Africa Media Review for October 16, 2019

Mozambique Holds Peaceful Election after Violent Campaign
Mozambique voted in a general election on Tuesday hailed by the president as a sign the country was progressing “peacefully”, as fears the poll could be marred by violence proved unwarranted. The Frelimo party, which has ruled the country since independence from Portugal in 1975, is widely expected to again beat its civil war foe Renamo, a rebel group turned main opposition party. One of the most violent campaigns in the southern African country’s history had sparked concerns the vote could test a fragile peace deal sealed earlier this year. But polling stations closed at 18:00 (16:00 GMT) without serious incidents, according to local NGOs, although there were some reports of vote tampering. … Vote counting has started and preliminary results are expected to be announced on Thursday. But with some concerns over irregularities Renamo’s presidential candidate Ossufo Momade, 58, warned: “If these results are manipulated we will never accept them, we do not want a return to the problems of the past.” AFP

Africa: Global Index Finds Climate Change Driving ‘Alarming’ Hunger Levels
Central African Republic topped an annual world hunger index on Tuesday as aid agencies warned that climate change was making it increasingly hard to feed the world. Aid agency Concern Worldwide, which co-compiles the Global Hunger Index, said progress towards a 2030 zero hunger target agreed by world leaders was “under threat or is being reversed.” Hunger levels in CAR, driven by violence since 2013, are “extremely alarming,” while levels in Chad, Madagascar, Yemen, and Zambia are “alarming,” according to the index released on the eve of World Food Day. … Nine countries of concern were omitted due to lack of data, including Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria.The report called for more ambitious action to reduce climate change risks to food security as well as improving disaster preparation and response, and transforming food production and consumption, especially in high-income countries. Thomson Reuters Foundation

Millions of South Sudanese Struggling to Feed Themselves: ICRC
More than half of South Sudan’s population is struggling to have enough to eat, a humanitarian institution said Wednesday on World Food Day. World Food Day is celebrated every year around the world on 16 October in honour of the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945. In a press release extended to Radio Tamazuj, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said while food insecurity has improved slightly since the same period last year, millions of South Sudanese are still dependent on food aid for their survival. “The hunger crisis in South Sudan is man-made,” said Ottavio Sardu, who manages ICRC’s livelihood and food security programs in South Sudan. “Years of conflict and violence have uprooted millions from their homes and livelihoods. People need resources and stability to plant, rebuild, and start a new life.” The humanitarian organization said it has provided food, seeds, and farming tools to more than a million South Sudanese this year, a signal of how widespread food insecurity is in the country. Radio Tamazuj

Dialogue on Insecurity in West Africa Takes Off
The 2nd edition of the Abuja Dialogue opened on Tuesday with a call for reform in the agricultural sector in West Africa and the Sahel as solutions to curbing insecurity in the region.The theme of the dialogue is “Migration and Inter-community Conflicts in West Africa and the Sahel: Which endogenous solutions for security for all.” The event was organised by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and Co-financed by the European Union to establish a diagnosis of the current security situation in West Africa and the Sahel and proffer endogenous solutions. … Dr. Émile Ouédraogo, Senior Peace and Security expert, African Center for Strategic Studies from Burkina Faso, said that the insecurity in the region if not checked would lead to migration issues. Ouédraogo said that the region was marked with multiple crises with compound issues, adding that the increase in inter-community crises had led to humanitarian crises affecting almost every country in the region. He called on countries in the region to begin to look inwards to use endogenous solutions to achieve long lasting peace to avoid regional humanitarian crises. APA

Nigeria’s Land Borders Closed to All Goods, Official Confirms
Nigeria has closed its land borders to all movement of goods and has no timeline for reopening them, [Hameed Ali], the head of the nation’s customs agency said. … President Muhammadu Buhari unexpectedly closed Nigeria’s borders to imported goods in August declaring the time had come to end rampant smuggling across the porous frontiers. … Ali’s announcement this week was the first official confirmation of a total shutdown in trade across Nigeria’s land borders – including goods that had been moving legally. … Nigeria relies heavily on imports to feed its booming population of some 190 million, but the government is seeking to bolster domestic agriculture as it looks to diversify the oil-dependent economy. Unilateral border closures go against all commercial and freedom of movement treaties signed under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The closure has also cast a shadow over a historic free-trade agreement, signed by 54 out of 55 African countries, that reached a key operational threshold in July. Al Jazeera

Nigerian Air Force Wings ‘First Female Fighter Pilot in 55 Years’
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Tuesday in Abuja winged its first female fighter pilot, first female helicopter pilot and first female Air Warrant Officer. The first female fighter (combatant) pilot winged is Flying Officer Kafayat Sanni and first female helicopter pilot, Tolulope Arotile. They were the two female pilots among the 13 that were winged. The two female pilots had successfully completed their pilot training courses in the United States of America and South Africa. The newly-promoted first female Air Warrant Officer, Grace Garba, was also decorated with her new rank. … Pauline Tallen, the minister of Women Affairs, who graced the occasion, expressed happiness to be part of the event. Mrs Tallen congratulated the female pilots and the Air Warrant Officer for the feat, saying that history had been made. Speaking to journalists, Ms Sanni said she would play her part in the ongoing counter-insurgency operations in the North East. NAN

‘We Looked to Escape Death’: Violence Uproots Nearly 500,000 in Burkina Faso
A wave of violent attacks and suspected terrorist activity in Burkina Faso has triggered a sudden humanitarian crisis, uprooting hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in what was once one of West Africa’s most tranquil nations. In the space of just three weeks, the number of internally displaced people in Burkina Faso has increased by almost 70 percent to nearly half a million people, in a nation of 20 million, according to the United Nations refugee agency. About one-third of the country’s territory has become engulfed in fighting between armed groups, making the area inaccessible to aid workers, UNICEF officials said. … Several military outposts in the northern Sahel region have been abandoned after being attacked by armed men, according to two government officials and an international security adviser, who were unwilling to be identified because of sensitivities related to the deteriorating security situation. The New York Times

Tensions High as South Sudan Faces Unity Government Deadline
South Sudan’s fragile peace deal is faltering less than a month before the country’s president and armed opposition leader are meant to form a coalition government and begin the long recovery from a five-year civil war. Some doubt it’s safe enough for opposition leader Riek Machar to return to the country by Nov. 12, when he would again serve as President Salva Kiir’s deputy, an arrangement that has collapsed in fighting more than once. Machar won’t return unless security measures are in place, including a 3,000-member force for his protection, said the opposition’s deputy chairman, Henry Odwar. “The city is militarized, mistrust is high and Riek Machar’s return in that environment without serious security arrangements in place could be dangerous,” said Lauren Blanchard, an analyst with the U.S. Congress who recently visited with a congressional delegation. It’s difficult to see how the new government can be formed safely next month, she said. The government vows to move ahead. If the opposition doesn’t return it will be seen as holding the country “hostage,” said government spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny. AP

Pressure Builds on Burundian Refugees in Tanzania amid Threat of Forced Return
A plan to repatriate some 200,000 Burundian refugees living in Tanzanian camps has raised concerns that many who fled the country to escape violence may be forced back home, just as Burundi’s 2020 elections increase the prospects of a new political crisis. In August, Burundian and Tanzanian officials announced that 2,000 refugees would be repatriated every week starting from 1 October. The plan has not yet resulted in forced returns, but pressure is building on the refugees to leave. Some NGOs delivering aid in the country told The New Humanitarian that access to camps was being restricted and that their ability to provide services that would encourage refugees to stay was being curtailed. In a televised speech last week, Tanzanian President John Magufuli said Burundi is now “stable” and that refugees would not be granted citizenship in Tanzania, as was once the case. “Go back to your home,” Magufuli said. “Don’t insist on staying in Tanzania as refugees.” The New Humanitarian

Is Rwanda Planning Surprise Military Strikes in Uganda?
Uganda’s armed forces have intensified preparations to defend the country especially western Uganda which is expected to be invaded by Rwanda Defence force (RDF) and its associated militia groups. Senior Presidential Advisor in Charge of Special Operations, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba blew the lid off the military threat faced by Uganda when he said enemies planning to destabilize the country should be prepared to be “crushed to dust.” He said “nobody can defeat Uganda” which he described as “a country of God.” The former Special Forces Commander also cautioned that Uganda’s enemies faced a “bad day” if they attempted to disrupt the country’s stability. Since then, information has emerged, showing Rwanda’s continued sprawling military deployments not only in South Kivu but also North Kivu in Eastern Congo. The areas occupied by Rwandan forces, some of whom are said to be using military uniform of the Congolese army (FARDC), are near the Ugandan border. This is the second time in less than a year that the Rwandan and Ugandan forces are inching closer to a fully-fledged armed conflict. Chimp Reports

Museveni Gives Uganda Police 2 Days to Combat Urban Crime
Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday issued an ultimatum to the country’s security agencies, directing the police to share a plan for combating urban crime in two days. The president, who was reacting to an increase in reported cases of burglary and robberies described the perpetrators as ‘pigs attacking people with pangas (machetes) and mitayimbwa (steel-bars). ”I have given 2 days to Commander Sabiiti of the Police to come out with a plan to combat these gangs. I will look at that plan, comment on it and it will, then, be communicated to all of you,” Museveni said in a statement shared on his official Twitter account. … Museveni’s government, which for a long time prided itself on securing Ugandans, has in recent years, struggled to deal with an upsurge in urban crime. Several kidnappings, robberies, murders and assassinations of high profile profiles have remained unsolved despite several security interventions by the president himself. Africa News

Chinese Snooping Tech Spreads to Nations Vulnerable to Abuse
While facial recognition technology is being adopted in many countries, spurring debate over the balance between privacy and safety, the Huawei system has gained extra attention due to accusations that Chinese laws requiring companies to assist in national intelligence work give authorities access to its data. As a result, some countries are reconsidering using Huawei technology, particularly the superfast 5G networks that are being rolled out later this year. Still, Huawei, which denies accusations of any Chinese government control, has had no trouble finding customers eager to install its so-called Safe Cities technology, particularly among countries that China has brought closer into its diplomatic and economic orbit. When longtime President Yoweri Museveni launched a $126-million project to install Huawei facial recognition systems a year ago, he said the cameras were “eyes, ears and a nose” to fight rampant street crime in the sprawling capital, Kampala. Opposition activists say the real goal is to deter street protesters against an increasingly unpopular government. AP

Kenya Opens Chinese-Built Railway Linking Rift Valley Town to Nairobi
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta is due to open a new $1.5 billion Chinese rail line on Wednesday linking the capital Nairobi to the Rift Valley town of Naivasha, despite delays in establishing an industrial park there to drive freight traffic. The extension links to the $3.2 billion line between the port of Mombasa and Nairobi that opened in 2017, also suffering from underutilisation of its cargo services. Both sections were Chinese-funded and Chinese-built. The development of Kenya’s railways has been part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, a multi-billion dollar series of infrastructure projects upgrading land and maritime trade routes between China and Europe, Asia and Africa. Kenya had planned to open an industrial park in Naivasha, offering companies tax breaks for investing in manufacturing, and preferential tariffs for electricity generated in the nearby geothermal fields. But that has been delayed. Reuters

Rwanda Opposition Leader Undergoing ‘Psychological Torture’
The main opposition party in Rwanda, FDU-Inkingi, says its leader, Victoire Ingabire, is undergoing “psychological torture” a week after she was summoned and questioned by police over a recent attack in the northern region. Ms Ingabire, 51, has denied any links to the 8 October attack which killed 14 people in Musanze district near Volcanoes National Park, a popular tourist spot. “I am fighting a political war but it is not a war of bullets,” Ms Ingabire told the BBC’s Great Lakes Service last week. In a statement, FDU-Inkingi said that the police have been summoning Ms Ingabire for questioning without her lawyer, knowing that they cannot ask her any questions without her legal representative. “It seems to be done as a psychological ploy to wear down her mental capabilities and to humiliate her,” the party said. … Since September last year, when Ms Ingabire was released from prison after a presidential pardon, she has had to report every month to the prosecutor’s office. She had been serving a 15-year jail term for threatening state security and “belittling” the 1994 genocide. BBC

Rwanda: Govt, Central Africa Republic Sign Bilateral Pacts
President Paul Kagame and President Faustin-Archange Touadéra of Central Africa Republic (CAR) yesterday witnessed the signing of four pacts in Bangui. The agreements are expected to increase partnership and cooperation between the two nations, particularly in areas of defence, mining and oil, investment promotion as well as a bilateral investment treaty. President Kagame was in Bangui on a one day state visit to Central Africa Republic on the invitation of President Touadéra. … The signing of the pacts, Kagame said, was an indication of a new chapter in bilateral ties between the two countries. … Rwanda has, since 2014, maintained peacekeepers in the Central African Republic and remains the top contributor of troop to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). New Times

Ivory Coast’s Guillaume Soro to Run for 2020 Presidential Race
Ivory Coast’s youngest opposition figure, Guillaume Soro on Saturday, officially declared his intention to run for the country’s 2020 Presidential race. The former rebel and former prime minister made the announcement during a meeting with some of his supporters in Valencia, Spain. “There are pro-Soro parties that have chosen me as a candidate, so yes, I will be a candidate,” he asid. Reports say he is the first major politician to state his intention. While other opposition challengers are yet to officially announced their candidacy, Soro set the ball rolling. Guillaume Soro’s statement comes after President Ouattara floated the idea of possibly running for a third term in 2020. Soro has been touring Europe and meeting Ivorians in the diaspora in recent months to mobilize support. Africa News

Ethiopia Postpones Autonomy Referendum for Ethnic Sidama -Fana News Agency
Ethiopia postponed by a week a referendum on self-determination for its ethnic Sidama community that would have created the country’s 10th autonomous region, Fana news agency reported on Tuesday. The new date for the vote is Nov. 20 instead of Nov. 13, the delay caused by referendum preparations lagging behind, Fana cited an electoral board statement as saying. Ethiopia’s nine regional states enjoy a level of autonomy where they are able to choose their official language and have limited powers over taxation, education, health and land administration. Emboldened by reforms introduced by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since he came to office in 2018, political activists from the Sidama, currently subsumed into one of the nine states, wanted to unilaterally declare a new regional state in July. At least 17 people were killed that same month in clashes between security forces and Sidama activists, while some leaders accepted an offer from the government for a referendum within five months. Reuters

‘This Is Dubai Now’: Nobel-Winning PM’s Plan to Transform Addis Ababa
Under Ethiopia’s charismatic prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, who was recently awarded the Nobel peace prize after forging a peace deal with Eritrea shortly after his appointment in April last year, and his lieutenant in the capital, deputy mayor Takele Uma, Addis Ababa is undergoing its most radical facelift in a generation, with the old station as the centrepiece. The station will anchor a vast development project, also called La Gare, in the heart of the city comprising malls, offices, five-star hotels, more than 4,000 luxury apartments and a surrounding park, as well as, in theory, low-cost housing for the district’s current residents. Covering 36 hectares (89 acres), and with a price tag of $1.8bn (£1.4bn), Eagle Hills’ project was the largest and most expensive of its kind in the country’s history when it was announced last year. It is now already about to be surpassed: according to Takele, a Chinese company is investing $3bn in a 37-hectare, upmarket complex in Addis Ababa’s Gotera district. … The figures are eye-watering, and have provoked criticism in some quarters. The Guardian

Sierra Leone’s ‘Smart Country’ Ambitions
In a recent Facebook photo, President Julius Maada Bio proudly holds a small but high-tech piece of equipment. The device, called MinION, is a portable and relatively cheap DNA and RNA sequencer which can analyze genetic information in seconds. That makes it useful in a variety of fields from biological research to healthcare and agriculture. Bio had met researchers working on the DNA sequencer during a trip to Canada where, earlier in the year, he gave a TED Talk on the future of Sierra Leone. Bio then invited the researchers to visit Sierra Leone to train local scientists and police on the potential uses of the DNA sequencer. The MinION is one of several high tech instruments at the core of Bio’s plans to make Sierra Leone – which ranks 184 out of 189 countries on the human development index – a hub for technology and innovation. … On its website, the DSTI states that President Bio wants to make Sierra Leone “the Estonia of Africa.” DW



Photo: Adam Jones