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Musings From Abroad

France to withdraw forces from West and Central Africa

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According to three sources quoted by AFP, France intends to scale back its military deployment in West and Central Africa to about 600 soldiers in keeping with President Emmanuel Macron’s intentions to lessen France’s military footprint in the area.

Given the strong anti-French sentiment in several former colonies and the competition for influence from nations like Russia, Macron declared in February 2023 that there would be a “noticeable reduction” in the number of French troops stationed in Africa.

A strategy being discussed with allies in Africa indicates that France intends to significantly scale back its so-called “pre-positioned” forces in the continent.

Two government-affiliated sources, as well as a military source, claim that France will only maintain about 100 troops in Senegal, West Africa, down from 350 currently, and about 100 in Gabon, Central Africa.

Paris intends to maintain about 300 troops in Chad, in north-central Africa, down from 1,000 currently, and about 100 troops in Ivory Coast, on the southern coast of West Africa.

According to the three sources, the diminished presence can occasionally be increased in response to the demands of regional partners. The French General Staff was contacted by AFP, but they declined to comment.

Up until two years ago, France maintained around 5,000 troops in the Sahel region of Africa as part of the Barkhane anti-jihadist campaign, in addition to the about 1,600 forces that were pre-deployed in Gabon and West Africa. However, the juntas that took over in Mali in 2021, Burkina Faso in 2022, and Niger in 2023 have been steadily driving it out.

Now, all three nations have security agreements in place with Russia, which has been looking to increase its influence throughout the continent. The final nation in the Sahel to get French forces is Chad, which is led by Mahamat Idriss Deby, the son of Idriss Deby Itno, a former president who served for more than 30 years.

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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