John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: August 13 – August 19

by John Campbell
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from August 13, 2016 to August 19, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. 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 »

Islamist Terrorism in South Africa

by John Campbell
A Cape Town Muslim awaits the sighting of the crescent moon marking Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, along the city's Sea Point beachfront, September 9, 2010. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) A Cape Town Muslim awaits the sighting of the crescent moon marking Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, along the city's Sea Point beachfront, September 9, 2010. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Over the past few days, both the United Kingdom and the United States have warned their nationals of a possible Islamist terrorist attack in South Africa. The warnings cite upscale shopping malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town as the most likely targets. Read more »

South Africa’s Land “Expropriation Bill”

by John Campbell
A Muslim man stands next to iftar (breaking fast) meal plates on the first day of Ramadan in India, at the Jama Masjid (Grand Mosque) in the old quarters of Delhi, India July 7, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) A Muslim man stands next to iftar (breaking fast) meal plates on the first day of Ramadan in India, at the Jama Masjid (Grand Mosque) in the old quarters of Delhi, India July 7, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

There is less than meets the eye to the South African parliament’s passage at the end of May of a land reform bill, called the “Expropriation Bill.” Ostensibly, the new legislation has some similarity to law of eminent domain in the United States. The new legislation would permit the government to take land for a “public purpose,” but (as in the United States) South African landowners would be compensated with an amount determined by a new ‘valuer general.’ The new legislation replaces the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle of land reform. Read more »

Ethiopia’s Forgotten Drought

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Residents wait to receive food aid at a distribution centre in Halo village, a drought-stricken area in Oromia region in Ethiopia, January 31, 2016. (Reuters/Edmund Blair) Residents wait to receive food aid at a distribution centre in Halo village, a drought-stricken area in Oromia region in Ethiopia, January 31, 2016. (Reuters/Edmund Blair)

This is a guest post by Gabriella Meltzer, Research Associate in Global Health for the Council on Foreign Relations Studies program.

El Niño was first discovered in the 1600s when fishermen noticed that in some years, water temperatures in the Pacific became warmer than usual. Hence, according to the National Ocean Service, El Niño today refers to “large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific.” These anomalous weather patterns vary across regions, ranging from heavy rainfall and flooding to severe drought. Read more »

Africa’s Middle Class

by John Campbell
Miners gesture next to houses, part of a 2.8 billion rand ($255 million) housing project put together by their employer at the WaterKlooff Hills in Rustenburg, September 16, 2014. (Courtesy/Siphiwe Sibeko) Miners gesture next to houses, part of a 2.8 billion rand ($255 million) housing project put together by their employer at the WaterKlooff Hills in Rustenburg, September 16, 2014. (Courtesy/Siphiwe Sibeko)

According to a recent Credit Suisse report, the African middle class is almost seventeen times smaller than had been previously thought. For at least a decade it has been conventional wisdom among investors that Africa’s middle class is growing, that the “lions are on the move” (McKinsey’s phrase), and that the continent is the next China for frontier market investors. In 2011, the African Development Bank’s (AFDB) paper, “The Middle Pyramid: Dynamics of the Middle Class in Africa,” had classified 313 million Africans as middle class, further supporting the optimistic narrative. Read more »

India and Africa: Partners With Potential

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma (L) shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a photo opportunity before the start of their bilateral meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, October 28, 2015.  (Reuters/Adnan Abidi) South Africa's President Jacob Zuma (L) shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a photo opportunity before the start of their bilateral meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, October 28, 2015. (Reuters/Adnan Abidi)

This is a guest post by Ashlyn Anderson, research associate for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations.

India recently hosted a milestone summit attended by delegations from all fifty-four African countries. Confronting similar development challenges, India and the nations of Africa charted plans to deepen ties and unite to address shared global concerns. India is one of many countries keen to participate in Africa’s rise, and the third India-Africa Forum Summit signaled an alignment of interests and the potential for a closer relationship. 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 »

August Boko Haram Killings Approach Pre-Election Levels

by John Campbell
Security and emergency agency staff investigate the Kano Central Mosque bombing scene in Kano November 29, 2014. Gunmen set off three bombs and opened fire on worshippers at the main mosque in north Nigeria's biggest city Kano on Friday, killing at least 81 people, witnesses and officials said, in an attack that bore the hallmarks of Islamist Boko Haram militants. (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer) Security and emergency agency staff investigate the Kano Central Mosque bombing scene in Kano November 29, 2014. Gunmen set off three bombs and opened fire on worshippers at the main mosque in north Nigeria's biggest city Kano on Friday, killing at least 81 people, witnesses and officials said, in an attack that bore the hallmarks of Islamist Boko Haram militants. (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer)

Over the last weekend in August, suspected Boko Haram operatives killed some eighty people in three villages in northeast Nigeria, according to the media. The latest round of killings highlights a dramatic resurgence of violence associated with Boko Haram. Read more »

Boko Haram Turns to Lagos

by John Campbell
An aerial view shows the central business district in Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, April 7, 2009. Nigeria's First Bank and Access Bank on Wednesday became two of a handful of Nigerian financial institutions to adopt international reporting standards, seen as key to restoring confidence in the battered sector. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) An aerial view shows the central business district in Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, April 7, 2009. Nigeria's First Bank and Access Bank on Wednesday became two of a handful of Nigerian financial institutions to adopt international reporting standards, seen as key to restoring confidence in the battered sector. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

Lagos, one of the largest cities in the world and the heart of Nigeria’s modern economy, has not been the venue for Boko Haram or other radical jihadi terrorism. The sole episode occurred in 2014 and was small in scale. However, Nigeria’s Department of State Services (DSS), which has some similarities to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, is raising the possibility that Lagos’ immunity may be about to change. Read more »