John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Technology"

Mobile Phones, the Internet, and South Africa

by John Campbell
A worker walks past cell phone accessories at a Vodacom shop in Johannesburg February 4, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

The Institute of Race Relations’ (IRR) Centre for Risk Analysis has published a study that shows the dramatic increase in mobile phone usage in South Africa and its importance as a portal to internet usage. During the 2000-2014 period, fixed line subscriptions per one hundred people dropped by 38 percent while mobile phone subscriptions increased by 702 percent. The increase affected all races, but the growth is especially striking among ‘Coloured’ and ‘Indian’ South Africans. For Black South Africans it was 405.3 percent; for ‘Coloureds’ it was 763.6 percent; for ‘Indians’ it was 708.3 percent; for Whites it was 470.6 percent. The lower rate of increase among Blacks may reflect the higher levels of poverty among that demographic. Among whites, the lower level may reflect that many of them have long had access to land lines and to cell phones, resulting in a lower rate of usage growth. Read more »

Poor Leadership in Africa

by John Campbell
President Arthur Peter Mutharika of Malawi waits to address attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 29, 2015. (Reuters/Carlo Allegri)

Quartz Africa published a thought-provoking article by Lynsey Chutel titled “The Mystery of Africa’s Disappearing Presidents.” Her take-off point is Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika, who went to New York for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in mid-September and returned home only on October 16. His entourage refused to provide any itinerary. She cites other African leaders who take long ‘vacations’ or otherwise disappear from their countries for long periods of time: Cameroon’s President Paul Biya once spent three weeks in La Baule, France, at a cost of $40,000 per day and later spent two months at the Hotel Intercontinental in Geneva. With respect to the La Baule stay, his spokesman said, “Like any other worker, President Paul Biya has a right to his vacations.” Read more »

Into Africa: The Islamic State’s Online Strategy and Violent Extremism in Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A youth launches Twitter social media application on a tablet in Cairo, Egypt, January 24, 2016. (Reuters/Stringer)

This is a guest post by David P. Fidler. He is an Adjunct Senior Fellow for Cybersecurity at the Council on Foreign Relations and a professor of law at Indiana University. He blogs regularly at Net Politics. 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)

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 »

M-Akiba: Kenya’s Revolutionary Mobile Phone Bond Offering 

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A customer conducts a mobile money transfer, known as M-Pesa, inside the Safaricom mobile phone care centre in the central business district of Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 15, 2013. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)

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

The government of Kenya is tapping the country’s digital finance prowess to raise critical infrastructure funds. The National Treasury has teamed up with a local mobile money pioneer, Safaricom, to launch the so-called M-Akiba bond. It is the first government security carried exclusively on mobile phones. Read more »

The Consequences of Deteriorating Sanitation in Nigeria

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Children play at a slum in Ijegun Egba, a suburb of Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, July 2, 2008. (Courtesy Reuters/George Esiri)

This is a guest post by Anna Bezruki, an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Global Health Program. She studies biology at Bryn Mawr College.

According to the final report on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) released earlier this month, more than a third of the world population (2.4 billion) is still without improved sanitation. The target to halve the global population without adequate toilets by 2015 has not been reached. Consequently, sanitation has been pushed on to the post-2015 sustainable development goals (SDGs). Although India is perhaps the most widely cited failure, accounting for roughly half of open defecation worldwide, it is at least making progress toward the SDG target. The same cannot be said for Nigeria. Lacking the political infrastructure to reform sanitation and faced with security and political concerns that overshadow development goals, Nigeria is struggling to reverse the trend. Read more »

Meet Africa’s Hero Rats

by John Campbell
A worker holds a mine detecting Gambian giant pouch rat (Cricetomys Gambianus) at a mine field near Vilancoulos in southern Mozambique, 450 km (265 miles) north east of the capital Maputo, in this November 2004 file photo. (Howard Burditt/Courtesy Reuters)

Today is Earth Day, an appropriate moment to remember Africa’s HeroRats. On April 19, the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof called attention to these creatures and their ability to sniff-out land mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) as well as their ability to screen sputum samples for tuberculosis. To date these animals have detected over 48,000 land mines and UXO’s, and screened over 290,000 samples for tuberculosis. Read more »

Tracking South Africa’s Democracy in Real Time

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A search of FACTIVA’s database revealed preliminary evidence that reporting on service delivery protests has been increasing since the early 2000s, with a sharp downturn in 2013. However, this data is limited by internal factors such as FACTIVA’s addition of new sources and external factors like the media’s use of the term “service delivery protest.” Source: FACTIVA

This is a guest post by Le Chen, Janice Dean, Jesper Frant, and Rachana Kumar. They are Master of Public Administration students at Columbia University’s School of International Public Affairs. They are working with Ambassador John Campbell on a graduate practicum project, which was made possible by faculty adviser Professor Anne Nelson. A longer version of this post appeared on the World Policy Blog. Read more »

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)

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 »

President Obama in Africa: Light Up Africa

by John Campbell
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the University of Cape Town, June 30, 2013. (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters)

Important though President Barack Obama’s evocation of Nelson Mandela’s spiritual and political legacy has been, and powerful though his Africa trip’s symbolic references were–the Door of No Return at Gorée and Robben Island–many friends of Africa will most warmly welcome his Power Africa initiative. During his South Africa stop, he proposed to double access to power in Sub-Saharan Africa. Initially, Power Africa will partner with Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Tanzania. The U.S. government will look to securing some U.S. $7 billion in funding with an additional $9 billion from the private sector. Most of the public-related money will come from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation ($1.5 billion) , the U.S. Export-Import Bank ($5 billion in support of U.S. exports related to power), and the Millennium Challenge Corporation ($1 billion investment in African power systems). Congruent with the president’s emphasis on trade and investment rather than aid, only $285 million would come from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Read more »