Items of Interest: April 25

The following items from April 25 may emerge to become significant factors impacting geomarket developments in Africa:

Burkina Faso: Government spokesman Rémis Dandjinou refuted reports that the presidency is negotiating with jihadist groups to dissuade their insurgent operations in the country. 

Significance: Burkina Faso has been subject to consistent Islamist militant attacks aimed at civilian and military and security personnel in remote provinces of the country. The attacks have been frequent (regularly two to three per week), involve the use of small arms and improvised explosive devices, focused on Burkinabé nationals, and include the theft of small arms, supplies, cash, and vehicles held by the victims. The January 16 killing of the Canadian miner from the Progress Minerals site remains anomalous insofar as killings of expatriates are concerned. That a host government in the Sahel sub-region would negotiate with representatives of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and jihadist proxies is consistent behavior intended to deflect insurgent operations away from their territory.

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Democratic Republic of the Congo: Jeanine Mabunda was elected the president of the country’s National Assembly.

Significance: Obtaining 375 of 383 votes cast, Mabunda’s election marks the start of the formation of the Congo’s new government. Mabunda is, of course, a well-regarded, experienced, and loyal member of the Common Front for Congo alliance that is led by former President Joseph Kabila. Important next steps to watch are the appointments of a prime minister and cabinet ministers, who will largely be nominated by the Kabila-led alliance by right of the parliamentary majority the Kabila loyalists enjoy. Once a new government is in office can debate and give and take begin to take hold regarding policy priorities, including moderating the effects of the country’s Mining Code that was revised in 2018.

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Ethiopia: The government intends to modernize its mining and petroleum sector legislation by July.

Significance: Bringing outdated legislation in the extractive industries sector to modern best practices is consistent with other reformist measures enacted by the Abiy Ahmed administration. The objective of introducing new mining and petroleum legislation is to encourage investment so as to expand output and jobs. The timetable for enacting new legislation may be optimistic and will have to take into account the management of political fallout from domestic stakeholders who may see their entrenched interests compromised.  

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Mozambique: President Filipe Nyusi held negotiations with Chinese officials to fund the development of railway, port, and national and provincial highway projects in the country.

Significance: Nyusi met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other senior officials ahead of the Second Belt and Road Initiative Forum scheduled for April 25-27 and committed to prioritizing national and regional infrastructure projects of mutual interest. Specific items that were addressed were funding the rehabilitation of the national EN1 highway running the length of the Mozambique coastline; funding upgrades to highway projects in central Mozambique linking the Indian Ocean ports of Beira and Macuse to Zimbabwe and coal and heavy sands mining projects respectively; and funding road upgrades linking central Mozambican provinces to neighboring Malawi and Zambia. The public infrastructure projects certainly empower the acquisition of stranded extractive industries in Mozambique and also provide for redundant and robust supply chain connectivity to neighboring countries of the southern African region.

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Zimbabwe: European Union Ambassador Timo Olkkonen commended the Mnangagwa administration for the economic and legislative reforms it has initiated.

Significance: The ambassador addressed the two pieces of controversial legislation, the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), that are in the process of being repealed and which are notable impediments for the lifting of foreign sanctions on Zimbabwean officials. The EU official also spoke on the Zimbabwean government supporting efforts by the International Monetary Fund to elevate financial transparency and accountability in the country. The development validates reformist measures by the Mnangagwa administration which, to be sure, are in preliminary but advancing stages.

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