Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
Mining companies are looking more cautiously at South Africa after a brouhaha over shady deals. Media and diplomats are nervous of measures they fear could curtail press freedom. South Africans in general are wondering how much damage an ongoing public sector strike will do and whether it is a sign of worse labour unrest to come.
But global banking giant HSBC certainly seems to be taking a positive long term view of Africa’s biggest economy with its talks to buy up to 70 percent of South Africa’s Nedbank in a deal that could be worth more than $8 billion.
HSBC wouldn’t only be getting a strong presence in South Africa, though.
It would be getting a solid foothold on a continent set to be among the world’s fastest growing in the years to come and where it is coming from behind against well-established emerging market rivals Standard Chartered and South Africa’s own Standard Bank.
Particularly important for HSBC would be helping its Asian customers do business in Africa. Although Nedbank does not by itself have the presence across Africa that some of its rivals do, it has an alliance with West Africa-based lender Ecobank spanning the continent.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi seemed to anticipate this week exactly what a lot people were thinking about his government’s plan to double the poor country’s GDP and wean it off food aid within just five years.
“I think that this is a very ambitious plan,” he said.
“This is indeed an extremely ambitious plan,” a few minutes later.
And, once more for luck, “We have put in place a high-case scenario which is clearly very, very ambitious.”
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.
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.
from Photographers' Blog:
The 2010 World Cup has been a memorable and momentous occasion not only for me, but for South Africa, the African continent and the rest of the world.
It has indeed been incredible. It has been a unifying factor, with people beginning to appreciate the importance of their national symbols such as flags.
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.
The first World Cup in Africa also highlights a dramatic change driven by forces more powerful than football.
While the competition may help change Africa’s image in the minds of any outsiders still fixated on cliches of bloodshed and famine, those in the know long ago spotted Africa’s emergence from no-go zone to frontier market and are seeing the returns.
Tom Cargill, Assistant Head of the Africa Programme at Chatham House, writes on the West’s relationship with Africa:
French President Nicholas Sarkozy put it best this week, when he spoke of the increasing important of Africa in Global Affairs: “Africa’s formidable demographics and its considerable resources make it the main reservoir for world economic growth in the decades to come.”
South Africa’s place as the sole economic giant in Africa is set to decline in coming decades as its growth is outstripped by countries to the north that have emerged as some of the fastest growing in the world.
As part of a package of Reuters reports on Frontier Markets, my colleague Ed Cropley takes a look at the importance for South Africa’s future of positioning itself as a springboard to the rest of the continent.