Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
Britain’s new coalition government made its priorities on Sudan very clear as Henry Bellingham, the minister for Africa, used 90 percent of his opening remarks at his first press conference in Khartoum to outline how Britain could increase trade with Sudan.
The other 10 percent dealing with the run-up to the south’s referendum on secession, which is likely to create Africa’s newest nation state, and the International Criminal Court arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide all seemed like just an afterthought.
At first glance many would say Britain was selling out — engaging economically with a government whose head is a wanted man would destroy the global divestment campaign’s years of efforts to make investing in Sudan a poisoned chalice and to pressure Khartoum to stop rights abuses and allow democratic freedoms.
Many Darfuris and rights activists who have been victims of torture and harassment will be dismayed by the move, which clearly extends a hand of friendship to Khartoum, virtually a pariah since the ICC warrant for Bashir last year.
It’s odd to see a once powerful man walk slowly. And odder still to see him sit in the corner of a restaurant nursing a glass of water for more than an hour. But that’s exactly what delegates to an African Union summit in Ugandan capital Kampala saw former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown do on Saturday.
Brown has been treated as something of a fugitive by the British media since his May election defeat with a slew of “Have you seen this man? type articles published in the country’s newspapers. Speculation on what he was up to ranged from bashing out a book on economics to Alastair Darling’s “he’s reflecting”.
This week is 25 years since a bunch of bouffant-haired pop stars staged the most ambitious concerts of all time to help millions of starving people who had never heard of them.
Live Aid, organised to raise money to stop Ethiopia’s catastrophic 1984/85 famine, was a huge success by some measures. An audience of more than 1.5 billion tuned in around the world to watch simultaneous live concerts from London and Philadelphia — an incredible technological feat for the time — and a staggering $230 million was raised for the emergency.
The relations between First Quantum and the Democratic Republic of Congo have gone from bad to worse in recent months, after the country expropriated the miner’s $765 million Kolwezi copper tailings project in September.
A recent court ruling in the DRC has also cast a cloud over the future of the company’s Frontier and Lonshi mines, located in the south of the country. The widely covered dispute has led the DRC to accuse First Quantum of running a smear campaign against the country, the feud nearly foiled the DRC’s efforts to secure a $8 billion debt relief deal from the World Bank.
When some of the most influential figures in emerging markets finance spoke to a group of Reuters editors, they were asked about top picks for growth beyond the so-called BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China.
One continent came up again and again – Africa – and one country in particular – Nigeria. Goldman Sachs global head of economic research, Jim O’Neill, highlighted the improvement in the growth-environment index of Africa’s giant over the past decade.
The giggles started when the seventh journalist in a row said that his question was for Egypt’s water and irrigation minister, Mohamed Nasreddin Allam.
from Global Investing:
It has debt levels to die for and huge amounts of oil, but economically it's lagging and political concerns remain. Speakers at a Libyan trade and investment forum this week saw the North African country as a mixed bag.
Robert Tashima, an editor for Oxford Business Group, highlighted the country's "elephantine" levels of FX reserves, and the privatisation of 80 companies so far, with telecoms and steel sales slated for this year.
Africa is providing a lot of fine material for the London theatre these days.
A rare outing for Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman was a highlight at the National last year. This was followed, also at the National, by Matt Charman’s The Observer, which unpicked preparations for an election in an unnamed African nation.
More recently, Lynn Nottage’s excellent Ruined, which dealt with tough themes relating to women’s lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has just finished an acclaimed run at the Almeida in Islington.
The soccer fan fest sounded like a wild party with the vuvuzela horns booming through the empty streets of Polokwane town, one of the smallest of 10 venues for the first World Cup on African soil.
Everyone must be there, we thought as there was little happening on a Saturday night in the northern South African town centre.
What’s in a name? An entire cultural and national identity if you are from Sudan’s oil-producing south.
The region of southern Sudan is now less than seven months away from a referendum on whether it should split away to form Africa’s newest country.