Africa Media Review for September 29, 2021

South Africa Pledges More Ambitious Climate Targets
South Africa pledged more ambitious emissions targets Monday, a move that was welcomed by climate activists. The South African government informed the U.N. climate office that it will aim to limit greenhouse gas emissions to no more than 510 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2025 and no more than 420 million tons by 2030. The new goal represents a significantly lower ceiling compared to its 2016 previous goal of pushing emissions below 614 million tons in the coming decade. The lower end of the target range was also shifted, from 398 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2030 to 350 million tons. The new targets mean South Africa’s emissions will decline in absolute terms beginning in 2025, a decade earlier than planned, according to the World Resources Institute, a Washington-based environmental think tank.  “South Africa’s new climate commitment is much more ambitious than what the country put forward five years ago when the Paris Agreement was struck,” said Helen Mountford, vice president for climate & economics at the WRI. She added that the country’s updated targets are more in line with the global goal of limiting worldwide temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century compared to pre-industrial times. AP

Young Activists Bemoan Climate Inaction, Demand More Say
Youth climate activists Vanessa Nakate and Greta Thunberg chastized global leaders Tuesday for failing to meet funding pledges to help poor nations adapt to a warming Earth and for delivering too much “blah blah blah” as climate change wreaks havoc around the world. … Nakate, a 24-year-old activist from Uganda, said pledges of 100 billion euros ($117 billion) a year to help countries particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change have not materialized, even as wildfires in California and Greece and floods in Germany and Belgium show that “loss and damage is now possible everywhere.” … Nakate dramatically underlined how climate change is affecting Africa, “which is ironic given that Africa is the lowest emitter of CO2 emissions of any continent except Antarctica.” … The three-day Youth4Climate Summit will be followed by a two-day pre-COP meeting before Glasgow aimed at finding common ground on sticking points among countries, which range from the world’s big carbon emitters to developing nations that are lagging both economically and technologically. Hopes for a successful Glasgow summit have been boosted by announcements from the world’s two biggest economies and largest carbon polluters. Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country will no longer fund coal-fired plants abroad while U.S. President Joe Biden announced a plan to double financial aid for green growth to poorer nations. In addition, Turkey has said it would adhere to the Paris protocols and South Africa announced more ambitious emissions targets. AP

Libya: Credible Elections – or Another Failed Bid at Nation-Building?
Libya’s hopes of ending a decade of political chaos with credible elections at the end of this year for a president and new unified parliament have reached a defining moment, with the US insisting the vote should go ahead but some European diplomats fearing divisions are too entrenched for the result ever to be accepted as legitimate. The elections are due to take place on 24 December, but no agreement has been reached within the country on laws governing the election. There are also signs that the populist interim government, theoretically appointed by the UN to manage services ahead of the elections, might seek to capitalise on the impasse to stay in power indefinitely. Thousands of foreign troops, mainly funded by Turkey and Russia, are still in place. The affair threatens to become an episode of failed nation-building to sit alongside Afghanistan. Tarek Megerisi, Libya specialist at the European council on foreign relations, said: “The difficulty is Libya has lacked any political institutions with undisputed or popular legitimacy since the General National Congress was voted into power in 2012. This creates a political arena where incumbent elites have felt empowered to shirk their constitutional responsibilities of finalising a new constitution and ending the transitional period. This means they instead focus on scrapping for absolute power and looting Libya’s once considerable coffers.” The Guardian

UN Aid Chief to Ethiopia on Famine in Tigray: ‘Get Those Trucks Moving’
United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths said on Tuesday he assumes famine has taken hold in Ethiopia’s Tigray where a nearly three-month long “de-facto blockade” has restricted aid deliveries to 10% of what is needed in the war-torn region. Griffiths told Reuters during an interview that his request was simple: “Get those trucks moving.” “This is man-made, this can be remedied by the act of government,” he said. War broke out 10 months ago between Ethiopia’s federal troops and forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which controls Tigray. Thousands have died and more than two million people have been forced to flee their homes. “We predicted that there were 400,000 people in famine-like conditions, at risk of famine, and the supposition was that if no aid got to them adequately, they would slip into famine,” said Griffiths, referring to a U.N. assessment in June. “I have to assume that something like that is happening,” he said, adding that it was difficult to know exactly what the situation was on the ground in Tigray because of a de-facto aid blockade and lack of fuel, cash and trucks. … Griffiths said a lot of trucks go into Tigray and don’t come back, compounding the humanitarian problems. He said no fuel trucks had gone into Tigray since late July. Reuters

Five Sudan Officers Killed Targeting IS Cell: Security Officials
Five Sudanese counterterrorism officers were killed Tuesday during a raid in Khartoum targeting “a cell linked to the Islamic State group,” the country’s intelligence services said in a statement. “After receiving information on the presence of a terrorist cell linked to IS, intelligence officers conducted a search,” it said. During the operation, “two officers and three non-commissioned officers” were killed, while “four foreign terrorists managed to escape.” “Eleven terrorists from different foreign countries have been arrested,” the statement added. A two-storey house in the capital’s Jabra neighborhood was surrounded by a cordon of security forces, who asked crowds to move away in case explosives were left behind, an AFP reporter said. Neighbors told AFP they heard an exchange of gunfire and saw the wounded being transported away in cars. Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok offered his condolences over the death of the five “heroes” killed confronting a “cell linked to” the Islamic State group, and wished the wounded a speedy recovery. IS propaganda outlets made no immediate mention of the incident in Khartoum. The Defense Post with AFP

Nigerian Security Forces Kill Two in Shi’ite March
At least two persons were killed in Abuja, Nigeria capital, when soldiers and police allegedly opened fire on Shia Muslims also known as the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) marking an important religious event, Arbaeen Trek, members who witnessed the incidents said. The procession, a Shi’ite religious ritual, was organised by the IMN to commemorate the 40th-day after the killing of the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. It was banned by the Nigerian government in 2019. Witnesses told HumAngle that the Shia mourning ceremony became bloodshed when security agents fired live bullets to disperse the crowd around Gwarimpa gate near Galadimawa along Kubwa expressway, Abuja. The security forces had failed to disperse crowds with tear-gas, after trying to block the march. The marchers were rounding off their procession when the security forces shot at them, killing two people and leaving many injured, Ibrahim Musa, the IMN’s spokesperson told HumAngle. … [Josephine Adah, the police spokesperson in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)] said 53 IMN members were rounded up by the security teams “without any casualty.” HumAngle

Nigeria Jihadist Infighting Kills Scores in Lake Chad
Infighting between Nigeria’s two major jihadist factions has left scores dead, raising the possibility of a prolonged internecine conflict between the two forces, civilian and security sources told AFP Tuesday. Islamic State West Africa Province or ISWAP has emerged as the dominant faction in Nigeria’s conflict, especially after the death of rival Boko Haram commander Abubakar Shekau in May during infighting between the groups. His death marked a major shift in the grinding 12-year insurgency that has left 40,000 people dead, but security sources say Shekau loyalists have held out against ISWAP’s bid to consolidate. Boko Haram jihadists on Monday launched an attack on rival ISWAP militants on the Nigerian side of Lake Chad, ISWAP’s bastion, seizing a strategic island, fishermen and a security source said. Large numbers of heavily armed Boko Haram insurgents in speed boats invaded Kirta Wulgo island after dislodging ISWAP security checkpoints in an hours-long fight, those sources said. The seizure of Kirta Wulgo would be a huge setback to ISWAP as the island served as a port for importing weapons and supplies into its territory, according to security sources and local fishermen. AFP

Nigerians Could See Justice over Shell Oil Spills after Six Decades
Chief Patricia Ogbonnaya walks through her Nigerian farm on a July afternoon, a light drizzle coating her umbrella while she examines what should have been ripe fruit trees and thriving fish ponds. She points to dark stains on tree trunks that stop abruptly at the same level across her land. “That’s how high the oil reached during the flood,” she says touching the bark, her hand coming away with sticky residue. … If she could, Ogbonnaya might file a lawsuit against Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary, responsible for more than half of the oil extraction in the Niger delta. But she can’t. The subsidiary, named the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), won’t acknowledge responsibility for the oil spill, so it’s nearly impossible to hold them accountable in Nigerian courts. … Even if the company did admit liability, the community likely wouldn’t receive any compensation for years. The subsidiary is known for filing a merry-go-round of lengthy defence statements, objections and appeals against communities filing for damages. Some cases have taken so long that they are passed down to the next generation, with the original litigants handing over their claims to next-of-kin when they die. For the first time, a decision from the United Kingdom’s supreme court has given oil-spill victims in the Niger Delta some reason to be cautiously optimistic. In February, the court ruled that in some circumstances communities can sue Shell directly. Baridilo Deekor, an attorney in Port Harcourt where regional lawsuits against the subsidiary are heard, called the decision a “ray of light.” The Guardian

Uganda Opposition Lawmakers Re-Arrested After Bail, Face Treason Charges
Ugandan police have rearrested two opposition lawmakers on charges of treason just minutes after they were released on bail in another case in which they stand accused of murder. The National Unity Party lawmakers deny the charges, which they say are politically motivated. Police spokesperson Fred Enanga in a statement said authorities were holding legislator Ssegirinya Muhammed on fresh charges. Earlier Monday, upon his release, security personnel traveling at high speed pursued the vehicle that had picked up Ssegirinya from a prison in the Wakiso district. When it pulled over, they forcefully put him into their vehicle. Enanga said they were holding Ssegirinya at the special Investigations division for further processing. … The other lawmaker, Allan Ssewanyana, was rearrested outside the prison gate minutes after his release on Friday evening. The two legislators, both members of the National Unity Platform party, were arrested earlier this month. … Shamim Malende, the lawyer for both legislators and from whose vehicle Ssegirinya was forcefully taken, said authorities keep changing the charges against the men with no valid evidence. … Joel Ssenyonyi, the National Unity Platform spokesperson, said the rearrest of the legislators is President Yoweri Museveni’s way of fulfilling his word when he said he would destroy the party led by musician-turned-politician Bobi Wine. VOA

Egypt Tries Researcher Held on Return from Italy on False News Charge
Egyptian researcher Patrick Zaki, held for 19 months since being arrested on a trip home from Italy, faced trial on Tuesday on charges of spreading false news over an article he wrote about the plight of Egypt’s Christians. Zaki, 30, a graduate student at the University of Bologna, was jailed in February 2020 while on a visit to Egypt to see his family. He appeared at the start of Tuesday’s hearing in a courtroom cage, where his handcuffs were removed. The case has resonated in Italy, which was shocked by the 2016 killing in Egypt of Italian student Giulio Regeni. Zaki was ordered earlier this month to stand a fast-track trial at a state security court in his hometown of Mansoura, about 70 miles (113km) north of Cairo. He pleaded not guilty at a brief hearing on 14 September. He could face a combined sentence of up to eight years for spreading false news inside and outside Egypt, said Hossam Baghat, head of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), a leading independent rights group where Zaki also worked as a researcher. His indictment is based on an article from 2019 for the website Daraj, in which he chronicled a week tracking the impact of events in Egypt on its Coptic Christian minority. EIPR says Zaki was beaten, subjected to electric shocks and threatened following his arrest. Reuters

Facebook-Backed 2Africa Subsea Communications Cable Is Set to Become the World’s Longest
A Facebook-backed subsea communications cable is set to become the world’s longest with plans for an 8,000-kilometre extension. Facebook announced on Tuesday that the 2Africa cable would now extend more than 45,000 kilometres when complete. The current world record holder for longest undersea cable is SEA-ME-WE 3, which stretches 39,000 kilometres and connects 33 countries. Facebook said that 2Africa would serve an estimated 3 billion people in 33 countries. Facebook has invested in seven subsea internet cables, two of which are already online. Its fellow tech giant Google is also heavily invested in subsea cable-building, with five privately-owned cable projects underway. Google finished laying its 6,276-kilometer-long Grace Hopper cable linking the US with Spain and the UK on September 14. When Facebook announced the 2Africa cable in May 2020 it said it would be 37,000 kilometres long. Facebook is part of a consortium of companies that have invested in the project. Business Insider

In East Africa, Safari Workers Wash Cars, Fry Fish and Struggle to Survive
As she fried fish to pay for her bills and rent, Caroline Onyango was struck by optimistic news reports broadcast in her home city of Nairobi this spring that noted the swift rollout of coronavirus vaccinations in the U.S. and other western countries. For the first time in a devastating year, Ms. Onyango grew hopeful that foreign tourists would return to East Africa, allowing her to go back to work as a senior tour guide for a safari company. But in early June, as international borders started to reopen and bookings surged, Kenya and many other countries in Africa experienced their steepest spike of coronavirus cases during the pandemic. With only 1 percent of the African continent fully vaccinated and the virus raging, several countries were forced to lock down or impose stringent measures against the virus. The drastic precautions to stop the spread crushed hopes for a revival in foreign tourism. … Before the pandemic, Kenya was the third largest tourism destination in Africa, with tourism contributing $1.6 billion to the national economy and creating 1.1 million jobs, or more than 8 percent of the country’s employment. The coronavirus was disastrous: During the high season between July and October of last year, most bookings were canceled, causing layoffs and salary cuts, and many tour companies shut down. The loss of international tourism in Kenya and other East African nations, with little assistance from local governments or elsewhere, has decimated the livelihoods of thousands of travel and hospitality workers, who have had to take on odd jobs and borrow money to survive. The New York Times

Burkina Faso’s Soldier-Singers Promote Security Forces
Burkina Faso’s war against Islamist militants has seen security forces criticized for human rights abuses. Now, the battle to win hearts and minds has moved to a new stage, with soldiers using their singing talents to promote the armed forces. Police Sergeant Yacouba Sourabié, known by his stage name “General Yack,” is one of 15 Burkinabe soldiers who sing about battlefield life, loss, and fighting the enemy. In a cramped recording booth in Ouagadougou, Sourabié sings into a microphone about heading to war and leaving family and friends behind. Singing soldiers, like Sourabié, hope their music videos will win public support in the war against Islamist militants and put the military in a better light. He says, the song is dedicated to our soldiers, our defense and security forces, who are on the frontlines and even those who have lost their lives. He says, we have dedicated this song to our soldiers, to make them understand that they are our heroes, they are valiant men of the nation, and for their families to be encouraged because families have lost their brothers and men on the frontline. Burkinabé director San RemyTraoré was motivated to make music videos with security forces because his brother is a policeman. He also wants to encourage greater confidence in the military. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones