15 March 2021

Ghana: The economic impact of Covid-19 has been severe. World commodity prices went down (one exception: gold) – Ghana is heavily dependent on primary commodity exports (>80%). Added to this came disruptions in global supply chains. In September 2020, the country’s credit rating was downgraded to B-. Debt-servicing rose to 55% of government revenue.
Restructuring the economy away from primary commodity export dependence would be important.

South Africa/TB: With 737 per 100,000, there is a far higher number of people with tuberculosis (TB) than previously thought, many of them not diagnosed or treated. Besides problems for infected people themselves, the longer they have untreated TB, the more likely they are to pass the infection to other people, thus continuing the cycle, TB being airborne and highly infectious. Most of those whose TB was never diagnosed are are HIV-negative men – most of whom do not suffer from the classic symptoms (cough, fever, night sweats, weight loss). On top of all that, “Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the number of people getting tested and treated for TB. According to new research, testing rates for TB have dropped by up to 50% in the year since South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown.”

South Africa: After a 49 year-reign, Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu has died at age 72. What was his role and importance? Without executive power, he was an important figurehead. During apartheid, “the politics of Zulu kingship became deeply mired in a civil war over battles for popular support” between ANC and Buthelezi’s Inkatha. Later, “100% Zulu”-Jacob Zuma needed the king for legitimacy and to bring him votes.

Nigeria: “Some of the mental health issues that have been reported due to COVID-19 include anxiety, depression, anger, confusion, insomnia, post-traumatic disorders, boredom, loneliness and adjustment problems.“ An online survey of 353 people by means of a questionnaire suggests that of the three main ethnic groups (Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa), the Yoruba coped best, the Hausa worst. Those who had completed secondary school and the self-employed were also found to have coped well “while the unemployed were more worried and had poor views of themselves.” Married people (especially women) did much better than the unmarried.

Nutrition: With Covid-19 having worsened living conditions and about half of all Africans being food-insecure, affordable local food solutions become all the more important. The article’s author has developed a method of high-temperature short time heat treatments for sorghum and cowpeas that produces sorghum and cowpea porridge suitable for young children that could be part of the solution. “The technology – involving infrared heat and steam – is an investment that smallholder farmers wanting to produce the meal can benefit from economically in the long term.”

Uganda: Protesters marching in Kampala on Monday against arrests and disappearances of opposition supporters before, during and after the January elections were dispersed by tear gas by police. Bobi Wine was arrested.
BBC Africa Live 15 March 2021. 10:28
Bobo Wine was released a few hours later without charge. His home is surrounded by police and soldiers.
BBC Africa Live 15 March 2021. 15:45

He who runs faster, tires faster
BBC Africa Live 15 March 2021. African proverb of the day. A Fur proverb from Darfur in Sudan, sent by Órré Poor in Uganda.

Nigeria: No relent. An unknown number of pupils and teachers have been abducted from a primary school in Rama, Birnin-Gwari district, Kaduna State. The 39 students – mostly female – abducted from a forestry college in the same Kaduna State last week are still in captivity.
BBC Africa Live 15 March 2021. 12:02
and also https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-56404673

14 March 2021

Central African Republic: The second round of parliamentary elections is being held today in 118 of the 140 constituencies. In 69, voting had not been possible in December, in 49 no candidate obtained the majority in the first round. According to the authorities, security has much improved since the first round.
BBC Africa Latest Updates 14 March 2021. 9:21

Kenya/Somalia/sea border: Kenya won’t participate in Monday’s hearing before the International Court of Justice. It accuses the court of being biased. At issue: a triangle of 160,000km2 that is thought to be rich in oil and gas. “Somalia brought the case in 2014, saying the maritime frontier should follow on in the same direction as the land border”, Kenya thinks it should go straight east from the point where the two countries meet on the coast.

South Africa: Private security undermines the state’s authority. “There are over three private security guards for every one public police officer.” “Even the state itself employs private security officers, hiring private guards to patrol the outside of police precincts and to carry out unseemly land evictions.” “Extrajudicial policing” is just one example of the privatization of traditionally state-sponsored services/duties (another is education) in the face of the dearth of public services.