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Africa's Path to Prosperity

Aug. 29, 2016

Officials estimate that in the near future Africa will have a population of 3 billion people and a GDP of 4 trillion dollars. Despite this growth, many African countries and regions are still underdeveloped because of conflict.

The continent is expected to become a bigger market than China and India.

Some have called Africa the "last frontier" of the global economy. A recent report by the IMF found the top 10 fastest-growing economies in the world include 7 African countries after China and India.

This map shows the areas where the UN and the African Union are conducting peacekeeping operations, or PKO. The developmental and economic gap has been widening between stable regions and these areas that have been engaged in conflict.


Daisaku Higashi, a specialist in post-conflict peacebuilding at Sophia University, joined anchor Sho Beppu in the studio.

Beppu: What's your take on the Nairobi Declaration adopted at the TICAD. Will it help?

Higashi: I think it is quite good for Japan to establish some kind of common purpose or goal together with African countries on future development. But as you mentioned, there are several African countries that really suffer from civil war and military conflict. And those countries are falling behind in economic development because it's very difficult for them to implement any economic projects. So how to overcome those military conflicts or civil wars is the biggest challenge for African development, I think.


From Independence to Instability

South Sudan is the only country where Japanese forces are joined to PKO forces.

The country gained independence in 2011, after more than 20 years of civil war. It's now made up of 10 states that used to form the southern part of Sudan.

After independence, the United Nations dispatched more than 7,000 soldiers and police officers as peacekeepers. They came from about 60 countries and included members of Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force.

But the post-independence honeymoon period was short-lived. Within 2 years, tensions between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and troops supporting Vice President Riek Machar boiled over and fighting broke out. Over 50,000 people are reported to have been killed, while more than 2 million people became refugees.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked that the number of peacekeeping troops be doubled.

In August 2015, Kiir and Machar reached a peace deal. It was mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, or IGAD. The East African bloc was chaired by neighboring Ethiopia.

Machar had fled overseas when the fighting broke out. But he returned to the South Sundanese capital, Juba, in April. The 2 rival factions took up positions in the newly established Transitional Government of National Unity.

In July, battles broke out between security forces from both sides during a meeting between Kiir and Machar. Hundreds of people were killed.

Two days later, pro-Kiir forces launched an all-out offensive against Machar's forces. Machar fled Juba again for neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Support groups from other countries were also forced to withdraw. There is now concern that South Sudan could fall into civil war.


Beppu: Professor Higashi, a basic question -- what are they fighting for?

Higashi: I think the basic structure of the conflict in South Sudan is an individual political rivalry between President Kiir and Vice President Machar. And President Kiir is supported by the Dinka, the biggest tribe in South Sudan. And Machar is supported by the Nuer, the second-biggest tribe in South Sudan. So this individual political rivalry actually reflects the ethnic rivalry between the Dinka and Nuer as well.

Beppu: It wasn't so long ago that the international community was celebrating this new country. Why did things change so quickly?

Higashi:I think before independence, both sides worked together because they had a common purpose -- to get out of north Sudan. But once they got independence, it became quite difficult for them to coexist and work together, because both sides have a big ambition to dominate the economy and also the political power.

Beppu: How has the international community been dealing with South Sudan?

Higashi: Mediators like the African Union, IGAD and the United Nations are now thinking of dispatching regional protection forces to create some kind of secure environment in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, so that both sides can work together there. I actually did some research in Nairobi, Kenya, and in Ethiopia on this issue, so I hope we can look at my report.


South Sudan's Power Struggle

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution to dispatch a 4,000-member regional protection force in Juba. The mandate includes protecting the civilian population. The force was requested by IGAD and the African Union, or AU.

"The idea is to simply help them get to implement their agreement," said Haile Mankerios, the UN special representative of the secretary-general to AU. "Their agreement says demilitarize Juba. So demilitarize and security in the city for people, and installations of the government would be done by the joint police. So as they build that capacity it is necessary for an external force, regional force, which would work under the UN to create a secure environment in Juba."

Supporters of President Kiir reacted sharply to the resolution. James Morgan, the South Sudan ambassador to the AU, said that his government would allow the regional protection force to protect refugees and UN officials delivering humanitarian aid. But he said it would not let the UN mission control or maintain security in Juba.

"Our president cannot be protected by a foreign force, the force that we don't know and that we will not accept. The president needs his people near him. We cannot accept somebody coming from far away, and to be put that this is your bodyguard," Morgan said.

Supporters of Vice President Machar welcomed news of the dispatch. They gathered in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, to discuss a course of action. They issued a resolution stating that they aim to overthrow the Kiir regime.

In a news conference 3 days later, Machar's supporters said they'll use both political leverage and military force to achieve their goal.

"People from different groups, different political parties, different thinking, different ideologies, but there is a common purpose to control the regime. That's why we need to come together, and work together whether militarily or politically," said Peter Adwok Nyaba, leader of the opposition group of South Sudan.

"We are fighting -- the war is still on. You know, since they attacked us, it means the war is on. The areas that we control we are now going to expand. So the reason for the war is to reduce, minimize area this government controls until it is completely defeated."


Beppu: What’s the challenge of sending regional protection forces? Will it work?

Higashi: The background of this initiative is actually, when they made a peace agreement last August, it requested both sides to demilitarize Juba. But in the implementation process, both sides actually refused and they had a military clash again. So IGAD and the United Nations want to dispatch these regional protection forces, 4,000 soldiers and a strong combat capability, to Juba so they can create some political stability and both of them can work together by demilitarizing Juba. But as you can see in the report, President Kiir already appointed a new vice president, and he wanted to work together with this new vice president, replacing Mr. Machar. Mr. Machar's side made a decision to overthrow President Kiir through both military and political ways. So this idea of the regional protection forces and the demilitarization of Juba seem to have quite a big challenge ahead.

Beppu: Would this new force be deployed alongside the currently deployed UN peacekeeping forces? And if so, isn't there a danger than they could become one of the parties to the conflict?

Higashi: That's the biggest concern. I mean, the South Sudanese government has a lot of reservations about giving a mandate to these regional protection forces, under the UN, to secure all of Juba. So there might be some tension between the South Sudanese government and these regional protection forces.

Beppu: What do you think the role of Japan could be when it comes to the situation in Sudan and in Africa as a whole?

Higashi: Japan has dispatched 350 Self-Defense Forces under the command of the UN peacekeeping operations. So they will also have a challenge of working together with these regional protection forces in Juba. But for all of Africa, they've established a new goal to make economic development and political stability. The implementation of those goals should be quite challenging and we need to watch the implementation.