Africa Media Review for February 10, 2023

Military and Police Abuses Are a Key Cause of Africa’s Surge of Violent Extremism, UN Study Finds
Human-rights abuses by military and police forces are one of the key factors that push Africans into violent extremist groups, a United Nations study has concluded after more than 1,000 interviews with former jihadist fighters. The study by the UN Development Program found that Africa is becoming the “new global epicentre” for violent extremism. While deaths from terrorism have declined globally in the past five years, they have more than doubled in that same period in Africa, where almost half of the world’s terrorism-related deaths are now occurring, the report said. A separate report this week by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies confirmed the trend. It found that the number of deaths linked to militant Islamist groups in Africa had surged by 48 per cent last year, while the number of violent events by such groups had increased by 22 per cent, reaching a new record. Globe and Mail

Eskom Crisis: What Does South Africa’s State of Disaster Mean?
A state of disaster effectively means that the government is given addition powers to resolve a crisis with less bureaucracy, regulation and extra funds. A state of disaster was also implemented during the covid pandemic, and saw some people abusing the emergency measure. In 2020, the country’s then-auditor general said he uncovered “frightening findings” of overfunding and potential fraud in the use of the Covid-19 relief fund, including some cases where personal protective equipment (PPE) was bought for five times more than the price the national treasury had advised. The government reacted by telling those accused of corruption to resign and cooperate with law enforcement. There are concerns that similar abuses of power could happen under the latest state of emergency. BBC

South Africa: President to Appoint Electricity Minister
President Cyril Ramaphosa will appoint a Minister of Electricity in the Presidency. This is as the country continues to struggle with unabated rolling blackouts. Ramaphosa revealed this during his State of the Nation Address. He says the minister will work with the Eskom board and management on ending power cuts. “I will appoint the Minister of Electricity in the Presidency to assume full responsibility for overseeing all aspects of the electricity crisis response, including the work of the National Energy Crisis Committee,” Ramaphosa said. “The minister will focus full-time on the work with the Eskom board and management on ending load-shedding and ensuring that the energy action plan is implemented without delay. “As to remove any confusion, the Minister of Public Enterprises will remain the shareholder representative of Eskom and steer the restructuring of Eskom.” The president earlier declared a state of disaster to deal with the country’s worsening electricity crisis. Ramaphosa said the state of disaster is effective immediately. iAfrica

Kenyatta Backs Complete Regional Force Deployment into DR Congo
Former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday asked countries in the East African Community to fully deploy troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Speaking for the first time after the EAC’s extra-ordinary Summit in Bujumbura, Mr Kenyatta, the EAC facilitator of the EAC-led peace process in the Congo, said the troops should help buffer liberated areas in eastern DRC from a clash between government forces and rebels…The call for deployment, however, may imply his fervent support for the EACRF, authorised last year to be the EAC mission in the DR Congo to help bring peace. But the EACRF has been dogged by protests in Goma as civilians demand that it battles M23 rebels and allows Congolese forces to take over territory left by rebels. In Addition, some of the troop contributing countries such as South Sudan and Uganda, which announced plans to deploy, are yet to be brought on to the scene. South Sudan faced opposition from Congolese officials. Uganda and Burundi had already deployed troops under a bilateral arrangement with DRC. East African

Nigeria and DRC Among Conflict Areas to Watch in 2023 – ACLED
This year, elections in Nigeria and the DRC are due to take place amid increasing violence. Nigeria will go to the polls this month in an election whose run-up has been marked by widespread electoral violence, including attacks on election offices and staff, candidates, and political party supporters. “This violence comes against the backdrop of multiple security crises that threaten local communities in the north and the south of the country. Taken together, these crises could depress voter turnout and affect the regular conduct of the elections,” ACLED believes. Meanwhile, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, political violence has raised concerns about a postponement of the December election, as with the 2018 vote. “The conflict in the east of the country experienced yet another violent escalation, as the Rwanda-backed March 23 Movement launched a new offensive against Congolese and United Nations forces in North Kivu. Rwanda is under mounting pressure to cut off its support to the rebels, but regional mediation efforts have thus far failed to subdue the conflict,” ACLED states. DefenceWeb

Fuel and Cash Shortages Rile Nigerian Voters Heading into Election
Recurring fuel shortages in Africa’s top oil producer are adding to voter frustration as Nigeria prepares to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on Feb. 25. They are a stark example of the economic hardships that have dogged Nigeria for years, including surging inflation, widespread unemployment and acute shortages of foreign exchange that have severely weakened the naira currency…President Muhammadu Buhari, who will be stepping down in May after serving his constitutionally allowed two terms, promised to revive the economy and improve livelihoods when he took office in 2015…Nigeria’s poor transport and power networks have stymied economic growth for decades, holding back the distribution of wealth in Africa’s biggest economy where 63% of people live below the poverty line, according to the national statistics bureau. Reuters

Nigeria: Buhari Sets Up Presidential Handover Team
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has signed an executive order setting up a transitional team that will usher in a new government after the forthcoming general elections. “The new executive order puts in place a legal framework for the seamless transition of power from one presidential administration to another,” he said. Nigerians go the polls on 25 February. Mr Buhari, 80, is serving his last term in office, as he is constitutionally barred from running again in the elections. A new president will be sworn in on 29 May. BBC

African Democracy on the Line as ‘Bellwether’ Nigeria Goes to Polls
Nigeria “is a bellwether country”, said Nic Cheeseman, a professor of democracy at the University of Birmingham and an expert on African politics. “If the election is successful and seen to be democratic, that is going to be a big shot in the arm for democracy more generally across Africa … but the opposite is also true.” Idayat Hassan, the director of the Centre for Democracy and Development in Abuja, described the election as a cause for optimism and also a test. “On the one hand, this is a sign of progress,” she said. “Nigeria has now had almost 24 years of uninterrupted democracy and the two-term limit [for presidents] is being followed … But Nigeria has to get it right.” Foreign Policy, the US global affairs magazine, recently called the election the most important anywhere in the world in 2023, describing it as “a global event – even if the world scarcely knows it.” Guardian

Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso Seek Re-Entry to Regional Blocs
Foreign ministers from three West African countries that recently underwent military coups have called for their reinstatement into two key regional blocs following a trip to the region by Russian envoy Sergey Lavrov. The top diplomats of Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso said in a joint statement on Thursday that they had agreed to work together to push for the lifting of their suspensions from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU)…The three countries had “agreed to pool their efforts and undertake joint initiatives for the lifting of the suspension measures and other restrictions” by ECOWAS and the AU, according to a joint statement released after the meeting. A string of coups unfolded in the three countries since 2020, bringing in governments that have bristled at external demands to restore civilian rule, leading to suspensions from regional groups. Al Jazeera

Aid Workers and Civilians Killed in Twin Burkina Faso Attacks
Three civilians and three volunteers with the security forces died when a village in central-eastern Burkina Faso was attacked in the early morning, a local source said. The attack on the village of Bekoure, in Bittou district, lasted several hours, a resident told the French news agency AFP. “Three civilians and three Volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland (VDP) were killed,” the resident said, adding that several people had been injured and many homes burnt down. A security worker confirmed the attack, adding that the injured were evacuated to a hospital ten kilometres away. RFI

Pollution Revolution: Can Electric Motorbikes Help Clean Up Benin’s Air?
Benin accounts for 0.6% of global CO2 emissions, of which transport in the country accounts for 65%. Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation in Africa are growing at a rate of 7% annually. Air pollution is the second biggest cause of death across the African continent, associated with non-communicable diseases including heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. Approximately 1.1 million people in Africa died prematurely from air pollution-related diseases in 2019, one-sixth of the total global estimate of 7 million deaths annually. Meanwhile, the economic cost of air pollution in African cities will increase 600% over the next 18 years unless urgent action is taken, according to projections in a recent report by Clean Air Fund. Guardian

National Pride and Culture Drives Senegal’s Football Success
On Feb. 4, the Senegalese Football Federation (FSF) claimed another triumph by lifting the African Nations Champions after beating Algeria in a penalty shootout. They now become the first African country to simultaneously hold the continent’s two most prestigious prizes as they beat another African nation, Egypt, in a penalty shootout to claim the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). This is along with 2019’s west African Nations Cup, 2022’s Africa Beach Soccer Cup of Nations, and a series of youth events…The team’s players have helped create a more global and outward-looking brand. One of the team’s superstars, Sadio Mané, has often said he would trade all his honors at the club level for an Africa Cup of Nations win with Senegal. And it is not just on the field where this team is charting a new course. It was the culmination of the entire team’s sacrifice, vision, and admiration for their country. But it wasn’t the team’s victory alone. There are many moving parts behind the scenes that facilitated this momentous event. Quartz Africa