Friday, November 17, 2017

Nigeria, China, and the Rosewood Racket

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a London and Washington-based environmental advocacy organization, published in October 2017 a report titled "The Rosewood Racket: China's Billion Dollar Illegal Timber Trade and the Devastation of Nigeria's Forests."

Most of the billion dollars' worth of wood exported by Nigeria over the past four years was illegal. According to EIA, Chinese businessmen and Nigerian officials were largely responsible for these illegal exports to China.

Mitigating Natural Disasters in Somaliland

The University of Hargeisa Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies published in November 2017 a study titled "Mitigating Natural Disasters in Somaliland: Policy Options and Strategies" by Nasir M. Ali and Kedir Jemal.

The objective of the study is to explore existing gaps and weaknesses in climate-related policies and institutional frameworks, with a specific focus on drought-related issues. It also critically examines possible strategies and approaches to help mitigate the impacts of future droughts with a special emphasis on early warning systems.

US Open To Removing Sudan from State Sponsors of Terrorism List

The New York Times published on 16 November 2017 an article titled "U.S. Is Open to Removing Sudan From Terrorism List, Diplomat Says" by Jina Moore.

Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan recently visited Khartoum. One of the most senior U.S. officials to visit Sudan in the past decade, he said the United States would consider removing Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism if Sudan continued to make progress on counterterrorism cooperation, human rights and other key issues. While this is a big "if," it clearly signals Washington's willingness to move in this direction.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Gold Sector in Sudan

The Sudan Democracy First Group recently published a study titled "The Politics of Mining and Trading of Gold in Sudan: Challenges of Corruption and Lack of Transparency" by Elfadil Elsharief Elhashmi.

The author concludes that the gold sector in Sudan operates in the context of widespread corruption and a state that has organized itself around the theft of national resources.

Could the Mogadishu Bombing Turn the Tide against Al-Shabaab?

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 10 November 2017 a commentary titled "Mogadishu Blast Could Bring About Renewed Conflict Prevention" by Omar S. Mahmood and Gustavo de Carvalho, both with ISS.

The authors argue that the public anger surrounding the 14 October bombing in Mogadishu will contribute to pressure to step up the military fight against al-Shabaab. They emphasize, however, that a reactive response will limit the scope to deal proactively with the complex longer-term causes of terrorism and might result in a missed opportunity.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

China, Africa, and Corporate Social Responsibility

The US Institute of Peace published in September 2017 a report titled "China's Soft Power in Africa or Real Corporate Accountability?" by Virginia Harper Ho.

It concludes that corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices are still maturing among Chinese firms operating in Africa and that many continue to think of CSR only in terms of charitable contributions or job creation.

African Foreign Ministers Invited to Washington

The Voice of America published on 14 November 2017 an article titled "Before High-level Discussions, US Aims to Strengthen Ties to Africa" by Vincent Makori and Salem Solomon.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will welcome in Washington on 16 and 17 November 37 African foreign ministers and African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat. In view of the relatively little attention given to Africa so far by the Trump administration, this is a welcome development.

EU, China, Africa Cooperation on Climate Change

The German Development Institute published in August 2017 a report titled "A New Climate Trilateralism? Opportunities for Cooperation Between the EU, China and African Countries on Addressing Climate Change" by Moritz Weigel and Alexander Demissie.

The paper emphasizes that trilateral cooperation between the EU, China and African countries should be guided by Africa's priorities. It proposes that trilateral cooperation initially focus on renewable energy.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Somaliland Stands Out in East Africa

The Economist published on 13 November 2017 a commentary titled "Why Somaliland Is East Africa's Strongest Democracy." While acknowledging flaws in Somaliland, the article compares the country's democracy favorably to all of its neighbors.

South Sudan: The Children's War

The Washington Post published on 10 November 2017 an article titled "They Were Rescued from War. Now South Sudan's Child Soldiers Are Going Back" by Kevin Sieff. The focus of the article is child soldiers in South Sudan.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

China, Africa, US and the War on Terror

The Confucius Institute at the University of Johannesburg published in October 2017 a paper titled "Implications of the US-led War on Terror for Africa-China Relations" by Bhaso Ndzendze, research intern at the University of Johannesburg Confucius Institute.

The author of this curious paper concludes that the US war on terror in Africa has created a better environment for Chinese investment. This could, in turn, trigger increased US investment since the United States "has committed itself" [it has?] to matching or exceeding investments from China. Consequently, the US-led war on terror has served as a catalyst for Chinese investment in and aid to Africa.

China-Africa: Will the Marriage of Convenience Last?

Coface Economic Publications, a French company, published in November 2017 a study titled "China-Africa: Will the Marriage of Convenience Last?" by Carlos Casanova and Ruben Nizard.

The authors conclude that the nature of China-Africa relations remains unbalanced. The continent as a whole maintains a trade deficit with China, while export dependency levels have increased, especially for oil and metals. In spite of this trend, the latest developments present the possibility that the China-Africa relationship may be able to go from being a failed marriage of convenience to a win-win partnership based on mutual trust. However, African governments need to be wary of becoming overly dependent on Chinese financing, as they could risk becoming vulnerable to shifts in Chinese policies as well as demand.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Sino-Algerian Relations

The Middle East Institute published on 31 October 2017 an essay titled "Sino-Algerian Relations: On a Path to Realizing Their Full Potential" by John Calabrese, American University.

This essay discusses the roots, substance and scope, and limitations of the blossoming Sino-Algerian relationship.

China's Evolving Role in Africa

The fall 2017 edition of CKGSB Knowledge, the publication of the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing, included an article (pages 8-12) titled "A Long-term Engagement: China's Evolving Role in Africa" by Jens Kastner. It is a mostly positive assessment of the evolving China-Africa relationship.

Turkey's Ties With the Horn of Africa

World Politics Review published on 9 November 2017 an interview titled "Turkey's Deep Ties With Somalia Reflect Its Broader Africa Strategy" with Michael Woldemariam, a professor at Boston University.

The author emphasizes Turkey's deep involvement in Somalia and the recent opening in Mogadishu of its military training facility for Somali security forces. He suggests Turkey's goal is to become a more important power in the Horn of Africa/Red Sea/ Gulf of Aden region.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Somaliland's Foreign Policy

Pambazuka News published on 9 November 2017 a commentary titled "What Next for Somaliland's Foreign Policy After the Election?" by Yacqub Ismail, student at the University of Bristol.

In the run-up to Somaliland's 13 November presidential election, the author assesses Somaliland's foreign policy vis-a-vis countries in the region.

Violent Extremism in Kenya: Impact on Women

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 8 November 2017 a study titled "Violent Extremism in Kenya: Why Women Are a Priority" by Irene Ndung'u, Uyo Salifu, and Romi Sigsworth, all researchers at ISS.

The study looks at how women in Kenya are involved in violent extremism and suggests ways to prevent and counter it. It also explores how women are affected by and respond to extremism.

Growing Challenges for Eritrea

The Institute for Defense Analyses published on 9 November 2017 a commentary titled "Eritrea--Will Declining Remittances Lead to Domestic Unrest?" by Sarah Graveline.

The author concludes that declining remittances from outside Eritrea and Europe's growing desire to limit Eritrean migration are challenging the government and may encourage increased domestic unrest.

China Tests Its Military Muscle in Africa

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 9 November 2017 a commentary titled "China Tests Its Military Muscle in Africa" by Peter Fabricius, ISS consultant.

The author cites the huge success of a new Chinese movie, Wolf Warrior 2, as a metaphor for China's growing security presence in Africa where the star of the movie is perceived as fighting Somali pirates, rebels, and terrorists. President Xi Jinping told the Chinese Communist Party's 19th Congress in October that it was time for China to become a mighty force that took greater lead on the world stage on political, economic, military, and environmental issues. The author says some Chinese scholars believe Africa is being used by Beijing as an experimental zone for this more assertive global role.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

China-Africa Economic Update

The China-Africa Research Initiative at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies published in October 2017 its first Economic Bulletin titled "Challenges of and Opportunities from the Commodity Price Slump" by Lucas Atkins, Deborah Brautigam,Yunnan Chen, and Jyhjong Hwang.

The Bulletin looks at recent statistics on China-Africa trade, Chinese foreign direct investment in Africa, Chinese labor in Africa, Chinese loans to Africa, and construction contracts won by Chinese companies.

Ethiopia's Omo Valley

The travel section of The New York Times posted on 30 October 2017 an article titled "Up Close With the Tribes of Ethiopia's Imperiled Omo Valley" by Andrew McCarthy.

This is a travel piece that emphasizes the ethnic groups of the Omo River Valley. It has some excellent photography.

Turkey in Africa

The Voice of America published on 7 November 2017 an article titled "Trade, Politics, Religion Draw Turkey to Sub-Saharan Africa" by Salem Solomon and Hilmi Hacaloglu.

The article, which draws on my comments, points out that Turkey has significantly expanded it ties with Sub-Saharan Africa in recent years. This initiative may not, however, extend beyond the Erdogan presidency, especially if there is a weakening in Turkey's economy.

Trump Administration and African Security

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 6 November 2017 a commentary titled "What Trump's Stance on Africa Means for Continental Security Efforts" by Omar S. Mahmood and Ndubuisi Christian Ani, researchers at ISS in Addis Ababa.

The authors conclude that the Trump administration will reduce funding for UN peacekeeping operations and AMISOM in Somalia while placing greater emphasis on bilateral efforts to defeat extremism and terrorism in Africa.

Monday, November 6, 2017

India's Response to State Fragility in Africa

The Observer Research Foundation (ORF), an Indian think tank, published in October 2017 an analysis titled "India's Response to State Fragility in Africa" by Urvashi Aneja, a research fellow at ORF.

The study examines India's current response to state fragility in Africa. It concludes that despite growing economic and commercial ties with Africa, New Delhi chooses not to directly address the underlying causes of state fragility and vulnerability in the continent.

China: Assembling Cars in Cameroon Is a Challenge

Quartz Africa published on 31 October 2017 an article titled "For a Chinese Company Building Central Africa's First Auto Plant It's Been a Bumpy Road" by Mbom Sixtus.

A Chinese company is in the process of establishing Central Africa's first car assembly plant in the industrial zone near the Chinese-built deep water port of Kribi. Eventually the goal is to manufacture the cars in Cameroon. In the meantime, the company has encountered bureaucratic delays and there have been allegations of corruption on behalf of Cameroonian officials.