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

13 August 2018

Water Wars on the Nile

By Daniel Benaim and Michael Wahid Hanna

In Ethiopia, Africa’s largest-ever dam and hydroelectric power plant is inching closer to completion. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile River has the potential to transform Ethiopia’s economy and revolutionize the agricultural sector of its northwestern neighbor Sudan. But further downstream in Egypt, where 95 percent of the population live on the Nile’s shores or along its delta, many object to the dam, which they see as a fundamental threat to their way of life. As Ethiopia prepares to operationalize the dam and divert Nile waters to fill its massive reservoir, the international dispute over the river has reached a make-or-break moment. In the coming year, Egypt and Ethiopia will either set their differences aside and forge a cooperative path forward together—an outcome that is technically feasible but politically fraught—or face a diplomatic downward spiral. 

11 August 2018

Somalia Is a Country Without an Army


MOGADISHU, Somalia—Last week, the U.N. Security Council unanimously agreed to extend the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) mandate in the country until May 2019. The security situation has been getting worse by the day. On Sunday, two car bombs killed at least six people; one detonated in the capital, Mogadishu, and the other in a nearby town. A few days before, a popular young entrepreneur was murdered, sparking protests demanding accountability and better security.AMISOM first deployed to Somalia in 2007 with a six-month authorization to counter al-Shabab, a militant anti-government group. Although initially a marginal peacekeeping force of privately trained Ugandan soldiers, AMISOM has since expanded in size and in scope of mandate, and is now comprised of an estimated 22,000 troops from Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, and Sierra Leone. Unlike typical peace-support missions, AMISOM has taken the lead role in the counterinsurgency campaign, filling in as a de facto army until the Somali National Army (SNA) is strong enough to counter the jihadi group on its own.

4 August 2018

China in Africa: win-win development, or a new colonialism?

Nick Van Mead 

As their hand-built wooden dhow approaches the shore, Ibrahim Chamume and his fellow fishermen take in the sail and prepare to sell their catch to the small huddle of villagers waiting on the white sand. He has been making a living like this on the Indian Ocean since he was 14. His father was a fisherman, too. Now in his 30s, Ibrahim says earning enough from traditional fishing is tough, but has its compensations. There is the view across the tranquil lagoon to the mangrove swamps; the unspoiled beaches and bays; the lush vegetation and smallholdings growing maize, cassava, cashews and mango. Such scenes must have played out in the tiny Tanzanian village of Mlingotini for centuries.

Cities of the New Silk Road: what is China's Belt and Road project? Show

30 July 2018

China and Africa: the Zimbabwe file

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The Chinese link with Zimbabwe’s ruling party, Zanu-PF, goes back to 1963—as does, notably, China’s association with new president Emmerson Mnangagwa. For the first decade and a half, the connection was military, with the Chinese providing training and materiel in the fight against white rule. Mnangagwa was part of the first group of guerrillas sent by Robert Mugabe to a military academy in Nanjing. Yet the cynical and tactically agile Mugabe also ensured that independence in 1980 did not bring with it much reward for the Chinese. Speaking privately to a colleague (who happened to be a spy of apartheid South Africa), Mugabe described a celebratory state visit to China and North Korea as ‘a lot of bull’. It had been a necessary obligation, but the offer of aid by these allies was, in his view, just an attempt to establish a fifth column in Zimbabwe—a posse of ‘Marxists who will start a process of undermining’. If the relationship could be described as manipulative during the early years, it was Mugabe pulling the strings.

29 July 2018

With Senegal deals, China’s Belt and Road reaches across Africa

Following a swing through the United Arab Emirates, where he signed more than a dozen deals to strengthen cooperation, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Africa tour is already making headlines. On Sunday, Xi began his two-day visit to the West African nation of Senegal with a milestone for his flagship Belt and Road Initiative. The ambitious web of infrastructure and economic development investments, which aims to deepen connectivity between East, Southeast and Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe, now for the first time officially stretches to the Atlantic Ocean on the continent of Africa. “Noting that the two countries should strengthen the alignment of development strategies and policy communication, Xi welcomed Senegal to be the first West African country to sign a Belt and Road cooperation document with China,” Chinese state media reported.

Africa: China's Xi Jinping Strikes Deals With Rwanda During Four-Nation African Tour

Chinese President Xi Jinping has inked more than a dozen deals with Rwanda as his "economic partnership with African countries" continues. The deals include loans and grants worth millions of dollars. Chinese President Xi Jinping signed 15 bilateral agreements with Rwanda on Monday while visiting the East African country, the second stop on a four-nation tour to cement relations with African allies. The agreements, the value of which was not revealed, focused on visa exemptions, strengthening mutual investment in e-commerce, cooperation in civil air transport, law enforcement partnerships and human resource development. They included loans for construction, hospital renovation and the development of Rwanda's new Bugesera airport.

28 July 2018

China in Africa

by Eleanor Albert

China has become Africa’s largest trade partner and has greatly expanded its economic ties to the continent, but its growing activities there have raised questions about its noninterference policy. 


Over the past few decades, China’s rapid economic growth and expanding middle class have fueled an unprecedented need for resources. The economic powerhouse has focused on securing the long-term energy supplies needed to sustain its industrialization, searching for secure access to oil supplies and other raw materials around the globe. As part of this effort, China has turned to Africa. Through significant investment in a continent known for political and security risks, China has boosted African oil and mining sectors in exchange for advantageous trade deals. Chinese companies are also diversifying their business pursuits in Africa, in infrastructure, manufacturing, telecommunications, and agricultural sectors. However, China’s activity in Africa has faced criticism from Western and African civil society over its controversial business practices, as well as its failure to promote good governance and human rights. Yet a number of African governments appear to be content with China’s policy. At the same time, Beijing’s complex relationship with the continent has challenged its policy of noninterference in the affairs of African governments.

22 June 2018

There’s Been a Global Increase in Armed Groups. Can They Be Restrained?

By Kenneth R. Rosen

Raiding among cattle-herding tribes is a traditional part of life in South Sudan, but in the past five years, the skirmishes have become more violent and unrestrained. Small armed bands that traditionally guarded their communities’ livestock have been drawn into bitter proxy battles between the country’s two largest tribes: the Dinka, who hold power in Juba, the national capital, and the Nuer. No longer limited to raiding each other’s villages and herds, these bands of well-armed tribal fighters have carried out massacres and atrocities, with women and children increasingly among the victims. The violence has worsened in both scale and frequency since 2013, according to South Sudanese who have witnessed the ravages of a civil war that started just two years after their country gained independence from Sudan.

27 May 2018

Russia Is Back In Africa — and Making Some Very Odd Deals


After largely withdrawing from Africa in the wake of the Soviet collapse, Russia is starting to return to the continent in surprising ways. Since December, Moscow has struck major deals in the Central African Republic (CAR) with the government and rebel leaders, raising questions about its intentions in the troubled African nation. In December, Russia asked the U.N. Security Council to let it supply weapons to CAR’s new EU-trained army. After some objections by France, Russia secured an exception to the U.N.arms embargo, and began shipping weapons in January. By year’s end, Russia intends to deliver 5,200 rifles, a variety of other light weapons, and some 170 civilian instructors.

17 May 2018

Boko Haram Beyond the Headlines: Analyses of Africa’s Enduring Insurgency

In a conflict that has no easy answers and no solutions in sight, Boko Haram is already and will remain one of Africa’s enduring insurgencies. In order to better understand Boko Haram now and in the future, this report, edited by Jacob Zenn, challenges some key misconceptions about the insurgency and provides new analyses and insights based on many exclusive primary source materials and datasets. To provide these unique insights, several authors with on-the-ground experience contribute to six areas that are increasingly important but under-researched about Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa:

8 May 2018

This Land Is Our Land

For almost 24 years after the end of apartheid, South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) supported a land reform program that was based on a willing-seller, willing-buyer policy. The policy required the consent of both the seller and buyer for the purchase of the land, with the consequence that sellers, almost exclusively white, would determine which land they wanted to sell. After decades of ignoring criticism of that policy, the ANC’s leadership has changed tack, at least rhetorically. It is now advocating a radical policy of land expropriation without compensation.

1 May 2018

A Shadowy War’s Newest Front: A Drone Base Rising From Saharan Dust


Rising from a barren stretch of African scrubland, a half-finished drone base represents the newest front line in America’s global shadow war. At its center, hundreds of Air Force personnel are feverishly working to complete a $110 million airfield that, when finished in the coming months, will be used to stalk or strike extremists deep into West and North Africa, a region where most Americans have no idea the country is fighting. Near the nascent runway, Army Green Berets are training Nigerien forces to carry out counterterrorism raids or fend off an enemy ambush — like the one that killed four American soldiers near the Mali border last fall. Taken together, these parallel missions reflect a largely undeclared American military buildup outside the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, often with murky authorities and little public attention, unfolding in remote places like Yemen, Somalia and, increasingly, West Africa.

27 April 2018

New USAF African Drone Base Being Constructed Outside Agadez in Niger

Eric Schmitt

Rising from a barren stretch of African scrubland, a half-finished drone base represents the newest front line in America’s global shadow war. At its center, hundreds of Air Force personnel are feverishly working to complete a $110 million airfield that, when finished in the coming months, will be used to stalk or strike extremists deep into West and North Africa, a region where most Americans have no idea the country is fighting. Near the nascent runway, Army Green Berets are training Nigerien forces to carry out counterterrorism raids or fend off an enemy ambush — like the one that killed four American soldiers near the Mali border last fall.

23 April 2018

AFRICALosing The Battle: How China is Outperforming the USA in Sub-Saharan Africa

By Henry Hama

Under what conditions could the United States regain its position of strategic dominance in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) despite increasingly reduced economic support programs as well as a limited-to-no Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grants? With the expansion of China’s economic and military cooperation activities across SSA in the last decade, the United States is increasingly becoming unpopular to much of the region. It is imperative to comprehend that China did not emerge accidentally as a global economic contender. When the United States was engaged in the “Global War Against Terror (GWAT),” following the September 11, 2001 (9/11) terrorist attacks, much of its focus was in Southwest Asia and the Middle East. 

21 April 2018

U.S. politicians get China in Africa all wrong

By Deborah Bräutigam 

Loans from China helped Uganda build a speedy new road to its main airport. But critics say the country is now too deep in debt to Beijing. Deborah Bräutigam is the Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy and director of the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her latest book is Will Africa Feed China? In Washington, Republicans and Democrats generally look at China as a new imperial power in Africa: bad news for Africans. But is this really the case? Just before his visit to Africa last month, former secretary of state Rex Tillerson accused China of using “predatory loan practices,” undermining growth and creating “few if any jobs” on the continent. In Ethiopia, Tillerson charged the Chinese with providing “opaque” project loans that boost debt without providing significant training. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton sang the same tune, warning Africans to beware of this “new colonialism.” China, we are often told, is bringing in all its own workers or “grabbing” African land to grow food to send back to feed China. 

20 April 2018

Can China Realize Africa’s Dream of an East-West Transport Link?

By: Cobus van Staden

African development hinges on a maddening paradox: its greatest asset—the sheer size and diversity of its landscape—is also the greatest barrier to its development. Landlocked countries are cut off from ports, and the difficulty of moving goods from country to country weighs down intra-continental trade (only 15% of African trade is within Africa. (African Development Bank, 2017) African consumers bear the brunt of these difficulties. [1]. Costs are driven up by a host of factors: tariffs, border delays, corruption. But the biggest challenge is that no streamlined transport route exists between West and East Africa – only a decaying and underdeveloped road and rail system which pushes up costs and drags down efficiency.

7 April 2018



China has defended its expanding role in Africa after lawmakers in Washington announced they would open an investigation into Beijing's push for economic and military influence in a number of countries there. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, a GOP representative from California, said on Fox News's Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo that China was "a big problem" and that he and fellow Republican lawmakers were "running an investigation on many aspects of China," including allegations of intellectual property theft, currency manipulation and its "military footprint" in Africa. The following day, the Chinese Foreign Ministry denied charges of malpractice and called for cooperation rather than competition with the U.S.

6 April 2018

The Pentagon’s Secret, Permanent Wars

Two months after the lethal ambush in Niger that killed four American troops in October, U.S. forces were involved in another skirmish in the central African nation with militants linked to the Islamic State. If this story sounds unfamiliar, that’s because it was first reported last week, fully three months after the battle. Pressed for an explanation of the delay at a Defense Department briefing Thursday, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White offered a stunning justification: U.S. “troops are often in harm’s way, and there are tactical things that happen that we don’t put out a press release about,” she said. “We also don’t want to give a report card to our adversaries. They learn a great deal from information that we put out.”

5 April 2018


by Vanda Felbab

The kidnapping of 110 schoolgirls from Dapchi last month is the latest event to cast doubt on the Nigerian government’s claims that Boko Haram has been technically defeated. Unfortunately, the attack should have come as no surprise. Since 2015, the jihadist group has lost significant territorial control and no longer holds major cities. But as I saw during my fieldwork in Nigeria in January, the jihadist threat is far from gone, and counterinsurgency policies continue to be troubled and troubling.

20 March 2018

Africa, Latest Theater in America’s Endless War

Joe Penney 

Last October, four American soldiers, four Nigerien soldiers, and a Nigerien translator were killed in combat on Niger’s border with Mali while looking for the jihadi militant Doundoun Cheffou. For the most part, the fallout concentrated on President Trump’s mangled call with the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson. But the incident also called attention to a dangerous development at multiple levels of US politics. From a small village in rural Niger all the way to the White House, the US military has increasing influence over American foreign policy in Africa.