Africa in the news: Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana set cocoa prices, emerging powers seek to expand influence in Africa, and health officials pledge to end cholera

Global oversupply of cocoa affects farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana

On October 1, Côte d’Ivoire—the world’s largest cocoa producer—set the price it pays farmers for cocoa during the main harvest season one-third lower than last year’s prices at 700 CFA francs ($1.23) a kilogram compared with 1,100 CFA francs per kg a year ago. Leaders of the national cocoa growers’ association and the National Farmers’ Union for Ivory Coast’s Progress expressed disappointment in the lower price. The government’s decision to cut farmers’ pay reflects the slump in world prices due to global oversupply of cocoa for the second year in a row. According to a Bloomberg survey, world cocoa supplies may surpass demand by 97,500 metric tons in the 2017-2018 season. Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa season opened on October 1, and in Ghana, the world’s second-largest cocoa producer, the season will open in mid-October as the country waits for a tranche of a $1.3 billion syndicated loan to hit the cocoa board’s accounts so that it can pay its farmers. 

Meanwhile in Ghana, President Nana Akufo-Addo announced on Monday at a World Cocoa Day celebration that Ghana would maintain the same price it paid farmers last year for the main harvest season at $1,914 per metric ton, creating a wide gap between prices in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Such a price gap is expected to increase the likelihood of smuggling cocoa from Côte d’Ivoire to Ghana, as traders attempt to fetch higher prices for the beans in the neighboring country. Lambert Kouassi Konan, chairman of the Ivoirian cocoa regulator Le Conseil du Cafe-Cacao, told reporters that they have provided security forces with 15 additional vehicles to increase surveillance of border areas and reduce smuggling.

Turkey and India look to extend their presence in Africa

On Saturday, September 30, Turkey opened its biggest overseas military base in Mogadishu, Somalia that will be used to train over 10,000 Somali soldiers. The base was built at a cost of $50 million and can train and house 1,000 soldiers at a time. The new base and training program are seen as part of a continuing effort to solidify relations with Somalia and establish a presence for Turkey in East Africa. Turkey provided millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to the nation during the 2011 famine that killed an estimated 250,000 people. In 2016, President Tayyip Erdogan opened Turkey’s largest embassy in the world in Somalia. Furthermore, Turkish Airlines has rapidly expanded its presence continent-wide, flying to 52 destinations by the end of 2017—up from 14 just 6 years ago. According to David Shin, a scholar at Chatham House, Turkey’s increased engagement in sub-Saharan Africa is a result of “the region’s growing economic importance to Ankara; its interest in diversifying away from the Middle East; and the apparent desire for influence among sub-Saharan Africa’s large Muslim population.”

In related news, this week India’s new president, Ram Nath Kovind, visited Ethiopia and Djibouti on his first foreign trip. India is certainly looking to raise its profile in Africa, as official in the foreign ministry of India noted, “Africa is chosen as the first destination of president’s overseas visit—an index of the importance attached to the African continent by the current government.” The visit to Djibouti is significant given that China recently opened a naval base in the country, and India and China are seen as competing for influence in the region. India has historic ties to the continent and recent governments have worked hard to revive those relationships, hosting the first ever India-Africa summit in 2011, which was followed up with another one in 2015. India also provides duty-free access to its markets to the least-developed African countries and runs a program to provide concessional loans to governments.

World health leaders pledge to end cholera by 2030

This week, health officials from national governments, the World Health Organization (WHO), aid agencies, and donors made a pledge to end cholera by 2030. They claim to have the tools necessary to put a halt to cholera outbreaks and plan on using said tools to achieve the promise made by the pledge. Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by the intake of food or water contaminated by the vibrio cholerae bacteria and can easily spread in cramped and dirty conditions. However, cholera outbreaks are easily preventable through the provision of adequate water and sanitation.

Yemen is presently facing the largest cholera outbreak in history, with 745,205 cases and 2,119 deaths. Other parts of the developing world continue to experience frequent outbreaks. According to Johns Hopkins University, Ethiopia and Nigeria experience 275,221 and 220,397 cholera cases per year, respectively. Last month, a cholera outbreak killed 500 people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Recently, a cholera outbreak centered in internally displaced persons camps throughout Nigeria’s Borno state claimed 48 lives. An emergency cholera vaccination campaign was then launched to prevent the outbreak from spreading to neighboring Chad and Cameroon.

Contrastingly, many African countries have seen an increase in noncommunicable diseases, such as obesity, in recent years. Urbanization and corresponding lifestyle changes, idleness, and the increased consumption of food rich in salt, sugar, and fat have been driving obesity rates up on the sub-continent, as noted by Quartz Africa. Moreover, multinational fast food chains have been penetrating the developing world. For instance, the American chain KFC has expanded into the Ghanaian market, where its growing middle class indulges in it, according to The New York Times. The New York Times further suggests that Ghana’s obesity problem is becoming increasingly significant: The obesity rate in Ghana has doubled since 1980.