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Published 5th December 2019

Vol 60 No 24


Nigeria

Hard economics meets political pageantry

President Buhari presides over the Federal Executive Council in the Council Chambers, Abuja. Pic: The Statehouse, Abuja
President Buhari presides over the Federal Executive Council in the Council Chambers, Abuja. Pic: The Statehouse, Abuja

Closing borders, President Buhari wants to boost local producers and stop the smugglers while most politicians look to the next election

Listening to the political class in Abuja, Lagos or Port Harcourt, you might be unaware that the country is locked in an epic battle over the direction of the national economy, still bumping along at its lowest growth rate for two decades. This battle is the highest-stakes politics. President Muhammadu Buhari and his team insist they are facing down the vested interests that smuggle in cheap Asian rice and sneak out Nigeria's subsidised petrol to neighbouring states.

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Building shaky bridges

Building Bridges
Building Bridges

The BBI report failed to deliver on the hype and looks set to produce more ethnic rivalry in the run-up to the 2022 elections

The much-hyped Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his erstwhile rival, opposition leader Raila Odinga in March 2018, was launche...


States of expectation

Copyright © Africa Confidential 2019
Copyright © Africa Confidential 2019

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Other nations are queuing up to stake their claims to self-government in the wake of the Sidama referendum result

Even before voting began in November's referendum on Ethiopia's tenth regional state, plans were advancing to form a Sidama branch of Abiy Ahmed's new ruling party, the Prosperity ...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok will probably come away empty-handed from his first trip to Washington DC since replacing the overthrown Omer el Beshir as Sudan's leader. Top of Hamdok's wish-list is that the United States end its economic sanctions against Sudan and remove its designation as a 'state sponsor of terrorism', which has been in place since 1993.

In an open letter to President Donald Trump, Sudanese intellectuals, politicians, business and civil society leaders comp...

Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok will probably come away empty-handed from his first trip to Washington DC since replacing the overthrown Omer el Beshir as Sudan's leader. Top of Hamdok's wish-list is that the United States end its economic sanctions against Sudan and remove its designation as a 'state sponsor of terrorism', which has been in place since 1993.

In an open letter to President Donald Trump, Sudanese intellectuals, politicians, business and civil society leaders compared the designation to 'using a sledgehammer to crack a nut'.

US officials have been gently encouraging thus far, but without giving any clear commitments. 'It's not flipping a light switch. It's a process,' Tibor Nagy, the administration's most senior Africa official, said last month. Nor is it something that the Trump administration can deliver by executive fiat; Congress would need to agree.

Yet patience is not a luxury that Hamdok's government can afford, and that explains why Hamdok has taken a tougher line, warning that without lifting sanctions his government risks collapsing, and Sudan breaking into multiple regional caliphates.

The designation makes Sudan a pariah state economically, as well as politically, ineligible for debt relief and financing from the IMF and World Bank. Hamdok will survive in short term but if the sanctions stay they will hold back his reforms and, perversely, strengthen the hands of the military.

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Trump talks peace

The US is trying to force a ceasefire in order to stem Russia’s growing influence as Haftar claims to be poised to take Tripoli

The attempt by eastern-based General Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army to seize Tripoli is now into its ninth month but is still unaccomplished. In October, however, afte...


Seeking special status

The Von der Leyen trip to Addis is intended to signal the opening of a new chapter in EU relations with Africa

The consensus in Brussels is that Ursula von der Leyen's European Commission is likely to prioritise EU-Africa relations far more than her predecessors. On 6 December, the new Comm...


Grasping the Eskom nettle

A new CEO has come to the electricity utility, but the government is still picking its battles carefully and change remains gradual

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni described national power utility Eskom as 'South Africa's biggest economic risk' next to low growth. The gigantic utility is an albatross around the A...


Iron back on track

A mining rights sale linked to railways sets off an iron rush of sorts and promises to open up the sub-region

The granting of the much-coveted multi-billion-dollar Simandou South iron ore concession in Guinea to a Chinese-backed consortium promises to shake up regional mining industry dyna...



Pointers

KZN plots

Opponents of President Cyril Ramaphosa in the African National Congress's biggest province intend to start a fightback at the National General Council in 2020 with a vote of no con...


The default is mine

Zambia has defaulted again on its €97 million (US$107m) loan from Italian bank Intesa San Paolo for the purchase of two C27J twin-engined military transport aircraft from Ital...


Off the hook

The first of the criminal trials in connection with Mozambique's $2bn 'tuna bonds' hidden loans scandal has ended with the surprise acquittal of Lebanese salesman Jean Boustani at ...