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The Swing by Kabir
Between the Poles of the Conscious and the Unconscious
there has the Mind made a Swing. Thereon hang all
Beings and all worlds, and that Swing never ceases it's Sway
Millions of Beings are there The Sun and the Moon in their
courses are there Millions of ages pass And The Swing
goes on. All Swing! The Sky and the Earth and the Air and the Water
Above Everest Base Camp, looking across the Khumbu Icefall to Everest and Nuptse. Powder
Above Everest Base Camp, looking across the Khumbu Icefall to Everest
and Nuptse. “You can’t see Lhotse at all walking in, but from this
point you get a glimpse of the top of the Lhotse Face. It was the
first time we could see there’s really snow, and that we might be able
to ski off the summit. At this point, our stoke is really high. But
this is also the first time you see the icefall and I have no idea how
we’re going to get through that. So we’re like, ‘Oh boy, we gotta get
to work.'” —Jim Morrison | P
ON THE AFTERNOON of September 30, 2018, with the sun shining and the
wind just beginning to rise, Hilaree Nelson, 45, and Jim Morrison, 43,
dropped their packs and skis and sat down in the deep, sugary snow
atop the 27,940-foot summit of Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain on
the planet. It had been 12 hours and 4,140 vertical feet of climbing
since they'd left Camp 3—12 hours of slow, cold, focused, hypoxic
suffering; kicking and slipping in breakable crust; crawling on all
fours; wallowing in waist-deep snow; and, finally, scrambling up a
gnarly section of rocky cliff near the summit.
"We have been burned," said Economic Development Minister Fayyaz Ismail. @bopinion
Law & Politics
In late August, President Abdulla Yameen of the Maldives hailed the
opening of a Chinese-built bridge connecting two islands in the
archipelago as “the gateway into tomorrow and the opportunities
One month later, Yameen was voted out and the new government of the
palm-fringed nation off the coast of India began to uncover the
mountain of debt with which he’d saddled the country.
A pro-China strongman who jailed opponents and judges, Yameen borrowed
heavily from Beijing to build a new runway for the main airport,
housing developments and a hospital, as well as the 2.1 kilometer (1.3
mile)-long “China-Maldives Friendship Bridge.”
On a recent trip to New Delhi, Maldives officials opened up about
their frustration over the scale of the debt to China—the equivalent
of almost 20 percent of GDP—and the inexplicable preference given to
Chinese financing under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In just
one example, the previous government rejected a $54 million hospital
bid in favor of an “inflated” Chinese offer of $140 million.
“We have been burned,” said Economic Development Minister Fayyaz Ismail.
The tourist paradise of the Maldives isn’t the only Asian nation to
discover that the promise of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature
infrastructure program was too good to be true.
After an unprecedented run of funding large-scale investments in
projects from railways to highways in poorer countries across Asia,
governments are adopting a far more cautious approach to China’s grand
plans for what it regards as its backyard.
From Malaysia to Sri Lanka, simmering voter anger over deals perceived
as unfair or corrupt are prompting close examination, investigation
and even suspension of projects until recently taken for granted.
“The first phase of the Belt and Road is effectively over,” said
Andrew Small, a senior fellow with the German Marshall Fund’s Asia
program. “A new model has not yet emerged, but it is clear that the
old one, almost entirely focused on speed and scale, is no longer
Chinese authorities have noted the examples of misconduct and are
reassessing and tweaking their global infrastructure plans, said a
senior Chinese official who asked not to be named discussing strategy.
They are well aware that poorly executed projects can hurt China’s
reputation and are alert to the potential for resentment to spread,
the official said.
Asia is in desperate need of infrastructure upgrades and no country
other than China has the appetite—or the ready resources—to meet the
demand for large-scale investments. Yet the criticism in Asia comes at
a sensitive time of growing international skepticism of China’s global
intentions. While much of the focus is on President Donald Trump’s
standoff with Xi over trade, technology and market access, governments
across Europe, in Australia and in Japan are tightening up their
vetting of Chinese investments, particularly in critical
infrastructure such as key ports and network systems.
China has commissioned internal reports that have highlighted the
backlash, with the aim of continuing Xi’s outward push at a time when
the economy is struggling.
Authorities have stepped up scrutiny of BRI projects and investment
and are deliberating possible regulations, the official said, adding
that China is ready to take measures to clamp down on misconduct.
That translates into “more willingness to renegotiate terms, more
focus on project quality, more efforts to cooperate with third-country
partners such as Japan, and greater sensitivity to political and
macro-economic risk,” said the German Marshall Fund’s Small.
The shift in sentiment among Asian governments is already tangible,
and has burst into the open in recent months. In Pakistan, China’s
all-weather ally for decades, militants angered by Chinese investment
in a remote area bombed and attacked the Chinese consulate in Karachi
last month, killing seven people.
In Sri Lanka, there is growing anger over China’s vast economic
influence as a threat to the country’s sovereignty, while a Myanmar
government adviser criticized as “absurd” the $7.5 billion price tag
for its Chinese-backed port, which was agreed to under the previous
In Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad was elected prime minister in May after
questioning Chinese investments on the campaign trail. In office, he
slammed a “new version of colonialism,” as his government moved to
suspend a $20 billion Chinese railway project, and later cancelled
three China-backed pipeline projects worth $3 billion.
Indian officials have long objected to the Belt and Road program
because it funds $60 billion worth of infrastructure in Pakistan,
including in parts of disputed Kashmir, which India claims as its own.
And though New Delhi lacks the cash to compete against Beijing, Indian
diplomats insist countries have been lured into debt traps and view
the recent criticism as legitimizing their long-standing position.
Indeed, a report this year by the Washington-based Center for Global
Development identified eight nations at risk of debt distress from
Chinese financing, among them Pakistan, the Maldives, Laos, Mongolia
and Djibouti, where China has its only overseas military base.
Vietnam’s clashes with Beijing in the South China Sea meanwhile mean
security fears there risk overshadowing investment projects.
Increasingly, bashing China makes sound electoral sense in parts of
Asia. Indonesia, where the campaign for an April ballot could bring
heightened scrutiny of Chinese projects, is an example of how China’s
investments are often pulled into emerging market elections, according
to Kelsey Broderick, an Asia associate at the Eurasia Group.
“Candidates around the world have used public concerns over Chinese
debt as part of their successful challenges to incumbent candidates
who have embraced BRI with open arms,” said Broderick. He cited Jair
Bolsonaro’s successful run for the Brazilian presidency on an
anti-China platform, and said Kenya, Zambia and Thailand could face
Part of the concern comes from perceptions that, apart from
contributing to unsustainable debt levels, China’s loans serve
Beijing’s strategic goals in the Indian Ocean region key to global
shipping routes at a time when China is building islands in the South
In the Maldives, former strongman Yameen’s increasingly overt
pro-China policies included ramming a free trade agreement with China
through parliament and denying work visas for professionals from
China’s rival India. The strong-arm tactics ultimately backfired: New
Maldivian Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer has asked for $200 million of
Indian loans and pledged to pursue an “India-first” foreign policy, a
sharp rebuke to Beijing.
The Trump administration meanwhile has honed its message against the
Belt and Road. Vice President Mike Pence told leaders at the recent
Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Singapore that the
U.S. doesn’t “offer a constricting belt or a one-way road.”
The U.S. has set up an agency to lend as much as $60 billion for
infrastructure, and last month backed a plan to build a $1.7 billion
electricity grid in Papua New Guinea as part of a push to provide
countries with alternative lending schemes. Still, that number pales
in comparison to the Belt and Road, which Morgan Stanley says may
total $1.3 trillion by 2027.
Asia clearly needs more infrastructure: The Asian Development Bank
forecasts the region needs $26 trillion worth of highways, railroads
and other infrastructure over the next decade or so. In the absence of
viable alternatives, China is likely to remain the first port of call.
In any case, many countries in Asia and Africa still prefer Chinese
loans that come with “no governance or accountability commitments,”
In the five years since Xi launched Belt and Road, “China has been on
a learning curve,” said Pang Zhongying, an international relations
professor from Macau University of Science and Technology. “It’s the
right thing to do for China to reassess its BRI projects and put more
emphasis on risk control.”
03-SEP-2018 :: Africa: The Belle at the Ball
Law & Politics
"China had a singular and positive influence on Africa. It rebalanced
the demand side for Africa's commodities and also bought those
commodities on a long-term basis. It was this which triggered the
African recovery some two decades ago, However, since then a
freewheeling China Inc has favorited elites, has facilitated
large-scale looting via inflated infrastructure, some of which were
white elephants on Day One, and has lumped the African citizen with
the tab. How this plays out is now the key to Sino-African relations
going forward. A Hambantota scenario would be problematic," referring
to the Sri Lankan port which has been leased to China for 99 years
10-DEC-2018 :: Truce dinner @Huawei and a "diss"
Sirloin steaks, Catena Zapata Nicolas Malbec  Huawei
Technologies Co. and Wanzhou Meng
You will recall that Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping enjoyed a much
anticipated ''Truce'' Dinner at the G20 in Buenos Aires and quaffed a
Catena Zapata Nicolas Malbec  wine with their sirloin steaks and
finished it all off with caramel rolled pancakes, crispy chocolate and
fresh cream, a dinner that ran over by 60 minutes and one where the
dinner Guests broke out into spontaneous applause thereafter.
At the very moment that the G2 Presidents were stuffing their gills,
it has transpired that some 7,000 miles away, Canadian Authorities
were making the arrest of Wanzhou Meng, chief financial officer of
Huawei Technologies Co. at the request of US Authorities. The U.S. is
seeking the extradition of Wanzhou Meng after convincing Canada to
arrest her on Dec. 1. Canada confirmed she was in custody shortly
after the Globe and Mail reported she had been arrested in connection
with violating sanctions against Iran. Meng is the daughter of the
founder of Huawei, a national champion and deeply embedded in Xi
Jinping's China Inc. Bloomberg said ''While the U.S. routinely asks
allies to extradite drug lords, arms dealers and other criminals,
arresting a major Chinese executive like this is rare -- if not
“This is sending a signal that there is a new game” said Dennis
Wilder, a former CIA China analyst and senior director for Asia at the
National Security Council under President George W. Bush.
It has also transpired that Ambassador John Bolton was aware of the
arrest at the time. In the hiphop World, this would be called a
A diss track or diss song (diss – abbr. from disrespect) is a song
intended to verbally attack someone else, often as a response to
someone's diss track. While musical parodies and attacks have always
existed, the trend became increasingly common in the hip hop genre
fueled by the hip hop rivalry phenomenon. [Wikipedia]
"Huawei used an unofficial subsidiary named Skycom to transact
business in Iran for Iranian telecommunication companies," Crown
attorney John Gibb-Carsley alleged in a Vancouver courtroom. Wanzhou
Meng is being charged with conspiracy to defraud banks. Of course,
Many will rail against the fact that the US' sanction warfare strategy
but this is the way it is. Meng was said to have been a director of
Skycom at one point, Reuters reported in 2013. Skycom tried to sell
S$2.03 million worth of Hewlett-Packard Co computer gear in late 2010,
according to Reuters. Former employees of Skycom have stated that it
was not distinct from Huawei, and that Skycom employees had Huawei
e-mail addresses and badges, according to the Canadian court filing.
Documents obtained through an investigation by the US authorities show
that multiple Skycom bank accounts were controlled by Huawei
employees, the filing said.
Canada will face "grave consequences" [Xinhua: (Ch.) 严重后果] if it does
not immediately release Meng Wanzhou. The Vancouver Real Estate market
which has boomed for decades on the back of Chinese demand looks
horribly exposed. The temptation to ''mug'' the handsome Justin
Trudeau is something the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia could not resist
and it seems Xi is experiencing the same impulse.
It is worth noting that Huawei is very much in the crosshairs. New
Zealand followed the US and Australia in banning Huawei networking
equipment from 5G communication networks, citing "national security
concerns". As part of an "extraordinary outreach campaign", US
security officials have reportedly reached out to European and Asian
countries where Huawei equipment is already in use - including the UK,
where Huawei hardware forms a key part of BT's 21st Century Network -
warning them about the "national security risks" posed by the company.
The US is mulling a subsidy for the purchase and maintenance of
non-Chinese equipment by its allies, the WSJ reported noting that one
of the government's main concerns surrounds the use of Chinese telecom
equipment in countries that host US military bases, such as Italy,
Japan and Germany. Germany has already been considering a ban on 5G
equipment from Huawei. In Asia, a ban is also under consideration in
An important market for Huawei has been Africa. In fact, Huawei is the
bloodstream of Africa's telecom infrastructure and ubiquitous. How
this plays out in Africa is now an ''above the radar'' issue.
A lot of Folks have been remarkably casual in their assessment of
where this is all going. The US Administration is split with Appeasers
[Wall Streeters] on one side and Hawks [Lighthizer and Navarro] on the
other. Hawks are circling, I am afraid.
The 6 reasons why @Huawei gives the US and its allies security nightmares @MIT's @techreview
The detention in Canada of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s CFO and the daughter
of its founder, is further inflaming tensions between the US and
China. Her arrest is linked to a US extradition request. On December 7
a Canadian court heard that the request relates to Huawei's alleged
use of Skycom Tech, a company that dealt with Iranian telecom firms,
to sell equipment to Iran between 2009 and 2014 in contravention of US
sanctions on the country. China says her detention is a human rights
violation and is demanding her swift release.
Behind this very public drama is a long-running, behind-the-scenes one
centered on Western intelligence agencies’ fears that Huawei poses a
significant threat to global security. Among the spooks’ biggest
There could be “kill switches” in Huawei equipment …
The Chinese firm is the world’s largest manufacturer of things like
base stations and antennas that mobile operators use to run wireless
networks. And those networks carry data that’s used to help control
power grids, financial markets, transport systems, and other parts of
countries’ vital infrastructure. The fear is that China’s military and
intelligence services could insert software or hardware “back doors”
into Huawei’s gear that they could exploit to degrade or disable
foreign wireless networks in the event of a crisis. This has led to
moves in the US to block Chinese equipment from being used.
that even close inspections miss
Since 2010, the UK has been running a special center, whose staff
includes members of its GCHQ signal intelligence agency, to vet Huawei
gear before it’s deployed. But earlier this year, it warned that it
had “only limited assurance” that the company’s equipment didn’t pose
a security threat
Huawei claims its equipment connects over a third of the world’s
population. It’s also handling vast amounts of data for businesses.
That’s why there’s fear in Western intelligence circles that back
doors could be used to tap into sensitive information using the firm’s
equipment. This would be tricky to do undetected, but not impossible.
Huawei doesn’t just build equipment; it can also connect to it
wirelessly to issue upgrades and patches to fix bugs. There’s concern
that this remote connectivity could be exploited by Chinese cyber
Telecom companies around the world are about to roll out the next
generation of cellular wireless, known as 5G. As well as speeding up
data transfers, 5G networks will enable self-driving cars to talk to
each other and to things like smart traffic lights. They’ll also
connect and control a vast number of robots in factories and other
locations. And the military will use them for all kinds of
applications, too. This will dramatically expand the number of
connected devices—and the chaos that can be caused if the networks
supporting them are hacked. It will also ramp up the amount of
corporate and other data that hackers can target. Both Australia and
New Zealand have recently banned the use of Huawei equipment in new 5G
wireless infrastructure. This week, the UK's BT followed suit.
Where India quietly watches China at sea @asiatimesonline
India’s Andaman Islands are where stone-age warfare meets 21st century
weapons technology. On November 16, John Allen Chau, an American
Christian missionary, was killed in a hail of arrows fired by
aboriginal Sentinelese tribesmen as he tried to land on North Sentinel
island to spread his faith.
The island, one of the remotest and most isolated islands in the
Andaman archipelago, is a no-go territory even for Indian
administrators, but was suddenly – if not fleetingly – in the global
media spotlight due to the US proselytizer’s demise.
But there is a bigger hidden story in the Andamans, one with a modern
On that same chain of remote islands, situated between Southeast Asia
and the Indian Subcontinent, India quietly maintains one of its newest
and best-equipped military bases.
From there, it monitors among other things the movements of Chinese
submarines patrolling the entrance to the Malacca Strait shipping
chokepoint while also eavesdropping on their radio traffic, according
to sources familiar with the situation.
The Andamans, along with the nearby Nicobar Islands, form an Indian
union territory run from New Delhi. It is home to what is
appropriately called the Andaman and Nicobar Command, the Indian
military’s first and only tri-service command.
Headquartered at Port Blair, the main town on the islands, the command
was established in 2001 to safeguard India’s strategic interests in
the waters east of the Subcontinent and coordinates the activities of
the navy, army and air force as well as the coast guards in the
eastern Indian Ocean.
The main bases are on the larger Andamans, while there is a naval air
station on the Nicobars not far from the northern tip of the
Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Now, as China expands its naval presence in the Indian Ocean, the
Andamans have become a new maritime frontline in the increasingly
pitched geopolitical rivalry between the two Asian giants.
On December 30, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to
visit the Andamans, officially to mark the 75th anniversary of the
hoisting of the Indian tricolor flag and the declaration of Azad Hind,
or Free India, in Port Blair.
Free India was a provisional government established in 1943 in then
occupied Singapore and supported by Empire Japan, Nazi Germany and
Italy’s Social Republic – all Axis allies – during World War II.
The Andamans and Nicobars were occupied by the Japanese during the
war, the only Indian territory to come under Tokyo’s control. Japan’s
ally at that time was Subhas Chandra Bose, the leader of the Indian
National Army, which fought alongside the Japanese Army in Southeast
Asia and on the fringes of South Asia.
Modi will hoist the historical flag at exactly the same place in Port
Blair where Bose performed the same ceremony on December 30, 1943.
Today, Japanese and Indian nationalists are allies once again, as Modi
has found a strategic soul mate in Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Japanese naval vessels may soon be seen in Port Blair as well, as the
two countries’ navies build a relationship to counter China’s moves in
the Indian Ocean.
Talks are already underway between India and Japan to upgrade the
laggard infrastructure on the strategically situated islands, in a
project that represents a counter to China’s infrastructure building
initiative, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Yet the idea of positioning a new Indian military command on the
Andamans predates the BRI. It was first hatched in 1995 during a
closed-door meeting in Washington between India’s then prime minister
P V Narasimha Rao and then US president Bill Clinton, as it was
already clear then that China was keen to establish a presence in the
The plan was finalized when Clinton visited India in 2000, and since
then US naval ships have docked at Port Blair, ostensibly to assist in
training rescue teams. But it is hardly a secret among military
observers that the larger reason is to strengthen an informal alliance
of powers that are concerned about China’s rising maritime ambitions.
Speaking at a roundtable conference organized by the New Delhi-based
think tank the National Maritime Foundation, US Navy chief Admiral
Gary Roughead said that American leaders at the highest level had
declared Washington and New Delhi would be strategic partners
throughout the 21st century: “I’m here to say that the United States
Navy in particular is a committed friend to India for the long term.”
In April 2016, India agreed to open its naval bases to the US in
exchange for access to weapons technology to help narrow its gap with
China. That month officials also said that Chinese submarines had been
sighted in the area on an average of four times every three months.
Since then, India has received US assistance in tracking China’s
But with Donald Trump in the White House, America’s commitment to Asia
– and by extension India – may not be as firm as previously. That’s
caused New Delhi to look increasingly to Tokyo for assistance in
reasserting its position in its traditional sphere of influence.
During an October visit to Tokyo, Modi and Abe concluded a range of
agreements to strengthen military cooperation, including an
“Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement,” or ACSA, which will grant
the two sides’ armed forces reciprocal access to each other’s military
bases and facilities.
It is obvious to most why China has moved into the Indian Ocean region
and no one questions the legitimacy of its interests: most of China’s
foreign trade as well as its crucial oil imports pass through the
waters. But it is a new geopolitical development that other powers in
the region are watching with increased concern.
China’s military base in Djibouti, its first overseas military
facility, has sparked speculation that the Chinese navy is aiming for
strategic access to other ports in Beijing-friendly nations in the
region such as Kyaukpyu in Myanmar, Gwadar in Pakistan and Hambantota
in Sri Lanka.
Today, India’s Andaman and Nicobar Command consists of a joint naval
and air force base, two logistics support bases, two naval stations
and an air base. Those are rapidly becoming some of India’s most
important military outposts, security analysts say.
More transport planes were brought in after the 2004 tsunami disaster,
with the Indian Air Force eventually stationing a Sukhoi SU-30
squadron on the Andamans, converting the facility into a fighter
aircraft base. Indian military and policy makers now frequently refer
to the islands as a “stationary aircraft carrier.”
The Indian Navy also maintains a major Naval Special Forces, known as
MARCOS, detachment there, in large part to guard against China’s
maneuvers in the Indian Ocean region.
Modi’s upcoming visit there is thus not only a symbolic gesture to
honor an old freedom fighter and his budding friendship with Japan,
but will also mark more officially the beginning of a new strategic
era where Japan and India are once again close partners.
The isolated Sentinelese tribe may be utterly unaware of what is going
on so near to their secluded home island. But to the rest of the
world, it is obvious that a new Cold War is emerging on the Indian
Ocean’s horizon and the Andaman islands are emerging as important
outposts in that contest.
Congo's president prepares to step down but not walk away @FT @thomas_m_wilson
After 17 years in power Congolese president Joseph Kabila insists that
he has answered his critics by preparing to leave office following a
landmark election this month, but he says he has no plans to walk away
The head of state in the Democratic Republic of Congo will step down
after the vote in two weeks’ time in what will be the country’s first
democratic transfer of power— a rare occurrence in central Africa
where some presidents have ruled for three decades.
“Back in 2006 nobody thought that we were going to organise elections,
2011 the same thing, and it wasn’t different this time around so we
have proven them wrong,” said Mr Kabila in a rare interview with the
Financial Times on Sunday in Kinshasa.
If the polls do take place — and some doubts remain over the readiness
of a new voting system — the vote will be historic. Congo has never
had a change of government via the ballot box.
Whether the transition will be the watershed moment in Congo’s
troubled history that many hope is much less certain.
Mr Kabila has built a sprawling coalition to contest the vote and
picked a loyal ally to run in his stead. He says he has no plans to
step away from politics and refuses to rule out running for president
again in the future, raising the prospect that little could change
despite the handover in the ruling party.“In life don’t rule out
anything,” he says in the grand but faded presidential palace on the
banks of the Congo river. “Time will tell.”
Mr Kabila was plunged into Congolese politics at 29 years old after
his father, the rebel-leader-turned-president Laurent Kabila, was
assassinated during a bloody civil war that left millions dead. With
the backing of the UN, the young heir negotiated a fragile peace and,
against all odds, began rebuilding the country, holding Congo’s first
democratic elections in 2006 and relaunching mining activity in the
Investors including Glencore and Freeport-McMoRan initially poured
into the country, investing billions into copper and cobalt projects,
which saw the economy expand from $7bn in 2001 to $38bn in 2015.
More recently, however, progress has stalled, undermined by endemic
corruption and the political uncertainty generated by the
Mr Kabila was due to step down in 2016 but the polls were repeatedly
delayed, stoking suspicions that the leader was looking for a way to
change the constitution to hold on to power. Mr Kabila denies that was
ever part of the plan.
“I stated that the constitution was going to be respected . . . and I
kept my word,” he says.
In August Mr Kabila stunned the country by picking a former interior
minister, Emmanuel Shadary, to represent his ruling coalition — an
unpopular figure according to polling data.
Critics argue that Mr Shadary, who was sanctioned along with other
Congolese officials by the EU in 2017 for alleged human rights abuses,
was selected because he has been close to the president for 16 years
and will be easy for Mr Kabila to control.
Mr Shadary was chosen because he is a “patriot”, says Mr Kabila.
“Someone who loves this country, someone who is capable of dying for
“We wanted a candidate who was going to consider the Congo as priority
and was not going to take any orders from anywhere else but from the
Congolese people,” he adds.
In the past decade, Mr Kabila has shied away from the press and the
spotlight, making fewer and fewer public appearances. As protesters
were killed in 2016 over the delayed election, he said nothing and
made only one public statement in the whole year, an address to
In person though he is relaxed and good-humoured “I don’t give lots of
interviews” he chuckles. “I used to, until I got busy, very busy.”
Initially surrounded by his late father’s advisers, Mr Kabila gained
in confidence as the years progressed and has increasingly exercised
direct control over many parts of Congo’s chaotic political, security
and business establishments.
He defends his record as one of reunification, peace and security,
though he admits that many objectives are still “a work in progress.”
Production of copper — the country’s main export — soared under Mr
Kabila’s administration from 30,000 tonnes a year in 2001 to more than
1m tonnes today, but revenues have rarely filtered down to Congo’s 80m
people, nearly two-thirds of whom live on less than $1.90 a day,
according to the World Bank.
Fighting continues to kill thousands of people every year in different
parts of the country, infrastructure investment has been patchy and
corruption remains rife. “All these are areas that work will have to
continue to be done,” he says.
Mr Kabila says he learnt from Mobutu Sese Seko, Congo’s former
president, that one should always know when to quit. Mobutu was chased
out of office after 32 years by Laurent Kabila’s rebel army and died
in exile in Morocco.
“Time is up. We make room for the next administration and we continue
to be available for the nation,” he says.
Opposition leaders have criticised the independence and preparedness
of the country’s electoral commission, and say that insecurity and the
world’s second worst Ebola outbreak will make voting difficult in
parts of the country, rendering it easier for Mr Shadary to win.
If he does, just how “available” the former president intends to be is
the important question.
EU extends sanctions against DR Congo presidential hopeful @AFP @MailOnline
But Shadary will contest the poll under EU sanction, after the bloc
extended the travel ban and asset freeze imposed on him over his role
as interior minister in a crackdown on opposition activists.
The bloc rejected a call by Shadary in October to lift the sanctions,
which he called "humiliating, degrading and disproportionate".
Foreign ministers from the 28 EU states meeting in Brussels approved
the extension of sanctions against Shadary and 13 other officials over
"the obstruction of the electoral process and the related human rights
In a statement, the Council of the EU reiterated "the importance of
holding credible and inclusive elections in line with the aspiration
of the Congolese people to elect their representatives".
@realDonaldTrump admin looks to counter China, Russia's growing power in Africa with new strategy @NBCNews
The Trump administration plans to unveil a new strategy for Africa
this week focusing on countering China's growing influence on the
continent, as well as Russia's attempts to gain footholds in
resource-rich, unstable countries, two senior U.S. officials told NBC
The strategy will call for bolstering U.S. ties with countries deemed
potentially vulnerable to overtures from China and Russia, as well as
seeking to fend off attempts by North Korea and Iran to make inroads
through economic investments or arms sales, said the senior
administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The plan, drafted by the White House National Security Council and due
to be presented this week at a Washington think tank, will signal a
shift by the administration — already underway — that emphasizes
America's rivalry with China and Russia as a top priority rather than
an exclusive focus on fighting terrorist threats, the officials said.
"Counterterrorism is no longer the organizing principle," said one
senior administration official, who was not authorized to speak on the
"It's about geopolitics and countering the influence of China and others."
The planned Africa strategy does not call for devoting more funding
for U.S. diplomacy, intelligence gathering or aid, but instead argues
for using existing resources more effectively, an administration
official and a defense official said.
Given that the White House has no plans to dramatically expand U.S.
resources devoted to Africa, it's not clear how the administration
will succeed in countering China, Russia or other adversaries, experts
The White House strategy is expected to name several countries as
anchors for the U.S. strategy, and experts close to the administration
expect the list to include Kenya, a longstanding U.S. ally. For U.S.
counterterrorism efforts, the administration will seek to continue a
number of key partnerships, including with Somalia, Libya and Mali,
"The Chinese government or its state-owned companies have
extraordinary power to dictate to these African countries," said
Joshua Meservey, a senior policy analyst at the right-leaning Heritage
Foundation, adding that China is "the most consequential foreign actor
"In our engagement in Africa, we need to provide a contrast with China
and Russia, based on who we are and what we value," Johnson said.
"The U.S. should compete in Africa by doing what's consistent with
American values and not engaging in some realpolitik.
"We are being asked to tighten our belts," he said, "but do the politicians know we can't even afford the belts anymore?" @AP
Many Zimbabweans, like Takudzwa Ndlovu, an office worker in Harare,
“How can the government refuse to accept the money that it uses to pay
its own people. And then arrest us for looking for the only currency
that actually works?” he said.
Changing one’s salary into foreign currency can be a nightmare.
Ndlovu gets $450 every month in mobile money. His bank, like every
other bank in the country, no longer issues foreign currency for
electronic bank balances, even though the government insists that
mobile money and bond notes are on par with the dollar.
“The black market is my only option. We are innocent people just
trying to survive, but the government has turned us into criminals,”
Ndlovu told The Associated Press.
The vice president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Patience
Taruvinga, called the mobile money worthless.
“Salaries are being eroded daily,” Taruvinga said, criticizing the new
government, which has promised to turn the country into a middle-class
economy by 2030. “We cannot talk of Christmas anymore.”
The currency crisis is causing unrest. In November, thousands of
opposition supporters protested in Harare, while doctors at public
hospitals are on strike over low pay and poor working conditions. They
earn a basic salary of about $350 in mobile money, which translates to
$100 in dollars using black market rates.
Tanzania expects to harvest the most coffee in six years as better weather and a high crop cycle boosts output in Africa's fourth-largest producer.
Output for the season that ends next June may climb 51 percent to
reach an April forecast of 65,000 tons, Kajiru Kissenge, acting
director of coffee development and operations at the Tanzania Coffee
Board, said Monday by phone from Moshi, in the north of the country.
The board in April raised its forecast for this season amid improved
weather, a high crop cycle and as trees trees planted in recent years
add to supply. Harvesting in the north ended last month, Kissenge
said. It typically finishes in October in the west and December in the
south, according to the board’s website.
The arabica variety accounts for about 60 to 70 percent of Tanzania’s
coffee output. The nation follows Ethiopia, Uganda and Ivory Coast as
Africa’s top producer of the beans.
FEATURE-Kenya struggles to give life to futuristic 'Silicon Savannah' city @ReutersAfrica's @kainvestor
KONZA, Kenya, Dec 11 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - L abourers milled
around an unfinished eight-storey building in an expansive field in
Konza dotted with zebra and antelope - the only visible sign of
progress in a decade-old plan to make Kenya into Africa’s leading
technology hub by 2030.
Grandiose plans, red tape and a lack of funding have left Konza
Technopolis - the $14.5 billion new city to be built some 60 km (37
miles) southeast of Nairobi - way behind schedule on its goal of
having 20,000 people on site by 2020.
“It has taken too long and I think people have moved on,” said tech
entrepreneur Josiah Mugambi, founder of Alba.one, a Nairobi-based
software company, who was initially excited by the government’s
Dubbed the Silicon Savannah, Konza aims to become a smart city - using
tech to manage water and electricity efficiently and reduce commuting
time - and a solution to the rapid, unplanned urbanisation which has
plagued existing cities.
About 40 percent of Africa’s 1 billion people live in towns and cities
and the World Bank predicts the urban population will double over the
next 25 years, adding pressure to already stretched infrastructure.
Konza’s dream is to become a top business process outsourcing hub by
2030, with on-site universities training locals to feed into a
200,000-strong tech-savvy workforce providing IT support and call
centre services remotely.
But the first building has yet to be completed on the 5,000-acre
former cattle ranch, three years after breaking ground, and business
has shifted its focus to other African countries, like Rwanda, with
competing visions to become modern tech hubs.
“Nobody can wait that long for a city to be built. For a tech
entrepreneur, they think about where their startup will be two to
three years down the line,” said Mugambi.
Other smart cities planned across Africa include Nigeria’s Eko
Atlantic City near Lagos that will house 250,000 people on land
reclaimed from the sea, Ghana’s Hope City and an Ethiopian city styled
as the real Wakanda after the film “Black Panther”.
Bringing such utopian schemes to life is no easy task for African
governments that are struggling to provide adequate roads, power,
water and security to their existing cities.
“Upgrading infrastructure in places like Kibera (slum) in Nairobi to
provide water and a better sewerage system is equally as important as
building a new city such as Konza,” said Abdu Muwonge, a senior urban
specialist with the World Bank in Kenya.
“The vision is wrong; the vision is too big,” said Aly-Khan Satchu, a
Nairobi-based independent financial analyst.
“This is miles from anywhere. There are not leveraging the existing
infrastructure ... It is assuming that you can bring in academia, you
can bring in venture capital, you can bring in corporates.”
The first serious hurdle arose in 2012 when the National Land
Commission (NLC), which manages public land, introduced a cumbersome
land acquisition procedure, said Bitange Ndemo, who led a team that
conceived Konza Technopolis in 2008.
“The NLC was saying we should follow the processes of acquiring public
land, which would take years to complete,” Ndemo, now an associate
professor of business at the University of Nairobi, told the Thomson
The delays caused at least one deal with a German university to fall
through, he said, as the process was much slower than the old one
where investors signed deals directly with government ministries which
took care of land leases.
To resolve this, the government transferred ownership of the site to
the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA), set up in 2012 to
co-ordinate development of the new city, which now allocates land to
investors on 50-year renewable leases.
In its strategic plan, the government promised to fund 10 percent of
Konza, laying the infrastructure, while the private sector would come
in with the rest of the money to build universities, offices, housing
But the government was slow to contribute its share and has yet to
pass a law to create KoTDA as a legal entity which would make it
easier to sign contracts with external lenders, said Lawrence Esho,
one of Konza’s project planners until 2013.
“They are way behind schedule partly because the government took time
to give Konza money,” he said, adding that no money came in until
“This stopped any work from starting at the site and investors may
have developed cold feet as they waited.”
KoTDA’s chief executive, John Tanui, said the government has committed
to invest more than 80 billion shillings ($780 million).
“When I say committed does not mean we have absorbed. Our absorption
is less than 10 percent of that figure,” he said, without elaborating.
The government has stepped up funding since last year, said Abraham
Odeng, deputy secretary at Kenya’s Information Communications and
Technology ministry, without giving figures.
Odeng pointed to a 40 billion shilling contract signed in 2017 with an
Italian firm to build roads, water and sewerage infrastructure by
2021, funded by the Italian government.
“That is a concessional loan, which is a long-term loan that the
Kenyan government will pay,” he said.
But Kenya’s growing reliance on loans is causing jitters, with the
International Monetary Fund warning of an increased risk of default
Cities cannot be financed through central government but the absence
of international firms points to a lack of investor confidence in the
project, said the World Bank’s Muwonge.
“Getting Konza city off the ground will require that we pull in
private capital with concessions for them to deliver certain kinds of
infrastructure for which the government may not have resources,” he
“The issue is eliminating the challenges for the private sector to
come and do business.”
Five local investors, including Nairobi-based software developer Craft
Silicon and the state-run Kenya Electricity Transmission Company, are
expected to build offices, residential buildings and hotels by 2020,
KoTDA head Tanui said.
But critics say it is not enough.
“What (investors) have allocated so far is still a drop in the ocean,”
said Ndemo, the former government technocrat.
And international interest is shifting elsewhere.
Rwanda - widely regarded as the least corrupt country in East Africa -
launched its Kigali Innovation City in 2015, designed to host 50,000
people in universities and tech companies on a 70-hectare site outside
The $2 billion plan, due for completion by 2020, is seven times
cheaper than Konza.
"All these other (cities) have better proximity, have better density
and have better collaborative feedback loops," said financial analyst
Satchu. "We are now at a serious disadvantage vis-a-vis these other