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Where’s Africa in China’s mega Belt and Road project?
May 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

China has welcomed African countries that have expressed interest in its massive trade plan, but this won’t be enough.

BY  YU-SHAN WU, CHRIS ALDEN & ELIZABETH SIDIROPOULOS*

China’s proposed one belt, one road route map. Credit: Shutterstock

China’s proposed one belt, one road route map. Credit: Shutterstock

Chinese President Xi Jinping made it clear at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos this January that the world should abandon protectionism and commit itself to an open global economy.

A recent summit in Beijing that focused on China’s most ambitious foreign policy to date – the Belt and Road initiative – added texture to this call.

The grand vision was launched in 2013 originally as the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. It involves China underwriting billions of dollars of infrastructure investment in countries along the old Silk Road, linking it with a network of countries in Europe, Asia and Africa.

At the centre of the plan are two physical routes: the Silk Road Economic Belt, stretching from Asia to Europe; and the Maritime Silk Road that begins in China and passes along the Indian Ocean littoral to East Africa and then Europe.

Because of its high ambitions, the initiative has been criticised for being unachievable. Critics are also questioning the impact it may have on countries that are not officially linked to the routes.

For some countries, including BRICS stalwarts like India, the project challenges the current global order, replacing it with a Sino-centric one. Others believe the initiative presents an alternative approach to globalisation in an era where powers like the US seem intent on increasing protectionism and retreating from their global leadership role.

China has maintained that it is committed to taking an inclusive approach to trade and diplomacy. In a 2015 white paper it reiterated that the development of the initiative was open and welcomed the active participation of all countries and international organisations.

Thanks to the initiative’s massive financial ambitions, it’s likely to have a ripple effect on a number of regions. For example, the impact could be felt across Africa, although its significance in relation to other regions remains unclear. It could help the continent plug its infrastructure deficit, a necessary step for economic growth on the continent and in particular industrialisation.

Meeting of minds

This isn’t the first attempt to revive the ancient trade routes. There have been attempts by the European Union, US, Russia and even India to reconstruct the ancient Silk Road that linked Asia and Europe in particular.

What makes China’s attempt different is the commitment of President Xi, as well as the numerous agreements – such as the 130 transport pacts – it has already signed with partner countries along the route.

China made clear from the beginning that the initiative wouldn’t get off the ground without widespread participation. As such, the summit was positioned as an opportunity to build consensus.

The overall plan aims to provide a commitment of some $1 trillion in future funding. And China used the summit as an opportunity to increase the Silk Fund from $40 billion to $100 billion.

China is using the Belt and Road initiative as an opportunity to position itself diplomatically on the global stage. This was clear from the summit which provided a platform for the country to amplify its voice on the world stage.

Over 50 countries took part. This included the presidents of Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, Vietnam and Uzbekistan. Representatives of the United Nations, International Monetary Fund and World Bank also attended.

As scholar Gregory Chin explains in China’s Bold Economic Statecraft, global relations are under constant negotiation. They are increasingly characterised by shifting alignments rather than fixed alliances.

China understands the opportunities presented by this state of flux.

Where does Africa feature?

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta attended the summit, along with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry and Tunisia’s Minister of Culture.

Kenya’s presence was particularly significant because East Africa has been the main focus of the initiative on the continent.

While this may be of concern to other African countries, China is also supportive of Africa’s homegrown development plan as set out in the African Union’s Agenda 2063. There are clear synergies with the Belt and Road initiative that support greater connectivity.

As African countries have expressed interest, China has responded, at least rhetorically, in favour of their inclusion.

Yet this won’t be enough. Support from African countries is key. And success depends on them providing adequate security to protect the investment environment.

More broadly, African governments will need to promote an enabling environment for projects to succeed, particularly if, as envisaged, the private sector plays a key role in Belt and Road projects.

*African Arguments.This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.The Conversation

 

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Remarks by Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, at the G7 Summit, May 26-27, 2017, Taormina, Italy
May 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

Your Excellencies, I wish to thank Prime Minister Gentiloni for inviting me to participate at this G7 Summit. It sends a major message: the G7 takes Africa seriously and sees the African Development Bank as a strategic partner. Let me thank you all in the G7 for your strong support for the African Development Bank.

The new spring in our step for Africa’s development comes from the Bank’s High 5 priorities: Light up and power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa. These High 5s will help to achieve 90% of the Sustainable Development Goals for Africa and 90% of Agenda 2063.

Africa needs innovation. This is crucial for access to energy, because 645 million Africans do not have access to electricity. Africa cannot develop in the dark. Africa needs an energy revolution.

That is why the Bank is investing $12 billion over the next five years in the energy sector as well as to leverage up to $50 billion, to address this challenge. We are investing in unlocking Africa’s renewable energy potential, especially innovations on solar power. Our goal is to connect 130 million households to grids and 75 million households to off-grid solar systems within ten years. To light up and power Africa is the biggest deal of the century.

Even insects migrate from where it is dark to where there is light. No wonder Africa’s youth – our assets – take huge risks migrating to Europe, looking for a better life. The future of Africa’s youth does not lie in migration to Europe; it should not be at the bottom of the Mediterranean; it lies in a prosperous Africa. We must create greater economic opportunities for our youth right at home in Africa.

That’s why the African Development Bank has launched the Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative, with the goal of creating 25 million jobs within 10 years, with a focus on agriculture and ICT. We are investing in skills development in computer sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics to prepare the youths for the jobs of the future.

But we must also avoid what I call the “triangle of disaster” – that deadly combination of extreme rural poverty, high youth unemployment and environmental climate degradation. Where these factors are found, they provide rich recruitment zones for terrorists.

We must turn rural areas from zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity. This requires new agricultural innovations and transforming agriculture into a sector for creating wealth. We must make agriculture a really cool choice for young people. The future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will come initially from agriculture.

Africa is leading globally today on mobile banking, taking advantage of rapid growth in the use of mobile phones (and President Kenyatta explained this brilliantly this morning). Innovations in digital finance will be critical to reaching the unbanked – especially women. No bird can fly with one wing. Africa will develop faster when it achieves equality for women.

That’s why the Bank launched the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) to help leverage $3 billion for women in Africa. Women are bankable, after all 97% of them pay back their loans. (Don’t ask me what the corresponding figure is for men.)

But we also need innovation in our perspectives. I want you to please see Africa differently – not just as a place for economic development, but as an investment growth frontier.

So, let’s talk business: Africa will have the same population as India and China today, taken together, by 2050. Consumer spending in Africa is projected to reach $1.4 trillion in the next three years and business-to-business spending to reach $3.5 trillion in the next eight years. And Africa is reforming, making itself open for business: it accounted for 30% of global business and regulatory reforms in 2016.

The G7 should look at Africa as a huge investment opportunity.

To help unlock massive private investments in Africa, the African Development Bank together with our partners will be launching the Africa Investment Forum next year. This will be a totally transactional forum that will be all about making deals happen and fast-tracking investments in Africa by pension, sovereign wealth, insurance funds and other institutional investors. It will provide the platform for the success of the Compact with Africa being developed through Chancellor Merkel’s excellent leadership.

So, Africa’s huge investment opportunities and innovations beckon you – from agriculture and agribusiness, to energy, health, ICT, infrastructure and financial services. And the African Development Bank will be there to help advance private-sector investments from G7 countries in Africa.

Together with the G7, let’s innovate. Let’s give Africa a High 5.

Thank you very much.

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Opinion: The ‘door of return’ is open for people of African descent
May 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Kamil Olufowobi*

My school years in the US were marked by many heated debates between African and African-American students about who was guiltier for the transatlantic slave trade: whites or Africans?

Who should pay whom or who should apologize to whom? In retrospect, I should have advocated more for reconciliation among people of African descent rather than restitution or reparations by whites, which I had previously advocated mainly because every other group; Jewish or Japanese-Americans, received monies from the US government for historical wrongdoings.
This is still important but I believe less pressing than the healing that needs to happen between a people divided.

Change of heart

The diaspora in the context of Africa evokes in my mind a people who were, by force or by choice, estranged from their homeland, while the homeland of Africa evokes in my mind a diverse land (54 countries) of milk and honey with limited skills to distribute the wealth.
Like the story of two siblings, where one sold the other into slavery, Africa and its diaspora are sometimes deeply divided and each finding their way through the wilderness alone, forgetting that united we stand, divided we fall.
There are around 200 million people identifying themselves as being of African descent who live in the Americas. Many millions more live in other parts of the world, outside of the African continent. Whether as descendants of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade or as more recent migrants, we constitute some of the poorest and most marginalized groups.

Discrimination

In many cases, people of African descent still experience discrimination in recognition of our achievements, access to justice, and face alarmingly high rates of police violence and racial profiling. Casual racism has become commonplace in the United States and many attribute this to the election of President Trump and his anti-foreigner stance during the election campaign.
Furthermore, our degree of political participation is often low, both in voting and in occupying political positions. This racial discrimination lessens when inside Africa but problems of poverty, corruption and conflicts replaces it. The one thing we seem to have in common, that binds us regardless of where we find ourselves, inside or outside Africa, is the misery that’s become synonymous with the black experience.

The door of return

So, when I learned that the United Nations had proclaimed 2015 — 2024, the International Decade for People of African Descent, I saw an opportunity to reconnect the broken bridge between Africa and its diaspora, control the narrative about the black experience and help heal the pains and resentment between long lost siblings.
While our ancestors left Africa bound and chained through the doomed ‘doors of no return,’ I firmly believe that reconciliation and prosperity can offer a ‘door of return’ for people of African descent back to Africa.

Collective goal

This led me on journey to create the global civil society initiative: The Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD), born out of the desire to bring together a progressive group to support the United Nations’ resolution declaring the years 2015 — 2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent to combat racism, xenophobia and intolerance of Africa and its people worldwide.
MIPAD is a unique global list that identifies 200 high achievers, under the age of 40, of African descent in public and private sectors worldwide. Hundred of them live inside Africa, and 100 outside Africa in the diaspora. The idea is to connect them with their counterparts across the world. There are well known African names such as Senegalese musician Akon, British actor David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyongo but there are also those whose ancestors are from Africa such as golfer Tiger Woods and Beyonce among many others.
The truth is that not all people of African descent will move back to Africa, this is not the goal, instead it is to know that wherever we are, inside or outside Africa, our unifying and collective goal is the uplifting of Africa as a continent, knowing that making Africa great again is key to the dignity and respect we seek as a people.
*CNN.Kamil Olufowobi is Founder & CEO, Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) a global civil society initiative in support of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent. He is passionate about repairing the broken bridge between Africa and its diaspora in different parts of the world
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David Oyelowo Demands The Horrors Of Human Trafficking In Africa ‘Must Change’
May 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

He tells HuffPost he’s on a mission to eradicate human trafficking on the continent and around the world.

By Brennan Williams*

David Oyelowo is serious about inspiring positive change in the world.

GEANCO In addition to his scholarship for girls in Nigeria, Oyelowo says he wants to extend his humanitarian efforts to combat the global epidemic of human trafficking.

GEANCO
In addition to his scholarship for girls in Nigeria, Oyelowo says he wants to extend his humanitarian efforts to combat the global epidemic of human trafficking.

The actor will be honored on June 4 by the Diamond Empowerment Fund, a nonprofit co-founded by Russell Simmons, with the Diamonds Do Good International Vanguard Award. The award, which will be given to Oyelowo during the organization’s annual awards gala in Las Vegas, recognizes his achievements in the arts and in the educational empowerment of vulnerable girls in Nigeria.

Oyelowo told HuffPost that he prefers projects that showcase Africa’s overlooked history, such as “United Kingdom,” which highlighted Botswana’s role as a leading diamond-producing nation. In that film, Oyelowo plays Botswana’s first president, Sir Seretse Khama.

“My passion is really behind any African story that highlights the transcendent beauty and just the amazing quality of Africa and its people,” Oyelowo told HuffPost. “So whether it’s in ‘United Kingdom’ or whether it’s in ‘Queen of Katwe’ or other projects that I’m at the inception stages with, that’s what I’m fundamentally interested in and it just so happens that Botswana’s success story is tied into diamonds.”

The actor, who was born in England to Nigerian parents, adds that in addition to highlighting Africa’s abundant culture on the silver screen, he also wants to change the negative perception of Nigeria ― specifically as it pertains to the marginalization of women.

“One of the stories that isn’t a success story of course is surrounding the Chibok girls and what’s going on with Boko Haram, and what’s going on with the marginalization of women generally, not just in Nigeria, but on the African continent and around the world,” he said. “So for me, it’s about highlighting the great story, but also trying to change the narrative around the negative, because those are things that can and must change.”

ALBERT L. ORTEGA VIA GETTY IMAGES
David Oyelowo and his wife Jessica Oyelowo and children arrive for the premiere of Disney’s “Queen Of Katwe.”

Aside from his David Oyelowo Leadership Scholarship for Girls in Nigeria, the actor says he wants to extend his humanitarian efforts to combat the global epidemic of human trafficking.

“Going beyond the borders of Nigeria, human trafficking, modern-day slavery, sex trafficking, these are really disgusting things that are going on in society,” he said. “A lot of them are dealing with girls being pulled out of Africa. It’s happening within the continent itself. Even here in Los Angeles ― the San Fernando Valley, where I live ― it’s one of the worst hubs for human trafficking in the country.”

“So it’s on our doorstep, and it’s international. And if you’re a father of children, really it’s a thing that young people are being subjected to by those who prey upon them,” the actor continued. “It’s unthinkable to think about what’s going on out there. So anything and everything I can do, and my colleagues can do, to eradicate this is what I’m interested in.”

Sometimes with Hollywood specifically, we tend to rush after the buzzy, glamorous, attention-seeking initiatives and it’s not sustainable.”David Oyelowo

As many as 17,500 people are trafficked into the country every year, according to estimates from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with an estimated 21 million people trafficked around the globe.

And, according to the United Nations, sexual exploitation is the most common form of human trafficking in the world, and women and girls make up the largest proportion of victims.

Oyelowo is committed to reducing these startling statistics, regardless of public recognition.

JASON LAVERIS VIA GETTY IMAGES
Oyelowo encourages more of his peers in entertainment to commit themselves to humanitarian movements in order to see real change.

“I think that’s one of the problems with our society in general. And sometimes with Hollywood specifically, we tend to rush after the buzzy, glamorous, attention-seeking initiatives and it’s not sustainable,” he argued. “Anything that is for instant gratification for yourself will not last. This is a problem in terms of what’s going on in Nigeria, and specifically the marginalization of women.”

“If you’re looking in Hollywood, it’s not as egregious and injustice as sex trafficking and human trafficking but, when you look at sexism within the film industry, we have these moments when everyone pays it attention and then people forget,” he said.

Rather than participating in an occasional initiative for instant gratification, Oyelowo encourages more of his peers in entertainment to commit themselves to humanitarian movements in order to see real change.

“I’m a big believer in not focusing in on the big moment, but on the movement,” he said. “The movement is something that has to be perpetual. Once I attach myself to something I try to focus on it and not let go until the job is done, regardless if the cameras are on or not.”

“I think if more of us do that, the more will actually get done,” he added.

*Source Huffpost

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This is Why Africa Matters to the United States
May 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

Grant Harris (right), former special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs at the White House, joins Karen Attiah, global opinions editor at the Washington Post, for a Facebook Live discussion on the importance of US engagement in Africa.

Grant Harris (right), former special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs at the White House, joins Karen Attiah, global opinions editor at the Washington Post, for a Facebook Live discussion on the importance of US engagement in Africa.

The cuts to foreign aid proposed in US President Donald Trump’s new budget, if passed, would drastically diminish US influence in Africa, threaten US security interests, and make way for countries like China to fill the void, according to a former White House official.

We can’t be ceding this space to China and to other players to have them deepen their economic ties and their political ties and have the US really lose out,” said Grant Harris, who served as special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs at the White House from 2011 to 2015.

Trump’s new federal budget would put an end to important US engagement on the continent, engagement which, according to Harris, is vital for US national security.

This is the premise of his recently published Atlantic Council report: Why Africa Matters to US National Security. “Far too many people think that Africa is of secondary importance to US interests, where, in reality, it’s really important to US national security,” Harris said in a Facebook Live discussion with Karen Attiah, the global opinions editor with the Washington Post, at the Atlantic Council on May 25.

Why Africa Matters to US National Security

Why does stability in Africa matter for security in the United States? Karen Attiah from the Washington Post discusses why Africa is important to US national security interests with Grant Harris, former special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs at the White House. To learn more, read Harris’ new report: http://bit.ly/2qnK3oJ

Posted by Atlantic Council on Thursday, May 25, 2017

In order to stem the spread of transnational threats, from terrorism to pandemics, Africa must become stable, said Harris. However, achieving stability requires that the United States remain actively engaged, providing not only humanitarian assistance, but also promoting economic growth. “The budget cutbacks would hurt all of that,” he said.

Attiah noted that in the “new US political climate – it’s not just Africa—there’s a real sense that the US may be retreating from its role as a global leader.” This turn inward has opened the door for other nations, such as China, to strengthen their foothold in Africa.

 China is already actively engaged in providing funds to many African nations in desperate need of improved infrastructure. Attiah described how China’s influence in Africa is “visible,” down to details such as Chinese signs in airports throughout the continent. However, Harris said, while Chinese funding of infrastructure projects in many African countries is good for those countries, the projects have “no strings attached,” meaning there are no stipulations regarding labor regulations, human rights, or environmental concerns.

“The US holds itself to different standards, and it should,” said Harris. He insisted that principled engagement bolsters not only US influence, but strengthens relationships with African partners, who are becoming increasingly significant voices on the world stage. African votes make up more than a quarter of the votes in the United Nations, therefore, “we need African partners to advance [US] priorities,” said Harris.

Africa is vital not only to US national security interests, but to the United States’ European allies as well, Harris claimed, citing the migration crisis as a major concern.

Harris said that while his report stresses Africa’s importance to US national security, “even if you’re skeptical of what I’m saying, you’ve got to believe that European allies are important to national security.” Consequently, he said, while Europe seeks to promote stability in Africa in order to stem migration, the United States should engage as well, if not for its own interests, to promote the interest of its allies. “If the US retrenches and we pull back on our assistance… then we’re going to be part of the problem,” according to Harris.

Previous US administrations have promoted deep bipartisan engagement in Africa. Harris called for the Trump administration to follow suit, emphasizing the importance of a much-overlooked, but increasingly important part of the world.

*Allafrica.Rachel Ansley is an editorial assistant at the Atlantic Council.

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Africa is Not Poor, We Are Stealing Its Wealth
May 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

ANALYSIS

By Nick Dearden*

Africa is poor, but we can try to help its people.

It’s a simple statement, repeated through a thousand images, newspaper stories and charity appeals each year, so that it takes on the weight of truth. When we read it, we reinforce assumptions and stories about Africa that we’ve heard throughout our lives. We reconfirm our image of Africa.

Try something different. Africa is rich, but we steal its wealth.

That’s the essence of a report (pdf) from several campaign groups released today. Based on a set of new figures, it finds that sub-Saharan Africa is a net creditor to the rest of the world to the tune of more than $41bn. Sure, there’s money going in: around $161bn a year in the form of loans, remittances (those working outside Africa and sending money back home), and aid.

But there’s also $203bn leaving the continent. Some of this is direct, such as $68bn in mainly dodged taxes. Essentially multinational corporations “steal” much of this – legally – by pretending they are really generating their wealth in tax havens. These so-called “illicit financial flows” amount to around 6.1 per cent of the continent’s entire gross domestic product (GDP) – or three times what Africa receives in aid.

Then there’s the $30bn that these corporations “repatriate” – profits they make in Africa but send back to their home country, or elsewhere, to enjoy their wealth. The City of London is awash with profits extracted from the land and labour of Africa.

There are also more indirect means by which we pull wealth out of Africa. Today’s report estimates that $29bn a year is being stolen from Africa in illegal logging, fishing and trade in wildlife. $36bn is owed to Africa as a result of the damage that climate change will cause to their societies and economies as they are unable to use fossil fuels to develop in the way that Europe did. Our climate crisis was not caused by Africa, but Africans will feel the effect more than most others. Needless to say, the funds are not currently forthcoming.

In fact, even this assessment is enormously generous, because it assumes that all of the wealth flowing into Africa is benefitting the people of that continent. But loans to governments and the private sector (at more than $50bn) can turn into unpayable and odious debt.

 Ghana is losing 30 per cent of its government revenue to debt repayments, paying loans which were often made speculatively, based on high commodity prices, and carrying whopping rates of interest. One particularly odious aluminium smelter in Mozambique, built with loans and aid money, is currently costing the country £21 for every £1 that the Mozambique government received. British aid, which is used to set up private schools and health centres, can undermine the creation of decent public services, which is why such private schools are being closed down in Uganda and Kenya. Of course, some Africans have benefitted from this economy. There are now around 165,000 very rich Africans, with combined holdings of $860bn. But, given the way the economy works, where do these people mainly keep their wealth? In tax havens. A 2014 estimate suggests that rich Africans were holding a massive $500bn in tax havens. Africa’s people are effectively robbed of wealth by an economy that enables a tiny minority of Africans to get rich by allowing wealth to flow out of Africa.

So what is the answer? Western governments would like to be seen as generous beneficiaries, doing what they can to “help those unable to help themselves”. But the first task is to stop perpetuating the harm they are doing. Governments need to stop forcing African governments to open up their economy to privatisation, and their markets to unfair competition.

If African countries are to benefit from foreign investment, they must be allowed to – even helped to – legally regulate that investment and the corporations that often bring it. And they might want to think about not putting their faith in the extractives sector. With few exceptions, countries with abundant mineral wealth experience poorer democracy, weaker economic growth, and worse development. To prevent tax dodging, governments must stop prevaricating on action to address tax havens. No country should tolerate companies with subsidiaries based in tax havens operating in their country.

Aid is tiny, and the very least it can do, if spent well, is to return some of Africa’s looted wealth. We should see it both as a form of reparations and redistribution, just as the tax system allows us to redistribute wealth from the richest to the poorest within individual societies. The same should be expected from the global “society”.

To even begin to embark on such an ambitious programme, we must change the way we talk and think about Africa. It’s not about making people feel guilty, but correctly diagnosing a problem in order to provide a solution. We are not, currently, “helping” Africa. Africa is rich. Let’s stop making it poorer.

*Allafrica/Al Jazeera.Nick Dearden is the director of UK campaigning organisation Global Justice Now. He was previously the director of Jubilee Debt Campaign.

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West Africa: Ecowas Free Movement and Migration Project Launched in Accra
May 26, 2017 | 0 Comments
Mr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid

Mr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid

All citizens of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) can leave and enter any ECOWAS country and reside in it without any hindrance, Minister for Information, Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, has disclosed.

Mr Abdul-Hamid explained that the promotion of intra-regional migration for West African countries was part of a political and economic arrangement.

Addressing the media at the launch of the ECOWAS Free Movement and Migration Project in Accra on Wednesday, the Information Minister noted that when it came to migration issues, the focus of the Ghanaian media had largely dwelt on its negative consequences such as the involvement of migrants in unlawful activities that resulted in the destruction of the environment, including illegal mining, nomadic grazing, fake trading markets and human trafficking.

The media, the Minister said, therefore, had a crucial role to play in the promotion of a safe and secure intra-regional migration and cautioned it to be circumspect in their reportage.

He said giving the magnitude of the challenges of migration, there was the need to create a critical mass of advocates in the media who were willing to provide fair and objective coverage on issues of migration.

 He urged all media personnel and other relevant stakeholders to fully participate in the project in order to acquire the requisite skills and the solid foundation required to enable them to contribute to the promotion of safer migration practices.

Mr Abdul-Hamid expressed the appreciation of the Ministry of Information for the media response and its collaborating partners for supporting the project and commended the European Union and the International Organization of Migration for funding the project.

The ECOWAS Free Movement and Migration Project is a one-year project which will target the Greater Accra, Western, Ashanti and Northern Regions to promote free movement and migrant rights in West Africa.

The project’s activities include the organization of training workshops on investigative journalism on free movement and migration, establishment of a network of journalists for migrant rights and the implementation of a public radio campaign on free movement.

*Source :Allafrica/ISD (Edem Agblevor & Faith Eddison)

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U.S. Economic Policy Toward Africa: The Path to More Collaboration
May 24, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Eliot Pence*

President Trump has made it clear that he plans to put an unorthodox mark on foreign policy. While recent executive orders demonstrate that his approach will be characterized by challenging the status quo in many regions, from Mexico to China to Russia, one region remains still largely unknown: Africa. But challenging the status quo on Africa poses some problems — first and foremost will be defining what that status quo is.

U.S. interests in Africa have shifted over the past several decades, from supporting humanitarian missions and security training to human and social development. Recently, a more commercially oriented set of interests urged successive administrations to consider Africa’s strategic value to U.S. investors and companies. What has emerged is an expansive foreign policy that has at different times in different places tended to focus on three issues: security, governance, and economic development. The reality is that most of the time, the United States has had the interest to commit fully to only two of those priority areas. This tendency has sent African partners conflicting signals: enforcing elections in some places, but not elsewhere; encouraging trade and investment, but imposing burdensome and inoperable regulations. Given these realities, the bar for success in Africa is quite low for the Trump administration.

Because U.S. Africa policy has tended to shift over time and has lacked a clear overarching strategic vision, a better approach for the Trump administration in Africa might be to articulate a limited set of principles that clarifies and solidifies a more sustainable framework that is better suited to address fundamental drivers of Africa’s future rather than getting bogged down in contested theories of development and fraught disputes over values. These principles should include prioritizing key countries and rationalizing resources, creating an “Investment-First” policy in Africa, and more clearly communicating our interests and values. In practice, streamlining in this way would inevitably upset disparate interest groups, an established “development set” with strong views, and even stronger backers in Congress.

Prioritize and Rationalize

After fifteen years of converging economic growth in Africa, where virtually all countries saw significant economic growth, Africa has entered an era of divergence, where the development paths of each country and each region differ markedly. To be sure, Africa’s countries have always had different development paths. But the end of the most recent commodity super cycle and the Ebola crisis revealed the extent to which each country had truly transformed their economies in the past decade, and which were simply riding a commodity or consumer wave.

Given this shift, the Trump administration should consider designing its foreign policy in Africa around the fact that it is dealing with a disparate group of countries each at different stages of development and each of different strategic importance for the United States. It should revisit the “One Africa” model of engagement, and re-emphasize the need for engagement with the continent that is more finely tuned to, and reflective of, individual country capacities, historical ties, and sustainable potential. This more granular approach will allow the U.S. government to more adequately align its resources and bureaucracy for the “next Africa.” Prioritizing regional hegemons — such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Morocco — commercial corridors, and major metropoles would be a good place to start. One area that the Trump administration could revisit immediately is the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) partnering mandate. Allowing sub-national entities, like Lagos State in Nigeria — a state larger than most African countries — to apply for MCC funding will undoubtedly do more to advance U.S. strategic interests than awarding Cabo Verde, a country the size of one small Lagos neighborhood, with a third MCC compact.

An “Investment-First” Africa Policy

The shift from aid to trade is well underway. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is already including more entrepreneurship-focused programs into its activities as a way to create a strong foundation for further development. Moreover, many donor governments are focused on finding new methods for incorporating private-sector models into their development programs, such as USAID’s Global Development Lab. The Trump administration should reinforce this shift. But it would do well to shift it completely out of the Beltway. Too often making aid more private sector friendly has simply meant transferring funds into private contractors who tend to fly in and out and often at costs that far exceed their nonprofit peers. As The Economist notes, “CEOs at private development contractors on average earn in excess of $500,000 — more than twice as much as non-profit bosses.”

Instead of bolstering a private sector development lobby with ersatz aid contracts, policymakers should focus their efforts on promoting the next great shift — the one that will take U.S.–Africa commercial relations from trade to investment. Fostering investment creates cross-border linkages that go beyond obvious, high-level government and political ties. It opens new paths for growth that are mutually beneficial to both host country and home country nationals and corporations by reinforcing existing markets and opening new ones, providing ways to create diversified portfolios to mitigate risks (and reap rewards), and creating foreign and domestic jobs, among other things.

U.S. policymakers already have tools to promote the jump from trade to investment. The most useful among them is the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). The agency’s utility and necessity have been the subject of argument among politicians, particularly at times of governmental transition. Instead of rehashing the argument, it is time to put the debate to rest: there are few other agencies that can help efficiently allocate limited resources while at the same time encouraging investment abroad. OPIC is a profit-making agency that funds its own operations at marginal cost to taxpayers, and it has consistently added money to government coffers since its creation in the 1970s while being required to have no negative effects the U.S. economy.

Other policies can help engender a shift toward investment if they are reworked slightly. The African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) has enjoyed bi-partisan support as the premiere U.S.–Africa trade policy since it was enacted in 2000. But since AGOA passed, a lot has changed: in 2000, only five countries counted China as their largest trading partner; today, more than 100 countries do,[1] and many of those countries are in Africa. While AGOA helped (and continues to help) propel the shift from aid to trade with Africa by providing duty and quota-free access to the U.S. market, it offers no functional support to U.S. companies and investors adjusting to a new competitive paradigm on the continent. A post-AGOA agenda should be bilateral and investment-focused. Above all, it should be more attuned to the new commercial opportunities and partners, like China, that the continent has.

Part of reworking a post-AGOA framework, should involve taking a comprehensive view of U.S. foreign investment policy and identifying which policies influence which investors where. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is among the least understood, but potentially most consequential for at least one class of U.S. investor — the African diaspora. FATCA’s goals are important — ensuring that Americans with financial assets located in foreign jurisdictions pay their fair share of taxes at home — but the law results in overly onerous burdens for members of the African diaspora with U.S. citizenship wishing to do business and invest abroad. FATCA is complicated and requires enormous amounts of resources to ensure compliance. For Americans from the African diaspora wanting to invest in their country of origin, investments and bank accounts larger than $40,000 have to be reported and audited. Because of the reporting requirements, many African banks have refused to do business with the U.S.-based diaspora, which makes investing in African start-ups and entrepreneurs harder. As a result, many of the diaspora end up operating outside of the formal investment channels, choosing instead to funnel funds through other means. Pulling back FATCA requirements for Africa-interested investors will facilitate more private flows of capital to the continent and go a long way to heading off any criticism the Trump administration may get from cuts laid out in the draft budget to other development programs.

A final way for the Trump administration to encourage the shift from trade to investment is to encourage the development of Africa’s capital markets. Apart from South Africa, African capital markets are relatively undeveloped — no individual sub-Saharan countries have stock exchanges with market capitalizations over $30 billion, and, with very few exceptions, African sovereign debt ratings are not investment grade. As U.S. retirement funds see yields shrink globally,[2]creating new, diversified securities could help American pensioners get better return on their 401K investments.

In this vein, the Trump administration could explore helping develop the continent’s bond market. The liquidity, depth, and scope of the bond market has evolved so much that specific sub-sectors have begun to accommodate the specific desires of investor groups — from Samurai Bonds and Dragon Bonds to Yankee Bonds. Despite the variety of bond issuers tapping the markets for all types of projects, Africa’s bond markets remain on the margins of the industry. Getting more credit agencies to rate sovereigns, or having them rate specific projects — perhaps in infrastructure — would go a long way to improving the issuance of marketable bonds. Even more important is the provision of credit support or enhancements that could secure investment grade ratings of specific projects. While the U.S. government may balk at doing this directly, the multiplier benefits of it doing so could catalyze more investment than all of USAID’s development programs combined. The Trump administration can also address the lack of capital market expertise in Africa by enhancing and supporting the work of the National Association for Securities Professionals (NASP) which is pioneering a knowledge-exchange program linking U.S. consultants and pension funds with African policymakers and firms. Doing so could not only help grow better capital markets in Africa — which can indirectly help to strengthen U.S.–Africa commercial ties — it could also provide ways for U.S. investors to more easily become directly involved on the continent.

Clearly Communicating Interests and Values

U.S. foreign policy can sometimes seem at conflict with itself to the casual observer. Nowhere more conspicuous is that conflict than in Africa, where accusations of hypocrisy often prevent the United States from playing a key role as intermediary and trusted partner. Mixed messages on democracy promotion or governance, particularly the former, can confuse or undermine other efforts, sometimes in completely different parts of the continent. The passing of 1502 of Dodd Frank, or the conflict minerals act, as it is known colloquially, is one such policy. Well intended by its promoters, 1502 sought to reduce violence in the DRC and “Great Lakes region” by compelling companies sourcing minerals from the region to diligence their suppliers more thoroughly so as to redirect their payments away from suppliers that may have been supporting militia. Instead, in addition to being held up in part in the DC circuit court, the act has precipitated a rapid divestment by global companies and led, according to one UNU-WIDER study, to an increase in child mortality around the various “artisanal” mine sites because of the subsequent decline in economic activity.[3]

The tendency of the U.S. government to advocate for issues where there is no consensus within the government itself has undermined U.S. influence on the continent. The importance of increasing investment — helping U.S. companies succeed and improving African livelihoods — is an issue on which most people agree. While there may be different opinions on how best to promote and regulate investment, having an issue that is both of strategic importance to the United States and easy to rally around for foreign counterparts is key to developing relationships that will allow the United States to become a trusted partner. Similarly, as the U.S. government looks to modernize its approach to development assistance, it might more fully consider purely outcome-oriented programs — such as cash transfer programs — that do not prescribe to countries how to go about achieving certain things, but rather grant the resources with which to achieve them. For the United States to be a trusted partner, it also needs to clearly indicate to others that the United States trusts them: it is a two-way street.

Another area where the Trump administration can immediately disentangle U.S. interests and values is in how it deals with transparency and corruption on the continent. Countries that are victims of corruption should be given the civil penalties and disgorgement proceeds associated with any corrupt activities, rather than simply having these resources withheld indefinitely, as has been the case with looted money from Nigeria. Keeping it in the U.S. Treasury achieves nothing and engenders feelings of resentment. Finding ways to return this money while strengthening commercial ties can help to send a message that the United States wants to work together to advance mutual interests. Proceeds from corruption-related prosecutions and disgorgements could be split equally and placed in an escrow account with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and investment-promotion councils in each country having oversight so it is clear that money is not being returned directly to the original perpetrators.

Conclusion

Few things can be as challenging as crafting a policy that anticipates the future. This task is especially challenging when that policy is focused on a continent with 54 countries, each at different stages of development and which, taken together, are changing more quickly than any collectively in history — on any measure: from demography, urbanization, development, to political trajectory. It is why the U.S. Africa policy has been hard to classify. It remains, to this day, a mix of legacy presidential initiatives and institutions, an occasionally overt, but mostly covert, security enigma and an only infrequently interesting investment destination for multinationals. But herein lies the opportunity. This scattered history offers the Trump administration an opportunity to make its mark by promoting a focused foreign policy that doesn’t tackle the entire continent, but cultivates key partner countries — like Nigeria, Morocco, and Ethiopia; that accelerates the U.S. transition out of aid and into investment; and, perhaps more than anything else, more clearly communicates our interests and values where, when, and to whom they matter most.

*Source GMF.Org

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Ethiopia’s Tedros wins WHO race, first African to get top job
May 23, 2017 | 0 Comments

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former health minister and foreign minister, received more than half the votes in the third round.

Ethiopia’s Tedros wins on third ballot

* Offers more geographical representation of WHO jobs

By Stephanie Nebehay and Tom Miles*

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

GENEVA, May 23 (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus won the race to be the next head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday, becoming the first African to lead the United Nations agency.

The former health minister and foreign minister received more than half the votes in the first round and eventually won a decisive third-round election to beat Britain’s David Nabarro to the job.

“It’s a victory day for Ethiopia and for Africa,” Ethiopia’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva Negash Kebret Botora told Reuters before Tedros, as he is widely known, was to take the floor at the WHO’s annual ministerial assembly.

Six candidates had stood to take the helm at the WHO, which is tasked with combating outbreaks and chronic diseases.

The job has never before been earned through a competitive election and health officials from all over the globe thronged the assembly hall in the U.N.’s Geneva headquarters where voting took place behind closed doors.

Tedros will begin his five-year term after Margaret Chan, a former Hong Kong health director, steps down after 10 years on June 30. Chan leaves a mixed legacy, after WHO’s slow response to West Africa’s Ebola epidemic in 2013-2016, which killed 11,300 people.

In a last pitch before voting began, Tedros had appealed to ministers by promising to represent their interests and to ensure more countries got top jobs at the Geneva-based WHO.

“I will listen to you. I was one of you. I was in your shoes and I can understand you better,” Tedros told the ministers. “I know what it takes to strengthen the frontlines of healthcare and innovate around the constraints.”

Tedros was widely seen as having the support of about 50 African votes, but questions about his role in restricting human rights and Ethiopia’s cover-up of a cholera outbreak surfaced late in the race, threatening to tarnish his appeal.

Nabarro, a WHO insider who has worked for 40 years in international public health, had pitched himself as a “global candidate”.

Chan, in a speech on Monday, urged ministers to tackle inequalities as a “guiding ethical principle”.

“Scientific evidence is the bedrock of policy. Protect it. No one knows whether evidence will retain its persuasive power in what many now describe as a post-truth world,” she said.

*Reuters

 

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How Trump’s Uncertainty on Africa Could be China’s Gain
May 23, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Conor Gaffey*

LEFT: United States President Donald Trump. RIGHT: President Uhuru Kenyatta

LEFT: United States President Donald Trump. RIGHT: President Uhuru Kenyatta

China is set to benefit from a possible pulling back of investment by U.S. companies in Africa under the Trump administration, according to a report.

The number of Chinese-funded projects increased by more than 100 percent in 2016 compared to the previous year, according to the Africa Attractiveness survey released on Wednesday by EY, formerly Ernst & Young.

By contrast, the number of American foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in Africa fell by 5.2 percent in 2016, although the United States remains the leading overall investor in Africa. Chinese projects also created more than 38,000 jobs in Africa, more than three times as many as American investments.

Since coming to office, President Donald Trump has had little to say about U.S. policy on Africa under his administration. The Trump administration is yet to appoint a head of the African Affairs bureau in the State Department and has made only a handful of calls to African leaders, though the U.S. president did receive Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sissi at the White House in April.

Trump Sissi meeting President Trump meets Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on April 3. Trump’s meeting with Sisi was his first with an African leader since becoming president in January. Kevin Lamarque/reuters

While the EY report measures private investment in Africa, as opposed to government-to-government investment or aid, any changes in U.S.-Africa policy may have an impact on business relations. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which was instituted in 2000 and allows tariff-free access for certain goods from African countries into the U.S., is one example of where policy and business could collide. Trump has not commented directly on the AGOA, but his favoring of bilateral trade deals over multi-party agreements would suggest a preference for individually-negotiated deals that benefited the United States, not just Africa.

Michael Lalor, the head of EY’s Africa Business Center, says that while he does not foresee a marked decrease in U.S. investment in Africa in the short term, significant policy changes could impact on the likelihood of U.S. businesses starting new investments on the continent.

“A strength of U.S.-led investment in Africa has been the connectedness of investment. Business and government and development agencies aren’t acting in isolation,” says Lalor, citing the Power Africa program—an initiative launched by President Barack Obama in 2013 to bring 30,000 megawatts of electricity to sub-Saharan Africa—as an example.

“It helps to have government and business on the same page…The danger is that this might be a more fragmented approach to investment, versus the approach from other countries—China is a good example—where it is quite an integrated approach,” says Lalor. “It might just blunt the competitive advantage of the U.S. in Africa.”

While the rate of investment slowed, the U.S. continued to be the leading inward investor in Africa, accounting for 13.5 percent of total FDI projects on the continent. The main target for investment by American companies was South Africa, where 28 of the 91 U.S.-sourced FDI projects were based. South Africa has long been a hub of international investment in Africa: It is the continent’s biggest and most industrialized economy. Behind it, U.S. companies also invested heavily in North Africa, particularly Morocco (14 projects) and Egypt (13 projects).

“Counting the sheer number of projects is a rather questionable measure of FDI when compared to actual capital invested. By the latter, the United States remains Africa’s most important partner,” says J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center at U.S. think tank the Atlantic Council.

Kenya China flag A Kenyan dock worker waves a Chinese flag during a farewell ceremony for a Chinese naval ship before it leaves the Kenyan port city of Mombasa for Tanzania on October 18, 2010. The number of Chinese investment projects in Africa increased by more than 100 percent in 2016, according to a report. JEAN CURRAN/AFP/Getty

Pham also says that the business acumen possessed by Trump and members of his administration means that “commercial diplomacy” will likely take a more central role under Trump, benefitting both U.S. firms and Africa.

Morocco is an example of where this could be true, Pham says. The EY report ranked the North African country as the most attractive destination for international investors in 2017, based on six factors including economic resilience, market size and ease of doing business. Morocco is the only African country—and one of only 20 countries in total—to have a free trade agreement with the United States, which entered into force in 2006. The deal has contributed to a massive increase in U.S.-Morocco trade, from $35 million in 2005 to $844.2 million in 2016. “American firms are especially well-positioned to triangulate in their business with Africa through Morocco,” says Pham.

China has been involved in Africa for at least 60 years and is the continent’s single largest trade partner. As well as trade and FDI, the Chinese government and state-run entities have undertaken enormous infrastructure projects in Africa—such as a $4 billion, 450-mile railway linking the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa with the port of Djibouti, launched in October 2016—in exchange for privileged access to Africa’s huge marketplace of people and resources and increased international status.

Beijing has also been a huge contributor of development assistance to African countries. At a 2015 China-Africa summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $60 billion in assistance, including grants, loans and aid to the continent.

In his budget proposal released in March, President Trump proposed cutting the budget of the State Department and foreign aid by 28 percent, as well as eliminating various government agencies, including the African Development Foundation, which promotes development by investing in African enterprises.

While aid and investment are two different things, U.S. companies are likely to follow the administration’s lead in drawing back from Africa, says Stephen Chan, professor of world politics at SOAS University of London. “Investors will take aid cutbacks as a political signal and one that will lead to possible insecurity in the country concerned. So investors will be more cautious and I expect a decline in the volume of investment,” says Chan.

Such a pullback could mean strategic losses in U.S. influence in Africa and leave further space for China to capitalize, says Chan. “For China, the benefits are upstream in a future where a growing Chinese economy will have grown to need African resources and paybacks from FDI and aid commitments made now,” says Chan. “The Chinese, as ever, are playing a long game. President Trump, at the moment, is playing no game at all in Africa.”

*Newsweek

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America’s War-Fighting Footprint in Africa
May 23, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Nick Turse*
General Thomas Waldhauser sounded a little uneasy.  “I would just say, they are on the ground.  They are trying to influence the action,” commented [1] the chief of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) at a Pentagon press briefing in March, when asked about Russian military personnel operating in North Africa.  “We watch what they do with great concern.”
http://www.tomdispatch.com/images/managed/africommapreal2_small.jpg
And Russians aren’t the only foreigners on Waldhauser’s mind.  He’s also wary of a Chinese “military base” being built not far from Camp Lemonnier, a large U.S. facility in the tiny, sun-blasted nation of Djibouti.  “They’ve never had an overseas base, and we’ve never had a base of… a peer competitor as close as this one happens to be,” he said [2].  “There are some very significant… operational security concerns.”At that press conference, Waldhauser mentioned still another base, an American one exposed by the Washington Post last October in an article [3]titled, “U.S. has secretly expanded its global network of drone bases to North Africa.”  Five months later, the AFRICOM commander still sounded aggrieved.  “The Washington Post story that said ‘flying from a secret base in Tunisia.’  It’s not a secret base and it’s not our base… We have no intention of establishing a base there.”

Waldhauser’s insistence that the U.S. had no base in Tunisia relied on a technicality, since that foreign airfield clearly functions as an American outpost. For years, AFRICOM has peddled the fiction that Djibouti is the site of its only “base” in Africa. “We continue to maintain one forward operating site on the continent, Camp Lemonnier,” reads the command’s 2017 posture statement.  Spokespeople for the command regularly maintain that any other U.S. outposts are few and transitory — “expeditionary” in military parlance.

While the U.S. maintains a vast empire of military installations around the world, with huge — and hard to miss — complexes throughout Europe and Asia, bases in Africa have been far better hidden.  And if you listened only to AFRICOM officials, you might even assume that the U.S. military’s footprint in Africa will soon be eclipsed by that of the Chinese or the Russians.

Highly classified internal AFRICOM files offer a radically different picture.  A set of previously secret documents, obtained by TomDispatch via the Freedom of Information Act, offers clear evidence of a remarkable, far-ranging, and expanding network of outposts strung across the continent.  In official plans for operations in 2015 that were drafted and issued the year before, Africa Command lists 36 U.S. outposts scattered across 24 African countries.  These include low-profile locations — from Kenya to South Sudan to a shadowy Libyan airfield — that have never previously been mentioned in published reports.  Today, according to an AFRICOM spokesperson, the number of these sites has actually swelled to 46, including “15 enduring locations.”  The newly disclosed numbers and redacted documents contradict more than a decade’s worth of dissembling by U.S. Africa Command and shed new light on a constellation of bases integral to expanding U.S. military operations on the African continent and in the Middle East.

A Constellation of Bases

AFRICOM failed to respond to repeated requests for further information about the 46 bases, outposts, and staging areas currently dotting the continent.  Nonetheless, the newly disclosed 2015 plans offer unique insights into the wide-ranging network of outposts, a constellation of bases that already provided the U.S. military with unprecedented continental reach.

Those documents divide U.S. bases into three categories: forward operating sites (FOSes), cooperative security locations (CSLs), and contingency locations (CLs).  “In total, [the fiscal year 20]15 proposed posture will be 2 FOSes, 10 CSLs, and 22 CLs” state the documents.  By spring 2015, the number of CSLs had already increased to 11, according [4] to then-AFRICOM chief General David Rodriguez, in order to allow U.S. crisis-response forces to reach potential hot spots in West Africa.  An appendix to the plan, also obtained by TomDispatch, actually lists 23 CLs, not 22.  Another appendix mentions one additional contingency location.

These outposts — of which forward operating sites are the most permanent and contingency locations the least so — form the backbone of U.S. military operations on the continent and have been expanding at a rapid rate, particularly since the September 2012 attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.  The plans also indicate that the U.S. military regularly juggles locations, shuttering sites and opening others, while upgrading contingency locations to cooperative security locations in response to changing conditions like, according to the documents, “increased threats emanating from the East, North-West, and Central regions” of the continent.

AFRICOM’s 2017 posture statement notes, for example, a recent round of changes to the command’s inventory of posts.  The document explains that the U.S. military “closed five contingency locations and designated seven new contingency locations on the continent due to shifting requirements and identified gaps in our ability to counter threats and support ongoing operations.”  Today, according to AFRICOM spokesman Chuck Prichard, the total number of sites has jumped from the 36 cited in the 2015 plans to 46 — a network now consisting of two forward operating sites, 13 cooperative security locations, and 31 contingency locations.

Location, Location, Location

(Credit: AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

(Credit: AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

AFRICOM’s sprawling network of bases is crucial to its continent-wide strategy of training the militaries of African proxies and allies and conducting a multi-front campaign aimed at combating a disparate and spreading [5]collection of terror groups.  The command’s major areas of effort involve: a shadow war against the militant group al-Shabaab in Somalia (a long-term [6]campaign, ratcheting up [7] in the Trump era, with no end in sight); attempts to contain the endless fallout from the 2011 U.S. and allied military intervention that ousted Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi (a long-term effort [8] with no end in sight); the neutralizing of “violent extremist organizations” across northwest Africa, the lands of the Sahel and Maghreb (a long-term effort [5] with no end in sight); the degradation of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin nations of Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, and Chad (a long-term effort — to the tune of $156 million [9] last year alone in support of regional proxies there — with no end in sight); countering piracy in the Gulf of Guinea (a long-term effort [10] with no end in sight), and winding down [11] thewildly expensive [12] effort to eliminate Joseph Kony and his murderous Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa (both live on [13], despite a long-term U.S. effort).

The U.S. military’s multiplying outposts are also likely to prove vital to the Trump administration’s expanding wars [14] in the Middle East.  African bases have long been essential, for instance, to Washington’s ongoing shadow war in Yemen [15], which has seen a significant increase [16] in drone strikes under the Trump administration.  They have also been integral [17] to operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, where a substantial [18] (and deadly) uptick in U.S. airpower (and civilian casualties) has been evident in recent months.

In 2015, AFRICOM spokesman Anthony Falvo noted that the command’s “strategic posture and presence are premised on the concept of a tailored, flexible, light footprint that leverages and supports the posture and presence of partners and is supported by expeditionary infrastructure.” The declassified secret documents explicitly state that America’s network of African bases is neither insignificant nor provisional.  “USAFRICOM’s posture requires a network of enduring and non-enduring locations across the continent,” say the 2015 plans.  “A developed network of FOSes, CSLs, and non-enduring CLs in key countries… is necessary to support the command’s operations and engagements.”

According to the files, AFRICOM’s two forward operating sites are Djibouti’s Camp Lemonnier and a base on the United Kingdom’s Ascension Island off the west coast of Africa.  Described as “enduring locations” with a sustained troop presence and “U.S.-owned real property,” they serve as hubs for staging missions across the continent and for supplying the growing network of outposts there.

Lemonnier, the crown jewel of America’s African bases, has expanded [19] from 88 acres to about 600 acres since 2002, and in those years, the number of personnel there has increased exponentially as well. “Camp Lemonnier serves as a hub for multiple operations and security cooperation activities,” reads AFRICOM’s 2017 posture statement.  “This base is essential to U.S. efforts in East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.”  Indeed, the formerly secret documents note that the base supports “U.S operations in Somalia CT [counterterrorism], Yemen CT, Gulf of Aden (counter-piracy), and a wide range of Security Assistance activities and programs throughout the region.”

In 2015, when he announced [4] the increase in cooperative security locations, then-AFRICOM chief David Rodriguez mentioned Senegal, Ghana, and Gabon as staging areas for the command’s rapid reaction forces.  Last June, outgoing U.S. Army Africa commander Major General Darryl Williams drew attention [20] to a CSL in Uganda and one being set up in Botswana, adding, “We have very austere, lean, lily pads, if you will, all over Africa now.”

CSL Entebbe in Uganda has, for example, long been an important air base [15] for American forces in Africa, serving as a hub for surveillance aircraft [21].  It also proved integral to Operation Oaken Steel, the July 2016 rapid deployment of troops to the U.S. Embassy in Juba, South Sudan, as that failed state (and failed U.S. nation-building effort [22]) sank into yet more violence.

Libreville, Gabon, is listed in the documents as a “proposed CSL,” but was actually used [23] in 2014 and 2015 as a key base for Operation Echo Casemate [24], the joint U.S.-French-African military response to unrest in the Central African Republic.

AFRICOM’s 2015 plan also lists cooperative security locations in Accra, Ghana; Gaborone, Botswana; Dakar, Senegal; Douala, Cameroon; Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; and Mombasa, Kenya.  While officially defined by the military as temporary locales capable of being scaled up for larger operations, any of these CSLs in Africa “may also function as a major logistics hub,” according to the documents.

Contingency Plans

The formerly secret AFRICOM files note that the command has designated five contingency locations as “semi-permanent,” 13 as “temporary,” and four as “initial.”  These include a number of sites that have never previously been disclosed, including outposts in several countries that were actually at war when the documents were created.  Listed among the CLs, for instance, is one in Juba [25], the capital of South Sudan [26], already in the midst of an ongoing civil war in 2014; one in Bangui, the capital of the periodically unstable Central African Republic; and another in Al-Wigh [27], a Saharan airfield in southern Libya located near that country’s borders with Niger, Chad, and Algeria.

Officially classified as “non-enduring” locations, CLs are nonetheless among the most integral sites for U.S. operations on the continent.  Today, according to AFRICOM’s Prichard, the 31 contingency locations provide “access to support partners, counter threats, and protect U.S. interests in East, North, and West Africa.”

AFRICOM did not provide the specific locations of the current crop of CLs, stating only that they “strive to increase access in crucial areas.” The 2015 plans, however, provide ample detail on the areas that were most important to the command at that time.  One such site is Camp Simba in Manda Bay, Kenya, also mentioned in a 2013 internal Pentagon study [28] on secret drone operations in Somalia and Yemen.  At least two manned surveillance aircraft were based there at the time.

Chabelley Airfield [29] in Djibouti is also mentioned in AFRICOM’s 2015 plan.  Once a spartan French Foreign Legion post, it has undergone substantial expansion in recent years as U.S. drone operations in that country were moved from Camp Lemonnier to this more remote location.  It soon became a regional hub for unmanned aircraft not just for Africa but also for the Middle East.  By the beginning of October 2015, for example, drones flown from Chabelley had already logged [17] more than 24,000 hours of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions and were also, according to the Air Force, “responsible for the neutralization of 69 enemy fighters, including five high-valued individuals” in the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

AFRICOM’s inventory of CLs also includes sites in Nzara [30], South Sudan;Arlit [31], Niger; both Bamako [32] and Gao [33], Mali; Kasenyi [34], Uganda; Victoria [35], the capital of the Seychelles; Monrovia, Liberia; Ouassa and Nema, Mauritania;Faya Largeau [36], Chad; Bujumbura, Burundi; Lakipia [37], the site of a Kenyan Air Force base; and another Kenyan airfield at Wajir that was upgraded andexpanded [38] by the U.S. Navy earlier in this decade, as well as an outpost in Arba Minch, Ethiopia, that was reportedly shuttered [39] in 2015 after nearly five years of operation.

A longtime contingency location in Niamey, the capital of Niger, has seen marked growth in recent years as has a more remote location, a Nigerien military base at Agadez, listed among the “proposed” CSLs in the AFRICOM documents.  The U.S. is, in fact, pouring $100 million into building up the base, according [40] to a 2016 investigation by the Intercept.  N’Djamena, Chad, the site of yet another “proposed CSL,” has actually been used by the U.S. military for years.  Troops and a drone were dispatched [41] there in 2014 to aid in operations against Boko Haram and “base camp facilities” were constructed [42]there, too.

The list of proposed CLs also includes sites in Berbera, a town in the self-declared Republic of Somaliland, and in Mogadishu, the capital of neighboring Somalia (another locale used [43] by American troops for years), as well as the towns of Baidoa and Bosaso.  These or other outposts are likely to play increasingly important roles as the Trump administration ramps up its military activities in Somalia, the long-failed state that saw 18 U.S. personnel killed in the disastrous [44] “Black Hawk Down” mission of 1993.   Last month, for instance, President Trump relaxed rules [45] aimed at preventing civilian casualties when the U.S. conducts drone strikes and commando raids in that country and so laid the foundation for a future escalation of the war against al-Shabaab there.  This month, AFRICOM confirmed that dozens of soldiers from the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, a storied light infantry unit, would be deployed [44] to that same country in order to train local forces to, as a spokesperson put it, “better fight” al-Shabaab.

Many other sites previously identified as U.S. outposts or staging areas are not listed in AFRICOM’s 2015 plans, such as bases in Djema [46], Sam Ouandja [47], and Obo [48] in the Central African Republic that were revealed, in recent years, by the Washington Post.  Also missing is a newer drone base in Garoua,Cameroon [49], not to mention that Tunisian air base where the U.S. has been flying drones, according to AFRICOM’s Waldhauser, “for quite some time.”

Some bases may have been shuttered, while others may not yet have been put in service when the documents were produced.  Ultimately, the reasons that these and many other previously identified bases [50] are not included in the redacted secret files are unclear due to AFRICOM’s refusal to offer comment, clarification, or additional information on the locations of its bases.

Base Desires

“Just as the U.S. pursues strategic interests in Africa, international competitors, including China and Russia, are doing the same,” laments AFRICOM in its 2017 posture statement. “We continue to see international competitors engage with African partners in a manner contrary to the international norms of transparency.”

Since it was established as an independent command in 2008, however, AFRICOM itself has been anything but transparent about its activities on the continent.  The command’s physical footprint may, in fact, have been its most jealously guarded secret.  Today, thanks to AFRICOM’s own internal documents, that secret is out and with AFRICOM’s admission that it currently maintains “15 enduring locations,” the long-peddled fiction of a combatant command with just one base in its area of operations has been laid to rest.

“Because of the size of Africa, because of the time and space and the distances, when it comes to special crisis-response-type activities, we need access in various places on the continent,” said AFRICOM chief Waldhauser during his March press conference.  These “various places” have also been integral to escalating American shadow wars, including a full-scale air campaign against the Islamic State in Libya, dubbed Operation Odyssey Lightning, which ended [51] late last year, and ongoing intelligence-gathering missions and a continued U.S. troop presence in that country; drone assassinations [15] and increased troop deployments [44] in Somalia to counter al-Shabaab; and increasing engagement in a proxy war against Boko Haram militants in the Lake Chad region of Central Africa.  For these and many more barely noticed U.S. military missions, America’s sprawling, ever-expanding network of bases provides the crucial infrastructure for cross-continental combat by U.S. and allied forces, a low-profile support system for war-making in Africa and beyond.

Without its wide-ranging constellation of bases, it would be nearly impossible for the U.S. to carry out ceaseless low-profile military activities across the continent.  As a result, AFRICOM continues to prefer shadows to sunlight.  While the command provided figures on the total number of U.S. military bases, outposts, and staging areas in Africa, its spokespeople failed to respond to repeated requests to provide locations for any of the 46 current sites.  While the whereabouts of the new outposts may still be secret, there’s little doubt as to the trajectory of America’s African footprint, which has increased by 10 locations — a 28% jump — in just over two years.

America’s “enduring” African bases “give the United States options in the event of crisis and enable partner capacity building,” according to AFRICOM’s Chuck Prichard.  They have also played a vital role in conflicts from Yemen to Iraq, Nigeria to Somalia.  With the Trump administration escalating its wars in Africa and the Middle East, and the potential for more crises — from catastrophic famines [52] to spreading wars [53] — on the horizon, there’s every reason to believe the U.S. military’s footprint on the continent will continue to evolve, expand, and enlarge in the years ahead, outpost by outpost and base by base.

*source TomDispatch
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Africa and India – Sharing the Development Journey
May 20, 2017 | 0 Comments

Photo: Mohamed Mambo/Daily News Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his host, President John Magufuli, acknowledge cheers from a section of Dar es Salaam residents who turned up at the State House grounds in the city.

Photo: Mohamed Mambo/Daily News
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his host, President John Magufuli, acknowledge cheers from a section of Dar es Salaam residents who turned up at the State House grounds in the city.

Abidjan — Africa, like India, is a continent of rich and compelling diversity. Both continents share a similar landscape, a shared colonial history, and similar economic and demographic challenges. This helps both India and Africa work especially well with each other.

This cooperation is both a mutual privilege and priority. At the end of the 2015 India-Africa Forum Summit, Indian Prime Minister Modi announced very substantial credits and grant assistance which benefitted our relationship. In addition to an India-Africa Development Fund, an India-Africa Health Fund and 50,000 scholarships for African students in India were established.

India’s bilateral trade with Africa has risen five-fold in the last decade, from $11.9 billion in 2005-6 to $56.7 billion in 2015-16. It is expected to reach $100 billion by 2018. This is attributed largely to initiatives by India’s private sector, and here again we are on the same wave length. We understand and appreciate that the private sector will be the critical element in Africa’s transformation.

African countries are targeted by Indian investors due to their high-growth markets and mineral rich reserves. India is the fifth largest country investing in Africa, with investments over the past 20 years amounting to $54 billion, 19.2% of all its total Foreign Direct Investment.

 At the same time a transformed Africa is taking shape. Despite a tough global economic environment, African countries continue to be resilient. Their economies, on average, grew by 2.2% in 2016, and are expected to rise to 3.4% this year. But the average does not tell the true picture. Indeed, 14 African countries grew by over 5% in 2016 and 18 countries grew between 3-5%. That’s a remarkable performance in a period when the global environment has been impeded by recession.

By 2050, Africa will have roughly the same population as China and India combined today, with high consumer demand from a growing middle class and nearly a billion ambitious and hard-working young people. The cities will be booming, as the populations (and economic expectations) rise exponentially around the continent.

This is the busy and bustling future that Africa and India must shape together in a strategic partnership. And nowhere is this partnership more needed than on the issue of infrastructure.

At the top of the list is power and electricity. Some 645 million Africans do not have access to electricity. It’s why the African Development Bank launched the New Deal on Energy for Africa in 2016. Our goal is to help achieve universal access to electricity within ten years. We will invest $12 billion in the energy sector over the next five years and leverage $45-50 billion from the private sector. We plan to connect 130 million people to the grid system, 75 million people through off grid systems and provide 150 million people with access to clean cooking energy.

The African Development Bank is also in the vanguard of renewable energy development and the remarkable “off-grid revolution” in Africa. We host the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, jointly developed with the African Union, which has already attracted $10 billion in investment commitments from G7 countries.

Universal access requires large financial investments. By some estimates, Africa needs $43-$55 billion per year until the 2030s, compared to current energy investments of about $8-$9.2 billion.

 We must close this gap. And to do so, the mobilization of domestic resources will play a major role. Pension funds in Africa will reach $1.3 trillion by 2025. Already tax revenues have exceeded $500 billion per year. Sovereign wealth funds in Africa stand at $164 billion.

To attract significant investment by institutional investors, infrastructure should become an asset class. The African Development Bank has launched Africa50, a new infrastructure entity, now capitalized by African countries at over $865 million, to help accelerate infrastructure project development and project finance. Also, later this year, the African Development Bank will be launching the ‘Africa Investment Forum’ to leverage African and global pension and sovereign wealth funds into investments in Africa.

Moreover, the African business environment keeps improving, with easier regulations and more conducive government policies to attract the global investors. In 2015, Africa alone accounted for more than 30% of the business regulatory reforms in the world.

The fact is, we have already started to transform Africa. This is the territory of the High 5s: Light up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the Quality of life of Africans.

We can forge winning partnerships investing in power generation, energy, agro-aligned industrialisation and food processing. In doing so we can work on the synergies that exist between infrastructure, regional integration, the regulation of enterprises, employment, health and innovation.

In each of these areas I see the prospect for cooperation and collaboration with Indian partners. For example, we are partnering with the EXIM Bank of India and others to establish the Kukuza, a company based in Mauritius, to help develop and support public-private partnership (PPP) infrastructure project development and finance.

India is already one of the top bidders for Bank projects. This is a reflection of its immense expertise in a diverse range of areas from engineering to education; from ICT to railway development; skills development to regional integration; and from manufacturing to industrialisation.

It is our pleasure to partner with such an inveterate and committed investor in Africa. And may this investment be lucrative and justified, and may our mutual interest and cooperation continue for many years to come.

*Allafrica.Dr Akinwumi Adesina is President of the African Development Bank. The 2017 AfDB Annual Meetings will be held in Ahmedabad, India, 22-26 May.

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