Africa Media Review for June 22, 2022

Burkina Junta Leader Holds Talks with Overthrown President
The head of Burkina Faso’s ruling junta has met the president he overthrew in a coup this year, for talks to try to “defuse” the political situation. Roch Marc Christian Kabore, the elected president until his ousting in January, was accompanied by another former president Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo (November 1982 – August 1983) during the meeting at the presidential palace. Mr Kaboré shook hands with the lieutenant colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba and spoke in an apparently relaxed atmosphere with him. The presidency said in a statement that the three men discussed “security matters, the management of the transition and other issues of national interest.” It is the “start of a series of actions with a view to defusing the political situation”, it added. AfricaNews

African Union Denounces ‘Dishonest’ Sudan Talks
The African Union has said it will not be a party to talks that exclude significant actors in an effort to get Sudan’s transition back on track after last year’s military coup. Sudan’s main civilian players have so far boycotted talks with military leaders launched under international auspices earlier this month on reaching a political accommodation that would enable the restoration of desperately needed Western aid. “The AU cannot continue these dishonest, opaque discussions which sideline participants or treat them in an unjust way,” the bloc’s ambassador to Sudan, Mohammed Belaiche, told reporters late Tuesday. But the AU denied it was abandoning the so-called “troika” of sponsors of the talks process, which also includes the United Nations and East African regional grouping IGAD. That was an “erroneous interpretation” of Belaiche’s comments, its delegation said in a clarification Wednesday. “The AU representative states that he will not attend some of the activities because they are not transparent, do not respect all participants and do not conform to the principle of non-exclusion from the political process.” The pan-African bloc suspended Sudan after the military’s October 27 overthrow of a joint civilian-military transitional government installed in the aftermath of the army’s 2019 ouster of longtime President Omar al-Bashir. AFP

UAE to Build New Port in Sudan’s Red Sea
The deal, which represents the first major foreign partnership in Port Sudan, is part of a 6 billion dollars’ worth investment package, Daoud explained to Reuters. Daoud explained that the four billion dollar port is a joint venture between DAL Group and Abu Dhabi Ports, owned by the ADQ Abu Dhabi Holding Company, and will be able to handle all kinds of goods and compete with the country’s main national port of Port Sudan. DAL Group, which is party to the building of a new port, is a private Sudanese conglomerate and the largest private company in the country. It operates across several business sectors including food, engineering, and agriculture. The new port will be located about 200 kilometres north of Port Sudan and will also include a free trade and industrial zone modelled after Dubai’s Jebel Ali and a small international airport. The DAL Group chairman pointed out that the project is in “advanced stages” with studies and designs already completed. Daoud said that the package includes a free trade zone, a large agricultural project, and an imminent deposit of $300 million to the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS). This would be the first large deposit to the bank since the October 25 military coup, after which a lot of financial aid and investments from Western donors were suspended. This plunged Sudan’s already struggling economy into more turmoil and deprived the government of much-needed foreign currency, Reuters explains. Dabanga

East Africa Leaders Agree Regional Force to Quell DR Congo Crisis
Leaders of the East African Community (EAC) have agreed to send a regional force to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to quell the latest flare-up of violence that is sweeping across the northeast of the country. The decision was made on Monday during an EAC summit in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. DRC President Felix Tshisekedi and Rwandan President Paul Kagame joined leaders of Burundi, Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda as well as Tanzania’s ambassador to Kenya. “The heads of state have instructed that the regional force, in cooperation with the DRC’s military and administrative forces, seek to stabilise and guarantee peace in DRC,” read the statement. It also called for the enforcement of an “immediate ceasefire.” The regional force received its operational mandate and outlined its operational structure, the statement said, without providing further details. “The problems affecting the region like the crisis in Congo need a collective approach from all regional members of the East African Community,” said Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni after the meeting. Al Jazeera

Residents of Eastern Congo Reject EAC Force
Some residents in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have rejected the proposal to deploy a regional peacekeeping force. On Monday, in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, East African Community (EAC) leaders endorsed the deployment of a regional force to help stabilise eastern DRC, a move that had also earlier been discussed by military chiefs in the regional bloc. But opponents of troop deployment pointed to the chequered history that some of DR Congo’s neighbours have in the war-torn east of the country. They instead called for reforms and reinforcements in the Congolese armed forces (FARDC). “We vigorously reject” the EAC project and “call on you to give it up”, the citizens’ movement Lucha (Fight for Change) declared in a letter to President Felix Tshisekedi, citing “security, economic or geopolitical” objections. East African

Libya’s Oil Industry Is in Disarray Right When the World Needs It More than Ever
Libya was thrust back into the spotlight last week when it announced that it is pumping a million fewer barrels of oil than it did last year. That was big news for oil-consuming nations that are scrambling to look for additional supplies as crude from Russia, the world’s third-biggest producer, comes under Western sanctions. Any additional barrels from Libya could provide a much-needed reprieve from soaring global inflation, analysts say. The Libyan oil ministry told CNN on Wednesday that production had shrunk to a near halt in June, to 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 1.2 million bpd last year. But on Monday, oil minister Mohamed Oun told CNN that production had climbed up to 800,000 barrels a day, saying some fields had come back online. The fluctuating output and conflicting narratives surrounding the industry demonstrate the disarray Libya’s oil sector is in, with little clarity on who really is in control of the nation’s most valuable resource. It also highlights the strategic significance of a fragmented country on NATO’s southern flank where Western states are trying to regain a foothold. CNN

Tunisian Journalist Freed After Detention over ‘State Security’
The editor of a Tunisian news website close to the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party was released after being detained in relation to a company accused of plotting against the state, his lawyer said Tuesday. Lotfi Hidouri, editor of the Achahed website, had been detained since Thursday. He appeared Monday before a judge, who ruled he should be released, lawyer Samir Ben Amor told AFP. Hidouri still faces prosecution, however, over allegedly suspicious transactions between a group that finances his operation and Instalingo, a digital content production firm. Instalingo has been under investigation since last year for allegedly “plotting against state security” and “inciting violence”, according to Tunisian media reports. Ben Amor said Hidouri had “no administrative duties” at Achahed that could justify his prosecution. Ennahdha was the dominant force in a parliament dissolved by President Kais Saied after he sacked the government and seized wide-ranging powers last July. Voice of America

Mali Mourns Massacre Victims
Attacks by gunmen, said to be jihadis, were ongoing on Monday in central Mali, where at least 130 civilians were massacred on the weekend. “Even this morning, my village is under fire,” a witness, who wished to remain anonymous because of security concerns, told DW in a phone interview on Monday.  “Our families are fleeing because they are afraid their village will be the next to be attacked by armed groups.”  The fighting comes despite the fact that the area under attack is only 5 kilometers (3 miles) from a military base in Bandiagara, in Mali’s central Mopti region. Mali’s interim government, led by Colonel Assimi Goita, on Monday declared three days of mourning for the people killed in the massacre in three Malian villages in the Bankass area of the Mopti region over the weekend.  It also said 132 civilians had been “coldly killed” in the Bankass area and blamed the massacre on fighters of the Macina Katiba of Amadou Kouffa, an organization affiliated with al-Qaeda. Witnesses, however, told the AFP news agency that they believed the death toll could be much higher. DW

Africa Won’t Give Ukraine What It’s Asking for, Analysts Say
Analysts say the African Union (AU) is unlikely to offer Ukraine much support against Russia despite a passionate address Monday by Ukraine’s president. Many African nations have historical ties to Russia and have refused to condemn its invasion of Ukraine. In his speech to the African Union Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of holding Africa hostage by not allowing Ukrainian grain exports to reach the continent unless Western sanctions are lifted. Zelenskyy, speaking via videolink, also reminded AU leaders about Africa’s history of being colonized and said the continent should never support any attempt by one nation to colonize another. Abdi Rashid, chief Horn of Africa analyst for Sahan Research, a Nairobi-based research group, said that while many Africans have expressed support toward Russia because of the former Soviet Union’s backing of liberation movements against colonial powers and apartheid, Russia has changed. “And I think Africans probably have not come to grips with the reality of modern Russia,” he said. “So, we need to modernize our views of Russia and understand that today’s Russia is essentially an imperial power, which is weakened and which wants to get back the kind of clout and supremacy it had.” Voice of America

Ukraine War: EU Pledges 600m Euros to Stem Food Crisis in African Countries
The European Union has pledged 600 million euros ($630m) to help vulnerable nations weather a food security crisis worsened by Russia’s war on Ukraine. The funds include €150 million ($158m) in humanitarian assistance for African, Caribbean and Pacific nations and €350 million to boost sustainable food production in the long term. “Russia’s war of aggression is taking a heavy and senseless toll, not only on the Ukrainian population but also those most vulnerable around the world,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday at an EU summit in Brussels. “Russia is still blocking millions of tonnes of desperately needed grain,” she added. “To help our partners, we will mobilise an additional €600 million to avoid a food crisis and an economic shock.” Russia and Ukraine export nearly a third of the world’s wheat and barley, more than 70 percent of its sunflower oil and are big suppliers of corn. The war has prevented some 20 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain from getting to the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Asia. Now the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is projecting that up to 181 million people in 41 countries could face a food crisis or worse levels of hunger this year. Al Jazeera

First African-Owned COVID Vaccine ‘Ready in Three Years’
Africa is set to have its first ever African-owned COVID-19 vaccine within the next three years, developers announced on Tuesday. They say the mRNA vaccine will be stored at temperatures used in regular refrigerators, making it easier to store and distribute in rural and remote locations where fewest people are currently vaccinated. “The Covid-19 vaccine will take up to 36 months because it will have to go through full clinical trials and we will position it as a booster,” said Prof Petro Terblanche of Afrigen – which is collaborating on the vaccine with the Univercells Group. The development and production of this new vaccine will take place in Cape Town, South Africa. The announcement comes days after the World Trade Organization (WTO) reached a deal to waive a crucial intellectual property agreement, making it easier for developing countries to manufacture and export patented Covid vaccines without consent from the patent holder for five years. A lack of super-cold chains and the lack of local cost-effective production are still two major challenges affecting the roll-out of coronavirus vaccines. There also, however, seems to be an issue with demand. The South African firm Aspen Pharmacare had signed a deal with Johnson & Johnson to produce its vaccine in South Africa. But its plant may have to close as there are not enough orders. The continental health body – Africa CDC – says that 18% of the population has been fully vaccinated against Covid. BBC

Somalia: ‘The Worst Humanitarian Crisis We’ve Ever Seen’
Only a “massive” and immediate scaling-up of funds and humanitarian relief can save Somalia from famine, a UN spokesperson has warned, as aid workers report children starving to death “before our eyes” amid rapidly escalating levels of malnutrition. In a message to G7 leaders who are meeting from Sunday in Germany, Michael Dunford, the World Food Programme’s (WFP) regional director for east Africa, said governments had to donate urgently and generously if there was to be any hope of avoiding catastrophe in the Horn of Africa country. “We need money and we need it now,” said Dunford. “Will we able to avert [a famine in Somalia]? Unless there is … a massive scaling-up from right now, it won’t be possible, quite frankly. The only way, at this point, is if there is a massive investment in humanitarian relief, and all the stakeholders, all the partners, come together to try to avert this.” The Horn of Africa has suffered four consecutive failed rainy seasons and is experiencing its worst drought in four decades, a climate shock exacerbated by ongoing conflict and price rises caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Across the whole of east Africa, 89 million people are now considered “acutely food insecure” by the WFP, a number that has grown by almost 90% in the past year. Guardian

Window of Opportunity Closing for South Sudan, on Road to Lasting Peace
“This includes the full and proper participation of women in all the mechanisms contemplated by the [Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan]”, said Nicholas Haysom, who is also Head of the UN Mission there (UNMISS). Despite delays, he said progress has been made.  The parties overcame a critical impasse to reach a breakthrough agreement on a single joint command structure for the Necessary Unified Forces on 3 April. The formation of the reconstituted transitional legislature at national and state levels, is now completed, and renewed legislative activity and debate is noticeable.   “The fact that at least some of the political differences are fought out in Parliament rather than outside of it, is a welcome development,” he added. Further, he said the National Constitutional Amendment Committee’s recent mandate extension will now allow for the review of the National Elections Act – a prerequisite for launching the electoral and legislative frameworks – Parliament’s adoption of a national budget for the year 2021/22, after a nine-month delay, will allow for more advances. UN News

How Sudan Medical Students Used COVID to Improve Community Health
One year into creating opportunities to fight Covid-19 in Sudan with medical students, a coalition of Sudanese doctors has taken the lessons learned while working with local communities and is applying them to healthcare for all. Within six months, with the help of the Sudanese ministry of health, healthcare workers administered 20,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine throughout the country, according to Dr Nada Fadul, one of the co-founders of Sudan’s community Medical Response Team (CMRT). She first spoke to RFI one year ago about launching the Covid-19 awareness program with the help of medical students. She admits there were a number of challenges, even some that were discovered on the ground. “One of our students started talking to women who were standing in the bread line and one of the women brought up the concern that the vaccine clinics are far,“ says Fadul. It was expensive to travel to the clinic, so it was more of an access issue than vaccine hesitancy. They discussed either driving people to the clinics, or bringing the clinics to the people. Based at the University of Nebraska in the US, Fadul noticed that neighbourhood pop-up vaccine clinics worked well in an underserved area in Omaha, the largest city in the state. RFI



Photo: Adam Jones