Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Ethiopia: Protest Movement in Tigray Region

African Arguments published on 21 May 2019 a commentary titled "Ethiopia: The Challenge to the TPLF. . . From Tigray's Own Grassroots" by Getchew Gebrekiros Temare.

A growing protest movement in Tigray Region is reportedly putting increasing pressure on the ruling Tigrayan People's Liberation Front.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Will the Chinese-built and Financed Railway in Kenya Be a Success?

CNN posted on 21 May 2019 an in depth story titled "A Legacy of Lunacy Haunts Kenya's Old Railway. Will China's $3.6B Line Be Different? by Jenni Marsh.

The Chinese-built and financed standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Nairobi has much to commend it including the fact that it now handles 40 percent of the freight arriving at Mombasa port compared to only 4 percent for Kenya's now defunct narrow gauge railway. But the new line has been plagued by controversy as well as accusations that it has resulted in huge debt to China that Kenya will find difficult to repay. In addition, China now seems unwilling to fund further sections of the standard gauge railway line. Kenya has borrowed a total of $9.8 billion from Beijing as of 2017, which constitutes about 21 percent of its external debt.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

China Concerned about Debt Default in Africa (in French)

Le Monde published on 18 April 2019 an article titled "La Chine cherce un second souffle pour ses 'routes de la soie' en Afrique" by Sebastien Le Belzic, head of the Chinafrica website.

Several African countries have recently found it necessary to reschedule their infrastructure debt with China. China's State Council has put in place new regulations concerning overseas investment to limit the risk of defaulting on loans.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Sudan on the Cusp of Democratic Change

The American Interest posted on 17 May 2019 a commentary titled "Sudan on the Cusp of Democratic Change" by Larry Diamond, Stanford University, Anne Pence, African Middle Eastern Leadership Project, and Mohammed Abubaker, African Middle Eastern Leadership Project.

The authors conclude that Sudan is on a knife's edge. What happens in the coming days and weeks could shape the future of its 40 million people for years to come. It is important that the G7 countries take steps to encourage Sudan to achieve a democratic outcome.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Horn of Africa Needs To Make More Use of Civil Society

The Institute for Security Studies published on 15 May 2019 a report titled "The Horn of Africa Should Improve Citizen Engagement."

Efforts by the African Union and Intergovernmental Authority on Development to cooperate have been largely devoid of citizen participation. They both have a mandate to include civil society organizations in their planning, but have usually ignored them. The report argues it is time to include them.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Somalia: Negotiations with Al-Shabaab

War on the Rocks published on 13 May 2019 a commentary titled "How To End the Civil War in Somalia: Negotiate with Al-Shabaab" by Jason Hartwig, former US military assistance coordinator in Somalia.

The author argues that the inability to decisively defeat al-Shabaab leaves only negotiated settlement or prolonged fighting and the certainty of continued terrorist activity. He acknowledges that al-Shabaab has not sought negotiations, which would require a multi-step process to achieve any success.

While I agree that the situation on the ground in Somalia has reached a stalemate, it is difficult to conceive that al-Shabaab would accept anything other than total capitulation by the Somali government.

Monday, May 13, 2019

China's Huawei Expands into Kenyan Market

Kenya's Business Daily published on 6 May 2019 an article titled "Huawei Poised To Fuel China Foreign Policy in Kenya" by Aggrey Mutambo.

Huawei will build a Kenyan national cloud data center, smart ICT network, public safe city and smart traffic solution as well as a cloud center for the government enterprise service.

China's "Crony Diplomacy" in Africa

The China-Africa Project posted on 10 May 2019 a 40 minute podcast titled "Analyst Explains Why China's 'Debt Trap Diplomacy' Critics Are Wrong" with Mark Akpaninyie.

The author argues that China is not engaging in "debt trap diplomacy" as alleged by senior U.S.officials but is pursuing "crony diplomacy" where corruption plays a major role in China's loans.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Somalia: Defeating Al-Shabaab by Drying Up Funding

The Royal United Services for Defense and Security Studies posted on 8 May 2019 a commentary titled "Reinvigorating the Forgotten Financial Fight against Al-Shabaab" by Tom Keatinge.

The author argues that the lessons learned in combating the Islamic State by drying up funding need to be applied to defeating al-Shabaab in Somalia.

Ethiopia: Treating Transitional Trauma

Ethiopia Insight posted on 9 May 2019 a commentary titled "Treating Transitional Trauma" by Mukerrem Miftah, University of Ankara.

The author concludes that the political transition under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been unstable and is sending signals of state disorder.

Ethiopia: Challenges in the Garment Industry

New York University's Stern Center for Business and Human Rights published in May 2019 a study titled "Made in Ethiopia: Challenges in the Garment Industry's New Frontier" by Paul M. Barrett and Doorothee Baumann-Pauly.

The report looks at the Hawassa Industrial Park built by a Chinese company and that now employs 25,000 workers. The authors conclude that China's economic success has not been matched by respect for human rights or political freedom.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

China's Digital Silk Road in Africa

Germany's Deutsche Welle posted on 3 May 2019 a story titled "Investing in Africa's Tech Infrastructure. Has China Won Already?" by Chiponda Chimbelu.

China's digital silk road is connecting Africa while US companies are largely absent.

Monday, May 6, 2019

China's Debt Cancellation

The Beijing-based consultancy Development Reimagined and the Oxford China Africa Consultancy published on 17 April 2019 a statistical review titled "China: Debt Cancellation."

Countries that received the largest number of debt cancellations from 2000 to 2018 are in Africa. In terms of total value of debt cancellation, however, Cuba, Pakistan and Cambodia head the list. In Africa, Zambia received the most debt cancellation at $259 million followed by Ghana ($246 million), Sudan ($205 million), Rwanda ($176 million) and Zimbabwe ($155 million). Half of the African countries benefiting from debt cancellation had less than $30 million cancelled.

How China Deals with Bad Debt on Its Loans

The Rhodium Group, an independent China research and advisory firm, published on 29 April 2019 a study titled "New Data on the 'Debt Trap' Question" by Agatha Kratz, Allen Feng, and Logan Wright.

The authors reviewed 40 cases of China's external debt renegotiation with 24 countries, including 12 in Africa. They concluded that the sheer volume of debt renegotiation points to legitimate concerns about the sustainability of China's external lending. Asset seizures, however, are a rare occurrence with the only known case in Sri Lanka and possibly one in Tajikistan. Debt renegotiation usually involves a more balanced outcome between lender and borrower, ranging from extension of loan terms and repayment deadlines to explicit refinancing, and partial or even total debt forgiveness. Debt forgiveness, however, usually represents a mere fraction of the total debt due to China and rarely serves to reduce significantly a country's indebtedness to China.

African countries looked at in this report are Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ghana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Ethiopia: Sidama Seeks Statehood

Ethiopia Insight posted on 5 May 2019 a commentary titled "Sidama Declares State of Impatience" by Yohanan Yokamo, Hawassa University.

Sidama is agitating to become a separate state in Ethiopia's federal system, thus breaking away from the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Regional State (SNNPRS).

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Sudan's Revolution in Photographs

The New York Times published on 3 May 2019 a story titled "Bullets, Tear Gas and Love: Romance Blooms in the Midst of Sudan Protests" by Declan Walsh and Bryan Denton.

A series of excellent photographs depict the on-going revolution in Sudan's capital of Khartoum.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Sudan's Half-Revolution

The American Interest published on 3 May 2019 an analysis titled "Sudan's Half-Revolution" by Omar Al-Turabi, Dubai-based Al-Mesbar Studies and Research Center.

The author reviews the background of the on-going revolution in Sudan and concludes that much will depend on the four following key variables: the war in Darfur, the incomplete democratic transformation, the uncertain harmonization of the Transitional Military Council and political forces, and the worrying economic future.

Sudan: What To Do with Former President Omar al-Bashir

Foreign Affairs published on 2 May 2019 an article titled "How Sudan Can Heal from Decades of Dictatorship" by Zachariah Mampilly, Vasser College.

The article focuses on the options for dealing with deposed President Omar al-Bashir. The options are to turn over to the International Criminal Court (ICC), try him in a Sudanese court, or allow him to go into exile in a country that is not a member of the ICC.

The full article is only available by subscription.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

What Is Russia Up to in Africa?

World Politics Review published on 2 May 2019 a commentary titled "What Is Russia Up to Across Africa?" by Frida Ghitis, a world affairs columnist.

The author concluded that Russia continues to intensify its push for stronger relations across Africa and expects its investment in Madagascar will pay off. The Russia-Africa summit in October at Sochi is a key development in the relationship.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Chinese Investment in Tanzania's Plastic Recycling Industry

The China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies published in April 2019 a study titled "Wealth from Waste? Chinese Investments and Technology Transfer in the Tanzanian Plastic Recycling Industry" by Ying Xia.

The author concluded that environmental policy change in China may stimulate more investments in the plastic recycling and manufacturing industries in Tanzania, which would contribute to fostering greater linkages between the local industry and the global plastic recycling value chain. On the other hand, there are concerns that such an investment, without effective environmental enforcement by host country governments, would generate environmental and health hazards for the local community.

Non-Regional Actors in the Red Sea Basin

These are remarks I made at a work shop held in Amman, Jordan, on 26-27 April 2019 concerning opportunities and challenges in a collective approach in the Red Sea region. My remarks were titled "Interests of Non-Regional Actors in Suez Canal/Red Sea/Gulf of Aden Region."

South Sudan's Lobby in Washington

Foreign Policy posted on 29 April 2019 an article titled "Former U.S. Diplomats Lobby to Stop South Sudan War Crimes Court" by Robbie Gramer.

The article reports on a contract between South Sudan's Salva Kiir and an American lobbying organization to improve economic ties with South Sudan's government and the opening of a U.S. military relationship with South Sudan.

How Does a New Government in Sudan Impact the Situation in South Sudan?

African Arguments posted on 30 April 2019 a commentary titled "What Al-Bashir's Removal Means for South Sudan's Fragile Peace" by Matthew Lerichie, Ohio University.

The author argues that Omar al-Bashir was a major power broker in South Sudan's peace process. The question now is what role Sudan will play since Bashir has been removed from office.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Chinese Loans and East Africa

Kenya's The East African published on 27 April 2019 a piece titled "Editorial: Is the Well of Chinese Credit Really Bottomless?"

The editorial concludes that the dilemma of Chinese debt will only be resolved if the parties take a more critical look at how debt generates new value to support repayment.

Kenya's Daily Nation published on 26 April 2019 a similar editorial titled "SGR: Kenya Must Tame Its Appetite for Loans."

Referencing China's loans for railway projects, it concludes that Kenya must tame its appetite for loans and rethink its infrastructure development model.

Turkey's Policy in Africa

The Center for Strategic and International Studies recently posted an analysis titled "Neo-Ottomanism: Turkey's Foreign Policy Approach to Africa" by Asya Akca.

The author concluded that part of Turkish President Erdogan's agenda is to turn Turkey into a global power, while also taking the country back to the glory days of the Ottoman Empire. By shutting down Gulen schools in almost 30 African countries, Erdogan sees himself as putting down possible threats to Turkey's global expansion efforts.