Monday, January 26, 2015

Leaked World Bank Report and Villagization in Ethiopia

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published on  20 January 2015 a story titled "Leaked Report Says World Bank Violated Own Rules in Ethiopia" by Sasha Chavkin.

The full World Bank report is available in the web posting.  The issue concerns Anuak people in Gambella region of Ethiopia who were resettled, allegedly forcibly, in order to make room for large agricultural investment projects.  The World Bank contributed to the funding of the program, known as villagization, which ended in 2013. 

China Sending an Infantry Battalion to South Sudan

The Washington-based Institute for Defense Analyses published on 26 January 2015 an article titled "Trading White Hats for Blue Ones? China Sends an Infantry Battalion to South Sudan" by Eliza Johannes. 

A small advance party of this Chinese combat force arrived in South Sudan early this year.  The number is expected to reach 520 soldiers by March and eventually a full battalion of 700.  They are assigned to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in the capital of Juba and will be in addition to the 350 Chinese engineers and medical staff located to the northwest in Wau.  China is the largest investor in South Sudanese oil, which underscores its interest in encouraging political stability in this conflicted area. 

Gibe III Dam in Ethiopia

The Gibe III dam on the Omo River in southwestern Ethiopia is moving toward completion.  The Washington-based Institute for Defense Analyses published on 26 January 2015 an article titled "African Hydropolitics--Ethiopia's Other Dam" by George F. Ward. 

Because of its environmental impact on the lower Omo River in Ethiopia and Lake Turkana in Kenya, this has been a controversial project.  The author concludes that in spite of these concerns Ethiopia is likely to continue its progress toward an initial operating capability later this year.

Somali-Turkish Relations

Aljazeera published on 21 January 2015 a commentary titled "Erdogan: The Hero of Somalia" by Abukar Arman, Somalia's former special envoy to the United States. 

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to visit Somalia in the aftermath of a bombing at a hotel in Mogadishu.  Part of an African tour, the trip is designed to strengthen the strategic relationship between Turkey and Somalia.  The author believes the timing of the visit in the aftermath of the bombing will only enhance Erdogan's reputation in the region.  

Chinese Agribusiness Entrepreneurship in Ghana and Nigeria

The China-Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University published in January 2015 a policy brief titled "Chinese Agribusiness Entrepreneurship in Africa: Case Studies in Ghana and Nigeria" by Yang Jiao, a PhD candidate at the University of Florida. 

The policy brief explores the motivation, challenges, and initial social impact of a private Chinese agribusiness enterprise in Ghana and a Chinese state-owned enterprise in Nigeria. 

Egyptian President to Visit Ethiopia

The New York Times published on 26 January 2015 an oped titled "Sisi Goes to Addis Ababa" by Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is scheduled to visit Addis Ababa this weekend.  This will be the first visit to Ethiopia by an Egyptian president since 1995.  De Waal urges el-Sissi to take advantage of this visit to finally make progress on joint management of the Nile River.  He argues that Egypt should cooperate with Ethiopia to manage the Nile's waters and join the Nile Basin Initiative's Cooperative Framework Agreement.

South Sudan: Internal US Debate on Arms Embargo

Foreign Policy published on 26 January 2015 an article titled "Mediating Mass Murder: Susan Rice Has Stalled the American Push for an Arms Embargo in South Sudan" by Colum Lynch.  The piece argues that President Obama's National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, is resisting the imposition of an arms embargo on South Sudan while U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, and U.S. ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, favor an embargo. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

China's Response to Importation of Illegal Timber

Chatham House published in December 2014 a study titled "Trade in Illegal Timber: The Response in China" by Laura Wellesley, a research associate at Chatham House.

The report concludes that the government of China has made notable progress in its efforts to tackle illegal logging and the associated trade.  It has also developed guidance for Chinese companies operating overseas to promote sustainable forest products trade and investment.  Nevertheless, illegal trade remains a significant problem.

Since 2000, there has been a marked increase in high-risk imports of high-value hardwood logs, particularly rosewood, from the Mekong region and African countries such as Mozambique, Benin, The Gambia, and Ghana.  Another cause for concern is the continued, and in some cases increased, import of logs into China from countries in which a log export ban is in place--namely, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, and Cote d'Ivoire.

A Chinese translation of this report is also available.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

China Daily Coverage of China-Africa Event in Washington

China Daily covered a panel session in Washington on 21 January 2015 concerning China and Africa hosted by the Maryland-China Business Council.  The 23 January article titled "China, US Should Cooperate on Doing Business in Africa: Expert" was written by Hua Shengdun.  I was on the panel and emphasized the need for cooperation between the United States and China on issues such as African economic development, peacekeeping, and political stability. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Human Rights Watch Report on Violations of Media Freedoms in Ethiopia

Human Rights Watch published in January 2015 a lengthy, critical report titled "'Journalism Is Not a Crime': Violations of Media Freedoms in Ethiopia."  The report describes the dire state of Ethiopia's media and the resulting impact on freedom of expression and the media.

It concludes that "the ruling party has treated the private media as a threat to its hegemony, and is using various techniques to decimate private media, independent reporting, and critical analysis, with drastic results." 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

China-Africa Military Relations

The blog War Is Boring recently ran a piece titled "China Is Getting Ready to Surge Troops into Africa: Military Deploying to Protect Beijing's People and Investments" by Peter Dorrie.  The commentary accurately reports my comments, although I believe part of the heading "China Is Getting Ready to Surge Troops into Africa" is misleading.  China is deploying about 700 combat troops to join its noncombat contingent with the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.  To the best of my knowledge, no additional Chinese troops are scheduled to deploy in Africa.  At the same time, China is concerned that its growing number of nationals and interests in Africa may be subject to increasing threats.  At some point, this may lead to more military engagement.

Chinese Naval Strategy and the "String of Pearls" Debate

The National Defense University in Washington issued a major report in October 2014 on "Chinese Overseas Basing Requirements in the 21st Century" by Christopher D. Yung, Ross Rustici, Scott Devary, and Jenny Lin.  It deals with the so-called Chinese "String of Pearls" strategy in the Indian Ocean and has rekindled an old debate.  This discussion is relevant to future Chinese naval interests along the East African coast.  One of the authors responded to recent criticism of the report in a piece published in The Diplomat on 22 January 2015 titled "Burying China's 'String of Pearls'."

The original report argues that China's expanding global interests will generate increased demands for out-of-area naval operations and predicts that China is likely to establish at least one "dual-use" civilian/military base, probably at Karachi, to provide logistics support for increased People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) operations.  The report also concluded that China is unlikely to attempt to dominate the Indian Ocean region militarily and suggested the "String of Pearls" model has long outlived its usefulness as a strategic concept.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Story of Convicted Somali-born Basaaly Moalin

The New Yorker published on 26 January 2015 a long article titled "The Whole Haystack" by Mattathias Schwartz.  The focus of the article is Somali-born Basaaly Moalin, who was living in San Diego and convicted of financing Somali extremists.  Much of the article is devoted to the issue of access to phone records and whether that is the best way to catch a terrorist. 

The China-Africa Knowledge Project

I call to your attention The China-Africa Knowledge Project at the Social Science Research Council (SSRC).  The project aims to deepen understanding of China's engagement with Africa and locate scholarship on China and Africa within broader scholarly and policy discourses.  It does this by institutional collaboration and developing web-based resources and activities.  It is funded by the Henry Luce Foundation and the SSRC. 

The project has an international and interdisciplinary Working Group on China-Africa tasked with facilitating new research collaboration.  The SSRC is working to strengthen and expand the Chinese in Africa/Africans in China Research Network.  The China, Africa, and the UN stream of work explores the evolution of China's engagement with multilateral cooperation and the United Nations.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

China in Africa: One among Many

The Economist published on 17 January 2015 a brief commentary titled "China in Africa: One among Many."  The sub-title is "China has become big in Africa. Now for the backlash."

The statistics used in the article suggest it is referring only to Sub-Saharan Africa and not all 54 countries in Africa.  A main theme is that Africans are increasingly suspicious of Chinese firms and their unfair deals and environmental damage.  It concludes that after years of talk about "win-win" partnerships, "China seems belatedly aware of the problem."

While there is some truth to the criticism in the article, it strikes me as somewhat overwrought.  The most useful point is that we should not lose sight of the fact that collectively countries such as the US, UK, France, India, and Italy count for much more trade and investment in Africa than does China. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

South Africa's ANC Moves Closer to China's CPC

The newstatesman.com published on 8 January 2015 a commentary titled "Why Is the ANC Following the Example of the Chinese Communist Party?" by David Plaut. 

South Africa's ruling African National Congress is constructing a political school and policy institute.  The idea is to model the institute on the Chinese Communist Party's cadre training organization--the Chinese Executive Leadership Academy Pudong.  The author notes that President Jacob Zuma has promised that the ANC will rule until the second coming of Christ. 

A Greater Maritime Role for China in the Gulf of Guinea?

The China Brief published on 9 January 2015 an analysis titled "Maritime Insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea: A Greater Role for China?" by Hang Zhou and Katharina Seibel. 

In 2012, attacks on ships off the Gulf of Guinea for the first time exceeded the number of attacks by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden.  A couple of Chinese vessels and additional Chinese nationals on vessels from other countries have been subject to attack.  Except for the sale of coastal patrol boats to countries in and near the Gulf of Guinea, China has not been especially active compared to the US and European Union in trying to stem the problem.  The authors wonder if the time has come for China to become more engaged in countering piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

Update on China Africa Development Fund

The Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS) at Stellenbosch University published on 13 January 2015 a brief analysis titled "China Africa Development Fund: Beyond a Foreign Policy Instrument" by Zhang Qiaowen, who is affiliated with CCS.

The China Africa Development Fund currently has $3 billion and has invested $2 billion.  The author concludes that it is a useful tool for outward direct investment but still has a long way to go in terms of financing, operations, and investment. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Critical Analysis of Kenya's Members of County Assemblies

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 14 January 2015 an analysis titled "The Tyranny of Kenya's MCAs" by Peter Aling'o and David W. Wagacha, both at ISS in Nairobi. 

Kenya's 2010 Constitution created the members of county assemblies (MCAs) to replace the local government councillors' posts.  The authors argue that the MCAs have become a tool for political extortion and blackmail and act with impunity and disregard for the rule of law.  In their view, the MCAs pose the biggest threat to Kenya's constitutional devolution project, and intervention is urgently required to ensure that the will of the people is not subverted to serve the interests of a few political elites.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Chinese Agricultural Engagement in Zambia

The China-Africa Research Initiative at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies published in January 2015 a policy brief titled "Chinese Agricultural Engagements in Zambia: A Grassroots Analysis" by Solange Guo Chatelard, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, and Jessica M. Chu, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

It examines the diverse scale and nature of Chinese agricultural investments in Zambia.  By situating these different forms of engagement within the broader context of the commercialization of agriculture, it identifies a complex picture of overlapping agricultural dynamics and interests.

Chinese Tourism in Zambia

The South China Morning Post published on 10 January 2015 an article titled "The Town that China Built: Tourism Boom at Zambia's Victoria Falls Thanks to Chinese Makeover" by Jenni Marsh.  The article describes the growth of Chinese tourism in Zambia and Africa where it increased 56 percent from 2011 to 2012. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Peacekeeping Profiles of African Countries

As of the end of 2013, African countries were the largest providers of troops and police to UN peacekeeping operations, supplying 44 percent of the global total.  Providing for Peacekeeping, a project of the International Peace Institute and the Elliott School at George Washington University, maintain a data base that includes more than 50 profiles of countries that provide peacekeepers to UN operations.  The African country profiles include:

--Ethiopia
--South Africa
--Ghana
--Uganda
--Kenya
--Zimbabwe
--Rwanda

China-Egypt Relations

The Diplomat published on 24 December 2014 an article titled "China's Egypt Opportunity" by Shannon Tiezzi.  Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi visited Beijing in December 2014 when the two countries upgraded their relationship to a "comprehensive strategic partnership."  China is increasing its economic ties with Egypt at a time when US-Egyptian relations continue to be strained. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Ethiopia's Gibe III Dam and Voices from Lake Turkana

International Rivers published in January 2015 a report titled "'Come and Count Our Bones': Community Voices from Lake Turkana on the Impacts of Gibe II Dam" by Narissa Allibhai.  The report provides the reactions of the Turkana and Marsabit people who live around Lake Turkana in Kenya to the construction of the Gibe III Dam on the Omo River in Ethiopia, which feeds Lake Turkana.

Intimate Partner Violence and HIV in Africa

The Lancet Global Health published in January 2015 a detailed study titled "Intimate Partner Violence and HIV in Ten Sub-Saharan African Countries: What Do the Demographic and Health Surveys Tell US?" by Dick Durevall and Annika Lindskog. 

The study looks at Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Rwanda, Mali, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.  The authors' findings indicate that male controlling behavior in its own right, or as an indicator of ongoing or severe violence, puts women at risk of HIV infection.  They recommend that HIV prevention interventions focus on high prevalence areas and men with controlling behavior, in addition to violence.