WASHINGTON, March 22 (Reuters) – Uganda’s anti-gay bill passed on Tuesday is concerning and represents one of the most extreme actions taken against the LGBTQ community in the world, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday
Uganda’s parliament passed a law on Tuesday making it a crime to identify as LGBTQ, handing authorities broad powers to target gay Ugandans who already face legal discrimination and mob violence.
Reporting By Nandita Bose and Jarrett Renshaw
US-China tensions: How Africa can avoid being caught in a new Cold War
John J Stremlau, Monday 20 Mar 2023
China’s foreign ministry published a 4,000-word analysis entitled US Hegemony and its Perils on 20 February. It’s an indictment of alleged US foreign interference, intimidation and interventions that began 200 years ago.
This was followed by President Xi Jinping’s accusation at the Communist Party National Congress in March that the US was pursuing an unprecedented global policy to contain and suppress Chinese development.
US official reaction to the Chinese accusations has been muted. But the recent US shooting down of an alleged Chinese spy balloon escalated tensions. There are fears that escalating US-Chinese tensions might threaten the independence of African and other nonaligned nations.
This essay seeks to contribute to an overdue debate among Africans about how to avoid being entangled in US-China global rivalry, while maintaining productive partnerships with both nations. It draws on my many years of teaching and research on Africa’s changing international relations.
I hope it will encourage other scholars and policy makers across Africa to assess the hegemony statement in the light of their own interests and values. Finally, this essay is intended to encourage debate about what each topic realistically implies for Africa continent.
The topics in the statement are:
– Political hegemony, (America) throwing its weight around
– Military hegemony, wanton use of force
– Economic hegemony, looting and exploitation
– Technological hegemony, monopoly and suppression
– Cultural hegemony, spreading false narratives.
Although Chinese rhetoric is harsh, the initiatives and interactions of China and the US in Africa under each heading illustrate my general belief that their competition in Africa has been, and can be, both peaceful and productive.
China’s indictment ranges from US efforts at hemispheric domination beginning in the early 19th century to fomenting the “colour revolutions”, non-violent protests that overthrew autocratic regimes in the three post-Soviet republics Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.
But, China’s vision of the US glosses over the volatility of US domestic politics. Domestic concerns can alter foreign policy, a leader’s ideology, and political and historical circumstances.
Domestically, China too has undergone several political upheavals since the civil war that brought the Communist Party to power in 1949. If China underestimates US domestic swings, US analysts may exaggerate the global impact of Chinese internal pressures.
During my election work for the Carter Centre in Africa, from 2006-2015, I was impressed by Chinese and American representatives able to seek common ground and learn from each other.
At higher levels of diplomacy, China and the US have used summits with African leaders to set broad guidelines of cooperation in trade and investment, climate, public health, building infrastructure and other areas.
These should help African leaders decide areas of comparative advantage for them, in dealing with the two major powers.
The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation differs from US initiatives, the most recent being the US-Africa Partnership in Promoting Peace, Security, and Democratic Governance. Neither major power appears to me to harbour hegemonic presumptions, as African leaders test their abilities to be productively nonaligned.
These high-level channels to both superpowers might yield more if African regional economic communities and the African Union made more concerted efforts to develop complementary and cumulative strategies for pressing African priorities.
Extending the US African Growth and Opportunity Act to ensure favourable access to US markets is one example. Managing debt obligations for China’s important “Belt and Road” investments in African infrastructure is another.
Military And Economic Hegemony
The differences in what Africa had to contend with during the US-Soviet Cold War and today’s US-China rivalry are most pronounced in areas of military and economic hegemony.
Neither China nor the US seem poised to use Africa to test political military resolve, as the US and Soviets did when they fought proxy wars in Angola during the 1970s, for example.
African national and multilateral bodies should lobby China and America to back African-led peace operations within African states.
Globally, economic interdependence between China and the US will remain vital for sustained growth and prosperity for both nations.
Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping are committed to reviving their domestic economies. They both want greater equality, less corruption, and sustained growth. Neither appears to want or need to foment conflicts in Africa.
African governments rightly pursue support from both China and the US for regional integration and cooperation, such as the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Greater Chinese and US economic engagement in response to African collective appeals could also become a confidence building measure between China and the US. This rarely happened during the Cold War.
Back then, the US was aligned with European colonial powers and the apartheid regime in South Africa. The Soviets backed liberation forces. Today, such polarisation doesn’t exist.
The Chinese statement on US hegemony rightly notes the US is plagued by domestic violence and has a history of failures in military interventions. [US analysts acknowledge] this.
But US domestic resistance to new foreign military adventures became bipartisan and popular for the past decade.
African nations should hold America and China to account for their avowed commitments to respecting core UN principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity.
Equally, they must hold Russia to account for blatantly violating those principles by invading Ukraine.
Benefits and risks of new technologies are well known. Communication, data retrieval and collection, and artificial intelligence bring both promise and peril that Africa must navigate carefully.
This is becoming all the more pressing as progress in artificial intelligence accelerates. Neither China nor the US need to be hegemonic in making available technologies that spur Africa’s development.
More issues of contention need to be resolved with the help of scientists and scholars from China, US, and Africa. The availability of Huawei 5G is a particularly contentious issue.
Perhaps interested scientists and members of the African Research Universities Alliance could work with their Chinese and US counterparts to establish guidelines and mediation capabilities.
US crimes against Africans began in earnest in 1619 with the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Its sediments persist today.
But? The African diaspora has become a key political constituency of the Democratic Party. It is a fast growing demographic. In music, sports, arts, these Americans are invaluable conveyors of soft power in Africa.
China does not have similar ties with Africa. But, it has recently become more active culturally across the continent, as evident in its network of Confucius Institutes. China has also become the biggest donor of foreign scholarships, enabling future African leaders to study in China.
Graduates enrich African universities and, interacting with graduates of US institutions of higher education, represent potential channels to explore options for three way, useful collaboration in their fields of applied research.
This essay reflects my belief in the value and prospects for greater African agency in response to rising tensions between China and America. I have used China’s indictment of alleged US hegemony only to debunk fear of Africa becoming a pawn in another Cold War.
There is no evidence I have seen to suggest that will happen.
* John J Stremlau, Honorary Professor of International Relations, University of the Witwatersrand
Angolan president holds security talks with his DRC counterpart
By Rédaction Africanews with AFP
Angolan President Joao Lourenco held a three-hour private meeting in Luanda on Saturday with his Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) counterpart, Felix Tshisekedi.
The talks came a day after the Angolan parliament approved a year-long deployment of up to 500 soldiers to the troubled eastern DRC.
But Luanda said the contingent would only be moved when it was certain that the right conditions existed in the cantonment areas.
“Today, a delegation of the ad hoc mechanism, which includes military officers, is visiting these areas to confirm that all is in order,” said Francisco Furtado, Minister of State and head of military in the Angolan presidency.
The troops will help to maintain peace in areas held by the M23 rebel group. The militia resumed fighting at the end of 2021 and have conquered large swathes of territory in the DRC’s North Kivu province.
Angola’s president played a key mediation role in trying to end the conflict, but the latest ceasefire he negotiated collapsed earlier this month on the same day it was due to take effect.
“It is still a concern of the DRC government that we need to see an engagement of all parties, on the part of the government of the DRC, on the part of Rwanda, and also on the part of M23 in terms of compliance with the cessation of hostilities,” said Furtado.
The DRC has accused Rwanda of backing the mostly Congolese Tutsi group, a charge that Kigali denies.
Here are the top 500 companies in Africa
By Rédaction Africanews with Young Africa
After analyzing the results of more than 1,200 companies, Jeune Afrique unveils its exclusive ranking of the 500 most important companies in Africa.
Hit by the Covid pandemic and then by the repercussions of the war in Ukraine, companies on the continent have to deal with an ever-uncertain business environment, synonymous with both pitfalls and opportunities. In fact, some players have succeeded in getting out of the game thanks in particular to the innovation strategies deployed to adapt to the multiplication of exogenous shocks.
Jeune Afrique draws up a ranking, of the 500 companies on the continent that have best-taken advantage of opportunities in the 2021 financial year. A ranking that reaches the third-highest level of overall turnover since the launch of this type of investigation.
The resilience of companies in the face of Covid-19 and the turbulence that has hit the continent since 2015 (oil crash, raw materials, etc.) is therefore real. In essence, these good results are driven in particular by companies in the mining and hydrocarbons sector.
The Algerian company Sonatrach dominates this ranking with a turnover reaching 34 billion dollars and a net result of more than 5.5 billion dollars. The Algerian giant sees its export activity in dollars increase by 75%.
The Angolan oil company Sonangol (12th), despite a drop in production of around 10% in 2021, is back in favor with the Top 15 and gains eight places, boosted by rising prices.
The continent’s GDP has surged
On the countryside, South Africa dominates the ranking with eight companies present in the Top 10 and nearly 50% of the revenues of the Top 500. But this trend tends to decrease year after year. Behind South Africa, Egyptian, Nigerian, Moroccan, and Algerian companies share between 6.5% and 9% of total revenues.
Four new entrants are positioned in the Top 100. They are Airtel Africa (Nigeria), ENI Angola (Angola), Société Marocaine de Distribution (Morocco) and Sodiam (Angola).
In terms of growth, according to the African Development Bank (AfDB), after a fall of 2.1% in 2020, the continent’s GDP jumped 2021, by 4.8%, including 4.5% for Sub-Saharan Africa.
Apart from South Sudan and Equatorial Guinea, all countries on the continent had positive growth in 2021, some even posting rates among the best in the world, such as Rwanda ( + 10.9%), Morocco (+ 7 .9%), Côte d’Ivoire (+ 7.4%), Kenya (+ 7.5%) or the DRC (+ 6.2%).
The continent’s three largest economies saw more subdued levels, at 3.6% for Nigeria, 3.3% for Egypt, and 4.9% for South Africa.
These 2021 performances erase the successive crises of the middle of the 2010 decade. and to a lesser extent South Africa.
Top Ethiopian officials host U. S. Secretary of State
By Rédaction Africanews and AP
Ethiopia’s Deputy PM and Foreign Minister hosted Wednesday (Mar.15) the U.S. Secretary of State. Antony Blinken.
The US top diplomat who’s set to visit 2 countries on the continent; will first meet with Ethiopian federal officials and Tigrayan representatives in Addis Ababa.
He’ll discuss the implementation of the peace deal that ended the war in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region as well as humanitarian support.
The conflict led the U.S. to suspend some preferential trade agreements with Ethiopia, which could also be on the agenda.
At the start of the meeting Blinken said “It’s very, very good to be back in Africa, especially to be in Ethiopia at I think a very important moment, a moment of hope given the peace in the north that is taking hold and that continues to move forward […]”
According to the U. S. department of state press statement, Blinken “will also meet humanitarian partners and civil society actors to discuss humanitarian assistance delivery, food security, and human rights.”
While there, Blinken will also meet with the African Union Commission Chairperson.
In the first ever visit to Niger by a U.S. Secretary of State, on March 16, Secretary Blinken will meet President Mohamed Bazoum and Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou in Niamey.
Blinken asks Ethiopia during visit to ‘deepen the peace’ in war-torn north
AFP , Wednesday 15 Mar 2023
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday urged Ethiopia to “deepen the peace” in the war-torn north as he moved cautiously to repair relations shaken by the brutal two-way conflict.
The top US diplomat was paying his first visit to the longstanding ally since the war in Tigray, which claimed some 500,000 lives according to US estimates and led Washington to sever trade preferences with Africa’s second most populous nation.
Opening a day of talks that will include a meeting with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Blinken sipped Ethiopia’s celebrated coffee at the foreign ministry and said he hoped for better relations.
“It is a very important moment, a moment of hope given the peace in the north that has taken hold,” he said.
“There is a lot to be done. Probably the most important thing is to deepen the peace that has taken hold in the north.”
Blinken said he hoped to restore cooperation “with the goal of strengthening the relationship” with Ethiopia, home of the African Union, amid a push by President Joe Biden to deepen relations with Africa.
Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen, receiving Blinken, said: “We have longstanding relations and it is time to revitalise them and move forward.”
Souring of relations
Following the meeting with Demeke, Blinken arrived at the Prime Minister’s Office for talks with Abiy, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, who was once seen as at the vanguard of a new generation of forward-looking African leaders, but whose reputation later took a beating in Washington over the war.
The violence erupted when the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which once dominated Ethiopian politics, attacked military installations, prompting a major offensive by Abiy’s government with backing from neighbouring Eritrea.
The TPLF briefly came close to marching on the capital but, beaten back by pro-Abiy forces, agreed to disarm under a November 2 accord negotiated in South Africa by the African Union with US participation.
Molly Phee, the top US diplomat for Africa, told reporters before Blinken’s departure that his visit would aim to “help consolidate” the peace in the north but that the relationship was not ready to go “back to normal”.
A key wish of Ethiopia is a return to the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which gave it duty-free access for most products to the world’s largest economy, but the United States has made no commitments.
Abiy has pledged to restore basic services in war-wracked Tigray, though it is impossible to assess the situation on the ground due to restrictions on media access.
The Tigray war has been one of the deadliest in the 21st century with a US-estimated toll higher than that from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has drawn far more global attention.
Moscow has since gone on a diplomatic offensive in Africa, including in Ethiopia, hoping the continent will stay neutral rather than join Western sanctions against it.
Russia’s efforts follow years of inroads in Africa by China, which has also offered the continent’s leaders relationships that are unencumbered by Western pressure on human rights.
Soon after Blinken’s visit, his third to sub-Saharan Africa, US Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia, three countries seen as committed to making progress on democracy.
New Tunisian parliament to meet for 1st time since dissolution
By Rédaction Africanews and Agencies
Tunisian Mps are to convene on Monday (Mar. 13) after a two-year hiatus. The new assembly was elected by about 11% -in both rounds- of registered voters.
It will be almost impossible for the representatives to censure the government and the president will have priority in getting his laws passed.
These new dispositions are the results of reform spearheaded by president Kaies Saied, who was elected in late 2019. On the 25th of July, 2021 Saied, took on full executive power, sacked the prime minister and dissolved the Parliament.
On the 30th of March 2022, he hailed a “historic moment”, when announcing “the dissolution of the Assembly of Representatives of the people, to “preserve the state and its institutions and the Tunisian people.”
Rached Ghannouchi, the speaker of the suspended Ennahdha-dominated parliament, was then accused of having plotted against state security.
Since then, he has been investigated on multiple charges including incitement and money laundering, denying all of them.
In April 2022, he deplored the state of the nation’s democracy.
“The situation in our country is not good, the parliament has been dissolved and destroyed,” he said.
The political situation has prompted thousands of Tunisians opposed to Kaies Saied’s rule, to protest.
In a divided nation, Monday’s parliamentary session will bring together 154 new Mps.
Their political leanings remain unclear though.
After dismantling the institutional edifice put in place by the semi-parliamentary Constitution of 2014, Tunisia’s president ushered his country into the era of hyper-presidentialism
Vice-President Kamala Harris to visit Africa in latest U.S. outreach
By Rédaction Africanews with AP
Vice President Kamala Harris will spend a week in Africa at the end of March as the United States deepens its outreach to the continent amid global competition, notably with China.
“The trip will strengthen the United States’ partnerships throughout Africa and advance our shared efforts on security and economic prosperity,” said a statement from the vice president’s spokesperson, Kirsten Allen.
Harris’ plans follow visits by first lady Jill Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is going this week, and President Joe Biden is expected to travel to Africa later this year.
However, Harris will be closely watched as the first Black vice president in U.S. history and the first woman to hold the position.
She plans to be in Ghana from March 26 to 29, then in Tanzania from March 29 to 31. Her final stop is Zambia, on March 31 and April 1.
Harris has a personal connection to the third country on her itinerary. Her maternal grandfather worked in Zambia years ago, and she visited him there as a young girl.
Allen said the vice president’s agenda will include promoting democracy, climate adaptation, women’s economic empowerment and food security.
Besides meeting the presidents of each of the three countries she’s visiting, Harris plans to talk with “young leaders, business representatives, entrepreneurs, and members of the African Diaspora,” Allen said.
The White House’s concerted outreach to the continent began with the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, which it hosted in December. China has invested heavily in Africa, but Washington is pitching itself as a better partner than Beijing.
“Our administration will be guided not by what we can do for Africa but what we can do with Africa,” Harris said during the summit.
Although competition between the U.S. and China has been the backdrop of much American foreign policy, the Democratic administration is trying to calibrate its approach to Africa so leaders on the continent don’t feel as though they’re being caught in the middle of a geopolitical contest.
A senior administration official stressed that the White House wants to put forward an “affirmative agenda” that incorporates concerns about China and ripple effects from Russia’s war in Ukraine but isn’t dominated by them.
Russia gives fertilizer to Malawi, seeks African support
The Russian government has donated 20,000 tons of fertilizer to Malawi as part of its efforts to garner diplomatic support from various African nations.
Russia will give 260,000 tons of fertilizer to countries in the continent, Russian Ambassador to Malawi Nikolai Krasilnikov said at a handover ceremony Monday at the capital, Lilongwe.
He said he hopes African leaders will press for the abolition of international sanctions against Russia when they attend the second Russia-Africa summit to be held in St. Petersburg at the end of July.
The Russian manufacturer Uralchem-Ukalkali had produced the fertilizer and made the gift to Malawi, said Dmitry Shornikov, head of the firm’s southern Africa branch, who also attended the handover.
The fertilizer should help Malawi achieve its goals of substantially boosting its agricultural production and helping families grow more healthy and nutritious food, said Shornikov.
Malawi’s minister of Agriculture Kawale said the fertilizer will reach 400,000 farming households and boost their agricultural production.
Also attending the event was a representative of the United Nations’ World Food Program.
Malawi voted to censure Russia at the United Nations last year for its invasion of Ukraine. More than 15 other African countries abstained from the vote.
OCP Group, Mohammed VI Polytechnic University and Fauji Group announce the strengthening of their historic partnership.
OCP Group, a global leader in plant nutrition and the world’s largest producer of phosphate-based fertilisers, Mohammed VI Polytechnic University and the Fauji Group, leader in the fertiliser market in Pakistan, proceeded this Friday, March 3rd in Casablanca, to the signature of a memorandum of understanding on the strengthening of their cooperation.
This new stage in their fruitful collaboration, which extends over a period of fifteen years, is the result of a shared desire to develop innovative solutions to meet the specific needs of Pakistani farmers and to contribute sustainably to improving productivity in the agricultural sector.
The MoU will focus on identifying the specific agronomic needs of Pakistani soils, evaluating and developing customised fertilisers to meet them, and optimising the resources used in the fertilisation process. The project will also focus on the development of a range of services for farmers aimed at increasing the profitability of the agricultural sector and making farmers aware of the principles of balanced fertilisation, the use of adapted fertilisers and allowing optimal use of nutrients, thus improving soil health.
The agreement also provides for the establishment of an industrial cooperation framework that will take advantage of the infrastructures and industrial expertise of each of the two groups.
UM6P will mobilise its agronomic and scientific expertise, its research and innovation infrastructures as well as its “Al Moutmir” agricultural development model, with a view to contributing to the adoption by Pakistani farmers of balanced agricultural practices based on research, innovation and new technologies.
This memorandum was signed in presence of representatives from the OCP Group, Fauji Group and the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University.
On this occasion, Mr. Soufyane El Kassi, CEO of OCP Nutricrops, a subsidiary dedicated to soil and plant fertilisation solutions, said “This closer alliance with the Fauji Group will enable us to accelerate our collaboration to develop new solutions and expand the service offering. It will also enable us to explore and implement innovative business models for further value creation in the agricultural sector.”
The partnership between OCP and Fauji Group was consolidated through the creation in 2004 of the Pakistan Maroc Phosphore (PMP) joint-venture, owned equally by the two groups. This nearly 20-year collaboration has been a success for both partners in terms of optimising production costs and securing the supply of phosphoric acid, while providing safe access to raw materials.
During the signing ceremony of the MoU, Mr. Waqar Ahmed Malik, Managing Director and CEO of Fauji Group emphasised the strategic relationship between Fauji Group and OCP group. He added that this relationship has embarked Fauji Group on a path to becoming a prominent player and the only local producer of DAP in Pakistan. He further added that this MoU and its implementation will further enhance the output of crop and farmers income.
Furthermore, Mr. Nawfel Roudies, Head of Al Moutmir Business Unit within Mohamed VI Polytechnic University also underlined “UM6P is proud to contribute to the dynamics of transformation of Pakistani agriculture. We are mobilised alongside our partners to successfully develop a resilient, innovative and sustainable agriculture.”
This new memorandum of understanding thus reinforces OCP Group’s commitment to a stable and inclusive global food security, in line with its new green investment strategy, dedicated to increasing its production capacity for fertilizers, to the production of renewable energies, and launched at the end of 2022.