07 March 2022

South Africa: Interpol has issued a red notice against two of the Guptas who have fled to the UAE. A red notice is no “international warrant of arrest”, but will make travel across borders difficult for them – the red notice is “a forerunner for initiating a formal request for their extradition to stand trial in South Africa”. Since the “finalisation and ratification of the treaties on extradition and mutual legal assistance between South Africa and the UAE” in June 2021, such an extradition request is possible. However, “(e)xtradition is often a time consuming and drawn-out process consisting of complicated legal steps”.

Ghana: Parts of Nkrumah’s midnight independence speech are much cited to this day, yet the scope of the speech is seldom realised. The article provides a more complete if short interpretation. Besides his fellow Ghanaians, Nkrumah in this speech also addressed an international audience. On the national level, he was trying to further broaden the mass base of the Convention People’s Party – “the plebeian masses, the urban workers, artisans, petty traders, market women and fishermen, the clerks, the junior teachers, and the vast farming communities of the rural areas” – to take the country far beyond pre-colonial traditions. And this was to happen in a pan-Africanist context: “Our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with total liberation of the African continent.” In his view, there could be no “transfiguration of the political kingdom” without the whole continent’s true liberation.

Ghana: The colonial masters designed an economy for Ghana with a focus on the export of raw materials and importation of finished goods. If the economy’s fundamentals are weak to this day, it is because this has not changed much since independence. Cocoa and gold are still the major export goods, with oil and gas having been added recently (while refined fuels are mostly imported). With earnings from exports falling behind spending on imports, the country’s currency (the Cedi) weakens – depreciates. “The depreciation of the cedi has always been seasonal. It’s at its worst between February to March. This is the period during which Ghana-based multinationals repatriate profits.” Depreciation makes imports more expensive, pushing up inflation.

Renaissance dam/Ethiopia: Egypt and Sudan stick to colonial era treaties that give them near total control over Nile river waters and have refused to sign the Cooperative Framework Agreement of the Nile basin states. In disrespect of the colonial era treaties, Ethiopia has built the Renaissance dam on the Upper Blue Nile and – without reaching an agreement with Egypt and Sudan who both fear that the Nile water available to them will decrease – “began filling the reservoir in 2020. So far, filling does not appear to have imposed any significant harm on the downstream states.” The dam (80% finished) has been officially inaugurated on 20th of February 2022. With now 18.5 billion of an eventual 70 billion cubic metres of water in its reservoir, “the dam is expected to produce 750 megawatts of electricity” initially, but its potential production is 6,000 MW. The electricity generated will benefit (all of?) the 60% of Ethiopians that remain to this day without access to electricity and should help develop the economy, also the agricultural sector. Furthermore, the energy produced is relatively green.

Elephants/Gabon: Forest elephants are a critically endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (savanna elephants are “endangered”). Nowadays, only Gabon, northern Republic of Congo, northern Botswana, northern Tanzania and northern Kenya have “high quality habitat and stable elephant populations”. Elephants are difficult to count – a new method is to collect dung samples and use DNA analysis. For Gabon, on this basis, total forest elephant population was estimated at 95,110. Unlike elsewhere, human presence does not inversely correlate with elephant presence, indicating that there is relatively little elephant poaching. “In the very lightly populated rural regions, there may be roughly one elephant for every twenty inhabitants.”

Equatorial Guinea: Four explosions last March at the Nkoa-Ntoma army camp in the capital Bata killed 107 and injured 615 in the area. With two soldiers in the meantime sentenced to 35 respectively 50 years in prison for negligence, the government has announced the release of 1.16m USD in compensation: 13,000 USD will be paid for fatalities and 7,000 USD for lost limbs.
BBC Africa Live 07 March 2022. 11:51

Kenya: A video of a woman car driver aggressed by boda boda drivers is creating outrage. In it, “the woman is screaming and struggling to push off the hands of men who were trying to undress her while others ordered that she be removed from inside the car. The rowdy gang stripped the woman half-naked.” Reputedly, she had been involved in an accident with a boda boda driver. “(W)henever one of them is involved in a traffic accident they are known to show up at the scene in large numbers, hooting, harassing motorists and threatening to lynch car drivers.”
BBC Africa Live 07 March 2022. 14:52

Malawi: The government is not doing enough against corruption. Catholic bishops in a pastoral letter say they are surprised how “weak and indecisive” the government reacted, seen that the President’s main focus in his election campaign was anti-corruption. The government has promised that it will “engage with the bishops on the issues raised”.
BBC Africa Live 07 March 2022. 16:02

06 March 2022

Less equal than others: The war in Ukraine shows that “not all armed conflicts are treated with the same lack of resolve that much of the fighting in Africa gets.” Tigray is a case in point. And the bloody war in Cameroon is hardly ever mentioned in the rich world’s media. But of course, Africans are not similar to the Ukrainians, not (only) because African refugees are not (all) “prosperous, middle-class people” and some of them are “obviously refugees trying to get away from areas in the Middle East or North Africa”, but also because of pure and simple racism.