Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Lessons learnt from Ivory Coast

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gbagboTV images of an incredulous Laurent Gbagbo being forcibly evicted from power this week by United Nations- and French-backed Ivorian soldiers send an unequivocal message to other leaders across the continent: outstay your welcome and it could be you next.

Monday’s storming of his Abidjan residence by troops loyal to Alassane Ouattara – whom the rest of the world months ago recognised as winner of the Nov. 28 election – came after Gbagbo was disowned by even his closest African peers.

So the lesson learnt is, as one U.S. official put it early on in the crisis, that the era of stealing elections in Africa is over?

Unfortunately not quite.

While Gbagbo’s fate will no doubt dissuade leaders from being caught red-handed in the act of election theft, some will be drawing up a more cynical “lessons learnt” list along the lines that follow:

Nigerian democracy growing up

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NIGERIA-ELECTIONS/A ruling party’s acceptance that it will sometimes do badly in elections as well as win them can be a sign of how well democracy is taking root.

In that regard, Nigeria’s national assembly election already shows some progress.

Ivory Coast: so who is the incumbent now?

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ivoryIn a matter of weeks, Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara have undergone a role reversal which, even by the standards of recent Ivorian history, defies belief.

Before the lightning advance of pro-Ouattara forces on Abidjan last week, Gbagbo was laying siege to his rival in a plush lagoon-side hotel in downtown Abidjan. 

Do tax havens contribute to African poverty?

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Tax havens have been blamed (and lauded in some quarters) for many things. But a new book that is causing quite a stir says they are a key reason behind African poverty and underdevelopment.

“Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World” by Nicholas Shaxson argues among other things that they are “deep drains of development.”

Nigeria’s non-vote: Incompetence or sabotage?

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NIGERIA-ELECTIONS/POSTPONEMENTAccording to the shame-faced head of Nigeria’s electoral commission, one of the excuses given by suppliers who failed to get ballot papers to the country in time for Saturday’s parliamentary ballot was that there had been problems as a result of the tsunami in Japan.

Contractors in Nigeria tend to be pretty adept with their excuses, whether it’s about a failure to fix the plumbing or to build a highway on time, but this one stands out for its audacity.

If in Libya, why not also in Ivory Coast?

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When Ivory Coast’s election last year left the country with two men claiming to be president and a flood of warnings of the threat of civil war, the world’s diplomatic and media interest was unprecedented.

After a turbulent four months, which have seen two North African revolutions, a tsunami and near nuclear meltdown in Japan, and Libya’s ongoing war, how that has changed. The West African nation’s crisis is grizzly but also in a slow-burn mode and hardly getting a look in with all the drama elsewhere.

Africa: Not just about commodities

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GOLDFIELDS/High commodity prices have certainly helped African producers both because it means they get paid more for their exports and it encourages  investment to increase production.

But almost all the speakers at the Reuters Africa Investment Summit have agreed that the change in Africa is driven by more than just digging minerals out of the ground, pumping oil or growing crops for foreigners to consume.

Send us your investment bankers

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MARKETS-STOCKS/Not so long ago, anyone with the talent and means was heading out of Africa in search of better paid and more fulfilling professional work.

That’s all changing and the emotional appeal of a return to the home country is playing a less important part in the Back to Africa decision than the jobs and opportunities suddenly opening up thanks to fast economic growth and expanding financial markets.

African turmoil? Zambian president doesn’t think so

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AFRICAINVEST-SUMMIT/ZAMBIA-POLITICS/One of the big questions at the Reuters Africa summit has been what impact the turmoil in North Africa is going to have south of the Sahara – something we’ve looked at on this blog too.

Zambian President Rupiah Banda doesn’t expect much on the political front, at least not in his country.

U.S. banks push harder in Africa

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NIGERIA/Two of the world’s biggest banks told the first day of the Reuters Africa Investment Summit that they planned to strengthen their presence in the continent as their own customers see their businesses here grow.

Citi’s Africa CEO, Naveed Riaz, said it may expand into three new African countries over the next 18 months to strengthen its corporate and investment banking business. He didn’t say which, but interestingly a return for Citi to Angola didn’t appear to be among the top targets despite its oil wealth.

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