Discover more from This Week in Africa
This Week in Africa
November 4, 2022
Check out all that we’ve been up to at GLD this month. Apply to this postdoctoral fellowship at GLD for a project examining poverty traps in Africa. Join the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study this Tuesday (on Zoom or in person) for my talk on the contentious politics of African urbanization. Here is the week in Africa:
Quote of the week
“Mogadishu has a lot of enemies. But the people of this city will never be discouraged. They can destroy it, but we will rebuild.” – Tailor Abdulkadir Hassan Mohamed
Peace agreement in Ethiopia
Atrocities are growing in Ethiopia, but a new peace agreement brings hope that there will be a stop to the violence. The agreement comes a week after significant government advances through Tigray. Witnesses to the fighting accuse Eritrea of abuses. The region is running out of medical supplies. If and when the fighting stops, justice is required too.
Violence in eastern DR Congo
There is intense fighting between M23 militants and Congolese security forces in Eastern DR Congo. M23 has made significant advances as they move toward Goma. The UN withdrew peacekeeping forces from a key city. President Tshisekedi has reconfigured the army to try to stop conflicts. Kenya sent troops to the region to support Congolese forces. Burundi already has troops there. Can the East African Community stabilize the region?
Bombing in Mogadishu
More than 100 people were killed in a suicide bombing in Mogadishu. Two car bombs exploded at busy intersections. It was the deadliest attack in years. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility, as they continue to target civilians. Journalist Mohamed Isse Hassan Koonaa was one of the victims. The bombings come after Somalia asked the US to step up drone strikes against Al-Shabaab, who are Qaeda-linked fighters. This article does a good job of placing the bombings in the context of the long struggle for power between Somalia and militants, which has recently seen Al-Shabaab losing territory and control. The imbalance between clans is still at the heart of the conflict.
Security and instability
While coups are still a mainstay in parts of the continent, they are on the decline overall. An ambush kills 13 soldiers in Burkina Faso. Check out this important volume on ten years of instability in the Sahel. Is Chad’s transition unravelling?
Struggle for rights and freedom
Zulu royal women have asserted their agency and power throughout history. A stadium crush in Kinshasa kills more than ten people. Check out this panel on Uganda at 60. Religious leaders want an end to Ghana’s illegal mines. The rules and reality are disconnected. Kenyan police charged with crimes against humanity in their 2017 crackdown. Civil society faces an uphill battle to defend democracy.
Make sure to check out this investigation into the death of 24 migrants trying to cross into Europe in June. Ghana’s National Museum has reopened but painful memories remain. University of Malawi has shut down after student protests. Who are the beneficiaries of the land redistribution program in South Africa?
Social embeddedness of elections
George Bob-Milliar and I have a new GLD working paper that compares Ghana’s 2016 and 2020 presidential election campaigns. We draw on a dataset of campaign visits, and show the spatial targeting of these visits across the country. We find that a significant political learning process took place between 2016 and 2020 for candidates of the two major parties. We note the importance of incumbency advantage – as opposed to ideological or demographic factors – in shaping campaign targeting, particularly the type of campaign visit. Finally, we explain how political parties are socially embedded and rely on occupational groups like market associations and fisherfolk to mobilize voters.
Africa’s rapid urbanization
Make sure to read Howard French’s excellent piece about how coastal West Africa will shape the coming century. Nick Dorward and Sean Fox’s article explains why some of Africa’s urban areas experience more protest than others—context and politics matter! Mwangi Mwaura explains demolition colonialism in Nairobi. Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon’s The Blinded City opens eyes to Johannesburg’s inner city. Daniel Agbiboa discusses returning to Nigeria and studying the informal transport trade. Mark Purcell theorizes democratic space with and beyond Henri Lefebvre. This is a cool symposium on Africa’s urban futures.
Here are some good pointers on what is necessary before starting a construction project in Gambia. Constructing Mogadishu. Nairobi’s changing skyline. Harare faces a serious housing shortage. Africa’s new cities look to keep talent on the continent. This is a cool piece on decolonizing public space in Windhoek, Namibia. Cleaning up Nairobi. Cholera outbreaks surge worldwide. The building of black resistance in Orlando Township. Air pollution in urban Africa is very deadly. Learn more about the rise of youth gangs in Mogadishu. President Museveni knows politics: He panders to the muntu wawansi in the market. What is the right to the city?
Why do states colonize? Festival Godwin Boateng and Jacqueline Klopp provide a political economy analysis of used vehicle dependency in Africa. Miguel Pellicer and Vimal Ranchhod’s article explains the effects of racial classification in South Africa. African Women in the Atlantic World looks great. I look forward to Navigating Local Transitional Justice: Agency at Work in Post-Conflict Sierra Leone. Get your copy of The Unaccountables: The powerful politicians and corporations who profit from impunity. This article outlines an agenda for addressing bias in conflict data.
Check out the new Master’s Program on Politics and Governance of Global Challenges at the University of Bergen.
The week in development
Conflict remains a driver of Africa’s spiraling food crisis. China is bypassing cargo chokepoints to speed up Africa trade. Serena Williams is investing in Nigerian technology. Africa needs to increase its energy use. Seven of the twelve borrowers of the largest IMF loans are in Africa. Nigeria inaugurated its first deep sea port in Lagos. Astrid Haas explains why heavy-handed lockdowns can be a bad idea. Lessons from COVID can help Uganda as it fights an Ebola outbreak. Can local taxation strengthen domestic revenues in Uganda? How unsafe are Africa’s roads? What were the livelihood impacts of COVID-19 in South Africa?
Ghana’s economic crisis
Ghana’s Vice President addresses the economic challenge. Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta is staving off calls for his resignation—for now. This discussion with experts explains how Ghana’s situation got so bad. President Akufo-Addo promises “no bond haircut,” despite skeptics.
Africa and the environment
Learn more about the information challenges for humanitarian response to climate shocks in fragile settings. This green hydrogen opportunity could help feed Africa. Josh Busby argues that droughts do not need to end in famine. This is how Senegal is keeping the mangroves alive. Learn how to bridge the energy infrastructure gap in Africa. Energy plans in South Africa are still a work in progress. Water rationing in Tanzania begins after a prolonged drought. The West turns to Africa for help with gas crisis. Some analysts say Africa needs to use its gas reserves to drive its economies. Two-thirds of US money for fossil fuels floods into Africa despite climate goals. Can a nation replace its oil wealth with trees (Gabon is trying to find out)?
RIP Dida, Kenya’s largest tusked elephant.
As COP27 gets under way, check out our GLD/APS Policy Briefs on climate change in the MENA. Our first one looks at agriculture and local adaptation, while our second one confronts international and regional inequalities to achieve equity and climate justice. Listen to an overview in our Governance Uncovered podcast.
Egypt hosts the conference, but is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. COP27’s success hinges on loss and damage finance discussions. A new loss and damage finance mechanism could help. Climate reparations requires weather data that doesn’t exist. These are views from Africa’s chief negotiator.
Inspiration at Ghana’s Ashesi University. Some prize-winning photos from East Africa. Meet the photographer who immortalized a pan-African pageant. Lupita Nyong’o joins De Beers as a global ambassador. I’d like to go to the Bajuni Islands right now. The Film Africa festival looks cool.
Chef Dieveil on the diversity of African cuisine. Kenyan geography is where it’s at. The Woman King is still sold out in Benin. Paul Siguqa opened up the only fully black-owned vineyard in Franschhoek, one of South Africa’s most prestigious wine towns. And Gabrielle Union discusses her recent visit to Ghana.
All the best,
Jeff and Phil