Monthly Archives: November 2016

Foreign Relations – DRC

Conflict and weak state institutions have created an interesting climate in the DRC concerning foreign relations, which can be seen as either discouraging or encouraging of foreign investment and involvement, depending on the situation. Although the United States is statistically one of the DRC’s half-dozen largest trading partners (if the EU is included as one body), investment in the DRC is generally discouraged in the United States. As of the 2011 Word Bank Doing Business report, the DRC ranked 175 out of 182 countries, and has consistently ranked either dead-last, or near the bottom, due to its weak institutions, which leads to an unsafe, and thereby cautious investing climate (State Department). Since oil represents 90% of US imports from the DRC, (State Department) and since the DRC is not necessarily a significant oil-producing company, it is easy to see why the US would not have much interest in the country, especially considering its instability. Other countries, especially China, Belgium, and South Africa have much more significant bilateral relations with the DRC due to a variety of reasons including but not limited to mineral interest, colonial history, and regional stability.

The DRC is rich in the minerals that China needs not only for manufacturing (especially in the tech sector), but also for building and infrastructure projects. In 2008, the two countries signed a deal which would allow for increased imports of copper and cobalt for China, which would in turn build a 1,000 mile highway for the DRC, something desperately needed if the DRC was to be able to effectively project power across the country from Kinshasa (NPR).  In 2011, an additional US $9 billion deal was signed, which would again increase mineral trade between the two countries. As it evolves as the global power in producing high tech equipment, China’s need for the “tech”-minerals that the DRC is rich in (such as Coltan) increases exponentially. Up to this point, China has built over 2,000 miles of paved roads, have repaired and created new infrastructure, and have built hospitals, sports stadiums, schools, and more (Center for Global Prosperity). It is hardly surprising that this deal was signed in Brussels.

As a former colonial holding, the DRC has a special and significant relationship with Belgium, similar to the relationship of francophone Africa to France. In fact, the DRC is Belgium’s largest recipient of ODA, and Belgium “remains one of the main bilateral partners of the DRC” (Embassy and Consulate of Belgium in the DRC). Between 2014 and 2015, Belgium engaged in a bilateral cooperative program with the DRC which saw 80 million Euros in assistance to and investment in the DRC. This program was aimed at vocational and technical education, in order to expand the DRC’s skilled labor force, and thereby allow the country to diversify its economy, without reliance on foreign powers. In addition, Belgium directly supports civil society in the DRC, in an effort to strengthen developmental policies and strengthen institutions.

Finally, South Africa remains one of the main trading partners of the DRC, (WTO Trade Policy Review: DRC) and as perhaps the strongest regional power in Africa, maintains interest in the stability and growth of the DRC. Aside from participating in multilateral projects aim4d at Congolese security, the South African military also has a bilateral relationship with the Congolese military, which allows for the training of Congolese soldiers so that they might better protect their own territories (South African Embassy to DRC). In addition, South Africa has entered into bilateral programs with the DRC to create programs with the purpose of detecting and reducing corruption, training diplomats and foreign officials, and encouraging investment, all which are good for the stability of the Congolese state. South Africa’s interest is primarily economic it seems, as stability around the Great Lakes region would allow for greater prosperity across the continent, something which would greatly benefit the South African economy.

Due to a variety of interests, primarily mineral extraction, colonial history, and regional stability and growth respectively, China, Belgium, and South Africa can be considered the most important foreign states to the DRC.


World trade Organization: Trade Policy Review – the Democratic Republic of the Congo


Posted in Country Post | Comments Off on Foreign Relations – DRC

Foreign Relations in Tanzania

Tanzania enjoys relatively solid diplomatic relations with its surrounding, regional partners as well as great powers like China and the United States. Its neighboring partners include Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa, which Tanzania holds strategic alliances that benefit them economically and in terms of regional stability. China and the United States remain enormous providers of aid, investment, and economic support to the country. The Tanzanian government seeks to expand its diplomatic relations with other nations in the international system and to improve its foreign partnerships.

China is one of the largest providers of economic assistance to Tanzania, supplying aid in the form of interest free loans for infrastructure and transportation development. However, contrary to patterns of involvement seen elsewhere on the continent and despite historically strong relations, China and Tanzanian foreign relations are beginning to weaken. China is still one of Tanzania’s key diplomatic partners, but as the government has taken a step back on its anti-West rhetoric and taken steps to open the door to Western relationships, its relations with China have begun to cool. Moreover, China itself has begun to limit and reduce its economic and political ties to Tanzania, as other African countries have risen as potentially more powerful allies with more valuable resources.

The United States has also worked to improve relations with Tanzania and to increase its diplomatic ties to the country since the end of the Cold War. The signing of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has doubled US aid in the region and has benefited Tanzania’s development of projects in its transportation, energy, and water sectors. The US also works to promote democracy in Tanzania and on providing resource programs for health, energy, and other methods of sustainable development. The US-Tanzania relationship is based far more on development and aid, as opposed to traditional Tanzania-China relations, which are based far more on mutually beneficial economic ties in addition to aid and developmental support.

With its local allies, Tanzania has adopted a principle of regional integration and works to promote and improve its economic relations within Africa. The goal is to become a competitive player in the international economy and to attract future foreign investments into African countries. A number of different regional partnerships and initiatives are aimed at achieving this goal, including the East African Cooperation and the South Africa Development Cooperation, which include a number of Tanzania’s key regional allies. These partnerships and agreements are all designed to promote regional trade and to encourage economic development and relations within the Africa continent. Nations like South Africa, Uganda, and Kenya are among some of Tanzania’s regional partners and will become more influential in their diplomatic and economic relations as Africa continues to experience economic growth and prosperity. South Africa in particular is an important regional ally for Tanzania, and the two are actively working to strengthen their diplomatic relationship. Presently, South Africa is one of the largest sources of foreign investment in Africa, which bodes well for future economic relationships, as Tanzania works to strengthen its ties to this nation and on the continent more broadly.

As a whole, Tanzania’s foreign relations center on economic and trade advancement, and on development projects to help improve struggling sectors; however, there are apparent differences in its relations with different partners. Regionally, Tanzania’s relations with partners like South Africa and Kenya are centered on mutual economic improvement and to secure future competitiveness in global markets. Whereas, with China and the US these relations are far more dependency oriented and based on aid to Tanzania for development projects. Tanzania’s relations with China compared to the US also differ, with the former centering on both trade agreements and aid, as opposed to just aid and developmental support as seen with its ties to the US. Tanzania’s foreign relations with its key strategic partners are changing, especially as more African powers emerge, which will affect its own regional partnerships and, will no doubt also influence its relations with China, potentially further weakening their traditional ties. (esp. pages 10-12)

Posted in Country Post | Comments Off on Foreign Relations in Tanzania

Journal 6

Due to its tumulus history, Somalia is forced to depend on the international community for financial assistance as well as support militarily in countering Al-Shabaab. In addition, a great deal of states through international organizations such as the United Nations has contributed resources in order to help stabilize the territory.

China has allocated a limited amount of resources in order to assist the Republic of Somalia but is just recently becoming more of a major contributor. Somalia and China have primarily interacted because of economic and trade relations but the relationship was severely strained during Somalia’s civil war. However, following the establishment of the Republic of Somalia in 2012, China has become much more active diplomatically and pursued various developmental projects in Somalia primarily revolving around infrastructure. This aligns with China’s grand strategy as the state has become incredibly active in both South America and Africa in attempts to strengthen its economy by providing jobs; and begin to shift the balance of power by advancing critical partnerships with countries primarily connected to western powers. In line with other foreign powers, China has also provided debt support and economic assistance, collaborating with world powers such as the United States to avoid having a failed state. Unlike other world powers, China has not provided military support in order to fight the international terrorism that has taken hold in the region.

On the other hand, the United States has been much more involved particularly after the civil war in a variety of different capacities. The United States is dedicated to assisting in the fight against international terrorism as Al-Shabaab controls a considerable amount of territory within the state. The United States has made it a priority to help stabilize Somalia in fear of a failed state full of violent extremism and the implications that has to the rest of the international community. The U.S. State department claims that, “the U.S. has provided over 1.5 billion in humanitarian assistance since 2006,” (state department) as Somalia’s economy is largely inactive. The U.S. is not taking a unilateral approach to this problematic situation in Somalia however, and is working with the United Nations and the African Union. This approach has allowed the United States to provide both financial and military support without overextending certain resources. Ultimately, all of this assistance is being done with the goal of eradicating or containing international terrorism in the Horn of Africa and bring further stability to the region.

Lastly, the United Kingdom has also played an integral role in providing critical assistance to Somalia through both economic and military aid. England has taken the lead in particular in part because of the state’s history with Somalia during the colonial era. England has also constantly worked with the UN, AU, and the United States to create counterterrorism strategies as well as support the Republic of Somalia economically and with issues of human security. The rest of the United Kingdom has been in step with these foreign policies and stressed a multi lateral approach from the international community.

Overall, the international community has followed the United States and United Kingdom in ultimately providing the resources necessary for Somalia to begin to transform its government and help the local communities. The primary priority among the majority of the IC community is to fight terrorism, which has grown substantially in Somalia. Once this issue of security is addressed, more assistance will be provided economically with the goal of Somalia fully becoming a stabilized state.


Posted in Country Post | Comments Off on Journal 6

Botswana and the importance of foreign countries

Though China’s rise in Africa has been a common refrain, in Botswana China does not appear to have an especially prominent role. Rather, there is a diverse medley of foreign states that matter to Botswana in varying degrees along economic and sociopolitical dimensions. India, Belgium, and South Africa can be seen as having the most economic importance to Botswana, while South Africa and the United States hold the most sociopolitical significance to the country.

China does have an economic presence in Botswana, primarily in investment in construction and retail. Over 20 Chinese construction companies are working on projects in Botswana, including a construction of the capital’s airport and power plants. However, despite this involvement, China is not a very significant trading partner: it is not in the top ten receivers of Botswanan exports, and is only the seventh-largest source of imports. The country’s top export partners are instead Belgium, India, and South Africa. Because exports are the main sector of Botswana’s economy, these states can thus be seen as being the most economically important. Therefore though China has a presence in Botswana, it is not a singularly dominant economic actor as in some other African states.

Further, beyond purely economic terms, China does not have a strong social or political pull in Botswana. The states do not have significant cultural or security relations; for example, China does not give scholarships for students to study in China as it does for other states. Additionally, Botswana has exhibited strong agency in its relationship with China, causing strains. The Botswanan government has criticized Chinese construction companies’ performance on government contracts and criticized China’s actions in the South China Sea, leading China to close its embassy in Botswana. Thus clearly Botswana does not feel reliant on China and does not view China as a crucial strategic or political partner, as it is willing to risk their relationship with this criticism.

South Africa and the United States are thus more important than China in terms of social and political dimensions. In addition to the economic importance of South Africa to Botswana, South Africa is politically a key state because of Botswana’s desire for economic and political integration of the Southern African region. And because of their shared border, South Africa is crucial to Botswana’s security concerns. Further, though the United States does not have a comparatively large economic importance to Botswana, a plurality (27%) of Botswana’s population view the United States as having the most influence on their country, indicating the prominence of the U.S. in Botswana’s society. Additionally, Botswana and the United States have recently entered into several security and military partnerships, and the United States has a large humanitarian role in responding to the AIDs crisis.

Overall neither China, nor any single state, holds a dominant importance to Botswana; rather Botswana’s economic and political interests are differentially impacted by a composite of diverse countries—including regional powers such as South Africa, Western states such as the United States and Belgium, and other developing countries such as India.


Youngman, Frank. 2013. Strengthening Africa-China Relations: A Perspective from Botswana. Center for Chinese Studies, Stellenbosch University.

Corkin, L. 2015. African Agency in the Context of China-Africa relations. African East-Asian Affairs. 

Posted in Country Post | Comments Off on Botswana and the importance of foreign countries

Uganda’s Foreign Relations

Uganda maintains three relationships that matter most: United States, Russia and China (in order of importance). The United States provides Uganda with more than half of its aid. This provides assistance for health, the global war on terror and education. Uganda has relied on this aid since Museveni came to power in 1986, but today is shifting its allegiance in favor of development. Both Russia and China are hoping to gain influence in the region and in Uganda. Russia has had ties with Uganda since the Soviet era and looks to continue to build on them. Today, Russia is focusing on the energy sector in its development. Russia has already reached a deal to build a $3 billion dollar oil refinery to harvest some of the newfound oil in Uganda. In addition to energy development, Russia also supplies Uganda with weapons for the military.

With China growing economically and militarily in the new millennium, Africa has looked for help. Museveni’s increasingly polarizing bills (such as the anti-homosexual bill) have changed the relationship with Western backers. Uganda is attracted to China because it has a history of not interfering with internal policies. So, the US condemns Uganda’s internal policies and even cut aid in 2012, while China remains silent. Russia also remains silent in terms of internal politics. China also reached a deal to construct an oil extraction field in Uganda. Besides natural resources, China also started to build a railway to link Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda. Ugandan construction work is continuously awarded to Chinese companies and employs Chinese citizens. This development is seen as symbiotic because Ugandans are also employed and obviously enjoy the finished products.

Uganda has moved towards development, which has transitioned Uganda’s foreign relations. The US gives aid to Uganda for health and counter-terrorism. Russia and China give aid for economic development and resource extraction. The major difference here is growth. Uganda is a growing player in the Great Lakes region and Yoweri Museveni would like to keep it that way. With questionable domestic policies, Uganda will continue to enhance relations with China and Russia. It seems the US judgment of internal Ugandan politics has pushed Uganda towards these two other great powers. China and Russia are both hoping to expand their influence in Africa and more specifically the Great Lakes region. If the US hopes to continue to influence Uganda, it must change its purpose and aid. The US would need to give economic aid to Uganda and stop passing tis judgment of internal policies. That being sad, the US may continue to help Uganda in health and education aid, while Russia and China aid development and growth. I would argue though, that at this pace Uganda would eventually get health and terror aid from China or Russia. Conflicting ideologies and governments have flooded the country and the US is seemingly becoming less important.With a new US foreign policy, the US may become irrelevant in Africa, specifically in Uganda. So, China and Russia will look tod deepen relations with Uganda.


Posted in Country Post | Comments Off on Uganda’s Foreign Relations

The “State Capture”- South Africa

This article discusses the current allegations facing President Jacob Zuma of South Africa on corruption. The article provides a report by “the former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, detailing a disturbing web of influence exerted over parts of the South African state by a powerful family of Mr Zuma’s chums.” Zuma’s wealthy friends are influencing government decisions such as the appointment of ministers. This shows that leadership in South Africa is also characterized by what we see in Sub-Saharan African: a clientelist structure.

Here is the link:

Posted in Country Post | Comments Off on The “State Capture”- South Africa

News Post: The fees must fall movement in South Africa

This article by a South African professor discusses the current protests–termed the “fees must fall” movement–at many South African universities over rising tuition costs and the persisting racial and economic inequality in obtaining higher education. These protests have been ongoing for over a year, with at least 16 of South Africa’s 26 universities shut down or seriously affected.

Posted in Country Post | Comments Off on News Post: The fees must fall movement in South Africa

The danger of a “single” narrative and its effect on Congo.

Séverine Autesserre did a great job explaining the unintended consequences of three dominant narratives that were used to explain the war in Congo (Zaire). I believe that international actors should be extremely cautious before intervening in dire situations such as the conflict in Congo. As much as external help is needed, international actors should first try to seek adequate knowledge about the crisis at hand, and they should also be cautious not to propagate pre-existing and potentially harmful ideas about a people or a country or a culture.  I argue that the crisis in Congo would have probably ended in less than five years if the international community had not focused on telling a single story about Congo.

The first dominant narrative Autesserre focused on was the acclaimed cause of war in Congo, which foreign agencies claimed to be the illegal exploitation of minerals. She explains that European advocacy NGOs were the first to publicize this narrative. Some people believed that minerals in Congo generated the involvement of Rwanda. Some have also attributed minerals to be the source of funding for armed groups. Due to these reasons, international organizations amongst other actors alluded that the availability and illegal mining of minerals in Congo caused the war. They have also continued to spread this dominant narrative, which was attractive to many people since it played into the notion of the ‘resource curse’. Isolating one factor and identifying it to be the sole cause of such a large scale war (as it is comparable to World War 2) is problematic and also a short cut to identifying and solving problems. This shows a lack of initiative by the international agencies to dig deep and unearth the root causes of problems before committing to them. It also negates other factors which could be crucial in lessening the development of a war. For example, grassroots antagonisms, corruption, and the state of the government. Maybe trying to solve grassroots antagonisms would have prevented the multiplication of armed groups and hence slow down the intensification of the war.

The second dominant narrative explained is sexual violence as a consequence of the war. This narrative not only placed women, girls, and young boys at risk of being used as bargaining tools and hence worsening the situation instead of preventing it, it also ignored other forms of violence such as non-sexual torture and killings. In addition, donors and aid workers began using this narrative as a catch phrase when requesting funds. The latter result led to misuse of funds as some people victimized others i.e. by lying about rape in order to get a lot of funding for projects, while some Congolese women realized that they had to lie about being raped in order to get medical attention, which is just undignified. Margot Wallstrom termed Eastern Congo as “the rape capital of the world.” These narrative is dangerous because it did not prevent sexual violence but instead escalated it. Furthermore, it reinforced the idea that Congolese people are barbaric. If this narrative had been deconstructed, soldiers would not use it to negotiate terms, and hence they would have less bargaining power thus making them lose relevance.

The third dominant narrative saw state building as the solution to this wreck. I disagree with this solution one cannot mend something with a broken foundation. Maybe Congo cannot work with a democracy, can we find a new or different form of government in which its people will still be governed. We live in a world full of options and new ideas, thus it is lazy to claim that there is no other solution for Congo without dedicating studies, research, experiments to the cause.


  1. Autesserre, Séverine. African Affairs; Dangerous Tales: Dominant Narratives on the Congo and Their Unintended Consequences. (2012)



Posted in Reading | Comments Off on The danger of a “single” narrative and its effect on Congo.

News Cycle Shows How Aid Actually Works (or doesn’t…)

When scrolling through the NYTimes database for some contemporaneous news having to do with the case studies for my research project, I kept finding nonchalant headlines describing inept, inactive, and often destructive aid agency (Red Cross, UN) and multilateral organization (ICC) work across the African continent, and particularly in South Sudan and Sudan.

Some interesting case-study food for thought re our conversation on the efficacy of aid to actually aid and abet crises.

Some articles from the past few weeks:–> (this last one exhibiting the continuity of the trend since at least 1989)

Posted in Country Post | Comments Off on News Cycle Shows How Aid Actually Works (or doesn’t…)

Conflict in Nigeria

Internal conflict has been prevalent throughout Nigeria’s past and present. The most notable civil conflict to date was the Biafran War, which took place from July 6, 1967 until Janurary 13, 1970. This three year war was political conflict that serves as a prime example of what can result from there being complex ethno-regional, economic, religious, and cultural tensions existing within a country. When Nigeria was colonized by Great Britain, it was divided between a mainly Muslim north and mainly Christian south. Then, when Nigeria gaining its independence in 1960, three provinces were formed along tribal lines with the Hausa-Fulani residing in the North, the Yoruba in the Southwest, and the Igbo in the Southeastern region of the country. This colonial divide would only make pre-existing tensions worse once oil in the Niger Delta would be discovered and political agendas would

Following claims of electoral fraud a military coup led by Igbo army officers was initiated on January 15, 1966 and resulted in General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, an Igbo and head of the Nigerian Army, taking power as President and becoming the first military head of state in Nigeria. Although the coup itself would eventually fail due to Ironsi rallying the military against the coup’s initial coordinators, the coup was perceived as having benefited the Igbo people. With all but one of the five coup coordinators being non-Igbo, and Ironsi, himself being an Igbo, this coup was thought to have promoted many Igbos in the Army at the expense of Yoruba and Housa officers. This would lead to Northerners executing a counter-coup on July 29, 1966, led by Lt. Col. Murtala Mohammed and eventually placing Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon into power. Ethnic tensions would increase within Nigeria following both the initial coup and then counter-coup would lead to the assassination of Aguiyi-Ironsi and July 1966 and large-scale massacres of Christian Igbos living in the Muslim north in September 1966.

And, to make implications more complicated, large amounts of oil reserves would be found in the Niger River delta in the southeastern region. With the outbreaks of violence against Igbo people in Nigeria, Igbo people feared of the Hausa northerners exploiting them of their recent oil discoveries. This would ultimately cause military governor Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu of the Igbo southeast region to proclaim the secession of the southeastern region from Nigeria as the Republic of Biafra, becoming an independent nation on May 30, 1967. Unfortunately, this approach would not fair well for Biafra. After a year of fighting off the government-funded Nigerian army, Nigeria would eventually create a blockade that prevented food and supplies from entering Biafra. After an estimated 1 million Nigerians dying from this internal conflict, mainly from starvation, Biafra would surrender on January 13, 1970.

Recently, similar internal conflicts have taken place in Nigeria due to ethno-regional and economic reasons as the radically Islamic Boko Haram continues to terrorize Nigerians across the country through their violent insurgencies in an attempt to overthrow the current government in place.


Posted in Country Post | Comments Off on Conflict in Nigeria