John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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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 »

South Africa’s National Assembly Debates Impeachment of Zuma

by John Campbell
South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane listens in Parliament in Cape Town during a motion to impeach President Jacob Zuma after the constitutional court ruled that he breached the constitution, April 5, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane listens in Parliament in Cape Town during a motion to impeach President Jacob Zuma after the constitutional court ruled that he breached the constitution, April 5, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Last week, the Constitutional Court ruled that President Jacob Zuma and the National Assembly had violated the constitution with respect to the use of public money on the president’s Nkandla private estate and their collective failure to implement the ruling of the public protector. In the wake of that decision, Mmusi Maimane, leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), tabled a motion on the National Assembly to impeach the president. National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete scheduled debate on the impeachment motion for today, April 5. Conventional wisdom that the ANC’s overwhelming majority in the National Assembly would protect Zuma from impeachment proved correct, and the motion was defeated. Read more »

Fire Destroys Market in Nigeria’s Second Largest City

by John Campbell
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a shopping mall in Balogun market at the business district in Lagos January 12, 2015.  (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a shopping mall in Balogun market at the business district in Lagos January 12, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

Over the weekend—near the end of the Christian observance of Holy Week—a fire broke out in Kano’s Sabon Gari market. It eventually destroyed 3,800 shops, according to the Nigeria Emergency Management Administration (NEMA), obliterated at least two trillion naira (approximately ten billion dollars) worth of goods, and affected at least 18,000 traders. The NEMA director general said, “This is the biggest market fire outbreak Nigeria has ever witnessed. This is a serious calamity.” (Despite the magnitude of the disaster it has not been reported in the mainstream Western media.) Read more »

Nielsen: Ivory Coast Now Top Business Prospect in Africa

by John Campbell
A worker holds cocoa beans at SAF CACAO, a export firm in San-Pedro, Ivory Coast, January 29, 2016. (Reuters/Thierry Gouegnon) A worker holds cocoa beans at SAF CACAO, a export firm in San-Pedro, Ivory Coast, January 29, 2016. (Reuters/Thierry Gouegnon)

Nielsen’s “Africa’s Prospects: Macro Environment, Business, Consumer and Retail Outlook Indicators” of February 2016 rank orders sub-Saharan Africa’s nine leading markets. The list represents 71% of the region’s GDP, and half of its population. Ivory Coast is ranked first, Kenya second, Tanzania third, and Nigeria is fourth. It ranks Zambia as fifth, Cameroon as sixth, South Africa as seventh, Uganda as eighth, and Ghana brings up the rear. 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 »

Kenya’s Silicon Savannah Spurs Tech in Sub-Saharan Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A Somali man browses the internet on his mobile phone at a beach along the Indian Ocean coastline in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, January 10, 2014. (Reuters/Feisal Omar) A Somali man browses the internet on his mobile phone at a beach along the Indian Ocean coastline in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, January 10, 2014. (Reuters/Feisal Omar)

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.

The role of technology in sub-Saharan Africa is growing. An emerging information technology (IT) ecosystem is reinforcing regional trends in business, investment, and modernization. There is a growing patchwork of entrepreneurs, startups, and innovation centers coalescing from country to country. Read more »

Putin’s Russia and Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov (C) arrives at the airport in Abuja, Nigeria May 28, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov (C) arrives at the airport in Abuja, Nigeria May 28, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

This is a guest post by Eugene Steinberg, an assistant editor at the Council on Foreign Relations.

From 1961 to 1992, one of Moscow’s most prestigious schools bore the name of Patrice Lumumba, the Soviet-supported Congolese independence leader brutally executed in 1961. Patrice Lumumba University recruited and educated generations of foreign leaders, especially African leaders, and was just one of the many ways in which the Soviet Union cultivated ties with Africa. Then with the fall of the Soviet Union, after years of pouring money, arms, and manpower into left-leaning anticolonial movements, Russia’s presence in Africa, and Lumumba University, nearly disappeared overnight. But today, two decades later, Russia is once again working to establish a foothold on the continent. Read more »

A Primer on Nigeria’s Oil Bunkering

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Smoke rises as an illegal oil refinary burns after a military chase in a windy creek near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa December 6, 2012. Despite billions of dollars worth of oil flowing out of Nigeria South East, life for the majority of Niger Delta's inhabitants remains unchanged. Most people live in modest iron-roofed shacks, and rely on farming or fishing, their only interaction with the oil industry being when they step over pipelines in the swamps – or when a spill blights their landscape. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) Smoke rises as an illegal oil refinary burns after a military chase in a windy creek near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa December 6, 2012. Despite billions of dollars worth of oil flowing out of Nigeria South East, life for the majority of Niger Delta's inhabitants remains unchanged. Most people live in modest iron-roofed shacks, and rely on farming or fishing, their only interaction with the oil industry being when they step over pipelines in the swamps – or when a spill blights their landscape. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

This is a guest post by Emily Mangan, an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Energy and Environment Program. She studies environmental policy at Skidmore College.

After resuming from recess, the Nigerian Senate pledged to increase the country’s oil revenue by reducing oil theft. Doing so would greatly increase Nigeria’s total oil exports and reduce oil spills that cause severe environmental damage in the Niger Delta. Read more »

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 »