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Mali’s youngest and first female minister is on a quest to rebuild her country

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Kamissa Camara was named Mali’s foreign minister in September, joining a 33 member cabinet tasked with restoring peace and rebuilding the economy in President Keita’s second and final term.

35-year Camara previously served as Keita’s foreign policy adviser, a position she was appointed to in July this year.

Camara, who is the first woman to hold the position of foreign affairs minister in Mali’s history is the founder of the Sahel Strategy Forum, a platform that promotes peace, security and development across the Sahel.

Kamissa Camara is an expert in African politics with a concentration on the Sahel/West Africa region. She has been extensively featured in the press and conferences on various issues affecting the Sahel region including governance, conflict, democracy and security.

She is one of 11 women —  out of 32 ministers total — in Mali’s new cabinet. Camara says she aims to build political bridges with Africa. “My mantra is to enrich foreign policy with African accents. As an American woman who was born and raised in France by West African parents, I strive to provide analyses that highlight religious and cultural specificities. Politics, democracy, security and good governance is the essence of my work, reflections and publications”, she declares on her website

As the diplomatic advisor to the president, Kamissa Camara has been vocal about the need for strategic partnerships between Mali and other countries, including China.

Speaking about herself, Kamissa Camara revealed that her mission is to help the West make sense of African politics by building intellectual bridges between sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and the United States.

Her mantra is to enrich foreign policy with African accents. As an American woman who was born and raised in France by West African parents, she strives to provide analyses that highlight religious and cultural specificities.

On how peace can be achieved in the war-torned region Camara notes that “There is a terrorist issue in the Sahel region and also in the world,” It’s really difficult, or I would say even inaccurate, to take the significant issues of Mali out of the issues of the Sahel region. The terrorist issue is not a Malian issue. We have been experiencing it all over the world.”

While she confirms that there’s inter-communal violence, Camara says the situation “cannot be simply described as a terrorist situation … It’s a pastoralist issue between Fulani herders that are against Bozo herders torn  It’s a complex security situation that has been exacerbated by terrorist groups, that has been utilised by terrorist groups so now it is being perceived as an ethnic conflict, which is not necessarily the root of it.” 

Among other factors, Camara says, “there’s definitely a lack of funding for the joint force to be fully operational. We currently have need of over 400 million euros per year [roughly $458m]. For now it’s our job to make sure that the international community understands that this joint force is the only sustainable solution we currently have in order to curtail the fragile security situation that we have in the Sahel region.

“We are trying to find solutions to our own problems, and this is what the international community has been pushing African countries to do … What we are trying to do is for five Sahel countries that are facing the same security issues, to work together in order to curtail a growing terrorist threat.”

Mali’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth is stable at around 6% and there’s been a rise in agricultural productivity. The IMF and World Bank continue to support Mali financially.

“Mali is a very resilient country,” says Camara. “Mali has gone through a lot since 2011. We have … gone through a military coup, an insurgency, but we also have had a lot of successes. We organised two peaceful presidential elections. We have a peace process that is ongoing. We have the DDR [disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programme] that just started. We have a full ministry in charge of the peace process. We have a six percent growth rate …”

“Despite the security challenges that we currently have, we’re a country that is ready for investments and, we are ready to take charge of all of the issues that we’re currently having, we’re finding solutions to them,” says Camara, who wants to ensure that “the international community understands that the issues of Mali are not necessarily focused on the security aspect of it, that we have potential. That we have things to offer.”

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West Africa is the least trade integrated region in the world

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The Economic Community of West Africa States, ECOWAS, is the least integrated region in the world in terms of cross border trade, a report by the Borderless Alliance group has said.

 

According to the report, the non- application of ECOWAS directives relating to free movement of goods and people, ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme, ETLS, and the Common External Tariff, CET, are some of the factors responsible for the low level of trade integration in the region.

Other factors militating against trade in the region include the high cost of transport & logistics, Long delays at ports and borders, harassment along transit corridors, mainly from uniformed services and corruption.

Speaking at a one day workshop on dissemination and launch of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme handbook, Mr Justin Bayili, Executive Secretary, Borderless Alliance said that while Europe recorded 71 per cent in intra-regional trade, Asia recorded 53 per cent, South America 48 per cent against 12 per cent recorded by the ECOWAS region.

Bayili disclosed that East Africa is more integrated than its West African counterpart citing Customs inter-connectivity for the success so far recorded in East Africa.

He said, “We want to make West Africa a borderless border, East Africa is more integrated than West Africa.

“In international trade, there are no restrictions but standards must be met, the same best practices on transit that are applicable in East Africa must be applicable in West Africa.

“Burkina and Togo are inter-connected, Burkina- Cote Ivoire is also inter- connected and this has reduced the cost of trade between these countries.”

He explained that lack of professionalism amongst operators in the ECOWAS trade corridor has also been identified as a problem.

Bayili also noted that some of the issues affecting the ETLS are national issues adding that they must be addressed by national administrations.

Earlier in his opening remark, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, Mr Hassan Bello, said that barriers to trade increase the cost of trade and Africa has the highest cost of transporting goods between origin and destination across all modes of transportation.

He stated: “We must work assiduously to reduce these unnecessary costs by eliminating all the barriers to trade and make our products more competitive in the international market.

“Removing obstacles to intra-regional integration in the ECOWAS sub-region would be particularly beneficial to the small scale traders that conduct cross border commerce within the sub-region.

“The potential benefits include food security, job creation, poverty reduction, increased tax revenues for authorities and long term development outcomes.”

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Countries grounds Boeing 737 Max 8 planes after crash killed 157 people

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Aviation authorities in China, Indonesia and Ethiopia ordered airlines to ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes Monday after one crashed in Ethiopia, killing all 157 people on board.

The crash of the Ethiopian Airlines jet shortly after it took off from Addis Ababa on Sunday is drawing renewed scrutiny of the plane just four months after a similar crash of the same model that killed 189 people in Indonesia.

Chicago-based Boeing said it did not intend to issue any new guidance to its customers. It does plan to send a technical team to the crash site to help Ethiopian and U.S. investigators.

The 737 is the best-selling airliner in history, and the Max, the newest version of it with more fuel-efficient engines, is a central part of Boeing’s strategy to compete with European rival Airbus.

“Safety is our number one priority and we are taking every measure to fully understand all aspects of this accident, working closely with the investigating team and all regulatory authorities involved,” the company said in a statement.

A spokesman for Ethiopian Airlines, Asrat Begashaw, said the carrier had grounded its remaining four 737 Max 8 planes until further notice as an “extra safety precaution.”

The airline had been using five new 737 Max 8s and awaiting delivery of 25 more. Asrat said the search for body parts and debris from the crash was continuing.

China’s Civil Aviation Administration said that it ordered airlines to ground all 737 Max 8 aircraft, in line with the principle of “zero tolerance for security risks.”

It said it would issue further notices after consulting with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing.

Chinese carriers and leasing companies operate 96 Boeing 737 8 MAXs, according to the government, with dozens more believed to be on order. China Southern Airlines is one of Boeing’s biggest customers for the aircraft.

Indonesia also grounded 11 737 Max 8s for inspections to ensure flight safety and that the planes are airworthy, said Director General of Air Transportation Polana B. Pramesti.

Cayman Airways also said it was temporarily grounding two Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.

Real time flight radar apps showed dozens of the aircraft still operating around the globe.

The head of Indonesia’s national transport safety agency, Soerjanto Thahjono, offered to aid the Ethiopian investigation into Sunday’s crash.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board likewise said it was sending a team to help Ethiopian authorities. Boeing and the U.S. investigative agency are also involved in the probe into the Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October.

Like the Ethiopian Airlines crash, which happened minutes after the jet’s takeoff from Addis Ababa, the Lion Air jet that crashed off Indonesia had erratic speed during the few minutes it was in the air.

Safety experts cautioned, however, against drawing too many parallels between the two disasters.

“I do hope though that people will wait for the first results of the investigation instead of jumping to conclusions based on the very little facts that we know so far,” said Harro Ranter, founder of the Aviation Safety Network, which compiles information about accidents worldwide.

The situation will be better understood after investigators analyze the Ethiopian plane’s black boxes, said William Waldock, an aviation-safety professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. An airline official said Monday that the black box and cockpit voice recorder had been found, but the box was partially damaged.

Waldock said the way the planes both crashed — a fatal nosedive — was likely to raise suspicion. Boeing will likely look more closely at the flight-management system and automation on the Max, he said.

“Investigators are not big believers in coincidence,” he said.

Boeing has delivered about 350 737 Max planes to scores of airlines and has orders for more than 5,000.

Shares in the company fell more than 9 percent Monday in pre-market trading.

Alan Diehl, a former National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said reports of large variations in vertical speed during the Ethiopian jetliner’s ascent were “clearly suggesting a potential controllability problem.”

Other possible causes include engine problems, pilot error, weight load, sabotage or bird strikes, he said.

Ethiopian has a good reputation and the company’s CEO told reporters no problems were spotted before Sunday’s fight. But investigators also will look into the plane’s maintenance, which may have been an issue in the Lion Air crash.

Days after the Indonesian accident, Boeing notified airlines that faulty information from a sensor could cause the plane to automatically point the nose down. The automated system kicks in if sensors indicate that a plane is about to lose lift, or go into an aerodynamic stall. Gaining speed by diving can prevent a stall.

The notice reminded pilots of the procedure for handling such a situation, which is to disable the system causing the automatic nose-down movements.

Indonesian investigators are examining whether faulty readings from a sensor might have triggered the automatic nose-down command to the plane, which the Lion Air pilots fought unsuccessfully to overcome.

The Lion Air plane’s flight data recorder showed problems with an airspeed indicator on at least four previous flights, although the airline initially said the problem was fixed.

Boeing Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in December that the Max is a safe plane.

AP

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Money

Kylie Jenner is the youngest self-made billionaire of all time – Forbes

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Kylie Jenner has become the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, according to Forbes billionaires’ list.

The youngest Kardashian family member is making her fortune from her best-selling cosmetics business.

The 21-year-old founded and owns Kylie Cosmetics, the three-year-old beauty business that generated an estimated $360m in sales last year.

She reached the milestone earlier than Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg who became a billionaire aged 23.

“I didn’t expect anything. I did not foresee the future.

“But [the recognition] feels really good. That’s a nice pat on the back,” Ms Jenner told Forbes.

The list shows Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, remains the world’s richest man.

His fortune totals $131bn, according to Forbes, up $19bn from 2018.

But the billionaires’ combined worth is down from $9.1 trillion at $8.7tn.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth is among those falling.

It has dropped by $8.7bn (£6.6bn) in the past year to $62/3bn, according to the Forbes list.

His shares in Facebook at one point lost a third of their value as the company battled privacy scandals.

Amazon’s share price has been good for Mr Bezos’ bank balance and the gap between him and the number two, Bill Gates, is a little wider, even though Mr Gates’ fortune has swelled to $96.5bn from $90bn last year.

Of all the billionaires on the list only 252 are women, and the richest self-made woman is real estate mogul Wu Yajun of China, worth an estimated $9.4bn.

The number of self-made women reached 72 for the first time, up from 56 a year ago.

According to Forbes there are fewer billionaires around – 2,153 of them on the 2019 list, down from 2,208 in 2018. This, in part, explains why their average net worth is $4bn, down from $4.1bn. Forbes also found that 994 of them are less well off than a year ago.

Luisa Kroll, assistant managing editor of wealth at Forbes, said: “Even with strong headwinds, resourceful and relentless entrepreneurs find new ways to get rich.”

There are 52 UK citizens on the list. At the top are the Hinduja brothers, Srichand and Gopichand, who control the Hinduja Group conglomerate, with a net worth of $16.9bn.

Behind them, ranked as the wealthiest single individual in the UK, is James Ratcliffe, founder of the chemical group Ineos, and worth $12.1bn.

Another newcomer is Safra Catz co-chief executive of software firm Oracle, who according to Forbes earns a $41m salary and ranks as one of the world’s highest paid female executives.

The US has 607 billionaires, more than any other country. China has the next largest number with 324. But the list of Chinese billionaires has seen some big changes – it has 44 newcomers to the list while 102 have dropped off.

The weakness of the euro has not been kind to European billionaires who make a poor showing with only two in the top 20: Bernard Arnault (ranked 4th), the chief executive of the French luxury goods company LVMH, and Amancio Ortega (ranked 6th), who founded retail group Inditex which owns brands such as Zara.

Forbes said 247 people who were on the billionaires list last year have now dropped off. Among them are Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, fashion designers and co-founders of Dolce & Gabbana.

The group chairman of supply chain management company Li & Fung, Victor Fung, is also no longer classed as a billionaire by Forbes, after being on the list for 18 years in a row.

BBC

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Politics

Egypt’s parliament approves extended presidential tenure

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Egypt’s parliament has overwhelmingly approved proposed constitutional changes that would allow Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to potentially stay in office until 2034.

The changes, which must be approved by a referendum to enter into force, would also further authority of the Armed Forces in “maintaining the foundations of the civil state.”

Egypts parliament, which has 596 members, saw 485 votes in favor of the changes. The body is largely made up of supporters of the president. According to The Associated Press, the amendments will be submitted to a committee to finalize the language, then parliament will vote again.

Egyptian human rights groups are expressing alarm. Eleven groups signed a statementsaying that the amendments “effectively serve to destroy the constitutional separation of powers, concentrating all authority into the presidents hands and solidifying his authoritarian rule.”

In 2013, then-Defense Minister El-Sissi led a coup against Egypts first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, following mass popular protests against him. Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, was in office for one polarizing year.

Since then, el-Sissi has launched an unprecedented crackdown on dissent, and rights groups say he has jailed tens of thousands of his political opponents (though he deniesthat Egypt has any political prisoners). He was elected to a second term in 2018, in a race where “six potential candidates were either jailed or dropped out,” as NPRs Jane Arraf reported.

According to Egypts constitution, passed in 2014 after the coup, this term should be his last.

“The President of the Republic shall be elected for a period of four calendar years,” the constitution currently reads. “The President may only be reelected once.”

The amendments would also strengthen the presidents power over the judiciary. For example, it would allow him to appoint the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, the prosecutor general, and other senior position.

Proponents of the changes say they are necessary for Egypts stability.

According to Mada Masr, earlier this month as the proposed amendments were submitted, parliamentary speaker Ali Abdel Aal said: “We are not restricting any of the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, and we are not touching the principle of equality between Egyptians in regards to rights and obligations. …These amendments serve the Egyptian people and the higher interests of the state.”

But for opponents, such as the human rights groups, its another nail in the coffin for Egyptian hopes for democracy following the 2011 ouster of dictator Hosni Mubarak.

“Not only do these individually-tailored provisions flout fundamental legal precepts, they also upend the peaceful rotation of power championed by the Egyptian people in 2011 to prevent another decades-long dictatorial rule similar to that of former President Hosni Mubarak, toppled after 30 years in power,” the groups said.

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