New Agenda 91: Africa Diary

Dateline Africa 1 September 2023 – 31 November 2023 November


9 November: The JSE, South Africa’s biggest stock exchange, introduced trading on a new local voluntary carbon market. Carbon markets allow for the buying and selling of carbon credits (one carbon credit is equal to one ton of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gasses). The credits can be used by enterprises to offset their carbon footprint. The JSE Group said that establishing active carbon credit trading markets in SA will be essential in achieving the country’s emissions reduction commitments, especially given that it is among the largest carbon dioxide emitting nations globally.

1 November: Kenya announced an end to visa requirements for all African visitors by the end of 2023. President William Ruto told an international conference in the Republic of Congo: “It is time we … realise that having visa restrictions amongst ourselves is working against us.” Visa-free travel within the continent has been a goal of the African Union (AU) for the past decade. Only three countries: the Seychelles, the Gambia and Benin offer entry without a visa to African citizens.


22 October: A Nigerian television thriller, “The Black Book”, about corruption and police brutality in that country, has taken the streaming world by storm, spending three weeks in the top 10 English-language titles on Netflix charts in 69 countries globally, peaking at No. 3 in the second week.

13 October: Burkina Faso and Russian state nuclear company Rosatom signed an MOU for the construction of a nuclear power plant in the landlocked Sahel state. This follows a request made by Burkina Faso junta leader Captain Ibrahim Traore to Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Russia-Africa summit in St Petersburg in July and reflects the country’s move closer to Russia after its 22 September military coup and its efforts to break away from its former colonial power, France.

18 October: Turkish energy supplier Karpowership restored power to Guinea-Bissau after supplies were cut off for almost two days. Karpowership said it switched off all the lights in the capital, Bissau, following a protracted period of non-payment. The company signed a deal in 2019 to supply 100% of Guinea Bissau’s power.

19 October: Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) halted all its life-saving surgical activities at Bashair Teaching Hospital in south Khartoum, Sudan, including trauma surgery and caesarean sections, when surgical supplies ran out after a month-long blockade imposed by military authorities on their transport from Wad Madani to south Khartoum. In the previous five months MSF’s surgical team had performed more than 3,000 surgical procedures in that hospital.

19 October: Uganda’s National Environment Management Authority made an urgent call for legislation to impose a total ban on single use plastics, which pose numerous risks of environmental degradation and marine pollution as well as health-related ripple effects such as hampering the fight against rising malaria due to poor drainage that causes stagnant water.

13 October: The International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia reported large-scale war crimes and crimes against humanity since the conflict in that country began on 3 November 2020. In a report to the UN it said the Ethiopian National Defence Forces, Eritrean Defence Forces, regional forces and affiliated militias perpetrated violations and abuses in Tigray “on a staggering scale”. These included mass killings, widespread and systematic rape and sexual violence, sexualized slavery of women and girls, deliberate starvation, forced displacement and wide-spread arbitrary detentions.

22 October: Tanzania signed a 30-year port management deal with leading international port operator, Dubai-based DP World, to invest US$250-million in four quays at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest port. Well-functioning ports are important for building the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as they reduce transport costs.

19 October: Carbon Green Africa (CGA), a Zimbabwean company involved in generating “carbon credits” to offset carbon emissions, announced its separation from South Pole, the largest company involved in selling these credits after credible evidence showed that South Pole sold credits to its clients for carbon reductions that were not real. CGA is also involved in Kariba REDD+, a community project that is part of a UN climate change mitigation framework that allows developing countries to receive results-based payments for emission reductions when they reduce deforestation.

10 October: A report by international monitor Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Rwandan authorities and their proxies were using violence, judicial mechanisms and intimidation to try to silence criticism from Rwandans living around the world. The report described “a global ecosystem of repression”, to muzzle dissenting voices and to scare off potential critics. It has documented more than a dozen murders as well as forced disappearances, combined with surveillance, misuse of law enforcement and abuses against relatives living in Rwanda. Rwanda chairs the Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutions.

10 October: South Africa’s 2022 population census results showed a total population of 62 million people, up 20% since 2011. The census was delayed by Covid and had to be statistically adjusted for large counting errors. The results will be used to allocate national budgets and to redraw the boundaries of election districts. The Western Cape province replaced the Eastern Cape as the third most populous province.

5 October: Multinational bank, Standard Chartered, highlighted obstacles to the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement. “African markets face complex and uncertain trade rules, poor governance, underdeveloped infrastructure, and high costs of capital,” it reported. Conflicting national and regional objectives limit market access and hamper efforts to build integrated regional value chains. On the other hand, it said African economies are on the verge of significant trade growth in the decades ahead if they can marshall the right policies, to build better connections within the continent and beyond.

3 October: The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called on the US to “fund and support” the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC), the paper entity responsible for coordinating and overseeing the implementation of the long-neglected African Mining Vision (AMV). The AMV was developed by the African Union in 2009 for the “optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development.” The purpose here is to lessen US dependence on China for critical minerals. Many of the refined minerals sourced from China originally come from Africa.

2 October: The Presidents of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia met on the Congolese bank of the Luapula River, the border between the two states, to lay the foundation stone for a 345m cable road bridge to be built over the swiftly-flowing river at the mid-point of the Kasomeno-Mwenda Toll Road (KMTR) project. GED Africa, a venture based in Mauritius, will also tar the road for 90km either side. This will speed up the passage of trucks from the rich mines west of the river, as they travel 1,500km through Zambia and Tanzania to the port of Dar es Salaam.


24 September: French President Emmanuel Macron announced an end to bilateral military co-operation with Niger and the departure of all its 1,500 troops in the country by the end of 2023. Between 2013 and 2022 France led an anti-jihadist operation in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger at the request of their governments. Recently, military leaders across the Sahel have staged repeated coups, often with the help of hired Russian mercenaries.

18 September: Researchers at the Boston University Global Development Policy Center published a study that shows dramatic cuts in Chinese loans to Africa due to the difficulties facing the Chinese economy. The researchers expect “more loans with smaller values under $50 million and loans with more beneficial social and environmental impacts” in future.

13 September: In the wake of the G20 Summit, the US State Department announced the EU will be part of a joint feasibility study on “greenfield rail expansion” covering the southern portion of Angola and continuing across most of Zambia. It also referred to an associated project to provide US “loan assistance” for rail refurbishment from the port of Lobito (in Angola) to Kolwezi in the DRC. These promises are part of the G20’s “Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment”, a late challenger to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in October 2023.

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