Category Archives: Country Post

Ghana

The era of Africa is coming. According to the Washington Post article, Africa’s population will grow by a factor of 5.18 between 2000 and 2100. Population explosion in Asia after WWII is often compared with the future of Africa, but the African one in the future will be much bigger, with a greater impact on the international community. The more important part of the African population growth is the lower ‘dependency rate,’ which means that the proportion of worker-age people will also increase in coming decades. The population of Ghana, my focus this semester, would also increase with this trend.

However, the population growth itself is a double-edged sword; it can be extremely positive or very negative (e.g. civil wars in 5.18 times bigger scale). Max Fisher, in his post, argues that ‘good governance’ and ‘careful resource management’ are two important key points for the era of Africa.

Taking Professor Nelson’s course, I believe that those two key factors are also applicable and significant for Ghana. Although the Ghanaian economy has been struggling recently, Ghana must regain its international status as a ‘model country’ for African development in the near future. This does not mean that Ghana should be an African version of China or India – the most populous states in Asia. Rather, Ghana can be an African version of Singapore – small but developed and a ‘model’ for many other Asian countries.

Here, I would like to discuss three advices for Ghanaian leaders to achieve this goal.

Advice 1: Processing raw materials within Ghana

The Ghanaian economy and society are highly dependent on agriculture and mineral resources, such as gold and petroleum. However, a processing capacity of those resources in Ghana is very limited, thus Ghana has to export raw materials and import end products. For example, recently Ghana has exported a fair amount of crude petroleum to the United States, and has imported the same amount of refined petroleum. The lack of processing facilities is also severe in Ghana’s world-biggest cocoa industry.

Building the processing facilities within the country has two main advantages for Ghana. First, exporting end products (or more complicated products) brings more profit than exporting raw materials. In addition, those facilities will create more employment within the country. Considering the population will explode in coming 50 years, building more facilities and creating more employment is crucial for the stable society.

Therefore, for Ghana right now, this is where it should use foreign aid. Ghana must use it to be more independent from other states, not to be more dependent on, or addicted to, other states. Since this is a long-term development plan, strong leadership is a key factor to realize this step.

Advice 2: Establishment of a government fund

Establishment of a government fund would be another step to be a ‘model country’ for other African states. This idea came to me when I was writing my news post and analyzing how Norway had successfully managed to utilize its natural resource. But why is the government fund important? There are three reasons.

First, by gathering earnings from Ghana’s leading industries (i.e. cocoa, gold and oil) to one centralized fund, the Ghanaian government will be able to invest on other promising and/or growing industries in Ghana. This is very crucial, since Ghana is currently depending its economy on a few main industries, which cause a great instability of the economy. In order to enhance the stability of the society, which will be more and more important as the population grows, investing on various industries through the government fund is necessary for Ghana.

Second, having one government fund will increase the accountability and transparency of the Ghanaian government. Since Ghanaian citizens will know that a substantial amount of their earnings will go to the fund, the government will be more responsible to explain how they use their money than it is right now. This will (hopefully) reduce corruption within the government, breaking resource and aid curses that Ghana currently struggle.

Third, since the government fund will increase the accountability and transparency of the government, Ghana will be able to save more money in a planned manner. This will break the current “unhealthy addiction to the IMF” of Ghana.

The combination of my advice 1 and 2 will bring Ghana a ‘positive spiral’ that leads to the sustainable and stable development of the state.

Advice 3: Prevention of a neighborhood effect

If the two policies above succeed while the population of Ghana increases, that would attract a lot of attention (positive one) from the international community and also attract the foreign investment. Yet, a ‘neighborhood effect’ can still affect Ghana’s international status negatively. Even if the Ghanaian politics and society are stable, it its neighboring states remain unstable, the world would not prefer Ghana as the investment destination.

In order to prevent the neighborhood effect from intensifying in the future, Ghana must play an active role at the regional level (i.e. ECOWAS). Not only a militaristic cooperation, but also a political unification to some extent will be crucial for West Africa to rise peacefully and to be looked attractive for the rest of the world.

Throughout this course, I have learned various problems that Africa faces in detail – not only their causes, but also some possible solutions for the future. In this sense, this class has made me more ‘Afro-optimistic’ than ‘Afro-pessimistic.’ At the same time, I have learned how difficult and complicated it is to ‘actually’ implement those solutions. In fact, I do not think that my advices above will just bring positive effects on Ghana – there will be a lot of difficulties. Yet, this course made me believe that the era of Africa is coming in the future.
http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21654648-africas-former-jewel-struggles-regain-its-gleam-mighty-fallen

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Reading post

Herbst and Mills discussion of Africa hypothesizes what the possible trajectories of the continent might be leading up to the year 2020. The three suggestions made are: Africa takes charge, Africa follows, or some countries will lead while others follow. The authors however argue that this method of assessment, “ ‘good case, ‘bad case,’ and ‘medium case’ ” (Herbst & Mills 2006; 2), will not explain Africa’s path to 2020 since it can be concluded that variations will occur. Rather the authors choose to focus on “how African countries might develop depending on the extent to which African leaders themselves seize the initiative and begin to focus on important problems of the day” (Herbst & Mills 2006; 2). Therefore, the argument Herbst and Mills make is that the future outcomes affecting the country depend on governance and decision-making.

The drivers, which the authors mention for the most part, address gaps with the development of Africa that had not been addressed in the millennium development campaign. I will focus the following drivers and discuss why addressing these issues are most important: economic growth, democracy, and external environment. Democracy needs to be met in order to solve demographic and conflict crises. Freedom of political opposition will allow the public to peacefully address political contests rather than resorting to civil war. Democracy allows for government accountability, transparency, and encourages social and economic development. Therefore, people are able to pressure governments into making fair policies. In addition, countries and other actors are more likely to engage and respect one another if they are operating as democratic institutions. This will help Africa to lead by allowing countries a place at the global stage.

Furthermore, economic growth is needed for development but what’s most important is that economic growth be even between and within countries. This was not successfully addressed by the MDGs. Rather than a trickle-down approach, governments must enact policies that target the poor to build a larger middle class which the authors mention in the discussion of the peasantry. Therefore, income distribution alone cannot solve Africa’s economic crisis but an even distribution of assets might work to fix the inequalities within the country.

Finally, in regards to external environment the largest threat to Africa’s potential global leadership is the lack or shallow global partnerships. African countries, at the domestic level, can only achieve so much development since most of the countries financial support and other foreign actors control international interactions. Therefore, Africa can lead if these foreign actors change policies towards Africa. Though, the countries that will be successful are one who can leverage a bargaining chip against these actors. Therefore, becoming a democratic country is important in securing national resources that are sought out by international actors and democratization will lead to a stronger government that can not be bypassed by these actors.

 

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Recommendations for Equatorial Guinea

In advising the Equatoguinean government in their approach to engaging the world in the years to come, it is important to emphasize the need to diversify their economy and utilize their economic stability in order to cement their relations with the international community.  Both of these ideas are heavily tied to the continuation of the country’s oil wealth as well as the current political stability seen under the Obiang regime.  If this stability were to topple, as it has in many other Central African resource rich nations like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea could be a prime candidate for a resource fueled civil war.  This previous point outlines the main reasoning for Equatorial Guinea to pursue further influence in international organizations like the AU, and UN in order to help keep their peace and stability in the region.

For an export based economy like Equatorial Guinea, coming to the realization that resource wealth will not last forever is of utmost importance. This is due to the fact that without any economic diversification, Equatorial Guinea’s oil exportation can only drive the economy so far, as this Equatorial Guinea finds themselves helpless in terms of the constantly changing world oil prices set by OPEC, an organization which Equatorial Guinea is unable to join due to the fact that they are unable to produce the required 1 million barrels per day. Additionally, Equatorial Guinea has seen their GDP (PPP) drop by nearly 7% since 2012, mainly due to this lack of control in the world oil price. Despite this, Equatoguinean oil reserves continue to grow, as by 2015, the nation’s minister of oil Owono Edu Marcelino projects production to improve to around 500,00o barrels per day, which is a serious increase from the 2013 total of 313,000 barrels of crude oil per day.  With this new influx of projected revenue, Equatorial Guinea must attempt to develop alternative economic sectors, like investment in infrastructure like Middle Eastern oil giants Qatar and the UAE have since the turn of the century.  It is clear President Obiang has taken to this idea through the construction of Oyala, the proposed new capital city and financial center for the nation. Overall, President Obiang seems to have the correct idea in diversifying the Eqautoguinean economy, which as of 2015 is an economy based 98% in crude oil and hydrocarbon exportation, both of which will not last forever.

Another major theme that Equatorial Guinea must focus its resources on is expanding both their regional relationships as well as their relations with both the West and China to improve welfare conditions in the country.  Currently, Equatoguinean president Teodoro Obiang has taken steps to participate in the EU/EC program Horizon 2020 for 2016-17, which aims to improve healthcare, education, gender equality and water and sewage systems across the developing world.  Furthermore, Equatorial Guinea plans to increase relations with the US, and in particular US oil and gas companies Hess and Marathon, who in 2009 stated, ” The corruption in Equatorial Guinea has been overstated…(and) we have no problem doing business with Equatorial Guinea” (Reuters). The increase of these relations will not only help diversification goals through US foreign direct investment, but it will also aid in further cementing Equatorial Guinea’s security within the region.

As an advisor to the Obiang regime, I would push for an increase first with regional organizations and continent wide organizations, like the African Union, in order to prevent any regional discontent to topple the stability in Equatorial Guinea.  This is important because in the last decade, relations with neighboring Cameroon and Gabon over maritime oil rights have heighten and forced the intervention of both the AU and UN to prevent conflict.  Because of this, Equatorial Guinea’s cooperation with these IOs is of paramount importance, as the country of merely 750,000 citizens would struggle to combat the 22 million who inhabit the neighboring Cameroon, regardless of how large Equatorial Guinea’s navy happens to be.  Overall, Equatorial Guinea appears to be on the right track in terms of diversifying their economy and improving relations with world powers like the EU, US, and China; while also serving as a regional leader in Central Africa.

 

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ek.html

https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/files/chathamhouse/field/field_document/EG%20Q%20and%20A_kl.pdf

http://www.reuters.com/article/oil-africa-equatorialguinea-idUSN1827012320090918#PJIhIy62xQKbB8o8.97

http://www.forbescustom.com/EmergingMarketsPgs/EqGuineaHorizon2020.html

https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/news/horizon-2020-work-programme-2016-2017-published

 

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The Future of Algeria

The Algerian state will face serious economic, political, and security challenges in the future.  Although it managed to survive the Arab Spring with relatively few political concessions, Islamic-fundamentalist challenges, which have survived since the end of the Algerian Civil War, to the state and its legitimacy.  Further, the stability of Algeria’s economy, founded on oil export, may be reliable in the short term, but faces a future jeopardized by reform directed to combatting global climate change and a population resentful over the returns of this national export to the people themselves.  Finally, the Islamic fundamentalist challenge is not just political, but also violent and, potentially, revolutionary.

With regard to the first concern addressed, that of political challenges to the state, the Algerian state should look eastward to its Tunisian neighbor, who stand as a hopeful example for democracy and good governance.  Although the most serious political challenge to the Algerian state is founded on Islam, the illiberal and exclusive nature of political life in Algeria allows fundamentalist Islamic tendencies to fester as disenchantment from the populous grows.  The Tunisian state, overthrown in 2012, has since ratified a democratic constitution with a transparent political process in the aftermath of decades of corruption and autocracy.  The Algerian state has undeniably been guilty corruption and authoritarian rule; further, these two issues drive popular discontent.  Democratization and a divorce of religious and political authority should be the goals of the Algerian state if it is to survive in peace and quell equally dangerous, radical elements with sustained power in Algeria.

Algeria’s economic life, though relatively healthy in the short-term, suffers from an unbalanced economy with little diversity.  Further, fossil-fuel export, upon the Algerian economy survive, is an industry that may face serious challenges in the remainder of the 21st century.  Algeria’s reliance on oil exports presents problems not only for the future, but also ones evidenced in the past.  Reliance on oil, a commodity subject to majors “booms and busts,” led to the economic depression in the 1980s, which fed societal disenchantment and the eventually violent opposition to the state.  The Algerian state needs to focus on reform that will encourage small enterprise, which would help diversify the economy.  Further, oil export will increasing face challenges from developed Western nations, as they tend toward discouraging reliance on oil, and foreign oil in particular in the face of Global Climate Change.  While, at least in the short term, Algeria will continue to have strong oil exports to large interests like India and China, Algeria may find it harder and harder to support the country on oil wealth.

Finally, since the Civil War in the 1990s, Algeria has faced a constant, violent threat from Islamic fundamentalist interests, which have been revived in the wake of the Arab Spring.  The Algerian state needs to continue to address this issue, and is receiving support from both the United States in China in this endeavor.  While addressing the short term security issues is crucial, however, the Algerian state should continue to focus on long term issues of democratization, vibrancy in economic life, and an end to the impetuses for radicalization, a disease to the hope for a free and secular Algerian state.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algeria

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Ethiopia and the Rest of the World

Looking towards the future, Ethiopia’s biggest obstacle to overcome is domestic – the issue of governance. The ruling coalition must first be replaced, and true democratization has to occur for real growth and development to take place. Once domestic issues are on the mend, Ethiopian leaders can look towards China, the United States, and the rest of the African continent to help build the country even further.

China:

The relationship between Ethiopia and China is clearly economic more than anything, and I think that should stay the same, moving forward. More specifically, I advise Ethiopia to make the country look as attractive as possible for even more Chinese investment. This includes measures such as showing the successful completion and implementation of Chinese projects, which in turn will attract more investors, not only from China, but from other countries as well. As investment increases, I also urge Ethiopia as a country to appropriate some sort of agency so they can negotiate for more investment in other important sectors besides infrastructure, such as agriculture and food security. With respect to China specifically, I think it’s important to work with the east-Asian country through its current economic uncertainty. Ethiopia cannot afford to lose this relationship.

The United States:

In reality, I understand the bilateral relations between the US and Ethiopia is unlikely to change. There’s simply no incentive for the EPRDF to stop oppressing its people, as it currently enjoys positive foreign relations as is. However, ideally, I would urge Ethiopian leaders to tell the US that the rights of its citizens will not be compromised in the name of US counterterrorism interests in Somalia. As Ethiopia receives a large portion of its foreign aid from the US, I would advise its leaders to point to US documents and official statements that promote democracy and encourage US leaders to stick to that ideology, in the most positive manner possible. Similar to the Chinese case, Ethiopia cannot allow this relationship to suffer any adverse consequences.

Africa:

One of the most important things I think Ethiopia can do as a country in relation to the rest of the continent is help build the African Union as a more legitimate institution with more power. I truly believe that the AU has the potential to unite Africa even more, and Ethiopia, as diplomatic headquarters for the continent, can help by promoting more regional alliances, such as COMESA. Through these alliances and through the AU, Ethiopia can help solve another crucial problem that I identify as food security. As the Brenthurst Discussion papers note, donor countries are going to increasingly look towards Africa to have its own solutions, and I don’t think foreign aid is going to be given at these levels forever, so creating solutions to these problems without Western involvement is extremely important.

 

Sources:

Herbst, Jeffrey and Greg Mills. Africa in 2020: Three Scenarios for the Future.Brenthurst Discussion Papers, 2/2006.

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News Post: Population Growth across Africa

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-34188248

“What is difficult for the surrounding world is to realize that Africa will become a much more important part of the world.”

Current estimates have the African population more than doubling from 1.2 billion in 2015 to 2.5 billion in 2050. What does this mean for the rest of the world? African political, social, and economic interests will come to the forefront of global concerns.

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Recommendations for Rwanda’s leaders

2017 will be a big year for Rwanda and its future. Earlier this year, Rwanda’s parliament passed an amendment to the constitution that would allow President Kagame to run for a third term (since the latest constitution was adopted in 2003, the president had been restricted to two 7-year term limits). In October, Rwanda’s Supreme Court approved the amendment, and it goes next to a national referendum, where it is highly likely to be passed due to mass support for Kagame (in the 2010 elections, he received 92% of all votes). Widespread support for the amendment arises, in part, from the Rwandan public’s belief that Kagame’s leadership has been a major contribution to the success of post-genocide Rwanda, a “guarantor of stability and economic development” (Daily Nation). There is also fear of uncertainty over what will happen if or when Kagame leaves office. Finally, there is very little opportunity for opposition in Rwanda, as Kagame has employed various means to curb opposition parties and controls the media. All these factors combined make it probable that Rwanda will not only adopt the amendment, but also that Kagame will see another seven years (and maybe more) as the president of Rwanda.

In my previous posts, I have identified two major problems facing Rwanda and its reputation in the international arena. The first is the regional conflict in neighboring DRC, which the Rwandan government has been accused of perpetuating. Many blame Rwandan military forces for supporting rebel groups in the DRC’s resource-rich eastern provinces, as well as for illegal extraction of natural resources. In response, several foreign donors, including most notably the US and England, have withheld aid.

The other significant problem facing Kagame’s Rwanda is the increased suppression of opposition groups and the media. Out of fear of future ethnic-based violence, Rwanda’s constitution prohibits political organizations based on “race, ethnic group, tribe, clan, region, sex, religion or any other division which may give rise to discrimination” (Article 54). Such a broad definition of illegal political organizations has enabled Kagame and the RPF to dismantle—or at least significantly weaken—any opposition that does arise (the party that holds the second highest percentage of seats in parliament is the Social Democratic Party, with only 13%). This single-party, big-man rule could potentially further damage Kagame’s image on the international scene, as Rwanda continues to receive poorer scores on democracy and governance indexes (Freedom House, e.g.).

One critic writes, “If there’s any hope of Rwanda’s winning truly lasting stability, it must change course and stop fueling conflicts across its borders” (Kampf, NYTimes). Additionally, in order for Kagame to remain in mostly good standing with global leaders, he must think carefully about how he chooses to act in the future. Further involvement in the Congo, continued suppression of opposition parties and the media, and if he chooses to run for a third term, could all begin to damage Rwanda’s reputation in the global arena, which could slow foreign aid flows that contribute to the country’s economic success. Thus, domestic and regional governance improvements could have significant international implications, in that they will determine how foreign leaders perceive and interact with Rwanda. If it begins to show improvement, both by abandoning its involvement in the DRC and by easing up on silencing political opponents, Rwanda will see greater willingness on the part of international (and particularly Western) actors to cooperate, as well as greater legitimacy in international and regional institutions.

From an economic perspective, Rwanda should continue to focus on developing its domestic economy to become less dependent on foreign aid (and looted resources from the DRC). Increased attention should be directed at foreign direct investment, strengthening private sector, and increasing its domestic export base. In 2000, Rwanda’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning published Rwanda Vision 2020, a report and roadmap outlining goals and policies for Rwanda’s future. Its primary “vision” is to transform Rwanda into a middle-income country by 2020, and it identifies several areas that should be addressed, including transforming the country “from a subsistence agriculture economy to a knowledge-based society”, increasing private investment and a competitive private sector, improving governance, human resource development, and infrastructure development. In 2011, a report assessing the progress of the 2020 Vision found that most (66%) of the goals outlined in the original report were “on-track”, with the major “off-track” goals being population, poverty and the environment. If Rwanda continues to improve its domestic economy and decrease its dependence on foreign aid, it will have more political sway in international arenas and will be less restricted by imbalanced donor-recipient dynamics.

Both political and economic domestic reforms in Rwanda will thus have significant implications in its ability to influence international politics. It is easy to say what Rwanda’s leaders should do; it is another matter entirely to convince them to actually do it.

 

Kampf, “How Rwanda Threatens Its Future,” The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/17/opinion/global/how-rwanda-threatens-its-future.html?_r=2

Lagarde, “Rwanda—Taking on the Future, Staying Ahead of the Curve,” IMF:https://www.imf.org/external/np/speeches/2015/012715.htm

“Rwanda MPs approve third term for Paul Kagame” Daily Nationhttp://www.nation.co.ke/news/Rwanda-MPs-to-debate-Paul-Kagame-third-term-bid/-/1056/2788450/-/bnqbgbz/-/index.html

“Rwanda’s top court clears way for Kagame,” Reutershttp://www.reuters.com/article/us-rwanda-president-idUSKCN0S21AI20151008#5pQZTSqfaFG3CAvW.97

“Rwanda Vision 2020,” Rwanda Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning: http://www.gesci.org/assets/files/Rwanda_Vision_2020.pdf

“Vision 2020 (Rwanda)” Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vision_2020_(Rwanda)

CIA World FactBook: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/rw.html

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Senegal: a new regional leader

As the global balance of power shifts toward the East, Senegal should focus on building its economic and political ties with China, India and Nigeria; on stabilizing and promoting democratic governance in West Africa; on projecting a reputation of reliability to encourage investment; and on using its peacekeeper status to take on a larger role in continental and international bodies. Diversification of the economy will determine Senegal’s prospects as a regional leader and its ability to accommodate rapid population increases over the next century. Senegal should seek to replicate the development pattern of the four “Asian tigers” (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan) and to bolster its financial and energy sectors through technological innovation.

Economy

Africa’s population is projected to quadruple over the next century, from about 1.2 billion in 2015 to 4.2 billion in 2100. Senegal’s trajectory is nearly identical, with the population expected to increase fourfold from 1.5 million in 2015 to 5.8 million in 2100 (UN Data). Fisher explains that such rapid demographic growth could become “a curse for Africa if it doesn’t have two things that have been crucial to Asian successes: good governance and careful resource management” (7).

Senegal, despite its lack of oil resources, is one of the most stable democracies on the continent, with a government that is responsive to the threat of economic stagnation. The Plan Sénégal Emergent (PSE), implemented in 2014, shows promise of revitalizing the country’s economy, with growth projected at 5 percent in 2016 (African Economic Outlook). Herbst and Mills predict that African countries must grow at a rate of 6 percent annually to reduce poverty; a growth rate of 3 percent or lower will exacerbate social and economic grievances (3). To meet that growth percent, Senegal should turn to information and communications technology (ICT), an industry that has already proven profitable and advantageous to the country’s economic advancement. Spooner reports that, “at an average of 10 percent of GDP, Senegal’s ICT investments easily beat South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, and the world average.”

Foreign relations

Historically, Senegal’s participation in international peacekeeping efforts has shaped its foreign policy and “emphasized the non-involvement of the military in domestic politics” (Esposito, Sonn and Voll 172). Senegal should maintain its peacekeeper role on the continent and develop its leadership status in West Africa, where narco-terrorism and state fragility are the two main threats to security. West African governments are fairly weak, and in 2015 the region earned an overall governance score of only 52.4 out of 100 (IIAG). Senegal should use the strength of its democratic institutions, reaffirmed by the peaceful transition from the Wade to the Sall administration in 2012, as a means to further its regional influence. It should also pursue more active relations with Nigeria, one of its main economic partners and the largest importer of Senegalese goods after France (CIA). At the 77th UN General Assembly, Nigerian and Senegalese policy makers discussed methods to strength the International Criminal Court (Mu’azu). Senegal should broaden its focus to other regional and continental bodies, like ECOWAS and the African Union, and should work with Nigeria to stabilize West Africa. Finally, Senegal should look to China and India for new investment opportunities, but should not abandon its democratic ideology at the risk of alienating the United States, France and other traditional allies.

Thus, to enhance its position in global politics, Senegal should extend its economic ties to Asia, solidify its political ties to Nigeria, promote regional stability through democratic leadership, and use its peacekeeper role as leverage in regional and international organizations.

 

African Economic Outlook: Senegal. (http://www.africaneconomicoutlook.org/en/country-notes/west-africa/senegal/)

CIA Factbook: Senegal. (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sg.html)

Esposito, John; Sonn, Tamara; and Voll, John. Islam and Democracy after the Arab Spring (2015).

Fisher, Max. “The amazing, surprising, Africa-driven demographic future of the Earth, in 9 charts.” The Washington Post, 16 July 2013.

Herbst, Jeffrey and Greg Mills. “Africa in 2020: Three Scenarios for the Future.” Brenthurst Discussion Papers, (2) 2006.

Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG). (http://www.moibrahimfoundation.org/iiag/)

Mu’azu, Rebecca. “Nigeria, Senegal to dialogue on improving Africa, ICC relationship.” Voice of Nigeria, 18 Sept. 2015. (http://voiceofnigeria.org.ng/nigeria-senegal-to-dialogue-on-improved-africa-icc-relationship/)

Spooner, Samantha. “Viva Africa: How this West African nation became Africa’s quiet high-tech titan.” Mail and Guardian Africa, 19 June 2015. (http://mgafrica.com/article/2015-06-17-senegal-silicon-valley)

United Nations Data (http://data.un.org/)

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Madagascar: What now?

Going forth, the biggest challenge for Madagascar is governance; more specifically, the nation’s ability to enact good governance from both the leadership and citizen levels. The national government must keep its promise and commit to being a more transparent, and non-corrupt body while the citizens must become more adamant in holding officials accountable for deplorable acts otherwise they must not become compliant to the current system of patronage.

Madagascar’s record of bad governance has had severe consequences on its development, the well being of its people, and its projected image towards the international community. Bad governance and general political instability has caused the decline in economic growth over the last eight years and continue to do so (1). As a result, foreign investment into the country was temporarily withheld and has since been distributed at a glacial pace even seeming absent (2). The country’s political instability discouraged foreign investors from giving money because of the uncertainty that the new government could make and enact effective policy decisions, the persistence of civil and political unrest, as well as the new governments hostility and isolative attitude towards western countries and organizations (3). These factors along with the undemocratic transition of power in 2009 further prompted western countries and international organizations to lose confidence in Madagascar’s legitimacy as a state through their actions in stopping and blocking ODA from coming into the country and their placement of strict economic sanctions.

A comparison between the 2009 coup led by Andry Rajoelina along with the political unrest that came with his administration and Marc Ravalomanana’s presidency demonstrate what the most effective ways of earning international favorability are. The international community (most notably western nations and the African Union) antagonized Rajoelina’s administration because of his undemocratic seizure of power, his inactiveness to improve the socio and economic conditions of the Malagasy people, and his combative, egotistical manner of speech. In contrast, western countries showed more liking towards Ravalomanana and his presidency. For example, as a self-made and successful businessman, Ravalomanana secured the first single largest ODA commitment to Madagascar through the Millennium Challenge Account (MCC). The MCC pledged $110M to assist the Malagasy rural population to transition from an agricultural to a market economy (4)). The democratic transition between the former administrations to Ravalomanana’s coupled with his personal history (which demonstrated both western capitalist and American values) made this administration more favorable towards the international community. While, it can be said that the personalities of leaders influence the relationship between Madagascar and the international community, these personalities reflect the qualities of leadership and therefore can determine good or bad governance.

In addition, while Madagascar must keep good relations with western countries (since the country’s wealth is dependent on this aid), Madagascar must also build itself up to be a key African player. Again, good governance ought to make this achievable. Though, it must be stated that Ravalomanana’s administrative autonomy was limited by the relation between western states and other international organizations (e.g. the MCC fund could only be spent for certain projects). This questions brings into question to what extent should the Malagasy government be friendly with the international community?

In conclusion, Madagascar must first solve its bad governance issue. This unfortunately relies on the individuals’ willingness to make meaningful changes. Second, once this issue is resolved the government must work to make Madagascar a key player on the African continent so that it can have some leverage on the global community. Developing the economy through a sustainable approach can do this. Lastly, the government must remain favorable towards western states by maintaining democratic practices (for this is good for both this relation and for the country), but must also be weary of the possibility of becoming subservient to self-motivated intentions of the West.

(1) Economic Stats

http://www.africaneconomicoutlook.org/en/country-notes/southern-africa/madagascar/

(2) Foreign investment

https://en.santandertrade.com/establish-overseas/madagascar/investing-3

(3) http://www.state.gov/e/eb/rls/othr/ics/2011/157316.htm

(4) The Millennium Challenge Account

www.mcc.gov/

 

 

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How should Namibia engage with the world?

This answer is split into four sections related to issues I find currently interesting in Namibia.

Foreign Aid:

After months of extremely low amounts of rainfall, Namibia finally announced a water crisis at the start of December. It will be helpful for foreign aid donors to focus their attention on this crisis, helping to fix it both in the short term and in the long term. Long-term solutions could include suggestions for desalination and water collection projects. Water is used primarily for agriculture purposes in Namibia, so technology that makes agriculture more efficient, such as drip irrigation, should be introduced. Besides these projects which serve emergency purposes, general aid projects that monitor corruption, encourage transparency, and strengthen legal systems are important for improving domestic governance.

Regional Partnerships:

Due to Namibia’s small population and economic power, its influence internationally and regionally is minimal, especially in comparison to South Africa, its neighbor. However, through partnering with neighboring countries in organizations such as SADC, it can negotiate for better trading policies, especially with regard to agriculture. In addition, Namibia’s bilateral relationship with South Africa will be important in the future. Namibia is widely dependent on South Africa, so changes in South Africa’s economy directly affect Namibia as well. Dependency stems from the fact that most of Namibia’s imports come from South Africa, Namibia’s currency is pegged to the South African Rand, and Namibia imports a significant amount of its energy from South Africa. Recently, South Africa has had energy problems of its own (frequent load-shedding), which make energy imports unreliable. Poor economic performance has led to an unstable currency, subsequently affecting Namibia. Due to poor growth forecasts for South Africa’s economy, Namibia will need to focus on either stronger relations with other countries in the region (such as Angola, Botswana) or become more self-sufficient. In areas such as energy, self-sufficiency should be aimed for.

Chinese involvement:

China has heavily increased its investment in Namibia, which has led to frustration among some Namibian citizens due to unemployment issues. It will be important for the Namibian government to make sure that Namibian jobs are not replaced by cheaper Chinese ones, and to measure whether this investment will turn out to be exploitative. An example of dangerous Chinese influence is represented in Namibia’s decision last month to build a new international airport worth N$7 billion (around USD $500 million), which will be built by a Chinese construction company. Not only does this exemplify a lack of prioritization by the Namibian government (it already has an international airport), it also begs the question of whether bribes were involved to encourage the deal. The popular opinion is that there are much better places to spend N$7 billion.

ICC:

In November, The Namibian Cabinet announced its intention to leave the ICC. This is not finalized yet but is supported by the president, Hage Geingob, who has said that it is becoming an “abomination”. I would advise the Namibian government against this decision because of its human rights implications – it implies that Namibia is more interested in supporting African human rights abusers in the spirit of pan-Africanism than it is in upholding human rights. This decision will also heighten tensions between Namibia and the West, which will harm Namibia in areas such as FDI and foreign aid.

 

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