Africa Media Review for March 28, 2023

Reclaiming Al Shabaab’s Revenue
Despite setbacks, al Shabaab remains a resilient and destabilizing threat in Somalia. In the past year, it was linked to 2,553 violent events and 6,225 fatalities. This represents nearly a doubling in the number of incidents since 2019. Fatalities involving al Shabaab have increased by 120 percent during this period. A key means by which al Shabaab has remained resilient is the estimated $100 million in revenue it generates annually. By comparison, the Federal Government of Somalia accrues approximately $250 million in annual revenue. Al Shabaab’s revenues support roughly 5,000 to 10,000 well-armed fighters as well as a network of operatives on the group’s payroll. Its revenues enable al Shabaab to sustain stable illicit regional supply channels while maintaining a phantom presence throughout much of Somalia. Al Shabaab extorts revenue from various aspects of everyday Somali life—from toll roads to property taxes—building on its cultivated reputation of omnipresence and intimidation. … With such largesse, al Shabaab is well positioned to remain a destabilizing force in Somalia, the region, and further afield for years to come. Dismantling al Shabaab’s revenue generating infrastructure, therefore, is vital to undermining the capacity of the militant group. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Africa’s Moment of Truth Beckons at Zambia Democracy Summit
Recent and upcoming elections in Africa are set to take the centre stage as the continent takes stock and reflects on matters of democracy and governance in Lusaka this week. Zambia is set to co-host the second Summit for Democracy with the US, Costa Rica, the Netherlands and South Korea from March 29 to March 31, ahead of elections due in 25 African countries. The high-level meeting will assemble world leaders in a virtual, plenary format, followed by in-person gatherings in each of the co-hosted countries. “The summit builds on the strides made at the first Summit for Democracy held in the United States in December 2021, highlighting how democracies deliver for their citizens and are best equipped to address the world’s most pressing challenges,” says Dr Nikiwe Kaunda, Policy Manager at Open Society Foundations (OSF) — an organiser of the Africa event alongside Africa Union’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and the Ford Foundation. “We hope the summit shall be able to amplify African voices on key development and governance issues that have a bearing on democracy on the continent.” Nation

Kamala Harris Pledges $100 Million to West Africa Nations to Fight Extremist Threat 
Vice President Kamala Harris announced Monday that the U.S. will provide $100 million over 10 years in new security aid to help West African countries fend off threats posed by terrorist and extremist groups, including al Qaeda, that have been expanding in the region. The bulk of the money-at least $86 million-will be provided over the next three years to Ghana, Benin, Ivory Coast, Guinea and Togo, according to the Biden administration. The funds “will address security governance and development issues in the region,” Ms. Harris said in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, her first stop on a three-country Africa trip. The money is part of a 10-year commitment by the Biden administration to help combat extremism, including by strengthening civil society, improving local government responses and strengthening security forces. The funds don’t require congressional action. … “We want to be in a position to resolve our own security problems ourselves,” said Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo. … Islamist militants carried out 2,735 attacks in the Sahel region last year, an increase by nearly 25% over the previous year, according to data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a U.S.-based nonprofit violence-monitoring organization, as analyzed by the Pentagon’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies. Ghana reported no attacks, but nearly half of the attacks reported were in neighboring Burkina Faso. WSJ

Harris to Pledge Support for African Innovation in Ghana
Vice President Kamala Harris will pledge a new era of partnership with Africa on Tuesday when she speaks from Black Star Gate, which commemorates Ghana’s independence from colonialism. The speech on her second full day in Ghana is part of a weeklong trip that will include visits to Tanzania and Zambia. Harris is the most high-profile member of President Joe Biden’s administration to visit Africa as the U.S. escalates its outreach to the continent. “Together, we will address the challenges we face, and the opportunities ahead,” she says in excerpts from the speech provided by her office. Much of the vice president’s remarks will focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, part of her effort to spotlight Africa as a place for American private-sector investment. It’s something that Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo said he hopes to see after years of being overlooked. “We want to be able to change that dynamic,” Akufo-Addo said when he met with Harris on Monday. AP

Collective Experience Can Help India, Africa Tackle Security Threats
“India and Africa face common threats like terrorism and violent extremism, and the collective experience can help to prepare better to deal with emerging security challenges,” [India’s] Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Pande said on Tuesday. Speaking at the conclave of Army chiefs in which 31 delegates from African nations participated, including 10 Army chiefs, General Pande said 25 partner nations are participating in the current edition of the AFINDEX military exercise which concludes on Wednesday, March 29. “Our collective experience can help us to better prepare for the emerging security threats,” the Army chief said. He said many African armies have experience operating in difficult and challenging environments and can offer valuable insights into their tactics, techniques, and procedures. The Federal

What Now After Al Jazeera Probe Exposes Zimbabwe’s Gold Mafia?
An undercover probe by Al Jazeera has exposed a criminal network worth billions of dollars through gold smuggling and money laundering in Zimbabwe. Many people were stunned by the first episode of the Al Jazeera documentary Gold Mafia, which centers on Zimbabwe and more disclosures are allegedly on the way, according to the news network. Key members of the Gold Mafia are allegedly Kenyan preacher Kamlesh Pattni, alias “Brother Paul,” who also smuggles gold out of Zimbabwe, and Uebert Angel, one of Zimbabwe’s most powerful ambassadors, who is accused of using his position to smuggle illegal money into the country. Meanwhile, Henrietta Rushwaya, President of Zimbabwe’s Mining Federation and niece of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, is accused of being involved in the purchase of gold for the laundering scam. AllAfrica

AU Expresses ‘Deep Concern’ Over Violence in Kenya Protests
The African Union is calling for calm and restraint in Kenya following deadly protests by the opposition groups that saw deaths and rival gangs loot and destroy property. AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat expressed “deep concern” at violence that led to deaths and what he called interruption of certain economic activities in Nairobi and other cities in the country where supporters of opposition Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition led by their leader Raila Odinga were protesting. … Mr Odinga’s supporters poured into the streets for the second week, protesting against the high cost of living and what they say is inherent opaqueness of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, which Mr Odinga accuses of rigging him out of last year’s presidential poll in favour of eventual winner William Ruto. Dr Ruto’s victory was, however, confirmed by the Supreme Court in September after describing Odinga’s evidence as “hot air.” EastAfrican

UN-Backed Probe Finds Proof of Torture, Sex Slavery in Libya
A United Nations-backed inquiry has found war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Libya by security forces and armed militia groups. The investigators commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council found, “migrants, in particular, have been targeted and there is overwhelming evidence that they have been systematically tortured.” In the report released on Monday, the team of three independent investigators also said they had reasonable grounds to believe that there were incidents of sexual slavery. “There is an urgent need for accountability to end this pervasive impunity,” Mohamed Auajjar, who led the investigation, said. … The investigation, officially named the UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya, was created nearly three years ago to investigate rights violations and abuses in the North African country. Its final report are based on interviews with hundreds of people, including migrants and witnesses. Although migrants bore the brunt of the crimes ordinary Libyans were also targeted as authorities tried to quell dissent by civil society. DW

Six Killed, About 30,000 Flee to Chad After West Darfur Attacks
West Darfur’s recent tribal attacks killed six people and forced over 30,000 people to flee to neighbouring Chad said UN OCHA on Monday. Members of the Mararit tribe stoned to death two Arabs suspected of killing a trader in the Tendality locality, 45 km northwest of El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state, on March 23. The nomads of the Arab tribes, in retaliation, carried out attacks on Tendality on March 23, 24. … “Six people were reportedly killed and eight injured, according to the International Organization for Migration Displacement Tracking Matrix (IOM DTM),” reported the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). “About 59 homes were reportedly burned and looted, and about 30,000 people—mostly women, children, and elderly—have reportedly fled across the border into Chad, according to local sources,” further said the agency. The state authorities deployed a joint force in the area to prevent further escalations. Also, West Darfur Governor and the security committee paid a visit to Tendality. Sudan Tribune

A Sting Operation to Save Elephants, With No Stings
It’s a familiar, dreaded scenario in many parts of Africa and Asia: An elephant shows up, wanders into farmers’ fields, and tramples and eats crops. Sometimes farmers fight back, and elephants are killed. That series of events seemed likely to play out recently when a forest elephant bull emerged from the dense jungle surrounding Gbarnjala village in northwestern Liberia. But this time, things went differently. The munching bull heard an angry buzzing sound. It froze mid-chew, then turned trunk and high-tailed it out of there. The bull had heard the sound of a disturbed hive of bees — and like elephants all over the world, it had learned to avoid the insect sound at all costs. But in this case, no bees were actually present. He had triggered a BuzzBox, an audio technology that aims to keep elephants and people apart. … “Human-elephant conflict feeds into the issue of local people being recruited into poaching gangs,” said Francesca Mahoney, founder and director of Wild Survivors, a nonprofit based in England that developed the BuzzBox. Bees are an increasingly popular means of trying to quell that conflict. New York Times