30 May 2023

A visitor not welcomed with water has little hope of food
BBC Africa Live 30 May 2023. 4:32 Proverb of the day. Sent by Aliyu Ibrahim to BBC News Pidgin.

China/Kenya/Infrastructure projects: The Standard Gauge Railway-megaproject served as object of study to determine “if Chinese actors indeed determined how mega-infrastructures are realised in African countries.” It appears that mainstream discourse “overemphasise(s) the power of the Chinese state” and that Kenya’s government, far from being a passive recipient of Chinese-funded projects, had much “more power to influence (…) industrial development and the sustainability of large-scale projects than mainstream narratives acknowledge.” Beijing respectively its (usually state-owned) companies, rather than pursuing a grand vision of transformative infrastructure development in Kenya as elsewhere in Africa, often shifts its strategies and adapts to local circumstances.

Nigeria: Long queues have formed at petrol stations following the President’s announcement yesterday in his inaugural address that fuel subsidies would be abolished. Authorities have in the meantime clarified that subsidies will remain in place until end of June but this has apparently not stopped the wave of panic buying.
BBC Africa Live 30 May 2023. 9:41

29 May 2023

Sudan: As the repeatedly broken 7-day-ceasefire is about to expire amidst calls to extend it, “heavy clashes” have been reported by residents in south and west Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city.
BBC Africa Live 29 May 2023. 15:06

Nigeria: In his inaugural address, Bola Tinubu announced that fuel subsidies will be abolished. The fuel subsidies drained public finances – costing 9.3bn USD in 2022 (and almost as much in only the first half of 2023). The funds thus freed are to be spent on “public infrastructure and to improve the lives of people”. As governor of Lagos, Tinubu had managed to revitalise the megacity, following a “technocratic” (does that mean neoliberal?) approach.

Architecture/Nigeria: At the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale, Demas Nwoko was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. An interview with the 87-year-old. “Each region has its own culture. Whatever you build, it should suit your needs and your culture. You can’t transfer it to another region.” In Africa, that has not been done. Instead, “architectural designs from the temperate zones” have been copied. That only works if you have AC. But it is not a habitat that is affordable.

Successful resolution of armed conflict: Very few conflicts are resolved on the battlefield. Negotiating peace is complex. According to the article’s author, what is needed is “a sustained commitment from several actors to building peace; serious efforts to develop trust and listen to grievances; an attunement to timing; and an acceptance of peace as a process”. An example of a successful peace agreement is the one that in ended the 16 years of civil war in Mozambique, an example for a failed one the one in Sierra Leone in 1999 which was immediately followed by a flare-up in fighting. Also, a mediator need not necessarily be neutral – Compaoré in 2007 successfully mediated negotiations between the Ivorian government and the Forces Nouvelles-rebels whom he had before overtly supported.