Africa Media Review for April 15, 2024

World Paid Little Attention to Sudan’s War for a Year. Now Aid Groups Warn of Mass Death from Hunger
Sudan has been torn by war for a year now, ever since simmering tensions between its military and the notorious paramilitary Rapid Support Forces exploded into street clashes in the capital Khartoum in mid-April 2023…[R]elief workers warn Sudan is hurtling towards an even larger-scale calamity of starvation, with potential mass death in coming months….But the international community has paid little attention. The U.N. humanitarian campaign needs some $2.7 billion this year to get food, heath care and other supplies to 24 million people in Sudan – nearly half its population of 51 million. So far, funders have given only $145 million, about 5%, according to the humanitarian office, known as OCHA…Food production has crashed, imports stalled, movement of food around the country is hampered by fighting, and staple food prices have soared by 45% in less than a year, OCHA says. The war wrecked the country’s healthcare system, leaving only 20 to 30% of the health facilities functional across the country, according to MSF. AP

Top Diplomats Meet in Paris to Mobilize Aid for Sudan, Wrecked by War and on the Brink of Famine
Top diplomats and aid groups are meeting Monday in Paris to drum up humanitarian support for [Sudan] to prevent further collapse and misery…The United States and Saudi Arabia initially led efforts to find a negotiated way out of the conflict. But the efforts didn’t succeed, and since October the fighting has been overshadowed by the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, which is threatening to expand to a broader regional conflict…The conflict has also been marked by widespread reports of atrocities including killings, displacement and rape, particularly in the area of the capital and the western region of Darfur…Nearly 9 million people have been forced to flee their homes either to safer areas inside Sudan or to neighboring countries, according to the United Nations. AP

Sudan: RSF Seizes Control of Strategic North Darfur Town, Mellit
The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) gained control of the main headquarters of the joint force in Mellit of north Darfur state on Sunday following heavy clashes broke out between armed movements and the paramilitary forces…With the capture of Mellit, the RSF has effectively gained control of all areas north of El Fasher. North Darfur’s strategic hub, Mellit, sits just 60 kilometres from El-Fasher. This border town plays a crucial role in the region. It acts as a vital checkpoint for humanitarian aid deliveries to Darfur, designated by the government as a crossing point on the key Al-Dabba Al-Fasher road. Mellit also serves as a gateway for Libyan traffic and boasts one of the largest customs points in all of Darfur. Sudan Tribune

National ID Card Issue Hangs over Planned South Sudanese Elections
Since gaining independence in 2011, South Sudanese residents have been working to build their country, the world’s youngest nation. However, many citizens fear a technicality — the lack of a required National Identification Card — may block them from participating in the country’s first planned democratic elections in December. Registration for the polls begins in less than two months…But South Sudan has no plans to issue ID cards to everyone. A spokesperson for the country’s elections commission, George Lemi, said that during voter registration, the commission may hire local administrators to confirm people’s identities…South Sudan’s elections were originally scheduled for 2015, four years after it separated from Sudan. However, the country’s civil war and delay in creating a constitution forced the election to be deferred several times. VOA

Chad Junta Chief Launches Presidential Campaign without Main Rivals
The transitional president of military-led Chad launched a campaign Sunday for a May presidential election he is likely to win, after his main rivals were ousted from the race. On the first day of campaigning, the capital N’Djamena was decked out in his political colours and giant portraits of President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno…General Itno, 40, was proclaimed president by a junta of 15 generals in 2021 following the death of his father Idriss Deby Itno, who had ruled the Sahel country with an iron fist for more than three decades. The new president promised to hand power back to a civilian government within 18 months and told the African Union he would not stand for election as president. But he then extended the transition period by two more years and in March officially announced he would run for the top office. Last month 10 candidates…were barred from standing in the presidential election. Only former opponent Succes Masra, now prime minister, remains in the race. His participation has been denounced by the opposition as a front for plurality…Itno’s main rival Yaya Dillo Djerou was shot dead in an army assault on his PSF party headquarters in late February. AFP

A New South Africa Election Poll Highlights Zuma’s Significant Impact
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) may see a sharp drop in support in next month’s election, according to a new survey that suggests a new party backed by former president Jacob Zuma will take some of its voters. The survey, by the Social Research Foundation (SRF) think tank, provides a snapshot of voter preferences ahead of the May 29 election. It shows the ANC, which needs 50% of the vote to continue governing without entering into a coalition with smaller parties, could win as little as 37%. Meanwhile, Zuma’s Umkhonto we Sizwe party (MKP), was the third most popular party in the survey, with 13%.  Semafor

Bangladeshi Ship Seized off Somali Coast Is Freed after More than a Month
A cargo vessel seized by pirates off the Somali coast has been freed along with its crew after more than a month, the European Union’s maritime security force said Monday. Operation ATALANTA said in a statement that all 23 crew members of the Bangladesh-flagged cargo carrier MV Abdullah had been released after 32 days in captivity…Twenty armed assailants took control of the vessel while it was going from Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, to Hamriya in the United Arab Emirates, according to Ambrey, a British maritime security company. AP

AU Assessment Report Delays Plan for Somalia’s Post-Atmis Force
In a communique dated April 3, the African Union said Somalia’s plan for a new force to replace the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (Atmis) will be submitted next month after the continental body undertakes a comprehensive study of the threats and needs on the ground before seeking endorsement of the UNSC. The troubled Horn of Africa nation missed its initial timeline of end of March when it was expected to submit its proposal, due to consultations with the AU Peace and Security Council on March 26 and April 3 to plan for the new force that will start operations on January 1 2025, once Atmis exit is complete…What is known for now is that the new force will be an AU-led, United Nations authorised peace support operation. The EastAfrican

Nigeria’s Grid Collapses Weeks after Tariffs Raised for Wealthier Consumers
Nigeria’s creaking grid collapsed for the fifth time this year in the early hours of Monday, highlighting the country’s inability to provide reliable power after raising tariffs for wealthier consumers by 230% only two weeks ago. Nigeria’s electricity regulator on April 3 approved an increase in tariffs for the 15% of consumers who use the most power, as the government tries to reduce the $2.6 billion worth of subsidies for the sector…Some analysts have criticised the tariff increase because it pushes more power to wealthier consumers from the meagre 4,000MW available for distribution to over 200 million Nigerians from the grid. Reuters

Ghana Fails to Reach Debt Deal with International Bondholders
Ghana has failed to strike a deal with two bondholder groups to restructure $13 billion of international bonds, the government said on Monday, dealing a blow to its efforts to swiftly emerge from default and economic crisis. Talks were derailed for now amid indications from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the deal would not fit its debt sustainability parameters, which set out how much debt it thinks a country can afford, the government said in a statement…In December 2022, Ghana, the world’s second-biggest cocoa producer, defaulted on most of its external debt of $30 billion, after debt costs and inflation surged when it was locked out of international markets. Reuters

Suspected Islamist Rebels Kill at Least 10 in Eastern Congo
Suspected Islamist rebels killed at least 10 civilians in an attack on Friday near the city of Beni in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, local authorities and a U.N. source said. The assailants fired guns at people working in fields in Mulekera commune outside Beni, Mulekera Mayor Ngongo Mayanga said on Saturday…The ADF originates from neighbouring Uganda. Now based in eastern Congo, it has pledged allegiance to Islamic State and mounts frequent attacks, further destabilising a region where many militant groups are active. Reuters

Special Police Unit to Curb Illegal Mining in Kenya
Kenya has deployed a special police unit to end widespread illegal exploration of minerals across the country, Mining Principal Secretary Elijah Mwangi has said. The Mining Police Unit is pursuing miners, prospectors and dealers violating the industry law and regulations…Illegal exploration, exploitation, and dealing in minerals are penalised through a fine of up to Ksh10 million ($76,929) or a jail term of two years or both under the Mining Act 2016. Smuggling of minerals is, on the other hand, classified as an economic crime which attracts a fine of up to Ksh1 million ($7,685) or 10 years in prison upon conviction. The operation against illegal mining has come after Kenya decriminalised artisanal mining and gazetted artisanal committees to approve micro-scale operations. The EastAfrican

Cameroon Opens Museum Honoring Oldest Sub-Saharan Kingdom
Thousands of Cameroonians gathered in the royal palace square in Foumban on Saturday to celebrate the opening of the Museum of the Bamoun Kings. Sultan King Mouhammad Nabil Mforifoum Mbombo Njoya welcomed 2,000 guests to the opening of the museum located in Foumban — the historic capital of the Bamoun Kings. The royal family, descendants of a monarchy that dates back six centuries, attended the event dressed in traditional ceremonial attire with colorful boubous and matching fezzes…”This is one of the rare kingdoms to have managed to exist and remain authentic, despite the presence of missionaries, merchants and colonial administrators,” [Armand Kpoumie Nchare, author of a book about the Bamoun kingdom,] said…The opening of the museum comes months after the Nguon of the Bamoun people, a set of rituals celebrated in a popular annual festival, joined UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. AFP