Africa Media Review for April 27, 2022

Mapping Disinformation in Africa
[Infographic] Disinformation is the intentional dissemination of false information with the intent of advancing a political objective. Africa has been the increasingly frequent target of such campaigns. In recent years, dozens of carefully designed campaigns have pumped millions of intentionally false and misleading posts into Africa’s online social spaces. The ensuing confusion in deciphering fact from fiction has had a corrosive effect on social trust, critical thinking, and citizens’ ability to engage in politics fairly—the lifeblood of a functioning democracy. Russia has been the leading purveyor of disinformation campaigns in Africa with at least 16 known operations on the continent. Drawing on a legacy dating back to Joseph Stalin (who coined the term dezinformatsyia), the targeted tactics of disinformation in Africa are adapted from the Russian military strategy of “ambiguous warfare.” This strategy amplifies grievances and exploits divisions within a targeted society, fostering fragmentation and inaction—all while affording the perpetrators plausible deniability. The objective often is less to convince as to confuse citizens—thereby creating false equivalences between democratic and non-democratic political actors, precipitating disillusion and apathy. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Mali Accuses France of Spying Over Drone Footage of Mass Grave
Mali has accused the French army of spying and subversion when it used a drone to film what France alleged was mercenaries burying bodies near a military base. The west African nation’s ruling junta in a statement on Tuesday, said a drone illegally flew over the Gossi base on April 20, the day after French forces handed the site back to Mali. The following day, the French army shared a video it said showed Russian mercenaries covering bodies with sand to falsely accuse the departing troops of war crimes. Two soldiers could be seen filming the half-buried corpses. Mali’s military have now announced an inquiry into the discovery of a mass grave at the Gossi base. The army said it found the grave the day after the images were published, and claimed the bodies’ advanced stage of putrefaction ruled out Malian soldiers’ responsibility. France, Mali’s former colonial power, is winding down its almost decade-long, anti-jihadist military operation in the West African state. AfricaNews

Sudan: Intercommunal Fighting Spread to West Darfur Capital
The bloody tribal clashes in West Darfur spread to the state capital Geneina on Monday with the participation of former rebels and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The clashes between Arab tribes and Massalit tribes resumed in Kereneik, 80 km east of Geneina, after revenge attacks by the formers following the murder of two herders last Friday. Independent medical group Central Committee of Sudan Doctors CCSD’s) in a statement on Monday, confirmed that the fighting was taking place in Geneina and the medical personnel fled the hospital due to the insecurity in the town. Eyewitnesses in Geneina confirmed to the Sudan Tribune that the participation of the RSF forces and fighters of the Sudanese Alliance Forces SuAF of Khamis Abkar who is also the state governor and from the Massalit tribal group. Musa Mustafa, a SuAF member, accused the RSF of killing civilians on an ethnic basis. He further claimed that the paramilitary forces killed Elias Mustafa a senior military official of his group on Sunday. Sudan Tribune

Darfur: Why Are Sudan’s Janjaweed on the Attack Again?
The fighting was caused by a dispute between Arab nomads and members of the Massalit community, who have clashed over land for decades. It began after two Arab nomads were killed near Kreinik, a town that has become home to many displaced ethnic black Massalit communities over the last two decades – people who were driven from their rural villages by Janjaweed raids…For many years, UN peacekeepers were trying to keep the peace, but they withdrew at the end of 2020 after their mandate expired – their presence resented across the divides. But even when they were deployed, they would not have been able to stop an attack of this ferocity. Maintaining peace and security in Darfur is now supposed to be carried out by a joint force made up of the police, army, the RSF and the rebel groups which signed a peace deal in 2020. But behind the scenes – they are all have competing ambitions and in no way represent a united front. For example, the police have many non-Arab Massalit members and the RSF has many former Janjaweed members – some of whom have been caught up in the recent fighting. The local unit tasked with protecting Kreinik withdrew from its positions before the attack, according to local activists. BBC

Sudan’s Prosecution Obstructs Release of Political Detainees: Lawyers
The defence team for the detained members of the suspended Empowerment Removal Committee (ERC) accused, on Tuesday, the Public Prosecution of obstructing their release and violating the decision of the judicial authority. The court decided to release ERC members due to the lack of evidence after over two months of detention. But the public prosecution decided to keep them in jail after lodging new criminal charges against some detained ERC members and requested a $50 million pound bail for the release of two others. Sudan Tribune

Tunisian Opposition Announces New Alliance
A veteran left-wing Tunisian politician announced the creation a new alliance aimed at restoring constitutional normality in the country following President Kais Saied’s power grab last year. The president was elected in 2019 and sacked the government on July 25th 2021. Parliament was also suspended shortly afterwards while the president seized wide ranging powers. “We’re here to announce the creation of the National Salvation Front, a political front that comprises, up till now, five political parties and five political groups, including six parliamentary groups. It’s only the beginning, we plan to keep on consulting with other parties to join the alliance”, said Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, founder of the National Salvation Front. AfricaNews

In Shift, South Africans Prevail Over Big Oil in Drilling Project
Shell says that there have been 35 seismic surveys conducted offshore near South Africa over the past decade, each one lasting about three months. “Our assessment was that we could conduct a similar acquisition in a safe and responsible manner,” said Bill Langin, senior vice president for deepwater exploration at Shell. But this time was different. Everyone from fishers to surfers to eco-lodge owners, both Black and White, joined to protect the pristine coast, home to legendary migrations of whales, dolphins, sea turtles and sardines. In December, they took the London-based multinational corporation to court — and won. The seismic survey vessel that Shell hired, the Amazon Warrior, left. Shell had argued that the complaints about harm were “of a speculative nature,” but G.H. Bloem, a judge on one of South Africa’s 13 regional high courts, declared “The expert evidence establishes that there is a reasonable apprehension of real harm to marine life.” He added that the court had “a duty to step in” and protect people’s constitutional right to be consulted. After decades when the promise of economic development drove decisions about when to permit drilling and exploration — especially in the developing world — the outcome was a victory for the people living along the South Africa coast who opposed the exploration. And it was a setback for Shell at a time when concerns about climate change have made it increasingly difficult for large oil and gas companies to take advantage of new drilling opportunities. The International Energy Agency last year said that “there is no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply in our net zero pathway,” if the world is going to stick to the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. Washington Post

Ivory Coast Police Seize Record 2 Tonnes of Cocaine – Worth $67M
Authorities in Ivory Coast have seized a record haul of more than two tonnes of pure cocaine, with a street value of about 41 billion CFA francs ($67.7 million). The cocaine was seized from traffickers this month in a police operation that took place in the commercial capital Abidjan and the port city of San Pedro, the interior ministry said in a statement on Saturday…Large cocaine seizures have become increasingly common along the West African Atlantic Coast, a frequent stopping point for South American drugs heading to Europe. About 40 tonnes pass through the region annually, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the country’s current political division and the absence of sufficient government control in its northern region are making drug trafficking, as well as that of people and natural resources, more prevalent. Al Jazeera

Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi Arrives in Uganda for Official Visit
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi arrived in Uganda on Wednesday afternoon for a three-day official visit. He was received at Entebbe International Airport by Foreign Affairs Minister Gen. Jeje Odongo and other Ugandan officials. Mr Nyusi received a 21-gun salute on arrival at the airport and will hold bilateral talks with his host President Yoweri Museveni in the afternoon. President Nyusi and President Museveni are set to hold discussions on strengthening historical ties, and political, economic, social and cultural cooperation between the two countries. Mozambique and Uganda have enjoyed good relations of friendship, solidarity, cooperation and camaraderie since the national liberation struggle stemming from the 1970s during the days of Frelimo, as the country fought for independence. East African

AU Seeks Funding Aid for Revamped Somalia Mission
The revamped African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in Somalia now named ATMIS (AU Transition Mission in Somalia) and in place since the start of April, lacks the “required resources” to do its job. An AU statement notes its Peace and Security Council (PSC) adopting the renaming and re-purposing of the mission in Somalia with the rider that it commences its mandate sans the required resources for “effective implementation”. These include “predictable, sustainable and adequate financing”. On the plus side the PSC “welcomes the commitment and financial support of the EU (European Union) for ATMIS” asking the northern hemisphere body to maintain the same level of funding support provided to AMISOM, ATMIS’ predecessor. The continental body, via its PSC, “appeals” to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to “consider” a special financing session for both the newly named mission and the Somalia Security Forces. The PSC also wants the AU Commission “to scale up efforts to explore more innovative options for predictable and sustainable financing”. One suggestion is to engage AU partners to “mobilise adequate resources” for ATMIS operations, including a donor conference. DefenceWeb

Sweden Extradites Rwandan Accused of Genocide
Swedish authorities have extradited a Rwandan man to Kigali over genocide charges which he is accused to have committed when he was a university student. The Rwanda prosecution said it received Jean Paul Micomyiza on Wednesday and commended Sweden for its contribution “to fight impunity.” Mr Micomyiza, 50, was arrested in Sweden in November 2020 on a Rwandan arrest warrant. He lost an appeal against his extradition last December. He has lived in Sweden for more than a decade. He is accused of crimes of genocide for his alleged role in searching and identifying Tutsis to be killed during the 1994 genocide, when he was 22. BBC

‘I Lost Everything’: Somaliland Market Fire Upturns Life, Economy
While no deaths were reported — the fire broke out after the market had closed — the sheer scale of the blaze has scarred Somaliland, economically and emotionally. Authorities have estimated the economic impact of the fire at $2bn, or 60 percent of Somaliland’s gross domestic product (GDP). The astronomical figure is due to the market’s centrality to Somaliland’s economy. Much of the trade that flowed through the de facto state ended up for sale at the Waheen. “It was more than a market, it was an entire financial district,” said Mahamoud. The disaster comes as Somaliland battles fierce drought conditions, which have devastated communities throughout the Horn of Africa. The United Nations estimates the drought has impacted over 800,000 people in Somaliland, and in February, it stressed the need for “urgent humanitarian support” for those affected. For some Somalilanders, the devastating scene of the destroyed Waheen Market brings back painful memories of the Somali civil war. Al Jazeera

Apple Under Pressure Over Minerals From DR Congo
A new report has warned that a scheme set up to ensure mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo does not fuel conflict is being abused to launder tainted minerals. Global Witness says companies – including Apple, Tesla and Intel – are relying on the due diligence scheme to source minerals that are widely used in electronic equipment such as mobile phones, computers and automotive and aeronautical systems. Those behind the initiative have denied the allegations. For years there have been warnings that some minerals sourced in DR Congo that are used in electronic devices are from mines controlled by armed groups. A scheme was launched to try to prevent these so-called “blood minerals” reaching the international market. But Global Witness says it has uncovered compelling evidence that the International Tin Supply Chain Initiative (ITSCI) is failing. It says the scheme is being used to launder tin, tantalum and tungsten from mines controlled by militia or where children work. BBC

Africa’s Reliance on Donors, Debts Bites As Food Exporters Feud
Africa’s reliance on external suppliers for food, oil and financial support could be in for harsher times as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to harm supply channels. A briefing by a group of UN experts says countries in east and west Africa belt are heavily exposed to the rising food prices after main global exporters Russia and Ukraine went to war. The briefing released last week by the UN Task Team for Global Crisis Response Group was supposed to determine how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier in February was going to hurt global supply chains, as well as the access to food. But it found that Africa has most of the 36 countries labelled as most exposed to the price hikes of basic food like wheat, which both Russia and Ukraine sell the most to the continent as it is cheapest. East African

Mairabot: A Student-Built Robot in Nigeria
[Video] When COVID-19 hit, an enterprising group of pupils in Abuja, Nigeria, used their robotics class to design and build a simple robot to cut down on interpersonal contact in hospitals. Using only scraps they found around the classroom, they each contributed to the ideas, concept, mechanics and AI elements of their robot “Mairabot” – which earned praise from health officials and their teachers alike. Mairabot, by filmmaker Philip Okpokoro, introduces us to Nabila Abbas and her fellow students in this short, inspiring film. Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones