Monday, September 24, 2018

African Universities Need to Improve China Expertise

University World News Africa Edition published on 22 September 2018 a commentary titled "African Universities Need Their Own China Expertise" by Ross Anthony, director of the Centre for Chinese Studies at Stellenbosch University.

The author argues that Africa is a no man's land of China scholarship, which allows the government of China an opportunity to structure the discourse to its advantage by denying visas to certain African scholars who want to do research in China.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Somalia May Become African Leader in Mobile Money

The World Bank published in August 2018 a major report titled "Rapid Growth in Mobile Money: Stability or Vulnerability?"

Somalia is the focus of the report, which suggests the country has the potential to become the largest mobile money market in Africa with the number of mobile money transactions exceeding those in Kenya.

Horn of Africa Relations

The Nerve Africa posted on 11 September 2018 a commentary titled "Could the Horn Countries Become Africa's Most Important Economic Quartet?" by Niyi Aderibigbe.

This is an optimistic look at future economic interaction involving Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Djibouti in the wake of the normalization of relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Comprehensive Update on Al-Shabaab

The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 21 September 2018 a comprehensive report titled "Al-Shabaab Five Years after Westgate: Still a Menace in East Africa."

Five years after an attack on Nairobi's Westgate Mall, al-Shabaab appears committed to striking targets targets across East Africa. The ICG concludes that al-Shabaab will likely remain a formidable force inside Somalia and a menace outside it.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Russia Returns to Africa

The Institute for Defense Analyses published on 20 September 2018 an article titled "Russia Returns to Africa" by Sarah Daly.

This is one in a growing series of articles commenting on Russia's increasing engagement in Africa. While there has been an uptick in Russian activity in Africa, we have seen this movie before and it ends with fading memories and a return to minimal interaction. I doubt the situation will be any different this time. Russia has too many other foreign policy preoccupations and too few strategic interests in Africa.

Wrong Way to Peace in South Sudan

The Enough project published in September 2018 a commentary titled "Neo-colonialism and a Faustian Bargain Undermine South Sudan's Peace Deal" by John Prendergast and Brian Adeba.

The authors argue that the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan is based on a misguided focus on power-sharing instead of transforming the systems of governance.

Women in Somali Politics

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 14 September 2018 an analysis titled "Women Claim Their Place in Somalia's Politics" by Omar S. Mahmood, ISS Addis Ababa.

In recent election cycles, the Somali parliament has mandated a 30 percent quota for women. Although Somalia continues to fall short of the quota, in the 2016/2017 cycle women did constitute 24 percent of all parliamentarians. Women are slowly making progress and agitating for even higher percentages.

Corruption Threatens South Sudan Peace Process

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 19 September 2018 a commentary titled "Looting Could Make South Sudan Peace Efforts Impossible" by Duncan E. Omondi Gumba, ISS, and Akol Miyen Kuol, poet and author.

The authors argue that unless blatant corruption is brought under control in South Sudan, the chances for social, political, and economic stability are slim.

IMF, China, Africa and Debt

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 20 September 2018 a commentary titled "Indebted Africa Returns to the International Monetary Fund" by Peter Fabricius, ISS consultant.

The author notes that a significant number of African countries are turning to the International Monetary Fund to seek bailouts as a result of excessive debt. While China's huge infrastructure loans have contributed to this problem, other bilateral donors and international financial institutions must also share the blame.

China's Arms Sales to Africa

The Lowy Institute, an Australian think tank, posted on 17 September 2018 a brief analysis titled "China's Arms Trade: A Rival for Global Influence?" by Nan Tian.

China is pressing Russia as Africa's largest arms supplier. The major buyers of China's conventional weapons are Algeria, Morocco, and Nigeria. The author does not see any strategic connection between China's arms sales and its interests in Africa. Rather, it is willing to sell to whatever country wants to buy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Challenges Facing Ethiopia

The New York Times published on 17 September 2018 an article titled "Can Ethiopia's New Leader, a Political Insider, Change It from the Inside Out?" by Somini Sengupta.

This article reviews the challenges facing Ethiopia's new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed.

China and Africa: Need for Care in Reporting Debt

Africa Check posted recently an explanation of Kenya's external debt titled "China Owns 21.3 Percent of Kenya's External Debt--Not 70 Percent As Reported."

Much has been written recently about Africa's growing debt load and the percentage of that debt held by China. While China is the largest holder of debt or a significant holder in a number of African countries, there is much misinformation on this subject. The only way to analyze this issue is on a country-by-country basis for those countries that publish reliable, detailed, and up-to-date debt information. Some African countries do not make this information publicly available. Using Kenya as an example, Africa Check has done this.

Africa Check found that China holds 21.3 percent of Kenya's total external debt. This qualifies, I believe, as significant but certainly not overwhelming. At the same time, China holds 72 percent of Kenya's bilateral debt. This is an overwhelming percentage, but is not the most useful way to describe a country's debt. Bilateral debt, or state-to-state debt, is only one part of external debt. It excludes debt held by international financial institutions such as the World Bank and African Development Bank. It also excludes commercial debt held by foreign commercial enterprises and banks.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Chinese Public's Hostility to Foreign Aid

The Diplomat published on 13 September 2018 a commentary titled "Why Is the Chinese Public So Hostile Toward Development Assistance?" by Zhang Chao, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Based on Internet comments, the author suggests there is considerable hostility to Chinese foreign aid, most of which goes to Africa. The netizens complain the money should be used to end poverty in China or fix problems in the economy. The author adds that much of the criticism is based on misinformation. This situation is not significantly different than the public criticism of foreign aid in the United States, which is also based largely on misinformation.

Political Change in the Horn of Africa

The Institute for Defense Analyses Africa Watch published on 12 September 2018 a brief analysis titled "Political Change in the Horn of Africa" by Sydney Deatherage.

The analysis summarizes recent political developments in the Horn of Africa and concludes that while progress has been made, it is fragile and could be shaken by domestic events. Should Ethiopia's reform hold steady, it may be what transpires in Eritrea--the wild card and the pariah--that determines the outcome of rapprochement.

China's New Financial Package for Africa

The Washington Post Monkey Cage posted on 17 September 2018 a brief analysis titled "Xi Jinping Pledged $60 Billion for Africa. Where Will the Money Go?" by Lina Benabdallah, Wake Forest University, and Winslow Robertson, PhD candidate.

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced at this year's Forum on China Africa Cooperation in Beijing a three-year $60 billion financial package for Africa. This article looks at the priorities for this package as compared with the one announced in 2015.

The Upside and Downside of Chinese Fish Factories in Gambia

The South China Morning Post published on 16 September 2018 an article titled "Gambia's Tolerance for Chinese Fish Factories Tested as Beijing Courts Poor African Nation with Deals" by Nosmot Gbadamosi.

The article notes the positive side--employment and income generation--of Chinese fish meal factories in Gambia, but also the downside--over fishing and environmental damage.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

China, Ethiopia, and Economic Cooperation Zones

The China-Africa Research Initiative (CARI) at Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies published in September 2018 a working paper titled "Work, Employment, and Training Through Africa-China Cooperative Zones: Evidence from the Eastern Industrial Zone in Ethiopia" by Ding Fei.

CARI published a policy brief under the same name and by the same author.

China Restructures African Debt

The East African published on 8 September 2018 an article titled "Ethiopia Bags China Debt Deal, Others Wait" by Allan Olingo.

Ethiopia seems to be the first country in the current cycle to reschedule its debt with China while Djibouti may be next in line. China has also said it will cancel interest-free loans to certain African countries.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Maximizing Benefits of China's Financial Engagement in Africa

Foreign Policy posted on 13 September 2018 a commentary titled "Corruption Is Wasting Chinese Money in Africa" by Salem Solomon, Voice of America, and Casey Frechette, University of South Florida.

The authors conclude that "China's presence in Africa could ultimately be a force for tremendous good, liberating nations through industrialization, but only if the opportunities it creates aren't diverted by the greed of elites or the whims of corrupt leaders."

Is the Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace Permanent?

The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies published on 13 September 2018 a commentary titled "Eritrea and Ethiopia Embrace, But for How Long?" by Michael Jones.

The author concludes that while peace remains subject to the whims of Eritrea's president, structural and regional changes help to ensure that peace is in the interest of both parties.

China Silences African Columnist

Foreign Policy posted on 14 September 2018 an article titled "China Is Buying Africa Media's Silence" by Azad Essa.

A weekly columnist for South Africa's Independent Media, in which Chinese state-linked media hold a 20 percent stake, wrote a negative column on China's policy on Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province. Independent Media refused to run the column online and canceled the journalist's weekly column.

Chinese Business Interests in Nigeria

The US Institute of Peace published in September 2018 a study titled "The Intersection of China's Commercial Interests and Nigeria's Conflict Landscape" by Matthew T. Page.

Nigeria remains a challenging business environment, even for risk-tolerant Chinese entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, many Chinese-owned small businesses and larger companies have prospered. At the same time, the practices of some Chinese companies such as bribery and involvement in illegal mining, logging and fishing are potentially destabilizing.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Eritrea's Foreign Policy Success May Inhibit Domestic Policy Reform

African Arguments posted on 12 September 2018 a commentary titled "Eritrea: Why Change Abroad Doesn't Mean Change at Home" by Salih Noor.

The author argues that Eritrea's improved relations with Gulf States may strengthen and embolden President Isaias Afwerki so that he avoids making needed domestic reforms.

Egypt's New Realism

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy published in September 2018 a 94-page study titled "Egypt's New Realism: Challenges under Sisi" by Barak Barfi, adjunct fellow at the Institute.

The study details the economic, social, political, and security challenges facing Egyptian President al-Sisi as he begins his second term. Chapter 6 of the study looks at Egypt and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Can Ethiopia's Reforms Succeed?

Foreign Policy posted on 10 September 2018 an analysis titled "Can Ethiopia's Reforms Succeed? What Abiy's Plans Mean for the Country and the Region" by Michael Woldemariam, Boston University.

The author concludes that it is not yet clear whether Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will succeed, and progress so far has been mixed. But if he does, Ethiopia will have a chance not only to reinvent itself but also to bring a wave of reform and perhaps even democratization to the wider region.