Africa Media Review for April 10, 2024

Red Sea and Western Indian Ocean Attacks Expose Africa’s Maritime Vulnerability
Attacks on shipping in the Red Sea by the Houthi militia in Yemen have exposed the vulnerability of African maritime security. Since November 2023, there have been 133 reported incidents, including 14 vessels struck by missiles or drones and 18 vessels hijacked by Somali pirates. The disruptions caused by nonstate actors unbounded by international law and with access to stocks of standoff armaments pose fundamental challenges to Africa’s security and economic development…In short, it is African citizens who are paying the price of delays, more expensive consumer goods, disruption to local economic entities, and polluted waterways…The Red Sea maritime crisis demands a recalibration of African maritime security efforts to help keep the routes of trade open, safeguard undersea communications cables, and protect the rule of law. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

‘Fear and Loss’ Multiplies in Sudan Exodus
At least 1.8 million [Sudanese have fled] across the border into neighbouring, South Sudan, Chad, Central African Republic, Egypt and Ethiopia; as well as Uganda. Thousands more are arriving by the day, agency spokesperson Olga Sarrado told journalists at the regular news briefing in Geneva. The war between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and its affiliated militias “has shattered people’s lives, filling them with fear and loss,” Ms. Sarrado said. Over 13,000 people are reported to have been killed, thousands more injured, and attacks on civilians, and conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence continue unabated. “Sudan has experienced the almost complete destruction of its urban middle class: architects, doctors, teachers, nurses, engineers, and students have lost everything,” Ms. Sarrado said. UN News

Sudan’s War Spills into Farming State Hosting Displaced People
Drones hit the Sudanese city of al-Gadaref on Tuesday, eyewitnesses and the local governor said, bringing the country’s devastating war to a calm farming state where almost half a million displaced people have taken refuge. Gadaref is the capital of al-Gadaref State that has remained under military control as the war between the regular army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces nears the one-year mark. The RSF has taken control of the capital Khartoum, neighbouring Gezira state as well as most of the Darfur and Kordofan regions in the west, while the army holds the north and east of Sudan including its main Red Sea port. Eyewitnesses said at least two drones had targeted military installations in Gadaref, which is located just to the east of Gezira, on Tuesday morning. They said they heard explosions as well as anti-aircraft missiles being fired from the ground. Reuters

MK Party Wins Electoral Court Case to Allow Jacob Zuma to Contest Elections
The Electoral Court ruled on Tuesday afternoon that it was granting the MK party leave to appeal and that the objection against Zuma’s candidacy to become a Member of Parliament had been set aside…Zuma is an integral part of the MK party’s campaign as he has drawn large crowds and support for the party, which was officially registered in September 2023. However, his appearance on the party’s candidate list came under scrutiny as Zuma appeared to violate the provision in the Constitution that bars candidates who have received a 12-month or more prison sentence, without the option of a fine, within the last five years. A member of the public objected to Zuma’s nomination and the IEC upheld the objection, leading to the MK party appealing in the matter…In the same court, the MK party also recently defeated the ANC’s bid to have its party registration declared unlawful. Daily Maverick

Liberia Senate Approves War Crimes Court’s Creation
Liberia’s senate on Tuesday backed the establishment of a war crimes court meant to bring overdue justice to victims of serious abuses committed during the West African country’s two civil wars. President Joseph Boakai proposed the resolution, which lawmakers backed during a vote in Liberia’s lower house last month. It passed a second vote in the Senate on Tuesday with the backing of 27 out of 29 senators. Boakai now needs to give his own final approval. The move has been welcomed by activists and civil society groups that have called for more accountability for crimes committed during two civil wars between 1989 and 2003…Once up and running, the court would operate in Liberia in line with international standards, with back-up from international institutions, including the United Nations. It will also handle economic crimes. Reuters

Sunak Welcomes Kagame to No 10 as Rwanda Scheme Hits Fresh Snags
Rishi Sunak has welcomed the Rwandan president to Downing Street amid signs that ministers are struggling to find an airline or housing in Kigali to carry out their flagship deportation plan. The meeting on Tuesday was overshadowed by the former home secretary Suella Braverman’s criticism of fallen expectations over the policy, which aims to forcibly send people seeking asylum 4,000 miles to central Africa. The two leaders discussed the £500m plan before Sunak’s safety of Rwanda bill returns to the Commons on Monday…Government insiders said Sunak and Paul Kagame remained confident that the bill would pass by the end of April after another round of parliamentary ping pong between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and that flights would take off “in the spring”. The Guardian

‘We Would Not Survive without Coffee’: How Rules Made in Europe Put Ethiopian Farmers at Risk
Across Ethiopia, 5 million smallholders depend on growing coffee. Another 10 million workers wash, process and transport the beans. The industry has boomed in recent years, helping drive Ethiopia’s economic growth. But producers say it is at risk from new European legislation – the EU Regulation on Deforestation-free Products (EUDR) – due to come into force in 2025. The EUDR bans the sale of coffee, rubber, cocoa and other products if companies cannot prove that it did not come from deforested land. Environmentalists have hailed it as an historic achievement. Yet Ethiopia’s coffee industry claims the new rules are unfair since almost all Ethiopia’s coffee is grown by poor farmers who own small plots of land and lack the expertise to gather the complex data needed to show compliance…There are fears the cost of compliance could make Ethiopia’s coffee uncompetitive due to its heavy reliance on smallholders. The Guardian

A Moroccan Activist Was Sentenced to 5 Years for Criticizing the Country’s Ties to Israel
An activist who criticized Morocco’s decision to normalize relations with Israel was sentenced to five years in prison, as some of the Arab world’s largest pro-Palestinian protests continue to sweep the country. Abdul Rahman Zankad of Mohammedia, Morocco was arrested in March after posting on Facebook about the Israel-Hamas war and Morocco’s 2020 decision to establish diplomatic ties with Israel, the Moroccan Space for Human Rights said in a statement. A court on Monday found him guilty of insulting a constitutional institution and incitement. He was also fined 50,000 Moroccan dirhams ($5,000). The civil liberty advocacy group, which organizes the legal defense of protesters, called the charges baseless and said the proceedings violated Zankad’s right to a fair trial. AP

Overcrowded ferry capsizes off Mozambique’s coast, leaving at least 98 dead, media reports say
A makeshift ferry overcrowded with residents reportedly fleeing a feared cholera outbreak capsized off Mozambique’s northern coast, killing at least 98 people including children, local media said Monday. The ferry with an estimated 130 people aboard capsized Sunday after it departed the southeastern African nation’s coast for the nearby Island of Mozambique and at least 11 people were hospitalized, state-run Radio Mozambique quoted island administrator Silvério Nauaito as saying…Authorities in Mozambique and neighboring southern African countries have been trying to contain a deadly cholera outbreak that spread in recent months. Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries, has recorded 32 deaths from about 15,000 cholera cases since late last year. AP

Why Is Cholera Killing Thousands in Southern Africa?
Climate change is fuelling a sanitation crisis in southern Africa’s informal settlements as drought pushes more people into cities, creating perfect conditions for the spread of disease and overwhelming government attempts to provide services and support…Southern Africa is highly vulnerable to climate change. Across the region, from Angola to Mozambique, an estimated 24 million people are likely to go hungry in the wake of an El Niño that has led to the driest spells in more than 40 years. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – a body of experts convened by the UN – droughts, floods, storms, and extreme heat are the biggest causes of climate migration, and 70% of climate migrants settle in cities. The same report says an additional 2.5 billion people will be residing in cities by 2050, with informal settlements most at risk as populations outpace the ability of governments to provide basic services…As climate change and population growth drive the expansion of southern Africa’s informal settlements, providing both incentive and infrastructure will be vital in preventing outbreaks of faecal-oral disease. The New Humanitarian

At Least 38 Migrants Die in Shipwreck off Djibouti – U.N. Migration Agency
At least 38 migrants, including children, have died in a shipwreck off the Djibouti coast, the United Nations migration agency said on Tuesday. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said at least six other people were missing and presumed dead, and that 22 survivors were being assisted by the IOM and local authorities. Yvonne Ndege, regional spokesperson for the IOM, said the shipwreck happened about 200 metres off Djibouti and that the boat carrying the migrants had left Yemen around 2 a.m. local time on April 8. It sank about two hours later with around 66 people on board, predominantly from the Horn of Africa region. They were believed to be mostly Ethiopian nationals, she said. Reuters

How Growing Hostility in South Africa Impacts South-South Migration
The “southern route” to South Africa is one of three major migration corridors transporting people out of the Horn of Africa…Tens of thousands of Ethiopians – possibly as many as 80,000 – take the southern route each year. Over the past two decades it has become a culturally embedded tradition in southern Ethiopia, where more than a third of households in Hadiya, and neighbouring Kembata-Tembaro, have at least one son who has made the journey…The police are increasingly profiling Ethiopian business people in shakedowns…African migrants have historically faced a significant degree of hostility in South Africa. The common narrative is that they have come to sponge off the state – from social services to welfare grants – and have brought crime with them. Simultaneously, they are also accused of stealing jobs, in an economy that cannot create enough of them. The evidence, instead, shows that migration is a net positive – like in the rest of the world. The New Humanitarian

ByteDance Shuts Down Its WhatsApp Clone in Africa
ByteDance has shut down LetsChat, an app that was once considered a rival to WhatsApp and Telegram in Africa. The Chinese tech giant pulled the plug on LetsChat on March 23, according to a note on its website…The decision to shut down the app comes after the Beijing-headquartered company spent three years trying to make LetsChat a success in Africa by hiring local teams and investing in promotion. But experts believe the app had little chance of success against WhatsApp, whose popularity on the continent is nearly undefeatable…ByteDance launched LetsChat in March 2021, offering young Africans a data-saving messaging platform. Besides text messaging, the app allowed users to make free voice and video calls, and play in-app games…LetsChat struggled to keep its users engaged, even as its downloads picked up in 2023. Through February, WhatsApp had 500 times as many monthly active users in Nigeria as LetsChat, said [Seema Shah, vice president of research and insight at Sensor Tower]. Rest of World