Africa Media Review for February 28, 2019

Senegal’s Sall Heads for Outright Win in Partial Vote Results
Senegalese President Macky Sall is leading Sundays election with the necessary majority for an outright win, according to unofficial results from most of the countrys 45 departments. Sall secured 57 percent of the 3.8 million votes counted in 39 departments that were compiled by a group of citizen observers known as Senegal Vote and tallied by Bloomberg. The results from 32 departments that were reported by state-run Agence de Presse Senegalaise show Sall leading with 61 percent of the vote. Senegal Vote reported the same results for the departments tallied by APS.  Salls camp already claimed an outright win while his opponents said the vote will require a second round, which could be closely contested if the opposition unites behind a single candidate. Unlike most of its neighbors in West Africa, Senegal has never suffered a coup.  Bloomberg

Nigeria’s President Buhari Defends Election Win as Challenger Takes Him to Court
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday said it was “obvious” that the presidential election was “free and fair” as he called on his supporters “not to gloat or humiliate the opposition.” His losing opponent, Atiku Abubakar, a billionaire former vice president who campaigned to “make Nigeria work again,” rejected what he called a “sham election” and said he would challenge the results in court. “On election day, we saw the implementation of grand theft of the people’s will,” he added. […] Abubakar said that if the vote had been fair, he would have called the president to concede immediately. Instead he alleged malpractice in many of Nigeria’s 36 states. “If I had lost in a free and fair election, I would have called the victor within seconds of my being aware of his victory to offer not just my congratulations, but my services to help unite Nigeria by being a bridge between the north and the south,” he said in a statement.  Deutsche Welle

Nigeria’s Vote: The Numbers, the Surprises, the Market Reaction
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was declared the winner Wednesday of a Feb. 23 general election, in which he decisively beat his main rival, Atiku Abubakar, to secure a second and final four-year term. […] Numbers and Swing States: Buhari got 15.2 million votes, about 200,000 less than when he came to office in 2015. But support for Abubakar’s Peoples Democratic Party dropped even more — to 11.3 million votes from 12.9 million. That meant Buhari’s victory margin of 56 percent to 41 percent was higher than four years ago, when it was 54 percent to 45 percent. Low turnout probably played into the hands of Buhari and his All Progressives Congress. It was just 36 percent, compared to about 45 percent last time. Crucially, voting numbers were way down in the PDPs strongholds of the south-east and south-south, two of Nigeria’s six so-called geopolitical zones. In the two regions, there were 5.6 million valid votes, versus 7.9 million in 2015, figures from the Independent National Electoral Commission show. Abubakar rejected the results and said he’d challenge them in court, arguing that the government used the military in these two zones to harass citizens and reduce the turnout.  Bloomberg

Thousands of Nigerians Flee Boko Haram Violence, Head to Cameroon
The governor of Cameroon’s Far North region is denying a report that tens of thousands of Nigerian refugees who fled Boko Haram-related violence will be forced to return home. Aid agency Medicins Sans Frontieres, also called Doctors Without Borders, said Wednesday that Cameroonian and Nigerian authorities have ordered 40,000 refugees to return to northeastern Nigeria. The statement, reported by the Reuters news agency, said MSF had seen people packing their belongings and heading toward the Nigerian city of Rann, which Islamist militant group Boko Haram attacked and burned to the ground in January. Midjiyawa Bakari, governor of the Far North region, told VOA that any returns to Nigeria are voluntary. VOA

Ghana’s Ex-President Mahama Nominated to Contest 2020 Election
Ghana’s main opposition party has nominated former President John Mahama to challenge incumbent Nana Akufo-Addo in next year’s election, a party official said on Wednesday, the third consecutive poll in which the two will face off. Akufo-Addo unseated Mahama in a 2016 election, capitalizing on an economy that was slowing due to falling prices for gold, oil and cocoa exports. Mahama, who succeeded his deceased predecessor in 2012 and defeated Akufo-Addo in an election later that year, accepted defeat immediately in 2016, maintaining the West African country’s record of fiercely contested but peaceful elections. Reuters

Sudan Tightens Emergency Rule as Protests Grow
The government of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir this week issued four new emergency laws forbidding demonstrations and strikes, as well as imposing new economic restrictions. The measures came after Bashir announced a state of emergency Feb. 22, two months after demonstrations erupted across the country demanding regime change. His aim, he said, was to rescue Sudan’s political and economic situation. Sudan’s constitution enables the president to declare a state of emergency when there are threats to national security such as a war or natural disaster, says Mohamed Awad, a legal expert and activist. But Awad says he does not believe that is the case now. VOA

UN Welcomes Africa’s Goal of ‘Silencing the Guns’ by 2020
The U.N. Security Council welcomed Africa’s campaign for “Silencing the Guns” on the continent by 2020 and called Wednesday for international support to achieve peace in every country. A resolution adopted unanimously by the council “expresses support for initiatives aimed at finding African solutions to African problems” while recognizing that other countries can help accelerate progress. The council noted efforts by the African Union and regional groups to create a conflict-free continent, but it also expressed concern “over the challenging security situation in parts of Africa.” It pointed to threats posed by terrorism, maritime piracy, tensions between farmers and herders, transnational organized crime, and “the persistent violence perpetrated by insurgents, rebel, and armed groups.”  AP

School Closures in the Sahel Double in the Last Two Years Due to Growing Insecurity – UNICEF
Continued and growing insecurity in the Sahel region has forced nearly 2,000 schools in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger to close or become non-operational, UNICEF said today. This marks a two-fold increase in the number of education facilities forcibly closed or left non-operational since 2017. Threats to education personnel, attacks on education facilities and the use of schools for military purposes – all of which amount to a grave violation of children’s rights – have disrupted education for more than 400,000 children across the three countries and left 10,050 teachers unable to work or displaced by the violence themselves. “Direct attacks on schools, teachers and schoolchildren themselves, and the military occupation of places of learning are serious violations of children’s rights,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “When children miss out on school – especially in times of conflict – not only are they unable to learn the skills they need to build peaceful and prosperous communities; they also become vulnerable to horrific forms of exploitation including sexual abuse and forced recruitment into armed groups.”  UNICEF

Congo Ebola Center Set on Fire after Armed Attack
Armed assailants attacked an Ebola treatment center in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday, setting off a fire and becoming embroiled in an extended gun battle with security forces, health officials said. The identity and motive of the assailants were unclear. Aid workers have faced mistrust in some areas as they work to contain an Ebola outbreak. Dozens of armed militia also regularly attack civilians and security forces in eastern Congo’s borderlands with Uganda and Rwanda, which has significantly hampered the response to the disease.  VOA

DR Congo Child Soldiers Surrender Arms and Amulets
“For me, the war is now over.” If words alone carry weight, there are hopes that a brutal conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo may draw to an end. The words were spoken by Mado, a hard-eyed child fighter all of 12-years-old from the deeply-feared Kamuina Nsapu militia in central Kasai region. Along with several dozen adults, the young girl marched out of the brush and into the town of Kananga, some 700 kilometres (450 miles) east of Kinshasa, where they surrendered their weapons. There they laid down old rifles, machetes and good-luck charms at the governor’s feet following the surprising victory of Felix Tshisekedi who was elected president after December’s elections. Like most of the Kamwina Nsapu fighters, Tshisekedi comes from the Luba tribe. AFP

Mauritian Fight over Chagos Not Over Yet
While Mauritius celebrated the recommendations of the International Court of Justice over the fate of the Chagos archipelago, Britain claimed that it was a misuse of power to seek the opinion of the ICJ. The battle is not over yet and it is now up to the UN General Assembly to offer direction. The Prime minister of Mauritius described February 25th, 2019, as a historic day for Chagossians and Mauritians. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nation’s highest court – after five months of hearings – concluded that “the process of decolonisation of Mauritius was not lawfully completed when Mauritius acceded to independence in 1968.” The Court also concluded that “the United Kingdom has an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible.”  RFI

Ex-President of Seychelles Rene Dies
Former president of Seychelles France-Albert Rene, who seized power in a coup and stayed in power for nearly three decades, died on Wednesday aged 83, state television said. Rene, who died in hospital, was the “modern day architect of Seychelles”, President Danny Faure said in a statement. “He was a true patriot who cared about his country and his people.” Rene, who studied as a lawyer in London, served as prime minister before overthrowing the archipelago’s founding president James Mancham in a bloodless coup in 1977.  AFP

Tanzania Suspends Newspaper over Story on Falling Shilling
Tanzania has suspended The Citizen newspaper for seven days. The government accused the privately-owned local daily of publishing false news in a story on depreciation of the shilling against the dollar on February 23. The paper “deliberately published misleading information that the value of the Tanzanian shilling has declined compared to three years ago without following the due procedure and financial standards set by the Bank of Tanzania ,” Mr Patrick Kipangula, the registrar of newspapers, said in a letter on Wednesday. Mr Kipangula said the decision to suspend the licence temporarily follows the printing of a number of misleading articles that “largely violate media ethics and incite citizens against the government.”  The East African

A Fight between Two Train Conductors in Cairo Caused a Crash That Killed at Least 25
A fight between two train conductors unleashed a speeding, unmanned locomotive that slammed into a barrier and exploded in the Egyptian capital’s main train station Wednesday, killing at least 25 people, authorities said. Railway officials said the single railcar collided head-on with the buffer stop, causing a huge explosion and fire. At least 47 people were also injured, many of them critically, and officials said the death toll could rise. The deadly blaze blasted through people on the platform in the busy Ramses Station in downtown Cairo. A surveillance video showed the moment of impact when the car barreled past men and women walking by and engulfed them in flames and smoke. Charred bodies lay on the platform, and a man in flames ran down a staircase in panic, according to other photos and videos posted on social media. The Independent

Jewish Agency Calls on Gov’t to Expedite Falash Mura Immigration from Ethiopia
The Jewish Agency has called on the government to expedite the immigration to Israel of some 8,000 members of the so-called Falash Mura community of descendants of Jews in Ethiopia, and has established a committee to recommend policy for this goal. The committee is now evaluating whether the agency would restart operations in Ethiopia, specifically to provide health and humanitarian assistance to this community, as well as educational and training initiatives, but no decision has yet been made to fund such activities. A professional team from the agency is expected to leave for Ethiopia in March to examine the issue on the ground, and a decision on whether to restart funding will then be made. The new committee convened for the first time on Tuesday and called for the government to fully implement government resolution 716 from 2015, which determined then to bring all remaining 9,300 members of the community from Ethiopia to Israel. The Jerusalem Post

Africa’s Richest Man Makes a $17 Billion Bid for Immortality
The best way to appreciate the scale of Aliko Dangote’s empire is to hitch a ride on one of his private jets. A half-hour after his Bombardier Challenger 605 takes off from Lagos Airport, it descends into a seemingly desolate area of Kogi State in central Nigeria, dusty fields and clusters of trees stretching to the horizon. Suddenly a tangle of exhaust stacks, silos, and kilns pierces the sky to the left of the aircraft as Dangote Cement Plc’s Obajana plant comes into view. It’s already the biggest in Africa, churning out enough sacks of cement to fill 1,000 trucks a day. A fifth production line now under construction will make it one of the world’s largest. The cement plant and its two sister factories in Nigeria have long been the bedrock of Dangote’s fortune, Africa’s biggest. But Dangote’s future—and, as he likes to say, that of the entire continent’s economy—lies to the south on the Nigerian coast. About 40 miles east of Lagos, on more than 6,700 acres of former swampland bound by a lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean, contractors are putting the finishing touches on a fertilizer plant valued at $5 billion. Next to it, construction of a vast oil refinery—a $12 billion project—is under way.  Bloomberg

Business in a Time of State Capture: The Glencore Story
For seven months, global commodities firm Glencore found itself cornered, stonewalled and punished as it tried to cling to Optimum Coal Mine amid interventions by government officials and Eskom executives allegedly intent on forcing a sale to the Guptas. Global commodities giant Glencore stood little chance of retaining Optimum Coal Mine once project State Capture triggered a full-blown assault designed to wrestle the mine out of its hands. Glencore, pressured into selling a basket of assets to the Guptas in 2015, has for the first time publicly revealed the extent of a campaign that allegedly involved former mining minister Mosebenzi Zwane, former Eskom chairman Dr Ben Ngubane and executives Brian Molefe and Matshela Koko. It also involved government mining inspectors sent out for weekend safety checks at the company’s mines in order to slap Glencore with Section 54 notices — ones that are so serious they shut down an entire mine. Testifying before the State Capture commission on Wednesday, Glencore director and formerly CEO of Optimum Coal Holdings (OCH), Clinton Ephron, painted a picture of the seven-month campaign that ended in January 2016, when Glencore finally agreed to sell OCH to the Guptas for R2.15-billion. Daily Maverick

Millions of Ugandans Quit Internet after Introduction of Social Media Tax
Millions of people in Uganda have abandoned the internet after punishing taxes were imposed on social media use and money transactions using mobile phones. A daily levy, introduced in July to tame “idle talk” online and raise revenue, affects more than 60 online platforms including Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. To use such sites, Ugandans are expected to pay a tax of 200 Ugandan shillings (4p) a day. In the three months following the introduction of the levy, the number of internet subscriptions fell by more than 2.5 million, according to the Uganda Communications Commission. Fears have been raised over the impact on the economy. At the time the tax was imposed, David Bahati, Uganda’s finance minister, said the legislation aimed to raise revenue for public services. However, the president, Yoweri Museveni, wrote to the finance ministry in March urging the introduction of the tax as a way to deal with the consequences of online “gossip”.  The Guardian

The Vital Work of African Innovators Is Gaining More Global Recognition
African innovators keep winning global plaudits with increased attention paid to their work and its impact. The latest nod comes from Fast Company magazine’s annual list of The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies. African Leadership University was named on the diverse list of 50 companies across the world making “the most profound impact on both industry and culture.” The listing is a recognition of ALU’s rapid growth since being founded in 2015 by Fred Swaniker. The Mauritius-based institution’s ambitious goal of redefining education on the continent has been backed with over $80 million in just over three years, as Quartz Africa has reported.  Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones