10 January 2023

A young shepherd does not let his sheep sleep
BBC Africa Live 10 January 2023. 4:29. Proverb of the day. An Amharic proverb sent by Amanuel Fikru in Ethiopia.

Algeria: In 2021, during the country’s worst recorded fires, Djamel Ben Ismail, who had volunteered help fight the fires, falsely accused by locals of having himself started fires, had been attacked, tortured and burnt to death. The more than fifty people who were convicted in November 2022 have now received their sentences, “dozens” of them death sentences, 28 between 2 and 10 years, 17 were acquitted. But according to Amnesty International, “the cases were ‘marred by fair trial violations and torture claims’ and (at) least six people ‘were prosecuted due to their political affiliations’. According to Amnesty, “resorting to the death penalty in mass proceedings following unfair trials” reveals the authorities’ “utter disregard for human life”.
BBC Africa Live 10 January 2023. 7:41

Nigeria: According to the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec), the February 2023 “elections could be cancelled if nothing is done to tackle insecurity in the country”. 15 of Nigeria’s 36 states (plus the federal capital territory) are thought by media to be likely to experience violence before, during or after the elections, 5 in the country’s south-east, 4 in the north-west plus Lagos, Kano, Benue, Plateau, Taraba and Borno states.
BBC Africa Live 10 January 2023. 5:53

Rwanda/Congo-Kinshasa: According to Kagame, instability in Eastern Congo is “not Rwanda’s problem” and Rwanda would “no longer offer refuge to people fleeing conflict” there. According to him, it is “the remnants of Hutu extremist forces who tried to wipe out his Tutsi ethnic group in the 1994 genocide” who are the real problem in Congo’s east.
BBC Africa Live 10 January 2023. 4:36

Djibouti: Is this another white elephant project? A preliminary agreement was signed with Hong Kong Aerospace Technology Group for a USD1bn 5-year project for a rocket launch site cum port cum highway in the Obock Region in the country’s north.
BBC Africa Live 10 January 2023. 9:25

Anglican Church/Slavery: Research had shown that a historic “Church of England's investment fund had links to the slave trade”, so the Archbishop of Canterbury had apologised last year. Now the Church of England has announced the setting up of a £100m investment fund to be spent for “communities affected by historic slavery”. But it is an investment fund, not gift money, and it is meant to grow.
BBC Africa Live 10 January 2023. 15:26

Ghana: 40% of US, Japanese and EU used vehicle exports – 14 million per year – go to Africa. Low incomes and weak regulation concerning pollution explain Africa’s high demand for used vehicles only in part as the article’s authors’ research in Ghana has shown. In a setting where work, shopping and home are often far apart and thus require travelling, the factors increasing demand for imported used vehicles are first and foremost the lack of investment in public transport accompanied by lots of investment in construction of roads – and it is well-known that “(r)oads induce more spread-out land use – requiring more travel”. In such a context, bans and penalties on used vehicle imports will not work.

South Africa: Land reform ranked highly on ANC to do-lists when it finally came to power in 1994. In the decade starting 1996, land redistribution programmes were implemented. Then, the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS) was adopted in 2006. By August 2022, the state had acquired 2.9 million ha of farmland previously owned by white farmers under the PLAS – and it was mostly land of good or fair quality. The article focuses on the analysis of the results of the PLAS that the Agricultural Research Council was commissioned to undertake. Despite the acquisition of good land, black farmers have not done well. “(P)oor beneficiary selection, inadequate support and infrastructure, and rampant crime” are amongst the main reasons for this. Access to capital – title deeds are necessary for accessing money from banks, lease agreements are not sufficient – has been a major limiting factor.

Egypt: Year-on-year inflation rose to 21% in December, almost 3% higher than in November. The Egyptian pound had been devalued in October. Restrictions have been imposed on imports and ministries have been instructed to cut non-essential expenditure.
BBC Africa Live 10 January 2023. 13:44

Gambia: Almost 7 years after he was tortured to death by Jammeh’s intelligence agents, a state funeral was held for Ebrima Solo Sandeng, Gambia’s former leading opposition activist who was sometimes called Gambia’s Steve Biko. Some activists say “that the reforms Solo died for have not yet been implemented”.
BBC Africa Live 10 January 2023. 12:11

Uganda: Writer Kakwenza Rukirababashaija and academic Stella Nyanzi and many another activist was charged and/or convicted under a section of a communications law that has now been annulled by the Constitutional Court because it curtailed freedom of speech.

African elephants: Droughts getting more severe because of climate change pose an existential threat for African elephants who “need hundreds of litres of water each day to survive”. Extinction would have dire consequences for other species as well, as elephants fulfil important functions in many an ecosystem. In the old days, “elephants migrated to water during drought. But the introduction of fenced areas in the landscape has disrupted this movement.” Wildlife corridors may offer a solution, but it means getting rid of fences and communities that have been fenced off contact with the pachyderms will have to re-learn to live with them. Ideally, “(c)ommunity management projects, such as in Northern Kgalagadi in Botswana” have “local expertise – drawn from millennia of experience and knowledge – (…) guide wildlife management”.

09 January 2023

Somaliland: In Sallahey area of Marodi-Jeh region, an oil well has been discovered – the country’s first. The discovery seems to have happened by chance: The ministry of energy and mineral resources “said it had launched scientific investigations after a black liquid spilled from a waterwell drilling site in the area, and the results had confirmed the oil discovery.”
BBC Africa Live 09 January 2023. 8:35

Congo-Kinshasa: For the pope’s first ever visit to the city at the end of the month, Kinshasa is starting to clean up “with street vendors and abandoned vehicles removed”. In mid-December, heavy rains had caused floods that killed 120 in the fast-growing Congolese capital of at least 14 million inhabitants.
BBC Africa Live 09 January 2023. 7:26

Zimbabwe: Will the 2023 “election (…) see a repeat of some of the violence that has marred previous polls in Zimbabwe”? A widely-shared video shows “what appears to be a gang interrogating and assaulting people holding an opposition meeting”. The police say they are investigating. Is “the governing party (…) using systematic violence as a tool to win elections”, as the opposition alleges?
BBC Africa Live 09 January 2023. 5:58

Nigeria/Biafra: Imo State and Anambra State are the hardest hit: armed men who say they are fighting for Biafra’s independence “have usurped the powers of government officials and traditional rulers” and the violence they employ against members of the security forces but also civilians is sowing terror in concerned villages and towns – even Imo State capital Owerri. The separatists’ “sit-at-home” order in many places shuts down businesses, schools and government offices every Monday and participation in the voting in upcoming elections will be much disturbed as some of the armed groups have called for a boycott. The Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob), founded in 2012 as a peaceful movement, in 2020 launched the Eastern Security Network (ESN) as its armed wing – but the ESN has since “split into feuding factions” and there is often an amalgam with criminality. Killings, kidnappings and extortion rackets have by now lost Ipob “the support of many Igbos who had backed it when it was formed”. However, not only the “unknown Gunmen fighting for Biafra”, as they call themselves, commit atrocities; security forces and vigilante groups, formed with government backing, have been known to do so as well.

Sudan: The deal between the junta and some parts of the opposition signed on 5th of December 2022 was rejected by many, among them important parts of the pro-democracy movement. The UN’s Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (Unitams) has now announced “a four-day conference to consult on five issues in the political framework agreement” starting today Monday.
BBC Africa Live 09 January 2023. 9:30

Copper/Zambia: Copper and cobalt are much used in wind and solar powered technology and electric vehicle production and Zambia has important reserves of both of them. So the country should benefit from the transition to renewable energies. But in the past, “rises in copper prices have not translated into reducing poverty or inequality”. To do better now, going beyond capturing tax benefits (taxes on foreign mining firms) will be necessary, integrating Zambian companies and workers into mining’s value chain, e.g., by pursuing a local content strategy.

Africa/HIV-Aids: 70% of the 38 million in the world living with HIV live in Africa. For new infections, there are two key groups: young men who have sex with men in Eastern Europe and Russia plus young women in Africa. In Africa, “the means we have to slow the rate of new infections in young women is not well suited to the need.” New approaches and new technologies are needed.

Cameroon: Anglophone regions apply the common law, Francophone regions the civil law – the two differ substantially. “(T)he common law and the English language have been systemically undermined” and at “the Supreme Court, the predominant application of the civil law often left common law litigants without justice.” To remedy this, a Common Law Division was created in or around 2017 within the Supreme Court where cases are heard by Anglophone judges versed in common law. This has improved matters – but challenges remain. The article makes recommendations how to further improve.