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
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.
April 23, 2018 Ethiopia: Wax, Gold, and "Ethiopianness"
The appointment of Abiy Ahmed as prime minister of Ethiopia on April 2 was met with
relief and with high expectations by Ethiopians as well as internationally. Although
he is a leader of one of the parties in the ruling coalition, he is young (he turns
42 today) and has a reputation as someone open to inclusion and diverse views. Yet
the structural problems he and the country face are profound. Ethiopians as well as
other informed observers are cautious about predicting to what extent promises will
meet expectations, or, in a classic Ethiopian expression, how much gold there is
beneath the wax.
April 9, 2018 Africa: Storybooks in African Languages
The African Storybook project, which launched only five years ago to make books
available to teachers and students in African languages, already has made available
903 storybooks in 136 different languages, including English, French, Portuguese,
Arabic, Hausa, Swahili, and a host of other languages spoken on the continent.
March 26, 2018 Zimbabwe: Women Continue Protest at Hwange Coal
At a meeting on February 11, two weeks into a protest by hundreds of women in the
mining community outside the company's offices, still continuing in late March, the
Hwange Colliery Company Ltd. (HCCL) admitted that the company owed its workers a
total of $70 million. HCCL management said they did not have the money to pay,
although many workers had not been paid full wages for almost five years.
March 12, 2018 Africa/Global: Charting Where They Hide the Money, 2
"Overall, the City of London and [its] offshore satellites constitute by
far the most important part of the global offshore world of secrecy
jurisdictions. Had we lumped them together, the British network would
be at the top of our index, above Switzerland." - Tax Justice Network
March 12, 2018 Africa/Global: Charting Where They Hide the Money, 1
"Switzerland, the United States and the Cayman Islands are the world’s biggest
contributors to financial secrecy, according to the latest edition of the Tax Justice
Network’s Financial Secrecy Index (FSI). ... Kenya, which this year set up its own
tax haven in the form of the Nairobi International Financial Centre, is an example of
how interests of western financial service lobbyists have successfully lured
governments into a race to the bottom. Kenya, which has been assessed for the first
time in the 2018 FSI, has an extremely high secrecy score of 80/100." - Tax Justice
February 26, 2018 Nigeria/Global: Promising Potential for Solar Mini-Grids
In contrast to fossil fuels, which require transportation of fuel to generation
plants to produce electricity, and distribution networks to reach end-users of the
power, solar energy is eminently scalable and flexible, from portable lanterns all
the way to utility-scale photo-voltaic solar farms. Stand-alone off-grid systems can
power a single home or a school, and mini-grids can serve small communities.
February 12, 2018 Sudan: Perilous Crossroads on Refugee Map
Sudan is one of the central crossroads for African migrant journeys, particularly
for refugees from Eritrea and other counties in the Horn of Africa.
The international media spotlight falls most often on the deadly crossing of the
Mediterranean or slave auctions in the Libyan dessert. But the vulnerability and
deadly perils facing those forced to flee by war, repression, or the struggle for
economic survival extends to a far wider terrain, of which Sudan is one example.
January 29, 2018 Africa/Global: Humanitarian Attention Deficits
The international system of response to humanitarian crises is flawed. And the often-repeated
call to focus on addressing causes of crises and structural flaws in the
system, instead of only providing short-term relief, is undeniably justified. But
current trends, paralleling austerity programs and cuts in services at domestic
levels in the United States and around the world, are not moving in the direction of
fundamental reform. Instead, they are further diminishing the already inadequate
resources devoted to saving lives.
January 15, 2018 Africa/Global: World Trends in Inequality
"The divergence in inequality levels has been particularly extreme between Western
Europe and the United States, which had similar levels of inequality in 1980 but
today are in radically different situations. While the top 1% income share was close
to 10% in both regions in 1980, it rose only slightly to 12% in 2016 in Western
Europe while it shot up to 20% in the United States. Meanwhile, in the United States,
the bottom 50% income share decreased from more than 20% in 1980 to 13% in 2016." -
World Inequality Report, 2018