News archive

To see a list of all news during a specific year: please see the right hand column


10 reasons to keep your eyes on Africa in 2019

Key topics. A trade deal in Kigali, a tarnished victory in Harare, and rocket-speed reforms in Addis made global headlines in 2018. But what’s on the plate for 2019? We list ten issues to keep track of in the year to come.

Award-winning Yearbook

Publications. Another milestone has been reached in the Africa Yearbook project, with volume 14 for 2017. The award-winning publication provides an annual overview for each country south of the Sahara.

Colonial structures persist within academia

Education. “Colonialist structures still shape education, starting from primary school,” says NAI researcher Henning Melber who took part in a roundtable discussion about the importance of the #RhodesMustFall movement and the continued decolonisation of the...

Freedoms under attack in East Africa

Human rights. There is democratic progress in many African countries, but we also see increasing threats against journalists, researchers and civil society. A panel at the Swedish Forum for Human Rights discussed the worrying signs of shrinking democratic space in...

Tax on imports to pay for African peacekeeping missions

Security. The African Union intends to increase its influence over conflict-handling in Africa by paying for a larger share of the peacekeeping costs. A proposal for funding from the AU reforms committee is to tax member states' imports from other continents.

Can Uganda use high fertility rates to tackle extreme poverty?

Poverty reduction. Rapid population growth is a concern for sub-Saharan countries battling extreme poverty. However, with the right focus on education, healthcare and economic transformation states such as Uganda could capitalise on the high fertility rates of the last...

Lack of transparency biggest security problem

Conflict. “When the government says there is a national security threat, the discussion is over”, says researcher Akinbode Fasakin, arguing that the Nigerian government uses Boko Haram and other security threats to reinforce its power over people.

Reforming the AU to fit its purpose

Agenda 2063. "There is a mismatch between our strategy and the procedures of the African Union" – Cristina Duarte in the AU reforms advisory committee.

Epidemic on Indian Ocean islands increases prejudice about Africa

Medical anthropology. Malaria was eradicated several decades ago on the islands of Mauritius and Réunion in the Indian Ocean. When the tropical disease chikungunya broke out, people and authorities were unprepared. The disease was labelled as "something African" that came...

Quotas not enough to create gender equality

Feminist peace research. Gender quotas serve a purpose, but they are not enough to break down stereotypical gender roles. Real gender equality requires political will to achieve a general change of attitude in society, according to Heidi Hudson, guest professor at the Nordic...

Global agreement changes limiting view on migration

NAD2018. Tens of thousands of refugees and migrants have died in the last few years, during attempts to reach Europe on boats over the Mediterranean or via unsafe overland routes. In December, 193 countries are expected to adopt The Global Compact for Safe...

Researcher: Signs of anglophone crisis were there 20 years ago

Cameroon election. As Cameroon prepared for a presidential election on 7 October, violence continued in the English-speaking Southwest and Northwest regions. In a prophetic article in 1999, Professor Francis Nyamnjoh described how the state system of divide and rule...

Broadening the migration debate

Voices from NAD2018. Researchers, experts, activists, journalists and policymakers – they all came to the Nordic Africa Days in Uppsala.

Citizenship as a learning process

Development. Civic education is key to ensuring a population participates in society. NAI guest researcher Ajali Nguyahambi looks into how development organisations contribute to the notion of citizenship among people in Tanzania.

Biggest NAD to date wraps up

NAD2018. The Nordic Africa Days 2018 closed on Friday, having welcomed 260 scholars from more than 40 countries to Uppsala. In the 33 panels, participants discussed perspectives on this year’s theme, African Mobilities – reshaping narratives and practices of...

Africanists gathering in Uppsala

NAD2018. This week, the Nordic Africa Institute welcomes nearly 300 Africanists from all over the world to the Nordic Africa Days, a three-day conference in Uppsala aimed at expanding the discourse on Africa. The 2018 theme is African Mobilities – reshaping...

Political science in Africa and its impact

New NAI-research. Finnish researcher Liisa Laakso starts work at the Nordic Africa Institute in January 2019. She will investigate how the study of political science in African universities impacts political transformations on the continent.

Adebajo on the role of two African giants

Regional politics. Africa's two dominant powers Nigeria and South Africa need to have a vision about regional integration in order to strengthen intra-African trade, says Prof Adekeye Adebajo in an interview about the roles of the two African giants.

Kah Walla - first of the key note speakers

Nordic Africa Days. Cameroonian politician, activist and entrepreneur Edith Kahbang Walla, popularly known as Kah Walla, will be the first of the key note speakers at the Nordic Africa Days in Uppsala 19 – 21 September.

What does sex mean to Maputo’s well-off?

Sexuality. In her work on attitudes towards sex and intimacy NAI guest researcher Sandra Manuel is studying Maputo’s upper middle-class. She made the conscious decision to focus on the well-off, contrasting the stereotype of Africa as the continent of the poor. ...

Military-backed Mnangagwa faces fragmented opposition

Zimbabwe elections. ‘Limited changes to reassure the donor community and attract foreign investors´ – that’s how NAI researcher Henning Melber views political reforms in Zimbabwe that have taken place since a military coup last year. The outcome of elections on 30 July...

Small stories make globalisation relatable

Mining. Historian Timo Särkkä teaches globalisation to students in Finland. He blends global competition for natural resources with small personal stories. A one-month stay as a guest researcher at the NAI library gave him more small stories from the copper...

Africa builds free trade zone – Nigeria still outside

AU summit. Of the 55 member-states of the African Union, 49 have signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), including South Africa, one of the continent's major economies, which waited for a long time before signing. Another economic giant...

The future of EU-Africa cooperation

Trade and development. There is concern that the Cotonou Agreement obstructs African governments from supporting domestic production, and that the EU is splitting Africa in two by striking separate deals with different African regions.

Borno Governor: A mistake to view Boko Haram as a local problem

Conflict. The Boko Haram terror group emerged from a situation of extreme poverty and social exclusion in northern Nigeria. Since then, it has spread across borders and must now be dealt with jointly by actors from across the Lake Chad region, according to...

Everyday corruption a necessary evil

Moral economy. Bribes are part of everyday life in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare. Many people are involved one way or another, yet all agree that corruption is morally reprehensible.

Unstable situation as Malians go to vote

Conflict. Should Mali hold elections despite a very unstable security situation? Research Professor Morten Bøås says the West African state is left with only bad options – not going ahead with the poll could lead to a dangerous political vacuum.

'Time to question binary legal systems'

Migration. Transgender people are routinely exposed and questioned simply because they fall outside of perceived male/female gender norms. For transgender asylum seekers, this exposure can be dangerous. NAI guest researcher B Camminga is looking into the...

Middle-class reproducing colonial system

Political development. “In Southern Africa we are seeing a middle-class that is reproducing the colonial systems of exploiting the natural resources”, said Moeletsi Mbeki, a well-known South African analyst, at a recent workshop in Stockholm.  

Transformations of rural spaces in Mozambique

Development. The last decades in Mozambique have been characterized by profound changes in the rural milieu. A NAI conference in Maputo brought together scholars and policy makers to discuss the topic.

Narrow income opportunities turn authors into activists

Literature. Erik Falk’s work at the Nordic Africa Institute revolves around literature in and from East Africa. He is looking at what kinds of books are published and how far they reach. The project aims to give an up to date picture of the status of East African...

Nkurunziza tightens the grip on power by democratic means

Politics. Voters in Burundi have in a referendum backed constitutional amendments that could allow president Nkurunziza to stay in office until 2034. Researchers see a trend of electoral authoritarianism in several countries in Africa.

Governance deficits and lacklustre conflict management

Southern Africa. SADC, the intergovernmental organisation for Southern Africa, is ineffective in meeting the region's peace and security challenges because many of its leaders are unwilling to enforce democratic principles.

Regional actors key players for peace

Peacebuilding. As researchers and policy analysts we need to support Africa’s regional economic organisations (RECs) in their expanded mandate to work for peace, says Victor Adetula, Head of Research at The Nordic Africa Institute.

African youth abandon formal politics

Youth activism. Many young Africans have turned their backs on formal politics. They feel abandoned by a political elite who shows little understanding of their lack of life opportunities. In their search for new ways to reach influence, they are often met by...

Another victory for democracy in West Africa

Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is the latest example of democracy taking root in West Africa, according to NAI head of research Victor Adetula, who calls recent elections in the region a success story.

Weighing social and environmental justice

Social affairs. Should we prioritise social justice or natural ecosystems when upgrading informal settlements? NAI guest researcher Olumuyiwa Adegun is developing a framework that balances both values.

Classic critique of ‘ethnic identity’ concept

#Great books on Africa. Au cœur de l’ethnie by Jean-Loup Amselle and Elikia M’bokolo criticises the concept ‘ethnic identity’. “Although published in 1985, it became even more interesting in the 1990s when several conflicts in Africa were labeled as ethnic conflicts. The...

Rival priorities in the Sahel

Security and development. The G5 Sahel initiative goes some way to make up for the lack of coordination in the troubled Sahel region. But if foreign powers place a one-sided emphasis on fighting terror and stopping migration, it risks becoming yet another excuse to get more...

If Mayors Ruled Somalia

NAI Policy Note,   by Ken Menkhaus, proposes more support to municipalities as the source of the most practical, legitimate and effective formal governance in Somalia.

She stepped inside the Africanist bubble

Scholarships. At the Nordic Africa Institute master's student Niina Ahola found the tools to develop her research about war trauma among former Lord’s Resistance Army abductees in northern Uganda.

What's his greatest challenge?

South Africa. We asked two of our South Africa experts what they see as the single most crucial challenge for South Africa's new president Cyril Ramaphosa. They gave two quite different answers.

Iceland gets access to e-books on Africa

Improved outreach. Almost 5,000 freely downloadable e-publications from the Nordic Africa Institute's library have been made available through Iceland's national library portal Leitir.

"Ramaphosa will be fantastic for investors"

South Africa. With a multi-millionaire businessman as president, the investment environment will be a priority. While this may be great news for international businesspeople, NAI associate Henning Melber does not think ordinary South Africans will have many reasons...

“Open Burkina Faso” – target of violence

Security. The recent terror attack in Burkina Faso was the third similar incident since 2016, in a country otherwise known for increasing democratisation. Both trends relate to the ousting of Blaise Compaoré as president in 2014, says NAI researcher Jesper...

Street vending is a precarious living

DIY urbanism. City governments in many African cities prefer the Western idea of big shopping malls, instead of having street and market vendors in the city. Even though the vendors pay fees and taxes, they constantly face threats of eviction and demolition.

Electricity for all crucial for socio-economic development

SDGs. Renewable energy is not necessarily sustainable, if it fails to contribute to poverty reduction, quality education and better health, says Josephine Kaviti Musango, who conducts research on sustainable energy in African cities.

Great reads for Women’s Day

Gender equality. At the NAI Library you find a large variety of academic work and other interesting reads on gender equality. NAI Chief Librarian Åsa Lund Moberg picks one of each from four different categories of library books and publications.

Ethiopia's success story problematised

Development. ‘Ethiopia rising’ – the idea of a prosperous and fast-developing country – is a recurring theme as Ethiopia’s ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front consolidates its power. NAI scholarship holder Fisseha Tefera is looking into how...

Neighbourhoods carry out police work

Security. Lacking police resources have pushed inhabitants in Nigerian cities towards community policing. However, also militia groups and criminals are doing police work.

Trade equality lessens Africa’s aid dependency

Economy. African countries would get paid significantly more for their agricultural produce and minerals if terms of trade were equal. Today it is a buyer’s market and that says a lot about power relations between Africa and Europe.

After Weah's win, Taylor allies waiting in the wings

Liberia. Liberia’s new president George Weah has promised to bring change to his country. However, according to NAI researcher Anders Themnér, rather than putting an end to old structures based on corruption and nepotism, the Weah presidency is likely to see...

Self-interest behind shift of China’s Africa policy

Peacekeeping. China is contributing troops to two current UN operations in Africa – in Mali and South Sudan. This marks a change from its previous policy of non-intervention. However, according to NAI scholarship holder Obert Hodzi, self-interest lies behind the...

Photo credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

Condemning racism is not enough

Blog post. African leaders need to do more than voice their concerns about the growing tide of xenophobia. Here are four pieces of advice from NAI researcher Patience Mususa.

West’s condescending attitude opens doors for China in Africa

Development cooperation. China’s presence in Africa is about more than building big bridges or fancy hotels, it is also about culture and language. In nearly all countries on the continent, China has established Confucius Institutes to teach Mandarin Chinese and the ideology...

Public funding key in bringing more African women into research

Gender. Although there are more African women in social sciences than in other research fields, they face many obstacles in getting research funding and pursue their academic careers. “Public funding for higher education is key in bringing more African women...

In Memoriam Sirkku Hellsten

It is with great sadness that The Nordic Africa Institute wishes to inform the Nordic Africa community that Sirkku Hellsten, colleague and committed researcher, has passed away after a period of illness. Sirkku joined NAI in 2015. There is a memory...

President to recover funds abroad

Angola. A large number of the economic and political elite have been thrown out from the corridors of power in the first six months of João Lourenço’s presidency. And, somewhat surprisingly, the four children of former president José Eduardo dos Santos, who...

Murky finances at the root of the debt crisis

Mozambique. Unregulated financial markets and inapproriate use of state guarantees are some of the causes of the so-called 'tuna bond' scandal. In a new policy note, NAI researchers warn of the risk of creating a class of ‘new poor’, as the Mocambican people are...

African cities – shaped by the inhabitants themselves

DIY – Do it yourself. When weak states and municipalities fail to deliver services and infrastructure for their populations, city dwellers take care of things themselves. Architects from Nigeria’s capital Abuja, share their observations and thoughts on DIY-urbanism.

Can AU agree on reform agenda?

Blog post. External actors continue to steer the security agenda in Africa, but the AU and Regional Economic Communities desire greater responsibility. At the upcoming AU-meeting there will be intense negotiations to agree on a reform agenda according to NAI...

DIY urbanism - not the same for rich and poor

Nigeria. By 2050 it is estimated that most Africans will live in cities. But the local governments will not have enough funds to invest in public services. What does DIY (do it yourself) urbanism mean in this context? Is it something positive or negative? What...

Adding knowledge every year

NAI publications. Work on the 14th issue of the Africa Yearbook, about the year 2017, is about to start. NAI Senior Research Associate Henning Melber is co-editor of this annual outlook for all Sub-Saharan countries and sub-regions, and has been from the start.

New blog dedicated to migration

Migration studies. Migration scholars, look no further. A new website and blog by the AMMODI network offers a meeting place for academics and practitioners within the migration field.

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