Ghana
Ghana’s Chinese Gold Rush

Ghana’s Chinese Gold Rush

Compared to the West’s neoliberalism, China’s approach to investment in Africa has often been somewhat idealized as more of a “partnership” with the host country, with less moralizing by the Chinese over human rights practices and fewer strings attached economically....

read more
Why Africa Is Turning to China

Why Africa Is Turning to China

Many African governments prefer China as an economic partner over Western countries for a number of reasons. First, China’s own development experience has instructive value. Second, China fulfills Africa’s need for critical infrastructure more cheaply, less bureaucratically, and more quickly. And finally, China portrays Africa more positively as a partner in “mutually beneficial cooperation” and “common prosperity,” rather than a “doomed continent” requiring aid.

read more
How West Africa Helped Win World War II

How West Africa Helped Win World War II

In June 1940, when France fell to the German invasion, Italy seized the moment to attack British positions in Egypt, Kenya, and Sudan. By the end of March 1941, German Major-General Erwin Rommel’s mechanized troops had driven the British out of Libya and back into Egypt. In late spring, German and Italian aircraft were pummeling Britain’s sea stations in the Mediterranean, making it difficult if not impossible for supply ships to reach British forces in the Middle East. The remaining sea route by which to deliver supplies to Egypt was via Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, but that was a protracted journey of three to four months, a luxury of time that Britain simply did not have.

read more
Ghanaian Oil: Only for the 1 Percent?

Ghanaian Oil: Only for the 1 Percent?

In 2007, substantial oil deposits were discovered in the Jubilee field off the coast of Ghana’s Western Region, and production began in 2010. As a result, Sekondi-Takoradi, the region’s coastal capital, has gained new prominence in a country whose most high-profile urban center has generally been the national capital of Accra. There is already unmanageable congestion at Takoradi Harbor.

read more
Oil Over Troubled Waters?

Oil Over Troubled Waters?

In 2007, Tullow Oil and partner Kosmos Energy discovered substantial petroleum reserves in the Jubilee field 37 miles off the coast of Ghana. Oil production began in December 2010, attended by rather inflated expectations of sudden wealth for this rapidly developing West African country. As Christiane Badgley says in one of her many authoritative articles on Ghana’s oil industry, nothing seems to capture the public imagination like oil.

read more
Occupy Nigeria

Occupy Nigeria

On January 1, 2012, Nigeria’s fuel regulator announced that the government was immediately discontinuing its fuel subsidy to help cut government spending, causing an overnight spike in fuel prices from $1.70 to $3.50 per gallon. Such a hike would be outrageous even for Americans. But for a drastically poorer country like Nigeria—where 70 percent of the population of 160 million lives below the poverty line—it was insufferable. Cheap fuel is one of the few benefits Nigerians enjoy as citizens of Africa’s largest (and the world’s 14th-largest) oil producer.

read more
Food of the Gods

Food of the Gods

A prominent part of holiday festivities is chocolate, one of our most adored comfort foods. Chocolate is made from the beans (actually the seeds) of the pods that grow on the trunk and main branches of the cocoa plant. In a fitting tribute to the Mayan (and later the Aztec) belief in the divine origin of cocoa, Swedish scientist and father of modern plant taxonomy, Carolus Linnaeus, gave the cocoa tree the name Theobroma cacaoTheobroma is Greek for “food of the gods,” and cacao is derived from the Mayan word ka’kau.

read more

Target: Africa

An informal competition took place during the Bush years for the title of “second front” in the war on terror. Administration officials often referred to Southeast Asia as the next major franchise location for al-Qaeda, with the Philippines in particular slated to become the “next Afghanistan.” Then there was the border between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, which State Department officials termed a “focal point for Islamic extremism in Latin America.” Worried about the spread of al-Qaeda operatives in North Africa, the Bush administration also developed the Pan-Sahel Initiative, which became the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative before finally being folded into the Pentagon’s new Africa Command.

read more
Dismantling Elmina Castle

Dismantling Elmina Castle

According to Ghana’s Minister of Energy, 13 different petroleum operations are in different stages of oil exploration off Ghana’s shore, and more companies are seeking production rights all the time. The British, Dutch, Chinese, Italians, Russians and Americans are all salivating at Ghana’s front door. Ghana has long been a leading cocoa exporter, but cocoa and its end product chocolate do not elicit the intensity of lust that oil does. 

read more