Africa Media Review for June 10, 2024

South Africa’s Seismic Political Shift
South Africa’s pivotal election has thrust the country into uncharted waters. The country now faces risks and opportunities requiring leadership, reaffirmation of democratic principles, and South Africans’ renowned capacity for compromise. South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in 30 years in a pivotal election that has reconfigured the country’s political architecture. Embarking into unchartered territory for the still young democracy, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said the ANC will seek to form a government of national unity. … Not to be overlooked in the scrutiny of the outcome was the evenhanded and transparent process in which the hard-fought election was conducted. All parties were able to campaign freely, get their messages out to voters in person and via multiple media platforms, and maintain ongoing access to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). … Regardless of the ultimate configuration of the new government, South Africa and the ANC have provided an exemplary display of how a competitive electoral process can be conducted for the continent—and the world. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Last Hospital in Darfur’s El-Fasher Shuts Down after RSF Loots It, Steals Ambulance
The last operating hospital in western Sudan’s El-Fasher has been closed after an attack by paramilitaries trying to seize the key Darfur city, medical charity Doctors Without Borders has said. War has raged for more than a year between the regular military under army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces led by his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo. El-Fasher in North Darfur is the only state capital in the vast western region not under RSF control, and is a key humanitarian hub for a region on the brink of famine. “On Saturday, MSF and the ministry of health suspended all activities in South Hospital, El-Fasher, North Darfur, after RSF soldiers stormed the facility, opened fire and looted it, including stealing an MSF ambulance,” said the NGO in a statement posted late Sunday on X. El-Fasher has seen sporadic clashes since the war broke out in April 2023, but fierce fighting reignited on 10 May in what UN chief Antonio Guterres has called “an alarming new chapter” in the conflict. Since then, “at least 192 people have been killed and more than 1 230 wounded” in the city, according to a conservative estimate by the medical charity. AFP

Sudan Could Soon Have 10 Million Internally Displaced People, UN Agency Says
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) recorded 9.9 million people internally displaced across Sudan this week. Prior to the war, there were already 2.8 million internally displaced people, the IOM said. In total, about 12 million people have been forced to flee their homes, with more than two million crossing into neighbouring countries, including Egypt and Chad. “How much suffering and loss of life must the people of Sudan endure before the world takes notice? Isn’t 10 million internally displaced enough to compel urgent global action?” Mohamed Refaat, Sudan Chief of Mission for the IOM, said. “Every one of those 10 million displaced life represents a profound human tragedy that demands urgent attention.” Refaat added that more than half of the internally displaced people in Sudan were woman, and a quarter of them children under five. He said aid agencies were struggling to keep up with the rising needs. … “Serious concerns are mounting about the long-term impact of displacement on Sudan’s social and economic fabric.” UN agencies have warned that Sudan is at “imminent risk of famine”, with around 18 million people acutely hungry, including 3.6 million children who are acutely malnourished. RFI

At Least 80 People Killed by Suspected ADF Rebels in DRC
At least 80 people were killed between Tuesday, May 4, and Friday, May 7, in attacks by Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in the villages of the Baswagha-Madiwe group, Beni territory (North Kivu), in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The attacks mainly happened on Friday night in the villages of Masala, Mapasana, and Mahini and were attributed to the ADF according to Lieutenant Colonel Mak Hazukay, an army spokesman in Congo’s North Kivu province. These rebels also killed 30 other civilians in Masau, Mununze, Kabweke, and Manlese in the past two weeks. The assailants also stole 25 motorcycles and set fire to several houses during their incursions. The populations of the entities attacked by these rebels fled their homes to take refuge in Kyatsaba, some neighborhoods in the western part of the city of Beni, and in Mabalako, where the General Reference Hospital is overwhelmed with patients, including the injured. Since May 3, the civil society of Beni territory reports that 123 civilians have been killed in various attacks attributed to ADF rebels in the Bapakombe-Pendekali region, in Mangina, Mantumbi, Kudukudu, Kalmango, and Beu-Manyama. AfricaNews

Fighting between Two Somalia Clans Kills at Least 55
A violent clash over the weekend between two clans in central Somalia has killed at least 55 people and injured another 155, residents and medical officials said on Monday. Somalia’s federal government is not only struggling to contain violence unleashed by the Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group, but is also facing clan-based clashes over control of land and water in the Horn of Africa nation. The fighting between the Dir and Marihan clans, which used to jointly fight al Shabaab years ago, erupted on Saturday in Abudwaq and Herale towns in Galmudug region over grazing land and watering points, said Farah Nur, a clan elder and resident of Herale. “Government forces came late. Unfortunately 55 people died, this includes both clans,” he told Reuters. … “There is (a) ceasefire but the mood is not good. A permanent ceasefire is needed,” Sadia Hussein, a mother of four, told Reuters from Abudwaq. Reuters

Stranded Migrants Face Violence as Tunisia Blocks Europe Route
For many migrants who’ve long dreamed of Europe, one of the last stops is an expanse of olive trees on North Africa’s Mediterranean coastline. However, in Tunisia, less than 100 miles (161 kilometers) from the Italian islands that form the European Union’s outermost borders, for many that dream has become a nightmare. Under black tarps covered with blankets and ropes, men, women and children seek shelter from sunlight and wait for their chance to board one of the iron boats that paid smugglers use to transport people to Italy. Having fled war, poverty, climate change or persecution, they find themselves trapped in Tunisia — unable to reach Europe but without money to fund a return home. Based on unofficial estimates, the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration said it believes 15,000 to 20,000 migrants are stranded in rural olive groves near the central Tunisian coastline. … [Mory] Keita arrived at an encampment called Kilometer-19 earlier this year. Named for a highway marker denoting its distance from Sfax, Kilometer-19 is notorious for clashes between migrant groups, he said. “Machete brawls” regularly break out between groups that self-sort by nationality — including Cameroonians, Ivorians, Guineans and Sudanese. AfricaNews/AP

Mauritania: The New Transit Route to the EU for Migrants
Thousands of Africans continue to try to reach Europe either over the Sahara desert or via sea, facing inhumane conditions. EU wants to discourage the trend but more and more migrants are now using Mauritania as a route. Lala grew up in Senegal and Mauritania, where she has long dreamed of a better life. She had saved enough money to pay for a pirogue — a traditional fishing boat that human traffickers use for their businesses. The small fishing boat was to take her from the capital, Nouakchott, to Spain’s Canary Islands. She was looking forward to a future in the EU. … According to her, the small boats brought to the shore to take the migrants, can accommodate only 20 people on board. “Not everyone could get on because there were so many of us, more than 100 or so people. Only 80 were lucky enough to get on,” she said. … But Lala’s ordeal did not end after she managed to get on board the boat transporting them across the sea. After four days at sea, drifting without fuel, she and other migrants ended up on a beach in northern Mauritania, where authorities held them. … Lala was unable to reach Europe as she had anticipated. The crossing she attempted is one of the most dangerous migratory routes in the world. … In April this year, the EU granted €210 million ($226 million) in aid to Mauritania, nearly €60 million will be invested in the fight against illegal immigration to Europe. … many migrants, mostly from the Central Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea, are picking Nouadhibou in the northwest of Mauritania, making it a migratory crossroads and transit city. In this city of 140,0000 inhabitants, some 30,000 are migrants. DW

Sadat, the ‘Turkish Wagner’ Whose Shadow Hangs over West Africa
The mercenaries in the private security company close to Turkish President Erdogan could play a growing role in Niger and Mali, following their operations in Libya and Azerbaijan. Are pro-Turkish Syrian mercenaries operating in Niger? The suspicion, not yet confirmed by conclusive documents, was first raised at the beginning of May with the announcement by the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH) of the first dead repatriated to the country. The OSDH reported they were Syrian victims deployed in the Sahel region in the name of Turkey’s geopolitical designs. Since then, the OSDH, an information center linked to the Syrian opposition, has regularly reported arrivals in Niger of “over a thousand” of these Syrian fighters from Sadat, a private Turkish security company close to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. While Turkey’s offensive in Africa is an old story, where security deals blend with economic contracts, humanitarian aid and the promotion of an Islam similar to the one envisioned by the Muslim Brotherhood, renewed attention seems to be focused on the Sahel at a time when the departure of the French and American forces is inviting new strategic players. “In Niger, Syrian mercenaries are supposed to guard mines, oil installations or military bases,” said OSDH director Rami Abdel-Rahman. “But they then find themselves involved in fighting against jihadist groups. Nine of these Syrian fighters have died to date.” Le Monde

In Burkina Faso, a Growing Number of Children Are Traumatized by War
When armed men entered Safi’s village in northern Burkina Faso and began firing, she hid in her home with her four children. The gunmen found them and let them live — to suffer the guilt of survival — after killing her husband and other relatives. Safi, whose last name has been withheld for security reasons, is among 2 million people displaced in the West African country by growing violence between Islamic extremists and security forces. About 60% of the displaced are children. Many are traumatized, but mental health services are limited and children are often overlooked for treatment. … Mass killings of villagers have become common in northern Burkina Faso as fighters linked to the Islamic State group and al-Qaida attack the army and volunteer forces. Those forces can turn on villages accused of cooperating with the enemy. More than 20,000 people have been killed since the fighting began a decade ago, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, a U.S.-based nonprofit group. VOA/AP

Mali Financial Workers Union Extends Strike
A financial worker’s union in Mali on Saturday called on employees of banks, insurance companies, micro-finance institutions and petrol stations to extend their strike until its secretary-general is released from detention. The National Union of Banks, Insurance Companies, Financial Institutions and Businesses of Mali (SYNABEF) held a strike from Thursday to Saturday after its secretary-general, Hamadoun Bah, was arrested on Wednesday. … Separately, a coalition of political parties and associations known as the Synergy of Action for Mali has called for protests against the high cost of living and ongoing electricity cuts. The West African country has been under military rule since a coup in 2020. Tensions have risen in recent months over the authorities’ failure to organise promised elections and their moves to restrict political and civic space. Reuters

22 Chinese Nationals Sentenced to Prison in Zambia for Cybercrimes
A Zambian court on Friday sentenced 22 Chinese nationals to long prison terms for cybercrimes that included internet fraud and online scams targeting Zambians and other people from Singapore, Peru and the United Arab Emirates. The Magistrates Court in the capital, Lusaka, sentenced them for terms ranging from seven to 11 years. The court also fined them between $1,500 and $3,000 after they pleaded guilty to charges of computer-related misrepresentation, identity fraud and illegally operating a network or service on Wednesday. A man from Cameroon also was sentenced and fined on the same changes. They were part of a group of 77 people, the majority of them Zambians, arrested in April over what police described as a “sophisticated internet fraud syndicate.” … Officers from the commission, police, the immigration department and the anti-terrorism unit in April swooped on a Chinese-run business in an upmarket suburb of Lusaka, arresting the 77, including those sentenced Friday. Authorities recovered over 13,000 local and foreign mobile phone SIM cards, two firearms and 78 rounds of ammunition during the raid. VOA/AP

Why a Nigerian Woman Faces Jail Time for Reviewing Tomato Puree
On September 16, 2023, Chioma Okoli posted a review of the Nagiko tomato puree she bought at a street market in Sangotedo, Lagos, on her Facebook page. She was telling the few thousand followers on her small-business page that it tasted more sugary than other products, asking those who had tried it what they thought. … Two days later, the post had garnered more than 2,500 comments, to her surprise. That Sunday, as she was stepping out of church with her husband, she was accosted by two men and one woman in plainclothes who said they were police officers, she said. They took her to the Ogudu police station still dressed in her church attire. “They took me into one room, I sat down and they brought more than 20 pages and told me those are my charges. I had forgotten about the post, then I remembered,” the 39-year-old mother of three told Al Jazeera. “They were charging me with extortion, blackmailing and that I run a syndicate.” Okoli is just one of several Nigerians who have been arrested, detained or charged for allegedly violating the country’s cybercrime laws, which are meant to secure critical national information as well as protect citizens from cyberstalking. But rights groups say more and more, it’s being used against journalists, activists, dissidents and even ordinary people publishing reports and expressing their freedom of speech. Al Jazeera

People Starve as Zimbabwe Drought Deepens
[…] Zimbabwe is one of a band of countries in Southern Africa experiencing food shortages caused by the drought, which has been exacerbated by the El Niño climate phenomenon. Last month, President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared a state of disaster, saying the country needed at least $2 billion to respond to the drought. At least 7.6 million people, almost half of the population, are in need of aid. The UN has appealed for $429.3 million in aid. The UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) also launched an urgent $84.9 million appeal last month “to provide lifesaving interventions … amid a complex humanitarian crisis exacerbated by water and food shortages”. “Zimbabwe has been experiencing drought conditions now for a few months with failing harvests in key areas of agricultural production,” Unicef’s Nicholas Alipui said. AFP

IMF Mission to Assess New ZiG Currency’s Impact on Zimbabwe’s Economy
AN International Monetary Fund (IMF) consultation mission will later this June visit Zimbabwe to assess the country’s economic performance on the back of a newly introduced currency, the Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG). ZiG has been the official currency since April 8, 2024, backed by US$575 million worth of hard assets: foreign currencies, gold, and other precious metals. … The ZiG is the sixth currency to be introduced in 15 years as Zimbabwe battles galloping inflation. …[T]he Institute of Security Studies (ISS) argues Zimbabwe’s new ZiG is doomed by overall lack of transparency. “Economic mismanagement has stripped citizens’ trust in the government and threatens the new currency’s viability. “The struggle to stabilise Zimbabwe’s economy continues, with no signs of relief for ordinary citizens. The recently introduced currency, ZiG, seems destined to suffer the same fate as the five previous attempts to create a local currency,” ISS has noted. Zimbabwe’s economy thrives on informal trade, with most traders operating outside the banking system and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)’s decision to introduce the ZiG electronically before hard currency sparked panic and non-availability of the new currency continues to plague markets. Among informal traders, the ZiG is not readily accepted, just as it is not in the public transportation which is struggling with change of smaller ZiG denominations. “ZiG has brought confusion and uncertainty,” said one trader. New Zimbabwe

Africa Sees Rise in E-commerce, Digital Marketplace
Online shopping is booming across Africa, with the digital marketplace estimated to grow to $75 billion by 2025. Big players like Amazon want to capitalize, but how can the continent unlock its e-commerce potential? Africans are gradually embracing the convenience of online shopping. However, this trend is still in its early stages in Africa, compared with more established markets such as Asia, Europe and the United States. Projections by the McKinsey Global Institute suggest that by 2025, e-commerce could account for 10% of all retail sales in Africa’s largest economies: Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt. But according to experts, though the e-commerce sector holds significant potential in Africa, it faces challenges related to cultural and logistical factors. These considerations are crucial when customizing products and services to align with local preferences. … Internet penetration has grown in Africa, with around 570 million internet users in 2022 — a number that more than doubled compared to 2015, according to statista. … But for e-commerce to thrive on the continent, some barriers need to be addressed. Some Nigerians who DW spoke with pointed out that credibility and efficient delivery services are crucial to customer satisfaction. DW

Fiber-optic Leap Bridges African Digital Divide
Though tech giants have invested heavily in high-performance digital infrastructure — more cell towers, faster networks — Africans across the continent still grapple with sluggish internet speeds and expensive data. Tech companies such as Google and Facebook parent Meta are investing in new data highways and speeds for Africa. The first Google Cloud data center on the African continent has been up and running since January in Johannesburg, South Africa. “The big US tech giants have recognized the existing connectivity gaps and the need for additional investment associated with this as a major business opportunity,” Tevin Tafese, data scientist at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies, told DW. “Prominent examples are Google and Meta, whose major cable projects are aimed at reducing the cost of accessing their own service in a largely untapped African market,” said Tafese. Google had committed $1 billion in 2022 to driving Africa’s digital transformation, including undersea cables for faster internet connections. One of the projects is called Umoja — named after the Swahili word for unity — and aims to be the first ever fiber-optic cable connecting Africa directly to Australia. Anchored in Kenya, the fiber-optic cable will run through Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, from where it will continue along the Indian Ocean bed to Australia. DW

Senegal & DR Congo Pick Up World Cup Qualifying Wins
Senegal moved to the top of their group in African qualifying for the 2026 World Cup after Habib Diallo’s header gave the Teranga Lions a 1-0 win in Mauritania. The striker got in front of his marker on the edge of the six-yard box to meet an inswinging cross from Tottenham midfielder Pape Matar Sarr in the 27th minute in Nouakchott. There was a lengthy delay in completing the match after frustrated home fans threw objects on to the pitch in the second half and proceedings were halted. DR Congo are a point behind Senegal in the Group B table after the Leopards registered a 1-0 home win against Togo, with Brentford forward Yoane Wissa superbly setting up Meschack Elia’s early goal. Meanwhile, Tunisia’s perfect start came to an end with a goalless draw away against Namibia, but the Carthage Eagles remain top of Group H on 10 points.All nine group winners at the end of the 10-match campaign are guaranteed a place at the 2026 finals, while another African side could book a spot in the United States, Mexico and Canada via an intercontinental tournament. BBC