9 March 2021

Nigeria: 10,000 refugees from Boko Haram into neighbouring Cameroon are willing to return home. The first 340 have now actually returned by bus and truck to Banki, Borno State.
BBC Africa Live 08 March 2021. 17:39

Nigeria: The traumas of the 1967-70 Biafra war have never been properly dealt with. Memorialisation and formal acknowledgement need to be done properly to heal wounds. The solution would be “(p)olitical justice (which) aims for political reforms that recognise the political nature of the crisis in the postcolonial state. The goal is to rethink or reform the political structures of colonially imposed governance. The same exclusionary political structures that led to the political crises and massacres across Nigeria in the 1960s have remained firmly in place.” The – rather vague and general – aim should be “a negotiated political reform based on recreating a state that is responsible, acceptable, legitimate to its members, and where power is devolved and decentralised to all constituencies”.

Nigeria: Diaspora remittances dropped dramatically because of Covid-19, from $25bn in 2019 to a mere $5.3bn in 2020. The country is very reliant on these inflows – in 2018, remittances were as high as 83% of the budget, 6.1% of GDP and 11 times higher than foreign investment inflows. The Central Bank of Nigeria has now launched a “naira for dollar” scheme to attract more remittances: for every $1 sent by Nigerians living abroad through international money transfer operators, there is a reward of 5 naira (= 1.2 dollar cents, i.e. 1,2%).
BBC Africa Live 09 March 2021. 13:20

Nigeria: James Ibori, ex-governor of Ibori State, is thought to have stolen £50m from oil-rich Ibori State. He had been convicted of money laundering in 2012 in the UK. On the basis of an agreement signed in 2016, the UK will now send back the £4.2m that UK agencies have recovered to be used for infrastructure projects (expressway Lagos-Ibadan, road Abuja-Kano, second Niger Bridge).

South Africa: Xenophobic violence, once again. In Durban, at least 2 men were injured when foreign-owned shops were raided and burnt. The attackers seem to have been young members of the former ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association. Is that the reason why no arrests have been made and the authorities limit themselves to “monitoring the situation and working with the people to find a lasting solution”?
BBC Africa Live 09 March 2021. 9:38

Why is the Gulf of Guinea a piracy hotspot?
BBC 09 March 2021. A BBC Africa daily-audio of 14’ on https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0992ncr

Uganda: The job of journalists is all but easy in Uganda. Subject to state intimidation and violence (with threats, defamation charges, detainment and beatings unpredictable and spies in the newsroom a common phenomenon), journalists are paid little and have few development opportunities. Bribes (because of low pay) and self-censorship (because they only get paid for articles that get published, so you don’t write on sensitive issues that might not get published) are common.
The article is based on interviews conducted nearly three years ago. But “recent attacks on journalists suggest the problems have not been resolved, and may be worsening”.

Ethiopia: The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) has announced that it will not take part in the June parliamentary elections. It accused the government of “narrowing democratic space”, having closed down OLF offices and imprisoned some of its leaders. But an OLF faction headed by deputy chairman Ararso Bikila said it would take part in the elections.
A week ago, the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) of Jawar Mohammed had announced that it pulled out of the June election.
BBC Africa Live 09 March 2021. 14:05

8 March 2021

Commonwealth: Despite its adoption, in 2013, of “a charter full of laudable aspirations about justice, democracy and human rights”, the Commonwealth seems of little relevance presently. Yet, despite its imperial origins, the organisation has also a radical past, e.g. standing up to racism in the 1960s and 70s and campaigning for debt relief in the 1980s and 90s. “If it is to continue to be relevant to Africa in the 21st Century, that radicalism certainly needs to be rediscovered.”

Girls in humanitarian crises: Displacement creates vulnerabilities and “(w)ithout protection, girls are more likely to experience sexual violence, unwanted pregnancies, forced marriage, physical abuse and exploitation, with little access to resources that can promote resilience.” Research conducted in 2015 in 3 refugee camps in Ethiopia and 14 conflict-affected communities in Congo-Kinshasa (interviews with almost 1,300 girls between 10 and 19) found that more than half had experienced some type of violence in the previous year and more than 1 in 4 reported sexual abuse – a lot higher than the global average of 10%. In 2016, the International Rescue Committee launched a programme focussing on “skills such as communication, friendship building, and awareness of gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive health”. The programme had very positive results as far as the girls were concerned. But they were still exposed to the same level of violence indicating that “broader protection, safety and empowerment of refugee girls” are necessary. Gender norms/attitudes in the communities need to change, also the men’s and boys’.

Nigeria: “Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade has had some achievements. These include recoveries of looted funds, blocked treasury leakages through the Treasury Single Account and jailing some corrupt former governors.” But the anti-corruption fight has been politicised and overall, corruption has gotten worse. This is reflected in the Transparency International ranking and also in data from the National Bureau of Statistics. The article presents some results of the author’s research, e.g.: “Males in the Nigeria Police, Judges, Federal Road safety officers (FRSC) and Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO), teachers and lecturers receive most of the bribes between 2016 and 2019. Male officials take more bribes than their female counterparts in the police, vehicle inspection, federal road safety offices because they are most likely to be encountered on the roads than their female colleagues.”

Equatorial Guinea: The series of explosions at a military camp in the country’s largest city Bata has killed at least 20 and injured more than 600. According to the country’s dictator, “stubble burning by farmers and negligence in the storage of explosives” were at fault.
BBC Africa Live 08 March 2021. 10:31

Mauritius: 8 months after a Japanes vessel leaked hundreds of tonnes of fuel oil off the Mauritius coast, a Chines vessel carrying 130 tonnes of diesel and 5 tonnes of dressing oil has run aground on a coral reef about 10 km from the country’s capital Port Louis. The sailors have been rescued. There is no oil leak for the time being.
BBC Africa Live 08 March 2021. 5:05

Child Marriage: According to a Unicef report that has just been released, the number of girls at risk of child marriage is thought to have increased by 10% because of Covid-19 – meaning that 10 million more girls are at risk of becoming child brides (= being married before the age of 18). Three factors are responsible for that: school closures (girls risk never to come back to school when it reopens); the economic impact of Covid-19 on poor households (which are unable to provide for all their mouths and – in societies where it exists – are more prone to go for bride price); disruption of services (“it is vital that sexual and reproductive health services resume so girls can access them, and have the information and assistance they need to be able to make the right choices”).

The 32 page-report, published on International Women's Day, is called "COVID-19: A threat to progress against child marriage" and can be downloaded on https://data.unicef.org/resources/covid-19-a-threat-to-progress-against-child-marriage/