Africa This Week 10922: Kenya-Ethiopia Bilateral Cooperation, Nigeria’s Oil Subsidy, WHO’s Africa Sucuide Prevention Campaign, And More

A government agency announced on Friday that the former South African President, Jacob Zuma, has been released following the completion of his prison term for contempt of court. Zuma was given a 15-month term last year after refusing to comply with requests to take part in a corruption investigation. On July 7 of last year, when he turned himself in to begin his sentence, his outraged followers rushed to the streets and unleashed the worst violence South Africa had seen in years. However, in a statement released following Zuma’s release, he thanked his supporters, expressed his relief at being liberated, and thanked his supporters. In September 2021, Zuma received a medical parole release. But the supreme court overturned the parole judgment in December and mandated that he be sent back to prison. Zuma challenged the decision and was allowed to remain on parole pending the outcome.

In what happened to be his first visit to Ethiopia after being elected, Kenyan President William Ruto on Thursday met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to discuss bilateral cooperation and deepen the economic and strategic ties between Kenya and Ethiopia. It is to be recalled that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took part in the inauguration ceremony of President William Ruto in Nairobi on September 13, 2022. As Ethiopia and Kenya are two nations with a history of friendship and cooperation based on shared interests, as the conflict between Ethiopian forces and the Tigray People Liberation Front intensifies, it is expected to dominate the conversation between the two leaders.

Muhammadu Buhari, the president of Nigeria, has met with the survivors of the March train attack in the northwest of the nation, where people were killed and several were abducted. A statement from a military committee announced on Thursday that a team had achieved the release and taken custody of passengers, though it did not specify how they were rescued. As the nation is warming up for its general elections in February, which will see the replacement of President Muhammadu Buhari, a former army general, Nigerians are very concerned about the security situation. The Kaduna train attack was one of several significant occurrences this year that highlighted the difficulty Nigeria’s security personnel are confronting. In July, affiliates of the Islamic State group made a daring raid on a jail that caused a military humiliation barely 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Buhari’s presidential palace in the city of Abuja. This incident, the first significant attack near the capital since 2014, proved terrorists were able to pose a threat outside of their northeastern stronghold. Officials are growing more concerned that militants are collaborating with gangs of bandits in the northwest on pragmatism rather than ideological grounds.

After a sharp decline in July, sugar shipments from Uganda have increased. According to the country’s central bank, the lack of cane led to a 58% decrease in Uganda’s sugar exports for the month of July. The bank reports that the nation’s sugar exports decreased to 16,000 tonnes in July from over 27,000 tonnes in June. The Senior Manager of Outgrowers, Sugar Corporation Uganda Limited, Robert Olego, said Uganda’s economy has opened and consumption has gone high, but the supply of sugarcane is less because people did not plant in 2020, 2019 and 2021. It is a perennial crop that takes 16–18 months to mature. It takes time. Fluctuating prices of fertilizers, pesticides, mounting expenses of land hire and even debts have also forced sugarcane farmers to abandon their farms. Even if more sugar is needed for export, there isn’t enough for domestic consumption either. Due to this, sugar prices have had to increase on store shelves. The government has, however, assured that this will only last a short time.

A year after the concept was announced during a French-African Summit, a conference funded by France to encourage democracy among young people in Africa has been launched this Friday in South Africa. The Innovation Foundation for Democracy (FIDEMO) will be based at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. The Cameroonian intellectual and man behind the idea, Achille Mbembe, said he wants to create new tools that enable the country to reimagine a free and enriching relationship with France. Mbembe said the foundation is an African institution for Africa, to revitalise democracy in Africa and to promote necessary dialogue between Africa and the rest of the world. The NGO has been given initial funding of 50 million euros over five years, a sum shared by the main office in South Africa, two regional offices on the Continent and another office in Marseille, in southern France.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday confirmed plans to remove a costly petroleum subsidy due to foreseeable deep revenue shortfalls. He confirmed this during the presentation of his final budget as president of Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari said that despite the fact that petrol subsidies have been a recurring and controversial public policy issue in Nigeria since the early eighties, their current fiscal impact has clearly shown that the policy is unsustainable. Buhari presented a record 20.51 trillion naira ($47.4 billion) budget for 2023, with nominal spending up 18.4 percent from this year. However, with inflation currently at more than 20% and forecasted at 17.16% in the budget for next year, there will be little, if any, change in real terms. Buhari said Nigeria’s economy is projected to grow 3.7 percent in 2023, up marginally from the 3.55 percent rate expected this year. In February 2022, Nigerians will go to the polls to elect a successor to Buhari, who will leave the seat of the presidency after leading Africa’s most populous nation for eight years. The next president will have to deal with a number of pressing challenges as Nigeria’s economy struggles, its essential oil production is at record lows, and insecurity is a major issue.

The Kenyan telecommunication giant Safaricom announced on Thursday that it had signed a deal to provide a mobile money transfer service in Ethiopia, making it the first private telecom operator in Africa’s second most populous country. The deals were announced as Kenya’s new president, William Ruto, visited Ethiopia and held talks with Mr. Abiy. One important component of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s economic reform program was the Ethiopian government’s announcement last year that it intended to eliminate the state monopoly in the telecoms industry. With Safaricom’s arrival in the tightly regulated nation of more than 110 million people, Ethio Telecom’s monopoly in Ethiopia is now broken. Following successful testing in 10 other locations, Safaricom has now launched its network and services in the capital Addis Abeba, according to a statement from the Kenyan telecoms firm. Safaricom’s network will offer 4G data, voice, and SMS services between Safaricom Ethiopia and Ethio Telecom customers while “the rollout of the national network will continue to reach an additional 14 cities by April 2023.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Thursday the launch of a suicide prevention campaign in Africa, a region it says has the highest rate of suicide deaths in the world. The prevention campaign was launched on World Mental Health Day, October 10. Conducted on social networks, it “aims to reach 10 million people in the region,” according to WHO Africa. The aim of the campaign, according to WHO, is to “raise awareness among the general public and mobilize the support of governments and decision-makers to give more attention and funding to programs dedicated to mental health. A statement released by the WHO regional office for Africa revealed that about 11 people per 100,000 die in the African region, which is higher than the global average of nine cases of suicide per 100,000 people. Studies show that in Africa, for each completed suicide, there are an estimated 20 attempted ones.

Nigeria’s Court of Appeal has on Friday ordered public university lecturers to end their strike for better working conditions in the next seven days before it will hear their appeal against a ruling by a lower court. The lecturers, who have been striking since February, last month appealed a lower court ruling ordering them to suspend their action. Three judges of the Court of Appeal said the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) should first obey last month’s ruling by the National Industrial Court before they would hear the lecturers’ appeal. President Muhammadu Buhari, however, said in a budget speech on Friday that the government was dismayed by the strike and had set aside 470 billion naira ($1.1 billion) for “revitalization and salary enhancements in the tertiary institutions” next year.

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

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