Africa Media Review for July 27, 2022

Where China Is Changing Its Diplomatic Ways (at Least a Little)
Whirlwind visits to crisis-riven nations in Africa. A sleek training center for the continent’s up-and-coming politicians. The prospect of major debt forgiveness for a favorite African country. As relations with the United States and Europe plummet, China is starting a new wave of diplomacy in Africa, where it dominates trade with resource-rich nations and keeps friendly ties with mostly authoritarian leaders, unfettered by competition from the West. China’s campaign to cultivate African allegiances is part of a great geopolitical competition, which has intensified since the start of the war in Ukraine. Already fiercely vying for loyalties in Asia, Beijing and Washington are now jockeying broadly for influence, with the United States, Europe and their democratic allies positioned against China, Russia, Iran and other autocracies. Heightening the competition, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, began a tour of Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo Sunday. New York Times

Why Did Al-Shabab Attack Inside Ethiopia?
Al-Shabab militants who crossed into eastern Ethiopia last week are still active inside the country despite claims by local officials that the force has been “destroyed,” say officials and security experts. Officials on Monday said security forces clashed with al-Shabab fighters in Ethiopia’s Somali state at Lasqurun village, near the border town of Feerfeer. The state’s president, Mustafe Omer, was seen meeting with units of federal military forces who were dispatched to the area. About 500 al-Shabab fighters, including many who originally came from Ethiopia’s Somali and Oromia regions, entered Ethiopia last Wednesday, multiple security and former al-Shabab operatives told VOA Somali’s “The Investigative Dossier” program. The incursion is the militant group’s biggest-ever operation inside Ethiopia. Omar Mohamed Abu Ayan, a former al-Shabab official who now lives in Sweden, says the incursion was likely mounted for propaganda reasons. He said the Islamist militant group, which has been fighting Somali governments and African Union peacekeepers since 2007, wants to show it can operate in Ethiopia as well as Somalia and Kenya. “If they erect their flag that will be a victory for them,” Abu Ayan said. “They have been dreaming of penetrating Ethiopia for a long time, and to erect their flag. It will mean a huge victory. This will encourage global jihadists to support them.” Voice of America

Macron Says France Will Stand by Africa on Security Issues
French President Emmanuel Macron has wrapped up a meeting with Paul Biya, his counterpart in Cameroon, the first port of call on his three nation tour. He reiterated that France would continue to support Africa’s security needs. Macron landed late on Monday on a three-day tour that will also take him to Benin and Guinea-Bissau. He headed into a meeting on Tuesday with Cameroon’s 89-year-old president, Paul Biya, who has been in power since 1982. Cameroon, a former French colony and close ally, has been troubled by attacks. “We will not relinquish the security of the African continent,” Macron said in a speech. “France remains resolutely committed to the security of the continent, acting in support and at the request of our African partners,” Macron told a gathering of French expatriates in the capital Yaounde. France is reconfiguring its posture in the Sahel after falling out with the military junta in Mali, the epicentre of a 11-year-old jihadist campaign in the region. After a pullout from Mali that is expected to be completed in the coming weeks, France’s Barkhane anti-jihadist force will have around 2,500 troops in the Sahel, just under half of the deployment at its peak, say French officers. The force will also make a tactical shift, acting more in a support role for local forces than in taking the lead, they say. RFI

Cameroonians Hold Varied Opinions After French President’s Visit
Cameroonians are holding varied opinions following the just concluded diplomatic visit by French President Emmanuel Macron. Macron on Tuesday declared his country would support Africa’s need for security as he embarked on a three-nation tour aimed at renewing France’s relations with the continent. “I followed French President Emmanuel Macron’s speech, Etienne Enouga a merchant says. And the only thing that we Cameroonian youth ask this president is for mutual respect towards our leaders, because they are elected by us and it is inadmissible that during one of his walks in France, he made disparaging remarks towards our President of the Republic.” Cameroon is also faced with insurgency in the southern English-speaking majority region where some insurgents seek to secede among other demands. Some Cameroonians, like reporter Noumsi Clément, now hope that France will help mediate the crisis for a better stability in the central African country: “We hope that France will really support Cameroon in this fight against insecurity in the northwest and southwest and even in the far north, because Cameroon needs it. And it is important that Cameroon, being the leader of Central Africa, remains a haven for peace as it has always been.” Just like any other country in the world, Cameroon’s economy has been ravaged by both Covid 19 and the war in Ukraine. Apart from that, unemployment, instability and lack of funds are hindering its growth. AfricaNews with AFP

Nigeria: Expect Another #EndSARS Uprising If ASUU Strike Lingers, NLC, Falana Tell FG
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned the Federal Government to prepare for another people’s uprising akin to the #EndSARS protest in 2020 if quick steps are not taken to resolve the ongoing industrial actions by staff unions in the nation’s tertiary institutions. The warning was issued, yesterday, by the Chairperson of NLC Lagos Council, Funmi Sessi, during the solidarity rally organised by Congress in support of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other varsity unions. She said: “Our statement is simple. This is just a warning action. If the government fails to conclude all the negotiations and agreements with all the workers in our tertiary education within two weeks, they will witness more protests and rallies all over the country, they will also witness the annoyance, anger and frustration of Nigerians. This government has pushed so many Nigerians into depression. We say enough is enough, we can no longer bear this hardship again.” Rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), who joined labour in the protest at Ikeja, said the fight is for quality education in Nigeria. He described President Muhammadu Buhari as a president, who is junketing around the world, while the masses are suffering after the administration has brought unprecedented depression and hardship into the country. Guardian Nigeria

Burkina Faso’s Compaoré Apologises to Family of Murdered Sankara
Burkina Faso’s former president Blaise Compaoré, sentenced in absentia to life in jail for the 1987 assassination of revolutionary icon Thomas Sankara, has apologised to the ex-leader’s family. “I ask the Burkinabe people for forgiveness for all the acts I may have committed during my tenure, and especially the family of my brother and friend Thomas Sankara,” he said in a message read out by government spokesman Lionel Bilgo on Tuesday. The message was brought by a government delegation on a visit from Côte d’Ivoire, where Compaoré has been living in exile since being ousted from power by mass protests in 2014. Compaoré seized control of the West African nation in a 1987 coup in which Sankara was gunned down by a hit squad. The violent death of his former comrade-in-arms was a taboo subject throughout Compaoré’s 27 years in power. RFI

MSF Says No Response from Ethiopia Govt to Murder of Staff
A senior Doctors Without Borders official who visited Ethiopia said on Tuesday that federal authorities refused to meet her to discuss their investigation into the killing of three staff from the medical charity in the war-torn Tigray region. The bodies of three people – two Ethiopians and a Spaniard – were found next to their burnt and bullet-ridden car in June 2021 in Tigray, which has been in the throes of a humanitarian crisis since conflict erupted there 20 months ago. The non-profit, known by its French acronym MSF, said in January that the killing of its staff was “intentional” and not a case of crossfire, following a preliminary internal probe. “We are distraught that, after more than one year of engagement with the Ethiopian authorities, we still do not have any credible answers on what happened to our colleagues that day,” Paula Gil, President of MSF Spain, said in a statement. Gil, who concluded a six-day trip to Ethiopia at the weekend, said she “was not granted permission from the authorities to visit Tigray.” “I was also unable to meet any representatives from the Federal Government to continue the discussion about their investigation into the killing of our three staff.” AFP

Egypt Attempts to Rope In Somalia on Nile Waters Dispute
Egypt will help rebuild Somalia’s education and support its security apparatus and economic development, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said when he hosted his Somali counterpart Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on Monday. The pledge came amid discussions on the Nile waters, specifically the continuing controversy surrounding Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (Gerd) on the Blue Nile. The Egyptian leader noted that President Mohamud opposes unilateral decisions on the use of the Nile waters. According to a statement from his palace, he and his guest “stressed the necessity to reach a binding deal on Gerd filling and operation without delay based on the UNSC presidential statement in September 2021 in order to preserve regional security and stability.” He was referring to the 2021 stand by the United Nations Security Council, which asked Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to return to the negotiating table and agree on how the mega dam would work without hurting downstream countries. East African

S. Sudan’s Kiir, Machar Agree to Extend Transitional Period: Aide
South Sudan President Salva Kiir and the First Vice President Riek Machar have agreed to extend the current transitional period, citing the need to complete critical benchmarks for the conduct of elections. A well-placed sourced within the presidency said the two leaders agreed to extend the term of the present coalition government for 32 months. “His Excellency, the President of the Republic [of South Sudan] and His Excellency, the First Vice President have agreed in principle to extend the lifespan of the current transitional government national unity. The other vice presidents, actually the presidency as a whole agreed”, the presidential aide told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday. The process, further stated the source, will now be forwarded to the parties signatory to the peace agreement to discuss and incorporate their views before it is taken to the council of ministers, Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R-JMEC) and then parliament for rectification. Sudan Tribune

Steps Taken Towards a New, Independent Sudanese Journalist Syndicate
During a well-attended meeting of the General Assembly of Sudanese Journalists in El Amarat in Khartoum on Saturday, the journalists took significant steps towards the establishment of a new independent Journalist Syndicate. The General Assembly selected a committee to supervise the elections of the Executive Committee of the new Journalists Syndicate. The step was hailed on social media as an important democratic achievement. “Despite Sudan’s military coup, civilians strive to create & implement democratic institutions. The latest example: ahead of journalist syndicate elections –the first in 33 years– journalists elected a management body to oversee the process,” ‘Electoral systems nerd’ Amal Hamdan commented in a tweet. “While we focus on seeing big democratic changes in Sudan, we shouldn’t neglect to celebrate small wins,” Kholood Khair, broadcaster and managing partner of think-and-do tank Insight Strategy Partners in Khartoum, tweeted. “Members of the journalists’ union, long controlled by regime’s allies, elect a management body to oversee elections [..]. Vital building blocks of democracy.” Press freedom has been under threat more since the October 25 military coup and various journalists have been assaulted or detained for doing their work whilst some media outlets faced closure. Dabanga

FFC Admit They Made Mistakes During Sudan’s Transition
The Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) have acknowledged making significant mistakes that call for apologies to the Sudanese people during the two-year period in which they ruled the country, and pledged to work to avoid them in the future. The FFC organized a four-day workshop during which the formerly ruling coalition reviewed its performance from 2019 to 2021 before a coup carried out by the military component of the transitional government in October of last year. “Mistakes have been made in the transitional period. The Forces for Freedom and Change bear a part of them, must recognise that, and apologize (to the Sudanese people) as well as put in place mechanisms to avoid repeating mistakes,” reads a statement released at the end of the workshop co-organised with Aldemocrati newspaper. FFC several leaders and some of those who were part of the two Hamdok governments spoke about their experience during the past two years. The debates and discussions were broadcast on social media. Sudan Tribune

South Africa: Botswana Offers Off-Peak Electricity to Supplement Eskom Supply
After President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an intention to import electricity from neighbouring countries to supplement South Africa’s constrained power supply, Botswana wants South Africa to even buy more from it. Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) wants Eskom to buy its off-peak generated power since electricity can’t be stored on any scale and fluctuation can put strain on generators. “BPC has therefore started engaging Eskom to purchase the excess electricity supply generated during off-peak times (weekends) in order to protect our plants against load management fluctuations and also to ensure that surplus electricity has a secured market,” BPC said in a statement. On Monday night, Ramaphosa said: “Neighbouring countries in southern Africa, such as Botswana and Zambia, have more electricity capacity than they require for their economies. Eskom will now import power from these countries through the southern African power pool arrangement.” News24

New York Asks WHO to Re-Name ‘Stigmatizing’ Monkeypox
New York City asked the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday to rename the monkeypox virus to avoid stigmatizing patients who might then hold off on seeking care…The WHO had floated the idea of changing the name of the virus, which is related to the eradicated smallpox virus, during a press conference last month, a proposal Vasan mentioned in his letter. Vasan referenced the “painful and racist history within which terminology like (monkeypox) is rooted for communities of color.” He pointed to the fact that monkeypox did not actually originate in primates, as the name might suggest, and recalled the negative effects of misinformation during the early days of the HIV epidemic and the racism faced by Asian communities that was exacerbated by former president Donald Trump calling Covid-19 the “China virus.” “Continuing to use the term ‘monkeypox’ to describe the current outbreak may reignite these traumatic feelings of racism and stigma — particularly for Black people and other people of color, as well as members of the LGBTQIA+ communities, and it is possible that they may avoid engaging in vital health care services because of it,” Vasan said. AFP

Africom Commander on Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Wagner Group, and Security in Africa
On 26 July, the outgoing Commander of the United States military’s Africa Command, General Stephen Townsend, expressed his stance on US troop deployment in Africa and current security threats across the continent. Speaking during a media conference from Stuttgart, Germany, he said, “President [Biden] recently authorized the US Department of Defence to return a small, persistent US military presence to Somalia. We are in the initial stages of that effort. Our mission in Somalia has not changed. Our forces will continue equipping, training, advising, and assisting our Somali partners to degrade al-Shabaab, an arm of al-Qaeda.” Townsend recognized that, “Africa’s located at a global crossroads and its security environment is complex, ripe with both opportunities and challenges alike. Misinformation is one problem, in the region, in misunderstanding how the US partners with African countries.” America plans to continue helping Djibouti and Kenya, and US regional partners to empower Somalian security forces and the AU mission, the African Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), to fight and degrade al-Shabaab. DefenceWeb



Photo: Adam Jones