Lately I’ve been sending out link-roundups via my monthly Africa Update newsletter. I thought I’d have a go at cross-posting them here as well. Here’s what I found interesting in July.
West Africa: Aliko Dangote is building an oil refinery of staggering size in southern Nigeria. Peugot will start assembling cars in northern Nigeria in 2019. Here are 23 things to know before you to to Freetown. Read about the Ghanaian paradox of rapid economic growth with continuing inequality and high unemployment.
Central Africa: A new report shows that conflict minerals legislation in the US didn’t reduce conflict in the DRC, but rather increased infant mortality rates as miners were thrown out of work. Decentralization in the DRC may be changing the way that ethnic coalitions work in politics. This was a strong piece of analysis about why the Congolese government has incentives to sign contracts for oil but not to allow companies to actually start drilling.
East Africa: Read all about East Africa’s heroin coast. Eritreans has been told that there will be time limits for national service, which currently involves a forcible recruitment process of unlimited duration. Hostages are more likely to be released from Somali pirates when negotiators pay the pirates’ expenses, but not necessarily the whole ransom. Peace deals in South Sudan keep failing because the SPLM still thinks it might win a military victory. The latest edition of the Otherwise podcast addresses extrajudicial killings in poor Nairobi neighborhoods. 30,000 Kenyans are now homeless after the government demolished their houses in Kibera to make room for a new road.
Southern Africa: Zimbabwe is re-opening its Literature Bureau to promote works in indigenous languages. Lisez la légende retrouvée de Yasuke, un originaire de Moçambique qui est devenu le premier samouraï noir du Japon. Angola has given legal recognition to a gay rights group.
Politics and economics: You can now read the 2018 African Economic Outlook report in Kiswahili, Hausa and Arabic. This was a refreshing take on Chinese investment in Africa, including the observations that many Chinese firms are risk averse and demand multiple types of insurance before they’ll take on new projects. Don’t miss these engaging summaries of African researchers’ perspectives on peacebuilding, and this alternative economics reading list featuring work by women and people of color.
Taxes: Rwanda is using satellite data to increase collection of property taxes. Read this in-depth post about how the Lagos state government launched a “wicked, satanic” attempt to change its land valuation practices in order to increase tax revenue. Al-Shabaab is surprisingly good at collecting taxes. This was a gripping read about the politicized dismantling of South Africa’s tax agency.
Women’s rights: The mother of a Kenyan teenager who died after having a backstreet abortion is suing the government for not making the procedure accessible, as the Constitution requires. Rwandan men are offering more support and autonomy for their wives after participating in workshops led by other men about the importance of women’s rights. In the DRC, pharmacists often deny birth control to women who aren’t married. Nigeria has its first tech accelerator exclusively focused on women’s start-ups.
Impact evaluation: IDS is running a workshop on engaging evidence and policy for social change in January. Submit your studies to the new African Education Research Database. This was a good interview with Evidence Action about the political processes of scaling up pilot projects. JPAL has published a new set of guidelines for measuring women’s empowerment.
Research: “The uncomfortable truth is that some Western scholars too readily dismiss the intellectual labor of Global South partners to research assistance and facilitation.” If you’re an African scientist, you can submit preprints of your work in local languages to the new open-source archive AfricArXiv. Read this passionate critique of the idea that “there is no data in Africa,” then go check out the freely available data from the Sauti za Wananchi survey in Tanzania. If you’re looking for survey research support in Kenya, one of my partner’s colleagues just founded Kenya Research Aid Services. I’ve donated to send Rebeccah Wambui to present her work on reducing road deaths in Kenya at the International Youth Science Fair — please consider supporting her as well!
Arts and literature: This looks like a lovely documentary about the West African poets Syl Cheney-Coker and Niyi Osundare. Here are five Sudanese books you should read. Stream the forgotten films of Sudan online. This piece considers the ethics and logistics of returning stolen Ethiopian artwork to its country of origin. Don’t miss these African Instagrammers documenting the continent’s hidden hotspots. Congratulations to Makena Onjerika for winning the 2018 Caine Prize for her short story “Fanta Blackcurrant”!
Twitter: Interesting people I followed recently include Yvonne Oduor (Kenya), Caroline Njuki (Kenya), Halimatou Hima (Niger), Zaahida Nabagereka (Uganda), Namata Serumaga-Musisi (Ghana), and Akosua Adomako Ampofo(Ghana).