Friday, August 26, 2016

China-Africa Medical Cooperation

The Chinafrica Project posted on 19 August 2016 an article titled "From Aid to Business? Chinese Medical Companies Arrive in Africa" by Wang Yujue, a fellow at China House Kenya. He describes the increased engagement in Africa of Chinese pharmaceutical companies.

Russia-Africa Relations

Pambazuka News published on 18 August 2016 an interview with Nataliya Zaiser, chair of the Africa Business Initiative, an organization created by Russian businesses to strengthen relations between Russia and Africa. It discusses efforts to increase the Russia-Africa economic connection, which has not been significant since the end of the Soviet era.

South Sudan's Risky Political Impasse

The International Crisis Group published on 17 August 2016 an analysis titled "South Sudan's Risky Political Impasse." It provides a useful summary of the situation in South Sudan as of the date of publication.

China-Africa Media Cooperation

The Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS) at Stellenbosch University published on 16 August 2016 a commentary titled "China-Africa Media Co-operation: Challenging Western Media Control" by Tichafa Chidzonga, research assistant at CCS.

The author concludes that as China-Africa media cooperation continues to increase, China's influence increases accordingly. Without a strategy by individual African governments, Africa risks losing its voice once again.

African Economic Outlook 2016

The African Development Bank (AfDB)has published its "African Economic Outlook 2016."

It is useful to compare this report with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) report posted below on 25 August. AfDB covers all of Africa while the IMF looks only at Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Both reports agree that Africa's growth rate in 2015 was about 3.5 percent, but the AfDB is more optimistic about the growth rate in 2016. The IMF says the SSA growth rate will be about 3 percent while AfDB says for all of Africa it will be about 3.7 percent. Including North Africa in the AfDB number does not account for the different projections.

Africa-Singapore Relations

Channel NewsAsia published on 24 August 2016 an article titled "Singapore-Africa Trade Relations Set to Deepen with New Agreements" by Calvin Hui.

Not much has been written about Africa-Singapore relations. This is a useful summary of the growing economic engagement that Singapore is developing in Africa. Singapore-Africa trade reached $8.5 billion in 2015, more than some much larger countries. At the end of 2014, Singapore's cumulative direct investment in Africa exceeded $16 billion. International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, the leading government agency for promoting international trade, has offices in Ghana and South Africa and is opening a third in Kenya in 2017.

Increased Usage of China's Renminbi in South Africa published on 24 August 2016 an article titled "RMB Continues to Penetrate the South African Market." Renminbi (RMB) usage in payments in South Africa increased by 65 percent over the last 12 months, strengthening the country's trade relations with China and Hong Kong.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

IMF Evaluates Economy of Sub-Saharan Africa

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) published in April 2016 its "Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa: Time for a Policy Reset."

It concludes that economic activity in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has weakened markedly, but, as usual, with a large variation in country circumstances. Growth for the region as a whole fell to 3 and one-half percent in 2015, the lowest level in 15 years, and is set to decelerate further in 2016 to 3 percent. The IMF believes that the medium-term growth prospects for SSA remain favorable. However, to realize this potential, a substantial policy reset is critical in many areas.

The United States and Africa: Looking toward the Next Decade

In June 2016, the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), the National Intelligence Manager for Africa at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the National Intelligence University hosted a day-long conference in Washington titled "The United States and Africa--Looking toward the Next Decade". IDA published the results of the conference in July 2016.

The wide-ranging conference included opening remarks by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a panel discussion on "A Continent Evolving: African Megatrends," a panel discussion on "Africa's Evolving Partnerships," a keynote address by Jeffrey Herbst, a panel discussion on "Opportunities and Challenges for the U.S. in Africa in the Coming Decade," and closing remarks by former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson.

Ethiopia: Protests Shake EPRDF

The Washington-based Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) published on 25 August 2016 an analysis titled "Ethiopian Intifada? Anti-Government Protests Shake the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front" by Hilary Matfess, a research associate at IDA. The analysis emphasizes the significance of these protests, which bring together elements of the Oromo and Amhara peoples, the two largest ethnic groups in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia: Mainstream Media Criticism of Ethiopia's Response to Protests

Foreign Policy published on 23 August 2016 an article titled "An Olympic Protest Is the Least of Ethiopia's Worries" by William Davison. The article is typical of growing criticism in Western mainstream media about Ethiopia's recent handling of political protests.

South Sudan: Can AU Succeed Where UN Has Not?

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published a commentary titled "Can the AU Help South Sudan Where the UN Is Failing?" by Zachary Donnenfeld, ISS Pretoria.

The author concludes that UNMISS has been unable to fulfil its obligations. He suggests a more effective approach might be to support the African regional protection force discussed at the AU Summit in Kigali last month.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

IGAD Issues Report on Transnational Threat of Al-Shabaab

The Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) issued in mid-August a report dated March 2016 titled "Al-Shabaab as a Transnational Security Threat." It concludes that al-Shabaab has aspired to become a regional threat with activities in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, and Tanzania. Its military wing includes two transnational units: the Jaysh Ayman directed against Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and another, Jaysh al-Usra, dedicated to operations against Ethiopia.

New Mining Code Targets Investment in Djibouti

The Oxford Business Group published on 20 July 2016 an analysis titled "New Mining Code Targets Investment in Djibouti" in English and French. It looks at Djibouti's efforts to attract investment in gold, limestone, and sandstone.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Islamist Extremism in East Africa

The Africa Center for Strategic Studies published on 9 August 2016 a study titled "Islamic Extremism in East Africa" by Abdisaid M. Ali. The author concludes that militant Islamist ideology has recently expanded throughout the East African region.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Podcast on China's Interests in Africa

The Bob Graham Center at the University of Florida asked me about three months ago to do an eleven minute podcast with a focus on China's interests in Africa while I was speaking at the university on China-Africa relations.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

China's Loans and Aid to Africa

The China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University has a website titled "Data: Chinese Loans and Aid to Africa" that provides useful information by country on China's development cooperation with Africa.

The site notes, for example, that from 2000 to 2014, the Chinese government, banks, and contractors extended $86.3 billion worth of loans to African governments and state-owned enterprises. Most Chinese loan finance is official export credits that do not qualify as official development assistance. One third of the value of these loans was secured by future revenues from commodity exports such as oil, copper and sesame.

How AMISOM Can Succeed in Somalia

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 1 August 2016 a commentary titled "Peace in Somalia: How Can AMISOM Succeed?" by Meressa K. Dessu, ISS Addis Ababa. The author argues that AMISOM has failed to consolidate peace in areas liberated from al-Shabaab because offensive operations are not supported by effective state-building and peacebuilding processes.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

North Korea's African Allies

The Diplomat published on 4 June 2016 a good update of North Korea's relations with Africa titled "North Korea's African Allies" by Samuel Ramani, a MPhil student at St. Antony's College, University of Oxford. The piece emphasizes North Korea's relations with Uganda, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, DRC, and Burundi.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Kenyan Human Rights Expert Critiques Freedom of Assembly in America

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Kenyan Maina Kiai, released on 27 July 2016 his report on this subject following an official mission to the United States from 11 to 27 July.

While many Americans will resent a report that is often critical of the situation in the United States by an outsider, it is important to remember that the United States government routinely critiques the human rights situation in every country in the world, except the United States, in the annual State Department Human Rights Report and numerous country specific statements. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the views of Maina Kiai, it is useful to consider how others see us.

Monday, August 1, 2016

India and China: A Scramble for Africa?

The European Council on Foreign Relations published on 29 July 2016 an analysis titled "India and China: A Scramble for Africa?" by Sunaina Kumar and Angela Stanzel.

The authors conclude that China's pre-eminent role in Africa has come to be challenged, at least in some areas, since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in India.

Stabilizing Somalia, South Sudan and the DRC

The Rift Valley Institute published in 2016 conference proceedings titled "Stabilization in Eastern and Central Africa: Insights from Somalia, South Sudan and the DRC."

The objective of the conference was to question, review, evaluate and exchange lessons on stabilization programs in the DRC, Somalia and South Sudan with the aim of informing policies that enhance peace and security in eastern and central Africa. This report contains the highlights from this gathering.

Sudan's Omar al-Bashir Being Friended by Europe

Foreign Policy published on 31 July 2016 a commentary titled "Bashir Comes in from the Cold" by Nesrine Malik.

The author reports that Europe's obsession with migrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East has resulted in closer relations with the Omar al-Bashir government in Sudan, which is taking steps to curtail their flow through Sudan.

China, Kenya, and Coal-powered Electricity

Quartz Africa published on 28 July 2016 an article titled "The Worst Thing about Kenya's New Power Plant Isn't that Chinese Workers Are Being Brought in To Build It" by Lily Kuo.

While China has been criticized for bringing Chinese workers to Kenya to build a coal-fired power plant, the author argues that the more important concern is that Kenya is building an environmentally unsound power project.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Estimating China's Foreign Aid

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Research Institute published in June 2016 a study titled "Estimating China's Foreign Aid II: 2014 Update" by Naohiro Kitano. While it does not focus on Africa, it does offer solid analysis about China's global foreign assistance program.