3 March 2021

Tanzania: Haven’t they prayed enough? According to the Catholic Church, over the last 2 months, 60 nuns and 25 priests have died after showing Covid-19 symptoms though it is not possible to know whether the deaths had been caused by coronavirus as they had not been tested. The church’s about 500 health centres across the country are not allowed to test. This is the second time after January that the Catholic Church has indirectly criticised the Tanzanian president.
BBC Africa Live 03 March 2021. 12:14

Ghana: After Brexit, Ghana and the UK had to sign a new trade agreement to reduce tariffs and remain lucrative export markets for each other. This has now been done and products including bananas, tinned tuna and cocoa (for Ghana) and machinery, electronics and chemical products (for the UK) will benefit.
BBC Africa Live 03 March 2021. 9:28

Ethiopia: Why he’s been arrested, remains unknown. But the BBC’s reporter Girmay Gebru for the Tigray region has been released from detention. Local journalist Tamirat Yemane and translators Alula Akalu and Fitsum Berhane working for the Financial Times respectively AFP news agency have also been released.
BBC Africa Live 03 March 2021. 8:27

2 March 2021

Mozambique: Amnesty International has published a report called ‘What I Saw Is Death’: War Crimes in Mozambique’s Forgotten Cape documenting hundreds of civilian deaths as war crimes in Cabo Delgado were committed by armed group, government forces, and private military contractors.
Overall, more than 2,300 have been killed and over 600,000 displaced since the insurgency started in October 2017.
BBC Africa Live 02 March 2021. 8:37
For the report: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/03/mozambique-civilians-killed-as-war-crimes-committed-by-armed-group-government-forces-and-private-military-contractors-new-report/

Ethiopia: The BBC reporter Girmay Gebru has been arrested by soldiers in Tigray’s capital Mekelle along with four others and has been taken to a military camp.

Tunisia: In the ten years since the ouster of Ben Ali, too little has changed, so “the grievances behind recent protests are the same as those that led to the Revolution”. It is not specific people, but the entire system that the protesters are up against.

Covid-19: When health systems are overwhelmed, oxygen and task-shifting (moving certain tasks to less specialised health workers) will save more lives than intensive care. The author has experience from a South African hospital. Before Covid-19, task-shifting has also worked well with HIV-Aids, tuberculosis, Ebola. It needs to be well organised, in advance, if possible.

Traditional medicine: The approximately 2 million traditional healers in sub-Saharan Africa (200,000 in South Africa) are at high risk of infection from bloodborne and airborne pathogens, for example when they practice incision to apply herbs manually. They often lack protective equipment and if they have it, they often lack the knowledge how to use it effectively. The authors’ research has shown that in Mpumalanga (South Africas’s north-east), HIV prevalence amongst traditional healers is 30% compared to 19% in the general population.
To reduce risks, protective equipment should be made more easily accessible and healers who use personal protective equipment consistently could train those who do not.

Ghana’s tro-tros: The mini-buses – filling gaps in the public transport system – use about 30% of the country’s road space and convey over 70% of person-trips in the country. They are also accident-prone, killing 300 and injuring nearly 2,000 in the first quarter of 2019. The author’s research has shown that “fines and prison sentences are not suited for inducing safer driving behaviour among tro-tro drivers”. While the mini-bus owners generally make good money, the drivers and their assistants suffer great occupational uncertainty, extremely harsh working conditions and meagre returns. On top of that, corrupt police officers harass them, using threats of arrest to extort bribes. Under the circumstances, to make ends meet, drivers have no other choice but to increase the number of trips and passengers per trip. They thus “drive for long hours, resort to dangerous overtaking and overloading and drive at dangerously high speeds.” Therefore, “targeting the drivers themselves won’t stop the behaviour. What need addressing are the work-related and system-level constraints they operate under.” It is not at all a question of lack of discipline or recklessness.

Nigeria/mass abduction: 279 girls kidnapped at a boarding school in Jangebe (Zamfara state, north-west of the country) last Friday have been freed (the figure of 317 first given by authorities was inaccurate). Kidnapping for ransom is frequent in Nigeria. It is not known what deal between the government and the kidnappers has secured their release. “It is believed that schools have started to be targeted as such abductions attract a lot of attention – putting more pressure on the authorities to negotiate with the armed criminal group responsible.” Unlike the Chibok abductions, the several recent attacks are thought to be the work of criminals, not islamists.

Morocco: Morocco’s foreign affairs ministry has announced the suspension of contacts with the German embassy because of its stance on Western Sahara – Germany had criticised the US recognition, in December, of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. Also in 2020, Germany did not invite Morocco to an international meeting about Libya.
BBC Africa Live 02 March 2021. 6:44