Africa Media Review for January 24, 2024

Blinken Pledges $45 Mln to Boost Coastal West Africa Security
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday pledged $45 million in additional financing to help fight conflict and bring stability to coastal West Africa, where insecurity linked to jihadist insurgencies has increased in recent years. Blinken is on the second stop of a four-nation tour of Africa taking him to Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Angola from Jan. 21-26. The purpose of the trip is to discuss U.S.-African partnerships over trade, climate, infrastructure, health, security and other issues. It follows a summit in Washington with African leaders in December 2022…The funding will supplement $300 million the U.S. has already invested in coastal West Africa over the past two years. Reuters

Blinken Pitches the US as an Alternative to Russia’s Wagner in Africa’s Troubled Sahel
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday pitched the United States as a better security partner for Africa in place of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, which he accused of exploiting coup-hit and conflict-hit nations in the continent’s Sahel region…[A]s Niger faced sanctions from neighbors, the West and Europe, its new junta severed military ties with European nations and turned to Russia for security partnership. Neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali, which have also had two coups each since 2020, have also taken similar steps. Wagner, which is active in parts of Africa including Mali, was also one of the first sources of help that Niger’s military leaders reached out to for support after the coup. In those African countries where Wagner is offering security support, “what we’ve seen is actually a problem (of insecurity) getting manifestly worse and worse,” Blinken said. AP

Putin, Sisi Mark New Phase of Egypt’s Russian-Built Nuclear Plant
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Tuesday inaugurated the construction of a new unit at Egypt’s Dabaa nuclear power plant via video link, as Moscow moves ahead with its global nuclear ambitions. The power plant is being built by the Russian state corporation Rosatom at a reported cost of $30 billion, and will consist of four power units with a combined capacity of 4.8 gigawatts…Egypt, which faces increasing power demand from a population of a 105 million, is seeking to position itself as a regional energy hub that exports electricity to neighbouring countries, and to diversify its energy sources. Reuters

Uganda in Talks with UAE Investment Firm over Planned Oil Refinery
Uganda is negotiating with an investment company led by a member of Dubai’s royal family to develop a planned $4 billion refinery for some of its crude oil, its energy minister said on Tuesday. Uganda in July last year terminated negotiations with a consortium that included a unit of U.S. firm Baker Hughes, over its failure to mobilise financing in time…Uganda expects to start pumping crude commercially in 2025 from fields in the Albertine rift basin in the country’s west near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. The fields are jointly operated by the Ugandan government via the state-run Uganda National Oil Company, China’s CNOOC and France’s TotalEnergies. Reuters

Against a Backdrop of Rebel Attacks and Border Closures, Rwanda and Burundi Trade Accusations
Relations between Rwanda and Burundi have deteriorated in recent weeks after Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye renewed accusations that Rwanda is funding and training the rebels of the RED-Tabara group. Burundian authorities consider RED-Tabara a terrorist movement…The group first appeared in 2011 and has been accused of a string of attacks in Burundi since 2015…Earlier this month Burundi closed all border crossings with Rwanda and started deporting Rwandan citizens, asserting that it was responding to Rwanda’s alleged support for RED-Tabara. Those rebels attacked the Burundian village of Gatumba near the Congo border last month, killing at least 20 people. RED-Tabara, which is based in the South Kivu province of eastern Congo, took responsibility for the attack in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. AP

UN Expert Says Human Rights Violations Rage On in Sudan
UN News: The brutal armed conflict in Sudan has entered its tenth month, and you issued a statement on this occasion, deploring the grim human rights situation in the country and urging the leaders of both sides of the conflict to put an immediate end to the violence. Could you elaborate on this? Radhouane Nouicer: We are witnessing all sorts of violations of basic rights in Sudan: extrajudicial killing, indiscriminate shelling of private and public areas, unlawful detention, including over human rights activists and NGO representatives, torture, beatings, looting of private and public properties, mass graves. Most alarming, we have seen and documented a number of gender-based violence cases, including sexual violence against women and girls. UN News

Ethiopia: IDPs in Tigray Rally for Repatriation, Urging Proper Implementation of the Pretoria Agreement
[D]isplaced individuals who are residing in different internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps within the Tigray region orchestrated a substantial demonstration, articulating their dissatisfaction with the prevailing circumstances related to the execution of the Pretoria Peace Agreement. The IDPs located in prominent urban centers of Tigray, namely Shire, Adigrat, and Aksum, urgently appealed for decisive measures to expedite their repatriation to their hometowns, presently under the control of Eritrean forces and Amhara militias…Despite the passage of over a year since the signing of the Pretoria Peace Agreement in November 2022, the process of reintegrating IDPs into their homes remains a multifaceted challenge. Addis Standard

Human Rights Watch Warns of Senegal Repression Ahead of Elections
Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Monday denounced Senegalese authorities for repressing opposition leaders, media and civil society, in a report published only five weeks before the West African nation holds its presidential election. HRW highlighted numerous concerns in its report, mostly concerning the lack of press freedom, repression against the opposition and arbitrary detention, including on politically motivated grounds…According to civil society groups and opposition parties, up to 1,000 opposition members and activists have been arrested across the country since March 2021…HRW also accused the security forces of resorting to “excessive force”, including use of live ammunition and improper use of tear gas to disperse thousands of protesters across the country in March 2021 and June 2023. RFI

Kenya Questions Jurisdiction of East African Court
Kenya’s Attorney General Justin Muturi on Tuesday pleaded with the Supreme Court to hear his application seeking the top court’s opinion on the legal consequences and effects of decisions of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) on the country’s sovereignty. Mr Muturi said whereas there is no express provision in the East African Community (EAC) Treaty conferring upon the EACJ the jurisdiction to interpret the constitutions of partner states, the regional court has in several decisions, interpreted its jurisdiction to include the review of decisions issued by apex courts of member countries. According to Mr Muturi, the decisions of the EACJ end up conflicting with judgments issued by the Supreme Court. The East African

Civil War Turned Somalia’s Main Soccer Stadium into an Army Camp. Now It’s Hosting Games Again
A stadium in Somalia’s violence-prone capital is hosting its first soccer tournament in three decades, drawing thousands of people to a sports facility that had been abandoned for decades and later became a military base amid the country’s civil war. Somali authorities have spent years working to restore the national stadium in Mogadishu, and on Dec. 29 Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre inaugurated a national soccer tournament…The stadium was badly damaged during the civil war, and combatants later turned into a military base. The stadium was a base for Ethiopian troops between 2007 and 2009, and was then occupied by al-Shabab militants from 2009 to 2011. Most recently, between 2012 and 2018, the stadium was a base for African Union peacekeepers. AP

Sierra Leone’s Capital under Threat from Deforestation, UN Report Says
A national park that provides clean water to Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown is critically under threat due to human activities such as land grabbing, charcoal burning, quarrying and marijuana cultivation, a U.N. report said on Tuesday…The report warned that deforestation could contribute towards “slope destabilization, water shortages, landslides and floods” and called for the close monitoring of forest coverage to protect the city’s main water sources. The city of Freetown is built on a forested peninsula, which is mostly made up of national park land. Its water comes from reservoirs in the mountains, but deforestation is causing rain to drain off the hillsides rather than seeping through roots into the soil and streams. Reuters

Money Clubs Help Displaced Nigerians Create Their Own Safety Nets
Adashe is the Hausa word for a traditional form of association whereby people contribute a certain amount of money that is then pooled and shared among the group’s members…The pooled earnings can be a lifeline during emergencies, as well as a way to grow savings…The Adashe system provides a safety net for displaced families living in the [Wassa displacement camp in Abuja], allowing the women to save money in a collective fund, which can be used for school fees, medical care, farming supplies, and other family needs. But in addition to providing financial assistance, Adashe clubs also offer a sense of emotional and mental support…In the face of the many challenges that camp life throws up for conflict survivors, this can be invaluable. The New Humanitarian