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/

7 March 2021

Egypt-Sudan-Ethiopia: During a visit of Egyptian President as-Sisi in Sudan where separately met military and civilian leaders, Khartoum and Kairo have tried to put pressure on Addis Ababa concerning the controversial Great Renaissance dam on the upper Blue Nile, calling “for a new round of dialogue with an expanded mediation team to include officials from the African Union, the United States, the EU and the UN.” Ethiopia is OK for continuing talks but wants to continue with the African Union only as mediator. Sudan has recently taken a tougher anti-Ethiopian stance concerning the dam, a posture to be seen before the background of the recently rekindled el-Fashaga border conflict.
BBC Africa Latest Updates 07 March 2021. 9:01

Senegal: After the protests sparked by the arrest of Ousmane Sonko, the country’s leading opposition politician, after 5 dead and many blessed, the country’s mediator, Alioune Badara Cissé, has “urged the authorities to stop threats and intimidation against the youth”. And he called on protesters to “act peacefully and stop looting”.