Africa Media Review for July 12, 2018

As Planet Heats Up, Conflicts Do Too
As the planet heats up from the effects of climate change, so, too, can conflicts. At the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, diplomats discussed the importance of recognizing global warming as a risk factor that can exacerbate intercommunal tensions and drive recruits into the hands of terrorist groups. “Climate change is inextricably linked to some of the most pressing security challenges of our time,” U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told the council. “We must understand climate change as one issue in a web of factors that can lead to conflict. Within this web, climate change acts as a threat multiplier, applying additional stress on prevailing political, social and economic pressure points.” Climate-related factors increasingly play a role in the escalation of conflicts between both neighbors and tribes. VOA

After 20 Years of Silence, Strangers in Ethiopia and Eritrea Call to Say Hello
“I don’t know you, you don’t know me, but I am from Ethiopia and I am so excited to talk to you.”That was the message Roman Tafessework Gomeju had for the stranger on the other end of the phone line when she called a hotel in neighboring Eritrea this week from her home in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. For 20 years, this phone call would have been impossible. Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in the early 1990s, but then a border war broke out between them later that decade, locking the two countries in hostilities and leaving tens of thousands dead.Cross-border travel was banned, the embassies were closed, flights were canceled and phone calls on landlines and cellphone networks were not permitted between the two countries. The New York Times

First Addis to Asmara Flight Fully Booked
The strong bonds that bind Eritreans with Ethiopians have been confirmed by the snapping up of all the tickets for the inaugural flight between the neighbours next Wednesday. Tickets for the Addis Ababa to Asmara flight by the Ethiopian Airlines sold out in a couple of hours after being put on sale, source confirmed. The flight was scheduled after Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a normalisation of relations and peace agreement in Asmara on Sunday. Family members divided due to the two decades border war and other travellers wishing to visit the old colonial city of Asmara were delighted to purchase the tickets. The East African

Ethiopia Says Re-Opening Roads to Eritrea’s Red Sea Ports a Priority
Landlocked Ethiopia wants to make the re-opening of two roads connecting it to two of Eritrea’s Red Sea ports a priority in the two nations’ reconciliation process, a government spokesman said on Wednesday. In a move that ended a 20-year military stand-off, the Horn of African neighbours agreed on Monday to open embassies, develop ports and resume flights. The historic reconciliation could transform politics and security in the volatile Horn region, which lies along one of the world’s busiest shipping routes. Ethiopian government spokesman Ahmed Shide said on Wednesday that the reopening of two critical roads leading to the ports of Assab in Eritrea’s south and Massawa in the north would benefit the whole region. Reuters

East Libyan General Hands Back Control of Oil Ports
The east Libyan strongman Gen Khalifa Haftar has handed back control of the oil ports under his authority to the country’s national oil corporation, ending a three-week dispute that had effectively closed down the country’s oil industry and threatened to strangle efforts at political reconciliation across Libya. The ports of Ras Lanuf, Es Sider, Zueitina and Hariga were all handed back to NOC control without any obvious tangible concession being made to Haftar. He had been pressing privately for Saddek Elkaber, the governor of the Libyan central bank, to step down, claiming that Elkaber was funnelling cash from the oil industry to militias opposed to him. A strongly worded letter from the US president, Donald Trump, warning he would take legal action against those responsible for the impasse may have prompted a change of heart. The Guardian

Opposition Leader Chamisa Threatens to Camp at Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Offices
MDC Alliance protesters don’t trust Zimbabwe’s electoral body, want to keep a close eye on the printing and storage of ballot papers and examine the voters’ roll in the run-up to the Zimbabwe election. Thousands of Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (a coalition of seven political parties) supporters protested in Harare on 11 July 2018 with their presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa threatening they would camp at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) offices if their demands were not met within a week. Daily Maverick

Violent Protests Force Uganda Government to Review Social Media Tax
Violent protests in Uganda has forced the government to review a controversial tax imposed on social media use in the country. Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda in a statement Wednesday said the bill would be amended “taking into consideration the concerns of the public,” and presented to the country’s parliament on July 19. Uganda passed a new set of laws taxing online services and mobile money transactions in the country in May. Police fired teargas to disperse a crowd of demonstrators led by vocal lawmaker Robert Kyagulanyi as they marched towards the parliament in the capital Kampala, local media reported. CNN

Trump Announces Ambassador Picks for Somalia, Nicaragua
President Trump on Wednesday announced his ambassador picks for Somalia and Nicaragua, aiming to reduce the number of vacant ambassador positions. Trump nominated Donald Yamamoto to be the ambassador to Somalia and Kevin Sullivan to be the ambassador to Nicaragua. Yamamoto heads the Bureau of African Affairs within the State Department. He served as the U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia from 2006-2009 and Djibouti from 2000-2003. The Trump administration this year stepped up ongoing American military intervention in Somalia. The move follows violent clashes between the government and Al Shabaab, an Al Qaeda-aligned Islamist group. The Hill

DR Congo Accuses Uganda of Killing 12 Fishermen in Border Dispute
Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday accused Ugandan forces of shooting dead 12 Congolese fishermen last week on a lake straddling their shared border, something Uganda’s army denied. One Ugandan soldier was killed when the countries’ navies clashed on Lake Edward. Oil exploration near the lake has raised the stakes along the border, with each side periodically accusing the other of encroaching on its territory. Obed Kambale, a spokesman for Congo’s fishing ministry, said Ugandan forces killed 12 fishermen last Friday following the previous day’s naval clashes. He said Ugandan troops arrested 92 fishermen last week. Africa News

Suspected Cattle Thieves ‘Kill 26’ in NW Nigeria
Twenty-six people were killed in two days of violence blamed on cattle thieves in northern Nigeria, the National Emergency Management Agency said on Wednesday. Bandits on motorcycles attacked several villages on both sides of the border between Sokoto and Zamfara states on Monday and Tuesday, shooting residents, burning homes and stealing cows. “At the moment, 26 dead bodies have been recovered from the attacks,” NEMA spokesperson Suleiman Kadir told AFP. “The toll may rise with the latest attack from yesterday [Tuesday].”  AFP

Spain to Lead NATO’s New Antijihadist Mission in Tunisia
In his first intervention at a NATO summit, new Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, wanted to demonstrate that, although Spain is at tail of allied countries in defense investment (it spends 0.93% of GDP, as well as Belgium and only less than Luxembourg) , is one of most willing to take a step forward to participate in missions. In plenary meeting with allied leaders, Sanchez announced that Spain will lead new NATO-approved assistance mission to Tunisia. Although its advice will extend to fields as diverse as cyberdefence, deactivation of explosive devices or management of economic resources, in its first phase will focus on instruction of Tunisian military in special operations to fight Against jihadism. Turkey Telegraph

The Sahel Crisis Deepens — Education under Attack in Burkina Faso
Dark clouds dimmed the late afternoon sun before a blustery sandstorm swept through the empty schoolyard in Burkina Faso’s northern Djibo town. Fewer than 20 students were present at the school, but there were no teachers or lessons. A surge in armed raids in the country’s northern borderlands has driven 65,000 pupils and more than 2,000 teachers from schools. Between January and April this year, 44 attacks were recorded in the northern regions. More than half of those attacks were in the northern Soum Province, the most violence-affected area, where all schools have now been closed. By May this year, 473 out of 644 primary schools in the country’s North and Sahel regions were closed, five times more than in February. Medium

Is Ivory Coast’s President Tightening His Grip on Power?
The second term of Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara should be his last, according to the country’s constitution. But Ouattara has dropped hints he might have other plans. Bram Posthumus reports from Abidjan. Ivory Coast’s new government held its first cabinet meeting on Wednesday, after President Alassane Ouattara had dissolved the administration last week over a row between his ruling party Rally of the Republicans (RDR) and its coalition partner, the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI). The reshuffle was meant to appease PDCI which played a crucial role in helping Ouattara win the elections. However, key positions in ministries such as finance, defense and agriculture did not change. Deutsche Welle

Tanzania Research Group Threatened over Magufuli Survey
The Tanzanian authorities have threatened to take legal action against an independent research organisation days after it released a survey that claimed to show President John Magufuli’s popularity had declined. The researchers from Twaweza found that President Magufuli’s approval ratings had plummeted by 41% since coming to power two years ago. But in response, the public body responsible for science and technology, Costech, said Twaweza’s survey was not certified. It gave the organisation seven days to explain itself or face legal action. Twaweza has not yet responded. The survey, called Speaking Truth to Power?, is part of a series known as Voices of the Citizens.

Mozambique President Signals Peace Talks Breakthrough
Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi and opposition Renamo leader Ossufo Momade on Wednesday announced an apparent breakthrough in peace negotiations over the integration of former rebels into the police and army. The disarmament and integration of Renamo fighters has been a major sticking point in talks, with the government demanding the immediate disbanding of Renamo armed units. “The (Renamo) leadership agreed with us. We will continue with the procedures that we have been implementing, the integration in the police… it will be possible,” Nyusi told reporters. “The main thing is to give assurance to our MPs and to society in general that the process will not stop.”  AFP

How WhatsApp Has Helped Heroin Become Mozambique’s Second Biggest Export
As many as 40 tonnes of heroin could be passing through Mozambique every year, making it the country’s second biggest export, in a trade that is boosted by the use of mobile phone apps, writes Mozambique analyst Joseph Hanlon. Mozambique is now an important stop for heroin traders who are using circuitous routes for their product to reach Europe from Afghanistan, as tighter enforcement has closed off the more direct paths. The heroin goes from Afghanistan to Pakistan’s south-west coast, and from there it is taken by motorized 20m wooden dhows to close to northern Mozambique’s coast. […] This has been facilitated by the improved mobile phone coverage in northern Mozambique, the growth of WhatsApp and its encrypted message system, and increasing corruption in Mozambique. BBC

World Cup 2018: Kenya Outrage at MPs’ Trip
Kenyans have reacted furiously to news that 20 MPs have travelled to watch the World Cup at the taxpayers’ expense. They are watching four games, including the final, in a two-week trip to Russia estimated to be costing hundreds of thousands of US dollars. The MPs caught the attention of Kenyans when they posted selfies in a stadium. Sports Minister Rashid Echesa told the BBC he had authorised only six MPs to travel, to help understand how to organise such big events. Kenya have never qualified for a World Cup final and are currently ranked 112 out of 206 nations by football’s world governing body, Fifa. BBC



Photo: Adam Jones