IOA Position Papers

No future for Africa without planning – urban planning that is

Analysis in brief / Groaning under the weight of unplanned growth, African cities struggle to be habitable. Taking urban planning seriously will become vitally necessary as the continent’s population becomes larger and more urban. The key is intelligent city planning, starting at the drawing board.

One Ethiopian entrepreneur tackled Addis Ababa congestion by opening Africa’s first smart parking facility at US$ 2.2million. Using smart phones and credit cards, customers pay less than two US cents and order their cars to be lifted into slots that accommodate 90 cars in a space that used to hold only nine. Image courtesy: The Reporter. Available at:

 Key points

  • African cities have been allowed to grow ungainly and unsafe as, for decades, local and national officials have been commissioned and then city planning studies were ignored
  • A growing African middle-class is demanding more liveable cities and applying political pressure on local and national officials to improve urban environments
  • Stricter zoning and green technology will bring investors to cities, generating revenues for urban improvements

Most African cities were not meant to be – that is, they were planned as congenial little ‘white’s only’” colonial towns that were never intended to be giant metropolises hosting millions of residents. When colonialism ended, urban migrants brought country dwellers in search of jobs to cities where they were now legally permitted to live. No thought went into where the new millions would live, how utility services would be provided, or for social necessities from parks to schools. The result was chaos – cities choked by pollution and traffic nightmares, and festering with township slums much larger than developed central business districts. In June 2017, the World Bank released another of its periodic reports on Uganda’s urban situation and blamed poor city planning for contributing to high unemployment. For one thing, potential investors are off-put by the dilapidated physical appearance of Kampala. Co-sponsored by the Kampala Capital City Authority, the study, “Enhancing economic development and job creation in greater Kampala” found transportation systems and building codes also failed to support a business-friendly environment.

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South Africa’s comparisons to Zimbabwe grow more common and more chilling

IOA analysis in brief | South Africa is undergoing a soul-searching exercise in national identity as the democracy’s founding ideals are threatened by the power plays of a ruling party that is causing economic destruction and racial animosity to hold onto power. The parallels between Jacob Zuma and Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe presidency are glaring.

Picture of President Zuma and Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe (left) and Jacob Zuma attend a Southern African Development Community conference in South Africa. The embattled South African president’s readiness to embrace tactics mirroring those employed by Robert Mugabe is a further blight on his tenure.
Photo courtesy: GovernmentZA/Flickr

Key points:

  • President Zuma has weathered corruption and power-grab scandals and even popular opposition by controlling the political structure of the ruling party that controls government
  • Like Mugabe, Zuma is employing anti-white rhetoric and blaming the white minority for the failure of 23 years of ANC economic policy to lift the black majority’s living standards
  • A troubling development is the government-condoned paramilitary wing in service of the ANC to intimidate anti-Zuma members of the public

South Africans fear their young democracy will die the death of Zimbabwe’s, under a corrupt, insular ruling party that seems to be duplicating the power-grab strategies of Robert Mugabe.

An all-powerful ruling party, a liberation leader who feels he is incapable of doing wrong, creeping corruption, youth brigades acting as organised thugs to suppress political opposition, domination of state broadcasting to serve the ruling party, use of state institutions for the personal gain of leadership and its cronies, use of state funds for the president’s personal pleasure – these elements and more, pioneered in Zimbabwe under President Robert Mugabe, are now observed in South Africa. Read more

UN Africa peacekeeping missions threatened by withdrawal of US funding

IOA analysis in brief | America wants to spend less on UN military missions in Africa to free up more money to spend on the US military. However, this is a false savings, particularly if a continent destabilised by the loss of UN peacekeeping requires future and more costly US military interventions.

Picture of boy running after United Nations (UN) truck in Goma

A MONUSCO tank on patrol in Goma, eastern DRC. Photo courtesy MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti/Wikimedia Commons

Key points:

  • The Trump doctrine on foreign policy is interested in Africa only as a source of terrorists who may threaten America
  • Washington only wishes to support efforts in Africa that fight specific terrorists that pose a threat to the US, not other conflicts or actions against local terror groups
  • As financer of one-quarter of the UN’s peacekeeping budget, the US’s will for a review of peacekeeping missions Washington finds irrelevant will be followed

War is expensive, and the UN has some of its most expensive peacekeeping missions in Africa. The US government wants a price review of operations, signalling a possible security crisis on the continent.

According to Washington’s new foreign affairs strategy, the US intends to “reduce or end funding for international organisations whose missions do not substantially advance US foreign policy interests,” according to a White House statement. As far as the Trump administration is concerned, the US has only one interest in Africa: as a venue to eliminate foreign terrorists before they come to America and cause harm to Americans. As simplistic as this view happens to be, even more simple-minded is the means to achieve this, solely through military action.

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African aviation’s non-stop airport expansion

Analysis in brief | All of Africa’s major economies are carrying out major airport building and expansion efforts in anticipation of ever-rising air passenger numbers. Airports are status symbols in their role as gateway announcements to African destinations, but also play vital roles in economic expansion.

Key points:

The Droneport project in Rwanda is a flagship development aiming to improve the procurement and distribution of vital provisions around the country. Image courtesy: Foster and Partners. Available at:

The Droneport project in Rwanda is a flagship development aiming to improve the procurement and distribution of vital provisions around the country. Image courtesy: Foster and Partners. Available at:

  • Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa will rival in size the world’s largest airports when expansion is completed
  • Rwanda has positioned itself as Central Africa’s aviation hub, home to Africa’s first drone airport
  • ‘Open skies’ policies agreed to by all African countries will, when implemented, expand air travel between African countries

Where once, every African country’s pride was its own national airline, today the prestigious item is a gleaming new state-of-the-art airport as Africa’s most populous nations are competing to be regional hubs. They seek to be air transportation centres where long flights from Europe and Asia come and go, and disembarking passengers go on to other countries via shorter route air carriers. Regional hub crowns can be bestowed upon Cairo for North Africa, Addis Ababa for East Africa, Lagos for West Africa, Kigali for Central Africa and Johannesburg for Southern Africa. However, international flights arrive at dozens of international airports distributed across all regions, from which the routes of shorter-haul aircraft emerge like spokes.

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African wildlife conservation goes high-tech

IOA Analysis in brief Genetic rescue to repopulate endangered species, drones that patrol game parks from the air to detect animals in distress, and radar and optical imaging devices that relay real-time data to conservationists’ smart phones via satellite relays are some of the tools now employed to protect the African menagerie and wildlife.

Technology is employed to keep an eye on poachers and track the movements of wild animals over the vast areas of Africa’s game parks. These include aerial drones, motion-triggered cameras and GPS chips implanted in animals. Photo courtesy Steve Roest/Wikimedia Commons. Available at:

Technology is employed to keep an eye on poachers and track the movements of wild animals over the vast areas of Africa’s game parks. These include aerial drones, motion-triggered cameras and GPS chips implanted in animals. Photo courtesy Steve Roest/Wikimedia Commons. Available at:

Key points:

  • South Africa’s giant Kruger National Park has thwarted poachers with a new radar/video imagery system combined with trained sniffer dogs and will expand its use
  • Kenya has found success with drones and motion-triggered cameras that track animal movements as well as their human predators
  • Mauritius’ initiative to save its pink pigeon population through genetic rescue will be watched as a means to preserve other African species

Africans have honoured their natural endowment of wild animals long before the lucrative tourism industry made the Big Five animals the centrepiece of world travel to the continent. Wild animals have also been a source of food and ingredients for medicines and artefacts. Killing and transporting animals is illegal but for some restricted circumstances, and yet poaching continues at an alarming rate. Yet, natural heritages are at risk as well as the tourism trade, which is drawn to the thrill of an elephant or rhino sighting in the wild. Against well-armed poachers employed by international criminal syndicates, game parks and nature reserves are launching a high-tech counter-offensive.

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