John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Technology"

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 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) 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) 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 »

Mapping Mogadishu and the Problem of Warlord Politicians

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
People stand in front of a building destroyed during a fight between al Shabaab militants against African Union and Somali Government forces in Mogadishu June 26, 2012. (Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters) People stand in front of a building destroyed during a fight between al Shabaab militants against African Union and Somali Government forces in Mogadishu June 26, 2012. (Goran Tomasevic/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.

Somalia is clawing its way out of twenty years of war-torn chaos. Some are proposing initiatives that use innovative technology to assist in state building and recovery, but they face a struggle against Somalia’s warlord-dominated past. Many former warlords remain in power at various levels of government and civil society. This dynamic of warlord versus technology is therefore becoming a lively discussion. Read more »

Boko Haram Attacking Nigeria’s Mobile Phone Infrastructure

by John Campbell
Jamil Idriss charges 50 naira ($0.33) to recharge phone batteries using rows of three-pin sockets nailed to a plank of wood and plugged into a diesel generator in the Obalende District of Lagos May 20, 2010. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) Jamil Idriss charges 50 naira ($0.33) to recharge phone batteries using rows of three-pin sockets nailed to a plank of wood and plugged into a diesel generator in the Obalende District of Lagos May 20, 2010. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

This Day is reporting that Boko Haram operatives are staging “unrelenting” attacks on the telecommunications infrastructure, especially in the states of Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, and Kano, Nigeria’s second largest city. It reports that members of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), principally MTN, GLO, Airtel, and Etisalat, are threatening to suspend telecommunications services in the North. An ALTON spokesperson said at least twenty-five base stations belonging to its members have been destroyed, many of them hubs. A spokesman said that a base station costs between N500 million and N1 billion ($3 million-$6 million). Read more »

Guest Post: Kony 2012 “Cover the Night” a Flop?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Supporters watch a projection that is part of the non-profit organization Invisible Children's "Kony 2012" viral video campaign in New York April 20, 2012. (Keith Bedford/Courtesy Reuters) Supporters watch a projection that is part of the non-profit organization Invisible Children's "Kony 2012" viral video campaign in New York April 20, 2012. (Keith Bedford/Courtesy Reuters)

Asch Harwood is the Africa program research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Update: I was recently interviewed on NPR’s “On the Media.” You can listen here. Read more »

Guest Post: Is Boko Haram Middle Class?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A view of the scene of a bomb blast is seen in Nigeria's northern city of Kaduna April 8, 2012. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) A view of the scene of a bomb blast is seen in Nigeria's northern city of Kaduna April 8, 2012. (Stringer/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.

In his informative Financial Times piece, “BlackBerrys flourish in the malls of Lagos,” Xan Rice focuses mainly on blackberry manufacturer Research In Motion, the firm’s market outlook for Nigeria, and about what this tells us about Nigeria’s emerging middle class. Read more »

Guest Post: KONY 2012, Beyond the Buzz

by John Campbell
Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) soldiers, in this exclusive image, pose during peace negotiations between the LRA and Ugandan religious and cultural leaders in Ri-Kwangba, southern Sudan, November 30, 2008. (Africa 24 Media/Courtesy Reuters) Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) soldiers, in this exclusive image, pose during peace negotiations between the LRA and Ugandan religious and cultural leaders in Ri-Kwangba, southern Sudan, November 30, 2008. (Africa 24 Media/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Melissa Bukuru, CFR Africa program intern.

After 50 million views and a media buzz that shows no sign of dying down quickly, backlash to Invisible Children’s KONY 2012 video campaign was inevitable. Many African journalists are protesting the “imperialist” undertones of the video, arguing that the video presents only a “single story”and ignores the community-based organizations already at work in Uganda and its neighbors (not to mention plenty of important details about the LRA.) Read more »

Guest Post: New Figures on Facebook and Twitter in Africa

by John Campbell
Nairobi University students study with computers during the launch of Facebook in Nairobi March 27, 2008. (Antony Njuguna/Courtesy Reuters ) Nairobi University students study with computers during the launch of Facebook in Nairobi March 27, 2008. (Antony Njuguna/Courtesy Reuters )

This is a guest post by Asch Harwood and Melissa Bukuru. Asch is the CFR Africa program research associate. Follow him on Twitter at @aschlfod. Melissa is the CFR Africa program intern.

Like mobile statistics (which Asch wrote about yesterday), information on social media use can also be thin. A communications firm, Portland, has set out to address this deficit and measure just how prevalent Twitter and how it is being used across Africa. They analyzed about 11.5 million geolocated tweets across the continent (including North Africa). Read more »

Guest Post: Defining Mobile Phone Usage in Africa

by John Campbell
Nokia mobile phone chargers are seen at Abubakr Ali's (C) market stall in Abu Shouk Camp, Darfur, February 11, 2010. (Andrew Heavens/Courtesy Reuters) Nokia mobile phone chargers are seen at Abubakr Ali's (C) market stall in Abu Shouk Camp, Darfur, February 11, 2010. (Andrew Heavens/Courtesy Reuters)

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

A comment was recently made to me citing the huge number of mobile phones in Nigeria—over 90 million—as an indicator of that country’s budding middle class. However, in this conversation, my interlocutor failed to make the distinction between mobile phones and mobile phones subscriptions, which turns out to be important. Read more »