German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hands over an invitation to the G-7 Summit in Elmau to Senegalese President Macky Sall, before a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, Senegal, May 22, 2022 (DPA photo by Michael Kappeler via AP Images).

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made his inaugural visit to Africa with a three-nation tour that began in Senegal and concluded in South Africa. His trip came a little over three months after a visit by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was abruptly cut short by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The ongoing crisis there and its geopolitical ramifications—including for food and energy security, international security and the future of the international system more broadly—were prominent features of Scholz’s visit.  The salience of those issues is reflected in the countries on Scholz’s itinerary. Senegal is regarded as a regional pillar of stability and […]

People hold a banner showing Col. Assimi Goita, leader of the junta running Mali, as they demonstrate to show support for the junta in the capital Bamako, Mali, Sept. 8, 2020 (AP photo).

In May 2021, Mali suffered its second coup in the space of a year, both of which were perpetrated by the same group of colonels. While the first coup, in August 2020, followed a recognizable script of quickly standing up a civilian-led transitional government with the task of guiding the country to democratic elections, the second has upended that “business-as-usual” approach to post-coup transitions. As such, for Mali and for West African democracy in general, it represents a real turning point, revealing the coup-makers’ combination of shrewdness and ambition—a combination that is already being replicated by military juntas that have […]

President Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea-Bissau arrives for a dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Nov. 11, 2021 (AP photo by Michel Euler).

President Umaro Sissoco Embalo dissolved Guinea-Bissau’s parliament this week and called for snap parliamentary elections to be held at the end of the year, in the latest twist to a long-running political crisis in the country. In a televised address to the nation, Sissoco cited “persistent and unresolvable differences” with parliament as the main reason for his decision. He also accused lawmakers of corruption and embezzlement, saying that several parliamentarians had “turned the people's national assembly into a place of political guerrilla warfare and conspiracy.” Sissoco’s party, MADEM-G15, currently holds a minority of legislative seats; the historically dominant and former ruling African […]

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, right, marks his election win with incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, left, in Mogadishu, Somalia, May 15, 2022 (AP photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh).

Somali lawmakers elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the country’s next president yesterday in a vote broadcast live on national television, bringing a conclusion to a dramatic, long-delayed presidential election that threatened to exacerbate socio-political tensions in the country. Mohamud, who previously served as Somalia’s president between 2012 and 2017, beat out 36 candidates, including incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. Farmaajo, as Mohamed is known, conceded defeat, paving the way for Mohamud to be sworn in immediately. The poll was conducted in a tent on the premises of Mogadishu’s heavily guarded airport complex, amid a lockdown and curfew imposed on the city by […]

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni attends the state funeral of former Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi, Nairobi, Kenya, Feb. 11, 2020 (AP photo by John Muchucha).

Last month, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba, celebrated his 48th birthday with a series of public parties. The events were widely viewed as the thinly veiled launch of a political project that would see Muhoozi succeed his father. The move follows years of similar, albeit more subtle, maneuvers—particularly Muhoozi’s rapid rise through the ranks of the country’s military; the apparent purge of potential contenders within the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party; increased public appearances; and, more recently, his flurry of meetings with various diplomats and heads of state. It is not yet clear what is prompting the apparent acceleration of the […]

Forces loyal to Libya’s U.N.-appointed interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah arrive from Misrata to Tripoli in a show of support, Feb. 12, 2022 (AP photo by Yousef Murad).

By any definition, Libya is a so-called fragile state and a high-priority challenge for international security. Since 2011, it has been wracked by repeated cycles of internal division and proxy warfare. It is a key node of arms smuggling and human trafficking, and a feeder of violence, conflict and human suffering across North Africa and down to the Sahel and the broader West Africa region. In recognition of these challenges, the U.S. recently named it one of the priority countries for the Global Fragility Act, or GFA, a 2019 law designed to change the way the U.S. government approaches conflict-prevention and peacebuilding […]

Judith Andeka, a worker in the informal economy, returns to her house in the Kibera informal settlement, Nairobi, Kenya (AP photo by Brian Inganga).

Kenya’s largest trade union federation hailed an executive order issued earlier this month by President Uhuru Kenyatta that increased the monthly minimum wage by 12 percent. The Central Organization of Trade Unions called the directive “a great win for Kenyans” during a period of economic hardship brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, high inflation and a rise in fuel prices. Kenyatta made the announcement during a Labor Day celebration on May 1, saying that higher wages would cushion workers against the erosion of their purchasing power and enhance Kenya’s economic productivity. He further described the increase as “an appreciation to workers for […]

Chad’s interim president, Gen. Mahamat Idriss Deby, is welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron for a meeting on the Sahel crisis at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Nov. 12, 2021 (AP photo by Michel Euler).

The spate of military takeovers and attempted coups across Africa over the past two years has led to speculation in some quarters about a generalized “return to military rule” or “coup contagion” on the continent. In August 2020, a group of Malian officers led by Col. Assimi Goita overthrew the government of former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. A little over nine months later, Goita also deposed the transitional government the interim junta had selected to steer the country back toward a democratically elected civilian government. In Guinea and Sudan, the army toppled civilian leaders last year, while Chad’s armed forces […]

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, right, greets Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Algiers, Algeria, May 10, 2022 (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service photo via AP).

The war in Ukraine has exacerbated Europe’s energy crisis, leaving the European Union desperately seeking alternative sources of supply to reduce its dependence on Russian fossil fuels. Among the states in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia the EU has turned to in efforts to diversify its energy supplies Algeria has been identified as a promising source of additional supplies of natural gas. But diplomatic obstacles and production limitations, as well as Algiers’ commercial links to Moscow, mean that expectations management are in order when it comes to Algeria being a cure for Europe’s energy woes. Among the […]

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres waves to the crowds upon arrival in Maiduguri, Nigeria, May 3, 2022 (AP photo by Chinedu Asadu).

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio visited Dakar, Senegal, this week as part of his first trip to the African continent since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The ongoing impacts of the pandemic, including its multiplier effect on public health, economics, conflict, climate action and political stability, have been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and the collective response to that conflict, a major theme of Guterres’ visit to West Africa. During his three-nation tour to Senegal, Niger and Nigeria, which began last weekend and ended Wednesday, Guterres called on rich countries to increase their investment in African countries, at a time […]

A Dutch military instructor briefs Ivorian special forces soldiers during the annual U.S.-led Flintlock counterterrorism training exercise, near base camp Loumbila, Jacqueville, Cote d’Ivoire, Feb. 17, 2022 (AP photo by Sylvain Cherkaoui).

On a quiet Sunday morning in early September 2021, diplomats found themselves yanked away from their weekend plans as another military coup stunned West Africa. After reports on social media of shooting in the capital city of Conakry, news filtered out that a young army colonel had seized power in Guinea. Wearing the tactical clothing symbolizing his role as the commander of Guinea’s special operations forces, 42-year-old Col. Mamady Doumbouya declared that he would sweep away the authoritarian behavior and corruption that had marked the rule of the then-83-year-old President Alpha Conde. In the months that followed, it became increasingly clear […]

Then-Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, center, shakes hands with Raila Odinga, right, as former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, left, looks on, Jan. 24, 2008 in Nairobi, Kenya (AP photo by Karel Prinsloo).

Kenyans paid their final respects to former President Mwai Kibaki in a state funeral Friday that was attended by several African leaders. Kibaki, who served two terms as Kenya’s third president from 2002 to 2013, died last month at the age of 90. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir were among the thousands present at the service in Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. Ramaphosa, who spoke at the funeral, eulogized Kibaki as a great statesman “in the mold in which we saw our own first president, President Nelson Mandela.” Similarly, Zewde praised Kibaki, calling him “a true […]

French President Emmanuel Macron looks at Beninese art during a ceremony for the return of 26 works to Benin, with Benin Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, at the Quai Branly Museum-Jacques Chirac, Paris, October 27, 2021 (Sipa via AP Images).

COTONOU, Benin—During a February press conference announcing a new exhibition of newly repatriated treasures, Jean-Michel Abimbola, Benin’s minister of culture, was asked by a British journalist to address the common claim that European museums are better able to care for African artifacts than African ones. He responded curtly. “I'm not sure we can continue to support this argument vis-à-vis Benin,” Abimbola said. “This will amount to asking whether Black people have souls, and I would not like to answer this question.” His statement was a strong one and underscored the importance of the new exhibition, titled “Benin Art from Yesterday […]