A program funded by the African Development Bank (ADB) has enabled a significant modernisation of agriculture and fisheries in São Tomé and Príncipe, the bank said in a document published on its website.
The document on four years of implementation of the Recovery Programme of Infrastructure to Support Food Security (PRIASA), 2012-2016, said roads had been rebuilt and irrigation channels built for farmland, along with fish storage centres and various other structures and training sessions for farmers, fishermen and technical personnel.
The rural sector, which employs about 60 percent of the workforce, was the main target of the agreement signed in 2013 between the ADB and the São Tomé government, which included provision of US$156 million by 2018, distributed to agriculture and fisheries (45 percent), services (37 percent) and social support (18 percent).
The African Development Bank, which has supported São Tomé and Príncipe since 1978, also reported that PRIASA directly benefits over 10,000 people, nearly half of them women who play a key role in processing of products and organising the market. (macauhub/ST)
Early on Wednesday evening, as the sun began to set and the air cooled to just below freezing, police arrived at a unremarkable white home in Fort Wayne, Indiana, a few blocks from the campus of Indiana Tech. We do not yet know who called them or what they expected. Inside, they found the bodies of three young men, shot multiple times in what police, on Friday, called “execution style” murders.
The young men were members of a predominantly Muslim diaspora community whose roots are in Africa’s eastern Sahel region. They were Muhannad Tairab, age 17, Adam Mekki, age 20, and Mohamedtaha Omar, age 23. Police have identified no motive in the killing, which appears to be something of a mystery.
The modest white building had apparently become something of a “party house” used by local youths, but police said there was no known connection to gangs or any other violent organization.
Were they killed for their religion? A police spokesperson cautioned against jumping to conclusions, stating that, as of yet, they had “no reason to believe this was any type of hate crime, or focused because of their religion or their nationality whatsoever.”
Indeed it may turn out that there was some unseen force at play here: gang violence, a robbery gone awry, some personal dispute. Nonetheless, it seems impossible, at this point, to completely rule out the possibility that this could be exactly what Muslim American rights group already fear it may be: an expression of America’s increasingly violent Islamophobia problem.
There were the murders, almost exactly one year ago, of three Chapel Hill students, by a local man who’d expressed a paranoid hatred of religion. Later that spring, the FBI arrested the leader of a far-right militia that was planning to massacre a predominantly Muslim neighborhood in upstate New York. Another militia, in Texas, has sent its assault rifle-wielding members to stalk a local mosque and its adherents, later publishing the home addresses of “Muslims and Muslim sympathizers.”
More isolated acts of violence — what we might call “lone wolf” attacks had the religions of the shooter and victim been reversed — have been so frequent they are difficult to track.
On Thanksgiving, a Pittsburgh man accosted his Moroccan cab driver with questions about ISIS, then shot him. Two weeks later, a Michigan man called an Indian store clerk a “terrorist” before shooting him in the face. On Christmas eve in Texas, a local man charged into a Muslim-owned tire shop and shouted “Muslim!” as he opened fire, killing one and critically wounding another.
Less than a week ago, a Missouri man charged at a Muslim American family with a handgun, telling them, “This state allows you to carry a gun and shoot you. … You, your wife, and your kids have to die.” The family was able to flee.
This has not come out of nowhere. Islamophobia has entered mainstream American discourse in the past year, receiving substantial airtime on cable news networks. CNN anchors have called Muslims “unusually violent” and “unusually barbaric”; Fox News has called Islam a “destructive force” and suggested that Muslim American communities are running secret terrorist “training camps.” Presidential candidates from Donald Trump to Marco Rubio continue to dabble in overt Islamophobia.
It is important to caution against assuming that whatever happened this week in Fort Wayne, whatever chain of events led to the mysterious “execution-style” murders of three young men, must necessarily be part of the rising wave of Islamophobic violence in America. Police are presumably cautioning against that conclusion for a reason, and it may well turn out that their deaths are entirely unrelated.
Still, it is difficult to ignore that three apparently Muslim young men have been murdered, for no immediately obvious reason, just as indiscriminate violence against Muslim Americans is growing out of control.
It is thus concerning that these murders have received so little attention, if only for the possibility, however remote, that they could be part of this trend of religious violence against American citizens.
As a thought experiment, scroll back up to the top of this page and read back through, but this time imagine that the Muslim victims of violence, in every instance, were instead Christian. Imagine that the perpetrators had all been Muslim, and had targeted their victims explicitly because of their Christian faith.
Imagine that, rather than Donald Trump calling for banning Muslims from entering the US, it was Rep. Keith Ellison, who is Muslim, calling for banning Christians. Imagine that Rep. André Carson, who is also Muslim, complained bitterly when President Obama responded to anti-Christian violence by visiting a church, and that Carson further argued America should be willing toclose down churches and anywhere else dangerous Christians might congregate.
Now imagine, amid all this anti-Christian violence and anti-Christian hatred, as Christians were gunned down in the street for their religion and crowds of thousands gathered to cheer anti-Christian rhetoric, that three Christians youths turned up mysteriously executed a few blocks from Indiana Tech. Ask yourself whether it would be treated as major news, if only for the possibility of its connection to that wave of violence, or whether it would be largely ignored, as the murders of Tairab, Mekki, and Omar have been.
This week the authors issued a note explaining the mistake in their October 2015 Science paper on the genome of a 4,500-year-old man from Ethiopia1 — the first complete ancient human genome from Africa. The man was named after Mota Cave, where his remains were found.
In the Science paper, researchers confirmed this finding. The paper also suggested that populations across the continent still harbour significant ancestry from the Middle Eastern farmers who were behind the back-migration. Populations in East Africa, including Ethiopian highlanders who live near Mota Cave, carried the highest levels of Eurasian ancestry. But the team also found vestiges of the ‘backflow’ migration in West Africans and in a pygmy group in Central Africa, the Mbuti.
Andrea Manica, a population geneticist at the University of Cambridge, UK, who co-led the study, says the team made a mistake in its conclusion that the backflow reached western and central Africa. “The movement 3,000 years ago, or thereabouts, was limited to eastern Africa,” he says.
Manica says that the error occurred when his team compared genetic variants in the ancient Ethiopian man with those in the reference human genome. Incompatibility between the two software packages used caused some variants that the Ethiopian man shared with Europeans (whose DNA forms a large chunk of the human reference sequence) to be removed from the analysis. This made Mota man seem less closely related to modern European populations than he actually was — and in turn made contemporary African populations appear more closely related to Europeans. The researchers did have a script that they could have run to harmonize the two software packages, says Manica, but someone forgot to run it.
Pontus Skoglund, a population geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, says that he was surprised by the claim that as much as 6–7% of the ancestry of West and Central African groups came from the Eurasian migrants. But after obtaining the Mota man’s genome from Manica’s team, he and his colleague David Reich carried out their own comparison and found no evidence for that conclusion. They informed Manica’s team, who then discovered the processing error.
“Almost all of us agree there was some back-to-Africa gene flow, and it was a pretty big migration into East Africa,” says Skoglund. “But it did not reach West and Central Africa, at least not in a detectable way.” The error also undermines the paper’s original conclusion that many Africans carry Neanderthal DNA (inherited from Eurasians whose ancestors had interbred with the group).
Skoglund praised the paper — “the genome itself is just fantastic,” he says — and the researchers’ willingness to share their data and issue a speedy note about the error: they posted it online on 25 January. When asked to confirm whether and when it would publish the researchers’ update, a representative for Science said the journal couldn’t yet comment.
Manica is not yet sure if Science will change the title of the paper, ‘Ancient Ethiopian genome reveals extensive Eurasian admixture throughout the African continent’. But if the team had caught the error earlier, he says, “I’m sure we would have phrased things differently”.
Equatorial Guinea has began the election census process on Friday in preparation for the Presidential elections.
The official radio station announced that the voters’ census for the presidential election will begin on January 15 and finish on January 30.
The presidential election is planned to take place in November, but according to some sources in Malabo, it could be moved forward to June. The previous election saw a total of 291,000 registered as voters.
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema has lead the country since 1979. His regime has always been under criticism for its repression to opponents.
In a joint press statement, three opposition political parties – The Social Democracy Convergence(CPDS), the Innovation Citizens (CI) and the right center Union (UCD) questioned the legitimacy of the census and also put forward their lack of transparency to the whole system.
With the discovery of oil in Equatorial Guinea in 1990s, the country has been able to rip big but this has not reflected in lives of its citizens. Low life expectancy, limited access to basic facilities and high child mortality has continued to retard the growth of its citizens.
(CNN) When Madiba Olivier set out to make Cameroon’s first video game with his newly opened studio Kiro’o Games, he had to do it with just $100 and daily power outages. And those weren’t even the most difficult challenges for the Yaounde-based developer.
An early design for Enzo, the hero of Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan
“We had difficulty finding funds and showing investors that we are not a scam,” recalls Olivier. “We had people telling us, you are just another African scam on the internet. That was very humiliating for me.”
Recently, he has proven the doubters that he means business. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, Kiro’o Games has raised over $50,000 to create the country’s first African role-play game: Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan.
Unlike most fantasy games, this one features an African hero, and creates an alternative world inspired by African folklore and mythology.
“At first, the idea was to make games about ninjas,” notes Olivier. “But then I realized many gamers were bored of the same story and the same heroes. That’s how the idea to create an African fantasy came out. I wanted to break what I call ‘the exotic world’ image of Africa.”
The hero of the game, Enzo Kori-Odan, is the ruler of Zama — a diverse country free of an imperialist past but now threatened by a coup. The story centers around Enzo and his wife Erine, and their fight to regain the throne. The hero’s power comes from the collective energy of his ancestors, a force known as the Aurion.
“I think people with good eyes will see a lot of symbols about the African challenge,” says Olivier. “Geopolitics is not about who will rule the world, but about deciding what the goal of the human race will be.”
Kiro’o Games employs 18 people, and is one of several video game studios gaining prominence in Africa.
Aurion is just one example of what experts say is an industry growing at hyperspeed, thanks in large part to sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
“It allows gamers to be invested in the process. Considering that funding for a game is rather difficult to come by, crowdfunding certainly makes sense in this market,” notes Pippa Tshabalala, a South African video game writer and TV presenter.
For Olivier, the release of Aurion is just the beginning of a lifelong ambition to make Kiro’o Games the leader of gaming in Africa.
“We have an advantage with our colonial past, in that we can relate to people from different countries. We need to find a place in the games industry that will make us the center of gaming world trade,” he says.
So what are his ambitions for 2016 and beyond?
“We want to be the biggest publisher and we plan to go into mobile gaming too,” he notes. “We have spent the past ten years running from poverty. So the next ten years? We’ll spend it running towards prosperity.”
France has deployed hundreds of troops in northern Niger to create a buffer against jihadist advances from Libya. Credit: Carlotta Gall/The New York Times
By CARLOTTA GALL JAN. 1, 2016
SAHARA DESERT, Niger — A group of light armored vehicles skated over the moonscape of the Sahara, part of one of the largest detachments the French military has deployed here since colonial times. Its mission is growing ever more urgent: to cut smuggling routes used by jihadists who have turned this inhospitable terrain into a sprawling security challenge for African and international forces alike.
Many of the extremist groups are affiliates of Al Qaeda, which has had roots in North Africa since the 1990s. With the recent introduction of Islamic State franchises, the jihadist push has been marked by increasing, sometimes heated, competition.
But, analysts and military officials say, there is also deepening collaboration among groups using modern communications and a sophisticated system of roving trainers to share military tactics, media strategies and ways of transferring money.
Their threat has grown as Libya — with its ungoverned spaces, oil, ports, and proximity to Europe and the Middle East — becomes a budding hub of operations for both Al Qaeda and the Islamic State to reach deeper into Africa.
And as Africa’s jihadists come under the wing of distant and more powerful patrons, officials fear that they are extending their reach and stitching together their ambitions, turning once-local actors into pan-national threats.
The Nov. 20 assault on the Radisson Blu hotel that killed at least 19 people in Bamako, Mali’s capital, was just one of the more spectacular recent examples of the ability of these groups to sow deadly mayhem. Across the region, hundreds of people have been killed in terrorist attacks in the past year.
Gen. David M. Rodriguez, who heads the United States Africa Command, warned in a congressional statement in March of an “increasingly cohesive network of Al Qaeda affiliates and adherents” that “continues to exploit Africa’s undergoverned regions and porous borders to train and conduct attacks.”
“Terrorists with allegiances to multiple groups are expanding their collaboration in recruitment, financing, training and operations, both within Africa and transregionally,” General Rodriguez warned months before the Mali attack.
Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Islamic State and their respective affiliates, along with other jihadist groups, were active across large parts of North Africa in 2015. The map shows incidents of political violence, which include battles for territory, attacks on civilians and riots or protests.
The transfer of expertise can be witnessed in the spread of suicide bombings in Libya, Tunisia and Chad and in the growing use of improvised explosive devices in Mali, analysts and officials pointed out.
Such exchanges have been enhanced as groups shift shape, sometimes merge, and come under the wing of more powerful and distant patrons.
In one instance, two of the longest-standing North African groups, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al Mourabitoun, after a long publicized split, announced that they had reunited and that the Bamako hotel attack was their first joint venture.
The leaders of the two groups — Abdelmalek Droukdel and Mokhtar Belmokhtar, both Algerians — have loyalties that reach far beyond Africa, however.
As does Seifallah Ben Hassine, leader of Ansar al-Shariah in Tunisia, the organization believed to be behind three deadly attacks in Tunisia last year, including a massacre of 38 people at a beach resort in June and an attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis in March that left 22 dead.
All three men are veterans of fighting in Afghanistan in the 1980s, swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden and now profess loyalty to Al Qaeda’s current leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, based in Pakistan.
Mr. Droukdel, routed by French forces in Mali in 2013, is reportedly holed up in the mountains in southern Algeria. Mr. Belmokhtar and Mr. Ben Hassine have made rear bases in Libya, where they have been targeted by American airstrikes.
Today, despite French and American efforts to disrupt their networks, they still stretch across the continent.
To keep the pressure on the jihadists and help resist the threat, France has installed 3,500 troops across 10 bases and outposts in five vulnerable countries — Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad. The recent French patrol, tiny dots in the Sahara’s expanse of dunes and blackened rock, included 30-ton supply trucks carrying food and fuel, armored vehicles mounted with 80-millimeter cannons and a medical truck.
Similarly, American Special Operations Forces are working in Niger, and last year President Obama ordered 300 United States troops to Cameroon to help defend against the Nigerian Islamist movement Boko Haram, which has spread across borders.
French troops have led repeated operations to break communication and supply lines from Libya that have fortified such groups. The November operation was part of coordinated maneuvers in eastern Mali and northern Niger to try to disrupt jihadist links between the two nations.
The smuggling route patrolled by the French is one of the main arteries for jihadists, arms and drugs. French troops call it the “autoroute” to southern Libya, which they describe as a “big supermarket” for weapons.
The route crosses one of the most remote places on earth. Devoid of human habitation or water for hundreds of miles, it is a treacherous terrain of unbearable heat in the summer and nearly impossible navigation. Yet small convoys of smugglers attempt the crossing several times a week.
For the French, it is like looking for a tiny craft in an ocean, said Lt. Col. Étienne du Peyroux, the commanding officer leading the Niger operation.
“It is like a naval battle,” he said, sketching out the hunt on maps on the hood of his desert jeep. “The zone of operations is 40,000 square kilometers, an area the size of Holland, for 300 men.”
“We try to find them, to block, to constrain, to work out how they will be channeled by a particular piece of terrain,” he said.
The French rarely catch anyone — the last capture was of a drug haul in June. But, they say, their operations are at least disrupting the jihadists’ movements, evidenced by a drop in traffic and tracks in the sand showing smugglers’ vehicles having turned back.
“We want them to abandon the fight, until they cannot do it anymore or until the effort is too great,” the colonel said.
That, however, seems unlikely. “Weak government and chaos are always conducive to terrorism,” said Hans-Jakob Schindler, coordinator of a United Nations Security Council committee that monitors the Qaeda sanctions list. “These groups do take advantage of that.”
The development of jihadist training camps in Libya over the past four years represents a regional and international threat, with particular significance for Africa, he warned in a recent report.
Especially worrying, he said, was “the growing numbers of foreign terrorist fighters and the presence of a globalized group of terrorists from different Al Qaeda backgrounds.”
North Africa and the Sahel — a vast area the breadth of the United States — with its difficult geography, impoverished populations and weak states, is acutely vulnerable, military and civilian analysts said.
Poverty, corruption, poor government and unfair elections are all making populations susceptible to Islamist propaganda, said Adam Thiam, a columnist for the Malian daily newspaper Le Républicain.
“Elections are corrupt; services are corrupt,” he said, and young people have lost confidence in government, “so they will go and listen to the religious leaders rather than the political leaders.”
Others blame foreign interventions in Libya and Mali, and repressive counterrevolutions like Egypt’s, for fueling support for the jihadists.
Certainly, despite the interventions and improved security efforts, new groups and recruits continue to appear. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its affiliates remain active in Mali, and they have sponsored a new group, the Massina Liberation Front, which has emerged in the past few months.
“They do not need much; they just need to be determined,” said Col. Louis Pena, a commander of French troops in N’Djamena, Chad.
The deepening reach of Al Qaeda and the arrival of the Islamic State are raising fresh alarm.
While the two groups are rivals, that competition can pose a significant challenge from a broader security standpoint — as extremists seek to prove their potency and relevance, inspire and attract recruits, and play on a bigger stage.
The effect can be witnessed prominently in Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency in Nigeria, which has killed 17,000 people and displaced more than a million.
Boko Haram has been around for two decades. But money and training from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb gave its leader, Abubakar Shekau, a substantial boost when he assumed control in 2010.
Last year, Boko Haram switched allegiance to the Islamic State, which claimed its West Africa division had killed more than 1,000 people since November, according to the Site Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist websites.
Despite setbacks in Nigeria, Boko Haram has become a regional scourge by exploiting contacts in the wider jihadist network, and it has now spilled into Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
At Madama, an oasis about 50 miles south of Libya, a mud-brick fort built by the French in 1931 guards Niger’s northern desert approaches.
In the past two years, the French have built a sprawling base dwarfing the old fort still manned by Nigerian troops, and posted 300 French troops to create a buffer against jihadist advances from Libya.
Nigerian soldiers accompany the French on their missions, hurtling in battered pickups across the desert terrain, much like their jihadist opponents do. Many of the local soldiers have been through six-month training programs run by American forces. Farther east, Chadian troops guard their part of the border.
In this lonely spot, French soldiers watch from their guard post out across the empty sand toward Libya. French commanders agree that the root of the problem is there, and that until it is addressed the entire region is threatened.
“They are still fragile countries,” Colonel Pena said. “They are countries that need stability to grow and develop. That is the real danger.”
Despite contributing only a fraction of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, Africa is being hit hardest by the effects of climate change. Now armed with a common approach, African leaders are pushing for a more equitable and prosperous deal in Paris.
Photo Credit: Global Risk Insights
As the UN Climate Summit in Paris enters its final week and negotiations are ramped up, leaders from developing nations will continue to push for a more equitable deal. Already officials at the conference have cleared a major hurdle, producing a draft accord on Saturday 5 December. That leaves a week for ministers to clinch a historic agreement, with many optimistic that the Paris Summit can erase the disappointment of past talks, including Copenhagen in 2009, which ended in failure and frustration.
Yet even with a blueprint being reached, major sticking points, not least between developed and developing states, must be overcome if a positive and more equitable outcome is to be reached. That will not be easy.
Africa, small island developing nations (SIDS), and other least developed countries (LDC’s), have all argued that their contribution to climate change has been minimal. Unsurprisingly, they demand favourable concessions when it comes to the prickly issues of climate finance, new targets for countries based on carbon dioxide stock taking, and the overall responsibilities of developed versus developing countries. These issues are referred to in the draft agreement but remain unresolved.
For its part, Africa has laid out a number of proposals that will be keenly debated this week. Now armed with a common position and an expert team of around 200 climate negotiators, both of which were sorely missing in past multilateral talks, including in Montreal in 2005, Africa has submitted three main requests.
First, it asks for $11bn a year from the international community to help it adapt to climate change in the future; having contributed little to the problem, its leaders are loath to pick up the bill.
Second, as it aims to bring electricity to 600 million people across the continent, it is seeking an additional $55bn a year in investments until 2030 in order to help it transform its energy sector, much of which will be powered by renewables.
Finally, it urges countries to reconsider the demands they make of one another; limiting the global temperature rise to 2C by the end of the century may appear more achievable, but African leaders argue a revised target of 1.5 degrees is needed in order to avert climate disaster.
These are tall orders, to be sure. But those in Africa point to the fact that they have too often drawn the short straw when it comes to climate change.
Despite accounting for roughly 15% of the world’s population, the continent contributes less than 2.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions, says James Wan at the Royal African Society. And more often than not, it is Africa that bears the brunt of global warming, with flash flooding and crippling droughts occurring with unfailing frequency.
Until now, the West appeared relatively unmoved by Africa’s desperate plight and moral posturing. But recent forecasts by the World Health Organization paint a devastating picture, not just for Africa.
With a likely drop in country GDP’s across Africa, widespread crop eradication amid falling rainfall, the prospect of millions being pushed back into poverty, deepening security concerns in the region, and the possible spread of disease and climate refugees, African leaders are right that the West can ill-afford to view climate change as a problem of the Global South. Whether they like it or not, the fates of Africa and the rest of the world are indelibly linked.
Beyond such gloom, however, African officials are quick to point out the potential benefits of implementing greener alternatives now. Not only have the majority of African states committed to bigger cuts than other higher-emitting nations, but they have also proposed the prospect of a nascent energy revolution – one that would benefit both Africa and the rest of the world.
As well as possessing much of the world’s most prized natural resources, Africa is home to some of the world’s most promising renewable energy reserves. ‘The potential,’ writes Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank, ‘is breathtaking.’ He says the continent can source an additional 10 terawatts of solar energy, 1,3000 gigawatts of wind power, and 15GW of geothermal power. Taken together, that ‘would not just solve Africa’s own energy problems but also those of other countries near and far.’ Energy investment and further cooperation between Africa and the West will be pivotal in turning such dreams into reality.
But add to that the fact that the forests in central Africa, which account for roughly a fifth of the world’s stock, act as one of the greatest carbon sinks in the world, and it is easy to see that Africa, more than ever, can play a crucial role in helping the world reduce its greenhouse emissions.
What does this mean for the Paris Climate Summit and Africa? Despite these lofty ideals and more consensus and cooperation than ever before, a binding resolution calling for a rise of 2C or less seems doubtful.
The past few years have seen countries favour Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), voluntary pledges. These bottom-up pledges will remain the dominant commitment by states this time around, too, not least because of the freedom they confer to those who invoke them.
Without the burden of legal obligations, states can implement initiatives and targets that suit their needs best; the downside, of course, is that there is no one at the end of the line to ensure that they make good on such promises. That means Africa’s pleas to keep any temperature rise below 1.5C will not be heeded.
Climate funding, meanwhile, will remain a thorny issue and it is doubtful Africa will receive the full $11bn per year it wants. A fairer deal for Africa thus seems somewhat out of reach, at least this time around.
Still, some positive signs are emerging: last week, France committed over 2bn euros to renewable energy projects across its former colonies over the next five years. Other projects will no doubt follow, even if they do not meet Africa’s starry-eyed expectations. That is no reason to celebrate, of course.
But for Africa – and all those at Paris – these gradual steps must feel somewhat encouraging after the bitter disappointment of Copenhagen five years ago.
This article was published on Global Risk Insights.