John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Update on South Africa’s Nkandla Scandal

by John Campbell Thursday, July 7, 2016
A member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) stands on the roof of a house they built for an elderly woman, near the homestead of South African President Jacob Zuma (in the background), in Nkandla, January 11, 2014. (Reuters/Rogan Ward) A member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) stands on the roof of a house they built for an elderly woman, near the homestead of South African President Jacob Zuma (in the background), in Nkandla, January 11, 2014. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

As directed by the South African courts, the Treasury has determined that President Jacob Zuma owes the state ZAR 7.8 million (US$ 531,024) for work done on his private home, Nkandla. The South African government has spent over ZAR 246 million (US$ 16,747,680) ostensibly on “security upgrades.” Those include underground bunkers, a heliport, and elaborate communications facilities. But, they also include amenities not related to security such as a swimming pool, a chicken run, and a visitors’ center. It is these types of facilities for which the Treasury is seeking repayment. Read more »

Guinea-Bissau: The Road Ahead

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, July 6, 2016
A delegate from Guinea-Bissau attends the opening plenary December 7, 2009 at the Bella Center in Copenhagen, the venue of the COP15 Climate Summit, which started today and runs till December 18. (Reuters/Keld Navntoft) A delegate from Guinea-Bissau attends the opening plenary December 7, 2009 at the Bella Center in Copenhagen, the venue of the COP15 Climate Summit, which started today and runs till December 18. (Reuters/Keld Navntoft)

This is a guest post by Russell Hanks. Mr. Hanks is a national security professional and a retired diplomat with the U.S. Department of State.

Guinea-Bissau has a new government, or not, only a few months after the previous attempt to paper over its seriously polarized politics. Elections in 2014 were indecisive and installed officials with the same differences that led to the 2012 coup. The current dispensation is no more likely to bring political stability to the nation than the last. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: June 25–July 1

by John Campbell Tuesday, July 5, 2016
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 June 25, 2016 to July 1, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Under the Radar: People with Albinism in Eastern and Southern Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, July 1, 2016
An albino girl smiles in Mitindo Primary School in Nyawilimilwa, Mwanza region of Tanzania, November 21, 2009. (Reuters/Katrina Manson) An albino girl smiles in Mitindo Primary School in Nyawilimilwa, Mwanza region of Tanzania, November 21, 2009. (Reuters/Katrina Manson)

Nathan Birhanu is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. He is a graduate of Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

Albinism is a hereditary condition from birth where an individual, partially or completely, lacks pigmentation in the skin, hair, and eyes. The condition is found in one in every 20,000 people globally. The topic of albinism is of importance in sub-Saharan Africa where rates can reach as high as one in 1,400 people because of a variety of factors. Read more »

Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s Indictment of African Presidential Leadership

by John Campbell Thursday, June 30, 2016
Sudanese-born telecommunications entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim addresses participants during the launch of the 2008 Ibrahim Index of African Governance in Addis Ababa, October 6, 2008. (Reuters/Irada Humbatova) Sudanese-born telecommunications entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim addresses participants during the launch of the 2008 Ibrahim Index of African Governance in Addis Ababa, October 6, 2008. (Reuters/Irada Humbatova)

In 2016, once again, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation has found no retiring African leader qualified for the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African leadership. Mo Ibrahim, a British-Sudanese telecom billionaire, set-up the prize in 2006. It may be awarded annually to an African elected head of state who promoted good governance and then left office in accordance with the constitution. The prize is very rich: $5 million, spread over ten years, followed by $200,000 a year for life. Read more »

Are U.S. Efforts Successfully Countering Terrorism in Africa?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, June 29, 2016
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) puts his arm around Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta as they depart after their joint news conference after their meeting at the State House in Nairobi, July 25, 2015. (Courtesy/Jonathan Ernst ) U.S. President Barack Obama (L) puts his arm around Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta as they depart after their joint news conference after their meeting at the State House in Nairobi, July 25, 2015. (Courtesy/Jonathan Ernst )

This post was co-authored by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn and Andrea Walther-Puri. Cheryl is an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School. Andrea is a researcher focusing on security sector reform and a PhD candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Read more »

BREXIT and Africa

by John Campbell Tuesday, June 28, 2016
People chat in front of an electronic board displaying movements in major indices at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange building in Sandton Johannesburg July 9, 2015.
(Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) People chat in front of an electronic board displaying movements in major indices at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange building in Sandton Johannesburg July 9, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

It is early to assess the long term consequences for sub-Saharan Africa of the United Kingdom’s (UK) vote to leave the European Union (EU) on June 24. However, in the short term, it is useful to look at the performance in the exchange rates and stock exchanges of Nigeria and South Africa since the referendum. They provide something of an indication of the wider impact Brexit had on Africa. Nigeria and South Africa together account for more than half of sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product. Both have long had close ties with the UK, especially with respect to trade and financial services. In addition, there are myriad other ties between the UK and Nigeria and South Africa. For example, there is a large British expatriate community living in South Africa. The Nigerian expatriate population in the UK is also significant, and wealthy Nigerians have long favored the UK for education, health services, and second homes. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: June 18–June 24

by John Campbell Monday, June 27, 2016
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 June 18, 2016 to June 24, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Ethiopia and Eritrea Clash: Who Is to Blame and What Is to Be Gained?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, June 24, 2016
Eritreans walk past a tank abandoned during the 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia, in Shambuko Town, December 23, 2005. (Courtesy/Ed Harris) Eritreans walk past a tank abandoned during the 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia, in Shambuko Town, December 23, 2005. (Courtesy/Ed Harris)

This piece has been co-authored by John Campbell and Nathan Birhanu. Nathan is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. He is a graduate of Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development. Read more »

Massive Ivory Shipment Seized in South Sudan

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, June 23, 2016
A customs officer arranges confiscated elephant tusks before a news conference at the Port Authority of Thailand in Bangkok, April 20, 2015. (Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom) A customs officer arranges confiscated elephant tusks before a news conference at the Port Authority of Thailand in Bangkok, April 20, 2015. (Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom)

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

Last week, authorities at Juba International Airport seized nearly a ton and a half of ivory in South Sudan. This seizure highlights some of the critical factors in the fight against wildlife trafficking. Read more »