Introducing AfricaFocus Bulletin
An independent e-mail bulletin on key issues affecting Africa
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 2 to 4 times a month. 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 based in Washington, DC. 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
November 12, 2018 Africa: Africa Mining Vision
The Africa Mining Vision (AMV) was adopted by Heads of State at the February 2009
African Union summit following the October 2008 meeting of African Ministers
responsible for Mineral Resources Development. An action plan was adopted in December
2011, and the African Minerals Development Centre (https://www.uneca.org/amdc)
launched in December 2013. The lead role in developing the vision was taken by
African professional staff at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
(UNECA), in consultation not only with African governments but also with civil
society organizations and specialists on the mining sector.
November 12, 2018 Africa: Why Mining is Hard to Tax
"In Africa as elsewhere in the world, while energy companies might be somewhat undertaxed,
mining companies typically are greatly under-taxed. Indeed, it is only a
slight exaggeration to say that, with a few significant exceptions, notably
Botswana’s diamond mines, mining in Africa is barely taxed at all. One reliable
source indicates that contemporary African governments collect about 55% of the total
value of energy production in tax revenue, but only 3% of the value of mining
production." - Taxing Africa
October 16, 2018 Africa/Global: Drug Company Profits vs. Public Health
"Oxfam examined publicly available data on subsidiaries of four of the largest US
drug companies and found a striking pattern. In the countries analyzed that have
standard corporate tax rates, rich or poor, the corporations’ pretax profits were
low. In eight advanced economies, drug company profits averaged 7 percent, while in
seven developing countries they averaged 5 percent. Yet globally, these corporations
reported annual global profits of up to 30 percent. So where were the high profits?
Tax havens. In four countries that charge low or no corporate tax rates, these
companies posted skyrocketing 31 percent profit margins." - Oxfam, September 2018
October 1, 2018 Africa/Global: Professionals Enabling Corruption
"Lifting the veil of corporate secrecy reveals a simple principle: Offshore is
actually a set of professional services that specialize in enabling businesses and
individuals to effectively retreat from legal, regulatory, and public scrutiny,
empowering them vis-a-vis those who have remained 'onshore' without access to such
services." - Hudson Institute
September 17, 2018 Uganda: Time for the Youth
"The struggle we are facing is not limited to Uganda alone, but it's a struggle
against oppression across Africa and indeed across the world. So, just like we got
support from across Africa and across the world, we call upon Africans, especially
young Africans to know that there will never be another time for them to assert their
rights other than now." - Bobi Wine
August 27, 2018 Africa: Migration Reports Show Complex Realities
"In the case of Africa, the very idea that the situation to be faced is a rapidly
increasing “migration crisis” driven by a growing number of young men and women
desperately trying to enter Europe denies the basic facts [such as that]
the vast majority of Africans move within the continent; most Africans move for
reasons of work, study and family; and most Africans living abroad are not from the
poorest sections of their societies of origin." - UN Economic Commission for Africa,
August 15, 2018 West Africa/Europe: From Cocoa to Chocolate
"Cocoa growing communities, particularly in West Africa, are facing poverty, child
labour and deforestation that have been made worse by a rapid fall in prices for
cocoa. Widely touted efforts in the cocoa industry to improve the lives of farmers,
communities and the environment made in the past decade are having little impact. In
fact, the modest scope of the proposed solutions does not even come close to
addressing the scale of the problem." - Cocoa Barometer, April 2018
July 30, 2018 East Africa: Ethiopia/Eritrea Peace Hopes, Cautions
For those seeking good news from Africa, there is no better recent example than the
dramatic rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Pictures and videos of
the overjoyed crowds in Asmara and Addis Ababa greeting the other country's leaders
on mutual visits circulated rapidly on social media as well as in international news
July 18, 2018 Africa/Global: 10 Ways to Misunderstand the Trump Election, and Why They Still Matter
The weeks following the November 2016 election were rife with competing theories
about how the unthinkable, in fact, happened. Pundits and analysts, not to mention
ordinary people on social media, were quick to reduce the election results to some
single factor that they insisted was to blame for handing the presidency to Trump. As
the November 2018 midterm elections approach, the debate is both muted and more
nuanced. But simplistic explanations still circulate and have their consequences.
Deepening the analysis is as critical as ever, not for deciding whom to blame, but
rather for debating the implications for action now.
June 20, 2018 Congo (Kinshasa): Ebola Response Shows Lessons Learned
The Democratic Republic of Congo has extensive experience in successfully containing
Ebola outbreaks (the one which was reported in May is the ninth since the first in
1976). But this one, with cases in Mbandaka, a river-port city of over one million
people on the country's western border, raised the nightmare scenario of spreading to
other river-port cities such as the capital Kinshasa (over 11 million people), as well
as Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo, and Bangui in the Central African
Republic. But, although victory is not assured, so far the response by national and
international health agencies has been a model of applying lessons learned.
June 4, 2018 West Africa/Global: Tax Evasion without Borders
"On paper, the company that engineered and built the [$50 million mineral sands]
processing plant [in Senegal] was SNC Lavalin-Mauritius Ltd, a local division of SNC
Lavalin [Canada]. In reality, SNC Lavalin-Mauritius wasn’t involved. It was a shell,
created for the specific purpose of helping the engineering giant avoid tax payments.
The company had no construction equipment and no office of its own. It operated from
inside the Mauritius office of the offshoring law firm Appleby, which helped SNCLavalin
create the shell company." - West Africa Leaks
May 21, 2018 Namibia/Africa: Afrobarometer Insights
In Namibia in 2014, the ruling SWAPO party decided to adopt a 50-50 gender quota for
its representatives in the National Assembly. This brought the representation of
women in the National Assembly to 41% in the election that year (more than twice the
current 19% of women in the U.S. House of Representatives). Recent survey
results show that the move has proved highly popular in Namibia, with 71% of women
and 68% of men saying that such a quota should be mandated for all political parties.
May 7, 2018 USA/Africa: Achieving 100% Renewable Energy
"We can’t have a working nation or a world if we don’t stop the climate from
careening out of control. That’s been clear for decades now, but what’s been less
clear is precisely what we should do about it. Happily, that’s no longer the case. We
now know exactly what to do, and we’re increasingly certain it can be done. We have
to switch off of coal, oil, and gas, and on to 100% wind, water, and sun energy
sources." - Bill McKibben
May 7, 2018 USA/Africa: Renewable Energy Advances on Many Fronts
Resistance to rapid renewable energy expansion is still high, despite the
acknowledged costs in climate change. The U.S. Power Africa initiative still funds
predominately natural gas, although its investment in renewables is growing. In
Kenya, the Kenyan and Chinese governments are pushing ahead with a coal-fired
generation plant in Lamu, despite strong resistance from local environmentalists and
the fact that China is rapidly abandoning coal at home. Nevertheless, technological
changes and rising awareness of the damage done by fossil fuels are propelling new
advances on many fronts.