By Lynsey Chutel
This is my last Africa letter on foreign policy.
In a couple of weeks I'll be starting an exciting new job that I'll be announcing on Twitter @lynseychutel in the coming days. It was a real privilege to write this weekly newsletter and connect with such a knowledgeable global audience. In writing about this region with which I am so closely connected, I have also had the opportunity to learn from many of you.
Africa Brief will take a short break as FP is looking for a new author. If you think this person is you or you know someone who might take the position, you can find the job posting here. Thank you for this opportunity and I hope you continue to enjoy Africa Brief and all the great content from FP.
And now for this week's highlights: How the COVID-19 pandemic could destroy the dreams of Africa's youth, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is reviewing its "Infrastructure for minerals"Deals with Chinese companies and like a Senegalese immigrant"World language“On TikTok.
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Africa's youth-driven protests
Over the past year, young Africans in various countries have faced a difficult choice: protest and risk exposure to the coronavirus or stay home in frustration and abject poverty. Millions chose to protest. Africa's young population is often cited as one of the reasons the pandemic had less of a severe public health impact there, but the socio-economic impact will be felt most strongly by this population group.
Protests against the lockdown. It started in Senegal when mostly young people gathered to protest the arrest of a popular opposition leader, but activated symbols of their continued frustration with some looting of French supermarket chains. Protests against the lack of economic reforms in Sudan in July then indicated that the 2019 revolution was just the beginning of the dissent.
In Africa's last absolute monarchy, Eswatini, youth-driven anger over the lack of political representation and economic opportunity resulted in days of unprecedented looting and deadly protests. South Africa followed shortly after with demonstrations against the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma, which accompanied anger over rising unemployment and resulted in widespread looting and the deaths of 337 people.
Protests also broke out in relatively stable Tunisia, which in the only success story of the Arab Spring led to an ongoing constitutional crisis. And in Ghana, protests showed a growing gap between the country's leadership and its youth, the majority of the population.
Be worth the risk. The protests all have very different political bases, but all took place against the backdrop of the pandemic in an economic environment deteriorated by the effects of COVID-19.
While infection rates on the continent have remained relatively low compared to the rest of the world, the same is true of vaccination rates. By the end of August, only 2.5 percent of the continent's population had been vaccinated, and the low rate of new infections (with South Africa as an outlier) could be attributed to a number of factors that have masked the true effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 19 pandemic in Africa, such as reduced testing capacity and lack of care facilities.
“The damage that COVID-19 will cause in the short term cannot be denied,” writes futurologist and Africa analyst Jakkie Cilliers in the book The Future of Africa. "Millions more Africans will be sentenced to extreme poverty, incomes will decline and many will succumb to food shortages as efforts to limit infection rates reduce economic activity, jobs and the impact on livelihoods."
Sustainable effects of COVID-19. In the long run, Africa's economic recovery will be slow and painful. An October 2020 report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development estimated that the continent's GDP would fall 1.4 percent if the world entered recession with a decline of 1.25.
When African leaders met in Paris to discuss their post-pandemic economic recovery at a summit chaired by French President Emmanuel Macron, International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva made the disappointing forecast that the rest of the World is expected to grow 6 percent this year, Africa will only grow 3.2 percent. While African leaders asked their Western counterparts for help, it meant little to the millions of young people whose future was at stake – and for whom a one-off stimulus package will do little.
The bump bites back. For the past decade, Africa's youth craze has been celebrated and feared. An average age of 19 offered opportunities as young people capitalized on the technological edge in connected economies, voted for charismatic younger leaders (including Senegal's Macky Sall and Ethiopia's Abiy Ahmed), or drove change where they could by encouraging the optimism of innovation and Presented democracy. They also emigrated en masse and risked their lives to flee to a better future on another continent when jihadism mushroomed and disillusionment with democracy grew.
Before the pandemic, population growth exceeded the number of jobs available, especially for young people, as was the case in South Africa. Bad governance and corruption meant that even when states had ambitious economic visions, the implementation of these policies was poor.
In countries where younger entrepreneurs have tried to build new industries, such as the technology sector in Nigeria or the clothing sector in Ethiopia, the state's inability to deal with security crises has often made growth difficult. In far too many countries, voting has meant nothing, as strong men have retained power through manipulation and violence, often with the tacit approval of Western allies.
While the rest of the world was thinking about an often repeated "new normal" due to the pandemic, it was similar in many African countries. Governments have used the pandemic as an excuse to crack down on dissenting opinions or harass marginalized communities.
“Generally speaking, a country has a higher risk of political instability when 40 percent of the adult population is between 15 and 29 years old. Currently, 41 out of 54 countries fall into this category, ”Cilliers told Foreign Policy. "This challenge is exacerbated when young people's opportunities are severely limited in the form of poor access to government participation, limited education and poor economic development."
Although it is young people who are calling for change, it is still governments that have to respond. The possibilities of the continent's youth can only go as far as those in power allow.
Thursday, September 9th: The corruption process against former South African President Jacob Zuma continues.
Sunday, September 12th: Indirect elections to the lower house of parliament are held in Somalia.
The massive corruption process in Mozambique. Nineteen people who once belonged to Maputo's political elite are on trial in Mozambique's largest corruption scandal to date. More than 60 witnesses will be summoned in the trial, which began on August 23, including former President Armando Guebuza, whose son is among the defendants.
They are charged, among other things, with fraud, embezzlement and abuse of power in the so-called hidden debt scandal. Under the guise of developing Mozambique's maritime security, officials along with a UAE-based shipping company and bankers from Russia's VTB Bank and Credit Suisse have allegedly fraudulent loans worth more than $ 2 billion, or 12 percent of Mozambique's GDP staged.
Meanwhile, Mozambican civil society groups are trying to prevent the extradition of Mozambique's former finance minister to Maputo. Instead, he is to be tried in the US, where three Credit Suisse bankers have already accepted a plea. Manuel Chang has been in a South African prison since 2018 after his arrest on a US indictment.
Kenya's courts maintain their independence. Kenya's appeals court upheld a landmark court ruling banning President Uhuru Kenyatta's plans to amend the country's constitution. A bank of seven appellate judges upheld the High Court's August 20 ruling and dealt a blow to Kenyatta's post-presidency ambitions. The constitutional amendment act, known as the Building Bridges Initiative, was spearheaded by Kenyatta and his former arch-rival Raila Odinga.
Congo is reviewing China offers. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is exploring lucrative deals with Chinese investors, starting with a $ 6 billion "mineral infrastructure" contract for a copper and cobalt mine. The review follows an announcement by President Félix Tshisekedi in May that his government will review all contracts that do not benefit the Central African country, one of the world's leading mineral producers.
Finance Minister Nicolas Kazadi said the government was considering a 2007 deal with Chinese state-owned company Sinohydro Corp. and China Railway Group Ltd. over a large copper and cobalt mine. Kazadi assured journalists that the checks would be carried out "in close partnership with the Chinese themselves."
Rwanda, Uganda takes in Afghan refugees. More than 50 Afghan refugees arrived in Uganda on August 25 and boarded a private flight chartered by the Rockefeller Foundation at the request of the US government. The agreement provides for around 2,000 Afghans to find shelter in Uganda for at least three months while the United States and its allies work to relocate citizens after the Taliban take over Afghanistan.
Almost 250 students from a girls' boarding school will also settle in Rwanda, as the school is temporarily moving to the East African country, thanks in part to an order from the US State Department. The humanitarian acts have raised questions that the United States is overlooking the human rights record of its allies because it is in a bind.
The Gen-Z Mr. Bean. Last week, Khaby Lame became the second person in the world to reach 100 million followers on the hugely popular TikTok social media app. Just 17 months after losing his job at the factory at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lame has achieved the kind of internet fame that mainstream gushers have found.
The 21-year-old made his career mocking the ubiquitous but absurd life hack videos that others post on the platform, reminding his audience of the simple joys in life – like peeling a banana without cutting a cleaver require. Without words, his incredulous facial expression and gestures have created what he calls a "global language" that makes fun of the internet culture in which he lives.
His common man with a humble background in an era of overproduced content earned him the titles of Everyman of the Internet and Gen Z Mr. Bean. The Senegal-born TikTok star has lived in Italy since he was one and his universal appeal has raised questions about Italy's immigration laws: Lamy enjoys the title of the country's most famous TikTokker, but he still does not have a citizenship.
The widening gap. Economically, Africa is still lagging behind the rest of the world and is even falling behind other developing regions such as South America and South Asia. The continent's slow development was curbed by the 2008-2009 global recession and made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Afghan lessons for Somalia. Somalia has had limited success against al-Shabab, "despite billions of dollars in investment and extensive international support," emphasize Liban Obsiye and Liban A. Hussein, both with years of experience within the government, in African Arguments. Like the Taliban, al-Shabab has built extensive inter-tribal relationships in the country and even generated revenue. In order to defeat the jihadist group, the Somali federal government must create a Somali solution with the Somali people, they argue.
In community on the streets of Johannesburg. "The streets of Johannesburg become pulpits on Sundays, believers gather in parks and open spaces, filling the air with liturgical music and devotion," writes Lidudumalingani Mqombothi in the Johannesburg Review of Books, celebrating a common but overlooked sight in the city .