Africa Media Review for October 21, 2019

“China Also Has to Win”: A Discussion with Yun Sun on One Belt, One Road in Africa
China’s One Belt One Road strategy (OBOR, commonly known as the Belt and Road Initiative) is a global undertaking, encompassing over 1,700 projects in 65 countries, including 20 in Africa. As OBOR comes under increasing criticism over its projects’ lack of transparency, spotty human rights record, and imbalanced debt arrangements, Yun Sun, director of the China program at the Stimson Center, says that African governments need to be “more disciplined” in deciding whether to accept the terms of some deals. At the same time, African citizens and civil society groups should closely scrutinize the projects and deals in their countries. This scrutiny should be accompanied by the understanding that for funding deals to work, they must benefit both sides. “The Chinese approach to Africa is not philanthropy,” she says. “It’s a win-win. … China also has to win in the game.” Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Botswana, Calm for Decades, Faces Surprising Election Fight
Botswana’s ruling party faces the tightest election of its history on Wednesday after former President Ian Khama, annoyed with his hand-picked successor, announced his support for the opposition, shaking up one of Africa’s most stable countries. The influential Khama, son of founding President Seretse Khama, withdrew his support after current President Mokgweetsi Masisi broke with some of his policies, including by loosening restrictions on elephant hunting in an apparent bid to appeal to rural voters. Some Botswanan analysts say Khama defected from his own Botswana Democratic Party because Masisi challenged his control of the party, which has been in power since independence in 1966, and targeted some Khama allies in an anti-corruption drive. … Khama stepped down last year following two terms in office after positioning former deputy Masisi to take over the diamond-rich, landlocked nation that lies north of South Africa. Khama later decided to openly support the opposition coalition Umbrella for Democratic Change and its presidential candidate, human rights lawyer Duma Boko. AP

Mozambique Opposition Rejects Election Results
Mozambique’s main opposition party on Saturday called for this week’s election to be annulled, accusing the government of breaching a peace deal by using violence and intimidation on voting day. Partial results from Tuesday’s election show President Filipe Nyusi and his ruling Frelimo party headed for a major victory but the poll was marred by claims of fraud and irregularities. Renamo accused Frelimo of violating a “cessation of hostilities agreement” under the August peace deal which states no party should “commit acts of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political objectives.” The party said some of its delegates were arrested after they caught poll organisers handing out more than one Frelimo ballot paper to voters. … It called for a cancellation of the vote and asked for “new elections that must be supervised by reputable entities.” Government officials were not immediately available for comment. … On Friday, the US Embassy expressed “significant concerns regarding problems and irregularities” during the voting and counting which “raise questions about the integrity of these procedures and their vulnerability to possible fraudulent acts.” Al Jazeera

Sudan Rebel Leader Says Government Agreed to Open Access for Aid
Sudan has agreed to open humanitarian access to war-torn areas of the country for the first time in eight years as part of a new roadmap enabling suspended peace talks to resume, a rebel leader said on Monday. “We are expecting that the humanitarian situation is going to improve in Darfur, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile,” Yasir Arman, deputy head of a coalition of rebel groups, told Reuters. The Sudanese government and major rebel groups agreed on Friday to the roadmap and signed a declaration confirming their commitment to it on Monday in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, which has hosted the talks for the past week. “Peace is the ultimate goal of the government of Sudan,” Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, a leading member of Sudan’s transitional government, said after signing the agreement on Monday. … The roadmap includes a cessation of hostilities agreement, which both parties have repeatedly broken in the past. The parties agreed on Monday to resume talks after a two-week break. Reuters

South Sudan’s Opposition Leader Warns of Return to Civil War
South Sudan’s opposition leader Riek Machar warned Sunday that the country could return to civil war if a coalition government is formed by a Nov. 12 deadline and he asked for another months-long delay for the crucial step in a fragile peace deal. Machar made an impassioned plea to a visiting United Nations Security Council delegation that met with him and President Salva Kiir to urge speedier progress in pulling the country out of a five-year civil war that killed almost 400,000 people. “Suppose we form a government on the 12th, you know what’s going to happen? The ceasefire we’ve been enjoying for over a year will erupt,” said the visiting Machar, whose opposition has said he won’t return to South Sudan for good until security arrangements are in place. The previous attempt at Kiir and Machar sharing power ended in renewed fighting and Machar fleeing the country on foot in 2016. The issues being discussed today are the same ones that led to that earlier failure, the opposition leader said. AP

UN Study Narrows Down Why Africans Make Fraught Journey to Europe
Migrants take dangerous routes from Africa to Europe not because they need protection or jobs but because their countries do not meet their aspirations quickly enough, a new study by the UN’s development agency found. The report published on Monday by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) referenced 1,970 migrants from 39 African countries in 13 European nations. The study – titled Scaling Fences: Voices of Irregular African Migrants to Europe – said 58 percent of those surveyed were either employed or in school at the time of their departure, and the majority with jobs earning competitive wages. … The report also found the experience of being in Europe differed between men and women: the gender wage gap between men and women in Africa reverses in Europe, with women earning 11 percent more, contrasting with making 26 percent less in Africa. A higher proportion of women were also sending money back, even among those not earning. Al Jazeera

Six Killed in Mali Attack on Pro-government Forces
Six people were killed late Friday when unknown assailants attacked a post held by armed pro-government groups in strife-torn northeastern Mali, the groups said in a statement. Four more people were missing after the attack in Aguelhok, an alliance of pro-government forces calling itself Platform of the June 2014 Movements said. The security situation in Mali has been deteriorating steadily with separatists, salafists and jihadists mounting deadly insurrections since 2012. No military or political solution appears in sight for Mali, despite the deployment of French, African and UN troops in the country. AFP

Malian Army Repels 50 Jihadists in Counter-Offensive
Mali’s army on Friday evening “neutralized” about 50 enemies in a counter-offensive launched after the deadly attacks by jihadists earlier this month in the center of the country. The army is still looking for 27 soldiers missing since the double jihadist attack of September 30 and October 1 in Boulkessy and Mondoro. The attacks resulted in the most casualties the Malian army has suffered in years. Two civilians were killed in Mondoro, 38 soldiers died and 17 were wounded in Boulkessy, according to the army. During the subsequent field recovery and sweep operations, with “a very increased engagement” of the French Barkhane force with Malian troops, “about fifty enemies (were) neutralized, about thirty wounded, materials destroyed”, as well as a large fuel stock, the army said without explicitly saying if the “neutralized” enemies had died. No other source confirmed these figures on Friday evening. The operations confirmed the presence of women involved with the armed groups, the army noted. Africa News with AFP

Several Soldiers Killed in Burkina Faso Attacks
Four soldiers and a police officer have been killed in twin attacks which also left 11 soldiers wounded early on Saturday in the north of Burkina Faso, the army has said in a statement. “Military units in Bahn (Loroum province) and Yense (Yatenga province) were targeted by almost simultaneous terrorist attacks” about 3am (03:00 GMT), the statement said. “These attacks unfortunately cost the lives of five personnel in the units, including one police officer. Eleven soldiers were also injured,” the statement added. The army said the security forces had successfully fought off the assailants before the arrival of reinforcements. Until 2015, the poor West African country was largely spared violence that hit Mali and then Niger, its neighbours to the north. Al Jazeera

Burkina Tourist Hub Loses Western Visitors to Jihadist Threat
“They’ve placed us in the red zone, which means the tourists aren’t coming like before. Even the aid workers don’t come,” said Antoine Atiou, governor of Burkina Faso’s Hauts-Bassins region. The “red zone” refers to the risk of jihadist attacks — a top-end warning by Western embassies to travellers wanting to visit southwest Burkina and the economic capital, Bobo-Dioulasso, once a popular tourist destination. The impact has been brutal for local businesses. The city’s hotels have emptied, its heritage sites are quiet and the souvenir shops shuttered. “It’s hard, hard, hard!… We haven’t seen a tourist for a fortnight,” said Sanou Moumouni, a guide at the city’s mosque and in the historic Kibidwe district for 22 years. … Ministry of tourism statistics from 2017 show that of about half a million annual visitors to Burkina Faso, fewer than 150,000 came from abroad — down 5.6 percent from 2015. The number of nights stayed in the country by Westerners fell from 30,000 in 2012 to fewer than 15,000 in 2017. “This trend has probably sped up in 2018 and 2019,” a local tour operator said. AFP

Cameroon Separatists Open ‘Community Schools’
Separatist groups in parts of Cameroon have opened what they call community schools, to replace government-run schools that have been shut down for the past three years. However, the government is urging parents and students to stay away from the separatist-run facilities. Most schools in the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions have been closed since November 2016, soon after professionals went on strike to protest what they called the marginalization of Anglophones by Cameroon’s French-speaking majority. Armed separatist groups began fighting the government the following year. This week, the separatists said they have opened nine community schools, which occupy empty public spaces while the separatists negotiate to take over abandoned school buildings owned by Christian denominations. … The government, which opposes the separatist-run schools, insists the public schools that are open are protected and safe. VOA

Nigeria: Seven Terrorists Killed, Eight Others Crippled by Own IEDs in Borno – Army
The Nigerian Army has said that seven terrorists died when their vehicle stepped on Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) they planted for troops in Lamba’a forest along Jakana-Mainok road in Borno. Aminu Iliyasu, the Nigerian Army Operations Media Coordinator, who disclosed this in a statement on Sunday, added that eight other terrorists were crippled by the IEDs. … Mr Iliyasu, a colonel, also disclosed that a syndicate that specialises in smuggling smoked fish from the Lake Chad region for sale in some parts of Nigeria was busted by the troops. He said the proceeds from the sales are believed to be channelled into the procurement of foodstuff, groceries, drugs, toiletries, vehicle spare parts and other items for the sustenance of the terrorists’ activities. Premium Times

African Experience with Presidential Term Limits
Speaking during a recent forum to mark the 20th anniversary since the passing of Tanzania’s founding president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the former Prime Minister [Joseph Warioba] pulled no punches in pinpointing where the pressure for constitutional change to remove or change term limits might come from and whose interests the exercise would aim to serve. “Whenever there are changes (of removal of term limits in the Constitution), know that it is the highest leader who is power-hungry and so wants to remain in power,” the former Attorney General remarked in what seems to be the most honest, direct and strongest argument so far over bids to have term limits removed. It is an argument against a plan to lead Tanzania in a different trajectory it used to follow. Based on an analysis by the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies, leaders in five African countries have put aside or changed term limits since 2015, bringing the number of countries lacking term limits to 18. In contrast, 21 African countries – including Tanzania – have continued to uphold presidential term limits and an additional 15 now have such limits in the books. The Citizen

Rwanda Approves Nuclear Power Deal with Russia
The Rwandan Cabinet has approved an agreement with Russia to advance the use of nuclear energy for “peaceful purposes,” a move that is expected to bolster relations between the two countries and advance the latter’s interests in the region. This comes ahead of the first Russia-African Forum next week in the city of Sochi, which President Paul Kagame has confirmed attendance, accompanied by a delegation of senior government officials. The nuclear power deal was first signed in Moscow last December and will see Russian scientists set up a Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology in Kigali. … In June Rwanda commenced negotiations to purchase Russian missile defense systems, as reported by the Russian press, as well as signed agreements to develop a military simulation and training centre in Kigali. The East African

W.H.O. Continues Emergency Status for Ebola Outbreak in Congo
The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is still a public health emergency and will be one for at least the next three months, the World Health Organization said on Friday. At the same time, “We believe we are on what could be a bumpy road to zero” new infections, said Dr. Michael Ryan, the agency’s director of emergency response. Confirmed new cases, which peaked in April at nearly 130 a week, have fallen to relatively low levels. There were only 15 tallied in the last week, which the W.H.O.’s most recent update called “encouraging.” But hot spots keep springing up in Congo. Most of the 50 new cases reported from late September to mid-October were in or connected to the Biakato Mine area, where both legal and illegal mining operations take place. The New York Times

Once He Was a Refugee. Now He’s a CEO Making Video Games for Peace.
There was a time, though, when thoughts of success were trumped by those of survival. Mayen spent most of his young life doubting he would live to see the next day. He never had enough food. His friends were conscripted as child soldiers. Bombs regularly fell from the sky. As a newborn in his parents’ arms, Mayen endured a 225-mile trek from his war-torn home in South Sudan to a refugee camp in Northern Uganda. His two older sisters died from illness while making the journey. Though he was too young to remember them, he still finds ways to honor their memory. “We are five in my … we are seven in my family,” Mayen corrects himself when asked of them. Mayen was born into war, but his mission is peace. And the journey that began his life has stretched in an almost unfathomable direction. … Mayen is in the process of launching his company, Junub Games, and finishing its latest product: a peace-building game called Salaam. He created the first version of Salaam, which means “peace” in Arabic, while still living as a refugee. The Washington Post

The Instagram Photos Reframing Africa
Patrice Lumumba, the first Prime Minister of the independent Democratic Republic of the Congo, wrote in 1960: “The day will come when history will speak… Africa will write its own history” – and although it is not through written words, a new generation of African photographers is showing the real issues that affect their people: from gentrification and sexuality, to evolving gender roles and globalisation. In this way, they are controlling the African narrative themselves. In the past few years, within the creative industry, social media is transforming perceptions. In particular, local photographers across the continent – from countries such as Zimbabwe, Morocco, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Ghana – are using their phones and their cameras to capture the diversity and energy, documenting a continent that is changing at breakneck speed. BBC



Photo: Adam Jones