Africa Media Review for November 10, 2021

Little Time, but ‘Mountain to Climb’ at UN Climate Talks
The United Nations climate summit in Glasgow has made “some serious toddler steps” toward cutting emissions but far from the giant leaps needed to limit global warming to internationally accepted goals, two new analyses and top officials said Tuesday. And time is running out on the two weeks of negotiations. The president of the climate talks, Alok Sharma, told high-level government ministers at the U.N. conference to reach out to their capitals and bosses soon to see if they can get more ambitious pledges because “we have only a few days left.” This month’s summit has seen such limited progress that a United Nations Environment Programme analysis of new pledges found they weren’t enough to improve future warming scenarios. All they did was trim the “emissions gap” — how much carbon pollution can be spewed without hitting dangerous warming levels— a few tenths of a percentage point, according to the review released Tuesday. … Andersen acknowledged that none of the three main U.N. criteria for success for the two-week climate talks has been achieved so far. They are cutting greenhouse gas emissions by about half by 2030; securing $100 billion a year in aid from rich countries to poor nations; and having half of that money be for developing nations to adapt to global warming’s worst harms. AP

Tigray Conflict: Ethiopia Detains 16 UN Workers and Accuses Them of ‘Terror Act’
At least 16 United Nations local employees have been detained in Ethiopia’s capital, the UN said, and a government spokesperson asserted they were held for their “participation in terror” under a state of emergency as the country’s year-long war escalates and ethnic Tigrayans face a new wave of arrests. All the detained staffers are Tigrayan, a humanitarian worker told the Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. … Envoys from the African Union (AU) and the United States are trying to encourage an immediate ceasefire by Ethiopia’s government and the Tigray forces who long dominated the national government before prime minister Abiy Ahmed came to power. The government earlier this year declared the Tigray forces a terrorist group. The AU envoy on Monday said he sees a small “window of opportunity” as the warring sides both agree that a political solution is required. But Ethiopia’s UN ambassador said reaching a solution would not be easy, since there is the government on one side and a “criminal group” on the other. AP

Tigray Rebels Raped, Beat Women in Ethiopia War
Tigrayan rebels raped, robbed and beat up several women during an attack on a town in Ethiopia’s Amhara region, Amnesty International said on Wednesday, the latest disturbing testimony from the year-long conflict. The investigation, which draws on interviews with 16 sexual assault survivors in the town of Nifas Mewcha, follows an earlier report by the rights group that documented the rape of hundreds of women and girls by Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers in the Tigray region. Wednesday’s report focused on assaults that took place in August during an offensive by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), with 14 of the 16 women interviewed telling Amnesty they were gang-raped by the rebels, in some cases at gunpoint and with their children watching. “The testimonies we heard from survivors describe despicable acts by TPLF fighters that amount to war crimes, and potentially crimes against humanity,” said Amnesty’s secretary general Agnes Callamard. … A joint investigation by the office of UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published last week found evidence of “serious abuses” by all sides in the conflict, saying some of the violations may amount to crimes against humanity. AFP

Morocco Keen to ‘Turn Page’ on Algeria Tensions While Insisting W. Sahara Status ‘Not Negotiable’
Morocco is determined to “turn the page definitively” on the Western Sahara conflict but without giving up its “legitimate rights” over the disputed territory, Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said Tuesday. Tensions have flared over the past few months between Morocco and its regional rival Algeria over the former Spanish colony which Rabat sees as its own sovereign territory. Algiers backs the Western Sahara’s Polisario Front independence movement. … Morocco “does not negotiate” over the Moroccan character of Western Sahara or its rights, he said. … Morocco’s King Mohamed VI said Saturday that Western Sahara was “not negotiable,” comments the Polisario dismissed as “fabrication.” Morocco controls 80 percent of the largely desert territory, which has mineral reserves and access to rich Atlantic fisheries, as well as providing a potentially strategic trade route linking Morocco with West African markets. Algeria in August cut diplomatic relations with its neighbour, citing various “hostile actions,” allegations Morocco denies. Last week, Algiers accused Morocco of killing three Algerian civilians on a desert highway, raising fears of an escalation in the conflict. AFP

French Ministers to Raise Concerns with Russia on West Africa Activities
France’s foreign and armed forces ministers will stress their governments concern over the Kremlin’s activities in West Africa when they meet their Russian counterparts in Paris on Friday. Relations have been strained over ongoing differences over Ukraine and more recently over the role of Russian mercenaries in West Africa, where France has thousands of troops fighting Islamist militants. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said the mercenaries are working at the behest of Moscow. “This meeting will discuss the political and military dimensions of regional and international crises, in particular with regard to the situations in Ukraine and in the Sahel-Saharan strip in which France will express its concerns about Russia’s actions,” a joint statement by the French foreign and armed forces ministries said. Reuters

Gold Mining in Burkina Faso Becomes Increasingly Dangerous
Burkina Faso is the fastest growing producer of gold in Africa. While informal mining is estimated to employ and indirectly support about 3 million people, large-scale commercial mining by foreign companies brought in $300 million of revenue for the government in 2018. But as groups linked to Islamic State, al-Qaida and bandits have stepped up attacks on miners, extracting gold is seen as increasingly dangerous. Since August, there have been two attacks on convoys belonging to iamgold, a company headquartered in Canada, and another one on a convoy owned by Endeavour Mining, headquartered in the Cayman Islands. The attacks left six dead. ‘Salam,’ whose identity we also have protected, survived an assault on a mining convoy on the same route in 2019. He played dead as terrorists killed 40 of his colleagues. He now works for a different company, but said that many of his colleagues are wary of the mines. They no longer want to take the convoys along the road to the mine, because it has become too dangerous. He says that after the last attack military police were able to kill two terrorists. “The terrorists are going to want revenge. They are going to want revenge,” he said. In recent weeks, mining companies in Burkina Faso have begun transporting local employees to mines by air instead of by road. Previously, only foreign staff flew to the mines. But some logistics still must be done by road. VOA

Malawian Campaigner Makes History as Country’s First Elected MP with Albinism
The first Malawian with albinism to become an elected MP took his seat in the new parliament on Monday, making history in the southern African country. It also marks a significant milestone in a continent where people with the hereditary lack of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes face severe discrimination and physical attacks. Overstone Kondowe, the 42-year-old son of a teacher, grew up in a village without any help to ease the pain in his sun-sensitive skin or glasses to aid his poor eyesight. … Kondowe, a former president of Malawi’s Association of People with Albinism (APAM), said that although attacks for body parts had been reduced, thanks to a handful of high-profile prosecutions, there was still a long way to go. “As a country, we’ve conducted six investigations and these investigations have failed to nail down the market. “I can say that we’re still on the right track because we have not given up but still continue with the investigations. It’s a criminal syndicate and it’s a hidden market and is difficult to track. “We need more expertise, time and support from communities and investigators to track,” Kondowe added. “There is going to be a time that we’re going to make a breakthrough.” The Guardian

Climate Change Threatens Livelihoods in Somalia
Climate change-related disasters, such as prolonged drought, floods and locust infestations, have displaced thousands of Somali farmers from their land, threatening food security in the Horn of the African nation. Somalia contributes less than 0.003% of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere — but the impact of global warming is evident in the well-being of the country’s herders and farmers. Fatuma Ibrahim Aden, a mother of eight, is among thousands of farmers currently living in a displaced persons camp in Mogadishu, after her family’s livestock succumbed to the escalating drought in Qoryoley in the lower Shabelle region. She says prolonged drought and lack of water that killed their livestock forced her extended family to the city four months ago. She added that they have not experienced such recurring famine in recent years. … The Somali government has called upon richer nations emitting most of the greenhouse gases to act swiftly as the COP26 climate conference continues in Glasgow. VOA

This Kenyan Family Got Solar Power. High-Level Climate Talks Determine Who Else Will
At a small house outside of Nairobi, Kenya, a big event took place on a late October afternoon — one that also has big repercussions for climate change. Winifred Mumbua Muisyo got electricity at her home for the first time. An installer from the solar company d.light climbed onto her metal roof and attached a small solar panel. He then began connecting the appliances that come with it: several lights, a phone charger and a small television. As a small-scale farmer living with her three kids, Muisyo had been relying on kerosene lanterns until now. The electric grid doesn’t reach her neighborhood an hour outside the capital. With more than 700 million people worldwide without electricity, Muisyo’s decision is key to limiting heat-trapping emissions. Using solar means her power won’t come from fossil fuels. The light bulbs turning on in Muisyo’s home also are directly tied to high-level climate talks going on in Glasgow, Scotland. Some of the financing d.light received comes from “climate finance” funds from wealthier nations. Under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, industrialized countries promised $100 billion dollars per year to help developing countries switch to renewable energy, limit their emissions and adapt to climate change impacts. … While the U.S., Japan and others have pledged new funding, developing nations say there are few concrete details that lead them to believe these promises are different. NPR

Nigeria: Lagos Blue Light Rail Project to Take Off in 2022, 18 Years after Launch
The Lagos blue light rail line inaugurated in December 2003 by the Bola Tinubu administration is to commence in 2022, years after the euphoria that greeted the launch has long died off. The project is part of the excellent Lagos Urban Transportation Project handled by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA). LAMATA has pledged to complete the project handled by China’s state-owned China Civil Engineering Construction Corp (CCECC) by Dec 31, 2022. … Lateef Jakande administration conceptualized the project in 1983, while the Tinubu administration brought back the idea in 2003, but the project has stalled. Sanwo-Olu has promised to deliver the project and reduce the travel time in Lagos. “The aim of this rail project is to reduce the travel time through an effective and efficient inter-modal transport system. “It is also key to the building of a 21st Century economy, which is central to the vision of a greater Lagos. We are committed to delivering this project next year and ensuring its operation starts in 2021,” Sanwo-Olu had said. ICIR



Photo: Adam Jones