John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

De Beers Diamond Moves Sales Army from London to Botswana

by John Campbell Friday, October 3, 2014
A worker at the Botswana Diamond Valuing Company displays a rough diamond during the sorting process at the purpose-built centre in the capital Gaborone, August 26, 2004. (Juda Ngwenya/Courtesy Reuters) A worker at the Botswana Diamond Valuing Company displays a rough diamond during the sorting process at the purpose-built centre in the capital Gaborone, August 26, 2004. (Juda Ngwenya/Courtesy Reuters)

For the past century or so, big mining corporations have pursued their operations in Africa, but their senior management, marketing, and sales have been in Europe or North America. That is changing.

The government of Botswana and De Beers Group, the diamond company, agreed in 2011 that the latter would sort, value, and sell diamonds produced by the company Debswana, a joint 50/50 business venture between Botswana and De Beers that accounts for a third of Botswana’s GDP. For its part De Beers agreed to transfer its London based rough diamond sales to Botswana. The move involves the transfer of professionals, equipment and technology from London to Botswana’s capital, Gaborone. In November 2013, De Beers started diamond sales in Gaborone in a state-of-the-art facility. Batswana, nationals of Botswana, are about 50 percent of the de Beers’ employees in the sales division. Read more »

Nigeria’s Boko Haram and Heavy Weapons

by John Campbell Thursday, October 2, 2014
DATE IMPORTED:January 22, 2010A soldier mans a machine gun on top of an armoured vehicle outside the central mosque as Muslims pray in Nigeria's central city of Jos, January 22, 2010. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) DATE IMPORTED:January 22, 2010A soldier mans a machine gun on top of an armoured vehicle outside the central mosque as Muslims pray in Nigeria's central city of Jos, January 22, 2010. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

Ebola and Counterinsurgency—A Struggle for Legitimacy

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Supplies, including 100 tons of emergency medical aid, are seen before being loaded on to a 747 aircraft at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport September 20, 2014. The chartered 747 jet, carrying the largest single shipment of aid to the Ebola zone to date and coordinated by CGI and other U.S. aid organizations, departed the airport on Saturday afternoon bound for West Africa. (Carlo Allegri/Courtesy Reuters) Supplies, including 100 tons of emergency medical aid, are seen before being loaded on to a 747 aircraft at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport September 20, 2014. The chartered 747 jet, carrying the largest single shipment of aid to the Ebola zone to date and coordinated by CGI and other U.S. aid organizations, departed the airport on Saturday afternoon bound for West Africa. (Carlo Allegri/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Colonel Clint Hinote. He is the 2014-2015 U.S. Air Force Military Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. The opinions expressed here are his own.

As the United States sends military forces forward to support the effort to stop Ebola in West Africa, it is striking to see how similar this struggle is to counterinsurgency operations. While American soldiers will not be conducting any combat or law enforcement operations, counterinsurgency concepts are applicable to the deteriorating situation, and these have major implications for the broad coalition joining the fight against Ebola. Read more »

Ebola: The Dog That Has Not Barked

by John Campbell Tuesday, September 30, 2014
A woman passes a sign posted in an awareness campaign against the spread of Ebola in Freetown, Sierra Leone, September 18, 2014 in a handout photo provided by UNICEF. (UNICEF Handout/Courtesy Reuters) A woman passes a sign posted in an awareness campaign against the spread of Ebola in Freetown, Sierra Leone, September 18, 2014 in a handout photo provided by UNICEF. (UNICEF Handout/Courtesy Reuters)

Especially in Sierra Leone and Liberia, the Ebola news gets worse and worse, with victims and deaths seeming to grow exponentially. Yet the disease does not appear to have spread east along the Gulf of Guinea from Liberia. Given the general porosity of African national boundaries, why and how has the march of the disease seemingly stopped at the Liberia/Ivory Coast border? (In Nigeria, the index case arrived in Lagos directly by air from Monrovia; all of the Ebola cases in the country appear to have been related to him, and his contacts have been traced and quarantined.) Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update September 19-September 25

by John Campbell Monday, September 29, 2014
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 September 19 to September 25, 2014. These incidents will be included in theNigeria Security Tracker.
Read more »

Negotiations to Free Nigeria’s Kidnapped Chibok School Girls

by John Campbell Friday, September 26, 2014
Rachel Daniel, 35, holds up a picture of her abducted daughter Rose Daniel, 17, as her son Bukar, 7, sits beside her at her home in Maiduguri May 21, 2014. Rose was abducted along with more than 200 of her classmates on April 14 by Boko Haram militants from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno state. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) Rachel Daniel, 35, holds up a picture of her abducted daughter Rose Daniel, 17, as her son Bukar, 7, sits beside her at her home in Maiduguri May 21, 2014. Rose was abducted along with more than 200 of her classmates on April 14 by Boko Haram militants from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno state. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

The Nation is carrying credible reports of negotiations between the Jonathan administration and Boko Haram that would swap the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls for nineteen Boko Haram “commanders.”  The negotiations will resume after the Eid-el-Kabir holiday, October 4. The sticking point appears to be that Boko Harm wants to release thirty girls — fifteen Christians, fifteen Muslims – to test Abuja’s commitment while the government is insisting that all of the girls be released at once. Read more »

Where African Immigrants live in New York City

by John Campbell Thursday, September 25, 2014
The shaded areas of this map reflect the parts of New York City where an African language is the
 third most widely spoken language in the home. (Allen Grane/Google Maps) The shaded areas of this map reflect the parts of New York City where an African language is the third most widely spoken language in the home. (Allen Grane/Google Maps)

As I have written earlier, there is significant immigration from Africa to the United States underway. The New York Times estimates that those born in Africa are about 4 percent of New York City’s immigrant population. Read more »

Is the International Response to Ebola Enough?

by John Campbell Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Health workers wearing protective clothing prepare to carry an abandoned dead body presenting with Ebola symptoms at Duwala market in Monrovia August 17, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Health workers wearing protective clothing prepare to carry an abandoned dead body presenting with Ebola symptoms at Duwala market in Monrovia August 17, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

The Centers for Disease Control has modeled the possible spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone and Liberia. (It did not address Ebola in Guinea.) Based on its computer models, it concludes that the range of victims is between 550,000 and 1,400,000, not taking into account the international Ebola relief efforts. The CDC’s worst-case scenario posts 21,000 cases of Ebola by September 30 and 1,400,000 cases by January 20, 2015. Its best case scenario has the epidemic nearing its end by the same month. The New York Times quotes CDC director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden as saying that the situation was improving because of the arrival of international assistance: “My gut feeling is the actions we’re taking now are going to make that worst-case scenario not come to pass. But it is important to understand that it could happen.” Read more »

Boko Haram’s Abubakar Shekau Dead or Alive?

by John Campbell Tuesday, September 23, 2014
A poster advertising for the search of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is pasted on a wall in Baga village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, in the north-eastern state of Borno May 13, 2013. (Tim Cocks/Courtesy Reuters) A poster advertising for the search of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is pasted on a wall in Baga village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, in the north-eastern state of Borno May 13, 2013. (Tim Cocks/Courtesy Reuters)

With his gruesome videos and fierce rhetoric, Abubakar Shekau is the public face of Boko Haram, the Islamist insurrection against the Nigerian secular state centered in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. However, there is little hard intelligence on the internal dynamics of Boko Haram’s leadership. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update September 13- September 19

by John Campbell Monday, September 22, 2014
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 September 13 to September 19, 2014. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker.
Read more »