Africa Media Review for April 26, 2024

Burkina Faso Suspends BBC and Voice of America after Covering Report on Mass Killings
Burkina Faso suspended the BBC and Voice of America radio stations for their coverage of a report by Human Rights Watch on a mass killing of civilians carried out by the country’s armed forces. Burkina Faso’s communication spokesperson, Tonssira Myrian Corine Sanou, said late that Thursday that both radio stations would be suspended for two weeks, and warned other media networks to avoid reporting on the story. According to the report published by Human Rights Watch on Thursday, the army killed some 223 civilians, including 56 children, in villages accused of cooperating with militants. The report was widely covered by the international media. AP

Sudan Journalists Stand Firm against Intimidation
Dozens of human rights violations against journalists and other press workers have been reported in Sudan since April 15. Most of the newspapers and radio stations have been forced to close because of the fighting and the repression. A joint editorial by the Sudan Media Forum, laments that the war in Sudan has claimed thousands of lives, displaced millions, and urges the global community “to rally behind the Sudanese people and demand an immediate end to the war through negotiations. This conflict has caused enough suffering and democratic regression.” Targeted murders of journalists have plunged Sudan into a total media blackout. This prevents journalists from fulfilling their crucial role in informing the public, upholding journalistic integrity, and exposing the war’s devastating consequences.  Radio Dabanga

Darfur on the Brink of Genocide as RSF Launches Full-Scale Attack on El Fasher
Sudanese and international experts are sounding the alarm about a potential massacre in El Fasher, Darfur, as paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) launched a full-scale attack on the city, the last government stronghold in the region. El Fasher is the only remaining area in Darfur that the RSF does not completely control. Hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs), including survivors of past RSF attacks, have sought refuge in the city…International and Sudanese humanitarian workers painted a grim picture at an emergency briefing. They warned of potential mass casualties from lack of access to humanitarian aid, deaths in the crossfire, and targeted killings by the RSF once they enter El Fasher. Sudan Tribune

Some US Troops Set to Depart Chad, at Least Temporarily
Earlier this month Chad’s air force chief ordered the U.S. to halt activities at an air base near the capital N’Djamena, according to a letter sent to the transitional government and seen by Reuters…Pentagon spokesperson Major General Patrick Ryder said a portion of the U.S. troops in Chad would reposition out of the country. He said it was a “temporary step” as part of an ongoing review of security cooperation with Chad, which would resume after the country’s May 6 presidential election…Interim President Mahamat Idriss Deby is running for election next month, making Chad the first of West and Central Africa’s junta-ruled countries to organise a vote. Opposition groups have flagged concerns about its credibility. Reuters

The DRC Had the World’s Biggest Military Spend Increase Last Year – and South Sudan Was Second
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) last year recorded the biggest percentage jump in military spending worldwide as it prepared to tackle M23 rebels in the eastern part of the country. According to the latest Trends in World Military Expenditure 2023 report, the DRC’s spending “more than doubled (105%) to reach $794 million”, or about R15 billion. The report said the 2023 increase “coincided with growing tensions with Rwanda, a surge in clashes with non-state armed groups, and a government move to strengthen the DRC’s armed forces after it demanded the early withdrawal of a large-scale United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country”…South Sudan came second in terms of percentage increase in military spending, with a 78% increase to more than a billion American dollars…The fast-growing spending was attributed to “escalating internal violence and the security challenges that have spilt over from the civil war in neighbouring Sudan”…In sub-Saharan Africa overall, countries increased military spending by 8.9% compared to 2022 – but 22% lower than in 2014. News24

Ghana: Opposition Challenges State over Ministerial Selection without Parliament’s Approval
The Akufo-Addo government in Ghana has come under criticism as ministerial nominees side-step parliamentary approval and assume office. The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is offended by the government’s decision to put 24 ministerial nominees to work without approval from the parliament, contrary to the laws of the land. President Nana Akufo-Addo appointed the new ministers in a major reshuffle in February…The 24 nominees – some previously deputy ministers – were vetted in March and a decision on their approval was due the same month but was indefinitely suspended. The suspension of the approval was in protest against the president’s decision not to assent to the anti-LGBTQ+ bill and his subsequent order to parliament to cease transmitting the bill to him. The Africa Report

Has South Africa Truly Defeated Apartheid?
No one doubts that South Africa has made strides since the days of legalized racial oppression. Democracy has brought a growing Black middle class, access to better education across racial lines and a basic human dignity once stolen from the Black majority. But there also has been a widening gap between rich and poor, a breakdown in basic services like electricity and water, and the continued isolation of Black families stuck in ramshackle homes in distant communities. Black South Africans, who make up 81 percent of the population, often argue that they’ve gained political freedom, but not economic freedom — and remain trapped in the structure of apartheid. The New York Times

South Sudan’s Kiir Sacks Foreign Affairs Minister
South Sudan President Salva Kiir has sacked Foreign Affairs minister James Pitia Morgan, naming him envoy to the Great Lakes region. Appointed in August 2013, Morgan was South Sudan’s ambassador to Ethiopia. Kiir, in a decree read on the state-owned television (SSBC) on Thursday, named Ramadan Abdala Goc as the new replacement for the Foreign Affairs minister. Goc was deputy Foreign Affairs minister prior to the latest changes in the ministry. The president appointed Monday Suraya Kumba as new deputy foreign minister while John Samuel Bwogo is the undersecretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Bwogo had previously served as South Sudan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia. The South Sudanese leader’s decree gave no reasons why changes were made. Sudan Tribune

Process Raw Materials in Africa, Urges Top Environmentalist
Wanjira Mathai, the managing director for Africa and global partnerships at the World Resources Institute thinktank, said much more of what the continent produced must be processed and made use of close to where it is produced, if the world is to shift to a low-carbon footing. Africa’s vast resources are vital to the global economy, in sectors spanning agriculture, forestry and fisheries to minerals and metals. But most of these are extracted to be processed and turned into finished products elsewhere, sometimes with dire environmental consequences…Africa has vast potential for generating renewable energy, from the wind and sun. This should encourage investors to site their industries there, near these abundant low-carbon power sources, she added…Helping people prepare for the impacts of the climate crisis will be essential and in Mathai’s view that can best be done by making Africans more prosperous. The Guardian

Climate Change Is Bringing Malaria to New Areas. In Africa, It Never Left
When a small number of cases of locally transmitted malaria were found in the United States last year, it was a reminder that climate change is reviving or migrating the threat of some diseases. But across the African continent malaria has never left, killing or sickening millions of people…The malaria parasite mostly spreads to people via infected mosquitoes and can cause symptoms including fever, headaches and chills. It mostly affects children under 5 and pregnant women…Of the 12 countries that carry about 70% of the global burden of malaria, 11 are in Africa and the other is India. Children under 5 constituted 80% of the 580,000 malaria deaths recorded in Africa in 2022. AP

West Africa’s Benin, Liberia and Sierra Leone Launch Malaria Vaccination
Benin, Liberia and Sierra Leone launched large-scale malaria vaccine programmes on Thursday under an Africa-focused initiative that hopes to save tens of thousands of children’s lives per year across the continent. The three West African countries are the latest to participate after successful rollouts of routine malaria immunization for children in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, the global vaccine alliance GAVI said in a statement. The World Health Organization-approved vaccine is meant to work alongside existing tools such as bed nets to combat malaria, which in Africa kills nearly half a million children under the age of 5 each year. Reuters

US Official Announces Business Partnership with Kenya
About 1,300 delegates and 400 companies participated in the fourth American Chamber of Commerce summit in Nairobi, Kenya…U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo participated in this year’s summit — which ended Thursday — saying it’s not enough to state the intentions of the United States to invest more and collaborate with Kenya…Raimondo also announced a partnership “to harness artificial intelligence, facilitate data flows and empower digital upskilling with Kenya.” The partnership, she said, is the first of its kind with an African nation to promote the safe development and deployment of AI. In addition, seven private-sector deals on digital transformation and commitments were made involving companies including the NBA, CISCO, Pfizer, and Qualcomm. Two new grants by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency were announced to expand semiconductor fabrication in Kenya and the construction of a fiber network along the railways. VOA

Malawi, Israel Sign Labor Export Deal on Farm Workers
Malawi and Israel have signed a new deal for Malawi to send unskilled laborers to Israel. The agreement is a departure from a previous arrangement where nearly 1,000 laborers were sent to work in Israel through private labor agents. Malawi officials say the new deal will help address challenges workers were facing under the previous arrangement. The memorandum of understanding comes a month after Malawi’s parliament allowed the government to proceed with its program to send laborers to work on farms and industries in Israel. Currently, Malawi is expected to send about 3,000 unskilled laborers to work on various agriculture farms. Most of the workers will replace Palestinians who no longer work in Israel because of tensions sparked by the war between Israel and Hamas…Malawi’s finance minister, Simplex Chithyola Banda, said in February that $735,000 had already been transferred to Malawi through the labor export arrangement with Israel. Authorities say the next group of laborers is expected to leave for Israel in three weeks. VOA

African Tech Companies Are Ditching Google for a Small Indian Competitor
Zoho, a lesser-known rival of Google and Microsoft in the enterprise software space, has been stepping up in Africa as an affordable alternative to the global giants. The company has hired local staff, introduced payment options in local currencies, and even sponsored a cricket tournament to dig its heels into the market…While Zoho launched in India in 1996, it was only in 2019 that it started on-the-ground operations in Africa, with one salesperson each in South Africa and Nigeria. Now, it has about 60 employees across the continent…In 2021, Zoho started allowing African companies to pay for its software in local currencies. This decision has been a major reason for Zoho’s success in Africa as it allowed customers and potential clients to avoid regulatory hurdles around dollar spending…In comparison, African companies can pay for Google Workspace only in dollars and euros. Rest of World