Here’s the latest edition of my Africa Update newsletter. We’ve got Mali’s 35-year old foreign minister, the dodgeball association of South Sudan, accountability for Mozambican mayors over gay rights, the future of nuclear power on the continent, and more.
West Africa: Ghana’s plan to build a new national cathedral is coming in for heavy criticism. Also in Ghana, cocoa companies are working with local chiefs to improve property rights for cocoa farmers. The Nigerian government is allegedly forcing internally displaced people to return to their dangerous home regions so that they can vote in upcoming primary elections. Félicitations à Kamissa Camara, qui est devenue chef de la diplomatie malienne agée de 35 ans. In Niger, farmers are using a nitrogen-fixing tree to improve their soil quality and fight climate change. Here’s a good background article on current politics in Togo. The latest edition of West Africa Insights is all about urbanization in the region.
Central Africa: Read all about the DRC’s upcoming election, including its unusual single-round voting that can allow a president to be elected with a tiny minority of votes, and Kabila’s preferred candidate for the presidency. Désarmement dans le Pool : le pasteur Ntumi fait « un pas dans la bonne direction », selon Brazzaville. This article situates Uganda’s social media tax in a long history of unfair colonial taxation. Museveni has threatened to abolish the Ugandan Parliament after protests over the beating of prominent opposition MP Bobi Wine, whose popularity clearly alarms him. Listen to this piece about poor conditions on Uganda’s prison farms. Tanzania is cutting off markets in refugee camps in an apparent attempt to force Burundian refugees to return home. Rwanda is trying to boost tax revenue by simplifying its tax code at the same time it raises tax rates.
East Africa: Tanzania wants to make it illegal to question government statistics. If you’d like to approach the government with a non-statistical matter, definitely read these insider tips on how policymaking works in Tanzania. South Sudan’s newest athletic league is a dodgeball association for teenage girls. Read this insightful article about how John Garang’s death led to the fracturing of the SPLM. Don’t miss this recent report from the Kenya Human Rights Commission about the country’s high rates of extrajudicial killings. This article suggests that the Kenyan security forces routinely ignore tips about planned mass shootings, and that perpetrators are rarely arrested. More than 90% of Somalia’s new cabinet ministers are said to hold MA or PhD degrees, but only 8% are women.
Southern Africa: At some South African universities, nearly 80% of black students report that they sometimes don’t have enough to eat. A South African court has ruled that marriages between Muslim couples in the country must be legally registered and not simply recorded with religious authorities, giving women legal protection in the event of divorce. Zimbabwe’s harsh laws criminalizing the transmission of HIV are discouraging people from coming for testing and treatment.
Public Health: I’m excited to hear about sensors.AFRICA, which is using low cost monitors to track air quality in several countries across the continent. A non-profit organization is offering cash transfers to women who bring their children in for vaccinations in Nigeria. One Nigerian woman has created a mental health hotline after struggling to access treatment for depression.
Economics: This was a really interesting thread about how legal uncertainty is increasing fuel prices in Kenya — an exemption on VAT for fuel expired on August 31 with no legal guidance on whether it was meant to be extended, leading to strikes by fuel importers. South Sudan is beginning to bring oilfields back online after production was drastically reduced by the civil war. An economist discusses how the cedi’s depreciation lead to the recent collapse of several banks in Ghana. This was an interesting piece on the history of Ghana’s failed attempts to create a local rubber processing industry. A new book argues that political conflict determines when protests take place in Africa, but economics determines who participates in them. Is there a future for civilian nuclear energy in Africa?
China in Africa: This article shared some interesting reflections on the shortcomings of standard “China in Africa” narratives. Chinese handset maker Transsion is capturing the African market with affordable phones that feature built-in radio reception and cameras calibrated for darker skin.
Arts and Literature: Check out Robtel Neajai Pailey’s interactive website for her anti-corruption children’s books about Liberia, and Lupita Nyong’o’s upcoming children’s book as well! Apply to work with the British Library on their collection of African-language materials. Lots of interesting articles to be found in the Johannesburg Review of Books. Read this dispatch from the Mogadishu Book Fair. The Goethe Institut is calling for submissions of young adult literature by African authors in English, French and Kiswahili. Here are all the African film festivals you can attend in 2018.
Conferences and Scholarships: Register for the Decolonial Transformationsconference at the University of Sussex — and before you do, read this great curriculum which a group of Cambridge students put together for decolonizing the Human, Social and Political Sciences degree. Submit a paper to the Africa Social and Behavioral Change conference in English, French, Portuguese or Kiswahili. The Working Group in African Political Economy is now accepting paper applications. You can also send your scientific papers or science journalism to the African Science Desk to have them turned into short documentaries and explainers. Spread the word about this multidisciplinary post-doc for African scholars at Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study.