Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
TV 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:
In 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.
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.”
According 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.
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.
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.
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.
Zambian President Rupiah Banda doesn’t expect much on the political front, at least not in his country.
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.