Thursday, December 12, 2019

Zambian Officials and Chinese Businessmen Illegally Export Rosewood to China

The Environmental Investigation Agency recently published a report titled "Mukula Cartel: How Timber Tafficking Networks Plunder Zambian Forests."

Senior Zambian officials have reportedly orchestrated and facilitated massive trafficking operations that are driving mukula rosewood trees to the edge of commercial extinction, devastating vulnerable forests, and threatening communities' livelihoods. The State-owned company Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation Limited (ZAFFICO) is secretly used as a cover for well-connected Zambian officials and Chinese business operators to export thousands of mukula logs, despite a ban on their export. The overwhelming majority of the logs goes to China. This expose quotes Chinese entrepreneurs who engage in bribery to facilitate the exports.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

China, Africa, and Distant Water Fishing

The Environmental Security Program at Stimson published on 1 November 2019 a report titled "Shining a Light: The Need for Transparency across Distant Water Fishing."

China has the world's largest distant water fishing fleet. From 2015 to 2017, it accounted for about 38 percent of all distant water fishing. Coastal waters off West African and Indian Ocean countries are the location of much of this fishing, which increasingly constitutes illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Based on case studies in waters off Mozambique and Seychelles, Asian countries (China, Taiwan, and South Korea) appear to be the major cause of IUU fishing.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Sudan and the US State Sponsors of Terrorism List

Foreign Policy posted on 9 December 2019 a commentary titled "Sudan's New Government Can't Succeed If It Remains on the U.S. Blacklist" by Hala al-Karib, Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa, and El Sadig Hassan, Darfur Bar Association.

The transition to a democratic government in Sudan will be difficult enough as it is and much more difficult if it remains on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. The authors argue that the U.S. designation puts an unjust economic and political burden on a government that is working to give democracy a chance.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Getting Sudan over the Finish Line

The International Crisis Group posted on 9 December 2019 an "Open Letter to the Friends of Sudan" by Robert Malley and Comfort Ero.

While Sudan has embarked on a path toward democratic and accountable government, economic fragility threatens its transition. The statement urges the friends of Sudan to bolster the civilin-led administration with urgently needed financial support and calls for an African Union envoy to help keep the transition on track.

Ethiopia: Beyond Ethnic Federalism

Ethiopia Insight posted on 9 December 2019 a commentary titled "Beyond Ethnic Federalism" by Olivia Woldemikael, PhD student at Harvard.

The author argues that while Ethiopia should not lose the gains from ethnic federalism--the empowerment of previously disenfranchised ethnic groups, the promotion of cultural diversity, and a greater pluralism in the Ethiopian identity--it must move towards unity. The current system will only lead to further fragmentation and perhaps down the path of a failed state.

Critical Account of US Policy in Somalia

The National Interest published on 7 December 2019 a commentary titled "State Department Policy Is Fueling Al-Shabaab Resurgence" by Michael Rubin, American Enterprise Institute.

The author argues that strong US support for Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo is taking US policy in the wrong direction. The American Enterprise Institute is a Washington-based conservative think tank.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

An Ethiopian Response to the Nile Water Dispute

Ethiopia Insight posted on 8 December 2019 a commentary titled "Sink or Swim: Unlocking the Nile Impasse" by Mahemud Tekuya, University of the Pacific.

The author, an Ethiopian, argues that if the current effort to resolve differences between Ethiopia and Egypt fails over the fill rate behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile, Ethiopia should not agree to accept mediation by the United States and the World Bank as both tend to favor Egypt. He suggests that the Nile Basin Initiative or the African Union would be a more neutral mediator. Alternatively, Ethiopia could ask the International Court of Justice to rule on the validity of the 1902, 1929, and 1959 treaties that govern Nile water allocation but were never agreed to by Ethiopia.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Resuscitating South Sudan's Peace Process

The International Crisis Group posted on 2 December 2019 a statement titled "A Short Window to Resuscitate South Sudan's Ailing Peace Deal."

The statement concludes that regional leaders should use the 100 day extension for naming a unity government to pressure Salva Kiir and Riek Machar to agree on how to divide the country into states, an essential step for peace.

Somaliland and Puntland: Claims to Sool and Sanaag

The Institute for Security Studies published on 4 December 2019 a study titled "Overlapping Claims by Somaliland and Puntland: The Case of Sool and Sanaag" by Omar S. Mahmood.

Over the past two years, tensions over competing claims to Sool and Sanaag regions by self-declared independent Somaliland and the autonomous Puntland State of Somalia have escalated. Local, regional, and national contestations, combined with a failure to make progress at each level, hinder resolution of the dispute. This report assesses the situation in Sool and Sanaag, focusing on the dynamics driving recent developments and options for the future.

South Sudan Peace Process: The Politics of Delay

The Conflict Research Programme at the London School of Economics and Political Science published on 2 December 2019 a paper titled "South Sudan: The Politics of Delay" by Alex de Waal, Alan Boswell, David Deng, Rachel Ibreck, Matthew Benson and Jan Pospisil.

The authors conclude that the single most important concern during the current 100 day delay in the peace process is maintaining the ceasefire in South Sudan; a slow political process is far preferable to a return to war. A close second is maintaining forward motion in addressing the governance issues facing the country; continued discussion is better than a lurch into authoritarianism. The 100 day delay should be seen by international policy makers as an opportunity for advancing consultation and strengthening action towards a peace agenda.

Africa: Following China's Model?

The Institute for Security Studies posted on 5 December 2019 a commentary titled "China's 'Palate Democracy' May Not Be to Africa's Taste" by Peter Fabricus.

The author concludes that China has lessons worth learning, but governance without elections and choice of ruling party isn't one of them.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

China's Private Security Contractors in Africa

The ChinAfrica Project posted on 3 December 2019 a question and answer titled "Growing Demand in Africa for China's Private Security Contractors" with Alessandro Arduino, Shanghai Academy of Social Science.

The need for Chinese private security companies in Africa was initially driven by Somali piracy, kidnapping and theft. Their services have expanded to intelligence gathering, crisis prevention, and risk assessment.

China-Africa Barter Deals

The Asia and the Pacific Policy Society posted on 3 December 2019 an article titled "Can Ghana Solve Developing Countries' Foreign Currency Problems?" by Lauren Johnston, School of Oriental and African Studies.

Ghana recently signed a $2 billion dollar line of credit with China for financing and building infrastructure in exchange for Ghanaian bauxite. This is effectively a barter arrangement that avoids the need to pay with foreign currency. The gamble is whether the agreed price for the bauxite rises or falls against the benchmark. The deal has similarities to earlier arrangements whereby Angola obtained lines of credit from China paid back by exporting oil to China.

The arrangement in Ghana may lead to other barter deals in Africa, but not all African countries have significant amounts of natural resources or other products desired by China.

China's Belt and Road Initiative and Africa

The Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection in South Africa is preparing a report titled "Africa and the World: Navigating Shifting Geopolitics." It has just posted the chapter titled "China's Belt and Road Initiative: How Can Africa Advance Its Strategic Priorities?" by Philani Mthembu.

The author concludes that Africa can advance its interests through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), especially along the Indian Ocean perimeter given its strategic value for China's supply lines. African countries need to coordinate through their regional economic communities and the African Union in order to ensure that BRI projects advance the stratgic priorities agreed in Agenda 2063 and various regional strategies. African stakeholders must also increase their own maritime capabilities and be prepared to mediate in their own interests when tensions flare up among the great powers as the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean increases.

Sudan Prime Minister's Agenda in Washington

The Atlantic Council published on 2 December 2019 an analysis titled "Sudan's Prime Minister Comes to Washington" by Cameron Hudson, former chief of staff to the US special envoy for Sudan.

Sudan Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is visting Wasahington with a daunting wish list that includes:

--Removing Sudan from the US State Sponsors of Terriorism list;
--Unwinding other congressional and executive branch sanctions related to the genocide in Darfur and human rights abuses in other parts of Sudan;
--Creating a pathway for Sudan to pay back its financial arrears, restart the flow of international financial assistance, and put it on the road to debt relief.

The author argues that Hamdok's political survival and the fate of the nascent civilian government is at stake.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Ethiopia's Difficult Transition to Democracy

Ethiopia Insight posted on 2 December 2019 a commentary titled "Six Causes of Transitional Trauma" by Ahmed Mohamed, Addis Ababa resident who works on governance and security issues.

The author suggests there are six reasons why Ethiopia's transition to democracy is so fraught: (1) EPRDF dissension (2) Prosperity Party confusion (3) politicized security forces (4) politicized civil service (5) weak opposition parties (6) weak democratic institutions.

Stacking the Deck for Somali Elections

African Arguments posted on 28 November 2019 a commentary titled "Somalia: President Farmaajo Stacks the Deck to Secure a Second Term" by Sakariye Cismaan, political commentator on Somalia.

The author argues that Somalia's next presidential election will likely be conducted within the 329-member Somali parliament because the security situation has not improved sufficiently to hold country wide elections scheduled for 2020.

Is South Africa Aligning Militarily with China and Russia?

The Institute for Security Studies posted on 29 November 2019 a commentary titled "South Africa's Military Drills with Russia and China Raise Eyebrows" by Peter Fabricius.

South Africa just completed a naval exercise involving ships from China and Russia. This follows a visit to South Africa by two Russian supersonic Tupolev TU-160 Blackhawk bombers. The author asks if South Africa is switching its military allegiance from the West to China and Russia and seems to conclude this is premature. On the other hand, the Russian defense minister said the joint naval exercise demonstrates that the Russian fleet can act together with the Chinese anywhere in the world.

Zimbabwe Is Copying China Style Surveillance State

VICE News posted on 1 December 2019 an article titled "Zimbabwe Is Trying to Build a China Style Surveillance State" by David Gilbert.

The government of Zimbabwe is trying to silence social media accounts with legislation that bears all the hallmarks of China's censorship and surveillance system. The author argues that Zimbabwe's proposed cybersecurity law is taking its lead from China.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

China's Growing Security Role in Africa

The European Parliamentary Research Service published in October 2019 a briefing titled "China's Growing Role as a Security Actor in Africa" by Gisela Grieger.

The rising number of violent attacks against Chinese workers, calls from the domestic Chinese audience for action, and surging economic loss are some of the factors that have compelled China to give security a higher priority in Africa. China has shifted from uncompromising non-involvement to selective and incremental engagement in bilateral, regional, and international cooperation on peace and security by nuancing, on a case-by-case basis, its principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of foreign countries. China is extending its security influence in Africa by stepping up its engagement in UN peacekeeping operations and supporting anti-piracy efforts. These involvements have provided the rationale for establishing a military base in Djibouti and expanding its naval presence in the Indian Ocean and beyond.

This survey offers a useful summary of China's current security-related activities in Africa.

Ethiopia: Maintaining Unity in Tigray Region

Ethiopia Insight posted on 30 November 2019 a commentary titled "TPLF's Last-man Standing" by Ermias Amare, Ethiopian-American architect in New York City.

Three groups in Tigray Region are competing to influence acting president of Tigray and TPLF chairman, Debretsion Gebremichael. The author wonders if he can keep Tigray Region unified.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Chinese Fishmeal Factories Threaten Gambian Food Security

ChinaDialogue published on 28 November 2019 an article titled "Fishmeal Factories Threaten Food Security in the Gambia" by Louise Hunt, a freelance journalist.

Gambia has three majority Chinese-owned fishmeal factories. Annual production from the largest factory accounts for 40 percent of Gambia's entire fish catch in a given year. There are growing calls by Gambians to shut down the fishmeal factories because they are depleating fish populations and threatening the food security of Gambians.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

What Is Driving Ethiopia's Ethnic Conflicts?

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 25 November 2019 a report titled "What Is Driving Ethiopia's Ethnic Conflicts?" by Semir Yusuf, ISS Addis Ababa.

The author concludes that decades of exclusivist political arrangements have contributed to a steady rise in ethnic consciousness, with the state and ruling party becoming increasingly incoherent. This has increased ethnic disagreement.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Chinese and Indian Goods Hold Back Kenyan Manufacturing

The East African published on 26 November 2019 an article titled "Indian, Chinese Goods Elbow Out Kenyan Products in Region."

Increased competition from cheap imports from China and India and the strengthening of the manufacturing sector in other East African Community countries pose a major threat to the growth of Kenya's manufacturing sector.

China's Belt and Road Initiative Advances in Africa

The Asset posted on 27 November 2019 an article titled "More Belt Road Projects Move Ahead in Africa" by Michael Marray.

The article identifies new Belt and Road Initiative projects funded by China in Mozambique, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Ghana,and Kenya.