Month: November 2010

At no Surprise, Somali tops Countries Most at Risk from Terrorism

The risk consulting firm Maplecroft has released its Terrorism Risk Index for 2010, which tracks the frequency and intensity of terrorism attacks around the world. The most dangerous countries from a terrorism perspective are:

1. Somalia
2. Pakistan
3. Iraq

The firm ranks a total of 16 countries as being under “extreme risk” – a list that includes Colombia, Thailand, Philippines, Yemen, Russia, and Israel.

Greece has moved the most in the index, from 57th on the list to 24th and is now considered the European country most at risk from a terrorist attack. The U.S. is ranked 33th.

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European Union Navy Task Force Puts Together Pirate Hijacking Surival Guide

The European Naval Force for Somalia has released a helpful brochure in the event that you find yourself captured by Somali pirates. The advice is here. (pdf) Among its many recommendations: 

Be aware that the ransom payment process is very stressful for the pirates and they may be more agitated than normal. Try to avoid contact with the pirates at this time. Confine yourself to established routines and behaviour patterns so as not to attract unnecessary attention on you. It may be some days after payment before you are released. Do not expect to be released immediately….Khat is a common drug used in the Somali region. If the pirates onboard your vessel use this or other drugs, you should be careful to avoid any confrontations whilst they are under the influence of such substances. You should not be tempted to take drugs, other than for legitimate medical conditions, whilst in captivity. The taking of drugs may offer temporary relief, however the negative effects of withdrawal symptoms and increased tension due to cravings could result in unnecessary violence from your captors.

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Africa Endeavor Planning Conference Ends in Mauritius

PORT LOUIS, Mauritius - Brigadier General Robert Ferrell, U.S. Africa Command's director of C4 Systems (left), greets Colonel Wilson Tembo, the delegation chief representing the African Union.

Next year’s Africa Endeavor military exercises have been set to schedule.

After a full week of briefings and discussions, the first planning conference for communications exercise Africa Endeavor 2011 came to a close on November 11, 2010 in Port Louis, Mauritius.

In cooperation with the government of Mauritius, delegations from 35 African nations came together to plan for the U.S. Africa Command- sponsored exercise Africa Endeavor 2011, the largest military communications interoperability and information sharing exercise in Africa.

The week kicked off with opening comments from African and U.S. senior leaders addressing more than 140 participants from 35 different nations.

U.S. Ambassador to Mauritius Mary Jo Wills talked about how important Africa is to the United States and to the world. In her remarks, she referenced President Obama’s remarks in Ghana last year when he talked about the United States’ commitment to Africa, emphasizing that Africa’s prosperity, health and security, and strength of democracy is interconnected with that of the global community.

Brigadier General Robert Ferrell, U.S. Africa Command’s director of C4 Systems, told the delegates that their planning efforts are a step forward towards achieving a common goal by incorporating a regional-based application to the proposed exercise scenario.

One of the delegates, Captain Farell Folly of Benin, who was part of the AE Exercises for the past three years, was recognized as a central figure during the planning conference, serving as an interface between the AE11’s Executive Management Board (EMB) and the working groups. The EMB is made up of senior military delegates from participating countries, and the regional working groups are comprised of multinational military communications professionals. Folly’s role for the exercise was to help participants in the working groups achieve the training objectives established by the EMB.

PORT LOUIS, Mauritius - Captain Farell Folly from Benin (center) presents ideas on how to develop effective communications procedures during one of the working group sessions for the Africa Endeavor 2011 initial planning conference, November 8-11, 2010.

He talked about how far the AE exercise has come over the past few years. “In 2010, we worked to see if the equipment each unit had could even talk to each other. Now, in 2011, instead of focusing on testing equipment, we are focusing on developing procedures on how to communicate at all levels…platoon, brigade and company, and between the different regions in Africa,” said Folly.

Lieutenant Colonel David Schilling of U.S. Army Africa was the U.S. delegation lead for this planning conference. He explained that there are four levels to achieving full interoperability. The base level or bottom of the pyramid is the human level–or the ability to establish relationships and identify a common objective. The next level up is the technical level, which according to Shilling, was the level of the exercise in 2010. “It is the level where we deal primarily with getting the hardware to getting the hardware to talk to each other,” he said.

The third level from the bottom is the procedural level. This is the part that is being worked for AE11 in preparation for the final operational level. “Bottom line…in the procedural level, we are working to make sure that what we say and mean is the same thing that others are saying and meaning…and is interpreted and understood that way,” said Schilling.

The purpose of Africa Endeavor is to build the capacity of African nations to exchange information through compatible communication networks.

“These networks will not only facilitate communication on the continent but form the basis for collaborative links with the United States, African Union and other international partners,” said Ambassador Wills.

Ferrell explained that the AE exercise is tied to real world requirements and how working together across borders will help mitigate the aftermath of natural disasters and other perils. “…because disasters and diseases do not stop at national borders, our communication efforts must therefore follow the same model if we are to be effective.”

The initial planning conference for AE11 concluded on November 11. Two additional conferences will be held in early 2011 in preparation for the actual exercise that will take place in Bamako, Mali in late June.

Previous posts on African Endeavor can be found here and here.

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Ugandan People’s Defence Air Force Chief visits Africa Command’s Ramstein Air Base

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - Ugandan People's Defence Air Force Chief Major General Jim Owoyesigire (left) shakes the hand of Major General Margaret Woodward, commander of 17th Air Force (Air Forces Africa), during his visit to 17th Air Force (Air Forces Africa) and Team Ramstein November 10, 2010.

Ugandan People’s Defence Air Force Chief Major General Jim Owoyesigire visited 17th Air Force (Air Forces Africa) and other units at Ramstein Air Base and at Spangdahlem Air Base November 9-11, 2010, marking the first visit of an African Air Chief since 17th AF stood up in October 2008 as the air component for U.S. Africa Command.

The series of meetings and orientations were the latest step in the strengthening of an “already fantastic” relationship with the UDPAF, according to 17th AF Commander Major General Margaret H. Woodward.

“We’re very proud of the relationship we have enjoyed with the UPDAF, but this visit has taken it to a higher level,” she said. “We had very good opportunities for General Jim [Owoyesigire] and I to learn from one another. General Jim likes to talk about how much he’s learned from us, but I think the reverse is also true. We only get stronger when we learn other perspectives, so it’s been very productive.”

Sharing expertise has been a consistent theme of the interaction between 17th AF and the UPDAF, according to Owoyesigire, who explained that 17th has intensified the cooperation that was previously conducted by U.S. European Command and U.S. Air Forces in Europe.

The Ugandan Air Chief said he began learning from the U.S. Air Force during a visit to Ramstein in 2007, when the base hosted an African Air Chief’s conference, and gleaned more during this visit to propel his young force, now in its fifth year as an independent branch of the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces.

“This experience has enhanced my own capability as a commander,” Owoyesigire said. “I hope I can go back and put this into implementation to improve our UPDAF.”

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - (Left to right) Captain Jeffrey Gipson of the 7th Weather Squadron demonstrates weather equipment used in contingency environments to Ugandan People's Defence Air Force Chief Major General Jim Owoyesigire and Deputy Operations Coordinator Major Chris Kasaija during a visit by the Ugandan Air Chief to 17th Air Force (Air Forces Africa) and Team Ramstein November 10, 2010.

Despite the UDPAF’s developing status as an independent force, it is, like the rest of the Ugandan forces, part of a dynamic and influential nation in the east African region, and a major player in security and stability in this region, Woodward said. She cited both Uganda’s role in the African Union Mission in Somalia, and their fight against the terrorist organization known as the Lord’s Resistance Army.

“We are obviously very proud of our partners in everything they’ve been doing, especially taking a leadership role in AMISOM in Somalia and taking on the LRA–pushing them back and protecting women and children from some very horrific acts perpetrated by these criminals,” Woodward said.

Help from U.S. Africa Command and 17th AF has been a key enabler for the UPDAF’s contribution to these missions, Owoyesigire explained.

“When we started in AMISOM, we had no airlift capability,” Owoyesigire said. “General Ward came and visited and helped us to partner with the U.S. Air Force to get this airlift capability. To get training, 17th AF came and trained us in loading cargo and airdrops, and this has really helped us.

“This allows us Africans to solve the problems on the African continent. We have eased the suffering of [refugees], providing them food, water and safe passage. We have denied locations where terrorists used to operate from–these are very big achievements for us. We appreciate what AFRICOM is doing here and in other parts of Africa. If the work continues, we move toward living on a peaceful continent,” Owoyesigire said.

The itinerary for the visit included stops at the 86th Airlift and 435th Air Ground Operations Wings and Spangdahlem’s 52nd Fighter Wing, along with the KMC’s Kisling NCO Academy. The presentations centered on sharing expertise in everything from airlift operations and aircraft maintenance to NCO development. General Woodward thanked all the participants, saying that one thing evident throughout was the role of the professional NCO and how a well-trained NCO corps can be the backbone of an air force.

“USAFE and AFAFRICA coming together to put this visit together and make a very memorable experience for General Jim shows how our effective collaboration is a force multiplier, especially in building partnerships,” Woodward said. “We really appreciate our partners here at Ramstein and Spangdahlem taking the time to make such valued contributions to this visit.”

Owoyesigire said lessons learned from the visit will shape the next steps in cooperation between 17th AF and the UPDAF.

This is continued engagement between the Ugandan People’s Defence Force, Ugandan People’s Defence Air Force and Air Forces Africa. This is a follow up meeting that took place this past summer. This continued effort by both sides will only deepen the partnership between the Ugandan armed services and U.S. military.

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South Korea navy completes anti-piracy operations in Gulf of Aden

ROKS Gang Gam-Chan deploys its tip of the sword, two RHIB's and a Super Lynx helicopter.

The South Korean navy recently completed anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

The Republic of Korea Navy’s (ROKN) ROKS Gang Gam-Chan recently completed its anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean as a member of Combined Task Force-151 (CTF-151). The ship was the fourth ROKN Cheonghae Unit ship to be deployed to CTF-151. The ROKN has been operating continuously in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean since April 2009.
Unlike the more frequent overseas deployment of the country’s army, the ROKN’s Cheonghae Unit is the first overseas deployment of the Republic of Korea (ROK) armed forces for combat operations since the Vietnam War, when the Republic of Korea Marine Corps (ROKMC) re-established its legendary reputation as a force that can “catch the devil.” Other recent and ongoing ROK deployments have been for non-combat purposes, such as reconstruction, medical assistance, and peacekeeping. While they have included combat troops, their purpose was the protection of ROK personnel.
During its deployment, ROKS Gang Gam-Chan escorted 488 commercial ships of various nationalities on a total of 29 occasions, while there were no successful pirate attacks in its area of responsibility. The KDX-2 destroyer also inspected suspect ships and thwarted attempted pirate attacks. Additionally, the KDX-2 destroyer provided emergency medical treatment and donated medical supplies aboard commercial ships, including ships registered to Bahama, the Fugro Synergy, and Hong Kong, the Fortune Apricot.
ROKS Gang Gam-Chan was replaced by ROKS Wang Geon, also a destroyer of the 4,500-ton Chungmugong Yi Sun-Shin class (KDX-2). ROKS Wang Geon is known to have begun its operations on September 13.
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South Africa and China sign energy deals

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, touted as China's next president

South Africa and China signed a series of energy and trade deals Wednesday. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, on a business trip to the Rainbow Nation, signed on the dotted line with South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

China is keen to secure mineral needed to fuel its rapidly-growing economy.

China remains South Africa’s biggest bilateral trading partner and Jinping hopes the visit would further consolidate this relationship and divert trade and investment from traditional markets in Europe and North America to world’s new economic powers.

Jinping is on a three-day visit to Africa’s largest economy, which is seeking to reduce a deficit in trade with China that hit $2.7 billion last year, skewed in Beijing’s favour.

“For the growth path to be a success we require the support of partners such as China,” Motlanthe told reporters. “We see the future destiny of our two countries as inextricably linked with the African continent.”

Both leaders were co-chairing the fourth China-South Africa bilateral commission and signed a number of agreements, including an energy deal. No monetary details were released.

“The Chinese government undertook to encourage more imports from South Africa, especially value added products and will urge Chinese companies to invest in infrastructure development, automotive manufacturing, energy and information and communication technology,” Motlanthe added.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping signed an energy deal with resource-rich South Africa on Wednesday in a visit aimed at obtaining minerals the Asian giant needs to fuel its blistering growth.

China is South Africa’s biggest bilateral trading partner and the focal point of its plan to divert more trade and investment from traditional markets in Europe and North America to the world’s fastest growing economies.

Xi, touted as China’s next president, on Tuesday began a three-day visit to Africa’s largest economy, which is seeking to reduce a deficit in trade with China that hit $2.7 billion last year, skewed in Beijing’s favour.

South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Xi co-chaired the 4th China-South Africa bilateral commission and signed a number of agreements, including an energy deal.

No monetary details were released.

“The Chinese government undertook to encourage more imports from South Africa, especially value added products and will urge Chinese companies to invest in infrastructure development, automotive manufacturing, energy and information and communication technology,” Motlanthe said in a statement.

South Africa has also signed a deal with China’s Yingli Solar to build a $435 million manufacturing plant with a local partner, a senior government official said.

Yingli will partner with a local company and aimed to start building the plant within 12 months.

South African exports about $5.5 billion a year in minerals to the state and has been increasingly a destination of Chinese foreign direct investment.

Beijing sees South Africa, a global mining power and regional financial services leader, as a vital source of commodities and a stepping stone to access other African states.

The help of countries including China is vital for South Africa’s new economic growth path, which aims to create millions of jobs, mainly in the private sector.

For South Africa, China also serves as a model of state action in the economy, with Pretoria hoping to join it in the BRIC — Brazil, Russia, India and China — group of fast emerging economies.

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Africa to have 6% economic growth in 2011

Africa will have 6% growth in 2011 according to the African Development Bank.

Africa is likely to see gross domestic product growth of 6.0 percent next year and 6.5 percent in sub-Saharan Africa, African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka said on Thursday.

“I think next year Africa will be growing at six percent. In sub-Saharan Africa it will be six and a half percent,” he told Reuters in an interview, adding “Africa is coming out of the (global financial) crisis stronger; it’s developing a strong relationship with emerging markets.”

He said the bank was likely to borrow $3 billion to $3.5 billion on international markets in 2011.

“We can borrow around three to three and a half billion (dollars) in 2011. We are going on a borrowing program shortly. We have no difficulty raising funds,” he said, adding that the bank was able to secure funding below the London interbank offered rate. “We are back to LIBOR minus,” he said on the sidelines of a business forum, without elaborating.

African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka

The AfBD said earlier this year that it expected growth of 5.2 percent for next year, but a stronger than expected rebound led by demand for the continent’s commodities has confounded economists’ expectations.

The continent would be back to its average GDP growth trend of 6.0 percent reached during the decade before the financial crisis, which slashed growth to 2.9 percent in 2009.

Economists expect Africa to grow by 5 percent this year.

The AFDB has tripled its capital base this year to $100 bln, giving it greater fire power to tackle the huge infrastructure deficit faced by countries across a continent of a billion people.

The AFDB’s shareholders are Africa’s 53 nations and 24 non-African donor countries.

Low interest rates in developed market have encouraged investors to look elsewhere to fast-growing, high-yield emerging and frontier markets.

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Namibia will allow foreign banks to open branches

After shunning international competition and not allowing foreign banks to set up shop, Namibia will allow foreign banking institutions to operate in the country.

Namibia’s central bank said Friday that the country will allow foreign banks to open branches and also make it easier for the government to increase local ownership of domestic banks.

In a statement released Friday from the capital, Windhoek, Bank of Namibia said a new amendment would allow “credible foreign banking institutions” to open branches to promote competition in a banking

industry dominated by a handful of lenders.

The statement said: “Over the past few years, limited competition characterized the banking industry in

Namibia. The law is now amended to address the concern. Previously, the law only allowed for fully

incorporated subsidies and representative offices.’’

The amendment is expected to make it easier for the government to draft regulations on the ownership of banks to increase local control of lenders.

The central bank said it will also now be able to levy administrative fines on lenders.

Its about time that Namibia allowed this kind of much needed foreign investment, the economic payoffs were just too much to be held  back by the anti-globalization forces in past governments.

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Is Zimbabwe about to adopt Chinese currency?

This past Monday, Zimbabwe’s Vice President Joice Mujuru suggested that Zimbabwe, which currently has no currency of its own, should adopt the Chinese Yuan.

Zimbabwe’s Vice President Joice Mujuru on Monday suggested that the southern African country, which currently has no currency of its own, should adopt the Chinese Yuan.

Mujuru said China is now Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner, with the Asian giant absorbing most of the country’s mineral and agricultural produce and this would “further cement the Look East Policy”.

Zimbabwe’s Vice President Joice Mujuru

“Adopting the Chinese Yuan would be a logical step and could help solve some of the country’s liquidity constraints,” Mujuru said.

The southern African country discarded the Zimbabwe dollar last year after hyperinflation estimated at around a trillion percent rendered it worthless.

In its place, the government adopted a range of foreign currencies, including the British Pound Sterling, American Dollar, Euro, Botswana Pula and South African Rand, as legal tender.

All transactions, including salaries for workers, in the country are carried out in foreign currency.

But last week Finance Minister Biti said the multiple currency regime would remain in place until 2012 when ministers hope it would be replaced by a single currency for the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

And although senior Zanu-PF officials have welcomed the suggestion made by Mujuru to adopt the Chinese Yuan, economists are not so sure.

Mujuru says this would be a “natural progression and offshoot of the Look East Policy” which has seen China emerge as the country’s biggest trading partner, absorbing most of the agricultural and mineral produce.

“I don’t see why we should not use the Chinese Yuan when most of what we are producing in the country like our tobacco and minerals are ultimately being bought by the Chinese.

She said China was not only a vast market but also the world’s fastest growing economy that needs to be deliberately incorporated into Zimbabwe’s production, manufacturing and marketing matrix.

Critics say President Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, has destroyed one of Africa’s most promising economies through controversial policies, including the seizure of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to inexperienced black farmers.

Mugabe, 86, denies the charge and says the economy has been sabotaged by enemies opposed to his nationalist policies.

The only reason that this idea is being floated is the poor economic mismanagement that Zimbabwe has had during the rule of Robert Mugabe.  This is nothing but a political move masked in economics, since China is really the only major country backing Mugabe’s corrupt rule.

China, which has been slow in allowing the use of its currency abroad, has to be careful for blow back, especially in the region since there is a negative growing view among Africans that China is just exploiting Africa for its economic gains.  If this idea of allowing the use of the Yuan goes through, see a more negative view of China spread in Africa and the world.

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