02 July 2022

Gambia: A ban on timber exports has been decreed with immediate effect. The measure is to stop smuggling, especially of rosewood – declared an endangered species in 2017. With the country’s own rosewood resources close to depletion, it is mostly rosewood from the Casamance that is exported from Gambia: 300,000 tonnes between 2017 and 2020 were exported to China according to a BBC investigation. The article includes a 8-minute BBC video about rosewood tree felling in the Casamance, its smuggling to the Gambia and exporting from there.

01 July 2022

Child Marriage: There are 12 million marriages before the age of 18 world-wide every year. Most of them in Africa, South Asia and South America, but also in the US (more than 15,000 each year) and even in Germany (around 200 annually). Ultimately, raising the legal age of marriage does not address the root causes of child marriage. There are other effective interventions. In 44 of US-states, marriage for girls and boys under 18 remains legal – in Germany, it is forbidden. Outlawing child marriage resp. fixing 18 as the minimum age for marriage is important, but “(a) 2021 systematic review for the UN found that the most effective interventions to reduce the prevalence of child marriage helped girls to remain in school through cash or in-kind transfers.” Girls are, of course, much more concerned than boys and Covid has made things worse.

Tanzania: The 25 Maasai arrested when protests against the eviction of the community from its ancestral land in Loliondo (Ngorongoro district, north of the country) led to clashes with security forces have been charged with murder at a court in Arusha. Ngorongoro’s district chairman and ward councillors of the ruling party (CCM) are amongst the arrested.
BBC Africa Live 01 July 2022. 6:53

Make it 2/UK/Nigeria: After the deal with Rwanda, infamous Home Secretary Priti Patel has signed a deal with Nigeria. This time, Britain is to get rid of “dangerous foreign criminals”. Shortly before, 10 Nigerians or more had been deported for alleged immigration-related offences, amongst them at least one member of the LGTBI community.
BBC Africa Live 01 July 2022. 6:22

Sudan: On the 3rd anniversary of the huge demonstrations that finally overthrew Omar al-Bashir, the shutting down of internet and telephone services and the closing over the bridges over the Nile yesterday could not prevent the largest demonstrations yet since the October coup d’état. The security forces used tear gas, water cannons and live ammunition to try and control the protesters. 8 of them were killed, most of them shot, and many were injured.
BBC Africa Live 01 July 2022. 4:34

Kenya/Long-distance flowers: Climatic conditions for commercial flower growing are excellent and Kenya is the world’s fourth largest exporter of flowers. Air transport to European markets is now being replaced by ship transport – which takes about a month and necessitates special measures: Flowers are harvested in the cool mornings and taken to cold rooms, then dipped in chemicals to protect them from the fungus, then put into buckets for absorption of a hydration solution (for the month without water), then put in “a solution that curbs the growth hormone, ethylene, which causes the ageing of the flowers”, then put into cartons with holes that allow air circulation. During the whole journey, a temperature of 0.5°C, an oxygen level of 5% (instead of 20%), a CO2 level of 4% (instead of 0.4%) need to be maintained for the flowers to go into dormancy. The savings on transport are substantial and 20% of flowers exported from Kenya could in future travel by sea. In the meantime, breeders are trying to develop varieties that are better suited for sea transport.

Neglected Tropical Diseases: At the Kigali Summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) on 23rd of June, signatories of the WHO's 2021-30 road map for NTDs reiterated their commitment by signing the Kigali Declaration on NTDs – malaria, dengue, leishmaniasis, trachoma, dracunculiasis/Guinea worm disease, snakebite envenoming, intestinal worms, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis/river blindness, schistosomiasis – 20 diseases and disease groups in all. Since the previous declaration on NTDs in London in 2012, substantial progress has been made with respect to trypanosomiasis/sleeping sickness (with number of cases globally reduced from over 7,000 in 2012 to less than 1,000 in 2019) and dracunculiasis/Guinea worm disease (now on the brink of extinction) while 31 countries eliminated one NTD or more. Covid has complicated the fight against NTDs. Unsurprisingly, access to people in conflict zones remains a problem for treatment and eradication efforts.

Marine fisheries: To keep up with population growth, Africa’s 7 million tonnes of marine fish today would have to grow to 13 million tonnes in 2030 and 19 million in 2050. Potentially, fisheries and aquaculture can manage to produce this quantity – but this needs interventions in three key areas: “restoring ecosystems to health; improving the sustainability of fisheries operations; improving harvest and post-harvest chains.” As fish do not respect national boundaries, foreign access agreements need to be concluded and the problem of illegal fishing needs to be dealt with. Fish-farming (mariculture) should be scaled up. Smoking or drying fish would reduce losses which presently account for 35% of harvests.

Nigeria/Germany: 1,130 Benin bronzes stolen in colonial times will be handed over by Germany to Nigeria according to an agreement signed by the two countries today Friday. Only 2 of them will be returned immediately, “many” before the end of 2022 “while some will remain on long-term loan at the Humboldt Forum in Berlin.”
BBC Africa Live 01 July 2022. 16:18

Liberia: Enact Africa has yesterday Thursday published Gregory Coleman and Ben Spatz’s “Veneers of governance: lessons from Liberia’s growing vulnerability”. While peace reigns since 2003, “ternational community's efforts to strengthen Liberia's state institutions have created pathways for corruption”, governance is on a downward path and organised crime is thriving. Download the report on:

Congo-Kinshasa/EAC: The Allied Democratic Forces/ADF are involved in both terrorist activity and transnational organised crime. Originally from Uganda, then eastern Congo-Kinshasa, they have started recruiting in other East African countries. They are now part of the regional illicit border economy, with the resource-rich regions of Beni and Butembo, especially gold, providing them with income. In areas controlled by them, they also tax activities around timber. Future integration of the East African Community (EAC), of which Congo-Kinshasa is now part, risks to benefit ADF if nothing is done about it.