in 8 countries, with 380 times more sulphur than allowed by the European limit” (Public Eye, P: 126 , 2016).
We can easily see how the Swiss Corporations are earning fortunes on selling lower-quality petroleum to the African market as their loose regulation and easy market are acceptable for the degraded gasoline. This indicates how the European Corporation are doing what they can to earn monies on dangerous products that would not accept on their own shores. It’s disgraceful how these “African quality” gasoline and diesel are sold in different nations around on the African Continent.
It is not only bad for the cars and for the engines. It is harmful to the environment and the people who inhale the toxins and chemicals blends that come after the use of the gasoline. This pollution is man-made toxic blend that creates more harm than good. Still, it’s a legal product and allowed to sell without any questions. As the Governments are giving way to the Oil Companies and Holding Companies that are selling these there. This should not be acceptable.
Here is just one some samples of the bad business practices, there might be even more and worse than what the Public Eye found and what other companies do on the continent. To what extent they go to earn profits without consequences. This here proves the ability these companies have to be hazardous and be rough with nature and humanity while earning high profits on low-quality products. This should be sanctioned and stopped if it matter’s what people are inhaling and the damage it does to our bodies, secondly what these toxins do to our nature and surroundings as it might be in our food, waters and pollute our air. Certainly the initial findings prove the toxins and the ways of blending are reasons for itself to stop the manufacturing process of making it in general. Especially knowing how much better by just doing it proper and follow guidelines of European laws on gasoline and diesel would harm the environment less. The people should also not get polluted and get toxins because the corporations sell them a disgraceful product.
Last remark, when some of this by blending on ships or at facilities that produce already the European Standard gasoline or diesel, it is insulting that on the same refinery that they create worse product’s to sell leftovers to a continent; because they can and will to make as much profit as they can. This is our world and it’s not ideal, therefore we have to put a lid on it so it can change! Peace.
Public Eye – ‘Dirty Diesel – How Swiss Traders Flood Africa with Toxic Fuels’ (September 2016, Ghana)
“Why is UN not paying much attention to member states that are clearly sliding into turmoil and crisis and instead is majorly involved in the after effects of Humanitarian assistance. It doesn’t make sense. We can’t wait until it’s too.” – Francis Mwijukye [35th Inter Parliamentary Union- Geneva: High level United Nations Management committee Meeting on Development assistance, Humanitarian assistance, peace keeping operations and Mormative treaty related knowledge, 26.10.2016]
We are living in a brave new world where the world order is switching… its twists and turns, the morning dew disappears and the sun kisses the earth yet again. The last few days the world has changed. Because Nations and States have made decisions that matters; they are not only talking, but now they are acting on it.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) of The Hague is under fire. After Burundi, South Africa and Gambia are thinking of pulling out of the International Court that access the genocides and crimes against humanity.
With the escalated conflicts, the stories of lives doing whatever they can flee nations, this is happening from the internal conflict inside Burundi, Burundians refugees are now in Tanzania, Rwanda and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This because the President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to stay in power for a third term; when the Constitution of Burundi said the Executive only could have two!
The same with the internal fighting between SPLM/A VS. SPLM/A-IO in South Sudan; where there is battle of power between President Salva Kiir and former FVP Dr. Riek Machar. Because of the conflict in South Sudan the civilian refugees have fled to Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Ethiopia. Now MONUSCO got SPLM/A-IO and Dr. Machar from the DRC to Khartoum earlier this year.
In Kenya this is happening: while the Somali Refugees are now being sent home from Kenya under the command of the government there. This happening while opposition in all of the countries mentioned has optionally torturing, arresting, detaining and even harassing them if needed be. The Kenyan Government using the fear of Al-Shabaab to send the refugees away and also hustle more donor-funding from the United States. That happens because the Jubilee apparently didn’t’ earn enough coins on NYS, Eurobonds or whatever scheme they had in play at the time.
In this New World order that is arranged while the Government are using their Security Organizations to silence opposition. While the Nation with the African Union (AU) Headquarters and are the leader of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Ethiopian Government even uses helicopters, artillery and soldiers to kill civilians in the regions of Amhara and Oromo people. This is a Nation who has soldiers in Peacekeeping mission all around the Continent, but using all kind of force to oppress their own.
So in this place and time with more totalitarian regimes, with more leaders not leaving offices and with less political freedom; the International Justice is winding down. The rule of law internationally right now is losing its power, while the United Nation’s negations and diplomatic missions like the Inter-Burundian Dialogue under former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mpaka hasn’t gone anywhere. While the dialogue between UN’s own Edem Kodjo hasn’t created anything resembling a General Election run by the CENI in the DRC. That is because President Joseph Kabila has no plan of leaving office without using force on his own. This is happening while the bloodshed continues in the Kivu’s, while the MONUSCO and FARDC watching it in silence. ADF-NALU and the Mayi-Mayi continues as well together with the Ex-FARDC Gen. Muhindo Akili Mundos has also blood on his hands. This is happening while the Rwandan State still can export high-grade minerals that they cannot even produce or has mines to extract on their soil. This has been happening since the first war in the late 1990s.
So the New World Order is more of the same… the same kind of violence, the other change is the new brave leaders who defy the International Order. They don’t want to follow it when they feel it is unfair. United Nations (UN) might be next or the World Trade Organization (WTO) or the World Health Organization (WHO). As they might respect the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the World Bank (World Bank) because they need their financial stability or the financial stimulus that backs the budgets and aspects the government needs to pay their elites, businesses and whatever it takes to keep the regimes a-float.
This is the grand issues… the human rights violations, killings and detentions… so the Presidents and their Administrations are now afraid of the ICC. They are worried that their actions be served by the Court and they have to answer for their crimes. Doesn’t matter if this court exists or not; the UN should put up Tribunals after the Internal Conflicts like they done in the past. Than it is not direct prosecutions or charges that the ICC has put on Executives or any in the inner-circle of ruling regimes as they know their using illegal forces to silence their people and citizens. Though the feelings from African Nations that they are feeling threaten by the ICC and their actions as they are not going-in on Europeans or Americans in general, while African Generals and Politicians are hand-picked.
I’m just waiting for the honourable nations of Morocco, Mauritania, Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland, Togo, Guinea, and Equatorial Guinea, and so on… There are more that will make decisions to leave, as even Cote d’Ivoire might revoke their place.
There are fears on the horizon, the ICC is losing its standing, the international community better listen as the men who are greedy on power and resources take it in these days by any means and hope to get away with it, while their people suffer. The only differences at our time are that information is not forgotten or not told. It’s there for those who listen; time to consider and rethink the World Order and where we want to be. Peace.
“The Congolese government on Tuesday night announced that 17 people had died in Monday morning’s gunfire in the capital Brazzaville accusing former militia leader, Frederic Bintsamou, of being personally involved in the disorders. According to Thierry Moungalla, spokesman for the Congolese government, 17 people (3 agents of police, 2 civilians and 12 attackers) were killed in the “terrorist attack” that targeted the southern districts of the capital before “rapid response” of the police” (africanews, 2016).
WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, April 8, 2016 –
Mark C. Toner
Deputy Department Spokesperson
April 7, 2016
The United States is profoundly disappointed by the flawed presidential electoral process in the Republic of Congo. Widespread irregularities and the arrests of opposition supporters following the elections marred an otherwise peaceful vote.
The United States calls upon the Congolese Government to correct these numerous deficiencies before scheduling legislative elections in order to bring credibility to future electoral processes. We continue to urge the Congolese Government to respect the people’s constitutional rights of freedom of expression, movement, and association. We further encourage all parties to engage in constructive, inclusive dialogue.
The United States is also deeply concerned about the welfare of thousands of Congolese who awoke on April 4 to the sound of gunfire and explosions and fled their homes. A climate of fear works against the national unity and peace that the Congolese people deserve.
We are inspired by the Congolese people, who have demonstrated a strong commitment to democracy and have persevered in difficult times. Their continued peaceful involvement in the political process is vital to the future development of the Republic of Congo.
WASHINGTON, October 5, 2015— Sub-Saharan Africa countries are continuing to grow, albeit at a slower pace, due to a more challenging economic environment. Growth will slow in 2015 to 3.7 percent from 4.6 percent in 2014, reaching the lowest growth rate since 2009, according to new World Bank projections.
These latest figures are outlined in the World Bank’s new Africa’s Pulse, the twice-yearly analysis of economic trends and the latest data on the continent. The 2015 forecast remains below the robust 6.5 percent growth in GDP which the region sustained in 2003-2008, and drags below the 4.5 percent growth following the global financial crisis in 2009-2014. Overall, growth in the region is projected to pick up to 4.4 percent in 2016, and further strengthen to 4.8 percent in 2017.
Sharp drops in the price of oil and other commodities have brought on the recent weakness in growth. Other external factors such as China’s economic slowdown and tightening global financial conditions weigh on Africa’s economic performance, according to Africa’s Pulse. Compounding these factors, bottlenecks in supplying electricity in many African countries hampered economic growth in 2015.
“The end of the commodity super-cycle poses an opportunity for African countries to reinvigorate their reform efforts and thereby transform their economies and diversify sources of growth. Implementing the right policies to boost agricultural productivity, and reduce electricity costs while expanding access, will improve competitiveness and support the growth of light manufacturing,” says Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa.
According to Africa’s Pulse, several countries are continuing to post robust growth. Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda and Tanzania are expected to sustain growth at around 7 percent or more per year in 2015-17, spurred by investments in energy and transport, consumer spending and investment in the natural resources sector.
Gains in Poverty Reduction
Africa’s Pulse found that progress in reducing income poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa has been occurring faster than previously thought. According to World Bank estimates poverty in Africa declined from 56 percent in 1990 to 43 percent in 2012. At the same time, Africa’s population saw progress in all dimensions of well-being, particularly in health (maternal mortality, under-5 mortality) and primary school enrollment, where the gender gap shrank.
Yet African countries continue to face a stubbornly high birth rate, which has limited the impact of the past two decades of sustained economic growth on reducing the overall number of poor. Countries still lag behind those in other regions in making progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). For example, Africa will not meet the MDG of halving the share of population living in poverty between 1990 and 2015.
Weaker Commodity Prices
Sub-Saharan Africa’s rich natural resources have made it a net exporter of fuel, minerals and metals, and agricultural commodities. These commodities account for nearly three-fourths of the region’s goods exports. Robust supplies and lower global demand have accounted for the decline of commodity prices across the board. For instance, the drop in the prices of natural gas, iron ore, and coffee exceeded 25 percent since June 2014, according to the report.
Africa’s Pulse notes that overall decline in growth in the region is nuanced and the factors hampering growth vary among countries. In the region’s commodity exporters—especially oil-producers such as Angola, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Nigeria, as well as producers of minerals and metals such as Botswana and Mauritania, the drop in prices is negatively affecting growth. In Ghana, South Africa, and Zambia, domestic factors such as electricity supply constraints are further stemming growth. In Burundi and South Sudan threats from political instability and social tensions are taking an economic and social toll.
Fiscal deficits across the region are now larger than they were at the onset of the global financial crisis, the report finds. Rising wage bills and lower revenues, especially among oil-producers, led to a widening of fiscal deficits. In some countries, the deficit was driven by large infrastructure expenditures. Reflecting the widening fiscal deficits in the region, government debt continued to rise in many countries. While debt-to-GDP ratios appear to be manageable in most countries, a few countries are seeing a worrisome jump in this ratio.
“The dramatic, ongoing drop in commodity prices has put pressure on rising fiscal deficits, adding to the challenge in countries with depleted policy buffers,” says Punam Chuhan-Pole, Acting Chief Economist, World Bank Africa and the report’s author. “To withstand new shocks, governments in the region should improve the efficiency of public expenditures, such as prioritizing key investments, and strengthen tax administration to create fiscal space in their budgets.”
Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa will be repeatedly tested as new shocks occur in the global economic environment, underscoring the need for Governments to embark on structural reforms to alleviate domestic impediments to growth, the report notes. Investments in new energy capacity, attention to drought and its effects on hydropower, reform of state-owned distribution companies, and renewed focus on encouraging private investment will help build resiliency in the power sector. Governments can boost revenues through taxes and improved tax compliance. Complementing these efforts, governments can improve the efficiency of public expenditures to create fiscal space in their budget.
ACCRA, Ghana–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Western Union Company (NYSE:WU, a leader in global payment services, today celebrated its 20th anniversary in Africa. With over 34,000 locations and connections to millions of bank accounts and mobile wallets in more than 50 countries and territories, across Africa, the Western Union network serves millions of senders and receivers with a choice of 120 currencies.
To celebrate this special milestone, Western Union’s President for Africa, Middle East, Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe and CIS, Jean Claude Farah, in addition to Aida Diarra, Western Union’s Regional Vice President and Head of Africa and other members of the Africa leadership team visited the first agent location at ADB (Agricultural Development Bank) that offered Western Union money transfer services for the first time in Africa in 1995. The WU leadership team also visited Ecobank head office in Accra and marked the occasion with the launch of the Account Based Money Transfer services through ATM in Ghana.
The Western Union 20th Anniversary celebration in Ghana in Africa, coincides with a speech made by President Barack Obama at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he is quoted saying:
“Today, Africa is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. Africa’s middle class is projected to grow to more than one billion consumers. With hundreds of millions of mobile phones, surging access to the Internet, Africans are beginning to leapfrog old technologies into new prosperity. Africa is on the move, a new Africa is emerging.”
Western Union is committed to the expansion and development of its pan-African network which provides a critical link to the ever growing African Diaspora living and working in countries around the world.
“More than 30 million Africans live outside their home countries, contributing billions of USD in remittances to their families and communities back home every year1”, said Jean Claude Farah. “We are very humbled to play a role in helping them move their money as they seek to elevate their economic status, meet emergency needs, support healthcare requirements, contribute to the education of future generations and in many instances build their own small businesses. By moving money for better for 20 years Western is enabling a world of possibilities for Africa and in Africa.”
Aida Diarra added, “Through the work we do we also enable economic activity and job creation. Currently over 155,000 Front Line Associates (FLAs) are employed in our agent network on the African continent. Western Union invests in training these FLAs developing their business, technical and compliance skills.”
In addition to the socio-economic impact that remittances enable, the company also supports philanthropic activities in Africa via the Western Union Foundation which has a long history of giving back to communities across the African continent. It supports organizations that promote economic opportunity and growth for individuals, families and entire communities throughout the region. Since its creation, the Western Union Foundation has committed to $8.703 million in grants and donations to 158 NGOs in more than 40 countries across Africa.
About Western Union
The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western Union Business Solutions branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to purchase money orders. As of March 31, 2015, the Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta branded services were offered through a combined network of over 500,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories and over 100,000 ATMs and kiosks. In 2014, The Western Union Company completed 255 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $85 billion of principal between consumers, and 484 million business payments. For more information, visit www.WesternUnion.com.
1 IFAD, 2009
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