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Africa Press Review 29 May 2018


Macron meeting the Malian "Spiderman" and Paul Kagame have made it into papers across as have Social Media monitoring in Sierra Leone and the Comoros' rapprochement with English-speaking Southern Africa.

Nigeria's Guardian is leading with "Migrant ‘Spiderman’ who saved child praised by France’s Macron".

Mamoudou Gassama, who has been living illegally in France since last September, became an overnight international sensation after he climbed four floors of balconies to rescue a toddler who was hanging on for dear life. His bravery led him to the Elysée Palace where he was received by French President Emmanuel Macron awarded French Nationality and given a job with the fire brigade.

The Guardian reports Gassama was also congratulated by Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who phoned him at the Paris embassy to congratulate him “for honouring all of Mali,”

However the paper does note that "several aid groups accused the [French] president of “political exploitation”, “hypocrisy” and covering up a harsh policy towards migrants." It writes: "His act of heroism comes as lawmakers debate a controversial bill that would speed up the deportation of economic migrants and failed asylum-seekers, thousands of whom live in squalid camps in the capital."

Meanwhile the East African looks at how less than impressed the Democratic Republic Of Congo is with the French President. This after Macron met with the head of the African Union and Rwandan leader Paul Kagame. The DRC suspects closed-door dealings on its crisis-riddled country's future.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende blasted "We do not accuse the French president of anything. The question is about knowing what may have been said between him  because he spoke about it and the president of Rwanda concerning the DRC without us knowing about."

Kenya's Daily Monitor looks at how The Indian Ocean archipelago of the Comoros will join southern Africa's regional bloc in August. The announcement was made yesterday. The French speaking country is already a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) but it wants to  to develop ties with English-speaking nations such as Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Foreign Minister Mohamed Elamine Souef says.

"These are the countries with which we already have long-standing relations, where Comorians go more and more to, for business or for treatment"

The minister added the decision to join SADC had nothing to do with the islands' spat with France over Mayotte, a neighbouring island which remains part of France but which the Comoros claim is their territory.

The Daily Monitor notes that "Since March, Comoros has refused to take back illegal migrants expelled from Mayotte, located a few dozen kilometres (miles) distant. Paris has in turn stopped issuing visas to all Comorians wishing to travel to France."

Over in South Africa, The Daily Monitor is curious as to how Sierra Leone Monitor's Social Media.

"With the world’s highest internet growth rates, the African continent is experiencing a surge in social media use." writes the paper "However, along with this growth has come numerous government attempts to limit, monitor, tax, or block access to social media sites."

Indeed dear listeners, you will have heard on RFI how East African states in particular have recently enacted a series of measures to control online spaces for discussion. According to the paper, Sierra Leone has been working since 2016 on stopping the "irresponsible use of social media". "The Deputy Information Minister reiterated the seriousness of the government’s approach when he explained, “If it causes us to use the China way, we will use it,” a reference to the blocking of Facebook in China.".

The paper does point out that "the importance of donors and external relations in the plans for legislation were cited, ‘we do not want the international community coming in and saying we are harassing people’."

The debate on the the use of social media was reignited in the lead up to the country's recent presidential elections. 

"The impact the proliferation of information that circulated across social media had on the outcome of the vote is hard to measure, but it was certainly a key space for the sharing of news - fake or otherwise - and a platform for wide ranging political discussion. In response, the government appeared to briefly shut down the internet a few hours after polling stations had closed across the country during the second round of voting." At the time The government in power, the All People’s Congress (APC), claimed that the internet blackout, which lasted around 12 hours, was due to a technical fault with a fibre optic cable.