Africa Media Review for May 23, 2023

China’s Policing Models Make Inroads in Africa
Ugandan Special Forces and over 30 Chinese commandos conducted a joint operation in January 2022, leading to the capture and deportation of four Chinese citizens alleged to be part of a criminal ring. In April 2016, working in close cooperation with the Chinese People’s Armed Police (PAP), 44 Taiwanese nationals were boarded onto a China-bound flight by Kenyan security. … These joint operations are but the most prominent of a wide range of expanding Chinese law enforcement activities in Africa that have largely escaped scrutiny. They also reflect the expanding promotion of Chinese policing norms within African police forces. Between 2018 and 2021, over 2,000 African police and law enforcement personnel received training in China. In addition to technical skills, MPS training entails political and ideological principles based on the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) model of absolute party control of security forces and the state. All police training is organized around this core principle—marking a fundamental difference with African constitutional models and the Pan-African Parliament’s 2019 Model Police Law for Africa, which stress apolitical, professional police organizations that subscribe to parliamentary oversight. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

UN Urges Sudan’s Warring Parties to Honor 7-Day Cease-Fire That Began Monday Night
The U.N. envoy for Sudan urged the country’s warring generals to honor a seven-day cease-fire that began Monday night, warning the growing ethnic dimension to the fighting risks engulfing Sudan in a prolonged conflict. Volker Perthes told the U.N. Security Council that the conflict, which began April 15, has shown no signs of slowing down despite six previous declarations of cease-fires by both sides. All the previous truces have been violated. … Perthes also expressed concern about the worrying ethnic dimension to the war, most visible in the restive Darfur region. … In a video briefing to the Security Council, African Union Commissioner Bankole Adeoye also called for “more concerted actionable effort towards a lasting cessation of hostilities” and urged the rival generals “to go the full course for peace.” Workneh Gebeyehu, executive secretary of the regional group IGAD, told the council by video that its delegation led by South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has been engaging the parties daily and coordinating with regional and international actors. AP

G7 Summit: Africa Seeks New Role as Nations Eye Its Resources
Africa will not accept that it “should just continue to be a source of raw materials” for the rest of the world, the African Union’s Trade Commissioner has told the BBC. Albert Muchanga says instead his continent wants a future of “genuine and mutually beneficial relationships” with its trade partners. It comes as the AU’s chair has been invited to the G7 summit in Japan… The Zambian official says that with the era of colonialism now in the past, Africa wants to get more benefit from that relationship by equipping itself with the skills to keep more of the economic value from its vast natural resources. “We are not going to continue as the historical sources of raw materials. It will not work because of a growing population, which wants opportunities for decent jobs, and that can only come from the processes of manufacturing and agro-processing,” he says. “A good example has been given by DRC and Zambia, when they’re going to come up with a joint project on the production of batteries for electric vehicles.” … The United States is trying to boost its trade ties with Africa as it seeks to tackle climate change. During a visit to Tanzania in March, Vice-President Kamala Harris highlighted a project which will benefit from US financing, which she said was a “first-of-its-kind processing facility on the continent for minerals that go into electric vehicle batteries.” “Importantly, raw minerals will soon be processed in Tanzania, by Tanzanians. It will help address the climate crisis, build resilient global supply chains, and create new industries and jobs.” BBC

Nigeria Opens Africa’s Biggest Oil Refinery as It Tries to Boost Struggling Sector
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday opened Africa’s biggest oil refinery, with hopes it would help the energy-rich country achieve self-sufficiency and become a net exporter of refined petroleum products. The $19 billion facility built by Aliko Dangote, Africa’s wealthiest man, in Nigeria’s economic hub of Lagos is one of the world’s biggest oil refineries and has a capacity of 650,000 barrels per day. Some analysts have called it a “game-changer” for Nigeria’s oil and natural gas sector, which has been struggling for many years, while others say its capacity could be limited by oil theft. Most of Nigeria’s state-run refineries are poorly maintained and operating far below capacity. The West African nation must import refined petroleum products for its own use despite being Africa’s biggest oil producer. … The refinery will start operations before the end of July, Dangote said, operating alongside a fertilizer plant and powered by a 435-megawatt power station. At full capacity, at least 40% of the oil products made there would be available for export, resulting in significant foreign exchange earnings for Nigeria, he added. AP

DRC’s Tshisekedi Set for China Visit, Minerals Trade Deal in the Offing
The President of minerals-rich Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, will visit China from May 24 to 29 and is expected to meet President Xi Jinping to review and sign several key trade deals. A meeting would pave the way for the two countries to formally overhaul and seal a $6 billion infrastructure-for-minerals deal with Chinese investors. The visit was announced by the Chinese foreign ministry on Monday. Tshisekedi instructed his government at a cabinet meeting on May 19 to move ahead with talks on the deal with Chinese counterparts after the DRC government and other stakeholders “consolidated their position,” a DRC government statement said. Reuters

Congo Registers around 43.9 Million Voters for December General Election
Congo’s electoral commission has registered around 43.9 million voters for general elections in December compared to 40.4 million in the previous poll, it said on Monday, with some among the opposition alleging irregularities. Political tension is on the rise in Congo ahead of Dec. 20 polls in which President Felix Tshisekedi is expected to seek a second term. Security forces fired tear gas on anti-government protests over the weekend as demonstrators echoed opposition candidates’ complaints of delays and alleged anomalies in the run-up to the vote. The demonstrators in the country of over 95 million were also angry about rising living costs and spiralling violence in the east, where armed militia groups wrangle over land and mineral resources. Insecurity has made it impossible to register voters in several areas. CENI has said it is seeking solutions to enrol them. Reuters

In State Visit, Eritrea and China Signal Deeper Partnership
When Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki arrived in China for a four-day state visit, he was greeted with fanfare that included a red carpet, a guard of honor military procession and a 21-gun salute. Analysts say Eritrea and China need each other and are working to strengthen already-existing ties. … Eritrea’s status as one of the most diplomatically isolated countries in the world has not deterred China from maintaining the relationship. “I think what President [Isaias] Afwerki is looking for is a deepening partnership, friendship with the country that he feels he can get more investment because the Eritrean economy is in trouble,” [Alex Vines, head of the Africa program at the London-based think tank Chatham House.] said. China broke ground on a copper, zinc and ore mine in Eritrea last year that it says will be a joint project. It has financed other projects including a 500-kilometer (311-mile) road between Eritrea’s Massawa and Assab ports. Awet Weldemichael, a professor of history and global development studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, said much of the nature of the economic relationship between the two countries is unknown. “China has already been the single largest lender to the country, but as in all other cases, the terms of the borrowings are unknown and we don’t know when or if at all Eritrea will get to a point of defaulting as have others like Zambia,” Awet said. VOA

Isaias Afwerki’s Eritrea
At home [Isaias’] increasingly repressive and paranoid rule stunted development and prompted hundreds of thousands to flee. Eritrea’s system of harsh national service has inspired descriptions of the nation as an “open-air prison” akin to North Korea. … A charismatic orator with a fearsome temper, Isaias trained in China during the Cultural Revolution, before rising through the ranks of a well-organised movement whose guerrillas dug a warren of bunkers to hold out against Ethiopian fighter jets. … Eritrea adopted a constitution in 1997, but it has never been implemented and no elections have taken place. … Isaias launched a brutal purge in September 2001, arresting 11 top party figures — close comrades from the independence struggle — and forcing many others to flee. He closed all independent media and jailed critical journalists. The latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index places Eritrea close to the bottom globally. …while nominally under civilian rule, Eritrea under Isaias has been carved up into zones of control by army generals, who run flourishing networks of corrupt businesses. … Eritrea remains poor and Isaias’s policy of universal, indefinite conscription has “succeeded in emptying his country of the life force represented by youth”, said geopolitical researcher Patrick Ferras. Nation and AFP

Protesters in Ethiopia’s Tigray Demand Withdrawal of Outside Forces
Thousands of people demonstrated on Tuesday in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region to demand the return home of people displaced by a two-year war there and the withdrawal of outside forces that have remained since the conflict ended. The war between government troops and their allies from neighbouring Eritrea and the Amhara region on one side and Tigrayan forces on the other concluded with a truce last November after claiming tens of thousands of lives. Millions were forced from their homes, including hundreds of thousands from land disputed by Tigray and Amhara, whose security forces and militiamen continue to occupy the area. Eritrean troops also remain inside Ethiopian territory in several border towns, according to humanitarian workers. Its government has declined to comment on the matter. Reuters

US Says Russia’s Wagner Force Eyes Mali as Route for War Supplies
Russia’s Wagner mercenary force has attempted to hide efforts to obtain military equipment internationally for use in the war in Ukraine and is seeking to transit such supplies through Mali, the United States State Department said. The private mercenary force, which is fighting alongside Russian troops in Ukraine, is willing to use false paperwork to ship military equipment through Mali, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters at a news briefing on Monday. … “In fact, there are indications that Wagner has been attempting to purchase military systems from foreign suppliers, and route these weapons through Mali as a third party,” he said. “We have not seen, as of yet, any indications that these acquisitions have been finalised or executed, but we are monitoring the situation closely.” … Wagner and its entrepreneur owner Yevgeny Prigozhin have been repeatedly sanctioned by the US and EU for human rights abuses in Africa and for participating in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. … Earlier this month, the UN Human Rights Office announced that a fact-finding report had concluded that there were “strong indications” that more than 500 people were killed in Mali by Malian troops and foreign military personnel — believed to be from Wagner — during an operation in March 2022 that took place over five days in Moura village in the country’s central Mopti region. Al Jazeera

Military Leaders from Nigeria, Liberia, US, Others Meet to Strategize on Countering Terrorism
At the recently concluded Africa Land Forces Summit (ALFS) 2023, Christopher Musa, a major general and Infantry Corps commander, Nigerian Armed Forces, summarized the significance of why it is important for Nigeria and African military leaders to come together and conference. “The whole domain approach, all original approach; that’s why it’s important for us to meet,” said Mr Musa adding that, “We look at all the challenges we’re facing and the best way” to approach them. The ‘domain’ Mr Musa referred to is the capability of an armed force to manoeuvre, gain access to a threat area, and succeed in both control and in the military’s mission; to have superiority over the threat area. … Defence leaders attending the ALFS 23, heard from, and exchanged knowledge with, “renowned academics and non-governmental experts, as well as military members, throughout the week during five plenary sessions and five breakout sessions addressing a variety of topics,” said the US Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF) public affairs office. High-ranking military chiefs from African countries and the United States gathered “to build relationships, exchange information on current topics of mutual interest and encourage cooperation in addressing challenges, from 8 to 12 May, in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire,” confirmed the SETAF-AF’s public affairs office. Premium Times

South African Ministers’ Lavish Home Expenses Raise Eyebrows
The home expenses of South African ministers came under intense scrutiny Sunday after it was revealed that vast sums have been spent on curtains, kitchens and killing cockroaches. The leading opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), said it was submitting a complaint to the anti-graft watchdog about what appeared to be “brazen corruption and tender inflation” in the upkeep of ministerial mansions. “Our country simply cannot afford to keep paying for the luxury lifestyles of Ministers who live like Rockstars, while load-shedding, unemployment and poverty are at crisis levels,” Leon Schreiber, DA shadow minister for public service, said, using a local term to describe power outages. … The leading opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), said it was submitting a complaint to the anti-graft watchdog about what appeared to be “brazen corruption and tender inflation” in the upkeep of ministerial mansions. … A large chunk of the money was spent to install, repair or refill power generators that keep the lights on at ministers’ homes amid a worsening energy crisis that has most of the rest of the nation sit in the dark for up to 12 hours a day. Swimming pool maintenance also featured prominently, with 388 invoices filed over the period taken into consideration in what the DA said was “the single most common maintenance expense.” Nation

23 African Countries Now Covered by Google’s AI Flood Hub
Twenty-three African countries are now on Google’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Flood Hub, a platform that monitors floods in over 80 countries across the world. This comes as flooding, due to climate change, continues to affect more than 250 million people per year, causing economic damage of at least R200 billion ($10 billion) across the world. Yossi Matias, Google’s vice president of Engineering and Research and Crisis Response Lead, said in a statement that the application now covers some of the most flood affected places. “As part of our work to use AI to address the climate crisis, today we’re expanding our flood forecasting capabilities to 80 countries. … Of the 60 new countries added, eight are from Africa. The application was launched in 2021. With more countries and improvements made, it should help in especially flood-prone regions. … The first batch of African countries to be included in the application were Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, and South Africa. The latest African countries to be added are Burundi, Eswatini, Guinea Bissau, Lesotho, Madagascar, Rwanda, Senegal, and Zimbabwe. News24

Cocoa Planting Is Destroying Protected Forests in West Africa, Study Finds
The world’s hunger for chocolate is a major cause of the destruction of protected forests in west Africa, scientists have said. Satellite maps of Ivory Coast and Ghana showed swathes of formerly dense forest had become cocoa plantations since 2000, according to a study. It found cocoa production was linked to 360,000 of a total 962,000 hectares (37.4%) of the deforestation since 2000 of protected areas in Ivory Coast, and 26,000 out of a total 193,000 hectares (13.5%) of the deforestation of similar areas in Ghana. … An estimated 2 million farmers in west Africa, operating farms of an average of just three to four hectares each, rely on cocoa for their income – usually less than $1 a day. They supply a complex network of middlemen, including public and private companies, who connect them to the world market, making the supply chain opaque. This obscurity has made cocoa production a haven for human rights abuses, and chocolate has long been linked to slavery. But the latest research also links the indulgent snack to the climate and biodiversity crises that risk the catastrophic breakdown of the planet’s biosphere. Guardian

Agency Canvasses Preservation of Nigeria’s Rich Biodiversity
As Nigeria joined others to celebrate the 2023 World Biodiversity Day, yesterday, the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) has called for collective action to safeguard the country’s rich biodiversity. The Director-General, Dr. Agnes Asagbra, in a statement in Abuja, to mark the event, with the theme “From Agreement to Action: Bring Back Biodiversity,” also canvassed concrete steps to restore and protect the planet. She explained: “Human activities such as deforestation, oil and gas exploration, habitat destruction, pollution and climate change continue to pose significant threats to biodiversity worldwide.” Asagbra continued: “Nigeria is a party to the Convention on Biodiversity and, will therefore, continue to uphold tenets of the pact. It is a timely reminder that we must move beyond agreements and translate commitments into tangible actions. “Biodiversity, the variety of life on earth, supports functioning of ecosystems and provides essential resources for the well-being of humans. We emphasise implementing the “Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework: Protecting Land, Restoring Ecosystems.” Guardian