Category Archives: International

No New Ebola Cases in the Congo

By Shujaa Kwanzaa

WHO reports they have made headway in a potential Ebola outbreak in the Congolese city of Goma.

WHO reports that they have made considerable headway in a potential Ebola outbreak in the Congolese city of Goma.

According to international news sources, on August 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that there have been no new cases of Ebola in the Congo since Friday, August 2.

WHO has vaccinated over 1,300 people who potentially came into contact with the Ebola virus in the Congolese city of Goma. This is believed to have helped contain what many feared would be a rapid spread in an urban center.

A year-long Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has killed at least 1,800, the second biggest toll ever, and efforts to contain the virus have been hobbled by militia violence and some local resistance to outside interference.

Goma, a lakeside city of nearly 2 million people on the Rwandan border, has been on high alert over the past week after a gold miner with a large family contaminated several people before dying himself.

“Ongoing vaccination activities have reached the majority (98%) of eligible contacts, and 1,314 contacts, and frontline workers (have been) vaccinated to date,” the WHO said in a statement on Sunday.

The use of an experimental Ebola vaccine, developed by Merck, has proven to be a key weapon against the hemorrhagic fever, although reaching contacts in rural areas beset by violence has proven difficult.

The vaccine’s success has been most obvious in cities where contacts can be easier to trace, helping avoid the widespread havoc seen in densely populated areas during a 2013-2016 outbreak in West Africa that killed over 11,000 people.

African Nations Launch Free Trade Agreement

By Malcolm Speaks

Representatives of African nations who signed AfCFTA earlier last year

Representatives of African nations who signed the AfCFTA.

African nations launched a continental free-trade zone this past month that can unite 1.3 billion people, create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc, and usher in a new era of development. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which consists of 55 countries is now the largest of its kind in the world. The World Trade Organization, which was created in 1995, previously held this distinction.

Ghana was announced as the host of the trade zone’s future headquarters and discussions were held on how exactly the bloc will operate.

Currently, most imports from African nations are from China or Europe. However, many products could be produced much closer, for example, in Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, and other African countries with an industrial base.

Prior to the free trade agreement, a patchwork of self-imposed regulations and tariffs made intra-African commerce costly, time-consuming, and cumbersome. AfCFTA has created a tariff-free continent that can grow local businesses, boost intra-African trade, rev up industrialization, and create jobs.

The agreement creates a single continental market for goods and services as well as a customs union that allows free movement of capital and business travelers. Countries that join AfCFTA must commit to removing tariffs on at least 90% of the goods they produce.

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) added that intra-African trade is likely to increase by 52.3% in 2020 under the AfCFTA.

Many economists agree that tariff-free access to a huge and unified market will encourage manufacturers and service providers to leverage economies of scale; an increase in demand will instigate an increase in production, which in turn will lower unit costs. Consumers will likely pay less for products and services as businesses expand operations and hire additional employees.

“The types of exports that would gain most are those that are labour intensive, like manufacturing and agro-processing, rather than the capital-intensive fuels and minerals, which Africa tends to export,” concurred Vera Songwe, executive secretary of the ECA, in an interview with Africa Renewal, emphasizing that the youth will mostly benefit from this job creation.

In addition, African women, who account for 70% of informal cross-border trading, will benefit from simplified trading regimes and reduced import duties.

AfCFTA will move Africa toward its age-long economic integration ambition and spark the establishment of pan-African institutions such as the African Economic Community, African Monetary Union, African Customs Union, and so on.

“I am dreaming of the day I can travel across borders, from Accra to Lomé [in Togo] or Abidjan [in Côte d’Ivoire] and buy locally manufactured goods and bring them into Accra without all the hassles at the borders,” said Iso Paelay, who manages the Place Entertainment Complex in Community 18 in Accra, Ghana.

“Right now, I find it easier to import the materials we use in our business—toiletries, cooking utensils, food items—from China or somewhere in Europe than from South Africa, Nigeria or Morocco,” Paelay added.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and another huge economy, was the last holdout, with the government previously saying that it needed to have further consultations with indigenous manufacturers and trade unions. Some Nigerian unions warned that free trade could open a floodgate for cheap imported goods that could atrophy Nigeria’s nascent industrial base.

The Nigeria Labour Congress, an umbrella workers’ union, described AfCFTA as a “radioactive neoliberal policy initiative” that could lead to “unbridled foreign interference never before witnessed in the history of the country.” Note that the foreign interference that the workers’ union referred to was from Africans, not Chinese or Europeans.

However, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo expressed the view that the agreement is “where our [economic] salvation lies.”

While experts believe that Africa’s large, industrializing economies will reap the most from the free trade area, it is clear that smaller countries also have a great deal to gain because factories in larger African countries will source inputs from smaller countries to add value to products.

Additionally, the AfCFTA has also been designed to address many countries’ multiple and overlapping memberships in Regional Economic Communities (RECs). Kenya, for example, belongs to five RECs.

For Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, former prime minister of Niger and chief executive of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), infrastructure development is crucial to intra-African trade. NEPAD’s Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) is an ambitious list of regional projects. Its 20 priority projects have been completed or are under construction, including the Algiers-Lagos trans-Saharan highway, the Lagos-Abidjan transport corridor, the Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya power transmission line, and the Brazzaville-Kinshasa bridge.

The African Free Trade Agreement intends to spur these projects and many more as this is all part of the vision of Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana after it liberated itself from Britain in 1957. That vision is of a United States of Africa.

Somali Mayor Killed in Bombing

Mogadishu mayor Abdirahman Abdi Omar Osman.

Former Mogadishu mayor Abdirahman Abdi Omar Osman.

By Shujaa Kwanzaa

According to international reports the mayor of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, has died of wounds sustained in an apparent suicide attack inside his office last month.

Mayor Abdirahman Abdi Omar Osman died on Thursday, August 1, 2019 while doctors were treating his wounds at a hospital in Qatars’s capital Doha where he was brought after the attack.

In total, six people were killed and Osman, also referred to as Engineer Yarisow, was wounded in the July 24, 2019 attack.

The Horn of Africa country’s information minister, Mohamed Abdi Hayir, said after the attack that one of the city’s district commissioners were among the dead.

The attack happened just hours after United Nations (UN) special envoy James Swan visited the mayor’s office.

Osman and several others badly injured in the attack were airlifted to Qatar for treatment.

Al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda-linked armed group fighting to overthrow Somalia’s UN-backed government, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying Swan was their target.

Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed praised Osman, who worked as a London councilor before returning to his war-torn homeland as a public servant dedicated to rebuilding the country.

“He had sacrificed his life and time serving the Somali public,” the president said in a statement.

“He will be remembered for his dedication to serving the people and the country, as well as working hard to develop Mogadishu while taking a clear stand in the fight against terrorism.”

Osman’s son, Mohamed A Omar, offered a moving tribute to his late father.

“Today the people of Mogadishu lose their mayor; but I lost my father,” he posted on Twitter, accompanied by a picture of his father in a sky-blue suit attending his son’s graduation.

“May Allah grant him the highest rank of paradise.”

The UN’s special envoy also expressed his sorrow over the loss of the former mayor.

65 Killed in Nigerian Attack

By Chuma Kisu

Boko Haram attacked a group attending a funeral in northern Nigeria on July 27.

Terrorist group Boko Haram attacked a group attending a funeral in northern Nigeria on July 27, leaving 65 dead.

According to international reports at least 65 people are dead following a suspected attack by Boko Haram on a funeral gathering in northeastern Nigeria.

The attack occurred Saturday, July 27, 2019 during a burial in the Nganzai district, near the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, local government chairman Muhammed Bulama said.

Twenty-one people were initially killed during the burial ceremony, Bulama said. An additional 44 people were killed when villagers ran after the assailants, the official said.

At least 10 people were injured in the attack. Eight of them were critically wounded and were being treated at an area hospital, he said.

Boko Haram members have inhabited the northern states of Nigeria for the past decade. The  group says its aim is to impose a stricter enforcement of Sharia law across Africa’s most populous nation, which is split between a majority Muslim north and a mostly Christian south.

The group has bombed churches and mosques; kidnapped women and children; and assassinated politicians and religious leaders.

According to reports, villagers were walking home from a funeral in northeast Nigeria when gunmen on motorbikes surrounded them in a graveyard and opened fire.

According to news reports in January 2019 the escalating violence forced 30,000 Nigerians to flee the country over a two day period.