Africa Media Review for April 12, 2022

Mali: EU To Reduce Security Training Operations
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said on Monday that the bloc will wind down some of its training of Mali’s forces, casting further doubt on the future of EU and UN peacekeeping missions in the region. Borrell grounded the decision in the lack of guarantees from the transitional Malian authorities that Russian Kremlin-linked mercenaries would not interfere with EU operations. “We have decided to suspend, to stop, certain formations of our training mission in Mali focused on the units of the armed forces of the Malian national guard,” Borrell said in response to a question during a press conference. “There are not enough security guarantees from the Malian authorities over the non-interference of the well-known Wagner Group,” he added. DW

Zelensky Seeks To Address AU on Russia’s Invasion
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has reached out to the African Union (AU) for support against Russia’s aggression and requested to address the continental organisation. Mr Zelensky called Senegalese President Macky Sall on Monday and their conversation touched on an AU statement in February that called for an immediate ceasefire and a return to negotiations. African nations have showed disunity in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Senegal was among 17 African countries that abstained from a vote at the UN on a resolution demanding that Russia ends its military operations in Ukraine. In the telephone conversation, Mr Zelensky informed Mr Sall of Ukraine’s “struggle against invasion and heinous crimes of the Russian aggressor”, according to a tweet. BBC

Mass Arrests Amid Sudan’s Revolution Anniversary Protests
The three-year anniversary processions commemorating the overthrow of the 30-year Omar Al Bashir dictatorship, were held in Khartoum and across other cities in Sudan’s states, on Monday. Coup authorities launched a campaign of arrests across Khartoum North (Bahri) on Sunday, in anticipation of Monday’s anniversary protests. Local resistance committees told Radio Dabanga, security forces attacked a convoy of protestors in Bahri, arrested a number of demonstrators, and confiscated their belongings. In a statement, the Popular Resistance Committee said, one of the people arrested was Anas Abas Taha. The committee also condemned the “arbitrary and illegal arrests” that the coup forces were responsible for. Radio Dabanga

Russian War Worsens Fertilizer Crunch, Risking Food Supplies
Monica Kariuki is about ready to give up on farming. What is driving her off her about 40,000 square feet (10 acres) of land outside Nairobi isn’t bad weather, pests or blight — the traditional agricultural curses — but fertilizer: It costs too much. Despite thousands of miles separating her from the battlefields of Ukraine, Kariuki and her cabbage, corn and spinach farm are indirect victims of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion. The war has pushed up the price of natural gas, a key ingredient in fertilizer, and has led to severe sanctions against Russia, a major exporter of fertilizer. Kariuki used to spend 20,000 Kenyan shillings, or about $175, to fertilize her entire farm. Now, she would need to spend five times as much. Continuing to work the land, she said, would yield nothing but losses. “I cannot continue with the farming business. I am quitting farming to try something else,” she said. Voice of America

Russia’s Nordgold Shuts Burkina Faso Mine Due to Security Threats
Russia’s Nordgold is shutting down its Taparko mine in Burkina Faso and calling force majeure, citing the deteriorating security situation in the West African country, according to a company statement seen on Monday. Burkina Faso, like its neighbors Mali and Niger, is battling armed militants linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group who have carried out attacks killing thousands of people and displacing over 2 million others in the West Africa Sahel region. The gold producer faces increasing threats against its operations and staff each day, Alexander Hagan Mensa, director-general of Nordgold subsidiary Société des Mines de Taparko, said in a statement dated April 9, seen by Reuters. Voice of America

Senior Islamic State-linked commander killed – Nigeria
The Nigerian military says a senior jihadist commander and 19 other fighters linked to the Islamic State group have been killed during a multi-national operation in the north-east of the country. The BBC has been unable to independently verify this news. According to the military, Abubakar Dan-Buduma and the other fighters were killed in a co-ordinated attack not far from the shores of Lake Chad, involving fighter jets from neighbouring Niger and ground troops. In recent months the Islamic State West Africa Province (Iswap) militant group has grown in strength. It has been taken control of parts of rural north-east Nigeria – imposing taxes in areas that used to be held by rival Islamist group Boko Haram. BBC

Nigeria’s Secret Terrorism Trials Raise Human Rights Worries
Nigeria’s decision to conduct the trials of suspects charged with terrorism behind closed doors has been criticized by human rights advocates. The West African nation last week began implementing a new court practice that bans the media and the public from trials involving terrorism charges at the start of the trial of a pro-Biafra separatist leader. Nnamdi Kanu, who holds dual Nigerian and British citizenship, leads the Indigenous People of Biafra campaigning for the secession from Nigeria of the Igbo, Nigeria’s third-largest ethnic group. Kanu’s trial in the capital, Abuja, resumed behind closed doors a day after the nation’s Federal High Court announced that court proceedings for offences of terrorism “shall be held in camera,” prompting concern among many human rights advocates. AP

BlackRock Urged To Delay Debt Repayments From Crisis-Torn Zambia
BlackRock, the world’s largest fund manager, has come under pressure to delay demands for debt interest payments from Zambia to prevent the crisis-hit African country’s finances from spiralling out of control. Anti-poverty campaigners said BlackRock, which manages $10tn (£7.68tn) of assets, was among the private sector lenders that had refused to reduce the interest rate or delay payments on Zambian bonds, unlike governments and international agencies that hold the country’s debts. The charity Jubilee Debt Campaign said it estimated the asset manager, which holds $220m of Zambian sovereign bonds, could generate $180m for clients, mostly in its index-linked exchange-traded funds, if the debts were paid in full. Guardian

Two New Omicron Sublineages Discovered by South African Scientists
South African scientists have discovered two new sublineages of the omicron coronavirus variant, said Tulio de Oliveira, who runs gene-sequencing institutions in the country. The lineages have been named BA.4 and BA.5, he said by text message and in a series of tweets. Still, de Oliveira said, the lineages have not caused a spike in infections in South Africa and have been found in samples from a number of countries. Bloomberg

Southern Africa Storms Fuelled by Climate Change – Study
Climate change fuelled heavier rainfall during a series of storms that battered southern Africa earlier this year, scientists say. Analysis from the World Weather Attribution group also showed that such extreme rainfall was more common now. The results of this study show that the damage inflicted by storms in the region was exacerbated by global warming, researchers said. The region was hit by three cyclones and two tropical storms in six weeks. In total more than one million people were affected by extreme rainfall and floods in the region, with 230 reported deaths, World Weather Attribution (WWA) said. BBC

S. Sudan’s Kiir Says Professional Army Source of Stability
South Sudan President Salva Kiir has said professionalism in command structures of the army, police and security services is key in the stability and defence of the country’s constitution. He made the remarks on Friday last week after receiving the list of armed opposition (SPLM/A-IO) officers nominated for the unified command structure…Speaking at a meeting organized by the Joint Defense Board in Juba on Friday, the presidential adviser on security affairs, Tutkew Gatluak Manime expressed the government’s readiness to expedite the formation of the unified command structure. Sudan Tribune

Crypto Struggles for Legitimacy in Africa Despite Growing Use
Cryptomania is sweeping the continent faster than anywhere in the world, with transaction volumes growing by 1,200% between July 2020 and 2021, according to Chainalysis, a blockchain data platform. In Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, one in three people have already reported using crypto, making it one of the largest crypto market by users worldwide. Last year, Kenya was ranked top globally in terms of peer to peer crypto trade, while Nigeria saw a meteoric rise in crypto use despite a ban. In Africa, the rapid adoption rates are being fueled by a young population that views virtual currencies as a safer counterbalance to their over-inflated fiat currencies. Quartz

Ghana: To Support Ukraine’s Armed Forces, Popular ‘Coffin Dance’ Meme Auctioned for $1 Million
The world-famous and supremely viral ‘Coffin Dance’ meme has been auctioned as an NFT (non-fungible token) for 327 Ethereum worth $1.04 million. On Saturday, the winning bid was announced on Twitter first by a user named Luke360. “327 ETH winning bid!!! $1,047,806. Congrats to @nanaotafrija the bidder,” he tweeted. The video, which shows Ghanaian pallbearers dancing while carrying a coffin, went viral during COVID-19. The pallbearers will donate 50% of the proceeds from auction to a Ukrainian charity and their friends in Ukraine, who lost their income after Russian invasion. The meme was released by the lead pallbearer, Benjamin Aidoo, and Matthew “DigiNeko” Ordrick, who uploaded the video on YouTube. India Times



Photo: Adam Jones