- Simon Allison
Although it’s been coming for a while, it was only on Tuesday that Sudan confirmed that it was siding with Ethiopia in the battle for control of the waters of the Nile. Egypt is now on its own in opposition to Ethiopia’s mammoth new hydroelectric plant, giving it little choice but to cooperate. SIMON ALLISON argues that this is an excellent outcome from a potentially explosive situation.
Already, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has played host to one United Nations experiment this year (fortunately, it seems to have worked). Now UN peacekeepers are testing out their latest toy in the Congolese sandbox: a small fleet of drones to keep track of rebels from the sky. It’s a sensible move, but disturbing nonetheless – it wasn’t that long ago that American drones were for “surveillance purposes” only, and look what happened there. By SIMON ALLISON.
A major Nigerian military offensive was supposed to wipe out Boko Haram. But the Islamist militant group has merely changed its tactics, and struck back in spectacular fashion this week with a huge attack on military targets in a key northern city. SIMON ALLISON wonders if there are better ways of dealing with the Boko Haram problem, or if the government should at least be doing something more.
Time’s up for the hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees in Kenya, apparently. In a fit of impatience, a Kenyan official unveiled plans to close the Dadaab complex of refugee camps – the largest in the world. This is easier said than done, however, especially as most of the refugees still don’t have a safe home to which they can return. Whether Kenya likes it or not, Dadaab is here to stay. By SIMON ALLISON.
After all that election talk of indigenisation, Zimbabwe has to indigenise something. The government doesn’t really want to devastate the economy again, however, and it can’t afford (quite literally) to buy out the mining giants who are the real target of their ire. The solution: go after the small fry, the voiceless Chinese and Nigerian small business owners whom no one will stick up for. By SIMON ALLISON.
A recent discussion on South Africa's Talk Radio 702 put the practice of eating human placenta on the table (ahem). Whilst there are reports of some people doing it out of curiosity, a host of new mothers say they choose to eat their placenta for health reasons, claiming it speeds their recovery, increases milk production and prevents postnatal depression. Researched for AFRICA CHECK by MELISSA MEYER
This week it emerged that Botswana has granted concessions to drill for natural gas over large tracts of land: an operation which, it’s claimed, is being carried out largely without public knowledge or consultation. The government of Botswana’s response has been confusing, to say the least. First it said it wasn’t allowing any fracking yet, only exploring. Then it admitted it had allowed certain “types” of fracking. The makers and funders of a new documentary on the subject say that in any case, it’s unacceptable that no public debate on the matter has happened before gas exploration started. By REBECCA DAVIS.
The African elephant is the world’s biggest land mammal; walking the earth at a dignified pace, the elephant has earned its place in the folklore and legend of many cultures. But this impressive creature is being slaughtered at alarming rate for its ivory: it is estimated one elephant is killed every 15 minutes. Check the time now; mark the moment the next grey giant falls. An emergency summit addressing the problems of the illegal ivory is to be held in Gaborone, Botswana at the beginning of December. By KATIE DE KLEE.
As the state collapses into nothing, diplomats are warning that genocide in the Central African Republic can’t be ruled out as tensions between the Muslim and Christian communities stretch to breaking point. But even with the warnings, it is unclear if anyone can do anything to stop it. By SIMON ALLISON.
Once a model of regional integration, the East African Community is showing signs of cracking under the strain of competing agendas. Too slow and too cautious for the rest, Tanzania is being bullied out of the really important decisions – and maybe out of the organisation altogether. By SIMON ALLISON.
Sometimes, diplomacy is all about timing. This week, a fortunate Jacob Zuma got his timing exactly right, turning up in Kinshasa just as South African troops helped the Congolese army to a major victory over rebels in the east. With his own position buoyed by the good news, Zuma’s counterpart Joseph Kabila might just be in a gracious mood when it comes to negotiating those all-important energy contracts. By SIMON ALLISON.
It’s been a tough four years for Madagascar: first a coup, and then a precipitous economic decline. They’ve even been struck by the Black Plague, that most medieval of epidemics. Yet there’s light at the end of the tunnel. A long-delayed election finally happened this week, and it went pretty well. South Africa’s diplomats, so influential in getting the country to this point, are cautiously optimistic. By SIMON ALLISON.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was in Juba this weekend, visiting the leader of a country that he once ruled. In practical terms, the visit didn’t achieve much, particularly when it came to the hot-button issue of what to do about the Abyei region. Symbolically, however, it was a breakthrough in what is a very tense relationship between Sudan and South Sudan. By SIMON ALLISON.
When once-powerful rebel groups withdraw from peace deals and threaten to resume hostilities, it’s worth sitting up and taking notice. But there’s no need to panic just yet. Renamo’s Cold War warriors are a spent force, and its threats little more than a desperate plea for relevance. Mozambique will be just fine. By SIMON ALLISON.