Africa This Week 24922: African Leaders’ Participation at the UNGA, Mali’s 62nd Independence, Ghana’s Economic Growth, and Others

African leaders who participated in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York have spoken on how the destabilized global environment is affecting their respective nations, with food insecurity due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict as a priority. The presidents of Ghana, Nigeria, and Rwanda were among those speaking at Wednesday’s session on Ukraine, which included an address from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to implement a five-point “formula for peace” in order to end the fighting. However, many African leaders held to a more neutral position on the conflict, and their priorities focused on impacts affecting the continent. Speaking at the session, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana said, “Every bullet, every bomb, every shell that hits a target in Ukraine, hits our pockets and our economies in Africa.” He broadened his comments to critique the global financial system’s failure to secure access to needed funding in developing nations. President Alassane Ouattara also noted that just 17% of Ukrainian wheat exports have been destined for Africa, despite a July agreement that reopened ports for export. In all, a dozen African leaders addressed the UNGA during the session, highlighting the impacts of COVID-19 and climate change, as well as the Russia-Ukraine conflict and broader global insecurity.

The West African nation, Mali, on Thursday celebrated its 62nd anniversary of independence. The country’s leader, Colonel Assimi Goita, celebrated it by reviewing troops at a military parade to mark the occasion in the capital, Bamako. He was joined at the parade by the head of Guinea’s military junta, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya. Goita, who has been in charge since taking power in a coup two years ago, has failed to meet an international deadline for organizing new democratic elections and has faced international isolation since then. Meanwhile, human rights groups have accused the Malian army of carrying out the killings, but Malian authorities have refused a U.N. mission to investigate the violations in Mali.

On Tuesday, the Ugandan government confirmed an outbreak of the Ebola virus in the central district of Mubende, about 150 kilometers west of the capital Kampala. According to the incident manager, Kyobe Henry Bbosa, the epidemic appears to have started around the beginning of September when people started dying in the small village in the subcounty called Madudu. But health officials said the country would draw on its previous experience to counter the latest outbreak, citing that CVID treatment facilities would be transformed into Ebola management centers. Uganda has experienced previous outbreaks of the highly fatal disease. The last reported cases were in 2019, with at least five fatalities.

After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 health crisis, the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2022 has opened on Wednesday at Air Force Base Waterkloof in Pretoria, South Africa. The Aerospace and Defense (AAD) 2022 is an avenue for companies across the world to work together. Countries like the U.S., Belgium, and China will be present. Reiterating the importance of the event for the country, South African Minister of Defense, Thandi Modis, said it is very important because it helps to create jobs; he also said the initiative is one of the pillars on which the country can rest. However, unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, will have a high profile at this year’s exhibition, as they will for the first time be allowed to fly during the trade show at the Air Force Base in Pretoria. The aerospace and defense expo will run until Sunday, September 25th, with the first three days being trade days and the last two being air show days.

For the first time in twenty years, a Tanzanian film has been shortlisted for the Oscar Academy Award. The film Vuta N’kuvute, which means “hard struggle” in Swahili, was shortlisted in the “Best International Film” category at the 95th Academy Awards. Tanzania’s second appearance at the Academy Awards after Maangazi: The Ancient One in 2002 was released in Swahili and with a predominantly African cast. The film tells the story of a young Indian-Zanzibari woman whose romance blossoms on the back of a political revolt in the last days of British imperial rule. Earlier in September 2021, Vuta N’kuvute had made history by becoming the first Tanzanian feature film to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

Following government legal attempts to stop the lecturers from continuing their strike after both parties failed to resolve their differences, a Nigerian court has on Wednesday ruled that striking public university lecturers should immediately call off their strike. The strike, which has been over salary issues, has dragged on for seven months and disrupted classes during the process. The lecturers are demanding higher pay, and several negotiations with the government have not yielded any positive results, which forced President Buhari’s administration to approach the National Industrial Court. Strikes over working conditions by public university lecturers are not new in Nigeria and often go on for months. According to local media reports, the lecturers said their lawyers were already filing an appeal with which they will appeal the ruling of the National Industrial Court.

Ghana’s Statistical Service (GSS) has announced that the country’s economy grew by 4.8 percent, year-on-year, in the second quarter of this year, largely due to the manufacturing and crop and cocoa sectors. According to the statement, the provisional real quarterly Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate, including oil and gas, indicates an increase when compared to the 4.2 percent recorded in the same period last year. Without oil and gas (non-oil GDP), the growth rate for the period is estimated to be 6.2 percent when likened to the growth rate of 6.6 percent recorded in the second quarter of 2021. While speaking at a press conference yesterday, the Government Statistician, Professor Samuel Kobina Annim, also said the services sector recorded the highest growth rate of 5.2%, followed by the agriculture sector with a 4.6 percent growth rate and the industry sector with a 4.4% growth rate. The main sectors with more than 10 percent expansion in the quarter are education (13.2 percent); health (12.7 percent); and information and communication (12.4 percent).

Ethiopia’s Minister of Mines and Petroleum, Takele Uma, has recently revealed that the country’s contract with the Chinese company POLY-GCL, which has been working on oil exploration in Ethiopia, has been terminated. In a statement released, the Ministry laid forth a number of requirements for the Chinese-owned POLY-GCL Petroleum Group Holding Limited in a letter of ultimatum regarding its operations in the resource-rich Ogaden Basin in the Somali regional state. The Ministry informed the corporation that if it didn’t abide by the deadline, the PPSAs would be terminated “without the necessity for further notification.” Since 2013, POLY-GCL has been researching oil and gas in the Ogaden Basin. On June 28, 2018, in front of then-regional leaders and federal government representatives, it formally launched crude oil production tests in the Hilala oil fields. Under Prime Minister Abiy, it was hailed as a significant turning point in Ethiopia’s oil and gas development history. However, later in June of last year, the Ministry sent a warning letter to the company, citing its failures to adhere to the government’s plan.

Nigerian students on Monday protested the strike deadlock that has shut the country’s public universities for seven months, causing frustration for an estimated 2.5 million students. Defying armed security personnel in the commercial hub of Lagos, hundreds of students blocked a major road leading to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Nigeria’s busiest airport. Some flights were disrupted. They marched with placards and chanted songs urging the Nigerian government to carry out the demands of public university lecturers who have been on strike since February to demand improved working conditions. University strikes are common in Nigeria, with more than 100 public universities and an estimated 2.5 million students, but the latest is one of the longest in recent years. It was extended after talks between the lecturers and the government ended in deadlock. The National Association of Nigerian Students has, however, threatened to continue the protest for one week unless the industrial action is over.

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

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