Perspectives - Political Analyses and Commentary

Perspectives Publication Series

This edition of Perspectives contributes to the ongoing debate on infrastructure development in Africa by sharing snapshots of experience from around the continent, exploring questions about democratic participation, the role of human and environmental rights, and economic transformation.

Informed by the discussions at an international conference jointly organised by the German Development Institute, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and Stanford University on “Emerging Power or Fading Star? South Africa’s Role on the Continent and Beyond”, held 12–14 July 2016 in Cape Town, the articles gathered in this edition of Perspectives shed light on some of the nuances and challenges that define South Africa’s place in the world today.

Activists, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and social movements across the world are facing verbal hostility from politicians, new laws and regulations that curtail their ability to operate, and outright violence. Africa is no exception.

When you write about Africa, make sure to always include sad and starving characters, advises Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainana in his famously ironic essay “How to write about Africa”, which takes aim at Western prejudices. In the same way that everyday laughter has been excluded from all-too-familiar depictions of the continent, African humour and satire as a form of social and political engagement remains underexplored.

With this edition of Perspectives, the Heinrich Böll Foundation explores some of the approaches and instruments that communities and their NGO partners have developed to create room for community-centred stakeholder participation, and to champion community interests and rights.

With this edition of Perspectives, the Heinrich Böll Foundation seeks to unpack some of the underlying tensions and challenges facing the promotion of sexual and reproductive rights on Africa.

The articles gathered in this edition of Perspectives capture the complex and plural ways in which Africans are attempting to use ICTs to democratise democracy on the continent, the challenges they face, and the valuable lessons learned.

For this edition of Perspectives the Heinrich Böll Foundation asked a number of African intellectuals, writers and analysts to provide their take on Africa’s relationship with Europe. The result is a small collection of interviews, short essays and comments that throw light on the complexities and complexes of this relationship, using analysis, imagery, experience, provocation and humour.

For this edition of Perspectives, the Heinrich Böll Foundation offered Africa-based thinkers and commentators an opportunity to critically reflect on what a “transition towards sustainability” means or should mean for the region. The articles gathered here go beyond ideological debates to also provide some case studies where green-economy principles have been applied.

Perspectives #01/2014: Africa Rising: Who Benefits from the Continent's Economic Growth?

With this edition of Perspectives, the Heinrich Böll Foundation gives Africa based commentators and experts from across the continent the opportunity to critically reflect on the “Africa rising” story and the sub-narratives it carries, including the rise of the African woman, the rise of the African middle class and the power of innovation.

Perspectives #03/2013: Women, Custom and Access to Justice

This issue of Perspectives provides insight into country-specific challenges and controversies with regards to women’s access to justice in selected sub-Saharan African states.

Perspectives #02/2013: Women and Land Rights - Questions of Access, Ownership and Control

This issue discusses the diverse challenges women from across the continent face in terms of their land rights. It substantiates the need for interventions that reach beyond the provision of legal access to land rights if the aim of women’s economic empowerment is to be realised.

Perspectives #01/2013: Movers and Shakers? Youth and Political Change in Africa

What frustrations are causing the youth to turn to the streets? How do they mobilise today? Are conventional politics and parties able to attract young people or do they seek alternative ways to engage? How does their political participation manifest? Have they been successful? Are the youth a political force?

Perspectives #03/2012: What Are Sustainable African Cities?

This edition of Perspectives asks, “What are sustainable African cities?”. In so doing, it offers a snapshot of Africa’s urban sustainability challenges, ranging from tensions between heritage and urban renewal.

Perspectives #02/2012: Do Parliaments Matter? African Legislatures and the Advance of Democracy

The articles in this issue of Perspectives seek to reflect on the extent to which African legislatures have taken steps that mark their shift from being the “weakest link” of government to stronger, independent institutions. In essence, we ask – do African Parliaments really occupy the privileged position accorded to them in representational democracies.

Perspectives #01/2012: A Fractious Relationship - Africa and the International Criminal Court

Although there continues to be widespread popular support across the African continent for the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its mandate to prosecute high-level individuals accused of perpetrating international crimes, strong anti-ICC sentiments are brewing among parts of Africa’s political elite and state actors.

Perspectives #04/ 2011: Mobilising Climate Finance for Africa

Climate finance has recently become a subject of profound interest to the global debates on climate change. This edition of Perspectives sheds light on the issues that affect Africa's access to climate finance.

Perspectives #03/ 2011: Politics, Principles and Practice: Zimbabwe's Diamonds and the Kimberley Process

Zimbabwe's Marange diamonds have been tainted by reports of violence, human rights abuses and smuggling, fuelling doubts about the credibility and effectiveness of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KP). How could the Marange impasse be resolved?

Perspectives #02/2011: The Power to Participate: Building Feminist Influence in Africa

Inequality remains a lived reality for many women across Africa. The articles brought together in this edition of Perspectives reflect on the strengths and shortcomings of strategies for fostering gender-responsive political governance.

Perspectives #01/2011: Food Security in Africa

Looking at case studies from Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, the authors in this issue of Perspectives suggest appropriate measures for ensuring food security, fighting hunger and promoting sustainable approaches to natural resources management.

About the Series

Perspectives is a publication series of the Africa offices of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung. With this series, we intend to let experts from Africa express their views about current political issues in their region. Perspectives focuses on Southern- , East- and West Africa where the foundation has established offices.

This series of publications will provide you with political analyses and assessments that are well-founded, concise and relevant. Our aim is to make a contribution to a highly diversified debate - a debate in which people from Africa with a special insight into what is happening in their part of the world can express their thoughts. We intend publishing contributions from think tanks and universities, from journalists, politicians, as well as civil society representatives.