Security forces in Bamako, Mali, Aug. 22, 2020 (AP Photo).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Africa Watch, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about the African continent. Subscribe to receive it by email every Friday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. The military officer who overthrew Mali’s elected government last year, Col. Assimi Goita, this week deposed the civilian president and prime minister of the transitional authority he helped install in the aftermath of the coup, creating a new political crisis in the West […]

A woman hands money to a vegetable vendor at a market in Kohima, India, June 30, 2020 (AP photo by Yirmiyan Arthur).

In many parts of the world, particularly in emerging markets, women are at a stark disadvantage when it comes to obtaining a loan. Studies have shown that expanding access to credit for women would spur economic growth, yet the financial gender gap remains stubbornly wide. In fact, there are more than 70 countries where women cannot even open a bank account. According to Mary Ellen Iskenderian, president and CEO of the nonprofit Women’s World Banking, emerging financial technologies, or fintech, have the potential to revolutionize access to credit for women in low-income countries by allowing them to receive loans from […]

A woman carries vegetables outside a wholesale market in Jammu, India, May 2, 2020 (AP photo by Channi Anand).

In 2015, a report from the McKinsey Global Institute found that up to $28 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 if women were allowed to achieve their full economic potential. Yet according to the World Economic Forum, there are more than 70 countries where women are not allowed to open bank accounts or obtain credit. The gender gap in financial account penetration tends to be widest in certain emerging markets, like South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the Middle East. Even when financial services are available to them, women often face bias and discrimination at various […]

A man sends brain-computer interface commands to a robotic computer during Science Conference at the Convention Center in Washington, D.C., Feb. 17, 2011 (AP photo by Jose Luis Magan).

Technology has blurred all sorts of boundaries we used to take for granted—between work and leisure, between being alone and being with others, between private and public spaces. One boundary we still generally treat as sacrosanct, though, is the one around our own minds, which allows us to think for ourselves and to keep those thoughts private, whether they are rebellious, impolite or simply irrelevant. After all, the power to make up our own minds is an essential part of what makes us individuals. Technology may now be challenging this mental independence, too, and some of its applications could threaten […]

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation Address to Parliament, in Cape Town, South Africa, Feb. 11, 2021 (pool photo by Esa Alexander via AP).

Cyril Ramaphosa’s rise to the South African presidency in 2018 generated considerable optimism that his leadership would bring a more enlightened approach to policy, both domestic and foreign. His talk of a “new dawn” and his calls for a return to the values of Nelson Mandela represented an implicit repudiation of his two immediate predecessors, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. In the case of the latter, Ramaphosa also promised an end to the rampant corruption and state capture that characterized Zuma’s decade in office. Human rights organizations viewed Ramaphosa’s presidency as an opportunity for a policy reset, and they encouraged […]

Migrants are surrounded by Spanish security forces after arriving at the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, near the border of Morocco and Spain, May 19, 2021 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Africa Watch, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about the African continent. Subscribe to receive it by email every Friday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Thousands of African migrants were caught in the middle of a diplomatic feud between Morocco and Spain this week, touching off a humanitarian emergency and raising concerns about Madrid’s migration policy. The standoff between Madrid and Rabat was the latest fallout from a […]

President Yowerei Museveni arrives at his inaugration, in Kololo, Uganda, May 12, 2021 (AP photo by Nicholas Bamulanzeki).

KAMPALA, Uganda—On May 12, after 35 years in office, Yoweri Museveni was sworn in for his sixth elected term as president of Uganda. The ceremony marked the end of a year-long ritual centered on what was misleadingly called an “election.” Shots were fired, money changed hands and then, almost as an afterthought, Ugandans went to the polls in mid-January. In the preceding and subsequent months, opposition supporters have been harassed, beaten, abducted, tortured and even killed. The process is better understood as a manifestation of power than as a choice about who wields it. The 2021 election did not unseat […]

Health workers tend to an Ebola victim kept in an isolation cube in Beni, Congo, July 13, 2019 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Africa Watch, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about the African continent. Subscribe to receive it by email every Wednesday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. Nearly two dozen women came forward this week to accuse aid workers of sexual exploitation and assault during the international response to the Ebola outbreak in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that began in 2018, even as evidence has emerged that World […]

Soldiers stand outside a polling station in Kampala, Uganda, Jan. 14, 2021 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

The unmarked white vans, known locally as “drones,” stop at marketplaces and on busy street corners across Uganda. A mix of uniformed and plainclothes security officers shove terrified captives into the vehicles and drive them to undisclosed locations. Many are never seen again. The pages of the Daily Monitor, an independent Ugandan newspaper, are awash with stories of families searching desperately for their missing loved ones. Their crime: supporting opposition candidate Bobi Wine in the country’s January presidential election. From his origins in a ghetto in the capital, Kampala, the popstar-turned-politician—whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi—rose to challenge long-ruling President […]

Turkey’s deputy foreign minister, Sedat Onal, seated second right, and his Egyptian counterpart Hamdi Sanad Loza, fourth left, and their delegations, in Cairo, Egypt, May 5, 2021 (AP photo by Nariman El-Mofty).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Middle East Memo, which takes a look at what’s happening, what’s being said and what’s on the horizon in the Middle East. Subscribe to receive it by email every Monday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it. In 2014, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at the time Turkey’s prime minister, condemned Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as a “tyrant.” Last week, Erdogan, now president, sent a high-level diplomatic delegation to Cairo for discussions of bilateral relations and regional affairs, the first such official talks since […]

People protest against the rule of a transitional military council headed by the son of the late President Idriss Deby, in N’Djamena, Chad, April 27, 2021 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Africa Watch by email every week. Three weeks after President Idriss Deby was killed in battle in late April, the transitional military council that seized control of Chad in the wake of his death moved to solidify its hold on power this week, naming a new government filled with holdovers from Deby’s regime. The move by the council, which is headed by the former president’s son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, threatens to fuel tensions in […]

A group of men identified by Nigerian police as Boko Haram extremists in Maiduguri, Nigeria, July 18, 2018 (AP photo by Jossy Ola).

Around the world, states locked in conflict with jihadists are trying to devise policies to reintegrate disillusioned militants into society. In Nigeria, a program targeting defectors from the violent extremist group Boko Haram offers a window into the promise and pitfalls of such efforts. For the past 12 years, Nigeria has struggled to quash a violent insurgency waged by Boko Haram in its northeast. Although a 2015 military offensive put the jihadists onto the back foot, the federal government recognized that it would not be able to defeat the insurgency solely through force. It therefore decided to explore nonmilitary ways […]

A soldier stands guard outside the site of a terrorist attack in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Jan. 18, 2016 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Even with its physical “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria in tatters, the Islamic State is still managing to wage a global insurgency, maintaining an operational presence in at least 20 separate countries. The organization’s global diffusion recently led a group of leading terrorism experts to describe ISIS as an “adhocracy,” better understood as a group of “structurally fluid organizations in which ‘interacting project teams’ work towards a shared purpose and/or identity.” By maintaining this structure, the group’s leaders seek to harness the benefits of a transnational network spanning multiple regions and continents. “All politics is local,” as the famous saying […]

French President Emmanuel Macron, center, attends the state funeral for the late Chadian President Idriss Deby, with Deby’s son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, in N’Djamena, Chad, April 23, 2021 (pool photo by Christophe Petit Tesson via AP).

It all started in late April with an open letter written by a group of 20 retired French generals and published in a right-wing weekly news magazine, Valeurs Actuelles, known for its inflammatory provocations. Describing France as teetering on the edge of civil war, the letter called on France’s civilian leadership to take action so the military wouldn’t have to. With its reference to the threats posed by “Islamism and the hordes from the banlieues”—France’s peri-urban ghettos—and a form of anti-racism that “despises our country, its traditions, its culture,” the letter was more foghorn than dog whistle when it comes […]

Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, then the prime minister-designate of Libya, during a news conference in Tripoli, Feb. 25, 2021 (AP photo by Hazem Ahmed).

This time last year, the Libyan capital was caught up in a year-old military campaign that had further internationalized the country’s dangerous divisions. Today, there is a new mood of cautious optimism in Tripoli. In October, negotiators from the two main warring sides—the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord and forces led by Khalifa Haftar, a commander based in eastern Libya—reached a cease-fire agreement that allowed for the resumption of a U.N.-led dialogue process. This in turn paved the way to the formation of Libya’s first unified government since the country slid into civil war in 2014. The new Government […]

Senegalese President Macky Sall, left, and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez during a welcome ceremony at the presidential palace in Dakar, Senegal, April 9, 2021 (AP photo by Leo Correa).

MALAGA, Spain—In early April, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez traveled to Angola and Senegal, accompanied by representatives of 12 Spanish companies he hopes will do business there. The visit followed the launch in late March of his ambitious Focus Africa 2023 project, which aims to increase Spain’s commercial presence and investment throughout the continent, as well as to improve economic opportunities and infrastructure in several sub-Saharan nations. Closer to home, in terms of Sanchez’s political agenda, the project seeks to address the root causes of migration, with the hope that, in time, these improved circumstances will reduce the levels of […]

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Bucharest, Romania, June 19, 2019 (AP photo by Vadim Ghirda).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Middle East Memo, which takes a look at what’s happening, what’s being said and what’s on the horizon in the Middle East. Subscribe to receive it by email every Monday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it. In recent weeks, Egypt has released a handful of high-profile political prisoners, including three journalists, Khaled Dawoud, Solafa Magdy and Hossam el-Sayyad. Dawoud, who had become a leader in the opposition al-Dustour, or Constitution party, was arrested in 2019 following the outbreak of brief anti-government protests. […]