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Somalia: Everyday tragedy in the Horn of Africa

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In the Horn of Arica lies Somalia, a country that is intertwined with widespread lawlessness, ineffective government, terrorism, crime, and stagnation of development.

The country is ranked second based on Found for Peace Fragile States Index. From 2005 Somalia was between fifth most fragile states in the world and in this year it is the first year since 2008 that it was not on the first infamous place. Social, economic, political and military indicators show a state with high corruption, government ineffectiveness, and no political participation, low level of democracy, high poverty, economic decline and power struggles. For an estimated population of more than 7 million, comprising of 6 major Somali clans and other groups’ and 18 regions, history and even foreseeable future will include many challenges.

Somalia has been without a formal parliament for more than two decades since the overthrow of President Siad in 1991 by opposing clans. No agreement has been reached on replacement and clan warfare and collapse of the state began. In the same year north-west part of the country unilaterally declared the independence of the Republic of Somaliland. It has not been internationally recognized, and Somaliland has no formal diplomatic relations and presence in international forums, but this part of the country remained stable in comparison to others. Somaliland experienced many setbacks, wars, embargos on imports by the Gulf States, the return of refugees and territorial disputes, but it has an elected government, control over its borders and other attributes of a sovereign state. In 1998, before the Somaliland was declared the Puntland Federal State of Somalia emerged. It is a form of ethno state. It was founded on the unity of the Harti clan. Between mentioned two self-declared states are many territorial disputes. Puntland was also recently known as the home of Somali pirates, but both mentioned self-declared countries have in recent history put in place strict laws against piracy and pirates.

A lot of international interest and actions have been put into stopping piracy at the coast of Somalia. Most media have constantly reported about piracy as a threat to international shipping in the Gulf of Aden and not much have been said about piracy as a consequence of poverty and pollution. Some of the second is also on European hands, since European firms’ illegally and immorally dumped toxic industrial waste in exchange for payment to Somalia. On one hand piracy caused great economic losses with hijacking, taking longer routes and attacks on ships, but on the other it was a desperate move of the citizens that saw a way of survival. Piracy resulted in some casualties, various ransom paid, international condemnation, the number of pirates convicted and imprisoned. Anti-piracy measures included three international naval task forces that operated in the region: Combined Task Force 150, Combined Tasks Force 151 and European Union (EU) naval tasks with name Operation Atalanta – EU Naval Force. Most of the population saw piracy as just cause since their waters were polluted by foreign vessels and have interrupted fishing costumes and last but no least even dumped toxic waste and illegal fished in their territories. Based on EU report most pirate attacks were taking place between 2009 and 2011 and have come to a near stop last year with none of the vessels held by pirates but nonetheless numerous hostages hold.

In history divided country between Italy and Britain had captured international attention after year of lawlessness, famine and massive flows of refugees in neighboring countries began, but sadly all attempts to restore peace in the country were unsuccessful. Success was not reached maybe also because of static global North framework on how to end civil and other wars through negotiations. International organizations nowadays use narrow lens and uses standard peace processes. Maybe other alternatives should be considered. Maybe al-Shaabab even though marked by the United States of America (USA) since 2008 as terrorist group can with cross-clannish, adaptability, strong resource base and young voice be part of the solution for Somalia. Because of the weakness of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and defeat of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) al-Shaabab has rapidly advanced and controls most of the South-Central Somalia. Numerous issues arise with mentioning al-Shaabab, including women’s rights, refusing of allowance of food and humanitarian aid to starving Somalis, but there needs to be engagement with the group and other Islamist groups in the country in order for the peace process to be successful. After entitlement of al-Shaabab as terrorist group cooperation with them can have judicial consequences for all participants. Al-Shaabab have gained civilian support since it have provided nominal security, stability, redistribution of wealth, health care, education, infrastructure and other basic things on the regions it controls. We of course cannot overlook violence against civilians, coercive use of the Sharia courts, but we can learn from al-Shaabab that decentralized authority work better in opposing of the centralized one. Kroc Institute of International Peace Studies alerted that al-Shaabab is not a homogeneous group and therefore cannot be looked at as a hole. The blacklisting of al-Shaabab prevents participation in the political process and discourages dialogue from all sides. Peace and sustainable nation building, reconciliation and resolution cannot be built without including of social structures such as clans kinship and Islam that are both embodied with the daily lives of Somalis people.

With no central authority or organ environmental threats are harder to fight with and are mostly not even addressed. In Somalia there are no and never were any organs or organizations that would deal with environmental problems and because of that the country is even more vulnerable. Water scarcity because of very low rainfall and very high evaporation and droughts are very frequent. That leads to water shortages, lack of food, starvations and even deaths. To make things worse, we need to add man made environmental problems such as water pollution, which results in health problems, deforestation and overgrazing results in desertification and soil erosion, furthermore problems cause also illegal fishing, urbanization and industrial toxic waste dumping in the sea. Environment in Somalia is unfortunately in degradation. The international community should therefore support governance structures to combat illegal and unsustainable resource exploitation, exports and the dumping of waste in Somalia seas or land.

Country comprise of an area known as Somaliland, Puntland, and Central and Southern Somalia has through history seen many external and foreign military interventions including foreign assistance and peacekeepers on its territory. Somalia has been also faced with international sanctions, but the United Nations Security Council recently, partly lifts the embargo posed to the state. Some progress has been made since for the first time this year since the year 1991 the United States has recognized the government.

Poverty rates are very high in the country and more than half of the population based on World Bank lives below the extreme poverty line of one dollar per day. Insecurity and droughts have attributed to the political and economic decline and chaos in the country. The population has turned to unsustainable exploiting of natural resources to survive and has led to even more environmental problems. Dependence on livestock and nomadic and pastoralist (60% of the population derives a livelihood from pastoralism-based livestock production) communities creates further vulnerabilities. Basic living conditions in the country that is among least developed in the world are in a very porous state. A lot of people are internally displaced (IDPs) because of civil war, clashes between clans and even because of environmental insecurity, food and water scarcity. As of December 2014 International Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) estimated over 1.1 million IDPs in Somalia, but having in mind that distinguishing between IDPs, economic migrants, returned refugees and pastoralists is also very challenging. Numerous failed attempts to establish peace and reconciliation inside and from the international community have left Somalia in great humanitarian crisis and so far little that has been done has improved overall situation. Why there is not any constant reporting about situations like this? Why developed countries intervene only in some cases and forget about unsuccessful operations? Why don’t we do something to prevent the suffering of millions? I am asking myself is it really all about capitalism and benefits? Is there no solidarity and human compassion left in this world and why the world just does not care anymore about Somalia that has been in this situation for more twenty years?

Teja Palko is a Slovenian writer. She finished studies on Master’s Degree programme in Defense Science at the Faculty of Social Science at University in Ljubljana.

Africa

Wagner: Putin’s secret weapon on the way to Mali?

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Soldiers from the Wagner Group (source: middleeastmonitor.com)

France is outraged at the prospect of Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group arriving in Mali. However, Paris is seeking a way out of an unwinnable conflict.

On September 13, a Reuters news agency article citing unnamed sources and reporting advanced negotiations between Mali and the Russian mercenary company Wagner sparked a firestorm of reactions. The United States, Germany, and the United Nations have all warned Bamako’s military against such collaboration. According to them, the arrival of Russian mercenaries – a thousand have been estimated – would jeopardize the West’s commitment to fighting the jihadists who control a large portion of Malian territory.

But France, understandably, is the most vocal against such a move. The former colonial power has maintained a military presence in the country since 2013, when it halted the jihadists’ advance on the capital. Florence Parly, the French Minister of the Armed Forces, visited Bamako on September 20th to warn Malian colonels in power following two coups in August 2020 and May 2021. Wagner’s choice, she said, would be that of “isolation” at a time when “the international community has never been so numerous in fighting jihadists in the Sahel”.

What the minister does not mention is that France’s commitment to Mali is waning. Emmanuel Macron used the second Malian coup d’état last June, less than a year before the French presidential election, to announce a “redeployment” of French forces in Mali. Although Paris refuses to discuss a de facto withdrawal, even if it is partial, the truth is that the tricolored soldiers will abandon the isolated bases of Kidal, Timbuktu, and Tessalit in the country’s north by next year, concentrating on the area further south of the three borders with Niger and Burkina Faso.

Europeans, who are expected to be more supportive of France, are also perplexed. The humiliation of the Western withdrawal from Afghanistan has served as a wake-up call. The Afghan government’s sudden collapse in the face of the Taliban has demonstrated how difficult it is to build a strong army and institutions. This scenario appears to be repeating itself in Mali.

The possibility of a rapprochement between Bamako and Moscow is taken seriously because Putschists in Mali have always been sensitive to Russian offerings. Colonel Sadio Camara, Mali’s Defense Minister, visited Russia on September 4. Disagreements over a reversal of Mali’s alliances are said to have been one of the causes of the Malian colonels’ second coup, which ousted the civilian transitional government last May.

Russia also acts as a boogeyman for the Malian military. According to a Daily Beast investigation, the Malian army organized a supposedly spontaneous demonstration last May demanding Russian intervention. This was also a warning to the international community, which is growing weary of the country’s poor governance and repeated coups.

Is Mali transitioning from the French to the Russian spheres of influence? Since Moscow gained a foothold in the Central African Republic, the scenario is not a figment of the imagination. Russian instructors and Wagner’s mercenaries have proven their worth in this former French backyard. Even though the UN condemns Russia’s atrocities in this conflict, the Russians were able to push back the rebels who were threatening the capital Bangui last December with the help of UN peacekeepers and Rwandan reinforcements.

The Kremlin denies any involvement with the Wagner group. However, the company is actually run by a close associate of Vladimir Putin. The use of private mercenaries allows Moscow to avoid military commitments abroad, as it did previously in Ukraine and Libya. “Russia is not negotiating a military presence in Mali,” said a Kremlin spokesman in mid-September. When questioned by the magazine Jeune Afrique on September 20th, Central African President Faustin-Archange Touadéra swore that he had “not signed anything with Wagner.” “In the Central African Republic, we have companies that were established in accordance with the law and operate on liberalized markets,” he explained.

Nothing has been decided on Wagner, it is repeated in Bamako. According to the military, the selection of foreign “partners” is a matter of Mali’s “sovereignty.” They regard these “rumors” as an attempt to “discredit the country.” The Malian junta is under siege, not only from jihadists but also from the international community. The latter is calling for elections to be held in February to return power to civilians, as stipulated in the military-agreed transition charter. Electoral reform must come before the election. However, Colonel Assimi Gota, the transitional president, has shown little interest in preparing for these elections. The Malian junta may also be hoping that Russia’s partners will be less stringent on democratic requirements.

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Africa

Google Drives Deeper into Africa

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As the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the new initiative that places emphasis on intra-African trade – including free movement of goods, capital  and people – foreign players have accordingly raising eyes on using the new opportunity to expand their operations in Africa.

Foreign enterprises are gearing up to localize production in industrial hubs and distribute their products across the borderless territory considered as a single market in Africa. Thus, by its description, Africa’s estimated population of 1.3 billion presents itself a huge market – from baby products through automobiles and to anything consumable.

Google LLC, the U.S. Global Technology Gaint, has primarily set its eyes on business, with a comprehensive plan to expand its operations into Africa. Google made known its plans to commit US$1 billion over the next five years in tech-led initiatives in Africa. It is investing this US$ 1 billion in Nigeria and African countries to support and transform the digital market over the next five years.

In its media release, it said the investment would include landing a subsea cable into the continent to enable faster internet speeds, low-interest loans for small businesses, equity investments into African startups, skills training and many more directions determined in future.

This is in a bid to enable fast, affordable internet access for more Africans, building helpful products, supporting entrepreneurship and small business, and helping nonprofits to improve lives across Africa.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Google and Alphabet, Sundar Pichai, noted that the company was building global infrastructure to help bring faster internet to more people and lower connectivity costs. Through the Black Founders Fund, Google will invest in Black-led startups in Africa by providing cash awards and hands-on support.

The developing world represents the best chance of growth for large internet companies, and today, one of the very biggest set out its strategy for how it plans to tackle that.

“We’ve made huge strides together over the past decade – but there’s more work to do to make the internet accessible, affordable and useful for every African. Today, I’m excited to reaffirm our commitment to the continent through an investment of US$1 billion over five years to support Africa’s digital transformation, to cover a range of initiatives from improved connectivity to investment in startups,” said Pichai.

According to him, this is in addition to Google’s existing support through the Google for Startups Accelerator Africa, which has helped more than 80 African startups with equity-free finance, working space and access to expert advisors over the last three years. The subsea cable is set to cut across South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria and St Helena, connecting Africa and Europe.

According to Managing Director for Google in Africa, Nitin Gajria, it will provide approximately 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve Africa. It is projected to create about 1.7 million jobs in Nigeria and South Africa by 2025 as the digital economy grows.

Google further announced the launch of the Africa Investment Fund, where it will invest US$50 million in start-ups across the continent providing them with access to Google’s employees, network, and technologies to help them build meaningful products for their communities.

It will additionally disburse US$10 million in low-interest loans to small businesses in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa in order to alleviate hardships brought about by the Covid pandemic.

Google is bringing venture capital into the continent. The fund might work in a similar fashion as the Google for Startups Accelerator programme.

Although Africa has a Big Four (Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Egypt) in terms of startup and venture capital activity on the continent, the accelerator has made sure to accept applications from startups in less-funded and overlooked regions. These countries include Algeria, Botswana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Founded in September 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google is considered as one of the Big Five information technology companies alongside Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. Google specializes in internet cloud services, software and hardware as well as online advertising technologies.

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Africa

Because Now We Can

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ASARPI, registered in  South Africa as The Institute for Advanced Study of African Renaissance Policies Ideas and in Mauritius as Advanced Study of African Renaissance Policies Ideas, is not only a primarily virtual  Pan African bridging Asia think tank but  is also a  global multicultural restorative justice and peacemaking making movement.We of ASARPI believe and strive daily to  live lives embracing ,living , and advocating restorative justice embedded policy ideas and practices which eradicate serious quality of life problems such as colonialism, racism sexism, ageism,poverty, environmental injustices,  anti-religious bigotry,poor government and civil society leadership; and  lack of access to decent  water,healthcare, law, and education.Core in this ASARPI mission is our rock solid belief that we are all made in the image of God and thus are all brothers and sisters in need of recovering our humanity in the authentic embracing of others especially those we have been  wrongly taught we are inferior or superior to  since as human beings we are all endowed with gifts and talents deserving to be recognized, cultivated, mentored, and used positively for our self  benefit and that of our loved but  most importantly ,for the  benefit of the rest of humanity.

Giving honor to The Right Honorable Lady Sarojini Jugnauth , welcome  Giving honor to  my great friend and more than that great brother Mr.Maxime N.C  King , to my present and absent brothers and sisters of the  Diplomatic Corps  lead by my gracious sister Her Excellency Rezina Ahmed,   High Commissioner for Bangladesh as well as  my brothers and sisters of The Chinese Chamber Silk Route Business community, including FALCON ; educational political,  religious , and other civil society leaders  and  my other brothers and sisters here today including the  marvelous leadership of  Jienfie Smart City on this  October 1 National Day of the People’s Republic of China, and UN International  Day Greetings and Welcome. Thanks for coming. All other protocols are respected  , appreciated,and observed.

I wish to thank my brother Maxime King for inviting me as Director of ASARPI, to be the Honorary Chair of this historical The SILK ROAD FOUNDATION & The CHINESE BUSINESS CHAMBER__Africa event in germinating right here in Jinfei Smart City the seeds of something well bigger than life in a new needed perspective in linking the economic and business relations among Chinese and other Asians with their continental African brothers and sisters with full effort as well in involving Africans and Asians not only on the two massive continents of the world but also Africans and Asians in their global Diasporas with points of conversions and synergies. As we move forward we need to be forward thinking about mutual respect and collaboration rather than imitating our western brothers and sisters who for centuries indulged in creating and sustaining  oppressive and exploitative  hierarchies of colonialism, slavery, racism, seismic,ageism,indentured labor, genocide, massive poverty , and the devastation of environments including the disability of biodiversity creating such horrible ecological imbalances generating the terrible pandemics which are characterizing our lives in this 21st century world in which we are trying to survive let alone prosper.

 We can do much better than this since  as human beings we all are made in the image of God in need of embracing each other and thus finding our own sustaining humanity. We must do better than this what the West has done to us and what we have and do to each other in grotesquely bigoted  attitudes and ill exploitative treatments as Africans and Asians take the center field of global affairs with a West not declining but in serious need of reorientation in understanding that White Supremacy and its demands for hegemony and imperialism does not work any more.

 We need new ways of coming to justice and peace tables in how we do economics and business together in a world with declining resources  though  with incredible digital age technologies thus in need to learn how to collaborate rather than taking and keeping rather than going to war to take the oil, the other precious minerals and to take the land of the helpless and hopeless if not by war through deceptive humanitarian overtures with evil undercurrent agendas. We need to do much better. We must and can in bold design and implementation with effective monitoring and evaluation authentic,  build a   sustainable new world glowing from an African and Asian center which produces quality technologies and commodities from fashions to food to automobiles made to last rather than made cheaply to roll over profits.   Where human  responsibilities and rights  are lived each day not merely talked about. We need to use surplus capital from means of digital  knowledge and traditional industrial production to be philanthropically socially responsible and responsive rather than copying the Western way of being greedy and stingy or promoting philanthropic initiatives which are superficial and short term rather than sustainable, Liberating, and empowering. We can do all of this because now we can . 

We Africans and Asians wherever we are , no longer have to stoop to those in the North and in the West or in other ways ask for permission and have our sovereignty and other human rights imposed on. Not with nearly half of the global economy being anchored in China and in other Asian countries and with African national leaders increasingly understanding that they too hold extraordinary promise in being serious economic players especially when in coalition with China and other nations as genuine partners in global economic and business futures. 

We have a long way to go. What matters is what we are going to do  in the described partnership we mark and celebrate today. We are going here in Mauritius on this train of a new era of African and Chinese and otherwise Asian economic and business collaborative partnerships not only for the betterment of our national and continental selves but for the entire world in desperate need to make new mojitos in new glass mugs to bring together all of us be it with chopsticks, utensils, or eating with our hands. So it is the reason why ASARPI as a virtual and face to face think tank  is joining brotherly and sisterly arms with the SILK_ROAD Foundation, the African_ China Business Forum, the Chinese Business Chamber , and other Asian business  partners in locked brotherly and sisterly arms with African partners   to be THE venue for freedom of exchange of ideas and strategies to do the necessary to bring what we dream as being a more equitable world driven by justice and peace and human responsibilities and human rights into a stunning reality for the entire world to see but more importantly benefit from in the liberation and empowerment of all humanity no matter who we are demographically, nationalities,our systems of governance, and our religious beliefs .Let’s go.Let’s get going Now Now.

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