John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s Indictment of African Presidential Leadership

by John Campbell Thursday, June 30, 2016
Sudanese-born telecommunications entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim addresses participants during the launch of the 2008 Ibrahim Index of African Governance in Addis Ababa, October 6, 2008. (Reuters/Irada Humbatova) Sudanese-born telecommunications entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim addresses participants during the launch of the 2008 Ibrahim Index of African Governance in Addis Ababa, October 6, 2008. (Reuters/Irada Humbatova)

In 2016, once again, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation has found no retiring African leader qualified for the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African leadership. Mo Ibrahim, a British-Sudanese telecom billionaire, set-up the prize in 2006. It may be awarded annually to an African elected head of state who promoted good governance and then left office in accordance with the constitution. The prize is very rich: $5 million, spread over ten years, followed by $200,000 a year for life. Read more »

Are U.S. Efforts Successfully Countering Terrorism in Africa?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, June 29, 2016
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) puts his arm around Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta as they depart after their joint news conference after their meeting at the State House in Nairobi, July 25, 2015. (Courtesy/Jonathan Ernst ) U.S. President Barack Obama (L) puts his arm around Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta as they depart after their joint news conference after their meeting at the State House in Nairobi, July 25, 2015. (Courtesy/Jonathan Ernst )

This post was co-authored by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn and Andrea Walther-Puri. Cheryl is an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School. Andrea is a researcher focusing on security sector reform and a PhD candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Read more »

BREXIT and Africa

by John Campbell Tuesday, June 28, 2016
People chat in front of an electronic board displaying movements in major indices at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange building in Sandton Johannesburg July 9, 2015.
(Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) People chat in front of an electronic board displaying movements in major indices at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange building in Sandton Johannesburg July 9, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

It is early to assess the long term consequences for sub-Saharan Africa of the United Kingdom’s (UK) vote to leave the European Union (EU) on June 24. However, in the short term, it is useful to look at the performance in the exchange rates and stock exchanges of Nigeria and South Africa since the referendum. They provide something of an indication of the wider impact Brexit had on Africa. Nigeria and South Africa together account for more than half of sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product. Both have long had close ties with the UK, especially with respect to trade and financial services. In addition, there are myriad other ties between the UK and Nigeria and South Africa. For example, there is a large British expatriate community living in South Africa. The Nigerian expatriate population in the UK is also significant, and wealthy Nigerians have long favored the UK for education, health services, and second homes. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: June 18–June 24

by John Campbell Monday, June 27, 2016
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from June 18, 2016 to June 24, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Ethiopia and Eritrea Clash: Who Is to Blame and What Is to Be Gained?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, June 24, 2016
Eritreans walk past a tank abandoned during the 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia, in Shambuko Town, December 23, 2005. (Courtesy/Ed Harris) Eritreans walk past a tank abandoned during the 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia, in Shambuko Town, December 23, 2005. (Courtesy/Ed Harris)

This piece has been co-authored by John Campbell and Nathan Birhanu. Nathan is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. He is a graduate of Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development. Read more »

Massive Ivory Shipment Seized in South Sudan

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, June 23, 2016
A customs officer arranges confiscated elephant tusks before a news conference at the Port Authority of Thailand in Bangkok, April 20, 2015. (Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom) A customs officer arranges confiscated elephant tusks before a news conference at the Port Authority of Thailand in Bangkok, April 20, 2015. (Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

Last week, authorities at Juba International Airport seized nearly a ton and a half of ivory in South Sudan. This seizure highlights some of the critical factors in the fight against wildlife trafficking. Read more »

Nigerian Security Developments: Niger Delta Avengers, Boko Haram, and New Police Inspector General

by John Campbell Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Niger soldiers provide security for an anti-Boko Haram summit in Diffa city, Niger September 3, 2015. Picture taken September 3, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Warren Strobel) Niger soldiers provide security for an anti-Boko Haram summit in Diffa city, Niger September 3, 2015. Picture taken September 3, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Warren Strobel)

International attention has been focused on the devaluation of the national currency, the naira, but there have been important security developments meanwhile.

Militants, called the “Niger Delta Avengers” (NDA), have attacked oil infrastructure, resulting in a decline in production, with estimates ranging from 40 to 60 percent. As profits from oil and gas account for more than 90 percent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange and more than 70 percent of the government’s total revenue, the events have harmed the Nigerian economy. Read more »

‘Brexit’ and South Africa

by John Campbell Tuesday, June 21, 2016
A statue of South Africa's former president Nelson Mandela is seen silhouetted after its unveiling in London's Parliament Square August 29, 2007.  (Courtesy Reuters/Alessia Pierdomenico) A statue of South Africa's former president Nelson Mandela is seen silhouetted after its unveiling in London's Parliament Square August 29, 2007. (Courtesy Reuters/Alessia Pierdomenico)

Asmita Parshotam, Cyril Prinsloo, and Elizabeth Sidiropoulos have written a thoughtful analysis of the impact on South Africa should the UK vote to exit the European Union on June 23. Their analysis was published June 21 by the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA). Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: June 11–June 18

by John Campbell Monday, June 20, 2016
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from June 11, 2016 to June 18, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Nigeria Devalues its Currency

by John Campbell Friday, June 17, 2016
A trader changes dollars with naira at a currency exchange store in Lagos, February 12, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Alessia Pierdomenico) A trader changes dollars with naira at a currency exchange store in Lagos, February 12, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Alessia Pierdomenico)

In the face of low international oil and gas prices, the domestic and international business community, academics, and journalists have all urged President Muhammadu Buhari to devalue the national currency, the naira. Buhari steadfastly refused. Based on his 1983-85 experience as head of state, also a period characterized by falling oil prices, he seems to believe that in an economy as dependent on imports as Nigeria, devaluing the naira would increase the cost of living for the poor, the majority of Nigeria’s citizens. Buhari famously observed that “Nigeria even imports toothpicks.” Read more »