Africa Media Review for July 19, 2023

10 Civilians Killed in Burkina Faso; Locals Say ‘Terrorists Attacked’
Burkina Faso’s junta leader on Tuesday lashed out at the “cowardice” of the country’s jihadist rebels after local and security sources reported at least 10 civilian deaths in two attacks. Residents of Nouna, local capital of Kossi province in the west, contacted by telephone, said shells hit the town late Monday. “The toll is six dead and four wounded,” one resident said. Nouna has in recent months become a refuge for thousands of people who have fled repeated jihadist assaults on their homes. A security source confirmed the attack on Nouna to AFP, saying “fragments of rockets were found in the area.” The same evening some 400 kilometers (250 miles) to the south, Tondoura, near the border with Ivory Coast, also came under attack, a local official told AFP asking not to be named. “Terrorists attacked the village,” he said. “Some villagers, armed with rifles, tried to intervene but were quickly overrun. “We have at least four dead, some wounded and various physical damage.” Several locals said that, for more than a month, people have been forced to seek shelter from suspected jihadists in the nearby towns of Niangoloko and Banfora. VOA/AFP

Burkina Faso Bans Third Broadcaster within Eight Months
Burkina Faso has banned a third media organisation within eight months, at a time when there’s also severe censorship of journalists in the face of the growing influence of jihadist movements. The latest television station to be banned by the Superior Council for Communication, a government media regulator, is the French news channel La Chaîne Info (LCI). The station will be offline for three months for “allegedly airing false information about deteriorating security conditions in the country on its current affairs show, 24H Pujadas”, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a statement. Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa programme coordinator, said the banning of the station was not grounded in fact and deprived Burkinabè civilians of keeping abreast with current affairs. Other stations frozen out are RFI in December last year and France 24 in March this year. There has been an insurgency directed by terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State for eight years. News24

Sudan: Conflict Displaces Nearly 200,000 in the Past Week Alone
Nearly 200,000 people were displaced by fighting inside Sudan over the past week, the UN reported on Tuesday, citing new figures released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Overall, more than 2.6 million people have been internally displaced since the start of the conflict on 15 April. Meanwhile, more than 730,000 people have fled Sudan for neighbouring countries, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR. On Tuesday, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and the head of the World Food Programme (WFP), Cindy McCain, visited a camp in eastern Chad that has taken in Sudanese refugees. Ms. Mohammed said she was inspired by the courage of those who had fled there, many of whom were women and children, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told journalists in New York. “She said that she also heard stories of unimaginable suffering in Sudan and enormous needs in Chad,” he added. “More international support is needed for refugees and their host communities, she said.” UN News

Egyptian Rights Researcher Sentenced to Three Years in Prison
A court in Egypt has sentenced rights researcher Patrick Zaki to three years in prison for “spreading false news”. Previously, Zaki spent 22 months in pre-trial detention until December 2021 over an article he wrote on discrimination against Coptic Christians. The drawn-out case triggered international condemnation, particularly in Italy where he had been studying at Bologna University when he was arrested in 2020. Following Zaki’s condemnation, three liberal opposition figures immediately announced that they were withdrawing from the national dialogue, launched at the beginning of May by the government, less than one year before presidential elections. Copts are the largest Christian minority in the Middle East, accounting for 10-15% of the 105 million Egyptians. AfricaNews

Nearly 900 Migrants Rescued by Moroccan Navy, One Drowned
Over the past few days, the Moroccan navy has rescued almost 900 illegal migrants, most of them from sub-Saharan Africa, including 400 in territorial waters, according to a military source, while attempts to cross to Spain have multiplied. During the rescue operations, one body was fished out of the water, the Moroccan source said on Tuesday. “During the period from 10 to 17 July, Royal Navy units rescued 845 would-be irregular migrants of various nationalities, the majority of whom were Sub-Saharan Africans. Nearly 400 people were rescued in waters under national jurisdiction in the south of the Kingdom,” the source said. According to the same source, the would-be migrants took to the sea in makeshift boats, kayaks, pirogues, jet skis, and even swam. Those rescued were assisted on board naval vessels before being brought ashore for identification. Since the tightening of controls in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands’ migratory route, the gateway to Europe in the Atlantic Ocean, has seen a marked increase in activity from the coasts of northwest Africa. Other crossing attempts, just as perilous, are being made from the coasts of Morocco and the Western Sahara. AfricaNews/AFP

At Least 4 Injured in Kenya Anti-Government Protests as Schools Remain Closed
At least four protesters were injured in Kenya Wednesday as police clashed with demonstrators who are calling for the government to lower the cost of living. The opposition has called for three days of countrywide protests starting Wednesday in a new wave of demonstrations aimed at forcing the president to address the rising cost of living. President William Ruto had vowed that no protests would take place in the country, saying he would take on opposition leader Raila Odinga “head-on.” Four protesters were injured in the capital, Nairobi’s Mathare area, according to a police officer who wished to remain anonymous as he was not authorized to speak to the media. Businesses in Nairobi remained closed on Wednesday as police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters. Demonstrations were reported in several other parts of the country including the western counties of Kisumu, Migori and Kisii where the opposition enjoys huge support. Police on Tuesday said the Wednesday protests were illegal as no permit had been issued. … Religious leaders have been calling for dialogue between the government and the opposition to end the protests. AP

Watchdog Finds ‘Serious’ Tunisia Abuses against Black African Migrants
Tunisian security forces have committed “serious abuses” against black African migrants, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday, calling on the European Union to suspend migration control funding to the country. The New York-based watchdog said it had interviewed, since March, more than 20 migrants and asylum seekers, almost all of whom reported suffering “human rights violations at the hands of Tunisian authorities”. Seven were among “up to 1,200 black Africans expelled or forcibly transferred by Tunisian security forces” to the country’s desert border regions with Libya and Algeria this month. AFP correspondents reported on Sunday that Libyan border guards rescued dozens of migrants who were visibly exhausted and dehydrated, and who said Tunisian authorities had taken them there. France24

Ethiopia Restores Social Media Access after Five Months
Ethiopia is allowing people to access Facebook, Telegram, TikTok and YouTube for the first time in more than five months. The blackout was imposed on 9 February this year after tensions between the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the government. Only those with access to virtual private network (VPN) software could get on to the social media platforms – something that cost them additional data. The Orthodox Church faced a split in February when some archbishops from the Oromia region said they wanted to form a new synod as they wanted to hold services on the Oromo language. The move triggered deadly clashes, but a mediation effort by the government has now papered over the cracks. There has been no statement from the authorities over the decision to lift the ban. … According to the Internet Society, the outage has cost Ethiopia $42m (£32m) because of the knock-on effect on businesses. Others say the figure is higher. Some areas of the northern region of Tigray, where a brutal two-year conflict came to an end last November, remain without access to the internet. BBC

UAE Signs Deal to Develop Mines in Eastern DR Congo
The United Arab Emirates has signed a $1.9bn deal with a state mining company in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to develop at least four mines in the African country’s turbulent east, the Congolese presidency says. … The deal would see the “construction of more than 4 industrial mines” in the provinces of South Kivu and Maniema, according to the statement. State-owned Sakima has mining concessions for tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold in that part of the DRC. The statement gave no other details about the deal, including what type of minerals would be extracted. The agreement was inked after the DRC signed a 25-year contract in December with UAE firm Primera Group over export rights for some artisanally mined ores. Those are metals extracted by independent miners who are not employed by mining companies. … Primera Gold and Primera Metals received preferential export rates for artisanally mined gold, coltan, tin, tantalum and tungsten. The DRC has touted the initiative as a way to undercut mineral smugglers and guarantee a better livelihood for informal miners. Militias – up to 120 such groups, according to a count by the United Nations – have plagued eastern DRC for decades, and they have been sustained in part by trading minerals obtained illicitly. Al Jazeera

Beheadings in Northern Mozambique Cause Alarm
The beheading of two people by suspected Islamist militants is causing alarm in northern Mozambique as such atrocities have become less common in recent years. This is partly because regional troops were deployed two years ago to help the army recapture territory from the jihadists in the northern region of Cabo Delgado. While this has allowed some people to return to their villages, it has also encouraged retreating insurgents to win over villagers from whom they buy food. Of late they have been saying their fight is with the defence forces, not locals. But the decapitated bodies of two fishermen were found in a bush near the village of Litamanda in Macomia district on Monday. It is believed they were killed over the weekend. A group of militants were spotted near where the two men resided, about 20km (12 miles) from Litamanda, on Saturday. It comes two months after another beheading in Cabo Delgado. BBC

Women’s Right to Travel is Being Tightly Controlled in North Africa, Middle East, HRW Says
Research from Human Rights Watch released Tuesday shows that in many Middle East and North African countries women are still prevented from moving freely around the country they live in, or from travelling abroad. Most still need the permission of a male guardian. The 119-page report says that although women’s rights activists have succeeded in securing increased freedoms for women in many countries in the region, old and new restrictions require women to seek permission from their male guardians to travel. Guardians typically include fathers, brothers, or husbands. … The report is based on a comparative analysis of dozens of laws, regulations, and policies, as well as information provided by lawyers, activists, and women in 20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The situation is particularly grim in the Middle East as well as the Maghreb, which includes most of the northern part of Africa. The situation is hardest for women in Algeria, where women cannot obtain passports without a guardian’s permission. RFI

Suspended Nigeria Central Bank Governor Charged after Weeks in Detention
The suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria was charged after a month in detention under a court directive Thursday that officials act against the man or let him go, the secret police agency announced. Godwin Emefiele was charged after being investigated for alleged “criminal infractions,” said Peter Afunanya, spokesman for the secret police, the Department of State Services. Afunanya’s statement, however, did not specify the charges filed against Emefiele in the capital, Abuja. The police agency had in 2022 accused him of terrorism financing and economic crimes, both of which carry long jail terms. … While ruling on his application earlier Thursday, a high court in Abuja directed that the former central bank governor either be charged within one week or be released. AP

China’s Top Diplomat to Visit Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Turkey
China’s top diplomat Wang Yi will visit South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Turkey in the coming days, Beijing’s foreign ministry announced on Wednesday. “Wang Yi will attend the 13th Brics high representatives’ meeting on security affairs in Johannesburg from July 24 to 25, and visit Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Turkey before and after the meeting,” the ministry said in a statement. South Africa is the current chair of the Brics, a grouping of heavyweights that also includes Brazil, Russia, India and China to challenge the dominant US and European-led global governance structures. A summit of the bloc’s leaders will take place next month. Wang’s visit to Africa comes as Beijing seeks to bolster its presence on the continent. East African/AFP

Algeria and China Reinforce Cooperation
Chinese president Xi Jinping hailed China’s relationship with Algeria in a meeting in the capital Beijing on Tuesday with his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune. The meeting takes place a month before the BRICS Summit in South Africa. China has supported Algeria’s accession to the BRICS mechanism. “For 65 years, China and Algeria have always shared weal and woe and helped each other, and the friendship between the two countries has been strengthened over time”, said Chinese president, Xi Jinping. The visit to Beijing follows Tebboune’s trip last month to Russia, a long-time partner and military provider, although Algeria has remained officially neutral in Moscow’s war in Ukraine. AfricaNews

Wagner Group Leaves Trail of Destruction from Africa to Russia
[Video] The Russian private military force known as the Wagner Group captured the world’s attention with its open mutiny and march on Moscow, averted at the last minute through a deal brokered by Belarus. As Wagner’s future role remains uncertain, we take a look at their origins, the role they play in conflicts around the world, and their rise to influence as an unofficial arm of the Kremlin. Story by Alex Gendler; narration by Salem Solomon. VOA

South Africa: Putin Will Not Attend BRICS Summit by ‘Mutual Agreement’
Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the summit of the BRICS group of nations in South Africa in August “by mutual agreement”, South Africa’s presidency said on Wednesday. Russia will be represented by its Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov instead, the presidency said in a statement. South Africa faced a dilemma in hosting the summit because, as a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC), it would theoretically be required to arrest Putin for alleged war crimes if he were to attend. The ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Putin. The leaders of Brazil, India, China and South Africa will attend the summit, the presidency said. Reuters

From Khrushchev’s KGB to Putin: the Deep Roots of Russian influence in Africa
When Russian President Vladimir Putin develops his network of influence in Africa, he isn’t doing so at random. He is drawing on the rich history of Soviet relations with African countries that dates back to the 1960s and the efforts made by Russian spies during the Cold War to counter US influence on the ground. 1960 was a momentous year for what would soon become the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The country wrested independence from Belgium in June, installing its first democratically elected government. In September, power struggles led Joseph-Désiré Mobutu AKA Mobutu Sese Seko, secretary of state at the time, to carry out his first military coup. And a few months later, Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba was assassinated. This rapid succession of events marked a pivotal year in history, but not just for emancipation rights in Africa. Some 11,000 kilometres east of Kinshasa, in Russia, the Kremlin’s foreign policy took a new turn amid the crisis that gripped the Belgian Congo. Alexander Shelepin, head of the KGB at the time, realised there were barely any Russian spies south of the Sahara Desert. There was a solid base of secret agents in Egypt, a few scattered across the Maghreb and some with ties to the local Communist Party were stationed in South Africa. … the crisis in the Congo became “the first known case of an intervention by the KGB in a sub-Saharan African country”, explains Natalia Telepneva, historian and specialist of Soviet intelligence in Africa at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. And so began the start of a race for Russian influence south of the Sahara. France24

From Pixels to Pails, Crowdfunded Wells Quench Thirst in Senegal’s Drylands
In the arid expanse of northern Senegal, women traverse kilometres daily carrying heavy buckets of murky water from distant wells and rivers. Water scarcity is so acute at this time of year that many communities face a dire choice: water your farms or quench you thirst. This dilemma drove builder and fundraiser Mamadou Diakhate to intervene. He turned to the internet, setting up crowdfunding campaigns where people can donate money to construct wells in communities lacking water. “In many villages, there were water problems, and this issue notably impacted on learning,” said Diakhate, who previously worked in school construction. “I met women walking 7 or 8 kilometres (5 miles) to get water for their crops. I knew we had to do something,” he said. Droughts globally have become 29% more frequent since 2000, according to the United Nations, as factors like global warming and forest degradation dry out previously temperate areas. In a region pockmarked with wells in various states of disrepair, Diakhate hopes the internet can bring communities together to solve the problem of water scarcity. His group has built more than 50 wells this way since 2020, and nine more are under construction.”We raise funds exclusively through the internet,” he said, sitting in an alleyway in Senegal’s capital Dakar showing his latest crowdfunding site to residents on his phone. Reuters