1

French President Emmanuel Macron’s trip to West Africa this week was billed by Paris as his latest effort to reshape France’s relations with its former colonies in Africa. But the visit’s short-term fanfare is unlikely to blunt deepening opposition to France or slow down its declining influence in the region.

1

It makes sense that a continent that is home to 54 countries and 1.2 billion people would also house many contradictory developments. Africa features several of the world’s fastest-growing economies and a burgeoning middle class. But much of the continent remains mired in debt, burdened by conflict and beset by elites clinging to power.

In early July, Sierra Leone’s Cabinet approved the decision to draft a bill conferring a constitutional right to safe abortion. But once passed, the law will only be the first step in ensuring access to safe abortions and other reproductive health services in a country where unsafe abortions have dire health consequences.

French President Emmanuel Macron greets Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso in Paris, Nov. 12, 2021 (AP photo by Francois Mori).

Corruption is rampant and inequality is endemic in the Republic of Congo. In many countries, these conditions, combined with the staggering price hikes caused by the war in Ukraine, have led to rises in public anger that have threatened world leaders from Sri Lanka to Ecuador. Yet, despite being in control during the decades when those conditions became entrenched in Congo-Brazzaville, President Denis Sassou Nguesso and his ruling Congolese Labor Party, or PCT, actually strengthened their grip on power in the country’s recent legislative elections, thanks both to domestic repression and international complacency. Provisional results released by the government indicate that the PCT won nearly 110 seats in the 151-seat National Assembly in the mid-July vote. A second round of voting is […]

Terrence Howard is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, Sept. 24, 2019 (Sipa photo via AP Images).

Earlier this month, during a visit to Uganda, the Hollywood actor Terrence Howard held a press conference with local journalists and senior Ugandan government officials, including President Yoweri Museveni, in attendance. In a clip that was shared by Uganda’s state broadcaster and quickly went viral, Howard claimed to have invented a new hydrogen technology that could help Uganda “defend the sovereignty of a peaceful place and a peaceful people.” The dubious nature of Howard’s claims made for some comic relief among Ugandans and other observers alike, with many Twitter commenters—including me—making allusions to investment schemes promoted by the Senegalese-American singer Akon that have drawn comparisons to […]

Gabonese President Ali Bongo speaks during the opening ceremony of the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 1, 2021 (Pool photo by Yves Herman via AP).

Gabon has long flaunted its green credentials, enjoying a reputation as a leader in global efforts to combat climate change and environmental destruction. In June 2021, that image got another boost when Gabon became the first country in Africa to receive a payout for having reduced its carbon emissions. In disbursing the first payment of $17 million, the Central African Forest Initiative, on behalf of the Norwegian government, committed to providing Gabon’s government with $150 million in conservation financing over 10 years for lowering emissions from forest loss in 2016 and 2017, compared to baseline data from 2006 to 2015. […]

African heads of state gather for a group photograph at the African Union leaders’ summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Feb. 5, 2022 (AP photo).

Last week, 13 African heads of state and government attended the African Union’s Mid-Year Coordination Meeting, the principal forum for the AU and Africa’s Regional Economic Communities, or RECs, to align their priorities and coordinate implementation of the continental integration agenda. This year’s meeting, the fourth since the format was launched in 2017 to replace a mid-year leaders’ summit, was focused on issues like the status of regional integration in Africa; the division of labor between the AU, its member states and RECs; a tripartite free trade agreement between the East African Community, The Common Market for Eastern and Southern […]

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune speaks with the press ahead of a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in Algiers, Algeria, March 30, 2022 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

On July 5, Algeria celebrated the 60th anniversary of its independence with a military parade in the capital city, Algiers, complete with tanks, helicopters and missile launchers, moving along roads lined with the national flag. The event was meant to celebrate a pivotal day in 1962, when the country officially bucked French colonial rule after fighting a brutal, eight-year war of liberation. But for many, the vision of military hardware parading across the capital that sunny, summer day served instead as a reminder of all that has gone wrong since independence. According to Mourad Ouchichi, a professor of political science […]

1

The novel coronavirus caught many world leaders unprepared, despite consistent warnings that a global pandemic was inevitable. And it has revealed the flaws in a global health architecture headed by the World Health Organization, which had already been faulted for its response to the 2014 Ebola pandemic in West Africa. Will there be an overhaul of the WHO when the pandemic is over?

Armed militiamen gather near Rutshuru, 45 miles north of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, June 22, 2022 (AP photo by Moses Sawasawa).

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi and his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, have agreed to a deescalation process between their two countries following bilateral talks last week to address rising tensions on their mutual border. The two leaders held the talks in Luanda, Angola’s capital, at a tripartite summit hosted by Angolan President Joao Lourenco, who was appointed by the African Union to mediate. In a statement released on Twitter, the Congolese presidency said that “the summit aimed to restore trust between the two neighboring countries,” adding that their process of deescalation will be achieved by reviving the joint Congo-Rwanda joint commission, which has […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in the virtual BRICS summit via a video call, Moscow, Russia, June 23, 2022 (Sputnik photo by Mikhail Metzel via AP).

In what were hailed as the “two most productive summits in years,” the Group of 7 and NATO held their annual leaders’ meetings last week in Germany and Spain, respectively. The G-7 summit concluded with the leaders emphasizing and enhancing their support for Ukraine in its war against Russia, agreeing on measures to combat climate change and announcing a Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, seen as a direct counter to China’s development program, the Belt and Road Initiative. As for the NATO summit, it witnessed the entry into the alliance of two new members, Finland and Sweden, as well […]

A demonstrator protests the police murder of George Floyd in front of the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 8, 2020 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

I often like to say that my relationship with World Politics Review has come full circle from reader to employee. I have been a WPR reader for almost as long as the publication has existed. Two years ago, Judah Grunstein, WPR’s editor-in-chief, and I made contact on Twitter, and he subsequently invited me to contribute two articles, which we both thought turned out nicely. That’s why when the opportunity to join WPR’s editorial team arose, it was a no-brainer for me, not least because a core part of my responsibility would be to write a weekly newsletter about African affairs. […]

1

Kenyans will head to the polls on Aug. 9 in a presidential election that will usher in a transition after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s two terms in office. Kenya has come a long way since 2007, when claims of electoral fraud led to serious violence. Nevertheless, the risk of instability this year is still nontrivial.

Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo leaves after the funeral of former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in Accra, Ghana, Sept. 13, 2018 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Arise Ghana, a Ghanaian political pressure group, organized a two-day protest last week to express the public’s growing anxiety over economic conditions in the country, including unemployment, the rising cost of living and the depreciation of the Ghanaian currency, the cedi. The group called on the government to take “pragmatic steps to alleviate the suffering of the people of Ghana.” During the protests, demonstrators marched to the headquarters of Ghana’s Ministry of Finance, where they presented a petition calling on the ministry to “take urgent steps to ensure that inflation is brought down to the barest minimum to allow the […]

Environmental and wildlife campaigners march to the Chinese embassy to protest the proposed construction of a Chinese-built railway bridge, in Nairobi, Kenya, Oct. 17, 2016 (AP Photo by Ben Curtis).

A year ago, in July 2021, a prominent environmentalist was killed in Kenya. Joannah Stutchbury had been a vocal critic of a development project that was about to begin construction in Kiambu forest, a protected area of more than 1,000 acres near Nairobi, the capital. A third-generation Kenyan with British ancestry, Stutchbury had been fighting against the illegal corporate takeover of these lands when she was shot dead while clearing branches outside her home. On the global stage, Kenya has a reputation as a center for wildlife conservation work, boasting 24 national parks, 15 national reserves, six marine parks and […]

Migrants climb the fences separating the Spanish enclave of Melilla from Morocco in Melilla, Spain, June 24, 2022 (AP photo by Javier Bernardo).

International condemnation is growing against Morocco and Spain as more details emerge about the violent deaths of at least 37 migrants during an attempt last week to cross Morocco’s border with the Spanish enclave of Melilla. According to media reports, more than 2,000 people attempted to enter the enclave from the Moroccan city of Nador. Moroccan authorities initially claimed that the migrants died in a stampede or as a result of falling from the high, barbed-wire fence that separates Melilla from Moroccan territory. But human rights groups threw cold water on those claims, and video footage quickly emerged and circulated on […]