Africa Summit in Paris
A summit to support African economies in the Covid-19 pandemic took place in Paris on Tuesday. Host Emmanuel Macron welcomed 30 heads of state and government of African countries as well as representatives of European states and international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), partly virtually and partly on site. The economic consequences of the pandemic are particularly felt on the African continent: according to estimates, Africa’s economy will only grow by around three percent this year – half the world average. The vaccination campaign is also making slow progress on Europe’s neighbouring continent. So far, only three percent of the African population has been vaccinated. The French president now called for doubling the vaccination targets of the Covax initiative as well as lifting the patent rights to the Covid-19 vaccines to enable local production of vaccines in Africa. The continent should reach a vaccination rate of 40% by the end of the year and 60% by the middle of 2022, thus also reducing the risk of dangerous virus mutations. In addition, concrete financial aid was determined at the summit. Macron and IMF head Kristalina Georgieva announced that the IMF would allocate $33 billion in special drawing rights to African countries by October; this should be raised up to a total of $100 billion by redistributing the special drawing rights of the economically strong IMF member states. Special Drawing Rights are international currency reserves introduced by the IMF, which are held in the form of book credits in the IMF‘s accounts and provide additional liquidity for its member states when needed. Macron sees the results of the summit as a first step towards the “New Deal with Africa” he has called for, an allusion to the economic reforms of the USA in the 1930s. A conference on Sudan’s debt reduction had already met the day before the summit. France agreed to cancel five billion in debt for the north-eastern African country. Germany also wants to waive 360 million euros in debt repayments in order to support the democratic transition in the country.
Government formation in Mali
Last Friday, Mali’s Prime Minister, Moctar Ouane, resigned along with the interim government. However, he was subsequently called back in by interim President Bah N’Daw to form a new, more inclusive transitional government. The developments follow growing criticism from Malian civil society regarding the slowness of the announced reforms and the continued strong influence of the military on the country’s politics. Ouane’s task now is to appoint a broad-based cabinet and include representatives from different parties and civil society. To this end, he held a series of talks with various organisations and institutions during the week. In particular, he met on Tuesday with the opposition movement M5-RFP, which was instrumental in the protests against former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was forced to step down in August 2020 after a military coup, and has since been calling for a strong civilian transitional government. Whether the M5-RFP will participate in the new government is considered rather unlikely, although it saw the events as a step in the right direction. Today, on Friday, Ouane will meet with interim President N´Daw to discuss the results of his consultations and thus the possible new government. Ouane originally took over as prime minister in the landlocked West African country at the end of September 2020, with the aim of transitionally governing the country for 18 months, organising democratic elections and returning power to civilians. Only recently, the dates for the planned presidential and parliamentary elections were announced; they are to take place at the end of February 2022. Before that, the Malian people are to vote on a constitutional referendum on 31 October this year regarding greater decentralisation of power.
In other news
Entrepreneur Nelson Boateng used 13,400 kg of plastic to build the first plastic house in Ghana. With his company “Nelplast Ghana Ltd“, founded in 2015, the 36-year-old not only wants to collect plastic from beaches and roadside ditches to fight pollution, but also to create affordable housing for low-income groups in his home country. The two-bedroom bungalow he built costs the equivalent of 8,500 Euro. While architecturally similar to his neighbouring houses, its bricks are made of 30% plastic and 70% sand, yet are heat-resistant and fire-retardant. The plastic content, meanwhile, allows for some flexibility in their shape, so the house can withstand earthquakes, according to Boateng. In the future, Boateng also wants to get into road construction with recycled plastic.