• African Studies Association: Proposed FY2018 “challenges the very core of the ASA’s mission”

    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.

  • Fifty years on, Nigeria is yet to talk openly about the horrors of the 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.

  • Descendants of 1904 Namibia genocide seek reparations from Germany

    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.

  • HHS secretary Tom Price visits Liberia

    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.

  • Researchers use high-resolution satellites to measure African farm yields

    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.

  • German-West African consortium develops strategies to address the effects of 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.

  • 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.