Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Death to Homosexuals

 MPs in Uganda have passed a controversial anti-LGBTQ+ bill, which would make homosexual acts punishable by death.

All but two of the 389 legislators voted for the hardline anti-homosexuality bill.

Fox Odoi-Oywelowo and Paul Kwizera Bucyana, opposed the new legislation.

Ugandan MPs pass bill imposing death penalty for homosexuality | LGBTQ+ rights | The Guardian

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Rwanda and UK Complicity

  M23 rebels are perpetrating summary killings and rapes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – and they are doing it with the backing of the regime of Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame. That was the conclusion of Amnesty International.

A recent 235-page UN report on the DRC includes aerial footage as well as photographic and video evidence, showing how Rwanda has been aiding and abetting M23 violence with cross-border supplies of artillery, weapons and ammunition. The Rwandan Defence Force (RDF) has been reinforcing and fighting alongside M23.

 Rishi Sunak, spoke to Kagame in what government advisers presented as a friendly call to discuss the UK-Rwanda “migration partnership” and “joint efforts to break the business model of criminal people smugglers and address humanitarian issues”.

Neither Kagame nor any of the M23 henchmen have been held to account for these grave violations – not during phone calls with Sunak, who still wants his migrant deportation pact with Rwanda, and not in the continued arming, funding and training of Kagame’s government and army by Britain and the US.

Sunak stays silent on Rwanda’s role in DRC war crimes to save UK’s migrant deal | Vava Tampa | The Guardian

Uganda's Anti-Gay Campaign


A surge in attacks on LGBTQ+ people in Uganda has been recorded by rights groups this year.

More than 110 people reported incidents including arrests, sexual violence, evictions and public undressing, to advocacy group Sexual Minorities Uganda (Smug) in February alone. Transgender people were disproportionately affected, said the group.

“We haven’t seen anything like this in years,” said Frank Mugisha, director of Smug. “It is part of a deliberate, calculated, very systematic move by groups within government, parliament and the conservative evangelicals trying to erase the LGBTQ+ community.” 

Smug said it had received reports of people having to flee their homes to avoid arrest by police tipped off by the public. Attacks have taken place at private events, parties and football games.  A teacher at a girls’ school in Jinja, east of the capital, was arrested over allegations of “promoting homosexuality” at the school, amid suspicion she was a lesbian. Three trans women were arrested at their homes in the capital, Kampala, last month, and charged with committing “unnatural offences” and subjected to anal examinations.

“It’s a madhouse,” said Mugisha, adding that his organisation is overwhelmed by the numbers who need help. “Things have escalated to the worst. Before, there was fear from law enforcement but not fear from communities, from ordinary Ugandans like we are seeing now.” 

Ugandan MPs reintroduced an anti-homosexuality bill, which would punish gay sex and “recruitment, promotion and funding” of same-sex “activities”. Religious groups in Uganda have been vocal in their persecution of homosexuality.  Activists say that laws which indirectly criminalise trans people, such as impersonation and public indecency, or those that criminalise same-sex relations, add intense scrutiny.

Mukisa, a transgender and a former nurse, says, “People are living in fear and in hiding. “This whole situation is setting us back.”

LGBTQ+ groups face crackdowns in Uganda as environment turns hostile | Global development | The Guardian

Friday, March 10, 2023

More Problems for DRC

 Bad news from the DRC never stops arriving. 

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has warned of a growing humanitarian catastrophe in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where fighting between government forces and armed groups has caused hundreds of thousands of people to flee.

Escalating violence forced nearly 300,000 people to flee Rutshuru and Masisi territories of North Kivu province last month, UNHCR says.

UNHCR spokesperson Matthew Saltmarsh said, “Civilians continue to pay the heavy and bloody price of conflict, including women and children who barely escaped the violence and are now sleeping out in the open air in spontaneous or organised sites, exhausted and traumatised.” 

The UN aid agency OCHA said 12 humanitarian organisations had been forced to limit their operations in parts of Ituri province because of increased attacks.

Scores of armed groups roam the vast mineral-rich eastern DRC, many of them a legacy of two regional wars that flared at the end of the 20th century.

Most of the land routes to Goma have now been cut off, leaving flights the only reliable way to bring in supplies.

Civilians pay heavy price of worsening conflict in east DRC: UN | News | Al Jazeera

Thursday, March 02, 2023

Africa’s “Green Lung”

 The sixth annual One Planet Summit began on Wednesday, with the fate of forests at the top of the agenda. Politicians, scientists and NGOs met in Libreville, Gabon, to discuss the future of rainforests in the Congo basin, Southeast Asia and the Amazon basin. This year’s conference has been named the "One Forest Summit" to reflect this focus. 

“The decision to hold this summit in the Congo basin is significant because Central Africa’s tropical forest is one of the main carbon sinks on the planet,” says Alain Karsenty, forest economist and researcher at the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development and a Central Africa specialist. 

The tropical rainforest, which spans Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville (Republic of the Congo), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon, currently stores stocks of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent to 10 years’ worth of global emissions.

“Forests in Southeast Asia now emit more CO2 than they absorb due to deforestation,” Karsenty says. “In the Amazon, studies show that we are reaching a tipping point. The only place where forests are definitely still absorbing more CO2 than they emit is in Central Africa.”  

In the Amazon, thousands of trees have been razed to make space for soy farms and pasture for livestock, and in Indonesia palm oil production has led to millions of hectares of deforestation. 

But Central Africa’s rainforests have been largely – if not entirely – spared.

 “Deforestation began in 2010, spurred by the pressure of a growing population. It was linked to slash-and-burn agriculture, which many farmers depend on, and the use of charcoal,” Karsenty says.  

Levels of such “poverty deforestation” vary from country to country in the Congo basin. DRC was home to 40% of global deforestation in 2021, second only to Brazil. 

But Gabon, which has a significantly smaller population than its neighbour, is a low deforestation country. “And Gabon has gradually emerged as the model student in the region,” Karsenty says.  The country is called “Africa’s Last Eden” due to more than 85% of its territory being covered by rainforest.

For decades the country profited from the underground petrol resources fueling its economy. But in 2010 it began a transition towards diversification through timber production and palm oil plantations. The objective was to balance the country’s economic needs and its response to the climate emergency.  

The initiative was led by the Gabonese-British minister of water, forests, seas and the environment, Lee White, who offered foreign furniture companies and plywood manufacturers financial breaks on the condition that they set up factories in Gabon while simultaneously banning the export of logs and unprocessed wood.   

Strict laws against using the forest for industry were also implemented, meaning manufacturers could only cut down a maximum of two trees per hectare, every 25 years. To deter illegal felling, logs were marked with barcodes so that they could be tracked, “which created jobs, helped the economy to flourish and limited deforestation”, Karsenty says.  

As a final measure, Gabon inaugurated 13 national parks covering 11% of its land mass and installed a satellite-based surveillance system to monitor deforestation.  

these environmental protection measures appear to have worked. Gabon’s forest area is increasing and illegal wood felling has decreased slightly. The number of elephants in Gabon’s forests has gone up from 60,000 in 1990 to 95,000 in 2021.  

There have also been economic gains. Gabon has become one of Africa’s – and the world’s – biggest producers of plywood. In total, the timber industry provides some 30,000 jobs and 7% of the country’s labour force.  

“Thanks to these political decisions, Gabon today is a regional leader on environmental issues,” says Karsenty. ”Several other countries in the Congo basin have said they want to implement measures inspired by Gabon. For example, Republic of the Congo and DRC also want to ban log exports and create free-trade zones to attract investors.”  

“Since 2010, DRC has also introduced several measures aiming to save the forest, notably policies to settle nomadic populations,” Karsenty says. 

The country’s indigenous peoples live in nomadic and semi-nomadic groups, and are reliant on the forest for resources, yet efforts to settle them have had limited success in a country subject to political corruption, instability and armed conflict. 

“There’s a real regional rivalry to appear internationally as a leader in forest protection,” Karsenty says. “And the main reason behind this race for leadership is seeking out financing from countries in the Global North.”  

In 2019, Norway agreed to transfer $150 million to Gabon over a 10-year period to support its environmental policies. Although Norway has acted as a “benefactor” for tropical forests for some years, this marked the first time it had offered financial aid to a country located outside the Amazon basin or Indonesia.   A year and a half later, Gabon received the first payment – $17 million in exchange for tonnes of CO2 stored, thanks to measures to halt deforestation.  

During COP26, DRC was also promised a landmark $500 million from the international community to protect its forests. “Internationally, the DRC has been asking for years that the country be automatically remunerated for resources the forest would have provided based on some sort of ‘annuity’ rationale,” Karsenty says. “The argument is that by preserving their forests, countries are deprived of income, notably from underground [resources], and that should be compensated.”  

However, the funds have yet to materialise and the country seems to be trying a new approach. In July 2022, DRC President Félix Tshisekedi announced his intention to auction off the land for oil drilling, some of which are located in the heart of the rainforest, home to the world’s largest tropical peat bogs. With the capacity to produce up to 1 million barrels of oil per day, the country could generate revenue of $32 million per year, DRC’s minister of hydrocarbons has said.   

Peat bogs are highly effective natural carbon sinks and damaging them would release enormous amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.    

Karsenty says, “We need to go beyond these arguments and beyond rivalries, to put in place a communal agenda from countries in the Congo basin, achieve regional cooperation and preserve this tropical forest.”  

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Africans in Need

  The number of displacements in Somalia reached a new high of 3.8 million people, said the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Deputy Director General for Operations, Ugochi Daniels.

Climate risks and conflict will amplify current gaps following five consecutive below-average rainy seasons and a projected sixth in early 2023, which could force tens of thousands of people to seek refuge in major cities and towns, particularly in Baidoa and Mogadishu where IOM projects that approximately 300,000 people could be newly displaced by July 2023.

Most of the newly displaced might never go back to their places of origin because the land can no longer provide, and insecurity will only increase as competition for the already scarce resources grows. As a result, entire families will be born and raised in informal settlements amid unsuitable living conditions.

Displacement in Somalia Reaches Record High 3.8 Million: IOM Deputy Director General Calls for Sustainable Solutions - Somalia | ReliefWeb

Ethiopia is highly vulnerable to climatic shocks and is one of the most drought-prone countries in the world1, and the severe drought that began in late 2020 has continued into 2023 with the passing of five poor to failed rainy seasons.

 The 2023 Ethiopia Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) requires $3.99 billion to target more than 20 million people across the country. This includes an estimated 4.6 million internally displaced people (IDPs).

13 million people are targeted for humanitarian response in drought-affected areas. The situation is getting more critical with each failed rainy season and has severely impacted pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities, particularly in the eastern and southern parts of the country, aggravating food insecurity, malnutrition, access to water and a worsening health situation with an increase of disease outbreaks. Worth noting is that some parts of Ethiopia are critically affected by both drought and conflict simultaneously, including Oromia and Somali regions.

Ethiopia: Humanitarian Response Plan 2023 (February 2023) - Ethiopia | ReliefWeb

The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the humanitarian community today launched the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan, which aims at raising $2.25 billion to support the critical needs of 10 million vulnerable people in the country.

"Beyond mobilizing funds for vital needs, the Humanitarian Response Plan is a reminder of our common humanity, solidarity and shared responsibility towards populations affected by conflict, epidemics and natural disasters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which remains a major complex crisis and deserves all the attention it can get," said the Humanitarian Coordinator in DRC, Bruno Lemarquis.

Over the past 12 months, the humanitarian situation has been exacerbated by a spike in violence, particularly in North Kivu province where more than 600,000 people have been newly displaced since March 2022. In neighboring Ituri province, localities have been and continue to be the scene of inter-communal massacres, including in IDP sites, while diseases such as measles continue to affect thousands in South Kivu province. 

Across the country, an estimated 26.4 million people are food insecure, making DRC the most food insecure country in the world. 

Also, with 5.7 million people displaced by conflict, DRC has the largest number of internally displaced people on the African continent.

10 million people in desperate need of humanitarian assistance in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2023 - Democratic Republic of the Congo | ReliefWeb

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Wagner in Africa

Russia seeks greater influence in Africa, and the Wagner Group is likely to be as much a part of this.

 In the Central African Republic, for example, 1,890 "Russian instructors" are supporting government troops in the ongoing civil war.

 In Libya, up to 1,200 Wagner mercenaries are believed to be fighting on the side of rebel leader Khalifa Hifter.

 In Mali, the pro-Russian, anti-Western military junta has also brought hundreds of Wagner fighters into the country, where they are also accused of serious human rights violations.

In Chad, The Wall Street Journal, citing US intelligence sources, reported that the Wagner group was working with local rebels to plan a coup.

The Wagner group has been raking in massive profits with precious tropical timber from the Central African Republic. According to the report, the government in Bangui granted a subsidiary unrestricted logging rights across 187,000 hectares (722 square miles).

In the case of the Ndassima gold mine a concession was withdrawn from a Canadian mining company in favor of one from Madagascar that appears to be a Wagner subsidiary. 

The First Industrial Company, which produces beer and spirits in Bangui, is apparently registered to a Russian businessman tied to Wagner.

For African governments, it can be quite attractive to pay for Wagner's services with mining rights or market access, 

A representative of the All Eyes on Wagner research collective said. "You don't have to withdraw money from your account. You can just say, 'Here, for 25, 50 or 100 years, you can exploit this mine without any problems.' "

Wagner Group offshoots spread Russian influence in Africa – DW – 02/26/2023

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Frontier-Free Africa

 In January 2018, the African Union assembly adopted the Protocol to the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community relating to the free movement of people and rights of residence and establishment.

If ratified by every member state, this protocol would allow Africans to work and live in any African country without needing a work permit. Rather disappointingly, however, only 32 out of 55 countries in Africa have signed it to date, and just four – Rwanda, Niger, São Tomé and Principe, and Mali – have ratified it.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Polluting Kenya.

 The EU and UK export a combined 74 million items of waste clothing to Kenya every year, an investigation by two NGOs has found. These useless textiles are often burned or dumped in landfills, despite most of them being made of toxic synthetic materials, the report claimed.

Published last week, the report found that of the 149 million items of used textiles exported to Kenya every year by the EU and UK, 74 million are instantly classified as waste upon arrival. Furthermore, almost 50 million of these waste items are plastic-based, meaning they cannot be easily disposed of.

Germany sends more of this waste clothing than any other European country, shipping 25 million waste items to Kenya every year. Poland is in second place, sending 18.5 million, with the UK sending 18.3 million. These three countries, along with Hungary, Italy, Belgium, Lithuania, Estonia, France, and Ireland, are responsible for 95% of all second-hand clothing exports from the EU to Kenya.

These statistics were compiled by Clean Up Kenya and Wildlight on behalf of the Netherlands-based Changing Markets Foundation. In researching the report, teams from these NGOs found plastic-based clothing piled four storeys high in a dump in Nairobi, with items spilling into a river.

Items that aren’t piled into similar landfills are often burnt for fuel, the report claimed. Burning polyester clothes – which account for more than two thirds of textiles produced worldwide – “is highly toxic and contributes to air pollution as well as a myriad of health problems,” the report’s authors stated.

Importing used clothing is a thriving industry in Kenya that employs up to 2 million people. However, while the report says that “the lion’s share” of imports from Europe are waste, an industry spokesperson told Euronews that this is “misinformation.”

"This European report assumes that [clothing] traders in Kenya spend their money importing 50 per cent waste," the spokesperson said, adding that importers would be “fools” to do this. "This report is demeaning and an insult to all who work in the second-hand clothes trade across the continent and by spreading misinformation it further threatens millions of livelihoods,” she added.”


RT 21\2\23

Dave C.

Looming Disaster in Horn of Africa

 Large swathes of the Greater Horn of Africa region will not likely see much rain until June, the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Center has warned. The organization says that countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda may be on course to experience a drought more severe than that of 2010 to 2012, which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

The IGAD regional bloc issued the alarming forecast on Wednesday, saying in a statement that “in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda that have been most affected by the recent drought, this could be the 6th failed consecutive rainfall season.

Rwanda, Burundi, eastern Tanzania, and western South Sudan are likely to face similar adverse weather conditions in parts, they added.

With the March-May period contributing up to 60% of the total annual rainfall in parts of the Greater Horn of Africa, “the current trends are worse than those observed during the drought of 2010-2011,” the weather monitoring organization said.

The Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG), co-chaired by IGAD, and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, estimated that approximately 23 million people are currently facing severe food shortages in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. They added that any changes for the better in the weather during the early summer will have a delayed effect on food security in the region.

IGAD’s executive secretary, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, called for an “immediate scaling-up of humanitarian and risk reduction efforts.” He urged national governments, as well as humanitarian and development organizations, to “adopt a no-regret approach before it’s too late.

Mohammed Mukhier of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) for Africa expressed concern that the expected drought could further exacerbate “humanitarian challenges in the region, including the ongoing hunger crisis, the impacts of COVID-19 and internal displacement.

According to UN estimates, 260,000 people, half of them children under five, died of drought-induced starvation in Somalia alone between October 2010 and April 2012.
Speaking in 2013, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Philippe Lazzarini, argued that a lack of early action despite indications of a looming drought was in part to blame for the massive death toll.”

RT 23\2\23

Dave C

Tunisia's president plays the race card.

 Tunisia's beleaguered president plays the racist immigrant card. Tunisia’s vulnerable migrant community is the target of Saied

 Kais Saied told a meeting of security officials that migrants are part of a wider campaign to change the demographic makeup of the country and make it “purely African”.

 Saied called for urgent action to halt the flow of sub-Saharan migrants into the country. “The undeclared goal of the successive waves of illegal immigration is to consider Tunisia a purely African country that has no affiliation to the Arab and Islamic nations,” he said, going on to accuse unnamed parties of complicity in a “criminal arrangement made since the beginning of this century to alter the demographic structure of Tunisia”.

“It is a racist approach, just like the campaigns in Europe,” Romdhane Ben Amor, spokesperson for the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES), was reported as saying by Reuters. “The presidential campaign aims to create an imaginary enemy for Tunisians to distract them from their basic problems,” he said.

The little-known Nationalist party has been campaigning in recent weeks for the authorities to identify and expel undocumented migrants from the country. The message was gaining momentum before being adopted by the president. Many see the president’s campaign as an attempt to distract people from the problems of daily life and the state of the Tunisian economy and to deflect anger from his own role since he suspended the country’s fractious parliament in July 2021.

Tunisia’s president calls for halt to sub-Saharan immigration amid crackdown on opposition | Global development | The Guardian

Thursday, February 23, 2023

South Africa’s Energy Crisis

 “South Africa’s state-owned electricity provider, Eskom, was forced to further slash power output on Tuesday, spokesman Sikonathi Mantshantsha said in a tweet.

According to Mantshantsha, the company cut 7,045 megawatts from the grid, in a move known as load shedding, with the total available electricity distributed across the country, effectively leaving large parts of it without power. Earlier cuts removed no more than 6,000 megawatts. The spokesman confirmed that the company had to increase the intensity of the cuts because it cannot meet demand.

Eskom supplies most of South Africa’s electricity from coal-fired plants. The company has been slashing production because more than half of its capacity in unavailable due to frequent breakdowns at its ageing power stations. Eskom earlier said that the country needs an additional 4,000 to 6,000 megawatts of generating capacity to eliminate the supply-demand gap. However, initiatives to add capacity from private producers have been stalled by legal troubles.

The country has suffered power outages every day this year, according to a report from Bloomberg. The South African Reserve Bank recently said the blackouts cost the country about 899 million rand ($49 million) per day.

Earlier this month, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of disaster over the electricity crisis. The declaration is expected to enable the government to exempt essential services such as hospitals and water treatment plants from power cuts, and allow the country to buy additional power from its neighbours on an emergency basis, among other measures.”


Dave C




Wednesday, February 22, 2023

More Bad News

 The IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Center said on Wednesday that below-normal rainfall is expected during the rainy season over the next three months.

“In parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda that have been most affected by the recent drought, this could be the 6th failed consecutive rainfall season,” it said.

Drier than normal conditions have also increased in parts of Burundi, eastern Tanzania, Rwanda and western South Sudan, the centre added.

Already 11 million livestock that are essential to many families’ health and wealth have died, Wednesday’s statement said. Many people affected across the region are pastoralists or farmers who have watched crops wither and water sources run dry.

Close to 23 million people are thought to be highly food insecure in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Drought in Horn of Africa worse than in 2011 famine | Climate News | Al Jazeera

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Blood Diamonds

 Africa holds mineral wealth with diverse commodities that are sought after the world over. In the diamond industry, local communities miss out on the benefits. The clandestine market for buying and selling the precious stones — particularly diamonds mined by the garimpeiro (informal miner) — is largely dominated by foreigners: Senegalese, Chinese, French, Eritreans, Guineans and Congolese intermediaries, who are not invested in lifting up the local communities.

In diamond-rich parts of Africa, the revenue generated from mineral extraction does little to improve the quality of life for the people who live in those countries. Instead of uplifting communities through mineral riches, many people find themselves stuck in a vicious cycle of exploitation and abuse.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, said African Diamond Council President M'Zee Fula Ngenge, there's a history of conflict brought about by "pervasive greed, postcolonial secessionism, as well as a customary erosion of public sector accountability and government management." 

Ngenge believes only a select few get to directly benefit from the hard labor of miners, keeping the workers barely surviving in order to continue exerting power over them. Regional conflicts not only add to this mix of control and illicit oppression but actually benefit the big names in the diamond trade, allowing them to set the going rate for labor according to how desperate miners are to make money.

This scenario of conflict in Congo is similar in other African countries with large mineral riches as well, said Ngenge, highlighting that many nations in the region are "deliberately targeted [by the diamond industry] for their political and social instability."

What Congo, Angola, Mozambique and many other mineral-rich countries in Africa have in common is the fact that there are two markets for the exploitation of mineral resources: there is a formal extractive industry, which is subject to at least some level of oversight, and a clandestine one, which is dominated by mining corporations.

The African Diamond Council indicates that in the case of smuggled rough diamonds of African origin, an estimated 28% to 32% of revenue out of the total African diamond production is lost. 

"So the 'developed world,' certainly guilty of turning a blind eye, ear and mouth to this kind of omission,"  Ngenge said.

Another expert in the trade described how "Sometimes diamonds are stolen from mines in Angola and transported to the DRC, and then exported to Dubai with documents stating that these diamonds come from the DRC, while originally they are from Angola."This way, custom tariffs and other fees are evaded, the provenance of the gems is concealed, labor standards are circumvented and the dynamics of an entire industry built on the principle of supply and demand are manipulated.

Rafael Marques de Morais, an Angolan author of "Blood Diamonds," believes the multilateral Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, established in 2003, is being abused as a pretense to appease critical voices. According to Marques de Morais, the protocol amounts to little more than window dressing to make it look like something is being done about reducing the impact of the looting and transfer of mineral resources from poor countries, while in truth it safeguards the interests of countries buying the precious stones.

"This is the problem with the Kimberley Process — it acts according to the strategic interests of some countries," Marques de Morais told DW. Locals in diamond-rich communities in Africa, he said, are far from seeing any benefits as the rocks are taken to international diamond hubs like Antwerp and Dubai. "It is enough to say that the diamonds are presented as clean to justify everything. But they are not clean because they continue to be violently exploited." 

Why Africa bleeds diamond revenues – DW – 02/20/2023

Further Reading


Monday, February 20, 2023

The Price of a Job

 Sexual exploitation has been uncovered on tea farms that supply some of the UK's most popular brands, including PG Tips, Lipton and Sainsbury's Red Label.

More than 70 women on Kenyan tea farms, owned for years by two British companies, told the BBC they had been sexually abused by their supervisors.

BBC's Tom Odula spoke to women who worked on tea farms run by both companies. A number told him that because work is so scarce, they are left with no choice but to give in to the sexual demands of their bosses or face having no income.

"I can't lose my job because I have kids," said one woman.

Another woman said a divisional manager stopped her job until she agreed to have sex with him.

"It is just torture; he wants to sleep with you, then you get a job," she said.

One woman also told the BBC that she had been infected with HIV by her supervisor, after being pressured into having sex with him.

True price of a cup of tea: Sexual abuse on Kenyan tea farms revealed - BBC News

The Nigerian Elections and the Cashless Economy

 The poverty rate in India is about 16%, and that of Nigeria is about 46.4% - 2022 Global Multidimensional Poverty Index

The latest estimates are that Nigeria has 71 million people in extreme poverty (living on less than $1.90 per day) compared with India's 44 million.

In just five years between 2015 and 2020, the number of fully employed people dropped by 44% - from 55 million to 31 million people.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it redesigned the higher denomination notes - 200, 500 and 1,000 naira - to replace the cash in circulation, to tackle inflation, curb counterfeiting and promote a cashless society. When announcing the redesign, the CBN said the new notes would begin circulating from 15 December and the old notes would cease to be legal tender at the end of January. The bank then extended the deadline.

It hoped the redesign would bring some of the money being hoarded by individuals and companies back into the financial system.

The reform has created something like a cashless society - but not in the way the CBN had planned.

"The whole idea was to limit how much cash people have access to, in order to encourage them to make digital payments, so they [CBN] can monitor where money goes," says Paul Alaje, a senior economist at management consultants SPM Professionals. "But Nigerian banks don't have the capacity or structure to make digital payments work seamlessly."

"The government has been trying to move the country into a cashless economy for ages," argues policy analyst and economist Dr Yemi Makinde. "Its intention is good, but it is just not feasible, the banking systems were not ready and Nigeria is just used to cash." He continues, "The banks are not doing a good job distributing the money. Bank managers have been keeping a lot of the money aside for people with connections and for the rich, misusing the central bank's policy," Dr Makinde says.

Nigeria's naira shortage: Anger and chaos outside banks - BBC News

Saturday, February 18, 2023

A Fossil-Fuel Free Africa


As diplomats and political leaders headed to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa for an African Union summit, civil society groups from the continent argued that "rather than doubling down on the obsolete and dirty energy systems," the A.U. must "move away from harmful fossil fuels towards a transformed energy system that is clean, renewable, democratic, and actually serves its peoples."

African groups are also circulating to heads of state and ministers attending the A.U. summit a report launched by Don't Gas Africa, in cooperation with the Fossil Fuel Treaty Initiative, at COP27—the United Nations climate conference hosted by Egypt in November that critics called "another terrible failure" because attendees refused to agree to rapidly phase out fossil fuels.

"The idea that gas will bring prosperity and opportunities to Africans is a tired and overused fallacy, promulgated by those that stand to benefit the most: multinational fossil fuel firms and the elite politicians that aid and abet them," the report states. "It is a huge gamble to pursue these gas projects throughout Africa in the hope that they will bring development, wealth, and industry. It is highly likely that they will not and, instead, will burden African governments and citizens with vast debts, stranded assets, environmental degradation, and more broken promises."

Dean Bhekumuzi Bhebhe, campaigner for Don't Gas Africa, echoed those messages, declaring that “African land is not a gas station. Millions are losing their homes, don't have access to food, have their health threatened, and are slipping into higher levels of extreme poverty because of the fossil fuel industry. Instead of selling away fossil fuel extraction rights to big multinational companies," he said, "African leaders should invest in clean, renewable energies that will directly benefit people across the continent without damaging their health."

African Climate Reality Project Courtney Morgan similarly warned that "gas is a bridge to nowhere and will not address energy access challenges on our continent. Decision-makers and policymakers should be supporting sustainable solutions; for a fossil-free Africa."

"The Africa we want is one where the energy system is clean and sustainable and brings real access to African people," Morgan stressed. "The neocolonial gas project on our continent will not serve our needs and will exacerbate the climate crisis, we need African-led sustainable solutions."

Africa Climate Movements Building Spaces coordinator Lorraine Chiponda agreed that "we should not allow further colonial and extractive systems to put Africa on a destructive path," and called on the continent's leaders "to co-create a just development path together with African people that is clean, pan-African, and champions people's regenerative economies away from fossil fuels." regional director Landry Ninteretse said "There is no place for the expansion of fossil gas in the energy transition in Africa, as it would crowd out resources for renewable energy and dull any hopes for the transition," Ninteretse added. "We urge African leaders to reject the push for gas production in Africa and instead galvanize resources from developed nations to support renewable, community-centered, and accessible clean energy systems vital to achieving a just energy transition in the region."

Civil Society Calls On African Union to Foster Fossil-Free Future for Continent (

Friday, February 17, 2023

DRC - Drastic Conditions

 The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to experience one of Africa’s most complex and long-standing humanitarian crises.

More than one million Congolese refugees and asylum-seekers are hosted across the African continent, the majority in Uganda (479,400), Burundi (87,500), United Republic of Tanzania (80,000), Rwanda (72,200), Zambia (52,100), the Republic of the Congo (28,600) and Angola (23,200).

Uganda remains the largest host country of refugees from the DRC on the African continent. In 2022 alone, attacks by armed groups in eastern DRC led to the exile of some 98,000 refugees to Uganda, where a total of almost half a million Congolese refugees are now hosted.

Camps have reached or exceeded capacity in many refugee host countries, and available basic services such as healthcare, water and sanitation are either stretched to their limits or too costly. Food insecurity is a growing concern as people struggle to afford necessities due to rising prices linked to the impacts of the conflict in Ukraine.

Inside the DRC, more than 5.8 million women, men, girls and boys are internally displaced by conflict. In the eastern provinces, more than 132 non-state armed groups operate.

A fragile socioeconomic and political context - exacerbated by the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic – combined with continuous insecurity due to recurring attacks by non-state armed groups, inter-communal violence, and serious human rights violations are limiting opportunities for displaced people to return to their homes and former livelihoods. These drivers are expected to cause continued flows of refugees into neighbouring countries in 2023.

As security worsens in DR Congo, UNHCR and partners seek US$605 million to assist Congolese refugees across Africa - Democratic Republic of the Congo | ReliefWeb

More Suffering for Somalis

 More than 60,000 Somalis, mainly women and children, have fled to Ethiopia’s Somali region in the past few weeks to escape clashes and insecurity in the city of Laascaanood, in Sool region.

They arrived with very little, only taking what they could carry. Women told staff from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, that they had to sell their belongings to pay for transportation to reach safety. Many of them have lost loved ones in the clashes or have been separated during flight.

The refugees are hosted in some of the areas in the country worst hit by the drought and the impact of climate change, following five consecutive failed rainy seasons, where resources are already overstretched. With limited options, many newly-arrived refugee families have resorted to sheltering in schools and other public buildings while others have no choice but to sleep outside. Many urgently need food and nutritional support, water and sanitation facilities, as well as specialized support for people with specific needs.

Inside Somalia, more than 185,000 people have been displaced from Laascaanood town and its surrounding areas since early February. According to local authorities, displaced families have settled in 66 sites within Somaliland while others have crossed into the Puntland region in northern Somalia and other villages bordering Ethiopia.

Tens of thousands arrive in Ethiopia, fleeing recent clashes in Somalia - Ethiopia | ReliefWeb

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Nigeria's Economic Woes

 Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer. The state of Lagos alone has a bigger economic output than Kenya. Moreover, Nigeria generates a larger gross domestic product (GDP) than all other West African states combined. But despite the natural wealth, experts warn of rising poverty and social unrest.

According to Nigerian economist Afolabi Olowookere, whom The Guardian Nigeria cited, the oil sector's share of government revenue dropped from nearly 47% in 2017 to a meager 7.4% in the first half of 2022. 

Nigeria has failed to benefit from the global oil price boom. As a result, the oil sector's share of Nigeria's GDP has also virtually halved since 2010, from more than 13% to just under 6%.

Nigeria's problem is that it relies almost entirely on expensive imports to meet its gasoline needs. Nigeria has four state-owned refineries, but they have become dilapidated and idle due to mismanagement.

The government pours billions of dollars into fuel subsidies yearly to cushion the social consequences. However, consumers then feel the costs at the pump. This has even led to the smuggling of cheaper gasoline from neighbouring countries. Much of the oil and fuel shortage is due to theft. 

The country's foreign exchange reserves are also in dangerous waters. They continue to shrink with each passing year. 

"Nigeria is in a difficult economic situation that continues to deteriorate," World Bank experts wrote. Experts have long called for Nigeria to move away from oil dependence.

Transparency International's ranking shows how corruption continues to cripple Nigeria's economic activity. It is ranked 154 out of  180 countries surveyed in 2021, significantly deteriorating from position 144 in 2018.

Nigeria: Rich in oil but poor in refining – DW – 02/15/2023