Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
“Europe possibly needs an Afribond,” commented one contributor this week on the Thomson Reuters chatroom for fixed income markets in Kenya.
A nice quip from Henry Kirimania of The Cooperative Bank of Kenya and a reminder of just how much better placed Africa is now in terms of its debt burden than it once was and particularly in relation to what might now be regarded as the world’s Heavily Indebted Formerly Rich Countries.
“It used to be that when you thought about highly indebted countries, you thought about those in our part of the world,” Maria Ramos, head of South Africa’s Absa Bank told the recent World Economic Forum on Africa. “You can’t any longer.”
By global standards, African debt has also performed fairly well during the crisis over Greece. Although the yield on Ghana’s Eurobond spiked when concerns over Greece reached fever pitch before the EU and IMF safety net announced at the weekend, it has been on a steady downtrend and has fallen back somewhat this week.
By Estelle Shirbon
No sooner was Umaru Yar’Adua named in late 2006 as the Nigerian ruling party’s presidential candidate than people started asking whether he would survive four years at the helm of Africa’s most populous nation.
The answer to that question came on Wednesday night, when Yar’Adua died a year before the end of his term — a sad end for a quiet man who had been in poor health since well before he was catapulted into one of the world’s toughest jobs.
It might surprise some that African business leaders are much more optimistic than the global average, which is what a new survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers shows.
The study, for which hundreds of executives were surveyed, suggested optimism had held up in Africa despite the global downturn.
Ethiopia’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.
The 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.
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.
This is likely to be the question hotly debated in the more self-aware international observer missions covering Sudan’s elections, due to start on Sunday and marred by a wave of boycotts and claims of fraud.
Sudan’s first multi-party polls in almost quarter of a century had promised to be fiercely contested until revelations of irregularities caused boycotts by several parties.
The talk of the town for Sudanese is the position of Washington’s envoy Scott Gration after he met the National Elections Commission, the body accused of irregularities and bias towards the ruling National Congress Party.
“They have given me a lot of information that gives me confidence that the elections will start on time and that they will be as free and fair as possible,” Gration told reporters.
“This has been a difficult challenge but I believe they (the NEC) have stepped up and met the challenge,” he added.
Hosting a rare debate between Sudan’s much-maligned National Elections Commission (NEC) and opposition parties, the privately owned Blue Nile television was taking a risk broadcasting live to the nation.
In a country where, ahead of April’s first multi-party elections in 24 years, party political broadcasts are pre-recorded and censored, the evening promised to be fun.
In a shock unilateral announcement, the leading south Sudanese party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), withdrew its presidential candidate, Yasir Arman, and said it would also boycott elections on all levels in Darfur.
It paved the way for incumbent President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to win the April 11-18 polls. Arman was viewed as his main challenger, with much of south Sudan’s support – about 25 percent of the 16-million strong electorate.