Thursday, May 19, 2022

Is South Sudan's Jonglei Canal Back on Track?

 The Associated Press published on 19 May 2022 an article titled "Century-old Canal Project Sparks Opposition in South Sudan" by Deng Machol.  

The government of South Sudan is considering revival of construction of the Jonglei Canal on the White Nile to prevent flooding and improve infrastructure.  It would also increase the volume of water reaching Sudan and Egypt.  But there is opposition to the project, which some believe to be a catastrophic environmental and social disaster for South Sudan's Sudd wetlands.  

China Sends Upgraded Ships to Anti-Piracy Escort Mission in Gulf of Aden

 The South China Morning Post published on 19 May 2022 an article titled "China's PLA Navy Sends Destroyer and Frigate on First Escort Mission, Targeting Pirates Off Somalia" by Amber Wang.

China has sent for the first time the upgraded guided-missile destroyer Suzhou and the frigate Nantung to the Gulf of Aden as part of its anti-piracy contribution that began in 2008.

Comment:  Somali piracy in the Gulf of Aden ceased being a serious problem years ago, but China regularly rotates escort missions to the area.  This is a way to train naval personnel, test new equipment in the far seas, and make use of its military base in Djibouti.  It also contributes to China's goal of becoming a global naval power.

Turkey Looks to Challenge China in African Construction Sector

 East Africa's The Exchange published on 18 May 2022 an article titled "Turkey Edging Closer to China's Financial Muscle in Africa's Construction Projects" by Maingi Gichuku.  

For the past 2 decades, China has been the largest builder of infrastructure in Africa.  Turkey is methodically gaining market share in the construction sector in Africa, although in the past decade it accounted for only about 6 percent of the total yearly work done by Chinese contractors.  But as Chinese project financing declines in Africa, Turkey is likely to increase its market share, which is based on contracts won by private companies.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Ethiopia and Egypt Seek US Support for Position on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

 Al-Monitor published on 14 May 2022 an article titled "Egypt, Ethiopia Compete for US Support in Nile Dam File" by Mohamed Sabry.

Ethiopia's former minister of water, irrigation and energy and former chief negotiator for Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) talks with Egypt and Sudan has arrived in Washington as the new ambassador.  The appointment is seen as an effort to promote Ethiopia's position on the GERD.

South African Parliament Debates Government's Position on Russia-Ukraine War

 South Africa's parliament published on 17 March 2022 a summary titled "National Assembly Debates Impact of Russia-Ukraine War on South African Economy."

This account offers a useful discussion of South Africa's position on Russia's invasion of Ukraine. While the official position of South Africa is neutrality, some members supported Russia's attack and others strongly opposed it.   

Impact of Putin's War on Africa

 Nigeria's The Guardian published on 17 May 2022 a press release titled "The Russia-Ukraine Conflict and Its Impact on the Infrastructure and Built Environment Industry in Africa" by the African Media Agency.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has had significant negative impacts on the price and availability of key commodities in Africa.  The war has also opened some opportunities for African countries that can export gas to Europe such as Algeria, Nigeria, and Egypt.  

Kenyan Standard Gauge Railway Not Victim of Chinese Debt Trap Diplomacy

 The Conversation published on 16 May 2022 a commentary titled "Mombasa Port: How Kenya's Auditor-General Misread China's Standard Gauge Railway Contracts" by Deborah Brautigam.

In 2018, a leaked letter from the former Kenyan auditor-general's office sparked a rumor that Kenya had staked Mombasa Port as collateral for the Chinese-financed Standard Gauge Railway, leading to charges of debt trap diplomacy.  A detailed study by the China-Africa Research Initiative concluded that the rumor stemmed from a misreading by the former auditor-general, who mistakenly labelled the ports authority as a borrower, responsible for repaying the Chinese railway loans.

Somalia's New President

 Foreign Policy published on 18 May 2022 an article titled "Somalia's New President" by Nosmot Gbadamosi.  

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud's return to power after a five year absence enjoys strong support among young intellectuals and the political elite.  He may rely less on Qatar for support and reshuffle Somalia's relationship with Ethiopia, Eritrea, UAE and Egypt.  

Cautionary Notes on US Counterterrorism Policy in Somalia

 Just Security published on 17 May 2022 a commentary titled "Biden's New Counterterrorism Policy in Somalia: Cautions and Unknowns" by Luke Hartig.

The author cautions that the US needs to say more about the significance of the al-Shabaab threat, the kind of support forthcoming for the Somali government, and how the deployment of several hundred US troops fits into its larger counterterrorism strategy.  

China's Global Military Expansion and Africa

 The China Africa Project's Cobus van Staden interviewed Paul Nantulya, Africa Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, on 18 May 2022 in a piece titled "Africa's Role in China's Global Military Expansion - Defense Expert Unpacks a Thorny Issue."

Nantulya argued that China has the intention to transform the PLA Navy from a largely coastal force that played second fiddle to the PLA Ground Force into a blue water navy capable of operating and projecting power globally in support of China's expanding overseas interests.  As for Africa, the countries that come up in Chinese debates about new bases have been in the Indian Ocean and include Kenya, Tanzania, and Seychelles.  Namibia on the Atlantic Ocean has been the subject of intense local speculation as a potential basing partner.  Everything China does in this arena is incremental and modulated.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Ukraine War May Result in African Food Crisis

 The World Economic Forum published on 16 May 2022 a commentary titled "Averting an African Food Crisis in the Wake of the Ukraine War" by Ahunna Eziakonwa, director of the UNDP regional bureau for Africa.

The war in Ukraine threatens to plunge Africa into another episode of famine and deprivation.  This could in turn trigger political instability and social unrest.  

Ethiopia Receives World Bank Grant to Rebuild Conflict Areas

 Aljazeera published on 17 May 2022 an article titled "Ethiopia to Get $300m World Bank Grant for Reconstruction."

The World Bank is providing Ethiopia a $300 million grant to rebuild the health, education, and water supply sectors, and aid survivors of gender based violence in Tigray, Amhara, Afar, Oromia, and Benishangul-Gumuz regions. 

Chinese Stereotypes of Africans

 The Diplomat published on 6 May 2022 a commentary titled "The Shanghai Lockdown's  Viral Trend: 'African Warrior' Videos" by Asen Velinov, a Shanghai-based attorney and media consultant.  

The author draws on a variety of anecdotal accounts and media commentary to shed light on how Chinese nationals who are not knowledgeable about Africa perceive Africans.  

Do Chinese Firms Contribute to Economic Transformation in Africa?

 The Journal of International Development published in 2022 a study titled "Economic Transformation in Africa: What Is the Role of Chinese Firms?" by Linda Calabrese and Xiaoyang Tang.

The literature on the role of Chinese firms in the economic transformation of Africa suggests they have a positive impact.  Africa-China trade leads to mixed results, while Chinese investment and infrastructure construction contribute positively to transformation. 

Is China Seeking Another Naval Base in Africa?

 The Africa Center for Strategic Studies published on 12 May 2022 an analysis titled "Considerations for a Prospective New Chinese Naval Base in Africa" by Paul Nantulya.

Chinese military analysts have debated its foreign basing scenarios since the early 1990s, and all Chinese defense white papers since then have called for improving overseas logistical facilities to accomplish "diversified military tasks."  The author evaluates the prospects for a second Chinese military base (after Djibouti) in Africa and notes commonly rumored locations include Equatorial Guinea, Angola, and Namibia on the Atlantic Ocean.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Russia Looks to Africa, But Challenges Increase

 Pan African Visions published on 16 May 2022 a commentary titled "What Could Take Russia Forward in Africa" by Kester Kenn Klomegah.

Russia is stepping up its efforts to seek influence in Africa as Western sanctions increasingly impact Moscow.  But Russia has limited economic interaction with Africa and needs to face new practical realities if its efforts are to succeed.  Russia's invasion of Ukraine has only increased the obstacles.

Appeal for End of Ethnic Federalism in Ethiopia

 Ethiopia Insight published on 16 May 2022 a commentary titled "To Achieve Sustainable Peace in Ethiopia, Ethnic Federalism Must Be Replaced" by Kassahun Melesse, Oregon State University.

Resolving conflicting land claims in western Tigray between Amhara and Tigrayans is essential to a sustainable peace in Ethiopia.  The author argues that this and other ethnic land disputes can only be resolved if Ethiopia moves away from ethnic federalism and creates a federal system where minority rights are protected and citizens enjoy the same rights in all regional states where they reside.  

US to Return Several Hundred Troops to Somalia

 The New York Times published on 16 May 2022 an article titled "Biden Approves Plan to Redeploy Several Hundred Ground Forces into Somalia" by Charlie Savage and Eric Schmitt.

The Trump administration removed US troops from Somalia just days before the inauguration of  President Biden in 2021.  The Biden administration just announced it plans to deploy several hundred Special Operations forces inside Somalia to train Somali troops and to track down the leaders of the al-Shabaab terrorist organization.

Questionable Chinese Shrimp Fishing Off Madagascar

 Mongabay, a US-based non-profit conservation and environmental science news platform, published on 11 May 2022 a commentary titled "Murky Provenance of a Chinese Fleet Clouds Madagascar Shrimp Fishery" by Rivonala Razafison. 

Eight shrimp vessels owned by the Chinese company, Mada Fishery, are sitting idle in Madagascar during the shrimping season, apparently because of past fishing practices and legal questions related to ownership.     

Climate Change Contributing to Ethiopian Drought

 The Voice of America published on 15 May 2022 an article titled "Persistent Drought in Ethiopia Result of Climate Change, Experts Say" by Linda Givetash.

According to the World Metrological Organization, the warming Indian Ocean is associated with drying conditions in parts of Ethiopia, especially Somali Region, leading to persistent drought.

Somalia Elects New President as Al-Shabaab Continues Hold on Much of Country

 The New York Times published on 15 May 2022 an article titled "Somalia Elects New President, But Terrorists Hold True Power" by Abdi Latif Dahir.

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who served as president of Somalia between 2012 and 2017, was selected on 15 May by 328 members of parliament to replace President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.  He defeated 3 dozen candidates after 3 rounds of voting.  His first challenge will be confronting the al-Shabaab terrorist organization, which continues to impose its grip on parts of Somalia.  

Ethiopia: Some Cases of Forced Military Recruitment in Tigray Region

 Reuters published on 16 May 2022 an article titled "Some Ethiopians Claim Forced Recruitment by Tigrayan Forces" by Giulia Paravicini and Katharine Houreld.

Based on a dozen interviews from February to May, Reuters reported cases of forced recruitment into Tigrayan military forces by local officials in several parts of Tigray Region.  Such cases were apparently not common and this reportedly was not TPLF official policy.  

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Will Africa Pay a Price for Neutrality in Ukraine War?

 The Conversation published on 11 May 2022 a commentary titled "The War in Ukraine: Africa Risks Paying a Heavy Price for Neutrality" by Nicholas Westcott, University of London.

If Russia's invasion of Ukraine becomes a long-running war of attrition, Africa could face growing food price inflation, higher fertiliser prices, and increasing risk of debt distress.  This may lead to more local conflict.  Yet, African governments seem increasingly reluctant to put pressure on Russia to end the invasion.

Chinese Distant-Water Fishing Fleet Impacts Africa

 The Environmental Justice Foundation published on 30 March 2022 a major report titled "The Ever-Widening Net: Mapping the Scale, Nature and Corporate Structures of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing by the Chinese Distant-Water Fleet."

The report presents a comprehensive analysis of China's vast, opaque and at times illegal global fisheries footprint.  Africa accounts for 79 percent of the apparent offshore fishery projects of the Chinese distant-water fleet, threatening the future of coastal communities in countries such as Ghana.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Chinese Loans for African Arms Purchases

 India's Economic Times published on 12 May 2022 an article titled "China Expands Defence Supplies with African States" by Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury.

China signed 27 loans for defense purchases with 8 African countries worth $3.5 billion between 2000 and 2020.