The European Business Council for Africa

Averting Proxy Wars in the Eastern DR Congo and Great Lakes

What’s new? Tensions are mounting in Africa’s Great Lakes region among Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda, all of which allegedly back insurgents based in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). At the same time, Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi is considering inviting these countries into the DRC to fight groups they respectively oppose.

Why does it matter? Given their growing animosity, these three countries, if invited into the DRC, could escalate support to allied militias while targeting enemies. The DRC’s neighbours have historically used militias operating there against one another. A new proxy struggle could further destabilise the DRC and even provoke a full-blown regional security crisis.

What should be done? Instead of involving neighbours in military operations, Tshisekedi should redouble his diplomatic efforts to ease regional frictions, building on a recent joint DRC-Angolan initiative and drawing on the UN, U.S., UK and France for support.

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Start-ups Chalk up $428.91 Million Funding (Kenya)

  • Kenya came only second to Nigeria in the amount received during the year, indicating the attractiveness of the country to deal financiers.
  • Companies in fintech and agritech topped in terms of the destinations of the investment, a trend they have maintained for several years.
  • WeeTracker report says that African start-ups got a total of $1.34 billion (equivalent to Sh135.9 billion).

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Moody pessimistic on sub-Saharan Africa

Despite a slight recovery in growth, the Moody's agency considers sub-Saharan Africa to be too indebted to cope with possible external commercial, financial or climatic shocks.

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China’s infrastructure finance model is changing. Here’s how

For several years now, as debt levels in a number of African countries have risen to alarming heights, Chinese and African officials have been looking for new ways to evolve the traditional resource-for-infrastructure (RFI) deals.

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New year, new aspirations for Europe-Africa relations?

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the new European Commission, chose to visit the African Union (AU) headquarters for her first official trip outside of Europe – this has been described as sending a strong political message. She has made it clear that the European Union (EU) wants to establish greater political, economic and investment opportunities between Europe and Africa, and move towards a partnership of equals beyond the donor-recipient relationship.

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Four conflict trends as seen by Crisis Group analysts  

➤ Kenya: An Al-Shabaab attack on the Manda Bay Airfield on Sunday killed one American soldier and two U.S. military contractors. Crisis Group expert Murithi Mutiga says the attack marked the first time that the militant group had targeted a Kenyan military facility housing U.S. forces. Al-Shabaab remains a resilient organisation that has shown a continued capacity to stage assaults in Somalia and neighbouring countries, despite a decade-long effort by African Union troops to combat its insurgency. 

➤ Libya: Presidents Erdoğan and Putin called for a ceasefire in Libya, only days after Ankara deployed Turkish officers and allied Syrian fighters. Crisis Group expert Claudia Gazzini says Turkey’s intervention, aimed at preventing the Tripoli government’s collapse and safeguarding a maritime deal, is not entirely at odds with the sudden call for a ceasefire. Ankara hopes that recalibrating the balance of power on the ground will create more propitious conditions for peace talks, but it is unclear whether the rival Libyan factions that Ankara and Moscow respectively support will actually halt hostilities.

➤ Nigeria: Chad withdrew its 1,200-strong military force from Nigeria’s northern Borno region. The force was deployed in early 2019 to fight the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), a Boko Haram splinter faction. Crisis Group consultant Vincent Foucher says Chad’s withdrawal may be motivated by the need to address mounting jihadist attacks on its own territory. In Nigeria, there is a risk that ISWAP could quickly capitalise on the departure. The group launched an unsuccessful attack soon after the withdrawal on the former Chadian base in Monguno, one of the largest cities in the state

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Rwanda to set up green bank to finance climate investments

Government is set to facilitate the creation of a financial institution in Rwanda that will be solely dedicated to funding projects that promote climate change resilience.

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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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