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Three Obstacles Holding Back Economic Development

Picture: REUTERS/Luc Gnago/Taken on April 3, 2012 – Malians queued to stock up on petrol at garages around the capital Bamako on Tuesday after neighbours including Ivory Coast and Niger launched trade and diplomatic sanctions, including freezing its funds at the central bank of the West African franc currency zone. The development of certain African countries is impacted by the CFA franc, a currency, which is completely beyond the control of local governments, since it is printed in France and pegged to the euro, the writer says.

By Samantha Arias

Africa had been seeking to assert itself on the global economic stage, but continues to run up against the West’s dominance, as well as the barrier of the Franc of the Financial Community of Africa (CFA franc), explained Cameroonian economist Jean René Ndouma to Sputnik Africa.

In the latest World Bank ranking, only four African countries are among the top 50 in terms of GDP at purchasing power parity.

Africa has been ensnared by three obstacles that explain this phenomenon, as Ndouma, a Cameroonian consultant in financial markets and digital finance, explained to Sputnik Africa.

The first obstacle is political. In some African countries, behind-the-scenes deals with Western powers sometimes take precedence over fundamental laws and constitutions. These agreements prevent the free utilisation of natural resources and undermine sovereignty, asserted the economist.

“There are agreements with certain colonial or ex-colonial states that prevent the various African countries from disposing of their natural resources, from making decisions concerning their sovereignty … Obviously, you can’t envisage economic development.” – Jean René Ndouma

As a direct consequence of these arrangements, some African leaders are not free to manoeuvre. They must respond to the injunctions of Western powers, whose interests they serve, to the detriment of the interests of their people.

“The second reason, related to the first, is that there are still African countries with heads of state who only have a head of state in name. In reality, they do not have the power that the African people give them, to act for the interests of these peoples. They are at the service of certain Western powers, they await the instructions, the injunctions, the orders of Western leaders,” Ndouma said.

Stuck Under CFA Franc’s Yoke

Furthermore, the development of certain African countries is impacted by the CFA franc, a currency, which is completely beyond the control of local governments, since it is printed in France and pegged to the euro. This makes it impossible to implement independent budgetary policies, according to Ndouma.

“The third reason is the currency […] I’m referring in particular to the 15 Franc zone countries using a currency that is truly a casino chip, because it’s not their currency. It is manufactured, controlled and influenced from somewhere else. It doesn’t allow you to define a real development, monetary and budgetary policy,” he noted.

Solution Through BRICS

The alternatives offered by the BRICS, via the New Development Bank (NDB) for example, could allow Africa to overcome these three obstacles, added the economist.

“We truly salute the BRICS which has taken the leadership of a new global centre with all the instruments needed to be able to develop a country”, a task requiring “investments”, “infrastructure” and “technology transfer,” he declared.

Beyond the economic sphere, the security factor also remains crucial for African development, concluded the economist, noting that ”if there is no security and peace, there can be no talk of development”.

UN Concerned About Impact Sanctions Can Have on Situation in Niger: UN Spokesperson

Picture: Stefano Rellandini / AFP / Taken on August 5, 2023 – A woman holds the image of ousted Niger President Mohamed Bazoum, 63 – who has been held by coup plotters with his family in his official Niamey residence since July 26 – during a protest outside the Niger Embassy, in Paris.

By Sputnik staff writer

The coup in Niger in late July, in which the military ousted elected President Mohamed Bazoum provoked a wave of sanctions from both the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and European countries.

The United Nations is concerned about the impact sanctions could have on the situation in Niger, UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said on Thursday.

“We have mentioned our concerns in general about sanctions regarding this particular case. Our basic concern is with the effort to overthrow the elected government we want the restoration of the government as soon as possible,” Haq told a briefing.

On July 30, in response to a coup in Niger a few days prior, ECOWAS suspended all financial aid, froze rebels’ assets, and imposed a ban on commercial flights to and from the country, as well as closed all borders. Nigeria, Niger’s southern neighbour, cut the electricity supply to the nation.

Earlier today, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that he is “very concerned” about the living conditions and safety of detained Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum and his family and once again called for his immediate and unconditional release.

A coup took place in Niger on July 26 during which incumbent President Mohamed Bazoum was ousted and detained by his own guard, led by General Abdourahmane Tchiani. The caretaker National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland closed the country’s borders and broke security agreements with France, its former coloniser.

Kenyan Government and Opposition Reportedly Begin Talks to Solve Political Crisis

Picture: Luis Tato / AFP / Taken on July 12, 2023 – Kenya Police officers arrest a Kenyan opposition supporter during demonstrations in Nairobi, Kenya on July 12, 2023. Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has called for countrywide demonstrations in recent months as he puts pressure on President William Ruto’s administration. Representatives of the Kenyan government and the opposition have held preliminary discussions on August 9 to forge a way forward for talks on the long-running stand-off that has sparked protests in recent months, media reports.

By Rasina Musallimova

Since March, the opposition Azimio la Umoja (One Kenya) party, headed by Kenyan ex-Prime Minister Raila Odinga, has been waging demonstrations against the high cost of food, fuel, and electricity in the country, as well as the results of the 2022 elections, which led to William Ruto becoming president.

Representatives of the Kenyan government and the opposition held preliminary discussions on Wednesday to forge a way forward for talks on the long-running stand-off that has sparked protests in recent months, media reported.

Technical teams have been formed to clarify the agenda for the negotiation, with talks formally due to start on August 14, according to the media.

The priority topic in the negotiations for the opposition is the increased cost of living. However, the government insists that it is already working on inflation control and the reduction of the cost of basic goods.

Among other issues, Odinga‘s party has called for an audit of last year’s elections, a bi-partisan reconstitution of the electoral body, respect for political parties and inclusion of the opposition in national issues, the media said. In particular, the opposition wants the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to preserve the election servers in order to facilitate inspection.

Kalonzo Musyoka, the leader of the opposition delegation, noted that the party would not seek a power-sharing deal.

Kimani Ichungw’ah, the deputy of the National Assembly heading the government’s delegation, expressed the readiness of the delegation to co-operate and resolve the issues raised by the opposition.

The latest protests ignited by the opposition took place on July 7 and are called the “Saba Saba” (Seven Seven) demonstrations. They followed the acceptance of the Finance Bill in June, which aimed to increase taxes. At least 10 people have reportedly been killed.

In response, Ruto slammed Odinga, noting that the demonstrations are damaging to the economy, which the president’s administration claims to be making a concerted effort to swing back.

Since March, Kenya has suffered from anti-government rallies, which at times took a violent turn, over the cost-of-living crisis and last year’s alleged election rigging.

The Kenyan president, for his part, condemned the opposition protests, which turned into riots and caused damage, forcing the closure of several businesses.

On Sunday, Ruto ruled out the possibility of a power-sharing deal with his main political rival Odinga and also warned against any attempt to incite violence and disrupt peace in the country.

These articles were first published on Sputnik