Wednesday, January 31, 2018

China's Relations with Mozambique and Sudan Up To 2011

The December 2017 issue of Australasian Review of African Studies published an academic article titled "China's Baby Steps in Africa: A Historical Reckoning of Chinese Relations with Mozambique and Sudan until 2011" by David Robinson and Benjamin Hale, both at Edith Cowan University.

The article assesses Chinese policies in Mozambique and Sudan until 2011. It concludes there were positive and negative aspects of the relationships.

Protests in Sudan Play into Growing Regional Tensions

World Politics Review published on 31 January 2018 an analysis titled "Is Bashir Finally Facing a Moment of Reckoning in Sudan?" by Richard Downie, Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The author suggests that following decades of economic misrule in Sudan, a moment of reckoning appears to be approaching. A convergence of social, economic and diplomatic unrest has sent Sudan into a state of anxiety, straining and raising the prospect of new domestic turmoil. This situation is occurring as there is growing regional tension involving Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Turkey, and the Gulf States.

Djibouti's Economy in 2017 (in English and French)

The Oxford Business Group published on 26 January 2018 an article titled "Djibouti: Year in Review."

The article said Djibouti experienced impressive growth of about 7 percent in 2017, up from 6.5 percent in 2016, driven by new infrastructure. Inflation was moderate at about 3 percent, but there was a sharp increase in public external debt.

Did China Bug the Africa Union Headquarters?

The Diplomat published on 31 January 2018 an article titled "If China Bugged the AU Headquarters, What African Countries Should be Worried?" by Shannon Tiezzi, editor of the US-based publication.

The French paper Le Monde broke a story that China, which financed and constructed the African Union headquarters and its computer network in Addis Ababa, has been methodically transferring sensitive cyber information from the headquarters to Beijing. Although China strongly denied the account, the author asks if there might be similar issues at Chinese built and financed structures elsewhere in Africa.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

African Economic Outlook 2018

The African Development Bank has just released its "African Economic Outlook 2018."

Real output growth in Africa is estimated to have reached 3.6 percent in 2017, up from 2.2 percent in 2016, and to accelerate to 4.1 percent in 2018 and 2019. The recovery in growth has been faster than envisaged, especially among non-resource-intensive economies. Debt levels for most countries have not yet breached the traditional threshold indicators. They have actually declined in nine African countries. But Africa's solid growth rates have not been accompanied by high job growth rates. The lack of job growth has retarded poverty reduction. A priority for African governments is to encourage a shift toward labor-absorbing growth paths, especially modernizing the agricultural sector, which employs most of the population and is typically the main step toward industrialization.

The study includes the following sections:

--Africa's macroeconomic performance and prospects.
--Growth, jobs, and poverty in Africa.
--Africa's infrastructure: great potential but little impact on inclusive growth.
--Financing Africa's infrastructure: new strategies, mechanisms, and instruments.

South Sudan Conflict Continues Unabated

The Africa Center for Strategic Studies published on 29 January 2018 a brief update titled "Humanitarian Costs of South Sudan Conflict Continue to Escalate."

Violent clashes between government and opposition forces continue in Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Unity States. Seven million people--nearly 60 percent of the population--require humanitarian assistance. The conflict has displaced 4.5 million people. The humanitarian situation in 2018 is expected to be worse than in 2017.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Averting a Political Crisis in Kenya

The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 29 January 2018 a statement titled "Kenya: Averting an Avoidable Crisis."

The ICG is calling on opposition political leader Raila Odinga to call off his 30 January swearing-in ceremony as the "people's president" and President Uhuru Kenyatta to agree to an audit of Kenya's electoral authorities. The ICG adds that Kenyan leaders should also consider some form of national convention to discuss reforms to lower the stakes of political competition.

Strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait

Politico published on 29 January 2018 an article titled "The Strait at the Center of the World" by Bruno Macaes, senior adviser at Flint Global in London.

The author discusses the strategic position of the narrow Bab el-Mandeb Strait that separates Djibouti and Yemen. He notes it is a rare place where refugees meet as they flee a brutal war and Yemen and leave the Horn of Africa to seek employment in the Gulf States.

Sino-Japanese Competition in Africa

The Stockholm-based Institute for Security and Development Policy posted on 19 January 2018 an analysis titled "More Than Just for Profit: Sino-Japanese Interests Clash in Africa" by Liam Palmbach.

The author argues that Japan is stepping up its engagement in Africa and encountering more frequent competition with China.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Ethiopia: Learning from China

A team at Fudan University's School of International Relations and Public Affairs in Shanghai published in November 2017 a study titled "Development and Industrialization in Ethiopia: Reflections from China's Experience" led by Yu Zheng and Shiping Tang.

The report offers suggestions for Ethiopian industrial policy and development based on lessons from China and other "Asian miracle countries" and on fieldwork in Ethiopia and China.

Agricultural Transformation: Rwanda and Ethiopia Score Best in 2017

The African Union Commission has released its 2017 draft progress report on the implementation of the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods.

Its ranking of countries in Africa places Rwanda (score of 6.1) at the top of the list followed by Ethiopia (5.3), Malawi (5), and Mauritius (5). The benchmark for African countries was 3.9, which is the minimum score for a country to be on track for implementing the Malabo Declaration. Twenty-six countries failed to reach this score and twelve failed to report. Other countries in the Horn of Africa scored poorly such as Djibouti (3.2) and Sudan (1.9) or failed to report: Eritrea, Somalia, and South Sudan.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Human Freedom Index - 2017 - East Africa and the Horn

The Washington-based CATO Institute, the Fraser Institute in Canada, and the Liberales Institut at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in Germany have published the "2017 Human Freedom Index." It ranks 159 countries based on 79 distinct indicators using data from 2008 to 2017.

It ranked only four countries in East Africa and the Horn, all of which fell below the midpoint. Kenya performed best at number 89, followed by Uganda at 94 and Tanzania at 99. Ethiopia had the lowest regional ranking at number 146. The other countries in the Horn of Africa were not included.

Growing Foreign Military Presence in Africa

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 25 January 2018 a commentary titled "AU Summit 30: Should Africa Worry about a Growing Foreign Military Presence?" by Peter Fabricius, ISS consultant.

The issue of growing numbers of foreign military bases in Africa has been a source of concern for many member states of the Africa Union's Peace and Security Council. However, the AU views the hosting of a foreign military base as a sovereign decision and has been reluctant to take a position.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Comparing Chinese and American Policy on Africa

The National Interest published on 22 January 2018 an article titled "How to Avoid Making 'the Afghanistan Mistake' in Africa" by Lyle J. Goldstein, US Naval War College.

The author assesses US and China's approach to Africa, suggesting that China's policy is more appropriate than the one from the United States.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Trumps Africa Comments Boon for China

National Public Radio posted on 16 January 2018 a commentary titled "Trump Insults Will Nudge African Nations Closer to China" by Ismail Einashe, a British-Somali freelance journalist.

The author said that Trump's comments disparaging Africans, along with his administration's travel ban and the threat to cut aid to African nations that voted in the UN against Trump's Jerusalem decision, send a clear message: the United States is retreating from the post-1945 international system it created, taking an "America First" position on global issues. China is steeping into the vacuum created by Trump in Africa.

Friday, January 19, 2018

World Bank Economic Prospects for Sub-Saharan Africa

The World Bank published in January 2018 its "Global Economic Prospects: Broad-Based Upturn, but for How Long?"

The section on Sub-Saharan Africa reports that growth rebounded to 2.4 percent in 2017 after slipping to 1.3 percent in 2016. Growth in the region is projected to rise to 3.2 percent in 2018 and to 3.5 percent in 2019, on the back of firming commodity prices and gradually strengthening domestic demand. Major oil/mineral economies in Nigeria, Angola, and South Africa will experience modest improvement. Non-resource intensive countries are expected to expand at a solid pace, helped by robust investment growth. Cote d'Ivoire is forecast to expand by 7.2 percent, Senegal by 6.9 percent, Ethiopia by 8.2 percent, and Tanzania by 6.8 percent.

Turkey Extends Influence in Red Sea

The Middle East Institute posted on 17 January 2018 an analysis titled "Turkey's Move into the Red Sea Unsettles Egypt" by Theodore Karasik and Giorgio Cafiero.

Turkey seems to have convinced Sudan to give it military access to Suakin Island, south of Port Sudan, in the Red Sea. Egypt fears that Sudan, with a Turkish military presence on Suakin Island, could feel emboldened to make an aggressive move against the disputed Halaib triangle along the Sudan-Egypt border. Turkey's entry into the Red Sea raises new questions for Arab states with high stakes in the region.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Red Sea: Connecter and Divider

The German Institute for International and Security Affairs published in November 2017 a paper titled "Red Sea: Connecter and Divider Disruption Waves from the Arabian Gulf to the Horn of Africa" by Annette Weber.

The Red Sea connects the Horn of Africa with the Gulf States, although it also separates African and Arab political and social cultures. In order to avoid further rifts between the Horn of Africa countries as a consequence of the disruptive politics of the Gulf, the Horn needs to perceive itself as a region and find common interests rather than becoming fragmented and weakened.

Horn of Africa Countries: Human Rights Watch Report

Human Rights Watch has published its World Report 2018 that summarizes key human rights issues in more than 90 countries and territories, drawing on events from late 2016 through November 2017.

The summaries for Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, and Kenya are available in this posting.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

78 Former US Ambassadors to Africa Send Letter to President Trump

In a public letter to President Trump on 16 January 2018, 78 former US ambassadors to Africa urged him to reassess his views on Africa and its citizens, and recognize the important contributions Africans and African Americans have made and continue to make to our country, our history, and the enduring bonds that will always link Africa and the United States. I was proud to be among the 78.

The Council on Foreign Relations posted on 18 January 2018 an article titled "Former U.S. Ambassadors to Africa Protest President Trumps's Remarks" by John Campbell.

Crisis Group Priorities for African Union in 2018

The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 17 January 2018 a paper titled "Seven Priorities for the African Union in 2019." The paper is also available in French.

It described the seven priorities as important institutional and financial reforms of the AU; limiting any disruption to the AU's work caused by friction between Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic; helping resolve or avert election-related crises in the DRC, Cameroon, Mali and Zimbabwe; and managing conflicts in the Central African Republic, Somalia and South Sudan. As for the United States, while the Trump administration has largely ignored Africa, the ICG commented that the administration's counterterrorism operations risk further complicating crises in Somalia and the Sahel absent more comprehensive support for peace efforts.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

AFRICOM and Security Cooperation

The most recent issue of Joint Force Quarterly published an article titled "Implementing Guidance for Security Cooperation: Overcoming Obstacles to U.S. Africa Command's Efforts" by Major Andrus W. Chaney, formerly chief of the Office of Security Cooperation at the US embassy in Djibouti.

The article outlines four areas where AFRICOM can improve its efforts to operationalize and synchronize its security cooperation in the region.

China Implements Ban on Ivory Imports

World Press Review published on 12 January 2018 an interview titled "China Makes Good on Its Pledge to Curb Elephant Poaching with Ivory Trade Ban" with Grace Gabriel, regional Asia director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

At the beginning of this year, China implemented a ban on the domestic sale and processing of ivory. As the largest consumer of ivory, this move should significantly reduce the incentives for the poaching and killing of elephants in Africa.

Egypt Seeks to Ease Tension with Sudan and Ethiopia

World Press Review published on 16 January 2018 an article titled "Egypt's Leader Seeks to Defuse Tension with Sudan, Ethiopia" by Hamza Hendawi.

The article quotes recent conciliatory remarks about Sudan and Ethiopia by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. Egypt hosted Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki last week and reportedly will host Ethiopian President Hailemariam Desalegn later this month.

China Filling Soft Power Void Left by US

The Conversation published on 8 January 2018 a commentary titled "China Steps into Soft Power Vacuum as the US Retreats under Trump" by Asit K. Biswas and Cecilia Tortajada, both with the National University of Singapore.

The authors argue that China is stepping into the global soft power vacuum created by the Trump administration, which is emphasizing America first. They conclude that American soft power is in retreat in Africa and elsewhere.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Somalia: Al-Shabaab Demanding Children

Human Rights Watch published on 14 January 2018 an account titled "Somalia: Al-Shabab Demanding Children." It reports on al-Shabaab's program that forces communities to hand over their children for indoctrination and military training.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Foresight Africa: Priorities for 2018

The Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings has just released a major report titled "Foresight Africa: Top Priorities for the Continent in 2018".

It contains the following chapters:

--Unleashing Africa's Inner Strengths: Institutions, Policies and Champions.
--Sustainable Financing for Economic Development: Mobilizing Africa's Resources.
--Broadening the Benefits of Growth: No One Left Behind.
--Rethinking Africa's Structural Transformation: The Rise of New Industries.
--Harnessing Africa's Digital Potential: New Tools for a New Age.
--Reassessing Africa's Global Partnerships: Approaches for Engaging the New World Order.

Is Ethiopia Falling Apart?

Foreign Policy published on 11 January 2018 a commentary titled "Ethiopia Is Falling Apart" by Mohammed Ademo, a freelance journalist based in Washington, and Jeffrey Smith, executive director of the Vanguard Africa Movement.

The authors conclude that tepid reforms and halfhearted concessions won't save Ethiopia from its existential crisis and that EPRDF leaders have no choice but to change course.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sudan-Egypt Tension Complicates Ethiopian Dam Project

Foreign Policy published on 11 January 2018 an article titled "Egypt-Sudan Spat Muddies Prospects for Deal at Big Nile Dam" by Keith Johnson.

The author suggests that problems in relations between Egypt and Sudan may complicate negotiations between Egypt and Ethiopia on the issue of filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, which supplies water to both Sudan and Egypt.

Somaliland after the Election

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 10 January 2018 a commentary titled "Somaliland's New President Has Work To Do" by Omar S. Mahmood, ISS Addis Ababa.

Somaliland has achieved an impressive record of elections and peaceful transfer of power. But the vote last year was highly contested and divisions can carry over between electoral cycles and become further entrenched if not properly managed.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

US-African Partnerships

The Institute for Defense Analyses published in December 2017 a paper titled "U.S.-African Partnerships: Advancing Common Interests."

The paper summarizes the presentations at a conference held in September 2017 co-sponsored by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, the Institute for Defense Analyses, the National Intelligence University, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the US Institute of Peace. It considers economic relations, security, governance, terrorism and democracy. It also looks at the situation in Libya and Somalia and the impact of China's engagement in Africa.

Monday, January 8, 2018

North Korea's Military Links with the Horn of Africa

The Diplomat published on 6 January 2018 a commentary titled "North Korea's Military Partners in the Horn of Africa" by Samuel Ramani, University of Oxford.

While Sudan and Uganda reportedly are no longer violating sanctions against North Korea, the author suggests that Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia are continuing to do so. He argues that Eritrea and Somalia are unlikely to suspend military links with North Korea, although Ethiopia may be in the process of complying with sanctions.

Japan-China Cooperation in Africa?

The South China Morning Post published an article on 4 January 2018 titled "Japan's Abe 'Keeping Enemies Close' by Offering Joint Africa Development Projects to China" by Julian Ryall.

The author reports that Japan is proposing collaboration between Japan and China on four existing development projects in Africa. But can Japan offer sufficient carrots to attract China to cooperate in Africa?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Turkey-Africa Economic Relations

The Journal of Sustainable Development Law and Policy, published by Nigeria's Afe Babalola University, contains a 2017 analysis titled "Economic Relations between Turkey and Africa: Challenges and Prospects" by Elem Eyrice Tepecikliogu, Yasar University in Turkey.

The study explores the evolution of Turkish-African relations and concentrates on Turkey's economic engagement in Africa. It analyzes recent Turkish initiatives in Africa's energy sector. It argues that although the low level of attention previously paid to Africa has changed, the pace of development of relations with Africa is still slow and suggests more steps should be taken to further improve relations with the continent.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Regional Responses to China's Influence in the Indian Ocean Region

The East Asian Strategic Review 2017, published by Japan's National Institute for Defense Studies, contains a chapter titled "Security in the Indian Ocean Region: Regional Responses to China's Growing Influence" by Mari Izuyama and Masahiro Kurita.

Although the focus is on India and Pakistan, it provides an overview of China's influence in the Western Indian Ocean, including Africa's Indian Ocean countries and the Gulf of Aden.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Ethiopia to Release Some Political Prisoners

The Washington Post published on 3 January 2018 an article titled "Ethiopia Plans To Release Some Imprisoned Politicians in Bid for National Dialogue" by Paul Schemm.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced on 3 January that some members of political parties under prosecution will be released and that those convicted will be pardoned in an effort to enhance the national political dialogue. This is a step in the right direction, although the devil remains in the details.

Turkey-Sudan Relations: A Turkish Military Base in the Red Sea?

Al-Monitor, a Washington-based media site with a focus on the Middle East, published on 3 January 2018 an article titled "Erdogan's Ottoman Dream Causes Storm in Red Sea" by Fehim Tastekin.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently visited Sudan, where he signed 13 agreements. Those with a financial commitment reportedly are financed by Qatar, a current ally of Turkey. Turkey's aid agency, TIKA, is already working to restore relics of its Ottoman heritage on Sudan's Red Sea island of Suakin. President Erdogan reportedly asked Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir if Turkey could establish a military base at Suakin. If this were to happen, it would anger Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE while it would be welcomed by Iran and Qatar and possibly even Somalia and Ethiopia. In any event, it would change the political/security dynamic in the Red Sea region.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Turkey's Policy in Somalia

The Istanbul Policy Center, an independent policy research institute, at Sabanci University published in December 2017 an analysis titled "From Benign Donor to Self-assured Security Provider: Turkey's Policy in Somalia" by Pinar Akpinar.

At a cost of $50 million and with a goal of training 10,000 Somali soldiers, Turkey established a military training facility in Mogadishu that demonstrates Turkey's support for the government of Somalia. The author concludes that a prudent approach by Turkey could enable it to secure a long-term presence in Somalia both as a benign donor and a self-assured security provider.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Implications of China's Base at Djibouti

China Brief published on 22 December 2017 an analysis titled "China's Overseas Military Base in Djibouti: Features, Motivations, and Policy Implications" by John Fei.

The author says it is unclear whether China's military base in Djibouti represents an effort by China just to enhance its peacekeeping and humanitarian and disaster relief capabilities, or suggests greater ambitions. China will probably use the base, however, primarily to support its economic engagement in the region, increase its abilities to provide humanitarian and disaster relief, and conduct anti-piracy and counterterrorism operations.