Africa Media Review for October 30, 2023

Extremist Attacks Escalate in Niger after Coup Topples American Ally
Islamist militants in Niger have significantly stepped up their attacks in the months since generals here ousted the elected president…Violent incidents targeting civilians by the Islamic State’s Sahel branch quadrupled in the month following the coup, while dozens of soldiers have been killed in attacks blamed on ISIS and al-Qaeda-affiliated Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) in recent months…Niger itself had seen declines in fatalities in the past two years…Analysts attributed those declines to Niger’s strong military, counterterrorism assistance from France and the United States, and successful efforts under [President Mohamed] Bazoum to dialogue with local extremist groups…That trend has been reversed since the military takeover…with August marking the deadliest month since March 2021. Analysts and Western officials said that it is unlikely that the extremist groups are ramping up activity specifically because of the political situation in Niger but that the ability of the Nigerien military to counter them has been challenged. Daniel Eizenga, a research fellow focused on the Sahel at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, said that ousting the French military handicapped Niger’s ability to respond to attacks at a moment when the situation is growing “exponentially worse.” “It seems like they are scoring on their own goal,” he said of juntas in Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali. “Their first move because they are hoping to secure political points is demonize one of their biggest partners, and that means they are hurting their ability to confront the threats staring them down.” The Washington Post

Saudi-US Led Ceasefire Discussions Underway, Troika Welcomes Intra-sudanese Ethiopia Talks
Negotiations between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are underway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia since Thursday. Topics under discussion include a potential ceasefire as well as the delivery of humanitarian aid. Intra-Sudanese talks are also taking place in Ethiopia…The Jeddah negotiation platform is facilitated by Saudi Arabia and the USA, in partnership with the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) in the Horn of Africa…Other participants in the Jeddah negotiations include representatives from IGAD, the Horn of Africa’s development bloc led by Kenya. Troika’s representatives, Norway, the UK, and USA welcomed this week’s meeting in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, where a broad group of Sudanese civilian actors and stakeholders met to discuss the ceasefire. The preparatory meeting for the Civil Front to Stop the War, which concluded its work on Thursday, ended with the formation of a 60-member preparatory leadership committee headed by former Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok to “carry out oversight and supervisory tasks, and follow up on the preparation for the founding conference.” Dabanga

Egypt’s Sisi Warns Region Could Become ‘Ticking Time Bomb’
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday warned against any expansion of the conflict in Gaza, saying the region risked becoming a “ticking time bomb.” He also said his country’s sovereignty should be respected after drones were intercepted after entering Egyptian air space on Friday. Israel on Friday said it was the target of the drones which it blamed on Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi movement. Egypt’s military said the drones, which fell on the Egyptian towns of Taba and Nuweiba near the Israeli border, injuring six, originated in the southern Red Sea. It did not say who launched the drones. “Regardless of where it comes from, I have warned of the expansion of the conflict. The region will becoming a ticking time bomb that impacts us all,” Sisi said, speaking at a conference. “Egypt is a sovereign country and its sovereignty and position should be respected,” [he added]…Sisi held a peace summit last Saturday and has called for aid to be allowed into Gaza, the release of hostages, and a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict. Reuters

1 Dead, 3 Hurt as Multiple Blasts Rock Western Sahara
Four explosions were reported in the city of Smara in Morocco-controlled Western Sahara, local authorities said on Sunday. One man was killed and three others injured in the blasts, which also damaged two houses, according to a statement by officials. The AFP news agency cited local authorities as saying the blasts hit three different neighborhoods of Smara…Situated in North Africa, Western Sahara has been mired in conflict since 1975 when former colonial power Spain withdrew from the territory. That sparked a 15-year war between the Algeria-backed Polisario Front and Morocco for control over the territory. A 1991 cease-fire deal gave control of 80% of the desert region to Morocco and Polisario, through the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, controls the rest and continues to seek an independent state…In November 2020, Polisario said it had resumed its armed struggle. Most of the fighting was described by the United Nations as “low intensity,” and occurring mostly in the uninhabited eastern part of the Morocco-built security wall…On Thursday, the Polisario Front said in a statement that it had “targeted strongholds of Moroccan occupation forces near Hanka Houria” in the Smara region…The wall, which was erected by Morocco in the 1980s, stretches over 2,700 kilometers (around 1,677 miles) and separates the Morocco-controlled part of Western Sahara from the territory the Polisario considers “liberated.” DW

Ugandan Soldiers among Dead in IS-Backed Attack in DR Congo
Rebels backed by the Islamic State group have killed two Ugandan soldiers in an attack that also left two civilians and a suspected assailant dead in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, authorities said Saturday. Two truck drivers, a Kenyan, and a Congolese, were shot dead Friday night by IS-affiliated Allied Democratic Forces at a car park in Kasindi, Beni territory, said Barthelemy Kambale, a North Kivu provincial civil servant…The Islamic State group claimed the attack in a statement posted to the messaging app Telegram on Saturday evening. Kasindi was the scene of a Pentecostal church bombing blamed on the ADF that killed about 15 people in January, and for which IS claimed responsibility. Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo launched a joint offensive in 2021 against the ADF to drive the militants out of their Congolese strongholds, but attacks have continued. Originally fielding mainly Muslim Ugandan rebels, the ADF gained a foothold in the region in the 1990s and are accused of killing thousands of civilians…Twenty-six civilians died overnight Monday into Tuesday in a massacre attributed to the ADF near Oicha town, also in Beni territory, which has been the epicenter of the years-long rampage by the ADF, called Islamic State Central Africa Province by IS. In Uganda, police said the ADF were behind the killing of a couple on their honeymoon and their safari guide in the nation’s Queen Elizabeth National Park on October 17. IS claimed responsibility for the attack. AFP

Cameroon Asks Chad to Withdraw Border Troops
Cameroon is asking Chad to withdraw its troops from a fishing and agriculture island in the volatile region of Lake Chad. Cameroon says it wants its own troops to take total control of Birnigoni. Chad’s military began occupying the island in 2014 to fight Boko Haram militants and protect civilians…Cameroonian military commanders are meeting with civilians who want assurances of their safety before Chad’s military departs…Birnigoni was one of several hiding places for Boko Haram fighters when they were under heavy attack by army forces in Chad, Cameroon or Nigeria. Cameroon says it approved Chadian troops occupying the island after a July 2014 Boko Haram attack killed at least 20 civilians. Mahamat Souleymane, Chad’s infantry chief of staff, said President Mahamat Idriss Deby wants troops from Cameroon and Chad to launch joint operations to protect civilians before Chad’s army eventually leaves. Souleymane did not give a specific date for withdrawal but said Chadian forces will leave as soon as Birnigoni civilians acquaint themselves with the new forces and start feeling protected by Cameroon government troops…The Lake Chad basin where Birnigoni is found encompasses parts of Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria. It is home to over 42 million people, mostly ranchers, fishers and crop farmers. The 14-year Boko Haram insurgency and frequent attacks from other armed groups have destabilized the region and displaced millions of people. In response, the Lake Chad countries, plus Benin, created the Multinational Joint Task Force in 2014. The force now has 11,000 soldiers fighting the jihadists. VOA

Ghana: EU Delivers 105 Military Vehicles in Face of Jihadist Threat from Sahel
Ghana’s president Nana Akuffo Adodo discussed regional and international issues with the EU’s top diplomat on Saturday (Oct. 28) in Accra. On the occasion, Ghana received a fleet of some 100 armoured vehicles from the European Union. Ghana, along with Gulf of Guinea neighbours Togo, Benin and Ivory Coast, are increasingly at risk from jihadi violence wreaking havoc in the Sahel…”Collaborative efforts among nations facing this challenge and a critical support from partners such as the European Union who share our security concerns, remain crucial in mitigating the terrorist threat in the West African region,” [Ghana’s president said]. The delivery of militarised vehicles is officially part of aid that would later include aerial surveillance equipment and electronic warfare systems. In a statement, the EU said the Ghana aid was part of a broader 616 million euros package to strengthen defence and security of the four coastal countries of the Gulf of Guinea. While Ghana has not yet reported any jihadist attacks inside its territory, Benin’s military say they have faced around 20 incursions from across the border since 2021. Togo has also suffered attacks on its northern frontier. EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell said EU investment would also target job creation and services especially in northern Ghana where there are concerns jihadists seek to take advantage of socio-economic dissatisfaction. Africanews and AFP

2 Dead in Protests over Mozambique Election Results, Says Watchdog
Protests in Mozambique over disputed local election results resulted in the deaths of a police officer and a civilian Friday, a corruption watchdog group said. Police reported a total of 70 arrests in four cities but not any fatalities. The unrest followed Thursday’s official validation of the election results, which gave the ruling Frelimo party victory in 64 out of 65 municipalities. A consortium of election observers had reported widespread ballot stuffing, voter intimidation and falsification of results in favor of Frelimo in the October 11 elections. Demonstrators barricaded streets during the protests, which were concentrated in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, and the northern cities of Nampula and Nacala…Riot police and plainclothes officers dispersed crowds with tear gas and bursts of AK-47 gunfire into the air…Peaceful Renamo-led demonstrations have taken place across the southern African nation of 32 million since the elections. The election results reduced the number of municipalities under Renamo control from eight to zero. A parallel count of the vote by the consortium of election observers concluded that Renamo beat Frelimo in the major cities of Quelimane, Nampula, Matola and Maputo. This would have put an opposition party in control of the capital for the first time since Mozambique’s independence from Portugal in 1975. Frelimo and Renamo fought a bloody civil war between 1977 and 1992 in which over 1 million people are estimated to have died. Following a peace settlement, Mozambique held its first democratic elections in 1994. A dispute over the results of the 2014 general election resulted in more hostility between the parties, and a new peace agreement was signed in 2019. AP

Edgar Lungu: Ex-zambia President Makes Political Comeback
Zambia’s former President Edgar Lungu has announced that he is making a political comeback. He retired from politics in 2021 after suffering a crushing defeat in a presidential election. After six years in office he left the country heavily in debt and with a precarious economy. But Mr Lungu is now aiming to capitalise on growing dissatisfaction with his successor, Hakainde Hichilema…Since Mr Lungu lost power two years ago, there has been a wrangle within [his Patriotic Front party (PF)] over who should lead the party that has ended up in court. The entrance of Mr Lungu could well heighten tensions and prolong the legal battle, as there is currently another person, Miles Sampa, who claims to have been elected as PF president at a recent meeting…Mr Hichilema won the 2021 election, his sixth run at the presidency…The president has succeeded in negotiating a bailout agreement for the copper-rich country with the International Monetary Fund. He has also been able to restructure loan agreements with Chinese and other creditors…But the ordinary consumer is facing very high prices for staple foods and fuel, making life difficult for many and leading to frustration with the political leadership. The government was also criticised this week for a “growing intolerance for dissent” by 13 leading civil society organisations. In a joint statement, they said there was a “shrinking space for freedom of expression and assembly in the country”…Last month, Mr Lungu was warned against jogging in public, with police describing his weekly workouts as “political activism.” His Saturday runs with ordinary members of the public and PF supporters were been attracting a lot of attention. The former president was told to seek police approval for future jogging events. BBC

Africa and Europe to Join Forces on Sustainable Space Programmes
The first edition of the [AU-EU Space Dialogue] wrapped up on Thursday in the Senegalese capital following a gathering that attracted stakeholders from Africa and Europe, sharing expertise and fostering cooperation in space research, earth observation, satellite navigation, satellite-based connectivity and communication…Africa’s first satellite, NileSat 101, was launched by Egypt in 1998. Some 25 years on, African states have launched a total of 45 satellites, with the AU predicting that by 2027 that total should increase to at least 165. In March, Senegal founded the African continent’s 22nd space agency…Space technology can be crucial in agriculture, environmental monitoring, disaster management, telecommunications, and more…The Dakar space forum also aimed at establishing partnerships. The EU believes that its recently launched IRIS2 programme could provide opportunities for African governments and businesses by 2024. The EU’s Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnectivity and Security by Satellite (IRIS) was set up in 2022 and consists of a constellation of satellites aimed, among other applications, at providing safer, seamless connectivity….As it stands, the African space industry is now valued at more than $20 billion and employs more than 18,000 people. In 2016, the AU heads of states and governments adopted the African Space Policy and Strategy initiative, and by January 2023, the headquarters of the African Space Agency was set up in Egypt’s Space City, outside the capital Cairo. RFI

The World Is Becoming More African
In 1950, Africans made up 8 percent of the world’s people. A century later, they will account for one-quarter of humanity, and at least one-third of all young people aged 15 to 24, according to United Nations forecasts. The median age on the African continent is 19. In India, the world’s most populous country, it is 28. In China and the United States, it is 38. The implications of this “youthquake,” as some call it, are immense yet uncertain, and likely to vary greatly across Africa, a continent of myriad cultures and some 54 countries that covers an area larger than China, Europe, India and the United States combined…With a growing choice of eager allies, including Russia, China, the United States, Turkey and Gulf petrostates, African leaders are spurning the image of victim and demanding a bigger say…Within the next decade, Africa will have the world’s largest work force, surpassing China and India. By the 2040s, it will account for two out of every five children born on the planet. Experts say this approaching tide of humanity will push Africa to the fore of the most pressing concerns of our age, like climate change, the energy transition and migration. But it has also exposed the continent’s gaping vulnerabilities. The New York Times

South Africa: Springboks Win Record Fourth Rugby World Cup in Dramatic Final
South Africa clinched a record fourth Rugby World Cup title by doing just enough to deny 14-man New Zealand and retain their crown in a helter-skelter final in Paris…Both teams pushed for a decisive score in an enthralling, lactic-drenched final quarter, but neither found one, with Jordie Barrett missing a long-range 73rd-minute penalty and the Springboks clinging on for a third successive one-point victory in the knockout stages. Captain Siya Kolisi clutched his head in disbelief as he danced off the bench and towards his team-mates on the final whistle. His side are the first team to win the tournament back-to-back away from home – a statistic Leinster-bound coach Jacques Nienaber underlined in the build-up – and are now the undeniable dominant force in World Cup history. Their latest victory means the Springboks have won half of the eight tournaments they have taken part in. South Africa were absent from the first two editions because of the sporting exile imposed by the rest of the world in reaction to the country’s apartheid government. In that era, the Springboks were hated by many black South Africans. But under the leadership of Kolisi – the team’s first black Test captain – they have won backing from across the spectrum of the Rainbow Nation. BBC