• 2017 armed conflict

    Deaths from conflict worldwide fell to 157,000 last year compared to 167,000 in 2015. Yet, the IISS 2017 Armed Conflict Survey notes that in parallel, there has been a rise in the number of intractable conflicts that have the potential to flare at short notice. Four of the ten most lethal conflicts in 2017 were in Africa: Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Nigeria (the non-African states on the list are Syria, Mexico, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Turkey).

  • 2017 Armed conflict: Africa

    The IISS 2017 Armed Conflict Survey describes the security picture for Africa as “mixed.” Fatalities in the sub-Saharan region are quite high, but they have actually gone down, falling from 24,000 in 2015 to 14,000 in 2016. There have been some successes in the fight against Boko Haram, but there is very, very little cause for optimism for the sub-Saharan Africa region. The conflicts in South Sudan, Somalia, and the Central Africa Republic (CAR) have got worse, displacement rates are at an all-time high. “One of the aspects that continue to fuel the conflicts is ongoing state weakness and lack of legitimacy of state institutions and governance problems in most African countries,” says the Survey’s editor.

  • Morocco

    Moroccan supporters of Emanuel Macron’s En Marche! party said they would not support the party’s candidate in the legislative election for the French parliament. Eleven of the 577 voting districts are in former French colonies, and Macron has chosen Leila Aichi, a 46-years old French-Algerian lawyer, to be his party candidate in the 9th district, which covers Morocco. She is a vocal supporter of the separatist Polisario movement, which has been fighting for independence of Western Sahara. Morocco regards Western Sahara as part of Morocco.

  • Morocco

    Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said that Morocco’s return to the African Union unifies Africa. Mogherini, added that regional cooperation and integration are important for the prosperity, stability, and peace of the continent. She noted that “Morocco and the African Union are basic partners of the European Union.” MWN reports that in January 2017, Morocco, supported by 39 AU member states out of a total of 54, was re-admitted to the organization as a full-fledged member, ending a 33-year-long absence.

  • Muslim Africa

    Africa is home to nearly 30 percent of the world’s Muslims, but the role of Islam in allowing Africans to transcend parochial identities and differences has not been appreciated. “Africa has been represented in academia as well as in popular representations as a continent of warring tribes. Look at the coverage of Africa in most TV channels. It is most of the time about tribal conflicts. What I argue in my book is that large sections of West African peoples have, in the past and the present, proven their ability to transcend parochial identities and differences in a common cause and have indeed claimed their independence of thought and common destiny. More than anything else, this is embodied in a long literary tradition in the Arabic and in African languages written with the Arabic script,” says Harvard professor Ousmane Kane, author of Beyond Timbuktu: An Intellectual History of Muslim West Africa.

  • Technology sector

    Africa is coming online rapidly. Internet penetration in the continent is growing faster than in any other region in the world, giving millions more people access to better communication, information and business opportunities. Although only around 20 percent of people in Africa have internet access (compared to a global average of 40 percent), this has increased from less than 5 percent ten years ago.

  • Epidemics

    The 2013-2016 West African Ebola epidemic dwarfed all previous central African outbreaks of the virus, sickening more than 28,000 people and killing more than 11,000 of them. New study of the epidemic reveals insights into factors that sped or slowed the rampage – for example, that the epidemic unfolded in small, overlapping outbreaks with surprisingly few infected travelers sparking new outbreaks elsewhere, each case representing a missed opportunity to break the transmission chain and end the epidemic sooner. Scientists call for using real-time sequencing and data-sharing to contain future viral disease outbreaks.

  • Wildfires

    West Africa is changing rapidly. An explosively growing population, massive urbanization, and unregulated deforestation modify the composition of the atmosphere, thus affecting weather and climate. How exactly these emissions are changing the region in the long term is not clear. The EU-funded project Dynamics-aerosol-chemistry-cloud interactions in West Africa (DACCIWA) studied the air over the coastal region of West Africa with the help of research aircraft and ground stations.

  • Sahel storms

    The Sahelian storms are some of the most explosive storms in the world, containing clouds that can grow to a height of 16km above the ground. In 2009 a downpour of 263mm over several hours forced 150,000 residents of Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso, to leave their homes. Global warming is responsible for a tripling in the frequency of extreme West African Sahel storms observed in just the last thirty-five years.

  • Water security

    The amount of groundwater in Africa is estimated to be over 100 time’s greater than annual renewable freshwater sources. Around one million hand pumps supply groundwater to people in rural Africa. Groundwater is used by around 200 million rural Africans every day because it is a widely available, reliable and safe source of drinking water. Yet according to a new research, although groundwater is critical to Africa’s growth and development, there is currently too little data to effectively manage this critical resource.

  • Food security: West Africa

    The security situation in northeast Nigeria has continued to improve, but humanitarian assistance needs are still high. Humanitarian aid has increased, but it is not enough to satisfy the needs of much of the affected population. In most parts of the region, prices for staples foods have reached their seasonal high as a result of depleted household stocks and the increased demand in markets. However, most parts of West Africa will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) until September 2017, thanks to above-average 2016/17 agricultural production, sufficient imports of rice and wheat, well stocked markets, and the implementation of usual coping strategies.

  • Food security

    Nearly 25 percent of the world’s malnourished population lives in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 300 million people depend on corn, or maize, as their main food source. Maize is the most widely harvested agricultural product in Africa and is grown by small farmers who rely heavily on rainwater rather than irrigation. The crop is therefore extremely sensitive to drought, and since 2015 its production has fallen dramatically as a result of record-setting drought conditions across southern and eastern Africa.

  • U.S. military

    Over the past several years, French troops have battled Al Qaeda’s North Africa affiliate and other Islamist extremists in Mali, and have helped African troops thwart Boko Haram, a violent militancy that has spilled from Nigeria to attack Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. The Islamic State is also a looming threat. In the latest sign of an emerging regional collaboration, five countries within the Sahel — Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad — announced recently that they would create three border areas for military patrols and operations. French troops are advising and assisting these units. The Trump administration, which is already fighting the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria and weighing whether to send several thousand more American troops to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban, has been only too eager to continue Obama-era policies of providing financial, logistical and intelligence support to France in this region. By doing so, it hopes to avoid having to put American combat forces on the ground in yet another global hot spot. American and French officials say their close military and counterterrorism partnership will continue unchanged after the election last week of Emmanuel Macron as France’s next president.

  • Ivory Coast

    Sporadic gunfire rang out overnight in a military barracks in Ivory Coast’s second city of Bouake, where a mutiny erupted in January, according to a report. An AFP journalist said Friday that the shots were heard just hours after national television broadcast a ceremony in which a soldier presented as a spokesman for 8,400 former rebels, many of them based in Bouake, said they wished to apologize to President Alassane Ouattara for the mutiny. In January, former rebels integrated into army ranks staged a mutiny that paralyzed activity in several towns of the west African country while they pressed their demands for bonuses. In meeting the demands of the ex-rebels, who controlled the northern half of Africa’s biggest cocoa producer between 2002 and 2011, the authorities provoked a fresh mutiny by other troops and paramilitary gendarmes.

  • Boko Haram

    A Nigerian minister says the government is negotiating “seriously” for the release of the more than 110 kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls still held by Boko Haram extremists. Minister of Women’s Affairs and Social Development Aisha Alhassan told reporters last Thursday that “we will not relent until all are back.” She says Nigeria’s government has no regrets about exchanging Boko Haram detainees for the 82 young women released over the weekend. The young women are in government care in the capital, Abuja. Alhassan says they are undergoing medical screening for a couple of weeks and that some have needed surgery.

  • Nigeria

    The Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole counterinsurgency force in north-east Nigeria, Lucky Irabor, is now the head of the Multi-National Joint Task Force as its Field Commander, a statement from the army headquarters, Abuja, disclosed. Irabor, a major general, is being replaced by I. Attahiru, also a major general, as the new Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, the name given by the army to its operation to defeat the Boko Haram in north-eastern Nigeria. This posting came up as the Nigeria Army embarks on a massive restructuring of its major commanding posts and units around the country. According to a statement released by the Director of Army Public Relations, Sani Usman, a brigadier general, the new posting was “in a bid to re-strategize the Nigerian Army.”

  • Vigilantism

    Residents throughout the region have turned to the CJTF to provide protection against Boko Haram. For many, its fighters are hometown heroes, a reflection of the community’s resistance to the jihadists, and a response to the military’s failings. They are the eyes and ears of the counter-insurgency campaign. It was the CJTF, as a spontaneous community movement, that rose up. Armed with little more than sticks, they chased the jihadists out of Maiduguri, the main city in the northeast. They have proven stubborn defenders of towns throughout the region, and the first people to be executed whenever Boko Haram takes over. Though the CJTF is not a part of the police nor the military, it’s encouraged by state authorities, which sometimes provide equipment, training, and weapons. But as the threat from Boko Haram wanes, there are mounting cases of the CJTF targeting the civilian population they claim to protect. They enjoy near-impunity, and the current lack of a comprehensive demobilization plan, points to a potential crisis ahead.

  • Togo

    Togo is one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa where the belief in witchcraft is still widespread. Children who are slightly different from the others are among the worst affected. Whether it’s due to a physical or mental handicap, hyperactivity or being intellectually gifted, they are often accused of witchcraft and even held responsible for deaths in their family. These children are then subjected to all sorts of abuse: kidnappings, forced labor and torture.

  • ECOWAS

    The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has adopted strategies to eradicate statelessness in the sub-region by 2024. During a 3-day ministerial conference last week in Gambia’s capital Banjul, experts from the bloc’s 15 member states resolved to finalize a plan of action developed in line with the Abidjan Declaration adopted in February 2015, as a commitment to set measures to end the phenomenon. Estimates indicate that over one million people in West Africa are stateless, while 60 million lack documentation proving their identity or nationality.

  • Mali

    Canada, worried about possible casualties, is taking months longer than expected to decide whether to send troops to a United Nations mission in Mali, worrying allies and potentially undermining Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s commitment to peacekeeping. Trudeau replaced a Conservative government in November 2015 that had little time for the United Nations. Trudeau’s Liberals declared “Canada is back” in August 2016 and said they would commit up to 600 soldiers for possible UN deployment. Officials said one option was Mali, where the United Nations has a 10,000-strong force to help deal with Islamist militants. “This would be a combat mission. Casualties are inevitable,” said one person familiar with the matter.