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Published 12th May 2017

Vol 58 No 10


Nigeria

Bitter pills for the politicians

Newly-released Chibok girls. Pic: Olatunji obasa/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images
Newly-released Chibok girls. Pic: Olatunji obasa/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

The lack of reliable information about Buhari's health has prompted ambitious politicians to seek to replace him in 2019, or before

If the management of news about President Muhammadu Buhari's illness had been deliberately designed to sow fear and despondency in the nation, its authors could hardly have done a more effective job. At every turn, there has been obfuscation, contradiction or just a worrying absence of any information at all. Buhari's latest departure on a medical trip to London, on 7 May, was announced just after he had welcomed 82 of the recently freed Chibok schoolgirls to the Presidential Villa at Aso Rock. The girls, kidnapped by the Boko Haram militia over three years ago, were released as part of negotiations between their captors and Nigeria's security services.

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Everyone's fault but Zuma's

Copyright © Africa Confidential 2017

The beleaguered President believes the best defence is attack as he blames white business and the West for his woes

President Jacob Zuma has been trying to undermine his critics by claiming that all public attacks on his actions – whether in the media, from opposition parties or within the...


No place to hide

The once popular Jacob Zuma finds his room for manoeuvre ever more restricted as both supporters and enemies box him in

Humiliatingly shunned by both the powerful business community and the forces of labour and the left, President Jacob Zuma is on the defensive as never before. He has had to abandon...



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THE INSIDE VIEW

Data-mining is coming to an African election near you. President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election campaign has contracted Cambridge Analytica, the data company widely credited with having swung last year's United States' presidential poll for Donald Trump and Britain's European Union referendum for 'Leave' with its digital targeting campaigns on social media.

Owned by American Robert Mercer, a billionaire hedge fund owner and biggest donor to the Trump campaign, Cambridge Analytica paid F...

Data-mining is coming to an African election near you. President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election campaign has contracted Cambridge Analytica, the data company widely credited with having swung last year's United States' presidential poll for Donald Trump and Britain's European Union referendum for 'Leave' with its digital targeting campaigns on social media.

Owned by American Robert Mercer, a billionaire hedge fund owner and biggest donor to the Trump campaign, Cambridge Analytica paid Facebook and other third-party data companies for information about potential voters in the USA and Britain. It then bombarded voters with social media posts, adverts and news snippets of varying degrees of veracity. In Kenya, where internet and Facebook use is high, such tactics would hugely help the Jubilee party.

In countries such as Russia, Iran and Moldova, Cambridge Analytica's operations have proved highly successful. With some staff drawn from military intelligence, it is also expert in psychological warfare. The spectre of a highly secretive data mining company using such techniques is raising serious concern among Kenyan activists. They point out that wounds have barely healed from the 2007 post-election violence. Electoral regulations are yet to catch up with the data-mining age: a new report describes Britain's electoral laws as 'weak and helpless' in the face of such cyber techniques. The same would apply in Kenya.

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Spinning Africa in Europe

AC follows its report on lobbyists in Washington with a survey of 'reputation managers' active in London and Brussels

Located within walking distance of the European Union institutions, Rue Belliard is the Brussels equivalent of Washington DC's K Street and the centre of the lobbying industry in E...


Uhuru spends, Raila promises

Opposition and government are outbidding each other with their spending promises amid signs of electoral disillusionment

President Uhuru Kenyatta is demanding that Parliament pass a supplementary budget bill to complete the near-impossible task of 'bringing down basic food prices and cost of living' ...


Spat with FQM continues

One of the biggest mining companies wants assurance its directors won't be arrested when they arrive to attend board meetings

The British-based mining company First Quantum Minerals Limited has written to the Attorney General to seek assurances that none of the directors of Kansanshi Mining PLC, which FQM...


Polls provide no answers

Election apathy and crony capitalism remain untouched by Algeria's latest brush with democracy

Many of Algeria's décideurs – those who hold the reins of power – are relieved that France's presidential election saw a younger generation of establishment cand...


Majors push out the minnows

Big oil has moved in on Senegal's nascent gas sector, shouldering smaller players like Timis aside, albeit greatly to his profit

Rapid manoeuvring by some of the world's largest oil producers to take advantage of Senegal's resource boom appears to have removed maverick businessman Vasile Frank Timis, the sel...



Pointers

Thiam verdict makes waves

After a six-day trial, former Mining Minister Mahmoud Thiam was convicted in a New York court on 3 May of laundering US$8.5 million in bribes relating to mining licence corruption ...


An avenger unmasked

All the masked vigilantes in comic books have secret identities but few expected a member of the Niger Delta Avengers, one of the region's most effective militant groups, to be a m...


What Bongo owes

The International Monetary Fund has confirmed the dire state of the Gabonese economy in its Regional Economic Outlook report for sub-Saharan Africa, released on 9 May. Far worse th...