Africa Media Review for March 8, 2022

Climate Change and Security in Africa
[Video] Africa is projected to suffer the greatest effects of global warming of any region in the world. More and longer-lasting heat waves, drought, flooding, and hurricanes have already impacted millions of Africans and disrupted livelihoods. These disruptions and the resulting decreased viability of arable land are reshaping Africa’s security environment. Of particular concern for efforts to combat climate change are threats from land pressure and illegal logging in the Congo Basin, the world’s second most important carbon sink. This webinar takes stock of climate-related security pressures on the continent and priorities for mitigating them. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

2 Malian Soldiers, 2 UN Peacekeepers Die in Latest Attack
A United Nations peacekeeping convoy hit a roadside bomb in central Mali, killing two peacekeepers and wounding four others, the mission said Monday, while another attack on the Malian military left two dead. The new violence comes just days after at least 27 soldiers were killed in an attack on a military camp in Mondoro in central Mali. The U.N. logistical convoy was headed to the northern town of Timbuktu when it hit an improvised explosive device north of Mopti. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said all the peacekeepers who were killed and injured were from Egypt. The United Nations condemns the attack, calls on Malian authorities “to spare no effort to identify the perpetrators,” and reiterates that targeting U.N. peacekeepers may constitute war crimes, Dujarric said. Mali’s military said the attack that killed two of its soldiers on Monday also wounded two others in Gao region in the north. AP

Sudan: Protestors Demand Return to Civilian Rule in Fresh Demonstration
Monday’s rally was the latest in a string of protests over the military takeover, which removed the civilian-led transitional government. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on Monday. As they denounced the military coup of last October, security forces fired tear gas canisters toward them. Monday’s rally was the latest in a string of protests over the military power grab which removed the civilian-led transitional government. Since then, a political way out of the crisis has not been found. Negotiations under the aegis of UN envoy have remained unsuccessful. The ruling generals vow to hand power to an elected government, promising elections next year. But young protestors call for an immediate return of civilian rule. AfricaNews/AFP

Int’l Diplomats Call for Restoration of Freedom of Expression and Media Freedoms in Sudan
Leading members of the diplomatic corps in Khartoum, have underlined their “steadfast support of the Sudanese people” to achieve the rights to freedom of expression and media freedoms. A joint statement signed today by the Ambassadors and Heads of Mission to Sudan of Canada, Norway, Spain, France, Japan, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, United Kingdom, Republic of Korea, United States of America, the Netherlands, and the European Union, laments that the October 25 military coup has stalled, and in some cases reversed the progress made following the December 2018 uprising (that culminated in the overthrow of the 30-year Omar Al Bashir dictatorship in April 2019). “Following the December 2018 uprising, Sudan took some important steps in improving human rights protection. Sudan signed the Global Pledge on Media Freedom and joined the Media Freedom Coalition. The oppressive Public Order laws were abolished, Female Genital Mutilation was criminalised, and the Transitional Government ratified UN conventions against torture and enforced disappearance” the ambassadors’ statement says. Dabanga

UN Rights Chief Says Air Strikes Have Killed Hundreds since November in Ethiopia
The U.N. human rights chief said on Monday the situation in northern Ethiopia had deteriorated since November and her office had received reports of wide-spread violations including rapes and lethal air strikes. Michelle Bachelet told the Geneva-based Human Rights Council her staff had recorded 304 deaths and injuries to 373 people in air attacks “apparently carried out by the Ethiopian Air Force” in Tigray and Afar regions. The government has regularly denied targeting civilians in the 16-month-old war pitting Ethiopia’s federal forces against rebellious forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Ethiopia’s envoy to the Human Rights Council, Mahlet Hailu Guadey, dismissed Bachelet’s statement on Monday, saying it was at variance with the facts on the ground. … Aid workers say civilians have been killed in several air strikes, including a bombing on the night when Ethiopian Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas Eve in the town of Dedebit, in northwest Tigray near the border with Eritrea in January. Reuters

South Sudan Marks Milestone amid Stalled Progress, Spreading Violence
South Sudan’s unity government marked its two-year anniversary against a backdrop of stalled constitutional progress and ongoing cycles of community violence – often fuelled by political groups and armed militias – the senior UN official in the country told the Security Council on Monday. “As we enter the remaining 12 months of the transitional period … we are mindful of the accumulation of unfulfilled commitments and the imperative to address them in the limited time at hand,” said Nicholas Haysom, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for South Sudan, and head of the UN mission there, known as UNMISS. … “Stakeholders agree that the sluggish implementation pace is a cause of disillusionment amongst the people of South Sudan,” said the Special Representative. That worrisome trend has the potential to undermine South Sudan’s revitalized peace agreement, which was signed in 2018 amid high expectations that the accord would end the young nation’s cycles of violence and political strife. UN News

Motorbike Gang Kills Vigilantes in Nigeria Ambush
Gunmen on motorbikes killed at least 63 people in Nigeria’s north-western state of Kebbi on Sunday night. A village head in the Zuru area, Umaru Garba, told the BBC that all those killed were members of vigilante groups who had been chasing after the gunmen. The incident is one of the deadliest involving vigilante groups set up by communities to deal with the armed gangs. The gunmen had stolen cattle and kidnapped a number of people in the attack. The vigilantes then mobilised from at least five villages to rescue the animals and the abductees when they were ambushed. A vigilante leader said all the 63 victims were buried on Monday. An unknown number of gunmen were also killed during the clashes, according to residents. … Armed criminal gangs frequently carry out killings, kidnappings for ransom and cattle theft across Nigeria, particularly in the north of the country. BBC

Nigeria: Court Stops Buhari, National Assembly from Tampering with New Electoral Act
The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, barred President Muhammad Buhari, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and the Senate President from tampering with the newly amended Electoral Act 2022. The judge, Inyang Ekwo, in a ruling on an ex-parte application by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said the Electoral Act having become a valid law could not be altered without following the due process of law. Mr Ekwo agreed with the PDP’s lawyer, Ogwu Onoja, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), that the proper place to challenge validity of any existing law is court of competent jurisdiction. Specifically, the court restrained President Buhari, the AGF and the National Assembly and other defendants in the suit from removing section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act or prevent it from being implemented for the purpose of the 2023 general elections. Premium Times

Crisis Coalition Begs SADC to Rein in Mnangagwa
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) has written to the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) pleading with the regional bloc to urgently whip President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration into line over human rights abuses and a deepening socio-economic crisis. The letter seen NewZimbabwe.com Monday, was addressed to the SADC chairperson of the Troika on Peace, South Africa president, Cyril Ramaphosa. In it, CiZC pleads with the regional bloc to send out a fact-finding mission to Harare to investigate the cases of politically motivated violence that are currently afflicting the country. “Additionally, we request that you cause the SADC to consider sending a long-term observer mission to Zimbabwe, as we believe that elections are already being stolen by the current government through a subtle and long-term manipulation of key electoral levers, including wanton manipulation of the voters’ roll,” the letter by CiZC chair Peter Mutasa, dated March 7, 2022 reads. New Zimbabwe

Catholic Bishops in Malawi Speak Out against Poor Governance
The Catholic Church in Malawi has accused the government of being weak on corruption in a rare letter of criticism released Sunday in churches across the nation. Authorities say they have received the letter and would investigate the issues raised. The letter, written by local bishops, highlights several areas where the administration of President Lazarus Chakwera has allegedly failed to improve. Among those is the fight against corruption, which the church says the government has failed big time. It says the current administration is led by weak and indecisive leaders who are failing to utilize their powers to govern the country. … The bishops said in the letter that it is concerning that a president who campaigned against corruption continues to keep his ministers and aides involved in the practice. … The bishops issued the letter as the church commemorates 30 years since it issued another pastoral letter which helped Malawi change from a one-party system of government to a multi-party system of government. VOA

More South African Corruption Exposed in ‘State Capture’ Report
On February 28, Raymond Zondo, South Africa’s acting chief justice, handed the third and penultimate part of a report from the judicial commission of inquiry he chairs, to President Cyril Ramaphosa. It was another chapter of arguably the most anticipated report in the Rainbow Nation, an investigation into what has been described as its largest post-apartheid corruption scandal. It came two months after the president had received the first part of the report from Zondo’s commission. The commission, which held its first hearing in August 2018, sat for close to four years after several extensions of an initial mandate of 180 days. … For years, the ANC has been accused of sheltering corrupt individuals within its ranks, rather than prosecuting them. Given the report’s recommendations and public pressure to see some politicians and senior party members in cuffs, the government’s next steps will be closely watched. Al Jazeera

Ukraine Crisis Set to Strengthen Oil-rich Algeria’s Hand against Democracy Movement
A promising Algerian pro-democracy movement that began three years ago today and was poised for a possible rebirth after the pandemic appears to be in deep trouble, partly due to the crisis more than 1,500 miles away in Ukraine. With Russian gas exports potentially cut off as a result of geopolitical machinations over the Ukraine crisis and heating prices spiking across Europe, the opaque regime in Algiers appears to be in the driver’s seat against the Hirak protest movement. Algeria boasts some of the largest energy reserves in the world, ranked 10th for gas and 16th for oil. … It is the world’s sixth-largest exporter of gas. Hirak, a network of civil society groups and activists, ousted the country’s longtime ruler Abdelaziz Bouteflika in 2019 and was pressing for further reforms. But its momentum had stalled due to increased repression and pandemic measures that brought an end to its weekly street protests. … A flurry of international officials have visited Algeria in recent weeks, including a senior Nato official in January. Mr Tebboune this month described a “breakthrough” in ties with France following a conversation with President Emmanuel Macron. Independent

Russian Outlets Seize on Accounts of Racism
Russian efforts to flood the information environment and rally support for its invasion of Ukraine appear to be hitting a wall as many of Moscow’s media outlets have been blocked in Europe and elsewhere. But Russia’s propagandists are still trying to seize on developments that could boost the country’s fortunes in Africa. Analysts at the Washington-based Alliance for Securing Democracy tell VOA that after initially ignoring the story, Russian-affiliated outlets have tried to amplify reports of Africans and other people of color meeting with racism as they try to flee the fighting in Ukraine. … Analysts say it is too early to tell whether Russia’s efforts to play up racism are resonating with audiences, especially as recent data suggest Moscow’s current influence operations, overall, are having trouble gaining traction. But U.S. officials and lawmakers note Russia has had some degree of success in its long history of trying to amplify racial divides. VOA

France Welcomes African Students Fleeing Ukraine, Offers Them a Chance to Study
France has created a new initiative to help Africans studying in Ukraine whose studies have been disrupted by the Russian invasion. The idea is to enable them to follow the same course they were enroled in in Ukraine, but in a French university. So far, 300 African students have applied to take part in the scheme. The Presidential Council for Africa (PCA), founded by President Emmanuel Macron in 2017, is driving this project. Its coordinator, Wilfrid Lauriano do Rego, told RFI that each student’s case will be examined separately. “Each student presents a different case depending on whether they would like to continue studying in France or not and whether French universities can take them. And we also need to liaise with the French authorities to make this project feasible,” he said. The initiative is not limited to francophone students but open to anglophone students too, depending on how fluent they are in French. RFI

Moderna Signs MOU with Kenya for First mRNA Facility in Africa
Pharmaceutical giant Moderna has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Kenya’s government for its first mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Africa. In a statement on Monday, the company said its goal is to produce up to 500 million doses of vaccines a year for the continent – with a focus on drug substance manufacturing, though the facility could be expanded to include fill-and-finish work. “In parallel, Moderna is also working on plans to allow it to fill doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Africa as early as 2023, subject to demand,” the company said. Currently, the continent – the least-vaccinated region in the world against the coronavirus – relies on imports for about 99 percent of its vaccine needs, according to the World Health Organization. Al Jazeera

Global Demand for African Developers is on the Rise
Four out of every ten African software developers now work for at least one company based outside of the continent, while five work for local start-ups, according to recent research, highlighting the dynamic and growing market for the continent’s technical talent over the last two years. A 22% rise in the use of the internet by small and medium-sized businesses in Africa, a record fundraising streak by local startups in 2021 and demand for remote tech workers in more mature markets are all factors attributed to the rising awareness of Africa’s software development talent. And, of course, there was the covid-19 pandemic. “Increased global demand for remote tech talent, which was accelerated by the pandemic, created more remote employment opportunities for African developers,” said Google in its ‘Africa Developer Ecosystem Report 2021.’ The report shows the number of African professional developers in the workforce defied economic contractions to increase by 3.8% or, 716,000 making up 0.4% of the continent’s non-agricultural workforce. Quartz

Google Commits R15.3m to Help Small Businesses Owned by African Women
American multinational technology company Google, through its philanthropic arm, Google.org, announced today that it will pledge R15.3 million worth of charitable funds to support African female entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. This, according to the tech giant, forms part of a series of new initiatives aimed at supporting women-owned businesses. “Research shows that 58% of small- and medium-sized business (SMB) entrepreneurs in Africa are women. Despite this, women-run businesses show, on average, 34% lower profits than those run by their male counterparts. “They are also less likely to receive funding and investment. This is why we are announcing a series of initiatives today, aimed at providing the support women need to grow their businesses,” said Head of Brand and Reputation, Africa Mojolaoluwa Aderemi Makinde. Google has also announced the launch of a campaign called #LookMeUp to help showcase women entrepreneurs and tell their stories. Business Insider



Photo: Adam Jones