Nina von Schweinitz

KW 22: Opposition in Burundi accuses government of electoral fraud, Lesotho’s prime minister resigns, Africa as an international drug hub

– NEWS –
Medical drones in Malawi: Wingcopter, the developer of autonomous delivery drones for humanitarian and commercial applications, has been named one of nine winners of the #SmartDevelopmentHack. Through this global hackathon, the German economics ministry solicited innovative digital solutions to tackle the challenges caused by the coronavirus outbreak in low- and middle-income countries. Wingcopter, alongside its partners Unicef and the African Drone and Data Academy, came up with the concept to use Wingcopter drones to improve health supply chains during the pandemic and to open up new long-term opportunities for youth in Africa. The 18-month project will involve setting up a locally operated delivery drone network in Malawi, giving on-demand access to medical supplies such as test kits or vaccines.
Opposition in Burundi accuses government of electoral fraud: Burundian police detained more than 200 opposition electoral observers during this week’s election, the spokesman for the main opposition National Freedom Council (CNL) told “Reuters” on Friday, alleging voting irregularities. An official at the justice ministry, who asked not to be identified as he was not authorized to talk to the media, said the detainees were currently on trial. There were few international election monitors on Wednesday after the government said they would have to spend 14 days in quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The electoral commission said the allegations of fraud had to be addressed by the courts and not by them. The government did not respond to requests for comment about the accusations.
Dozens of dead elephants in Botswana: Botswana is investigating the mysterious deaths of dozens of elephants in the country’s treasured Okavango Delta. Twelve carcasses have been discovered in the past week, all with their valuable tusks still present, suggesting that poachers are not the culprits. Another 44 dead elephants were found in March, the environment ministry said. Botswana, in the south of Africa, is home to the world’s largest elephant population. A search is underway for more dead. Samples from the carcasses have been taken for analysis, and the public has been cautioned against eating meat from any dead elephants they find.
Remains of top Rwanda genocide suspect found: The remains of Augustin Bizimana, one of the most wanted suspects of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, have been found, a UN war crimes prosecutor said. They were discovered in a grave in Congo-Brazzaville. DNA tests confirmed his identity and that he had been dead for 20 years. He was defense minister when about 800,000 people were killed in 100 days. Bizimana was indicted in 1998 by a UN tribunal on 13 charges, including genocide, murder, rape and torture. The announcement of his death follows the arrest in Paris last weekend of Felicien Kabuga, who is accused of being the major financier of the killers during the genocide.
Lesotho’s prime minister resigns: Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has resigned after months of pressure over his alleged involvement in the murder of his estranged wife in 2017. In a televised address Tuesday morning, Thabane said the time for him to retire “from the great theater of action, take leave from public office” had come. The official resignation comes after the 80-year-old Thabane repeatedly said that he would retire. Thabane’s former wife, Lipolelo, was shot by gunmen shortly before his inauguration as Lesotho’s prime minister. The couple were separated and had been pursuing a divorce before her death. His current wife, Maesaiah Thabane, has been charged in the murder and has been granted bail. The country’s police also sought to charge the prime minister with Thabane’s murder, but his lawyers argue he should be granted immunity against prosecution.
Ghana plans new state airline despite coronavirus crisis
Currency CFA to be abolished in former African colonies
Terrorist attack on Niger forces
A lot of praise for African coronavirus politics – but also a lot of doubts about official figures
Ethiopian Airlines’ standstill leads to forced isolation of many countries: Ethiopian Airlines has been severely affected by the coronavirus crisis, just like all airlines worldwide. The CEO of the largest airline in Africa, Tewolde Gebremariam, warned a few weeks ago: “In the four months to the end of April, we recorded a loss in earnings to the equivalent of more than 500 million euros. Ethiopian Airlines is in a serious operational, financial and commercial crisis.” Things went surprisingly well for the airline before the crisis. It was the only African airline to make profits. Most of its 125 aircraft are now at a standstill. In total, African airlines could lose 6 billion dollars in passenger revenue, says Katherine Kaczynska of the International Air Transport Association IATA. There is a risk of massive job cuts that could cost up to 3.1 million people their jobs. Although there are no jobs to be cut at Ethiopian Airlines, the consequences of the standstill can still be felt. Smaller African countries such as Burkina Faso or Equatorial Guinea in particular are in forced isolation. In a lot of places, Ethiopian Airlines is the only African airline that flies to these countries.
African intellectuals call for Felix Klein’s resignation: A number of African intellectuals, including the Senegalese social scientist Felwine Sarr and the sociologist Jean Bernard Ouedraogo from Burkina Faso, have sent an open letter with a petition to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, condemning anti-Semitism accusations against historian and philosopher Achille Mbembe. The letter calls for the resignation of the German government’s anti-Semitism commissioner Felix Klein, accusing him of turning the fight against anti-Semitism into an instrument to promote racism and social division and deeply damaged Germany’s image in Africa. In April, Klein said Mbembe should be uninvited from the Ruhrtriennale, where Mbembe was supposed to hold a speech. Klein accused Mbembe of using anti-Semitic arguments in his theories and of working with the controversial BDS movement, which calls for a boycott of Israeli artists and scientists. In one of his books, Mbembe compares Israel’s settlement policy with South Africa’s apartheid regime. The festival was canceled anyway because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the debate about Mbembe had already begun. Apart from the latest letter, many international scientists have shown solidarity with Mbembe and criticized the German government. The open letter states that “the fundamental right to criticism, freedom of thought and expression, academic and artistic freedom and freedom of conscience” is at risk.
Africa as an international drug hub: Not only are the legal supply chains partially interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the supply of drugs such as cocaine is also disrupted. Cocaine usually arrives at Africa’s western borders, which are considered poorly guarded, by ship or plane. Corrupt customs authorities, the lack of transparency in the banks and poor money laundering laws make it easy for the drug cartels to sell their goods or exchange money. Guinea-Bissau is the largest place for cocaine trade in Africa. Cocaine travels from West Africa to Europe via the Sahara. Drugs are not the only thing that is smuggled. Human traffickers and arms dealers also use this route. Refugees are often used by the Nigerian mafia to transport illegal goods. The Nigerian mafia is now working in an international network with, amongst others, South American drug dealers. Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has already made the fight against drug trafficking a priority. Drug trade is now increasingly moving to East Africa in countries like Uganda. Provisions have already been made there because of the pandemic. “We saw the closure of the airport and the curfew approaching, and we stocked up a lot beforehand,” says an anonymous drug dealer from Kampala.
More than 100,000 people in Africa have been infected with the coronavirus.
“It is now taking its toll that in the 1990s, many countries were given strict austerity measures by the International Monetary Fund due to their over-indebtedness and did not expand their weak health care systems.”
Economist Robert Kappel talks about the poor health care in many African countries.
Food packages for Kenyan runners in the pandemic: Kenyan runners are suffering as a result of major sporting events being canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sports Minister Amina Mohamed therefore wants to support the athletes with food packages. Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge, who is considered the fastest man in the world, supports this initiative with his foundation. “Up to eighty percent of them make their income from races in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world,” says Kipchoge. “You need races to get food on the table, and that has become difficult since the entire season has been canceled.”

KW 20: More infectious diseases occur in the pandemic, WHO wants to test natural medicine, Africa’s forgotten World War II veterans

– NEWS –
More infectious diseases occur in the pandemic: Since the resources of African health care systems are currently focused on coronavirus containment, other infectious diseases are being neglected – and are spreading again. In recent weeks, measles vaccination campaigns have been suspended. Malaria threatens locals and new cases of Ebola and Polio have once again been reported. A celebration had already been planned to mark the end of polio, but it will probably be canceled if the disease spreads again. In many African countries, advances in health care over the past decades are in danger of being lost again.
WHO wants to test natural medicine: The World Health Organization (WHO) and the African Union (AU) want to clinically test natural medicine. While the institutions warn of alleged herbal miracle drugs, they also demand that medical clinical standards be met in Africa as well as in other regions of the world. A company in Madagascar recently developed a potion that it advertised as a remedy for the coronavirus because it was supposed to strengthen the immune system. Guinea-Bissau ordered large quantities of the herbal cocktail, and other countries made inquiries as well. Now the AU and WHO want to scientifically approach the topic so that citizens receive quality information about medicinal substances.
Tourists are staying away – conservationists fear negative consequences for wild animals: There are hardly any tourists in Africa’s wildlife parks due to the coronavirus pandemic – revenue is plummeting. Not only are jobs threatened by the lack of travelers, rangers in the wildlife parks fear that they are running out of the means to protect the animals in the parks from poachers. Private protected areas are now hoping for donations to cushion at least part of their financial losses and ward off poachers who are still trying to shoot animals such as elephants to sell the tusks on the black market.
South Africa starts trial using TB vaccine against coronavirus: Health care workers are at the center of a coronavirus vaccine trial in South Africa. The process is testing the efficacy of BCG – Bacille Calmette-Guerin, a tuberculosis vaccine, against COVID-19. 250 participants have so far been given the injection, and another 250 given a placebo. Prof Andreas Diacon of Task, told the AFP news agency that children immunized with BCG tended to suffer less from respiratory illness like asthma. The WHO will have to evaluate the outcome of such trials for more work to continue on their efficacy.
Easing coronavirus restrictions: In Nigeria, the initial restrictions to fight the virus will be removed in six weeks. The first easing has already taken place in the metropolises: most shops have reopened. People have to wear face masks and comply with social distancing rules in public spaces. A relaxation of containment measures is also expected to take place in Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Namibia. South Africa and Ghana have already decided to gradually open up again.
Former VW plant in South Africa converted into coronavirus clinic: The Eastern Cape government has received a major boost in its effort to fight the pandemic after the German government and Volkswagen pledged R107 million for the construction of a field hospital at an unused VW plant in Port Elizabeth. The facility will be made possible after Volkswagen agreed to convert its Korsten plant into a temporary field hospital. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development donated €5.2 million, while VW pledged R28 million.
The end of the Chinese honeymoon
The fear of starvation is bigger
South Africa: New airline to emerge
Locust plague threatens an entire region
Africa’s forgotten World War II veterans: More than a million African soldiers served in colonial armies in World War II. Some served in Africa or Europe; others fought on battlegrounds in the Middle East or as far afield as India, Myanmar and the Pacific Islands. Many veterans experienced prejudice during the war and little gratitude or compensation for their services afterwards. Some progress has been made – at least symbolically. On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Allied landing in Provence in southern France, President Emmanuel Macron expressed gratitude for the contribution of African soldiers in defeating the German forces occupying France.
Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia: Officially, 750,000 refugees live in Ethiopia – but the undisclosed number is estimated to be much higher. A significant part of them come from neighboring Eritrea, which has been categorized as an authoritarian military dictatorship since Ethiopia gained independence in 1993. Since then there have been no elections in the country, and the country’s military service, which is mandatory for men and women – has been compared to forced labor by Amnesty International. A refugee camp on the border of Ethiopia and Eritrea could soon be closed. For many, fleeing means living on the verge of illegality – because their papers are often lost or missing.
Conflicts between colonialism and post-colonialism: Historians and anthropologists are divided over the question of what life was like during colonialism. While the image of absolute power over colonialized people has long been rejected, post-colonial authors believe that colonialism is comparable to the Holocaust. They see deep lines of conflict with regard to racism, devaluation and discrimination that continue to this day. There is also controversy over the path to independence – post-colonialists emphasize the violence and struggle of many people on the way to their own state, while other researchers point out that the system transition was much smoother.
Around 100,000 people in Kenya have lost their homes due to a severe flood.
“In Ethiopia, exports to Europe have decreased by a third. Factories are closing, 1.5 million jobs are already lost. Many millions of people are slipping into poverty.”
German Development Minister Gerd Müller has warned of the consequences of the coronavirus crisis.
3D printer joins South Africa virus fight: There is a global scarcity of protective equipment and few countries are sufficiently prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic. In South Africa, the University of Pretoria uses its 3D printer to make face shields.

KW 18: South Africa to begin easing of lockdown, Rumors about possible coup in Sudan, China’s mask diplomacy

– NEWS –
South Africa to begin easing of lockdown: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday the government will allow a partial reopening of the economy on May 1, with travel restrictions eased and some industries allowed to operate under a five-level risk system. South Africa has spent nearly a month under restrictions requiring most of the population of about 58 million to stay at home apart from essential trips, leaving many struggling without wages and short of supplies.
German Development Ministry wants to support African countries: Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, daily life and production have come to a standstill in many developing countries. Germany’s Development Minister Gerd Müller wants to support them with up to 4 billion euros. He pointed out that most of these countries have no support programs. “500 million children, who usually get their daily supply of food at school, are currently no longer getting food,” said Müller. Among other things, his plan provides for a reallocation of funds. In Tunisia, the money that is normally used to train installers will be diverted to the emergency power supply of five hospitals during the coronavirus crisis. Some opposition politicians criticized this plan and warned that new programs should not be financed by cutting aid in other areas.
Rumors about possible coup in Sudan: A dispute over measures to counter the coronavirus in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, has led to an open confrontation between the country’s military and political leaders. Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok announced on Thursday that he had fired the governor of Khartoum, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Abdoun Hamad, for defying a government order to cancel Friday prayers in Khartoum and its sister city across the Nile, Omdurman. Senior Sudanese civilian officials contacted Western officials and local journalists to warn that they feared the military would use the coronavirus lockdown to seize power while the outside world was distracted by the public health crisis. A Western official based in Sudan did describe Khartoum as being awash with rumors of a coup to be carried out under the cover of the coronavirus but said there were no concrete signs of any upheaval.
Raids on villages in Nigeria: Gunmen with AK 47 guns have killed 47 people in attacks on villages in the northwestern Nigerian state of Katsina. President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement, said he would not tolerate large scale killing of innocent people by criminal gangs. Hundreds of people have been killed in the last year by criminal gangs carrying out robberies and kidnappings in northwest Nigeria.
New parliament in Mali – opposition leader still missing: Mali has a new parliament. According to the first election results, the governing RPM (Collection for Mali) party won around one third of the seats in parliament. The turnout was very low. On top of that, opposition leader Soumaila Cissé is still missing. He was kidnapped one month ago by Islamist terrorists. The kidnappers are said to include Amadou Koufa, a member of the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM).
Twelve dead in boat accident in Congo-Kinshasa
Africa’s airlines are fighting for survival
EU Commissioner campaigns for debt relief for Africa
WHO warns of doubling of malaria deaths in Africa due to coronavirus crisis
Africa’s cultural scene and the coronavirus: Not just the African economy is affected by the coronavirus – Africa’s cultural life is also suffering in the pandemic. Music festivals in particular are an important source of income for many musicians, organizers, bookers and other people who work in the industry. Rapper Dama do Bling from Mozambique complains that the government did very little for artists even before the pandemic. During the crisis, she feels completely abandoned. German-Nigerian musician Adé Bantu wanted to finish his new album in Germany. However, he cannot travel there at the moment. Music streaming, which is an essential source of income for many Western artists, often brings little benefits to African musicians. “Only a few superstars earn from streaming,” said Bantu.
China’s mask diplomacy: The Chinese government is currently supporting many African countries with medical personnel and equipment such as masks, respirators and protective suits. Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and his foundation are donating large sums to countries like Rwanda and Cameroon. China is using the aid to pursue a more active public diplomacy, says Stephen Chan, professor of politics and international relations at the London School of Oriental and African Studies. The support is a continuation of China’s longstanding partnership with many African countries and also an attempt to alleviate criticism of the racist attacks that African people have suffered in China. The incidents sparked outrage in many places.
The consequences of corona prohibition in South Africa: A strict alcohol ban was introduced in South Africa in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. South African police minister Bheki Cele has now said the ban is “the first corona measure that I would maintain even after the curfew ended.” South Africa is among the ten nations with the largest alcohol consumption. Over the course of the temporary prohibition, the black market prices for beer and other alcoholic beverages rose three-fold in some cases. Some citizens are starting to make beer themselves. South African winegrowers are particularly affected by the ban. They employ around 40,000 farm workers, who in turn feed around 160,000 people. The wineries are no longer even allowed to bring their product to ports for export. The government justified this with concern that the drivers of the deliveries could be robbed.
Lack of medical data in Africa: Many African countries have inadequate medical infrastructure to treat people with the coronavirus. According to the WHO, there are fewer than 5000 beds in intensive care units in 43 African countries. It is difficult to determine whether these figures are actually correct. A lot of data is out of date. Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHT) warn: “The data on the number of people infected with the coronavirus and treatment capacities in Africa is very incomplete”. The reason for this is the insufficient equipment and understaffing of the health sector in sub-Saharan Africa. To circumvent the lack of data so that governments can make the right decisions, the researchers recommend increasing the use of mathematical models, even if these in turn pose new problems. Existing forecasts are mostly based on data from China and Europe.
There are 150 intensive care beds in Ethiopia to accommodate 105 million people.
“Many countries are part of globalized value chains, some of which have now been interrupted. Others have a strong tourism sector. Tourists are gone now, revenue is dropping.”
Robert Dölger, the representative for sub-Saharan Africa and the Sahel at Germany’s Federal Foreign Office, has commented on the economic consequences of the pandemic for African countries.
Termite fertilizer in Tanzania: In western Tanzania, scientists are researching how termites can provide better soil and more succulent grass, which could also benefit the native antelope. The termites live in their hills in a symbiosis with the Termitomyces mushroom, which grows exclusively in western Tanzania. The insects bring dead wood and other plant material to their hills, where it is decomposed by the fungi. As a result, the nitrogen and phosphorus content of the soil increases significantly.

KW 16: Africa CDC to distribute one million coronavirus tests, New payment service in South Africa, 40 years of Zimbabwe’s independence

– NEWS –
Africa CDC to distribute one million coronavirus tests: More than one million coronavirus tests will be rolled out starting next week in Africa to address the big gap in assessing the true number of cases on the continent. Around 15 million tests will be required in Africa over the next three months, the head of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, said Thursday. One projection estimates more than 10 million severe cases of the virus in the next six months. The initiative to accelerate testing comes as the African continent braces for its turn in the pandemic.
Lesotho’s PM sends army into streets: Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has deployed the army on the streets to restore order. Thabane accused unnamed law enforcement elements of seeking to undermine democracy. The decision comes a day after the constitutional court ruled against his decision to suspend parliament. Thabane is accused of murdering his estranged wife Lipolelo Thabane and has so far resisted pressure to resign. He was involved in bitter divorce proceedings with Lipolelo when she was shot dead three years ago. Thabane was charged in connection with the killing in February and has since been released on bail. The case has shocked many in Lesotho.
New payment service in South Africa: An app designed by British startup Electroneum uses the cryptocurrency ETN to enable people in low-income countries to make small purchases without needing a bank account. Thanks to the technology, buyers and sellers can make cashless payments using smartphones and QR codes. In South Africa, the company offers a special incentive to promote the use of the app. After activating a personal account, small amounts are paid out to the customer for one week. At the end of the week, the account must be reactivated so the customer can continue to receive the payments. Up to three US dollars are paid each month in South Africa and other countries.
More police violence in Nigeria: Nigerian security forces killed 18 people in two weeks while enforcing lockdowns imposed to halt the spread of the coronavirus, the National Human Rights Commission said. It said the killings were carried out by the Nigerian Correctional Service, the police force and army. The commission said it had received 105 complaints of alleged human rights violations in the first two weeks of the lockdown. Nigerian police and the military have repeatedly been accused by rights advocates of using excessive force but have consistently denied any wrongdoing.
Mali holds second-round elections: In the first round of legislative elections held in March, local observers in the capital Bamako put voter turnout at 7.5%. And with 171 confirmed coronavirus cases and 13 deaths in Mali, it’s feared even more that the 7.8 million eligible voters will stay away from the second round. As for security matters, the abduction of six candidates for parliamentary seats ahead of the first round is still at the forefront of many voters’ minds. Most prominent among those abducted is opposition leader Soumaila Cisse, who lost the presidential race to the current officeholder in 2018. Attempts to liberate Cisse have so far been unsuccessful.
German government plans to finance training center in Mali: Germany wants to finance a new training center in Sévaré near Mopti in central Mali to improve the training of Malian Armed Forces (EUTM). So far, 14,000 Malian soldiers have been trained as part of the EUTM program. However, the German government still sees a clear need to catch up on the efficiency of the program. Confidential government papers have criticized that the armed forces are “unable to meet expectations due to the internal fabric, lack of structural reforms, and inadequate capabilities – especially equipment.”
President’s chief of staff: Powerful Nigerian politician dies of coronavirus
State crisis in the Congo: Campaign against the corruption virus
Africa could become the next coronavirus epicenter
Corona aid in Africa: #FollowCOVID19Money
Poor people particularly affected by corona measures: Although many African countries reacted quickly and effectively to the pandemic, measures such as curfews and the way in which they are implemented often hit the poorest people in Africa. A famine is looming in parts of Kenya due to the imposition of curfews. Jakkie Cilliers of the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria said that for many people, a lockdown meant choosing between illness and starvation. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also pointed to the special circumstances in Africa: “We cannot impose exit restrictions like developed countries because many citizens don’t even have a home.” African police forces are increasingly taking drastic and often violent measures to enforce curfews. Cilliers assumes that Africa will “continue to experience excesses and great brutality”.
40 years of Zimbabwe’s independence: Tens of thousands of people traditionally flock to independence day festivities around the country on April 18th to honor the struggle that freed Zimbabwe from colonial rule in 1980. This year, because of the ongoing global pandemic, Zimbabwe has canceled what would have been its 40th celebration. The coronavirus crisis aside, a growing number of Zimbabweans don’t believe they have that much to celebrate on the day. Under the early rule of Prime Minister Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe build an excellent education and health care system that were the envy of the continent. But over the decades, this has drastically changed. Zimbabwe’s economy is now run down, and its citizens are struggling to make ends meet, despite the country possessing abundant natural resources including gold, diamonds and iron ore.
Two decades of Kagame ruling in Rwanda: Paul Kagame has ruled Rwanda as president for 20 years. Kagame is popular with many of the country’s citizens despite his authoritarian style. During his tenure, the country achieved relative prosperity – an unlikely success story after the civil war and genocide in 1994. The dissident David Himbara, who was Kagame’s “private secretary” a few years ago, describes the president as aggressive, uncontrolled and violent. Human rights organization Human Rights Watch has accused the dictator of murder, political arrests and illegal arrests. But author Jean-Paul Kimonyo, who is currently advising Kagame, describes him as “a figure of light for Rwanda, Africa and the whole world.” During his reign, Kagame learned to take on different roles, says Kimonyo: “First, he asserted himself with the military, then he became a statesman and a reformer, and finally he gained international renown.”
Swarms of locusts in Ethiopia have damaged 200,000 hectares (half a million acres) of cropland and driven around a million people to require emergency food aid, according to the United Nations.
“The pandemic is already having a devastating impact on Africa, which will deepen with increasing infection rates. It is a setback to the progress we have made in eradicating poverty, inequality and underdevelopment.”
South African President and head of the African Union, Cyril Ramaphosa, on the consequences of the coronavirus for the African continent.
China wants to prevent discrimination against Africans: Africans living in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou say they have been evicted from their apartments and refused entry to restaurants as part of a xenophobic campaign against black people that is ostensibly aimed at curbing the transmission of the coronavirus. Governments across Africa, as well as the African Union, have been summoning Chinese ambassadors for remonstrations about the treatment of their citizens. “We treat all foreigners in China equally and we reject discrimination,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters Monday. “In response to the African side’s concerns regarding their citizens in Guangdong, provincial authorities have rolled out new measures and we believe that by working together, we can resolve this properly.”

KW 15: No clear winner in Mali’s election, EU countries participate in Irini mission, Turkey and United States stress need for Syria, Libya ceasefires

– NEWS –
No clear winner in Mali’s election: The parliamentary election in Mali saw no clear winner. An absolute majority is required for the 147 mandates in parliament, but only 17 candidates were able to get enough votes in their constituency in the first round. The election is headed for a second round in many places across the country. Voter turnout was extremely low at only 36 percent. The main reason is the poor security situation in Mali. Opposition leader Soumaïla Cisse, who was kidnapped shortly before the election, remains in captivity.
EU countries participate in Irini mission: The EU is stepping up its efforts to enforce the United Nations arms embargo on Libya through the launch of the “Irini” military operation in the Mediterranean Sea. Several EU countries plan on participating in the mission. France, Italy and Greece are contributing warships to enforce the arms embargo. Italy, Greece, Poland, Luxembourg and Germany will help out with airplanes and drones. Despite a ceasefire in Libya, heavy fighting continues between General Khalifa Haftar, Libya’s eastern military commander, and the internationally recognized government of Libya.
Virtual safari in South Africa: Kenya-born Joss Kent has made it his business to offer luxury journeys through Africa, but his business has taken a hit since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, Kent has started a digital service that allows interested parties to take live stream-journeys through the “andBeyond Ngala Game Reserve” in South Africa twice a day. As part of the trip, customers get information on special characteristics of the area and the daily routines of the rangers in the reserve. A total of 2038 people work for “andBeyond”. The company works closely with local companies and supports small businesses with half of its income.
Support for Africa’s small business owners in the coronavirus crisis: Countries and organizations on the African continent are currently working on aid programs for economies affected by the coronavirus. Africa’s economy relies on small businesses, which make up around 95 percent of all companies. But these small businesses are particularly hard-hit by the pandemic. South Africa has set up a fund to collect donations from the richest South Africans as well as the government in order to help them. The country’s government is also working on a debt relief plan for small companies. Nigeria is offering 125 million euros in aid to companies affected by the pandemic. The African Development Bank has set up a “social bond” worth over 3 billion euros. The International Monetary Fund wants to support developing and emerging countries with 46 billion euros.
Turkey and United States stress need for Syria, Libya ceasefires: US President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan have underlined the need for ceasefires in Syria and Libya during the pandemic, the White House said. The two spoke by phone on efforts to defeat the coronavirus and bolster the global economy. They agreed it was more important now than ever for countries in conflict, particularly Syria and Libya, to adhere to ceasefires and work toward resolution. Syria’s government has so far reported only a handful of virus cases, but health experts warn that the country is especially vulnerable to the virus. Syria’s health care system is severely weakened due to the ongoing civil war. According to the World Health Organization, only 64 percent of the country’s hospitals are still in operation.,
“We are not guinea pigs”
Natural disasters: Africa is still underinsured
Coronavirus crisis and tourism: Fear in Africa
Italy: Illegally employed crop workers from Africa left alone in corona crisis
African countries impose entry bans: Many African countries have imposed entry bans on visitors from Europe and the United States, including Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. The measures were imposed because the coronavirus was carried to Africa primarily by people from Western countries. Sentiment towards foreigners appears to be worsening in some countries. In Ghana, visitors have reported that people shouted “Corona go home” at them.
Hirak protest movement in Algeria: The Algerian Hirak protest movement is taking break – at least on the streets – due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. The Hirak began in February 2019 when Algerians protested en masse to demand that then-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika renounce plans to run for a fifth term. After forcing Bouteflika’s resignation in April, the movement continued to stage massive demonstrations every Friday, calling for a more democratic system of government. The Hirak demonstrations continued weekly until the authorities banned all demonstrations over the pandemic, and the Hirak announced it would suspend its rallies. According to the National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees, at least 173 people remain on trial for participating in Hirak protests or covering them.
Locust plague and coronavirus hit East Africa: The United Nations has warned that coronavirus-linked flight restrictions are hampering efforts to wipe out locust swarms on the verge of devastating crops in eastern Africa. The spreading of the virus has forced governments to close their borders, reducing cargo flights and disrupting global supply chains, including the production of pesticides in Europe and Asia. The first invasion that terrorized farmers in a region where 20 million people struggle for food has given birth to a second wave of insects just as new-season crops are being planted. Kelvin Shingles from the German World Hunger Help is concerned about massive crop failures: “The locust infestation will have a devastating effect on harvests, livestock farming and, of course, food supply if suitable action isn’t taken soon.,
Chinese internet entrepreneur Jack Ma has donated 1.5 million coronavirus tests to African countries. Many other organizations are also supporting Africa in coping with the crisis.
“I am very concerned that there will be riots, even civil wars, in fragile countries.”
German Development Minister Gerd Müller has talked about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on African countries.
60 years of independence in Senegal: Senegal marked 60 years of independence on Saturday and its achievements since are worth celebrating. Due to the democratic change of power and its multi-party system, Senegal is considered politically stable in the region and a role model for other countries. But the independence ceremony has been postponed to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.

KW 14: Guinea referendum backs constitutional changes, Mali election underway despite coronavirus fears, South Africa goes into 3-week lockdown

– NEWS –
Guinea referendum backs constitutional changes: Guinea has voted overwhelmingly for a change in the constitution, according to provisional results of a referendum, an outcome which the opposition fears will allow President Alpha Conde to govern for 12 more years. 92 percent of voters supported changing the constitution in last Sunday’s referendum, which was boycotted by the opposition. Conde has refused to rule out using a new constitution as a reset button on his mandate, which expires in December, citing other African countries as examples of where leaders have extended their rule. The new constitution would impose a limit of two six-year terms, up from the current two five-year terms. It does not specify whether terms served under the previous constitution would count, but Conde has suggested they would not.
Mali election underway despite coronavirus fears: Malians headed to the polls Sunday for a long-delayed parliamentary election, less than a day after the country reported its first death from coronavirus. The country has now declared a medical emergency despite the relatively low number of cases so far. Much of Mali’s territory lies outside of state control, meaning that widespread implementation of preventative measures could be difficult or impossible. Security concerns have seen the parliamentary vote postponed several times since 2018. The war-torn country has over 200,000 displaced people, none of whom are expected to be able to vote. Also overshadowing the election was the kidnapping of the leading opposition figure of the West African country on Wednesday. Soumaila Cisse is believed to be in the hands of jihadists.
Boko Haram terrorist attack in Nigeria and Chad: Nearly 100 Chadian troops were killed in an attack by Boko Haram militants, President Idriss Deby Itno said on Tuesday. The seven-hour assault on an island army base was the deadliest yet by the extremist group against the armed forces in Chad. At least 50 Nigerian soldiers are also reported to have been killed in an ambush by Boko Haram in eastern Borno. The attacks are the latest in a series of offensives that Boko Haram has launched in Chad, Niger and Cameroon, in addition to northeastern Nigeria. The Boko Haram insurgency began in north-eastern Nigeria a decade ago – and the violence has spread to neighboring countries, killing more than 30,000 people and forcing two million from their homes, according to the United Nations.,
European special unit in Mali: Eleven European countries have set up a special unit to fight Islamist terrorist groups in Mali. Germany will also participate in the mission, although only politically. The special unit will operate under the name “Tabuka” and will include several hundred emergency services. Tabuka will conduct operations in the Liptako region, the border area between Mali and Niger, under French leadership.
EU to launch new Libya sea patrols: EU nations have reached an agreement to launch a naval mission in the Mediterranean Sea to enforce a UN-mandated arms embargo on Libya. The new operation “Irini” will replace the EU’s current military mission “Operation Sophia”, which stopped deploying ships a year ago. The operation was discontinued as countries such as Austria and Italy argued that it acted as a pull factor for asylum seekers, encouraging migrants attempting to reach Europe via Libya to set out to sea in the hope of being rescued. With hundreds of thousands making the perilous crossing from North Africa each year and thousands dying at sea, EU ships are required under international law to rescue those in trouble. The breakthrough for the launch of operation “Irini” came after Greece offered its ports as disembarkation points for migrants saved at sea by the mission’s warships. The EU also agreed that the ships would not be deployed in the central Mediterranean, but much further east, far from the migrants’ route in the Mediterranean.,,
How Africa prepares for the coronavirus
Africa: Alcohol consumption on the rise
Corona: German World Hunger Help warns of drastic consequences in Africa
Western Sahara: New consulates cause trouble
A lot of fake news on coronavirus in Africa: Inaccurate claims and potentially dangerous medical advice is spreading in Africa even faster that the coronavirus itself. One example: “If the virus is exposed to a temperature of 26-27⁰ C. it will be killed, as it does not live in hot regions.” That, however, has not been medically proven. The rest of the message was likewise unhelpful in warding off the coronavirus: “Also drinking hot water and sun exposure will do the trick and staying away from ice cream and cold food is advised.” The World Health Organization WHO refers to the global misinformation problem as an “infodemic” and has pointed out that combatting its spread requires enormous resources, much like measures taken to control the outbreak of the virus itself. It means that aid organizations cannot just concentrate on providing resources to regions in need, they also have to fight to demonstrate their own credibility.
E-learning on the rise in Africa: E-learning is very popular in many African countries. An increasing number of African entrepreneurs are entering the business and establishing platforms on which people can network and study online. The two Senegalese Massamba Thiam and Arona Gueye founded the “Afriboard Education” platform, which is used by schools, universities and companies. Many students in Senegal have “problems with crowded classrooms and the exchange of learning content. We saw a great need for alternative forms of learning,” said Thiam. The development of their platform was supported by the government of Senegal. There are around 230 African e-learning start-ups in Africa, according to one expert.
South Africa goes into 3-week lockdown: South Africa started a three-week nationwide lockdown on Friday as the country reported its first coronavirus deaths and the number of confirmed corona cases there neared 1,000, the highest on the continent. Police and the military are enforcing an order forbidding all but essential movement. Grocery stores are allowed to remain open, but liquor stores will be closed. Activities such as jogging and dog walking are prohibited. South Africa had already closed its borders, allowing only essential supplies to come into the country. Officials said the lockdown could be extended if the situation with the growing number of infections doesn’t improve. South Africa is the most industrialized country in Africa, but it is already in a recession, with unemployment at 29%. The 21-day lockdown is certain to exacerbate its economic woes.
Around 4,000 people in Africa have been infected with the coronavirus. Health experts fear a sharp increase in illnesses in the near future.
“Our capabilities are pretty limited. Many African countries have problems. We do not have the resources to launch economic stimulus programs that we see elsewhere in the world.”
South African analyst Jakkie Cilliers on the economic consequences of the coronavirus in Africa.
Six million coronavirus face masks missing in Kenya: German customs officials are trying to track down about 6 million face masks, ordered to protect health workers from the coronavirus, that they say went missing at an airport in Kenya. The shipment was due in Germany on March 20th but never arrived after disappearing at the end of last week at an airport in Kenya. A German defense ministry spokeswoman said there was no financial impact from the loss of the masks as no money had been paid.

KW 13: Upheaval in Sudan and South Sudan, Dam dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt, East Africa continues to fight locust plague

– NEWS –
Upheaval in Sudan and South Sudan: Profound upheavals and power shifts are currently happening in Sudan and South Sudan. Former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir was overthrown by a popular uprising in April 2019 after a 29-year rule. The ousted dictator had waged a merciless war against the people of the Sudanese region of Darfur since 2003. The conflict began when rebel groups took up weapons in Darfur, accusing the Arab-dominated Bashir government of marginalizing the western region and oppressing its people. Stabilizing Sudan is also intended to strengthen pan-African cohesion. But there are also opposing forces: Saudi Arabia is recruiting young Sudanese as soldiers in the war against Yemen. Chaos still reins in South Sudan. Although people welcomed the end of the al-Bashir regime, the country has failed to secure peace and basic services in the country.,
Dam dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt: Tensions are rising in east Africa because of the impasse between Ethiopia and Egypt over the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile River. It’s around 71% complete and promises to provide much-needed electricity to Ethiopia’s 100 million people. Egypt fears the project could reduce its share of the Nile, the main source of freshwater for Egypt’s population. The deputy head of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, has announced that his country would mediate a deal in the dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt. The deadlock over the dam had become increasingly bitter in recent weeks, with Egypt saying it would use all available means to defend the interests of its people. Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew has said Ethiopia refuses to be pressured by the United States into signing a deal with Egypt and Sudan over the dam, insisting that the three countries needed to resolve their differences without outside pressure.,
Concern grows over South Africa’s readiness for coronavirus: The coronavirus was late to appear in Africa, but the number of cases there is now expanding dramatically. That is a great cause for concern because many countries in Africa are ill-equipped to deal with the health challenges posed by the virus. The number of confirmed South African coronavirus cases rose to 240 on Saturday, with no deaths. South Africa is considering further economic-relief measures to soften the impact of the outbreak and assess efforts to slow the pace of the pandemic. The country has banned travel to certain countries and gatherings of more than 100 people. Experts worry the virus may ravage countries with weak health systems and a population disproportionately affected by HIV, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases. On top of that, families in many informal settlements across South Africa often live in cramped single rooms and share communal outdoor toilets with dozens of neighbors.,,,
East Africa continues to fight locust plague: Countries such as Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea continue to struggle with a locust plague that is threatening food supplies. As airlines ground planes and borders are closed because of the coronavirus, “the fight against an already critical desert locust outbreak is getting harder,” said Cyril Ferrand, the Eastern Africa Resilience Team Leader for the Food and Agriculture Organization. The infestation in East Africa continues to present an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods, especially as the cropping season begins, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said. The outbreak is the worst Kenya has experienced in 70 years. It has also impacted Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
African diaspora shopping platform founded in Germany: In 2011, Lydie Idel Fonkwe came to Germany as a student and discovered that it was very costly to financially support her family back in Cameroon. International transactions usually come with high banking fees. As an alternative, she launched the “Familov” online platform, where people from the diaspora can buy products from supermarkets online, which can then be picked up by their relatives on site. She said 8,000 people are already using this option to support their relatives.
Lagos gas blast kills 15, destroys several buildings
Outsider portfolios
Made in Senegal: A new coronavirus test could produce results after ten minutes
Jack Ma Foundation donates masks and test kits to Africa
South Africa’s drought threatens health: Drought, dilapidated pipes and wasted resources mean that poor South Africans in particular have no access to running water. Dirty brown water comes out of the taps in townships, drinking water has to be bought. This situation could become dangerous in the context of the corona pandemic. Although there have been relatively few cases in South Africa so far, citizens in the country are unable to regularly wash their hands with soap to curb the infection rate if they do not have access to running water. The supply network would have to be modernized to change this predicament, but adjustments in the behavior of the population are also necessary – despite the drought, South Africans use 60 liters more water per capita than the world average.
How Africa uses its Ebola experience to prepare for coronavirus: Compared to Europe and Asia, the African continent has not been affected as much by the coronavirus, but many countries are alarmed. They respond with measures that they derived from the experiences of the 2014 Ebola epidemic. The government of Ghana has provided $100 million for countermeasures, public events have been canceled in Kenya, Rwanda and Senegal, Gabon has closed schools after the first corona diagnosis. There are also closings of public places in North African countries, but the authorities are reacting more slowly – these countries are at greater risk because their population is older than in most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Africa: More poverty despite economic growth: Many African countries have been recording high economic growth rates for years. However, a recent study showed that poverty on the continent has increased again. “Overall, the proportion of people in Africa living in monetary poverty has clearly declined, from 54% in 1990 to 41% in 2015,” World Bank economist Luc Christiaensen said in an interview with “DW”. The main contributors to this development were the expansion of infrastructure in rural areas, increased agricultural productivity and years of robust economic growth in most African countries. So the trend is positive, but the whole truth is that rapid population growth has actually increased the absolute number of poor people in Africa, from 278 million to 413 million. In the near future, African governments are likely to face another problem: The coronavirus, which could not only pose challenges to the health systems of African countries but is already slowing down the global economy.
Medical fake news are spreading rapidly in Africa: Inaccurate claims and potentially dangerous medical advice is spreading in Africa even faster that the coronavirus itself. One example: “If the virus is exposed to a temperature of 26-27⁰ C. it will be killed, as it does not live in hot regions.” That, however, has not been medically proven. The rest of the message was likewise unhelpful in warding off the coronavirus: “Also drinking hot water and sun exposure will do the trick and staying away from ice cream and cold food is advised.” The World Health Organization WHO refers to the global misinformation problem as an “infodemic” and has pointed out that combatting its spread requires enormous resources, much like measures taken to control the outbreak of the virus itself. It means that aid organizations cannot just concentrate on providing resources to regions in need, they also have to fight to demonstrate their own credibility.
The African Youth Study paints an optimistic picture of young Africans. 75 percent of young Africans believe that their work can change their community for the better.
“The best advice for Africa is to prepare for the worst and to start today.”
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, warns African countries of the coronavirus.
Rhinoceros population: fight against poaching with partial success: Numbers of African black rhinos in the wild have risen by several hundred, a rare boost in the conservation of a species driven to near extinction by poaching. Black rhinos are still in grave danger but the small increase – an annual rate of 2.5% over six years, has swollen the population from 4,845 in 2012 to an estimated 5,630 in 2018, giving hope that efforts put into saving the species are paying off.

KW 10: First coronavirus case in sub-Saharan Africa, EU and African Union step up cooperation, Netflix’s first African original series

– NEWS –
First coronavirus case in sub-Saharan Africa: The first case of the coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa has been confirmed in Nigeria. The patient is an Italian citizen who works in Nigeria and flew into the commercial city of Lagos from Milan on February 25th. Authorities say he is stable with no serious symptoms and is being treated at a hospital in the city. Meanwhile, South Africa’s health ministry has announced that two nationals aboard a cruise ship docked in Japan have tested positive for the virus. The World Health Organization has warned that porous borders, a continuing flow of travelers and poorly resourced healthcare systems meant the risk of an outbreak across Africa was very high and raised significant concerns about the ability of fragile health systems to cope.,
EU and African Union step up cooperation: Europe is seeking to open a new chapter in the EU–Africa partnership, by fostering relations with its “sister continent”, as EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called Africa during a visit to Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. Europe wants a change of narrative and move from development aid to a true partnership. The starting point will be trade and investment. The fight against climate change is also going to be a key priority. Von der Leyen further pledged to support the African Union with conflict resolution, in Libya for example. She said the end of the war there was of great importance to the development of the African continent.,,
Netflix’s first African original series: Netflix’s first African original series “Queen Sono” has been released. The thriller stars South African Pearl Thusi as the eponymous secret agent. Written and directed by Kagiso Lediga, an award-winning stand-up comedian in South Africa, “Queen Sono” is filmed in several locations across the continent. In developing the narrative, Lediga sought to blend the history of South Africa with its present-day politics, all set against the backdrop of a femicide crisis and increasing violence against women.,
African Union preparing 3,000-troop deployment to Sahel: The African Union said Thursday that it expected to send a temporary deployment of 3,000 troops to West Africa’s Sahel region, where regional forces are struggling to respond to a nearly eight-year-old insurgency by armed Islamists. A localized revolt that began in northern Mali in 2012 has spread to the center of the country and to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger. Around 4,000 people died in the three countries last year, a fivefold increase over 2016, according to UN figures.
South African startup wants to export canned wine to the United States: Canned wines are already on sale in the United States, parts of Europe and elsewhere, but they are a novelty in South Africa, which is one of the world’s top 10 wine producers. The startup “Uncanny Wines”, based outside South Africa’s tourist hub Cape Town, says it is targeting domestic drinkers first but has its eye on the export market. The company’s cans of premium red and white wines are the first to be certified by South Africa’s Wine and Spirit Board.
South Africa’s national debt is at an unsustainable level
“The food security of millions of people is at risk”
Third term for Guinea’s president?
Siemens builds a wind turbine in the African Republic of Djibouti
African countries aren’t getting as much as they should from foreign direct investment: Since the late 1980s African governments have fully embraced foreign direct investment as a major driver of growth, Ghanaian economist Abraham Mensah Acquah writes in an article. Despite these efforts, data shows that Africa has not been a major recipient of these flows. In fact, it attracts a lot less than other developing countries. Furthermore, the impact on economic growth of the foreign direct investment the continent attracts is lower than other comparable parts of the world.
African countries are paying too much for debt: There is renewed concern about the sustainability of rising debt levels in many African countries. Much of this debt is being incurred through foreign currency denominated Eurobonds issued on international financial markets. The total value of Eurobonds issued between 2018 and 2019 was more than the value of all bonds sold between 2003 to 2016. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) believes that African countries are on a Eurobond issuing spree and half of them are near or at distressed levels. It argues that African governments are piling on debt without evaluating the exchange rate risks and the real costs of repaying the debts.
Auxiliary Bishop Lohmann calls for support for Niger: Earlier this year, Auxiliary Bishop Rolf Lohmann was the first German bishop to visit the West African country of Niger for almost 40 years. Now he is calling for donations to help the country. The account of his visit is marked by Boko Haram’s traces – the Islamist terrorists have left destruction, violence and chaos in their wake. Lohmann believes it is important to focus on local refugee work – internally displaced people are often in dangerous situations. The bishop’s goal is to build partnerships so that families in Niger can accommodate displaced people – but funding must be secured to do so.
Togo: Nothing new in the west: Hans-Joachim Preuss, employee of the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation, is concerned about the Benin presidential election. Faure Gnassingbé was confirmed as president with 72.4 percent of the vote. This means that he can take up his fourth term. However, it is questionable how robust democracy in the country actually is. While good economic developments could have given the president a legitimate boost, restrictions on civil rights are emerging. Freedom of assembly is regulated and less than 350 of the 1.5 million Diaspora Togolese were allowed to vote in the presidential election. Social peace is still fragile. The president must also stabilize economic growth. But there is no trend that democratic structures could improve under Gnassingbé.
In East Africa, food that could feed up to 35,000 people is lost every day as a result of the locust plague.
“I want Europe to realize that a good future for Africa is crucial for our development and for the development of our entire planet.”
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on his trip to Kenya.
From Eritrea to the Olympic Games: Samuel Fitwi Sibhatu fled Eritrea for Europe five years ago. He is now naturalized in Germany, is completing an apprenticeship as a painter, and has a special talent: within a short period of time, the 23-year-old has achieved top form in long-distance running and now has a dream – he wants to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. He has until May to prove that he can do it.

KW 09: Africa preparing for coronavirus, German President Steinmeier travels to Kenya and Sudan, South African row over apartheid

– NEWS –
Africa preparing for coronavirus: In recent years, close economic ties have developed between China and many African countries. These could now endanger the health situation in Africa. The growing passenger and freight traffic demand great precautionary measures. Flights between Kenya and China were discontinued, and thermal cameras scan the passengers at airports. So far, only one coronavirus infection has been found across the continent, in Egypt. The World Health Organization takes the risk very seriously. Health care systems are weak in many African countries.
German President Steinmeier travels to Kenya and Sudan: President Frank-Walter Steinmeier started a five-day trip to Kenya and Sudan on Saturday. Kenya is considered the engine of the East African economy – Steinmeier wants to get a better picture of the developments on the ground. Kenya is a pioneer especially in the area of digital financial services – cashless payment is normal here. Steinmeier described the visit as “overdue”. In Sudan, the president will also want to experience current events up close. In a preliminary interview, he said that he had great respect for the many courageous transformations in the country.
South African row over apartheid: Frederik Willem de Klerk has apologized for “quibbling” over whether or not apartheid was a crime against humanity. He had caused outrage with comments that many interpreted as an attempt to rewrite history and play down the seriousness of apartheid. In an interview, the former president had said he was not fully agreeing with the presenter who asked him to confirm that apartheid, the legalized discrimination against non-white people, was a crime against humanity. De Klerk went on to acknowledge that it was a crime, and to apologize profusely for his role in it, but he insisted that apartheid was responsible for relatively few deaths and that it should not be put in the same category of “genocide” or “crimes against humanity”.
Presidential election in Togo: Vote counting in Togo began on Saturday in the country’s presidential election, which followed protests against the dynastic rule of one family that has lasted half a century. Incumbent President Faure Gnassingbe is looking to secure a fourth term in office. He has led the country of eight million since 2005, when his father Gnassingbe Eyadema died after 38 years in the role. Polling day was reported to be calm with a moderate turnout, although many voters had vowed not to take part in an election they describe as neither free nor fair. Six challengers have aimed to persuade the 3.6 million registered voters to remove Gnassingbe and potentially usher in change. Agbeyome Kodjo, who served as prime minister under Gnassingbe’s father, is seen as a potential dark horse after winning the backing of an influential Catholic archbishop.,
Rwanda gospel singer dies in custody: Kizito Mihigo, a popular gospel singer who was a fierce critic of President Paul Kagame, hanged himself in a Rwandan police cell, according to a police report. He was found guilty in 2015 of conspiracy to murder or harm the president. He had been pardoned in 2018 but was rearrested last week. Police said the singer, a devout Catholic known for songs promoting healing and forgiveness, had been trying to flee to neighboring Burundi to join groups fighting the Rwandan government. Diane Rwigara, another Kagame critic, cast doubt over the police report on his death. She said that she could not see how suicide could have been possible. Police said Mihigo had been allowed to meet family members and his lawyer. It was not immediately known whether he had been in a solitary cell.,
Baden-Württemberg wants to boost cooperation with Ethiopia: The economics minister of the German state of Baden-Württemberg, Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut, has announced the opening of a second country office in Ethiopia. According to Hoffmeister-Kraut, the country has great potential for economic development. President Abiy Ahmed’s peace efforts are also improving the economic environment. In the Baden-Württemberg office in Addis Ababa, entrepreneurs can find out about possible cooperation between the two countries and market entry strategies.
How Morocco promotes technology from Africa for Africa
Little hope of change in West Africa’s oldest family dictatorship
Troubled election year in Africa
Welthungerhilfe fears “apocalyptic” consequences of the locust plague in Africa
Supporting Sudan – securing Darfur: In a recent guest article, Wibke Hansen, Head of Analysis at the Center for International Peace Operations (ZiF) and Volker Perthes, Head of the Science and Politics Foundation (SWP), explain why it is the right choice to accompany and promote Sudan’s transformation. The economic upswing strengthens stability and the whole of civil society. The country has also made clear efforts to deal with the past. At the same time, the international community must insist on extending the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur. There are 1.8 million internally displaced persons, whose security must be ensured.
Regulation to counter internet hatred – critics fear censorship: In Ethiopia, lawmakers have submitted legislation against hate speech on the internet to control incitement and violence in social media. Even before the law has come into force, journalists warned that it could lead to censorship and oppression. An increasing number of African countries are using the German network search law as a model to combat aggression on the internet – however, there is a tendency for regimes to act autocratically and to silence journalists and opposition figures.
Security situation in Nigeria worsens: Terrorism and violence are causing a growing number of problems in Nigeria. An analysis by the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation suggests that violent forces are increasingly destabilizing the system. Poverty and demographic development provide the perfect breeding ground for more violence and escalation. Islamist terrorists are not the only dangerous actors, armed gangs are especially present in the north of the country.
Photographer Olaf Heine dedicates photo series to Rwanda’s women: Olaf Heine traveled to Rwanda and photographed women and their daughters – the core focus being on the civil war between the Hutu and Tutsi factions. Rwanda’s women are a major driving factor in the economy and have the highest share of parliament seats in the world, but there are a number of challenging nuances in everyday life. Heine recorded the relationships between mothers and daughters, who had to ask themselves who their fathers were, how many rapes have taken place and what kind of traces the conflict has left.
75 percent of Africans are younger than 35 years.
“It’s important that we act together in Europe and that everyone doesn’t keep making their own individual offers.”
German Development Minister Gerd Müller has called for a joint EU Africa strategy.
Professional tennis player Federer wants to play in Africa again: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal came together in February in front of a sell-out crowd of 51,954 at Cape Town stadium, the biggest ever to watch a tennis match. It was Federer’s first match in his mother’s country of birth, and the country the Swiss great rates as his second home. The exhibition at Cape Town Stadium was to raise money for the Roger Federer Foundation, which supports early childhood education in six southern African countries, including South Africa. Federer has announced that he would like to return to Africa for more games.,

KW 08: Locust plague in East Africa, Digital banks in South Africa, Unity government in South Sudan

– NEWS –
Locust plague in East Africa: A plague of locusts is spreading across East Africa, threatening the food supply of tens of millions. The insects behind the mayhem are desert locusts, which, despite their name, thrive following periods of heavy rainfall that trigger blooms of vegetation across their normally arid habitats in Africa and the Middle East. The United Nations has warned that massive food assistance may be required. There are fears that the locusts – already in the hundreds of billions – will multiply further. Aerial spraying of pesticides is the most effective way of fighting the swarms but countries in the region do not have the right resources. The United Nations has called on the international community to fund the spraying of the affected areas with insecticide.,
Digital banks in South Africa are booming: Traditional financial institutions in South Africa are coming under pressure. Bank closures and issues with the community at large are increasing. Taking advantage of the niche left by the old banks, modern banks are thriving with a new approach to consumer behavior. The new “TymeBank”, which set up an ATM in a supermarket in Cape Town, promises financial services without bureaucratic hurdles. A bank employee assists customers who want to get started. They need only an identity card and mobile phone number to promptly receive a debit card from the ATM. The country’s financial ecosystem gives an indication of what future business models will look like – closer to the customer, without complicated terms and conditions.
Possible unity government in South Sudan: South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir said on Saturday he was cutting the number of states from 32 to 10, unlocking a stalled peace deal and paving the way for the formation of a long- awaited unity government. Disagreement between Kiir and former rebel leader Riek Machar over the number of states as well as a failure to integrate different fighting forces have been major obstacles to completing the peace process. South Sudan’s five-year civil war erupted soon after the country’s formation in 2011 and created the worst refugee crisis in Africa since the Rwandan genocide.
German development minister wants EU to focus on Africa: In a recent interview, Germany’s Development Minister Gerd Müller criticized the fact that the topic of Africa was not up for discussion at the Munich Security Conference. Müller called on the EU to find a common solution to the challenges that are emerging on the continent. He pointed out that Africa’s population will double by 2050 – water shortages, hunger and misery are becoming apparent in many places. During visits to Nigeria and Sudan, the minister learned of the role that climate change plays. These countries are most affected by climate-related droughts and water shortages. Müller wants higher investments on the part of the EU and a “contract of the century”. So far, the EU has hardly been present in the fight against destabilizing factors that cause terrorism and war.
Audit finds suspicious financial dealings in African soccer: An audit of the governing body for soccer in Africa has uncovered millions of dollars of financial irregularities. The accountancy firm PWC, hired to audit the Confederation of African Football, found problems across the board, including with the dispensation of millions of dollars of soccer development funds sent to the African soccer body by FIFA. The report also cited payments for gifts and, in at least one instance, for organizing a funeral. The report expressed particular concern about the amount of transactions which were carried out in cash and without the necessary supporting documentation.,
Does West Africa need help fighting pirates?
EU pays Niger for blocking escape routes – there could be more humane measures
Cameroon elects new parliament
Refugees from Eritrea protest in Frankfurt
Startup wants to improve healthcare through modern monitors: The startup “GOAL-3” is named after the third sustainability goal of the United Nations: Healthcare for everyone. The focus is primarily on Africa because improving healthcare there is extremely important at the moment. As a tropical doctor, co-founder Niek Versteegde has seen this with his own eyes in an incubator ward in Tanzania. His company develops smart hospital monitors that measure vital signs such as pulse and blood pressure. The startup wants to expand the monitors so that they prevent all deaths from curable diseases. Blood poisoning is a common problem in many African countries – with modern measurement of oxygen levels, however, it is possible to noticeably reduce deaths.
Climate activist Nakate against oil drilling: Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate was recently erased from a photo taken of climate activists by the Associated Press at the World Economic Forum. The act received a lot of backlash from institutions in Africa describing it as silencing of black African voices. “You didn’t just erase a photo. You erased a continent. But I am stronger than ever,” Nakate said later on Twitter. She is now using the symbolic power of the image to attract more attention to her concerns. Africa is often forgotten in climate discussions, even though the continent is severely affected by heat and drought. The 23-year-old tells the story of how difficult it is to create a strong momentum for climate activism like in Europe – the focus of most Africans is on financial hardship – interest in climate protection is limited.,,
Radio still popular in Africa: The radio is still the most popular medium to get access to information in Africa. People here most often listen to the news on battery-powered radios, especially in rural areas that don’t have secure access to electricity. In addition, many cell phones in Africa have FM reception. The growing popularity of social media has yet to affect the number of listeners. But radio stations are also adjusting to digital technologies and are increasingly offering radio formats on Facebook and Twitter. Political stability remains an obstacle – authoritarian governments are preventing the expansion of radio communication. In more stable countries like South Africa, on the other hand, there is a conversion to digital transmission standards.
Uncertainty about Russian mercenaries in Africa: Nearly 200 Russian mercenaries have deployed in recent months to Mozambique to combat a growing Isis offshoot there, even as the Russian government is taking steps toward building a military port in the Horn of Africa that could become Russia’s first permanent base on the continent. Russia is steadily expanding its military influence across Africa by increasing arms sales, security agreements and training programs for unstable countries or autocratic leaders. Other recent actions by Moscow include quietly deploying mercenaries and political advisers to several countries, including the Central African Republic. Hundreds of Russian fighters have arrived in Libya in recent months as part of a broad campaign by Russia to intervene on behalf of General Khalifa Haftar to shape the outcome of Libya’s civil war.
Africa’s elephant population has dropped from 1.3 million animals to just a quarter of that number since 1979.
“The situation in Libya is extremely worrying. The conflict parties’ ceasefire is hanging by a thread and has been broken more than 150 times.”
The UN deputy special envoy for Libya, Stephanie Williams, talks about the conflict in the North African state.
Kenyan represents international students at the University of Oldenburg: 29-year-old Seith Onyango from Kenya has been elected to represent the international students at the university and send requests for improvements to the school’s administration. Among other things, he aims to expand language courses and support for doctor visits. But the young man also developed a special passion in Oldenburg: kale, or green cabbage. Onyango organizes cabbage rides with fellow students to learn more about German culture.