Africa at a glance

Friday November 15 2019

A Sudanese vendor waits for customers outside a grocery store in Khartoum. Arab fund has offered $305 million loan to stabilise Sudan economy. PHOTO | ASHRAF SHAZLY | AFP


WTO members seek post-Brexit market access safeguards

World Trade Organization members on Thursday demanded compromises from the EU and Britain to ensure foreign businesses do not lose market access in post-Brexit trade.

At a meeting of the WTO's Goods Council, fifteen countries including the US, India, Australia and Canada raised concern over Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs) that will be in place after Brexit.

Under WTO rules, nations use TRQs to set a threshold at which foreign goods can be imported at reduced tariff rates, an action which could see outside producers lose access to both British and EU markets.

Nigeria, Niger and Benin agree to tackle smuggling, open borders

Nigeria, Niger and Benin on Thursday agreed to set up a monitoring and patrol bodies to tackle smuggling, after months of border closure and dispute between the West African countries.


In a meeting of the joint anti-smuggling committee and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the Nigerian capital Abuja agreed to "enhance the suppression of smuggled goods".

A joint border patrol team comprising naval, customs, immigration and security officials from the three countries would meet later in the month to decide when the borders would be opened.

Arab fund offers $305 mln loan to stabilise Sudan economy

Sudan said Thursday it would receive a $305 million loan from an Arab fund to help tackle the country's worsening economic crisis led by soaring food prices and foreign currency shortage.

Sudanese Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Badawi said after a meeting with the Arab Monetary Fund that the support would be in various forms including loans and a $70 million trade facility.

The loan to be disbursed in tranches until 2020 is a shot in the arm for Sudan after Badawi said last month the government needed $3 billion to cover immediate needs and stabilise its budget.

UAE, Egypt launch giant $20 bn investment programme

The UAE and Egypt launched a giant $20 billion joint investment programme Thursday to develop "economic and social projects"as Cairo seeksto boost its sagging economy.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said while receiving Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the Emirati capital that the two countries would enhance relations and co-ordination.

He singled out security, progress and stability of Egypt amid increased regional tensions following a string of attacks on oil tankers and ships in the Gulf that the United States and its Gulf allies have blamed on Iran.

Algeria adopts controversial energy law

Algeria's parliament has adopted a controversial law aimed at boosting investment in the oil and gas sector despite protests over it by activists ahead of a presidential election in December.

Parliament also adopted on Thursday a law allowing Algeria to borrow abroad for the first time in decades as well as lifting the 49 percent cap for foreign ownership of firms in "non-strategic sectors."

The 2020 Finance Law is aimed at helping Algeria deal with a budget deficit of $12.7 billion caused by falling prices of oil, which contributes 60 per cent of the state budget.

Unlike many African countries which are struggling with debt, Algeria's debt to GDP ratio is now at about two per cent against a 50 per cent ratio which multilateral institutions consider prudent.

Amazon alleges bias in US intelligence deal award to Microsoft

Amazon is challenging the awarding of a $10 billion Pentagon cloud computing contract to Microsoft, alleging "unmistakable bias" in the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) tendering.

Under the 10-year contract all military branches will ultimately be sharing information in a system boosted by artificial intelligence

Amazon Web Services alleged "clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias" in evaluation, suggesting political influence by President Donald Trump.

Trump has repeatedly lashed out at Amazon and company founder Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post.

Morocco rapper faces jail for insulting police

A Moroccan rapper Mohamed Mounir, 31, who co-authored a song that has been viewed more than 13 milllion times on You Tube criticising the kingdom faces two years in prison.

Widely known as Gnawi, Mounir was charged in Sale near Rabat over the publication of a video in which he insulted police but his lawyers say the conflict is over the song he co-wrote with two friends.

The song "Aach al chaab" - which means long live the people - released last month denounces injustice, money-grabbing and crucially attacks Morocco's king directly.

8. EU bank to stop funding fossil fuels in 'landmark decision'

The European Union's investment arm says it will stop funding fossil fuel projects from 2022 as part of its contribution to fighting climate change.

EIB, the world's largest multilateral lender, had been criticised by climate groups for funding gas projects that potentially threatened the EU's commitment to the Paris climate goals.

The EIB board approved the new energy policy that will further "unlock" $1.1 trillion) for climate action and environmentally sustainable investment over the next decade.

The decision complicates financing extraction of new gas finds such as those in Tanzania and Mozambique and comes days after the African Development Bank pulled out of a coal power plant in Kenya over environmental fears.

US cows swim 10 kilometres to safety in rare hurricane feat

Three cows swept into the ocean when Hurricane Dorian struck the US east coast in September were found living on a string of sandy islands miles away from their home, US media reported Thursday.

US media said the bovines are believed to have swum four to five miles (six to 10 kilometers) before placing hoof on land; an island of sand dunes and scattered vegetation that is part of North Carolina's Outer Banks.

The animals were discovered by park rangers at the Cape Lookout National Seashore, three months since they went missing from a free-range herd living on private land on Cedar Island during the storm.