Thought leadership - Current

Harnessing the Power of Africa's Swing States: The Catalytic Role of Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa

This initiative, co-produced by The Brenthurst Foundation and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, will result in a high-level roundtable at Villa la Collina, Cadenabbia, Lake Como, Italy, 16-19 August 2015.

For decades the best performing states in Africa have been small. The three most developed, according to the 2013 UN Human Development Survey, were Botswana, Seychelles and Mauritius, which together comprise around .3 per cent of Africa's total population. In the 2014 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance, those same three countries, plus another very small one - Cape Verde - ranked in the top five. And of the top five countries ranked by GDP per capita, the most populous is Botswana. At just over two million people, Botswana has just 1/10 the population of Nigeria's capital city, Lagos.

What if this situation were reversed - what if Africa's big states were also its best performers? What might that mean for their regional neighbours and the continent as a whole - in terms of economic and human development, governance, and peace and security?

There is a considerable body of research on why big states in Africa have, in general, performed badly since independence. Yet success in certain key states - regional powerhouses, sometimes referred to as strategic 'swing states' - can generate political and economic benefits well beyond their borders. Equally, the consequences of 'failure' - economic crises, acute political instability, armed conflict - in swing states are that much greater for the region and continent of which they form part. While there are no hard and fast criteria for what constitutes a 'swing state', relative economic and diplomatic weight, location and level of international integration (regionally and globally) are key factors. Above all, when what happens in a state typically has systemic significance for their regions then one might broadly consider them 'swing states'.

Three countries which fit these criteria will be examined in this high level roundtable - Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. These are not the only 'swing states' in sub-Saharan Africa; a complete list would certainly include Ethiopia and a strong case could be made for a few others. But for the purposes of this forum, we have identified these three states as particularly illustrative of the importance of 'swing states' to wider economic and security dynamics. Each of these states currently face stark challenges ranging from escalating domestic and regional terrorism, declining commodity prices, labour unrest, refugee crises and highly factious politics. For different reasons, all three are performing well below their potential; and there are risks that things could become worse. The stakes are very high - for the states in question, their respective regions and Africa as a whole.

This high-level roundtable co-hosted by the Brenthurst Foundation and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung seeks to better understand the catalytic role of these three swing states on wider African development. Some of the key questions to be addressed include:

· What are the key opportunities for positively leveraging swing states' (potential) economic and political power?
· How do issues of regional competition and state sovereignty hinder broader economic development?
· How can Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya become more effective regional leaders, especially in security and integration structures?
· How can Africa's swings states contribute to greater Africa-wide coordination on continental and wider international peace and security issues?
· Are their policies indicating an increasingly 'inward-looking' approach to international problems, to the detriment of an active foreign policy?
· How do relations between swing states and major external powers (eg EU, China, US) impact regional development in Africa?

Energy Roundtable

Co-hosted by the Brenthurst Foundation, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the Embassy of Spain 8 July 2015 Park Place, Johannesburg, South Africa The shortage of reliable and affordable energy is one of the biggest constraints on economic growth and prosperity in Africa. Only 20% of the African population is connected to power distribution grids. The continent lags far behind all other regions of the world in electricity generating capacity. Even Africa's most advanced economy, South Africa, is likely to experience energy 'crises' for years to come due to poor planning and inadequate investment. And yet the continent's most populous country, Nigeria - three times the size of South Africa - generates only a tenth as much electricity. Across Africa there is a wide consensus that, first, the continent needs (much) more power; and secondly, that it needs it as cheaply as possible.

The region has enormous untapped energy resources. To mention only one, hydropower in Africa is only at 20% its potential, while Asia and AMLA are above 75%. This seems to be the time to unlock Africa´s power generation and distribution capacities and add to the region´s improving economic performance.

Investments in Africa's energy sector have risen sharply in recent years following three decades of little or no growth. This is evident across the energy picture, from new coal-fired power stations, oil and gas finds and nuclear power agreements to wind turbines, solar and hydro-power installations.

According to SAPP-Southern Africa Power Pool, new power generation capacity, only in the SADC region, has increased at an average 2.000 MW/y in the present decade, but with adequate national and regional planning and a clear set of incentives to bring in private sector investors, it should double its growth pace.

New investment is driven partly on the back of the gradual weakening of state-owned utilities' grip on the energy sector and the opening-up to private sector investment, as well as a new focus on the renewable sector, which has the potential to provide greater 'off-grid' power directly to customers in Africa.

The South African government has achieved great success and international praise by developing the Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme , which has awarded 4.000 MW of renewable energy new generation capacity to local and international private investors. More than 100 billion Rand is being mobilized by the programme, creating 45,000 jobs and bringing social and economic benefits to communities in peripheral regions, such as the Northern Cape Province.

Indeed The Economist recently speculated that 'Africa has the potential to jump from being the world's electricity laggard to a leader in renewables'. Yet such enormous opportunities will not be realised unless governments and private sectors in Africa address the manifold challenges posed by bloated bureaucracies, lack of capacity, sclerotic thinking and poor leadership. And there are also grave concerns around environmental impacts and the long-term wisdom of some of the energy policy choices and priorities of African governments.

The Southern Africa region is therefor at a crossroads and thus needs to secure good policy making at national and regional level, improved local and international private investor participation and adequate access to funding.

Also, comparative analysis of costs (tariffs), job creation and industrial localization, local skills development and environment impact of the different alternative energy sources and technologies needs to be debated and made more transparent. Energy efficiency and cogeneration, decentralized power generation and regional integration of national power grids deserve more attention and support.

Aus-Africa Dialogue 2015

The 2015 Australia?Africa Dialogue (AAD) will be held at The Royal Zambezi Lodge (RZL) in Zambia from 11?14 September 2015.

The AAD is a joint initiative of the The Brenthurst Foundation and the Australia Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). The underlying purpose of the AAD is a commitment to developing practical ideas and actions for governments, business and societies to share across a range of common interests from security operations to economic activity. Within a relatively small group context, we hope that there will be ample opportunities for participants to get to know each other and to share their experiences leading to practical outcomes.

The theme of the forthcoming dialogue will be on enhancing the relevance of regional bodies in Africa, with a focus on security, the conduct of private business, and the delivery of infrastructure and growth. The dialogue will bring together a small number of leaders from Australia and Africa to discuss topics including mining, the security sector, infrastructure and the role of women in peace and security.

This will be the second dialogue of this type following the success of the first AAD which took place at Bunker Bay, Western Australia in July 2013. Participants at that Dialogue included Kenya's former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Australia's current Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who also participated at an earlier conference we held at RZL in Zambia in 2012. Australia's Foreign Minister is a significant supporter of the ADD and looks forward to the outcomes of the 2015 event.

The African City - Development Triumph or Tragedy?

This is a research and media project identifying how the African city can become a node of development rather than a site of despair. The aim of the project is to identify the policy options and path for a positive outcome of the demographic spike sub-Saharan Africa will experience over the next generation, especially in its cities. It asks a key question: What needs to be done to ensure Africa experiences a demographic dividend? In so doing, by pulling together a powerful and influential international network, the project also aims to play a leading role in setting and shaping the agenda around policy choices at a strategic level and, more tactically, city planning.

Project Focus: This will focus on the following areas:

1. Outline where in emerging markets, why and how the city has been a central part of the development 'story', and where it has been a brake on progress. Can, then, Africa replicate the success, for example, of China, in terms of providing a cityscape to which migrants flock and prosper? And what in Africa happens if not, both in developmental and security terms?
2. Establish a central Hypothesis around what is needed in terms of: A. Jobs - in both services and industry.?B. Infrastructure -- coastal versus interior; state versus region; that which links markets versus productive assets.?C. Human capital - skills and labour market. D. Policy and government.
3. Select a maximum of six case studies - with a focus on second tier cities, those between 500,000-1,000,000 million people each, which are more manageable than the mega-city, and thus which might transform into a high-tech success as opposed to those where the numbers will simply have to be better managed.
4. Assess the implications for the hinterland.
5. Policy conclusions for governments and populations.

City Focus: With a focus on assessing the necessary interventions to ensure mid-size cities 'tip' the right way, as noted above, the study will investigate a number of case-studies, numbering no more than six as proposed, with two international (non-African) analogues.

This project will run from 2015-2017.

African Security

The Brenthurst Foundation has launched a project looking at the security challenges currently facing the African continent, and the various dimensions in which these challenges are being met by policy-makers. Drawing from the Third Tana High-Level Forum that took place in April 2014, former President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, the chairman of the Foundation's Advisory Board, has evaluated the AU's pledge not to bequeath to future generations of Africans a legacy of wars and conflicts by silencing the guns by 2020. In the same publication, Director Greg Mills utilized detailed case studies of South Africa's recent peacekeeping involvement in the Central African Republic and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to identify several tactical and strategic lessons of direct relevance to the 3500-strong Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) which came into being last year to help stabilise the perennially insecure and unstable eastern Congo.

Deputy Director Terence McNamee approached the issue from a different angle by reflecting on the main arguments and perspectives that emerged from a High-level Roundtable on Africa's contested relationship with the ICC that was co-hosted by the Brenthurst Foundation and the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 18-19 March 2014.

The Foundation also sent a team of distinguished African political leaders, civil officials and military experts to Colombia in June 2014 in order to learn how this country has beaten back a criminal insurgency, begun to address its historical legacy of uneven development and unequal prosperity, and set its people on a path to peace. The aim of the trip was to draw recommendations for Africa from Colombia's successes in dealing with insurgency. Finally, this work has inspired the theme of this year's Tswalu Dialogue, 'End of an Era of Intervention? Lessons for a New Generation of Peace Missions'.

Africa's future: improving economic growth and governance

The Brenthurst Foundation has engaged in a pursuit to find innovative ways to boost Africa's economic growth while simultaneously improving the quality and responsiveness of its governments to their citizens. As part of this, Director Greg Mills has undertaken numerous studies on the lessons that the Asian miracle economies can provide for Africa, particularly those of Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam. The Foundation also co-hosted two high-level events that brought together influential policy-makers and experts to discuss these issues. The first, co-hosted by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, was held at Villa la Collina, Cadenabbia, Lake Como in Italy on 20-23 July 2014, and sought to answer key questions which will define Africa's political and economic future, such as what uniquely African solutions to African problems have been designed in the past and how successful they have been, and what options exist for Africa to meet the burgeoning demographic changes the continent is experiencing. The second brought together academics, civil society members and officials from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Congolese diaspora to discuss how to innovatively but realistically build growth and prosperity in that country. The Foundation's former Machel-Mandela Intern, Adrian Kitimbo, also contributed to this theme by analysing the ways in which restrictive immigration policies in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) hobble economic growth in the region.

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