Author Topic: Africa  (Read 6812 times)

ccp

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Africa
« on: February 06, 2012, 08:56:12 AM »
Ndubuisi Ekekwe

Ndubuisi Ekekwe is a founder of the non-profit African Institution of Technology. He recently edited Nanotechnology and Microelectronics: Global Diffusion, Economics, and Policy.

Africa Is Open for Business
9:24 AM Monday February 6, 2012
by Ndubuisi Ekekwe | Comments (2)

Angola is offering financial aid to debt-ridden Portugal. The Economist recently declared Africa a "hopeful continent" after years of writing it off as "hopeless." More than a million Chinese are in Africa exploring opportunities in villages and cities. The continent is attracting top global brands and has a growing middle class. There's a sense of upbeat optimism with possibilities that seem endless. As the lions roar from Kenya to Ghana, and cheetahs from South Africa to Mali, young Africans are unleashing their entrepreneurial energy and most governments are offering stronger leadership, a more business-friendly economy, and less corruption.

But, Africa is not an isolated island in the world, and ongoing uncertainty with some of its trading partners could imperil any sustainable progress. A trade shock is just around the corner, as the continent remains reliant on a mineral-based economy. And new, rosy economic statistics have not managed to stop strikes, riots, and other protests, which are the result of the continued reality of economic inequality. What's more, Africa is complex, fragmented and multicultural. What works in Nigeria is not guaranteed to work in Kenya.

But, none of this should keep businesses from expanding into African markets. The international community should not ignore a growing market of roughly a billion people. Africa needs about $50 billion to meet its development goals over the next few years, and it needs the help of the international community to tackle the vicious cycle of poverty, disease and hunger in Africa today.

African economies are growing, and millions have moved into the middle class category within the last decade. And Africans are buying things, from iPads to Porsches. Africans are also becoming global players, with some of their banks — such as United Bank for Africa and Guaranty Trust Bank — opening offices in the U.S., France Flag Like ReplyReply Real-time updating is paused. (Resume)
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Angola is offering financial aid to debt-ridden Portugal. The Economist recently declared Africa a "hopeful continent" after years of writing it off as "hopeless." More than a million Chinese are in Africa exploring opportunities in villages and cities. The continent is attracting top global brands and has a growing middle class. There's a sense of upbeat optimism with possibilities that seem endless. As the lions roar from Kenya to Ghana, and cheetahs from South Africa to Mali, young Africans are unleashing their entrepreneurial energy and most governments are offering stronger leadership, a more business-friendly economy, and less corruption.
But, Africa is not an isolated island in the world, and ongoing uncertainty with some of its trading partners could imperil any sustainable progress. A trade shock is just around the corner, as the continent remains reliant on a mineral-based economy. And new, rosy economic statistics have not managed to stop strikes, riots, and other protests, which are the result of the continued reality of economic inequality. What's more, Africa is complex, fragmented and multicultural. What works in Nigeria is not guaranteed to work in Kenya.
But, none of this should keep businesses from expanding into African markets. The international community should not ignore a growing market of roughly a billion people. Africa needs about $50 billion to meet its development goals over the next few years, and it needs the help of the international community to tackle the vicious cycle of poverty, disease and hunger in Africa today.
African economies are growing, and millions have moved into the middle class category within the last decade. And Africans are buying things, from iPads to Porsches. Africans are also becoming global players, with some of their banks — such as United Bank for Africa and Guaranty Trust Bank — opening offices in the U.S., France and the U.K. Investments in the continent will grow, and the following areas remain the most promising:
Energy: Despite the abundance of resources like solar, oil, water and gas, most Africans still have no reliable energy supply. The challenge has been the cost-intensive, long-term reward nature of these projects in unpredictable political systems. It's simply too risky for businesses to invest in this sector. Minerals: As the world economy recovers, African minerals such as crude oil and gold will remain important to the global economy, as demand increases. Investing in extracting and processing these minerals will remain a lucrative venture. Agriculture: Africa is unfed in a continent with good, arable land. Africa imports its food, despite the fact that it produces enough to feed its citizens. The problem is that harvests are poorly managed due to a lack of preservation techniques, which means that much of the food goes to waste and Africa goes hungry even after bumper harvests. Food production, processing, and preservation will remain a profitable growth area. Technology: Africa has not attracted capacity-building investments, such as R&D centers and hi-tech manufacturing. In the coming years, as global buyers become more sophisticated, companies that differentiate their products within local markets will have a strong competitive advantage. Africa is no exception. For example, telecoms can be profitable in Africa not for selling airtime, but for powering value-added services such as mobile banking and mobile business, among others, that address the needs of this unique population. Four things will drive the African economy in this decade:
African diasporas: The diasporas who have acquired world-class skills with international networks will drive sustainable African development. As the global economy recovers from recession, their impact will continue to expand. Education: Education is a weak link in the development of the continent. Major foreign investment has not come to the sector owing to low return, but some African governments are working hard to change that. For instance, Rwanda and Carnegie Mellon University have teamed up to offer a graduate-level program in East Africa. The new campus will train talent for companies who want to make products closer to Africans. Better education will also serve to advance the entrepreneurial ecosystem on the continent. Intra-trade: The trade route to colonial links will become weaker as these nations become richer and make choices purely based on market factors. For instance, Cameroon could choose South Africa, rather than France, to process some of its food. Infrastructure: Though the regional economic communities (RECs) have not lead to monetary unions, Africa is poised to benefit from the integration of its various economies, and can learn from the euro zone crisis when strategizing about its own single currency program (PDF). The RECs will form free trade areas, which will help modernize infrastructure, among other things. Africa's biggest risk is its political system. New governments have cancelled mine contracts and leases executed by predecessors. The continent faces challenges if it cannot prepare for its post-mineral era. As I drive by dead mines that generated billions of dollars of wealth around the world, but left no sustainable community development behind, I have to wonder: What will the domino effect be if the continent cannot transmute effectively into a post-mineral era? Africa needs a redesign of its economy towards a knowledge-driven one. New industries remain underfunded and quality startups are scarce.
Africa is open for business, and tomorrow's global leaders should understand both the risks and the opportunities that are available here. There is the potential for corporations to make billions of dollars in profits in Africa. But, much more importantly, contributing to a strong and sustainable Africa could just be the next generation of global leaders' greatest legacy.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2018, 05:26:48 AM by Crafty_Dog »

Crafty_Dog

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Re: africa
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2012, 08:14:40 AM »
Folks:

While this article does not seem to fall into any of them, as the Seach function reveals please be aware that there are a number of threads dealing with various parts/aspects of Africa see e.g. "US-Africa" http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1541.0

ccp

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Chinese style "colonialism" in Africa
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2013, 09:31:02 AM »
 
Yahoo! News
As Africa welcomes more Chinese factories, a new wariness sets in

In Congo, Chinese are settling in with businesses and bargains that locals love. But at a giant copper smelting plant, Chinese and locals work together but live apart.

Christian Science Monitor
Jacob Kushner 2 hours ago 
 
Some 6,000 miles away from his home in China, Robin Wei awakes on a cot beneath a white mosquito net. He gets dressed, opens the door of his bunker, and walks out into the rainy season toward the factory where he works.

Four years ago, Mr. Wei bade goodbye to his wife and daughter in Shanghai and boarded a flight to the heart of Congo's mineral belt. He lives and works at a Chinese-owned smelting plant that extracts copper from the rich ore, which is then sold for wire and pipes that go into building skyscrapers and cargo ships.

Congo also holds nearly half the world's known reserves of cobalt. It has vast reserves of high-grade copper, tantalum, and tin. Just 10 years ago, a ton of copper could fetch $1,700 on the world market. Today it goes for about $8,000.

Wei is one of hundreds of thousands of Chinese men and women – as many as 1 million by some estimates – who, at least for now, call Africa home. (Wei goes home to visit his wife and daughter once a year.) China has been investing heavily in Africa for more than a decade, and both China and its migrants are in what could be called a settling-in period as the story of a fast-growing Africa and a rising China unfolds.

Congo is increasingly influenced by the penetration of all things Chinese, and that in turn is bringing high hopes for development.

But it is also raising wariness here that Africa's new benefactor may sometimes be driven by the same self-interested motives as the Western nations that preceded it in the colonial and postcolonial periods.

Like most Chinese here, Wei lives a separate life, socializing exclusively with his Chinese co-workers except for an occasional foray down the street to buy groceries and exchange pleasantries with a Congolese street vendor.

Yet to the Congolese, the Chinese have increasingly become a necessary part of everyday life. To buy a cellphone, people go to Chinese electronics shops that offer knock-off Blackberry models at a third of the market price. When people want to enjoy a soccer game, they take a seat in the bleachers at Kinshasa's "Martyrs Stadium," a gift from China in 1993. A drive through downtown Kinshasa runs along a grand central boulevard, newly widened and repaved by a Chinese construction company.

Down the road from Wei's copper-smelting plant in the town of Lubumbashi, a Chinese doctor treats Congolese and Chinese patients with a combination of modern pharmaceuticals and ancient Chinese acupuncture. Grocery stores sell Chinese rice and sauces; there is even a Chinese casino.

Many Africans have welcomed Chinese migrants and their businesses. In a 2009 survey of 250 people in nine African countries, three-quarters said the Chinese way was a "very positive" or "somewhat positive" model of development.

Increasingly that Chinese model is defined by huge deals in which Chinese companies mine minerals or extract oil and build needed infrastructure for the African nation, often using Chinese skilled labor to do so.

The rising price of copper, for example, has prompted two Chinese state-owned companies to open the largest mine Congo has ever seen. In exchange for the rights to mine potentially billions of dollars' worth of copper for more than two decades, these companies are spending $3 billion upfront to build roads, bridges, and hospitals in Congo.

The Chinese are replicating this minerals-for-infrastructure model in other African countries, notably Zimbabwe, Guinea, and Angola. In 2009, China surpassed the United States as Africa's largest trading partner.

That China has moved 600 million people out of poverty over the past 35 years is a source of admiration for some African elites.

When asked in a different survey which model of development offers more promise for Africa's future – the Western one, which tends to keep private business separate from infrastructure that is considered "aid," or the Chinese model, which blends the two – Africans responded overwhelmingly with the latter. Many see China as more welcoming than the US. Twice a week, a line forms outside the Chinese Embassy in Kinshasa as Congolese students and businessmen arrive to apply for visas to work or study in China. They say it's far easier to get a visa to go there than to the US.

As relations deepen, however, a wider rift is opening between Chinese and Congolese at the workplace. Congo's leaders laud Chinese investors for creating jobs. But some here note that large Chinese companies often employ Chinese workers to do jobs that could easily be done by Congolese. Even Congolese who do get hired by Chinese companies may find their high expectations dashed.

On a rainy morning in Kinshasa, a group of Congolese men huddle under the overhang of a tin roof. The men are employed by the China Railway Engineering Corp. (CREC), a large construction company that is widening and paving the road that connects Kinshasa's airport to its downtown.

The men have been hired to dig trenches, direct traffic, and carry supplies, for which they earn $65 per month, just slightly above the minimum wage here.

The workers say they hardly interact at all with their Chinese managers. They eat and live separately from them. And they say most Chinese don't learn the local languages, French and Lingala, making conversation impossible. The men dress in street clothes because CREC doesn't provide them with uniforms.

"They don't give us boots or helmets. We work like this," says Maba Litile, pointing to the sandals he's wearing. "We work really hard, but the money is too little. If I found another job, I'd leave."

Far away on the outskirts of a mining town called Kolwezi, men, women, and often children spend their days digging with picks and shovels for bits of copper ore. Each week they push bicycles and wheelbarrows laden with bags of those rocks to sell to the Chinese.

In a riverbed that runs through town, Kayenda washes and cleans a batch of rocks before selling them. Like most Kolwezi miners, Kayenda says she's grateful to the Chinese for providing a means by which her family can earn an income. But also like many, she resents that the Chinese are getting rich off her hard work and her nation's minerals. "The way they are helping is giving jobs, but also they are stealing from us," she says.

Some see China as merely the newest player in a centuries-old pattern of foreign powers coming to make their fortunes from Congo's natural resources.

In theory, Congo should be rich, given its vast mineral wealth. But one wouldn't know it by looking at how the majority of Congo's 76 million people live. Rural families sleep in huts that flood when it rains. Only 4 percent have electricity.

Life in cities can also be bleak, as urbanites hustle to earn enough income to subsist. Despite its resources, Congo is the least developed country in the world, and it is also the world's most unlikely place for an individual to improve his or her livelihood, according to the United Nations.

It is hardly lost on Congolese that billions of Western aid and investment dollars have not alleviated Congo's poverty. Some say the West has had its chance. Yet the question of whether China will improve life in Congo more than did the investors who came before it remains unanswered.

On a rainy morning back at the copper-smelting factory where Wei works, a group of muscular Congolese men swing sledgehammers over their heads, then bring them crashing down upon black boulders. More men enter the machinery yard through a metal gate.

"Congolese, they really don't have a sense of time and distance. They're supposed to work at 7:30 but they come at 8 or 8:10 or 8:20," says Wei, who seems more intrigued than concerned.

Behind them, the three-story furnace melts the ore into copper lava, sending dust particles into the air. After an hour of watching rocks transform into molten copper, it becomes impossible to take a full breath without a burning sensation in the lungs. Yet only the few Congolese workers who handle the molten copper are given protective face masks.

All week, Wei and his Chinese colleagues work side by side with the Congolese men. As is typical for first-generation Chinese abroad, they eat only Chinese food while their Congolese employees place a pot atop the hot copper at the factory to cook cassava flour – a traditional East African lunch.

But on the weekends, Chinese workers struggle to feel at home in a place that remains largely foreign to them. Wei is one of only a few who speak the local languages. Some of Wei's Chinese co-workers say they have come seeking adventure. They are often new college graduates who face scarce job prospects at home, or they are leaving jobs in China to earn more money in Africa.

But in reality, Wei's co-workers tend to stay isolated from Congolese society altogether, rarely venturing beyond the concrete walls of the smelting complex. They spend their weekends tending gardens planted with Chinese vegetables, playing table tennis, and singing karaoke. Many are simply reconstructing their lives in China, here.

For many, China's influence in Congo will depend upon whether the Chinese stick around.

Some Chinese have lived here for more than a decade and intend to stay. But the business that brings so many Chinese migrants to Congo today could one day lure them away again as opportunities arise in other places. Whether the Chinese will be transient or put down roots here in Congo remains to be seen.

•This story was adapted from the new e-book "China's Congo Plan." Reporting was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.



G M

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Re: africa
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2013, 10:21:36 AM »
Heh. The more powerful China becomes, the more Africa will recall fondly the days of european colonialism.

Crafty_Dog

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POTH: Brooks: The Battle of the Regimes
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2014, 08:44:44 AM »
The Battle of the Regimes

AUG. 4, 2014


James Mwangi grew up on the slopes of the Aberdare Mountains in central Kenya. His father lost his life during the Mau Mau uprising against the colonial authorities. His mother raised seven children, making sure both the girls and the boys were well educated. Everybody in the family worked at a series of street businesses to pay the bills.

He made it to the University of Nairobi and became an accountant. The big Western banks were getting out of retail banking, figuring there was no money to be made catering to the poor. But, in 1993, Mwangi helped lead a small mutual aid organization, called Equity Building Society, into the vacuum.

The enterprise that became Equity Bank would give poor Kenyans access to bank accounts. Mwangi would cater to street vendors and small-scale farmers. At the time, according to a profile by Anver Versi in African Business Magazine, the firm had 27 employees and was losing about $58,000 a year.

Mwangi told the staff to emphasize customer care. He switched the firm’s emphasis from mortgage loans to small, targeted loans.

Kenyans got richer, the middle class boomed and Equity Bank surged. By 2011, Equity had 450 branches and a customer base of 8 million — nearly half of all bank accounts in the country. From 2000 to 2012, Equity’s pretax profit grew at an annual rate of 65 percent. In 2012, Mwangi was named the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year.

Mwangi’s story is a rags-to-riches Horatio Alger tale. Mwangi has also become a celebrated representative of the new African entrepreneurial class, who now define the continent as much as famine, malaria and the old scourges.

But Mwangi’s story is something else. It’s a salvo in an ideological war. With Equity, Mwangi demonstrated that democratic capitalism really can serve the masses. Decentralized, bottom-up capitalism can be the basis of widespread growth, even in emerging markets.

That theory is under threat. Over the past few months, we’ve seen the beginning of a global battle of regimes, an intellectual contest between centralized authoritarian capitalism and decentralized liberal democratic capitalism.

On July 26, for example, Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary gave a morbidly fascinating speech in which he argued that liberal capitalism’s day is done. The 2008 financial crisis revealed that decentralized liberal democracy leads to inequality, oligarchy, corruption and moral decline. When individuals are given maximum freedom, the strong end up stepping on the weak.

The future, he continued, belongs to illiberal regimes like China’s and Singapore’s — autocratic systems that put the interests of the community ahead of individual freedom; regimes that are organized for broad growth, not inequality.

Orban’s speech comes at a time when democracy is suffering a crisis of morale. Only 31 percent of Americans are “very satisfied” with their country’s direction, according to a 2013 Pew survey. Autocratic regimes — which feature populist economics, traditional social values, concentrated authority and hyped-up nationalism — are feeling confident and on the rise. Eighty-five percent of Chinese are very satisfied with their country’s course, according to the Pew survey.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story

It comes at a time when the battle of the regimes is playing out with special force in Africa. After the end of the Cold War, the number of African democracies shot upward. But many of those countries are now struggling politically (South Africa) or economically (Ghana). Meanwhile, authoritarian Rwanda is famously well managed.


China’s aggressive role in Africa is helping to support authoritarian tendencies across the continent, at least among the governing elites. Total Chinese trade with Africa has increased twentyfold since 2001. When Uganda was looking to hire a firm for an $8 billion rail expansion, only Chinese firms were invited to apply. Under Jacob Zuma, South Africa is trying to copy some Chinese features.

As Howard French, the author of “China’s Second Continent,” points out, China gives African authoritarians an investor who doesn’t ask too many questions. The centralized model represses unhappy minority groups. It gives local elites the illusion that if they concentrate power in their own hands they’ll be able to move decisively to lift their whole nation. (Every dictator thinks he’s Lee Kuan Yew.)

French notes that popular support for representative democracy runs deep in most African countries. But there have to be successful examples of capitalism for the masses. There have to be more Mwangis, a new style of emerging market hero, to renew faith in the system that makes such people possible.

President Obama is holding a summit meeting of African leaders in Washington this week. But U.S. influence on the continent is now pathetically small compared with the Chinese and Europeans. The joke among the attendees is that China invests money; America holds receptions.

But what happens in Africa will have global consequences in the battle of regimes. If African nations succumb to the delusion of autocracy, we’ll have Putins to deal with for decades to come.

Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Has France found and African Solution for Africa?
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2017, 11:03:17 AM »
 Has France Found an African Solution to an African Problem?
Chad's president Idriss Deby Itno (2nd L) speaks with French President Emmanuel Macron (C) as they gather with President of Burkina Faso Roch Marc Christian Kabore (front L), Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (rear L), Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou (front R) and Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz (rear R) for a meeting during the G5 Sahel summit in Bamako, July 2.
(CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images)


The days of the French colonial empire may be long gone, but Paris' involvement in the unstable region of the Sahel is not. French forces have been offering support for countries in the region — notably Group of 5 (G5) members Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Niger and Mauritania — for years. But as French concerns about the overmilitarization of the Sahel have grown, Paris seeks to find another solution in the form of the G5 Sahel Force. Made up of African troops from the G5 states, this counterterrorism and counter-trafficking entity may eventually play a critical role in stabilizing the Sahel region.

As recently as Aug. 2, French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly visited the Sahel states of Chad, Niger and Mali to engage with soldiers and speak with leaders. The subtext for Parly's trip was a desire to reaffirm French support for the Sahel Force. France and its allies are hoping that the entity will one day offer regional security using local forces, enabling Paris and other Western nations to lessen their involvement in the Sahel.

The Long Struggle

Africa's Sahel region is most commonly associated with a handful of countries stretching across the sub-Saharan portion of the continent, including the G5. These nations are prone to several forms of state weakness, including a lack of resources and investment, poverty, corrupt and ineffectual armed forces and an inability to assert control over vast territories. Thus, the region has historically been a hotbed for terrorism, political instability and the trafficking of arms, drugs and humans. As a result, Western nations — particularly France, a former Sahel colonizer — have often stepped in to help stabilize the area. The French military, for example, has been conducting counterterrorism operations there under the auspices of Operation Barkhane since 2013, when Paris intervened to prevent Mali's collapse amid an assault from Tuareg and Islamic militant forces.

France has been fairly successful as the region's security guarantor, pulling its diplomatic and security weight to aid Mali and shore up other relatively weak regional allies such as Niger. But recently, Paris has sought to lessen its defense burden in the Sahel by increasingly offloading onto African and European allies. (The U.S., for its part, is already involved in the region, engaging in special operations, drone operations and logistical support.) All European states are ultimately threatened by the problems of the Sahel, given that its relative proximity to the Mediterranean Sea provides a thin barrier for transnational issues. It is therefore understandable that France would expect these nations — especially Germany — to increase their contributions.

One key component of this redistribution of resources has been the European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM), designed to advise and train the Malian military. As noted, Mali has been at the epicenter of the region's terrorism problem, and since 2013, the EUTM has been critical in building up the Malian armed forces following a coup and decades of corruption. Training missions such as the EUTM have been particularly useful in encouraging involvement from European countries — including Germany — that are more reticent about exercising hard power overseas.

The EUTM mission and Operation Barkhane are successes in many respects. But the overall picture of Sahel security in the coming years is one that will heavily feature French forces, simply because of the limited capacity of regional governments and militaries. From Mauritania to Niger, countries on the continent continue to struggle with border security: On July 12, the Mauritanian minister of defense declared the country's border with Algeria closed and its immediate area a military zone, with the Mauritanian armed forces considering all individuals in the zone to be legitimate targets. The decision was no doubt the result of increased drug trafficking and terrorist group operations in the area.

And the degradation of the security environment in recent months and years is not exclusive to Mauritania's remote north. Other zones, such as the tri-border region between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, have seen increases in terrorist activity: militants have attacked wayward government outposts to steal provisions, wreak havoc on locals and sometimes kidnap the few Westerners left in the vast space. Thus, the local authorities of formerly stable zones are now under additional pressure to address the metastasizing threat.

An African Solution

The reality is that France cannot significantly reduce its security burdens in the Sahel right now. The former colonial power has instead been attempting to broaden the scope of its strategy. French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed concern about France's strategy in the region becoming overly militarized in recent years, to the detriment of longer-term state building. Since May 2017, Macron's administration has accelerated efforts to get the G5 Sahel Force up and running. Designed to tackle the more transnational nature of terrorism and crime, the standing force has been touted as "An African solution for African problems" (a term no doubt used to drum up international support). But as with everything in the instability-plagued region, the launch of the G5 Sahel Force has been marked by almost equal parts success and setbacks.

There are countless examples of African forces struggling to make progress without being totally dependent on the financial and logistical support of the United Nations, the European Union and other global powers. For instance, the standby forces of the Economic Community of West African States and the Economic Community of Central African States both faced serious difficulties in their efforts to become productive and autonomous. The G5 Sahel Force is almost certainly headed in the same direction.

On June 5, the European Union committed $56 million to the force following a visit to Mali by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. France has also ponied up, reportedly providing an initial $9 million along with 70 tactical vehicles, in addition to $228 million in regional development aid over the next five years. As Macron put it, France's real contribution will be "advice, material and combat." Moreover, Berlin is expected to host an international donors conference in September to partially fund the G5 Sahel Force.

In spite of these initial and prospective gains, the financial viability of the force is still in question. Reportedly, each G5 Sahel member state will contribute $10 million each, bringing in another $50 million. But Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita recently noted that current levels of funding were nowhere near the estimated $500 million annual budget that he sees as necessary to fund the 5,000-member force.

A "two steps forward, one step back" dynamic was further on display at the United Nations on June 21, when the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed a resolution that backed the Sahel Force. U.S. objections to additional U.N. spending obligations forced France to water down the resolution's text. (The Trump administration has sought to cut its international commitments, including in the realm of peacekeeping.) The version of the resolution that ultimately passed states only that the U.N. Security Council "welcomes the deployment" of the force; it does not commit the international organization to any funding.

Putting the Sahel Force Into Action

Nevertheless, Macron is pushing hard to have the G5 Sahel Force up and running by October, so that it can "prove itself" on the ground. Some facts about the entity have already been revealed: For example, it will be headquartered in Sevare in northern Mali and will reportedly focus on three critical border regions: the West Zone (Mali-Mauritania), the Center Zone (Mali-Burkina Faso-Niger), and the East Zone (Niger-Chad). This follows the emphasis on cross-border security challenges implemented by the Multinational Joint Task Force, which was designed to address the threat posed by the Boko Haram insurgency. And in a broader sense, the regional focus continues a trend of Sahel states pooling their resources. In one such recent instance, Mali, Chad and Niger signed an agreement in May allowing the three countries to expedite potential terrorist or criminal suspects, exchange judicial records and obtain information about travelers.

However, the exact number and composition of the Sahel Force remain uncertain. It will reportedly be composed of battalions of 750 soldiers from each country, although this would tally up to a 3,750-member force, well short of the oft-cited 5,000-member figure. Moreover, it has been stated that these soldiers will operate under their own respective flags rather than being part of a supranational group. This could prove problematic if political leaders become unwilling to spread various burdens across the broader force. Chadian President Idriss Deby recently complained that his country's armed forces — a key French ally and the region's most capable military — are "overstretched" in their struggle to combat terrorism. The G5 request for more troop contributions comes amid Chad's continued financial difficulties in the wake of falling crude oil exports prices. Deby is likely hoping to drum up more financial support from Western allies, namely France.

Overall, it remains to be seen how much interoperability can truly be achieved by the five nation, seven battalion Sahel Force — and how heavily the entity will rely on France. There have been joint African military operations in the past, such as Mali and Burkina Faso's Operation Panga, which focused on rooting out militants in the Fhero Forest. But while that operation was hailed as a success because militants were killed and captured, materiel was seized and intelligence was gained, it relied heavily on the French military as its backbone. France's Operation Barkhane furnished soldiers, tactical vehicles, fighter jets and drones.

One thing is clear: Along with limited help from other international actors, the French military is instrumental in holding the Sahel region together. Getting the G5 Sahel Force up and running is a big step forward in finding regional solutions for regional problems. But even in the best case scenario, France is still many years away from being able to significantly reduce its security burden in the Sahel.

Crafty_Dog

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Lloyd de Jongh: South Africa-- the Mfecane 1815-1840
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2018, 05:26:34 AM »

Before 1819, there was no Zulu nation.

Shaka kaSenzaghakohona was born in ~1787. Through force, murder and intimidation he united a number of small tribes into the Zulu nation around the year 1819.

The Zulu nation came into existence 167 years after the arrival of Jan Van Riebeeck.

So what did the Europeans take away from the Zulu people?

Next, when and how did black people establish themselves in South Africa? The answer lies in the Mfecane: Mfecane (Zulu: [m̩fɛˈkǀaːne],[note 1] crushing), also known by the Sesotho name Difaqane (scattering, forced dispersal or forced migration[1]) or Lifaqane.

This was a period of widespread warfare and chaos among indigenous ethnic communities in southern Africa during the period ~1815 to ~1840.

As King Shaka created the highly militaristic Zulu Kingdom in the territory between the Tugela and Pongola Rivers, his forces caused a wave of warfare and disruption that swept over other peoples in the region. This was the prelude of the Mfecane.

The movement of people fleeing the violence caused many tribes to attempt to dominate those in new territories, leading to widespread warfare; consolidation of groups such as the Matabele, the Mfengu and the Makololo; and the creation of states such as the modern Lesotho.

Mfecane is used primarily to refer to the period when Mzilikazi, a king of the Matabele, dominated the Transvaal. During his reign, roughly from 1826 to 1836, he ordered widespread killings and devastation to remove all opposition. He reorganised the territory to establish the new Ndebele order. The death toll has never been satisfactorily determined, but the whole region was nearly depopulated.

Normal estimates for the death toll range from 1 million to 2 million.

The black tribal order we know today was established in undeveloped land by primitive warring tribes a full 180 years AFTER the European settlers had made much of this land their own.

#southafrica #shaka #zulu

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Africa's population will triple by the end of this century.
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2020, 06:25:37 AM »
Africa's population will triple by the end of this century.  Lancet

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30677-2/fulltext?utm_campaign=gbd20&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social

What could possibly go wrong.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Africa
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2020, 02:02:08 PM »
Straight line projections like this are usually wrong IMHO.

Entirely possible that the entire birth dearth dynamic will hit Africa just as it has elsewhere.

Back in the mid 70s when Latin America was my region of specialization for my International Relations degree, I remember the extraordinary pop growth rates of that time.  They are WAY less now.

This appears to be a world-wide phenomenon.

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GPF: Russia and the GERD?
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2021, 12:29:55 PM »
May 27, 2021
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Brief: Why Russia Would Want to Mediate the GERD Talks
Rumors of Moscow’s involvement are unverified but unsurprising.
By: Geopolitical Futures

Background: Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt remain locked in fruitless negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Sudan and Egypt are downstream countries that fear the project could flood their countries and threaten their water supply, and as such are looking to international partners to resolve the conflict. Naturally, Russia is at the top of the list.

What Happened: Egypt and Sudan will hold joint exercises dubbed “Guardians of the Nile” from May 26 to May 31 that will include ground, air and air defense maneuvers. The exercises coincide with reports that Ethiopia has already started the second filling of the dam. Ethiopia quickly denied the allegations. True or not, rumors have since circulated that Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Egypt in the near future in what may be a good opportunity to sign new arms contracts.

Bottom Line: As the name Guardians of the Nile implies, the exercises are all about sending a message to Ethiopia. But Russia’s involvement in talks — which, to be clear, remains unverified — shows that military options are not the only options. Russia, for its part, would love to help negotiate a settlement since doing so would buy Moscow a lot of goodwill and political capital in Egypt, which has direct access to the Mediterranean, and Sudan, in which it wants to revive negotiations over the creation of a military base.

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Re: Africa - has highest rates of slavery in modern world
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2021, 10:44:37 AM »
https://qz.com/africa/1333946/global-slavery-index-africa-has-the-highest-rate-of-modern-day-slavery-in-the-world/

Must be due to white colonialism  :wink:

Africa - has highest rates of slavery in modern world.  With numbers higher than held in the American south, 150-200 years ago.

If whites owned slaves (in Africa now) it would be the biggest issue in the world, not just something covered in Thomas Sowell books. 

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Re: South Africa is CRT
« Reply #15 on: July 18, 2021, 04:56:23 PM »

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WSJ: US trained militaries are ousting civilian govts in Coups
« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2022, 11:09:57 PM »
In Africa, U.S.-Trained Militaries Are Ousting Civilian Governments in Coups
Insurrections are disrupting American security strategy in the region and giving Russia an opening to gain sway

A Green Beret conducted U.S.-led special-operations exercises with a Guinean soldier in Nouakchott, Mauritania, in 2020.
PHOTO: MICHAEL M. PHILLIPS/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
By Michael M. PhillipsFollow
Apr. 9, 2022 8:00 am ET

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FORT BENNING, Ga.—A flurry of military coups across Africa has disrupted the U.S. strategy of enlisting local armies to counter Islamist extremists and other security threats.

The U.S. has trained thousands of African soldiers, from infantrymen rehearsing counterterrorism raids on the edge of the Sahara to senior commanders attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The programs are a linchpin of U.S. policy on the continent, intended to help African allies professionalize their armed forces to fight armed opponents both foreign and domestic.

But U.S. commanders have watched with dismay over the past year as military leaders in several African allies—including officers with extensive American schooling—have overthrown civilian governments and seized power for themselves, triggering laws that forbid the U.S. government from providing them with weapons or training.

“There’s no one more surprised or disappointed when partners that we’re working with—or have been working with for a while in some cases—decide to overthrow their government,” Rear Adm. Jamie Sands, commander of U.S. special-operations forces in Africa, said this week. “We have not found ourselves able to prevent it, and we certainly don’t assess that we’re causing it.”

The strategic setback was apparent in recent weeks here at Fort Benning, where the U.S. Army hosted its annual gathering of top ground-force commanders from around Africa. Senior soldiers from three dozen African countries watched American recruits tackle boot-camp obstacle courses, witnessed parachute training and saw live-ammo tank and mortar demonstrations.

The Army withheld invitations from coup leaders in Mali and Burkina Faso, West African countries engaged in existential struggles with al Qaeda and Islamic State. Guinean soldiers, who in Septembertoppled the West African nation’s civilian government, were left out of the Fort Benning events and are no longer included in U.S.-led special-operations exercises.


African soldiers watched American troops practice hand-to-hand combat last month at Fort Benning, Georgia.
PHOTO: MICHAEL M. PHILLIPS/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Sudan’s ruling junta, which last year reversed a U.S.-supported transition to democratic rule, was unwelcome at the Fort Benning summit. Ethiopia hosted the last such gathering in 2020; this year its military is on the outs with the U.S. over alleged human-rights abuses in its war against Tigrayan rebels.

“We don’t control what happens when we leave,” said U.S. Army Col. Michael Sullivan, commander of the 2d Security Force Assistance Brigade, a unit created to advise and train African armies. “We always hope we’re helping countries do the right thing.”

Last year, a logistics advisory team from Col. Sullivan’s brigade had just arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, and was waiting out its Covid-19 quarantine at a hotel when the Biden administration decided to cancel the deployment “due to our deep concerns about the conflict in northern Ethiopia and human-rights violations and abuses being committed against civilians,” according to a State Department spokesperson.

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The advisers completed quarantine and left the country.

“I think everybody is hopeful they will turn the corner again and we’ll be able to work with our Ethiopian partners,” Col. Sullivan said.

Meanwhile, America’s Great Power rivals can seek to take advantage of the U.S. pullback.

Malian commandos attended U.S.-led special-operations exercises in Mauritania in 2020, but were cut off from American training after its military overthrew the president last May. The Malian junta hired Russian mercenaries from the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group to provide security.


The coup and the presence of the Russian agents led to a falling-out between Mali and France, the former colonial power in much of West Africa, and the announcement that Paris would withdraw thousands of troops that were in Mali fighting Islamic State and al Qaeda.

Human Rights Watch alleged this week that the Russians and their Malian allies rounded up and massacred roughly 300 civilian men—some suspected militants—in the town of Moura last month.


Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Damiba, a veteran of U.S. military training, was sworn in as president of Burkina Faso in March following a coup.
PHOTO: OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
“The Malian government is responsible for this atrocity, the worst in Mali in a decade, whether carried out by Malian forces or associated foreign soldiers,” Corinne Dufka, a director of Human Rights Watch, said in a written release.

The Malian Defense Ministry reported that it had killed 203 “terrorists” in the operation and arrested 51 others, seizing weapons and ammunition. The military subsequently announced an investigation into the alleged massacre.

For years, the U.S. trained soldiers from Burkina Faso, which is facing waves of attacks from Islamic State fighters and a coalition of al Qaeda affiliates called Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimin, or JNIM.

In 2019, Burkina Faso hosted 2,000 commandos from 32 African and Western countries for U.S.-led special-operations exercises, aimed at beefing up security in the Sahel, the semiarid strip just south of the Sahara.

In 2020, Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Damiba was among the Burkina Faso army contingent when the American-led exercises moved to Mauritania. Col. Damiba had previously attended a U.S.-sponsored military intelligence course in Senegal and a State Department peacekeeping-training program.

Early this year, the U.S. military was sufficiently concerned about the spread of militant violence in Burkina Faso to dispatch a Special Forces team to Ouagadougou, the capital city, to advise local commandos.

The Green Berets had just arrived when Burkina Faso soldiers, unhappy with the civilian government’s conduct of the war, surrounded the presidential palace, arrested President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, and announced that a military junta, the Patriotic Movement for Safeguarding and Restoration, would take power.

Eight days after the first burst of gunfire in front of the presidential palace, the junta named Col. Damiba president.

Instead of training local forces, the Green Berets reinforced security at the U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou, in case the coup unleashed anti-American unrest. The U.S. also suspended work on plans to send one of Col. Sullivan’s advisory teams to the country.

Ghana, Ivory Coast, Benin and Togo dropped Burkina Faso from a joint task force being formed to prevent militants in the Sahel from pushing south toward the Gulf of Guinea—a prospect that alarms the Pentagon.

“Burkina was taken out because of the coup,” said Maj. Gen. Thomas Oppong-Peprah, Ghana’s army chief of staff.


Col. Mamady Doumbouya, who took part in U.S. training exercises before staging a coup in Guinea, is pictured on posters of the capital Conakry last year.
PHOTO: SUNDAY ALAMBA/ASSOCIATED PRESS
American officers say their work with African counterparts routinely includes discussion of the importance of civilian control of the military and adherence to the rule of law.

“So these coups are completely opposite to everything that we’re teaching,” Adm. Sands, the special-operations commander, said in a call with reporters.

Still, Michael Shurkin, a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst, questioned whether American lectures can successfully counter the political pressures Africa armies can face amid fierce insurgencies, ethnic divisions and corrupt civilian governments.

“Why is a year at Fort Leavenworth going to change how you behave politically in your own country?” asked Mr. Shurkin, now with 14 North Strategies, an Africa-focused consulting firm. “It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

American Green Berets were in the midst of training Guinean special forces last year when the local soldiers broke away to oust the country’s civilian president. The coup leader, special forces Col. Mamady Doumbouya, had headed Guinea’s delegation to the 2019 American-led commando exercises in Burkina Faso.

When they realized they were at the center of an insurrection, the U.S. commandos took shelter at the U.S. Embassy in Conakry, Guinea’s capital. “At this time, the U.S. Africa Command has suspended all training with the Guinea military,” said a U.S. Africa Command spokeswoman.

Sudan, which had forsaken past ties with terror groups, begun a democratic opening and embarked on a sweeping rapprochement with the U.S., was invited to the U.S.-African army summit in 2020. But a military junta retook power last year and launched a bloody crackdown on protesters, losing its invitation to the Fort Benning event.

U.S. officers say they have no choice but to work with other militaries in global security missions; the U.S. practice is to fight its wars alongside allies. “Our intent is to continue to extend a hand to African nations to help them and really help them address some of the underlying causes of these coups,” said Adm. Sands.

Over the past 20 years, Fort Benning, which specializes in infantry, airborne and Ranger training, has hosted 1,650 soldiers from 37 African countries.

“The military should always collaborate,” said Maj. Gen. Chikunkha Harrison Soko, Malawi’s U.S.–trained land-force commander.

Insecurity in one part of the world quickly leaks into others, he said, through refugee flows and the spread of extremist ideologies. “What affects Europe, affects Africa,” Gen. Soko said. “What affects Africa, affects the whole of Europe.”

Write to Michael M. Phillips at michael.phillips@wsj.com

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Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Why many African countries are choosing neutrality on the Uke war
« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2022, 04:18:39 AM »
Why Are African Countries Choosing Neutrality on the Russia-Ukraine War?
undefined and Stratfor sub-Saharan Africa Analyst at RANE
Clara Brackbill
Stratfor sub-Saharan Africa Analyst at RANE, Stratfor
7 MIN READApr 12, 2022 | 18:45 GMT


The increasingly multipolar world order is empowering some African countries to maintain a neutral stance on the war in Ukraine, despite pressure from the United States and its allies to condemn Russia. And with limited repercussions from the West, these nations will likely be free to continue prioritizing pragmatism over ideological alliances in their response to the ongoing conflict. 28 African countries supported the U.N. resolution on March 2 condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 17 African states, however, abstained while eight other countries were absent from the vote. During a March 31 press conference, U.S. Ambassador to the African Union Jessica Lapenn said that the United States was looking for strong African responses to Russian aggression, and specifically welcomed the opportunity to work with Senegal, one of the African countries that voted in favor of the U.N. resolution. Lapenn's remarks align with the U.S. and Western European position that African states should condemn the Russian invasion, and that neutrality or abstention implies complicity with Moscow's actions in Ukraine.

Eritrea is the only African country that voted against the March 2 resolution, likely due to Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki's close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and animosity toward the West, which was recently punctuated by new U.S. sanctions imposed on Eritrea in November over its role in the war in neighboring Ethiopia.

Some African leaders have criticized the United States' insistence that Africa should condemn Russia's Ukraine invasion, saying it implies their countries need Western guidance for their foreign policy and are not free to choose their own diplomatic path.

For many African countries, neutrality is in itself a position on the war, influenced in part by an increasingly multipolar world order. For decades, anti-Western imperialism has motivated resistance in sub-Saharan Africa to U.S. and European global dominance. However, the growing shift from a U.S.-led unipolar world to a more ''multipolar world'' — with China, Russia and India forming some of those poles — is further motivating some African leaders to reject the idea they must choose between the East and the West. From the perspective of the developing world, with increased multipolarity comes more choices, leading to more flexible — and more volatile — alignments. This trend is visible in Africa's diverse political, economic, security, social and ideological partnerships with their U.S., European, Chinese and Russian counterparts. Africa's largest economies, including Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, each pursue loans, arms deals and infrastructure projects with disparate partners, sometimes pitting global powers against one another in order to capitalize on the most advantageous deal. Western pressure to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine flies in the face of the reality that the United States and its allies' dominance over the global order is weakening, thus reducing African countries' incentive for developing exclusive political or economic alliances with Western governments. Against this backdrop, neutral African states — many of which have had their own wars in the recent past — are focused on their own survival, growth and independence in an increasingly uncertain world.

The African countries that voted in favor of the U.N. resolution to condemn Russia's invasion largely cited what Kenya's U.N. ambassador referred to as a duty to safeguard Ukraine's territorial integrity. Those that abstained from the vote, however, cited equally principled reasons for their decision; Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, for example, alluded to Western ''double standards'' in justifying his country's neutral position on the conflict, and said that he prefers maintaining diplomatic ties with China over the United States because Beijing does not advocate for interfering in the domestic affairs of other countries.

The United States has repeatedly criticized South Africa, in particular, for remaining neutral on the war in Ukraine, to which President Cyril Ramaphosa responded by lambasting what he calls NATO's encroachment in Ukraine. During a debate in the U.N. General Assembly on March 2, South Africa's ambassador Mathu Joyini suggested Western countries had committed their own violations of the U.N. Charter throughout history and were using the resolution condemning Russia's actions to increase their own geopolitical advantage over Moscow.

Although the West appears to view African support as crucial to the global ideological response to Russian aggression, leaders across the Continent will likely continue to prioritize pragmatism as the war rages on.





Multipolarity is visible in sub-Saharan African countries' diverse — and sometimes conflicting — global partnerships on issues like economic development, territorial sovereignty and political stability. As the saying goes, all politics is local. Undoubtedly, leaders across Africa are considering how the myriad possible outcomes of the war in Ukraine will impact their international partnerships and ability to maintain governance. Arms deals, loans, infrastructure agreements, foreign aid, trade agreements, treaties and tariffs with disparate partners (some of whom are on opposite sides of the Ukrainian conflict) factor into the equation. For some of the African states that either abstained or weren't present for the vote on the U.N. Ukraine declaration (like Ethiopia, Uganda, Mali, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo), condemning Russia would risk setting a precedent for international intervention that could later see foreign powers investigate security, political and humanitarian issues within their own borders. Separately, Western sanctions against Russia are driving food crises and price surges across Africa, which make leaders more vulnerable to internal threats of political and social instability. Maintaining a neutral diplomatic stance on the war in Ukraine does not alleviate these challenges; it does, however, grant African leaders flexibility as they attempt to leverage the situation to support negotiations with the United States, China and other international partners.

Russia's bilateral trade with sub-Saharan Africa amounted to about $7 billion dollars in 2021 (the United States and Europe's combined trade totaled roughly $44 billion by comparison). Russia also remains the largest arms exporter to Africa and weapons frequently cross political borders. Russian arms are being used in ongoing conflicts in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia, among others.

China has strong financial ties with many African nations and has also begun expanding its role in maintaining the Continent's peace and security. Beijing has announced several diplomatic initiatives focused on promoting the stability of Ethiopia and Somalia, both of which have ongoing civil wars within their borders.

In a region plagued by conflict and military coups, rising food insecurity brought on in part by price hikes resulting from Western sanctions against Russia makes African countries even more vulnerable to insurgencies, political instability and overall unrest. West Africa is currently facing its worst food crisis on record, with a 40% increase in hunger from 2021.

Despite its rhetorical condemnation, the West is ultimately unlikely to sanction African countries for retaining a neutral stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, reducing the risk of direct economic consequences for states that chose to do so. While states like South Africa and Uganda may not currently curry favor with the United States, Washington is unlikely to punish African neutrality given its preoccupation with the war and other urgent issues. As such, neutral African states are pursuing what they likely view as a low-cost method of maintaining distinct partnerships through the conclusion of the Ukrainian war. It is in the interest of most (if not all) African states to maintain political, economic and security ties with a diverse array of global partners, particularly if the cost of doing so is minimal to nonexistent. Although the West appears to view African support as crucial to the global response to Russian aggression, African leaders will likely continue to pursue pragmatism as the war rages on.

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GPF: Implications of Zambian debt talks with China
« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2022, 04:26:57 PM »
What Zambian Debt Talks Could Mean for Chinese Borrowers in Africa
9 MIN READAug 2, 2022 | 20:05 GMT





Newly elected Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema delivers a speech during his inauguration at the Heroes Stadium in Lusaka on Aug. 24, 2021.
Newly elected Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema delivers a speech during his inauguration at the Heroes Stadium in Lusaka on Aug. 24, 2021.

(SALIM DAWOOD/AFP via Getty Images)

Ongoing negotiations to restructure Zambia's debt are most likely to end in a compromise that will offer insight into China's potential position in other countries' creditor talks, especially if Beijing decides to grant debt forgiveness to Lusaka. On July 30, Zambia's bilateral creditor committee co-chaired by China and France released a statement committing to negotiating with the Zambian government under the terms of the Group of 20 (G-20) Common Framework. Zambia's finance ministry also announced on July 29 that it will cancel $2 billion in undisbursed loans from Exim Bank of China, Jiangxi Bank, Intesa Sanpaolo Bank and Israel Discount Bank, marking the first update on Zambia's multilateral debt negotiations in months. The cancellation of undisbursed funds is tangential to the ongoing restructuring talks over Zambia's estimated $32 billion in debt (money that has already been spent by the Zambian government). But China's participation under the G-20 Framework and willingness to engage — even if only over undisbursed loans — could bode well for future talks. Given that Zambia was the first African country to default on its debt in the COVID-19 pandemic era, and is also the first country to have China co-chair its debt committee, the outcome of debt negotiations will provide a case study for understanding how China could treat restructuring in other African contexts.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) awarded the Zambian government a $1.4 billion support package in December 2021, but the IMF review board will not give final approval for disbursement to occur until Zambia's creditors agree to a restructuring package.
A consortium of approximately 18 different Chinese creditors holds a total of $6.6 billion in Zambian debt, accounting for about a third of Zambia's external debt sources. China's commitment comes after months of delays in attempting to restructure Zambia's $32 billion debt (120% of GDP, $17 billion of which is external), during which China was widely perceived to be the lone holdout.
In April, China agreed to Zambian debt negotiations under the Common Framework debt restructuring process, which the G-20 launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Common Framework seeks to restructure low-income countries' unsustainable debt on a case-by-case basis, bringing together bilateral creditors in a coordinated process.
An estimated 45% of Zambia's total external debt is owed to external private lenders (excluding China), 37% to Chinese lenders (public and private), 8% to other governments, and 10% to multilateral lenders. Zambia's external debt service in 2021 was 45.9% of government revenue.
In November 2020, Zambia formally defaulted on about $3 billion in eurobonds after a 30-day grace period to pay a $42.5 million coupon due in October ran out, becoming the first African country to default since the onset of the Continent's COVID-19 crisis.
The Zambian government is pursuing domestic reforms to service its debt and achieve growth, but cooperation with Western and Chinese creditors is essential for long-term debt sustainability. Since Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema took office in 2021, he has embarked on a domestic reform agenda to accompany external debt restructuring. As part of the reform package, Zambia will cancel more than $2 billion in projects financed by commercial loans to reduce the risk of racking up more non-concessional debt. The Zambian parliament is also debating a Public Debt Management bill that caps total borrowing at 65% of GDP. On July 9, the country's finance ministry also announced plans to fund social programs with tax increases in an effort to keep the Zambian economy on track to meet its targeted growth rate of 4.4% by 2025. While such measures have had a positive impact on Zambia's growth outlook, the country's ability to service its debt in the long term hinges on inking deals with external creditors.

The Public Debt Management bill mandates that total government borrowing cannot exceed 65% of the previous year's GDP, and that the cost of serving external debt cannot exceed 20% of average annual recurrent revenues of the prior three years. Under the bill, all government agencies would also be required to receive written approval from the Treasury Secretary before taking on new debt or face up to five years in prison.
The slow progress in negotiations appears to be due to coordination problems, lack of transparency, and likely disagreement between Chinese and Western governments on debt relief measures. Opaque loan terms, private contracts and hidden debt are common challenges in negotiating Chinese loans, and the same is true in Zambia. Lack of transparency in Chinese contracts has made Western bilateral creditors weary of Chinese commitments to debt restructuring, although it is also likely that Chinese negotiators themselves are experiencing difficulty coordinating the disparate creditors belonging to Chinese state institutions and private companies as they navigate negotiations for the first time. As Zambia is China's first foray into debt restructuring under the G-20 framework, previous debt negotiations have limited applicability to China's position on Zambian talks. However, Sri Lanka and Pakistan's recent attempts to pursue debt forgiveness with China have illustrated Beijing's tendency to restructure loans rather than to forgive them, in contrast to most Western creditors. Chinese restructuring often means extended time horizons, so that while the immediate debt servicing costs are postponed for the borrower — thereby averting default — the debtor country ends up paying more interest in the long term. In other cases, such as Pakistan, China addressed debt sustainability by granting new loans to cover old ones without dipping into foreign currency reserves. China's finance ministry is the biggest shareholder of policy lenders like China Development Bank and Exim Bank, which means that it will suffer the losses of write-offs and restructuring interest-free loans, which could explain the reported hesitancy.

The following Chinese creditors have given loans to the Zambian government from 2001 to 2019: China International Development Cooperation Agency; Eximbank of China ($5 billion); Eximbank/ICBC ($1.5 billion); China Development Bank ($.5 billion); Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (1.5 billion); and the Bank of China ($.4 billion). Zambia also received $1.3 billion from various other, smaller Chinese creditors during this time period.
In 2020, China agreed to defer payments on an undisclosed amount of loans to Zambia in bilateral negotiations.
On June 24, Pakistani Finance Minister Miftah Ismail announced that a consortium of Chinese state banks had agreed to give Pakistan's central bank $2.3 billion in new loans as a way of rolling over $2 billion in previous loans coming due in June and July.
In 2018, China forgave some existing interest on a 10-year $4 billion loan for an Ethiopian railway, but also extended the loan's repayment term by 20 years.
While the Zambian finance ministry's recent cancellation of undisbursed loans shows Chinese willingness to make concessions, China's economic slowdown and concerns over setting costly precedents may curtail the extent to which China is willing to extend debt forgiveness, thereby making some form of compromise the most likely outcome. In February, local activist organizations and the Jubilee Debt Campaign U.K. estimated that Zambia had the capacity to repay between $2.8 billion and $3.5 billion of debt over the next 14 years, leaving the remainder for external and/or domestic creditors to write off. This would mean that some private and bilateral lenders would have to forgive the majority of their loans, which appears unlikely given Chinense lenders' histories. China's recent economic downturn likely further reduces the possibility of ''haircuts,'' as alleviating foreign debt could come with domestic political costs and additional economic constraints. Additionally, Reuters reported on May 31 that a source involved in negotiations said that China's central bank is willing to move ahead. But China's finance ministry has been wary of setting a costly precedent — in particular for Chinese development banks — if it grants large concessions by way of a debt write-off, or ''haircuts'' to Zambia. On the other hand, Beijing has spent billions on its political and economic influence campaign in sub-Saharan Africa in recent decades, which means that — despite the myriad factors constraining debt forgiveness — it is unlikely to abandon negotiations in Zambia due to the negative message it would send to its African partners. As negotiations stretch on and the disbursement of the $1.4 billion IMF package becomes more urgent, it is possible that Western creditors will be more willing to accept Chinese concessions falling short of write-offs, making some combination of relief the most likely outcome.

Zambian Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane told reporters in May that the relief program could require a ''haircut,'' stretching the payment period, adjusting interest rates, or some combination of these measures.
The Zambian negotiations will provide other borrowers with a sense of how China could handle debt talks in the future, particularly in Africa. Over the next seven years, 35% of African governments' external debt service is due to non-Chinese private lenders, compared with 19% due to Chinese lenders. Even so, China's role in debt restructuring will become increasingly relevant for particular cases in which China owns a large proportion of debt, especially as the list of African countries at high risk of debt distress grows. Angola, Ethiopia and the Republic of Congo are three cases that meet both criteria, as each country has a high percentage of external Chinese debt and faces a high risk of default. Of these three, Ethiopia is the only country pursuing debt restructuring under the G-20 Common Framework and therefore likely has the most to glean from China's position on Zambia. Given the differences in debt composition, Zambian negotiations do not represent a ''one-size-fits-all'' approach. However, the results of the Zambian creditor committee's negotiations could provide insights into how willing China may be to forgive (rather than restructure) debt if and when defaults occur.

Ethiopia's $44 billion of public debt is increasingly difficult for the government to service, given rising inflation and its depreciating currency. China accounts for an estimated $13.7 billion (almost a third) of Ethiopia's total public debt, and Addis Ababa spends almost twice as much to service Chinese debt than private debt. China has a key role to play as Ethiopia also attempts to secure debt restructuring under the G-20 Common Framework.

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Stratfor: Coastal West Africa and the Jihadis
« Reply #20 on: September 03, 2022, 04:56:14 AM »
How Coastal West Africa Is Responding to an Expanding Jihadist Threat
12 MIN READSep 2, 2022 | 14:30 GMT





A British soldier leaves the Hombori area aboard a Chinook helicopter on March 28, 2019 during the start of the French Barkhane Force operation in Mali's Gourma region.
A British soldier leaves the Hombori area aboard a Chinook helicopter on March 28, 2019 during the start of the French Barkhane Force operation in Mali's Gourma region.

(DAPHNE BENOIT/AFP via Getty Images)

By David Newman, RANE Global Security Analyst

Growing insecurity in Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria is forcing littoral West African nations to reckon with a rising jihadist threat to their territories, but their military-led approach is unlikely to be successful absent broader improvements to governance, economic development and regional coordination. Mali and Burkina Faso have faced worse deterioration in their security environments than has Nigeria. After the junta seized power in May 2021, Mali has grown increasingly alienated from the international community, as evidenced by France's recently completed withdrawal from the country in August 2022; the EU suspension of elements of its training mission in April 2022; Mali's withdrawal from the Group of Five (G5) Sahel in May 2022; and its ongoing tense relationship with the U.N. peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA, short for the U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali). Especially since France began its withdrawal in February, jihadist groups like Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) have exploited the resulting security vacuum and expanded their activities southward from Mali's northern and central regions to the capital of Bamako, which they now directly threaten. In Burkina Faso, a January 2022 coup — ostensibly driven by frustrations over the government's inability to stop jihadist attacks — has not led to any clear improvements in security, and jihadists continue to expand their geographic reach. As a result of the western Sahel's deteriorating security, Cote d'Ivoire, Togo, Benin and Ghana have experienced a spike in jihadist activity, and militants in Mali and Burkina Faso have increasingly carried out cross-border attacks. To the east, Nigeria's security has not meaningfully improved — and in some cases has deteriorated — under President Muhammadu Buhari's administration, most notably demonstrated by the fact that the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) continues to expand geographically and stage attacks farther from its northeast operating bases to the point that it threatens the capital of Abuja. In conjunction with an ever-turbulent northwest region plagued by bandit gangs and the al Qaeda-linked Ansaru jihadist group, this expansion has allowed Islamist militant groups to forge relationships and transport resources across borders.

Highlighting jihadist geographic expansion in Mali, on July 20, Katibat Macina, a local group affiliated with JNIM, attacked Mali's main military base and the residence of interim President Assimi Goita, located approximately 15 kilometers (about 9 miles) from Bamako.

Togo, Benin and Cote d'Ivoire have all experienced cross-border jihadist attacks from neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso over the past year. The tri-border region between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger has been a hotbed for JNIM and ISGS attacks and cross-border transport for years now, and ISWAP continues to wage an insurgency in Niger's Diffa region in the Lake Chad Basin region it shares with Nigeria and Cameroon. Ghana has not yet experienced such attacks, but in early July, militants from Burkina Faso crossed into Ghana's Upper East Region in pursuit of Burkinabe citizens fleeing attacks in the notoriously porous border region.

Reflecting jihadist groups' focus on local recruitment and suggesting an emerging threat to Benin, JNIM featured two fighters speaking Bariba — one of the languages used by local communities living in northern Benin — in a recruitment video the group circulated on social media in early August. Meanwhile, a recent report from a local Ghanaian news source estimated that jihadist organizations have recruited 200-300 Ghanaian citizens in Burkina Faso.

A March 2022 report by the South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies noted that violent extremists take advantage of local conflicts and porous borders to traffic resources like arms and motorbikes from Nigeria through Benin and Togo to Burkina Faso. Such a free flow of resources enables groups to fund their operations, make valuable contacts, support recruitment efforts, and more deeply infiltrate the coastal states overall.

In response to the expanded threat, coastal West African states have adopted a military-led approach to counterterrorism through increased border security and bilateral agreements. Over the past year, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin have all increased troop deployments to their northern border regions in an attempt to stave off jihadist encroachment. With relatively small and generally poorly trained and equipped militaries ranging from approximately 10,000-16,000 active personnel, however, governments are attempting to bolster their defense capabilities through bilateral agreements with regional states and major foreign partners. Having just completed its withdrawal from Mali, France is repositioning a reduced troop deployment in Niger and has offered further security cooperation with other West African states including Benin and Cote d'Ivoire. West African states are also seeking arms, training and other forms of security cooperation from major global partners like the United States, the European Union, Turkey, China and Russia. With a heightened focus on border security, governments have been particularly interested in acquiring drone technologies for border surveillance and perhaps targeted strikes. Beyond major foreign partners, West African states are also seeking to strengthen regional bilateral relationships to carry out joint operations and share intelligence. Since July 2022, for example, Niger has signed a military cooperation agreement with neighboring Benin and agreed to begin conducting joint operations with Burkina Faso in its border regions, while Togo reportedly increased its intelligence sharing with Burkina Faso and Ghana following a July 15 attack in its northern Savanes region.

In 2021, West Africa accounted for more than 40% of defense spending in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the U.K.-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. Highlighting the worsening threat environment, Benin, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Senegal all increased defense spending by more than 20% from 2020-2021, even as the majority of other sub-Saharan African countries decreased defense spending. The largest arms exporters to sub-Saharan Africa from 2016-2020 were Russia, China, France and the United States, in that order.
France intends to keep about 2,500 troops in the Sahel, including about 1,300 troops in Niger, 700-1,000 troops in Chad and a few hundred troops in Burkina Faso. French President Emmanuel Macron has also stated his intent to ensure that France offers further security cooperation with littoral West African states, as evidenced by his July 27 visit to Benin, which was preceded by the French Armed Forces Minister Sebastien Lecornu's July 16 visit to Cote d'Ivoire. That said, rising anti-French sentiment in the region (which had helped drive its departure from Mali) will likely make coastal governments more likely to seek less-visible French military support, such as weapons and training, rather than large troop deployments.

Despite U.S. Africa Command being notably under-resourced compared to other U.S. regional combatant commands, the United States maintains a military presence in Ghana, Senegal, Niger and Burkina Faso. In February 2022, the annual U.S.-led Operation Flintlock exercise, a counterterrorism and counterinsurgency training program, was for the first time held in Cote d'Ivoire with Niger, Ghana and Cameroon as additional participants.

Turkey has reached various military cooperation agreements with several West African states — including Niger, Benin, Nigeria and Cote d'Ivoire — with the most recent deals signed with Togo in August 2021 and Senegal in February 2022. Some of these deals include the Turkish sale of its acclaimed TB2 Bayraktar armed drones, which African states likely intend to bolster their airstrike and surveillance capabilities without the costlier equipment and training required for more technically complex conventional airstrike capabilities with manned aircraft.

Despite these military moves, poor governance and economic challenges will limit coastal states' ability to limit jihadist expansion. In addition to securing borders, the effectiveness of each state's counterterrorism efforts will also hinge on its ability to win the "hearts and minds" of border communities most vulnerable to jihadist recruitment and/or coercion. This will be a challenge, however, because many coastal states possess a clear "north-south" divide, where there is a Muslim-majority north that feels neglected if not outright discriminated against. In addition to being closer physically to Sahelian jihadist groups, these northern areas have seen far less economic development, have vastly less physical infrastructure, and receive far fewer government services compared to the southern parts of the country that typically house the centers of government power and economic activity. Residing in countries that are already some of the least developed in the world amid rising food insecurity, global commodity prices and youth unemployment, these communities are particularly susceptible to violent extremists, who have proven adept at exploiting local grievances to recruit and insinuate themselves into local communities. While West African states have acknowledged the importance of addressing terrorism's root causes, and some have launched development and education initiatives to supplement their heightened security deployments, these efforts are in their infancy and largely more rhetorically than practically significant. This means that the balance remains heavily on the side of military initiatives, with the attendant risk that they either mistakenly or even deliberately harm civilians and risk communal alienation that jihadist groups could exploit.

Highlighting the north-south divide in coastal states, a 2019 World Bank report noted that while the extreme poverty rate in Ghana has drastically declined over the past three decades, inequality in the country has widened, with poverty now heavily concentrated in three northern regions. The same is true for neighboring coastal states: for example, the poverty rate in Togo's northernmost region was 74.6% but just 23.7% in its southernmost region in 2015.

A May 2022 report by the Morocco-based Policy Center for the New South noted government discrimination and social exclusion directed toward ethnic Fulani pastoralists in both the Sahel and coastal West Africa. Al Qaeda-linked groups have historically exploited this dynamic to recruit from Fulani populations across the region, as evidenced in June 2021, when JNIM used an ethnic Fulani Ghanaian to carry out a suicide bombing against French forces in Mali.

On July 9, the Togolese military carried out an airstrike in the northern Tone prefecture of the Savanes region that killed seven teenagers after mistaking them for a group of militants. Within a week, the Beninese army killed a Fulani pastoralist after mistaking him for a JNIM fighter in its northern Alibori region. While these two incidents reflect the risk of mistakenly targeting civilians, a July 2022 Amnesty International report noted that heightened security deployments in Togo and Benin have also led to the arbitrary arrests of individuals based on their ethnic Fulani identity, among other human rights abuses. If such abuses continue, they risk leading to direct targeting of civilians in military operations and extrajudicial killings, which in Mali resulted in its soldiers (and allegedly Russian private contractors) summarily executing more than 300 civilians (the majority of whom were ethnic Fulani) in the village of Moura in March 2022.

Togo's Inter-Ministerial Committee for the Prevention and Fight Against Violent Extremism was formed in 2019 and seeks to study the vulnerabilities in local communities that can push young people toward extremist groups and to promote civil-military relations in its north. In July 2022, the Ghanaian government launched a "See Something, Say Something" campaign and created a hotline for citizens to report suspicious activity. While it is too early to evaluate the efficacy of such preventive measures, it will likely hinge on governments addressing much deeper and harder to combat socioeconomic and political challenges in regions vulnerable to jihadist exploitation. For example, according to Ghanaian government statistics, the majority of populations living in the northern regions of the country do not own a phone of any kind nor have access to the internet — both of which would be essential to contacting the hotline to report suspicious activity.

At the broader regional level, multilateral institutions and initiatives will continue to face funding shortfalls, disputes among members, and command and control challenges that will limit effective counterterrorism cooperation and coordination. Among many others, the most notable components of the regional security architecture are the G5 Sahel Joint Force (now effectively G4 Sahel following Mali's departure in May); the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Standby Force, which is currently deployed in Guinea-Bissau; the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) that combats ISWAP and Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin; and the Accra Initiative, a multilateral security cooperation mechanism established by Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Togo in 2017 (with Mali and Niger as observers). While varied in terms of size and structure, all of these share common challenges including insufficient funding, overlapping responsibilities, and disunity among member states that hinder consistent and effective operations; this is especially because they risk overcrowding the security space with overlapping and at times conflicting geographic spheres of responsibility that regional states with severe capacity constraints are ill-equipped to balance. Finally, the effectiveness of all these initiatives depends on what often can be tense relations among member states, meaning interstate disputes can hamper counterterrorism progress.

ECOWAS has the most developed and institutionalized counterterrorism mechanisms, but the bloc has yet to actually implement such strategies despite their being years old, causing member states to look to coalitions of the willing like MNJTF and G5 Sahel Joint Force for counterterrorism support. These coalitions, however, are heavily reliant on external funding from the United States, France and the European Union meaning that the support will wax and wane with the political will and policy changes of these countries regardless of the urgency with which coastal states perceive it.

The most prominent recent demonstration of interstate disputes hampering regional counterterrorism efforts can be seen in Mali's May 15 withdrawal from the G5 Sahel due to the other member states' refusal to allow the Malian junta to assume the rotating presidency. Even before Mali withdrew, an April U.N. monitoring report noted that the G5 Sahel defense ministers had not met since November 2021, and a follow-up report in June said that since the start of 2022, the joint force conducted only three reconnaissance missions in the tri-border region between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.

While some member states may seek to revive or restructure the G5 Sahel Joint Force, littoral West African states may also look to the Accra Initiative as another avenue for multilateral counterterrorism operations in the region. Having only conducted four joint operations since its founding in 2017, the Accra Initiative will also struggle to acquire sufficient funding for future operations and will have to manage interstate tensions to be fully effective.

Crafty_Dog

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FA: Africa's Ukraine Dilema
« Reply #21 on: September 05, 2022, 11:42:17 AM »


Africa’s Ukraine Dilemma
Why the Continent Is Caught Between Russia and the West
By Nanjala Nyabola
September 5, 2022
A tank destroyed in Ethiopia’s civil war, Afar region, Ethiopia, February 2022
A tank destroyed in Ethiopia’s civil war, Afar region, Ethiopia, February 2022
Tiksa Negeri / Reuters
https://www.foreignaffairs.com/africa/africa-ukraine-dilemma-between-russia-west


As Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine enters its seventh month, many African countries have yet to show strong support for Kyiv, to the chagrin of Western leaders. In the early days of the conflict, after 17 African countries declined to back a UN resolution condemning Russia, several European diplomats assigned to African capitals made a grand show of browbeating African leaders for not taking a stand against the invasion. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, in particular, was the target of some strikingly undiplomatic tweets, with Riina Kionka, at the time the EU’s ambassador to Pretoria, writing that “we were puzzled because [South Africa] sees itself and is seen by the world as a country championing human rights.”

Despite continued Western pressure, however, the situation has not changed much in the months since. In July, for example, French President Emmanuel Macron traveled to central Africa and West Africa to rally support for Ukraine, yet he managed only to rankle many African leaders when he accused them of “hypocrisy” for refusing to condemn the war. By contrast, during a visit to multiple African countries that same month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov emphasized Russia’s ties with the continent and portrayed Russia as a “victim” in Ukraine. To date, only a handful of African countries—Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria among them—have taken a strong stance on the war, and even these have focused primarily on denouncing aggression more broadly and on general calls for diplomacy and peace rather than on specific criticism of Moscow.

Although leaders in the West are puzzled by these developments, there are clear reasons for African countries’ reluctance to embrace the Western narrative about Ukraine. For one thing, Africa is a huge, complicated, and highly diverse continent, and its 54 countries and territories each have unique circumstances and histories, as well as different relations to both Russia and the West. It would be unreasonable—and condescending—to assume that the continent's leaders could unify around a single position instantaneously. When African countries have come together around a common position in the past, it has often been after years of deliberation, as with the transition from the Organization of African Unity to the African Union, which took place in 2002 but had been in the works since the late 1990s. On other occasions, a common front has been driven by a specific and urgent threat such as the Mano River Ebola outbreak or the COVID-19 pandemic, which African countries knew they could not weather without a united front. For Africa, Russia’s war in Ukraine has neither of these qualities.

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Moreover, the skepticism in African capitals about taking the Western side in a faraway war in Europe is also rooted in a power imbalance between the West and African countries that routinely plays out as structural violence. Beyond many historical injustices that go unacknowledged—let alone accounted for—contemporary forms of injustice persist. Leaders of Western nations are quick to sweep violent colonial and neocolonial histories under the rug while African countries continue to deal with their consequences. Consider the COVID-19 pandemic, in which African countries were left begging for medicines and vaccines that Western nations were throwing away by the millions, compounding the sense of conditional friendship. Once Russia’s own efforts to sway African countries are added to the mix, history makes it difficult for the United States and its European allies to build an African coalition against Moscow.

PUTIN AND THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS
Of course one explanation for African reluctance to fall into line with the West on Ukraine is Russia’s own activities in Africa. As Western governments and analysts have noted, Moscow has been engaged in a large-scale disinformation campaign, particularly online, to shape African opinion about the conflict. This effort builds on previous Russian disinformation campaigns that have affected political processes elsewhere, including in the United States. In May, The Economist published a study of Twitter accounts used to spread Russian disinformation about the war; a large number of these accounts were based in Africa and seemed to be deliberately targeting African communities.

One doctored image shared widely by African Twitter accounts since the war began purportedly showed a young Putin with former President of Mozambique Samora Machel in a Tanzanian training camp for freedom fighters in the 1970s. In reality, no such meetings could have occurred: Putin is not old enough to have been in Tanzania when these photographs would have been taken. But the images went viral, in part because they served to reinforce African grievances about the West’s colonial legacy on the continent. Indeed, Machel later died in a mysterious plane crash that South Africa’s Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission linked to the Apartheid government in South Africa, at the time a Western ally.


Russia claims it is on the right side of African history.
The wars of decolonization in Africa are not ancient history. As recently as 2018, a group of living victims of the British colonial government in Kenya successfully sued the British government for the torture they endured in internment camps during Kenya’s independence war in the 1950s. Other Cold War injustices are only beginning to be addressed. In June of this year, the Belgian government returned, to the descendants of the victim, a gold-crowned tooth that belonged to Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who was assassinated by a Belgian execution squad in 1961 in a U.S.-backed plot.

For many of these countries, communism provided an alternative to Western colonialism and a basis for twentieth-century African independence movements—a legacy that has allowed contemporary Russia, as a successor state to the Soviet Union, to portray itself as on the right side of African history. Of course, Soviet support for decolonization movements did not come only from Russia: much of it came from other parts of the communist bloc including Ukraine. But Russia has adeptly claimed this reputation and exploited Africa’s complicated relationship with the West.

BETTER ARMED THAN ALLIED
A second reason African countries have been slow to support Ukraine stems from differences between the way African countries and their Western counterparts view contemporary geopolitics. Many of the governments currently pivoting to Russia—including Mali, Ethiopia, and Uganda —owe their political survival to Russian support. For instance, Russia is a key weapons supplier, and has provided military support through mercenary forces like the Wagner Group, to many of the African countries that abstained from the UN vote condemning Russian aggression. Today, Russia is the largest weapons exporter to Africa, accounting for 44 percent of weapons purchases between 2017 and 2021 on the continent, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. (Ukraine is also a weapons supplier to some African countries, particularly South Sudan.)

Notably, several African leaders with longtime Western backing have not hesitated to cultivate Russian military support. With Western support, for example, Yoweri Museveni has ruled Uganda for 38 years; Paul Biya has ruled Cameroon for 40. Both have been able to remain in office, in the face of copious evidence of crimes against their people. (Macron was in Cameroon when he made his remark about hypocrisy.) Yet, although the United States trains Ugandan soldiers to fight on its behalf in countries like Somalia, Uganda primarily buys its arms from Russia and  had the sharpest increase in military expenditure in Africa in 2020. Similarly, Cameroon, which is a major beneficiary of French largesse, signed a weapons deal with Moscow in April 2022, shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. For authoritarian regimes, efforts to play off both sides ties has reinforced the continent's ambivalence toward Ukraine.


The last time Africans were asked to take sides, countries were devastated and millions died.
But for other countries, what Macron calls hypocrisy is more plausibly understood as conflict fatigue.  After all, Africa has experienced, and continues to experience, many intractable wars of its own. During the Cold War, many African wars were proxy battles between the Soviet Union and the United States. Although Western powers have been slow to recognize it, the legacy of those conflicts—including in Angola, the DRC, Mozambique, and elsewhere—continues to cast a long shadow on many parts of the continent. The last time Africans were asked to take sides in a war between West and East, countries were devastated, and millions of people died.

In his classic essay on decolonization, “Concerning Violence,” published in his 1961 book The Wretched of the Earth, the psychiatrist and political philosopher Frantz Fanon wrote that “neutralism produces in the citizen of the third world … a fearlessness and an ancestral pride resembling defiance.” He argued that for African countries, staying neutral was necessary for survival. But he criticized African leaders for allowing neutralism to fuel foreign efforts to militarize the continent. Today, the same pattern is emerging and the warning stands. Russia has already promised to expand weapons supplies to African countries in what is clearly an effort to buy their allegiances. Now, many activists and leaders in pro-democracy circles  fear that the continent is entering another period in which efforts by foreign powers to buy friends in African governments will herald a new era of poor leadership.

THE MISSING PEACE
African countries have a unique vantage point toward Russia’s war in Ukraine. Rather than inviting more of them to join in war, Western countries could use this opportunity to allow Africans to put into practice the lessons they have learned from generations of war on their own soil. The African Union has declared that one of its aims is “silencing the guns by 2030,” and African countries have some of the most complex mechanisms for peace and security in the world, in part because they are so frequently called into use. The Peace and Security Council of the African Union, for example, is a standing decision making body within the union, while sub-regional organizations such s the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have gone as far as building their own peacekeeping and early warning capacities. For those who have worked with such bodies, the overarching question about the war in Ukraine is, “Where are the peacemakers?” Aside from the UN Secretary General, they do not see much evidence of world leaders urging deescalation. Isn’t a conflict between Russia and the West the precise scenario that international diplomacy exists to address?

Indeed, African countries know how difficult ending wars can be. In East Africa alone, multiple conflicts are underway, including in eastern DRC, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan. Several of these have been devastating: there is mounting evidence of genocide in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, and Sudanese people continue to struggle for an end to military rule as other countries—including Russia—offer the military regime military and financial support. These conflicts have triggered interventions by the African Union, the Inter-Governmental Agency for Development, and the East African Community, not to mention a few bilateral efforts at mediation. Some of these wars have been raging for a generation. African countries’ collective hesitation to be drawn into Ukraine must be interpreted, in part, in light of this visceral awareness of the long-term harm that wars on the continent have produced.

History reminds African countries to approach the conflict in Ukraine with caution and to treat claims of friendship with suspicion. For many Africans, the current overtures from both Russia and the West are not about friendship. They are about using Africa as a means to an end. Authoritarian leaders like Biya can and have reaped benefits from the war. But the dominant African position, given the large uncertainties about the war and its outcome, has been to demand peace and urge diplomacy—and, whenever possible, to avoid having to take sides in a conflict that seems unlikely to offer much to Africa, particularly if it turns the continent into a new theater of proxy war

Crafty_Dog

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Burkina Faso to French: Get out!
« Reply #22 on: January 24, 2023, 05:04:56 PM »
Burkina Faso's Government Demands a French Military Withdrawal
5 MIN READJan 24, 2023 | 21:10 GMT


The French military withdrawal from Burkina Faso will likely accelerate the spread of the jihadist insurgencies already running rampant in the country, putting the capital and other coastal West African countries in greater danger of attack. This will increase the risk of political instability and worsen Burkina Faso's already poor economic outlook. Burkinabe government spokesman Jean-Emmanuel Ouedraogo on Jan. 23 confirmed that French troops must withdraw from Burkina Faso within one month — a call that first appeared on the state-owned Burkina Information Agency on Jan. 18 — ending days of uncertainty about the future of French operations in the country. French President Emmanuel Macron on Jan. 22 had said that he was awaiting clarification from Burkinabe interim President Ibrahim Traore directly, but Ouedraogo said the decision had been made and no confirmation was needed.

France has approximately 400 troops stationed in Burkina Faso to support local counterterrorism operations. The Burkinabe government now apparently has suspended the 2018 military accord that allowed this French military presence in the country.

The demand for France's withdrawal comes amid heightened anti-French sentiment and expanding jihadist insurgencies. Hundreds of protesters, some of whom held Russian flags, demonstrated Jan. 20-1 in the Burkinabe capital of Ouagadougou against France's continued military presence in the country. Similar demonstrations have occurred in the last few years given that many in Burkina Faso blame France for the various jihadist insurgencies that control nearly 40% of Burkina Faso's territory. While evidence suggests that French military cooperation in the Sahel has actually bolstered local military capabilities against jihadists, the insurgencies' spread has fueled allegations (in part perpetuated through Russian disinformation campaigns) that French operations represent Western imperialism and have failed to improve security. Traore took power in a military coup in September 2022, and so is not directly accountable to a public angry with the Burkinabe government's handling of rising insecurity and continued willingness to host French troops. That said, both Traore and his predecessor, Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba (who seized power in a January 2022 military coup after an intense round of anti-French protests), in part used anger over just these issues to overthrow two successive governments. Traore may now be attempting to preserve his own power within the military establishment by using France as a scapegoat for worsening insecurity.

Traore also tried and failed to secure new weapons contracts with both the United States and France, but reportedly has succeeded with some military equipment purchases from Russia in late 2022, so kicking France out will not necessarily mean Burkina Faso cannot still acquire weapons.

The French withdrawal from Burkina Faso may coincide with the introduction of Russian paramilitary forces, and will likely further degrade security in Burkina Faso and neighboring states, undermining political stability and economic growth. In December 2022, Burkina Faso's mines minister denied allegations by Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo that the Burkinabe government paid Russian mercenaries from the Russian paramilitary Wagner Group by giving them rights to a mine on Burkina Faso's southern border with Ghana. While these allegations were never proved or completely dispelled, France's departure from Burkina Faso makes a Wager deployment far more likely, as several African states (including Burkina Faso's northwestern neighbor Mali) have turned to the paramilitary group for military support and private security in recent years when relationships with Western partners deteriorated. If Wagner troops are, or will soon be, in Burkina Faso, their presence will likely worsen insecurity due to their regular human rights violations. As seen in Mali, such violations have hardened negative attitudes toward the government and driven jihadist recruitment. Even without a Wagner intervention in Burkina Faso, France's withdrawal portends reduced intelligence, communications, logistics and materiel capabilities for the Burkinabe military, which will very likely create opportunities for local branches of al Qaeda and the Islamic State to expand their operations. Given already high public discontent with insecurity, further jihadist encroachment — perhaps including increased strikes near the capital of Ouagadougou — is likely to stoke public anger, providing future windows for opportunistic military leaders to seize power as happened with Damiba and Traore. The French withdrawal will also raise the threat levels in neighboring West African states, where jihadist groups already target northern communities in Ghana, Benin, Togo and Cote d'Ivoire. Burkina Faso is already one of the world's poorest nations, and strengthened jihadist insurgencies will reinforce this status by inhibiting local business activity and trade; investor hesitancy is also likely to increase in neighboring states where jihadist activity is a growing threat.

More than 40% of the Burkinabe population lives below the global poverty line, and the country ranks 184 out of 191 in the 2021-22 Human Development Index report produced by the United Nations. Poor infrastructure, an arid climate and limited natural resources, among other challenges, have hampered Burkina Faso's economic growth for decades. Ongoing insurgencies also have constrained gold exports and agricultural production, further reducing growth prospects.