A freelance career

A freelance career
I asked you about ethics and freelancing earlier, wanting to know if you think that consulting and freelance journalism are compatible. The answer was resounding “no” – not only of those of you who reacted on my blog post, but also of those familiar with the NGO and media business I spoke to offline. Some people agreed with me that the barriers between publishing and consulting actually do not make a lot of sense, because you can’t be objective, even if you never receive money from the NGO you are reporting on. But everybody agreed that the harsh reality of ...

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Microcredits revisited

Microcredits revisited
In 2008 I entered the microcredit business.That year I discovered the peer-to-peer lending platform MyC4, which lets you lend money to entrepreneurs in various African countries. My initial views on the platform were published in the German weekly “Der Freitag” but for those who don’t speak German or don’t like klicking links, here is a short round-up on MyC4: As “investor”* you can open an account with MyC4. The platform then let’s you choose from a number of open loans, which have been vetted by local partner organizations, the so-called “providers”. The lending itself is competitive – it uses the “Dutch” auction system. You can ...

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Waging Nonviolence: Senegalese protest to prevent a dynasty

Waging Nonviolence: Senegalese protest to prevent a dynasty
On February 26, the voters of Senegal will elect their next president. The country has long been the stalwart of democracy and stability in West Africa. But this changed dramatically several years ago when incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade—85 years old and in power since 2000—decided to stand for another term to pave the way for a family dynasty by installing his son, Karim Wade, as his successor. Many members of the opposition had hoped that Wade would leave office voluntarily. After all, he himself oversaw the introduction of presidential term limits, which were added to the constitution in 2008, and pledged to stay out ...

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Arms deals in Africa

Arms deals in Africa
Update: This article was just picked up and republished by A Peace of Conflict. You can find the (largely identical version) here, but be sure to check out the excellent “this week in conflict” reports on their page as well! SIPRI just published a new report on arms deals and weapons flows in sub-saharan Africa (SSA). The report offers little news for those who are familiar with the weapons market in SSA, but this actually makes it only more important. I don’t want to summarize the whole report here (it has a good two page summary included), but discuss some issues in ...

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Well done everybody! Al Shabaab is now part of al Qaida

Well done everybody! Al Shabaab is now part of al Qaida
So the Somali islamist movement al Shabaab has now sworn allegiance to al Qaida. Several officials in the United States, Ethiopia, Kenya and in the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Somalia will have silently thanked their deity at this news, as it makes it much easier to justify the ongoing invasion of Somalia and the frequent targeted assassinations against radicals on Somali soil. But this view is short sighted. It disregards the direct responsibility of U.S. anti-terrorism strategy for the ever-increasing radicalisation of fighters in Somalia. In a way Somalia and al Shabaab is the best example how the mantra of a ...

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Ethics and freelancing

I had an interesting conversation with a press relations guy and former journalist today. He currently works for the German branch of a large INGO, with which I did an internship a while back. I told him of my plans to become a freelance journalist and communications consultant and his immediate reaction was: “You can do either one, but you can’t do both.” The essence of his argument was that working for two masters (writing articles about NGOs for newspapers and teaching workshops in social media for some of the same NGOs for example) would jeopardize my independence. I would end ...

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WarIsBoring: Africa Round-Up

WarIsBoring: Africa Round-Up
Mali The regional repercussions of the fall of Gadhafi are beginning to come clear as Tuareg militants attacked a total of six towns since Jan. 17. The Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA) — the group responsible for the attacks — has been formed only recently and is believed to have many former Gadhafi mercenaries in its ranks. The group has recently claimed to have shot down a MIG bomber, probably with ground-air missiles pilfered from ammunition depots in Libya. The official objective of the MNLA is the autonomy of the Malian part of Azawad, an area that many Tuareg see as their ...

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Why Burkina?

In my previous post I explained what I exactly plan to do in Burkina, once I’m there. That leaves the little question of why I chose Burkina Faso in the first place. I will be honest: the main reason for choosing Burkina over, say, Ghana, was that my girlfriend got a job in Ouagadougou (the capital of Burkina). That alone made my decision quite easy, but it is certainly not the only argument for choosing Burkina as your base for starting out as a freelancer. First the more rational arguments: Burkina is not a highly contested market for freelance journalists. ...

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