Africa Briefs

11 February 2020 | Economics

Sahel violence attacks mining food chain

Violence in Africa's Sahel region has driven mining exploration companies to put projects on hold, with knock-on effects for an industry struggling to expand and for fragile local economies.

Islamist groups have been pushing south from strongholds in northern Mali and carried out attacks across much of Burkina Faso and parts of western Niger.

As security costs have risen, mining companies that explore for mineral deposits have shut down projects in the most dangerous areas.

Resolute Mining, a gold miner, has minority stakes in five exploration companies, one of which - Mako Gold - it advised late last year to halt exploration at a project in Burkino Faso.

Gold explorer Predictive Discovery put its Burkina Faso projects on hold after an attack killed a geologist employed by one of the company's joint ventures.

Other projects have already been frozen for years. Golden Rim Resources put its Babonga project on hold three years ago because of its proximity to the Niger border. – Nampa/Reuters

Smuggling hurts Ivory Coast cashews

Production of cashew in Ivory Coast, one of the world's top producers, fell 17% to 634 641 tonnes in 2019 after as much as 200 000 tonnes was smuggled out of the country, the head of the state cotton and cashew council said.

Last year, the government lowered the guaranteed minimum price paid to farmers for their cashews to 375 CFA francs (US$0.63) per kg from 500, while the farmgate price in neighbouring Ghana remained higher.

The cashew council estimates between 150 000 and 200 000 tonnes of cashews, worth at least 17 billion CFA francs in taxes, was smuggled out of the country, mostly to Ghana.

The council's director, Adama Coulibaly, said efforts would be made to clamp down on black market cashew flows.

"We think we can reach output of 800 000 tonnes in 2020, if we are successful in closing the borders," Coulibaly told reporters.

The cashew marketing season in Ivory Coast opened officially on Feb. 6 and will close in late December. The government has set a new farmgate price of 400 CFA francs per kg, 25 CFA francs higher than last year. – Nampa/Reuters

Locust swarms arrive in Uganda

A locust infestation sweeping the Horn of Africa reached Uganda on Sunday, a government minister said as the prime minister convened an emergency meeting to address the pest invasion.

The locusts have devastated food supplies in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) describing the situation as the worst in 25 years.

Somalia declared a state of emergency this month as unusually large swarms of the hungry insects gorged on crops.

The FAO says the current invasion is known as an "upsurge" - when an entire region is affected - however, if it gets worse and cannot be contained, over a year or more, it would become what is known as a "plague" of locusts.

There have been six major desert locust plagues in the 1900s, the last of which was in 1987-89. The last major upsurge was in 2003-05. – Nampa/AFP

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