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Published 11th May 2012

Vol 53 No 10


Ethiopia

Development over democracy

A nun on her way back from harvesting sugar cane in the grounds of the Sebeta Getesemani Nunnery, which is home to 105 nuns and over 200 orphans. Petterik Wiggers / Panos
A nun on her way back from harvesting sugar cane in the grounds of the Sebeta Getesemani Nunnery, which is home to 105 nuns and over 200 orphans. Petterik Wiggers / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

International financial institutions rank Ethiopia as one of the fastest growing economies but debates rage over its political strategy and regional role

As business and political leaders descend on Addis Ababa for the World Economic Forum on 9-11 May, Premier Meles Zenawi’s government will be trumpeting its economic achievements. Visitors expecting a war-torn land scarred by continuing famine will be shocked. Yet the economic claims of the government, the World Bank and other international agencies (which depend on state cooperation) deserve closer analysis. On several big issues, Meles has become the voice of Africa and de facto leader of the New Partnership for African Development. He attends Group of 8 and G-20 meetings, says the right things about climate change and gets on well with United States President Barack Obama and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron on Somalia.


Running water, vaulting ambition

Four big hydroelectric projects are in operation, with another four under construction. They include Gilgel Gibe III on the Omo River, a dam which, say critics, will significantly ...


Charity ends at home

Recession in the industrialised world has cut into financial support for NGOs and private think-tanks in Africa

Civic activists and concerned citizens are threatened by a steep drop in charitable donations. The funding model of voluntary donations for good works is a victim of the Western ec...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

The past week of elections in Britain, France and Greece offer mixed tidings to Africa. The big economic message – and the voters’ insistent rejection of austerity – is that Europe’s economic travails are far from over. That means weaker European demand for African exports, as well as shrinking and more conditional aid budgets. Only Germany, which boasts a 6 billion euro Africa programme, is boosting aid in 2012, mainly to resource-rich and strategic countries.

France’s...

The past week of elections in Britain, France and Greece offer mixed tidings to Africa. The big economic message – and the voters’ insistent rejection of austerity – is that Europe’s economic travails are far from over. That means weaker European demand for African exports, as well as shrinking and more conditional aid budgets. Only Germany, which boasts a 6 billion euro Africa programme, is boosting aid in 2012, mainly to resource-rich and strategic countries.

France’s election of President François Hollande on 7 May and the departure of Nicolas Sarkozy was seen as generally good news by Africa’s reformers and as at least a challenge by the kleptocrats. Hollande’s appointment of lawyer William Bourdon as advisor breaks with tradition. Bourdon has pursued corruption and human rights cases against African leaders such as Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compaoré and Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang, who had always relied on France’s protection.

French Africa policy could change for the better if Hollande maintains this break with the Françafrique networks. His likely appointment of others such as former head of Agence Française de Développement Jean-Michel Severino and Algerian-born Euro MP Kader Arif suggests a substantial shift from the Sarkozy-Jacques Chirac era. However, the closeness of Paris to the pillars of la Francophonie in Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal is unlikely to alter, even if Hollande shows more steel in directing French aid to the poorest countries such as Niger and Chad.

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Sata’s health and other scares

Question marks are multiplying about Sata’s judgement, his choice of regional friends and his well-being

Even before his famous victory in last year’s presidential election, Zambians heard rumours about Michael Sata being unwell. When he unexpectedly flew to India in March for medical...


Three days in April

President Bingu wa Mutharika’s heart stopped during a meeting on 5 April with a member of parliament, Agnes Penemulungu. ‘He just stopped talking and tipped over and the woman scre...


Presiding over chaos

The presidential election is likely to go ahead but pitched battles over the new constitution are set to continue

Political turmoil has followed the rejection of several candidates for the presidential election, including the Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat el Shater and the Salafist hopeful, Haz...


New financiers, new disputes

After falling out with the World Bank, President Déby wants to boost his political popularity with cheap fuel but China is arguing over the bill

President Idriss Déby Itno is using his country’s significant oil resources to work in his favour and it seems to be paying off. For the first time, locally refined fuel is availab...


Discontent over Wynter

The growing influence of the Patriotic Front Secretary General, Wynter Kabimba, constitutes the starkest example of the PF’s statist tendencies. He has been a source of controversy...


Champagne for the candidates

Both Koroma and Bio try to shrug off accusations of chicanery and greed as they prepare for an epic presidential struggle

When the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) chose Julius Maada Bio to compete against President Ernest Bai Koroma last year, the pro-government media reckoned the November 2012 pol...


Israel and the energy crisis

Cairo’s cancellation of gas exports to Israel owe more to commerical interests than ideological conviction

The state-owned Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (Egas) had plenty of reasons to end the gas export deal with Israel’s East Mediterranean Gas (EMG) and the Cairo government had...


Lowassa plans his comeback

Although he resigned over the Richmond scandal, the former prime minister doesn’t believe his career is over

Chama cha Mapinduzi’s party machine is receiving its five-yearly overhaul. The governing party’s elections for leadership at neighbourhood, branch, ward and district, regional and ...


A long-distance run for Banda

The new President is trying to correct her predecessor’s blunders and persuade the people to face tough times ahead

President Joyce Banda has formed an inclusive government, appointing former enemies as well as allies in an effort to maintain a united front on economic problems. ‘The economy is ...


Keep smiling

In tough economic times, Islamist Premier Benkirane charms his critics while Mohammed VI in the Palace tries to keep pace

The economy is not growing fast enough to create the jobs needed, police continue to clash with protestors around the country and the Prime Minister’s coalition partners are not ha...



Pointers

Killing on the quiet

The Interior Minister, Edouard Nduwimana, ordered Human Rights Watch to cancel a news conference in Bujumbura on 2 May at which the campaigning organisation had planned to release ...


No go Sanogo

The Islamist burning of the shrine of Sidi Mahmoud Ben Amar in the ancient city of Timbuktu last week has compounded the national trauma of March’s military coup and the loss of mu...


More time for the junta

The Economic Community of West African States has given the confused military junta twelve months to ease itself from power. However, the United Nations is holding out for an immed...


Unrecognisable

The Hong Kong oil company PetroTrans now looks unlikely to invest in the key port of Berbera after negotiators pressed too hard for formal recognition of Somaliland, we hear.