Sunday, February 26, 2017

Chinese and American Military Facilities in Djibouti

The New York Times published on 25 February 2017 an article titled "U.S. Wary of Its New Neighbor in Djibouti: A Chinese Naval Base" by Andrew Jacobs and Jane Perlez.

According to the article, China is constructing a 90-acre base designed to house up to several thousand troops and will include storage structures for weapons, repair facilities for ships and helicopters, and five berths for commercial ships and one for military vessels. China states the main purpose of the facility is to support its anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden and its forces assigned to UN peacekeeping operations in Africa.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Can Somalia's New President Fix Its Problems?

World Politics Review published on 16 February 2017 a brief interview with Ken Menkhaus, Davidson University, titled "Can Somalia's New President Fix Its Myriad Problems?" Menkhaus attaches many caveats to the likelihood of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo's success.

Is South Sudan Hyperinflating?

The Johns Hopkins Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and Study of Business Enterprise published in February 2017 a study titled "Is South Sudan Hyperinflating?" by Steve H. Hanke.

The author concluded that at the end of 2016 the annual (year over year) inflation rate was an elevated 390 percent. But South Sudan did not sustain a monthly inflation rate above 50 percent for 30 consecutive days and, thus, did not experience hyperinflation.

Chinese Investments in Cote d'Ivoire (in French)

Cahiers Agricultures published in January/February 2017 an article titled "Les investissements publics chinois dans les filieres agricoles ivoiriennes" by Xavier Auregan, Center for Research and Geopolitical Analyses at the University of Paris.

The paper analyses investments from China in Ivorian agriculture, which involve various stakeholders and their conflicting strategies. These investments in Cote d'Ivoire are exclusively related to cocoa and rubber and include two large Chinese companies in the food and trade industries.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Chinese Loans to Africa 2000 to 2014

The China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University recently published working paper number 4 dated April 2016 titled "Eastern Promises: New Data on Chinese Loans in Africa, 2000 to 2014" by Deborah Brautigam and Jyhjong Hwang.

The paper provides an overview of a new data base on Chinese loans, the scale of the loans, their African recipients and the sectors where borrowers are investing. The study concludes that Chinese financiers loaned about $86 billion to African governments and state-owned enterprises between 2000 and 2014.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Somalia and Regional Issues

The International Crisis Group published on 22 February 2017 a commentary titled "The Regional Risks to Somalia's Moment of Hope."

The commentary concludes that recently elected President Farmajo must first manage huge expectations and then address delicate relations with neighboring Ethiopia and Kenya.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Djibouti's Business Climate (English and French)

The Oxford Business Group published on 15 February 2017 a brief article titled "Djibouti Moves To Improve Business Climate." While noting that Djibouti ranks low on the World Bank's annual business climate index, the article suggests Djibouti is taking steps to improve the situation.

Land Is One of the Root Causes for Conflict in Somalia

The Rift Valley Institute and the Heritage Institute of Policy Studies published in February 2017 a major study titled "Land Matters in Mogadishu: Settlement, Ownership, and Displacement in a Contested City."

One of the most difficult and sensitive issues in Mogadishu's long process of normalization is competing claims for land. Control and ownership of land and property are among the underlying reasons for Somalia's conflict.

Rise of New Somali President from Buffalo to Mogadishu

Politico Magazine published on 19 February 2017 an article titled "How an American Bureaucrat Became President of Somalia" by Taylor Gee.

The article describes the ascent of Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo from the Buffalo, New York, Department of Transportation to president of Somalia.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sudan and the Peace Process

The Kampala, Uganda-based Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG) posted on 17 February 2017 a commentary titled "Can a Peaceful Political Process in Sudan be Revitalized through the AUHIP? Challenges and Opportunities."

The SDFG suggests ways the African Union High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki can revitalize the Sudan peace process.

Horn of Africa: External Debt Stock

The World Bank has just released its International Debt Statistics 2017, an annual book that provides statistics and analysis on the external debt and financial flows for the world's economies for 2015.

In the Horn of Africa, external debt from 2000 until 2015 increased significantly for Djibouti and Ethiopia, modestly for Eritrea and Sudan and hardly at all for Somalia. South Sudan was not included. The change in external debt in millions of dollars from 2000 to 2015 is as follows:

Djibouti: $298 million to $1,222 million
Eritrea: $330 million to $873 million
Ethiopia: $5,516 million to $20,414 million
Somalia: $2,529 million to $2,892 million
Sudan: $16,076 million to $21,406 million

China's Economic Slowdown and Impact on Africa

Asia Times published on 14 February 2017 an article titled "Will China's Economic Slowdown Impact Africa?" by John J. Metzler, UN correspondent.

The author noted that since 2014 China's economic slowdown and lower global commodity prices have resulted in less Chinese trade by value with Africa and lower investment in Africa.

A New Constitution for Somalia

The Mogadishu-based The Heritage Institute for Policy Studies published in February 2017 a study titled "Somalia's Parliament Should Produce a Constitution by and for the People."

The paper argues that the new Somali parliament should address the issue of the constitution in consultation with civil society and the Somali public and not leave the process to Somali elites.

Optimistic Beginning for Somalia's New President

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 13 February 2017 a commentary titled "Somalia's Elections Herald Unexpected Fresh Start" by Omar S. Mahmood, ISS Addis Ababa. The author suggests the election is a rejection of politics as usual in Somalia.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Aid Conditionality in Africa: Impact of Chinese Aid

The Chinese Political Science Review published online on 3 February 2017 a study titled "Does Conditionality Still Work? China's Development Assistance and Democracy in Africa" by Xiaojun Li, The University of British Columbia.

The author asks whether aid conditionality still works with China's rise as a major donor since the early 2000s. The results show that the democratizing effects of the OECD's development aid in Sub-Saharan African have diminished. The findings support the thesis that the democratizing effect of aid conditionality works only during a period when recipient countries do not have other alternative sources of aid, allowing donors to more credibly commit to enforcing conditionality.

Monday, February 13, 2017

UN Support Office for African Union Mission in Somalia

The International Peace Institute published in February 2017 a study titled "UN Support to Regional Peace Operations: Lessons from UNSOA" by Paul D. Williams, George Washington University.

The study provides an overview of the origins and deployment in the field of the United Nations Support Office for the African Union Mission in Somalia (UNSOA). It then analyzes five sets of challenges that constrained the mission's effectiveness from its creation in 2009 through 2015.

China, India, and Pakistan Benefit from Kenya's Access to US AGOA

Kenya's Standard Digital posted on 5 February 2017 an article titled "Why China and India Benefit More from AGOA than Kenya" by Dominic Omondi.

Kenya is one of 39 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that benefits from the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which permits duty-free imports into the United States from these countries. The article notes that countries like China, India, and Pakistan are producing apparel, Kenya's most important export to the United States, in Kenya's duty-free export processing zones and then sending these items to the United States duty free under AGOA. This tends to defeat the purpose of AGOA, which is to encourage imports produced by African companies in eligible countries.

Somali National Army

The Mogadishu-based Center for Policy Analysis and Research published in February 2017 a study titled "Somalia's Security: The Reconstruction of the Somali National Army" by Paul Camacho, formerly at the University of Massachusetts, and Ibrahim Mohamed, former adviser to the SNA.

The study discusses the background to the collapse of the Somali National Army and the current state of the military sector in Somalia.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

China's Loan for Oil Deals

Energy Research & Social Science published on 11 January 2017 an analysis titled "Financial and Energy Security Analysis of China's Loan-for-oil Deals" by Eugene Gholz, University of Texas, Umul Awan, World Bank, and Ehud Ronn, University of Texas. The full article can only be accessed by purchase or through a library subscription.

The authors discuss the "loan-for-oil" agreements in which Chinese state development banks lend billions of dollars to oil-producing countries at below-market rates in exchange for the producers' agreements to sell oil to Chinese oil companies at future market prices rather than at a fixed price. They conclude that only a few of the projects connected to loan-for-oil deals could ameliorate China's fear of future political-military supply interruptions. Among the deals looked at are those in Angola, Equatorial Guinea, and Ghana.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Will Djibouti Become the Singapore of Africa?

The Sino-Africa Centre of Excellence (SACE) published on 31 January 2017 a commentary titled "Will Djibouti Become the Singapore of Africa?" by Arting Luo.

The author concluded that Djibouti has the potential, especially with investment from China, to become the future Singapore but needs to learn from Singapore's success. While I would be much more suspect in reaching this conclusion, the piece makes for an interesting read. SACE is an "applied think tank" based in Nairobi, Kenya, that seems to be focused primarily on increasing trade and business between China and Africa, especially Kenya.

South Sudan: Health Implications of Armed Conflict

The Lancet published on 11 February 2017 a short article titled "South Sudan: Aftermaths of 3 Years of Armed Conflict" by Ahmed Abu-Zaid. The article identifies the negative health impacts, especially on children, of three years of internal armed conflict.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Ethiopia: Foreign Investment Falls in 2016

FDI Markets Newsletter posted an article on 20 December 2016 titled "Ethiopia Experiences FDI Woes" by Mathew Anderson. The article reports a sharp decline in foreign investment in Ethiopia as of October 2016 compared with the same period in 2015.

Turkey's Venture into Africa

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 9 February 2017 a commentary titled "Sailing from Byzantium: Turkey's Venture into Africa" by Peter Fabricius, ISS consultant.

The article summarizes Turkey's outreach to Africa and concludes that the motives of its policy are not so clear.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Djibouti-Addis Ababa Railway and Role of China

The New York Times published on 7 February 2017 an article titled "Joyous Africans Take to the Rails, with China's Help" by Andrew Jacobs.

The article credits China for its financing and building a new railway between Djibouti and Addis Ababa, noting that the United States did not have the vision to take on the project. Actually, the problem in the United States is less about vision and more about lack of financing.

Somalia Elects New President

The Associated Press published on 8 February 2017 an article titled "Former Prime Minister, a U.S. Citizen, Wins Somalia Presidential Election."

The Somali Parliament consisting of 275 members of the lower legislative house and 54 senators elected on the second ballot former prime minister Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo as the new president of Somalia. Farmajo is a dual Somali-U.S. national.