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
January 15, 2018 South Africa/USA: Inequality is Extreme and Still Rising
"I came here because of my deep interest and affection for a land settled by the
Dutch in the mid-seventeenth century, then taken over by the British, and at last
independent; a land in which the native inhabitants were at first subdued, but
relations with whom remain a problem to this day; a land which defined itself on a
hostile frontier; a land which has tamed rich natural resources through the energetic
application of modern technology; a land which once imported slaves, and now must
struggle to wipe out the last traces of that former bondage. I refer, of course, to
the United States of America." - Robert F. Kennedy, University of Cape Town, June 6,
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
December 18, 2017 Cameroon: Speech, Rights, and Aging Autocracy
Cameroonian-American writer Patrice Nganang, an acclaimed novelist who writes in
French and teaches at the State University of New York, Stonybrook, remains in prison
in Cameroon after his detention at the airport on December 6. His friends and
colleagues around the world have mobilized protests, which has evoked international
attention and pressure. But the aging autocracy of Cameroon President Paul Biya is
pressing charges against him, and is even more resistant to addressing the issues of
discrimination he highlighted in an article just a day before his arrest.
December 11, 2017 Africa/Global: Paradise Papers, Plus
The Paradise Papers investigation, based on a leak of 6.8 million documents from the
offshore law firm Appleby, is the largest of recent revelations of the hidden world
of financial manipulation used by both multinational corporations and rich (high net
worth) individuals from around the world. Like the Panama Papers investigation that
won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, it is based both on "big data" analysis and on
collaborative investigative reporting by teams of hundreds of journalists. But it is
based on the records of only one offshore law firm, albeit one of the most prominent.
Despite the size of the leak, it still reveals only the tip of the iceberg.
November 27, 2017 Zimbabwe: After Mugabe, Looking Forward
"While Zimbabweans understandably embraced military intervention because it led to
the ouster of Mugabe and prevented his wife Grace from succeeding him, they must also
embrace the fact that it comes with further, less palatable consequences. The episode
demonstrated once again that the military is a critical arm of the state which has
become the kingmaker in Zimbabwean politics." - Alex T. Magaisa
November 27, 2017 Zimbabwe: After Mugabe, Looking Back
In Zimbabwe, celebration at the departure of Robert Mugabe from office after 37 years
in power has been fervent and heartfelt. But almost all of those celebrating also
acknowledge the difficulties of the months and years to come. Hope is tempered by
recognition that the structures of kleptocratic and military rule remain in place.
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.
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
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