The European Business Council for Africa

ECDPM's weekly update on EU - Africa relations and international cooperation

People with radically different working methods and approaches can be strange bedfellows but often make a great couple. Conversely, having shared priorities and declared common goals should make it easier to listen to each other. But this is not always as straightforward as it seems.

Our latest Great Insights magazine, with Jeske van Seters and Poorva Karkare as guest editors, is entirely devoted to the relationship between civil society organisations and business, and how their partnerships can help implement the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Despite some obvious differences and challenges, our contributors provide a multifaceted picture of this collaboration, offering many lessons from concrete examples.

Who should instead be totally on the same page are young people and governments when it comes to climate change. But, as you could clearly see in the eyes of 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg after her meeting with European Commission president Juncker, there is a frustrating divide between the rhetoric of European and African politicians, and the demands of young people on both continents worried about their future.

And then there are those who have always ignored each other but that are now finding reasons to work together. The European Think Tanks Group looked at how food producers, retailers and consumers are starting to engage more and more with urban planners to find ways to feed rapidly-growing cities in a sustainable manner.

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West Africa Brief
16 January - 5 February 2019| PDF

  • Niger transfers G5 Sahel presidency to Burkina Faso
  • UK’s new Joint Sahel Department
  • International conference on the emergence of Africa
  • Ghana: Year of return for African diaspora
  • Gold at the crossroads
  • What a Waste 2.0
  • The war against schools in the Sahel
  • Ibrahim Coulibaly, ROPPA president
  • West Africa’s growth prospects remain strong

The Week of 15 – 22 February 2019

ON OUR RADAR
Four conflict trends as seen by Crisis Group analysts

India-Pakistan: A 14 February suicide attack by Pakistan-based militants in Indian-administered Kashmir killed more than 45 Indian soldiers. Crisis Group expert Laurel Miller says it is the worst terror attack in Kashmir for over three decades and could spark a sharp escalation in conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbours if India opts for even a limited retaliatory strike.

Russia-Ukraine: The EU sanctioned eight Russians on Monday in connection with Moscow’s 25 November use of force against Ukrainian naval vessels in waters off Crimea. Crisis Group expert Katharine Quinn-Judge says maritime tensions continue to simmer following this week’s Russian live fire exercises south of the peninsula, which signal Moscow’s preparedness to use force to defend its 2014 annexation.

Sudan: Two months of anti-government street demonstrations continue to grip Sudan. Crisis Group expert Murithi Mutiga says the movement has kept up its momentum and participation has grown geographically and across socio-economic classes, leading to a stalemate between the government and protesters.

Venezuela: President Maduro, who denies there is a humanitarian crisis, rejected aid from countries that recognise Juan Guaidó as president. Crisis Group expert Phil Gunson says armed forces have been ordered to block supplies at the border, and that there is little sign of the opposition realising its hopes that a moral dilemma will split the military and cause some to abandon the president.

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ECDPM's weekly update on EU - Africa relations and international cooperation

Controlled blackouts in South Africa are continuing this week, to ease the pressure on its national power grid. The broader puzzling question for the continent is why, while being endowed with a wealth of renewable and non-renewable energy sources, Africa suffers from a huge deficit of supply and distribution of energy. Addressing this issue was the logic behind the creation of a common grid and a cross-border market for ‘pooling’ electricity. Alfonso Medinilla, Bruce Byiers and Karim Karaki have looked at African power pools to highlight the advantages and obstacles for this type of arrangement.

Diverging national short-term priorities often trump regional commitments and cooperation. This has been a thread throughout most of our work on the political economy dynamics of regional integration in Africa. With Fabien Tondel’s paper, we move from energy to livestock. But the message remains similar: despite the obvious advantages of tackling environmental, social and economic challenges at the regional level, we are still far away from a truly transnational approach.

Finally, San Bilal has looked at the European Fund for Sustainable Development ​Plus, one of the main pillars of the EU’s next long-term budget proposals to attract private investment.

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The Week of 8 – 15 February 2019

ON OUR RADAR
Four conflict trends as seen by Crisis Group analysts

South Sudan: A government offensive launched in mid-January in the Equatoria region against rebels who refused to sign the peace deal continues, displacing thousands who describe widespread brutality against civilians. Crisis Group expert Alan Boswell says the repressive counter-insurgency is marring the recent gains toward peace and risks driving rebel recruitment and an escalation of hostilities.

Libya: The Libyan National Army (LNA) consolidated its control of the Al-Sharara oilfield in south-western Libya after local guards previously loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) vowed to work under the LNA’s authority. Crisis Group expert Claudia Gazzini says Haftar’s increased military influence in the region could trigger a renewed power struggle with Tripoli-based authorities over the distribution of oil revenues.

Cameroon: An uptick in separatist violence in Anglophone regions killed several dozen people since Saturday and targeted the convoy of the governor of the Southwest region. Crisis Group expert Richard Moncrieff says the flare-up is related to the 11th February “National Youth Day” celebrations and the ten-day lock-down imposed by some separatists.

Iran: The U.S. co-hosted a Middle East conference in Warsaw on Wednesday and Thursday. It was promoted by Washington as a wide-ranging exchange on regional issues, says Crisis Group expert Ali Vaez, but participation and discussion largely focused on countering what the U.S. and its allies see as the threat posed by Iran.

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ECDPM's weekly update on EU - Africa relations and international cooperation

The 32nd African Union summit has just come to a close. Thus ended a busy two days with a packed agenda ranging from how to address funding gaps – a key issue for the Union which was spearheaded by outgoing AU chair Paul Kagame – to the progress on Agenda 2063 and the state of play of the African Continental Free Trade Area. The new chair, Egyptian president El-Sisi, has now officially taken over for 2019 and the decision was taken to have South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa as chair in 2020.

As usual we are here to help you connect the dots. To give you a sense of the challenges surrounding the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, Sean Woolfrey, Philomena Apiko and Kesa Pharatlhatlhe have looked at two countries in particular: Nigeria (which still has not signed it yet, but might do so soon) and South Africa (which did sign it but with some hesitation). These two countries are good examples of how different approaches and domestic priorities can and will influence the future of the agreement.

Also, following his paper on the finances of the African Union, Jan Vanheukelom wrote a blog looking at prospects of new AU chair El-Sisi being able and willing to carry on Kagame’s legacy.

Finally, we are looking for two new colleagues to join our Economic and Agricultural Transformation team. The details are below. As ever, don’t hesitate to share these vacancies in your networks.

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How are Africa and China engaging, and how will the partnership evolve?

Field interviews with more than 1,000 Chinese companies provide new insights into Africa–China business relationships.

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High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini is travelling tomorrow on a landmark visit to countries in the Horn of Africa region from 9 to 13 February.

Federica Mogherini will begin her visit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where the African Union Summit is taking place and she will meet several Heads of State or Government in the margins. In Ethiopia she is due to meet President Shale Work Zwede and Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed, among other members of the Government, to discuss further strengthening the EU-Ethiopia partnership. The High Representative/Vice-President will also visit EU funded projects supporting the International Organisation for Migration together with Director General Antonio Vitorino.

Continuing her visit in the Horn of Africa, Federica Mogherini will visit Kenya, where she is due to meet President Kenyatta and members of the Kenyan government. In Kenya, she will also launch a cross border programme, meet with representatives from the UN Habitat and UNEP, youth and civil society groups as well as inaugurating the new EU Delegation offices in Nairobi.

She will conclude her visit by travelling to Djibouti to meet President Ismail Omar Guelleh and other members of Government, as well as visiting Member States' military bases operating the EU's ATALANTA maritime security mission. Press points during the mission will be made available on EbS.