Africa Media Review for April 13, 2022

Debunking the Malian Junta’s Claims
[Infographic] The Malian military junta has justified its seizure of power by claiming it is uniquely able to provide security, enhance justice, and return the country to democracy. But the junta’s record shows that it is taking Mali backward on each of these goals and toward entrenched military rule. Since taking power in August 2020, violence has spread and intensified across Mali. Tellingly, extremist violence has been higher in every quarter since the junta’s power grab than in any quarter prior to the coup. After ignoring the internationally recognized 18-month transition timeline, the junta has indicated it intends to remain in power for another 5 years. Facing dissent, the junta has intimidated journalists and arrested opposition and civil society leaders who question the junta’s legitimacy. The junta’s actions reveal an agenda of rehabilitating the image of military rule with the aim of returning Mali to extended authoritarian state—and the dark decades of its past. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

South Sudan President Kiir Integrates Rival’s Officers Into Army
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has ordered military officers loyal to his vice president, Riek Machar, to be officially integrated into a unified command of the army, state media has said. The move announced on Tuesday is a central pillar of the peace process in the Horn of Africa nation. Kiir and Machar’s forces signed a peace agreement in 2018 that ended five years of civil war. But implementation has been slow and the opposing forces have clashed frequently over disagreements about how to share power. Fighting has flared in recent weeks. Al Jazeera

East African Oil Pipeline Hits the Headwinds
Climate activists are urging more banks and insurers not to back the controversial $5 billion East African Crude Oil Pipeline that is primed to transport oil from the Hoima oilfields in Uganda to the Tanzanian coastal city of Tanga. Influential climate activists Vanessa Nakate and Hilda Nakabuye have lent their support to opponents of the pipeline citing the need for Africa to stay away from fossil fuels. The growing pressure mounted by environmental groups, under the banner #StopEACOP, has led to a growing list of banks and insurers quitting the oil pipeline project. AP

Special US Envoy to Horn of Africa Reportedly Stepping Down
The special U.S. envoy to the Horn of Africa is reportedly stepping away from the post with the region engulfed in political and humanitarian crises. David Satterfield is resigning just three months after his appointment, according to unnamed current and former officials who spoke to Foreign Policy magazine. Satterfield replaced veteran U.S. diplomat Jeffrey Feltman, who served as special envoy to the Horn of Africa for less than a year on the job. The magazine said Deputy Special Envoy Payton Knopf will take over the role on an interim basis. The magazine said a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department refused to confirm Satterfield’s departure and why he is stepping down. Voice of America

Germany Seeks New Path in the Troubled Sahel
After visiting Mali on Tuesday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s second stop on her visit to West Africa takes her to Niger on Wednesday. The tour comes as both states face crises of instability and terrorist activity. On the minister’s agenda are government talks in the capitals of Bamako and Niamey, as well as visits to soldiers of the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA and the European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM). The main topic of the talks is whether the deployment of German troops in Mali will be continued as part of these missions. DW

Mali Helicopter Fired ‘Close To’ UK Peacekeepers: London, UN Source
A Malian army helicopter fired several rockets “close to” British members of a UN peacekeeping force in the country, the UK defence ministry and UN said Tuesday in the first such incident of its nature. The incident was the first of its kind between Mali, newly backed by Russian forces, and UN peacekeepers, a UN source told AFP on condition of anonymity. “We are aware of a recent incident in Mali in which rockets were fired by a Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) helicopter close to a detachment of UK personnel,” a defence ministry spokesman said in a message to AFP. “All UK personnel are safe and accounted for, and the circumstances surrounding this incident are being investigated,” he added. Barrons

Nigeria: Kaduna Most Hit As Attacks on Power Plants, Rail, Airports Peak
Power and rail infrastructure are the most attacked assets in Nigeria in the last three years. This was disclosed in a report by a socioeconomic research firm, SBM intelligence, yesterday, titled: ‘Attacks on infrastructure in Nigeria.’ According to the report, an overwhelming majority of attacks on infrastructural installations since 2019 by non-state actors occurred in the North. The report comes as the Federal Government blamed last weekend’s national grid collapse on an act of vandalism on a transmission tower on the Odukpani-Ikot Ekpene 330KV double circuit transmission. Guardian

Nigerian Police: Why Improving Public Trust Has Proven Difficult
Attempts have been made to bridge the trust gap between the police and the public. These include community policing and the use of complaint channels. But there hasn’t been much of an effort to assess what the police and the public in Nigeria think of the interventions that were intended to improve the relationship. We conducted a review of studies in this area since 2010 and found several themes: scepticism and mistrust in the police, unfair treatment of people by the police, perceived ineffectiveness of community policing interventions. The findings could help inform policies aimed at improving police effectiveness and public confidence in the police. Public support is particularly important in view of the fact that the police have limited personnel. DefenceWeb

EU Turns to Nigeria As Alternative to Russian Oil and Gas
[Video] In tonight’s edition: The EU turns to Nigeria as it looks for alternative suppliers of oil and gas. The bloc is trying to strengthen its ties to Africa’s top petroleum producer as Europe tries to wean itself off Russian resources. Also, dozens have died as extreme floods hit KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa. And Ethiopian researchers are hoping that a local staple known as the false banana could offer a way to tackle food shortages. France24

Gulf of Guinea Piracy Down
Just seven piracy incidents were recorded in the Gulf of Guinea, widely seen as the world’s piracy hotspot, in the first quarter of this year. This is “welcome” said the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB), adding worldwide nearly half of the 37 reported incidents to date this year were in south-east Asian waters. “Sustained efforts are however needed to ensure the continued safety of seafarers in the West African region that remains dangerous, as evidenced by the hijack of a product tanker off the coast of Ivory Coast on 24 January, during which all 17 crew were taken hostage. Reports of armed robberies have also been received within the anchorage waters of Angola and Ghana,” the latest IMB statement has it. DefenceWeb

South Africa’s Durban Area Hit by Heavy Floods, 45 Dead
Prolonged rains and flooding in the Durban area of South Africa have claimed the lives of at least 45 people, damaging the port, major highways and surrounding areas in KwaZulu-Natal province, according to local officials. South Africa’s military has been deployed to Durban and the surrounding eThekwini metropolitan area on Tuesday to assist with rescue operations as residents flee flooded areas. Some people have been swept away by surging waters, say officials. Durban port, the largest and busiest shipping terminal in sub-Saharan Africa, has been inundated with floodwaters that carried away shipping containers and left them in a jumbled pile. AP

Botswana Detects New Coronavirus Variant
A new variant of Covid-19 discovered in Botswana is believed to be a mutation of the Omicron variant first detected in southern Africa late last year. The Botswana Ministry of Health and Wellness are watching a variant called Omicron BA.4 and BA.5, which has already been detected in three other countries and in four people in Botswana. All four cases are currently being followed up to gather more information on the potential impact on the spread and severity of the disease. AfricaNews

‘Food Diplomacy’: EU Plans To Counter Russia in MENA, Balkans
The EU aims to address rising wheat and fertiliser prices and expected shortages in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and the Balkans with “food diplomacy” to counter Russia’s narrative on the impact of its Ukraine invasion. Food insecurity is causing “resentment” in vulnerable countries in these regions, while Moscow portrays the crisis as a consequence of Western sanctions on Russia, one European Union diplomat said. Al Jazeera

Food Crisis Inches Toward Record High in West, Central Africa
An estimated 250 million people in Africa lack access to daily food, with the number impacted in west and central Africa expected to reach a record high. Officials and aid groups from more than 50 African countries meet this week in Equatorial Guinea to discuss ways of improving the continent’s agricultural food systems. The U.N. World Food Program says the number of people affected by the ongoing food crisis in west and central Africa has quadrupled over the last three years, rising from 10.7 million in 2019 to 41 million today. Countries in the Horn of Africa are also experiencing one of their worst food crises following three consecutive poor rainy seasons. Voice of America



Photo: Adam Jones