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Published 7th December 2018

Vol 59 No 24


Ghana

Hey, big spender!

Chart Copyright © Africa Confidential 2018
Chart Copyright © Africa Confidential 2018

The debt overhang and over-priced projects threaten the government’s social programmes and industrial policy

As Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta rose to his feet in Parliament on 15 November to deliver his 2019 budget statement, he faced scepticism about his arithmetic from the opposition benches as well as analysts overseas. Ofori-Atta, a banker whose professional instincts clash with some party political imperatives, announced a bold plan for big spending on infrastructure, promised steps towards 'A Stronger Economy for Jobs and Prosperity' and progress towards realising President Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo's celebrated vision of a 'Ghana Beyond Aid'. Although Ghana's foreign aid receipts are declining, mainly because of its newish status as lower-middle income economy, many are unconvinced by the plan to ride a wave of international borrowing towards the firm ground on which it wants to build an industrial hub for West Africa. Not only has the government failed to persuade people that its debt strategy is sustainable, it faces growing questions about the integrity of senior officials in government and their close family members. Horror stories are circulating about slews of deliberately mispriced contracts, mimicking the pattern of the previous government and in some cases surpassing it.

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Clean-up gets murky

Hold-ups in promised action against pollution in Ogoni region in the Niger Delta are multiplying and tension is rising

A long-delayed environmental restoration programme in Ogoni is finally in the works after decades of oil spills and fires left it one of the most polluted places in Africa. And y...


Fund in the firing line

The national investment fund is the latest state body to find itself facing investigations over Zuma-era corruption and state capture

South Africa's Public Investment Corporation, Africa's largest money manager with assets of more than 1.8 trillion rand (US$132 billion), could prove to be at the heart of a matrix...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Those criticising the Trump Administration for its lack of interest in Africa may find themselves being more careful what they wish for. About two years late, a form of United States policy towards Africa is taking shape sometimes with the overt connivance of regional leaders, other times as part of a critique of certain regimes.

For now, Trump's favourites are easy enough to identify. Top of the class is Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el Sisi who was the first international leader to...

Those criticising the Trump Administration for its lack of interest in Africa may find themselves being more careful what they wish for. About two years late, a form of United States policy towards Africa is taking shape sometimes with the overt connivance of regional leaders, other times as part of a critique of certain regimes.

For now, Trump's favourites are easy enough to identify. Top of the class is Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el Sisi who was the first international leader to congratulate Trump on his election win in November 2016. Sisi has kept up the momentum, tying himself close to the US's regional allies, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, and their policies in Africa and the Middle East.

Algeria and Nigeria, two former nationalist bastions, are boosting counter-terrorism cooperation with the US. We hear that Nigeria is making a regional pitch, alongside Chad and Niger, for US aerial surveillance intelligence and, most recently, drone strikes against positions suspected to be controlled by Islamic State in West Africa and their former allies in Boko Haram.

Then there are the oppositional positions. Tibor Nagy, newly appointed Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, promises a tough line on election shenanigans in Congo-Kinshasa. Also, a group in the US Congress called on President Paul Kagame to drop all charges against would-be presidential candidate Diane Rwigara.

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Paris clashes with Moscow

The country is fast becoming a locus for confrontation between Russia and France as the UN mission’s mandate expires

Because of Russian disagreement, the mandate of the UN's Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic was not renewed in November. Russia had o...


The year of the empty threat

Twelve months into Uhuru’s second term, Kenyans are taking stock, and taking aim at the failures in the anti-corruption campaign

Commentators and pundits have been giving their verdicts on the first year of President Uhuru Kenyatta's second term of office since the anniversary fell on 28 November. There is s...


Sisi & Sons

The President’s allies are drafting changes to the constitution to entrench his powers. Sisi’s sons are taking a greater role

President Abdel Fattah el Sisi's long-anticipated plan to change the constitution to extend his term in office has begun to take shape. He began his second term as president in Jun...


Mutharika’s uphill battle

An unpopular president faces stiff challenges on all fronts as he seeks to build an election-winning alliance

President Peter Mutharika faces an uphill task to secure a second term in next May's elections as corruption scandals, a deputy-gone-rogue, and a former president and formidable op...


Poll fight for Farmajo

A former Shabaab leader stands a good chance of election in South West State and Mogadishu is determined to stop him

President Mohammed Abdullah Mohammed 'Farmajo' and his government experienced temporary relief on 2 December when the electoral commission supervising South West State's presidenti...


Détente derailed

Government moves to change electoral law to keep a presidential challenger off the ballot paper have reinvigorated the opposition

The road to compromise has proved short in Niamey, and now the opposition is mobilising a fresh campaign of protest over the government's attempts to reform electoral law so as to ...



Pointers

Boycott threatens landslide

President Faure Gnassingbé's ruling party, l'Union pour la république (Unir), promises to sweep the board in the parliamentary election on 20 December – but on...


Democratic deficit

The six-nation East African Community has taken a proactive stance on regional trade in recent years, waging a battle against the United States by threatening to impose tariffs on ...


End for Trovoada

On 3 December, Jorge Bom Jesus, the leader of the Movimento de Libertação de São Tomé e Príncipe/Partido Social Democrata (MLSTP/PSD), was sworn ...


Blow to jihadists

Intelligence analysts believe Malian jihadists suffered a serious setback when French troops of Opération Barkhane killed Amadou Koufa, the militia leader. Koufa, who was am...