Africa Media Review for April 6, 2023

Deal to Restore Democratic Transition in Sudan Delayed Again
A dispute between Sudan’s military and a paramilitary group again forced the delay of signing a deal with politicians to restore the country’s democratic transition, which was derailed by a 2021 coup, a pro-democracy bloc said Wednesday. The bloc, known as the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, announced the postponement in a statement saying that the deal would not be signed Thursday as planned. The bloc said the military and the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Force were still negotiating on a reform for the security and military sector to be included in the final agreement. They are discussing the integration of the Rapid Support Force into the military. The bloc’s statement said the military and the paramilitary force had made progress and only one point remained unresolved. … According to a draft of the deal obtained by The Associated Press, the military would withdraw from politics and be barred from non-military businesses. The deal includes an overhaul of the security apparatuses that will eventually lead to a unified, professional and non-partisan national military. Political parties would form a civilian administration to lead the chaos-stricken nation through elections in two years. AP

New Evidence Suggests Africa’s Birth Rates Are Falling Fast
… stories of big families inform much of how the world thinks about sub-Saharan Africa, not just now but over coming decades. At conferences and in cabinet meetings across the continent, politicians and policymakers fret about how to educate, employ, house and feed a population that the un expects to grow at breakneck speed from around 1.2bn people now, to 3.4bn people by 2100. In southern Europe, populists stoke up fears that hundreds of millions of Africans may try to cross the Mediterranean to escape poverty, war or hunger. Across the rich world, environmentalists fear the impact on the climate and planet of an extra 2bn people. Yet few have noticed a wealth of new data that suggest that Africa’s birth rate is falling far more quickly than expected. Though plenty of growth is still baked in, this could have a huge impact on Africa’s total population by 2100. It could also provide a big boost to the continent’s economic development. “We have been underestimating what is happening in terms of fertility change in Africa,” says Jose Rimon II of Johns Hopkins University. “Africa will probably undergo the same kind of rapid changes as east Asia did.” The un’s population projections are widely seen as the most authoritative. Its latest report, published last year, contained considerably lower estimates for sub-Saharan Africa than those of a decade ago. … Yet even the un’s latest projections may not be keeping pace with the rapid decline in fertility rates (the average number of children that women are expected to have) that some striking recent studies show. Economist

EACRF, Monusco to Launch Joint Operations in Eastern DR Congo
The East African Regional Force (EACRF) and the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Monusco) will soon launch joint operations, EACRF announced on Tuesday. EACRF’s General Jeff Nyagah on Tuesday met with the new Monusco Force Commander Lt Gen Otávio Rodrigues De Miranda in Goma, North Kivu to seal the collaboration on several areas including demarcation and delimitation of operational boundaries, battle space management, including airspace control, logistical support, engineering support in defence preparations, opening of key supply routes, information as well as intelligence sharing and monitoring. … DRC’s Minister of Communication Patrick Muyaya tried to calm [civilian reaction to the EACRF deployment], explaining the context of the arrival of this force whose objective is to work for the return of peace in support of the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC). “It is therefore not a question of any balkanisation relayed by organisations active in misinformation, but rather of the application of commitments agreed upon to achieve an end to hostilities,” Muyaya said. The EastAfrican

Opposition Feels Police Heat Ahead of Voting in Zimbabwe
As Misheck Nyembe stepped into a meeting of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) in the high-density residential area of Budiriro on January 14, he saw three armoured police trucks and 30 baton-wielding anti-riot policemen milling around outside. It was a strange sight because the gathering was at the home of a CCC lawmaker, but Nyembe, 72, a staunch supporter of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, was unperturbed because it was not his first meeting. “I didn’t make much of the police’s presence,” he told Al Jazeera at his home in Budiriro, an opposition stronghold in Harare. “I felt I had a right to be there.” He had barely sat down when a group of baton-wielding police officers charged through the gate, triggering pandemonium. Outside, policemen sprayed tear gas. One grabbed Nyembe and shoved him into a truck. Many opposition supporters managed to scale a security wall and escape, but Nyembe and 25 others were not so fortunate. They ended up spending 13 days in detention at Harare’s Remand Prison until lawyers from the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum secured their release on bail. It was the latest in a series of arrests in Zimbabwe as critics accuse President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration of clamping down on dissent and rights of assembly. Al Jazeera

Ex-Rebels in Mali Accuse the Junta of “Provocation” Following a Jet Flyover
Former Tuareg rebel group charged Mali’s governing junta of “provocation” on Wednesday, alleging that military fighter planes flew close to four of their bases amid concerns of escalating violence. The escalation came on the eve of a significant occasion: the anniversary of one of the main Tuareg factions’ unilateral declaration of independence on April 6, 2012. This came when Salafists and independence militants joined forces to take control of important northern cities, notably Kidal. The Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), the main alliance of former rebels in the north, accused Malian army fighter jets of “flying at deliberately provocative altitudes over its bases in Ber, Amassine, Anafis and Kidal in the midst of tensions linked to the stalled peace process.” AfricaNews and AFP

Uncertainty Clouds German Troops’ Future in Mali
Berlin has agreed to the inclusion of its troops in a European Union training mission in Niger but the future of its troopers serving in neighbouring Mali hangs in the balance. … Last November, Germany had indicated that its soldiers, more than a thousand deployed in Mali, will remain there until March 2024. But the new German Minister of Defense, Boris Pistorius, has not ruled out the possibility of shortening the mandate of Bundeswehr troops stationed in Mali. According to him, “staying in Mali until May 2024 is absolutely not relevant under the current circumstances.” He was referring to some of the hassles faced by MINUSMA peacekeepers in Mali who no longer have the same freedom of movement as before. For this reason, he suggested an early withdrawal of the German military from Mali. APA

Peace Process Takes Another Step Forward as Tigray Unveils New Interim Cabinet
A 27-member cabinet for Ethiopia’s war-scarred Tigray was unveiled on Wednesday, official media in the region reported, the latest step in a peace process to end two years of brutal conflict. The cabinet includes members of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and military commanders who fought federal forces during the war, according to Tigrai TV. The establishment of an interim adminstration was a key tenet of a peace deal signed in South Africa’s capital Pretoria in November 2022 by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the TPLF. Last month, the Ethiopian government said TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda, the public face of the rebels during the war, had been appointed head of the interim government. That followed the Ethiopian parliament’s move to remove the TPLF from an official list of terrorist groups in line with the November deal. Debretsion Gebremichael, who had been president of the Tigray region since 2018, formally handed over the reins to Getachew during a ceremony on Wednesday, according to Tigrai TV. AFP

Cameroon Says Separatist Conflict Slows Reconstruction in Western Regions
Cameroon says fighting between troops and rebels is slowing reconstruction of homes, schools, hospitals, and other public buildings in its troubled western regions. Authorities say in the three years since the launch of a reconstruction plan for thousands of homes and hundreds of public buildings damaged in the seven-year separatist conflict, less than 100 have been re-built. Yaoundé in 2020 launched a reconstruction and development plan for the Northwest and Southwest regions. The government promised to reconstruct 12,000 private homes, schools, hospitals, bridges, and markets that were destroyed or damaged in the fighting. But deputy coordinator of the reconstruction plan Njong Donatus says so far, they’ve re-built less than one hundred. He blames ongoing fighting for the slow pace and says rebels regularly seize and destroy construction materials and abduct workers for ransom. VOA

South Africa Ends ‘State of Disaster’ over Electricity
The South African government on Wednesday terminated the national state of disaster it declared two months ago to deal with an electricity crisis, although there are no signs that the power problems are ending. The government ended the state of disaster while Africa’s most developed economy still wrestles with nationwide rolling blackouts — currently for six hours a day — due to failures at the state-run power company, Eskom. Analysts have this week warned that Eskom’s own forecasts indicate that South Africa’s businesses and its 60 million people will experience electricity cuts for at least another year. … [blackouts] were a key contributor to South Africa’s economy shrinking by 1.3% in the fourth quarter of last year, economists said, raising fears that the country is on the brink of a recession. AP

Senegal Struggles with Loss of Fish Central to Diet, Culture
In Senegal, the national dish of thieboudienne is entwined in the country’s history and culture. It’s a rich dish of fish, rice and vegetables that literally brings people together – traditionally eaten in communal fashion around a single dish. But the preferred species for the dish is white grouper, and the fishery has collapsed in the face of aggressive fishing by locals and foreign poaching. And there are few other fish to turn to, as overfishing has “greatly diminished” other species in Senegal, where one in six people work in the fisheries sector, according to a report from the United States Agency for International Development. Overfishing like that which has threatened thieboudienne is seen across the planet. In the Bahamas, scientists and government officials are working to save conch, a marine snail central to the island nation’s identity. In the Philippines, overfishing has depleted small fish such as sardines. AP

Africa: Experience the Magic of Africa with African Folktales, Reimagined
African folktales are traditional stories passed down from generation to generation. These stories usually feature animals, spirits, and humans, and are often used to teach moral lessons, explain natural phenomena, and pass on cultural traditions and values. They provide a sense of identity and community. In recent years, many African writers and storytellers have reimagined these folktales, updating them to reflect modern sensibilities and contemporary issues. This reimagining has helped to preserve and celebrate African cultural heritage while also making it relevant to modern audiences. Six storytellers from a new generation came together to reimagine and retell tales as old as time from across the African continent. These stories are now being presented as short films called “African Folktales, Reimagined,” which were created by Netflix in partnership with UNESCO. AllAfrica