John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Africa’s Changing Economic Landscape

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A truck is loaded with bags of tea leaves at a plantation in Nandi Hills, in Kenya's highlands region west of capital Nairobi, November 5, 2014. (Reuters/Noor Khamis) A truck is loaded with bags of tea leaves at a plantation in Nandi Hills, in Kenya's highlands region west of capital Nairobi, November 5, 2014. (Reuters/Noor Khamis)

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

Bloomberg Markets’ Michael Cohen and Helen Nyambura-Mwaura have analyzed the current state of Africa’s economies in a very interesting article. They point out that despite the current poor performance of Africa’s larger economies (particularly Nigeria and South Africa), some of the continent’s smaller economies, especially in East Africa, are doing well and will likely continue to do so. Read more »

Illegal Mining and the Role of “Zama Zamas” in South Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A miner is seen underground at Lonmin Plc's Karee mine in Marikana, Rustenburg 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, March 5, 2013. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) A miner is seen underground at Lonmin Plc's Karee mine in Marikana, Rustenburg 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, March 5, 2013. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Nathan Birhanu is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. He is a graduate of Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

In recent years, the mining industry has struggled to turn a profit due to a slowdown in demand from China’s economy and an oversupply from producers. South Africa’s mining companies, who export primarily platinum, iron ore, gold, coal, and manganese, have been heavily affected by the downturn. Read more »

South Africa’s Currency Falls Again on Rumors of Finance Minister’s Arrest

by John Campbell
South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan gestures during a media briefing in Sandton near Johannesburg, March 14, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan gestures during a media briefing in Sandton near Johannesburg, March 14, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

On May 15, the Sunday Times (English, Johannesburg) published rumors of the impending arrest of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan over alleged revenue service irregularities. However, on May 16, Beeld (Afrikaans, Johannesburg) reported that President Zuma denied the Sunday Times report. Nevertheless, the South African national currency, the rand (ZAR), fell the following two days, reaching its weakest level in two months; it has fallen 2.1 percent against the U.S. dollar since March 15. Read more »

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 »