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This Week in Africa
March 3, 2023
Quote of the week
“For many people, it doesn’t matter whether their life has been exposed to disaster... once they’re here, they know they can be assured of having (a bit of money) that may fetch them at least a plate of rice.” – Joseph Macarthy, head of the Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre
New president of Nigeria
Bola Tinubu was declared president elect of Nigeria in the closest election in decades. Though Peter Obi did not win, he enlivened the elections and even won Lagos, remaking the political landscape. Other cities, like Port Harcourt, were also divided. This is a nice video of the polls, which were beset by technical deficiencies, digitalization failures, INEC’s shortcomings, and some violence. It was a flawed election, and the challengers are not accepting the results. Nigerians were brave and patriotic amidst difficult circumstances. The APC extends its power in the country, though it faces a new electoral map since 2019. See full results here. Revisit our Election Overview for a discussion of what was at stake.
Nigerians voted amidst a cash and gasoline shortage, and the next government faces severe economic challenges. But there is opportunity amidst crisis. Nigerians are still looking to leave the country. Portia Roelofs provides this excellent analysis. Matthew Page and Feyi Fawehinmi explain how politics could be transformed.
Is the victory really a victory for Tinubu?
Migration and xenophobia
Hundreds in Tunisia protest against the government’s anti-migrant clampdown. Tunisia’s president embraces the Great Replacement Theory. Who is behind South Africa’s xenophobic nationalism? Is it time for a borderless Africa?
African international relations
Nanjala Nyabola examines African countries’ responses to the invasion of Ukraine. Mali struggles to avoid the trap of isolation. France has a revamped Africa policy. Will it be a “new era”? And this: why Ralph Bunche faded from view, by Zachariah Mampilly (great thread here).
Struggle for rights and freedom
South Africa needs a break from its conventional politics. Here are ten things to know about Ghana’s State of the Union address. Benin passed one of Africa’s most liberal abortion laws. This is how autocrats instrumentalize women’s rights. Former Ghana leader Mahama launches 2024 campaign. Check out Afrobarometer’s 2022 Year in Review. Catherine Lena Kelly explains the impact of the rule of law on national security in African countries.
Check out this report on African media from 2011 to 2021. Cameroonian women hop on taxi apps for safety. Women journalists are changing the narrative in Somalia. Grace Musila & James Yékú discuss African popular culture. Victims have their say at Guinea’s stadium massacre trial. Listen to Jamie Hitchen discuss WhatsApp and African politics on the In Pursuit of Development podcast. Olumide Abimbola hosts The Africa Hour.
Africa’s rapid urbanization
Henrik Maihack’s Contested Urban Citizenship in Nairobi: Citizenship Formation in Nairobi’s Informality looks great. The Continent discusses Addis Ababa’s AU makeover. This is a cool political history of Kotoko’s city states. Astrid Haas explains the political economy of public transport in Africa and the role of the World Bank. Check out this piece on ecological futures in Nairobi, outlaw style. Tom Gillespie and Seth Schindler explain Africa’s new urban spaces and its real estate frontiers.
A glimpse of Lusaka, Zambia. Meet the Freetown residents fighting to build a home. Learn more about the politics of transport in Lagos. Cities should focus on providing affordable mass transit—not flying taxis. There are many urban mobility challenges in Mogadishu. Cape Town is removing homeless people from the street. Can identifying “priority complex problems” catalyze urban reform?
This is an excellent special issue on feminists and feminism in protests in Africa. Learn more about the challenges coding and creating data on political instability. This is an important article on African constitutions. African researchers must be full participants in behavioural science research. Bronwen Everill explains Freetown’s ship repair cluster in nineteenth-century Sierra Leone. A huge congrats to Saheed Aderinto for winning the prestigious Dan David Prize.
Check out Davide Chinigò’s Everyday Practices of State Building in Ethiopia: Power, Scale, Performativity. Get your copy of Lives Amid Violence: Transforming Development in the Wake of Conflict by Mareike Schomerus (free download). Noah Nathan’s The Scarce State: Inequality and Political Power in the Hinterland is awesome (thread here).
The week in development
Zainab Usman explains how to modernize international development assistance. The European New Deal could benefit Africa’s private sector. This is a helpful analysis of Ghana’s debt crisis. The country is now in debt talks with China. Female-owned farms and companies are growing Ghana’s taste for coffee. Ghana hopes to get a big boost from mining. South Africa’s unemployment rate drops again. This is how America plans to break China’s grip on African minerals. A Moroccan company claims the top shelf tea in the world. A large hoard of copper and cobalt is piling up in DR Congo. A new report finds that rural health must be a priority in times of economic turmoil. What is social cohesion? What can space tech do for Africa?
Africa and the environment
Anger grows over Durban’s apparent apathy in dealing with widespread river contamination. The Horn of Africa is on track for its sixth straight failed rain season. Toxic waste dumping in the Gulf of Guinea amounts to environmental racism. Climate remains high on the AU agenda. Climate change leads to more human-wildlife conflict. Sudan tries to weather climate change. Ahmed Musa outlines inclusion and exclusion in Somali drought emergency assistance.
RIP pioneering filmmaker Safi Faye. Read this: Festival Syndromes: Ghana’s Pan-African dissonance. The Woman King gets the Netflix bump. Here are great African books to read in 2023, including Peace Medie’s Nightbloom. Yum: Grilled tiger prawns with salone fire and anchovies butter. Joburg’s film festival looks awesome. The Waakye Summit in Accra!
All the best,
Jeff and Phil