John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: October 29 – November 3

by John Campbell Monday, November 7, 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 October 29, 2016 to November 3, 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 »

A Review of Stephen Ellis’ “This Present Darkness”

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, November 4, 2016
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, from left, Sarah Chayes, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari take part in a panel discussion at the Anti-Corruption Summit in London, Thursday, May 12, 2016. (Reuters/Frank Augstein/Pool) World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, from left, Sarah Chayes, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari take part in a panel discussion at the Anti-Corruption Summit in London, Thursday, May 12, 2016. (Reuters/Frank Augstein/Pool)

This is a guest post by Tyler Lycan. Tyler is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program, he recently obtained his Masters in International Security Studies from the University of St. Andrews, and is a former U.S. Marine. Read more »

Huge Oil Discovery in Nigeria

by John Campbell Thursday, November 3, 2016
An oil tanker discharges petroleum products at a fuel depot in the commercial city of Lagos, Nigeria, June 5, 2006. (Reuters/George Esiri) An oil tanker discharges petroleum products at a fuel depot in the commercial city of Lagos, Nigeria, June 5, 2006. (Reuters/George Esiri)

Last week, ExxonMobile announced the discovery of between 500 million to one billion barrels of oil in Nigeria. The discovery is located in the Owowo-2 and Owowo-3 oil fields. ExxonMobile owns a 27 percent interest in the field, it shares ownership with Chevron Nigeria Deepwater (27 percent), Total (18 percent), Nexen Petroleum Deepwater Nigeria Limited (18 percent), and the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company Limited (10 percent). The president of ExxonMobile Exploration Company, Stephen M. Greenlee, said that Exxon “…will work with our partners and the government on future development plans.” Read more »

The “K-word” in South Africa and Proposed New Penalties Against Hate Speech

by John Campbell Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Members of South African President Jacob Zuma's ruling African National Congress (ANC) political party march to the headquarters of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) during a march against racism in Cape Town, in this picture taken January 22, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) Members of South African President Jacob Zuma's ruling African National Congress (ANC) political party march to the headquarters of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) during a march against racism in Cape Town, in this picture taken January 22, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Following the social media circulation of a video in which a white woman lashes out at black police officers using racial slurs, the Zuma administration is proposing harsher penalties against hate speech. Proposed legislation would move hate speech cases from civil courts to criminal courts in South Africa. Currently punishable only by fines, “racist utterances and many other incidents of vicious crimes perpetrated under the influence of racial hate…has necessitated further measures,” according to the minister of justice. If the proposed legislation becomes law, a first-time offender could face three years in prison and a repeat offender up to ten years. Read more »

South Africa’s President Zuma as Mafioso

by John Campbell Tuesday, November 1, 2016
South African President Jacob Zuma laughs ahead of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's medium term budget speech in Cape Town, South Africa, October 26, 2016. (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham) South African President Jacob Zuma laughs ahead of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's medium term budget speech in Cape Town, South Africa, October 26, 2016. (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham)

Critics worldwide of South African President Jacob Zuma characterize his administration as “Mafiosi” in style. South African society is characterized by gross inequality, generally with blacks on the bottom and whites on top. Ostensibly, the president’s goal is the “transformation” of this characterization of society, even if that means an assault on constitutional institutions and the rule of law. However, in cahoots with personal allies, notably the Gupta family, instead of “transformation” he is seeking to remain in power and preserve his wealth. Thus far, he has been successfully countered by the strength of South Africa’s institutions, a mobilized civil society, and the democratic faction within the African National Congress (ANC). Calls for his early recall are mounting within the ANC. A trenchant exposition of this “Mafioso” perspective is provided by Richard Poplak, in the Daily Maverick. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: October 22 – October 28

by John Campbell Monday, October 31, 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 October 22, 2016 to October 28, 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 »

Reduced Airline Service to Nigeria?

by John Campbell Friday, October 28, 2016
Emirates Airlines aircrafts are seen at Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates, May 10, 2016. (Reuters/Ashraf Mohammad) Emirates Airlines aircrafts are seen at Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates, May 10, 2016. (Reuters/Ashraf Mohammad)

Quartz is reporting that Emirates airlines is considering pulling out of Nigeria. It is already cutting its twice-daily flights to Lagos and Abuja from Dubai to once a day to Lagos only, starting at the end of October. United Airlines ended its service from the United States to Nigeria in May. Domestic airlines are also facing difficulty. Quartz reports that Aero Contractors, Nigeria’s oldest airline and long regarded as its most reliable, has suspended operations. Quartz also reports that many domestic passengers have been stranded because local airlines have not been able to refuel their planes because of a shortage of jet fuel. Read more »

Recovery of Nigeria’s Oil Production Under Threat

by John Campbell Thursday, October 27, 2016
A man works at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa, November 27, 2012. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) A man works at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa, November 27, 2012. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

According to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (the state-owned oil company) Nigeria has the capacity to produce 2.5 million barrels of oil per day (bpd). At the beginning of the year, production stood at 2.2 million bpd. Under insurgent attacks on oil production infrastructure, it fell to 1.3 million bpd. With a pause in delta insurgent attacks on oil infrastructure, the administration now claims that oil production has recovered to 1.9 million bpd. Read more »

Poor Leadership in Africa

by John Campbell Wednesday, October 26, 2016
President Arthur Peter Mutharika of Malawi waits to address attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 29, 2015. (Reuters/Carlo Allegri) President Arthur Peter Mutharika of Malawi waits to address attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 29, 2015. (Reuters/Carlo Allegri)

Quartz Africa published a thought-provoking article by Lynsey Chutel titled “The Mystery of Africa’s Disappearing Presidents.” Her take-off point is Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika, who went to New York for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in mid-September and returned home only on October 16. His entourage refused to provide any itinerary. She cites other African leaders who take long ‘vacations’ or otherwise disappear from their countries for long periods of time: Cameroon’s President Paul Biya once spent three weeks in La Baule, France, at a cost of $40,000 per day and later spent two months at the Hotel Intercontinental in Geneva. With respect to the La Baule stay, his spokesman said, “Like any other worker, President Paul Biya has a right to his vacations.” Read more »

Sea Levels along the West African Coast

by John Campbell Tuesday, October 25, 2016
A view of the Makoko fishing community is seen from top of a floating school on the Lagos Lagoon, Nigeria, February 29, 2016. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) A view of the Makoko fishing community is seen from top of a floating school on the Lagos Lagoon, Nigeria, February 29, 2016. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

According to the World Bank, almost one third of West Africa’s population, responsible for creating 56 percent of GDP, lives along the coast of the Gulf of Guinea. Because of global warming, sea levels around the world are likely to rise by more than thirty inches (2.5 feet) by the end of the century. Africa, the Gulf of Guinea in particular, is expected to be especially hard hit: the number of people who could be flooded in Africa is estimated to rise from 1 million a year in 1990 to 70 million a year by 2080. Read more »