Africa Media Review for April 9, 2024

Three Soldiers Killed by Mortar on Southern African Mission in Congo
Three soldiers on a Southern African peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo were killed and three others wounded after a hostile mortar round landed near their camp, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said on Monday. Regional bloc SADC deployed its mission to Congo on Dec. 15 last year to help the government address instability and tackle armed groups in its restive eastern region, where violent clashes have escalated in a conflict that has lasted decades…The dead and injured soldiers were all from Tanzania, it said. Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania contribute soldiers to the mission. Reuters

After a Long Meeting, Ramaphosa and Kagame Agree a Political Solution Is Best in DRC
Rwandan President Paul Kagame and President Cyril Ramaphosa agreed they would prefer a political solution to – rather than military action around – Rwanda’s disagreement with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The two leaders had a relatively long closed-door meeting in Kigali on Saturday – their first direct engagement since SADC troops, led by South Africa, were deployed to the DRC…Ramaphosa said that since he had come into office, he and Kagame had been working on improving relations between the two countries, which hadn’t always been great…He said: It is a relationship that is in existence, like relationships between countries, sometimes they face challenges, they wrinkle up and those wrinkles will be straightened up. Some of the “wrinkles” include Rwandans needing to apply for visas to visit South Africa, something Ramaphosa said he and Kagame had agreed to resolve as “soon as possible”, without giving a timeline. News24

US Warns of Possible Attacks on ‘Multiple Locations’ in Mogadishu
The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi says it has received information about threats to multiple locations in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. One of the locations identified as a possible target for the threat is the city’s main airport, the Aden Adde International Airport, which also serves as a base for the African Union mission in Somalia and multiple embassies, including the United States and other Western countries…The United States did not specify where the threat is coming from, but the al-Shabab militant group has been carrying out attacks against the Somali government, African Union forces and other nations supporting Somalia. One of the installations that al-Shabab penetrated multiple times in the past has been the airport in Mogadishu. VOA

France to Build Balanced Partnerships with Africa, Says FM on Kenya Visit
France will aim to renew ties with Africa and build “balanced partnerships” that are beneficial to the continent, the country’s foreign affairs minister Stephane Sejourné said Saturday in Kenya at the start of his first visit to the continent. Relations between France and some former African colonies have worsened of late, as the continent becomes a diplomatic battleground amid growing Russian and Chinese influence. According to the foreign office, the choice to begin Sejourné’s visit in Kenya was also to highlight that France’s relationship with the African continent is not confined to issues of security…France and Kenya enjoy good diplomatic relations – President Macron visited Kenya in 2019 and Kenyan President William Ruto has visited Paris twice since he was elected in 2022. France is Kenya’s fifth largest investor and has strengthened its commercial presence in the east African state over the last decade, almost tripling the number of companies operating there from 50 to 140. RFI

Audit of Kenya 2022 Election on Track with Nomination of Ruling Party Team
Kenya’s governing coalition has finally nominated its three representatives to a bipartisan panel tasked with overseeing an independent audit of the processes of the country’s disputed 2022 presidential election, easing the opposition’s fears over the pace of proposed electoral reforms. The six-member panel, proposed by a bipartisan committee set up as part of a political deal to end a wave of anti-government protests that shut down the economy last year, should have been constituted within 21 days after the adoption of the committee’s report by Parliament on February 22. It is now expected to start the process of appointing a reputable firm to conduct the audit of the last election. The Supreme Court upheld President William Ruto’s narrow victory against his closest rival in the election, Raila Odinga of Azimio coalition. The East African

Zimbabwe’s New ZiG Currency Starts Trading, Credibility Doubts Linger
Zimbabwe’s new gold-backed currency started trading on Monday amid doubts that the country’s third such re-launch in a decade will have any more success in ending repeated, crippling bouts of high inflation. The Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG) was announced on Friday by the central bank with an initial rate of 13.56 to $1, replacing the Real Time Gross Settlement Dollar (RTGS), which had lost about 80% of its value this year and had been trading at 28,720 to $1 before the change. Bank balances were transferred into the new currency over the weekend while their customers will have 21 days to do so, and the new banknotes will enter circulation at the end of this month, according to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. The RTGS, also known as the Zimdollar , was launched in 2019 after a decade of dollarisation, which included so-called bond coins and bond notes, notionally pegged to the U.S. dollar and introduced in 2014 and 2016 respectively. Reuters

Sub-Saharan Africa Growth Not Enough to Dent Poverty, Says World Bank
Economic growth is set to rise for the next two years in Sub-Saharan Africa, but not enough to make a significant dent in poverty on the continent, the World Bank said in a report on Monday. The region’s economy is set to expand 3.4% this year and 3.8% in 2024 as falling inflation boosts private consumption, up from 2.4% in 2023, the World Bank said in its biannual Africa’s Pulse report. Many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa were hit hard by the shocks of COVID-19 and Russia’s war in Ukraine, which pushed up inflation at the same time as rising global interest rates made borrowing prohibitively expensive. Drought and conflict have also affected swathes of the region. Reuters

EU Will Not Delay Deforestation Law, Environment Chief Says on Ivory Coast Visit
The European Union is not planning to delay a new law to crack down on the import of commodities linked to deforestation, its environment commissioner said, despite some governments urging Brussels to postpone the landmark rules. The new EU law, set to come into force at the end of 2024, will require companies to prove their goods were not grown on deforested land…Some 20 out of the EU’s 27 member countries asked Brussels in March to delay the anti-deforestation law and exempt producers in countries deemed to have a low risk of deforestation. They argued that, in its current form, the policy would harm European farmers, who have been protesting for months over complaints including excessive EU regulations…For producer countries outside the EU, including the world’s top cocoa producers Ivory Coast and Ghana, at stake is smooth access to the main market at a time when prices of the chocolate ingredient have already soared to record highs. Ivory Coast in March 2023 launched a national sustainable cocoa strategy (SNCD), aimed at falling into line with the EU requirements. Reuters

A Dubai Company’s Staggering Land Deals in Africa Raise Fears about Risks to Indigenous Livelihoods
In the past year, the Liberian government has agreed to sell about 10% of the West African country’s land — equivalent to 10,931 square kilometers (4,220 square miles) — to Dubai-based company Blue Carbon to preserve forests that might otherwise be logged and used for farming, the primary livelihood for many communities…Some experts argue that the model offers little climate benefit, while activists label it “carbon colonialism.” Activists say the government has no legal right over the land and that Liberian law acknowledges Indigenous land ownership. The government and Blue Carbon reached an agreement in March 2023 — months after the company’s launch — without consulting local communities, which are concerned about a lack of protections…A raft of agreements between at least five African countries and Blue Carbon could give the company control over large swaths of land on the continent. In Kenya, Indigenous populations already have been evicted to make way for other carbon credits projects, according to rights groups like Amnesty International and Survival International. AP

Media Groups, CSOs Demand Justice for Journalist Olatunji Abducted by Nigerian Military
Leading Nigerian media and civil society organisations have issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Nigerian government to investigate the abduction, brutalisation and torture of Segun Olatunji, Editor of FirstNews newspapers, by the military. The groups, in a statement early Monday, also demanded prosecution of the perpetrators as well as compensation and public apology to Mr Olatunji. The statement, which detailed various forms of rights vioations and dehumanisation Mr Olatunji went through at the hands of military personnel during his 14-day detention, called for full accountability for all the perpetrators within and outside the military…“Should the federal government fail to respond positively to all these demands within 14 days from today, the undersigned media associations and professional bodies as well as civil society organisations will pursue all available mechanisms at the national, regional and international levels to ensure compliance with our demands,” the statement added. Premium Times

Togo Concern for Critically Ill Arrested Politician, 74
A 74-year-old politician with “critical” health issues is in jail as Togolese authorities crack down on dissent, an spokesperson for the nation’s opposition coalition says. Tensions heightened after Togo’s parliament passed a bill proposing huge changes to the political system. Elections scheduled for 20 April were later postponed. Five opposition activists were arrested for campaigning against the reforms, a DMK coalition spokesperson said. Under the bill passed on 25 March, the president of the West African nation would become a symbolic position selected by parliament, rather than being directly elected…Members of the DMK (Dynamique Monseigneur Kpodzro) were arrested last week after publicly campaigning against the reform, spokesperson Ben Djagba told the BBC. He said there were concerns about the health of Dovi Amouzou, a 74-year-old politician, who is among the five detainees. “Her heart conditions are worrisome as she has ongoing heart-related issues and is under constant care by her physician. Since her detention, she no longer has access to her doctor,” Mr Djagba said. BBC

S Africa Proposes ‘Innovative’ Medical Tourism Plan Allowing Use of Rhino Horn
South Africa is proposing allowing tourists to use rhino horn powder within its borders for its claimed medicinal effects as part of a wider strategy designed to extract more economic value from the country’s wildlife…The revamped 10-year plan, known as the National Biodiversity Economy Strategy, envisages particular financial benefits for Black communities historically excluded from the white-dominated wildlife and conservation industries…Barbara Creecy, the environment minister, told the Financial Times that the proposals were a way of ensuring that “people in rural areas have an incentive for conservation”. If poorer South Africans living around game reserves were simply excluded, some would resort to land invasions and poaching, she said. Financial Times

The Hyenas of Harar: How a City Fell in Love with Its Bone-Crunching Carnivores
Across Africa, hyenas and people often clash, particularly as human settlements expand. The large carnivores are known to kill people as well as large numbers of livestock, and are often poisoned and killed in retaliatory attacks…Here in Harar, a walled city in eastern Ethiopia, however, their presence is not just accepted but encouraged…As human-wildlife conflict increases and habitats shrink, the question of how communities can live in coexistence with large predators becomes increasingly pressing…In Harar, the animals act as the city’s garbage-disposal system, entering at night through a series of “hyena doors” built into the walls and eating entrails dumped in the streets…[Much of Harar’s Muslim population believes] hyenas can protect people from mischievous djinn, or spirits. The Guardian