Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Chinese Port Activity in the Indo-Pacific Region

Washington-based C4ADS, a non-profit organization dedicated to data-driven analysis, recently published a study titled "Harbored Ambitions: How China's Port Investments Are strategically Reshaping the Indo-Pacific" by Devin Thorne and Ben Spevack.

The report evaluates China's maritime infrastructure investment goals in the Indo-Pacific within the context of both policy from official documents and analyses from state- and Communist Party-affiliated publications. The authors found that Chinese analysts unofficially discussing port investments routinely prioritize China's national security interests over the objective of mutually beneficial economic development, contradicting the position of official policy documents.

China's Maritime Silk Road

The European Council on Foreign Relations published in April 2018 a policy brief titled "Blue China: Navigating the Maritime Silk Road to Europe" by Mathieu Duchatel and Alexandre Sheldon Duplaix.

While the focus of the study is Europe, the authors conclude that China's Maritime Silk Road is about power and international influence. Northeast Africa, especially Djibouti, the Red Sea, and the Suez Canal are an important part of this construct.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Trump's Africa Policy

Lobelog posted on 23 April 2018 a commentary titled "Trump's Africa Policy Is a Continuation of Clinton's, Bush's, and Obama's" by Herman J. Cohen, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs.

Cohen underscores the continuity in US policy towards Africa from one administration to another that has continued so far into the Trump administration.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Sudans Studies Association Annual Conference

The Sudans Studies Association will hold its 37th annual conference at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, on 11-13 May, 2018. The theme is "The Conflicts in the Sudans: Regional Contexts and Beyond."

Focus on Djibouti

The Africa-China Reporting Project at University of the Witwatersrand posted on 12 April 2018 a piece titled "Djibouti: Small Country, Big Stakes" by Eromo Egbejule, Nigerian journalist.

It looks at the dramatic growth, especially ports, currently taking place in Djibouti, much of it financed by Chinese loans. There are also questions about excessive debt.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Ports in Sub-Saharan Africa

PricewaterhouseCoopers published in April 2018 a 81-page report titled "Strengthening Africa's Gateways to Trade" by Francois Botes and Stacey Buck.

It is an analysis of port development in Sub-Saharan Africa. There has been a lag in African port investment. Improving the way ports are run and managed, creating greater capacity and reducing delays to shippers is key to making ports more efficient. The report suggests that China as Africa's largest trading partner has the most incentive other than African countries themselves to improve Africa's ports.

Friday, April 20, 2018

IMF Predicts Ethiopia Will Lead GDP Growth in Africa in 2018

Ventures Africa posted on 18 April 2018 an article titled "Africa Tipped for Growth in 2018 as IMF Dismisses Impact of US-China Trade War" by Feranmi Akeredolu.

The International Monetary Fund predicts that Ethiopia will have the fastest GDP growth in Africa in 2018 at 8.5 percent. Cote d'Ivoire, Senegal, and Rwanda are close behind.

Competing in Africa: China, EU and US

Brookings published on 16 April 2018 an analysis titled "Competing in Africa: China, the European Union and the United States" by Witney Schneidman and Joel Wiegert.

The authors conclude that China's commercial presence in Africa will continue to grow but raise questions about its loans adding to Africa's debt burden. The EU will focus on providing European companies with competitive tariff advantages. The US Congress is currently driving, to the extent anyone is driving, US policy towards Africa.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Training a Chinese Peacekeeper

Sixth Tone, a Shanghai-based English language website, posted on 26 March 2018 a piece titled "The Art of Peace: A Young Chinese Woman's Unlikely Career Choice" by Ni Dandan.

This is an account of a young Chinese woman who has become part of China's 8,000 troop commitment to a 40,000-strong UN peacekeeping standby force. It sheds some light on China's training program for peacekeeping personnel. Most Chinese UN peacekeepers are in Africa.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

China and the EU in the Horn of Africa

The Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael) published in April 2018 a policy brief titled "China and the EU in the Horn of Africa" by Anca-Elena Ursu and Willem van den Berg, both at Clingendael.

The policy brief unpacks the dynamics of Chinese engagement with the Horn of Africa, with Ethiopia as a case study. It argues that although the EU and Chinese activities in the Horn of Africa often differ in ideological and political interests, there is significant complementarity in economic and security interests.

Monday, April 16, 2018

China in Djibouti: Mixing Commerce and Security

The Council on Foreign Relations posted on 13 April 2018 a commentary titled "China's Strategy in Djibouti: Mixing Commercial and Military Interests" by Monica Wang, an intern at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The author concludes that the mixing of commercial and military interests that made Djibouti a possibility has become the model that China will replicate again in the Indian Ocean region, and soon.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

China, the Mediterranean, and the Red Sea

China MED posted on 15 April 2018 a report titled "China Looks at the Mediterranean Region."

The report looks at China's growing concern with the protection of its nationals and interests in the Mediterranean, Middle East, Gulf States, and Red Sea regions. Release in China of the movie "Operation Red Sea" and the 10 March attack on Sinohydro workers in Mali have fueled this concern.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Keeping the Hotline Open between Sudan and South Sudan

The International Crisis Group published on 13 April 2018 a commentary titled "Keeping the Hotline Open Between Sudan and South Sudan."

A set of cooperation agreements between Sudan and South Sudan has largely held and has formed the basis of their bilateral relations ever since. The UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism are largely responsible for this development. The International Crisis Group urges that they remain in place.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

US Ambassador to South Sudan Has Senate Hearing

The Voice of America ran a story on 11 April 2018 titled "Proposed S. Sudan Envoy Tells Senate Panel He's Ready for the Job" by Ayen Bior.

During the hearing, Senator Cory Booker alleged that Uganda has transferred U.S. military aid to the government of South Sudan. The ambassador-designate said he was unaware that any U.S. military equipment had been transferred from Uganda to South Sudan.

Climate Change Exacerbates Conflict in Somalia

The Institute for Security Studies published on 6 April 2018 an analysis titled "Climate Change Is Feeding Armed Conflict in Somalia" by Giovanna Kuele, Igarape Institute, and Ana Cristina Miola, University of Applied Sciences of Cologne, Germany.

The authors argue that over the past decade climate change-related desertification has expanded in Somalia, making the local population even more vulnerable. Climate change feeds armed conflict in Somalia by exacerbating tensions between clans; boosting the ranks and role of terrorist groups, including al-Shabaab; and increasing migration.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Senate Hearing on Somalia

The Senate Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy held a hearing on 14 March 2018 titled "Somalia's Current Security and Stability Status."

You can access the testimony of the following persons:

--Abdirashid Hashi, Heritage Institute for Policy Studies
--Tricia Bacon, American University School of Public Affairs
--Mark Yarnell, Refugees International
--E.J. Hogendoorn, International Crisis Group

Ethiopia to Lead Africa's Industrial Revolution?

Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI) recently posted a piece titled "Ethiopia Stands to Lead an African Industrial Revolution" by Nebil Kellow, managing director of Enterprise Partners.

There has been much discussion in recent years about African industrialization. Ethiopia has done far better than most African countries in building industrial parks and industrial capacity, but most of Africa, including Ethiopia, has a long way to go before industry will constitute a significant component of GNP. Most African countries might be better advised to focus on reforming and improving agriculture before they try to industrialize.

Somaliland's Battle against Terrorism

Politico published on 11 April 2018 an article titled "How to Fight Terror, the Somaliland Way" by Bruno Macaes, senior adviser at Flint Global in London.

The author suggests that Somaliland has kept al-Shabaab out of Somaliland because of strong loyalty to Somali clans and their belief that al-Shabaab is a negative force. If a young Somalilander is found to have any connection to al-Shabaab, that person will be forced to leave the country and remain a fugitive.

China and Africa's East-West Transport Dream

China Brief published on 9 April 2018 an analysis titled "Can China Realize Africa's Dream of an East-West Transport Link?" by Cobus van Staden, South African Institute for International Affairs.

Several ambitious schemes have been proposed to link Africa's east and west coasts. The author argues that in the short-to-mid-term, the obstacles to a truly robust set of East-West transport links are formidable, and it is unlikely that China's involvement will be a panacea.

Algeria May Join China's Belt and Road Initiative

One Belt One Road Europe, a platform that promotes the Belt and Road Initiative in Europe, posted on 9 April 2018 a commentary titled "Algeria on the New Silk Roads."

The commentary suggests that following Tunisia and Morocco, Algeria may also join China's Belt and Road Initiative. Algeria's goal is to keep Chinese investment flowing into the country and seek its continuing support for infrastructure development.

Somalia Needs a Grand Internal Political Bargain

The Mogadishu-based Heritage Institute for Policy Studies recently posted a policy brief titled "Somalia Needs Conciliatory Not Confrontational Politics."

It calls for a grand political settlement among all stakeholders as the surest way to political stability and ultimately defeating al-Shabaab. It also urges the Gulf States, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to spare Somalia from Gulf State conflicts.

The Earth Splits in Kenya's Rift Valley

National Geographic posted on 2 April 2018 an article titled "Why This Giant Crack Opened Up in Kenya" by Sarah Gibbens.

It describes the rapid development of a split in the earth in Kenya's Great Rift Valley caused by the movement away from each other of two tectonic plates, the Somali plate in the east and the Nubian plate in the west. It includes a short video of this recent event.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

US-China Trade War Will Hurt Africa

Business Daily Africa published on 9 April 2018 a column titled "US-China Trade War Will Hurt Africa."

The column argued that as African countries juggle between limiting imports to improve the balance of trade and protect local industries or improving the cost of living through importation of finished products that come cheaper, both will be coming at a high cost in the global market. The autarkic escalation led by the US-China trade war spells the proverbial case of choosing between the devil and the deep blue sea for African countries.

South Sudan and Sanctions

The Nation posted on 9 April 2018 an article titled "Can US Sanctions on South Sudan Rein in a Nation of Warlords?" by Simona Foltyn, freelance journalist.

The author noted that limited US sanctions so far have failed to bring about any positive change in behavior in South Sudan. Without regional buy-in to enforce them, they could have the opposite effect on the South Sudan government. They also impact disproportionately the government rather than the opposition.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Xi Jinping Thought and Implications for Africa

The South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) published in March 2018 an analysis titled "China in the Era of 'Xi Jinping Thought': Five Key Trends for Africa" by Cobus van Staden, senior researcher at SAIIA.

The paper identifies five trends that could affect Africa, emerging from China's 19th Communist Party Congress, held in Beijing in October 2017. The trends are: strengthening of CPC rule in both China's internal and external behavior, the full institutionalization of the Belt and Road Initiative, China's support for UN reform, the expansion of China's military role on the global stage, and stricter Internet control.