Africa Media Review for February 22, 2023

African Union Vows ‘Zero Tolerance’ for Coups as Two-Day Summit Ends
Leaders of the 55-nation bloc met in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to discuss a slew of challenges facing the continent, including coups, conflict and climate change. On the final day of the summit on Sunday, the AU said it was maintaining its suspension of four countries — Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Sudan — which have been ruled by military leaders following coups…At the end of the summit, the bloc’s new chairman, Comoros President Azali Assoumani, said the leaders had agreed to accelerate the implementation of a faltering trade deal launched in 2020. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is billed as the biggest in the world in terms of population, gathering 54 out of 55 countries on a continent with 1.4 billion people, with Eritrea the only holdout. DW

Jill Biden Makes 6th Visit to Africa, Her 1st as First Lady
Jill Biden is not a newcomer to Africa. It will be her sixth time in Africa when she arrives in Namibia on Wednesday as part of a commitment by President Joe Biden to deepen U.S. engagement with the fast-growing region. It’s her first visit as first lady, though. And she’ll be following in the footsteps of her recent predecessors, who all made the trip across the Atlantic Ocean in the name of trying to help foster goodwill toward the United States. During five days split between Namibia, located along the Atlantic coast in southern Africa, and Kenya, in the east, Jill Biden will focus on empowering women and young people, and highlight food insecurity in the Horn of Africa caused by a devastating drought, Russia’s war in Ukraine and other factors. As she departed Washington on Tuesday, the first lady declared, “We have a lot to accomplish.” Africa is the fastest-growing and youngest region in the world, according to the White House, which says 1 of every 4 people in the world will be African by 2050. AP

Where Are Nigeria’s Women in the Upcoming Elections?
Nigeria’s elections are first up, and women’s progress toward high leadership positions unfortunately leaves much to be desired. Since it gained independence in 1960, Nigeria has not had any women presidents or vice presidents. It has not elected any female governors across its 36 states. Its proportion of women representatives in both legislative chambers does not exceed 7%. The country’s national average of women’s political participation has remained around 6.7% in elective and appointive positions, far below the global average of 22.5%…Nigeria’s equity challenge did not arise because of a lack of leadership potential in its women. Nigerian women are a shining beacon of public leadership on the global stage. Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is serving as the director-general of the World Trade Organization. Amina J. Mohammed is the UN deputy secretary-general and chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group. Dr. Jumoke Oduwole is currently serving as special advisor to the president of Nigeria on ease of doing business. Quartz Africa

Ukraine War: Nigeria Student Has ‘No Option but to Return to Study’
Meandering through the bustling traffic in Nigeria’s main city, Lagos, Oyewumi Azeez Olawale makes his way to a visa appointment. Just a year ago, the Nigerian medical student was scrambling to find safe passage out of Ukraine after the Russian bombardment began on 24 February. But with other studying options effectively closed off, he returned to Ukraine later in the year for another term. Now, he wants to travel there again. “I am going back to Ukraine because I need to finish my final year, sit my exams and collect my certificate,” said the 28-year-old. “There are no options for me in Nigeria,” he added. Ukraine was home to more than 80,000 foreign students in 2020, nearly a quarter were from Africa. BBC

Mali: Three UN Peacekeepers Killed in Explosive Attack
The incident took place that morning near the village of Songobia, in central Mali, as their supply convoy was heading to its base in Sévaré…MINUSMA is one of the most dangerous peace operations for “blue helmets”. Since its establishment in 2013, 168 peacekeepers have lost their lives in hostile acts. While renewing MINUSMA’s commitment to work for peace in Mali, Mr. Wane recalled that attacks on peacekeepers can constitute war crimes under International Law.  He stressed “the need to do everything possible to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of hostile acts against MINUSMA.” UN News

Tanzania Approves Controversial Oil Pipeline Despite Environmental Concerns
Tanzania’s government on Tuesday approved the construction of the East African Crude Oil pipeline (Eacop) that would transport crude from oil fields being developed in Lake Albert, in northwestern Uganda to a Tanzanian port on the Indian Ocean. The $10 billion (9.4 billion euro) oilfields and pipeline project, which is being jointly developed by France’s TotalEnergies, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, along with the state oil companies of Uganda and Tanzania, required approval from both countries – with Uganda issuing a license to the project operator last month. The underground heated pipeline is set to become the longest of its type when completed, expected in 2025, and has been held up as an economic opportunity for both countries. RFI

Tens of Thousands of Refugees Flee from Somaliland Clashes
More than 60,000 Somali refugees have fled to Ethiopia after an escalation in fighting in the town of Las Anod, in the Sool region, where tensions between local people and the governing Somaliland authorities have been building for weeks… The UN said 89% of the 185,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) from Las Anod and surrounding areas were women and children, who were without proper shelter. The Red Crescent said some people had been displaced earlier from areas facing severe drought after repeated failed rains. At least 82 people have been killed in fighting that has involved shelling of civilian areas, with damage to health facilities, as well as electricity and water supplies, the UN said. Guardian

10 Killed, Several Injured in Al-Shabaab Terrorist Attack on Residential Building in Somalia’s Capital
At least 10 people were killed and several others were injured when al-Shabaab terrorists stormed a residential building in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, sprayed indiscriminate bullets with automatic weapons on civilians, and one of them blew himself up…The Information Ministry said in a statement that the attack began with a suicide bombing, followed by gunfire that killed 10 people. The security forces completed the operation and killed four terrorist attackers, the ministry said. Four security personnel were injured during the operation that ended the al-Shabaab militants’ siege of the building, it added. Local media reported that some injured fighters from the government-backed armed militia known as Macwisley were staying at the residential building when al-Shabaab militants attacked it. Macwisley is a clan-based militia fighting al-Shabaab terrorists in the country’s central provinces. Anadolu Agency

South Sudanese Activist Arrested in Nairobi, Deported to Juba amid Protests
A vocal critic of South Sudan’s government has gone missing in Kenya after allegedly being abducted by men in police uniform in Nairobi. Reports say Morris Mabior Awikjok Bak was deported to Juba, South Sudan, on the night of February 4, hours after his arrest from his Chokaa home. A team of police who claimed they were from Anti Terror Police Unit first booked him at the local Hurlingham police post under OB number 19 at about 7 pm, saying he was under arrest for terror-related charges. Star

Kenya: Police Tear Gas Eric Omondi While Protesting Outside Parliament
Comedian Eric Omondi has staged protests outside Parliament Buildings, decrying the high cost of living…Accompanied by over a dozen protestors, Omondi blocked Parliament Road as they raised plackcards detailing the issues they were complaining about. The protests were however cut short by police who lobbed teargas to disperse the them, as officers arrested Omondi. The protest by Omondi comes days after he said many Kenyan youths were suffering due to lack of money and were unable to meet their needs. Omondi further said that a large number of children are now at home because their parents do not have money for their school fees. This, he says has become like a lifestyle in Kenya. The self-proclaimed president of African comedy has accused politicians of holding rallies every weekend and on weekdays at the expense of ordinary Kenyans. Pulse Kenya

Kenya: M-Pesa Eyes the Global Remittances Trillion-Dollar Market
With global remittances set to reach $5.4 trillion by 2030, according to a specialized UN agency, African fintech darling M-Pesa wants to grab a piece of the pie. The Kenyan fintech behemoth is ramping up an ambitious expansion drive to woo markets in the global North. According to the UN specialized agency, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in the 2021/22 forecast period, remittance flow ($605 billion) was more than triple the total amount of official international development assistance ($178.6 billion)…The platform has made financial services accessible to millions of people who previously lacked access to traditional banking services and has transformed how people in Africa handle their money. Internationally, however, it will need to first wrestle the lucrative market dominated by traditional players such as Western Union and MoneyGram and banks in new countries. Already, the virtual banking system run by telecommunications giant Safaricom has limited partnerships with Western Union, Money Gram, World Remit, and Remitly, the mobile-first provider of remittances and financial services for immigrants. Bird Story Agency

Sudan: New Anti-Gold Mining Solidarity Protests in Red Sea State as Military ‘Procrastinates’
Karrar Askar, a member of the protest committee against gold mining in Dordeib, Red Sea state, accused commanders of the 45th Infantry Brigade of procrastinating with regard to removing the mining plants that are located inside the Dordeib army base. New roadblocks are emerging in solidarity with the protesters. The blockade of the Port Sudan-Kassala road near Dordeib will continue until the technical report on gold mining plants in the area that use cyanide and mercury is released, the plants are removed, and the brigade’s commander has been transferred, Askar told Radio Dabanga…He also explained that technical experts have arrived in the gold mining areas “to brief those involved about the dangers of cyanide and mercury pose to humans, animals, and the environment”. Concerned local residents and activists have been protesting the presence of these plants that treat gold mining waste (called karta in Sudan), which contains poisonous cyanide and mercury, in open basins since the start of this month by blocking the Port Sudan-Kassala road. Dabanga

South Africa Electricity Supply Crisis: The Inside Story
While money had been poured into connecting ever-more people, and with millions also making their own unmetered illegal connections in low-income, high-density suburbs of the country, the maintenance schedules of existing power plants were largely ignored and new plant plans were put on hold. The result was a shortfall of power output by Eskom, then the sole electricity provider, and well before initially expected, though some forward-looking analysts had a decade earlier anticipated that by 2008 there would already be periods, especially at peak demand in the early evenings of winter months, when demand would outstrip supply…With the advent of the first administration of President Jacob Zuma in 2009, a simmering problem turned into the making of a full-scale disaster, just as President Cyril Ramaphosa last week declared, was now upon South Africa, as Eskom, along with other key state entities, was stripped of talent and filled with party loyalists willing to engage in mass looting of state funds, known now as ‘state capture.’  East African

South Africa: High Court Declares Sections of Refugees Act Unconstitutional
The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town has won a significant victory against the Minister of Home Affairs in the Western Cape high court, which has declared sections of the Refugees Act unconstitutional. The sections in question provide that asylum seekers who have not renewed their visas within one month of the date of expiry are considered to have abandoned their asylum applications. This, Scalabrini argued in its application before Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath, meant that these asylum seekers were considered to be undocumented and treated as “illegal foreigners”, without access to jobs and social services, and they faced deportation. Mail & Guardian

Local Elections Chance to Advance Peace in Central African Republic: UN Envoy
Upcoming local elections represent a “significant opportunity” to advance the peace and political process in the Central African Republic (CAR), the head of the UN mission in the country, MINUSCA, told the Security Council on Tuesday.  Special Representative Valentine Rugwabiza reported on recent progress by the Government, including in election preparations and security sector reform.  Political engagement with the leaders of armed groups remains essential and is starting to yield modest results, she added, pointing to the dissolution of four armed groups who were signatories to the February 2019 Peace Agreement…Turning to security, she said that while the CAR experienced relative stability and calm during the rainy season, the onset of the dry season has seen an increase in armed group activities and attacks.  Although this unfortunately is the normal pattern of conflict in the country, new developments such as the use of explosive devices and drones have had a negative impact on the population, security forces, humanitarians, and UN peacekeepers. African Media Agency