Africa Media Review for May 5, 2023

Biden Issues Order Setting Path for Sanctions in Sudan
President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Thursday setting the path to sanction individuals involved in the recent violence in Sudan that’s left hundreds dead and thrown the African nation into chaos. Biden said in a statement that his order will “hold individuals responsible for threatening the peace, security, and stability of Sudan; undermining Sudan’s democratic transition; using violence against civilians; or committing serious human rights abuses.” The president said the violence taking place in Sudan is “a tragedy — and it is a betrayal of the Sudanese people’s clear demand for civilian government and a transition to democracy.” “I join the peace-loving people of Sudan and leaders around the world in calling for a durable ceasefire between the belligerent parties,” Biden said. AP

‘Not Safe for Us’: Sudanese in North Africa Warn Fleeing Relatives of Danger
Ever since fighting erupted in his home town of Nyala, the state capital of South Darfur in Sudan, in mid-April, Khaled’s mobile phone has not stopped ringing. Family members, friends and acquaintances want to know how to reach north Africa and which country is best for departing for Europe. The 17-year-old, currently living in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, wishes he could tell them that the journey is simple and that countries like Tunisia and Libya are welcoming and safe. However, the reality could not be more different. Khaled, tortured in Libya, expelled by Morocco, kicked by Algerian border guards, beaten by the Tunisian police and today homeless on the streets of Tunis, knows this very well. “They ask if they can come to Libya or Tunisia and how to get here,” Khaled said. “I say, ‘No, don’t come. Here there’s just suffering for you. Tunisia or Libya are not safe countries.’ But they are desperate.” Khaled said the people he had spoken to were particularly afraid of the Rapid Support Forces, the paramilitary group that grew out of the Janjaweed militia responsible for genocide in the war in Darfur that broke out in 2003. According to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), more than 800,000 people may flee Sudan as a result of the fighting that erupted between the army and the RSF last month. Guardian

WFP: Food for the Needy Worth about $14 Million Looted in Sudan
The World Food Programme (WFP) has estimated that $13 million to $14 million worth of food products destined to people in need in Sudan have been looted since fighting broke out last month, the agency said on Thursday. WFP Country Director for Sudan Eddie Rowe, speaking to Reuters from Port Sudan via video link, described pillaging in the country as rampant and that some reports of the UN’s food programme supplies being stolen were still being verified. “We’ve estimated that close to 17,000 metric tonnes have been looted, some in our warehouses, while others on wheels,” Rowe said. … Rowe’s comments come a day after UN aid chief Martin Griffiths appealed to the warring sides in Sudan to ensure safe passage of humanitarian aid and staff. The conflict in Sudan has forced about 100,000 people to flee to neighbouring countries, according to the UN, and has hindered aid deliveries in a country where about one-third of people already relied on humanitarian assistance. Reuters

German Chancellor Scholz Supports Seat for the AU in the G20
German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said he supports the inclusion of the African Union in the G20 group of nations. Speaking on arrival in Ethiopia on Thursday, Scholz reaffirmed the central role played by the African Union in mediating the crisis in Sudan. … In the past, American president Joe Biden and French president Emmanuel Macron, among others, have also advocated for the AU to join the G20. “I made a very important statement here for the African Union. We want to support that the African Union gets a seat in the G20, that it can participate and have a say. This is out of respect for the continent and its many states and also its growing population.” South Africa is currently the only African member of the G20, which was established in 2008. AfricaNews

Japan Vows to Help Mozambique Fight Insurgency
Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Thursday that Tokyo would help Mozambique counter Islamist insurgents in the restive north. Mozambique’s gas-rich northernmost province, Cabo Delgado, is struggling with an insurgency waged by militants linked to the Islamic State group. “Japan will financially support the fight against terrorism,” Kishida told a press conference in the capital, Maputo, the final leg of an African tour. “Security is crucial for the operation of Japanese companies in northern Mozambique.” Mozambique has set high hopes on vast natural gas deposits – the largest found south of the Sahara – that were discovered in the Muslim-majority northern province in 2010. If all the deposits are tapped, Mozambique could become one of the world’s 10 biggest gas exporters, according to estimates. But the five-year insurgency, which has killed more than 4 600 people, has cast doubt over the scheme. AFP

Burkina Faso [Coup] Leader Hails Russia as a Strategic Ally
Burkina Faso’s Ibrahim Traore on Thursday said Russia had become a key strategic ally but denied that Russian mercenaries were supporting Burkinabe forces in their fight against Islamist armed groups. The West African country’s relations with Moscow are in the spotlight after it booted out French troops in February and ended an accord that allowed France to fight insurgents there amid a rise in anti-French sentiment in parts of the region. In a rare televised interview, Traore was asked who Burkina Faso’s international allies were now in the conflict that has killed thousands and displaced around 2.5 million in the broader Sahel region over the past decade. “The departure of the French army does not mean that France is not an ally,” Traore replied. “But we have strategic allies too. We have new forms of cooperation. Russia, for example, is a strategic ally.” … Traore was asked to comment on reports Wagner forces are also on the ground in Burkina Faso. “Our army fights alone,” he said. … The instability in Burkina Faso triggered two coups last year by the military, which has vowed to retake control of the country but has so far failed to stop attacks. Reuters

Africa Eyes Potential Bounty from Space
After decades on the sidelines, African countries are venturing into the space industry, hoping to reap rewards in agriculture, disaster prevention and security. Ivory Coast, which recently hosted a “NewSpace Africa” conference organised by the African Union, has announced the creation of a space agency and plans to build the country’s first nanosatellite by 2024. In April, Kenya’s first working satellite was put into orbit by a SpaceX rocket launched from the United States. The two countries follow African pioneers South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria and Egypt — a trailblazer which owned the first African satellite sent into space in 1998. According to AU space programme coordinator Tidiane Ouattara, about 15 African countries have a space agency. The AU in 2018 fostered the African Space Agency, whose headquarters will be in Cairo alongside the Egyptian Space Agency, to promote coordination among AU members. According to a Vienna-based NGO, the Space Generation Advisory Council, African countries have launched 41 satellites since 2016, led by Egypt, South Africa, Algeria and Nigeria. AFP

Seven South Sudanese Peace Delegates Killed in Attack: NGO
Seven South Sudanese delegates who attended a peace conference in the southeast of the country were killed, a Norwegian humanitarian organization said Thursday. “We strongly condemn the attack on civilians and humanitarian aid workers,” the head of Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), Dagfinn Hoybraten, said in a statement. “The attack demonstrates how demanding and complex it is to work in a country where the security situation is changing all the time,” he added. The seven were killed on Saturday in Imehejek in Eastern Equatoria state after attending a peace conference and being offered a ride in NCA cars. The Defense Post with AFP

Naval Boss, Vice Admiral Gambo Bags Award of Exemplary Leadership in South Africa
The Chief of the Naval Staff, Nigerian Navy, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo (CFR) on Thursday bagged the Award of Exemplary Leadership in Maritime Security at the International Symposium on Blue Ocean Economy and Maritime Security in Africa: Challenges and Prospects for Agenda 2063 held in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Vice Admiral Gambo was bestowed the award by Prof M.S. Tshehla, Dean of the Faculty of Military Science, Stellenbosch University while Mr Patrick Agbambu, CEO of Security Watch Africa Initiatives read his citation. The symposium was based on the premise that the successful attainment of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 objectives is premised on the sustainable peace and security on the continent. Thus, this requires coordinated efforts on all fronts across the continent. Most of the programmes and associated outcomes of the continent’s developmental agenda are linked to its ocean waters. The Guardian

Kenyan Medical Language Translation App Wins Coding Competition
An innovation by four university students that translates the local dialect into English or Kiswahili to make it easier for doctors to diagnose patients’ symptoms remotely has emerged as the overall winner of the fourth season of the Game of Learners competition, Capital FM reports. The solution, dubbed ‘Jambo Care,’ was developed by Team Ruby, which beat 16 other teams from universities across Africa to win the season. This season’s challenge aimed to develop technological solutions for Africa’s health challenges and featured more than 80 students from 11 African countries, with an equal balance of men and women. AllAfrica

Sub-Saharan Africa Suffers from Overpriced Internet
At the beginning of April, outraged Ivorian consumers launched petitions and called for a boycott. The reason for their anger? Not the price of food – inflation is affecting this West African country like many others – nor the price of fuel or electricity. Citizens were protesting a de facto increase in mobile internet rates, as the phone is the primary means of access to the web on the continent. The three operators in Côte d’Ivoire (Orange, MTN and Moov) had decreased the amount of data included in 4G packages while maintaining their prices. The decision was eventually suspended by the authorities. This is not the first time such a ruckus has erupted south of the Sahara. In South Africa in 2016, the hashtag #Datamustfall set Twitter ablaze, and a protest against internet costs was banned in Benin in 2018. The reason the topic is so contentious is because mobile data prices in the region are among the most expensive in the world, both in relative and absolute terms. A far cry from the recommended 2%, Africans spent an average of more than 9.5% of their gross income in 2021 to buy one gigabyte, according to data compiled by the Alliance for Affordable Internet, a lobbying group backed by some of the net giants. Le Monde

Sudan Crisis: Actress Asia Abdelmajid Killed in Khartoum Cross-Fire
The death of a well-known actress, killed in cross-fire in the north of Khartoum, has shocked residents of Sudan’s capital. But she is just one of many civilians still in the city who are paying with their lives as the fighting continues to rage despite the latest ceasefire. … Asia Abdelmajid, who was born in 1943, was famous for her theatre performances – first coming to prominence in a production of the play Pamseeka 58 years ago. It was put on at the national theatre in Omdurman to mark the anniversary of Sudan’s first revolution against a coup leader. She was considered a pioneer of the stage – and the country’s first professional stage actress, later retiring to become a teacher. Her family say she was buried within hours of her shooting on Wednesday morning in the grounds of a kindergarten where she had been most recently working. It was too dangerous to take her to a cemetery. It is not clear who fired the shot that killed her in the clashes in the northern suburb of Bahri. BBC