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President Macron wants a ‘rethink’ of France’s military postures in Africa

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday he wanted a 'rethink of all our [military] postures on the African continent’, and had asked his ministers and army chiefs to work on it.
Macron made the comments as he was addressing French troops ahead of the July 14 Bastille Day parade in Paris.
French officials head to Niger on Friday to redefine the country’s strategy to fight Islamist militants in the Sahel as thousands of troops complete a withdrawal from Mali and concerns mount over the growing threat to coastal west African states. Read full story
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Chris Reese.)

Ivory Coast demands the immediate release of 49 soldiers arrested in Mali

Ivory Coast on Tuesday demanded the release of 49 of its soldiers arrested in Mali, an incident that may worsen tension between Mali's military rulers and other west African nations amid efforts to quell an Islamist insurgency and restore democratic rule.
The Ivorian soldiers were arrested on Sunday at Mali’s main international airport in the capital Bamako.
Mali’s military government said the troops arrived without permission, that some of their passports indicated non-military professions and that they gave differing versions of their mandate.
The junta said the soldiers would be considered mercenaries and charged as such, adding that Ivorian authorities were unaware of their arrival.
But Ivory Coast said on Tuesday that the soldiers were deployed as part of a security and logistics support contract signed with the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in Mali in July 2019, and it demanded their immediate release.
They were the eighth rotation sent to Mali under the convention and their mission order had been sent to both airport authorities and the junta before arrival, Ivory Coast’s national security council said in a statement.
The spokesperson for the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, Olivier Salgado, confirmed this information on Twitter.
Ivory Coast added that none of the soldiers carried arms or war munitions as they disembarked, but that a second plane contained arms for self-protection authorised by the UN.
Malian authorities did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Interim President Colonel Assimi Goïta said on Twitter that he had spoken by telephone with UN Secretary-General António Guterres and reiterated the importance of partner nations respecting Mali’s sovereignty.
The country is struggling to rein in an Islamist insurgency, which took root after an uprising and a coup in 2012, and has since spread to neighbouring countries, killing thousands and displacing millions across west Africa’s Sahel region and coastal states.
The military junta ruling Mali since August 2020 has been at odds with regional and international neighbours for failing to hold promised elections and delaying the return to constitutional rule.
(Reporting by Ange Aboa; Additional reporting by Fadima Kontao in Bamako; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Bate Felix and Mark Heinrich.)

A platform of hope: Creating compelling scenarios for the future of Africa

Evidence-based policymaking, good governance and capacity building in Africa and measuring progress towards development goals – this is what the African Futures modelling platform is set to achieve, according to panellists at Daily Maverick’s launch of the platform.
‘We are not just addressing yesterday’s problems, we are addressing today’s problems and we are addressing tomorrow’s problems,” Nardos Bekele-Thomas, CEO of development agency AUDA-NEPAD, told Daily Maverick Associate Editor Ferial Haffajee during the webinar, which was co-hosted by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).
Bekele-Thomas and others had gathered for the exclusive Daily Maverick launch of African Futures, a portal that plots the future of Africa through data modelling.
She was joined by Dr Jakkie Cilliers, founder of the ISS where he is head of the African Futures and Innovation (AFI) Programme, and Professor Jonathan Moyer, director of the Frederick S Pardee Centre for International Futures at the University of Denver in the US. The centre builds data and tools to analyse long-term development in the world.
African Futures is a product of the AFI Programme.
The launch of the quantitative and information-rich resource is timely, given that, within a year a new 10-year implementation plan working towards the Agenda 2063, a 50-year blueprint ambition to transform the African continent, must begin.
The platform not only maps the potential progress of countries towards the Agenda 2063 goals, but will be a crucial resource for evidence-based policymaking, good governance and capacity building.
“You wonder sometimes how the world has been planning to implement programmes without information which is so vital,” said Bekele-Thomas. “Scattered information doesn’t give a reality check of what is there [nor an understanding of] the needs of people at all levels.”
African Futures creates compelling scenarios for the future of Africa using climate scenarios, development goals and security modelling, among other tools. It also looks back at the past, reviewing the development and progress of African countries.
“Africa has a bright future if Africans get behind good governance, take responsibilities for the continent’s development and seize opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa in a recorded address for the launch. “The African Futures website will help us to imagine and work towards that bright future.”
The website covers a broad range of issues pivotal to Africa’s transformation – health, education, agriculture, technological innovation, manufacturing and infrastructure.
“We have to seize [this resource] because the [first] 10-year implementation plan of the Agenda 2063 is coming to an end ...

Doctors Without Borders runs mental health intervention in Zimbabwe camp

Many residents of Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge, Zimbabwe — home to nearly 15,000 refugees — have endured conflict, loss and trauma. A Doctors Without Borders mental health intervention is seeking to build resilience and healthy coping mechanisms among residents, through psychosocial and recreational activities. (Trigger warning: This article makes mention of sexual assault and rape.)
A Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières/MSF) mental health intervention at Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge, Zimbabwe, is building community resilience among those housed at the camp. The intervention, which began in January 2022, is set to run for two years.
Nearly 15,000 refugees reside at the camp. Many have fled conflict and unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), while others hail from countries such as Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia and Ethiopia, according to Doctors Without Borders.
In its first six months of operation, the mental health programme has seen a positive response among those living in the refugee camp, according to Janet Mukurumbira, the MSF mental health activity manager at camp.
Mukurumbira, a clinical psychologist, is responsible for defining, coordinating and monitoring all mental health-related activities that form part of the project.
Read in Daily Maverick: Refugees camp outside Pretoria UN offices demanding to be moved out of SA
“Our main aim as MSF is really to just try and reduce [the refugees’] suffering — trying to improve their coping mechanisms and build community resilience,” she said.
“For most of them, they may not realise that they have already gone through a lot, and they are keeping on. And if we can collectively hold on to that resilience, we might build and have a hopeful future.”
The team behind the intervention includes a psychologist and a health promotions officer, who does most of the community engagement work. Much of the support for the initiative, however, comes from the residents of the camp, with “supporters and champions” from within the community volunteering to expand and run aspects of the programme, according to Mukurumbira.
Participatory approach
The activities that form part of the mental health programme are not generated by Doctors Without Borders, but rather defined and listed by residents of the camp, explained Mukurumbira.
“What we did when we came in, we engaged the community population, sensitised them to our programme. and we also gave them an opportunity to suggest what kind of activities they would want to engage in,” she said.
“In this process, we identified community leaders who are well-structured people within the ...

Progress and setbacks on LGBT rights in Africa — an overview of the last year

When it comes to the rights of sexual and gender minorities in Africa, the past year has been a mixed bag. Of the 69 countries that criminalise same-sex relations, 33 are in Africa. Although the examples are few, there has been some progress.
June marks the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots over the treatment of LGBT people by New York City police, which was commemorated a year later with a protest march. In countries where it is possible, pride marches and parades are now ubiquitous, including in South Africa, which held its first in 1990.
Pride month is a time to reflect on progress but also ongoing challenges in advancing the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.
Many countries in Africa have poor reputations when it comes to LGBT rights. The anthropologist Zethu Matebeni has parodied this uniformly gloomy view in a piece entitled How Not to Write About Queer South Africa. But the same volume also highlights the ways in which sexual and gender minorities are marginalised by “African political, religious and traditional leaders”.
When it comes to the rights of sexual and gender minorities in Africa, the past year has been a mixed bag.
In the first half of 2021, instances of violence against LGBT people in Senegal were reported by rights groups there, while police in Kenya came under pressure to properly investigate the brutal murder of a non-binary lesbian in Karatina, north of Nairobi.
South Africa, notwithstanding strong legal protections, continues to battle violence directed against LGBT people. In 2021, at least 24 people were reportedly murdered in bias-motivated attacks. The Ministry of Justice is revising its policy and approach to combating systemic gender-based violence in the country.
Of the 69 countries that criminalize same-sex relations, 33 are in Africa. In most cases, these laws are remnants of colonial rule, and the vague wording of these prohibitions, such as “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” resonate with the decorum of that era. Although the examples are few, there has been some progress over the last year on the protection of LGBT rights in Africa.
In November, the Botswana Court of Appeal upheld a lower court decision to decriminalise consensual same-sex conduct. The court found that the Penal Code provisions outlawing “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” were unconstitutional as they violate the right to privacy, the right to liberty, security of person, and equal protection ...

Activists and researchers dismayed by IEA endorsement of tapping Africa’s natural gas

The International Energy Agency on Monday released a report that explores pathways for Africa’s energy system to evolve toward achieving development goals, infrastructure expansion, investment requirements, financing options and energy policy priorities.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) says in its new Africa Energy Outlook report that the projected impacts of climate change “pose major risks to Africa’s economic growth and its hopes of achieving stability and prosperity”.
However, the IEA explains, “Africa can shape its own future” and “efforts to develop its energy system can dovetail with those to jumpstart its industry, reduce its exposure to imports and create local employment footholds”.
The agency also outlines pathways to navigate the continent’s development in the context of increasingly urgent climate imperatives.
In the executive summary, the authors of the report explain that Africa is already facing more severe climate change than most other parts of the world, despite bearing the least responsibility for the problem.
From increasingly destructive rainfalls and reduced food production to severe droughts and heatwaves — Africa already bears the brunt of climate change.
They explain that the continent is home to nearly a fifth of the global population, yet it accounts for “less than 3% of the world’s energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to date” and has the lowest emissions per capita of any region.
Yet, despite these difficulties, the “global clean energy transition holds new promise for Africa’s economic and social development”, according to the IEA.
“Electricity will underpin Africa’s economic future, with solar leading the way,” says the IEA, explaining that “Africa is home to 60% of the best solar resources globally, yet only 1% of installed solar PV capacity”.
The IEA says that under an ambitious “Sustainable Africa Scenario”, solar PV — already the cheapest source of power in many parts of Africa — “outcompetes all sources continent-wide by 2030.”
To the chagrin of African activists, however, it also calls for greater investment in natural gas infrastructure, saying “Africa’s industrialisation relies in part on expanding natural gas use”.
“More than 5,000 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas resources have been discovered to date in Africa, which have not yet been approved for development. These resources could provide an additional 90 bcm of gas a year by 2030, which may well be vital for the fertiliser, steel and cement industries and water desalination.
“Cumulative CO2 emissions from the use of these gas resources over the next 30 years would be around 10 gigatonnes. If these emissions ...

Ramaphosa calls Putin to discuss food and fertiliser supplies after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine scrambled global markets

During a phone call on Wednesday, the two BRICS leaders stressed intention to ‘expand mutually beneficial cooperation’
President Cyril Ramaphosa had a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, during which they discussed possible deliveries of Russian agricultural products and fertilisers to Africa, including South Africa.
“The presidents expressed satisfaction with the current level of the two countries’ strategic partnership and stressed the shared intention to expand mutually beneficial cooperation, above all in trade, the economy, and investment,” a Kremlin press release said.
“They also discussed in detail issues of food security, including the supply of Russian agricultural products and fertilisers to the African continent, in particular South Africa. The leaders also noted the importance of joint work within BRICS in order to further promote the role of this association in global politics and economics.”
The Kremlin said Ramaphosa had initiated the call and that the two leaders had agreed to maintain contact.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, confirmed the call had taken place and that “the two leaders held a discussion on issues of trade and investment and the BRICS partnership”.
BRICS summit
The discussion was also in the context of the upcoming BRICS summit next week, he added, referring to the annual summit of the BRICS partnership — comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The summit will be hosted by China, but will take place virtually.
The Kremlin’s announcement that Russia could deliver food and fertiliser to South Africa and the rest of the continent comes against the background of Russia’s war against Ukraine causing major food shortages and price increases across the world, particularly in wheat, as both countries produce a large share of the world’s supply.
The shortages and price hikes have been felt acutely in Africa, and African Union chairperson Macky Sall, who is also the president of Senegal, and African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat recently discussed this at a meeting with Putin in Sochi, Russia.
Sall said afterwards that Putin had pledged to address the food crisis but he did not elaborate. Russia has blamed it on Western sanctions imposed on Russia because of its invasion of Ukraine.
Western governments insist that the grain shortage, in particular, has been caused mainly by Russia blockading Ukrainian ports and preventing exports.
Western governments have accused Russia of manipulating food supplies to gain a diplomatic advantage. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently stated: “There are credible reports, including as we saw in one ...

Africa faces huge food-supply obstacles – and time is running out

A just transition must address the adaptation challenges of African countries while also moving food systems onto a sustainable footing with lower emissions. These changes all work through market mechanisms.
Climate change requires rapid, major and systemic economic changes at the local, national and global levels. Food supply is estimated to account for about a third of greenhouse gas emissions. African countries, however, are responsible for negligible emissions, yet face urgent challenges of adaptation to global warming and extreme weather events which threaten production.
A just transition must address the adaptation challenges of African countries while also moving food systems onto a sustainable footing with lower emissions. These changes all work through market mechanisms.
Emissions in food are mainly associated with meat and dairy production and the associated animal feed and land-use changes. Production and trading of meat and the main animal feed constituents such as soybeans and maize are concentrated, within and across countries. The changes required in the food systems transformation are thus about the decisions of a relatively small number of lead firms and the markets in which they operate.
Large incumbent firms have typically invested and innovated to build up their market positions. At the same time, to borrow Warren Buffett’s metaphor, they build moats around their positions to protect themselves and their profits from rivals.
What has this to do with climate change?
First, the rapid change in food systems means business models have to change and this may well be led by disruptors, as we have seen in other sectors such as motor vehicles. Incumbents are naturally invested in current production systems, have the most to lose from systems changes and are likely to delay and try to control the process of change. Conversely, dynamic competition which opens markets up to disruptors can be a powerful positive impetus for change, including by incumbents if and where they can pivot.
Second, to win broad-based support, climate change measures need to be fair. This means that we must tackle inclusion along with the transformation in production systems. Competition law and policy are important tools to work for inclusion. They can tackle the market power and anti-competitive practices that mean smaller market participants, including farmers, are undermined and have their returns squeezed by powerful suppliers and buyers.
Expert sounds alarm on fifth wave after Covid-19 curve turns upwards in SA
Vulnerability to agriculture and food systems impacts
African farmers are among the most vulnerable to extreme weather. ...

How to help smallholder farmers fight climate change

Reducing injustices embedded in the food and farming system will require a just transition and a resilient path in the agriculture sector.
The latest climate science reaffirms that global catastrophic weather conditions in the past decade can be attributed to climate change. Climate change, in turn, presents sustained threats to global food and water security. Food production systems are threatened by extreme disturbances in weather patterns, manifesting as increased frequency of droughts and floods.
Climate resilience is critical to ensuring food security. In the context of weather and climate, resilience refers to the ability of a system, community or society to cope with and recover from the adverse effects of climate-related hazards and to adapt to long-term changes without undermining food security or wellbeing.
Smallholder farmers produce approximately a third of the world’s food and are therefore critically important to food security, yet they receive the least financial support from climate finance agencies. Africa is home to an estimated 33 million smallholder farms, contributing up to 70% of the continent’s food supply. Furthermore, women account for 60% of Africa’s food production and are often disproportionately affected by climate change.
The uMgungundlovu District Municipality (UMDM) in South Africa, located in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, comprises seven local municipalities and is home to many smallholder farmers. Climate hazards that affect local communities in uMgungundlovu District include severe storms, flash floods and droughts. The Standardised Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index, used by the South African Weather Service to measure precipitation, evapotranspiration and drought, including long-term rainfall observations, has predicted severe ecological impacts and a warmer future for the region.
The uMngeni Resilience Project (URP) in UMDM aims to increase climate resilience of smallholder farmers via three key interventions: early warning systems, climate-smart agriculture and climate-proof settlements. Research — including my PhD thesis for the University of KwaZulu-Natal entitled “Climate Adaptation Finance and Food Security in South Africa” — on effects of the URP has revealed that climate adaptation finance enables smallholder farmers to build resilience to climate change.
Aim and study context
The URP aims to reduce the vulnerability of farming communities and small-scale farmers in the UMDM to the effects of climate change. Best practice is to increase climate resilience and adaptive capacity by combining traditional and scientific knowledge in an integrated approach to adaptation.
In the UMDM, a set of complementary interventions were implemented to enhance resilience. These interventions focused on early-warning and ward-based disaster response systems, use of climate-resilient crops and ...

9 episodes