Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Constitutional Reform in Tanzania

The Africa Research Institute published on 27 February 2015 a briefing note titled "Party Rules: Consolidating Power through Constitutional Reform in Tanzania."  It summarizes the history of constitutional reform in Tanzania and the repeated failure to address tensions between mainland Tanganyika and the Zanzibar islands.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Africa and China's Maritime Silk Road

China's concept of the Maritime Silk Road (MSR) is attracting increasing attention, some apprehension, and more than a little confusion, especially as it concerns Africa.  I ran across three recent analyses that shed useful light on the project.

The first is a working paper published by the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) at the National University of Singapore in October 2014 titled "New Maritime Silk Road: Converging Interests and Regional Responses" by Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy, a research associate at ISAS.  The author concludes that the MSR is an effort in initiating a grand strategy with global implications.  While the MSR could be helpful in reinforcing cooperation and raising it to a new level of maritime partnership, China has yet to cultivate political and strategic trust.

Beijing Review published in February 2015 a series of views titled "Visions of the Maritime Silk Road" by Mohamed Noman Galal, former Egyptian ambassador to China, Srikanth Kondapalli, Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, and Zamroni Salim, Indonesian Institute of Sciences.  Galal welcomes the MSR.  Kondapalli suggests the MSR is a reaction to the effort by the United States to rebalance its relations in the region.  Salim wonders how the ASEAN countries will benefit from the MSR.   

The blog East by Southeast published in November 2014 a piece titled "China's Maritime Silk Road Is All  about Africa" by Brian Eyler, director of the IES Abroad Kunming Center at Yunnan University.  It points out that the goal of the MSR is to connect 12 Strategic Maritime Distribution Centers from China to South America.  Seven of the 12 proposed centers are in Africa.

Somalia, Money Transfers, and Al-Shabaab

Foreign Policy published on 26 February 2015 an article titled "Transfer Denied: The Hidden Costs of Washington's War against Al-Shabaab" by Jamila Trindle.

Drawing on conversations with the Somali-American community in Columbus, Ohio, this article discusses the downside of U.S. policy aimed at minimizing the possibility that money from the Somali disapora might reach al-Shabaab in Somalia.  While the United States government does not prohibit money transfers to Somalia, American banks are worried about the possibility of violating sanctions and incurring large fines should the money being transferred fall into the hands of al-Shabaab.  Hence, they are taking the risk free approach of ending the transfers.   

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Somalia and Federalism

The Heritage Institute for Policy Studies issued a policy brief in February 2015 titled "Federal Somalia: Not If but How." 

Based on a survey of 213 Somalis in five cities, the study concluded that the majority view federalism as the most suitable form of governance to decentralize Somalia because it facilitates reasonable power sharing among clans, enables regional autonomy and ultimately leads to a reduction of conflict.  A substantial majority views the current federation process as deeply flawed because it is largely an elite-driven and externally facilitated scheme that promotes clan identity at the expense of citizenship. 

Role of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation in Somalia

The Humanitarian Policy Group published in February 2015 a study titled "Islamic Humanitarianism? The Evolving Role of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation in Somalia and Beyond" by Eva Svoboda, Steven A. Zyck, Daud Osman, and Abdirashid Hashi.  It focuses on humanitarian assistance provided to Somalia by the OIC. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

China and Tanzania

Afro Barometer published on 25 February 2015 a brief news release titled "China Influence Seen as Strong, Positive in Tanzania."  Based on surveys, it concludes that Tanzanians see China's economic and political influence on Tanzania as mostly positive.

Critique of US Policy in South Sudan

Foreign Policy published on 25 February 2015 a long critical analysis of US policy in South Sudan titled "Unmade in the USA: The Inside Story of a Foreign-Policy Failure" by Ty McCormick, associate editor at Foreign Policy.

The article seems to suggest that the United States failed to engage sufficiently at critical periods after the independence of South Sudan.  What the article fails to acknowledge is that key actors such as Salva Kiir and Riek Machar must have a predisposition to accept a solution if outside intervention is to have any impact.  It is not clear that predisposition is present. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

US Names First Ambassador to Somalia since 1991

The United States named on 24 February 2015 its first ambassador to Somalia since 1991.  Due to the security situation in Somalia, the new ambassador will initially reside in Nairobi, Kenya.  Katherine Dhanani, a career foreign service officer, has extensive experience in Africa. 

US Threatens South Sudan with Sanctions

Foreign Policy published on 24 February 2015 a short piece titled "U.S. Threatens South Sudan with Sanctions . . . Again" by Colum Lynch. The US circulated a draft resolution in the UN Security Council that establishes a sanctions committee and lays the groundwork for sanctions.  Washington is pursuing an incremental approach designed to gradually ratchet up pressure on the opposing parties in South Sudan.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Western Travel Warnings May Contribute to Terrorist Acts on Kenya Coast

The New York Times published on 23 February 2015 an article titled "A Catch-22 in Kenya: Western Terrorism Alerts May Fuel Terrorism" by Jeffrey Gettleman. 

The argument goes that as Western countries issue travel warnings to avoid the coast of Kenya, it decimates the tourist industry, resulting in increased unemployment and joblessness.  Youth unemployment is said to be a major driver of radicalization.  This leads to even more terrorism.  Read the article and judge for yourself.

Al-Shabaab Threat against Mall of America

Foreign Policy published on 23 February 2015 a commentary titled "Al-Shabaab Threat against Mall of America Could Be a Call to Action" by David Francis. 

The article discusses the possibility of an attack by al-Shabaab on shopping malls in the United States.  The piece treats the recent decision by Merchants Bank of California to end the handling of remittances from the Somali diaspora as a counterterrorism success without noting the damage it does to the Somali economy and the potentially greater problems it could pose for countering terrorism.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Second Chance for South Sudan

Foreign Policy published on 20 February 2015 commentary titled "A Second Chance for South Sudan" by Peter Biar Ajak.  The author suggests, perhaps optimistically, that peace in South Sudan may be on the way thanks to the mediation of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and Tanzania's ruling political party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Survey of South Sudan IDPs and Refugees in Kenya and Uganda

The International Republican Institute published on 12 December 2014 its "Survey of South Sudan Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees in Kenya and Uganda."  The surveys took place in the last half of 2014.  Less than half of the South Sudanese believed that the reconciliation process taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will reflect their views. 

Chinese Labor Migration to Zambia

The Migration Policy Institute published on 20 February 2015 a study titled "Following the Money: Chinese Labor Migration to Zambia" by Hannah Postel.  The study examines the emerging migration pattern from China to Zambia based on original research including the author's coding of more than 25,000 Zambian entry permits for 2012 and 2013 and in-depth interviews with key officials and community leaders.

China's Silk Road to Where?

The Diplomat published on 17 February 2015 an analysis titled "China's 'One Belt, One Road' To Where?" by Lucio Blanco Pitlo III, a member of the Philippine Association for China Studies.

Acknowledging that details are still sketchy, the author argues that the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road have strategic, political, and security implications that participating countries should consider.  He urged China to address the persistent notion that the Silk Road is too China-centric and that other participating states will reap only marginal benefits. 

Star Times of China Trying to Control Digital Migration in Africa?

Kenya's Daily Nation published on 17 February 2015 an opinion piece titled "Digital Migration Across Africa Is All About Dubious Deals with Chinese" by Jaindi Kisero.

The piece notes that China's Star Times has managed to dominate the migration from analogue to digital in much of Africa, driving the process in Malawi, Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and other countries.  The author says the concern is about the tactics that Star Times is employing as it positions itself to control the whole digital migration process in Africa. 

China's Economic Presence in Algeria

Archives-Ouvertes published in January 2015 a study titled "China's Economic Presence in Algeria" by Thierry Pairault, French National Centre for Scientific Research.  It examines the acceleration of Sino-Algerian economic relations and the resulting changes in the relationship between Algeria and the world.  The paper seeks to improve our understanding of China's economic presence in Algeria.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

China's Challenge to Western Media in Africa

The Global Media Journal published in its Autumn/Winter 2014 edition a study titled "Media Development with Chinese Characteristics" by Iginio Gagliardone, University of Oxford. 

Building on fieldwork in Ghana, Ethiopia and Kenya, the article explains to which extent China's entrance in the media and telecommunications sector actually challenges the dominant, Western-driven approaches to media development, promoting a state centered vision of the information society. 

Chinese Enterprises in Africa and Locally Hired Employees

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Institute for Emerging Market Studies published in February 2015 a brief study titled "Localizing Chinese Enterprises in Africa: From Myths to Policies" by Barry Sautman, HKUST, and Yan Hairong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

The authors look at the employment practices of Chinese enterprises in Africa, concluding that a high percentage of the work force is hired locally.

A Jihad against Somali Music Is Under Way

Pambazuka News published on 18 February 2015 a commentary titled "A Jihad against Somali Music is Under Way" by Bashir Goth.  The author notes that some powerful conservative Somali clerics are strong-arming famous musicians into ending and disowning their own musical careers on spurious claims that the music is prohibited in Islam.  The author suggests that the clerics are aligning themselves with Wahhabi, Salafi, and al-Shabaab influences. 

China-South Africa Relations

Pambazuka News published on 19 February 2015 a commentary titled "Zuma's State of the Nation Address: A Chinasque Reading" by Bob Wekesa, a research associate with the Wits China-Africa Reporting Project. 

South African President Jacob Zuma's 12 February 2015 State of the Nation Address focused heavily on energy issues.  Wekesa points out that China was mentioned more frequently than any other country.

The Somali Remittance Lifeline

Remittances account for between 25 and 45 percent of Somalia's economy and exceed the amount it receives in humanitarian aid, development aid, and foreign direct investment combined.  As Somali money transfer operators lose their bank accounts, Somali families are losing their only formal or transparent channel through which to send money.

Adeso, Global Center on Cooperative Security, and Oxfam published on 19 February 2015 a joint report titled "Hanging by a Thread: The Ongoing Threat to Somalia's Remittance Lifeline" that explains the dilemma. 

The 2013 General Elections in Kenya

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Kenya published on 13 February 2015 two studies on Kenya's 2013 general elections.  Both were written by Collette Schulz-Herzenberg, University of Stellenbosch, Peter Aling'o, ISS Kenya, and Sebastian Gatimu, ISS Kenya. 

One is titled "The 2013 General Elections in Kenya: The Integrity of the Electoral Process."  The other is titled "Voter Information in Kenya's 2013 Election: News Media, Political Discussion and Party Campaigns."  The studies provide insights into the views and attitudes of Kenyan voters towards their political institutions and the 2013 general elections. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The AU-China Infrastructure Deal: A New Approach?

The Centre for Chinese Studies at Stellenbosch University published a brief commentary on 9 February 2015 titled "The AU-China Infrastructure Deal: A Shifting Terrain" by Ross Anthony, interim director of the Centre.

The African Union and China signed early this year a memorandum of understanding for a series of infrastructure projects which will cross the African continent.  Details of the understanding are not available, but it seems to suggest a model of engagement on infrastructure building that will be different than the traditional "Angola model," whereby China provides loans for infrastructure within one country in return for the shipment of natural resources to China to pay off the loan.   

China and the US in Africa: Cooperation or Competition?

The Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign hosted "China Day" on 16 February 2015.  I gave a presentation on China and the United States in Africa: Cooperation or Competition?  The purpose was to compare the interests, strategies, policies, governmental structures, and policy implementation tactics and tools of China and the United States in Africa and conclude whether the two powers are cooperating or competing.