Africa Media Review for December 13, 2022

Biden To Call for African Union To Permanently Join G-20
President Biden next week will announce U.S. support for the African Union to become a permanent member of the Group of 20 nations, a step that would give African nations a long-sought prize and could make it easier for Biden to secure their cooperation on issues like Ukraine and climate change. The G-20 is a highly influential forum for the world’s most powerful economies, and South Africa is the only member from the continent, joining multiple participants from Europe, Asia and the Americas. Biden will make the announcement during next week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, said Judd Devermont, the White House National Security Council’s senior director for African Affairs. The African Union represents the 55 member states on the continent. Washington Post

US-Africa Leaders Summit Brings 50 African Voices to Washington
The summit will look at how the U.S. can work with African governments on security challenges, which are especially acute in the Sahel region and in Somalia. Speaking to the Defense Writers Group on Tuesday, Chidi Blyden, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for African Affairs, said that Somalia’s militant Islamist al-Shabab group remains the “No. 1” threat. Briefing reporters Thursday, a senior defense official said the Pentagon is taking a three-pronged approach – blending defense, development and diplomacy – to address African security challenges. Voice of America

No Major Breakthroughs As COP15 Gets Underway
The world has only a few days left to seal a historic agreement to halt the destruction of nature. But almost at halfway through, COP 15 has seen no major breakthroughs, either on the burning issue of financing between North and South or on the flagship goal of protecting 30% of the planet. “So overall, one will say good progress. But if you look at specifically the global biodiversity framework, negotiations is about still a bumpy road,” said Elizabeth Mrema, the Head of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. She added, “I think we are still hopefully, that by (December, ed) 19th, midnight, there should be an agreement with no plans to extend beyond.” However, negotiations are expected to take another twist on Thursday, when the environment ministers of the 196 members of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will take over from their delegates in Montreal. AfricaNews

A Political Compromise Offers Renewed Promise of Realizing Sudanese Aspirations
Sudan’s fractious centers of power may have signed a framework agreement intended to lead the country back toward a civilian government after the military coup of October 2021, but the doubts of NGOs and academics, as well as persistent street protests, caution against over-optimistic expectations. Unveiled on December 5 in the capital Khartoum, signatories to the deal include Sudan’s ruling generals Abdel-Fattah Burhan and Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemeti, alongside the leaders of Forces of Freedom and Change, the country’s largest pro-democracy group, and 40 other parties. Providing a path to a civilian-led transition made up of democratic elections and the return of the military to their barracks, the framework agreement stipulates a need for full civilian control over all aspects of society, with a security and defense council headed by the prime minister… Despite garnering positive support from the international community and the generals — Burhan chanted one of the protesters’ slogans “the military belongs in the barracks”  — the deal has yet to inspire enthusiasm among many pockets of Sudanese civil society. Arab News

US Sanctions Ex-Guinea Leader, Mali Politician for Right Abuses
The United States has imposed sanctions on more than 40 people and entities for alleged rights abuses from nine countries, including Guinea’s former President Alpha Conde and Karim Keita, son of former Malian leader Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Karim Keita. In a statement released on Friday, the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said the announcement was the outcome of a thorough and multiyear investigation. Conde, who was deposed in a coup in September 2021, was sanctioned for his “connection to serious human rights abuses”…Meanwhile, Keita served as the president of the Security and Defense Commission of the National Assembly in Mali from February 2014 until his father was overthrown in an August 2020 coup. He used his position to receive bribes, embezzle government funds and remove other officials who did not support his actions, the US said. Al Jazeera

Exclusive: IMF and Ghana Expected To Reach Staff-Level Agreement by Tuesday
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Ghana are expected to reach a staff-level agreement on a loan deal by Tuesday at the latest, said three sources with knowledge of the ongoing talks. The IMF did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Ghana’s finance ministry said they could not comment beyond that the negotiations were ongoing. Two sources said that the IMF program was expected to be an extended credit facility, which provides financial assistance to countries with drawn out balance of payments issues. Reuters

Burkina Faso To Raise 150M Euros for War Fund
The Burkina Faso government has announced plans to raise 152 million euros for a “fund to support the war” against a bloody jihadist insurgency… “As part of the fight against terrorism, the government has decided to recruit 50,000 members of the Volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland,” or VDP, the minister [Aboubacar Nacanabo] said. The civilian auxiliaries who support the army would be paid 60,000 CFA a month, or 91 euros, he added. “Beside this cost, weapons have to be bought to equip them, uniforms to fit them out, vehicles and fuel to move them,” Nacanabo said. He also floated the “idea” of a one percent levy on all salaries, including those of members of parliament, and a sales tax on drinks, cigarettes, internet, and luxury goods to help cover the costs of the fighting that has spread from Mali since 2015. Defense Post

Gulf of Guinea Countries Agree To Stop Illegal Chinese Fishing
Chinese boats are decimating West Africa’s fish stocks and fishing communities in the Gulf of Guinea, say environmental groups…Beninese fisherman Geoffroy Gbedevi said it’s getting harder to feed his daughter and pregnant wife. He said the community is suffering and the number of fish being caught is much lower than it used to be. “Nothing is going the way it used to,” he said. Yaya Toshu Koma Benoit is a community leader in Grand Popo, a small fishing town in Benin close to the border with Togo, where houses are empty as community members have been forced to leave to find work elsewhere. He blamed the problem in part on techniques that catch fish before the fish are fully developed…The Environmental Justice Foundation said illegal fishing boats in Ghana use Ghanaian flags, but 90 percent were traced to Chinese owners. Steven Trent of the Environmental Justice Foundation called for “basic measures to introduce transparency.” Voice of America

South Africa Urged To Lift ‘Secrecy’ Over Docked Russian Freighter
South Africa’s leading opposition party on Thursday challenged the government to explain why a Russian cargo ship that it said was under western sanctions had docked at a Cape Town naval base. The vessel arrived at Simon’s Town — South Africa’s largest naval base — on Tuesday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) party said, adding it seemed to have turned off its automatic identification system, which provides the ship’s position and other information. At night, cranes had been offloading cargo from it and onto trucks protected by armed personnel, it added. “This behaviour has local residents worried because the vessel is under sanctions by the US and European Union after Russia invaded Ukraine,” shadow defense minister Kobus Marais said in a statement. Defense Post

Record Low Kariba Dam Levels See Zimbabwe, Zambia Facing Drastic Power Cuts
Zimbabwe and Zambia both rely on lake Kariba – the world’s biggest dam – for the bulk of their hydro-electric supply. The record-low water level at present means electricity supplies in both countries will be heavily rationed. Zambia will start power cuts from Thursday 15 December which are expected to last six hours at a stretch. Energy minister, Peter Kapala, told the Zambian Parliament that it may only affect residential areas. Zimbabwe, on the other hand, is already facing 19 hours load shedding daily with devastating effects on all aspects of life in the country. Electricity is turned back on between approximately midnight and 5 AM. RFI

Ethiopia Seeks National Healing After Tigray Peace Treaty
With a truce recently signed and a history of ethnic tensions, Ethiopia faces a myriad of challenges. As a result, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has embarked on a national dialogue hoping to silence the guns…people still worry that the fragile calm could be shattered at any time unless both sides keep their promises. Observers say that in addition to silencing the guns, it is imperative to reach a long-term political settlement in the area, especially in Tigray, Amhara, and Afar regions, which were worst affected by the violence…Residents of Addis Ababa are pleased with the peace agreement and have called on their leaders to resolve their differences at the negotiating table. “It is time for a new hero now that we have been celebrating war heroes for so long,” Adene Berhanu, a resident of Addis Ababa, told DW. “I want my generation to have its own hero who believes in dialogue.” She said women and children were the most affected by this conflict, and it is time to end it. DW

U.S. Builds New Firewall To Stop Spread of Militant Islamists
The front lines in the war between the West and militant Islamists have shifted to Africa, from Somalia on the continent’s eastern tip to the West African Sahel, a semidesert strip south of the Sahara. In the Sahel, the U.S. and its allies are betting that Niger, the worst-off country in the world by a U.N. measure, offers the best hope of stopping the seemingly inexorable spread of al Qaeda and Islamic State. Wall Street Journal

Ukraine Says It Killed Wagner Mercenaries, Who Are They?
The controversial private military company Wagner Group is in the news again as Ukrainian authorities say a number of its fighters were killed in an attack on a hotel in the city of Kadiivka, in the Russian-occupied Luhansk region. But who are Wagner Group?…From 2015 onwards, Wagner appeared wherever Russia had an interest: first in Syria’s civil war on the side of President Bashar al-Assad, then Libya, the Central African Republic (CAR), and Mali, among other countries…In the CAR, Wagner repelled a rebel advance on Bangui in January 2021. A statue of a Russian soldier defending a family was built in the capital, and an action movie, The Tourist, glorified the group’s exploits. Human Rights Watch has accused the mercenaries of torturing, executing and kidnapping civilians in the CAR. In Sudan, it reportedly oversees gold mining operations, working with Sudan’s military government. Activists and bloggers accuse Russia of supporting the military coup in Sudan and stealing the country’s gold. Al Jazeera