John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Musings About Nigeria’s Boko Haram and Maiduguri

by John Campbell Friday, January 30, 2015
An official stands in front of relief materials at a camp for displaced people in Maiduguri in Borno State, January 19, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer) An official stands in front of relief materials at a camp for displaced people in Maiduguri in Borno State, January 19, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer)

Maiduguri is the capital of Borno state and is the metropole of northeastern Nigeria. It has a federal university and an international airport, co-located with a Nigerian air force base. On the edge of the Sahara, it has long had religious links with Khartoum and been a center of radical Islamic thought. It has become known as the city of Boko Haram’s origin, and the venue where the movement’s leader, Mohammed Yussuf, established his community and was eventually murdered by the police. Most of its indigenous population is Kanuri, but like any big Nigerian city, it is populated by numerous ethnic groups. In pre-colonial times, the jihad of the sultan of Sokoto failed to conquer Borno, and its traditional ruler, the Shehu of Borno, continues to be a significant religious, cultural, and possibly political figure. Maiduguri is primarily a trading center. Even in the best of times, it is very poor, a reflection of the general poverty common to northeast Nigeria. The size of its population is approximately 1.2 million, including many refugees displaced by Boko Haram. Read more »

In Search of Justice for Central Africans

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, January 29, 2015
Internally displaced persons (IDPs) take a break on an armed peacekeeping convoy as they are escorted from the capital Bangui to the northern towns of Kabo and Sido on the border with Chad, April 28, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Modola). Internally displaced persons (IDPs) take a break on an armed peacekeeping convoy as they are escorted from the capital Bangui to the northern towns of Kabo and Sido on the border with Chad, April 28, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Modola).

This is a guest post by Tiffany Lynch. She is a senior policy analyst at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The views expressed are her own and may or may not reflect the views of the Commission.

In early January, two years after civil war broke out in the Central African Republic (CAR) between the Séléka, a predominantly Muslim rebel faction, and the anti-balaka, a predominantly radical Christian militia, the United Nations International Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic publicly announced its conclusion that Christian militias were responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in this war torn country. Since September 2013, UN officials and independent human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have warned of ethnic cleansing or genocide in CAR. Read more »

What to Expect from the African Union Summit

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, January 28, 2015
The opening ceremony of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the African Union summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Negeri). The opening ceremony of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the African Union summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Negeri).

This is a guest post by Jason Warner. He is a PhD candidate in African Studies at Harvard University, serving as a U.S. Government Boren National Security Fellow in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Late January in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia brings waves of impenetrable traffic, pan-African flags adorning the central Bole Road, and scarcely a vacant room in the city’s infamously hotel-filled landscape. The cause: the semi-annual African Union (AU) Heads of State Summit, which this year began on Friday, January 23. As the AU’s most important annual meeting kicks into high gear this week, here are some of the more pressing questions that observers and participants will have on their minds. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update January 17-January 23

by John Campbell Monday, January 26, 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 17, 2015 to January 23, 2015. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

U.S. Efforts to Power Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, January 23, 2015
Electricity pylons carry power from Cape Town's Koeberg nuclear power plant July 17, 2009 (Courtesy Reuters/Mike Hutchings). Electricity pylons carry power from Cape Town's Koeberg nuclear power plant July 17, 2009 (Courtesy Reuters/Mike Hutchings).

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

While on his Africa tour in June 2013, President Obama announced a new U.S. effort to expand energy access in Sub-Saharan Africa, where two thirds of the population are without electricity. The Power Africa initiative identifies and facilitates energy transactions between private enterprises and governments in African countries to generate 30,000 megawatts of new energy and reach 60 million households and businesses by 2020. Read more »

Zimbabwe: The ‘Crocodile’ Who Would Be King

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, January 22, 2015
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe congratulates Emmerson Mnangagwa (R) after he was sworn in as Zimbabwe's vice president at the State House in Harare, December 12, 2014. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe congratulates Emmerson Mnangagwa (R) after he was sworn in as Zimbabwe's vice president at the State House in Harare, December 12, 2014. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

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

Amid a public debate over the presidential succession, President Robert Mugabe named Emmerson Mnangagwa vice-president of Zimbabwe on December 10, 2014. It would seem that Mnangagwa, nicknamed ‘Ngwena’ or ‘Crocodile,’ is now the heir apparent to Zimbabwe’s president. Mnangagwa has been a member of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party since the 1960’s, and fought alongside Mugabe in the Zimbabwe war of liberation from white rule, which lasted from 1964 to 1979. Among other duties, Mnangagwa has served as Zimbabwe’s minister of state security, and, most recently, he was the minister of justice. Read more »

Nigeria’s Elections in 2011 and 2015

by John Campbell Wednesday, January 21, 2015
A campaign banner in support of President Goodluck Jonathan (R) is hung next to a banner in support of Presidential candidate of opposition party All Progressives Congress (APC) Muhammadu Buhari and his running mate Yemi Osinbajo, on a street light in Ikoyi district in Lagos, January 21, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) A campaign banner in support of President Goodluck Jonathan (R) is hung next to a banner in support of Presidential candidate of opposition party All Progressives Congress (APC) Muhammadu Buhari and his running mate Yemi Osinbajo, on a street light in Ikoyi district in Lagos, January 21, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

Nigerian anxiety is high about the approaching February 14 national elections. The country’s political class is fragmented, oil prices are falling, Nigeria’s currency has been devalued, and the Lagos stock exchange is in the doldrums. The insurgency called Boko Haram appears to be gaining strength. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update January 10-January 16

by John Campbell Tuesday, January 20, 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 10, 2015 to January 16, 2015. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Technical Challenges to Free, Fair, and Credible Elections in Nigeria

by John Campbell Friday, January 16, 2015
A banner advertising awareness for voter's registration is hung at the back of a bus along a road in Lagos January 7, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) A banner advertising awareness for voter's registration is hung at the back of a bus along a road in Lagos January 7, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has dominated every single Nigerian presidential election since 1999. Using sophisticated forms of electoral rigging and relying on a relatively unified political class built on patronage, a PDP incumbent or his anointed successor has secured electoral victory at every turn. Such a scenario would all but ensure the re-election of Goodluck Jonathan in the February 14, 2015 elections. Read more »

Somalia Ready for Oil Exploration?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, January 15, 2015
Engineers and visitors explore an exploratory well near Dharoor town, 350 km (217 miles) from the port of Bosasso on the Gulf of Aden in Puntland, January 17, 2012. (Abdiqani Hassan /Courtesy Reuters) Engineers and visitors explore an exploratory well near Dharoor town, 350 km (217 miles) from the port of Bosasso on the Gulf of Aden in Puntland, January 17, 2012. (Abdiqani Hassan /Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Alex Dick-Godfrey, Assistant Director, Studies administration for the Council on Foreign Relations Studies Program.

Last month, Soma Oil and Gas, a London based energy company, searching for hydrocarbon deposits off the coast of Somalia, announced that it had completed a seismic survey to ascertain the potential for recoverable oil and gas deposits. Although further details have yet to be released, chief executive Rob Sheppard announced that the results were encouraging. However, Somalia, and potential investors, should proceed with caution when considering entering this frontier market. Read more »