Africa Media Review for January 10, 2024

African Migration Trends to Watch in 2024
African migration continues to experience persistent upward pressures—extending a 20-year pattern. Limited economic opportunity, conflict, repressive government, growing youth populations, and climate change are the primary drivers behind the approximately one million new migrants over the past year. This adds to the estimated 43 million African migrants overall. A majority of these, mostly single, migrants remain on the continent—seeking employment opportunities in urban hubs. Others seek jobs outside the continent, primarily in the Middle East and Europe, though Africans comprise just 6.6 and 8.2 percent of all migrants in those regions, respectively…Unresolved conflicts on the continent are generating record numbers of forcibly displaced populations. Moreover, reversions to autocratic rule have constricted basic freedoms and heightened the repression that, likewise, contribute to increased displacements. Extended forced displacement compels young people to move to urban areas—and then potentially off-continent—driving up migration. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Tunisian Group Accuses Authorities of Mass Expulsions of Migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa
Migration activists are sounding the alarm this week about mass expulsions and arbitrary arrests in Tunisia, where authorities are seeing more migrants arrive for attempted Mediterranean crossings from the North African nation to Europe. The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights on Monday accused the government of waging a campaign of repression against migrants at the expense of humanitarian concerns…It said in a statement that witness accounts indicated the situation had become particularly dire around Tunisia’s borders with Libya and Algeria as well as around the country’s second most populous city, Sfax, a common stopover point for migrants aiming to cross the Mediterranean. The nongovernmental organization said that migrants in Sfax, which is 117 miles (188 kilometers) from the Italian Island of Lampedusa, regularly experience arbitrary arrests and violence. Many have their property destroyed. Such treatment hasn’t been limited to migrants who enter Tunisia without authorization and has extended to refugees, students, and workers, the group said. It said it had received frequent reports of mass expulsions across the Algerian and Libyan borders. In Algeria, that has included migrants being deported into the desert regardless of weather conditions. In war-torn Libya, deportations often lead to migrants ending up in detention centers run by armed groups. AP

Over 7.5 Million Displaced People in Sudan after Nine Months of War: UN
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is concerned about the intensifying forced displacement crisis in Sudan and neighbouring countries. Since the war broke out in mid-April 2023, more than 7.5 million people have fled their homes; many of them have moved repeatedly after only finding temporary safety. Of these, 1.3 million are refugees and over 6 million are internally displaced civilians…Such figures have risen sharply over the past month as humanitarian aid, with insufficient funding, struggles to reach populations in need…In Nyala, South Darfur, a reported aerial attack caused death, injuries and destruction of civilian homes. Panic has reportedly spread among the civilian population in Wad Madani, with people seen leaving the town in vehicles and on foot– some for the second time in only a few months. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), between 250,000 and 300,000 people have fled Wad Madani and surrounding areas since the recent clashes began…If the fighting further escalates and spreads to White Nile State, it could significantly impact the work of UNHCR and other humanitarian organisations that provide critical assistance to the over 437,000 South Sudanese refugees and some 433,000 internally displaced Sudanese there. RFI

Fierce Fighting Erupts between Sudanese Army, RSF in Omdurman
Fierce battles erupted Tuesday between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the areas surrounding the Corps of Engineers in Omdurman, intensifying the ongoing conflict that has gripped the country for nearly nine months. The Sudanese army has been striving to break the siege of the Corps of Engineers and establish a connection with the Karari military region, where recurring violent confrontations have unfolded between the two forces. Pro-army social media pages today released video footage showcasing the military’s advance and their capture of Al-Arbaeen Street in Omdurman, Al-Mawradah Street, and several locations in central Omdurman previously under RSF control. Violence also erupted in the popular market and main market in Omdurman, with the Sudanese army securing control over portions of these areas. Eyewitnesses reported to Sudan Tribune that the army conducted airstrikes targeting RSF positions, including sites in Riyadh, Taif, and Hajj Youssif of Khartoum. Additionally, RSF bases in the Al-Azhari suburb and the Sports City in southern Khartoum were targeted by the military’s air raids. In response, the RSF retaliated by firing heavy artillery and guided missiles at army positions in the General Command, the Signal Corps, the Armoured Corps, and the Karari Military area. Sudan Tribune

Congo’s Constitutional Court Upholds Election Results, Declares President Tshisekedi the Winner
Congo’s constitutional court on Tuesday upheld the results of last month’s election that declared President Felix Tshisekedi the winner, rejecting a petition by an opposition candidate to annul the vote. The court called a petition by opposition candidate Theodore Ngoy to redo the vote unfounded. Ngoy, who finished with less than 1% of the vote, was the only candidate to file an appeal. Tshisekedi will be sworn in at the end of January…Congo has a history of disputed elections that can turn violent, and there’s little confidence among many Congolese in the country’s institutions. Before the results were announced last month, opposition candidates, including frontrunner Moise Katumbi, said they rejected the results and called on the population to mobilize. AP

Congo Arrests Six Soldiers Accused of Killing Civilians
Authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo have arrested six soldiers who are accused of the indiscriminate killing of four civilians during militia clashes in the east. The clashes took place in the rural district of Mangina, near Beni, on Monday, the army said in a statement on Tuesday. Security had deteriorated there since last month when a member of the provincial assembly encouraged young people to take up arms, forming a small-scale militia to oppose the army, the statement from local army spokesperson Antony Mwalushayi said. The parliamentarian named in the statement, Alain Siwako, denied this. He told Reuters by phone that the militia fighters were not from Mangina and that the army spokesperson had accused him for personal reasons. On Monday soldiers on patrol were ambushed by the young militiamen, and opened fired on civilians in the ensuing clashes, the army statement said. A Reuters reporter counted seven bodies of civilians in the town on Tuesday. Reuters

In rare African split, South Africa battling Morocco to lead UN rights body
South Africa and Morocco are at loggerheads over the presidency of the United Nations’ top human rights body ahead of a vote on Wednesday, with the former saying Rabat has committed violations in Western Sahara and has no credibility to lead the body. For only the second time in the U.N. Human Rights Council’s 17-year history, it has been left without a president at the start of the year and it will select one in a secret ballot. It is a rare public dispute in the African group whose turn it is to lead the 47-member council. It normally strives to take decisions as a bloc. Diplomats say the result is too close to call for the annual presidency – a prestigious but mostly symbolic post that can help turbo-charge the political careers of ambassadors. Morocco claims sovereignty over Western Sahara, where the Algeria-backed Polisario Front is seeking independence. It has denied allegations of rights abuses against its opponents there. As part of a broader strategy, Morocco has been courting countries, including African neighbours, to build up support for its policies for the former Spanish territory. But it has not won over South Africa which helped to organise an event to promote self-determination for the Sahrawi people in Geneva last year…The council meets several times a year in Geneva. It is the only intergovernmental global body to protect human rights worldwide and can increase scrutiny of countries’ human rights records and authorise probes. Reuters

Nigeria Destroys Record $11.2 Million in Seized Elephant Tusks
Nigeria on Tuesday destroyed 2.5 tonnes of seized elephant tusks valued at over 9.9 billion naira ($11.2 million) in a push to protect its dwindling elephant population from rampant wildlife traffickers. Over the past three decades, Nigeria’s elephant population has declined drastically from an estimated 1,500 to less than 400 due to poaching for ivory, habitat loss and human-elephant conflict, according to conservationists. Minister of State for Environment Iziaq Salako said the government crushed the tusks and will use the powder to build a symbolic national park monument as a reminder of the importance of elephants in the ecosystem. The pulverization of the tusk in the capital Abuja follows a similar event in October where officials destroyed four tonnes of seized pangolin scales valued at $1.4 million. Thousands of elephants are killed each year for their tusks despite a 1989 ban on the trade of ivory by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Despite being a signatory to CITES, Nigeria is considered a hub for gangs sending illegal African wildlife parts including tusks and pangolin scales to Asia, according to law enforcement and wildlife experts. Reuters

Nigerian’s President Vows to Cut Entourages for Foreign Trips after 1400 Delegates for COP28
The decision came after an outcry over Nigeria registering more than 1 400 delegates for the COP28 climate summit in Dubai last month. No more than 20 people will now be allowed to join President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on visits abroad, his spokesman said, outlining a series of similar caps for other politicians…Tinubu came to power last year and launched an ambitious reform agenda aimed at attracting more investment in Africa’s largest economy and addressing the cost-of-living crisis. He ended a fuel subsidy and lifted restrictions on the naira currency to improve public finances. Since then fuel prices have tripled, the naira’s value against the dollar has plummeted, and food prices have surged more than 31 percent, according to the World Bank. But Tinubu says the negative impacts will be temporary and has repeated calls for patience, saying the moves will benefit the country in the long run. A presidential aide insisted the Dubai trip was not a “jamboree” and said those registered to attend from Nigeria were not necessarily funded by the government. AFP

Zambia Enacts New Access to Information Law
Zambia has become the latest country to enact an Access to Information law, as President Hakainde Hichilema signed the bill last month, more than 20 years since it was first introduced in parliament. While some have welcomed the move, rights activists say the measure still falls short of international standards. Under the new law, every citizen can request unclassified information from the government on any issue of public interest…The new law aims to provide a right to access information as guaranteed in the U.N. Convention against Corruption and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. It also outlines the procedures to request information and places Zambia’s Human Rights Commission as an oversight institution on such requests…The Media Institute of Southern Africa, or MISA, is an umbrella organization representing MISA national chapters in the Southern African Development Community. MISA Zambia’s national chairperson, Lorraine Mwanza, said while she welcomes the new law, it may provide little help to journalists, opposition parties and civil society, as it does not address some critical issues. “The act should provide clear timelines stating how long one should wait when they request for information or when they appeal against decline to an information request from a public body,” she said…Zambia now joins Angola, Malawi, Namibia, Tanzania, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, which have enacted access to information laws. VOA

South Africa: What We Know about Jacob Zuma’s New Party
The newly launched uMkhonto Wesizwe party is arguably one of the most talked about developments in the run-up to the 2024 elections after it was publicly endorsed by former president Jacob Zuma in December. The party was registered on 7 September 2023 by a man called Jabulani Sibongiseni Khumalo, according to a letter from the IEC, which was later shared by ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula…Calling a party uMkhonto Wesizwe is a direct provocation to the ANC, so much so that before its launch, Mbalula had said the ruling party intended to take the new party to court, saying the name belonged to the ANC. Daily Maverick, however, understands that the ANC only applied to have MK as a trademark at the end of September 2023 and it takes about two years for a trademark to be registered…The party has not clearly articulated what it stands for and so far, it appears largely centred on Zuma’s grievances…It remains unclear who exactly will be the face of the party. Speculation is rife that it will be Zuma himself and some reports have suggested his name will be on the ballot. There’s also been talk that Zuma’s son, Duduzane, who has on numerous occasions expressed his presidential aspirations, might lead the party. Daily Maverick

Senegal’s Sponsorship Phase for Presidential Candidates Nears Completion
In Senegal, 21 candidates have made it through the sponsorship phase, which they are required to complete in order to stand in the presidential election. The final list will be known on 20 January. The sponsorship phase requires potential candidates for the presidential election in Senegal to collect signatures demonstrating support from at least 0.6 percent of the electorate, 13 members of the National Assembly, or 120 mayors and heads of regional councils. For the 25 February election, it started in October 2023. Senegal’s Constitutional Council finished examining the sponsorships on Wednesday this week, and has until 20 January to look through all other related documents including criminal records and the tax situation of potential candidates. Prime Minister Amadou Ba, the former mayor of Dakar Khalifa Sall and former minister Karim Wade, are among the 21 who have been accepted as presidential candidates. Twelve others were accepted this week, including Idrissa Seck, who came second in the 2019 election, the former minister of agriculture and majority dissident Aly Ngouille Ndiaye, the former chief of staff Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, and Malick Gakou, another dissident from the majority and former minister of sports. Only two women passed this first sponsorship milestone: the gynaecologist Rose Wardini and the entrepreneur Anta Babacar Ngom. In total, 93 candidates had put their names forward to the Constitutional Council. RFI

How Uganda Agoa Ban Impacts East Africa Investments
The decision by the Biden administration to kick out Uganda from its African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) programme could have far-reaching consequences on the investment climate in the East African region. The impact could go beyond the East African region, trade experts say, and Kenya and Tanzania are poised to benefit from the “spoils” if they come up with strategies to woo US corporations moving out of Uganda as a result of Washington’s action. There are also those of the view that should Uganda lay its strategy properly, its pharmaceutical industry, in which the US government has heavily invested, could be available to African and European investors. The move could also affect the East African Community’s Rules of Origin as the US could block goods from the EAC partner states produced using raw materials from Uganda. Washington officially struck out Uganda and three other African countries —Central African Republic, Gabon, and Niger — from Agoa from January 1, effectively ending Kampala’s ability to export certain commodities to the US duty-free. The East African

Africa’s Birds of Prey Are in Decline, a New Study Finds
According to a study published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, 88 percent of 42 African raptor species have suffered declines over the past 20 to 40 years, and 69 percent are either more endangered than previously thought or now meet criteria for being threatened with extinction…Raptors, carnivorous birds that feed on other vertebrates, play crucial ecological roles as both apex predators that keep other species’ populations in check and as scavengers that recycle nutrients back into the food web and limit the spread of disease around carcasses. “Losing either of those groups is going to have major trickle-down impacts to the rest of the ecosystem,” [Darcy Ogada, the African program director at the Peregrine Fund, a nonprofit conservation group that focuses on birds of prey, and an author of the study] said. Eagles, vultures and other birds of prey are particularly vulnerable because many species are long-lived, slow-breeding and wide-ranging. In Africa, like most other places, habitat loss is the biggest threat to their survival. Declines are also driven by poaching for food and ritual use, poisoning, electrocution, striking power lines and wind turbines, and climate change.