Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts

29 January 2020

Africa Is a Continent on the Brink ... but of What?


It makes sense that a continent home to 54 countries and 1.2 billion people would also house a mass of contradictory developments. Africa features several of the world’s fastest-growing economies and a burgeoning middle class. But much of the continent remains mired in debt, ravaged by conflict, disease or terrorism, and plagued by elites clinging to power.

Even as economies expand, people are driven to migrate—either within Africa or across continental borders—because of humanitarian catastrophes or because opportunities are not coming fast enough for everyone. Yet, many remain behind and look to disrupt the status quo. Civilian-led reform movements toppled regimes in Algeria and Sudan last year.

From a geopolitical perspective, European nations and the United States are looking to shore up bilateral trade across the continent. These moves are driven both by an interest in spurring individual economies to help stem migration flows, but also to counter China’s growing presence in Africa. On the back of its Belt and Road Initiative, China has been leveraging infrastructure financing deals for access to resources and increasing influence.

23 January 2020

Unpacking the engagement of nontraditional actors in Africa: China and other emerging players

Yun Sun

Below is a Viewpoint from Chapter 6 of the Foresight Africa 2020 report, which explores six overarching themes that provide opportunities for Africa to overcome its obstacles and spur inclusive growth. Read the full chapter on bolstering Africa’s role in the global economy.

While China, Europe, and the United States have been intensifying their competition in Africa over the last decade, the next decade is likely to see other players making more prominent moves. Among them, India, Russia, and major actors in the Middle East are already shifting resources and attention to the promising continent.

CHINESE FINANCING BEGINS TO SHOW DOWNSIDES

China’s comparative advantage has laid in the large financial resources at its government’s disposal and its state-backed economic engagement model. Although Beijing has indicated a desire to increase private equity investment in Africa, it is unlikely to abandon its overall priority on infrastructure development financed by Chinese loans. But as the frenzy over the large Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure projects in Africa subsides with the existing projects’ loan payments due, African governments have to deal with the sobering financial consequences of projects such as the Addis-Djibouti railway and the Mombasa-Nairobi railway.

22 January 2020

What to Watch in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2020


2020 will be another pivotal year for sub-Saharan Africa. The region will hold presidential or general elections in as many as 11 countries. It will be a make-or-break moment for key transitions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and Sudan. Conflicts will fester in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Mozambique, Nigeria, the Sahel, Somalia, and South Sudan. The region’s governments, opposition, and private sector will continue to leverage claims of “great power competition” to exact economic concessions, silence external criticism, and challenge contradictions in U.S. policy toward sub-Saharan Africa.

To preview some of the top stories in 2020, the CSIS Africa Program presents its annual list of key countries and issues to watch this year. (Read last year’s forecasts.)

1. Publics Oppose Third Term Extensions in Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire (Jon Temin)

Popular resistance to efforts by Guinean president Alpha Condé and Ivoirian president Alassane Ouattara to extend their terms in office will grow. In both countries, there is considerable public hostility to the idea of third terms. According to Afrobarometer polling, 86 percent of citizens support a two-term limit in Cote d’Ivoire and 84 percent in Guinea—two of the highest figures on the continent. This support for leadership rotation will probably spur protestors to continue to mount rallies in Guinea, where Condé has already unveiled his plan to revise its constitution. Similarly, it could unite a divided opposition in Cote d’Ivoire if Ouattara follows through on his vow to enter the race if his longstanding political rivals run for the presidency. West Africa has long performed relatively well in democratic governance, with leaders showing a commitment to term limits, exemplified by Nigerien president Mahamadou Issoufou and Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari’s recent pledges to step down in 2021 and 2023, respectively. As democracy activists in Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire hit the streets to block third terms bids, they will appeal to the region and broader international community for support.

The future is intelligent: Harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence in Africa

Youssef Travaly and Kevin Muvunyi

Below is a Viewpoint from Chapter 5 of the Foresight Africa 2020 report, which explores six overarching themes that provide opportunities for Africa to overcome its obstacles and spur inclusive growth. Read the full chapter on capturing the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The future is intelligent: By 2030, artificial intelligence (AI) will add $15.7 trillion to the global GDP, with $6.6 trillion projected to be from increased productivity and $9.1 trillion from consumption effects. Furthermore, augmentation, which allows people and AI to work together to enhance performance, “will create $2.9 trillion of business value and 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity globally.” In a world that is increasingly characterized by enhanced connectivity and where data is as pervasive as it is valuable, Africa has a unique opportunity to leverage new digital technologies to drive large-scale transformation and competitiveness. Africa cannot and should not be left behind.

There are 10 key enabling technologies that will drive Africa’s digital economy, including cybersecurity, cloud computing, big data analytics, blockchain, the Internet of Things, 3D printing, biotechnology, robotics, energy storage, and AI. AI in particular presents countless avenues for both the public and private sectors to optimize solutions to the most crucial problems facing the continent today, especially for struggling industries. For example, in health care, AI solutions can help scarce personnel and facilities do more with less by speeding initial processing, triage, diagnosis, and post-care follow up. Furthermore, AI-based pharmacogenomics applications, which focus on the likely response of an individual to therapeutic drugs based on certain genetic markers, can be used to tailor treatments. Considering the genetic diversity found on the African continent, it is highly likely that the application of these technologies in Africa will result in considerable advancement in medical treatment on a global level.

20 January 2020

Foresight Africa: Top priorities for the continent 2020-2030


The new year 2020 marks the beginning of a promising decade for Africa. Through at least the first half of the decade, economic growth across Africa will continue to outperform that of other regions, with the continent continuing to be home to seven of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies. Collective action among African and global policymakers to improve the livelihoods of all under the blueprint of the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 is representative of the shared energy and excitement around Africa’s potential. With business environments improving, regional integration centered around the African Continental Free Trade Agreement progressing, and the transformational technologies of Fourth Industrial Revolution spreading, never before has the region been better primed for trade, investment, and mutually beneficial partnerships. The recent, unprecedented interest of an increasingly diversified group of external partners for engagement with Africa highlights this potential. Despite the continent’s promise, though, obstacles to success linger, as job creation still has not caught up with the growing youth labor force, gaps in good and inclusive governance remain, and climate change as well as state fragility threaten to reverse the hard-fought-for gains of recent decades.

This special edition of Foresight Africa highlights the triumphs of past years as well as strategies from our experts to tackle forthcoming, but surmountable, obstacles to a prosperous continent by 2030.

18 January 2020

Africa File


Notice: The Critical Threats Project frequently cites sources from foreign domains. All such links are identified with an asterisk (*) for the reader's awareness.

The Salafi-jihadi movement is strengthening across several regions of Africa and will grow more dangerous in 2020 if current trends continue. This comes as the US seeks to limit its presence on the continent and shift its focus toward great-power competition with China and Russia—even though this competition is playing out in Africa. US resources are also focused on managing extremely high tensions with Iran. These dynamics place the US and its allies at risk of strategic surprise from the growing African Salafi-jihadi threat, particularly if intelligence, military, and diplomatic assets decrease.

Americans have a false sense of security that the African Salafi-jihadi threat is local. Local Salafi-jihadi groups underpin the global movement. Their sanctuaries in remote areas and in failed or failing states allow them to train, experiment, and prepare to take their capabilities onto the global stage.

15 January 2020

What to Watch in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2020


2020 will be another pivotal year for sub-Saharan Africa. The region will hold presidential or general elections in as many as 11 countries. It will be a make-or-break moment for key transitions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and Sudan. Conflicts will fester in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Mozambique, Nigeria, the Sahel, Somalia, and South Sudan. The region’s governments, opposition, and private sector will continue to leverage claims of “great power competition” to exact economic concessions, silence external criticism, and challenge contradictions in U.S. policy toward sub-Saharan Africa.

To preview some of the top stories in 2020, the CSIS Africa Program presents its annual list of key countries and issues to watch this year. (Read last year’s forecasts.)

1. Publics Oppose Third Terms Extensions in Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire (Jon Temin)

Popular resistance to efforts by Guinean president Alpha Condé and Ivoirian president Alassane Ouattara to extend their terms in office will grow. In both countries, there is considerable public hostility to the idea of third terms. According to Afrobarometer polling, 86 percent of citizens support a two-term limit in Cote d’Ivoire and 84 percent in Guinea—two of the highest figures on the continent. This support for leadership rotation will probably spur protestors to continue to mount rallies in Guinea, where Condé has already unveiled his plan to revise its constitution. Similarly, it could unite a divided opposition in Cote d’Ivoire if Ouattara follows through on his vow to enter the race if his longstanding political rivals run for the presidency. West Africa has long performed relatively well in democratic governance, with leaders showing a commitment to term limits, exemplified by Nigerien president Mahamadou Issoufou and Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari’s recent pledges to step down in 2021 and 2023, respectively. As democracy activists in Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire hit the streets to block third terms bids, they will appeal to the region and broader international community for support.

9 January 2020

Corruption Is Corroding Democracies Around the World


Corruption knows no geographic boundaries, and its impact is devastating, particularly for developing countries. While recent revelations of massive corruption have made the issue a high priority for voters, the obstacles to effectively tackling corruption can prove to be persistent. That, in turn, can lead to popular disenchantment with leaders and democratic processes. Learn more when you subscribe to World Politics Review (WPR).

The world is constantly reminded that corruption knows no geographic boundaries. In South Africa, former President Jacob Zuma is embroiled in an inquiry into whether he ran a patronage system that drained money from the country’s treasury. A money laundering investigation launched in Brazil in 2008 expanded to take down a vast network of politicians and business leaders across Central and South America. And U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has been plagued by officials who have used their offices for private gain and been forced to resign.

The impact of actual corruption is devastating, whether it siphons money from public use or drives policy that is not in the public interest. The effects can be particularly pernicious in developing countries, where budgets are tight and needs are vast. The United Nations estimates that corruption costs $2.6 trillion in losses every year.

6 January 2020

2019 Was A Decade Of Defiance And Dissent: The 2020s Are Likely To Be No Different – Analysis

By James M. Dorsey
Source Link

Like 2019, the new year and perhaps the new decade is likely to be pockmarked by popular protest, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa.

The question is what the protests that last year toppled the leaders of Sudan, Algeria, Lebanon and Iraq but only led to a genuine transition process in Sudan will produce.

The protests’ outcome so far suggests that there may not be a clear-cut answer.

What is clear is that protesters have learnt not to surrender the street when a leader agrees to resign but to maintain the pressure until a process of transition to a more transparent, accountable and open political system has been agreed.

Protesters in Algeria, Lebanon and Iraq, demanding appointment of a leader untainted by association with the old regime, have stood their ground as governments and vested interests have sought to salvage what they can by attempting to replace one leader by another with close ties to ruling elites.

26 December 2019

A New Approach for the UN to Stabilise the DR Congo


The Security Council has an opening to rethink its approach to DR Congo with this month’s mandate renewal of the UN peacekeeping mission. The council should prioritise local conflict resolution and bolstering President Tshisekedi’s efforts to improve regional relations to combat over 100 armed groups ravaging the east.

What’s new? The Security Council is seeking new ways to stabilise the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with an eye to drawing down the long-running UN peace operation there. In parallel, Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi wants to strike a new security agreement with neighbouring countries to suppress armed groups in the country’s east.

Why does it matter? The persistence of over 100 armed groups in the eastern DRC is a threat to both Congolese civilians and regional stability. The country’s neighbours have also often used these militias as proxies to attack one another and control economic resources.

What should be done? The Security Council should strengthen the UN mission’s capacity to analyse the armed groups’ political links and resolve local grievances these groups can exploit. The UN should support President Tshisekedi’s regional diplomacy, with an emphasis on political reconciliation and economic integration among the DRC’s neighbours as steps to increase security.

20 December 2019

Tech Giants Are Engaged in a New Scramble for Africa

Howard W. French 

By his own account, Jack Ma, the founder of the hugely successful Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, only visited Africa for the first time in 2017, when he went to Kenya and Rwanda. And yet there he was earlier this month in the Opinion pages of The New York Times, full of supposed wisdom about how the continent can leap into the future by cultivating his own brand of entrepreneurialism. “If we all work together to support entrepreneurs,” Ma gushed, “then Africa will become a hub of innovation and growth, the global leader we know it can be.”

It is worth noting that after founding Alibaba in 1999, Ma became one of the world’s richest people not only as an innovator, but also, perhaps even primarily, as an astute adopter of trends set in motion by others. Early Alibaba, after all, essentially copied elements of the business models of eBay and PayPal. .

16 December 2019

China in Africa’s Peace and Security Landscape

By Abdou Rahim Lema

With growing Chinese security engagements in Africa, Sino-African relations are at a critical juncture. This is not necessarily because of the ignited international attention on what China does in Africa, but rather because of the nature of — and scintillating mutuality in — the expanding China-Africa relationships. For instance, recently China has shown unprecedented willingness and (to some extent) readiness to put its shoulder to the wheel in Africa’s efforts to deal with cycles of insecurity and instability. Likewise, aiming for an “integrated, prosperous, and peaceful [Africa],” the continent — under the aegis of the African Union (AU) — has been striving to develop better strategies in working with external partners to achieve peace and stability. It is in that regard that peace and security have increasingly gained prominence in China-Africa engagements, ranging from growing multilateral cooperation on security challenges facing Africa to nascent (sub)regional initiatives to long-held bilateral partnerships with many African countries.

11 December 2019

Thank Lisbon for Macao’s Peacefulness

BY RICARDO BARRIOS 

The Macao Special Administrative Region turns 20 this year, and no one wants to celebrate it more than Beijing. As protests enter their seventh month in neighboring Hong Kong, China’s central government is increasingly turning to the Portuguese colony-turned-gambling haven as proof that its governing principle for the two cities—known as “one country, two systems”—is “entirely viable, doable, and able to win the heart” of local populations. That’s particularly important since the success of the system is also critical for winning over Taiwan—where the prospects of Beijing-favored electoral candidates in January’s elections are sinking fast.

But the only reason Macao looks like a viable model is the unique circumstances of its past. To be sure, Macao’s colonial history is just one factor in the territory’s relative quietude. As many scholars point out, demographics are a factor. Macao’s population is less than one-tenth that of Hong Kong, making it that much more susceptible to economic and sociopolitical forces such as investment and migration.

7 December 2019

The Cross Pollination of East Africa’s Armed Groups

By: Brian M. Perkins

East Africa and its peripheral countries, particularly the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), are experiencing an evolution of their security landscapes as jihadist ideologies continue to creep into domestic conflicts. On the surface, many of the domestic conflicts and armed groups in individual East African nations are locally concentrated and driven by local issues, with violent spillover mostly concentrated in small portions of bordering countries—al-Shabaab violence spilling from Somalia into Kenya, or the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) operating in DRC and neighboring Uganda. A closer look, however, shows an increasing level of cross pollination in ideology, tactics, and financing stemming from high levels of mobility across the region as a whole, and not just between neighboring countries.

Across East Africa and its periphery, Somalia, Kenya, and Tanzania have historically been the most affected by jihadist violence, with Kenya and Tanzania experiencing deadly attacks by al-Qaeda in the late 1990s and early 2000s and Somalia being host to al-Shabaab, a longtime al-Qaeda affiliate, and more recently an Islamic State (IS) branch. Mozambique, Uganda, and DRC, meanwhile, have historically struggled less with overt jihadist groups and more with anti-government rebel factions such as the ADF or FRELIMO. Over the past year, jihadist ideologies have taken root at a more alarming rate as IS expanded its presence into DRC and Mozambique through one of its newer branches, Islamic State Central Africa Province (IS-CAP) (See TM, November 6). While the pace and international focus on growing jihadist sentiment in East Africa has increased in the past year, groups that had once primarily been anti-government rebels have increasingly been exposed to the region’s jihadist-leaning groups. These groups have particularly made contact through highly lucrative smuggling and money laundering networks, as well as through loosely connected radical mosques that are exporting militants across the region.

Attacks in Northern Kenya Highlight al-Shabaab’s Enduring Ambition

By: Sunguta West

Deadly al-Shabaab attacks targeting security forces, civilians, and government installations in northeastern Kenya have continued to unfold despite security forces’ intensified actions to counter the militant group’s activities in the region.

Since 2011, when the Kenyan Defence Forces entered Somalia—the base of the al-Qaeda affiliate in East Africa—hundreds of small-scale terror assaults have been recorded.

In most of the attacks, the militants have used improvized explosive devices (IEDs) planted on roads to strike the military and police convoys on patrol. The consequence has been deadly with dozens of soldiers and police officers losing their lives. Civilians have also borne the brunt of terrorist attacks. The attacks have forced some of the region’s professionals, including teachers, nurses, public administrators, and construction workers to flee (Business Daily Africa , October 10, 2018).

The continued attacks are lending credence to suspicions that the militant group has existing cells in the region which it is using to radicalize and recruit Kenyan youths. In June, the group said it had recruited an army of fighters in Kenya. The mass recruitment strategy fits well with the latest attacks inside Kenya, including the DusitD2 office attack in January. Ali Salim Gichuge, the lead attacker on DusitD2, was an ordinary Kenyan youth who was born and raised in non-Muslim regions (Daily Nation, November 15).

30 November 2019

Sending Refugees Back Makes the World More Dangerous

By Stephanie Schwartz

The oft-repeated refrain that the world is witnessing an unprecedented refugee crisis is both misleading and dangerous. While the number of refugees worldwide has nearly doubled in the past decade, if there is a crisis today, it is one of refugee return. Despite the fact that non-refoulement—the prohibition against sending asylum-seekers back to a country where their life or liberty is endangered—is considered one of the strongest norms in international law, governments across the world are going to great lengths to send refugees back. Some, such as the United States, are blatantly flouting non-refoulement with plans to send Central American asylum-seekers directly back into the violence they are fleeing.

One of the primary goals of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s invasion of Syria in October was to capture territory where he could then send the millions of Syrians currently seeking refuge on Turkish soil. Other countries, such as Germany and Lebanon, have taken more subtle approaches, offering payments to refugees who opt to go back to Syria, or simply making life for refugees so miserable that many feel they have no alternative but to return.

27 November 2019

Bolivia After Morales

By Santiago Anria and Kenneth M. Roberts 

In the days since Evo Morales stepped down as president of Bolivia and fled to Mexico, two starkly divergent accounts of his downfall have emerged among observers around the world. In one, Morales is the victim of a brazen right-wing coup, the latest in a long line of progressive Latin American leaders toppled by reactionary forces. In another, Morales had turned increasingly autocratic, clinging to power with little regard for checks and balances, and his ouster was a rare victory for democracy and the rule of law at a time when authoritarianism is on the upswing.

Neither narrative captures the whole story, yet both contain a kernel of truth. Morales and his allies all too often used their popularity as license to concentrate political power and marginalize opponents, and in so doing laid the groundwork for his ultimate downfall. Yet in his nearly 14 years in power, Morales also oversaw social and economic reforms that vastly reduced inequality and gave countless Bolivians a new voice and influence over how the country was run—a remarkable legacy of social transformation that any future government should work to preserve.

26 November 2019

River of the Dammed


In October, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in starting peace negotiations with Eritrea. But his country is still in the middle of another major dispute that threatens regional stability. This one is over the waters of the Nile River, specifically, Ethiopia’s plans to build the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the river’s Blue Nile tributary. Egypt considers the dam to be a looming threat to its very survival. Ethiopia, on the other hand, sees the undertaking as essential for its development and has vowed to continue the project no matter the ramifications.

Ethiopia and Egypt are two of Africa’s most populous and powerful countries; any ongoing showdown between them is a major threat to peace, which is why the international community should press for an equitable settlement.

Both countries have expressed their preference for a negotiated long-term settlement for the dispute, but the road there has not been smooth. A round of negotiations in early October—following many others over the last few years—failed to reach a compromise. Egypt accuses Ethiopia of dismissing concerns its officials have raised about the threat to its water security. Ethiopia insists that pending issues will be resolved before the completion of the dam.

20 November 2019

What does Russia really want from Africa?

Jideofor Adibe

Last month’s Russia-Africa summit—the first of its kind—ended with the usual optics and photo-ops, but also spawned $12.5 billion in business deals, largely in arms and grains. Beyond the splashy show of unity and camaraderie, the summit also raised a number of questions—namely, what does Russia really want from Africa? How will Africa’s traditional allies, especially the United States, respond to Russia’s newfound love for the continent? And, does Russia have what it takes to compete with China in Africa?

It will be simplistic to frame the just-concluded Russia-Africa summit as a copy-cat jamboree organized by Russia to latch on the bandwagon of the increasingly fashionable trend of organizing and institutionalizing Africa summits by countries like China, India, Japan, France, and the United States. The truth is that, since the 2000s, there has been a noticeable re-awakening of Russia’s interest in Africa. Indeed, between 2005 and 2015, Africa’s trade with Russia grew by 185 percent, and Russia has several reasons to engage Africa more intensely.

Goal 1: Projecting power on the global stage

In supporting African countries—who, notably, constitute the largest voting bloc in the United Nations—Russia is cultivating allies in its challenge to the current United States and Euro-Atlantic-dominated security order. This strategy is not going unnoticed: Indeed, in 2018 former U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton accused Russia of selling arms to African countries in exchange for votes at the United Nations, among other nefarious motivations.

Reviewing Why America Loses Wars

Adam Wunische

THE POLITICAL LIMITS OF THE MILITARY PIVOT

The national defense and foreign policy establishments in the United States are collectively looking away from Afghanistan and Iraq and towards China and Russia. As such, debates now center around how the military should be organized to deal with near-peer conventional conflict rather than the counterinsurgency conflicts it has been fighting for the better part of two decades. The debate is long overdue. Doctrinal documents and international developments are now beginning to refocus the military’s attention on high-intensity conventional conflict. However, reorganizing the military for new missions is far from sufficient. Reorganizing the military for great power competition and then selecting yet another conflict that requires counterinsurgency and stability operations will leave warfighters unprepared and dangerously exposed, as has happened repeatedly in the 70 years since World War II. Poor political decisions have the potential to undermine any advantageous reorganizing of the military, and a new book by Donald Stoker suggests this is likely to occur yet again.