14 February 2023

Kenya: Five counties in northern Rift Valley region have been declared “disturbed and dangerous” and issued with a dusk to dawn curfew for a month after “bandits” killed over 100 civilians and 16 police in the past half a year. The army is to join police in fighting the bandits. Factors behind the banditry are said to be “ethnic rivalry instigated by politicians”, “competition for natural resources” and most of all a “lucrative meat trade” with “(t)housands of cattle (…) stolen every month and driven hundreds of kilometres away for slaughter for sale in the local or international market”.
BBC Africa Live 14 February 2023. 6:06
BBC Africa Live 14 February 2023. 14:41

South Africa: Seven of the country’s nine provinces have been flooded following heavy rains and a state of national disaster has been declared. The heavy rains – caused by La Niña – are predicted to continue for some more days.
BBC Africa Live 14 February 2023. 5:04

Equatorial Guinea: The Marburg virus belongs to the same family as the Ebola virus. Equatorial Guinea is experiencing its first outbreak of the Marburg virus. In Kie Ntem province (west of the country), nine people are thought to have died from it. 16 contact cases are under quarantine. “Movement has been restricted around two villages where most cases have been reported” and contact tracing is ongoing. There being no vaccine or treatment, those affected are to drink lots of water while specific symptoms are treated.
BBC Africa Live 14 February 2023. 4:34

Mozambique: In Nairato (Montepuez district, Cabo Delgado province), an army outpost and a gold mine have been attacked in the early morning by “militants”. The number of police and forest rangers killed has not been specified. Staff have been evacuated from the mine.
BBC Africa Live 14 February 2023. 10:02

Senegal: Public transport in 4 million inhabitant-Dakar is insufficient. Informal transport fills the gap, especially in the suburbs and first and foremost amongst them an estimated 5,000 “clandos”, clandestine taxis which operate without a licence. According to the article’s authors, official recognition, i.e., formalisation, would enable them to contribute more to mobility, especially in the city’s periphery.

Tanzania: School rankings have been abolished. Since the 1990s and until last year, the National Examination Council had published such rankings annually, based exclusively on certificate of primary resp. secondary school examination results. The ranking often determined parents’ and students’ school choice. The article’s author agrees with the new policy, as the school rankings such as practised in Tanzania deepen inequalities. “The methodology skips students’ socio-economic status, school environment, availability of adequate teaching and learning resources and facilities, presence of qualified teachers and facilities including laboratories in all examined subjects, and prevailing culture in the surrounding community.” And high-ranking schools tend to select students whom they expect to perform well.

13 February 2023

You don’t count the toes of a nine-toed man before his eyes
BBC Africa Live 13 February 2023. 4:30. Proverb of the day. A Yoruba proverb sent by Olawale Alabi in Abuja, Nigeria.

Malawi: Following intense criticism from CSOs and donors, the Director of Public Prosecutions has said he had dropped charges against Martha Chizuma, head of the country’s anti-corruption agency who had been accused “of criminal defamation over a leaked audio in which she allegedly made remarks suggesting that a number of senior government officials and some judicial officers were hindering the fight against corruption”. But according to her lawyer, the charges have so far not been formally withdrawn.

Kenya: Red-billed quelea are the world's most populous wild birds. One of them eats around 10g of grain per day. But the swarms that have invaded rice field in western Kenya can number 2 million – that makes 20 tonnes a day. The reason of the invasion of the “feathered locusts” may be the drought in the Horn of Africa – “fewer seeds from wild grasses, a primary source of food for queleas”, so “the birds look for an alternative”. Or it may be an adaptation to the overall trend of intensive farming and settlement diminishing space for natural vegetation and at the same time increasing availability of the birds’ food by means of increasing cereal crop production. The quelea breed three times a year with up to nine nestlings. And they are extremely mobile. As traditional methods (sticks, mud throwing, vuvuzelas) fail, the government has resorted to chemical spraying with drones targeting the resting and breeding grounds with the pesticide fenthion. But fenthion is highly toxic to others also and “will have severe consequences on the ecosystem, other plant and animal species, as well as human health”.

Eastern Congo-Kinshasa: “(N)either military pressure nor the proliferation of peace deals will solve the region’s problems”. Nairobi (deployment of a regional force) and Luanda (ceasefire between RDC and Rwanda) processes face implementation problems. The regional force and Monusco have a legitimacy problem. “The DRC’s complex conflicts are deeply rooted in historical, local, national and regional grievances” and that is what needs to be addressed. As neighbouring countries (Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi) are supporting some of the armed groups active in Eastern Congo, measures also need to be taken there.

Somalia: The country “has the longest coastline on the African continent, but its maritime borders are porous and affected by insecurity on land.” There is a lot of smuggling, especially also of arms, feeding conflict in the country and its neighbours (as far as Mozambique). The weakness of navies in the region has had major powers (e.g. the US, the EU, China, Saudi Arabia) step in. The article argues for proactive regional action within the framework of the IGAD Task Force on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (IGAD = Intergovernmental Authority on Development = Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda).

Uganda: In a January report, the country’s NGO Bureau, “which oversees the work of NGOs”, has joined in the chorus calling for criminalisation of LGBTQ organisations. And it wants more resources from the government in order to “identify and weed out those (NGOs) that are involved in activities that are prejudicial to the interests of the people of Uganda”. For a year, the NGO Bureau has investigated 26 NGOs involved in sexual minorities’ rights work and has not yet reached its conclusions for several of them.
BBC Africa Live 13 February 2023. 8:56

South Sudan: Apart from oil (90% of government revenue), “the country also has huge scope for increased production of food and renewable energy like solar, wind and hydro. It has considerable potential to use the Nile for irrigation and electricity production.” There is substantial international interest and GDP growth is expected to increase to 6% this year. But the South Sudanese at large do not seem set to benefit – some of the big projects that are in the pipeline may even worsen living conditions. For the time being over 50% of the population are acutely food insecure, “only 39% (…) ha(ve) enough water to meet household needs” and the country may be the least electrified worldwide with about 1% having access to electricity.

Senegal: If the World Bank forecast comes true, then no other African country will grow faster next year than Senegal at 8.0%. It is mainly due to the discovery of offshore oil and gas fields.
BBC Africa Live 13 February 2023. 12:44

Chad: In a prison where close to 400 of them are held, a trial “in connection with the death of President Idriss Déby” has today started against over 450 supposed members of the Front for Change and Consensus. The charge: terrorism and threatening the security of the state.
BBC Africa Live 13 February 2023. 16:47