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Politics Rahi welcomes Central African official.

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Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Beshara Boutros Rahi welcomed, at Bkerki on Friday, Central African MP Guy Roger Moskit, accompanied by Central Africa’s Consul in Lebanon Camille Fenianos. Talks reportedly touched on an array of affairs of common interest between the two countries. “The meeting was very rich. We discussed the situation in Central Africa Republic, which is very similar to that in Lebanon. Our country suffered a lot from the civil war, which they called sectarian; but it was political just like Lebanon war. But today we are living in peace and stability,” the visiting official told reporters following the meeting. “The situation in Syria is concerning the entire world. And we have heard the Patriarch’s view”.

 

The International Monetary Fund: Nigeria to grow by 0.8% in 2017

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The International Monetary Fund forecast 2.6 percent growth in sub-Saharan Africa this year: “Growth is projected to rise to 2.6 percent in 2017 and 3.5 percent in 2018, largely driven by specific factors in the largest economies, which faced challenging macroeconomic conditions in 2016”, the IMF said its latest World Economic Outlook report. Nigeria, the continent’s most populous nation and a leading oil producer, was expected to return to growth in 2017 after a challenging 2016 characterised by recession, a dip in oil prices and energy shortages. “Output in Nigeria is projected to grow by 0.8 percent in 2017 as a result of a recovery in oil production”, said the report, also citing sustained growth in the agricultural sector. Many of non-resource intensive countries will find it increasingly hard to sustain growth through higher public capital spending with a rising public debt, double digit inflation was forecast in several countries, including Nigeria, Angola and Ghana.

IOM: African migrants sold in modern-day slave markets in Libya

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The UN International Organization of Migration (IOM), has revealed that west African illegal migrants are being traded in open slave markets in Libya. Libya is the main way for migrants to reach Europe, since the closure of Turkey-Greek border. For a large part of them, they have no identity document and no money. This situation has created the emergence of human traffic in the country. The captives are made to work with no remuneration and meager meals and the captives’ families are often called and threatened for a ransom of around 300,000 west African francs, or US$472. In some cases, migrants are put in illegal prisons, and/or killed by smugglers

Libya's UN-backed unity government asked for an economical plan an agreement on Libyan's migration

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Interior ministers mainly from the central Mediterranean region met in Rome on Monday to ramp up efforts to curb migration from Libya amid a sharp rise in the number of people trying to cross to Europe. In front of emergency, they had tried to find an agreement on Libyan’s migration, following the model of the very controversial EU-Turkey agreement. Libya’s UN-backed unity government, ask for an economical plan of $860 million to manage the migrant crisis. This concept of stop migrants before they reach international water is controversial, indeed, some case of rape, violences, tortures had been reported from Libya; as denounced by the journal The Guardian last weeks, keeping migrants in Libya could have a more dramatic effect than bring them on European continent.

Tunisia could be a potential educational platform for Africa

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Tunisia has great potential to be an educational platform for Africa, but the public and private sectors must work hand in hand, in full complementarity and harmony to develop this sector which in turn will develop the country and help the African continent to improve the skill of its human resources. This is what emerged from the thematic session on “Education, the knowledge economy “, held on Tuesday, as part of the International Investment Conference “Tunisia 2020”. Panelist Hichem Omezzine, investment director at Actis, leading investor in growth markets across Africa, Asia and Latin America, said several issues in the field of education are common to emerging countries, including Tunisia, such as the inadequacy between training and employment requirements. “Professionals in the Tunisian educational sector must make efforts to create this complementary dynamic and to solve this problem of inadequacy,” he suggested. However, Omezzine noted that Tunisia is one of the most advanced countries in Africa, where the enrollment rate in higher education is above 30%, while the average in Africa is around 10%, which proves that Tunisia is well ahead of the rest of the African countries. In this context, he considered that Tunisia should open up more internationally, through the launch of co-operation projects in the field of education, notably with Europe, but also China, The United States and Africa.

Nigeria, famine risk

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The presidency has warned that Nigeria, Africa’s largest producer of cereals and grains, risks famine from early next year following a huge demand in the global market targeting the country’s surplus production. The huge demand for Nigerian grains in the global market is creating an excellent environment for the mindless export of Nigerian food across the borders and unless this is curtailed, Nigerian markets will be bereft of grains by January next year. The Ministry of Agriculture advised the president to call the attention of all Nigerians to the issue which, if not addressed promptly, could lead to a shortage of grains in the country.

Unfreeizing Libyan funds abroad would help Lybian people during the crisis

Libya’s six neighbouring states have requested for Libyan funds frozen in banks outside the country to be released so that they can be used to help the Libyan people during the current economic crisis. Ministers from Libya’s six neighbours gathered yesterday in Niger’s capital Niamey for their latest round of discussions on the country.

Also attending were UN special envoy Martin Kobler and Presidency Council member Musa Koni. Rejecting foreign interference in Libya, in its final statement, also the neighbours’ firm support for the Presidency Council under Faiez Serraj and for the Libyan Political Agreement as the only solution that would result in genuine national reconciliation. This later, the statement said, would come only through inclusive dialogue.

To help further this, the neighbours called for a grand meeting of all the parties to the various conflicts in Libya, saying that it should be held either in Libya or in one of the neighbouring states. Although Kobler had warned ministers at the meeting that Libya was at a critical stage, Koni said that the Presidency Council was developing three fundamental blocks to stabilise the country: national reconciliation, security and  economy.

Libya talks on potential Algerian help at the 5+5 defence meeting in Algiers

The eighth defence meeting of the 5+5 group of western Mediterranean countries took place in Algiers, attended by chiefs of staff or military representatives from the ten countries. The main discussions were on the fight against terrorism, organised crime, and the flow of migrants through North Africa to Europe. On the sidelines of the meeting, the Libyan representative, Major-General Mohamed Al-Ajtal, talked Algeria’s Chief of Staff and Deputy Defence Minister Lieutenant-General Ahmed Gaid Salah on potential Algerian help in restoring security and stability in Libya and improving border security between the two countries.

China: yes to naval base in the Horn of Africa

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Not only civil infrastructure for China in Africa. As reported on February 25 by Reuter, the Asian giant has begun the construction of a naval base on the coast of Djibouti whose function, officially, it will be to support humanitarian, peacekeeping and escort missions in the area of Eastern Africa. China would become the third country, with France and the United States, to have a naval military base in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, in a strategic position from a military point of view and from that of the control of commercial routes. Apart from the gear there, is the overall mechanism that matters. China wants to gradually expand its sphere of influence on the international stage, by setting up a network of civilian and military infrastructure that could support operations on a plan that would soon be called global.

The new base, which should be born in Obock, on the northern coast of Djibouti, will be at a distance of 7700 km from Beijing and will be the first naval installation outside the national borders. The initiative demonstrates how China is gradually wearing the shoes of the great power as its strategic vision is evolving toward a future in which it will exercise its global leadership.

China for many years has been maintaining an international presence in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden and is part of the UN mission against piracy, launched in 2008. Since then, the Chinese warships docked in the ports of Djibouti over 50 times and the new installation would respond, in the first instance, the objective of ensuring a more organized berth and supply point. But China’s interests go far beyond the anti-piracy operations. Today, the new base could serve as the main joint in the chain of logistical support for peacekeeping operations under the UN flag in Africa. Tomorrow, it could become a bridgehead for any Chinese intervention in the continent, in defense of its national strategic interests. Meanwhile, it will strengthen the Chinese influence on the Indian Ocean, allowing Beijing to organize missions of maritime patrol aircraft directly from the African coast.

Over the past few years, China’s activism abroad mainly concerned the creation of civil and commercial infrastructures, on the basis of bilateral cooperation and development agreements. The military component has always existed, but has long remained concealed. Today this approach is changing and Beijing is increasingly determined to publicize the deployment of its fleet beyond the domestic sea, proving less reticence to openly take on an international role, even militarily.

The naval base in Djibouti will not be a simple supply landing, but will offer Chinese navy extensive logistical capabilities. With it, it will increase the Chinese presence on the ground, it will be possible to operate, presumably, a complete maintenance of ships, will be increased the ability to transport and storage ammunition and spare parts, will be built facilities for the crews and infrastructure for the aeronautics.

The Chinese expansion in the Indian Ocean does not depend, of course, only on the future of Djibouti. Chinese ships arrive regularly in many ports scattered between Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Oman, Yemen and Seychelles and, for the foreseeable future, Beijing is considering whether to make new agreements with Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia to further strengthen and differentiate its logistic options. To create integrated logistics hub for the Navy, in these countries, won’t be easy, however, for reasons which are, from time to time, political, of security or related to excessive competition.

Beyond the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean, the Beijing’s navy has extended the range of its raids in the last years, visiting the United States and several European countries, Africa and Latin America. The Chinese ships have passed through the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal and have doubled Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, then to go into the Black Sea, the North Sea and the Bering. While the naval mission reached the limits of the navigable waters of the globe, it increases the need for more reliable landings for refueling and logistics. A requirement to become increasingly important in the coming years.

For now, the Chinese navy continues to rely heavily on support ships, to operate supplies on the high seas when needed or to replenish stocks of weapons and other materials. In this field, Chinese investments have increased massively, and  this year the navy has launched two new vessels Type 903A, for refueling at sea. It was also launched the construction of the new Type 901 in Guangzhou shipyards. The ship, once completed, will be capable of transporting 45,000 tons, a value never achieved before.

Compared to the United States, China is still in its first steps towards the realization of a global logistics network for its navy. American supremacy is not only based on the number of ships, but also about the wide availability of friendly ports in which to dock for refueling and maintenance works. China, to continue to grow on the seas and cement his new status as a global power, will have to concentrate its efforts in the strengthening of supply capacity at sea and in the progressive realization of a network of safe moorings.

The sea, for Beijing, is still too large.

 

Luca Marchesini

 

Luca Marchesini
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