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Spotlight on Africa

RFI France

A round-up of the week's news in Africa

A round-up of the week's news in Africa
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Paris, France


RFI France


A round-up of the week's news in Africa




Community radio fights Uganda’s LRA legacy

During the 20-year war between the Lord's Resistance Army and government forces in northern Uganda, community stations like Radio Wa used “come home messaging” to encourage abducted children to defect. Today, their broadcasts for peace are working to heal the north's hidden scars. "When the radio began, there was a lot of insecurity," Radio Wa's director Magdaline Kasuku told RFI. It was in late 2001. "There was a lot of violence, there was a lot of killings and one of the biggest weapons...


Is this the man to beat Cameroon's President Biya in this year's elections?

Voters in Cameroon are expected to go to the polls in October for presidential elections that will challenge the 35-year-rule of incumbent President Paul Biya. And one man is hoping to bring Biya’s reign to an end. Akere Muna has been described by some as the most credible possible successor to the Cameroonian leader. The former vice chair of Transparency International has already declared himself as a candidate in the race for the country’s top job. He created the Now Movement aimed at...


Politically motivated violence ahead of Burundi's contentious referendum

Burundians go to the polls on 17 May for a controversial constitutional referendum to decide on changes that could extend the president’s term limits. The changes to the constitution could potentially enable President Pierre Nkurunziza to stay in power until 2034 with an additional two terms of seven years. Nkurunziza has already been in power since 2005 and his 2015 bid for a third term in office led to bloodshed. There were protests, an attempted coup d’etat and crackdown by security...


Cameroon: Pardoned lawyer urges Anglophone groups to hold talks and reconcile diverging views

The various Anglophone groups in north west and south west need to come together and talk, setting aside their differences over self-declared independence, federalism or self-determination, according to a leading Anglophone lawyer. Nkongho Felix Agbor Balla, who spent 8 months in prison for organising Anglophone protests, has told Spotlight on Africa that infighting between the differing groups needs to stop. The crisis in Anglophone regions has worsened over recent months with allegations...


Africa’s economic growth on the increase driven by commodities, World Bank outlook

The World Bank this month published its latest analysis of Africa’s economic outlook. The international financial institution says growth in sub-Saharan Africa is picking up, although not quite as fast as it originally forecast last year. The increase in growth has been helped by rising commodity prices such as oil and metals. Spotlight on Africa spoke to Punam Chuhan-Pole, the World Bank’s lead economist for the Africa region… You say economic recovery is underway in sub-Saharan Africa –...


Playing for peace in the Central African Republic

The conflict in the Central African Republic has pitted sectarian militias against each other at the cost of thousands of lives. But could it be resolved through a game? That's the aim of one African developer called Teddy Kossoko, whose new game Kissoro Tribal Game hopes to create a virtual peace that could inspire the whole of the African continent. "Many people around the world don’t know that the Central African Republic even exists," Teddy Kossoko told RFI. It was partly to tackle...


Tunisia must increase investment and push through reforms, says OECD

Tunisian authorities need to boost investment and continue with economic reforms to help create new jobs, according to a new report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The international economic body has published its first economic survey of Tunisia since the 2011 toppling of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. “The Tunisian economy and society has changed quite substantially in the last few years,” Alvaro Pereira, the OECD’s acting chief economist, told Spotlight...


Fixing broken business financing in Africa with Ovamba startup

The ability of small and medium-sized businesses to access financing is described as one of the biggest challenges to economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa. One startup is trying to change the landscape using innovative technology to reach entrepreneurs who would otherwise miss out on funding by traditional banks and credit organisations. “Ovamba provides small and medium enterprises with short-term capital to fund the purchase of inventory from both domestic and international sources,”...


Post-crisis Kenya seeks to affirm its status as East Africa's powerhouse

After months of uncertainty, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his rival Raila Odinga agreed to put aside their differences on 9th of March, for the good of the country, but also the economy. Their dispute has cost Kenya around €800,000 and seen some of its trade re-routed to Tanzania. "When Kenya sneezes, East Africa catches a cold." The saying, which is widely known in the region and was often quoted by commentators at the height of Kenya's 2007-08 violence to explain the impact of the...


Cameroon: The president who likes to go on holiday

New research published this month reveals that Cameroon’s President Paul Biya has spent at least four and a half years on private travel during his time in power. A group of journalists analysed copies of the state-backed Cameroon Tribune newspaper spanning the last 35 years to determine exactly how much time Biya spends outside of the country. The reporters discovered that the Cameroonian head of state spends the bulk of these holidays in Geneva, France and the US. The report estimates...


Telecom firms giving Africans less digital rights than Europeans

A new report published by advocacy group Internet Without Borders says that telecoms companies operating in Europe and Africa are affording their users different digital rights. The study compares Orange and Vodafone’s subsidiaries to ask whether users in Senegal and Kenya are given the same right to access, use and create digital media as well as access and use devices and networks. The research provides a detailed assessment of respect for freedom of expression and privacy, concluding...


Free speech 'non-existent' in Zambia, says exiled musician

Freedom of expression has deteriorated under Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu, according to a leading musician who fled the country after receiving death threats. Fumba Chama, who goes by the stage name Pilato, fled Zambia at the start of January following a series of intimidating messages. His song Koswe Mumpoto (Rat in the pot) was seen as critical of the government and resulted in menacing voice and video messages. Rights group Amnesty International described the threats to Pilato’s life...


Tunisia's ruler fail to live up to Arab Spring promise

Nearly one thousand people have been arrested in Tunisia in the biggest wave of social unrest since the revolution. Anger at new austerity measures has brought hundreds of Tunisians back onto the streets with the same demands they did back in 2011. Seven years on, protesters say the government has failed to live up to the promises of the Arab Spring. Every January since the 2011 revolution, Tunisians have taken to the streets to vent their anger over high unemployment and corruption. Seven...


Picture what it means to be a Chadian woman

They work as pilots, potters or footballers, sometimes against incredible odds, to build a better future for themselves and their families. Now for the first time, more than two hundred women are being honoured in a new book called "Portraits of Chadian Women", by artists Salma Khalil and Aché Coelo, who are challenging the way society sees African women. It was a sweltering day in March when Salma Khalil first began work on her joint project with fellow artist Aché Coelo to capture the...


Why did Zimbabwe's war veterans ditch Mugabe?

What finally led to the fall of Robert Mugabe on 21 November? The liberation leader turned authoritarian president was toppled by his erstwhile allies, the war veterans. So what sparked their divorce? Zimbabwe was plunged into chaos on Tuesday 14 November when soldiers and tanks were seen heading towards the capital Harare. "There were soldiers at strategic points, no police to be seen, and that was a tip-off that something major was happening," Knox Chitiyo, an Associate Fellow at...


Has world forgotten Somalia's huge terror attack?

Tuesday 14 November marks one month since a truck bomb exploded in the Somali capital Mogadishu, killing hundreds of people – many of whom were never identified. It was the worst bomb attack in the history of Somalia. In Britain, home to the largest Somali community in Europe, members feel the world has already forgotten the tragedy. "We haven’t seen the kind of media coverage that we normally see when one person shoots another in downtown Manhattan, or even in cities like Paris and...


Uganda spy case puts strain on relations with Rwanda

In Uganda up to nine people, including senior police officers, are being investigated for allegedly kidnapping the former bodyguard of Rwanda's President Paul Kagame. A Rwandan ex-general and a Congolese national have also been charged with espionage in connection with the case. It's feared the arrests could put new strain on relations between Kampala and Kigali. Four years after the mysterious disappearance of Lieutenant Joel Mutabazi in Uganda, questions still linger about the extent to...


Cameroon presidential candidate calls for federal government

Barrister Akere Muna recently announced that he is to stand in Cameroon’s 2018 presidential election. In the context of unrest in the anglophone part of the country, the anti-corruption campaigner's decision has aroused crticism from his fellow English-speakers. Talking to RFI, he defended his decision. The dynamic barrister certainly did not expect the reaction he received when he made his political ambitions public on Sunday 8 October. He said he ’s been getting messages of support from...


Hurricane Irma shatters paradise image of Caribbean

Shortly after Hurricane Irma devastated the Caribbean, the islands were awash with tales of looting and claims of discrimination in the repatriation of islanders. In the dual nation island of Saint Martin, the storm has unearthed deep-rooted frustrations. This week’s Spotlight on Africa is a special report on the Caribbean disaster, home to Africa’s first Diaspora community. In the days after Hurricane Irma ravaged several Caribbean islands, scenes of looting and violence began to emerge...


Kenya election ruling wins Africans' admiration

The Kenyan Supreme Court's decision to scrap last month's presidential election, has been held up as an example of judicial independence on a continent where judges are often seen as corrupt. Opposion parties across Africa hope the shock overturn will have ripple effects in their own countries. The court found that the electoral commission “committed irregularities in the transmission of results.” That was enough to convince a majority in Chief Justice David Maraga's panel to annul the...