Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Time for US To Speak Frankly with Kenyan Government

African Arguments published on 27 February 2018 a commentary titled "How and Why the US Should Intervene in Kenya" by Mark Bellamy and Johnnie Carson, both former US ambassadors to Kenya.

Bellamy and Carson argue that the US must make crystal clear privately to the government of Kenya that there are limits to what the US will tolerate if Kenya continues to flaunt the rule of law.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Chinese Companies in Africa

Thierry Pairault, research director at France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, posted on 22 February 2018 part 3 of "China in Africa: Much Ado about Investment."

This posting looks at the confusion concerning the number of Chinese companies operating in Africa. While estimates are as high as 10,000 Chinese companies in Africa today, Pairault argues that most of them are small and micro businesses that are locally incorporated.

Chinese FDI in Africa in Decline

Thierry Pairault, research director at France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, posted on 21 February 2018 part 2 of "China in Africa: Much Ado about Investment."

The author notes that in 2016, according to official Chinese statistics, China's foreign direct investment decreased 19 percent compared to 2015. China's FDI in all of Africa is about the same as what China invests in Germany.

China Deals with Stereotypes of Africa

The Conversation published on 26 February 2018 a commentary titled "China's Media Struggles to Overcome Stereotypes of Africa" by Dani Madrid-Morales, PhD fellow at the City University of Hong Kong.

CCTV aired a comedy skit for this years's Annual Spring Festival Gala about the growing ties between China and Africa. Although it had to undergo careful government censorship, many Africans deemed the skit to be culturally insensitive or even racist.

The Conversation published on 6 March 2018 another commentary titled "What 'Black Face' Tells Us about China's Patronising Attitude towards Africa" by Roberto Castillo, Lingnan University.

Ethiopia's Ethnic Federalism and Internal Tensions

World Politics Review published on 27 February 2018 a commentary titled "Ethiopia's Model of Ethnic Federalism Buckles Under Internal Tensions" by William Davison, a freelance journalist based in Addis Ababa.

Davison describes the tensions in Ethiopia's governance model of ethnic federalism as the country navigates the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

Monday, February 26, 2018

African Debt and China: A Cautionary Tale from Sri Lanka

The Institute for Security Studies published on 21 February 2018 a commentary titled "Lessons from Sri Lanka on China's 'Debt-trap Diplomacy'" by Ronak Gopaldas, director at Signal Risk, a risk management company specializing in travel security.

The author pointed to Sri Lanka's borrowing binge from China to construct infrastructure that led to an untenable debt burden. As a result, Sri Lanka relinquished control to China of a major port built with Chinese financing. Given Africa's reliance on China as a source of funding, the author suggests there is concern that some African states will follow a similar pattern and mortgage their resources and strategic assets to China. At the same time, the author argues that savvy African countries can use their agency and insist on terms that allow China's involvement in Africa to grow their economies.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Kenya, China and Growing Debt

The Daily Nation (Kenya) published on 13 February 2018 an article titled "Beijing Takes Up Nairobi's Foreign Debt Spend" by Constant Munda.

The servicing of loans from China accounted for 48 percent of its total foreign debt servicing during the period July-September 2017, second only to servicing paid to the World Bank's International Development Association. As of September 2017, Kenya owed foreign commercial banks $6.86 billion, an increase of 231 percent over three years earlier. Of this amount, $4.73 billion was owed to Chinese banks, up from $922 million three years ago.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Sudan, US Sanctions, and Regional Politics

The International Crisis Group published on 23 February 2018 an analysis titled "Can Sudan Manage Economic Discontent Amid Volatile Geopolitics?" by Magnus Taylor.

The author suggests that Sudan has not been able to take full advantage of the decision by the United States to lift some of its sanctions. The situation has been complicated by regional political developments.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Ethiopia At Another Crossroads

The Institute for Defense Analyses Africa Watch published on 22 February 2018 a brief analysis titled "Ethiopia At a Crossroads" by Sarah Graveline.

The author is skeptical that the reinstated state of emergency will bring an end to Ethiopia's protests unless there are additional political reforms.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Child Soldiers in Somalia

Human Rights Watch published on 21 February 2018 a report titled "'It's Like We're Always in a Prison' Abuses Against Boys Accused of National Security Offenses in Somalia."

The report, based on interviews with 15 Somali child soldiers abducted by al-Shabaab and subsequently captured by Puntland authorities, documents abuses the children suffered after capture by Puntland authorities.

China's "Investments" in Africa: Not Always What Is Reported

Thierry Pairault, research director at France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, posted on 20 February 2018 a commentary titled "China in Africa: Much Ado about Investment."

Drawing on recent press accounts of large Chinese "investments" in Algeria and Egypt, the author explains why these projects do not always constitute investment at all or overstate the amount of the actual investment.

Nigeria, China, and Taiwan's Trade Office

Abdul-Gafar Tobi Oshodi, University of Leuven, Belgium, recently posted a report titled "Nigeria-Taiwan Row: Understanding China's Influence in Africa."

In 2017, Nigeria, under pressure from China, ordered Taiwan to relocate its trade mission from the political capital of Abuja to the commercial capital of Lagos. It subsequently asked the director of the trade mission to leave Nigeria. Nigeria took this action in compliance with China's definition of the One China policy.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Indian Navy Countering China with Seychelles Base

The World Politics Review published on 15 February 2018 an interview with James Holmes, US Navy War College, titled "India Gains a New Naval Foothold in the Seychelles to Counter China's Ambitions."

India recently signed a 20-year agreement with the Seychelles to build an airstrip and jetty for the Indian Navy. This would seem to be a response to China's new military facility in Djibouti to assure India's naval superiority in the Indian Ocean.

Resignation of Ethiopia's Prime Minister

African Arguments published on 15 February 2018 an analysis titled "Ethiopia: The Relentless Protests that Forced the Prime Minister to Resign" by Gonje De Wadla.

The author argues that the recent resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and the release of some political prisoners will not end the protests in Ethiopia.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

How Djibouti Became China's Gateway to Africa

Spiegel Online posted on 8 February 2018 an article titled "How Djibouti Became China's Gateway to Africa" by Dietmar Pieper.

The author suggests that Djibouti is fast becoming China's gateway to Africa. It is establishing China's first overseas military base and constructing Africa's largest free trade zone in Djibouti. The country is serving as a laboratory for the global shift in power from the West to the East.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Somalia: The Suicide Bombers of Al-Shabaab

The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point published in February 2018 a study titled "Targeted Terror: The Suicide Bombers of Al-Shabaab" by Jason Warner and Ellen Chapin.

This is a comprehensive account on the emergence, evolution, and efficacy of al-Shabaab's suicide bombers. Al-Shabaab has deployed at least 216 suicide bombers who carried out 155 suicide attacks, killing at least 595 and as many as 2,218 people. The most frequent targets are personnel and symbols of the Somali state and of the international community such as the AMISOM mission and United Nations.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Kenya's 2017 Election Results in New Activism

The Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace published on 12 February 2018 an assessment titled "Kenya's 2017 Election and New Wave of Activism" by Adams Oloo, University of Nairobi.

The author argues that the fraught 2017 electoral process intensified tensions between Kenyan civil society and the country's political and state institutions, even as it empowered a new wave of activists determined to keep their leaders in check. New activist groups have ratcheted up the pressure on the Uhuru Kenyatta government and sharpened their criticism of its perceived electoral indiscretions.

The Congo, Cobalt, and China

Lima Charlie News posted on 4 February 2018 an article titled "Cobalt Mining, China, and the Fight for Congo's Minerals" by Lima Charlie.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) holds half the world's cobalt reserves, a key component of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power iPhones and electric cars. China is a major importer of DRC cobalt as it tries to become the world's leader in electric car production. The DRC has proposed to raise taxes five fold on the metal in order to increase revenue. Chinese and other importers of cobalt are protesting vigorously.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Corruption in Africa: Role of Hong Kong and China

CNN published on 10 February 2018 a story titled "How a Hong Kong Millionaire's Bribery Case Exposes China's Corruption Problem in Africa" by Jenni Marsh.

The focus of the story is Hong Kong resident Patrick Ho and his alleged efforts to bribe Chadian officials. The account notes that although China has formally adopted a foreign bribery law to comply with the UN Convention Against Corruption, it has done little to enforce it.

Somaliland Bans Most Severe Form of Female Genital Mutilation

Ventures Africa published on 8 February 2018 an article titled "Somaliland Issues a Religious Ban Against Female Genital Mutilation" by Hadassah Egbedi.

Somaliland's Ministry of Religious Affairs issued an edict to ban the most severe form of female genital mutilation known as infibulation. Anyone performing the procedure will be subject to undefined punishment.

Washington Post Editorial Supports South Sudan Arms Embargo

The Washington Post ran an editorial on 8 February 2018 titled "An Arms Embargo against South Sudan Comes Better Late than Never."

Although the arms embargo on South Sudan imposed by the Trump administration will have little practical effect because the United States does not sell any weapons to South Sudan, it may presage another effort in the United Nations Security Council to impose a global arms ban.

Stifling the Free Press in Kenya

The Conversation published on 7 February 2018 a commentary titled "How Kenyatta Has Gone About Stifling the Free Press in Kenya" by George Ogola, University of Central Lancashire.

The author concludes there are ominous signs that Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is on a mission to silence the press as he consolidates his power.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

South Sudan Peace Talks Lacking Optimism

The Institute for Defense Analyses Africa Watch published on 8 February 2017 a brief commentary titled "Expectations Are Low for the Second Round of South Sudan Peace Talks" by Sarah Graveline.

The author concluded that if the talks do not go the way the South Sudan government wants, there is little to stop it from continuing its military campaign. Similarly, a leading opposition group has stated its intention to continue fighting should the talks fail.

Nile Water Diplomacy

The Institute for Security studies published on 2 February 2018 an analysis titled "Will Egypt-Ethiopia-Sudan Diplomacy Placate Other Nile Countries?" by Duncan E. Omondi Gumba, regional coordinator in Nairobi for the ENACT project.

The leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan recently met to discuss Nile water issues after weeks of frosty ties between Egypt and Sudan. The author concluded that any talks on this issue are doomed unless a basin-wide approach involving all 11 riparian states is followed.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Podcast on China's Military Engagement in Africa

The Chinafrica Project operated by Eric Olander and Cobus van Staden interviewed Chris Alden, London School of Economics and Political Science, on 21 January 2018. The 30-minute podcast titled "China's Evolving Military Strategy in Africa" discusses the opening for China created by the Trump administration, new Chinese basing in the Indian Ocean, concerns about protection of Chinese personnel in Africa, peacekeeping, counterterrorism, anti-piracy, arms transfers and the impact of all of this on China's non-interference policy.

Base Race in the Horn of Africa

The Interpreter, published by the Australian independent think tank the Lowy Institute, posted on 7 February 2018 a commentary titled "Base Race in the Horn of Africa" by David Brewster, Australian National University.

The author notes that several Gulf States and Turkey are joining France, the United States, Japan and China by establishing military bases in the Red Sea region. The "base race" by these middle powers demonstrates just how multi-polar and complex the Indian Ocean is likely to become.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The African Union's Information War Against Al-Shabaab

The International Journal of Security & Development published on 6 February 2018 a study titled "Strategic Communications for Peace Operations: The African Union's Information War Against Al-Shabaab" by Paul D. Williams, George Washington University.

The article analyzes the experiences of the African Union Mission in Somalia as a case study and examines how the UN tried to fill the gap by hiring a consortium of private firms known as the AU-UN Information Support Team to wage a strategic communications campaign against al-Shabaab. The author identifies four main lessons that could improve strategic communications for peace operations.

China-Latin America Engagement Follows China-Africa Model

Global Americans posted on 2 February 2018 an analysis titled "It's Time To Think Strategically about Countering Chinese Advances in Latin America" by Evan Ellis, U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute.

This analysis sets forth a pattern of Chinese engagement in Latin America and the Caribbean that is remarkably similar to China's pattern in Africa. The difference is that China took an earlier interest in Africa and pursued the continent more intensely than was the case in Latin America and the Caribbean. China-Latin America/Caribbean trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) now exceed China-Africa trade and FDI. According to IMF Direction of Trade Statistics for China in 2016, its trade with Latin America/Caribbean totaled $216 billion. In the case of Africa, it was only $151 billion in 2016. Ellis reports that Chinese companies have invested about $114 billion in Latin America and the Caribbean. The FDI figures for Africa vary, but they fall below Ellis' number for Latin America and the Caribbean. The most recent official Chinese figure for Africa is $34 billion. The US-based China Global Investment Tracker puts the total closer to $83 billion.

The fact that Latin America and the Caribbean are further along the development path than Africa probably accounts for China's higher trade and FDI engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean. But as Ellis notes, China is also stepping up its diplomacy and security interaction in the Western Hemisphere.

Conflict Across the Ethiopia-South Sudan Border

The Washington-based Wilson Center published in November 2017 a policy brief titled "Mitigating Cross-Border Conflicts along the Ethiopia-South Sudan Border" and a longer study titled "Cross-Border Intergroup Conflicts in the Horn of Africa: A Case Study of Ethiopia-South Sudan Borderland People" both by Tasew Gashaw, Southern Voices Network for Peacebuilding Scholar.

The author analyzes the issues facing the people who live along the porous 543-mile long border between Ethiopia and South Sudan. They face cross-border intergroup conflict that is exacerbated by South Sudan's instability, low economic inclusion in Ethiopia, and border insurgents who engage in illicit trade, child abduction, cattle rustling, and arms smuggling.

Will Chinese Light Manufacturing Move to Africa?

Peking University's Center for New Structural Economics and the UK-based Overseas Development Institute published in December 2017 a landmark study titled "Adjusting to Rising Costs in Chinese Light Manufacturing: What Opportunities for Developing Countries?" by Jiajun Xu, Stephen Gelb, Jiewei Li and Zuoxiang Zhao.

Accelerating real wage growth in China from the mid-2000s has raised the possibility of relocation of jobs from export-oriented labor-intensive light manufacturing industries on China's east coast to low-income countries in Africa, other parts of Asia, and even within China. The study surveyed 640 privately-owned Chinese firms in four sectors--home appliances, garments, footwear, and toys--that collectively employ about 16 million workers in China. Only 10 percent of the firms had invested abroad in the past or intended to do so in the next three years. Southeast Asia (Vietnam and Cambodia) was the most frequent destination. So far, only three firms had invested in Africa, all in footwear in Ethiopia. Only two firms indicated Africa was a preferred destination for planned foreign direct investment.

While the sample surveyed in China is relatively small, this report suggests that all of the recent hype concerning the potential movement of Chinese light industry to Africa should be treated with a great deal of caution. The study concluded that Southeast Asia remains a much more likely destination for China's outward investment in light industry than does Africa.

Monday, February 5, 2018

China's Humanitarian Aid

The London-based Humanitarian Policy Group, an independent research organization, published in January 2018 a study titled "Exploring the Links Between Chinese Foreign Policy and Humanitarian Action: Multiple Interests, Processes and Actors" by Miwa Hirono, Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan.

The paper tracks the evolution of China's humanitarian assistance, current funding levels and flows, and the decision-making and implementation structures. China's humanitarian spending, including flows to Africa, is ad hoc rather than systematic, without regard to any overarching criteria setting out where and when it should provide assistance. This is a rare and carefully researched study on China's humanitarian aid for natural disasters and complex emergencies.

Chinese Community in South Africa and Corporate Social Responsibility

The University of Witwatersrand Africa-China Reporting Project posted on 23 January 2018 a story titled "Using CSR to Influence Positive Perceptions of the Chinese by South Africans: Hit or Miss?" by Sharon Tshipa, journalist from Botswana.

The author concluded that the corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts by Chinese companies in South Africa are failing to achieve a positive perception of China and the Chinese community by South Africans. On the contrary, CSR by Chinese companies seems to be fueling the disdain and distance between China and South Africa.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Chinese Automotive Sector in Algeria and Morocco (in French)

The Revue Internationale des Economistes de Langue Francaise published in 2017 an analysis titled "La Chine dans la mondialisation: L'insertion de la filiere automobile Chinoise en Algerie et au Maroc" by Thierry Pairault, Centre d'etudes sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine.

The study demonstrates that the partnerships signed by Chinese companies in the Algerian and Moroccan automobile sectors are less a matter of integration than the globalization of traditional manufacturers through their Chinese partners.

Djibouti and China's Belt and Road Initiative (in French)

Thierry Pairault, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Science Sociales, recently posted a study titled "Djibouti et les routes electroniques de la soie."

The analysis takes a detailed look at the Djibouti special economic zone being developed by Chinese entrepreneur He Liehui, chairman of Touchroad International Holding Group. He Liehui also offers advice on the opportunities and risks of investing in Africa, where he has offices in Djibouti, Botswana, South Africa and Nigeria.

Friday, February 2, 2018

China's High Level Visitors to Africa

Development Reimagined posted on 30 January 2018 an infographic titled "Who Does China Priortise?".

It reports that Chinese leaders (unfortunately leaders are not defined) have made 79 visits to 43 different African countries over the past 10 years. South Africa was the most visited African country with 7 visits since 2007. Tanzania received 4 visits while Zambia, Chad, and Namibia received 3. Senior Chinese leaders did not visit South Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Mauritania, Swaziland, and Burkina Faso during this period. Swaziland and Burkina Faso still recognize Taiwan.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Sudan-Egypt Tension

The Institute for Defense Analyses Africa Watch published on 1 February 2018 a brief analysis titled "January Was a Rocky Month for Egypt-Sudan Relations" by Sarah Graveline.

The author concluded that while Egypt and Sudan, which are dealing with several disputes, appear likely to be able to reduce tensions in the short term, it is unlikely they will agree on long-term solutions.

Status of China's 2015 Commitment of $60 Billion for Africa

Brookings published on 30 January 2018 an analysis titled "China's Engagement in Africa: What Can We Learn in 2018 from the $60 Billion Commitment?" by Yun Sun.

During the 2015 FOCAC summit in Johannesburg, China announced a $60 billion package for Africa that included $5 billion in grants, $35 billion in concessional loans and export credits, $5 billion each for the China-Africa Development Fund and the Special Loan for the Development of African Small and Mid-Sized Enterprises, and $10 billion for a China-Africa Industrial Capacity Cooperation Fund. The goal was to complete the commitment by the end of 2018. The author has found that it is difficult to obtain precise figures for funding so far on each of these programs but believes China is on track for meeting most of the $60 billion financing commitment