John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

International Assistance for Nigerian Refugees

by John Campbell Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Refugees gather in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp, that was set up for Nigerians fleeing the violence committed against them by Boko Haram militants, at Wurojuli, Gombe State, September 1, 2014. (Samuel Ini/Courtesy Reuters) Refugees gather in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp, that was set up for Nigerians fleeing the violence committed against them by Boko Haram militants, at Wurojuli, Gombe State, September 1, 2014. (Samuel Ini/Courtesy Reuters)

In the best of times, Northeastern Nigeria and the adjoining regions in neighboring Chad, Niger, and Cameroon are among the poorest regions in the world. Food security, especially, is highly fragile in the face of desertification and overpopulation. These are not the best of times. Read more »

1,155 Rhinos Poached in South Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Tuesday, January 13, 2015
A White Rhino and her calf walk in the dusk light in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa's North West Province, April 19, 2012. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) A White Rhino and her calf walk in the dusk light in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa's North West Province, April 19, 2012. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

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

Home to the world’s largest rhino population, South Africa saw 1,155 rhinos illegally killed in 2014. That is a 15 percent increase on 2013’s 1004 poached rhinos. More than 4.6 percent of an approximate total of 25,000 rhinos in Africa were killed this past year in South Africa alone. Read more »

“Je Suis Charlie” and Northern Nigeria

by John Campbell Monday, January 12, 2015
Displaced people gather as the Red Cross in Kano distributes relief materials to displaced victims of the Boko Haram violence, December 16, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer) Displaced people gather as the Red Cross in Kano distributes relief materials to displaced victims of the Boko Haram violence, December 16, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer)

In the aftermath of the January 7 Islamist terrorist attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a separate but apparently related January 9 attack on a Jewish supermarket, both in Paris, over 3 million demonstrated throughout France in solidarity against terrorism. In Paris, demonstrators numbered some 1.6 million. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update January 3-January 9

by John Campbell Monday, January 12, 2015
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 January 3, 2015 to January 9, 2015. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Ten Years Later: Taking Stock of Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, January 9, 2015
Sudan's Ali Osman Mohamed Taha and Sudan People's Liberation Movement leader John Garang laugh before the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Kenya's capital Nairobi, January 9, 2005. (Courtesy REUTERS/Antony Njuguna) Sudan's Ali Osman Mohamed Taha and Sudan People's Liberation Movement leader John Garang laugh before the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Kenya's capital Nairobi, January 9, 2005. (Courtesy REUTERS/Antony Njuguna)

This is a guest post by Aala Abdelgadir, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relation’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative.

Ten years ago today, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) ended twenty-one years of civil war in Sudan. The internationally brokered accord between the governing National Congress Party (NCP) in the north and the southern rebel forces of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Army (SPLM/A, later SPLM) was hailed as a tremendous achievement at the time. However, a decade later, an independent South Sudan is mired in civil conflict, political tensions and rebel violence are rife in Sudan, and the CPA has failed to establish peace and stability. Read more »

Paying Nigeria’s Civil Servants

by John Campbell Thursday, January 8, 2015
Youths and workers carrying signs protest at a rally marking May Day outside an open field in Lagos, May 1, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) Youths and workers carrying signs protest at a rally marking May Day outside an open field in Lagos, May 1, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

A large proportion of the government of Nigeria’s revenue goes to pay the salaries of civil servants at the national, state, and local levels. With the exception of Lagos state, the heart of Nigeria’s modern economy, the states and the local government authorities have few sources of revenue of their own. They are largely dependent on revenue from the Federation Account, the share of oil revenue distributed by the federal government according to a set formula. Read more »

More Alarm Bells for Nigeria’s February Elections

by John Campbell Wednesday, January 7, 2015
A building of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) is set ablazed in Nigeria's central city of Jos, December 26, 2010. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) A building of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) is set ablazed in Nigeria's central city of Jos, December 26, 2010. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

The All Progressives Congress (APC) is the chief opposition party contesting the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the political control of Nigeria in national elections on February 14, 2015. The PDP’s presidential candidate is incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, a southern Christian. The APC’s candidate is Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler, a northern Muslim. Read more »

Balzac and Nigeria’s Boko Haram

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Muslims attend prayers during the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha at an open field in Lagos, October 4, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) Muslims attend prayers during the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha at an open field in Lagos, October 4, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/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.

Balzac’s early novel, Les Chouans (1829), is not critics’ favorite. But, the book, which deals with a revolt in Brittany of Chouans–peasants with royalist sympathies–against the French revolution, is a masterpiece of guerrilla warfare analysis. As I read it, I thought of Boko Haram–a sign of obsession, perhaps, or just simple curiosity. While chronological and cultural contexts are vastly different, I started to see commonalities between guerrillas fighting a civil war, regardless of time and place. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update December 27-January 2

by John Campbell Monday, January 5, 2015
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 December 27, 2014 to January 2, 2015. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker.
Read more »

Looking Forward: Africa 2015

by John Campbell Thursday, January 1, 2015
A boy stands in front of wind turbines at the Ashegoda Wind Farm, near a village in Mekelle, Tigray, 780 km (485 miles) north of Addis Ababa, October 25, 2013. (Kumerra Gemechu/Couresy Reuters) A boy stands in front of wind turbines at the Ashegoda Wind Farm, near a village in Mekelle, Tigray, 780 km (485 miles) north of Addis Ababa, October 25, 2013. (Kumerra Gemechu/Couresy Reuters)

With over a billion people and the second largest continental landmass in the world, Africa is complicated and defies generalization. Yet, we do it all the time. Here are five trends to keep an eye on for 2015:

 

  1. A Resurgence of Afro-pessimism. For the past several years, the narrative about Africa has been upbeat, ranging from McKinsey and Company’s Lions on the move” to the Economist’sA Hopeful Continent.” That could change in 2015, with a militant jihadism in the Sahel, an implosion in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, and Ebola. Falling oil prices will also mean declining currency values and falling stock markets in oil-dependent states. But, Afro-pessimism can distort as much as ‘Africa rising.’
  2. Read more »