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ECOWAS Chairman, Umaro Embalo, in Russia to discuss food crisis, other matters 

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The Chairman of regional bloc, ECOWAS, Umaro Sissoco Embalo is in Moscow, Russia for discussions on matters in the interest of the West Africa sub-region.

Chairman Embalo was welcomed in Moscow by President Vladimir Putin, Tuesday with talks regarding grain exports top of the agenda.

He commented that “he passed the message of all 15 countries representing the CEDEAO/ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), to discuss today’s situation of the war between two sister nations – Russia and Ukraine, (to discuss) not only the question of grain and wheat, but the world that is blocked.”

The world and Africa in particular has been hit with shortage of grains and wheat nearly nine months after the war between Russia and its neighbour erupted. Both Eastern Europe accounts for over 70 per cent of the world’s grain and wheat.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, at a recent visit to West African country, promised that his country would send more grain to African countries in a bid to tackle growing food insecurity on the continent.

In February, Russia invaded Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War that began in 2014. The invasion caused Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II with around 7.3 million Ukrainians fleeing the country and a third of the population displaced. It has also caused global food shortages.

The ECOWAS Chairperson, who is also the president of Guinea-Bissau drawa from the cordial diplomatic relations, which Russia’s Putin referred as long-lasting “friendly relations”, and added that he hoped to further develop trade, economic and humanitarian ties.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year has put many African countries in an awkward diplomatic position.

Some have chosen diplomatic neutrality given the strategic partnership they share with Russia. Others like Mali have openly embraced Moscow, its invasion of Ukraine notwithstanding.

Musings From Abroad

Niger, Turkey expand energy, defence cooperation

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Following Niger’s request for the departure of Western military forces and the cancellation of many Western countries’ mining contracts, Turkey and Niger decided to increase their collaboration in the areas of energy, mining, intelligence, and defence.

On Wednesday, MIT intelligence chief, Ibrahim Kalin, Energy Minister, Alparslan Bayraktar, Defense Minister, Yasar Guler, and Foreign Minister, Hakan Fidan, of Turkey paid a visit to Niamey, the capital of Niger.

The Turkish team also met with General Abdulrahman Tiani, the leader of Niger, who assumed office in July of last year following the overthrow of President Mohamed Bazoum by the military council he led and the country’s shift in allegiance.

The junta expelled the French forces, and the United States was instructed to remove its military men from the nation. Additionally, it broke security agreements with the EU.

Two months have passed since Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Niger’s Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine met in Ankara, where the Turkish officials are currently on a visit.

Following their discussions on Wednesday, Fidan informed reporters that officials from Turkey and Niger had talked about enhancing their defence intelligence collaboration.

Guler talked about measures to strengthen defence and military training cooperation between Turkey and Niger, an official from the Turkish Ministry of defense said on Thursday.

The energy ministry of Turkey announced on Wednesday that the two nations had inked a statement of intent to assist and motivate Turkish enterprises to develop the oil and natural gas resources in Niger.

Niger is the seventh-largest producer of uranium in the world and possesses the highest-grade uranium ores in Africa.

However, a Turkish diplomatic source stated that Ankara is not looking to purchase uranium from Niger for its first nuclear power station, which is being built in Akkuyu in Turkey’s Mediterranean area by Russia’s Rosatom.

 

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Musings From Abroad

IMF lowers Botswana’s growth projection for 2024

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In a statement, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reduced its earlier April estimate of 3.6% growth for Botswana to 1%, primarily because of decreased diamond production.

In addition, the IMF warned that a decline in mineral income would cause the budget deficit to balloon to 6% from 3.45% and urged the diamond-rich nation in southern Africa to think twice before embarking on new infrastructure projects to support the economy.

“The continued (economic) slowdown is mainly due to a fall in diamond production,” said IMF said in a statement released late on Friday.

“Some fiscal relaxation is warranted this year given the fall in mineral revenues, but the execution of the ambitious capital budget should be slowed down to contain the deterioration of the deficit and prioritize projects with the highest returns,” the IMF said.

 

The demand prognosis for diamonds, which are typically regarded as luxury goods, has decreased due to weaker consumer demand and a weakening in the global economy.

Finance Minister Peggy Serame predicted in February that the economy would expand by 4.2%, but a few months later the central bank issued a warning, stating that the ongoing challenges in the world diamond market made it doubtful that this goal would be met.

Diamond sales account for 30–40% of Botswana’s total revenue and 75% of its foreign exchange profits.

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