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China’s Tech Lead in Africa Highlights B3W’s Biggest Problem

When Joe Biden took over from Donald Trump, many predicted that Trump’s foreign policy would soon follow him out the door. A few months down the line, it’s become clear that they agreed more frequently than expected even if their styles are very different. One example is ...

Global Leadership Stories

The United States’s hurried withdrawal from Afghanistan revealed the messy space where the discourse about international leadership meets leadership on the ground. Even as many are criticizing the role that various Western fantasies of nation-building/democratization/containment/management have played in the debacle, it’s still unclear what a Western reckoning ...

The Impossibility of Learning from Afghanistan

The story of China in the Global South has always carried a frisson in the West. A large part of that feeling has to do with China’s size, the way it simply doesn’t fit into any of the categories the West uses to classify and understand the ...

Time is Running Out to Jump Out of the Fire

The new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s massive new report makes for scary reading. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres called it a ‘code red for humanity’ and that’s probably understating the level of danger. It’s increasingly clear that staving off global disaster ...

The West’s Ignorance About What China’s Doing in Africa is a Feature Not a Bug

Those of us who concentrate on Africa-China relations have long warned that the current framing of the relationship as a zero-sum arena in a new cold war strips African states of agency. The problem isn’t only that it flattens the complex ...

Chinese Companies’ “Eat Bitter” Management Style Just Doesn’t Work in Africa

Forget debt traps, Huawei ‘back-doors' and vaccine diplomacy. They might be the disputes that define our current polarized moment. But I’m willing to bet they won’t have the staying power of the one – the original – dispute that has haunted Chinese engagement with Africa since the ...

Climate Suffering and Its Complications

This week, the climate crisis became a lot more concrete. Heatwaves and fire across North America overlapped with massive floods in Germany and China. I say ‘concrete’ but of course climate change has been pretty concrete for millions of climate refugees across the Global South for a while ...

Reading the Smoke

As things slowly settle down in South Africa after the last ruinous week, the debates about who’s really to blame are catching fire. It’s now being called an insurrection attempt, and President Ramaphosa has referred to those responsible for fueling the protests as ‘enemies of democracy.’ 

The Fire Next Door

So…How have you been? Since we last spoke, my country exploded. If you’re not up on South African news, the current government has finally managed to get a charge to stick to its predecessor – former president Jacob Zuma. This took ...

The B3W’s Many ‘Shoulds’

Despite seemingly coming from the same naming tradition that gave us Melania Trump’s Be Best campaign, the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative is firmly pointed away from the recent past. It seems driven by a new willingness to face the many barriers that shape our current ...
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