04 November 2022

Uganda/Ebola: Covid has shown how lockdowns can cause more harm (deprivation, hunger) than good (slowing down the spread of the virus). In Ugande, lockdowns are estimated to have resulted in economic losses of 9.1% of GDP, with more than 65% of the population affected and close to ten years of poverty eradication efforts erased. In reacting to the ongoing Ebola epidemic, Kampala should learn from Covid what to do and what not: a more nuanced containment approach adapted to local conditions is needed and “(c)ontagion risks need to be weighed up against the benefits of maintaining economic interaction.”

Droughts but more groundwater: Despite the droughts that affect the Horn of Africa badly these least few years, groundwater is increasing. It is “’high-intensity’ rainfall”, which has increased despite the droughts, which “has led to more water being stored deep underground”. This “banked” water deep below ground could and should be tapped “to support people in rural areas whose food and water are increasingly insecure.” For this, the costs for drilling boreholes will need to be shouldered. And let us hope that the water from the depths will be drinkable.

UN peacekeeping/Congo-Kinshasa/Mali: MONUSCO in Congo and MINUSMA in Mali have of late met fierce resistance from the locals that they are meant to protect. Both have more than 13,000 soldiers at their disposal. Locals think both of them ineffective at protecting locals. That is a bit of a strange reproach, seen that the main duty to protect their people falls to the national security forces. But the malaise points to an underlying failure of UN peacekeeping missions: they “under-prioritise political dialogue and a people-centred protection approach to peacekeeping” which should be at the heart of their mission. The UN peacekeeping mission seem to need a very fundamental overhaul. The article’s author believes that, more than anything else, “recognition must be given to the primacy of politics, the value of preventive diplomacy and a people-centred perspective”.

Lake Chad basin/Anti-terrorism: With growing links between different terrorist groups and also with criminal groups, and “(g)iven the increasing complexity of the situation and a clear trend towards terrorist expansion in parts of Africa previously spared, the AU’s role is crucial” and, the article argues, an African Union-led new strategy is needed – with a focus not only on the military aspects, but also on the socio-politico-economic roots of “violent extremism”.

Congo-Kinshasa: In a national address, President Tshisekedi called on youths eager to defend their country against the Rwandan aggression to form “vigilance groups” (not “vigilantes”/self-defence groups) and thus support the army. Or to join the army.
BBC Africa Live 04 November 2022. 8:54

COP27: The (Rio) Convention on Climate Change of 1992 has spawned other treaties like the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 and the 2015 Paris Agreement. But all these agreements are non-binding (there is no authority to impose implementation) and progress has been slow. Most African countries are highly vulnerable to climate change. Ahead of the 27th Conference of the Parties (198 signatory countries) to the UN Convention on Climate Change of 1992, the article gives an overview and discusses the challenges facing the conference.

South Sudan: Between April and July 2023, two thirds (!!!) of all South Sudanese will most probably face acute food insecurity and malnutrition according to Unicef, FAO and the World Food Programme. The country “is on the frontline of the climate crisis and day in, day out families are losing their homes, cattle, fields and hope to extreme weather”. Add conflict and food and fuel inflation to this…
BBC Africa Live 04 November 2022. 13:47

03 November 2022

Ethiopia/Tigray: Addis and the TPLF have agreed a truce. Though this is a major step forward, work remains to be done to reach peace. This is not the conflict’s first ceasefire, but this time the agreement goes further: the agreement includes a disarmament plan plus restoration of essential services, amongst them aid supplies. TPLF has will “disarm, demobilize and reintegrate fighters into the federal army”. The conflict started almost exactly two years ago.
BBC Africa Live 02 November 2022. 18:38

Glaciers melting: Climate change will make glaciers disappear by 2050 in Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, Rwenzori mountains and Virunga national parks. People living around there will be impacted heavily. Harvests have already started to decrease and drought periods have become longer. Hydropower generation will be affected and malaria and other tropical diseases will spread to mountainous areas. Beyond the material, “glaciers have an extremely important cultural and spiritual significance” for the communities living in those mountains.
BBC Africa Live 03 November 2022. 9:51

Glaciers: A Unesco report which makes projections based on satellite data comes to the conclusion that glaciers in a third of all world heritage sites will have melted by the year 2050. World heritage site glaciers lose 58bn tonnes of ice per year. To reduce the speed of glaciers melting requires action against global warming.

Mozambique: Arlindo Chissale, a freelance journalist and editor of an online publication covering the Cabo Delgado conflict “has gone missing after police took him into custody over the weekend”. Human Rights Watch calls on the government to locate him, inform his family and make sure he returns home safely. “Detention and forced disappearance of local journalists covering the conflict in Cabo Delgado province is common.”
BBC Africa Live 03 November 2022. 11:55

Burkina Faso: According to Joe Biden, the USA will cease to treat Burkina as a beneficiary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) because of the country’s “lack of progress towards ‘protecting of the rule of law and political pluralism’.” Burkina has suffered a second coup d’état end-September after a first one eight months earlier.
BBC Africa Live 03 November 2022. 11:17

Glencore oil bribes: Having paid 26m USD “to officials of crude oil firms in Nigeria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast between 2011 and 2016”, Glencore Energy UK will have to pay 275m £ (307m USD) in punishment for corruption. This Glencore case is evidence of how widespread this corporate corruption was, what “very substantial sums of money” were spent in bribes and how it happened over an extended period.
BBC Africa Live 03 November 2022. 12:56

Guinea: A letter by the justice minister instructs prosecutors to initiate legal proceedings against more than 180 individuals and legal entities for “corruption, illicit enrichment, money laundering, forgery and use of forgeries in public writing, embezzlement of public funds and complicity”. Amongst the more than 180 is Alpha Condé, the country’s president until he was overthrown by a coup d’état in September 2021.
BBC Africa Live 03 November 2022. 13:30

Somalia: With the drought making tax payments to al-Shabaab impossible for many, a grassroots movement has risen against the Islamist organisation which controls large parts of the country. “Small groups of nomads and farmers have periodically risen up against al-Shabab in recent years, only to be crushed mercilessly.” But now, the phenomenon takes on a more systematic character as the government provides these militias – their fighters wear skirts (called “ma'awiis”) and are known as “ma'awiisley” – with ammunition, food and fuel and some are integrated into the army. This is a key addition to the government’s anti-terrorist arsenal (which also includes “efforts to disrupt financial flows to the militants and challenge their ideology”) and it could well be a game-changer.

Chagos Islands/GB/Mauritius: If Britain had decolonized comme il faut, the Chagos Islands would today belong to Mauritius. The British Foreign Secretary has now agreed to hold negotiations with Mauritius. Precondition to that will without doubt be permission for the US to continue to use the military base on Diego Garcia, the biggest of the Chagos Islands – the installation of the military base in 1966 led to the expulsion of more than 1,000 Chagossians.
BBC Africa Live 03 November 2022. 16:23

South Sudan/Floods: According to Ocha, floods following torrential rains have affected more than 1 million South Sudanese. Violence, insecurity, impassable roads or bridges, flooded airstrips and, most importantly, dearth of funds make things worse. Should upstream White Nile dams be opened to relieve pressure there, the situation in South Sudan would get even more untenable.
BBC Africa Live 03 November 2022. 15:12