Africa Media Review for September 6, 2023

China’s United Front Strategy in Africa
A key pillar of China’s efforts to gain influence in Africa and globally is to create impressions of universal support for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Central to this is the political strategy known as the “United Front” (tŏngyī zhànxiàn; 统一战线) to mobilize individuals and institutions outside the Party and around the world to advance the interests of the CCP and isolate its adversaries. Targets of United Front influence include private sector leaders, public intellectuals, influential foundations, lawyers, media, academia, think tanks, civil society organizations, political parties, youth and women, entrepreneurs, and retired heads of state. Very few United Front organizations have direct connections to the CCP. This makes drawing their associations less obvious. United Front activities support the objective to secure the CCP’s domestic survival and turn China into a global military and economic power. … Critics raise concerns about the impact of China’s broader United Front activities on media professionalism, academic independence, and commitment to democracy—potentially distorting the public’s interpretation of news and key events. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

African Leaders Call for New Global Taxes to Fund Climate Change Action
African leaders on Wednesday proposed new global taxes to fund climate change action in a declaration that will form the basis of their negotiating position at November’s COP28 summit. The Nairobi Declaration capped the three-day Africa Climate Summit in Kenya, which was dominated by discussions of how to mobilise financing to adapt to increasingly extreme weather, conserve natural resources and develop renewable energy. Despite suffering from some of the worst impacts of climate change, Africa only receives about 12% of the financing it needs to cope, according to researchers. While organisers emphasised market-based solutions such as carbon credits in the lead-up to the summit, the final declaration was heavy on demands that major polluters commit more resources to help poorer nations. It urged world leaders “to rally behind the proposal for a global carbon taxation regime including a carbon tax on fossil fuel trade, maritime transport and aviation, that may also be augmented by a global financial transaction tax.” It said implementing such measures at a global level would ensure large-scale financing for climate-related investments and insulate the issue of tax raises from geopolitical and domestic political pressures. Reuters

More than 50 Security Forces Killed by Jihadis in Burkina Faso, as Violence Inches Closer to Capital
More than 50 security forces were killed and dozens wounded during intense fighting with jihadis in northern Burkina Faso, the army said Tuesday. Seventeen soldiers and three dozen volunteer fighters, who assist the military, were killed in Koumbri commune in Yatenga province on Monday, the army said in a statement. Several dozen of the Islamic militants also were killed, as part of an operation to try push back the jihadis from Koumbri so that displaced people could return, the army said. The West African nation has been ravaged by growing jihadi attacks linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group that have killed thousands, displaced more than 2 million people and pushed tens of thousands to the brink of starvation. The violence has divided a once peaceful nation, leading to two coups last year and increased attacks, which are encircling the capital, Ouagadougou. Approximately half of the country is outside of government control, conflict analysts say. Since the first coup in January 2022 the number of people killed by jihadis has nearly tripled compared with the 18 months before, according to a report by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. “This violence, coupled with the geographic spread of extremist activities effectively surrounding Ouagadougou, puts Burkina Faso more than ever at the brink of collapse,” the report said. AP

At Least Two Killed in Guinea Anti-Junta Protests on Eve of Coup Anniversary
At least two people were killed in Guinea’s capital Conakry when armed security forces attacked the neighborhoods of political activists on the eve of planned demonstrations against the junta that seized power in 2021, protest organisers said on Tuesday. The “Forces Vives” collective had called for a “peaceful” march on Tuesday to demand a swift return to civilian rule. But the authorities banned all public gatherings. … Guinea, a poor country with a troubled political history, has been ruled by a junta since the military overthrew civilian president Alpha Condé on September 5, 2021, in one of the successive putsches in West Africa since 2020. … In a press release announcing their demonstration on Tuesday, the Forces Vives claimed that “after two years of power exercised by the Guinean military junta, the rupture with the people of Guinea is completely consummated.” In addition to banning demonstrations, the junta has arrested a number of opposition leaders, launched legal proceedings against others and dissolved a citizens’ collective critical of its actions. AfricaNews with AFP

Central African States Suspend Gabon’s Membership, Call for Return to Constitutional Order
The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) has suspended Gabon’s membership during an extraordinary summit in Djibloho, Equatorial Guinea, and condemned the use of force to resolve political conflicts. One week after a coup ousted Gabon’s president, Ali Bongo, little has been said about him and he hasn’t been seen since a video in which he was pleading for international help. Monday’s extraordinary summit was held under the presidency of Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Obiang said ECCAS wants Gabon to return to constitutional order so that all the institutions in the country can function. ECCAS said it expects the international and regional communities to help Gabon out of difficult times, but gave no details. … He said Gabon has an obligation under international law to protect all citizens and ensure a quick return to civilian rule. … The summit said all member states agreed that more sanctions will be meted out on Gabon should the military junta fail to hand over to civilian rule soonest. VOA

A National Program in Niger Encouraged Jihadis to Defect. The Coup Put Its Future in Jeopardy
It took months of convincing before the former jihadi commander decided to defect, trading in his guns and wealth for amnesty and a chance to live with his family. Before leaving the Islamic State group, Mouhamadou Ibrahim was told by Niger’s government that his wife and children would be cared for, that he’d be welcomed into the community and that he would not face charges, as long as he provided intelligence about the militants and urged other jihadis to come home. But those promises were made before mutinous soldiers ousted Niger’s democratically elected president, putting the national program to reintegrate former jihadis into society at risk. … The military regime hasn’t indicated whether it will continue the efforts, jeopardizing the fate of hundreds of former jihadis who returned and rely on government support. The initiative was put in place in 2016 under Bazoum, then interior minister, to stem the violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group… Out of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, three of the Sahel countries hit hardest by jihadi violence, Niger was the only one to see an improvement in its security, with attacks on civilians decreasing by nearly 50% in the first six months of this year compared with the previous six months… AP

France Reportedly in Talks with Niger for Possible Withdrawal of Its Troops
France is reported to be in talks with Niger’s military about possible withdrawal of French troops from the West African nation in the wake of the fraying of ties following a coup in July, according to French media reports. Confirming the news, former French ambassador to Mali and Senegal Nicolas Normand told Al Jazeera that according to his sources, talks were ongoing between the French and Niger militaries to “partially” withdraw troops. … France has been at loggerheads with Niger’s new military rulers after it refused to recognise the July 26 coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum – a French ally. France’s President Emmanuel Macron has continued to back Bazoum, who remains in custody. The coup leaders have called for the French ambassador and troops to leave Niger… Some 1,500 French troops are based in Niger as part of France’s wider fight against armed rebels in the Sahel region. Niger became a crucial hub for France after coups forced the withdrawal of French troops from neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso. … “The only authorities in Niger that we recognise – like the entire international community – are President Mohamed Bazoum and his government,” French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told the Le Monde daily newspaper on Sunday in a reaffirmation of her country’s position. Al Jazeera

E. Africa Force Combating Congo Violence Extended to December
The mandate of an East African force set up to curb militia violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been extended to December, the regional bloc that formed it said. The seven countries of the East African Community (EAC) set up the force in April 2022 to stop bloodshed linked to decades of militant activity in Congo’s east. Its term was due to expire on Friday but heads of state of member countries meeting in the Kenyan capital extended the mandate to December, EAC said in a statement posted on its account on X, formerly known as Twitter, late on Tuesday. … Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi was at one time openly critical of the regional force, known as the EACRF. He accused it of not being aggressive enough and failing to rein in the M23 rebel group, which launched an offensive in the east of the country last year. Reuters

False Claims Circulated before Nigeria Election Ruling
The election ruling in Nigeria – which is still be read out – has come amid a flood of disinformation spread by social media influencers and micro blogs targeting the tribunal judges. They have been considering challenges to the victory of Bola Tinubu in February’s presidential election. In July, a news website, Igbo Times, published a story claiming that one of the judges in the five-person election tribunal panel, Justice Boloukuoromo M Ugo had resigned due to “demands to kneecap democracy.” It also claimed that he admitted to being asked by the ruling party to rule in favour of its candidate. Justice Ugo has not resigned, and there is no evidence on the claims made by Igbo Times. BBC

Mozambique: The End of Cabo Delgado’s Most Wanted Man
His parents named him Bonomade Machude Omar. His comrades called him Ibn Omar or Abu Sulayfa Muhammad. Many called him a terrorist — especially the Mozambican and American governments, and their allies in the Cabo Delgado conflict. Now, according to Mozambican authorities, he is dead. A source in the Mozambican military said the insurgent leader’s last battle was fought in the dense Kathupa Forest in Macomia district. There, the insurgents launched a daring offensive in mid-August on government troops and soldiers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The offensive is believed to have been targeting the chief-of-staff of the Mozambican army, Joaquim Ribas Mangrasse. Intelligence analysts concluded that only one rebel commander had the authority to go after such a major target: Bonomade Machude. An intense manhunt ensued, and about a week later the army said that he was dead. Mail & Guardian

More than 5 Million People Have Been Displaced by Months long Conflict in Sudan, UN Agency Says
More than 5 million people have now been displaced by the monthslong fighting in Sudan, the United Nations’ migration agency said Wednesday as clashes between the country’s military and a rival paramilitary force show no sign of easing. According to the International Organization for Migration, over 4 million people have been internally displaced since the conflicted erupted in mid-April while another 1.1 million have fled to neighboring countries. More than 750,000 have travelled to either Egypt or Chad, the agency said. International efforts to mediate the conflict have so far failed. There have been at least nine cease-fire agreements since the outbreak and all have broken down. AP

US Envoy in Chad to Spotlight Sudan Atrocities She Calls ‘Reminiscent’ of Darfur 2004
The United States envoy to the United Nations arrived in Chad on Wednesday to meet Sudanese refugees who have fled ethnic and sexual violence in Darfur, which she described as “reminiscent” of atrocities 20 years ago that Washington declared a genocide. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who is a member of President Joe Biden’s cabinet, is due to visit Chad’s border with Darfur in western Sudan to highlight the worsening conflict and growing humanitarian crisis. … “We certainly have reached a level of serious atrocities being committed and it is very reminiscent of what we saw happening in 2004 that led to the genocide determination,” said Thomas-Greenfield before arriving in Chad. … “Once again, Darfur is descending into an abyss without mercy or hope,” U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths said in a statement. “Civilians have been trapped, targeted, raped and murdered. It is unlawful and it is outrageous.” Reuters

Wagner Routinely Targets Civilians in Africa
Wagner’s worst atrocities have taken place in Africa. Records show that the group has mounted far more attacks on civilians, and killed more ordinary people, in the Central African Republic (car) and Mali than they have in Europe. The Wagner Group is a loose network of subsidiaries linked to the Russian state. It operates under contracts with foreign governments, providing services ranging from running disinformation campaigns to supplying fighters. It enables the Kremlin to partake in foreign crusades, seeding anti-Western sentiment and looting natural resources, with scant accountability. Governments in the car and Mali hired Wagner to protect their regimes and quash insurgencies. Although there is no full public record of Wagner’s activities, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (acled), a research group, has sought to catalogue them using a patchwork of news articles, social-media posts and reports from human-rights groups. Since upping their presence in the car in 2020 and Mali in 2021, Wagner forces have been involved in some 35% and 10% of recorded violent events there, respectively. … Far from just fighting rebels, data from acled highlight Wagner’s propensity for targeting civilians. Economist

London to Include Wagner on Its List of Terrorist Organizations
The United Kingdom will include the Russian paramilitary group Wagner on its list of terrorist organizations, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed on Wednesday. “Launched by Putin ‘s Kremlin, the Wagner Group’s methods of torture, theft, and barbarity threaten democracy and freedom around the world,” wrote the head of the British government on the social network X (formerly Twitter). “It is right that today we proscribe this group for what it is: a terrorist organization,” he added. … “Wagner is a violent and destructive organization that has acted as a foreign military tool for Vladimir Putin’s Russia,” Ms. Braverman said. “While the Putin regime decides what to do with the monster it has created, Wagner’s continued destabilizing activities only continue to serve the Kremlin’s political goals,” she added. AfricaNews with AFP

Johannesburg Fire: Hijacks and Death Traps in a Crumbling South African City Centre
Johannesburg’s Central Business District is filled with buildings that look on the brink of collapse. Windows are boarded up and walls are covered in graffiti. Streets are filled with detritus – food wrappers, empty beer bottles, cigarette butts – and a foul smell of rotten food combined with urine fills the air. It is overcrowded, dangerous, and there are few working amenities. And it is now the backdrop to one of South Africa’s worst building disasters, when 76 people died and dozens more were injured in a fire that ripped through 80 Albert Street on Thursday. The dilapidated complex was one of dozens that have been “hijacked” – taken over by criminals and property gangs who then rent out the space illegally to people who cannot afford anything else. There are often no reliable amenities, nor sanitation. Molly, a 21-year-old South African who lives down the road from 80 Albert Street in another “hijacked” building, says it is like living in a prison. “I won’t have water to shower for long periods,” she told the BBC. “And we live in the dark. Lots of us, in one room.” She was scared to use her full name for fear of authorities arresting her for living illegally. BBC

As Africa Climate Summit Promotes Solar, Off-Grid Power Ramps Up below the Sahara
A walk through the busy business district of Mombasa Road in Nairobi, or even a rural community in Kisii County, Kenya, highlights something that’s getting attention at the African Climate Summit in Nairobi this week — solar power that is not connected to the grid. With or without the encouragement of government policy, families and businesses are choosing off-grid solar in the face of an unreliable grid. According to the World Bank, the number of so-called minigrids, meaning solar systems that support a cluster of homes or businesses, has grown from 500 in Africa in 2000 to 3,000 today. In Kenya, the price of electricity has risen due to higher fuel costs, driving some to form their own local grids. It’s not just individual homes in Kenya: Solar energy’s reliability and lower cost, despite initial high installation capital, has attracted steel manufacturers and cooking oil factories, who form some of the biggest clients for one Nairobi-based company. … Over half a billion people in sub-Saharan Africa don’t have reliable access to electricity. Power outages are common. Renewable energy is more reliable but its promise for the region still remains largely unmet. The African nations below the Sahara have 60% of the world’s solar potential. … The abundance of sunlight in Kenya — and Africa — favors solar energy generation, something Shah described as a “very fortunate” opportunity to have “free power.” AP