01 June 2022

Tigray/Ethiopia: Because of power outages, lack of fuel and a general lack of medicine and medical supplies, the Ayder Referral Hospital – the largest in Tigray – has suspended regular operations. Doctors (and other personnel?) have not been paid in over a year.
BBC Africa Live 01 June 2022. 8:35

Mali: Bamako has refuted a damning report published by Minusma last week that alleged gross and exponentially rising rights abuses by the Malian army including summary executions and forced disappearances. The ministry of foreign affairs said the report’s intention was to damage the national army’s image and “to discredit it vis-a-vis the population and the international community” while the “allegations are very often tedious, uncross-referenced, reported in non-contradictory ways, and not supported by any tangible evidence”.
BBC Africa Live 01 June 2022. 7:15

Mali: A UN peacekeeper of Jordanian nationality is the latest of 170 victims of the UN Minusma mission in Mali. His convoy “came under fire from small arms and rocket propelled grenades in the northern region of Kidal”.
BBC Africa Live 01 June 2022. 15:43

Nigeria: Because of surging crimes and road accidents and because the “the taxi riders (are) a threat to road users”, Lagos has decided a ban on motorcycle taxis in major districts of the city two weeks ago and has not started to enforce the ban. Users like motorbike taxis because they are faster than cars in the perpetual traffic jams and thousands used to make a living from it, so there is bound to be “a backlash” against the ban.
BBC Africa Live 01 June 2022. 10:22

South Africa/Cost of lockdowns: Measure the effect of three quarters of a year or more out of school on students’ learning, the authors of the article found that – concerning both mathematics and language – the lockdown “left public school learners in South Africa about a year behind previous cohorts”. Students in richer communities lost less, but even they lost around two-thirds of a school year. Special efforts now need to be made to catch up.

South Africa/Land reform: Unlike similar policy papers in the past, the ANC’s latest policy document “has a sharp focus on the key interventions to drive the agricultural and rural economy.” Agriculture is better than other sectors in creating jobs and reducing poverty. If adopted (hopefully without being diluted) as official ANC policy, it will have to be translated into concrete government policy – and then implemented. At the heart of land reform, we now find the Land Reform and Agricultural Development Agency. “The agency would bring about national coordination, reduce red tape, and become a one-stop shop for issues related to a decentralised redistribution of agricultural land.” Not to be forgotten for success in the agricultural sector are the contributions from municipalities and network industries: roads, rails, water, electricity and ports. Is all of this wishful thinking or is the article’s author’s optimism justified?

31 May 2022

Somalia/Horn of Africa/US: Washington has announced the redeployment of troops in Somalia. While the internal situation (al-Shabaab, Somali government, AU forces) has hardly changed since the US pull-out in 2020, rivalry with Russia seems to be the reason for this new US engagement. Under president Farmaajo, who has just been voted out of office, Somalia aligned with Ethiopia and Eritrea (and even had troops fighting at their side against Tigre) – both of these countries being close to Moscow. The new Somali president Hassan is rather seen as a US ally. The US redeployment will “shore up a president with the will and potential to withstand the Russian-backed alliance of Eritrea and Ethiopia in the Horn” and thus broaden US support in the region of the Horn.

East Africa/Sea cucumbers: The coastal zones of Eastern Africa are being depleted of sea cucumber because of high demand in China (food and medicine). Prices locally are at most 40 USD per kg, in Hong Kong or China, 1 kg fetches up to 300 USD. From 2012 to 2018, 3,800 tonnes of sea cucumber were exported from East Africa to Hong Kong. Sea cucumbers have been listed as an endangered species. They perform an important role “in the marine ecosystem by recycling nutrients and breaking down other organic matter that enables biodegradation. They have been described as the ‘vacuum cleaners of the ocean’ – they eat dead plant and animal matter, and then expel cleaner, oxygenated sand.” As a first step to reduce sea cucumber over-exploitation, the different countries’ laws should be harmonised.

Sudan: After lifting the state of emergency, the junta has freed 125 political prisoners, leaders of the Resistance Committees that have spearheaded anti-military protests since the October coup d’état. The junta now hopes for face-to-face talks with civil society.
BBC Africa Live 31 May 2022. 8:27

Madagascar/Photography: Ramily – Emile Rakotondrazaka is his real name – is considered “the grandfather of Malagasy photography”. He died in 2017. A major exhibition now goes on show at Antananarivo’s Hakanto Contemporary art space. BBC shows 8 of the photographs on show there.
BBC Africa Live 31 May 2022. 16:52