• African security

    Boko Haram militants have killed more than 20,000 people and displaced more than two million others in north east Nigeria since 2009. The militants left government and its security forces looking powerless and people in the region helpless. No place was safe. Rather than flee, join the insurgents, or risk being killed, some chose a fourth option – self- defense. People began to organize into emergency community vanguards to defend themselves. The involvement of vigilantes in counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria has been a subject of contentious debate. It’s apparent that they have contributed to improving security for some communities. But there are also concerns that in the long run they could pose a threat given their heavy-handed approach. Examples include extra-judicial killings, violation of human rights, extortion and criminal impunity.

  • African security

    According to U.S. officials and U.N.-based diplomats, the Trump administration is considering vetoing a French Security Council resolution authorizing the 5,000-man African counterterrorism force, the G-5, to operate in the Sahel. In principle, the United States, supported by the United Kingdom, backs the French - African counterterrorism commitment but does not see the need for the U.N. to authorize it. France, to fill the security vacuum created by the fall of Muammar al-Qaddafi’s government in 2011, has led international counterterrorism efforts in the Sahel, and now wants countries in the region to make more of a contribution to these efforts.

  • Al-Shabaab attack in Puntland region kills at least 70 soldiers| Famine used as a weapon of war in South Sudan | EU commits $50 million to combat terrorism in West Africa | Fleet anti-terrorism security team completes first exercise in Africa | France urges UN backing of West Africa force to tackle terrorism, trafficking | Netanyhu proposes Africa-Israel coalition against terrorism | Morocco king skips W. Africa summit after Israel attends | Trump targets Africa: Inside America’s quiet war against terror | Moroccan government seeks calm after northern protests | French soldiers kill 20 jihadis in Mali near Burkina Faso | Zambia to fast-track cyber security bills | FAO worries about impact of disasters on food security | Ex-wife of Liberia’s former leader appears on torture charge

  • Counterterrorism

    The countries of West Africa’s Sahel region have requested $56 million from the EU to help set up a multi-national force to take on Islamist militant groups across the vast, arid region. The sparsely populated region has attracted a growing number of jihadist groups, some affiliated with al Qaeda and Islamic State. The G5 Sahel countries — Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Mauritania — have proposed the creation of a capable and mobile regional task force, the mission of which would be to tackle the cross-border Islamist threat.

  • Security challenges

    Liberia’s Foreign Affairs Minister and Chairperson of the Council of Ministers of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Marjon Kamara, applauded the positive results the regional organization achieved in recent years with regard to the consolidation of peace and security in West Africa. “Currently, our organization enjoys great recognition for both the decisive and key positions of responsibility assumed by ECOWAS leaders, and equally for the strategic use of military resources in the interest of peace, stability and security of its citizens,” noted Kamara.

  • Terrorism

    The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) is maintaining a consistent presence across Africa in order to address security concerns. But terrorist groups continue to pose a threat in many countries with weak governance. “One of the key parts of what we try to do at AFRICOM is to develop the capacity and capability of African partner nations which will allow them to take on these problems themselves – in other words Africans solving African problems,: says AFRICOM commander.

  • New U.S. strategy

    The Trump administration is in the process of revising U.S. strategy in Africa, and one of the first indications of this new approach is the greater freedom given to military commanders on the ground to conduct operations against Islamist groups. The most visible demonstration of this approach so far has been in Somalia, where the United States has intensified its involvement with the campaign against al Shabaab. Critics of the administration argue that in many ways the policy still relies on relying too heavily on corrupt and incompetent partners, and that it suffers from not paying sufficient attention to the non-military aspects of the fight against extremist terrorism.

  • Western Sahara

    South Africa has been accused of “sabotaging” Morocco’s commercial interests in Africa by seizing a vessel carrying phosphate mined by Morocco in Western Sahara. According to Moroccan media reports, the legal action against the NM Cherry Blossom, seized on its way to New Zealand with 55 000 tons of phosphate on board earlier this month, is seen as a reaction to Morocco’s recent economic and diplomatic successes on the continent. Morocco was re-admitted to the African Union (AU) in January this year and has concluded business deals with several countries on the continent – notably involving fertilizer plants using Moroccan phosphate.

  • France and Africa

    The 2017 French election was watched with great nervousness by millions across Francophone Africa. That’s because the French president remains a pivotal figure in about twenty former French colonies on the continent. Over the past sixty years France has maintained disproportionate influence over its former African colonies. This has included control over their military and currencies. Despite being led by different presidents over the past six decades, the French government’s policy on Africa has been faithful to its neo-colonial roots and grounded in a yearning for the lost Empire. But will Emmanuel Macron’s presidency herald a significant change to France’s relationship with its ex-colonies?

  • U.S. budget

    The African Studies Association (ASA) said that the president’s proposed FY2018 budget, by eliminating many programs and institutions, challenges the very core of the ASA’s mission. Among other things, FY2018 budget proposes the elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, African Development Fund, Institute for Library and Museum Services, National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

  • Biafra war

    The war over Biafra started on 30 May 1967, after the southeastern region of Nigeria broke away, declaring the independent Republic of Biafra. The Nigerian government refused to accept Biafra’s secession, and a bloody 30-month war ensued. Successive Nigerian governments have refused to release official figures of those who were killed, but historians estimate that there were about 100,000 military casualties, while between 500,000 and 2 million Biafran civilians died from starvation. Nigeria is still struggling with how to talk about, and remember, the 50-year old war.

  • Namibia genocide

    More than a century after a genocide took place in Namibia while it was under German colonial rule, descendants of the victims, for the first time, earlier this spring got their day in court in New York. Historians agree that this was one of the darkest chapters of African colonial history, as tens of thousands of Herero and Nama people were killed from 1904 to 1908 by German soldiers and settlers. Germany and Namibia have been negotiating over a joint declaration on the massacres, but Germany has refused to pay direct reparations, stressing that Germany has given Namibia development aid worth hundreds of millions of euros since Namibia’s independence from South Africa in 1990.

  • Public health

    Two weeks ago, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., traveled to Liberia as the first stop in a three-nation tour to highlight the U.S. role in and commitment to global health security. Ebola survivors who met with the secretary described the significant stigma associated with the virus and the continuing discrimination they face. Price shook hands with survivors, an important public gesture.

  • Food security

    By using high-res images taken by the latest generation of compact satellites, scientists have developed a new capability for estimating crop yields from space. Measuring yields could improve productivity and eventually reduce hunger. The researchers have plans to scale up their project and test their approach across more of Africa. “Our aspiration is to make accurate seasonal predictions of agricultural productivity for every corner of sub-Saharan Africa,” says one researcher.

  • Climate change

    The impact of global warming has resulted in increased droughts, flooding, and other environmental consequences in many African countries. Scientists from more than ten West African countries met to discuss strategies to deal with the threats posed by climate change under the auspices of the West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL), a joint research consortium on managing and adapting land use under changing climatic conditions. Germany is sponsoring the work of the West African research consortium.

  • Sahel rainfall

    Summer rainfall in one of the world’s most drought-prone regions can now be predicted months or years in advance, climate scientists say. The Sahel region of Africa – a strip across the southern edge of the Sahara from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea – is a semi-arid landscape between the desert to the north and the savannah to the south. Much of the food produced in the Sahel depends on summer rainfall, and the region experienced major droughts during the 1970s and 1980s.

  • Sahel rainfall

    Falling sulfur dioxide emissions in the United States are expected to substantially increase rainfall in Africa’s semi-arid Sahel, while bringing slightly more rain to much of the United States, according to a new study. The study found that pollution filters placed on coal-fired power plants in the United States starting in the 1970s have dramatically cut emissions of sulfur dioxide, a toxic gas that contributes to acid rain and premature deaths from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. If U.S. sulfur dioxide emissions are cut to zero by 2100, as some researchers have projected, rainfall over the Sahel could increase up to 10 percent from 2000 levels.

  • Events

    24-26 August 2017
    Mövenpick Hotel, Accra, Ghana

     The Harvard Africa Alumni Action Forum (HAAAF) brings together global thought leaders, development practitioners, politicians, business leaders, alumni, students and friends of Harvard and Africa. The Action Forum will focus on inspiring participants to re-imagine “Our” Africa, and how we envision the future. Re-imagining Africa: A Call to Action, aims to initiate conversations, foster relationships and develop recommendations to address challenges that impact various sectors on the continent.

    Today, Africa is changing and we must begin to make real strides and contributions on how we can change the lives of citizens, and communities. Private sector, Public sector and NGO’s must reassess the way they engage with organizations, communities, and individuals. Businesses and Governments are finding innovative ways of financing projects. Climate change is having a huge impact on our livelihoods, agriculture, and the way we plan our cities. The youth explosion in Africa is affecting the demographics of our continent. Unemployment is increasing, leading to the need for more entrepreneurship training to engage the young population. At the helm of it all, quality education and healthcare are vital for the sustainability of all reforms.

    With all the challenges and opportunities facing Africa, how can Harvard Africa Alumni and friends collaborate with Africa, and contribute to the accelerated development of the continent?

  • Events

    16-18 November 2017
    Chicago Marriott on the Magnificent Mile

    The ASA Annual Meeting is the largest gathering of Africanist scholars in the world. With an attendance of about 2,000 scholars and professionals, the conference offers: over 300 panels and roundtables, plenary events featuring keynote speakers, awards ceremony and dance party, institutional and organizational receptions and meetings, an international exhibit hall, and screenings of award-winning movies from Africa, and/or by African producers. The 2017 annual meeting of the ASA will focus on how institutions are sites of dynamism, contestation, and continuity. They structure daily life. As the organizations or associations that foster or constrain society, economy, culture, and politics - or as the practices and customs that contour them - institutions bind and render, build and destroy. ASA anticipates papers that examine how institutions promote or undermine existing gendered, racial, ethnic, class, and generational power differentials and the trends that have influenced the way power operates in Africa.

  • ECOWAS & Morocco

    West African regional group ECOWAS has in principle approved Morocco’s membership application despite the country being in North Africa. But ECOWAS leaders meeting in Liberia said the implications of its membership still needed to be considered before Morocco could formally join. King Mohammed VI was not at the summit because Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been invited. Morocco’s application comes after it rejoined the African Union in January. Morocco left the continental body in 1984 after it recognized the independence of Western Sahara.