Sunday, April 21, 2019

China's Toxic Trade

Xuecheng Hou, a wealthy Chinese businessman who linked to wildlife contraband trafficking, has also emerged as a major player in the illegal trade in rare African timber in sub-Saharan Africa.
Evidence shows Chinese timber loggers took advantage of a legal loophole that allows rural communities to harvest the timber such as the rosewood, Mukula (bloodwood trees) for their own domestic use. According to a four-year investigation conducted by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), an advocacy group indicated that illegal logging activities haunted most part of Sub-Saharan African in south-eastern Angola, northern-east Namibia, Zambia, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The (EIA) discovery pointing out more extensively on Chinese firm that used political bribery, corruption, tax evasion and cheating the environmental law. None of the African countries benefited from Chinese logging beside ecosystem destruction.

''According to evidence collected by EIA, the (Chinese) Group has continuously broken the most fundamental forest laws, has turned timber trade regulations upside-down, and has diverted millions in unpaid taxes from the governments of Gabon and the Republic of Congo,'' the report said. EIA said the company operated by Xu Gong De manages 1.5 million hectares of rain forest in the two nations while logging with illegally obtained licenses and routinely overharvesting timber. EIA said there are several affiliated companies involved in the harvest, transport, processing and export of timber, including Sino Congo Forêt (SICOFOR) “Forest crimes covered by high-level corruption tightly linked to the inner working elites.


Exports of Namibian timber to China have increased tenfold, from just 22 truckloads in 2015 to more than 208 truckloads this year. In total, 3200 tonnes of Namibian timber exported to China in 2018 alone. This figure has doubled to 7500 tonnes during January and February this year 2019. These figures, obtained from the Namibian Ports Authority chief executive, Bisey/Uirab, have provided yet more evidence of how Namibia's rare raw timber is being shipped to China at a faster rate than ever before. 

The statistics also show that the trees being cut down by mainly political elites for sale to the Asian superpower are used to produce luxury furniture and traditional Chinese house decorations. Namport's statistics show that around 800 tonnes of Namibian timber were exported through Walvis Bay to China in 2015; 22 tonnes were shipped out in 2016; and about 200 tonnes in 2017. The 800 tonnes are equal to about 22 legal truckloads on a Namibian road. A truckload weighs approximately 36 tonnes. 

Data shows that around 302 truckloads of Namibian timber were exported to China from 2017 to 2019. Alpheus !Naruseb who was appointed as agriculture and forestry Minister in 2018 indicated that the statistics paint a picture of how Namibia – a dry country– is selling its rare trees to Asian countries.  The Environment Ministry has pointed a finger to the Agriculture Ministry of dishing out permits to well-connected Namibians at Rundu to cut down forest trees in the north-eastern part of the country. Namibian ports were further used to export 430,700 tonnes of timber from 2013 to 2019, including wood from other southern African countries. This is equal to 12,000 fully loaded trucks.

Zambia tops the list of countries which have exported its timber through Namibia. The other two countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola. The statistics from Namport show that 2760 timber truckloads from that country were exported through the Walvis Bay port. Zambia reportedly banned the harvesting and transportation of rosewood to stop its rapid loss, fuelled by the growing demand for the timber in Asia. According to an article found on the, rosewood is a generic name for several dark-red hardwood species found in tropical regions, and fetches high prices because it is strong, heavy, has a beautiful red hue, and takes polish very well.

Reuters news agency reported in 2017 that Zambia banned the export of logs from all three species of rosewood in 2015, and now only gives export permits for processed or sawn wood, saying it wants to boost the country's timber manufacturing sector. According to media reports, a ton of timber is sold for N$240,000 (SGD 902.80) in China. The secretary of the Mpungu District Farmers Association in Kavango East, Elia Kamati, has defended the sale of timber to China. “They opened the economy to them and everyone else. It's a free market. We are just selling our products to those who are in the market. 

The farmers are not the ones who brought Chinese here in Namibia. It is them who signed contracts with foreigners, so they come to do business here,” he said. Kamati said he is disappointed that the government has banned the harvesting of timber, adding that they are now being branded as criminals when all they did was follow the procedure permitted to them by the forestry ministry. He also complained that the environmental management plan which they were given to raise revenue from timber will expire in a few years' time without any work done. They are losing time and hope, he said. /Uirab told The Namibian in March 2019 that their mandate is to process the loading and exporting process at the Walvis Bay and Lüderitz ports. 

He said the duty to ensure that permits are issued before the harvesting and exporting of timber lies with state agencies, such as the agriculture and forestry ministry, and the Department of Customs at the finance ministry. /Uirab said all timber exports were made with the required documents. “If Namport detects suspicious import or export items, such incidents are brought to the attention of relevant law-enforcement agencies,” he stressed. Under the headline ''Entitled elite'' The Namibian reported that a group of elites from Rundu had flooded the government with applications to cut down 200,000 trees in Kavango East. 

Such applicants include parliamentarians, government officials, councillors, police bosses, as well as traditional and church leaders who are among 230 individuals who since November 2018 have wanted to cut down rare rosewood trees on land spanning 570,000 hectares. This is more than the combined size of Windhoek and Okahandja. The government banned the cutting and transportation of timber in November this year because of concerns that timber was being harvested without following the correct procedures, as well as broader concerns over damage to the environment caused by logging – mainly in the Kavango East, Kavango West and Zambezi regions. Rosewood is protected worldwide because of over-exploitation. Experts note that some species of the tree take 100 years to reach maturity. In Namibia's sub-continental forests, some of the trees being harvested are 400 years old.


There’s a moratorium on logging concessions in place in the Congo – a freeze was put in place because there were so many bad contracts handed out in the 1990s. But logging is still being done by certain big companies. There is still a big demand for wood from the DRC, in particular for a tropical hardwood called Wenge, which is actually banned for export from, for example, Cameroon. So people want to come to DRC to export this species. Because they can’t get new concessions, the solution that has been found is to give out what are called artisanal permits to industrial loggers. These permits are intended for communities who want to log in their forest on a small scale, but in reality, they are being given out to industrial companies, to foreign investors, often from China and elsewhere sometimes from Europe, coming to DRC to do industrial-scale logging. 

The DRC government has not respected its own laws when it has been giving out its own permits. The law is quite clear about how many permits should be given out and to whom. But these rules are not being respected at all levels. Obviously, logging is one of the few things that drive small inward investment in DRC. This is one thing that foreign companies are keen to come here to do. It is economically driven. Our researchers found that what logging leaves behind in terms of development is actually very small. The taxes paid by the companies are actually very small – a few thousand dollars for a permit. It’s not a huge input, but it’s seen as something that can benefit the state or an individual official who allowing the logging.

Timber transported from Lambarené to the processing factories in Libreville, Gabon. The code allows to identify where they were harvested and is proof of legality. © Deng Jia / WWF.
Genuine artisanal logging permit doesn’t necessarily have a huge environmental impact because the people involved don’t have destructive capabilities with magnitude to open up new roads into the forest. But with the way these permits are being used industrially, the foreign companies often bring in heavy machinery like bulldozers. They’re opening logging roads into the forest, and after that, the forest becomes degraded quite quickly. It also allows for illegal loggers and poachers to follow them in. It has a very serious environmental impact on the ground. 

There are more and more Chinese people in DRC involved in logging activities, using these kinds of permits. It isn’t just China – there are also Lebanese and some Europeans – but the majority are Chinese. The analysis shows that 20-25% of Chinese luxury hardwood processed products, for example, go to America and Europe. In Bandundu Province, where the research conducted, the two biggest logging companies ''we visited were Chinese. The main one is called TERCO. It’s a registered Congolese company but it’s a partnership between a Chinese businessman and a Congolese businessman. Quite a lot of companies here work in that way, through partnerships''. The companies understandably they have a permit signed by someone in high authority. ''Actually, they don’t feel like they’re breaking the law.

But we would say that all sorts of companies working here have the responsibility not just to go to the authorities, get a piece of paper signed by someone and start working. In a lot of African countries, you can get a permit signed by an official, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you are following regulations. The artisanal logging permits should be for the local loggers, and not for foreign companies. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Why Africa loves China?

Chinese President Xi Jinping and African leaders clap during a group photo session during the FOCAC Summit in Beijing, China, September 3, 2018.
At the September 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing, African Union Chairperson and Rwandan President Paul Kagame lauded the Chinese aid and investment strategy in Africa as a source of "deep transformation". Kagame argued that the cooperation between China and Africa is based on mutual respect and is for the benefit of both partners. This sentiment is perhaps shared by most African heads of states and governments if their attendance of the summit is anything to go by.  However, despite the African leadership's embrace of China as a valued partner, the view that Beijing is a "predatory" actor in Africa, attempting to recolonise the continent is also ubiquitous in foreign policy circles, media narratives and academia.

Africa sees China differently than the West

The China-Africa relationship is currently being interpreted through two diametrically opposed perceptions. The first of the two is a Sino-phobic one, mostly adopted in the West. For instance, in a recent policy briefing at the Heritage Foundation, US National Security Adviser John Bolton criticised China's actions in Africa and claimed the continent has fallen victim to Beijing's new colonialism. "China uses bribes, opaque agreements, and the strategic use of debt to hold states in Africa captive to Beijing's wishes and demands," Bolton said. "Such predatory actions are sub-components of broader Chinese strategic initiatives, including 'One Belt, One Road' - a plan to develop a series of trade routes leading to and from China with the ultimate goal of advancing Chinese global dominance." Just like the US, other western governments, such as the UK and France, also see China's engagement in Africa as a cause for concern. For them, China is a spoiler of peace in oil-rich countries such as South Sudan and Sudan, and a supporter of despots in African countries, such as Gabon. Moreover, they perceive China as a resource and energy-hungry giant, an exploiter of corrupt and incompetent governments, a trade opportunist, and a massive polluter of the African environment. The second and opposing perception of the partnership between Beijing and Africa is a pro-China one. This view is adopted mostly in Africa.

According to the proponents of this narrative, China is a saviour - a trustworthy ally of Africa. They view China, a country that does not have a history of colonial aspirations in Africa, as a partner which could provide much-needed funding without any strings attached. They also believe Beijing understands and respects Africa's priorities. Moreover, China has a reputation among African countries for being an actor that respects other cultures and states. This view is widely held by many African heads of state. Much of the academic literature on the China-Africa partnership unjustifiably perpetuates the Sino-phobic narrative. The media also wrongly portrays China as a predatory actor in Africa. For instance, while it is widely reported that China invests more in the extractive industry than in other sectors, the fact that the extractive industry amounts only to one-third of the total Chinese investment in Africa is barely mentioned. The other two-thirds of China's investment in Africa is in infrastructure, construction, electricity production, manufacturing and finance. In fact, compared with the US and other developed countries, China's share in extractive investments in Africa, in the form of mining, for example, is lower.

The relationship between African countries and Chinese has reach an inmate threshold.
Africa is not a victim of Chinese 'colonisation' 

The Sino-phobic narrative championed by the West portrays African nations as passive collaborators, as mere victims of a second "colonisation" wave. However, this is not the case. Africans are well aware of the shortcomings of Chinese assistance and business in Africa - from an imbalance in trade to hefty debt, from poor quality goods to corrupt practices. Africans also know that many Chinese investors lack considerations of sustainability and that some business dealings are in some instances incompatible with the national interests of African countries. Furthermore, Africans recognise that Chinese businesses rarely fight corrupt practices and seek to avoid accountability. Africans expect China to take some responsibility for some of these shortcomings, but also acknowledge that the weaknesses of African regulatory and enforcement mechanisms, as well as self-serving governments, are the main culprits.

They know that Chinese companies, like many others, exploit the weaknesses of African states for their advantage. They believe it is their own governments, and not China, that need to make sure Africa is not exploited. As a result, Africans see the Western criticisms of the China-Africa cooperation with serious reservations. At the FOCAC meeting in September, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa summarised the African position by saying that Africa "refutes the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa as our detractors would have us believe." 

Why Africa loves China ?

The debt trap is not an inevitable outcome of loans: As President Kagame said, the outcome "depends on us Africans". The key factor that determines the success of Chinese loans to Africa is whether or not African governments use such loans for productive capital investment. For these investments to succeed, African governments need to be accountable to the people of Africa. This is not the responsibility of China or any other non-African country, for that matter; rather it is Africans who are responsible to ensure accountability. There are some obvious reasons that make China a preferred partner for Africa.

For Africans, China has four major attractions: Unconditional soft loans and access to capital; quick delivery of services and cheap goods; funding of peacekeeping; and an alternative development model. First, China's unconditional cooperation has allowed African governments to enjoy access to finance, expertise and development aid. In 2016, the trade between China and Africa reached $128bn, a drastic surge from $1bn in 1980. At FOCAC in Beijing this year, China offered $60bn for development financing until 2021. While the financial crises in the US and EU limited their investments in Africa, China committed to investing more in the continent. Chinese soft loans have enabled many African governments to avoid pressure from global governance institutions such as IMF and World Bank to meet Western norms of accountability and conditionality related to political and economic reforms, such as the infamous structural adjustment that does not always serve the interest of Africans. Second, China has aided African governments to meet their people's rapidly growing demands for services and infrastructure more quickly.

Many people in Africa are now used to quick delivery of services - such as transportation, education, health and telecommunication - by Chinese companies. This has created, and will continue to create, more appetite for Chinese business in Africa. Third, China is now also engaged in peace and security projects in Africa. Chinese troops participate in eight UN peacekeeping missions of which five are in Africa. Moreover, China is the second largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping missions and it also contributed funding to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the IGAD South Sudan mediation. Fourth, China's history of fast and successful economic growth is a model from which many lessons could be learned in Africa. China's capacity to ensure policy sovereignty remains relevant, and highly attractive to African leaders and scholars. 

According to the World Bank, in about 40 years, China has lifted about 800 million people out of poverty through its untraditional path of development. Notably, it has achieved many of the Millennium Development Goals. Africans should take a page from China's playbook on development and sovereignty.They can keep their home in order and also make the best out of the competition between great powers and regional players whether they are from the West, Far East or the Middle East. As things stand, China is already winning the hearts and the minds of Africans. The West will have to either change tact or forever play catch up.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Africa The Next Battlefront Of US And China: Is China Winning Africa?

China sees Trump’s trade war as an opportunity to boost ties with Africa Xi Jinping and Cyril Ramaphosa at The Council for Scientific and Industrial Reasearch (CSIR) in Pretoria on July 24, 2018 © Phill Magakoe / AFP
As China grows more powerful, it is slowly displacing a decades-old American preeminence in Asia and then Africa. The new trade war between the two global economy powerhouse outlines the rivalry that soon will define the future of African continent. Historically, the African natural resources have been plundered by the foreign powers, mainly but not exclusively European, who extracted easy-get resources available in a political vacuum resulting from the corrupted African elites.

Ludo De Witte, an author of a book called Lumumba’s murder the most terrible assassination of the 20th century. The killing that was carried out with the joint complicity of the American secret service and Belgian governments, which used Congolese accomplices and a Belgian execution squad. Since that assassination happened this forever changed the African continent’s political landscape and its economic and political prospects. The westerners tended to be very wicked and brutal in their approach when handling African domestic affairs. The amount of money the US invests in Africa appears to be waning, even under the Obama administration, who committed over $3.1 billion in a consecutive three-year period to an initiative programs that claimed to address African power shortages. In all honesty, Obama spent more money on drone-projects bombing the continent than any US President has ever spent.

China’s approach is different from that of the traditional colonial powers that ever seeking to plunder African resources through long term deceit. China too is also after resources, but its main interests in the African continent are twofold: Searching and exploiting oil and mineral resources, and creating new markets for Chinese goods. In addition, the Oriental nations spent billions investing or repairing infrastructure that provides jobs for Chinese nationals, the technicians and cheap laborers, mostly consist prison inmates who working on the pardoning-parlor of the Chinese government. However, unlike other big powers, China has shown relatively minimal interference in the domestic affairs of African countries, while at the same time providing generous aid and loan packages to African states for investment exchange. As Clifton Pannell, Director of the Center for Asian Studies at the University of Georgia said. While China's cooperation the continent has some mutual benefits that usher solidarity toward African states as opposed to colonialism and economic dependency created by unfriendly westerner's capitalistic stance.

Although, not every African is happy about China’s presence on the continent, there are strong sentiments that China employs few Africans in some of its economic endeavors, while many local factories, business entrepreneur and construction companies have been threaten and some already bolted out from the market since can't match up against China’s competition. China, however, has a steady policy of providing assistance and training in agricultural techniques and public health through state sponsored scholarship programs. During 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation which took place in Beijing,President Xi Jinping unveiled eight major initiatives which included purchasing more African goods and encouraging Chinese companies to expand investments to promote industrialization in Africa. Other major areas of cooperation are energy, information, transportation and use of water resources. To ensure the proper development of these initiatives, China will provide $60 billion in support for Africa’s development. Mr. Xi Jinping encouraged African countries to join in building the Belt and Road Initiative to achieve common developmental goals. In the financial area, China promised support through the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the New Development Bank, and the Silk Road Fund. In addition, Xi Jinping pledged to provide 50,000 government-funded scholarships for African youngsters and invited 2,000 of them to visit China.

President Jix Jinping and Uhuru Kenyatta hold hands to deepen their cooperative partnership.
Medical aid: China’s medical aid to Africa started a long way in 1963 during African liberation struggle when the Red Army sent about 100 healthcare workers to Algeria after it gained independence from France, and has been steadily increasing its numbers since ever then. By 2014, China was spending about $150 million annually in medical aid to African countries, first African doctors were trained in China and Cuba. China now ranks among the top 10 bilateral global health donors to the continent. Although the exact number is unknown, China has dispatched several Chinese medical teams (CMT) to Africa and assisted in the construction of health facilities and training of African healthcare workers. It has also provided medical equipment and drugs. It is estimated that by 2014 China had helped build 30 hospitals and 30 malaria prevention and control centers, and trained over 3,000 healthcare workers from several African countries. Malaria is one of the main diseases the Chinese are trying to help prevent and control. China has donated over $26 million in anti-malarial drugs to 35 African countries. China also provided important aid to control the Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people between 2013 and 2016 and has helped in the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. In its medical aid to Africa, China makes use of its own experience as a developing country, limitations and advantages included. At the same time, China uses its assistance in public health to strengthen its diplomatic relations with African governments.

Military Assistance: Although in the past China mainly targeted economic trade and assistance to Africa, Beijing is increasingly developing policies aimed at strengthening military ties in order to gain a stronger geopolitical influence and expand weapons sales in the continent. In that regard, China has been extremely active in selling small arms and light weapons to several African countries. President Xi Jinping promised to provide $100 million of free military assistance to the African Union to support the establishment of the African Standby Force and the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis. In addition, the Chinese government has invited thousands of African military officials to China for workshops and training courses. “The concern from a lot of partners is exactly what role China is going to be playing in the region and how it is going to exist with existing military organizations and security forums,” said Duncan Innes-Ker, Asia Regional Director at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Trade War

Tensions between the US and China just keep rising to another level, which the global protectionism and double standard of America instills fears. Last week, for example, US vice president Mike Pence made a speech laying out the Trump administration’s case for an all-out economic confrontation with China, beyond its current tariffs on Chinese goods. But does the White House have the upper hand? Of course not! Imposing economic sanction on Chinese assets can't even bring a satisfactory effect to US let alone it will bring self harm. The only alternative is to target African states with economic sanctions those accepting Chinese aid, this is the only available solution for them to counter the grow of China on the continent.  In New York Times' column written by Andrew Ross Sorkin points out that China does have a “Nuclear option” in its arsenal: So, US will not choose to confront China militarily in a direct way, beside creation and sponsoring internal rebellions and terror factions in African countries to destabilize the peace in the continent.  

According to US Treasuries. This scenario would involve ”the Chinese, the biggest holder of United States foreign debt with more than $1 trillion, publicly taking a step back from buying United States Treasuries—or worse, dumping what they own in the open market.”

The notion of a Chinese “nuclear option” goes hand in hand with the idea China has lent the US money—or as Sorkin puts it, the idea that, in the US-China relationship, China is indeed the biggest foreign holder of US government debt, with nearly $1.2 trillion in US Treasuries.


The tempo of American involvement in Africa has increased since ever. In January 2007, the American AC130 gun-ships flew over the continent and in the next month, Pentagon announced the creation of a dedicated African Military Command, AFRICOM. This immediately raised the question: Will Africa become a platform for international terrorist activities and what is the mission of the United States to have a military base in every African state? Some security expert speculate that the creation of Africom that goes along with the secret funding of opposition movements and NGOs for regime change, has nothing but a manufacturer of continental terror outfits and regime change on the continent. Pentagon is well known with its unofficial operations in Indonesia conducted by the CIA that covertly arming insurgencies and radical movements while at the same time serve US government attempt to provide military solution to the same problem they have created in the first place. Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions (CAATSA) is a new federal law, promulgated in 2017 to counter any country with an economical sanctions.  The Act passed by US Congress last year. In simple word, if any country or any group active in that country tries to harm american interests or acts against america. As per the provisions in this act, the sanctions are already imposed on countries like Iran, DPRK, Russia and now then the US considering to add China and its trading partners. 

The recent upheavals in the Sahara - an upsurge in jihadist activity, a military coup in Mali and the French military’s action to counter terrorism in the deserts of Gao and Timbuktoo - have put the region in the international spotlight. As the 21st century begins, northwest Africa has become an important flash-point in the Global War on Terror as well as the fierce competition for the continent's valuable natural resources.

Malian gendarme stands guard after the arrival of a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III plane with French troops at the airport in Bamako.
Donald Trump’s trade war with China is becoming more problematic as China's relations with the African continent is growing. The United States has initiated trade war that affecting a broad range of countries and again faces a retaliatory threats from China, the European Union and among others. Our modelling suggests that if current trade policy threats are realized and business confidence falls as a result, global output could be about 0.5 percent below current projections by 2020,” the International Monetary Fund’s Maury Obstfeld said earlier this month. China, is Africa’s largest trading partner. Trade between Africa and China has grown from $765 million in 1978 to over $170 billion in 2017, and is soon expected to reach $400 billion. According to the United National Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) World Investment Report of 2018, China was the fourth largest foreign investor in Africa in 2016, spending about $40 billion.

China pledged to invest $14.7 billion in South Africa and grant loans to its state power utility and logistics company, instantly helping the South African rand to make some early gains. China is already South Africa’s biggest trading partner, and this does not seem set to change any time soon. South Africa is not the continent’s only nation looking to capitalise on the economic opportunities offered by China. Countries in West Africa, including Nigeria, Mauritania, and Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) have all expressed interest in joining China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa said earlier this year that the “Belt and Road Initiative is indeed a vision for the future.” Tanzania’s minister of foreign affairs, Augustine Mahiga, further described the Belt and Road Initiative as a “user-friendly globalization of the economy.”

It wasn’t all too long ago that President Trump openly calling African nations “shithole countries” – a remark that left a chilling void that China can quickly fill up. From 12-16 January 2018 the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited four African countries: Rwanda, Angola, Gabon, and São Tomé and Príncipe resulting the US announcing to impose sanction against African nations who trying to be against trading policy.  The major point of difference between China and the US is that while Donald Trump openly insults Africa, China has made a point of including anyone and almost everyone in its plans to develop Africa.Chinese president from visiting these three nations recently in an attempt to portray China as a partner for Africa’s industrialization. Whereas the US makes a point of targeting and showing interest in countries only when they have resources that can be extracted to benefit a select few, China may in fact be demonstrating it can listen closely to Africa’s aspirations instead of US.

The Trump administration rolled out a new strategy for Africa on Thursday, but it was really all about China. John R. Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, said the United States would lavish money and greater attention on the African continent, casting it as a crucial battleground in the global economic contest between the United States and China. But Mr. Bolton conceded that the United States had limited resources to compete with the tens of billions of dollars China is pouring into Africa. He also threatened to withdraw American aid for some United Nations peacekeeping missions, which he labeled ineffective, as well as for certain African countries like South Sudan that he said were corrupt or ungrateful. Mr. Bolton’s speech, at the Heritage Foundation, was his latest effort to flesh out what Mr. Trump’s “America First” foreign policy means for particular regions. In Africa, he said, the greatest threat came from Chinese expansionist, as well as Russia. “They are deliberately and aggressively targeting US investments in the region to gain a competitive advantage over the United States,” Mr. Bolton said. “China uses bribes, opaque agreements and the strategic use of debt to hold states in Africa captive to Beijing’s wishes and demands.”

Mr. Bolton announced a new program, “Prosper Africa,” to support American investment across Africa. Without attaching a dollar figure, he said the United States would facilitate alternatives to the large, state-directed public works projects pushed by the Chinese. Those projects, he said, were turning some African countries into economic vassals of China. Zambia, for example, owes Beijing $6 billion to $10 billion, according to Mr. Bolton, and is at risk of having the Chinese take over its national power company. China built a military base in another indebted African country, Djibouti, a few miles from where the United States has a base for counter terrorism operations.

Earlier this year, Mr. Bolton said the Chinese fired military-grade laser beams at American aircraft, injuring two pilots. Experts welcomed the focus on Africa, which has often been neglected by both Republican and Democratic administrations. But some noted the contradiction between Mr. Bolton’s promise of increased investment and a rollback of American engagement in other areas.

Grant T. Harris, a former adviser on Africa to President Barack Obama. “Washington needs to understand that China is investing in relationships, not just infrastructure.” Mr. Trump famously asked why the United States should accept African immigrants, belittling their countries with an epithet. The first lady, Melania Trump, made a four-country tour of the continent in October, which drew more attention for her wardrobe — particularly a colonial-style pith helmet on a safari in Kenya — than for her encounters with Africans.

Mr. Bolton traced his interest in Africa to his first job in government, working at the United States Agency for International Development during the Reagan administration. Yet he made clear that he viewed much of the American aid sent to Africa as wasted or misspent. “From now on,” he said, “the United States will not tolerate this longstanding pattern of aid without effect.” South Sudan, where rival leaders recently agreed to end a ruinous civil war, is among those at risk of losing aid. Mr. Bolton said the country was still being led by “the same morally bankrupt leaders” who prolong “horrific violence and immense human suffering.” In the 2017 fiscal year, foreign assistance to Africa from the State Department and the Agency for International Development amounted to $8.7 billion. From 2014 to 2018, the United States provided some $3.8 billion in humanitarian aid to South Sudan and its neighbors. American businesses invested $50 billion in Africa in 2017, according to the State Department. The flow of money from China to Africa has been substantial, but much of it is not what experts consider aid. From 2000 to 2014, Chinese financing to Africa totaled $121.6 billion, according to an analysis by AidData, a research center based at the College of William & Mary in Virginia.

The US already enacted sanctions on Rwanda’s earlier this year, when Rwanda ceased to use clothing and shoes from America in order to try and boost its own local manufacturing. Soon African nations that cooperate with China will blacked listed in terms of Section 231 CAATSA. 

Happy New Year 2019

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Zimbabwe Starts Building New Parliament Funded By China

    President E.Mnangagwa officially opened a project for the new Parliament at Mt Hampden.

Zimbabwean President
Zimbawean leader E. Mnangagwa laid the foundation stone for the new 650-seater, multi-million dollar, Zimbabwe Parliament in Mt Hampden, 18 kilometers northwest of Harare.
Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday laid the foundation stone for huge new parliament to be built with Chinese funds outside the capital Harare.  The new Parliament project is situated at Mount Hampden in Mashonaland East province about 18 km northwest from the main capital Harare. The multi-million dollar Parliament will have a capacity of 650-seaters. The Shanghai Construction group already commenced with the construction works, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Officials say the current colonial-era parliamentary building in the city centre is too small to accommodate lawmakers. Mnangagwa said at the ceremony that China had provided a "grant, not a loan, to build a new parliament", without giving a figure. "Other facilities like banks, hotels will be built around this place," Mnangagwa said adding that a "modern, smart city" was planned. Mnangagwa took over from Bob Robert Mugabe who relinquished the power after the military intervention in November 2017. He has vowed to revive back Zimbabwe's economy that has been in ruins for nearly two decades for now. 

China has funded and provided loans for many infrastructure projects across African continent in recent years, ranging from roads, power plants, sports stadiums and government institutions like for instance African Union (AU) headquarter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia "China's gift to Africa." a modern complex that cost about $200-million. However, the critics say China's increasing sway over the continent could undermining democracy and sovereignty.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Rio Tinto: Rössing Uranium Has Sold Its Entire Stake To China

Rio Tinto sells its stake in Rössing Uranium to Chinese miner up for $106.5 million.
The Global miner Rio Tinto says it sold its entire stake in Rössing Uranium to China National Uranium Corporation for up to $106.5m. The sale of the 68.62% stake in Rössing Uranium, which owns the Rössing mine in Namibia, ends a period of extensive strategic assessment, the miner said in a statement on Monday. “The sale of our interest in Rössing once again demonstrates our commitment to strengthening our portfolio and focusing on our core assets,” Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques said. The deal is subject to certain conditions, including approval by the Namibian Competition Commission. The Rössing Uranium mine is located 12 kilometres from the town of Arandis, 70km inland from the coastal town of Swakopmund in Namibia's Erongo region. 

Rossing Uranium Mine
Rössing Uranium opencast mine near Arandis in Namibia:Rio Tinto
Under a binding agreement Rio Tinto announced today, the total consideration comprises an initial cash payment of USD6.5 million, payable at completion, and a contingent payment of up to USD100 million following completion linked to uranium spot prices and Rössing's net income during the next seven calendar years. Its chief executive, J-S Jacques, said Rio Tinto was focused on strengthening its portfolio and focusing on its core assets. "Rio Tinto has a long history in Namibia and I would like to thank the many people across Rio Tinto and the communities in which we operate who have contributed to the success of Rössing. I wish them continued success under new ownership. Rio Tinto will work closely with CNUC to ensure a smooth transition and ongoing sustainable operation at Rössing," he said. Rössing, the world's longest-running opencast uranium mine, has been in operation since 1976. It has a nameplate capacity of 4500 tonnes U3O8 per year. Its 2017 production was 4,652,000 pounds U3O8 (1789 tU) of which Rio Tinto's share was 3,192,000 pounds. By the end of last year, the mine had supplied a total of 132,610 tonnes U3O8 to the world.

Rio Tinto is the majority owner of Rössing Uranium Limited. The Namibian government has a 3% shareholding but, the government has a ''big say'' in terms of decision making and voting rights. The Iranian Foreign Investment Company (IFIC) is a passive legacy investor in Rössing Uranium, holding a 15% stake that goes back to the early 1970s in the financing of the mine. The Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (Shiva Uranium) owns 10%, while local individual shareholders own a combined 3%. The Chinese company China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) that owns the Geology & Mining Department has 25 %  stake in Namibia's Langer Heinrich uranium mine, currently under care-and-maintenance. Subject to conditions, including merger approval from the Namibian Competition Commission, the transaction is expected to be completed in the first half of next year.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Tunisian Pan Africanist Aya Chebbi Appointed As AU Youth Envoy

 Aya Chebbi is a Tunisian Pan African activist that radicalize African youth for Agenda 2063.
Tunisian activist, Aya Chebbi was on Thursday appointed the first ever African Union (AU) Youth Envoy, a position created to mobilize young people across the continent towards the pursuit of Agenda 2063.

Aya Chabbi
Tunisian Pan African Feminist and activist Aya Chebbi.
Aya Chebbi, she is a 31 years old an award-winning Pan-African feminist with a radical note and her mission is to bridge Northern Africa (Maghreb) with Southern Sahara. She is the first African Union Youth Envoy to the African Union Commission and the youngest in the Chairperson’s Cabinet. She is the founder of multiple platforms such as the Youth Programme of Holistic Empowerment Mentoring (Y-PHEM) coaching the next generation to be agents for positive change. Chebbi, a Pan-African feminist from Tunisia, who shot to global fame as a blogger during the 2010 Arab Spring in her country, will work with a Youth Advisory Council comprised of members from across the continent. ‘‘She will advocate, and raise awareness on, the implementation of the Demographic Dividend Roadmap,’‘ reads part of the AU statement on her appointment.

The African Union Demographic Dividend Roadmap is a continental policy which carving for investment in Africa and supports the young people in the areas of employment and entrepreneurship, education and skills development, health and wellbeing, and rights, governance and youth empowerment. There is a common sentiment that Africa is not creating enough jobs opportunities for the young generations, which led so many African graduates flocking to Western countries even by risking themselves on boat journey through Mediterranean sea, where may have perished. The AU statement adds that Chebbi will be advised by the Youth Advisory Council that has members hailed from Tanzania, Benin, Republic of Congo, South Africa, Mauritania, Uganda, Senegal, Chad, Namibia and Mozambique, and others.

About Aya Chebbi:  Chebbi holds a degree in International Relations from the Higher Institute of Human Sciences of Tunis and a Master’s degree in African Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, where she was a Mo Ibrahim ScholarChebbi has crisscrossed the African continent speaking about the youth-led peaceful political revolutions that started in her country, she has supported, trained and worked with thousands of social movement leaders, feminist groups, and youth activists on mobilization, leadership, and non-violence. 

Aya previously worked at the refugee camps during Libya’s war, at Bureau de Cooperation Tunisie-Denmark of the Danish Foreign Affairs Ministry on bilateral cooperation in Tunis. She also monitored the 2012 Egyptian Presidential Elections, in Tanta.  She has been widely speaking about social movements worldwide for conferences and rallies in the United States, Brazil, Germany, Turkey, Cyprus, Kenya, Rwanda, and South Africa among others.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

US-Africa New Order

AU Commission Chairman Moussa Faki and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 3/8/2018./Jonathan Ernst. 
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation, on Wednesday and visited the African Union headquarters on Thursday. This is a week-long trip that comes amid of blasphemy statement by President Trump’s administration referring African nations as “shithole countries” in January.  Many African leaders were incensed by reports that Trump used a derogatory term to refer to African countries in a private White House meeting. He may also just came to smooth relations between the continent and US. Tillerson visit Ethiopia and then later Djibouti, Kenya, Chad and Nigeria.  

Contesting For African Resources

The African Union Headquarter was funded and built by Chinese and in the eyes of the Americans is seen as a symbol of Beijing’s thrust for influence and access to the continent’s natural resources. Ethiopia is already a home to some of Beijing’s biggest investments and physical infrastructures. Earlier this week, Tillerson criticized heavily “China’s approach” to Africa which he said encouraged dependency through “opaque contracts” and “predatory loan practices”.  Tillerson told a news conference in the Ethiopian capital, that “We are not in any way attempting to keep Chinese dollars from Africa,”  “It is important that African countries carefully consider the terms of those agreements and not forfeit their sovereignty.” The United States is the leading aid donor to Africa but China surpassed it as a trade partner in 2009. Beijing has pumped billions into infrastructure projects, though critics say the use of Chinese firms and labor undermines their value.

Tillerson said Chinese investments “do not bring significant job creation locally” and criticized how Beijing structures loans to African government. If a government accepts a Chinese loan and “gets into trouble”, he said, it can “lose control of its own infrastructure or its own resources through default.” He did not give examples. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, visiting Zimbabwe on Thursday, told reporters it was inappropriate for Tillerson to criticize China’s relationship with African countries.  

He elaborate further that many African governments enjoy close ties with both Washington and Beijing. Kenya, for example, inaugurated a $3.2 billion railway funded by China last year. For the last three years, Kenya has received more than $100 million annually in U.S. security assistance. Asked about Tillerson’s criticism of China’s approach on the continent, Kenya’s foreign affairs minister Monica Juma said: “This country is engaging with partners from across the world driven by our own interests and for our own value.”

Tillerson reiterated previous calls for African states to cut ties with North Korea. North Korea has more than a dozen embassies on the continent. The Trump administration has said that Pyongyang earns hard currency from arms deals with African government and the trafficking of wildlife parts from Africa. Tillerson is due to fly to Djibouti, host to military bases owned by the U.S., China, Japan, France, and Italy. He will then visit Kenya, a key U.S. ally in the fight against al Shabaab Islamist militants in Somalia, before traveling to Chad and Nigeria, which are also battling to contain Islamist insurgents. 

Analysts say Trump has focused mainly on security concerns in Africa at a time when China, Turkey and other nations are ramping up diplomatic and business links. “When you look at the set of countries that are being visited I think it kind of reinforces the perception that security, indeed, is the overwhelming focus,” said Brahima Coulibaly, the director of the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings Institution. 

Understand that American monopoly is to restrict African resources and control them: America came up with many strategies but failed. The master plan of African Command (FRICOM) that was introduced by President George W. Bush in early 2007 to militarized the whole continent so that Africans may used as mercenaries to fight their own proxy wars. Thanks to people who like peace like (Edward Snowden) for giving early warning to African leaders about the deception of US-AFRICOM. Almost 98% African states rejected such order to host US military bases in their territories. Now again, US being overshadowed by Russians and Chinese, so they have crafted another order known as the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), a kind of economical measure that will compel all developing countries especially African nations to abide to the new monopolies of US that command them what should they own,consume,produce or buy. 

US already secured advantage over African countries when ordered the "shitholes" all at once to stop trading with North Korea just in one night. Some of Africa countries have risked a lot in compliance with United States' demand. Multi-billion construction projects like in security sector and education was being constructed with the help of Pyongyang, but now are just white elephants and nestling places for bats and owls; imagining billion of dollars from taxpayers spent on those constructions and projects which was abide by official contracts before US-UN economic sanction has commenced imposing penalty on Kim Jung-uns regime.  

Today everything include resources that budgeted for several years have now went into drainage and we have a huge pile of rumbles looking at us, which was suppose to be a state of art skyscrapers and defence complex. Question: Who will compensate this? Why US only know how to stop the constructions but never know how to provide alternative solution that substitute the Asians or refund the loss? Instead African leaders unilaterally demanding their construction projects for completion under the supervision of United Nation if is the case and then after let go off North Koreans, this was not happened in Africa, But yet China,Russia and India are doing business with North Koreans and US is smearing the request from these countries to ceasing their business trades through some preparatory steps.

The hidden agenda under the Department of Treasury was signed officially on 02 August 2017 with the main objective to thwart and disrupt the competitive international markets from fiery adversaries like North Korea,Iran,Russia,Cuba,China and others. Under this so-called new international law your country will be threatened from nationalize land,water or purchasing Russian made products especially military equipment like AK-47s and other military gears example Chengdu F-7, the military aircraft that made from China and owned by most African Airforces. Under the order of CAATSA your country is required to adopt NATO's doctrine and make use of western manufactured materials or otherwise suffer from economical isolation and sectoral sanctions for supporting United States' adversaries.

Reported by Kumerra Gemechu in Addis Ababa and Omar Mohammed in Nairobi;and narrated by Nambili Samuel



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