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 Returns to the Markets

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Nigerian naira notes are seen in this picture illustration, March 15, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde/Illustration) Nigerian naira notes are seen in this picture illustration, March 15, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde/Illustration)

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

In early April, South Africa issued its first sovereign bond in over two years. The ten-year, $1.25 billion bond was oversubscribed by a factor of two. This is the first international bond issued by a sub-Saharan African nation in 2016. It is likely to be followed by Kenyan, Nigerian, and Ghanaian issuances. Read more »

The Constitution and Rule of Law Reaffirmed in South Africa

by John Campbell
Mosiuoa Lekota (C) of the opposition party, Congress of the People (COPE) celebrates with Kevin Malunga deputy public protector after South Africa's constitutional court ordered President Jacob Zuma to pay back some of the $16 million of state money spent upgrading his private home in Johannesburg, March 31, 2016. (Reuters/Felix Dlangamandla/Pool) Mosiuoa Lekota (C) of the opposition party, Congress of the People (COPE) celebrates with Kevin Malunga deputy public protector after South Africa's constitutional court ordered President Jacob Zuma to pay back some of the $16 million of state money spent upgrading his private home in Johannesburg, March 31, 2016. (Reuters/Felix Dlangamandla/Pool)

On March 31, the eleven justices of South Africa’s highest judicial body, the Constitutional Court, ruled unanimously that President Jacob Zuma and the National Assembly had violated the Constitution. The president, the court ruled, had improperly spent public money on his private estate, Nkandla. The National Assembly had improperly defended the president by refusing to implement the ruling of the public protector, a constitutionally mandated official, when she concluded that the expenditure had been improper. Read more »

Nigerian Army to Shut Markets Where Boko Haram Trades

by John Campbell
Men walk in front of election posters at an open market in Kano, March 27, 2015. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) Men walk in front of election posters at an open market in Kano, March 27, 2015. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

In a February 9 statement, acting Director of Army Public Relations Sani Usman said that the military will be shutting markets in Yobe and Borno states where traders “have clandestinely been aiding the terrorists (Boko Haram) with logistics and other supplies through smuggling and other forms of illicit trading, thus sustaining them while the merchants of death make money out of it.” Hence, “from now on, some markets identified to be engaging in this illegal trade with the adversary in Borno and Yobe states will be closed.” He also said that the traders were “sabotaging the successes… against the Boko Haram insurgency.” Read more »

“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 »