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This Week in Africa
September 15, 2023
Quote of the week
“We say Mother Nature, but this is the act of man — it’s the incompetence of Libya’s political elites. There’s no words you can find to describe the biblical level of suffering those people have to endure.” -- Anas El Gomati, director of the Sadeq Institute, a Libyan policy research center
Massive flood in Libya
More than 7,000 people are feared dead from the deadliest flood of the 21st century in Libya. 25% of Derna, a historical city, is likely destroyed, as these maps show. These photos document the destruction. The flood is devastating families and community.
Deadly earthquake in Morocco
Coups in Africa
Oversight and accountability are needed to improve security sector governance in Africa. Cullen Hendrix explains how Gabon’s coup complicates its mineral ambitions. This is a good conversation about the rise of coups on the continent. Mwita Chacha and Jonathan Powell discuss the credibility crisis of African regional organizations in the face of coups. What does the regime change in Niger mean for migration cooperation with the EU?
African international relations
Ken Opalo tells it like it is: In Africa, Russia is playing the West like a fiddle. There is now a scramble for Prigozhin’s African empire. The EU’s Annette Weber discusses Sudan and regional diplomacy. Paul Williams explains what needs to happen as AU peacemakers leave Somalia. A Genocide in Darfur is unfolding, again. Does the world notice or care?
Struggle for rights and freedom
Henning Melber explains the legacy of Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who died this week. Gabon squandered lots of oil wealth under the Bongo family’s 55 year reign over the country. 82 detained Ethiopians go on hunger strike and demand repatriation. Learn more about Tanzania’s shifting political scene. This is an important report about LGBTQ+ rights in South Africa. Nigeria’s court throws tech’s role in election transparency into doubt. There is intense fighting between rebels and the government in a key northern Mali town.
And SIPRI outline five ways to protect civilians from contemporary armed conflict.
Africa’s rapid urbanization
Lagos opened a groundbreaking light rail line this week. It could turn hourlong car rides into 25 minute trips. This is a cool article about Kumasi’s Jackson Park and the need for inclusive public spaces. In Cairo’s City of the Dead, demolitions are halted but ‘damage already done.’
Can 3D printed houses close Kenya’s affordable housing gap?
South Africa’s need for affordable housing
Migrants in South Africa fear a backlash after the deadly fire in Johannesburg. Government innovation is needed to solve South Africa’s housing crisis. The role of the EFF in governing Johannesburg has not helped. South Africa’s top housing experts explain what needs to be done to fix the problem—read it.
This looks awesome: Lukasa: History of Africa and the Diaspora, comic style. Check out Citizens of Photography: The Camera and the Political Imagination. Get a copy of Anti-Immigrant Attitudes: The Effect of Grievances, Personal Interactions and Entrenched Beliefs.
This study finds that a large, one-time, unconditional cash transfer to refugees in Uganda has multidimensional benefits after 19 months. This article examines Rwandan army deserters in South Africa. Check out this special issue on Ugandan politics. This article discusses the potential of electric vehicles in Ghana. Learn more about future-making and the built environment in Kenya. Ida Rudolfsen analyzes food insecurity and unrest participation in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Campaign rallies in Africa
Check it out: McDonald Lewanika’s article “ZANU-PF’s bigwig rallies as performative politics during Zimbabwe’s 2008 and 2013 elections.” The article is part of a great special issue on campaign rallies, of which I am a contributor. The intro is here, as well as great articles on Tanzania, Kenya (and this one!), and Tanzania (again!). George Bob-Milliar and I analyze rallies in Ghana’s 2016 and 2020 election here.
The week in development
The African Continental Free Trade Area can help reduce inequalities. Amnesty International documents forced evictions at industrial cobalt and copper mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda turns to local markets after funding freeze. Ethiopia completes final filling of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. This report outlines a way to integrate human rights into Europe’s development financing. Rwanda’s economy is on the path to recovery. How to bridge the data divide? What happened to Africa rising?
The African Union has joined the G20 as a permanent member.
Africa and the environment
Cool: Angolan-Mongolian rap. The politics of sport in Zimbabwe. Trevor Noah’s comedy tour highlights South African comedy. And Sisonke Msimang asks: When is it okay for white people to ask about other people’s ethnicity?
All the best,
Jeff and Phil