Africa This Week (08/06/2024)

Nigeria’s main labor unions, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), on Friday initiated an indefinite strike, shutting down the national electrical grid and disrupting flights nationwide. This action is in protest of the government’s failure to agree on a new minimum wage. The unions demand an increase from 30,000 naira ($20) to nearly 500,000 naira ($336) monthly, while the government has proposed 60,000 naira ($40). The unions argue that current wages are insufficient amidst soaring inflation and a cost-of-living crisis exacerbated by recent government reforms. The strike will continue until a new wage agreement is reached. The union however suspended the strike for a week after an emergency meeting with the government.

The African National Congress (ANC) lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since the end of apartheid, receiving just over 40% of votes in Wednesday’s election. This historic result signals a shift in South Africa’s political landscape, necessitating coalition talks for the ANC to retain power and reelect President Cyril Ramaphosa. Main opposition parties, including the Democratic Alliance (21%), the new MK Party (14%), and the Economic Freedom Fighters (9%), are potential coalition partners, but political dynamics remain complex. President Cyril Ramaphosa said he would invite other political parties to form a national unity government after losing its majority for the first time in the democratic era.

The head of the African Development Bank has reiterated that Africa requires quicker debt restructurings, more favorable lending terms, and a $25 billion replenishment for the Africa Development Fund to prevent a “lost decade,”. Adesina on Friday emphasized the slow progress of the G20’s Common Framework for debt restructuring, highlighting that Africa’s recovery from the pandemic and global interest rate hikes has been sluggish. Adesina noted that 22 African nations are at high risk of debt distress, with debt servicing costs skyrocketing from $17 billion in 2010 to $74 billion this year. He called for a faster process within the Common Framework and suggested expanding the Paris Club to include more diverse creditors to facilitate quicker resolutions.

Sudan’s army on Thursday vowed a “harsh response” to a recent attack by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on Wad al-Noura village in Gezira State, which pro-democracy activists say killed over 100 people. This attack is part of a series of RSF assaults on small villages since taking control of Wad Madani. Despite pleas for help, the army did not respond, drawing criticism from local activists. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and other UN officials condemned the attack and called for an investigation. The RSF and army have been in conflict since April 2023 over integration disputes, resulting in widespread violence and humanitarian crises across Sudan.

In another development, Spain requested to intervene in South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over actions in Gaza, announced Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares on Thursday. Spain aims to support the ICJ in enforcing measures, including ordering Israel to stop its military operations in Rafah, southern Gaza. This follows similar intervention requests from Ireland and Norway, which recently recognized a Palestinian state. Albares emphasized Spain’s commitment to international law and the role of the ICJ as the supreme legal body in the UN system. The ICJ’s order to halt Israel’s assault on Rafah is a response to South Africa’s accusations of genocide against Israel, which Israel denies, claiming self-defense against Hamas militants.

A new U.N. report released this week has revealed that 181 million children under 5, including many in northern Nigeria, live in severe food poverty. The report, released by UNICEF, defines severe food poverty as consuming nothing in a day or at most two out of eight essential food groups. Conflict, climate change, and rising food prices are major contributors, with Africa bearing one-third of the global burden. Despite some progress, such as reduced severe food poverty rates in West and Central Africa, malnutrition remains a critical issue. UNICEF’s initiatives in Nigeria focus on boosting nutrition through sustainable agriculture and home gardens, but challenges persist.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday visited Burkina Faso where he promised increased support to combat militant groups as part of Russia’s efforts to fill a perceived void left by Western partners. Lavrov highlighted Russian assistance in training Burkina Faso’s military and supplying equipment to bolster defense capabilities against terrorist threats. Amid Burkina Faso’s internal challenges, including extremist violence and political instability, Lavrov emphasized Russia’s readiness to back African nations seeking independence from what they perceive as neo-colonial influences. Following his visit to Burkina Faso, Lavrov proceeded to Chad, another nation grappling with humanitarian crises.

The U.S. Embassy in Congo on Monday expressed frustration over the lack of information and access to Americans detained following a recent coup attempt in the country. Congolese authorities have not shared details or granted consular access to the detained Americans, prompting concerns from families seeking confirmation of their loved ones’ well-being. The coup attempt, led by opposition figure Christian Malanga, resulted in the death of Malanga and several others, with Americans implicated in the incident. Despite requests from U.S. officials, Congolese authorities have not provided clarity on whether the detained Americans will appear in court. The fate of the detainees remains uncertain, with families anxiously awaiting updates on their condition. Amidst conflicting narratives about the Americans’ involvement, families assert their innocence, claiming they were unaware of the coup plans and were in Congo for leisure purposes.

Somalia this week won a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council marking a historic milestone for the war-torn nation, its first since the 1970s. To secure the seat, Somalia garnered overwhelming support in a General Assembly vote. Somalia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Ahmed Fiqi, emphasized the country’s readiness to assume its role on the global stage and contribute to peace-building efforts worldwide.

On Tuesday, Zambia requested an increase in its loan program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from $1.3 billion to $1.7 billion to address the impact of a severe drought. The IMF has indicated a staff-level agreement on the third review of Zambia’s Extended Credit Facility, paving the way for access to approximately $573 million upon approval by the IMF’s executive board. This marks the fourth disbursement under the facility. Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane views the staff-level agreement as a testament to Zambia’s commitment to restoring macroeconomic and debt sustainability within the framework of its IMF program.


Writer and researcher at Alafarika for Studies and Consultancy.

Similar Topics