These are key developments across Africa this week worthy of note.
African Union invited to G20 on par with EU
The Group of 20 top biggest economies in the world invited the African Union to become a member and on par with the European Union.
After decades of neglect during which both words and deeds indicated that Africa didn’t matter, what then changed to make the continent merit this offer? A number of things it appears.
One is the attention the continent is getting from Western rivals such as China and Russia. China had long committed huge resources, mostly through funding infrastructure projects, to woo governments scross the continent, and succeeding in several cases. Russia has also taken a cue, making proxy interventions through the Wagner mercenary group that have roiled old relations with the West.
Then add the trove of mineral resources found in the continent that are critical to the world’s energy future and Africa becomes a beautiful bride being sought by intensely jealous lovers.
Are there any great benefits from membership? Well, the African Union gets its deserved place at the round table and can be heard as one voice on matters affecting the world, from climate change to global trade and others in between.
Niger reopens airspace as French troops withdraw
Niger Republic reopened its airspace to international commercial flights in a sign that the junta that seized power in July 26 from President Mohammed Bazoum has grown in confidence.
Military flights and others that require pre-authorization remain barred from the airspace, according to Transport Ministry statement early in the week. The closure that barred flights from Niger’s vast desert territory, forced many airlines to make long detours, adding as much as three hours, in some cases, to normal flight times.
The military government led by General Abourahamane Tchiani had feared military intervention by the regional economic body, Ecowas, and France. Ecowas has imposed sanctions on Niger while France, the U.S. and other European Union members refuse to recognize the regime.
The Tchiani-led junta said this week it was in discussions with the French authorities toward withdrawing some 1,500 soldiers they have stationed in the country.
Junta-appointed Prime Minister Ali Lamine Zeine told reporters in Niamey on Monday that all the treaties and protocols allowing French military presence in the country were already voided, adding that the French were illegally in the country.
The new regime had given France one month from August 3 to withdraw the troops from Niger.
France has faced an unraveling of its close relations with several former African colonies who accuse it overbearing exploitation. Some of them, including Mali, Burkina Faso, Centeal African Republic, and now Niger, have made new friendships with Russia.
Nigeria election tribunal affirms questionable vote
Nigeria’s Presidential Election Petitions Court delivered a verdict on September 6 that affirmed the controversial victory of President Bola Tinubu, largely on technicalities, but didn’t the address the broken trust in the process caused by state-backed manipulation of the vote.
Opposition parties challenging the vote have vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court, and the disquiet that greeted Tinubu’s ascension to power remains. Ahead of the verdict, security forces issued warnings against any demonstrations and were deployed in large numbers at suspected trouble spots.
The February 25 elections that returned Bola Tinubu as Nigerian president was condemned by local and international observers as lacking in credibility.
Not only was there widespread voter intimidation by agents of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), at a very critical moment when electronic transmission of results were due to start, the electoral commission’s servers were switched off. Tinubu was declared winner with figures the electoral commission never quite explained how they were procured.
Opposition parties cried foul and mounted a legal challenge to the electoral failings described by European Union observers as a blow to the citizens faith in democracy. There were high hopes that the country’s judiciary might rise to the occasion and salvage the situation.
What happened on September 6 at the Presidential Elections Petitions Court was the contrary. The five judges on the panel, unanimously dismissed all the petitions by the opposition parties and discountenanced all the evidence before it on technicalities.
The key issues were whether Tinubu’s forfeiture of US$460,000 proceeds of drug trafficking in the U.S. disqualified him from office for dishonesty as required by the constitution; whether the electoral commission’s failure to follow its own guidelines was acceptable. There was also a need to interpret a provision that a candidate must score at least a quarter of the votes cast in the capital, Abuja. Tinubu’s nomination of a running mate was also questioned for failing to meet electoral law provisions.
On all these issues, the judges found technical reasons to ignore the evidence provided and instead upheld what many see as the worst election in the country’s history.
Precedence and tradition don’t favour an opposition victory at the Supreme Court. No one declared president in an election in Nigeria has ever been removed from office by the courts, which choose all the time to stay with the establishment rather than rock the boat.
Winning the presidency with only 35 percent of the vote means Tinubu was elected by a minority of voters and rejected by a large majority, at least, 65 percent of the voters. Opposition to Tinubu’s controversial rule is unlikely to dissipate any time soon, which will leave his regime furtive and prone to heavy-handedness.
Gabon junta consolidates, frees Bongo.
Gabon’s new military government led by former presidential guard commander General Bruce Nguema, has freed deposed former President Ali Bongo from house arrest in a sign it was consolidating its hold on power.
The appointment of Raymond Ndong Sima as the transitional prime minister, who had served in the same position under the former president between 2012 and 2014 point to the coup being more of an establishment putsch aimed at staving off potentially more radical actors, as happened in Mali and Burkina Faso.
Bongo is being allowed by the junta to seek medical treatment abroad, which appears to be an offer of the opportunity to go away, preferably into exile. This way the junta can prevent him from being a symbol around which their opponents could rally with destabilizing consequences.
Quake in Morocco shows vulnerability
Morocco’s historical city of Marakesh was struck by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake, leaving more than 2,000 dead and exposing the underbelly of poverty in what is considered one of the more prosperous North African countries.
Those poorer communities living beyond the facade of the tourist centers of the city were among the worst affected for being the least prepared for one of the deadliest quakes in the country’s history.
The aftermath of the earthquake may see a rise in political tensions if discontent mounts in the kingdom ruled by Mohammed VI since his father’s death in 1999.
The country of more than 37 million people was spared the upheavals of the Arab Spring and has maintained a stable polity despite being run as a monarchy. It remains to be seen if the the latest quake will go beyond the physical damage and trigger political cracks that will pose a problem the the government in the short-to-medium term.
Mozambique makes a headway against Islamist rebels
Mozambique appears to have made significant inroads in recent months against Islamist insurgents threatening its multibillion-dollar investments with the apparent killing of the group’s top two leaders.
Bonomade Machude Omar and Yassir Hassan were reportedly killed in separate incidents in the northern Cabo del Gado province earlier this year. The gas-rich region has attracted investments from ToralEnergies and ExxonMobil to develop the fuel with a potential to initiate a far-reaching transformation of its economy.
All these have been threatened by attacks by the Islamic State-affiliated group that started in 2018. The latest successes against the militants appear to be the culmination of regional efforts that brought in troops from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as well as Rwanda to support the Mozambican forces.
Defeat of the insurgents will pave the way for several critical investment decisions delayed in the uncertain atmosphere created by the five-year-old insurgency.
Economic Indicators The foreign reserves of Mauritius rose to US$6.8 billion in August
South Africa’s reserves dropped to US$62 billion in August
September 12. Namibia to release August inflation numbers
September 13. Ghana to release August inflation data.
September 14. South Africa to release latest mining data
September 15. Nigeria, Angola,Mauritius and Botswana to announce interest rate decisions.
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