Africa Media Review for March 28, 2024

Nigerian Parents Finally Get a Chance to See Their Children Who Spent More than 2 Weeks in Captivity
Parents of more than 130 Nigerian schoolchildren who were rescued after more than two weeks in captivity said they saw them on Wednesday…The meeting, three days after the children were freed, took place at a government facility in the city of Kaduna, where the children are staying while receiving medical support…The parents said they cried and danced as they hugged their children for the first time since March 7, when motorcycle-riding gunmen seized them from their school in the remote town of Kuriga in the northwestern Kaduna state, and forced them to march to nearby forests amid gunfire. AP

Nigeria Unveils Revamped Economic Management Structure amid Rising Hardship
President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday announced an overhaul of Nigeria’s economic governance intended to ease financial hardship and boost productivity, establishing a multi-layered framework to bolster coordination, planning and implementation…Central to the economic management structure is the creation of the Presidential Economic Coordination Council (PECC), chaired by Tinubu himself…The PECC brings together 12 cabinet ministers and the central bank governor, alongside top economist Doyin Salami and prominent business leaders Aliko Dangote, Tony Elumelu and Funke Okpeke. For immediate economic challenges, the president set up the Economic Management Team Emergency Taskforce (EET) which is headed by Finance Minister Wale Edun [and]…is mandated to develop and execute a six-month emergency economic plan within two weeks, Ngelale said. Reuters

Putin Discusses Security Cooperation with West and Central African Leaders
Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed security and economic cooperation with Mali’s junta leader Assimi Goita by phone on Wednesday, both countries said, a day after Putin held a similar call with the junta leader in neighbouring Niger…Russia is seeking to strengthen relations with African countries, pitching Moscow as a friendly country without a colonial background in Africa. The call appeared to be part of a round of diplomatic exchanges Putin has made with West and Central African leaders since his re-election earlier this month. The Kremlin said on Wednesday Putin and the leader of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso, had agreed in a phone call to deepen political, economic and humanitarian ties. Reuters

Togo’s Opposition Calls for Protests to Stop President from Signing Off on a New Constitution
Activists and opposition leaders in the West African country of Togo called on Wednesday for protests to stop the country’s president from signing off on a new constitution that would scrap future presidential elections and could extend his decades-long rule until 2031. The constitution, which was passed by the country’s lawmakers earlier this week but now awaits President Faure Gnassingbe’s final approval, grants parliament the power to choose the president, doing away with direct elections…The opposition and the clergy say the legislation is an effort by Gnassingbe to prolong his rule…[P]olice on Wednesday broke up a news conference called by the opposition, throwing leaders and journalists out of the venue. AP

Opposition Figure Who Became Senegal’s President-Elect Won Over 54% of the Vote, Results Show
At a news conference in Dakar, the court of appeals announced Wednesday that [Bassirou Diomaye] Faye won 54.28% of the vote. [Amadou] Ba garnered 35.47% of the votes cast. The results are preliminary — after all the votes have been counted — but are expected to be confirmed on Friday…The sole woman in the race, Anta Babacar Ngom, gained less than 1% of the votes. No other candidate among the 19 listed on the ballot got more than 3%, reflecting how voters were evenly divided between the two front-runners, Ba and Faye. AP

DR Congo Mission Chief Says Humanitarian Disaster ‘Unfolding before Our Very Eyes’
Insecurity in the volatile eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has worsened since the end of recent elections, UN Special Representative Bintou Keita told the Security Council on Wednesday. Ms. Keita, who also heads the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, MONUSCO, sounded the alarm over the humanitarian disaster “unfolding before our very eyes”. More than seven million people in the country are displaced, particularly due to the operations of armed groups such as the M23 and the Allied Defense Forces (ADF) across the eastern provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri…Ms. Keita said UN peacekeepers have come under direct and indirect fire “almost on a daily basis”. UN News

Thousands Arrive in Gabon for Dialogue to End Military Transition
Thousands of people are gathering in Libreville and Akanda for what the government calls an Inclusive National Dialogue, to be held April 2 to 30, aimed at bringing Gabon back to civilian rule. Military ruler General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema previously said he would hand back power in August 2025. Nguema reportedly named 28 military officials, clerics, traditional rulers, and civil society and opposition leaders to serve as officials of the dialogue. Jean-Patrick Iba-Iba, head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Libreville, will preside over the deliberations. Gabon’s state TV says the participants will include opposition and civil society members. But Gabon’s opposition parties say a majority of the approximately 600 delegates are supporters of Nguema, and want him to stay in power. VOA

UNICEF: Climate Change Leaves ‘Dire Situation’ for 45 Million African Children
The United Nations children’s fund says there is a “dire situation” in several eastern and southern African countries, where at least 45 million children are dealing with severe food insecurity made worse by climate change. In a statement, Eva Kadilli, the UNICEF director for eastern and southern Africa, said millions of people are living through multiple and often overlapping crises intensified by the 2023-24 El Nino weather phenomenon, one of the strongest on record. Christiane Rudert, a nutrition adviser for UNICEF in eastern and southern Africa, told VOA that many countries in her region have very high rates of child stunting or acute malnutrition. She said the rates are getting worse because of extreme weather patterns, such as a prolonged heat wave and drought, associated with climate change. VOA

South Sudan Opposition Parties Criticize New Election Laws
A new electoral regulation in South Sudan has received harsh criticism from opposition parties that see the move as a way to lock them out of the forthcoming general election that will be a first for the world’s youngest nation. Key opposition parties in South Sudan have termed a contentious electoral law as a scheme by the government to keep them out of upcoming elections in December. The Coalition of Opposition Parties presented a petition to the country’s Political Party Council Monday demanding revocation of the $50,000 registration fee imposed on parties seeking to field candidates in the upcoming polls…[P]arties like the People’s Progressive Party, SSOA, Coalition of Opposition Parties and United People’s Party now see the newly registration fee as an attempt by the government to stifle democracy and restrict the participation of opposition parties in the polls. VOA

Kenya: Women Governors in Rare Unity Push for Political Space
Seven female elected governors from Kenya’s ruling and opposition coalitions have joined forces to launch the G7 Strategy, a political and social-economic pressure group. In a rare show of unity, seven female governors, led by Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga County), say they are putting aside their political affiliations to empower and inspire more women to seek leadership positions in future polls…Last Saturday, the governors launched their G7 strategy in New York, hoping they will attract international support. “Women leaders are keen on pushing on socio-economic development, good governance, and access to justice,” they said. The Africa Report

As Cocoa Outprices Copper, Farmers Reel from Bitter Deals
Cocoa prices have surged to unprecedented heights in recent months, shattering records as the commodity’s value skyrockets. On Tuesday, the cocoa prices hit $10,000 (€9,235) per metric ton, making it more expensive than copper…The cocoa market’s dynamics reveal some troubling aspects, as the current boom benefits only some of the stakeholders in the business. Cocoa farmers, for example, have been finding themselves trapped in poverty for years, unable to survive on their labor alone. Reports of malnutrition and child labor are rife in the industry, with hopes pinned on higher cocoa prices to alleviate their plight…To mitigate the risks associated with fluctuating cocoa prices, chocolate manufacturers engage in futures trading, securing cocoa beans well in advance of harvest. However, this practice often leaves farmers vulnerable, as their crops are sold at lower prices before price surges.  DW

Nissan to Test African Demand for Its E-power Hybrid Vehicle
Japanese carmaker Nissan Motor plans to introduce its e-power hybrid technology car in Tunisia, its Africa head said on Tuesday, as part of plans to test demand in the African market for electric vehicles. Africa is the world’s last remaining automotive frontier due to the low level of vehicle ownership…But, like in many countries globally, electric vehicles (EVs) are currently priced out of the reach of most domestic consumers, while some countries in Africa, including South Africa, struggle with power outages and logjams on railways and at ports, making it difficult for global executives to invest in EVs on the continent…South Africa is making some inroads after it published an electric vehicle policy roadmap last year, outlining steps to support the transition to EVs, such as government incentives.  Reuters