15 November 2022

eSwatini: School-leaving exams have been postponed to December because of pro-democracy protests scheduled for today Tuesday. Protests demanding “major constitutional reforms” have been ongoing since June.
BBC Africa Live 15 November 2022. 7:41

Ghana/Urban innovation: With an estimated 45% of Accra’s population living in informal and poor areas with “extremely limited access to basic facilities such as water and sanitation”, inventive social innovation plays a big role in making these parts of the city liveable. Forget technology-based innovation from the Global North. Based on research into “residents’ collective infrastructure management in the indigenous township of La Dade-Kotopon”, the article argues that working with such innovative initiatives – bottom-up and informal – provides “a pathway to a people-centred and inclusive approach to urban planning”.

Kenya: The north of the country (60% of its territory with 18% of its population) is characterised “by a wide expanse of wilderness, harsh climate and low levels of development”. Successive governments have not been able to get security threats under control. Neglect by (colonial and post-colonial) state institutions has worsened marginalisation. Reasons for conflict include competition for scarce resources (pasture, water), the custom of cattle rustling and also local-level political competition resulting from decentralisation. The use of force by state security institutions will hardly yield results. Informal methods need to be employed as they are perceived as legitimate and are widely accepted in local communities. Thus, dialogue, education and peace-making could be promoted.

Unions et al. in the age of digital labour platforms: In opposition to the “end of labour thesis” and despite “algorithmic insecurity” resulting from digitisation, worker resistance and worker organisation remain possible, even if platform workers are difficult to organise. But the article’s authors’ research “points to the proliferation of self-organised groups, which blur the boundaries between traditional unionism and informal workers’ associations or cooperatives”.

Population growth: According to the UN, over the next 30 years, 8 countries are expected to be responsible for 50% of worldwide population growth. Amongst them are 5 African countries: Congo-Kinshasa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania. High fertility there is driven by “low contraceptive use, high adolescent fertility rates and a prevalence of polygamous marriages”. The article discusses consequences of high population growth.

Diabetes/South Africa: More than 12% of adults in the country suffer from diabetes. The overstretched public health system is incapable of taking good care of them. First and foremost, while insulin is available free of charge at primary care clinics, health personnel does not have the time to educate diabetes patients – explain the illness and therapy to them. The article explains what is necessary and what should be done.

Mali/Côte d’Ivoire: The UN have today Tuesday been notified by Côte d’Ivoire that it would gradually – by August 2023 – withdraw its contingent from the peace-keeping force in Mali. This comes a day after the UK announced its pull-out and four months into a dispute between the two neighbours about 49 Ivorian soldiers arrested in Mali whom Bamako accuses of being mercenaries, only 3 of whom have since been released.
BBC Africa Live 15 November 2022. 13:41

14 November 2022

Morocco/South Africa: Morocco’s club AS FAR beat South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns 4-0 yesterday Sunday to win the Women's African Champions League title. Ibtissam Jraidi contributed a hat-trick.
BBC Africa Live 14 November 2022. 12:19

Swahili/Literature/Tanzania: For the first time ever, a book by last year’s winner of the literature Nobel prize Abdulrazak Gurnah has been translated into an African language: Swahili. The translated oeuvre, “Paradise”, the author’s fourth novel, is set in East Africa during colonial times. Gurnah grew up in Zanzibar but left the country at about 18. He has lived in England ever since.
BBC Africa Live 14 November 2022. 15:40

South Africa/Fossil fuels: 85% of the country’s electricity is produced in coal power plants, only 9 percentage points less than in 1985. “Despite the electricity crisis having now become urgent and obvious, with several hours of power cuts during as many as half of the days in 2022, there has been no unity in purpose to tackle the issue.” So developing new solar and wind power plants has not seriously started yet. Ramaphosa’s recently published Just Energy Transition Investment Plan could be a step in the right direction, but it will need the government to “rally behind this initiative and work together rather than sending contradictory messages”.

Somaliland: Protests against “illegitimate” President Muse Bihi Abdi – whose term was to end yesterday Sunday before it was extended by two years in October for reasons of “financial and technical constraints” for the electoral commission – have resulted in several people injured. Police have called on people to stay at home and not stage further protests. In August there had been “several” dead and “dozens” injured when police fired on protesters demanding elections.
BBC Africa Live 14 November 2022. 9:34

Egypt/Free speech: Saying what you think – not only in the media, but also in graphic novels, on Facebook or by means of TikTok dance videos can easily get you into trouble. As COP27 is ongoing, censorship seems to have become less heavy. But even if this is to last, more is needed, namely a “correction of deficits in the judicial system, coupled with a broader and permanent opening of Egyptian society”. A surprisingly optimistic article which sees Egypt at a crossroads, hoping it will take the road to “a liberal republic – with respect to the limits placed on speech, and with respect to the limits of governmental interference in civil society.”

Nigeria: There are “potent threats to a free, fair and credible election” and they come first of all from “Boko Haram terrorists, bandits, separatists, criminals, militants, armed herdsmen and a host of violent gangs.” Beyond physical reality, there are also threats from virtual reality, from “hacking, misinformation, disinformation, deepfakes and fake news.” Violence perpetrated by political thugs has characterised Nigerian elections in the past, but “the speed, spread and scale with which violence has evolved make the 2023 elections particularly concerning.” From January to July of this year, 2,840 violent incidents have led to the killing of 7,222 and the abduction of 3,823 and cyber-attacks have multiplied (Nigeria being second in numbers on the continent only to South Africa) while technological innovation (the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System) is meant to improve the elections’ transparency. Electoral infrastructure and personnel have also come under attack – 9 abductions involved electoral commission staff since 2017, 20 attacks on election facilities and 17 incidents of looting and property destruction have been registered in the same period.

Climate change & Wildlife: This short article points to three past The Conversation articles that dealt with the topic. The first is on “the devastating effect that these droughts have on wildlife and habitat” in the Kenya-Somalia border region. The second on the negative effect that reduced tree fruiting (night-time temperatures need to drop below 19ºC during dry season to trigger flowering) has on forest elephants in Gabon. The third reports that if temperatures continue to increase in the Kalahari like they have these last few years, then southern yellow-billed hornbills will become extinct in the region – all breeding attempts fail with average daily maximum air temperature exceeding 35.7°C.

Zambia: Yesterday Sunday, Muvi TV journalists Innocent Phiri and Obvious Kapunda were arrested by police. They had been covering the arrest of controversial opposition politician Chilufya Tayali, who has been accused of “defaming” the country’s president. Is this old habits resurfacing under the (relatively) new head of state?
BBC Africa Live 14 November 2022. 17:24

Mali/UK: The about 300 British soldiers who are in Mali as part of UN mission MINUSMA will be withdrawn earlier than planned (the article does not say when) because of Mali’s political instability and because of the army working with Wagner group. But, according to the British Defence minister, his “government's commitment to the region remained ‘undiminished’.”