• Africa,  China,  Development,  Public Diplomacy

    Aljazeera: tsunami of Chinese commerce is sparking tension and even violence in some parts of Africa

    Earlier this month, Aljazeera screened a movie titled The Colony by Brent Huffman and Xiaoli Zhou. Huffman and Zhou explored the “onslaught of Chinese economic might and its impact on long-standing African traditions.” This economic colonization, hence the title of the film, is not without its pitfalls with minimal assimilation, integration, or perception of mutual benefit. As Huffman notes, Although there is communication between the two sides at a certain level, it is rather limited. Despite various differences in language, culture, and work ethics, the Chinese are not making enough of an effort to integrate into Senegalese society. Although the Chinese businesses have brought some benefits to the local low-income…

  • Development,  Public Diplomacy

    Aid: The Double-Edged Blade

    By Simon Anholt Foreign aid, in many ways, gives with one hand while it takes away with the other. I have often commented in the past about the unintended damage done to the international standing and, consequently, the long term prospects of poorer countries by well-intentioned charity promotion, and in particular the negative ‘branding’ of Africa by aid celebrities like Geldof and Bono. Over the decades, with the best intentions in the world, their relentless depiction of Africa as one single, hopeless basket-case has harmed the long-term development prospects of the whole continent even as it has boosted donations. After all, while many people would happily donate money to a…

  • Development

    Toilet is the new mobile phone

    From the letters to the editor in the 7 June 2010 edition of the Financial Times: Sir, As you report, “Today, more Africans have phones than toilets” (“Attitudes change to business in region”, June 4). Entrepreneurs throughout the continent have also noticed this strange truth. In some countries, a toilet is the new mobile phone – something that shows that you’ve made it. Businesses are responding to growing demand by enduring improved supply, better customer service and lower prices. The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council is encouraging this trend. The Water and Sanitation Program, hosted by the World Bank, estimates that every dollar spent on sanitation and drinking water…

  • Africa,  ICT

    Broadband hits Africa

    From Foreign Policy, a map showing increased connectivity and the importance of investing in Information & Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) in Africa. As interconnectivity between African countries increases, economic benefits are expected, especially in Kenya, which has a fast developing IT sector. Other potential impacts include education and access to media. Increased interconnectivity also means increased importance of online media. See also this 2007 global map by Alcatel-Lucent (5.6mb PDF).

  • Africa,  Public Affairs,  Public Diplomacy,  State Building

    Event: AFRICOM and Beyond: The Future of U.S.-African Security and Defense Relations

    From the American Enterprise Institute: The October 1 operational launch of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), on the eve of a new American presidential administration, provides an unprecedented opportunity to reshape U.S. strategy toward Africa. Significant attention has been devoted to the structure and functions of AFRICOM–and to its strategic communications challenges. Less thought, however, has been given to identifying the core security interests that should guide U.S. strategy on the continent or to defining the new kinds of partnership with a more self-assured Africa that are most likely to advance those interests. With its capacity for political as well as military engagement and for conflict prevention as well as traditional…

  • Africa,  China,  Public Diplomacy

    AFRICOM news

    On the heels of news that the new AFRICOM is (perhaps) initially setting up in Stuttgart comes this dig in an OpEd in China’s People’s Daily Online, US Embarrassment in Africa:

  • Africa,  China,  Peacekeeping

    China and Peacekeeping

    Stratfor published a useful chart depicting China’s increased participation in peacekeeping operations. This is a semi-regular topic on this blog.  Back in 2003, the PLA Daily, the newspaper of the Chinese Army, stated the intent to increase participation in peacekeeping operations to raise China’s global profile.  In other words, peacekeeping would be a tool of both public diplomacy and traditional diplomacy. In 2005, China was the 15th largest contributor of forces, moving earlier this year to 12th, which included increasing its contribution to 1,000 in Lebanon in 2006 for the declared purpose of raising its profile in the Middle East and in Europe. Not surprisingly, China prefers to send its peacekeepers to Africa…