A baker in Yaounde is making bread from sweet potato flour. And it is a relief for his consumers who are increasingly finding bread made from wheat flour pricey .
Guy Marcel Nganta, with his big, colorful hat screwed on his head, has been making baguettes with sweet potato, cassava, and other legumes flour for 13 years in Yaoundé. A godsend for this small baker now that in Cameroon, as elsewhere, the war in Ukraine is making wheat supplies more expensive.
From the outside, there is no sign of his little shop - four exposed cinder block walls topped by a corrugated iron roof - below a road in the working-class neighborhood of Nkolndongo. But it is still full and, since Russia invaded Ukraine more than a month ago, his customers, whom he supplies only on order, have increased from about twenty to about fifty, according to him.
A sweet smell escapes from a small rudimentary bread oven. The craftsman kneads, kneaded, and molds bread made only with food "made in Cameroon", says Guy Marcel proudly.
Cameroon, like many other countries on the continent or elsewhere, is affected by the war between Russia and Ukraine, respectively the first and fourth-largest exporter of wheat in the world, a commodity whose prices soar since the beginning of the war.
Russia was accused Tuesday before the UN Security Council of having caused a "global food crisis", even to run the risk of "famine" throughout the world, with its war in Ukraine, the "breadbasket of Europe".
Word to the ear
The 44-year-old baker's bread has the same appearance as that made with wheat flour, but it is heavier and more consistent in the mouth. And the taste, slightly sweet.
"I do very well with local flour," Nganta says. Because if he cannot sell his baguette more expensive or cheaper than his competitors because of a price fixed by the state, at least their production cost is lower and therefore his profits are higher.
He claims to earn between 50 and 60 CFA francs (7 to 9 euro cents) for each baguette, while the wheat baguette earns only 40. The price of 50 kg of wheat flour has risen from 19,000 CFA francs (about 30 euros) in 2021, to 24,000 francs today, or 36 euros, compared to 20,000 francs (nearly 30 euros) for sweet potato flour and 17,500 (about 26 euros) for cassava.
It is word of mouth that has allowed the artisan baker to see his clientele more than double in recent weeks.
"The taste is really different for bread made in Cameroon and it fills the belly more," enthuses Lewis Ateba, an electrical engineer who leaves the shop with several baguettes.
In this vast central African country of about 25 million people, a quarter of whom live in extreme poverty according to the World Bank, the price of a baguette had been imposed by the state at 125 CFA francs (20 euro cents) for the past 13 years, but it rose to 150 francs (23 euro cents) on March 16, almost 20% more expensive, which immediately provoked discontent and concern.
Kenya's top court ruled Thursday that President Uhuru Kenyatta's bid to change the constitution was illegal, dealing a blow to him and his allies ahead of key elections in August.
"The president cannot initiate constitutional amendments or changes through popular initiative under article 257 of the constitution," six of the seven judges overseeing the case at the Supreme Court said, ruling against Kenyatta's proposal to expand the executive.
But the court left open the possibility for the reforms -- popularly known as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) -- to be instituted by parliament or through other means, so long as the president did not have a hand in the changes.
The reforms would have been the biggest change to Kenya's political system since the introduction of a new constitution in 2010.
The initiative has left the East African nation's political elite divided.
Kenyatta had argued that the change would make politics more inclusive and help end repeated cycles of election violence.
Thursday's decision came after the High Court and Court of Appeal ruled against the proposed amendments last year.
The appeals court even said Kenyatta could be sued in a civil court for launching the process.
But the Supreme Court ruled against this idea.
"Civil proceedings cannot be instituted in any court against the president or the person performing the functions of the office of the president during their tenure of office in respect of anything done or not done under the constitution," it declared.
BBI's detractors -- including Kenyatta's estranged deputy William Ruto, who is running for the top job in August -- say the plan is a little more than a naked grab for power by a two-term president who cannot run a third time.
The timing of the reforms spurred speculation in recent years that Kenyatta is seeking to remain in power by establishing the post of prime minister as part of the BBI.
United Nations-commissioned investigators on Wednesday painted a grim picture for migrants in Libya, just days after they said they were seeking to verify the presence of mass graves at a human trafficking centre in the country's northwest.
Chief investigator Mohamed Auajjar said the group documented "consistent patterns of serious human rights violations" against migrants in government-run detention centres and trafficking hubs.
Libya has in recent years emerged as a popular, if extremely dangerous, route toward Europe for those fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East.
The North African nation plunged into turmoil following the NATO-backed 2011 uprising that toppled and killed long-time leader Moammar Gadhafi.
In the northwestern town of Bani Walid, the investigators, commissioned by the U.N.'s top human rights body, found that "migrants were held captive, murdered, tortured and raped."
They said in the report that at least eight migrants spoke about mass graves in the town, something the investigators said they needed to verify. Auajjar told the Human Rights Council that they were also examining the existence of secret detention facilities including some controlled by armed militias.
The investigators said in an October report that they had evidence of possible crimes against humanity and war crimes in Libya. Many of the alleged crimes, they say, were committed against civilians and migrants detained in the country while trying to get to Europe.
Germany stops training Libya’s coast guard
Hundreds of thousands of migrants hoping to reach Europe have made their way in recent years through Libya, where a lucrative trafficking and smuggling business has flourished.
They pack desperate migrants into ill-equipped rubber boats, then embark on risky voyages across the Mediterranean Sea. Many of those who have been intercepted and returned to Libya — including women and children — are held in government-run detention centres where they suffer from abuse, including torture, rape and extortion, according to rights groups.
Germany on Wednesday announced it will stop training Libya’s coast guard because of concerns about its treatment of migrants. "The German government cannot currently justify the training of the Libyan coast guard by German soldiers in view of the repeated unacceptable behavior by individual units of the Libyan coast guard toward refugees and migrants," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Andrea Sasse said.
South Africa's judiciary has rejected former President Jacob Zuma's appeals to further delay his corruption trial due to resume in April, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said Thursday.
"The NPA welcomes this ruling and will now work to ensure that the trial resumes on April 11, 2022," it said in a statement.
The 79-year-old former head of state is accused of taking bribes from French defense group Thales in a case that is more than 20 years old. He is charged with 16 counts of fraud, corruption and racketeering. Thales is also charged with bribery and money laundering.
Mr. Zuma's corruption trial began last year in May, after numerous postponements and delays due to a number of appeals.
In an unreviewable decision, of which AFP has a copy, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that Zuma's claims have "no reasonable prospect of success on appeal and that there are no other compelling reasons for an appeal to be heard".
In October, the court rejected the former president's request that the attorney general, Billy Downer, whom he accuses of bias, be removed from the case. Jacob Zuma asked the Supreme Court of Appeal to rule on his ability to appeal the decision and filed four appeals. All were dismissed.
In another development, Jacob Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison for stubbornly refusing to appear before a commission investigating state corruption under his presidency (2009-2018).
His imprisonment in July triggered an unprecedented wave of violence and looting in South Africa. He was released on health grounds two months into his sentence.
Angola announced on Thursday the suspension of salaries of striking doctors, who represent the vast majority of the profession in the country and have been demanding better working conditions for ten days.
"We will not pay the salaries of the strikers," said Labor Minister Teresa Dias at a press conference.
Most of the country's approximately 5,600 doctors joined the movement last week for the second time in four months, but some are providing essential services.
The doctors' union called the strike after 20 children died in a single day at a pediatric hospital in the capital Luanda. The deaths were caused by a shortage of medicines and medical equipment, according to the organization's president, Adriano Manuel, who was fired for raising the alarm.
The government has conceded a 6% increase in basic salaries, which is "insufficient", Miguel Sebastiao, the union's secretary general, told AFP.
Doctors denounce hospitals in lack of material, medicines, and accuse the government of building new establishments without providing staff.
"The emergencies, intensive care units, all these services continue to function," said Sebastiao.
Angola is rich in natural resources but a large part of its population lives below the poverty line despite the oil windfall.
The rate of doctors per capita is lower there than in Haiti or Afghanistan, according to the World Bank
The Minority Leader in Parliament, Haruna Iddrisu, and two other legislators from the minority side, have filed a suit at the Supreme Court with the aim of invalidating the passage of the Electronic Transfer Levy (E-Levy) by Parliament last Tuesday.
Mr Iddrisu, Mahama Ayariga, MP for Bawku Central, and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, MP for North Tongu, are asking the court to declare the proceedings and the voting in Parliament that led to the passage of the E-Levy unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect.
The plaintiffs are further seeking an order from the highest court of the land setting aside the passage of the E-Levy.
It is the contention of the three legislators that Parliament did not form the required quorum for decision making as stipulated under Article 104(1) of the 1992 Constitution which was recently interpreted by the Supreme Court in the case of Justice Abdulai v Attorney -General.
The writ filed by their lawyer, Godwin Kudzo Tameklo, is pursuant to Article 2(1) of the 1992 Constitution which allows citizens of the country to file actions regarding alleged violations of the Constitution in the Supreme Court.