Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Africa reforms matter

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African governments have been hit hard by a withdrawal of investor money from the continent and need to make sure they remember reforms and avoid high inflation in their attempts to protect their economies, says Razia Khan, head of Africa research at Standard Chartered Bank in London.

Africa gets 3 percent of the world’s cross-border flows, but BIS end-2008 data shows the region suffered the world’s largest decline in cross-border financing due to the global financial crisis, Khan told a breakfast audience of politicians, bankers, investors and journalists in London today.

Africa needs the economic environment that will lure investors back in, she says.

“Financial markets in Africa have not shown signs yet of a significant recovery. “Maybe there is going to be some longer-term support for commodity prices, but governments have to guard against a deterioration of the fundamentals that have been in place to support growth,” she says.

Keeping pirates at bay

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There are some expectations that piracy in the Gulf of Aden is about to tail off for a bit. It appears that pirates don’t like rough weather any more than anyone else does.

Exclusive Analysis, a political risk consultancy, has conducted a detailed study of incidences of maritime hijacking in order to give its insurer clients the heads up about when and under what circumstances piracy is most likely to occur. It has told the International Underwriting Association of London that the arrival of the monsoon in the Gulf of Aden about now usually keeps pirates on shore. Not so for Somalia, where the waters are generally calmer at the moment. Technically, it is when the Sea Scale hits 5 or 6, that is, rough to very rough.

Should developing world have more say in crisis talks?

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When world leaders meet in Washington to tackle the global financial crisis, Africa will be represented only by South Africa.

 

African officials meeting in Tunis this week to discuss the impact of the crisis argued that the continent needed better representation, given the effects that the turmoil is having in Africa as well as the continent’s growing financial importance. The complaint could apply equally to other developing countries.

Will Africa’s mega trade bloc take off?

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Three African trading blocs comprising some 527 million people and with an estimated gross domestic product of $624 billion, have agreed to move towards a free trade area. It would span 26 countries from Egypt to South Africa, and would go a long way towards streamlining some of the continent’s numerous trading blocs. Africa is home to some 30 regional trade arrangements, and on average each nation belongs to about four groups, according to international financial institutions. This has led to conflicting and overlapping agreements.

So in a move to ease some of these issues, heads of state who chair the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC),  met in the Ugandan capital to draw up a pact on integration, and eventually hoping to have a unified customs union. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said at the meeting’s opening that: “The greatest enemy of Africa, the greatest source of weakness has been disunity and a low level of political and economic integration.” The meeting’s final communiqué said a timeframe for integration would be considered in one year. Rwandan President Paul Kagame cautioned delegates that African nations must make sure to enforce the protocols and treaties that they’ve adopted. Heads of state at the meeting stressed the need to create economies of scale, bigger markets equal more opportunities to grow, they said.

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