Yep! The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), is right that `Libya has been beset by chaos since the North American Treaty Organization or Alliance (NATO)-backed forces overthrew long-serving ruler Col Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011.’ To make the underlying message clear NATO members are Europe and North America
The BBC rightly drives its point home stating that: `The oil-rich country, a key departure points for some of the thousands of migrants travelling to Europe, once had one of the highest standards of living in Africa, with free healthcare and free education. But the stability that led to its prosperity has been shattered and the capital, Tripoli, is now the scene of fighting between rival forces as negotiations to build a post-Gaddafi Libya stall.’
To put it clearly without the mumbo jumbo, with the murder of Gaddafi, and the presence of oil, there are vultures hovering, with a vigorous scramble for Libya’s resources including arms suppliers falling over themselves to profit from supplying arms to fuel the conflict.
To find a solution to the mayhem and greed-fest, there have been series of conferences since December 2019 in Berlin attended by over 27 European countries to find a solution, yeah right, I call it `to divide the `spoils’ amicably.
According to the BBC `the logic of excluding the Libyans, stemmed from the reality that the external actors are the ones providing the sophisticated weaponry and drones, mercenaries, and troops that allow each Libyan side to believe it might just overwhelm the other side militarily, obviating the need for hard political compromise.’
To think NATO killed Gaddafi for this?
One of Obama’s decent act upon the end of his presidency in an interview published in April 2016, is his admission that the "worst mistake" of his presidency was the failure to prepare for the aftermath of Gaddafi's overthrow.
He partly blamed then-UK Prime Minister David Cameron for "the mess", saying he had not done enough to support the North African nation.’
We hear the argument that the Libya’s crisis involves the Arab, international and African world so transcends the AU mandate, but there was no confusion of where Libya belonged under Gaddafi while he was alive.
Meetings to resolve Libya’s crisis is taking place in Europe’s Berlin, but the AU should be hosting these processes and should not be one of the participants. Imagine the African Union participating in the EU process of the United Kingdom’s Brexit, because some countries had historical and present items with the UK. So where is the African Union?
For years Egypt controlled the River Nile, but now Ethiopia and Sudan want a piece of the action, and Egypt is having a problem with that.
According to Addisu Lashitew; in the article `Why Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan should ditch a rushed, Washington-brokered Nile Treaty’ published Tuesday, February 2020, “Until the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been a point of contention among Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan in recent years. The GERD is now 70 percent complete, and its reservoir expected to start being filled in the rainy season of 2020.”
But the three countries are yet to come to an agreement on the process of filling and operating it despite years of negotiations.
As Addisu Lashitew; notes further notes in Bloomberg, “These tensions are not new; The Nile has been a cause of antagonism between Ethiopia and Egypt for centuries. The Blue Nile, which flows from the Ethiopian highlands, contributes to more than half of the annual flow of the Nile (the remaining coming from the White Nile, which flows from Lake Victoria, and Atbara/Tekeze, which also flows from Ethiopia). The rich sedimentation that is carried by the seasonal flow of the Blue Nile has been the mainstay of Egyptian agriculture for millennia. Since the times of the pharaohs, therefore, Egyptians have been wary of an upstream dam that would strangle the flow of the Nile.”
In recognition of the Nile to the Egyptian economy, Lashitew concludes that modern Egypt has “used legal, political, and military means to protect its access to the flow of the Nile, the only source of fresh water for its almost 100 million inhabitants.”
Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have held a series of meetings since December 2019 in Washington, D.C, the latest of which came to an end without an agreement on February 13. There are plans to hold further meetings in the quest for a resolution. But whatever the outcome, the resounding sound in the process is the absence of the African Union. Really, where is the African Union?
In 2020, 14 of the 21 countries appealing for humanitarian aid are from Africa. More African countries are resorting to humanitarian appeals to the Europe and North America to address protracted conflict, IDP and food security challenges.
Africans and friends of Africa are looking forward to the establishment of the African Union Humanitarian Agency which should present a more dignified way to address Africa’s humanitarian needs without the people of the continent being auctioned, paraded and humiliated in the West. We are waiting in anticipation and hoping it would be talk supported by action.
The African Union was founded “to defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States. To accelerate the political and social-economic integration of the continent. To promote and defend African common positions on issues of interest to the continent and its people.’’
As at September 2018, there were 55 African countries that are members of the AU. Amongst these are Libya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt and the 14 African countries appealing for humanitarian aid in 2020. These countries are the African Union’s business we expect to see the AU leading in regional or global issues related to these countries and between these countries. And we expect these events to be hosted in the continent with the AU on the driving seat.
In 2020 the African Union launched a campaign to silence the guns in Africa. The AU's campaign on “Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020” aims to achieve `a conflict-free Africa, prevent genocide, make peace a reality for all and rid the continent of wars, violent conflicts, human rights violations, and humanitarian disasters.’
Silencing the guns in Africa means stopping the flow of guns into the continent. The folks deciding the fate of Libya in Berlin represent some of the suppliers of arms to Libya. If the African Union is serious about silencing the guns, it needs to host and lead related ceasefire negotiations about Africa, for Africa, on Africa, in Africa.
Africa’s Economic Outlook and Credit Rating Should Not Be Judged by Western-Interest Driven Agencies
On January 26, African-American rapper and entrepreneur, Mr. Sean John Combs, known by the stage names of Puff Daddy and P. Diddy, at the American Grammy Awards spoke up on discrimination against African American and African artistes. He says: `We must stop putting ourselves forward and allowing ourselves to be judged by institutions that do not have our best interest art heart.’
Very true, the institutions that have continuously rated Africa’s economies unfit for foreign investment have come from the West. Most from countries that have exploited Africa for centuries. It is not far-fetched to recognize that these institutions have ingrain subjective terms of reference for accessing Africa’s economies to ensure the continued dominance by the economies of their own countries in which they have vested interest.
More African countries are going to international financial markets to raise capital through sovereign bonds. To raise funds successfully, African governments need sovereign credit rating like a credit score which ‘dictate’ the interest rate at which a national government can borrow. These ratings are given by three international credit rating agencies all based in the West: Standard & Poor’s (S&P), Moody’s (located in the United States) and Fitch (located in the UK and United States),and are only accountable to the US, teh Uk and the EU countries.
There are no regulatory bodies or institutions in Africa that hold these three agencies accountable for what they say and do in Africa. So, in reference to P Diddy’s comments, it raises the question: `why does Africa submit itself to be judged by these Western-based and Western-interest driven agencies?’
The number of African countries seeking a sovereign credit rating has increased from one in 1994 to 31 in 2018. But the credit ratings for African countries have been so negative consequently sending the interest rates in the continent over the roof, and putting Western economies at an advantage. African governments are no longer having it and are calling out, rejecting and disputing these ‘subjective' ratings.
In 2015, the Zambian government urged investors to ignore unsolicited credit downgrade from the rating agencies. It challenged the correctness of its rating, which it said hadn’t been discussed with the country’s representatives. Two years later, in 2017, Namibia rejected Moody’s decision to downgrade the country’s credit rating to junk status. This rating was contrary Namibia’s stable economy.
The government of Nigeria in 2017 also strongly disagreed with its downgrading questioning both the general rating premises as well as the agency’s conclusions. In 2017, Nigeria’s economy had successfully emerged from a recession and recorded important improvements across a broad range of sectors. In 2018, Tanzania rejected Moody’s assigning of a low credit rating with a negative economic outlook to the country’s first international credit rating. The rating was done without consulting Tanzania. In June 2019 South Africa was downgraded from stable to negative or Junk status.
The three rating agencies have downgraded more countries in African than they have upgraded over the past 24 years. There have been 47 downgrades and 113 negative changes in outlooks; only nine positive changes have been recorded.
87% of African countries are rated “junk status”, only 19% in Western Europe, 27% in the Middle East, 38% in Central and Eastern Europe, 54% in Asia Pacific and 55% in Latin America and The Caribbean. The effect of this is that African countries must issue sovereign bonds at high discounts, and are subject to higher interest rates, which gives the United States and the EU unfair advantages in attracting foreign investment.
In fact, the three Western-based, funded and led rating agencies have only one small office in South Africa so often fly into for a day or two. Another issue with this discriminatory process is that outside the US and the European Union (EU), the agencies don’t subscribe to any international regime or governance body. This means that their misconduct remains largely unchecked. The international rating agencies have operated unregulated even though the need for them to be regulated is very apparent.
The only time the EU protested the Western-interest driven agencies was when Greece was rated negatively, so if it benefits Europe and North America then it is legitimate.
These bogus, unsubstantiated ratings, are deliberate ploys to undermine Africa’s competitiveness in the Global Economy, and to retain Western countries’ and economies’ competitive edge.
The credit rating methodologies consistently over-emphasize political risk in the rating criteria. Political components constitute approximately 50% of the composite rating. Other components such as financial and economic components each contribute to the remaining 50%. While the qualitative factors are judged purely based on the ideology of the credit analysts, their perception towards the political institutions in Africa is generally negative.
Negative economic outlooks are fed by narratives of disaster, crises and needs that fuels international appeals for aid. The narrative that drives humanitarian appeals for aid in Africa, feeds the rationalization and justification for poor and negative economic outlook and credit ratings in Africa. This is where Africans, must be careful with the narrative they accept and promote to rationalize and justify humanitarian assistance and funding.
In other words, the narrative that 14 countries submitted that will be used to justify and rationalize humanitarian aid appeals in 2020 will contribute to the negative economic outlook in the continent for at least the next 5 years. Announcing the need for humanitarian assistance from flood, drought, conflict etc., may justify humanitarian aid, and funding to some African countries, but it is at the expense of the economic outlook and rating for investments.
Negative economic outlook has compromised Africa’s competitiveness through high interest rates, but it does not stop Western countries from exploiting Africa. While legitimate investors are distracted by these negative ratings, it has not reduced rampant looting in resource rich African countries by Western firms.
It is time that African countries design a collective response mechanism to save the continent from rating abuse. What we need in Africa is a continental rating agency, possible to include other countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China that have also been discriminated against to give Western based economies an advantage.
There are no laws in Africa to hold the rating agencies’ operations on the continent to account. And there’s no central coordination of their activities within individual African countries. This is because no single institution is responsible for administering their regulations or managing them.
A solution would be for the African Union to establish a continental regulatory authority to govern the cross-border activities of international rating agencies, administer a prudential standard framework and evaluate the accuracy and fairness of ratings assigned to countries.