24 January 2023

Cameroon: While Canada recently claimed it was brokering a peace deal in North-west and South-west regions, Yaoundé “has denied picking any foreign facilitator in its efforts to end armed conflict in the country's English-speaking regions”, where a war with separatists has been raging for more than five years.
BBC Africa Live 24 January 2023. 14:20

Zambia/External debt: Having been the first country to default on its debts during Covid times, China is often blamed by other creditors to stand in the way of a debt relief deal. But the finance minister is optimistic and thinks that the debt relief negotiations could be completed by end March.
BBC Africa Live 24 January 2023. 11:50

Cape Verde: Debt repayments to former colonial power Portugal will as from now be reinvested in renewable energy and other green projects. 13m USD are due to be repaid by 2025. Overall, Cape Verde owes Portugal 650m USD.
BBC Africa Live 24 January 2023. 9:21

Kenya/Death sentence: The authors’ research amongst 671 Kenyans on death row has shown that “the threat of being sentenced to death appears to have little bearing on how people behave”. Very few among the 671 “had, at the time of the offence, considered this potential outcome.” Against the usual deterrence argument, abolishing the death sentence thus couldn’t be expected to lead to a spike in violent crime. Kenya being a de facto abolitionist – the last execution dates back to 1987 – it should abolish the death sentence.

Copper/Zambia/Congo-Kinshasa: Huge amounts of copper is what the green transition requires. A doubling of demand seems possible by 2035. But so far, copper has proven to be a resource curse, at least in Africa. Will the copper boom be converted into real national wealth this time round?

South Africa: Water processing and distribution networks have been one of the foremost victims of the country’s power shortage. The pumping and treatment of water need electricity. The article describes what harm has been done.

Carbon market: COP27 having launched the African Carbon Markets Initiative, more finance should become available for African countries’ to access clean energy and make economic development more sustainable. “Carbon markets are trading platforms which allow individuals, firms and governments to fund projects that reduce emissions (instead of reducing their own emissions).” Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Togo have announced that they are interested. But care must be taken to make sure such projects are really beneficial for world climate.

23 January 2023

The mountain looked down to the field and said: ‘It’s you who stretched well to being ploughed’.
BBC Africa Live 23 January 2023. 4:30 Proverb of the day. An Oromo proverb from Ethiopia sent by Mati Olana.

South Africa: President Ramaphosa has asked state electricity firm Eskom to postpone an 18.65% tariff hike (that had previously been approved and was to be implemented from 1st of April). He said that “this was not the right time to do it with households and businesses struggling because of regular scheduled power cuts.”
BBC Africa Live 23 January 2023. 9:58

South Africa: With power from public utility Eskom expensive and unreliable (with power cuts of 8 to 10 hours a day expected to increase further in winter), reducing dependence on Eskom’s electricity supply and even severing ties entirely have become attractive alternatives. Except for farming communities, where biogas is feasible, for the rest of the country, the dramatic drop in solar energy prices over the last decade and the availability of efficient battery storage options, the solar energy alternative will be the most attractive. However, bridging extended cloudy spells (despite South Africa’s enjoying lots of sunshine) requires additional solar panel and battery capacities, so most will continue to rely on Eskom for periods when solar power is unavailable or insufficient.

Ghana/Dirty cooking fuel: A survey in 33 African countries found that more than 90% of households “use firewood, charcoal, or other heavily polluting fuel as their primary cooking fuel”. That’s bad for the environment and it is bad for people’s – especially women’s and small children’s – health. Use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or other clean cooking fuels should be promoted. The government has tried to do that – with some success in urban areas. But in rural areas, LPG remains too difficult to get hold of: “Consumers have to buy a cylinder (canister). Then they must go to a refill station when it’s empty. This involves making long trips which cost time and money.” The author’s research demonstrated that getting the LPG refill closer will substantially boost consumption.

Nigeria: The article discusses ten factors that will influence the outcomes of the upcoming presidential elections, the first two being ethnicity and region.

South Africa/Big cat breeding: There are over 350 facilities in the country where big cats are bred: tigers, lions, cheetahs, leopards, jaguars, pumas, caracals, servals and hybrids – for example ligers, lion-tiger hybrids. South Africa’s legal industry seems to be feeding international illegal trade – with demand being especially high in China, Vietnam and Thailand. “To match legal measures already taken by the international community, South Africa should make a public commitment to end the commercial captive breeding, keeping, hunting and international trade in tigers and their body parts.” Other big cats should also be included or they’ll serve as substitutes for banned trade in tigers and their body parts.

Africa/People moving freely across borders: Five years after the signing of the AU Free Movement of Persons protocol, progress is slow. Many countries seem afraid of opening their borders, especially richer ones that fear a massive influx of poorer Africans. Yet the protocol leaves enough room to prevent this. There have been some improvements. Progress is most likely on a subregional basis, as shown by Ecowas and EAC.

Kenya/Raila Odinga: Though the country’s Constitutional court has rejected his claims that presidential elections were manipulated, opposition leader Raila Odinga – a five-time loser at presidential elections – still considers William Ruto’s government as illegitimate and does not recognise Ruto as President. He made this clear at a big rally at the Kamukunj Stadium in Nairobi. While some of Raila Odinga’s partners in the Azimio election campaign coalition have in the meantime declared their support for Ruto, “(o)thers have remained steadfast with (Raila Odinga) in this renewed fight for what they call electoral justice”.
BBC Africa Live 23 January 2023. 17:21