From Episode #3: What we’re reading this week

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Original photo of Trump courtesy of Gage Skidmore/Flickr.

There is a New York Times article on questions from President Trump’s transition team about Africa. Apparently the list of questions was four pages long and included questions like:

With so much corruption in Africa, how much of our funding is stolen? Why should we spend these funds on Africa when we are suffering here in the U.S.?

There were also a couple of questions about the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR. For example:

Is PEPFAR worth the massive investment when there are so many security concerns in Africa? Is PEPFAR becoming a massive, international entitlement program?

While these are important questions to ask, there is a tone to the questions that is unsettling.

Georgetown political scientist Ken Opalo has a great post answering some of Team Trump’s questions on Africa. To the question on corruption:

Leaders do terrible things all the time for political reasons, and not because of an inherent failure in moral judgment. Learn to respect and trust your African counterparts. Know their interests. Don’t think and act like it is 1601.

There is a related post in The Monkey Cage this week that specifically aims to answer Team Trump’s questions about China in Africa. Did you know that in 2015 Chinese exports to Africa were almost quadruple US exports to Africa?

Kenya and Rwanda have banned poultry products from Uganda after a confirmed outbreak of H5N1, also known as bird flu. On the same day, Uganda played and lost to Ghana in the 7th match of AFCON. And so naturally these two events evolved into a Twitter war. Below we share a couple of highlights.

Representative of most insults, one on size:

Speculating why Uganda lost the AFCON match:

But at least they played?

From our favorite blog, Africa is a Country, Nicholas William Stephenson Smith discusses inequality in Africa. Increases in the Human Development Index in countries like Nigeria mask “a widening gulf between the haves and the have-nots.” Every country in Africa is less equal today than in 2010.  Smith draws links between the neoliberal policies imposed by lending institutions and the tendency towards capital-driven market economies in Africa.  

Talking about lending, it turns out that developing countries are “the net creditors of the world.” This is according to a recent piece in the Guardian, “Aid in reverse: how poor countries develop rich countries.” The author, LSE anthropologist Jason Hickel, references a joint study by US-based Global Financial Integrity and the Centre for Applied Research at the Norwegian School of Economics. The study estimates that for for every $1 of aid that developing countries receive, they lose $24 in net outflows. 

To complement listening to our conversation with Dr. Peter Alegi for this week’s episode, read his recent blog post that reviewed a new BBC radio documentary called Beyond the Pitch. His piece gives a great overview of the documentary, which travels across time and space to show how football and politics have intersected on the continent. If you want a longer read, check out Alegi’s book, African Soccerscapes.

Here are a few bonus links we found interesting but didn’t have time to share on the podcast:

  • Nanjala Nyabola has given us all some great information on how to get the most out of a 36-hour visit to Nairobi.
  • “It may be the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world.” That’s Refugees International writing about the arrival of 2,000 South Sudanese refugees into Uganda each day.
  • Do colonial laws hold African countries back? New research studying countries that were part of colonial French West Africa—Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo—suggests we should be skeptical of claims that Africa’s laws are unchanged since the colonial period.

Finally, if you need some inspiration to get you kick-started this week, find it here:


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