by Richard Raber
Nokoko, the journal of Carleton University’s Institute of African Studies, is preparing a special issue on the theme “Shifting Geopolitics and Militarization in Africa.” We invite abstracts for research articles addressing the issues presented below. We also welcome book reviews, and briefings from scholars, public intellectuals, and activists.
Widespread assessments within International Relations suggest a transformation is underway from the post-Cold War order characterized by American supremacy, towards a new multi-polar world. In Africa, this follows thirty years in which the Washington Consensus entrenched a liberal international order across the continent. In that time, governments rewrote constitutions to protect private property and foreign investment, diverted state expenditure from social goods, while facilitating widespread (and ongoing) privatization. Over the same period, US Africa Command (US-AFRICOM) sought hosts for US troops. The result has been a surge in US military presence across the continent, with American troops working alongside as well as training and equipping African forces. In turn, the United States gained interoperability agreements and a network of “lily pad” bases throughout Africa. This expansion occurred with little public scrutiny, and relied on regimes of legal immunity that may exceed those of colonial regimes.
There are reasons to focus beyond the US, even as the US exceeds other states in the scale and extent of its presence. Since the 2008 financial crisis, there has been a marked geopolitical recalibration in Africa. China, Russia, middle-powers, and former colonial countries have established military relations in ways reminiscent of colonial era canton systems in China and India. While unclear if troop placements reflect trade and commercial interests, China, Russia, India, Saudi Arabia, the UK, France,Canada, Italy, Japan and Turkey are present.
Meanwhile, smaller powers such as India and Saudi Arabia have emerged as major sources of arms across Africa as both Egypt and South Africa ramp up arms production with the hopes of expanding exports on the continent.
China’s formal military presence on the continent commenced with ground troops in 2011 with the aim of withdrawing its citizens during the war in Libya. Chinese arms sales to Cameroon, Congo DRC, Ghana, Sudan, Tanzania, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe increased 55% between 2013 and 2017. Algeria is the third-largest buyer of Chinese weapons after Pakistan and Bangladesh. China’s 8,000-member standby force with the UN is ready to take part inpeacekeeping, training, and operations.
Russia’s role is a fraction of China’s, yet the country signed nuclear energy deals and support agreements with the Central African and Mozambican militaries. Likewise, Russian natural gas and arms interests have built ties across the continent. In addition, Russia vies for a base in Sudan and in October 2019 held the first Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, Russia as part of renewed efforts to bolster its influence in the continent (Mwangi and Fabiano, 2020).
For its part, Djibouti has come to host a wide range of foreign bases. Italy, France, Japan, and China, all have bases a mere 10km from the US base. Together, these bases host another seven allied forces, which begs the question of whether its strategic importance offers added stability and strength or volatility and weakness in international relations, especially given the current drift toward war in neighbouring portions of Ethiopia.
The UK, France, and Canada increased their presence under the pretext of counterterrorism. In Kenya, the UK’s (and the US) training of government troops has coincided with a massive rise in extrajudicial killings. Under UN authority, and led by French troops, forces from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger formed the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Their objective? Prevent “terrorism” in the Sahel. In September 2019, West African governments pledged to commit a billion dollars to the effort. All this, despite the fact that known “terrorist” groups are in fact “embedded in local dynamics, and have some degree of political authority and legitimacy as they find support in criticisms of and protests over bad governance and lack of justice.” (Bruno Charbboneau, 2018)
European Union countries have ended humanitarian rescue patrols of the Mediteranean coasts and instead work to harden borders and fund the detaining of migrants in camps in North Africa. Europe’s interventions constitute a militarized response toward people who are already victims of war, thus further traumatizing them. And yet in many instances it is a militarized response to nonmilitary problems caused by failed economic policies, poor governance, ecological stresses, and persistent or growing poverty.
Several important questions stem from the presence of foreign militaries in Africa. How much does militarization relate to the economic and strategic interests of the intervening countries, of what Padraig Carmody termed “The New Scramble for Africa” (2016)? Might Africa again be a site of proxy wars—a conclusion suggested by the wars in the Sudans? What are the implications for governance and security forces within Africa? How do foreign troops support or constrain civil society and counter-hegemonic forces in Africa? How does their presence impact military and police cultures within host states?
For example, in Kenya and beyond, extrajudicial killings rose and a culture of impunity emerged among national forces, leaving local police to often appear as occupying forces themselves. This is certainly consistent with the recent, heroic, and historically unparallelled opposition to SARS forces in Nigeria. In Ghana, the enormous levels of military aid from the US, UK and EU donors has made the army a privileged institution. The military has wide business interests —including a bank and arms industry— and allows senior officers and “VIPs” of their choosing to use sirens and escorts to push luxury SUVs through local traffic, adding one more burden on regular citizens suffering inadequate infrastructure.
Of course, the expansion of foreign military involvement in Africa does not result in unidirectional dynamics, raising the question as to how African leaders respond and fashion state policies? What are the benefits to playing different countries off one another in collaborative arrangements, aid agreements and procurement contracts? Similarly, in light of shifting geopolitical dynamics, how have local coalitions responded? What kinds of local opposition and protest movements emerge, and what are their successes or failures? Similarly, what political changes are occurring within the African Union?
How do outside interventions exacerbate existing tensions within and between countries? In which ways do such interventions give life to new forms of class structure, class alliances and class struggle? What is the relationship between class structure and alliances to the distribution of natural resource wealth? What are their interactions with shifts elsewhere (e.g., the Caribbean and Latin America)? How does this transformation refract larger historical shifts? How do sites of intervention illuminate a new order and the re-calibration of power in Africa (and beyond)? What are the impacts of rhetorical efforts to build new alliances of African countries with BRICS and other rising powers?
We welcome research articles on the above topic any of the following sub-themes:
Militarization and natural resources
Militarization and strategic positioning, e.g. Indian Ocean, Somalia, Egypt, Algeria, and Sudan
Militaries, popular struggles, and training of police and military for civil unrest
Occupation forces such as in Western Sahara, Diego Garcia, and foreign military bases
Migration and militarization
Borders, borderlands, and changing notions of space and place
Militaries and humanitarianism
Militaries and gender violence
Militaries and popular culture
Surveillance and constitutional rights
Contemporary military infrastructures
Weaponization of the media
Militias, mercenaries, paramilitaries, and the privatization of violence
Militaries and indirect rule
Militaries and ethnicity
The business of war
Flows of military aid
Africa’s position in the arms industry
Race, Gender, Imperial Knowledge and the afterlives of Empire in International Relations theory
Shifting relations of power between and within African states
Scholars whose abstracts are approved by the editors will be required to submit papers that critically engage with any number of these issues. Submissions should be no longer than 9,000 words. We also welcome shorter contributions as well as photo essays. Articles should follow Nokoko’s submission guidelines. We encourage potential authors to discuss articles in progress if they seek advice on preparing a successful submission. Please contact us if you wish to propose a particular book for review(s) and we will assist in finding a review copy. Book reviews have a 1000 word limit, although extended book reviews of two or more books may be longer (see, for example, the extended review by Heffernan in Issue 7). Policy briefings and agitations for new research agendas are welcome in the range of 4000 words. We also continue to accept articles outside this theme-specific area.
To submit use this link:
PAS Bamako invites proposals for projects that strengthen ties between the United States and Mali by highlighting shared values and promoting bilateral cooperation. All programs must advance one of the key priorities listed below, promote an element of American culture, or have a connection with American expert/s, organization/s, or institution/s in a specific field that will promote increased ties between the United States and Mali and foster understanding of U.S. policies and perspectives.
More information about the funding opportunity can be found here.
Link to Newton Award: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=326034">https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=326034
Program Objective: This award will be presented to a single investigator or team of up to two investigators that develops a “transformative idea” to resolve challenges, advance frontiers, and set new paradigms in areas of immense potential benefit to DoD and the nation at large. Proposals should aim to produce novel conceptual frameworks or theory-based approaches that present disruptive ways of thinking about fundamental scientific problems that have evaded resolution, propose new, paradigm-shifting scientific directions, and/or address fundamental and important questions that are argued to be undervalued by the scientific community. Approaches can include analytical reasoning, calculations, simulations, and thought experiments. While the use and production of datasets is allowed, any new supporting data should be generated without the use of any experimentation or instrumentation, as the nation-wide closure of laboratories limits the ability of investigators to follow normal safety procedures set by their institutions, in accordance with federal and state regulations.
Given the novelty of and circumstances surrounding this one-time Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), the objective of this program is to generate proposals that are equally novel and pioneering. Therefore, this FOA should be viewed as an opportunity to propose basic research that falls outside the bounds of traditional proposals.
Expectations of Award Recipients: Newton Award recipients will produce novel conceptual frameworks or theoretical approaches to addressing outstanding or emerging challenges facing the scientific community. The resulting frameworks and approaches should include clear predictions that can be tested by the scientific community in the years following the return to the laboratory environment. Findings must be submitted as pre-publication material in open archives and disseminated through open publication in a journal. Award winners will brief the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)) leadership at the end of the award period of performance, and may be asked to design and chair a Future Directions Workshop on the topic of their findings. In addition, OUSD(R&E) will support funded projects in finding pathways to continue the funding, validation, and development of their transformative ideas.
Only one proposal total may be submitted by each investigator.
MIT SOLVE Global Challenge Health Security and Pandemics Overview: https://solve.mit.edu/challenges/health-security-pandemics" rel="nofollow">https://solve.mit.edu/challenges/health-security-pandemics
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is the latest in a series of infectious disease emergencies, including cholera, Ebola, SARS, Chikungunya, HIV/AIDS, and influenza. While scientists and drug developers, with support from governments and multilateral organizations, have been rushing to produce, test, and deliver vaccines and treatments, tech innovators also have a crucial role to play, both in the near term and to prevent and mitigate future disease outbreaks.
In the near term, we need improved solutions for prevention, accurate detection, and rapid response. MIT Solve is seeking tech innovations that can slow and track the spread of an emerging outbreak, for example by improving individual hygiene, developing low-cost rapid diagnostics, analyzing data that informs decision making, and providing tools that support and protect health workers.
At the same time, we cannot solely treat disease outbreaks reactively. Climate change and globalization leave us ever more vulnerable to future epidemics and pandemics, and it’s critical to be prepared. Solve is also seeking solutions that focus on preventative and mitigation measures that strengthen access to affordable primary healthcare systems, enhance disease surveillance systems, and improve healthcare supply chains.
We need your help:
If you have a solution, we want you to apply.
If you can help us fund a prize for the selected Solver teams, please get in touch with Hala Hanna at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also donate http://solve.mit.edu/donate" rel="nofollow">http://solve.mit.edu/donate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here—all amounts raised will support the Challenge.
If you can partner with us in any other way, please let us know http://solve.mit.edu/contact" rel="nofollow">http://solve.mit.edu/contact" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here.
USAID is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with decisive action at home and abroad. Our priorities in the COVID-19 response are to protect the safety and health security of our global workforce, ensure that we can continue our life-saving mission across the world, and support partner countries in their response to COVID-19.
To date, USAID has publicly announced $274 million in funding to combat COVID-19. More than $2 billion—which Congress provided to USAID and the State Department in two emergency supplemental appropriations—is being put to work to save lives.
We encourage potential partners to continue monitoring https://www.grants.gov/" rel="nofollow">https://www.grants.gov/">https://www.grants.gov/" rel="nofollow">https://www.grants.gov/" rel="nofollow">https://www.grants.gov/ and https://beta.sam.gov/" rel="nofollow">https://beta.sam.gov/">https://beta.sam.gov/" rel="nofollow">https://beta.sam.gov/" rel="nofollow">https://beta.sam.gov/ (new fedbizops) for new grant and contract opportunities related to COVID-19. Partners may submit unsolicited proposals to COVID19_Concepts@usaid.gov.
US Embassy Abuja COVID-19 Response
Link to Grant Notice: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/search-grants.html?keywords=COVID">https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/search-grants.html?keywords=COVID
The U.S. Embassy Abuja Public Affairs Section (PAS) is pleased to issue this Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to support Nigeria’s response against the novel Coronavirus pandemic. This NOFO outlines this funding priority and the procedures for submitting an application. Please carefully read through and follow all instructions below. Implementation of this program remains subject to the approval and availability of funding.
Purpose: PAS seeks to award a limited number of grants to individuals, educational institutions and not-for-profit organizations that are actively working to support Nigeria’s response against COVID 19, either through grassroots effort targeting vulnerable populations, or amplifying government effort in hard to reach areas.
This funding is targeted at projects that have already commenced and not just in the idea phase. Humanitarian assistance, social welfare and construction are not allowed under this funding instrument. Projects must be safe and follow healthcare regulations of the World Health Organization and the Nigeria Center for Disease Control. Applicants are permitted to submit only one proposal per individual/organization.