Africa Media Review for September 29, 2020

UN: Africa Lost $800b in Illegal Transfers in Recent Years
The United Nations estimates that illegal outflows of capital from Africa totaled over $830 billion in the first 15 years of this century, much of it linked to movements of high-value commodities like gold, diamonds, and platinum – straining the ability of the continent’s governments to provide services like healthcare, education, and infrastructure. The U.N. Conference on Trade and Development on Monday focused the latest edition of its annual report on economic development in Africa to the issue of illicit financial flows, or illegal movements of money and assets across borders. In Africa, it has often involved theft, corruption, and flawed invoicing of shipments. From 2013 to 2015 – the last year for which data was available – such outflows rose to nearly $89 billion a year on average. By comparison, the combined total of both official development assistance and foreign direct investment received by Africa during that three-year span averaged $102 billion annually. AP

Nigeria Says Mali Transition Government Yet to Satisfy Regional Demands
West African states are not ready to lift sanctions on Mali because the leaders of an Aug. 18 coup have not yet satisfied all the demands for a handover of power to a fully civilian government, Nigeria’s president said on Monday. … President Bah Ndaw, a retired colonel appointed president of the transition, named veteran diplomat Moctar Ouane as interim prime minister. But in a briefing with Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, the ECOWAS envoy to Mali, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, said there were still “grey areas” to discuss. “According to the Special Envoy, the military leaders are yet to satisfy ECOWAS demand of a full civilian as Vice President, and what his roles would be in government,” a statement after the meeting said. Last week, retired colonel Bah Ndaw was sworn in as president, and Colonel Assimi Goita, who led the coup that ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, was sworn in as vice president. Reuters

UN Says Libyan Rivals Have Restarted Military Talks in Egypt
Libyan rivals on Monday restarted military and security talks, aiming to reach a settlement that could help end the county’s years-long conflict, the United Nations said. The U.N. support mission in Libya said in a brief statement that military and police teams from eastern and western Libya met in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Hurghada. The face-to-face military talks came amid international pressure on both sides of the war and their foreign backers to avert an attack on the strategic city of Sirte, after a year-long assault on the capital, Tripoli, by forces of military commander Khalifa Hifter collapsed this summer. The U.N. mission said both sides have demonstrated “a positive and proactive attitude aimed at de-escalation of the situation in central Libya.” The outcome of the Egypt-based negotiations will be mainstreamed into U.N.-brokered military talks, the U.N. mission said. AP

Several Hundred Arrests Amid Protest Calls in Egypt – Rights Group
Egyptian authorities have detained at least 382 people since Sept. 20 amid reports of small, scattered demonstrations against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a rights group said on Monday. The interior ministry could not be reached for comment. The arrests come after security measures were tightened around the first anniversary of rare demonstrations in Cairo and other cities, triggered by appeals in September last year from an exiled former contractor and actor, Mohamed Ali. Ali, who had posted videos online lambasting the authorities, called for more protests this month. … The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms said it had directly documented 249 detentions over the past nine days, while it said another 133 had been documented by other rights groups or lawyers. Reuters

Holdout Darfur Rebels Attack Sudan Army
Sudan’s army said Monday that rebels in Darfur had attacked their troops, weeks after a landmark peace deal, but that the gunmen were from a key faction that had rejected the truce. “Despite the ceasefire… a force belonging to the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) of Abdelwahid Nour, attacked our troops in Baldong, Jebel Marra,” read the army statement. “Our forces stationed in this area retaliated and repelled the attack.” The army said it remained “committed” to the August 31 ceasefire, and made no mention of any casualties. Rebel leader Abdelwahid Nour has lived abroad for several years, including in Paris, but he retains support on the ground and has refused to be included in the latest peace efforts, which follow the fall of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir last year. AFP

Fragile Hopes of Peace in DRC’s Conflict-Scarred Ituri Province
In 2019, the 60-year-old father of nine fled Sombuso, his natal village in Djugu, and now lives in a camp for displaced people 20km (12 miles) away in Loda, close to a base for foreign troops serving in the United Nations mission in the DRC, MONUSCO. Conditions there are dire, he says. “No latrines, no food, no drinking water, no medical care.”  Lobo, who belongs to the Hema community, traditionally stockbreeders and traders, left Sombuso to escape the brutality of a wing of the Congo Development Cooperative (CODECO) group created by Lendu people. … The outcome of the talks has been a noticeable decline in the number of deadly raids, according to witnesses. Key roads that had been blockaded, such as the RN27 linking the DRC and Uganda, are once again open to traffic but the vehicles are escorted by the military, AFP saw. Part of the population remains sceptical about any peace process. AFP

Nigeria Immigration Deploys ‘Special Force’ to Fight Bandits in North-West
The Nigerian Immigration Service on Monday said it will deploy a 2,000-strong Special Force in the North-west to restore peace and security in the region.The Comptroller General, Muhammad Babandede, stated this during the passing out parade of 320 First Batch of pioneer Special Force of the Service, at the NIS Training School in Kano. Mr Babandede said the deployment was imperative to address security challenges and enhance peacebuilding process in the region. He noted that special operation in the North-west “was a definitive military initiative”, to respond to criminal activities like arson; kidnapping, armed banditry and cattle rustling prevalent in the area. He said: “The level of insecurity in the North-west zone has constituted a threat to national security. Premium Times

South Africa, China to Revamp 10-Year Strategic Cooperation Plan
South Africa and China are working on a new 10-year strategic program for cooperation, as the current one nears its end. The new plan will focus on collaboration in areas including higher education, skills transfer, health, the digital economy, science and technology, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said at an online briefing hosted by the Chinese Embassy on Monday. “We hope to sign this before the end of the year,” he said. South Africa has been China’s biggest trading partner in Africa for 10 years and China the largest recipient of South African goods and services for 11 years, Chen Xiaodong, China’s recently appointed ambassador to South Africa, said at the briefing. In 2019, total trade was $43.2 billion between the two nations. Bloomberg

US, Somalia Ink Debt Relief Deal
US Ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto and Somalia’s Minister of Finance Abdirahman Dualeh Beileh have signed a bilateral agreement spelling out ways of reducing and restructuring debt owed by the Horn country to three American State agencies. … During the signing of the agreement on Sunday, it was noted that more efforts will lead to Somalia reaching the final stage known as ‘Completion Point’, by which point the US will have forgiven debts amounting to more than $1 billion (about Sh108 billion). Mr Yamamoto stated that the US commends Somalia on its efforts towards economic reform. “Working through the debt relief process will allow Somalia to regain access to financial support from international financial institutions so that it can invest in poverty reduction and economic growth,” he said. The EastAfrican

‘Music Is Not a Crime’: U.N. Experts Urge Nigeria to Lift Singer’s Death Sentence
U.N. rights experts asked Nigeria on Monday to release a 22-year-old singer who was condemned to death over an allegedly blasphemous song, and said the sentence broke international law. Yahaya Aminu Sharif was sentenced last month by a sharia court in Kano, in Nigeria’s mostly Muslim north, after he performed the song and shared it on WhatsApp. “Music is not a crime,” read a joint statement from the group of U.N. rapporteurs. “Application of the death penalty for artistic expression or for sharing a song on the internet is a flagrant violation of international human rights law, as well as of Nigeria’s constitution,” said Karima Bennoune, special rapporteur on cultural rights. Reuters

Nigeria: Two Premium Times Journalists Shortlisted for Thomson Foundation Award
Two Premium Times journalists, Taiwo Adebayo and Kabir Adejumo, have made a shortlist of 12 for the Thomson Foundation’s 2020 Young Journalist Award. The foundation made the announcement on its website on Tuesday. Messrs Adebayo and Adejumo are two of three Nigerian journalists eyeing the journalism prize. The other Nigerian-Ibrahim Adeyemi-is a freelance journalist. In its eighth year, the award, sponsored by the United Kingdom’s Foreign Press Association, enables journalists aged 30 and under, from countries with a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of less than $20,000 (data from the World Bank), to send in their best stories. … Mr Adejumo, whose investigation exposes how security agents aided people to flout COVID-19 lockdown travel ban at the Nigerian border of Benin republic, was praised for risking “his own health to expose how the country is at a pivotal point and what the danger of the breach means to the wider community.” Premium Times

Solar Mamas Brighten Rural Malawi
A group of Malawi women is changing lives in villages that have long lived without power by installing and maintaining solar equipment in homes and schools. The women, known as the Solar Mamas, were trained in India as solar engineers, with sponsorship from charities. The solar power has allowed students in rural Malawi to study at night and for their families to earn more income.The women may look like ordinary villagers, but a chat with them reveals they are trained solar engineers. The Solar Mamas are helping to bridge the power gap in rural Malawi, a country where only 10%of the population is connected to the power grid.VOA

For Ugandan Activist, COVID Curbs Set New Hurdle in Climate Fight
In a run-down residential compound in Kampala, Vanessa Nakate thrusts her fist in the air as she rallies 30 young demonstrators to defend their planet against climate change. “What do we want?” she shouts, to a ragged chorus of “climate justice.” … Nakate’s demonstration in the Ugandan capital is part of a global day of youth action against climate change inspired by Sweden’s Greta Thunberg. A wiry and vivacious 23-year-old, Nakate founded a climate education movement last year and has more than 175,000 Twitter followers. “Coronavirus has affected our activism,” she said. “The climate crisis is an equally major emergency that should be fought with the same determination.” … Her mission was given a new urgency by heavy floods that have displaced more than a million people across South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia and parts of Uganda – a region heavily dependent on agriculture. “The present is catastrophic and the future is scary and very unpredictable,” she told Reuters. “Ecosystems are collapsing.” Reuters