Africa This Week 112122: Ghana’s Economic Crisis, Tunisia’s Sfax Protest, South Africa’s Power Outage, and Others
Ghana’s minister of finance, Kenneth Ofori-Atta, defended himself on Friday against accusations that he is unfit as Ghana’s minister of finance, while also apologising to Ghanaians for the country’s current economic crisis. Ofori-Atta had earlier been summoned with an inquiry from the country’s lawmakers for his financial management, as the government came under increasing pressure and criticism for the disdainful economic crisis, despite Ghana being a top cocoa, gold, oil, and gas producer. To curtail the effects of the crisis, Ghana’s government has been in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a possible $3 billion in credit loans. However, the country’s parliament set up a committee last week to investigate opposition allegations that he has been benefiting from Ghana’s economic woes through illegal payments and unethical contracts, among other charges. But the minister denied saying he was concerned about the West African country’s woes.
On Thursday, over 1,000 people protested in Tunisia’s second-largest city, Sfax, where an ongoing garbage crisis has been made worse by a landfill fire that has contaminated the city’s air. Since the capacity of the available dump sites has been reached, Sfax’s streets have been clogged with trash for months, with residents forced to burn their refuse. This has caused protesters to gather in front of the provincial government offices, chanting, “Sfax is neglected; garbage is eating it up in every street.” Citing the efforts made by the government to downplay the risks associated with a landfill fire, the protester also called for the resignation of Sfax’s governor, Fakher Fakhfakh. This is not the first time in the history of Tunisia. There were numerous protests against trash on the streets and sidewalks in Sfax, a significant economic hub with a population of one million people, in 2021. During a protest, a 35-year-old man was suffocated by tear gas and died as a result.
A state-owned electricity provider in South Africa, Eskom, has warned that the country should expect severe power outages as a result of its increased load shedding. Rolling blackouts have been occurring throughout the nation for a number of years, and load shedding is frequently used to regulate supplies. On Friday, the electricity supplier announced the transition from stage three to stage four, stating that “changes in the phases of load shedding could be more erratic” and that it may remain at this level permanently. The load-shedding process has eight stages. South Africans may expect outages when the country moves to Stage 4, either 12 times over the course of four days for two hours at a time or 12 times over the course of eight days for four hours at a time. Residents can anticipate going without power for up to 12 hours each day at the highest stage of load shedding, stage eight.
Due to legal and environmental reasons, Algeria has banned the importation and production of diesel vehicles. The country’s automakers are now compelled by law to begin producing at least one line of electric vehicles if they have been in business for five years or more. Two years ago, the Algerian government outlawed the importation of assembly line kits, leading to the massive prosecution and incarceration of several car industry moguls for fraud and money laundering. These stringent importation restrictions resulted in a national car shortage and an unprecedentably large surge in their prices. Meanwhile, a 2019 report has confirmed that Algeria has 3.98 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per person, which is over half of South Africa’s 7.51 metric tonnes per person, but the US estimation of 14.67 metric tonnes per person in carbon dioxide emissions outplaces both nations.
In a combat mission against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan rebel group, the Ugandan army has confirmed that it will send about 1,000 troops before the end of the month to the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern Ituri region, alongside Congolese forces. The soldiers being sent are part of the East African force being tasked with tackling some of the 100 different rebel groups based in the eastern region of the country. A military spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Felix Kulaigye, said they have been in training since June in Uganda’s western district of Kiruhura. However, neighbouring Kenya had earlier sent its second group of soldiers to the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to join the regional force. In recent weeks, the M23 rebel organisation has been moving closer to the province seat, Goma town. The most recent battle has resulted in thousands of people being displaced.
As part of a measure to make the capital a “green city,” the governor of Kenya’s Nairobi County, Governor Johnson Sakaja, has revealed plans to import palm trees from Malaysia. He also added that a “greening” initiative—a tree planting programme for unemployed youths—will also be introduced. In collaboration with Kenya Forest Services, he said the environmental programme would grant the young participants Sh2,400 ($20; £17) every week. However, the initiative has caused the governor to face much criticism. Many Kenyans have questioned why Kenya can’t just plant its own trees instead of importing them from the southeast Asian country.
Following Senegal’s request for a credit extension to January 10, 2023, the International Monetary Fund’s board has approved that Senegal should be given time to complete credit and policy reviews. In a statement released by the organisation on Thursday, the request, approved on Nov. 15, concerns an 18-month standby arrangement and an arrangement under the standby credit facility (SBA/SCF). The SBA/SCF was approved in June 2021 with special drawing rights (SDR) of $453 million. This was followed by an additional SDR 129.44 million approved in June 2022. The extension was approved, however, one day before an IMF staff visit to Senegal.
The effort to restructure the Security Council, the U.N.’s most potent body, has recently been considered at the General Assembly. Discussions on increasing the number of member states in the council, permanent members’ use of veto power, and efforts to make the council more inclusive with greater representation from Africa and tiny states were the main topics of contention. A permanent member of the council and Chinese ambassador, Zhhang Jun, opined that a historical injustice to Africa must sincerely be addressed if the UN truly intends to boost the representation and voice of emerging nations. Meanwhile, the failure of the Security Council to adopt a legally binding resolution addressing Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine and its violations of the U.N. Charter because of Russia’s veto power has put a spotlight on the growing global divisions, the future of the United Nations, and calls for U.N. reforms.
Due to the continued detention of 46 Ivorian soldiers who have been accused of being mercenaries, Ivory Coast has announced plans to gradually withdraw its military contingent from the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali. This was contained in a letter sent to the UN secretary-general last week and circulated on Tuesday. The letter indicated that Ivory Coast would not replace its personnel in MINUSMA when the current group rotates out in August. Ivory Coast had 857 personnel serving in Mali as of June. Meanwhile, earlier negotiations over the release of the Ivorian soldiers arrested at the Bamako airport on their arrival in July have been indecisive. Though three female soldiers have been released, the others remain in Mali’s custody.