Guinea’s government may at last be dealing sensibly with its mineral riches
BURIED beneath the mist-capped mountains of south-eastern Guinea is one of the world’s biggest deposits of iron ore. Estimated at around 2.2 billion tonnes, the Simandou concession contains almost as much as the entire global iron-ore industry produced in 2013. Thanks to its size and unusually high quality, some experts say that whoever controls Simandou may dominate the world’s iron-ore sector for a generation. Read the rest of this entry »
The humiliation of Mali’s army and government is a rude reminder that the wider region is still a hive of instability
SEVEN weeks ago Moussa Mara was the rising star of Malian politics. Picked by Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the country’s president, to be prime minister at the age of 39, he had a reputation as a shrewd and capable administrator. An eventual rise to the top seemed possible. When he defied warnings on May 17th and visited Kidal, a hotbed of ethnic Tuareg separatism in the far north-east of the country, he was met by rebel gunfire. This made him a hero to the crowds in the capital, Bamako, for standing up to secessionists seeking to destroy the country’s unity (see map). Read the rest of this entry »
Why so many Africans still risk their lives to reach Europe
“GET free or die trying,” runs a graffito in English on the wall of a migrants’ detention centre on the outskirts of Tripoli, Libya’s capital. The author was one of the countless migrants to pass through the fetid, overcrowded facility, his fate unknown.
Some of the people herded into more than 20 such centres across Libya were intercepted by Libyan naval vessels as they attempted the perilous journey across the Mediterranean. Others were arrested before reaching the sea by Libyan militias that have held sway since the revolution that toppled Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. Read the rest of this entry »
A new report looks into the ever more busy migration routes from Africa to Europe
FOLLOWING the recent sweep of revolutions in North Africa, the corpses of migrants have washed up with increasing regularity on the region’s shores. This month alone 58 perished, with another 54 missing, following shipwrecks off the coasts of Libya and Greece. Weakened states are less able to police borders, allowing thousands to reach the European mainland. In April, Italian vessels rescued over 4,000 migrants in two days, prompting beleaguered authorities to declare a humanitarian emergency. By some estimates, more than 600,000 people from Africa and the Middle East are currently waiting on north Africa’s shores to embark for a better life.
A ceasefire gives hope to a violent and neglected part of the country
ITS travel-brochure beaches, endless tracts of mangrove and lagoon, and a sedentary pace of life once made Casamance an understated tourist destination. Then rebellion and banditry turned this slim spit of land, which belongs to Senegal but is sandwiched between Gambia and Guinea Bissau, into yet another west African troublespot. Since 1982 an insurgency has flared with varying intensity, most notably between 1993 and 1998 when fighting left over 1,000 people dead. Instead of securing the region’s independence, violence has left it isolated and underdeveloped. Read the rest of this entry »
The extradition of one of the president’s foes poses awkward questions for him
ON MARCH 22nd Charles Blé Goudé (pictured), an Ivorian widely known as the “street general”, was flown from the Ivory Coast to The Hague, to be charged at the International Criminal Court (ICC), alongside his patron, Laurent Gbagbo, the previous Ivorian president, with four counts of crimes against humanity. Mr Blé Goudé is alleged to have masterminded an ethnic pogrom after Mr Gbagbo’s defeat at the polls in 2010. Mr Blé Goudé had been in prison in the Ivory Coast for 14 months at the behest of its current president, Alassane Ouattara, following a year-and-a-half on the run.
As Mali’s feuding parties dither, the extremists may get stronger again
IN THE lobby of Bamako’s El-Farouq hotel, Ould Mohamed Ousmane Omar, a middle-aged Malian Arab whose life has been one of exile, rebellion and plot, is gossiping about friends and enemies. Take the Tuareg rebels, whose 2012 rebellion precipitated the fall of northern Mali to al-Qaeda-linked extremists. “They’re only in it for their own gain,” he says, adjusting the white veil of his turban to reveal a wisp of goatee. Or Mali’s new government, which, he grimaces, “knows nothing—not the north, not the Tuareg, not the problems. It’s so easy to fool.” As for his own faction, the Arab Movement of Azawad (as some northern Malians call their homeland), Mr Omar can only lament that an international conspiracy to thwart its potency has cracked it down the middle. But then again, he says, few of his erstwhile colleagues were ever more than “second-class” and “drug dealers”. Read the rest of this entry »