Nicholas Westcott

A regular blog from RAS Director, Nicholas Westcott.


Friday, 31 May 2019
Written by Nick Westcott
On 23 May, the Royal African Society, with the SOAS Centre for African Studies and London Business School’s Africa Club, held an open workshop on ‘The African Middle Class Re-examined’. The discussion explored who exactly the ‘African middle class’ are: do they exist at all in any meaningful way, and if so how do they define themselves, where do they live, what do they consume, and how do they behave politically and socially? We brought together insights and... more
Last month, in mid-April, I visited Addis Ababa with a group from SOAS’s Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy to talk to people about multilateral diplomacy in Africa and the respective roles of the African Union, United Nations and individual national governments. We struck lucky, arriving as public protests in Algeria and Sudan were reaching their climax, with President Bouteflika already gone and President al-Bashir removed while we were there, and with the AU and UN... more
Tuesday, 12 March 2019
Written by Nick Westcott
It has been election season in Africa over the last few months.  To be honest, it is always election season somewhere on the continent.  But since late last year we have had three particularly important elections: in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in Nigeria and in Senegal.  Each has been important, but in very different ways. First and foremost, all were overwhelmingly peaceful.  Tragically, there were some deaths in both DRC and Nigeria.  But none of the... more
Tuesday, 22 January 2019
Written by Nicholas Westcott
Last week, the International Criminal Court (ICC) acquitted Laurent Gbagbo and his former youth minister. The court in The Hague ruled that Cote d’Ivoire’s former president had no case to answer and dropped charges of crimes against humanity, which related to the country’s post-election violence in 2011. I was closely involved with the 2010 elections in Cote d’Ivoire and their aftermath, being at the time British Ambassador to the country, and from February 2011... more
Friday, 21 December 2018
Written by Nicholas Westcott
The Democratic Republic of Congo was scheduled to go to the polls this weekend, but the election has been delayed a week to 30 December. What voters will find on that date is still uncertain.    The untried hyper-modern laptop-based electronic voting system at least comes with low expectations that it will work smoothly, if at all. But the odds are that most polling stations will be able to operate, even if far more slowly than expected. The ballot 'paper' will be... more