Essential The Africa the Media Doesn't Tell You About

Yehuda

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Mozambican economy might grow 5% in 2023

October 26, 2022 | 12:00 | Sita Sebastião

The Government, in its State Budget proposal, predicts that the greatest contribution to economic growth, in 2023, will come from the extractive sector.

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Photo: D.R.

The Mozambican government's State Budget proposal, recently sent to Parliament, projects the country's economy to grow by 5% next year, with the largest contribution to the expected growth coming from the extractive sector, with 23.1%, and the smallest contribution from commerce (2.3%).

The extractive sector was already at the top in 2021, when it contributed with 10.7% growth for the Mozambican GDP to advance 3.6% overall, when the average growth of 14 sectors was calculated.

“The extractive industry sector’s production plan for the year 2023 foresees an overall growth of 23.1%, which will be supported by the increase in the production of rubies, coal, heavy sands (ilmenite, zircon and rutile), natural gas and building materials”, reads the OE proposal, cited by Lusa.

The document also predicts an increase in gold production of 23% (to 1.3 tons) compared to projections for 2022.

In terms of heavy sands, important for new industrial applications and electronic devices, new concessions will start, including the largest in the country, due to the increase in world demand for ilmenite pigment.

With regard to graphite, with large reserves in Cabo Delgado to be exported for new electric car batteries, projections point to a growth in production in the order of 48% to 270 thousand tons. As for rubies, it is estimated that production will increase by 186%, representing 12.6 million carats. The forecast is that coal will also continue to rise, due to the global energy crisis, with the increase in production reaching 28%.

Of the three liquefied natural gas projects approved for the northern region of Mozambique, the Coral Sul platform — located offshore, far from armed violence in Cabo Delgado — will debut the export of reserves that are listed among the largest in the world. The platform led by Italian oil company Eni will produce 3.4 million tonnes per year.

The gas has already started to be processed on the platform, awaiting the filling of the first cargo ship from BP, which bought the production for 20 years.

The plan and State Budget for 2023 are expected to be discussed by the Mozambican parliament before the end of the current session in mid-December.

Mozambican economy might grow 5% in 2023
 

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COP27: Why “Africa’s COP” is crucial, but doesn’t guarantee strong African outcomes

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Wind turbines in the Ngong Hills, near Nairobi, Kenya. PHOTO/Getty Images

By Ovigwe Eguegu and Hannah Ryder


The 27th Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP27) has officially opened. 44,000 people including 90 heads of state have registered to attend, which means this COP, casually referred to as ‘Africa’s COP’, is likely to be the largest COP ever – COP26 holds the current record of just under 35,000 delegates.

However, the general size isn’t unusual. Since the first COP summit held in Berlin in 1995, hundreds of delegations of politicians, relevant experts and negotiators have used the two-week long forum to assess and advance ideas and solutions towards addressing climate change, with one eye on the interests of their countries. The growing impact of climate change, security and geo-economic considerations, and the difference between rhetoric and reality when it comes to climate finance have made both the negotiation at COP fiercer, and the outcomes increasingly important. Hence, participant numbers have regularly doubled for COPs where new treaties were expected – such as Kyoto (1997), Copenhagen (2009) and Paris (2015).

At COP27, there is already much controversy and debate about ensuring strong “African outcomes” by tackling climate change through loss and damage as well as adaptation, ensuring a just energy transition, as well as scaling public finance and carbon markets.

However, it is only African delegates at the table that can translate these concerns into outcomes – which begs the question – how well are African countries typically represented during COP negotiations?

Unsurprisingly, in the past, it has often been host countries with the largest delegations at COP summits, with Peru for instance at COP20 in Lima fielding 269 delegates. Morocco had a huge delegation of 1,591 people at COP22 in Marrakech. However, the UK delegation for COP26 was 10th largest at 230, a similar number to the EU Commission – the region’s coordination body – with 122 delegates. In fact, analysis by Carbon Brief shows that Brazil has consistently fielded the largest delegations – reaching a record 479 at COP26, with France, Canada and Japan also well represented on average. Most recently at COP26, Turkey, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, and Russia all sent over 300 delegates each.

However, this means that at COP26, some African delegations were very well represented indeed. Yet, this is not particularly unusual. The figure below shows how African delegations have been represented since COP1 – and the difference with COP26. Yes, COP26 saw an overall increase in African delegations, but prior to this African delegations have made up on average 28 percent of all delegates. Given that African people represent 17 percent of the world, this seems a fairly strong result.

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However, of course this masks major differences across countries. COP26 saw some of the largest African delegations ever, as the figure below demonstrates. Over the years, Morocco, South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Senegal have sent the largest African delegations to COPs. COP26 had a markedly different top 5, featuring the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), Ghana, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda. That said, the Top 20 participating countries have consistently accounted for around 65 percent of total African delegations, and almost all African countries sent more delegates to COP26 than ever-shifting the average delegation size from 22 since 1995 (quite similar to the non-african average delegation size at 21), to an average 101 delegates at COP26. Infact, there were only two African countries that effectively reduced their delegation size for COP26 versus their historic average – South Africa and Morocco. That meant each African delegation – on average – outsized each other country delegation – by 40 negotiators. That’s a very strong margin.

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In all likelihood, Egypt will host even larger African delegations than COP26. Aside from being thought of as “Africa’s COP”, suggesting more interest by Africans in attending, COVID-19 barriers are all but lifted globally now, accommodation was also expensive and limited in Glasgow, and while Egypt has some visa restrictions, arguably the UK also had challenges with this issue.

Constraints

However, more African delegates may not mean better outcomes for African countries for four key reasons.

First, the numbers above only represent official “government” delegations or “parties”. It does not include private sector or NGO representatives. This creates complexity. Carbon Brief posits that some countries allocate some of their “party badges” to other types of delegates, which can artificially inflate the size of official delegations. This could have been the case for some of the African delegations at COP26, for instance. Moreover, richer, often non-African countries, have huge resources through much larger, separate non-governmental and private sector representation at the COPs. These delegates – even though most are at best allowed to observe formal negotiations – can themselves play important “outside the negotiation room” functions to support their own government positions, including the gathering of intelligence or influencing publicly by both convening and participating in side-events. Their positions may well be oppositional to African countries’ interests.

Second, as revealed earlier, there remain many African countries – including those with major climate vulnerabilities as well as potential for action – who consistently have very small delegations. Research has shown that smaller delegations are a key factor compounding issues of inequalities during negotiations. Smaller delegations must prioritize issues to follow – facing hard trade-offs and missed opportunities to promote their interests, a problem compounded by the addition of agenda items over time at COPs. At COPs, negotiating sessions regularly run for long hours into the night leading to so-called ‘negotiation by exhaustion’. Smaller delegations suffer versus other teams who can effectively “pass the baton” between colleagues during the two-week marathon. And, smaller delegations’ representation and visibility in side events are often low, meaning their views are less well understood by others or even mentioned in the media. This is a very real challenge for numerous African countries.

Third, negotiating strategies and experience are other means that play into achieving desired outcomes, meaning that while a delegation size might be enough to scale the so-called ‘negotiation by exhaustion’ barrier, the quality of the team matters when it comes to bargaining power in terms of hard/soft approaches, value-claiming/creating positions, and negotiating skills. COP26 saw African countries jointly utilize the African Group of Negotiators and the Africa Pavilion as vessels through which important wins were attained. The outcomes included a reaffirmation for increased climate funding with a pledge of US$100 billion towards developing countries, there were also clarifications around carbon markets and more attention was brought to the issue of loss and damage. Yet, it was South Africa, a country that featured as the 35th largest African delegation, with just 56 delegates, that arguably went away with the best – albeit stretching – African financial package from COP26.

Fourth, a key challenge that government delegates in particular have to manage is having views and positions on other countries and regions. Much of the work that has been done to date by hundreds of African and non-African experts, African and non-African organizations who have been working to prepare various African positions for COP27 – tends to focus on African demands for what should be done to/with Africa. What very few analyses do is explore what African negotiators – from a wholly-African interest perspective – should and could demand of others – e.g. whether net-zero commitments by non-African countries are sufficient to generate a global carbon price; what scenarios by the US, China, and others generate sufficient demand for a carbon market, etc. This “red-line”, outward-facing analysis can be done and is crucial, but few African governments have such detailed positions, if at all.

So what more could be done, if African official delegates accounting for 38 percent or more of record numbers of COP27 participants does not turn out to be enough?

Certainly, beyond COP27, to rectify and manage the inequities and complexities of representation for African countries, it will be worth the entire UN membership considering other measures such as capping all delegate sizes and numbers of organizations – both government and non-governmental. Also, within Africa, the African Union Commission could also be encouraged to play a more prominent role in coordination, similar to the role played by the European Union Commission at COPs, such that African delegations – from DR Congo to South Africa to Eritrea – work together for better outcomes not just directly for Africa but also indirectly through commitments by others.

Finally, it is also critical that African governments leverage their populations and continue to train skilled professionals who are vested in promoting and effectively negotiating for the interests of concerned African countries or the continent.

There are certainly signs of hope that COP27 will be Africa’s COP. Egypt has made its commitment to that clear, as have African leaders. But the challenges around delegates and logistics may yet pose too large a barrier. Only the next two weeks will tell.

COP27: Why “Africa’s COP” is crucial, but doesn’t guarantee strong African outcomes
 

Yehuda

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Algeria forces Russia to make concessions


As the war in Ukraine carries on, the list of problematic issues between Algeria and Moscow is growing.

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Algeria's President Abdelmadjid Tebboune delivers a speech during a signing ceremony in the pavilion of honor at Algiers airport, Algiers, Algeria, Aug. 27, 2022. - Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

Anton Mardasov
November 15, 2022

Algeria is actively benefiting from the increased attention to its energy resources from Europe, especially from Italy and France, while at the same time not forgetting to build a counterbalance.

On Nov. 7, Leila Zerrouki, Algerian Foreign Ministry special envoy for international partnerships, announced that the country had formally applied to join BRICS, an alternative to Western integration platforms of a group consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. This decision was expected and followed the summer statements of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who in recent months repeatedly spoke of the need for the country to maintain a balance and avoid involvement in bipolar conflicts.

Despite the fact that economically powerful China plays the first fiddle in BRICS, in a situation of war in Ukraine and disruption of supply chains, interest in this platform is primarily fueled by Russia's membership in it.

For Moscow, of course, recent statements by Algeria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and several other countries with problems in their relations with Washington about their intentions to join the BRICS nations are a treat for the senses. However, the idea of institutionalizing BRICS+ is actually in its infancy. As Pavel Knyazev, deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Foreign Policy Planning Department and Russia's sous-sherpa in BRICS, acknowledged in July, there are not even criteria for joining the association, so “it is still incorrect to speak of a timeline for all countries that have applied or have expressed a desire to join.” Obviously, all players understand this, so they consider such alliances on an anti-Western basis as temporary, conditioned by pragmatic calculation.

After the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, Algeria adopted a position that, in the words of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, is officially regarded in Moscow as “evenhanded, objective and balanced.”

In particular, Algeria abstained from voting on the United Nations resolution to condemn the war in Ukraine March 2. Moreover, since then, Moscow and Algeria have maintained a high dynamic of not only foreign policy, but even military contacts. Thus, on Nov. 10, army Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Said Chengriha and Dmitry Shugaev, director of the Federal Service of Military-Technical Cooperation of Russia, held talks on military cooperation. On Nov. 16, the two countries will begin the Desert Shield 2022 counterterrorism exercise at the Hammaguir testing ground in Bechar province near the border with Morocco. In October, the navies of Russia and Algeria conducted joint exercises in the Mediterranean Sea, and in September, Algeria took part in the Vostok-2022 strategic command and staff military exercises.

In May 2022, Algeria's Ambassador to Russia Smail Benamara said that Russia and Algeria were preparing a new strategic partnership document to strengthen cooperation in areas not mentioned in the 2001 document. The new document is expected to be signed during Tebboune's visit to Moscow. Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra noted Nov. 11 that the president's visit to the Russian capital is being actively prepared, and the Algerian side hopes to have it done by the end of this year.

Nevertheless, according to Al-Monitor sources close to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Tebboune’s trip to Moscow was planned back in July, but was postponed due to “the need to work through the complicated economic and military-technical issues.”

“The situation is somewhat reminiscent of 2016, when former Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal left Moscow, when it seemed that many projects had already been negotiated and only needed to be formalized de jure,” the source noted, adding that since then it has remained uncertain whether or not Russia would build the country's first nuclear power plant. “The parties are trying to weigh the pros and cons, so that there is no blow to the image."

In brief, the list of problematic issues in the context of the war in Ukraine between Algeria and Moscow is as follows.

First, in October 2022, it was revealed that a bipartisan group of 27 members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling for sanctions against Algeria under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, because the North African country had allegedly already signed a new “significant” deal to buy $7 billion worth of Russian weapons, including Su-57 fighter jets. Propaganda tirelessly repeats that potential restrictions will not stop Algeria, especially when the West supports the incorporation of Western Sahara into Morocco. Nevertheless, there is reason to believe that sanctions are being taken into account by the Algerian side. For example, the threat of restrictions has affected Egypt's desire to buy Russian Su-35 fighter jets.

Second, Tebboune has made it clear to the West that he does not intend to completely side with Russia. In August, during French President Emmanuel Macron's visit to Algeria, the heads of the French and Algerian security services met, the first such event of this level since the country's independence. For Paris, such intelligence contacts are important primarily in terms of Algeria's influence on the situation in the Sahel and its knowledge of the real situation within local rebel and jihadist groups. For Algeria, the big question is the situation in Mali, especially in connection with the withdrawal of French troops from there and the activity of the Wagner Group, a Russian private military company.

Third, the main indicator that characterizes any strategic partnership — trade turnover — between Russia and Algeria is not growing. While in 2016 and 2017 bilateral trade turnover was $3.97 billion and $4.63 billion, respectively, in 2020 and 2021 it was estimated at only $2.91 billion and $3 billion, respectively. At the same time, as recently highlighted by US Ambassador to Algeria Elizabeth Moore Aubin, who has been very active since her appointment in 2022, the United States is seeking to double direct investment in Algeria, as the country's authorities work to diversify the economy. This is despite the fact that, as the diplomat noted, the United States was the largest foreign direct investor in Algeria in 2020, accounting for 28% ($6.2 billion) of all foreign direct investment in the country.

Fourth, although the main achievement of bilateral relations between Algeria and Russia is military-technical cooperation, Chinese arms are gradually taking an increasing share in the armed forces of Algeria and its regional rival, Morocco. The Algerian leadership intends to use the funds received from the sharp increase in the cost of natural gas on the world market to double the military budget, but it is not certain that most of these funds will be used to buy Russian weapons all at once. Thus, in addition to the purchase of Chinese and now Turkish combat drones, Algeria has already received the first battery of Chinese YJ-12E mobile coastal missile system in a short time after ordering. This Chinese missile system, according to some reports, was purchased instead of the previously planned acquisition of the Russian 3K55 Bastion missile battalion.

Theoretically, the gas issue can be added to the list of contradictions in relations between Algeria and Russia. On the one hand, the Algerian leadership continues to profit from the standoff between Russia and NATO: In the first five months of 2022, Algeria's state oil and gas company Sonatrach had revenues of $21.5 billion, up from $12.6 billion in the same period in 2021. On the other hand, Moscow is unlikely to seriously consider Algeria's efforts to increase gas supplies as an attempt to squeeze it out of the European gas market. Not only because Algeria actually has little additional gas to export due to chronic underfinancing in this sector and uses the problems with Spain to refocus on the Italian market, but also because the new contracts at higher prices bring the cost of pipeline gas closer to spot liquefied natural gas sales. This is profitable for Moscow and makes Europeans keep buying Russian energy resources, both officially and on the black market.

Algeria, like other countries in the Middle East and North Africa for which the humanitarian aspects of military action are not as important as those of Western communities, is surprised by the military decisions and level of troop use Russia is showing in Ukraine, and as the Kremlin's stated goals there decline, Moscow's value as a balancing act for regional actors diminishes.

In addition, in the medium term, it is unclear how Russian weapons manufacturers intend to carry out maintenance and new orders when the Russian army is suffering heavy losses in ground military equipment, which must be urgently replenished both for combat operations and to maintain its defense capabilities. Nevertheless, one should hardly expect that Algeria, which for decades has been a major importer of Russian military products and still depends on the Russian military-industrial complex for maintenance, will suddenly decide to sharply increase its drift toward Chinese or even Western weapons. In the end, Algeria is likely to use all the above problems in negotiations with Moscow in order to get discounts and certain indulgences beyond the framework of military-technical cooperation and related, for example, to projects in the mining, electric power and nuclear power industries.

Algeria forces Russia to make concessions
 

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Uganda and Zimbabwe latest African countries to build and launch satellites


(excerpt)
"Space technologies are essentially the backbone of the modern economy," says Kwaku Sumah, founder of SpaceHubs Africa, a service company that helps stimulate the African space ecosystem. "You sometimes don't even know that you're using them. But for example, if you're using Google Maps ... or even things like Zoom, or broadband communication, that's all powered by satellite services."

Sumah and SpaceHubs Africa were not involved in the development of the recently launched satellites.

However, Uganda and Zimbabwe's satellites won't be providing wireless services to anyone. Instead, they've been developed for the purposes of earth observation.

"[The satellites] have a multispectral camera, which allows the satellite to essentially take pictures of the Earth," says Sumah. Multispectral cameras can take pictures that capture information from wavelengths of light not visible to the human eye.

What this does is provide data that can help determine the health of land for the agricultural sector, among other things. Omara says the multispectral camera will be used to "perform analysis of water quality, land use cover, and soil fertility." That information will then be provided to citizens so that they can make the best use of the natural resources in their countries.

But there are still possibilities to do even more with the satellites. Sumah says that one of the main purposes of a satellite Ghana launched in 2019 was to "monitor illegal mining that was occurring in the north of Ghana."

And all of those capabilities are made possible by a satellite that only measures 10cm in each direction. They're called CubeSats — and their small size and low cost to develop makes them perfect first satellites for nations developing their space technology sectors. But don't let their size fool you. While small – only a bit larger than a Rubik's cube — CubeSats can still pack a big punch.

However, there is one downside to CubeSats. Their lifetime of operation is only about 24 to 30 months. So unless Uganda and Zimbabwe commit to building and launching more of these satellites, the benefits will be short-lived.

One small step for Africa, but giant leaps still needed​

The satellites launched by Uganda and Zimbabwe aren't the first satellites launched by African nations, and they won't be the last. According to Sumah, "Ethiopia is looking to launch a new satellite, as well as Nigeria and Ghana," all hopefully within the next year.

Despite plans for future launches by African nations, Sumah is a bit hesitant to suggest bigger things are unquestionably on the way. "I'm hoping that these are not just one-off events that are just used for PR, but that there's a sustained momentum that helps lead the charge for Africa to really maximize the use of these new technologies," he says.
 
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