Africa Media Review for September 2, 2016

Will Africa Suffer Zika’s Bite?
A major concern surrounding Brazil’s hosting of athletes from 199 countries and territories for the Olympic Games was the potential risk for the further spread of the Zika virus. It also raised the question of what might happen if Zika spreads eastward, across the Atlantic Ocean to Africa. The virus has been linked to a highly increased chance of birth defects—notably microcephaly—as well as a slight increase in the chance of patients developing the extremely rare Guillain-Barr syndrome, a disorder that causes the body’s immune system to attack the nervous system. A recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) risk assessment of potential Zika outbreaks following the Olympics found that Chad, Djibouti, and Eritrea are among the four countries where increased risk is “uniquely attributable” to their travel to the Games. So what exactly are the chances that Zika will spread in Africa, and what threats would it present? Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Zika Outbreaks Most Likely to Hit Eight Countries in Asia, Africa
The worsening Zika outbreak in Singapore and its potential to spread elsewhere in Asia and beyond is rapidly raising alarms among health experts. Singapore has at least 151 confirmed cases, authorities reported Thursday, with two involving pregnant women. Neighboring Malaysia also confirmed that a 58-year-old woman who recently visited her Zika-infected daughter in Singapore had been diagnosed with the disease. The developments came as a new study released Thursday identified eight countries in Asia and Africa that researchers say are at the greatest risk of Zika virus transmission. The countries — India, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Nigeria, Vietnam, Pakistan and Bangladesh — all have hot and humid climate conditions; the primary type of mosquitoes that spreads the virus; a high volume of travelers returning from Zika-affected areas in the Americas; and large, dense populations. And several have limited health resources. The Washington Post

1,000 Arrests in Gabon Post-Vote Violence
Police arrested 1,000 people as security forces fanned out across Gabon’s capital Thursday after a night of riots and looting that erupted when President Ali Bongo was declared winner of disputed polls. Thousands of angry protesters poured onto the streets of Libreville late Wednesday, accusing the government of stealing the election after Bongo won a second term by a razor-thin margin over rival Jean Ping. His victory is set to extend the Bongo family’s almost 50-year rule over the small oil-rich nation. Gunfire crackled across the city and plumes of smoke billowed from the torched parliament building as protesters clashed with heavily armed security forces. The East African

Helicopter ‘Bombs’ Gabon Opposition HQ After President Bongo Claims Re-election by 5,594 Votes
Gabon’s opposition leader accused the regime of “bombing” his headquarters and killing two people on Thursday after President Ali Ben Bongo claimed re-election by a tiny margin of 5,594 votes. Jean Ping, who lost the presidential election by a whisker, at least according to official results, said that a helicopter had then attacked his party’s offices. He disputed the election outcome, saying: “Everybody knows that I won.” Mr Bongo took over the presidency after the death of his father, Omar, who had ruled Gabon for almost 42 years. Mr Ping told Reuters news agency that he had been cheated of victory in a rigged contest. “The (Bongo) family are repeating the same scenario for almost half a century. The opposition can win the elections but they have never had access to power,” he said. The Telegraph

Gabon Election 2016: Jean Ping Demands a Recount
Gabonese opposition leader Jean Ping has demanded a recount after incumbent President Ali Bongo was declared winner of a knife-edge presidential election in the West African nation. Loud explosions and gunfire could be heard in the Nkembo neighbourhood of the capital Libreville on Thursday, witnesses said, as security forces clashed with angry Ping supporters. Speaking to Al Jazeera from Libreville, Ping said the result was “a joke”. “Everybody inside and outside the country knows that I’m the winner. There is no doubt about that. All the European observers know that,” Ping said. “That man [Bongo], I believe, is used to cheating, always. And the population is not accepting this type of remake of cheating every seven years,” the opposition leader added. Al Jazeera

France Calls on Gabon to Release Vote Count Details
France on Thursday called on the Gabon government to release details of local vote tallies after the opposition said President Ali Bongo’s election victory was rigged. “The election result must be perfectly clear and transparent,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on RMC radio, adding that the election results should be published bureau by bureau. Bongo won 49.80 percent of votes, compared with 48.23 percent for his main rival Jean Ping, with a turnout of 59.46 percent, according to results announced region by region by Interior Minister Pacome Moubelet Boubeya. Reuters

Vote Rigging: How to Spot the Tell-Tale Signs
Gabon’s opposition says it was cheated of victory, after official results showed a turnout of 99.93% in President Ali Bongo’s home region, with 95% of votes in his favour. Elizabeth Blunt has witnessed many elections across Africa, as both a BBC journalist and election observer and looks at six signs of possible election rigging.  BBC

New Regional Cyber Security Centre Set for Rwanda
Rwanda is seeking $1.5 million for the construction of a cyber-security centre that will coordinate investigations in eastern Africa against cybercrimes and cyber-enabled crimes such as terrorism, trafficking and money laundering. “Cybercrime is a major threat affecting all nations alike, requiring unity of effort. Rwanda’s regional cybercrime centre being established in Kigali will help enhance operational, capacity building and rapid responses,” Rwanda’s Inspector General of Police Emmanuel Gasana said adding that the centre will also be connected to other global cybercrime centres in Lyon and Singapore. He was speaking on Wednesday during the 18th Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (EAPCCO) annual general meeting in Kigali. President Paul Kagame, speaking during the opening session, called on the EAPCCO member states to collaborate more and avert ‘real dangers’ to development paused by cybercrimes. The East African

Clashes Erupt in Kinshasa over Election Talks
Police in the Democratic Republic of Congo have fired tear gas to disperse a rally in capital Kinshasa to protest about talks between opposition parties and the government on a delayed presidential election. Young protesters, opposed to the dialogue, threw rocks and set fire to tyres on Thursday in front of the headquarters of the Union for the Congolese Nation (UNC) and Labour Alliance for Development (ATD) parties, whose presidents are participating in the negotiations with President Joseph Kabila. Kabila’s opponents accuse him of stalling the vote to cling on to power, a charge he denies. Some protesters chanted on Thursday: “We’re going to burn the headquarters of Kamerhe. Kamerhe is a traitor,” in reference to UNC president Vital Kamerhe, who will lead the opposition delegation at the talks. Al Jazeera

Zimbabwe Police Ban Protests in Capital for Next 2 Weeks
Zimbabwe’s police are banning demonstrations in the capital for the next two weeks, a day before a planned protest by the opposition. A notice issued by police cites a lack of manpower to prevent public disorder. It says demonstrations will be allowed in Harare only after September 16. It says anyone taking part in protests before then could be imprisoned for up to a year. The capital has been rocked by weeks of near-daily protests over a plummeting economy, allegations of corruption and President Robert Mugabe’s decades-long rule. News 24

Zim Teachers Told to Reapply for Jobs – Report 
The Zimbabwe’s government has reportedly ordered that all primary and secondary school teachers reapply for their positions as it tries to get rid of ghost workers. According to New, the ministry of Primary and Secondary Education urged all the teachers to submit their Curriculum Vitaes (CVs) before schools reopened on September 13. The teachers claimed that they were called by their school authorities about the recent requirements. Some also claimed that they were told that the new government requirements were aimed at addressing illicit government spending on ghost workers. However, the teachers feared that the move could also see thousands of teachers being axed from their positions, as the government was trying to lower its wage bill. News 24

As Somalia’s Capital Tries to Relax, Security Force Weakens
On a recent afternoon, the lobby of one of Mogadishu’s most popular hotels was nearly empty, a stark contrast to the days when one could hardly find a seat. “We have lost over 60 percent of our customers in the past three months because of the attacks on hotels,” said manager Ali Hassan. Elsewhere in town, Mohamed Timir smoked a shisha pipe at his apartment, missing his favorite hangout but saying, “I would rather stay at home.” War-weary Somalis are trying to relax and rebuild their country after decades of violence, but the homegrown Islamic extremists al-Shabab keep striking at the heart of its seaside capital, killing scores of people so far this year. On Tuesday, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden truck near the gate of the presidential palace, killing at least 12 people. VOA

Once Thriving Rwanda-Burundi Border Withers
“Before, at this time of year, we imported beans from Burundi but now they say they don’t want to sell their crops to ‘the enemy’,” said Evariste Ndikumana, a trader on the Rwandan side of the border. Worsening relations between Burundi and Rwanda mean the once-bustling border town of Akanyaru is suffering, hitting the economies of both countries. Always awkward neighbours, Rwanda and Burundi have fallen out since a domestic political crisis enveloped Burundi in April last year, while spiteful policy-making in Bujumbura has made a bad situation worse. In Akanyaru, bored traders and mobile phone scratchcard vendors kill time on a low wall beneath a shady awning. The nearby pavement cafes are deserted and the brand new covered market is empty. The heaving lines of travellers that once crowded the immigration offices and the long queues of vehicles are a thing of the past. Politics is to blame, say the idle traders. Times Live

Mystery Killers Spread Terror, Fuel Tensions in East Congo
When the men with machetes came to Maseka Alexandra’s thatched mud-hut on the edge of the Congolese town of Beni her age may have been the only thing that saved her. Clad in military uniforms, they called her “mama” and asked where her husband was, then left, the 55-year-old recalled in an interview. Moments later, screams filled the neighborhood and people fled as more than 50 men and women were hacked to death, including one of Alexandra’s two sons and her brother-in-law. “They all look alike,” she said of the assailants as she sat outside her sister’s home near the town center, a purple blanket draped over her frail shoulders. “I don’t know whether they were government or rebel forces — when I look at their uniforms, they are all soldiers.” The Aug. 13 attack was the latest in a series of raids that have claimed more than 500 lives in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo since 2014, thwarting United Nations-backed efforts to restore stability to a region rich in timber, coltan, tin and gold that’s home to more than 60 rebel groups. Bloomberg

Boko Haram ‘Set to Return Chibok Girls, Ready for Peace’
Boko Haram militants are reportedly believed to be ready for talks with the Nigerian government, a development that could lead to the freedom of the kidnapped Chibok girls. According to The Nation, Hajiya Aisha Wakil, a woman said to be close to the militants, revealed that the group was ready for dialogue. She said the group’s leadership could soon make a pronouncement on their plan for the girls. “I think they might post some information on YouTube within 24 hours,” she was quoted as saying. “…They have now agreed to come out and discuss with the government and bring back the girls. I am for the Chibok girls and all the captives. They are ready for peace. This is what they told me,” Wakil was reported as saying. News 24

Malnutrition Rates in Nigeria “Horrifying”
The world may have finally woken up to the child hunger emergency in northeastern Nigeria, but the latest data shows, if anything, a deepening crisis. Levels of Global Acute Malnutrition recorded in July and August were well over the 15 percent threshold deemed “critical”, and, in some cases, higher than 50 percent, meaning more than half the children surveyed suffered from moderate or severe acute malnutrition. In a special report on the “possibly deteriorating” situation in the states of Borno and Yobe, FEWS NET, a network set up by USAID to provide early warning on famine and food insecurity, said surveys and screenings indicated GAM rates “ranging from 20 to nearly 60 percent”. IRIN

South Africa to Give Free HIV Treatment to All Infected
South Africa said Thursday it will now provide free treatment to all people infected with HIV, regardless of the condition of their immune system. The country leads the world in infections. Before the announcement by the country’s health department, people were eligible for free treatment based on a certain measure of their white blood cells, which fight infection. “This new policy extends this to all people living with HIV,” the department said. The change is based on World Health Organization guidelines adopted in late 2015 after it was found that treating those with HIV as early as possible improves their health and prolongs their life. South Africa has one of the world’s largest treatment programs, with over 3.4 million people receiving HIV medication. The United Nations has said some seven million people in South Africa were believed to be infected with HIV in 2105. The Washington Post

Kenya and Rwanda Sign EU Trade Deal as Tanzania and Uganda Stay Out
The Industry, Trade and Cooperatives ministry said Thursday that trade ministers for Kenya and Rwanda had signed the EAC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in Brussels, Belgium. The ministry said the deal was pursuant to the East African Community (EAC) Council decision earlier in the year for the EAC to sign the trade agreement with the EU. “This signals a start of the EAC Partner States securing the Duty Free Quota Free market access to the EU,” the statement reads in part. The trade ministry said the signing of the EPA sends strong signals to the EU on the EAC Partner States commitment to the EPA. On Wednesday, Kenya’s Trade Minister Adan Mohamed made an appearance at the EU Parliament where the matter to lock out Kenya from the EU market after 1st October 2016 was being discussed. The Standard

Egypt’s economy: Of Bread, Bribes and Fungus – A Stupid Policy from an Incompetent Government
When Egypt, the world’s biggest importer of wheat, signalled last year that it would begin enforcing a ban on shipments of the grain with even trace amounts of ergot, a common fungus, it roiled the markets. Egypt, like most countries, had allowed grain with up to 0.05% ergot—a harmless level. The new standard would be nearly impossible to achieve, said suppliers, who proceeded to boycott the state’s grain tenders and raise prices. Within months, Egypt had to backtrack. Yet on August 28th the government reimposed its zero-tolerance policy on ergot, no doubt hoping that doing the same thing again will produce a different result. This is after a UN study found that the fungus posed no risk to Egyptian crops. Instead, the government is relying on its own group of pseudo-scientists, who have disregarded decades of evidence to reach the opposite conclusion. All but one supplier boycotted a state tender on August 31st. There is perhaps no better example of the Egyptian government’s incompetence than its handling of wheat. The state buys millions of tonnes of the stuff each year from local and international suppliers. Subsidies aim to encourage Egyptian farmers to grow more of it. The government then sells loaves to the masses at sub-market prices. The Economist

Mark Zuckerberg Has Made a Surprise Visit to Nairobi to Learn About Mobile Money
On his surprise tour of tech hubs in Africa, Mark Zuckerberg has made a pit stop in Nairobi. Announcing his arrival on Facebook, he described talking with entrepreneurs working out of the tech space, the iHub, and dining on ugali and tilapia with Kenya’s cabinet secretary of information and communications. “I’m here to meet with entrepreneurs and developers, and to learn about mobile money—where Kenya is the world leader,” he wrote. Zuckerberg’s unannounced tour, his first time in sub-Saharan Africa, is a sign of his growing focus on the continent. He arrives after a two-day visit to Lagos, Nigeria, where he visited an accelerator, met with startup founders, and went jogging. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative founded by Zuckerberg and his wife, invested $24 million in Andela, a Lagos start-up that trains and outsources local software developers. Facebook’s campaign, to bring free internet to the poor, is also heavily focused on Africa. Quartz