Africa Media Review for July 13, 2022

DRC: How Demand for Twigs Is Bringing Down a Rainforest
The logging industry in Congo uproots precious old-growth trees for use in furniture and home construction, contributing to the destruction of forests — particularly when not regulated properly. On top of that, entire swaths of forest are burned to make way for farming. But the raiding of the forest by regular people in search of cooking materials is surprisingly destructive as well. That’s partly because felling and burning trees unleashes stores of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, where it acts as a blanket, trapping the sun’s heat and warming the world. But in addition to that, cooking with wood fires and charcoal — wood that is burned until it is reduced to almost pure carbon, which burns longer and hotter — affects air quality from particles emitted in the smoke. Nearly 90 percent of Congo’s 89.5 million people rely on firewood and charcoal for cooking, according to World Bank estimates. Congo lost more than 1.2 million acres of primary forest in 2021, mostly from residents clearing land for farming and for collecting wood for fires and charcoal, according to Global Forest Watch. New York Times

Mo Farah’s Revelations Put Spotlight on U.K.’s Hard-Line Policy
Experts hope the running star’s revelations will humanize migrants’ struggles, but they don’t expect policy changes in a country that is trying to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda. The harrowing revelation by Mo Farah, the Olympic track and field star, that he was trafficked to Britain as a young child has reverberated widely in his adopted country, where immigration remains a fraught issue and candidates vying to succeed Prime Minister Boris Johnson have defended the government’s policy of putting some asylum seekers on planes to Rwanda. Experts said they hoped Mr. Farah’s stark personal story would humanize the complex challenges faced by migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, pulling the debate away from what has been the government’s single-minded focus on cutting the numbers of people crossing the English Channel into Britain. While immigration experts said they did not expect Mr. Farah’s case to shift broader policies in a Britain governed by the Conservative Party, it could raise public awareness of the evils of human trafficking, particularly of children. Mr. Farah’s vivid memories — of being transported as a 9-year-old Somali to Britain under a false name, of being forced into domestic servitude for a family, and of being rescued by a school gym teacher who helped get him into the care of a friend’s mother — stunned Britons, who thought they knew one of their great sportsmen. New York Times

Rwanda: President Kagame Says He May Run for 4th Term in 2024
Speaking to France 24, he said: “I would consider running for another 20 years. I have no problem with that. Elections are about people choosing.” However, controversy surrounded the last presidential election five years ago, where Kagame reportedly won 99% of the vote. Following Kagame’s announcement, Human Right Watch’s Central African Director, Lewis Mudge said: “What comes as a surprise is that some people are indeed surprised. Rwanda is a country where it’s very, very dangerous to oppose the government, let alone to be a political opponent…” Kagame, who is now 64, became president in 2000 after former president Pasteur Bizimungu resigned, winning against Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) secretary-general Charles Murigand, making him the fourth elected president of Rwanda. In 1994, when he was 36, Kagame’s RPF party forced out Hutu extremists responsible for the infamous genocide killing about 800,000 Tutsi people. He was considered the de facto ruler from then until 2000, serving as Vice President and Minister of Defence under his predecessor. In 2003, the Rwandan constitution changed and said presidents would have a seven-year tenure renewable once. However, another change in 2015 removed the seven-year term and allows presidents to serve two five-year terms, starting in 2017, which allowed Kagame to run for his third term. The referendum to change the constitution in 2015 had more than 90% of the vote. Africa Report

Rwanda: French Court Jails Laurent Bucyibaruta for 20 Years over Genocide
A French court has jailed a former senior Rwandan official for 20 years after finding him guilty of complicity in his country’s genocide. Laurent Bucyibaruta is the highest-ranking Rwandan to have faced trial in France over the 1994 massacres in which an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus died in 100 days of mass killings. At the heart of the case against the 78-year-old were several “security” meetings, either ordered or attended by Bucyibaruta, which prosecutors had argued were actually planning sessions for the killings. Specifically, the former prefect of the southern province of Gikongoro was accused of having persuaded thousands of people to take refuge in the Murambi Technical School, by promising them food, water and protection.  Days later, in the early hours of April 21, tens of thousands of Tutsis were executed there in one of the genocide’s bloodiest episodes. East African

Sit-Ins Lifted, Protesters Injured in Sudan Capital
An unknown number of protesters was injured in old Omdurman on Tuesday, before the anti-junta sit-in at El Azhari square was lifted. The sit-in at El Muassasa in Khartoum North (Bahri) was cancelled yesterday. During street protests in eastern Khartoum, more than 14 people were wounded. Yesterday, policemen fired live ammunition at protesters at the sit-in at El Azhari square. An unknown number of people were injured, sources reported to Radio Dabanga. The Resistance committees of old Omdurman had already decided to lift the sit-in today. The sit-in at El Muassasa in Khartoum North was also lifted. Members of the Hanabniho* group immediately began removing the barricades and did a comprehensive cleaning. The sit-ins in El Deyoum El Shargiya in Khartoum and El Arbaeen (Martyr Abdelazeem) Street in Omdurman were cancelled earlier. The reasons are not clear. On Monday, Fadil Omar, a spokesman for the Resistance Committees in Khartoum, told Radio Dabanga that they are planning to discuss another kind of sit-in or different social disobedience actions to protest the October 202 military coup and continue their calls for democracy. The sit-in at Siraj, renamed Martyr El Rousi by the protesters, in El Fitihab in southern Omdurman, is still in place and has witnessed many activities since the first day of the Eid, an activist reported. Yesterday evening, young activists and members of the Emergency Lawyers spoke there on various topics related to peaceful protests, talked about the contents of the political charters released by resistance committees earlier this year, and how to work on the transformation to democracy. Dabanga

Sudan Woman Faces Death by Stoning for Adultery in First Case for a Decade
A woman in Sudan has been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, the first known case in the country for almost a decade. Maryam Alsyed Tiyrab, 20, was arrested by police in Sudan’s White Nile state last month. Tiyrab says she is appealing against the decision. The majority of stoning sentences, which are predominantly against women, are overturned in the high court. Campaigners worry the sentence is a sign that the military coup in October has emboldened lawmakers to roll back small gains for women’s rights made under the country’s transitional government. The African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), based in Uganda, said the sentence violated domestic and international law and called for Tiyrab’s “immediate and unconditional release”. The centre said the woman was not given a fair trial and was not told that the information she gave during interrogation would be used against her. Tiyrab was also denied legal representation, it said. Guardian

Africa Looks to Private Sector to Fund Ocean Climate Action
Countries on Africa’s east coast are increasingly turning to climate funding initiatives to boost livelihoods of oceanside communities, aid biodiversity and take climate action. On the margins of the high-level political forum on sustainable development currently underway at the United Nations headquarters in New York, African coastal and island states and conservation groups outlined plans to boost ocean conservation and economic development through a system of “ blue bonds” — a method of financing projects that would also benefit ocean health. Following on from Africa’s Great Green Wall, which spans across the continent’s Sahel region, east African nations are now seeking funds for the Great Blue Wall initiative, which aims to protect marine areas across the coastline. Both blue and green finance refers to funding aimed at preventing environmental damage and combating climate change while creating sustainable ecosystems. “The blue bond is a powerful example of the critical role that the capital markets can play in supporting sustainable objectives,” said Jorge Familiar, Vice President of the World Bank. The Great Blue Wall initiative, launched last year by ten western Indian Ocean states during the U.N.’s climate conference in Glasgow, aims to create a network of coastal and marine protected areas which supporters say would restore and conserve some 2 million hectares of ocean, capture 100 million tons of carbon dioxide and secure livelihoods for over 70 million people. AP

Climate Adaptation Bill for African Countries to Dwarf Health Spending
African countries that are the least responsible for the climate crisis will have to spend up to five times more on adapting to global heating than they do on healthcare. Analysis of 11 nations with a total population of more than 350 million lays bare the huge financial toll of taking action to avert the severe environmental consequences of global heating. The international NGO Tearfund compared the plans drawn up by Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania and Sudan against their health budgets. Each nation is already suffering the effects of the climate crisis. The expected climate adaptation costs for Eritrea amount to 22.7% of GDP, compared with 4.46% for healthcare costs. Mauritania will need to spend more than four times as much on climate adaptation as it does on healthcare – 13.4% compared with 3.3%. The analysis shows the 11 nations are among the least to blame for the greenhouse gas emissions that are heating the planet. On average, they emit 27 times less per person than the global average. A measurement of global liability found the US has inflicted more than $1.9tn (£1.6tn) in damage to other countries from the effects of its greenhouse gas emissions. Adapting to climate change involves building higher sea walls, capturing rainwater for irrigation and moving to drought-tolerant crops. Sub-Saharan Africa already experiences one-third of the world’s droughts and is extremely vulnerable to temperatures and extreme weather, because of its dependence on rain-fed agriculture, according to the International Monetary Fund. East Africa is currently suffering its worst drought in a generation, with 20 million people at risk of severe hunger. Guardian

Nigeria: Why Presidential Hopefuls Are Cut from the Same Cloth
It was no coincidence: The presidential and vice-presidential candidates were carefully chosen by their parties to ensure the maxiumum amount of votes in their respective strongholds. “There is a very interesting ethnic, religious and geographic arithmetic taking place in these elections,” security analyst Ryan Cummings told DW. “Currently it seems to favor Tinubu in terms of his ethnic profile and who he chose as a running mate.” Analyst Tukur Abdelkadir from Kaduna University believes that all this strategizing is an “unfortunate” recent development in Nigeria’s politics. Until the turn of the century, religion did not play a role in politics, he said. “The leadership we have had from [former Presidents] Olusegun Obasanjo, and Jonathan Goodluck, and President Muhammadu Buhari, have not helped matters, especially in trying to promote reconciliation in the country,” Abdelkadir told DW. Tinubu, 70, is a former governor of Lagos state, Nigeria’s commercial hub. A Yoruba Muslim from southwestern Nigeria, he wants to succeed Buhari, who will step down next year after completing two terms. DW

The Share of Active Crypto Traders Among Nigerian Adults Is the World’s Highest
Bitcoin has lost over half its value since the beginning of the year and its $67,000 high of November 2021 looks a distant memory. But in six countries, more than a third of the adult population continues to buy or sell cryptocurrencies at least once a month, says a report by global research firm Morning Consult (pdf), published July 7. Nigeria and Turkey, each with more than 50% monthly active adult crypto traders, top the list of 40 countries surveyed. South Africa, Russia, and India are in the top ten. The study is based on surveys with representative samples of crypto users in each country…Nigeria, Pakistan, and India are in the top 6 of the world’s most populous countries and will each have more people in 2050, per the UN’s latest projections. As such, user behavior in each country gives clues for how crypto adoption could develop in the future and will each have substantially higher populations…That said, policymakers and innovators can learn a lot about the financial services ecosystem by keeping tabs with what motivates crypto users, the Morning Consult report says. Not only do crypto owners use more alternative platforms like non-bank apps, they are also more likely to send remittances and take payday loans. The insight could be especially useful for fintech designers in Africa, where digital technology is increasingly being relied on to overcome historic obstacles to access to financial services. Quartz Africa

Cameroon Orders Investment in Wheat Production to Quell Protests Sparked by Shortages
Cameroon President Paul Biya says the government will increase funding to grow more wheat after protests over wheat shortages and price spikes sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Before Russia’s Black Sea blockade, Cameroon imported 60 percent of its wheat from Ukraine. The cut-off has led to a nearly 50 percent increase in the price of bread. Cameroon government says President Paul Biya on Monday ordered an immediate disbursement of over $15 million to grow wheat in the central African state. Cameroon’s agriculture minister, Gabriel Mbairobe, says Biya responded to pleas from civilians that the cost of living is becoming very high, and many Cameroonians are finding it very difficult to put food on the table. Mbairobe says Russia’s war in Ukraine has completely disrupted supply chains of consumer goods, especially wheat, which is the main staple food in Cameroon. He says investing in wheat production is a wise decision because each Cameroonian consumes 33 kilograms of wheat each year which is far more than 23 kilograms of rice each Cameroonian eats annually. He says wheat can be grown in several places in Cameroon. Voice of America

South African Tavern Shootings Reflect Rising Crime Trends
In the aftermath of two weekend tavern shootings in South Africa that left 19 people dead, communities are asking what needs to be done. At an informal settlement in Soweto, a township in Johannesburg, hundreds of people are trying to make sense of the brutal killing of 15 people at a tavern this weekend. Mass killings are rare in South Africa, although gun violence is not. Tim Thema, a leader in the informal settlement, said there’s been multiple deadly shootings in the area over the past year. “Everybody’s got a gun in Soweto,” he said. “Whether you’re a foreign national, you are a citizen of this country, all of them, they’ve got guns and you ask yourself, what kind of country is this? We cannot live in a society where everybody’s just got guns and do wherever he pleases.” This weekend’s violence was not isolated. Another four people were killed by gunmen in Pietermaritzburg, a city in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal. While two people have been arrested in connection with that shooting, the assailants from the Soweto tragedy remain at large. Government authorities said the events are not linked. Bheki Cele, South Africa’s police minister, spoke to reporters while visiting grieving residents in Soweto Monday. “They were about plus-130 empty cartridges of AK-47, which means those people that were there really meant business of killing,” Cele said. “We don’t believe it was terrorism. So, it’s a group of people we believe we will get the motive as soon as we find them.” Crime has overall been on the rise in the country. Voice of America



Photo: Adam Jones