Sunday, December 17, 2017

Somali Refugees: Have Debt Will Travel

The Washington Post published on 15 December 2017 an article titled "'What Other Choice Do I Have?' How Debt-ridden Refugees Are Being Forced To Return To a War Zone" by Kevin Sieff.

The article describes the dilemma faced by Somali refugees at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya who are in debt to local shopkeepers. UNHCR is offering a stipend to encourage refugees to return to Somalia. Many of those taking advantage of the stipend are doing so to pay off their debts even when it means returning to a conflict zone.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Is Uganda Laying the Groundwork for Future Unrest?

African Arguments published on 13 December 2017 a commentary titled "Bit by Bit, Uganda Is Laying the Groundwork for Future Unrest" by Magnus Taylor, International Crisis Group analyst for the Horn of Africa.

The author concludes that as President Museveni manoeuvres to extend his 30-year rule, a wide range of political and administrative reforms are urgently needed to avoid unrest. Pervasive corruption, polarized politics and authoritarian trends are setting the scene for future civil strife.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Should Sub-Saharan Africa Prioritize Industrialization?

Project Syndicate published on 14 December 2017 a commentary titled "Africa's Must Do Decade" by Li Yong, Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

Li Yong makes a valid point that South Africa is the only industrialized country in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is the least industrialized region in the world. He argues that Africa must industrialize, and it must do so in a socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable manner.

But is all of Sub-Saharan Africa ready to embark on industrialization, especially if it comes at the expense of prioritizing the improvement and reform of agriculture? There may be a few countries in Sub-Saharan Africa where it makes sense to emphasize putting scarce resources into industrialization rather than agriculture. But relatively high wages compared to countries like Bangladesh, inadequate infrastructure, being landlocked, inadequate electricity, and a lack of persons already skilled in manufacturing are huge challenges in most Sub-Saharan African countries. Does it not make more sense to devote scarce resources in most Sub-Saharan African countries to the improvement of agriculture over the next decade? In some cases, changes in government agricultural and land policies would improve the situation.

China-Africa Bibliography

I updated as of 14 December 2017 my bibliography of China-Africa relations that now exceeds 240 pages. It contains entries for all aspects of the China-Africa relationship.

Somalia: European Union Funding and the Future of AMISOM

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published in December 2017 a report titled "Impact of EU Funding Dynamics on AMISOM" by Omar S. Mahmood and Ndubuisi Christian Ani, both ISS researchers.

The European Union has placed a cap on the amount it is providing for AMISOM peacekeeper stipends. This decision widened a rift between AMISOM and its partners over its record of achievement and future trajectory, leading to planning for the withdrawal of AMISOM from Somalia.

Smuggling Migrants from the Horn of Africa to Yemen and Saudi Arabia

The Institute for Security Studies published a report dated November 2017 and titled "Migrant Smuggling: Paths from the Horn of Africa to Yemen and Saudi Arabia" by Peter Tinti, independent journalist.

The report examines the smuggling networks facilitating irregular migration from the Horn of Africa to countries in the Arabian Peninsula. In 2016, well over 100,000 irregular arrivals were recorded in Yemen, 83 percent Ethiopians and 17 percent Somalis. Most of them continued to Saudi Arabia seeking work.

Can South Sudan's Peace Agreement Be Revitalized?

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 8 December 2017 an analysis titled "Can South Sudan's Peace Agreement Be Revitalized?" by Meressa K. Dessu, ISS Addis Ababa.

The author concludes that "nothing much" should be expected from the efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development to revitalize the South Sudan peace process other than the possible temporary cessation of hostilities.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

China-Africa Forestry Cooperation

The International Institute for Environment and Development, which works in China, Cameroon, DRC, Mozambique, and Uganda, posted on 20 November 2017 the presentations from its October 2017 fourth international meeting in Mozambique of the China-Africa Forest Governance Learning Platform.

The posting includes the following slide presentations:

--Changes in China's Policy and Actions on China-Africa Forest Products Trade.
--Opportunities and Challenges for Chinese Timber Businesses in the Congo Basin.
--Insights of Chinese Forestry Investment in Zambia - Opportunities and Challenges.
--Zanzibar Declaration on Illegal Trade in Timber and Other Forest Products: Progress Made.
--Mozambique-China Cooperation on Forest and Timber Issues: Progress Made.
--NGOs Work in Cameroon with Companies Exporting Timber to China: Lessons Learned.
--Private Sector View of the Changes in Mozambique.
--Government View of Forest Sector Changes in Mozambique.
--Sustainable Processing of Wood in Uganda and the Chinese Market: Opportunities and Challenges.
--Forest Investment Program Support for the Forest Sector in Mozambique.
--China's Training Aid for African Forestry: Progress, Problems and Prospects.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Rising China and Africa Course Syllabus

I am making available for those persons interested in China-Africa issues my syllabus for a graduate course titled "Rising China and Africa" during the spring 2018 semester in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University.

Ethiopia: The Economics of a Chinese-built Industrial Park

The Guardian published on 5 December 2017 an article titled "Park Life: Workers Struggle To Make Ends Meet at Ethiopia's $250m Industrial Zone" by William Davison.

This is a journalistic account of the economic challenges faced by a textile company operating in Ethiopia's Hawassa Industrial Park, which was built by China. Low wages and cheap electricity attract companies to the industrial park, but relatively high transportation costs and a rising cost of living for workers are raising questions about the long-term profitably of the company.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Role of Election Observers in Somaliland

The Rift Valley Institute has just published a report titled "The Role of Election Observers in Somaliland" by Ayan Yusuf.

It is a record of a forum on 5 November 2017, before the actual election on 13 November. The forum focused on the international Election Observation Mission's assessment of the National Electoral Commission's preparation for the elections, the broader role observers play, and the methods they employ to fullfil that role.

Are African Countries Observing Sanctions against North Korea?

The Diplomat published on 8 December 2017 a commentary titled "Why North Korea Sanctions Are Failing in Africa" by Merve Demirel, Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.

The author argues that so far UN sanctions against North Korea have not functioned in Africa in a way to isolate North Korea. She bases this largely on the fact that only 15 percent of African UN members are in compliance with reporting requirements concerning North Korean sanctions. It should be noted, however, that the African countries are notoriously bad in meeting international reporting requirements.

China and the Replacement of Robert Mugabe

The Conversation published on 7 December 2017 a commentary titled "Why the Focus on China's Role in Mugabe's Fall Missed the Bigger Picture" by Cobus van Staden, South Africa Institute of International Affairs, and Chris Alden, London School of Economics and Political Science.

The authors argue that while China probably had advance word of Robert Mugabe's removal from power in Zimbabwe, China likely had no role in the actual change of regime. The visit to China by army chief Constantino Chiwenga less than two weeks before Mugabe was forced out of office only underscored China's new prominence on the global stage.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

What To Do with Somali Refugees in Kenya

The Mogadishu-based Heritage Institute for Policy Studies published in December 2017 a report titled "Durable Solutions for Somali Refugees: A Case Study of the Involuntary Repatriation of Dadaab Refugees" by Mohamud Yusuf Garre.

For several years, Kenyan authorities have been trying to shut down the large Somali refugee camp at Dadaab, calling it a breeding ground for terrorists. In February 2017, a High Court judge in Kenya blocked the government's plan to close Dadaab. Nevertheless, since 2014 some 73,000 Somali refugees have been repatriated to Kismaayo, Baydhabo, and Mogadishu. The report argues that Kenya should seriously consider integration for those long-term refugees who have gone through the Kenyan school system and are capable of prospering in Kenya. For those who do not meet this standard, repatriation must be voluntary, safe and dignified.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

From the Suez Canal to the Gulf of Aden

I contributed a chapter titled "From the Suez Canal to the Gulf of Aden" in a new book titled Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific: Heritage and Contemporary Challenges edited by Howard M. Hensel and Amit Gupta (Routledge, 2018).

While the book explores maritime security issues throughout the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific, my chapter focuses only on the maritime and coastal space from the Mediterranean end of the Suez Canal, through the Red Sea, Gulf of Aqaba, Bab el-Mandeb, and into the Gulf of Aden.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Chinese Manufacturing Not Likely to Relocate in Africa

The Center for New Structural Economics at Peking University published in December 2017 a report titled "Adjusting to Rising Costs in Chinese Light Manufacturing: What Opportunities for Developing Countries?" by Jiajun Xu, Stephen Gelb, Jiewei Li and Zuoxiang Zhao.

The authors interviewed 640 private companies (42 percent owned by domestic Chinese owners and 52 percent wholly owned foreign subsidiaries) in four Chinese cities concerning their plans for moving to lower cost production areas. The main challenge they faced in China was rising wage costs.

The implications for Africa are important. Of the 62 firms that had invested abroad or planned to do so, southeast Asia was a much more likely destination than Africa, where only three of the firms had invested to date, all in footwear in Ethiopia. Only two firms indicated Africa was a preferred destination for planned foreign direct investment (FDI). The survey suggested there is a need for realism on the potential for jobs transfer from China to low income host countries.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Building Peace in South Sudan

Search for Common Ground, an international organization committed to conflict transformation, published in November 2017 a report titled "Building a Constituency for Peace in South Sudan" by Katie Smith.

The report concludes that the peacebuilding strategy for South Sudan must move beyond engagement of national political elites to build a constituency for peace focused on stabilizing communities and addressing conflict drivers and triggers at the local level.

Somali and Ethiopian Migrants Go to Yemen and Saudi Arabia

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 1 December 2017 an account titled "Path of Insecurity for Migrants Leaving the Horn" by Peter Tinti, ISS consultant.

The author notes that many more Ethiopian and Somali migrants are traveling from the Horn of Africa to, of all places, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, than to Europe. Political discrimination and lack of economic opportunity are the primary drivers for Ethiopians while Somalis cite continuing conflict, famine and employment opportunities in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Life after Al-Shabaab

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 5 December 2017 its third account of a female returnee from al-Shabaab titled "Life after Al-Shabaab: A Returnee Puts the Pieces Together" by Cassidy Parker.

This woman, who managed to return to her home in Kenya and remarry after failing to find her first husband in Somalia, describes the forced use of narcotics and routine sexual abuse by al-Shabaab fighters.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Russian Exports to Africa

Modern Diplomacy posted on 1 December 2017 an interview with Peter Fradkov, General Director of the Russian Export Center, titled "Russian Trade: Strategies and Challenges." The interview was conducted by Kester Kenn Klomegah, an independent researcher.

Russian trade with Africa is an exceedingly modest $12 billion annually. The Russian Export Center is trying to improve this situation. The interview discusses Russian trade operations, strategies and challenges as well as future plans for Africa.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Removal of Mugabe in Zimbabwe Highlights China's Influence in Africa

The South China Morning Post published on 1 December 2017 an article titled "What the Mugabe Coup Says about China's Plans for Africa" by Bobby Jordan.

While Beijing dismisses claims it was involved in regime change in Zimbabwe, the author suggests that the downfall of Robert Mugabe demonstrates the increasingly active role of China in Africa, especially in countries where Western nations have fallen out of favor.

Chinese Environment Lawyer Urges Legal Requirements, Not Guidelines for Foreign Investment

ChinaDialogue published on 1 December 2017 an interview titled "China Needs Urgent Oversight of Investments" with Zhang Jingling, an environmental lawyer and visiting scholar at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington.

The author did research in Africa, Asia, and Latin America on the role of Chinese foreign investment. Noting that Chinese companies are not transparent, she concluded that China needs to establish legal requirements rather than voluntary guidelines for Chinese foreign investments. This recommendation is important for Africa, which has somewhere between $34 billion and $83 billion of Chinese FDI.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Somalia: Exit Strategy for AMISOM

The Washington Post posted on 30 November 2017 a commentary titled "Somalia's African Union Mission Has a New Exit Strategy. But Can Troops Actually Leave?" by Paul Williams, George Washington University.

Williams concludes that dilemmas facing AMISOM suggest it has no quick or simple exit strategy, which means renewed pressure on getting the politics and governance of Somalia's security sector right so that reforms can take place. This requires a deal between Mogadishu and regional administrations on implementing the new national security architecture, stamping out corruption in the Somali National Army and taking the fight to al-Shabaab.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Somaliland's New President

World Politics Review published on 1 December 2017 an analysis titled "Can Somaliland's New President Steer It Toward International Recognition?" by Megan Iacobini de Fazio, a freelance writer based in East Africa.

Following the recent election of Somaliland's new president, Musa Bihi Abdi, the author noted that he is seen as a strong leader who will uphold the rule of law and fight corruption. Despite its challenges, Somaliland has made strides in establishing a stable, peaceful and relatively functional proto-state. But the author adds Bihi will have to demonstrate that he is capable of moving beyond a narrow definition of democratic success in order to make Somaliland more inclusive and equal for all its citizens.

An Evaluation of US-Africa Policy in the Trump Administration

The South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) published in October 2017 a 43 page report titled "An Early Diagnosis of Trump's Impact on US-Africa Relations and on Sustainable Democracy in the US and Africa" by John J. Stremlau, an American now affiliated with SAIIA and the University of Witswatersrand.

Former U.S. ambassador John Campbell, now with the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, posted on 30 November 2017 remarks on Stremlau's report titled "New Study on Trump Administration's Impact on U.S.-Africa Relations."