12 July 2022

Ethiopia: While female labour force participation and women’s political participation strongly correlate in rich countries, this has not been the case in Ethiopia, where industrial parks and foreign-funded enterprises in particular have provided jobs for women since 2010. The article’s author summarizes the results of her research thus: “our research found no evidence to suggest that the job offers had any positive effect on political participation. We saw no effect of employment on women’s bargaining power or gender equality norms. We even found a reduction in women’s participation in community meetings.” The reason is the poor working conditions, absence of unions, long working hours, low wages and even abuse the women face in the work-place – with “labour laws (…) not enforced for fear of investors leaving the country”. A dire picture of women at work.

South Africa: “Turkeys do not vote for Christmas” – so the ANC is unlikely to change an electoral system that has so far helped it secure majorities. Only if the ANC gets well below 50% at elections might it become interested in true electoral reform – if its coalition partners demand it firmly. Once parliament has decided on a change of the electoral system, it may then be a good idea to submit it to the sovereign by means of a referendum, thereby making democracy more direct.

South Africa top in men’s cricket: Five wins ins seven games means that South Africa is presently top in the International Cricket Council’s World Test Championship table. But the season is still long, it runs to June 2023, “with the top two teams in the table competing for the overall title in the final”. South Africa will next play England in mid-August.
BBC Africa Live 12 July 2022. 13:18

Africa & population growth: According to the UN report “World Population Prospects 2022” published yesterday Monday, world population – currently at 8 billion – will grow to 9.7 billion in 2050, then reach a peak of 10.4 billion in the 2080s and remain at that level until 2100. Half of the 1.7 billion additional human beings until 2050 will be born in only 8 countries: Congo-Kinshasa, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines and Tanzania. Life expectancy in Africa is forecast to rise to 64.3 for men and 69.1 for women – considerably below world averages of 74.8 respectively 79.8 years and even further from Europe and North America where men are expected to live up to 81.6 on average and women to 86.1 in 2050.
BBC Africa Live 12 July 2022. 14:35

11 July 2022

Mali/International Community: 49 Ivorian soldiers have been arrested at Bamako airport yesterday Sunday. Supposedly joining Minusma (the UN mission in Mali), they were apparently unable to present their mission order. The airport was reportedly placed under tight security. There are allegations – it is not quite clear by whom – of the 49 being linked to a coup attempt against the Malian junta.
BBC Africa Live 11 July 2022. 8:15

Togo: An improvised explosive device yesterday Sunday killed 7 children in the country’s extreme north. In May, a terrorist attack – the first in Togo – killed 8 soldiers near the Burkinabè border.
BBC Africa Live 11 July 2022. 5:04

Morocco: Phosphorous fertiliser come from phosphorous which is extracted from phosphate rock reserves – Morocco has 70% of the world’s reserves of such rock. In 2020, the country’s revenues from phosphorous fertiliser was 5.94bn USD, creating 20% of export revenues and providing jobs for 21,000, making state-owned Office Chérifien des Phosphates Morocco’s largest employer. A future increase of production has been announced. With available fertilisers diminished by the Ukraine war, Morocco’s role in the world market and for world food production becomes essential. But increasing production comes with challenges. For one thing, fertiliser production is water- and energy-intensive. Water is scarce in the country. Natural gas is also needed for fertiliser production – and prices have shot up of late, also because of the Ukraine war.

South Sudan: Two years after independence, a civil war started in 2013. No elections have ever been held. Nation-building has not even started. Implementation of the 2018 roadmap for peace and national reconciliation has been slow. But according to the article’s author there is some reason for hope. Most importantly, local peace initiatives are ongoing, where communities instead of elites play the main roles. The National Dialogue Initiative, for one, provides space for communities and individuals to voice their wishes and needs, to communicate with each other and propose solutions. Also, some institutional and legislative reforms have been achieved.

South Africa: A year ago, triggered by the imprisonment of ex-president “state capture” Jacob Zuma, there was what President Ramaphosa termed “an insurrection: a calculated, orchestrated effort to destabilise the country, sabotage the economy, and undermine constitutional democracy.” According to the article’s author, “a recurrence of the devastating events of July 2021 is possible (…) if there is no meaningful change” and she gives a list of reasons for wide-spread discontent. In the face of great inequalities, people at least want accountability and justice. Concerning security, a people-centred approach is necessary.