Africa Media Review for January 26, 2023

France Recalls Ambassador to Burkina Faso, Pulls Out Troops
The French foreign ministry said Thursday it is recalling its ambassador to Burkina Faso for consultations, one day after Paris decided to withdraw troops from the West African country following a demand by its military rulers. A top official at the foreign ministry said the decision has been made “in the context of the latest developments in Burkina Faso” in order to conduct “consultations on the state and perspectives of our bilateral cooperation” with Ambassador Luc Hallade. The official requested anonymity in line with the French government’s customary practices…France’s foreign ministry said Wednesday that French troops deployed in Burkina Faso will have left the country within a month, in line with Burkina Faso’s notification of the termination of the 2018 agreement on the presence of French troops on its soil. AP

Angola Urges Restraint in Ukraine as Lavrov Visits
Angola has expressed concern over the use of heavy military equipment in the war in Ukraine as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits the oil-rich southern African country. In a statement on Wednesday, the Angola foreign affairs ministry said the use of “increasingly sophisticated equipment might lead to a greater involvement of the different parties to the conflict, and eventually lead to a third world war.” The statement also highlighted Angola’s historic “friendship ties” with Russia and its “good co-operation ties” with Ukraine. Angola initially abstained from condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but in October last year it voted in favour of a UN resolution condemning the annexation of Ukrainian territory by Russia. BBC

South Africans Protest Frequent Power Cuts
Hundreds of supporters of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance protested Wednesday over ongoing power cuts that are crippling the African continent’s most developed economy. South Africa has been mired in an energy crisis for more than a decade, but it has accelerated this year, with the country experiencing daily scheduled blackouts – sometimes for as long as 10 hours a day. Known here as “loadshedding,” the cuts are meant to reduce power on the strained grid. Eskom, the cash-strapped and debt-ridden state power utility, is beset by aging coal plants that are prone to breakdowns. Corruption and sabotage have also weakened the utility considerably…Hundreds of protesters massed outside the headquarters of the ruling African National Congress party, blaming the government for failing to get the energy crisis under control. Voice of America

Yellen Touts Deeper Ties with South Africa to Help Boost Trade
The US is seeking to deepen its economic integration with South Africa in pursuit of policies to diversify global supply chains, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said. Closer ties with nations that share the US’s economic values will help promote so-called friendshoring, in which allies cooperate on manufacturing and sourcing raw materials, Yellen said at a meeting with South African Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana on Thursday. Her remarks come in a week in which South Africa defended its neutral stance in Russia’s war with Ukraine — in the face of US calls for a harder line — and before the country conducts naval exercises with Russia and China’s military next month. Bloomberg

Ahead Visit to DR Congo, Pope Francis Denounces “Colonialist Mentality” of Africa
In an exclusive interview with the Associated Press at the Vatican, just a week ahead of his scheduled trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, Pope Francis denounced a “colonialist mentality” of the international community toward Africa. “There is a historical, geographical reality. In Italian it is said ‘Africa va fruttata’, that is, Africa is meant to be exploited. And that is a kind of colonialist mentality that remains,” said Francis on Tuesday. He pointed to a problem of attitude toward the African continent. “A kind of colonialist mentality…remains,” Francis said. “That is a problem of our attitude and of not yet (having the) courage of total independence on their part.” AfricaNews

French Uranium Mine Leaves 20 Million Tonnes of Radioactive Waste in Niger
Niger is the world’s fifth-largest uranium producer. In 2021, it provided the European Union with nearly 25 percent of its uranium supplies, which helped produce electricity for millions of households. The French nuclear company – formerly, Areva and now Orano –  started mining the country’s uranium reserves in the 1970s. Forty-seven years later, in March 2021, the Cominak mines near the northern town of Arlit closed down. The closure left the local population to live with 20 million tonnes of radioactive mud on the mine’s site, according to the French-based Independent Research and Information Commission on Radioactivity (CRIIRAD). RFI

Analysts Question Charges Against Nigeria’s Central Bank Chief
Nigeria’s secret police are investigating Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele for alleged financial crimes, financing terrorism, and graft. But the banker’s supporters say the allegations are politically motivated, with politicians opposed to his currency reforms behind the probe. Nigeria’s central bank late last year unveiled new currency to combat crime and rein in vote-buying, sparking debate just a few months ahead of February elections…Analysts say the new currency, which rendered stashes of the old currency useless, will also make it more difficult for candidates to buy votes during next month’s elections. Public finance analyst Isaac Botti says Emefiele is being treated unfairly. “The man is being witch-hunted, people are reacting particularly when this issue of currency redesign, cash withdrawal limit came up and a number of persons particularly those at the corridors of power are not favored, they feel that this guy should be taken off. If there are clear cases of financial crimes against him, then he should be relieved of his duty and properly prosecuted,” he said. Voice of America

Mauritania’s Ex-President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz Faces Corruption Charges in Landmark Trial
The trial of Mauritania’s former president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz opened on Wednesday with the dramatic image of the former head of state in a cage-like box answering accusations he amassed an illicit personal fortune during his 11 years in power. Aziz, a 66-year-old former general, appeared in court in the capital Nouakchott alongside nine other defendants, including former prime ministers, cabinet ministers and businessmen. They face charges that include abuse of office, influence peddling, money laundering and illicit enrichment…Prosecutions of former heads of state are rare in the world, but especially so in Africa. “It is a first in the history of Mauritania and perhaps even in the Arab world for a former president to explain his enrichment,” said Brahim Ebetty, one of several lawyers representing the state. AFP

FFC Accuses “Foreign Country” of Obstructing Restore Civilian Rule in Sudan
A spokesman for the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) accused an unnamed country of working to destabilize the ongoing efforts to restore civilian rule through the establishment of the Democratic Bloc coalition. The FFC Forces organized a panel discussion with a group of lawyers to explore their views on the political process and brief them on the latest developments. In a response to the interventions and questions, Gaffar Hassan, an FFC Spokesman, said that the Democratic Bloc group impersonates the name of Freedom and Change to give the illusion that the forces of the revolution are divided and weak. Sudan Tribune

Tanzania & Kenya: Presidents Samia and Ruto Bank on Youth for Agro-Enterprise
Presidents Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania and Kenya’s William Ruto are banking on their countries’ demographic dividend by facilitating more youth involvement in agriculture to boost production and serve export markets. President Samia told the Feed Africa Summit in Dakar on January 25 that her government has set aside 680,000 hectares to be allocated to women and youth for agricultural use, looking to feed the continent. “We introduced in our Agenda 2030 a policy which will see that by 2030 the agriculture sector in Tanzania contributes 10 percent to the GDP. Who will help us achieve that? The youth. So, we have initiated a programme called Build a Better Tomorrow for youth and women,” she said at the heads of state panel. “We are undertaking several measures to make them attracted to agriculture: First, the youth don’t own land so we are giving them 10 hectares each. We have identified about 680,000 hectares for the youth and women, which they will own,” she said. East African

Facebook Offers African Moderators a Pitiful Severance
About 200 African content moderators are being laid off by Sama, Meta’s Kenyan subcontractor. This comes after Facebook’s parent company Meta declined to renew Sama’s contract, which expires at the end of March. Moderators — who have been exposed to the very worst content on Facebook, including graphic violence, suicide and child pornography — will each receive 15 days of pay for each year they worked with Sama. They will be flown out of Nairobi to their home countries after 31 March. This package is far smaller than what Facebook offered the 11 000 direct employees it laid off last year.  US-based staff were offered 16 weeks of pay across the board, and an extra two weeks of pay for every year served. The moderators learnt of the terms of their termination in a meeting on Wednesday last week. Mail & Guardian

Report: Much of Africa Less Safe, Democratic than in 2012
A new report on African governance released Wednesday finds much of the continent is “less safe, secure and democratic” than it was 10 years ago, citing a surge in military coups and armed conflicts. The democratic backsliding now threatens to reverse decades of progress made in Africa, according to an index of governance compiled by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation that notes 23 successful and attempted coups since 2012…His foundation’s report cited eight successful coups just since 2019. Mali and neighboring Burkina Faso have seen two each during that time, further destabilizing a part of the world already under siege by Islamic militants…The report’s authors also found overall security problems pervasive: Over the past decade, nearly 70% of Africans saw security and rule of law decrease in their countries, they said. More than 30 countries declined in this category, according to the index. AP

Senegal: Ousmane Sembène 100 Years Later
January marks the centenary of the birth of Ousmane Sembène, the Senegalese activist, filmmaker and writer called the “father of African film” by many in the film industry. Through multiple novels and internationally acclaimed films, Sembène’s cinema depicts the cultural spirit of art from Africa and its diaspora in the 1960s. He was the first to shoot a film in a French colony, because it was previously illegal for black people to produce films…Through literature, Sembène discovered the stark absence of African stories told by Africans. His most celebrated fictional book is God’s Bit of Wood. Published in 1960, the novel recounts the railway strikes in French colonial West Africa in 1947.  In 1994 he said of his films: “To summarise history using our oral tradition, cinema is an important tool for us. Of all the arts, it’s the form of expression that’s most accessible and appealing to a large audience. Unfortunately, it requires a costly investment.” Mail & Guardian