ESAT Special Interview with Benyam Bekele about Mezenger killing in Gambella Sep 2014
I agree that we need to get the younger generation more engaged in leadership areas. The generation of Engineer Gizachew should be on an adviser status and let the younger generation takeover. Whether we like it or not the seniors are going to be out lived by the young. We got to get prepared from now on how the next generation can smoothly continue the legacy of the AEUP. Even Atse Hailesselasie would not go through all that violence by if they let the next generation take over in time. We should be happy about seeing the up and coming Ethiopians deciding their own destiny.
The Chinese concentrate around the Capital due to the disconcerting problems that Chinese policymakers and investors have encountered in Africa. There is an overall higher risk of uprisings and coups. In certain regions such as the Oromia , Ogaden , Gambella and Amhara regions, there have been a long string of crises. While not necessarily representative of all of Ethiopia, these events have strained projects due to conflict and instability.
Among Chinese investors, consciousness of conflict risks has grown since the eruption of civil war in Gambella which is boardering South Sudan – the country where China is most deeply invested. A rebel force of Gambella has cut communication across Gambella.So far, the conflict remains unresolved.
Amid the fighting by the Gambella rebels crossing to south Sudan $20bn worth of Chinese investments in oil in the Sudans could be destroyed. This episode will have lasting effect on China’s engagement across Africa.
A certain amount of bravado was apparent in past investments such as the one Shaanxi Yanchang Petroleum, a state-owned oil company, made to drill for oil near Lake Chad. This is a volatile gateway into the Sahel, often subject to raids and hostage-taking. China is now more cautious in its approach to these regions. Indeed, the challenges have been the most strenuous in the Sahel region.
In one case, the Chinese Natural Petroleum Company (CNPC) developed an oilfield and refinery in Chad, but production was shut down by the Chadian government earlier this year for environmental violations. Yet Chad does not have a track record of consistently enforcing laws. When the same refinery opened, for instance, the government blindsided the CNPC by announcing a very low fixed price for refined petroleum products – a costly blow to the project that would rock relations going forwards. This later environmental penalty could be seen as retaliation against the CNPC for being unwilling to yield to any more giveaways.
Another high stakes battle took place in Niger, where former president Mamadou Tandja had demanded that the construction of a refinery be included in an oil production and infrastructure package with China. The refinery did not make commercial sense. Once opened, it was a financial failure. The government, meanwhile, was deposed by a coup shortly thereafter. In the aftermath, spreading out the losses became highly contentious. The Nigerien government went on the record to berate China’s stance. By October 2013, a deal was reached: China would loan Niger $1bn at 1 percent interest over 25 years, with a long grace period, to refinance the refinery.
However, arriving at similar compromises between lenders and investors in this troubled region cannot be taken for granted. The outbreak of war in South Sudan, and the frequent use of “take it or get expropriated” negotiation tactics by neighbouring governments makes the wider Sahel region uninviting to outside investors. This is a region of Africa where China could significantly reduce its engagement.
Nevertheless, the China-Africa relationship is premised on business, so the nature of government relations will remain rooted in that dimension. The continued growth of China-Africa business relationships will refresh diplomacy, but stagnant growth will lead to a dwindling exchange of visits.
China and Africa are entering into a less energetic phase of growth due mainly to low mineral prices. However, African governments can propel engagement to overcome this constraint by following the leads of Ghana and Zambia in creating conducive business environments.
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