The Sub-Saharan Africa Section of IR Insider publishes breaking news reports and analysis from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and other Sub-Saharan African nations. Topics covered by the Sub-Saharan Africa Section may range from economic policy in Namibia to elections in Cameroon and beyond. Our section editor is Alyssa Pugliese.
Tragedy has struck Nigeria’s largest city and capital of commerce, Lagos. A school building collapsed leaving a confirmed 20 killed and 45 survivors. The collapse happened Wednesday, March 13 and has left the surrounding neighborhood stunned. The horrid event took place in the Ita-faaji area of Lagos Island located in the downtown commercial center of the city and more broadly the country.
In Malawi, like its neighbor Tanzania, those with albinism are at high risk of being either kidnapped or killed so that their body parts can be sold for witchcraft.
Police have arrested 65 “witch doctors” suspected of involvement in recent ritualistic killings of children in various parts of Tanzania. Inspector General of Police Simon Sirro told reporters that 45 witch doctors from Simiyu (in the northern part of the country) and 20 more from Njombe (in the southwest) are being held in interrogation “over the spate of heinous killings.”
Late Thursday evening a car packed with explosives went off outside of the Makka Al-Mukarama hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia. The detonation was followed by numerous attacks throughout the city leaving 30 killed and 80 injured. The terrorist organization known as Al-Shabaab have claimed responsibility for the attacks. This comes less than a week after a deadly U.S. airstrike killed 35 Al-Shabaab members.
Residents in many corners of Uganda are facing intense struggles as the country enters its fifth month of a severe water crisis. Several areas of the country have not received rainfall for months, the negative effects of which are many: barren farmlands, dried up valley dams, and vegetation highly vulnerable to wildfires.
Sudan’s President, Omar al-Bashir, declared a year-long state of emergency on Friday (Feb. 22) in a live TV address to the nation from the presidential palace in Khartoum. The leader, who came to power through a 1989 coup, announced that he would dissolve both the country’s central and state governments. He also announced that he would delay his push for new constitutional amendments that would allow him to run for a third term in office.
Yang Fen Glan, also known as “the Ivory Queen,” has been sentenced to 15 years in Tanzanian Prison. She has been charged with smuggling 860 elephant tusks worth $6.45 Million. The government is accusing her of conspiring to, “organize, manage and finance a criminal racket by collecting, transporting or exporting and selling government trophies.”
Last week, a longstanding conflict between Kenya and Somalia re-emerged over ownership of contested maritime territory in the Indian Ocean. According to the Kenyan foreign ministry, Somalia auctioned off oil and gas blocks in what it believes to be Kenya’s maritime area, and stated that “this unparalleled affront and illegal grab at the resources of Kenya will not go unanswered and is tantamount to an act of aggression against the people of Kenya and their resources.”
Last Tuesday, Feb.12, flash floods in the town of Kadoma, 125 miles southwest of the capital Harare, filled up two disused gold-mine shafts, trapping between 23-60 people inside.
Nigeria is being rocked by a turmoil-filled election cycle, one that has witnessed allegations of corruption, rigging, fake news, and ultimately the postponement of the election set to take place Saturday, Feb. 16. The election is pitting two major political figures in Nigeria against each other: the incumbent Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Concerns of widespread violence and civil strife have been rocking the country leading up to the election. Much of the turmoil is based around the major security issues concerning the rise of the terrorist group Boko Haram.
The President of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio, decided to declare sexual violence a national emergency last Thursday after a string of high profile cases.
On February 3, a peace deal was reached between the government of the Central African Republic (CAR) and 14 armed rebel groups. The negotiations, which took place in Sudan, began on January 24 amid mounting pressure from the United Nations and the African Union.
Laurent Gbagbo, the former president of Ivory Coast, was acquitted of four counts of crimes against humanity for murder, rape, persecution, and other inhumane acts on Jan. 15 by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. His aide, Charles Blé Goudé, was also facing similar charges of crimes against humanity and was likewise acquitted. They were being held on charges related to violence that broke out following the 2010 Ivory Coast presidential elections.
As of January 26, 2019, Cameroonian opposition leader Maurice Kamto was arrested and has been subsequently brought into custody by state authorities. Kamto is the presidential candidate of the Cameroonian Renaissance Movement(CRM) that faced off against Paul Biya the current leader of the country. Since the October election Kamto has claimed the results to have been rigged.
On Jan. 12 of this year, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that fuel prices would more than double in a country already plagued by spiraling inflation and intense shortages of necessities. Within days, demonstrators took to the streets in a “fuel hike strike” in order to voice their anger and dissatisfaction. Rioting and looting took place in several cities and towns across the country.
As Nigeria celebrates its recent victory in the 2018 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, questions arise yet again about the gender pay gap in African sports. South Africa has introduced several laws within the last decade aimed at promoting equality and representation for women in sports. Initiatives such as the National Sport and Recreation Amendment Act, the South African White Paper on Sport and Recreation, and the Transformation Charter for South African Sport identify women as a type of “marginalized” group in sports and seek to prioritize their representation in sports.
Rwanda, a country known for having very little tolerance for political dissent, has made the news after the high court of the country cleared the most prominent opposition leader DIane Rwigara. Following her election challenge against President Paul Kagame, Rwigara was accused and arrested for insurrection and forgery. She has been cleared because the judge cited that the prosecution had little to no evidence of insurrection or forgery.
Uganda, a country with one of the highest numbers of refugees, around 1.1 million, has faced accusations of aid mismanagement since early 2018. Included in this number of refugees is roughly a million refugees from South Sudan where a civil war broke out in 2013 that has left millions dead or uprooted from their homes, and other refugees from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has now infected 352 people. The situation is slowly growing and poses a real threat to many countries in the region. Part of this is due to the widespread violence in the region, mainly concentrated around the city of Beni. Earlier this week tragedy struck the war-torn region once again as eight peacekeeping troops, and twelve Congolese troops were killed.
Sometimes referred to as “Nigeria’s Taliban,” Boko Haram is a militant Islamist group that has formally existed since 2002 when it organized under the Muslim cleric Mohammed Yusuf. The group is headquartered in the city of Maiduguri and its militants primarily live in the northern states of Nigeria, including Yobe, Kano, Bauchi, Borno, and Kaduna. Earlier this year, UNICEF reported findings that Boko Haram has kidnapped more than 1,000 children in northeastern Nigeria since 2013. And recent events suggest the group shows no signs of stopping.
Recent years have seen a noticeable uptick in repression in Tanzania, specifically with regard to a pattern of growing authoritarianism and intolerance of dissent. This repression has become more pervasive since John Magufuli became the country’s president in 2015. Perhaps the most noticeable measures taken have been in regard to the Tanzania’s stance on LGBT rights.
The people of Madagascar went to the polls on Wednesday, Nov. 7 to vote for their new president with the vote counting beginning on Thursday, Nov. 8.
Abdi Mohammed Omer, former President of the Somali region located in Eastern Ethiopia, resigned last year. He was subsequently arrested after widespread violence broke out in Jijiga, the capital of Somali.
On Monday, October 29, the Nigerian military opened fire on a crowd of 1,000 Shiite protestors. According to Amnesty International, 39 people were killed and hundreds injured. The protests on Monday follow the deaths of 6 people on Saturday, bringing the total to 45 deaths.
Three years later, critics say these rules have harmed the country’s ability to attract foreign investment. Namibia produces diamonds, uranium, and other mineral resources, though it will be difficult for mineral discovery to be entirely effective until investment in the sector increases.
On Sunday, Oct. 7, Cameroonians went to the polls in what was being called a historical election. President of Cameroon, Paul Biya, one of Africa’s longest serving leaders, has been operating in his position for the last 36 years. Biya, who has ruled since 1982, won the election for a seventh term with 71.3 percent of the vote. His opponent, Maurice Kamto, only received 14.2 percent of the vote, according to the Constitutional Council.
On August 1, 2018, the Democratic Republic of the Congo(DRC) announced that there is an outbreak of Ebola that is infecting the North Kivu province of the country. The new outbreak has documented 251 cases and 162 deaths. The number of cases is climbing every day, the week of Oct. 16-23 alone saw over 27 new confirmed cases. The outbreak plaguing the DRC, however, is not only of infectious diseases but also of widespread violence.
Nigerian agriculture has undergone many transformations in recent years. Photo: The Guardian Nigeria. Since entering office in 2015, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has prioritized the transformation of his country’s agriculture industry. Nigeria’s agricultural overhaul has its roots in a desire to decrease unemployment rates, combat the country’s dependence on oil, and increase levels of food security.