Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

23
Jan

 

 

Written by Alejandro Pereda, MIR 2017 Candidate

One of the most distinctive traits of IE as a community and as a space of intellectual growth, is the opportunity to interact and learn from the exemplary leaders and practitioners in the field, from individuals who actually make and execute policies, projects and who have a unique and firsthand experience of not just what is happening in the world of business, politics, economics, but who often are the agents of change and innovation. So, it was truly a great opportunity and honor for the International Relations Club in association with the Africa Club to host Hon. Mahmoud Thabit Kombo, the Minister of Health of the Government of Zanzibar (Tanzania), who shared with us the challenges that the people of Zanzibar are facing in social development and what steps are being taken to tackle these issues.

We customarily treat Africa, and in particular countries from the Sub-Sharan region, as simply underdeveloped and lacking capacity and knowledge to grow and prosper. Often, for many people from the general public, the image of Africa doesn’t go beyond the UNICEF’s donations plea or the random new headline of another corrupt politician being installed in power. However, current socio-political and economic conditions in African countries are qualitatively more complex and sophisticated than that.

Indeed, Sub-Saharan Africa does face many severe problems that we are no longer used to in the West, none more than in the area of general healthcare. As Minister Mahmoud Thabit Kombo shared with us, an issue such as widespread access to potable water is unfortunately still a major challenge in Zanzibar. A large portion of the modest budget of this nation goes to ensure that all citizens have the capacity to satisfy basic need of clean water. Professional medical coverage is another fundamental challenge that Zanzibar is struggling with. For example, there is only one active radiologist for the whole archipelago! We are looking at a one to more than a million ratio. To put this into perspective, just one large hospital in Spain might have over 10 radiologists. As Hon. Mahmoud Thabit Kombo explained to the audience, the underlying reason for this disparity is twofold: on one hand, time and financial means needed to procure appropriate talent for the scale of the healthcare system in Zanzibar are often challenging to meet. Training a medical professional from the local population, which is ultimately a goal as well for the government, takes significant time and requires an input of relatively large investment and the benefits are only seen after many years. On the other hand, retaining these professionals once they trained, becomes even more challenging as the monetary incentive that the government of Zanzibar is able to offer is often not competitive comparing with job opportunities elsewhere. Thus, there talent exodus becomes a substantial impediment in improving the healthcare system. Finally, the simple issue of funding the budget of the ministry is still relevant. Unfortunately, the budget continues to be heavily dependent on the aid: about 40% of the funds come from international aid sources. This puts obvious restrains on the capacity of the government to act at their own will on the all the issues.

Despite all these issues, nonetheless, Zanzibar was able to embark on a number of successful and progressive reforms and policies that are reversing those negative trends. One of the biggest and truly meaningful achievements has been almost virtual eradication of malaria and AIDS in Zanzibar with less than 1% of the population being affected by these severe ailments. It is hard to underestimate the beneficial direct impact of this feat on the healthcare situation in Zanzibar but also indirectly on the whole social and economic development of the archipelago by liberating the people and the society at large from impediments related to these diseases. Furthermore, Zanzibar is in the course of profound re-building and re-shaping of the overall healthcare system with the concentration on primary, basic and prophylactics healthcare which has time and times again been proven to work very successfully in developing countries. There is a focus on extending coverage through educating the population on healthcare fundamentals such as for example family planning, additional built primary facilities and increasing the human talent dedicated to healthcare services. To further this goal the government is annually allocating 300 scholarships for university level studies including health related degrees that are expected, despite the previously mentioned talent drainage, to increase the professional base for the healthcare in particular and for the society in large at Zanzibar.

The most important aspect that was discussed by Mahmoud Thabit Kombo that is encompassing all of the mentioned above, was probably the fact that African countries and societies are fundamentally repositioning themselves within the international community and in the way how they approach international cooperation and internal challenges. Countries in region are moving more and more towards local emphasis and ground up approach to design and implementation of development solutions using local talent rather than simply consuming international given tools that often have very limited impact on the given local community due to low compatibility with native conditions and which often benefit foreign interest primarily. Thus, the programs that Zanzibar for example engages now are always filtered under internal priorities before they are being accepted for implementation. This is accompanied by a central change in international partnerships that African countries are engaging: when before Europe and in general the West have been the primary sources of international aid and support in Sub-Saharan Africa, contemporarily what used to be coined as South to South cooperation is becoming more and more prevalent. New giants such as China and India are becoming the chief partners of development efforts in many of the countries of the region, more and more replacing the role of the traditional Western influence. For example, China is increasingly investing in Zanzibar not only from a purely economic perspective, but is additionally actively sponsoring large healthcare projects as well, for example by donating 16 million dollars for a construction of a hospital in the archipelago. Furthermore, China is opening travel and study opportunities to African societies that are translating into changing attitudes in new generations towards what they see global centers. The challenge for Europe in this case as the Minister mentioned is that the lack of sufficient interest and involvement in Africa by Europe and West in general with increasing Chinese participation will significantly undermine the economic and political capabilities of the West in the region.

International Relations Club in association with the Africa Club would like to thank Jose Piquer, Executive Director, Undergraduate Studies in International Relations, IE School of International Relations, Campus Life team all the participant sfor making this event possible.

 

25
Apr

Burundian time-bomb

Written on April 25, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Africa, International Conflict, Terrorism & Security

 

WHEN a Hutu politician says it is time to “pulverise and exterminate” rebels who are “good only for dying”, outsiders should sit up. When he talks of spraying “cockroaches” or urges people to “start work”, it is hard to miss the old codewords for massacring Tutsis. When the politician is not some obscure backbencher but the president of the Burundian Senate, the world should be alarmed.

History does not always repeat itself in central Africa, but it rhymes cacophonously. Rwanda and Burundi, two small countries with Hutu majorities and Tutsi minorities, have seen large-scale ethnic massacres in 1959, 1963, 1972, 1988, 1993 and 1994. These were not, as some outsiders imagine, spontaneous outbursts of tribal hatred. They happened because those in power deliberately inflamed ethnic divisions. The Rwandan genocide of 1994, in which perhaps half a million Tutsis were hacked to death, was meticulously planned by Hutu army officers and politicians. They did it to avoid sharing power with Tutsi rebels after a peace accord to end a civil war. They raised a militia, cranked up the genocidal propaganda and imported hundreds of thousands of machetes in advance. The outside world barely noticed until it was too late. The genocide ended only when a Tutsi army swept in to stop it, led by Rwanda’s current president, Paul Kagame. Read more…

 

Published on April 23rd in the economist.com

14
Apr

Out of Africa

Written on April 14, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Africa, Europe, Foreign Policy, International Development, Security

Agadez, NIGER — It’s Monday and that means it’s moving day in Agadez, the northern Niger desert crossroad that is the main launching pad for migrants out of West Africa. Fleeing devastated agriculture, overpopulation and unemployment, migrants from a dozen countries gather here in caravans every Monday night and make a mad dash through the Sahara to Libya, hoping to eventually hop across the Mediterranean to Europe.

This caravan’s assembly is quite a scene to witness. Although it is evening, it’s still 105 degrees, and there is little more than a crescent moon to illuminate the night. Then, all of a sudden, the desert comes alive.

Using the WhatsApp messaging service on their cellphones, the local smugglers, who are tied in with networks of traffickers extending across West Africa, start coordinating the surreptitious loading of migrants from safe houses and basements across the city. They’ve been gathering all week from Senegal, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Chad, Guinea, Cameroon, Mali and other towns in Niger.

With 15 to 20 men — no women — crammed together into the back of each Toyota pickup, their arms and legs spilling over the sides, the vehicles pop out of alleyways and follow scout cars that have zoomed ahead to make sure there are no pesky police officers or border guards lurking who have not been paid off.

It’s like watching a symphony, but you have no idea where the conductor is. Eventually, they all converge at a gathering point north of the city, forming a giant caravan of 100 to 200 vehicles — the strength in numbers needed to ward off deserts bandits.

Poor Niger. Agadez, with its warrens of ornate mud-walled buildings, is a remarkable Unesco World Heritage site, but the city has been abandoned by tourists after attacks nearby by Boko Haram and other jihadists. So, as one smuggler explains to me, the cars and buses of the tourist industry have now been repurposed into a migration industry. There are now wildcat recruiters, linked to smugglers, all across West Africa who appeal to the mothers of boys to put up the $400 to $500 to send them to seek out jobs in Libya or Europe. Few make it, but others keep coming. Read more…

APRIL 13, 2016

www.nyt.com

3
Dec

WITH the world’s attention focused on the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, there was a flurry of debate about how much more media coverage France had received than Beirut, where, a day earlier, suicide bombers sent by the Islamic State killed 43 people. In Nigeria, we expect most terrorist attacks to go unnoticed by the world.

Considering the global attention paid to the Islamic State, you would not guess that Boko Haram is actually the world’s deadliest terrorist organization, according to the Global Terrorism Index. While the Islamic State operates in an oil-rich region and directly threatens the West, Boko Haram’s brutality remains largely confined to remote, sparsely populated parts of Nigeria. The group has reinforced this isolation by attacking telecommunications towers.

At the turn of the year, the group occupied territory estimated to be the size of Belgium. In March, its leader, Abubakar Shekau, released an audio message, pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. But he has not appeared in public since then, fueling speculation that he is dead or incapacitated. And Boko Haram has been pushed on the defensive, pummeled by a coalition of troops from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger, briefly supported by mercenaries from South Africa and the former Soviet Union.

In August, I visited Yola — home to at least three camps for internally displaced persons, as Boko Haram’s refugees are known. The Yola I encountered was actually a less beleaguered place than it had been a year earlier, when Boko Haram fighters were virtually knocking on its doors, having overrun a string of nearby towns.

In Maiduguri, about 250 miles away, where Boko Haram first burst onto the national scene in a bloody uprising six years ago, the airport reopened to commercial flights in July, after being closed for about 18 months. The city’s public secondary schools, shuttered since early 2014, started reopening in October.

While Boko Haram may have been weakened, it has yet to lose its capacity to sow terror. The suicide bomb attacks — some carried out by young girls, not even teenagers — now blur with surreal intensity into one another. Many attacks go unclaimed; everyone assumes it’s Boko Haram, as usual. Read more…

Published in the New York Times on Dec. 2nd, 2015

Tolu Ogunlesi is the West Africa editor for The Africa Report and the author, most recently, of the novella “Conquest and Conviviality.”

23
Nov

mali

While most global attention has been focused on Nigeria, Mali has been West Africa’s other insurgent hotspot in recent years.
It is threatened by various armed groups – from Ansar Dine, which is linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), to Touareg separatist rebel groups. The lawlessness in Libya after Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011 led to a spread of weapons across the Sahel region of northern Africa, which fell into the hands of such groups and fuelled unrest in the region. In 2012 the handling of the Touareg rebellion prompted some army factions to stage an uprising, sparking a civil war. Jihadist groups took advantage of the situation and took control of the north of the country, imposing strict Islamic law.

The resulting fighting needed the intervention of French forces to push away the militants and regain much of northern Mali. But the jihadists are still active and have carried out numerous attacks across the country.

Key players
The most prominent group is Ansar Dine, led by Iyad Ag Ghaly. The group is linked to AQIM and has vowed to destabilise the Sahel region. Ghaly recently called for attacks on France and its interests in Mali. The group implemented Sharia law in towns it captured during the 2012 uprising, including the ancient city of Timbuktu. A new jihadist group known as Macina Liberation Front (FLM) has recently emerged in central Mali.It is linked with Ansar Dine and just last week, carried out an attack on a military checkpoint in the region of Djenne, a town 500km (310 miles) north-east of the capital Bamako. Its leader has called for continued attacks on the government. Last week, the Malian authorities said that information from members of the public had led to the arrest of one of the group’s leading financiers during an army operation in the central region of Mopti. Read more…

By Tomi Oladipo
BBC Monitoring Africa security correspondent
20 November 2015

1 2 3 17

We use both our own and third-party cookies to enhance our services and to offer you the content that most suits your preferences by analysing your browsing habits. Your continued use of the site means that you accept these cookies. You may change your settings and obtain more information here. Accept