• 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.

  • ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council reviews region’s 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.

  • Terrorist groups pose a challenge across Africa: AFRICOM commander

    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.

  • U.S. intensifies fight against terrorism in Africa

    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.

  • Morocco’s exports from Western Sahara hang in the balance

    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: Macron’s rhetoric shouldn’t be confused with reality

    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?

  • 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?