Africa Media Review for March 30, 2021

Suspected Extremists Attack in Northern Ivory Coast; 3 Dead
Suspected Islamic extremists attacked two security outposts overnight in northern Ivory Coast, killing at least three people and raising fears that jihadists in West Africa are further expanding their reach, authorities said Monday. About 60 gunmen launched an attack on the army cantonment in Kafolo just before 1 a.m., killing two soldiers and wounding four others, according to an army statement. The military “repelled the attackers after an hour of intense combat,” the army said. A second attack the same night targeted another outpost in Kologobo, killing a police officer. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, though suspicion immediately fell on Islamic extremists from across the border in Burkina Faso, who frequently target army and police facilities in an effort to obtain weapons. An earlier attack blamed on jihadists last June in Kafolo killed at least 14 soldiers and one police officer, according to authorities. AP

Mozambique: Efforts Continue to Rescue Civilians from Palma
Efforts to evacuate people trapped after an attack by rebel fighters in Palma, Mozambique, are continuing despite the tense situation. Rebel fighters attacked the town of Palma in Cabo Delgado province near the border with Tanzania on Wednesday, killing dozens and injuring scores of others. Several people are still unaccounted for. … Omar Saranga, spokesperson for the Mozambique Defence and Security Forces, confirmed in a statement on Sunday that dozens of people, including locals and foreigners, had been killed. The armed group, locally known as al-Shabab but with no established links to the rebel group in Somalia, has wreaked havoc in northern Mozambique since late 2017, killing hundreds, displacing communities and capturing towns. It has been able to exploit the extreme poverty and unemployment in the area to recruit in large numbers. … On Monday, South Africa’s ambassador to Mozambique said his country was in talks with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional block of 15 countries, to seek solutions to end the violence in Mozambique. Al Jazeera

Mozambique’s Escalating Extremist Violence a Concern for Neighbors
On October 5, 2017, armed men carried out a pre-dawn attack on three police stations in Mocímboa da Praia, a district in Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado. The attackers killed 17 people and made away with guns and ammunition. They reportedly told the villagers that they don’t believe in western education and would not pay taxes. Since that first ambush, the attacks have spread to several districts in the region and have become more frequent. … Mozambique’s violence has sent jitters to neighboring Tanzania, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. “There is already some overspill into Tanzania,” Alex Vines, head of the Africa program at Chatham House, said. Earlier this month, the United States designated ISIS Mozambique a foreign terrorist organization. The US named Abu Yasir Hassan — a Tanzanian national — as leader of the group. The US this month started training Mozambican forces in counterinsurgency operations.  “It is important to remember that although this is a Mozambican problem at the core, it is also a regional issue,” Vines said, adding that coordination and cooperation between Mozambique and Tanzania on this particular issue has improved. ” DW

Egypt: Ship Is Freed after a Costly Lesson in the Vulnerabilities of Sea Trade
A single stuck ship stymied global trade for nearly a week. That raises fundamental questions about risks in the supply chain industry. For six days, billions of dollars’ worth of international commerce sat paralyzed at either end of the Suez Canal, stalled thanks to a single giant container ship apparently knocked sideways by a powerful southerly wind. … Day and night, with international pressure bearing down, the dredgers dredged and the tugboats tugged. But not until the seventh day, after the confluence of the full moon and the sun conjured an unusually high tide, did the ship wriggle free with one last heave shortly after 3 p.m., allowing the first of the nearly 400 ships waiting to resume their journeys by Monday evening. In the aftermath of one of the most consequential shipping accidents in history, the global supply chain industry will have a cascade of costly delays to contend with and much to assess: the size of container ships, the width of the Suez Canal, the wisdom of relying on just-in-time manufacturing to satisfy consumer demand around the world, and the role, if any, of human error. The New York Times

All Members of South Africa’s ANC Charged with Corruption Must Step Aside or Face Suspension -Ramaphosa
All members of South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) party who have been charged with corruption or other serious crimes must step aside within 30 days, or else face suspension, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday. Allegations of corruption against party members including Ace Magashule, secretary-general and one of the six most powerful officials of the ANC, have deepened fault lines within the party that has ruled South Africa since the end of white minority rule in 1994. Magashule has denied the corruption charges, which relate to a contract to audit homes with asbestos roofs when he was premier of the Free State province. In December, the ANC’s Integrity Commission recommended that Magashule step aside from his position pending the outcome of the corruption case. Reuters

‘You Don’t Belong’: Land Dispute Drives New Exodus in Ethiopia’s Tigray
The dusty buses keep coming, dozens a day, mattresses, chairs and baskets piled on top. They stop at schools hurriedly turned into camps, disgorging families who describe fleeing from ethnic Amhara militia in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Four months after the Ethiopian government declared victory over the rebellious Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), tens of thousands of Tigrayans are again being driven from their homes. This time, it is due not to the fighting, but to regional forces and militiamen from neighbouring Amhara seeking to settle a decades-old land dispute, according to witnesses, aid workers and members of Tigray’s new administration. Amhara officials say the disputed lands, equal to about a quarter of Tigray, were taken during the nearly three decades that the TPLF dominated central government before Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018. … This fresh exodus from the west of Tigray risks exacerbating a precarious humanitarian situation in the region, with hundreds of thousands of people already uprooted by fighting. The territorial dispute is also being carefully watched by other regions in Ethiopia’s fractious federation, some with their own simmering border disputes. Reuters

J&J, African Union in Deal for up to 400 Million COVID-19 Shots
Johnson & Johnson will supply the African Union (AU) with up to 400 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine beginning in the third quarter, the drugmaker said on Monday, as the continent grapples with vaccinating 60% of its people. The virus has killed almost 121,000 people across Africa and infected 4.18 million. J&J unit Janssen Pharmaceutica NV has entered into a deal with the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) to deliver 220 million doses of its single-dose shot. AVAT could order an additional 180 million doses through 2022. The deal follows months of negotiations with the AU, which announced a provisional agreement in January to buy 270 million doses of vaccines from J&J, AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech. … “J&J requires just a single dose, it makes it a very good programmatically to rollout,” said John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Reuters

Cote D’Ivoire: French Court Hears Case of 2004 Attack against Bouaké Base
Criminal proceedings opened in Paris on Monday over the 2004 attack by two Ivorian warplanes against a French military base in Bouaké, Cote d’Ivoire, killing nine French soldiers and an American civilian. More than 16 years later, the suspected pilots will be tried in absentia for murder, attempted murder and destruction of property. “We know who are the killers and they’re free,” says Edwige Laliche, who lost his son in the attack, which also injured 38 people and resulted in the French army putting the Ivorian air force out of action. None of the suspects will appear in the dock of the French court. Former Belarusian mercenary Yury Sushkin, a pilot of one of the Sukhoi aircraft has disappeared, and the two Ivorian co-pilots, Ange Magloire Gnanduillet Attualy and Patrice Ouei benefited from an amnesty law in 2007. … There remains many unanswered questions about the attack on 6 November 2004, notably who ordered the raid on the French base hosting troops part of Operation Licorne, deployed during the Ivorian civil war. RFI

Cameroon’s Elusive Peace: Rivals, Rifts, and Secret Talks
… But despite the public disavowal of dialogue, since 2019 both Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute and intelligence chief Maxime Eko Eko – part of a small pro-talks group within the government – have quietly reached out to separatist leaders. … News of [a 2019] meeting [with separatist leader Sisiku Julius AyukTabe] did not emerge until three months later, after a second meeting in July. When it did, it caused shock and anger among hardline members of the government and among some key members of the separatist movement, who are firmly opposed to direct negotiations with the government. The response revealed the difficulties in crafting an agreement to bring peace to the residents of Cameroon’s anglophone Northwest and Southwest regions. Challenges include not only the need to bring the government and separatists to the negotiating table; there’s also a lack of consensus within both groups over how the peace process should move forward – or, in the case of government hardliners, whether a peace deal is needed at all. … Independent civil society groups – largely ignored by both the government and the separatists – say they must be part of any solution and part of efforts to break the deadlock between and amongst the government and separatists. The New Humanitarian

Attack on Transmitters Cuts Power to Nigerian City — Again
Residents of Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state capital are struggling without electricity after suspected militants damaged two transmission towers just days after power had been restored following a previous attack. The power outage in Maiduguri occurred just before 6 a.m. local time Saturday. Residents of Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state capital are struggling without electricity after suspected militants damaged two transmission towers just days after power had been restored following a previous attack. The power outage in Maiduguri occurred just before 6 a.m. local time Saturday. VOA

Osinbajo Defies Expectations as Nigeria’s Vice-President
[I]n the past few years, Nigeria’s current deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, has defied the normal expectations [of vice-presidents] by spearheading a number of projects aimed at making life a bit easier for people in a country where daily existence is hard. “I think it is worth commending the vice-president in the sense that development initiatives normally tend to spring from the workbook of aid agencies,” said Obadiah Mailafia, an economist. “But we have these that are homegrown.” In mid-2016, Mercy Izuagba passed an aptitude test that qualified her for a job with the Nigerian government. Izuagba was posted to a public secondary school to teach science from 2016 to 2020, in a scheme overseen by Osinbajo, aimed at unemployed university graduates, part of a broader Nigerian youth unemployment and development scheme, N-Power. There she has won “best teacher” awards. The N-Power project has so far employed about 500,000 Nigerian graduates in education, agriculture, and technology, according to government reports. … Other projects spearheaded by Osinbajo include: Ease of Doing Business, Home Grown School Feeding Programme, MSME (Micro,Small and Medium Enterprises) Clinics, and the National Social Register. The Guardian

Senegal: This Tiny Fishing Town Was Poisoned by a Coal Plant. the Government Is Trying to Replace It with a Mine
People in Senegal protested a coal plant financed by the African Development Bank and others for years. Now, a Turkish mining and steel complex threatens to undo their work. … Located just 20 miles from the capital of Dakar, Bargny has relied on fishing for decades. Recently, it has also been the focus of faulty development projects that Fall and her coworkers fear have impacted and will impact their health and community. In 2009, the government of Senegal approved plans to build the Sendou Power Station, a coal-fired power plant, in the town of 51,000 people. After several delays, construction started in 2013, though Sendou wasn’t open very long; after years of protest from residents, the plant halted operations in July 2019, when the Senegalese government announced they would shut down Sendou to meet the environmental commitments of COP21, a United Nations climate change conference. … Herein lies the paradox of international development, with Bargny as a devastating illustration of what happens when funding is opaque and community members ignored: The Sendou plant was supposed to be good for all of Senegal, but instead ruined the lives of those closest in proximity. VICE

Spain Targets Africa in Boost of Diplomatic, Business Ties
Spain launched Monday a diplomatic push into Africa, marking out the continent as a political priority with an ambitious plan to build closer economic and institutional ties. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said he wanted to “turn this decade … into the decade of Spain in Africa.” Sánchez unveiled his “Africa Focus 2023” plan at an event in Madrid attended by Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, the foreign ministers of Ghana and Senegal, Kenya’s head of trade, and the president of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina. Spain had few colonial possessions in Africa compared with some other European countries, but Sánchez noted that the continent lies just a couple of dozen kilometers away from the southern Spanish coast. He described Spain as “Europe’s southern gateway” for Africa. Tens of thousands of African migrants eager to enter Europe have made use of that short distance to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Spain in recent years in what is often a perilous journey. … Sánchez said Monday that a “lack of opportunities” was driving them away and that Spanish investment in Africa might help them stay. Sánchez is due to visit Senegal and Angola from April 7-9. AP

Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong’o Nominated as Author and Translator in First for International Booker
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o has become the first writer to be nominated for the International Booker prize as both author and translator of the same book, and the first nominee writing in an indigenous African language. The 83-year-old Kenyan and perennial Nobel favourite is among 13 authors nominated for the award for best translated fiction, a £50,000 prize split evenly between author and translator. Thiong’o is nominated as writer and translator of The Perfect Nine, a novel-in-verse described by the judges as “a magisterial and poetic tale about women’s place in a society of gods,” and written in the Bantu language Gikuyu. Thiong’o wrote novels like A Grain of Wheat and Petals of Blood in English until the 1970s, when he resolved to write in his mother tongue. His work was banned by Kenya’s government and he was detained without trial for a year in a maximum-security prison, where he wrote the first modern Gikuyu novel, Devil on the Cross, on toilet paper. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones