Africa Media Review for September 22, 2021

DR Congo President Asks for Materialization of ‘All the Promises Made to Africa’
The President of Democratic Republic of Congo, Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, asked for United Nations Member States to “materialize all the promises made to Africa in compensation for the sacrifices agreed to protect humanity against global warming.” “There are less than six weeks left before COP26 and nine years before 2030. For Africa, the year 2030 will be marked by a drop in GDP of up to 15 per cent reduction in agricultural yields and a sharp increase in the risk of coastal flooding and in island countries,” Mr. Tshilombo said. He noted that, to cope with the negative impacts of climate change, the African continent will need $30 billion a year to adapt. This amount should increase to around $50 billion by 2040. “Africa does not need charity,” but constructive win-win partnerships to make better use of its collective national wealth and improve the living conditions of its people, he stressed. … Speaking about the COVID-19 pandemic, he said Africa “Africa has not folded its arms and does not intend to capitulate” to the virus but stressed all the difficulties the countries are facing. He welcomed initiatives related to financing of the economies, in particular those of the G20 on the suspension of debt service and the common framework for debt restructuring, and pointed to the allocation of $650 billion in special drawing rights (SDRs) from the International Monetary Fund. UN News

Pressure Grows on U.S. Companies to Share Covid Vaccine Technology
Last year’s successful race to develop vaccines in extraordinarily short order put companies like Moderna and Pfizer in a highly favorable spotlight. But now, with less than 10 percent of those in many poor nations fully vaccinated and a dearth of doses contributing to millions of deaths, health officials in the United States and abroad are pressing the companies to do more to address the global shortage. The Biden administration has privately urged both Pfizer and Moderna to enter into joint ventures where they would license their technology to contract manufacturers with the aim of providing vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, according to a senior administration official. Those talks led to an agreement with Pfizer, expected to be announced on Wednesday, to sell the United States an additional 500 million doses of its vaccine at a not-for-profit price — rather than license its technology — to donate overseas. … But some pharmaceutical manufacturing experts and drug-access advocates argue that the events of the last 18 months make it clear that manufacturing in developing countries is going to be crucial to ensuring equitable access. Many of the donated doses bound for use in Africa, for example, were meant to come from the Serum Institute of India. But five months ago, the Indian government blocked the company from exporting any vaccines, ordering that the supply instead be directed to trying to stanch a raging second Covid wave in that country. (India now says it will allow exports to resume next month.) The New York Times

Talk of Wagner Mercenary Deal Shines Light on Mali Power Politics
Experts have said that … a deal between Mali’s military-led government and the private security firm to hire nearly 1,000 mercenaries would increase Moscow’s influence while undermining French-led operations against armed groups operating in the country and the wider Sahel region. … The relations between Mali and France have significantly deteriorated following two military coups since August 2020, as well as after France’s decision earlier this year to redesign its military operations in the region. In May, the Malian colonels who had agreed to share power with civilians after overthrowing President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita detained civilian politicians and took over the control of the country again. … With the possible deal with the Russian mercenary group, Daniel Eizenga, a research fellow at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, said it was clear “now more than ever” that the military chiefs are much more invested in their interests and in maintaining power than in restoring Mali to a constitutional democracy: “The junta leaders are looking for the support necessary to keep them in power beyond the deadline for the transition to conclude. Cultivating a relationship with another international benefactor, like Russia, might pave the way for this.” Al Jazeera

Foiled Coup Proves the Need to Reform Sudan’s Security Sector: Hamdok
The failed coup indicates the need to reform the security sector and the army said Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok on Tuesday. The call came after the end of the aborted coup and the arrest of 21 senior officers in the Sudanese army mainly from the Armoured Corps and the Airborne Forces. In a speech in the morning, Hamdok stated that the coup attempt was orchestrated by elements inside and outside the armed forces affiliated with the former regime. He went further to say that the failed attempt was preceded by preparations including the insecurity in the cities, the exploitation of the eastern Sudan crisis, attempts to block national roads, closure of maritime ports, stoppage of oil production, and campaigning against his civilian government. “The coup which is a manifestation of the national crisis that we referred to in the Prime Minister’s initiative (The Way Forward), clearly indicates the need to reform the security and military apparatus,” he emphasized. … Sudan Armed Forces Commander in Chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan flanked with General Commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Mohamed Hamdan Daglo Hemetti visited the Armoured Corps headquarters in southern Khartoum to praise their courageous efforts to abort the coup attempt. In his speech to the military, al-Burhan focused on the divisions between the FFC forces and the need for unity to achieve the democratic transition. Sudan Tribune

Field Marshal Tantawi, Who Ruled Egypt after Mubarak’s Ouster, Dies at 85
Field Marshal Hussein, the former head of the military council that ruled Egypt after longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak was ousted during the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, died on Tuesday, Egypt’s presidency said. He was 85. After his stint as Egypt’s de facto leader, he was soon sacked by the country’s first freely elected president, the Islamist Mohamed Morsi, and spent his remaining years largely out of public view. … The army was widely praised for allowing anti-Mubarak protests during the uprising, and the junta vowed to pave the way “to an elected civil authority to build a free democratic state.” But the joy of millions of demonstrators soon turned into anger, accusing the military of dragging its feet in launching democratic reforms. Morsi, less than two months after his election as Egypt’s leader in June 2012, sacked Tantawi and, fatefully, replaced him with then military intelligence chief, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Sisi went on to topple Morsi after street protests against the Islamist’s single year of divisive rule, and himself became president in 2014. France24 with AFP, AP, and Reuters

Nigeria’s Military Crackdown Puts Squeeze on Bandit Gangs
Nigeria’s military campaign against criminal gangs in the northwest is pushing them into neighbouring regions as a result of a telecom shutdown and a squeeze on fuel and food supplies, local residents and officials said. Hundreds of troops backed by fighter jets began the offensive in early September in Zamfara State against gunmen responsible for a surge in mass abductions and attacks in the northwest. The offensive and official telecoms blackout in Zamfara is the largest recent operation against the gangs, known locally as bandits, who for years have looted villages and kidnapped for ransom. Zamfara and other states also imposed a raft of restrictions including a ban on sales of petrol in jerry cans and limits on cattle movement and on the opening hours of local markets as a way to curtail supplies to bandits. But as pressure builds in Zamfara, residents of villages in neighbouring Katsina and Kaduna states reported an influx of gunmen fleeing Zamfara into their communities, raising fears of attacks. Fleeing bandits have set up illegal checkpoints along highways in Katsina State near the border with Zamfara, robbing haulage trucks of food and siphoning fuel from vehicles, according to locals. … Nigeria has launched military campaigns against bandits in the northwest before and even sought amnesty deals to coax them to abandon hideouts deep in the region’s vast forests. But most of those operations and peace deals have failed or only temporarily halted criminal gangs. AFP

Nine Chad Villagers Killed in Jihadist Assault
Nine people have died in an attack on a village in the Lake Chad area that is plagued by violence led by jihadist groups, a local governor and an NGO said Tuesday. The region borders Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon, and fighters from Boko Haram and a rival splinter group, the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), have used it for years as a haven from which to attack troops and civilians. “Elements from Boko Haram attacked Kadjigoroum and killed nine people and set fire to the village” on Sunday night, regional governor Mahamat Fadoul Mackaye told Agence France-Presse by telephone. Chadian authorities use the Boko Haram label to refer to both militant groups. The head of a local NGO confirmed the attack and death toll at the village, asking not to be identified. In August, 26 soldiers died in a Boko Haram raid on marshy Lake Chad’s Tchoukou Telia island, about 190 kilometers (120 miles) north of the capital, N’Djamena. AFP

Why Africa Is Sending More Satellites into Space
Africa’s space industry has been slow to take off, but it’s predicted to skyrocket in the next few years. Since the continent’s first satellite launched more than 20 years ago, 44 have been sent into orbit by 13 African countries, according to consultancy Space in Africa. It says a further 125 are being developed by 23 countries, all expected to launch before 2025. The payoff could be substantial. A 2021 report by the World Economic Forum estimates that data collected from space could unlock $2 billion a year in benefits for Africa. The report says satellites could address agricultural challenges by measuring crop health, improve water management by monitoring drought, and track tree cover for more sustainable forest management. In a continent where less than a third of the population has access to broadband, more communication satellites could help people connect to the internet. … Space in Africa estimates over 283 companies now operate in the continent’s space and satellite industry, which it says generated more than $7.3 billion in revenue in 2019 and predicts will generate over $10 billion by 2024. CNN

Nigerian Businesses Lost a Fifth of Their Staff during the Pandemic
About 20% of full-time staff at formal and informal businesses in Nigeria lost their jobs in the heat of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. The startling figure is from a survey conducted by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in conjunction with the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), who studied 2,964 businesses in every state in the country in order to understand the effect of the pandemic between the second and fourth quarters of the year. The report does not give direct reasons why companies cut down on their workforces, but 59% of businesses said the costs of their operations were higher between April and December 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Operations costs went up due to increases in the price of raw materials, logistics and transportation, power generation, and the cost of workers’ welfare, the report said. … The reported pandemic-induced job losses correspond closely to Nigeria’s unemployment rate, which stood at 29% by the second quarter of 2020. The most recent figure is 33%, from March, when the NBS last published labor statistics. Only South Africa and Namibia have worse unemployment rates in Africa—and possibly the world—according to a Bloomberg tracker of 82 countries. Quartz

Nigerian NGO Marks World Peace Day with Photos of Northeast
The Nigerian aid group Center for Civilians in Conflict is marking this year’s U.N. International Day of Peace with a photo exhibit on the conflict in the country’s northeast. The photographs depict some of the millions of civilians caught up in the 12-year conflict started by militant group Boko Haram. The photo exhibit opened Tuesday morning at the Thought Pyramid Art Center in Abuja. Around 150 visitors arrived in batches to see images taken from scenes of the Boko Haram insurgency and the communities affected by it. Art lover Hillary Essien, who attended the exhibit, says the photos tell a story of pain and survival. “They’re actual people, being here and seeing that these people are out there away from their homes, families, fearing for their lives, it’s just really touching to be honest,” she said. Nigerian photojournalist Damilola Onafuwa took the photos for nonprofit Center for Civilians in Conflict, and says he’s happy about the effect the pictures are having on viewers. “When I create these works, I only create them because I want people to know,” he said. “I want to share the stories of people that I’m photographing. When people see it and I see how much impact it has on them, that makes me very happy.” VOA



Photo: Adam Jones