Africa Media Review for January 10, 2018

Regional Force Targets Top Boko Haram Jihadists in Nigeria
Troops from Nigeria and neighbouring countries have launched major offensives against the two Boko Haram factions and their leaders, the military said on Tuesday. Soldiers from Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria are targeting Abubakar Shekau in the Sambisa Forest, and Mamman Nur, on and around Lake Chad, both in Borno state, northeast Nigeria. According to the Nigerian military, scores of jihadists have been killed and hundreds of others have been forced to surrender in recent days. Top brass in Abuja have claimed that Nur had been injured and one of his wives killed in an aerial bombardment, and that Shekau was “a spent horse, waiting for his Waterloo”. AFP

Meeting to Make G5 Sahel Force Operational Opens in Mali
A ministerial meeting of G5 Sahel member countries (Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad), on Monday opened in Bamako on ways and means to make the G5 Sahel Joint Force operational.APA can report from the Malian capital that the meeting brings together the ministers of foreign affairs and defence of the five G5 Sahel member countries, a body created in 2014 to settle armed conflicts in the Sahel area. It aims to continue and accelerate the rise of a counter-terrorism force common to the five countries, and which is expected to have 5,000 men, according to reports. At the opening of the meeting, G5 Sahel Permanent Secretary Najim Eladj Mohamed said the strength of the force created by the five member countries will reach full capacity in March. APA

Nigeria Commission Sets Date for 2019 Presidential Election
Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission says that presidential and national assembly elections will be held on Feb. 16, 2019. The commission made the announcement Tuesday while outlining the 2019 general election timetable. It said the presidential and national assembly primaries will begin in August and campaigning in November of this year. The commission says elections for governor, state assembly and other local offices will take place March 2, 2019. Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari beat incumbent Goodluck Jonathan in the March 2015 presidential election. It’s not clear if Buhari, who has faced health issues, will run again. The 2019 vote will be the ninth presidential election in Africa’s most populous nation since its independence from Britain in 1960. AP

ANC’s 106th: As Tectonic Plates Are Shifting, Zuma Pulls State Capture Commission Move
The ANC kicked off the week by celebrating its 106th birthday, but it could be a different organisation by the time its birthday rally comes around on Saturday. The ground is shifting to favour the party’s new leadership, and President Jacob Zuma’s late-night announcement on Tuesday that he’ll be appointing a state capture probe is one sign of that. Then there is also news that two African presidents will, unusually, grace the former liberation movement’s weekend celebrations. Daily Maverick

Zuma’s Exit Not on South African Ruling Party’s Meeting Agenda
The removal of South African President Jacob Zuma as head of state will not be discussed at an African National Congress meeting on Wednesday, the party’s secretary-general said. There was widespread local media speculation this week that Zuma’s opponents in the ANC’s newly elected 80-member national executive committee would raise a motion of no-confidence at its first meeting under new party leader Cyril Ramaphosa. ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule told reporters at a break in the meeting that the only item on the agenda was the statement to be read by Ramaphosa on Jan. 8 to mark the 106th birthday of the ANC. The rand briefly extended losses against the U.S. dollar. Zuma has been unpopular with investors. Reuters

Libyan Navy Says Some 100 Migrants Believed Missing at Sea
The Libyan navy said on Wednesday that some 100 migrants are missing at sea and feared dead while the coast guard rescued at least 279 others off the coast of Libya. The migrants, mostly Africans, had embarked on the perilous trip across the Mediterranean on board several vessels and the survivors were found on Tuesday. Those missing were all from a single rubber boat that capsized while at sea. Its remnants were found off the western city of Khoms, the navy said. The other migrants were found off the city of Zawiya, also in western Libya. Rescue and search efforts went on for more than 12 hours despite the rough sea and limited resources, the navy said. All the survivors, including 19 women and 17 children, were taken to a naval base in the capital, Tripoli, and were later handed over to Libya’s anti-migration authority.  AP

A Year after ISIS Left, a Battered Libyan City Struggles to Resurrect Itself
[…] Libyan militias, aided by U.S. Special Forces and airstrikes, drove out Islamic State militants from their stronghold of Sirte in December 2016, ending their brutal rule and aspirations for an alternate capital in North Africa. A year later, this sprawling coastal city remains deeply scarred physically and psychologically. Whole neighborhoods are flattened. Thousands of families have yet to return. Many who have come back are renting in half-destroyed buildings. Schools and hospitals are partially functioning, as are businesses. Streets are covered in garbage. The smell melds with the stench from sewers that don’t work. Skeletons in rotting clothes still lie in the wreckage, posing risks of disease. And death still lurks in land mines undiscovered in the debris. “All they cared about was liberating Sirte,” said Salah Mohamed, a taxi driver who lives on the townhouse’s top floor, directly under the bomb. “They didn’t care about the aftermath.”  The Washington Post

Egypt, Eritrea Leaders Meet as Nile Tensions Rise
Egypt’s president and his Eritrean counterpart met in Cairo on Monday amid heightened tensions with Sudan and Ethiopia over border disputes and the construction of a massive upstream Nile dam. Egypt fears the soon-to-be completed dam in Ethiopia could cut into its share of the river, which provides nearly all its freshwater. Eritrea and Ethiopia have long been bitter rivals and went to war in the late 1990s. Ethiopia denies it is cutting into Egypt’s share of the Nile, and has accused Eritrea of training rebels to carry out sabotage attacks on the dam. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi hosted Isaias Afwerki at the presidential palace. “The two sides have agreed on continuing intensive cooperation in all issues related to the current situation to support the security and stability in the region,” Egyptian presidency spokesman Bassam Radi said, referring to the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea strait of Bab al-Mandab as two major areas for ensuring stability. VOA

Why Are Tensions Rising in the Red Sea Region?
Tensions in the Red Sea region have been brewing for months but came to the fore when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Sudan last month. The visit, hailed as historic, was the first by a Turkish head of state since 1956 when Sudan gained independence. Sudan’s official state news agency said the two countries agreed to set up a strategic planning group to discuss international affairs, and that they intended to conclude a military deal. Among more than a dozen agreements signed by Erdogan and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was a deal to temporarily hand over the Red Sea island of Suakin to Turkey. Ankara and Khartoum said Turkey would rebuild the ruined, sparsely populated Ottoman island to increase tourism and create a transit point for pilgrims crossing the Red Sea to Islam’s holiest city of Mecca. Al Jazeera

UN Pushes DR Congo to Investigate Crackdown on Protesters
The United Nations peacekeeping chief on Tuesday condemned the Democratic Republic of Congo’s security forces for violently cracking down on protesters and said authorities must prosecute those responsible. At least five people were killed during clashes on December 31 when police burst into churches, firing tear gas and shooting bullets in the air to break up protests in the capital Kinshasa and in the central city of Kananga, according to UN figures. The demonstrations took place on the first anniversary of a political deal brokered by the Catholic church that was to pave the way for elections in 2017 and the end of President Joseph Kabila’s rule. The elections were pushed back to December 2018 after the government cited delays in preparing the nationwide polls. The Citizen

Anglophone Cameroon Mounts ‘Dead City’ Protest
Cameroon’s English-speaking regions are observing a three-day “dead city” protest against the arrest of a number of separatist leaders in Nigeria last week, local media reported. At least 10 Cameroonian separatists, among them leader Julius Tabe, were arrested in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, the activists said in a statement on Sunday. In protest of the move, the English-speaking separatists urged the population to stay at home from Monday through Wednesday. “For fear of reprisals, we remained at home. Everything is calm on the streets … Banks, travel agencies and shops are closed. Only security forces are patrolling the streets,” Musa Abu, a Bamenda resident told Anadolu Agency late Monday. Anadolu Agency

Migrants Expelled from Israel Head for Europe – UN
Migrants expelled from Israel are risking their lives to reach Europe, the United Nation’s refugee agency has warned. The UNHCR revealed “most” of the 80 Eritrean migrants it spoke to in Rome had accepted money from Israel to leave the Middle Eastern country, then undertook the dangerous journey through North Africa to Europe. The migrants were offered the money – totalling $3,500 (£2,500) – to voluntarily settle back at home, or in an agreed third country. But instead many have headed north, following the well-trodden route to Libya and then across the Mediterranean. All of them suffered abuse, torture and extortion along the way, the UNHCR said in a statement. BBC

Equatorial Guinea: Coup Attempt Leaves Many Questions
“We are leaving here comforted by the assurances we have received from the President of the Republic, and I can say that the United Nations will continue to support Equatorial Guinea in its stabilization efforts,” said UN special envoy, Francois Lounceny Fall, on a visit to Equatorial Guinea. Equatorial Guinea is a country that rarely features on international news. On December 27, however, when 40 armed fighters from Chad, Sudan and the Central African Republic crossed the border, the small West African country hit the headlines. The arrest of the fighters was followed by the arrest of perceived dissidents across the country. The government blocked access to social media platforms, including Facebook and WhatsApp. Deutsche Welle

‘You Can’t Survive Anymore’: Tunisia Protests Rising Prices and Taxes
Tense protests have erupted across Tunisia since a new budget took effect on Jan. 1 that raised taxes on gasoline, phone cards, internet usage, hotel rooms and even fruits and vegetables. The demonstrations have claimed at least one life, and have revived worries about the fragile political situation in Tunisia, the only country to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings with the semblance of a stable democracy. Those uprisings began in Tunisia in December 2010, when Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old college graduate who worked as a fruit and vegetable vendor, set himself on fire in the town of Sidi Bouzid after being shaken down and humiliated by local officials. Thursday was the seventh anniversary of his death. “People have to understand that the situation is extraordinary and their country is having difficulties, but we believe that 2018 will be the last difficult year for the Tunisians,” Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said on Tuesday, emphasizing his belief that the tax increases, while difficult, would help stabilize the economy. The New York Times

Morocco’s Army Raise State Alert to Maximum as Tension Mounts in Guerguerat
The Moroccan army has sent army helicopters and troops to Guerguerat in response to the Polisario’s repeated illegal armed maneuvers in the restricted buffer strip. The separatist movement has been setting up illegal checkpoints in the border area between Morocco and Mauritania in recent weeks. According to Moroccan daily Al Massae, the Polisario has also deployed militia and tried to hinder traffic in the buffer zone, defying the UN Security Council and violating the UN military agreements and the 1991 ceasefire agreement. To respond to Polisario’s maneuvers in the region, the Inspector General of the Royal Armed Forces and Captain of the Southern Military zone issued the order to raise the state alert to the maximum level. Al Massae’ source added that the Inspector General of the Royal Armed Forces mobilized hundreds of soldiers and military vehicles a few meters away from the Mauritanian border. Morocco World News

Known Unknowns – the Threat of Cybercrime in Africa
The rapid development of technology improves lives and enables more efficient operations in the private and public sectors. The challenges that have emerged as a direct consequence, however, can also undermine progress and expose users to illicit activities online. Before 2000, Africa hosted only 4.5 million Internet users. Since then, telecommunications markets have been liberalised and affordable mobile technologies have become increasingly available. Today, there are close to 400 million users online on the continent. According to a 2016 report by the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise, it is estimated that Africa’s e-commerce industry will be worth US$75 billion by 2025. But while mobile technologies transform African societies by providing a major form of connectivity, they have also turned Africa into both a source and a target of illicit online activities. According to one report, in 2012, the number of targeted cyberattacks in Africa increased by 42% from previous years. Daily Maverick

Ethiopian Parliament Approves Bans on Child Adoptions by Foreigners
The Ethiopian parliament on Tuesday approved legislation banning international child adoptions. The legislation is said to encourage orphans to be adopted in their own country to shield them from abuse. However, during the session some members of parliament have raised concerns over enough availability of local adoption facilities for adoptees. Questions over whether “adoptees” are genuine orphaned children and reports of physical abuse and even death of Ethiopian children in the hands of foreign foster parents have caused concerns over flaws in the adoption screening system in Ethiopia.  Xinhua

South Africa’s Gated Communities Are Building Higher Walls in an Already Divided Society
In order to gain access to an unremarkable suburban road, South Africans have become accustomed to parting with their most personal details. At barriers erected across public roads, people who want to cross into this protected zone fill in their name, surname, cellphone, identity and car registration numbers, and then the exact time of their entry. The law says they don’t have to when driving on a public road, but most people don’t give a second thought to handing over data in exchange for a sense of personal security in a city like Johannesburg with a reputation for high contact crimes, like murder and robbery. This payoff, however, has created pockets of development—ranging from middle class suburbia to opulence—walled off from South Africa’s socio-economic reality. It has not only exacerbated inequality by making those beyond the wall invisible, gated communities show how short South Africans’ memory is about restricting the movement of the disenfranchised. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones