20 February 2023

A river that forgets its source dries up
BBC Africa Live 20 February 2023. 17:26. African proverb of the day. A Yoruba proverb from Nigeria sent by Kolawole Ojulari in Pennsylvania, the US.

Anglican disunity: Sexual orientation has prompted twelve Anglican church leaders who say they represent 75% of the world’s Anglicans, amongst them those of Congo-Kinshasa, Egypt, South Sudan and Sudan, to no longer consider the Archbishop of Canterbury as their leader because he allowed blessings for gay partnerships. The Archbishop responded by saying “no structural changes to the Anglican Communion could be made without his consent.”
BBC Africa Live 20 February 2023. 16:09

Malaria/Kenya: Malaria-carrying Anopheles stephensi, native to South Asia, has been discovered in Kenya. The problem is that Anopheles stephensi also thrives in dry, not only in rainy season. So malaria transmission will happen year-round and no longer be seasonal. On top of this, according to this short article, anopheles stephensi is resistant to insecticides used in Africa.
BBC Africa Live 20 February 2023. 6:03

Sudan: Mohamed Daglo, deputy junta chief and commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), reportedly says the October 2021 coup was a mistake and “had become a ‘gateway’ for the remnants of the former regime of Omar al-Bashir”. He hailed the December 2022 deal between the junta and part of civil society.
BBC Africa Live 20 February 2023. 4:37

Nigeria: The country’s National Assembly – with only 21 women among the 469 its members – in March 2022 threw out five gender bills for “providing special seats for women at the National Assembly; allocating 35% of political position appointments to women; creating 111 additional seats in the National Assembly and the state constituent assemblies; and a commitment to women having at least 10% of ministerial appointments.” Beyond parliament, women are also underrepresented “among security personnel, party agents, media, observers and voters during electoral processes”. According to the article’s author, there are three reasons: because voters lack education; because more women than men live in poverty (leadership positions requiring financial and human resources); because “there is more moral scrutiny of women than men”, women politicians having to endure closer scrutiny of their private lives and cases of women corruption being given much more attention than cases involving men. Also, “in many cases, men indicted for corruption have escaped opprobrium and returned triumphantly to politics” while women politicians, “once indicted for corruption, withdraw in shame and mostly never return to politics.”

Microcredits: In the name of financial inclusion, profit-seeking private capital under the cover of “microcredits” allegedly continues colonial-style extractivism. It can work – the article mentions Safaricom’s M-Pesa innovation in Kenya and the Brazilian state-led fintech approach through community bank Mumbuca as examples – but “market-led financial inclusion efforts” need “carefully scrutinising” to avoid exploitation of the poor.

Agriculture: Agribusiness can be defined as “the interrelated and interdependent industries in agriculture that supply, process, distribute, and support the products of agriculture”. With lots of Africans still employed in agriculture, with agriculture to this day dominated by smallholding, with labour and land productivity low, the article’s author believes that rather than manufacturing, it is “agribusiness (which) offers African countries the most promising path for development and a shift towards higher value-added activities” because there is “huge potential for adding value” in agriculture. Produce and export tea bags instead of tea leaves is what she’s saying.

Tanzania: In the face of the constitution and other laws allowing political rallies, the 2016 ban on them (which has just been lifted by presidential statement) shows the country’s president is more powerful than the constitution. Beyond “unchecked presidential powers”, what is driving demand for constitutional reform are “unfree and unfair elections; (…) political impunity; and the skewed political arrangement between Tanzania and Zanzibar”. But the ruling party is reluctant to a real change of the present constitution because it “facilitates one-party dominance”.

Burkina Faso/France: A flag lowering ceremony in a barrack attended by Burkina’s chief of general staff and the head of the French Sabre force signalled the end of the French military operation in the country. In January, Ouagadougou had given Paris a month to withdraw its 400 special forces.
BBC Africa Live 20 February 2023. 10:05

19 February 2023

Ghana: The country is desperately short of cash and in the middle of a cost-of-living and economic crisis, but that doesn’t stop its president to push ahead with plans for a 5,000-seat, multi-million dollar National Cathedral. Though donations are to finance most of it, the government has already spent some 58 million USD on the project. Amidst allegations of misappropriation of funds and dispute over the fee paid to British-Ghanaian star architect David Adjaye, parliament in December refused to approve another 6.3m USD for the project. Critics say that “tax-payers’ money should not be used fund a personal pledge to God” and that it is a “vanity project” like Houphouët-Boigny’s Basilica in Yamoussoukro in neighbouring Côte d’Ivoire. As to project advocates’ comparison with European cathedrals, many centuries have passed since those were constructed. The funds that parliament has refused need to be found elsewhere, making it unlikely Akufo-Addo will be able to inaugurate the cathedral before he’ll leave office next year.