1. Senegal rejects attempt to toughen anti-gay laws

    A man holds a sign reading 'No to LGBT agenda' during a protest called by religious associations against homosexuality on May 23, 2021, on the Obelisque square in Dakar.
    Image caption: Homosexuality is widely considered unacceptable in Senegal

    A bill introduced in Senegalese parliament meant to toughen existing laws against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people has been rejected.

    Gay sex is already punishable by up to five years in jail.

    The bill would have lengthened the term to a maximum of 10 years and led to a threefold increase in the maximum fines.

    It would also have specifically targeted LGBT and similar activities as crimes.

    The Office of the National Assembly, which stopped the proposed bill from proceeding to the floor, said the current law is clear and severely punishes homosexuality.

    The bill had been initiated by 11 MPs, who said they had the backing of key religious groups.

    Senegal has a 95% Muslim population and homosexuality is widely considered unacceptable.

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  3. Nigeria confirms plan to destroy expired vaccines

    Ishaq Khalid

    BBC News, Abuja

    Nigeria vaccination pass
    Image caption: Uptake of the vaccine remains low

    The authorities in Nigeria have announced that they will destroy close to one million expired doses of Covid-19 vaccines.

    They say the jabs were delivered by international donors just before their expiry date, which did not give them enough time to distribute them around the country.

    This is the first time the Nigerian health authorities have announced the number of vaccine doses to be destroyed.

    The head of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, told reporters that his agency was working with the country’s drug regulator to set a date for the destruction of the expired vaccines.

    The authorities say no expired jabs have been administered in the country.

    So far only 2% of Nigeria's 200 million people has received two doses of the Covid vaccine.

    The authorities now say they will no longer accept vaccines with short-shelf-life.

    In Senegal, health authorities there say at least 200,000 vaccines have expired and another similar number are set to pass their end of of use date by December, the Reuters news agency reports.

    A low uptake of the vaccines has been blamed.

    "The main problem is vaccine hesitation... the number of cases is decreasing. They ask: 'why is it important to get vaccinated if the illness is not there now'?", Ousseynou Badiane, who is in charge of Senegal's vaccine rollout, is quoted as saying.

  4. China pledges one billion Covid jabs for Africa

    Chinese President Xi Jinping (on the screen) delivers his speech during the China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) meeting in Dakar, Senegal,
    Image caption: Mr Xi addressed the meeting via video link

    President Xi Jinping has pledged that China will donate one billion additional coronavirus vaccine doses to Africa.

    Mr Xi said 600 million jabs would be sent directly, while the remainder would be delivered by other means, including through investing in vaccine production sites in Africa.

    China has delivered about 180 million vaccine doses to Africa so far, just under a fifth of them as donations.

    Less than 7% of Africa's population is fully vaccinated. Some countries do now have enough vaccines but hesitancy is a big problem.

    President Xi made the promise during the triennial China-Africa forum which is underway in Senegal.

    He also said Beijing would encourage Chinese companies to invest $10bn (£7.5bn) in Africa over the next three years.

  5. China-Africa conference opens in Dakar

    Nicolas Negoce

    BBC News, Dakar

    Hundreds of delegates are attending the two-day event
    Image caption: Hundreds of delegates are attending the two-day event

    The three-day triennial Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac) conference has officially opened in Senegal's capital, Dakar.

    Delegates from the continent and China are in attendance as well as hundreds of participants.

    The gathering comes amid biting economic and social challenges on the continent fuelled by the Covid pandemic and climate change.

    Ministers and representatives of African countries and China are due to chart a joint response to deal with Covid-19 and unveil other plans that would guide the relationship for the next three years and beyond.

    A communique will be released on Tuesday.

    China's President Xi Jinping is expected to address the delegates via video link, but a high-profile delegation led by China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi is in Dakar.

    Ahead of the conference, Senegal's President Macky Sall praised China, saying its economic success offered lessons and hope to African countries which have "had similar historical experiences".

  6. US secretary of state to visit Kenya and Nigeria

    BBC World Service

    The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken
    Image caption: Antony Blinken will deliver a speech on US-Africa policy

    US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will make his first official trip to Africa next week, visiting Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal.

    The State Department said Mr Blinken would meet the presidents of all three countries, and deliver a speech on US-Africa policy.

    On the first leg of his visit - to Kenya - he's expected to discuss regional security issues such as Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.

    Wider discussions are expected to include climate change and bringing an end to the Covid-19 pandemic.

  7. Top opposition politicians arrested in Senegal

    Two Senegalese opposition figures were arrested as violence broke out over a high-profile court case involving one of them.

    Police officers in the capital Dakar clashed with supporters of Barthelemy Dias and Ousmane Sonko - who are both strong critics of President Macky Sall.

    Hundreds of people accompanied them to the appeals court for a hearing on Dias' conviction for a fatal shooting in 2011.

    He has accused the authorities of sabotaging an attempt to run for city mayor.

    Earlier this year at least 12 people were killed when violence broke out after Sonko was charged with rape. He said the case was aimed at blocking a bid to run for president.

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    Video caption: Meet Siny Samba, a Senegalese entrepreneur who makes baby food from local produce

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  9. BioNTech to open first vaccine hub in Rwanda

    BBC World Service

    A health worker prepares to administer a dose of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine
    Image caption: A health worker prepares to administer a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine

    The German firm, BioNTech, has signed deals with Rwanda and Senegal to build Africa’s first vaccine manufacturing facility based on mRNA technology.

    BioNTech, which with Pfizer created one of the world’s most widely used Covid-19 vaccines, says the plant will have an initial capacity to produce 50 million doses annually. The plant will be built in Rwanda.

    The partners say mRNA vaccines could also be developed to fight other diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis.

    Rwanda’s Health Minister Daniel Ngamije said the goal was to include Africa in networks of scientific innovation and production.

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  11. Six African states invest heavily in spying - report

    Marco Oriunto

    BBC Focus on Africa radio

    Six African countries are investing heavily in the latest surveillance technology to spy on activists, business competitors, journalists, and other governments, a new report says.

    The Institute of Development Studies, which published the report, identified Nigeria as the biggest spender, with more than $127m (£92m) invested in surveillance-related activities and equipment in 2017.

    Egypt, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, and Sudan have also made significant investments on surveillance technology, the report said.

    Internet signal interception, citizens surveillance, and internet eavesdropping often happen despite laws granting the right to privacy of communication and correspondence, it added.

    "Privacy rights in Africa are very well guaranteed in most countries," Tony Roberts, one of the co-authors of the study, told BBC Focus on Africa radio's Bola Mosuro.

    "However, using this surveillance technology, governments are violating those rights," he added.

    National security and economic interests are cited as the most frequent justifications used by the governments to stretch their surveillance power, often in breach of the rights to privacy of private citizens and civil society organisations.

    Egypt is named as one of the countries with the weakest privacy protection laws. Without an independent oversight body, the state is the only "judge, jury and regulator" says the report.

    "To get governments to value and respect the legislation that does exist. It's important that the public are aware of the rights that they have," Mr Roberts said.

  12. Huge investment to develop Africa's infrastructure signed

    An oil ship docked at Senegal's port  Autonome
    Image caption: The $1.7bn project will begin in Egypt, Dakar and Somalia

    A joint investment to modernise logistics infrastructure in Africa has been agreed between the Dubai ports giant DP World and the UK's development finance agency CDC Group.

    The $1.7bn (£1.2bn) investment will initially focus on expanding three ports: Egypt's Ain Sokhna, Senegal's Dakar and Berbera in Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland. All the ports are operated by DP World.

    The partners hope the investment - which they plan to expand to other regions in Africa - will help accelerate inbound and outbound trade for the continent.

    According to CDC, the expansion of the three ports will support five million jobs and add $51bn to total trade by 2035.

    It's expected to benefit 35 million people including those from neighbouring countries.