Africa Media Review for August 15, 2019

Huawei Technicians Helped African Governments Spy on Political Opponents
Huawei Technologies Co., the world’s largest telecommunications company, dominates African markets, where it has sold security tools that governments use for digital surveillance and censorship. But Huawei employees have provided other services, not disclosed publicly. Technicians from the Chinese powerhouse have, in at least two cases, personally helped African governments spy on their political opponents, including intercepting their encrypted communications and social media, and using cell data to track their whereabouts, according to senior security officials working directly with the Huawei employees in these countries. … The Huawei engineers, identified by name in internal police documents reviewed by the Journal, used Israeli-made spyware to penetrate Mr. [Bobi] Wine’s WhatsApp chat group, named Firebase crew after his band. Authorities scuppered his plans to organize street rallies and arrested the politician and dozens of his supporters. WSJ

Uganda’s Cash-Strapped Cops Spend $126 Mln on CCTV from Huawei
Police say the new $126 million closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) system, supplied by Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, will slash spiralling violent crime. Opposition leaders say law enforcement agencies are too corrupt and overburdened to use the footage to identify criminals. They worry police may use the cameras, which have facial recognition technology, to target demonstrators in violent clampdowns as an election approaches in 2021. … Surging crime in Uganda is fuelling public anger towards President Yoweri Museveni, 74, who has been in power since 1986 and will likely seek another five-year term. Police in the oil-rich East African nation recorded 4,497 homicides last year, nearly double the number of five years ago. Kidnappings for ransom, once rare, rose to 202 cases in 2018, an eightfold jump from 2017. Reuters

US Slaps Sanctions on Sudan’s Former Spymaster Salah Gosh
The United States has designated former Sudan’s spy chief Salah Abdallah Mohamed Saleh, also known as Gosh, for his involvement in “gross violations of human rights”. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said Washington had credible evidence that Salah Gosh was involved in torture during his tenure as head of the feared Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). “We make this announcement today in support of an effort by the Sudanese people to place the Omar al-Bashir regime, with its long record of human rights violations and abuses by Gosh and other officials, in the past for good,” Mr Pompeo said. The designation bars Salah Gosh and his family from travelling to America. Gosh is accused of overseeing a crackdown led by NISS agents against protesters taking part in four months of mass demonstrations that led up to the ousting of long-time ruler Bashir. The East African

Suicide Bomber ‘Kills 6’ in Chad; including Soldier
At least six people have been killed after a female suicide bomber blew herself up in western Chad, according to security sources, in an attack blamed on Boko Haram, a Nigeria-based armed group. Sources told news agencies on Wednesday that the attack happened shortly after midnight in the compound of a traditional chieftain in Kaiga-Kindjiria district in Lac province “Six people died, including a soldier,” a senior army officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, was quoted as saying by AFP news agency. Four guards were among the dead, and five people were wounded, the official said. The death toll of six was confirmed by Chadian army spokesman Colonel Azem Bermandoa, and by a local NGO. Al Jazeera

Extremists Attack Army Base in Southern Mogadishu; 5 Killed
Somali military officers say at least four soldiers and a photographer embedded with the army were killed in an attack by Islamic extremists on an army base in the town of Awdhegle, southwest of the capital. Gen. Yusuf Rage, commander of the Somali infantry division, said that troops repelled the attack in Awdhegle, a farming town recently seized by Somalia’s special forces. Eight attackers were also killed in the attack. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the assault which started with a suicide car bomb. Residents told The Associated Press that loud explosions and bursts of gunfire were heard for nearly half an hour. They said government forces were still in control of the town. AP

Jubbaland Electoral Commission Amend the Election Schedule
The Jubbaland Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission have today amended the election schedule, with the advance of the Jubbaland Presidential Election to be held on 19th August. The new schedule indicates that the election of the Speaker of Parliament will be held on 17 August, while the Presidential election will take place on 19 August next Monday. The commission’s statement adds that tomorrow on Thursday they will begin the registration of candidates for parliamentary speaker and the election of the Speaker of the Jubbaland Parliament will be held on Friday 16th August. Goobjoog News

Understanding Jubbaland Elections; What’s at Stake?
Somalia’s federal state Jubbaland will hold elections on August 21. Not everyone will vote, but it appears the poll could affect both Somalis and neighbouring countries. Stretching from Gedo in the south to the Indian Ocean and bordering the entire Kenyan frontier with Somalia, Jubbaland is politically seen as Kenya’s buffer against Somali militant group al-Shabaab. But the ties of Jubbaland to Kenya and Ethiopia-through clan connections-means the stakes are higher for everyone. So what is in it? The East African

Proxies Battle over Tripoli
As the campaign of Benghazi-based strongman Khalifa Haftar to take Tripoli slows down, foreign powers are putting more and more resources into the fight, including armed drones and psychological warfare tactics in social and mass media (AC Vol 60 No 8, Haftar stakes it all). There’s been a let-up in the overall level of casualties, but about 1,100 people, over 100 of them civilians, have been killed and around 120,000 people displaced, many of them to Tunisia. … In the meantime, misinformation and disinformation have become as much weapons in the conflict as aircraft, tanks and missiles. Leading officials in Haftar’s Libyan National Army regularly announce a fresh push which they insist will result in imminent victory, while the GNA declares that it will force the LNA to retreat (AC Vol 60 No 14, Air strikes risk escalation). The LNA’s last ‘fresh push’ was supposed to start on 1 August with Tripoli in its hands by the Muslim festival of Eid al Adhah, which is expected on 11 August. Media sites linked to one side or the other promote the claims, rarely bothering to check their facts. Africa Confidential

1,900 Killed, over 3,300 Abducted in DR Congo’s Eastern Kivu Provinces
Armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have killed almost 1,900 civilians and abducted more than 3,300 others in the DRC eastern provinces of South and North Kivu since June 2017 and still continue committing atrocities under patronage of senior political and military figures, a prominent human rights organization said on Wednesday. According to the joint report of Human Rights Watch and the New York University-based Congo Research Group, atrocities of various armed groups in Kivu in the period between June 2017 and June 2019 include violent murder (1,041 incidents with 1,897 victims), mass rape (24 incidents with 100 victims) and abduction for ransom (848 incidents with 3,316 victims), in addition to hundreds of incidents of property destruction, political repression and clashes. Africa News

Nigerians Protest Detention of Sowore, Other Activists by Buhari Govt
Nigerians again took to the streets of Abuja on Wednesday to demand immediate release of journalists and activists imprisoned by the Nigerian government. The protesters, led by Deji Adeyanju, said authorities should immediately release Omoyele Sowore, Stephen Kefas, Jones Abiri and other Nigerians held for exercising their rights to free speech and cease further punitive actions against them. The protest was disrupted by security forces near the Unity Fountain shortly after it began, but the protesters said they were able to vent their displeasure. Mr Sowore was arrested by the State Security Service on August 3 for planning a protest to demand an end to growing insecurity and economic hardship in the country. Mr Kefas has been in custody for his social media activism, while Mr Abiri has been on and off SSS custody since 2016. Premium Times

South Sudan Rivals to Meet over Stalled Peace Deal
South Sudan’s rival parties will meet in Ethiopia next week, in a bid to salvage the peace deal, with three months left before a unity government is meant to be formed. President Salva Kiir, opposition leader Riek Machar and a handful of other opposition groups signed the peace deal in September 2018. However creating a unified army and determining the number of states remain the most challenging issues in the agreement. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional bloc, invited all parties to the peace deal for a meeting in Addis Ababa on 21 August. The regional grouping that brokered the South Sudan peace deal said there is lack of progress in tackling pending tasks of the peace agreement. Radio Tamazuj

Sadc to Press against Zimbabwe Sanctions
Removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe will top the agenda of the coming summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc). The minister of Foreign and East African Cooperation Palamagamba Kabudi said this was one of the recommendations which will be presented to the regional leaders during their Summit over the weekend. He told journalists at the end of the bloc’s session of the Council of Ministers on Wednesday that the decision was arrived at because the situation in the once troubled southern African country has normalized. … He mentioned another key agenda as spearheading efforts for industrialization in order to enhance economic growth and create employment for millions of the unemployed youth in the region. The Citizen

South Africa Targeted in North Korean Cyber Attack
South Africa was one of 17 countries hit by North Korean attackers to raise money for its weapons of mass destruction programmes, the Associated Press reported. According to articles from the Associated Press and Reuters, members of the press have seen a report prepared for the UN Security Council which has not yet been published. This Security Council report states that investigations are underway into at least 35 cases where North Koreans launched cyberattacks in 17 countries with the aim of raising funds. In total, North Korea has reportedly raised up to $2 billion (R28.4 billion) through its cybercriminal activities. The report stated that North Korea accessed bank infrastructure and employee computers to attack the SWIFT system, sending fraudulent messages and destroying evidence. It also said that cryptojacking attacks were traced back to North Korea. It identified one instance where malware was used to mine Monero and send the mined tokens to servers at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang. Business Tech

Japan to Voice Concern over African Nations’ Debt Issues at TICAD Meet
Japan plans to include “concern” over excessive debt in the declaration for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development later this month, government sources said Sunday, a move aimed at calling out China’s lending practices in the region. China has been criticized for handing out large loans under its Belt and Road infrastructure development initiative to countries that are ill-equipped to pay off the debt, often called debt-trap diplomacy. The seventh session of the conference, held once every three years, will take place from Aug. 28 through 30 with leaders from 54 African countries and international organizations set to attend. … Japan wants the post-conference declaration to include references to some African countries being saddled with debt, and touch on the importance of “high quality” infrastructure, a phrase Japan often uses to differentiate its projects from Chinese ones. Japan Times

Facebook Is Going after Fake News in Local African Languages
Facebook is going local as it doubles down on tackling its global fake news problem. The social media giant is adding checks to local language content on its platform among African users. The move is part of an ongoing third party fact-checking program in partnership with Africa Check, an independent fact-checking organization. The program will now be expanded with language support for major local languages, including Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa in Nigeria, Afrikaans, isiZulu, Setswana, Sotho, Northern Sotho and Southern Ndebele in South Africa, Swahili in Kenya and Wolof in Senegal. Each of the selected languages have over a million native speakers. Quartz Africa



Photo: Adam Jones