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Published 15th November 2013

Vol 54 No 23


Nigeria

Economic giants change places

Buses and crowds of people in Oshodi market, Lagos. Jacob Silberberg / Panos
Buses and crowds of people in Oshodi market, Lagos. Jacob Silberberg / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

New trends in trade and finance will change political as well as economic ties on the continent

In the coming weeks, some statisticians in Abuja could shake up Africa’s economic and diplomatic hierarchy. The boffins look set to chart the rise of Nigeria’s economy to become Africa’s biggest by the end of next year. At the same time, this would confirm the relative economic decline of South Africa and more recently, of Egypt. Nigeria, with a population of 170 million compared to South Africa’s 50 million, has been growing at about 7% over the past decade, compared to SA’s average growth rate of around 3.4%.

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Self-inflicted wounds

Many of South Africa’s difficulties are primarily internal, caused by policy paralysis and the governing African National Congress (ANC)’s intense disputes with its par...


Politics versus the budget

Promises of a ten per cent cut in state spending at the start of the election campaign defy political gravity

No official reason was given for the postponement of President Goodluck Jonathan's budget speech to the National Assembly, to 19 November. But it is safe bet to assume that last-mi...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Congo Kinshasa’s President Joseph Kabila will get an immediate boost from his army’s defeat of the Mouvement du 23 mars rebels. Yet Congo’s soldiers could not have won without strong backing from South Africa and Tanzania whose soldiers led a beefed up intervention force under the auspices of the United Nations. People in the eastern Kivu provinces will get a respite from the conflicts that have plagued the region for a decade but it is not yet peace in Congo’s time.

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Congo Kinshasa’s President Joseph Kabila will get an immediate boost from his army’s defeat of the Mouvement du 23 mars rebels. Yet Congo’s soldiers could not have won without strong backing from South Africa and Tanzania whose soldiers led a beefed up intervention force under the auspices of the United Nations. People in the eastern Kivu provinces will get a respite from the conflicts that have plagued the region for a decade but it is not yet peace in Congo’s time.

As M23’s representatives were negotiating the terms of surrender with Congolese diplomats in Kampala, senior UN officials were announcing the next target in the area – the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda, some of whose soldiers have links to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. That partly explains why Rwanda, which has a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, has drawn back from the front-line in the fight. After being accused by the Kinshasa government and a panel of UN experts of backing M23, Rwanda faced censure and aid cuts.

South Africa and Tanzania led the calls for tougher action, setting out their military plan last year in the wake of the UN force’s failure to protect civilians and defeat the deadly militias in Congo. Certainly, the defeat of M23 is a victory for robust peace enforcement and may promote much tougher rules of engagement in the UN. Yet given the ructions over the M23 negotiations this week, more diplomatic work is needed to rebuild any trust between Kinshasa and Kigali.

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Struggles with the economy

The ruling party’s skill at winning elections is as great as its grasp of the economy is weak. It is casting about for help and inspiration

It is becoming clear that the cost of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front’s July electoral victory is the loss of the financial credibility built up by Tendai...


ZANU-PF power struggles resume

With the election out of the way, the party resumes the postponed battle for the succession – and the knives are out

For a party that could so skilfully engineer the July national election, the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front has been curiously inept at managing its own inte...


Alarm over new debts

After the cancellation of much foreign debt, the government has embarked on a commercial borrowing spree

The government is on a credit binge and is taking on billions of dollars’ worth of loans. Its new-found creditworthiness is based on wealth from mineral resources and on debt...


Little leadership and less oil

Ali Zeidan has kept his grip on the premiership but financial pressures, oil blockades and secession threats in the east and south are crowding in

The recent failure of the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Justice and Construction Party (JCP) and its allies to remove Prime Minister Ali Zeidan – whether via a vote of the Genera...


Angry Koroma lashes out at the press

Amidst growing intolerance of dissent, police threw two journalists into prison after the President took offence at a newspaper article

The biggest media crackdown since the civil war ended in 2002 is underway in Sierra Leone. Two editors of the Independent Observer newspaper, Jonathan Leigh and Bai Bai Sesay, face...


Election outcome still in the balance

The difficult part is now over and polling passed off without major incident, although a second round of voting may be needed to decide the ultimate winner

Four-and-a-half years of transition finally came to a peaceful conclusion on 25 October when Malagasies went to the polls for the first round of the presidential elections. After p...


Luanda shouts back at Lisbon

A government newspaper calls Portugal corrupt and ignorant after it starts an investigation into allies of Dos Santos for financial crimes

Reports of criminal investigations in Portugal into Angolan money-laundering have angered President José Eduardo dos Santos. Relations between the two countries were ‘...


Media Bill signals fear of scrutiny

The restrictive new law looks to be the first shot in a government attempt to narrow the space for dissent and criticism

After the mass media claimed that security forces were responsible for looting and burning sections of the Westgate Shopping Mall during the recent terrorist attack, President Uhur...


Rocky road to gas economy

Political rows and bad laws are undermining the prospects for the billion dollar gas industry

His excitement was not misplaced: ‘We are now full throttle ahead to the gas economy,’ said Energy and Minerals Minister Sospeter Muhongo. He was speaking at the launch...


MPLA insider faces charges in Brazil

Another key bilateral relationship of Angola’s could also come under stress after Interpol issued a Red Notice on the owner of Angolan soccer club Kabuscorp FC, General Bento...



Pointers

Country for old men

Hopes of a credible alternative to SWAPO in next year’s elections were dashed when last week’s congress of the Rally for Democracy and Progress ended in bitter recrimin...


Abductions fuel anxiety

Police officers and their accomplices may be behind the current wave of kidnapping, private sector security sources have told Africa Confidential. The abductions are fuelling publi...


Vedanta cools row

India’s Vedanta Resources has moved to placate President Michael Sata after claims that the head of its Zambian subsidiary, Kishore Kumar, had insulted the Lusaka government....


Anambra kicks off the race

The governorship election in Anambra State on 16 November will kick off the race for the national polls in 2015, even if the formal opening may be six months away. Most importantly...