Africa Media Review for March 9, 2022

African Lessons in Cyber Strategy
Africa faces a growing array of cyber threats from espionage, critical infrastructure sabotage, combat innovation, and organized crime. Still, most African countries have yet to devise a national cybersecurity strategy. Many countries with strategies fail to achieve meaningful impact because their plans are missing fundamental components, do not include key stakeholders, and are not adapted to an evolving threat landscape. To address a growing array of cyber threats and challenges, African governments need to adopt cybersecurity strategies that foster collaboration and trust between security, civilian, and private sector stakeholders. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Gunmen Kill at Least 57 People in Nigeria
Mourners in northwestern Nigeria buried their dead on Tuesday after clashes between a local self-defence vigilante group and armed gunmen killed at least 57 people. According to the police, the clashes occurred Monday in the Zuru district of Kebbi state. The gunmen were heavily armed and were fleeing military operations in neighbouring Niger state when they were intercepted by the local vigilantes. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the killings while urging security forces to increase efforts. In January, Nigeria’s government labelled the criminal gangs as terrorist groups in an attempt to bring tougher sanctions against the gunmen and their informants. AfricaNews

Sudan Group: Tribal Violence in Darfur has Killed 16 People
Tribal clashes this week between Arabs and non-Arabs in Sudan’s Darfur killed at least 16 people, a Sudanese medical group said Tuesday as security continued to deteriorate in the war-wrecked western region. The violence erupted a couple of days ago in the town of Jebel Moon in West Darfur province, which was the scene of deadly tribal violence in recent months, according to the Sudan Doctors Committee. At least 16 others were wounded, it said. The latest bout of fighting broke out over the stealing of livestock from nomadic Bedouins in the town, according to Darfur 24, a news website. Clashes in Jebel Moon first erupted in mid-November over a land dispute between Arab and non-Arab tribes. Dozens have been killed since then and authorities have deployed more troops to the area. Sporadic fighting has continued, however. AP

Sudan Arrests Senior Opposition Leader amid Protest Crackdown
Sudanese security forces arrested a senior opposition leader Tuesday, as officers fired tear gas to stop thousands of protesters rallying against last year’s military coup, an AFP correspondent said. The demonstrations were the latest since an October 25 military takeover led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, which was followed by a broadening crackdown on civilian and pro-democracy figures in the north-east African nation. At least 85 people have been killed and hundreds wounded by security forces during over four months of protests demanding civilian rule and justice for those killed in demonstrations, according to medics. On Tuesday, security forces fired a barrage of acrid tear gas at crowds heading towards the presidential palace in the centre of the capital Khartoum, with several people injured, an AFP correspondent said. AFP

Sudan’s Investigation Body into Attacks on Pro-democracy Protesters Suspends Activities
The investigation commission into the bloody attack on a pro-democracy sit-in in June 2019 suspended its activities on Monday after the capture of its headquarters by the security forces. Nabil Adeeb, head of the investigation body announced that security forces stormed the headquarters of the commission by the end of last week and allowed civilian workers to carry out maintenance work inside the building. He added that the security forces ordered the guards to evacuate their section and handed it to the Political Parties Affairs Committee. Also, they prevented the commission’s staff members from entering the building or retrieving any equipment belonging to the investigation body. Based on these developments, Adeeb announced the suspension of their activities until the evacuation of the headquarters. Also, he stressed that they demand to verify that the commission’s documents were not tampered with. Sudan Tribune

UN: Human Rights and Security Deteriorate in Northern Ethiopia as Tigray Conflict Spreads
The U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet is urging the Ethiopian government, Tigrayan forces and other armed groups to end the violence and abuses that are keeping northern Ethiopia in crisis. U.N. rights chief Bachelet expressed alarm Tuesday at the growing human rights and humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia. She said the 16-month conflict between Ethiopian government forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF, has spread into the neighboring regions of Afar and Amhara. … The comments come as the U.N. human rights office released a new report on the Tigray conflict, covering the period from November 22nd of last year to February 28th. Bachelet said her office has documented hundreds of killings and injuries of civilians due to multiple airstrikes by the Ethiopian air force. At the same time, she said, the Tigrayan forces and other armed groups have carried out devastating attacks in Afar and Amhara, resulting in scores of deaths and hundreds of injuries. She accused the warring parties of gross violations of human rights, of looting, and the destruction of civilian infrastructure, including schools and health facilities. VOA

Journalists Condemn Media Crackdown in Ethiopia
A group of sixteen media professionals have signed a petition condemning Ethiopian government for mistreating media practitioners, which they attribute to the shrinking press freedom. In a statement seen by The EastAfrican on Monday, the group said shrinking media space had forced some journalists to quit while others fled to exile. “We stand today in solidarity with our colleagues across the country. For decades, Ethiopia had carved a reputation for itself as one of the world’s top jailors of journalists due to institutional and systemic crackdowns on critical voices, and intolerance to dissent. “Ethiopia’s infamous anti-terror proclamation, passed into law in 2009, paved the way for journalists to be charged with treason, terrorism, and be sentenced to life in prison.” … The group said the journalists were disappointed and saddened by the setbacks and the reversals of advances made just a few years ago. The East African

Tunisian Questionnaire on Constitution is Met with a Nationwide Shrug
As Tunisia’s president prepares to rewrite the constitution after dismissing parliament last year and ruling by decree, he has called for citizens’ input by setting up a voluntary multiple-choice questionnaire online. With two weeks to go before the survey is due to end, only 276,000 people have taken part in the country of 12 million, according to the survey website, amid accusations by Kais Saied’s critics that the consultation is a charade. After his move against the elected parliament last summer, the 64-year-old announced in December he would appoint a committee to rewrite the constitution with input from the people and put it to a referendum in June. He says his intervention was a response to a decade of political and economic stagnation at the hands of a corrupt, self-serving elite. … His critics decry the president’s actions as a coup that has imperilled democracy won in a 2011 revolution that sparked “Arab Spring” uprisings across the Middle East. They say the public consultation on the constitution is designed to create a veneer of inclusiveness while Saied imposes his own preferred political system, the latest step in a march towards near total power. … The 2014 constitution, which Saied intends to replace, was hailed at the time as a triumph of compromise between rival factions that helped avert a period of dangerous polarisation. Reuters

Ugandan Leader’s Son Leaves Military, in Move Seen as Preparing for Presidency
he lieutenant general son of Uganda’s president said on Tuesday he had retired from the military, in a move widely seen as preparing the ground for a potential run for the presidency in 2026. Critics of President Yoweri Museveni say Muhoozi Kainerugaba who has been in the military for more than 20 years, was rushed through the ranks by his father. Many Ugandans believe Kainerugaba is being groomed to succeed Museveni. … Museveni,77, who has ruled the east African country since 1986, has repeatedly denied accusations he wanted to hand over power to his son, although Kainerugaba’s supporters say he has a right to seek the country’s presidency like any other citizen. Kainerugaba, a prolific Twitter user who expressed his support for Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, this year helped mend Uganda’s strained relations with neighbouring Rwanda after travelling to Kigali and meeting President Paul Kagame. … Human rights groups, Ugandan opposition and government critics have long accused his father of using the military to keep himself in power through intimidating and jailing his opponents. Reuters

Djibouti Cracks Down on Officials Implicated in Corrupt Deals
Djibouti has announced that billions of Djibouti franc was misappropriated in a fraudulent deal between officials at the country’s ministry of budget and traders. A statement from the Office of the Auditor General said, “the Ministry of Budget has squandered public funds made available to it to cover public expenditure by mobilizing large sums for non-priority items which seem to be mostly fictitious”. Djibouti Attorney General said two officials from the Ministry of Budget and a former minister, Abdoulkarim Aden Cher, had been arrested, adding that some of the traders implicated in the corrupt deal have also been nabbed. The report comes weeks after several top Djiboutian officials were detained on suspicion of planning to oust President Ismail Omar Ghuelleh. Goobjoog

Zimbabwe Clinics Grapple as Hundreds of Nurses Relocate to the UK
Reports of lack of enough nurses in both public and private hospitals in Zimbabwe have been making headlines in the Southern African country. Several media reports indicate that hundreds of nurses have relocated to the United Kingdom, Ireland, or in neighboring countries like South Africa for a greener pasture. Media reports have further pointed out that some private and public hospitals are now operating at 50% capacity in recent months. The UK has been conducting a recruitment drive to supplement its medical professionals who were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Brexit. According to Zimbabwe’s Health Service Board, over 2,200 medical personnel left its services in 2021 alone. This included 900 nurses. … Zimbabwe nurses are lowly paid with the lowest at a paltry $200, an amount that isn’t enough to sustain a living in a country that has suffered hyperinflation for the past decade. AfricaNews

South Africa’s Aspen Signs Deal with J&J to Sell COVID Vaccines
South African drugmaker Aspen Pharmacare has announced an agreement with American multinational Johnson & Johnson to package, sell and distribute the latter’s COVID-19 vaccines under its own brand in Africa. The deal was announced on Tuesday. Aspen had begun discussions with J&J in November for a licensing deal that would give it the freedom to sell and distribute the vaccine under its own brand. Aspen said in a statement that the deal also allows it to “discuss the expansion of the agreement to include any new versions of the drug substance, such as those developed for new variants or a different formulation for administration as a booster.” In a separate statement, J&J said the agreement means that Aspen can now supply the COVID-19 vaccine under the Aspenovax brand to all 55 African countries and multilateral entities supporting Africa’s vaccination plan. Al Jazeera

Give More African Women Voice in Policymaking, UN Official Urges
Women account for most of Africa’s agricultural workforce and acutely feel the burdens of climate change, but too often their voices go unheard in farming- and climate-related policymaking and programs. That’s just one of the assessments a United Nations official shared in light of Tuesday’s U.N. observance of International Women’s Day. “Women make up 80% of the people displaced because of natural disasters, and 14% more are likely to die in the event of a natural disaster,” said Mehjabeen Alarakhia, the U.N. Women regional adviser for women’s economic empowerment for East and Southern Africa. U.N. Women is an agency dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. … Alarakhia spoke with VOA about climate challenges, agriculture, education and women’s leadership as part of this year’s theme: “gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.” VOA

‘Their Weapon is Your Shame’: Toxic Abuse from Nigeria’s Loan Sharks
Shayo Adebayo, 28, an unemployed medical physiology graduate from south-west Nigeria, read from scores of abusive WhatsAapp messages and voice notes sent to her by debt collectors from quick loan companies. “I will destroy your life,” said one. “I want to see your payment or else all hell will be let loose,” said another. And another, which simply said “enjoy your shame”, arrived after a message calling her a fraud and thief was sent to her family, friends and everyone in her contacts, attached to a photo lifted from her Facebook page. Adebayo said the messages had been arriving on her phone almost every day since October, driving her to suicidal thoughts. She is not alone in her anguish. Unemployment, inflation and the cost of living have all risen sharply in recent years in Africa’s largest economy, fuelling a burgeoning quick – or payday – loan industry. Adverts for quick loans have appeared at bus stops and street corners and been broadcast on the radio. Messages like those sent to Adebayo’s contacts have gone viral on social media, bringing the companies’ attempts to harass and shame people who are struggling with debts into focus. … Calls for the government to clamp down on the companies have grown. Many are accused of operating without registration, and of warning employees against revealing details about their operations, according to former staff. Some of the loan companies enforce illegal conditions, paying below the minimum wage and incentivising abusive behaviour, according to several former staff. The Guardian

Amazon’s Going to Nollywood—and its Deals with Studios Could Shake Up One of the World’s Most Prolific Filmmaking Hubs
In its hunt for content, Amazon Prime Video has turned to Nigeria, where it has secured key deals with studios that could shake up business in Africa’s most prolific filmmaking hub. In recent months, the US giant has signed exclusive streaming agreements with Inkblot Productions and Anthill Studios — which say the deals will fundamentally change the way they operate. Chinaza Onuzo, co-founder of Inkblot Productions, the studio behind domestic hits “The Wedding Party” and “Up North,” told CNN Business the company has signed a three-year licensing deal running through to 2024. The deal will see Inkblot’s upcoming releases move onto Amazon’s platform after showing in cinemas. … Nigeria’s film industry, nicknamed “Nollywood,” produces thousands of movies every year and the country’s entertainment and media market is projected to have double-digit growth between 2021 and 2025, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. Amazon’s deal with Inkblot in December 2021 was the first of its kind to be struck between the streaming giant, which has 200 million subscribers, and an African studio. The Anthill deal followed a month later. Anthill’s Akinmolayan, also a film director, says Amazon has been hands off so far. “They’re not telling you the kind of films to make,” he says. “They have zero input on creativity — that’s very appealing to any filmmaker.”



Photo: Adam Jones