Richard Dowden

Dowden on Africa

A regular blog from  Richard Dowden, RAS Director and author of Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles

Richard writes on African news, politics, business and the word on the street from his unique perspective as a journalist with 30 years' experience of covering Africa for various publications including The Independent, The Times and The Economist.

Richard writes regularly for publications including The Guardian, Foreign Policy, and The Times, a selection of his recent writing published else can be read here


Friday, 26 August 2016
Written by Richard Dowden
Ethiopia seems to be heading for another breakdown. Since the war with Eritrea ended - or maybe paused in stalemate - the country has developed rapidly. The level of poverty fell from 44% to 30% between 2000 and 2014 falling and a new dynamism emerged in the cities. But most Ethiopians are still subsistence farmers and the economy is not changing fast enough to provide jobs for the millions of school leavers and graduates.  Ethiopia, one of the world’s oldest nation states, has been... more
Friday, 19 August 2016
Written by Richard Dowden
John Campbell’s new book Morning in South Africa ends with a simple judgement: “On balance even with the clouds, it is morning in South Africa.” Having cited and analysed the failings of the ANC government, the paragraph that precedes this judgement gives a balanced assessment of South Africa’s remarkable transformation, listing “a consistent pattern of credible elections… a range of political vices are heard… freedom of speech in absolute... more
Thursday, 11 August 2016
Written by Richard Dowden
Today’s election in Zambia pits an opportunist president against a rich, slick contender. It could be tight. President Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front won 48% of the vote in 2015 to 47% for Hakainde Hichelema of the United Party for National Development. Lungu made his way to the top by switching parties to join the Patriotic Front after President Michael Sata came to power in 2011. After Sata died in 2014, Lungu made it to the top at a questionable national convention where there was... more
Wednesday, 10 August 2016
Written by Richard Dowden
Last week I was asked to speak at a gathering of Africa Auditors in Ghana. I haven’t been there for a while and I thought the conference a good opportunity to see how the country is doing as it heads into a December general election on the eve of its 60th birthday. I was in for a shock. I assumed auditors were people who added up rows of figures and made sure that companies have added up all the numbers correctly and nothing has gone missing. But these days auditors ponder and judge... more
Thursday, 28 July 2016
Written by Richard Dowden
The remarkable John Drysdale was almost completely unknown in Britain but a national hero in Somalia, where he was known as Abbas Idriss. A short man with pebble glasses, he looked more like an old professor than a soldier-turned-activist. Last month he was given a state funeral in Hargeisa attended by the great and good of Somaliland where he spent the last years of his life (see photo above). He first went to the Somalia during the Second World War in 1943 as a British army officer with the... more