Africa Media Review for August 19, 2022

A Dictator’s Ghost Haunts Angola’s Upcoming Elections
How much is a dead dictator worth? Quite a lot, judging by the squabble over the corpse of José Eduardo dos Santos, the kleptocratic ruler of Angola from 1979 to 2017, who died in a hospital in Barcelona on July 8th…However unseemly, the saga reveals much about Mr Lourenço’s presidency. When he took office in 2017 the former defence minister pledged to root out alleged corruption centred on the dos Santos clan. He said he would diversify the economy. But the campaign against graft has stalled and the economy still depends on oil…Such economic difficulties have helped opposition parties, most notably the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (unita), the mpla’s old opponent in the civil war. Under the leadership of Adalberto Costa Júnior, the party is attracting large crowds, especially in the urban areas that account for 65% of the country’s population. A survey published in May by Afrobarometer, a pan-African pollster, suggested that support for the mpla had dipped from 38% in 2019 to 29% earlier this year, while backing for unita had risen from 13% to 22%. (Some 31% refused to say whom they would support, while the rest did not know or said they would not vote). Economist

Unequal and Divided, Angola Braces for Tense Election
Angolans head to the polls next week in what is likely to be a tense standoff between a ruling party in power for nearly five decades and an opposition with growing appeal to a frustrated, impoverished youth. The MPLA, led by João Lourenço since 2017, has governed Africa’s second-biggest oil producer since independence from Portugal in 1975. But longtime opposition party UNITA is stronger than ever, as anger grows at government failures to convert vast oil wealth into better living conditions for all. Angola, one of the world’s most unequal nations, will on 24 August elect a new president and lawmakers in its fifth multi-party election since the first in 1992. Half of Angolans live in poverty and more than half of those under 25 are unemployed, facts which UNITA hopes to capitalise on in promising a change of regime. Half of voters are under 35. Reuters

How Odinga’s Rejection of Election Results Is Affecting Kenya’s Economy
In the streets of Nairobi, it appears to be business as usual as people return to work even after the Aug. 16 announcement by presidential candidate Raila Odinga that he will be moving to court to challenge William Ruto’s win. The macro economy tells a different story, though. Following the election stalemate, local investors are now hesitant to lend to the new government, as the August treasury bond price fell below target. The investors want a return of 12.45% but the central bank can only offer 11.8%. Kenya’s trade deficit climbed to a record $6 billion in the past five months of this year. Inflation hit 8.3% in July, and as Kenyans continue to suffer through rising food prices, a plunging currency, and mass unemployment, local and foreign investors are holding onto their funds as they await the outcome of the petition. “In the coming days, foreign investors will be closely watching for any deterioration of the security situation, while seeking to better understand the potential impact of the proposed ‘bottom-up’ economic model,” Jay Truesdale, CEO of Veracity Worldwide, a global political risk consultancy told Quartz. Quartz Africa

Kenyatta, Ruto and Odinga Commit to Peace After Talks with US Delegation
President Uhuru Kenyatta has committed to fostering peace in the transition period following his meeting with a delegation of US legislators led by Senator Chris Coons on Thursday. The delegation also met with President-elect William Ruto and his rival Raila Odinga at separate meetings in Nairobi.  President Kenyatta said the country would “remain steadfast in entrenching the principles of good governance to ensure the country upholds its position of a shining example of democracy in the continent by maintaining peace during this transition period.” The US lawmakers applauded Mr Kenyatta’s leadership for ensuring peace and stability during the election period… The delegation has already visited Cape Verde and Mozambique. After Kenya, the team heads to Rwanda a week following US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s visit for talks on the tensions with the Democratic Republic of Congo. East African

Guinea-Bissau: For Former Rebel in West Africa, Her Allegiance Still Lies with Russia
When her country needed arms to fight its bitter liberation war against its colonizer, it was the Soviet Union that provided them. When her country needed medical workers to tend to the war’s wounded, it sent her to train as a nurse — in the Soviet Union. So when Joana Gomes, now a lawmaker in the West African country of Guinea-Bissau, heard about the war between Russia and Ukraine, her allegiance was clear from the start: It would be with Russia, although she sometimes slips and still calls it the Soviet Union. “It was with their arms that we won our independence,” Ms. Gomes, 72, said on a recent rainy afternoon, cooking lunch at home in the capital, Bissau. “If not for them, even today we would not have our independence.” When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, some voices were absent from the global concert of condemnation, many of them African. Sixteen of the 35 countries that abstained from the United Nations vote to condemn Russia’s actions were in Africa, as was one of the five that voted no, Eritrea. For many African countries, ties with Moscow run deep. The Soviet Union supported many African liberation wars, supplying training, education and weapons to freedom fighters like Ms. Gomes. Nearly six decades later, she hasn’t forgotten. New York Times

Emirates to Suspend Nigeria Flights over Blocked Funds
Emirates airline will suspend all flights to Nigeria from September 1. According to the Dubai based airline, the West African country has failed to repatriate millions of dollars of its funds. The airline said it took the “difficult decision” in order to limit further losses, citing circumstances “beyond our control,” in a statement on Thursday August 18. Emirates announced in July that it has $85 million “awaiting repatriation from Nigeria,” a figure it said was rising by more than $10 million every month. “Emirates has tried every avenue to address our ongoing challenges in repatriating funds from Nigeria, and have made considerable efforts to initiate dialogue with the relevant authorities for their urgent intervention to help find a viable solution,” the airline said adding that “Regrettably there has been no progress.” Other international airlines operating in Nigeria also have revenues trapped in the country which the International Air Transport Association said in June amounted to $450 million. AfricaNews with AP

Nigeria: Experts Task Buhari, Govs on How to Rescue Ailing Economy
A high-level meeting of the 36 state governors with President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, primed to draw out some far-reaching and drastic measures to tackle the economic hardship that has afflicted Nigerians under this administration, turned out to be an anti-climax. While the President was absent at the meeting, which held at the State House Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the governors in attendance set aside deliberations on the 33 ideas they earlier suggested for the President to implement in salvaging the nation’s economy, to rather respond to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), over controversy trailing the proposed deductions of the $418 million Paris Club Refund from the Federation Account. This is as Nigeria’s consumer price index (CPI), which is used to measure the level of inflation in the country, has risen by 170.2 per cent under President Buhari’s administration between June 2015 and July 2022. Guardian Nigeria

France Rejects Mali’s Accusations That It Helped Arm Islamist Fighters
The accusations mark a new low in relations amid reports that Russian mercenaries hired by Mali’s military government were flocking to fill the power vacuum left by French troops leaving the country, prompting new worries among Western powers over the security situation in the Sahel region. Mali says France has violated its airspace and delivered arms to Islamist militants in an attempt to destabilise the West African country, the latest in a barrage of accusations that have marked a bitter end to their once-close relations. In a letter to the head of the United Nations Security Council dated Monday, Mali’s foreign affairs minister, Abdoulaye Diop, said its airspace has been breached more than 50 times this year, mostly by French forces using drones, military helicopters and fighter jets. “These flagrant violations of Malian airspace were used by France to collect information for terrorist groups operating in the Sahel and to drop arms and ammunition to them,” the letter said. France 24

Ghana’s Runaway Inflation Pushed Its Central Bank to a Record Interest Rate Spike
Overwhelmed by high costs of food, transportation, and other necessities, Ghana is hoping that a new increase in the cost of borrowing will quell a streak of 11 straight months of rising inflation. After an emergency meeting on Aug. 17, the Bank of Ghana raised interest rates from its July level of 19% to 22%. Ghana’s interest rate has exceeded that mark before—it was at 26% for 11 months until November 2016. But the 3% increase this time is the highest jump the Bank has made between monetary policy meetings since 2002, per the Financial Times. The backdrop for the spike is a July inflation rate of 31.7%, the country’s highest since 2003. Ghana wants its inflation at around 8% but recent realities, especially in the months after the pandemic, have made that an illusion. Rising food prices have contributed to Ghana’s inflation this year, with food inflation increasing to 32.3% in July. There’s a similar situation in Nigeria where a sixth straight month of rising inflation was confirmed this week, driven by 22% food inflation. But where the Central Bank of Nigeria has only raised rates in small leaps this year (it’s rate is currently at 14%), its west African neighbor has been more aggressive. Quartz Africa

Ethiopia Calls WHO Chief’s Comments on Tigray “Unethical”
Ethiopia’s government has described as “unethical” the statement by the World Health Organization’s director-general that the crisis in the country’s Tigray region is “the worst disaster on Earth” and his assertion that the lack of attention from global leaders may be due to Tigrayans’ skin color. The spokeswoman for Ethiopia’s prime minister on Thursday told journalists that the comments by WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus were “unbecoming of such a high-profile position.” Billene Seyoum suggested that Tedros, himself an ethnic Tigrayan, should recuse himself from his post if he wants to talk that way. The WHO chief in an emotional statement on Wednesday at a press briefing asserted that the 6 million people in Tigray have been “under siege” for the last 21 months because of the conflict that erupted there in late 2020 between Ethiopian and Tigray forces. “I haven’t heard in the last few months any head of state talking about the Tigray situation anywhere in the developed world. Anywhere. Why?” Tedros asked. “Maybe the reason is the color of the skin of the people in Tigray.” Very little humanitarian aid was allowed into Tigray after Tigray forces retook much of the region in June 2021, and humanitarian workers and local health workers described people starving to death and basic medical supplies running out. AfricaNews with AP

Nearly Half the People in Ethiopia’s Tigray Need Food Aid- WFP
The nearly two-year conflict in Ethiopia has left almost half the population of Tigray region without adequate food, as aid groups struggle to reach rural areas because of insufficient fuel supplies, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday. Even though the delivery of aid resumed after the federal government declared a unilateral ceasefire in March, malnutrition rates have “skyrocketed” and are expected to worsen, the United Nations agency said in an assessment. Services such as banking and telecommunications were cut in Tigray, home to around 5.5 million people, days after the national army and allied forces pulled out a year ago. They are yet to be restored, hampering the ability of people to buy food, the WFP said. Reuters

95 Killed in South Sudan Communal Conflicts
At least 95 people have been killed in communal conflicts in South Sudan in July alone, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has reported. A humanitarian snapshot released by UNOCHA on Thursday and seen by The EastAfrican adds that more than 17,500 people were also displaced. “At least 80 people were killed during intercommunal violence in Kapoeta North County, Eastern Equatoria. Fighting between armed factions in Mayom County, Unity State resulted in dozens of people being killed or injured. “Cattle raids in Gumuruk County, Pibor Administrative Area, displaced some 1,700 people and left 15 dead. Torrential rain and floods affected nearly 2,400 people in the IDP site, Twic County in Warrap,” OCHA stated. The agency added that some 7.7 million people are estimated to face crisis or higher levels of food insecurity across the country. East African

East African Regional Bloc Begins Deployment of Troops to DRC
Burundi this week became the first country to send troops to the Democratic Republic of the Congo as part of an East African regional force that aims to end decades of unrest in the eastern DRC. But few details have been released about the deployment and some security experts worry that Burundi, like other DRC neighbors, has its own security agenda. Burundi is the first of six East African regional forces, or EAC, to deploy troops in the DRC. Great Lakes Region security analyst Dismas Nkunda said the deployment of EAC troops is possible with the deployment of Burundi troops. “It’s a welcome idea because we had a suspicion that most countries in the region had an interest in DRC, such as Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and therefore, we had thought the only countries maybe would have deployed without conflict of interest would have been Tanzania, South Sudan and Kenya,” he said. “But now that Burundi has done it, it certainly means that eventually, a peacekeeping operation by the EAC is going to happen.” The East African integration bloc agreed in June to send thousands of troops to help quell the violence in the region after the emergence of the rebel group M23. Voice of America

 



Photo: Adam Jones