Friday, February 5, 2016

Sudan: A Country Study

The Library of Congress published in 2015 a book titled Sudan: A Country Study edited by LaVerle Berry.  It is a comprehensive study on the history, geography, government, politics, economy, foreign relations and society of Sudan.  Although most of the writing for this effort ended several years ago, it offers a useful compendium of information about Sudan before the separation of South Sudan.  I wrote chapter 4: Government and Politics.

Implications of China's Naval Facility for Djibouti

International Business Times published on 4 February 2016 an article titled "With China's Naval Base, Djibouti Could Become 'Africa's Singapore'" by Morgan Winsor.  The article says China and Djibouti have signed a 10-year lease for the base at Obock, with China paying $100 million per year in rent.  The article adds that "the facility will house some 10,000 Chinese troops."

The article does not provide the source of the information concerning the details of the agreement.  The number of 10,000 Chinese troops sounds wildly high.  Certainly, China does not need 10,000 troops to support its 3 ships that operate in the anti-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden and this is ostensibly the reason for the support facility.  I would take this figure with a grain of salt. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Chinese Traders in Namibia

Pambazuka News published on 3 February 2016 an article titled "Chinese Traders in Windhoek" by Daouda Cisse, University of Alberta. 

The number of Chinese traders in Namibia is increasing and leading to allegations of growing corruption and resentment by Namibians.  The Chinese traders reportedly have no contact with the Chinese embassy in Windhoek. 

African Union and Counterterrorism

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 29 January 2016 a commentary titled "26th AU Summit: Why Isn't the AU's Counter-terrorism Strategy Working?" by Simon Allison, ISS consultant. 

Allison argues that the African Union has developed a good counterterrorism framework with the Algiers Convention but has failed on the implementation side. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Poverty and Currency Floating in South Sudan

The Juba-based Sudd Institute published on 8 January 2016 an analysis titled "Poverty and Currency Floating in South Sudan" by Augustino Ting Mayai, director of research at the Sudd Institute.

The paper analyzes the extent to which the floating of the South Sudanese pound impacts the living standards of South Sudanese.  It argues that increasing the price of imported goods via currency floating without augmenting basic wages or subsidizing basic consumption goods is a riskier policy than maintaining the status quo. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

China's Growing Security Relationship with Africa

These are remarks titled "China's Growing Security Relationship with Africa" that I delivered to the African Studies Program at Michigan State University in East Lansing on 28 January 2016.  They cover arms transfers, protection of Chinese nationals, the non-interference principle, UN peacekeeping, anti-piracy in the Gulf of Aden, PLAN expansion in the Indian Ocean, and future trends. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Scenarios for Governance in South Sudan

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) published in January 2016 a study titled "Scenarios for South Sudan in 2020: Peace: The Only Thing Worth Fighting For" by Jair van der Lijn, a Dutch national and senior researcher at SIPRI.

The five scenarios described in this report are intended to show how South Sudan might look in 2020.  If the conflicting parties implement the 2015 peace agreement, Sudan may slowly return to a positive future.  If the peace agreement does not hold, the result may be devastation and/or repression.

2015 Global Think Tank Report

The University of Pennsylvania released on 29 January 2016 its "2015 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report" by James G. McGann.  It ranks top think tanks in the world, top think tanks by region, top think tanks by area of research, and top think tanks by special achievement.

African countries with the largest number of think tanks are South Africa (86), Kenya (53), Nigeria (48), Ghana (37), and Egypt (35).  The top ranked think tanks in Sub-Saharan Africa are:
1.  Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA)
2.  IMANI Center for Policy and Education (Ghana)
3.  Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) (Senegal)
4.  Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA)
5.  African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) (South Africa)

In the Middle East and North Africa, only the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPSS) in Egypt makes the top 10, although it comes in second.  Four think tanks in Egypt and two in Morocco make the next ten best. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

China's Naval Facility and Free Trade Zone in Djibouti

Bfirst Network published on 25 January 2016 a commentary titled "China to Open Indian Ocean 'Base'."  It discusses China's upcoming military facility in Djibouti. 


The Somaliland Informer published on 25 January 2016 an article titled "DPFZA Signs Milestone Agreement to Make Djibouti Key Entry Point to Africa on China's New Silk Road" by Mustafe A. Jirde.  The article describes a joint venture project with a Chinese firm for a free trade zone in Djibouti.

Horn Countries Support GCC in Yemen

The Africa Report published on 22 January 2016 a commentary titled "Horn of Africa States Follow Gulf into the Yemen War" by Magnus Taylor, Horn of Africa analyst for the International Crisis Group.


The Gulf Cooperation Council has found willing partners in Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan, and Somalia for its intervention in Yemen.  In return, the countries in the Horn have reportedly received diplomatic and financial support. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

China-Africa Economic Trends

The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies published in January 2016 a policy brief titled "Looking Back and Moving Forward: An Analysis of China-Africa Economic Trends and the Outcomes of the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation" by Janet Eom, Jyhjong Hwang, Ying Xia, and Deborah Brautigam. 


The brief deals with the following issue areas:


--China-Africa Trade
--China-Africa Loan Finance
--Chinese FDI in Africa
--Highlights of the 2015 FOCAC Summit

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

China's Growing Security Ties with Africa

The War is Boring blog published a commentary on 22 January 2016 titled "China Is getting Ready to Surge Troops into Africa" by Peter Dorrie.  The author evaluates China's growing security interests in Africa. 

African Economies Set Back by China's Slow Down

The New York Times published on 25 January 2016 an article titled "African Economies, and Hopes for New Era, Are Shaken by China" by Norimitsu Onishi. 

The article focuses on the decrease in the value of trade between China and Africa for 2015.  It reports that China exported $102 billion to Africa in 2015 and imported only $67 billion for a total of $169 billion.  The article did not provide the source of the trade numbers.

This compares, however, to total trade in 2014 of $222 billion according to China's official number or $203 billion according to IMF Direction of Trade statistics.  Whatever number is used for 2014, the 2015 figure is not only a sharp drop, but demonstrates a troubling trade deficit for Africa.  Much of the decrease in China's imports from Africa is due to lower oil and mineral prices.

Monday, January 25, 2016

China's Investments in Africa

The University of Pennsylvania Wharton School published on 19 January 2016 comments by three experts titled "China's Investments in Africa: What's the Real Story?"  The experts are Wenjie Chen, an economist in the African Department at the IMF, Aubrey Hruby, co-founder of the Africa Expert Network, and Thomas Laryea, a partner at the global law firm Dentons. 

Comparative Study on Special Economic Zones in Africa and China

The UN Development Program published on 17 December 2015 a major report titled "If Africa Builds Nests, Will the Birds Come? Comparative Study on Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Africa and China."

The study seeks to answer three questions: How have Africa and China performed so far with SEZs?  How could Africa benefit from China's experience with SEZs?  How could China-Africa cooperation on SEZs be enhanced in the future.  The report considers SEZs in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zambia, Shenzhen, and Suzhou. 

The report is also available in Chinese

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sudan's Oil Industry

The Sudan Democracy First Group published on 20 January 2016 a report titled "Pursuing Transparency in Sudan 's Oil Industry" by Alsir Sidahmed, freelance journalist. 

The report constitutes a history of the oil sector in Sudan.  After losing two-thirds of its oil reserves in 2011 following the secession of South Sudan, the author notes that allegations of corruption and lack of transparency persist even though exports have stopped. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

China Turns to Middle East

Middle East Briefing just published a commentary titled "Can China Go from 'Fifth Wheel' to Major Player in Middle East?"  The report is timed to the visit of President Xi Jinping to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Africans in Guangzhou, China

The Journal of Current Chinese Affairs has devoted its most recent issue to Africans living in Guangzhou, China.  The articles, which are available online, include the following:

--Africans in Guangzhou by Gordon Mathews.
--The Social Construction of Guangzhou as a Translocal Trading Place by Angelo Gilles.
--Healthcare-Seeking Practices of African and Rural-to-Urban Migrants in Guangzhou by Tabea Bork-Huffer.
--Landscapes of Aspiration in Guangzhou's African Music Scene: Beyond the Trading Narrative by Roberto Castillo.
--African Logistics Agents and Middlemen as Cultural Brokers in Guangzhou by Gordon Mathews. 

South Sudan Peace Agreement Falling Apart

Foreign Policy published on 22 January 2016 an article titled "South Sudan's Next Civil War Is Starting" by Amanda Sperber.  President Salva Kiir's order to create 28 states is strongly opposed by the SPLA-IO and may lead to a resumption of civil war. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Update on Al-Shabaab Attacks

The Washington Post Monkey Cage Blog posted on 19 January 2016 a commentary titled "Three Things We Learned from Last Week's Al-Shabaab Attack in Somalia" by Paul Williams, George Washington University.

William discusses al-Shabaab in the aftermath of its recent attack on AMISOM's forward operating base at El Adde.  He notes that since mid-2013, al-Shabaab has become an increasingly extremist and transnational network with the stated aim of creating a caliphate across East Africa.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Salim Ahmed Salim

The Institute for Security Studies has published a short book titled "Salim Ahmed Salim: Son of Africa" edited by Jakkie Cilliers.  It is a biography of Zanzibari-born and senior Tanzanian government official who became the Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity. 

Salim Ahmed Salim is one of the outstanding leaders of Africa.  I had the honor of working with him when he served as Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity in Addis Ababa.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

China's PLA, the Navy, and Far Seas

The National Defense University in Washington published in 2015 a book titled The People's Liberation Army and Contingency Planning in China edited by Andrew Scobell, Arthur S. Ding, Phillip C. Saunders, and Scott W. Harold.

Chapter 13 is titled "The PLA and Far Seas Contingencies: Chinese Capabilities for Noncombatant Evacuation Operations" by Michael S. Chase, Rand Corporation.  It covers the 2011 evacuation of Chinese nationals from Libya.

Chapter 14 is titled "PLA  Navy Planning for Out of Area Deployments" by Kristen Gunness and Samuel K. Berkowitz, both at the Rand Corporation.  It discusses far seas operations and the anti-piracy effort in the Gulf of Aden. 

Analysis of Ethiopia's 2015 Elections


The January 2016 edition of Journal of Democracy published an article titled "The 100% Election" by Leonardo R. Arriola, University of California Berkeley, and Terrence Lyons, George Mason University. 

The authors concluded that "given the results of Ethiopia's 2015 general election, we cannot expect the transition from Meles Zenawi to Hailemariam Dessalegn to lead to political liberalization in the near or medium term." 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Top Priorities for Africa in 2016

The Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings has just published its "Foresight Africa: Top Priorities for the Continent in 2016" edited by Amadou Sy.  It contains a wealth of charts and graphs and includes the following sections:

--Managing Economic Shocks: African Prospects in the Evolving External Environment
--Sustaining Domestic Growth: Structural Transformation Depends on Jobs, Industry, and SME's
--Supporting Human Development: Triumphs and Challenges on the Continent
--Capitalizing on Urbanization: The Importance of Planning, Infrastructure, and Finance for Africa's Growing Cities
--Maintaining Governance Gains: The National and Regional Agendas
--Expanding African Trade: Creating a Comparative Advantage and Strengthening Regional Partnerships

China's Armed Drone Sales Include African Countries

Foreign Policy published on 14 January 2016 an article titled "Meet China's Killer Drones" by Adam Rawnsley.  It describes China's production and export of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones.  Countries that have purchased the drones include Egypt, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Pakistan, and Iraq.  Algeria has tested the drones, which China's sells with fewer restrictions and at less cost than US produced drones.  There are, however, questions about quality.