East Africa at a glance, Major events in 2022

Looking back at the most significant events in 2022, the year has mostly been turbulent one for the East Africa with a few bright spots however recorded.

Conflict, climate change, drought, grain shortages and inflation were marked as the major events that devastate the African region in 2022.

However, the region has witnessed some positive achievements including peaceful power transitions and peace agreements that offered hope in bringing stability and resolving the many crises that haunted the volatile region.

Climate change, Drought 

Climate change induced extreme and deadly weather conditions were amplified in the Horn of Africa.

As a result, millions across the region continue to face the worst in four decades, according to the United Nations.

The worst drought has seen a fifth failed rainy season in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia affecting about 40 million people.

Somalia is the worst drought-affected country in the region.

The climate crisis is hitting Africa “first and hardest”, said Kevin Mugenya, a senior resilience and food security adviser for Africa at Mercy Corps, an international charity

The continent of 54 countries and 1.3 billion people is facing “a catastrophic global food crisis” that “will worsen if actors do not act quickly” Mugenya told The Associated Press news agency.

Shortages of Grain Supply

While the East African countries and the continent at large is yet to fully recover from the socio-economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has also directly affected many African countries.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict which posed  another significant threat to the global economy has caused a serious disruptions in the supply chain of food grains including wheat to those African countries which are heavily reliant on food imports from both Russia and Ukraine.

Unprecedented Inflation

Disruptions in the supply chain of these commodities has caused unprecedented spike in food prices further posing a threat to the food security of an estimated 473 million population of the East African region.

According to UN figures, the sub-Saharan Africa, imported 44 percent of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine between 2018 and 2020.

On the political front, peaceful elections in Kenya, and a peace deal that ended a two-year bloody conflict in Ethiopia were the bright spots for the African region.

Ethiopian Peace Deal

After two years of conflict that claimed over 500 thousand of lives, the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) signed a peace agreement on 2 November, 2022.

The truce has held so far and the reopening of humanitarian access during the past few weeks has brought some relief to the people of Tigray, who had been under a defacto siege for the last two years.

Per the peace deal reached in Pretoria, the parties agreed to the restoration of law and order, the return of basic services in Tigray, and unimpeded humanitarian access to all in need.

The truce was mediated by the African Union which hailed the parties for stopping the conflict which had displaced millions of Ethiopians including to neighboring Sudan.

Several basic services, including communication and transport, had been cut off in Ethiopia’s northernmost region of Tigray, but the government said this week that most services have been restored, including flights and telephone.

Few days before the end of the year, the AU has also sent a monitoring and verification team to oversee the implementation of the peace agreement.

Last Thursday, the AU launched the Monitoring and Verification Mission (AU-MVCM) in Mekelle, Tigray capital facilitated by the AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa and former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo and AU High-Level Panel Members former President of  Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta and Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa.

Exit of Eritrean Army 

After the launch of AU-MVCM, Eritrean forces, who has been fighting against Tigray forces alongside government forces has began packing to leave the Tigray region.

The decision for Eritrea to leave Tigray was reached early last week after a high-level delegation of Ethiopian government for the first time paid a  visit to Mekele since the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA).

Eritrea, however, was not a party to the peace deal, and its troops’ continued presence in Tigray has been raising questions about the durability of the African Union-brokered fragile peace agreement.

Kenya Elections

Another position event the region witnessed during the past year was Kenya’s peaceful elections.

Kenya’s Supreme Court in September upheld William Ruto’s win in the August 9 presidential election, dismissing nine petitions seeking to nullify the result.

The head of Kenya’s Electoral Commission, Wafula Chebukati, declared Ruto the winner with 50.5% of the vote to 48.8% for his rival, Raila Odinga.

But rival Odinga and others approached the court alleging massive fraud, but the court said Ruto had been properly elected.

That has lead to a peaceful power transition in the East African nation.

Sudan troubled transition

After killing over 100 protesters since October 25, the coup leaders in Sudan said they were ready to hand over power to a civilian government on July 4, 2022.

Five months later, the signed framework agreement with the pro-democracy and anti-coup forces on December 5. The deal provides to establish a fully civilian government.

However, their former allies from Darfur armed groups and eastern Sudan tribal leaders seek to sabotage the agreement, putting the whole process at risk.

Also, inter-communal violence flared in the western, eastern southern and southern parts of the country.

According to the UNOCHA, some 300,000 people were displaced by conflicts in Darfur, Blue Nile and Kordofan regions, about 900 people were killed and another 1,100 injured since the beginning of 2022.

South Sudan 

South Sudan witnessed an unprecedented economic meltdown, exacerbated by crippling hyperinflation and historic flooding.

The situation has rendered millions of citizens hopeless, with aid agencies anticipating that over 7 million people could face severe food shortages and starvation.

The previous year saw a spike in insecurity and a large-scale upsurge in communal violence in three regions of South Sudan.

The worst scenarios were in the Twic-Ngok border dispute, Upper Nile multipronged conflict, Jonglei-Pibor Administrative Area cross-border violence, Tonj communal violence, ambushes, and targeted killings on highways in Equatoria region.

On the political arena, the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) and the parties to the September 2018 peace agreement reneged and consequently failed to implement the agreement.

Certain key components of the peace accord have remained unimplemented, despite a series of extensions and four long years of the transitional period.

In August, however, the parties to the revitalized peace agreement signed a roadmap for the extension of the transitional period for an additional 24 months.

Of concern has been the ever-shrinking political space.

The ruling party (SPLM) under President Salva Kiir was blamed for harassing, beating and arbitrarily arresting members of opposition parties across the country.

A case in point was the recent incident in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, where members of the armed opposition movement (SPLM-IO) were beaten, arbitrarily arrested and denied the opportunity to conduct activities.

Terrorism, Armed Conflict 

Despite some positive achievements, terrorism and armed conflicts continue to loom especially in Somalia, which also faces the threat of the Al Shabab terrorist group.

The Al Qaeda-affiliated terror group Al Shabab, which has been fighting the government in Somalia for years, continued to wreak havoc in the country.

The group reportedly continue to plant explosives on streets and cars that have killed hundreds and maimed dozens.

(The EastAfrican Daily)

About the Author: Tesfa-Alem Tekle is a senior journalist, Editor, content strategist, research and Environmental writer 

Email: tesfa4738@gmail.com 

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