In July this year, Africa hopes to see Somalia finally hold their elections, Ethiopia selling a large stake of the state-owned telecommunications company, and much more.
Postponed polls: Somalia elections
Somalia’s political stalemate is set to end by July, but those plans – like others before them – could be thrown off course by insecurity and political wrangling. At the end of May, prime minister Hussein Roble and the leaders of five regional states agreed to aim for parliamentary elections to be held within 60 days.
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Opposition candidates including former presidents Sheikh Sharif and Sheikh Hassan and former prime minister Hassan Ali Khaire complained of attacks against them by government forces in the lead-up to the 2021 election campaign.
President Mohamed ‘Farmaajo’ Abdullahi Mohamed had promised to hold ‘one person, one vote’ elections at the end of his term in December 2020, but was unable to do so due to Islamist rebel group Al-Shabaab’s control of territory, and disagreements with the leaders of Somalia’s federal member states. In September, Somalia’s leaders agreed to a deal to hold indirect elections by the Federal Parliament.
Political tensions are high. Due to a perceived increase in misinformation shared on social media, the Federation of Somali Journalists has launched a campaign called the ‘Disinformation Lab’ against the spread of fake news, hate speech and propaganda.
Military in Mozambique
The US is preparing for a second joint training exercise against Islamic State terrorists in July, as Portugal sends in more troops. US Ambassador to Maputo, Dennis Hearne, said: “This training programme represents the strengthening relationship between the United States of America and the Republic of Mozambique.”
GERD: Fill and be dammed
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has described preventing the second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) as an “existential issue” for his country. The dam has a capacity of 74bn cubic metres, and the aim is to generate 6,000MW through 16 turbines, but countries downstream are worried about the long-term effects on their water supplies. The first filling of 4.9bn cubic metres took place in 2020, and Ethiopia has scheduled the second for July 2021. Sudan claimed at the end of May that the filling had already begun, heightening tensions between the two countries.
South African electricity
South Africans must prepare for a large hike in their electricity bills from 1 July. On 1 April, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa approved the national electricity company Eskom’s request to raise electricity prices for direct customers by 15.06%. Municipalities will announce their own increases, based on their approved budgets, which are likely to be 13.5% for Cape Town and 14.5% for Johannesburg.
Ethiopia is to sell up to 40% of the state-owned telecommunications company, Ethio Telecom, the main internet and telephone service provider in the country, by July. Many international bidders are interested.
- Phuthuma Nhleko: The former MTN group executive chairman’s appointment as an independent non-executive director of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) is effective from 1 July. He will also become the board chairman from May 2022.
- Ednah Otieno: East African Breweries Group human resources director Otieno, who has been in the profession for 18 years, has been appointed to the same role at Diageo Great Britain as of 1 July.
- Brotherhood: Winner of the Prix Ahmadou-Kourouma, the Grand Prix du Roman Métis, and the French Voices Grand Prize in Alexia Trigo’s translation (Europa Editions), the Senegalese writer Mohamed Mbougar Sarr’s debut novel, Brotherhood, is set in an imaginary world of a fundamentalist Islamist government. Following the public execution of two lovers, the characters show heroism, cowardice, fear and love when faced with a brutal regime.
- The River in the Belly: A collection of poetry by the Congolese award-winning writer of Tram 83, Fiston Mwanza Mujila, celebrates the Congo River – a metaphor for the post-colonial DRC. Previously the main route for exploitation of the country’s resources, it is now a symbol of life, but also of poverty and insecurity. Mixing history, religion and myths from Africa and Europe, the volume, originally published in French in 2013, is translated by J. Bret Maley for Deep Vellum.
This article was first published in The Africa Report’s print magazine.
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