All Articles (65)

In a seeming case of Chinese espionage, data has been transferred from servers in the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia to Shanghai for five years at unusual times of the day.

China had built and equipped the African Union headquarters as a gift five years ago, providing the building with all its electronic systems. In January 2017, technicians at the African Union discovered that data transfers from their servers were peaking between midnight and 2 am — when the headquarters…

The countries along the Nile and its tributaries are becoming tangentially involved in geopolitical battles emanating from West Asia. Simultaneously, a separate local dispute over the control of the Nile’s waters is beginning to bubble.

An internal Arab Sunni rivalry puts Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt on one side and Qatar and Turkey on the other. The confrontation is partly ideological – Qatar and Turkey support the Muslim Brotherhood and are close to Shia Iran,…

Africa’s startups raised a record $195 million in 2017, a sharp increase of 51 per cent, according to a report by Disrupt Africa. Almost a third of this venture capital went into financial technology, indicating an investor assumption that more and more Africans will move to mobile banking in the coming years.

Somewhat like Indians, 83% of Africans remain outside the formal sector. Some analysts believe the success of M-Pesa and similar mobile digital payments in Africa indicates many…

Indian hopes for a natural gas bounty from its offshore holdings in Mozambique have been put off until 2022. ONGC Videsh, Oil India and Bharat Petroleum control 30% of the Rovuma Area 1 offshore gasfield with proven reserves of 75 trillion cubic feet. It had originally been hoped gas production would start by 2019.

The reasons for the delay seems to be threefold. Political and economic instability in Mozambique has slowed down decision making in the country. The other consortium…

Africa took a large step towards making itself a single aviation market with the coming into force of the Single African Air Travel Market on January 28. Twenty-one African countries representing 670 million people are the initial signatories to the agreement. The SAATM includes Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya and Mozambique among its first members.

Modelled after similar treaties governing air travel in Europe and Latin America, the agreement is expected to promote…

Passengers of Turkish Airlines last month found a complimentary magazine on their seat with a cover story on the opportunity Africa represented for Turkish firms. Ankara has made a concerted bid to expand trade and investment ties with not only its traditional markets in North Africa but increasingly in sub-Saharan Africa as well. Part of Turkey’s new Africa policy, however, also derives from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s belief that his government needs to develop a larger global…

Last week South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, selected Cyril Ramaphosa as its new leader defeating the candidate backed by President Jacob Zuma. While this has been interpreted to mean the beginning of the end of Zuma’s scandal-ridden rule, Ramaphosa will find the path to cleansing the South African system long and difficult.

Zuma and his coterie, have been responsible for what is rated the most corrupt regime in South Africa’s history. An estimated $11 to $15…

How much did the global commodity downturn effect China’s economic relations with India? The first China Africa Economic Bulletin of Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies has attempted to calculate the impact.

The first shock was an enormous drop in Chinese imports from Africa. Between 2014 and 2015, Chinese imports dropped 42%, from $ 79.8 billion to $46.1 billion. The primary cause was the dramatic fall in the price of oil, China’s largest import from…

Kenya’s contested election continue to be a source of political friction. After the courts ruled that the first round of the elections was tainted, an equally flawed second round was held. In both cases, the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta emerged as the winner.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga had boycotted the second round after evidence surfaced of political interference in the workings of the election commission. He has spoken of forming a parallel government complete with a swearing-in…

Overthrow of Mugabe  

Robert Mugabe, the only ruler Zimbabwe has known, resigned on November as his party, ZANU-PF, moved to impeach him. The 93-year-old Mugabe ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years and was Africa’s second-longest ruling president at the time of his removal. His vice-president and the man behind the intra-party coup, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was sworn in on 23rd November as his successor.

His fall was precipitated by his decision to sack…

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind became the first Indian head of state to visit the tiny enclave nation of Djibouti. Djibouti recently became host to China’s first Indian Ocean military base, but reflecting its strategic location at the confluence of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden it is also home to bases by France, the United States and Japan.

Lonely Planet, however, has listed it as one of the top tourist destinations of 2018. This is because of Djibouti’s unusual geology. Says…

An Al Qaeda ambush in Niger that led to the deaths of four US Special Forces and five Nigerian soldiers has highlighted multi-nation counterterrorism efforts in the Sahel region. The ambush is likely to result in a heightened US military presence in the region. It may persuade Washington to support a larger European-backed plan for a $400 million UN military force for the Sahel.

The ambush took place on October 4th near the Mali border. The Pentagon believes “Islamic State affiliated”…

The global push for electric vehicles is set to make cobalt one of the world’s most strategically important elements. Over 60 percent of the world’s cobalt comes from one country: the sprawling central African country officially called the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Chinese firms already control most of the cobalt trade from the Congo and recently showed their intent to further tighten their grip on this all-important element. 

In late September, the Congolese Mines…

The West African state of Togo shutdown its internet on 5th September for a week. The government wished to stop youth from mobilizing online to hold protests against the reining Gnassingbe family. But the result also provided the world an experiment in what a society would do if it suddenly lost the internet.

Local and foreign media reported that the country, where WhatsApp is ubiquitous, experienced a more attentive civilian workforce, a rise in old-fashioned social interaction such…

India and Japan moved towards officially breaking ground for the proposed Asia Africa Growth Corridor during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s state visit to India. In their joint statement issued on 14th  September, the two governments spoke of working together to build connectivity in the Indo-Pacific and Africa. The statement said the two sides “welcomed the efforts to explore the development of industrial corridors and industrial network for the growth of Asia and Africa, which…

A slowly spreading scandal involving an Indian-origin business family continues to damage the reputation of South African President Jacob Zuma, the ruling African National Congress and has now begun to stain a number of major international companies. The global accountancy major, KPMG, purged the top management of its South Africa after evidence it had facilitated the crony business relationship between Zuma’s family and the Guptas. South African Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has called for…

Four African countries have or are about to experience major political change. Each also represents a different strand in the chequerboard that represents Africa’s political landscape. 

Kenya Local:  In a milestone for African democracy, the Kenyan Supreme Court  annulled the results of the August 8 presidential elections and ordered a new election to be held within 60 days. That the judgment, passed on September 1, has been accepted by the winning…

Botswana takes on Beijing: Africa missed a chance to observe the Chinese dragon bare its fangs at one of its own in mid-August. Beijing issued a series of warnings against Botswana (population 2.25 million) when a local NGO and a university invited the Dalai Lama to visit the country from August 17-19. 

Botswana’s President Ian Khama, in an interview, later said the Chinese government had warned him that they would recall their ambassador or isolate Botswana…

Mozambique:  The ruling FRELIMO party of Mozambique will head into its September party congress still struggling to defuse the crisis created by a $2 billion loan scandal. While the party’s control of the country is not in doubt, President Filipe Nyusi will seek to distance himself from the scandal, which took place when he was defence minister. The September congress could potentially choose a new party head. 

The IMF had forced Mozambique to hire the US…

On July 12, China announced the dispatch of two shiploads of armed personnel to man its military base in Djibouti. Situated in the Horn of Africa and near where the Red Sea joins the Indian Ocean, this is China’s first overseas military base and widely seen as a major step towards the People’s Liberation Army and Navy developing a permanent Indian Ocean presence.  

Xinhua, China's state news agency, said the ships had left from Zhanjiang in southern China “to set up a…

About the Author

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.