IOA Position Papers

US gutting of conflict minerals law will destabilise Central Africa

A US soldier surveys a sprawling refugee settlement on the boundary of Bangui International Airport, Central African Republic. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by conflict in the country that the gutting of the US Dodd-Frank Act threatens to exacerbate. Photo courtesy USAFE AFAFRICA/Flickr

A US soldier surveys a sprawling refugee settlement on the boundary of Bangui International Airport, Central African Republic. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by conflict in the country that the gutting of the US Dodd-Frank Act threatens to exacerbate.
Photo courtesy USAFE AFAFRICA/Flickr

IOA Analysis in briefTo spare US companies accounting costs, the new US presidential administration may end due diligence measures that retard the sale of minerals which finance Central African insurgencies and terror groups.

 Key points:

  • The Dodd-Frank Act as amended in 2015 requires US companies to verify the origin of minerals from 10 African states where they may have been smuggled
  • The new US presidential administration is on the verge of scrapping the conflict mineral avoidance measures in an anti-regulation campaign gone awry
  • If Central African governments could tackle corruption and make the mining industry legitimate, the trade in conflict minerals would dry up at its source

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Thinking outside the box? The up-cycled architecture of building with shipping containers

Brilliant in colour and execution. SEED Library II in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg, South Africa, was assembled quickly and inexpensively from recycled shipping containers. Kids are attracted by the building's whimsical appearance. Photo courtesy Andrew Moore/flickr

Brilliant in colour and execution. SEED Library II in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg, South Africa, was assembled quickly and inexpensively from recycled shipping containers. Kids are attracted by the building’s whimsical appearance. Photo courtesy: Andrew Moore/flickr

IOA analysis in brief | A global surplus of shipping containers, those metal boxes big enough to be large rooms, coincides with a need for inexpensive solutions to Africa’s housing needs. However, imaginative architects have fashioned containers into libraries, schools and offices of remarkable utility and playful beauty.

 Key points:

  • Extending 9 metres in length, single containers can be converted into homes or stacked together to make larger structures
  • Current uses for container conversions are clinics, schools, staff housing and offices
  • Large buildings erected from containers cost 25% less than brick and mortar buildings

By re-imaging containers, affordable housing and public buildings are sprouting up in colourful, boldly-angular displays. Africa is witnessing a wave of recycling that is inspiring a new field of architecture.

Shipping containers, those 6 or 9 metre long rectangular metal boxes stacked like blocks on railway cars or on the decks of sea freighters, have been providing quick and easy solutions to a variety of building needs in Africa for 20 years. From the days when discarded containers were used as improvised housing by the poor, designs today that resemble mobile homes provide compact kitchen and bathroom facilities beside sleeping quarters. Because they are metal set beneath the African sun, the transformed boxes are equipped with air conditioning.

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Is Nigeria’s consumer class stimulating FDI? A critical analysis of emergent economic influence.

By Carla Sterley[1]

IOA analysis in brief | As Nigeria’s middle class has developed, opportunities for growth in the country’s consumer sector have emerged. This has sparked the interest of Multinational Corporations (MNCs) looking for investment opportunities in Africa, allowing for Nigeria to open their economy to international players.

Key points:

  • Nigeria’s consumer class is expanding, resulting in a rise in consumption of consumer goods
  • Increased consumption means that opportunities for investment by global players in the retail industry have increased
  • This economic influence has both positive and negative implications for the population’s financial future

Nigeria’s middle class is influencing the country’s international economic outlook, allowing for increased foreign direct investment (FDI) opportunities in the consumer industry.  The West African country, which is one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, is home to a growing middle class – a consequence of a strong economy, high rate of urbanisation and the growth of educated professionals earning competitive salaries. This development has resulted in a middle class economic outlook and the transformation of a demand-driven economy. This is especially evident in the consumables and electronics sectors of the state’s economy. Demand for goods has stimulated interest from foreign investors, generating additional FDI.

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How autonomous trains will drive African railway

When Africa's first high-speed rail system begins service in Morocco in 2018, travel time from Tangier to Casablanca will be cut in half, from five hours to 2 hrs 10 min. Here an engine is being loaded onto a customised truck for transport to the railroad. Africa is constantly improving its rail systems, and autonomous trains will be the next essential innovation. Image courtesy: Morocco World News https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2015/07/162167/in-pictures-moroccos-tgv-africas-first-high-speed-train/

When Africa’s first high-speed rail system begins service in Morocco in 2018, travel time from Tangier to Casablanca will be cut in half, from five hours to 2 hrs 10 min. Here an engine is being loaded onto a customised truck for transport to the railroad. Africa is constantly improving its rail systems, and autonomous trains will be the next essential innovation. Image courtesy: Morocco World News. Available from: https://tinyurl.com/hukpyqw

While upgrading national systems with an eye at a unified continental system, African railways won’t be left behind in the next technological leap toward self-driving transportation.

 

IOA analysis in briefTrains will drive themselves across Africa’s terrain in the near future, with the technology available today to make autonomous engines that are safer, more efficient, reliable and environmentally friendly than the human-driven type. If Africa’s rail systems do not adapt to the new technology, they will become extinct in a new age of self-driving long haul truck transportation.

Key points:

  • Autonomous trains are a reality today, but require massive spending on new technology
  • Most African railroads are owned by governments or linked to governments, which hinders adaptability and innovation
  • Africa is dedicated to its rail system, with 11,000 km of new line now being built at a cost of US$ 30 billion

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Community engagement and capacity-building in protection: United Nations peacekeeping during African conflicts

Civilians are the primary agents in their own protection, and international actors have only recently begun to support civilian self-protection efforts. Engaging locals in their own protection, however, does not come without challenges. 

Written by Leigh Hamilton

The protection of civilians during conflicts is one of the UN’s most significant undertakings. While the humanitarian branches of the organisation perform protection activities, it is mostly UN peacekeepers who act to prevent or respond to threats of physical violence against civilians. The UN Security Council first authorised peacekeepers to use force to protect civilians in 1999 during the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). Since then, the UN has launched 17 peacekeeping missions, the majority of which have been mandated to protect civilians. Some missions, such as the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), have mandates that make the protection of civilians the mission’s chief priority. Read more