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

12 March 2017

The Sub-Saharan Security Tracker

Mapping Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa is made up of forty-eight countries and is home to approximately one billion people. It does not include Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia. Continuing political violence in sub-Saharan Africa causes untold misery, and hampers political, economic, and social development. Mapping political violence is a valuable tool for identifying current and future trends.

The Sub-Saharan Security Tracker (SST) uses over three million data points to map the state of political violence, specifically deaths caused by such violence, in the region, including geographic distribution, trends over time, and actors involved.

The SST draws on data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED) Project, which documents violent events across Africa by surveying open sources, such as the media, reports from nongovernmental organizations, and publicly available material from governments and international organizations.

8 March 2017

How India Can Build On Its Africa Ties To Counter Chinese Advances

Keertivardhan Joshi

The benefits of establishing strong bonds with Africa must keep India motivated to take on even the unfair competition that the Chinese offer

The recent visit by Indian Vice-President Hamid Ansari to Africa was his second in two years. This had come close on the heels of President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit in June last year and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two visits, one in 2016 and another in early 2015. Starting with the last India-Africa Forum Summit, New Delhi has exhibited a renewed vigour in pursuing its long-neglected ties with the African nations. The primary reason behind these increased engagements has been to counter China, which has also ramped up its own efforts to have a larger footprint in Africa. Albeit India is far behind China in its quantum of trade with Africa, it has been steadfast in making inroads to the African economy.

This race between India and China has also made the world take stock of Africa’s undervalued economic importance in global trade. The attention that Africa received has helped it to take a relook at its partners and drift away from the donor-receiver relationship it has had with the Western powers. The US and Europe have for long exploited the region’s resources without actually helping the Africans set up a sustainable growth model. In this context, Africa also sees India and China as the new development partners, and is equally willing to have long partnerships with the Asian giants while learning from their respective success stories.

The African partnership is going to benefit India in multiple ways. Starting with strengthening energy and food security to gaining a diplomatic backing for its permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council, the reaps of establishing strong bonds with Africa must keep India motivated to take on even the unfair competition that the Chinese offer. While China may easily undercut India’s stakes with its huge line of credits and investments, what may work in India’s favour in the long run is its strong Indian diaspora, its deep cultural connect and its proximity with the African continent. Along with these natural advantages, India should look to craft a strategy to mitigate the Chinese competition.

17 February 2017

Somalia: A failed state?

Source Link 

It will not be an exaggeration to say that almost all the countries in Africa face some form of conflict. Yet, most of them have managed to survive, and some—like South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo—have even evolved into reasonably successful states. However, Somalia has not. What are the reasons for Somalia’s failure to survive? Did external interventions play a role? Was Islamophobia a contributing factor, and the inter-clan civil war, too? This paper finds that although there have been many reasons, such as unnecessary interventions—especially the case of Ethiopian in 2006—the failure of Somalia as a state is mostly because of a lack of an effective leadership.

In the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries, colonialist countries divided Somalia into five parts—the United Kingdom (UK) took two parts while Italy, Ethiopia and France took one each. The Somalis fought for independence from all the colonial powers. Northern and Southern Somalia gained independence on 26 June 1960 and 01 July 1960, respectively. All parts of Somalia would eventually form a Greater Somalia.[i]

From 1960 until 1969, Somalia was a democratic state. Through a coup d’etat in 1969, Siyad Barre came to power. Barre forged close ties with the Soviet Union, which provided aid to Somalia throughout the 1970s. Trouble started when Barre attempted to take back the Ogaden Somali territory from Ethiopia and the Soviets decided to back Ethiopia. This enraged Barre, resulting in Somalia and the Soviet Union severing their ties. Consequently, the United States (US) became close to Somalia. The US gave Somalia foreign aid for military technology, amounting to US $163.5 million between 1980 and 1988, and four times that for economic development.

20 January 2017

* North Africa’s Next War


TIFARITI, Western Sahara — Uninhabited and less than three miles long, the rocky, flat area known as Guerguerat falls under no formal government rule. It lies near North Africa’s Atlantic coast, some 40 miles north of Nouadhibou, a thriving Mauritanian port city. The main industry — if you can call it that — is smuggling. And it could be the place where Africa’s next war begins.

Since August, this remote area has been the site of a standoff between two enemies that have been at an impasse for more than two decades: Morocco and the Polisario Front. Not since 1991 have they been closer to war.

The United Nations uses the sanitizing term “non-self-governing” to describe the Western Sahara, and has since 1963, when it was still a Spanish colony. When Spain withdrew its territorial claim in 1975, Morocco annexed the territory. After some 16 years of war, the two sides signed a cease-fire and a de facto border emerged. Morocco controls two-thirds of the Western Sahara, which it deems its “southern provinces.” The Polisario Front, a movement of indigenous Western Saharans that first formed to fight for independence from Spain, controls the remaining third, which it calls the “free zone.”

I recently traveled to the free zone. There is no phone service, no GPS and not a single paved road. To navigate, drivers rely on memories of where rocky outcroppings and dried riverbeds stand in relation to one another. The ground is mainly granitic, with waves of petrified forests, meteorites and land mines.

14 January 2017


A multibillion-dollar China-built rail line linking the Horn of Africa with the continent’s vast interior was officially launched on Tuesday, an important ­milestone for China’s burgeoning influence in the region.

The 750km line connects port city Djibouti and Addis Ababa, the capital of landlocked Ethiopia, the fastest-growing economy in­ Africa. The railway is expected to reduce the travel time between the two cities, from three days by road to just 12 hours by train.

It is also widely seen as the start of a trans-African railway project, in which a 2,000km track will connect Djibouti, a gateway to the Suez Canal and one of the world’s busiest shipping routes, with the Atlantic Ocean.

The high-speed electric line is expected to one day be part of a railway connection stretching across the continent. Photo: Felix Wong

29 December 2016

U.N. discovers that some peacekeepers have disturbing pasts

By Kevin Sieff

BUTARE, Rwanda — The three officers had received blue badges and slipped blue covers over their helmets. They were now U.N. peacekeepers, sent from Burundi to help protect victims of a brutal war in the Central African Republic. 

But each of them had a past the United Nations was unaware of. When the deployments became public, Burundian activists were aghast. 

One of the officers had run a military jail where beatings and torture occurred, according to civil-society groups and former prisoners. Another had committed human rights violations when anti-government demonstrations erupted in Burundi last year, U.N. officials would eventually learn. The third had served as the spokesman for the Burundian army, publicly defending an institution accused of abuses. 

They set out for the Central African Republic in different U.N. deployments over the past year. In each case, U.N. officials soon determined that the allegations against the soldiers and their units were credible enough to send them home. 

14 November 2016

A New Wave of Maritime Threats


Piracy will continue to decline worldwide.

However, maritime threats will still pose a considerable challenge to global shipping companies, especially in waterways in unstable regions.

If the maritime security threat around the Bab el-Mandeb strait shifts from financially motivated piracy attacks to ideologically motivated militant attacks, shipping companies will need to rethink their security measures. 


After three years of relative calm in the waters between Yemen and the Horn of Africa, a strait known as Bab el-Mandeb, at least seven security incidents were reported in October. Two of the attacks, one on an Emirati ship and the other on the USS Mason, a U.S. Navy destroyer, were confirmed to have been carried out by Yemeni militants with land-based anti-ship missiles. Two others, both on Oct. 22, were likely carried out by Somali pirates. Most concerning was an attempted attack on the Galicia Spirit, a liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker, involving a skiff loaded with explosives. The skiff exploded prematurely, leaving the tanker unharmed, but the tactic harkens back al Qaeda attacks against USS Cole in 2000 and the MV Limburg in 2002. Finally, on Oct. 26, the oil tanker Melati Satu was targeted with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). 

24 October 2016

** The superpowers’ playground Everyone wants a piece of Djibouti. It’s all about the bases

Apr 9th 2016 | DJIBOUTI |

AT 2pm in the tiny African state of Djibouti everything stops. As the sun burns high in the sky people retreat to their homes, save for a few men lying in the shade of colonial-era walkways, chewing qat leaves that bring on a hazy high. In the soporific heat you would be forgiven for thinking that time had forgotten the New Jersey-sized nation. Yet its quiet stability within the volatile Horn of Africa has made the country of just 875,000 people a hub for the world’s superpowers.

The stars and stripes flutters alongside the runway where military and passenger planes touch down: Camp Lemmonier, America’s only permanent military base in Africa, hosts 4,500 troops and contractors who conduct missions against al-Qaeda in Yemen and al-Shabab in Somalia. The outpost, leased for $60m a year, shares an airstrip with the international airport, although its drones now fly from a desert airfield eight miles away after one crashed in a residential area in 2011.

18 September 2016

Realizing the potential of Africa’s economies

By Jacques Bughin, Mutsa Chironga, Georges Desvaux, Tenbite Ermias, Paul Jacobson, Omid Kassiri, Acha Leke, Susan Lund, Arend Van Wamelen, and Yassir Zouaoui

Africa’s economic fundamentals remain strong, but governments and companies will need to work even harder to keep the region’s economies moving forward. 

Many observers are questioning whether Africa’s economic advances are running out of steam. Five years ago, growth was accelerating in almost all of the region’s 30 largest economies, but the recent picture has been more mixed: while growth has sped up in about half of Africa’s economies, it has slowed in the rest. 

Between 2010 and 2015, Africa’s overall GDP growth averaged just 3.3 percent, considerably weaker than 4.9 percent a year between 2000 and 2008. But average growth hides a marked divergence, finds a new McKinsey Global Institute report Lions on the move II: Realizing the potential of Africa’s economies. A much less robust economic performance by two groups of African economies dragged that average down—oil exporters hit by the decline in oil prices and countries affected by the political turmoil of the Arab Spring (Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia). For the rest of Africa, growth actually accelerated to 4.4 percent in 2010 to 2015 from 4.1 percent in 2000 to 2010 (exhibit). In addition, long-term fundamentals are strong, and there are substantial market and investment opportunities on the table.

4 August 2016

U.S. Focus on South China Sea Risks Ceding Ground to China in Africa

International tensions continue to mount in the wake of The Hague ruling on July 12 that China’s claims to the South China Sea have no legal basis. Considering what’s at stake, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. U.S. trade accounts for $1.2 trillion of the $5.3 trillion of trade that passes through the South China Sea each year. As the Council on Foreign Relations recently noted, a crisis in the South China Sea would seriously impact both regional economies, as well as our own, increasing insurance rates and necessitating longer transits from port to port. That the South China Sea may, by Chinese estimates, yield 130 billion barrels of oil (more than any area of the globe except Saudi Arabia), only compounds the importance of a peaceful resolution. However, as U.S. focus intensifies in one area of the globe, it wanes in another. It means that, even if we get our way in the South China Sea, we risk losing big in the game of globalization. While the U.S. is busy leading complicated diplomatic processes in Asia, China continues expanding its influence elsewhere, specifically, in the very regions that have moved down the list of U.S. foreign policy priorities.

Nowhere is this phenomenon more prevalent than in Djibouti, a country situated on the northeast coast of Africa described by U.S. Ambassador Tom Kelly as “at the forefront of [U.S.] national security policy” but one that few Americans understand in terms of strategic value. Though small in size, Djibouti plays a vital role in U.S. national security. It houses our only permanent military base on the African continent and positions us within striking distance of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQIP) and al-Shabaab, in Somalia.

9 July 2016

** Balochistan: Caught in the Fragility Trap

By: Ali Dayan Hasan

June 27, 2016

Although reports indicate an improvement in its overall security, Balochistan remains the most fragile province in contemporary Pakistan. This brief examines both the efficacy and motivations behind the state’s recent actions to end persistent conflict in the province.


The province of Balochistan is riven by multiple cyclical conflicts and is the most fragile in Pakistan.

The complicity of politicians, government officials, and security personnel in criminal activity has created a nexus among criminality, militancy, and terrorism.

With significant new Chinese investment on the horizon, a tentative but notable shift in state attitudes toward criminality and conflict has occurred. The operational capacity of sectarian militant groups has been degraded, and unprecedented initial steps have been taken to address paramilitary corruption.

However, policy realignments continue to be determined primarily by Pakistan’s military establishment in light of its strategic priorities. Political negotiations between the state and Baloch nationalist groups have stalled.

While the overall security situation has improved, the rights and needs of Balochistan’s people, and the underlying fault lines that trigger conflict, remain unaddressed.

Fragility is borne from a combination of economic, political, institutional, and societal factors (often self- and mutually reinforcing) and is characterized by (1) a high level of insecurity and continuing violence, organized violence, and conflict; (2) weak institutions; and (3) poor governance or the lack of equitable delivery and distribution of public goods and services. The circular nature of the defining factors lies at the “heart of the concept of the fragility trap.”1 Perhaps the most definitive aspect of fragility—and one that links it to conflict—is institutional weakness or lack of political and performance legitimacy.

3 July 2016

Burundi On The Brink: Crisis In Central Africa – Analysis

JULY 1, 2016

The situation in Burundi is a terrible example of what can happen when politics goes wrong.

A year-long crisis has seen violence and alarming human right violations across the country, which is much worse than most people realise. The total number of fatalities is often reported as being around 450, but detailed analysis indicates that at least 1,000 have been killed. More than 250,000 people have fled the country.

Why has this happened? The immediate trigger was the decision by President Pierre Nkurunziza, who had already served two terms in office, to stand for a third term in the July 2015 elections. He had previously spent 2005-2010 and then 2010-2015 as head of state. Nkurunziza argued that because he was nominated by Parliament the first time round, it did not count. Burundi’s constitutional court, allegedly under duress, agreed with him, but many others did not – and took to the streets to demonstrate.
A year of violence

The government clamped down hard on the protestors, and the situation deteriorated after a failed coup d’état in May 2015. Since then, Burundi has seen waves of violence targeting ordinary citizens and security forces across the country, not least in the capital, Bujumbura.

12 June 2016

A Bloody Setback for China’s Africa Surge Beijing learns that peacekeeping is dangerous
On May 31, a rocket attack in the Water Tower neighborhood of the Malian town of Gao struck Chinese peacekeepers. The attack killed 29-year-old First Sgt. Shen Lianlian and injured several of his fellow soldiers. A separate strike the same day killed one French national and two Malians.
Beijing dispatched an investigative team of soldiers and diplomats to Gao. China’s ambassador to Mali, Lu Huiying, told Chinese media the team is to assist the United Nations as it probes the attack.
The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali is currently the most dangerous in the world.
In addition to monitoring the shaky detente between the Malian military and northern Taureg rebels, peacekeepers must contend with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The terrorist group is a wildcard that doesn’t play by any of the rules the other actors do.
Eighty-one peacekeepers have died in Mali since the mission began in 2013. Shen is the first Chinese fatality.
Historically, the Chinese military has sent medical personnel and engineers to Africa in support roles. However, the nature and structure of China’s peacekeeping missions are changing — in both size and the ability to fight.
Beijing’s deployment to Mali in 2013 brought a much larger combat component than previous Chinese peacekeeping missions.
In 2015, China deployed an infantry battalion to South Sudan. It is Beijing’s largest troop deployment — combat ready or otherwise — to a U.N. mission to date. The 700-troop contingent is equipped with drones, armored fighting vehicles, mortars and heavy machine guns.
In May 2015, the Chinese troops got their first taste of action when they intervened to stop a riot in one of three refugee camps near their barracks in the South Sudanese capital of Juba. The riot resulted in two deaths and around 100 injuries before the Chinese troops stopped it.
“China has gone from being a nation that voiced its opposition to international peacekeeping efforts to one that has committed a fully equipped infantry battalion, whose troop strength and capabilities equal that of a reinforced battalion in time of war,” analyst Cindy Hurst wrote in a special essay the May 2016 issue of O.E. Watch, the monthly newsletter of the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office.
“This change of heart has many observers questioning China’s possible intentions and motives.”
Chinese officials typically tout a policy of non-interference in the politics of African nations. However, there are occasional signs of shrewd politicking.
After the Liberian civil war, China deployed military engineers to build roads and infrastructure in the small west African Nation — conspicuously after Monrovia dropped its diplomatic recognition of Taiwan.
Many commentators have been particularly critical of Chinese policy in both Sudan and South Sudan, both places China has sent peacekeepers. Chinese weapons have routinely been spotted in South Sudan. And human rights groups have accused China of running interference for Sudan during the height of the Darfur Genocide.
eijing eventually agreed to authorize a peacekeeping mission in the Darfur region — and even sent troops. But the presence of Chinese peacekeepers angered several Darfuri rebel groups. Some rebels threatened to attack them, though thus far no Chinese troops have died in Darfur.

10 June 2016

China in Africa, Part III: The Ugly

A sign for Chinese telecom company Huawei in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Untangling the diverse threads that make up the “China in Africa” narrative is a herculean task.
By David Volodzko
June 09, 2016
The ugliest problem with regard to China’s role in Africa isn’t reconciling the good with the bad but reconciling perspectives on what’s considered good or bad. China colonizes Africa, rapes it of resources, empowers dictators—or it invests in Africa, builds infrastructure, pursues diplomatic engagement. Splitting the difference between these views is a big ask, even for seasoned insiders, and the media rarely helps.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said in February that when it comes to food, his nation needs to be self-reliant. Beijing then offered a $6 billion loan for agricultural development and said it would increase scholarships for Nigerian students seven-fold. One British news site ran the headline, “China adds Nigeria to its African Empire.”

By comparison, South Korean President Park Geun-hye completed a tour last month of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda to help communities become agriculturally self-reliant. Instead of pledging billions, she promoted a project providing food and medical services to rural communities, which also promoted so-called K-culture. The project consisted of just 10 vehicles, yet one headline read: “S. Korea: A giant Africa can learn from.”Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
One reason the media gives China’s efforts short shrift is that we recall Beijing’s aggression toward Taiwan and Hong Kong’s bids for freedom, its brutality at Tiananmen and in Tibet and Xinjiang, as well as its abuse of Falun Gong practitioners, Christians, reporters, activists, artists, and lawyers. And we’re reminded, as recently as this month, that Beijing is arrogantly unrepentant about its human rights record.

9 June 2016

The Kindling of Multiple Geopolitical Crises

European powers strongly shaped the geopolitics of contemporary sub-Saharan Africa. In the colonial era, they saw sub-Saharan Africa as a means to an end, initially encountering the continent as they looked for sea trading routes to India and East Asia. France, Great Britain, Portugal, Germany and Belgium had the largest presence.

From the 16th century through the 18th century, major European governments established ports to support long voyages to the East Indies. When we look at the location of former colonies, we can observe how each location served as a resting and refueling point in the long journey east.

Europe also viewed the African colonies as a source of wealth and natural resources. This sparked the “scramble for Africa” in the 1880s, when European countries arbitrarily carved out their respective colonies. This structure was formalized by the Berlin Conference (1884-1885). By the end, European powers laid claim to about 90 percent of sub-Saharan African territory.

1 June 2016

Britain is at war in Libya and nobody thought to tell us

28 May 2016 

British SAS troops may be fighting in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Libya – but Parliament hasn’t been told about any of these deployments, let alone been given the chance to debate them 

Fighters loyal to Libya's GNA prepare to launch attacks against Isis as they continue their resistance on the outskirts of the western city of Sirte Getty Last week, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon tried to put to bed questions about whether Britain is planning to deploy the Army to Libya, where, just 200 miles from Europe, Isis has flourished amid a permanent state of chaos after the 2011 Nato-backed overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

Fallon said Britain is not planning a “combat role” for British troops in Libya; if the army were to be deployed in Libya, Parliament would discuss it first.

But just two days after his comments the Times reported that British Special Air Service troops are already in Libya and were seen earlier in May blowing up an Isis vehicle laden with explosives near Misrata.

29 May 2016

Status Report on the War in Somalia

May 26, 2016

Somalia: One Thing Everyone Can Agree On

In the south Kenyan peacekeepers reported multiple encounters with al Shabaab in the last week which resulted in over 80 dead Islamic terrorists and nearly twenty casualties (mostly wounded) among the soldiers. Kenyan troops have been patrolling the Somali side of the border, in cooperation with anti-terrorist local militias, since 2011. This has reduced but not eliminated al Shabaab and Somali bandit activity in Kenya. 

The 22,000 peacekeepers, along with about as many Somali soldiers and pro-government local militias, have al Shabaab on the run in the rest of the country. But actually destroying the Islamic terrorist organization has proved more difficult. The widespread corruption and unemployment (largely caused by the corruption) provide a steady supply of angry young men willing to “defend Islam”, improve their economic prospects and engage in some traditional mayhem. Despite the increasing likelihood of an early death al Shabaab leaders have adapted. They operate in smaller units, no longer congregate in large groups for any purpose and try to establish cells (small groups of Islamic terrorists) in cities to carry out high-profile (lots of media coverage) attacks. 

To help counter this the United States has quietly sent in more UAVs and electronic monitoring aircraft to help locate the more dispersed al Shabaab members. The American UAVs will still use missiles to attack any senior leaders they locate but otherwise the Americans are just providing information for the peacekeepers and other security forces to act on. 

20 May 2016

Africans don’t trust their governments—that’s great for cyber criminals

Africans could be the next victims of cyber criminals.(Reuters/Esam Omran Al-Fetori) 

African citizens and businesses would rather take their chances with the consequences of cybercrime than share personal information with their governments. That’s why African countries could be a major victim of cyber crime in coming years, warn analysts and government officials speaking at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali last week.

The lack of trust some Africans have for their governments runs deep, particularly in countries where the leadership has been repressive or autocratic and stems from fears officials may be spying on citizens.

“There is a huge lack of information sharing due to absence of trust between the private and public sector which is affecting the fight against cyber crimes” said Jean-Luc Vez, the head of public security policy and security affairs at the World Economic Forum.

He said the reason for the mistrust is that “some countries go on scrutinizing and spying on their citizens which makes it hard for the private sector to share information,” adding that it difficult for people to draw a distinction between the needs of national security and combating cyber crimes.

2 May 2016

Africa: Between hope and despair Optimism surrounding the continent has evaporated with the collapse in commodity prices

by: David Pilling
Financial Times (April 25 2016)
Whatever happened to “Africa Rising”? Not so long ago, when investors, shell-shocked from the 2008 financial crisis, were hunting for the next big growth story, the idea of a resurgent Africa took hold. After decades in which the perception of Sub-Saharan Africa had been that of a continent of poverty, disease, civil war and kleptocracy, from about 2009 a new, more hopeful, narrative began to gain traction.
In this version, instead of being the “hopeless continent” — the title of a notorious Economist magazine cover story in 2000 — Africa became the next great investment frontier. Most of its multilateral debt had been forgiven, growth rates had improved since the turn of the century and, for the first time, governments were tapping capital markets at low rates.
The rosy view was partly driven by demographics. Thanks to a high birth rate — in many countries 5 or 6 per woman — the population of Sub-Saharan Africa is likely to double to 2bn by 2050, according to Hans Rosling of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. By contrast, Europe and the Americas have stopped growing and Asia’s population is levelling out. African cities were thus said to be brimming with young aspirants ready to buy branded beer (rather than cheap moonshine), toothpaste, mobile phones, motorbikes and, perhaps before too long, cars and houses.

China’s voracious appetite for African oil, copper, iron ore, bauxite and sundry other commodities pushed up the earning power of countries from Angola to Zambia. Similarly, its no-strings approach to investment and construction had pushed down the price of roads, ports and power stations plus the odd presidential palace.
Africa, according to this more hopeful narrative, was less convulsed by violence and run by more sensible leaders who held regular elections and implemented rational economic policies. All of this opened up the possibility that it could leapfrog a stage of development by jumping straight from a pre-industrial state to a shiny new digital world.
“The idea gradually built that Africa was about to become the new Asia,” says Richard Dowden, executive director of the Royal African Society in London, and author of The Economist’s “hopeless continent” article. It was, he says, “absolutely ridiculous”.

Mood swing
That exuberance has evaporated. Nigeria and South Africa, which together make up more than half of sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product, are in deep trouble. Nigeria’s petroleum-dependent economy will be lucky to notch up GDP growth of 3 per cent this year, barely enough to keep up with population expansion. The naira is under pressure, foreign exchange is rationed, the budget is strained and a balance of payments crisis is looming.
South Africa is in even worse shape, convulsed politically, battered by deep job losses in its struggling mines and facing the real possibility of a downgrade of its sovereign debt to junk.

23 April 2016

* The Underlying Causes of Stability and Instability in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region

By Anthony H. Cordesman, Abdullah Toukan
Apr 19, 2016
The Burke Chair at CSIS is introducing a two-volume survey of the underlying causes of stability and instability in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. It draws upon the work of Anthony H. Cordesman, the Burke Chair in strategy at the CSIS, and Dr. Abdullah Toukan – a Senior associate at CSIS and President and CEO of Strategic International Risk Assessment (SIRA) in Dubai.
The New Stability and Risk Assessment Reports
The new reports include:
Stability in the MENA Region: Beyond ISIS and War, Volume One: Regional Trends, a comparative survey of the key quantitative civil factors and trends shaping stability and instability in the region. This volume is available on the CSIS website at This volume begins by illustrating the sheer complexity of the forces now shaping the MENA region, and the difficulty of finding any overall model that fits the different variables involved. It explains the broad outline of the risk assessments used in the study — which compare a wide range of quantifiable longer terms trends drawn from a range international sources — with the full knowledge that many factors cannot be reliably quantified or ranked, and there are often serious uncertainties in the data.
The report then surveys various estimates of:

o Governance, Security, Regulation, Rule of Law, Corruption, and Effectiveness
o Corruption
o Authoritarianism, Repression, and Failed Governance: Popular Fears and Concerns
o Popular Perceptions of the State
o War and the Cumulative Human Impact of the “Arab Winter”
o Demographics, and Hyperurbanization
o The Size and Impact of “Youth Bulges
o Societal Change and Human Development
o How Religion and Ideology Interact with Sect and Ethnicity
o Budget Trends and Stability
o Economics, GDP Per Capita and Wealth Distribution
o Finance and Banking
o Ease of Doing Business Indicators
o The “Energy Curse” and the End of the “Petroleum Bubble”?
o Food Cost and Security
o Trade, Balance of Payments, Tourism
o Water, Climate Change, and Drought
o Environment
Stability in the MENA Region: Beyond ISIS and War Volume Two: Country-by-Country Trends, a country-by-country risk assessment and survey of the key quantitative civil factors and trends shaping stability and instability in the region. This volume is available on the CSIS website at