Africa news roundup

Pan African Flag Gf2b7f6d6c 1280
Pan-African flag map of Africa. Image courtesy of Open Clipart Vectors from Pixabay.

June 11-17, 2023


Court orders interim injunction against the arrest of Charles Bissue

Following an application by Charles Bissue’s lawyers, an Accra Human Rights Court, presided over by Justice Nicholas Abodakpi, made an order for an interim injunction restraining the Office of the Special Prosecutor. The order will remain in force for 10 days while the case has been adjourned to 22 June 2023. The Office of the Special Prosecutor on Tuesday 13 June declared Charles Bissue, the former Secretary to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM), wanted. This declaration followed Bissue’s failure to respond to an invitation from the Special Prosecutor to appear and answer questions regarding the ongoing investigation into suspected corruption within the dissolved IMCIM.

Bissue filed a writ at the High Court to prevent the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) from prosecuting him. This legal action was in response to the ongoing investigation into alleged corruption involving Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, the Chairman of the IMCIM. The court has also stopped the Special Prosecutor from applying for further arrest warrants and publishing notices purporting the applicant to be wanted pending the determination of the substantive matter.

Investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas and his Tiger Eye Pi team fingered Bissue in an exposé when he was caught taking bribes to facilitate illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey. Bissue emerged as a facilitator for a company seeking to circumvent processes for approval of its mining operations when captured in the video receiving wads of cash to facilitate the speedy ‘clearance’ of a mining company. He is heard, in a telephone conversation, instructing his subordinates to “fast track” the processing of the company’s documents.


Chef Baci awarded Guinness world record

After weeks of waiting, Nigerian chef and internet sensation Hilda Baci has been awarded the Guinness World Record for the longest cooking marathon.  Hilda began a cook-a-thon on Thursday 11 May and ended on Monday 15 May 2023, a period of 93 hours, 11 minutes. Hilda Baci, 26, had trained in the gym to stay on her feet for the four days needed to beat the record last month. She declared that her feat aimed to “put Nigerian cuisine on the map”. “After a thorough examination of all the evidence, Guinness World Records can now confirm that… Hilda Baci has officially broken the record for the longest (individual) cooking marathon”, Guinness World Records reported.

According to the Guinness World Record website, while Hilda had attempted to set a record of 100 hours, almost seven hours of cooking time was deducted from her final total because she took extra minutes for one of her rest breaks. “Hilda attempted to set a record of 100 hours, however, almost seven hours were deducted from her final total because she mistakenly took extra minutes for one of her rest breaks early on in the attempt”, it was reported. Reacting to the news, the new world record holder took to her Instagram page to post her picture during the cook-a-thon with the caption, “God did!!!!” also tagging the official Instagram page of Guinness World Records. The news comes at a time when another Nigerian chef known as Chef Dammy is attempting to break her record. The previous record of 87 hours 45 minutes was set by an Indian chef, Lata Tondon, in 2019.

South Africa

Country no longer Africa’s premier gold producer

South Africa has lost its position as Africa’s premier gold producer. Ghana surpassed South Africa, after large-scale mining companies in the West African country increased gold production from 2.2 million ounces in 2012 to 3.08 million ounces last year. Ghana experienced a remarkable 32 per cent surge in gold production last year, marking a significant rebound after a notable decline in output. Ghana yielded its leading position to South Africa due to a sharp drop in production level in 2021.

However, the tables have turned, with Ghana’s gold output soaring to 3.7 million ounces in 2022, up from 2.8 million ounces the previous year. This remarkable growth can be attributed to increased production in both the large-scale and small-scale sectors. Ghana’s Minister of Lands and Natural Resources John Jinapor attributed this achievement to the government’s visionary policies and collaborative programmes, enacted under the leadership of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.  However, the 32 per cent increase in gold output in Ghana has also taken its toll on the country’s natural environment. The illegal mining of the precious metal, known as galamsey, poses a significant threat to Ghana’s forests, rivers, and other bodies of water, raising substantial health issues and potential water scarcity.


Ruto seeks use of local currencies in African trade

President William Ruto has called on African nations to shift away from using the United States dollar for intra-continental trade and opt for the use of local currencies. He emphasized that the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has provided a mechanism which gives traders within the continent the opportunity to engage in trade using their respective local currencies. Addressing the Parliament in Djibouti, Ruto highlighted the need for less reliance on the use of dollar for trade transactions between Djibouti and Kenya. Currently, traders in Djibouti and Kenya have to acquire USD currency when engaging in trade between the two countries. There is a global de-dollarisation campaign which is already gaining momentum as countries around the world seek alternatives to the hegemony of the USD. China and Russia are now trading in their own currencies, while China and Brazil have also dropped the dollar in bilateral trade.

Kenyan President has joined China, Russia, Brazil, India, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the call for de-dollarisation, with his latest call on African countries to adopt local currency for intra-African trade. President Ruto questioned the necessity of involving the US currency in trade activities between the two nations, as he expressed Kenya’s support for the pan-African payment and settlement system spearheaded by Afreximbank. The Kenyan President clarified that the intention is not to oppose the US dollar, but to promote the ease of doing business. He suggested that purchases made from the United States can be settled in dollars, while transactions with Djibouti can be conducted using local currencies. The president expressed commitment to fostering greater economic integration within Africa and reducing reliance on external currencies for regional trade.


Weah questions Boakai’s credibility

President George Weah has questioned the leadership ability of his main rival for the presidency, former Vice President Joseph Boakai. Weah believes that Boakai is a failed politician who has nothing to offer the Liberian people after squandering his opportunities for the 12 years he served as vice president. The President, while addressing a crowd of supporters at his party headquarters in Congo Town, claimed that Boakai’s mantra of coming to ‘rescue’ the country is questionable when his administration has achieved so much — some of which — he says the former vice president had criticized for nothing. “What are they coming to rescue when they told you that they squandered their opportunity?” Weah asked on 13 June.  “What are they coming to do when they said that free education and building roads is not the right thing to do? Ask them, what you are coming to do”.

“We are the change. They are not. Remember we all stood on the ground, and they walked away,” Weah said. “Because we believe in the doctrine of saving our people so we stayed right here and here we are today and here we will be tomorrow, and we will be victorious”. Weah’s reference to Boakai having squandered his opportunity cites a statement made by the former vice president during the 2017 presidential debate, in which he claimed that the Unity Party government under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf — whom he served as vice president — would have done a lot but failed because opportunities “were squandered”. Both men are contesting the presidency come 10 October. Boakai has been criticizing the President who he claimed is “corrupt and unfit to be president.”

Sierra Leone

ECOWAS election observers to be deployed ahead of general election

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission is deploying 95 election observers to the Presidential and Parliamentary elections in Sierra Leone being held on 24 June. A statement on Wednesday said: “The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Alieu Touray, has approved the deployment of 95 election observers (long and short-term – LTOs/STOs) to observe the 24th June Presidential and Parliamentary elections in Sierra Leone”. According to the statement, this is in line with provisions of Articles 12 to 14 of the 2001 regional Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance on assistance to member states holding elections. The statement also disclosed that ECOWAS has provided Sierra Leone with US$500,000 financial support for the elections.

The Election Observation Mission (EOM) will be led by Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, a former ECOWAS Commission president and special representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the UN Office in West Africa and the Sahel.  Ansumana Ceesay, former ECOWAS representative in Liberia and Guinea-Bissau will serve as deputy head of Mission. The mission will be assisted by an ECOWAS technical team to be led by Ambassador Abdel-Fatau Musah, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security. According to the statement released, “The 15 LTOs, who depart for Freetown on 15th June, will be led by Serigne Mamadou Ka, Acting Head of the ECOWAS Election Assistance Division (EAD). The team comprises experts in election administration, gender, conflict management, security, legal and constitutional issues, and the media”.


Government begins construction of Agricultural Mechanized Center 

President, Faure Gnassingbé has laid the first stone for the Kpalimé Regional Agricultural Mechanization Center (CRMA) in Tové. Equipped with modern tools and equipment, the CRMA of Kpalimé will streamline agricultural production processes, and consequently increase arable land and productivity in the West Plateaux region. The Agricultural Services Center in Kpalimé will also be a regional one-stop shop for Togolese farmers, offering easy access to quality agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, seeds, and agrochemicals. Additionally, the centre will provide local agronomic services and advice, enabling farmers to benefit from personalized support to enhance their agricultural practices.

One essential component of the centre will be the production of fertilizers tailored to the specific needs of soils and crops, facilitated by the availability of a Smart Blender. This technology will allow farmers to obtain customized fertilizer blends to optimize crop and soil nutrition and improve yields. Agricultural machinery and irrigation equipment will also be made available to farmers, with a mechanical workshop for preventive and corrective maintenance of the machines. The project in Kpalimé stems from the Togo Regional Agricultural Producers Forum (FoPAT) that was held between January and April 2023. It will accelerate agricultural modernization in Togo.

Ivory Coast

Heavy rain and floods threaten cocoa mid-crop

Heavy rain flooded some plantations in lowlands last week, Ivory Coast’s main cocoa region, threatening the April-to-September mid-crop, farmers reported on Monday. Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is in its rainy season, which runs officially from April to mid-November. In the southern and western regions, farmers said two consecutive weeks of rainfall had damaged access to plantations, making it difficult to get beans out of the bush. Farmers added they feared buyers would refuse to buy beans in the coming weeks as the weather was regularly overcast and it was difficult to dry beans properly. “The rains were very heavy. We now need enough sunshine because the plantations in the lowlands have been flooded”, said Desire Mea, who farms near the western region of Soubre, where 177.3 millimetres (6.98 inches) fell last week, 120.3 mm (4.74 inches) above the five-year average.

In the southern region of Agboville, where 157.7 mm (6.21 inches) fell last week, 95.7 mm (3.77 inches) above the average, and in the eastern region of Abengourou, which recorded 125.8 mm (4.95 inches), 70.3 mm (2.77 inches) above the average, farmers said they feared that beans would rot in the bush as drying conditions have not been good for two weeks. Similar views came from the southern region of Agboville, where rainfall was well above the average last week. In the centre-western region of Daloa and in the central region of Yamoussoukro, where rains were below average, and in the central region of Bongouanou, where rains were above average, farmers welcomed a drier spell, which would improve growing and drying conditions. “The rains have slowed, and we’ve had enough sunshine. This will help the cocoa”, said Aman Koffi, who farms near Daloa, where 26.8 mm (1.06 inches) fell last week, 3.6 mm (0.14 inch) below the average. Average temperatures ranged from 25.4 to 29.2 degrees Celsius (77.7 to 84.6 F) in Ivory Coast last week. SOURCE: REUTERS


Ouagadougou receives Sédiko Douka

The new ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalisation Commissioner Sédiko Douka will pay a working visit to Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to revitalize the ECOWAS Water Resources Coordination Centre (WRCC). The visit is Commissioner Sédiko Douka’s first to the ECOWAS Water Resources Coordination Centre (WRCC) since his appointment as Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalisation, to which the WRCC is attached. The purpose of the visit was to meet staff and take stock of their working conditions first hand. Addressing the staff of the centre, including young graduates benefiting from the annual immersion programme in ECOWAS institutions and student interns, the Commissioner gave a detailed presentation on the ECOWAS Commission which, following the institutional reform of 2021, moved from a Commission with 15 statutory appointees to seven, and five departments headed by five commissioners.

The management team has been tasked with achieving the new objectives of ECOWAS, particularly interconnectivity, which is an essential catalyst for regional integration, through the implementation of physical infrastructure programmes and projects to ensure the visibility of ECOWAS. There is a need to change the limited perception of most Community citizens, which reduces the operations of ECOWAS to political and security matters. Regarding the smooth running of the WRCC, and with the notable lack of staff to manage programmes and projects, the Commissioner indicated that the recruitment process had already begun following internal publications. The Commissioner also recommended that staff of the centre work together with the other ECOWAS special agencies to learn from their working methods, particularly regarding the recruitment of consultants, to ensure the rapid implementation of programmes and projects. The centre has its own website and regularly liaises with cross-cutting ECOWAS directorates such as Human Resources to ensure that staff benefit from training and capacity-building programmes; Finance for budget execution; General Administration for procurement needs; and the Directorate of Strategic Planning for monitoring and evaluation.


Archives destroyed during unrest at Cheikh Anta Diop University

Students from Dakar’s Cheikh Anta Diop University are attempting to rescue some 200,000 university documents that were burnt during the deadly protests following the two-year prison sentence handed down to opponent Ousmane Sonko. One week after the end of the unrest that shook Senegal, the country is still counting its losses. Volunteers and staff from Dakar’s Cheikh Anta Diop University are trying to salvage material out of some 200,000 documents in the university archives. Youths armed with Molotov cocktail allegedly set ablaze the building.

An archivist and documentalist at the Faculty of Arts, Abdourakhmane Kounta,  said “…. until proven otherwise, students deemed it necessary to burn down the archives of the Faculty of Letters and Humanities, a despicable result, I’m short of words”. Cities across Senegal were plunged into chaos after the jail term was handed to opposition leader Ousmane Sonko. His supporters claim he was framed. The Cheikh Anta Diop University archives included documents spanning the period 1957 to 2010. The destroyed files are mainly student registration forms, photos, birth certificates, report cards and theses.


Opposition leader Fru dies at 81

John Fru Ndi, one of the historic opponents of Cameroon’s long time ruling President Paul Biya, died late Monday evening in Yaoundé at the age of 81 “following a long illness”, according to his party, the Social Democratic Front (SDF). He was the founder and president of the party he created in 1990. Born in the English-speaking region of Cameroon on 7 July 1941, in Bamenda in the country’s northwest, Fru Ndi ran against Biya three times in the presidential elections of 1992, 2004 and 2011.

Reports of his critical state of health had been circulating in recent months. He was said to have undergone surgery in a Swiss hospital, but after several months abroad returned to Cameroon. In his absence, he handed over the presidency of his party to his vice-president, Joshua Osih.


Kigali signs agreement to host African Medicines Agency

The Rwandan government and the African Union Commission (AUC) on Saturday concluded agreements for the establishment of the headquarters of the first ever-African Medicines Agency in Kigali. On 10 June, Rwanda signed an agreement with the African Union to host the headquarters of the African Medicines Agency in Kigali. The signing comes just a few days after the Rwandan authorities officially agreed to host the AMA’s headquarters on their territory. In 2019, the African countries adopted the treaty establishing the Agency, which came into force in 2021. Its creation is part of the African Union’s strategy to reduce the continent’s dependence on pharmaceutical products supplied by foreign countries. Africa imports 97% of the pharmaceutical products it needs.

The agency should regulate and harmonize this market on the continent, encourage production in Africa and counter the traffic in counterfeit medicines. For Minata Samaté Cessouma, AU Commissioner for Health, Africa must prepare for other pandemics after Covid-19, and the agency’s objective will be to propose “African solutions”. More than four years after the adoption in 2019 of the treaty establishing the African Medicines Agency, this is a first step towards making this new African Union body operational, according to the Rwandan Minister of Health, Sabin Nsanzimana. Staff recruitment will be discussed in ten days’ time, again in Kigali, during the second extraordinary session of the 23 States that have ratified the treaty establishing the agency.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *