Thursday, July 18, 2019

Sudan: UN Security Council and African Union Fault Lines

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 17 July 2019 an analysis titled "Can the AU and UN Find Common Ground on Sudan?" by Priyal Singh, ISS Pretoria, and Daniel Forti, International Peace Institute.

Discord has developed between the security councils of the African Union and the United Nations in their efforts to stabilize Sudan. The African Union has taken a position opposed by two permanent members--China and Russia--of the UN Security Council because of their views on non-interference in member states' internal affairs. The three African non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, and the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, support the position of the African Union. This sets up a potential unfortunate disconnect between the UN Security Council and the African Union.

Ethiopia's Power, Security and Democracy Dilemma

The Institute for Security Studies published on 15 July 2019 a commentary titled "Ethiopia's Power, Security and Democracy Dilemma" by Semir Yusuf.

The author concluded that political change has come rapidly in Ethiopia, raising expectations that the country is finally on the road to democracy. The challenge is Ethiopia's legacy of a strong state that is currently perceived as fragile and unwilling to restore security and the rule of law.

Putin's African Dream

Modern Diplomacy has just published a handbook titled "Putin's African Dream and the New Dawn: Challenges and Emerging Opportunities" by Kester Kenn Klomegah, an independent research writer and a policy consultant in the Russian Federation and Eurasian Union. Modern Diplomacy is a platform that publishes "international issues that are often outside the boundaries of mainstream Western media and academia." Partner organizations include the Russian International Affairs Council.

The handbook looks at Russia-Africa relations mostly through the eyes of Russian officials, business persons, and academics and its release is timed to precede the Russia-Africa Summit at Sochi in October 2019. It is a helpful guide in explaining how Russia currently views Africa and what it hopes to achieve at Sochi and afterwards. Russia has not been particularly active in Africa since the end of the Cold War. It remains to be seen if its relationship with Africa will become a "new dawn."

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Fixing US Diplomacy in Africa

World Politics Review published on 17 July 2019 a commentary titled "How to Fix America's Absentee Diplomacy in Africa" by Howard W. French, a career foreign correspondent.

The author suggests that the United States should pay more attention to Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, two of Africa's largest states that will determine the destiny of much of Africa. He also recommends a freezing of ties with African leaders who ignore term limits or otherwise remain in power for an excessive period of time.

Chinese Presence in African Technology Sector

The Berlin-based Mercator Institute for China Studies posted a 23 minute podcast on 9 July 2019 titled "Tom Bayes on Chinese Presence in the African Tech Sector" with Tom Bayes, a China-Africa researcher.

This wide-ranging interview discusses some of China's latest interaction with Africa in the technology sector. Bayes said Chinese private and state-owned enterprises are interested in Africa because it is a large market and a place to make money. This engagement adds a mostly positive dimension to China's engagement in Africa. He discusses Huawei's lead in 5G technology and the huge market share captured by Transsion, a Chinese company that has focused on inexpensive mobile phones for Africans. He also comments on the 5-year practice by Chinese technical staff at the Chinese-built African Union headquarters to transfer secretly each evening all messages back to a facility in Shanghai. The African Union subsequently took steps to end the spying.

India's Africa Policy

The German Institute for International and Security Affairs published in July 2019 a report titled "India's Africa Policy" by Christian Wagner.

India has become increasingly reliant on energy from Africa while Africa and its 54 countries are also relevant to India's global ambitions. India realizes that it does not have the means and instruments to compete with China in Africa. Nevertheless, China is influencing India's policy on the continent. India launched with Japan the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, which is designed to compete with China's economic engagement in Africa.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Trump's "Prosper Africa" Fixated on China

World Politics Review published on 16 July 2019 a commentary titled "Trump's 'Prosper Africa' Strategy Is Fixated on a Cold War-Like View of China" by Kimberly Ann Elliott, George Washington University.

The author points out that the $50 million proposed budget for Prosper Africa, the Trump administration's new Africa strategy, is a drop in the bucket compared to the administration's proposed 9 percent cut in overall aid to Africa. It is also a tiny fraction of financing offered by China.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Ethiopia's Quiet Revolution

The Journal of Democracy published in July 2019 an article titled "Ethiopia's Quiet Revolution" by Jon Temin and Yoseph Badwaza, both at Freedom House.

The authors concluded that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed faces major challenges before possible elections in 2020. He draws positive headlines around the globe, but is not always helped by his messaging at home. He and his government need to do more to lay out their vision of a comprehensive reform process with clear bench-marks and goals, and they need to set up mechanisms that can monitor progress and ensure accountability.

First China-Africa Peace and Security Forum

The First China Africa Peace and Security Forum opened in Beijing on 14 July 2019. Some 100 representatives from 50 African countries and the African Union are in attendance.

The text of the statement by ambassador Smail Chergui, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, at the First China-Africa Peace and Security Forum spells out China's previous assistance to the AU peacekeeping mission in Somalia and the African Standby Force.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Africa and the World Happiness Report 2019

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network published in March 2019 the 2019 edition of the "World Happiness Report" edited by John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey D. Sachs. Factors considered in the rankings are GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and perception of corruption.

The 2019 report ranked 156 countries, 45 in Africa. The best ranked African countries were Mauritius (57), Libya (72), Nigeria (85), Algeria (88), and Morocco (89). The poorest ranked African countries were South Sudan (156), Central African Republic (155), Tanzania (153), Rwanda (152), and Malawi (150). Some of the rankings are counter intuitive. Who would have thought Libya is the second best rated African country or that Tanzania and Rwanda are near the bottom. It is important, however, to consider the factors used to construct the index.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Ethiopia and Eritrea Rapprochement: The Bloom Is Off the Rose

The Conversation posted on 7 July 2019 a commentary titled "How Glow of the Historic Accord between Ethiopia and Eritrea Has Faded" by Martin Plaut, Institute of Commonwealth Studies.

The early optimism of the Ethiopia-Eritrea agreement is gone. Both countries are focused on other issues. The situation along the Ethiopia-Eritrea border is tense. The author suggests that Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki has returned to his unpredictable ways, making any predictions difficult.

South Africa Selects Chinese Huawei's 5G Network

The Standard Digital posted on 8 July 2019 an article titled "Cyril Ramaphosa: Huawei Is the Only Company that Can Bring 5G to South Africa."

In a rebuke to the United States, South Africa's president endorsed Huawei's 5G technology, adding that the China-US trade dispute should not adversely impact countries such as South Africa.

Global Corruption Barometer Africa 2019

The Global Corruption Barometer Africa is published by Transparency International in partnership with Afrobarometer. It provides public opinion data on citizen's views on corruption and direct experience of bribery in Africa based on fieldwork in 34 countries between 2016 and 2018.

The report concludes that corruption is on the rise, many governments are failing to do enough, concerns about the integrity of public officials remain high, bribery demands are a regular occurrence for many, people's experience with bribery varies, and despite fears of retaliation, citizens can make a difference. The percentage of Africans who thought corruption increased the most in the past 12 months live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Gabon, Namibia and Madagascar. The countries where citizens thought it had increased the least in the last 12 months were Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana and Benin.

China's Impact on Facial Recognition Programs in Africa

The South African Mail & Guardian published on 8 July 2019 a commentary titled "Tuning Surveillance Software with African Faces" by Bulelani Jili, Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research.

African states, including Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Zambia, with the support of China, are following the Communist Party of China's efforts to obtain data, which is threatening traditional conceptions of privacy. These software surveillance programs capture personal data that result in one of the world's most sophisticated and racially diversified facial recognition databases.

Why China Needs To Change Africa Strategy

Kenya's Business Daily published on 9 July 2019 a commentary titled "Why China Needs To Change Africa Strategy" by George Wachira, director of Kenya-based Petroleum Focus Consultants.

The author argues that China urgently needs to restructure its approach to import/export trade so that it benefits Africa and China mutually. There has to be deliberate action by China to increase its imports from Africa, not merely in areas of commodities and critical raw materials, but also value added produce and goods.

Resumption of Talks between Somalia and Somaliland?

The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 12 July 2019 a report titled "Somalia-Somaliland: The Perils of Delaying New Talks."

The ICG urges Somalia and Somaliland to meet for technical talks, focusing on security and economic matters of mutual concern, and avoiding for now the polarizing issue of Somaliland's political status.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Ethiopia: When Is a Coup a Coup and Other Issues

Ethiopia Insight published on 11 July 2019 a piece titled "Gloves Are Off" by Negash Haile.

This is a selected translation of remarks by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed responding to questions in Parliament on 1 July. He covers a variety of issues, including the recent coup d'etat attempt, ethnic federalism, Benishangul-Gumuz Region, Somali Region, Sudan and Egypt.

Belt and Road Africa Fund

Silk Road Briefing posted on 4 July 2019 an article titled "US$ 1 Billion Belt & Road Africa Fund Launched."

A new $1 billion Belt and Road Africa Fund has been launched, financed by China. It will finance investments in Africa and serve as a platform between business sectors in China and Africa. Thirty-eight African countries have signed a Belt and Road memorandum of understanding with China.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Sudan: Power Shifts to Darfur?

Foreign Policy published on 9 July 2019 a commentary titled "How Darfur Became Sudan's Kingmaker" by Jerome Tubiana.

The Bashir regime may be gone, but its legacy of a Sudanese society fractured by strong political and tribal divides persists. The author concludes that Sudan may be in need of two transitions: one from military to civilian rule and another from a centralized to a truly national state.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Is Press Censorship Returning to Ethiopia?

The Committee to Protect Journalists posted on 9 July 2019 a commentary titled "In Era of Reform, Ethiopia Still Reverts To Old Tactics To Censor Press" by Muthoki Mumo.

Following the selection of Abiy Ahmed as Ethiopia's prime minister the country made great strides towards improving press freedom. The recent coup attempt was followed by an internet blackout and the arrest of several journalists. This raises the question whether Ethiopia is returning to past practices of reigning in the press.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Ethiopia-Eritrea Rapprochement: Euphoria Is Over

African Arguments published on 8 July 2019 a commentary titled "Eritrea and Ethiopia: A Year of Peace, a Year of Dashed Hopes" by Selam Kidane, Eritrean human rights activist, and Martin Plaut, Institute of Commonwealth Studies.

Since the historic rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea last year, the border has closed again and little has changed. Patience is wearing thin. The euphoria has evaporated in both countries.

Sudan's New Dictator

Foreign Policy published on 2 July 2019 a commentary titled "From Camel Herder to Dictator" by Alex de Waal, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

General Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo, known as Hemeti and who first saw combat in Sudan's infamous Janjaweed, is commander of Sudan's Rapid Support Forces and deputy chairman of the Transitional Military Council (TMC). The author argues that he is the most powerful man in Sudan today. The struggle in Khartoum is not just between the military and the protest movement. It is also about control of the country from the historic center of power on the Nile River or by the people of the vast and underprivileged peripheries.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Controversial Somali-American Member of Congress

The Washington Post published on 6 July 2019 a lengthy article titled "Ilhan Omar's American Story: It's Complicated" by Greg Jaffe and Souad Mekhennet.

This is an account of Somali-American Ilhan Omar's rise in American politics to a member of the U.S. Congress, where she has stirred controversy.

An Election Model for Somalia

The Mogadishu-based The Heritage Institute for Policy Studies (HIPS) published in July 2019 a study titled "Somalia: In Search of a Workable 2020 Electoral Model."

Somalia is scheduled to hold elections in 2020. HIPS argues that the elections should not be postponed although it is highly improbable that a credible, free and fair election can be organized throughout the country within the remaining 18 months of the current government. Key stakeholders should engage now to identify a workable electoral model for the next election. HIPS discusses four electoral models.

Friday, July 5, 2019

UAE Behind Removal of Former Sudanese President?

Reuters published an in-depth account on 3 July 2019 titled "Abandoned by the UAE, Sudan's Bashir Was Destined To Fall" by Khalid Abdelaziz, Michael Georgy, and Maha El Dahan.

The authors argue that former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir mishandled a critical relationship with the United Arab Emirates and at the end of 2018, as Sudan's economy imploded and protesters took to the streets, Bashir found himself without this powerful and wealthy friend.