Africa Media Review for June 14, 2023

Ten Years of the Yaoundé Protocol: Reflections on Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea
Gathered in Yaoundé, Cameroon in June 2013, representatives from 25 West and Central African governments in conjunction with the Regional Economic Communities, ECOWAS and ECCAS, pledged to strengthen their cooperation to curb illicit activities in the Gulf of Guinea. The resulting Yaoundé Protocol put forth a shared vision for addressing maritime challenges faced by the region. The agreement instituted the zonal security architecture needed to collaboratively patrol the waterways off the coast of West and Central Africa, which had been subjected to the highest rates of piracy of any region in the world. In an interview with the Africa Center, Dr. Assis Malaquias, a key facilitator of the Protocol, looks back on the significance of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct and its impact on the Gulf of Guinea’s declining piracy as well as on the region’s “culture of togetherness” in security collaboration. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

‘If This War Does Not Stop Immediately, the Sudanese State Will Totally Collapse’ – AU Commission
Kenya heads the troika on Sudan which is made up of South Sudan, Somalia and, the latest addition, Ethiopia. At the 14th ordinary meeting of IGAD in Djibouti on Sunday, the troika announced that it would seek to end the war in Sudan as soon as possible to avoid further loss of life and destruction of infrastructure. If the troika meets its set targets, it would be the most notable effort to end the war ahead of the United States and Saudi Arabia-led Jeddah talks. … [Kenyan President William Ruto] also announced that, in about two weeks, the troika would seek to convince the generals to allow a longer humanitarian corridor for aid to flow into areas that have been blockaded by the war. In the third week, he said, IGAD would be looking forward to inclusive talks leading to the return of civilians and a lasting peace. “In the next three weeks, we will begin the process of an inclusive national dialogue,” he said. … [Addressing the IGAD meeting, AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat] added that the AU had suspended Sudan from the AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC), as it did with all countries under the control of coup leaders, such as Mali. News24

UN Chief Seeks to Streamline Troubled Mali Peacekeeping Mission
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called Tuesday for maintaining but streamlining a peacekeeping mission in troubled Mali, whose military leaders have clashed with the West and turned to Russia. In a report to the Security Council, which will vote June 29 on extending one of the most dangerous UN missions, Guterres called for a “reconfiguration” of the effort known as MINUSMA first launched 10 years ago. “The Council could consider streamlining MINUSMA tasks around a limited set of priorities to improve its overall effectiveness until the end of the political transition,” promised by the junta by March 2024, Guterres said. In January, Guterres submitted a strategic review of MINUSMA at the request of the Security Council to assess options for a mission tasked with stabilizing a state that has come under heavy pressure from jihadist violence. With the security situation deteriorating, Guterres proposed three options including raising troop levels and pulling out the mission completely. In the end, he opted for a middle course. Defense Post with AFP

France Says Uncovers Major Disinformation Campaign by Russia
“France condemns these actions unworthy of a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council,” Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said. “The French authorities are working closely with their partners to defeat the hybrid warfare led by Russia,” she added. France has for several years sounded the alarm over alleged Russian disinformation campaigns in areas of Francophone Africa, particularly those where the Russian mercenary group Wagner has been active. The campaign was carried out by “Russian actors” with “state entities or entities affiliated to the Russian state” then working to amplify its impact, according to Colonna. “This campaign is based in particular on the creation of fake web pages impersonating national media and government sites as well as the creation of false accounts on social networks,” she said. At least four French daily newspapers — Le Parisien, Le Figaro, Le Monde and 20 Minutes — were victims of the operation. Other major media were also targeted, particularly German ones including Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Der Spiegel and Bild. … The campaign involved techniques including producing fake articles on a page identical in all respects to those of the legitimate sites of media organisations, but with different domain names — for example .ltd instead of .fr. The technique is known as typosquatting. AFP

Migrant Deaths on Middle East, North Africa Routes Highest since 2017, International Organization for Migration Says
Nearly 3,800 people died on migration routes within and from the Middle East and North Africa last year, the highest number recorded there since 2017, according to data published on Tuesday by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The United Nations migration agency’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) recorded 3,789 deaths in 2022 along sea and land routes in the region, including crossings of the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea. It said the recorded death toll – which was 11% higher than that recorded in 2021 and the highest since 4,255 documented six years ago – was likely much higher in reality due to scarce official data and limited access to migration routes for civil society and international organizations. “This alarming death toll on migration routes within and from the MENA region demands immediate attention and concerted efforts to enhance the safety and protection of migrants,” said Othman Belbeisi, IOM Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. Reuters

Ethiopia: Enforced Disappearances Rise in Ethiopia, Says Rights Commission
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission has called for an end to what it calls a rising trend of enforced disappearances in the country. The Ethiopian government has yet to respond to the commission’s report, which says at least 12 people have been arrested or abducted under unclear circumstances. In a report released June 5, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said the enforced disappearances have happened across Amhara and Oromia regions, as well as in the capital, Addis Ababa. Imad Abdulfetah, regional director for the commission, said the disappearances seem to be related to the war in the northern Tigray region, which ended last year following an African Union-brokered peace deal, and ethnic conflicts elsewhere. “Primarily, these became more common in the aftermath of the conflicts in the country,” Abdulfetah said. “These incidents are connected to the conflict in one way or the other. So, this one year or a half — at most not more than two years — since this became widespread.” VOA

How Emefiele, Nigeria’s Powerful Central Bank Chief Lost His Seat
Last Friday Nigeria’s new President Bola Tinubu suspended the country’s Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele. On Saturday, Nigeria’s secret police confirmed the erstwhile top banker has been arrested and is in custody for interrogation. The charges have not been made public, but a government press release cited “an ongoing investigation of his office and planned reforms in the financial sector of the economy” as reasons for the suspension. Appointed in 2014 by then-President Goodluck Johnathan to head the central bank of Africa’s biggest economy, Emefiele became the second-longest-serving governor of the bank after his tenure was renewed by former President Muhammadu Buhari. Buhari’s administration between 2015 and 2023 led Nigeria into two recessions. Inflation hit an 18-year record high of 22.22 percent, and the country’s debt profile soared to more than $150bn, also a record and more than three times the debt left by the previous government, according to the Debt Management Office. Emefiele served under Buhari for eight years, overseeing Nigeria’s biggest economic downturn. … “I think that the real disaster of Emefiele was not necessarily in monetary policy, but in the destruction of the independence of the central bank,” said SMB Intelligence’s Nwanze. “In the foreseeable future, the office will be a political tool and that really is Emefiele’s legacy.” Al Jazeera

Wedding Guests Among at Least 103 Killed in Boat Accident in Nigeria
More than 100 people died, including many who were returning from a wedding ceremony, after a river boat transporting them capsized in the early hours of Monday in Nigeria, according to residents and the local police. The boat was sailing on the Niger River in the western state of Kwara, according to a police spokesman, Okasanmi Ajayi, who said that more than 100 people had been rescued and that the search was ongoing. “The boat capsized in complete darkness and it wasn’t until hours later that we were alerted,” Mr. Ajayi said. The death toll stood at 103 as of Tuesday evening and was likely to rise, he added. River boat accidents are a recurring issue in Nigeria, a West African nation where overloading, lax safety regulations, the absence of life jackets and poor maintenance often lead to deadly incidents. Nighttime sailing is outlawed across the country, but the ban remains poorly enforced. … Nigerians often turn to river transport as an alternative to poorly maintained roads, especially during the rainy season. New York Times

In Cameroon, Logging Concessions Dispossess Villagers of Their Land
Eight years ago, Emmanuel Yaba decided to return to Bella, his native village in the southern region, “to live out his last days on the land of [his] ancestors.” After spending more than 30 years in Yaoundé, the now-retired former driver settled on a plot of forest that belonged to his late father. He lives with his wife in the house he built with savings accumulated from going back and forth on Cameroon’s roads. Yaba was just 18 when he left Bella. Since retiring, he has rediscovered a peaceful life, punctuated by cultivating fields of cocoa, cassava, plantains and yams, and chatting with his neighbors. But for the past few months, the former driver has been losing sleep. A few meters from his plot of land, traces of red paint appeared on the trees. The markings delimit the plots to be used for logging in Cameroon, the second-largest forested country in the Congo Basin. Yaba has been presented with a fait accompli, he said. His customary lands are now part of the Forest Management Unit (UFA) 00-003, a vast concession awarded by the government to a company for industrial timber exploitation. Le Monde

Kenya: Connectivity Vital for Creative Economy – President Ruto
President William Ruto has said the Government is committed to enhance the digital superhighway to create opportunities for content creators to make a living. The President said the government is looking to set up 25,000 free WiFi hosptots around the country to improve Internet access and give young people access to the digital superhighway. The President revealed Google is supporting the set up of the hosptots. “I appreciate Google’s support in enhancing the digital superhighway and creative economy pillar of our transformational agenda. In particular, for your support for our plan to provide free wi-fi hotspots across the country.” The President was speaking during the closing ceremony of YoutubeBlackVoices, a fund designed to grow the presence and talents of black content creators across the world, including Kenya. The Head of State also noted that the number of YouTube channels had grown exponentially. “The number of YouTube channels in Kenya with over 1 millions views has grown by 110 pet cent in the last year proving our capacity for creative content generation is enough to generate livelihoods and become an economic sector.” Capital FM