What we’re reading: Africa and the international order; odious debt; and continental institutions

This is a time to be paying close attention to Africa’s regional and continental institutions. Many of the most important dynamics that will govern outcomes in the coming decades operate beyond or above the nation state - shifts in the international order and global economy, trade and debt patterns, climate change, and associated migration patterns and insecurity, to name a few. 

Continental institutions

To that end, in May we noted moves toward the creation of an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and before that we discussed certain US views on the region as a theatre for great power competition. 

More recently, we read about the personalities and modus operandi of Russian engagement in the region, and the African Union Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) suspension of Sudan following a violent crackdown on protestors by the Transitional Military Council (TMC).

The Guardian piece on Russian interactions in the region premised on purported leaked documents, describes a Russian strategy hinged on Yevgeny Prigozhin, an associate of Russian President Vladmir Putin, competition with Western powers, and a tripartite toolkit: political engagement, military assistance and extractive industries.  

The AU PSC decision is important for three reasons at least: (a) it is a statement about enduring political norms/expectations in the region, (b) it provides a framework for engagement with the TMC for Sudan’s neighbours and other members of the international community, and (c) it provides moral support for protestors and opposition in Sudan. However, financial support from some Gulf States and Egypt inoculates the TMC against some of the pressure that might have come from the AU's diplomatic intervention, and the backing of the European Union inter alia. The United States is largely absent. Meanwhile, TMC activities against its opponents are intensifying. 

Odious Debt

The Global Anti-Corruption (GAC) Blog’s take on the Mozambique hidden (read odious) debt scandal and the purported involvement of Credit Suisse and Privinvest company executives. Between 2012 and 2017, total external debt rose from USD5.5 billion (38% of Gross National Income, GNI) to USD12.0 billion (100% of GNI) in Mozambique. At least USD2.2 billion of this consisted of projects of “little or no value,” per this piece.

At the core of the GAC analysis, are questions about the nature and extent of Credit Suisse and Privinvest officials' involvement alongside Mozambican government agents in a “corrupt, fraudulent scheme”. However, even without criminal liability there may be questions about ethical and risk management frameworks within governments, the lending institutions and partners. 

Nana Ampofo