Thursday, October 19, 2017

Can Somalia Ever Win against Al-Shabaab?

Foreign Policy published on 19 October 2017 a commentary titled "Can Somalia Ever Win against Al-Shabaab?" by Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Institute.

The author concludes that the Somali government must cultivate a credible Islamist constituency of its own, winning over most of the political and financial backers of the Islamic Courts Union, the Islamist movement that briefly took control of much of the country in 2006 and from which al-Shabaab emerged.

Out of Tragedy, An Opportunity for Somalia

The Atlantic published on 17 October 2017 a commentary titled "Out of Tragedy, An Opportunity for Somalia" by Amanda Sperber, a writer based in East Africa.

The author argues that the deadly truck bombing in Mogadishu may finally result in serious security reform by the government of Somalia. While security reform and a reigning in of corruption are certainly needed, there is not much evidence to suggest it will happen.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

China Diversifies Economic Engagement in Africa

The August/September 2017 edition of the New African published an article titled "African Vision, Chinese Muscle" by Neil Ford.

The author emphasizes that economic ties between China and Africa are becoming ever more diverse. New trends are emerging. At the same time, there is a political and geopolitical element to the engagement.

Violence Begets Violence in Somalia

The Atlantic published on 16 October 2017 a commentary titled "Violence Begets Violence in Somalia" by Helen C. Epstein, visiting professor at Bard College.

The account is highly critical of US policy in Somalia, concluding that "Washington has to realize that there is no military solution to this conflict." She adds that diplomacy is called for. While that may be true, al-Shabaab has never demonstrated any willingness to compromise or even engage in meaningful talks.

Monday, October 16, 2017

What is China's Game in Africa?

The New African August/September edition published an article titled "What is China's Game in Africa?" by Anver Versi.

The author concludes by asking if China is a devouring beast or the benevolent creature of Chinese mythology. He adds that time will reveal but perhaps in the meantime we should give China the benefit of the doubt.

A Somali-led Approach to Aid Delivery in Somalia

The Rift Valley Institute published in September 2017 a report titled "Improving Aid Delivery through Localization in Somalia" by Amina Abdulkadir.

The author summarizes recommendations from a recent workshop for improving the delivery of humanitarian aid in Somalia. International organizations now acknowledge that it is time for a Somali-led approach.

Interview with South Sudan's President Salva Kiir

The Washington Post published on 16 October 2017 an article titled "South Sudan Is a Disaster. Its President Says: Not My Fault" by Kevin Sieff.

As US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, prepares to visit South Sudan, President Salva Kiir said the United States is waging a vast conspiracy against his government.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Mogadishu Suicide Bombing

The BBC asked me to comment 15 October 2017 on the horrific truck bombing in Mogadishu, Somalia that occurred the previous day. While al-Shabaab has not yet taken responsibility, it almost certainly was behind the bombing, which may have killed more innocent Somalis than any previous al-Shabaab attack. You can access the BBC clip here.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Challenges for Ethiopia-China Trade

A recent issue of the Asian Research Journal of Arts & Social Sciences published an analysis titled "Post 2006 Ethio-China Trade Relations: Challenges and Prospects" by Getahun Zewde, Assosa University.

Ethiopia has a huge trade deficit with China, which can be largely explained by the unequal terms of trade between agricultural commodities (Ethiopia's major export to China) and capital goods (Ethiopia's primary import from China). Chinese dumping of low priced goods has also forced domestic Ethiopian producers out of business because they cannot compete on price with China. The author concludes that this situation makes it difficult for Ethiopia to achieve a genuine partnership with China.

China's Peacekeeping Role in Africa

The most recent issue of the Romanian Review of Political Sciences and International Relations published an analysis titled "An Overview of China's Expanding Role in Peacekeeping Missions in Africa" by Hans Nibshan Seesaghur and Ricky Dankwa Ansong.

The analysis assesses China's involvement in UN peacekeeping missions and the challenges and issues faced by Chinese personnel in both Africa and the global arena. It comments on China's position as a rising power and implications for China-Africa relations.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Has Great Power Competition Really Returned to Africa?

World Politics Review (WPR) published on 13 October 2017 a commentary titled "Great Power Competition Is Back in Africa. Could the U.S. and Others Collide?" by Steven Metz, author of a weekly WPR column.

The author suggests that great power competition has returned to Africa, although his supporting evidence is thin gruel. He cites China's military base in Djibouti and Turkey's military training facility in Somalia. Turkey is a great power? The author does make a valid point when he says that if the Trump administration ignores Africa altogether, it increases the chances of an unintended conflict with some other outside power.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

China's Aid and Other Official Financing to Africa

AIDDATA, a research lab at the College of William and Mary, published in October 2017 a working paper titled "Aid, China, and Growth: Evidence from a New Global Development Finance Dataset" by Axel Dreher, Heidelberg University, Andreas Fuchs, Heidelberg University, Bradley Parks, College of William and Mary, Austin M. Strange, Harvard, and Michael J. Tierney, College of William and Mary.

The paper introduces a new dataset of official financing--including foreign aid (overseas development assistance or ODA as defined by the OECD) and other forms of concessional and non-concessional state financing (other official financing or OOF)--from China to 138 countries between 2000 and 2014. The distinction between ODA and OOF is critical. Most Chinese OOF consists of loans that must be repaid and does not qualify as ODA. Most of what is covered in this paper is OOF and not ODA. The study suggests that only about 23 percent of China's global development program is financed with ODA. Any comparison of China's aid with aid from Western countries should be careful to compare ODA to ODA and OOF to OOF.

In the years surveyed, by dollar value 34 percent of China's total official finance (ODA and OOF) went to Africa. More significantly, 58 percent of its ODA went to Africa. In terms of number of projects for both ODA and OOF, the top 10 recipient countries were in order: Cambodia, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Angola, Sudan, Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Sri Lanka. The most important recipient countries for both ODA and OOF by dollar value were in order: Russia, Pakistan, Angola, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Laos, Venezuela, Turkmenistan, Sudan, and Ecuador.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia, Egypt and Sudan

The International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard published in September 2017 a study titled "The Muslim Brotherhood Movement in the Arab Winter" by Stig Jarle Hansen, Mohamed Husein Gaas, and Ida Bary.

The study maps the three most important Brotherhood-influenced organizations in Egypt, Tunisia, and Sudan. It concludes that the Muslim Brotherhood is diverse and fragmented but its ideology will remain a significant political force.

How the Gulf Crisis Is Destabilizing Somalia

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 11 October 2017 an analysis titled "How the Gulf Crisis Is Destabilising Somalia" by Omar S. Mahmood, Addis Ababa-based researcher for ISS.

The author concludes that the dispute between Saudi Arabia/UAE and Qatar has highlighted major tensions in Somalia's fragile state-building process, demonstrating how easily this federalism project can become unhinged by outside players.

Are Sanctions Working in Sudan?

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 12 October 2017 a commentary titled "Are Sanctions Working in Sudan?" by Peter Fabricius, ISS consultant.

Fabricius argues that the Trump administration's partial lifting of sanctions against Sudan reflects a carrot-and-stick approach. The partial improvement in Sudan's behavior is rewarded by the partial easing of sanctions. Perhaps that will encourage further improvement. Or perhaps not.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Situation in Eastern Sudan

The Sudan Democracy First Group released on 10 October 2017 the English-language translation of its extensive report initially released in Arabic titled "The Forgotten Territory: The Strategic Thinking for Change and Stability in Eastern Sudan."

The report begins with the assumption that since Sudan's independence, Eastern Sudan has continued to be a victim of the same development marginalization from which all of Sudan's peripheries are suffering. Despite the relative peace in Eastern Sudan, the ruling National Congress Party has aggravated the security, political and economic problems of the region, placing Eastern Sudan in a state of precarious stability and conflict.

Impact of Partial Lifting of US Sanctions on Sudan

World Politics Review published on 11 October 2017 a commentary titled "With U.S. Sanctions on Sudan Finally Lifted, How Will Khartoum Act?" by Andrew Green, a freelance journalist based in Berlin.

The U.S. decision to lift some sanctions on Sudan will pave the way for U.S. businesses and banks to resume activities in Sudan and could help jump start the country's economy.

Will Shoes Made by Chinese Company in Nigeria Stifle Locally Made Shoes?

This is Africa published on 26 September 2017 an article titled "Nigeria Local Shoe Industries Attract Chinese Investors" by Patrick Egwu.

China's Hujian Group is establishing large-scale mechanized shoe production in Nigeria. The existing shoemakers in Nigeria fear Hujian's larger scale and greater mechanization will threaten local entrepreneurs and existing jobs.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Relative U.S. Silence on Africa Opens Door Wider for China

The National Interest published on 9 October 2017 a commentary titled "Trump Needs to Spell Out Strategy for Africa -- Before It's Too Late" by Marcel Plichta, postgraduate student at the University of Glasgow.

The author comments there has been little evidence that the Trump administration plans to engage Africa politically or economically. As Chinese economic and political ties across Africa grow, increasingly stagnant U.S. policy threatens to undermine American interests.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Deciphering Chinese Investment in Nigeria

China-Africa Focus published on 6 October 2017 my brief analysis titled "Deciphering Chinese Investment in Nigeria."

Reporting on Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in Nigeria (and elsewhere) often intermingles the winning of contracts with FDI, giving the impression of more investment than is actually the case. While China is an important source of FDI in Nigeria, it is not as significant as often reported. According to U.S. State Department Office of Investment Affairs' estimates, Chinese companies have provided only about 6 percent of Nigeria's FDI stock, which is slightly ahead of companies from the United States but well behind those in the UK, Netherlands, and France.

Tanzania Replaces Chinese Company with Turkish Company for Railway Project

Kenya's Standard Digital published on 8 October 2017 an article titled "Tanzania Building Electric Rail at Half Price of Kenya's Diesel Standard Gauge Railway Line" by Paul Wafula.

The article compares the process Kenya and Tanzania used to build a new standard gauge rail system in each country. Kenya opted for a no-bid contract with China Road and Bridge Corporation supported by Chinese financing. Tanzania quietly terminated a contract awarded to a Chinese construction company due to allegations of corruption and broke the project into four parts with four open bidding tenders and different funding sources. A Turkish and Portuguese consortium won the first phase and a Turkish company won the second phase. The article argues that the trains in Tanzania will travel much faster than those in Kenya and the project will cost less per kilometer.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Chinese View of Its Engagement in Africa (in French)

HAL open access archives posted on 2 October 2017 a series of articles titled "La Chine en Afrique vue par elle-meme" by Thierry Pairault.

The articles have been translated from Chinese to French and consist primarily of interviews with Chinese business persons working in Cameroon, Namibia, and the Republic of Congo. The China Harbour Engineering Company is the focus of three of them. While I have previously posted several of the translations, this package brings them all together with an introduction in French and English by Thierry Pairault.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Turkey Opens Large Military Base in Somalia

Quartz.com posted on 3 October 2017 an article titled "Turkey Has Opened a Military Base in Somalia As It Steps Up Its Africa Engagement" by Abdi Latif Dahir.

Turkey will train more than 10,000 Somali National Army soldiers as part of an international effort to restructure Somalia's police and military services as they continue their efforts to defeat the al-Shabaab terrorist organization. This is part of a wider effort by Turkey to extend its influence in Africa.

Chinatowns or Chinese Business Districts in Africa?

Pambazuka News published on 5 October 2017 a commentary titled "Chinatowns vs 'Chinatowns' or Chinese Business Districts" by Daouda Cisse, an independent researcher based in Montreal, Canada.

The author argues that references to Chinatowns in Africa are misleading. Unlike the Chinatowns found in North America and Australia, those in Africa are not ethnic enclaves but rather a concentration of Chinese businesses.

Kenya's Presidential Election

The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 2 October 2017 a commentary titled "How to Ensure a Credible, Peaceful Presidential Vote in Kenya."

The ICG argues that it is essential the election take place by the 1 November 2017 deadline. In addition, both political parties must accept important electoral reforms worked out with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.