Africa Media Review for January 13, 2022

Cameroonian Senator and Soldier Killed in Restive Anglophone Regions
A prominent opposition figure and a soldier have been killed in separate attacks in Cameroon’s restive anglophone regions, intensifying security concerns as the country hosts the Africa Cup of Nations football tournament. Henry Kemende, a senator for the Social Democratic Front party, was shot dead in Bamenda city in the north-west region. His party, who blamed separatist fighters for the attack, said gunmen forced him from his car and shot him in the chest. In Buea in the neighbouring south-west region, separatist rebels killed a soldier with an improvised explosive device during an attack in which rebels exchanged gunfire with the army, Cho Ayaba, the head of the rebel Ambazonia Defence Forces, told Reuters. Four teams competing in the Cup of Nations – Mali, the Gambia, Tunisia and Mauritania – are based in Buea, where many clashes between the army and the rebels have occurred. … The regions have been beset by violence since 2017, after protesters took to the streets in 2016 accusing the francophone-dominated authorities of marginalisation and of attempting to assimilate their education and legal systems into the dominant francophone system. The protests were brutally suppressed, fuelling violence from armed separatist groups. Both the separatists and government forces have been accused of atrocities in the fighting, which has killed more than 3,000 people and forced more than 700,000 to flee their homes. The Guardian

Nigeria Lifts Its Ban on Twitter after 7 Months
The Nigerian government has lifted its ban on Twitter, seven months after the West African country’s more than 200 million people were shut out of the social media network. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari directed that Twitter’s operations can resume on Thursday, according to the director-general of the country’s National Information Technology Development Agency. Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi said that was only after Twitter agreed to meet some conditions, including opening an office in Nigeria. Nigeria suspended Twitter’s operation on June 4, citing “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.” The action triggered criticisms as it came shortly after the social media network deleted a post by Buhari in which he threatened to treat separatists “in the language they will understand.” … “whether the government likes it or not, one thing they have actually done is that they have gagged Nigerians,” said Idayat Hassan, who leads the West Africa-focused Centre for Democracy and Development. “They have violated the right to receive and impact information,” Hassan said, adding that the Nigerian government should instead prioritize “openness and effective information flow.” AP

Sub-Saharan Africa Lost [$1.93 Billion] Due to Govt Internet Shutdowns, Report Says
Countries in Sub-Sahara Africa lost a combined R30.88 billion ($1.93 billion) from their economies because of widespread internet shutdowns by regimes, as demonstrations and crackdowns on opposition and civic society ensued last year. This is contained in the Global Cost of Internet Shutdowns 2021 report, released on Monday. According to the report, “75% of government (global) internet outages were associated with additional human rights abuses, an increase of almost 80% compared with 2020.” The report also says that 69% of all internet disruptions were associated with restrictions on freedom of assembly, 29% with election interference, and 29% with infringements on freedom of the press. The biggest violator of people’s access to the internet in Africa last year was flagged as Nigeria, at a cost of R23.2 billion ($1.45 billion). … In Nigeria’s case, 144 million internet users were affected for 5 040 hours (210 days) in a population of more than 206 million people. News24

Car Bomb Kills 8 in Somalia’s Capital
A large explosion killed at least eight people and injured nine others in Mogadishu on Wednesday, according to the head of an ambulance service, the latest attack to hit Somalia’s capital as the country grapples with political infighting and a growing humanitarian crisis. The car explosion occurred just before noon on a road leading to Mogadishu’s international airport, according to Abdulkadir Adan, the founder of the ambulance service, Aamin Ambulance, Mogadishu’s only free ambulance service. The road also services a major police academy and a compound where United Nations and foreign government staff members and officials live. The bombing, part of a string of attacks blamed on the Qaeda-linked Al Shabab extremist group that have gripped Somalia in recent months, comes as the country’s leaders struggle to resolve a political crisis that has distracted the government from the deteriorating security situation. … The political struggle has threatened to tip the country into violent conflict, like the clashes that broke out in April, and reverse the modicum of peace and stability Somalia has achieved in recent years. The New York Times

SADC Extends Timeframe of Military Mission in Mozambique
Southern African leaders have renewed the mandate of their military force fighting an Islamic State-affiliated insurgency in northern Mozambique. This will keep the mission going beyond 15 January when its mandate was due to expire. The leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), meeting for a summit in Lilongwe, Malawi on Wednesday, did not say in their communique for how long they had extended the mandate of the SADC Mission in Mozambique (Samim), which has been in Mozambique since July 2021. But officials told Daily Maverick that the leaders had extended the mission for three months in its present form, which mainly comprises a few hundred special forces attacking the bases of Al-Sunnah-Wa-Jama’ah, also known as Islamic State, Central Africa Province because of its affiliation to the global Islamic State terror group. The officials said that after three months, Samim’s mandate would automatically be extended for another three months, but at a different level. Infantry and other support elements would be brought in to back up the special forces, holding ground captured from the insurgents and setting up civic structures to help the displaced and terrorised local population, mainly in the northernmost province of Cabo Delgado. Daily Maverick

France Presses EU to Agree to Sanctions against Mali, in Line with ECOWAS
Le Drian, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said that the EU measures would be in line with the unprecedented sanctions agreed with West African economic bloc ECOWAS which Paris has strongly supported. “We are going to propose to apply these sanctions at a European level, both those against Malian leaders but also the economic and financial measures,” Le Drian said. … “The junta is trying to fool all of its partners,” said Le Drian, noting how Bamako had called for help from Russian Wagner mercenaries as well as the “unacceptable” slipping of the election schedule. “It is now up to the junta to take responsibility.” … Mali’s relations with its neighbours and partners have steadily deteriorated since a coup led by Colonel Assimi Goita in August 2020 against the country’s elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Under threat of sanctions, Goita had promised to hold presidential and legislative elections and to restore civilian rule by February 2022. But he staged a de-facto second coup in May 2021, forcing out an interim civilian government and disrupting the timetable to restore democracy, while declaring himself interim president. AFP

Sudan Recalls Its Dismissed Pro-Democracy Ambassadors
Sudan has recalled pro-democracy ambassadors who voiced their opposition to the coup asking them to return to Khartoum after al-Burhan’s decision to [dismiss them]. On 27 October, the coup leaders and head of the Sudanese army General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan dismissed six ambassadors followed by six others as they had issued a joint statement denouncing the military takeover and the dissolution of the civilian-led transitional authority. … On Wednesday, diplomatic sources in Khartoum told the Sudan Tribune that the foreign ministry instructed the dismissed diplomats to return the country pointing to al-Burhan’s decision of October 27, 2021. The decision includes Sudan’s ambassadors to Belgium and the European Union, Canada, China, France, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Switzerland and the United Nations in Geneva, Turkey, the United Nations – New York, and the United States. Sudan Tribune

Africa CDC in Talks with Pfizer for COVID Treatment Pill
The director of Africa’s Centers for Disease Control said the organization is talking to Pfizer about bringing its COVID-19 treatment pill to the continent, which has just passed 10 million cases. The discussions come as Dr. John Nkengasong urges government and citizens not to relent on vaccinations and preventive measures as various countries come down from waves of increased infections from the omicron variant. “We are working hand in hand. … We are in close discussions with Pfizer to see what can be done to make the drugs available on the continent,” Nkengasong said Thursday in a press briefing. He said he hopes the treatment would help stressed health systems on the continent and would be part of an approach in 2022 that includes scaling up vaccines and expanding testing to help deal with the pandemic. At least 39 countries have reported the new variant and the average increase of cases in Africa is about 11 percent, he said. He noted that vaccination rates are still not high enough, saying governments are struggling because there are such high numbers of people only getting vaccinated when there is a peak, which leads to a lot of hospitalizations and pressure on the systems that can be avoided. AP

Tented Love: How Senegal Created a Spectacular New African Architecture
After independence in 1960, the country cast off western influences and forged a new African style full of triangular forms, rocket-shaped obelisks and rammed earth. Is this spirit now being suffocated? Our writer takes a tour of the capital. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones