John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Looking Forward: Africa 2015

by John Campbell
A boy stands in front of wind turbines at the Ashegoda Wind Farm, near a village in Mekelle, Tigray, 780 km (485 miles) north of Addis Ababa, October 25, 2013. (Kumerra Gemechu/Couresy Reuters) A boy stands in front of wind turbines at the Ashegoda Wind Farm, near a village in Mekelle, Tigray, 780 km (485 miles) north of Addis Ababa, October 25, 2013. (Kumerra Gemechu/Couresy Reuters)

With over a billion people and the second largest continental landmass in the world, Africa is complicated and defies generalization. Yet, we do it all the time. Here are five trends to keep an eye on for 2015:

 

  1. A Resurgence of Afro-pessimism. For the past several years, the narrative about Africa has been upbeat, ranging from McKinsey and Company’s Lions on the move” to the Economist’sA Hopeful Continent.” That could change in 2015, with a militant jihadism in the Sahel, an implosion in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, and Ebola. Falling oil prices will also mean declining currency values and falling stock markets in oil-dependent states. But, Afro-pessimism can distort as much as ‘Africa rising.’
  2. Read more »

Post-Burkina Faso: Domino or Boomerang Effect?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A man stands next to a sign bearing the name of Gaston Karambiri during a funeral service for six people killed during the popular uprising of October 30 and 31, in Ouagadougou, December 2, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) A man stands next to a sign bearing the name of Gaston Karambiri during a funeral service for six people killed during the popular uprising of October 30 and 31, in Ouagadougou, December 2, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jean-Yves Ollivier, a French businessman who has spent over forty years involved in peace talks in Africa. He serves as CEO of the Brazzaville Foundation for Peace and Nature Conservation. Read more »

Nigerians Impressed: the All Progressives Congress Convention

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A policeman stands guard near ballot boxes at All Progressives Congress (APC) party convention, in Lagos, early December 11, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) A policeman stands guard near ballot boxes at All Progressives Congress (APC) party convention, in Lagos, early December 11, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jean Herskovits, research professor of African history at SUNY-Purchase. Dr. Herskovits has been watching Nigeria’s politics at first hand for decades. She visits frequently, returning last month from her most recent trip. Dr. Herskovits is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Read more »

Awaiting January’s Forum for National Reconciliation in Bangui

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Central African Republic's interim President Catherine Samba-Panza (C) addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 27, 2014. Eduardo Munoz/Courtesy Reuters Central African Republic's interim President Catherine Samba-Panza (C) addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 27, 2014. Eduardo Munoz/Courtesy Reuters

This is a guest post by Thomas Zuber, intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. He is currently pursuing a Master’s in International Political Economy and Development at Fordham University.  Read more »

An African Odyssey

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A group of 104 sub-Saharan Africans on board a rubber dinghy reach out for life jackets tossed to them by rescuers of the NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) some 25 miles off the Libyan coast in this handout photo provided by MOAS October 4, 2014. MOAS, a privately-funded humanitarian initiative, began operating at the end of August and has assisted in the rescue of some 2,200 migrants crossing from Libyan shores towards Europe.
(MOAS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/Handout via Reuters) A group of 104 sub-Saharan Africans on board a rubber dinghy reach out for life jackets tossed to them by rescuers of the NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) some 25 miles off the Libyan coast in this handout photo provided by MOAS October 4, 2014. MOAS, a privately-funded humanitarian initiative, began operating at the end of August and has assisted in the rescue of some 2,200 migrants crossing from Libyan shores towards Europe. (MOAS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/Handout via Reuters)

This is a guest post by Amanda Roth, a former intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a graduate student at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, where she studies international security policyRead more »

Gulu and Detroit: Bicycles to the Rescue

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A gold miner uses a bicycle to transport a sack of sandy soil from a small scale mine in Bugiri, 348 km (216 miles) east of Kampala, Uganda's capital February 5, 2013. (Edward Echwalu/Courtesy Reuters) A gold miner uses a bicycle to transport a sack of sandy soil from a small scale mine in Bugiri, 348 km (216 miles) east of Kampala, Uganda's capital February 5, 2013. (Edward Echwalu/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jim Sanders, a career, now retired, West Africa watcher for various federal agencies. The views expressed below are his personal views and do not reflect those of his former employers. Read more »

What’s Next for Burkina Faso?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Anti-government protesters gather in the Place de la Nation in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 31, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) Anti-government protesters gather in the Place de la Nation in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 31, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Molly Rapaport, a Research Associate at the Council on Foreign Relations. She recently returned from a Fulbright fellowship in Burkina Faso, where she studied polygamy.

Ça chauffe moins pour le moment au Burkina. Things have cooled off in Burkina Faso, where massive protests three weeks ago led to the October 31 resignation of Blaise Compaoré. Blaise, as he is known colloquially, was president for twenty-seven years and intended to remain in power. When his proposed constitutional revision, which would have allowed him to run again in 2015, went to the National Assembly for a vote, hundreds of thousands of Burkinabe citizens protested. Their message, reinforced by burning the parliament building and tearing down a statue of Blaise, was crystal clear. Protest signs combined the president’s name with that of a terrible virus (making “Ebolaise”), and Burkinabe entreated their fellow citizens to “disinfect” themselves. Read more »

Can the U.S. Help Nigeria Confront Boko Haram?

by John Campbell
Women study Hadith excerpts at Maska Road Islamic School in Kaduna, July 16, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) Women study Hadith excerpts at Maska Road Islamic School in Kaduna, July 16, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

For a long time Nigeria was Washington’s most important strategic partner on issues of security and stability in Africa. But, the Boko Haram insurgency and Abuja’s response to it has put that partnership in jeopardy. The movement and the Nigerian government’s failed response to it pose a dilemma for the Obama administration. On the one hand, Boko Haram is repellent, regularly resorting to terror against the highly vulnerable, including the murder and kidnapping of young people in school. On the other hand, the official security forces carry out atrocities against the local population, and the government has thus far failed to address the drivers of the insurgency, including political marginalization, accelerating impoverishment, and rampant corruption. This state of affairs has allowed Boko Haram to ramp up its military campaign in 2014, having killed over 3,600 civilians and seizing control of more than 10 towns in northeast Nigeria. Boko Haram has also carried out cross-border operations, notably in northern Cameroon. Read more »

How Can U.S. Intel Training Help Fight Boko Haram?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (L) in New York, September 23, 2013. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (L) in New York, September 23, 2013. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

Jesse Sloman is a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations and a reserve officer in the Marine Corps. He served on active duty from 2009 to 2013. The views expressed here are his own. Read more »

Central African Republic: Forgotten Crisis

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Internally displaced women from Bangui attend a community meeting in Bambari June 16, 2014.
(Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters) Internally displaced women from Bangui attend a community meeting in Bambari June 16, 2014. (Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Thomas Zuber, intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. He is currently pursuing a Master’s in International Political Economy and Development at Fordham University. 

The Ebola crisis in West Africa has distracted international attention from developments in other parts of Africa, notably in the Central African Republic (CAR). On September 15, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Central African Republic (MINUSCA) initiated peacekeeping operations in a country divided by civil war. It began working alongside two thousand French soldiers already on the ground and is integrating African Union troops into what will be a twelve thousand strong peacekeeping mission. Read more »