Africa Media Review for November 8, 2016

DRC: RFI and Radio Okapi Signals Still Jammed 
Radio signals of RFI and UN radio, Radio Okapi have been interrupted in Kinshasa with some observers pointing accusing f at Congolese authorities. The French radio signal was cut off on Friday evening in Kinshasa while the UN radio signal was interrupted on Saturday morning. On Sunday, Thomas Lusaka, Minister of telecommunications, information and communication technologies, acknowledged that he is informed about the problem and assured that the regulatory body in charge of posts and telecommunications of Congo (ARPTC) is working on a solution. Africa News

Congo’s President Tightens Grip on Power, as Former Allies Squeeze Him Out
The bloody efforts of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s longtime president to retain power have plunged the country further into violent crisis and risk undoing the fragile stability of one of the world’s most mineral-rich economies. Joseph Kabila, once hailed as the deft negotiator who ended Africa’s deadliest war, in recent months has canceled elections slated for November and insisted the government needs more preparation time. More than 50 people were killed in a two-day government crackdown in September, the United Nations said. On Oct. 17, Mr. Kabila’s ruling coalition formally announced it would postpone elections until at least 2018. The widely expected decision marked the latest dispiriting twist for opposition supporters who braved the streets for months and could signal an ominous new chapter in political confrontation. The delay has alienated Mr. Kabila’s allies at home and abroad—including the U.S.—who once vaunted the 45-year-old former rebel commander as the hope for Congo’s stability. The Wall Street Journal

Army Releases 1,271 Boko Haram Detainees
The Nigerian Army said on Monday that it had so far released about 1,271 detainees after clearing them of any link with the Boko Haram terrorists group. The General Officer Commanding 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maiduguri, Brig.-Gen. Victor Ezugwu, disclosed this while speaking at a forum for the reintegration of children associated with armed forces or armed groups in Maiduguri. Ezugwu, who was represented by Col. Yusuf Ali, said that most of those released were women and children. He said, “The Nigerian Army gives utmost priority to the rights of detainees especially women and children. The Punch

Nigeria Sends Female Police to Protect Boko Haram Victims
Police in the north-eastern Nigerian state of Borno say they have deployed 100 female officers to camps for those who have fled Boko Haram’s insurgency. The female officers will ensure the protection of women, said state police commissioner Damian Chukwu. A Human Rights Watch report last week alleged that several women had been sexually abused by security officers. Boko Haram’s seven-year battle to create an Islamic state has forced thousands from their homes. BBC

Kenya Denies UN Report of Illegal Trade in Somalia
Kenya on Sunday dismissed a United Nations report linking its troops to illicit charcoal trade from a port under their control in Somalia. State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu condemned the allegation “in the strongest terms possible,” terming it “hogwash masquerading as research.” The Kenyan troops are part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which is helping the Somali government battle terror group Al-Shabaab. “We are focused on the job that took us to Somalia in the first place, and will not be distracted by the latest hogwash masquerading as research,” Esipisu told journalists in Nairobi. IOL News

Prospect of Offshore Oil Offers Mixed Blessing for Somalia
Somalia looks more likely to strike oil than gas in its long pursuit of offshore riches, making it easier for the African state to exploit any windfall but also potentially upsetting the fragile recovery led by its Western-backed government. The waters off Somalia, best known for years of piracy, may harbor hydrocarbons at a depth where crude is usually found, seismic services company Spectrum said last week its research showed. This is unlike the seas further south along the African coastline where gas is abundant. That would be good news for Somalia, which would likely find pumping out oil onto tankers easier than securing the multi-billion dollar investment needed to liquefy gas for export. Reuters

Pirates Hit Chemical Tanker off Somalia
A chemical tanker has been attached by suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia in the first such incident in more than two years. The European Union Naval Force (EU Navfor) reported that the chemical tanker CPO Korea was reported as being attacked by six armed men 330 nautical miles off the east coast of Somalia on 22 October. Although it happened last month, the EU Navfor only announced the attack on 4 November after “a thorough investigation into the incident”. During the attack a number of shots were exchanged between the six armed men, who were in a fast-moving skiff, and the armed security team on board CPO Korea. The suspected pirates eventually broke away after CPO Korea’s crew successfully implemented self-protection measures by increasing speed, altering course and rigging fire hoses to thwart the attack. CPO Korea was able to continue her transit in the Indian Ocean, with no casualties reported. DefenceWeb

U.S. Ready to Resume Air Strikes in Libya If Needed: Pentagon
The United States is prepared to carry out more air strikes against Islamic State militants in Sirte if requested by Libya’s U.N.-backed government, even though the militant group no longer controls much territory there, the Pentagon said on Monday. Since August the United States has carried out more than 350 air strikes against Islamic State at the request of the Government of National Accord (GNA). However, none have been carried out since Oct. 31, officials said. “If additional air strikes are needed, we will be prepared to deliver those air strikes,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said at a news conference. Reuters

‘1 in 4 Children’ Victims of Sexual Violence in Africa
One in four children in many countries in Africa experience sexual violence, a document presented at the “International Policy Conference on the African Child” in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa said Monday. The two-day conference on the premises of the UN Economic Commission for Africa brought together policy makers, academics, civil society organizations and nongovernmental organizations. According to the conference booklet titled “Crimes and Extreme Violence against Children in Africa: A Glimpse Into Our Hidden Shame,” too many children in Africa face violence, often fatal, while the problem remained largely hidden from public attention. “In many countries in Africa, one in four children, experience sexual violence,” it said. Anadolu Agency

Zimbabwe: ‘The Endgame is Nearer Than It Has Ever Been’ – Morgan Tsvangirai
Morgan Tsvangirai lives in a very nice house. It’s a grey, two-storey mansion in the heart of one of Harare’s most exclusive suburbs, complete with imposing pillars, sweeping driveway, and a putting green. From here, gazing out onto the manicured lawns that are beginning to show just a hint of neglect, Tsvangirai is planning for Zimbabwe’s post-Mugabe future. The house perfectly encapsulates the contradictions that haunt Tsvangirai himself. It was bought, at vast expense, by the government when Tsvangirai was Prime Minister during the Government of National Unity. He got to keep the place when that experiment ended in 2013, even though his party had been turfed out of power in yet another dodgy Zimbabwean election. Is the house a fair reward for the blood, sweat and tears that Tsvangirai has dedicated to reforming Zimbabwe? Is it a bricks-and-mortar bribe, designed by Zanu-PF to compromise him? Can a man who lives in a mansion ever really claim to speak for the people? Is Tsvangirai leading the fight against the system, or is he now part of the system, the necessary yin to Robert Mugabe’s yang? Have his recent years of luxury and power made him soft? Daily Maverick

Court Cases Could Hamper Ghana’s Elections
A handful of political parties are suing the country’s election management body for disqualifying their would-be candidates from running for the presidency on December 7. The Electoral Commission of Ghana (ECG) made the decision after it detected errors in the nomination forms handed in by the candidates. This legal action has raised fears that the elections might have to be postponed. Political analyst Kwesi Jonah thinks the commission should try to reach an out-of-court settlement with the concerned candidates: “Assuming that we are not able to hold elections on December 7 because of the court cases, what happens?” he asked. Jonah would like Ghana to maintain its reputation as a peaceful country with a tradition of free, fair and transparent elections. Deutsche Welle

Tanzania Deal With Switzerland Aims at Finding Hidden Money
Tanzania’s foreign minister says the country has signed a memorandum of understanding with Switzerland to help the East African country recover money illegally kept in Swiss banks by Tanzanian nationals. Augustine Mahiga said Monday the agreement “has a number of areas of cooperation, which include sharing intelligence on economic crime.” Many Tanzanian officials and businesspeople are believed to have bank accounts in Switzerland, and opposition lawmakers here have long criticized authorities for not taking action against officials accused of hiding their wealth abroad. AP on ABC News

More African Countries Pledge Support for ICC – HRW
As three African countries, Burundi, Gambia, South Africa, are preparing to leave the International Criminal Court, many others on the continent have pledged their support towards it, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). HRW said in a statement that more countries in Africa had spoken out against leaving the ICC. Ivory Coast , Nigeria , Zambia , Malawi, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Botswana werevamong the countries that had pledged their support towards the court. This came just days after South Africa which is deemed as a leading powerhouse on the continent said that it would be leaving the Hague-based court. News 24

Tunisia Adopts Strategy to Fight ‘Terrorism’
Tunisia’s national security council on Monday adopted a strategy to fight “terrorism and extremism,” two days after ISIS said it had killed a soldier. The North African country has experienced a rise in religious extremism since the 2011 revolution that ousted longtime dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Its security forces have been battling a militant movement responsible for killing dozens of soldiers and police officers as well as civilians including 59 foreign tourists. The presidency, in a statement, said the “national strategy to fight against extremism and terrorism” is built around the four main axes of “prevention, protection, judicial proceedings and retaliation.” AFP on Al Arabiya

Bondholders to Mozambique: Go Fish
Investors are preparing to fight Mozambique’s plan to restructure their $726 million of bonds a second time, threatening a stalemate that could delay the country’s access to much-needed aid. Bondholders are forming a committee to prepare for a potential default and say they won’t negotiate debt relief now because they mistrust the government’s financial disclosures and want it to seek relief from other creditors first, according to people familiar with the matter. Investors are particularly angry that Mozambique has proposed restructuring their bonds alongside $1.2 billion of bank loans that were undisclosed until The Wall Street Journal reported their existence in April. By that time, most bondholders had already voted to accept the first restructuring, which converted bonds they had bought from a state-owned company into sovereign government debt but delayed repayment for three years. The Wall Street Journal

South Africa’s Julius Malema Challenges Apartheid-era Law
South African opposition figure Julius Malema is challenging an apartheid-era law used to prosecute him over calls to occupy white-owned land. He is accused of urging his supporters to occupy white-owned land in a speech he gave in June, in contravention to the 1956 Riotous Assemblies Act. A judge has agreed to postpone his trial while he challenges the act in the Constitutional Court. Land reform is still a highly sensitive issue in South Africa. Twenty-two years after the end of white-minority rule, most of the country’s best farmland is owned by a few thousand white farmers. BBC

Internet Outages in West Africa Raise Fears that Hackers Are Testing Their Weapons
Brief internet outages this week in Liberia have captured the attention of cybersecurity researchers around the world, who fear the small West African nation has become a testing zone for global hackers. Punishing digital attacks sent all of Liberia offline for short, intermittent periods, often barely a second. One cybersecurity researcher said the attacks were “weapon testing” and might signal that hackers were preparing a much larger, similar attack in Europe or North America. The hackers employed a now-free weapon called Mirai, which harnesses thousands of internet-connected devices – such as baby monitors, home routers and closed-circuit cameras – and turns them into zombie digital soldiers in a “botnet” army that fires digital signals and overwhelms servers with traffic, grinding internet service to a halt. Hackers used the same malicious tool to yoke together about 100,000 infected devices for an attack Oct. 21 on a New Hampshire-based internet backbone company, Dyn, that knocked Amazon, Twitter, Netflix, Airbnb, Reddit, Spotify and dozens of other companies off the internet for part of a day. That crippling attack using the so-called “Internet of Things” signaled a new era of low-cost malicious assaults. McClatchy

As US Chooses New President, Africa Looks at Obama’s Legacy
Barack Hussein Obama made headlines in 2008 when he became the first black president – or the first Kenyan-American president – of the United States. As the son of a Kenyan father, his election was widely celebrated across Africa. Eight years on, opinions remain divided on his legacy in Africa. In terms of symbolic value, Barack Obama cannot be faulted. His victory was hailed as proof that the US had turned its back on a past of slavery and segregation. Beyond America’s borders, expectations were also high. “When Barack Obama was elected, I told myself not to expect too much, the disappointment was going to be certain,” Douglas Yates, a professor at the American Graduate School in Paris, told RFI by phone on Monday. RFI

From Kenya, US Gets Helping Hand With Election Monitoring
Eight years ago, as post-election violence swept her native Kenya, activist and lawyer Ory Okolloh tried frantically to keep pace with the developments on her popular politics blog, using tips from journalists, legislators, and ordinary Kenyans to share news about attacks and intimidation around the country. Then she had a somewhat counterintuitive idea – why not write herself out of that equation? What if Kenyans could report the violence themselves, on a platform that would track and display trends across the country in real time? The result was Ushahidi – Swahili for “testimony” – a crowd-sourced map showing reports of violence collected by text message. It proved so popular and effective that in the years that followed, the open-source software spread around the world, finding uses from monitoring post-earthquake disaster relief in Haiti to tracking road closures after snowstorms in Washington D.C. CS Monitor

The Crowdsourcing Movement to Improve African Maps
In map after map after map, many African countries appear as a void, marked with a color that signifies not a percentage or a policy but merely offers an explanation: “no data available.” Where numbers or cartography has left African countries behind, developers are stepping in with open-source tools that allow anyone from academics to your everyday smartphone user to improve maps of the continent. One such project is Missing Maps, which invites people to use satellite imagery on mapping platform OpenStreetMap to fill out roads, buildings and other features in various parts of Africa that lack these markers. Active projects on åMissing Maps include everything from mapping houses in Malawi to marking roads in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones