John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Foreign Investment"

Better Economic News from South Africa

by John Campbell
Mineworkers walk to the Wonderkop stadium near Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine for check-ins before returning to work, June 25, 2014. Tens of thousands of South African platinum miners returned to work on Wednesday after wage deals ended the longest and most damaging strike in the country's history. (Reuters/Skyler Reid) Mineworkers walk to the Wonderkop stadium near Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine for check-ins before returning to work, June 25, 2014. Tens of thousands of South African platinum miners returned to work on Wednesday after wage deals ended the longest and most damaging strike in the country's history. (Reuters/Skyler Reid)

South Africa’s general malaise owes much to its very slow recovery from the international economic crisis that began in the United States in 2008. The country’s gross domestic product growth rate has declined from a usual 3 percent to 1.5 percent in 2014. Weaker commodities prices have also slowed an economy that still includes a large mineral export sector. Read more »

President Obama Visits Kenya and Ethiopia

by John Campbell
A security guard walks past a wall mural depicting U.S. President Barack Obama outside the Go-Down Art Centre in Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 17, 2015. Kenya is preparing itself for a visit by U.S. President Obama in the coming week. Seen as a son of the East African nation owing to his father being Kenyan, many see this visit as a long overdue homecoming, while others question how long authorities can keep up the upgrades after Obama is gone. (Courtesy Reuters/Thomas Mukoya) A security guard walks past a wall mural depicting U.S. President Barack Obama outside the Go-Down Art Centre in Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 17, 2015. Kenya is preparing itself for a visit by U.S. President Obama in the coming week. Seen as a son of the East African nation owing to his father being Kenyan, many see this visit as a long overdue homecoming, while others question how long authorities can keep up the upgrades after Obama is gone. (Courtesy Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)

Whatever decision the White House makes in selecting the countries included on a presidential visit to Africa, it is bound to draw critical scrutiny. On July 24, President Obama departs for a trip to Kenya and Ethiopia. Two reasons for these two countries seem immediately clear. An important focus of the trip will be the African Union (AU), which has its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held this year in Nairobi, Kenya. The AU is the lodestar of the “African solutions to African problems” policy, while the Entrepreneurship Summit demonstrates a focus on economic development. Both are policy goals keenly supported by the United States. However, there is also a symbolic significance to this decision. Many in Africa have questioned why President Obama, with a Kenyan father, has not yet visited Nairobi during his presidency. This absence has contributed to disappointment in Africa that the Obama presidency has not been particularly African in its focus. Read more »

Buhari Visit to Reset the Bilateral Relationship

by John Campbell
U.S Secretary of State John Kerry (L) sits beside Nigeria's former military ruler and opposition party All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari at the U.S. consulate house in Lagos January 25, 2015. Kerry was in Nigeria to urge its rival political camps to respect the outcome of a Feb. 14 presidential election. Washington is concerned that post-poll violence could undermine the stability of Africa's top oil producer and hamper efforts to tackle the Islamist militants of Boko Haram. "Given the stakes it's absolutely critical that these elections are conducted peacefully," Kerry told reporters in the commercial capital Lagos after meeting President Goodluck Jonathan and main opposition rival Buhari. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) U.S Secretary of State John Kerry (L) sits beside Nigeria's former military ruler and opposition party All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari at the U.S. consulate house in Lagos January 25, 2015. Kerry was in Nigeria to urge its rival political camps to respect the outcome of a Feb. 14 presidential election. Washington is concerned that post-poll violence could undermine the stability of Africa's top oil producer and hamper efforts to tackle the Islamist militants of Boko Haram. "Given the stakes it's absolutely critical that these elections are conducted peacefully," Kerry told reporters in the commercial capital Lagos after meeting President Goodluck Jonathan and main opposition rival Buhari. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

At the invitation of the Obama administration, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is making an official visit to Washington, D.C. from July 20 to July 24. The visit is an opportunity to reset a bilateral relationship that had chilled under former President Goodluck Jonathan, in part because of the Nigerian security service’s human rights violations in the fight against the Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram, and in part because of vocal criticism from the Jonathan administration that the United States was not doing enough to help in the struggle against Boko Haram. Now, an indication of the importance of the visit to the Obama administration is that President Buhari will be staying at Blair House, the official guest house, even though this is not a state visit, which are usually arranged long in advance and more ceremonial than substantive. Read more »

Bans on Wildlife Trade Gaining Steam

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
An elephant walks through a swamp during sunset in Amboseli National Park, January 26, 2015. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic). An elephant walks through a swamp during sunset in Amboseli National Park, January 26, 2015. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic).

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

At the end of May the Chinese government announced that following a one year ban on ivory imports, it will “strictly control ivory processing and trade until the commercial processing and sale of ivory and its products are eventually halted.” If the Chinese are able to follow through, this could be one of the most important actions taken to end the illicit trade of Ivory that is contributing to the decimation of elephant populations in Africa (China is the largest market for elephant ivory). Read more »

Somalia Ready for Oil Exploration?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Engineers and visitors explore an exploratory well near Dharoor town, 350 km (217 miles) from the port of Bosasso on the Gulf of Aden in Puntland, January 17, 2012. (Abdiqani Hassan /Courtesy Reuters) Engineers and visitors explore an exploratory well near Dharoor town, 350 km (217 miles) from the port of Bosasso on the Gulf of Aden in Puntland, January 17, 2012. (Abdiqani Hassan /Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Alex Dick-Godfrey, Assistant Director, Studies administration for the Council on Foreign Relations Studies Program.

Last month, Soma Oil and Gas, a London based energy company, searching for hydrocarbon deposits off the coast of Somalia, announced that it had completed a seismic survey to ascertain the potential for recoverable oil and gas deposits. Although further details have yet to be released, chief executive Rob Sheppard announced that the results were encouraging. However, Somalia, and potential investors, should proceed with caution when considering entering this frontier market. Read more »

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 »

De Beers Diamond Moves Sales Army from London to Botswana

by John Campbell
A worker at the Botswana Diamond Valuing Company displays a rough diamond during the sorting process at the purpose-built centre in the capital Gaborone, August 26, 2004. (Juda Ngwenya/Courtesy Reuters) A worker at the Botswana Diamond Valuing Company displays a rough diamond during the sorting process at the purpose-built centre in the capital Gaborone, August 26, 2004. (Juda Ngwenya/Courtesy Reuters)

For the past century or so, big mining corporations have pursued their operations in Africa, but their senior management, marketing, and sales have been in Europe or North America. That is changing.

The government of Botswana and De Beers Group, the diamond company, agreed in 2011 that the latter would sort, value, and sell diamonds produced by the company Debswana, a joint 50/50 business venture between Botswana and De Beers that accounts for a third of Botswana’s GDP. For its part De Beers agreed to transfer its London based rough diamond sales to Botswana. The move involves the transfer of professionals, equipment and technology from London to Botswana’s capital, Gaborone. In November 2013, De Beers started diamond sales in Gaborone in a state-of-the-art facility. Batswana, nationals of Botswana, are about 50 percent of the de Beers’ employees in the sales division. Read more »

Huge Diamond Mined in South Africa

by John Campbell
A visitor holds a 17 carat diamond at a Petra Diamonds mine in Cullinan, outside Pretoria, January 22, 2009. London-listed Petra Diamonds said it expected a difficult operating environment going into 2009 and that it saw conditions improving by the end of 2010.  (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters) A visitor holds a 17 carat diamond at a Petra Diamonds mine in Cullinan, outside Pretoria, January 22, 2009. London-listed Petra Diamonds said it expected a difficult operating environment going into 2009 and that it saw conditions improving by the end of 2010. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters)

Diamonds are associated with glamour and South Africa. The Cullinan Mine, east of Pretoria, is famous for diamonds of the huge variety, including the ‘Cullinan Diamond,’ at 3,106 carets, the largest gem quality diamond ever found. The owner presented it to King Edward VII in 1905, and the Great Star of Africa, which was cut from it, is in the scepter of the royal regalia used at the coronation of British monarchs. Read more »

Africa, The Summit and Development

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
U.S. President Barack Obama (bottom row, C) waits to depart with other leaders after a family photo for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the U.S. State Department in Washington, August 6, 2014. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama (bottom row, C) waits to depart with other leaders after a family photo for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the U.S. State Department in Washington, August 6, 2014. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Owen Cylke. Mr. Cylke is a development professional and a retired senior foreign service officer with U.S. Agency for International Development.

References to development (even to the word “development”) do not appear in most of the reports on the recently concluded U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. In this regard, I want to distinguish between “assistance” and “development,” between discrete projects on the one hand, and, on the other, the larger, more complex process of transforming economies, polities, administrations, and societies. Yet, the advancement of development is a stated goal of the president of the United States, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and the International Monetary Fund. Development also has the focused attention of African leadership as reflected in the policies and actions of the African Union, its development arm the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) and the constitutions, policies, and actions of virtually every country on the continent. Read more »

International Finance: “Somalia is Different”

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Customers walk out of a Dahabshiil money transfer office in "Kilometer Five" street of Soobe village, southern Mogadishu, May 8, 2013. (Feisal Omar/Courtesy Reuters) Customers walk out of a Dahabshiil money transfer office in "Kilometer Five" street of Soobe village, southern Mogadishu, May 8, 2013. (Feisal Omar/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Sarah Madden, volunteer intern for the Council on Foreign Relations, Department of Studies. Sarah is currently a student at Santa Clara University studying business economics and entrepreneurship. Her interests are in Africa, economic development, and emerging markets. Read more »