Africa Media Review for June 14, 2024

ANC Strikes Coalition Deal with DA, South Africa Media Reports
South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, is poised to be re-elected after the African National Congress struck a coalition deal with the country’s second largest party, the pro-business Democratic Alliance, local media reported, as MPs were sworn in before parliament votes for the president. Under the agreement, which is not yet public, the DA will support Ramaphosa’s election for a second term and an ANC speaker of parliament, in return for the position of deputy speaker, according to the public South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and the news website TimesLive. The votes will take place later on Friday, after legislators are sworn in at a convention centre in Cape Town, while the parliament buildings are still being renovated after a fire in 2022. Local media reports that a new coalition cabinet may take longer to form. Guardian

A “Mockery” of the Rule of Law in Niger: Court Lifts Immunity of Deposed President Mohamed Bazoum
Bazoum and his family have been under house arrest since a military coup that overthrew his rule last summer. The junta authorities said they planned to prosecute him for “high treason” and for undermining national security, and earlier this year initiated legal proceedings to lift his immunity in a newly created State Court, which became the country’s highest judicial authority. … The proceedings before the State Court have been marred by serious irregularities, including violations of Bazoum’s rights to present evidence in his defense, to communicate with his legal counsel, and to be heard before an independent court, according to Human Rights Watch, a leading rights group. Bazoum’s lawyer, Reed Brody, criticized the ruling as a “mockery” of the rule of law in Niger. “We never even got to speak to our client,” Brody said. “This is a travesty of justice.” AP

UN Adopts Resolution Demanding End to Siege in Darfur City
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution Thursday, June 13, demanding that Sudan’s paramilitary force immediately halt its siege of the only capital in the vast western region of Darfur that it doesn’t control and where more than a million people are reportedly trapped. The British-sponsored resolution, which was approved by a vote of 14-0 with Russia abstaining, also calls on the paramilitary Rapid Support Force and Sudanese military “to seek an immediate cessation of hostilities” leading to an end to their more than year-long war. It expresses “grave concern” at the spreading violence and credible reports that the Rapid Support Forces are carrying out “ethnically motivated violence” in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, as well as last year in El Geneina in West Darfur. Britain’s UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward told the council after the vote that the resolution sends a clear message: The RSF must “immediately stop the siege of El Fasher and that all sides step back from the brink.” … Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, the leader of the RSF, has reportedly received support from Russia’s Wagner mercenary group. UN experts said in a recent report that the RSF has also received support from Arab allied communities and new military supply lines running through Chad, Libya and South Sudan. Le Monde with AP

Capturing a ‘Mosaic of Shifting Battle Fronts’ in Sudan
In April, I flew into Port Sudan, the country’s de facto wartime capital, with the photographer Ivor Prickett and Jon, a Times safety adviser. … Once a sleepy port, Port Sudan has been inundated with people fleeing the fighting. … A week after we arrived, armed with the right papers to travel to and report from Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, we set off 500 miles to the west, where the war had begun a year earlier. … The scale of destruction was shocking. Ivor said it reminded him of the devastation of Mosul and Raqqa, Iraqi cities where he had photographed the war against the Islamic State in 2017 and 2018 for The Times. For me, it was a tragic turn for a once proud city that I first visited nearly 25 years ago. … Residents of the capital lacked for everything: medicine, clean water, affordable food, safety. They also needed attention. Although the internet was spotty, people knew Sudan’s war received little coverage, and felt their plight was ignored. Some were keen to talk, no matter their circumstances. New York Times

Sudan Tops UN Envoy’s Concerns about Children Caught in Conflicts, with Congo and Haiti Next
The United Nations envoy charged with reporting on violations against children in conflicts around the world said Thursday that first and foremost she is worried about what’s happening to youngsters in war-torn Sudan, followed by Congo and Haiti. … “For the future, on the horizon,” she said, “I’m worried about Somalia and Afghanistan.” … The U.N. also kept the Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups on the blacklist for a second year over their killing and maiming of Ukrainian children and attacks on schools and hospitals in 2023. … “But the ones that I’m really worried about for, let’s say, the rest of this year and beginning of next year, are first and foremost Sudan, particularly Darfur, and Chad because it is expanding,” she said. AP

ADF Rebels in East DRC Kill Dozens, Authorities Say
Colonel Alain Kiwewa Mitela, a local official in Lubero territory where the overnight attack occurred, told AFP that 42 bodies had been found. It brings to nearly 150 the number of people killed since the start of the month by rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces, according to figures from local authorities and civil groups. A civil society leader, Seba Paluku, told AFP there were 41 bodies, including some that were “tied up” and “decapitated.” He said he had gone to the site with soldiers. “The bodies are lying still on the ground. There’s no means of transporting them because vehicles can’t get there,” he said. Samuel Kakule, a civil society leader in Mangurujipa, not far from the site of the attack, said that “around 2 p.m. yesterday, we were told of the presence of the enemy” and that later “they fired on the peaceful population, and the bodies began arriving at the hospital.” … The Allied Democratic Forces, or ADF, historically a Ugandan Muslim majority rebel coalition, has established a presence over the past three decades in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, killing thousands of civilians. AFP

Nigerian Military’s Vengeance on Innocent Civilians Poses Threats to Democracy, Human Rights
On 29 May, Nigeria marked the 25th anniversary of the Fourth Republic, its most extended era of democracy since attaining independence on 1 October 1960. Since marching back into their barracks in 1999, ending 29 years of military rule, the soldiers have faced their statutory responsibility of protecting the country against external aggression and assisting the police and other paramilitary agencies in combating internal security threats. However, Nigerian soldiers have failed in many instances to subordinate themselves to civil authority and respect the rights and freedom of citizens. Chapter four (Sections 33-46) of the Nigerian constitution is dedicated to the fundamental human rights of Nigerians. But in at least four instances between March and May this year, soldiers infringed those rights and hampered the operation of businesses. … The Nigerian government must ensure that the military is held accountable for its actions and that measures are taken to prevent such incidents from happening again. Premium Times

World Bank Approves Nigeria’s $2.25 Billion Loan Request
The World Bank has approved a total of $2.25 billion loan for Nigeria to help stabilise its economy following reforms and scale up support for the poor, it said in a statement on Thursday. In April, Finance Minister Wale Edun said Nigeria was seeking up to $2.25 billion in World Bank loans and expects the bank’s board to approve the request in June. Nigeria President Bola Tinubu last year in May initiated the country’s boldest reforms in decades, scrapping a popular but costly petrol subsidy and sharply devaluing the currency twice to try to kick-start growth. But the moves stoked inflation and worsened a cost of living crisis. With the devaluation, the International Monetary Fund forecast that fuel subsidies could cost up to 3% of GDP this year as the increases in pump prices have not kept up with their dollar cost. Labour unions also have been pressuring Tinubu to roll back reforms. The World Bank said it approved a $1.5 billion loan to back Nigeria’s reforms and another $750 million to accelerate revenue mobilisation. Reuters

Ghana Announces Three Weeks of Power Cuts
Ghana’s state-owned electricity company has announced a three-week interruption in power supply due to a reduction in gas supply from Nigeria. The West African country has for several years been experiencing power shortages, popularly known as “dumsor,” which means “on and off” in the Akan language. Power demand has steadily increased over the past two decades, partly due to rapid urbanisation and population growth. The gas reduction, which began on Wednesday, is attributed to maintenance works being conducted by a gas supplier in Nigeria. The maintenance has caused a reduction in power generation capacity across Ghana. This prompted the need for load shedding to manage electricity distribution efficiently, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) said late on Thursday. … It comes barely two months after President Nana Akufo-Addo curtailed the export of electricity to neighbouring Togo, Burkina Faso and Benin in response to local supply challenges. In recent years, power shortages have worsened as the country grapples with its worst economic crisis in a decade. BBC

Disappearing Mali Pond Threatens UNESCO Fishing Tradition
For several hundred years, people have gathered in the southern Mali town of San for Sanké mon, a collective fishing rite in June that begins with animal sacrifices and offerings to the water spirits of Sanké Pond. The rite, with masked dancers and traditional costumes, is on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage. The marathon session of collective fishing celebrates the town’s founding and marks the beginning of the rainy season. But climate change and heat waves are disturbing the tradition. Sanké pond is starting to disappear, said a village chief, Mamadou Lamine Traoré. Heat waves in Mali in recent years have caused the pond to start drying out. Temperatures in the town have reached a record this year at 48.5 degrees Celsius (119 degrees Fahrenheit), Emmanuel Doumbia, a local weather observer, told The Associated Press. The unprecedented heat wave in Mali this year has also led to a surge in deaths. AP

Comoros Launches Vaccine Drive after More than 130 People Die from Cholera
The Comoros launched a cholera vaccination drive on Thursday, June 13, according to health officials, four months after an outbreak that has killed 134 people. More than 1,300 children received an oral dose of vaccine on the first day of the campaign on Anjouan, the poorest of the three islands of the Indian Ocean nation. Anjouan has been the worst hit of the islands and is the closest to the French overseas territory of Mayotte, which has itself seen two deaths since March. The outbreak is thought to have arrived in the Comoros in February by boat from Tanzania on the African mainland, where the disease is endemic. Le Monde with AFP

G7: Leaders Hold Session on Investments in Africa
The G7 summit opened Thursday (Jun. 13) in Italy. A session focused on investments and infrastructures projects in Africa. The Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGI) program was high on the agenda. Projects include a rail corridor that will connect southern and central Africa. The project will also bring telecommunication cables and other infrastructure to the region. … Canada, Germany and EU, as well as representatives from Italian and American private companies such as ENI and Microsoft that are participating in the investment program. The president of the European Commission hailed a “different” program. “We wanted to create an alternative, an alternative for this infrastructure investment and it is not only the financial firepower that is impressive but PGI (Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment) is sustainable, it’s good for the planet, but it’s also good for the countries’ finances if I may say so. This combination makes our offer different to others. Important is that we want to bring long-lasting benefits to the local economy of our partners.” AfricaNews with AP

Awarri Has Been Tapped to Help Increase the Representation of Nigerian Languages in AI.
Earlier this year, Nigeria’s technology minister, Bosun Tijani, announced that the country would build its own large language model, trained in five low-resource languages and accented English. This LLM, he said, would help increase the representation of Nigerian languages in the artificial intelligence systems being built around the world. Tijani said the project would be a partnership between the nonprofit; two government bodies, the National Information Technology Development Agency and the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics; and Awarri, a Lagos-headquartered startup. Victor Famubode, who has worked in Nigeria’s AI industry for nine years, told Rest of World that Tijani’s announcement was the first he had heard of Awarri. “The initial thought was, ‘Can an Awarri handle it?’ But … it just shows that local companies of that kind, it is important to promote them.” Awarri co-founders and serial entrepreneurs Silas Adekunle and Eniola Edun started the company in 2019. Part of the company’s mission is to help Nigerians find representation in the AI industry, they told Rest of World. Rest of the World