Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Somalia: Food Security, Remittances, and Counterterrorism

The Africa Research Institute published on 21 July 2014 a summary of a discussion on threats to Somali food security, remittances, and counterterrorism.  The participants were Degan Ali, executive director of Adeso, Sara Pantuliano, director, Humanitarian Policy Group at ODI, and Abdirashid Duale, CEO of Dahabshiil. 

Concerning food security, the participants said Somalia is on the brink of another famine.  They said there is a direct relationship between remittances and food security in Somalia.  An estimated $1.3 billion is remitted to Somalia from the diaspora each year.  They argued that counterterrorism legislation in the West has severely hampered relief efforts in Somalia and threatened remittance flows.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Somalia Institutes Maritime Proceeding Against Kenya

Somalia on 28 August 2014 instituted proceedings against Kenya before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) with regard to a dispute concerning maritime delimitation in the Indian Ocean.  The ICJ press release states that Somalia contends the two countries disagree about the location of the maritime boundary in the area where their maritime entitlements overlap.  Somalia asked the ICJ to determine, on the basis of international law, the complete course of the maritime boundary dividing all the maritime areas pertaining to Somalia and Kenya in the Indian Ocean.  Somalia's 17-page application with sketch maps is available on the ICJ website.

Driving this application is Kenya's designation of oil blocks in Indian Ocean waters claimed by Somalia.  It is a credit to Somalia that, in spite of its many problems, it has the capacity to submit a professionally done claim to the ICJ.  The situation is complicated by the fact that Kenyan troops remain in the Lower Juba as part of AMISOM. 

Kenya, Corruption, and Counterterrorism

Good Governance Africa published on 1 September 2014 an article titled "Blowing the Whistle" by Jessica Hatcher.  It is based on a discussion with John Githongo, Kenya's former anti-corruption czar who has established a non-governmental organization that advocates for good governance in Kenya.  Githongo argues that Kenya's inability to protect itself from terrorism is directly related to corruption. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Somali-American Does Internship in Mogadishu

Saida Hassan is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota Education Department.  A Somali by birth, she grew up in Minneapolis.  In August 2014, she wrote about her internship this summer with The Heritage Institute for Policy Studies in Mogadishu.  Read the brief account of her experience in Mogadishu for a more positive view of developments in Somalia than one normally sees in the press coverage.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

Somalia: Lessons Learned from the 2011 Famine

The Feinstein International Center at Tufts University published in August 2014 a report titled "Another Humanitarian Crisis in Somalia? Learning from the 2011 Famine" by Daniel Maxwell and Nisar Majid. 

Early warning agencies suggest the number of people in crisis in Somalia is likely to reach 1 million before the end of 2014.  Drawing on the lessons of the 2011-2012 famine, the paper highlights the causes of the famine, early warning and response, divisions within the humanitarian community, and the on-going role of al-Shabaab.  It offers four policy recommendations.

China's Engagement in Global Health

The Lancet, a medical journal that began in London in 1823, published on 30 August 2014 an informative article titled "China's Distinctive Engagement in Global Health" by Peilong Liu, Department of Global Health, and a number of other experts.  You can register for free to access the entire 10-page article.  The 30 August issue is devoted to health and medical issues concerning China.

The authors note that China has made rapid progress in four key areas of global health.  China's health aid deploys medical teams, constructs facilities, donates drugs and equipment, trains personnel, and supports malaria control mainly in Africa and Asia.  China's approach to global health is distinctive and based on its unique history, comparative strength, and policies driven by several governmental ministries. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

China-South Africa Relationship

The South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) published in August 2014 a monograph titled "South Africa and China: The Making of a Partnership" by Chris Alden, London School of Economics, and Yu-Shan Wu, a researcher at SAIIA.

The paper concludes that China and South Africa share a similar global vision and are working towards closer strategic cooperation that takes account of the structure of bilateral economic ties, domestic diversity, and overlapping interests.  The two countries have differences that continue to shape ties and distinguish them from China's relations with other African countries.  South Africa has a vibrant civil society and China is seen as a key competitor in sectors South Africa views as strategic.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Reflections on US-Africa Summit

The Wilson Center in Washington published in August 2014 an analysis titled "Reflections on the Summit: Wither US-Africa Relations?" by Monde Muyangwa, director of the Africa Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.  The author concludes that the summit had a positive outcome but added it needs to be institutionalized in order to sustain the US commitment to Africa. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Al-Shabab: A Close Look at East Africa's Deadliest Radicals

World Politics Review published on 19 August 2014 a good analysis titled "Al-Shabab: A Close Look at East Africa's Deadliest Radicals" by Peter Dorrie, a freelance journalist.  

Dorrie concludes that al-Shabaab has emerged from an existential crisis and looks stronger than it has in years.  He describes al-Shabaab as the only faction in Somalia's political landscape with a clear and, for the most part, consistent political agenda. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Western Union in Somaliland

Foreign Policy magazine published on 25 August 2014 a long article titled "Franchise Opportunity: Western Union in Somaliland" by Michela Wrong who has written several books dealing with Africa.

The author looks at the money transfer business and the impact on Somaliland and the Horn of Africa if Barclays gets out of the business. 

Sudan Studies Association Bulletin

The Sudan Studies Association has just issued its summer 2014 Bulletin.  It contains the following articles:

--Individual Memory Discourses and National Memory Politics in the Two Sudans after the Secession of South Sudan by Margret Otto.

--Sudan: A Cartographic History, Part III, by Richard Lobban, Jr.

--Humanitarian Aid in Sudan: For Better or for Worse? by Soledad Herrero.  

--A Summary of Jok Madut Jok's Lecture by Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban.

--Private Security and Governance in Weak States: New and Old Cases by Marco Boggero.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Failure of Leadership in South Sudan

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and others wrote in Foreign Policy on 21 August 2014 that pending disaster in South Sudan is due to "an abject failure of leadership."  The commentary, titled "How to Prevent Total Disaster in South Sudan," noted that nearly half of South Sudan's people are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance.  But both the government and the opposition have consistently blocked the movement of lifesaving humanitarian assistance, preventing aid groups from reaching the most vulnerable people by road or river. 

Uganda Approves Controversial HIV/AIDS Law

The Inter Press Service published on 21 August 2014 an article titled "No Hope for AIDS-Free Generation in Uganda as Controversial HIV Bill Is Signed into Law" by Amy Fallon.  Uganda, which was an original success story in combating HIV/AIDS, has according to recent statistics fallen behind somewhat.  Uganda's parliament unanimously passed this week controversial HIV/AIDS legislation with some provisions that HIV/AIDS activists argue will set back the fight against the disease. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Energy Investments in Africa by the U.S., Europe and China

The International Association for Energy Economics published an analysis titled "Energy Investments in Africa by the U.S., Europe and China" by Giorgio Gualberti, University of Lisbon;  Morgan Bazilian, Columbia University; and Todd Moss, Center for Global Development.  AidData Beta published on 20 August 2014 an excerpt from the article

The original article concludes that the major challenge for African policymakers is to manage these giant players in a way that maximizes the flows--and ultimately boosts the generation and distribution of energy to reach the millions of Africans currently living without. 

Land Injustice and Ethnic Violence in Kenya

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Kenya published on 20 August 2014 a brief commentary titled "The Role of Land Issues in Kenya's Rising Insecurity" by Sebastian Gatimu, a researcher at ISS.  He notes that 50 percent of the arable land in Kenya is in the hands of 20 percent of the population.  There are numerous ongoing land disputes.  He argues that the best strategy is to address the land question comprehensively in Kenya. 

US versus China in Africa

The National Interest published on 17 August 2014 a commentary titled "Five Reasons Why the United States Can't Beat China in Africa" by Zachary Keck, managing editor of The Diplomat.

Unfortunately, the title of the article misses the point.  The United States is not trying to "beat" China in Africa.  There are areas of competition such as competing for contracts just as there is US competition with companies from the UK, France, and Germany.  In the final paragraph of the article, the author writes: "In sum, the U.S.-Africa Leaders summit notwithstanding, the United States cannot compete with China in Africa."  Even if you accept the premise of the article, it is silly to suggest that the United States cannot even "compete" with China.  Fortunately, the author goes on to say that the United States does not have to compete with China as the two countries' interests are not zero sum.  This should be the real point of the article. 

Going back to my problem with the title in the event you are inclined to agree that the United States must "beat" China in Africa, the data to support this case are cherry-picked.  The argument depends heavily on China's growing and America's declining trade with Africa and the fact that China has more high level visits to Africa.  These points are valid.  But there is no mention of the fact that US aid to Africa in recent years has been running at about $8 billion annually versus an estimated $2.5 billion from China.  Cumulative US investment is still larger than cumulative Chinese investment in Africa.  And whether you agree with the policies or not, the United States has a deeper security relationship with most African countries.  China has far more peacekeepers assigned to UN missions in Africa, but Washington pays about 28 percent of UN peacekeeping operations while Beijing pays only 6 percent. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Illegal Wildlife Trade in Africa

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has just published a highly technical analysis titled "Illegal Killing for Ivory Drives Global Decline in African Elephants" by George Wittemyer and a number of other authors.  Based on a study of illegal wildlife trade in Samburu, Kenya, the study concludes that the problem increased markedly after 2008 and was correlated strongly with the local black market ivory price and increased seizures of ivory destined for China. 

Foreign Policy magazine summarized the study in an article dated 20 August 2014 titled "These Two Charts Show How China is Helping Decimate Africa's Elephants" by Elias Groll. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

US and China Viewed Favorably in Sub-Saharn Africa

The Pew Research Center published a brief analysis on 4 August 2014 titled "U.S., China Compete to Woo Africa" by Katie Simmons, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Global Attitudes Center.  Drawing on data from Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Senegal, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda, the US and China are both viewed favorably.  The US actually does slightly better than China overall in these 7 countries.  The data also show that in 5 of the 7 countries, there is a declining belief that China's growing economy helps Africa. 

Cost of Stalemate in South Sudan Peace Process

The Juba-based Sudd Institute published on 12 August 2014 an analysis titled "South Sudan's Crisis: Weighing the Cost of the Stalemate in the Peace Process" by Jok Madut Jok.  He emphasized that the stalemate in the peace process has become costly and that the process lacks genuine intent to end the carnage as the warring parties appear fixated on political and military gains.

A "quick fix" peace agreement is not the answer.  Any peace agreement that does not commit the warring parties to programs of institutional reforms, justice and accountability, national dialogue, healing and reconciliation programs, security sector enhancements, stricter oversight of financial institutions, the constitution and democratic processes, would be the same as continuing the war.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Countering Extremism in Africa

The New York Times published on 15 August 2014 an important op-ed titled "Handmaiden to Africa's Generals" by Alex de Waal, director of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University, and Abdul Mohammed, chairman of the InterAfrica Group in Ethiopia.  They focus especially on US policy and the situation in South Sudan and Nigeria.

I have a high regard for both authors.  They make a critically important point that the policy response to extremism and terrorism in Africa needs to focus more on addressing the root causes of the problem rather than military support for Africa's strong men.  Where I think the op-ed tends to veer off track is the implication that somehow Washington is responsible for significant fraud or the improper allocation of resources by certain African governments, even in countries where the United States provides little or no military assistance. 


Thursday, August 14, 2014

South Sudan Heads towards Famine Amid Descent into Lawlessness

Inter Press Service published on 14 August 2014 an article titled "South Sudan Heads towards Famine Amid Descent into Lawlessness."  It offers a dismal prediction on the likely success of peace talks, commenting that tribal divisions are driving the conflict.  

Russia and Africa: New Engagement?

Pambazuka News published on 13 August 2014 a piece titled "Russia's Investment in Africa: New Challenges and Prospects" by Kester Kenn Klomegah, a frequent writer on Russia-Africa relations.  He notes that Russia's presence in Africa remains marginal but suggests this could soon change based on the number of African delegations that visited Russia in the first half of 2014.  One wonders, however, if Russia will not be preoccupied with the crisis in the Ukraine in the months ahead.

Reforming the Sudan People's Liberation Movement

The Institute for Security Studies published in August 2014 an analysis titled "Reforming the SPLM: A Requisite for Peace and Nation Building" by Paula Cristina Roque, a specialist on South Sudan and Angola.

The author concludes that transforming the SPLM entails ensuring that politics become demilitarized; party structures reach the grassroots; and decision-making rules and leadership succession processes are established.  The SPLM must neutralize the military legacy of being structured according to Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) seniority, demobilize private militias, and allow the SPLA to become a professional, depoliticized national army.  It also requires more political consultation.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

China-Zambia Economic Relations

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) just published a study titled "The Developmental Implications of Sino-African Economic and Political Relations: A Preliminary Assessment for the Case of Zambia" by George Schoneveld, Laura German, and Davison Gumbo. 

The study concludes that China's investments have made a valuable contribution to Zambia's struggling economic recovery.  It did identify concerns over conflicts between Chinese companies and their employees and Chinese environmental practices in remote parts of the country. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Border Problems in East Africa and the Horn

Foreign Policy Magazine published on 6 August 2014 an article titled "Why East Africa's Borders Are Blowing Up" by Daniel Branch and Jason Mosley.  The article links a series of local incidents and concludes that they are shaping the region's future.