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Published 5th October 2012

Vol 53 No 20


Nigeria

Financial faultlines

Escavros, Niger Delta. Petterik Wiggers / Panos
Escavros, Niger Delta. Petterik Wiggers / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

Rising oil theft, the insurgency in the North and fuel subsidy fraud make it hard for the government to survive unless it agrees to hard-hitting reforms

So far, those blocking reform are winning hands down in the running battles with reformers in the government. Yet their victory could prove to be a hollow one if they bankrupt the Treasury in the process. As President Goodluck Jonathan prepares to read the 2013 budget in the National Assembly on 11 October, which estimates state spending of 4,929 billion naira (US$31.11 bn.), some economists in Nigeria question whether its targets are achievable without massive foreign borrowing.


Miners get bad reviews

Beny Steinmetz Resource Group and Rusal are in the government’s sights as it prepares to publish its review of the major mining contracts

A review of Guinea’s biggest mining contracts due this month will raise new questions about the future of the US$10 billion Simandou iron-ore project. The report will also test the...


Come if you must

There is next to no political consensus in Mali itself for military intervention, however much support the UN and Ecowas can muster

President Dioncounda Traoré’s formal request to the United Nations was clear. On 18 September, he asked for a resolution for military intervention, under Chapter 7 of the UN Charte...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

African finance ministers, bankers and economists met on 4 October at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris to exchange ideas on promoting youth employment. Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo said chronic unemployment linked the insurgencies in the Niger Delta and in northern Nigeria. Others such as Ecobank’s Temitope Oshikoya ...

African finance ministers, bankers and economists met on 4 October at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris to exchange ideas on promoting youth employment. Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo said chronic unemployment linked the insurgencies in the Niger Delta and in northern Nigeria. Others such as Ecobank’s Temitope Oshikoya and the African Development Bank’s Chief Economist Mthuli Ncube called for more investment in technical and vocational training. Currently, such training gets between 2-6% of education budgets.

Arend van Wamelen from McKinsey’s office in South Africa reeled off statistics about African employment: today the continent’s workforce is 382 million, of which 42% are employed outside farming; and 18% of the new wage-paying jobs are in the retail and hospitality sectors. By 2020, Africa will have another 122 mn. workers and by 2035, its workforce will be bigger than China’s or India’s. More than 48% of Africans will go to secondary school by 2020 but business leaders are still reluctant to invest in skills and training.

The World Bank, which produces its own tome on job creation this year, emphasises financial sustainability. Since four out of five workers in Africa are farmers or self-employed (8 mn. out of the 10 mn. new workers every year), the priority should be to make smallholder farming more productive, and therefore profitable. That would help sustain investments in education and keep them relevant.

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Mali a l’Amisom

Momentum is building for international backing for the proposed military intervention in Mali to expel the jihadists.


The grand corruption trap

The nine agreements signed between the Khartoum and Juba governments on 27 September will throw the focus back on to the appalling living conditions in both states. The agreements include a deal on resuming oil production in South Sudan. Economic conditions in both countries worsened sharply after Juba halted oil production in January in protest at what it said was massive cheating by the Khartoum regime on arrangements to share oil revenue and the charges that Juba paid to export its oil via Port Sudan

Expectations are high that restarting oil production in South Sudan will provide an economic boost to both Sudans. How much of a boost depends on how far governance standards are i...


Courting foreign business

The new government wants to win back the confidence of foreign investors but all it has to offer is warmed-up policies from Mubarak’s era

At the end of September, an Egyptian investment bank, the Beltone Financial, held a conference in Cairo for its international clients, heralding a ‘New Dawn’ for the Egyptian econo...


Sam stays on the ticket

As the official election campaign gets under way, the President decides to keep his beleaguered deputy on the ticket

President Ernest Bai Koroma has decided to keep his Vice-President, Samuel Sam-Sumana, on the governing All People’s Congress ticket in the 17 November general elections. Koroma sp...


First steps to stopping the stealing

A serious campaign to stem corruption will require a regulatory framework. In December 2009, the Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GRSS) published the Southern Sudan Anti-...


Partial win for Guebuza

The President maintained his grip on the party at the Pemba Congress but there were still some surprises

The tenth Congress of the Frente de Libertação de Moçambique ended on 29 September but President Armando Guebuza did not get everything he wanted: he won’t be able to wait out a pr...


Election tax axed

A major electoral controversy came to an end in mid-September when President Ernest Bai Koroma reversed the decision of the National Electoral Commission Chairwoman, Christiana Tho...


Campaigning begins

The major parties are setting their sights on the coming elections but they have little confidence in their leaders

The two main political parties are moving into campaign mode. The High Court has finally acceded to President Robert Mugabe’s request to delay the outstanding by-elections any time...


Takeover at Kismayo

Kenya takes Al Shabaab by surprise but raises questions about its choice of leaders for the port city and its ability to manage the politics

The battle for Kismayo was anything but the decisive contest many expected, we can report, now that more details of the fighting have emerged. Al Haraka al Shabaab al Mujahideen ha...



Pointers

Un-persons

Guinea-Bissau’s appearance at the United Nations normally attracts no fanfare but this year there was much anticipation when its interim President, Raimundo Pereira, overthrown in...


Jonglei flashpoint

The Khartoum regime was air dropping supplies to rebel militia in South Sudan as its negotiators prepared to sign the 27 September peace agreements with Juba, the United Nations re...