This Week in Africa 112922: DRC 2023 Election, Political Tension in Ivory Coast, Sao Tomé and Principe Coup Attempt, and Others
The Democratic Republic of Congo has announced that it will hold its general elections on December 20, 2023. This was announced by the country’s electoral body at a ceremony in Kinshasa on Saturday. CENI highlighted several challenges in the country that might likely hinder their activities, including the logistics of transporting ballot materials thousands of miles, health concerns about Ebola and COVID-19, and unrest that has forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes. But the body said the government has pledged to stick to the timetable in the country, saying the challenges will all be tackled. All candidates in the country are expected to be announced in October next year, with a final list due in November. The present president, Tshisekedi, is expected to run again, and one likely challenger is Martin Fayulu, who claimed victory in the 2018 poll.
A former Ivory Coast militia leader, Charles Ble Goude, who was acquitted of crimes against humanity with respect to his role in the country’s civil war, returned from exile on Saturday as politicians sought to reconcile after years of conflict. During his return, hundreds of supporters sang and danced in the Yopougon suburb of Abidjan while wearing clothes printed with Ble Goude’s image to show him some solidarity. The return of the political stakeholder after his acquittal by the International Criminal Court in 2019 forms part of President Alassane Ouattara’s intended political reforms, which he hopes will reduce political tension ahead of elections in 2025. The majority of Ivory Coast’s recurring conflicts stem from a brief civil war that erupted after former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to Ouattara in the 2010 general election.Tensions have been simmering since, and at least 20 people died in clashes when Ouattara decided to run again in the 2020 elections.
Ghana’s finance minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, said on Thursday that the country will freeze the hiring of public and civil servants and extend a moratorium on government car purchases and non-essential travel in order to tackle the recurring debt crisis the country is facing. While presenting the nation’s 2023 budget in parliament, he also said Ghana has agreed on some strategies that will help in debt management with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley, an investment firm, predicted that Ghana would restructure both its internal and external debt on Thursday. He claimed that Ghana’s capacity to manage its national debt, which rose to $48.9 billion this year, was being “seriously affected” by the depreciation of the country’s cedi.
TransNamib, Namibia’s state-owned railway company, has announced a move to shift coal exports from Botswana off the road and onto rail by early next year, potentially doubling exports via Walvis Bay port. Land-locked Botswana has sought an alternative way to export its coal as disruptions to South Africa’s railway lines impact the commodity’s route to Richards Bay port, the largest coal terminal in Africa. Demand for coal from Botswana, South Africa, and other African countries has increased since the European Union imposed sanctions on Russian coal. Those looking to profit in the region, however, face significant logistical challenges, with many currently taking the fossil fuel hundreds of kilometres to ports, which is a costly and inefficient process. Trans Namib intends to move approximately 50,000 metric tonnes of coal per month from trucks to trains at Gobabis, a town in eastern Namibia 110 kilometres from the Botswana border and 600 kilometres from Walvis Bay.
According to reports from the prime minister and West Africa’s regional bloc, Sao Tome and Principe authorities thwarted a coup attempt on Friday. The Gulf of Mexico’s military barracks came under attack shortly after midnight, Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada told a press briefing aired on private broadcaster Radio Somos Todos Primos. He said four attackers were “neutralized” and detained, and the National Assembly’s former president, Delfin Neves, was arrested on Friday morning.
A spokesperson from organisations working to protect against the risk of drought said on Thursday that Senegal is due to receive around 330,000 pounds ($400,500) in insurance payments from them. The insurance taken out by the Start Network group of humanitarian nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) was triggered on Monday at the end of the rainy season, in anticipation of drought next year. The money and other assistance, like food supplements and enriched flour for lactating women and children under 5, will likely be released by the end of the year to tackle food insecurity in Senegal. Aid organisations and governments are working with insurers to create policies that release money more quickly after natural disasters.
Following power outages and widespread blackouts in Kenya earlier this month, Kenya Power (KPLC.NR) said on Thursday that it had restored power to some affected areas of the country and was working to restore power to the remaining areas.East Africa’s sole electricity distributor blamed the outage on a “system disturbance” and said it was working to “restore normalcy within the shortest time possible.” The company purchases the bulk of its power from Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KEGN.NR).
According to the World Health Organization, about 15.3% of the world’s blind population lives in Africa, and they often lack the support needed to succeed in school and everyday life. But a Nigerian startup called Vinsighte is leveraging technology to help the visually impaired, with several products including “smart” reading glasses that convert text to audio. The company supplies its products to schools and institutions and estimates it has reached about 5,000 people.
A statement from Uganda’s ministry of health stated that the country has recorded a drop in the number of new Ebola cases, with some districts going for at least two weeks without registering new infections. The development is a major sign the East African country is having a measure of success in efforts to combat its latest outbreak of the deadly hemorrhagic fever disease, more than two months after it was declared. The ministry’s spokesperson, Emmanuel Ainebyoona, said that though central Uganda’s Mubende district was where the outbreak was originally declared on Sept. 20, it had now gone for at least 16 days without a new case, including in the country’s capital city, Kampala. Unlike the more prevalent Zaire strain, which spread during recent outbreaks in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sudan strain of Ebola, which is currently circulating in Uganda, lacks a proven vaccine.