Friday, May 18, 2018

India in the Western Indian Ocean

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative published on 20 April 2018 an analysis titled "Islands as Game Changers in the Indian Ocean" by Darshana M. Baruah, research analyst at Carnegie India.

The author concludes that although India has traditional ties with most of the island states in the Indian Ocean region, it has failed to leverage its strategic advantages. India's military strengths lie in the northern and eastern Indian Ocean; it has operational limitations in the western Indian Ocean where it is trying to improve its position in Seychelles and Mauritius.

Kenya Concerned about Trade with China

Kenya's Business Daily published on 15 May 2018 an article titled "Kenya Rejects China-EAC Trade Pact" by Boniface Otieno.

Kenya's long-standing and large trade deficit with China was highlighted when Kenya announced that it will not sign a free trade agreement with China that has been under negotiation with the East African Community (EAC) since 2016. The decision is intended to protect Kenya's nascent manufacturing sector from being overrun by China's cheaper and more efficient producers.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

China's Just Another Great Power in Africa

The East Asia Forum posted on 17 May 2018 my brief commentary titled "China's Just Another Great Power in Africa."

It looks at the aid, trade, investment and security relationships between Africa and Western countries and Africa and China, concluding that they all are pursuing their own interests in similar ways. In fact, a lot of the recent commentary on China-Africa relations is engaging in hyperbole.

Ethiopia: History, Religion and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

Pambuzuka News published on 15 May 2018 an analysis titled "Dr. Abiy Ahmed's Ethiopia: Anatomy of an African Enigmatic Polity" by Odomaro Mubangizi, dean of the Department of Philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy and Theology.

The author, whose analysis draws extensively on Ethiopia's history and religious diversity, concludes that Ethiopia remains an enigmatic polity that defies clear-cut categorization. He adds that Ethiopia has great potential and its new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has come at the right time when the country needs fresh insights to propel it into the middle income category by 2025.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

China-DRC: Resource-for-Infrastructure Deal

The China-Africa Research Initiative (CARI) at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies published in May 2018 a study titled "The Risks and Rewards of Resource-for-Infrastructure Deals: Lessons from the Congo's Sicomines Agreement" by David G. Landry, researcher and consultant.

The Sicomines resource-for-infrastructure agreement signed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo and China in 2007 outlined a mammoth deal worth over $9 billion. It was subsequently scaled back considerably but has remained highly contentious. This paper explores the agreement and highlights the role risk has played from its inception until now. The author concludes that the deal has become much less lucrative for China, largely due to the downward reevaluation of the copper mine's estimated deposits, the downward spiral in copper prices, the the delays and setbacks that have plagued the operations.

CARI also published a policy brief with the same title.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

China and the West in Africa

China Global Television Network America ran on 9 May 2018 a half hour program with a panel of experts titled "The Heat: China and the West in Africa."

The international panel discussed trade, investment, debt, aid, infrastructure, the Belt and Road Initiative, and whether China is or is not engaged in neo-colonialism.

The Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway

The Guardian published on 14 May 2018 an article titled "In Ethiopia's Bushlands, Promised Riches of a Railway Boom Turn to Dust" by Tom Gardner, Addis Ababa correspondent for The Economist, and Charlie Rosser, filmmaker and photographer.

China financed and built the standard guage railway between Addis Ababa and Djibouti. The Chinese Railway Construction Corporation hired more than 20,000 Ethiopians and 5,000 Djiboutians during the construction process. China will manage the railway for 5 years. Ethiopia and Djibouti are expected to repay China for the cost of the original loan and management contract. The authors conclude the lesson of the railway is that top-down development breeds special resentment when grand promises are perceived to have been broken.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Djibouti: Interview with President Guelleh (in French)

Jeune Afrique published on 25 April 2018 a wide ranging interview with the President of Djibouti titled "Ismail Omar Guelleh: Djibouti n'est pas a vendre."

The interview includes a discussion of the US, French, Chinese, and Japanese military bases in Djibouti and the rent each country pays. When Russia and India also requested permission to establish a base in Djibouti, the President responded "no" there are already enough.

US Fed Up with South Sudan, Which Praises Chinese Companies

The White House press secretary released on 8 May 2018 a tough statement on South Sudan, which stated the United States "will not continue in a partnership with leaders who are only interested in perpetuating an endless war characterized by ethnically-motivated atrocities." The US has initiated a comprehensive review of its assistance programs to South Sudan.

Coincidentally, the Oil Review reported on 10 May 2018 a statement made that day by South Sudan's oil minister praising the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), which does not ask "how is the political situation?" but unlike western companies is only interested in doing business.

Turkey Competes with China in Africa

Nikkei Asian Review published on 12 May 2018 an article titled "Turkey Jockeys with China for Influence in Africa" by Akihiro Sano.

The article concludes that while Turkey cannot match China's financial muscle in Africa, it does offer an alternative to China, particularly construction of large infrastructure projects.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Saudi Arabia Supplies Oil to Sudan

News 24 published on 8 May 2018 an article titled "Saudi To Supply Oil To Fuel-Starved Sudan, Oil Minister Says."

Saudi Arabia will supply once oil-exporting Sudan with millions of tons of oil for the next five years. Sudan lost 75 percent of its oil producing fields with the independence of South Sudan.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

US Charges China Using Laser Beams against Pilots in Djibouti

CNN posted on 4 May 2018 a report titled "Chinese Lasers Injure US Military Pilots in Africa, Pentagon Says" by Ryan Browne.

The article reported that the US has formally protested the use of military grade laser beams by China against American pilots flying in and out of its military base in Djibouti. China also has a military base in Djibouti.

The Diplomat posted on 10 May 2018 an updated account titled "Why Is China Attacking US Aircraft?" by Ben Lowsen.

Africans Moving from China to Vietnam?

VN Express International published on 8 May 2018 an article titled "Rising Costs in China Make African Entrepreneurs Look To Vietnam" by Mi Na.

The number of Africans living in Guangzhou, China, has been dropping due to the rising cost of living and visa issues. Some are looking to move to markets in Vietnam, India, and Cambodia.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Ethiopians Riding Wave of Hope

The Washington Post published on 6 May 2018 an article titled "After Years of Unrest, Ethiopians Are Riding an Unlikely Wave of Hope. Will It Last?" by Paul Schemm.

The author argues that new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has ushered in an unlikely wave of hope and even optimism for a country that serves as a linchpin for stability in East Africa.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Gulf Crisis and Somalia

The Institute for Defense Analyses published on 3 May 2018 an analysis titled "The Gulf Crisis Comes to Somalia" by Sarah Constantine.

The author concludes that the Gulf crisis has challenged Somalia by highlighting how unprepared the government is to take on the basic tasks of governing. Somalia's ability to build a responsive national government appears increasingly distant.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Somalia-UAE Diplomatic Dispute and AMISOM

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 2 May 2018 a commentary titled "How Will the Somalia-UAE Diplomatic Row Affect AMISOM?" by Meressa K. Dessu, ISS Addis Ababa.

The author concluded that the diplomatic dispute between Somalia and the United Arab Emirates will have a multifaceted impact on AMISOM being able to exist as planned.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Somaliland between Democracy and Prosperty

The Daily Maverick published on 13 March 2018 an oped titled "Somaliland -- between Democracy and Prosperity" by Greg Mills and Jaco-Louis du Plessis, both of the Brenthurst Foundation.

The authors argue that democracy helps keeps things together in Somaliland, and radicalism in check. Nevertheless, Islamic radicalism is an attractive alternative for some.

Monday, April 30, 2018

China Works To Eradicate Malaria in Comoro Islands

Xinhua published on 24 April 2018 an article titled "Hunting Down Malaria in Comoros--Another China-Africa Story" by Yao Yuan and Wen Hao.

A team of Chinese scientists began in 2007 a program to eradicate malaria from the Comoro Islands. By 2016, malaria had been effectively eliminated from the islands of Moheli and Anjouan and is on schedule to be eliminated from Grande Comore by 2020. By any account, this is a good news story for both the Comoro Islands and China.

Africa Needs China Strategy

CNBC posted on 25 April 2018 an article titled "Africa Needs To Know What It Wants from China, Expert Says. Here Are Two Key Issues" by Justina Crabtree.

The article quotes a Senegalese national and former regional coordinator for Africa at the World Bank, who stated that most African countries do not have a strategy vis-a-vis China. He urged that African countries take steps to protect their own interests and better integrate their policy towards China. He put the blame on Africans for not being sufficiently organized.

China's Role in Africa's East-West Transport Link

The China in Africa Podcast posted on 29 April 2018 a 26 minute discussion titled "Can China Realize Africa's Dream of an East-West Transport Link?" with Eric Olander and Cobus van Staden.

This coast-to-coast road project of 8,700 kilometers from Senegal to Djibouti is a risky project that has long been a goal but faced numerous challenges. China may help make it a reality.

China Passes US in Kenyan Public Opinion Poll

Kenya's Capital published on 6 April 2018 an article titled "Kenyans Feel China Relations Better Than US--Ipsos" by Jeremiah Wakaya. The Star ran on 28 April 2018 a somewhat different account of the same poll titled "How China Warmed Its Way into the Hearts of Africans" by Adhere Cavince.

Ipsos, an opinion polling firm, has been tracking Kenyan opinion of the US and China in recent years. In 2015, the US was seen more favorably than China. The 2018 poll put China as Kenya's most important foreign partner at 34 percent compared to the US at 26 percent. At the same time, Kenyans perceived China as a slightly greater threat than the US to Kenya's economic and political development mainly because of economic losses attributed to the influx of cheap goods from China.

Background on 1995 Failed Assassination Attempt of Egyptian President posted on 27 April 2018 a report titled "The Failed Assassination Bid that Ended Al-Qaeda's Stint in Sudan" by Charu Sudan Kasturi.

The article provides background on the attempted assassination in 1995 of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak while he was attending the Organization of African Unity summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the forced departure in 1996 from Sudan of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Statement on Ethiopia

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, issued on 26 April 2018 a statement following his visit to Oromia in Ethiopia. His statement was generally optimistic; he reported that he found tremendous hope, but also anxiety.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

East Africa and the Horn: Press Freedom Rankings

Reporters without Borders has released its "2018 World Press Freedom Index" that ranks 180 countries.

A number of African countries rank better than the United States, which is in position number 45. Countries in East Africa and the Horn, however, fare poorly. Their rankings from best to worst are: Tanzania (93), Kenya (96), Uganda (117), South Sudan (144), Ethiopia (150), Somalia (168), Djibouti (173), Sudan (174), and Eritrea (179).

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.