30 April 2021

Nigeria: Germany has announced that it would return some Benin bronzes looted during colonial times by 2022.
BBC Africa Live 30 April 2021. 5:42

Kenya: The Interior Minister now says the Dadaab and Kauma refugee camps which host more than 400,000 refugees from Somalia, South Sudan and the Congo-Kinshasa are to be closed by end June 2022. The government together with UNHCR would “fast track the process set to begin on 5 May 2022. The latest roadmap includes voluntary repatriation or issuing of free work or residence permits for refugees from the East African Community”.
BBC Africa Live 30 April 2021. 4:35

South Africa: Taken to hospital a week ago with an unspecified illness, the death of 65-year-old Zulu queen Mantfombi Dlamini has caught everybody by surprise. She had been appointed interim regent of the around 11 million Zulus after the death of her husband only last month. Her 47-year-old son, Prince Misuzulu, is the favourite to become king.

Madagascar: In the south, hundreds of thousands are facing famine, with severely malnourished children and starving families abounding. According to the World Food Programme of the UN, food production is expected to come to less than 40% of the five year average. “A drought (…), made worse by high levels of soil erosion, deforestation and unprecedented sandstorms, has wasted the land available for crop and pasture.”
BBC Africa Live 30 April 2021. 8:15

Somalia: Once almost cereal independent, production of essential cereals maize and sorghum has fallen from 91 kg per capita in 1972 to 30 kg in 2012 due to stagnating production while population is growing. For the past 30 years, Somalia has been in a near-constant state of food insecurity and it has suffered two famines (1992 and 2011). Food aid and imports are disincentives for farmers to increase production beyond their proper consumption needs. Conflict (there are 2.6 IDP in Somalia), corruption and bad governance also reduce production. The article, by three experts in Somalian agriculture, looks more closely at the reasons and suggests solutions.

Chad: With Idriss Déby Itno dead, “it seems likely that force will again be used to capture and retain political power, destabilising the country. The greatest weakness that confronts the new military junta is that they have no real claim to political legitimacy other than force.” The article’s author identifies several characteristics of Idriss Déby Itno’s 30-year-long rule that do not bode well for the future: continued use of violence, multiparty democracy by name only, non-respect for the constitution, political manipulation, lack of popular legitimacy.

Education & Inequality: Education has always been selective. After discussing the influence of several factors (scholarship availability, cheaper private education, better state school system, more online learning) on inequality, the author concludes: “Perhaps the most substantive movement to reduce inequalities would not be to accelerate access to a broken system but to reform the system itself.” This would have to go beyond the present system based on literacy and numeracy – though the article remains totally vague as to what that means.

Zimbabwe: According to the 2019 National Renewable Energy Policy, solar, hydro, biomass, wind and geothermal energy is to provide 16.5% of the country’s total energy generation by 2025 and 26.5% by 2030. But unless the socio-economic and political factors which keep conventional energy out of reach of the poor change, the same will happen with renewable energy. True, but so what? A revolution?

South Africa: The article’s author looked into the correlation between grit (perseverance and passion for long-term goals) and reading achievement among 2,300 pupils in poorly resourced South African schools and found “that grit was the strongest predictor of reading achievement, regardless of the influence of other factors at home and school”, in fact, grit was the strongest predictor of overall achievement in school. Focusing on social and emotional skills is thus important. But of course, grit is not all: “Children who already had the benefit of attending more functional schools achieved more by being “gritty” than learners in less functional schools.”

Cameroon: Separatists have killed 4 soldiers in a revenge attack on a military post in the West region. According to UN estimates, at least 3,500 people have been killed in the secessionist conflict in North-West and South-West since 2016.
BBC Africa Live 30 April 2021. 17:15

29 April 2021

Malawi: The death penalty has been outlawed by the Supreme Court. There had been no executions since 1975. Malawi is the 22nd sub-Saharan country to have abolished the death penalty.
BBC Africa Live 29 April 2021. 7:10

South Africa: Cyril Ramaphosa, giving testimony before a judicial inquiry probing corruption during Jacob Zuma’s presidency, says that the ANC “could and should have done more to prevent the abuse of power and the misappropriation of resources that defined the era of state capture”, that “the ANC had not lived up to the expectations of the South African people in enforcing accountability”, that “corruption had undermined the rule of law”.
BBC Africa Live 29 April 2021. 4:31

Mozambique: The summit on Mozambique that was to be held today Thursday by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has been postponed because the presidents of South Africa (testifying in the state capture inquiry) and Botswana (self-isolating because of Covid) could not attend. The summit, it is hoped, will come up with a solution for the ongoing crisis in Mozambique’s very north/Cabo Delgado which has come under persistent terrorist attacks that the country’s government is unable to handle.
BBC Africa Live 29 April 2021. 5:05

Egypt: Giulio Regeni was tortured and murdered in Cairo in 2016 while doing research on trade unions. A trial against four members of the Egyptian security forces suspected of murdering him has now started in Rome. “The Egyptian authorities cleared all those implicated in his killing but Italian prosecutors say they’ve gathered unequivocal proof that the four officers murdered the student.”
BBC Africa Live 29 April 2021. 9:57

Kenya/Terrorism: Mandera is the northern-most of the three Kenyan counties bordering Somalia. Al-Shabaab control half of the county’s major roads and there have been more than 10 terrorist attacks this year alone. “Security sources indicate that while the attackers often come from Somalia, those planning the assaults are locals living in Mandera.” With non-local civilians often being the target of attacks, Nairobi has withdrawn non-local teachers from the county. Extrajudicial killings and corruption undermine police-community trust. Illicit traders paying Al-Shabaab for their protection provide considerable financial means for the terrorists. Alongside better intelligence, “building effective partnerships between the locals and security officials” will be a sine qua non of success against terrorism. Restoring a functioning education system will be part of this. “Capacity building for civil society groups, community structures, local leaders and the media could also help prevent violent extremism in Mandera. Resources, both human and material, and training for all those involved in fighting al-Shabaab – such as elders and community leaders – are needed.”

South Sudan: Despite all the peace agreements, there has been little progress towards peace and stability. Levels of violence have been called “staggering” by the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan. Land disputes are a major cause. “Establishing transitional justice mechanisms as required by the peace agreement is the only hope to prevent further conflict.”

Lake Chad Basin: Boko Haram’s activities and also counter-terrorist measures like banning the trade of some goods in certain areas or blocking specific transport routes have harmed women’s livelihoods. Instead of spending billions of dollars on filling up Lake Chad from afar, state resources should be spent to “make communities safer, rebuild and secure markets, fix trade routes, and underwrite debt and provide loans”. This would also be in line with preventing violent extremism which we know won’t work unless it is community-oriented.

Uganda/Mozambique/Kongo-Kinshasa: Total has, for the time being, withdrawn from its Cabo Delgado-gas megaproject because of the insecurity created by Mozambique’s Al-Shabaab (termed ISIS-Mozambique by the US). It has on 11 April announced the launch of Tilenga project under Uganda’s Lake Albert, not far from the border with Congo-Kinshasa, where the Allied Democratic Forces/ADF (termed ISIS-DRC by the US) terrorise the local population. Having avoided Al-Shabaab attacks, does Total expose itself to attacks from ADF in Uganda? It is not clear, whether Total was specifically targeted in Cabo Delgado – the question being debated being whether the insurgency focuses on local grievances or is, “as a supposed ISIS affiliate, also motivated to attack more global targets, such as Total.” The same holds true for ADF. Seems that nothing is known about either terrorist group in that respect.

Algeria: Karim Tabbou, one of the most prominent figures of the Hirak, has been arrested yesterday/Wednesday evening. Parliamentary elections are a few weeks away – as other opposition figures, Tabbou had said he would boycott them.
BBC Africa Live 29 April 2021. 12:08

Chad: Fighting has been going on between the army and the Fact rebels in Kanem region, close to the Niger border and also close to where Idriss Déby Itno was killed ten days ago. The military council had said on Sunday that there would be no negotiating with the rebels.
BBC Africa Live 29 April 2021. 16:31