Africa Media Review for August 24, 2022

A New Generation of Voters Will Test Angola’s Longtime Governing Party
A new generation of Angolans, many disillusioned with their country’s political system and corruption, will vote for the first time on Wednesday, posing a challenge to a governing party that has traditionally presented its continued dominance as a stable alternative to the country’s bloody past. The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, a liberation army turned political party, is expected to win — as it has in four previous elections. But while the result is unlikely to be a surprise, analysts will be watching the margin closely for signs about the country’s political future. Across southern Africa, historic political movements are falling out of favor among younger urban voters for whom economic obstacles are beginning to outweigh nostalgic rhetoric. In Angola’s capital, Luanda, where streets are named for war heroes, the youths are largely unemployed, as is more than 30 percent of the population. New York Times

Angolans Head to Elections in Tightest Ever Race
Eight political parties are running, but the real contest lies between the MPLA and its long-standing rival and ex-rebel movement the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita). Opinion polls suggest that support for the MPLA — which won 61 percent of the vote in 2017 elections — will dwindle, while the Unita, which has entered an electoral pact with two other parties, will make gains. But Unita’s inroads might not be enough to unseat Lourenco, who is expected to secure a second mandate.  Still, it is unlikely to be a smooth swing back into office for the 68-year-old, who succeeded veteran leader Jose Eduardo dos Santos five years ago. “The margins will be closer than ever before… but the advantages of incumbency mean MPLA is still odds on to pip Costa (Junior),” said Eric Humphery-Smith, an analyst at London-based Verisk Maplecroft. East African

Pickets Get Under Way as Fresh Stats Reflect Growing Cost-of-Living Crisis in South Africa
This march is a starting point to getting ordinary people to become aware that the personal and financial crisis they’re encountering is a bigger part of this country’s social problems,” Trevor Ngwane, an activist and academic who researches social movements and protests at the University of Johannesburg, told Daily Maverick on Wednesday morning. As protesters gathered, Statistics South Africa released the latest figures reflecting the increased cost of living in the country, with rises in petrol, electricity and transport. Across the country, workers affiliated with the two largest trade unions, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), started gathering on the streets in the morning to take part in the protests. Daily Maverick

China Waived Debt for 17 African Countries to Argue Against Western Bullying
China, Africa’s largest bilateral lender, waived debt owed by 17 countries in the continent for 23 interest-free loans that were due in 2021. The context of the latest relief reinforces China’s intention for Africa to consider the Asian power its preferred long-term development partner…The relief was announced on Aug. 18 in an address to Chinese and African diplomats at a follow-up meeting on the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation that was held last November in Senegal. At that forum last year, China reduced its pledge to Africa by 33% in an apparent show of concern for Africa’s indebtedness to it and against the backdrop of slowing Chinese economic growth. Specifics of the announced relief are not known as the beneficiaries and amount were not disclosed. China canceled debt due to interest-free loans worth $113.8 million that matured in 2020 for 15 African countries including Botswana, Burundi, Rwanda, Cameroon, the DRC, and Mozambique. Quartz Africa

African Countries Eye 2030 Start for Generating Nuclear Energy
At least seven African countries are at various stages – commissioning, shopping for vendors and mapping appropriate sites – in the roll-out of nuclear power plants, as a majority eye 2030 as a start-date for generating electricity from nuclear energy. Egypt is currently the only country to have begun construction, following the formal launch of a site in July. The US$25 billion project, being developed by Russian state energy corporation Rosatom, will have total installed capacity of 4.8 gigawatts (GW) made up of four, 1,200 megawatt reactors, when complete… Kenya is also inching closer to the development stage, after identifying two coastal sites – Kilifi and Kwale counties – earlier in the year, to put up the country’s first nuclear power generator. The country’s Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA) has estimated the project would cost about US$50 million, with construction works planned for 2030, a test run four years later and full operations projected for 2036. Bird Story Agency

International Army Games: Putin Promises to Supply Arms to ‘Allies, Partners, Like-Minded Counterparts’
In the midst of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin is hosting the International Army Games 2022, attended by numerous African countries. Central African Republic (CAR), Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Mali, Algeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Nigeria and Sudan sent armies to the war games, hosted by the Russian Ministry of Defence. This year, the games are running from 13 to 27 August and features Russia’s allies, such as China, Belarus, Indonesia and Uzbekistan, among other Asian and South American nations that have strong military and diplomatic ties to Russia and Putin…Zimbabwe, Mali, DRC, Sudan and CAR feature on the United Nations and European Union arms embargo list, but Russia seeks to strengthen relations with these countries…Teams compete to show their military might and level of cooperation and display. The Russian games are underway after the United States Army hosted its version, called the African Lion, which was hosted in Morocco, Ghana, Senegal and Tunisia from 6 to 30 June. News 24

COVID and the Ukraine War Are Squeezing Africa’s Power Companies to Death
Ghana’s electric grid is in dire straits. In the mid-2010s, fuel supply shortages and drought, compounded by population growth, led to a severe deficit of electricity and frequent blackouts. The government responded with generous offers on long-term electricity purchase agreements from private power plant developers, who in turn built an impressive new fleet of hydro, gas, and geothermal facilities. Today, the problem has swung the other way: Ghana has too much electricity, but the state-owned utility is locked into contracts it no longer needs or wants, and runs at an annual deficit of $1 billion. Now, the pandemic and the war in Ukraine are making the situation worse, pushing many utilities in Africa—which have long been strapped for cash regardless—close to financial collapse, according to an Aug. 23 research paper by Energy for Growth Hub, a Washington think tank. In addition to the risk of blackouts and crippling public debt, the crisis is impeding climate action: Many utilities lack the means to build sorely needed transmission lines and integrate renewable energy, even when doing so would lower long-term costs for the utilities and their customers. Quartz Africa

Tanzania Begins Weeklong Population Census
Tanzania has launched a nationwide week-long population and housing census that will delve deeper than in the past to identify bona fide citizens, immigrants, refugees, foreign residents and passing visitors along with employment statuses and other livelihood engagements. President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who designated Tuesday as a public holiday for the exercise, was the first to be enumerated at the Chamwino State House in the capital Dodoma. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is asking a raft of questions, about 100, related to age, gender, birthplace, residential status (ownership and tenancy), education, employment and financial inclusion status. It is also collecting details on marital status, reproductive health and technology use. East African

Fighting Resumes in Ethiopia Despite Truce – Tigray Forces
Fighting has erupted between forces from Ethiopia’s rebellious northern region of Tigray and central government forces around the town of Kobo, residents and the spokesman for the Tigrayan forces said on Wednesday, ending a months-long ceasefire. “I am hearing sound of heavy weapons starting from this morning,” a farmer in the Kobo area who did not wish to be named, told Reuters news agency. “Last week, I saw Amhara special forces and Fano [volunteer militia] heading to the front by bus.” A second resident said he also heard heavy weapons and confirmed that in the past two days there had been major movement of Fano militia and special forces from the neighbouring Amhara region to the area. Ethiopian government spokesman Legesse Tulu, military spokesman Colonel Getnet Adane and prime minister’s spokeswoman Billene Seyoum did not respond to requests for comment. Al Jazeera

Kenya Election Official Dies in Unclear Circumstances
A Kenyan election official who was in charge of a constituency in the just-ended elections collapsed and died on Monday. Geoffrey Gitobu was at the electoral body’s offices in Nanyuki town, in central Kenya, when he collapsed and was pronounced dead at a hospital near the office. He was in charge of elections in Gichugu constituency, Kirinyaga country in central Kenya. Mr Gitobu had not complained of any illness and was in Nanyuki to visit his family over the weekend before heading to the office on Monday. According to County Returning Officer Jane Gitonga, the deceased was supposed to report back to his Kirinyaga base on Wednesday, bbc reports sourcing the Star newspaper. The official’s death comes days after another officer in charge of a constituency in the capital, Nairobi, was tortured and murdered after disappearing from a tallying centre. The electoral commission’s chairperson Wafula Chebukati had earlier said officers were being intimidated and threatened over the 9 August general election. AfricaNews

U.S. Signs Agreement with FG to Return $23M Abacha Loot
United States (US) government has signed an agreement with the Federal Government to repatriate $23 million Abacha loot to Nigeria. The agreement was signed, yesterday, at the office of Abubakar Malami, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF). In his speech, Malami said the decision to return the stolen funds, which is tagged, ‘Abacha-5’, was a product of series of negotiations and meetings between Nigeria, the US Department of Justice and the United Kingdom (UK) National Crime Agency…The US ambassador noted that the funds would be used to complete infrastructural projects earlier mentioned by the AGF. She added: “In other words, these recovered criminal proceeds, like the $311.7 million previously seized and repatriated, will be transformed into a visible and impactful representation of the possibilities of government assets that directly improve the lives of average Nigerians. Guardian Nigeria

DRC: UN Peacekeeping Force Monusco Leaves Butembo Base After Losing Public Support
The United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Monusco, is evacuating its base in the eastern town of Butembo. Local civil society actors say they feel ‘a sense of satisfaction’ and congratulate ‘the population who mobilised as one to demand the unconditional withdrawal of this contingent’. “We would like them (the Monusco contingents, ed.) to withdraw from Beni territory, as well as from Lubero territory, and why not from North Kivu, as we have indicated in the four civil society coordinations of the north.” says Mathe Saanane, president of Butembo civil society. Anger has been fuelled by perceptions that MONUSCO is failing to do enough to stop decades of armed conflict. More than 120 militias operate in the DRC’s troubled east. UN bases in eastern DRC were assailed last month by protesters angered at MONUSCO’s perceived failure to provide security Deadly clashes broke out on Tuesday between DR Congo troops and an armed group at an empty UN base in the country’s troubled east, officials said. AfricaNews

ICC Prosecutor Suggests Holding a UN Security Council Session in Sudan
The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, has warned of the dire consequences of impunity for those Sudanese wanted by the court, and said it could lead to more crimes against humanity. “The nightmare for thousands of Darfuris has not ended.” In his briefing to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Tuesday, the first ever Security Council briefing from within a country where the court is pursuing justice, Khan urged the Council to do more to deliver justice for the people of Darfur. Following his two-day visit to South Darfur, where he visited Kalma camp, with 300,000 residents one of the largest displacement camps in the region, and the Hasaheisa and Hamidiya camps in and Central Darfur, Khan stressed the need for “actual action, not promises”. The start of the trial of former janjaweed leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abdelrahman (known as ‘Ali Kushayb’) gave the victims hope for justice, he said. He stressed that the situation in Sudan needs to be properly prioritised. “The nightmare for thousands of Darfuris has not ended,” he said, and warned of the dire consequences of impunity for those Sudanese wanted by the court, and said it could lead to more crimes against humanity. Dabanga



Photo: Adam Jones