Africa Media Review for March 8, 2024

Senegal Court Confirms March Poll, Ending Weeks of Uncertainty
Senegalese presidential candidates faced a shortened race to election day on Thursday after the constitutional council confirmed the delayed vote would be held on March 24, kick-starting a competition that remains wide open. Uncertainty over the date of the vote has gripped the West African country since early February, when the authorities’ thwarted bid to postpone the Feb. 25 poll by 10 months provoked widespread protests and warnings of democratic backsliding…The new date leaves the 19 candidates little more than two weeks to canvas support. It also means for the first time campaigning will take place during the holy month of Ramadan, when many in the Muslim-majority country fast. Reuters

Gunmen Abduct 287 Students in the Latest School Attack in Nigeria’s Northwest, Headteacher Says
Gunmen attacked a school in Nigeria’s northwest region Thursday and abducted at least 287 students, the headteacher told authorities, marking the second mass abduction in the West African nation in less than a week. Abductions of students from schools in northern Nigeria are common and have become a source of concern since 2014 when Islamic extremists kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls in Borno state’s Chibok village. In recent years, the abductions have been concentrated in northwestern and central regions, where dozens of armed groups often target villagers and travelers for huge ransoms. Locals told The Associated Press the assailants on Thursday surrounded the government-owned school in Kaduna State’s Kuriga town just as the pupils and students were about to start the school day at around 8 a.m…No group claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack…The attack occurred days after more than 200 people, mostly women and children, were abducted by extremists in northeastern Nigeria. AP

CPJ Condemns Killing of Sudanese Journalist Khalid Balal
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has urged Sudanese authorities to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for killing journalist Khalid Balal in Darfur region…On March 1, armed soldiers in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, shot and killed Balal, media director at the Sudanese government’s Supreme Council for Media and Culture, inside his home, according to news reports and two local journalists, who spoke with CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal. According to sources, Balal was also a member of the local trade union, the Sudanese Journalists Syndicate. CPJ was unable to determine which armed group was responsible for Balal’s killing. Sudan Tribune

UN Experts: Sudanese Paramilitary RSF Opened Supply Lines through South Sudan to Take Darfur
The UN Panel of Experts on Sudan, in its final report to the Security Council, stated that the Rapid Support Forces’ quick advance and taking of large swathes of the territory in the Darfur region was a result of opening supply routes through South Sudan and complex financial networks…The report says the RSF takeover of Darfur relied on three lines of support: the Arab allied communities; dynamic and complex financial networks; and new military supply lines running through Chad, Libya, and South Sudan…”Complex financial networks established by RSF before and during the war enabled it to acquire weapons, pay salaries, fund media campaigns, and lobby and buy the support of other political and armed groups.” the UN experts observed. Radio Tamazuj

UN Chief Appeals for Sudan Ceasefire, Now: ‘Values of Ramadan Must Prevail’
The UN Secretary-General on Thursday called for an immediate ceasefire in Sudan and unhindered humanitarian access as the country teeters on the brink of further disintegration…Briefing ambassadors at the Security Council, Secretary-General António Guterres appealed to all parties in Sudan to observe a Ramadan ceasefire. “I call on all parties in Sudan to honour the values of Ramadan by honouring a Ramadan cessation of hostilities,” he said…Calling on combatants to allow immediate and full humanitarian access to vulnerable populations, utilizing all available routes, the UN chief also urged the international community to support the underfunded 2024 Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan. UN News

US Treasury’s No. 2 to Visit South Africa Next Week
U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo will visit South Africa next week, a Treasury spokesperson told Reuters, where he will seek to advance the economic relationship between the two countries…The spokesperson said Adeyemo will discuss issues such as illicit finance, clean energy transition, investment in young entrepreneurs and leaders, work against wildlife trafficking and U.S. sanctions in his visit…He will meet with government counterparts, business leaders and students, among others, on the trip from March 11-15, the spokesperson said. The trip will include visits to Cape Town, Pretoria and Johannesburg…Reuters

Turkey Signs Energy Cooperation Deal with Somalia
Turkey signed an offshore oil and natural gas cooperation deal with Somalia on Thursday, the Turkish Energy Ministry said, further strengthening bilateral ties after agreeing on a defence deal last month. The energy ministry said the deal, which it described as an inter-governmental agreement, includes exploration, evaluation, development and production of oil in Somalia’s land and sea blocks…The deal includes transportation, distribution, refining, sales and services operations of oil and other products from land and sea projects, the ministry also said…In February, Turkey signed a defence and economic cooperation agreement with Somalia and will provide maritime security support to help the African country defend its territorial waters. Reuters

UN Raises Alert for 780,000 People Displaced in Mozambique, Most Due to Violence in North
The United Nations’ refugee chief raised a new alert Thursday over 780,000 displaced people in Mozambique, the vast majority of them because of a seven-year insurgency by a jihadi group that has thrown the north of the country into turmoil. Filippo Grandi, the U.N.’s high commissioner for refugees, was on a visit to Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province, where an Islamic State-affiliated group has waged attacks on communities since 2017 and where some 1.3 million people were forced to flee their homes to escape killings and beheadings. Around 600,000 have returned home, many to shattered communities where houses, markets, churches, schools and health facilities have been destroyed. Grandi’s visit came amid an upsurge in new attacks by the Islamic State Mozambique group in Cabo Delgado since January following a period of relative calm in 2023. They have caused 80,000 new displacements, taking the total number of people forced to abandon their homes and villages and currently displaced in Mozambique to over three quarters of a million, according to the U.N. AP

Namibian Communities Demand Return of Land in Dispute over German Genocide Legacy
Namibian communities whose ancestors were massacred by German colonial forces and had their property seized more than a century ago are calling for fresh talks with Berlin to negotiate the return of ancestral land. Germany agreed in May 2021 to fund projects worth 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) over 30 years to make up for the property seizures and killings by German colonial forces between 1904 and 1908, after the tribes rebelled against German rule. Germany also apologised for its role in the slaughter, officially describing the massacre of some 65,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama people as genocide for the first time. But critics have said Germany should not have directed its apology to the Namibian state, which did not exist at the time of the genocide and had no mandate to speak to Germany on behalf of traditional Herero and Nama authorities…White people make up 5% of Namibia’s population but control more than 70% of prime agricultural land. Reuters

To Save Water, Drought-Hit Morocco Is Closing Its Famous Public Baths Three Days a Week
The public baths — hammams in Arabic — for centuries have been fixtures of Moroccan life. Inside their domed chambers, men and women, regardless of social class, commune together and unwind…But they’ve become the latest casualty as Morocco faces unprecedented threats from climate change and a six-year drought that officials have called disastrous. Cities throughout the North African nation have mandated that hammams close three days a week this year to save water…A chorus of hammam-goers and politicians are suggesting the government is picking winners and losers by choosing not to ration water at more upmarket hotels, pools, spas or in the country’s agricultural sector, which consumes the majority of Morocco’s water…The closures affect the roughly 200,000 people directly or indirectly employed in the hammam sector, which accounts for roughly 2% of the country’s total water consumption, according to Morocco’s national statistics agency. AP

East Africa’s ‘Onion War’ a Boon for Kenyan Growers
In recent months, Kenya has found itself grappling with an unprecedented onion crisis occasioned by a biting shortage locally and exacerbated by heavy rains in Tanzania, the country’s primary supplier. While the shortage raises cost concerns for Kenyan consumers, it’s proving to be a blessing in disguise for local farmers. It has presented a unique opportunity for growers to dictate prices and signals a radical shift in the dynamics of the local market…Local traders, who spoke to this publication, also acknowledged facing fierce competition from buyers from other East African nations. This sudden shift in regional demand has been attributed to the substantial destruction of onion farms in Tanzania due to heavy rainfall…When supplies from Tanzania are reliable, the importers usually buy the onions between Ksh40 and Ksh50 per kilo. But with that supply chain now disrupted, importers are compelled to buy onions from Kenyan farmers at significantly higher prices. This unexpected turn of events has created a unique window of opportunity for Kenyan growers, who are now selling their produce at prices ranging from Ksh110 to Ksh170 per kilo, depending on location. Nation

Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr – the Tree-Planting Mayor of Sierra Leone’s Capital Freetown
Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr has made a name for herself as a tree-planting mayor of a West African city on the brink of a climate emergency. The 56-year-old is also the first directly elected female mayor of Freetown – and the first person to be re-elected since it became a position voted for by the residents of Sierra Leone’s capital city two decades ago…Ms Aki-Sawyerr decided to make the environment her focus after her election in 2018. Like many cities along the West African coast, Freetown is vulnerable to flooding, coastal erosion and extreme heat. As the authorities got to grips with the coronavirus pandemic, she launched the #FreetownTheTreeTown campaign in January 2020. Funded by tokens sold on private and carbon markets, city residents are paid to plant and monitor trees and mangroves. The aim was to plant one million trees over two years. Although the goal has been missed, more than 600,000 seedlings have been planted. BBC