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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

April 25, 2017  Zambia: From Democracy to Dictatorship? http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/zam1704.php
    "Our country is now all, except in designation, a dictatorship and if it is not yet, then we are not far from it. Our political leaders in the ruling party often issue intimidating statements that frighten people and make us fear for the immediate and future. This must be stopped and reversed henceforth." - Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops, April 23, 2017

April 25, 2017  Africa/Global: Media Repression 2.0 http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/med1704.php
    "In the days when news was printed on paper, censorship was a crude practice involving government officials with black pens, the seizure of printing presses and raids on newsrooms. The complexity and centralization of broadcasting also made radio and television vulnerable to censorship even when the governments didn't exercise direct control of the airwaves. ... New information technologies-- the global, interconnected internet; ubiquitous social media platforms; smart phones with cameras--were supposed to make censorship obsolete. Instead, they have just made it more complicated." - Joel Simon, Committee to Protect Journalists, April 25, 2017

April 17, 2017  Africa/Global: New Reports Show Massive Tax Losses http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/tax1704.php
    On April 15, "tax day" in the United States, tens of thousands of demonstrators in over 200 communities around the country marched to demand that President Trump make public his tax returns ( http://taxmarch.org/home/). Protesters also denounced his use of taxpayer funds for his personal profit and military escalation while his administration continues its assault on spending for urgent public needs at home and around the world. There is no sign that the President will comply with the demand for transparency. But the award of a Pulitzer Prize last week to the international consortium that exposed the Panama Papers was only one indicator that the drive to expose tax evasion, tax avoidance, and corruption around the world will continue.

April 10, 2017  Africa: African Feminism Past and Present http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/wom1704.php
    "On February 18th I lost my grand aunt - my grandmother really ... This incredible woman, May Kyomugasho Katebaka left us at the age of 97. We last met in 2014 when I visited her. She's a fierce woman. Fierce in her religion but also fierce in her knowledge of what she wanted from the world. And that is what moves me. Moves me every time one claims feminism is foreign and for the educated, un-african. She always came to mind when I met such arguments. I would tell myself that if only they could hear half her life story, then they would understand why I am such a rebellion." - Rosebell Kagumire (https://rosebellkagumire.com/)

April 3, 2017  South Africa: Rising Outcry for Zuma to Go http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/sa1704.php
    "We call on Ministers and leaders of the ANC who care about the future of democracy and the Constitution to speak up and call on the President, in the best interests of the country, to step down. We call on the parliamentary leadership of the ANC, supported by all opposition parties, to insist that parliament be recalled immediately to debate a motion of no-confidence, proposed by the ANC leadership in parliament. We call on all members of Parliament to unite and support a motion of no-confidence." - Statement by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, March 31, 2017

March 28, 2017  Liberia: Mining, Displacement, and the World Bank http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/lib1703.php
    "The roots of the New Liberty Gold project stretch back before 1995, when a resource extraction license was issued by former warlord turned president Charles Taylor to a mysterious company called KAFCO. The permit changed hands a few times and, today, Avesoro holds its permit via a wholly-owned subsidiary, Bea Mountain Mining Corp a company created in 1996 by Keikurah B. Kpoto, one of Taylor's closest associates. In 1998, foreign interests bought Bea Mountain Mining. The beneficiaries of the sale were well hidden. According to a document IRIN procured, three quarters of its capital belonged to a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. The rest was held by owners of bearer shares." - IRIN investigative report, March 21, 2017

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.