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Published 6th February 2015

Vol 56 No 3


A year of decisions after a decade of growth

Sub-Saharan Africa's economic performance chart
Sub-Saharan Africa's economic performance chart

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As China slows down and the US dollar strengthens, will African governments try to diversify and industrialise their economies?

Africa, with its 1.2 billion people, will again be the continent that achieves the fastest economic growth this year but its monied cheerleaders will have pause for thought as some harsh realities hit home. The six biggest economies – Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa – all face their own political demons. These range from insurgencies, worsening corruption and youth unemployment to messy successions and national elections.

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Lots of gunboats, little diplomacy

High political tensions and a flood of weaponry into the Niger Delta presage trouble in this month’s elections

The risk of violent clashes in the Niger Delta is increasing as the political contest heats up ahead of the presidential and governorship elections, scheduled for 14 and 28 Februar...


Doubts over banks sell-off

Privatisation looms for the state’s big stake in banking but the public could end up paying the debts of ex-President Ben Ali’s cronies



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

The scowl on the face of Nigeria’s Foreign Minister Aminu Bashir Wali spoke volumes as he emerged from a meeting at the Sheraton hotel on 29 January. Earlier that day, Nigeria had suffered the indignity of its internal security failings being scrutinised by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council at the AU summit.

Two weeks earlier, Ghana’s Presi...

The scowl on the face of Nigeria’s Foreign Minister Aminu Bashir Wali spoke volumes as he emerged from a meeting at the Sheraton hotel on 29 January. Earlier that day, Nigeria had suffered the indignity of its internal security failings being scrutinised by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council at the AU summit.

Two weeks earlier, Ghana’s President John Mahama had suggested that the AU consider backing a multilateral force in West Africa to tackle the Islamist insurgents of Boko Haram. Based in north-east Nigeria, Boko Haram was fanning out and slaughtering civilians in neighbouring states. But, if the AU were to set up a multilateral force to help Nigeria fight Boko Haram, President Goodluck Jonathan’s detractors would inevitably compare it with the AU force helping Somalia fight Al Shabaab. So Nigeria’s diplomats at the AU, including Wali, fought to scupper the proposed force.

That will now be just a Lake Chad Basin security initiative between Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger. However, Chad’s military successes against Boko Haram this week have raised fresh doubts about Nigeria’s political will to tackle the militia. Some 2,500 Chadian troops crossed into Nigeria and ejected Boko Haram fighters from Gambaru near the Cameroon border. So far, General Muhammadu Buhari, Jonathan’s main opponent in this month’s election, has resisted publicly reminiscing. Thirty years ago, he was military head of state, having seized power after a weak civilian government had failed to back its military in border skirmishes – with the Chadian army.

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US security and Chinese capital

There’s a build-up of arms and fighters in the Upper Nile oil fields amid doubts about the latest ceasefire deal

An innovative alliance between United States' security expertise and Chinese capital – in the form of a Hong Kong-registered company called Frontier Services Group (FSG) &nda...


Oil fuels Luanda panic

The crash in the price of crude oil may not have worked through the economy yet but it has already trashed all spending plans

'Angola has seen nothing yet,' is a common comment in Luanda business circles about the impact of the oil price crash on the country. The government is seeking to plug financial ga...


What the prosecutor saw

The ICC has now published its brief for the abandoned case against Kenyatta. It reveals a brutal and cynical conspiracy

The International Criminal Court has released a summary of the crimes it believes President Uhuru Kenyatta has committed. The document from the ICC's Office of the Prosecutor conta...


ICC murder mystery

Much confusion surrounds the abduction and apparent murder of a witness in the ICC trial of William Ruto and Joshua Sang

The hurried burial at sunset on 22 January of a corpse said to be that of Yusuf Hussein, a 25-year-old matatu (minibus) conductor, has deepened the mystery surrounding the apparent...


Narrow win stretches nerves

The new President’s thin mandate leaves the internal faction-fighting little changed as he picks his cabinet

President Edgar Lungu's exceptionally slim win on a disastrously low turnout in the 20 January presidential by-election leaves him weak and the governing Patriotic Front still badl...



Pointers

London's security aid

Designed to coordinate government efforts against Islamist militants, a new Central Strategic Planning Unit in Tunisia's Interior Ministry is receiving training funded by the Briti...


Census suspicions

President Ernest Bai Koroma has called off the national housing and population census planned for April after criticism that members of his All Peoples' Congress (APC) were over-re...


Obiang's goals

Hosting the Africa Cup of Nations has enabled President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo to improve his country's image and raise his regional profile. At the opening ceremony of the ...


Kabila's conundrum

A wave of repression costing dozens of lives and hundreds of arrests failed to prevent Parliament on 25 January from defeating President Joseph Kabila's bid to postpone next year's...