Thursday, April 17, 2014

Xi Jinping's Africa Policy: The First Year

Washington-based Brookings published a commentary on 14 April 2014 titled "Xi Jinping's Africa Policy: The First Year" by Yun Sun, visiting fellow at the Africa Growth Initiative.

Yun Sun argues that China under Xi Jinping has assertively enhanced its direct involvement in Africa's security affairs, possibly even abandoning it long-term "non-interference" principle to protect its overseas economic interests.  Instability and conflicts in Africa have increasingly become a direct challenge to China's economic interests in Africa. 

Somalia: A Good News Human Interest Story

There has not been a lot of good news coming out of Somalia in recent years.  Pambazuka News provided a positive account on 16 April 2014 titled "British Teacher's Heroism versus al-Shabaab's Barbarism" by Bashir Goth.  It involves the donation of a kidney by a 53-year old British teacher to a young Somali girl. 

Norway Concerned about Lack of Progress in Somalia

South Africa's Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 17 April 2014 a commentary titled "Somalia: Why Orthodox Aid Policy Must Give Way to Battlefield Reality" by Peter Fabricius, foreign editor of South Africa's Independent Newspapers.  The commentary draws on remarks by Norway's special envoy to Somalia, Jens Mjaugedal, who expressed deep concern about the inability of the Somali government to deliver services to the Somali people.

You can also hear Mjaugedal in a seven minute podcast prepared by ISS. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Africa in China's Foreign Policy

Brookings published in April 2014 an extensive analysis titled "Africa in China's Foreign Policy" by Yun Sun, a fellow at the Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington.  The author notes that given the low priority of Africa in China's foreign policy agenda, African issues rarely reach the highest level of foreign policy decision making in the Chinese bureaucratic apparatus.  She also emphasizes, correctly in my view, that there is a constant tension between the narrow, mercantilist pursuit of economic interests in Africa and that pursuit's impact on the overall health of the Sino-African relationship and China's international image. 

AFRICOM Goes to War on the Sly

Foreign Policy in Focus reprinted a piece on 15 April 2014 titled "AFRICOM Goes to War on the Sly" by Nick Turse, managing editor of  Although the title of the article in my view overstates the role of the U.S. military in Africa, the piece does pull together wide ranging, if limited, U.S. military activity in Africa. 

The author concludes that the U.S. military is "pivoting to Africa."  (As compared to earlier years, yes; as compared to Asia, no.)  He notes the the U.S. military averages far more than a mission a day on the continent, conducting operations with almost every African military force, in almost every African country, while building or building up camps, compounds, and contingency security locations.  While the author identifies U.S. military activity in a significant number of African countries, the overwhelming majority of Africa's 54 countries are not mentioned in the article. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Impact of Sino-African Cooperation on Africa's Development

London-based Chatham House published a summary of a 24 March 2014 discussion titled "The Impact of Sino-African Cooperation on Africa's Development" by Liu Hongwu, director of the Institute of Africa Studies, and Zhan Shu, research fellow at the Institute of Africa Studies, Zhejiang Normal University. 

The message from the two Chinese scholars is that China's economic development over the past 35 years puts it in a unique position to counsel African countries on their own development.  Chinese influence on the continent is increasingly not just economic or industrial, but about the best path of development--the China Model. 

China Africa Relations: A Bibliography

I have been compiling since 2006 a bibliography of China-Africa relations in connection with my research and publications, including the co-authored China and Africa: A Century of Engagement, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2012.  I have tried to include material covering the early history of China-Africa relations as well as that which has appeared over the past ten years.  The bibliography now runs 157 pages, which is, I believe, the most comprehensive China-Africa bibliography available primarily in English. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

China, Africa, and Environmental Issues

Stellenbosch University's Centre for Chinese Studies published in March 2014 a special issue of its African East-Asian Affairs - The China Monitor on environmental sustainability and cooperation between Africa and China.

The issue contains the following articles, which can be accessed online:

--Challenges in Combating Desertification in Sub-Saharan Africa, Which Role for China? by Alioune Thiam.
--Climate Finance, Africa and China's Role by Yu Ye.
--Cultural Heritage Resources as Environmental Sustainability Enablers within the Sino-Africa Environmental Partnership: The Case of Botswana by Susan Keitumetse.
--Engaging the Environment in the China-Africa Relationship by Harrie Esterhuyse and Meryl Burgess. 

Somali Federalism Debate

Hiiraan Online published on 6 April 2014 a long analysis titled "Beware of Quick Fix Federalism, the Shot Gun Wedding Type" by Abdurahman Hosh Jibril, former minister of constitutional affairs and reconciliation in the Federal Transitional Government of Somalia that ended in September 2012.  He is now a member of the Federal Parliament.

The stated purpose of his presentation is to advance the debate on the constitutional dimensions dealing with governance, formation of civil administration in the regions, and the contentious issue of federalism. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Eritrean Refugees at Risk

Foreign Policy in Focus published on 10 April 2014 a piece titled "Eritrean Refugees at Risk" by Dan Connell, a professor at Simmons College and expert on Eritrea.  The analysis describes the misfortunes of Eritreans leaving the country for a variety of reasons.  Some of them fall into the hands of human traffickers. 

Turkey in Africa

The 11 April 2014 issue of the Institute for Defense Analysis Africa Watch contains a brief analysis titled "Turkey in Africa: An Emerging Influencer?" by Ashley Neese Bybee. 

China-Africa Articles in Journal of Current Chinese Affairs

The most recent issue of the Journal of Current Chinese Affairs is devoted mostly to articles on China-Africa relations.  The articles are available online and include:

--Perceptions, Practices and Adaptations: Understanding Chinese-African Interactions in Africa by Karsten Giese.
--Sino-African Encounters in Ghana and Nigeria: From Conflict to Conviviality and Mutual Benefit by Ben Lampert and Giles Mohan.
--Significant Others: Security and Suspicion in Chinese-Angolan Encounters by Cheryl Mei-ting Schmitz. 
--The Chinese Presence in Burkina Faso: A Sino-African Cooperation from Below by Guive Khan Mohammad. 
--Place-based and Place-bound Realities: A Chinese Firm's Embeddedness in Tanzania by Tanny Men.
--Chinese Employers and Their Ugandan Workers: Tensions, Frictions and Cooperation in an African City by Codrin Arsene

Eritrea and Ethiopia: Beyond the Impasse

London's Chatham House published in April 2014 an analysis titled "Eritrea and Ethiopia: Beyond the Impasse" by Jason Mosley.  The analysis argues that opportunities exist for external efforts to foster improved relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia.  A fresh approach should involve engagement with each country individually, rather than immediate attempts to promote dialogue between them.

While any movement that helps normalize relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea would be a positive development, my own reading is that neither Ethiopia nor Eritrea is interested in taking those steps which might result in improved relations. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Chinese Merchant Gateways for Ivory and Rhino Horns

Pambazuka News published on 10 April 2014 an investigative report titled "Chinese Merchant Gateways for Ivory and Rhino Horns" by Hongxiang Huang, a Chinese journalist, and Oxpeckers, a center for investigative environmental journalists.  The report focuses on Chinese merchants in southern African involved in the illegal purchase of ivory and rhino horn.  This authors visited capital cities and the Zambezi border region where five southern African countries intersect. 

China, Angola and the DRC

Pambazuka News published on 10 April 2014 a piece titled "Chinese Infrastructure Lubricates Outflow of Angolan and DRC Resources" by John Grobler, a Namibian journalist.  This account updates China's activities in Angola and the DRC and especially the role of the shadowy Hong Kong-based China International Fund. 

South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name

The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 10 April 2014 a comprehensive analysis titled "South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name." 

Although the dispute within the SPLM that led to the conflict was primarily political, ethnic targeting, communal mobilization and spiraling violence quickly led to appalling levels of brutality against civilians, including deliberate killings inside churches and hospitals.

ICG argues that propping up the government in Juba and polishing its legitimacy with a dose of political dialogue and a dash of power sharing will not end the conflict.  New constituencies have to be admitted to a national dialogue and their perspectives respected, including armed groups and disaffected communities that go beyond the contending forces within the SPLM/A, as well as women and civil society more generally.

Can New Water Discoveries Save East Africa?

Foreign Affairs published on 8 April 2014 a piece titled "Quenching Kenya: Can New Water Discoveries Save East Africa?" by Brahma Chellaney.  The author points out that East Africa is one of the most water stressed areas of the world but suggests a solution may be the discovery of new underground aquifers.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Podcast on Prospects for Peace in South Sudan

The Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington held on 9 April 2014 a discussion on the prospects for peace in South Sudan.  The participants were Awan Guol Riak, Minister for the Presidency, Government of South Sudan; Jon Temin, Africa Programs, US Institute for Peace; and Zach Vertin, Senior Adviser, Office of the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, US Department of State.  The one and one-half hour podcast is available online. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

IMF Report on Africa's Rising Exposure to China's Trade

The International Monetary Fund published a working paper dated November 2013 titled "Africa's Rising Exposure to China: How Large Are Spillovers through Trade?" by Paulo Drummond and Estelle Xue Liu.  This technical paper estimates the impact of changes in China's investment growth on Sub-Saharan African exports.  Although rising trading links with China have allowed African countries to diversify their export base across countries, away from advanced economies, they have also led these countries to become more susceptible to spillovers from China.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Building an Effective Somali National Security Force

The Woodrow Wilson Center's Africa UP Close blog published a piece on 7 April 2014 titled "Lessons from the Field: One Somalia, One Army? Building an Effective Somali National Security Force" by Paul D. Williams, associate professor in the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University.  Williams analyzes the current challenges facing the Somali National Army and its external donors.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Religious Diversity in East Africa and the Horn

The Pew Research Center published on 4 April 2014 a study on Global Religious Diversity.  It gives a score to all countries of the world on their degree of religious diversity.  Higher scores indicate higher diversity.  The 10-point scoring system designates countries with scores of 7.0 and higher (the top 5 percent) as having a very high degree of religious diversity.  Countries with scores from 5.3 to 6.9 percent (the next highest 15 percent of scores) have a high level of diversity.  Countries with scores from 3.1 to 5.2 (the following 20 percent of scores) have moderate diversity.  The remaining countries have low diversity.

South Sudan (6.0), Tanzania (5.7), Ethiopia (5.6) and Eritrea (5.4) have high religious diversity.  Kenya (3.1) has moderate diversity.  Uganda (2.7), Sudan (2.0), Djibouti (0.7), and Somalia (0.1) have low diversity.  The study also provides the percentage of different religions for each country. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

China, Africa and Me in English and Chinese

China-South Dialogue, a China-based website operated by a Chinese journalist, invited me to comment on China-US diplomatic contact during my diplomatic career from 1964 to 2000.  Most of this time was during the Cold War when there was little or no contact, at least in Africa, between Chinese and American diplomats.  This situation began to change by the late 1980s.  This short piece of oral history titled "Africa, China and Me" is an effort to show how this relationship evolved over the years.  China-South Dialogue translated my contribution so that it is also available in Chinese.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Kenya's Muslims--In the Eye of the Storm

The Washington-based Institute for Defense Analysis Africa Watch published on 3 April 2014 a brief analysis titled "Kenya's Muslims--In the Eye of the Storm" by George F. Ward.  He argued that Kenya's announced policy restricting Somali refugees to Camps is both unworkable and a potential fuel for inter-ethnic and inter-religious violence.  He also commented on the recent killing in Mombasa of the leader of the Musa Mosque. 

Chinese Migrant Shopkeepers in South Africa

International Migration Review published in its spring 2014 issue an article titled "'Big Fish in a Small Pond': Chinese Migrant Shopkeepers in South Africa" by Edwin Lin at the University of California, Berkeley.  

The author argues that the Chinese move to South Africa because of a desire to venture out of China to pursue freedoms associated with being one's own boss.  Once in South Africa, they choose to stay because of comfortable weather and a slower pace of life, despite losing freedoms associated with high crime in Johannesburg. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Experts Report on Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam

International Rivers Network, an environmental advocacy group in California, just published the May 2013 International Panel of Experts 48-page report on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Project.  There were two experts each from Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan and four international experts on the panel.  While the highly technical report contains no shocking surprises, it does raise a number of concerns.

The findings and recommendations begin on page 20.  The concerns center around the spillway for the main dam, several issues dealing with the saddle dam, evaporation in the reservoir behind the dam, and the impact of climate change.  Page 41 contains the key adverse and positive impacts for Egypt.  There are a number of recommendations for more study.

You can find further comment on the document on the blog of Jennifer Veilleux, an Oregon State University PhD student who is studying the Renaissance Dam.  

On 3 April 2014, International Rivers Network commented on the report by the experts. On 11 April 2014, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs then issued a rebuttal to the analysis offered by International Rivers.