This Week in Africa
January 27, 2023
I’ve been saying this for years: Is Africa the next big thing for international admissions? Here is the week in Africa:
Quote of the week
“The best we can do is to inform Ugandans that these projects are risky. They will affect your agriculture, they will affect your fisheries, they will affect your tourism, they will affect your lives.” – Environmental advocate Dickens Kamugisha
Young voters can shake up the elections (the voting-age population is very young). Presidential hopefuls make vague promises on security. Where will Nigerians decide?
Next steps in Sudan
Sudan’s young revolutionaries are languishing in prison on trumped up charges. Learn more about the everyday politics of Sudan’s tax system. Who is included—and is not—in Sudan’s political negotiations?
Freedom of speech under threat
The mysterious death of independent journalist John Williams Ntwali illustrates continued repression in Rwanda. Swazi activist Thulani Maseko was shot dead at his home. This is a chilling account of the policeman accused of presiding over the death of 43 people in Mathare, Kenya. Justice is needed for the October crackdown in Chad. Threats to press freedom take different forms across the continent.
Security and instability
This is a good overview: War and no peace in Southern Cameroons. Is Cameroon close to peace? Eritrean troops are leaving Tigray. Ken Opalo makes sense of the Tigray conflict. Christof Vogel and Judith Verweijen explain false narratives in the DR Congo conflict. Max Gallien explains the Maghreb’s peripheral centers in permanent crisis. Mogadishu residents are tired of being labeled “resilient” after constant Al-Shabaab bombings. Why has violence escalated in Bawku in northern Ghana? Why is CAR war-torn while has Rwanda a strong state?
African international relations
Hannah Ryder discusses what to expect in China-Africa relations this year. US, Chinese, and Russian officials scramble to visit Africa. Elizabeth Schmidt argues that US policy toward Ethiopia is a story of cynicism and self-interest. France will pull troops out of Burkina Faso.
Struggle for rights and freedom
Listen to this great podcast on youth engagement in the MENA. More police won’t solve ANC’s crime crisis. Check out SIDA’s briefing on Women’s Participation in Politics. This is how Congolese elites use football to hold onto power and build their reputations. Benin continues its authoritarian drift. Dan Paget explains opposition politics in Tanzania. The Ibrahim Index of African Governance finds that Africa has become less stable, secure, and democratic in the past decade. Nordic Africa Institute researchers ask: Creating belonging or ruling by exclusion?
Africa’s rapid urbanization
Happy 447 year anniversary, Luanda! Zimbabwe plans a new city for the rich. This post quantifies sustainable urbanisation pathways in developing country cities. There is high demand and low supply for affordable housing in Kampala. This is a good agenda for research on climate change and informal workers. Astrid Haas explains how to unlock financing for urbanization. The promise of online bodas. Learn more about democratizing data on urban land ownership. Make sure to check out Power and Informality in Africa: Ethnographic Perspectives.
And a must read: Jesper Bjarnesen’s “The Power of Impending Zoning: Governance through Inaction in a Secondary City in Burkina Faso.”
Reflections on intersectionality in migration research. ACLED releases its Conflict Severity Index. This looks interesting: “The global land rush and agricultural investment in Ghana.” Learn more about race, class, and gender in Kampala through the life of children’s writer Barbara Kimenya. Check out these articles on Libya and organized crime. Here are some responses to whether the world is really experiencing democratic backsliding. This is an important article on the history of dictatorship in precolonial and colonial Uganda. Liisa Laakso and Kajsa Hallberg Adu write about decolonizing the curriculum in the study of Africa.
Some great books are coming out. Erin Pettigrew’s Invoking The Invisible in the Sahara: Islam, Spiritual Mediation, and Social Change is here. Noah Nathan’s The Scarce State: Inequality and Political Power in the Hinterland is available for pre-order. This thread and blog post provides an excellent overview about it contributions to studies of historical political economy. Marie-Eve Desrosiers’ Trajectories of Authoritarianism in Rwanda: Elusive Control before the Genocide (thread here) looks fantastic.
The week in development
Malawi had nearly wiped out cholera, but a recent outbreak killed more than 1000 people. This is a helpful thread about vaccine procurement in Ghana. This is cool: First steps toward building respectful development.
Three African entrepreneurs explain their success. The Bayes Brief could help reform the foreign policy memo process (and has insights for general policy briefs). Africa will shape the future of the mobile phone business. The oil thieves of Nigeria. Where is wealth concentrated in Africa? Why has Ghana’s debt restructuring stalled? Will Germany shape its future with Africa?
Tech in Africa
Cities are geopolitical testbeds of digital infrastructure. Meta is urged to boost content moderation as contractor quits. Twitter’s job cuts are fueling misinformation on the continent. Is the spread of Uber across Africa a form of imperial exploitation?
Africa and the environment
What will African development in an era of climate change look like? Power cuts in South Africa are playing havoc with the country’s water system. Portugal agrees to swap Cape Verde’s debt for environmental investment. The country is on the front lines. This is how South Africa’s energy crisis became an economic crisis. Climate change will continue to threaten Africa’s food production. Climate change is fueling conflict and migration in the Lake Chad region. While Uganda hails oil production, critics fear environmental costs.
GLD is currently looking for two postdocs to work on its Local Governance Process Indicators (LGPI). The first postdoc will engage in the research underpinning the LGPI. The full description and application requirements can be found here. The second position is heavily quantitative in nature and will focus on the computational and statistical development of the LGPI. The full description and application requirements can be found here. Both positions are full-time, 2-year, residential positions with flexible starting dates in 2023. GLD is an amazing place to work!
UNESCO names Senegal as the true home to Jollof Rice. Though Ken Opalo says it best: “There’s a metaphor in there about Paris-based UNESCO allegedly being the decider of the Jollof Wars.” This is a cool postcard: The InterContinental Nairobi in 1970. Kenya in Ethiopia. A conversation on Africa’s displaced film archives. The NBA is in talks to hold a preseason game in Africa. Shanty Town (Lagos on Netflix)!
All the best,
Jeff and Phil