Gabon, the oil rich central African state, has embarked on a charm offensive to strengthen its trade relations with Kenya and Tanzania as it seeks to sell its expertise on oil and management of natural resources to the region. In exchange, Gabon hopes to tap into knowledge on wildlife management, expertise in information and communications technology (ICT) and agriculture from the two states. In an interview with The EastAfrican, Andre William Anguile, Gabon’s ambassador to Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia said the Central African state is weighing the option of setting up an embassy in East Africa’s economic hub.
The idea of south-south co-operation evokes a positive image of solidarity between developing countries through the exchange of resources, technology, and knowledge. It’s an attractive proposition, intended to shift the international balance of power and help developing nations break away from aid dependence and achieve true emancipation from former colonial powers. However, the discourse of south-south co-operation has become a cover for human rights violations involving southern governments and companies.
Israel has long been keen to establish a foothold in parts of Africa, for strategic as well as economic reasons. The vast continent offers relatively accessible (and increasingly fought-over) sources of energy and water, as well as emerging markets. While Israel has been able to establish diplomatic relationships with most non-Muslim African countries, nations such as Mali and Niger have so far refused to formally recognise it. Clearly, Israel would like to convert these nations of the Sahel into friends and a potential rear guard against hostile Arab nations in the north.
Will armies battle each other, as the cry for “blue gold” gets furious? Will “water wars” be as prevalent as conflict for the “black gold” of oil? Two documentary films have wetted public interest – Blue Gold: World Water Wars, and Last Call at the Oasis, and a dystopia novel – The Water Wars – warns of its imminence.
In actuality, history’s pages are already splashed with dozens of conflicts. In 2,450 B.C. the Sumerian cities of Lagash and Umma warred over Tigris-Euphrates water. More recently, Senegal and Mauritaniabattled in 1989 over grazing rights in the Senegal River Valley – hundreds were killed, 250,000 fled their homes. The Pacific Institute provides an excellent map and timeline of 225 water skirmishes.
The United States of America is planning to establish a drone base in Niger, a country sandwiched between Nigeria and Mali, two nations that have been under attack from Islamic militants.
The drone base, according to a report in last Sunday’s edition of the New York Times, will give the US military command increased unmanned surveillance missions on the activities of Boko Haram and other extremist groups in West Africa that are affiliated to Al Qaeda and other sectarian groups.
Eritrea made a rare foray into international headlines on Monday, Jan. 21, as news agencies and social-media sites disseminated speculation of a coup attempt. Reliable information on events in Asmara is hard to come by, however, with the tiny East African nation being one of the world’s least open societies and allowing no independent journalists to operate.
One signal that all was not well in the Eritrean capital, however, was the fact that the state television service, which is broadcast from inside the headquarters of the Ministry of Information, went off the air for the first time since its creation in 1993.
In 2010, Guinea alone represented over eight percent of total world bauxite production, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo have a combined share of 6.7 percent of the total world copper production, and Ghana and Mali together account for 5.8 percent of the total world gold production, while Ethiopia also accounts for one-sixth of the world’s tantalum production.
A World Bank report issued in October claimed consistent high commodity prices and strong export growth show that African countries need to value the economic importance of their unexploited natural resources.
Israel has set up military bases in Eritrea to monitor Iran and other hostile activities in the Red Sea, Stratfor Global Intelligence reported Wednesday.
The U.S.-based strategy consultancy firm quoted “diplomatic sources” as saying that the Israeli military presence is comprised of docks and small naval units in the Dahlak Archipelago and Massawa, and a listening post on Mt. Amba Sawara.
“Israel’s presence in Eritrea is very focused and precise, involving intelligence gathering in the Red Sea and monitoring Iran’s activities,” Stratfor said.
This week, Robele Ababya wrote a piece titled “Likely war over the Blue Nile River?” that highlighted the growing concern in Ethiopia over the future of Egypt’s tenuous democracy that has seen massive unrest in recent days.
Ababya wrote: “The matter is so serious that I gave it a rather scary title after a lot of soul-searching, but the arrogant stance of prominent Egyptian leaders begged for it as mentioned in the paragraph below – notwithstanding my long held dream that democratic Ethiopia and Egypt will one day emerge as powerful allies working together as keepers of stability and engines of economic growth in the region and beyond in the African continent.”
For a while now, China and India have been at the center of growing criticism for going on reckless shopping sprees in Africa in order to feed their growing economies back home. That includes, according to accusations, not shirking away from doing business with countries that have been shunned internationally, like Sudan and Zimbabwe. The citizens of Africa were supposed to have received little benefit these investments. With their resources now robbed, critics say it will be hardly possible for African countries to do business on equal terms.
President Barack Obama’s “secret wars” against al-Qaida are steadily widening, most notably in Africa, with the U.S. military’s Special Forces Operation Command doubling in size and the CIA’s strike capabilities undergoing a radical expansion, international analysts said.
“Ad hoc global ‘counter-terrorism’ efforts that began under President George W. Bush, and were encouraged by Obama, have now become institutionalized — and the bureaucracy that wages U.S. ‘secret wars’ will continue to expand for the next couple of years, particularly in Africa,” Oxford Analytica observed in a recent assessment.
In war rooms across the continent, battle plans are being drawn up.
In East Africa, the best military brains of Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Uganda are plotting the final defeat of Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab in Somalia. There are nearly 18,000 African soldiers there, now operating under the banner of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), and after a year of consistent advances their opponents find themselves with their backs against the wall.
The United Nations is concerned that member states are failing to uphold the arms embargo on Somalia by allowing private security companies (PSCs) to operate in the country. South Africa, Uganda, Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates were singled out in a UN report.
In its Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, the United Nations said that the provision of security assistance, in the absence of UN authorisation, “constitutes a violation of the general and complete arms embargo on Somalia.” It added that the Monitoring Group was concerned that member states “routinely fail to fulfil their obligations” which require them to prevent “the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of weapons and military equipment and the direct or indirect supply of technical assistance or training, financial or other assistance” to Somalia.
A major summit is being planned for July that aims to pour money into family planning in the developing world after almost two decades of neglect, particularly during the Bush years.
Parallel to this, millions of dollars are being spent by the Gates Foundation on developing more efficient forms of contraception, particularly injections that might only be required once every six months or annually.
The executive director of the UN Population Fund, Babatunde Osotimehin, in an interview with the Guardian, described proposals at the summit to turn family planning into a global movement as “transformational”.
During a whirlwind trip to East Africa, Maj. Gen. David R. Hogg, commander, U.S. Army Africa, and a small group of advisers visited U.S. Army troops at Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa in Djibouti and attended meetings with African Union mission leaders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, April 24-27.
Initially, Hogg traveled to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, where he, along with USARAF Command Sgt. Maj. Hu Rhodes, USARAF’s Political Adviser Alan Latimer and Security Cooperation Desk Officer Ron Stafford took part in a series of briefings with Air Force Brig. Gen. Eugene Haase, deputy commander of Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa. Following the CJTF-HOA briefings, Hogg met with Texas Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve troops currently working in and around Camp Lemonnier.
Schools in Somalia are now virtually empty as children, some as young as 10 years are abducted and forced to serve as ‘soldiers or “wives” of al-shabab forces fighting against the government
First it was in Liberia. Later it spread to Sierra Leone. Now, war-ravaged Somalia is the place where the innocence of young children, some as young as 10, are denied by forcing them to become child soldiers to prosecute al-Shabab vicious, long-drawn battles with the central government in the East African country.
Human Rights Watch, HRW, said entire classrooms of Somali children were now being forced to fight for Islamist militants. Majority of the children being forced to join al-Shabab are between 14 and 17 years old, but some are as young as 10.
A combination of pressure, blackmails and dirty money induced a part of African countries to change their stand, although they had been refusing to recognize an attempted secession of a part of a sovereign state’s territory for a long time, Jeremić stated after several bilateral meetings held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The Serbian chief of diplomacy is attending the African Union (AU) Summit there.
In an interview for Tanjug, Jeremić said that only a small number of countries changed their stand on the issue of Kosovo’s unilaterally declared independence and that a considerable number of countries in Africa still do not recognize Kosovo.
Ethiopia is forcing tens of thousands of people off their land so it can lease it to foreign investors, leaving former landowners destitute and in some cases starving, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday.
The Horn of Africa state has already leased 3 million hectares — an area just smaller than Belgium — to foreign farm businesses and the US-based rights group said that Addis Ababa had plans to lease another 2.1 million hectares.
The United Nations has increasingly voiced concern that countries such as China and Gulf Arab states are buying swathes of land in Africa and Asia to secure their own food supplies, often at the expense of local people.
In 2007 matters blew up, literally, when a Chinese oil exploration crew and their Ethiopian military bodyguards were attacked by fighters from the ONLF with a half a dozen Chinese nationals amongst the hundred or more Ethiopian soldiers killed in the attack.
Since then the Chinese have been much lower key about their plans to continue energy exploitation in the Ogaden.
2011 saw reports of Chinese oil company personnel in Ethiopian army uniforms doing exploration work back where all the trouble broke out in 2007 and once again in the midst of fighting with the ONLF.