Africa Media Review for December 1, 2023

Guinea-Bissau Army Factions Clash in Capital after Soldiers Free Opposition Minister
Fighting broke out overnight between two factions of Guinea-Bissau’s army in the capital and continued early on Friday after armed soldiers from the national guard freed a minister who had been detained for suspected misuse of public funds. The head of the national guard has since been arrested, a military source said…Gunshots started at around 2300 GMT on Thursday about two kilometres away from the presidential palace in the capital Bissau. An apparent exchange of fire was also heard after midnight in the neighbourhood of Antula, on the outskirts of the capital, where the head of the military lives. The gunfire persisted on Friday morning, as military vehicles circulated in the streets and residents commuted to work and school. It has since stopped and military roadblocks cleared. Soldiers are no longer barring access to the presidential palace’s surroundings…Guinea Bissau, a West African nation of around 2 million inhabitants that sits between Senegal and Guinea, has seen frequent turmoil since it gained independence from Portugal in 1974. Reuters

Madagascar Court Confirms Andry Rajoelina’s Election as President
Madagascar’s Constitutional Court has confirmed President Andry Rajoelina re-election following a controversial election a fortnight ago. The court said Mr Rajoelina secured 59% of the votes cast, declaring him elected for a third term. It dismissed complaints by the opposition over the credibility of the vote, which recorded a low turnout of 46%. Most opposition parties boycotted the election…Ten out of 13 presidential contenders had withdrawn their candidacies but their names remained on the ballot. They raised concerns about the credibility of the election and asked their supporters not to vote, hence the low turnout considered to be the lowest in the island country’s history. They also denounced Mr Rajoelina’s bid for a third term and the validity of his candidacy, given his dual French nationality. The Constitutional Court however earlier rejected their bid to annul Mr Rajoelina’s bit for a new term. BBC

Kidnapping and Sexual Slavery of Underage Girls in Greater Khartoum
Sources from Khartoum emergency rooms reveal that young girls, predominantly underage, are being taken to an RSF soldiers’ camp in Wad Al-Aqali, where they are forced into sexual slavery for the RSF soldiers in the area. This incident adds to a series of atrocities and war crimes committed in Sudan, primarily by the RSF. Reports from as early as July indicate a systematic pattern of kidnapping female civilians in Khartoum and Darfur for purposes of sexual slavery, ransom, or sale in markets. Eyewitnesses have reported sightings of women and girls bound and held in cars in Darfur or en route to Darfur. In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) Network has condemned the incidents and called for urgent intervention…Against the backdrop of at least 717 reported cases of enforced disappearances, since the conflict began in April 2023, with 51 confirmed cases involving women (47 adults and 4 minors), SIHA underscores the urgent need for action to address this crisis and protect vulnerable populations in Greater Khartoum. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan: Civil Society Worries over Election Readiness
A coalition comprising over 70 South Sudanese and regional civil society organizations has expressed serious concerns about the pace of implementing the peace agreement as the country approaches next year’s elections. South Sudan was meant to conclude a transition period with elections in February 2023, but the unity government failed to meet key provisions of the agreement, including drafting a constitution and unifying the army. The parties to the agreement extended the transitional government’s time in office for another two years, meaning general elections would be held in December 2024…The activists are advocating for a credible and inclusive constitutional-making process rooted in Chapter VI of the revitalized peace agreement and the Constitutional Making Process Act of 2022. This process aims to produce a permanent constitution that accurately reflects the values, aspirations, and priorities of ordinary people in South Sudan. Radio Tamazuj

German Court Sentences Gambian Death Squad Member to Life in Prison
A German court on Thursday sentenced a Gambian man to life in prison over his participation in a death squad that assassinated opponents of former dictator Yahya Jammeh, including an AFP journalist. Bai Lowe was convicted of crimes against humanity, murder and attempted murder for his role as a driver for the hit squad known as the Junglers…The Junglers unit was “used by the then-president of The Gambia to carry out illegal killing orders, among other things” with the aim of “intimidating the Gambian population and suppressing the opposition”, according to federal prosecutors. The list of alleged crimes includes the 2004 killing of AFP correspondent Deyda Hydara, who was gunned down in his car on the outskirts of the Gambian capital Banjul on December 16, 2004. Lowe was found to have helped to stop Hydara’s car and drove one of the killers in his own vehicle. The trial, which began last year, is “the first to tackle human rights violations committed in The Gambia during the Jammeh era on the basis of universal jurisdiction,” according to Human Rights Watch. AFP

Tanzania Signs Major Carbon Credit Deal Covering National Parks
Tanzania has signed a deal for one of East Africa’s biggest land-based carbon credit projects. The project covers six national parks, spanning 1.8 million hectares. Tanzania, which has forest resources of nearly 48 million hectares, has emerged as one of the leading African players in the global carbon credit trade. The announcement comes as world leaders are meeting in Dubai for the COP28 summit aimed at finding ways to tackle climate change. Carbon credit projects involve polluting companies promising to pay other organisations to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases, or to remove them from the atmosphere. In this way, the overall amount of carbon dioxide and other pollutants produced is supposed to stay the same, or even be lowered. The new deal is an alliance between Tanzania’s national park management agency, Tanapa, and Carbon Tanzania, a locally based company. Some of the revenue from the sale of carbon credits will go to Tanapa and local communities, Carbon Tanzania said on Thursday. BBC

The New ‘Scramble for Africa’: How a UAE Sheikh Quietly Made Carbon Deals for Forests Bigger than UK
As chairman of the company Blue Carbon, which is barely a year old, Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook al-Maktoum has announced several exploratory deals with African states that are home to crucial wildlife havens and biodiversity hotspots, for land that represents billions of dollars in potential offsetting revenue. The sheikh has no previous experience in nature conservation projects. So far, the deals cover a fifth of Zimbabwe, 10% of Liberia, 10% of Zambia and 8% of Tanzania, amounting to a total area the size of the UK. In October, Blue Carbon signed its latest deal for “millions” of hectares of forest in Kenya…The agreements come amid widespread scrutiny of the ability of carbon markets to fund climate change mitigation effectively while protecting biodiversity and the rights of communities…Some of those involved in these deals highlighted that carbon markets provide much-needed financial support to African countries where other sources of climate finance were not delivering. However, others raised concerns, saying the size of the land deals amount to “a new scramble for Africa.” The Guardian

Biden Hosts Angola’s Leader for Talks of Rail Corridor, Energy Security
U.S. President Joe Biden hosted the president of oil-rich Angola for the first time Thursday, with the leaders focusing on a $1 billion, U.S.-funded rail development that aims to connect the oil-rich nation’s ports to the continent’s resource-rich interior, and in doing so, perhaps loosen China’s hold on the continent. The leaders also agreed to hold a dialogue next year “focused on the secure and stable supply of energy and deeper commercial ties while advancing our shared climate goals.” The U.S. has held similar talks with African oil giant Nigeria…The two leaders’ hourlong meeting Thursday mainly focused on a U.S.-funded rail corridor that would run from Angola’s oil-rich coast deep into the African interior, where China and the U.S. are competing for access to resources. The route cuts through volatile southern Congo, which is rich in rare earth minerals, and dips into copper-rich Zambia…Analysts say the corridor’s success depends on lasting peace in Congo, which votes next month in a contest between the incumbent and the leader of the southern state that will host the corridor. VOA

COP28: Africa’s Livestock Industry Calls for Adaptation of Sustainable Systems as Millions of Animals Die
Millions of livestock including camels, cows, donkeys, goats and sheep died last year in Africa due to climate change shocks. Going into COP28, there are growing calls for climate finance to support adaptation for sustainable livestock systems on the continent. In the Horn of Africa alone, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, communities suffering from the impacts of five consecutive poor rainy seasons have lost more than 13 million heads of livestock. In Niger, thousands of livestock died this year due to flooding and the spread of disease…Last year, Africa received only 11% of its total climate finance needs, totalling R570 billion, with less than 1% of climate finance reaching the livestock sector. The experts argued that adapting Africa’s livestock sector to climate change must be a top goal at COP28 to ensure the long-term viability of a continent…This, they said, should be done through “developing more reliable forages and feed, more resilient breeds of indigenous livestock, and more resilient animal health systems and support services such as digital information tools, finance and index-based livestock insurance”. News 24

ECOWAS Summit Scheduled for December 10 in Abuja
The next summit of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), in crisis after a series of recent military coups, will take place on December 10 in Abuja, the Côte d’Ivoire presidency announced on Thursday. “The next ordinary summit” of Ecowas “will take place on December 10 in Abuja”, the Nigerian capital, according to a press release issued by the presidency following a meeting in Abidjan on Wednesday between Ivorian head of state Alassane Ouattara and the president of the regional organization’s commission, Omar Alieu Touray. The last summit took place at the beginning of August, and was entirely devoted to the situation in Niger, following the military coup of July 26 that overthrew the elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, who has since been sequestered in his residence in Niamey…Of the fifteen member countries of Ecowas, four have been ruled since 2020 by military leaders following coups d’état: Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Guinea. All have since been suspended from the organization, and will therefore not be represented at the Abuja summit. Africanews with AFP

Could AI Transform Healthcare in Africa?
Artificial intelligence is being used across Africa to aid healthcare, from managing datasets in Morocco to reading genomes in South Africa, and from analyzing medical images in Ghana to tracking COVID-19 in Ethiopia…So far, the most successful AI projects have been with disease diagnostics…One of AI’s biggest benefits in Africa is helping health workers do more with limited resources. [Ayomide Owoyemi, a public health and technology expert at the University of Illinois,] told DW that AI can fill the roles of doctors and other highly skilled health workers who leave the continent to work in other parts of the world…Rolling out more AI healthcare programs in Africa has its challenges. One is limited infrastructure — large parts of Africa don’t have the power to supply internet access to run large-scale AI projects reliably…Another challenge is the data itself. Most machine learning algorithms are trained on datasets stored outside Africa, which limits their use in tackling healthcare issues specific for African people. DW