Africa Media Review for May 19, 2022

COP15: ‘Great Green Wall’ Still Touted as the Sahel’s Desertification Solution
Lack of communication, funds, and coordination are among the greatest challenges the Great Green Wall Initiative has encountered, 15 years after its launch by the African Union to combat desertification in the Sahel. Speaking at the COP15 meeting in Abidjan, participants still believe the Great Green Wall project is the African continent’s biggest chance at combatting desertification, if the process would only pick up the pace. “Right now, at the field level, the poor are still waiting…and they have been waiting for a long time,” says Paul Ouedraogo, vice executive secretary for CILSS, the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel. “We don’t really need to spend a long time with all the processes. We have a lot of knowledge in Africa,” he told RFI on the sidelines of COP15 Desertification conference in Abidjan. When it was launched to much fanfare in 2007, the idea of the Great Green Wall (GGW) was to plant trees spanning across 11 countries, from Senegal to Djibouti, covering 7,800km. RFI

West Africa Anti-Jihadist Force Laments Mali Withdrawal
Mali’s decision to withdraw from a West African anti-jihadist force and regional grouping known as the G5 Sahel is “regrettable,” its executive secretary has told the UN Security Council, as Niger suggested the body was effectively dead. The G5 Sahel — which also includes Mauritania, Chad, Burkina Faso and Niger — launched in 2014, with an anti-jihadist force added in 2017 that is now 5,000 strong. Executive secretary Eric Tiare said the group had until now “fought the good fight on two fronts” — combatting terrorism and helping foster socioeconomic development. The anti-jihadist force “had some successes” in its joint operations, Tiare said, adding: “We are calling on the UN to do more in terms of its support for the G5 Sahel.” Despite repeated requests from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and notably France, the United States has consistently blocked any UN financial or other backing to the group, instead preferring bilateral aid. Nation

WHO Concerned over Polio Outbreak in Southeastern Africa
The World Health Organization says authorities in Mozambique have declared an outbreak of wild poliovirus type 1 after confirming that a child in the country’s northeastern Tete province has contracted the disease. It becomes the second case of wild poliovirus confirmed in southern Africa this year, following a case in Malawi in mid-February. In a statement, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, called the outbreak of poliovirus in Mozambique “greatly concerning.” She added that efforts were underway to help strengthen disease surveillance in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, with plans to reach 23 million children ages five and below with the polio vaccine in the coming weeks. Dr. Ndoutabe Modjirom, the interim polio program coordinator for the WHO Africa Region, said that the first step is to carry out a quality vaccination campaign. Voice of America

Pollution Kills 9 Million People a Year, New Study Finds
An estimated 9 million people die from pollution of all types each year, according to a study of global mortality and pollution levels published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal…This has kept global deaths from environmental contamination at 9 million per year since 2015, according to scientists analyzing 2019 data from the Global Burden of Disease, which is an ongoing study by the University of Washington that assesses overall pollution exposure…The new analysis delves deeper into the causes of pollution, separating traditional contaminants like indoor smoke or sewage, from modern pollutants, which include industrial air pollution and toxic chemicals.  While deaths from traditional pollutants are declining globally, they remain an issue in Africa. Chad, the Central African Republic and Niger were the three countries found to have the most pollution-related deaths, mostly attributed to tainted water, soil and noxious indoor air. Moves to cut indoor air pollution and improve sanitation have helped bring deaths down by two-thirds in Ethiopia and Nigeria between 2000 and 2019. DW

‘Huge Spike’ in Global Conflict Caused Record Number of Displacements in 2021
Conflict and violence forced people from their homes a record number of times last year, a report has found, with sub-Saharan Africa bearing the brunt of mass internal displacement caused by “huge spikes” in fighting. People fleeing violence were internally displaced 14.4m times in 2021, an increase of 4.6m on 2020, according to figures published by the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). Most of those displacements – 11.6m, or 80% of the total – took place in sub-Saharan African countries, with the war in northern Ethiopia dwarfing other conflicts in terms of the number of times people were forced from their homes. Alexandra Bilak, IDMC director, said the geographic concentration of the conflict-related displacement across sub-Saharan Africa, from the Sahel to east Africa, was a huge concern. “These are, of course, countries that have experienced long histories of conflict, but what these numbers show is that the conflicts are far from having been resolved,” she said. Guardian

Metaverse: Virtual Economy to Pump $40Bn into African GDP
Economists from Analysis Group forecast a universal adoption of the metaverse could contribute 2.8 per cent to global gross domestic product (GDP) in just a decade, with Africa contributing 1.8 percent. That translates into 3 trillion US dollars globally with Africa accounting for some $40 billion. The model provided by Analysis Group (AG) implies that the metaverse’s share of the global economy will reach 2.8 per cent by its tenth year. The 2.8 figure includes big regional variations. “By region, the metaverse’s share of regional GDP in the 10th year is 2.3 per cent for APAC, 0.9 per cent for Canada, 0.4 for Europe, 4.6 per cent for India, 5.0 per cent for LATAM, 6.2 per cent for MENAT, 1.8 per cent for Africa, and 2.3 per cent for the United States,” the report, released on Monday, May 16, reads in part. Due to the nature of the metaverse, it is seen as a straightforward addition to the world economy, rather than as a redeployment of existing resources. “Because these numbers do not account for any displacement of GDP from other industries that may occur over the 10 years, they can be viewed as a lower bound on the metaverse’s share of 10th year GDP,” the report reads. The metaverse is already real in Africa. At least for some businesses. Mail & Guardian

Red Flag Raised over Possible ‘Genocide’ in Ethiopia’s Tigray
Fifteen African civil society organisations have warned that the ongoing war in Ethiopia could equal the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, unless the United Nations immediately puts the conflict on its agenda. In a May 18 letter to the UN Security Council, the groups say that besides war crimes and crimes against humanity on both sides of the conflict, words such as “cancer” and “devil” that are used to refer to human beings cast as opponents reflect what preceded the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In Rwanda, the then Hutu-led government referred to the Tutsi population as “cockroaches”, giving the impression that they were parasites that needed to be exterminated…A joint investigation by the UN Human Rights Council and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found that parties on both sides of the conflict have committed serious human rights abuses, including attacks on civilians, unlawful killings and extrajudicial executions, torture, arbitrary detentions, abductions and enforced disappearances and rape and other sexual violence. Nation

Hassan Mohamud: The Second Coming of Somalia’s New President
This Sunday, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud made history as the first person to be elected president twice in Somalia’s nascent democracy after a landslide victory against the incumbent Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, aka Farmaajo…But the next four years will be tough for the new leader who is inheriting a trove of challenges including the matter of al-Shabab, which has intensified its attacks and regained territories controlled by the government in recent years. He will also have to build trust in a country polarised by in-fighting between the federal and regional governments, as well as tackle rising inflation and severe drought that is affecting millions of Somalis across the country. During his campaign, he promised to run an inclusive government obedient to the rule of law and to drive economic reforms that will result in a self-sufficient Somalia able to feed itself. But that is a tall order, analysts say. Al Jazeera

Togo Authorities Say 15 Assailants Died in ‘Terrorist’ Attack
About 15 assailants were killed during a “terrorist” attack last week in the north of Togo that also killed eight soldiers, its security minister has said. Togo’s troops are deployed in the north of the country to contain a security threat pushing south from Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger where groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) operate. In the early hours of May 11, about 60 attackers on motorcycles launched a “violent terrorist attack” on a military post in Kpinkankandi – near the border with Burkina Faso – killing eight Togolese soldiers and wounding 13, the government said at the time. On Wednesday evening, Security Minister General Damehame Yark on Wednesday evening said 15 of the attackers died. “[The attackers] quickly transported the bodies across the border where they were buried,” Yark said on national television. Last November, soldiers foiled an attack in the northern village of Sanloaga, making last week’s attack the first to have casualties. Al Jazeera

Death Toll from Nigeria Explosion Rises to Nine
The NEMA head in Kano, Nura Abdullahi, told VOA that the rescue operations came to an end Tuesday evening.”It has been concluded, the search and rescue has come to an end with nine bodies recovered and ten people injured.” Abdullahi said injured were hospitalized, and said two have so far been discharged. Authorities said a gas cylinder explosion near a welder’s shop in Sabon Gari area caused the building to collapse Tuesday morning. The explosion affected a nearby nursery and primary school where students were in class. In a viral video posted on social media young school pupils with blood stains on their uniforms were taken from a school close to the explosion site. Local residents challenged the official explanation, saying the explosion was caused by a bombing. Voice of America

Sudan Activists Held in New Detention Campaign
Sudan’s Emergency Lawyers reported that the authorities launched an extensive detention campaign against activists in Khartoum and El Gezira on Thursday last week. On Monday, more people were detained, most of them in the popular neighbourhoods of Burri in eastern Khartoum, and Ed Deim, south of central Khartoum.Lawyer Amira Mohamed said in an interview with Radio Dabanga’s Sudan Today programme that 22 people were detained in Ed Deim on Thursday, and at least 18 protesters in Burri during demonstrations on Thursday. The two groups were taken to Soba Prison in south-east Khartoum by order of a security committee, despite the agreement that they would be released on bail. She said that among the detainees are many lawyers and students, as well as an activist suffering from tetraplegia, and a psychological disturbed person who has no connection with the protest marches against the military junta. Dabanga

South Africa: ‘History Repeating’: Amazon Base in Cape Town Splits Indigenous Groups
Smoke curls into the air, a drum beats, the dance begins, a chant is raised. Ten metres away, cars howl past on a busy road, drivers unaware of the sacred ritual taking place in the centre of a bustling South African city. Francisco Mackenzie, a chief of the Cochoqua community of the Khoi people, talks of ancient beliefs and battles five centuries ago, against invaders from overseas. He points to the iconic skyline of Table Mountain, and then to a nearby building site. “This is where we come to venerate our ancestors and the great spirit creator and to renew our nation’s ties. That is where the first battle of resistance took place. But money is always disrespectful of nature, traditions and culture,” he told the Guardian. The money in question are the potential profits to be made from a 15-hectare (37-acre) site in Cape Town’s Observatory neighbourhood that is being turned into a complex that will house homes, shops, a hotel, conference centre and businesses. By far the most important tenant at the £200m project will be Amazon, which hopes to base its expanding operations in Africa there. Guardian