Africa Media Review for September 12, 2017

IS Attack on Sinai Convoy ‘Kills 18 Egyptian Police’
At least 18 policemen have been killed in an attack on a convoy in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula claimed by so-called Islamic State, security sources say. Militants detonated a roadside bomb near the town of el-Arish, reportedly destroying three armoured vehicles and a fourth with signal-jamming equipment. They then opened fire with machine guns at survivors of the blast. The interior ministry confirmed there had been an attack and that several policemen had been killed or injured. Hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed by militants affiliated to IS since 2013, when the Egyptian military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. BBC

Somalia: 20 Killed in Three Separate Attacks
At least 16 people were killed, most of them regional government soldiers, after al-Shabab militants attacked the Somali town of Beled Hawo on Monday, officials and residents said. Four other people were killed in incidents elsewhere in the country. Security sources say militants attacked three locations in Beled Hawo, which sits on the Somalia-Kenya border. The first attack targeted a military base, about six kilometers outside Beled Hawo. The mayor of Beled Hawo, Mohamud Hayd Osman, told VOA Somali the militants detonated a suicide car bomb before storming the base. “The troops evacuated their wounded, and retreated to another location three kilometers away,” he said. VOA

EU Naval Force Seeks to Enhance Somalia’s Maritime Security
The European Union Naval Force personnel have helped train Somalia’s Maritime Police Unit in Mogadishu to help strengthen the Horn of Africa nation’s maritime security to help deter piracy along the coastline. The EU Capacity Building Mission in Somalia (EUCAP) said on Monday the vital training which it organized, will help in enhancing local capability in maintaining maritime security. “The training included how to plan effective patrols at sea and boarding a vessel that is suspected of being involved in piracy and other illegal activity,” the EU mission said in a statement released in Mogadishu. The mission said maritime training with regional partners is an extremely important aspect of the European Union’s efforts to help develop the capabilities of local maritime forces and to deter piracy off the coast of Somalia. Xinhua

How Aid in Cash, Not Goods, Averted a Famine in Somalia
In February, when the government of Somalia sounded an alarm to the UN about risks of a famine in the country, the UN’s Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), besides quickly shuffling a response team, was acting from a steep sense of history. The Office, instead of sending out massive aid packages, distributed cash vouchers to families who could spend it to buy goods according to their needs. The famine between the years 2010 and 2012, which killed more than a quarter of a million people in the country, offered important lessons to the aid community. This spring, when poor rainfall led to large scale crop failure and a rise in malnutrition, the freshly elected government raised immediate alarm. A looming crisis stood to affect nearly 6.7 million people in the country, or more than half of the population. The new expansion of a cash-based strategy, largely owing to Somalia’s strong network of money vendors, ultimately formed the basis of a formal team, called the Cash Based Response Working Group 2017. IPS

Multiple Libya Peace Plans Are a Hindrance, UN Envoy to Say
Fears that overlapping European and Middle Eastern peace initiatives for Libya are hampering the new UN special envoy are to be aired this week at a special conference convened by the UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson. The conference on Thursday, due to be attended by the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, is likely to swing behind a plan to restart political talks, including making changes to a December 2015 peace deal that has so far failed to unite warring factions in the east and west of the country. The US had largely dropped out of the Libyan crisis since Donald Trump took power in January. It follows a run of peace initiatives in recent months that have involved conferences in Cairo, Brazzaville and Dubai. Meanwhile, a Libyan peace plan launched by Emmanuel Macron, the French president, infuriated Italy for the similarities to its plan. The Netherlands has also made efforts to bring the Libyan parties together. The Guardian

After Financial Pledges, France Urges Chad to Hold Elections
France on Monday urged Chadian authorities to press ahead with parliamentary elections after securing billions of dollars in pledges from donor countries aimed at helping to revive the country’s struggling economy. President Idriss Deby, who was re-elected in 2016 after gaining power in 1990 at the head of an armed rebellion, said in February that lack of financial resources meant Chad’s parliamentary elections would be postponed indefinitely. “The legislative elections are an important moment in democratic life,” French foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes Romatet-Espagne told reporters in a daily briefing. “We hope in this regard that the Chadian authorities … will be in a position to announce a calendar (for elections) soon.” In a statement on Friday, Chad’s government said it had secured about $18.5 billion in pledges for a 2017-2021 national development program, double its original expectations. Romatet-Espagne said France would contribute 223 million euros ($267.27 million). Reuters

UN: More Than ¾ of Europe-Bound Youth Migrants Report Abuse
More than three out of four of migrants aged 14-24 report being subjected to forced labor, sexual abuse and other forms of exploitation while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Italy, the United Nations’ children’s and migration agencies said in a report Tuesday. Children from central and southern Africa face more abuse, including discrimination and racism, relative to young migrants from other places, UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration said in the report, “Harrowing Journeys.” Among its recommendations are for European Union authorities to set up “legal migration pathways” for children and youths to reach the continent and to seek alternatives to the detention of young people caught immigrating illegally. AP

‘War is Being Won,’ Says Head of Regional Force Battling Boko Haram
The head of the multinational task force fighting Boko Haram says the war against the militants is being won, but warned that suicide bombings remain a threat, killing close to 400 people in Nigeria and Cameroon since April. Soldiers from the 7,800-person task force have been stationed in several towns and villages along the Nigeria-Cameroon border since those communities were liberated from Boko Haram a little over a year ago. The force’s commander, Nigerian-born General Lucky Irabor, visited four communities along the border on Saturday to reassure local residents and rally the troops. “Boko Haram and other criminal gangs, their end has come. Boko Haram is on the downward trend,” Irabor told the soldiers. “That alone should motivate you to know that the war is being won, and for you to give in the last of your energy and your commitment so that they would be completely defeated.” VOA

Pro-Biafra Supporters Clash with Nigerian Troops
Pro-Biafra supporters clashed with troops in southeast Nigeria on Sunday, with claims that five people were killed, although the army quickly denied any loss of life. The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement claimed in a statement that five of its members were killed when soldiers and police tried to kill its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, at his home in Umuahia. The IPOB is demanding a separate state for the Igbo people who are the most populous ethnic group in Nigeria’s southeast. Fifty years ago, a declaration of Biafran independence sparked a brutal 30-month civil war. The group’s spokesman, Emma Powerful, said that up to 30 others were injured. AFP

Oil, Cash Payments and Embezzlement. The Adventures of a Swiss Trader in Brazzaville
Public Eye has investigated some very lucrative contracts that relate to Gunvor’s business in the Republic of Congo. The story’s ingredients are explosive: black gold, politics, and suspicions of corruption. It is a story emblematic of problems that plague the trading sector. And it demonstrates the role of Switzerland in the resource curse, whose victims live in resource-rich countries but remain imprisoned by poverty. Public Eye

South Sudan Summons U.S. Charge d’Affaires in Juba over Sanctions
South Sudan’s government has protested the imposition of sanctions placed on key officials, summoning the U.S. charge d’affaires in Juba to protest targeted sanctions on government officials. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman told reporters on Monday that the ministry has summoned the U.S. charge d’affaires in South Sudan, Michael K. Morrow, to lodge a formal protest against recent sanctions. “We believe sanctions are not the best ways to address the issues. There are many ways and one of the ways is through the revitalization of the peace agreement which is being handled by IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) and the national dialogue which has been launched by the leadership of the country. These are forums through which stakeholders can participate and the solution can come out from these discussions,” said foreign spokesman Mawien Makol. Sudan Tribune

Dialogue Committee Decries the Continuation of War in South Sudan
The on-going fighting between rebels and government forces in parts of South Sudan poses a serious threat to the national dialogue initiative, official said. The Co-Chair for National Dialogue Steering Committee, Mr Angelo Beda, said the ceasefire violations by the warring factions constituted a serious impediment to the group’s operations across the country. He regretted that several declarations of ceasefire by President Salva Kiir had not been honoured by either side to the conflict. Mr Beda warned the warring parties to fully implement a permanent ceasefire as per the peace agreement, adding that the work his committee could not be effective unless the guns fell silent. The East African

Clock Ticking for Kenya as Squabbling Overshadows Election Rerun
Kenya is running out of time to ensure a credible rerun of presidential elections that were annulled by the nation’s top court after the main opposition party alleged that they were rigged. With the next vote due in just five weeks, the electoral commission is mired in infighting over who should take the fall for last month’s botched contest. Demands by ex-Prime Minister Raila Odinga, 72 and his National Super Alliance that sweeping changes be made to the commission, including the removal of its chief executive officer, have also placed them at loggerheads with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ruling Jubilee Party. “As things stand now, most of the people that ran the Aug. 8 elections are still in office and the system that they used has not been changed,” Peter Wayande, a politics professor at the University of Nairobi, said by phone from the capital. “As long as that remains the case, one cannot expect credible elections. If things are not done right, there will definitely be a crisis that will result in political instability.” Bloomberg

We’ve the Numbers to Impeach Raila If He Wins, Uhuru Says – VIDEO
Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta has said that even if the opposition National Super Alliance Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga wins the October 17 repeat poll, ruling Jubilee has the numbers to impeach him in less than three months. He did not elaborate the reasons that would lead to the impeachment. The President said Jubilee, which has the majority of members in both Houses of Parliament, can make amendments to the Constitution based on its numbers. “If Raila is elected how will he lead? How? In the last Senate we could not pass Bills…but presently, we can do business without a single Nasa member. In the National Assembly, with over 200 members we are 13 members shy of a two-thirds majority meaning we can change the Constitution. The East African

Election Dispute Plays out at Kenyan Scholars’ Meet in Atlanta, US
Nairobi’s ambassador to Washington and a prominent US-based Kenyan legal scholar have offered starkly different assessments of the presidential election at a conference in Atlanta, Georgia. “I can categorically say here looking you straight in the eye that the Supreme Court robbed Uhuru Kenyatta of his win and stole the election from the Kenyan people,” Ambassador Robinson Njeru Githae said. Makau Mutua, a former US law school dean and an outspoken detractor of President Kenyatta, took the opposite view, suggesting that the election had been stolen from challenger Raila Odinga. The East African

Let’s Put aside ‘Petty Personal Squabbles’ and Force Mugabe out, MDC Tells Other Parties
Zimbabwe’s main opposition the Movement for Democratic Change party led by Morgan Tsvangirai has called on all opposition parties in the country to put aside “petty personal squabbles” and unite behind one banner in the upcoming 2018 elections. In a statement, the MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said the opposition parties “are stronger together” and that the 2018 polls were their final chance to get rid of the “Zanu-PF dictatorship fronted by President Robert Mugabe”. “From being the breadbasket of southern Africa just a few years ago, Zimbabwe has degenerated into a basket case; a banana republic that doesn’t have its own national currency and a country where more than 90% of the population survive on less than US$1 per day. Such has been the tragic and depressing story of Zimbabwe under the tutelage of one of the world’s most intolerant and oppressive dictators, Robert Mugabe,” said Gutu. News 24

Zuma May Fire Critics in Cabinet to Strengthen Grip on ANC
South African President Jacob Zuma may reshuffle his cabinet to remove some of his most strident critics and give a post to his ex-wife and former African Union chairwoman, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, analysts said. Dlamini-Zuma, who’s seen as the president’s favored candidate to replace him as leader of the African National Congress in December, will be eligible to join the cabinet once the party completes its plan, announced Sept. 8, to install her as a member of parliament. “She’s deployed to parliament, which means that she may go to cabinet,” Aubrey Matshiqi, an independent political analyst, said by phone on Monday. “In order to re-balance his power, Zuma will probably go after those who have been vocal in their condemnation of him.” Bloomberg

First Israel-Africa Summit Called off Following Boycott Threats
The first-ever Israel-Africa Summit set for Togo in October has been canceled in the aftermath of boycott threats by a number of countries and pressure against the event from Palestinians and Arab nations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had planned to attend the conference, which was expected to draw representatives from many of the 54 African countries. The summit was billed as a sign of Israel’s success in making new diplomatic friends and deepening the country’s economic ties with the African continent. The slogan “Israel is returning to Africa” has been one of Netanyahu’s hallmark initiatives. The Jerusalem Post

Online Video Is Driving the Demand for Faster Internet in Africa
Slow or limited internet access in many African countries is still a major hurdle for everyone from ordinary consumers to small and mid-sized digital companies trying to grow innovative businesses. African countries do not fare well when it comes to global internet speeds, as we noted last month. None of the 39 African countries ranked in a cable.co.uk report achieved average speeds above 10 Mbps. But things won’t stay that way for long. A review of African telecom infrastructure development in 2016 shows, in some cases, “staggering” leaps and bounds over previous years, according to telecoms analyst Steve Song. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones