The Promise and Pitfalls of Africa’s Continental Free Trade Agreement

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 7 Last year, every country in Africa came together to create the largest trading bloc since the World Trade Organization. With the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the continent made history. The AfCFTA promises to create a customs union that allows for the free transfer of goods, capital, and labor across the continent. However, ratification is only a first step. Policymakers face an arduous implementation process to turn the deal’s promise into reality. Since the agreement was made, economic teams in each country have been preparing for June 2020, when the deal will take effect. At

Botswana Fights Against the Current of LGBTQA+ Discrimination In Africa

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 5 Source: Wikimedia Commons In June of 2019, Letsweletse Motshidiemang, a 21-year-old student at the University of Botswana, brought a case against the 1965 penal code criminalizing same-sex relations in Botswana. In a surprising shift, the High Court of Botswana deemed the law unconstitutional, overturning bans against same-sex relations. While the move may have had foundations from movements and public support in Botswana, it is firmly against the current trend of LGBTQA+ rights in Africa. Denoted as the most oppressive region for LGBTQA+ rights, Africa has seen recent negative trends in terms of the recognition o

How Linguistic Inequality Explains Botswana’s Surge in Identity Politics and Xenophobia

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 4 In post-colonial Africa, Botswana is often times regarded as a model transition, upholding traditional values in their quest for modernization. In fact, Botswana has mobilized drought relief campaigns, pension and orphan benefits, increased health infrastructure and mass school reform. Many attribute this success to a homogenous ethnic and linguistic population. This narrative of a rose-colored African Renaissance has stunted the human rights progression of minority groups and foreigners. The Umbrella for Democratic Chance (UDC), a political alliance to improve government accountability, has set concrete policy me

Abiy Ahmed, was Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Now What?

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 8 Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in reestablishing peace talks with Eritrea and restoring freedoms after years of economic and political repression. The Nobel committee attests to his attempts to resolve the border conflict with Eritrea and beginning reforms that provide many citizens with “hope for a better life and future.” While he has made significant progress on many of the complex issues that plague the Horn of Africa, little has been done to institutionalize and sustain these initiatives. In turn, many critics claim that this recognition

Tense transition in Algeria

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 3 Eight years after Algeria’s government clung to power during the Arab Spring, the country is being rocked by protests against its longstanding autocratic state. The spark was cast in February 2019, when the elderly and infirm president Bouteflika announced he would stand for a fifth election, having already ruled Algeria for 19 years, along with the help of his corrupt clique of relatives and party elites. The movement, known in Algeria as “Hirak”, led to Bouteflika stepping down as president and the resignation of the prime minister. Yet the interim president, Abdelkader Bensalah, is himself an elite of the FLN p

“Made in Africa”- Rwanda’s Techno-Revolution

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 2 Source: Wikimedia Commons Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, is an interconnected, growing city bustling with innovation and investor money challenging stereotypes of African cities as impoverished. As a country tainted by civil war and a genocide that left more than 2 million displaced, Rwanda is now going through a radical transformation that makes it the land of opportunity and a symbol of hope for all of Africa. The key behind this success? Rwanda has invested heavily in building up its IT infrastructure, creating a foundation for technology hubs, and more importantly, enabling access to high quality education through

Low-Cost Solar Power Presents a Transformative Opportunity for Africa

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 1 Energy consumption in Africa’s lower income markets is predicted to rise tremendously throughout the coming decades. Birthrates are projected to pull Africa’s population from 1.2 billion up to over 2 billion by 2050. The majority of this growth will occur in communities which have historically been disconnected or have had inconsistent servicing from national grids. If electricity access for these populations is to ever rise above 35 percent, policy makers and businesses must address questions of future energy systems. Past energy infrastructure has proven unreliable, expensive, and difficult to maintain. So

The Russian State: A Hammer in Search of a Nail

Originally Published in the December 2019 Journal, Breaking the Silence, Pg. 36 Crimean Tatars, an ethnic and religious minority in Crimea, are no strangers to state repression. Yet, the immediate wave of targeted persecution following the Russian annexation of Crimea has only increased in intensity five years later. The state accuses members of the community of being affiliated with Hizb ut-Tahrir–a group that promotes an Islamic caliphate but denounces violence as a means of achieving it–and uses anti-terrorism efforts as a pretext for arrest, a justification that echoes Russian reasoning for intervention in Syria. It is not unusual that a community indigenous to the Crimean peninsula resi

Brexit Christmas Update

Photo: Wikimedia Commons The five weeks since the previous update have only corroborated the opening observation that a week in politics may as well be an eternity. As with the previous general election in 2017, this campaign has served to reassert the dominance of the Conservatives and Labour, the duopoly at the helm of Britain’s political structure. After Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and the centrist Liberal Democrats performed convincingly at the European Parliamentary election this May , the British electorate has largely resorted itself — according to The Economist’s poll tracker, the Conservatives head into the final week of campaigning with a 44-34% lead over Labour, which experts beli

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