Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Bashir’s magic number 68

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bashirwomanOn the face of it, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir got the perfect election result.

His victory with 68 percent was not too high that it would spark concerns of fraud but high enough above the 50 percent needed for a win for him to be able fly in the face of the disapproving West.

Bashir is now the only elected sitting head of state wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.    

But the path to victory was far from smooth.

Three weeks before what was promising to be an exciting electoral race, irregularities including a government printing press winning the contract to print ballot papers, sparked a wave of boycotts effectively ending any hope of a competitive presidential poll.

Angola broadens its reach

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DAVOS/AFRICANigerian, Kenyan and South African banks have been making forays into the rest of the continent in search of growth so it was interesting to see Angola’s biggest bank opening an office in Johannesburg this month.
 
Banco Africano de Investimentos, Angola’s biggest bank by deposits, sees the office as a launchpad for ventures further afield in the southern African region as well as in business between Angola and South Africa.

Angola’s banking sector has enjoyed huge growth since the country emerged from a three-decade long civil war in 2002 as one of the world’s fastest growing economies thanks to booming oil production and high oil prices.

Was Zuma right to reveal HIV status?

SAFRICA/ South African President Jacob Zuma has disclosed that he is HIV negative after his most recent test for the virus that causes AIDS.
 Zuma said he wanted “to promote openness and to eradicate the silence and stigma that accompanies this epidemic” in a country which has more people infected with the virus than any other – an estimated five million.

 Some South Africans had been calling on Zuma for a while to release the results of HIV tests and not just to take them. But critics now say Zuma could be sending the wrong message by saying he is HIV negative because of a lifestyle that has involved numerous affairs as well as marriages (he currently has three wives and a fiancée).

Iran and Zimbabwe: birds of feathers?

ZIMBABWE-IRAN/Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe backs Iran’s controversial nuclear programme and has accused the West of seeking to punish the two countries for asserting their independence.

“Be also assured, comrade president, of Zimbabwe’s continuous support of Iran’s just cause on the nuclear issue,” Mugabe told Ahmadinejad at a banquet he hosted for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who arrived in Harare on Thursday for a two-day visit..

An icy black swan

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GuestinvestecBy Jeremy Gardiner, director, Investec Asset Management
There is a term in financial markets known as a black swan event. This term describes an event that has a significant impact on financial markets, but which could not / was not predicted by anyone. A volcano in Iceland leading to massive ‘eruption disruption’ certainly could not have been predicted by anyone. Certainly, market commentators were expecting some form of financial explosion out of Europe, but not a volcanic one!

 Fortunately it seems to be ‘blowing over’ and within a week the world should be back to normal. However, this, together with charges against Goldman Sachs and ongoing fears over Greece, could just have provided the catalyst for the much expected correction markets have been anticipating for close on six months now.

Hotter in the long run?

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marathonEthiopia’s long-distance runners are among the best in the world, winning seven medals at last year’s Olympic Games. Generations of athletes have trained in the cool highlands of Asella but the weather there is changing, apparently as a result of climate change. There are now worries that this could have an impact on the country’s future runners.

For many young Ethiopians, this is where dreams are made. Internationally famous athletes like Haile Gebrselassie and Kenanisa Bekele have trained in these very parts.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

FIFA made fundamental errors on World Cup tickets

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RTR2CU6B[2]ticketing

FIFA is guaranteed massive revenue from the World Cup, primarily through billions of dollars in commercial and television rights, that will fill its coffers for the next four years. But that doesn't hide the fact that soccer's governing body has made basic errors in the ticketing structure for the first African edition of the world's most watched sporting event.

FIFA boss Sepp Blatter has steadfastly supported holding the soccer spectacle in Africa despite a flood of negative reporting from Europe that said the tournament would be a disaster and that nothing would be ready in time. Those naysayers have so far been proved very wrong--the 10 stadiums, half of them stunning new venues--are ready way ahead of kickoff on June 11.

Ethiopia elections: Can the EU effectively monitor?

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RTXNGVC_Compresize.jpgThe Ethiopian press corps put Thijs Berman, the EU’s chief observer for the country’s May 23rd elections, under some serious pressure at his first press conference since arriving last Wednesday – less than five weeks before the poll.

“Won’t you just rubberstamp a precooked election?” said one.

“How can you do your work with less than five weeks left?” another.

“You have 150 observers for 43,000 polling stations?!” a third.

Berman, a seasoned election monitor who has Afghanistan’s mess of a 2009 poll on his CV, took it all in his stride and even showed flashes of humour.

One step forward. How many back?

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SUDAN-ELECTIONS/Sudan has witnessed the end of what was supposed to be a historic event.

 The first multi-party polls in almost quarter of a century to elect leaders on all levels, including the presidency held by Omar Hassan al-Bashir for 21 years.

But far from joy in the streets or pride in a job well done, there was just a sigh of relief.

from MacroScope:

Social media for the Arab jobless

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In the realm of  long-term economic things to worry about, there is not much that can rival youth unemployment in the greater Middle East and North Africa. Some years ago, for example, the World Bank  estimated that the region's population rise was such that jobs needed to grow by some 3.5 percent  per year if unemployment along the lines of one-in-four was to be avoided over the next couple of decades. There has been nothing of great note to change this forecast.

The International Monetary Fund has just weighed into the issue with a post on the subject and some startling figures on the depth of the problem. As author Masood Ahmed writes:

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