Africa Media Review for September 19, 2022

In World Beset by Turbulence, Nations’ Leaders Gather at UN
“The General Assembly is meeting at a time of great peril,” the U.N. chief said last week. For the first time in three years, leaders will be delivering their speeches in person in the vast General Assembly hall. There will be no more COVID-caused prerecorded addresses or hybrid meetings, with one exception: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. … U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the United Nations faces “a crisis of confidence” brought about by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that violated its neighbor’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, “trampled on human rights” and struck at the heart of the U.N. Charter by pursuing war instead of a negotiated peace. She told reporters Friday that the response must be to “double down on our commitment to a peaceful world and hold even closer our deeply-held principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, peace and security.” Thomas-Greenfield insisted the high-level meeting “will not be dominated by Ukraine” because there are conflicts taking place elsewhere as well. That’s why she says the United States is focusing on tackling the food crisis as well as climate change, advancing global health and upholding the U.N. Charter. AP

Ramaphosa Tells Biden He’ll Help International Peace Efforts in Ukraine
Russia’s war against Ukraine was one of many issues that President Cyril Ramaphosa and US President Joe Biden discussed at their meeting at the White House on Friday, 16 September. Ramaphosa had arrived with a long list of requests for US assistance on a wide range of issues. He emerged from the meeting, declaring: “Most of the issues we raised were warmly received. It has been a really productive visit and we think we have deepened and further matured the relations between South Africa and the United States.” … Ramaphosa said he had raised almost 20 issues with Biden. On climate change, he had told the US President that South Africa had realised it was going to need an additional $38-billion over and above the $8.5-billion in financing already pledged by the US, European Union, UK, France and Germany, South Africa’s partners in the Just Energy Transition Partnership “to achieve a truly just energy transition”. Biden said he would raise this request with other G7 partners. On the Islamic State-affiliated jihadist insurgency in Mozambique, Ramaphosa noted the US was already supporting efforts to fight the insurgents, but said he had asked Biden for further US support — financial as well as other resources and skills training — for the forces fighting the insurgency. Daily Maverick

China Role Crucial to Curb Climate Change Impact in Africa
Beijing’s rising influence in Africa could help the continent turn around the danger of climate change, taking advantage of its connections with local economies. Experts discussing the policy changes needed in China-Africa cooperation argued that both sides, by now, understand the danger of climate change especially following a series of natural disasters like landslides, droughts and floods. … China is Africa’s biggest trading partner worth $254 billion in 2021, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. It is also the biggest infrastructure builder in Africa loaning the continent some $126 billion for the projects between 2001 and 2018 and investing $46 billion in foreign direct investments. On average, China has been investing some $3 billion per year in these projects. … The proposals emerged on Thursday at the 2022 China-Africa Think-tanks forum on climate change and energy transition, bringing together policy players from Africa and China.  But the biggest elephant in the room is how Beijing will adapt the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to climate sensitive programmes. The BRI is a global initiative meant to connect trade routes to China through infrastructure building and some 43 countries in Africa have signed up to it, including most in the east African region. Nation

Eritrea Mobilizes Its Soldiers, Raising Tigray Fears
Eritrea is mobilizing its armed forces and appears to be sending them to Ethiopia to aid its neighbor’s war in the Tigray region, according to activists and international authorities. Britain and Canada issued travel advisories asking their citizens in Eritrea to be vigilant. Eritrean rights activist Meron Estefanos told The Associated Press that her cousin was called up “and is somewhere in Ethiopia fighting and we don’t know if he is alive or not.” “It’s just a sad war, like our region has not seen enough blood for generations,” said Meron, director of the Eritrean Initiative on Refugee Rights. Eyewitnesses in Eritrea said that people including students and public servants are being rounded up across the nation. Eritrea, one of the most isolated countries in the world, mandates military service for all its citizens between the ages of 18 and 40. AP

What Stagnated the Ethiopia Peace Process?
September 11 marked the first day of the new Ethiopian calendar year in the war-torn country. But so far, little in terms of change has been ushered in with the new year, as fighting broke out between the federal government and the Tigray rebels late last month, rupturing a five-month ceasefire. At least 10 people were killed in air raids on Tuesday that targeted a residential area in Mekelle, the capital of Tigray region, as air strikes and drone bombings continue to kill, wound and terrorise civilians. … Pleas from the United Nations for an immediate halt to fighting and resumption of dialogue have been ignored, as fighting across multiple fronts saw Eritrean soldiers shell towns and villages in central Tigray. Eritrean troops have fought alongside Ethiopian forces since fighting erupted in November 2020. Tigrayan forces meanwhile, retook territory in parts of the Afar and Amhara regions, leading to a new round of death and mass displacement. Special forces from both regions are allied with the Ethiopian army and have been engaged in recent fighting. … The end of the ceasefire coincided with the end of the country’s rainy season, making conditions ripe again for renewed fighting and for tanks and military convoys to manoeuvre the highlands. Al Jazeera

Libyan Militia Detains Hundreds of Chadians after Poachers Arrested
Hundreds of Chadians are being rounded up and detained on the streets of a Libyan town for a ninth day in retaliation for the Chad government’s arrest of four Libyan men on suspicion of poaching endangered animals. At least 400 people have now been arrested in the city of Ajdabiya by a militia linked to the warlord Khalifa Haftar, commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army. Earlier this month the Chadian authorities arrested four men from Ajdabiya for entering the country illegally and poaching a rare species of antelope. It is understood that the Libyans are part of a network that has been poaching in the north-east of Chad for years. … Poachers in north-east Chad target Barbary sheep (known in Chad as Mouflon à manchettes), birds of prey and the endangered Dama gazelle, which is the largest gazelle species in the world and prized for its skin. Chad has been struggling with Sudanese and Libyan poachers, who between 2002 and 2010 killed about 4,000 elephants, according to the UN. Mansour Attie, an activist from Ajdabiya, said: “It’s inhumane that they arrest all those poor workers who came to this country to improve their lives, in retaliation for four people who went there for poaching.” The Guardian

Air Strikes, Floods Displace Nigeria Jihadists
Hundreds of Boko Haram jihadists have fled a forest enclave in northeast Nigeria, escaping air strikes by the military and floods from torrential rains to seek shelter on Niger’s side of Lake Chad, sources told AFP. Northeast Nigeria is facing a 13-year armed insurgency by jihadist groups which has killed more than 40 000 people and displaced around two million from their homes. The violence has spilled into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, with the jihadists maintaining camps in the vast Lake Chad region straddling the four countries. A Nigerian security source said there had been an exodus of Boko Haram militants from Sambisa forest since last month due to a sustained bombing campaign on their hideouts. Nigeria has also recorded a more intensive rainy season, which usually runs from May through September, and floods have occurred in almost every part of the country. AFP

Niger: March in Niamey against Presence of French Army
Several hundred people demonstrated peacefully Sunday in the streets of the Nigerien capital Niamey, to protest against the French anti-jihadist force Barkhane, while praising Russia, a journalist from AFP noted. With cries of “Barkhane out”, “Down with France”, “Long live Putin and Russia”, the demonstrators went through some streets of the capital before holding a meeting in front of the headquarters of the National Assembly. Some demonstrators carried Russian flags and held up signs hostile to France and Barkhane. Some of the placards read “Get out of the criminal French army” or “The colonial army Barkhane must go” in this demonstration authorized by the municipal authorities of Niamey. AFP

Angolan Lawmakers Elect Nation’s First Female Head of Parliament
Lawmakers in Angola elected a woman to head the nation’s parliament for the first time as Joao Lourenco assembles a new administration for his second term as president. Carolina Cerqueira, 66, former minister of state for social affairs, was chosen late Friday as president of the National Assembly. She becomes the third most senior government official after Lourenco, who was sworn in this week, and Vice President Esperanca da Costa. … Cerqueira’s selection was marred by controversy after most of the opposition refused to vote and later stormed out of the assembly in Luanda. They accused the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA, of reneging on a promise to grant the post of deputy vice president to a member of the National Union for Total Liberation of Angola, or Unita. The MPLA, which nominated Cerqueira, has 124 seats in the 220-member parliament following Angola’s Aug. 24 election. Unita, which rejected the outcome, has 90 seats. Lourenco reappointed most of the previous cabinet, including Finance Minister Vera Daves de Sousa. Diamantino Azevedo kept his post as minister for minerals, petroleum and gas. Bloomberg

Kenya Clarifies Position on Sahrawi
Kenya says it has not abandoned a decades-old policy in which it supported the African Union’s call for free self-determination of the Sahrawi people. In a diplomatic note sent to embassies and representatives offices of international organisations in Nairobi, Kenya walked back on a controversial tweet last week in which President William Ruto appeared to end recognition of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in favour of an autonomy offer by Morocco. Instead, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said Nairobi has not departed from supporting the African Union call, as well as mediation programmes under the UN, to have the people of Western Sahara decide their future. “Kenya’s position on the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is fully aligned with the decision of the Organization of African Unity (now African Union) to admit SADR to its membership on 22nd August 1982, and the AU Charter which calls for the unquestionable and inalienable right of a people to self-determination. East African

S. Sudan Plan to Build Harbour in Djibouti to Hurt Kenyan Port
South Sudan has bought a piece of land in Djibouti for the construction of a harbour in its latest effort to find an alternative to the port of Mombasa which is facing an onslaught from Dar-es-Salaam. South Sudan has bought three acres of land at the port of Djibouti for the construction of a facility that will handle its import and export goods as Juba seeks to cut reliance on the Mombasa port in Kenya. The latest development comes just two months after the Chamber of Commerce in South Sudan said it will shift its cargo to the port of Djibouti, which it termed as convenient for the Africa’s youngest State. “We have been only using Port Sudan and Mombasa but recently, we have decided to go to Djibouti and as I am speaking to you, we have land in Djibouti,” South Sudan Minister for Petroleum Puot Kang Chol is quoted by local media. East African

Congo Violence Rages Despite Conflict-Mineral Law, US Says
The so-called conflict-mineral law that came into effect in 2014 requires US-traded companies to investigate and disclose if their products may include gold, tin, tantalum or tungsten from Congo or its nine neighboring countries. While corporate reporting on mineral-supply chains has improved since then, the security situation in eastern Congo hasn’t, the GAO said in a report published Wednesday. … In total, 1,021 companies filed a conflict-mineral report to the Securities and Exchange Commission last year, the GAO said. An estimated 66% of those companies were able to make preliminary determinations about the source of the conflict minerals in their products, compared with 30% in 2014, the GAO said. Of those companies that did further investigations, almost half couldn’t determine where their minerals actually came from, according to the report. “Companies may have hundreds of suppliers or more throughout many tiers in their supply chains,” the GAO said. This makes following the links all the way back to the mines a complicated endeavor, it said. … Under the US law, there are no sanctions for a company if it discovers its minerals come from conflict zones; it’s simply required to report it. Bloomberg

Medics ‘Flying Blind’ in Fight against Superbugs Due to Patchy Diagnostics
Doctors and nurses in Africa battling the rise of deadly superbugs are effectively flying blind because of patchy monitoring and lab testing, new research warns. Anti-microbial resistance (AMR) kills as many as 1.4m people worldwide each year, with African countries thought to bear the highest burden from an escalating global problem. The scale of the crisis has led the World Health Organization to declare AMR one of its top health priorities, with many doctors worried it poses one of the biggest health challenges of this century. Yet the first comprehensive survey of Africa’s resources to tackle the menace has found a serious lack of laboratory capacity and testing needed to keep tabs on infections and the rise of resistant germs. A review of 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa has found only five of the 15 most concerning antibiotic resistant bugs are consistently tested for. Those that are monitored all demonstrated high resistance. Telegraph

‘Africa Is on the Frontlines but Not the Front Pages’: Vanessa Nakate on Her Climate Fight
Vanessa Nakate knows what it’s like to be Black and overlooked. In January 2020, an Associated Press photographer cropped Nakate from a picture of youth climate activists at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, leaving her friend Greta Thunberg and three other white young women in the shot. It triggered widespread outrage, rightly so, but Nakate regards that very personal experience as a symbol of how the voices and experiences of Black – and Brown and Indigenous – communities are routinely erased. “Africa is on the frontlines of the climate crisis but it’s not on the front pages of the world’s newspapers. Every activist who speaks out is telling a story about themselves and their community, but if they are ignored, the world will not know what’s really happening, what solutions are working. The erasure of our voices is literally the erasure of our histories and what people hold dear to their lives,” said Nakate. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones