U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that he fully supports moves to expand facilities to reintegrate surrendering Islamist insurgents in northeastern Nigeria because it is a key step to achieving peace. Nigeria has been fighting Islamist group Boko Haram and its offshoot Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) for more than a decade, in a conflict that has killed thousands and forced millions to flee their homes. As part of efforts to end the conflict, the government is reintegrating fighters who voluntarily surrender. Borno Governor Babagana Zulum said at least 40,000 Boko Haram fighters and their families have turned themselves in to authorities since last year, as the group reels from the death of its leader early in 2021 and as rival ISWAP seeks to absorb them. Mr Guterres, who visited a camp housing some fighters who surrendered and another housing internally displaced persons in the state capital Maiduguri, later told a news conference that the integration programme would help achieve peace. “The best thing we can do for peace is to reintegrate those who in the moment of despair became terrorists but now want to become citizens and to contribute to the well-being of their brothers and sisters.” The reintegration of the fighters is creating tensions, particularly in Maiduguri where weary citizens have borne the brunt of more than a decade of Boko Haram’s brutal attacks. Guterres urged continued humanitarian support in Borno, but added that, ultimately, people in camps wanted to return to their homes “in safety and dignity.” The state government in December started closing some camps for internally displaced people, citing improved security and the surrender of Boko Haram fighters, although humanitarian groups say it is still unsafe for people to return to their homes.

Data from the Central Bank of Nigeria showed that the debt operators in the power sector owed Nigerian banks increased by 12.83 percent in one year to ₦861.14 billion in December 2021. This is amid the lingering funding challenge plaguing the power sector since it was privatised. In July 2020, the core investors in the power distribution companies (DisCos) were looking to restructure the loans advanced to them by banks for the acquisition of the power assets. The country’s distribution and generation companies (GenCos), in November 2013, were privatised through the Bureau of Public Enterprises, fetching about $3.2 billion for the Federal Government, as the Discos and Gencos were sold for $1.7 billion and $1.5 billion, respectively. The FG officially privatised the six successor power generation companies and 11 distribution firms that were unbundled from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria. The acquisitions by the core investors were financed mostly by debts, a significant portion of which was provided by local banks. Figures from the CBN showed that power generation companies and independent power producers increased their total debt to ₦522.2 billion in December 2021 from ₦443.37 billion in December 2020. Transmission and distribution firms owe banks ₦338.94 billion as of December 2021, up from ₦319.85 billion a year earlier. The incessant crisis rocking Nigeria’s power sector doesn’t appear to be ending soon despite efforts by the FG and the private sector in managing it. There have been diverse concerns, from power generation and transmission to distribution. These concerns have made stakeholders express doubt over the viability of the privatisation of the distribution and generation arms of the industry over eight years ago, which has yet to impact considerably on Nigerians. They said that the recent takeover or re-acquisition of some power distribution companies by a Deposit Money Bank, the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria and another investor, for instance, showed that all was not well with the Discos.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications Limited are expected to commence the rollout of 5G services effective from August 24, 2022. The agency’s spokesperson Ikechukwu Adinde disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday. In December 2021, after 11 rounds of bidding that lasted for eight hours, Mafab and MTN Nigeria emerged as the two successful winners of the 3.5 GHz spectrum auction for the deployment of 5G technology in Nigeria. The commission further confirmed that the two companies fully paid $273.6 million each for the 5G spectrum licence. Adinde said the NCC has issued final letters of licence awards to the two 5G spectrum winners. He said NCC Executive Vice-chairman Umar Danbatta confirmed the development to the board of commissioners at the board’s special meeting, which took place on 20 and 21 April, where the board considered updates from management on the status of the spectrum auction. “With the issuance of the final letters of awards of 5G spectrum and in line with the Auction’s Information Memorandum (IM), the two licensees are now expected to accelerate deployment of 5G network that will usher Nigeria into a more robust Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and a more digitised Nigerian economy,” the statement reads. While the licensees are expected to meet the timetable regarding their 5G network rollout obligations, the NCC emphasised that collective efforts and support of the private sector and government toward transforming every aspect of the nation’s economy through 5G, will herald greater transformation than what the nation witnessed with the 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G.

Burundi’s military said on Wednesday that 10 of its African Union (AU) peacekeepers were killed in an attack on their base in Somalia, while Reuters quotes a security source in the region and a Mogadishu-based source said dozens were dead. Burundi state television quoted army spokesperson Floribert Biyereke saying that 25 other soldiers were wounded in Tuesday’s raid on a camp near the village of El Baraf in central Somalia, while 20 “al Shabaab terrorists” were also killed. The security source in the region said several follow-up operations were going on after al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants overran the camp the previous day. The total number of casualties was not yet clear, he said, but “dozens” of soldiers were killed and about 20 were evacuated with wounds.  The AU and troop-contributing countries such as Burundi, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia typically do not release casualty numbers after attacks. Neither Burundi nor the AU responded to requests for comment on casualties. Somalia is preparing to hold a long-delayed presidential election this month. Political rivalries have split the security services, distracting them from the fight against the al Shabaab insurgency and sometimes spilling into gun battles between rival factions. The AU has fought many bloody battles against al Shabaab since it arrived in Somalia at the end of 2007. In turn, al Shabaab has launched deadly attacks not just in Somalia but within the region, killing hundreds of civilians in Kenya and Uganda. The regionally-based source said there had been between 150-200 Burundian soldiers on the base, but no Somalis because Monday was the Muslim Eid holiday. More than 100 soldiers had been accounted for, he said, adding that Tuesday’s assault was the deadliest since a 2017 attack on a Kenyan base in the town of Kolbiyow.