Fall 2017 Africa Program Newsletter
December 5, 2017Above: President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire discussed the country's future trajectory on November 8, 2017, at CSIS.
Spotlight on Côte d’Ivoire – and its New MCC Compact: The CSIS Africa Program welcomed the President of Côte d’Ivoire Alassane Ouattara for a Spotlight on Côte d’Ivoire event marking the signing of the country’s first Millennium Challenge Corporation compact. MCC CEO Jonathan Nash joined panelists in examining opportunities for expanded U.S. partnership with one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, as well as challenges ahead for the country, which emerged from political crisis just six years ago. The half-day conference was preceded by a private dinner that brought together the Ivorian delegation with five members of Congress, private sector representatives, and senior members of the U.S.-Africa policy community.
Raila Odinga made his first international public address after his boycott of the election on November 9, 2017, at CSIS.
Tracking Kenya’s Elections: The major news story in Africa throughout much of the fall was Kenya’s protracted election process, which included a Supreme Court annulment of the August polls and an October re-run that was boycotted by the opposition. In September, the Africa Program hosted a Spotlight on Kenya event, examining the implications of the annulment for the state of democracy, the country’s security situation, and Kenya’s economic and business outlook. Following the October re-run, opposition leader Raila Odinga chose CSIS as a forum for his first international public address. In a discussion moderated by former U.S. Ambassador to Kenya and Senior CSIS Africa Program Adviser Mark Bellamy, Odinga announced plans to establish a National Resistance Movement for a peaceful dialogue in Kenya.
Foreign Ministers of the G5 Sahel outlined their plans for a Joint Military Force on November 1, 2017, at CSIS.
Examining the New G5 Sahel Joint Force: The October ambush in Niger that killed four U.S. servicemen brought renewed attention to the proliferation of extremist groups in the Sahel. The Africa Program hosted four foreign ministers from the region, for a panel discussion on the newly established G5 Sahel joint military force, which has garnered $60 million in support from the United States. In a commentary co-authored with Boris Toucas of the CSIS Europe Program, Africa Program Director Jennifer Cooke and Research Associate Katrin Heger offer their take on how successful the G5 Sahel Joint Force might be in fighting terror and building regional security.
The Zimbabwe Coup: Robert Mugabe’s ouster after 37 years in power offers an opening for diplomatic engagement to help build a more democratic future. Will the U.S seize the opportunity? Jennifer Cooke answers Critical Questions on the events that led to Mugabe’s downfall and what U.S. interests are at stake in Zimbabwe.
Nana Ama Agyemang Asante explained the role of fake news in Ghana on November 30, 2017, at CSIS.
Fake News in Africa: Deliberate campaigns of political and social misinformation are not confined to the United States. In late November the Africa Program, together with Open Society Foundations, hosted a panel discussion on the phenomenon of fake news in Africa, with a focus on Kenya, South Africa, and Ghana. Panelists agreed that investigative journalism and a transparent and accountable media sector is among the most important bulwarks against the influence of fake news.
The DRC Coffee Sector: In a commentary, Richard Downie asks whether the once-thriving coffee sector in the DRC can be revived and help Congolese farmers improve their livelihoods. Analyzing challenges and opportunities, he concludes that success is contingent upon better market access, mentoring and training of farmers, and improved access to financing along the entire value chain.
Salafism in Eastern Africa: As part of its ongoing project on religion and the state, the Africa Program hosted a discussion on Salafism in Eastern Africa. Sebastian Elischer highlighted the varying roles states can play in managing religious groups with a comparative look at Kenya and Uganda. David Throup from Johns Hopkins University complemented Elischer’s institutional account of engaging Muslim communities with a historical perspective.
South Africa at a Crossroads: In light of the political crisis in South Africa, Ann Bernstein, executive director of the Centre for Development and Enterprise in South Africa, offered her perspective on prospects for change and the country’s need for broad-based, inclusive economic growth.
Congressional Staff Briefing: In cooperation with the recently launched Humanitarian Agenda at CSIS, the Africa Program in early November hosted a discussion with Mark Lowcock, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, and congressional staff dedicated to humanitarian issues. Participants were interested in hearing more about Lowcock’s plans on how to increase the efficiency of humanitarian aid and how to operate more effectively in complex environments.
German and EU perspectives on Africa: Georg Schmidt, Under-Secretary for Africa in the German Foreign Ministry, outlined Germany’s policy priorities for Africa in a private, off-the-record roundtable. In light of the European refugee crisis, Schmidt highlighted Germany’s approach to curbing the root causes of migration in Africa and the country’s Compact with Africa initiative.
Africa Program in the Media: In October, when the death of four Special Forces in Niger shone a spotlight on American military presence in Africa, Jennifer Cooke and Richard Downie spoke to the Media about the role of U.S. military forces in Africa. In an interview with Radio Times, Richard Downie explained that “You have to have diplomats on the ground. You have to have development workers on the ground. The face of the United States in Africa cannot be a soldier.” On NPR, Downie discussed what America’s military mission in Africa is, and in the CSIS podcast series, Jennifer Cooke talks to Colm Quinn about U.S. activities in Niger. Speaking with CNN, Jennifer Cooke said that the G-5 Regional Force “is not a panacea to the problems of the Sahel, but it is a first step toward addressing one of the central challenges, which is movement of arms and people and extremist groups across borders which has eluded these countries so far.” Commenting on U.S. drone strikes in Somalia on AFP, Jennifer Cooke pointed out that the relaxing the rules that constrain drone strikes against suspected terrorists, “can give major fuel to recruitment by (jihadist) groups," and that there must be a “counter-balance of a diplomatic strategy” to go with an expanding U.S. military footprint. Richard Downie was an early commentator on the crisis in Zimbabwe on CTV News Channel as the military coup was unfolding. In an interview with the BBC World Service Newshour, Jennifer Cooke discussed Zimbabwe’s economic and political relationship with China, which has been a lifeline for the Zimbabwean economy and for Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF. Senior Associate Alexander Noyes analyzed the events leading up to the Zimbabwe coup in an article for War on the Rocks. Inspecting the state of democracy in East Africa, Senior Associate Jon Temin argues in Foreign Affairs that the region “is in the midst of a democratic decline that is reversible in its early stages but threatens to gather momentum.”