Africa Media Review for January 12, 2023

French, German Ministers in Ethiopia to Support Tigray Peace Process
The French and German foreign ministers arrived in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Thursday on a mission to support the peace agreement signed last year to end two years of war in the Tigray region. The visit by France’s Catherine Colonna and Annalena Baerbock of Germany follows Wednesday’s announcement by Tigrayan rebels that they were starting to hand in their heavy weapons, a key component of the November deal to end the conflict in northern Ethiopia. During the two-day trip, the pair are due to meet Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and other ministers as well as African Union officials and human rights campaigners, and visit a World Food Programme distribution centre. RFI

Internet Shutdowns Cost Ethiopia $146 Million in 2022
The war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region has not only caused the loss of lives and mass displacement but also loss of millions of dollars in revenue by businesses due to another full year of total internet shutdown…A new report by Top10VPN, a London-based VPN review firm that assesses internet privacy, security, and freedom shows that Ethiopian businesses have lost $145.8 million due to internet blackout in Tigray last year. It affected over 1 million internet users. In 2020, the country lost $100 million to internet outage which rose to $164.5 million in 2021, affecting 21.3 million users. Quartz Africa

Uganda Cancels $2.2Bn SGR Contract with Chinese Firm, Signs with Turkish Company
After eight years of non-execution, the Uganda government has terminated the contract of China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) to build the country’s first phase of standard gauge railway (SGR), a 273km line from Malaba to Kampala, The EastAfrican has learnt…The SGR Project Coordinator Eng Perez Wamburu says Kampala has now signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Turkish firm Yapi Merkezi. The company is expected to submit a response to the government’s request for a construction proposal within the next few weeks, paving the way for procurement. Kampala says the financing model for the project will also change, with Yapi Merkezi, which is building Tanzania’s SGR, expected to tap into its network to bring Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) on board that will finance and breathe life into the moribund project. East African

South Sudan’s Kiir Invited for Conference in Turkey
Turkey has invited South Sudan President Salva Kiir to attend a diplomatic conference scheduled to take place in March 2023. The Turkish envoy to South Sudan, Erdem Mutaf delivered President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s letter to his South Sudanese counterpart on Wedesday. The Turkish leader pledged his government’s support to the government and people of south Sudan to implement a peace agreement in order to enable the country to return to the path of peace as well as development. Mutaf also stressed that the Turkish government and its president are keen to enhance discussion on developing bilateral relations and other matters of mutual concern and interest between the two countries and the region. Sudan Tribune

Rwanda Makes U-Turn on DR Congo Refugees
The Rwandan government has backtracked on statements made by its president Paul Kagame on Monday that they would evict Congolese refugees. This follows international condemnation of the move. The spokesperson of the government of Rwanda, Ms Yolande Makolo, yesterday said President Kagame was misrepresented by the media…On Monday, Mr Kagame said Rwanda wouldn’t be a dumping ground for refugees, who are the result of ethnic cleansing and other rights abuses in DRC. Daily Monitor

From Poaching to Production: The Fish Farm That Rehabilitated a Rwanda Lake
The rehabilitation of Lake Gishanda has resulted in the first sightings of otters, which have not been seen in the area before. Leah Dufitumukiza, a single mother of a three-year-old, has a job cleaning the fish tanks and assisting the farm managers, and says she is no longer dependent on her parents. “Before the fish farm, I could never imagine the life I am living today,” she says. Eventually, Ndagijimana would like the villagers to manage the farm, and they are working with district officials to identify other suitable lakes in the area that could be rehabilitated. “We are here to make things happen at the farm and the progress is good,” he says. “With the success … the reward of our efforts will be given back to the community.” Guardian

Cameroon Fishers Urge Stop to Gulf of Guinea Poachers to Reverse EU Ban
The EU on January 5 banned Cameroon-caught seafood, citing a zero-tolerance policy for illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing that threatens ocean resources. Cameroon’s Fish Farmers Associations met Wednesday in the capital, Yaounde, to discuss the issues. Koulou Boulou Pierre, a member of the association, said most illegal fishers in Cameroon’s waters are from Africa and China. He said the illegal fishers operate through corrupt government officials and ignore prohibited fishing zones. Pierre said there is a lack of political will to stop high waves of corruption that are responsible for the proliferation of illegal fishing firms all over Cameroon. He said if the government does not take measures for the EU ban to be lifted, Cameroon’s economy will be severely hurt as much of the 8,000 tons of shrimp and prawns for export will not get to European markets. Voice of America

Opposition in Benin Republic Rejects Parliamentary Results
The main opposition party in Benin, Les Democrates, has rejected provisional results from Sunday’s parliamentary election. Benin’s electoral commission said the party won 28 seats in the 109-member parliament. Report say it would be the first time its members have been represented in the chamber in four years. However, a party spokesman accused the commission of falsifying results in order to minimise the opposition’s parliamentary representation. Meanwhile, allies of President Patrice Talon secured 81 seats in the vote. Final results are expected later this week. BBC

Nigeria: LP Complains over ‘Snail Pace’ PVC Distribution
Labour Party has complained over the slow distribution of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Gatekeepers News reports that on Wednesday, when speaking to Journalists in Enugu, Yunusa Tanko, Spokesperson of the LP Presidential Campaign Council said that the distribution of the PVCs across the country has been moving at a “snail pace” He called on INEC to speed up the distribution process to enable Nigerians who are yet to collect their PVCs to collect them before the January 22 fixed by the Electoral commission. “INEC has less than two weeks to deliver PVCs to Nigerians and the reports we are receiving nationwide about the ineptitude of its staff is disheartening and frustrating most PVC collectors,” Tanko said “We have received reports from all the geopolitical zones in Nigeria and the messages are all the same, people complaining of the snail pace at which the PVCs are being distributed.” Gatekeepers News

14 Malian Soldiers Killed by Explosives in Multiple Attacks
Coordinated attacks by Islamic extremists have killed 14 Malian soldiers and wounded nearly a dozen, the army said. Multiple improvised explosive devices detonated between Dia and Diafarabe villages as well as between Koumara and Macina towns in central Mali, said Col. Souleymane Dembele, the director of public relations for the army, in a statement Wednesday. During the same attacks, which occurred earlier this week, Mali’s forces killed more than 30 “terrorists,” Dembele said. AP

West African Chief Vows Support for Jihadist-Torn Burkina Faso
The head of West Africa’s regional bloc has expressed support for jihadist-hit Burkina Faso less than five months after an insurgency sparked by Islamist militants sparked a new coup, the Burkinabe government said. Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, current president of the Economic Community of West African States ( Ecowas), made a one-day visit to Ouagadougou on Wednesday for talks with junta leader Captain Ibrahim Traore. AFP

Ghana Offers 2% Cash to Investors in Domestic Debt Exchange
Ghana is paying holders of its 2023 bond a 2% cash fee in exchange for participation in an exchange for longer-term domestic debt, the finance ministry said in a document released on Wednesday. The crisis-hit country launched an amended offer for the exchange on Dec. 24 and extended the deadline for bondholders to accept the offer to Jan. 16, though it did not give a full breakdown on coupons and other details…Ghana’s government, in a bid to mitigate an ongoing economic crisis, has negotiated a staff-level agreement for a $3 billion loan package from the International Monetary Fund, which will only be approved if it undergoes comprehensive debt restructuring. Reuters

South Africa to Take On Eskom Debt in Staggered Way
South Africa’s government will take on a portion of struggling state utility Eskom’s debt in a staggered manner to avoid a spike in the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said on Thursday. Eskom has been mired in financial crisis for years and is dependent on government bailouts. It is currently implementing some of the worst power cuts on record, a major source of public frustration with the governing African National Congress (ANC) and a brake on economic growth in Africa’s most industrialised nation. Reuters

Zimbabwe Threatens Health Workers with Jail If They Strike
Zimbabwe has brought in a law that bans health workers such as nurses and doctors from prolonged strikes, imposing punishments of up to six months in jail for defiant workers or union leaders, state-run media and a government spokesman said Wednesday. The provision, signed into law by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week but made public now, stipulates that health workers can only strike for up to three days because they are considered an essential service. Health professionals should continue providing emergency services during a strike, tweeted government spokesman, Nick Mangwana. AP