Africa Media Review for August 10, 2023

African-Led Peace Operations: A Crucial Tool for Peace and Security
The 20th anniversary of the founding of the African Union in 2022 was a watershed year for African-led peace operations. In response to a variety of conflicts and crises, the African Union (AU) and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) authorized four new African-led peace operations, matching 2017 for the most in any calendar year. The AU and regional actors now oversee 10 peace operations, comprising more than 70,000 authorized personnel, spread across 17 African countries. These operations are critical tools for managing conflict. Over the past 20 years, African-led peace operations have undertaken innovative missions to address unconventional threats. They have improved cooperation between regional security forces. At times, they have also provided normative leadership in responding to atrocities and unconstitutional seizures of power. Despite these contributions, African-led peace operations possess limited operational capabilities, are poorly integrated with civilian-led conflict management efforts, and have failed to intervene decisively in the continent’s most significant armed conflicts. For the AU to step into its long hoped-for role as the primary guarantor of peace and security in Africa, the AU and member states will need to institutionalize achievements and address shortcomings in the current regional security architecture. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

West African Leaders Plan to Meet on Niger but Options Are Few as a Military Junta Defies Mediation
West African heads of state are scheduled to meet Thursday after Niger’s military junta defied their deadline to reinstate the nation’s deposed president, but analysts say the Economic Community of West African States may be running out of options… As Niger’s junta turns away most efforts at mediation, one analyst asserted that Russian meddling in the country has spiked in the two weeks since mutinous soldiers overthrew democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum, who has refused to step down and is under house arrest. … Moscow is using Wagner and other channels of influence to discredit Western nations, Lou Osborn, an investigator with All Eyes on Wagner, a project focusing on the Wagner group, asserted to The Associated Press. Tactics include using social media to spread rumors about Wagner’s upcoming arrival to Niger and employing fake accounts to mobilize demonstrations and spread false narratives, Osborn said. … While there’s no reason to believe Russia was behind the coup, it will leverage the opportunity to gain a stronger foothold in the region, something Western nations were trying to avoid, Sahel experts say. AP

Niger’s Ex-President Is ‘Running Out of Food’
The US has expressed deep concern for Niger’s deposed president after his party said he and his family were running out of food and living under increasingly dire conditions. President Mohamed Bazoum, the West African nation’s democratically elected leader, has been held at the presidential palace in Niamey with his wife and son since mutinous soldiers moved against him on July 26. He has not been seen in public since the coup, although sources close to him say that has refused to resign. The family is living without electricity and has only rice and canned goods left to eat, according to a close adviser, who said Bazoum remains in good health for now. Bazoum’s political party issued a statement confirming the president’s living conditions and said the family also was without running water. … This week, Niger’s new military junta took steps to entrench itself in power and rejected international efforts to mediate. … The junta also refused to admit mediation teams from the United Nations, the African Union and the West African regional bloc Ecowas, Guardian

UN Urges Negotiated Solution for Sudan Conflict
A senior United Nations official for Africa called Wednesday for a negotiated solution to the conflict in Sudan, saying there is no alternative. “Calls by some to continue the war in order to achieve a military victory will only contribute to destroying the country,” U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, Martha Pobee, told the U.N. Security Council. “The longer this war continues, the greater the risk of fragmentation, and foreign interference, and erosion of sovereignty, and the loss of Sudan’s future, particularly its youth.” Pobee expressed particular concern about the ethnic nature of fighting in the Darfur region, especially West Darfur, which has seen brutal ethnically-based violence. “This is deeply worrying and could quickly engulf the country in a prolonged ethnic conflict with regional spillover,” she warned. VOA

At Least 27 Migrants Found Dead in the Desert Near Tunisian Border, Libyan Government Says
At least 27 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa have died in recent days in the country’s western desert near the border with Tunisia, Libyan authorities said. In a statement posted on Facebook, Libya’s Interior Ministry said late Tuesday the bodies were discovered recently near the border and that a forensic team had been deployed to the area. In the same post, the ministry published pictures of African migrants receiving treatment from Libyan medical teams. Mohamed Hamouda, a spokesperson for the Libyan government, on Wednesday confirmed the discovery of the bodies to The Associated Press, but declined to provide any further details. In recent months, Tunisian security forces began removing some migrants from coastal areas, busing them elsewhere and, migrants say, dumping some of them in the desert. Earlier this month, Tunisia’s Interior Minister admitted that small groups of sub-Saharan migrants trying to enter the country are being pushed back into the desert border areas with Libya and Algeria. AP

Interpol Leads Vast Operation Targeting Organised Crime in West Africa
A vast police operation against West African mafia groups specialising in internet fraud has been carried out by Interpol, the international criminal police organisation. More than two million euros were seized or frozen and 103 people arrested in 21 countries in an investigation codenamed Operation Jackal. “It sends a strong message to West African crime networks that no matter where they hide in cyberspace, Interpol will pursue them relentlessly,” said Isaac Kehinde Oginni, director of Interpol’s financial crime and anti-corruption centre. Those targeted included mafia groups and West African gangs such as Black Axe, an organisation founded in Nigeria that targets victims around the world with online scams. “The illegal activities of Black Axe and similar crime syndicates will remain a priority,” Oginni added. Interpol described Black Axe as “a violent mafia-style gang renowned for cyber-enabled financial fraud, in particular business email compromise schemes, romance scams, inheritance scams, credit card fraud, tax fraud, advance payment scams and money laundering.” RFI

Hope as Kenya’s Government, Opposition Begin Talks after Protests
Talks between President William Ruto and Opposition leader Raila Odinga seeking to resolve the stalemate arising from the high cost of living and disputed presidential election results begin on Wednesday, exactly one year after the August 9, 2022 polls. President Ruto on Monday appeared to soften Kenya Kwanza’s hardline stance ahead of the talks, stating that he was ready to dialogue with the Opposition on all of its issues so long as it did not include sharing of positions in the government. The President’s allies had pegged their conditions for dialogue on the discussion of five issues: reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), implementation of the two-third gender rule, entrenchment of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), establishment and the entrenchment of office of the leader of opposition and embedment of the office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary. Nation

Uganda: President Museveni Announces Plans for Two Nuclear Power Plants
According to President Yoweri Museveni, two nuclear power plants built by Russia and South Korea would provide 15,600 megawatts of electricity for Uganda. The Ugandan president claimed that one unit would produce 7,000 MW and another 8,400 MW, however, he did not specify a completion date or a source of money for the projects. President Museveni said at a coffee summit on Tuesday that “we have agreed with Russia and South Korea to build two uranium power stations for electricity.” Government representatives have previously discussed building a nuclear power plant in Uganda. An agreement to create the nuclear station was signed with state authorities in Uganda in 2016 by representatives of the Russian-owned Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation, but the project never got off the ground. Uganda is currently having trouble raising money to build hydro dams, which are less expensive than nuclear power plants. Uganda now has the capacity to generate 1402MW of electricity, however, it only uses 800MW of that capacity. Business Insider

African Broadcasters: Radio Still Reigns Supreme Across Continent
Broadcasters from more than 45 African countries, meeting this week in the Cameroonian capital of Yaounde, said radio reigns supreme over all other mass media on the continent, including TV, internet, newspapers, and social and digital media. … Radio, however, remains a reliable and cheap medium for getting vital information. John Omo, secretary-general of the African Telecommunications Union, or ATU, took part in the Yaounde meeting. He said participants at the meeting plan to inform Africa’s international partners that neglecting radio broadcasting denies a majority of the continent’s population an important tool for development. … World Radiocommunication Conferences are held every three to four years. Participants review and revise radio regulations determined by international treaty governing the use of the radio frequency spectrum and the geostationary satellite and non-geostationary satellite orbits. Revisions are made on the basis of an agenda determined by the International Telecommunication Union Council. VOA

‘Our History Is Rotting Away’: The Newspaper Archivists Preserving Nigeria’s Past
In a quiet office in Lekki, an affluent suburb of Lagos, Nigeria, Boyega Adediran gingerly opens a 1997 copy of PM News and places a double-page spread on a large flatbed scanner. The newspaper was founded in 1994 but stopped printing physical copies in 2015. Scans of the fragile pages are quality checked by Grace Abraham and saved to a server that currently holds more than 50,000 pages of what will become Nigeria’s first interactive digital newspaper archive. A nonprofit startup called is attempting to digitise every edition of every newspaper – 50 in all – published in Nigeria since 1 January 1960, the year of independence from Britain. The archive will launch its first tranche of documents in September. … Lawal has been surprised by the level of detail printed about the military coups and how much resistance there was among editors. Newspaper offices would often be raided or shut down by the government, and journalists faced intimidation, arrest and even death. One celebrated journalist, Dele Giwa, was killed by a parcel bomb in 1986 during Ibrahim Babangida’s presidency. … “We know so little about the amount of resistance that the military government met. So when Nigerians say, ‘We need someone with strong hands,’ I say we don’t. The best thing that has happened to us is democracy. There is so much we don’t know about the fine details of those times, and how they shaped our present.” Guardian