Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Burkina Faso Refugees

 More than a million people are fleeing terror and violence in Burkina Faso, and their numbers are growing. At the end of August, more than 1.4 million people were displaced in Burkina Faso, according to government figures. The problem is no longer confined to one region, said Abdouraouf Gnon-Konde, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) country director.

Various terrorist groups operate in Burkina Faso, including the al-Qaeda linked group Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), which originated in Mali, and the so-called Islamic State of the Greater Sahara (EIGS), which is active in the border region with Niger in the east. Outlaws take advantage of the bad security situation and also carry out attacks. The situation is increasingly driving people away from their homes.

The refugee crisis has aggravated poverty in a country that has always ranked low on the United Nations Development Index — currently, it stands at 182 out of 189 countries. There are hardly any permanent jobs and many people are small farmers. 

"We simply exist, there is nothing to do and if we aren't given food, we have nothing to eat."

State schools are already overcrowded — and that situation does not take internally displaced persons (IDPs) into account. This school year, 2,244 educational institutions remained closed because of terrorist attacks. Nearly 54% of IDPs are younger than 14, says the UN's Abdouraouf Gnon-Konde.

"They are waiting to go back to school. School is the key to creating a future for these children," he said. Aid organizations have launched a number of projects to make up for missed lessons, but it's not enough.

The UNHCR doesn't have the funds to take care of all the refugees, said Gnon-Konde, adding that only a fourth of the roughly $602 million needed for 2021 is currently funded.

Burkina Faso′s silent refugee crisis | Africa | DW | 26.10.2021


Uganda's Dilemma

 Uganda had said it would spend $537m between 2016 and 2020, including funds from international agencies and donors, on climate-related projects to adapt the country’s infrastructure and deal with climate emergencies. However, the $107.4m annual budget is dwarfed by external debt payments which will total $739m in 2021, rising to $1.35bn in 2025.

Ausi Kibowa, from the Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI), based in Uganda, said: “Owing to the immense financial pressure on Uganda from the debt crisis, the Ugandan government is unable to spend what is need to protect people from the damage inflicted by climate change. Furthermore, it is intensifying fossil fuel extraction in order to pay the debt. To address climate injustice, debt relief must be part of the forthcoming UN climate talks."

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Che’s “Heart of Darkness,”

 An interesting article on Che Guevara's involvement in the Congo in 1965. After the defeat of the guerrilla army he had assembled, Che spent six months living clandestinely at the Cuban Embassy in Dar es Salaam and at a “safe house” in Prague, before returning to Cuba. 

The Congo, he explained, was the setting for “the cruelest and most bitter liberation struggle.” Black Africans who had led anti-colonial movements were now sadly the “lords of the revolution” who enjoyed “princely holidays.” Neo-colonialism was as bad as colonialism itself. The agents of empires aimed not just for enslavement and exploitation, but also “for the negation of the individual human being.” 

In his Congo Diary he wrote that the Congolese were  “the worst example of a fighter I have encountered.”  He criticizes the entire military expedition and most of the operatives, both the Cubans, who were in the Congo with him and the ill-equipped and unprepared Congolese soldiers who joined them some of the time. In Che’s eyes, the Congolese soldiers were unfit for guerrilla warfare or combat of any kind. They didn’t know how to fire a rifle, or make ready to ambush the enemy. They ran away from battle at the first sounds of gunfire.  Also, they were superstitious, believed in magic and in spells, went to prostitutes in the towns, contracted venereal diseases, and, like “parasites,” lived off the peasants. “A war is not won with such troops,” Che decided early on. The longer he stayed in the Congo the more he was convinced of the futility of his dream. “We cannot by ourselves liberate a country that does not want to fight,” he wrote.

The reviewer, Cynthia Grenier, wrote, “The beloved revolutionary icon sounds pretty much like an old-fashioned racist when it comes to evaluating his black brothers in arms.” 

“To replace colonialism with neocolonialism, or one group of neocolonialists with another group that does not look so bad,” Che wrote, “is not a correct revolutionary strategy.”

Heart of Darkness: Che Guevara's Congo - CounterPunch.org

Monday, October 25, 2021

Breaking Patent Laws

 In  Cape Town, South Africa,  two warehouses have been converted into a number of airlocked sterile rooms where young scientists are assembling and calibrating the equipment needed to create a coronavirus vaccine. Over the objections of the original developers, The Cape Town initiative is intended to expand access to the novel messenger RNA technology that Moderna, as well as Pfizer and German partner BioNTech, used in their vaccines. If the team in South Africa succeeds in making a version of Moderna’s vaccine, the information will be publicly released for use by others.

 Dr. Tom Frieden, the former head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has described the world as “being held hostage” by Moderna and Pfizer, whose vaccines are considered the most effective against COVID-19. The novel mRNA process uses the genetic code for the spike protein of the coronavirus and is thought to trigger a better immune response than traditional vaccines.

It’s a last-resort effort to make vaccine doses available for people going without because of the refusal of Big Pharma and the World Trade Organization to temporary rescind intellectual property laws.

 “We are doing this for Africa at this moment, and that drives us,” said Emile Hendricks, a 22-year-old biotechnologist for Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, the company trying to reproduce the Moderna shot. “We can no longer rely on these big superpowers to come in and save us.”

With the approval and assistance of the World Health Organization, he and his colleagues are applying reverse engineering — recreating vaccines from fragments of publicly available information — as one of the few remaining ways to redress the power imbalances of the pandemic.

 Only 0.7% of vaccines have gone to low-income countries so far, while nearly half have gone to wealthy countries. The U.N.-backed effort to equitably allot vaccines globally, known as COVAX, has failed to alleviate severe shortages in poor countries. Donated doses are coming in at a fraction of what is needed to fill the gap. Meanwhile, pressure for drug companies to share vaccines has led nowhere.

 After pleading with drugmakers to share their formulas,  raw materials and technological know-how, some poorer countries are done waiting.

Afrigen Managing Director Petro Terblanche said the Cape Town company is aiming to have a version of the Moderna vaccine ready for testing in people within a year and scaled up for commercial production not long after.“We have a lot of competition coming from Big Pharma. They don’t want to see us succeed.”

Moderna has not offered to help outside companies to make its mRNA shot.  The Medicines Patent Pool repeatedly tried but failed to convince Pfizer and BioNTech to even discuss sharing their formulas.

Zoltan Kis, an expert in messenger RNA vaccines at Britain’s University of Sheffield, said reproducing Moderna’s vaccine is “doable” but the task would be far easier if the company shared its expertise. Kis estimated the process involves fewer than a dozen major steps. But certain procedures are tricky, such as sealing the fragile messenger RNA in lipid nanoparticles, he said. “It’s like a very complicated cooking recipe,” he said. “Having the recipe would be very, very helpful, and it would also help if someone could show you how to do it.”

“The enemy to these corporations is losing their potential profit down the line,” Joia Mukherjee, chief medical officer of the global health nonprofit Partners in Health, said.

Africa tries to end vaccine inequity by replicating its own (apnews.com)

Saturday, October 23, 2021

South Sudan and Climate Change

 This is the third straight year of extreme flooding in South Sudan, further imperilling the livelihoods of many of the 11 million people in the world’s youngest country. A five-year civil war, hunger and corruption have all challenged the nation. Now climate change, which the United Nations has blamed on the flooding, is impossible to ignore.

It is the worst flooding that parts of South Sudan have seen in 60 years.

 The U.N. says the flooding has affected almost a half-million people across South Sudan since May. Here in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, the Lol river has burst its banks. This state is usually spared from extreme flooding that plagues the South Sudan states of Jonglei and Unity that border the White Nile and the Sudd marshlands. But now, houses and crops have been swamped. In rural South Sudan communities, shelters of braided grass put up a fragile resistance in a land of seemingly endless water.

A new report coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization warned of increasing such climate shocks to come across much of Africa, the continent that contributes the least to global warming but will suffer from it most.

In South Sudan, flooding called 'worst thing in my lifetime' (apnews.com)

Friday, October 22, 2021

Internet Colonialism

 While billions use the internet daily, its inner workings are little understood and rarely subject to scrutiny. Globally, five fully autonomous regional bodies, operating as nonprofit public trusts, decide who owns and runs the internet’s limited store of first-generation IP address blocks. Founded in 2003, AFRINIC was the last of the five registries to be created.

Just a decade ago, the pool of 3.7 billion first-generation IP, known as IPv4, was fully exhausted in the developed world. Such IP addresses now sell at auction for between $20 and $30 each.

Millions of internet addresses assigned to Africa have been waylaid, some fraudulently, including through insider machinations linked to a former top employee of the nonprofit that assigns the continent's addresses. Instead of serving Africa's internet development, many have benefited spammers and scammers, while others satiate Chinese appetites for pornography and gambling. Many of the disputed addresses continue to host websites that have nonsense URL address names and contain gambling and pornography aimed at an audience in China, whose government bans such online businesses.

AFRINIC, is working to reclaim the lost addresses. But a legal challenge by a deep-pocketed Chinese businessman, Lu Heng, a Hong Kong-based arbitrage specialist, is threatening the body’s very existence. 

Under contested circumstances, he obtained 6.2 million African addresses from 2013 to 2016. That’s about 5% of the continent’s total — more than Kenya has. In his initial request for IP addresses in 2013, Lu made clear to AFRINIC that his customers would be in China. In those emails, Lu said he needed the addresses for virtual private networks — known as VPNs — to circumvent the Chinese government’s firewall that blocks popular websites like Facebook and YouTube there. 

When AFRINIC revoked Lu’s addresses, now worth about $150 million, he fought back. His lawyers in late July persuaded a judge in Mauritius, where AFRICNIC is based, to freeze its bank accounts. His company also filed a $80 million defamation claim against AFRINIC and its new CEO.

It’s a shock to the global networking community, which has long considered the internet as technological scaffolding for advancing society. Some worry it could undermine the entire numerical address system that makes the internet work.

“There was never really any thought, particularly in the AFRINIC region, that someone would just directly attack a foundational element of internet governance and just try and shut it down, try and make it go away.” said Bill Woodcock, executive director of Packet Clearing House, a global nonprofit that has helped build out Africa’s internet.

In revoking Lu’s address blocks, AFRINIC is trying to reclaim internet real estate critical for a continent that lags the rest in leveraging internet resources to raise living standards and boost health and education. Africa has been allocated just 3% of the world’s first-generation IP addresses.

Lu's legal gains in the case have stunned and dismayed the global internet-governance community. Network activists worry they could help facilitate further internet resource grabs by China, for starters. Some of Lu’s major clients include the Chinese state-owned telecommunication firms China Telecom and China Mobile.

“It doesn’t seem like he’s running the show. It seems like he’s the face of the show. I expect that he has got quite a significant backing that’s actually pulling the strings,” said Mark Tinka, a Ugandan who heads engineering at SEACOM, a South Africa-based internet backbone and services provider. Tinka worries Lu has “access to an endless pile of resources.”

But that was far from all of it.

Ownership of at least 675,000 wayward addresses is still in dispute. Some are controlled by an Israeli businessman, who has sued AFRINIC for trying to reclaim them. Guilmette calculates that a total of 1.2 million stolen addresses remain in use.

Making things worse: the alleged theft of millions of AFRINIC IP addresses, involving the organization’s former No. 2 official, Ernest Byaruhanga, who was fired in December 2019. It's unclear whether he was acting alone. The misappropriation of 4 million IP addresses worth more than $50 million by Byahuranga and perhaps others was discovered by Ron Guilmette, a freelance internet sleuth in California, and exposed by him and journalist Jan Vermeulen of the South African tech website MyBroadband.

Many have long profited from Africa’s riches of gold, diamonds, and even people. Digital resources have proven no different.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Green Colonialism

 There is a massive land grab on an unprecedented scale, notably in Africa, using the mask of “conservation” and “protecting nature” to throw people off their land and wreck their nature-friendly ways of existence.

The Scientific American notes in its October 2021 editorial the danger of “a new model of colonialism” that “forces those least responsible for climate change, biodiversity loss and other environmental crises to pay the highest price for averting them”. 

 "...In the Congo Basin, for example, armed eco-guards have brutally evicted Indigenous Pygmies from the rain forest to carve out protected areas. These wildlife reserves expanded following a CBD [the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity] resolution in 2010 to dedicate 17 percent of Earth's terrestrial surface to nature. Yet the protected areas are surrounded by or sometimes even overlaid with oil, mining or logging concessions. Unsurprisingly, chimpanzee, gorilla and elephant populations have continued to decline even as Pygmy peoples have been consigned to poverty and misery..."

There is now a new policy of the “30x30” campaign to protect 30 percent of Earth's land and sea surface by 2030.

 In L’invention du colonialisme vert (‘The Invention of Green Colonialism’), the author, Guillaume Blanc, warns that in their bid to “protect” 30% or even 50% of the planet, there exists a threat essentially aiming to rid vast swathes of the non-Western world of all indigenous life.

He says that the “naturalization” of parts of Africa effectively amounts to “dehumanization” and involves “putting areas inside parks, banning agriculture, excluding people, getting rid of their fields and grazing grounds in order to create a supposedly natural world without humans”. 

This is achieved by forced resettling of populations and the social disintegration that goes along with it, together with the use of fines, prison sentences, beatings, even rapes and murders. Missionary-like brainwashing propaganda, via the inevitable “participatory workshops”, has also been used to persuade people to leave their land. Blanc explains that the international conservation “experts” claim to be working for harmonious global governance. Their principles are supposedly moral – they are said to be fighting poverty, hunger and disease – and their standards are presented as ethical, in that the development they are promoting is allegedly sustainable, community-based and participative.  It is deeply contradictory in content,  “giving nature to the people; preventing the people from living in it”.

 There are echoes of the historical enclosures in England and elsewhere in the way that living on the land, in traditional ways, has been criminalised in order to bring about disempowerment and helpless dependence on an industrial system. To justify the land grab a false image has been built up, explains Blanc, according to which Africa is a virgin natural paradise threatened by the presence of its own indigenous human inhabitants. The love of nature, and the desire to protect it, is thus twisted and weaponized into a new excuse to pillage and colonise Africa.

Peasant farmers in Africa are accused of “destroying nature”, while they in fact produce their own food, eat very little meat or fish, very rarely buy new clothes, move around on foot and don’t own computers or smart phones.

Blanc comments: “If we want to save the planet, we should all be living like them”. (3) Instead, such people are being ruthlessly driven from the land.

“Behind every social injustice endured by those living close to nature in Africa, we always find UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization], the WWF [World Wide Fund for Nature/World Wildlife Fund], the IUCN [International Union for Conservation of Nature] or Fauna and Flora International”

Taken from

“Green” Imperialism On The March (on-ratata.blogspot.com)

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Who will pay?

 A new report, The State of the Climate in Africa, says Africa needs to invest up to $50bn (£36bn) a year in order to cope with the growing threat of climate change.

The African Union and World Meteorological Organisation warn that “By 2030, it is estimated that up to 118 million extremely poor people (i.e. living on less than $1.90 per day) will be exposed to drought, floods and extreme heat in Africa if adequate response measures are not put in place,” if nothing is done. 

Over 1.2 million new disaster-related (storms and floods) displacements occurred in the East and Horn of the African region. That’s more than double the near 500,000 people in the region who were displaced due to conflict.

It also warns that all of Africa's remaining glaciers are on track to disappear by the 2040s.

Africa has warmed faster than the global average but has been responsible for just 4% of the world’s greenhouse emissions.

As Africa’s glaciers melt, millions face drought and floods, UN says - CNBC Africa

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Looting Africa's Treasures

 A bronze cockerel kept at Cambridge University that had been looted in a British raid on what is now Nigeria will be handed back this month. The Benin bronze, known as an "okukor", was given to Jesus College in 1905. The college said it became the first institution in the world to announce its decision to return a Benin Bronze", in 2019 .

The Benin Bronzes, a collection made up of carved ivory, bronze and brass crafted sculptures and plaques, are not mere artworks but catalogue the story of Benin – its achievements, explorations and belief systems.

The British Museum holds around 73,000 African objects looted from Africa during wars and colonisation. Six decades on from independence, African governments are still actively seeking the return of stolen artefacts.

“It was purely a colonial power exerting power on the community. They looted and burned down everything and carted away what they took off the people,” Tijani, of Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments explains.

The Benin Kingdom theft is well-documented.  The British Museum said that “the devastation and plunder wreaked upon Benin City during the British military expedition in 1897 is fully acknowledged by the Museum.  Yet Benin Bronzes remain profitable for their owners, with single pieces having fetched more than $4m at auction houses. 

In 1899, Henry Labouchère, the MP for Middlesex, described the process by which territory was acquired during a parliamentary meeting. “Someone belonging to one company or another meets a black man. Of course, he has an interpreter with him. He asks the black man if he is proprietor of certain land, and if he will sign a paper he shall have a bottle of gin. The black man at once accepts; a paper is put before him, and he is told to make his mark on it, which he does. And then we say that we have made a treaty by which all the rights in that country of the emperor, king, or chief, or whatever you call him, have been given over to us. That is the origin of all these treaties.”

Full story can be read at

Stealing Africa: How Britain looted the continent’s art | History | Al Jazeera

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

America's Vaccine Hoarding

 Doctors Without Borders—known internationally as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)—said the United States is hoarding nearly 500 million excess coronavirus vaccine doses—the most of any country.

"It's reckless and dangerous for the U.S. and other high-income countries to be sitting on excessive stocks of Covid-19 vaccines while others... are desperate to provide their most vulnerable people with even their first dose," Dr. Carrie Teicher, director of programs at Doctors Without Borders USA, said.

Public Citizen president Robert Weissman noted in a statement, "All African countries combined have had roughly 150 million doses administered."

"Africa has a population over 1.34 billion. The U.S. population is 330 million," Weissman said. "Put simply: Africa has four times the population of the U.S. but has administered about one-third the number of Covid vaccine doses... This unconscionable vaccine apartheid is not just leaving billions of people in African and other developing countries vulnerable to preventable disease, suffering, and death, it is dramatically increasing global poverty rates—as well as the death, disease, and hunger that accompanies severe poverty."

'Reckless': Doctors Without Borders Slams US for Hoarding 500 Million Vaccine Doses (commondreams.org)

Friday, October 08, 2021

Fish for fish-farms or for feeding people?

 Greenpeace activists have intercepted a  tanker in the English Channel carrying fish oil from west Africa to Europe, to highlight the threat they say industry poses to food security and to livelihoods in the region. Activists and locals say the industry pushes up prices and depletes stocks of fish eaten by local people across poor communities in Mauritania, Senegal and the Gambia.

The Key Sund, a Norwegian-flagged vessel capable of carrying 4,500 tonnes of fish oil, the equivalent of 90,000 tonnes of processed fish, departed on 27 September from Nouadhibou, Mauritania. It was believed to be on its way to deliver part of its cargo to a fish oil company in France.

“This is big business stripping life from our oceans and depriving our fishing communities of their livelihoods,” said Dr Aliou Ba, the oceans campaign manager for Greenpeace Africa. “This trade in fishmeal and fish oil is not sustainable. The fish that goes into fish oil and fish meal could be used to feed west African people.”

Each year more than half a million tonnes of fish are being taken from the coasts of Mauritania, Senegal and the Gambia and converted to fish meal and fish oil, used mainly in agriculture and fish farms, according to a report by Changing Markets, a Netherlands-based organisation, and Greenpeace Africa. West African production of fish meal and fish oil has increased more than tenfold over the past decade, from 13,000 tonnes in 2010 to more than 170,000 tonnes in 2019, the report by Changing Markets and Greenpeace shows. 

Globally, 69% of fishmeal and 75% of fish oil is used for aquafeed to produce farmed fish such as salmon and trout.

In the Gambia, artisanal fishers said they blamed their government for encouraging overfishing and allowing fishmeal plants to operate.

In Senegal, rocketing prices for sardinella and bonga, two species used in the fish meal and fish oil industry, are threatening the livelihoods of artisanal fishers.

The species, particularly sardinella, a staple food across west Africa, are overexploited, “posing a serious threat to food security in the subregion”, according to a UN Food and Agriculture Organization working group. The FAO has called for an urgent 50% reduction in fishing effort for sardinella species

Greenpeace stops fish oil tanker in Channel in protest over African food insecurity | Fish | The Guardian

Thursday, September 30, 2021

UN Officials Expelled from Ethiopia

 Ethiopia’s government has ordered the expulsion of seven senior United Nations officials from the country for “meddling” in its internal affairs. They have been declared “persona non grata” and given 72 hours to leave the country.



Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Uganda's Welcomie to Refugees

Uganda hosts nearly 1.5 million refugees – more than any other country in Africa, in fact, more than most countries in the world. Uganda's approach to refugees has been lauded as one of the most progressive, generous and favourable in the world by the UN, the World Bank and many others. 

For many, the term “refugee camp” conjures images of fences and hopelessness, and of “temporary” tent cities that everyone knows are near-permanent. This is not the case in Uganda. Here, refugees are given land to live on and farm; they are enabled to move freely, access social services such as education, start businesses, and find employment. Above all, they are treated with dignity. In other words, they are essentially Ugandan citizens, contributing to and strengthening our economy.

Jeje OdongoUgandan Minister of Foreign Affairs, writes, "Uganda’s doors will remain open. Open to those fleeing war, to those without homes, to those seeking hope in an increasingly callous and unpredictable world." 

Uganda’s doors will remain open to refugees | Refugees | Al Jazeera

 If Uganda can do it, why not Europe and America?

Friday, September 24, 2021

Tragedy continues in Tigray

  Famine-like conditions exist in the Tigray region. The crisis is driving residents to beg for food

During the past two months, the main hospital in Mekelle has received 60 children with severe acute malnutrition. Of those 60, six have died, according to Dr Abrha Gebregzabher, a paediatrician supervising the treatment of malnourished children at Ayder hospital.

According to the United Nations, more than 400,000 people are facing famine-like conditions and 1.8 million are on the brink of famine across Tigray. The region of some six million people remains under a “de facto humanitarian blockade”, the UN said earlier this month, warning of a “looming catastrophe” and urging all warring sides to allow and facilitate the unimpeded passage of aid.

The September 2 statement by Grant Leaity, the UN’s acting humanitarian coordinator for Ethiopia, said a minimum of 100 trucks of food, non-food items and fuel must enter the region every day – but access has been extremely difficult. “Stocks of relief aid, cash and fuel are running very low or are completely depleted. Food stocks already ran out on 20 August,” it added. Separately, the World Food Programme said last week that, since July 12, 445 contracted non-agency trucks have entered Tigray, but only 38 have returned, calling their disappearance “the primary impediment” to stepping up humanitarian response.

 In Ayder hospital basic medical supplies and medicines are also running out. 

“We are struggling to continue with extremely limited resources. We are struggling to provide food to patients,” said Dr Sentayhu Mesgana, the hospital’s deputy medical head. “We have suspended further diagnosis due to electric interruptions and lack of spare parts. By now, the hospital is only providing basic services.”

According to Dr Sentayhu, health centres across Tigray are unable to send patients to the referral hospital due to a lack of fuel affecting ambulance services.

“We don’t know how many people are dying across the region from malnutrition. We are disconnected with the health centres due to the telecommunications blackout. We could only know about patients who managed to arrive here. Only a few can make it,” said Dr Sentayhu. “We cannot do adult nutritional support to the general public which is very costly and ineffective given the dire situation we are in.”

With medical supplies running out, Dr Abrha, the paediatrician looking after malnourished children, feared the worst is yet to come.

“The stock of therapeutic milk will run out in three weeks given there are no new cases,” Dr Abrha said. “That means we will suspend the treatments after three weeks.”

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Climate solutions for Africa

 The level of energy poverty in Africa is unacceptable. Three-quarters of those without access to electricity now live in sub-Saharan Africa, a share that has risen over recent years. The majority of all Africans do not have clean energy sources for cooking. The number of deaths from respiratory infections is enormous and avoidable.

Africa's vast natural resources have been exploited for the benefit of others through transnational corporations and have left behind the majority of Africa’s people.

Climate change will hit Africa the hardest. In fact, global warming and extreme weather events are already threatening the poorest and most vulnerable people on the continent. 

The 6th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released 9 August 2021, exposed the fact that global warming has been more rapid in Africa than in the rest of the world. This warming is already having devastating impacts on people, their livelihoods, and ecosystems. It is being driven by a greedy energy system that is based on extracting and burning fossil fuels. It is an energy system that disrespects and destroys all life on earth. The time to move away from harmful fossil fuels towards a transformed energy system that is clean, renewable, democratic, and actually serves its people, has never been more urgent.

 ‘A Just Recovery Renewable Energy Plan for Africa’ report, which is based on the research and modelling of renowned academic Dr. Sven Teske, shows that it is technically and financially feasible to achieve a 100% renewable energy goal for Africa by the year 2050. It shows a way to power Africa with renewable energy while also trying to stem the climate crisis, supporting employment, gender justice, reducing inequality, and pushing for a just recovery.

The continent surpasses all other regions in having the most potential for renewable energy. It is technically feasible.

Opinion | 100% Renewable Energy Is Possible: A Plan for Africa | Dipti Bhatnagar (commondreams.org)

Doctors Strike in Nigeria

 There are currently about 42,000 doctors in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with more than 210 million people. 

Of the doctors, 16,000 are resident doctors who participate in the strike organised by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).

It is the fourth time that Zubaida and her colleagues have gone on strike since the coronavirus pandemic began last year. This time around, they insist their action would not be suspended until the demands – including pay rise and payment of previous unpaid salaries; an increase of hazard allowance; better facilities and equipment – are met by the government.

Those doctors, who are pivotal to the country’s front-line healthcare, have long complained of being ill-equipped, overworked and underfunded. Some of them, even in metropolises such as Lagos and Abuja, have not received their salaries for months.

This year, the government has reportedly allocated just 4 percent of the entire budget for the health ministry, leaving already crumbling public hospitals due to chronic underfunding under a lot of strain.

"Samihana Mustafa", a doctor in central Nasarawa state, explained, the system was in an “appalling condition” as people die in the hospitals because of “avoidable causes”.

“I once had to refer a patient that was presented with severe hematemesis (vomiting blood) to another hospital, as the endoscopy machine wasn’t functional. Sadly, the patient died on the way.”

Others are left to die in hospital beds without being diagnosed or receiving treatment. The ruling elite and wealthy Nigerians travel abroad to seek medical services, spending an estimated $2bn annually on medical tourism. President Muhammadu Buhari, 78, recently faced criticism as he returned from London following a regular medical checkup while doctors were on strike. Buhari has spent 200 days in total on official medical trips in London since he came to power in May 2015.

“What the ruling elite forget is that they may have medical emergencies and have to depend on the weak health system,” said Dr Ifeanyi Nsofor, Senior New Voices Fellow at the Aspen Institute. “It is in the best interest of everyone – rich or poor, for the system to work.”

Thousands of Nigerian doctors have moved abroad in recent years for better salaries and working conditions. Last month, in the midst of the latest strike, hundreds of Nigerian doctors participated in a recruitment exercise in an attempt to work in Saudi Arabia – though only seven positions were available.

According to a 2018 survey by Nigeria Health Watch, 88 percent of doctors are actively seeking opportunities abroad. Almost half of the respondents said they have between five to 15 friends and colleagues working in the medical profession who had moved out of the country within the last two years.

Najah Nuhu moved to the United Kingdom in 2019. She said she has had “a love-hate relationship” with the system during her time working as a doctor in Nigeria.

“The love part of it obviously comes from wanting to help out the people of your community because actually the country and the community did invest in you in a lot of ways,” Nuhu said. “The hate part is the failed system in which you always feel like your hands are tied. You want to help but you can’t because somehow the service, the facility is not available.”

As Nigeria’s healthcare bleeds, striking doctors pledge to fight | Health News | Al Jazeera

Threat of war is never far away

 A brewing conflict between Sudan and Ethiopia has the most basic of motivations: control over land and water.

The land dispute between the two countries dates back more than a century to colonial-era agreements demarcating the border between the two countries. The greatest dispute is over a portion of land known as al-Fashqa, which both countries have claimed as their own. The most recent settlement of the territorial dispute came in 2008, when the TPLF-led Ethiopia agreed to recognise formal Sudanese sovereignty over the area in exchange for Sudan, led by longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir, allowing Ethiopian settlers to remain in the area. 

Since then, however, both governments have fallen, and with them the agreement. When Ethiopian forces were diverted from defending al-Fashqa to go fight in Tigray, the Sudanese military moved back into the area. The Sudanese military has been adamant about defending its control of the territory, and Sudan’s interim Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was recently quoted during a visit to al-Fashqa as declaring that, “We want our relationship to be good with Ethiopia, but we will not give up an inch of Sudan’s land.”

The risk of war over al-Fashqa is serious. Twenty years ago, a similar dispute over a less commercially valuable tract of borderland between Ethiopia and Eritrea led to the bloody war between those two countries.

Meanwhile, a so-far non-violent but potentially larger clash has been brewing over control of the Nile River. After 10 years of construction, Ethiopia has begun filling the reservoir of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Ethiopia asserts that the GERD project, one of the world’s largest hydroelectric facilities, is necessary to meet the country’s growing energy needs. Downriver countries Sudan and Egypt, on the other hand, have warned that disruptions of the flow of the Nile River would be devastating. Khartoum and Cairo have demanded that Ethiopia share information and coordinate control of the dam’s operations with them, a request that Ethiopia has dismissed as a violation of its own sovereignty.

Sudan and Egypt have hinted that military action could be on the table if a peaceful solution is not achieved. Earlier this year, both countries held joint military drills, giving the exercises the unsubtle name, “Guardians of the Nile”.

Sudan and Ethiopia are nearing a fight over land and water | Ethiopia | Al Jazeera

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Rwanda's Mysterious Deaths

Revocant Karemangingo, 2021

Millionaire businessman Revocant Karemangingo was sprayed with bullets by gunmen near his home in Maputo. The outspoken Kagame critic had settled in Mozambique after being ousted from his home country in 1994. The Rwandan government has denied any involvement in the killing. However, Cleophas Habiyaremye, president of the association of Rwandan refugees in Mozambique, rejects the denial. "If there is any real independent inquiry, Kagame and his government should be held responsible," Cleophas Habiyaremye told DW.

Ntamuhanga Cassien, 2021
Rwandan journalist Ntamuhanga Cassien disappeared in Maputo in May after being taken into custody by Mozambican police, and has not been heard from since. There are rumors he was handed over to Rwanda.

Abdallah Seif Bamporiki, 2021
The leading Rwandan opposition politician and member of the Rwanda National Congress was shot dead in South Africa, where he was living in exile. South African police initially said they were treating the killing as a robbery. A week before his murder, Bamporiki had led a memorial service for Rwandan opposition activists killed worldwide.

Kizito Mihigo, 2020
The singer and government critic died under suspicious circumstances in police custody. Police claim Mihigo strangled himself — but days before his arrest, hereported to Human Rights Watch that he was being threatened.

Anselme Mutuyimana, 2019
The assistant to Victoire Ingabire, president of the opposition United Democratic Forces (FDU-Inkingi) party, was found dead in the woods in 2019. The year before, Mutuyimana had been freed from a six-year prison sentence for "political activism."

Jean Damascene Habarugira, 2017
The opposition politician disappeared after being called to a meeting with an officer responsible for local security. A few days later, authorities called Habarugira's family to collect his body from a local hospital.

Illuminee Iragena, 2016
The opposition activist went missing in 2016, and has not been seen since. There are fears she was forcibly disappeared. 

Patrick Karegeya, 2014
The former Rwandan intelligence chief was found dead in a hotel room in South Africa. He had fled to South Africa in 2007 after allegedly plotting a coup against President Kagame. According to a 2019 article in The Guardian, before his death, several Rwandans in South Africa had warned Karegeya that Rwanda's military intelligence was looking to hire contract killers. 

Theogene Turatsinze, 2012
The former head of the Rwanda Development Bank was found dead in 2012 in a river near Maputo, days after he went missing. Before he was fired from his position, Turatsinze was believed to have taken with him to Mozambique a list of clandestine payments made by top Rwandan government officials.  

Charles Ingabire, 2011
The Rwandan reporter founded Inyenyeri Newssite, which was highly critical of Rwanda's government. Ingabire was shot and killed in Uganda, where he lived as a political refugee.

Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, 2010
The deputy chairman of Rwanda's Democratic Green Party was found murdered and partially beheaded in Rwanda in 2010. An inquiry into his murder by Rwanda's Bureau of Investigation never saw the light of day. 

Jean-Leonard Rugambage, 2010 
The journalist was shot dead in 2010 after he published an online article about the attempted murder of a former army chief, Lieutenant-General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa. Rugambage was viewed as highly critical of  Kagame's government.  

Seth Sendashonga, 1998  
A moderate ethnic Hutu involved in the post-genocide unity government with Kagame's RPF party, Sendashonga served as interior minister until he fell out with the RPF before Kagame became president in 2000. Sendashonga survived an attempt on his life while in exile in Kenya, but was subsequently killed by unknown gunmen in 1998.  

Theoneste Lizinde, 1996
The former intelligence official was found dead in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1996. 

Rwanda: The mysterious deaths of political opponents | Africa | DW | 15.09.2021

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Hunger threat in Kenya's drought

 2.1 million Kenyans face starvation due to a drought in half the country affecting harvests. The affected regions are usually the most food-insecure in Kenya due to high levels of poverty. 

People living in 23 counties across the arid north, northeastern and coastal parts of the country will be in “urgent need” of food aid over the next six months, after poor rains between March and May this year.

Asha Mohammed, secretary general of the Kenya Red Cross, said most of the affected counties had already had to deal with desert locust invasions, flash floods and tribal conflicts driven by diminishing resources.

“You have two seasons of depressed rains, desert locusts ravaging farmlands in the same counties and people fighting over the few resources available. That is the making of a disaster,” said Mohammed. She said it was not only farmers who had been affected by the drought, but also people in urban areas who had been forced to pay higher prices for the little available food. “There is some food reaching the urban areas within these counties but there is little purchasing power because many have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.” 

Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the drought a national disaster promising “comprehensive drought mitigation measures”.

In July, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Kenya said the country needed 9.4bn Kenyan shillings (£62m) to mitigate the effects of the drought between July and November.

Canada's African Business

 Canadian mining investment in Africa according to Natural Resources Canada put it at $37.8 billion in 2019. 

 Many companies based and traded in Canada have taken African names (African Queen Mines, Asante Gold Corporation, Tanzanian Royalty Exploration, Lake Victoria Mining Company, Société d’Exploitation Minière d’Afrique de l’Ouest, East Africa Metals, International African Mining Gold (IAMGOLD), African Gold Group, etc.).

Justin Trudeau’s government has put up more than $100 million in assistance for mining related projects in Africa, signed Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements and backed Barrick Gold during a high-profile conflict with the Tanzanian government.

Ghana is the biggest gold producing country in Africa and 8th in the world, but 93.3% of Ghana’s gold is owned by foreign corporations, mainly America and Canada.

 Ghana owns less than 2% of all the Gold in their land. Ghana has to borrow money from the IMF and World Bank to buy their own Gold, which is on their land, mined by Ghanaian workers, using Ghana’s resources. The price of the Gold is set in New York and can only be purchased with the American dollar.

After a high profile Canadian-financed structural adjustment program in the late 1980s NGO worker Ian Gary explained its impact: “Ghana’s traditional sources of income — gold, cocoa, and timber — have benefited from the program, but this has only exacerbated the colonial legacy of dependence. Nearly all of the $1.5 billion worth of private foreign investment has been in mining, with most of the profits being repatriated overseas. ‘User fees’ for health care services and education have been introduced. Disincentives to food producers, and the damage caused to local rice producers by cheap rice imports, led to increased malnutrition and lower food security. Rapid and indiscriminate liberalization of the trade regime hurt local industry, while cutbacks in the public sector shed 15 per cent of the waged work force.”

Canadian Imperialism in Africa - CounterPunch.org

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Mercenaries for Mali

 Mali's military government is close to hiring 1,000 mercenaries from the Russian Wagner company. The Wagner Group would be paid about six billion CFA francs ($10.8m) a month for its services

The French see it as a threat to their own influence and power in the Sahel region.

“If the Malian authorities entered into a contract with Wagner, it would be extremely worrying and contradictory, incoherent with everything that we have done for years and we intend to do to support the countries of the Sahel region,”  French Defence Minister Florence Parly told a parliamentary commission.

Russian paramilitaries, “security instructors”, companies and advisors have grown increasingly influential in the war-torn Central African Republic (CAR)

Wagner are also reported to be present in various countries elsewhere in Africa, including in Libya in support of renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, in Sudan and in Mozambique.

France warns Mali against Russian Wagner mercenary deal | Armed Groups News | Al Jazeera

Sunday, September 12, 2021

THE DIGNITY OF LABOUR, AT HOME AND ABROAD

 The Socialist Party always held a world-view of events around the globe, even in its infancy. This essay on Africa is from January 1905, only months after the Socialist Party was founded. The article is focused on the reluctance of Africans to become wage-slaves.

THE DIGNITY OF LABOUR, AT HOME AND ABROAD

One of the chief complaints of the capitalist-class and its parasites is that the native at home and abroad does not fully appreciate the ”dignity of labour.” It is in vain that so mild and popular a reformer as John Ruskin has pointed out that to labour with the hands all day is degrading, for the capitalist maintains that labour is dignified—if it is performed by someone else.

Labour, manual labour, is good, wholesome, and above all, necessary; but whatever of dignity it may have possessed in the days of handicraft has been lost amidst the whirr of machinery. To labour hour after hour, day after day, year after year, at some mechanical work is wholly degrading, nor can any amount of education awaken the power of thought in minds dulled by the excess of purely mechanical labour.

That useful machine called the worker, whose engine, the mind, is stoked with the rubbish and lies of newspapers and politicians, can work only along the lines laid down for him by the master-class. That, at least, is the intention of the capitalist, and not until the worker realises that his interests are entirely antagonistic to those of his owner will he make any real progress. He will then cease to cry for “work” as the remedy for the evils of unemployment; he will not demand the expulsion of alien labour from England, nor will he work himself into a passion because Chinese labour is introduced into South Africa. He will rather find in all such troubles the natural results of the modern system of production for profit instead of for use.

The South African Labour question is a typical case. The possible employment of white men is not to be considered: the white worker is too apt to demand a fair wage and a vote; he does not realise the dignity of cheap labour; he forms trade unions and other unpleasant societies. The white labour market is already over-stocked and unemployment is rife in South African towns. The question is whether the Kaffir, Indian, or Chinaman is to appreciate the “dignity of labour” in the mines, and the “Bloemfontein Weekly Post” explains why alien labour is necessary. The attitude of the native is the cause of the trouble. To begin with, he is better off than his fellow in England. In our country the English native has no possessions, is divorced from, and not permitted to cultivate, the soil, and is forced, therefore, to sell himself in the labour market for the mere cost of subsistence. In “our” colony, however, the native is allowed to squat on the land, paying little or nothing to the farmer. He can cultivate the soil without becoming the farmer’s servant, and sometimes the farmer even enters into an alliance with the native and they work the land on the “half” system, which is unsparingly condemned by those in want of cheap labour, and who urge that the native should be nothing but a servant.

This custom among many of the farmers has made cheap labour scarce, and the “Bloemfontein Weekly Post” suggests the remedy for this “bad state of things.” It is found that the “dignity of labour” is lost on the native, for “he does not want work, and prefers revelling in the pleasures of sun and shade, and waxing fat on mealies and Kaffir beer.” When we remember how in England the master-class urges the workers to lead this simple, thrifty life, we may well be amused to find the same class falling foul of the native for that very reason, and it shows how little reliance is to be placed in the Christian ethics of capitalism.

So the native’s “life of ease” is a source of annoyance to his would-be employers, and the “Bloemfontein Weekly Post” suggests that the farmers in Orange River Colony—no longer a free state —should be forced to employ the natives as servants or else turn them off their farms, for “the native must work.” “There need be no forcing” says this paper, only “he must he taxed so heavily that he is compelled to sell himself and live laborious days in order to exist“. In fact, he must occupy the same position in his country as we English workers do in our country. Otherwise, it is suggested, “Indians should be imported on the same system of indenture as is adopted in Natal.” That is to say, if the native cares naught for the “dignity of labour,” he must be compelled to enslave himself or else alien labour must be imported.

It is absurd and useless for the English wage-slave to complain that his masters told him that the Boer War would open up a new market for his labour; it is, and always has been, evident that the capitalist is indifferent whether yellow, white, or black labour is used—cheapest is best. Socialists continually warn the wage-slave that when he fights he is not fighting for the benefit of himself, but of his master. If, instead of crying over spilt milk, he begins to study his own affairs from the point of view of his own class-interests, he will realise that every catch phrase, “dignity of labour,” “glory oi England,” etc., is a species of bait to lure him on to his own destruction.

A real “dignity of labour” may be found if belabours for the “glory of England,” and of all other countries, in the ranks of The Socialist Party of Great Britain, for the overthrow of Capitalism and the establishment of that Socialist Republic which is the aim and ideal of the International working-class

SYDNEY CHASE


The Dignity of Labour, at Home and Abroad – spgb.net (worldsocialism.org)