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Analysis and Comment (63)

Second-hand news. Second-hand news. Ahmed Jallanzo/EPA

WHO Ebola ethics panel excluded those most affected

The World Health Organisation has been in a rush to deal with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Last week it declared it an international health emergency, and after two infected US doctors were given…
All dressed up, somewhere to go. A FAFA fashion show in Nairobi. All dressed up, somewhere to go. A FAFA fashion show in Nairobi. Daniel Irungu/EPA

Africa’s go-getting cities offer an entrepreneurial launchpad

Ask ten people what they think about Africa’s rising cities and you get ten different opinions. The only thing they will agree on is that traffic is awful. In truth, 52 cities with more than a million…
Is the sun setting on West African oil? A platform in Limbe, Cameroon. Is the sun setting on West African oil? A platform in Limbe, Cameroon. VirginieVV

US fracking boom puts West African oil economies at risk

After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the US made a point of diversifying its sources of oil to reduce dependence on the Middle East. It was a strategic move which promised a huge boost to West African…
The last African games bid from Abuja fell short in Sri Lanka in 2007. The last African games bid from Abuja fell short in Sri Lanka in 2007. EPA

It is time to let Africa host the Commonwealth Games

With the end of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, it is tempting to suggest that its success might just have saved the event. Certainly what has not been in question is that its future has been in doubt…
Ebola travels by bat, on the wing. Ebola travels by bat, on the wing. yotut

Fruit bats could help predict Ebola outbreaks

Pictures of masked and gowned healthcare workers have become recurrent images as the Ebola virus continues to spread in West Africa. It is the largest Ebola virus outbreak ever recorded, and the death…
Authorities are rapidly trying to stop the spread of Ebola. Authorities are rapidly trying to stop the spread of Ebola. Ahmed Jallanzo/EPA

How Ebola could head out of Africa – a tale of two travellers

It is 6am on a warm West African morning. Two men, Ahmed and Milton, are up early, getting ready for long journeys. Apart from that they have little in common. Ahmed is a high-ranking official in the Ministry…
French soldiers guard the crash site of Air Algerie flight AH5017 near Goss in Mali. French soldiers guard the crash site of Air Algerie flight AH5017 near Goss in Mali. STR/EPA

As France mourns plane crash victims, Hollande consolidates military might in Africa

The wreckage of AH 5017 lies scattered in the Sahel near the border between Mali and Burkina Faso. As the black boxes of the Air Algérie flight head for France and Paris mediates the aftermath, the crash…
A South Korean destroyer deploys to Somali waters to tackle piracy there. A South Korean destroyer deploys to Somali waters to tackle piracy there. EPA/Yonhap

Why fighting pirates in African waters is crucial to our security

When we sip our morning coffee or snack on a piece of chocolate, we hardly think about how these products came to us. The answer is: they were transported by sea. In fact, pretty much all the goods we…
If you would like to see a large number of desperately poor people enjoy the joy of a World Cup victory, you should cheer for Nigeria. If you would like to see a large number of desperately poor people enjoy the joy of a World Cup victory, you should cheer for Nigeria. EPA/Rungroj Yongrit

Stuck for a World Cup team? Shoot for the happiness dividend

Let’s be realistic. Australia is the lowest ranked of the 32 teams in the World Cup, and despite a very creditable performance in its first match against Chile, its chances of making it out of the group…
The swollen Fitzroy River in Queensland, Australia, where heavy rains in early 2011 led to extraordinary regrowth with a global impact. The swollen Fitzroy River in Queensland, Australia, where heavy rains in early 2011 led to extraordinary regrowth with a global impact. Capt. W. M. & Tatters/Flickr

Record rains made Australia a giant green global carbon sink

Record-breaking rains triggered so much new growth across Australia that the continent turned into a giant green carbon sink to rival tropical rainforests including the Amazon, our new research shows…
Is anyone really listening? Is anyone really listening? EPA/Dai Kurokawa

Boko Haram and the state of failure in Nigeria

Earlier this month, Nigeria marked a most unwelcome anniversary; a year of special measures in the three northern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. Located in the north east corner of the country, snug…
Boko Haram’s recent kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Africa’s slavery crisis. Boko Haram’s recent kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Africa’s slavery crisis. EPA/Ruth McDowall

Behind the Boko Haram headlines, slavery in Africa is the real crisis

The mass kidnapping of schoolgirls by terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria is neither a new nor rare occurrence, though this does not make it any less shocking. Boko Haram has been active in Nigeria for…
The largest language promotion project the world has ever seen? The largest language promotion project the world has ever seen? Chinese teacher/Shutterstock

Why China wants African students to learn Mandarin

While China’s dramatic economic and trade impact on Africa has caught global attention, there has little focus on its role in education. But there are important questions raised by China’s education push…
The more the west recognises and protects gay rights, the more African and Asian nations (such as Uganda and India) seem determined to go in the opposite direction. The more the west recognises and protects gay rights, the more African and Asian nations (such as Uganda and India) seem determined to go in the opposite direction. AAP

Should the west be held accountable for gay persecution?

Media coverage of gays and lesbians in 2014 has followed a very different trend to previous years. Rather than good news stories about love and weddings, the majority of reports relate to violence, persecution…
Zimbabweans wait to vote in last year’s referendum that approved a new constitution providing for gender equality in political representation. Zimbabweans wait to vote in last year’s referendum that approved a new constitution providing for gender equality in political representation. EPA/Aaron Ufumeli

Women keep democracy’s heart beating in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe

Democracy in Zimbabwe is a troubled creature. Yet Zimbabwean women are leading the way with a democratic agenda that offers inspiration, instruction and, indeed, a critique for Australian democracy. Oxfam’s…
Africa has a youthful population, but so far it has been underutilised in the workforce. Africa has a youthful population, but so far it has been underutilised in the workforce. Charles Okumu

Africa’s youth can inoculate it from Dutch disease

Africa is the last frontier of a plundered planet, as argued by Oxford economist and Africa expert Paul Collier. When compared with almost all other regions of the world that have already been explored…
Adding up the costs of a free education. Adding up the costs of a free education. Greg Westfall

Free education in Kenya is a failed promise

During the run up to Kenya’s 2002 general elections, presidential candidate Mwai Kibaki promised to make primary education free for all Kenyans. True to his word, when his coalition won the election and…
“Homos” in Uganda might be “male lesbians” in Nigeria – or not. “Homos” in Uganda might be “male lesbians” in Nigeria – or not. AP

Sex in Africa is more diverse than gay-or-straight

On 13 January the Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, signed a bill against gay relationships, outlawing gay marriage, public displays of same-sex relationships and membership in gay groups. A few days…
The world – including Australia, home to a large South Sudanese diaspora – is watching the spiralling violence and humanitarian crisis in the country with concern, worry and dread. The world – including Australia, home to a large South Sudanese diaspora – is watching the spiralling violence and humanitarian crisis in the country with concern, worry and dread. EPA/George Mindruta

Peace efforts in South Sudan: could Australia play a bigger role?

The recent civil conflict in South Sudan, which has led to the deaths and injury of thousands of people, rising tension between tribal groups and political instability, might at first instance appear far…
It seems that South Sudan is falling apart amidst political conflict, but what is actually behind the violence? It seems that South Sudan is falling apart amidst political conflict, but what is actually behind the violence? EPA/Phillip Dill

Explainer: what is going on in South Sudan?

Over the past few weeks, crisis has gripped the world’s newest nation, South Sudan, after an internal political conflict spilled into violence which has left thousands dead. So far, there have been reports…
Peacekeeping in South Sudan means grappling with deep ethnic divisions. Peacekeeping in South Sudan means grappling with deep ethnic divisions. Ben Curtis/AP

Militarised politics is the norm in troubled South Sudan

Against a backdrop of continuing ethnic violence, delegations from South Sudan’s warring factions have arrived in Ethiopia to try to negotiate a settlement to the crisis that has riven Africa’s newest…
Former South African president Nelson Mandela has died, but it will take the nation he united - South Africa - some time to come to terms with his passing. Former South African president Nelson Mandela has died, but it will take the nation he united - South Africa - some time to come to terms with his passing. EPA/Kim Ludbrook

Nelson Mandela dies: man who reinvented South Africa as a ‘rainbow nation’

Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa, has died at the age of 95. The fears of South Africa, the nation that once was deeply divided in its perceptions of Mandela, have now been realised…
A former child soldier following his rescue from the LRA. A former child soldier following his rescue from the LRA. Inmediahk

Joseph Kony peace talks may be just another tactic

The government of the Central African Republic claims to be in talks with one of the world’s most enigmatic African guerrilla leaders, Joseph Kony. But Kony has entered talks before with no intention of…
Elephant ivory seized from poachers in Garamba. Elephant ivory seized from poachers in Garamba. Flickr: ENOUGH Project

The Ivory War: militarised tactics won’t work

Elephant and rhino poaching in Africa have been rising; the Western black rhino has just been declared extinct. Demand in Asia, particularly China, for these animals' tusks and horns has been identified…
Royal interest in tigers has cut both ways through the years. Royal interest in tigers has cut both ways through the years. S. Taheri

Tigers, elephants ask: what have royals ever done for us?

On the face of it the British royal family’s commitment to wildlife conservation is unmistakable. Perhaps the most well-known work is that of Prince Charles, who in May co-hosted a meeting on illegal wildlife…
Not so dumb-o. Not so dumb-o. Anna Smet

Elephants get the point when it comes to making gestures

As humans, we point all the time. It’s an action we do almost without thinking: even one-year-old infants use pointing and understand what pointing means when an adult does it for them. It’s a really simple…
President Jacob Zuma’s party remains the dominant force in South Africa despite a number of political and social changes. President Jacob Zuma’s party remains the dominant force in South Africa despite a number of political and social changes. EPA/Kim Ludbrook

South Africa: what does the future hold for the ‘rainbow nation’?

As part of my work for the University of Sydney and the Australian government, I’ve visited South Africa seven times since retiring from politics in 2006. Each time something new has happened, and what…
A couple of these and a nice chianti. A couple of these and a nice chianti. Severin Tchibozo

Insects are key for food security in a growing world

Protein is a shrinking part of the diets of humans and animals. The deficiency is spreading rapidly across the world, but is particularly pronounced in Africa, even though many sources of protein can be…
Out of the lab and into real life. Out of the lab and into real life. Mike Blyth

Africa should test smartphone microscope in the field

As a virologist working in the Gambia, the idea of a portable microscope that uses fluorescent imaging and can be attached to your smartphone to detect viruses and bacteria in the field sounds amazing…
An international team of forensic scientists from all disciplines is investigating Kenya’s mall attack. An international team of forensic scientists from all disciplines is investigating Kenya’s mall attack. EPA/Dai Kurokawa

Can forensic science unravel the chaos of Westgate mall?

The entire world witnessed last month’s horrifying terrorist attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Now forensic experts from Interpol, US, UK, Germany, and Canada have joined Kenyan law enforcement…
The deadly attack on a Nairobi shopping mall demonstrates that a lack of security in Somalia has a direct impact on Kenya. The deadly attack on a Nairobi shopping mall demonstrates that a lack of security in Somalia has a direct impact on Kenya. EPA/Kabir Dhanji

Kenya mall attacks: Somalia’s anarchy spreads

The Somali-based Islamic militant group Al-Shabaab’s weekend attack on the upscale Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi - which has left at least 60 people dead - poses a significant security threat not just…
Amid the chaos, a survivor is carried out of Westgate Mall. Amid the chaos, a survivor is carried out of Westgate Mall. EPA/Kabir Dhanji

Terror in Kenya: literature and laughs turn into pain and loss

At 9.30am on Saturday I drove past the Westgate Mall on my way to the National Museums of Kenya. I needed a coffee after a late night, and contemplated stopping but for no particular reason I drove on…
An innovative approach to mobility in Uganda. An innovative approach to mobility in Uganda. The Advocacy Project

Disabled people in Africa have been marginalised for too long

Disabled people are severely marginalised and among the poorest in developing countries. Having a disability increases the risk of poverty, and being poor also increases the risk of getting a disability…
Accused: Kenya’s deputy president William Ruto in the dock at the ICC this week. Accused: Kenya’s deputy president William Ruto in the dock at the ICC this week. ICC-CPI

International Criminal Court is not just for hunting Africans

The first of what are arguably the two most important trials in the short history of the International Criminal Court (ICC) have begun. Kenya’s deputy president, William Ruto, stood in the dock this week…
An expanding sea of junk in Lagos. An expanding sea of junk in Lagos. Margaret Bates

Europe’s electronic waste has become Africa’s burden

The disposal of computers and other electronic and electrical goods, e-waste, is a growing global problem. In 2011, the world threw away 41.5m tonnes of electrical equipment, and this is expected to rise…
Neither laws nor guns are stopping the poachers. Neither laws nor guns are stopping the poachers. Grø Åmert/Flickr

Misguided ‘war on poaching’ will not save the wild beasts

Rhinos, elephants and the big cats like lions and tigers are all at risk of extinction as a result of a resurgence in the illegal trade of their body parts. Newspapers in recent days have been filled with…
Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta is currently facing crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court. Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta is currently facing crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court. EPA/Daniel Irungu

Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta and politicising the International Criminal Court

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto are currently facing crimes against humanity charges at the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC). The charges result from the post-election…
Maasai herders have made life harder for Tanzanian wildlife, but that doesn’t mean one of them has to go. Maasai herders have made life harder for Tanzanian wildlife, but that doesn’t mean one of them has to go. mar is sea Y/Flickr

Maasai versus wildlife: it’s an unnecessary choice

Tanzanian government plans to exclude Maasai from some traditional pastoral lands in the name of wildlife conservation have met with protest and global media attention. This is certainly not the first…
A US$5 million bounty has been offered for information leading to Joseph Kony (right)’s arrest, but the African Union has stopped looking for him. A US$5 million bounty has been offered for information leading to Joseph Kony (right)’s arrest, but the African Union has stopped looking for him. EPA/STR

The hunt may be off, but a $5 million pledge might bring Kony to justice

Earlier this week, the new US Secretary of State, John Kerry, announced a US$5 million reward for information leading to the arrest, transfer and conviction of notorious African warlord Joseph Kony. On…
Malian troops patrol the town of Diabaly in the country’s north. Malian troops patrol the town of Diabaly in the country’s north. AAP/Nic Bothma

Military intervention can be a cure worse than the disease

The new year is scarcely a month old. Yet we have seen enough to know that the fires raging in different parts of the Middle East and North Africa will not easily abate – and that the firefighting efforts…
Will history look kindly on the French intervention in Mali? Will history look kindly on the French intervention in Mali? EPA/Arnaud Roine

From Rwanda to Mali: France’s chequered history in Africa

Why the French intervention in Mali? Last week, French daily Le Monde asked this question of André Bourgeot, specialist on Sub-Saharan Africa with France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS…
French soldiers gather on the tarmac of the military airbase in Bamako, Mali. French soldiers gather on the tarmac of the military airbase in Bamako, Mali. EPA/Arnaud Roine/ECPAD

French intervention won’t fix the mess in Mali

The French government has announced it will triple its troop deployment to the conflict-plagued state of Mali. On Monday, France’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gerard Araud, explained that France…
Toilets aren’t just a bin for human waste - they’re a receptacle for future fertiliser. Toilets aren’t just a bin for human waste - they’re a receptacle for future fertiliser. Gates Foundation

The other benefit of sanitation: from human waste to human food

What goes down our toilet is commonly viewed as waste. This makes intuitive sense because separating people from their excreta - sanitation - is arguably the single most important public health objective…
Survivors of Namibia’s Herero tribe surrendering after a battle with German forces. Survivors of Namibia’s Herero tribe surrendering after a battle with German forces. Ullstein Bilderdienst Berlin/Supplied

Move over Breaker Morant: the forgotten story of Edward Presgrave

More than a century ago, on 26 September 1905, in a remote and isolated part of German Southwest Africa (present day Namibia) a young Australian lay dying amid the sand dunes and salt pans. Lured across…
The administration of Barack Obama - seated here with South African President Jacob Zuma - has been criticised for not focusing more foreign policy attention on Africa. The administration of Barack Obama - seated here with South African President Jacob Zuma - has been criticised for not focusing more foreign policy attention on Africa. EPA/Olivier Douliery

Africa and the US presidential campaign

This year’s US presidential election has been notable for the lack of focus on foreign policy issues by either candidate. Certainly Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, has attempted to gain traction…
It’s the dawning of a new day for South Sudan, but there is much to be done. It’s the dawning of a new day for South Sudan, but there is much to be done. EPA/Paul Banks/Unmis

Happy birthday, South Sudan – your struggle isn’t over yet

When I arrived in South Sudan in November 2005, the scars of war were everywhere. Intermittent power came from generators, there was no clean drinking water, schools were little more than benches under…
Hosting part of the Square Kilometre Array is a victory for Africa, but much work is yet to be done. Hosting part of the Square Kilometre Array is a victory for Africa, but much work is yet to be done. EPA/SKATelescope.com

Astronomy for Africa – the SKA will lead to ‘brain gain’

On Friday, we learned that South Africa and Australia/New Zealand will jointly host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope, rather than the facility going to just one of the bids. The split-site…
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir addresses troops and supporters during a public appearance in April 2012. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir addresses troops and supporters during a public appearance in April 2012. EPA/str

Oil fuels the conflict between Sudan and South Sudan – and it keeps getting hotter

Khartoum has resumed its bombardment of South Sudan despite the passing of a UN Security Council Resolution calling for a ceasefire. With military action escalating over the past few days, the two nations…
The East African Rift holds evidence of a continent under strain. The East African Rift holds evidence of a continent under strain. dearanxiety/Flickr

Splitting Africa: what happens when a continent breaks apart?

Modern-day Africa was the keystone of Gondwana, the aggregated mass of southern continents that co-existed for nearly 400m years. That supercontinent has since split apart, creating the land masses we…
Nigeria’s troubles are fuelled by ethnic and religious tensions. Nigeria’s troubles are fuelled by ethnic and religious tensions. EPA/Stringer

Death, oil and religion: the origins of conflict in Nigeria run deep

The coming of the new year was not auspicious for Nigeria. Despite being rich in oil, the country is overwhelmed by corruption and violence. The north of the country has been torn apart by terrorist attacks…
A Green Climate Fund could help African livestock farmers. A Green Climate Fund could help African livestock farmers. International Livestock Research Institute

Planning the Green Climate Fund so it works for African farmers

DURBAN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: With a backdrop of global financial woes and the European Union’s debt crisis, the Conference of the Parties at Durban convened with lower expectations but high stakes…
Genetic estimates of the age of the common ancestor of non-African humans may be wrong. Genetic estimates of the age of the common ancestor of non-African humans may be wrong. bruncosta

Out of Africa, only to die … new clues on early human migration

How and when did humans colonise the globe? This question has become one of the key concerns of archaeologists, geneticists and human biologists. And now the latest archaeological discovery in Oman in…
Increasing population and climate change will make it even harder for the world to feed itself. Increasing population and climate change will make it even harder for the world to feed itself. Gates Foundation

Feeding Africa: Australian knowledge helps meet a continent’s climate change challenges

The world’s population has just hit seven billion and nearly one billion people do not get enough to eat. Agricultural land is being degraded at the rate of 12 million hectares a year and the world faces…
First step: address under-investment in agricultural research and development. First step: address under-investment in agricultural research and development. AAP

How can CHOGM start a Green Revolution in Sub-Saharan Africa?

CHOGM: As the leaders of Commonwealth nations meet in Perth, The Conversation is examining the role of the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) Meeting. Daniel Rodriguez from the University…
Filling bellies is about far more than just supply and demand. Filling bellies is about far more than just supply and demand. hypertornado

Food security should be about feeding the hungry, not making a profit

We need to stop thinking about food security as an economic problem. Food security is largely discussed in terms of increasing demand pressures and worsening constraints on supply. These discussions miss…
The humanitarian crisis in the Horn continues to escalate. The humanitarian crisis in the Horn continues to escalate. EPA/DAI KUROKAWA

From fear to famine: the politics of hunger in the Horn of Africa

While droughts are caused by weather – the failure of the rains – famines are invariably political. The current famine in southern Somalia should have come as no surprise. Aid agencies have been warning…

Research and News (2)

Expert reactions to Gaddafi’s killing

Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year-rule of Libya has come to an violent end in a manner reminiscent of the dispatch of Fascist Italy’s…