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.


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?

Oil Struggles and Pipeline Threats in the Sudans

This post is partly an excuse for me to promote Luke Patey’s excellent essay “Pipe-dreaming in South Sudan,” but first a little context, and a few additions in light of news from yesterday.

South Sudan officially attained independence from Sudan last July, but the two countries’ economic interdependence remains in effect. In particular, the oil-rich South still relies on the pipeline running through (North) Sudan to get its oil to port. The last eight months have seen stalemate over issues that were supposed to find resolution at independence, especially oil transit fees.

In late January, South Sudan moved to shut down its oil production, accusing the North of stealing its oil. The North has apparently “already sold at least one cargo of crude oil seized from South Sudan at a discount of millions of dollars, and is offering more.”

The oil shutdown, meant to pressure the North, poses a number of problems for South Sudan itself: a negative impact on local businesses, a shortage of dollar reserves, inflation, difficulty paying government salaries and administrative costs, etc. These problems could in turn provoke social unrest. Coming amid violence in different parts of the new country, such difficulties spell real trouble for the government in Juba.

In addition to the shutdown, Juba is looking into more long-term solutions for its problematic dependence on North Sudan. Namely, alternative pipeline routes. In late January, South Sudan signed a pipeline deal with Kenya, and yesterday South Sudan signed a deal for a pipeline that would run through Ethiopia to Djibouti.

A new pipeline would certainly pose an economic threat to Khartoum, but talk of pipelines will be difficult to translate into reality. As Patey explains, politics and regional trends (especially South Sudanese frustration with the North and Kenyan ambitions for its port at Lamu) work in favor of the alternative pipeline plans, but economics work against them. The proposed Kenyan pipeline would be over 400 kilometers longer than the existing pipeline, and would cross rough terrain, both political and topographically. Additionally, the cost of a new pipeline might not make sense given current projections that South Sudanese production will decline in the coming years. Patey concludes, “the longer it takes to foster stable relations over oil, the more likely the people of South Sudan will one day hit the streets in celebration of a new pipeline,” but suggests that that day still lies far off.

Logistical difficulties also dog the proposed Ethiopia/Djibouti pipeline, though it would be shorter than both the existing pipeline and the Kenyan one:

Industry experts have said that building a pipeline could take three years or more and be extremely costly…Djibouti, on the Gulf of Aden at entrance to the Red Sea, lies at least a thousand kilometres from South Sudan’s oil fields, and crosses remote areas rife with rebel forces.

Rumor says pipeline construction could begin as soon as six months from now, but the consensus from analysts seems to be that completion lies a long ways off (I’ve read three years, at minimum), and that South Sudan will want – nay, need – a settlement with North Sudan sooner than that. There will be no easy way out for either party to the conflict, it seems.

Africa News Roundup: Senegal Riots, Sahel Hunger, Ethiopia and Somalia, Sudan Oil, and More

Senegal’s constitutional court decided today (unsurprisingly but not uncontroversially) that incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade can seek a third term in the country’s February 26 elections. The announcement provoked riots in Dakar. The court also “ruled that [Senegalese singer] Youssou N’Dour’s candidacy was invalid because he had not gathered the required number of signatures.”

Humanitarian agencies are warning of a mass food crisis in the Sahel. Several factors are causing the crisis, the LA Times writes:

A recent survey by UNICEF forecast 1 million cases of severe malnutrition, with between 25% and 60% of those people likely to die without emergency assistance. The agency has plans to feed 1 million people in the Sahel — most of them in the hardest-hit country, Niger — but so far has raised funds to feed only half of them.

The failure of rains triggered a rise in food prices, so families in crisis cannot afford to buy. Meanwhile the fragile agricultural system, stressed by overgrazing, struggles to feed the rapidly growing populations in a region that has some of the highest birthrates on Earth.

Thousands of migrant workers who fled Libya and returned home because of persecution after last year’s revolution in the North African nation have added to the pressure as families struggle to survive without the money that workers had sent home. Locust plagues in some areas complicated the crisis further.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi held a press conference yesterday where he addressed the issue of his country’s military presence in neighboring Somalia:

Meles Zenawi said Friday he would pull troops out of Somalia “as soon as feasible,” admitting for the first time that forces had crossed into the war-torn neighbouring country.

“The decision has all along been to help the TFG and we will withdraw our troops as soon as feasible,” Meles told reporters in the Ethiopian capital, referring to Somalia’s transitional government.

“We are not going to create a vacuum, we expect the AMISOM troops to be able to fill in the gaps before we withdraw,” he added.

Columns of Ethiopian soldiers rolled into Somalia in November to fight al-Qaeda linked Islamist rebels, but Addis Ababa had previously denied their presence.

Sudan and South Sudan continue to disagree over oil transit fees. South Sudan has shut down oil production in protest at alleged Sudanese theft.

The AFP covers a new United Nations report that assesses the post-Qadhafi Sahelian security environment. The report casts Nigeria’s Boko Haram as a growing regional threat. Read a summary of a Security Council briefing on the report here.


North and South Sudan Take a Step Toward (Some) Peace

This weekend Southern Sudanese President Salva Kiir met with his counterpart, President Omar al Bashir of Sudan, in Khartoum. Although the problems between the two Sudans are far from over, this visit hopefully marks a step toward a resolution of major issues. This resolution may be flawed, but hopefully it will be one that both sides can live with.

The two largest issues dividing the two sides are how to share revenues from oil and how to demarcate the border. The border issue is especially complex: a number of areas are disputed, most famously the territory of Abyei, whose referendum on whether to join the North or the South has been indefinitely postponed (currently it lies within the North). Although coming up with a formula for oil sharing and resolving Abyei’s status might be enough to conclude the major disputes between the two sides, the question of the border areas is also significant because of the violence going on in several Northern states that lie on the new border. Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan States are home to thousands of people who fought for or sympathize with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the governing party in the South. Even though such areas are not part of the new South Sudan, Southern leaders are keen to see violence end there. So long as it continues there will be serious tensions between South Sudan and Sudan.

Sudan Tribune provides details of the framework agreed upon in Khartoum:

Sudan and South Sudan have setup five task-forces to trash out issues of economy and border security among others…

The five committees include bilateral relations, economy, higher education, humanitarian affairs and border security.

Sudan’s minister of finance and national economy, Ali Mahmud, said that the two sides had agreed on five points in the fields of economic cooperation and banking exchange as well as on establishing a joint administration to manage oil facilities and promoting cross-border trade.

VOA and AFP have more.

The next step will be a meeting in Juba on October 18, which is quite soon.

There are reasons for pessimism – talks could fall through, issues could remain intractable, implementation could falter, and violence in the border regions could worsen, bringing tensions to new highs – but the personal involvement of Bashir and Kiir, combined with the genesis of this new framework, suggests that the two sides are serious about reaching a solution. As I said above, I do not think all the disputes will be ironed out, and some level of violence in the border areas may continue to keep relations problematic, but if resolution on revenues-sharing and Abyei comes, the two countries will be able to move forward.

Regarding Abyei, I think (North Sudan) will likely hold onto it. Their de facto control of the area gives them a huge advantage, though they may have to give Juba some big concessions to keep it.