September, October, and November 2015


[Ugandan] Government starts women entrepreneurship programme

16 October 2015

By: Amos Ngwomoya

Government [sic] has initiated the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) aimed at improving access to financial services for women and equipping them with skills for enterprise growth, value addition and marketing of their produce.

In a workshop held in Kampala on Tuesday, the state minister for Youth and Children’s affairs, Ms Evelyn Anite, who represented the minister of Gender, said the programme will be implemented over a period of five years, starting from 2015/2016 financial year.

“The first phase will cover 19 districts and KCCA for the financial year 2015/2016,” she said.

“It shall gradually be rolled out to other districts over the next four years. The selection of the first phase has been based on the population of women, poverty count and land area.”

Ms Anite, however, challenged district leaders to supervise and monitor the programme.

She noted that technical people ought to be on board in order to make the selection of beneficiaries so that bogus groups are avoided.

The 19 pilot districts include Bundibugyo, Kalangala, Kamuli, Kaliro, Katakwi, Kayunga, Kibale, Kiruhura, Kisoro and Kitgum. Others are; Koboko, Kole, Mayuge, Moroto, Nakasongola, Nebbi, Ntungamo, Otuke and Wakiso.

Gender ministry permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana said UWEP is targeting women between 18 and 30 years of age.

“UWEP is among the flagship programmes of the Social Development sector under Gender ministry. The project has been allocated Shs3 billion,” Mr Bigirimana said.

(Source: The Monitor)


Drought resistant maize key to food security

6 November 2015

By: Wandile Sihlobo

October 16 was World Food Day, and it was commemorated by the AfricaBio stakeholders’ association with a business breakfast with the theme, Water-efficient Maize for Africa (Wema): Delivering the Promise to African Smallholder Farmers.

Wema is a drought-resistant maize variety developed for dryland farmers, particularly smallholders, who are dependent mainly on rainfall.

The variety was bred to diminish the risk of dryland farming because of climate change and the increasing incidence of droughts.

During the breakfast, conversations were mainly about the potential benefits of Wema to household food security in the region. The meeting could not have come at a better time, given that the Southern African region experienced a drought in the 2014-2015 season, which has led to a 26% drop in maize production.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), grain production fell to 21.1-million tonnes, from 28.5-million tonnes in the preceding season. This places many of the region’s population at risk of hunger, especially in households that are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods.

South Africa’s dominance of the regional market contributes to the precarious situation. The country supplies 42% of Southern African maize production, and accounts for 69% of the region’s maize imports.

The concentration of production in and imports from South Africa means the effects in domestic market are transmitted throughout the region. With South Africa’s maize production down by 30% year on year, and with estimates that maize imports will be up to 770 000 tonnes, higher domestic maize prices are likely to spread through the region.

At the time of writing, the South African Futures Exchange (Safex) white maize spot price was R3 070 a tonne, 57% higher than at the same time a year ago, and higher food prices are expected to persist into the next season. There are fears that the El Niño phenomenon will not abate soon and consumers are likely to continue to be faced with high food prices. The broader economic slowdown in South Africa’s major trading partners such as China has added further inflationary pressures on food in Southern Africa and regional currencies continue to depreciate against the dollar.

Low grain stocks in net import countries such as Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe are expected to keep prices in these countries above import parity. Collectively, these countries normally import between 30% to 83% of their annual maize consumption, depending on the season.

This year, Zimbabwe will need more maize imports than last year. This follows a 50% year-on-year decrease in the annual maize production to 742 226 tonnes, according to the FAO estimates. As a result, it is forecast that imports will be 700 000 tonnes, which is 41% of their annual maize consumption.

The only glimmer of hope for maize supplies in the region this season is Zambia, which has recently been exporting small volumes of white maize to South Africa and other regional markets. The Zambian government announced earlier this year that the country had about 800 000 tonnes of white maize surplus for export markets, which would improve the maize supply in the region.

But, in mid-October, the Zambian media reported the country was afraid of depleting its stocks and is raising food prices, and could ban maize exports. Zambia is among the African countries hit hardest by the economic slowdown in China and falling global copper prices, which has led to a significant depreciation of the Zambia kwacha against the dollar. A ban on exports would aggravate worsening regional food security.

Despite a regional shortage of maize, there are large supplies on the world market. The International Grains Council estimates the 2015-2016 global maize production and ending stocks will be 967-million tonnes and 199-million tonnes, respectively.

However, poor infrastructure and high logistical costs associated with landing maize imports from overseas markets result in high regional maize prices. In South Africa, the import parity price of white maize is about R3 400 a tonne, which is 10% higher than the Safex-traded white maize spot price.

Drought makes efforts such as Wema very relevant to resolving the region’s food security challenges. Developing varieties that can tolerate dry conditions and give better yields provide much-needed hope, and research and development institutions should be given incentives to take up this challenge.

Organised agriculture will invariably also be key to better soil and water conservation.

The agricultural industry is high-risk and subject to many external and natural factors, but continuous innovation and adaptation could lead to consistently higher yields and social development.

(Source: Mail and Guardian)


Chinese investments in Uganda to double in 5 years

10 November 2015

By: Edward Kayiwa

Chinese investments in Uganda are slated to double in the next five years, as the two countries continue to strengthen their economic corporation and trade relations, the ambassador has said.

The Chinese deputy ambassador to Uganda, Chu Maoming said the recent eighteenth plenary session of China’s central committee decided to attract more investments to Uganda, in a bid to reduce trade imbalance between the two countries.

“Although the volume of trade has increased greatly in the last few years between China and Uganda, trade surplus has been shifted to China’s side. On the basis of that, we intend to bring a lot of business opportunities to Uganda to strengthen our economic corporation and trade relationship,” he said.

He added that china’s decision also stems from a recent agreement signed between the two heads of state during president Museveni’s visit to china in March 2015.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Trade, trade volume between the two countries, in 2012, came to $575.5m (sh 2.052trillion) of which China’s exports were $546.01m (sh 1.9 trillion) while imports stood at $29.49m (sh105b). This literally means that Uganda exported 5% worth of what it imported from China.

Maoming said the Chinese government will continue to support more Ugandan projects, especially in infrastructure development, through loans and grants to strengthen the corporation of the two countries.

He also said Uganda remains a destination of choice for business because of peace and economic stability.

This was on the sidelines of a dinner organised by EcoBank for its Chinese business partners at the Serena Kampala hotel on Friday.

Figures from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics indicate that Uganda recorded a trade deficit of $ 253.70m (sh 904b) in August of 2015.

However, Maoming said with strong economic ties between Uganda and China, and increasing Chinese investment in the production, Banking and infrastructure sectors in the country: “This will most likely be leveled in time.”

He said Chinese trade investment in the country is currently worth more than $ 800m (sh 2.852trillion), creating employment opportunities for more than 35,000 Ugandans.

According to officials from the Chinese embassy, there are more than 45 Chinese companies with niches in infrastructure development.

The EcoBank managing director, Clement Dodoo said the bank has already positioned itself to support Chinese investment in the country by setting up a special desk to handle Chinese business.

“We realised in 2012 that Chinese investments in Uganda will be increasing so we formed alliances with some banks in Beijing, and also set up a Chinese department here to coordinate business,” he said.



ISIS is sending a message with Russian plane crash in Sinai, experts say

17 November 2015

By: Omar Halawa

Experts believe that the Russian plane that crashed over Sinai last month, now believed by the Kremlin to have been a terrorist attack, represents a message by ISIS regarding its capability to commit terrorist acts all over the world.

Aly Bakr, an expert on Islamist movements, told Ahram Online that the terrorist group responsible for downing the Russian flight and killing all 224 on board was targeting Russia over the country’s strikes against Islamist militants in Syria. The Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, which is affiliated with ISIS, has claimed responsibility for downing the flight.

Bakr says that the attack is a statement by the group that it has the means to strike at Russia, the US and European countries.

“In two weeks we got two terrorist operations in two touristic spots; Paris and Sinai,” Bakr said. “This is a direct message that ISIS is capable of committing large-scale terrorist acts in a short period of time.”

Bakr says that what gives ISIS the ability to undertake such operations is that many of its members have Arab, Russian and European passports, either legitimate or forged, making it easy for them to move across borders.

Nageh Ibrahim, an expert on terrorist movements and an ex-Jihadist, says that downing the Russian flight over Sinai was not only a strike against Russia, but also against Egypt. Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis has been waging an intensified insurgency against the Egyptian army in Sinai since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

The Kremlin said on Tuesday that the Russian flight did indeed crash because of a bomb, although this has not been confirmed by the Egyptian authorities heading the investigation into the crash. Russia is intensifying its attacks against militants in Syria in response to the attack.

(Source: Ahram Online)


Mali hotel attack: Probe into jihadist siege continues

24 November 2015

French and UN investigators joined a Mali police probe into a jihadist siege at a luxury hotel that left at least 20 dead, as flags were lowered on Monday for three days of mourning.

Security was tightened at hotels in the capital, Bamako, while neighbouring nations Senegal, Mauritania and Guinea joined in the three days of mourning over Friday’s bloodshed.

Benin’s president Thomas Yayi Boni said after visiting the Radisson Blu hotel, where the killings took place, that the “odious attack” was aimed at “frightening off international investors”.

The assault began on Friday morning when gunmen went on the rampage at the hotel, shooting in the corridors and taking 170 guests and staff hostage before Malian and international troops stormed the building.

Prosecutor Boubacar Sidiki Samake, who is in charge of the anti-terrorist probe, said late on Monday that the toll had climbed from 19 to 20 dead, with nine people injured.

The two gunmen were also killed in the attack, he said on Malian public television.

Suitcase with grenades

The UN peacekeeping force in Mali (MINUSMA), which is helping with the inquiry, gave the same toll.

The hotel was popular with businessmen, diplomats and other expatriates and many foreigners were among those killed, including six Russians, three Chinese, two Belgians, an American, an Israeli and a Senegalese national.

The attack has been claimed by two separate jihadist groups and investigators are searching for possible accomplices.

Samake said the investigation was advancing.

“It is clear that they had accomplices who helped them come to the hotel,” he said about the gunmen, adding that police had staged several raids on homes.

The police found a suitcase with grenades in the hotel lobby and were following up “several leads” linked to “objects” left by the gunmen, a Malian police source told AFP.

‘Gunmen spoke English’

The Al-Murabitoun group, an al-Qaeda affiliate led by notorious one-eyed Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The group said on Sunday there were only two attackers and suggested they were Malian.

In a recording broadcast by Al-Jazeera, a spokesperson identified them as Abdelhakim al-Ansari and Moez al-Ansari, the term “al-Ansari” indicating they were indigenous jihadists.

But a jihadist group from central Mali, the Macina Liberation Front (LWF), also claimed the attack in a statement sent to AFP Sunday, saying it was carried out by a squad of five, including “three who came out safe and sound”.

Guinean singer Sekouba Bambino Diabate, who was among the survivors, told AFP the gunmen spoke English among themselves.

On Monday, national TV released photos of two dead men said to be the attackers, along with a telephone number to call to offer information.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said Belmokhtar, one of the world’s most wanted men, was “likely” the brains behind the assault.

French forensic specialists have arrived in Bamako to help with the identification of the victims.

State of emergency

Despite a state of emergency imposed late on Friday, residents of Bamako were trying to return to normal life.

Security remained high at the major hotels and was tighter than usual, though more discreet, at public buildings and banks.

“People are not being vigilant. We forget. I don’t know whether it’s because of the problems of daily life, but people just aren’t being careful here,” said hotel worker Daouda Sissoko.

Others are concerned that Friday’s attack will have more economic repercussions for a country still recovering from a 2012-13 civil war.

Mali has been torn apart by unrest since the north fell under the control of jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda in 2012.

The Islamists were largely ousted by a French-led military operation launched the following year, but large swathes of Mali remain lawless.

France has more than 1 000 troops in its former colony, a key battleground of the Barkhane counter-terror mission spanning five countries in Africa’s restive Sahel region.

(Source: News24)



Turkey reforestation may be a model for arid Africa – experts

17 October 2015

By: Elias Ntungwe Ngalame

Half a century ago, this stretch of land in the Anatolia region of Turkey was largely denuded of trees.

Today, the 1,200-hectare Lake Abant Nature Park is a verdant blend of fir, yellow pine, oak, chestnut, beech and hornbeam trees, replanted with community labour and using dams like the Kurtboğaz to capture water for irrigation and ensure a supply throughout the year.

‘’We use roots of trees instead of stones to create solid walls to channel water into the dam to prevent any overflow during floods,” said Ersan Kabakci, a forest expert in Turkey’s Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs.

Today three dams linked with the lake capture fresh water for drinking and supply water to 13 villages and 4,000 hectares of farm fields, Kabakci said – and the park has become a tourist draw.

Better yet, the reforestation project “has strengthened the adaptive capacity of the local communities to the effects of climate change,’’ he said.

Turkey’s government says reforesting once denuded areas in Turkey such as Lake Abant have helped stem desertification, improve water supplies, build tourist attractions and support local communities, including in their efforts to deal with climate change.

Increasingly, local people are taking part in decision-making and planning process in forest management, government officials say.

‘’The local people now consult with the government in the use of forest resources like grazing animals and collecting NWFP (non-wood forest products). There is an accepted participatory forest management approach with local councils benefiting from revenues from protected areas like parks,’’ Kabakci said.

In the last 12 years, the country has planted almost 3 billion trees. Each year, an additional 250 million trees are planted, said Veysel Eroglu, Turkey’s Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs.

“As a result of good practices, forestland in Turkey has been increased by 900,000 hectares. Over 4.2 million hectares of degraded land has been rehabilitated or turned into arable land by 2014,” he said.

Since the 1970s, the rate of soil losses has fallen by nearly two thirds, said Kabakci, a change largely attributable to replanting of forests.

By 2050, “forests are envisioned to stretch across over four-fifths of the country’s territory,” said Turkish minister Eroglu at this week’s meeting of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), held in Ankara.

Model for Africa?

Monique Barbut, the UNCCD executive secretary, said Turkey’s reforestation suggests what might be possible in other dry regions of the world.

“I think the Turkish example has shown the world, especially desert-prone regions like the Sahel region in Africa, that the restoration of even a severely degraded world is possible,” she said.

“It has also shown that the role of government in creating the right policy incentives is cardinal and also that it is time we start thinking outside our traditional boxes regarding land stewardship – how we value, manage and invest in it,” she said.

Around the world, experts at the conference said, desertification and strengthening climate change impacts are causing widespread loss of arable land, as well as growing displacement and hunger problems in some regions. Such problems may play a role in aggravating conflicts, they said.

“For over 15 years Sudan has been in conflict because of poverty caused by arid land,” suggested Mohamed Elfadl, originally from Sudan and now teaching at the University of Helsinki, “I think the Turkish example can help the situation in Sudan,’’ he said.

At the conference, Turkey pledged $5 million to African countries to help combat desertification, a contribution Eroglu said he hoped would be the start of a new international fund for work on curbing desertification.

Farmers around Lake Abant said community reforestation efforts there and improved access to irrigation water have reshaped their efforts to improve food security.

“I plant beans and maize around the project area, thanks to the supply of water from the dam,” said one 58-year-old farmer. “Before the dam, I could cultivate only two acres of land but today I have over 30 acres,” he said.

(Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation)


Africa is in grave danger from economic slowdown [Commentary]

25 October 2015

By: Roger Bootle

Governance is essential for full economic development, and Africa’s potential is currently being thwarted, writes Roger Bootle

Nowhere in the world is more at risk from the combination of Chinese economic slowdown, low commodity prices and imminent rises in US interest rates, than Africa. There is now a serious question over whether many African economies can achieve rapid growth in the years ahead or whether they are due to sink back into mediocre performance, thereby condemning their people to a continued low standard of living.

The fact that this question now needs to be asked may come as a shock. Not long ago Africa was growing very strongly. Indeed, many good judges saw it as due to repeat the sort of economic take-off accomplished by several countries in east Asia a few decades previously.

Yet, whereas five years ago the sub-Saharan African (SSA) growth rate was almost 7pc, last year it was down to less than 5pc. Moreover, it looks as though this year’s performance will be even weaker, with growth dropping to 3pc. Nor is there any real prospect of a return to previous rapid growth rates. There is a suspicion in the minds of many investors that Africa’s recent growth surge was really just the outcome of the commodity boom. Accordingly, if we are in for a long period of commodity prices at about this level, then African growth prospects are pretty poor.

“There is a suspicion in the minds of many investors that Africa’s recent growth surge was really just the outcome of the commodity boom.”

Admittedly, there is considerable variation across countries. The worst hit are Nigeria, Zambia and Angola. The major economy that is doing best is Kenya. Meanwhile, SSA’s most developed economy, and the destination for much overseas investment, namely South Africa – where I was last week – seems to be mired in a phase of decidedly slow growth. This year it might manage 1.5pc. But its medium-term prospects are pretty poor; its potential growth rate might only be 2pc. When you adjust for population growth, its potential growth of per capita GDP may only be 1.2pc per annum, which is pretty paltry compared to China – even after the recent slowdown.

China’s importance to Africa is great – especially for South Africa, Angola, Congo and Zambia. But it can be exaggerated. Exports to China represent about 10pc of South Africa’s GDP. That is substantially lower than the UK’s exposure to the EU.

In fact, China is Africa’s second largest export market. The largest is the EU, and by a considerable margin. Africa exports about 50pc more to the EU than it does to China. Accordingly, perhaps the most important factor bearing upon Africa’s economic future is what is going to happen to the euro-zone.

But China is also important to Africa as an example of what can be achieved. It is widely believed that China’s phenomenal growth rate represented some sort of miracle. In fact, it was more like the norm for East Asian countries starting at a low level of development. China repeated the pattern set earlier by Japan, Korea and Taiwan. When a country is very poor and underdeveloped, it has the scope to grow fast simply by catching up with the leaders.

Even so, where a country is on the development ladder is not the only determinant of its growth rate. A country may be poor to start with and remain poor. If it does not invest, if its workforce remains poorly educated, if markets are not allowed to function properly, and if government is corrupt and inefficient, then the likelihood is that economic growth will be slow. Unfortunately, these conditions have applied in many African economies. Bearing in mind how poor they have been – and therefore the considerable scope for catch-up growth – their realised growth rates have been disappointingly low. Interestingly, that was also the case for China before the radical programme of reforms and marketisation began in 1979.

One element of poor governance in Africa has been the mismanagement of the public finances. Most African countries ran substantial fiscal deficits when their economies were growing strongly and the revenues from high commodity prices were pouring in. If that was the case then, you can imagine the problems that they are in with commodity prices now much lower. Borrowing levels have soared, notably in Nigeria, Angola and Zambia. As a result, in several countries, especially in Nigeria, the government is embarking upon a programme of substantial fiscal tightening, which is going to restrict the growth of demand.

Another complicating factor is the growth of population. In most African countries the population has been growing very rapidly. Moreover, it is set to continue to do so in the decades ahead. The UN forecasts that whereas the African working age population is currently about 500 million people, by 2050, it will reach about 1.3 billion, comfortably in excess of India and China.

In one sense, this is good news. It will mean that the overall size of African economies will grow faster, other things equal, simply because there are more workers. But it also means that the overall GDP figures will be a misleading guide to the growth of GDP per head. And that is the ultimate foundation for standards of living and economic development.

As if the Chinese slowdown and low commodity prices were not enough to be getting on with, Africa also has to face imminent rises in US interest rates which are likely to force its central banks to raise interest rates also, or face a substantial withdrawal of international capital. Moreover, in most African countries, the current account of the balance of payments is in worse shape than it has been in previous Fed tightenings. That said, most African countries’ external debt is much lower as a share of GDP than it was in those previous tightening phases.

Whatever else happens, the golden constellation of factors which sustained African economies over the last few years – rapid Chinese growth, high commodity prices, and very low international interest rates – will not be repeated.

In sum, African growth this year is likely to be the weakest this century. Although it should recover a bit in the next couple of years, it is likely to remain low by recent standards. As to the long-term, if fundamental reforms are carried out and governments improve their act then the potential is great. But potential alone is not enough. You only have to look at Argentina or Russia to see that. In the end, natural resource wealth does not get you very far. It may even be a curse. At bottom, what really matters for economic development is governance.

Roger Bootle is executive chairman of Capital Economics.

(Source: The Telegraph)


South Africa: attacks on migrants show failure tos tem racial tension

9 November 2015

By: Simon Allison

Rumours of ‘Arab man’ committing murders led to destruction of foreign national-owned shops in Grahamstown

An outbreak of violence against foreign nationals in South Africa has highlighted the government’s failure to get to grips with xenophobia, amid worries that there is more violence to come.

It started, as these things so often do, with a rumour. An “Arab man with a beard” was said to be responsible for a string of murders and mutilations in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. It ended with violence and fire and destruction, and an unmistakeable message to foreigners: you are no longer welcome here.

Grahamstown is a quaint, quiet university town, largely unremarkable except for the density of its churches and for the fact its faultlines are so obvious and so often mirror South Africa’s as a whole.

The country’s racial tensions are obvious in Grahamstown’s town planning, where most white people still live in pleasant houses with large gardens, and most black people in the huge neighbouring township with few streetlights and little in the way of running water. Its absurd wealth inequalities are embodied by the distance of a few streets between the professors dining in fancy restaurants and the desperately poor sex workers servicing truck drivers for a few coins.

Now Grahamstown is exposing yet another of South Africa’s dirty secrets, in the way a community turned – brutally and without warning – on the foreign nationals working in its midst, incited by the alleged foreignness of the murder suspect.

A little over two weeks ago, on a Wednesday, a protest by taxi drivers for better roads morphed into a looting spree in which more than 300 shops were targeted, and some burned to the ground.

The shops were owned by Bangladeshis, Chinese, Egyptians, Ethiopians, Malawians, Senegalese, Somalis, Zimbabweans: the nationality didn’t seem to matter, as long as it was not South African. According to some of the victims, police stood by and watched while their goods – often representing their entire livelihood – were carried away.

“What has become of Grahamstown? How can you do this to other human beings? I am so disappointed in the community. Some of the people looting were people we see every day. How must we feel? How would you feel?” said Jacqueline Khokam, the wife of a Bangladeshi shop owner.

South Africa is no stranger to sudden waves of violence against foreigners. Since 2008, an estimated 300 foreign nationals have been killed in xenophobic attacks, with thousands more displaced.

The most recent national outbreak was in April this year. The attacks began shortly after the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, a hugely influential figure, told foreigners to go home in a speech. “Let’s take out the ants and leave them out in the sun. We ask that immigrants must pack their bags and go back to where they came from,” he said.

Within days, foreigners in the province of KwaZulu-Natal had been assaulted and foreign-owned shops looted or burned down. The violence soon spread to other parts of the country, echoing the even bloodier xenophobic violence of 2008, in which 62 people died. Temporary refugee camps were set up to provide food, shelter and basic healthcare to those foreigners directly affected, or those too scared to remain in hostile communities.

By the end of April, when the situation was finally brought under control, the death toll stood at seven, with thousands more displaced. The good news is that number has not risen since. The bad news is that few outside of government think enough has been done to prevent another bloodletting.

The government’s response may have made things worse. Operation Fiela (clean sweep) is a major joint police and army operation designed to target criminality, but has been criticised by rights groups for targeting refugees and asylum seekers instead. Patricia Erasmus, the manager of the migrant rights’ programme at Lawyers for Human Rights, says it has documented a number of cases of foreign nationals being rounded up in pre-dawn raids, denied access to legal representation, or deported without due process.

Erasmus said: “We are of the opinion that the use of the army, midnight raids, excessive force, not allowing people legal representation, not allowing them to access permits and passports, all add to a picture that this is state-sponsored xenophobia.”

In South Africa, these heavy-handed tactics echo another dark chapter in the country’s history. “Needless to say, while the black majority were the targets and scapegoats during apartheid, foreigners seem to have inherited this role under the current ANC government,” said Angela Mudukuti, a criminal law specialist in a column in the Star.

The government rejects these interpretations, arguing that Operation Fiela has been a success. It recognises, however, there is still plenty of work to be done. “Some of the issues are not issues that can be resolved over one month,” said Phumla Williams, the spokeswoman for the cabinet taskforce established to tackle xenophobia, adding that the violence against foreigners should also be understood in the context of South Africa’s violent political culture.

Williams said: “We are also dealing with social cohesion issues …this violence happens quite often. When people are unhappy, when there’s no water or the sewage system has not been serviced, they resort to violence.”

A new short film published by the Guardian explores South Africa’s attitude to foreigners through the eyes of the asylum seekers who have experienced it.

“Which kind of life is this one?” asks Emile Kilozo in the documentary. Kilozo is a refugee from Burundi who has spent the last 13 years in South Africa. “You work hard. After five years, you make money. They come and they beat you. If you are lucky, they won’t kill you.”

The director, Andy Spitz, said the film aimed to make viewers rethink their attitudes towards refugees. “We wanted the person watching the film to understand and experience who the refugees are, what brought some of the migrants to South Africa, what they’ve left behind and what they’ve fled from,” she said.

Erasmus said the film had come at a good moment. “If there’s a silver lining to Europe’s migrant crisis, we’ve noticed a definite shift in the way refugees are portrayed in the media. Before, media organisations were using words like ‘tide’ and ‘swarm’, but now the tone is much more sympathetic. The time is right to engage in conversations with South Africans about this,” she said.

(Source: The Guardian)


West Africa conference focuses on threat posed by jihadists

9 November 2015

By: Baba Ahmed

Islamic extremists are expanding their reach in West Africa, using porous borders and exploiting political chaos to further their attacks, security experts said Monday at the opening of a regional conference on the jihadist threat.

Some 800 security officials and analysts from across the region are taking part in the two-day conference to develop strategies for a coordinated response to the attacks that have mounted this year far beyond Boko Haram’s base in northeastern Nigeria.

“I think the main characteristic of the threat today is that this is a threat that knows no boundaries,” said Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, African Union special envoy in the fight against terrorism.

As the conference took place, a female teenage suicide bomber in a town along the Cameroonian-Nigerian border targeted a mosque during afternoon prayers. At least four people were killed and dozens were wounded in Fotokol, according to regional Gov. Midjiyawa Bakari.

It also comes after Senegalese authorities announced Saturday that several imams have been arrested and accused of supporting Boko Haram. While the extremist group has been attacking neighboring countries the recently announced arrests are the first suggesting a Boko Haram threat in Senegal, a mostly moderate Muslim nation.

Boko Haram’s six-year-old uprising has left an estimated 20,000 people dead, according to Amnesty International. This year militants from the group have stepped up their attack across the Lake Chad region where the borders of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon meet.

“The porous borders between our countries are an advantage for our enemy,” Nigerian Gen. Mohammed Babagana Monguno said.

Over the weekend, two girls wearing suicide vests detonated their explosives in Chad in a community along Lake Chad killing several people, according to national television.

“From now on, what we need to focus on is how to establish a new model of governance that does not create the frustration that fuels these armed groups,” said Laurent Bigot, a regional analyst and former French diplomat. “Terrorism is not a cause, it is a consequence.”

(Source: ABC News)


UN cites improvements in Somalia, looks ahead to 2016

9 November 2015

By: Margaret Besheer and Megan Duzor

The United Nations’ top diplomat in Somalia, Nicholas Kay, says the country is steadily transforming from a failed state to a recovering one, as he addressed a special session of the U.N. Security Council on Somalia.

In his final briefing to the Council after more than two years as the U.N.’s envoy in Somalia, Kay told the council that the transformation in Somalia is “well advanced” and said the country is moving away from the chaos that it has experienced for more two decades.

“At last, Somalia is facing the problems of a country coming together rather than falling apart,” Kay said.

While Kay highlighted some of the successes the country has seen in recent years, he said that next year will be a decisive year on several fronts.

He said elections in 2016 will be a test of the country’s ability to keep improving and said the vote must be conducted on time and be more inclusive than 2012’s vote.

Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told VOA in July that it is likely his government will not hold popular, direct, elections next year, due to continuing insecurity in the country. He said that “one person, one vote” elections will not be possible under the current circumstances. However, he said “there are different phases and different models for elections, and we are aiming for the next best option, but we have not yet agreed on a format to transition in 2016.”

Several options for elections have been circulated by Somali researchers and think tanks, including an indirect poll where selected voters pick parliament members who will then vote for a president.

While Somalia’s security situation has improved in recent years, the government is still battling al-Shabab militants, who despite being pushed into the countryside carry out frequent attacks, often targeting government officials and African Union troops. In recent months, the militants have blown up several Mogadishu hotels, detonated a bomb on the grounds of Somalia’s presidential palace, and overrun several African Union peacekeepers’ bases in Somalia.

On the list of achievements in Somalia, Kay cited the government’s work on organizing the country’s numerous regions into states. He said the work is slowly progressing and urged a “swift conclusion” to that process.

The envoy also noted that no major commercial ship has been seized by pirates off Somalia’s coast for more than three years. At the height of crisis, Somali pirates were attacking dozens of ships each month and receiving multi-million dollar ransoms to release hijacked vessels and their crews.

(Source: Voice of America)


Where’s the growth? Africa [Op-Ed]

10 November 2015

By: Matthew A. Winkler

Here’s a nice way to stump your companions: Ask them what part of the world has had the fastest economic growth over the last 10 years. And whose governments and countries have enjoyed the greatest investment returns among the world’s emerging markets.

Did anybody say sub-Saharan Africa? Buy her a drink!

During the past 10 years, the gross domestic product of the 11 largest sub-Saharan countries increased 51 percent, more than twice the world’s 23 percent and almost four times the 13 percent expansion of the U.S., the largest economy, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The robust expansion been accompanied by stabilizing inflation on the African continent, with the consumer price index for all of Africa declining to 7.8 percent from more than 13 percent in 2008, and the continent’s CPI remaining less than 8 percent since 2013, Bloomberg data show.

That combination of torrid growth and diminished inflation is proving an irresistible lure for global investors, who have seen the opposite trends plague the biggest emerging-market countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China.

For evidence of investor enthusiasm, look no further than Kenya and Nigeria, whose government debt has been outperforming most of the world’s. In the past five years, bonds issued by those two countries had total returns (income plus appreciation in local currencies converted to U.S. dollars) of 56 percent and 40 percent respectively, according to Bloomberg data. By comparison, the index of government debt of developed countries provided a dollar-equivalent return of 2 percent during the past five years, and a similar basket of emerging-market debt returned 12 percent.

When the benchmark government bonds of 32 countries in the emerging markets are compared since 2010, Kenya and Nigeria are among the top five, Bloomberg data show.

Among the bottom performers: Russia lost 36 percent, Brazil lost 29 percent, Colombia lost 26 percent and Turkey lost 23 percent. South Africa is the only big loser among the sub-Saharan countries, mostly because its currency, the rand, declined 51 percent.

Part of Africa’s expansion can be explained by its explosive population growth. Since 2000, the population of the 11 largest sub-Saharan countries, measured by GDP, grew 41 percent, to 634 million, or more than twice the U.S.’s 318 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. During the same period, India grew 23 percent, the world 18 percent, the U.S. 13 percent and China 7 percent.

That demographic trend won’t abate soon simply because sub-Sarahan Africans are so young. In Nigeria, for example, 43.7 percent of the population is under 15 years old. In Kenya, it’s 42.1 percent; in Ghana, 35.3 percent; and South Africa, 28.3 percent. The world average is 25.8 percent. The percentage of Nigerians older than 65 is 3 percent, compared to 14.5 percent for in the U.S. and 8.3 percent for the world, according to Bloomberg data.

Thus global investors are focused on the region’s new consumers, who have helped the five major industries there outperform their peers in emerging markets since June 2014, when oil began a 58 percent plunge. The sub-Saharan financial industry outperformed its emerging-market counterpart by 11 percent; consumer discretionary companies did so by 18 percent; consumer staples by 5 percent and materials by 16 percent. Only energy companies were losers, underperforming by 0.5 percent.

The sub-Saharan companies include 200 firms in the seven major stock exchanges with a minimum market capitalization of $200 million: South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, Ghana and Malawi. Their market capitalization is now $533 billion, greater than Brazil’s $505 billion and less than Italy’s $637 billion. Technology stocks returned the most with 10 percent, followed by communications and consumer discretionary companies, most of which are based in South Africa, the country with the best-performing companies since June 2014.

And while the value of its currency and debt have deteriorated since 2011, South Africa’s GDP of $328 billion is 28 percent greater than it was 10 years ago, when it was equivalent to Denmark and Greece. While Denmark expanded 1.4 percent since 2005 and the Greece contracted 18 percent, South Africa today is a much bigger economy.

Still not convinced? OK, look at Nigeria. Oil accounts for 90 percent of its worldwide trade and almost 35 percentof its GDP, and crude oil prices have famously crashed. The currency, the naira, has failed to recover from its own collapse late last year. Yet global investors, convinced there’s a lot more to Nigeria than its commodities, are driving up its bond prices anyway.

It seems the same could be said of half a continent.

(Source: Bloomberg)


Three things we learned from the EU Africa Summit

13 November 2015

Schengen at risk

The EU’s passport-free travel zone, known as Schengen, could break up, according to European Council President Donald Tusk.

“Saving Schengen is a race against time,” Tusk told reporters in Valletta on Thursday. “And we are determined to win that race.”

“Without effective control of our external borders, Schengen will not survive. We must hurry, but without panic.”

His comments came after Sweden re-introduced border checks, the fourth country from the zone to do so.

Slovenia Austria and Germany have taken similar measures, whilst Slovenia and Hungary have erected border forces to stem the flow of people entering their territory. France has reintroduced temporary checks which it says are linked to an international climate change summit in Paris this month.

The agreement, named after the town in Luxembourg where it was signed, allows free movement without any border checks between a total of 26 countries: 22 EU members and four non-EU states.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania are not yet members; the UK and Ireland have opted out.

Pro-EU politicians say the deal is one of the greatest achievements of European integration.

But critics on both the left and the right complain that it leaves countries open to security threats and encourages illegal immigration.

Once inside the Schengen zone, non-EU nationals also benefit from passport-free travel.

EU law allows Schengen countries can re-introduce border controls if it faces a “serious threat to public or internal security.”

Sweden says it can no longer cope with the influx because it has run out of temporary accommodation to house the migrants.

Amid those practical concerns, there are political considerations too. The anti-immigrant Swedish Democrats are now the third biggest party in the country’s parliament.

Merkel remains isolated

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is isolated at home and in Europe over her “Refugees Welcome” policy.

More than 700,00 have arrived since the start of the year; the German government expects more than one million to arrive by the end of 2015.

She has been openly criticized by two senior members of her cabinet: German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble and Interior Minister Thomas De Maziere.

And Merkel has made little progress in convincing her European allies to share the burden.

A European Commission proposal to relocate 160,000 migrants across the continent has seen just over 140 moved.

The Chancellor will raise the issue of migration at this weekend’s G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, and again a muted EU-Turkey summit, which EU officials say will be held before the end of November.

Germany, like many other European countries, has an aging population. Immigrant workers could help pay the pensions and healthcare of tomorrow.

But with two senior members of her government criticizing her stance, and public opinion turning on the refugee issue, Merkel needs to strike a deal with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan so that Turkey intercepts and hosts more migrants.

It will be a hard sell. The UN Refugee Agency estimates there will be over 1.8 million refugees, most of them Syrian, living on Turkish soil by the end of the year.

Expectations gap

African leaders came to Malta seeking a deal that would create more legal routes of migration for their citizens.

What they got was pressure from Europe to take back failed asylum seekers and a 1.8-billion-euro trust fund financed by EU money. The European Commission wants EU member states to match that contribution.

But pledges fell short. Just 24 countries offered more than 70 million euros Officials said the fund would be used for development spending to address “the root causes of migration” such as nutrition, job creation and climate change.

Senegalese President Macky Sall told reporters that the money “was not enough for the whole of Africa.”

Recent history is littered with promises and pledges by the international community to address poverty and economic instability in Africa. This is a long-term project which won’t provide an instant solutions for EU leaders now.

If Europe continues to offer wealthier, more open and more peaceful societies, it is hard to see how leaders on either continent can discourage people from leaving.

(Source: Euronews)


Guinea’s last Ebola patient recovers in Conakry

17 November 2015

The last known Ebola patient in Guinea, a 21-day-old baby girl, has recovered at a treatment centre in the capital, Conakry, health officials say.

A spokesman for Guinea’s Ebola co-ordination unit said two tests on the baby had been negative.

Guinea will be declared officially free of Ebola if no new cases are reported in the next six weeks.

The epidemic, which began in Guinea, has killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa.

Neighbouring Sierra Leone and Liberia have already been declared Ebola-free.

The baby has twice tested negative, but will remain under special observation at a centre run by Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) as she was born the day her infected mother died.

The BBC’s West Africa reporter Thomas Fessy says MSF is anxious to monitor her as if she does survive, she will be the first baby born to a mother who has died of Ebola to live beyond several days.

Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization earlier this month after 42 days without a single declared case.

Liberia was declared free of the disease in September.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa was first reported in March 2014.

(Source: BBC)


Cyber-crime is Africa’s ‘next big threat,’ experts warn

17 November 2015

By: Tomi Oladipo

Government and commercial online services could become the next frontier for illegal activity in Africa, security experts are warning.

As more people get access to the internet across Africa, governments and businesses are increasing their online presence but there are questions about how secure these websites are.

The email scam using a message from someone pretending to be a relative of a dead African leader asking for bank details is well known, but now tactics have changed.

Today’s cyber-criminals do not need users’ approval or awareness to access valuable data, which could lead to the theft of a large amount of money.

For example, a recent cybersecurity report on Kenya says businesses are losing about $146m (£96m) every year to cyber-crime.

Kenyan cybersecurity analyst Freddy (not his real name) showed me how the average Kenyan website lacks adequate protection.

Working on a dummy site with a typical level of security, he showed me how it was possible to hack into it.

“This will take me about 15 minutes,” he said as he typed away, writing code.

As predicted, in just a quarter of an hour, he had full access to the database and was able to change the administrator password and upload his own material.

Freddy is one of the good hackers who advises companies and defends them from attacks rather than exploits the problems, but he feels the response to the online risks is inadequate.

This situation is replicated across the continent.

South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper reported that hackers launched 6,000 cyber-attacks against South African infrastructure, internet service providers (ISPs) and businesses in October alone.

Bright Mawudor, a Ghanaian cybersecurity expert at Pukyong National University in South Korea, says that most African banks, government agencies and ISPs, in the face of competition, prioritise what their website can do and how fast new features can be released to the public.

Security is an afterthought, he argues.

“These websites are usually outsourced to software development companies who get pressured to deliver quickly,” he says.

“Something that should take about a month has to be delivered in a week and is thus sub-standard. They always make a mistake and the hacker just has to find one.”

Government website threat

Rather than creating their own systems from scratch, there is a tendency to take a shortcut and use existing popular templates, which Mr Mawudor says can easily be breached.

He says he knows of several African governments that use these for their websites that can contain sensitive information including individuals’ personal details, which can be used for identity theft.

According to the recent Kenyan cybersecurity report, most African-based businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, are unable to withstand cyber-attacks.

“If there was the threat of a physical attack you would see a lot of fences and guards,” says William Makatiani of Serianu Limited which was behind the report.

“Unfortunately with cyber-attacks, very few people can detect them and you can go for up to a year without knowing you’ve been attacked.”

At the Serianu offices in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, big screens show world maps with yellow spots appearing in different countries representing cyber-attacks happening in real time.

As these continue, Mr Makatiani suggests the main reason some companies are waking up to the threat is because they are losing money, but he says they are only disclosing these incidents discreetly.

The types of crimes are also becoming more sophisticated – moving from password theft, to stealing credit card details to attacks on computer networks.

Even if the worst-affected businesses like banks and insurance companies improved their security, the ISPs are accused of not doing enough to create sufficient security for the small businesses they serve.

South Africa recently opened a virtual cybersecurity hub in its capital, Pretoria, to help business, government and civil society work together on responses to these incidents.

Research firm Columinate suggests that South Africa is one of the world’s cybercrime hotspots.

State Security Minister David Mahlobo pointed out that for the country to be adequately protected, there needs to be more awareness of the threats.

Challenging hackers

This situation is mirrored across the continent and has led Mr Mawudor to help found Africahackon, a forum bringing together cyber-security experts, from university to corporate level, to discuss how to take the initiative on these issues, rather than wait for the security gaps to be exploited.

The group works with a lot of young people with newly-acquired computer skills who might otherwise be tempted to use them for illegal activity online.

“You can never stop cyber-attacks but you can employ the best practices to curb them,” says Mr Mawudor.

“This will be a process over time and not a one-day event.”

(Source: BBC)


Is this nation on the verge of a Rwanda-style genocide?

17 November 2015

By: Justin Lynch

When Lt Gen. Romeo Dallaire was informed he was leading a United Nations peacekeeping force to Rwanda in 1993, he replied, according to his memoir, “Rwanda, that’s somewhere in Africa, isn’t it?”

The peacekeeping force that Dallaire lead was hamstrung by its lack of resources and political will from Western nations. Roughly 800,000 people were killed in 100 days during the Rwandan genocide.

On Friday, African leaders requested that the East African Standby Force—the regional component of a continent-wide army created out of the failure to stop the genocide in Rwanda— expedite preparations to enter Burundi. It’s the first time the force could be deployed, and would be a major test for the new paradigm of security on the continent: African solutions for African problems.

Since Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would run for a third term in April, the East African nation has been upended by a slew of politically motivated killings, and the British Ambassador to the United Nations warned last week of a “possible genocide” in the country.

At least 240 people have been killed in Burundi since April, and government officials have used the phrase “go to work”— the same inflammatory language Hutu leaders used in the run-up to the Rwandan genocide. The most recent rise in tension occurred after a senior government official was assassinated, and security forces started going door-to-door to confiscate weapons.

In the capital, Bujumbura, residents on Monday described sporadic gunfire near the town center.

“People who are being killed are killed for political reasons. They are targeted according to their political parties. Otherwise if you are politically neutral you are safe everywhere” said a Burundian who wished to remain anonymous.

While the conflict appears to be between supporters and opponents of Nkurunziza, experts worry that it could evolve into a conflict based around ethnic affiliation.

“Even the internal violence is not at the point of ’94, ’95, ’96, its not even at the same level as elections in 2010” said Steve McDonald, a Public Policy Scholar at the Wilson Center. “If it did devolve into an ethnic driven confrontation in Burundi, it could go wider. [Rwandan President Paul] Kagame is playing a really dangerous role on his part in terms of supporting some ethnic—that is Tutsi of course—elements (In Burundi), and also with how sensitive things are in the Congo.”

After ethnic tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi population boiled over and resulted in one of the worst humanitarian disasters of the 20th century in Rwanda, African leaders said they would not let it happen again. They would never again wait on Western countries to solve conflicts on their continent if they could help it, and leaders created the African Union to build political cohesion, and the African Standby Force to prevent another atrocity.

It is perhaps a cruel historical test that the force could be first deployed in Burundi. The ethnic composition and history of Rwanda and Burundi are intertwined due to a shared legacy of Belgian colonial rule. Both countries have a Hutu majority population and a Tutsi minority. If the African Standby Force is deployed, it will be because Burundi is on the verge of deteriorating into an ethnic conflict like the Rwandan genocide.

African-led forces have found success during security operations on their own continent, having been more effective than their Western counterparts during the operation in Somalia, for example. But intervention in Burundi would be like a final test for the leaders who watched Rwanda descend into chaos.

“The memories for what happened in Rwanda are there, [Burundi and Rwanda] are neighbors, and it is a similar situation, the ethnicization of this problem. But the trend seems to be that the African Union this time doesn’t want to be flat-footed as it happened in Rwanda,” said Bethwel Kiplagat, the former Kenyan Ambassador to France and the United Kingdom. “I can’t see any political obstacle, any member of that committee saying ‘No, we must not send any forces.’”

The African Standby Force is split up into five regional bodies, and in the East African division there are roughly 5,000 troops from 10 countries including Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, and Ethiopia. After six years of delay, the East African division became fully operational in December of 2014.

Speaking from the East African brigade’s headquarters in Nairobi on Friday, head of administration Col. Peter Kalimba said that the force is able to enter Burundi within 14 days. A team of African Union officials are currently in Bujumbura and will give an assessment of whether it is appropriate to deploy a peacekeeping force, which needs approval from either the African Union’s Peace and Security Council or the United Nations Security Council.

An official from the African Union said privately that the current contingency plan to intervene in Burundi would involve roughly 800 troops, and said that they would only deploy peacekeepers if the situation in Burundi devolves into an ethnic conflict.

Security experts question if the force can effectively integrate armies from different countries, and speculate whether they can truly deploy within a fortnight.

“Even if the forces are prepared, they need a lot of resources and things that have to be done to become fully operational,” said Ibrahim Gambari, the former Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs at the United Nations.

The troops that each nation contributes in all likelihood will not have previously trained together, and the command structure is unclear. The African Standby Force also has no airlift capacity, and NATO provided transportation during a previous training mission. The African Union does not have the budget to deploy the peacekeeping force, and would rely on Western financial assistance.

An internal report by the African Union conducted in 2013 found that the biggest constraint to the African Standby Force was the inability to fund its own operations.

“The AU (African Union) cannot make its own independent decisions regarding the mandate, scope, size and duration of its peace operations, as long as it is dependent on external partners to cover the cost of its peace operations,” the report said.

“If we deploy, the peace that comes will also benefit the West. We are ready to die, but we need a little help,” said Benediste Hoareau, head of political affairs of the East African Standby Force.

With the breakdown of African nations like Rwanda, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the last decade of the 20th century, a continent-wide standing army seemed critical. Yet even if an African force that aims to prevent atrocities relies on Western financing and transportation today, it is a sign that African nations are serious about securing their own continent in the future.

Speaking to military officers earlier this year in Rwanda, and more aware of the intricacies of East Africa and leading a peacekeeping force than he was when he first arrived in 1994, Dallaire said that African conflicts need African solutions according to local media.

“I think that nations have got to build the regional capability to handle security challenges of the region. I think the first priority is to build your own capacity and seek that. The Africa Standby Force has to be an effective force to be the first to transit in,” Dallaire said.

(Source: The Daily Beast)


Mali says 2 gunmen carried out hotel attack in Bamako

24 November 2015

By: Carlotta Gall

The government of Mali released photographs on Monday that it said showed the bodies of two men suspected of attacking the Radisson Blu hotel on Friday in Bamako, the capital. At least 19 people were killed in the assault.

The two men were killed when security forces stormed the building hours after the attack; they have not been identified by the authorities. Security officials showed the photographs to reporters and said the images would be posted to a government website. Anyone acquainted with the two men is urged to come forward, said Amadou Sangho, a press officer for the Security Ministry.

“The investigation is continuing, and we are trying to find out their nationalities,” Mr. Sangho said. “We want to find people who knew them, and then perhaps find accomplices.”

Though there were earlier reports of more gunmen involved in the hotel attack, Mr. Sangho said the two men in the photographs were the only attackers. Both were clean-shaven and appeared to be in their 20s. One had visible bullet wounds to his upper body.

In an audio message, a jihadist group called Al Mourabitoun said that two men, Abdul Hakim al-Ansari and Mu’adh al-Ansari, were the fighters who attacked the hotel. It was not immediately clear whether they were the men in the photographs.

The message, like an earlier recording on Friday, was sent to Al Jazeera. In the latest recording, the group refers to the attackers as “two heroes of Islam.”


Mokhtar Belmokhtar founded Al Mourabitoun in 2013 after breaking with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a regional affiliate of the terrorist group. He remained loyal to Al Qaeda’s central leadership, and earlier this year he denounced former jihadist colleagues who had defected to the Islamic State.

Mr. Sangho said on Monday that Malian special forces and police officers had sealed off the hotel and evacuated 133 people on Friday — 128 guests and five hotel employees. They were taken to a sports hall, where they were screened.

Besides the two gunmen, 18 guests and one police officer were killed in the attack, he said. Seven more people were wounded, three of them police officers. The officers were killed and wounded as they tried to flush out the gunmen, who had taken up positions on the top floor of the hotel.

The government has declared a three-day period of national mourning.

(Source: The New York Times)



Living Ottoman heritage in Cape Town

7 September 2015

The scientific legacy of Ottoman scholar Sayyid Ebubekir al Emcedi, who was assigned to teach Islamic studies and resolve religious and social problems on the Cape of Good Hope during the time of Ottoman Sultan Abdülaziz I, is still alive in the region – especially since al Emcedi’s family has lived in South Africa for more than five generations.

Ottoman scholar Sayyid Ebubekir al Emcedi went to Cape Town in 1863 at the time of Sultan Abdülaziz I and had a significant religious role in Ottoman era sub-Saharan Africa. One of his grandsons in Cape Town, Kemal Efendi, shared details about his great grandfather’s services in South Africa to Anadolu Agency (AA). Kemal Efendi said al Emcedi was sent to the region to resolve religious conflicts among Cape Malay Muslims. “P.E. De Roubaix, a parliament member in Cape Town, notified the British queen about the murder of an imam. Upon the queen’s suggestion, Ottoman Sultan Abdülaziz I sent al Efendi,” he said.
Al Emcedi wrote books on basic Islamic sciences to train the public. He also established the first Islamic school for girls in Cape Town, called the Ottoman Theology School.

Efendi said al Emcedi was not merely sent to South Africa as a religious scholar but to assist the local administration with political and religious affairs. The main reason was to avoid unjust judgment of Muslims on religious subjects, Efendi continued. Al Emcedi realized that the lack of proper education turned a peaceful religious environment into a conflict zone. Efendi said his great grandfather first established an Ottoman school in the region. Al Emcedi wrote books on basic Islamic sciences to train the public. He also established the first Islamic school for girls in Cape Town called the Ottoman Theology School. “After he opened mosques in Cape Town, Kimberly, Durban and Port Elizabeth, he continued his services in Mauritius and Mozambique,” Efendi said.

Gökşen Efendi, another great grandchild of al Emcedi, heard many things about him since his childhood, and said he is proud to be a part of this Ottoman heritage in Africa.

Al Emcedi translated “Beyanü’d-Din,” an “ilmihal” (reference book on Islam), from Afrikaans to Ottoman language. The book was then published in Istanbul in both Arabic and Afrikaans. Speaking to AA, Assistant Professor Selim Argun of Istanbul University’s Department of Islamic History and Art said alongside its linguistic success, the book was the first religious texts written in Afrikaans. Moreover, Dutch anthropologist and historian Martin van Bruinessen said the book is one of the early texts in Afrikaans, one of the youngest languages in the world. Argun said al Emcedi restored the self-confidence of Muslims, who lost their hope due to colonialist policies, and helped them gain an Islamic identity. “Al Emcedi started a restoration and recovery movement,” Argun said, adding that this movement was against 19th century imperialism. “Al Emcedi left an unprecedented and permanent heritage in Africa,” he said. Argun stressed that he opened schools with James Cook’s niece, Tahire Cook, where children were introduced to the main principles of Islam. He further noted that Cape Malay Muslims adapted themselves to the Ottoman lifestyle in a short period of time, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of Istanbul. “Al Emcedi showed resistance against assimilation, violence and oppression through peaceful perspective. As an exemplary person for today’s scholars, he acted as a guide and trainer,” he said, adding that al Emcedi’s activities must be thoroughly researched.

Argun said al Emcedi was added to the almanac prepared by the South African Republic, indicating his important place in the country’s history. He said his struggle against colonialism has not yet been properly understood and needs to be evaluated within the period’s political context.

With Kurdish origins from the Hosnav tribe, al Emcedi has the honorary religious title “Sayyid,” as his father’s family is a descendant of Prophet Muhammad. At the age of 17, he settled in Erzurum from Iraq, and he was 48 when he went to South Africa. He died in 1880 and was buried in Cape Town’s oldest cemetery, Tana Baru, where the members of Cape Town’s prominent families were also buried. Al Emcedi’s house in Cape Town’s Bo Kaap neighborhood currently serves as museum. After his death, the girl’s school was altered into a mosque by his students and named Nur’ul Hamidiye. An Ottoman era cricket club also established by his students continues to operate in Cape Town today.

(Source: Daily Sabah)


“Doctors Worldwide” gives hope to Africans

23 September 2015

During this year’s Qurban celebration, doctors from the organization Doctors Worldwide are volunteering to bring health aid to specific regions in Africa.

According to Doctors Worldwide, the organization plans to reach Africa’s poorest regions during their 2015 Qurban program. The chosen regions administered by the volunteers – who have already arrived and immediately begun exminations – include Chad, Niger, Ghana, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

With the slogan of “healing through sharing,” the doctors will also sacrifice and distribute the meat contributed by charitable individuals for that purpose.

Qurban and health at the same time

The volunteer health teams began their examinations immediately upon reaching their regions.

In the village of Tesseaua, located in the Maradi region located 776 kilometers east of Nigeria’s capital of Niamey, the volunteers conducted 103 examinations for internal disease and 78 examinations in the area of children’s health and medicine.

The diseases most often identified by the doctors included malaria, diarrhea, dermatitis, gastritis, conjunctivitis, hypertension, and anemia.

Through the Qurban holiday, the doctors will continue to offer free health care services in the areas of family medicine, chidren’s diseases, and internal diseases.

The teams of doctors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have made arrangements to work with regional pharmacies in order to provide higher quality and beter organized services to the ill. The doctors conducted a stock and expiration control of the contents of the pharmacies’ specialized refrigerators.

In the dentistry clinics, the volunteers are carrying out sterlizations and screenings of patients’ dental health.

The team of doctors that will prepare the Qurban sacrifice in four separate regions of Kenya also maintain plans to carry out health services and Qurban activities in the Gambia, Chad, Uganda, and Bosnia.

This article was translated from Turkish.

(Source: TRT Türk)


The Qurban Holiday in Sudan

24 September 2015

In the town of Al-Fashir in Sudan, a number of aid groups from around the world have come together to organize a Qurban Brotherhood Meeting. The Cansuyu Assistance and Solidarity Association (Turkey), the Hope Aid Organization (Malaysia), and a number of aid organizations based in Sudan joined the meeting, where they discussed their work and exchanged their unique viewpoints.

The Governor of North Sudan, Osman Kibr – who spoke at the meeting – thanked the Turkish news organization Anadolu Agency for contributing to the promotion of Sudan, in contrast to what he said were the negtive views of Sudan portrayed by members of the media from Western and European countries.

“We are not happy with the European and American organizations that have come here because they come here for their own benefit,” Kibr said. “But the Turkish and Malaysian organizations and press members come here out of a sense of duty to Allah.”

Thanking the Turkish aid groups for coming together to provide aid to Sudan and other African countries, Kibr recorded the gathering as the “Qurban Brotherhood Meeting” because of the work being done by Muslim countries coming to provide aid to Africa.

“We have come together in Sudan to live out both the joy of Qurban and the brotherhood of Muslims.”

Cansuyu’s El-Fashir Region representative Musa Ahmet Kaya also expressed gratitude for the interest and respect that Sudan’s governance structures had shown his and other aid groups.

Offering information on his organization’s completed activities in Sudan, Kaya said:

“Across the world we conduct Qurban programs in nearly 50 countries. We are also working in Sudan as two separate teams. Distributing the Qurban meat isn’t our only goal; our goal is also to foster a consciousness of Islam and the global Muslım community (umma) among the local communities. We seek to strengthn our identities as brothers and sisters in Islam by establishing a bridge to brotherhood during the Qurban season.”

As students who decided to spend the holiday away from their families in order to help other Muslims, Kaya explained, “We came to Sudan to jion the distribution program. We have also come to live out the joy of Qurban and the brotherhood of Muslims, even leaving our families, loved ones, and country and travling thousands of kilometers to do so.”

The representative of the Malaysian aid group, Ahmed Muhammed Ibrahim, also expressed that his organization had come to Sudan to partner with Turkey to celebre the brotherhood of Muslims and the Qurban holiday with others.

This article was translated from Turkish.



Burkina Faso’s president back in charge as coup fails

24 September 2015

The president of Burkina Faso was back in charge on Sept.23 and said he would resume overseeing a transition to democracy, ending a coup by presidential guard soldiers who took him hostage last week.

Michel Kafando addressed his supporters and West African leaders who flew to the capital of the West African state to negotiate the terms of the end to the coup, in which troops under General Gilbert Diendere briefly took power.

Diendere had greeted the heads of state from Nigeria, Ghana, Benin and Niger at the airport earlier in the day, giving the impression he was still in charge. But he did not attend Kafando’s speech and later said he regretted the coup.

National elections, scheduled for Oct. 11, were meant to mark a return to democracy in Burkina Faso, a year after demonstrators toppled President Blaise Compaore as he attempted to extend his 27-year rule, but it was not clear if they would go ahead on schedule.

Kafando’s task was to guide the country to that vote, a process seen as a beacon for democratic hopes in Africa at a time when leaders from Rwanda to Congo Republic appear to be manoeuvring to scrap term limits to extend their rule.

“If ever there was a transition to be held up as an example, it is indeed ours,” Kafando said.

Supporters chanted “Presi, Presi, Presi” as he took the podium at a conference centre in the capital Ouagadougou.

“I can assure you that we are determined to carry on with the mission the Burkinabe people have entrusted us with, to build strong institutions and a real democracy,” he said, thanking the international community for condemning the coup.

The leaders from ECOWAS — the Economic Community of West African States — later met the coup leaders and transitional authorities.

While Kafando’s restoration marks the end of the coup attempt, questions remain, including how to disarm the presidential guard and whether the coup leaders will be brought to trial. Many in the country said they opposed an initial ECOWAS proposal that included amnesty for the coup leaders.

It was also unclear whether several of Compaore’s allies will now be allowed to contest the elections. Their exclusion was cited by Diendere among the main reasons for his coup.

“The putsch is over …. We have to find a way to make peace, stability …. There were victims and wounded and it’s my biggest regret,” Diendere told journalists, adding that he took responsibility.

International concern

The presence of the foreign leaders signalled international concern for Burkina Faso, an ally of the United States and France in their battle against Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda in the Sahel region.

Kafando was accompanied at the ceremony by Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida, who was held for days after soldiers stormed a cabinet meeting last Wednesday, and the head of the transitional parliament, Moumina Cheriff Sy.

Earlier in the afternoon, presidential guard soldiers maintained their positions at the national television station, but Diendere said they were all back in their barracks, as agreed in a deal overnight made with loyalist forces.

Following the deal, loyalist troops, who converged on the capital this week from bases across the country to disarm the coup leaders, were also not visible on the streets.

Hospital sources said at least 10 civilians died and 123 were injured as security forces suppressed protests against the coup. Some Ouagadougou residents said they did not want Diendere, a former intelligence chief, to be allowed to leave the country before facing justice.

Life in Ouagadougou began to return to normal following a stand-off on Sept.22 between pro- and anti-coup forces.

Shops opened and the city’s residents poured onto the streets in a rush to shop for the Sept.24 celebration of Tabaski, or Eid al-Adha, the Muslim feast of sacrifice.

“I am happy that Kafando is back in power. But nothing is resolved. We are still being held hostage by the RSP (presidential guard). I am also worried about the security situation,” said resident Idrissa Ouedraogo.

(Source: Hurriyet Daily News)


Turkish Airlines ranks ‘first in connecting Africa’ with the world

28 September 2015

Turkish Airlines (THY) ranks first in connecting Africa with the rest of the world, a senior official of Turkey’s flag carrier said on Monday.

“THY ranks first in terms of connecting Africa to the world,” Turkish Airlines Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Temel Kotil told Anadolu Agency in an interview, adding that the airline was the “most effective and active” company.

Kotil said that the number of flight destinations was raised from four to 47. At first, the airline selected destinations where 160-seater planes could fly and now it “practically” covered sub-Saharan Africa, he said.

“When we launched these flights, they did not seem to be commercial; those who know the sector claimed THY is flying for political aims,” he said.

About the company’s destination in Niger’s capital of Niamey, Kotil said that the French airline, AirFrance, launched three flights a week before THY began flying there.

“THY is flying almost every day. What happened this time? We tripled, quadrupled the flights to Niamey,” Kotil said.

He also said that the increase in African flights was helping the middle-class.

“Middle class of Africa is growing; with its 1.2 billion population, this class will make Africa a larger economy after China in 20 years,” Kotil added.

Turkish Airlines offers flights to over 250 international destinations in over 100 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and America

(Source: Daily Sabah)


An Ottoman city in Berbera

3 October 2015

By: Saim Orhan

We are in Somaliland and leave Hargeisa, heading for the city of Berbera.

There are 150 kilometers between Hargeisa and Berbera, and our trip takes us around two-and-a-half hours, which is more than this distance would normally take, but the roads are in terrible condition.

Like the city of Zeyla in Somaliland, Berbera is also an Ottoman city. We are very excited to see it, situated on the coastline.

There are around 50,000 people living in Berbera, though this number drops in the summer months, when people head for cooler spots.

One of the first people we encountered in Berbera was a man frying fish, wrapping them up in newspapers, and selling them to passers-by. He’s got lots of customers, it appears.

We see lots of people sitting in cafes and chewing “ghat” here. We also see some ghat sellers; the people of Somaliland are serious about their ghat; it is a crucial part of their lives.

Berbera is a beautiful city, with an endless coastline; the water is enticing, and the beach is sandy. You could swim year-round here if you wished. But it is also one of the hidden gems of the world. Berbera is also a busy port city. Goods are constantly being transported to and from loading docks that are bustling with trade.

You can also see fishermen returning to shore with giant catches from the bountiful waters. We spend quite some time just taking in this incredible view but when our car finally arrives, we hop in.

The Ottomans left behind many buildings in Berbera. The large mosque in the center of the city is from the Ottomans, and is called the Mecid-i Turk. It is a functioning mosque that was built between the years of 1840 and1850. The courthouse next to it was also built by the Ottomans where the city’s governor now resides.

The Ottomans arrived in these lands in 1804 and ruled for 80 years, when their reign ended in 1884. While in Berbera, we also discovered that the docks and lighthouse here were built by the Ottomans. Though the length of their reign was relatively short, the Ottomans left behind more structures in Berbera than in any other state under Ottoman rule. In fact, thanks to the Ottomans, this became a prosperous and well-developed area.

‘These are your works’

There are ethnically Turkish families living in Berbera to this day, though they have forgotten how to speak Turkish. The local people recognize the works left behind by the Ottomans and were quick to mention this when they learned we are from Turkey, telling us, “These are your works.”

One local citizen comes up to us and starts to tell us that there used to be just one small mosque before the Ottomans arrived, noting, “But then the Ottomans came and built us a beautiful large mosque. They were the leaders of all the Muslims. They [paved] the way for the Islamic world.”

Another citizen stops his car to talk to us, expressing great praise for the Ottomans and the Turks. He says, “It was the Ottomans who ruled here, and we lived then under Muslim leadership.”

Another Ottoman contribution to Berbera was a water channel built from the skirts of a local mountain all the way to the city of Berbera. The Ottomans also built a castle at the head of the channel, with the sole purpose of protecting the channel and its water.

The local valley became green and lush because of the water from the skirts of the mountain; it was filled with date trees here. For the Ottomans to bring this valuable water some 15 kilometers was a great service to the city of Berbera. After all, in these hot lands, cooling water is a great blessing, which is why local people also never forgotten this contribution by the Ottomans.

We return from our explorations to the city of Berbera; it’s a Friday, and we’re determined to make it to prayers at the Turkish mosque in the city center.

(Source: Today’s Zaman)


Militants loyal to ISIL claim suicide bombings in Nigerian capital

5 October 2015

Militants claiming loyalty to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) said they were behind suicide bombings near the Nigerian capital Abuja which killed at least 15 people, a statement on Twitter said on Oct.4.


On Oct.2, suicide bombers attacked two suburbs of Abuja.

President Muhammadu Buhari had blamed Boko Haram, which has waged a six-year campaign to carve out an Islamist state in northern Nigeria, for the Abuja attack.

But militants claiming loyalty to ISIL said they had conducted the suicide bombings, according to the statement.

The authenticity of the statement, which did not mention Boko Haram and was issued under the name Islamic State West Africa, could not be verified.

It named three suicide bombers who it said were behind the attacks, the statement said.

In May, the leader of the ISIL militant group that controls parts of Syria and Iraq accepted a pledge of allegiance from Boko Haram, according to his spokesman.

But the extent of cooperation between the two groups is not known.


ISIL, an ultra-hardline offshoot of al Qaeda, has declared a caliphate, a state governed in accordance with Islamic law, in captured territory in Iraq and Syria.


The militants have gained global notoriety for killing or kidnapping members of ethnic and religious minorities and posting videos of its members killing Arab and Western hostages.

(Source: Hurriyet Daily News)


The African breadbasket [Op-Ed]

19 October 2015

By: Paul Kagame and K.Y. Amoako

On the first World Food Day in 1945, people around the world celebrated the creation of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the launch of the first coordinated global action to combat hunger.

This year, on the 70th World Food Day, countries are mobilizing behind the Sustainable Development Goals — one of which calls for the elimination of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, together with the creation of a more resilient and sustainable food system. Can it be done?

With the world population growing rapidly (to an estimated 8.5 billion by 2030), the impact of climate change becoming increasingly apparent, and the amount of arable land dwindling, there can be no denying that achieving this goal will be a daunting challenge. But for Africa, which boasts 60 percent of the world’s arable land and climates conducive to a tremendous diversity of crops, striving to do so represents a remarkable opportunity to ensure food security for Africans (one in four is undernourished) and boost its economy by becoming a major food exporter.

Though many African economies have experienced rapid growth in recent years, the agricultural sector has remained stagnant. Indeed, African agriculture is still dominated by small-scale farmers who lack access to productivity-boosting technology, focus mainly on a narrow range of products, and remain poorly linked to markets, manufacturing, and the broader economy. Beyond undermining food security — Africa remains a major food importer — low agricultural productivity contributes to the persistence of rural poverty, even as a middle class emerges in many of Africa’s cities.

Africa can and should be the world’s breadbasket. But to realize this vision — and to do it in an environmentally sustainable way — its agricultural sector must undergo a genuine transformation that entails higher capital investment, significant crop diversification, and improved linkages to burgeoning urban consumer markets. Moreover, Africa must start manufacturing more value-added food products for both internal consumption and export, especially to countries like India and China, where demand is growing.

From Europe and North America to East Asia and Latin America, agricultural advances have proved to be key precursors of industrial development and gains in living standards. Africa has the added benefit of technologies that other regions lacked at this stage of their agricultural development, from cost-competitive off-grid solar power to mechanisms for mapping soil characteristics, regulating water use, and ensuring farmers’ access to accurate price information.

And innovation is already happening. Rwanda, for example, is working to link agriculture support with broader services like electricity and education. And the country’s farming communities are pioneering participatory decision-making structures for agricultural planning and conflict-resolution mechanisms to settle disputes among growers.

To bolster agricultural innovation and modernization, governments must ensure that farmers have secure titles to their land, and thus an incentive to make the needed investments. The challenge lies in the fact that, in many parts of Africa, land is communally owned, with almost everyone in a village having traditional rights to some farming land — a system that has helped to prevent landlessness and destitution in rural areas. Given this, reforms to make land tenure more compatible with modern commercial agriculture must be sensitive to local traditions and respect the ownership rights of communities and traditional smallholders.

Of course, agricultural development can have serious economy-wide pitfalls, which must be navigated carefully. For example, as technology-driven productivity gains reduce the number of workers needed on farms, strategies to boost employment in other parts of the value chain and to manage migration to cities become even more essential.

With Africa’s rural population already largely underemployed, there is no time to waste in implementing such strategies. Fortunately, Africa’s large population of increasingly well-educated young people, who are largely uninterested in the backbreaking work of subsistence farming, is well suited to fill the higher value-added jobs that emerge in the agricultural sector and beyond.

Another potential pitfall of agricultural development is environmental damage, including land degradation, soil nutrient mining, excessive water use and water pollution. Here, again, Africa can benefit from experience and know-how that other regions could not access at a similar stage in their agricultural development. By drawing on other countries’ best practices — and avoiding their mistakes — Africa can develop an environmentally sustainable agricultural system that fits African conditions.

Such a system must place a high priority on protecting biodiversity and prevent the emergence of monocultures across the continent, which is home to some of the world’s richest ecosystems. Climate-change considerations — including the expected costs of mitigation and adaptation — must be central to the process of upgrading agriculture, including the relevant infrastructure.

Ultimately, each country must chart its own course toward agricultural development. But cooperation — even just to exchange ideas and emulate best practices — can help the process considerably. That is why, next March, the African Transformation Forum in Kigali will convene leading figures from African governments, business, academia, and civil society to discuss practical next steps toward agricultural transformation in Africa, and the broader push to build globally competitive economies.

Africa’s agricultural transformation will be a long and complex process. But it has the potential to ensure regional food security, promote broader economic development, and ultimately help to feed the world. We are confident that African leaders will rise to the challenge.

Paul Kagame is president of the Republic of Rwanda. K.Y. Amoako is the founder of the African Center for Economic Transformation, a Ghana-based think tank. © Project Syndicate 2015

(Source: Today’s Zaman)


2015 Global Terror Index names Boko Haram the deadliest terror organization in the world

17 November 2015

The Institute for Peace and Economics (IEP), based in Australia, has published the third edition of its Global Terror Index. According to the report, 32,658 people were killed in terrorist attacks in 2014. It’s the highest number of annual deaths by terrorism on record. According to IEP, 18,111 people lost their lives to terrorism in 2013. Since 2000, the number of deaths has risen by 80 percent.

Some of the findings brought forward by the report, which are derived from the Global Terrorism Database based at the University of Maryland in the U.S., can be summarized as follows:

  • Of the terror attacks carried out across the world in 2014, 51 percent were carried out by Daesh and Boko Haram (which has allied with Daesh).
  • Boko Haram is the bloodiest terror group. It killed 6,644 people in 2014, while Daesh killed 6,073.
  • The majority of terrorist activities are concentrated in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Syria. In 2014, 78 percent of terrorist activities were carried out in these countries.
  • Iraq was the country worst hit by terrorism in 2014, with 9,929 people killed in 3,370 attacks. Iraq was recorded as having withstood the largest number of terrorist attacks and the highest numbers of deaths from terror attacks.

The cost of terror is 52.9 million USD

  • Nigeria suffered the highest increase in deaths from terror in 2014. 7,512 people in Nigeria were killed by terrorists, a 300 percent increase.
  • The list of countries that lost at least 500 lives to terror attacks grew from five to 11 in 2014. The new countries are: Somalia, Ukraine, Yemen, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and Cameroon.
  • The economic cost of terrorism increased to it’s highest level in 2014. In 2013, the cost was recorded as 32.9 million USD, but that number increased by 61 percent to 52.9 million USD in 2014. That’s a tenfold increase since 2000.

The most important conclusion from the research

IEP’s Executive Chairman, Steve Killelea AM, ties the significant increase in measured terrorist events to the fact that terrorism has diversified and become more interconnected across the world. “The most striking conclusion from our research shows differences between the factors that drive terror in developed and developing countries.”

Continuing, he said, “In the West, youth unemployment and drug-related socio-economic factors are tied to terrorism. But in countries outside of the OECD, we see that terrorism is more strongly tied to continuing conflicts, corruption, and violence in society. Of the 11 countries most affedcted by terrorism, ten have the highest rates of refugees and internally-displaced populations. And the current regufee crisis, terrorism, and violent conflict draw on their mutual ties.”

The analysis also includes some careful reminders about the realities of terrorism:

  • Of the countries included in the report, more than 60 percent did not experience fatal terrorist attacks.
  • Of those who have died in terror aqttacks since 2000, less than three percent lived in Western countries.
  • In a ranking of ways that people lost their lives to murder across the world, terrorismk was the 13th most common reason.

This article was translated from Turkish.

(Source: Hurriyet)



Violent Islamist extremism and terror in Africa

1 October 2015

Author: Jakkie Cilliers

Publsher: Institute for Security Studies (ISS)

Find the PDF here.


The paper examines the large-scale violence perpetrated by Islamic extremists in select African countries. The paper aims to illuminate the nexus between development and conflict by analyzing terrorism using quantitative and contextual analysis. The paper focuses on the countries experiencing the worst of this terrorism, especially Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Mali, Nıgeria, and Somalia.


Establishing safety and security at protection of civilians sites

21 September 2015

Author: Jenna Stern

Publisher: The Stimson Center (Washington, D.C.)

Find the PDF here.


The report looks at the UN Mission in South Sudan’s (UNMISS) approach to establishing safety and security at the Protection of Civilians (POC) sites that were prepared quickly in response to the civil war in South Sudan that broke out in 2013. The report outlines the outstanding and most challenging security issues faced by UNMISS with regard to these POCs and draws conclusions from the study of these issues so as to inform future efforts at establishing safe and secure sites for people fleeing conflict.


Somalia’s federal future: layered agends, risks and opportunities

2 September 2015

Author: Jason Mosley

Publisher: Chatham House (London)

Find the PDF here.


The paper lays out prospects for Somalia’s federal system in light of upcoming elections in 2016. The author writes that thecurrent process of building federal institutions in Somalia will be successful insofar that Somalia is able to respect minority and smaller clans within its borders.


Turkey’s engagement in Sub-Saharan Africa: Shifting Alliances and Strategic Diversification

9 September 2015

Author: David Shinn

Publisher: Chatham House (London)

Find the PDF here.


The paper analyzes Turkey’s recent history of engagement in sub-Saharan Africa and places that engagement in the context of Turkey’s current political climate. The author argues that while Turkey is currently in the middle of domestic upheaval from a political and security standpoint, its broader diplomatic strategy and the dismal state of its relations with its neighbors will keep appetite for Turkish engagement in sub-Saharan Africa strong.