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Published 7th October 2011

Vol 52 No 20


Good boom, bad timing

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

RWANDA: A woman works in the rice paddies.

Andy Johnstone / Panos



Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

Asian demand for African agricultural and mineral commodities will not fully compensate the losses caused by the West’s economic slowdown

Africa has picked a really bad time to launch its economic boom, says one finance minister resignedly. In Washington for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund annual meetings on 23-25 September, he had just heard the Bank’s Chief Economist for Africa, Shantayanan Devarajan, talk about the continent’s ‘robust growth’. The Bank puts this at about 4.8% on average in 2011, with the IMF projecting it at 5.2%. Of the world’s 15 fastest-growing economies, Devarajan explained, 10 were from Africa, including Ghana, where the start of oil and gas export should produce gross domestic product growth of over 13% this year.


Troubled exit for Banda

Sata owes victory to the fear of a return to rampant corruption; he must also thank those who persuaded Banda not to rig the election

Rupiah Bwezani Banda was on the verge of declaring himself winner of the 20 September presidential poll after realising he had lost the elections to Michael Chilufya Sata’s Patriot...


Ellen wants first-round win

The President must take over 50% of the vote in the first round to avoid a far more difficult contest in the second

The battle for the soul of Africa’s oldest republic is raging, with a war of words and dirty tricks between the governing Unity Party (UP) and the other 15 political parties contes...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Popular frustration is growing around Africa’s richest revolution. Although Libya’s Transitional National Council, now formally recognised by the United Nations, has inherited foreign holdings of over US$160 billion, it is struggling to meet local commitments such as delayed state salaries.

Most of the reserves have been frozen in foreign accounts, including about $65 bn. held by the Libyan Investment Authority, which is to reveal all its holdings next week. Western gov...

Popular frustration is growing around Africa’s richest revolution. Although Libya’s Transitional National Council, now formally recognised by the United Nations, has inherited foreign holdings of over US$160 billion, it is struggling to meet local commitments such as delayed state salaries.

Most of the reserves have been frozen in foreign accounts, including about $65 bn. held by the Libyan Investment Authority, which is to reveal all its holdings next week. Western governments agreed on 1 September to unfreeze some $16 bn., which could bankroll Libya’s government for a year, but much less has been forthcoming, say frustrated officials in Tripoli. France, they claim, is reluctant to release funds unless they are used for business with French companies.

This week, Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril warned that Libya will not have a new interim government until its forces have consolidated control over Sirte and Bani Walid, which could take weeks, even months. The TNC pledged to maintain ten consumer subsidies and abolish import tariffs on foodstuffs. Almost a million lambs are being brought in for Eid el Adha on 7 November. This will do little to pacify the Berber fighters from the Nafousa Mountains or their comrades from Misurata who are leading the assault on Sirte. Both groups, along with the Islamist fighters under Tripoli’s military commander Abdel Hakim Belhadj, demand a greater share of power for those who did most to oust Moammar el Gadaffi’s regime.

Read more

Election fails to stir passions

Paul Biya heads for almost certain victory over a fractured and uninspiring opposition, leaving voters more apathetic than indignant

An atmosphere of apathy clings to Cameroon’s presidential election on 9 October. In power for 28 years now, Paul Biya, 78, will once again present himself for re-election, challeng...


Banking on the move

Developed jointly by British software firm Sagentia and Kenya’s Safaricom with the help of a British grant, M-Pesa banking services are a success story. Pesa means ‘money’ in Kiswa...


Al Shabaab sets the agenda

Little appears to connect the UN-brokered road map for political reconciliation with the ambitions of Al Shabaab or Western strategists

The suicide bombing by Al Haraka al Shabaab al Mujahideen on 4 October killed over 70 people and injured hundreds more. This was the jihadists’ response to increasing drone attacks...


Soldiers shooting at dawn

At dawn on 29 September, a group of soldiers shot into the air on the bridge across the River Wouri that links central Douala with the industrial suburb of Bonabéri. They unfurle...


Ministry of power struggles

Accusations of corruption in the electricity industry persist, as do the chronic shortages that undermine the economy and public services

A scandal in the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has brought attention to a troubled area of government, greed among members of parliament and Tanzania’s chronic electricity ...


Getting the right numbers

It is the biggest economic success story in Africa. The growth of mobile telephony is phenomenal – in numbers, in jobs created and in the economic development it is driving. African software engineers are pioneering the development of payment systems over mobile telephones, first in Kenya, then Rwanda and South Africa, and now Nigeria. Until the late 1990s, few mobile phone operators regarded Africa as a viable mass market. They lacked accurate information about the continent’s spending power and a vision of how services could be developed. Initially, most companies – except for South Africa’s MTN – steered clear of Nigeria (AC Vol 43 No 20, Scrambling for Africa). Now it is one of the world’s biggest telecommunications markets

Between 1998 and 2008, the number of mobile phone subscribers in Africa increased from 4 million to 260 million while network coverage increased from 10% to over 60% of the contine...


Uhuru looks back in anger

President Kibaki’s heir-apparent mulls his defence at the Hague while his allies ponder whether to hand him over in the event of a trial

Throughout September, Kenyans were glued to television screens as the International Criminal Court Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, presided over the confirmation of the charges of ...



Pointers

Those were the days

Publication of Simon Mann’s memoirs have been delayed until the end of October. The former Special Air Service officer was released 33 years early in 2009, after conviction in the ...


The loot looted

Suspicion has been growing in Nigeria that some of the billions recovered from corrupt public officials may have been stolen again. A human rights group, the Socio-Economic Rights ...


Foreign policy aid

South Africa is nearly ready to launch an international aid agency to advance its strategic foreign policy goals. The South African Development Partnership Agency (SADPA) will be p...