Along with desert fighting in the sub-Saharan Sahel region against government forces, terror groups brimming with arms after Libya’s breakup have struck hotels in capital cities throughout the eight-country French West Africa Economic and Monetary Zone (WAEMU), a grouping with a common central bank and currency, the CFA Franc pegged to the euro.

Cote d’Ivoire beach resorts outside Abidjan were the latest targets, following assaults in Burkina Faso and Mali killing international aid workers and business executives. These countries are enmeshed in their own violent political conflicts, putting the priority on internal as well as external security. But their economic and financial agendas are also urgent and call for “strong resolve”, according to the International Monetary Fund’s March Article IV report. Read more

Following a decade in which Chinese largesse has helped to transform Africa’s prospects – and challenged the supremacy that western companies once enjoyed over the continent’s natural resources – Beijing has sent word to Washington that the world’s two biggest economies might combine their efforts to generate some much-needed electricity in one of the poorest.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, an expanse the size of western Europe that perennially ranks among the worst countries in which to do business, has known little but conflict and penury for decades. World Bank-backed plans to build a third dam at Inga are part of a broader vision for a dam complex capable of generating 40,000MW – twice the size of the Three Gorges dam in China. Read more

Lagarde with Henry Rotich, Kenyan finance minister

IMF boss Christine Lagarde concludes a trip to Africa trip on Friday, continuing her tradition of starting the new year visiting one of the world’s fastest growing continents. For 2014, she chose Kenya and Mali, two very different economies on either side of Africa. Read more

No-one likes a large tax bill, especially in arrears.

London-listed Randgold and Mali’s government are heading for international arbitration at the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes over a disagreement over around $60m in tax connected to Randgold’s Loulo gold mine. Read more

A multinational from Mali sounds like a contradiction in terms. But the Azalai Hotels chain is just that.

Businessman Mossadeck Bally got into hotels 20 years ago. He now presides over a chain of six landmark properties in four countries, with a sheaf of expansion plans. He’s not yet Africa’s Conrad Hilton. But he has built a thriving group recently valued at over €60m, employing 800 people in some of the world’s poorest states. Read more

Randgold chief executive Mark Bristow has criticised a “disturbing” tendency among African governments to increase taxes and regulations on mining investors, as the company disputes its tax bill with the Malian government.

The chief executive of the FTSE 100 gold mining company, which has operations in Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ivory Coast made his statement at the Mining Indaba conference currently taking place in Cape Town. He claimed that revisions to mining laws risked deterring investment on the continent. Read more

Mali’s economic isolation is helping west African rated sovereigns avoid revisions to their creditworthiness, said Standard & Poor’s in a note released on Thursday night covering Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia

FDI and portfolio flows between Mali and its neighbours are small and regional capital markets are underdeveloped. Trade and investment linkages are weak due to tariffs, poor infrastructure, low incomes and inefficient customs procedures. Read more

By Philippe de Pontet and Riccardo Fabiani of Eurasia Group

The investor and geopolitical impacts of the French-led intervention against Islamist militants in Mali will reverberate far beyond the country’s porous borders. Indeed they already have, as the grisly kidnapping of dozens of expatriates in BP’s southern Algerian gas field has shown.

Mali will continue to be the epicenter of combat, casualties, and French preoccupation, but the real risks to multinationals and foreign citizens will play out elsewhere in a vast region that spans North Africa, West Africa and the largely ungoverned Sahel which lies at crossroads of the two. Read more

The conflict in Mali has intensified following the onset of a major French military intervention and promises by Islamists to retaliate against western targets across the region. What might be the economic spillover effects of the conflict?

Mali may not play an integral role in the world economy, but many of its neighboring countries do as suppliers of key petrochemicals and minerals – so the potential for disruption from the conflict is more significant than it might at first seem. Read more

Mali, Africa’s third biggest gold producer behind South Africa and Ghana, has rapidly ascended the list of Sahelian countries thought to be succumbing to al-Qaida linked militants. The north of the country remains under rebel Tuareg control after the bungled coup in March.

But according to the head of one gold miner, many countries are now issuing clumsy nationwide travel bans that are hurting the mining industry in the peaceful south. Read more

West Africa’s mobile phone and data markets are often seen as bright spots in otherwise turbulent economies. But a top regulator in the region says there are still many issues to address before declaring victory in modernising the sector.

Governments, operators and investors need to move beyond the “euphoria” of high penetration rates and realise that ICT (information and communications technology) is about more than having a mobile phone, says Nnamdi Nwokike, executive secretary of the West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (Watra). Read more

Crisis? What crisis? African gold miner Randgold Resources shrugged off concerns over the political situation following the coup in Mali in March as it delivered first-quarter profits which more than doubled that achieved in the same period last year.

However profits slipped when compared with the previous quarter as production fell to 165,000 ounces in the three months to March – lower than the quarter to December but in line with previous guidance which is expected to see annual production increase from to between 825,000 and 865,000 ounces this year. Randgold produced 696,000 ounces of gold in 2011 and trebled profits. Read more