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Climate change raises the stakes in Libya’s crisis

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Libya has been in crisis for ten years, and with each passing year, the stakes for the West grow higher. Besides the humanitarian tragedy that has ravaged the country and its people, the stakes in the battle for Libya’s future are higher than is usually assumed. Pundits often raise the threat that the deployment of Russian missiles to Libya would pose, both to NATO and the European Union. Libya’s close proximity to the shores of Italy and Greece and dominating position at the heart of the Mediterranean make it a valuable strategic prize for the power that can exercise influence over it. Yet Libya’s position at the heart of the Mediterranean comes with another concern, which will grow over the course of coming years, writes Jay Mens.

Whoever controls Libya will exercise a significant degree of control over flows of refugees and migrants from the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. European officials have already expressed concern about this, and through joint naval operations the Union has moved to try and stem the tide of illegal migration into the Union. Those making their way through Libya include refugees fleeing violence in Afghanistan and Syria, refugees fleeing war in Syria, some of Libya’s over 270,000 internally displaced persons, and increasing numbers of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, moving northwards in search of better lives. The experience of refugees fleeing conflict is a human tragedy, and migrants searching for better lives is a fact of human history. Yet beyond these human stories, the wider phenomenon of mass migration is being transformed into a weapon by those who hope to harm Europe or to hold it hostage.

The use of mass migration as a geopolitical tool has a long history. Recent research by the political scientist Kelly Greenhill suggests there have been 56 such instances in the last seventy years alone. In 1972, Idi Amin expelled the entire Asian population of Uganda, including 80,000 British passport-holders, as a punishment for Britain’s withdrawal of aid and assistance. In 1994, Fidel Castro’s Cuba threatened the United States with waves of migrants in the wake of massive civil unrest. In 2011, none other than Libya’s late dictator Muammar Gadhaffi threatened the European Union, warning that if it kept supporting protesters, “Europe will be facing a human flood from North Africa”. In 2016, the Turkish government threatened to allow the nearly four million Syrian refugees residing in Turkey to the European Union if the EU did not pay it. When the dispute erupted, Turkey allowed, and in some cases forced migrants into Eastern Europe, exacerbating already-high tensions within the Union on the thorny question of immigration. Libya is the next hotspot for these debates.

Libya’s proximity to Europe makes it a key hotspot for migrants. Its shores are an estimated 16 hours by boat from the islands of Lampedusa and Crete, and roughly a day from the Greek mainland. For this region, Libya has become a major node for migration from across the Middle East, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa. From West Africa, one route passes through in Agadez in Niger, going northward to the oasis of Sabha in Libya's Fezzan. Another proceeds from in Gao in Mali, into Algeria past Tamranasset into Libya. From East Africa, Khartoum in Sudan is the central meeting point, heading into Libya from its south-East. As of March 2020, Libya hosted an estimated 635,000 migrants from across the Middle East and Africa, in addition to nearly 50,000 refugees of its own.

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Today, Libya is split into roughly two parts. Libya’s problem is not a power vacuum, but the control of the country by powers subordinate to foreign interests seeking leverage over Europe. Since March, Libya has been ruled by a tenuous Government of National Unity, which on paper, has reunited its disparate East and West. Yet it is struggling to act as a government and certainly lacks any monopoly of force over most of the country. To the East, the Libyan National Army remains the main driving force and across the country, tribal and ethnic militias continue to act with impunity. Moreover, Libya is still home to a significant contingent of foreign troops and mercenaries. Among many others, the two most powerful foreign actors in Libya’s East and West-- Russia and Turkey respectively-- continue to dominate on the ground. Neither party seems willing to back down, meaning that the country will remain at an impasse; or, that it will continue its seemingly inexorable shuffle towards partition. Neither outcome is desirable.

Both Russia and Turkey have threatened the EU with waves of migration. If Libya remains at an impasse, they can continue to use Libya, a key node for Middle Eastern and African migration, as a spigot, keeping their fingers on the union’s most sensitive pressure point. This concern will only grow in magnitude as the populations of the Middle East and Africa grow at rates far exceeding the rest of the world. Climate change is creating more incentives for mass migration. Drought, wildfires, famines, water shortages, and diminishing amounts of arable land are becoming endemic problems in both Africa and the Middle East. Paired with political instability and weak governance, northward migration is set to become not just an annual event, but a constant and growing pressure to the unity and future of the European Union. If Russia and Turkey have effective or shared control in Libya, there is no doubt that they will use this fact-- and use Libya-- to threaten and undermine the European Union. This need not be the case.

Libya’s political crisis stems from the absence of a social contract that can unify the country, equally distribute resources, and provide a model of governance that transcends the provincial needs and caters to a national constituency. Libyan unity, and the resolution of Libya’s crisis, is very much a European interest. To date, efforts to provide Libya with a constitution that can provide it with a social contract have been postponed. This postpones the reconstruction of a unified Libyan state, capable of enacting its own policy and partnering with the EU on key issues such as migration. The EU must urgently support efforts to draft a Libyan constitution that supports this outcome. This does not require a military or political intervention but playing to Europe’s natural aptitude for all things legal.

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Ideas already abound for Libya’s future constitution may already look. Brussels should be a forum for discussing them, and its legal talents should devote time and attention to working out a constitutional solution that can solve Libya’s problems. By ensuring that Libya can remain unified and independent of the burden of foreign pressure, Europe would be acting in the long-term interest of its unity and independence. As the only actor for which the independence and unity of Libya is truly tied to its own, it has a responsibility and an enormous incentive to act.

Jay Mens is executive director of the Middle East and North Africa Forum, a think tank based at the University of Cambridge, and a research analyst for Greenmantle, a macroeconomic advisory firm.

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Zambia: Should EU be wary about anti-corruption campaign?

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The EU-backed anti-corruption campaign currently underway in Zambia is at risk of veering towards a political purge, according to a new report published this week, a development that may undermine international goodwill towards President Hakainde Hichilema and increase business risk for foreign investors.

The election of Hichilema as president of Zambia in August was heralded in the political capitals of the world like no other African poll result in living memory. Hichilema, known as ‘HH’, came to power against the odds, backed by a groundswell of support from a youthful population tired of life under the regime of Edgar Lungu. The EU’s Election Observation Mission (EOM) even acknowledged the efforts to stymie HH’s campaign and his United Party for National Development (UPND), noting “unequal campaign conditions, restrictions on freedoms of assembly and movement, and abuse of incumbency”.

Brussels, like Washington, London and Paris, welcomed HH’s election and rightly supported the mandate he had secured for his policy platform, which centred around a strong but fair anti-corruption campaign. HH was hailed as the reforming force that could break decades of under-development and drive Zambia’s economic revival, with Ursula van der Leyen emphasising the EU’s intent to “collaborate to drive forward the proposed governance and economic reforms prioritised in your overall programme for the future development of Zambia”.

Now, 100 days after his election, a new report from risk consultancy Pangea-Risk has assessed how Hichilema is performing. And, while praise for his efforts and intent are clear, the realities of the country’s situation appear to be putting the objectivity of the anti-corruption campaign under threat.

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According to analysis of recent data, the report assesses that economic reforms are stalled and the government’s ability to drive meaningful change has been constrained by the conditions of a looming IMF programme. Zambia’s heavily indebted economy has struggled in recent years, and in November 2020 it became the first country to default on its debts during the pandemic, leading to fears of a ‘debt tsunami’ that could wipe out economic growth across Africa. This leaves HH with little room to manoeuvre in implementing his policy platform, and increases the risk of short term action that undermine his broader agenda.

At the same time, impatient and powerful political and business backers of the new government are increasing pressure to secure lucrative economic stakes in the mining and agricultural sectors, including fertiliser contracts, that risk uprooting the government’s pro-investor credentials. One of these backers, Maurice Jangulo – whose wife is a minister in the UPND government – has recently secured a single-source private contract worth $50 million to supply fertiliser to UPND heartlands in Zambia’s fertile southern regions amidst a crackdown on the sector.

Awards like these revive rumours that Hichilema’s campaign is targeting political rivals while also rewarding some of his own political and business backers. Crucially, such political infighting presents a distraction from the urgent need to ensure delivery of fertiliser to small-scale farmers, thereby presenting a risk of damaging the wider economy and ultimately Zambia’s ability to attract further foreign investment.

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According to the report, Hichilema is now torn between pushing ahead with his reformist legacy or giving way to some of his loyalists’ intentions to resume looting of state assets.

The EU itself will feel the impact of this. Only last week, the €26 million EU-funded Enterprise Zambia Challenge Fund (EZCF) awarded millions of euros of grants to ten companies operating in the agriculture sector. Last month, a new €30 million initiative was launched by the EU, European Investment Bank (EIB) and Zambian governments to accelerate agricultural investment. With EU taxpayer’s cash now committed to Zambian farming and agro-processing, any revival of corruption will be seen as a waste of taxes. At the same time, EU-Zambia talks on enhancing development cooperation must now take into account the risk that established forces will hijack and exploit the anti-corruption campaign.

Robert Besseling, CEO of Pangea-Risk, said: “Expectations for the new Hichilema government remain high even now, three months after his election. However, the reality of the challenges facing Zambia has constrained his ability to act on key issues, including economic reform and his much-heralded anti-corruption drive.”

“Hichilema needs to ensure that his anti-graft efforts remain objective and do not take on the features of a political or tribal purge, otherwise he will lose the goodwill that his reforming message has earned from both domestic and international observers.”

This should be a warning sign to observers and investors from the EU and elsewhere that, without assistance, Hichilema may fall victim to the traditional, establishment forces that have held Zambia back for so long. This will result in a return to graft, endemic in previous administrations, and mean that Zambia fails to benefit from the best opportunity it has had in years to reform.

Hichilema still retains a strong standing both internationally and domestically, with a clear mandate to clean up the Zambian economy. To enact the change he speaks of, and restore confidence at home and abroad, HH must not allow his anti-corruption campaign to fall victim to the very forces he is seeking to defeat.

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Business unity in Africa: Supporting the Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit

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Business supports the Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit – and lends its voice to profit with purpose movement. Across the world, the Shared Value community continues to grow as more companies become aware of the importance of not just purpose but how an organisation is able to deliver on its purpose through Shared Value.

For nearly two years, we have not only seen and felt the effects of pandemic but also the demonstration by purpose-driven companies when they chose to respond and support the communities in which they operate.


The Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit is one such advocacy platform. In its fifth year this year, the Summit delivers on the core mandate of the Shared Value Africa Initiative – advocacy.

In the past five years of implementing this pan-African gathering, the SVAI, alongside its implementing partner Shift Impact Africa, has led a movement across the continent – premiering thought leadership engagements on issues relating to social impact and responsible business, while also entrenching key principles of how business can align its profit with purpose.


This year, the Summit returns to Johannesburg – a hybrid event that will build on the record-breaking outcomes of the 2020 Summit. In a world forever changed by COVID-19, business influencers will be gathering online and at the live event to break down what economic growth and continental unity could look like for Africa.

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Leading the charge and demonstrating their commitment to social and economic environmental impact are the Members of the SVAI, who have come on board as sponsors – Absa, Old Mutual Limited, Enel Green Power, Abbott and Safaricom.

All these organisations, in addition to being members of the SVAI are long-time advocates of Shared Value across not just Africa but also the rest of the world. What more suitable voices to participate in the Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit and be among the esteemed speakers on the leadership sessions taking place on the 8th and 9th of November.

 
This year is also 10 years since Shared Value Business Management concept was developed by professors Michael Porter and Mark Kramer at Harvard Business School - a move that garnered global support and showed that this is one of the most powerful and sustainable ways to affect change globally. In Africa, business support for the Summit has been evident for the past 5 years, demonstrating an increase in awareness and participation in profit with purpose by business across the continent.

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“As we approach COP26, it is imperative that we propel the discussions around the importance of the delivery of the Paris Agreement goals, specifically around a just transition in Africa. It is important that we recognize the impact of climate change, and whilst felt globally, the solutions required in Africa will be different as we are beset by many socio-economic challenges that are not necessarily experienced by the global west. The importance of strengthening capacity and building the body of knowledge required for African countries to tackle climate change in poverty ridden, food insecure economies is an imperative,” says Sazini Mojapelo, Managing Executive: Absa Corporate Citizenship and Community Investments.

“Business can no longer be a passive observer. Its sustainability and growth – indeed, its long-term survival – depends upon its ability to make the strategic shift. To think and work differently. To embrace profit with purpose,” said Tabby Tsengiwe, GM: Public Affairs & Communication, Old Mutual Limited.


This year, the Summit, in reflecting the times we live in, focuses on: Economic Growth and the AfCFTA; The Agile African Entrepreneur; Gender Equality and Inclusion; and The SDGs and Building Back Better.

Across the continent, if not the world, these are themes that have existed for some time but perhaps were made more urgent by pandemic and other environmental issues that affected the global community.

Said Bill Price, Country Manager of Enel Green Power South Africa: “Enel Green Power is a proud member of the Shared Value community not only in Africa, but globally too. With 2021 being the celebration of 10 years since the Shared Value Business Management concept was developed, it seems no time like the present for us to be among the voices participating and supporting the Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit. As a sustainability-driven organisation, we believe strongly in the power of the collective in not only growing strong organisations but also contributing to the sustainable progress of society as well.”

For more information and to register for the Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit, please visit the website at www.africasharedvaluesummit.com.

About Shared Value Africa Initiative: The Shared Value Africa Initiative (SVAI), is a pan-African organisation with the mandate to advocate for the adoption of the Shared Value Business Management on the Africa continent.  The SVAI is the regional partner of the global Shared Value Initiative created by economists Professors Michael Porter and Mark Kramer of the Harvard Business School. The SVAI’s objective is to create ecosystem and orchestrate, convene, motivate, create collaborative private sector relationships that as a collective when working together can bring about change at scale.


About Shift Impact Africa: Shift Impact Africa, the organisers of the e-Summit, is a Shared Value advisory, training and consulting firm assisting businesses to find the Shared Value strategy that works for them. Frequently, companies are not sure how to move from purely profit-focused to demonstrating their responsibility towards their environment and society. Shift Impact Africa assists clients to identify social challenges relevant to the business and help to implement the Shared Value Business Management strategy focussing on sustainability m social and environmental impact.

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France’s private sector taking the lead on engaging with Africa

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Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron (pictured) invited over 3,000 influential representatives of African civil society, from intellectuals to businesspeople, to attend the ‘New Africa-France Summit’ in Montpellier. In a bid to curry favour with younger generations by “reinventing” France’s relationship with African countries, no African heads of state were invited to the meeting and the average age of attendees was between 30 and 35. This tactic failed to win over everyone, though, as in the aftermath of the event, Senegalese novelist Boubacar Boris Diop criticized the lack of “concrete signs of his will for change on the ground", writes Louis Auge.

But while Macron’s newly rebooted summit received a mixed reception, French businesses are enjoying greater success on the continent. Projects spearheaded by companies such as Ellipse Projects, Bolloré, Renault and Peugeot are reaping rewards for African countries from Senegal to Morocco.

Ellipse Projects constructs four turnkey hospitals in Senegal

Many French companies, such as the infrastructure company Ellipse Projects, have been operating on the African continent for some years. In 2017, the Republic of Senegal selected Ellipse Projects for a €150 million project to build four turnkey hospitals in the cities of Touba, Kaffrine, Sédhiou and Kédougou with a total capacity of 750 beds. Ellipse Projects carried out the execution of studies needed for the construction, the construction work itself for the four hospitals, furnished the medical and technical equipment necessary and trained personnel in their use.

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The 300-bed Touba hospital was inaugurated mid-September by Senegalese President Macky Sall, who described the construction as “a rapid, yet careful job... The very meaning of fast-track”. With coronavirus cases in the country finally falling, the new hospitals will be key to clearing the country’s medical backlog of non-urgent interventions.

The impending unveiling of the remaining hospital buildings will be followed by the inauguration of Ellipse Projects’ 250-billion-franc restoration of over 70 buildings belonging to Senegal’s Ministry of Justice including the headquarters of the Chancellery, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Council and the National Centre for Judicial Records. The successes of these large-scale Senegalese projects come off the back of another triumph for the company, after their opening of a 120-bed regional hospital in Ghana’s Bekwai earlier this year.

Bolloré’s Ghanaian port reaps rewards

Ellipse Projects is one of over 70 French companies working in the West African country of Ghana, including L’Oréal and Pernod Ricard, despite the fact that Ghana is not a Francophone country. However, the biggest recent investment into the country - and the largest port investment on the Atlantic coast of Africa - was made by Bolloré Transport & Logistics as part of a joint initiative with APM Terminals and the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority. The Paris-listed company has invested more than $500 million into the expansion of the pivotal port of Tema. Planned works include a 3.5-kilometre breakwater and 16-metre deep water berths for harbouring larger vessels. The project is set to quadruple the container capacity of the port which handles over 70% of the country’s container traffic.

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The ongoing project has already created over 20,000 direct and indirect jobs, of an estimated total of 450,000. Construction has begun the second phase after setbacks caused by Covid-19 but when completed, the partnership will further bolster the €200m generated in surplus trade between Ghana and France this year. Early estimates suggest the port extension will increase exports from Africa’s biggest gold producer and second-biggest cocoa grower in Africa by no less than 17% over approximately ten years.

Renault and Peugeot boosting car manufacturing in Morocco

In Morocco, too, French companies are helping to create a regional hub—but this time for the car industry. French manufacturers Renault and Peugeot PSA have been instrumental in making the country the biggest car producer and exporter on the continent. With plants near Casablanca and Tangier, Renault has become the largest manufacturer in the country and counts Morocco among its top five industrial countries. The company sources up to 60% of the content of the cars from 200 local suppliers. In July this year, Renault signed an agreement to buy over $3.5 billion in Moroccan cars and parts, from steering wheels to seat covers.

Peugeot, meanwhile, opened a $630m factory in Kenitra in 2019, thereby increasing capacity to 200,000 vehicles by year-end. The new facility is focused on producing engines and vehicles for the African and Middle Eastern markets. By 2022, the company hopes to have increased purchases of local car parts to €1 billion. Together the two French companies produce over 700,000 cars per year and employ 180,000 people. Under their watch, car exports from Morocco rose by 25% to $5.76bn over the first eight months of 2021, after a pandemic-related dip the year before. This French FDI is shoring up the country through the strong headwinds caused by the global economic crisis.

A leaf out of the business manual for Macron

The mounting numbers of major investments by France’s private sector are having a very real impact on the African continent, whether by increasing hospital bed spaces, improving port services or boosting car manufacturing capacity. As Ellipse Projects CEO Olivier Picard explained, these “projects are appreciated by the populations since they respond to specific needs.”

While France’s President pledged €30m over three years to an independent ‘Innovation Fund for Democracy in Africa’ during last week’s summit, this financial mechanism will focus primarily on governance and democracy, rather than economic changes that would be more tangible Africa’s youth. Macron could do worse than look to the impactful African ventures of France’s home-grown businesses.

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