Africa Media Review for April 20, 2023

Uneven Cease-Fire in Sudan Makes Escape Hard for Desperate Civilians
A patchy cease-fire between Sudan’s two rival generals held in parts of the capital on Wednesday night, as desperate residents looked for ways to escape the city after five days trapped by the chaotic fighting with dwindling stocks of water and food. Evacuation from the capital, Khartoum, has proved intensely dangerous since conflict erupted over the weekend between Sudan’s military and a powerful paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces. But after days hunkered inside their homes, often as battle rages in the streets outside, more Sudanese and foreign nationals have sought to flee the city of five million people. Nearly 300 people have been killed and over 3,000 wounded since fighting erupted on Saturday, the World Health Organization said. Many residents of Khartoum’s outlying neighborhoods, where there is less fighting, have already fled the city… On Wednesday evening, the Sudanese military agreed to a Rapid Support Forces proposal for a 24-hour humanitarian cease-fire that would allow civilians to evacuate or to replenish their supplies. But with a similar effort having failed a day earlier, it was unclear if the truce would hold. From early morning, warplanes pounded the international airport in an effort to rout R.S.F. fighters dug in there. New York Times

Sudan War a Regional Threat and Atrocious, Warns Kenyan President
Kenyan President William Ruto says the four-day conflict in Sudan has already reached atrocious levels, including violation of international law. … Dr Ruto warned that Sudan’s warring parties had shown a “real danger” of ballooning the conflict beyond its borders, making the region unstable. “Kenya is alarmed that a misunderstanding over a single outstanding item in the political framework agreement, namely the timeframe for the reintegration of Rapid Support Forces (RSF) into the Sudan armed forces, has degenerated into violent conflict,” Dr Ruto said in a recorded video from State House, Nairobi. He said the parties to the conflict – the Sudan Armed Forces and the paramilitary group RSF, have disregarded resolutions passed by the regional bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), which on Sunday called for a cessation of hostilities and resumption of dialogue. … “Kenya notes that disregard for the resolutions, coupled with the evident lack of commitment to ending the conflict, strongly indicates that attacks on diplomatic installations and personnel, as well as the targeting of hospitals, hotels, and other vital public and social spaces, are deliberate, systematic and tantamount to atrocities against humanity.” EastAfrican

Cattle Raiding by Jihadis Soars in Mali, Fuels Conflict
As jihadis gain control of more territory, looting is increasing and fueling conflict among already impoverished communities fighting to keep their families fed and alive, according to a recent report by The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. … In the central Mopti region, one of the hardest hit by more recent violence, some 130,000 cattle were stolen in 2021, about the same amount taken between 2018 and 2020 combined, said the report by the global initiative known as GI-TOC. While the groups have several funding streams, including drug trafficking, hostage taking and gold mining, analysts say livestock raiding is one of the most preferred because of the consistent cash flow, especially in Mali, which is the second biggest cattle exporter in the region after Nigeria. Jihadis loot livestock and then rely on a network to sell it and use the money to buy weapons and vehicles. … “There are no animals within a 186-mile (300-kilometer) radius of the town of Menaka. … The terrorists are trying to weaken the population economically, so the population does not fund a resistance,” said [Mahamad Ag Moustapha, the mayor of Inekar commune in the Menaka region]. AP

24 Killed in Two Attacks in Burkina Faso: Security Sources
At least 24 people including civilian defense volunteers were killed Tuesday in two attacks by suspected jihadists in Burkina Faso, security and local sources told AFP Wednesday. The deadliest attack took place in a village in Bittou, near the Togolese and Ghanaian borders, according to one local official, who said 16 auxiliary soldiers and four civilians were killed. He said that several were still missing. “More than a dozen terrorists were killed in response to the attack,” he added. An official in the volunteer militia confirmed the attack and said at least another four volunteers had been killed during a second clash in the same region. On Wednesday, several hundred people demonstrated in Bittou, calling for better security protection, according to residents contacted by AFP. Defense Post with AFP

Burundi Launches Manhunt for Former PM Accused of Plotting Coup
The authorities in Burundi are searching for former prime minister Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni, seven months after he was dismissed in a high-level political purge. However, the reasons behind the search have not yet been clarified. Once the country’s police chief and security minister, Bunyoni was fired last September in the first major reshuffle at the top of Burundi’s government since President Evariste Ndayishimiye took office in 2020. Police and intelligence officers reportedly searched three properties belonging to Bunyoni on Monday, but found no trace of him, according to local security and media reports. … An influential senior figure in the ruling CNDD-FDD party who was appointed prime minister in 2020, Bunyoni was fired just days after Ndayishimiye warned of a “coup plot” against him. Bunyoni was seen as the leader of the “hardliners” among the generals who wield true political power in Burundi, with Ndayishimiye himself alluding to his isolation in a 2021 speech. RFI

Adamawa, Nigeria 2023: NSCDC Summons Commander for Alleged Role in Illegal Declaration of ‘Winner’
The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) says it has begun an investigation into the controversies that earlier trailed the supplementary governorship election in Adamawa State. The embattled Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC in the state, Hudu Ari, on Sunday illegally declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Aishatu Dahiru popularly called Binani, as the winner of the election while the collation of results was still ongoing. Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commissioner (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, immediately ordered suspension of the collation of results and summoned the REC to the commission’s office in Abuja. In a video that went viral, Mr Ari perpetrated the illegal declaration under the protection of the commandant of the state NSCDC, commissioner of police and commander of the DSS. The collation of results however resumed on Tuesday evening after several outcries from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and election observers. Premium Times

Nigeria: Disinformation Demonizes Institutions
The wave of misinformation currently targeting the Electoral Commission and Supreme Court judges in Nigeria, who are called upon to rule on the presidential election, reveals a vast discredit of institutions in Africa’s most populous country, according to experts. While elections in Nigeria are often characterized by vote-buying and violence, technical failures and delays in the transmission of results observed during the February 25 vote are fueling rampant misinformation this time around. It is “really a big problem in Nigeria”, observes Kemi Busari, Nigeria publishing director of the fact-checking organization Dubawa. “People don’t care about fact-checks. All they care about are their prejudices,” he laments. The candidates who came in behind the declared presidential winner, Bola Tinubu, representative of the ruling party, Atiku Abubakar, and Peter Obi, second and third respectively, took legal action at the end of March to challenge the results. Experts predict that these appeals will reach the Supreme Court, as in the previous presidential election in 2019. In this particularly sensitive context, the AFP fact-check service has dismantled dozens of erroneous information around these elections, including a photo supposed to show President-elect Tinubu bribing the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Olukayode Ariwoola. AfricaNews with AFP

WHO Officially Launches mRNA Vaccine Tech Hub in Cape Town
The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially launched its mRNA vaccine technology hub in Cape Town, a facility established during the COVID-19 pandemic to help poorer countries struggling to access life-saving medication. In 2021, the WHO picked South African biotech firm Afrigen Biologics for a pilot project to give poor and middle-income countries the know-how and licences to make COVID vaccines. At the time, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called it a historic step. Afrigen Biologics has used the publicly available sequence of Moderna Inc’s mRNA COVID vaccine to make its own version of the shot, AfriVac 2121, at lab scale and is now scaling up production. The vaccine candidate, which must still be tested on people, is the first to be made based on a widely used vaccine without the assistance and approval of the developer. It is also the first mRNA vaccine designed, developed and produced at lab scale on the African continent. Al Jazeera

South Africa: L’Affaire Heberon Still Ongoing via Parliamentary Questions
According to Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise there was “no misrepresentation of facts” around the acquisition of Heberon to prevent military personnel from infection with the COVID-19 virus. Responding to a Parliamentary question put by Kobus Marais, Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister for her portfolio, she indicated the “arrangement to get the medication [Heberon, unregistered as a drug for human use in South Africa] from Cuba came into being when the country was faced with a crisis of COVID-19 and the whole country was in a state of disaster.” She further informed Marais, consistently the lone public representative still seeking clarity on the Heberon acquisition, findings by the AG (Auditor General) “indicated” her Department of Defence (DoD) did not follow procurement processes. This led to R33.4 million recorded as irregular expenditure. defenseWeb

Madagascar Faces ‘Catastrophic’ Hunger after 3 Cyclones
Battered by three intense cyclones in the space of a year, southeast Madagascar is experiencing the knock-on effect of those climatic disasters: “catastrophic” hunger in remote, inaccessible areas that is gaining little international attention, humanitarian groups say. Cyclone Batsirai hit in February 2022, followed two weeks later by Cyclone Emnati. Then, Cyclone Freddy made landfall on the Indian Ocean island in February of this year. The combined impact left 60%-90% of farming areas in the southeast badly damaged and food crops largely destroyed, according to a report by UNICEF and Madagascar’s National Office for Nutrition. The suffering is felt by people like Iavosoa, a desperate young mother whose 10-month-old daughter, Soaravo, was at risk of not living to see her first birthday because of acute malnutrition. Iavosoa, who only gave her first name to protect her privacy, also has a 3-year-old son suffering from moderate malnutrition. AP

As The Sea Surges In Southwest Nigeria, More Residents Are Getting Displaced
Alagbe Sobowale, a fisherman, was sleeping in his small room apartment in Ayetoro, Southwest Nigeria, around 2:30 p.m., when his house was submerged by flood from the ocean on Monday, April 17. Concerned about his safety, he fled first and could not save any of his properties in the house. The incursion which happened at Ayetoro, a riverine community in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State, left Sobowale and many others displaced. Sobowale told HumAngle that hundreds of homes and properties including schools and hospitals were also destroyed. Counting his losses, he said the incident happened when no one could save any of their properties. … Ayetoro is one of the communities in Ilaje, the only oil producing area in Ondo. Residents of the community live on water. The foundation of their houses are single straight woods embedded in the river, and flat planks are used as the ground floors of the buildings that are merely a few feet above the lagoon. HumAngle has reported how the sea surge is a natural disaster that occurs as a result of the rise in water levels and intense storms. When it occurs, it leads to widespread flooding that destroys homes and properties. HumAngle

Off-Grid Solar Mini-Grids Light Up Africa
For the past two decades, many rural homes in Africa have relied on solar home systems to meet their basic power needs such as a few light bulbs, charging the family’s mobile phones and powering small appliances like radios and televisions. Now, larger off-grid systems known as mini-grids (MGs) capable of powering bigger appliances — fridges, flour and maize mills and even welding equipment — are increasingly being installed in rural areas. “The mini-grid space continues to attract a lot of attention from development partners,” said the Africa Solar Industry Association in its latest analysis. “There are already many MGs in operation, and many more to come.” The recent commissioning of more than 60 solar-powered mini-grids in the Kolda region of southern Senegal is just one example. The Senegalese Rural Electrification Agency project targets the provision of mini-grids to more than 300 villages by 2024. The mini-grids have the capacity to power street lights, refrigerators, millet and peanut shelling machines and water pumps. In March, the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group approved a $28.49 million grant to help the Ghanaian government install 35 solar mini-grids to power 400 schools, 200 health centres and 100 community energy service systems. Bird Story Agency