Abdoulaye Wade, president of Senegal has signalled his intentions of making his son a political force in the country by appointing him minister of energy. Wade, 85, is due for reelection in 2012 and has indicated that he will run for a third term. In 2008 the Senegalese assembly voted to extend presidential term limits from 5 to 7 years. It must be nice to be 85 and still have such a promising future ahead of you.
Elizabeth Dickinson at FP asks. Whatever the answer might be one thing is clear: France still has commercial and geopolitical interests in French-speaking Africa and would love to maintain close ties with the region, even if it means propping up misguided dictators who buy homes in the French Riviera while their own people starve.
The BBC adds that “a human rights group has said that some of the troops and leaders should instead be facing trial for war crimes.”
The images of French president Nicholas Sarkozy sitting next to Blaise Compraore, the murderous Burkinabe autocrat who came to power in 1987 after dispatching his predecessor Thomas Sankara to his maker, captured it all.
African nations have finally woken up to the threat of the ever advancing Sahara. The “great green wall of Africa” will be several kilometres wide and stretch from Senegal to Djibouti. Whoever is funding this project should condition cash transfers on need level (aridity, terrain and what not) so we can have a way of measuring state capacity (and thus name and shame the laggards) across the many Sahelian states that will be planting this wall.
On January 16th the government of Chad banned the use of charcoal in the country – without providing any sensible alternatives. Worried about desertification in the arid Central African state, the government announced that it was banning all charcoal making from freshly cut trees. Chadians can still make charcoal from dead wood.
While I appreciate the need to stop the southward spread of the Sahara, I think the government went too far on this one. It is ridiculous that the governmnet of Chad (of all countries) can suddenly wake up and decide that it is time to stop using charcoal fuel and switch to propane – or whatever other alternative for that matter. Banning charcoal use will not stem desertification. Planting trees, having a decent irrigation plan and being serious about population control and smart ways of using scarce water resources will. Merely banning people from using charcoal or firewood will not cut it. The truth of the matter is that the vast majority of Africans still depend on woodfuel for their daily energy needs. Switching to more environment-friendly fuel sources will take time.
I know that the Chadians and the other countries in the Sahel are especially on heightened alert with regard to desertification but this was surely not the way to go. How many Chadians can afford propane? How many Chadians have gas burners? How many Chadians have viable alternatives to charcoal? These are the questions the men in N’djamena should have asked before unilaterally banning the use of charcoal in the country.