Africa Media Review for December 29, 2022

11 Convicted over Deadly Extremist Attack in Ivory Coast
Eleven people were sentenced to life in prison in Ivory Coast on Wednesday after being convicted of carrying out an Islamic extremist attack that killed 19 people and injured dozens more on a tourist beach nearly seven years ago. The killings in the Grand-Bassam resort area by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb were the nation’s first extremist attack of its kind and one of the bloodiest in the region. The long-awaited verdict was read by Judge Charles Bini in a packed courtroom in the capital Abidjan where 18 defendants have been on trial since November. Only four of the accused were physically present, each of whom was sentenced to life in prison. Seven of the accused were found innocent, said Bini. The families of the victims were awarded varying compensation of up to $81,000. … The fact that it took so long to reach a verdict in Ivory Coast shows the complexity of the process but also sends a message to those involved in extremist attacks that they’ll at some point pay the price, conflict analysts say. “Credit (to) the Ivorian authorities, security and intelligence agencies for putting together all the information and evidence to bring those responsible to justice, definitely took a lot of work behind the scenes to get here,” said Rida Lyammouri, senior fellow at the Policy Center for the New South, a Morocco-based organization. AP

Ivorian Troops Face Mali Trial
he soldiers will undergo a “special trial” on Thursday after the case was submitted by military investigators, the court official said. “The Bamako court of appeal will be trying the 46 Ivorian soldiers who were arrested with weapons at Bamako airport on July 10.” Those soldiers, branded by Mali’s junta as “mercenaries,” were charged the following month with seeking to undermine state security. The session will not be open to the public, the official added. … Ivory Coast and the UN say the troops were flown in to provide routine backup security for the German contingent of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali. … On December 4, a summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) set New Year’s Day as a deadline for the soldiers’ release, failing which the bloc would impose new sanctions against Mali. AFP

What’s Next for the Bundeswehr in Mali?
The German armed forces’ mission in the West African country of Mali is becoming increasingly dangerous following a series of setbacks in the past year. With several partner nations announcing their withdrawal and the country’s military government repeatedly banning permits for the Bundeswehr to fly in equipment such as transporters and drones, the future is looking increasingly grim. During her visit to German troops in Bamako earlier this month, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht exchanged some unmistakably strong words with her Malian counterpart Sadio Camara; among other things, Lambrecht stressed that the German military would only remain in the country until 2024 if certain conditions were met, including Mali holding parliamentary elections which have been postponed several times and are now slated for February 2024. DW

As Egypt’s Economic Crisis Deepens, an Affordable Meal Is Hard to Find
The patriarch behind Abou Tarek, one of Egypt’s most famous restaurants, has always been able to depend on koshary. A mix of pasta, rice, lentils, chickpeas, fried onions and spicy tomato sauce, koshary is one of the cheapest and most popular foods in Egypt, so packed with carbs and protein that it can keep even the hungriest customers full all day. Everyone here eats it — from the richest of the rich to the poorest of the poor. But with food prices rising rapidly in the face of a growing economic crisis, even the most low-cost meals are becoming more expensive to make — hitting the margins of koshary kingpins like Youssef Zaki, the owner of Abou Tarek, as well as the pockets of regular Egyptians. Washington Post

Tunisia: Many Leaving Tunisia As Democracy Unravels, Economy Flounders
“There’s a sort of collective despair,” said Alaa Talbi, director of the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, an NGO specializing in migration, among other issues. “People want to change things — their context, their neighborhood, their town — Tunisians want to leave their country.” Talbi’s group says Tunisian migration is hitting numbers not seen since its 2011 revolution, which catalyzed a wider revolt against authoritarian systems across the Arab world. Nearly 40,000 clandestine Tunisians reached European shores this year via Italy and a newer route through Serbia, according to the forum’s estimates. Nearly 30,000 were pushed back by coast guards. Hundreds of others like 15-year-old Walid are dead or missing. Still, others are leaving the country legally — including some 400,000 engineers and more than 3,000 doctors over the past five years, reports say. … The multiparty democracy that emerged from Tunisia’s revolution has all but vanished since President Kais Saied seized far-reaching powers last year — consolidated under a new constitution he pushed through in July, despite less than 30% voter support. VOA

Worrying Youth Mobilisation in South Sudan
The United Nations (UN) mission in South Sudan – UNMISS – is concerned about reports of armed Nuer youth mobilising in the greater Jonglei area. The mobilisation, according to an UNMISS statement “has the potential to trigger violent attacks which could impact civilians”. News reports have it at least 57 people died in attacks since Christmas Day (25 December). At the same time as the UNMISS statement another, issued under the auspices of the regional bloc IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development in Eastern Africa; the United States (US)/United Kingdom (UK)/Norway troika, the European Union (EU) and the body overseeing the peace agreement signed by the warring parties in South Sudan (R-JMEC), noted “escalating ongoing violence, loss of life and reports of alleged use of heavy weaponry” were concerning. It further called on combatants and supporters “to immediately cease hostilities, exercise restraint and respect human rights”. A call was also made to South Sudanese leaders to urgently intervene to stop the fighting and ensure civilians’ safety and security as well as unimpeded humanitarian access to people affected by fighting. defenceWeb

South Sudan Sends 750 Troops to DRC
South Sudan is sending 750 troops to join the East Africa Force trying to bring peace in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, despite its own struggles to restore peace back home. President Salva Kiir officially deployed troops to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to join an East African regional force aimed at ending decades of bloodshed in that country. The troops join contingents from Kenya, Burundi and Uganda, in what is seen as a test of the East African Community’s ability to respond to violence in the region and stabilize the country. … South Sudan’s troops will be stationed in Goma city. They will conduct operations to restore normalcy to the region, where Congolese troops are fighting the M23 rebel group. VOA

In South Africa, Ransom Kidnappings Are on the Rise
From an eight-year-old girl snatched on her way to school to a wealthy businessman who was abducted and murdered, South Africa is experiencing a surge in kidnappings for money. During the festive season, police have been warning parents to be vigilant around beaches and shopping malls – potential hotspots for child abduction. … South Africa has long had a reputation for violent crime and is often described as one of the most dangerous countries in the world outside a war zone. But kidnapping for ransom or extortion “is comparatively new”, noted Jean-Pierre Smith, a Cape Town municipal security councillor. The phenomenon started to rise in 2016 and is now experiencing explosive growth, according to the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime (GI-TOC), a non-profit organisation. Police recorded more than 4,000 cases between July and September, a twofold increase in the same period last year. … Indian business people, Pakistani, Somali and Ethiopians are among those increasingly becoming victims of such campaigns, according to Abramjee. … Muslim families of Indian origin, who are rumoured to hold large funds abroad, are especially at risk, said a police source. Al Jazeera

White Men Charged in Attack on Black Teenagers at Pool in South Africa
Two youths who tried to use a pool at a resort [in Bloemfontein] on Christmas Day said they were told it was for “white people only.” The violent encounter led to a charge of attempted murder and a call by the president to battle racism. … On Wednesday, the police announced they had arrested and charged three white men: Johan Nel, 33, and Jan Stephanus van der Westhuizen, 47, who appeared in court on assault charges; and a third suspect, 48, whose name was not released and who is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday on a charge of attempted murder. … Bloemfontein is the capital of Free State, a province that is a particularly hot kettle for racial violence. Once an independent Boer Republic for the white Afrikaans-speaking settlers who led South Africa’s apartheid regime, it remains a largely agrarian region. It also sits at the intersection of South Africa’s fiercely racialized debate over land. Working-class white farmers frequently raise concerns about being killed or driven off their land. Black laborers have lamented the strenuous working conditions and unrealized promises of land ownership that were supposed to materialize in a democratic South Africa. After video of the violence at the pool surfaced, President Cyril Ramaphosa released a statement calling on Black and white South Africans to condemn racism. “Under the rule of law, we must let investigations take their course,” he said, “but under the rule of law, we can and must also declare that racism has no place in our society and racists have no place to hide.” New York Times

Fed Up by Decades of Government Failures, South Africa Shifts Power to the City
In the suburbs of Cape Town, near the spot where an anti-gang police commander was riddled with bullets by a gunman outside his own home, a fortress-like building now looms above the Bishop Lavis neighbourhood. The intimidating metal-barred building is the tightly guarded headquarters of Cape Town’s latest police unit – a new security experiment in the city’s most dangerous and crime-ridden suburbs. Fed up with decades of failures by the national government, Cape Town is pushing for greater local control of policing, energy and transport. The city has hired more than 1,200 of its own law-enforcement officers to patrol the streets. It has begun generating and buying its own electricity, trimming its reliance on the increasingly dysfunctional state power supplier. The campaign for decentralization could shape South Africa’s future. It offers an escape route from the dominance of the African National Congress, the corruption-plagued party that has ruled the national government since the end of apartheid in 1994. Other cities, such as Johannesburg, are studying the Cape Town model and planning their own electricity systems. Globe and Mail

Zimbabwe Has Banned the Export of Raw Lithium from Its Globally-Important Reserves
Zimbabwe has banned the export of raw lithium as it seeks at least first-stage processing within the country for the critically-important metal. Any export of lithium ore will now require special permission, under a new statutory-instrument regulation, with exporters required to show “exceptional circumstances” before moving lithium out of the country. Even samples sent for assay in other countries will require government permission. The high price of lithium has attracted artisanal miners who target abandoned mines in search of rock that is then exported, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa previously said. Companies based in China – itself a huge producer of lithium – have recently secured the rights to mine and process large quantities of lithium in Zimbabwe. Such operations, which process raw hard-rock lithium ore that contain little of the metal into at least into lithium concentrate, will not be affected by the ban. Business Insider

How a Scrappy African Start-Up Could Forever Change the World of Vaccines
Imagine a world with vaccines not just for global threats like measles and COVID but for all the diseases that afflict people in the world’s poorest countries – illnesses that are largely ignored but devastating, such as tuberculosis, dengue and lassa fever. And even for the ongoing epidemic of HIV. Better yet, what if these new vaccines were actually invented and manufactured in the very countries where they are most needed. These are countries currently so shut out of global vaccine production they were forced to wait last in line for COVID vaccines. Yet if and when the next pandemic hits these nations wouldn’t just have access to new vaccines, they could be at the forefront of creating them. That’s the vision that a tiny biotech startup in South Africa appears on track to make real. The company – Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines – is the linchpin of an unprecedented global project launched last year by the World Health Organization and various partners. So what does this work actually look like? On a recent visit by NPR, Afrigen’s Cape Town facility – a row of small warehouse-like structures – is a hive of activity. NPR

Top African Songs of 2022
Even though the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic can still be felt across the board, the African music industry had an encouraging 2022 with more concerts and festivals making a return on the events calendar. The year saw many strong releases from Africa’s biggest names, particularly those plying their trade in Afrobeats, Afro-fusion and amapiano. We also saw many strong collaborations between musicians on the continent and between Africa musicians and their international counterparts. Towards the end of every year, Music In Africa’s editorial team – comprising editors and contributors from across the continent – compiles a playlist with a selection of some of the biggest tracks of the past 12 months. The below playlist is divided into six regions, with each region bearing five tracks that made an impression on the local music scene and the journalists who selected them. Music in Africa



Photo: Adam Jones