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H I G H L I G H T S

•  CHINA’S AFRICA STRATEGY

CHINA’S AFRICA STRATEGY

Based on the writings of Chinese stategists, Nadege Rolland of the Washington-based National Bureau of Asian Research concludes in the report “A New Great Game? Situating Africa in China’s Strategic Thinking” that Beijing has an emerging, but seemingly informal, strategy regarding Africa. China “aims at making the continent fit into a new subsystem comprising much of the ‘global South’ that China aspires to dominate.” By pers

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H I G H L I G H T S

•  NIGERIA ON THE BRINK
•  COVID THIRD WAVE
•  POLITICAL UPDATE
•  DARK SIDE OF INDIA IN AFRICA

NIGERIA ON THE BRINK

Embattled Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari asked the United States for assistance to tackle a spreading wave of insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and secessionist violence that is threatening to undermine Africa’s largest country. Reports that Buhari had gone as far as to ask the US secretary of state Tony Blnken to move the headquarters of the US African Co

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MOZAMBIQUE LNG PLAN ON HOLD

Mozambique’s $24.1 billion Afungi liquefied natural gas (LNG) project received a major setback after French energy firm Total put construction activities on hold following renewed attacks by insurgents. Indian firms Oil India and ONGC Videsh together own a 30% stake in the terminal, the largest Indian investment on the continent.

Total closed down the terminal site and cancelled all construction contracts after a force of about 100 insurgents overran the nearby port o

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INFRASTRUCTURE STIMULUS

AU & AFC New Push. The African Union is setting up an infrastructure fund to help bridge the continent’s infrastructure financing deficit of $ 60 to 90 billion a year. Raila Odinga, African Union’s high representative for infrastructure, said the continent was facing infrastructure financing difficulties thanks to donor fatigue and higher debt levels. China, one of the biggest external funders of infrastructure in Africa, has sharply reduced its funding because of fears o

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100,000 COVID DEATHS

Africa passed 100,000 confirmed Covid-19 deaths this month with signs the continent’s healthcare systems are struggling to contain the virus. “We are more vulnerable than we thought,” the director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong. Lack of oxygen, ventilators and other medical equipment is proving to be a major issue. The continent’s leaders have also complained they are last on the list when it comes to the supply of Covid vaccines,

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ETHIOPIA’S POWER SHIFT

The Ethiopian Federal Army has retaken control of most of the rebellious province of Tigray following fighting that began in November. Pockets of resistance continue in the mountainous region, leading to new waves of refugees crossing the border into Sudan. Ethiopia has deployed more troops and built fences along its Sudanese border area to block refugee movement. The presence of Eritrean soldiers in Tigray, working in tandem with Ethiopian troops, has been confirmed and

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Ethiopian Province Rebels

A spreading military confrontation between the Ethiopian regime of President Abiy Ahmed and the Tigrayan provincial government could become a larger regional struggle, drawing in neighbouring Eritrea and Sudan. 

Tigrayans, a small ethnic group in northern Ethiopia, wield disproportionate political influence thanks to their lead role in overthrowing the military regime in 1991. Since then, Ethiopia has been ruled by a coalition of regional parties representing the major

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COVID May Force Zambian Default

Zambia may be the first African government to default on its sovereign debt because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Zambian President Edgar Lungu’s government is seeking “the suspension of debt service payments for a period of six months” from private creditors holding around $3 billion in international bonds. Zambia blamed “a combination of declining revenues and increased unbudgeted costs caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.” Bondholders will meet with Zambian officials

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Crises in the Sahel

Mali coup. A military coup in Mali highlights the multiple challenges facing the governments in Africa’s Sahel region: multiple Islamicist insurgencies, tribal conflicts over water and land, and overall environmental degradation thanks to climate change.

Mali’s embattled president, Boubacar Keita, was overthrown on August 18 by military officers who say they will rule for at least three years. The crisis combines two trends, one in the Sahel and the other among Francophone

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Seven COVID Risk Profiles
 
A detailed study of the Covid-19 pandemic in different African countries showed a distinct set of risk profiles as determined by four factors: international exposure, urban population, age and press freedom. 
 
Gateway countries had high levels of international engagement including tourism and trade. This group of countries, which comprise the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa and Algeria, account for 64% of all reported Covid-19 cases and

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African Supply Chains Go Local
 
The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted supply chains for foreign goods into Africa and made local entrepreneurs recognize the need to prioritize local manufacturing. Many retailers in Africa had simply imported goods, flying in products from China and India and then reselling them. British property consultancy Knight Frank showed in a recent study that transport costs constitute 50-75% of the prices of African retail goods.
 
"People want to get rich quickly, so the

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Covid Helps Somalia Consolidate

The Somali government is using the pandemic to strengthen its legitimacy at a time when its control of the southern part of the country is challenged by Al Shabaab, an Al Qaeda affiliate, and the northern areas of Somaliland and Puntland are quasi-independent. 

One, the Somali authorities, arguing they needed to spend their funds on responding to the virus, persuaded European governments to pay off their outstanding $ 500 million debt to the World Bank and African D

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Africa And COVID-19
 
First Recession in 25 Years: The Covid-19 pandemic and the commodity and tourism crash it has triggered will push Africa into a recession for the first time in 25 years, said the World Bank. Africa may be the worst-affected continent by the present crisis. 

The World Bank calculates sub-Saharan Africa will see growth fall from 2.4% in 2019 to between -2 to -5% this year. The Bank’s vice-president for Africa, Hafez Ghanem, said, “African countries are likely to be hit partic

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Pandemic Arrives in Africa
 
By the end of March, the World Health Organisation had confirmed 4,351 cases of Covid-19 and some 135 deaths across Africa. The continent's under-resourced health services has made the virus’s spread in the continent of particular concern. WHO says its statistics are “likely to significantly underestimate” the true number of cases. Forty-six countries have been affected on the continent. A number of African governments, such as Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Zambia, hav

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Africa Digest | February 2020

US Visa Blocks Undermine Policy

The United States continues to send crossed-signals regarding its policy to Africa. On one hand, the Trump administration controversially issued visa restrictions against citizens of four African countries and is preparing to reduce US involvement in military operations in the Sahel region. On the other, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right after the Munich Security Conference, travelled to Senegal, Angola and Ethiopia - to make the case for stronger economic r

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Africa Digest - November 2019

Focus: Terror Threat Widens in West Africa
 

Islamic State and Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist groups upped their attacks across the Sahel region of West Africa in November and December, feeding off local ethnic and resource disputes. The year 2019 saw a record 700 attacks in the central Sahel region of the continent.
 
A twin attack on Christmas Eve in Burkina Faso against a military base and the town of Arbinda left 42 soldiers and civilians dead. Though no group has claimed responsibility, the

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Africa Digest - Oct. 2019

China’s Bagamayo Problem

Africa is known as a nodal point for China’s Belt Road Initiative, especially the continent’s Indian Ocean littoral.  Chinese influence on the continent has grown substantially as a consequence and Africans have expressed strong approval of China in surveys. Lately, however, falling commodity prices and greater scrutiny of Chinese debt requirements have resulted in political and commercial problems for some of these investments. These are some of the more recent examples

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Africa Digest - September 2019

Tech in Africa

Naspers is second largest e-investor in India

South African fund, Naspers, is the second-largest overseas internet investor in India having put in $ 4 billion over the past five years. In an interview with The Economic Times, the head of Naspers Bob van Dijk, indicated India would remain a key market for the company which is now second only to SoftBank in the number of internet investments in the country. 

Naspers globally has a market capitalisation of $ 100 billion and represent

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Africa Digest - August 2019

India's Mozambique Gas Investment Cleared

A consortium of Indian firms and their partners in late June made the final decision to invest $ 20 billion to build a liquid natural gas terminal in Mozambique for the Rovuma Offshore Area 1 gasfield. Indian firms hold 26% share in the investment. The first gas shipments are expected in 36 to 48 months from now. Rovuma has over 2 trillion cubic metres  of gas, equivalent to roughly 70 years of India’s present annual gas consumption. The terminal will co

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Africa Digest - July 2019

Africa Shrugs Off Huawei Concerns

Despite reports that Chinese equipment was behind a data security breach in its secretariat early last year, the African Union in May signed a new memorandum of understanding on ICT cooperation with the controversial Chinese electronics firms Huawei.  Even as the United States and other Western governments introduced bans on Huawei’s equipment, the Nigerian president visited one of the Chinese firm’s Beijing research centres in late May. The governments of major

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About the Author

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times, and Distinguished Fellow & Head, Strategic Affairs, Ananta Aspen Centre

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri writes on political, security, and economic issues. He previously wrote for the Statesman and the Telegraph in Calcutta. He served on the National Security Advisory Board of the Indian government from 2011-2015. Among other affiliations, he is a member of the Asia Society Global Council, the Aspen Institute Italia, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and the Mont Pelerin Society. Pramit is also a senior associate of Rhodium Group, New York City, advisor to the Bower Group Asia in India, a member of the Council on Emerging Markets, Washington, DC, and a delegate for the Confederation of Indian Industry-Aspen Strategy Group Indo-U.S. Strategic Dialogue and the Ananta Aspen Strategic Dialogues with Japan, China and Israel. Born in 1964, he has visited over fifty countries on five continents. Mr. Pal Chaudhuri is a history graduate from Cornell University.