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Nigeria

Hard economics meets political pageantry

President Buhari presides over the Federal Executive Council in the Council Chambers, Abuja. Pic: The Statehouse, Abuja
President Buhari presides over the Federal Executive Council in the Council Chambers, Abuja. Pic: The Statehouse, Abuja

Closing borders, President Buhari wants to boost local producers and stop the smugglers while most politicians look to the next election

Listening to the political class in Abuja, Lagos or Port Harcourt, you might be unaware that the country is locked in an epic battle over the direction of the national economy, still bumping along at its lowest growth rate for two decades. This battle is the highest-stakes politics. President Muhammadu Buhari and his team insist they are facing down the vested interests that smuggle in cheap Asian rice and sneak out Nigeria's subsidised petrol to neighbouring states.

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Building shaky bridges

Building Bridges
Building Bridges

The BBI report failed to deliver on the hype and looks set to produce more ethnic rivalry in the run-up to the 2022 elections

The much-hyped Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his erstwhile rival, opposition leader Raila Odinga in March 2018, was launche...


States of expectation

Copyright © Africa Confidential 2019
Copyright © Africa Confidential 2019

Other nations are queuing up to stake their claims to self-government in the wake of the Sidama referendum result

Even before voting began in November's referendum on Ethiopia's tenth regional state, plans were advancing to form a Sidama branch of Abiy Ahmed's new ruling party, the Prosperity ...


Trump talks peace

Tripoli, November 2019. Pic: Hamza Turkia/Xinhua/PA Images
Tripoli, November 2019. Pic: Hamza Turkia/Xinhua/PA Images

The US is trying to force a ceasefire in order to stem Russia’s growing influence as Haftar claims to be poised to take Tripoli

The attempt by eastern-based General Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army to seize Tripoli is now into its ninth month but is still unaccomplished. In October, however, afte...


Grasping the Eskom nettle

A new CEO has come to the electricity utility, but the government is still picking its battles carefully and change remains gradual

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni described national power utility Eskom as 'South Africa's biggest economic risk' next to low growth. The gigantic utility is an albatross around the A...


Iron back on track

Copyright © Africa Confidential 2019
Copyright © Africa Confidential 2019

A mining rights sale linked to railways sets off an iron rush of sorts and promises to open up the sub-region

The granting of the much-coveted multi-billion-dollar Simandou South iron ore concession in Guinea to a Chinese-backed consortium promises to shake up regional mining industry dyna...


Seeking special status

Ursula von der Leyen
Ursula von der Leyen

The Von der Leyen trip to Addis is intended to signal the opening of a new chapter in EU relations with Africa

The consensus in Brussels is that Ursula von der Leyen's European Commission is likely to prioritise EU-Africa relations far more than her predecessors. On 6 December, the new Comm...


Hage's hubris

The election outcome for SWAPO was even worse than expected. The writing is on the wall for the ruling party

Everyone was expecting the electorate to deliver a snub to the ruling SWAPO Party in the 27 November general election – but not quite the loud slap that eventuated. After thr...

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KZN plots

Opponents of President Cyril Ramaphosa in the African National Congress's biggest province intend to start a fightback at the National General Council in 2020 with a vote of no con...


The default is mine

Zambia has defaulted again on its €97 million (US$107m) loan from Italian bank Intesa San Paolo for the purchase of two C27J twin-engined military transport aircraft from Ital...


Off the hook

The first of the criminal trials in connection with Mozambique's $2bn 'tuna bonds' hidden loans scandal has ended with the surprise acquittal of Lebanese salesman Jean Boustani at ...


Brexit and a trade pipe-dream

Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch. Pic: Chris Radburn/PA Archive/PA Images
Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch. Pic: Chris Radburn/PA Archive/PA Images

Whatever happens in Britain's general election, the uncertainty over its trade policy, including ties with Africa, will continue next year

A win for the Conservatives in the election on 12 December would mean Britain's formal exit from the European Union early next year. That would be followed by years of trade negoti...

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Cashing in on the crisis

New Zim dollar bank notes. Pic: Shaun Jusa/Xinhua/PA Images
New Zim dollar bank notes. Pic: Shaun Jusa/Xinhua/PA Images

As the country faces the worst drought for 30 years and inflation at over 440%, politically connected oligarchs see opportunities

Days after regional leaders called for dialogue across the political divide to resolve Zimbabwe's deepening crisis, police broke up a crowd outside the headquarters of the main opp...


SWAPO stumbles

President Hage Geingob. Pic: Zou Guangping/Xinhua/PA Images
President Hage Geingob. Pic: Zou Guangping/Xinhua/PA Images

A bad land reform record, a corruption scandal and electoral fraud claims will shake but not topple the ruling party in the polls

Namibia is in the grip of a crippling drought, but negative economic growth, blatant disregard for its election promises and persistent scandal will do little to prevent SWAPO's re...


Hefty down payment for 2020

Copyright © Africa Confidential 2019
Copyright © Africa Confidential 2019

President Akufo-Addo's government wants to engineer a pre-election boom without the usual economic meltdown afterwards

With national elections a year away, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta tried to combine political bullishness and banker's caution when he read the 2020 budget statement in parliamen...


Unity or bust for 2021

Bobi Wine on campaign. Hoima, September 2019. (Pic: Sally Hayden/SOPA Images/SIPA USA/PA Images)
Bobi Wine on campaign. Hoima, September 2019. (Pic: Sally Hayden/SOPA Images/SIPA USA/PA Images)

The opposition is finding unity elusive while the President is already on the campaign trail ahead of the next elections

In the wake of the recent brutal attacks by security forces on protestors in Kampala, pundits ponder why the formidable mass movement of Bobi Wine and Kizza Besigye's Forum for Dem...


The DA's race dilemma

Mmusi Maimane
Mmusi Maimane

The main opposition party is wracked by divisions over 'affirmative action' after its black leaders suddenly resign

The departure of both Mmusi Maimane as leader of the Democratic Alliance and Herman Mashaba as mayor of Johannesburg has sent shock waves through the main opposition party and star...


Intrigue at State House

Edgar Lungu
Edgar Lungu

A coterie of colourful advisors around President Lungu is competing for influence and contracts

Tussles for supremacy among President Edgar Lungu's key advisors have claimed scalps in his ever-smaller inner circle. One of the most important was that of former journalist Amos ...


Oil majors tax threat

Muhammadu Buhari. Pic: Michael Kappeler/DPA/PA Images
Muhammadu Buhari. Pic: Michael Kappeler/DPA/PA Images

The Nigerian government plans to raise an extra US$1 billion next year in royalties from the oil majors as it struggles to fund a record budget and curb mounting debt. The industry...


Latest Vaz plot fails

José Mário Vaz. Pic: Paulo Spranger/Global Media Group/SIPA USA/PA Images
José Mário Vaz. Pic: Paulo Spranger/Global Media Group/SIPA USA/PA Images

President José Mário Vaz's latest attempt to dismiss a government, four weeks before the presidential elections, now due on 24 November, collapsed in ignominy after the Economic Co...


Démarches et détente

Mohamed Ould Ghazouani. Pic: Dmitry Feoktistov/Tass/PA Images
Mohamed Ould Ghazouani. Pic: Dmitry Feoktistov/Tass/PA Images

Détente is in the air as President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani has surprised many by opening up to the opposition. The head of the state-run Télévision de la Mauritanie (TVM) invited ...


Assault on Mount Kenya

Uhuru Kenyatta. Pic: Alexander Ryumin/Tass/PA Images
Uhuru Kenyatta. Pic: Alexander Ryumin/Tass/PA Images

President Uhuru Kenyatta is trying to put an end to a simmering rebellion against his government in a region where discontent with him would be least expected – the Mount Ken...