On Friday 11th September 2015, PfAL staff welcomed 23 keen, enthusiastic African students to the London School of Economics and Political Science. Most had only just arrived in London the day before, but the entire group looked ready to take on the challenges of the coming year.

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Fiona Mungai addresses the audience

My new path has led me to realize that the vision of a new society in Africa will need to be developed in Africa, born out of the Africa historical experience and the sense of continuity of African history. The African is not yet the master of his own fate, but neither is he completely at the mercy of fate. As you leave LSE, my wish for you is that we keep looking for Africa’s solutions. Don’t settle!

With these words Fiona Mungai, a PfAL4 scholar from Kenya, gave a smile to the applause of the PfAL4 group and headed back to her seat. Isabelle Umugwaneza, from Rwanda, took the podium.

Good afternoon. Distinguished guests, Mr & Mrs Lalji, Fellow Colleagues, it has been a pleasure spending the day with you all, yet again hours spent receiving much needed food for thought, and encouragement…

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[PfAL4’s] Donnas Ojok gives a brief history of agricultural co-operatives in Africa and discusses the potential these organisations have for the continent today. 

The agricultural co-operative movement in Africa started around the late 19th century and early 20th century. It thrived during the colonial era – mostly because of the administrative support provided by colonial authorities to satisfy their own interests. This led to an exploitative relationship which was later challenged by a combination of African co-operatives and labour unions leading to co-op and labour reforms towards the end of colonialism. Post-colonial African governments also took deliberate efforts to strengthen co-ops. These were mostly formed by plantation and cash-crop farmers and they prospered, providing employment for thousands of people and offering better market opportunities for farmers’ produce. Unfortunately, the rise of African dictators in the 1970s and 1980s like Mobutu, Kamuzu Banda, Idi Amin, Sani Abacha to mention but a few led to a difficult time for co-ops as these leaders pursued policies which were, for lack of a better word, disastrous to the entire agricultural sector. Amin’s economic war in Uganda is a classic illustration of this point.

Read the full article in the Africa at LSE blog.

By Mitchell Aghatise (PfAL candidate, Nigeria)

Today was different. For the past few months we have been scavengers awaiting our next meal. Sustenance has become something to dread, death has become appealing.

Aisha was not from Chibok, but she was Nigerian. Or so she thought. Aisha basked in dreams of achievement, working tirelessly for it. Despite the pervasive poverty that spotted her area, she thought education was her ticket out. She was wrong. Her environment decided not to relinquish its grip; the narrative chose not to change, despite her best efforts.

That day was different too. The moment she was thrown against the iron bars of the rusty Hilux, she knew. In one fell swoop, her dreams had been dashed. Boko Haram had struck. All hope for her survival, for rescue, slowly faded as the vehicle maneuvered deeper into the Sambisa forest. She saw herself in all the girls who had made this trip before her, now awaiting her arrival. Formally strangers, but sisters, under this bond of broken dreams, dashed destinies, and an uncaring state.

Read the full article on the Africa at LSE blog.

By Lola Adeyemo, PfAL@LSE candidate

Nigeria decided. The recent presidential election was the most competitive in the history of the Nigerian state. As was widely reported, General Muhammadu Buhari, the candidate of the two-year-old opposition party, All Progressives’ Congress (APC), is now the President-elect. His victory over the incumbent, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of the de facto ruling party for the past sixteen years, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), is being hailed as a step forward for democracy in Nigeria and on the African continent.

However, this is not the first time that General Buhari has taken part in a contest for the privilege of managing Africa’s largest economy and most populous country. Before winning in 2015, General Buhari had made three failed presidential bids. The last of those was in 2011 with the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), a party he founded in 2009. This time around, the former military leader ran for the top position in government in Nigeria with the recently-formed APC – a merger of a number of small opposition parties including his own CPC. Although some have argued that the ethnic backgrounds of the names on the APC ticket alone helped secure the win, the election results demonstrated a widespread desire across all Nigerian regions for alternative governance.

Read the full article on the Africa at LSE blog.

By Scott Firsing, PfAL2

Mobile phones revolutionised Africa. From the simple ability to communicate or to access the Internet or online banking, today most Africans cannot function without one or more mobile devices.

The majority of this access comes from satellites. In fact, I am writing this article from South Africa accessing the Internet using 3G via satellite. Satellites are an indispensable part of an almost unthinkable number of equations. However, despite the benefits that mobile phones have brought to Africa, most do not realise or comprehend what satellites and other aerospace technology can truly do to transform the African continent.

Read the full article in the Africa at LSE blog.

Martin Namasaka, PfAL@LSE candidate

In the light of the controversial security bill recently passed in the Kenyan Parliament and an estimated death toll of at least 370 in terror attacks in Kenya since 2011, it is time to reflect on a strategy that will identify sustainable solutions for the chronic instability along the Kenya-Somalia border zone.

Currently characterised by state failure, callousness of absent politicians, corruption, worrying refugee flows, humanitarian crises, human rights violations, racial profiling, radicalisation of Kenyan youth, and inability of the Kenyan government to guarantee security to its citizens, the unconventional ebb and flow of armed conflict dynamics, implies future attacks will no doubt follow.

Read the full article on the Africa at LSE blog.

LSE-AS-logoWe are delighted to announce our partnership with the 2015 LSE Africa Summit. A student-led initiative launched in April 2014, the annual Africa Summit seeks to address relevant issues facing Africa today and in the future. The inaugural summit in 2014 focused on entrepreneurship and featured several high-level speakers including President John Mahama of Ghana. The theme for 2015 is “Innovative Governance” in a wide range of industries and disciplines including health, technology, security, justice, education and politics.

Learn more about the programme at lseafricasummit.com. Registration has now closed, but you can still participate by tuning in to the live stream on YouTube or following and tweeting #LSEAfrica.

If you will be attending the Summit and would like to speak to a PfAL representative, please stop by our stand outside the Sheikh Zayed Theatre in LSE’s New Academic Building. We are happy to answer any questions or add you to our mailing list.

By Donnas Ojok (PfAL4)

Ahead of the unveiling of the Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015, LSE’s Donnas Ojok analyses the development projections of The Gates Foundation.

Every year, Bill and Melinda Gates, the world’s richest couple and co-chairs of the world’s biggest philanthropic organisation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation produce an annual report. The 2015 Annual Report is a unique one because the couple makes a second big bet after their first bet in the year 2000 which focused on health and education. Their bet concludes, “This new century brings with it exciting advances in health and learning. We all share the responsibility of ensuring that these opportunities are not out of reach for the people who need them the most”. That same year, world leaders made a pledge at the Millennium Summit in New York and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were birthed. In the year of their second bet, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be also come into being.

For the full article, please visit the Africa at LSE blog.

On Thursday 19th March, we had the pleasure of welcoming Dr Mo Ibrahim to speak to the PfAL@LSE group in a talk chaired by Professor Thandika Mkandawire, Professor of African Development at LSE. Dr Ibrahim gave the group a little of his own history in setting up his business and some of the challenges. Under the rapt attention of the group, Dr Ibrahim then spent time talking about good governance and the importance of celebrating good leaders.

Some of the PfAL@LSE group with Dr Mo Ibrahim after his talk
A group from PfAL@LSE with Dr Mo Ibrahim after his talk (Photo by Owen Billcliffe Photography http://owenbillcliffe.co.uk/)