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Brazil seeking to increase arms exports to Africa

Brazil is expanding its arms sales and presence in the African arms market.

Brazilian manufacturer Embraer is having more success in Africa than in the United States with its winning light aircraft Super Tucano, which is challenging rivals’ market share in the category.

Embraer’s only deal for the turboprop in the United States collapsed last month after the U.S. Air Force unexpectedly canceled an order for 20 planes to support operations in Afghanistan.

It also dashed hopes of a resulting manufacturing plant creating U.S. jobs in an Embraer partnership with independent defense manufacturer Sierra Nevada Corp.

The cancellation created a diplomatic furor that cast a shadow on Boeing’s bid to win a multibillion fighter jet contract in Brazil.

While the Air Force Super Tucano goes through the motions of diplomacy and commercial rivalry, amid U.S. official assurances the aircraft may still win the deal, Embraer is using its substantial marketing resources and financial incentives to secure customers elsewhere.

The EMB 314 Super Tucano, also known as ALX or A-29, is a machine made for financially strapped armed forces, defense analysts said, citing its competitive upfront outlay and running costs.

A turboprop aircraft designed for light attack, counterinsurgency, close air support and aerial reconnaissance missions in low threat environments, the Super Tucano is also good at providing pilot training.

Embraer’s success so far lies in the plane’s low cost of $9 million-14 million apiece and operational costs of $430-$500 an hour — factors that drew the Air Force to the aircraft before the deal got snarled up in controversy with rival U.S. manufacturers.

Embraer said it booked $180 million in orders for the Super Tucano to be deployed in counterinsurgency and border missions in Angola, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

The aircraft is used by the Brazilian air force in similar roles in the Amazonian border region, where Brazil faces drug trafficking and illegal immigration.

Burkina Faso already has received three aircraft for border patrol missions, Embraer said. Another six will be supplied to Angola’s air force, three of them this year.

Details of the Mauritanian order, due for delivery next year, weren’t immediately available. It was also not clear if the three African countries paid the same price. With the total number of aircraft unknown, defense analysts said they remained unclear about the price paid by each of the countries for their aircraft.

The Super Tucano was a star exhibit at the just ended FIDAE defense and air show in Santiago, Chile.

Embraer Defense and Security President Luiz Carlos Aguiar said, “The Super Tucano is highly efficient and presents low operating costs.

“Its capability for surveillance and counter-insurgency missions makes it ideal for service on the continent of Africa.”

Brazilian government support has helped Embraer score successes in markets that would be inaccessible to U.S. rivals because of congressional constraints and administration policies on qualifying recipient countries for U.S.-made military equipment.

The African arms market is gradually expanding every year. With weapons buyers like Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, to name a few, the sector looks attractive to foreign sellers whether they’re from Russia, Europe, the U.S. and now Latin America in the case with Brazil.

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United States recognises Libyan rebel council as legitimate government of Libya

U.S Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reacts with Mahmud Jibril, Chairman of the Libyan Interim National Transitional Council, during the fourth Libya Contact Group Meeting in Istanbul, Friday, July 15, 2011.

The United States has formally recognized Libya’s Transitional National Council as the country’s legitimate government.  The US is the latest country to officially do this after such nations like Turkey, France and Germany. More than 30 countries from around the world have recognized the Transitional National Council as the only legitimate representative government for the people of Libya.

Diplomatic recognition means that the U.S. will soon be able to fund the opposition with some of the more than $30 billion in Gahdafi-regime assets that are frozen in American banks. Other countries holding billions more in such assets will be able to do the same.

Contact Group representatives broke into spontaneous applause when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her nation’s recognition of the NTC, according to U.S. officials.

Rebel spokesman Mahmoud Shammam welcomed the NTC’s recognition and called on other nations to deliver on a promise to release hundreds of millions of dollars in funds to the opposition. “Funds, funds, funds,” Shammam said, in order to stress the opposition’s demand. It remained unclear Friday whether the unfrozen assets could be used to purchase arms, or if some restrictions would still apply. More than 30 countries have recognized the NTC much to Gahdafi’s opposition.

Clinton said the council won international recognition after giving assurances it would respect human rights and presenting a plan on how to pave the way to a truly democratic Libyan government.

She said the assurances included upholding the group’s international obligations, pursuing a democratic reform process that is both geographically and politically inclusive, and dispersing funds for the benefit of the Libyan people.

The recognition does not mean that the U.S. diplomatic mission in the rebel-held city of Benghazi, Libya, is now an embassy. Titles of staff and names of offices will be decided in the coming days, the officials said.

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Operation “Odyssey Dawn”

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution authorizing “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya, including a military operation.

U.S. and British ships fired more than 110 Tomahawk missiles at air defense targets in Libya as coalition forces began to enforce the no-fly-zone meant to protect the Lybian people from Moammar Gadhafi.

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2012 U.S. Diversity Visa Lottery Open until November 3rd

Each year, the U.S. government makes 50,000 permanent residence visas (“green cards”) available through the Diversity Immigrant Visa program. Visa applicants are selected through a computer-generated, random lottery. The selection of a person’s name in the lottery gives that person the opportunity to take the next steps in the visa application process.  Registration for the 2011 Diversity Visa Lottery (DV-2011) is open from October 5th  to November 3rd the U.S. State Department has announced.

2012 Diversity Visa Lottery Program Registration Period

The Department of State’s DV-2012 Diversity Visa lottery program registration period will open on Tuesday, October 5, 2010. Entries for the DV-2012 Diversity Visa (DV) lottery must be submitted electronically between noon on Tuesday, October 5, 2010 and noon on Wednesday, November 3, 2010, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4).

During this registration period, applicants may access the electronic Diversity Visa entry form (E-DV) at www.dvlottery.state.gov. Paper entries will not be accepted. Applicants are strongly encouraged not to wait until the last week of the registration period to enter. Heavy demand may result in website delays. No entries will be accepted after noon, EDT, on November 3, 2010.

The U.S. Department of State invites press to a DV-2012 briefing at 1:00 pm on Monday, September 27th at the Washington Foreign Press Center in the National Press Building at 529 14th Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20045. For more information about this briefing, contact Andrea Corey at 202-504-6354.

The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is administered annually by the Department of State. Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act makes up to 55,000 Diversity Visas (DV) available each fiscal year to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

The Department of State implemented the electronic registration system beginning with DV-2005 in order to make the Diversity Visa process more efficient and secure. The Department utilizes special technology and other means to identify those who commit fraud for the purposes of illegal immigration or those who submit multiple entries.

Continuing this effort toward a more efficient and secure DV program, the Department of State is introducing an entirely online process to notify lottery entrants of their selection and to provide information about the immigrant visa application and interview. From May 1, 2011, DV-2012 entrants will be able to use their unique confirmation number provided at registration to check online through Entry Status Check at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov to see if their entry was selected. Successful entrants will receive instructions on how to apply for immigrant visas for themselves and their eligible family members. Confirmation of visa interview appointments will also be made through Entry Status Check.

More information can be found here at State Department Site.

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Why China won’t take over the world, Including Africa.

The rise of China is, as we all know by now, the definitive economic and political story of our time. Every week a new book title announces an “irresistible” tilt east, the emergence of “Chimerica” and a not-too-distant future when China “rules” the planet. The mainstream media, and especially the business press, are gripped by the narrative of China taking over the world—every other headline in the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal has a China focus.Newsweek

There has been a transformative effect on Africa with China’s engagement.  The continent’s relations with the outside world, have been shaken up, especially among the old and fraying order dominated by cautious foreign donors and former colonial powers.

Trade between Africa and China rose tenfold, from $10bn to $108bn, between 2000 and 2008, dipping back last year during the global recession. Chinese direct investment is also steadily up, although inflows still trail those from the US and Europe. Thanks to Asian demand, world prices for African commodities have risen strongly over the decade. The price of African imports, increasingly sourced from Asia, have also decreased.

While most of China’s inroads in Africa are covered through the prism of economics; were china outbids and out-maneuvers mostly western firms and governments, it still has a long way to go before surpassing the U.S. as a global power, especially in Africa were the U.S. is the most admired country by your average Africa.

Based on those views, the U.S. is in an easier position to further its aims and goals.  It will be easier for America to exploit Chinese mismanagement, especially when it comes to corruption.

There are plenty of stories of a Chinese-sponsored infrastructure project or a Chinese company cutting a deal to feed its “insatiable thirst” for raw materials, while Western involvement of similar or greater magnitude is lucky to make a headline at all. Meanwhile, a close look at the key economic metrics and the subtler shades of power, such as cultural influence and humanitarian aid, reveals that while China is indeed one of the great powers in the world now (late last month it officially overtook Japan as the world’s second-largest economy), its influence is mixed, and often undercut by America’s.

While China’s trade with regions like Africa and Latin America is growing exponentially, it is still outpaced by America’s, which tends to be more diverse. In Asia, China is now the dominant trading partner, yet the flows are mainly in low-end goods, while America dominates higher up the food chain. U.S. aid and foreign direct investment in these regions still eclipses that of the Chinese, and its soft power still reigns, as does its military might, despite recent Chinese buildups in this area. “Economic heft alone has never been enough for a country to be dominant outside its borders,” says Charles Onyango-Obbo, a journalist who writes for the weekly newspaper The East African. He recently penned a column titled “Chinese Takeover? I’m Not Losing Any Sleep.” “It’s really been American education, technology, culture [Hollywood and music], business, and sport that has enabled it to be so overarching,” says Onyango-Obbo. “China is going to be a very important power in the world, but it will not be dominant.”

Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than in Africa, where China has been depicted as the shrewd winner of a neocolonial scramble for resources, offering developmental assistance—mainly in the form of low-priced manufactured goods, infrastructure investment, and soft loans—all proffered with no pesky Western-style demands to respect human rights. In exchange, China gets access to raw materials to fuel its economic boom. No doubt China’s presence on the continent has expanded considerably in recent years. But the U.S. remains sub-Saharan Africa’s largest trading partner, accounting for 15 percent of Africa’s total trade versus 10 percent for the Chinese (it’s also worth noting that Africa has been a low trading priority for the U.S., accounting for a mere 2 percent of its global trade).

Indeed, the bulk of China-Africa trade is made up of Chinese oil imports from five countries, and even with respect to oil—said to be at the heart of China’s drive on the continent—America holds a sizable lead. China imports 17 percent of all African oil compared with 29 percent for the U.S. (and 35 percent for Europe). Western companies are the leading foreign partners in oil projects in Nigeria, which is sub-Saharan Africa’s largest oil producer, and in the continent’s largest emerging oil producers such as Ghana and Uganda.

US influence in Africa will only grow due to the fact the oil imports from the region, particularly from west Africa are quickly outpacing oil imports from the middle east. Nigeria is the third largest oil supplier to the U.S. Oil from African countries will soon be the majority suppliers to the U.S. by 2020. America only has to ask the question: Where should we get our oil from? The middle east where we are greatly hated and resented or from Africa, the most pro-America region in the world? The answer is simple.

As of 2006, the U.S. now imports more crude oil from Africa than it does from the Middle East. The latest Energy Information Administration data shows that in 2006, Africa pumped 2.23 million barrels per day into the U.S. market. This marked the first time the U.S. received more oil from Africa than from the Middle East. Those Middle Eastern imports have been declining for three consecutive years, although the area is still a big supplier to the U.S., providing some 2.22 million barrels per day.

Two African oil giants, Algeria and Angola, witnessed an impressive up-tick in the volume of crude oil exported to the U.S. In December 2006, for instance, crude oil bound for the U.S. market from Angola rose by 41 percent when compared to the year-earlier period. Angola, OPEC’s newest member, supplied an average of 513,000 barrels of crude per day throughout 2006. Meanwhile, Algerian crude exports to the U.S. jumped by 57 percent to 357,000 barrels daily, its highest level since 1980. Algeria is also a big products supplier to the U.S. market, to which it provided about 300,000 barrels of products per day in 2006.

Africa’s new status as a strategic energy partner(PDF link) for the U.S. is bound to grow in the years ahead. That’s because other traditional sources of U.S. crude, like Venezuela and Mexico, are undergoing output constraints due to their aging oil fields. Meanwhile, African oil output is growing. Dr. Peter Taniform, an economic analyst at Amity Energy, a Cameroon-based energy consulting firm, told ET that over the past few years more Middle Eastern crude has been flowing toward Asia. He said that fact, conflicts in the Middle East, and “anti-American campaigns in the Mideast are driving U.S. giants to invest billions to explore and drill across Africa.”

Add to that allegations of corruption and shoddy execution in a number of Chinese energy and infrastructure projects throughout Africa. Compare and contrast this with with the U.S., which greatly and morally praises transparency and good governance.

An $8 billion Chinese-sponsored road and mine project in Congo, deemed the “Marshall Plan of Africa” when it was unveiled a couple of years ago, has been tainted by allegations of corruption and poor implementation, as has a massive Chinese-funded fiber-optic project in Uganda. A recent study from the African Labor Research Network, called “Chinese Investments in Africa: A Labour Perspective,” looked at labor conditions at Chinese companies in 10 African countries and found them “among the worst employers everywhere,” according to the report’s author, Herbert Jauch.

There is also growing resentment of China.  The growing resentment among the populations of most of the African states in which China is investing, particularly with respect to employment issues. When China invests in an African infrastructure or development project, they typically bring their own citizens to provide labor. In countries that face upwards of 50% unemployment in the formal sector, this breeds resentment and anger.

African leaders might consider this resentment when making deals with the Chinese in the years to come. Accepting aid and investment only on Chinese terms could backfire on some African leaders come election time, especially in places where the perceived general benefit of infrastructure improvement or development activities is low.

Disenchantment with the Middle Kingdom is particularly strong in Angola and Nigeria, which a few years ago were both tilting China’s way, lured by the promise of soft, unconditional development loans and noninterference in domestic politics. Two-way trade between China and Nigeria doubled to $7 billion between 2006 and 2008 (though still dwarfed by $42 billion with the U.S. in 2008). Yet Nigeria’s late president Umaru Yar’Adua ended up canceling a number of the projects due to scandals and delays. Washington has been quietly capitalizing; according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, exports to Nigeria have risen 48 percent and imports (consisting predominantly of oil) by 16 percent this year alone.

The situation is the same in Angola, where Angolan Rafael Marques de Morais, founder of Maka, which monitors corruption in the country, says, “Corruption and a lack of accountability on China-Angola deals have undermined a more sustainable and long-term relationship between the two countries.” He points to the General Hospital built by Chinese contractors in Luanda, the capital’s first new hospital since independence, which “four years after its inauguration is basically collapsing.” In July patients and staff were evacuated due to safety concerns. Once again, Washington moved to exploit disenchantment with Beijing, meeting with Angolan officials in June to discuss ways to deepen and diversify trade, and pushing a newly signed IMF agreement of understanding that may lead to fresh loans from Western banks.

There are also opportunities for change in the way China views its relationship with the continent. The Chinese government is very aware that its bilateral relationships with African states are two-way streets. As these relationships have evolved, Beijing has moved away from its initial “one-size-fits-all” approach to a more nuanced understanding of the differences between Africa’s states. There is room to reimagine the nature of these agreements while still satisfying China’s need to expand its markets in a way that also benefits African markets.

Instead of allowing China to source all of its materials and labor force from home, African leaders might work to find ways for the projects to benefit communities while they are in process as well as when they are over. Contracts could be negotiated to set a minimum number of local employees on a project (for example, half the employees building a road might have to be national employees, while the other half would be Chinese). Some management positions should be reserved for African leaders, thus building the capacity of local construction managers, health care professionals, and engineers. Materials could be sourced locally when possible and from China when not. The possibilities are endless.

All these cases of corruption only underscores America’s deeper and more diversified engagement  with Africa. Here is a report about corruption involving Hu Jiatao’s son.

When the going gets tough, Africa turns to the U.S., not China.

the U.S. still tends to be the country to call when there is trouble. Consider the terrorist bombings in Kampala, Uganda, that left more than 85 people dead this summer. President Yoweri Museveni had been trading barbs with Washington prior to the incident about the pace of democratic reforms in his country. Museveni had also been tightening relations with China. But after the bombings, he swiftly turned not to Beijing but to Washington for assistance, and received $24 million in manpower and technical resources.

This sort of effort, particularly when contrasted with China’s recent political bumbles in Africa and elsewhere (for example, its growing reputation for shoddy construction work in Africa; its South China Sea squabbles with its Asian neighbors), makes America look good and underscores the opportunity for it to better play the myriad cards it has at its disposal—cultural, military, scientific, and economic. Many of these were underutilized or misused during its two decades as the world’s lone superpower. To the extent that China’s rise forces America’s nimble re-engagement with the world, the effect may be win-win.

It seems that once again that America is the indispensible nation.

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Nigeria cement ties over Nuclear Proliferation

The U.S. and Nigeria seal cooperation agreement on stopping Nuclear proliferation.

Nigeria and the United States have agreed to work together to counter the spread of nuclear weapons, a senior US official said after a weekend meeting with acting president Goodluck Jonathan.

Undersecretary of state for political affairs William Burns met Jonathan late Saturday as the West leans on the UN Security Council — where Nigeria has a seat — to slap tougher sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme.

“The United States and Nigeria are determined to live up to our responsibility on nuclear issues,” Burns told Nigerian state radio after the meeting, which he described as “excellent”.

Both nations would work together to “both reduce existing nuclear arsenal …and work against the proliferation of nuclear weapons,” he added.

They will also “look for ways in which we can increase cooperation on civilian nuclear energy,” he added.

Burns met Jonathan on the same day that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in Kampala to lobby Uganda — the other African member of the Security Council — on the nuclear issue.

Iran has previously offered to help Nigeria build a nuclear power plant.

Iran faces new sanctions after it refused a nuclear fuel supply deal which would have sent its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France for conversion into high-grade uranium and later returned for its nuclear energy needs.

Last weekend, Iran — which is defying previous UN demands to halt uranium enrichment, and which denies it is on a quest for a nuclear arsenal — said it would lobby all UN Security Council members against sanctions.

Jonathan met US President Barack Obama a fortnight ago when he travelled to Washington on his first foreign trip for an international summit on nuclear security.

Nigeria is the United States’ biggest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa, with about a half of Nigerian crude oil production crossing the Atlantic to the US market.

On April 5 the two countries announced a strategic partnership deal focusing on energy, regional security and good governance — the first time that the Obama administration has afforded such status to an African state

More in depth information on US-Nigeria relations can be found at US State Department site.

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