Africa Media Review for April 20, 2022

Are Nigeria’s Bandits a New Boko Haram Cell or Rival ‘Terrorists’?
On December 11, 2020, more than 300 boys were abducted from a boarding school in Kankara, a small community in the northwestern Nigerian state of Katsina by gunmen on motorcycles. The incident fit Boko Haram’s modus operandi, and the group’s leader Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for the attack in an audio message, before releasing a video of the kidnapped children. This further lent credence to the assumption by Nigerian politicians and pundits that the group which has waged war in the northeast for more than a decade, was the orchestrator of the brazen attack… But in March 2021, Auwalun Daudawa, a notorious kingpin of one of the gangs responsible for abduction sprees in the northwest, claimed responsibility for Kankara. “I did that in Katsina because the governor [Aminu Masari] came out to say he will not dialogue again with our people,” he told the local Daily Trust newspaper. According to local media reports, the abduction had been a joint operation by seven different gangs who had sent a video to Shekau asking him to claim responsibility. They knew that the government “feared Boko Haram more than them” and would be willing to meet the demands quickly. Al Jazeera

Worsening Drought in Horn of Africa Puts Up to 20 Million at Risk: WFP
Time is fast running out, the UN agency warned, with Somalia facing “the very real risk of famine” in the coming six months. Meanwhile, an estimated 7.2 million Ethiopians are already not getting enough to eat, and half a million Kenyans are just a step away from catastrophic levels of hunger and malnutrition.  “We know from past experience that acting early to avert a humanitarian catastrophe is vital, yet our ability to launch the response has been limited due to a lack of funding to date,” said Michael Dunford, WFP’s Regional Director for Eastern Africa.   The Horn of Africa endured drought in 2016-2017, but humanitarian assistance was scaled up early, thus saving lives and averting a devastating famine.  Since last year, WFP and its humanitarian partners have been warning that the current drought could be disastrous if the international community did not act immediately. Three consecutive seasons of below-average rains have led to a continued deterioration in food security, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). UN News

Groups Tied to Libya Strongman Crushing Dissent: Amnesty
Armed groups affiliated with eastern Libya strongman Khalifa Haftar are detaining at least nine “peaceful protesters,” Amnesty International said on Tuesday. They were among about 30 people who protested last month in Sirte, the hometown of deposed dictator Moamer Kadhafi. Amnesty said the demonstrators called on international and local authorities to compensate victims of NATO air strikes during the 2011 revolt that overthrew Kadhafi. Detention of several of the protesters, as well as a Libyan TV reporter who covered their rally, reflects how rights have been “brutally crushed” in areas under the control of Haftar-affiliated forces, an Amnesty press release said. Sirte, in the centre of Libya’s Mediterranean coast, has been controlled by pro-Haftar forces since 2020. “The arbitrary detention of these peaceful protesters for demanding justice and reparation in connection to the 2011 armed conflict shows just how intolerant LAAF and affiliated armed groups are of any independent activism, even if not critical of their rule,” Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in the press release. Barrons

Eastern Africa Military Spy Agencies Unite To Fight Terrorism, Insecurity
Eastern Africa military intelligence agencies on Saturday wrapped up their meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, where they consulted on regional security, terrorism and other issues of common concern. The forum was attended by Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda. The meeting stressed a need for continued vigilance and concerted efforts among the regional countries to strengthen cooperation in combating security challenges, while also taking stock of the implementation status of the conclusions and recommendations of their previous meeting. According to a statement issued by the Ethiopian Ministry of Defense, the military agencies signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly combat terrorism and to counter anti-peace forces that pose threat to regional peace and security. The regional meeting is said to have provided an opportunity to review the security situation in the volatile eastern Africa region. East African

Elite Kenyan Forces Kill 5 Terrorists in DR Congo
Elite soldiers from the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) have killed five militants belonging to the IS-CAP terror group in the eastern DR Congo. The unit, which has been fighting alongside armies from Tanzania, South Africa and Nepal, is part of the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Monusco). The Kenyan soldiers launched an offensive attack against the terrorists’ stronghold in Beni. IS-CAP, which stands for Isis Central African Republic, has been terrorising the residents of eastern DRC, Mozambique and Uganda for the last five years. Last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered KDF to send its Quick Reaction Force (QRF) to DRC to help stabilise the region. East African

South Sudan Opposition Unhappy Over Army Positions
South Sudan’s main opposition political party says it is dissatisfied with recent appointments to a unified armed forces command structure. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) says there were a number of “serious violations” in naming the commanders of various army, police and security services units. The appointments were announced by President Salva Kiir last week. The SPLM-IO says President Kiir omitted three directorates in the National Police Service that were meant for the opposition It says the president also created new positions that were not agreed by the parties, and appointed his allies to these positions.“This attempt by the president is meant to separate the opposition… and that will make it harder for us to implement the reforms needed, especially in the finance sector within all the organised forces,” Puok Both Baluang, a SPLM-IO official said in a press release. He urged President Kiir to abide by the agreement on the unified command. The office of the president has not responded to the matter. BBC

Denmark in Talks With Rwanda on Transfer of Asylum-Seekers
Denmark is in talks with Rwanda about setting up a new procedure for transferring asylum seekers to the east African nation, mirroring a similar move by Britain announced just last week. Denmark, which has gained notoriety in the last decade for its increasingly harsh immigration policies, passed a law last year that allows refugees arriving on Danish soil to be moved to asylum centres in a partner country. But the Nordic nation, which drew the anger of human rights advocates, the United Nations and the European Commission over the move, had yet to find a partner country at that time. “Our dialogue with the Rwandan government includes a mechanism for the transfer of asylum seekers,” Immigration Minister Mattias Tesfaye said in an emailed statement to Reuters on Wednesday. The deal would aim to “ensure a more dignified approach than the criminal network of human traffickers that characterises migration across the Mediterranean today,” he added. Reuters

African Refugees in Tunisia Demand Evacuation to Different Countries
Dozens of refugees and migrants in Tunisia are demanding evacuation to other countries. The refugees, mostly survivors of illegal immigration attempts by sea to Europe, have been staging a sit-in in front of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Tunisian capital, Tunis since Saturday. “We need to be evacuated,” reads a banner they have hung at the entrance to the building. Equipped with blankets, the refugees, many of whom are women and children, spend the night on cardboard boxes spread out on the ground amid suitcases containing their personal belongings. They denounced the United Nations’ inaction. “The real problem is, the UN commission has abandoned its main role, which is our protection. Instead of doing that, it has left us on the street. We were living in Zarzis, and the UN commission demanded our evacuation from there, cut off all funds and stopped protecting us.” Saleh Saeed, Sudanese from Darfur who refused refugee status told the AFP. 19-year-old Mohamed Nour from Chad also claimed there have been instances of racism against them which makes life difficult. We have been attacked in our homes. We just want to be evacuated from this country.” Migrants and refugees in Tunisia, particularly from sub-Saharan Africa, regularly complain of being subjected to verbal and physical abuse in Tunisia. AfricaNews with AFP

France Hands Over Gossi Military Base to Malian Army
[Video] In a major step towards the exit of France’s Barkhane anti-jihadist force from Mali, the French army has officially handed over the keys of the Gossi military base to the Malian military. France24

The Rise in Funding to Female-Led Startups in Africa, Has Many Caveats
Investments made into African female-led startups have grown by nearly seven-fold over the last three years, highlighting their potential to haul in investment, the latest analysis shows. However, the volumes and values are still far lower than what male founders have raised in the continent’s buzzing startup ecosystem. In their latest analysis of deals, Africa: The Big Deal, shows female techpreneurs have significantly raised the share of growth funds they attract—from $52 million in 2019, to $288 million by the close of 2021. Funding to female-led startups in Africa is still extremely low when compared to male-led startups. The share of investments going to female-owned tech startups stood at about 6.5% in 2021, meaning that just $1 in every $15 raised in the African startup ecosystem goes to women-owned tech startups. Quartz

Google To Set Up First Africa Product Development Centre in Nairobi
Alphabet Inc’s Google (GOOGL.O) is investing in its first ever Africa product development centre in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, it said, as it positions itself to serve a growing base of internet users on the continent. By the end of this decade, the continent will host 800 million internet users, the California-based firm said, and a third of the world’s youth population, making it an attractive investment destination. Google is hiring engineers, product managers, user experience designers and researchers to staff the new centre, said Suzanne Frey, vice president for products, and Nitin Gajria, the head of Google Africa, in a joint blog post on Tuesday. The company is investing $1 billion in various projects on the continent over five years, its CEO Sundar Pichai said last October, to help economies accelerate their digital transformation. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones