• Summer rainfall in the Sahel can be predicted

    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.

  • Reduced U.S. air pollution to boost rainfall in Africa’s Sahel

    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.

  • Re-imagining Africa: A call to action

    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?

  • 60th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association: Institutions -- Creativity and Resilience in Africa

    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 agrees to admit Morocco to West African body

    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.

  • UN chief to name ex-German president as Western Sahara envoy

    The head of the United Nations will name former German president Horst Koehler as his new envoy for Western Sahara, in charge of restarting talks between Morocco and the Polisario independence movement over the disputed territory. The United Nations Security Council in April backed attempts to re-enter negotiations over Western Sahara, which has been contested since 1975 and where Morocco and Polisario fought a war until a 1991 ceasefire. “Following the usual consultations, I intend to appoint Horst Koehler of Germany as my personal envoy for Western Sahara,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a letter to the Security Council released by the U.N. on Friday.

  • France urges U.N. backing of West Africa force to tackle terrorism, trafficking

    France on Tuesday proposed that the United Nations Security Council back a West African force to combat terrorism, drug and human trafficking by “eradicating the actions” of Islamist militants and organized crime groups in the Sahel region. The vast, arid zone has in recent years become a breeding ground for jihadist groups – some linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State – that European nations, particularly France, fear could threaten Europe if left unchecked. “We cannot afford to let the Sahel region become a new safe haven for terrorists across the world,” French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters. France circulated a draft Security Council resolution on Tuesday to the 15-member body to authorize the West African force to use “all necessary means” to restore peace and security in accordance with international law and work in coordination with a U.N. peacekeeping mission and French forces in Mali.

  • Niger opposition leader convicted of trying to incite coup

    A court in Niger handed sentence on Tuesday for agitating for the overthrow of government, a move his lawyer said was aimed at silencing its critics. El Hadj Amadou Djibo, the head of a coalition of opposition parties, was arrested last month after calling on his allies to remain united against President Mahamadou Issoufou and force him from power by all legal means available. “This is a way of silencing the opposition,” Djibo’s lawyer, Douleur Oumarou, told reporters after the verdict. “We are going to appeal.” Djibo was expected to be released from prison later on Tuesday. In March, a court freed 15 civilians accused of complicity in an alleged December 2015 putsch against Issoufou. Nine military officers, including the alleged ringleader General Salou Souleymane, are still behind bars awaiting trial.

  • Nigeria’s oil theft epidemic

    Although crude oil theft has long been the subject of intense media attention in Nigeria, the downstream theft of hydrocarbons has remained under the radar. Despite this, downstream hydrocarbon theft is big business in Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer. In 2015, the petroleum sector accounted for approximately 51 percent of the federal government’s income and more than 90 percent of export earnings. According U.S. Department of Commerce data published in February 2017, it also accounted for between 10-12 percent of Nigeria’s GDP. As global oil prices rose above $100 a barrel in the early 2000s, the theft of oil became a very lucrative business. Furthermore, due to a conspicuous lack of youth employment in the region, many of the Niger Delta indigenes (particularly young men) have turned to the illicit hydrocarbon trade (i.e. small-scale tapping of crude oil, petroleum theft / smuggling and artisanal refining) as a source of income.

  • Nigeria seeks help to recover looted funds

    Nigeria’s Acting President Yemi Osinbajo said Monday that the administration had a duty to trace all funds looted from the country as well as “call out” countries and foreign financial institutions found not to be cooperating with its effort to repatriate such funds. Speaking at a conference in capital Abuja on the return of recovered assets and combating illicit financial flow through intergovernmental cooperation, Osinbajo said stolen assets and funds remained a phenomenon because many countries and financial institutions helped the perpetrators. “There is no way this [illicit] transfer of assets can happen without a handshake between the countries that they are transferred and the international banking institutions in the countries in which they are transferred, there is no way it will happen without some form of connivance,” he said.

  • Netanyahu seeks African UN support in return for $1bn investment

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Liberia to attend a summit of the Economic Community of West African States. Netanyahu says he wants to expand trade and win allies. He has signed a memorandum of understanding with ECOWAS members for green energy projects worth $1bn. But Netanyahu wants something in return. “I ask for your support in rejecting anti-Israel bias at the United Nations and in bodies such as the general assembly, UNESCO and the Human Rights Council,” he told the summit. Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris reports from Monrovia, Liberia’s capital.

  • West African regional bloc extends military mission in Gambia

    West African troops have extended their military mission in Gambia by one year after entering the country in January to force out longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh, regional bloc ECOWAS said on Monday. About 500 ECOWAS troops remain in Gambia of the original 7,000 that crossed over from neighboring Senegal to compel Jammeh to go into exile and leave the presidency to Adama Barrow, who defeated him in a December election. Soldiers from the mission, known as ECOMIG, came under attack last Friday by locals in Jammeh’s native village of Kanilai, Interior Minister Mai Ahmed Fatty said in a televised statement, underscoring unresolved tensions from Jammeh’s 22-year rule.

  • French soldiers kill 20 jihadis in Mali near Burkina Faso

    Officials say that French soldiers deployed to Mali to fight against Islamic extremists have killed at least 20 jihadis at the country’s border with Burkina Faso. French Operation Barkhane said Friday that activities carried out by soldiers from Sunday to Thursday in the Serma forest left 20 jihadis “out of combat.” It said the operation began with airstrikes followed by soldiers on land, but it didn’t specify how the jihadis were killed. A resident says various Islamic extremists are active in the forest, including Macina Liberation Front members, jihadis from Burkina Faso and Islamic State group members. The resident spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

  • Morocco cracks down on fighters returning from IS

    For the last two years, Moroccan authorities have been cracking down on Islamic State (IS) fighters’ returning from the battlefields in Syria and Iraq. While they have been accused of turning a blind eye to the departure of hundreds of volunteers to jihad in the early days of the conflict in 2012, authorities are now arresting returnees, fearing they would get involved in terrorist activities at home. This zero tolerance policy on returnees has prevented many from coming back to Morocco, with some remaining in Turkey, according to sources close to Salafists Al-Monitor spoke with. Khalil Idrissi, a lawyer who has defended several returnees, draws attention to their motivations to return home. Many had been lured with promises of money, he told Al-Monitor, while others dreamed of living under their own interpretation of Islam and came back to their country disappointed with their experience with IS.

  • West African nations seek $56 million for rapid-response anti-Islamist force

    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.