Eurasia Group 2018 Risks Group: Africa

The Eurasia Group has released its 2018 Top Risks Group which includes Africa. The following is an in-depth analysis for Africa.

Africa
Africa

THE “AFRICA RISING” NARRATIVE REMAINS APPEALING, but this year will face a new challenge. The continent’s core countries (Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Kenya, and Ethiopia, among others) have recently demonstrated robust investment climates, and they’ve been generally sealed off from the troubles of the “periphery” (Mali, South Sudan, Somalia, etc.). But in 2018, negative spillover from Africa’s unstable periphery will increasingly spoil the continent’s success stories.

The threat lies in security risks: militancy and terrorism. The dangers posed by Al Shabaab in East Africa and Al Qaeda in West Africa are not new, but they’re set to intensify. Despite losing territory in 2017, Al Shabaab is still carrying out successful one-off surprise attacks and will look to more international targets in 2018. The Islamic State is likely to increase activity in West Africa and expand into East Africa as it is pushed from traditional strongholds in the Middle East.

Boko Haram Fighters
Boko Haram Fighters

Countries targeted by militancy and terrorism are more vulnerable than they’ve been in years, and external partners are less able to provide unified support.
Target countries are more vulnerable than they’ve been in years, and external partners are less able to mount a united front of support. Local actors in “core” countries are already suffering from weakened political capacity. Kenya’s government will focus on economic recovery after a prolonged election cycle. Nigeria enters an election season with uncertainty over its current leader’s health. South Africa faces internal political strife. Angola is busy with a fresh leadership transition. Mozambique is still struggling with a years-long debt scandal.

Foreign partners who have helped stabilize weak governments in the past are distracted. In the east, a preoccupied Europe has reduced its salary support for troops of the UN-mandated African Union Mission to Somalia operating in the Al Shabaab hotspot. Across the Sahel, the G5 counterterrorism partnership of Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Mauritania plans to launch a 5,000-strong force in March 2018. But differences among France, the US, and UN officials will slow the necessary funding, leaving the region at risk, despite an injection of financial support from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The growing fragility of Africa’s top performers has several implications. Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, and Ethiopia face increased security costs at a time when their governments need to reduce spending. A spike in attacks would also undermine foreign investment perceptions already shaken by the election-related violence in Kenya, a growing social protest movement in Ethiopia, and presidential succession uncertainties in Nigeria and Uganda.

Naira-The-Trent
Nairas

Foreign investors may see their assets directly targeted. Tourist and energy installations will be especially at risk. This will put downward pressure on FDI into the continent, leaving development reliant on limited local capital. And the pressure of security-related refugee flows—on countries in the region and in Europe—will not abate, creating a headache for policymakers on both sides of the Mediterranean.

About EURASIA GROUP: 

According to its website, the Eurasia Group says it connects geopolitics and business to provide valuable strategic and operational insights. Its combination of strategy consulting methodologies, deep industry sector coverage, and best-in-class country expertise is applied to areas including:

Risk-adjusted market assessment, market prioritization, and market entry planning

Political risk assessment and messaging strategy

M&A macro risk due diligence

Enterprise risk management & process design support

Strategic risk identification and monitoring

Source: The Eurasia Group

 

Liberia’s President Visits US And Appeals For Support for Educational System

Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.A: Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is appealing for support to rebuild Liberia’s educational system, which was destroyed during the years of civil conflict in the country.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Liberian President At Clinton School of Public Service Lecture

According to a press statement from the Liberian Presidency  copied to West African Journal Magazine, President Sirleaf made the appeal on Monday, December 4, 2017, when she spoke at the Frank and Kula Kumpuris Distinguished Lecture Series of the Clinton School of Public Service of the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, Arkansas, the United States.

Addressing students of the Clinton School of Public Service and hundreds of distinguished guests who crowded the auditorium, President Sirleaf said despite the progress Liberia has made since the end of the civil crisis, the educational system has been one of the weakest areas in the country’s recovery.

Cross Sectior of Audience at Clinton School of Public Service Lecture
Cross Section of Audience at Clinton School of Public Service Lecture.JPG

According to the press statement President Sirleaf noted that progress made in upgrading the educational system has led to an increase of two million students enrolled in school. She, however, added that there is a serious deficit of qualified teachers to properly mold the minds of the young people.

“The students are so many and the teachers are so few,” the Liberian President said, adding that there is a need to give the children quality education to enable them to compete within the global community.

President Sirleaf also noted that the health system in Liberia remains a challenge that must be addressed to enable Liberians to enjoy the benefit of quality health care.
Amid thunderous applause, the Liberian leader lauded the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI)/Clinton Foundation Ebola Response for sending the largest single supply of medical materials to Liberia to combat the Ebola epidemic.

She pointed out that while many expatriates left the country in the wake of the Ebola outbreak, the CHAI staff remained in Liberia and worked very closely with the health authorities to combat the disease at the risk of their lives.

She also commended President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for their steadfast support of Liberia during the country’s post-war reconstruction, including the Ebola crisis.

Serving as moderator during the interactive question and answer period, former U.S. President Bill Clinton lauded President Sirleaf and the people of Liberia for the progress Liberia has made in its post-war recovery, and assured that the Clinton Foundation will continue to be a partner in Liberia’s progress.

President Clinton expressed the need for Americans to seriously consider developing strong partnerships with Liberia, which he described as a beautiful country with many investment opportunities. “Liberia is a good place for investment,” the former US President added.

Audience Members at Clinton School of Public Service LecturePresident Clinton also indicated that there is a need for partnership to help improve Liberia’s health system. He assured that efforts would continue to be made to assist Liberia in those two areas of critical needs, which are education and health.

Prior to the impressive ceremony, President Sirleaf was taken on a tour of the Clinton Presidential Library, which is featuring an exhibit titled, “Mandela: The Journey to Ubantu.

The exhibit, which features various aspects of the late human rights legend, the press statement concluded.

West African Journal Magazine

Gambia: Water Crisis Hit Jamali Babou Village

The Foroyaa Newspaper quoting residents of Jamali Babou, a village in the Niani District of the Central River Region North of the Gambia, say the area has been hit with a serious water crisis, as their only hand-pump well broke down.

Map of Gambia
Map of Gambia

According to the information, the residents of the village now travel over two kilometres daily to fetch water from other villages, and this is escalating their drudgery.

Upon receiving the information, this reporter visited the village to ascertain the veracity of the information.

According to Njoba Khan, the water crisis in the village is caused by the broken hand-pump well, the only available one in the village as a source of portable water.

 She said the hand-pump well was dug in 2001 and as a result of its breakdown, they have to walk for over two kilometers to get water from neighboring villages. “This long trek in search of this essential commodity daily, is increasing our drudgery and suffering,” she confirmed.

Rohey Ndow on her part, said the water crisis in the village has impacted negatively on their health because water is an essential element in life to ensure sanitary hygiene.

According to her, apart from their domestic consumption of water from the well, they also use the well to provide water for their domestic animals.

Aminta Jobe on her part, also shared the same view with others but added that Government and Non-governmental Organisations should help them address the problem to save the women from travelling daily, in search of water in other villages.

Foroyaa Newspaper, Gambia

Sierra Leone Mudslide Exposes Peril of Freetown’s Sprawl

Augustine Deen, a 31-year-old officer with the Sierra Leone Police Force, was on night duty at his post in Freetown, counting down the hours, when disaster struck.

Political Map of Sierra Leone
Political Map of Sierra Leone

In the early morning of August 14, a major mudslide hit Mount Sugarloaf, which overlooks the capital, slicing it in two. The collapse killed 400 people, with hundreds more still missing, and left an estimated 3,000 homeless.

Corpses floated in the floodwaters, while some families were forced to dig for the bodies of their loved ones under the rubble. Deen’s wife and six children back home in the Pentagon New Site slum on the mountain slopes survived, but his four brothers, sister-in-law and his nephew were killed.

Home to a little over 1 million people, according to a 2015 census, Freetown grew at the turn of the century as citizens in rural areas fled a decade-long civil war that ended in 2002.

The city was originally designed to house about 300,000 people, and it’s now struggling to meet basic needs for housing, electricity, sewage and water, said Jamie Hitchen, a policy researcher at the London-based Africa Research Institute.

Homes are being built in areas identified as “at risk,” and despite the creation of an European Union-funded Freetown Development Plan in 2014, city planning has been given little priority, he added.

FILE - A World Food Program tent is seen at an internally displaced persons camp in Regent, Sierra Leone, Aug. 21, 2017.

FILE – A World Food Program tent is seen at an internally displaced persons camp in Regent, Sierra Leone, Aug. 21, 2017.

“So far the government’s response to annual floods has been superficial and short-term,” Hitchen told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Urban management problems are one of the major causes, along with deforestation and climate change.”

Freetown, initially designed by colonial-era British administrators, has been plagued by heavy rains and flooding yearly since 2008.

Its many slums and informal settlements are built high on mountain slopes, leaving tens of thousands of inhabitants vulnerable to death and displacement when the rains come.

Builders have encroached into protected forest areas on the hills behind the city, causing soil erosion — a phenomenon that contributed to the August landslide.

Officials at Freetown City Council said there are laws to prevent illegal construction, but these are often flouted or permits obtained through bribery.

In 2014, the Sierra Leone Urban Research Center carried out an environmental assessment to map areas at risk of flooding, but the government did not act on it.

FILE - Victims of the August mudslide are gathered in a queue at an internally displaced persons camp in Regent, Sierra Leone, Aug. 21, 2017.

FILE – Victims of the August mudslide are gathered in a queue at an internally displaced persons camp in Regent, Sierra Leone, Aug. 21, 2017.

“Over the years, many people were displaced by crises, including the … civil war, so many people escaped to the city and built houses in areas where they shouldn’t,” said Cornelius Deveaux, deputy minister of information.

Cheap but risky

High levels of poverty, however, are putting slum communities at risk of disasters.

In a country where GDP per capita is $1,400 and 60 percent of people live on less than $1.25 a day, according to U.N. data, having a home is judged as more important than safety.

Parts of the Regent area where the August disaster happened remain at risk of further landslides and flooding, but many residents say they have nowhere else to go.

“The closer to the mountain you go, the cheaper [it is] to rent houses for your family,” said Salim Bangura, 38, who lives with his wife in Congo Town slum.

“Some of us don’t have electricity, but we need a roof over our head as we struggle to make ends meet,” said Bangura, who gets by peddling food and household goods.

He and his neighbors know that in a pre-election year, politicians may make promises of mass housing to get them to move, but they have been offered nothing yet.

“This is the only life we know,” he said.

FILE - A nongovernmental organization distributes meals to victims of August mudslide at the internally displaced persons camp in Regent, Sierra Leone, Aug. 19, 2017.

FILE – A nongovernmental organization distributes meals to victims of August mudslide at the internally displaced persons camp in Regent, Sierra Leone, Aug. 19, 2017.

Camps to close

All eight members of Deen’s family are living in a small tent in Juba camp, alongside nearly 500 people who lost their homes in the mudslide.

Food, clothing and medicine come mostly from relief agencies including the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), which has refurbished the only health center near the disaster zone.

Kim Eva Dickson, UNFPA head in Sierra Leone, said it was providing women and girls with antenatal care, ultrasound scans, mother and baby kits, and personal hygiene supplies.

Among disaster-hit communities living in temporary shelters, “the risks of unwanted pregnancies … sexually transmitted diseases and gender-based violence increases,” she said.

The government, meanwhile, has provided counseling for the bereaved still grieving over lost relatives and possessions.

Public resources were stretched thin by the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak that killed over 4,000 people in Sierra Leone. But the government is giving cash totaling about $171 to each family affected by the mudslide, with the last payment due in November.

It plans to close the two formal camps in mid-November, leaving their more than 2,000 residents with a choice of taking cash payments or moving to new homes being built for them.

Households that opt for cash will each get about $284 to help them rebuild their lives — enough to rent a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Freetown for a year.

FILE - A boy walks past a water supply point at an internally displaced persons camp in Regent, Sierra Leone. Aug. 21, 2017.

FILE – A boy walks past a water supply point at an internally displaced persons camp in Regent, Sierra Leone. Aug. 21, 2017.

The government has an agreement with local companies to construct 53 houses on the outskirts of the city for displaced families, and is in talks with other investors to build more homes for survivors.

This is separate from a long-term plan to create affordable housing for about 35,000 citizens in all, said Deveaux.

New homes shunned

Deen has heard the government is building free housing estates at 6 Mile on the outskirts of Freetown, but said there has been little information about the project.

Previous government action has made local people wary.

After floods in 2015, the government evicted 100 families living in Crab Town slum and moved them to a location about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Freetown.

But they were back in the capital a couple of months later, having rented out their new homes, said Hitchen.

The new housing stock was better than in the slums, but the village lacked basic amenities, work opportunities were few and people were cut off from their community networks.

“We don’t want to go to somewhere without knowing what we are getting into,” said Deen.

VOA