Many in the international media watched Ghana’s election in December 2008 head into a run-off with grim expectations. With more than a touch of melodrama, the press had declared these to be the most important polls in recent African history, with Ghana acting as a Litmus test for the continent’s democratic future.More . . .
The constitutional transition of power in Guinea, following the death of the country’s president, Lansana Conté, has been interrupted by a military coup, led by a number of junior officers calling themselves the National Council for Democracy and Development.More . . .
By Elizabeth Donnelly
Discussion about and with Africa has become a recurrent part of the agenda at G8 summits, particularly since outreach with African leaders was instigated at Okinawa in 2000. The 2009 G8 summit to be hosted by Italy in Maddalena will be no exception, with Africa and its challenges to be front and centre in discussions.More . . .
- Reaching the other three billion Telecoms entrepreneur Greg Wyler is well aware of the problems with putting telecoms cabling under Africa, having been among the first to endeavour to bridge the vast hinterlands that reinforce the “digital divide” and give African consumers access to modern telecoms infrastructure.
- James Mwangi When James Mwangi was promoted to his current post of Chief Executive of Equity Bank in 2004 he inherited a technically insolvent building society. Founded in 1984, Equity had struggled to compete in an underdeveloped Kenyan financial sector dominated by South African and international banks.
- Nigeria's gas masterplan The Nigerian Federal Government has suffered a setback in its efforts to improve the country’s underperforming gas sector. Having already been repeatedly pushed back, the latest deadline to end associated gas flaring in the oil rich Niger Delta expired on 31 December 2008, with little success.
- Brand politics Launching a brand unavoidably entails a certain hazard, particularly in a politically-charged environment such as Kenya. Accidental political associations, however, can cut both ways, as France Telecom and East Africa Breweries Limited, can testify.
- How to feed the world The prevalance of large scale, foreign-owned farm projects has courted controversy, but just why has Africa failed to capitalise on its natural advantages in agriculture?
- Reclaiming the narrative The post-globalised landscape remains Balkanised by semantic divisions. The terms used in contemporary discourse come loaded with preconceptions of risk and opportunity, of threat and reassurance. Nowhere is more a victim of this than Africa.
- Miners scale back production Falling demand from global industry and ongoing operational issues have pegged back miners’ expansion plans and caused many to mothball mines in Africa
- EU, Egypt sign new energy deal ENERGY The European Commission has reached an agreement with the government of Egypt over cooperation in the energy sector. The deal, signed in December by Egypt’s minister of foreign affairs Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Andris Piebalgs, commissioners for external relations and neighbourhood policy and for energy, respectively, includes market reforms and a closer integration of the EU’s energy markets with Egypt’s, technological cooperation, network development and initiatives in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
- Jos violence sparks concerns POLITICS Violent clashes in the Nigerian city of Jos in Plateau State, in November have heightened concerns over the country’s ethnic and religious divide. Sparked by a political dispute over vote-rigging in a local election, fighting between the city’s Muslim and Christian populations killed at least 400 people.
- Mauritania coup
- Quick stats
- Mogae wins Mo Ibrahim Prize POLITICS Former president of Botswana Festus Mogae was awarded the second Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership in a ceremony in Alexandria, Egypt. Mr Mogae was cited for his successes in expanding the Botswanan economy and in reducing the country’s HIV/Aids rate.
- Obama picks Africanist for UN position United States president-elect Barack Obama has named his foreign policy team. Amongst the appointments are his rival in the Democratic primaries Hilary Clinton, who will become secretary of state, and Susan Rice, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs, who will be Mr Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations.
- IPCC: LDCs most vulnerable ENVIRONMENT The world’s less developed countries are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, according to Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Speaking at the opening ceremony of a United Nations conference in Poznan, Poland in December 2008, Mr Pachauri said, “the differential nature of climate change impacts and the existence of other stresses leave the poor of the world particularly vulnerable.” Citing an IPCC report, he said that rain-fed agriculture yield in some African countries could be reduced by 50 percent by 2020.
- Greenpeace launches two African offices ENVIRONMENT International environment organisation Greenpeace has opened its first two offices on African soil in Johannesburg, South Africa and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. A third site is planned in Dakar, Senegal, for launch in 2009.
- Review - Africa Rising By Vijay Mahajan A valiant attempt to identify the opportunities in Africa’s huge and diverse consumer markets, Vijay Mahajan’s Africa Rising: How 900 million African consumers offer more than you think, is a revealing primer for businesses hoping to gain a foothold on the continent.
- South Africa outlines latest AIDS policy New health minister Barbara Hogan has publicly broken from South Africa’s past denial of its Aids problem and detailed a new approach to tackling the disease. Her comments, made on World Aids Day in December 2008, come after a Harvard Medical School report estimated that 330,000 people have died in the country due to institutional failure to act on the epidemic.
- Mozambique expects self-sufficiency by 2011 AGRICULTURE Mozambique hopes to become a self-sufficient producer of rice within three years, the country’s agriculture minister Soares Nhaca has said. Speaking at the annual meeting of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research in Maputo, in December 2008, he said that the government plans to increase production by investing in infrastructure development.
- Brief News
- Zambia: Mwanwasa's succession Rupiah Banda inherits a legacy of sound economic policy and political stability. But he faces stiff challenges in managing Zambia’s economy and international relationships before presidential elections in 2011.
- Zimbabwe: Few signs of settlement Zimbabwe’s continuing political power struggle has once again reached an impasse. Despite a humanitarian crisis and ongoing negotiations, there are few signs of a permanent settlement.
- Somalia: Onshore chaos fuels piracy Proposed measures to curb piracy off the coast of Somalia fail to address the vacuum of power onshore that has allowed criminality to flourish.
- DRC: UN struggles with mandate A lack of clarity in its mandate means that, despite the deployment of 17,000 troops, the UN mission to the DRC has failed to protect civilians caught up in the recent fighting.
- The missing middle to drive sustainable growth By Chris West Just imagine how different the world would be if, back in Microsoft’s earliest days, Bill Gates had been unable to find anyone to invest in him or if a decade ago the same had happened to Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page as they tried to get the business going from the garage of a suburban home in California.
- Human security: the centre of Japan’s aid agenda By Sadako Ogata Thirteen years ago, the world’s attention was fixated on an obscure clearing deep in the heart of the Congo rain forest known as Tingi Tingi. Tens of thousands of refugees, retreating Zaire government forces and interahamwe militias who had sparked Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, sought safety there from pursuing rebel forces.
- Raising the red lantern in Africa By Chris Alden When critics characterise China’s engagement in Africa as nothing but a scramble for resources that disguises a more nefarious agenda, Beijing rightly counters that its ties are more complex in aspiration and content.
- Tony Blair In his new offices just over a mile from Downing Street, Tony Blair cuts a far more relaxed figure now than in the final days of his 10 years as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It is just shy of 18 months since Mr Blair left Parliament with the words: “I wish everyone, friend or foe, well – and that is that, the end.”
- A new American future? Barack Obama’s election has granted the US a reprieve from the harsh judgements levelled at his predecessor by many Africans, but faced with trouble at home, can the new administration meet Africa’s expectations for change?
- Nigeria’s nuclear option The dire state of Nigeria’s power sector continues to slow the growth of sub-Saharan Africa’s second biggest economy. Promised reforms have been slow in coming, leading some to suggest ever more radical solutions.
- Mortgage finance’s final frontier A growing acceptance of personal debt as a way of meeting spiralling aspirations is driving the penetration of retail financial services into sub-Saharan markets.
- East Africa’s cable guys The phenomenal growth of the African cellular market readjusted many perceptions of business on the continent. Now fresh initiatives hope to bring competitive, affordable broadband to the previously fibre-dark coast of East Africa.
- Paul Walsh Finding mutualities and accepting that sometimes good business goes hand in hand with CSR is key to Diageo’s success in Africa.
- Their own story Spurred on by a vacuum of local media content, A24 is fighting to deliver the real Africa to the world.
- Travels with the cheetah generation By Vijay Mahajan For my latest book, Africa Rising, I traveled extensively across Africa over the span of three years. This was no ordinary trip. Africa is known as a place of great beauty and intrigue, but I was on a different type of safari – a ‘consumer safari’ – a term I learned from Unilever executives in Zimbabwe.
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“There is a regional consensus that the crisis cannot be allowed to affect regional development”
“Africa probably has more resources than any place you can imagine”
“There can never be soft touch regulation. But it has to be regulation that is not arbitrary. The direction needs to be clear”
“Africa has lots of potential – raw materials and young people – but it needs FDI”