Friday, January 15, 2021

Impact of Ethiopian Crisis on Somalia

 World Politics Review published on 15 January 2021 an analysis titled "Will Somalia Be Collateral Damage of Ethiopia's Conflict?" by Peter Kirechu.

The author comments that the conflict in Tigray Region of Ethiopia exacerbates problems in Somalia and has resulted in the removal from Somalia of some Ethiopian troops.  This does not bode well for Somalia.  

China and Zambian Debt

 The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 14 January 2021 a commentary titled "Zambia Defaults, Economically and Politically" by Peter Fabricius, ISS consultant.

Last November, Zambia defaulted on a $42.5 million Eurobond payment.  Zambia's debt problem is serious.  Non-Chinese bondholders hold some $3.5 billion in Zambian debt.  Estimates of the scale of the Chinese debt vary widely, anywhere between $3 billion and $20 billion.  Even the Zambian government may not know the precise amount.  

Ethiopian Crisis Threatens Wider Region

 The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) reprinted on 13 January 2021 a commentary titled "Ethiopia's Worsening Crisis Threatens Regional, Middle East Security" by Payton Knopf, USIP, and Jeffrey Feltman, Brookings.

The authors argue that Ethiopia's escalating internal crises pose an increasingly grave threat not only to the country's citizens but to international peace and security and to the interests of the United States and its partners in the Middle East.  

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Update on China's Aid to Africa

 The China Africa Research Initiative (CARI) recently posted updated aid information titled "Data: Chinese Global Foreign Aid."

Drawing on statistics provided by China's Ministry of Finance, CARI charts China's global foreign aid from 2003 through 2019.  Global aid reached $3 billion in 2014 and 2015, dropped to $2.25 billion in 2016, rose to $2.6 billion in 2017, was almost $3 billion in 2018, and reached a new high of $3.1 billion in 2019.  

According to a recent China State Council white paper, Africa received about 45 percent of Beijing's global aid during the years 2013-2018.  Assuming the 45 percent figure holds for 2019, this means Africa received about $1.4 billion in foreign aid from China in that year.   

Update on Chinese Workers in Africa

 The China Africa Research Initiative recently posted an update titled "Data: Chinese Workers in Africa."

At the end of 2019, there were 182,745 Chinese workers in Africa, according to official Chinese statistics.  This number excludes informal migrants such as traders and shopkeepers.  In 2019, the top five countries with Chinese workers were Algeria, Angola, Nigeria, Zambia, and Kenya.  These five countries accounted for 50 percent of all Chinese workers in Africa and Algeria alone accounted for 25 percent.

From 2018 to 2019, the total number of Chinese workers declined by 10 percent, continuing a trend of declining numbers of Chinese workers in Africa from a peak of 263,659 in 2015.   

Update on Chinese Contracts in Africa

 The China Africa Research Initiative recently posted an update titled "Data: Chinese Contracts in Africa."

In 2019, the gross annual revenues of Chinese companies' engineering and construction projects in Africa totaled $46 billion, a 6 percent decrease from 2018.  The top five countries were Algeria, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, and Angola.  These five countries accounted for 46 percent of all revenue in 2019, and Algeria alone accounted for 14 percent.  This is the fourth consecutive year that gross annual revenues of Chinese companies' construction projects in Africa have declined.  

Update on China-Africa Investment and Comparison with US Flows

 The China Africa Research Initiative recently posted an update on China's investment in Africa titled "Download China-Africa Foreign Direct Investment Data, Country by Country, 2003-2019."

In 2019, China's  direct investment flows to Africa totaled $2.7 billion, down from 2018 and well below the peak year in 2008.   At the same time, Chinese flows to Africa have exceeded those from the United States since 2014.  US flows have been in negative territory during most of the Trump administration.  So much for Prosper Africa.

The top five African destinations of Chinese FDI in 2019 were the DRC, Angola, Ethiopia, South Africa and Mauritius.  

Update on China-Africa Trade

 The China Africa Research Initiative recently posted an update of China-Africa trade titled "Download China-Africa Annual Trade Data, Country by Country, 1992-2019."

The value of China-Africa trade in 2019 was $192 billion, up from $185 billion in 2018 but still below the peak year of 2015.  China's exports to Africa also remain significantly higher than its imports from Africa.  In 2019, the largest African exporter to Africa was Angola (oil), South Africa (minerals), and Republic of Congo (oil).  Africa's major importers in 2019 of Chinese goods, almost entirely value added goods, were Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt.  

Ethnic Violence in Ethiopia

 The New York Times published on 13 January 2021 an article titled "Dozens Die in Ethnic Massacre in Troubled Ethiopia Region" by Simon Marks and Declan Walsh.

At least 80 ethnic minorities were killed on 12 January in Ethiopia's western Benishangul-Gumuz Region.  While conflict continues in Tigray Region, it is important to understand that ethnic issues are challenging other parts of Ethiopia.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Conflict at Ethiopia-Sudan Border

 Aljazeera posted on 12 January 2021 an article titled "Ethiopia Warns Sudan over Military Build-up Amid Border Tensions."

Ethiopia and Sudan have a long-standing border dispute over land being cultivated by Ethiopian farmers.  The problem has been exacerbated by the recent flow of some 60,000 refugees from Ethiopia's Tigray Region into this part of Sudan.  There has been a military build-up on both sides of the border and increasingly inflammatory rhetoric.  

Ethiopia: Interview with ESAT TV Ethiopia

 ESAT TV Ethiopia and Gizaw Legesse interviewed me for 50 minutes on 12 January 2021 on issues related to Ethiopia.

The interview focused on the current situation in Ethiopia, especially the conflict in Tigray Region and the political situation generally in the country.  It also covered Ethiopia-Sudan relations and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.  

More than 300 Former Ambassadors Support Nominations of Antony Blinken and Linda Thomas-Greenfield

 More than 300 former ambassadors expressed strong support for the nominations of Antony Blinken as Secretary of State and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations in a letter just released.   

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

China and African Debt Repayment

 Panda Paw Dragon Claw posted on 11 January 2021 an analysis titled "Debt Repayment Issues in Highly-indebted BRI Countries: Risks and Opportunities in the New Year" by Christoph Nedopil and Mengdi Yue.  

China has become the world's largest bilateral creditor.  China still lacks a published strategy to deal with the debt issue holistically and together with other creditors.  This analysis identifies ten countries that have become especially vulnerable because they must pay 25 percent to 75 percent of their total debt service to China between 2021 and 2024.  Four of the ten are in Africa: Djibouti, Republic of Congo, Angola, and Comoros.  

War in Tigray: Hawks and Doves

 Ethiopia Insight posted on 11 January 2021 a commentary titled "Hawks and Doves: The Great Divide over the War in Tigray" by Fassil Hailu, a pen name for an Ethiopia Insight columnist.

The author identifies two groups in Ethiopia, the pro-war and anti-war sides and then sub-divides each into four sub-groups.  On the pro-war side you have the vengeful, the irredentists, the one-Ethiopianists, and the status quo adherents.  On the anti-war side, the author argues there are the TPLFites, the Woyanes, the federalists, and the pacifists.  

Monday, January 11, 2021

Kenya-Somalia Ties Can Be Restored

 Aljazeera published on 11 January 2021 a commentary titled "Somalia and Kenya Still Have a Road to Neighbourly Cooperation" by Abdimalik Abdullahi.  

Last December, Somalia broke diplomatic relations with Kenya "for meddling in its affairs."  The author summarizes the conflicts between Kenya and Somalia, and then argues the two countries can and should begin to take steps to resolve them.  

Chinese Foreign Minister Finishes Africa Tour

 China Briefing posted on 11 January 2021 an article titled "China's Wang Yi Foreign Ministerial Annual New Year Tour of Africa: 2021 Highlights" by Chris Devonshire-Ellis.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi continued the tradition since 1991 of making the foreign minister's first overseas visit to Africa.  On this occasion, Wang Yi visited Botswana, Nigeria, DRC, Tanzania, and Seychelles.  

For a version of this paper with several relevant maps, click here.

China's Newest White Paper on Foreign Aid

 China's State Council published in January 2021 a white paper titled "China's International Development Cooperation in the New Era."

This is China's first white paper on foreign aid since the State Council released one in 2014 that covered the years 2010-2012.  The newest version covers the years 2013-2018.

Most of the document praises China's global assistance.  It contains some useful statistical information.  During 2013-2018, Africa received 44.65 percent of China's foreign aid.  This compares to 51.8 percent in 2010-2012.  In 2013-2018, concessional loans accounted for 48.52 percent of China's global aid, grants for 47.3 percent, and interest free loans for 4.18 percent.  In 2010-2012, concessional loans accounted for 55.7 percent of China's global aid, grants for 36.2 percent, and interest free loans for 8.1 percent.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Rebuilding Somalia's Broken Justice System

 The Mogadishu-based Heritage Institute for Policy Studies published in January 2021 a study titled "Rebuilding Somalia's Broken Justice System: Fixing the Politics, Policies and Procedures."

The study suggests Somalia's federal and state leaders need to agree on an inclusive and independent Judicial Services Commission and Constitutional Court.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Ethiopia: Humanitarian Situation in Tigray Region

 The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) published on 6 January 2021 a report titled "Ethiopia - Tigray Region Humanitarian Update."

The report highlighted that the security situation in Tigray Region remains volatile.  The humanitarian situation is dire with poor access to services and limited livelihoods.  Food supplies are very limited, widespread looting is reported, and insecurity is high.  

Friday, January 8, 2021

China's Vaccine Diplomacy in Africa

 The Council on Foreign Relations blog posted on 6 January 2021 an analysis titled "Vaccine Diplomacy: China and Sino Pharm in Africa" by Neil Edwards, Open Source African media analyst at Novetta.  

China's vaccine diplomacy in Africa is a high risk, high reward venture.  If Sino Pharm's vaccine restores a sense of normalcy across Africa, China will be praised.  However, if the vaccine proves ineffective or creates unforeseen health effects, China's image could be damaged.

What Does Eritrean Presence in Tigray Region Mean for Ethiopia and Eritrea?

 African Arguments posted on 8 January 2021 a commentary titled "Eritrea in the Tigray War: What We Know and Why It Might Backfire" by Martin Plaut, Institute of Commonwealth Studies.  

The author presents the evidence documenting the presence of Eritrean troops in Tigray Region, arguing that the Tigray conflict was meant to rid Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki of his Tigrayan enemies.  He concludes the problem for both Isaias and Ethiopian President Abiy Ahmed is that the conflict might drag on for months, if not years.  The war could end up destabilizing either, or both, governments.  

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Ethiopian Military Official Confirms Eritrean Troops in Tigray

 The Associated Press posted on 7 January 2021 an article titled "Ethiopian Army Official Confirms Eritrean Troops in Tigray" by Cara Anna.

Major General Belay Seyoum, head of the Northern Command of Ethiopia's defense forces in Mekele, has confirmed the presence of Eritrean security forces operating in Tigray Region.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Huawei's 5G Hits Speed Bump in Kenya

 Wee Tracker, an African research and media company, posted on 5 January 2021 an article titled "For Huawei, A Botched Deal with Safaricom Could Be Fatal."

Kenya's Safaricom, the largest telecommunications company in East Africa, has "put on hold" its plan for China's Huawei to upgrade its equipment to 5G.  The reasons for the setback are not clear, but it could herald more trouble for Huawei's sales in Africa.  In the meantime, some African countries are turning to Nokia and Ericsson to upgrade to 5G. 

US Treasury Secretary Visits Sudan and Egypt

 The Associated Press posted on 6 January 2021 an article titled "Sudan Says It Signs Deal on Normalizing Ties with Israel" by Samy Magdy.  

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin just completed a visit to Egypt and Sudan, where the government in Khartoum signed the "Abraham Accords" that pave the way for Sudan to normalize relations with Israel.  Mnuchin also discussed debt relief with the government of Sudan.  

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

China Begins 2021 on High Note in Africa

 The Diplomat posted on 6 January 2021 a commentary titled "China's African Diplomacy Starts 2021 on a High Note" by Shannon Tiezzi.

The author comments on the early January visit by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Botswana, DRC, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Seychelles and several other positive developments in the China-Africa relationship.