August 17, 2018

Opportunities and Issues in Africa

Reuters/Scanpix

Not much news from Africa manages to reach Estonia. The continent has not enjoyed the rapid growth of, for example, East Asia, and yet since regaining its independence Estonia has increasingly forged new connections and ties with the land of the Sahara, which this August’s issue of Diplomaatia will explore.

The specialist diplomat Indrek Elling writes about the Sahel. While he admits that Estonia’s military mission to Mali has brought us good relations with France, Elling cannot get past the region’s problems. “An average Nigerian woman gives birth to seven children; in Mali and Burkina Faso the number is six. Simultaneously, these countries have some of the highest rates of infant, child and maternal mortality in the world. If there is a part of the world that treats women like baby-making machines, then sadly the Sahel would be it,” says Elling.

Consultant Karin Kaup-Lapõnin looks at the implementation of the e-state in Africa, which Estonia could contribute to. “According to a rough estimate, Estonia’s IT sector could earn billions from the African market in the next ten years,” she says.

Diplomat Daniel Schaer investigates how Africa’s new free trade agreement influences business in the continent. The article gives an overview of the recognised regional economic communities of the African Union, as well as other factors that might influence the entry into force of the new agreement.

Member of the Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu) Eerik-Niiles Kross reports on South Africa.

Africanist and University of Tartu lecturer Karin Veski writes about Estonians’ first historical contacts with Africa. “As far as we know, the first person from Estonia to visit West Africa was the University of Tartu-educated Johan Philipp von Krusenstierna (1626–94), who in 1656–8 held the position of commander of a Swedish Africa Company fort in Cabo Corso on the Gulf of Guinea in the Swedish Gold Coast (Ghana),” says Veski.

Marianne Mikko describes long-suffering Rwanda. “While the patriarchal Rwanda of the 19th century had only one important woman—Umugabekazi or the King’s mother—and the pre-genocide Rwanda had the saying ‘Behind every strong man there is a strong woman’ (ukurusha umugore, akurusha n’urugo), in the Republic of Rwanda of 2018 women participate in governing the country as men’s equals,” she writes.

Analyst Sergey Sukhankin outlines the activity of private Russian militia organisations in Africa. The functioning of such units on the continent sheds some light on the overall model of cooperation Russia uses with selected African countries: in return for protecting a local dictator and training his armed forces, Russia receives concessions for mineral extraction and other projects in various areas, says Sukhankin.

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