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
November 13, 2017 Africa/Global: Counterproductive Counterterrorism
What strategies work to counter terrorism effectively, whether in Africa or anywhere
else in the world? Few would claim to have a convincing answer to that question.
However, there is some real evidence of what strategies do not work and
are even counterproductive. For example, a new UNDP study studying recruitment to
violent extremism, based on interviews with former extremists in Nigeria, Kenya,
and Somalia, found a number of factors underlying the growth of violent extremism.
Particularly striking was the finding that 71 percent of recruits interviewed said
that it was some form of government action that was the 'tipping point' that triggered their final decision to join an
November 13, 2017 USA/Sahel: Questions Asked, Unasked, Half-Answered
The U.S. military presence in Africa, which has been growing steadily since the years
following the 9/11 attack, has been having a spotlight in U.S. media after the death of
four U.S. soldiers in Niger on October 4. But despite numerous questions raised, and
the prominent attention given to the characteristically obtuse and insensitive
response from the White House, the questions raised have been at best half-answered. And
fundamental questions about counterterrorism strategy and U.S. policy were left
unasked in the Washington-focused debate.
October 30, 2017 Africa/Global: Recent Books Read & Recommended
As with other publications largely focused on current events, AfricaFocus Bulletin is
confronted with an exponentially increasing bombardment of daily news. My approach as
the editor is to select a particular topic of interest, sometimes highlighted in the
news and sometimes not, and try to put it into context for readers with excerpts from
the most relevant sources. But I also find it essential to try to step back and
refresh my understanding of the wider context. For that, I find I must turn to books.
October 19, 2017 Somalia: Not Only a Somali Tragedy
"I think it's really quite tragic that a strategy run from Washington, D.C., and from
the European headquarters in Brussels pays so little attention when over 300 people
are killed, massacred, and another 500 people are struggling for their lives, and
that very little support comes from the United States and the European Union to help
the Somali government clean up this, help the people who have been injured or people
who have lost their parents or their children." - Dr. Abdi Samatar
October 9, 2017 Africa/Global: Tobacco Industry Targets Africa Markets
"British American Tobacco (BAT) and other multinational tobacco firms have threatened
governments in at least eight countries in Africa demanding they axe or dilute the
kind of protections that have saved millions of lives in the west, a Guardian
investigation has found. ... The giant tobacco firms hope to boost their markets in
Africa, which has a fast-growing young and increasingly prosperous population." - The
September 25, 2017 Africa/Global: How Women Lose from Tax Injustice
A new report from the Association for Women in Development (AWID), authored by Dr.
Attiya Waris in Nairobi, makes a powerful case that women lose disproportionately
from illicit financial flows, which reduce the tax base and deprive states of the
resources to invest in critical public goods, and that addressing this issue is key
to efforts to combat gender inequality. The point should not be surprising, but too
often the impact of tax evasion and tax avoidance is cloaked in jargon that makes it
less visible than cases such as overt discrimination against women in employment and
wages. In contrast, this report stands out for its clarity. AfricaFocus strongly
recommends the full version, which is available on-line at
August 29, 2017 Sierra Leone: Hard Lessons from Disaster
"The calamity that struck Sierra Leone on Aug. 14, when Sugarloaf, the conical
mountain overlooking the capital, Freetown, collapsed in a mudslide that swept away
buildings and killed at least 400 people, was shocking but not entirely surprisingly.
It is important to be blunt: The tragedy was entirely man-made." - Lansana Gberie
August 23, 2017 USA/Africa: No Policy? Bad Policy? Or Both?
"Africa is terra incognita for the Trump Administration: a continent it cares
little--and understands even less--about. With no dyed-in-the-wool Trumpian Africa
hands available, the administration appears ready to cede Africa policy making to
career civil servants and a few mainstream Republican appointees." - Matthew T. Page
August 8, 2017 Africa: Bridge to Education, or to Nowhere?
"When Liberia's Minister of Education, George Werner, announced last spring that he
was inviting foreign education companies and non-profits to run our public schools,
our country came under the international spotlight, both in Western media and for
education activists. ... Quickly, Liberia was turned into a battlefield between those
who see for-profit 'charter' schools as the solution to the problems that plague
public education across the world, and those of us who point to underinvestment and
poor management as the true culprits." - Mary Mulbah, president, National Teachers'
Association of Liberia
July 31, 2017 Africa: Visa Openness on the Agenda?
"For now, however, crossing borders remains a painful experience for most
Africans. ... On average, Africans need a visa to travel to 54% of the continent's
countries; it's easier for Americans to travel around Africa than it is for Africans
themselves. So far, the AU has issued its single African passport only to heads of
state and senior AU officials." - The Economist
July 24, 2017 Kenya: Pre-election Commentaries, 2
"As the election draws closer, Kenyans are reminded how sexist and patriarchal their
society has remained. Choosing to run is a particularly difficult decision for a
woman and her family. Campaigning is often marked by violence directed at women
candidates. ... The agitation for a greater political role for women led to
progressive legal frameworks. But historical prejudices have ensured that a bill that
would enshrine the law has twice failed to get the numbers in a male-dominated
House." - Beatrice Akala
July 24, 2017 Kenya: Pre-election Commentaries, 1
"Like Nairobi's infamous matatus, the election is barreling along, many times on the
wrong side of the law, the noise and vitriol of the campaigns drowning out common
sense. For the terrified passengers, whether they -- and Kenya -- arrive at the other
side in one piece seems to be coming down to a wing and a prayer." - Patrick Gathara
July 17, 2017 Congo (Kinshasa): Inga Dam Mirage Recedes, Again
The latest projections for the Inga 3 hydroelectric project on the Congo River to
become operational, cited in press reports last week, are 2024 or 2025. But even if
the project is financed and constructed, says a new report, the project will likely
provide only minimal electric power for the people of Democratic Republic of the
Congo and burden the country with more unsustainable debt.
July 10, 2017 Africa/Global: Following the Money
"As an important tool in our fight against corruption, tax evasion, terrorist
financing and money laundering, we will advance the effective implementation of the
international standards on transparency and beneficial ownership of legal persons and
legal arrangements, including the availability of information in the domestic and
crossborder context." - G20 Summit Communiqué, Hamburg, July 8, 2017