John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "African Solutions"

“Africa Rising”

by John Campbell
The sun rises over Mount Mikeno (C) in the Virunga National Park, Eastern DRC, December 12, 2008. (Reuters/Peter Andrews) The sun rises over Mount Mikeno (C) in the Virunga National Park, Eastern DRC, December 12, 2008. (Reuters/Peter Andrews)

For the past decade, the narrative of “Africa Rising” has been dominant. In hindsight, it was largely the product of high prices for Africa’s export commodities, especially oil, the continent’s rapid urbanization, an over-estimation of the growth of a middle class, over-reliance on dubious statistics, and more than a dollop of wishful thinking. “Africa Rising” was also a useful marketing tool for those seeking to raise capital for investment on the continent. Read more »

New Frontier in Nigeria’s War on Corruption

by John Campbell
A man on a motorcycle sits near a signboard campaigning against corruption along a road in Dangi district in Nigeria's northern city of Kano, January 19, 2016. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) A man on a motorcycle sits near a signboard campaigning against corruption along a road in Dangi district in Nigeria's northern city of Kano, January 19, 2016. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

Confronting Nigeria’s culture of corruption was a primary campaign theme of Muhammadu Buhari’s successful campaign for the presidency. Since taking office, he has fired numerous high officials widely regarded as corrupt, made a reputation for incorruptibility a prerequisite for high appointments (though there have been exceptions), and directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to launch investigations into the allegedly corrupt behavior of numerous high-ranking military and civilian officials. Read more »

Some Good News From South Africa

by John Campbell
Early morning smog shrouds suburbs of the coastal South African city of Cape Town as the sun rises June 8, 2006. (Reuters\Mike Hutchings) Early morning smog shrouds suburbs of the coastal South African city of Cape Town as the sun rises June 8, 2006. (Reuters\Mike Hutchings)

It is unduly gloomy in sunny South Africa. The national currency, the rand, is falling; the economy is hardly growing at all; the Zuma administration appears mired in corruption and mismanagement. There has been an upsurge in racist rhetoric. Hence the South African surprise and delight at the announcement that two of the richest South Africans, Allan and Gill Gray, are essentially giving away their wealth to their family foundation. Read more »

The Year China Solidifies the Renminbi’s Place in Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Chinese President Xi Jinping, accompanied by his wife wife Peng Liyuan, walks with South African President Jacob Zuma upon his arrival at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, December 2, 2015. (Reuters/Sydney Seshibedi) Chinese President Xi Jinping, accompanied by his wife wife Peng Liyuan, walks with South African President Jacob Zuma upon his arrival at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, December 2, 2015. (Reuters/Sydney Seshibedi)

This is a guest post by John Causey, a private equity and transaction advisor with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa.

The U.S. dollar’s dominance in sub-Saharan Africa is no longer certain. Despite the current volatility of the Chinese renminbi an auspicious moment may exist for China’s currency to challenge the dollar’s hegemony in the region. Read more »

IMF Managing Director Lagarde’s Visit a Boost for President Buhari

by John Campbell
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde attend a meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, January 5, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde attend a meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, January 5, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

President Muhammadu Buhari faces a serious economic crisis related to the plunge in the world price of oil, slow rates of economic growth, the prospect of rising American interest rates, a falling national currency, and declining government revenues. At the same time, he is working to restructure the economy away from undue dependence on oil by increasing infrastructure investment and vigorously pursuing an anti-corruption agenda demonstrated by the arrests of high-profile public figures. Read more »

What to Watch: Africa 2016

by John Campbell and Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Boys play on the roof of the entrance to a football stadium in Gao February 20, 2013. (Reuters/Joe Penney) Boys play on the roof of the entrance to a football stadium in Gao February 20, 2013. (Reuters/Joe Penney)

While western governments are currently transfixed on events in Iraq and Syria, it is important that they do not forget Africa. Boko Haram has become the world’s deadliest terrorist organization and Libya is increasingly becoming a base of operations for the Islamic State. Below, CFR’s Africa program outlines six African issues to watch in 2016. While they could certainly affect the lives of millions of Africans, these issues could also have serious implications for international politics. Read more »

Advancing African Development Through Intra-Continental Trade

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
(L-R) South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, Senegal's President Macky Sall and Rwanda's President Paul Kagame participate in a panel discussion on the future of Africa during the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in Washington,  August 5, 2014. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst) (L-R) South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, Senegal's President Macky Sall and Rwanda's President Paul Kagame participate in a panel discussion on the future of Africa during the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in Washington, August 5, 2014. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

This is a guest post by Fily Camara, an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. He is a masters candidate at New York University.

Intra-African trade has been only eleven percent of the continent’s total trade over the last decade. By comparison, more than sixty percent of Europe’s trade is intra-continental. The equivalent figure for North America is about 45 percent and for Asia it is about twenty-five percent. The small scale of Africa’s intra-continental trade reflects the continent’s dependence on foreign markets for the vast majority of their trade relations. African policymakers, as well as their Western counterparts, have long acknowledged the need for more intra-continental trade. It is a paradox that, for much of Africa’s postcolonial history, it has been a pioneer in regional integration. In addition to the African Union (AU), there are eight, smaller regional economic communities—many of which have successfully implemented common currencies and external tariffs in addition to cooperating on matters of security and justice. Nevertheless, commerce among countries in Africa remains low, with significant negative development ramifications. Read more »

African Drought and Hydropower

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A 13.8 megawatt hydroelectric dam undergoes construction in Matebe, Democratic Republic of Congo, July 21, 2015. Reuters/Alyssa Ross A 13.8 megawatt hydroelectric dam undergoes construction in Matebe, Democratic Republic of Congo, July 21, 2015. Reuters/Alyssa Ross

This is a guest post by Jameson McBride, an intern for Energy and the Environment at the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. He is currently studying Political Science and Sustainable Development at Columbia University.

Over the past few months, an energy crisis has been deepening in Zambia: the nation has been generating only 58 percent of its usual electrical capacity. The cause of this energy crisis, however, is not economic or political—it is drought. Like many sub-Saharan states, Zambia is heavily dependent on hydroelectricity, and recent drought has crippled the nation’s power supply. Zambia’s hydropower problems may only be a sign of things to come. Long-range models predict that climate change is likely to cause more droughts throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa. While hydropower is widely billed as sustainable due to its low emissions and high efficiency, the drought-induced Zambian energy crisis suggests that it may not be a reliable solution for African energy in a future marred by climate change. Read more »

South Africa’s Rhino Horn Moratorium

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Police officers stand guard next to a part of a shipment of 24 rhino horns seized by the Customs Administration of the Czech Republic during a news conference in Prague, July 23, 2013. (Reuters/David W Cerny) Police officers stand guard next to a part of a shipment of 24 rhino horns seized by the Customs Administration of the Czech Republic during a news conference in Prague, July 23, 2013. (Reuters/David W Cerny)

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

Last week, South African High Court Judge Francis Legodi ruled against the Zuma administration moratorium on the country’s domestic trade in rhino horns. As it is possible to harvest a rhino’s horn without killing the animal, there is discussion about the potential for a regulated trade in rhino horns. In light of the dramatic increase in rhino poaching, the argument that legalizing trade in rhino horn could help save the species has been gaining steam. The high court ruling is a reflection of this thinking. However, the decision from the judge may not actually mean much. Read more »

Africa Taps Global Bond Markets at Rapid Rate

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Stockbrokers trade on the floor of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) in Harare, February 24, 2015. (Courtesy/Philimon Bulawayo) Stockbrokers trade on the floor of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) in Harare, February 24, 2015. (Courtesy/Philimon Bulawayo)

This is a guest post by Aubrey Hruby and Jake Bright. They are the authors of The Next Africa: An Emerging Continent Becomes a Global Powerhouse.

Sub-Saharan African governments are tapping global capital markets at a rapid pace, issuing $18.1bn in dollar denominated eurobonds from 2013-2015, nearly triple the $7.3bn issued in the previous three years. Read more »