12 THOUGHT LEADERS Friday, April 6 2018 | NEW ERA China’s Heavy Hand in Africa … Is China’s “charm offensive” losing its charm and becoming just offensive? he revelation that a foreign nation is actively spying on a government building is usually a big deal. Yet in January 2018 when a Le Monde investigation exposed that the Chinese-financed and constructed African Union building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia had been bugged by Beijing, the outcry was muted. Microphones were found hidden in desks and walls, and data from the AU computer network was transferred back to Shanghai servers nightly for over five years, since the building’s opening in 2012. But no international scandal ensued—there were no highlevel accusations or condemnations, no threats or denunciations from AU leaders or African officials. Instead, the Chinese government swiftly and adamantly denied the allegations, and African leaders stood by them. During a recent visit to Beijing in a joint statement with China’s Foreign Minister, the Chairman of the AU Commission dismissed the report as “totally false.” Despite this show of solidarity, however, there are currents swelling inside of Africa that suggest that Chinese influence on the continent may be starting to encounter resistance. Over the last three decades, Beijing has made significant inroads on the continent, emerging as a major (and growing) source of “unconditional” aid and investment, supplanting the United States as Africa’s largest trading partner in 2009, establishing its first overseas military base in Djibouti in 2017, funding infrastructure projects in numerous countries, and establishing extensive educational and cultural exchange programs. Meanwhile, Africa seems to have fallen off the face of the United States’ foreign policy agenda. The Obama administration’s ambitious initiatives to improve governance, increase access to electricity, and build economic capacities on the continent took a backseat to the Asia Rebalance and quelling unrest in the Middle East. At present, President Donald J. Trump has offered no coherent Africa policy, wants to ban citizens from three African countries from entering the United States, and recently referred to African nations as “shithole countries.” Many analysts have argued that this evolving dynamic will naturally push African countries closer to Beijing. So why then are perceptions of China growing progressively negative in some African states? In Kenya, home of the billion Beijing-built Standard Gauge Railroad and myriad other Chinese-funded projects, China’s popularity rating has dipped dramatically in recent years. In 2013, the percentage of Kenyans that had a “favorable” view of China was 78 percent. In 2016, that number had decreased to 57 percent, and in 2017 it slipped further to 54 percent. In Ghana, positive perceptions of China tumbled from 80 percent in 2015 to 49 percent in 2017. Similar declines have also occurred in Egypt, Senegal, and Tanzania. There are a number of potential reasons for the negative perceptions: low-price, low-quality Chinese goods flooding African markets, illegal extraction practices, accusations of corrupt African officials taking Chinese money, the Chinese import of labor and materials for infrastructure projects across the continent, the outsourcing of pollution to African countries, or perhaps the realization that China’s “altruism” may Viola Rothschild mean crippling future debt. Granted, on average African countries still have some of the highest approval ratings of China globally, but in many countries at least, it appears that hard-won goodwill is eroding quickly. Despite opportunity, will, and means, Beijing’s efforts are often stymied by its own heavy-handed policies: aggressive and clumsily-executed campaigns are turning Africans off to Chinese leadership. Just in recent months, the China- Africa relationship has hit a few high-profile snags. Though the official response to the AU bugging revelation was muted, immediate actions were taken to strengthen the building’s cybersecurity and replace all microphones, servers, and other technologies installed by the Chinese. The AU also quietly declined an offer from the Chinese to help configure their new servers. African media and commentators were less forgiving however, opining that “nothing is really truly free,” and calling the move “an invisible security threat…of utmost concern” and an “act of soft diplomacy [that] proved to be a rather self-serving maneuver.” In February, Africans and people of African descent around the world were outraged by the racist and ugly portrayal of the Sino-African friendship during the Annual Spring Festival Gala, broadcast to 800 million viewers. In an ill-conceived skit, an “African woman” (actually a Chinese woman in blackface with grotesquely enlarged buttocks balancing a fruit basket on her head) was trotted out onto a safari-themed set leading a monkey (played by an African actor) to repeatedly proclaim, “I love Chinese people! I love China!” In a WeChat group of African students and entrepreneurs living in China that I am part of, the prevailing sentiments were anger, followed by growing impatience and disbelief “How could they let this happen? They want to show off the Sino-African relationship, and this is what they come up with??” Another member of the group commented that no matter how many stadiums are built and exchange programs are organized, the Chinese “just don’t get it.” Notably, this portrayal of the clean-cut, sophisticated Han Chinese bringing civilization to the backwards natives, grateful for Beijing’s assistance, is not new. In fact, the skit utilized the same imagery that has been used for decades to represent China’s paternalistic relationship with ethnic minorities within its own borders. For a country that seeks to present itself as global leader in a new era, in some respects, it appears as though little progress has been made. Indeed, depicting Africans as a homogenous group of colorful tribesmen grateful for Chinese handouts doesn’t play well in the post-Black Panther era of ascendant Afrofuturism, cultural pride, and self-determination. In the wake of these incidents, the Chinese government failed to take any responsibility. Instead, authorities stifled discussions on the web and attacked those who raised it, labeling them as conspirators seeking to sabotage the China-Africa friendship. Adhering to tried and true—if transparent—tactics of deflection and re-assigning blame, in response to the New Year’s skit, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson remarked: “Recently many media, especially Western media, have reported on and commented on this matter…I want to say that if there are people who want to seize on an incident to exaggerate matters, and sow discord in China’s relations with African countries, this is a doomed futile effort.” Lashing out and refusing to recognize hardwired cultural biases and engage in constructive discourse is not how the continent’s “most reliable and firm strategic partner” should conduct itself. The current political climate has gifted China with an unprecedented opportunity to assume a greater role on the world stage. But for a country that is hyper image-conscious, Chinese leaders can also be shockingly obtuse. Pouring money into top-down soft power campaigns is one thing, but if China wants to prove to Africa—and the world—that it is ready and able to lead, Beijing needs to develop a savvier diplomatic touch becoming of an empathetic and responsible world power. - Council on Foreign Relations * Viola Rothschild is a research associate in Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Stimulate employment through entrepreneurship development Entrepreneurship development is a known counter strategy to the growing problem of unemployment in any developing society, and this holds particularly true for Namibia. As can be seen, there is saturation in the formal sector to accommodate the labour force. Entreprenuership will therefore remain the only viable avenue out of poverty for many Namibians. According to National Statistics Agency of Namibia (NSA), broad unemployment stands at 34%, with youth unemployment estimated at 37%. The Namibian labour force survey of 2016 found 246 262 youth are jobless in Namibia. In the light of the on-going economic reforms, the informal sector has thus become a very important source of employment. It continues to absorb most of the job losses in the formal sector. Therefore, the significance of the informal sector in the short to medium term is bound to grow rather than diminish. But there also numerous obstacles facing the informal sector which need urgent attention. Given the gravity of the economic situation facing Namibia and the labour force trends, it is evident that we have to change our thinking on the issue of employment. Employment in Namibia can no longer be thought of as denoting employer – employee relationship. The definition is inadequate in view of the significant numbers of people working in the informal sector. Employment today is a process of generating wealth, provision of services and creation of wealth. It is the capability of people to exercise their economic citizenship. If we understand employment in this broader sense we can readily see that it is a problem Namibia suffers from is that of insufficient Entrepreneurship. Entreprenuership is that spirit which motivates people to seize opportunities to create wealth. It is a skill that can be acquired and accumulated. In Namibia today, Entreprenuership must become the basis of employment. Entreprenuership or the spirit of enterprise is in line with the government economic policy which is designed to disengage the State from directly participating in the economy. The government’s aim is to create an enabling environment in which the people themselves are the main actors in the economic arena as owners and operators of enterprises. The potential of Entreprenuership as a source of livelihood for workers has now come to be widely appreciated. In the informal sector, Entreprenuership has been recognised to possess many advantages over large scale enterprises in the formal sector. It does not require huge amount of Start-up capital. It is mainly based Jan Scholtz on the use of local raw materials and technologies. It is labour intensive and does not demand highly specialised skills. More importantly in the current economic situation, it is less dependent in the vagaries of the international economic system. The above characteristics of informal sector Entreprenuership makes it a natural solution to Namibia’s unemployment current problem. Nevertheless, Entreprenuership development in Namibia is still faced with plethora of problems. The informal sectors suffer from problems such as lack of venue/ base from which they can operate. Many budding entrepreneurs lack vocational and technical skills. Access to bank credit is difficult due to high requirements set by the Banks. In general, Entreprenuership development has lacking institutional support from stakeholders. Firstly, the ambiguous attitude to the informal sector has tended to retard the growth of Entreprenuership. To in encourage Entreprenuership development in Namibia, it is important therefore to put in place a number of supportive measures. This would include sound training programmes. Most of the training programs must prepare them for employment. Government ministries, such as Youth, Gender, Education, Labour and Science & Technology should work together to come up with training programs or upgrade present programs which prepare young people for self-employment. Secondly, counselling centres should be created to increase the awareness of prospective entrepreneurs, particularly young people, of available self-employment opportunities. Thirdly, youth and women’s accessibility to land should be made available and improved. For Entreprenuership to grow there is a need for land where young people can operate from without fear. Fourth, Entreprenuership development programs should be expanded to impart business skills to people wishing to work for themselves. In this regard courses must be designed in such a way that they can take advantage of sectors with the highest growth prospects. Fifth, one of the major handicaps facing small entrepreneurs is lack of credit. At the moment, credit offered by commercial banks is very expensive in terms of interest rates for repayment. There must be an encouragement of the establishments of credit associations which would offer loans at affordable rate. A number of such facilities are already in place, but their scale of operations is still insignificant relative to demand Sixth and most critically, entrepreneurs should strive to be innovative. They should ensure they are aware of present trends so as to stand out in the crowd. Many aspiring youth recycle old ideas, copying their immediate neighbours’ activities instead of discovering new ones. This causes saturation, which prevents the business from growing and reduces investment appetite from would-be financiers. In conclusion, there should be a concerted effort from both government and aspiring entrepreneurs to accelerate the growth of entrepreneurship, so as to ensure the attainment of National Development goals and the eradication of poverty. *Jan Scholtz is chairperson of the //Kharas Regional Council and councillor of !Nami-#Nus Constituency.
NEW ERA Analysts forecast one last interest rate cut before 2019 Page 14 SA craft beer start-up raises more than N million through crowdfunding Page 15 INSIDE BUSINESS This news is your business Imperial Logistics buys majority stake in Namibia’s CB Enterprises Staff Reporter Windhoek Ready to rumble… South Africa’s Imperial Logistics has acquired a 70 percent stake in Namibian sales, warehousing and distribution business, CB Enterprises. This transaction, through group company CIC Namibia, is in line with the organisation’s strategy to grow its African CPG and pharmaceutical distribution interests and capabilities, stated Imperial Cobus Rossouw in a statement issued yesterday. The statement did not give the value of the transaction. Established in 1992, CB Enterprises is still owned by its original founder. The company started as a small agency representing South African manufacturers. Today, it has an annual turnover of N0 million and a staff complement of 107 people. It owns premises trucks and delivery vehicles. The statement said the acquisition of CB Enterprises supports Imperial Logistics’ aim to maintain its position as the country’s leading provider of route-to-market solutions for multinational and local CPG manufacturers. “The acquisition of CB Enterprises provides us with a number of advantages and opportunities for organic growth, including access to the company’s client base and routes to market in the pharmaceutical sector,” said Rossouw. “Our intention is to offer the deepest penetration of all possible sales channels, including a high quality retail and wholesale solution for pharmaceutical products. This acquisition will help us to achieve that,” Rossouw expanded. He noted that CB Enterprises’ clients include leading principals Imperial Logistics chief strategy in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and personal care space. “This differentiator, combined cy in the forecourts and pharmacies channels, will complement our capabilities, and contribute to the development of a resilient, - Rossouw stressed that both omies of scale and synergies in outbound transport and back of- services. “The additional volumes provided by Imperial Logistics will enable CB Enterprises to offer more frequent deliveries to retail, making its service offering more relevant. The logistics overhead will be reduced by around 2 percent, which will increase net margins. “CB Enterprises’ introduction to Imperial Logistics’ sales methodologies will increase the top line even further, and the company will gain the advantage of access to CIC Namibia’s cash sales network,” he explained. Imperial Logistics has agency agreements with local and blue chip international manufacturers. The company provides full routeto-market solutions for its clients; leveraging a countrywide warehousing and distribution network that encompasses eight strategically located facilities. “The addition of CB Enterprises’ strong client portfolio, which includes several market leading brands, will enable us to build an exceptional entity within the Namibian market,” Rossouw said. LONDON World stocks bounce back as trade fears ease Global stocks railed higher yesterday, as investors judged recent trade war fears were overblown, dealers said. In Europe, the French and German stock markets battled higher with 1.8-percent gains, while London rose 1.2 percent. Tokyo led the gainers in Asia, climbing a solid 1.5 percent as the more positive market sentiment reduced demand for the haven yen, pushing the currency down. Hong Kong and Shanghai were closed for holidays. “Investors are expressing found before a full-blown trade war erupts,” said Craig Erlam, senior However, he also sounded a note of caution over the lingering market concerns. “The reality is that a trade war remains a real possibility,” warned Erlam. “US President Donald Trump is looking to pick a to win, and China is willing to go toe to toe with the United States – even The more bullish outlook for stocks came on the heels of another see-saw session on Wall Street that saw equities rally impressively into the close. Traders have been spooked by tit-for-tat accusations and measures between China and the United States that some fear could lead to a full-blown trade war between the world’s top two economies. China unveiled plans Wednesday to hit major US exports in retaliation for US tariff plans detailed the day before. “It’s hard to see how anyone wins in this but investors currently, despite the declines we’ve seen, solution will be found before a full blown trade war erupts,” said Erlam. The Dow whipsawed nearly 800 points between its session low and with a gain of one percent. Analysts said the catalyst for the turnaround was comments by recently appointed White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow, who suggested Trump’s strident approach to China was a negotiating tactic to win concessions. “I understand the stock market anxiety. I get that,” Kudlow told Fox Business. “I think at the end of this whole process, the end of the rainbow, there’s a pot of gold.” – Nampa/AFP