This Week in the News (October 06, 2016)

Doubts cast on the CFA currency

This week has started with yet another high profile politician casting doubts on the artificial stability of the west african currency franc CFA. Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the UNECA, now demissionary – to keep his liberty of speech on the continent – has told Le Monde that something is not right with a currency that hasn’t changed in the last 30 years. Created in 1945, the currency’s rate has been fixed to the French franc in 1994 and later transitioned to the Euro, and in the last few years has been questioned on several occasionsSome media foretell its near death.

The Oromia region in Ethiopia is once again in the news

More than 50 people have been killed last Saturday in a stampede in Ethiopia during the Irreecha festival – an important celebration in Oromia region – when police fired teargas into the air provoking chaos. The tense situation in this part of Ethiopia has made the news only recently during the last Olympic games, in Rio de Janeiro, when Feyisa Lilesa crossed the finishing line in the men’s marathon and made an arm gesture of support to the Oromo tribe.

In dispute, the Oromia farmlands that are expected to be allocated to development of the capital Adis Ababba. Thursday, new outbursts of violence have followed after the government announced that it will uphold the rule of law and peace.

Palm Oil and the African Landgrab conundrum

This week, a formal complaint has been deposed in Cameroon by 244 farmers against SG-SOC for violation of rights of property. SG-SOC is accused of not respecting the 5 Km buffer zone from farmers’ lands. This palm oil producing company, has been operating in Cameroon since 2013, when Paul Biya signed the decrees to a concession of 19,843 hectares.

The American company has sparked unrest from the start, and has sparked fears that the decree might just be a proxy to other profitable business like primary forest logging. SG-SOC is the Cameroonian branch of the American Herakles Farms – targeted by serious accusations earlier this month in a report.

Palm Oil exploitation is responsible for the deforestation of many important areas in Africa, and speculation on its dangerous pressures on ecosystems has started to appear these last years. This business, led by global actors operating both in Asia and Africa, is also known for its very unreccomendable practices.

Bubo na Tchuto condemned in the United States

Wednesday, several media have signaled the condemnation of Bubo na Tchuto in the United States. The news has been widely shared across the media, sparking interest from Cape Verde, to AngolaSenegal, and Portugal – where even sports newspapers have signaled the condemnation.

Bubo Na Tchuto’s high profile – he is an ex-Admiral and the ex-Navy chief of Guinea Bissau – and the theatrics of his arrest in 2013, when a covert operation of the American D.E.A. led him to his fate, have granted visibility to this case. Na Tchuto has plead guilty of the charges and was formally condemned by a New York State court to 4 years in prison, thus escaping a longer jail sentence.

Is Casamance safe now? Or is Françafrique alive and kicking?

Casamance is no longer a “red zone” in France’s Foreign Ministry Office chart. The advice against tourism in this area in Senegal is 25 years old and its lift is taken with a certain irony by Seneweb, for whom the territory has been cleared of its mines.

The “green light” to tourism in Casamance follows Manuel Valls’ visit to Dakar to discuss cooperation and french interests in the country. Earlier this week, Rama Yade – a Frenchman of Senegalese origin, former State Secretary in Sarkozy’s government and candidate in the next French presidential elections – has also pledged, in a visit to Dakar, for more french investment in Africa.

After Sarkozy’s 2007 speech in Dakar, where he stated that “Africa has not fully entered in history”, and another speech by François Hollande, in 2012, saying Françafrique is over, French politicians keep on choosing Dakar as plateau for internal politics, offering a seemingly promising future.

Photo by Javier Micora / CC BY 2.0

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Ricardo Falcão

Researcher at CEI-IUL. Anthropologist and PhD in African Studies, I have chosen as my field the country Senegal. My PhD thesis is on the appropriation of information and communication technology in Senegal. Research interests: Senegalese youth, bodily practices, sexuality, tradition/modernity, social hierarchies, postcolonial studies, Sufi Islam/pagan cults, land property, and patron/client relations.

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