updated 7:33 AM MST, Nov 17, 2017

VIDEO:Pentagon Chief Visits Djibouti, Sole US Base in Africa

By Carla Babb

Djibouti — U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has visited Djibouti, the tiny east African nation that is home to the United States’ only military base on the continent, in his sweeping tour of the Middle East and Horn of Africa.

Mattis called Djibouti, located on the Bab el-Maned strait, an “important geographic crossroads.” Dozens of commercial and military ships travel through the strategic strip of water every day, and the deep Djiboutian port on the strait is used by the U.S. and French navies and about 10 other nations, according to a U.S. official.

In addition to speaking with French and U.S. troops at Camp Lemonnier on Sunday, Mattis met with the Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh and Minister of Defense Ali Hasan Bahdon.

The base is critical for U.S. exercises and operations on the continent, and U.S. special forces use the facility to conduct counter-terror operations against al-Shabab in neighboring Somalia, according to officials.

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How a Chinese investment boom is changing the face of Djibouti

Projects include US$590 million port and China’s first overseas military base

Africa's first modern electrified railway- the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway - was built by Chinese firms. Photo: Xinhua

A growing influx of Chinese visitors in the small East African nation of Djibouti convinced former fruit and vegetable trader Zhou Yi last year that it was an opportune time to buy the best-known Chinese restaurant in the Djiboutian capital, Djibouti City.

She took over the China Town restaurant in the city’s Heron district, home to many foreign embassies and international non-profit organisations, in October after mulling the purchase for nearly four months.

The 59-year-old from Shandong province, in eastern China, lived in a guest room at the restaurant while making up her mind.

China to further boost military ties with strategic ally Djibouti in the Horn of Africa

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FAO:Famine response and prevention in Northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen

The world faces the largest food crises in 70 years, with more than 10 million people in four countries — northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen — on the brink of famine, and a further 30 million severely food insecure.

Famine has already been declared in parts of South Sudan, where 100 000 people are at risk, and more than 5.5 million people will not have any reliable source of food by July. The current levels of food insecurity in the four at-risk countries reflect continued under investment in agriculture and livelihoods within the wider humanitarian assistance. Conflict and drought are forcing people to abandon their homes and their lands. As agricultural seasons are repeatedly missed and livelihoods abandoned, the humanitarian caseload builds and the number of people on the brink of famine rises. With approximately 80 percent of the affected populations relying on agriculture for their livelihoods, we must invest now in pulling people back from the brink. Often famine starts in rural areas and must be prevented in rural areas – agriculture cannot be an afterthought.

FAO is on the ground, working around the clock in these countries to deliver emergency livelihood assistance to kickstart food production. This assistance includes inputs like crop and vegetable seeds, fishing and dairy kits – which are crucial for providing highly nutritious food. In parts of remote South Sudan, the fishing kits are the only lifeline to food for many families, while in Yemen, dairy kits are helping to provide lifesaving milk for children.

To avert a humanitarian catastrophe in the four countries over the coming months, we need to scale up livelihood support and income opportunities to affected families. Supporting agriculture now is not only investing in food production today, but food security tomorrow http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/FAOFamineresponse%26prevention.pdf

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HALAL FINANCE Kenya aims to become the next global center of Islamic finance

East Africa’s biggest economy is positioning itself to become a regional hub for Islamic finance products. Kenya’s treasury ministry recently unveiled a plan to mainstream Islamic financing as part of an effort to stimulate economic growth, and to help set the sector up as a source of development funding

Finance minister Henry Rotich said on March 30 that the government would propose amendments to the financial laws and issue new regulations to facilitate a Sharia-compliant retirement benefits scheme. It will also amend the public finance management act to provide for the issuance of sukuk, or Islamic bonds.

Islamic finance is based on profit-sharing, and prohibits the collection and payment of interest, or usury. The two-trillion dollar global Islamic finance industry has grown as a mechanism for financing development, including in non-Muslim countries.

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