Africa Media Review for July 29, 2022

Climate Change Is Killing More Elephants than Poaching, Kenyan Officials Say
Illegal ivory poaching once posed a significant threat to Kenya’s elephants. But now the giants of the animal kingdom are facing an even bigger risk: climate change. As Kenya battles its worst drought in four decades, the crisis is killing 20 times more elephants than poaching, according to officials. They cite desiccated carcasses found in Tsavo National Park, where much wildlife has fled in recent years in search of water…And it’s not just elephants that are dying as a result of human-caused climate change. Seven million livestock in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia have died since last fall, according to a recent report by USAID’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network. Washington Post

4th Edition of Africa Climate Talks Kicks Off as the Continent Endures Damaging Weather Events
African nations opened climate talks in the Mozambican capital Maputo on Wednesday to identify their priorities and come up with a common position ahead of the United Nations climate summit in Egypt in November, known as COP27…The talks come as the continent has grappled with devastating cyclones in the south and now faces a debilitating drought across the east and Horn of Africa. The continent of 1.2 billion people, which represents 17% of the world’s population, contributes less than 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions but suffers mightily from extreme weather events, which scientists have warned will become more frequent due to climate change… The forum will focus on using Indigenous knowledge and land practices for conservation and adaption efforts, rather than relying on external help, said Jean-Paul Adam, the head of climate at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Indigenous voices will play a critical role in the talks, added James Murombedzi, the head of the African Climate Policy Centre. He said that their experiences will help strengthen Africa’s standing at the international climate talks in November. The talks include policy makers and regional institutions as well as grassroots activists and representatives from private sector. AfricaNews with AP

An Oil Auction in Congo Bodes Ill for the Climate
One snag in Mr Budimbu’s case is that the vast resources of Congo, one of the world’s most corrupt countries, have benefited only a few. Proceeds from copper, cobalt and diamond exports rarely trickle down to the more than 60m people (almost three-quarters of the population) who survive on less than $1.90 a day. Many of the communities in the new oil exploration blocks have not been informed, let alone consulted, about the government’s auction plans. In Upemba National Park local chiefs heard of them only from Greenpeace, an environmental group. Some activists fear the worst. Faustin Nyebone, who is based in the eastern city of Goma for aiced, another environmental group, doubts that the proceeds from future oil production will end up in the right place. Others think the auction will not attract many bidders because of Congo’s risky business environment and difficulties sending oil to global markets. Economist

DRC-Rwanda: US to Dispatch Blinken to Calm Tensions
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda next month to try to tamp down escalating tensions between the two countries, The Africa Report has learned. On the agenda: the M23 rebellion, elections, and mining contracts. The decision to dispatch America’s top diplomat to the region despite a rash of geopolitical crises starting with the war in Ukraine is a telling sign of the Joe Biden administration’s deep concern that the crisis in eastern Congo could spiral out of control. This will only be Blinken’s second trip to the continent, following his visit to Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal in November. US and Congolese sources tell The Africa Report that Blinken is expected to fly to Africa in the first half of August. The State Department and Rwandan authorities did not respond to requests for comment. Africa Report

Lavrov Lashes Out at West on Africa Tour
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov lashed out at Western countries Wednesday as he wrapped up a four-nation trip to Africa with a stop in Ethiopia’s capital. Moscow is seeking to bolster support from African countries, who have largely declined to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. His visit came as the U.S. announced nearly half a billion dollars in additional aid for drought relief in Ethiopia. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24th and its blockade of Ukraine’s ports massively disrupted grain shipments, trapping millions of tons of grain and causing global commodity prices to soar….Nataliya Bugayova, a Russia research fellow at the Institute for the Study of War, dismissed Lavrov’s remarks as an attempt to reshape the narrative on the food crisis during his Africa tour.”Russia’s blockade of grain in Ukraine’s ports and deliberate destruction of Ukrainian agricultural capabilities is at the center of this effort, as Russia is trying to falsely link Ukraine’s grain exports with sanctions against Russia, and to falsely frame Ukraine as a party, as a responsible party, in the global food crisis,” she told VOA. Voice of America

‘New Cold War’: Russia and West Vie for Influence in Africa
Russian, French and American leaders are crisscrossing Africa to win support for their positions on the war in Ukraine, waging what some say is the most intense competition for influence on the continent since the Cold War. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and French President Emmanuel Macron are each visiting several African countries this week. Samantha Power, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, went to Kenya and Somalia last week. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, will go to Ghana and Uganda next week. “It’s like a new Cold War is playing out in Africa, where the rival sides are trying to gain influence,” said William Gumede, director of Democracy Works, a foundation promoting good governance. Lavrov, in his travels across the continent where many countries are suffering drought and hunger, has sought to portray the West as the villain, blaming it for rising food prices, while the Western leaders have accused the Kremlin of cynically using food as a weapon and waging an imperial-style war of conquest — words calculated to appeal to listeners in post-colonial Africa. AP

China Spotlighted in Kenya’s Presidential Race
As campaigning gears up for Kenya’s August 9 presidential elections, the two main candidates are both focused on one key talking point – the economy – and this inevitably means the country’s controversial relationship with China is coming under the spotlight…At an economic forum in June, Ruto said, “Chinese nationals are roasting maize and selling mobile phones. We will deport all of them,” Agence France-Presse reported. As Africa’s biggest investor, China has been responsible for major infrastructure projects in Kenya, including the recently opened Nairobi Expressway and the controversial and expensive Chinese-built Standard Gauge Railway, which links the capital with the key port city of Mombasa. But the pro-China policies of current President Uhuru Kenyatta – with whom Ruto has fallen out – now mean Kenya now owes China billions of dollars. Ruto said he would cut government borrowing and promised to make public opaque contracts with China — something some Kenyan activists have even gone to court over. In contrast, Ruto’s opposition rival Raila Odinga — who has come up short in four previous presidential bids and is now backed by his former nemesis, Kenyatta — has been less strident on China. Voice of America

West Africa Bloc Chair Says Guinea Accepts Two-Year Transition
Umaro Sissoco Embalo, president of Guinea Bissau and current chairman of ECOWAS, speaking during Macron’s visit to his country said: “I was in Conakry with the President of the Commission (of ECOWAS) to make the military junta understand the decision of the summit of heads of state that the transition cannot exceed 24 months. They (the members of the junta) had proposed 36 months, but we succeeded in convincing them, and we did the same thing with Burkina Faso.” On the other hand, Ousmane Gaoual Diallo, Guinean minister and spokesman for the transitional government, said “neither the government nor the presidency confirm this information on the duration of the transition in Guinea”. Three leaders of the The National Front for the Defence of the Constitution, were arrested on July 5, provoking violent demonstrations that were some of the first since the junta seized power. All three were released after being found not guilty of contempt of court over comments they had posted on social media criticising the prosecutor’s office and the military-appointed parliament. AfricaNews with AFP

Anti-Junta Protests Paralyze Guinea Capital
Protests against Guinea’s junta and its handling of plans to return to democracy brought the capital to a standstill Thursday, with organizers saying one person was killed. The protest, planned last week, began ahead of comments by the chair of a regional bloc who claimed to have persuaded the junta to shorten its timeline for a return to democracy. The junta has not confirmed his comments. The National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) said one person had died after being hit by a bullet in the Conakry suburb of Hamdallaye, while several others were injured. The FNDC is an influential political coalition that had called the demonstrations to denounce the junta’s “unilateral management” of the return to civilian rule after it seized power in 2021. Authorities have not confirmed the death. Voice of America

Militants Kill 15 Soldiers, 3 Civilians in Two Mali Attacks
Islamist militants killed 15 soldiers and three civilians during two separate attacks in southwest Mali on Wednesday, the army said in a statement. Six soldiers died and 25 were wounded when militants assaulted a military camp in Sonkolo, a rural commune in the south-central Segou region, more than 300 kilometres (186 miles)north of the capital Bamako. Nine soldiers and three civilians were killed during an early morning attack on a different camp in the southwestern town of Kalumba, the army said. Another military base in the central town of Mopti also was attacked during the night, but the assailants were pushed back without casualties. All the attacks were eventually repelled and soldiers killed 48 of the militants in Sonkolo, the statement added. Militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State have repeatedly raided bases across Mali during a decade-long insurgency concentrated in the country’s north and centre. Reuters

Burkina Faso Could Be Next for Russia’s Wagner Group, U.S. Intel Fears
Burkina Faso could be the next target for Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group, two U.S. intelligence officials told Foreign Policy, after a military coup in January left the West African country increasingly isolated…“We assess that in the immediate to midterm, it is most likely going to be Burkina Faso that would reach out to Wagner and potentially request support,” said one senior U.S. intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing intelligence efforts. Hundreds of Russian mercenaries were dispatched to neighboring Mali in December of last year in the wake of a military coup, despite condemnation from the country’s Western partners, which have worked closely with the Malian government to quash rising extremism in the country in a pattern that has been replicated across the continent, where the group’s foot soldiers have since been accused of human rights abuses and the murder of civilians. Foreign Policy

Africa’s Alone in Monkeypox Deaths but Has No Vaccine Doses
Africa still does not have a single dose of the monkeypox vaccine even though it’s the only continent to have documented deaths from the disease that’s newly declared a global emergency, its public health agency announced Thursday. “Let us get vaccines onto the continent,” the acting head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ahmed Ogwell, said in a weekly media briefing. He described a situation where the African continent of 1.3 billion people is again being left behind in access to doses in an uncomfortable echo of the COVID-19 pandemic. Less than a week ago, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox an “extraordinary” situation that qualifies as a global health emergency. To date, more than 20,000 cases have been reported in 77 countries. More than 2,100 monkeypox cases have been recorded in 11 African countries and 75 people have died, the Africa CDC director said. AP

TheCable Wins Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge
The project seeks to empower news organisations to pioneer new thinking in online journalism, develop new paths to sustainability and better understand their communities. TheCable, Nigeria’s leading independent online newspaper, was selected for its Disability Inclusion News App (TheCable DINA) – an application designed to assist people with visual impairments, auditory challenges and other forms of disabilities…In total, five projects were selected from different newsrooms in Nigeria. HumAngle seeks to build a platform for unlimited access to conflict, humanitarian and development reports with data inserts, explainers and highly interactive reports while the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) — owned by ‘Fisayo Soyombo, former TheCable editor — aims to undertake a News Impact Project (NIP) to create a help desk for members of the public facing social injustice, such that they can have direct access to the newsroom.The Republic’s project is ATLAS — a digital platform which seeks to help newsrooms source and license quality images from photographers and photojournalists while Dubawa was selected for its plan to build an automated radio fact checker application that uses an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm to collate claims for human fact-checkers. Cable Nigeria



Photo: Adam Jones