Africa Media Review for August 24, 2017

Angola: Real Change, or Just Old Wine in New Wineskins?
[…] Political power in Angola has existed at the nexus of the ruling party, the armed forces, big business, and the economy. Some see Lourenço’s elevation as a choreographed move to ensure that the MPLA’s hegemony and deeply entrenched patronage network will remain intact. Others believe that reforms will gradually take root, pointing to Lourenço’s stated determination to pursue transparency as an early indicator. To gain perspective on this transition, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies has asked Angola experts Rebecca Engebretsen, Soren Kirk Jensen, Andre Thomashausen, and Alex Vines to share their views on the priority issues that will shape Angola’s future. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Angolans Will Elect a New President, But Reform Seen Unlikely
Angolans voted for a new parliament and president on Wednesday, but many say the balance of power in Africa’s fifth-largest economy is unlikely to shift. Outgoing President José Eduardo dos Santos, who has ruled the country for 38 years, has left in place safeguards to ensure his legacy and influence, including the continued role of his daughter, Isabel dos Santos, as chief executive of the oil-rich nation’s energy company, Sonangol. Dos Santos will also remain leader of Angola’s ruling party, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA. Last month, the MPLA-controlled parliament enacted a law that will prevent the incoming president from removing heads of the country’s army, security and intelligence services until 2025. VOA

Islamists Behead 11 in Attack on Checkpoint in Central Libya
At least 11 people were beheaded on Wednesday in an attack by Islamist fighters on a checkpoint controlled by forces loyal to military commander Khalifa Haftar in central Libya, according to a spokesman for Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army. Nine soldiers and two civilians were among those “slaughtered” at the checkpoint, Colonel Ahmad al-Masmari said in a tweet, blaming Islamic State. Both Islamic State and Benghazi Defense Brigades, another Islamist militia opposed to Haftar, have fighters in the Jufra region where the attack took place, some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the coastal city of Sirte. Haftar is aligned with a government based in the east of Libya, which is vying for power with the United Nations-backed unity administration of Fayez al-Sarraj in the capital, Tripoli. Haftar’s forces now control most of eastern Libya, including key oil facilities. Bloomberg

Crime Wave Stalks South Sudan’s Capital as War Ruins Economy
When three rifle-toting men in army uniforms barged into Silvano Pitia’s supplies store this month, he became the latest victim of a crime wave that’s rocking South Sudan’s war-weary, hunger-stricken capital. “They told me that if I didn’t make them happy that night I would visit heaven or hell,” said Pitia, who was charging mobile phones and laptops for customers at his store in Juba, the capital, until the armed men seized the devices and about 200,000 South Sudanese pounds ($1,590) in cash. One gunman said they had the right to steal from the city’s inhabitants because the government hadn’t paid them, the 43-year-old shopkeeper recalled. The Aug. 12 theft was part of a surge in crime in Juba, a city of an estimated 500,000 people where armed robberies have claimed at least 53 lives this month and are almost twice as common as in July, according to the local Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, which collates figures. Authorities say they’re investigating claims that soldiers are mainly responsible and blame economic upheaval linked to the almost four-year civil war that’s caused prices to soar. Bloomberg

South Sudan Runs out of Fuel
In South Sudan, gas stations across the country are running out of fuel. Imports have slowed down because roads to east Africa are either blocked or frequently attacked. On top of this, the fuel import business has become difficult with inflation at about 800 percent. As a result, many fuel traders have simply given up importing. RFI

Mali Governor Returns to Northern State as Part of Ceasefire
Rival armed groups in northern Mali agreed to the return of a state governor to the desert city of Kidal for the first time in years as part of a ceasefire deal signed on Wednesday after weeks of fighting. The return of Governor Sidi Mohamed Ag Ichrach follows a truce among fighters drawn mostly from competing Tuareg clans involved in remote desert battles since July that have killed dozens. The clashes have undermined a Western-backed peace process in the country and complicated efforts to counter al Qaeda-linked militants. Radhia Achouri, spokeswoman for the United Nations mission in Mali, said the truce had been agreed between CMA, an alliance of separatist groups seeking autonomy for a region of northern Mali, and Platform, their pro-government opponents. Reuters

ECOWAS CDP Condemns Togo’s Political Violence
The Ghana Chapter of the ECOWAS Community Development (ECOWAS CDP) Media Network has condemned the political violence in Togo. Two protesters were killed and hundreds wounded in Togo on Saturday when security forces opened fire to break up demonstrations against the ruling Gnassingbe family dynasty. President Faure Gnassingbe has been in power in the West African country since the death in 2005 of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who had been at the helm for 38 years. In a statement, the ECOWAS CDP stated that Infrastructure and systems built over the years could be destroyed if immediate steps are not taken to arrest the conflict in time. The statement added that “similarly, intra-regional trade between Togo and other countries within the ECOWAS sub-region could suffer severely, a situation that could lead to the loss of livelihoods of the majority of citizens who could be trading on the commodity markets or engage in transit trade.”  Star FM

​Somalia: First Batch of Turkish Troops Arrives in Mogadishu
Turkish troops have landed in Mogadishu, the first batch of more soldiers expected to arrive in the horn of Africa country in the coming days, Garowe Online reports. An estimated 200 soldiers arrived at Aden Adde International Airport by Turkish Airlines, and they were deployed to a newly built large Military training base at Jazeera, a coastal area in southern Mogadishu. In July, Turkey has announced it finalized the construction of a military base in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, in which Turkish military personnel will train the Somali Federal government troops. The President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to visit Mogadishu next month to cut the ribbon off the new military base, with the attendance of top Somali government officials. GaroweOnline

Nigeria’s Buhari Cancels Weekly Cabinet Meeting
Nigeria’s weekly cabinet meeting was abruptly called off on Wednesday without official explanation, again raising concerns about whether the country’s 74-year-old president, Muhammadu Buhari, could withstand the rigors of holding office. Buhari returned to Nigeria on Saturday after a 103-day spell in London where he received treatment for an undisclosed disease. “The meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) will not be held today,” presidential spokesman Femi Adesina said in a short statement Wednesday morning. Buhari spent Monday at the presidential villa, with officials saying the reason he did not work from his office was due to ongoing renovation. Anadolu Agency

Chad to Shutter Qatar Embassy, Expel Diplomats
Chad is shuttering Qatar’s embassy and giving its diplomats 10 days to leave the country, accusing the Gulf Arab state of trying to destabilise the central African nation via its northern neighbour Libya, it said on Wednesday. It is not the first African state to move against Qatar following its rift with other Gulf states including the United Arab Emirates and Saudia Arabia, whose charities funnel millions of dollars in aid money to west and central Africa. Senegal said this week that it had reinstated its ambassador to Qatar after having recalled him three months ago, in a bid to encourage a peaceful resolution to the feud. “In order to safeguard peace and security in the region, Chad calls on Qatar to cease all actions that could undermine its security as well as those of the countries of the Lake Chad basin and the Sahel,” the foreign ministry statement said. Reuters

Egypt Cancels Kushner Meeting with Minister after Denial of Aid
Egypt called off a scheduled meeting between its foreign minister and top U.S. presidential adviser Jared Kushner on Wednesday after the United States decided to withhold millions of dollars in aid. But President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi would meet the U.S. delegation led by Kushner later in the day as scheduled, Sisi’s office said. Two U.S. sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday that Washington had decided to deny Egypt $95.7 million in aid and to delay a further $195 million because of its failure to make progress on respecting human rights and democratic norms. “Egypt sees this measure as reflecting poor judgment of the strategic relationship that ties the two countries over long decades and as adopting a view that lacks an accurate understanding of the importance of supporting Egypt’s stability,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. Reuters

Is Child Labor the Price for E-Cars?
Whether in cars, laptops or smartphones, cobalt is in nearly all batteries. The biggest supplier is the Democratic Republic of Congo, where human rights are often violated in the mines. Young men, armed with only torchlight and tools climb down in a deep, dark hole, without helmet or security gear. The path becomes even smaller as they go further down in the unsecured tunnel. To remove the cobalt, the young miners use chisels and hand hooks and then place the gem rocks into bags, which are then pulled up by another miner above ground. The rights group Amnesty International witnessed this scene during a research trip in Kasulu, the former Katanga province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). These mine workers are known in the DRC as Creuseurs, loosely translated as the diggers. Deutsche Welle

Ethiopia: Oromia Region Observes Shutdown Called by Opposition
Ethiopia’s Oromia region has been hit by a five-day shutdown called by the main opposition group – the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). The OFC says it has planned the protest to run from today (August 23) till Sunday August 27. The party said the call had been heeded with businesses and transportation service muted in most parts of the region. Local media reports that the purpose of the strike is to remember protesters who were killed during the anti-government protests last year. It is also aimed at demanding the release of political prisoners arrested during the deadly protests. The spreading protests led to the imposition of a state of emergency in October 2016. The six-month directive was earlier this month lifted by the parliament. It lasted a total of 10-months due to a four-month renewal in April this year. Africa News

Cameroon School Set on Fire as Anglophone Strike Deepens
At least half a dozen schools in Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions have been burned in the past week. It is the latest sign of deepening tensions as the ongoing strike in Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions enters its tenth month. The strike began in November 2016 with anglophone teachers and lawyers in the northwest and the southeast. They said English-speaking citizens are marginalized in the bilingual country and demanded reforms. But secessionist groups soon joined the movement, and their calls for full independence for the English-speaking zones derailed dialogue and helped spur a government crackdown. Continued arson attacks in Cameroon’s English-speaking northwest have prompted calls for the creation of self-defense militia. Some parents in Bamenda said it is no longer safe after their children’s school, the Baptist Comprehensive High School, was set ablaze August 13. VOA

Obama’s Power Africa Initiative Short of Goal despite Gains
A new report on Barack Obama’s main legacy project for Africa shows it is falling short of his original goal of bringing electricity to 20 million households in Kenya, Tanzania and four other countries by 2018. Obama’s Power Africa initiative, announced in 2013, has so far helped connect only about half the projected number of households, according to the programme’s 2017 annual report published on Monday. “To date Power Africa has supported private-sector companies and utilities in connecting a total of 10.6 million homes and businesses to power solutions — that is approximately 53 million people who have gained access to electricity since 2013,” the report states. The East African

A Cyclone in Madagascar Has Made Vanilla Four Times More Expensive
As a huge tropical storm drifted westward across the Indian Ocean in March, it set itself on a collision course with the world’s sweet tooth. Cyclone Enawo wreaked havoc on Madagascar, inflicting enough damage on the world’s biggest vanilla producer to roil the global vanilla trade and send prices to a record high of more than $600 per kilogram. And as farmers on the ground have worked to recover in subsequent months, those prices have trickled down to consumers in places thousands of miles away from the island nation. The vast majority of vanilla-flavored products on the market use artificial flavoring, such as synthetic Vanillin. But for companies looking to capitalize on consumer interest in foods made without artificial ingredients, maintaining a steady supply of all-natural vanilla is taking a toll. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones