Items of Interest: September 12

The counter-terrorism agenda for the ECOWAS summit in Burkina Faso, and rapprochement in Sierra Leone between the president and former president, are actions from September 12 that may emerge to become significant factors impacting geomarket developments in Africa.

Burkina Faso: The agenda for the September 13-14 summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will focus on sub-regional terrorism. 

Significance: Heads of state from the Economic Community of West African States will gather in Ouagadougou to raise concerns they share in common regarding the threat of terrorism in and across their national boundaries. Burkina Faso, Mali, and Nigeria experience near-daily incidents by Islamist militants conducting emboldened attacks not only on soft targets but on defense and security forces on patrol and in encamped locations. National, regional, and international support for counter-terrorist measures has fallen short, to which the presidents gathering in Ouagadougou will state needs to be resolved. The targeting selection by Islamist militants has generally not included Western economic interests or personnel, but the longer-term strategic intention by Al Qaeda and its indigenous proxies is to expand areas of strategic control – and denying sovereignty to national governments – will increasingly compromise the security and tenure of foreign investor operations, to include gold mining in Burkina Faso. 

Sierra Leone: President Julius Maado Bio met with his predecessor former President Ernest Bai Koroma. 

Significance: The meeting in Bio’s office in Freetown, together with senior officials Bio’s Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and Koroma’s All People’s Congress (APC), is an effort to reconcile steadily rising tensions between the country’s principal political parties. Anti-corruption investigations by the Bio administration into Koroma-era officials has strained cooperation between the SLPP, which controls the presidency, and the APC, which is the majority party in the nation’s parliament. The Bio administration has not found meaningful success in generating foreign investment sufficient to underwrite job growth, which is a top policy priority for the president’s government. Reconciliatory steps between the incumbent and former presidents will contribute to improving the country’s legislative and regulatory regime insofar as elevating – and not obstructing – the design and implementation of laws aimed to facilitate long-term business attractiveness. Ethnopolitical calculations inherent in the SLPP and the APC won’t easily be overcome, but rapprochement will help unblock the government’s political gridlock. 

Other items of note:

-Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Cheikh Ghazouani has continued to prioritize the holding of consultations with domestic political party representatives and foreign investor partners. 

-Two attacks by Islamist militants in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province on September 10 resulted in several women and dozens of children kidnapped in Muidumbe district, and in Mitacata of Macomia district the special operations forces post sacked and seven members killed. 

-South Africa’s Rand Merchant Bank/Bureau for Economic Research Business Confidence Index fell to a decade’s low of 21. 

-Current and former heads of state from across Africa and beyond are preparing to travel to Harare to participate in the September 14 state funeral for former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. 

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