Monday, April 24, 2017

The United States and China in Africa

The China Africa Research Initiative (CARI) at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies published in April 2017 a policy brief titled "The United States and China in Africa: What Does [Do] the Data Say?" by Janet Eom, Jyhjong Hwang, Lucas Atkins, Yunnan Chen, and Siqi Zhou.

The policy brief looks at trade, foreign direct investment (FDI), and loans. China leads the United States by a wide margin in terms of trade with Africa and government-sponsored loans to Africa. The United States leads in FDI stock in Africa. The policy brief notes that data for FDI are poor. Chinese data do not report FDI flows from offshore financial centers. The US figures may also significantly understate the total. CARI shows US FDI stock in Africa at the of 2015 of about $60 billion and no US flows to Africa in 2015.

A 21 March 2017 US Congressional Research Report puts US FDI stock in Africa at the end of 2015 on a historical case basis at $257 billion and the flow for 2015 at $249 million.

China and Preferential Tariff Treatment for Africa

China Briefing posted on 18 April 2017 an analysis titled "New Import Measures in China to Benefit Africa, Southeast Asian Exporters" by Weining Hu.

Thirty-one least-developed countries (LDCs) in Africa qualify for China's preferential trade treatment. Interestingly, oil-rich Angola and Equatorial Guinea and mineral-rich Zambia are on this list. The General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) recently made two major changes in the regulations that should benefit these 31 countries. GACC expanded the criteria that determine the national source of a product, allowing more products to be regarded as originating from a beneficiary country. GACC streamlined the consignment process, making the export process more efficient than previously.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

China and the African Union

The Conversation published on 23 February 2017 a brief commentary titled "How the African Union's Planned Overhaul May Affect Its Ties with China" by Yu-Shan Wu, University of the Witwatersrand.

The commentary suggests that proposed AU reforms may result in a different approach to Africa's partnership summits with countries such as China and Japan.

Issues Shaping Sub-Saharan Africa's Economic Future

The World Bank published in April 2017 its annual "Africa's Pulse: An Analysis of Issues Shaping Africa's Economic Future."

Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to recover to 2.6 percent in 2017, following a marked deceleration in 2016. The upturn in economic activity is expected to continue in 2018 and 2019, reflecting improvements in commodity prices, a pickup in global growth, and more supportive domestic conditions.

The pace of the recovery is weak, however, as the region's three largest economies--Angola, Nigeria, and South Africa--are projected only a modest rebound in growth following a sharp slowdown in 2016. Among non-resource intensive countries, such as Ethiopia, Senegal, and Tanzania, growth is expected to remain generally solid, supported by domestic demand.

Africa and Chinese Arms Transfers

The UK-based Royal United Services Institute published on 20 April 2017 a brief analysis titled "Chinese Arms Exports Contradict Its International Messaging" by James Shinnie.

It looks at China's arms transfers to Africa, cooperative security agreements, and Chinese support for UN peacekeeping operations.

The article erroneously states that "China is now the largest single contributor of personnel to UN peacekeeping." As of 28 February 2017, China had 2,567 personnel assigned to UN peacekeeping operations globally. Eleven other countries, including six African countries, had more personnel assigned to UN peacekeeping operations on that date. Xi Jinping's 2015 announcement of allocating 8,000 Chinese soldiers to the UN's standby force does not constitute assigned personnel. Nor is it clear that all of the 8,000 personnel have even been identified on paper.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Lessons from a Chinese Agro-technology Demonstration Center in Tanzania

The China Africa Research Initiative at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies published in April 2017 a study titled "Diffusing Chinese Rice Technology in Rural Tanzania: Lessons from the Dakawa Agro-technology Demonstration Center" by Hezron Makundi.

The study concluded that the demonstration center has struggled to balance the goal of technological diffusion with other interests such as the manifestation of China's soft power and its commercial goal of operating a financially self-sustaining farm.

China's Power Projection in the Western Indian Ocean

The Jamestown Foundation's China Brief published on 20 April 2017 my analysis titled "China's Power Projection in the Western Indian Ocean."

It looks at the growth of the Chinese naval presence in the Western Indian Ocean, explains the reasons behind this interest, and comments on the reaction of other major naval players in the Indian Ocean: the United States, India, and France.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

China in Africa

The Council on Foreign Relations published on 17 April 2017 a nice overview titled "China in Africa" by Eleanor Albert that briefly covers most aspects of the China-Africa relationship.

Africa Investment Index

Quantum Global published on 7 April 2017 the "Africa Investment Index" that ranks all 54 countries in Africa.

The five highest ranked countries in order are Botswana, Morocco, Egypt, South Africa, and Zambia. The five lowest ranked countries from worst to better are Somalia, Eritrea, Central African Republic, South Sudan, and Sierra Leone. Other countries in East Africa and the Horn were ranked as follows: Tanzania (8), Uganda (12), Kenya (15), Ethiopia (21), Sudan (25), and Djibouti (31).

China, Africa, US Engagement: What Is the Connection?

The Confucius Institute US Center posted on 18 April 2017 a 42 minute video titled "China, Africa, US Engagement: What Is the Connection?" with the following panelists: John Paden, George Mason University, Stephen O'Connell, Swarthmore College, and myself.

The topics covered included trade, Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, investment, education, diplomacy, security, anti-piracy, counterterrorism, peacekeeping, health, agriculture, soft power, special economic zones, and technology transfer. There were specific references to Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Mauritius.

The China Dream and Africa

The Washington-based Africa Center for Strategic Studies published on 6 April 2017 a commentary titled "Pursuing the China Dream through Africa: Five Elements of China's Africa Strategy" by Paul Nantulya.

The author argues that Africa is an integral element of President Xi Jinping's "China Dream"--a blueprint for restoring China to its perceived rightful place of global prominence. Part of the blueprint entails positioning China as a leader in the developing world through expanded bilateral and multilateral engagement. China advances these aims in five primary ways: economic engagement, military cooperation, support for UN peacekeeping, political party training, and use of soft power.

Poll of Somali Priorities

The Mogadishu-based Heritage Institute for Policy Studies recently published a public opinion survey titled "A Memo for Somalia's New Leaders on the Priorities of Citizens."

The survey asked 1,364 adults in five cities in Somalia what policy areas they want the Somali government to focus on. Tackling insecurity was the number one concern followed by fixing the broken education system, health care services and unemployment.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

China's Economic Engagement in Africa

The Vivekananda International Foundation, a New Delhi-based think tank, posted on 16 March 2017 a summary titled "China's Economic Engagement in Africa."

It covers China's aid, loans, investment, trade, and mergers and acquisitions in Africa.

Monday, April 17, 2017

China-Taiwan "Diplomatic Truce" Over

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission published on 9 February 2017 an issue brief titled "As Chinese Pressure on Taiwan Grows, Beijing Turns Away from Cross-Strait 'Diplomatic Truce'" by Matthew Southerland.

The analysis notes recent decisions by Gambia and Sao Tome and Principe to switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, possible Chinese overtures to Burkina Faso to do the same, Nigeria's decision that required Taiwan to move its liaison office from the capital of Abuja to the commercial center of Lagos, and other evidence that suggests Beijing is stepping up pressure on Taiwan. The conclusion is that the "diplomatic truce" since 2008 between China and Taiwan not to encourage switches in diplomatic recognition is over. Only two African countries now recognize Taiwan and only 21 globally.

Somalia: Al-Shabaab Claims Delivery of Food Aid to Drought Victims

The Terrorism Monitor published on 7 April 2017 a report titled "Al-Shabaab Plays on Aid Distribution Role to Win Over Desperate Somalis" by Sunguta West.

The report comments that al-Shabaab has released photos of food distribution in rural areas of drought-stricken Somalia. It is unclear where al-Shabaab would obtain significant amounts of food aid. Some observers view the distribution of food aid as propaganda while others believe the tactic is critical to gain support as al-Shabaab has been forced to retreat into rural areas. Al-Shabaab is also better known for conducting suicide attacks in Mogadishu.

More US Trainers to Somalia

Radio France Internationale asked me to comment on 16 April 2017 on the US announcement that it is sending a "few dozen" troops to Somalia to train the Somali National Army in logistics. These troops from the 101st Airborne Division will join up to 50 special forces personnel who have been operating in Somalia for a number of years.

Foreign Policy published on 14 April 2017 additional information on this subject titled "U.S. to Send Troops to Somalia Amid Blowback" by Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Chinese Investors in Ethiopia

Two think tanks, Moroccan-based OCP Policy Center, and French-based IFRI, published in March 2017 a study titled "Chinese Investors in Ethiopia: The Perfect Match?" by Francoise Nicolas, director of IFRI's Center for Asian Studies.

The author concluded the impact of Chinese investment in Ethiopia is mixed. Although China has played a useful role by setting up industrial zones, financing infrastructure, and encouraging Chinese firms to move some manufacturing production to Ethiopia, its transformative power remains limited. Skill transfer has been disappointing and local labor inputs do not always reach the standard expected by the Chinese companies.

China Expands Investments Across Africa

The Cipher Brief posted on 16 April 2017 an interview titled "China Expands Investments Across Africa" with David Dollar, Brookings Institution.

The author comments on China's growing foreign direct investment (FDI) in countries such as South Africa, the DRC, and Nigeria and financing of infrastructure projects in countries such as Angola, Ethiopia, Sudan, the DRC, and Kenya. China's FDI has moved increasingly from energy and metals to services and manufacturing while most loans continue to go into infrastructure.

China's Evolving Security Interests in Africa

The Cipher Brief posted on 16 April 2017 a brief interview with me titled "China's Evolving Security Interests in Africa."

It touches on China's efforts to secure its interests and protect its personnel in Africa, China's new military facility in Djibouti, support for UN peacekeeping operations, countering piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and arms transfers to Africa.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

South Sudan: IMF Predicts Dismal Economy

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued a press release on 23 March 2017 titled "IMF Executive Board Concludes 2016 Article IV Consultation with the Republic of South Sudan."

The IMF said economic conditions have deteriorated rapidly since the beginning of the civil conflict in 2013. Real GDP growth declined by nearly 20 percent in the two years through 2015/16 and annual inflation rose to about 550 percent in September 2016 before declining to 370 percent in January 2017. Since December 2015, the South Sudanese pound has lost more than 95 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar. Without significant progress toward peace and economic stabilization, the economic trajectory for South Sudan is highly unstable, and the country risks falling into a spiraling trap of deteriorating economic performance and worsening security conditions with continued humanitarian costs.

Kenyan Economy Strong But Projected to Dip in 2017

The World Bank issued a press release on 12 April 2017 titled "Kenya's Economic Outlook to Dip in 2017."

Kenya's GDP growth is now expected to decelerate to 5.5 percent in 2017, down from the 6 percent that was projected in 2016. Kenya had a solid GDP growth rate in 2016 of an estimated 5.9 percent. Kenya is experiencing, however, headwinds due to the ongoing drought and a slowdown in credit growth to the private sector.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Tourism Competitiveness: Sub-Saharan Africa

The World Economic Forum has just published its Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017. It evaluates 136 economies in the world. It has a section on Sub-Saharan Africa.

The highest ranking countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are South Africa (53), Mauritius (56), Kenya (80), Namibia (82), Cape Verde (83), and Botswana (85). The only other countries evaluated in East Africa and the Horn were Tanzania (91), Uganda (106), and Ethiopia (116). As compared to the survey done in 2015, Tanzania, Uganda, Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon, and Mozambique improved their performance while Namibia and South Africa lost some ground.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Somaliland Drought: Diaspora and Mobile Banking to Rescue

The Gulf News published on 7 April 2017 an article titled "Did Adam Smith's Invisible Hand Rescue Somali Drought Victims?" by Bashir Goth, commentator on African issues.

The author reports how the Somali diaspora, using mobile banking, is providing much needed cash to relatives in Somaliland as drought devastates livestock in the Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia's State of Emergency

World Politics Review published on 12 April 2017 an interview titled "Why Ethiopia Is Keeping Its State of Emergency in Place" with William Davison, a freelance journalist based in Addis Ababa.

The author concluded that the state of emergency has largely stopped the protests and the government has made some changes, but the impact of these changes is not yet clear.

Videos on Horn of Africa and Gulf States

The Washington-based Hollings Center for International Dialogue recently posted 3 short videos on issues related to the Horn of Africa and the Gulf States.

Catherine Long, independent researcher, discusses models of engagement in the Horn of Africa by different US administrations. Rakiya Omaar, director of the Horizon Institute in Somaliland, looks at the Somali perspective on actors such as Turkey and the GCC in the Horn of Africa. Awad Mustafa, national security correspondent for The National, discusses successful and unsuccessful examples of investment by the GCC in the Horn of Africa.