Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 16, 2007

AFRICOM - "Value Adding" To Whom?

by b real
lifted from a comment

(As an introduction consider reading b real's earlier series Understanding AFRICOM: A Contextual Reading of Empire's New Combatant Command)

The first press briefing for Gen. Ward since being named the commander of AFRICOM was held on Monday. The occasion was the announcement of a new effort at presenting a multilateral face on the U.S. naval presence in the Gulf of Guinea, a hoped-to-become-permanent mission entitled "The African Partnership Initiative," focused on 'promoting maritime security and safety.' The DoD transcript is here.

It was a little rough for the commander, who sounded at times wooden and awkward in his responses, yet he stayed mainly on message in spite of fielding some direct and informed questioning on AFRICOM's motives, reception and obstacles on the continent (which surprised me a little, as, after reading through so many of these transcripts, the press generally sticks to throwing softball questions within the talking points outlined in the briefer's opening statements.)

One of those messages today was "we're bringing value-added" to investments in Africa. Foreign investments, primarily, which is what the "partnership" in "The African Partnership Initiative" really is about.

Last week the Corporate Council on Africa, a U.S. business lobby centered on creating and retaining wealth in Africa through private enterprise, hosted their second annual U.S.-Africa Infrastructure Conference: Building on Stability in Washington DC, bringing together players from private enterprise, government and military, to network and discuss infrastructure development opportunities throughout Africa.

One of the plenary sessions was titled "AFRICOM And Its Potential To Safeguard And Encourage New Infrastructure Development In Africa," of which the description promised attendees:

The focus of the discussion also will pertain to infrastructure development priorities that will arise throughout Africa as a result of AFRICOM’s presence. Panelists will overview the vital role of the private sector in the development and success of those new projects.

I haven't found any transcripts of the panel yet, but there was a DoS piece from the end of last week that gives us the general drift:

New U.S. Command To Take Broad, Inclusive Approach to Africa

Enhancing security and stability will foster conditions for economic growth

Washington -- The new U.S. regional military command for Africa, an integrated defense, diplomatic and economic organization, will enhance U.S. efforts to advance security and prosperity in Africa, U.S. officials say.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Africa, said that the United States hopes its support for defense reform and military capacity-building not only will help African nations to manage conflicts and mitigate violent extremism but also will create conditions conducive to further economic growth.

Thomas-Greenfield spoke at an October 9-10 conference on infrastructure investment in Africa. Its private-sector participants viewed stability as the critical precondition for investing in telecommunication, transportation, power-generation and other infrastructure projects.

Underdeveloped and dilapidated infrastructure has hampered efforts by many African countries to sustain fast economic growth and engage more fully in international trade.

Thomas-Greenfield said only private capital markets can bridge the gap between what is required to fund costly infrastructure projects and the scarce resources available to most African governments.

Despite significant improvements in the security and business climates in Africa, many U.S. investors still consider long-term infrastructure projects on the continent too risky because of what they perceive as a lack of stability.

Thomas-Greenfield said that the formation of AFRICOM is an acknowledgment that Africa warrants special U.S. attention, and thereby helps boost the U.S. private sector’s confidence in the continent.

Security and stability not only make it possible to maintain existing infrastructure, she said, but they also create the right environment for the private sector to contribute to its expansion.

Now it's an outrageous statement that Thomas-Greenfield makes when she says that "only private capital markets can bridge the gap between what is required to fund costly infrastructure projects and the scarce resources available to most African governments" since those goverments have every right and obligation to oversee and regulate the use of those resources to benefit the people and could very well fund their own infrastructure projects with the profits realized off such control, given the opportunity. But then, the idea is the further opening of African resources to private foreign investors so, as the late Johnny Carson used to say, "buy the premise, buy the bit."

Which brings us back to General Ward and Monday's press briefing. Leading off his opening statement Ward states:

First, let me thank you for coming this morning to listen to Admiral Ulrich and I talk about the African Partnership Station. And I think it provides a good example of what the newly established U.S. Africa Command is about as it relates to helping out partner nations on the continent of Africa build their capacity to better govern their spaces, to have more effects in providing for the security of their people, as well as doing the things that are important in assuring the development of the continent in ways that promote increased globalization of their economies, as well as the development of their societies for the betterment of their people. 

"Doing the things that are important in assuring the development of the continent in ways that promote increased globalization of their economies."

Economic globalization, of course, is just another form of neo-colonialism - a neoliberal attempt at removing all barriers to investment, trade, regulation, and capital accumulation for the benefit of the moneyed classes. Africans know all about neocolonialism and living in the periphery, so it's surprising that AFRICOM would be openly pushing the economic angle to their operations. Another poor PR move for a newly-birthed enterprise that's already largely still-born.

Ward stresses the phrase "value added" seven times throughout the briefing, adapting a financial term to define a cornerstone of AFRICOM's mission that aims to advertise the command's usefulness in achieving a return on investment for all takers.

The State Department story stated that:

Despite significant improvements in the security and business climates in Africa, many U.S. investors still consider long-term infrastructure projects on the continent too risky because of what they perceive as a lack of stability.

General Ward offered a reason why AFRICOM is focused on stability today:

.. we think that we have the best chance of doing work today that helps bring stability so that we are not in a position of having to do things 10, 20 years from now that are problematic for the continent and as well for our global society.

Which brings us (via images of the Persian Gulf) right to the Gulf of Guinea.

Joining General Ward in the briefing was Admiral Henry Ulrich of EUCOM (nice picture of him flipping off the press here) to discuss the dispatch of the USS Fort McHenry to the Gulf region, now labeled as the aforementioned "African partnership station initiative." Ulrich gives some cockamamie explanation for the increased U.S. naval presence in the oil-rich Gulf region -- ranging from "it's just a matter of time before they use our maritime infrastructure against us" (which is a strange claim to make considering we're talking about West Africa here) to a consensual relationship with coastal nations there to build maritime programs "to protect against ocean-related terrorists; hostile, criminal and dangerous acts ... with international cooperation, ... new partnerships, and so forth and so on", again all in foreign territory.

Ulrich tells how they got African nations to sign on:

And at the same time that was going on [U.S. creating a strategy defining the need for maritime security in the Gulf], the -- our African friends, the nations that have started getting together in several symposium and other different fora -- and they issued what is also is in your package, called the Benin communique, this time last year, where we said: We, the ministers attending the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Safety and Security Conference, agree to commit to address the following elements of maritime governance -- partnership, maritime domain awareness -- and agree to continue engagement with international maritime partners to improve our maritime safety and security.

"We said"? Other words that come to mind are "recommended" and "dictated".

We had our African friends on the west coast ask for some help in developing their maritime safety and security. And so we in the last year did a lot of exploration and meetings and discussions on how we might do this. And we've sent some ships and airplanes down there to work with our folks there and our new partners there to try to understand where they were in their development and how we might help them. And so we came to the conclusion that the way to do this is to use a delivery vehicle. We use a ship -- go figure -- as we talk about maritime safety and security. We went out to a lot of our European partners that had an interest off the west coast of Africa. Six of them agreed -- six different nations agreed that this was important and they would like to work with us.

We reached out to the other agencies and departments here, and our own government, the State Department, USAID, NOAA, Coast Guard, Homeland Security all wanted to work with us on this. And then we reached out to NGOs that had an interest in the maritime domain.

And so we brought that together, and the ship leaves -- sails from Norfolk tomorrow. We'll go to Spain to pick up all these riders, and then we'll travel a circuit down off the West Coast of Africa with training teams that will work as a group. So we've, if you would, convened a center of excellence. And we have a center of mass now on this ship that can help these nations seek what they want, which is maritime safety and security so that they can continue to develop ashore in all the activities that we support, other nations support. And so that's kind of the long and short of what maritime safety and security is, why we're going to the West Coast of Africa and why we decided to use a ship, called an Africa Partnership Station, to work this problem.

Heh. Partner-ship. Get it? Funny guys.

Here's why the Benin communique came about, according to the priorities listed by the top DoS official on Africa, Jendayi Frazer, as part of her keynote speech to the ministry:

Yesterday a reporter asked me what are U.S. interests in the Gulf of Guinea? Achieving coastal security in the Gulf of Guinea is key to America's trade and investment opportunities in Africa, to our energy security, and to stem transnational threats like narcotics and arms trafficking, piracy, and illegal fishing - we share these interests in common with our Gulf of Guinea partners.
Experts estimate that over the next 10 years, oil production in the Gulf of Guinea will grow by 40%. By 2020, the Gulf of Guinea is expected to be one of the world's top oil-producing regions. Yet, private companies are the vast majority of operations in the Gulf of Guinea. If kidnapping of their workers and attacks on their facilities continue, they are unlikely to make the necessary investments to increase production, or even maintain current levels.
What we hope is that everyone here will be galvanized to return home and impress upon your government the importance of Maritime safety and security, including the economic and governance issues that are at its very foundation.
Let me be clear, the purpose of American involvement is not to impose our policy vision, but rather to alert you to our willingness to support [our] well-conceived plans reflecting your government's policy commitment and resources [which i have already provided to each of you in your "appreciation package"]. Toward that end, the United States and other donor partners are committed to providing support for this initiative in the form of seminars, training, and equipment. The U.S. government intends to support African institutions as they develop political buy-in for regional maritime security cooperation, whether that involves the AU, ECOWAS, CEEAC, Maritime Organization of West and Central Africa (MOWCA), the Gulf of Guinea Commission, or any others.

In other words, we're going ahead with our plans, ya'll figure out how you want to adapt.

Later on in Monday's DoD briefing, someone asks Ulrich about naval initiatives to build brown-water assets (riverine forces), "particularly in Nigeria," to which the Admiral replies:

Well, I'm not going to talk about individual countries, because we quite frankly haven't been asked by those countries to help them. Having said that, they are keenly aware that we're developing a, what you refer to as a brown-water capability. ...
But if we were asked, I would work very, very hard to comply with their request.

No doubt. Not sure how important it is anymore, since the oil companies are definitely not complaining about the money they're raking in these days, but the price per barrel of crude has been affected by events in Nigeria for some time now. The ongoing militant attacks on pipelines and infrastructure supposedly costs up to 500,000 bpd in missed production, affecting both prices availability (Nigerian imports to the U.S. are down so far this year), and then a short strike at a Chevron facility last week raised global rates for a day or two. All this has led to a near-permanent naval presence in the Gulf now, as Ulrich acknowledges:

.. we pretty much have a continuous presence, defined as either a ship off the West Coast of Africa or some maritime patrol aircraft off the West Coast of Africa or training teams that are downrange in some of the West Coast. And we're there 360 days a year now.

AFRICOM - working to maximize everyone's ROI ...

Posted by b on October 16, 2007 at 04:31 AM | Permalink


looks like Africom's getting a little smarter. A naval presence seems far less threatening to the Africans than trying to ram a huge military base down their throats.

and perhaps one of USA's best & most under-estimated assets wrt Africa lies in the substantial numbers of African-Americans who have moved there & live there. And I'm not talking about the Americo-Liberians. There are many African-Americans who have voluntarily sought to do business in Africa and are actually doing so, drawn there by affinity & sentiment.

how about a race-based initiative that actually works ten-fold for all Americans. The China race-based initiative has produced vast wealth & influence for ethnic Chinese in Singapore, Malaysia & Indonesia. Hispanic-Americans are also doing a lot of business in Latin-America. Anglos as always have massive assets in Europe.

The USA could start by funding up a truly independent agency to provide loans to African-Americans already doing business & living in Africa. (Keep the spooks away, otherwise the Africans will sniff them out & it will be a disaster). Also, addditional incentives could be made available to African-Americans with particularly relevant skills in agriculture & minerals extraction/processing for export.

loans should be provided with as few strings attached as posssible so equipment can be brought in from wherever the most appropriate source is. Another key part will be keeping the big neo-liberal multi-national corporations (MNC) out of such a program. The MNC's cannot compete against China in Africa. They had their chance in Africa & essentially did nothing with the exception of high-premium products like oil & gas, gold & diamonds. But African-Americans working with Africans & good funding can eat China's lunch there, at least in many if not most industry sectors. And since the money is being spent abroad, American "reverse discrimination" bigots may not mind as much. The programs supporters might also seed a couple of Aryan-Nation forums with misinformation about the program i.e. "Its really all about sending more African-Americans back to Africa. [Just kidding guys].

but lets not forget that there is a long legacy of very capable & succcessful African-American farmers especially in the South & Mid-West. But sadly, studies show that to this day, they continue to suffer massive discrimination from banks & the Fed/State governments whenever they seek loans & assistance.

Also, African-Americans (especially those who already have a voluntary interest in Africa) are far far better able to identify & work with the best & brightest in Africa than 10 Commerce Departments or 500 Microsofts ever could.

for a teeny fraction of whats been spent in Iraq, the USA could achieve a highly beneficial presence in African industry sectors, that may ultimately go China's way otherrwise.

the message is - "guys, we will fund you to work with your African bro's [smile] to develop & export processed goods & materials to everywhere INCLUDING CHINA before China really gets in the game."

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 16, 2007 8:35:28 AM | 1

This all sounds a little too much like the experience of Haiti to me.

The basic model is the US taxpayer (or to be precise, taxpayer's children and grand-children) fund an overseas garrison, which channels funds to private companies that supply the military via political patronage, which companies then support the political campaigns of those who push funding the campaign back home.

Classic neo-democracy.

Posted by: PeeDee | Oct 16, 2007 4:22:15 PM | 2

you are absolutely right. And its amazing what one can learn on this blog.

and thinking about it, they would have to re-create the Haitian bourgeois class-system over there. And thinking a little more, if Nigeria is the main object, I wish them good luck. They will need a lot of it. Not to mention that the Nigeria military is not exactly destitute. Besides, the Nigerian sailors who may come in contact with Africom would laugh at any inducements offerred. Some may actually take the offer, just to play along. And they might have the midshipmen & other enlisted's divvy the "Yankee bounty". But these sailors are not the typical po' & broke Haitian gendarme. Quite a few of them are well acccomplished smugglers. Possibly a good reason for them to resent Africom for "rocking the boat".

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 16, 2007 5:14:59 PM | 3

Young, promising, Latin American officers used to go to the US, to the notorious School of the Americas for advanced training. Now they go to China for more military training, much to the dismay of the US at this complete loss of influence on a whole generation of the military.

I am wondering if something similar is going on with African military officers. Does anybody know, are the African officers going to China for further training? I would expect that to be the case.

Posted by: Owl | Oct 16, 2007 6:05:12 PM | 4

owl -

china does still have some ongoing, limited military training programs for african officers as i recall. i'll have to root around & find more specifics, but the numbers involved are not large. this 2004 article refers to 70 graduates from a two-week International Symposium Course and the Training Course for the Young African Military Officers program. the exchange programs for business, technical, and education training are much bigger & get the most emphasis, as china's africa policy is predicated on economic programs, not military ones.

the u.s., OTOH, forecasted training 1400 african military officers in its IMET (int'l military education & training) program & has "professionalizing" african militaries as one of its core objectives for the military component of AFRICOM. this is probably where the best analogy to the u.s.-latin america SoA relationship lays.

the u.s. is also very involved in training africans as peacekeepers. after seemingly caught unawares in rwanda, the clinton admin proposed a standing force of african troops -- the african crisis response force (ACRF) -- which could be deployed to any hotspots throughout the continent, but that went over w/ the rest of the world even more unfavorably than AFRICOM today. so instead they changed the name from ACRF to ACRI, replacing "force" w/ "initiative" and stressing more of a partnership approach, working w/ african govts rather than dictating to them.

in the words of the "senior lecturer in the department of national security affairs at the naval postgraduate school", this original initiative has blossomed into a large-scale effort at u.s. military training of indigenous african militaries:

In the transition from the Clinton to the George W. Bush administration, ACRI evolved into the African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program, which concentrates on “training the trainer,” delivering programs designed to address the specific needs of the recipient country, and training for peace enforcement as well as peacekeeping. Between 1997 and 2005, the U.S. spent $121 million to train 10,000 troops from nine countries (Benin, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, and Senegal). In 2005 ACOTA became a constituent part of the Bush administration's multilateral five-year Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) program, which, with the support of the G-8, aims to train 75,000 peacekeepers, mostly in Africa, and foster an international transportation and logistics support system for peacekeepers.

now, aside from all of the actual coursework at the SoA, a fundamental aspect was/is its indoctrination into the u.s. military/economic worldview, posited on an anti-communist ideology. it also plugs those military trainees into an influential social & logistical network of dependency upon the u.s. military. it also allowed the u.s. greater intel, access and, eventually, control over those militaries.

this is happening in africa today

Posted by: b real | Oct 16, 2007 8:22:19 PM | 5

a little jaunt down the coast south of the gulf of guinea [map]

Angolan Oil Exports Last Year Were Worth 30 Billion usd

Eduardo "Dino" Chingunji, Angola's flamboyant minister of tourism, is a man of big dreams. Striding to his office window overlooking the capital Luanda's achingly beautiful lagoon, he rattles his elegant cufflinks and expansively predicts that in a few years the shabby old Portuguese colonial buildings lining the seafront will have been joined by an array of five-star hotels.

"There will be a small park, places you can go jogging in the evening, restaurants, cafes ... We aim to build 40 more hotels in Angola by 2010."

It is the sort of extravagant pledge that until recently would have had potential foreign investors nodding politely before consigning his plans to the nearest wastepaper basket as a flight of fancy. No longer. For almost 30 years from independence in 1975 Angola was embroiled in civil war and known as one of the most benighted places in the world. Since the war finally ended in 2002 it has been known abroad for little beyond its phenomenal oil wealth, its stark divide between the super-rich elite and the poor, and its lack of transparency in accounting for its revenues.

Now, however, it is gaining an extra tag. The combination of its oil bonanza and a huge investment in infrastructure has led it to become the hot destination for businesses seeking to invest in Africa. "There's a general feeling that if we are not a player in Angola in the next five years we will have missed the best opportunity in Africa," says a senior western diplomat in the region.

Angolan oil exports last year were worth $29.9bn (€22.1bn, £15bn), up by 32 per cent from 2005 and 400 per cent from 2002, according to official figures published last week. While the government last month downgraded predictions of this year's GDP growth from 31 per cent to 19 per cent, many businessmen believe the original figure may prove to be more accurate. And all this is before the country's vast agriculture potential and the bulk of its plentiful diamond deposits have been tapped.

When Jendayi Frazer, the US assistant secretary of state for Africa, visited earlier this year she predicted that in 10 to 15 years Angola would be one of the three hubs in sub-Saharan Africa, along with the traditional powerhouses of South Africa and Nigeria.

It is a view widely shared by bankers. Outside South Africa "you've got to be in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Angola", says Craig Bond, CEO of Standard Bank Africa, the African arm of Standard Bank, the continent's largest bank. Angola has registered five new banks in the past year and is expected to register five more by the end of 2007, according to Paul de Sousa, the representative for KPMG. The "big three" banks in South Africa, Standard Bank, First National Bank and ABSA, and several international banks have been scouting in recent months for potential acquisitions.

In the past two years China's credit lines to Angola - variously estimated at between $6bn and $10bn - have captured the headlines. Now interest from the US is intensifying and not just in the oil industry in which the big US oil companies have long had a huge stake. A delegation from Carlyle, the US private equity group, visited recently looking not just for business with the government and the state oil company, Sonangol, but also for private clients, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
"Everyone wants to do something here," he says. "It's a miracle."

Posted by: b real | Oct 16, 2007 9:23:58 PM | 6

b real, most enlightening, thank you. So the parallels between Latin America and Africa are much greater than I realized. If history were to unfold in the same way as in Latin America, I would expect a large number of military dictatorships in Africa, under the influence of the US.

However there are some countries in Africa that are quite wary of US motives and actions, South Africa and Angola. Africans can look at the history and good examples in South America. And of course, China -- I'd expect their influence to continue to expand.

Are the Cubans involved to any large degree in providing medical care in Africa?

Posted by: Owl | Oct 16, 2007 9:25:00 PM | 7

Are the Cubans involved to any large degree in providing medical care in Africa?

no expert on this but, in scope, yes, if not in scale. there are cuban doctors & medical brigades working in countries all over the continent, ranging from a few dozen in angola to a couple hundred in south africa, ghana, etc according the quick searches i just ran. they also train hundreds of african medical students each year in cuba. generally, africa-cuba solidarity has always been very strong.

Posted by: b real | Oct 16, 2007 10:31:19 PM | 8

MPLA, the ruling party in Angola fought a long & bloody war of independence against the Portuguese & also against Apartheid South Africa with the aid of Cuban troops. Having defeated both, it fought another equally bloody civil war against the USA-backed UNITA led by Jonas Savimbi. And for the hat-trick, it sent an army into the Congo (former Zaire) to rout the USA-backed Mobutu.

hence, its unlikely that Angola is about to defer its soveregnity to any higher power. The Angolans are just as opposed to imperial reach into Africa as any other country.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 16, 2007 10:48:58 PM | 9

b real,

Don’t have much to add due to my lack of knowledge but wish to thank you for all your posts about Africom. Again, posts like yours keep this site top-notch.

When I worked in the corporate world long ago, “value added” was the new catch phrase. I came away from high energy seminars thinking that this was nothing more than a feeble attempt to justify increasing the cost of something or some service even though little labor, material or quality was actually added (if any). To me the words have very negative connotations - a “rip-off” term more suitable for a used car salesman. Seeing the term “value-added” used by General Ward seems very appropriate.

Somehow I am left with the image of the U.S. military being the pimps for a stampede of corporate carpetbaggers and scalawags to follow.

Posted by: Rick | Oct 17, 2007 12:21:16 AM | 10

from the international maritime bureau, a dept of the int'l chamber of commerce

Piracy attacks rise 14% as Nigerian and Somalian coasts become more dangerous

Piracy and armed robbery attacks against ships rose 14% in the first nine months of the year compared to the same period in 2006, the second consecutive quarterly increase in attacks, as the coastal waters off Nigeria and Somalia became ever more dangerous, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported today.

In the first nine months of the year, 198 attacks were reported versus 174 attacks reported in 2006 during the same time frame. A total of 15 vessels were hijacked, 172 crewmembers were taken hostage, 63 were kidnapped, and 21 were assaulted. If this trend continues, the decline in piracy attacks begun in 2004 will have bottomed out. Crew assaults, kidnapping and ransom rose dramatically from 2006.

Somalia remains a hotspot of great concern, with 26 incidents reported so far this year against eight the year before. This represents one of the highest numbers of attacks ever reported off the coast of this East African country, and highlights a blatant disregard for the law.

but, as this AP story reports, the increase in somalia can be attributed to the invasion/regime change there at the end of 06 & the ensuing chaos so far this year

Piracy increase off Somalia may be due to collapse of Islamic group

NAIROBI, Kenya: Piracy off Somalia is on the rise because an Islamic group that had cracked down on pirates was ousted, an official who tracks piracy cases off Africa's side of the Indian Ocean said Tuesday.

Earlier Tuesday, an international watchdog reported maritime pirate attacks worldwide shot up 14 percent in the first nine months of 2007, with Somalia and Nigeria showing the biggest increases.
Somalia has had 16 years of violence and anarchy, and now is led by a government battling to establish authority even in the capital, and challenged by an Islamic insurgency. Its coasts are virtually unpoliced.

During the six months that an Islamic group known as the Council of Islamic Courts ruled most of southern Somalia, where Somali pirates are based, piracy abated, said Andrew Mwangura, the program coordinator of the Seafarers Assistance Program.

At one point, the group announced it was sending scores of fighters with pickups mounted with machine-guns and anti-aircraft guns to central Somali regions to crack down on pirates based there. Islamic fighters even stormed a hijacked, UAE-registered ship and recaptured it after a gun battle in which pirates -- but no crew members -- were reportedly wounded.

Mwangura said but piracy increased this year after Ethiopian forces backing Somali government troops ousted the Islamic courts in December.

"So it seems as if some elements within the Somali transitional federal government and some businessmen in Puntland (a northeastern Somalia region) are involved because you know piracy is a lucrative business," Mwangura told The Associated Press.

Somali government officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

the TFG does appear to be all about the benjamins & i believe they took over the port in mogadishu from a private owner (could be wrong - can't find any references right now). so who knows. maybe the private contractors play a role in this too.

back to the IBM press release

Attacks have also risen sharply in Nigerian waters, with 26 incidents reported to the IMB compared to 9 during the corresponding period in 2006 [emphasis added]. Criminal groups claimed to have political motives for the theft and abduction of crewmembers. Nigeria has set up a Maritime Guard Command to help increase safety and security along the country’s coastline.

it would be interesting to know how the traffic numbers stack up between periods & such, but the link to the report returns a 404 error.

the AP story continues

A Nigerian Navy spokesman, Capt. Henry Babalola, said criminals are now targeting the most vulnerable vessels -- shipping trawlers -- because authorities have cracked down on crude oil theft. The pirates seize ships' valuable communications equipment.

Babalola said the Navy has only 15 patrol boats for the Rivers and Delta states, but there are hundreds of waterways where pirates can attack.

"That makes it impossible to cover all these places," he told The Associated Press.

IMB director Pottengal Mukundan urged ships to stay as far as possible from the coasts of Somalia and Nigeria.

i'm betting that warning doesn't apply to partner-ship cruises bound for the new persian gulf. is reporting now that
AFRICOM Critic Nigeria Will Participate in Maritime Partnership: U.S. Admiral

The top U.S. Navy official in the African region says Nigeria, long opposed to the slowly developing increased American military presence on the continent, has accepted an invitation to participate in a new maritime security program.

U.S. officials, as they were planning the “Africa Partnership Station” (APS) effort, extended an invitation to a long list of African nations, including Nigeria and South Africa, which have both signaled opposition to the new U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Both nations’ governments also have raised concern about Washington’s intention to focus more on the long-troubled continent.
South African leaders have not yet responded to an invitation “to at least send observers” for the first APS activities off the continent’s western coastline; Nigerian officials “initially showed no interest,” said Adm. Henry Ulrich, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and the Sixth Fleet.

But the Nigerian leaders recently altered course, the soon-to-retire four-star said during an Oct. 16 Center for Strategic and International Studies-sponsored forum in Washington, indicating the African nation will take part. The “level of that participation,” Ulrich said, has not yet been determined.

dropping (or forgetting) the 'we responded b/c we were asked to help' storyline which i pointed out in monday's DoD briefing, the article quotes admiral bird ulrich a little less concerned now that the ship has set sail

Though Ulrich stressed it is vital for many African nations to participate, “we told countries, ‘You can do anything you want or you can do nothing at all.’”

and don't look for uncle sam to foot the bill for any real naval buildup for your country

“We’re not going in there saying, ‘You need [numerous] ships, a couple subs and a B-2’” bomber, said Ulrich. “We’re telling [African nations], ‘keep it easy, keep it cheap. Use it and you’ll fall in love with it.’” In terms of aid and training APS can provide, and potential ships and systems the countries might need to bring stability to their zones of interest, Ulrich said his staff will respond to requests. U.S. naval officials, however, are less inclined to have serious discussions if African officials simply show up with “lists” and expect Washington to automatically provide those things, he noted.

hey.. it's a business decision now. cost-benefit analysis & all that stuff.

and, on the point i made of the african partnership station (APS) being a way to deflect a unilateral image of AFRICOM's first initiative,

From Washington, Ulrich is heading to a sea-power conference featuring naval chiefs from across the globe. There, he said he wants to explain why the next ship that sails into the Gulf of Guinea for the APS effort “isn’t flying an American flag.” To that end, five European nations already have signed on, and “Spain, Italy, France are all very interested,” he said.

U.S. officials have been in early talks with nations along the east African coasts about bringing APS or a very similar initiative to that side of the continent, Ulrich said, adding nothing has yet been nailed down.

take your times, guys.

Not the right time to explore in Somalia, says oil minister

BAIDOA, Somalia Oct 16 (Garowe Online) - Somalia's petroleum minister says he does not believe it is the "right time" to explore for natural resources in the East African country torn apart by 17 years of civil war.

Oil Minister Abdullahi Yusuf Mohamed "Harare" told Garowe Online in an exclusive interview that the conditions on the ground in Somalia are not ready for oil exploration.

"In many parts of the country [Somalia] there is insecurity. Foreign companies and their employees are the people who will be coming and it is a heavy responsibility to assure their safety," Minister Harare said.

conflict is spreading in the north now, as the breakaway republics of puntland & somaliland -- the regions where the majority of oil concessions lie -- are battling over territory, borders & power.

and things are still bad in the south

but that's not gonna stop the TFG from trying to grab some more USD

[The oil minister] pointed out that it is imperative that foreign oil companies who hold exploration contracts with the former Somali government meet with representatives from the ministry of energy and petroleum, which he leads.

Such meeting is necessary to see "if there is need to amend [past contracts] or adjust them to fit modern times," he said.

He said the interim government prioritizes past agreements and will give foreign firms who hold prior contracts time to mobilize efforts to commence operations in Somalia.

But if the companies fail to comply within the agreed upon period of time, the government reserves the right to take "appropriate action," Minister Harare warned.

which may very well precipitate 'appropriate reactions', should it ever get to that. however, the end of the TFG, at least in its present form, may be on its last legs. their international backers are slowly giving up on them & their internal divisions are rendering them even more ineffective.

Posted by: b real | Oct 17, 2007 12:22:36 AM | 11

The Independent: Ethiopia's 'own Darfur' as villagers flee government-backed violence

The village, they said, had been providing food and shelter for the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a separatist rebel group . As the villagers froze in horror, the soldiers plucked out seven young women, all aged between 15 and 18, and left.

The following morning the youngest girl was found. Her body, bloodied and beaten, was hanging from a tree. The next day a second girl was found hanging from the same tree. A third suffered the same fate. The others were never seen again.
Days later, a 12-year-old boy from the same village was kidnapped by soldiers and gang-raped. Every night, soldiers would knock on doors looking for women to rape. "I did not want to wait until it happened to my family," said Mrs Mohammed. They left Kamuda and made their way across the porous border with Somalia, before travelling a further 300 miles by foot to the hot and humid port town of Bosasso.

About 100 Ethiopians are now arriving here every day. Their stories reveal the brutality of Ethiopia's hidden war, a brutal counter-insurgency that some aid officials believe has parallels with Darfur. Some estimates put the number of people displaced by the violence at 200,000 already.
Sat between a beaming Tony Blair and Sir Bob Geldof, Ethiopia's Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, could hardly have wished for a stronger endorsement. The launch of Mr Blair's Commission for Africa report in March 2005 in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, enhanced Mr Meles's position as the British Government's – and the West's – favourite African leader.

Handpicked by Mr Blair to sit on the commission, Mr Meles was viewed as the man to lead the "African renaissance". He was seen as a leader committed to development and democracy.

But within two months of the commission's report being published, Mr Meles's star began to fade. Huge street protests erupted in Addis Ababa in May 2005 following a general election which both the government and opposition claimed they had won. Security forces opened fire on protesters, killing 193 people, and thousands of opposition supporters and leaders were arrested.

I find the Darfur comparison stupid as there much different issues behind Darfur than Ogaden

Posted by: b | Oct 17, 2007 4:32:57 AM | 12

African countries have generally hoped that with the end of the cold-war, they would be free of super-power meddling and left alone to mind their own business & mind their own sovereignity. But it seems this is not to be, at least for now.

we are now entering into a dangerous phase where the African countries especially those that feel most threatened by the Africom incursion will begin to take a cold hard look at their long term interests. And who knows where this may lead to.

Africoms mission has been rejected, not just by the African leaders, but by the masses. Hardly anyone on the continent of Africa believes there is any sincerity in the Africom effort. They see it as nothing but a deception intended to ultimately take from Africa, all they have fought so hard & died for -- their sovereignity, their freedoms & their resources.

and nothing Africom does even, in a few generationss is going to change the perception of the Africans, masses & leaders alike. The sad part is that Africans reallly do want open trade & good relationships with the USA. But not through the barrel of a gun.

if this trend continues (and it probably will), along the lines of the USA/Africom dictating to the African nations (i.e. APS). we will start to see open defiance & rejection of the USA's policies by African countries. We may see large street demonstrations against the USA & a hardening of diplomatic, economic & other type relationships and also African countries rallying internally to defend themselves against USA aggression and also seeking allies internationally to help fend off the USA. This would be a disaster for USA interests in Africa.

Africom seems so convinced of its moral-superiority & concerns for Africa. Yet the Africans, leaders & masses, alike are totally unconvinced & they will feel increasingly outraged at the dubious, morally-superior & deceptive apprach by Africom.

the nature of USA/Africa relationships will in some cases begin to mirror the USA stand-offs with Venezuela, Cuba, Iran ... which amounts to even more disaster for USA interests.

The USA will have taken a friendly continent and created bitter enemies.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 17, 2007 5:13:02 AM | 13

on/off Topic.

One of the world’s most eminent scientists is at the centre of a row after reportedly claiming black people are less intelligent than whites.

James Watson, who won the Nobel Prize for his part in discovering the structure of DNA, has drawn condemnation for comments made ahead of his arrival in Britain today for a speaking tour.

Dr Watson, who now runs one of America’s leading scientific research institutions, made the controversial remarks in an interview in The Sunday Times.

The 79-year-old geneticist said he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really”.

He said he hoped that everyone was equal, but countered that “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true”.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Oct 17, 2007 7:21:13 AM | 14

Cloned Poster@14,

not off topicc at all. In fact its very central to the way Africa is perceived.

but does it really matter whether Blacks are less intelligent than Whites. Or if Chinse are more intelligent than all Whites except Germans. Or if Eskimos are less intelligent than Samoans.

I would be perfectly willing to concede that my neigbor is more intelligent than me as long as he does not use that as justification for opprressing me.

Its interesting that relative intelligence is almost always used as a device to justfy the assertion of moral superiority & opprresion. Otherwise, why would it matter ? If cats are known to be less intelligent than humans, but a particular cat happens to have the ability to rebuild a Cummins diesel engine, I would give him/her a job.

By the way, genes are a far more quantifiable resource than intelligence. And even though its been scientifically proven without dispute that Africa's gene pool is orders of magnitude larger than that of the rest of the world combined, noboody ever talks about that.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 17, 2007 9:34:26 AM | 15

the isssue of intelligence actually bears a remarkable simile to HIV. With both HIV & intelligence, we only have the means to measure the expression i.e HIV tests for antibodies & IQ tests respectively. But there is still no acceptable test for comprehensively measuring fundamental intelligence nor is there any test for measuring the fundamental presence of the HIV virus. All we reallly have is a lot of "it kinda seems like".

And quite predictably, on matters of incomplete science or observation, Blacks get the short end of the stick from the "respected/acknowledged" purveyors of political intellect, on both counts, again & again. No surprise there.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 17, 2007 9:59:08 AM | 16

The U.S. supported Somali forces storm UN compound in Mogadishu

Somali government forces stormed the UN compound in Mogadishu on Wednesday and arrested the World Food Programme's (WFP) top representative in the capital.

The Rome-based WFP promptly responded by suspending food distribution to more than 75,000 people in the city.

The relief agency said between 50 and 60 armed members of the National Security Service (NSS) stormed the UN offices in southern Mogadishu at 8:15am (0515 GMT) and took away the WFP country head, Idris Mohamed Osman, at gunpoint.

"Mr Osman is being held in a cell at NSS headquarters near the presidential palace. WFP has not received any explanation for this action, which violates international law," it said in a statement.

The agency also noted that international law bars entry to UN premises without prior permission.

Posted by: b | Oct 17, 2007 11:44:13 AM | 17

more on amd ulrich @ csis tuesday

EuroCom CO wants more attaches for Africa

To increase cooperation with African navies and boost joint maritime operations, the Navy must send more officers to Africa as naval attaches, the top U.S. admiral in Europe said Tuesday.

Adm. Harry Ulrich, commander of Naval Forces Europe, called for more naval personnel on the ground in Africa at a Washington think tank.

Ulrich explained that last year there were “only three” naval officers serving in Africa who weren’t assigned to a U.S. military installation in Djibouti. The number has since grown to 10, with “more to come”

He said the Navy needs more naval attaches and liaison officers in Africa to “build awareness of maritime operations around the continent.”

Many U.S. defense attaches in Africa are Army officers, with some from the Marine Corps and Air Force. Having more U.S. naval attaches would foster partnerships with African navies, Ulrich said, allowing the Navy to advise nations on maritime security and other matters.

one item on the agenda for the maritime security program is establishing a system for better tracking & monitoring of all sea traffic around the continent, esp in the gulf of guinea. (plans are also in effect for creating the same thing on land, tracking & controlling the flow of trade good and people, which i'll have to write on at a later time.)

as ulrich stated in his introductory remarks in monday's DoD briefing, this is one the gaps in asserting control over sea lines of communication

Now, it turns out that I, in my NATO hat, I'm in charge of air safety and security for the southern part of Europe and indeed also responsible for maritime safety and security. And when I looked at the contrast there, it was striking. I knew where every aircraft was flying over Europe in three dimensions to about 50 feet, real time. I knew where it was, where it was going, where it came from and what it was carrying. We were tracking 7,000 of these airplanes every single day. And at the same time, in the maritime domain I could only look you in the eye and say that we were tracking less than a hundred ships or even knew where the hundred ships were, and clearly there was a lot more out there.

So we looked at how we did it in the air -- you know, with little, tiny airplanes moving very, very fast in three dimensions -- and why we couldn't do it in the maritime domain with really, really fat ships that move very slow in normally in two dimensions.

And so we've changed our whole way of looking at this, and we've had some great success in this whole new discipline of maritime safety and security.

better vessel tracking will allow more accurate monitoring of where a ship/cargo/passenger is at all times as traffic in the region is expected to boom. it also functions in routing, preventing collisions, groundings, strandings, and even controlling port traffic to deny access/exit to/from unauthorized vessels. the latter can include anything from foreign fishing boats to ships commandeered for illicit transport. or even blocking national oil tankers from countries competing for that resource.

sounds like even the students at yale recognize the authentic context behind AFRICOM's mission

Student examines U.S. interest in Africa

Competition with China — not the AIDS epidemic or corrupt governments — has encouraged America to increase its involvement in Africa, Robert Berschinski ’02 GRD ’08 said Tuesday.

Berschinski — who worked for the U.S. Army War College — outlined his ideas on America’s relationship with Africa while presenting his research on the United States Africa Command, or AFRICOM, a recently established U.S. agency that will act as a liaison between the Department of Defense and all 53 countries on the African continent.
“We are paying more attention to the continent because China is paying more attention to the continent,” Berschinski said.
Many African nations are also concerned with the presence of AFRICOM, and African leaders have said it resembles colonialism, Berschinski said.

[He] said African leaders are more than aware of U.S.-China rivalry and see AFRICOM as a reincarnation of the Cold War against China.

“There is a perception that U.S. actions after the Cold War have been sporadic and ineffective and that the U.S. is looking for a resource-grab,” Berschinski said

Paul Rubinson, a Yale predoctoral fellow in security studies, said he agreed with the sentiments of African leaders who say the United States is protecting its own interests in Africa.

“I personally believe current U.S. policy is about oil and economic interests,” he said.

well it's not exactly a secret, is it. it's just not polite to talk about dominating global trade and capital flows & having a national security strategy founded on [1] not allowing any nation to challenge u.s. preeminence and [2] world security rests upon accepting the u.s.' GWOT narrative as a pretext in order for imperial expansion to proceed most efficiently.

- - - - -

a few reference materials on the u.s. in the gulf of guinea that i found helpful:

  • july 15, 2004 senate foreign relations committee hearing, The Gulf of Guinea and U.S. Strategic Energy Policy. the testimony by former u.s. assistant secretary of energy for international affairs david goldwyn is esp worth a look.
    The region is a rising gas power as well. If current projects under development are brought to fruition, Nigeria, Angola and Equatorial Guinea will increase their liquefaction capacity from 9 million tons (M/T) per year to nearly 40 MT per year. These nations are growing as suppliers because they have opened their economies to Western investment. While most of the world’s oil reserves are closed to international oil companies, the Gulf of Guinea has offered nearly 15% returns on investment. These terms (and high prices) will attract $30- $40 billion in investment this decade.

  • two articles in the january issue of the naval postgraduate school's publication strategic insights
    - Enhancing Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea
    - Insider’s Perspective: Creating a Culture of Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea

  • the online book Oil Policy in the Gulf of Guinea

  • mark sorbara's "The United States and Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea", available here

    Posted by: b real | Oct 17, 2007 3:18:00 PM | 18

  • Just a follow-up to the Watson bullshit I cut and pasted from a news site today.

    I ran a few aid programmes in Africa and also ran a business. As far is IQ goes Watson is a Nazi in his views.

    When it comes to corruption, Africa is up their in guile but not in the big league of relative volume.

    Zanzibar, where I visited frequently, has always been a US Navy/Airforce base they would cherish, but the stubborn Tanzanians have always said no. I wonder why, is it their guile and IQ?

    Posted by: Cloned Poster | Oct 17, 2007 4:04:50 PM | 19

    and here's some verrrrry intelligent stuff from James Watson, the great Nobel expert:

    In 1997, he told a British newspaper that a woman should have the right to abort her unborn child if tests could determine it would be homosexual. He later insisted he was talking about a "hypothetical" choice which could never be applied. He has also suggested a link between skin colour and sex drive, positing the theory that black people have higher libidos, and argued in favour of genetic screening and engineering on the basis that "stupidity" could one day be cured. He has claimed that beauty could be genetically manufactured, saying: "People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty. I think it would great."

    in his world, Oprah would be genetically re-manufactured to look like Brittney Spears, and Brittney herself would receive a synthetic Oprah-brain.

    Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 17, 2007 5:50:30 PM | 20

    this is kinda wierd - the state department posting an informerical for coca-cola in it's news releases

    U.S. Soft Drink Company Teaches African Teens About AIDS

    the soft drink company is spending some money in africa to increase aids awareness. no mention of whether they're also increasing the awareness of the health dangers of their product, ranging from the rise of cavities, obesity & diabetes in youth due to the high-fructose syrup content to the mental/nervous system issues surrounding aspartame. or the wider repurcussions of depleting aquifers to produce their soft drinks & bottled water.

    Posted by: b real | Oct 18, 2007 12:02:40 AM | 21

    I would like to stress the importance of a point made earlier by BReal, the extention of ACRI (now ACOTA) to the African countries still considered 'francophone.' Most important of this group is Senegal, which has ties with Rwanda's government and is a large contributor to the AU mission in Darfur. As noted, it is not just military training, but anglophone political indoctrination and is a way to extend influence over a foreign miltiary without ever firing a shot. And its good PR! This is nothing new. Communists did it in Africa as well to extend their ideals. Wallonians and French did as well. US is now the leading country perhaps. NDU, ACSS, all increasing enrollments.

    Some former DAOs have been calling for more attache positions in Africa since the early 1990s. Once the CIA stations closed after the Cold War, the DIA was the primary intel. gathering and analyzing branch at the DOD for Africa. The DOD resisted the idea in the past, but perhaps they have endured a paradigm shift over the last 13 or so years. I would also look for USAID and other like organizations to embed more agents and pick up the COINT slack on the continent.

    Posted by: David Barouski | Oct 18, 2007 2:16:33 PM | 22

    the guardian has some more information on the story b picked up on in #17 re somali forces entering a un compound & kidnapping the head of the world food program operation in mogadishu. so far it's the only source acknowledging a reason.

    UN chief held over use of mosques in famine relief

    Somali government troops stormed a United Nations compound in Mogadishu and arrested the country head of the World Food Programme (WFP), in protest at a decision to distribute food aid through a network of mosques.
    No reason was given for the arrest, which prompted an immediate suspension of WFP work in the capital. But UN officials said it was linked to a new method of food distribution that began on Monday using 42 local mosques to get aid to more than 75,000 people in Mogadishu.

    The WFP, which is struggling to deal with a growing hunger crisis in Somalia, had been unable to directly distribute food in the capital since June 25 due to violence and looting. "Going through the mosques guaranteed us a level of security the government cannot give," said a UN official in Nairobi, who requested anonymity.

    Although Somalia is almost completely Muslim, the transitional government views mosques, particularly in Mogadishu, with suspicion. The Somali Council of Islamic Courts, which took over the capital last year before being defeated by invading Ethiopian forces, used clerics to help draw in supporters. Remnants of the Islamists' militant wing are behind a growing insurgency in the capital.

    The authorities draw little distinction between civilians and the insurgents that live among them, so humanitarian assistance is often a source of tension. Mohamed Dheere, the mayor of Mogadishu and a government ally, recently accused aid agencies of giving food aid to terrorists.

    that was the incident i pointed out several weeks back where dheere was threatening to attack idp camps, claiming they sheltered the wives & children of 'terrorists', which elicited outrage from NGOs who feared plans were underway to wipe out some camps. well, w/ the wfp chief kidnapped resulting in the suspension of food & such to the idp's, some of the camper's are indeed in jeopardy of being wiped out now.

    and ethiopia appears actively involved now to prevent the TFG prime minister gedi from being sacked by parliament. over the past two weeks there was a motion to force gedi to face a no-confidence vote as the imposed govt has failed to achieve any improvements -- quite the opposite, actually -- and is acting in an unaccountable manner, esp wrt the somali people at large.

    oct 11: Somalia: Ministers Demand Confidence Vote

    Somalia's transitional federal government (TFG) has been thrown into disarray after 22 ministers signed a letter demanding a vote of confidence in the government.

    "We have given the letter requesting the confidence vote to the speaker of parliament [Sheikh Aden Madobe] this morning [11 October]," said Justice Minister Hassan Dhimbil Warsame.

    Twenty-two out of 30 ministers signed the letter, he said.

    Warsame said the ministers took the action "after it became very clear that this government was not up to the job and has failed to deliver what the Somali people wanted".
    A member of parliament who requested anonymity told IRIN that Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi "was in serious trouble, given that a majority in his own cabinet is lobbying for the no confidence vote".

    He said Gedi will need 139 votes out of the 275-member parliament to survive. "I honestly don't see how he will marshal such numbers."

    yusuf is also said to be ready to dump gedi, having suffered a growing split recently esp over new oil draft legislation. a recent reuters story put it like this

    Gedi and Yusuf, who both ascended to power via Ethiopian maneuvering, have long feuded. A truce since the last no-confidence vote in 2006 shattered earlier this year when they backed rival concerns looking for oil exploration rights.

    "Yusuf has said Gedi must go, legally or illegally. It's not a secret," said a Somali expert with close ties to the Gedi and Yusuf camps.

    Yusuf's side argues Gedi's term has expired under the transitional federal charter. Gedi insists he has the law and time behind him.

    But Yusuf's allies arrested the chief justice of the supreme court on corruption charges late last month, leaving no legal arbiter to interpret the constitutional question.

    Whether Gedi stays or goes, the vote likely means a delay in moving the interim government closer to its goal of building up institutions amid a persistent insurgency in Mogadishu, and growing conflict with breakaway Somaliland in the north.

    "What we want is people to start working in the right direction. The way things are, we consider it disastrous," said a Western diplomat on condition of anonymity.

    "They have to realize the international community is becoming more and more fed up, because we have the impression that they are manipulating us."

    at first, gedi tried to line up some fellow hawiye clan leaders to support him, but that effort proved too little too late & pressure continued building for another confidence vote (he's survived one previously, but that was before the TFG was restored to a position of power by u.s.-backed ethiopian forces at the turn of the year.)

    so the external actors are getting more involved.

    as the date for the confidence vote arrived on wednesday, gedi either was suddenly called to or decided to run to addis ababa, the capital of ethiopia, for either some consultation or protection.

    Somalia parliament postpones debate over prime minister's future

    BAIDOA, Somalia Oct 17 (Garowe Online) - Somali legislators meeting in the southwestern town of Baidoa postponed debate Wednesday over the fate of Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi in light of his sudden trip to Addis Ababa.
    Prime Minister Gedi flew from Baidoa today to the Ethiopian capital. According to Speaker Madobe, the Somali Prime Minister was invited to Addis Ababa by the African Union and the Ethiopian government.

    "His [Gedi's] trip is related to efforts by the African Union and our Ethiopian friends to find peaceful resolution to the dispute," Madobe said, referring to growing political discord between Gedi and President Abdullahi Yusuf that has resonated throughout the government.

    Yusuf and Speaker Madobe have also been invited to Addis Ababa to partake in discussions, reliable sources in Baidoa said.

    The Somali president wants Prime Minister Gedi to face a vote of no confidence motion proposed by members of parliament.

    But Gedi has refused to appear in front of lawmakers and warned last week that attempts to unseat him might spark civil unrest in Somalia.

    and then on thursday there was this story

    Ethiopian soldiers halt Somalia Cabinet meeting

    BAIDOA, Somalia Oct 18 (Garowe Online) - Ethiopian military officers in the Somali town of Baidoa ordered local police to stop a meeting of Cabinet ministers who have expressed their opposition to the administration of Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi.

    Some 22 Somali Cabinet ministers were supposed to hold a meeting in Baidoa Thursday, but the meeting was shut down prematurely by police, sources said.

    The order to stop the meeting came from Ethiopian commanders, government sources in Baidoa said.

    "They [Ethiopians] said the Cabinet cannot meet without [Prime Minister] Gedi present," said a local security source familiar with the incident.

    The 22 Somali government ministers issued a statement last week threatening to resign if Premier Gedi refuses to appear in front of parliament and face a vote of confidence motion, a move many believe is supported by President Abdullahi Yusuf.

    gedi is scheduled to return on saturday, when the vote is to be taken up, though whether that actually happens remains to be seen. however, w/ the kidnapping of the u.n. chief, the northern regions on the brink of civil war, and relentless attacks by the insurgents throughout mogadishu & the south, the TFG is quickly gonna lose the public support of its international backers & is more than likely to wash their hands of both gedi & yusuf, despite ethiopia's efforts.

    Posted by: b real | Oct 19, 2007 2:15:11 AM | 23

    the article is just a recap of the press briefing that this post covered, but the headline writer at african oil journal knew the real story -- USS Fort McHenry Navy Ship Left for Gulf of Guinea to protect Oil Interests

    also, i'm sure the brits secured passage on the partnerhip

    UK to Increase Oil Investments in Angola

    The United Kingdom plans to expand its investments in Angola’s oil sector, especially in production and supply of equipment, the British ambassador to Angola said in Luanda .

    The information was given to Angolan news agency Angop by Ambassador Ralph Publicover, on the sidelines of an informal meeting with British businesspeople who traveled to Angola to analyze the market and establish commercial partnerships.
    “We already have some companies in the Angolan market, such as BP-Angola, a company which has invested over US$3 billion. In the short term we want to see other companies move into the market and therefore we are supporting contacts by business missions from our country interested in investing in the Angolan market,” the diplomat said. The visit by the British businesspeople also aimed to identify potential joint venture and help UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), a British government institution that promotes international trade and the UKWAAG (United Kingdom West African Action Group) to find new trade opportunities.

    The UK’s interest is due to Angola being the second largest producer of oil in sub-Saharan Africa, and because it recently became a member of the Organization of Oil Producing Countries (OPEC).

    The development of the UK’s offshore resources in the North Sea, is one of the most applauded successes of the last 30 years, and the country has played a significant role in the development of the world petrochemical and refinery industries.

    also in the gulf of guinea

    Equatorial Guinea Launches LNG Project

    The Equatorial Guinea liquefied natural gas, or EG LNG, project has been formally launched at a ceremony in Malabo, the country's capital, Radio Nigeria reported.
    The $1.5 billion EG LNG plant, which has a 3.4 million tons per annum capacity, was built on the northwest side of Bioko Island at Punta Europe, near Malabo. It made its first shipment to the U.S. in May 2007.

    Ken Woodworth, EG LNG managing director said at the launch that the plant was completed six months ahead of schedule and within budget. He said that with Train 1 in place, the company would supply 3.4 million tons of LNG per annum to BG Gas Marketing Ltd for the next 17 years.

    "It is our hope that this train will be a catalyst for the development of future trains for EG LNG, further raising Equatorial Guinea's standing among the world's LNG producing countries," Woodworth said.

    Clarence Cazalot, president of U.S.-headquartered Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO) said work on the plant had set a new standard with which future worldwide LNG projects would be judged.

    Marathon Oil Corp. which owns 60% of the shares in the project and the other EG LNG shareholders commenced preliminary construction of the Train 1 project in December 2003. Equatorial Guinea has an estimated reserve of 30 trillion cubic feet of gas.

    The gas for Train1 is sourced from the Alba field in Equatorial Guinea. A second train is currently being considered which will rely on gas being transported from Cameroon and Nigeria.

    all aboard!

    Avarice and greed are gonna drive you over the endless sea
    They will leave you drifting in the shallows
    Drowning in the oceans of history
    Traveling the world, you're in search of no good
    But I'm sure you'll build your Sodom like you knew you would
    Using all the good people for your galley slaves
    As your little boat struggles through the warning waves
    But you don't, pay

    You will pay tomorrow
    You're gonna pay tomorrow
    You're gonna pay tomorrow

    Oh, save me, save me from tomorrow
    I don't want to sail with this Ship of Fools, no, no
    Oh, save me, save me from tomorrow
    I don't want to sail with this Ship of Fools, no, no

    Posted by: b real | Oct 19, 2007 2:32:55 AM | 24

    now that the USA's new posture on Africa has been made clear, what are the other interested parties going to do ? Well, they'll figure that if what they have been doing so far has tweaked the USA enough to cause such a major storm, why not keep doing it. Hence China is probaby going to really step up its economic, diplomatic & development initiatives in Africa. And the Africans will probably be ever more agree-able. And the Chinese will surely have a few of their own hints & suggestions ready whenever the inevitable question comes up on how to deal with the increasingly ominous USA threat. And as the the USA approach finds growing dis-favor with the masses, the Chinese will look to bring their message to the streets.

    The Venezuelans have also been very busy in Africa, with their own initiatives and like China, lots of cash to back it up. They will step it up too. Ironically, the new USA posture may have the result of emboldening Africans who are interested in re-structuring their oil & resource industries, possibly using the massive reforms in Venezuela (and Russia and Bolivia) as models. Chavez (part African himself) probably sees it as a duty to step it up for Africa's cause just as he has for Lebanon where he is welcomed as a hero.

    ironically, it may eventually turn out that on their own, the Africans had been doing a far better job at protecting USA interests & keeping China at bay, than Africom is ultimately able to acccomplish.

    Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 19, 2007 6:00:13 AM | 25

    thank you for comments, david. (david's blog african news analysis is a good resource, esp on current events in central africa, and his investigative reports & research are very valuable & knowledgable.) you're correct about USAID, i'd wager, as they've been heavily involved in AFRICOM's transition & agenda setting since last november.

    _ _ _

    another journalist assassination in mogadishu today, this time the acting head of radio shabelle, bashiir noor gedi

    SOMALIA: Radio Shabelle manager assassinated

    The acting manager of the independent Somali station Radio Shabelle was assassinated outside his home in Mogadishu today by unknown gunmen, according to station employees and local journalists.

    Bashiir Noor Gedi was attempting to return to his home in the Hamar Jadid neighborhood after he and other Radio Shabelle employees had been holed up in the station for roughly a week because of a series of threats, according to journalists who spoke with his family. More than a dozen Radio Shabelle staffers were still inside the station's headquarters tonight, fearful of leaving the premises, according to Radio Shabelle Chairman Abdimaalik Yusuf, who is in exile in London.

    "We condemn the brutal killing of Bashiir Noor Gedi and extend our deepest condolences to his family and colleagues," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "The Somali transitional government must conduct a thorough and transparent investigation and ensure that all Radio Shabelle staff can return to their respective homes safely."

    Shabelle, considered one of the leading stations in Somalia, has been harrassed, threatened, and attacked by both government security forces and insurgents because of its critical reporting of the ongoing violence in Mogadishu. Shabelle was forced to close for 15 days this fall before resuming its broadcasts on October 3.

    shabelle media has really been harassed & intimidated by the somali govt over the course of this year, being shot at, shot up, invaded & closed multiple times, and w/ employees being detained, abused, & threatened by the deputy head of national security, soldiers, military officers, govt officials, and others. the govt has been repeatedly trying to shut down these radio stations, which are the sole source of news (in lieu of newspapers & other print) in the country, most recently having declared that all media must be registered & approved w/ the TFG in order to operate in somalia. they've also tried to make it illegal to report anything critical about the TFG or their operations.

    on sept 18 soldiers detained all the workers at the shabelle media HQ & then shot up the equipment, putting the popular station off the air for the next 15 days & serving as the last straw for many of the employees there, fleeing finally, as their lives were undeniably in danger.

    even jendayi frazer has had to admit that the TFG's stance on press freedom is intolerable, so that's really saying something.

    today's assassination of the head of shabelle media network marks the 8th journalist to be killed in somalia in '07 and comes only 17 days after smn returned to the airwaves.

    and today, in puntland
    Radio Garowe Closed, three of its Journalists Arrested

    The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) today condemns the closing of Radio Garowe in Puntland, northeastern Somalia, and the subsequent arrest of three of its journalists.

    Heavily armed security forces of Puntland Regional State stormed the premises of Radio Garowe, and ordered the management to shutdown the radio around 17 hours local time, according to journalists in Garowe and Garoweonline.

    The security forces also arrested three journalists of the radio whose names and titles are: Abdi Farah Jama Mire, Director of the Radio; Isse Abdullahi Mohammed, Editor of the Radio; and Mohammed Dahir Yusuf, a Producer.

    The motive behind the closure is not known, but Puntland journalists told NUSOJ that it is all about news report of a member of National Security Agency of Somalia who escaped from the agency and afterwards spoke to the media by criticising the behaviour of security agency in Mogadishu, which Radio Garowe reported.

    -- --- -- --- --

    also, south african reggae star lucky dube was shot & killed thursday night by unknown gunmen as he was shuttling his children around johannesburg

    Posted by: b real | Oct 20, 2007 12:50:53 AM | 26

    Posted by: b real | Oct 20, 2007 1:51:53 AM | 27

    b real @27

    is this a psyop?

    just doesn't sound right

    vey good question.

    Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 20, 2007 11:07:39 AM | 28

    south african reggae star lucky dube was shot & killed thursday night


    Posted by: annie | Oct 20, 2007 12:42:02 PM | 29

    it looks like the vanguard story i pointed out in #27 is a composite from an interview that jomo allegedly conducted w/ the times of nigeria prior to monday oct 15 (note: link does not work at this moment -- database error returned) but reproduced at the following
    MEND Threatens To Blow-Up Bridges In Lagos If…!

    it adds to the confusion centering around whether jomo is actually henry okah, the individual arrested in angola. one can find many articles stating affirmatively that they are indeed the same person, yet there are still communiques issuing from somebody claiming to be jomo. some stories cite analysts saying that the latest emails have a different style than jomo is know for, but i haven't followed MEND releases closely enough to comment on it.

    on the stmts regarding car bombs though, in the context of the interview it is clear that the targets remain the oil infrastructure & federal govt. the single reference to bridgework sounds like a threat of one possible obstacle for further JTF raids in the creeks, not a terrorist threat against the civilian population.

    since this was an interview & not an official MEND stmt, that would explain why i wasn't able to find other references to it, as gbomo's emails generally travel far & wide.

    probably not a smart move for MEND to talk about car bombs at this point though, as power can easily equate it to "terrorism" ala iraq & islamic sponsors (iran) as we've seen happen in somalia where the press is unable report on roadside bombings w/o prepending "iraq-style" to their txts.

    so... is this really jomo or another official MEND spokesperson? that seems more probable to me than it being manufactured to further discredit the militants. since it was published on monday, if the govt or u.s. embassy really wanted to capitalize on sensationalizing it, that likely would have already happened. and friday's u.s. embassy warning does not appear to use any of this interview as its source.

    -- --- --- --- --

    audio interview w/ michael weinstein (somalia expert at PINR)
    Expert: Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia 'a disastrous miscalculation'

    But Dr. Weinstein was most critical of open-handed U.S. and European support for the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia.

    The U.S. and European governments have been "pushed into a corner by their own doing" by openly backing the Ethiopian invasion, according to Dr. Weinstein.

    He likened Ethiopia's "disastrous miscalculation" in Somalia to the ongoing U.S. quagmire in Iraq.

    "Western donor powers have been absolutely stupid" by backing the Ethiopia-TFG military push to unseat the Islamic Courts movement late last year, Dr. Weinstein argued. He said that the Islamist takeover of Mogadishu in mid-2006 was "a genuine revolution" that brought peace to Mogadishu.

    "backing" is only partially correct though, as we've seen. the u.s. strongly encouraged ethiopia to invade, established an int'l coalition to support it, provided u.n. cover for it, and has actively prevented meles on multiple occassions from withdrawing his troops from what was initially conceived as an operation that would only take a few weeks to complete. as one analyst at the national interest opined,

    The thing that made encouraging the Ethiopians so easy is that Somalia didn’t really have a central government in place, which made breaching its sovereignty so easy.

    one casualty of the snowball created by that easy act was buried today in mogadishu (pix at link)
    Shabelle’s acting manager laid to rest

    The deceased has left behind 10 children and three wives.
    Hassan kalkata, a Shabelle journalist, says that they would miss a great man.

    so how easy do you suppose it will be for those 10 children now?

    Posted by: b real | Oct 20, 2007 4:58:36 PM | 30

    Jomo Gbomo's communiques had quite a unique & recogniizable style. But theres not a lot of info on this story for now. If the past is any indication though, its only a matter of time.

    Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 20, 2007 8:11:09 PM | 31

    stars and stripes: Stuttgart officials struggle to find a solution for crowded classrooms at Patch, Panzer caserns

    STUTTGART, Germany — Garrison and school leaders in Stuttgart are looking at ways to build more classrooms to lessen the crowding caused in part by the new U.S. Africa Command.

    Expansion at Patch Elementary School at Patch Barracks, which in 13 months grew from 476 students to around 600, is under particular scrutiny.

    One plan presented last week that caused furrowed brows from the school principal and others called for building four classrooms on a large portion of the playground.

    Another proposal would expand Boeblingen Elementary-Middle School at nearby Panzer Casern. At the start of last school year, some students there didn’t have desks.
    About 800 employees — many bringing their families — are expected to join the command in the next year.
    The garrison’s and schools’ military clientele — mostly an upscale mix of officers, Defense Department civilians and contractors — have been vocal in criticizing the handling of issues such as redistricting.

    At an August town-hall meeting, attendees shouted down a plan that would have bused some kindergartners and elementary students an hour or more to Robinson Barracks.

    Last week, Patch Elementary’s advisory council of parents, teachers and administrators panned the plan to build classrooms on the playground.

    Playtime, said Robert Allen, the principal, is a vital part of the students’ days.

    “You just don’t lock kids into little plastic chairs for four hours and expect them to produce,” Allen said.

    if those "upscale" parents are complaining now, what's gonna happen when/if they relocate to africa...

    Posted by: b real | Oct 21, 2007 10:12:58 PM | 32


    nobody seems to want to let Africom build anything. The Africans won't let them build a base, and the school board wo'nt let them build more classrooms for the kids. These kids may ultimately have to be home-schooled.

    Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 22, 2007 1:50:07 AM | 33

    Militants invade Shell platform, abduct 4 Nigerians, 3 expatriates

    No fewer than 300 militants, armed with sub-machine guns, explosives and other sophisticated guns, and moving in about 30 speedboats, Saturday night, invaded the EA oil field, a Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) facility at Amatu, Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, overpowered the military men watching over and abducted four Nigerian and three expatriate oil workers - an American, Croatian and a Russian.

    A civilian was reportedly injured in the operation that caught the naval personnel unawares. A top military source told Vanguard, yesterday, that the renewed assault was as a result of the breakdown in the political negotiation between militants and the government, adding that the militants passed information that they would strike before they carried out the audacious operation, weekend.
    The EA Field with a 115, 000 barrel per day capacity has been dormant since production from the Sea Eagle FPSO was shut in February last year.
    The Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) claimed responsibility for the action.

    The group in an online statement said: "Yesterday (Saturday), at about 8.45 p.m Nigerian time, combatants and operatives of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) successfully attacked an EA field vessel belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company taking away three hostages.
    Navy Captain Ojediran said the since the attack, Saturday night, the Navy was doing everything possible to ensure protection of the facility and the workers, adding that naval personnel ships have been mobilised from the NNS, Delta and Lagos to the area.

    A senior naval officer who preferred anonymity told Vanguard: “The truth is that our men were overpowered and there was nothing they could do in the circumstance because these boys were better armed. You have to see the commando style that they came, we could not stop them.

    Posted by: b real | Oct 22, 2007 3:35:24 PM | 34

    this is interesting -- performed a google search on "africom" -- didn't follow any links or open any new windows nor were there any images or ads in the search results -- and rcvd a cookie from on my machine. same thing happens for "eucom" but not for any of the other geographic unified combatant commands.

    Posted by: b real | Oct 22, 2007 11:30:52 PM | 35

    Posted by: b real | Oct 22, 2007 11:58:53 PM | 36

    one more, from the times of nigeria, just to make things more confusing

    MEND Accuse Angola Of Torturing Detained Leader

    Less than twenty four hours after releasing seven hostages who were kidnapped two days ago, Nigerian rebel group, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta is accusing the Angolan government of torturing one of its leaders, Henry Okah who has been detained in Angola since September this year without charges.
    “We will hold the Nigerian government responsible for anything that happens to Henry. It is the Nigerian government that is responsible for his predicament. He has not done anything illegal in Angolan and has not been charged with any offence by the country.”
    MEND said it believes that the first email that came out claiming responsibility for the attack on Shell EA fields was put out by the Nigerian government to incriminate Okah.

    “We are now beginning to fear that that fake email statement which emphasised on attacking Angolan interest was made up by the government.”

    Posted by: b real | Oct 23, 2007 12:14:29 AM | 37

    the Nigerian govt, does not seem to normally engage in torturing political prisoners. There may have been rare exceptions in the past though, possibly under Abacha.

    but what are the Angolans going to do with Okah ? Normallly, it would seem the Nigerians would want to have him repatriated. But then again, if sent to Nigeria, he will probably be released within months due to political pressure. They may not even be able to keep him detained in the absence of strong evidence. And there are tons of excellent lawyers there who would represent him for free.

    it may be that the Nigerians want Angola to see how much info they can get out of him before repartriation. This may be a case of "rendition by default". Its also likely the Nigerians have asked the Angolans to charge him for whatever he was arrested for. But it seems the Angolans do not want any further part of this & will release him if the Nigerians do not take him of their hands soon.

    Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 23, 2007 3:34:23 AM | 38

    u.s. state dept: U.S. Companies Urged To Invest in African Infrastructure: Opportunities are being missed due to excess caution, experts say

    Washington -- U.S. and African business leaders and officials are encouraging U.S. companies to take a bolder approach to investment opportunities created by rapid economic growth in Africa.

    At an October conference on infrastructure organized by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), they urged U.S. companies not to wait for an ideal business climate but to consider investing now in up-and-coming sub-Saharan countries.

    With lower inflation rates, improved budgets and economic policies, and greater political stability, sub-Saharan nations have a better chance than ever to sustain growth, according to an October report by the International Monetary Fund.
    Without substantial infrastructure improvements, African nations will have difficulty diversifying their economies and facilitating international trade, experts say.
    ..U.S. agencies that support trade have begun targeting infrastructure projects in Africa. By providing technical assistance, credit guarantees and political risk insurance or by financing feasibility studies, they have backed projects ranging from a railway and hydropower and geothermal power stations to telecommunication networks, pipelines and housing projects.

    [CCA President Stephen] Hayes said U.S. companies can compete successfully in several areas -- such as housing, roads, hotels and water and sanitation systems -- where great opportunities exist.

    Yet “we don’t deploy private equity aggressively enough and early enough,” said Robert Mosbacher, the head of the Overseas Private Insurance Corporation (OPIC). OPIC provides political-risk insurance to U.S. companies doing business in developing nations.

    Hayes said the United States has not been keeping up with South Africa, China, Europe, India and Gulf countries, which all have been investing heavily in Africa. U.S. corporations’ and banks’ cautious approach to investment in the region stems from predominantly bad publicity it receives in the U.S. media, he said.
    But Hayes said the U.S. government needs to be more engaged and give more support to U.S. companies to get them to push more aggressively into Africa. So far, he said, it has not supported U.S. private sector efforts as strongly as the governments of China, India and South Africa have supported efforts by their own companies.

    Posted by: b real | Oct 24, 2007 10:55:12 AM | 39

    Nigeria: FG May Review PSCS With Oil Companies

    Former president, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Dr Rilwan Lukman, has hinted that government may reconsider some of the generous terms in the Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs), Memoranda of Understanding and Joint Venture operations, which currently favour multinational oil companies operating in Nigeria, as part of on-going reforms in the oil and gas sector.

    The idea, which may also include review of extant laws, is to ensure Nigeria gets more value-added benefits.

    The former OPEC boss also warned that the enactment of the legislation designed to outlaw OPEC by the United States of America was not in America's best interest, as it would turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory.

    Describing the No-OPEC law as unfortunate, Lukman, who is also Special Adviser to President Umaru Yar'Adua on Energy, told local and international media in Abuja yesterday, that should the US succeed in eliminating OPEC, there would be no group to moderate in bringing down oil prices on the international market, as the organisation has always done when prices were getting too high.

    He said as a result of the current soar-away prices of crude on the international market, which has gone beyond the all-time high of $85 per barrel, the OPEC has already ordered a cut of 500,000 barrels per day by its member-states, adding that once there is no OPEC, individual nations would be at liberty to produce whatever volumes it desires as is presently done by non-OPEC members.

    Lukman, therefore, advised the U.S. to rethink its action, as it was in its interest for the OPEC to continue to exist and play its noble role.

    Nigeria considers oil contracts review

    Nigeria wants to review its contracts with international oil companies as part of a major shake-up in the energy sector, perhaps imposing tougher conditions to exploit soaring global crude prices.

    Rilwanu Lukman, chairman of Nigeria’s oil and gas reform committee, said in his first public remarks since taking the job in August that the country might have to revisit some of the ”generous terms” granted to Western majors.

    President Umaru Yar’Adua has pledged sweeping changes in the energy sector after winning elections in April, hoping to increase production and solve Nigeria’s chronic fuel and power shortages.

    The president appointed Mr Lukman, a former OPEC secretary-general, as a special adviser, hoping he will steer the reforms in Africa’s biggest crude exporter.

    Speaking at the Abuja headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the state oil company, Mr Lukman said Nigeria needed to take a new look at agreements with international energy companies.
    ”We have used the oil and gas industry as a kind of national cash cow. Now we want to take a conscious decision to use this resources for an intelligent and pro-active means of actually driving our economy forward.”

    Nigeria: Why U.S. Troops're in Gulf of Guinea, By Azazi

    Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. General Andrew Owoye Azazi yesterday allayed the fears of Nigerians on the continued presence of United States military in the Gulf of Guinea.

    Speaking at a forum in Abuja on Tuesday, the Defence chief said that Nigerians should not get unnecessarily worried over the matter as the troops are there just to give peace in the area. General Azazi said that US likes to have relative peace anywhere they have business interest.

    "US wants relative peace to be able to undertake their business" he said pointing out that there is no other motive behind their troops presence to worry anybody.

    Africa: Private Security Firms Seek Greater Peacekeeping Role

    Private military contractors (PMCs) are seeking to play a greater role in peacekeeping in Africa to make up for what they claim to be the inability of UN missions and state militaries to ensure the continent's security and humanitarian development.

    During a three-day conference in Nairobi that brought together UN agencies, NGOs, officials of numerous governments and several private sector companies, PMCs said they had much to offer in terms of logistics, personnel and expertise.

    Doug Brooks, the president of the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA), an industry body for PMCs, said that while such contractors would not replace existing peace missions, they could enhance peace and stability in regions plagued by protracted conflict such as Sudan's Darfur and Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) North Kivu.

    "The West has been an unreliable peacekeeping operations partner in Africa and this has made the peace missions diverse, unsupported and ineffective," said Brooks.

    "It is significantly cheaper to hire expertise and equipment from companies than it is for militaries to attempt to maintain them for years or decades."

    -- reminder --

    ...a dinner and conference organised by an influential group of US "private military companies", the IPOA (International Peace Operations Association).

    Ms Whelan told the group the Pentagon was keen to see them operate in Africa, saying: "Contractors are here to stay in supporting US national security objectives overseas." They were cheaper, and saved the use of US forces in peacekeeping and training.

    She added: "The US can be supportive in trying to ameliorate regional crises without necessarily having to put US troops on the ground, which is often a very difficult political decision _ Sometimes we may not want to be very visible." [link]

    Posted by: b real | Oct 24, 2007 2:51:11 PM | 40

    Nigeria to Revise Foreign Company Oil Deals

    Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer, is looking to renegotiate several contracts with foreign oil companies, senior Nigerian oil officials said Wednesday, in a move to boost the government's share of oil revenues.

    The planned changes will make it harder for foreign firms to pocket energy profits and to book crucial crude oil reserves in the West African nation.

    The surprising development comes after a long period in which Nigeria had been a beacon of honoring contracts and not mimicking other oil nations around the world in recent years, like Venezuela, where the government has forced unfavorable contract changes on foreign operators.

    "The oil contracts in place provide for periodic review and renegotiation. That time has arrived and the Nigerian government is doing that now," Rilwanu Lukman, an energy advisor to Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua, told Dow Jones Newswires.

    Rewriting those contracts will take months to complete and will affect several major oil companies, such as Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA), Chevron Corp. (CVX), Total SA (TOT) and Eni SpA (E).

    Shell, the biggest foreign oil operator in Nigeria, and Total are the most exposed to changes in contracts in Nigeria in terms of reserves, analysts at ING said in a research note. "Any actual change to fiscal terms in Nigeria would be negative for (Shell's) stock in particular, albeit there is perhaps a long way to go yet before any actual impact is proposed, negotiated or confirmed," ING said.

    Governments Demand a Bigger Share of Oil

    TORONTO (AP) — The oil industry is under assault globally by nations and even provinces who want companies like Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Suncor to cough up more royalties they can use to address issues like poverty and education.

    First it was Venezuela. Now, Nigeria is reviewing its relationships with international oil companies and the oil-rich Canadian province of Alberta is set to announce a decision Thursday on increasing royalties from the energy industry. It's a move the industry warns could devastate Alberta's oil patch.

    At least once analyst compared Alberta to Venezuela last month after a government-appointed panel called for the province to boost its total take from the energy industry by 20 percent a year, or roughly $2 billion.

    Under President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela raised royalty and tax rates on foreign oil companies, then later took majority control of all oil projects as part of a larger nationalization drive of "strategic" economic sectors. Chavez says those policies are ensuring that oil benefits Venezuelans instead of foreign corporations and governments.

    Russia and Bolivia have also asserted greater state control over their oil or natural gas assets in recent years.

    ExxonMobil Cranks Up Again Offshore Angola

    ExxonMobil's subsidiary, Esso Exploration Angola (Block 15) Ltd., successfully started up production from the Marimba North project offshore Angola. Ahead of schedule and within budget, the project is expected to develop 80 million barrels of oil.
    ExxonMobil holds interest in four blocks offshore Angola that span an excess of 3 million gross acres. The company's subsidiary Esso is the operator of Block 15 with 40% interest.

    Africa's gendarme France not hanging up baton yet

    DAKAR, Oct 25 (Reuters) - France is trying to shed its reputation as "Africa's policeman" but, despite efforts to involve European partners in peacekeeping missions, there are no signs it will hang up its baton just yet.

    France won backing last month for an EU force to be deployed soon in east Chad and Central African Republic, where it already has troops stationed. The EU force will protect civilians from a 4-year-old conflict spilling across from Sudan's Darfur region.

    This marks progress in Paris' new policy of involving European allies in a region it once regarded as its "backyard". But France will still provide the bulk of the troops of the up to 3,000-strong EU contingent, and its logistical backbone.
    France has five bases on mainland Africa -- in Ivory Coast, Senegal, Gabon, Chad and Djibouti -- with 11,000 men there. The United States, by contrast, has 1,800 troops in Djibouti and Britain only has training missions in Kenya and Sierra Leone.
    France's bases in Africa do not overlap with her commercial interests, which lie in oil producers Angola and Nigeria, and in South Africa. But France's military and political sway in Africa are important to its claims to be a world power, analysts say.

    President Nicolas Sarkozy, who took office in May, has pledged to end France's cosy ties with Africa's ruling elites, known as "Francafrique". But on his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa, he courted a pillar of this system, Gabonese President Omar Bongo, installed by French troops in 1964.

    Gordon Brown and Africa

    Where does this concern for Africa come from? Mr. Brown is the son of a Presbyterian Church of Scotland minister and grew up in a poor part of Glasgow and later in the small Scottish town of Kirkcaldy. From his father he inherited his ideals; strictly moral, puritanical and serious, careful with money and caring for others. As a youth he had to sneak out of home to buy the Sunday papers and hide them because his father disapproved of shopping on the Sabbath. Some might call this upbringing typically Scottish. In the mid-nineteenth century, David Livingstone, another Scottish Presbyterian minister and explorer of Africa, had called for missionaries to bring Christianity to ":the Dark Continent." The Church of Scotland had responded enthusiastically, sending thousands of young idealistic Christians to Africa for more than a century to bring their religion and education to Africans. Their feed-back through the Church increased Scotland's sense of international mission, particularly for Africa. It affected subsequent generations including the young Gordon Brown. Aged 11, he organized a sale to raise money for refugees.

    A precocious child, he was pushed through school to Edinburgh University at the age of 16, but was badly injured in a rugby game and suffered a loss of sight. An operation and two months lying in a darkened room saved one eye but he is blind in the other. That experience, friends say, made him a man in a hurry, driven by almost missionary zeal.
    The missionary background of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries turned into the aid agency and volunteering movement after the Second World War. Many of those who founded and ran organizations such as Oxfam, Christian Aid, and Save the Children Fund came from church backgrounds. In the 1960s and 1970s, their workers went off to Africa as volunteer teachers, nurses and technicians in the same spirit that their grandfathers had gone to "evangelize the natives". They may have been humanitarian rather than explicitly religious, but the basic concept was that Africans needed their help to make life better and transform the continent.

    To raise money for their campaigns, they promoted the vision of Africa as a poor backward continent beset by wars and famines and in need of saving. Since media coverage of other aspects of Africa was scarce, this became the common perception of the continent. It was picked up by rock stars such as Bob Geldoff and Paul Hewson aka Bono. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown also embraced this view of Africa. Blair described Africa as a "scar on the conscience of the world". The politicians also embraced the rock stars, sending their ratings sky high. But while people were inspired to care about poverty and give money, few dug deeper into the causes of Africa's present distress. The Make Poverty History campaign, funded indirectly by the government, promoted the idea that if everyone gave money to Africa, its problems would be solved. Nor did many ask what Africans felt about this perception of their continent. They did not listen to Africa's burgeoning middle class which resents deeply the image of Africa as a starving child.

    Posted by: b real | Oct 26, 2007 12:40:11 AM | 41

    Africa: FDIs to Africa From Oil Companies Hit $36bn

    World Investment Report 2006, has said that flow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Africa from transnational corporations (TNCs), extractive industries and development, increased to $35.5 billion in 2006 alone, from $29.6 billion in the preceding year. The figure doubled that of the FDI flow in 2004, which stood at $18 billion.

    The WIR 2007, which was launched yesterday by the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), attributed the upward trend to "increased interest in natural resources, improved prospects for corporate profits and a more favourable business climate."
    According to the report, greenfield projects and investment in expansion, which are new projects and investments, also grew significantly.

    However, despite these increases, the WIR put together by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) stated that Africa's share in global FDI fell to 2.7 per cent in the year under review, compared to 3.1 per cent in 2005.

    This, it noted, was much lower than that of other developing regions. The global FDI stood at $1.3trillion in 2006.On the other hand, the WIR stated, FDI outflows fromAfrica hit a record $8.2 billion in 2006, up from $2.3billion in the preceding year.

    Noting that, "FDI inflows rose in 33 African countriesand in all sub regions except for southern Africa," the report revealed that, "the top 10 host African countries received about 90 per cent of such flows."

    According to the WIR, in eight of them, inflows exceeded $1 billion each. Large cross border M and As, as well as greenfield investments and expansion projects played an important role in the top host countries, particularly Egypt and Nigeria.

    unctad World Investment Report 2007

    Posted by: b real | Oct 26, 2007 11:03:22 AM | 42

    african oil journal: IMF Announces a 23% Growth Rate For Angola Due to New Oil Fields

    he International Monetary Fund has predicted that Angola will achieve a 23% growth rate this year as new deep-water oil fields come on stream.
    The IMF's 2007 Angola Staff Report says Angolan economic growth will accelerate from 18% in 2006 to 23% in 2007. Increased oil revenues have led to large fiscal and external current account surpluses. "Oil production increased 13% as new deep-water oilfields came on line," it notes.

    In addition to oil finds, the IMF also identifies new diamond mining ventures and strong manufacturing and building sectors as being behind the economic growth as the country recovers from a 25-year civil war.

    "Diamond output also rose as production at kimberlite mines increased. "The manufacturing sector benefited from a favourable economic environment and ongoing construction to rehabilitate infrastructure."

    Posted by: b real | Oct 30, 2007 2:13:01 PM | 43

    The missionary background of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries turned into the aid agency and volunteering movement after the Second World War. Many of those who founded and ran organizations such as Oxfam, Christian Aid, and Save the Children Fund came from church backgrounds. In the 1960s and 1970s, their workers went off to Africa as volunteer teachers, nurses and technicians in the same spirit that their grandfathers had gone to "evangelize the natives". They may have been humanitarian rather than explicitly religious, but the basic concept was that Africans needed their help to make life better and transform the continent.

    this really explains a lot.

    hate to sound mean but sometimes one gets this feeling that if Africa did not exist, they would have to create it. So whats going to happen when Africa becomes just like Europe i.e. a Black-Europe ? Thats what we all want, right ? Who will take the place of Africa ?

    Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 30, 2007 4:59:13 PM | 44

    shouldn't expect anything other from the economist

    Under the umbrella: America's military is expanding its presence in Africa

    The combined effects of global terrorism and the increasingly important role of West African oil producers ensure a greater US military role in the continent in the coming years. The greatest dangers posed by the changes in US policy towards Africa are likely to be reminiscent of US policies during the Cold War period, when states deemed to be strategically important were not held to account for lack of political reform, human rights abuses and corruption or poor governance. As a result, tensions could potentially arise between the US military on one hand, and development agencies such as the World Bank, the IMF and USAID on the other, as their respective strategic objectives come into conflict. The pledge by the US military to have learned the hard way in Iraq and Afghanistan that the most effective way of combating terrorism is to eliminate the root causes of poverty, poor governance and insecurity is not without merit or legitimacy, but in the short term military expediency may not allow for such a holistic approach in Africa.

    There is little doubt that the efficient and well-funded US military machine could play a positive role alongside development agencies in Africa. It did post-war Western Europe a power of good, after all. However, as with all development programmes, much will depend on the partner nations' willingness and ability to work in conjunction with external agencies, be they military or civilian. Human rights groups have voiced concern that better-trained armies may be used to repress minority groups or those opposed to the ruling regime more effectively, and there will be no guarantees that this will not happen in some cases. However, on a more positive note, an improved security environment in otherwise ungoverned or largely lawless areas on the continent will certainly improve prospects for economic and social development.

    gotta have your priorities...

    Posted by: b real | Oct 31, 2007 10:50:14 AM | 45

    owl -

    here's some more info re your #4 & my #5, on foreign military training of african troops, according to daniel volman, who monitors these things.

    International Military Education and Training Program (IMET)

    The IMET program brings African military officers to military academies and other military educational institutions in the United States for professional training. Nearly all African countries participate in the program—including Libya for the first time in FY 2008—and in FY 2006 (the last year for which country figures are available—it trained 14,731 students from the African continent (excluding Egypt) at a cost of $14.7 million.

    the figure i cited earlier of the 2007 forecast for IMET trainees, short by a factor of 10 compared to 2006, came from a congressional research service report for congress. go figure.

    volman also points out, in this latest analysis, that budgets for some of the programs for africa are impossible to get at. on the ACOTA program, which i brought up in #6, volman writes

    ACOTA is officially designed to provide training to African military forces to improve their ability to conduct peacekeeping operations, even if they take place in hostile environments. But since the training includes both defensive and offensive military operations, it also enhances the ability of participating forces to engage in police operations against unarmed civilians, counter-insurgency operations, and even conventional military operations against the military forces of other countries. By FY 2007, nineteen African countries were participating in the ACOTA program (Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia). New budgetary methodology makes it impossible to ascertain the levels of funding for ACOTA, since the program’s funding is subsumed within the budget for the Global Peace Operations Initiative.

    on another program, the trans-saharan counter-terrorism partnership (TSCTP), partnering algeria, chad, mali, mauritania, morocco, niger, nigeria, and tunisia w/ the u.s. military, volman does have some numbers to cite

    The TSCTP also involves smaller, regular training exercises conducted by U.S. Army Special Forces throughout the region. Although changing budgetary methodology makes it difficult to be certain, it appears that the TSCTP received some $31 million in FY 2006, nearly $82 million in FY 2007, and is expected to receive approximately $100 million annually from FY 2008 through FY 2013.

    if those figures pan out, you're talking $713 million in eight years for that one program alone. what's the expected ROI?

    Posted by: b real | Nov 9, 2007 10:32:22 PM | 46

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