Africa Media Review for April 27, 2023

Gunfire Heard in Sudan Amid Race to Extend Truce
The United States and African nations were racing to secure an extension of a ceasefire in Sudan on Thursday, with the Sudanese army giving an initial nod to an African proposal calling for talks even as fighting continued. Hundreds of people have been killed in nearly two weeks of conflict between the army and a rival paramilitary force – the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) – which are locked in a power struggle that threatens to destabilize the wider region. An RSF statement accused the army of attacking its forces Thursday and spreading “false rumors”, making no reference to the proposal which the army said came from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an African regional bloc. Gunfire could be heard Thursday in the Khartoum area, a resident told Reuters. VOA

WHO Fears More Deaths in Sudan Due to Outbreaks, Lack of Services
The World Health Organisation (WHO) expects “many more” deaths in Sudan due to outbreaks of disease and a lack of essential services amid fighting, its director general said on Wednesday. Battles between Sudan’s army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary since mid-April have killed at least 459 people and injured more than 4,000, according to the WHO. “On top of the number of deaths and injuries caused by the conflict itself, the WHO expects there will be many more deaths due to outbreaks, lack of access to food and water and disruptions to essential health services including immunization,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. Tedros added that only 16 percent of health facilities were functioning in the Sudanese capital. East African/Reuters

Sudanese Army Accepts IGAD Initiative for Talks in Juba
The Sudanese army announced its initial acceptance of an initiative from the IGAD regional bloc aimed at stopping the fighting in Sudan and holding negotiations in Juba with the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). A statement issued by the Sudan Armed Forces Spokesman stated that the Commander-in-Chief of the army, Lt Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, received the initiative proposed by the IGAD organization, which was agreed upon by the leaders of the regional body on April 16. … In a virtual meeting held on April 16, the heads of state from the IGAD countries decided to send the presidents of South Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti to Khartoum to engage the two leaders to resume talks on the pending issues in the security and military reform. However, the delegation did not reach Khartoum due to the continuation of the fighting, and the bad security conditions in the capital. According to reliable sources who spoke to Sudan Tribune, IGAD asked the two parties to send their representatives to Juba on Friday, amid speculation that Lt Gen Shams al-Din Kabbashi would represent the Sudanese army. Sudan Tribune

East African Force Fails to Quell Rebels in DR Congo
[…] Last week the EAC force organised a press trip to areas that have been declared liberated. An AFP journalist was able to visit and interview residents, despite restrictions. “If they (the rebels) hear what I have to say to you, they will kill me,” said a worried shopkeeper in Bunagana — a border town that, officially, the Ugandan army took back from the M23 on March 31. “The M23 are still there. The arrival of the EAC soldiers has changed nothing, I am still paying taxes to the M23,” he said, adding that on the Congolese side, the border is still under rebel control. A little further on, residents pointed to the top of a hill near the town, describing it as an “M23 position”. Despite the EAC force’s promises, traffic on the road to the key city of Goma has still not resumed. Only a handful of drivers and a few motorbike riders brave the 100-kilometre stretch of deserted road. “The M23 still patrols this road every day,” said a shopkeeper beside the N2 highway about 20 km west of Bunagana, an area where Ugandan troops are supposed to operate. The Nation

Rebel Attacks Deepen Displacement Crisis in Congo’s Ituri
One month since rebels closed in on Drodro village in eastern Congo, the once bustling wards of its hospital are empty and Doctor James Semire strolls the darkened corridors wondering when patients will dare to return. The community is one of many in Ituri province’s Djugu territory that has seen a surge in attacks by the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo armed group (CODECO), with around 550,000 people forced to flee their homes between January and March, according to U.N. data. Semire said members of the Hema herding community started to abandon Drodro in mid-March ahead of a rumoured advance by CODECO. The group, which claims to defend the interests of Lendu farmers, who have long been in conflict with Hema herders, is one of dozens of militias that have destabilised eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since the 1990s. … The CODECO raids have worsened a longstanding humanitarian crisis in Ituri province, where some 3 million people are in desperate need of aid, according to the U.N. humanitarian agency. Reuters

Fear in Abuja Community as Terrorists Abduct 29 Villagers Overnight
Villagers in the Kwali area of the Federal Capital Territory have expressed fear after gunmen kidnapped 29 residents in a night raid. On Wednesday, residents of the area recounted how the armed gang invaded the community on Tuesday night to abduct the villagers. Terrorist outlaws, often called bandits, have been active in Nigeria’s North-west and parts of the FCT. But details on the clear identity and motivation of the Kwali attackers have been slow to emerge. Zubairu Yewuti, a community leader in Kwali, said his younger brother and two of his elder brothers’ wives were kidnapped in his family house. The kidnappers operated for three straight hours after combing eight houses to whisk 29 people away, according to a report by Daily Trust. Premium Times

5 Soldiers Killed in Mine Explosion in Nigeria
The Nigerian government has announced that it will take the first step towards the creation of a new state of the nation’s military in the coming years, according to a new report released by the Nigerian Ministry of Defence on Wednesday. The military unit was on patrol Monday in the village of Laayi, near the town of Damasak (not far from the border with Niger), when their vehicle exploded on contact with an improvised explosive device, Babakura Kolo, head of one of the local militias working with the government in the fight against jihadist groups, told AFP. The attack left five people dead, according to Kolo, who presumed it was carried out by the Islamic State in West Africa (Iswap) group. AfricaNews/AFP

Scientists: Climate Change Worsened Eastern Africa Drought
The ongoing drought in Eastern Africa has been made worse by human-induced climate change, which also made it much likelier to occur in the first place, an international team of climate scientists concluded. The report Wednesday came from World Weather Attribution, a group that seeks to quickly determine whether certain extreme weather events were influenced by climate change. Nineteen scientists from seven nations assessed how climate change affected rainfall in the region. “Climate change caused the low rainfall in the region,” Joyce Kimutai, principal meteorologist at the Kenya Meteorological Department said. “Climate change has made the drought exceptional. The scientists analyzed historical weather data, including changes in the two main rainfall patterns in the region alongside computer model simulations dating back to the 1800s. They found that the long rains season —March through May — was turning drier and the short rains season — typically October through December — was becoming wetter due to climate change. They called the region’s experience with drought “one of a kind.” AP

Tunisian City of Sfax Becomes Hub for Migrant Crossings to Italy
[Video] In Tunisia, the number of migrants leaving for Italy has increased since the start of the year. Coastguard officials in the southeastern Sfax region say there’s been a 300 percent increase compared to 2022. The region has over 150 kilometres of coastline and Sfax is also the country’s economic capital, but it’s now become a hub for crossings for both Tunisians and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. President Kais Saied’s racially charged speech on February 21 targeting Black migrants has pushed more of them to attempt the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean. Our correspondents report. France24

South Africa: Corruption Costs Eskom $55m a Month
The South African state-owned electricity company, Eskom, is costing an average of $55 million a month in corruption, with the company burdened with debt and unable to produce enough power for the country’s energy crisis, the company’s former chief executive said on Wednesday. In a remote interview with a parliamentary committee on public accounts, Andre de Ruyter confirmed his statements on the level of corruption at Eskom in a document he submitted. “This is a conservative estimate based on my assessment of the losses incurred by Eskom that have come to my attention,” he said in the document. One billion rand, the equivalent of $55 million, “is being stolen from Eskom” every month. For months, South Africa’s 60 million people have been without power for up to 12 hours a day. AfricaNews/AFP

‘The Wheels Have Totally Come Off’: Zimbabwe Currency Implodes as Retailers Double Prices
Zimbabwe’s free-falling currency, the Zimbabwe dollar, is imploding, forcing retailers to scramble for answers by doubling prices compared to last week and causing fresh headaches for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration ahead of elections scheduled for later this year. The Zimbabwe dollar lost ground by over 70% within a week, falling to above 1USD:ZWL2000 on the streets of Harare on Monday. On the official foreign currency auction market run by the central bank, the Zimbabwe dollar is pegged at 1USD:ZWL1026. The latest parallel market volatility for the Zimbabwean unit of exchange comes a few days after the central bank governor, John Mangudya, spoke about introducing a gold-backed digital token to fight inflation and value loss in the local unit of exchange. … Economists say Zimbabwe’s economy will worsen ahead of elections scheduled for around August this year. Others said a crippling shortage of foreign currency on the market had resulted in the latest spike in exchange rates. “The wheels have totally come off with the black market rate hitting a new low of 1:2000, a premium of 80% over the official rate. There is pandemonium in shops as prices skyrocket. Real inflation is now at 400% , no wonder they have resorted to a blended rate to hide real figures,” former Finance Minister and opposition leader, Tendai Biti, said on Twitter. News24

Mozambique Okays Resumption of $20bn Cabo Delgado Gas Project
Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi has said it is safe to restart the Cabo Delgado liquefied natural gas (LNG) project that was halted in April 2021 after rebel attacks on civilians. Nyusi told a mining and energy conference in Maputo on Wednesday that Mozambique wanted to take advantage of the current high prices of LNG and the global shift towards cleaner sources of energy. Violence by armed groups affiliated with ISIL (ISIS) in the northern Mozambican province has claimed thousands of lives since 2017, disrupting multibillion-dollar investments, including the $20bn LNG project in which TotalEnergies has a 26.5 percent stake. “The working environment and security in northern Mozambique makes it possible for Total to resume its activities any time,” Nyusi said. Al Jazeera

Africa: Open Parly Promotes Youth Participation in Parliament
African states have … failed to effectively engage youth in governance and decision-making processes, according to an Afrobarometer report. The report suggests that youth could find ways – including voting – to ensure their voices are heard in the design of policies and programmes to overcome the hurdles they face. According to Afrobarometer, young people are less likely to be politically engaged than older citizens. The largest gaps are observed in the most fundamental form of voice and participation: voting. Youth are 20 points less likely to vote than those 56 years and above. But they also lag behind in most other types of community participation and contact with leaders. … In Zimbabwe, Open Parly, a digital media platform by Magamba Network, launched in 2015 to address some of these challenges. The initiative, according to Magamba Network, promotes a new generation of young citizen journalists giving young people real-time access to Parliament and local authority news in a simplified manner, while increasing access to alternative media platforms by the youth for engagement in national processes. AllAfrica

Coding Classes for Children in Nairobi’s Kibera District
With Kenya fast becoming one of Africa’s booming tech leaders, teaching young children computer skills has become increasingly important. Educational experts believe that in the future, many jobs will be carried out through technology and that it is therefore imperative that they start learning the skills at a young age. Anne Njine, an education specialist at the organisation, Opportunity International EduFinance said it is estimated that in the next 15 years, 75 per cent of jobs will require computer skills. … One organisation that is helping with this task is Code With Kids, a technology-based initiative that works with children in the slums of the Nairobi suburb of Kibera, teaching them how to code and the concept of robotics. Its founder, Renice Owino, says the organisation is dedicated to providing affordable and accessible STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education to children and young adults from low-income areas. The facility in Kibera is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment that includes laptops and robotic kits. The project is partly funded by parents, and partly by charities. AfricaNews/AP