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Behind the News

Behind the News: All the backstory to our major news this week



In the past one week, there were lots of important stories from around the African continent and we served you some of the most topical ones.

Here is a rundown of the backstory of some of the biggest stories in Africa that we reported during the week.

Nigeria commissions 650,000 bpd Refinery

On Monday, Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari commissioned 650,000 barrels per day (BPD) integrated Dangote refinery project which is the largest single-train refinery in the world, and the largest oil refinery in Africa, in Lagos, the country’s commercial capital.

The 1,100 kilometers refinery, built to handle 3 Billion Standard Cubic Foot of gas per day, is located on a 6,180-acre (2,500-hectare) location in the Lekki Free Zone of the state.

About 650,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the Niger Delta oil reserves would be transferred through a pipeline to the Dangote refinery site for operations. The refinery is projected to meet 100% of the Nigerian oil demands and surplus for export.

According to Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, the refinery is expected to generate 12,000 megawatts of electricity and over 135,000 permanent jobs. It will also save Nigeria $25b, and $30b forex annually.

Nigeria’s public refineries have been virtually in comatose for many years now, making the crude-endowed country rely on imported refined petroleum.

This situation has put a serious strain on the country’s forex reserves, drained its earnings through subsidies, and occasioned supply disruptions.

Congo DR drags Rwanda to ICC

The diplomatic row between East African neighbours, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda got to a new height as Kinshasa filed a complaint against Kigali at the office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Hague, Netherlands on Tuesday.

Rwanda has been consistently accused of supporting the armed group, leading to diplomatic tension between the East African neighbours.

Congo DR wants the ICC to investigate and prosecute any person involved in human rights violations between 2022 and 2023. Meanwhile, the ICC has been investigating eastern DRC since 2004 and it is unclear if the new prayer would shift the court’s focus.

According to a 2022 report by Human Right Watch, resurgent M23 rebels, backed by Rwanda, launched their biggest offensive against state forces in a decade, seizing portions of territory in North Kivu, which worsened the dire humanitarian situation in the region.

Uganda to export nurses to UK

In what seems like a twist to a menace of brain drain which many African countries have complained about, a Ugandan professional body, Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union (UNMU) has said plans are in place to send some of its members abroad.

President of UNMU, Justus Cherop revealed that about 3,000 well-skilled nurses who were not employed by the government already work abroad, as plans by some labour groups in the country to send nurses to work in the United Kingdom and the Middle East continue.

“We have about 5,000 nurses graduating from institutions and universities every year. The government can absorb around 2,000 every financial year,” Cherop said.

He hinted that the country currently has 62,000 qualified nurses and midwives which is more than the 55,000 nurses needed. He claimed that only 28,000 nurses are currently employed by the Ugandan government.

United Kingdom stops migration of foreign student families

The United Kingdom is set to announce a policy to restrict foreign students from bringing family members into the country. Under the policy, foreign students would have to obtain a work visa by getting a skilled job or leave the UK within six months after the end of their studies.

Beyond the student and family travel, the British government is also concerned about the number of illegal migrants to its territory which resulted in a £148 million agreement to deport thousands of refugees to Rwanda last year.

According to the government, the size of the foreign-born population in the UK increased from about 5.3 million in 2004 to over 9.5 million in 2021. A large percentage of the foreign-born population, most of whom are Africans, migrated as families and dependants of students in varsities.

Armed conflict continues in South Sudan

The violent clash between the Sudanese army and fighters of the Rapid Support Force (RSF) paramilitary has continued in the East African country.

The Sudanese army on Friday called on retired soldiers and reservists to re-enlist in the army to swell its ranks as fierce fighting continues.

International bodies like the African Union (AU) and the United Nations have all attempted to broker a truce between the rivalling forces but none has been successful as the warring factions continued to engage in fierce battles, especially in Khartoum and Darfur.

The conflict had led to a difficult humanitarian situation in Sudan. According to Reliefweb, currently, over 11 million people can barely meet the minimum food requirements. Close to four million children under the age of five, as well as pregnant and lactating women (PLW), are acutely malnourished. Drought, floods, and disease outbreaks have contributed to the worsening humanitarian situation.

Behind the News

Behind the News: All the backstories to our major news this week



Over the past week, there were lots of important stories from around the African continent, and we served you some of the most topical ones.

Here is a rundown of the backstories to some of the biggest news in Africa that we covered during the week:

1. Nigeria’s Presidency walks back UNGA goof

President Bola Tinubu’s participation at the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) would have ended on a high but for an unpardonable blunder by Presidential spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale’s describing the epoch NASDAQ Bell ringing by Tinubu as the first by an African leader.

Perhaps in his enthusiasm to please the President of Africa’s most popular country, Ngelale had rushed to release the statement where he announced that President Tinubu was the first African leader to ring the bell at the close of trade at the NASDAQ in the United States.

Tinubu had, on Wednesday, rang the closing bell at the NASDAQ headquarters in New York City on the sidelines of the UNGA, and used the opportunity to advance his foreign investment push in front of financial markets at the famous stock exchange.

“The world’s second largest stock exchange, the National Association of Securities Dealers Automatic Quotation System (NASDAQ), on Wednesday in the world’s financial capital, invited President Tinubu to ring the closing bell. Making him the first African President to ever receive the honour,” Ngelale said.

The statement led to Nigerian journalists doing fact-checks which turned out that Tinubu was not the first African leader to ring the NASDAQ Bell and with the outcome came serious backlash for the Presidency, leading to Ngelale tendering an apology for the goof.

“We inadvertently referred to President Bola Tinubu as the first African leader to ring the bell at NASDAQ on Wednesday in New York, based on the information provided by a third-party event organiser.

“We have since found out that this information was/is incorrect as a former African leader has indeed had the privilege. This error is sincerely regretted,” he said.

This is not the first time Ngelale will have eggs rubbed on his face due to his misrepresentation of facts.

The first was during a meeting between Tinubu and his United Arab Emirates’s counterpart, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dahbi, shortly after thr G-20 Summit held in India.

After the meeting, Ngelale issued a where he said that Tinubu and Al Nahyan had “finalised a historic agreement, which has resulted in the immediate cessation of the visa ban placed on Nigerian travellers.”

By the statement, Ngelale claimed that had claimed that a visa ban on Nigerians by the UAE had been lifted.

However, the UAE authorities immediately rubbished the claim, saying there was no agreement to the effect that the visa ban had been lifted.

In an interview with the CNN, an official of the Arab country knocked Ngelale’s claims, saying the two countries were still working on modalities to “reinforce their ties and explore opportunities for further bilateral collaborations.”

After he was caught in a web of lies, Ngelale did a volte face by putting up a statement where he said officials from the two countries were still in the process of finalising details on reversing the visa ban.

“Given the agreement struck between the two Heads of State, there is need to allow cabinet officials from both sides to work out the finer details and finalize the cross-sectoral agreements.”

“Everyone can now allow the process to work itself out organically, devoid of speculation,” he had said.

2. Sudan’s Army Chief, Gen. Al-Burhan talks up peace negotiations

After over five months of stand off and posting an uncompromising stance, Sudan’s Army Chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, says he is now ready for peace talks aimed at bringing the civil war in the country to an end.

Before now, Al-Burhan and his rival, Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the leader of the Rapid Support Force (RSF) paramilitary had rebuffed every attempt by African leaders and the international community to see reasons why the bloody war that has consumed thousands of civilians and equally displaced millions.

Talks brokered by Saudi Arabia and the United States held in Jeddah were stalled due to the stance of the two warring factions, while several ceasefire agreements were never honoured by the duo.

But in a statement in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Al-Burhan said he was now willing to entertain a peace talk as his preference was for a peaceful solution to the conflict.

“Every war ends in peace, whether through negotiations or force. We are proceeding on those two paths, and our preferred path is the path of negotiations,” Al-Burhan said.

Al-Burhan’s turn around is, however, did not take many by surprise as, in the past few weeks, he has been embarking on a series of foreign visits after remaining holed up in Sudan for the duration of the war.

In his recent his visits to Cairo, Egypt, the Army Chief had said the purpose was to seek solutions and not military support, though he had asked other states to block external help that he claimed the RSF was receiving.

“We asked our neighbors to help us monitor the borders to stop the flow of mercenaries,” he had said.

3. Kagame seeks 4th term in office

In what has become a fad for majority of African leaders, Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame, during the week, announced that he will be seeking to pursue a fourth-term in office under the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF).

Kagame who first came into office office on September 12, 2003, has been in power for the past 20 years and with the announcement of seeking a fourth tenure, he will join other sit-tight African leaders who allow the lure of power to becloud them into entrenching themselves in office perpetually.

Like other of his ilk, Kagame said he decided to go for the tenure elongation because Rwandans wanted him to continue.

“I am happy with the confidence that the Rwandans have shown in me. I will always serve them, as much as I can. Yes, I am indeed a candidate,” he told Jeune Afrique magazine in an interview published on Tuesday.

Kagame had, in 2015, arm-twisted the country’s parliament to conduct a referendum to amend the constitution which eliminated any term limitations for him, allowing him to be president till 2034.

With the urge to seek another nine-year tenure, Kagame will join an elite group of African leaders on the sit-tight terrain which include Paul Biya of Cameroon, Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equitorial Guinea,
Ismail Omar of Djibouti and King Mohammed VI of Morocco, among others.

4. With MohBad’s death comes unending controversies

The death of promising Nigerian Afropop star, Ilerioluwa Aloba, popularly known as MohBad, has thrown up more controversies than could have been envisaged.

The 27-year-old music star died in mysterious circumstances on September 12, and his death has thrown up lots of controversies, sparking widespread protests with Nigerian celebrities and youths holding processions across the country.

The Lagos State government and the police also waded into the suspicious death of the promising young star with a vow to unravel the cause of his death which led to the exhumation of his corpse for an autopsy.

The demise and hurried burial of the talented young artiste by his family prompted the Lagos State government to invite the police and operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) to open an investigation into his death, with the first action being the exhumation of his body for an autopsy.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos also personally intervened in the matter and expressed his commitment to a comprehensive investigation.

“I have instructed that all those who may have played any role whatsoever in any event leading to the death of MohBad be made to face the law after a thorough investigation,” the governor said in a statement he posted on social media.

The suspicious circumstances surrounding Mohbad’s death led to a trending hashtag, #justiceformohbad on social media platforms, including X (formerly Twitter), while many Nigerians have called for an investigation into the death of the music star.

Music enthusiasts have also called for the arrest and prosecution of his former mentor and label owner, Naira Marley, whom MohBad accused of threatening his life following his departure from Marlian Records last year.

The talented singer who was renowned for his baritone voice and hit songs like “Peace”, “Ask About M” and “Pariwo”, has however, become more popular in death than he was when he was alive.

The social media space in Nigeria has also been taken over with posts on MohBad while two of America’s most popular rappers, Meek Mill and Lil Durk also paid tributes to the deceased.

“RIP MOHBAD aka Imole” Lil Durk who wrote on X with the tweet garnering more than 10 million views and retweets in less than over 24 hours.

“I watched his whole story on tik tok!!!! They riding for him in Nigeria. I love that! Meek Mill also wrote on the platform.

5. Nigerian para-tennis couple makes history

In the sporting world, Nigerian para-table tennis players, Kayode Alabi and Ifechukwude Ikpeoyi, made history by becoming the first African couple to qualify for a Paralympic Games after they both picked tickets to the Games in Paris in 2024.

Alabi and Ikpeoyi achieved the feat by triumphing at the ITTF African Para Championships in Giza, Egypt.

While Alabi emerged champion in the men’s Class Six category to qualify for his first Paralympic Games, his wife picked her ticket in the women’s Class Five and both will feature in their maiden games.

Alabi and Ikpeoyi will not lack in company at the Games as other Nigerian players dominated in the men’s singles category and picked the bulk of the tickets, with four of the six entrees making their Paralympic Games debut.

In the women category, Nigeria picked tickets in Classes Nine and Five with Kehinde Lawal and joining Ikpeoyi as champions, while Olufemi Alabi and Victor Farinloye also qualified for the Paris Games.

Other Nigerian players who also booked their places are Isau Ogunkunle, Bolawa Akingbemisilu and Abiola Adesope.

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Behind the News

Behind the News: All the backstories to our major news this week



Over the past week, there were lots of important stories from around the African continent, and we served you some of the most topical ones.

Here is a rundown of the backstories to some of the biggest news stories in Africa that we covered during the week:

Egypt and Turkey intensify efforts to close diplomatic gap

Beyond unpleasant news of the devastating effects of an earthquake in Morocco, and a flood accident in Libya which has killed and displaced thousands, there was something to cheer about from the Arab League this week as “sworn enemies,” Turkey and Morocco gave hope for reconciliation.

Turkey’s President, Tayyip Erdogan discussed bilateral ties and energy cooperation with Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the Indian capital of New Delhi on Sunday.

After 10 years of animosity, the meeting was the most recent diplomatic effort to repair relations between Egypt and Turkey. The first step in recent times to strengthen their diplomatic ties was the assignment of ambassadors to each other’s capitals in July.

The conflict between Erdogan and Sisi began when the latter took office following the Egyptian army’s removal of Muslim Brotherhood President, Mohamed Morsi in 2013 in the wake of significant public protests. Erdogan, who has links with the Brotherhood, while reacting to Sisi’s emergence, referred to him as an illegitimate tyrant in a television interview, and refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the regime.

Turkey later officially requested that Sisi be subjected to sanctions as a “war criminal” by the UN Security Council. Cairo’s response was to put pressure on Ankara to withdraw its application for a Security Council seat. In the end, Egypt recalled its own envoy from Ankara and expelled the Turkish ambassador from Cairo.

The dispute between the two presidents has evolved over time from an ideological disagreement to a contest over opposing visions for the region.

They have guided their countries with divergent stands in matters like the Syrian crisis, the war in Libya, and the definition of maritime borders in the Mediterranean Sea. Thus, diplomatic normalcy between them is capable of influencing significant changes in the Arab League.

However, trade between the two countries has been maintained despite the long-standing hostilities. With a $4 billion purchase, Turkey was the biggest consumer of Egyptian goods in 2022.

Controversy around Nigeria/UAE visa ban saga

The Nigerian government was caught in a web of diplomatic controversy during the week following a back-and-forth situation with the United Arab Emirates. On Monday evening, the Nigerian government had in a statement by Presidential spokesperson, Ajuri Ngelale claimed that the United Arab Emirates had reached an agreement leading to the immediate reversal of the visa ban placed on Nigerian travellers to the kingdom.

The news was well received at home. Diplomatic tension between Nigeria and the UAE went sour in 2021 after the authorities in the Middle Eastern country reportedly ‘barred’ other airlines from bringing Nigerian passengers.

By October 2022, the UAE announced the addition of 20 other African countries to the “blacklist.” The countries listed for the visa ban at the time included Uganda, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Cameroon, Nigeria, Liberia, Burundi, Republic of Guinea, Gambia, Togo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Benin, Ivory Coast, Congo, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Comoros, and the Dominican Republic.

But the “good news” didn’t last too long as media queries on the terms of the revoked visa ban forced clarifications from Mr Ngelale, and eventual denial of the development, particularly as the UAE was silent on the development in their media readout of the communication between the two leaders.

An official of the Gulf state later contradicted the Nigerian government’s position on lifting the visa ban, saying there were no changes on the travel status yet.

“There are no changes on the Nigeria/UAE travel status so far,” the official said in an interview with CNN.

Thus, while the discussions between the leaders may have produced investment agreements, the visa ban remains, at least in the interim. But the two countries remain strong partners. The UAE is one of Nigeria’s largest trade partners. Since the visa ban, capital importation from UAE to Nigeria totalled $225.1m.

Zambia embraces China as debt restructuring talk continues 

Southern African country, Zambia made a significant move in its quest for debt restructuring as President Hakainde Hichilema on Friday arrived in Beijing, China which is Zambia’s largest foreign creditor for discussions. Hichilema met Chinese President, Xi Jinping in an outing which has been reported to have witnessed the two nations upgrading their relations to a “comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.”

Zambia’s main creditor is China, and the Export-Import Bank of China is the owner of almost two-thirds of the $6.3 billion debt that Zambia is currently renegotiating with its official creditors.

Zambia, the first nation in Africa to experience sovereign debt default in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating economic impact, has now reached a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) regarding a protracted debt restructuring plan that will save the nation $7.65 billion by 2026.

The nation also aims to come to an agreement with private creditors over the restructuring of further debt by the end of the IMF’s second review later this year.

Five African nations have so far formally defaulted on their national debt in 2020: Zambia, Ghana, Ethiopia, Chad, and Mali. Zambia has made the most of the debt restructuring plan under the G20 framework.

In 2021, six other African countries — Chad, Eritrea, Mozambique, the Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and Zimbabwe— were seen as debt-distressed as African governments issued a record $7.5 billion in sovereign bonds, 10 times more than in 2016.

Beyond Zambia’s debt situation, experts have commended Zambia’s recent macroeconomic gains. Its open economic disposition to the Chinese model continues to be in the spotlight. Hichilema said at the meeting with Xi, that “Zambia abides by the one-China principle, highly appreciates the guiding concepts and principles of Chinese-style modernisation, and hopes to learn from China’s development experience.”

Tunisia reopens its largest museum after 2-year shutdown

Tunisia’s Ministry of Culture on Thursday announced the reopening of the country’s largest museum, the Bardo National Museum, which was shut two years ago. The museum was shut down in 2021 when President Kais Saied shuttered the parliament, which occupies the same building as the museum. This decision was roundly criticised and dubbed a coup.

The Bardo is housed in a historic palace and features one of the world’s most exceptional collections of ancient Roman mosaics.

With the 2011 Revolution, the 2015 Terrorist Attacks which killed more than 20 people at the Bardo Museum and its surroundings, and the Recent Coronavirus, the nation’s tourism sector has been negatively impacted over the past ten years.

Tunisia is among the most travelled-to nations in Africa. Every year, millions of tourists flock to this region for its scenery, beaches, Sahara Desert, and historic Roman and Phoenician ruin sites.

Tunisia hopes that the reopening of the museum will provide some economic relief to the country’s struggling economy. This has been the point of concern both at home and abroad. Being a major border African state to Europe, the North African country can explore further tourism opportunities with its “European neighbours”

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