Region

North Africa and the Sahel

Stories under this heading cover North Africa and the Sahel. North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. It stretches from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania to Egypt's Suez Canal and the Red Sea. The Sahel spans from the eastern shores of the African continent, starting from Sudan and continuing up to the Atlantic shores of Mauritania and Senegal.

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Sharp drop in Suez Canal revenues adds to Egypt's woes

Sharp drop in Suez Canal revenues adds to Egypt's woes

Egypt's already considerable economic problems took a turn for the worse last month as revenues from transit of shipping through the Suez Canal dropped by half as a result of security problems in  the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Attacks by Houthi rebels on commercial vessels forced major shipping companies to divert away from the key global trade artery. Income from the international strategic waterway last month dropped to $428 million, compared to $804 million in January 2023, Osama Rabie, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, said in an interview with Egyptian television channel ON TV. The total number of ships through the Suez Canal last month fell to 1,362 vessels, down 36 per cent from the 2,155 vessels navigating the canal during January 2023, he said. Houthi militants in Yemen began attacking commercial vessels in October in solidarity with the Palestinians in the Israel-Gaza war, and show no signs of retreating despite the US and Western allies attempting to deter the Iran-backed group with air strikes, which began on January 12.  Many shipping companies have rerouted their vessels away from the Red Sea to avoid the attacks, opting instead for the longer and more expensive route around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa. The Suez Canal is the shortest sea route between Asia and Europe. With about 12 per cent of the world's shipping traffic passing through it, the waterway is a major facilitator of global trade. The canal is also a crucial source of foreign currency for Egypt. The North African economy, already grappling with record inflation and a heavy debt burden was further impacted by the Israel-Gaza war, which has slowed tourism and decreased shipping through the Suez Canal. Egypt is "particularly exposed" to the Red Sea shipping crisis as the country generates about 2.2 per cent of its gross domestic product in annual balance-of-payment receipts and 1.2 per cent of GDP in fiscal revenue from Suez Canal dues, the International Monetary Fund said in its regional economic outlook in January.

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Editor's choice
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Sharp drop in Suez Canal revenues adds to Egypt's woes

Sharp drop in Suez Canal revenues adds to Egypt's woes

Egypt's already considerable economic problems took a turn for the worse last month as revenues from transit of shipping through the Suez Canal dropped by half as a result of security problems in  the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Attacks by Houthi rebels on commercial vessels forced major shipping companies to divert away from the key global trade artery. Income from the international strategic waterway last month dropped to $428 million, compared to $804 million in January 2023, Osama Rabie, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, said in an interview with Egyptian television channel ON TV. The total number of ships through the Suez Canal last month fell to 1,362 vessels, down 36 per cent from the 2,155 vessels navigating the canal during January 2023, he said. Houthi militants in Yemen began attacking commercial vessels in October in solidarity with the Palestinians in the Israel-Gaza war, and show no signs of retreating despite the US and Western allies attempting to deter the Iran-backed group with air strikes, which began on January 12.  Many shipping companies have rerouted their vessels away from the Red Sea to avoid the attacks, opting instead for the longer and more expensive route around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa. The Suez Canal is the shortest sea route between Asia and Europe. With about 12 per cent of the world's shipping traffic passing through it, the waterway is a major facilitator of global trade. The canal is also a crucial source of foreign currency for Egypt. The North African economy, already grappling with record inflation and a heavy debt burden was further impacted by the Israel-Gaza war, which has slowed tourism and decreased shipping through the Suez Canal. Egypt is "particularly exposed" to the Red Sea shipping crisis as the country generates about 2.2 per cent of its gross domestic product in annual balance-of-payment receipts and 1.2 per cent of GDP in fiscal revenue from Suez Canal dues, the International Monetary Fund said in its regional economic outlook in January.
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Opportunistic Russia exploits deepening rifts in West Africa

Opportunistic Russia exploits deepening rifts in West Africa

The rift in West Africa became more acute over the weekend after three Sahel countries currently ruled by military juntas announced that they were leaving ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States - the regional grouping  of whom the three countries had been founding members in 1975. Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso announced the move in a simultaneous announcement on Sunday. "After 49 years, the valiant peoples of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger regretfully and with great disappointment observe that the (ECOWAS) organization has drifted from the ideals of its founding fathers and the spirit of Pan-Africanism," Colonel Amadou Abdramane, Niger junta spokesman, said in a statement. The three countries were suspended from ECOWAS following the coups, and relations between them and the regional bloc have been deteriorating for months. "The organization notably failed to assist these states in their existential fight against terrorism and insecurity," Abdramane added. Meanwhile, in a separate development Burkina Faso says it has received 25,000 tonnes of free wheat from Russia. Confirming the news on Friday, one minister called the delivery a "priceless gift". Ties between Moscow and Ouagadougou have been strengthening since the military took power in two successive coups in 2022. Last month Russia re-opened its embassy in Burkina Faso which had been closed since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Burkina Faso has at the same time been distancing itself from former colonial power France, and last year it ordered its troops to leave.
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Heaviest fighting in Sudan since the start of civil war reported on Tuesday

Heaviest fighting in Sudan since the start of civil war reported on Tuesday

13 civilians have been killed on Tuesday (8 August) in what is being reported as the heaviest fighting in Sudan since the start of a civil war nearly four months ago. Arab News reports that the Sudanese army launched airstrikes and heavy artillery salvos to try to take a bridge across the Nile used by the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to bring reinforcements and weapons from Omdurman to Bahri and Khartoum, the other two cities that comprise the capital.
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U.S. holds "extremely frank" talks with Niger military leaders as airspace is closed

U.S. holds "extremely frank" talks with Niger military leaders as airspace is closed

Senior United States official, the Acting Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, has held talks with the military leaders of Niger following a coup last month. Speaking to reporters from capital Niamey, Nuland said that, in talks lasting more than two hours, the U.S. had offered its help "if there is a desire on the part of the people who are responsible for this to return to the constitutional order". The U.S. was not "in any way taken up on that offer", she said.
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UN warns of "full-scale civil war" in Sudan after air strike on residential area kills at least 22

UN warns of "full-scale civil war" in Sudan after air strike on residential area kills at least 22

The United Nations (UN) has warned that Sudan risks descending into a "full-scale civil war" after an air strike was launched on a residential area in the city of Omdurman near the capital, Khartoum, on Sunday (9 July). The Deputy Spokesperson of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that he condemned the air strike that killed at least 22 people, adding that he "remains deeply concerned that the ongoing war between the armed forces has pushed Sudan to the brink of a full-scale civil war, potentially destabilizing the entire region." He said that "there is an utter disregard for humanitarian and human rights law that is dangerous and disturbing." Fighting broke out between two rival generals in Sudan on 15 April after talks between the Sudanese Army and the paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces, over a transition to a civilian government broke down, and fighting erupted. Since then approximately 3,000 people are confirmed to have been killed in the conflict, although the true death toll is likely to be much higher. Widespread sexual violence, targeted ethnic violence, and looting have been reported, as well as food and water shortages especially in the capital city of Khartoum.