Economic Statecraft, Media Influence Strategies, and the Impact on Public Perceptions of Chinese Influence in African Countries

This paper empirically demonstrates that in African countries with higher proportions of citizens who believe electricity and water supply to be national priorities as well as higher proportions of citizens who consume news from television, positive perceptions of Chinese influence are higher. By identifying these relationships, this paper contributes to the discourse on Chinese economic statecraft and soft power in Africa, theorizing that economic statecraft is only effective when conducted in tandem with media strategies that attribute development projects to Chinese investment. Click post to view full paper.

The Humanitarian Hypocrisy of US Counterterrorism Policies in Uganda

The main analysis section of this paper provides examples of two humanitarian crises, the War in Northern Uganda and the abuse of the political opposition, and illustrates how the US is responsible for such humanitarian violations via two mechanisms: contributing directly to the abuses by supporting the Ugandan military which carries/allows them to be carried out, and accepting such abuses either as a result of the Ugandan government's use of anti-terrorism rhetoric to justify them or simply in order to maintain the counterterrorism partnership, thereby allowing such abuses to continue. Within this main analysis section, quotes from US officials and agencies are provided to highlight the hypocrisy of US humanitarian goals given its counterterrorism policies, with the exemplified crises and mechanisms evoking America’s culpability. Following the main analysis section, the latest US actions to address human rights issues are considered, raising the possibility that the two-decades long hypocritical policies might come to an end under the newly inaugurated Biden administration. However, the final section concludes that while progress is possible, the past twenty years of the US-Uganda counterterrorism partnership have not only undermined human rights and the humanitarian agenda purportedly championed by the US government, but that the counterterrorism partnership has ended up supporting state-sponsored domestic terrorism as well. 

Multilateral Trade Agreements Should Constitute the Cornerstone of Biden’s US-Africa Policy

On November 24, 2020, in her nomination acceptance speech to become the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield declared, “America is back. Multilateralism is back.” President Joe Biden echoed these remarks at the 2021 Munich Security Conference, proclaiming “America is back. The transatlantic alliance is back.” While this recommitment to multilateralism is welcome, it is imperative that the Biden Administration’s conception of ‘transatlantic multilateralism’ not be limited to that of relations with Western Europe.

The Effect of State Capacity on the Comparative Employment Growth Rates of Government-Owned-Firms and Non-Government-Owned Firms: Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa

By examining the effect of macro-level political variables on firm-level economic variables, this paper attempts to more deeply understand micro-level political economy in a developing context. The results of this paper fill in the research gaps regarding the effects of state capitalism and political institutions (i.e., state capacity) on firm-level employment growth by demonstrating that in countries with high state capacity, government-owned firms have significantly lower employment growth rates than non-government-owned firms, whereas in countries with low state capacity, government-owned firms have significantly higher employment growth rates than non-government-owned firms.

Bobi Wine Profile

Robert Kyagulanyi Sssentamu, famously known by his stage name Bobi Wine (Bobi, a homage to his music idols Bob Marley and Bobby Brown, and Wine because he realized he only gets better with age), is a rapper/singer turned politician in Uganda. A member of parliament since 2017, Wine employs music to rally his People Power Movement in resistance to the autocratic, repressive, and corrupt rule of longtime President Yoweri Museveni’s government. In 2020, he became the leader of a small opposition party, the National Unity Platform, in order to run as a presidential candidate, challenging Museveni in the 2021 election. 

Mau Mau and the Kikuyu

First published in 1952 at the precipice of the Mau Mau uprising, Mau Mau and the Kikuyu is a short book by Louis Leakey, a Kenyan-born British paleoanthropologist. Intended for British audience, Leakey’s primary motive for penning the book stems from his desire to inform British readers about important Kikuyu customs (given his experience growing up among the Kikuyu and studying their traditions) and also to argue for how the introduction of British colonialism upended these longstanding social customs, ultimately resulting in grievances that brought about the Mau Mau uprising. In the first chapter, Leakey writes, “if we are to understand the underlying causes which made it possible for the movement to come into being and to reach the proportions which it has reached, we must know something of the history and customs of the Kikuyu” (1). Throughout the book, Leakey explains how the social grievances underlining the Mau Mau uprising stemmed from the breakdown of Kikuyu customs (such as those pertaining to the Kikuyu system of clan-based authority and marriage) resulting from British colonization and land dispossession. In contrast to A Grain of Wheat, which focuses on ties of Mau Mau to a broader Kenyan identity, Mau Mau and the Kikuyu specifically focuses on the breakdown of Kikuyu customs and identity as a result of colonization and as an impetus for Mau Mau. However, the two sources are similar in that they identify the breakdown of local customs and traditions stemming from European “modernization” and land dispossession as core grievances stimulating the Mau Mau movement.

Explaining Disparities in Electoral Concession and Peaceful Presidential Power Alternation in 21st Century Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire

This paper argues that the ultimate reason explaining the disparate concession outcomes is a function of zero-sum politics versus positive-sum politics, which are present in Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal respectively. Through exploring two underlying, pre-democratization variables, the catalyst of democratization, and two consequential, post-democratization variables, this paper will demonstrate how and why Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire differ in terms of zero-sum/positive-sum politics, and how this ultimate reason explains why Wade chose to peacefully concede his defeat while Gbagbo did not.

Gender Quotas in Sub-Saharan African Legislatures: Feminist Justifications and Implications

Over the past few decades, gender quotas have become an increasingly common policy around the world. Since the late 1980s, more than 70 countries have implemented laws requiring that women compose a minimum percentage of electoral candidates or seats in the national legislature, with the goal that such policies will increase the amount of women in elected legislative positions. Current scholars generally agree that gender quotas have led to an increase in the presence of women in legislatures around the world, presumably demonstrating that gender quotas achieve a feminist goal of increased representation for women and a more equal opportunity for women to contest such elections. This paper will focus on gender quotas in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region with significant implementation of gender quota policies (half of the countries in the region have mandated gender quotas) and the fastest and largest rate of change in women’s political representation in recent decades.

Desigualdad económica en Guinea Ecuatorial: La falta de instituciones responsables, democráticas, e inclusivas

Guinea Ecuatorial tiene el mayor PIB per cápita de cualquier país de África, pero esta estadística no cuenta toda la historia; la desigualdad económica es generalizada, con gran parte de la riqueza concentrada en manos de la élite política, especialmente la familia del presidente Obiang (Freixa, 2018). Sin embargo, el país no siempre tuvo entradas dramáticas de riqueza. Antes del descubrimiento del petróleo, Guinea Ecuatorial era uno de los países más pobres (Saadoun, 2017). Por lo tanto, el descubrimiento de petróleo sirve como foco principal para este trabajo, ya que transformó radicalmente las realidades sociales y económicas del país. El descubrimiento del petróleo en la década de 1990 se convirtió en un importante punto de inflexión en Guinea Ecuatorial, y fue el impulso para la desigualdad económica masiva que impregna al país a través de las tres causas directas que se describirán en este trabajo: la falta de gastos y servicios para la salud y educación, los proyectos de infraestructura y las compañías petroleras estadounidenses. Las causas directas ilustradas en este trabajo son el resultado de una falta de responsabilidad del gobierno, y esta falta es un resultado directo de las instituciones antidemocráticas. Por último, las instituciones no inclusivas (como resultado de la falta de responsabilidad y democracia del gobierno) son el culpable principal por la desigualdad económica en Guinea Ecuatorial. Esta desigualdad económica se amplificó por la afluencia masiva de los ingresos del petróleo que creía efectivamente un estado rentista.

Democracy and Human Rights in Zimbabwe Post-2018 Elections

While it is unclear what will develop in the near future, it is imperative that the United States continues to enforce its sanctions and uphold its support for democracy and human rights. The United States should promote an end to attacks on political opposition and civil society, the elimination of repressive laws, transparent economic management, and election reform with meaningful national dialogue. Lastly, while the United States should strive to assist with the development of Zimbabwe, it cannot lose sight of the necessary conditions of good governance and respect for human rights.