Africa Blog Roundup: Failed States, China and Chad, South Sudan and Aid, and More

Lesley Anne Warner, “Potential Takeaways on Africa in the 2012 Failed States Index.”

Laura Seay: “Obama’s Africa strategy…reads like a litany of the continent’s well-known challenges. To be sure, poverty, war, and limited opportunities are still problems for millions of people on the continent. But increasingly, these are not the realities the vast majority of Africans know.”

Via Amb. David Shinn, John Schellhase on “China’s Chad Courtship”:

China has taken a “quite different” approach to the oil sector in Chad than previous western involvement, according to the SAIIA report. Western companies such as Exxon-Mobil and Chevron, as well as the Malaysia’s Petronas, have focused exclusively on extracting crude for export. With the Rônier project, China has located value-added refining processes within Chad itself.

In doing so, China has implicitly backed the regime of President Idriss Déby. The World Bank, who previously invested in Chad after oil production began in 2003, eventually pulled out when Déby wanted to use oil revenues on military spending. The World Bank had required Chad to spend oil revenues on human development projects. China hasn’t imposed the same conditions.

Dan Moshenberg on women’s involvement in (responsibility for?) the current protests in Sudan:

In response to an announcement of astronomically increased meal and transportation prices, the women students staged a protest. A few male students joined in, and together they moved off-campus. Then the police attacked the students, raided the dorms, and, reportedly, beat and harassed women dorm residents. News spread, and the campus exploded. And the police again invaded. And then…something happened. Something that feels different. Some say these are anti-austerity protests or food protests or anti-regime protests. But those have happened before. Others however call them Sudan Revolts or Sudan Spring. Some dare call them the Sudanese Revolution.

Whatever they are, just remember, they began with 200 young women getting up, walking out, and chanting, Enough is enough. Ya basta!

Howard French on “How the West’s South Sudan Obsession Hurts the Country” and Roving Bandit on making aid conditional on democratic governance.

Jim Sanders on the shuffle of Nigeria’s top security personnel.

Richard Dowden on Kenyan politics in the aftermath of the death of George Saitoti: “The Kenyan election is wide open. Victory will go to the person who builds an alliance of tribal leaders.”

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8 thoughts on “Africa Blog Roundup: Failed States, China and Chad, South Sudan and Aid, and More

  1. The thing about the Chinese isn’t whether they are “benign” or “malign”. It normally boils down to the ability to do the same job at a lower cost and most importantly, with minimal fuss.

    They also bring something new to the table.

    I am not that old, but old enough to know that Western engagement with Africa has moved from obsession with the Soviets in the sixties and seventies, to disinterest in the eighties and nineties, to obsession with the Chinese and Al Qaeda presently.

    It has never been a healthy relationship.

    • If you’re who I think you are you’ve argued that China was improving these nations in the past. You can’t pretend that openly helping a government widely expected to collapse in the near future spend on itself and its military rather than badly needed human development is a good thing.

      • Alex, thanks for the wonderful links.

        Is it possible to admire Chinese realpolitik and be disgusted with it at the same time? The Chinese model in Africa has more hope than the West’s already failed developmental paternalism. The Chinese in Chad is a complected case were even the realpolitik oil companies are leery of the security of the state. Maybe the Chinese are betting their services will be needed by the present and future administrations; their ability to work in Chad and Sudan without angering the rivals attests to the Chinese diplomatic abilitie$. It’s hard to square investing in unsavory governments but will their presence benefit more than the government?

        A cleaner win win for Africans and Chinese is Nigeria where the Chinese have been since the 1970’s. The Chinese are adding know how and money to projects that are benefiting themselves and Nigerians. A good read on this subject is Serge Michel and Michel Beuret’s “China Safari” a study of a dozen African countries benefiting from Chinese investments. If anyone else has reading recommendations I would appreciate it.

        I wonder if the US would have the economy it has today if George Washington had to please the World Bank and toe the line of charitable organisations? The Chinese model puts people to work making things they need, including money for security in a rough neighborhood(Chad). The “white man’s burden” charity model to Africa infantilized the continent. Good riddance to the WMB. Bryan Simpson

      • It’s a bit hard to have real investment in a nation if it’s still going through revolutionary war or far-left fervor.

      • Gyre,

        Does security lead to investment or does investment lead to security. The US view is that security leads to investment (hence AFRICOM). The Chinese view is that investment leads to security.

        Time will tell which view is correct.

    • obsession with the Soviets in the sixties and seventies, to disinterest in the eighties and nineties, to obsession with the Chinese and Al Qaeda presently.

      I think that’s basically right, though I think there is still relative disinterest at present. If Mali were in the Middle East it would be getting 10 times the attention it gets now.

  2. This does suggest that economic concerns are what create the tension but it’s political events that spark of protests similar to Indonesia and the Philippines.

    On Sudan, protests on their own don’t necessarily mean anything. It’s the ability to convince unions, religious groups, students and bureaucrats to march together with at least some elites financially backing the protests that spell doom.

    • I certainly agree that if the students can’t build a broader coalition – which they are trying to do – the protests in Sudan won’t go far.

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