John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Trade"

IMF Managing Director Lagarde’s Visit a Boost for President Buhari

by John Campbell
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde attend a meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, January 5, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde attend a meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, January 5, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

President Muhammadu Buhari faces a serious economic crisis related to the plunge in the world price of oil, slow rates of economic growth, the prospect of rising American interest rates, a falling national currency, and declining government revenues. At the same time, he is working to restructure the economy away from undue dependence on oil by increasing infrastructure investment and vigorously pursuing an anti-corruption agenda demonstrated by the arrests of high-profile public figures. 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 »

A Primer on Nigeria’s Oil Bunkering

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Smoke rises as an illegal oil refinary burns after a military chase in a windy creek near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa December 6, 2012. Despite billions of dollars worth of oil flowing out of Nigeria South East, life for the majority of Niger Delta's inhabitants remains unchanged. Most people live in modest iron-roofed shacks, and rely on farming or fishing, their only interaction with the oil industry being when they step over pipelines in the swamps – or when a spill blights their landscape. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) Smoke rises as an illegal oil refinary burns after a military chase in a windy creek near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa December 6, 2012. Despite billions of dollars worth of oil flowing out of Nigeria South East, life for the majority of Niger Delta's inhabitants remains unchanged. Most people live in modest iron-roofed shacks, and rely on farming or fishing, their only interaction with the oil industry being when they step over pipelines in the swamps – or when a spill blights their landscape. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

This is a guest post by Emily Mangan, an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Energy and Environment Program. She studies environmental policy at Skidmore College.

After resuming from recess, the Nigerian Senate pledged to increase the country’s oil revenue by reducing oil theft. Doing so would greatly increase Nigeria’s total oil exports and reduce oil spills that cause severe environmental damage in the Niger Delta. Read more »

President Obama Visits Kenya and Ethiopia

by John Campbell
A security guard walks past a wall mural depicting U.S. President Barack Obama outside the Go-Down Art Centre in Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 17, 2015. Kenya is preparing itself for a visit by U.S. President Obama in the coming week. Seen as a son of the East African nation owing to his father being Kenyan, many see this visit as a long overdue homecoming, while others question how long authorities can keep up the upgrades after Obama is gone. (Courtesy Reuters/Thomas Mukoya) A security guard walks past a wall mural depicting U.S. President Barack Obama outside the Go-Down Art Centre in Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 17, 2015. Kenya is preparing itself for a visit by U.S. President Obama in the coming week. Seen as a son of the East African nation owing to his father being Kenyan, many see this visit as a long overdue homecoming, while others question how long authorities can keep up the upgrades after Obama is gone. (Courtesy Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)

Whatever decision the White House makes in selecting the countries included on a presidential visit to Africa, it is bound to draw critical scrutiny. On July 24, President Obama departs for a trip to Kenya and Ethiopia. Two reasons for these two countries seem immediately clear. An important focus of the trip will be the African Union (AU), which has its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held this year in Nairobi, Kenya. The AU is the lodestar of the “African solutions to African problems” policy, while the Entrepreneurship Summit demonstrates a focus on economic development. Both are policy goals keenly supported by the United States. However, there is also a symbolic significance to this decision. Many in Africa have questioned why President Obama, with a Kenyan father, has not yet visited Nairobi during his presidency. This absence has contributed to disappointment in Africa that the Obama presidency has not been particularly African in its focus. Read more »

Bans on Wildlife Trade Gaining Steam

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
An elephant walks through a swamp during sunset in Amboseli National Park, January 26, 2015. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic). An elephant walks through a swamp during sunset in Amboseli National Park, January 26, 2015. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic).

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

At the end of May the Chinese government announced that following a one year ban on ivory imports, it will “strictly control ivory processing and trade until the commercial processing and sale of ivory and its products are eventually halted.” If the Chinese are able to follow through, this could be one of the most important actions taken to end the illicit trade of Ivory that is contributing to the decimation of elephant populations in Africa (China is the largest market for elephant ivory). Read more »

Chicken Tax Strains U.S.-South Africa Relationship

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Representatives from various African nations gather at the opening session at the AGOA Forum during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington on August 4, 2014. ( Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters) Representatives from various African nations gather at the opening session at the AGOA Forum during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington on August 4, 2014. ( Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Nathaniel Glidden, intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. He is currently pursuing a Master’s in International Affairs with concentrations in Development and Cities & Social Justice at The New School. Read more »

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 »