Africa Blog Roundup: Muslim Protests in Ethiopia, Oil Contracts, Elections in Sierra Leone, Gold in South Sudan, and More

Chris Blattman recommends, and highlights some powerful quotations from, Robert Worth‘s “Can American Diplomacy Ever Come Out of Its Bunker?”

Alemayehu Fentaw on Muslim protests in Ethiopia:

There is little evidence to support the Ethiopian Government’s claim that its own Muslim community poses a legitimate threat to national and regional security.  It only seems to be driven by a shrewd strategic calculus. Since Ethiopia is a critical partner in the West’s ‘War on Terror’, the government thinks it helps to foment fear of the rise of radical Islam in Ethiopia that would lead to an improbable takeover of power by political Islam.  The current Ethiopian Government seeks to keep Western support and aid flowing into the country through characterizing the Muslim community as linked to Islamic radicals and thus a threat to national security.

Baobab on Sierra Leone’s elections.

Duncan Green/The World Bank: “What Have We Learned from Five Years of Research on African Power and Politics?”

Two on oil:

  • Loomnie: “Oil Contracts: How to Read and Understand Them.”
  • Laine Strutton: “A Very Brief Chronology of the Nigerian Oil Economy.”

Orlando Reade: “Revolutions and Dancing.”

Amb. John Campbell comments on “a new report by the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security, ‘Deepening Democracy: A Strategy for Improving the Integrity of Elections Worldwide.’”

Roving Bandit on artisanal gold mining in South Sudan.

Niger, Resources, Budgets, and Security

I’ve been following Niger’s recently launched five-year, $2.5 billion Security and Development Strategy (SDS). The program aims to address economic grievances in the north and across the country while bolstering security, all in the hopes of avoiding the chaos that plague Mali currently and avoiding a repeat of rebellions Niger has faced in the past.

One of the key questions facing SDS is how to fund it. The European Union has pledged $118 and other foreign partners will presumably contribute. Yet much of the funding, it seems, is expected to come from the Nigerien government itself. Some of that funding, in turn, is expected to come from rents derived from oil production and uranium mining.

That’s why the headline “Niger Cuts Budget by 7% on Oil Revenue Shortfall” caught my eye:

Niger, one of the world’s newest oil-producing nations, has reduced its 2012 budget by nearly 7 percent to 1.35 trillion CFA francs in response to lower government income.

The revision is the third since the budget was adopted late last year and is due largely to projected shortfalls in customs duties and revenues from its energy sector.

The government increased spending by 10 percent in July to cope with drought and conflicts along its porous borders, including an Islamist occupation of northern Mali.

[...]

According to [a televised government] statement, state oil profits for the year were expected to reach 4 billion CFA francs, far short of an earlier projection of 33.5 billion CFA francs.

According to this converter, the revised budget comes out at around $2.7 billion. For comparison’s sake, a fifth of SDS’ projected budget (i.e., the rough amount the government would spend on the program each year for five years) is $0.5 billion. That’s a big expenditure in this context. And if oil revenues fall short of expectations, it may be hard for the government to fund SDS on the scale of its ambitions – great though the need for the program is – without making sacrifices in other areas or securing more outside assistance.

Africa News Roundup: The UNSC and Mali, HRW on Boko Haram, Abyei, Somali Oil, and More

The United Nations, from yesterday:

Citing the threat to regional peace from terrorists and Islamic militants in rebel-held northern Mali, the United Nations Security Council today held out the possibility of endorsing, within the next 45 days, an international military force to restore the unity of the West African country.

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-member body called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to provide, at once, military and security planners to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and other partners to help frame a response to a request by Mali’s transitional authorities for such a force, and to report back within 45 days.

Upon receipt of the report, and acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the Council said it was ready “to respond to the request of the Transitional authorities of Mali regarding an international military force assisting the Malian Armed Forces in recovering the occupied regions in the north of Mali.”

Human Rights Watch released a new report on Thursday entitled “Spiraling Violence: Boko Haram Attacks and Security Force Abuses in Nigeria.” From the summary:

This 98-page report catalogues atrocities for which Boko Haram has claimed responsibility. It also explores the role of Nigeria’s security forces, whose own alleged abuses contravene international human rights law and might also constitute crimes against humanity. The violence, which first erupted in 2009, has claimed more than 2,800 lives.

Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu of Nigeria’s Niger State speaks about Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau.

VOA:

The long term success of an oil and security deal between Sudan and South Sudan could depend on the much disputed Abyei border region.

That’s why Princeton Lyman, the U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, says Abyei’s exclusion from the agreement between presidents Omar al-Bashir and Salva Kiir is “a big, big loss.”

Abyei is a territory claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan. The residents of Abyei were supposed to hold a referendum in 2011 to determine which country they would join, but the referendum was postponed indefinitely due to disagreements over who was eligible to vote. Some are still proposing that Abyei hold a referendum, but Sudan’s government opposes the idea. More from VOA:

The Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman, Al-Obeid Ahmed Marawah, says his government prefers a political agreement over a plebiscite because “the referendum would end by attributing Abyei to one of the two countries.

“And this will not satisfy the other party. Therefore, this could cause a new conflict between the two people [ Messriyah and Ngok Dinkas] of Abyei and it might extend to between the two countries,” Marawah says.

And that, in turn, threatens the new deal over the sharing of oil-revenue, which Ambassador Lyman says “holds tremendous potential benefits for the people of both countries, particularly in South Sudan where there has been serious rises in food prices, shortages of fuel, and insecurity on the border.”

In addition to French President Francois Hollande’s trip to Senegal yesterday and his stop in the Democratic Republic of the Congo today, two other noteworthy visits to the Sahel by foreign officials: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Senegal for Thursday and Friday, while Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights María Otero will be in Mauritania from October 15-17 and France from October 18-19.

In Mauritania, Under Secretary Otero will meet with government officials, including President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, representatives from civil society, UN agencies and youth groups to discuss political and democratic developments in the country, electoral processes, refugees and humanitarian assistance and combating trafficking in persons. This is the most senior-level U.S. State Department visit to Mauritania in five years.

Somalia’s new government “does not plan to nullify oil and gas exploration contracts made in recent years in favour of those that were signed prior to the toppling of the government in 1991, a senior state official said on Friday.”

Fatal flooding continues in Niger.

What else is happening?

Sudan-South Sudan: After Tentative Oil Agreement, Focus of Talks Turns to Security

On Saturday, two days after the expiration of a United Nations Security Council deadline, Sudan and South Sudan reached a provisional deal on oil revenue sharing. Oil has been one of the main sources of tension between the two sides after South Sudan became independent in July 2011: South Sudan holds most of the oil reserves, but Sudan controls key pipeline and port infrastructure. Both sides have suffered economically due to the absence of a revenue sharing framework, and South Sudan’s shutdown of oil production in January contributed to the pain on both sides. Yesterday, South Sudan announced it will restart production in September.

The oil agreement has generated substantial international enthusiasm – see statements from the UN, the US, and China – but it does not mean that the two sides’ disputes are over. The countries are scheduled to return to the negotiating table on August 26, and the focus turns now to security.

Details of the oil agreement:

[AU mediator Thabo] Mbeki gave no financial details of the deal, but South Sudan’s delegation said Juba would pay a weighted average of under $10 per barrel. It has also offered a $3.2 billion package to compensate Sudan for the loss of most of its oil reserves to the South. It had previously offered $2.6 billion.

Sudan itself lowered its transit fee demand to around $22 a barrel, from an initial $36, according to a position paper published by SUNA. It also wants compensation of $3.02 billion, among other demands, Suna added.

“The parties understand very well that it would be important that by the time this oil starts flowing again, the necessary security arrangements should be in place,” Mbeki said.

Sudan said the oil deal would be implemented only after a security arrangement had been reached, after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan ended at the end of August, the state news agency SUNA reported.

I was not able to find the position paper at SUNA, but here are English and Arabic statements on the deal from the site. In an indication of how keenly focused on security Khartoum is, the Arabic statement stresses that South Sudan must “cut its link with the [rebel] movements in Darfur, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan.” As I’ve written before, the regime in Khartoum strongly prioritizes security issues, perhaps out of a need to placate hardliners within its own camp.

Finally, a reaction from Darfur:

Rebels in Sudan’s Darfur region will become victims of improved relations between Khartoum and Juba as South Sudan reduces its support for the insurgency, Darfur’s top official said on Tuesday.

In an interview with AFP, Eltigani Seisi also said security forces used excessive force last week against “innocent civilians” protesting high prices in Darfur. At least eight people were shot dead.

Seisi heads the Darfur Regional Authority set up to implement a peace deal last year between the Khartoum regime and an alliance of rebel splinter factions.

He said that although security has improved “very much” since the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, over the past two or three months rebels outside the peace process crossed into Darfur from South Sudan to launch attacks.

My sense is that security issues could prove even harder to resolve than oil fees. What do you think?

Africa News Roundup: Clinton in Africa, Strikes in Chad, Oil in Niger, and More

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tour of Africa continues. Yesterday she traveled to South Sudan and also met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. In Uganda, she seemed to indicate that Washington is looking toward a post-Museveni future. Today she is due in Kenya where she will also meet with Somali leaders and exhort them to complete that country’s political transition in a timely manner.

Sudan and South Sudan have reached an agreement on oil sharing.

An apparent suicide bombing wounds nine “near an air base” in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has announced that the country’s oil production has reached a record high of 2.7 million barrels per day.

In Yobe State, Nigeria, it appears that a suicide bomber tried to kill the Emir of Fika, but failed.

Strikes in Chad have gone on for over two weeks (French).

Niger announces new discoveries of oil.

Violence in western Cote d’Ivoire:

“The events in Duékoué, including the collective blame and mob justice, underscore the need for a concrete reconciliation process, as well as the restoration of the rule of law and state authority across the country,” Bert Koenders, the UN Special Representative to Côte d’Ivoire, told reporters on 27 July.

The attack, blamed on ethnic Malinkés and traditional hunters known as Dozos, was the second in about six weeks in the restive western region. On 8 June, armed militia killed seven UN peacekeepers and more than a dozen civilians in the Para area near the Liberian border.

Christian Science Monitor: “In Mauritanian Refugee Camp, Mali’s Tuaregs Regroup.”

What else is happening today?

Kenya’s Oil and the Turkana People

Tullow Oil discovered oil in Turkana county in Kenya this March. In early May, Tullow announced that its Kenyan project had so far contained “more than double [the oil] encountered in any of our East African exploration wells to date.” The Kenyan government has greeted the discovery enthusiastically, but a new report from IRIN highlights the complex ramifications of the project for people in Turkana. According to IRIN, many residents barely consider themselves Kenyan. Most are desperately poor, and cycles of drought and conflict have damaged the livelihoods of pastoralists. Reactions to the prospect of an oil boom are mixed:

“We are happy with the oil find,” Lokichar resident Lokapel Katilu told IRIN. “We pray that the find is real. We are just idle, there is no work. We just walk around. Before, we would rely on grazing, but the herds have been stolen.”
[...]
But according to oil industry analyst Antony Goldman, no major jobs bonanza is on the horizon.
“Typically oil is capital- rather than labour-intensive: unlike mining, it does not yield many unskilled or semi-skilled jobs,” he told IRIN.
[...]
Katilu said that to date he knew of only a few people who had found oil-related work, “to control traffic and to prevent people from accessing the rig site”.
Lokichar resident Kamaro said there was a widespread fear that lack of local skills would “lead to people from Kenya coming in” to the area.
People here “are afraid of an influx of foreigners, that there will be congestion, that the foreigners will bring diseases, that their culture will be polluted,” said Kamaro.

If an oil boom comes but does not employ many local people, there could be a political backlash that would create problems for Tullow and the Kenyan government.

More hopeful for the Turkana people could be a recent discovery of water:

Turkana county in which oil deposits were recently discovered, has huge amounts of underground water. To tap the resource, the government has launched a Sh131 million water survey in the area. “The survey of the groundwater in the drought affected Turkana county using radar technologies will go a long way in enhancing our understanding of ground water in this area,” said director of waters resources in Kenya John Rao Nyaoro.

The project, launched in Nairobi yesterday, is supported by Unesco and financed by the Japanese government. Nyaoro said past satellite surveys have shown that Kenya has 60 billion cubic metres of renewable underground water compared to 20 billion cubic metres of surface water. This is the first time the government has embarked on large-scale mining of ground water. Nyaoro said a satellite technology called Watex System will map water wells in Turkana to help drillers reduce cost.

The project will benefit thousands of drought-hit pastoralists, who currently walk for many kilometres looking for water. Somalia and Ethiopia are also involved in the project because most ground water straddles between different countries. Director of Unesco in Nairobi Joseph Massaquoi said the water will be exploited in a sustainable way. “Nine months following the onset of the 2011 drought and famine crisis in the region, some nine million people still face food and water shortages in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia,” he said.

For more on the Turkana people and the problems pastoralists face, see here.

Africa Blog Roundup: Seychelles and Somalia, Boko Haram, Sudan Oil Deal, and More

Amb. David Shinn flags comments by Seychelles government ministers on how their nation is dealing with Somali pirates.

In other Somalia analysis, see Clint Watts‘ “Inside al Shabaab’s Recruitment Process in Somalia.”

And one more: Nic Cheeseman, “Why the New Plan for Somalia Will Fail.”

Two pieces on Boko Haram: Christopher Anzalone, “Nigeria and Boko Haram in jihadi media discourse” and Elizabeth Dickinson, “What Boko Haram Wants.” I’m especially interested to hear readers’ reactions to these pieces.

A debate about chiefs.

Inside Islam continues its series on important Islamic sites with a profile of Al Azhar University.

Roving Bandit takes to the airwaves to express his optimism about an eventual oil deal between the Sudans.

What else is going on today?