20 July 2022

Sexual and reproductive health: One of the several fronts on which the East African Community is pushing for integration is the sexual and reproductive health bill. First tabled in 2017, the bill has faced fierce opposition in EAC member countries. With unsafe abortions, “complications arising from early pregnancy and child birth (…) among the leading causes of death among girls aged 15 to 19 years (and) (y)oung girls (…) disproportionately exposed to new HIV infections and sexual violence”, gender disparities need to be addressed and the proposed bill in its 2021 version does just that. Resistance to the really very comprehensive bill comes mainly from religious and conservative groups “who maintain that some provisions of the Bill are part of the Western agenda, and against East African cultural values.” The three most controversial topics are sexuality education, abortion (albeit only on grounds already sanctioned by the Maputo protocol) and surrogacy (a woman carrying and giving birth to a child on behalf of another person). Some also reject the ban on child marriage.

Namibia/South Africa/India: No animal runs faster than cheetahs. With Asiatic cheetahs declared extinct in India 70 years ago, 50 cheetahs are to be relocated from Africa to India over the next five years. 8 cheetahs from Namibia are to arrive in a national park in Madhya Pradesh (central India) in August. South Africa is also to send cheetahs later on.
BBC Africa Live 20 July 2022. 10:52

Sudan: The clashes last week between Berti and Hausa in Blue Nile province (south-east of the country) are now known to have caused at least 105 dead and 291 dead. Calm has returned, but 15,000 are said to have had to leave their homes. Hausa have staged street protests in cities across Sudan calling for justice.
BBC Africa Live 20 July 2022. 14:24

Benin: Business tycoon and opposition figure Sébastien Ajavon has been condemned to 20 years in prison in absentia because of drugs charges which he has always denied will. “His conviction was labelled illegal by the African Court on Human and People's Rights” but Cotonou could not care less. Luxury items of his will now be auctioned off.
BBC Africa Live 20 July 2022. 12:47

Frantz Fanon: The article points to 5 The Conversation articles published in the past on the “Martinique-born psychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionary and leading pan-Africanist, (who) would have been 97 on 20 July 2022”.

Kenya: With food and energy the main drivers, inflation – 7.91% in June – is increasing, maize and wheat flour has gone up 67% in three months. The Ukraine war, Covid, weather (lack of rain), campaign spending, corruption and mismanagement and other factors put upward pressure on prices. The solutions suggested by presidential candidates are vague or unsustainable in the author’s view – he himself has only advice that could work against inflation in the long run: improve productivity.

Kenya: Surprise: President Kenyatta has halved the price of maize flour. The move cannot have anything to do with the country heading for elections. The suspension of the railway development levy and import declaration fees on imported maize must be a sign of the president’s altruism.
BBC Africa Live 20 July 2022. 16:08

Malawi: Amid growing anti-government sentiment and a worsening economic situation, a demonstration against ‘selective justice’ in cases of corruption and against economic woes (with protesters apparently unaware that the High Court had forbidden the protests shortly before they started) and calling for the removal of President Chakwera degenerated into running battles with the police with people suffering injuries and vehicles and buildings destroyed. 40 protesters or more were arrested.
BBC Africa Live 20 July 2022. 17:15
BBC Africa Live 20 July 2022. 15:20

Chad: Young girls (no age specified) are now banned from leaving the country without parental permission. The authorities say it is to stop exploitation. Maybe this is in connection with a “report by the global initiative against transnational crime (which) said human trafficking in Chad has increased in recent years. It also said there has been an increase in the number of Chadian sex workers in neighbouring countries in 2021.” But the country’s Women's Rights League protests and calls the ban sexist, young Chadian boys also being victims of trafficking.
BBC Africa Live 20 July 2022. 16:57

Tanzania: After criticism of recent human rights violations by the security forces, President Samia Suluhu Hassan has replaced the inspector-general of police (the old one was made ambassador in Zimbabwe – probably because police there also have little respect for human rights). She furthermore announced the creation of a “committee to assess police performance”.
BBC Africa Live 20 July 2022. 15:52

19 July 2022

Ethiopia: Right after graduation, Ephrem Belete, a graduate of computer science at Addis Ababa University, “put his cap and gown on his mother while he carried a bunch of firewood”. This was in honour of the work she did for years to get him through school. The video of this was widely shared.
BBC Africa Live 19 July 2022. 7:53

GM Cowpeas/Ghana: Cowpeas are a major protein source in Ghana and the subregion. Cowpea having been genetically engineered at the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute to resist the Maruca pod borer, has cleared the first of three regulatory hurdles when approved by the National Biosafety Authority. Now come the Food and Drugs Authority plus the National Varietal Release and Registration Committee. Since GM cowpea is first in Ghana to go through the process, it is not known how long this will take. After it come seed multiplication, packaging and distribution for GM cowpeas to be ready for the real-world test: the market, in other words producers’ demand. The price – which could be 50% higher than non-GM cowpeas – will be weighed against its advantages. With GM cowpeas still subject to pests like thrips and aphids, it is not clear by how much the use of insecticides can be reduced. Opposition by some NGOs to GM foods will no doubt also continue.

Nigeria: The famous demographic dividend is based on a high percentage of youth driving economic growth. With median age of 18.1 in Nigeria and around 70% of the population below 30 years old, will this human resource be properly harnessed and thus well used? So far, it does not look like it at all, rather, a “large population of unskilled, economically unproductive, unhealthy and poorly educated young people (will be…) a burden to society.” The right conditions for the demographic dividend to work need to be created: investment in education, health, infrastructure is needed and a reduction in fertility rates would also help.

South Africa: Mass shootings (defined as incidents with at least 3 people shot) account for about 5% of murders in 2019/20. The author, a criminologist, looks into the reasons of such mass shootings and says what the government could do against them: have gangs’ illegal firearms and ammunition confiscated by police and/or “identify and monitor the activities of groups responsible for mass shootings to secure arrests and convictions in court”, this second solution necessitating considerable crime intelligence gathering.

Digital labour platforms: Hailed as providers of employment that better suits workers’ skills, interests and schedules, they come with their problems: lack of economic security and control over the work process. Digital labour platforms are “location-based” (delivering food, taxi services, domestic work, care services) or “online web-based” (mediating tasks like data categorisation, translation, editing services). In real life, what arises is “algorithmic management” aka “algorithmic control” with the apps also “assess(ing) performance and determin(ing) pay. They have the power to deactivate or disconnect a worker from the platform”. With algorithms inaccessible, it becomes, for example, impossible for “workers to contest customer ratings”.

Mozambique: Because of the “complexity of the case”, the judge has pushed back the verdict in the “tuna bond” scandal trial originally due 1st of August to 30th of November. Amongst the 19 accused is a son of former president Guebuza.
BBC Africa Live 19 July 2022. 6:33

Zimbabwe: It was the Portuguese who brought maize with them in the 1500s and maize is nowadays the national staple. But production is slowly turning toward the traditional sorghum and millet again – they require less fertiliser, are more drought-resistant and more nutritious.

UK/Rwanda: Apparently, the UK High Commissioner to Rwanda has in 2021 advised the Home Office against an asylum deal with Kigali, criticising the country’s “human rights record and ‘heavy-handed’ security, warning a deal could ‘cause problems reputationally’.” Furthermore, it has emerged that Rwandan authorities were given the opportunity to suggest amendments to the “supposedly ‘objective, impartial and independent’ assessment of Rwanda's safety by the Home Office’s Country Policy Information Team (CPIT)”, especially also where Kigali’s human rights record was concerned.
BBC Africa Live 19 July 2022. 15:56