US President Donald Trump has finally approved a “New Africa Strategy”. His national security adviser, John Bolton, described the contents on December 13 at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington. He began positively, declaring that: lasting stability, prosperity, independence and security on the African continent are in the national security interest of the United States.
But he then went on to ignore Africa’s own efforts to address these broad challenges, including its multilateral initiatives. Instead, Bolton’s announcement was replete with rhetoric reminiscent of the Cold War. The new strategy makes one thing clear: What really matters to Trump is not Africa but containing and countering China.
The reaction from an African perspective is likely bemusement rather than surprise. Trump has shown little interest or empathy towards Africa. And much enmity toward China. His Africa strategy ignores two decades of complex — but generally positive — reactions across Sub-Saharan Africa to China becoming the region’s biggest trading partner and a major source of aid and investment.
Previous US administrations generally welcomed Chinese engagement in Africa. Bolton, however, alleged that: China uses bribes, opaque agreements, and the strategic use of debt to hold states in Africa captive to Beijing’s wishes and demands.
But does it need to be this way? I would argue not. Africa offers China and America an opportunity to demonstrate to the world — and to each other — that their competition can be constructive with Africa playing a moderating influence by brokering an agreed trilateral agenda.
We need to explore ways to advance co-operation between Africa, China and the US as a confidence building measure in relations between the US and China. This would obviously need to be designed for the primary benefit of African partners.
Collaborative projects that involve the US and China, with Africa in the forefront, have been the focus of a Carter Centre project since 2014. The centre’s many successful programs in Africa, especially public health, have generated high-level trilateral policy interest. Since the Trump administration took over, these conversations have excluded his senior advisers. Nevertheless, work has continued. This has included recent developments which suggest headway is being made. In early December the South African Institute of International Affairs hosted the troika that leads this project. The troika was represented by Seyoum Mesfin, Ethiopia’s former and longest-serving foreign minister, an ambassador to China, and regional mediator in Sudan; Zhong Jianhua, formerly China’s Special Representative on African affairs and to the Sudan conflicts; and Donald Booth, a former US ambassador to Liberia, Zambia, Ethiopia and special envoy to Sudan/South Sudan.
Three dozen African, Chinese and US scholars as well as policy experts contributed their analyses of previous and possible future areas for trilateral cooperation. They drew on some recent examples. These included efforts to combat piracy off the Horn of Africa and Gulf of Guinea as well as jointly developing a university campus in Liberia. Other projects have involved coordinated mediation between Sudan and South Sudan and mutually reinforcing actions to deal with the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Several priority areas for future tri-lateral co-operation were identified.
One was the recently constructed headquarters for the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Addis Ababa. Funded by China, the next priority for trilateral co-operation is to ensure the centre is equipped to provide better early warning and response to threats like Ebola.
Another priority area is expanding economic aid, trade and investment. This could be done through trilateral projects funded under China’s “Belt and Road” initiative and the US Build Act. The act was approved in October by a large bipartisan majority of the US Congress.
A related issue is the huge loss of vital tax revenue to African governments due to huge “illicit financial flows”. These are estimated to exceed annual inflows of foreign assistance. The project will seek ways to encourage US and China to support the work of a panel set up by African Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
Other broad areas for potential trilateral co-operation are sustainable agriculture and energy.
Two initiatives started by the Obama Administration, with the support of Congress, have become popular in Africa. These are the “Feed the Future” and “Power Africa”.
Trump has long wanted to cut both. But his negative attitude isn’t shared by the US Congress, and perhaps even key members of his administration. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Tibor Nagy, summarised US-Africa policy before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the same day Trump approved the new Africa strategy. Nagy’s comments reflected a different mindset. He spoke positively about the two Obama initiatives. He also didn’t seem alarmed by China’s growing presence.
At a time when many in Africa are debating how to build capable states without the undesirable aspects of either America’s “decadent” democracy or China’s “responsive” authoritarianism, engaging both should yield important insights for advancing collective self-reliance and development.
Writer is Visiting Professor of International Relations, University of the Witwatersrand. Article was first published in The Conversation
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
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Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
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