Africa Media Review for January 17, 2023

Armed Men Kidnap 50 Women and Girls Foraging for Food in Burkina Faso
A group of women and girls foraging for wild fruits were abducted by armed men in separate incidents in Burkina Faso, the government said Monday. Around 50 women and girls were taken in the incidents which happened on January 12 and 13 respectively, according to a statement by the governor of the country’s Sahel region. Some of the women and girls were kidnapped around 15 kilometers from the town of Arbinda, while the others were taken from another locality in the Soum province…The Sahel region governor expressed his solidarity with the women’s families on behalf of the government, adding authorities “remain committed to doing everything possible to bring the situation to a successful conclusion.” CNN

Ghana Extends Domestic Debt Exchange Deadline for Third Time
Ghana has again extended the deadline to register for its domestic debt exchange, this time to Jan. 31, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said on Monday. The crisis-hit nation launched the debt swap plan at the start of December, days before clinching a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $3 billion rescue package. “Building consensus is key to a successful economic recovery for Ghana,” Ofori-Atta wrote on Twitter, adding that registration for the debt exchange would be extended “pending further stakeholder engagement.” Reuters

Nigeria: Chatham House: I’ll Address Sources of Agitations — Peter Obi
The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, has said he will address all the issues of agitations if elected President of Nigeria. Obi said this to stakeholders at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, (the Chatham House), during his address, on Monday. The former Anambra state governor was asked how he will address the issue of agitation by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) during the question and answer session…He said 63% of Nigerians are in massive poverty, which is fuelling the agitations in Nigeria. Further speaking on the welfare plans he has for Nigerians, Obi vowed that the plans and solution of his party will drive a quality life for the average Nigerians. He noted that demography was driving the change that is currently being witnessed in Africa with elections after elections see established parties upturned by new and small parties. “It’s this change that my vision of policy change and institutional development is rooted in. Vanguard

Murder, Kidnapping and Arson: Nigerian Pirates Switch Targets from Ships to Shore
Attacks on foreign and domestic commercial fishing vessels in Nigerian waters have decreased in recent years after the government increased security around the coast. The International Maritime Bureau says the number of actual and attempted piracy attacks on ships fell from 48 in 2018 to six in 2021. However, artisanal fishing communities say they are now being targeted. There is no central data on the number of attacks on fishers, but the majority of cases have occurred in Akwa Ibom state…Fishers are not the only ones affected, Uyot says. Travellers who commute along the water to other coastal communities and to neighbouring Cameroon for business also risk encountering pirates, who are believed to be local armed men. People who used boats to travel from Akwa Ibom to Cross River state, rather than take a longer journey along dilapidated roads, are now boycotting the waterways due to fear of attack. Guardian

Somalia: Al-Shabaab Attacks Key Towns in Somalia, Killing at Least 15 People
At least 15 people were killed and more than 50 injured in three bombings Saturday in the central Hirshabelle state of Somalia, according to officials. In Bulobarde town, some 220 kilometers north of Mogadishu, a suicide car bomb has killed at least 11 people, witnesses and medical officials said. A suicide bomber driving an SUV vehicle laden with explosives came under fire from security forces before reaching his goal, but detonated explosives near a police station and the base of the African Union peacekeepers from Djibouti, multiple witnesses told Voice of America. “At least 11 people were killed in the blast and more than 50 injured — 30 of them in critical condition,” Yusuf Isaq Mumin, a medical official in the town, told VOA. “We are now sending those critically injured to Mogadishu since the local hospital has not the capacity to handle their cases here.” Voice of America

Somalia Claims Capture of Key Port Town from Al-Shabab
Somalia’s government-led forces have captured an al-Shabab stronghold on the Indian Ocean, the defence minister said on Monday, in one of their most significant victories since launching an offensive against the group last year. The forces took the port town of Harardhere and the nearby town of Galcad, Defence Minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur said in a broadcast on state-owned television.Harardhere was a major base for pirates hijacking merchant ships until 2011. It was later taken over by al-Shabab, which first rose up against the government in 2007 before pledging its allegiance to al-Qaeda. Al Jazeera

11 Soldiers Killed in Attack on Somali Army Camp Claimed by Shabaab
Eleven soldiers including a senior commander were killed in an attack on an army camp north of Mogadishu on Tuesday, claimed by Al-Shabaab, a militia commander in the area told AFP…He said the Islamists detonated a car packed with explosives outside the camp 60 kilometres north of Mogadishu before armed men stormed the compound. Ahmed Mohamud, a military commander with the Somali National Army (SNA) in the nearby town of Balcad, said more than 10 people had died in the attack but added the toll was provisional. “The terrorists have been repelled and the Somali army are in full control of the area,” he said. AFP

Egypt Relinquishes Plans to Hold Meeting on Sudan’s Crisis
Egypt has relinquished plans to hold a meeting in Cairo between the signatories of the framework agreement and the non-signatories, Sudan Tribune learnt on Saturday. The head of the Egyptian intelligence service Abbas Kamel was in Khartoum on January 2, where he discussed their plan to bring the Sudanese political forces together to agree on a roadmap to end the political crisis caused by the coup of October 2021. But the signatories were not enthusiastic saying it was too late as they have already launched the final phase and called on Cairo to press two holdout groups to join them. Sudan Tribune

‘It’s Becoming a War Zone’: Tanzania’s Maasai Speak Out on ‘Forced’ Removals
For decades, Maasai communities adjacent to the park in northern Tanzania have faced eviction attempts to make way for a game reserve and, the government says, help protect the environment. In 2017, in Loliondo, about 100 miles (160km) north of Ngorongoro conservation area, government security forces burned 185 Maasai houses along the park border in what rights groups called a forced act of eviction. The government said the houses were built inside the park, a claim upheld by the east African court of justice. Similar eviction attempts were made in 2003 and 2007, according to Joseph Oleshangay, a lawyer with the Legal and Human Rights Centre, Tanzania’s human rights advocacy organisation. Last year, Maasai communities in Loliondo protested when police began demarcating 580 square miles (1,500 sq km) of their land for a game reserve. According to witnesses, police opened fire, stole cattle, and destroyed property. One police officer died, more than 30 Maasai were injured, and thousands fled into Kenya. Guardian

South African Leader Skips Davos amid Electricity Crisis
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has canceled his trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos in order to deal with his country’s worsening power blackouts. Ramaphosa’s office made the announcement in a statement late Sunday. He had been scheduled to lead a delegation from South Africa to the Swiss resort town to promote the country as an investment destination. But public outrage over the electricity crisis has forced him to hold urgent meetings at home. The state-owned power utility Eskom is currently implementing a high level of power blackouts, with households and businesses going without electricity for up to 10 hours daily until further notice. AP

South Africa Faces Legal Action over Power Crisis
South African opposition groups, a trade union and business owners have threatened to sue the government over the crippling blackouts in the country. They have given the government up to Friday to stabilise electricity supply or face legal action for contravening its duty to provide electricity. They have written a demand letter to the Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and the chief executive of the state utility firm Eskom, Andre de Ruyter, saying the state was in breach of its obligation to provide electricity. The blackouts have persisted for more than a decade, amid poor management and corruption at state firm Eskom. BBC

Zimbabwe Police Arrest 25 Opposition Members Ahead of Presidential Election
Zimbabwean police on Saturday fired teargas at an opposition party gathering in Harare and arrested 25 of its members, including two members of parliament, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) said. The arrests come after a wave of politically motivated violence against opposition supporters in rural Zimbabwe, raising fears of repression ahead of the presidential election this year. The date has not yet been announced…According to CCC, the private internal strategy meeting was held this morning at the private residence of one of the members in Budiriro township, about 15 kilometres from central Harare. “It wasn’t open to the public at all. The Maintenance of Peace and Order Act only applies to public meetings in a public place,” CCC spokeswoman Fadzayi Mahere told Reuters. Police allegedly fired teargas at the gathering, and beat up several opposition members before they were bundled into a police truck, she added. Reuters

African Activists Cast Doubt over Climate Talks’ Credibility
Climate activists in Africa are expressing anger toward the United Nations climate agency, accusing it of allowing corporations and individuals with dubious climate credentials to greenwash their polluting activities by participating in its annual climate conference. The criticism follows Thursday’s announcement that oil executive Sultan al-Jaber will lead the next round of U.N. climate talks, which will be held in the United Arab Emirates beginning in late November. The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance termed the move as the “lowest moment” for the U.N. agency. The U.N.’s climate body hasn’t commented on the appointment. AP

China Calls for More African Representation in International Bodies
Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang has said Africa should have a greater voice in the UN Security Council and other international bodies, something the continent’s leaders have long called for. The diplomat is on a week-long tour of five African countries to oversee numerous infrastructure projects. “We should boost the representation and voice of developing countries, especially those of African countries, in the UN Security Council and other international organizations,” Qin said at the inauguration of the Chinese-funded headquarters for the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Wednesday. RFI



Photo: Adam Jones