• West Africa weighs options in the face of a surge in militant attacks

    West African nations, facing a growing threat from Islamist militants, are set to deploy a military force to augment the 15,000-strong UN peace-keeping force which, so far, has failed to deal effectively with the insurgency. The militants gave been attacking not only UN peacekeepers in Mali, but have expanded their area of operations beyond Mali’s borders. The growing wave of attacks has led the G5 Sahel group – a recently formed alliance of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mauritania — to agree to assemble a 4,000-strong force by the end of the year.

  • ICG’s open letter to the UN Security Council on peacekeeping in Mali

    The current mandate of Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) ends in June. The International Crisis Group has called on the Security Council to renew the mandate – but with stronger political and civil affairs components and a greater role for the peacekeepers in local reconciliation. The ICG questions the wisdom on focusing only on increasing the military capabilities of MINUSMA.

  • ISIS in Africa: Implications from Syria and Iraq

    Leaving aside the mismatched ethno-linguistic groupings included in the vast territory stretching from Eritrea and Somalia in the east to Mauritania in the west, ISIS’s interest in establishing a presence in that part of Africa has long been a part of its vision for a global caliphate. Battlefield setbacks in ISIS’s strongholds in Iraq and Syria since 2015, however, raise questions of what impact this will have for ISIS’s African aspirations.

  • Armed Conflict Survey: Conflict moving into cities around the world

    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).

  • Africa’s 2017 security picture “mixed”: Some success against Boko Haram, failures elsewhere

    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.

  • Faux-pas: Macron’s candidate in the 9th legislative district – which covers Morocco -- is pro-Polisario

    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’s return to the AU unifies Africa: Federica Mogherini

    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.

  • A deeper sense of 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.

  • How Africa can develop a home-grown tech 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.

  • A big-picture look at the world’s worst Ebola epidemic: West Africa, 2013-2016

    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.

  • Fires pollute the air in West Africa

    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.

  • Global warming responsible for tripling of extreme West African 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.

  • Smart handpumps predict depths of groundwater in Africa

    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 in West Africa, May 2017: Key points

    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.

  • Climate change to worsen drought, diminish corn yields in Africa

    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.