Alex Vines

Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados por el autor desde el 1 de enero de 2008. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.

Kenneth Kaunda at a Commonwealth Summit as Zambian president. After the former British colony gained its independence in 1964, Kaunda was elected president, a position he held until 1991. Photo by Peter Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images.

During his 9,860 days in office from 1964, Kenneth Kaunda fought for majority rule of his neighbours, hosting the headquarters of the ANC and SWAPO in Lusaka and after losing elections in 1991 he left office graciously and became a campaigner for HIV and youth engagement.

In 1960 Kaunda took over the leadership of the United National Independence party (UNIP) and it swept to victory in the independence election of 1964, ending Zambia’s legal status as a British protectorate. Almost immediately, Kaunda was confronted by the white Rhodesian rebels’ unilateral declaration of independence on 11 November 1965.

Independent Zambia became a one-party state under Kaunda (widely known as KK), who banned all political parties except UNIP in 1972.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) will hold a two-day extraordinary Troika Summit in Maputo on 8-9 April to deliberate on measures to address the armed militancy in northern Mozambique.

Countering the armed militants known locally as al-Shabab is an urgent regional and international priority following their attacks on Palma since 24 March and the devastation caused in deaths, displaced, and destruction and damage to property. The government recaptured the town on 5 April but it is too soon to assess the total death count in Palma, likely to be in the dozens with thousands newly-displaced.

Since 2017, some 2,500 have been killed and nearly 700,000 internally displaced by this insurgency, but the Palma attack is a new morbid watershed.…  Seguir leyendo »

A newspaper vendor on a deserted street in Lagos, Nigeria during the country's first COVID-19 lockdown. Photo by Adekunle Ajayi/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

The year 2020 will of course be remembered for the COVID-19 pandemic, but many African countries have handled the public health effects of the first wave well compared with neighbouring continents, with some 55,000 related deaths and two million recovered out of a population of just over one billion.

This can be credited to quick action and leadership by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and others, assisted by public support and a youthful population with about only three per cent aged over 65 and relatively few institutionalized homes for the elderly.

Climate, prior exposure to other coronavirus strains, and effective community health networks set up in response to contain previous epidemics such as Ebola also clearly played a role.…  Seguir leyendo »

Chinese president Xi Jinping walks past a guard of honour at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, during the start of an official tour to South Africa in 2015. Photo by KAREL PRINSLOO/AFP via Getty Images.

Africa is experiencing its first continent-wide recession in 25 years due to the impact of the COVID-19, but many southern African states were already in economic distress prior to the pandemic – with Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe partly because of unsustainable debt burdens they owe to China.

The COVID-19 crisis propelled African debt – and repayment and forgiveness – to the top of the international agenda once again, although this time much of the debt is bilateral, non-concessionary, or commercial in origin.

In April, the World Bank’s Development Committee and G20 finance ministers endorsed the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) which includes 40 African Least Developed Countries (LDCs).…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian president Vladimir Putin with African leaders at the 2019 Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum in Sochi, Russia. Photo by SERGEI CHIRIKOV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

Europe's preparation for the European Union–African Union Summit in 2021 needs to succesfully provide a coherent African policy on security, immigration and climate change that goes beyond trade and provides, at the very least, an opportunity for dialogue with the Russian Federation, which is also re-engaging in Africa.

The first Russia-Africa summit in Sochi in October 2019 was co-chaired by the Russian president Vladimir Putin and the Egyptian president and African Union chairman Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. It also attracted 43 heads of state or government and more than 6,000 participants and media representatives from Russia and 104 foreign countries and territories.

Resulting from the Sochi summit is the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum, which is tasked to prepare for the second Russia-Africa summit in 2022.…  Seguir leyendo »

Press conference in Kati after the military arrested Malian president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and he officially resigned. Photo by ANNIE RISEMBERG / AFP via Getty Images.

The coup in Mali is not a putsch by disgruntled soldiers in a distant land. It is an extended European neighbourhood and matters to Britain. The UK already has three Chinook helicopters deployed in country and 250 British troops are scheduled to take up UN peacekeeping duties in December in what could be the ministry of defence’s most dangerous deployment since Afghanistan.

This coup was not unexpected as it followed months of mass protests against alleged corruption, a worsening economy, disputed legislative election results and deteriorating security in this West African country. Mali’s military is struggling to stop the insurgents, some of them now also affiliated with the ISIL (ISIS) armed group, despite UN, EU, French and regional military support.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pictured is a Nigerian refugee living in the Awaradi settlement that houses some 9,000 displaced people fleeing violence from Boko Haram. Image: Getty Images.

The UK has been redeploying diplomatic, defence and development capabilities towards the Sahel since 2018 – a strategic pivot intended to deliver development impact, address long term security threats to UK interests and support alliances with international partners.

The Sahel is one of Africa’s poorest and most fragile regions and has witnessed an escalation in jihadist activity, illegal migration and trafficking since a security crisis erupted in Mali in 2012.

The crisis spread to Niger and Burkina Faso and may now spill over into Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal. With Nigeria also facing insurgency in the Lake Chad basin, all major regional security and economic anchors in the region are under threat including key UK partners.…  Seguir leyendo »

Macomia, Cabo Delgado, Northern Mozambique. Photo by EMIDIO JOSINE/AFP via Getty Images.

On March 23 to 24, the centre of Mocimboa da Praia in Cabo Delgado province was occupied by up to 40 “jihadists”, who targeted government facilities, including a barracks, and brandished banners of affiliation to the so-called Islamic State.

On March 25, suspected jihadists raided the town of Quissanga and destroyed the district police headquarters. They too carried an Islamic State flag. Twenty to 30 members of Mozambique’s security forces were killed in both attacks.

Mocimboa da Praia is just south of the Afungi Peninsula, the location of gas projects worth $60- billion. Mocimboa was briefly occupied in late 2017, during attacks claimed by a group known as Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama (or al-Sunnah) that marked the start of a brutal low-intensity conflict, with widespread human rights abuses and attacks on civilians.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man holds a portrait of Robert Mugabe during his official funeral ceremony. Photo: Getty Images.

Africa’s dinosaur leaders are members of an increasingly small and unstable club. Popular protests last year forced Algeria’s president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, out of office after almost 20 years in power, as well as Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, who ruled for 30 years. In 2017, Robert Mugabe was deposed in a military coup (although this was denied) after 40 years.
And in 2011, mass protests led to the downfall of Tunisia’s president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, after he had been in power for 23 years.

Somewhat smoother are the political transitions in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). José Eduardo dos Santos, after almost 38 years in power, stepped down from office in 2017 as his term ended.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sales of papal-pictured capulanas have been brisk. Photo: Chatham House.

Pope Francis’ visit to Mozambique on 4–6 September comes at a critical political moment. The theme for the papal Africa trip (which also includes Madagascar and Mauritius) is ‘pilgrim of hope, peace and reconciliation’. This is especially relevant for Mozambique, as this is the first week of the official campaign for Mozambique’s sixth national elections on 15 October.

It is also the one-month anniversary of the Maputo Accords for Peace and Reconciliation between the government and the armed opposition, RENAMO (and the fifth anniversary of the previous such agreement in 2014).

What is unusual is that the pope accepted to visit Mozambique just after a peace accord and in the run-up to national elections.…  Seguir leyendo »

Xi Jinping at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing in September 2018. Photo: Getty Images.

There is no doubt that 2019 will see a quickening of renewed international competition in Africa. China is now Africa’s leading trading partner and India, Russia and others are increasing their involvement, whereas the European Union is treading water and the United States is falling behind.

A key development in 2018 was Russia’s re-entry into Africa. In 2019 the first Russia-Africa summit will add to an already lengthy list of summits. Russia has, for several years, been quietly investing in Soviet-era partnerships and forging new alliances by offering security, arms training and electioneering services in exchange for mining rights and other opportunities.…  Seguir leyendo »

Theresa May visits a school in Cape Town on 28 August as she begins her visit to South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. Photo: Getty Images.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s trip to South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya this week is an important signal of renewed British political and economic interest in Africa.

It was long overdue: a British prime minister has not visited Africa since 2013, and there has been a comparative decline in the UK’s visibility in many parts of the continent over the last decade, just as many other states, including France, Turkey, China and Japan, have been upgrading their Africa engagement. A planned trip by David Cameron was cancelled in 2016 with just five days’ notice because of the Brexit referendum and its results.…  Seguir leyendo »

Zimbabwe’s 2018 elections will be closely watched after the removal of Robert Mugabe last year. Photo: Getty Images.

Last year was a year of leadership changes and unprecedented events in a number of sub-Saharan African countries — several that were not predicted for that year.

Regional leaders from the Economic Community of West African States ensured that President Yahya Jammeh obeyed the will of the Gambian people to end his 22-year reign. President Robert Mugabe was forced from office, the only leader independent Zimbabwe has known in its 37 years.

In Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos, also president for 37 years, ended his own tenure, enabling a smooth transition. Somalia’s Mohamed Abdullahi 'Farmaajo' Mohamed defeated his more established rivals to win the February presidential election, and the Kenyan supreme court made history by declaring the result of the August election void.…  Seguir leyendo »

Robert Mugabe is sworn in for another term in 2008. Photo: Getty Images.

The end of the Mugabe presidency in Zimbabwe – with the swearing in of Emmerson Mnangagwa in Harare on Friday – is being watched closely across Africa, and especially by its long-standing leaders.

Currently, 30 per cent of African countries are ruled by long-standing rulers, defined as heads of state that have ruled for more than 10 years. Africa is not unique in this respect (Central Asia also has its share of ageing leaders), but Africa has a long tradition, and about a fifth of all African heads of state since independence can be classified as long-standing.

A recent study, African Futures: Horizon 2025, by the European Union Institute of Security Studies (and which this writer contributed to), shows that long-standing rulers in Africa are reducing in number.…  Seguir leyendo »

Xi Jinping arrives to a guard of honour in Harare in 2015. Photo: Getty Images.

The news that General Constantino Chiwenga had visited China only a few days before the military takeover in Zimbabwe was a coincidence that did not go unnoticed. There was also speculation after China said it was closely watching developments, but stopped short of condemning President Robert Mugabe's apparent removal from power.

China is Zimbabwe's fourth-largest trading partner and its largest source of investment - with stakes worth many billions of pounds in everything from agriculture to construction. Zimbabwe is the dependent partner - with China providing the largest market for its exports and much needed support to its fragile economy.

China's relations with Zimbabwe are deep, starting during the Rhodesian Bush War.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi. Photo: Getty Images.

Frelimo, Mozambique’s party of government, completed its 11th Congress in Matola on 1 October, unanimously endorsing the current president, Filipe Nyusi, as president of the party and its de-facto presidential candidate in the 2019 elections. Nyusi has consolidated his power within the party through new appointments of allies to its political commission, and has weakened the influence of his predecessor, Armando Guebuza.

But outside of the party, Nyusi faces a growing political and economic challenges – and, as revealed over the past few days, the widening threat of armed violence.

The spectre of violence

On 5 October, a group of about 30 men attacked three police stations in Mocimboa da Praia in Cabo Delgado province.…  Seguir leyendo »

Africa is overwhelmingly young – and getting younger. The coming ‘youth bulge’ is set to more than double the continent’s population from 1.2 billion today to around 2.5 billion by 2050. These new generations could be a huge asset in driving development. But they also represent a latent threat to the continent’s stability – particularly if they don’t have access to jobs. Here, Africa’s prospects are more concerning. Its GDP growth per capita is under half that of South Asian economies, with over double the proportion of unemployed.

But growth on its own is not enough. Business, especially good business, will not flourish under poor governance.…  Seguir leyendo »

An oil and gas drilling rig operating in Angola comes to Walvis Bay, Namibia for maintenance. Photo: Getty Images.

An era is ending in Angola, as one of Africa's longest-serving leaders, President José Eduardo dos Santos, steps down after 37 years in power. What happens next is significant not only to Angola, but to Africa and the world, particularly those dependent on Angola’s vast oil reserves.

Angola’s international strategic importance is built upon oil. Many international oil companies operate in Angola, including U.S. supermajors Exxon and Chevron. Due to US shale oil and gas production, there has been a sharp decline in American demand for Angola’s oil and Luanda, Angola’s capital, is increasingly reliant on Beijing and other Asian partners as markets.…  Seguir leyendo »

Angola increasingly assesses that an indefinite delay to elections in Congo by Preisdent Joseph Kabila will be detrimental for long-term stability. Photo: Getty Images.

After its August parliamentary elections, a new president will lead Angola for the first time since 1979. This is a watershed moment – change is very likely, including more focus on diversification of the economy and less presidential dominance in decision-making. There will also have to be some rethinking of foreign policy – most notably on Angola’s relationship with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

What happens in the DRC is a major, longstanding strategic concern for Angola – and Luanda invests more deeply in strategic thinking on Congo than most of its neighbours. On the DRC, Angola is an essential stakeholder and special envoys on Congo and the Great Lakes region, opposition politicians and Congolese officials regularly visit Luanda.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cuban President Fidel Castro says goodbye to Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos in Havana on 19 December 1988. Photo by Getty Images.

'Fidel is a friend, a comrade. He is an unforgettable figure to us. His memory will be always remembered in Angola,' said the country’s vice president Manuel Vicente after signing the condolence book dedicated to Fidel Castro at the residency of the Cuban ambassador to Angola.

There is no doubt that one of the greatest foreign influences on modern Angola was Cuba’s socialist policy of internationalist solidarity'. This took the form of sending troops and aid workers to Angola in support of the country’s Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) government from 1975, as it waged a conflict against apartheid-era South Africa and CIA-backed nationalist forces (also supported by then-Zaire, now Democratic Republic of Congo).…  Seguir leyendo »