South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2021. (Source: GovernmentZA/Flickr)

When the Washington Post and 16 other media outlets published the findings of their Pegasus Project investigation last week, the results were shocking: thousands of activists, journalists, lawyers and opposition political figures were targeted by authoritarian governments using spyware technology. The software, Pegasus, can be installed covertly on Apple and Android devices and is capable of extracting text messages, emails and photos, recording calls and activating microphones.

The spyware’s developer, an Israeli company called NSO Group, says its technology is intended only for tracking criminals and terrorists. Nonetheless, the Pegasus Project found a list of over 50,000 phone numbers identified…


Mozambican soldiers participate in a US-led training exercise in Pemba in 2019. (Source: US Navy/Flickr)

On June 23, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) agreed to deploy troops to Mozambique to combat the growing jihadist insurgency in the country’s northern province of Cabo Delgado. The decision came after months of deliberation and disagreement among the bloc’s 16 members — and four years after the conflict, which has killed 3,000 people and displaced over 750,000, began in 2017.

Last weekend, Rwanda threw its hat into the ring, announcing it had sent 1,000 troops to fight insurgents in northern Mozambique. The speedy approval of Rwanda’s intervention caused tension between SADC and Mozambique, which has delayed permission for…


A South Sudanese man at the independence celebrations in Juba in 2011. (Source: United Nations/Flickr)

On July 9, South Sudan marked ten years of independence but with little to celebrate. After a decade of self-rule, South Sudan faces extreme poverty, corruption, insecurity, a lack of development, and is rated among the world’s unhappiest countries. It did not have to be this way. At independence in 2011, South Sudan faced a myriad of challenges, including deep poverty and insecurity — but it also possessed abundant natural resources, including vast swathes of arable land and oil reserves estimated at 5 billion barrels. These assets, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon remarked at the 2011 independence ceremony, could transform…


South African President Jacob Zuma at the World Economic Forum on Africa in 2009. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

On 29 June, former President Jacob Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court by South Africa’s highest court. Zuma is the first South African leader to receive a prison sentence, and still faces more charges — 16 total, including fraud, graft and racketeering — related to a 1999 arms deal. Zuma’s legal challenges are nothing new — his first criminal charge was in 2005 for rape, while he was serving as vice president (he was ultimately aquitted). …


Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa in 2018. (Source: Government of Ethiopia/Flickr)

On June 21, Ethiopia held national elections in what will be a key test of democracy under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who entered office in 2018 and promised reform. In 2019, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in negotiating an end to Ethiopia’s decades-long conflict with neighboring Eritrea. But two years later, Abiy has had to campaign against a backdrop of internal conflict, emerging famine, rising ethnic violence and a regional dispute over Ethiopia’s Blue Nile dam project, all which have intensified under his leadership. …


President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Faustin-Archange Touadéra of the Central African Republic at the Russia-Africa Summit in 2019. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

On June 15, CNN published a report implicating Russian private military contractors in a wide range of human rights abuses in the Central African Republic. Dozens of victims and witnesses spoke of summary killings, rape and torture, and indiscriminate violence against civilians, including the burning of homes. These testimonies are supported by a confidential United Nations report, obtained by CNN, which stated that “FACA [the Central African military] and bilateral forces, especially Russians… may have committed war crimes, especially in executing civilians and other individuals who were not taking part in hostilities.”

While the conduct of Russian private contractors has…


President Muhammadu Buhari at a World Economic Forum meeting in Jordan in 2019. (Source: World Economic Forum)

On June 4, Nigeria announced it would indefinitely ban Twitter from operating in the country, with Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed accusing the social media company of being used for activities “capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.” The decision came two days after Twitter deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari that seemed to threaten violence against Biafran secessionists blamed for attacks against government targets in southeastern Nigeria. 40 million Nigerians use Twitter, and the country has one of the highest rates of internet usage in Africa.

The move sparked immediate outcry and resistance eight months after the…


Presidents Paul Kagame and Emmanuel Macron at a press conference in Paris, 23 May 2018. (Source: Government of Rwanda)

On May 27, President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged France’s role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. “I come to recognize the extent of our responsibilities,” he said, speaking at a memorial in Kigali. He asked for survivors’ forgiveness, while rejecting the idea that France held any direct culpability. “The killers who stalked the swamps, the hills, the churches, did not have the face of France. France was not an accomplice,” he said. Though he avoided apologizing explicitly, Macron’s statement marked a shift from France’s previous denial of its role in the genocide, and comes as part of a larger effort by the…


Africa-France Summit, Bamako, Mali, 14 January 2017. (Source: Government of Rwanda)

President Emmanuel Macron warned on Sunday that France would withdraw troops from Mali if Islamist influence continues to grow following the country’s recent coup — the second in nine months and the third in nine years. French soldiers first arrived in Mali in 2013 to help the government drive back militants who had taken control of vast portions of the country, including the ancient city of Timbuktu. France’s military presence has since expanded to 5,100 troops in five West African countries — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger — as part of an intervention dubbed Operation Barkhane. …


OAU Charter Conference, May 1963. Source: Derek Bishton)

What is Africa Day?

Formerly known as African Liberation Day or African Freedom Day, Africa Day began in 1963 to commemorate the establishment of the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) known today as the African Union (AU). Africa Day takes place annually on 25 May, the anniversary of the OAU’s formation when 30 African leaders of independent states joined together to sign the organization’s charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The charter outlined the OAU’s goal of Pan-Africanism highlighting “the inalienable right of all people to control their own destiny” and freedom, equality, justice and dignity as essential for the success…

Center for International Policy, Africa Program

The Center for International Policy Africa Program analyzes U.S. foreign policy toward the nations of Africa to promote greater positive U.S. engagement

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