World View: West Africa at Significant Economic Risk as Ebola Panic Intensifies

World View: West Africa at Significant Economic Risk as Ebola Panic Intensifies

This morning’s key headlines from

  • West Africa at significant economic risk as Ebola panic intensifies
  • Ukraine says it partially destroyed Russian military convoy crossing border

West Africa at significant economic risk as Ebola panic intensifies

With travel bans increasing, the Ebola panic is almost reaching the point where West Africa isbeing quarantined and cut off from the rest of the world. Airlines are suspending flights to some West Africancities. The Ebola crisis could also create shortages of food, fueland other supplies because the nearest big port, Abidjan in IvoryCoast, has announced a ban on all ships from the Ebola-affectedcountries Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the three hardest hitcountries. Cross-border markets have been shut down, and several majormining companies have scaled back their operations or postponedexpansion plans. 

With estimates of more than 1,060 deaths and 1,975 infected, the Ebolaoutbreak in West Africa is already the deadliest ever.  The WorldHealth Organization (WHO) says that the size of the epidemic may bewiped out, and some infected people are simply afraid to notify theauthorities of their illness. One health worker was quoted as saying,[because of the non-contamination suits], and everyone is gettingsick, it’s not hard to believe that the Martians are making you sick.” 

These panicked reactions are not only devastating the economies ofWest African countries, they’re also making the problem of stabilizingthe Ebola epidemic more difficult. According to the WHO, “WHO is disappointed when airlines stop flying to WestAfrica. Hard to save lives if we and other health workers cannotget in.”

Nigeria has had eleven cases of Ebola and one death, but panic isspreading rapidly, particularly in the crowded city of Lagos, whereit’s feared that Ebola may be passed from person to person faster thanauthorities can stop it. The crisis is exacerbated by a strike by16,000 of the country’s doctors for better working conditions.Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan on Friday fired the doctors for striking during a medical emergency. 

Nigeria is already facing severe disruptions because of the Boko Haramterrorist group. One government official estimates that “3 millionNigerians are facing ‘serious humanitarian challenges’ because abreadwinner has been killed in the turmoil or they are too scared toplant the crops.” 

Now the Ebola panic is putting the entire country’s economy at risk,according to the Moody’s ratings agency: 

If a significant outbreak emerges in the Nigeriancapital of Lagos, the consequences for the West African oil andgas industry would be considerable. Any material decline inproduction would quickly translate into economic and fiscaldeterioration.

Globe and Mail and Sky News and Vice News and Barrons

Ukraine says it partially destroyed Russian military convoy crossing border

As we reported yesterday, a convoyof Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers crossed the border onThursday evening from Russia into Ukraine through a hole in the barbed wire fenceseparating the countries. This was seen andphotographed by Moscow correspondents of two London papers, theGuardian and the Telegraph

On Friday, Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko bragged that hisforces had destroyed part of that military convoy. There were severaldifferent Russian responses in different reports: 

  • There was no Russian military convoy in Ukraine.
  • The Russian military convoy was in Russia, not in Ukraine.
  • It was a Ukrainian military convoy, successfully attacked by pro-Russia separatist militias in Ukraine.
  • Ukraine’s government is making the claim because it wants to escalate the crisis.
  • The whole report was “some kind of fantasy.”

The Guardian correspondent again visited the site, and found the dirt road to be well-traveled. He alsowitnessed at least 50 armored personnel carriers in the region headedtoward toward the border.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters thatRussia made an “incursion” into Ukraine and that NATO sees acontinuous flow of Russian weapons into the country. 

An interesting interpretation was heard by an analyst from TeneoIntelligence that I heard quoted on CNBC: 

The multiple crossings at Izvarino [border crossing]in daylight and within sight of the international press suggestthat they wanted to be seen, most likely to test the reaction ofthe international community. … The Russian separatists controlseveral border crossings with no media presence. These could haveused by military vehicles instead.

The implication is that Russia wanted the military convoy to be seenand attacked, possibly to provide an excuse for a Russian invasion.The truth is that nobody knows what the Russians are planning, but theincreasing military activity near the Ukrainian border is causing manyto believe that, with the pro-Russian separatists close to losing tothe Ukrainian army, the Russians will take some military actionto protect them.

Meanwhile, Russia’s 280-truck “humanitarian convoy” remains parkednear the Ukrainian border, and anything is possible this weekend.Guardian (London) and Bloomberg and VOA

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, West Africa, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea,Ivory Cost, Nigeria, World Health Organization, WHO,Russia, Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, Anders Fogh Rasmussen,Teneo Intelligence 

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