Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or as they are more commonly known drones, are the latest technology boom that is growing exponentially across the globe and African skies are seeing an increasing number of them too.
What are drones? And how do they work? Briefly, they are aircraft without a human pilot flying inside. They are flown either by operators sitting in control rooms hundreds, or even thousands of kilometers away, using satellite feeds or radio signals, or increasingly, many drones are flown entirely by computer.
Most people have a vague idea that the Americans have been flying strange unmanned vehicles, called Predators and Reapers over the skies of Afghanistan and Pakistan to spy on and often kill suspected Taliban or other militants. What is startling is the growth of drones in the military. A decade ago, according to a recent article in Time Magazine, there were only 50 drones in the Pentagon fleet, now there are some 7,500 and more than a third of the US Air Force fleet is unmanned.
The military use of drones, particularly by the States, is troubling but it is a reality that is not going away. And one which has changed the nature of warfare. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that there have been some 360 drone strikes in Pakistan, killing up to 3,500 people—over 300 of the strikes have been ordered by the Obama administration—while there have been multiple strikes in Yemen and Somalia. The US confirmed, as far back as 2011, that it had been operating Reaper drones alongside Ethiopian forces battling al-Shabaab militias in Somalia. They also have secret drone bases in the Horn of Africa, the Seychelles and Burkina Faso. The government of Niger recently gave the US the green light to operate surveillance drones to help monitor the movement of extremist groups in the Sahara and Sahel. The US and France are certainly sharing intelligence over ongoing events in Mali, although there are no confirmed reports of drone strikes as of going to print.
The largest manufacturer of drones in Africa is Denel Dynamics based outside Pretoria, South Africa. They have been making drones and other Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) since the 1980s. They make four different drones aimed at both the commercial and military markets.
Their flagship product is the Seeker 400; it is the only long range tactical UAV made on the continent. It is an upgrade on the successful Seeker II, which was exported to two other countries, neither of which can be disclosed, but Denel Dynamics has “Clients in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, South America, especially Brazil. We are not considering entering the market in North America but in Europe there might be some possibilities,” says deputy CEO of Denel Dynamics, Tsepo Monaheng.The Seeker 400 is what Monaheng describes as an entry-level long range UAV. In the industry, it is known as a ‘MALE’ or Medium Altitude Long Endurance drone. It can remain airborne for 16 hours and carries two payloads so that it can operate different cameras on the same flight, say, a high-resolution optical camera and an infrared one. It has a range of 250 kilometers and relies on line-of-sight communications. It has the potential to be upgraded for satellite links but at this stage, “We cannot hand control of the communications to a third party”.
The Seeker 400 is also designed to carry an armed payload if necessary. “None of our drones carry weapons at the moment but the system can be customized for different client requirements,” he says.
So, South Africa is a potential player in the game of international drone warfare.
“We can sell anywhere that is morally okay. Anywhere our country is okay with,” says Monaheng.
At the moment only the States, United Kingdom and Israel are known to have used armed drones. But as the pressure builds on South Africa to become more involved in continental peace-keeping missions, the questions of who to sell drones to will become a foreign policy dilemma that could have political ramifications. South Africa will, in the near future, have to contend with the growing use of drones by other militaries, especially by Western forces, on the continent and decide what the country’s response to this will be.
Johan Potgieter of the Institute for Security Studies explains that in the recent conflict in the DRC, after the M23 rebels had taken control of parts of the east, there was renewed interest in the United Nation’s (UN) use of at least three drones to get real-time information for their peacekeeping forces.
“The US had trained the Ugandan forces in the utilization of drones because the UN had agreed to it but then the Rwandans complained.”
What most vexed the Rwandans was their national sovereignty being violated by drones—an issue for which, at this stage, international law has few, if any, precedents or guidelines.
“Africa shall not become a laboratory for intelligence devices from overseas,” says Olivier Nduhungirehe, Rwanda’s deputy UN ambassador.
Where South Africa, as the largest drone manufacturer and exporter on the continent, might place itself on this question is anybody’s guess at this stage.
“Africa is very sensitive about other people interfering in their airspace—as they’ve often got something to hide,” says Potgieter.
The questions raised on the matter in international politics are only going to proliferate, and the military drones themselves are going to get more and more sophisticated. In recent years, however, there has been a rapidly growing parallel development of simpler and far less expensive drones for civilian use.
“There has been an evolution in thinking about UAV technology. They can be used to courier information, blood samples, data of all kinds. They used them at Fukushima to monitor radiation levels. You can use them wherever you don’t want humans to be involved,” says Monaheng.
With this in mind, Denel Dynamics has developed a much smaller drone called the Hungwe, which is small enough to be transported in a single commercial 4×4 vehicle.
“The design concept is for it to be used in civilian airspace. The challenge is to work with the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority).”
Civilian drone technology, both local and international, is developing so fast that it is now prompting a rapid review of South Africa’s aviation laws to integrate drones for civilian use into our air space, as currently there are no regulations for the use of UAVs outside of restricted military airspace.
According to Sam Twala, certification engineer for CAA: ‘This is not a unique problem to South Africa, the whole world is still searching for a working solution. The UAV interim policy of 2009 is under review and we hope to have something out by the end of this year. But we need to find a solution that not only suits the South African market but harmonizes with the international market”.
There is huge economic potential for both military and civilian drones.
“UAVs are a successful business for us. Our turnover is about R200 million ($22.5 million) and we employ about 90 people. But the industry is growing and we want a big chunk of that and we expect to grow 10% year-on-year.”
At the moment the potential for making money in the civilian drone business is still at a sort of Klondike stage; everyone knows that there is gold out there but no one knows exactly where it is or how to get hold of it.
A 2012 market study by defense consultants TEAL group predicts that global UAV spending will almost double in the next decade from $6.6 billion to $11.4 billion bringing it up to $89 billion over the decade. But really, who knows? It could be even bigger if certain conditions are met: appropriate legislation, enough air space being made available and the technology being safe enough to operate successfully.
The second biggest players in the African market, Advanced Technologies and Engineering (ATE), are currently undergoing cash flow problems but they have over 15 years of experience in the industry and are confident that a turnaround is near.
“The applications for non-passenger UAVs are unlimited. The only restriction is legislation. The CAA is key but so is ICASA [Independent Communications Authority of South Africa]—they have to make bandwidth available to the industry. We need regulation urgently for different classes and types of UAVs. We can create an airspace where only UAVs operate. There are two types of aircraft: unpressurized planes fly beneath 12,000 feet, most pressurized craft fly over 28,000 feet, so there is a whole band of airspace that UAVs could operate in,” says Jan Vermeulen, programs manager at ATE.
Their main UAV products are the Vulture Tactical UAS used to assist long-range artillery with finding targets and correcting both aim and range. The mobile Vulture is launched by catapult off the back of a truck, while the Sentinel-LE UAS uses a similar flight body but takes off and lands on a runway.
“We don’t make armed UAVs. Definitely not,” Vermeulen points out.
Like Denel Dynamics, they won’t reveal the identity of their clients but Africa, the Middle East and Asia are on the list.
Perhaps their most innovative project is one that is stalled for the moment as the company’s financial position is being considered. Using a tiny UAS called a KIWIT weighing less than 4 kilograms, they developed a system in conjunction with the National Health Laboratory Service. The KIWIT, guided by a PC, would fly from a small rural clinic, carrying a blood sample to a laboratory or hospital with laboratory services. The KIWIT is then programed to drop the sample by parachute and return to the clinic for another load.
“We got a 97 out of 100 success rate but the program is now stalled because of [air space] regulations,” says Vermeulen.
When asked about the future of the company Vermeulen is positive.
“The last two years our turnover was on average R100 million ($11.26 million) a year but we had one big overseas contract who didn’t pay and our cash flow was badly affected. Everything depends on the new owners but we have the potential to do amazing things.”
It’s uncertain exactly how big the UAV manufacturing sector is in South Africa but there are successful smaller companies like Tellumat, which specialize in avionics for UAVs and exhibited at last year’s African Aerospace and Defense show in South Africa.
S-Plane Automation is a Cape Town-based UAV manufacturer, which builds the Swift and Nightingale drones.
“They are both still in development phase. The Swift is a tactical class surveillance UAV, not designed for armaments, that can fly at 18,000 feet. The Nightingale is a much smaller unit, with a wingspan of only 1.5 meters,” says technical director Iain Peddle.
The company’s website explains that they were designed, like ATE’s KIWIT, to transport blood samples.
S-Plane is still working on its UAVs.
“At the moment they are not mature products. We prefer, for the time being, not to compete with the Denels. We are staying in the sub-system market, flight computers, simulators, power managements systems.”
The Swift and Nightingale are elegant machines that are potentially extremely versatile. Peddle won’t go on the record about what their turnover is.
“It’s a sensitive industry but let’s say we’re a growing player. We’ve gone from 6 or 7 engineers to about 20 now.”
Small companies, such as S-Plane, are part of an exploding international market. A 2012 report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) on drone proliferation states that the number of countries possessing drones has risen to 76, with over 50 countries developing more than 900 UAV systems.
The South African UAV market faces stiff competition. Potgieter points out that, “Seeker is not necessarily cheap. In an open market it will be relatively easy to find a tested and proven UAV that is much more competitive”.
“China and Israel are our biggest competitors. They put together a whole package where they give a country UAVs and build an airport in exchange for, say, coal. We still operate in a traditional business way, where we have to receive money for our product,” says Monaheng.
Perhaps the most immediately pressing and exciting development for civilian and tactical unarmed UAVs in Africa, is their potential for combatting rhino poaching. Damien Mander, an Australian ex-Special Forces soldier and Iraq veteran, who founded the International Anti-Poaching Foundation has pioneered the use of small drones in tracking elephant poachers in Niassa province, Mozambique. He is developing a scheme to track poachers and watch over rhinos in the Hoedspruit area of Limpopo Province in South Africa.
“There are heaps of drones on the market that have a 20-40 kilometer capability. The drones that conservationists need cost $250,000. The components that go into them cost $100,000 tops. The rest of the price is intellectual property. We don’t have that kind of money so we are developing a UAV that is sold for the cost of its parts,” he says.
Mander has assembled an experienced team that is building the UAVs in Australia.
“You can find the parts on diydrones.com, from all over the place. We want to stay comfortably behind the technology curve. We want them to be affordable, easy to operate in rough remote areas and easy to repair.”
He aims to get five airframes to South Africa by September and pending CAA approval, hopes they will be used against poachers soon.
The unparalleled surveillance capabilities of drones mean that very soon they will become standard equipment for law enforcement. Clearly, they can be used to track criminals, watch borders, guard key installations, help protect VIPs among a number of other uses.
They take us into a 21st century world of Big Brother legal issues. What does their use mean for privacy and entrapment issues? CAA concerns aside, lawyers, legislators and courts are going to have to rewrite a number of laws within the ambit of this new and growing technology. In the very near future, at, say for example, the massacre of miners in Marikana, there will be police drones recording crowd movements; anticipating where they might move next; pinpointing individuals with GPS and face recognition software. Some of them will probably be armed with tear gas or, perhaps, even missiles. At the same time, the mine owners will have their own drones flying overhead, as will the unions and this is not to mention that all the major news companies will most likely have drones too. There will be so many competing streams of information that can be cross-referenced that the whole nature of the investigation will be changed.
The psychological, social and economic effects of this are difficult to predict. Increasingly, drones will become an indispensable tool of the media. We will expect to watch events across the world in real-time video fed from drones overhead edited in with pictures from cameras and cellphones from journalists and even members of the public on the ground as they are happening. Live broadcasts have been around for decades but drone technology takes it to a new level. Journalists will be able to fly drones over police cordons, prison walls, national borders to be able to bring the events to their audience. Laws might make certain areas or events out of bounds to drones but there will be equally compelling arguments in favor of freedom of expression and the public’s right to know. In purely practical terms, to prevent drones being used, the police might have to shoot them out of the sky or interrupt their flight control signals, which will potentially bring them crashing down. We’ve hardly even begun to imagine what the widespread availability and use of drones will mean for the future.
The unstoppable morphing of drones from the military to civilian worlds and the inevitable growth in their availability and use is not all good news. As Vermeulen points out, “Any guy can buy the components and, with a little bit of technical knowledge, slap them together and then you have a drone.”
The web is filled with sites such as the DroneZone.co.za; www.SMac.co.za (SMart Automotive Components) or even Amazon and Kalahari where you can buy small drones like the Parrot that is operated off an iPhone. The smallest drones available are called MAVs (Micro Air Vehicles) and their designs are inspired by bird and insect wings. In the last month, the British military announced that it was providing its forces in Afghanistan with a 16g Norwegian-designed Black Hornet Nano drone, the size of a weaver bird.
Criminals and killers can all buy these drones and the components to upgrade them for more ominous uses. A recent piece in the Spectator described how in the near future the software will exist for drones to fly autonomously and to make their own ‘kill’ decision based entirely on computer algorithms with no element of human choice involved.
Drones are going to change everything. Soon. Society will have to struggle constantly with their dark, and potentially deadly, aspects but they also represent the next frontier for entrepreneurs. Their potential is enormous. They can be used to courier parcels, monitor flocks of sheep, check the fences on game farms, film aerial shots for movies, find natural disaster victims, monitor schools of fish in the oceans and the illegal trawlers that go after them, survey pirates, rescue yachtsmen in distress, provide live traffic updates, check the quality of soils on wine estates. Their uses are endless.
As Twala says: “UAVs are the future. In the next five years, UAVs will change our lives as much as cellphones did. The list is limited only by one’s imagination”.
Djibouti: Strengthening Africa’s Passage To Prosperity
“Djibouti is in the process of becoming an essential link in the economic globalisation. We shall remain faithful to our ideals of unity, equality and peace by remaining true to our core values and our hospitality, generosity and solidarity culture that we can be proud of our identity in a world subjected to cultural standardisation.” – His Excellency President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh.
Djibouti is successfully improving its position in the global market by enacting several enterprising reforms to enhance and improve conducive business environments, property registration, credit availability, as well as empowering sectors such as infrastructure, finance and energy. These measures are all a part of His Excellency President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh’s Vision 2035, which has already demonstrated great progress, as Djibouti has leapt from the 154th in 2017 to the 99th position in the 2018 World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report. Central Bank of Djibouti Governor Ahmed Osman Ali, says, “We have worked hard to improve our investment environment. In terms of investors’ protection, Djibouti ranked second worldwide in the World Bank Doing Business 2019 ranking, gaining 94 places compared to 2018. Djibouti offers great potential to investors in various sectors, as well as an attractive fiscal environment.” The Vision 2035 is a strategy that is built through the participation of Djibouti’s youth, political parties, civil society, businesses, development partners and the international community. The vision is based on five core pillars: Peace and national unity, Good governance, a diverse economy, Investing in human capital and Regional integration.
In utilising its advantageous geographic position and strengthening its place as East Africa’s hub, the Vision 2035 recognises that Djibouti is a natural gateway for bordering and nearby countries for sea and air cargo transportation. Dabar Adaweh Ladieh, General Director of the Société International Des Hydrocarbures de Djibouti (SIHD) says, “That is why Djiboutian ports, for instance, are destined to serve the whole region. Goods from Europe, the Middle East and Asia will arrive here. We will have an exchange centre thanks to our strategic plan and the President’s vision to develop infrastructure.” In keeping with this goal, Djibouti has been investing in new port terminals, as well. “SIHD, in partnership with other companies, is building a new stocking site in the Damerjog economic zone where there are also other projects to be realised, like the port and the stocking site of natural gas,” says Ladieh. “So, we are proceeding with this global vision in mind.”
Diversifying the economy is crucial to the Vision 2035, and the government is dedicated to ensuring consistent GDP growth, which will create over 200,000 jobs in the next fifteen years. One of the means to do this is through the energy sector. Djibouti is no stranger to ambitious projects if it means improving the livelihood of its people and securing a better future. As such, the government has enacted several programmes that seek to meet 100% of the country’s energy demand with renewable resources in order to combat pollution and decrease dependence on imported energy resources. This can be done through geothermal energy, wind energy, solar energy as well as waste energy. The government is currently moving into the production phase of geothermal energy, with wind energy production set to begin in spring 2020. Ensuring the abundant availability of reliable and cheap energy puts Djibouti on the cusp of a green revolution and is a crucial step toward the achievement of Vision 2035, with positive effect on investments and employment resonating throughout the economy. The government has also invested in highly specialised programmes that are designed to nurture the thriving young population. Mr Yonis Ali Guedi, Minister of Energy, states, “All these projects are to develop Djibouti, making sure that energy is abundant and cheap, to attract investors, jobs can be created, and the prosperity of our citizens can be increased. Development always needs energy, so, the country needs to provide itself with green and clean energy.”
In accordance with the strategy mapped out in Djibouti’s Vision 2035, the government has taken on an astounding series of projects aimed at updating Djibouti’s infrastructural landscape. Part of this plan is found in the country’s new International Free Trade Zone. Opened in July 2018, the DIFTZ marked a turning point in the history of Djibouti and the entire East African market. The Zone will inevitably boost local and international trade and create employment for Djiboutians. The Free Zone clearly represents Djibouti’s rapid and impressive transformation and serves as a beacon of light for the future, positioning the country as a hub for trade, logistics and finance.
In addition to the government’s dedication and all these vast improvements across many sectors, Djibouti’s participation in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement will also create an environment where investors can thrive. The AfCFTA is meant to create a tariff-free continent that could boost intra-African trade. Governor of Central Bank of Djibouti, Ahmed Osman Ali, states, “It is a great opportunity: it will grant access to a wider market to companies operating here. To take advantage of increased regional integration. We have invested heavily in port, road, rail and telecommunications. We remain very confident about the positive effects of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement in terms of activities, growth and job creation.”
Driving Djibouti’s Development Goals
Afreximbank Focus on Djibouti
Afreximbank has pledged to work with public and private entities in Djibouti in order to deploy the Bank’s trade finance programmes in support of the country’s economic priorities.
A small nation in the Horn of Africa, Djibouti’s location along the Gulf of Aden, its proximity to the Mandeb Strait, the southern entrance to the Suez Canal and Yemen gives the small African nation a strategic role to play along one of the world’s busiest trade routes. Ten percent of the world’s oil exports and 20% of all commercial goods traverse through the Suez Canal, passing close to Djibouti. With the vision to be the trade finance bank for Africa, Djibouti plays an increasingly bigger role within the Afreximbank portfolio.
Djibouti signed onto the African Export-Import Bank Establishment Agreement in 2016 marking the commencement of the partnership. At the signing of the agreement, President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh stated that this partnership will help the country advance its trade related infrastructure and the areas of logistics and renewable energy. The bank has also helped to promote and finance Djibouti’s industrial sector in the area of export manufacturing. With help in financing from Afreximbank, Djibouti has been able to further leverage its important geographic position to its advantage. It will also flourish in new areas of the economy such as tourism and investment.
During its partnership, Afreximbank has pledged to work with public and private entities in Djibouti and would link them with other African and international economic players in order to deploy the Bank’s trade finance programmes in support of the country’s priorities, including the development of renewal energy infrastructure through the Bank’s funding arrangement with KFW, the German development bank, construction of world-class tourism amenities under the Bank’s CONTOUR facility and expansion of Djibouti’s transport and logistics infrastructure. The trade and infrastructure development plans initiated by Djibouti are very impressive and have the potential to transform the country and to make an impact, not only in the region but across Africa, as the country moves toward becoming a key logistics hub for the continent.
Due to its location and the government’s recent policy reforms, the country is attracting more business and investment than ever. Djibouti has recently implemented a policy of international free trade zones, which enables foreigners to start business in the country easily and without paying profit taxes. These policies have been effective in recent years to attract much attention to the tiny nation as it seeks to create a conducive business environment. Already, our partnership has seen positive effects with Djibouti’s Ease of Doing Business ranking increasing in 2018 to 99 up from 154 in 2017.
Djibouti is one of the many cases in which partnering with Afreximbank has helped countries develop their trade sectors. In 2017 Afreximbank focused on a forward looking initiative called Impact 2021, Africa Transformed. This initiative is fixed on strengthening four main sectors: intra-Africa trade, industrialisation and export development, trade finance leadership and financial soundness and performance. Just in 2018, Afreximbank saw 24% overall growth with a US$55 million increase in income. Up from US$229.8 million total income in 2017, the total income for 2018 was US$285.4 million. Afreximbank also saw a 13% growth in its assets totalling US$13.42 billion for 2018 due to a rise in net loans and advances. The bank’s operating profit saw an exceptional rise in 2018 to US$394.8 million from US$109 million in 2017.
This growth is continuing into 2019 with a 59% increase in total revenues for the first three months of the year compared to the same timeframe in 2018. Though it is a small country, Djibouti’s location elevates its status in geopolitics, and it is only logical to assume that its importance will continue to grow as nations turn their attentions to Africa and the Middle East. With a positive outlook ahead and a successful year behind us, Afreximbank is well on its way of achieving its vision and assisting Djibouti in its development goals.
Footnote: The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is the foremost pan-African multilateral financial institution devoted to financing and promoting intra- and extra-African trade. The Bank was established in October 1993 by African governments, African private and institutional investors and non-African investors. Its two basic constitutive documents are the Establishment Agreement, which gives it the status of an international organisation, and the Charter, which governs its corporate structure and operations. Since 1994, it has approved more than US$67 billion in credit facilities for African businesses, including US$7.2 billion in 2018. Afreximbank had total assets of US$13.4 billion as at 31 December 2018. It is rated BBB+ (GCR), Baa1 (Moody’s), and BBB- (Fitch). The Bank is headquartered in Cairo.
The Central Bank Fights Financial Exclusion And Eases Business
Governor Osman Ali vows to do even more to attract banking activities to Djibouti and enable further growth.
Central Bank of Djibouti Governor Ahmed Osman Ali is a key player in the nation’s strategy of enabling infrastructure improvement and economy diversification to become an emerging country by 2035. Penresa sat with him to discuss the achievements of his mandate and his plans to keep supporting Djibouti’s Vision 2035
How is the Central Bank working to help Djibouti become a middle-income country by 2035?
The ambition to establish Djibouti as an emerging economy by 2035 is part of the national development strategy pursued by the government’s sectoral policies. The objective is to transform Djibouti into an international logistic and financial hub.
The Central Bank is thus working for a more dynamic, efficient, sustainable and inclusive financial sector. An initial comprehensive reform package began in the early 2000s: since then, the sector has grown from five to 36 financial institutions (including 11 banks, from two in 2006). Subsequently, to expand the financial sector, our priorities are focused on the following points: The viability of the sector with the impressive strengthening of the supervisory framework, as well as anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing measures. Reference texts are regularly updated according to international standards;
The promotion of financial inclusion through initiatives such as the right to an account, with banks being legally obliged to open an account for people with a minimum income of DJF 40,000 (e200). Also worth mentioning is the development of microfinance and mobile banking. To ease access to credit for SMEs/SMIs we have established a Partial Credit Guarantee Fund and initiated the necessary reforms to launch leasing activities in Djibouti;
The modernisation of the national financial infrastructure with the introduction of i) a modern national payment system taking into account the new paperless electronic payments (real-time gross settlement, automated clearing house…); and ii) a new fully automated credit information system.
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement is meant to create a tariff-free continent that could boost intra-African trade. Do you feel this will contribute to Djibouti’s economic growth?
It is a great opportunity: it will grant access to a wider market to companies operating here. To take advantage of increased regional integration (Djibouti is a founding member of COMESA), we invested heavily in port, road, rail and telecommunications. Djibouti is AGOA eligible, which is significant for our Indian and Chinese partners.
We remain very confident about the positive effects of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement in terms of activities, growth and job creation.
You were awarded Central Banker of the Year 2018 at the Global Islamic Finance Award. What did you do to expand Islamic Finance?
We realised that a significant portion of our population was marginalised in the financial sphere due to the lack of Shariah compliant financial products. We have made the necessary efforts to introduce and develop Islamic finance, and today the three active Islamic banks (the first of which established in 2006) represent 20% of the market. We also launched an annual Summit bringing together in Djibouti the institutions and eminent experts of International Islamic finance.
The award we received is an acknowledgement of the efforts undertaken by all stakeholders to achieve these results.
For the readers of FORBES AFRICA and the discerning investor, why is NOW the best time to invest in Djibouti?
We have worked hard to improve our investment environment. In terms of investors’ protection, Djibouti ranked second worldwide in the World Bank Doing Business 2019 ranking, gaining 94 places compared to 2018. Djibouti offers great potential to investors in various sectors, as well as an attractive fiscal environment.
Developing And Connecting Djibouti Through A World Platform
Minister’s Round Table
Penresa sat down with Hon. Youssouf, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hon. Awaleh, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, & Fisheries, Hon. Dawaleh, Minister of Economics and Finance and Hon. Guedi, Minister Minister of Energy & Water.
What big project is your ministry focused on right now?
Hon. Youssouf: We need to speed up the process of creating job opportunities. First, in education and then in job creation. That is why we are compelled to seek opportunities for young people and women. Djibouti has signed the ICSID Convention. You need a legal framework to reassure investors that their investment is protected. We hope that it will boost the volume of the investment, because more investment means more job opportunities. Vision 2035 is our development plan over the next 20 years that will help change the livelihood of people. Djibouti has also signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). It is vital for African countries to create that common market because trade is the engine of the economy. When you have that framework, that facility to boost and step up the intra-African trade, it creates job opportunities, wealth, rapprochement between countries, community. We believe that the bigger the market is, the bigger the opportunities to create job and wealth.
Hon. Awaleh: The Ministry is involved in several projects focused on sustainable agriculture. Djibouti has an arid ecosystem; it is more or less a desert with black stones. The rainfall is on average 150mm per year and we have no rivers. The best three activities for Djibouti (because of saline ground) are date palms, greenhouse horticulture and livestock. One example is that we have a laboratory here for date palms. There are a lot of varieties, and the best variety is called Medjool. One kg of Medjool is about $US30. It is the highest price for a fruit. It is very difficult to get this variety: California, Israel and Morocco have it. One tree takes eight years to grow, and in all its life, a date palm will give you 10-20 shoots. The problem is that we do not have date palms here in Djibouti. So, we have done the research and we have discovered that we can produce date palms from cells. It has taken us 5-6 years, and we have chosen the best varieties. In the world, we are the fourth laboratory which produces Medjool dates in this way. We are proud to have introduced date palms specific for Djibouti.
Hon. Guedi: We are working toward 100% green energy. We are developing other forms of energy like wind and geothermal energy. We never had a real project in geothermal, but at the end of April/beginning of May 2019, the presence of geothermal energy in the Fiale project was confirmed. The three drillings were done at a depth of 2,600 metres. Now, we are going to move to the next step, the production. We have signed all necessary contracts as far as wind energy is concerned after one year of negotiations to finalise the production of 60 MW of wind energy with African Financial Cooperation in Ghoubet. As of now, the windmills are already being produced, using German technology. Completion of the project is 12 months, so in April/May 2020, we will start with the production of wind energy. We have also developed solar energy. The French company Engie contacted us for a first project for solar energy. We have already signed with EngieAfrique for the development of 30 MW solar station on the site of Grand Bara. This will be the first step and we hope that we will finalise all the documents for the project in two to three months. As you can see, the energy revolution in Djibouti is coming.
Hon. Dawaleh: The growth over the past five years has been 6-7%, which is comfortable. The balance of payment is now at a good level; in the past we had a very high debt, while now it is at 70%. All the macro-economic indicators are reasonable for Djibouti. The driving force of the economy of Djibouti is the port, the air, the airport and the infrastructure. We have six ports, we have trains. We deliver the flow of goods from COMESA countries to the world. We also intend to handle the flow of information and finance, of capital between COMESA and Djibouti because we want to be a hub for money, since our currency is pegged on the dollar. All people in the Eastern African region should put their money in Djibouti. We want to be the hub of the flow of capital and information, since we have seven telecommunication submarine cables, not only for Djibouti, Somaliland and Ethiopia, since the cable encompassing Africa runs through Djibouti. So, our focus areas are transport, flow of information and capital.
Climate Explained: How Much Of Climate Change Is Natural? How Much Is Man-made?
How much climate change is natural? How much is man made?
As someone who has been working on climate change detection and its causes for over 20 years I was both surprised and not surprised that I was asked to write on this topic by The Conversation. For nearly all climate scientists, the case is proven that humans are the overwhelming cause of the long-term changes in the climate that we are observing. And that this case should be closed.
Despite this, climate denialists continue to receive prominence in some media which can lead people into thinking that man-made climate change is still in question. So it’s worth going back over the science to remind ourselves just how much has already been established.
Successive reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – mandated by the United Nations to assess scientific evidence on climate change – have evaluated the causes of climate change. The most recent special report on global warming of 1.5 degrees confirms that the observed changes in global and regional climate over the last 50 or so years are almost entirely due to human influence on the climate system and not due to natural causes.
What is climate change?
First we should perhaps ask what we mean by climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change defines climate change as:
a change in the state of the climate that can be identified by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer.
The causes of climate change can be any combination of:
- Internal variability in the climate system, when various components of the climate system – like the atmosphere and ocean – vary on their own to cause fluctuations in climatic conditions, such as temperature or rainfall. These internally-driven changes generally happen over decades or longer; shorter variations such as those related to El Niño fall in the bracket of climate variability, not climate change.
- Natural external causes such as increases or decreases in volcanic activity or solar radiation. For example, every 11 years or so, the Sun’s magnetic field completely flips and this can cause small fluctuations in global temperature, up to about 0.2 degrees. On longer time scales – tens to hundreds of millions of years – geological processes can drive changes in the climate, due to shifting continents and mountain building.
- Human influence through greenhouse gases (gases that trap heat in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide and methane), other particles released into the air (which absorb or reflect sunlight such as soot and aerosols) and land-use change (which affects how much sunlight is absorbed on land surfaces and also how much carbon dioxide and methane is absorbed and released by vegetation and soils).
What changes have been detected?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent report showed that, on average, the global surface air temperature has risen by 1°C since the beginning of significant industrialisation (which roughly started in the 1850s). And it is increasing at ever faster rates, currently 0.2°C per decade, because the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have themselves been increasing ever faster.
The oceans are warming as well. In fact, about 90% of the extra heat trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases is being absorbed by the oceans.
A warmer atmosphere and oceans are causing dramatic changes, including steep decreases in Arctic summer sea ice which is profoundly impacting arctic marine ecosystems, increasing sea level rise which is inundating low lying coastal areas such as Pacific island atolls, and an increasing frequency of many climate extremes such as drought and heavy rain, as well as disasters where climate is an important driver, such as wildfire, flooding and landslides.
Multiple lines of evidence, using different methods, show that human influence is the only plausible explanation for the patterns and magnitude of changes that have been detected.
This human influence is largely due to our activities that release greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, as well sunlight absorbing soot. The main sources of these warming gases and particles are fossil fuel burning, cement production, land cover change (especially deforestation) and agriculture.
Most of us will struggle to pick up slow changes in the climate. We feel climate change largely through how it affects weather from day-to-day, season-to-season and year-to-year.
The weather we experience arises from dynamic processes in the atmosphere, and interactions between the atmosphere, the oceans and the land surface. Human influence on the broader climate system acts on these processes so that the weather today is different in many ways from how it would have been.
One way we can more clearly see climate change is by looking at severe weather events. A branch of climate science, called extreme event or weather attribution, looks at memorable weather events and estimates the extent of human influence on the severity of these events. It uses weather models run with and without measured greenhouse gases to estimate how individual weather events would have been different in a world without climate change.
As of early 2019, nearly 70% of weather events that have been assessed in this way were shown to have had their likelihood and/or magnitude increased by human influence on climate. In a world without global warming, these events would have been less severe. Some 10% of the studies showed a reduction in likelihood, while for the remaining 20% global warming has not had a discernible effect. For example, one study showed that human influence on climate had increased the likelihood of the 2015-2018 drought that afflicted Cape Town in South Africa by a factor of three.
Adapting to a changing climate
Weather extremes underlie many of the hazards that damage society and the natural environment we depend upon. As global warming has progressed, so have the frequency and intensity of these hazards, and the damage they cause.
Minimising the impacts of these hazards, and having mechanisms in place to recover quickly from the impacts, is the aim of climate adaptation, as recently reported by the Global Commission on Adaptation.
As the Commission explains, investing in adaptation makes sense from economic, social and ethical perspectives. And as we know that climate change is caused by humans, society cannot use “lack of evidence” on its cause as an excuse for inaction any more.
The Rage And Tears That Tore A Nation
Snapshots of the outrage against foreign nationals and protests against sexual offenders in South Africa in recent weeks, captured by FORBES AFRICA photojournalist Motlabana Monnakgotla.
As the continent’s second-biggest economy, South Africa attracts migrants from the rest of Africa. But mired in its own problems of unemployment and political instability, September saw a serious outbreak of attacks by South Africans on foreign nationals and foreign-owned businesses. And they have been ugly.
The spark that fueled the raging fire was in Pretoria, the country’s capital, when a taxi driver was shot dead by a foreign national who was selling drugs to a youngster in the central business district (CBD).
The altercation caused a riot and the taxi industry brought the CBD to a standstill, blocking intersections. It did not stop there; a week later, about 60 kilometers from the capital in Malvern, a suburb east of the Johannesburg CBD, a hijacked building caught fire, leaving three dead. As emergency services were putting out the fire, the residents took advantage and looted foreign-owned shops and burned car dealerships overnight on Jules Street.
The lootings extended to the CBD and other parts of Johannesburg.
To capture this embarrassing moment in South African history, I visited Katlehong, a township 35 kilometers east of Johannesburg, where the residents blocked roads leading to Sontonga Mall on a mission to loot the mall and the foreign-owned shops therein overnight.
Shop-owners and workers were shocked to wake up to no business.
Mfundo Maljingolo, a worker at Fish And Chips, was among the distressed.
“This thing started last night, people started looting and broke into the mall and did what they wanted to do. I couldn’t go to work today because there’s nothing to do; now, we are not going to get paid. The shop will be losing close to R10,000 ($677) today. It’s messed up,” said Maljingolo.
But South African businesses were affected too.
Among the shops at the mall is Webbers, a clothing and footwear store. Looters could not enter the shop and it was one of the few that escaped the vandalism.
Dineo Nyembe, the store’s manager, said she was in disbelief when she saw people could not enter the mall.
“We got here this morning and the ceiling was wrecked but there was no sign that the shop was entered, everything was just as we left it. Now, we are packing stock back to the warehouse, because we don’t know if they are coming back tonight,” lamented Nyembe, unsure if they would make their daily target or if they would be trading again.
Across the now-wrecked mall are small businesses that were not as fortunate as Webbers, and it was not only the shop-owners that were affected.
Emmanuel Nhlane’s home was robbed even as attackers were looting the shop outside.
“They broke into my house, I was threatened with a petrol bomb and I had to stand outside to give them a chance; they took my fridge, bed, cash and my VHS,” said Nhlane.
Nhlane had rented out his yard to foreign nationals to operate a shop. He does not comprehend why his belongings were taken because he doesn’t own a shop. Now, it means that the unemployed Nhlane will not be getting his monthly rental fee of R3,700 ($250).
Far away, the coastal KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, was also affected as trucks burned and a driver was killed because of his nationality. This was part of a logistics and transport industry national strike.
Back in Johannesburg, I visited the car dealerships that were a part of the burning spree on Jules Street.
The streets were still ashy and the air still smoky, two days after the unfortunate turn of events.
Muhamed Haffejee, one of the distraught businessmen there, said: “Currently, we are still not trading.”
Cape Town, in the Western Cape province of South Africa, which hosted the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa from September 4 to 6, was also witness to protests by women and girls from all walks of life outside the Cape Town International Convention Centre, demanding that the leadership take action to end the spate of gender-based violence (GBV) in the country.
There were protests also outside Parliament. What set off the nationwide outcry was the shocking rape and murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana, a 19-year-old film and media student at the University of Cape Town, inside a post office by a 42-year-old employee at the post office.
There was anger against the ghastly crimes and wave of GBV in the country that continues unabated. According to Stats SA, there has been a drastic increase of women-based violence in South Africa; sexual offences are up by 4.6%, from 50,108 in 2018 to 52,420 in 2019.
A week later, on a Friday, Sandton, Africa’s richest square mile and one of the biggest economic hubs, was shut down by hundreds of angry women and members of advocacy groups from across Johannesburg. They congregated by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), the cynosure of business, singing and chanting, to demand “a 2% levy on profits of all listed entities to help fund the fight against GBV and femicide”.
Among the protesters was Cebi Ngqinanbi, holding a placard that read: “I’m not your punching bag.”
“We came here to disrupt Sandton as the heart of Johannesburg’s economic hub. We want to make everyone aware that women and children are being killed every day in South Africa and they [Sandton] continue with business as usual, sitting in their offices with air-conditioners and the stock exchange whilst people on the ground making them rich are dying. That is why we are here, to speak to those that have economic power,” said Ngqinanbi.
She added that if women can be given economic power, they will be able to fend for themselves and won’t fall prey to abusive men, since most women stay in abusive relationships because men are more financially stable.
Amid the chanting and singing of struggle songs, Nobuhle Ajiti addressed the crowd and shared her own haunting experience as a migrant in South Africa and survivor of GBV. She spoke in isiZulu, a South African language.
“I survived a gang rape; I was thrown out of a moving car and stabbed several times. I survived it, but am I going to survive xenophobia that is looming around in South Africa? Will I able to share my xenophobia story like I can share my GBV story?” questioned Ajiti.
She said as migrants, they did not wake up in the morning and decide to come to South Africa, but because of the hardships faced in their home countries, they were forced to come to what they perceived as the city of opportunities. And as a foreign national, she had to deal with both xenophobia and GBV.
“We experience institutionalized xenophobia in hospitals; we are forced to pay huge amounts for consultation. I am raped and I need medical attention and I am told I need to pay R5,000 ($250).
“As a mere migrant, where am I going to get R5,000? I get abused at home and the police officer would ask me where I’m from because of my accent, I sound Zimbabwean. What does my nationality have to do with my husband beating me at home or with the man that just raped me?” she asked.
Addressing the resolute women outside was the JSE CEO Nicky Newton-King who received the memorandum demanding business take their plight seriously, from a civil society group representing over 70 civil society organizations and individuals.
The list of demands include that at all JSE-listed companies contribute to a fund to resource the National Strategy Plan on GBV and femicide, to be launched in November; transport for employees who work night shifts or work after hours; establish workplace mechanisms to provide support to GBV survivors as part of employee wellness, and prevention programs that help make workplaces safe spaces for all women.
Newton-King assured the protestors she would address their demands in seven days. But a lot can happen in seven days. Will there be more crimes in the meantime? How many more will be raped and killed in South Africa by then?
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