Africa This Week 3922: Kenya’s Election Controversy, South African-US Developmental Collaboration, Botswana-Scatec Power Partnership, And Others

Following controversies surrounding the recently concluded Kenyan elections, the country’s Supreme Court continued hearing arguments in challenges to the presidential election on Friday. Earlier this month, deputy President William Ruto was declared the winner with just over 50% of the vote. The peaceful election turned chaotic in the final minutes before the declaration when the electoral commission split and a majority of commissioners and party agents said they couldn’t support the result. Defeated opposition candidate Raila Odinga is among those seriously challenging the results and alleging a range of problems with the election process. Odinga asserts that the process was marked by criminal subversion and is seeking that the outcome be nullified and a new vote be ordered. It asserts that the commission chairman, Wafula Chebukati, who declared Ruto the winner, “set out to subvert the sovereign will of the people of Kenya and overthrow the constitutional order” by declaring results that had not been completely tallied and verified. The petition also alleges manipulation of results forms and computer data which led to the difference in the close election in which Odinga received almost 49% of the votes. The court must give its ruling on all challenges by the end of Monday.

The South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, and U.S. President Joe Biden will hold talks at the White House on Sept. 16 to discuss trade, investment, climate and energy, the White House said on Thursday. According to a statement by press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, the two presidents will reaffirm the importance of an enduring partnership and work together to address regional and global challenges. Apart from trade and investment, officials said Biden and Ramaphosa are expected to focus their talks on infrastructure, climate and energy, public health and South Africa’s leading role on the continent, officials said. In a UN vote to denounce Russia’s action, Ramaphosa has refrained from criticizing Russia in favor of advocating for a mediated settlement. In December, Biden also intends to hold a conference of American and African leaders.

Following climate change and a harsh summer that resulted in a significant decrease in water reserves and rainfall levels, Moroccan authorities have decided, among other things, to prohibit the use of drinking water to irrigate green spaces and wash cars. In a statement released by the government, the decision is said to be aimed at preventing the uncontrolled use of drinking water for any other purpose apart from human consumption. According to figures from Morocco’s ministry of equipment in 2021, the reserves in the dams have gone down by 80%. Agriculture accounts for 80% of water consumption in the country, and poor practices like the overexploitation of groundwater have stretched resources thin. Reports have revealed that by 2030, Morocco is aiming to build 100 large dams, 1,000 small dams, and 20 seawater desalination plants by the year 2030.

The Tunisian army has killed three terrorists from a group associated with the Islamic State organization. According to a statement from the Ministry of Defense on Friday, the three terrorists, members of the group “Soldiers of the Caliphate”, were killed in the morning during an army operation in the area of Mount Salloum, near Kasserine, a town close to the border with Algeria. Authorities had earlier reported that on August 12, two Tunisian soldiers were slightly wounded in a gun battle with suspected jihadists in the same area. Tunisian authorities have made significant progress in recent years in the fight against terrorists. The last major attack by jihadists against security forces was in 2016 in the southeastern city of Ben Guerdane, in which 13 security forces and seven civilians died, along with 55 terrorists.

Sasol, a South African petrochemical company, announced on Friday that it was collaborating with Itochu Corp. of Japan to investigate the creation of green hydrogen and green ammonia projects for shipping fuel and electricity generation. Sasol is currently the largest producer of coal-based fuels and chemicals in the world, but as part of its decarbonization strategy, it is moving away from this source of energy. In a statement released by Sasol, the two firms were said to have signed a memorandum of understanding during the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 8) held in Tunisia on August 27 and 28. Green hydrogen has been hailed as a major carbon-free energy source for power generation, transportation fuel, and fertilizer production. Green hydrogen is created by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable energy sources like solar and wind. Sasol said green ammonia, produced from green hydrogen, is also a key enabler of net-zero fertilizer manufacturing and can be used as a zero-carbon bunkering fuel in the marine sector and for co-firing in thermal power generation.

The main opposition party in Angola has petitioned the constitutional court to declare last week’s election, in which the MPLA was declared the winner, invalid. The People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) was proclaimed the winner of the most fiercely contested election since the country’s independence from Portugal in 1975, continuing the MPLA’s nearly five decades of uninterrupted dominance and granting President Joao Lourenco a second term. According to the commission, over 51% of voters supported the ex-Marxist MPLA, it said. The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), its longtime opponent and former civil war enemy, took about 44%. Citing the discrepancies between the commission’s count and the party’s own tally, UNITA has repeatedly said that it does not recognise the results of the vote and that various complaints have been filed with the electoral commission. On the other hand, the commission has denied any wrongdoing and insists the election was fair and transparent.

According to an announcement made on Wednesday by Botswana authorities, a 50 MW solar plant will be built by the state-owned Botswana Power Corporation. This will be the country’s first utility-scale renewable energy project as Botswana works to increase its clean energy production and power supplies. The solar power plant will be financed, built, owned, and operated by Scatec under the terms of a Power Purchase Agreement signed on Wednesday. Scatec will recover its investment by selling electricity to BPC over a 25-year period. The factory will be 400 kilometers to the east of Gaborone’s city, close to the mining town of Selebi-Phikwe. Currently, Botswana does not have any large-scale solar power generation and its 600 MW national energy demand is predominantly met by state-owned coal-fired plants. Endowed with over 212 billion tonnes of coal, fossil fuels are likely to dominate power generation in the near future, but Botswana has a target of at least 18% of national production being generated from renewables by 2030.

The Tunisian Prime Minister and Benin President have praised the qualities of their countries to encourage French CEOs, gathered at the national confederation of French employers’ annual meeting in Paris, to invest in Africa. Najla Bouden, Tunisian Prime Minister, called for more investment during her speech at the meeting, saying that Europe would benefit from betting on Africa now through ESG (environmental, social, and governance criteria, Eds.), which are attracting more and more international liquidity, especially since the pandemic, with 26 billion dollars dedicated to renewable energy alone in 2021. On the other hand, Beninese President Patrice Talon, a former company director himself, while praising Benin’s development model and assets for foreign investors, said his country has set up a special economic zone where many Asians have found it worthwhile to invest in. He further urged French entrepreneurs to follow suit, citing reasons of a special emotional attachment to France.

A statement released by Burkina Faso’s presidency has revealed that the head of Burkina Faso’s ruling military junta, Lt. Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, will travel to Ivory Coast on Monday for his first official trip abroad since coming to power in January. On Monday, Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba will meet with his Ivorian counterpart, Alassane Ouattara, and then return to Ouagadougou. Lieutenant Colonel Damiba had not left the country since he assumed control of the government on January 24 during a putsch. Nearly 600 kilometers separate Burkina from Côte d’Ivoire, and hundreds of Burkinabe refugees have fled recent Islamist attacks on their nation to seek safety in northern Côte d’Ivoire, which has currently been less hit by the conflict. Burkina Faso is dealing with the violence of armed jihadist movements linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, which has resulted in thousands of deaths and around two million displaced people since 2015. The junta there has pledged to make the war against jihadists a priority.

Following the August 24 announcement by the Ethiopian army that it had shot down a plane loaded with weapons destined for the rebels in Tigray (north), which had “violated Ethiopian airspace” after flying over Sudan, the Sudanese foreign ministry summoned the Ethiopian ambassador, saying Ethiopia had shot down a plane from Sudanese airspace. This decision by Sudan was reached at a press conference in Khartoum on Monday on the resumption of hostilities in northern Ethiopia. Meanwhile, Ethiopia did not specify the origin of the aircraft or when it was shot down.

Writer, journalist, and legal researcher, Alafarika for Studies and Consultancy.

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