Africa Media Review for August 31, 2017

President Kagame Names Little-Known Technocrat as PM
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has appointed a little-known technocrat to the country’s second seat of power. President Kagame named Dr Edouard Ngirente as the new Prime Minister on Wednesday afternoon. The head of State had been expected to begin naming his new Cabinet right after taking oath on August 18, following his re-election. Article 116 of the Constitution gives the President 15 days to appoint a Prime Minister who then has 15 days to announce a new Cabinet. “In reference to the Rwandan Constitution as amended to date, President Kagame has appointed Edouard Ngirente as the new Prime Minister,” a statement from the president’s office read Wednesday. The East African

Cameroon President Orders Case Dropped against Anglophone Protesters
Cameroon’s president on Wednesday ordered a military court to drop its prosecution of three Anglophone activists and some of their supporters in a bid to ease tensions in the central African nation’s minority English-speaking regions. The men – Felix Agbor Balla, Fontem Aforteka’a Neba and Paul Ayah Abine – were arrested following protests late last year by English speakers demanding equal treatment in the majority Francophone country. The case, tried under anti-terrorism laws enacted to combat Islamist Boko Haram militants in the north, stoked tensions in the North-West and South-West regions, further fuelling opposition to President Paul Biya’s mainly French-speaking government. Reuters

Britain Halves Foreign Aid Money to Nigeria
Britain has halved the amount of money given to Nigeria in humanitarian aid, saying the country’s government must “step up and do more” to stop Boko Haram extremists. It follows a joint visit by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, to Nigeria to see the UK’s response to the humanitarian crisis, where they saw how British military had been training Nigerian soldiers to fight militant Islamist group Boko Haram. Last night the Government announced £200million of aid funding for the four years from 2018 to 2022. It amounts to £50million per year, half the amount given for 2017. The Telegraph

Somalia Peacekeeping Mission Gets Renewed, with Some Trims
The African Union’s multinational peacekeeping force in Somalia is shrinking slightly by the end of the year as it heads toward planned withdrawal from the country by 2020. The United Nations Security Council renewed the decade-old mission on Wednesday until the end of next May. The renewal makes some changes that reflect efforts to start handing over security responsibilities to Somali forces. It trims the more than 22 000-strong force, known as AMISOM , by 500 troops by the end of this year. It cuts 1 000 more troops by the end of October 2018 or possibly sooner. Somalia is trying to rebuild after more than two decades as a failed state riven by conflict, famine and attacks by the al-Shabaab Islamic extremist group. AMISOM has been supporting the fragile central government. News 24

U.S. Troops Risk Inflaming Clan Conflict after Deadly Somalia Raid
A raid involving U.S. troops in Somalia has caused a rift between the precarious U.S.-backed government and a powerful clan that says innocent farmers were massacred, months after President Donald Trump approved stepped-up operations there. The U.S. Africa command, Africom, has acknowledged that U.S. forces participated in a ground operation in support of Somali troops in the village of Bariire last week, and says it is investigating reports of civilian deaths. It did not reply to further questions from Reuters about the incident, the second mission in Somalia this year in which it has acknowledged the participation of U.S. ground troops. A Navy Seal was killed in a raid in May. Reuters

US Scraps Post of Special Envoy to Juba and Khartoum
The US has scrapped the position of its special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a statement posted on the official website Tuesday, said the move was meant to improve the ability of the Department of State and USAid to achieve critical foreign policy goals that were currently the responsibility of special envoys. Mr Tillerson requested the Congress to repeal the statutory provision for the position of the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, saying the Deputy Assistant Secretary in African Affairs could handle all the responsibilities. As per the changes proposed by the State Department, a special envoy or representative shall no longer be required to handle South Sudan and Sudan docket, the statement explained. The East African

Kenyan Democracy Cannot Take Shape until Its Media Step up
The management of the public’s craving for negative stories is one of the longest standing dilemmas of journalism ethics. Bad news commands more attention than good news and so, as the old creed goes, “If it bleeds, it leads.” By this rule book, the killings of least two dozen opposition protesters following the declaration of Kenya’s presidential should have elicited banner headlines and rolling TV news coverage. More so given that two of the victims were children—a six-month-old baby and 10-year-old girl shot dead while playing with friends. The stage for this violent outcome had been set within hours of polls closing on Aug. 8, when opposition coalition leaders held a press conference in the wee hours of the morning alleging manipulation of results. This followed early indications showing Jubilee Party’s Uhuru Kenyatta taking a commanding lead. Quartz

Kenyan Parliamentarians Unite against Planned Salary Cuts
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, newly re-elected earlier this month, has reaffirmed his government’s plans to cut MPs’ wages by 15 percent. That includes his own salary. The move is part of a new pay structure for public sector workers which Kenya’s Salaries and Remuneration Commission says will save taxpayers the equivalent of around 665 million euros ($793 million) per year. Opposition leader Raila Odinga and his party also support the decision. “We stand for equity and prudent management of public resources,” a party statement said. “We cannot therefore promote wastage, avarice and inequities in the Kenyan society.” Deutsche Welle

Nigeria Pledges Protection for Islamist Militants Who Surrender
Nigeria’s military urged members of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram to surrender and pledged to protect them if they did. “All insurgents who are willing to turn a new leaf are advised to surrender to any military location nearest to them,” Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, a top commander, told journalists Wednesday in Maiduguri, capital of the northeastern state of Borno. “We guarantee your safety and rehabilitation as well as reintegration into society if you surrender.” While Attahiru said Boko Haram’s “final defeat is imminent,” the authorities have announced the group’s demise twice before. He conceded that the July 25 kidnapping of geologists traveling with a military escort showed Boko Haram still has strong intelligence networks. The three abducted men remain missing, he said. Bloomberg

Chinese Oil Giant Sinopec Probed by the U.S. Over Nigeria Bribery Allegations
U.S. authorities are investigating China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. over allegations that the state-controlled oil producer paid Nigerian officials about $100 million worth of bribes to resolve a business dispute, according to people familiar with the probe. Investigators from the Securities and Exchange Commission and Justice Department are looking into allegations that outside lawyers acting as middlemen for the company, known as Sinopec, funneled illicit payments from its Swiss unit to the Nigerians through banks in New York and California, said the two people, who didn’t want to be named discussing an active investigation. The alleged payments were intended to resolve a $4 billion dispute between the Chinese oil company’s Addax Petroleum unit in Geneva and the Nigerian government over drilling and other capital costs, tax breaks and a division of royalties between Addax and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the people said. Bloomberg

Europe Is Trying to Cut the Flow of Migrants from Africa. It Won’t Be Easy.
“In many ways, the height of the Syrian migration exodus is behind us, but when you look at the youth bulge and demographic vitality of Africa, you say, ‘Oh damn,’” said Demetrios Papademetriou, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington-based research organization. Europe was able to reduce the flow of Syrian refugees by making a deal with Turkey, a major jumping-off point for many of those fleeing the war in the Middle East. The agreement allowed Greece to return migrants to Turkey, while the Europeans increased financial support for Turkey’s refugee population and provide greater visa liberalization for Turks. No such solution has emerged to handle the African influx. That has launched European nations on a complicated mission to curb the flow of migrants and refugees. Much of that quest involves money. The E.U. is rolling out a $1.9 billion plan to “address the root causes of migration” — what many see a quid pro quo for African nations to improve border security and accept deportees. The Washington Post

Since Trump’s Mideast Visit, Extrajudicial Killings Have Spiked in Egypt
Two months after Sabry Mohammed Said vanished, his body turned up at the morgue. He had been shot three times and severely beaten, his family said. The 46-year-old accountant and father of five was a rank-and-file member of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement. Egyptian authorities claimed he was also a terrorist who was killed in a June gun battle with police. But Said’s daughter Sara Sabry said he hadn’t been politically active in three years and had never been arrested. When relatives went to get a police report, the precinct had no record of the incident. […] Said’s death is part of a spike in extrajudicial killings and other forms of state abuses that have been committed in recent months under President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, according to activists, victims and their families. They date the rise to President Trump’s visit to the Middle East in May, in which he urged Arab leaders to take a tougher stance against Islamist extremists and made clear that human rights would not be a high priority for his administration in its dealings with regional allies. The Washington Post

France’s Macron Sets up Advisory Body to Help Shape Africa Policy
French President Emmanuel Macron has established a brand new Presidential Council for Africa, designed to advise him on African issues and help identify and address the many challenges facing the continent. In his first annual address to France’s 170 ambassadors on Tuesday, Macron reiterated his plans to place the African continent at the heart of his foreign policy, stating that “the future of the world will largely be played out in Africa”. France maintains close and often complex ties with its former African colonies and the wider region, and French presidents traditionally reaffirm their commitment to the continent early on in their mandates. France 24

France Calls off Probe into Gabon, Equatorial Guinea Elite’s Wealth
French judges have ended their investigation into the substantial assets of Gabon’s late president Omar Bongo and his family, none of whom have been charged, sources close to the case said Wednesday. French prosecutors have been investigating since 2010 whether the fortunes amassed in France by the ruling elites of three oil-rich African countries — Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon — were built up with money siphoned from public coffers. The sprawling investigation saw its first trial this year — that of Teodorin Obiang, vice president of Equatorial Guinea and the son of the president, though only his lawyers turned up in court. His sentencing is due on October 27. In the Gabon probe, authorities last year ordered the seizing of property company SCI Emeraude, which owned a mansion in the chic 16th arrondissement of Paris and a villa in Nice on France’s glitzy Cote d’Azur. The Independent

World Health Organization Blames Africa’s Health Care Inequality on Lack of Political Will
With many African leaders seeking healthcare abroad, the WHO’s Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is calling on them to take action to improve health care services in their own nations. At a meeting of African health ministers in Zimbabwe’s premier resort town of Victoria Falls, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recalls an encounter he will never forget. “I visited Yemen and I met a mother and her malnourished daughter who had traveled for hours to reach the health center. The mother was begging the medical staff to take care of her child,” he told delegates. “It’s this moment of human suffering that was my moment of truth.” The image is a warning for the attending ministers. A recent study by the World Health Organization found that a lack of political will and little financial allocation to the health sector were to blame for health inequalities in Africa. Deutsche Welle

Sierra Leone: Another Corruption Scandal at the Vice President’s Office, This Time Hajj
A large group of Sierra Leonean Muslims who were hoping to make the annual Hajj Pilgrimage have had their hoped dashed by government officials who turned the project into a rogue pay to play lottery according to news reports. Three officials were called back to Freetown after having arrived in Mecca because of the scandal. Alhaji Sheka Kamara, Special Assistant, Social Affairs, Office of the President; Mr. Nurideen Sanko Yilla, Special Assistant, Political Affairs, Office of the President; and Alhaji M A Bah, Minister of State, Office of the Vice President have been sacked for turning the government’s Hajj scholarship into their personal jackpot. They sold the seats meant for poor Muslims to foreigners willing to pay upward of $2500, meaning that many who should have gone could not go. Switsalone

Study Shows African Cities Growing, but ‘Less Livable’ 
No African city is listed among the world’s top 85 most livable cities, according to a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, which ranks the most pleasant cities to live in. The latest Global Livability Index 2017 shows that African cities registered a significant improvement in the survey, but only two of them, Johannesburg and Pretoria, made the top 100 on the list. The study surveyed 140 cities, based on five categories: healthcare, education, infrastructure, stability, culture and environment. Nine of the 15 African cities included in the survey were ranked among the bottom 20 performers, with average scores of below 60 per cent. The East African



Photo: Adam Jones