Africa – wildlife
North Africa’s wildlife is similar to Europe and northern Asia, deer, steelworms and bumble bees are found here – animal groups that are missing south of the Sahara. The area is considered to be the Palaearctic region.
The rest of the continent has a unique fauna and together with Madagascar constitutes the apotropic region, which is primarily known for its many large mammals: African elephant, white and black rhino, hippopotamus, lion, zebra, giraffe, coffee buffalo and not least the numerous species of antelopes. Africa is the continent that has the most species of large ungulates. The region is also characterized by a large number of mammalian families that are not found elsewhere, such as ospreys, golden moles and wild boars. The bird fauna is not unique, although there are some endemic families, e.g. mouse birds and banana eaters. African bird life is characterized by winter influxes of migratory birds from the north. In South Africa, penguins live. Among the reptiles, especially crocodile and varan are conspicuous, but there are also many snake species, among others. a. several poisonous species such as mamba, cobra and vipers.
Among the approximately 2000 species of freshwater fish are found in old groups of bony fish: bikir, armored eel and African lungfish. The great species richness of cichlids in Lake Victoria, Tanzania and Malawi are also remarkable. In each lake live up to several hundred closely related species, but with each their characteristic way of life.
The wildlife in the African rainforests is not as rich in species as in the South American and Southeast Asian. The savannas, on the other hand, house a very species-rich fauna, which includes most large game species that attract tourists and hunters.
In the desert areas there is a relatively species-rich wildlife; in particular, the Namib Desert is home to a wealth of specially adapted insects and other invertebrates. Sahara’s wildlife is more species-poor, presumably related to the relatively young age of the desert.
The Afrotropic fauna has many features in common with the tropical Asian fauna (e.g. elephants and rhinos). However, certain African animal groups (e.g. carp salmon) have their closest relatives in tropical Central and South America. In the southernmost part of Africa live some groups of invertebrates that are closely related to forms from New Zealand, Australia and southern South America. This propagation pattern is interpreted as the result of continental drift caused by plate tectonics.
According to countryaah, Madagascar belongs geographically to Africa, but the island’s wildlife is very different from the African and is described under Madagascar.
Africa – climate
Most of Africa has a tropical climate. North and south of the broad tropical zone around the equator, the climate is subtropical; the highest mountains in East Africa has a temperate climate.
Africa is thus a hot continent; in most places it is not the temperature that sets the limits for plant growth, but the precipitation, and here there are very big differences. On the west-facing coasts of Central Africa, on the south-coast of West Africa and the east-facing slopes of Madagascar, annual precipitation reaches over 3000 mm, while in the driest desert areas it is below 100 mm.
In large parts of Africa, however, it is not the average annual precipitation that is interesting, but rather the distribution of precipitation by seasons and not least the large variations from year to year. Large parts of the continent are thus characterized by recurring periods of drought: at unpredictable intervals, the rain is completely absent. An average annual precipitation of 400 mm in the Sahel region can have as a background many years largely without precipitation and other years with perhaps 1000 mm. It is also characteristic that in each year there can be very large and completely local differences.
Climate figures for Africa thus cover a very large variety, which has a background in the overall weather systems that characterize the climate. It is first and foremost the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITC) that is a key factor in the climate from South Africa to the Sahara and from Senegal to Somalia. ITK is the area where two hot winds blow against each other (converge); the air rises, cools, and convective precipitation forms. ITK follows the Sun’s annual course; in December at the winter solstice it lies a little north of the southern equator and in June correspondingly a little south of the northern equator. This explains, for example, the rainy season duration in West Africa: On the Guinean coast, the rain comes early (March), the rainy season is long (possibly with a break midway when ITK is furthest north), the precipitation is abundant and there is great certainty of precipitation. Further north, in the Sahel, the rain comes late (June), the rainy season is short, and in some years it does not occur at all.
In East Africa, the climate is also affected by monsoon winds that change seasonally. The heavy summer rainfall (November to March) in Madagascar is due to humid east winds, which from the warm Indian Ocean emit precipitation at the meeting with the continent.
North Africa and southernmost South Africa are located in the subtropical winter rainfall area with mild, humid winters and dry, hot summers. Here the precipitation is especially front rain connected to the eastward front systems over the Atlantic Ocean, and the amount of precipitation is reduced to the east. Areas in Libya, Egypt and the interior of South Africa are thus largely without precipitation, and here are also some of the warmest places in the world.
Contemporary History of Mozambique
Mozambique’s contemporary history is the country’s history after 1990.
At the beginning of the 1990s, Mozambique was ruled by the Frelimo party and a war against the opposition party Renamo was just over. It was one of the poorest countries in the world, most of the population depended on self-storage farming and had very poor access to education and health services. The country depended on foreign aid, was heavily indebted and plagued by corruption.
Almost three decades later, these traits were still descriptive. Meanwhile, important experiences had also changed Mozambique: Repeated successful elections have consolidated the idea of a democratic regime, peace has been restored twice and a new middle class has gained experience with prosperity and a cosmopolitan way of life.
Peace agreement between Frelimo and Renamo
In 1992, the nearly 16-year civil war ended between the Frelimo government and Renamo, which had cost hundreds of thousands of lives, created great distress and poverty and destroyed the country’s infrastructure. The peace agreement, signed in October 1992 by President Joaquim Chissano and Renamo’s leader Afonso Dhlakama, laid the foundations for a peaceful development for two decades. The agreement meant free elections and decentralization, while Renamo’s soldiers were to be integrated into civilian life. A clause in the agreement would be of great importance, namely that Dhlakama should keep a small group of men under arms as a personal “life guard”.
UN strengths United Nations Operation in Mozambique monitored the peace process, and in the period from 1992 to 1994, the country was practically under UN administration. The first free elections to the Legislative Assembly and the President of the Republic were held without an outbreak of violence in October 1994, and the UN forces left the country in 1995.
Peace and rain – with persistent poverty
A drought period in the 1980s had aggravated the need for war, and many – probably the majority – were also malnourished, ill and completely or almost without schooling. The 1990s were a better decade: The rains returned and peace allowed people to return to their agricultural lands – although landmines from both the colonial and civil wars continued to cause problems. While old diseases such as malaria and cholera continued to take human lives, the 1990s brought another nuisance: the HIV epidemic hit Mozambique with high rates of infection.
Most rural areas in Mozambique – where the majority live and operate small-scale agriculture – after the war were almost entirely without public welfare services, and with only a very limited state administration. In the cities, much of the infrastructure was worn down or destroyed, and the country was virtually devoid of industrial production. There was peace, but little to build on.
The assistance’s entry
In this situation came a massive influx of aid actors: numerous NGOs, large funds, state-to-state aid, and so-called multinational organizations. The major UN organizations, the World Bank and the IMF led the way. The assistance affected Mozambican society and politics for the next 20 years, both at local level and in political negotiations with the government. The government negotiated with the crowd of donors, and was in practice just as responsible to the donor unions as it was to their own elected parliament.
Throughout the 1990s, the IMF and the World Bank’s structural adjustment policy were decisive and had major consequences in Mozambique. These became central examples in the debate on structural adjustment, and even the IMF admitted that they were largely wrong.
In the 2000s, around half of public payments in Mozambique came from aid. According to the OECD, the country received official foreign aid worth about $ 1.7 billion on an annual average that decade. The assistance was divided between direct budget support, sector support (health, education, agriculture), and many thousands of smaller projects. Up to 2014, annual OECD aid increased to $ 2.1 billion, then dropped dramatically (see the section on “Nyusi Time”).
Mozambique has always been among the ten least developed countries on the UN index of human development. Consumption-based poverty rates fell from 70 percent to 53 percent of the population between 1996 and 2003, but then far slower to 46 percent in 2014. Due to high population growth, in 2014 there were as many poor people in Mozambique as in 1996, despite the relative decline. In the cities it established a middle class and some very wealthy, so that economic inequality has become a major development.
Chissano time: Frelimo’s party state continues
Frelimo’s political elite became the core of the country’s business elite, especially during the privatization process of the 1990s. The leaders established themselves as business people, including Presidents Joaquim Chissano and Armando Guebuza. Several scandals in the banking system around 2000 – whose disclosures resulted in the murders of renowned journalist Carlos Cardoso (married to Norwegian Nina Berg) and bank manager Siba-Siba Macuacua – showed that Frelimo politicians received favorable public loans and the state’s values on cheap sales. Eventually, membership or closeness to party leaders became the path to prosperity.
After independence, the Frelimo party had monopolized the state apparatus. But the new liberal constitution enabled Frelimo to retain all executive power even after the multi-party elections. Since the president can designate government, as well as the entire central and local state apparatus, it was enough to win the presidential elections – and Frelimo won all five between 1994 and 2014. The opposition was thus unable to turn the high number of votes in the parliamentary elections, on average, to one form for executive power. Frelimo’s party organization effectively excluded opposition from positions of power. This is how Frelimo’s party state was continued.
The exception where the opposition has escaped is the cities where, from 1997, municipalities with a political leadership elected in local elections were introduced. The majority of the country’s population still lives in rural areas where local elections are not held and where local administration is appointed by Frelimo’s provincial governors.
Guebuza era: Growth, corruption, debt and new war
As the country’s president from 1986 to 2004, Joaquim Chissano was respected by the “West” for his willingness to make peace with Renamo and for his close cooperation with the aid system. Mozambique became known as “the favorite of donors” and one of the stars of the stories of “Africa in growth”. But Chissano also ensured continued dominance for Frelimo and allowed ever higher levels of public corruption.
These two developments accelerated under the next president, Armando Guebuza. He was another of Frelimo’s leaders from the liberation war, and known as one of the party’s “hawks” in relation to Renamo and the opposition. Guebuza himself became one of the country’s richest men during the presidential term and had interests in many companies and sectors. Guebuza further strengthened the party’s role in the state apparatus, and used public budgets to favor Frelimo’s supporters in large numbers (often referred to as “systemic clienteleism “).
In the 2000s, Mozambique experienced very high economic growth, averaging over 7 percent annually. In particular, two conditions strengthened Guebuza’s position and made him relatively less dependent on Western aid providers than his predecessor: China’s increased presence in Africa with offers of affordable loans and rapid infrastructure development, and the discovery of large natural resources such as coal, minerals and large offshore gas resources. of northern Mozambique.
While real industrial development was waiting, expectations of skyrocketing revenue from natural resource extraction increased rapidly. This triggered a boom in infrastructure, finance, services and real estate, which was ultimately financed by loans. Economic growth and resource optimism abruptly subsided as commodity prices fell from 2014. After having almost all of the national debt cleared in 2005 (see the HIPC initiative), Mozambique in 2016 once again became one of the world’s most indebted countries with a government debt of more than 100 per cent of GDP.
Guebuza’s authoritarian leadership style and favoring Frelimo with the state’s resources gave increasing indignation in broad strata. After controversy surrounding the election in 2009, Renamo’s frustration over persistent exclusion escalated. From 2013, therefore, the war with Renamo flared up again. Renamo declared the 1992 peace agreement null and void, and party leader Afonso Dhlakama moved his headquarters to the “bush” in Gorongosa, joining his military forces (the “presidential bodyguard”, from the peace agreement). Fighting was limited, but it led to tens of thousands of refugees and general uncertainty.
When Filipe Nyusi took over as president in 2015, after another election victory for Frelimo, he inherited major problems. The war had flared up and the economy was in crisis.
Nyusi faced the first problem with a new course: He replaced the open enmity between Dhlakama and Guebuza with peace talks. Where the Guebuza government forces had tried to kill Dhlakama, Nyusi traveled to Gorongosa to meet him. The final peace agreement between the two was never fully implemented until Dhlakama died in 2018.
The second problem was far worse, and possibly Nyusi himself was creating it: In 2016, it came to a day that the country’s security services – during Nyusi’s time as defense minister – had secretly taken out loans in European and Russian banks, totaling over two billion. This was clearly contrary to agreements with foreign donors and Mozambican law. The crisis of confidence that created this led to many of the foreign donors withdrawing much of the support, so that total aid fell by about 30 per cent from 2014 to 2016. It is not clear what the entire loans were used for, but it is suspected that it has gone to to finance the war against Renamo, but also to personal enrichment for the backers. No one has been held responsible, and the case was not properly investigated.
The scandal caused Mozambican debt to skyrocket, and creditworthiness became among the lowest in the world. In 2017, Mozambique officially declared itself unable to service its foreign debt. The aftermath of this scandal has characterized Mozambican politics since 2016, where the central question has been whether the authorities will hold the backers accountable, even though they should prove to be central leaders in Frelimo.