Africa Media Review for July 11, 2022

José Eduardo dos Santos of Angola dies at 79
During his nearly four decades in power, from 1979 to 2017, Mr. dos Santos led his resource-rich nation through seemingly endless conflict and an uneasy peace marked by corruption that funneled immense wealth to his family and a favored few while leaving most Angolans in dismal poverty. More than half a million people were killed in a civil war that displaced more than 3 million and left much of the country in ruins or pocked with land mines, even as Angola became Africa’s second-largest oil producer and third-largest producer of diamonds. A fiercely private, even reclusive figure, Mr. dos Santos largely eschewed any cult of personality. Even his image on the country’s currency was partly concealed by another portrait. He gave few speeches or interviews, revealing little of his personal life. He offered a tight-lipped smile in official photos, none of which showed his office or homes. Mr. dos Santos was eventually forced into exile — to a $7.2 million mansion in Barcelona — after his successor, President João Lourenço, unexpectedly launched an anti-corruption crackdown that closed in on the long-untouchable dos Santos family and its associates. The chief target of the probe was Isabel dos Santos, the former president’s eldest daughter and reputedly Africa’s richest woman. She was charged in 2020 with money laundering, forgery and other financial crimes stemming from her tenure as head of Angola’s national oil company, Sonangol. Washington Post

Europe’s Rush to Buy Africa’s Natural Gas Draws Cries of Hypocrisy
Near the tip of Nigeria’s Bonny Island, an arrowhead speck of land where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Niger Delta, a giant plant last year produced enough liquefied natural gas to heat half the UK for the winter. Most of it was shipped out of the country, with Spain, France and Portugal the biggest buyers. Just 17 miles away in the town of Bodo, residents still use black-market kerosene and diesel to light wood stoves and power electricity generators. The fuel is manufactured with crude stolen from the foreign energy giants — Shell, Eni and TotalEnergies — that co-own the Bonny Island facility along with the Nigerian government. “The gas here goes to Bonny and Europe to power homes and industries but we have no benefits from it,” said Pius Dimkpa, chairman of Bodo’s local community development committee. “Nothing comes to us.” Nigeria has 3% of the world’s proven gas reserves, yet has tapped almost none of it. Like most African countries, what has been extracted is mostly sent to Europe, which now wants to import even more to make up for supplies lost to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Italy in April struck fresh deals to buy gas from Angola and the Republic of Congo, while Germany has been looking to secure supplies from Senegal. That’s despite discouraging the use of gas and other fossil fuels around the world in pursuit of global climate goals, a case some European leaders made at the United Nations’ COP26 conference in Glasgow last November. Bloomberg

Ivory Coast: In Metropolis of 5 Million, Rainforest Is a Lifeline and a Junkyard
The clangs of the men’s chisels and hammers were deafening as they dismantled a rusty truck, the din only fading as it reached the dense forest encircling them. The mechanics were working in the biggest junkyard in Ivory Coast, where the skeletons of thousands of disused vans, buses and taxis spread out endlessly and engine oil soaked into the muddy soil. But they were also working inside the confines of Banco National Park, one of the world’s last primary rainforests to survive within a major metropolis. The park is an endangered gem of lush greenery in the busy economic hub of Abidjan, an oasis that the Ivorian authorities are trying to revitalize, despite all of the environmental threats it faces. After losing around 85 percent of its forest cover over the past 60 years, Ivory Coast has vowed to protect what remains, and to reforest as much as it can. New York Times

At 20, African Union Has Achieved Much but the Work Goes on
The African Union marks its 20th anniversary on Saturday. In the two decades since it was officially founded, the organization has accomplished much, especially when it comes to amplifying Africa’s voice on the global stage and breaking down the continent’s trade barriers. But, critics say, the African Union needs to better deal with the conflicts and undemocratic changes of government that are threatening the continent’s prosperity, as well as to find a unified voice to tackle climate change. When the African Union was launched in 2002 as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), its founders pledged a shift to a more realistic and pragmatic stance on political cooperation. “Time has come that Africa must take her rightful place in global affairs,” the first AU chairperson, Thabo Mbeki, declared at his inauguration speech in Durban, South Africa. Analysts agree that this has often been achieved — with the bloc’s 55 member states managing to engage collectively on many global issues, giving Africa a greater say in the international arena. “The AU has helped African countries become more active and assertive in the decision-making process around the world,” Thomas Kwasi Tieku, an international relations expert at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, told DW. Ghana’s Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg, Harriet Sena Siaw-Boateng, has a similar opinion. “African countries are following Europe’s lead at becoming more successful at drafting, negotiating and presenting common positions to advance and defend our own interests,” Siaw-Boateng said at a public webinar about the AU hosted by the Institute for Security Studies, a South Africa-based think tank. DW

Sudan Army Officers Accused of July 2019 Coup Attempt Released on Appeal
A specialised court in Khartoum on Thursday ordered the release on appeal of army officers accused of the second coup attempt after the April 2019 revolution that overthrew the 30-year Al Bashir dictatorship. The second coup attempt in late July 2019, which followed a previous attempt earlier that month, was led by former Chief of Staff, Lt Gen Hashim Abdelmutalab, and other senior staff officers. In a hearing of an appeal lodged by the defence team of the accused on Tuesday, the special court ruled that the time the accused have already served in prison, as well as expulsion from the Sudanese Armed Forces, is a sufficient tariff so that they need no longer be incarcerated. Following the coup attempt in July 2019, Sudanese authorities arrested the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Lt Gen Hashim Abdelmutalab, the commander of the armoured corps, Maj Gen Nasreldin Abdelfattah, and the commander of the Central District, Maj Gen Bahar Ahmed. The arrests also included leading figures of the Islamist Movement, Ali Karti and Zubeir Ahmed El Hasan. Dabanga

Sudanese Continue to Protest Against the Military’s ‘Tactical Game’
If Sudan’s military ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan had hoped for warm words of approval from protesters in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, he was most certainly deeply disappointed. On Monday, the 61-year-old Burhan surprised his compatriots by announcing the dissolution of the transitional military government and offering support for civilian and democratic rule instead. Along with that, he outlined his plans to create a new Supreme Military Council. In turn, the majority of civilian activists, among them the biggest faction, the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), immediately rejected the proposal and called for “continued mobilization” with daily protests and sit-ins in Khartoum. “I think it’s a big lie,” Sudanese activist Rania Abdelaziz, told DW. “They are still killing us in the streets, they are still trying to stop the protests and they are still trying to erase the revolutionary spirit,” she added. Since Burhan came to power in a military-led coup in October 2021, thousands of civilians have been taking to the streets, calling for the military to “return to the barracks,” and the formation of a democratic government. Since then, 114 protesters have been killed and more than 5,000 protesters injured, according to the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors. The last — unarmed — protesters were shot this week. DW

Agree on Election Roadmap, UN Official Tells S. Sudan Leaders
The head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Nicholas Haysom has urged South Sudanese leaders to agree on a roadmap required to pave way towards free, fair and credible elections. “Now is the time for national leaders to redouble their efforts to agree on a roadmap – with clear benchmarks, timelines, and priorities to pave the way toward free, fair and credible elections,” he said in a statement on Friday. The statement on the eve of South Sudan’s independence on July 9, 2022. Haysom, also the Secretary-General’s special representative for South Sudan said the road to stability has been tough and the upcoming months will be critical as the transitional period approaches its end in February 2023. The top UN official, however, reiterated the world body’s commitment to peace in Africa’s newest nation and vowed to continue promoting a safe and secure environment for civilians, facilitate delivery of humanitarian aid. He said the UN would support the return of displaced families and refugees. “Together, let us make peace gains irreversible and build the prosperous future to which all South Sudanese women, men and children aspire,” stressed Haysom. The call comes days after South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir said the world’s newest nation is ready to hold a peaceful, transparent and fair election. The South Sudanese leader made the remarks while meeting the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin in the capital, Juba on Tuesday. Sudan Tribune

It’s a Long, Weary Ride for Refugees Who Make It to Kenya
Emmanuel, originally from South Sudan, fled in December 2015 due to the ongoing conflict there. He says he felt unsafe. “I left because it was a matter of choosing between death and life,” he tells RFI’s Africa Calling podcast. “There was a crisis in my country, and my village where I came from was not traditionally ours. It belongs to another community. When violence broke out, it was unbearable for me; I lost relatives.” Emmanuel is part of an influx of refugees that has doubled around the world over the past 20 years. According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, more than 82 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes. He is here for a meeting in Nairobi with other refugees from various African countries – partly to support each other, but also to get help for the difficult process of applying for asylum or residency. Emmanuel found shelter with the UNHCR, which provided guidance on how to register as a refugee. He now lives and works in Nairobi. While there are just over 1,000 south Sudanese residing in Kenya, more than 50 percent of all refugees in Kenya originate from Somalia. Other major nationalities are South Sudanese, Congolese and Ethiopians. RFI

Gambian Musician Sana Singhateh Launches ‘One Million Trees’ Planting Initiative
Through his ST foundation, he has committed to planting one million trees across the Gambia within the next five years. ST said he is motivated to continue advocacy through music and other initiatives because the world can only be better if everyone fights for the benefit all.  “When you have a platform that others are not [lucky enough] to have because of your career or influence, I believe you should use it positively to impact every life,” he said. “I was thrilled when we had the first tree planting. The number of people that showed up demonstrates that whether I hold a music show or other activity, my fans will always support me. That is why I’m putting more energy into climate change advocacy because it is affecting all of us.”… Advocacy groups in the Gambia are joining forces to call for action against climate injustice. They recently came together to form the Gambia environmental alliance, a union of civil societies and community-based organisations to restore and protect the environment. Maimuna Jabbi of Green-up Gambia said they have succeeded in pushing the government and other stakeholders to put together actions despite the challenges. “What we are seeing around the world is climate injustice. Those that are doing most damage to the environment are seeing less impact. Africa, we produces least than 10 percent of global climate emissions and yet we are the most impacted,” she said. Climate Change expert Assan Dukureh said that although the Gambia is on track in mitigate climate change by meeting the Paris Climate accords, more efforts and actions are needed. RFI

From Fighting to Farming: Supporting Peacebuilding in Mozambique
Benjamin* wants peace. A former RENAMO (Mozambican National Resistance) combatant, he dreams of working his field, in Cheringoma District, Sofala province, once again. Like other former combatants in central Mozambique, he hopes to grow his own vegetables, maize, beans, and cassava, and possibly raise chickens and goats. Just a few months ago, Benjamin became one of the thousands of former RENAMO fighters taking part in a “disarmament, demobilization and reintegration” (DDR) process. DDR is a central component of the Maputo Accord, the peace agreement between the Government of Mozambique and RENAMO, which formally put an end to decades of conflict and insecurity, and brought communities together when it was signed in 2019. Now, Benjamin is learning new skills alongside members of the community he left more than 20 years ago and reconnecting with his family. “From the moment that my brothers and I started our reintegration into the community and society, I have a sense of relief and happiness. We are very happy to be back”, says Benjamin. “Since we came to the community, there have been no issues; I have been welcomed as a brother.” UN News

South Sudan’s Fairytale Basketball Story Is an Inspiration to Many
When the first round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Africa qualifiers came to a close on July 3, with games played in Egypt, Cote D’Ivoire, and Rwanda, 12 teams had secured spots in the second round of qualifiers commencing at the end of August in a 2 group format, with Cote D’Ivoire, Angola, Guinea, Cape Verde, Nigeria, and Uganda in one and South Sudan, Tunisia, Cameroon, Egypt, DR Congo, and Senegal in the other. This sets up some tough matches in the next round but there are already some significant stories here. Africa’s “Cinderella story”, is South Sudan, the side that became the talk of the basketball town after finishing the first round of qualifiers undefeated (6-0) and beating Africa Champions Tunisia for the second time in this window – despite the presence of Tunisian superstars, Michael Roll, and Salah Mejri. It’s a team that has grown exponentially in the past three years after not even featuring in the top 20 teams on the continent in the previous tournament. The country federation’s recently appointed deputy secretary general, Arou Chan, expressed the country’s pride in the achievement and threw down the gauntlet. Quartz Africa



Photo: Adam Jones