14 February 2022

Congo-Kinshasa/Ebola: This article challenges the very foundations of international epidemic management – contending that it “involves ceding control to a group of foreign experts who possess, at best, a surface-level understanding of a very complex region”, it suggests “that local Congolese knowledge and institutions might have the capacity to manage an Ebola epidemic more effectively than their international counterparts.” Before the international response (the “Riposte”) set in, traditional methods of minimising infection transmission had proven remarkably effective. The international approach to testing and treatment, then, “militarised, fear-based”, made patients “flee the Riposte, which negatively affected the rate of spread, the morbidity, and the deadliness of the epidemic”. Though survival rates were much improved in the 2018-20 epidemic due to available medicine, “the coercive policies and tactics of the Riposte fomented fear of survivors and reinforced the stigma attached to them”. “The lack of efficient communication, the uncritical provision of free healthcare, and a blind eye to the prevailing” context “led to poor acceptance of” the efforts undertaken by the Riposte to contain the epidemic. Instead, “the Riposte was perceived by many locally as a vast machine of economic extraction, further heightening mistrust”. It would be much better to 1) heed context, 2) “strengthen, improve or extend the existing health system instead of creating a parallel system that weakens it”, 3) “listen to and integrate local actors, skills and practices, rather than marginalise or exclude them”, 4) have local communities take ownership of fighting the epidemic.

Credit rating agencies: Moody’s has just bought a majority of shares of Global Credit Rating (GCR), “a leading credit rating agency in Africa”. Though this reflects increasing global interest in African financial markets, it is bad news: it gives more power to one of the big three of global financial rating with African states having no means of controlling their power approaching monopoly (95% of global credit rating – in the US and Europe, they have been fined for anti-competition practices). Though the buying of GCR will no doubt give Moody’s more local knowledge, anti-African bias is still likely to increase.

South Africa: Listening to the radio is very wide-spread in the country and has further increased during Covid lockdowns. With 40 commercial and public broadcast stations plus – emerging from liberalisation of the airwaves in the early 1990s – 284 community stations, “(i)n 2021, about 80% of South Africans had tuned into a radio station within the last week, with most people still listening on traditional radio sets.” Interacting with the radio has become a lot easier and diverse, it is no longer limited to phoning in, there are also the social platforms that make it possible to communicate with other listeners.

South Africa: The country’s citizens consider “unemployment, crime and corruption as the three most important issues facing the country. Others include housing and water.” Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address has addressed all these issues and offered solutions. But the majority of South Africans do not believe that the government is up to the task. Intentions and even laws may be good, but implementation is not – with the ANC’s cadre deployment at fault. Ramaphosa is aware of this and has “outlined plans to remove political obstacles to effective governance and rebuild a ‘capable state’.”

Dogs/Covid: While a human being has about 6 million scent receptors, a dog has 300 million. “(D)ogs can be trained to successfully recognize (…) “biomarkers” in the exhaled breath of patients with certain diseases or chronic medical conditions, including cancer and diabetes, as well as for pre-seizure detection in epileptic individuals.” And the article’s authors have found that dogs can also detect Covid. Trained dogs got it right more than 90% of the time, one of their dogs 99.4% of the time. The dogs have been used in real life – for example at Miami International Airport.

Chagos Islands: As the climax of the trip organised by the Mauritian government, Mauritian flags have been raised on Peros Banhos and on Salomon islands – the first ever to be raised on the Chagos Islands. Descendants of the Chagossians evicted from their islands 50 years ago were part of the trip.
BBC Africa Live 14 February 2022. 10:27 resp. 15:19

Algeria/France: The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Algeria demands compensation for victims of French nuclear tests in southern Algeria and will take France to the International Criminal Court.
BBC Africa Live 14 February 2022. 16:34

13 February 2022

Guinea-Bissau: The “coup attempt” of 1st of February remains shrouded in mystery. President Embaló has named three men linked to drug dealing as having instigated the putsch attempt. With the country in the past described as a “narco-state”, this explanation may seem plausible. But there are pieces of the puzzle that don’t fit. Why didn’t the military intervene in the five-hour gun battle that supposedly tried to get rid of the president and his government? One alternative explanation is that Embaló “may have staged the coup in order to persuade the West Africa regional group Ecowas ‘to send troops to maintain him in power’.”