Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

More graft means less money


KENYA-CORRUPTIONYou can’t discuss investment in Africa without looking at the risks and there is no doubt that corruption is among those.

Patrick Lumumba, director of the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission, has plenty of experience of trying to fight graft and has the death threats to show for it. He spoke to the Reuters Africa Investment Summit and had some harsh words for the continent’s leaders – including those in Kenya.

“We have perfected the art of telling on camera that which is nice to hear, but immediately we recede into the inner sanctums of power we connive and go to bed with the corrupt and that is the tragedy of African double speak,” he said.

Analysts say graft has choked growth in Kenya, deterring potential investors. There is growing frustration that senior officials get away with flagrant theft, which has tarnished Kenya’s image.

Can South Africa grasp Africa’s opportunity?


AFRICAINVEST-SUMMIT/GORDHANWhile Africa becomes ever more attractive for local and foreign investors, the biggest danger for its biggest economy is that it fails to seize on the opportunities it has in the changing world, South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told the first Reuters Africa Investment Summit.

Plenty of short term money has flowed into South African assets – something of a headache for its policymakers as a strong rand currency makes its exports less competitive even if it helps keep inflation under control.

Africa set for banking boom


AFRICA-PHONES/From March 7 to 10, political and business leaders from around Africa will be joining us for the inaugural Reuters Africa Investment Summit to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing investors in Africa.

One of the key areas of interest will be financial services and ahead of the summit, consultancy Bain & Company released a study indicating that the $107 billion industry could grow by an impressive 15 percent a year until 2020.

With Birtukan gone, smooth sailing for Ethiopia’s Meles



ETHIOPIA-OPPOSITION/BIRTUKANEthiopia’s opposition UDJ party, completely wiped out at last year’s disputed election, says it is regrouping.

At a recent news conference, it announced it plans to rebuild its depleted ranks with young people, analyse the mistakes of the past and ensure that it’s never again hampered by a lack of leadership.

Could revolt spread in Africa?


LIBYA/So far there hasn’t been much political fallout in the rest of Africa from the revolts in the northernmost states.

Of course there are lots of differences between sub-Saharan African countries themselves let alone when you compare them to those north of the desert.

Uganda votes: oil blessing, oil curse?



That old Africa oil chestnut is being discussed again: is it a blessing or a curse?

When it comes to Uganda, nobody really knows which way to bet yet and its people often shrug their shoulders when asked what impact it will have.

Is Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo being a poor sport?

Yesterday Ivorian reggae star Alpha Blondy, a staunch supporter and populariser of incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo, said in an interview with French paper Liberation that Gbagbo has to play fair and accept he lost the Nov. 28 election. His comments reminded me of when I used to repeatly underperform in cricket at school. The coach consoled me with the old cliche that sport isn’t about winning but about taking part and playing fair. Gbagbo has refused to cede power despite U.N.-certified electoral commission results that showed his rival Alassane Ouattara won with 54.1 percent of the vote. Gbagbo’s camp alleged fraud, despite observers saying there was no evidence of it, and the pro-Gbabgo constitutional council cancelled around half a million votes to reverse Ouattara’s win. While Gbagbo and his supporters may believe they are playing by the rules, there is international concensus they are not. The United Nations, West African Regional bloc ECOWAS, the African Union, the European Union, and the United States are among those that have condemned the reversal of the results as a crude attempt to rig the election retrospectively. U.N. mission chief Y.J. Choi, accepted by all sides as the referee before the polls, blew the whistle on Gbagbo, showed him the red card and told him to hit the showers. He refused. “Gbagbo is still my candidate, but if you’ve lost, you’ve lost. That’s fair play,” Alpha Blondy told the paper. It’s interesting that, whether in sport or politics, so many supporters of a side don’t share Alpha Blondy’s view that fair play is more important than winning. When Uruguay striker Luis Suarez blocked a goal with his hand in the last minute of the world cup quarter finals game with Ghana last year, enabling them to win, he became a national hero in Uruguay, where very few felt that he had brought shame on their team by cheating. Similarly, many Gbagbo supporters who may acknowledge he lost the poll fair and square still back his refusal to go. “There are those who know that he lost who have allowed themselves to be convinced that Ouattara … should never be allowed to head Ivory Coast,” analyst Giles Yabi wrote on last week. Winning, it seems, is more important than playing fair. But it raises the question: how many of the 46.9 percent of Ivorians who voted for Gbagbo would rather have seen him bow out gracefully like a true sportsman?

Yesterday Ivorian reggae star Alpha Blondy, a staunch supporter and populariser of incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo, said in an interview with French paper Liberation that Gbagbo has to play fair and accept he lost the Nov. 28 election.

Alpha Blondy supported Gbagbo, but says he needs to step down after losing a Nov. 28 election.

His comments reminded me of when I used to repeatly underperform in cricket at school. The coach consoled me with the old cliche that sport isn’t about winning but about taking part and playing fair.

Are “African Solutions” right for the continent’s democracy push?




“This is an African solution to an African problem,” was African Union chief Jean Ping’s reasoning for another round of negotiations to resolve Ivory Coast’s bitter leadership dispute.

Regional leaders and the outside world had been uncharacteristically swift to condemn Laurent Gbagbo’s bid to cling onto power. The AU itself wasted little time suspending the West African nation from the bloc.

Uganda votes: Fighting talk


UGANDAUgandans love to talk. And, unlike in some other African countries, few people are afraid to be heard talking politics. Cafes and bars in Kampala and elsewhere hum to the sound of politicians being loudly verbally skewered.

The politicos themselves are not much different. Rhetoric is being ratcheted up ahead of elections on February 18.  And the opposition are not holding back.

Uganda’s Museveni at 25: Still fit?



“Look at him!” the emcee at celebrations to mark 25 years in power for Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni shouts into a mic. “Look at him! He is very fit!”

The former rebel decked out in his usual – and fairly unique – floppy hat and suit combo ambles down a grass slope and waves cheerily to his supporters.