By Balongoofu Daniel

The steady traction of the emergence of the BRICS in the contemporary global order reflects a potential shift of the global governance structure to a more economic led mechanism of cooperation through trade and the formulation of coordinated political positions on global issues to secure and under guard a collective path to economic development. The BRICS, a bloc that represents emerging economies; Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have gained much traction in the international arena due to their firm positions and structures of engagement specifically favorable for south-south relations, a structure that the global south has upheld to achieving economic development.

This year’s BRICS summit currently underway in south Africa is one of the most followed and widely anticipated political engagements globally due to the blocs’ spread popularity and attraction of interest from over 40 states including the UAE, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia among others.  The state of turbulence in global governance characterised with war, economic recession and post -pandemic recovery have made this 15th summit a much anticipated one on forging a way through for development. However, I find the bloc’s structure to development a more relevant reality to Africa and the global south as follows,

In this year’s summit’s special mug, a compilation by the south African government highlights the blocs’ special achievements, challenges and way forward in south Africa’s context thus far seeks to  highlight the beauty and advantages of the adopted strategy for BRICS economic partnership that looks forward to increasing access to each other’s markets, promote mutual trade and investments and creating a business friendly environment for investors in all BRICS countries. The authorities in south Africa further highlight that the most important part of this strategy is to diversify the trading of finished products as opposed to raw materials, a strategy that Uganda, Africa and the global south needs to broadly adopt in order to realize home production and control trade the same vein, south Africa notes that its exports share to the BRICS countries have recorded strong growth since 2016 and registered a 7.1% per annum on average reaching US 817.6 billion in 2022. The mug further highlights that the principal contributor to such growth was exports to china over the same period.

In light with the AFCTFTA, an economic initiative by the African union that seeks to achieve a liberalised African continental market and to address the challenges of Africa’s low level of participation in the global economy and world trade, the south African authorities highlighted the importance of merging markets and the building of more partnerships with the BRICS under such an initiative. This will not only unlock trade possibilities but also mutually beneficial opportunities for investment and infra structural development. This further underscores a much broader market and   more liberalism in trade and also promote self-reliance through encouraging industrialisation for production. It should be noted that BRICS brings together a 3.27 billion population of people that makes the question of market and diversity a more achievable reality necessary for production.

The relevancy of the New Development Bank (NDB) that the cooperation achieved through availing of funds for development seeks to solve the global south long unanswered question of funding. It should be noted that the bank has catalyses availability of funds for development that so far US$ 32.8 billion worth of developmental projects have been funded using this bank availed financial resources. So far, the funds have been invested in building and upgrading of 820 bridges, building and upgrading of 35000 housing units and the generation of 2800mw of renewable and clean energy. This therefore is a blessing and an alternative source of funding from the IMF and world bank that the global south has arguably criticised for politicising funding and unfair repay policies.

Balongoofu Daniel is a Junior Research Fellow at Sino-Uganda Research Centre


G7 Leaders’ Rhetorics a Threat to Pacifism and Global Peace

By Allawi Ssemanda

Over the weekend, we listened to leaders of Group of Seven (G7) countries who gathered in Hiroshima, Japan for this year’s G7 summit which started with promise of trying to address world’s challenges.

If we take a clear analysis of speeches of the leaders; from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, and Japan—plus the European Union, one can conclude that the summit veered off the original course – addressing global challenges and metamorphosized into a sort of anti-China grouping.

From press conferences to official communiqué, as the Atlantic Council analysis concluded; “make no mistake, it is all about China,” the U.S and “Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made the issue of combating China’s economic coercion a priority for Japan’s G7.”

While President Joe Biden told press that he supports the idea of having an “open hotline” with China, his rhetoric points at a president interested in maligning China with accusations of “China’s continued military expansion” and the so-called Beijing’s “economic coercion.” However, simple facts check points at the U.S being the leader when it comes to economic coercion especially influencing allies to follow Washington’s unilateral decisions.

While Biden claimed that Washington will not “decouple from China,” he told the same press that “with all the talk about China’s building its military, I’ve made it clear …I’m not prepared to trade certain items with China,” claiming that trading freely with China means China “using them to build nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, and I’m not going to do it.” Biden further boasted that allies have all agreed to restrict selling of certain items to Chinese firms stressing that “we’ve now got commitment from all of our allies they’re not going to either provide that kind of material that allows them to do that.”

While Biden claimed that the U.S is not seeking to “decouple from China,” if critically analysed, his comments reflect China’s accusation that Washington has been encouraging allies and companies to decouple from Chinese chain supply. Indeed, on 7th October 2022, the U.S took unprecedented steps announcing export bans to cut China off from certain semiconductor chips and chip-making equipment. Hence, the claim that the U.S does not seek to “decouple from China” is double standard considering that the U.S has been encouraging her companies to do exactly this. However, the U.S must accept fair competition and come to reality that attempts to isolate China will not help Washington and threaten global economy. As Elon Musk argued, it is not realistic to completely decouple from China and such efforts will definitely boomerang. For example, since 2013, China has been the engine of global economy with more than 38% compared to all G7 countries contribution of just 25.7%!

On G7 accusing China of increasingly “building its military” capacity, one can argue that compared to the U.S 2022/2023 defence budget of about $761 billion which is almost times four of China’s ($230 billion), this claim is baseless and misleading. It is also important to observe that all the G7 countries’ defence budgets have been steadily increasing over the past several years. Therefore, pointing at China as the only country whose military budget continue to rise is a keen to misinformation.

Telling journalists that “now, we’re also united in our approach to the People’s Republic of China, and the joint statement released yesterday outlines the shared principles we’ve all agreed at the G7 and beyond in dealing with China,” Biden argued that as a result of alleged China’s continued military building, “we’ve ended up where you have Japan stepping up in a way that’s of real consequence, in terms of your defense budget, number one, and a beginning of a rapprochement with South Korea.” If analysed, Japan’s decision to abandon pacifism which Tokyo has maintained for decades as per its post-war constitution – adopted in 1947 with a clause commonly referred to as Article 9 in which first paragraph renounces war, and the second paragraph promises to never maintain military forces, today, Japan’s decision to consider own military as well as growing its defence budget can be traced from US’ influence and courting Tokyo to join Washington’s anti-Beijing club with their so-called countering China agenda which is informed by America’s libido dominandi, a Latin phrase for lust to dominate others.  We can argue that using China card, the U.S has created China scare and forced countries including Japan into group formation with the latest being the so-called QUAD which analysts argue is meant to counter what US calls China’s influence in Indo-Pacific.

Indeed, addressing press alongside G7 summit in Hiroshima, president Biden was categorical explaining that he convinced India, Australia and Japan to join the U.S and form Quad. “I bet you — I would — maybe some of you thought it, but I doubt many people in this audience or any other audience would have said that two years after being elected, I’d be able to convince India, Australia, Japan, and the United States to form an organization called the Quad to maintain stability in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea,” boasted president Biden.

The formation of Quad left a number of countries in the region entering defence competition with Japan abandoning its pacifism policy, South Korea announcing increased military spending and the U.S promising nuclear submarines to Australia on the other hand claiming Washington is committed to ensuring nuclear proliferation in the region.

Also, the G7 summit addressed their so-called “shared commitment to the G7 Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII)” and promised $600 billion to among others support infrastructure development in both South and Global north.  Analysts argue PGII is meant to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which has so far been embraced by over 151 countries and at least 32 international organizations creating tens of thousands of employment opportunities and growing a number of countries GDP projections, G7’s PGII largely remains on paper. Despite G7 promises of speeding up their push for new supply chains ostensibly to leverage the PGII as an alternative to BRI, it is very unlikely this will be realised. Indeed, since its announcement two years ago, in Africa, it is very difficult to trace how many countries have benefited from it. The U.S which is arguably a de facto leader of G7 and pushing PGII itself has serious infrastructure deficits and the Biden administration has more than twice failed to convince congress to fund it. It therefore remains strange to imagine congress will approve money to address infrastructure deficits abroad yet it failed to approval similar spending at home.

In conclusion, the G7 summit which started with promise of trying to address global challenges ended up as a small group of rich countries discussing how to counter China and ignored real issues affecting the world especially developing countries. On global peace, in efforts to their so-called countering China, the group instigated Japan to abandon its pacifism policy as Tokyo embarks on building and growing its military. Also, the choice of Hiroshima which suffered the first nuclear attacks at a time when Russia-Ukraine crisis is raging makes one wonder what message G7 leaders were sending. It is not a surprise there was no talk of diplomacy as a possible way of addressing the crisis but many choose to announce military support to Kiev.

Dr. Allawi Ssemanda is a Senior Research Fellow at the Development Watch Centre.

The G-7 Summit was yet another “US against Them” Political Rally

By Moshi Israel

The 2023 G7 summit, in Hiroshima, Japan started on 19th May and concluded on 21st May. The participating G7 countries include; the United Kingdom, Germany, United States, Canada, Japan, Italy, and France. The European Union also participates in all discussions as a guest represented jointly by the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission. An invitation was also extended to BRICS members and emerging economic powerhouses, India and Brazil. The president of war-torn Ukraine also participated in the summit. Additional countries were invited to fill up the sixteen sits available at the summit including Comoros and the Cook Islands representing the African Union and Pacific Islands Forum, respectively, as their current chairs.

The summit concerned itself with two major perspectives; Upholding the so-called international order based on the rule of law and outreach to the Global South.

The choice to focus on these two perspectives provides an insight into the major itch on the back of G7 countries. First of all, it signals that the G7 is of the view that their international rules-based order is under threat and secondly, they acknowledge the fact that they are losing influence in the Global South. Naturally, the blame is always placed on some external enemy and little focus is put on self-reflection.

Furthermore, the summit discussed a couple of issues. On top of the list was the issue of Regional Affairs with Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific being of major concern. Other important issues included; Nuclear disarmament and Non-proliferation, Economic Resilience and Economic Security, Climate and Energy, Food, Health, and Development. Concerns on Gender, Human Rights, Digitalization, and Science and Technology were highlighted.

However, most of these important topics were not the highlight of the summit. Instead, the 2023 G7 Summit is now infamous for its anti-China rhetoric and has come off as yet another “Us Vs Them” political rally. This is a dangerous reinventing of the cold-war mentality that was detrimental to Global peace. The British Prime Minister cited China as representing “the world’s greatest challenge to security and prosperity.” Although many are left wondering whose ‘security’ and whose ‘prosperity’ Mr. Rishi Sunak is referring to.  Furthermore, the G7 leaders agreed to establish an initiative to counter economic ‘coercion.’ Jumping on the anti-china chorus, the leaders of the QUAD group- India, Australia, Japan, and the US called for ‘peace and stability in the Indo-pacific maritime domain’ in an attempt to jibe at China. Overall, the G7 countries released a communique that ‘warned’ China over its ‘militarisation activities’ in the Asia-pacific region.

On the other hand, Beijing hit back at the G7 by calling the summit a collective effort to ‘smear and attack China.’ The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China also pointed out that the G7 was ‘hindering international peace, undermining regional stability and curbing other countries’ development.’ This statement will most likely resonate with many countries in the Global South. Also, on the summit’s final day, Chinese regulators barred Chinese infrastructure from using US chip maker, Micron Technology after the latter failed a two-month security review.

All this highlights the increasing gap in cooperation between Beijing and the West. Although President Biden expressed hope for the rejuvenation of China-US relations, it now sounds like empty rhetoric. The G7 countries tried to input a ‘positive note’ on the summit by claiming that they wanted ‘constructive and stable relations’ with Beijing and aimed to ‘de-risk’ rather than ‘de-couple’ from their relations with China. Unsurprisingly too, there was no active support for an end to hostilities in Ukraine but rather an escalation of the conflict through further military aid. The only viable solution to the situation in Ukraine according to the West is the complete defeat or withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine. Only time can be the judge of such a position.

It is safe to conclude that the G7 summit did not bring forward any new ideas or innovative ways to handle Global turmoil but instead resorted to tired and tried tactics that help no one by increasing tensions. The pattern is clear and spells tribal warfare where everyone joins a camp and fights to crush a perceived enemy.  It is a kind of politics where national interest takes precedence over any progressive notion of healthy competition and cooperation. It is perhaps, high time the words of seasoned diplomat Henry Kissinger are taken seriously. In an interview with the British Historian Niall Ferguson, published by the Spanish newspaper “El Mundo,” Kissinger noted that a ‘second cold war fought between the United States and China could be more dangerous than the first one.’ He further noted that such a war could ‘overthrow civilization, if not destroy it altogether.’  He also observed that waiting for China to ‘Westernise’ was not a plausible strategy and did not think ‘World domination is a Chinese concept.’

The global south eventually emerges as the loser from the summit because once again the West only reaches out not to reinvent relations based on equal opportunities and mutual respect but as a strategy to curb China’s influence and to rally support against Russia.

The Writer is a Research Fellow with DWC





A Multi-Polar World would be a Catalyst for Africa’s Development Ambitions

By Moshi Israel

The distribution of global economic and political power among more than two States is vital to Africa’s development ambitions. The balance of power among several centers of power would curtail the destructive tendencies of hegemonism, unilateralism and great power conflicts. Going back to the cold war era between the USSR and the US, the African continent was a victim of great power politics. This manifested itself through proxy wars, coups and assassinations orchestrated by the two competing blocs of USSR and the United States.

For many years, Africa was only ‘independent’ in theory but practically a brand-new form of colonialism had taken shape. Different African countries were run by governments that shaped their policies in line with the two competing hegemonies of the time. Sanctions, regime change, and war plagued the continent, and it all served the interests of foreign powers with the approval of hand-picked corrupt African leaders.

The bipolar world, dominated by the Soviet Union and the United States and its associated political games left the continent in shambles. First, it was colonialism that exploited the continent and then the cold war came in to finish off an already weak continent. It is important to note that the Soviet Union largely supported Pan-African movements and personalities such as Anti-apartheid movements and Nelson Mandela.

With the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a new era was ushered into the world. African countries had a new challenge on their hands. The events of 1991, ushered in a new Unipolar world, where the United States remained the sole Hegemon on the global stage. As the world sighed in relief at the end of the cold war and potential nuclear annihilation, the dangers of having an unchecked global power grew exponentially. The United States and allies got entangled in interventionist wars in former Yugoslavia (1995-96), Afghanistan (2001-2021), Iraq (2003-2011), Somalia (2007-present), Libya (2011) and Syria (2014).

The African continent has since kowtowed to the dictates of a rules-based order established by a power that has no competitor. Currently there are nine African countries under US sanctions, which means 1 in 5 African countries. this is in addition to dealing with a system that imposes unfair trade rules on the continent, loans from the World Bank and IMF with unfair structural adjustment requirements. The United Nations on the other hand has also suffered from the dictates of its biggest funder (USA) and cannot curtail the unilateral tendencies of the US and other powers. The UN is supposed to be an organization where African countries should have equal power to other sovereign states.

It would be unfair to claim that the Unipolar reign of the USA has been all bad for Africa. There are instances of good partnership through foreign Aid, and collaboration in the fight against terrorism. Additionally, the United States has also been a great partner when it comes to public health and the fight against deadly pandemics and disease outbreaks such as Ebola, Malaria and HIV/AIDS. However, this relationship has been largely lopsided in the favor of the USA and is also largely overpowered by regime change politics, unfair trade policies and the Master-Servant political engagement from American politicians.

However, the rise of China, itself a country that has suffered similar experiences like the African countries, shines a new light on the horizon. Currently, many countries such as Brazil, India, Japan, Indonesia, China, Russia, and the EU are global economic powers. China and other BRICS member states are pushing for multi-polar world based on Mutual respect and win-win partnerships.

A multi-polar world means the end of Hegemonism, great power conflicts and Unilateralism. African countries should meet this opportunity by taking action to get rid of rampant corruption, ethnicism, illiteracy, civil war through power struggles and religious fanaticism. This can be achieved through building powerful and resilient institutions, good governance, technological innovation, sustainable development, increasing intra-African trade, industrialization, increasing the manufacturing base, investing in smart education systems, and modernizing infrastructure, among others.

A multi-polar world provides room for uninterrupted development, free from unilateral interventions from a powerful nation and free from the insecurity caused by great power competition. As a victim of both these systems, Africa has the right to welcome a multi-polar world based on real equality. The hope for such a world from the entire global south is not merely a naïve outlook or skewed understanding of global politics but a desperate and hopeful longing for a fair, just, and secure global system.

Moshi Israel is a senior Research Fellow with Sino-Uganda Research Centre.




President XI Jinping’s Russia Trip is Crucial for Global Stability

By Moshi Israel

On Monday, the 20th of this month the Leader of China President Xi Jinping landed in Moscow on his first trip out of China since his re-election for a third term as President. Choosing Moscow as his first foreign trip re-affirms the close friendship between Russia and Beijing. President Xi’s long-awaited visit to Moscow inspired a lot of background noise around major capitals of the world. A close partnership between Moscow and Beijing is not in the geopolitical interests of most western countries. However, many other regions of the world that are eager for a new era of global politics in which multi-polarity is the norm, anticipated and hoped for the best outcomes from the meeting.

China, with President Xi at the helm, has taken up the mantle of peacemaker. After successfully brokering a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran, China is increasingly being seen as a credible global power capable of prioritizing cooperation over confrontation. This comes as no surprise since the CPC has always championed win-win partnerships and diplomacy around the world. The evidence of this is embedded within China’s Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI), and Global Security Initiative (GSI) concept paper that encourages the Chinese tradition of peace above everything else.

China’s peace plan for Ukraine closely follows the core concepts and principles of its GSI. These concepts include but are not limited to, respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, commitment to taking the legitimate security concerns of countries seriously, and abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN charter. These principles are crucial in maintaining global stability. Therefore, President Xi’s visit to Moscow can be seen as an extension of these principles and China’s role as a peace broker. China has proposed to Moscow a twelve-point peace plan that seeks to end hostilities in Ukraine. President Putin has welcomed China’s efforts to solve the crisis in Ukraine and proclaimed that Russia is ready for peace when Ukraine and its western backers are. Most of the world cannot wait for this conflict to be over with and welcomes common sense solutions to the conflict.

Washington for so long has proclaimed that the decision to negotiate for peace and end the war is for Ukraine to make. However, it did not come as a surprise when the White House through its national security spokesperson John Kirby rejected any idea of a cease-fire. The white house anticipated that China might seek to broker a cease-fire in Ukraine and rejected it two weeks ahead of Xi’s visit to Moscow on grounds that it would allow Russia to consolidate its gains in the Donbas. The International Criminal Court (ICC) even went further and indicted President Putin for war crimes in Ukraine ahead of President Xi’s visit. This move by the court has been interpreted by many as largely symbolic and an attempt to murky the waters and complicate Xi’s visit to Moscow.

China has a very large presence around the world, economically, diplomatically, and technologically and has used this power to support peace. This should be applauded by all responsible citizens of the world. World leaders should oppose any attempt to escalate conflicts by nefarious actors on the global stage. President Xi has insisted that the conflict in Ukraine should end at the negotiating table and that the concerns of the conflicting parties be addressed.

At a time when the world is under serious economic and political strain, China is standing up to be counted as the global power that has a practical plan to lead the world into a new era. China’s neutrality on the Ukrainian conflict despite deep ties with Moscow, and its goal of peace are testament to the country’s genuine desire for a functional multi-polar and anti-war world. The global south, itself a victim of proxy wars should support China’s efforts in the framework of the United Nations to promote peace in Ukraine and around the world. The years of lacking a coherent and independent foreign policy in the global south should be forgotten and dumped in the dustbin of history. China under the CPC has managed to uplift itself from a century of humiliation to a global power worth taking seriously. The same can be replicated in the global south and particularly here in Africa.

The writer is a Senior Research Fellow with DWC

BRICS should focus on big issues to build ideal world

The highly anticipated meeting between president of China Xi Jinping and the Russian President Vladmir Putin at the Shanghai Cooperation Summit (SCO) took place in Uzbekistan on the backdrop of deteriorating relations between the two leaders and the collective west. President Xi and Putin generally showed support for each other and encouraged further cooperation in trade. Moscow is very much in need of a new market for its energy and China welcomes the opportunity to acquire cheap gas. An oil and gas pipeline deal were discussed between Russia, China and Mongolia and it is supported by the president of Mongolia.  Important on the agenda were security concerns for the two nations and their allies. President Putin was more interested in addressing what he considers the unwarranted dominance of the collective west in the international arena and it is no surprise that he is actively seeking for challengers to the status quo.

This meeting, however, is especially vital for a whole other reason since three of the five core members of BRICS were present. It is significant for the future of BRICS, a coalition of five states, namely; Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. In the last BRICS summit hosted virtually by China, BRICS members committed to expanding the bloc and being more inclusive. Notably, countries like Iran, Argentina and other African nations signaled interest to join the bloc. At the moment the future of the bloc seems assertive enough to challenge the dominance of the western coalition led by the United States in global politics. BRICS members have wide and ambitious objectives that surmise into restructuring the current global political and economic order. However, the vital task at hand is that the bloc should not morph into a mere anti-western hegemony coalition and according to the stated objectives of BRICS, the alliance is well poised to aim beyond that.

Therefore, the expansion of BRICS should be strategically based on a careful review of a potential member’s profile. Being hostile to western hegemony should never become the only qualifying quality for any potential member. It is a fact that unilateral decisions by USA with the often-expected assistance from her allies have caused havoc and crippled entire regions, from the Middle East, Eentral and Southern America, Eastern Europe to Northern and sub-Saharan Africa.

These unilateral and sometimes short-sighted actions have earned the United States a fair number of aggrieved enemies seeking to settle scores and they might view BRICS as a stepping stone to that goal. However, this fact may render BRICS a home to less-than-ideal candidates that may not have the long-term interests of the bloc in mind. Neutral states like India are a necessary ingredient for the bloc long-term even though they might seem like a risky partner in the coalition. This is due to India’s close partnership with the collective west.  However, the risk that India poses to the bloc does not lie in her close partnership with the west but in her belligerent and rocky relationship with China. And this relationship is an important chapter in the bloc’s evolution story.

Though leaders of China and India have proven their capacity to address grievances of the two by meeting and talking, a lasting solution to issues of each side’s concern is much needed and will boast the cooperation and trust of the two largest members of the BRICS. Once such differences are sorted, which is not an easy task but it is one task that must be accomplished, then the bloc will have skipped a major hurdle that stifles many promising partnerships in their infancy.

BRICS should make as priority the political and social integration of all its members, moving past the limiting economic partnerships if it is to challenge the west in any meaningful manner. It takes one look across the aisle to notice that most countries in the western coalition, share almost similar socio-political and economic values despites being geographically and ethnically diverse. Avoiding the trap of being merely anti-west is important because, some western allies can be lured into joining the bloc if the latter has a recognizable and meaningful positive impact on global politics. A meaningful impact on the world ranges from having a comprehensive global security framework that ensures world peace, an economic system that is balanced and beneficial to all encompassing detailed and practical solutions to protecting the environment and tackling the crisis of climate change.

Many challenges lie ahead for BRICS in different pockets of the world and members of BRICS+ will need institutions both financial and political to guide in the implementation of the bloc’s policy goals and objectives. This must be done with expected resistance form the western coalition and her institutions. Observing current statements and ambitions of BRICS member states, it is quite clear that in the long-run the bloc must create a separate financial system form the current western one and this involves convincing potential members and the rest of the world that the BRICS alternative is much better. New Development Bank (BRICS bank) can help in selling this agenda by offering financial assistance to different sectors than its current focus of infrastructure and energy.

This is where developing countries in Africa, South America and Asia can play an important role. China has already made significant in-roads on the African continent economically, Russia is making in-roads militarily in places like Mali, Sudan, Central African Republic and in other west African countries.

One key recipe missing is media presence to foster people-to people diplomacy and strengthen cultural ties, an area where the west has excelled. The west has managed to endear herself to Africa despite all their past atrocities on the continent during and after colonialism. The west has achieved this by opening up opportunities within western borders for talented and ambitious individuals from the African continent and overtime this number of western educated and influenced Africans has significantly increased.

When it comes to presence of media from BRICS member states on the continent, there is no competition because the west dominates this area. Though gaining, still China’s CGTN is yet to be felt on ground. For Russia’s RT, arguably, very few know it exist. Advanced found that in 2020, BBC news in Africa increased its reach to 132 million people a week.

BRICS alliance mechanism aims to promote peace, security, development and cooperation and the surest way to this is through adopting new, unique and innovative approaches to developing alliances and solving problems around the world. This to be felt on ground, as a group or individual member countries, BRICS must invest more in media and sell their ideas of their ideal world they aspire to bring.

BRICS still has an open advantage to expand strategically and create a whole different world, it is made up of emerging economies, a trait that gives its founding members relatability to other developing nations. The alliance, accounts for over 3 billion people which is over 40% of the world’s population and just over a quarter of the global GDP. Therefore, on face value, the alliance has immense potential and this potential has to be realized through strategic expansion. Most importantly, this expansion should not be solely fueled by grievances against the collective west but by a genuine concern for global affairs and a resolute desire to challenge and change the status quo.

By Moshi Israel.

The Writer is a Research Fellow at Development Watch Centre

Ukraine Crisis: China, France and Germany Can Help in Meaningful Dialogue

Less than a month since Russian forces invaded Ukraine, over two million five hundred thousand people have fled the country with over two million internally displaced as of today in a war analysts describe as the worst in Europe since World War two, yet there are no signs it is not about to end.

What is clear now is that as politicians in Washington and European Capitals announce back-to-back sanctions against Moscow and threats of total Western isolation against Kremlin, more than politicians, it is ordinary Ukrainians facing the wrath of Russia’s bombs!

Despite rounds of talks between Russia-Ukraine delegations at Belarus-Ukraine boarders and between foreign ministers of the two countries held in Turkey, not much has been achieved. This does not mean that diplomacy has failed and therefore should be abandoned! Actually, it is the very reason why we should pursue diplomatic path other than Washington’s view of supplying more weapons to besieged Ukraine. This is not to say that like Yemen which has been under Saudi backed coalition bombardment since 2014 with Western supplied weapons be ignored, but to emphasise that continued supplying of weapons to Ukraine will simply prolong the war and suffering of civilians especially that Moscow seems ready to double down attacks! Continued fighting will not end the suffering of people but dialogue in real and earnest terms can easily bring this war to an end.

As suggested by Chinese top diplomat Wang Yi in his 6 points in regard to the Ukraine question: the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected and protected and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter be abided by all in real earnest; security of one country should not come at the expense of the security of other countries; calling on all parties to exercise the necessary restraint; support for all diplomatic efforts conducive to a peaceful settlement of the Ukraine crisis; direct dialogue and negotiation between Russia and Ukraine. Other than using UN to simply condemn Russia without suggesting how to stop the fighting, as Wang stressed: UN Security Council should play a constructive role in resolving the Ukraine issue, and “actions taken by the Security Council should help cool the situation and facilitate diplomatic resolution rather than fueling tensions and causing further escalation”.

While it may not be easy to engage in direct dialogue, signs are that it is not too late! Indeed, on Friday French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had a telephone conversation witht Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Whereas French Presidency says president Putin seemed not ready to announce cease fire which the two leaders demanded for as a condition for talks, the fact that these European leaders are willing to engage Moscow, it is a good start to start a diplomatic path. Therefore, France and Germany having openly declared their support to Ukraine, if joined by a neutral force like China can help to bring the two fighting sides to agreement and silence guns!

While Washington would play a role, one can argue that as of today, the US has no major constructive role to play for it is seen as a spoiler due to their hard stand when it comes to Russia’s security concerns which Moscow claims Washington ignored. In this conflict, the US cannot play a uniting role because Washington sees Russia’s action as Moscow’s direct Challenge to Washington and hence, it is very unlikely that the US would be ready to encourage Ukraine to consider some concession which arguably is key to ending this crisis. Also, shortly after Putin ordered his forces into Ukraine, president Biden announced that Putin’s action had closed any possibility of future engagements. With USA’s self-praise as an indomitable nation, it maybe very hard for them to make a quick U-turn and sit on same table, and for example encourage Ukraine where possible to accept concessions.

On the other hand, France can play a positive role considering the fact that even when Paris joined other countries in sanctioning and condemning Moscow, Paris has always suggested there is still possibility of diplomacy to work. Also, president Macron’s personal negotiation skills and influence in Europe can see him constructively playing a much-needed role. After all, while President Joe Biden once told us that there are no secret codes to foreign policy, that it is all about personal relationships, and about human nature. Equally, from the start, Germany was clear and against anything with potential of escalating the situation. Therefore, one can argue that they are ready to do whatever it takes to cool the situation.

Also, China can play a better role. Historically, when it comes to peace and security, China has the best record among major powers. It has never invaded other countries or engaged in proxy wars, nor have they ever participated in military bloc confrontations, according to facts and words of foreign minister, Wang Yi. Other than opposing power politics, and hegemonies, China has always campaigned for equality urging great powers to respect and uphold legitimate rights and interests of developing countries-be small or medium-sized. Beijing argues this is the sure way the world will achieve lasting peaceful and development stressing it as the best way of building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
If we critically analyse, words of president Zelensky, while responding to David Muir of ABC News on 08th who asked him: “What is your message to Vladimir Putin right now?” Muir had asked president Zelensky that to cease hostilities, Russia was demanding that Ukraine change its constitution to reject any intention to enter NATO and also to recognize Crimea as part of Russia as well as the other two breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states. Though president Zelensky did not directly say he was willing to compromise, his response suggested a change of tone responding that he was “ready for a dialogue.”
On Ukraine joining NATO, president Zelensky sounded ready for concession stressing that, “I have cooled down regarding this question a long time ago, after we understood that … NATO is not prepared to accept Ukraine. The alliance is afraid of controversial things and confrontation with Russia.”
While, answering the question of if Ukraine was ready to let go the two self-declared republics of Luhansk and Donetsk, if compared to pre-war, president Zelensky appeared somehow reconciliatory noting that: “I think that items regarding temporarily occupied territories and pseudo-republics not recognized by anyone but Russia, we can discuss and find a compromise on how these territories will live on,” Zelensky said. “What’s important to me is how the people in those territories who want to be part of Ukraine are going to live.”

Looking at Ukrainian government’s official released full interview, president Zelensky noted he was ready for what he called a “collective security agreement” that would include Russia. If well analysed, all the above signals it is possible to have successful talks and hence, China, France and Germany should make quick steps in this direction.
Allawi Ssemanda is the Executive Director of Development Watch Centre; a foreign policy think tank.

Russia-Ukraine Peace Talks: Neutral Parties Needed to Leverage Negotiations.

By Allawi Ssemanda

Today marks the 6th day since Russian forces invaded Ukraine in what Russian President Vladimir Putin described as a “military action” aimed at protecting Moscow supporters from a supposedly “genocidal” regime.

The war has already claimed over 200 lives, and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes to neighbouring countries and destruction of properties is on-going. From the look of things, the war is not about to end and Russia seems determined as it advances toward Kiev.

In same way, Western countries are increasing pressure against Moscow with different western Capitals slapping sanctions against Russia. While sanctions may have an impact against Russia in the long run, drawing examples from North Korea, Iran among others countries the West has sanctioned, it is clear that sanctions hardly bring about desired changes and sometimes they severe already poor relations among countries. In this case, dialogue and negotiations remain the best option in addressing challenges among countries.

Indeed, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy after repeatedly expressed willingness to enter dialogue with Russia and addressing president Putin via a recorded video message: “I would like to address the President of the Russian Federation once again. Fighting is going on all over Ukraine. Let’s sit down at the negotiating table to stop the deaths of people,” talks finally started at the Ukraine-Belarus border where both sides agreed to resume them after consultations from their capitals.

Despite Ukrainian president saying he does not expect much from these negotiations, the fact that the  two sides met is a good sign and should be encouraged. Nonmatter how cliché it may sound, talking with each other is better than talking at each other. However, it is evident that unless the two sides and Ukraine’s backers are not ready to compromise, these negations may stale prolonging the war and suffering of people in Ukraine.

To safeguard these talks, a neutral country which has not shown side and with a good record as far as observing international laws such as respecting territorial boundaries of sovereign countries is concerned is a better option and has moral authority to facilitate such negotiations. A neutral guarantor is key for success of negotiations to move well. China among all major powers, only China qualifies. This does not mean other major powers cannot help, but considering that many especially the US and EU have shown sides, they can only watch and perhaps encourage the them than acting as spoilers or continuing with statements that may escalate the situation.

On the other side, China has not shown side and has been calling for diplomacy as the best way of resolving this crisis. Indeed, China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has been categorical explaining in five points China’s stand in regard to the Ukraine question maintaining that: the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected and protected and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter abided by in real earnest; stressed that security of one country should not come at the expense of the security of other countries; encouraged all parties to exercise the necessary restraint; expressed support for all diplomatic efforts conducive to a peaceful settlement of the Ukraine crisis; encouraged direct dialogue and negotiation between Russia and Ukraine,  and stressed its belief that UN Security Council should play a constructive role in resolving the Ukraine issue, stressing that “actions taken by the Security Council should help cool the situation and facilitate diplomatic resolution rather than fueling tensions and causing further escalation.”

Even in UNSC emergency session, while the West voted and campaigned for the resolution to condemn Russia, China used that chance and argued concerned parties to consider dialogue and abstained. If critically analysed, this alone is a score that Beijing is neutral on this issue and if given opportunity, Beijing can help to have the two worrying sides resolve their disagreements peacefully and silence guns in Ukraine.

From historical perspective, China’s intention to ensure a peaceful world where countries observe and respect international laws is solid. Beijing has been very consistent with a view of maintaining global security and saving people from suffering due to wars. For example, after France, US and NATO allies invaded Libya in 2011 arguing they wanted to protect civilians from government forces under UN resolution 1674 – Responsibility to protect, after allegations that NATO forces were involved in operations that left civilians injured and others dead, Brazil and China came up with a proposal to ensure protection of civilians and introduced the idea of Responsibility While Protecting (RwP). Because at this time France and NATO allies were the invading forces, they refused to support RwP. China proposed some changes and named a new draft Responsible Protection (RP) which was again rejected by France, US and UK and hence, left plight of civilians during invasion at the mercies of invading forces with little or no hope of ever getting justice.

While some western pundits have claimed that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine gives China a chance to invade and occupy Taiwan, it is important to note that Ukraine Question is very different from Taiwan. While Ukraine is a sovereign country with its territories protected international laws, Taiwan is China’s territory that suggesting China will invade it is like saying China will invade herself. For Taiwan’s case, it can only be unification but not invasion.

Again, as Chinese Foreign Minister observed, when it comes to peace and security, China has the best record among major powers. It has never invaded other countries or engaged in proxy wars, nor have they ever sought spheres of influence or participated in military bloc confrontations.

On top of opposing power politics, and hegemonies, China has always campaigned that great powers respect and uphold legitimate rights and interests of developing countries-be small or medium-sized. Beijing argues this is the sure way together we can achieve a peaceful development and building of a community with a shared future for mankind where small, big, weak and powerful countries all live in harmony.

The writer is the Executive Director of Development Watch Centre; a foreign policy think tank and author of Global Governance and Norm Contestation: How BRICS is Reshaping World Order.  Twitter @AllawiSsemanda



By Rugaba John Paul and Allawi Ssemanda.

During Vladimir Putin’s state of nation address in April, he warned the west that there would be severe consequences if the west had crossed Russia’s red line. This statement not only proved the narrative of a new 21st century cold war, but also showed the confidence of the Kremlin as a potential and confident new global power.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia’s global power dwindled especially in the first decade since soviet collapse (1991-2001). The move from a Communist Style Economy to a somewhat Capitalist economy coupled with a weak drunk leader in Boris Yeltsin, the Russian bear at the dawn of the 21st century was a shadow of its past. Then came Vladimir Putin, who transformed Russia and wanted the fatherland to regain its lost global influence.

In 2007, Times Magazine voted Putin person of the year, crediting him for returning his country from chaos to “the table of world power.” He was also voted World’s Most Powerful person four times between 2013 and 2016 for leading his country into global affairs. He is further credited for revolutionizing Russia’s economy and bringing stability in the country after defeating Chechnya rebels. Arguably, Moscow’s push in World’s affairs portraying Russia as a new Global player has had some positives such as enabling Russia host the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics and 2018 FIFA world cup but also rekindled some old cold war wounds with the western powers.

Russia and Africa: A new frontier?

Unlike Britain, France and Germany and other European powers, imperial Russia didn’t take part in the scramble for Africa nor had any colonial possessions. Fast forward to the cold war, Soviet Russia was a main supporter of revolutionary conflicts on the continent and played a big role in some of the major events on the continent during that period.

But in Putin’s Russia, Moscow is increasingly having a major role on the continent as it tries to compete with other Global Powers such as; China, United Kingdom, France and U.S.A. for the African slice of the cake.

In October 2019, Russia hosted its first ever Russia Africa summit which was attended by 43 African heads of states, and more than 3000 delegates from across Russia and Africa. During the summit, president Putin pledged Russian support to the continent in terms of aid, arms and political support without strings attached. This summit was seen as a statement by the Kremlin to try to restore the old influence the Soviet Union had on the continent. Some analysts argue that Russia is still lagging behind on the continent in terms of influence. Despite this, Moscow’s influence is on rise.  For example, Russia has sent mercenaries to Central African Republic to support the U.N backed government and has also backed the Haftar’s faction against UN backed Libyan government in the now slowing Libyan conflict. Also, Russia is playing a key role in the implementation of nuclear energy on the continent having signed deals with about 12 countries to operate their nuclear facilities whilst Russian state owned and private companies are cutting mining deals in countries such as Angola, Ghana, Cameroon etc. this is a clear indication, that with time, Russia aims at having a foothold on the continent.

Russia has also been in talks with a number of African Countries including among others Sudan and Djibouti to establish their military bases. In Djibouti’s case, analyst attribute Russia’s interest in the country to its strategic location which has made it an area of interest for greater powers with many opening their military bases there. Russia’s interests in Djibouti started way back in 2012, and held talks between 2012 and 2013 on same matter. However, after Russian-Ukrainian crisis over Crimea in 2014, the U.S pressured Djibouti to pause Russia’s advancement which many saw as rivalry against Washington’s interests in the region. Though Russia’s military installation base project seem to have lost momentum, the two countries are still working together in containing piracy.

Though Moscow missed out on Djibouti deal, it has found other potential candidates in Africa to host its military base(s) along the Red Sea, with the most receptive being Sudan. Indeed, in 2017, the then Sudan’s dictator and strongman Omar Al-Bashir, travelled to Sochi where he met his Russian counterpart and the two leaders discussed among others growing the two countries’ cooperation in areas like defence and security. Though signed documents did not include establishing a military base, the Putin – Al-Bashir meeting discussed the subject. In 2020, Russian government published information on its website confirming Moscow was in final stages of building a naval base along Sudan’s Red Sea coast. Moscow explained that a “logistical Support Centre” would be set up in Sudan stressing details of an agreement signed between Sudan’s Prime minister Mikhail Mishutin and Russian side.

However, one can argue that the prospect of establishing a permanent Russian military base in Sudan is now uncertain. The collapse of Sudan’s strongman, Al-Bashir regime in April 2019 and now improved diplomatic relations between Khartoum and Washington in October 2020 arguably makes Russian “protection” to Khartoum less important. In this case therefore, though the need for defence cooperation between Sudan and Russia may still be key, one can argue that the plans for a military base in Sudan are now in limbo since Khartoum is steady courting the Western for a more friendly diplomatic relationships – a journey that started with Washington removing Khartoum from its list of countries that sponsor terrorism and consequently removed the country from sanctions.

Russia’s Eritrean card and game.

Analysts and International Affairs strategists have in recent argued that changes taking place in Eritrea point at possibility of long-term Russian military presence in that country. After the country gained independence in 1991, Eritrea became one of the world’s most closed countries  and one of worst dictatorship on the continent. Important to note is that since the signing of a peace treaty with Ethiopia in and the lifting of UN sanctions late 2018, the once closed country has been on a somewhat diplomatic charm looking for opportunities to break out of its isolation and attract foreign investors.

Consequently, Asmara approached Russia and has been more actively since 2018. In August of that year, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov announced that Russia and Eritrea were negotiating the opening of a “logistics” base on the Eritrean coast.

Other evolutions followed. In preparation for the lifting of UN sanctions, Russian and Eritrean delegates met in October 2016 to discuss their future bilateral relations. Besides which, July 2019, Moscow announced it was lifting its own sanctions against Eritrea which set a stage for the two countries to relate after nearly a decade of sanctions.

However, as things now stand, there is no proof that the plans for a Russian logistics base on Eritrean territory are still pending. Indeed, the closed nature of Eritrean politics and the strategic nature of this type of negotiation make any interpretation hazardous. But in any case, the exchanges between the two countries on matters military continue as before. Indeed, early 2020 Russian defence officials revealed that Kremlin and Asmara had signed the first defence cooperation for Russia to deliver two Russian Ansat helicopters purchased as part of the development of military cooperation with Russia.  “This country is no longer under sanctions. In 2019, a contract was signed with Eritrea on the delivery of two Ansat helicopters in a military modification to transport personnel. The deal is to be fulfilled 2020,” noted Russian defence official.

Russia-Somaliland Option.

Somaliland which belongs dejure to Somalia but is de facto independent since 1991, has been referred to on several occasions as a possible Red Sea host for Russian armed forces. For decades now, Somaliland has been seeking recognition as a full-fledged member of the international community. And it is therefore on the lookout for foreign partners, especially among the great powers who could settle the issue of its status.

In 2017, the possibility of a Russian military base in Somaliland resurfaced. In the same year, while at the Russian embassy in Djibouti, an emissary from the Somaliland government offered to grant Moscow the right to build base at Berbera and if Moscow agreed to reorganize Somaliland as an independent country.  Then, in January 2020, there were reports of the imminent opening of a Russian military base in Somaliland.

However, a month after these reports, Russia’s ambassador to Djibouti described these reports and false denying Russia had plans of recognizing Somaliland as an independent country. If analysed critically, one can conclude that despite having interest in red sea, Russia which has always shown stance against great powers openly intervening in internal affairs of other countries may not be ready to make a U-turn on this by reorganizing Somaliland which Somalia would consider as Moscow interfering in her internal affairs. With that in mind, a conclusion can be made that the future of a Russian military base at Berbera is uncertain and it remains unknown fact.

Broadly, an argument can be made that Russia’s intervention in Middle East particularly in Syria has opened up other possible opportunities for Moscow to enter the Middle East and East Africa. Indeed, since 2015, Russia has been trying to gain more influence in the region and contacts between Russia and those two regions have grown considerably. However, it is important to observe that the limits of Moscow’s diplomatic influence become fairly evident whenever Russia’s ambitions to establish military base on the Red Sea are on the table. In many ways, Moscow’s diplomacy finds its initiatives somewhat baulked by what they see as region’s instability and by the fierce competition offered by the other major powers such as U.S and China.

Therefore, one can conclude that despite Kremlin’s undying interest to have more military bases in strategic areas like the red sea, the chances of a Russian military base seems to be slim and indeed are arguably the object of what should be termed as unreliable reports. However, important to note is that Russian ambitions in Africa and in the Middle East continue unabated. Even with challenges such as the slowdown of diplomatic exchanges forced by the Covid-19 pandemic and its far-reaching economic consequences, Kremlin hopes for a base near the Straits of Bab El-Manded and the Red Sea will remain a priority on Moscow’s regional agenda over the next few years and as night follows the day, one can safely say president Putin will try to achieve this today or “tomorrow”.


It’s clear that since the rise of Putin in Russia, the country’s global presence has risen to somewhat resemble the global influence of its soviet past. Her rise has risen eyebrows among western powers such as the united states, NATO and even Great Britain. The actions of the Kremlin over the past 20 years such as the annexation of Crimea, alleged poisonings of dissidents in the U.K, alleged cybercrime and election meddling in the U.S have given left rise of the Russia bear a negative outlook in the western world.

Needless to say, Russia has played a major role in global affairs. Through its diplomatic role in major international organizations, it has managed to push through agendas or reject agendas that seem to be pro-western. Russia, being founding member of the BRICS, has used its position to foster development in the developing world. During the ongoing covid 19 pandemic, Russia was the first country to manufacture and distribute its vaccine, Sputnik V Vaccine, which it has shared with other countries and helped in the global fight of the pandemic.  Presently, tens of African countries are expected to receive over 300 million doses of Russians Covid-19 vaccine – Sputnik V Vaccine.

As of now, from security to economic and diplomatic perspective, Russia’s match to Africa seems unstoppable – matching towards achieving Moscow’s ideal world Putin dreams of. A world where Russia is seen as a major player in Global affairs.  However, what is not clear is whether Moscow can achieve her ambitious goals in a short or long run especially with economic challenges occasioned by Covid-19 pandemic and slow economic growth in Russia.  However, no matter the challenges such as mistrust especially from the West and other challenges Moscow may meet along the way, Putin’s Russia has proved to be resilient to emerge victorious in dealing with challenges and criticism from the West.




Covid vaccines: Russia, China, India…Who is supplying Africa?

By Marie Toulemonde, The Africa Report. 

Covid vaccination campaigns have kicked off across the globe. But while many developed countries are busy inoculating their populations, the continent is grappling with growing bilateral agreements with foreign laboratories and mobilising its health professionals.

Western countries, perhaps hit harder by the virus, but above all richer, are creating a traffic jam by securing, like Canada, enough vaccines for up to three times their population.

In Africa, deliveries of the vaccines promised by the COVAX aid programme for developing countries are still behind. Faced with the urgent need to contain a second wave that is much more virulent than the first, notably with the South African variant, the AU is releasing funds and some countries are negotiating directly with foreign laboratories.

Vaccine diplomacy

At the end of December, the NGO Oxfam estimated that 70 poor countries would only be able to vaccinate one in ten inhabitants in 2021. Under these circumstances, China and Russia have once again shown themselves to be particularly attentive to the continent’s needs. As early as June, China’s number one, Xi Jinping, expressed his “generosity” at the China-Africa summit by promising African countries that they would benefit from advantageous conditions during the massive distribution of Chinese vaccines.

Unlike Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, China and Russia pride themselves on having developed vaccines that are accessible, can be stored in the refrigerator (making them easier to send and store in poorer regions) and, above all, are available.

The majority of the Maghreb countries, due to these numerous advantages, have already ordered several million doses. But concerns about the real effectiveness of Chinese vaccines are growing and Russian deliveries are slow. AstraZeneca’s vaccine, produced by the Indian laboratory Serum Institute of India, is also planning to supply 200 million doses as part of the Covax.


  Countries that have signed bilateral agreements with Laboratories. Map by The Africa Report.

Source: By The Africa Report



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