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

3 April 2020

Africa is changing so rapidly, it is becoming hard to ignore

Sometimes bridging the gap between success and failure, between finishing high school or dropping out, requires a lot of determination and the cost of a cow. Jack Oyugi grew up as the oldest of 14 children to parents tilling an acre of ground in western Kenya. Their crops usually gave them enough to eat—neighbours would feed them if food ran short—but they had little cash. When Mr Oyugi went to secondary school his father sold his only cow to pay the fees. “The neighbours laughed at him,” he says. Now he is having the last laugh. Mr Oyugi went on to university where he studied biotechnology, and then developed a process to make protein-rich animal feed from water hyacinth, an invasive plant on Lake Victoria. He provides jobs for 30 people. Orders for the feed, which is about 30% cheaper than soyabean protein, are coming from as far away as Thailand. As for his father, “I’ve built him a seven-room house and bought him some cows,” he says proudly.

Mr Oyugi is talented and hard-working. But his jump from village to university, from subsistence farming to founding a thriving business, is also one that encapsulates the change that is sweeping across the world’s youngest continent. Almost half of the 1.3bn Africans alive today were born after the terror attacks on America in 2001—the median age of 19 is less than half that of Europe (43).

Freedom House 2020: Africa In Freefall? – Analysis

By Arman Sidhu*

In its latest report regarding global civil and political liberties, the US-based NGO Freedom House concludes that a worldwide decline in democracy continues to persist in what the report describes as a “a leaderless struggle for democracy.” This year’s report marks the 14th year in a row in which Freedom House has noted an erosion of democratic norms. While strengthened autocracies are partially to blame, the two nations headlining the decline involve democracies, namely, the United States and India.

The emergence of illiberalism within democracies is a trend fueled by the election of populists, many of whom generate appeal through rebuke of global trade, migration, and multilateralism. The past five years have been particularly salient as recovery from the global recession has led to unfavorable and likely permanent structural economic changes for both developed and developing nations. From the displacement of labor, spurred by the outsourcing of entire industries, to austerity measures that have pared social programs, support for populist politicians and their respective ideologies do not appear to be an overnight phenomenon that will simply dissipate with time and the next election cycle.

Instead, in channeling the grievances of their supporters, leaders of autocracies and democracies alike have attributed blame to a myriad of opponents, including multilateral institutions (UN, EU, NATO, IMF), neighboring nation-states, in addition to religious and ethnic minorities. Such conditions have led to targeted policies and legislation, which in turn has fomented riotous violence, as is the case in both Hong Kong and India.

25 February 2020

China expands influence in Africa as US plays catch-up

James Stavridis

As China continues to implement its trillion-dollar Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, a principal focus will be engagement in Africa. China knows that Africa's youthful population is exploding, that the continent is rich in natural resources and that it is massive in geographical scale.

It represents a huge potential market for Chinese goods and a zone of significant political influence in countering the U.S. globally. But while China is alive to all these possibilities, and indeed is actively exploring them, the U.S. has only just started to play catch-up and faces losing out to its superpower rival.

Economically, Africa continues to expand in raw output, technological sophistication and growth, which may hit 4% in 2020. While some of the larger economies can drag down overall expansion, countries like Ethiopia, Rwanda and Kenya are showing strong growth.

Africa's population is already 16% of the world at 1.3 billion people, and is forecast to grow to 2.5 billion by 2050 and 4 billion by the century's end.

Specific examples point to the success of China's strategic approach. Just over a year ago, Senegal signed up to the BRI, becoming the first nation in West Africa to do so while welcoming Chinese President Xi Jinping in an elaborate ceremony.

22 February 2020

France’s Challenge in Africa

By Sylvie Kauffmann

A soldier of the French Army patrols a rural area during the Barkhane operation in northern Burkina Faso in November 2019.

PARIS — This is a war that escapes most radar screens. The French, whose troops have been fighting in the Sahel for seven years, ask few questions about their involvement. They should. In this crucible where Islamist insurgency, ancient local conflicts, fragile states, European hesitations and a shifting American strategy make an explosive mix, it is a war they may well be losing — or, in the best case, a war they may never win.

That is the somber warning that the chief of staff of the French armed forces, Gen. François Lecointre, delivered on Nov. 27, a day after his troops suffered 13 casualties in a helicopter crash in Mali during combat operations. “We will never achieve final victory,” he told the public radio station France Inter. “Avoiding the worst must provide sufficient satisfaction for a soldier. Today, thanks to our constant action, we are ensuring that the worst is avoided.”

16 February 2020

Surging Jihadist Wave In Western Africa: Conflict Spillover – Analysis

By Dr. Shanthie Mariet D Souza and Dr. Bibhu Prasad Routray

The Sahel region in Western Africa is witnessing a massive surge in terrorist attacks. Three countries- Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso- reported 4000 deaths in 2019 and the trend of staggering casualties in attacks by al Qaeda and Islamic State-linked outfits continues in 2020. The governments and militaries of the affected states are ill prepared to deal with the upscale in violence. With the United States of America considering pulling out its troops, 5000 French troops may not be able to contain the Jihadist wave in general and the resurgence of the Islamic State in particular, which may engulf the entire Sahel region causing deaths and producing thousands of IDPs. 
Spate of Attacks

On 1 February 2020, unidentified heavily armed men on motorbikes arrived in Lamdamol village in Seno province of Burkina Faso, north of the capital Ouagadougou and massacred 20 civilians.[1] The attack took place a week after a similar carnage in the province of Soum. Suspected Islamist terrorists had rounded up the villagers, executed the men and asked the women to leave the village. In early January, 36 people had been massacred at two villages in the northern Sanmatenga province. Jihadists also kidnapped and killed a Canadian mine worker and abducted two other humanitarian workers in December 2019. These incidents are the latest in a series of attacks that have taken place in this West African nation. A day before the 27 January attack, the prime minister of Burkina Faso and cabinet had resigned taking responsibility for the slide in security situation.

Facing Few Obstacles and Scant Pushback, Russia Keeps Advancing in Africa

By: Stephen Blank

According to numerous analyses published by think tanks and journals in the United States and Europe, Russia lost its African adventure before it even started. Purportedly, Russia lacks the resources with which to compete in Africa against the United States and China, acts there in a ham-handed and overly corrupt manner, deals only with backward authoritarian states, has nothing to sell but arms, and is primarily motivated by economic rather than strategic objectives (, June 2019;, April 2019;, October 16, 2019). Despite these expert assertions, however, this is assuredly not how US African Command (AFRICOM) evaluates the situation.

In his testimony to Congress, AFRICOM head General Stephen Townsend, made clear that his Command’s threat assessments see Russia (and China) continuing to seize all available opportunities to expand its influence in Africa. According to General Townsend, those activities are destabilizing and, extensive arms sales notwithstanding, do little to counter the epidemic of insurgency and terrorism endemic to places like the Sahel (, January 30, 2020).

14 February 2020

Conflict is still Africa’s biggest challenge in 2020


For the African Union, 2020 is supposed to be a landmark year. Its ‘silencing the guns’ initiative is aimed at ‘ending all wars, civil conflicts, gender-based violence, violent conflicts and preventing genocide in the continent by 2020.’ While no one can argue with that laudable goal, the continental body and its member states will have to work miracles to achieve it by the end of this year – especially when the trend seems to be heading in the other direction.

Patricia Danzi, Regional Director for Africa for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), recently told journalists in Johannesburg that her organisation – along with other major humanitarian organisations – was struggling to cope with existing situations that strain already limited attention and resources. More concerning still was that new situations keep cropping up.

‘Conflicts last and they don’t stop. And more are added,’ she said. She used Burkina Faso as an illustrative example: in 2019, 750 000 people were displaced by violence there, forcing ICRC to set up a new emergency response, while maintaining their operations in neighbouring Mali and Niger.

The pattern of new conflicts bubbling up alongside existing ones is likely to repeat itself

10 February 2020

India-Africa Defence Ministers’ Conclave: A Fresh Initiative – Analysis

By Ruchita Beri*
Source Link

The first India-Africa Defence Ministers’ Conclave on February 6 at the ongoing DefExpo2020 in Lucknow is a fresh initiative by India to enhance relations with countries in the continent. Defence ministers of about 14 African countries are expected to participate in the conclave. This initiative will provide an opportunity for India and the African countries to understand common security challenges and explore further cooperation in the defence and security sector.

African Security Challenges

In recent years, there has been an overall decline in conflicts in Africa. However, conflict continues to simmer in parts of the Horn of Africa, North Africa, West Africa, Sahel and the Great Lakes region. As in the rest of the world, terrorism and violent extremism is also a cause of instability in Africa. There are a large number of terror groups operating on the continent. Boko Haram continues to terrorise civilians in Nigeria and the neighbouring countries in West Africa. In the Sahel, a large number of violent incidents have been attributed to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) affiliated Islamic State in Greater Sahara and a coalition of extremists linked with Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) or Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims. In North Africa too, threat from ISIS continues to linger. Similarly, maritime challenges such as piracy, armed robbery, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, smuggling, human and drug trafficking have long troubled the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean littoral countries in Africa.

7 February 2020

AFRICOM’s Assessment of U.S. Security Challenges in Africa

Yacqub Ismail

While there have been reports of a possible U.S. drawdown of forces in Africa as part of Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s review of U.S. force posture around the globe, the top U.S. general in Africa, General Stephen J. Townsend, presented his assessment to the U.S. Senate that: “A secure and stable Africa is an enduring American interest.”

In the 2018 U.S. National Defense Strategy, which serves as a guidance for the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. government prioritized addressing security challenges from China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea as well as violent extremist groups. AFRICOM’s new strategic approach to secure its interests on the continent are guided by the following: partner for success; compete to win; and, maintain pressure on non-state actors.

In AFRICOM’s area of responsibility, according to General Stephen Townsend, both China and Russia “recognized the strategic and economic importance” of the African continent and to address that, both countries are attempting to “expand their influence across the continent,” while violent extremist networks are “expanding in Africa at a rapid pace.” With China establishing its first military base overseas in Djibouti, just miles away from the largest U.S. military base on the continent, Camp Lemonnier, along with major investments in key infrastructures like seaports and airports that could be leveraged to “increase China’s geopolitical influence” throughout Africa.

4 February 2020

Africa is creating one of the world's largest single markets. What does this mean for entrepreneurs?

Gerald Chirinda

The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is set to launch on 30th May. If every African country joins, it’s expected to be one of the world’s largest single markets, accounting for $4 trillion in spending and investment across the 54 countries.

The AfCFTA will give entrepreneurs across the continent access to a much larger market. It's therefore important that young African entrepreneurs understand how the AfCFTA could benefit them and their ventures. As awareness is raised, entrepreneurs should begin crafting new trade roadmaps for their businesses, informed by the agreement.

It's envisioned that the free trade area will lead to increased competition, innovation and prosperity for Africa’s people in the long term. But for the AfCFTA’s gains to be realized, entrepreneurs and policy-makers must be aligned. They must engage with each other to provide structure and clarity around how goods and services will move, and around the benefits that the agreement will bring to business. These discussions between entrepreneurs and the trade ministries of their country will also enable the review and updating of national trade policies, discussions which will benefit both the government and business communities.

3 February 2020

Human Rights Are Under Attack. Who Will Protect Them?

Globally, human rights remain under assault, whether by populist movements desperate to gain power or authoritarian governments eager to maintain it. Technology has opened up new frontiers for curbing people’s ability to express and share dissenting ideas. And broad assaults are underway on institutions like the International Criminal Court, which was established not only to offer recourse for the victims of rights violations, but to establish an international human rights benchmark. Instead, it is being replaced by a dangerous intolerance.

Around the world, populist authoritarians have built their movements by demonizing minorities. In Brazil, for instance, newly elected President Jair Bolsonaro reveled in his provocations calling into question women’s rights as well as those of the LGBT and indigenous communities. With their verbal assaults, these leaders and the movements that follow them are inspiring people to commit acts of physical violence. In just a matter of months last year, Jews were targeted in Pittsburgh, Muslims in New Zealand and Christians in Sri Lanka.

At the same time, the populist rise has invigorated civil society efforts to protect historically marginalized communities, including members of the LGBT community, religious minorities and indigenous groups.

1 February 2020

How Third-Worldism Can Be Reimagined Today

Howard W. French

Not so long ago, nations of what was once called the Third World commonly looked to each other as prospective allies and partners, even extending their diplomatic ties across the oceans in order to advance their shared interests and protect themselves amid the dangers and complexities of the Cold War.

The most famous moment of this period was undoubtedly the Bandung Conference in Indonesia in 1955, which brought together 29 Asian and African states with a combined population of 1.5 billion people and led to the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement. The momentum of Bandung was seriously blunted by the 1962 war between the two giants of the conference, China and India, but much of the spirit of the era persisted at least into the late 1970s, when both politicians and intellectuals from many non-aligned countries continued to invoke the mantra of solidarity. ...

Why can’t South Africa grow its economy?

Source Link

Like most South Africans, I am deeply frustrated by our decade-long economic stagnation. As the economy grows slower than the population does, GDP per capita has been shrinking for the past five years, and sky-high unemployment has become a structural feature of our society, with all its devastating immediate and far-reaching consequences on individuals and families.

I’ve been reflecting on why we cannot seem to get ourselves out of this predicament. 

It’s not as if South Africa is short of ideas on how to grow the economy inclusively. The National Development Plan – despite having been largely ignored and more relevant now as an example of massive lost opportunity – pointed out many of the things we need to do, eight years ago now. 

South Africa has solicited proposals from the best international development economists. Various think tanks have offered useful suggestions. The IMF does an annual economic diagnostic. In Operation Phakisa, SA adapted and tried the Malaysia-style lab concept to develop tangible action plans to accelerate growth in priority sectors. Government and business have had countless dialogues, roundtables and high-level working groups.

30 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.

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.


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.