Why Africa Should Be High On Donald Trump’s List Of Priorities By Ricardo Reboredo

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Amid all the confusion over Donald Trump’s presidency, there are few clues about how his administration will approach the US’s relationship with Africa. The continent was rarely mentioned in the run-up to election day, and so far, Trump’s only foray into African politics has been a pair of phone calls – one to President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, and one to President Jacob Zuma of South Africa.

But an examination of Trump’s rhetoric, likely priorities, and the economic realities facing Africa, paints a bleak picture for the continent over the next four years. A large scale re-examination of economic and political allegiances may be on the cards.

Security will likely be the dominant issue during the Trump administration. “Eliminating” Islamic terrorism is apparently one of the cornerstones of his foreign policy. So with Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, and other groups operating throughout parts of the Africa, there are plenty of opportunities for close cooperation.

Indeed, security was the main topic touched upon in the phone calls to both African leaders. According to one of President Buhari’s aides, Trump told the Nigerian president that the US was willing to help Nigeria obtain “new military weapons to combat terrorism”.

The US’s presence on the continent is already highly militarised. The superpower has bases and security facilities spread across countries including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti, Kenya, Niger and Uganda. But an increasingly militarised view of the continent may hasten the decline of US soft power, especially if combined with expected changes to American trade and aid policies.

African economies remain highly dependent on the extraction and export of natural resources such as gold, diamonds and other metals. But economic progress simply has not happened on a large enough scale throughout the continent. The apparent surge which led to talk in the media of “Africa Rising” was a combination of high commodity prices, debt relief programs and a glut of primary sector foreign investment. In fact, Africa’s position within the international labour market remains largely unchanged from the late colonial period.

The US’s main trade agreement on the continent, the “African Growth and Opportunity Act” (AGOA), was designed to stimulate manufacturing growth by providing certain African entrepreneurs tariff free access to the US market. This two way trade is valued at approximately US$36 billion.

The AGOA supports approximately 120,000 export related jobs within the US and does not expire until 2025. However, recent evidence suggests that foreign entrepreneurs, mostly of Chinese origin, have often been the main beneficiaries. Detractors contend that the AGOA has been used as a backdoor to get Chinese goods into the US. Despite these reports, it is important to note these manufacturing clusters provide employment opportunities for thousands of Africans and encourage technology and skills transfers which can boost local growth.

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The US contributes approximately US$8 billion worth of aid to the continent every year. This comes largely in the form of money spent on social services, poverty alleviation, health and education. While these are certainly worthy endeavours, this sort of assistance tends to only deal with development indirectly.

In addition, Africa is currently facing an enormous decline in spending on infrastructure. Unfortunately, this is not an area ripe for US intervention. American multinational corporations do not typically consider large-scale African infrastructure projects to be profitable investments.

Chinese power

Chinese companies on the other hand, which take into consideration the benefits of political returns as well as profits, have undertaken a massive infrastructure building program throughout the continent. With current projects including railways in Nigeria and Kenya, and a dam in Ghana, China has been positioning itself as a major influence across Africa for decades. The Chinese Communist Party views the continent as a crucial region for China’s domestic development, providing vital resources as well as market access.

South Africa in particular has moved towards strong economic and political integration with China. The relationship between the two countries has been described by one commentator as an “inexplicable love affair”.

If other nations start to see the opportunities that China sees, Africa may enjoy an escalation of competition for resources and market access. To compete with an increasingly visible and well-liked China, the US must supplement current policies designed to support the continent. Whether President Trump has an appetite for this remains to be seen. In the age of “America first”, we do not yet know where Africa will be ranked by the current resident of the White House.

 

GEOGRAPHY STUDENT HELEN PECK WINS BLOG PRIZE

During Michaelmas term, Senior Sophister students were invited by the Careers Advisory Service to participate in a Blog Challenge in which students wrote a 500-word blog describing their summer work experience. EisnerAmper Ireland very kindly sponsored this Summer Blog Challenge 2016 and offered 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes to the winning writers.

See http://www.tcd.ie/Careers/vacancies/competitions/view.php?articleId=1109

Second place was awarded to Helen Peck – SS TSM Geography and Sociology.

Congratulations Helen!!!!!!!!!

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Extracts from her blog can be read below:
A Summer Full of Experiences

In the summer of 2016 I gained a place in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Student Summer Programme which ran for twelve weeks and was a paid internship. My role was as Research Intern for the Research Team.

I gained invaluable experience helping to manage the administration of this research process and gained knowledge and skills through my presentations at Research meetings. I decided to set my objectives early, and to hone both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills that are required in a successful career. From a ‘hard’ skill perspective, my IT skills improved vastly in data management with complex databases. Equally important to me were the ‘soft’ skills of team work. The Research Team was such a friendly and dedicated group of researchers, it was a pleasure, rather than a chore, to improve my communication and team-working skills with them.

My supervisors, Alice Wemaere and Aisling O’Connor, were inspiring mentors. They were always keen for me to attend Research Working Group meetings and present my internship work.  Presenting at the National Overview Committee Meeting increased my confidence in public speaking, a long-time personal goal of mine.

Final year at Trinity is now upon me, and I know the intern work has benefitted me as a future graduate.

My course currently does not include compulsory work placement, so I acted to fill this gap in practical experience. I have gained and improved many skills and have made invaluable connections in the areas of environmental conservation/protection for my future career.

 

DISTINGUISHED INTERNATIONAL LECTURERS IN GEOGRAPHY

Cian O’Callaghan and Cesare Di Feliciantonio will host a workshop on the IRC-funded project “The New Urban Ruins: Vacancy and the Post-Crisis City” from 1-3 March in Trinity College Dublin. This workshop proposes will explore how contestations over the reuse of vacant spaces can be used to think about cities and urbanisation in new ways.  Topics covered include the central role that vacancy played in recent property crashes, debates about urban shrinkage, the popularity of new approaches to temporary urbanism, and critical discussions of ruins. The central hypothesis is the vacant space will play a key role in determining how cities of the future respond to the both urban problems and wider global challenges. Keynote speakers include Dr. Christina Lee (Curtin University, Perth Australia), Prof. Karen Till (Maynooth University, Ireland), Dr. Alexander Vasudevan (Oxford, UK).

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TRINITY-UCD MASTERS IN DEVELOPMENT PRACTICE (MDP) MODULE IN CLIMATE CHANGE, JUSTICE AND DEVELOPMENT HOST MRS MARY ROBINSON

The Trinity-UCD Masters in Development Practice (MDP) module in Climate Change, Justice and Development  hosted Mrs Mary Robinson for a lecture entitled – “Climate Justice: preserving dignity in the face of adversity” on Wednesday 15th February 2017.

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The lecture highlighted the following points:

  • Climate Justice is concerned with the moral argument (on the side of those suffering the most from climate impacts and that they share the benefits)
  • There is the need for constructive, open multilateralism and a radical and just transition
  • The “right to a healthy environment” had not been included in early documentation but now it is recognised in legal documents
  • The biggest challenge is not avoiding catastrophic climate impacts, but avoiding them whilst also enabling development
  • The more we can mitigate, the less we need to adapt
  • Energy is the engine of development. People cannot be denied this right but there is the need to ensure access to clean energy which will require technology transfer and investment
  • The Paris agreement was a crucial step forward; the current concern is about putting it into place and holding countries accountable
  • Legal systems and legal checks and balances must be in place
  • How we react and our response in the face of adversity is key. For example, concerning the Dakota pipeline, Seattle voted to divest from Wells Fargo
  • How do we encourage people to have a sense of personal responsibility towards climate change? Talk to them as parents and grandparents on the impacts climate change will have on future generations

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SURPASS, FUTURE CITIES RESEARCH CENTRE SEEKS POST-DOC RESEARCHER

The Future Cities Research Centre at Trinity College, the University of Dublin, is seeking one Post-Doctorate Researcher to work with Professor Federico Cugurullo (Geography) and Professor Ivana Dusparic (Computer Science) on the IRC-funded project SURPASS: how shared autonomous cars will transform cities.

See job specification in attached link………….

https://www.scss.tcd.ie/Ivana.Dusparic/documents/surpassPostdocGeography.pdf

 

NEW POSTGRADUATE IN TCD GEOGRAPHY

A warm welcome to Mr Maxime Savatier!!!!! 

Maxime will be working with Dr Carlos Rocha on an iCRAG funded project that explores the effect of groundwater/surface interactions on the biology and chemistry of coastal areas hosting aquaculture activities.

As a result of human activities (eg: agriculture), an increasing input of nutrient coming from land through groundwater and rivers is widely observed on coastal areas. This additional input of nutrient may have significant effect on ocean chemistry and ecosystems (eg: Eutrophication, algae bloom), which in turn have a negative economic impact on human activities (eg: aquaculture, fisheries).

Less visible than river discharge, Submarine Groundwater Discharge is however one of the main sources of water and material pathway to the ocean, and a major nutrient source for coastal areas. Maxime’s project will therefore aim to estimate its influence of Submarine Groundwater Discharge on coastal areas, and its effect on the nutrient balance, in different geological settings in Ireland. Water budget and nutrient balance in the different sites of study will be built, and the economic impact of SGD will be also estimated. This research output and the associated projects may provide guidance for policy makers that have to deal with water management, ecosystem and/or aquaculture in coastal areas.

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Biography:

I graduated with a double MSc in Hydrogeology (Lasalle Beauvais, France) and an MSc in Environmental Water Management (Cranfield University, UK).

I then had a short experience in contaminated site management consultancy at Paris, before joining iCRAG and the Trinity College Biochemistry Research team in 2016, under the supervision of Prof. Carlos Rocha.

I see the need to create a link between disciplines in order to create new ideas and limit the negative consequences of our actions. When possible, science, economics and social aspects should be considered as a whole. Therefore, being part of a pluridisciplinary research environment such as Trinity College is a great opportunity to contribute to the development of this link.

THE GENTRIFICATION OF MY LOCAL AREA BY RORY TISDALL

I live and have so my whole life in an area with no fixed name between Portobello to the south and the Liberties to the north with Leonard’s Corner as the epicenter. Throughout my life, I have noticed gradual changes in the area. What I have noticed is the gentrification of the area. This gentrification would have begun before I was born but has intensified in more recent years.

The term gentrification was coined by Ruth Glass in 1964 in relation to her concerns about the accelerating rehabilitation of Victorian lodging houses in London, particularly Islington, the tenurial transformation from renting to ownership, property price increase, and the displacement of working class occupiers by middle class incomers. Gentrification put simply is the process of revival and renovation of deteriorated urban neighbourhoods and districts by the buying and renovation of houses or shops by upper or middle income families or individuals. Thus improving property values but often displacing low income families and small businesses that were there beforehand (Slater, 2010). I have seen this happen in my area first hand.

The area came into existence when an area of private estates and farmland was transformed into solid red bricked Victorian living quarters for the middle classes on the larger streets and terraced houses for the working classes. The houses in the area would have been the first to be built along the South Circular Road. The first being built in the 1860s. Some of the houses were built by the Dublin Artisan Dwelling Company (Casey, 2006). Gradually the more upper class families would have left the inner city, leaving the bigger houses to be subdivided up into bed sits for lower income individuals. Between the late 1800s and the end of world war II there was a large Jewish community present in the area, with the area being known as little Jerusalem (Keogh, 1998). By the 1960s the area would have been largely a working class area. Today this is not the case.

Today in my eyes the area is largely moving to that of a middle class area such as Rathmines or Ranelagh thanks to gentrification. So in some respects it is returning to the type of area it once was when houses here were first built. Where it was a predominantly affluent area. This can be seen through everyday life in the area. House prices have gone up. Nicer cars can be seen parked around the area. More and more houses are being renovated. The type of people in the neighbourhood has changed. The neighbourhood has become more affluent with international movie and sports stars now living in the area. Perception of the area in the media has improved. People have begun to call the area as a whole Portobello when Portobello has historically only been the area to the south of South Circular Road. People will brand areas with a name that is not entirely true to enhance its reputation, a factor in gentrification (Ortega, 20100).

One major difference has been the changing retail spaces of the area, which I will look at in detail. There has been a huge influx in boutique coffee shops in the area. When I was growing up I cannot recall one coffee shop in the local vicinity and now there are at least ten within a stone’s throw away. Coffee shops have long been seen as a metric for gentrification. In the research paper “More Coffee, Less Crime? The Relationship between Gentrification and Neighborhood Crime Rates in Chicago, 1991 to 2005” they looked at this. They wrote “Coffee sellers use specific marketing language to recreate high-culture ideas tied to art and philosophy for its customers, targeting an ideal bourgeois patron.” They went on to discuss that they are “Not dealing in a necessary comestible product, such as milk or bread, but rather a status product, coffee shops are integral to the leisure and lifestyle amenities package so attractive to urban gentrifiers. In a post-need economy, coffee shops meet the urban consumer’s demands for a space to meet friends or use the Internet, demands which were mostly absent from the neighborhood’s prior population.” They saw that measuring the number of coffee shops located in a neighborhood each year provides an almost real time measure of gentrification (Papachristos et al., 2011). Thus the rapid expansion of the coffee shop industry in my locality shows the fast gentrification of the area.

Map showing the influx of cafes in the area

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Blue pins indicate cafes.
It would take about ten minutes to walk from one corner of the map to the other, to put it in perspective.

The Changing Retail Spaces of the Area

Brother Hubbard café, Harrington Street

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With the slogan “the café you’ve been looking for” really enforcing that this is a status product for the upper and middle classes. This space used to be an Apache Pizza takeaway when I was growing up. As the new middle class gentry of the area do not want cheap pizza but overpriced coffee, soup and sandwiches. The changing of this space from takeaway pizza shop to up market café shows the gentrification of the area greatly as takeaway pizza would have been more a custom with lower income individuals who would have previously inhabited the area.

Little Bird coffee/yoga, South Circular Road

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This space is now both a café and yoga studio located on South Circular Road. Up until about two years ago it was a family run newsagents which was put out of business by a larger Tesco express store opening up a few doors down. This space shows gentrification as a small family run business was put out of business by a multi-national company opening up right next store with whom they were not able to compete with. Then an entrepreneur saw the space and opened up a business that could thrive with the new clientele in the area.

Tesco Express, South Circular Road

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Before Tesco this was a Nationwide bank. There are two Tesco expresses just like this in the local area. This invasion into the area of the multinational grocery Tesco truly shows gentrification as it has pushed the smaller family run businesses out of the market place, as they can’t compete with their buying and selling power. Such as the newsagents where Little Bird now resides.

The Headline Bar, Leonard’s corner

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The Headline Bar on Leonard’s corner is prime example of a retail space changing in line with the tastes of the new middle class locals. In recent years the bar has undergone a total overhaul. It no longer serves the regular beverages served in most pubs such as Guinness, Heineken, Smithwicks etc. but only serving Irish and international craft beer along with only independent Irish Gin & Whiskey. Its interior has over gone a makeover, getting rid of the old pub feel. They have also changed their food menu, which is no longer your average run of the mill pub grub but an extensive menu with everything from calamari to goulash. This is a clear business model to attract a certain clientele. Also to deter old locals they no longer have any televisions to broadcast sporting events, which would have been popular with older locals. The changing of this bar clearly shows gentrification in the area.

Noshington Café, South Circular Road

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Bibi’s Café, Emorville Avenue

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Originally spaces like these would have been small family run newsagents. However this would have been over twenty years ago. They would have lain vacant for years in between now and then. Recently more and more cafés like these have popped up in the area. They are clearly marketed at middle to upper class people with their menus, price range and style. They show clearly the gentrification of the area.

Gaillot et Gray, Clanbrassil Street Lower

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This is a Café and bakery in the morning and then a French styled pizzeria in the afternoon. The space was formerly a bookmaker. Bookmakers have always been more popular with the lower classes then the middle to upper classes. This new bakery pizzeria is clearly targeting the middle and upper classes that have moved into the area with their artisan breads, pizzas, and speciality coffee and indigenous herbal teas.

All of these businesses represent the gentrification of the area. Many of the businesses that have been replaced were akin with the likes of the working class such as takeaways, family run newsagents and bookmakers. While the new business ventures are geared to that of middle and upper class tastes such as boutique coffee shops, artisan pizzerias and craft beer pubs. It is yet to be seen if this gentrification is a positive or negative for the area. I would believe the answer to this depends on your own personal situation. If you are middle class you would see this as a positive for the area while if you are from a lower class background you would certainly have a different view of this rapidly changing area as you are increasingly feeling somewhat out of place in the area.

 

Bibliography

Casey, C. (2006) Dublin: The City Within the Grand and Royal Canals and the Circular Road, with the Phoenix Park (Pevsner Architectural Guides: Buildings of Ireland). Yale University Press.

Google Maps, (2016) Map of Dublin. (Online). Google. Available from: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=1xefCOa13p2zoWyfY7Bzz3vhXYfY&ll=53.341638085351754%2C-6.270148455541971&z=15 (Accessed 10 November 2016)

Keogh, D. (1998) Jews in Twentieth-century Ireland. Cork: Cork University Press. pp. 64–70. ISBN 978-1-85918-150-8.

Ortega, A. (2010) The Disputed Neighborhood: Gentrification of “East Williamsburg” and Identity in the Shared Space. Article 1, Volume 5. Hofstra University Papers in Anthropology.

Papachristos, A. V., Smith, C. M., Scherer, M. L. and Fugiero, M. A. (2011), More Coffee, Less Crime? The Relationship between Gentrification and Neighborhood Crime Rates in Chicago, 1991 to 2005. City & Community, 10: 215–240. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6040.2011.01371.x

Slater, T. (2010) Gentrification of the City, The New Blackwell Companion to the City. New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell

Slater, T. (2015) “Planetary Rent Gaps”, Antipode, DOI: 10.1111/anti.12185

Tisdall, R. (2016) All Photos