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Introducing AfricaFocus Bulletin

An independent e-mail bulletin on key issues affecting Africa

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In-depth analysis.

Each issue of AfricaFocus Bulletin provides timely analysis and advocacy information on a single topic. The emphasis is on themes of continent-wide or regional relevance, or on selected country-specific topics.

Draws on the best African, international, and U.S. sources.

AfricaFocus Bulletin reposts selected statements, research reports, and conference presentations from a wide range of sources, including nongovernmental organizations, activist groups, international agencies, and governments. Links and contact information for the original sources are always provided, so you can follow up for more details.

Fast, convenient, and just the right length.

AfricaFocus Bulletin arrives in your e-mail 1 to 2 times a week. At about 8 to 10 pages (25K maximum e-mail size) - it's long enough to provide in-depth analysis, but short enough to skim quickly. Longer reports are included as executive summaries or excerpts only, with clickable links to the full texts. The whole bulletin comes in the body of the e-mail - no attachments to download.

An editor's note puts the information in context.

AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter, a writer, researcher, and analyst and the former editor of Africa Policy E-Journal. Each issue of AfricaFocus Bulletin begins with a brief editor's note introducing the material and placing it in the context of current developments. A full archive, with additional news and information resources, is available at http://www.africafocus.org.

Most recent issues

March 21, 2017  Africa/Global: Scaling Up Solar http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/clim1703.php
    Even in the United States, where action on climate change is under threat from aggressive assault by climate deniers in the Trump administration and Congress, renewable energy is projected to continue to advance rapidly, on the basis of its still growing cost advantages over fossil fuels. According to a report just released by GTM research, the US total solar market, already supplying the largest share of new power production, is poised to triple over the next five years. The prospect for renewable energy to power increased access to electricity in Africa is also dramatic, according to a new report from the Africa Progress Panel.

March 14, 2017  Africa/Global: Invisible Crises, Failing Safety Nets http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/hum1703.php
    "Famine 'largest humanitarian crisis in history of UN': UN humanitarian chief says 20 million people in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria face starvation and famine," says the headline in Al Jazeera, echoed in the BBC and other international media, but easily ignored without the high-intensity spotlight that occasionally targets disasters with greater geostrategic centrality. In the United States, while headlines rightly focus on the 24 million who would lose health care under the Republican Trumpcare plan, no one has yet calculated the toll from a proposed 50% cut in the U.S. budget for support of the UN.

March 6, 2017  South Africa: Targeting Immigrants, Again http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/migr1703.php
    "In the post-apartheid South Africa, resurgence of xenophobic violence is a symptom of the deep leadership deficit. For the fourth consecutive week now, South Africa is witnessing what many analysts call a "resurgence" of xenophobic violence in parts of Johannesburg and Pretoria, the country's capital city. The reality is that this type of violence is a daily occurrence in the country, although it does not always get media attention. It has, in fact, become a longstanding feature in post-apartheid South Africa." - Jean Pierre Misago, African Centre for Migration and Society, Johannesburg

February 28, 2017  Africa/Global: Open Data for Tax Justice http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/tax1702.php
    "Multinational companies typically publish global, consolidated accounts - and international accounting standards now allow these to roll into one all financial information on the substance of their economic activities, or at best to provide regional figures. This means that country-level information on profits, revenues, taxes, borrowings and employees, for example, are not provided. ... As the name suggests, the longstanding proposal for country-by-country reporting (CBCR) would make multinational companies break down and publish their results for each country. This is essential for citizens to know what companies and their affiliates are doing where they live, and what contributions they are making." - Open Data for Tax Justice announcement

February 20, 2017  Africa/Global: Agribusiness Giants on Merger Path http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/ag1702.php
    "If the Bayer-Monsanto merger is approved, the new merged company will control almost 30% of the global commercial seed market and 25% of the agrochemical market - making it the world's largest supplier of seeds and chemicals. In South Africa, it would control about 30% of both markets. Already today, Monsanto is one of two companies in South Africa that employs 80% of the private sector breeders in maize and 100% of the breeders in soybean and sunflower breeders. " - African Centre for Biodiversity

February 12, 2017  Congo (Kinshasa): Tshisekedi Place Hard to Fill http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/kin1702.php
    "The death of prominent opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi has deprived the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) of a unique political figure who was at the forefront of the fight for democracy for over three decades. ... Coming just a month after the signing of a political agreement, which would have put him at the head of an important follow-up committee, his departure robs the opposition of a leader able to combine genuine street-level popularity with an ability to squeeze out political deals." - International Crisis Group

February 7, 2017  Africa/Global: Transparency Setback, African Agendas http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/iff1702.php
    In the world of large multinational corporations, secrecy is more than the rule rather than exception. Despite this reality, there have been some advances in recent years, including U.S. legislation and regulations requiring disclosure of payments by U.S. oil, gas, and mining companies to foreign governments. Last week, the U.S. Congress revoked this Security and Exchange Commission rule, a year before it was actually to be implemented. Although comparatively little noticed in comparison to the tumult around White House actions, this was an indication that the Republican Congress as well was determined to reverse even modest steps to fight corporate corruption and other similar abuses.

January 30, 2017  Kenya: State of the Internet http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/ken1701.php
    Kenya has long been a global technology leader for innovation in mobile and internet technology, including the use of mobile phones for uses as diverse as cash transfers and crowdsourcing of reports on election violence (in 2008). Kenya also features an active press and civil society accustomed to speaking out about national issues including corruption and human rights violations. With national general elections scheduled for August this year, these assets can play important roles in sustaining peace and democracy. But they may also be threatened by government restrictions or by use of social media for propaganda and incitement to violence.

January 23, 2017  South Africa: State Capture & Energy Policy http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/saf1701.php
    "Eskom, accused of overly cozy ties with the Guptas featured heavily in the report, with 916 mentions. ... it's Eskom's chief executive, Brian Molefe, who comes out looking the worst. According to cell phone records, Molefe had 58 phone calls with the eldest of the Gupta brothers, Ajay Gupta, between August 2015 and March 2016, just before the Guptas purchased South Africa's Optimum coal mine for 2.15 billion rand ($160 million). Eskom, which prepaid the Gupta's Tegeta Exploration and Resources 600 million rand for coal, had been accused of helping to finance the Guptas' coal mine deal through preferential treatment." - Quartz Africa

January 16, 2017  Africa: Electoral Landscapes http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/afr1701.php
    Ghana, Gambia, and Gabon are all small African countries with names beginning with the letter "G," which held presidential elections in 2016. But neither the electoral landscapes nor the electoral outcomes can fruitfully be analyzed without giving greater weight to the contrasts than to the similarities. The same applies to the even wider set of 14 African countries with presidential elections last year, or the 8 so far scheduled to hold elections in 2017.

December 6, 2016  Gambia: Sudden Hope in a Small Country http://www.africafocus.org/docs16/gamb1612.php
    "The bells of freedoms are ringing in the four corners of the Gambia. We are free at last and the thousands of Gambians who were forced into exile can now return home and help rebuild their country. We shall no longer be afraid to hold political discussions in the open. We can now sleep peacefully at night without the men in black breaking in our homes and take us away in front of our children. We are indeed really free. ... Alhamdulillah, change has happened in the Gambia." - Jollof News editorial, December 2, 2016

November 28, 2016  Africa/Global: Overcoming the Shadow Economy http://www.africafocus.org/docs16/iff1611.php
    "Knowledge of beneficial ownership of companies and bank accounts is fundamental, both to ensure taxation and also to prevent and prosecute crime and the money laundering that so often is associated with it. ... Corporations, trusts, and foundations are creations of the state--and as such, they have no inalienable rights. They are created to facilitate societal welfare, and to ensure that they do so, they need to be globally regulated--regulated in ways which ensure full knowledge of beneficial ownership and full compliance with all tax laws." - Joseph Stiglitz, in testimony to European Parliament Panama Papers inquiry

November 17, 2016  Somalia: Rising Threats to Dadaab Refugees http://www.africafocus.org/docs16/som1611.php
    "The priority of donors and UN agencies should be on improving conditions in Somalia, not succumbing to political pressure from Kenya to speed up the pace of returns through monetary inducements. Kenya faces very real and very serious security challenges. But it is harmful and wrong to blame the Somali refugee population people who themselves fled to Kenya seeking refuge from violence, persecution, and turmoil at home." - Refugees International

November 10, 2016  Africa/Global: Climate Threat, Action Tracks http://www.africafocus.org/docs16/ren1611.php
    "Africa is already burning. The election of Trump is a disaster for our continent. The United States, if it follows through on its new President's rash words about withdrawing from the international climate regime, will become a pariah state in global efforts for climate action. This is a moment where the rest of the world must not waver and must redouble commitments to tackle dangerous climate change," Geoffrey Kamese from Friends of the Earth Africa.