Saturday, April 25, 2015

US Peace Corps Volunteers in Ethiopia and Eritrea

The April 2015 issue of The Herald: News for Those Who served with the Peace Corps in Eritrea and Ethiopia is now available online.

MIT Study on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently published a study titled "The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam: An Opportunity for Collaboration and Shared Benefits in the Eastern Nile Basin" by 17 scientists known as the International, Non-partisan Eastern Nile Working Group.

The study supported Ethiopia's right to develop its water resources for the well-being of the Ethiopian people, and argued that water storage facilities on the Blue Nile are economically and financially attractive investments.  However, in order to maximize mutual gains of the GERD and other future reservoir developments, four principal issues must be addressed:

1.  Need for an agreement on the coordinated operation of the GERD with the Aswan High Dam.
2.  Technical issues regarding design of the GERD.
3.  Need for an agreement on the sale of hydropower from the GERD.
4.  Potential downstream impacts on Egyptian and Sudanese agriculture. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Mipakani Project in Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Sudan

The Mipakani Project now has a website that covers the Lamu-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor and other development initiatives in northern Kenya and bordering countries.  Mipakani is Swahili for "at the borders" or "from the borders."  The website contains a collection of downloadable documents and multimedia material dealing with the various initiatives.

Africa as a Location for Investment

The Ernst and Young 2014 Attractiveness Survey for Africa offers a wealth of information on investment trends.  It concludes that Africa's perceived attractiveness for foreign investment relative to other world regions in 2014 was exceeded only by North America.  Nearly three out of four survey respondents believe that Africa's attractiveness will improve further over the next three years.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Nature and Drivers of Insecurity in Kenya

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published in April 2015 a report titled "The Nature and Drivers of Insecurity in Kenya" by Andrews Atta-Asamoah, ISS in Pretoria. 

The author suggests that the activities of internal radical and armed groups and the nature of Kenyan politics may pose a greater threat to stability and security than does Somalia-based al-Shabaab. 

Sudan's Elections

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published  on 21 April 2015 commentary titled "The Real Stakes in Sudan's Elections" by Berouk Mesfin, ISS in Addis Ababa.  Although the results of Sudan's recent elections will not be announced until 27 April, the outcome is a foregone conclusion.  Because major political parties boycotted the elections, Omar al-Bashir will be reelected by a wide margin.  The author suggests that al-Bashir may not be ready to step down when the next elections take place in 2020 and he will be 76 years old. 

Somali Diaspora in Minnesota

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota published in December 2014 a policy report titled "The Somali Diaspora in the Twin Cities: Engagement and Implications for Return" by Ryan Allen, Carissa Slotterback, Kadra Abdi, and Ahmed Muhumud. 

Somalis living in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, are returning to Somalia with greater frequency.  Because of the fragile nature of the situation in Somalia, the visits tend to be temporary.  The limited social infrastructure such as health care helps to explain their reluctance to return permanently. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Gallup Happiness Index for 143 Countries

Gallup published on 19 March 2015 its 2014 "happiness index" for 143 countries.  Not all countries in East Africa and the Horn were included.  Kenya scored highest with a score of 77 followed by Tanzania with a 72.  Uganda scored considerably lower at 64 and Ethiopia at 60.  South Sudan was near the bottom at 56 and Sudan was dead last at 47.  By comparison, the United States had a score of 79 and China a score of 75.  The 10 countries with the highest positive emotions were all in Latin America. 

China's Maritime Strategy

The Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University published in April 2015 a study titled "China Moves Out: Stepping Stones Toward a New Maritime Strategy" by Christopher H. Sharman, a US Navy officer studying at the National Defense University.  While the study focuses on China's maritime strategy in the Pacific Ocean, it also looks at future strategy in the Indian Ocean, which has implications for Africa and island nations in the Western Indian Ocean.

African Diaspora in China

The May 2015 issue of the Journal of Pan African Studies is devoted to the African diaspora in China.  It contains the following articles, all of which are available in PDF format.  They include:

--Africans in China: Guangzhou and Beyond - Issues and Reviews by Adams Bodomo.
--African Diaspora in China: Reality, Research and Reflection by Li Anshan.
--African Traders in  Yiwu: Their Trade Networks and Their Role in the Distribution of "Made in China" Products in Africa by Daouda Cisse.
--Networks, Spheres of Influence and the Mediation of Opportunity: The Case of West African Trade Agents in China by Laurence Marfaing and Alena Thiel.
--Structure and Agency: Africana Immigrants in China by Carlton Jama Adams.
--African University Students in China's Hong Kong by Chak-pong Gordon Tsui and Hei-hang Hayes Tang. 
--Counting Beans: Some Empirical and Methodological Problems for Calibrating the African Presence in Greater China by Adams Bodomo and Caroline Pajancic. 

Somali-Americans Try to Join ISIS

The New York Times reported on 20 April 2015 a story titled "6 Minnesotans Held in Plot to Join ISIS" by Scott Shane.  The FBI prevented six young Somali-Americans from Minneapolis from joining a colleague who managed to reach the Islamic State in Syria.  The six apparently were not recruited by anyone but decided on their own to go to Syria.  It is curious that al-Shabaab in Somalia is no longer the attraction for this small disaffected group.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Ethiopia's Economic Miracle Is Running Out of Steam

Foreign Policy published on 16 April 2015 an article titled "Ethiopia's Economic Miracle Is Running Out of Steam" by Robert Looney.  The author concludes that economic growth can only be sustained if the government allows and encourages a transition to a more dynamic model driven by the private sector. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Kenya's Garissa University Tragedy

The Institute for Defense Analyses Africa Watch published on 16 April 2015 a short article titled "Another Kenyan Tragedy--A Pattern Too Familiar" by George W. Ward.  It concludes the attack demonstrates both al-Shabaab's resilience and its evolution from a  popular resistance movement to a full-blown international terrorist organization.  It also points out that al-Shabaab is becoming more deeply rooted in Kenya itself and the Kenyan government's response to the attack is following a policy that only exacerbates the problem. 

Election in Sudan

The Institute for Security Studies published on 16 April 2015 a commentary titled "Now the Election Is Over, Will Sudanese Get Back to the Real Business?" by Peter Fabricius, Independent Newspapers, South Africa.

President Omar al-Bashir, leader of Sudan since 1989, was reelected in a low turnout election boycotted by most major opposition parties and candidates.  Now the question is whether Sudan can return to the interrupted process of national dialogue. 

Chinese-financed Hydropower Projects in Africa

The SAIS China-Africa Research Initiative published in April 2015 a study titled "Chinese-financed Hydropower Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa" by Deborah Brautigam, Jyhjong Hwang, and Lu Wang, all at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. 

The policy brief provides an analysis of Chinese practice in financing large hydropower projects in Africa between 2000 and 2013.  While the projects provide renewable power, they also have significant social and environmental risks. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ethiopia: Cost-Effectiveness of Medical Interventions

The Lancet published in its May 2015 edition an article titled "Health Gains and Financial Risk Protection Afforded by Public Financing of Selected Interventions in Ethiopia: An Extended Cost-effectiveness Analysis."

The researchers looked at health gains (deaths averted) and financial risk protection afforded (cases of poverty averted) by nine interventions that the government of Ethiopia intends to make universally available. 

On a cost-effective basis, the interventions that avert the most deaths, in order, are measles vaccination, pneumococcal conjugate vaccination, and caesarean section surgery.  The interventions that avert the most cases of poverty are caesarean section surgery, tuberculosis treatment, and hypertension treatment.

The authors also included in the study rotavirus vaccination, diarrhoea treatment, malaria treatment, and pneumonia treatment. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Alex de Waal Asseses Meltdown in South Sudan

Al Jazeera published on 12 April 2015 an article titled "Sudan Expert: International Community Enabled South Sudanese Corruption" by Sudan expert Alex de Waal, World Peace Foundation at Tufts University.

This is a solid analysis that takes direct aim at U.S. policy towards Sudan before and during the run up to South Sudan's independence.  The title of the article is unfortunate in that it implies the international community is responsible for corruption in South Sudan.  Corruption was a major problem in southern Sudan dating back to the 1960s and had little to do with the international community. 

Nairobi's Little Mogadishu under Siege

Foreign Policy published on 14 April 2015 an article titled "Little Mogadishu, Under Siege" by Amanda Sperber.  The author argues that in the wake of the Garissa University attack, Somalis living in the Eastleigh neighborhood of Nairobi are caught between an increasingly indiscriminate al-Shabaab and a heavy-handed Kenyan police force. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Ethiopia: Africa's Next Hegemon

Foreign Affairs published on 12 April 2015 an article titled "Africa's Next Hegemon: Behind Ethiopia's Power Plays" by Harry Verhoeven.

The author praises Ethiopia's economic development, although emphasizes the government is following a statist model that looks a lot like China's policies.  He says Ethiopia operates on the basis that what is good for Ethiopia is good for the Horn of Africa.  The EPRDF's vision for regional integration is one of interdependence, but on Ethiopia's terms.  The author concludes that "never have so many Ethiopians had so much reason to be optimistic and confident about the future."

China and Africa's Informal Economy

In a 31 March 2015 blog post titled "China-Africa Trade and Investment: Benefiting Africa's Rural Informal Economy?" Xiaoxue Weng makes an important point about the significance of Africa's informal economy, which is estimated to include 50 percent of Africa's total economy.  The author then relates the informal economy to Chinese trade and investment.  

It is critical for Africans and outsiders alike to understand the working of Africa's informal economy.  It performs many useful functions.  But it also has downsides.  It is well known for ignoring even reasonable government regulations. 

I found one quote from a Cameroonian villager especially insightful and worrying: "The government could take away our land and trees any moment, so we'd rather sell all the trees to the Chinese as soon as we can."  It takes hundreds of years to grow some tropical hardwoods to maturity.  This approach by the Cameroonian villager will only devastate the environment for short-term monetary advantage of a few people.  This kind of practice is exactly what African governments and foreign importers need to avoid. 

Upcoming Sudan Elections Lack Credibility

Chatham House published on 10 April 2015 a commentary titled "Sudan Elections Undermined by Boycotts and Lacking Credibility" by Dame Rosalind Marsden. 

The author comments that it is a certainty President Omar al-Bashir will win the 13-15 April election.  Opposition political parties are boycotting the election.  Most other presidential candidates are virtually unknown and the process is overseen by the ruling National Congress Party national security apparatus. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Educational Challenges in Somalia

The Mogadishu-based Heritage Institute for Policy Studies just published a study titled "Educational Challenges in Post-transitional Somalia: Case Study Mogadishu" by Abdullahi Sh. Adam Hussein, Qatar National Research Fund.

The study is based on information collected in Benadir region and focused entirely on formal basic schooling or the K-12 education system.  It identified the following as the major challenges: too much variation in curriculum, differences in language of instruction, and teachers with inadequate training. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Somalia, Al-Shabaab, the Region and U.S. Policy

William and Mary invited me to address the situation in Somalia on 8 April 2015.  My remarks titled "Somalia, Al-Shabaab, the Region and U.S. Policy" addressed the background to the crisis in Somalia and the current political, security, economic, and humanitarian situation.  The remarks concluded with a discussion of U.S. policy towards Somalia.

Education's Role in the Garissa University Terrorist Attack

The GW Hatchett, the student paper at George Washington University, asked me to comment on the al-Shabaab terrorist attack against Garissa University in Kenya.  The paper ran my commentary on 9 April 2015 as "Education's Role in the Garissa School Attack."

Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam: Agreement among Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan

Pambazuka News published on 8 April 2015 a commentary titled "Beyond the Politics of the Nile: Perspectives on the Declaration of Principles Regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam" by Minga Negash, University of Witwatersrand, Seid Hassan, Murray State University, Mammo Muchie, Tshwane University of Technology, and Abu Girma, Oxford.

The authors argue the Agreement reached between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan over the use of Nile waters is lopsided in favor of Egypt and is unlikely to resolve once and for all the fierce competition for water.