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Published 22nd January 2016

Vol 57 No 2

After the 'rising' – now reform and realism

Chart © Africa Confidential 2016
Chart © Africa Confidential 2016

The new year started with a host of commodity price crashes, runs on currencies and warnings about mounting debts

Bankers' bets, based on glossy analytical reports about Africa's lion economies and a doubling of its gross domestic product by 2025, were discreetly torn up last year. In their place are downbeat prognoses about Africa's position in a much harsher global economic and political climate. For the irrepressible optimists, this year's hard times will concentrate minds. Take Nigeria, where President Muhammadu Buhari's government says it is determined to combat the falling oil prices with an expansionist or Keynesian programme of capital investment and to restructure the economy to end its chronic dependence on oil exports. It would certainly help if Nigeria's top industrialist, Aliko Dangote, has as much success with his oil refining and petrochemical businesses as he has with cement production. Thanks to Dangote's astute financial calculations and political diplomacy, he has made Nigeria a net exporter of cement. He plans to do the same with petroleum products and petrochemicals, if he can hold his nerve. The value of his investments have already fallen by over 20% on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.


Currency crunch

It will take more than devaluation to shield economies from tougher market conditions and political risks

There is a strong sense of déjà vu in the policy dilemmas that African governments face as national currencies weaken and national debts mount. Three decades ago, emissaries from t...

Pentagon expands in Africa

The US Africa Command is improving its logistics south of the Sahara because it believes insurgent threats are growing

Africa is home to 'growing threats and opportunities', says the United States Africa Command (Africom) Commander, General David M. Rodriguez. The USA is accordingly improving its a...


Even in the annals of Nigerian corruption scandals, the latest revelations about the diversion of state funds under the presidencies of Goodluck Jonathan and Umaru Musa Yar'Adua are breaking records. On 18 January, Information Minister Lai Mohammed announced that 55 people had stolen 1.3 trillion naira (US$6.5 billion) in 2006-...

Even in the annals of Nigerian corruption scandals, the latest revelations about the diversion of state funds under the presidencies of Goodluck Jonathan and Umaru Musa Yar'Adua are breaking records. On 18 January, Information Minister Lai Mohammed announced that 55 people had stolen 1.3 trillion naira (US$6.5 billion) in 2006-13. He said the miscreants included 15 former state governors.

Last year's audit of oil operations failed to explain how at least $10 bn. of export revenue had not been transferred to the Federation Account. Last September, Deputy Oil Minister Emmanuel Kachikwu said international oil companies had been overpaid some $10 bn. through a system of tax breaks and over-invoicing on services costs.
Arms deals were the other favoured means to divert state funds. Investigations of two parallel procurements continue: the first targets Colonel Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Advisor, who is accused of presiding over $2 bn. of fraudulent arms deals which allowed Jonathan's government to fund its 2015 election campaign. Then in another $2 bn. arms scandal, ten generals and a colonel are in the frame for running another corrupt network.

The week's revelations have raised two questions for a nearly unshockable Nigerian public: how far into the heart of the Jonathan government will these investigations go? And most pertinently for the future, where are the institutional constraints to stop the same thing happening again?

Read more

AU force eyes Burundi

The AU standby force's advocates want it to deploy, but financial, administrative and diplomatic hurdles abound

The African Union is making noises about deploying its long-awaited standby force to Burundi. Since it was formed in 2001, the mantra of the AU has been 'African solutions to Afric...

A cure that could kill

The West wants a government that can invite it in to attack ISIS. But any government that does so could disintegrate and leave something worse

Foreign interests, led by the United States and France, favour military intervention in Libya to curb the expansion of 'Islamic State' (IS/ISIS/Da'ish). The Islamist militia's atta...

Fighting flares in Tete

Refugees have crossed into Malawi after clashes between the government and Renamo. Who is guiding Frelimo policy?

Mozambican villagers at a refugee camp at Kapise, Malawi, say they have fled government security forces who burned crops and homes in Tete, sources at the camp have told Africa Con...

Democracy sans frontières

The first round of the presidential election was chaotic and flawed but the end of a disastrous transition is widely welcomed

The questions over the conduct and legitimacy of the presidential and legislative elections were well known (AC Vol 56 No 18). The electoral register was not worth its name, violen...

Blow to yuan plan

China declines to circulate its currency in Zimbabwe and experts say that would do little to revive the economy anyway

President Robert Mugabe has come unstuck in his plans to circulate the Chinese currency, the yuan, in Zimbabwe. His government had hoped that such a project would ease a growing li...

Al Shabaab sees off Da'ish

Al Qaida's loyalists ruthlessly purged the militia of Da'ish sympathisers after they tried to take over

For many Somali government officials, the recent visit by a senior British general confirmed what many already knew: sticking to the Western agenda of security fears earns more res...

Africa tries to keep up

The continent risks being left behind as global powers make deals. An African Free Trade Area might help but looks unlikely

The World Trade Organisation made its first trip to Sub-Saharan Africa in its 20-year history last month and considering how few good results it has had recently, the Tenth WTO Min...


Banda on the run

Ex-President Joyce Banda is being investigated after she was repeatedly named in connection with the Cashgate affair in court, the Anti-Corruption Bureau has announced. It has not ...

The campaign gaol trail

Former Prime Minister Hama Amadou, in custody since November charged with child-trafficking, is set to contest the presidential election from his cell after being denied bail on ap...

Frail constitutions

To little fanfare and amid speculation that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's health has worsened again, Algeria finally unveiled its new constitution. It offers a clearer separatio...

Blaming Blaise

Ouagadougou is awash with speculation about connections between the jihadists who attacked the capital on 15 January and ex-President Blaise Compaoré's now-disbanded Praetorian gua...