John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Racist Facebook Comments Ignite South African Anger

by John Campbell Tuesday, January 12, 2016
People visit the beach on New Year's Day in Durban, January 1, 2014. (Reuters/Rogan Ward) People visit the beach on New Year's Day in Durban, January 1, 2014. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

Penny Sparrow, age sixty-nine, a white real estate agent in Durban and a member of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), in a Facebook post characterized black beach goers over New Year’s as “monkeys.” (For many years, young black South Africans living inland have gathered on Durban’s beaches to celebrate New Year’s.) At about the same time, a bank economist tweeted about “majority (black) entitlement” as a barrier to economic growth. Others, evidently also white, on-line have expressed admiration for certain apartheid and pre-apartheid era political figures, including P.W. Botha and Cecil Rhodes. Black social media response has been fierce, including calls to take action “against all white people to end racism.” Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update January 2-8

by John Campbell Monday, January 11, 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 to January 2, to January 8, 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 »

The Year China Solidifies the Renminbi’s Place in Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, January 8, 2016
Chinese President Xi Jinping, accompanied by his wife wife Peng Liyuan, walks with South African President Jacob Zuma upon his arrival at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, December 2, 2015. (Reuters/Sydney Seshibedi) Chinese President Xi Jinping, accompanied by his wife wife Peng Liyuan, walks with South African President Jacob Zuma upon his arrival at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, December 2, 2015. (Reuters/Sydney Seshibedi)

This is a guest post by John Causey, a private equity and transaction advisor with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa.

The U.S. dollar’s dominance in sub-Saharan Africa is no longer certain. Despite the current volatility of the Chinese renminbi an auspicious moment may exist for China’s currency to challenge the dollar’s hegemony in the region. Read more »

IMF Managing Director Lagarde’s Visit a Boost for President Buhari

by John Campbell Thursday, January 7, 2016
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde attend a meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, January 5, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde attend a meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, January 5, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

President Muhammadu Buhari faces a serious economic crisis related to the plunge in the world price of oil, slow rates of economic growth, the prospect of rising American interest rates, a falling national currency, and declining government revenues. At the same time, he is working to restructure the economy away from undue dependence on oil by increasing infrastructure investment and vigorously pursuing an anti-corruption agenda demonstrated by the arrests of high-profile public figures. Read more »

Nigeria’s Buhari Moves to Fix Deficiencies in Fight Against Boko Haram

by John Campbell Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari (C) stands at the opening of the 48th ordinary session of ECOWAS Authority of Head of States and Government in Abuja, Nigeria, December 16, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari (C) stands at the opening of the 48th ordinary session of ECOWAS Authority of Head of States and Government in Abuja, Nigeria, December 16, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Nigerian security service abuses have been a driver of recruitment for Boko Haram, the radical, jihadist movement that seeks to destroy the secular state. Abuses have reflected poor leadership, poor training, and lack of resources. Hence, the Buhari administration’s arrests of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s National Security Advisor Sambo Dasuki in December and his Defence Minister Bello Haliru Mohammed on January 5, are particularly significant. Read more »

South Africa, a King, and the Rule of Law

by John Campbell Tuesday, January 5, 2016
AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo speaks to journalists after handing over a memorandum to government officials in Pretoria, July 10, 2013.  (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham) AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo speaks to journalists after handing over a memorandum to government officials in Pretoria, July 10, 2013. (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham)

The alarums and excursions over South Africa’s economy and economic policy do not stop. December saw the discreditable episode of President Jacob Zuma’s hiring and firing multiple ministers of finance in only a few days and a drop in the country’s estimated economic growth rate to perhaps 1.2 percent. The new year kicked off with an apparent standoff with the United States over trade that if unresolved would end South Africa’s participation in the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). But, a BBC news item that appeared New Year’s Eve highlights how South Africa’s commitment to the rule of law makes it well-prepared to weather the multiple crises of the moment. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update December 26-January 1

by John Campbell Monday, January 4, 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 December 26, 2015 to January 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 »

What to Watch: Africa 2016

by John Campbell and Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Boys play on the roof of the entrance to a football stadium in Gao February 20, 2013. (Reuters/Joe Penney) Boys play on the roof of the entrance to a football stadium in Gao February 20, 2013. (Reuters/Joe Penney)

While western governments are currently transfixed on events in Iraq and Syria, it is important that they do not forget Africa. Boko Haram has become the world’s deadliest terrorist organization and Libya is increasingly becoming a base of operations for the Islamic State. Below, CFR’s Africa program outlines six African issues to watch in 2016. While they could certainly affect the lives of millions of Africans, these issues could also have serious implications for international politics. Read more »

Cameroonian Security Service Abuses in Boko Haram Fight

by John Campbell Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Cameroonian soldiers sing and dance during a visit by senior officers in Mabass, northern Cameroon, February 16, 2015. (Reuters/Bate Felix Tabi Tabe) Cameroonian soldiers sing and dance during a visit by senior officers in Mabass, northern Cameroon, February 16, 2015. (Reuters/Bate Felix Tabi Tabe)

The Cameroonian military is facing accusations of misconduct. On December 8, the Associated Press (AP) reported that Cameroonian troops crossed into Nigeria and killed about 150 villagers, looting and burning the village. On December 23, AP reported that Cameroonian troops killed at least seventy residents in Nigeria’s Borno state. Meanwhile, Amnesty International on December 27, called on the Cameroonian authorities to “come clean over the fate of 130 people rounded up and detained by Cameroonian forces a year ago following security operations against Boko Haram.” Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update December 19-December 25

by John Campbell Monday, December 28, 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 19, 2015 to December 25, 2015. 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 »