Thursday, March 23, 2017

Djibouti Tries to Attract Light Industry Leaving China Because of Higher Wages

How We Made It in Africa published on 22 March 2017 an interview with the chairman of the Djibouti Ports and Free Zone Authority titled "Djibouti Wants to Attract Light-manufacturing Industries as Wages Rise in China."

The article reports that Djibouti hopes to attract light-manufacturing departing China due to rising wages. There are several challenges working against this goal. Does Djibouti, a country of about one million, even have the labor force to to absorb a significant amount of manufacturing? Why would this manufacturing move to Djibouti and not a number of other developing countries with lower wages, especially some in Asia?

South Sudan Peace Process and the AU

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 22 March 2017 a study titled "Democratise or Disintegrate: How the AU Can Help South Sudan" by Amanda Lucey and Liezelle Kumalo, both with ISS.

Southern Sudanese are divided on the legitimacy of the peace process, which is stalled in any event. The report looks at ways the African Union can enhance the prospects for peace in South Sudan.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Gold Mining in Sub-Saharan Africa

The Agence Francaise de Developpement and the World Bank published in 2017 a major study titled "Mining in Africa: Are Local Communities Better Off?" by Punam Chuhan-Pole, Andrew L. Dabalen, and Bryan Christopher Land.

The focus of the study is the impact on local communities of gold mining. Most of the research is based on Ghana, Mali, Tanzania, and Burkina Faso.

Africa and the World Happiness Report

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network has posted online its World Happiness Report 2017. It contains a chapter titled "'Waiting for Happiness' in Africa" by Valerie Moller, Benjamin J. Roberts, Habib Tiliouine, and Jay Loschky. Many factors are used to rank countries in the happiness report.

The report includes 44 African countries where there are many surprises. The happiest African country is Algeria followed by Mauritius, Libya, Morocco and Somalia. The bottom five African countries are Togo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Central African Republic. In the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia ranked number 18, Sudan number 24, and South Sudan number 37. Eritrea and Djibouti were not included in the study.

The report ranked 155 countries worldwide. Algeria, the happiest African country, ranked number 53 on the global index. Eight out of ten of the lowest ranking countries globally are in Africa.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Sudan Land Ownership, Political Corruption and the Absence of the Rule of Law

The Sudan Democracy First Group published on 20 March 2017 an analysis titled "Land Ownership, Political Corruption and the Absence of the Rule of Law: Land Conflicts in El Dali, Al Mazum and Abu Houjar."

This is a historical and in-the-weeds study of land conflict in three regions of Sudan's Sennar State where some 1.6 million people live. It is aimed at the specialist on Sudan.

China Expands Marine Corps to Deploy in Locations Such as Djibouti

The South China Morning Post published on 13 March 2017 an article titled "As Overseas Ambitions Expand, China Plans 400 Per Cent Increase to Marine Corps Numbers, Sources Say" by Minnie Chan.

The article says China plans to increase the size of its Marine Corps from about 20,000 to 100,000 personnel to protect the nation's maritime lifelines and its growing interests overseas. Some of these personnel will be stationed at ports China will operate in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa and Gwadar in southwest Pakistan. One analyst suggests these forces could help maintain security for China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative.

Trump Administration to Rely on Special Operations Forces in Africa

The New York Times published on 19 March 2017 an article titled "Using Special Forces Against Terrorism, Trump Seeks to Avoid Big Ground Wars" by Eric Schmitt.

In Africa, about one-third of the nearly 6,000 American troops are Special Operations forces. So far, the Trump administration is following the Bush and Obama administrations by relying primarily on U.S. Special Operations forces to counter terrorist threats but giving the Pentagon more latitude.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Commentary on Eritrea-US Relations

The Cipher Brief posted on 1 February 2017 commentary by three authors on Eritrea and its relations with the United States. The first commentary is titled "Is a Better Relationship with Eritrea Possible?" by Seth Kaplan, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.

The second is titled "Eritrea: A Potential U.S. Counterterror Partner" by Kaitlin Lavinder, reporter at The Cipher Brief.

The third is titled "Shift in U.S. Policy on Eritrea Unclear" by Felix Horne, Human Rights Watch.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Concerns about Revival of Somali Piracy

Reuters published on 15 March 2017 an article titled "Weapons Buildup, Anger Fuel Threat of Renewal of Somali Piracy" by Abdiqani Hassan.

The first successful hijacking since 2012 of a large commercial vessel off Somalia has raised new concerns about the return of Somali piracy. Somalis are blaming the resumption of foreign fishing in their waters. Some of the fishing vessels have obtained licenses from the Puntland government. Others reportedly are fishing illegally. The captured ship, however, was not a fishing vessel but a fuel tanker. There has also been an uptick in the importation of small arms to the region.

The Associated Press published on 17 March an article titled "Somali Pirates Release Oil Tanker and Crew, Officials Say" by Abdi Guled. Under pressure from local elders and officials, pirates released the ship and 8 Sri Lankan crew members without paying a ransom. Although the pirates were not arrested, this signals a willingness by Puntland officials to take a more robust approach in dealing with pirates.

Reuters published on 19 March 2017 an article titled "Somali Security Forces that Freed Pirated Ship Say NATO Must Do More" by Abdiqani Hassan. The vice president of Puntland noted that the Puntland Maritime Police Force freed the ship and called on NATO warships in the region to do more to stop illegal fishing off Somalia. In the past, NATO has said ending illegal fishing is not part of its mandate.

Is Egypt Embracing the Chinese Model of Development?

World Politics Review published on 16 March 2017 a commentary titled "Egypt and Other Arab States Embrace a Chinese Model of Development" by Kyle Haddad-Fonda.

The commentary makes the argument that Egypt and other Arab countries are pursuing the Chinese model of development even as the China State Construction Engineering Corporation dropped out of a $300 billion project to create a new Egyptian capital in the desert 30 miles east of Cairo. The author bases his conclusion on statements by several Arab spokespersons. The reality may be closer to Egypt's new capital in the desert--perhaps a mirage.

South Sudan's Home-made Humanitarian Crisis

The Institute for Defense Analyses Africa Watch published on 16 March 2017 a short analysis titled "In South Sudan a Man-made Crisis Repeats Itself" by Sarah Graveline.

The author points out that the current famine in two counties and food insecurity elsewhere in South Sudan is caused by competing government and rebel forces who are using food as a weapon.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

China and US Cooperation in Africa

Foreign Affairs published on 3 March 2017 a commentary titled "Where Beijing, Washington, and African Governments Can Work Together from Competition to Cooperation" by Mohamed Ibn Chambas, special representative of the UN Secretary General for West Africa and the Sahel, Princeton N. Lyman, special advisor to the president of USIP, Jianhua Zhong, former Chinese special representative for Africa, and John Goodman, Carter Center.

The commentary focuses on security issues in Africa where the United States and China can cooperate most effectively to the benefit of Africa. You can access the entire article by registering.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

New Prime Minister in Sudan

World Politics Review published on 14 March 2017 a brief interview with me concerning Sudan's new prime minister, Bakri Hassan Saleh. The focus of the interview is what this means in 2020 when President Omar al-Bashir says he will not seek another term.

Somali Pirates Back in Business

The Associated Press published on 14 March 2017 an article titled "Pirates Hijack Freighter off Somalia's Coast, Officials Say" by Abdi Guled and Jon Gambrel.

Somali pirates succeeded in capturing their first large commercial vessel since the last successful hijacking in 2012. The ship was carrying fuel from Djibouti to Mogadishu. It had 8 Sri Lankan crew members who are now being held for ransom off the coast of Puntland. It was flying the flag of Sri Lanka, Liberia, or the Comoro Islands. The owners are connected to Greece or the UAE. The big question is whether this incident portends the return of pirate attacks off Somalia after a lapse of several years.

Djibouti's Free Trade Zone (French and English)

The Oxford Business Group published on 13 March 2017 an article titled "Djibouti Moves to Galvanise Trade Development." Djibouti's new $540 million port is being developed by China Merchants Holding and the Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority. The free trade zone is expected to be fully operational by 2018.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Power of Ports: China's Maritime March

The Diplomat published on 8 March 2017 an interview with Sam Beatson, King's College London, titled "The Power of Ports: China's Maritime March" by Mercy A. Kuo.

Beatson concluded there is projection of power in the way China has built up and deployed port, merchant shipping, and naval assets, in addition to the economic logic of doing so. A recognition of the need to deal with Chinese vulnerability, particularly in respect of protecting the flow of commodity imports, especially energy, forms a part of the practical basis of the expansion.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Protecting American Interests in Africa

This is a paper I delivered in Beijing on 9 March 2017 at a conference titled US-China-Africa: Practices and Cooperation in Protecting Overseas Interests hosted by the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations and sponsored by the Ford Foundation. My paper looks at the protection of US nationals and interests in Africa.

Mombasa: A City of Fragile Potential

The Brenthurst Foundation published in 2017 a study titled "Mombasa: A City of Fragile Potential" by Wanjiku Mungai and Saul Musker, both fellows at the Brenthurst Foundation.

The authors conclude that Mombasa faces a range of imposing challenges such as an infrastructure system that is insufficient to meet the demands of a growing population, an unskilled and uneducated workforce and high levels of youth unemployment, the threat of local extremist groups, drug-related violence, and ever-present social tension. While Mombasa's challenges are profound, they are not insurmountable and the city has the potential to drive Kenya's economic growth.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Articles on East Africa and the Horn

The Journal of Eastern African Studies is celebrating 10 years by posting on-line a number of articles that it has published over the last 10 years, including articles on Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and Eritrea.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Analysis of Post-election Somalia

The February 2017 issue of the CDRC Digest contains a lengthy analysis of the new government in Somalia titled "Somalia Elects a New President: Implications for Peace and Stability in Somalia and the Sub-region."

The Centre for Dialogue, Research and Cooperation (CDRC) is an independent, non-profit Ethiopia-based policy institute. Its analysis of the post-election situation in Somalia is generally positive and underscores the need for Somalia to develop cordial ties with its neighbors.

South Sudanese Refugee Crisis in Uganda

Refugees International published on 9 March 2017 a report titled "Getting It Right: Protection of South Sudanese Refugees in Uganda."

South Sudanese refugees fleeing into Uganda have created one the fastest growing humanitarian crises in the world today. Uganda now hosts more refugees, an estimated 700,000, than any other country in Africa. The overwhelming majority are women and children.

China's Media Effort in Africa

This is Africa published on 22 February 2017 an article titled "China Steps Up Media Charm Offensive across Africa" by Hangwei Li and Jacqueline Muna Musiitwa.

The article discusses efforts by China to reach out to Africa through its official media, much of it based in Kenya.

Sudan, the US, Sanctions, and the Travel Ban

Foreign Policy published on 7 March 2017 an article titled "Sudan Is Open for Business--for Now" by Nesrine Malik.

Khartoum has not made a fuss about being included in the Trump Administration's travel ban in hope that US sanctions will be lifted on the country and normal relations reestablished with the US.

How China Sees the Global Order

The European Council on Foreign Relations published on 9 March 2017 an analysis titled "Expanded Ambitions, Shrinking Achievements: How China Sees the Global Order" by Francois Godement.

The author concludes that Europe should not expect China to replace the US as a dependable bastion of a free-trading and rules-based world order. At the same time, China's political system affords opportunities for sectoral cooperation when it matches Chinese interests such as participation in peacekeeping operations in Mali and South Sudan.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Employment Relations at Chinese and American Firms in Kenya

The China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University published in February 2017 a study titled "We Are Not So Different: A Comparative Study of Employment Relations at Chinese and American Firms in Kenya" by Zander Rounds and Hongxiang Huang.

The paper explores the extent to which labor conditions at Chinese firms in Kenya are a function of firm nationality, as opposed to other characteristics like industry, firm size or length of time operating abroad. The authors concluded that many Chinese and American managers hold similar attitudes towards the qualities and limitations of their Kenyan employees although they express these attitudes in different ways.