Africa Media Review for January 31, 2023

Pope Francis to Bring Message of Peace to DR Congo and South Sudan
Pope Francis will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday, followed by a trip to South Sudan. He will be delivering a message of “peace and reconciliation” to two sub-Saharan African nations plagued by conflict…There were also concerns about his planned visit to the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, home to scores of armed groups including M23, which recently came within several kilometres of the commercial hub of Goma…More than a million people are expected at an open-air mass at Kinshasa airport on Wednesday, and market stalls are already doing brisk business in papal souvenirs including T-shirts and wax prints decorated with Francis’ image. A Belgian colony until 1960, the DR Congo has a strong Catholic following of around 35 million people, but continues to be plagued by poverty despite its vast mineral wealth. RFI

Belarusian President Arrives in Zimbabwe
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko arrived in Zimbabwe on Monday for talks with his counterpart, Emmerson Mnangagwa, aimed at boosting “strong cooperation” in several areas between the two countries. Lukashenko landed in Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare, for a two-day visit and was greeted by Mnangagwa and thousands of ruling party supporters. The two countries are close allies of Russia. Belarus has backed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, while Zimbabwe has claimed neutrality and refused to condemn Moscow. Voice of America

Under Pressure Liberia President George Weah to Seek Second Term
Liberia’s President George Weah has told parliament he would run for re-election this year after a first term marred with corruption allegations and an economic downturn. Weah took office in 2018 in the West African country’s first peaceful change of power in seven decades and is constitutionally eligible to run again in the October 10 polls…Disillusionment has been compounded by economic decline in a country where most of the population lives in deep poverty. Liberia was also ravaged by an Ebola pandemic and the nation of five million people, one of the poorest in the world, has been hit hard by the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. About half its people live on less than $1.90 a day, according to World Bank figures. Weah said in October 2020 that he would seek to serve only two terms, expressing concern at the time about protests in neighbouring Ivory Coast and Guinea over their presidents’ bids for a third term. Al Jazeera

Frustration as Nigerians Scramble for Petrol, New Banknotes
Burdened by the electioneering peak ahead of national elections, Nigerians are in anguish and frustration caused by an acute shortage of petrol and new banknotes as well as erratic electricity supply. Long queues at filling stations have been the norm in the last two months but the scarcity of the new banknotes introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently has added to the woes Nigerians are facing. While politicians from 18 political parties are jostling and criss-crossing the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) canvassing for votes, Nigerians are awash with more serious problems that may distract them or sway the polls. East African

13 Killed in Suspected Jihadist Attack in Burkina Faso, Army Says
Suspected jihadists have killed 13 people, most of them from the military, in the latest such attack in Burkina Faso’s restive north, the army said Tuesday.  Ten military police officers, two members of an auxiliary force supporting the army, and a civilian died as a result of a “terrorist attack on Monday” in the locality of Falangoutou, the army said in a statement. Ten other military police officers were missing and another five were wounded in the attack, the army said. AFP

Tunisia: Calls Grow for President to Step Down After Latest Low Election Turnout
Calls are growing for Tunisian President Kais Saied to step down in the wake of another very low turnout in yesterday’s legislative election. The figure has been put at 11 per cent, according to some media reports. Just 8.8 per cent of eligible voters turned out in the first leg of the election in December. The participation rate in elections are the main measure of their success. Opposition to participation stems from the ongoing political and economic crisis afflicting Tunisia. The Independent High Elections Authority (ISIE) distanced itself from the low turnout. The authority did everything in its power, it insisted, to inform people of the election date and to present the candidates and their programmes. Middle East Monitor

Burhan Calls for Internal Solution for Political Crisis in Sudan
Abdel Fattah al-Burhan called on the Sudanese to resolve their problems by themselves and not to seek solutions from outside the country. Al-Burhad made his remarks during the launch of a Saudi project to build 500 underground water pumping stations in Sudan on Monday. “Everyone should not wait for solutions that come from outside the country and work to solve our problems by ourselves to build Sudan,” he said in presence of the Saudi ambassador to Khartoum…Sudanese political actors including the military leaders have launched a process aiming to restore a transitional civilian government facilitated by the Trilateral Mechanism. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan to Resume Talks with Holdout Opposition Groups
South Sudan’s government has announced resumptions of talks with the holdout opposition a month after it was suspended. This appeared in a statement signed by South Sudan’s Presidential Affairs minister and head of government delegation, Barnaba Marial Benjamin. The Juba government had suspended the talks, accusing the holdout opposition groups of lacking commitment to the negotiations. Talks between the government and the Non-Signatories South Sudanese Oppositions Group (NSSSOG) are mediated by the Rome-based Community of Sant’Egidio. Sudan Tribune

‘Suspicious Death’ of Rwandan Journalist Prompts Calls for Investigation
Calls are growing for an investigation into the apparent accidental death two weeks ago of a prominent Rwandan journalist and government critic. John Williams Ntwali, a regular critic of the authorities, was found dead on 18 January. According to reported police accounts, he was killed when a speeding vehicle rammed a motorcycle on which he was riding pillion in the capital, Kigali. A US senate committee said he had been “silenced”. Human rights organisations have joined other activists in raising doubts about the cause of the death of the 44 year-old editor of The Chronicles newspaper…The US, along with the UK, has previously called for Rwanda to improve its human rights record. Tuesday’s statement said Ntwali was one of only a few journalists in Rwanda covering high-profile, politicised trials of journalists, commentators and opposition members, and posting videos about their conditions in prison. Days before he died, Ntwali posted a YouTube video about the unexplained disappearance of a genocide survivor who had reportedly spoken out about police brutality. Guardian

Africans Are Less Safe Than They Were a Decade Ago
Africa is now less safe and less secure than it was 10 years ago, hampering continental progress toward effective governance, according to a new report by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. The 2022 Ibrahim Index of African Governance found that “almost 70% (69.3%) of Africa’s population lives in a country where the security and rule of law environment is worse in 2021 than in 2012, mostly driven by a worsening security situation.”…Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Eritrea, Somalia, and South Sudan are the least secure countries to live due to prolonged armed conflict, terrorism, and organized crime, according to the report. The most secure countries to live in are Seychelles, Mauritius, Botswana, Cape Verde, and Namibia. Seychelles has seen the highest improvement in its security over the study period. Quartz Africa

Debt-for-Nature Swaps: New Way to Slash Africa Debt Burden?
Debt-for-nature swaps are financial transactions in which a portion of a developing country’s foreign debt is forgiven in exchange for commitments to environmental investments. Cape Verde, which owes 140 million euros (US$152 million) to Portugal and over 400 million euros (US$433 million) to Portuguese banks, is suffering from rising sea levels and biodiversity loss due to increasing ocean acidity. However, courtesy of the new deal, the first 12 million euros (US$13 million) debt-repayment scheduled until  2025 will be put into the environment and climate fund. According to Antonio Costa, the Portuguese Prime Minister, the move seeks to solve the climate financing standoff between the wealthier nations and developing economies. Bird Story Agency

Africa Will Outperform the World in Economic Growth, AfDB Projects
Economist Jeffrey Sachs believes such trends show that “Africa can and will rise to a growth of 7% or more per year consistently in the coming decades.” “Africa will be the fast-growing part of the world economy. Africa is the place to invest,” he noted during the report’s launch. According to Akinwumi Adesina, African Development Bank Group president, the overall steady growth witnessed across the board is commendable because it is seen despite “the pass-through effects of global shocks hitting hard and differing by region and by country.” Like the rest of the world, Africa is significantly challenged by soaring food and energy prices, tighter global financial conditions, and increased domestic debt. Quartz Africa

How Germany’s Ban on Harmful Pesticides Could Impact Africa
Pesticide use in Africa is still very low compared to other world regions, but manufacturers see the continent as a growing market. “The industry is hoping for this market,” said Bollmohr. In the context of the current world food crisis, a narrative is now being spread that food production can be increased only with more pesticides, she added…Extreme drought has caused the number of people facing hunger in East Africa to rise exponentially. More than 21 million people don’t have enough food, and this situation is likely to continue because the soil is dry and hard after a prolonged drought, making sowing impossible. Uganda is considered the region’s vegetable garden. UN aid agencies such as the World Food Program buy food here to supply refugees in the camps in neighboring countries like Somalia, South Sudan, Congo and Ethiopia. Increasing food production in Uganda is, therefore, vital for the survival of the entire region. DW

Africa Boosts Homegrown E-Mobility in Bid to Curb Emissions
Different types of electric mobility are gaining popularity in many parts of Africa — though that doesn’t necessarily mean electric cars like those being rolled out in the Global North, where only the wealthy can afford them. Economic factors are making electric mobility more attractive in Africa, explained Marah Köberle, an expert on African mobility with the Siemens Foundation in Germany. “Higher fuel prices, as well as lower prices for batteries and solar PV panels support the shift towards e-mobility,” Köberle told DW. This is especially true for private passenger motorbikes, which are in heavy demand for short, quick journeys in many African cities. DW