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

20 October 2021

Why Is China Looking to Establish Banks in Nigeria?

Oluwatosin Adeshokan

During the commemoration of the 2021 Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria Cui Jianchun announced that he was in talks with some of China’s big banks to establish operations in Nigeria. Cui talked up Nigeria and China’s growing links and spoke about the importance of banking and banking systems in the development of both countries. He then spoke about potential conversations with Nigeria’s Central Bank and the Nigerian central government in Abuja about establishing a substantial banking presence in Nigeria.

This new proposal of deeper financial links is a solidification of China-Nigeria relations. In 2018, Nigeria and China signed an initial three-year currency swap agreement that saw Nigeria move some of its foreign reserves to China. The size of the swap deal was put at 15 billion renminbi or 720 billion naira.

U.S.-Africa Policy Monitor

Climate Change
Climate Week NYC occurred last week from September 20-26 and was hosted by the non-profit organization Climate Group in conjunction with the United Nations, the City of New York and the upcoming COP26 under the theme of “Getting it done.” The week was dedicated to fulfilling and increasing commitments on climate change made by businesses, governments and organizations especially ahead of the COP26.

2021 has seen some of the most destructive natural disasters recorded, and it is just the beginning. According to NASA, the global temperature has risen 2.1 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880 and carbon dioxide levels have risen by 416 parts per million (the highest it has been in 650,000 years). These changes, among many others, have negatively impacted the environment and self-revving ecosystem. Climate change was first recognized to be a serious issue by the United Nations in 1992, which was then followed by a couple notable documents such as the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and the Paris Accord in 2015. However, world leaders have failed to slow the global temperature rise and have failed to fulfill their pledges particularly as it pertains to aiding at risk countries.

26 September 2021

Congo renews push to resolve Nile dam dispute

Muhammed Magdy

CAIRO — After more than five months since the last round of negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) failed in Kinshasa in April, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is seeking to revive talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in a bid to solve the decadelong dispute over the controversial dam.

On Sept. 15, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the DRC Christophe Lutundula Apala arrived in Cairo as part of his tour to the three disputing parties as part of efforts to revive the tripartite negotiations on the GERD.

Abbas Sharaki, a professor of geology and water resources at Cairo University, believes there is a renewed Congolese will to resolve the issue. He told Al-Monitor Apala’s visit comes after months of calm surrounding the GERD dossier after the issue was last raised at the UN Security Council on July 8.

The visit, he added, also coincided with the UN Security Council’s statement on Sept. 15 that called on the concerned parties to resume negotiations “within a reasonable time frame.”

7 September 2021

Will the next Afghanistan be in Africa?

The Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan last week — or at least the speed by which they did so — took many by surprise. The debate over who bears the ultimate responsibility — President Biden, the Afghan military or previous U.S. presidents — may never be fully resolved. But that the present situation is a devastating outcome for both the U.S. and Afghanistan alike is hard to deny. Likewise, the ramifications of the Taliban's victory are likely to extend beyond Afghanistan to the rest of the world. Will militant groups in other countries emulate the Taliban's strategy? Will vacuums left by the U.S. and other Western countries leave other weak states vulnerable to jihadist conquest? Nowhere are these risks more potent than in Africa.

A continent at risk

Americans typically associate terrorism with the Middle East. But in recent years, the rise of jihadist groups in Africa has seen the continent become "the heart" of global terrorism. Seven African countries rank among the top 10 nations facing the greatest terrorism threats, according to the 2020 Terrorism Index published by the global risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft. Burkina Faso, Mali and Somalia were rated 0 on the list (the lowest possible score), placing them alongside Afghanistan and Syria as the world's highest-risk countries. Cameroon, Mozambique, Niger, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which are all afflicted by violence from al-Qaeda or ISIS-affiliated jihadist groups, also appeared in the index. Countries not on the list but also home to Islamist insurgencies include Algeria, Chad, Libya, Kenya and Nigeria.

4 September 2021

20 years after 9/11, jihadi terrorism rises in Africa

Alexandre Marc

The very rapid fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban is bringing back the nightmarish thought that global jihadi terrorist groups will again find a haven where they can reorganize and thrive. It also draws attention to Africa, where jihadi groups have been on the rise. Twenty years after September 11, they are expending their war of terror in large portions of the continent. A scenario where a country such as Mali — with its corruption, lack of political cohesion, and weak armed forces — would be overwhelmed by jihadi groups is realistic: it nearly happened in 2013. Reflecting on the lessons of Afghanistan for Africa is urgent, as Western nations become extremely reluctant to increase their engagement in fighting these insurgencies after the Afghanistan fiasco.

Terrorism linked to radical Islamist movements has decreased since 2014 when it had reached a record year, both in terms of number of incidents and deaths. Terrorism outside of countries experiencing a jihadi insurgency has declined even more sharply, suggesting that the capacity of many groups to conduct attacks against civilians outside of their areas of day-to-day operations has been seriously curtailed. The Global Terrorism Index, which measures terrorist incidents around the world, shows that deaths linked to terrorist attacks declined by 59% between 2014 and 2019 — to a total of 13,826 — with most of them connected to countries with jihadi insurrections. However, in many places across Africa, deaths have risen dramatically.

14 August 2021

Africa: New Playground For Crypto Scams And Money Laundering – Analysis

Richard Chelin*

Africa has the smallest crypto currency economy globally, but the market is growing steadily. The legitimate use of cryptos can boost commerce on the continent, particularly among individuals, small businesses and entrepreneurs. These were the users responsible for most of the recent increases in crypto transfers recorded in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya.

But Africa must prepare for the threats that come with digital currencies – notably crypto scams, organised crime and financial crimes such as money laundering or crypto laundering.

The world’s biggest crypto scam in 2020 was perpetrated in South Africa by Mirror Trading International. Using a Ponzi scheme, hundreds of thousands of victims were swindled out of US$588 million in Bitcoin. In April 2021, South Africa was again in the news with an even bigger crypto hack – this time by a company called Africrypt, whose two founders stole US$3.6 billion from investors in a matter of hours.

13 August 2021

China’s Presence in Africa Is at Heart Political

Thierry Pairault

For all the talk of China’s growing presence in Africa, its economic engagement is surprisingly limited. In 2020, Africa accounted for 4 percent of China’s trade with the world (4.4 percent for its exports and 3.6 percent for its imports). In 2019, the continent accounted for just 2.9 percent of Chinese direct investment flows in the world. Since Africa is made up of 54 countries, 53 of which recognize Beijing, economic relations are even less important by country.

On the other hand, China accounted for 16.4 percent of Africa’s trade with the world in 2020 (12.8 percent for its exports and 19.2 percent for its imports), but there is no direct African investment flow to China. China was also the source of $153 billion in cumulative loans to African countries between 2000 and 2019.

China is clearly important to Africa, but Africa’s economic importance to China is very modest. So, what part does Africa play in China’s globalization strategy?

Africa Is a Continent of Contradictions

It makes sense that a continent that is home to 54 countries and 1.2 billion people would also house a mass of contradictory developments. Africa features several of the world’s fastest-growing economies and a burgeoning middle class. But much of the continent remains mired in debt, burdened by conflict, and beset by elites clinging to power. Now, although the human cost of the coronavirus pandemic has so far been less catastrophic than many feared, the unfair distribution of vaccines worldwide has left African populations vulnerable to a punishing second wave, even as the pandemic’s economic impact could undo much of the continent’s growth over the past two decades.

Even during the years when economies across Africa expanded, many people were driven to migrate—either within Africa or to Europe and even South America—because of humanitarian catastrophes or because economic opportunities were not coming fast enough for everyone. Those who remained behind at times succeeded in disrupting the status quo. Civilian-led reform movements toppled regimes in Algeria and Sudan in 2019, and recent examples of independent courts overturning fraudulent elections—as well as other signs of democratic institutions taking hold in previously corrupt or authoritarian states—offered hope for the health of democracy in Africa. Yet, a rash of recent elections marred by fraud and violence, including several involving incumbents seeking constitutionally dubious third terms, confirms that the phenomenon of long-ruling authoritarian leaders—known as “presidents for life”—remains a problem.

11 August 2021

Who Assassinated Haiti’s President? The Mystery Gets Murkier

Drew Hinshaw, Ryan Dube, Kejal Vyas and Juan Forero

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti—After he climbed the bloodstained staircase, Carl Henry Destin found a baffling scene.

The Haitian president lay dead on the floor, with multiple gunshot wounds. Every drawer was flung open, and papers were scattered as if someone had been searching for something.

“The bedroom had been totally ransacked…documents everywhere,” Mr. Destin said. “There were a lot of witnesses, but they didn’t want to talk.”

Mr. Destin, a judicial officer often tasked with logging evidence at a murder scene, counted dozens of bullet holes and their locations at the presidential residence. He was struck by the chaos of the scene and the thin recollections from the bystanders who described little more than hearing the clatter of gunfire.

Outside, police frantically halted traffic as they searched for Colombian mercenaries they said had been running through the narrow streets of the hillside neighborhood.

Violent Extremism in Sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons From the Rise of Boko Haram

Audu Bulama Bukarti

On 26 July 2009, Boko Haram launched its first series of attacks on several police stations across northern Nigeria, culminating in a four-day standoff with security forces that ended with the death of hundreds of its members including founder and first leader, Muhammed Yusuf. As surviving members went underground to plan a deadly insurgency, Nigerian authorities expressed confidence that the group had been defeated. The following summer, Boko Haram returned under new leadership with an official name and a fresh mode of operation that would prove to be far more sophisticated and lethal than the original.

Over the past 12 years, Boko Haram has grown into one of the most influential and dominant terrorist groups in the world. Though the group has gained notoriety for its violence and mass kidnappings in Nigeria’s North East, Boko Haram is today a transnational threat that has sustained an insurgency despite both regional and international military counterterrorism efforts. Around the Lake Chad Basin, including in Niger, Cameroon and Chad, the militants of Boko Haram stage daily attacks and raids. This is further complicating efforts to manage other conflicts across the Sahel, creating a complex jihadist problem encasing either side of West Africa.

Haiti Can Solve Its Own Problems, if Foreign Powers Would Let It

Vincent Joos

Three weeks after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, and a week after being sworn in as prime minister, Ariel Henry held his first Cabinet meeting on July 28. It did not go well. In an effort to distance himself from the unpopular Moise administration, Henry attempted to revoke a 2020 presidential decree creating a national intelligence agency, which had been widely criticized as an unaccountable secret police that could potentially spy on Moise’s political opponents.

But in response to Henry’s proposal, the Cabinet’s secretary-general, Renald Luberice, submitted a letter expressing his opposition to dismantling Moise’s agenda, in which he invoked the memory of the recently slain president and the necessity to continue his work. Ultimately, Henry backed off.

The episode illustrates just how challenging the road forward will be for Henry as he tries to organize new elections “as quickly as possible.” Beyond the divisions within his own government, Henry faces many overlapping crises. First, violent gangs, many of which had forged ties with Moise and his allies, control entire neighborhoods of the capital, Port-au-Prince, fueling a wave of violent crime that has displaced thousands of residents. On June 30, journalist Diego Charles and activist Antoinette Duclair were shot and killed by unidentified men on a motorcycle—part of a long string of assassinations of pro-democracy figures going back to 2018.

8 August 2021

How China Helps the Cuban Regime Stay Afloat and Shut Down Protests

Leland Lazarus and Evan Ellis

On July 11, thousands of people across Cuba took to the streets, fed up with the lack of food, basic products, medicine, and vaccines to combat COVID-19. They were the first large-scale demonstrations in Cuba since 1994, and the largest since Fidel Castro took power in 1959. Protesters used social media to broadcast to the world what was happening, but the communist regime shut off the internet and telephone services, pulling the plug on their connection outside the island.

The key to the regime’s ability to do so was China. Chinese companies have played a key part in building Cuba’s telecommunications infrastructure, a system the regime uses to control its people, just as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) does within its own borders.

When the protests began, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio tweeted: “Expect the regime in #Cuba to block internet & cell phone service soon to prevent videos about what is happening to get out to the world… By the way, they use a system made, sold & installed by #China to control and block access to the internet in #Cuba.” An article in Newsweek discussing Beijing’s possible links with the censoring of Cuba’s protests noted that the primary technology providers for Etecsa, Cuba’s sole internet access company, are all Chinese: Huawei, TP-Link, and ZTE. A 2017 report by the Open Observatory of Network Interference found traces of Chinese code in interfaces for Cuban Wi-Fi portals. The Swedish organization Qurium discovered that Cuba uses Huawei network management software eSight to help filter web searches. China’s role in helping the regime cut off communications during the protests has exposed one of the many ways Beijing helps keep the Cuban communist regime afloat.

6 August 2021

Cuba’s New Leaders Promise Continuity to a Population Seeking Change

In late April, Cuba experienced a watershed moment when Miguel Diaz-Canel became the leader of the Cuban Communist Party, completing a political transition that began three years earlier when Diaz-Canel was inaugurated as president. Now, for the first time since the 1959 revolution, a Castro leads neither the country nor the party, making way for a new generation of leaders to chart the island nation’s path forward.

After taking office in 2018, Diaz-Canel slowly moved to put his stamp on the nation, beginning with the adoption of a new constitution in April 2019 that included some institutional reforms, including the creation of a prime ministerial position, and some attempts to embed market economics within Cuba’s socialist state. But the watchword for the new leadership continues to be “continuity,” disappointing those in Cuba who had hoped for greater systemic reforms to unleash a younger generation of entrepreneurs. And the deterioration of U.S.-Cuba relations under former President Donald Trump jeopardized even Havana’s limited efforts at opening up parts of the economy to the private sector.

2 August 2021

The Politics Of The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam – Analysis

Ambassador Gurjit Singh*
On 5 July 2021, Ethiopia informed Egypt and Sudan that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia is undergoing its second filling. Cairo once again took the matter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The UNSC discussed the matter on 9 July, under ‘threat to peace and security.’ It did not approve the Tunisia-led resolution asking for Ethiopia to desist from unilateral actions regarding the GERD. The UNSC has cautioned parties to maintain peace and continue negotiations, including technical discussions to arrive at a solution.[1] It supports the African Union (AU) led negotiation process.[2]

Located in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region of Ethiopia,[3] the construction of this giant hydropower dam on the Blue Nile began in 2011, to be completed in 2022. With a generating capacity of 6.45 GW, it will be the seventh-largest globally and the biggest in Africa.

31 July 2021

Cuba’s Moment of Reckoning Has Been a Long Time Coming

Howard W. French

When I became a correspondent covering the Caribbean and portions of Latin America—my first overseas job for the New York Times—in the spring of 1990, Cuba’s then-leader Fidel Castro already seemed like an antiquated figure to many observers, a literal greybeard at the age of 63.

This impression was accentuated for me in part due to the youthfulness of his country’s population, not to mention my own. It also derived from political history, as well as the geopolitical context of the moment. Castro had already been in power since 1959, making him one of the longest-serving leaders in the world. But the global currents at the time of my arrival were shifting rapidly, with regimes that embraced Marxism-Leninism suddenly toppling in bunches. ...

25 July 2021

South Africa’s Twin Crises Are Feeding Each Other

Patrick Egwu

South Africa is coping with two crises at once—a political storm caused by the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma, whose followers have caused chaos on the streets, and a deadly new wave of COVID-19 that’s hospitalizing thousands of people a day. On July 3, South Africa hit a record 26,000 cases of COVID-19, one of the highest new daily totals reported since the pandemic started over a year ago.

The country has been battling a deadly third wave of the pandemic, following previous peaks during the first and second waves between April and December 2020. As of July 19, South Africa has recorded 2.3 million cases and 67,000 deaths since the pandemic started, according to the country’s Department of Health.

On June 27, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country would move to adjusted alert level 4 of lockdown for 14 days as the country faced a rising number of COVID-19 infections. After the end of the two-week lockdown and with a continuous spike in cases, Ramaphosa addressed the nation again on July 11 and announced an additional 14 days of restrictions.

22 July 2021

South Africa Sees the Best of Times and the Worst of Times

John Campbell

South Africa is in the midst of urban rioting not seen since the end of apartheid. South African and international media carries pictures of mayhem featuring looted televisions and burned-out strip malls, and some commentators are saying that South Africa is what a failed state looks like. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) is in disarray. Supply chains are disrupted and the unrest is derailing the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. President Cyril Ramaphosa is mobilizing the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to assist the police in restoring order. It is the worst of times in South Africa—at least since the end of apartheid.

However, the South African judiciary has reaffirmed the rule of law by sending to jail former President Jacob Zuma for contempt of court. The judiciary followed the spirit and the letter of the constitution. By jailing Zuma, it has reaffirmed that no South African is above the law. It has also struck a blow against a culture of official corruption. In terms of a democratic trajectory and the rule of law, it is the best of times in South Africa.

How African states can tackle state-backed cyber threats

Nathaniel Allen and Noëlle van der Waag-Cowling

At first glance, the ability of most African states to prevent or respond to a cyberattack by state-backed hackers would appear limited. African countries tend to have low levels of cyber maturity and possess limited offensive and defensive cyber capabilities. Virtually all rely on foreign actors to supply critical information infrastructure and manage data using cloud technologies. This limits sovereign control over the electronic information produced by African citizens and renders tech stacks in countries across the continent vulnerable to compromise. African governments and regional organizations have already been targeted by some high-profile state-sponsored attacks, including Chinese espionage at the African Union and North Korea’s 2017 Wannacry Ransomware attack.

Though few African states can compete with the world’s major cyber powers, the region is not inherently more susceptible to state-sponsored cyber threats. Like other regions, Africa faces its own series of opportunities and challenges in the cyber domain. For now, low levels of digitization limit the exposure of many countries in comparison to the world’s more connected, technology-dependent regions. As internet-penetration rates increase, African states can draw on established good practices, international partnerships, and regional cooperation to identify, prevent, and respond to state-sponsored cyber espionage or sabotage of critical infrastructure.

19 July 2021

South Africa’s Protests Reveal a Clash of Political Cultures

James Hamill

South Africa is in flames over its graft-plagued former president. After the 79-year-old Jacob Zuma turned himself in to authorities to begin a 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court on July 8, violent protests and riots erupted in parts of the country, and at least 72 people have been killed in the unrest so far. Earlier this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa deployed the military to the worst-hit parts of the country.

Underneath the riots and looting, Zuma’s prison sentence—which the Constitutional Court handed down in late June after he refused to testify before the official commission of inquiry charged with probing the corruption that blighted his decade-long presidency—captured the best and worst aspects of post-apartheid South Africa. It reaffirmed a core principle of democratic government: No one, whatever their past or present station, is above the law. ...

17 July 2021

Haiti’s Crisis Is Familiar. Its History, Less So

Howard W. French

During my first reporting trip to Haiti, in January 1988, on my very first day in the country, I rode 50 miles from the capital, Port-au-Prince, to St. Marc, a coastal city to the north, to write about the atmosphere in the provinces on the eve of national elections.

At a roadblock just shy of St. Marc, armed remnants of the feared militia of the country’s former dictatorship, the Tonton Macoutes, were burning vehicles and extorting money from passengers in broad daylight. One of the militiamen warned me that if they allowed me to pass, I would not be permitted back through the roadblock again to return to the capital before the next day’s vote. I took my chances and interviewed people in St. Marc, getting back on the road in time to send my story to New York by the deadline. The driver I had hired was roughed up when we were stopped a second time, but we made it. ...