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Africa
Interview with Edetaen Ojo, Internet Freedom Fellow

A new age of communication is dawning. Voices demanding to be heard are fading from town squares and entering a new digital arena. Voices that, in this new age of smartphones and social media, are harder than ever to silence, even as advancing technology puts new tools of censorship into the hands of government officials. However, efforts to oppose the influence of internet censorship are rapidly gaining momentum worldwide.

Interview with Danladi Verheijen, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Verod Capital

Move over BRICs. Africa is currently one of the fastest developing regions in the world, with six of the world’s top ten fastest growing economies hailing from the continent. As economies reach GDP growth rates of 6 and 7 percent, the continent finds itself in need of an influx of foreign investment, venture capital, and smart public-private partnerships to build the infrastructure needed to sustain such growth.

Zambia: Standing Up to Chinese Businesses

The Zambian government recently revoked three small-scale mining licenses held by Chinese Collum Coal Mine in Sinazongwe in Southern Province due to violations of safety and environmental laws and its failure to pay mineral royalties. The Zambian government has taken over operations until a suitable investor willing to comply with the law has been identified. Since the mine was taken over by the Zambian government, it claims that regular inspections have been conducted in order to remedy the mines’ problems. The decision to revoke the licenses sets an important precedent for similar cases, while also indicating a change in the trade partnership between China and Zambia, in which the African country is less inclined to allow Chinese companies to dictate rules and takes more active ownership of its natural resources.

The Spectre of Terrorism and the Islamist Challenge in North Africa

North Africa remains afflicted by the spectre of terrorism, and there are indications that the threat is on the rise. There is no state in the Maghreb region which has not experienced it, and the worsening socio-economic conditions in the region have stimulated the development and spread of terrorist recruitment networks in neighbouring countries. Furthermore, the political impasse in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine, as well as geostrategic interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan by a coalition of actors including the U.S., the UK, and their allies, has further fuelled the rise of political and violent extremist terrorist movements in the region. In particular, the 2003 U.S.-led operation in Iraq fuelled violent extremist ideologies and boosted jihadist recruitment. According to some analyses, between 2006 and 2007 almost one third of foreign fighters in Iraq was North African.

Dr Agnes BingawahoIn a previous version of the article, we identified Dr. Agnes Binagwaho as the former Minister of Health of Rwanda. She is actually the current Rwandan Minister of Health; she was formerly the Permanent Secretary of Health. Dr. Binagwaho's name was also misspelled. We regret the errors.

Nearly 19 years ago, Rwanda was torn apart by a brutal genocide that killed more than one million people. Today, Rwanda is a peaceful country full of promise and hope. Along with efforts to rebuild the economic ruins of this once-failed state, government and health officials are tenaciously confronting nationwide health issues by implementing revolutionary strategies to provide sustainable health care to their citizens.

The progress is astounding. Life expectancy at birth was at only 25 years at the end of 1994, but had recovered to 50 in 2008. Meanwhile, infant mortality decreased from 129 to 62 deaths per 1,000 live births per year, and under-five mortality decreased from 219 to 103 between 1994 and 2007.

The Honorable Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Minister of Health in Rwanda, has been a prominent presence in these amazing developments. Prior to this role, she was the Permanent Secretary of Health in the Ministry of Health, the Executive Secretary of the National AIDS Control Commission, a member of the Expert Panel of the Country Coordinating Mechanism in Rwanda for the Global Fund, and a pediatrician by training.

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First LadiesThere is growing visibility on the global stage of the role of first lady—an intriguing position that has no job description, yet has enormous potential to champion important causes and motivate change.

For example, first ladies of Africa are often called the “mamas” of their country. They occupy a unique position in their society and they recognize the opportunity—and challenge—they have to use their platform to help improve the lives of people in their country.

Despite this increased visibility, the role of first lady is often misunderstood and underestimated. In Africa, first ladies are particularly scrutinized. Speculation about shopping sprees undermines their valuable work and distorts the path these women work hard to forge.

Through our respective work in various international development programs as well as first-hand experience with a number of African first ladies, we knew these women were champions for change both individually and as a collective force.

U.S. soldier trains Malian soldiersThe current crisis in Mali came largely as a shock to the international community. Yet, with the conflict having gone from local insurgency to full scale war and back, plenty of analyses have begun to formulate an early consensus among analysts: the conflict, it is argued, is a direct result of the 2011 civil war in Libya and NATO's intervention there. Mali, furthermore, is often seem as evidence that the Sahel is emerging as the new front-line in the war on terror and that the United States' counter-terrorism programmes do not work as envisioned, while civil-military relations in Western Africa are still in desperate need of overhaul. But does this early consensus adequately reflect the conflict and its causes?

Mali TauregsThis report synthesizes a 48-hour crowdsourced brainstorming exercise in which more than 40 analysts from around the world collaboratively explored how the ongoing military/political situation in Mali will evolve over the coming year. Compiled by Pascale Siegel; edited by Steve Keller.

Mali has recently been brought to the forefront of global attention due to the Islamist takeover of country’s northern half. In a bid to reverse that takeover, France–the former colonial power in West Africa–has launched an air and ground operation with the support of ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), the primary political and economic bloc in the region.

As international involvement expands, questions have arisen as to what the future holds for Mali. To answer that question, Wikistrat ran a speed-simulation from January 23rd to 25th to examine the future of Mali after the French intervention: Our analysts projected various scenarios for escalation and de-escalation of the conflict.

This report is a summary of their findings.

Doing Business in AfricaAfrica policy in the first Obama Administration was the brightest missed opportunity of the four years. The Administration carried on the Bush Africa programs—PEPFAR and the Millennium Challenge Corporation—but new, innovative approaches that drive development in Africa and enhance U.S. companies' competitiveness were lacking. The "whole of government" approach of Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative resulted in endless interagency meetings and programmatic inertia. While the Chinese continued to roll out high-level, high-visibility, and heavily-funded engagement initiatives, Africa remained the neglected step-child of the U.S. foreign policy front, despite being home to six of the world's fastest growing economies.

Understandably, the financial crisis, the cascading Arab Spring and the Iranian nuclear conundrum commanded serious time and attention. These issues will continue to dominate the policy agenda in Obama's second term. However, much can be achieved in U.S.-Africa policy with a relatively low-cost sustained effort.

African Union HeadquartersJune 20, 2006, was an important day for Angola. Amid the diplomatic pomp and handshakes of an official visit, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao opened the Luanda General Hospital and had his picture taken peering into a microscope, while surrounded by officials in suits and medics in white smocks. The General Hospital, a sprawling eighty-thousand square meter complex, was constructed with Chinese funds and meant to symbolize the growing partnership between Beijing and Angola, a gesture replicated across the African continent in countless roads, bridges, and other infrastructure projects funded by Chinese investments. Premier Wen stayed only 24 hours but the hospital remained—a physical reminder of Sino-African trust and cooperation.

Four years later the hospital was in imminent danger of collapse. Deep cracks ran through its walls; bricks crumbled under the structure’s weight. Personnel and 150 patients were evacuated, some forced to relocate into tents on the hospital grounds. Beijing dispatched an investigatory team, and their findings concluded that faulty Angolan surveys resulted in flawed Chinese designs. This diagnosis that has come to symbolize the greater Sino-African relationship: great ambitions built on uncertain ground.

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