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).

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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.

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