Africa Media Review for July 14 2022

Africa to Drive Global Population Growth in UN Report Estimating 8 Billion Mark for November
More than half of the projected increase in the global population up to 2050 will be concentrated in eight countries, the UN has said, five of which are in Africa. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Tanzania, the new UN report – World Population Prospects 2022 –released Tuesday shows will contribute more than half to the increase leading the human population to the 8 billion mark on November 15 of this year. The report also shows that India is on course to surpass China as the world’s most populous country in 2023. It suggests that, in 61 countries or areas, population is expected to decrease by at least one per cent over the next three decades, as a result of sustained low levels of fertility and, in some cases, elevated rates of emigration, High or low mortality in a given country is also a factor in that country’s overall population growth: the longer people live, the more time they have to be counted, the report showed. And, as expected, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an effect on population change, the UN report added, suggesting further that human population could grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030, and to 9.7 billion in 2050, before reaching a peak of around 10.4 billion people during the 2080s. The population is expected to remain at that level until 2100. AfricaNews

Continued Global Population Growth Creates Challenges, Opportunities
The United Nation’s latest global population projection predicts there will be 8 billion people on the planet by November and that the population will gradually increase to 8.5 billion by 2050 and to more than 10 billion by 2080. That growth will come with significant economic and environmental implications.
The projected growth is not evenly spread across the world. Some regions, including Eastern and Southeastern Asia, are expected to shrink in population, while North America and Europe are expected to grow at very low rates. The bulk of the population growth is expected to come from sub-Saharan Africa and Central and Southeastern Asia. The move past the 8 billion mark masks the fact that globally, the population is growing at its slowest rate since the 1950s. Two-thirds of all people currently live in regions where the fertility rate, measured in births per woman, has fallen below the replacement rate of 2.1. In many cases, those falling rates are driven in part by government policies.  Growth will be most concentrated among eight countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and the United Republic of Tanzania. Of those eight, the countries in sub-Saharan Africa will account for more than half of the world’s population increase over the next 30 years, creating what U.N. officials called a potential “demographic dividend,” with the share of working-age adults, defined as those between 26 and 64 years of age, rising as a share of the population. Voice of America

The G7 Is Playing Catch-Up with China in Africa
This past June, the leaders of the world’s largest IMF economies and wealthiest liberal democracies gathered at Elmau castle in Germany’s picturesque Bavarian Alps for the annual G7 summit. Besides discussing obvious topics such as the Ukrainian war and global economic recovery, the gathering was an opportunity to unveil a major infrastructure development program—the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII). Spearheaded by US president Joe Biden, PGII is in part a rebranding of his “Build Back Better” (B3W) domestic bill. The economic recovery plan was aimed at strengthening the US economy but had fallen flat in both Congress and before the public eye. PGII is rooted in B3W’s four pillars: healthcare, gender equality and equity, climate and environment, and digital connectivity. But it will include hard infrastructure projects, initially missing from the B3W investment portfolio, to reflect a clearer commitment to physical development all across the global south—with a special focus on Africa. Quartz Africa

Ethiopia Arrests Relief Aid Chief amid Corruption Allegations
Police arrested the head of Ethiopia’s National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC) on Wednesday amid allegations of corruption, the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation reported. NDRMC Commissioner Mitiku Kassa, who has run the public body since 2015, was previously the state minister for disaster risk management and food security. In December 2019, he was also appointed as a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Internal Displacement. Tadesse Ayalewe, deputy commissioner at the federal police’s Corruption Crimes Investigation Office told the broadcaster that Kassa was suspected of conspiring with a head of an NGO called Elshadai. The charity received food and clothing that were purportedly intended for displaced persons, and these were then sold “to buy a residential house for the suspect,” Tadesse said. The arrest was carried out after police conducted extensive surveillance on the suspect, he added. Ethiopia is facing a major humanitarian crisis sparked by conflicts and drought. With nearly five million people displaced, a total of 26 million Ethiopians, almost a quarter of the population, need emergency food aid, according to the UN. AFP

More Practices from Al Bashir Era Reappearing in Sudan
Reports of violent suppression of freedoms that characterised the 30-year regime of Omar al Bashir, on all levels of society, are increasing again.  Last month, police forces in Zalingei, capital of Central Darfur, held four Christian men in a church in the city. A 20-year-old woman was sentenced to death by stoning in Kosti, White Nile state. A few days ago, four displaced leaders were detained in Sirba, West Darfur. The ousted National Congress Party (NCP) welcomed the speech of El Burhan in which he announced the military’s withdrawal from the national dialogue. On June 22, police forces raided a church in Zalingei and detained four Christian men whom they found praying, the New York-based African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) reported on Sunday. The men were charged with apostasy, as the police insisted that they had converted from Islam to Christianity even though they maintained that they are Christians. Following questioning, they were later released but were held again shortly afterwards. Six days later, the men were released on bail. According to Darfur24.com, the four young men were subjected to torture inside the police cells. Dabanga

Nigerian Prison Assault Deepens Security Crisis, Jihadist Threat
After dividing themselves into three squads, more than a hundred gunmen stormed a Nigerian prison, using explosives to blast though a wall and free dozens of jailed jihadists. But the assault did not take place in some remote town in the country’s violence-torn northeast. Instead, the raid unfolded just 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the residence of President Muhammadu Buhari and 20 kilometres from the capital’s international airport. As brazen as it was sophisticated, the attack is a humiliation for Nigeria’s security forces, analysts say. They see it as a sign of the jihadists’ growing ability to threaten regions beyond the northeast, the heartland of a 13-year insurgency. The July 5 assault, claimed by IS affiliate ISWAP, targeted Kuje prison, a medium-security jail on the outskirts of Abuja. “The attack…represents a monumental failure in intelligence-gathering,” Nigeria risk group SBM Intelligence said. AFP

Before Mali Withdrawal, France Prepares Future Sahel Strategy
French officials are heading to Niger to redefine the country’s strategy to fight armed groups in the Sahel as its troops complete a withdrawal from Mali and concerns mount over the growing threat to coastal West African states. Coups in Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso against pro-Parisian leaders have weakened France’s alliances in its former colonies. This has also emboldened armed groups who control large swathes of desert and scrubland and opened the door to greater Russian influence. Concerns are growing that the exit of 2,400 French troops from Mali – the birthplace of violence in the Sahel region and stronghold of al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) affiliates – will aggravate violence, destabilise neighbours and spur migration. With the withdrawal expected to be completed around mid-year, France’s new foreign minister, Catherine Colonna, and Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu arrive in Niger on Friday to seal a regional redeployment. Niger will now become the hub for French troops, with some 1,000 soldiers based in the capital Niamey with fighter jets, drones and helicopters. Some 300-400 would be dispatched for special operations with Nigerien troops in the border regions with Burkina and Mali, French officials told reporters in a briefing. Al Jazeera

Ghana Seeks IMF Bailout as Inflation Spikes
Ghana’s annual inflation climbed to 29.8% in June 2022, the first time the country’s inflation rate has touched 29% since January 2004. Ghana Statistical Service’s latest consumer price index report says June’s inflation was accelerated by higher costs of transportation, household equipment and maintenance, and utilities like electricity, gas, and water. The new inflation rate underscores worsening economic conditions in the west African country especially this year. Between October and December last year, Ghana’s inflation rate averaged under 12%. In the second quarter of 2022, it was 27%, GSS’s data show. Frustrated by rising costs of living, Ghanaians held days of protests in Accra at the end of June to draw the government’s attention, following up on previous outcries against new taxes on electronic transactions. Seemingly unable to save itself, Ghana’s federal government is, once again, looking to the International Monetary Fund for help. Quartz Africa

Ghana ‘Fix the Country’ Activist Says He Was Assaulted and Illegally Detained
A prominent Ghanaian activist has accused authorities of subjecting him to a violent assault and illegal detention after he criticised the government in a series of Facebook posts. Oliver Barker-Vormawor, a doctoral student at the University of Cambridge who founded the prominent “fix the country” protest movement, was arrested after he landed at Kotoka airport in Accra in February on a flight from the UK. In a lawsuit he filed last month, he alleges that he had his passport confiscated before being taken to a room and beaten for more than three hours by security officials. He says he was then blindfolded and taken in a convoy of police and military vehicles to a cell on the outskirts of the city, where he was stripped and forced to give officers access to his phone. In a call from a safe house in Ghana, Barker-Vormawor said his detention lasted for two months and included stints in solitary confinement. “The trauma of it is still there … I was suicidal,” he said. Barker-Vormawor arrived back in the country during a crackdown on protesters from the movement he started. The demonstrations against worsening living standards, corruption and police abuses have continued in recent weeks, posing a challenge to the government, which is often portrayed internationally as a standard bearer of good governance in Africa. Guardian

Gambian Court Sentences Five Former Spies to Death for Jammeh-Era Murder
A Gambian court has sentenced five former members of the intelligence service to death for the murder of a political activist during the rule of ex-dictator Yahya Jammeh. High Court Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara pronounced the sentence against the former head of the National Intelligence Agency, Yankuba Badjie, after finding him guilty of murdering Ebrima Solo Sandeng, an important figure in the opposition United Democratic Party, in 2016. Badjie was also convicted of bodily harm. The agency’s former operations chief, Sheikh Omar Jeng, as well as NIA officials Babucarr Sallah, Lamin Darboe and Tamba Mansary, were convicted on the same charges and sentenced to death by the Banjul court. Sandeng was arrested during an April 2016 demonstration against Jammeh. He died in custody two days later after having been beaten and tortured. His death galvanised a political movement that eventually ousted Jammeh, who had ruled the tiny West African nation for 22 years. RFI

Authorities Target ‘Mafia’ to End Power Outages in South Africa
South Africa is set to tackle “mafia” groups that have compromised power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.’s operations and contributed to nationwide blackouts, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said. The state-owned company has called for more arrests to apprehend people suspected of corruption involving the state-owned company. The police on Tuesday apprehended two former employees of Swiss industrial firm ABB Ltd. and their wives for alleged graft linked to more than 500 million rand ($29 million) of contracts with Eskom. Bloomberg

Libya’s Prime Minister Pushes for New Chief of State Oil Company
Libya’s prime minister is trying to oust Mustafa Sanalla, head of the country’s National Oil Corporation, drawing the state body into a political stand-off that could lead to renegade general Khalifa Haftar gaining greater leverage over the Opec member’s energy revenues. Libya’s oil ministry posted on its Facebook page early on Wednesday a decree signed by Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, prime minister of the Tripoli-based government, in which he named a new board of directors of NOC headed by Farhat Bengdara. Bengdara, a banker, once served as governor of the central bank under Muammer Gaddafi, the dictator ousted in 2011. Control of oil revenue has been at the heart of conflict in the divided country for most of the past decade. Backed by the US and the UN, analysts said, the NOC under Sanalla had tried to stay above the political fray as the organisation in charge of the oil wealth of all Libyans. The appointment of Bengdara “will politicise the oil sector, something which Sanalla had carefully avoided doing”, said Peter Millett, head of the Libyan British Business Council and a former UK ambassador to Tripoli. Financial Times



Photo: Adam Jones