21 May 2021

Kenya: Is Lamu’s deep water port another white elephant? The project started in 2012 with Kenya’s, Ethiopia’s and South Sudan’s presidents laying the port’s foundation stone. Launched yesterday, the first 3 of the planned 32 berths come at a cost of USD367m. It was meant to connect landlocked Ethiopia’s and South Sudan’s economies to global trade routes, also offering an alternative outlet for South Sudan’s oil. But “(w)ith South Sudan mired in continuous war and Ethiopia upping its stakes in the ports of Djibouti and, most recently, Berbera, the international ambitions of the transport corridor shrivelled somewhat.” Its new objective is to integrate marginalised northern Kenya into the national and international economy. A pipeline, a railway, roads connecting Lamu, Garissa, Isiolo, Moyale and Turkana, a dam along Tana river, airports, resort cities and numerous industrial areas are planned. Of these, only the 500km Isiolo-Moyale road has been completed and road works connecting Lamu to Nairobi via Garissa are under way.
“Since the port will primarily serve as a transshipment hub, it’s expected to attract key shipping lines by competing with the ports of Djibouti on the horn of Africa and Durban in South Africa.”
Construction of the port has raised questions about land rights, the environment, local livelihoods and security, due diligence has not been followed. The government has taken more land than it paid compensation for. Environmental issues came to the fore in a 2018 High Court ruling. Protests against the project have been met heavy-handedly by Kenyan security forces. Local fisher(wo)men will be barred from fishing in restricted area with viable fishing grounds and the fisher(wo)men’s compensation of KSH1.7bn (USD18.4m) awarded by a court ruling has not yet been paid because of disagreements about who should benefit and the mode of compensation. As for employment opportunities, only around 100 youths have so far managed to secure employment at Lamu port. Finally, there are security concerns. Attacks by al-Shabaab (Lamu is close to the Somali border) have shaken the Lamu region over the past 15 years.

Rwanda: Angeline Mukandutiye has admitted recruiting “many” girls for a Rwandan opposition group that operated in Congo-Kinshasa. At 70, she is the only woman in a group of 21 Rwandans presently facing terrorism charges at a high court in Kigali. She was arrested upon arriving in Rwanda. “In late 2019 the DR Congo army attacked positions of the rebel group and captured many of its members and their families. Many of them were repatriated to their home country.”
BBC Africa Live 21 May 2021. 7:02

Somalia: Nominated recently as the African Union’s envoy to Somalia, Ghana’s ex-president John Mahama has withdrawn his acceptance of the mediator task because of lack of support in Somalia. Somalia had formally rejected him because of his extensive links with Kenya.
BBC Africa Live 21 May 2021. 5:35

Walking fast is of no importance if you’re on the wrong path
BBC Africa Live 21 May 2021. BBC Africa’s proverb of the day. A Chichewa proverb sent by Maxwel Gopani in Mozambique

Nigeria: Ibrahim Attahiru, the army chief and a yet unknown number of his aides were killed in a plane crash in Kaduna state. The 54 year-old Lt-Gen had only been at his post since January 2021.

20 May 2021

Kenya: After criticism for wanting to sell the country’s natural resources, tourism minister Najib Balala stated that he never had the intention of selling/privatising national wildlife parks and reserves. But they could “be managed in a different perspective”.
BBC Africa Live 20 May 2021. 6:56

IDPs: According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, the number of IDPs worldwide has reached 55 million. This is due to conflict in Ethiopia and Mozambique and also to natural disasters.
BBC Africa Live 20 May 2021. 6:13

Ethiopia: Is it really genocide? “The major difference between other grave international crimes – such as crimes against humanity and war crimes – and genocide is that genocidaires have two intentions: the intent to commit crimes against a group and the intent to destroy the group in whole or in part.” The challenge is that there are several actors involved in Tigray.
Ethiopia has itself prosecuted genocide. In 2007, after a 12-year trial, “Mengistu Haile Mariam was found guilty of genocide in absentia. (…) Senior members of Mengistu’s military regime were convicted for carrying out the criminal acts with a view to destroying political opponents.” But it is unlikely that the Ethiopian authorities will be able to enquire independently into alleged crimes of the reigning government (as shown by the enquiry into what happened at Axum), a UN mandated commission of inquiry will be necessary.

Rwanda et al./Healing from surviving genocide: According to Judith Herman, there are three elements involved in the healing for genocide trauma: “Survivors need to reach a place of safety, reconstruct the trauma narrative and restore the connection between individual and community”. The article’s author tells of how the Rwandan Solace Ministries managed to make people deal with their traumas. (Forget the article’s parts about Covid trauma.)

Ethiopia/hunger: Samantha Power, head of USAID, in a tweet said that there is extreme hunger in Tigray and that more than 5 million are in need of food assistance. The tweet contains a map of all of Ethiopia indicating the severity of food insecurity in different parts of the country.
BBC Africa Live 20 May 2021. 11:32

Nigeria: The army is investigating rumours that Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram has died or was seriously wounded in a clash with a splinter group.
BBC Africa Live 20 May 2021. 15:43

Kenya: The new deepwater port at Lamu is open for business. The $3bn facility “will ease pressure on Kenya's heavily congested Mombasa port” (further south along the coast) and is to attract cargo for landlocked South Sudan and Ethiopia towards which Kenya is building roads from Lamu.
BBC Africa Live 20 May 2021. 16:26