How will the Iran nuclear deal play out in East Africa?

I wish I had a clear sense of how this might develop but I don’t.  It seems to me that there may be several areas of impact over the next few years:

+Diplomatic leverage of Museveni, Kenyatta, Kigame et al vis-a-vis the United States will be reduced as one of the main US “asks”–UN votes to maintain nuclear-related sanctions against Iran–drops away.

+While I do not foresee the current US administration raising expectations for other US priorities from these East African leaders, the next US administration might feel some greater freedom to address “the democratic recession,” declining press freedom, and other issues on the formal US policy list.

+Oil prices:  if a lot more Iranian oil gets to market both in the near term from the immediate impact of lifting sanctions and the longer term from the increase in capacity associated with ramped up foreign investment, the prospects for oil production in Uganda and Kenya will be impacted, especially as related to the 2021-22 election cycle.

+Iran will reassume a stronger role in trade and finance in the region and thus compete more strongly with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.

+Iran will presumably increase its regional naval presence.

+The fall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya and subsequent sad state of affairs in that country reduced one major “petrocash” player in East African politics; an Iran less cash-strapped by UN sanctions might have aspirations to finance East African politicians aside from its espionage/security/terrorism enagement.

New Developments on Iran’s Geopolitcal Efforts in Africa–another challenge for democracy?

Uganda, Iran and the Security-Democracy Trade Space?

High Level  U.S. Delegation Carries Requests to Museveni on Fair Elections and Iran Sanctions

“Rival Somali forces send in more troops”–Somaliland and Puntland

Rival Somali forces send in more troops – Africa | IOL News | IOL.co.za.

Somaliland and Puntland are continuing to deploy more troops in the disputed border regions of Sool and Sanaag.  A peaceful, mutually accepted resolution of these disputes with the support of the local population would be a gamechange for the region which has seen these conflicts and tensions periodically escalate for years.

Oil and Security in Kenya (updated)

Ratio Magazine, “Kenya Oil Find:  Good News?”:

  • Turkana has just become a lot riskier: It is already a marginal, underdeveloped area with relatively high insecurity. If the recent clashes in Isiolo, underreported and often glossed over as inter-ethnic cattle rustling, are anything to go by, similar tensions may well surface in Turkana.
  • Kenya’s land titling and overall land management regime is notoriously corrupt and unreliable and also a perennial source of conflict. This will be worse in Turkana. The implementation of the new constitution with its transition from a central to a more devolved government on country level creates more uncertainty: Not all regulations and institutions have been fully set up. Throw oil, a marginal area and informal land rights into this and you have a potentially explosive situation.
  • Kenya’s political risk: The past few days, with the GEMA meeting putting the country on notice that peace and security may well depend on one individual, are just one of many reminders that the issues that pushed Kenya to the brink of a Cote d’Ivoire style scenario are far from being resolved. Oil tends to increase the premium on power. Thankfully, with production at least five to seven years off, this means that Kenya will have at least one, possibly two electoral cycles until oil revenues start flowing.

The latest from Petroleum Africa: “Africa Oil and Tullow Oil Hit More Kenyan Pay“:

Tullow’s exploration director Angus McCoss, said:”This ongoing wildcat is an excellent start to our exploration campaign. The net pay encountered so far in Ngamia-1 is more than double that encountered in any of our East African exploration wells to date. We now look forward to the drilling and evaluation of the deeper potential of this well and the acceleration of our seismic and drilling campaigns in the region.”

Kenya: Today’s Presidential Announcement of Tullow Oil Drilling Find in Turkana (several weeks ago) Coincides with News of Major Cabinet Shakeup

“Kenya Strikes Oil in Turkana”, Capital FM

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 26 – After years of prospecting, Kenya has finally made a breakthrough by striking oil in Turkana County in the north, with focus now shifting to exploring its commercial viability.

The discovery of the light, waxy oil was made in a half-way drilled Ngamia-1 exploration well, raising expectations that there could be huge reserves once the total depth of 2,700 metres is reached.

“The well has been drilled to an initial depth of 1,041 metres and it will continue to a total depth of about 2,700 metres to explore for deeper potential in this prospect,” Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi said at a press briefing.

President Mwai Kibaki was the first to break the news earlier in the day. . . . .

The Nation’s “Big Story” is on the Cabinet.

The reshuffle seems hugely consequential in Kenya’s election year politics:  it certainly appears that Kibaki has made a large gesture toward realigning the Cabinet toward the “G7 Alliance” which has lingered as both the primary political vehicle to advocate for Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto against the ICC and most visible successor to much of the PNU apparatus from 2007-08.

The most prominent moves as explained by “A Political Kenya 2012”:

Eugene Wamalwa – Minister for Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs
– Biggest winner as the docket will promote him to the senior most politician in Western province and probably check Musalia Mudavadi’s rising star
– He is an Ocampo 4 sympathiser
– Was once linked to president Kibaki’s son (Jimmy Kibaki) 2012 campaign as his prefered presidential candidate.
– Also seen as a compromise candidate for the G7 alliance
Mutula Kilonzo – Minister of Education
– Demotion from Minister for Justice Minister for Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs despite having delivered a new constitution which many previous justice ministers failed to do
– Punished for being an ardent Ocampo 4 Critic and for not toeing the ODM Kenya line

Also, Moses Wetangala has been demoted from Foreign Affairs to Trade (just after finally getting out of Bamako following the Malian coup).  This would seem to tie in to advancing Eugene Wamalwa as Luhya political leader in Western Province to the detriment of Deputy PM and announced ODM candidate Musalia Mudavidi.  On the ODM side, Najib Balala is the only Minister completely sacked, losing Tourism.  The Coast figure has been at odds with Raila Odinga for much of Kibaki’s second term in and openly expressed “seller’s remorse” for supporting Raila irrespective of his status as a member of the “Pentagon” from the 2007 campaign.

And no change in status for Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta as he continues to fight the prospect of facing ICC trial and to rally ethnic support in Central Province.

The political establishment in Kenya will not be easily moved in the 2012 elections, now most likely ending up to be in 2013 through a complicated series of legal wickets for which no one has claimed responsibility and for which there is no obvious popular support.  I hope it is finally dawning of any doubters that the Government of Kenya as an institution is quite mobilized on balance to try to stop the ICC, as it has been–and not in favor of any substitute local justice mechanism.

The political stakes continue to rise and the prospect of oil money on the near term horizon if anything raises them more.  If nothing else, there will be a lot of pressure to do oil deals for campaign funding.

(Updated 10-12) Ugandan Parliament Votes to Suspend Oil Deals on Corruption Charges

BBC News is reporting that the Ugandan parliament has asserted its independence by acting to freeze new oil agreements after bribery allegations are brought forward by an MP:

Uganda’s parliament has voted to suspend all new deals in the oil sector following claims that government ministers took multi-million dollar bribes.

MP Gerald Karuhanga said in parliament on Monday that UK-based Tullow Oil paid bribes to influence decisions.

Tullow said it rejected the “outrageous and wholly defamatory” allegations.

The vote is a big blow to President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, analysts say.

The BBC’s Joshua Mmali in the capital, Kampala, says it means the government will not be able to sign new oil deals until a petroleum law is enacted.

.  .  .  .

Update–from Wednesday’s Daily Monitor:

The British High Commission in Kampala yesterday said the country’s Metropolitan Police is at liberty to start investigations into allegations that Tullow, one of London’s 100 listed companies, paid bribes to senior Uganda government officials. “Bribery of foreign public officials is of course an offence under UK law, and it would therefore be for the British Police to decide whether to open an investigation into allegations made against a British company,” a spokesperson for the High Commission said in reply to our email enquiries.

UK’s 2010 Bribery Act imposes “strict liability” on UK corporations or business firms that fail to make “adequate processes” to prevent bribe payments. In yesterday’s statement, the High Commission said it was following the ongoing oil debate in Parliament “with interest”, but understand that “Tullow Oil totally rejects those allegations”.

The Company had by press time not replied to specific questions this newspaper raised based on allegations in Parliament that the firm between June 1 and July 16, 2010 paid out up to $100m (Shs280b) to “experts”, among them powerful ministers, for “professional services” from accounts with Bank of Valetta in Malta.

.  .  .  .

Somaliland Elections and Oil in Mississippi Sound

Best wishes to all in Somaliland on Saturday’s long awaited presidential election.

Oil from the BP blowout is now finally entering the Mississippi Sound for the first time, so we can now expect to be seeing here more of what has been happening in Louisiana, and to a lesser extent Alabama and Florida.

There are those who anxiously await an opportunity to drill off Somaliland.  Oil has been the basis for the economy in Louisiana but it has threatened the physical future of a large chunk of the state, as well as the social and cultural heritage, and the wildlife and environment.  Definitely a situation that demands good governance.  Perhaps in the age of globalization, people can learn from our mistakes.

“In Southern Sudan, for the money”

“In Southern Sudan for the Money”

JUBA, Sudan, April 9 (Reuters) by Ed Cropley – The only thing that’s cheap in southern Sudan is life.

One of the world’s poorest regions, where four out of five people are illiterate and one in five children fails to make it to their fifth birthday, the south’s economy has been turned on its head since the end of a 22-year civil war in 2005.

A flood of foreign aid workers and more than $2 billion a year in oil revenues under a peace deal with the central government in Khartoum has transformed the south into one of the most expensive corners of Africa.
. . . .

Nobody knows how many people live in the city, although some say its population has trebled in the last five years under the weight of tens of thousands Kenyans and Ugandans out to make a quick buck.

“Earning $100 is difficult in Kenya. Here it’s easy,” said Amos Njay, a Nairobi taxi driver hoping a year in Juba will set him up in a trucking business.

Africans are not the only ones with an eye on the cash.

Foreign aid workers, holed up behind barbed-wire fences and armed guards in semi-permanent tented camps on the banks of the Nile, boast of earning $10,000 a month tax-free and with all their living expenses taken care of.

“You know what they say: in places like this you only get missionaries, mercenaries and misfits. Me? Sure, I’m just here for the money,” said one U.S. aid contractor knocking back a cold beer in a bar on the banks of the Nile.

Other drinkers ranged from dapper pro-democracy activists from the U.S. International Republican Institute to former soldiers whose lives are spent treading in the heels of conflict across the globe, cleaning up mines and unexploded bombs.
. . . .

Recent Kenya Links

Government’s KBC: “Prime Minister Raila Odinga has directed internal security minister to order the arrest of police officers involved in the brutal murder of seven people in Kawangware last Thursday”, saying they must be arraigned in court by next Monday. Let’s see if it happens.

World Bank urges Kenya to focus on “quiet corruption”.

Sunday Nation story on Cold War CIA documents from the 1960s showing views of Oginga Odinga (Raila’s father) and Tom Mboya, Kenyatta’s circle and succession.

Recent macro level summary of the Kenyan power struggle from The Economist Intelligence Unit.

“Nairobi becomes East Africa’s tech heartbeat” from Njeri Wangair (KenyanPoet) on Global Voices.

Nick Wadhams on East African oil in Time.

First local Kenyan music download site using M-Pesa “mobile money”, PewaHewa.com–also takes credit cards.

The “Nairobi Curse”

This is Kenya’s version of “the oil curse” or “the resource curse”.

Nairobi is the place to be in Sub-Saharan Africa (and outside of South Africa) for international meetings and conferences.  It is a relatively comfortable place to live for middle class or wealthy Westerners, or young aid workers.  An international city with a certain level of cosmopolitanism, yet of manageable size and scope relative to so many burgeoning cities of the less developed “South”.  A headquarters for two UN agencies.  A diplomatic critical mass, with lots of representation from all sorts of countries around the world that have little obvious presence in Africa, but also a crossroads for representation of everyone playing for a major piece of the pie (Iran, Libya, China, India, the Gulf States–as well as obviously the US and Europe).  And you can go on business, and then take a safari on the side.

From the US, soldiers go to Djibouti (the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, at Camp Lemonier) while diplomats go to Nairobi.  The US runs its Somali diplomacy from the Embassy to Kenya rather than Djibouti which would be the more obvious place on paper.  Likewise, Somali politicians tend to live much of the time in Nairobi.   Nairobi is the place to invest cash generated in Somalia.

Nairobi is the “back office”, and in some cases the only office, for much of relatively huge amount of US aid-related effort for Southern Sudan, as well as that from other countries.

Nairobi has something like 8% of the Kenyan population, and perhaps 60% of the GDP (don’t let anyone tell you they know any of these figures too precisely).  Perhaps 50-60 percent of the population lives in informal settlements (“slums”) whereas the other half lives as “the other half”.  Most national level Kenyan politicians holding office live primarily in Nairobi (although they may have homes in a constituency they represent in Parliament as well).

When I was the East Africa Director, based in Nairobi, for IRI (where our much bigger Sudan program was also  headquartered) as an American I felt that my government at that time (2007-2008) was falling into the trap of recreating a Cold War paradigm for our international relations by looking around through our “War on Terrorism” telescope.  And that in Kenya there were a lot of international interests that valued stability over reforms for reasons that related more to the current role of Nairobi than the long term interests of Kenyan development.

Certainly Nairobi is a resource that has great value–as does oil, for instance–it’s just a question of whether Kenyans can find a way to use it to the broad advantage of the nation or whether it will continue to be exploited to disproportionately benefit the most powerful.  Including being used to help keep them in power when more Kenyans want democratic change.

Just this past week Kenya hosted an IGAD meeting on Sudan–and flouted its obligations as a party to the Rome Treaty on the ICC by inviting President Bashir of Sudan while under indictment.  Meanwhile the ICC is considering whether to allow formal  investigation of key Kenyan leaders for the post-election violence from 2007-08.  But Nairobi is such a great place to have these conferences . . . and Sudan is so important (Khartoum is no Nairobi, but it has oil).

Somaliland/Somalia, Moi, Uganda, Corruption, Deep South

*”Somaliland: The Invisible Country” from Virginia Quarterly Review via The Somaliland Times.

*Nick Wadhams on “a really stupid idea” for Somalia.

*Interesting to see Moi in Uganda campaigning for Museveni’s re-election. What’s the message? “We shouldn’t have to bother with this voting stuff, but turn out for your President and The Party”? Things do seem to be gearing up among Kenyan politicos for Uganda’s election. See this Op/Ed: “Only Moi, Mugabe Could Have Come for ‘NRM Day’“.

*Negative report eariler this month disclosing unfavorable terms for previously secret Ugandan oil contracts with Tullow has helped keep the ball in the air perhaps.

*”US-Uganda Arms May Be Aiding Al-Shabaab says NGO“. From the Daily Monitor: “TFG lacks the capacity to prevent the diversion of substantial quantities of its own weaponry and military equipment to other armed groups and to Somalia’s domestic arms markets”. Full Amnesty International report.

*On the corruption front, the US is seeking extradition of a UK lawyer for allegedly trying to induce a colleague to give false evidence in the prosecution of the case that led to the $579M fine against Halliburton for bribes to Nigerian officials. In the meantime, the UK Serious Fraud Office seems to be moving forward in matters involving BAE which could include the alleged Tanzanian bribery.

*From the Deep South: The Los Angeles Times covers two interesting assistance/development efforts in the Mississippi Delta and Lower Alabama.