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Sun-blessed Madagascar turns to solar to reduce energy costs
4 July 2018 - Madagascar's state power utility may become profitable by 2020 as the Indian Ocean island nation builds more solar plants to cut electricity-production costs, Energy Minister Lanto Rasoloelison said. ... Madagascar has large solar-energy potential, with almost all regions of the country receiving more than 2,800 hours of sunshine per year, according to the Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme. (more)

Madagascar tourism numbers up 20 percent y/y - ministry
21 January 2017 - The number of tourists visiting Madagascar increased by 20 percent in 2016, bringing numbers back to visitor levels last seen before a 2009 coup, the Ministry of Tourism said. The tourism sector generated $702 million in 2016, the statement said. Tourism is a key source of foreign exchange for Madagascar. (more)

Madagascar billed as surfing paradise
29 July 2014 - Itching to catch a wave? Try Madagascar. The island nation in the Indian Ocean has become the 86th member of the International Surfing Association as part of a drive to promote the sport in Africa, the California-based association said. Madagascar offers more than 4,800 kilometers (3,000 miles) of coastline that have been largely unexplored by the global surfing community, it said. 'It's world class,' Blair Rogers, a surfing tour operator in southwest Madagascar, said. He described the 'perfect, uncrowded' waves as comparable to those in Indonesia and other top surfing destinations. Madagascar is the 14th country in Africa to become a member of the International Surfing Association, joining Nigeria, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, and other countries on the continent. (more)

Madagascar: US ends restrictions on aid
28 May 2014 - The United States has lifted all remaining restrictions on direct assistance to Madagascar. The US State Department says the move was made in light of the country's successful 2013 elections and installation of a new government earlier this year. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki aid the US provided $55 million to Madagascar in fiscal 2013 for food security and health programmes. (more)

Small steps towards forest conservation in Madagascar
24 April 2014 - An association of tour guides and community members at the Analamazaotra Forest Station, a protected area of rainforest about 150km east of Madagascar's capital, Antananarivo, has embarked on an ambitious reforestation project that is educating local people about the value of preserving the forest as well as generating an income for 400 nearby households. (more)

Madagascar: Tourism best hope for critically endangered lemurs
22 February 2014 - Madagascar's lemurs -- the world's most threatened primate -- could be saved from extinction by eco-tourism, conservationists say. The big-eyed fluffy creatures are unique to the island but their numbers have declined dramatically in recent years. Now researchers have unveiled a survival plan that combines tourism with increased conservation efforts. (more)

UN welcomes validation of final results in Madagascar's presidential poll
19 January 2014 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the validation of the final results of Madagascar's presidential election, and called on the new administration to reach out to the opposition and to lead the country in the interest of all its citizens. Hery Rajaonarimampianina was reportedly announced the winner of the 20 December presidential run-off by Madagascar's electoral court on Friday after attaining 53.5 per cent of the vote. Mr Ban's spokesperson noted that the closely contested election was assessed as 'peaceful and orderly' by international observers. (more)

European, African observers say Madagascar election credible
27 October 2013 - Madagascar's first presidential election since a military-backed coup was free and fair, European Union (EU) and Southern African observers said on Sunday, as early results trickled out two days after the poll. The announcements were a boost for the Indian Ocean island which needs a credible vote to rebuild investors' confidence and win back aid suspended after dissident troops propelled Andry Rajoelina into power in 2009. (more)

Madagascar holds first post-coup vote
25 October 2013 - Residents of the island nation of Madagascar voted Friday in a presidential election they hope will restore security, improve lives and mark the end of political and economic turmoil brought about by a 2009 coup. United Nations officials said polling was 'going well'. (more)

Madagascar votes in first presidential election since 2009 coup
24 October 2013 - The people of Madagascar vote on Friday in a presidential election they hope will end a five-year crisis and rebuild investor confidence to mend an economy crippled since President Andry Rajoelina seized power in a 2009 coup. Presidential hopefuls have crisscrossed the Indian Ocean isle famed for its exotic wildlife and threatened rainforests, making promises of free primary education, better management of mineral resources, and a crackdown on corruption. (more)

Short Summaries of Top Stories

Plague kills 124 in Madagascar, cities most affected: report
25 October 2017 - A plague epidemic in Madagascar has killed 124 people since August in an outbreak that has hit the island's two main cities the hardest, the authorities said on Wednesday, 25 October. Plague is endemic in Madagascar, but the outbreak that has caused 1,192 suspected cases since August is especially worrying because it started earlier in the season than usual and has hit urban rather than rural areas. In addition, two thirds of the cases are of the pneumonic plague, the deadliest form of the disease. (more)

Time is running out for Madagascar - evolution's last, and greatest, laboratory
13 May 2017 - It is a unique evolutionary hotspot home to thousands of plants found nowhere else on Earth. However, Madagascar's special trees, palms, and orchids -- which provide habitats and food for dozens of species of rare lemur and other animals -- are now facing catastrophic destruction caused by land clearances, climate change, and spreading agriculture, scientists will warn this week. (more)

Plague in Madagascar has killed 40 people out of 119 cases: WHO
21 November 2014 - An outbreak of the plague has killed 40 people out of 119 confirmed cases in Madagascar since late August and there is a risk of the disease spreading rapidly in the capital, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday. 'The situation is further complicated by the high level of resistance to deltamethrin (an insecticide used to control fleas) that has been observed in the country,' it added. Plague, a bacterial disease, is mainly spread from one rodent to another by fleas. It is 'one of the most deadly infectious diseases' and can kill people within 24 hours. (more)

Madagscar: Possible palm extinction threatens livelihoods
19 October 2012 - Eighty-three per cent of Madagascar's palm species -- which are a vital source of both food and building materials -- are threatened by extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) latest Red List of Threatened Species, published on 17 October. William Baker, chair of the IUCN's palm specialist group and head of palm research at the Royal Botanic Gardens, in Kew, London, told IRIN that palm hearts are a 'substantial' source of nutrition throughout the world. Palm hearts are low in fat, provide fibre, and are a source of protein, potassium, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, and zinc. 'Our perception is that palm utilization is now unsustainable for many species, and this is compounded by ongoing habitat loss due primarily to slash-and-burn agriculture. Whereas once palm exploitation must have been sustainable, the balance has now tipped as pressure increases on a decreasing area of habitat and remaining palms. So we are in a nasty feedback cycle of people threatening palms, and diminishing palms threatening livelihoods,' Baker said. (more)

Madagascar army mutineers take over military base
22 July 2012 - Madagascar's defence ministry says a group of mutinous soldiers has taken over a military camp near the island-nation's main airport and shot an army officer sent in to negotiate their surrender. Government soldiers surrounded the base and appeared to attack the mutineers by Sunday afternoon. An Associated Press reporter at the site heard exchanges of gunfire. Most flights in and out of Antananarivo's airport were cancelled. Madagascar has been shaken by political turmoil and violence since opposition leader Andry Rajoelina ousted President Marc Ravalomanana in 2009. Rajoelina now leads a unity government charged with preparing for elections next year. (more)

Madagascar: A poor country gets poorer
18 May 2012 - Madagascar, one of the world's poorest countries, has lost about US$400 million in donor support since the 17 March 2009 coup in which Andry Rajoelina, with the support of the military, deposed President Marc Ravalomanana. The political crisis, now in its third year, remains unresolved, preventing donors from reviewing their decision to freeze all aid apart from emergency funding. The African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the regional body, also cannot reinstate trade benefits and lift sanctions. A joint survey by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) found assisted births fell from 51 percent in 2006 to 44 per cent in 2009, and more than half the people living in the drought-prone south reported that financial difficulties prevented them from visiting clinics. (more)

Madagascar security forces fire teargas at protest
10 November 2010 - Security forces in Madagascar's capital fired teargas to disperse a march by members of the opposition on Wednesday, a week before the Indian Ocean island holds a referendum on a new constitution. About a thousand opposition protesters gathered in the capital and tried to march towards a stadium to hold a rally but security forces chased them away. Madagascar has been in political gridlock since March 2009 when dissident soldiers backing then opposition leader Andry Rajoelina stormed one of Antananarivo's two presidential palaces and forced President Marc Ravalomanana into exile. Rajoelina was then named president but regional neighbours branded the takeover a coup, international donors froze aid worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and the African Union later slapped sanctions on the continent's youngest leader. (more)

Madagascar's leader says failed talks were last chance
1 May 2010 - Madagascar's leader said on Saturday the time for talks was over after failed power-sharing negotiations and that he would press ahead with forming a new government on the Indian Ocean island. President Andry Rajoelina ousted Marc Ravalomanana with the help of dissident soldiers in March last year after weeks of mass protests. The two have been at loggerheads ever since as international mediators work to install a unity government. The crisis has hit foreign investment and battered the tourism industry in Madagascar, the world's biggest producer of vanilla and a country with potentially substantial oil and mineral reserves. (more)

Madagascar leader hardens stance after AU sanctions
20 March 2010 - The President of Madagascar has rowed back on concessions made to political rivals in power-sharing talks last year, after the African Union imposed sanctions on the Indian Ocean island. In a statement released on Friday evening, Madagascar's transitional authority said the 'humiliating' sanctions showed the 53-member organization had no willingness to recognize a legitimate popular movement trying to bring about change. The International Crisis Group think-tank said it was time the international community stopped pushing for a power-sharing agreement and help Madagascar come up with a new constitution and hold elections. 'The protagonists appear more concerned about securing the spoils of power than finding a solution in the national interest,' said Charlotte Larbuisson, ICG's southern Africa analyst. (more)

African Union gives Madagascar sanctions ultimatum
19 February 2010 - The African Union gave Madagascar's diplomatically isolated leader an ultimatum on Friday, saying he will face sanctions if previous power-sharing agreements are not in place by 16 March. Since Andry Rajoelina seized power on the Indian Ocean island in a coup last March, international mediators, donor countries and opposition leaders have been pressing for a power-sharing government and a return to democracy. Rajoelina agreed an initial power-sharing deal with three former Presidents in August but they failed to strike a consensus on senior government positions. An extension was signed in Ethiopia in November but there were instant disputes over the divisions of executive power and Rajoelina then snubbed the African Union's latest attempt to strike a compromise in January. (more)


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