30 January 2022

Patent-free cheap Covid vaccine that can be stored in a normal refrigerator: The vaccine could reduce world-wide vaccine inequality substantially. “CORBEVAX was developed by the co-directors of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development at Baylor College of Medicine, Drs. Maria Elena Bottazzi and Peter Hotez.” Corbevax has already been licensed patent-free to India’s largest vaccine maker BioE where production is to top 100 million doses per month from February 2022 onward.

Antimicrobial resistance: According to a recent paper, resistance of microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi) to the drugs designed to kill them now kills more people than malaria and HIV/AIDS together. Even everyday bacterial infections could become life-threatening again.

Ethiopia, Mali, Guinea: Because of human rights violations or coups, the three countries have lost their tariff-free access to the US market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2021. Granting or withdrawing admission to AGOA is entirely at the discretion of Washington. But their suspension may have little effect on Ethiopia, Mali and Guinea, as they found it difficult to access the US market despite AGOA and the share of the USA in their exports has been falling before their suspension from AGOA. For Mali, it had always been almost insignificant.

29 January 2022

Somaliland: With peace and stability inside and the country “establishing itself as a hub of regional trade following a deal with DP World to redevelop its Berbera port”, Somaliland is hoping to finally break out of its lack of diplomatic recognition. The discussion of Somaliland’s recognition in the British Parliament may be a sign that things are changing even though the British government made it clear that it is against it. The UK government’s refusal to recognize Somaliland and its favouring union, however, “rewards a Federal Government in Somalia whose unearned legitimacy has enabled its intransigent pursuit of elite plunder and fecklessness”.

Africa’s autocratic elites: In Africa’s competitive autocracies “there is a remarkable stability of senior elites and institutional practices across regimes”. Heads of state “typically spread power among their ‘rival allies’ to (…) co-opt enough of those elites in exchange for political support”. The article’s authors have identified four phases of the ‘autocratic cycle’: accommodation, consolidation, factionalisation, crisis (which do not necessarily happen in chronological order). During accommodation, “leaders build coalitions by distributing rents and authority among senior elites”; the consolidation stage sees “the height of a leader’s authority, where the threat of being removed is lowest”; factionalisation happens if a leader is perceived to be excessively centralising power (e.g. by replacing security chiefs with loyalists) other elites may feel threatened and may organise along factional lines; finally “(r)egime crises reshape the existing power structures by disposing of the old leader.” According to the authors, mass protests and popular opposition play only minor roles in regime changes in autocracies – they “can spark crises within a regime. But leaders and senior elites are more likely to produce significant and durable changes.”

Libya: In the face of ongoing turmoil, wide-spread violence also by non-state actors, foreign meddling, state failure, protracted conflict…, elections alone are unlikely to solve the country’s problems, especially as there is no constitution that has universal support and the validity of the elections is contested. “Moving forward Libya needs to establish a ceasefire and continue to work on the political settlement, before meaningful elections can be held.”