Thursday, July 2, 2015

President Obama's Upcoming Visit to Ethiopia

Ethiopia's Capital newspaper published on 29 June 2015 an article titled "Obama's Visit Diplomatic Triumph or Misplaced Priority?" by Kirubel Tadesse.  The article discusses the pros and cons of President Obama's visit to Ethiopia later this month.

The Failure of Land Law Reform in Kenya

The Africa Research Institute published on 1 July 2015 a study titled "Whose Land Is It Anyway? The Failure of Land Law Reform in Kenya" by Ambreena Manji, Cardiff Law School. 

The author concludes that new laws have not been  redistributive or transformative in a positive way.  Longstanding grievances and injustices have not been addressed.  Legislation has failed to curtail predatory bureaucracies which in turn have stymied reform through delaying tactics and sabotage.  After adopting a progressive National Land Policy and new constitution, Kenya missed a real opportunity to enshrine in law its radical principles for land reform. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

China-Africa ICT Cooperation in Education

This is Africa published on 29 June 2015 an article titled "Africa's Schools Targeted in China Tech Export Move" by Stephen Haggard, head of a technology-based learning company in Nairobi, Kenya. 

China hosted a conference for delegations from 20 African countries aimed at producing a policy framework for the role of information and communication technology (ICT) in education up to 2030.  China promised to support ICT in education in developing countries. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

China-Africa Military Relations

The China Africa Project ran a 30 minute podcast on 30 June 2015 titled "China's Expanding Military Presence in Africa."  Eric Olander and Cobus van Staden interviewed me on a variety of China-Africa military issues, including UN peacekeeping operations, anti-piracy in the Gulf of Aden, military sales, emergency evacuation of Chinese nationals from Africa, and rumors of new Chinese military activities in Africa.

China to Build Railways in Tanzania

The Centre for Chinese Studies at Stellenbosch University published on 29 June  2015 a commentary titled "Chinese Companies Awarded US$ 9 Billion to Construct Railways in Tanzania" by Nusa Tukic.

The railway construction is part of a broader trans-regional East African transport and energy network known as the Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSET) project.  Most of the financing for the railway projects in Tanzania will come from commercial banks. 

Financing Elections in Somaliland

The Rift Valley Institute just published "The Economics of Elections in Somaliland: The Financing of Political Parties and Candidates" by Aly Verjee, Adan Abokor, Haroon Yusuf, Amina Warsame, Muhammad Farah, and Mohamed Hersi.  The book examines candidates' expenditures and sources of income in the 2005 parliamentary and 2012 local council elections.  It is available on PDF. 

Between Somaliland and Puntland

Markus Virgil Hoehne, University of Leipzig, is the author of a new book, Between Somaliland and Puntland: Marginalization, Militarization and Conflicting Political Visions.  It analyzes the political evolution of the Republic of Somaliland and the Puntland State of Somalia based on extensive ethnographic research.  The entire text is available on PDF.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

South Sudan's Agony

The New York Times published an editorial on 27 June 2015 titled "South Sudan's Agony."  The editorial concluded that because the United States played a major role in creating South Sudan, it bears a special responsibility to help end the country's agony. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Eritrea Rejects Devastating UN Human Rights Report

The UN Human Rights Council released on 5 June 2015 the lengthy "Report of the Detailed Findings of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea."  The Commission concluded that systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed in Eritrea under the authority of the Eritrean government.  

The Eritrean foreign ministry declared the UN report was "totally unfounded and without merit" and said it constituted "extreme charges and indecent hyperbole" according to a 10 June 2015 report by Reuters.

Existing Global Economic System Challenged by BRICS

The Huffington Post published on 22 June 2015 a commentary titled "India, China and the Rest of the BRICS Will No Longer Wait for a Seat at the Table" by Shashi Tharoor, former Indian Minister of State for External Relations.

The author argues that China and India are seeking global influence commensurate with their economic weight; Brazil and South Africa are emerging as continental powerhouses and hydrocarbon-fueled Russia is chafing at its status on the margins of the Western system.  If the BRICS are not allowed to help lead within the existing global system, they will inevitably create their own. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Chinese Community in Mauritius Doing Well but Declining

The New African magazine published on 15 June 2015 an article titled "Meet Africa's Most Integrated Chinese Community" by James Wan, a Mauritian journalist. 

The Chinese community in Mauritius is one of the oldest and more culturally integrated Chinese communities in Africa.  It constitutes 2-3 percent of the 1.3 million people who live in Mauritius, but it is a dwindling community.  Many younger Sino-Mauritians are studying overseas and then remaining there.  The community has done well economically; 25 of the top 100 companies in Mauritius are owned by Sino-Mauritians but the older owners are concerned that the younger generation is not remaining to take over the business. 

What Happened to Presidential Term Limits in Africa?

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 19 June 2015 a commentary titled "What Happened to the Third-term Debate" by Liesl Louw-Vaudran, ISS consultant.  The AU Summit in South Africa managed to end without any action on the issue of presidential third terms. 

Why Ethiopia and Not Nigeria?

The Washington Post published an editorial on 24 June 2015 titled "Mr. Obama's Visit to Ethiopia Sends the Wrong Message on Democracy."  It compares recent elections in Ethiopia and Nigeria and suggests a visit to Nigeria by President Obama would send a better signal on democratization. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Kenya, Uganda, Oil, and Civil Society

This Is Africa published on 17 June 2015 a commentary titled "Civil Society Faces Uphill Climb in East Africa's Budding Oil Economies" by Luke Patey, Danish Institute for International Affairs.

Following the discovery of oil in Kenya and Uganda, Patey suggests the governments in both countries threaten the political space for civil society that is trying to encourage transparency in the oil sector. 

Somali Reconstruction Stalled

Foreign Affairs published on 23 June 2015 an analysis titled "Saving Somalia (Again): How Reconstruction Stalled--And What to do About It" by Vanda Felbab-Brown, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The author visited Somalia in the spring of 2013 and returned in the spring of 2015.  She found the situation less positive in 2015.  She noted that Somali security forces are beholden to clans and powerbrokers, and lack both a national ethos and training.  She concluded that not just security has been sliding in Somalia for the past year and a half.  Equally, the sense of political momentum has dissipated. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

African Investment in China

The Africa Report published on 18 June 2015 a brief article titled "Africans Invest Billions of Dollars in China" by Bo Li, who writes for the United Nations Africa Renewal magazine.

While we read a great deal about Chinese investment in Africa, not much is written about African investment in China, which cumulatively totaled more than $14 billion at the end of 2012.  Most of it came from South Africa, Nigeria, Mauritius, and the Seychelles.  Much of the investment money from Mauritius and Seychelles originated elsewhere and constituted pass through funding because of favorable tax treatment offered by these countries.  

China, India, and the Maritime Silk Road

Foreign Policy published on 23 June 2015 an article titled "Monsoons on the New Silk Road" by Daniel Balazs.  The article makes the case China has not yet convinced India of the merits of the One Belt One Road and Maritime Silk Road, which are designed to connect China to Europe and Africa.

Ethiopia and Angola: Democracy, China, US and EU

Democratization published in March 2015 an article titled "Not As Bad As It Seems: EU and US Democracy Promotion Faces China in Africa" by Christine Hackenesch, German Development Institute.

Using Ethiopia and Angola as case studies, the author argues that the important presence of China in both countries has not made it more difficult for the U.S. and European Union to implement their strategies for encouraging democratization.  Rather, domestic factors in Ethiopia and Angola, notably the level of challenge to regime survival both governments face, influence both governments' willingness to engage the European Union and U.S. 

South Sudan: New York Times Reports on Worsening Situation

The New York Times published on 22 June 2015 an article titled "As South Sudan Crisis Worsens, 'There Is No More Country'" by Marc Santora.  Written from Malakal, Santora describes a dismal situation that offers little hope for the future. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

South Sudan and China

The National Interest published on 22 June 2015 a commentary titled "China: Africa's New Power Broker" by Alex Fielding, who works with a geopolitical risk consulting firm.  The commentary is misleading in that it suggests China is the new power broker throughout Africa but only cites its engagement in South Sudan, where it is playing an important role.  The commentary also understates the continuing role of Western countries in Africa. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

East Africa and the Horn: Refugees and IDPs

The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has published a fact filled report on the status of the world's refugees and IDPs titled "World at War: UNHCR Global Trends Forced Displacement in 2014."  A few of the most significant numbers concerning East Africa and the Horn follow.

At the end of 2014, sub-Saharan Africa hosted 3.7 million refugees (26 percent of the global total), most of whom originated in Somalia (753,000), Sudan (627,000), South Sudan (615,300), DRC (487,800), Central African Republic (410,400) and Eritrea (239,600).  These numbers exclude those who found refugee status outside sub-Saharan Africa.

Nations in the region at the end of 2014 hosted the following number of refugees: Ethiopia (659,500), Kenya (551,400), Uganda (385,500), South Sudan (248,200), Sudan (244,400), Djibouti (20,500), Eritrea (2,900), and Somalia (2,700).

By the end of 2014, Ethiopia became the 5th largest refugee hosting country in the world after Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, and Iran.  It was followed by Jordan, Kenya, Chad, Uganda, and China.  Ethiopia hosted the highest number of refugees in relation to the size of its economy followed by Pakistan, Chad, Uganda, Kenya, and Afghanistan.

Countries in the region as of the end of 2014 were the origin of the following number of refugees: Somalia (1,106,100), Sudan (666,000), South Sudan (616,200), Eritrea (363,100), Ethiopia (86,900), Kenya (8,600), Uganda (7,200), and Djibouti (900).

Most of Eritrea's 363,100 refugees went to the following locations: Ethiopia (123,800), Sudan (109,200), Europe (81,100), and Israel (32,700).

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Foreign Direct Investment in Africa 2015

Ernst and Young just published its Attractiveness Survey Africa 2015: Making Choices.  It contains a wealth of current information, primarily on foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa.

In 2014, the number of new FDI projects in Africa fell 8.4 percent but remained well above 2008 levels.  Capital investment in Africa, however, surged to $128 billion, up 136 percent over 2013.  FDI investors returned enthusiastically to Egypt and Morocco and increased their projects in Ethiopia and Mozambique.  There were fewer projects in South Africa, Angola, Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya.

There was a slight drop in the attractiveness of Africa for investment as a region.  Africa dropped from 2nd to 4th place in regional rankings after Oceania, North America, and Asia.  FDI in Africa has grown five fold since 2000 and is forecast to overtake  official development assistance (ODA) in 2015.  FDI is projected to reach just over $55 billion compared to just under $55 billion for ODA.  Portfolio investment is predicted to grow to $18 billion and remittances an astounding $65 billion.

Collectively, European investors began by far the largest number of FDI projects in Africa in 2014.  The United States was the largest single country investor, launching 101 FDI projects or almost 14 percent of all projects in Africa.  The UK and South Africa tied for second, the UAE was fourth, France fifth, and Germany sixth.  Although Chinese investment soared in 2014, it was only number 7 with the launching of 32 FDI projects valued at $6.1 billion and 4.4 percent of the total number of new projects.

U.S. Diplomatic Oral Histories on Somalia

The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training published in June 2015 a summary of oral histories titled "Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History: Somalia - From Great Hope to Failed State."  This account draws on oral histories from U.S. State Department personnel assigned to or associated with Somalia between 1960 and 1993.

State Department Report on Terrorism: Africa Overview

The State Department Bureau of Counterterrorism has just released its Country Reports on Terrorism 2014.  The Africa Overview section discusses terrorist groups on the continent such as al-Shabaab and countries in the Horn of Africa.

It describes Djibouti as a supportive US counterterrorism partner.  Ethiopia had no terrorist attacks in 2014, but the US expressed concern about its use of the 2009 Antiterrorism Proclamation.  Eritrea said it wanted to be a partner in the war on terrorism but the US said it is "not cooperating fully" with US counterterrorism efforts.  The report described Kenya as a location of growing radicalization with extreme violence on its borders.  Although al-Shabaab lost control of much territory in Somalia, it continued to conduct a broad spectrum of asymmetrical attacks throughout the country.

Friday, June 19, 2015

President Obama to Visit Ethiopia

The White House announced today that President Barack Obama will visit Ethiopia and the headquarters of the the African Union in late July.  This will be the first visit ever to Ethiopia by a sitting American president.  The visit will take place in connection with a previously announced trip to Kenya to take part in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit.