John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Trade"

Huge Diamond Mined in South Africa

by John Campbell
A visitor holds a 17 carat diamond at a Petra Diamonds mine in Cullinan, outside Pretoria, January 22, 2009. London-listed Petra Diamonds said it expected a difficult operating environment going into 2009 and that it saw conditions improving by the end of 2010.  (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters) A visitor holds a 17 carat diamond at a Petra Diamonds mine in Cullinan, outside Pretoria, January 22, 2009. London-listed Petra Diamonds said it expected a difficult operating environment going into 2009 and that it saw conditions improving by the end of 2010. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters)

Diamonds are associated with glamour and South Africa. The Cullinan Mine, east of Pretoria, is famous for diamonds of the huge variety, including the ‘Cullinan Diamond,’ at 3,106 carets, the largest gem quality diamond ever found. The owner presented it to King Edward VII in 1905, and the Great Star of Africa, which was cut from it, is in the scepter of the royal regalia used at the coronation of British monarchs. Read more »

Big Men: Ghana, Nigeria, and the United States

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Ebiowei, 48, carries an empty oil container on his head to a place where it would be filled with refined fuel at an illegal refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) Ebiowei, 48, carries an empty oil container on his head to a place where it would be filled with refined fuel at an illegal refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

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

A great discovery often brings together strange bedfellows. Such is the case when the Jubilee Oil Field is discovered within Ghana’s national waters in the Gulf of Guinea. The heights and depths of the relationships between the people and groups pulled together around this oil field is the subject of the new Rachel Boyton (director) and Brad Pitt (producer) documentary Big Men. The documentary was filmed over five years from first discovery of the oil field to nearing “first oil” -when actual production begins. Read more »

Tracking the Traffickers: President Obama Against Poaching

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officials display recovered elephants tusks and illegally held firearms taken from poachers at their headquarters in Kenya's capital Nairobi, January 16, 2013. (Noor Khamis/Courtesy Reuters) Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officials display recovered elephants tusks and illegally held firearms taken from poachers at their headquarters in Kenya's capital Nairobi, January 16, 2013. (Noor Khamis/Courtesy Reuters)

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

Wildlife trafficking ranks among the top five most lucrative illicit commodities in the world, alongside drugs, human trafficking, counterfeiting, and weapons. Unfortunately, the response by the U.S. federal government is small. Read more »

Tracking the Traffickers: Selling Out the Rhinos

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A White rhino walks after exiting a cage at Kenya's Nairobi National Park May 3, 2011. (Noor Khamis/Courtesy Reuters) A White rhino walks after exiting a cage at Kenya's Nairobi National Park May 3, 2011. (Noor Khamis/Courtesy Reuters)

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

There is a debate over whether a tightly regulated legal trade in rhino horn could help stem the tide of rhino poaching in southern Africa. Most rhino horn, like ivory, finds its way to the Far East. The largest consumer of ivory is China. Vietnam is the largest consumer of rhino horn. It’s ground into a powder and used in traditional and modern medicines to cure everything from cancer and the flu, to hangovers, and as an aphrodisiac among the nouveau riche. It is also carved into libation cups for use in temples. The use of rhino horn is a deep-rooted tradition, even though the horn is keratin (as are human fingernails and hair) and has no medicinal properties. 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 »

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea Greater than in the Horn of Africa

by John Campbell
An Ivory Coast gendarmerie boat is seen at the port of Abidjan, April 23, 2013. (Thierry Gouegnon/Courtesy Reuters) An Ivory Coast gendarmerie boat is seen at the port of Abidjan, April 23, 2013. (Thierry Gouegnon/Courtesy Reuters)

It is official. There is more piracy in the Gulf of Guinea now than off the coast of Somalia. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB), Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP), and the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) have published an intriguing report: The Human Cost of Maritime Piracy 2012. It is a fascinating read. It states that 966 sailors were attacked in the Gulf of Guinea and adjoining water in 2012, while 851 were victims of pirate attacks off the Somali coast over the same period. The report analyzes the differences in piracy between the two areas. In West Africa, it mostly takes place in national territorial waters, especially off of Nigeria, rather than in international waters. Vessels awaiting entry into port and those transferring oil from one vessel to another are particularly vulnerable. Rather than kidnapping for ransom as Somali pirates do, West African pirates are after oil cargoes or, in some cases, the personal property to be found on the vessels. Read more »

Tracking the Traffickers: Poaching Is a Symptom of a Deeper Disease

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
The carcasses of some of the 22 elephant slaughtered in a helicopter-bourne attack lie on the ground in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Garamba National Park, in this undated handout picture released by the DRC Military. (Handout/Courtesy Reuters) The carcasses of some of the 22 elephant slaughtered in a helicopter-bourne attack lie on the ground in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Garamba National Park, in this undated handout picture released by the DRC Military. (Handout/Courtesy Reuters)

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

Robert Hormats, U.S. undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy, and the environment, recently flagged ivory as a “conflict resource.” His classification adds emphasis to what is by now a generally accepted reality; ivory trafficking funds instability in Africa. Read more »

Tracking the Traffickers: Alarming Trends in Ivory Smuggling

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
An illegal consignment of five tonnes of Ivory confiscated from smugglers is destroyed during the African Elephant Law Enforcement Day in Tsavo West National Park, 380 km (236 miles) east of capital Nairobi July 20, 2011. (Noor Khamis/Courtesy Reuters) An illegal consignment of five tonnes of Ivory confiscated from smugglers is destroyed during the African Elephant Law Enforcement Day in Tsavo West National Park, 380 km (236 miles) east of capital Nairobi July 20, 2011. (Noor Khamis/Courtesy Reuters)

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

The illegal trade in “bloody teeth,” the name traffickers have given ivory, reached new heights in 2012. According to TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, more than 32,000 elephants were killed in Africa in 2012 alone to supply the growing demand in ivory. This is a higher number than at any point since the international ivory trade ban was implemented in 1989. Read more »

South Africa’s Bond Rating Downgraded

by John Campbell
Zar_Exchange

In the aftermath of the Marikana strike and associated violence, the rand has remained highly volatile against the dollar. Industrial unrest is spreading in the mining and trucking industries.  Last week, Moody’s, the international ratings agency, downgraded the South African government bond rating from A3 to Baa1. It cited uncertainty about the government’s ability to address the country’s socioeconomic problems as justification. Yesterday, Bank of America warned of the risk of a further credit downgrade by Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch if the uncertainty persists. Read more »

Africa Impoverished?

by John Campbell
A woman and her children wash gravel from local mines in hope of finding sapphires in the town of Sakaraha 16/09/2007. (Jasleen Kaur Sethi/Courtesy Reuteres) A woman and her children wash gravel from local mines in hope of finding sapphires in the town of Sakaraha 16/09/2007. (Jasleen Kaur Sethi/Courtesy Reuteres)

I had always thought that Africa was a cornucopia of mineral riches:  gold, platinum, coal, diamonds, oil–you name it; Africa has it all.

Maybe not so, writes Bright Simons in “Africa’s Fabulous Mineral Wealth that Isn’t all There,” published in African Arguments.  Read more »