Monday, July 23, 2018

VOA Ethiopia/Eritrea Discussion

Voice of America Encounter program with Carol Castiel ran a 25-minute discussion on the developing relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The participants were Hank Cohen, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and myself.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

China, Africa, and the Pangolin Trade

The Washington Post published on 21 July 2018 an article titled "China's Push to Export Traditional Medicine May Doom the Magical Pangolin" by Simon Denyer.

The pangolin is the world's most trafficked mammal. A million of them are thought to have been poached from the wild in Asia and Africa in just a decade. Trade in the eight species of pangolin is illegal. Demand for them comes primarily from China and Vietnam, where the scales of the pangolin are used in traditional medicine. As a result, the pangolin is fast disappearing from the jungles of Asia and, increasingly, from Africa.

TRAFFIC published in December 2017 a study of pangolin trafficking titled "The Global Trafficking of Pangolins: A Comprehensive Summary of Seizures and Trafficking Routes from 2010-2015."

The report noted that large quantity pangolin shipments come from Cameroon, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Guinea and Kenya. The primary African countries through which pangolins are trafficked are Nigeria, Cameroon, Guinea, Liberia, Equatoriak Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, and Togo.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Chinese Companies Challenge French Companies in Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal

Bloomberg published on 17 July 2018 an article titled "China Battles France for Business in Former African Colonies" by Pauline Bax and Olivier Monnier.

As Chinese companies win a higher percentage of infrastructure contracts throughout Africa, they are also competing more aggressively in former French colonies where French companies once had a decided advantage.

Friday, July 20, 2018

China To Host 7th FOCAC in September

The Beijing Review published on 5 July 2018 an article titled "It's Time for Africa" by He Wenping, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The article suggests the broad themes that will be discussed at the upcoming 7th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) to be held in Beijing in September. This will be the 3rd FOCAC at the summit level.

Germany To Expand Cooperation with Ethiopia

Deutsche Welle published on 20 July 2018 an article titled "Germany Welcomes Developments on Horn of Africa" by Daniel Pelz.

The article reports that Germany has begun working on plans to expand its cooperation with Ethiopia in view of the changes being made by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Germany also regards Ethiopia as a strategic partner.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Chinese Dam Construction in Africa

Xiao Han's 329 page PhD thesis at the University of Melbourne dated March 2018 and titled "Money, Markets and Hydropower: Chinese Dam Construction in Africa" is available on-line.

The thesis aims to clarify the formation of goals, practices and consequences of Chinese outward investment through the lens of the Chinese government's and corporations' engagement in African dam construction. The thesis applies a technopolitical approach to disentangling the historical, technical, political, social and environmental complexity associated with dams and proceeds with a life cycle analysis of a specific project in Africa: the Bui Dam in Ghana.

The Politics of Ports in the Horn of Africa

African Arguments published on 18 July 2018 a commentary titled "The Politics of Ports in the Horn: War, Peace and Red Sea Rivalries" by David Styan.

The author concluded that ports in the Horn of Africa are proving to be of increasing interests to rival Arab and Chinese investors and the politics of ports have become central in shaping political alliances and enmities across the region.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

China and Djibouti's Free Trade Zone

Quartz Africa published on 9 July 2018 an article titled "Thanks to China, Africa's Largest Free Trade Zone Has Launched in Djibouti" by Abdi Latif Dahir.

The $3.5 billion Djibouti International Free Trade Zone opened in early July. It will focus on trade and logistics, export processing, business and financial support services, and manufacturing and duty-free merchandise retail. The project is part of China's Belt and Road Initiative.

China's Belt and Road, Africa, and American Companies

Brookings posted on 11 July 2018 a commentary titled "American Companies and Chinese Belt and Road in Africa" by Yun Sun.

The author documents growing collaboration between Chinese and American companies in infrastructure projects in Africa. She cites in particular American companies such as General Electric, Caterpillar, and Honeywell.

Ethiopia: Deficits, Debt, and Inflation

The Ethiopia Observer published on 16 July 2018 an article titled "Expanding Ethiopia Needs to Control Runaway Deficit, Debt and Inflation" by Abdulmenan Mohammed, a professional auditor.

The author concluded that Ethiopia's economic growth of the past decade has mainly been driven by an expansionary fiscal policy that is looking increasingly unsustainable.

Eritrea after Peace with Ethiopia

The Ethiopia Observer published on 16 July 2018 an article titled "Eritrean Exiles Seek Domestic Changes as Isaias Makes Peace with Ethiopia" by Arefaynie Fantahun.

The article focuses on concerns in the Eritrean exile community as to whether peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea will result in significant change inside Eritrea.

UN Imposes Arms Embargo on South Sudan

The Associated Press published on 13 July 2018 an article titled "UN Council Narrowly Approves Arms Embargo on South Sudan" by Edith M. Lederer.

The UN Security Council approved a US-drafted resolution imposing an arms embargo on South Sudan over objections that it could hurt African efforts to end the five-year old conflict. The resolution received the minimum nine yes votes; six other members abstained. The resolution ordered all countries to prevent immediately the direct or indirect supply or sale of weapons, ammunition, military vehicles and spare parts to South Sudan until 31 May 2019. The resolution also imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on two senior South Sudanese officials.

The African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) opposed the embargo, asking for more time to resolve the conflict. Ethiopia, arguing against the embargo, said the High-Level Revitalization Forum organized by IGAD to restore peace has made notable progress.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Chinese-run Fishmeal Factory in Gambia Encounters Criticism

The Pulitzer Center published on 12 July 2018 a story titled "Gambians Fight Chinese Fishmeal Factory as Fish Prices Soar, Stocks Fall" by Nosmot Gbadamosi, a British-Nigerian freelance journalist.

Gambians in a fishing community are protesting the operation of a Mauritanian-owned and Chinese-run fishmeal factory that is putting local fishermen out of business and creating environmental problems.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Eritrean President Visits Ethiopia

The BBC World Service ran on 14 July 2018 a program titled "Eritrea President in Landmark Visit to Ethiopia."

The program contains about five minutes of my comments on the background to the conflict.

Normalization of Ethiopia-Eritrea Relations Brings Joy--And Challenges

The Washington Post published on 13 July 2018 an article titled "'Like a Dream': Families Separated for Decades by Ethiopia-Eritrea Conflict Celebrate Peace Deal" by Paul Schemm.

The article highlights the joy experienced on both sides of the Ethiopia-Eritrea border following the Ethiopian initiative to end the two decade old border conflict. At the same time, it points to challenges ahead, especially the future of more than 160,000 Eritreans registered as refugees in Ethiopia, most of whom escaped military conscription in Eritrea.

The Washington Post also ran an editorial on 13 July 2018 titled "After 20 Years Eritrea and Ethiopia Are Making Peace. We Should All Celebrate."

Friday, July 13, 2018

China's Consumption-led Growth and Impact on Africa

The New African published on 4 July 2018 an article titled "What Impact in Africa as China Shifts To Consumption-led Growth?" by Regina Jane Jere.

Based on a recent Moody's report, the author says China's shift from consumption-led growth will have mixed credit implications for African states, flattening the trade volumes of oil and iron ore exporters while benefiting the exporters of non-ferrous metals (copper, cobalt and aluminum) and tourist destinations in Africa.

U.S. Role in Ending the Ethiopia-Eritrea Conflict

Foreign Policy published on 12 July 2018 a commentary titled "Trump Needs to Close the Deal in the Horn of Africa," by Daniel Runde, Center for Strategic and International Studies.


The author argues that the United States has an outsized role in the Horn of Africa and this is an historic opportunity to ensure that peace and normalization of relations take place between Ethiopia and Eritrea. While I agree that the United States should do everything appropriately possible to encourage this development, I believe the author has an exaggerated view of U.S. influence in the region. So long as Ethiopia and Eritrea themselves are sincerely trying to end this dispute, it may be more appropriate for outside powers to remain on the sidelines unless assistance is requested by both parties.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Refugees in South Sudan's Peace Process

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 9 July 2018 a commentary titled "Role of Refugees in South Sudan's Peace Process" by Tsion Tadesse Abebe and Selam Tadesse, both with ISS.

South Sudanese represent the largest refugee population in Africa and the third largest in the world. Most are hosted by neighboring Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sudan and most are women and children. The authors argue that these refugees can contribute positively to the ongoing search for peace mainly due to their experiences in exile, living alongside different ethnic groups. Their experiences often make them accommodating of people's differences.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Atrocity Prevention and US Policy toward South Sudan

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum published in July 2018 a detailed assessment titled "From Independence to Civil War: Atrocity Prevention and US Policy toward South Sudan" by Jon Temin.

The author identified four pivotal periods when the United States could have acted with greater conviction to prevent violence in South Sudan, but did not. For Each period, the author seeks to identify alternative policies that could have been considered and to assess whether those policies may have been able to prevent or limit violence.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Eastern African Seaboard: The Heroin Coast

ENACT published in June 2018 a detailed report titled "The Heroin Coast: A Political Economy along the Eastern African Seaboard" by Simone Haysom, Peter Gastrow, and Mark Shaw.

Africa is experiencing the sharpest increase in heroin use worldwide and a spectrum of criminal networks and political elites in East and southern Africa are substantially enmeshed in the trade. The report focuses on the characteristics of the heroin trade in the region and how it has become embedded in the societies along this route. It also highlights the features of the criminal governance systems that facilitate drug trafficking along this coastal route, particularly in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and South Africa.

China-Africa Military Ties

The Washington Post Monkey Cage posted on 6 July 2018 a commentary titled "China-Africa Military Ties Have Deepened. Here Are 4 Things To Know" by Lina Benabdallah, Wake Forest University.

The first China-Africa Defense and Security Forum organized by China's Ministry of National Defense is a sign of China's growing military ties with Africa. The author comments that the forum is an effort to solidify Beijing's role as provider of expertise and technical know-how in a wide variety of areas, including the defense and military arenas. She contrasts China's security approach to Africa with that of the United States and identifies four factors that help explain Beijing's defense strategy in Africa.

I would argue that the forum is also intended to improve security for China's personnel and interests in Africa and enhance the sale of its arms to Africa.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

China and Africa: Whither the Belt and Road?

Bridges Africa posted on 5 July 2018 an article titled "China and Africa: Wither the Belt and Road?" by Wenjie Chen and Roger Nord, both at the International Monetary Fund.

The authors conclude that if the Belt and Road Initiative is limited to more official lending for infrastructure development, it is unlikely to solve Africa's development challenges, given the shrinking borrowing space in many African countries.

Russia Struggling to Expand in Africa

The Ghana News Agency posted on 5 July 2018 an article titled "Russia To deepen Trade and Investment Cooperation with Africa" by Kester Kenn Klomegah, Moscow Bureau Chief.

Although Russia's trade with the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa has increased modestly in the past three years, it remained at a minuscule $3.6 billion in 2017. In spite of a recent visit to Africa by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, one analyst who follows Russia's engagement on the continent described its influence as marginal. Based on my own five-country trip to Sub-Saharan Africa in June, I would agree with this conclusion.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Is China Imposing Its Information Society Model on Africa?

Bridges Africa published in July 2018 an article titled "Is China Changing Information Societies in Africa?" by Iginio Gagliadone, University of Witswatersrand.

The author notes that some have accused China of trying to export its ICT model overseas, resulting in a more authoritarian version of the internet. He concludes that the analysis of China's ICT engagement in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Ghana offers little support for this hypothesis. On the other hand, the fact that African states are being helped by China in asserting their own controls over those of other actors may bring this accusation closer to the truth in the longer run.

Chinese Companies Building Gas and Oil Infrastructure in Ethiopia

East African Business Week published on 4 July 2018 an article titled "Ethiopia Starts Oil Production from Ogaden Basin" by Ruari Phillips.

China's state-owned Poly Group and Golden Concord Group began extracting from Ethiopia's Ogaden basin in May. A 550 kilometer long gas pipeline to the port of Djibouti is under construction.