Africa Media Review for November 23, 2021

Making Arms Embargoes in Africa More Effective
Arms embargoes can be effective but require regional and international buy-in, adequate monitoring, and the imposition of sufficient costs on actors who evade the sanctions. … The African Union’s (AU’s) roadmap to “Silencing the Guns” by 2020 (now extended to 2030) includes arms embargoes as a strategic pillar and calls for better national, regional, and international coordination to deny armed groups access to weapons, finance, and other means to make war. Arms embargoes have long been part of a toolbox of instruments to end some of Africa’s deadliest conflicts… Arms embargoes do not always work as intended, however. Third parties, both within the region and beyond, sometimes actively participate in violating arms embargoes, reducing their effectiveness. … Arms embargoes, and sanctions more broadly, are the subject of much debate in Africa, not least because African countries have been the target of the lion’s share of these coercive measures since the UN’s 1963 embargo (expanded in 1977) against apartheid South Africa. Since then, embargoes in Africa have been used in many contexts. However, these embargoes are regularly flouted, undermining the continent’s commitment to “Silencing the Guns.” Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Ethiopia PM Says He Will Lead Army ‘From the Battlefront’
Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister says he will lead his country’s army “from the battlefront” beginning Tuesday, a dramatic new step in a devastating yearlong war. … With rival Tigray forces moving closer to the capital of Addis Ababa, his government declared a state of emergency earlier this month. An estimated tens of thousands of people have been killed in the war between Ethiopian and allied forces and fighters from the country’s northern Tigray region, who long dominated the national government before Abiy took office. The United States and others have warned that Africa’s second-most populous country could fracture and destabilize the Horn of Africa. The statement by the prime minister, a former soldier, did not say where exactly he will go Tuesday. His spokeswoman, Billene Seyoum, did not respond to a request for comment. … Shortly after Abiy’s announcement, a senior State Department official told reporters the U.S. still believes “a small window of opportunity exists” in the mediation efforts. … The prime minister chaired an executive meeting Monday of the ruling Prosperity Party, and Defense Minister Abraham Belay told state media that “all security forces will start taking special measures and tactics as of tomorrow.” He declined to elaborate. AP

Ivory Coast Plans to Strengthen Military Force, to Recruit 3,000 Soldiers
The Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara has announced the recruitment of 3,000 soldiers in 2022, in a bid to strengthen the country’s defense system. The measure is in response to the growing terrorist threat, which has seen several attacks by armed groups in the north of the country. The recruitment of these 3,000 soldiers, provided for in the 2022 budget of the Ministry of Defence, marks the first wave of enrolment of a total of 10,000 new soldiers expected to join the Ivorian army by 2024. The announcement came shortly after a meeting among the ECOWAS Committee Chiefs of Staff in Abidjan last week where all parties supported the need for intelligence sharing among the member states. AfricaNews

West Africa Has Highest Numbers of Child Soldiers, Says UN
Trapped in conflicts, the children of West and Central Africa are the most recruited by armed groups in the world and also have the highest number of victims of sexual violence, says a report released Tuesday by the United Nations Children’s Fund. For five years the region has seen increased conflicts in which more than 21,000 children have been recruited by government forces and armed groups, says the report. In addition, more than 2,200 children in the region have been victims of sexual violence since 2016, says the report. More than 3,500 children have been abducted, making it the region with the second-highest abductions in the world, said the report. “The numbers and trends are extremely worrying for current and future generations of children,” Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF’s regional director for West and Central Africa told The Associated Press. “Not only have grave violations against children perpetrated by parties to the conflicts not stopped across West and Central Africa, but we have even seen a spike over the past five years, with a 50% increase in the total number of verified grave violations,” she said. AP

Militiamen Kill at Least 20 in Eastern Congo Attack
Militiamen killed about 20 people during an attack on displaced civilians in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the government said on Monday. Fighters from the CODECO militia raided the village of Drodro on Sunday night, Jules Ngongo, a spokesperson for Ituri’s military government, told Reuters. He said they killed 12 civilians, six of them children. Patrick Muyaya, the spokesperson for the national government, later said on Twitter that the death toll stood at around 20. Repeated attacks by CODECO have killed hundreds of civilians in Ituri province’s Djugu territory since 2017 and forced thousands to flee their homes, according to the United Nations. CODECO’s fighters are drawn mainly from the Lendu farming community, which has long been in conflict with Hema herders. “Their objective was to attack the population that was displaced in Drodro,” Ngongo said. Reuters

More Protests Expected in Sudan despite Reinstatement of Prime Minister
Sulaima Al Khalifa, a human rights activist in Sudan, said the current deal did not change the situation on the ground. “We did not expect it. It was a surprise and shock. We fear there is a lot of pressure happening, Hamdok is under pressure … the violation of the rights of the people is still ongoing. Since 25th we don’t have a state,” she said. On Sunday, a teenager was shot dead during a protest in the city of Omdurman according to a pro-democracy Sudanese doctors group. … Jonas Horner, a senior analyst on Sudan affairs at the International Crisis Group, said the prime minister will hold less power after Sunday’s political deal in Khartoum. “Hamdok appears to have been returned to power under some duress. He has made of the calculation he would rather be inside the process that now appears to be solidly controlled by the military, by the coup-makers from October 25 rather than being outside. The military had relied on bringing Hamdok back in that had been their key strategic approach. Hamdok does bring the military government a level of credibility,” said Horner. VOA

Family of Sudan Protest Victim Speaks Out
At least 41 protesters have been killed in anti-coup protests in Sudan since generals deposed the country’s civilian government, according to the latest tally on Sunday from the Sudan Doctors Committee, which has been keeping track of protest-related deaths. Sudanese have been taking to the streets in masses since the military takeover, which upended the country’s fragile transition to democracy. Doctors said at least 15 people were killed by live fire during anti-coup demonstrations. Outside their home, [the family members of Abu Bakr Salah, a 27-year-old Sudanese man who was shot in the chest during a protest] received mourners who offered their condolences. “May God take revenge on them, we cannot do anything,” one of his sisters said, before she burst into tears. The military have stopped ambulances carrying injured protesters from reaching hospitals, police have entered emergency rooms, arrested patients, and fired tear gas inside at least two hospitals in the country’s capital since the Oct. 25 coup, according to a report from The Unified Office of Sudanese Doctors. AfricaNews with AP

Aid Workers Say Mediterranean a ‘Liquid Graveyard’ after 75 Feared Dead off Libya
More than 75 people are feared dead after their boat capsized in stormy seas off the coast of Libya while attempting to reach Europe in one of the deadliest shipwrecks this year, according to the UN. Fifteen survivors were rescued by local fishers and brought to the port of Zuwara in north-western Libya. They said there were about 92 people onboard the vessel when the incident took place on 17 November. Most of those who died came from sub-Saharan Africa. According to aid workers, people smugglers are sending hundreds of people to sea this autumn, careless of stormy weather. Many of the journeys ended in tragedy. … An estimated 1,300 people have died or gone missing while attempting to cross the central Mediterranean so far this year. In April, more than 120 died in a single incident. This autumn, since the beginning of October, nearly 170 people from Africa and the Middle East have died, overwhelmed by the waves or cold on the main migration routes attempting to reach Europe. The Guardian

Morocco Acquires Israeli Skylock Dome System
The Moroccan military has acquired the Skylock Dome System from Israel to bolster its defense capabilities against enemy drones. Developed by Skylock Systems, the weapon can detect, verify, and neutralize unauthorized drones. It will reportedly be used to protect the country’s critical civilian and military facilities. According to the Morocco Royal Armed Forces, the country has intensified the acquisition of unmanned anti-aircraft systems and drones that better recognize and neutralize enemy aircraft than conventional defense systems. The Skylock Dome System was first unveiled during the biennial International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in February. A total of 27 nations, including Morocco, have purchased the anti-drone weapon system. Skylock chief executive Itzik Huber said the defense system is “extremely effective” and can provide the military with broad protection against the growing aerial threat of state-of-the-art enemy drones. He explained that the Skylock Dome System is a “simple and relatively cheap” defense system. The Defense Post

Africa Internet Riches Plundered, Contested by China Broker
Millions of internet addresses assigned to Africa have been waylaid, some fraudulently, including through insider machinations linked to a former top employee of the nonprofit that assigns the continent’s addresses. Instead of serving Africa’s internet development, many have benefited spammers and scammers… New leadership at the nonprofit, AFRINIC, is working to reclaim the lost addresses. But a legal challenge by a deep-pocketed Chinese businessman is threatening the body’s very existence. The businessman is Lu Heng, a Hong Kong-based arbitrage specialist. Under contested circumstances, he obtained 6.2 million African addresses from 2013 to 2016. That’s about 5% of the continent’s total — more than Kenya has. AFRINIC made no claim of graft when it revoked Lu’s addresses, now worth about $150 million, saying his company was not adequately serving Africa’s interests. Lu fought back. His lawyers in late July persuaded a judge in Mauritius, where AFRICNIC is based, to freeze its bank accounts. His company also filed a $80 million defamation claim against AFRINIC and its new CEO. It’s a shock to the global networking community, which has long considered the internet as technological scaffolding for advancing society. Some worry it could undermine the entire numerical address system that makes the internet work. AP

Kenyan President Starts 2-Day State Visit to South Africa
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has been welcomed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to start a two-day state visit to South Africa. Ramaphosa met with Kenyatta at his offices in the Union Buildings Tuesday where the two leaders held a press conference. While in South Africa Kenyatta is to visit the Aspen Pharmacare factory in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) on Wednesday to see the production of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccines there. The facility is assembling the J&J vaccines and can produce about 220 million doses of the J&J vaccines per year, many of which are being exported throughout Africa. Kenya is one of South Africa’s largest trading partners in Africa outside the 15-nation Southern African Development Community. South Africa exported about $500 million worth of goods to Kenya in 2020, compared to imports of about $22 million, according to official statistics. More than 60 South African companies are operating in Kenya. AP

Kenya Will Impose Widespread Restrictions on the Unvaccinated Starting Next Month.
Kenya will require people to show proof of coronavirus vaccination to enter many businesses, restaurants and government offices starting next month, a major policy shift that has prompted outrage in a country where less than 5 percent of the total population is fully vaccinated. Mutahi Kagwe, the cabinet secretary for health, said on Sunday that he was concerned about a slowdown in vaccinations and hoped the new rules would persuade more people to get their shots. With schools closing and the country heading into the festive season, he said there were concerns that people would become complacent about public health measures, including social distancing and wearing masks. … The new restrictions were met with skepticism, with many lamenting its impracticality. Some pointed to the low vaccination rates among the adult population, with just 8.8 percent of them fully vaccinated. Others said the mandate could open the door to more corruption, bribery and the proliferation of fake vaccine certificates. Critics said the government should not only make sure that vaccines are available to all but also should come up with better strategies to address misinformation and resistance to getting vaccinated. The New York Times

Burkina Faso Internet Shutdown Curtails Information, Draws Criticism
An internet and mobile phone disruption that began in Burkina Faso on Saturday continued into Monday, causing a widespread communication blackout, confusion and frustration. People in the country report the 3G mobile network, which much of the West African country relies on, is not working. However, fixed line and wireless services, or WiFi, have not been disrupted, a diplomat based in the capital city, Ouagadougou, told VOA. “Nothing has officially been communicated on the reason for cutting the 3G from what I have seen,” said the diplomat, who wasn’t authorized to speak to the media. Burkina Faso’s government issued a statement after the publication of this article saying that the mobile internet shutdown was issued due to national defense and public security reasons and that the disruption was to last for about 96 hours from its start on Saturday night. The shutdown began the same day a group of demonstrators blocked a French military convoy attempting to travel through the city of Kaya. The convoy of about 60 vehicles and 100 soldiers, headed from Ivory Coast to Niger and Mali, was forced to turn back to the capital of Ouagadougou due to the protest, according to official sources who spoke to VOA’s Bambara Service. VOA

Nigeria: How ‘Over 100’ Bandits Stormed Our Community in ‘War Style’ – Katsina Residents
Barawa came under bandits’ attack on Sunday night, which went on for more than three hours, according to the residents. Though under Batagarawa LGA, the village is on the road leading to Batsari local government, the hotbed of bandits’ activities in Katsina State. It is a 10 kilometres drive from the state capital, Katsina and a few kilometres from the Katsina office of AIT/ Raypower, the Federal Radio Corporation and Companion FM. The Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps Training School in the state is also on the same road, situated six kilometres to the village. The people of the community told this reporter that the bandits were over 100 and did not come on motorcycles. … Commenting on the attack, Sani Danlami, the state’s Commissioner of Sports and Social Development, said the state government was supporting victims of attacks. “Not only in Barawa, residents of Gwarjo in Matazu local government and those from Batsari Local Government Area are also part of those benefiting from the relief materials. We have provided N50,000 to each of those wounded in all the communities. “Today (Monday 22) I went to the village and handed them the relief materials and the money. Security agents would be supported to avert attacks while we’ll continue to provide succour to them.” Premium Times

Small Businesses Bear the Brunt of Nigerian Separatist Lockdowns
Since July, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which is agitating for the secession of a swath of the southeast that is home to the Igbo ethnic group, has issued sit-at-home directives to people across the region. The restrictions were imposed following the repatriation from Kenya of the group’s charismatic leader Nnamdi Kanu, to face trial on seven federal charges, including terrorism and treason. Like Nwankwo, many residents of the region say the lockdowns are now having a severe economic impact on them. A survey carried out in the region by Lagos-based geopolitical advisory firm SBM Intelligence found that two-thirds of respondents felt their productivity was extremely affected by the restrictions. Of the respondents who said their productivity remained the same, half were students and teachers who were already at home for the school holidays. That was in August. By the end of October, outgoing Anambra Governor Willie Obiano announced that schools would remain open on Saturdays to make up for the halt to business-as-usual on Mondays. Charles Soludo, the state’s governor-elect and a former head of Nigeria’s central bank, has said the state loses an estimated 19.6 billion Nigerian naira ($47.70m) every day of lockdowns. In Ebonyi, the governor was more conservative, putting the figure at 10 billion Nigerian naira ($24.34m) in losses. Al Jazeera

Somaliland Launches Revamped Berbera Airport
Somaliland, the self-declared independent region north of Somalia, on Saturday officially launched a renovated Berbera International Airport, seeking a slice of the growing aviation earnings in the region. President Muse Bihi, alongside Somaliland government officials and a delegation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), cut the ribbon, officially announcing that the airport, locally known as madaarka caalamiga ah ee Berbera, is open to commercial operations. The airport is located a short distance off the port town of Berbera. With nearly five kilometres of runway, the airport will have a new expanded passenger terminal, including the much-needed separation between arriving and departing passengers as well as the security separation from the airside. Officials say they want the modernised airport to start attracting major airlines in the region. With a major seaport, Somaliland hopes the airport could add to lucrative connectivity, aiding business with neighbours. The EastAfrican

Underpaid and under Fire: The Risky Business of Monitoring Congo’s Volatile Volcano
Funding challenges and security threats are hampering the monitoring of one of the world’s most volatile volcanoes – the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Mount Nyiragongo – even after a May eruption cost dozens of lives and left tens of thousands of people living in displacement camps. Money is so short at the Goma Volcano Observatory (GVO) that staff members complained of sometimes lacking fuel for field trips, having computers that can’t process hefty data sets, and wearing faulty masks that don’t protect them from gases spewed out by Mount Nyiragongo. GVO researchers say they work in risky conditions with limited security support. The monitoring sites where they travel to collect data are located in remote places in Virunga National Park, a wildlife sanctuary that is also home to a patchwork of armed groups. Staff members have been shot and wounded while on duty. “We could predict [eruptions] if we had funding and if we had security in Virunga,” Honoré Ciraba, a senior scientist at the GVO, told The New Humanitarian earlier this month. The New Humanitarian



Photo: Adam Jones