1A Landmark Victory for Africa’s LGBTQ Movements
Botswana’s High Court has overturned a colonial-era law criminalizing consensual same-sex relations saying that the legislation was discriminatory, unconstitutional and against the public interest. “A democratic society is one that embraces tolerance, diversity and open-mindedness,” Justice Michael Leburu said, noting that discriminatory law not only serves as a detriment to LGBTQ people, but holds back all of society. The packed court erupted in cheers of joy upon hearing the verdict. Under section 164 of Botswana’s Penal Code, “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature,” was an offense that carried a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment. Section 167 made “acts of gross indecency” — whether in public or private — a punishable offense, with up to two years in prison. The case was brought to court in March by Letsweletse Motshidiemang, a 21-year-old student at the University of Botswana, who argued that society had changed and that homosexuality was more widely accepted, local media reported. The ruling comes just a month after Kenya’s high court upheld its laws criminalizing homosexuality.
2Lagos Becoming Go-to Place for Tech in Sub-Saharan Africa
The fading facades of century-old buildings in a neighborhood of the Nigerian megacity of Lagos house a vibrant technology cluster that’s caught the eye of Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. The Yaba area, home to the Yaba College of Technology and the University of Lagos, is an emerging technology ecosystem — from fewer than 10 startups in 2013 to more than 60 today, including businesses like booking site Hotels.ng. It also hosts digital labs for Nigeria’s oldest bank, First Bank of Nigeria Ltd., and Stanbic IBTC, the local subsidiary of Africa’s largest lender. Lagos, like other major cities such as Nairobi and Accra, is at the height of this exciting expansion in innovation across tech, with Yaba quickly finding itself at the center,” said Chimdindu Aneke, program manager of platform partnerships for sub-Saharan Africa at Facebook, which last year launched a hub space in the neighborhood.
3The Guardian Says It’s Uncovered the Real Reason Russia is Interested in Africa
Russia is seeking to bolster its presence in at least 13 countries across Africa by building relations with existing rulers, striking military deals, and grooming a new generation of “leaders” and undercover “agents”, leaked documents reveal. The mission to increase Russian influence on the continent is being led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman based in St Petersburg who is a close ally of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. The documents show the scale of Prigozhin-linked recent operations in Africa, and Moscow’s ambition to turn the region into a strategic hub. Multiple firms linked to the oligarch, including Wagner, are known by employees as the “Company”. Its activities are coordinated with senior officials inside Russia’s foreign and defence ministries, the documents suggest. The leaked documents were obtained by the Dossier Center, an investigative unit based in London. The centre is funded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian businessman and exiled Kremlin critic. A map from December 2018 seen by the Guardian shows the level of cooperation between the “Company” and African governments, country by country. Symbols indicate military, political and economic ties, police training, media and humanitarian projects, and “rivalry with France”. Five is the highest level; one is the lowest. The closest relations are with CAR, Sudan and Madagascar – all put at five. Libya, Zimbabwe and South Africa are listed as four, according to the map, with South Sudan at three, and DRC, Chad and Zambia at two.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
4Will Nationalising Part of the Kenyan Flag-carrier Lift it Out of Debt?
Kenya Airways Plc. is willing to operate under a state-owned holding company after the troubled airline failed in its bid to jointly run the country’s main airport. Lawmakers in the East African nation are expected to issue alternative proposals, including the possible partial nationalization of Kenya Airways, after they last month rejected the airline’s proposal to operate Jomo Kenyatta International Airport with the state-owned Kenya Airports Authority. The airline, which reported a $59 million full-year loss, is proposing a model similar to Emirates Airline and Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise, which operate as units of state-owned holding companies. Such an arrangement would enable it to double its fleet in five years. Kenya Airways, which is 48.9% owned by the government, is also on the hunt for a chief executive officer after Sebastian Mikosz said he would step down before the end of his three-year contract.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA
5BBC’s Africa Editor on Sudan’s Show and Tell
“It must have seemed like a good idea to somebody, although I cannot imagine why. The plan was to show us how terribly the protesters had behaved. If the world could see what they were really like they would understand that the regime had no choice but to send in the militia. The health ministry minder told us to follow him so that we could see the ransacked laboratory: smashed sample tubes and more scattered files. The spokesman for the ministry, Hassan Abudulla, said this had all been the work of the protesters. They had broken in and destroyed equipment. He seemed to me to be speaking from a pre-prepared script. Our tour moved on to a medical warehouse where rows of medicines were stacked, many marked with the word “Release”. This was to show us that contrary to opposition claims the militia was not preventing the distribution of badly needed medicines. Next stop was Omdurman, across the Nile and past yet more jeeploads of militia bristling with guns and rocket propelled grenades. The RSF looks more like an army of occupation than an internal security force. There was a brief surge of hope when the African Union suspended Sudan last week and Mr Abiy set out on his mediation mission. But the generals have held their nerve. In particular, the commander of the RSF, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo – known as “Hemeti” – is thought to be pushing a hard line, confident that he has the support of key regional players in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.”
6Why there Can’t be Two Bulls in Senegalese Politics
Soon after Macky Sall was re-elected for a second, and final, presidential term he signed a decree that scrapped the office of the Prime Minister. The argument for this decision was that it would simplify the decision-making process and boost efficiency within the executive. Having changed Prime Ministers three times, between 2012 and 2014, this move may not come as a surprise. But some see it as an overreach, designed to concentrate more power in the hands of the president, and therefore problematic. The office of the Prime Minister has often been seen as a potential threat to the Presidency. The Prime Minister is usually second in command of both the government and the president’s party. This makes them a potential successor to the president. In the history of Senegalese politics, the presence or absence of a Prime Minister has always been a determining factor in governmental stability and political succession. Frequent changes of Prime Ministers are not unsual in Senegalese politics. In the 43 years between 1957 and 2000, Senegal had six Prime Ministers. In the past few years however, these changes have become more frequent. Between 2000 and 2014 there were nine. The office of the Prime Minister has also been scrapped twice – between 1963 and 1970 and from 1983 to March 1991.
SOURCE: THE CONVERSATION
7South Africa’s Deadly Coal Belt
South Africa’s government is being sued for failing to crack down on some of the world’s worst air pollution emitted by power plants operated by Eskom and refineries owned by Sasol. The case was filed in the Pretoria High Court by groundWork, an environmental-rights organisation, and the Vukani Environmental Justice Movement in Action. The so-called Highveld Priority Area, which includes much of Mpumalanga province and part of Gauteng, is the site of 12 coal-fired Eskom power plants, a Sasol oil refinery and coal-to-fuel plant owned by the company. It’s also where almost all of South Africa’s coal is mined. A Greenpeace study for the third quarter of 2018 showed that Mpumalanga had the worst nitrogen dioxide emissions from power plants of any area in the world. The plants also emit sulfur dioxide, mercury and fine particulate matter that causes illnesses ranging from asthma to lung cancer and contributes to birth defects, strokes and heart attacks. Eskom has filed for permission to delay complying with emission limits at some of its plants. Sasolburg, where Sasol operates an oil refinery, frequently has worse air quality than Beijing and Jakarta, two of the world’s most polluted cities.
8Malawi Calls for Sunshine Journalism
Supporters of press freedom in Malawi are denouncing a government order suspending all radio and television call-in programs. Malawi’s Communications Regulatory Authority issued the order on Friday, saying it is concerned that the programs could trigger more post-election violence. A host on Malawi’s privately-owned Capital Radio station reads text messages from listeners on her show. The station is known for broadcasting lively chat shows about politics and society but has been forced to engage with listeners via social media. Malawi press freedom group Media Institute for Southern Africa said the government’s order violates freedom of expression. Broadcast managers are planning to meet with the Communications Regulatory Authority this week to discuss the matter.
9Gabon Appoints Conservationist to Protect Wildlife
A British former Wildlife Conservation Society officer has been named Gabon’s forests minister, after the last one was fired over a scandal in which hundreds of containers of illegally logged kevazingo wood went missing. Lee White ran the WCS programme in Gabon for nearly two decades before becoming head of the central African country’s National Parks Agency. He has dual British-Gabonese citizenship. Gabonese President Ali Bongo has sought to cast himself as an environmental crusader, delighting conservation groups by banning raw wood exports, enlarging protected areas and demarcating 13 new national parks since he took power after the death of his father, Omar Bongo, in 2009. Despite those efforts Gabon remains a target for poachers, illegal logging and the illicit wildlife trade.
SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA
10How African Football Teams are Faring in Paris
The 2019 Women’s World Cup kicked off last Friday with 24 teams in the race to be crowned “queens” of the game over the month-long tournament in France. There are 24 teams classed into six groups. Africa’s representatives are Nigeria’s Super Falcons, Banyana Banyana of South Africa and the Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon. Two of Africa’s reps took to the field on Saturday recording loses by three goals each. South Africa were beaten three – one by Spain whilst Norway crushed Nigeria by three unanswered goals. Cameroon on Monday also lost narrowly to Canada, 1 – 0. Nigeria, are the reigning African champions and are hoping to better their record at the Women’s World Cup and go all the way to the July 7 final. South Africa, who are featuring at the Women’s World Cup for the first time, are the rising star of the continent. Cameroon secured their place at the World Cup by beating Mali in the third place play-off at AWCON 2018 which took place in Ghana earlier this year.
SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS