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Africa: Going Farther By Going Together – Building Partner Capacity in Africa
November 16, 2012 | 0 Comments

BY MAJOR GENERAL CHARLES HOOPER, *

 

Marine operations officer mentors students from Uganda and Kenya at International Peace Support Training Centre, Nairobi U.S. Air Force (Christine Clark)

Marine operations officer mentors students from Uganda and Kenya at International Peace Support Training Centre, Nairobi
U.S. Air Force (Christine Clark)

Stuttgart, Germany — Building partner capacity is an essential military mission and an important component of the U.S. Government’s approach to preventing and responding to crisis, conflict, and instability. Demanding fiscal realities, the end of the Iraq War, the unfolding transition in Afghanistan, and a renewed focus on enduring interests in Asia and the Middle East are increasing the importance of burden-sharing.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s January 2012 strategic guidance, Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense, was clear on this point. Recognizing that building partnership capacity “remains important for sharing the costs and responsibilities of global leadership” with states that value “freedom, stability and prosperity,” Secretary Panetta directed that “whenever possible, we will develop innovative, low-cost, and small footprint approaches to achieve our security objectives, relying on exercises, rotational presence, and advisory capabilities.”1

Some may argue that changes in the strategic environment diminish the value of building partner capacity as a component of our nation’s overall defense strategy. It makes more sense, they say, to dedicate those scarce resources toward improving our own capabilities than to improve those of other partners. We disagree. Building the capacity of our willing and important partners is not a strategic indulgence but rather an enduring strategic imperative. We believe that a small investment now that enables our partners to address an emerging challenge is a bargain. This is exactly U.S. Africa Command’s (USAFRICOM’s) approach to the complex security challenges in its area of responsibility (AOR).

Threats, Challenges, and Opportunities

USAFRICOM’s AOR is huge, diverse, and complex–and so are the security challenges we and our partners face. The command’s AOR includes 53 African states, more than 800 ethnic groups, over 1,000 languages, and a diverse geography 3½ times the size of the continental United States, not to mention a diverse mix of political, economic, social, and security challenges. Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, is a mere 20 miles across the Bab el-Mandeb waterway from Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula. Similarly, the eastern coastline of Africa is also the western shore of the Indian Ocean, sitting astride the sea lines of communication that link the continent and Europe to the rising powers of the Asia-Pacific region. In the north, Tunisia is less than 70 miles from Sicily, and only the Strait of Gibraltar separates Spain from Morocco. The point is that Africa is inextricably linked by geography, history, and commerce to not only the twin pillars of our new strategic guidance, but also to our enduring interests in Europe.

Africa’s security challenges are daunting: terrorism and growing violent extremist organizations, piracy, and the illicit trafficking of arms, narcotics, and people. Poverty and corruption in many regions contribute to an insidious cycle of instability, conflict, environmental degradation, and disease that erodes Africans’ confidence in national institutions and governing capacity. This, in turn, creates the conditions for a wide range of transnational security threats that can threaten America’s homeland and its regional interests.

That said, the flawed, one-dimensional stereotype of Africa as a place where bad people rule and good people suffer the consequences is inaccurate. Once labeled by The Economist as “the hopeless continent,” Africa now abounds with possibilities.2 It is a continent of progress and potential.

The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Chief Economist Steven Radelet identified 17 African countries with over a decade of sustained economic growth and falling poverty rates and further identified another half-dozen African states showing signs of similar progress.3 Radelet tracked five fundamental changes common to these emerging states: the rise of accountable democratic governments, governments implementing sensible economic policies, the end of the African debt crisis, the spread of new technologies, and the emergence of a new generation of policymakers, activists, and business leaders.4 These new leaders have a clear-eyed view of the stubborn economic and security challenges they face, what needs to be done, and how to do it. The United States is increasingly connected to these rising states and regional organizations through shared economic, political, and security interests, including commitments to consolidating the democratic and economic progress achieved in recent years. USAFRICOM’s capacity-building efforts are an integral part of a unified U.S. Government approach to Africa and are fully in line with Secretary Panetta’s January 2012 strategic guidance.

The foundation of USAFRICOM’s theater strategy is building the security capacity of our African partners. The strategy is guided by two principles:

A safe, secure, and stable Africa is in the U.S. national interest.
Over the long run, it will be Africans who will best be able to address African security challenges, and USAFRICOM most effectively advances U.S. security interests through focused security engagement with African partners.
Building the capacity of willing partners is central to achieving our goals and objectives. To realize success in our mission we must prepare, in cooperation with our partners and allies, to respond to future crises and contingencies; prevent future conflicts by continuing to strengthen our partners’ defense capabilities; and prevail in current and future operations.

Enabling our partners to meet common security challenges promotes the sharing of costs and responsibilities, supports our national interests, and–this is key–often provides a high return on modest investments. These capacity-building efforts are an integral part of a unified U.S. Government approach that promotes America’s overarching priorities in Africa: strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth and investment, advancing peace and security, and promoting opportunity and development.5

The USAFRICOM Approach

The African proverb at the beginning of this article captures USAFRICOM’s approach to building partner capacity: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” We at USAFRICOM choose to go together, with our African partners as well as our interagency partners, to better meet their security needs and to advance the interests of the United States.

Consistent with Secretary Panetta’s 2012 strategic guidance, USAFRICOM operates, and out of necessity has always operated, with a light footprint. With no permanently assigned forces, the majority of our security cooperation activities are conducted by small teams led by our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, and special operations components focusing on building the capacity of our partners to address their own security challenges. African militaries are receptive to this approach, which allows us to cultivate the personal relationships that are so important to our efforts to deepen institutional partnerships and build self-sustaining security capacity.

These military engagements comprise a small but critical element of U.S. Government activities in Africa. To illustrate this, compare the Department of State and USAFRICOM spending in Africa. In fiscal year 2012 (FY12), the Department of State spent approximately $7 billion on the 53 countries in our AOR on a wide array of health, development, and security programs under its Title 22 authorities.6 Approximately $3.3 billion of this $7 billion funded security-related programs such as peacekeeping, nonproliferation, antiterrorism, narcotics control and law enforcement, military education, and equipment financing.7

By contrast, USAFRICOM in FY12 controlled, influenced, and administered a modest $515 million in Title 22 and Title 10 security cooperation program dollars. The command directly controlled Department of Defense Title 10 programs such as the Combating Terrorism Fellowship Program, Military to Military Engagement, Air and Maritime Sector Development, and the Partner Military HIV/AIDS Program. USAFRICOM then supported and administered $130 million in traditional Department of State Title 22-funded programs such as Foreign Military Financing, International Military Education and Training, African Contingency Training and Assistance (ACOTA), Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism (PREACT), Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCP), and Africa Maritime Security Initiative.8

These numbers suggest three important points. First, they illustrate that USAFRICOM often plays a supporting role to broader U.S. Government efforts across Africa. Next, they demonstrate the requirement for our close collaboration with the State Department as well as other agencies. Finally, spending modest security cooperation dollars effectively across a complex AOR requires an analysis of the threats, prioritization of efforts, and an understanding of the willingness and capability of our partners.

Hard-nosed prioritization is an important aspect of our approach. The fact of the matter is that some regions and countries are more important than others. Current fiscal realities dictate that we prioritize regions in Africa to better focus our exercises, operations, and security cooperation activities. Our highest priority is the East Africa region, which is the nexus of terrorism and violent extremism that directly threatens our nation’s security. In prioritizing engagement with individual states, USAFRICOM considers our common concerns, compelling U.S. national security interests, and each nation’s role and capability in addressing these threats.

We conduct partnership capacity building along three interwoven lines of activity: fostering relationships, building operational capability, and developing institutional capacity.

Establishing and fostering security relationships built on mutual trust and respect is the foundation of our capacity-building efforts. The importance of the human dimension cannot be overstated. Senior leader engagements, conferences, exercises, workshops, education, the interactions of our junior leaders with their African counterparts, and the day-to-day work of Offices of Security Cooperation (OSC) all contribute to fostering lasting relationships. We build enduring and mutually beneficial relationships by acting as reliable partners. In short, we need to do what we promise and do it in a timely manner. Listening and learning skills are essential at every level of engagement. Impatience and a “we know best” attitude can stifle progress and trust.

Building operational capacity is about more than the number of troops and pieces of equipment. It is about aligning the right military capabilities–ground, maritime, and air–against a partner’s unique mission requirements. Not all solutions are material. The doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities model that we use in the U.S. Armed Forces to think through our own force development issues is useful when assessing operational capacity requirements with our partners.

Over time we have developed, along with our African partners, a deeper appreciation of the importance of focusing on institutional capacity. To support the building of institutional capacity, we focus on resource allocation, command and control, expanding combat multipliers such as intelligence and engineers, and developing recruiting, training, and sustainment programs and policies. These functions help to ensure the readiness and independent sustainability of our partners’ forces. An underlying premise of our institutional capacity-building efforts is that military forces must be subordinate to civil authority and accepted as legitimate members of a civil society based on the rule of law.

Building partnership capacity is not without hazards and challenges. First, trying to do too much too fast can undermine relationships. Strategic patience is not an American strength. However, building capable partner forces that willingly embrace democratic values takes time and patience. Each willing African state must ultimately find its own way to security, freedom, and prosperity. Therefore, the return on our efforts and investments will often not be immediately evident. That said, there are near-term intangible benefits–improved soldier/leader confidence, better discipline, increased unit esprit de corps and cohesion, reduced suspicion, and strengthened individual and collective national will–that, while difficult to measure, are, to quote the popular credit card commercial, “priceless.”

Second, we must be prepared for setbacks. Many African governments remain fragile. The recent coup in Mali, despite significant multinational contributions to their armed forces and economic development, cannot be categorized in any other way than a huge setback. Finally, our outdated and often arcane partner-building capacity processes and policies create the risk that others, perhaps not those we would chose, may become the preferred security partners of African states.

Building Partner Capacity in Action

A prominent example of how building the security capacity of our African partners promotes the sharing of costs and responsibilities, supports our national interests, and provides a high return on modest investments is our sustained support to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Our direct and indirect efforts in USAFRICOM’s highest priority region contribute to an African Union organization increasingly capable of securing ungoverned space, defeating al-Shabaab, and creating the conditions for a functioning state of Somalia.

AMISOM was initially authorized under a United Nations Security Council Chapter VII mandate in February 2007 to fill the security vacuum created by withdrawing Ethiopian troops.9 The mandate was ambitious and wide-ranging and included ensuring the free movement and protection of those involved in the reconciliation process, protecting the institutions of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), reestablishment and training of Somali security forces, and creating the conditions necessary for the provision of humanitarian assistance. The principal obstacle to success was al-Shabaab. In the chaotic aftermath of the Ethiopian invasion and overthrow of the Islamic Courts Union, al-Shabaab rapidly emerged as a dangerous al Qaeda affiliate that recruited foreign fighters, to include Americans. In 2007, Uganda and Burundi were the only two countries to contribute troops to AMISOM.10 For the Ugandans, this marked their first deployment of a military force beyond their borders. Undermanned and inappropriately equipped and trained, AMISOM was not fully equal to the task.

Al-Shabaab employed improvised explosive devices (IED), suicide bombings, and ambushes against AMISOM and TFG forces within Somalia and demonstrated the capability to strike beyond Somalia’s porous borders when it carried out twin suicide bombings in Kampala, Uganda, during the August 2010 World Cup.11 This was a pivotal moment. The attack was intended to undermine the resolve of the primary AMISOM troop contributor, but it had the opposite result. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni stood by his commitment to AMISOM and declared, “It would be a historic mistake to expect the war-weary Somali people to tame this global menace on their own.”12

Al-Shabaab poses a direct threat to Americans and American interests. The scenario that keeps us up at night is an American with a U.S. passport receiving indoctrination, training, and support in East Africa and returning to an American city to conduct a terrorist attack. That would be mission failure. Therefore, one of our primary focuses is support to African nations that are willing and able to provide forces to AMISOM. We work extensively with Uganda and Burundi since they provide the majority of forces to AMISOM. If our efforts are successful, and we believe the trend line is improving, this will be an area where the United States would not have to commit sizable forces to address the security situation.

Our efforts are collaborative at every level. This collaboration starts with fostering productive relationships by listening and learning from deployed AMISOM forces about the threats they face and their assessments of training and equipment requirements. USAFRICOM works closely with the Department of State, Embassy Country Teams, and our OSCs to improve and adapt the Title 22 ACOTA programs to prepare AMISOM forces for the operating environment in Mogadishu. Over time, often applying hard-earned training and operational insights from Iraq and Afghanistan, and most importantly input from AMISOM forces, ACOTA training has expanded to include force protection, patrolling, convoy operations, cordon and search, base security, and counter-IED training. Finally, our USAFRICOM military mentors participate directly in ACOTA training alongside State Department-contracted trainers and continue to shape collective and individual training efforts at locations in Uganda and Burundi.

Section 1206 “Global Train and Equip” authorities allow USAFRICOM to complement and expeditiously reinforce ACOTA training and meet the operational requirements of AMISOM forces. For example, we use 1206 authority to fund 10-week combat engineer (sapper) training courses for deploying Ugandan engineer companies conducted by U.S. Marine Forces Africa’s Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF). Operating out of Sigonella, Italy, on a rotational basis, SPMAGTF is tailored to conduct small-footprint theater security cooperation engagements and consists of just fewer than 200 Marines organized in 5to 14-man teams, with two KC-130 aircraft. This dual key funding authority has also allowed us to put small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the hands of deployed Ugandan forces. These UAS have a direct positive impact on AMISOM’s capacity to conduct operations in Somalia by targeting enemy locations, clearing routes, and identifying IEDs.

The new 1207(n) Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF) Transitional Authorities provided in the fiscal year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act will allow us to reinforce AMISOM’s success and focus on readiness and independent sustainability by enhancing intelligence, engineer, and sustainment functions.13 We are collaborating closely with the Department of State and Embassy Country Teams to plan our activities and programs to support not only AMISOM, but also the program goals and objectives for PREACT, which aims to defeat terrorist organizations by strengthening regional counterterrorism capabilities and enhancing and institutionalizing cooperation among the region’s security forces.

AMISOM forces have driven al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu, creating space for Somalia’s TFG to gain legitimacy and effectiveness. All this said, it is important not to overstate our contributions. Neither USAFRICOM nor the U.S. Government writ large is solely responsible for AMISOM’s success. Nevertheless, USAFRICOM has been a supportive partner to willing and increasingly capable African countries meeting regional security challenges that have direct national security implications for the United States. Moreover, we are fostering enduring security relationships with willing partners in a dangerous and volatile corner of the world. This will serve us well in an uncertain future.

Building Capacity in the Sahel and in the Maritime and Air Domains

We follow a similar collaborative, regionally focused capacity-building model in combating other threats. For example, in North and West Africa, we focus our efforts against the terrorist organization al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). AQIM exploits the undergoverned spaces of the Sahel to plan and execute terrorist attacks. We work within the Department of State-led regional framework for combating AQIM, the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership. Despite political uncertainty within some of our TSCTP partners, we have maintained a steady focus over time on building the regional counterterrorism capacity of our partners with small training teams, regional exercises, and our 1206 authorities. The results of these sustained efforts are states increasingly committed to and capable of combating extremism in the Sahel. That said, we all recognize that there is still much to be done.

In the maritime domain, we encourage regional approaches to transnational maritime security challenges such as piracy and illicit trafficking. Our partners have articulated their maritime needs, and USAFRICOM cooperates to help them meet their operational requirements. Our flagship maritime security engagement program is Africa Partnership Station, which provides sustained engagement with mobile training teams, interagency, and international trainers working from U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, and international partner nations’ vessels. Participants include not only U.S. and African naval forces but also vessels from Europe and Brazil. This program improves tactical planning skills, maritime domain awareness, response capabilities, and multinational interoperability.

To enhance regional cooperation in the Gulf of Guinea, we have sponsored and supported, in conjunction with the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, two regional maritime security conferences between the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The outcome of these ministerial-level conferences is a draft agreement that provides a firm basis for sustained and effective intra-African maritime cooperation in a region important not only to Africa but increasingly to the United States as well. We already see the beginnings of effective regional cooperation with Nigeria and Benin’s joint maritime patrols and Cameroon, Sao Tome and Principe, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon’s participation in ECCAS-led patrols.

We approach air domain security challenges in a similar fashion with a new security cooperation program: Africa Partnership Flight, which features a light footprint, short duration, high impact, sustainability, and predictable engagement with our African partners. It will become the primary Air Force program for building partnership capacity and will enable committed African states to enhance their aviation capabilities, foster greater regional cooperation, and increase air domain safety and security in Africa.

The Way Forward

Two new programs, the GSCF and the Army’s Regionally Aligned Force (RAF), and the potential expansion of the existing National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP) will help USAFRICOM expand, focus, and sustain its efforts.

As already noted, the new GSCF provisions are promising innovations that we expect will facilitate interagency collaboration and unified action and provide a flexible and responsive capacity-building funding source. However, the GSCF is a prototype; it expires in 2015. So while we experiment with GSCF and potentially move toward its full implementation, the effective and well-understood 1206 authorities will expire in 2013. Therefore, it is important that we manage this transition in a manner that maintains continuity and allows us to meet our commitments to willing partners who are on the frontlines helping combat threats to our national security. As soon as practicable, it is essential that we move from temporary authorities and codify best practices and lessons learned into enduring statutes.

Army Chief of Staff Raymond T. Odierno, in his recent Foreign Affairs article, explained the concept of aligning Army brigades with regional combatant commands.14 The RAF concept is an innovative approach consistent with USAFRICOM’s emphasis on operating with small teams and maintaining a light footprint. Security cooperation engagements will be conducted primarily by small tailored units from within an aligned brigade. This alignment over time will allow staff and subordinate units to foster enduring security relationships and develop expanded regional knowledge as well as an understanding of our partners’ unique security requirements. A RAF from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, will begin working with USAFRICOM in FY13, and along with SPMAGTF will provide flexibility and continuity in our security partnerships.

In our efforts to strengthen the defense capabilities of African partners, the SPP assists USAFRICOM in establishing consistent, predictable long-term security partnerships. Currently, there are eight state partnerships in Africa (Botswana and North Carolina, Ghana and North Dakota, Liberia and Michigan, Morocco and Utah, Nigeria and California, Senegal and Vermont, South Africa and New York, and Tunisia and Wyoming). General Craig McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, is actively considering adding two state partnerships as well as long-term possibilities for future growth.

The Security Partner of Choice

USAFRICOM’s capacity-building efforts are an integral part of a U.S. Government approach to the threats, challenges, and emerging opportunities across Africa. Moreover, cultivating and nurturing effective security partners is a sound investment and hedge against an uncertain future. In Africa, we look forward to being the security partner of choice for rising nations by building lasting, beneficial partnerships. Our success depends on close collaboration with our interagency partners, Embassy Country Teams, African regional organizations, and African nations.

We believe that over the long run, it is Africans who should address African security challenges and that we most effectively advance U.S. security interests through focused and sustained engagement. In strengthening African defense capabilities and capacities, we enable states to take ownership of their challenges and strengthen their leadership roles. In the famous car maintenance commercial, the mechanic tell his customer, “You can pay me now”–pay a little to have a small but important repair done now–or “pay me later”–pay a lot to have the entire engine replaced later. If African states cannot meet their own security challenges, then the United States and the international community will continue to find themselves responding to crises and contingencies ranging from armed conflict to humanitarian disasters. We believe that for a relatively low cost, our programs are making a positive difference in a rising Africa and demonstrate the enduring value of building partner capacity to the security of the United States. While there are indeed many risks ahead, there is also great opportunity if we are willing to act now to work with our partners.

Richard Tracey and Caterina Dutto Fox, U.S. Africa Command, J5-9, contributed to the development of this article.

*Source: NDU Press

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African Farmers to Benefit From $7.8 million Grant
November 16, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Kim Lewis*

A 7.8 million dollar grant offered through the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation will help an American university work with eight African countries to improve their farming techniques.

Michigan State University, through funding from the Gates Foundation Global Development Program, says the research aims to intensify farming methods that meet the agricultural needs of Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

Tom Jayne, professor of international development at Michigan State University, has been living in Lusaka, Zambia for the last two years, and has been involved in long-term projects to improve the sustainability of African farmland. He said one of the main goals of this project is capacity, and its relationship to previous work done by MSU. An example is Zambia.

“It’s been increasingly well known that African policymakers are I think more likely to get good policy advice, or wish to get good policy advice, from local African institutes. So we’ve been working to develop this agricultural policy institute here and I am pleased to report that as of February 9 of this year, that was the official launch of the Indaba Agricultural policy research institute, an independent, Zambian managed institute much like the Brookings Institute in the United States,” said Jayne.

Jayne emphasized the importance of capacity-building in Africa. He said he and his colleagues at the Gates Foundation lament that each year 15-20 good African PHD analysts in agriculture and economics graduate from programs around the world, but most do not return to their home countries to integrate their knowledge back into the African communities.

“What we are seeing instead, and you know these are very logical decisions that they make to do this, is that they may end up in the World Bank in Washington or IFPRI, or they may end up at Michigan State University, because the incentives of these institutions are very attractive, and they can pay much more than the University of Malawi, or the University of Zambia where they are much more constrained. So part of the systemic challenge here is how to improve the conditions at these African universities and research institutes so that it will want to attract good qualified African analysts to come and make a commitment to their institution and to their country, in a way that meets their needs at the same time,” explained Jayne.

It is well known and documented that farmers in Africa deal with extreme weather conditions, from droughts lasting for months to flooding. Jayne said farmers are noticing the palpable weather conditions.

“Here in Zambia this year right now, the rains should have been here already. But, here it is November 15th and it has only rained once or twice so far here. So the rains are late. This is an evolving pattern, more erratic rainfall, and when it does come, it comes in one or a concentrated cloud burst, with more intermittent dry spells in between,” explained Jayne, who also pointed out, “ this has important implications for the appropriateness of different farm technologies that will effectively work and adapt to climate change.

Some of this may involve conservation farming technologies, which are ways of retaining soil moisture. And the research that we are doing is looking at the extent to which adoption of these techniques is likely to improve farmers production and yields and their access to food throughout the dry season.”

The project will focus on three main staple crops – maize, sorghum and rice – to improve their response rate to fertilizer. These key crops have a significantly lower rate of growth for African farmers in comparison to the response rate for other farmers around the world. But Jayne said through tangible interaction with farmers, where they can actually see the improvement in their crops by applying new methods, they will incorporate the changes into the managing of their farms.

*Source VOA

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Celebrated Ethiopian footwear brand opens first outlet in Taiwan
November 6, 2012 | 0 Comments

BY JACO MARITZ *

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is one of Africa’s most celebrated businesswomen. The international media seemingly can’t get enough of this founder of soleRebels, an Ethiopian-based footwear company. She has won numerous entrepreneurship awards, posing in pictures with the likes of Richard Branson, and regularly speaks at conferences across the world. For many people, Alemu has become a poster child of Africa’s changing economic fortunes and women entrepreneurship on the continent.

SoleRebels shoes are made by Ethiopian artisans at a factory in the capital Addis Ababa. The company is the world’s first fair trade certified footwear brand. “At our core we at soleRebels are creative artisans who aim to craft the coolest and most comfortable footwear,” says Alemu. “In a world of faceless production-line assembled … shoes, soleRebels proudly stands apart and offers a much desired alternative. Our business model centres on eco-sensibility and community empowerment; product design and development involve a great deal of effort to achieve fashionable and appealing quality products that use local materials.”

The company was founded in 2005. It has a flagship retail store in Addis Ababa, although the majority of sales are generated online.
During an interview with How we made it in Africa in May this year, Alemu described her strategy to open soleRebels outlets throughout the world. Over the weekend, the company achieved an important milestone with the launch of its first stand alone branded retail store in Taiwan

“We are extremely excited by this store opening. Taiwan is an incredible market and the stores we are opening here give us a fantastic platform to showcase our incredible products and our innovative brand in an equally dynamic and fantastic market. This is the perfect place for soleRebels to anchor our Asia wide roll-out of soleRebels stores – truly historic strides for soleRebels,” said Alemu in an emailed statement.

hoes

The store has a lounge area that allows customers to learn more about the brand’s heritage and the unique artisan production techniques. Customers are encouraged to upload photos of themselves wearing their soleRebels shoes to the company’s website and are rewarded for doing so with a free soleRebels T-shirt.

The store is located in Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s second largest city. A total of up to 30 soleRebels outlets are planned for Taiwan, with three locations expected to open by the end of 2012.

SoleRebels predicts its global retail roll-out to add over US$15-20 million in revenues by 2015.
Speaking to How we made it in Africa earlier in the year, Alemu said that the continent needs to “start focusing on small and medium businesses, because they are the big engines of the economy. People … just need an opportunity, so we need to give them an opportunity to grow big with their ideas.”
She added that entrepreneurs should have a passion for their businesses. “Love what you are trying to do. If you don’t like what you are doing you are not going to be successful.”

*Source http://www.howwemadeitinafrica.com/celebrated-ethiopian-footwear-brand-opens-first-outlet-in-taiwan/21878/

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China’s Investments in Africa
November 2, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Ambassador David Shinn*

There is agreement among those who follow China-Africa relations that state-owned and private Chinese companies have become major investors in Africa over the past 10 years. Even Chinese individuals are investing small amounts in enterprises ranging from restaurants to acupuncture clinics. It is possible that in the past several years, China was the single largest bilateral source of annual foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa’s 54 countries.

There is, however, considerable confusion as to what constitutes Chinese investment in Africa. Many analyses, especially journalistic accounts, conflate investment with multi-billion dollar loans from China to African governments that often use the loans to build infrastructure by Chinese construction companies. These loans tend to go to resource rich countries such as Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ghana and are usually repaid by shipping natural resources to China. These loans are not FDI; they are commercial deals, albeit often with a concessionary loan component. It is important to keep them separate from investment.

So how much have Chinese companies and individuals invested in Africa? I have concluded that no one, including no one in China, knows the answer to this question. For that matter, it is not even clear how China defines FDI. China’s Minister of Commerce, Chen Deming, stated in mid-2012 that as of the end of 2011 China’s cumulative FDI in Africa “exceeded $14.7 billion, up 60 percent from 2009.” Also in mid-2012, China’s ambassador to South Africa, Tian Xuejun, in a wide ranging speech on China-Africa relations, said: “China’s investment in Africa of various kinds exceeds $40 billion, among which $14.7 billion is direct investment.” He did not explain the difference between investment of “various kinds” and “direct investment.”

Many scholars from China and elsewhere have looked at China’s FDI in Africa. There is no consensus on a total cumulative number except that it is considerably higher than the official figure. When I raised this conundrum early in 2012 in Beijing with a room full of Chinese officials, including one responsible for determining the official figure, he acknowledged the total is based only on FDI reported to the government. He commented that many Chinese invest without government authorization and these figures do not show up in government statistics. In addition, there is no way to ascertain how much Chinese FDI is funneled to Africa through tax shelters like Hong Kong and the Cayman Islands. Ambassador Tian’s undefined $40 billion plus total may well be close to the actual number.

More than 2,000 Chinese companies have invested in Africa. Most of the investment has gone into energy, mining, construction and manufacturing. China’s state-owned oil companies are active throughout the continent. The China National Petroleum Corporation, for example, invested up to $6 billion in Sudan’s oil sector. The China Power Investment Corporation plans to invest $6 billion in Guinea’s bauxite and alumina projects. Privately-owned Huawei and publicly-traded ZTE have become the principal telecommunications providers in a number of African countries. While most of their activity is sales, their operations are so large in some countries that they have established huge local offices. Increasingly, Chinese companies are moving into finance, aviation, agriculture and even tourism. In 2007, for example, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China purchased 20 percent of South Africa’s Standard Bank for $5.5 billion. Ever since, China has invested increasingly in the financial sector of African countries.

The bulk of China’s FDI has been concentrated in a relatively few countries. Between 2003 and 2007, five countries—Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Algeria and Zambia—accounted for more than 70 percent of China’s FDI. While these countries remain important recipients, others such as Guinea, Ghana, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia have joined the list in recent years. In 2010, Ethiopia had, for example, 580 registered Chinese companies operating with estimated investment capital of $2.2 billion. Some of this new FDI is coming thru Chinese special economic and trade cooperation zones. China is working with African counterparts to establish seven of them: two each in Zambia and Nigeria and one in Mauritius, Egypt and Ethiopia.

China began to increase significantly its investment in Africa at a time when Western companies, including those in the United States, were drawing back from Africa. China took advantage of opportunities and, to some extent, filled a void left by the West. However, because Western companies began investing in Africa much earlier, their cumulative investments far exceed China’s FDI in Africa. As of the end of 2010, for example, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis calculated that cumulative U.S. FDI in only Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) totaled $54 billion. U.S. FDI flows to SSA in 2010 reached $3.4 billion.

We may be witnessing a return to growing U.S. investment in Africa. Early in 2012, for example, Walmart finalized a deal worth more than $2 billion to acquire 51 percent of South Africa’s leading retailer, MassMart. The economic situation in Europe probably precludes in the short-term an increase in FDI flows to Africa. On the other hand, countries such as India, Brazil, Russia and Turkey are stepping up their FDI in Africa and, together with Western companies, will compete with China for the African FDI market.

The economic slowdown in China coupled with the arrival of new players in Africa may bring to an end China’s outsized FDI flows to Africa. In addition, China was willing, at least until recently, to take greater investment risks in Africa than most Western companies. Following attacks on Chinese operations in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region, Sudan’s Southern Kordofan region and the need to evacuate 35,000 Chinese workers from Libya, there are signs that China is reassessing the degree of risk it is willing to take in Africa. Nevertheless, China will remain an important source of FDI in Africa for many years to come.

*Source http://www.chinausfocus.com/finance-economy/chinas-investments-in-africa/. David Shinn is an adjunct professor in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, co-author of “China and Africa: A Century of Engagement”, and former US ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia.

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Africa mulls Obama’s presidency
November 2, 2012 | 0 Comments

Johannesburg – Four years ago Africa greeted Barack Obama’s election with rapture, predicting America’s first black president would smother the continent with attention. But instead of warm hand-holding, Africa got hard-headed, security-first policies.

Africa’s response to Obama’s election in November 2008 was nothing short of ecstatic. A Nigerian foreign minister wept, Nelson Mandela hailed it as proof that people should “dare to dream”, and Kenya declared a national holiday.

The fawning was quickly reciprocated, with Obama visiting Ghana just five months after his inauguration.

“I have the blood of Africa within me,” he emotively told the Ghanaian parliament and rapt television viewers across the continent. Africa, the new president declared, was now “a fundamental part of our interconnected world”.

Back-burner

But as America’s Great Recession deepened, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan trundled on and the Arab Spring exploded, sub-Saharan Africa found itself in a familiar spot; on the back-burner.

“There was an expectation that he was going to be the US President for Africa,” said long-time South African diplomat Thomas Wheeler, now of the South African Institute of International Affairs. “It was just an unrealistic expectation.”

“The fact that he had an African father did not mean that he was going to devote a lot more time to Africa.”

Symbolically, Obama’s visit to Ghana was to be his only trip to the region. Equally symbolically, it took until June this year for his White House to come up with a nine-page “US strategy toward sub-Saharan Africa”.

Yet the continent was far from ignored.

Quiet attention

Air Force One has been conspicuous in its absence, but the US Air Force and other branches of the US security services have not.

Quietly, US policy toward Africa has started to look a lot more hard-headed and a lot more like policy toward the rest of the world.

“Obama to my mind is more engaged in Africa, but the nature of how the United States is engaging has changed. It is mostly security related,” said Jason Warner, a Harvard-based expert on African security.

According to Warner, Obama has helped “normalise” Africa policy. “There is no other region in the world that the US engages on simply humanitarian grounds.”

Since Obama took office it has been widely reported that the administration has expanded a network of air bases across Africa, training its might on al-Qaeda affiliated militants and other groups.

More covert

Clandestine bases in Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Uganda are said to have been used variously to spy on al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and track elements of the Lord’s Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony.

Unconfirmed US drone strikes are reported with some frequency in Somalia.

According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between 58 and 170 people have been killed in 10 to 23 strikes on Somalia, although some took place during George W Bush’s administration.

“The nature of what he is doing is definitely more covert. But you do get these glimpses every few months that the US is really deeply embedded in Africa,” said Warner.

A year ago Obama deployed 100 US special forces to help Ugandan troops scour thick African jungles of the Central African Republic for Kony – an indicted war criminal – backed up by surveillance planes.

Africom

The linchpin for this newly securitised policy toward Africa is the United States Africa Command, or Africom, which operates as a nerve centre for US military operations and military-to-military contacts in the region.

The command became operational barely one month before Obama was elected and now boasts 2 000 designated staff. By one count that is more Africa staff than the foreign aid department USAid.

But much like Obama’s security policy in Africa, Africom has remained largely low-key. It is based in Stuttgart, Germany, rather than in the region, in part to allay accusations of neo-colonial ambitions.

Officials are keen to talk up military training programmes and not so willing to discuss covert operations.

Balance

That lack of bombast has been welcomed by many on the continent.

According to Chidi Odinkalu, head of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and a respected activist, Obama’s policy toward one crisis – Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamist insurgency – has struck a balance.

“It would’ve been easy to overreach… and take Nigeria into the realm of the global war on terror. But I think the US has recognised the particularities of the situation.”

Still, there is little doubt that Obama has missed an opportunity to create goodwill through more high-profile appearances in African capitals, but according to John Campbell, a former US ambassador to Nigeria, the impact of the loss is limited.

“I don’t doubt that for many people on the street it is somehow or other disappointing,” he said. “But you keep looking for concrete examples of where it has damaged relations, and I don’t really see any.”

Regardless of the perceived neglect, Obama’s power to grasp the African imagination remains undimmed, according to Nigerian rights activist Odinkalu.

“I think the success of the Obama presidency goes beyond whatever he’s done for Africa.”

*Source http://www.news24.com/Africa/News/Africa-mulls-Obamas-presidency-20121101
– AFP

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Africa: Calls for Obama, Romney to Debate Africa
October 18, 2012 | 0 Comments

Cape Town — American lobby groups advocating stronger United States government action to bring peace to Central and East Africa are calling on candidates in the U.S. presidential elections to give their views on the issue in their debates.

The Enough Project says in a blog post that Africa advocates want President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney to discuss what it calls “the growing crisis in Sudan,” as well as the regulation of conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the hunt for Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony in central Africa.

During the debate Tuesday night, the only Africa-related issue the candidates dealt with concerned the recent killing of the American ambassador to Libya.

Enough said on Tuesday that so far there had been only one mention of humanitarian intervention, in the vice presidential debate, when Romney running mate Paul Ryan had been asked for his party’s criteria for humanitarian intervention.

The next and last debate before the November election, which will take place on Monday, October 22, focuses on foreign policy.

Enough called on supporters to back efforts by Act for Sudan and the anti-genocide campaign, STAND, to press debate moderators to ask candidates how they would prevent atrocities around the world and “how they propose to change U.S. policy to better prevent human rights abuses in Sudan.”

*Source http://allafrica.com/stories

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Angola launches $5 bln sovereign wealth fund
October 18, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Shrikesh Laxmidas*

LISBON (Reuters) – Angola on Wednesday launched a $5 billion sovereign wealth fund to invest in domestic and overseas assets by funnelling its vast oil wealth into infrastructure, hotels and other high-growth projects.

Africa’s second-largest crude oil producer is looking to diversify its oil-dependent economy by developing infrastructure outside the energy industry. The country was devastated by a 27-year civil war that ended a decade ago.

Nigeria, the continent’s top oil producer, has already set up a similar $1 billion fund, although its progress has been hampered by political wrangling.

“The Nigerian fund is mainly for liquid, low-yield assets, while the Angolan fund’s mandate is broader, with investment in the real economy domestically,” said Richard Segal, head of emerging markets strategy at Jefferies in London.

The Angolan Sovereign Fund (FSA), which will also invest in financial securities, will be headed by President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos’ economic affairs secretary, the fund’s board said in a statement.

Jose Filomeno dos Santos, one of the president’s sons, will also sit on the three-person board, an appointment likely to raise further questions about government transparency. President Dos Santos has led the country for 33 years and was sworn in for a new five-year term last month.

The fund said its first investments will be in projects to develop agriculture, water, power generation and transport, with an early focus on the hotel industry in sub-Saharan Africa.

OIL REVENUES

Until now the southwest African country was one of the few OPEC member states without a sovereign wealth fund.

Oil revenues represent over 95 percent of Angola’s export income and around 45 percent of gross domestic product. After years of double-digit growth, Angola’s economy suffered a rapid slow down after oil prices tumbled in 2008.

GDP, which the World Bank estimated at $101 billion last year, is set to grow between 8 and 10 percent this year thanks to higher oil prices and output.

Filomeno dos Santos told Reuters in a telephone interview the fund was not a stabilisation tool in the event of an oil price shock, but was aimed at diversifying the economy and creating wealth.

It will grow from further oil revenues transferred by the government and from returns on its investment projects, he added, although he declined to estimate the fund’s growth.

“There may be a lot of good intentions, but in a country where there is no transparency, corruption is high and key places go those close to the leader, we see little chance of this plan working to help Angolans,” Alcides Sakala, spokesman for main opposition party UNITA told Reuters.

The FSA board said it will be assisted by a council composed of senior ministers and the central bank governor, and will publish accounts annually and have them audited by an international audit firm.

“The transparency of the fund will be guaranteed by our strict reporting and auditing rules and an investment policy to be announced soon,” Filomeno dos Santos said.

It was not immediately clear when the investment policy would be announced, or if it would be enough to assuage concerns about governance.

“It seems there will be more transparency on this than is typical in Angola, but it will still be less than in other countries’ funds,” Jefferies’ Segal said.

*Source http://af.reuters.com/article

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Goldman Sachs Appoints Nigerian Banker To Its Board
October 18, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Mfonobong Nsehe*

Goldman Sachs has appointed Adebayo Ogunlesi, a Nigerian investment banker and private equity tycoon, to its board of directors, the company said in a press release on Monday.

Ogunlesi, 59, is the chairman of Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), an infrastructure investment firm he co-founded.

Ogunlesi is popularly referred to as The Man Who Bought Gatwick Airport in African business circles- a reference to a 2010 deal in which he led GIP’s $2.4 billion acquisition of London’s Gatwick Airport. Ogunlesi also led the company’s acquisition of London City Airport and Edinburgh Airport in 2006 and 2012, respectively.

In a press statement, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said that Goldman Sachs’ shareholders will benefit from Adebayo’s “wealth of knowledge and rigorous thinking”. “He has advised companies and institutions around the world and invested in many of the most important sectors in the global economy,” Blankfein said.

According to a brief biographical sketch from Ventures Africa, Adebayo (known as Bayo) Ogunlesi is the son of Nigeria’s first professor of medicine. He attended the prestigious King’s College Lagos, received a B.A with first class honors in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University, a law degree and MBA from Harvard University. He practiced law for two years at Cravath, Swaine & Moore after clerking for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. He then pursued a career on Wall Street. From 1983 to 2006 he held various positions at Credit Suisse Investment Bank and its predecessor firms. Ogunlesi is also the Chairman of Africa Finance Corporation, a Pan-African infrastructure investment firm.

* Source http://blogs.forbes.com/mfonobongnsehe .Follow author on Twitter @EmperorDIV

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Africa and the US presidential campaign
October 11, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Simon Reich*

The-administration-of-Barack-Obama-–-seated-here-with-South-African-President-Jacob-Zuma-–-has-been-criticised-for-not-focusing-more-foreign-policy-attention-on-Africa.-EPA-Olivier-DoulieryThis year’s US presidential election has been notable for the lack of focus on foreign policy issues by either candidate.

Certainly Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, has attempted to gain traction by criticising President Barack Obama over his reaction to developments in the Middle East and North Africa, his relationship with Russia, his economic policy towards China and his refusal to be drawn into specifics over US policy towards Iran.

Yet these have failed to generate much interest among the American public, and the President’s response, confined to his recent address to the United Nations, amounted to little more than rhetorical flourishes about these issues.

Although the presidential debates provide the opportunity for the candidates to discuss foreign policy, they will probably confine themselves to restating their position on these four issues. With the exception of limited exchanges regarding the assassination of Christopher Stevens inLibya,Africa will therefore receive little attention in these debates. Sub-SaharanAfrica will largely be ignored. Why is this so? Why should they focus their attention onAfrica and what will be the consequence of their negligence?

There is, of course, a simple two-part answer to the neglect of African issues. The first is that the relatively dire economic situation at home coupled with a diminished national security threat from global terrorism has engendered a parochial focus on domestic issues.Americahas historically led the global economy out of recessions. Yet this time, according to all the major indicators – unemployment, GDP, and public and private debt – it is lagging most of Asia and even parts of beleagueredEurope.

“All politics is local”, the adage goes, and in that context Americans – like their European counterparts – are much more focused on relieving domestic poverty than addressing global hunger. This is an election in which grand visions remain at a premium. Thus although every speech invokes the importance of American leadership and its significance as a model for development, such platitudes are little more than observed rituals in a taut political season.

The second predictable answer is that Africa remains a low strategic priority for the US. Certainly, there are notable exceptions. The UShas led the successful campaign in addressing the piracy stemming from Somalia, and it has deployed personnel to assist in the battle against Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army. Most notably, perhaps, the US remains the largest OECD aid donor toAfrica.

Yet this relative neglect of Africa generates a second question: why should theUSrise above focusing on the immediate and pay more attention toAfrica? The most obvious response is that it has a moral responsibility to address the dire needs ofAfrica’s vast population. Bluntly stated, however, this claim is unlikely to draw much support domestically. Neither advocating donor aid nor foreign investment is compatible with an electoral agenda that focuses on budget cutting and job creation. Foreigners are always surprised to learn that public opinion polls repeatedly suggest Americans heavily favour global engagement, multilateralism and philanthropic activity abroad. But in the current environment, the justification for any debate aboutAfricahas to appeal to American interests.

Yet there are two policy areas that should nevertheless be of strategic interest to the United States. The first concerns its national security, notably its lack of friends and allies in the region. The US has spent much of the last decade focusing on the threats posed by terrorism, nuclear proliferation, human trafficking and piracy. USintelligence has focused much of its attention on failed states as the source of these problems. Africa remains home to ten of the 15 highest-ranked failed states according to the 2012 Foreign Policy/Fund for Peace Index and therefore should be a priority for US security. Yet Africom, the Department of Defense agency that focuses on Africa, could not even find an African country willing to house its regional headquarters, as a result, is located in Germany.

From the American perspective, the death of Osama bin Laden and the decline in the number of piracy attacks has reduced the military importance of failed states. But the

Chinese economic influence in Africa is growing quickly: President Hu Jintao with his Equatorial Guinean counterpart Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo at a summit. EPA/How Hwee Young

Chinese economic influence in Africa is growing quickly: President Hu Jintao with his Equatorial Guinean counterpart Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo at a summit. EPA/How Hwee Young

unpredictable nature of these problems, as demonstrated by the recent surge in jihadism inMali andNigeria, suggests that Africa may again become the source of theUS’ national security threats, if not against its mainland then against its personnel and property abroad

The second policy area that should concern the USis, of course, economic. As Deborah Brautigam notes in her 2009 book, Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa, the People’s Republic of China has made enormous inroads as both donors and investors across Africa since the turn of the century. Although no official records are available, Chinese aid to the region is now estimated to exceed that of the World Bank, and is far more popular amongAfrica’s political leaders because the Chinese ignore concerns about human rights, labour standards and environmental protection that are key components of World Bank deals.

The Chinese commitment is significant: Africa reportedly received 14% of Chinese investment in 2010. Having already injected a comparable sum in the last decade, China recently pledged a further $20 billion in tied aid across Africa to complement its $166 billion in annual trade at a meeting of the Forum on Chinese-African Cooperation. The effect has been a huge growth in African-Chinese trade and in Chinese foreign direct investment, and China is now Africa’s largest trading partner. Indeed, some estimates suggest that trade could rise to as much as US$400 billion in the next few years, with natural resources flowing toChina and finished products back toAfrica.

And where are the Americans in all of this? What are the implications? WhileUSpolicymakers focus on national security in Asia and the influx of cheap Chinese imports at home, they are clearly losing the battle for the hearts, minds, markets and resources ofAfrica.

The failure of US policymakers to recognise that Africa is a vibrant emergent market, not just a security concern or a target for philanthropy, may cost them dearly in the years ahead, both economically and in terms of America’s already waning political influence in the region.

*The author is Professor in Division of Global Affairs inRutgersUniversity.Source http://theconversation.edu.au/africa-and-the-us-presidential-campaign-9816

 

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Frosty relations with Hollande see Gabon break the French connection
October 11, 2012 | 0 Comments

President swaps colonial language for English after being inspired byRwanda’s example

By Alex Duval Smith

With all the timing of a coup de théâtre,Gabonhas turned its back on French, the language of its former colonial rulers, in favour of English.

Francois Hollande and Ali Bongo the French Empire may be crumbling in Africa

Francois Hollande and Ali Bongo the French Empire may be crumbling in Africa

The move by the tiny, oil-rich country will put a damper on the 14th summit of the Francophonie, the gathering of 56 French-speaking countries due to begin in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday. “I am shocked by the timing of the announcement,” Francophonie secretary-general, Abdou Diouf, told France 24 Television.

The West African country is the latest African country to turn away from its colonial language. In 2009, in a strongly political move,Rwandadropped French in favour of English and joined the Commonwealth.

Gabon’s President, Ali Bongo Ondimba, spent last weekend inRwanda”to look closely atRwanda’s experience with the introduction of bilingualism,” said his spokesman, Alain-Claude Bilie-By-Nze. “The president ofGabonplans to introduce English into our country,” he added. “If the Rwandan experience is conclusive why should we not draw inspiration from such an experience…?”

Gabon, which has a population of 1.5 million, has only had three presidents since independence in 1960, and was a key player in “la Françafrique”, the name given to the network of French corporate influence over African nations.

Ali Bongo’s father, President Omar Bongo Ondimba, held power for 41 years and allegedly spent huge sums of money supporting the election campaigns of successive French presidents. But he died in office in 2009, around the same time as investigations by the French judiciary turned up suspicions of ill-gotten gains spent on sports cars and Parisian real estate. Among the Bongo Ondimba family’s acquisitions inParisis the Hotel Soyecourt in the 7th arrondissement, bought by the family in 2010 for €98m (£79m).

The then president, Nicholas Sarkozy, tried to smoothe over judicial hiccups by giving Ali Bongo Ondimba, 53, the Légion d’Honneur in 2010. But the damage was done and Ali Bongo set out to “diversify” the economy, bringing in new business partners from theUnited States,AustraliaandChina. He has also launched an ambitious rebranding exercise, masterminded not by a French PR agency but by the British lobby firm Bell Pottinger. When Gabon co-hosted the African Cup of Nations with Equatorial Guinea earlier this year, riot control vehicles were bought from a fellow Bell Pottinger client, the South African military hardware firm Paramount.

Meanwhile, the current President, François Hollande, has come under greater pressure than his predecessors to question the human rights records and democracy credentials of countriesFrancedoes business with. According to Paul-Simon Handy, deputy executive director of the Institute for Security Studies inPretoria,Gabon’s decision to move towards using English as a working language marks a clear break with the past.

“Gabonwould not have abandoned French under Sarkozy,” he said. “In many ways it is a pragmatic move that reflects the decline in influence of French. But what will be more interesting will be which African countries now feel free to followGabon’s lead. There could be quite a few.”

*Source http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa

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Shalom Africa Israel’s second coming
October 11, 2012 | 0 Comments

Brand new embassies, booming trade in agriculture, precious stones and information technology together with shadowy security deals:Israelis back inAfrica. But this time tycoons and generals are leading the charge.

From the besieged migrant workers in shanty-towns around the central bus station in Tel Aviv to the chauffeur-driven African diplomats threading through the traffic ofYitzhak Rabin   Boulevardto the ministry of foreign affairs inJerusalem, the message is clear. The Africa-Israel axis is back in business.

More than 40 African countries have full diplomatic relations withIsrael, and that is more than before the rupture in response to the Six-Day War in 1967. Trade is growing rapidly – much faster than official data records – and new security arrangements are being set up in the shadows. Senior officials in the foreign affairs ministry such as Emmanuel Seri and Marc Attali talk of a new buzz in theAfricadepartment.

They see the accreditation of seasoned diplomat Haim Koren toSouth Sudanas a land-mark.Israelnow has five embassies inEast Africa, which it sees as its security backyard. Less discussed are the growing numbers of African politicians – in power and opposition – journeying toJerusalemto meet with their counter- parts, aid officials or securocrats.

Israelhas also sent a young Africa specialist, Sharon Barli to headIsrael’s mission inAccra, the first timeIsraelhas had an ambassador inGhanafor 30 years. More groundbreaking still isIsrael’s appointment of Beylanesh Zevadia, a Beta Israeli woman of Ethiopian origin, as its ambassador toAddis Ababa

africa -israel-stats

africa -israel-stats

Beylanesh’s appointment could also helpIsrael’s application to the African Union to reinstate its rights as an observer member.Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had made a ban onIsrael’s attendance a condition of his financial contributions to the organisation.

Foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s trip toEthiopia,Kenya,Nigeria,GhanaandUgandain September 2009 was the highest-level Israeli delegation toAfricafor 30 years. There are plans for another Lieberman trip this year, followed soon afterwards by one by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Although there was much fine talk on Lieberman’s trip about combating desertification, developing biotechnology and boosting farm yields, it had an overwhelming security imperative. Also on the plane with the minister was an official from the defence ministry’s foreign assistance department and a phalanx of executives from arms companies such as Soltam Systems, Israel Military Industries, Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit Systems.

Murky Waters

Some arms deals have proved questionable, such as a $275m contract withNigeriain 2006 for three Aerostar drones secured byIsrael’s Aeronautics Defense Systems and a little-known British-registered company called Hudson Marine Management for use against militants in the Niger Delta.

Executives from a rival Israeli drone manufacturer said the contract was appallingly overpriced and was secured mainly by the efforts of the ex-director of the Shin Bet intelligence service, Avigdor Ben-Gal, who is on the board of Aeronautics.

Similar criticisms about transparency and accountability were raised about a $100m contract between Israeli companies and President Teodoro Obiang Nguema’s regime inEquatorial   Guineafor patrol craft and drones, initially due for delivery last year.Israel’s largest reputed arms deal with Africa in recent years was a $1bn set of contracts withAngola, supplied by Israel Aerospace Industries and Tadiran, and including more than $200m in artillery, mortars and ammunition from Soltam.

Yet, in the aftermath of Lieberman’s Africa trip, the deputy director of the foreign ministry, Haim Divon, told journalists that “the most important need ofAfricais countering hunger and the shortage of water, not arms.” He was pointing to the old tensions between diplomats and securocrats.

According to veteran Africanist and a former liberal member of the Knesset, Naomi Chazan, these tensions reflect the absence of a clear Israeli state strategy. Instead, private firms broker contacts with African governments and finance the visits of their leaders toIsrael. She writes: “If in the past there was an overt struggle between the diplomats and African aficionados on the one hand and the defence establishment and private interests on the other, in this latest phase of Israeli-Africa relations, this battle has been won by the latter.”

africa israel stats

africa israel stats

Certainly Lieberman, regarded as the most hawkish foreign minister sinceIsrael’s foundation, appears far more concerned with domestic politics than grand international strategy. He says he wants to revoke the citizenship of Israeli Arabs who will not swear an oath of loyalty to the state, and he tried to bar two Arab political parties that opposedIsrael’s 2008-2009 Gaza war from naming parliamentary candidates.

One academic compared Lieberman to a “bull in a china shop” whom Netanyahu has to keep away from the more delicately balanced politics of the Middle East and the fractious relations betweenIsrael’s ruling coalition and President Barack Obama’s government inWashington.

Police are currently investigating claims that diamond magnate Dan Gertler made substantial payments to companies controlled by Lieberman. Both men fervently deny wrongdoing and look untouchable politically, even ifIsrael’s independent courts can often surprise politicians.

However much Lieberman’s views grate with liberal Israelis, some express muted respect for the way he has been able to push Africa back onto the government’s political agenda, even if it is mainly for a combination of geopolitical, security and narrow business interests.

Chazan argues thatIsrael’s relations withAfricaare linked to “the shifting concerns of its decision-makers rather than any consistent policy design.” Israeli academics worry about the privatisation and personalisation of policy. That trend emerged in the 1970s when Mossad agents, military experts and tycoons – who would report to the Israeli government but also profit personally from their operations – replaced diplomats asIsrael’s intermediaries with African leaders and oppositionists.

Kibbutz to Kalashnikov

Abraham Avi Sivan, a former head of the Israeli defence delegation to Cameroon who died in a helicopter crash in 2010, became a security adviser to Cameroon’s President Paul Biya and founded the country’s Bataillon d’Intervention Rapide.

These sorts of ties are far fromIsrael’sAfricapolicy in the 1950s and 1960s, which was based on its own nation-building experience such as the socialist-oriented kibbutz and moshav agricultural cooperatives. That spirit reached its apogee under Golda Meir. She led missions to Africa, establishing close ties with leaders such asTanzania’s Julius Nyerere andKenya’s Jomo Kenyatta.

Part of it survives in Mashav, the agency for international development cooperation. But Mashav director Daniel Carmon emphasises that its resources and reach have been much reduced since the 1960s: “We don’t try to compete with USAID orBritain’s DFID, but we can often work well with them on a trilateral basis.”

The most successful projects, he says, are those where there is a large transfer of …

Read the original article on Theafricareport.com : Shalom Africa Israel’s second coming | The Africa Report.com
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South Sudan: First Paved Highway in South Sudan Constructed By USAID, Officially Opened
October 5, 2012 | 0 Comments

Washington, DC — On September 12, U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Susan D. Page and President of the Republic of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit inaugurated South Sudan’s 192-kilometer-long Juba-Nimule Road, the largest infrastructure project ever built in South Sudan, and the young nation’s first paved highway.

The inauguration comes one day after the two governments signed a new bilateral assistance agreement, which provides the legal framework for the U.S. Government’s provision of development assistance to South Sudan.

The Juba-Nimule Road was the top infrastructure priority of the Government of South Sudan following the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended Sudan’s civil war. The road has reduced travel time between Nimule and Juba from eight hours to less than three hours, linking Juba with Uganda and providing the shortest, most efficient route to the Port of Mombasa in Kenya.

“This road literally paves the way to South Sudan’s future,” said U.S. Ambassador Page. “The road has integrated South Sudan into East African transportation and trade corridors, bringing to the people of South Sudan ordinary goods they need day to day, humanitarian assistance for those in need, as well as equipment and materials for those who are investing and building in South Sudan.”

President Kiir lauded the continuing friendship of the American and South Sudanese people, as exhibited in the building of this important road. “These are our friends, and they will be our friends for good,” he said. “This is an achievement that should not be forgotten,” he added.

The U.S. Government, through USAID, also helped the Government prepare policy and implementation guidelines for establishing and enforcing axle load controls to prevent overloading of trucks, which can be dangerous and make the road deteriorate more quickly. USAID is also working with the Ministry of Roads and Bridges on allocation of space for construction of weigh stations. The Draft Traffic Act, which is being reviewed by the South Sudan National Legislative Assembly, will provide the legal basis for regulating and enforcing axle load control and other operations and use of the road networks.

The road has generated economic activities along the route, and created employment and training opportunities for South Sudanese communities, thereby enhancing stability. It has also facilitated the return of refugees and internally displaced persons and the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and provides security and improved access to services such as health care.

The project, which began in 2007, included demining; grading and tarmacking the road; construction of eight new bridges built to modern standards to handle truck traffic, replacing dangerous, decades-old bridges; and a road safety education program that won the 2011 International Road Federation global achievement award on road safety.

When the project began, the route between Juba and Nimule was unpaved and difficult to travel. The improved road has not only reduced travel time and enhanced trade, but has brought other benefits to local communities and the government, including boreholes that were drilled in locations so that communities could benefit from them following the road construction, and training of South Sudanese companies in road maintenance, so that local private sector companies will have the skills needed to maintain the Juba-Nimule road and other roads throughout South Sudan.

Three construction camps that were used for road building activities have been handed over to the Ministry of Roads and Bridges for use in road maintenance and highway patrol.

The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, in partnership with the Department of Justice, trained the first-ever Highway Patrol Unit in South Sudan to provide a police presence and enhance road safety on the vital Juba-Nimule Highway. In the fall of 2011, the program provided training to the officers of the Highway Patrol Unit, and in summer 2012, 10 motorcycles and safety equipment were turned over to the officers who use them to patrol the highway.

*Source http://afrikanpost.com/

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