John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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The Push to Lift U.S. Communication Technology Sanctions on Sudan

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Locals and South Sudanese refugees play video games in a market near a camp 10 km (6 miles) from al-Salam locality at the border of Sudan's White Nile state, after arriving from Malakal and al-Rank war zones within South Sudan, January 27, 2014. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Courtesy Reuters) Locals and South Sudanese refugees play video games in a market near a camp 10 km (6 miles) from al-Salam locality at the border of Sudan's White Nile state, after arriving from Malakal and al-Rank war zones within South Sudan, January 27, 2014. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Aala Abdelgadir. Aala is a research associate for the Council on Foreign Relation’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative.

After a year of collaboration with U.S. civil society groups and U.S. Department of State officials, members of Sudan’s civil society launched a campaign on January 20, 2014, to advocate that the U.S. government lift its technology sanctions on Sudan. Read more »

Somalia Needs a National Newspaper

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A woman walks by a Kenya Defence Force (KDF) soldier on the outer perimeter area of the Kismayu airport controlled by the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), November 11, 2013, (Siegfried Modola/Courtesy Reuters) A woman walks by a Kenya Defence Force (KDF) soldier on the outer perimeter area of the Kismayu airport controlled by the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), November 11, 2013, (Siegfried Modola/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jim Sanders, a career, now retired, West Africa watcher for various federal agencies. The views expressed below are his personal views and do not reflect those of his former employers.

As the Somalia diaspora returns to the country, along with foreign embassies and international organizations, the country’s long slide into darkness appears to be slowing. Despite many obstacles rendering such an idea unrealistic, establishing a national newspaper could contribute to greater unity and stability. Read more »

Uganda’s Oil Tanker Explosion: More Than Poverty?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A fuel tanker burns at the scene of a fatal road accident on the outskirts of the capital Kampala June 30, 2013. (James Akena/Courtesy Reuters) A fuel tanker burns at the scene of a fatal road accident on the outskirts of the capital Kampala June 30, 2013. (James Akena/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Brooke Bocast, a PhD candidate in anthropology at Temple University and a visiting predoctoral fellow at Northwestern University. She is currently writing her doctoral dissertation on gender, consumption, and higher education in Uganda. Read more »

Political Ferment in South Africa

by John Campbell
Anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele launches her new political party "Agang" to challenge South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Pretoria, June 22, 2013. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) Anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele launches her new political party "Agang" to challenge South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Pretoria, June 22, 2013. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

South African politics recently appears to be entering a period of flux. The opportunity for change is signaled by national icon Nelson Mandela’s serious illness. The media is regularly reporting that he is now on life support and South Africans seem to be reconciling themselves to his death. Increasingly in recent years, he has been an important touchstone for the legitimacy of the governing African National Congress (ANC), especially as scandals involving party leaders have multiplied. Read more »

The Underside of “Africa Rising”

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
General view of Alexandra township, commonly known as Alex, a slum
overlooking the Sandton sky scrappers in Johannesburg August 23, 2002. (Juda Ngwenya/Courtesy Reuters) General view of Alexandra township, commonly known as Alex, a slum overlooking the Sandton sky scrappers in Johannesburg August 23, 2002. (Juda Ngwenya/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jim Sanders, a career, now retired, West Africa watcher for various federal agencies. The views expressed below are his personal views and do not reflect those of his former employers.

Occasionally, the financial press experiences a twinge of conscience, or so it seems. News of Africa’s economic progress, in particular the growth of its middle classes, thrums almost daily though a range of papers. But this spring the Financial Times’ Simon Kuper slammed on the brakes. Read more »

Media Reports on Security Service Violence in Northern Nigeria

by John Campbell
Soldiers stand during a parade in Baga village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, in the north-eastern state of Borno May 13, 2013. (Tim Cocks/Courtesy Reuters) Soldiers stand during a parade in Baga village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, in the north-eastern state of Borno May 13, 2013. (Tim Cocks/Courtesy Reuters)

Outside observers have largely been dependent on Nigerian military statements for news about the operation of the state of emergency and Abuja’s struggle with the Islamist insurgencies lumped under the moniker of “Boko Haram.” There is little media presence in Borno, Yobe, or Adamawa, and cell phone service was largely suspended. Predictably the military is saying that its campaign is successful and that civilian casualties are few or non-existent. Read more »

Is the West Uninterested in Nigeria’s Floods?

by John Campbell
A man carries a child as he wades through flood waters in Ikorodu neighborhood of Nigeria's main city of Lagos 05/08/2007 (George Esiri/Courtesy Reuters) A man carries a child as he wades through flood waters in Ikorodu neighborhood of Nigeria's main city of Lagos 05/08/2007 (George Esiri/Courtesy Reuters)

It baffles me that the Western media is paying so little attention to the flooding in Nigeria. There are dramatic aerial photographs of the flooding in the Delta, and affected areas spread as far afield as Kano and Kogi states in northern and central Nigeria. Read more »

A Revolution Not a Coup d’État

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Protesters occupy Mali's presidential palace in the capital Bamako 21/05/2012. (Adama Diarra/Courtesy Reuters) Protesters occupy Mali's presidential palace in the capital Bamako 21/05/2012. (Adama Diarra/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Janet Goldner, a Senior Fulbright Scholar who has worked in Mali for the past fifteen years.  She works on a variety of grassroots, cultural, and women’s empowerment projects. She visited Mali again in July and August 2012. Her perspective, different from the more conventional discussion of the Mali crisis, reflects a wide range of indigenous contacts.   Read more »

Guest Post: Press Freedom and Development in Africa

by John Campbell
Journalists carry placards along a street during a protest to mark World Press Freedom day in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, May 3, 2010. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) Journalists carry placards along a street during a protest to mark World Press Freedom day in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, May 3, 2010. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Asch Harwood, CFR Africa program research associate. Follow him on Twitter at @aschlfod.

The National Endowment for Democracy’s Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) and Internews hosted an excellent discussion on “Can media development make aid more effective?”, which I was able to catch part of via a live stream on the CIMA website. You can watch it here. Read more »