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COVID’s Aftershocks: Africa’s finance ministers are fed up


Explore our new site data.one.org for the latest expert analysis, real-time data, and smart visualisations on the big trends shaping Africa.

This week: violence and desperation in Tigray escalate, Uganda goes into lockdown, Egypt goes greenwashing, and more.

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Every second counts: Up to 100,000 Tigrayans have likely been slaughtered in the past few weeks, the world’s most deadly, yet less covered, conflict. There are reports of dozens of civilian massacres by Ethiopian government forces. WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus warned of a “very narrow window” to prevent genocide. Experts say that food and healthcare are being used as “weapons of war,” as is sexual violence. Emergency services are decimated, leaving doctors with few choices to treat patients, especially the hundreds of thousands on the brink of famine. The African Union and United Nations called again for a ceasefire and peace talks. They’re screaming only partially into the void: Tigrayan forces agreed, but the Ethiopian government insisted that “defensive measures” would need to accompany peace talks. Nothing signals an openness to peace talks like killing innocent civilians.

Boiling point: One child every minute is being admitted to the hospital for malnutrition in Somalia, as the historic drought grips the country. Children are dying on a scale not seen for 50 years, according to UNICEF. The Horn of Africa is staring down the barrel of its fifth consecutive failed rainy season. 37 million people in the region face severe water shortages and food insecurity exacerbated by climate change. But hunger isn’t the only catastrophic outcome of climate change. Mass atrocities and identity-based violence will increase along with rising temperatures. Now if only G7 countries would provide their long-promised $100 billion in annual climate finance to vulnerable countries.

Got you covered: data.one.org has the latest expert analysis, real-time data, and smart visualisations on the big trends shaping Africa. Just click and hit the bookmark button. We’ve even created a video that shows how you can use the site.

Greenwashing repression: The Egyptian government is accused of greenwashing in the lead-up to COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh next month. In a country where activists are imprisoned and blocked from discussing climate change, critics contend that the government is cynically paying lip service to climate action to bolster its reputation. Concrete action on climate change could create up to 9 million new jobs in Africa by 2030, IF governments get serious about transitioning to renewable energy. Alternatively, 4°C of warming could lead to an 80% loss of GDP per capita across Africa by 2100.

Hypocrisy deluge: Unusually heavy rains caused the worst flooding in Nigeria in 10 years, killing more than 600 people and displacing over 1 million people. In some states, flooding is expected to continue into November. Climate change is a major factor, and one that Nigeria did little to cause. Africa accounts for just 4% of global carbon emissions, despite accounting for 18% of the world’s population. And yet, after agreeing at COP26 to help South Africa transition away from coal, Europe’s imports of South African coal increased eight-fold in the first six months of 2022. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Broken promises: At last week’s World Bank-IMF annual meetings and G20 finance ministers meeting, leaders once again fell short of hitting the target of $100 billion in rechanneled Special Drawing Rights to help vulnerable countries recover from the economic and social impacts of COVID-19. G20 countries have pledged $81.6 billion, but that includes $21 billion from the US that is unlikely to get Congressional approval. On a brighter note, G7 governments pushed multilateral development banks to leverage an additional $1 trillion on capital markets. Following the meetings, several African finance ministers suggested that Africa is being “marginalised” by rich countries. Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General António “no punches pulled” Guterres labelled the international finance system “morally bankrupt.” 🥊🥊

Personal touch: African leaders’ eyes were on this week’s Chinese Communist Party’s conference. Under President Xi Jinping’s rule, diplomatic relations between China and many African countries are stronger than ever. With personal relationships often the deciding factor in China’s diplomacy, analysts believe that Xi’s continued leadership will further deepen China-Africa bonds. It will be Xi’s third term after he changed the constitution to allow for it, a trend experts worry allies may follow. With China accounting for 35% of African trade, African leaders are also keeping an eye on the economic impact of China’s zero COVID-19 policy. To paraphrase the former Austrian chancellor Duke Metternich, when China sneezes, Africa catches a cold.

Contagion: The Mubende and Kassanda districts in Uganda have gone into a three-week lockdown as cases from a rare strain of Ebola virus continue to spread. Only cargo trucks are allowed to travel in and out of the restricted areas. Traditional healers are forbidden from treating suspected cases, and police can arrest people who may be sick but are failing to isolate. So far, 19 people are known to have died out of 58 confirmed cases.

The numbers

More reads

  • ONE’s Dr. Joe Kraus outlines how Africa can become a global leader in addressing climate change, drawing from our latest data dive on ONE’s new website data.one.org.
  • Our climate data dive also inspired two articles focusing on how South Africa can tackle the issue head-on and Nigeria’s role in combating the crisis.
  • ONE’s David McNair unpacks what happened at the IMF-World Bank annual meetings last week.
  • Madagascar’s foreign affairs minister was fired for voting against Russia’s Ukraine annexation at the UN. (Reuters)
  • Ugandan health workers are literally going the extra mile to get vaccinations to those in the most remote settings. (Gavi)
  • Experts are advocating for a shift away from the term “sub-Saharan Africa,” highlighting its racist origins. (CODESRIA Bulletin Online)
  • Who’s on stage at the World Health Summit shows who’s in charge. (Devex)
  • Zambia’s finance minister argues in favour of the G20’s Common Framework, urging other African countries to not hold off on debt restructuring. (Bloomberg)

Visit data.one.org for more.

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