EU and Namibia face raw materials agreement
According to official reports, the European Union (EU) is about to sign an agreement on raw material imports with Namibia. The Southern African country has large deposits of rare earth metals such as lithium, cobalt and graphite, which are central to the production of batteries for electric cars and thus to the green energy transition. However, Namibia currently mines only a fraction of its deposits. This is about to change with the EU agreement, according to the Namibian Ministry of Mines and Energy. In addition, Namibia and the EU are striving for a joint project for the production of green hydrogen, which is currently seen as a beacon of hope for the energy transition. The agreement is part of European efforts to reduce dependence on raw materials and energy from China and Russia. Namibia, in turn, is positioning itself as a pioneer for renewable energies on the African continent. According to the EU ambassador to Namibia, Sinikka Antila, both parties are working on a long-term agreement to strengthen economic relations. The groundwork for this was laid at an African Union (AU) summit with the EU in Brussels last year. However, the upcoming agreement has also met with criticism from the Namibian civil society. The Black Business Leadership Network, for example, warns that revenues generated by resource extraction could flow exclusively to European companies instead of boosting the country’s economy.
Forum on Peace and Security in Dakar
From 24 to 25 October, the Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa took place for the eighth time in the Senegalese capital. The Forum was opened by Senegal’s President and current Chair of the African Union (AU), Macky Sall. He was joined by the Heads of State and Government of Angola, Cabo Verde and Guinea-Bissau, as well as high-ranking representatives from France, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The focus of this year’s forum, which took place against the backdrop of the withdrawal of French forces from Mali and the ongoing criticism of UN missions in the region, was the question of redefining the role of international partners in promoting stability on the African continent. Hence, in his opening speech, Sall called on forum participants to rethink modern peace operations and invest more in the creation of training and employment opportunities to promote stability and security on the continent in a sustainable way. According to a study by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, a research group of the US Department of Defence, militant Islamist violence in Africa has nearly doubled since 2019. A total of 6,300 incidents were recorded in 2022, with the Sahel particularly affected, it said. Furthermore, it was discussed how the current dependency of many African countries on international food aid can be reduced and the continent’s resilience to external shocks such as the Ukraine war can be strengthened. Launched during the French-organised Élysée Summit in 2013, the Dakar Forum has been bringing together African heads of state and government, international partners and peace and security actors annually since 2014 under the auspices of Macky Sall and is now considered an important platform for African decision-makers. At the same time, the forum underlines the AU’s demand for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and the G20.
In other news
In the South African coastal city of Durban, Misuzulu Zulu kaZwelithini was crowned last Saturday as the new king of the Zulu, South Africa’s largest ethnic group. It is the first coronation ceremony since South Africa’s transition to democracy in 1994. The coronation of the new king also ends a bitter power struggle to succeed King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, who died last year and who has led the Zulus for almost 50 years. In a formal ceremony, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa officially recognised King Misuzulu ka Zwelithini as monarch. Although the Zulu king has no official power in the political system, he is considered an important traditional authority and leader among the approximately eleven million Zulus. In his inaugural address, King Misuzulu cited poverty, unemployment, climate change and food insecurity as the greatest challenges of his reign.