The European Business Council for Africa

Ghana to set up Diasporan Savings and Investment Account – Minister

Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance, has announced plans to establish a Diasporan Savings and Investment Account to attract people of African-American descent to invest in the various sectors of the country.

Dubbed the African Sankofa Account, the plan, which is to be rolled out in the next three months, will explore ways to target African retail other than institutional investors in the Caribbean and the Americas.

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Towards a single currency: from CFA franc to the Eco

One important step forwards towards a single currency was made on 21 December 2019 when Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara – who is also the current president of the UEMOA – and French President Emmanuel Macron announced plans to reform the CFA franc, the common currency of the eight UEMOA member countries. Some 134 million people in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo use the CFA franc. Under the reform plan: the CFA franc will be renamed the “Eco”; France will withdraw from all governance bodies; and the Bank of France will no longer hold half of the foreign reserves. However, the Eco will continue to be pegged to the Euro and France will retain, for the time being, its role as its financial guarantor

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Two conflict trends as seen by Crisis Group analysts  

➤ Chad: A Boko Haram attack on a Lake Chad fishing village in the country’s western region killed over a dozen people on Tuesday. Crisis Group expert Thibaud Lesueur says that the region has long been susceptible to such attacks due to its close proximity to Boko Haram heartlands in north east Nigeria. Despite some operational successes, the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in the Lake Chad Basin created in 2015 has had only a marginal impact on the regional threat posed by Boko Haram. As the resilient jihadist insurgency shows no sign of abating, regional cooperation on civilian and military fronts is more vital than ever.

➤ India: At least five people were killed in nationwide protests against a controversial law that offers citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Crisis Group expert Pierre Prakash says although the law does not affect Indian Muslims directly, it is widely perceived as being contrary to India’s secular Constitution, and many Muslims fear its combination with the planned National Register of Citizens could result in making them stateless. The unexpected level of – sometimes violent – protests also points to growing discontent among the youth over the government's deeply divisive Hindu nationalist agenda. 
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The Weeks of 20 December 2019 – 3 January 2020

A Sustainable Policy for Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is hosting nearly a million Rohingya refugees who have little hope of going home any time soon. The government should move to improve camp living conditions, in particular by lifting the education ban and fighting crime. Donors should support such steps. 

Avoiding the Resurgence of Intercommunal Violence in Eastern Chad

Intercommunal violence, particularly between Arabs and non-Arabs, has ravaged eastern Chad throughout 2019 and could further threaten the country’s stability. The government should initiate a debate on managing pastoralism and support an inclusive conference on the East.

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Rescuing Iraq from the Iran-U.S. Crossfire

Ominous developments – attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq, U.S. retaliation and turmoil at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad – could drag Iraq deeper into the U.S.-Iranian confrontation and spark direct clashes between Washington and Tehran. Urgent steps are needed to break this predictable but perilous cycle.



10 Conflicts to Watch in 2020

Friends and foes alike no longer know where the U.S. stands. As Washington overpromises and underdelivers, regional powers are seeking solutions on their own – both through violence and diplomacy.

Counting Down to North Korea’s Year-end Deadline

North Korea is testing the U.S., issuing threats and launching short-range missile tests while talks over its nuclear program have stalled. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Duyeon Kim explains what could be motivating Pyongyang’s escalation and what to expect in 2020. 

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The Risk of Jihadist Contagion in West Africa

What’s new? Islamist militants’ lengthening reach in the Sahel, particularly in Burkina Faso, is a growing concern for coastal West African states. These states’ leaders fear that militants could use Burkina as a launching pad for operations further south.

Why does it matter? Militant attacks could threaten coastal states’ stability. Some of these states have weak spots similar to those that jihadists have exploited in the Sahel, notably neglected peripheries that resent central authority. Several will hold what promise to be contentious elections in 2020, distracting leaders from tackling the threat.

What should be done? The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is lobbying for joint military operations involving regional states. But intelligence sharing, border controls and efforts to win over local populations would be cheaper and more effective. ECOWAS should redouble efforts to avert electoral crises that militants could use to their advantage.

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Elements of change: Climate and conflict in Africa

Climate change is a global phenomenon that affects all life on earth. For the first time ever, the entire planet is undergoing a singular climatic transformation. Globally, land has already warmed 1.5°C and, owing to past greenhouse gas emissions and inertia in the climate system, the earth and its atmosphere will continue to warm until around mid-century, even if all emissions stopped today. Unprecedented heatwaves, food shortages and extreme storms will likely hit us before 2030 and intensify with further warming.

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Securitisation without representation: Yet another reason why Africa needs a permanent seat on the UN Security Council

Climate change is increasingly acknowledged as a global security issue, and the UN Security Council’s mandate over it is growing. Yet, Africa still lacks equal standing with other regions and the permanent members of the Security Council. Without permanent representation of Africa on the Security Council, the continent is rendered a subject, not an agent, of global climate governance.

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Mission possible? The Geopolitical Commission and the partnership with Africa

The new European Commission takes office against a backdrop of global challenges emanating from near and far, including climate change, trade wars and cyber threats. With this in mind, Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen, in her opening statement and mission letters, communicated a vision of a commission that is “more strategic, more assertive and more united” in its approach to foreign policy. Characterising her incoming team as a “Geopolitical Commission”, she emphasised the need for the EU to protect and update multilateralism, to develop greater strategic autonomy and to better link internal and external policy.

This brief explores the opportunity that this geopolitical framing offers for a more strategic EU-Africa relationship – and a real partnership of equals and mutual interest. At the same time, it points to the dangers of empty rhetoric for the EU’s credibility as a foreign policy actor. In renaming the European Commission’s development portfolio “international partnerships” and outlining plans for a new comprehensive strategy for Africa, von der Leyen seeks to signal a more political approach. Yet, the EU will need to show that this time it has the will and ability to move from words to meaningful action.

First and foremost, if partnership is the aim, the Commission needs to address the question of whether this is a strategy “for” Africa or rather “with” Africa. Further, unless the Commission and member states allow the European External Action Service (EEAS) to play a more significant role in coordinating Africa policy, the political and strategic elements of the EU-Africa relationship are unlikely to be sufficiently prioritised. Parallel and competing EU structures for working with Africa risk undermining a strategic continent to continent approach and creating breaks on African integration. Any comprehensive strategy will have to honestly acknowledge and address the fundamental contradictions inherent in these multiple EU structures.

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A New Approach for the UN to Stabilise the DR Congo

What’s new? The Security Council is seeking new ways to stabilise the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with an eye to drawing down the long-running UN peace operation there. In parallel, Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi wants to strike a new security agreement with neighbouring countries to suppress armed groups in the country’s east.

Why does it matter? The persistence of over 100 armed groups in the eastern DRC is a threat to both Congolese civilians and regional stability. The country’s neighbours have also often used these militias as proxies to attack one another and control economic resources.

What should be done? The Security Council should strengthen the UN mission’s capacity to analyse the armed groups’ political links and resolve local grievances these groups can exploit. The UN should support President Tshisekedi’s regional diplomacy, with an emphasis on political reconciliation and economic integration among the DRC’s neighbours as steps to increase security.

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Kenya and Somalia Quarrel Over Offshore Oil

Kenya and Somalia are currently fighting a legal battle over their shared maritime border, an area rich in oil and gas. 

Somalia’s President Mohammed Abdullahi "Farmajo" is playing hardball. With national elections approaching, he has taken a more assertive stance to demonstrate the country’s strength and appeal to his support base. Kenya views itself as a powerful country in a turbulent region and doesn’t wish to be seen caving into pressure from Somalia.

Rashid Abdi, Consultant and former Horn of Africa Director at Crisis Group, joins Alan this week to shed light on the deeply complex issue. They seek insights about why the dispute flared up, Ethiopia’s changing role under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and how mediation efforts have achieved some positive, modest success in de-escalating tensions. 

Listen to the podcast here