Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
By Isaac Esipisu
Given that China is South Africa’s biggest trading partner and given the close relationship between Beijing and the ruling African National Congress, it didn’t come as a huge surprise that South Africa was in no hurry to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama.
Tibet’s spiritual leader will end up missing the 80th birthday party of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a fellow Nobel peace prize winner. He said his application for a visa had not come through on time despite having been made to Pretoria several weeks earlier. (Although South Africa’s government said a visa hadn’t actually been denied, the Dalai Lama’s office said it appeared to find the prospect inconvenient).
Desmond Tutu said the government’s action was a national disgrace and warned the President and ruling party that one day he will start praying for the defeat of the ANC government.
It’s the second time the Dalai Lama has been unable to honour an invitation to South Africa by Tutu after failing to make it to a meeting in 2010.
South Africa will certainly win more plaudits in Beijing, which last week agreed to $2.5 billion in investment projects with during a visit by South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
Some eye-catching numbers from Standard Bank out today on the influence of BRICs countries -- Brazil, Russia, India and China -- on Africa.
First off, the bank says the global recession and its recovery have been nourishing these so-called South-South ties. But it is all now ready to take off. The bank estimates:
It was a just another seminar on transparency in the oil sector. Seemingly banal.
But this was being held in Khartoum, involving live debates between northern and southern Sudanese officials, a minerals watchdog and the international media, who were allowed free access to publicly grill those who administer what has for years been an incredibly opaque oil industry.
When some of the most influential figures in emerging markets finance spoke to a group of Reuters editors, they were asked about top picks for growth beyond the so-called BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China.
One continent came up again and again – Africa – and one country in particular – Nigeria. Goldman Sachs global head of economic research, Jim O’Neill, highlighted the improvement in the growth-environment index of Africa’s giant over the past decade.
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.”
Mali introduced Chinese-made motor rickshaws in 2006. They’ve been such a hit that most of Mali’s bigger cities are overrun with them and competition between drivers is pushing down prices. They’ve now been barred from the centre of the capital, Bamako, but in Mali’s third-largest city, Segou, the rickshaw-taxi is the main means of public transport.
“I have a wife and seven children,” rickshaw driver Bassidi Baba Djefaga told Reuters Africa Journal. “This
rickshaw is what enables me to feed my family. Before I had the rickshaw, I was a taxi driver and had two taxis. But when the new rickshaws arrived, I saw that taxi cars weren’t going to be good business any longer. So, I sold my two taxis and bought a rickshaw.”
So far, media coverage of China’s involvement in Africa has mostly been about investment. Stories of Chinese engineers in hard hats standing by roads up mountains in Ethiopia. Stories of Chinese farmers moving to Zambia.
But, in a push to extent its economic reach, China is now making a very real effort to export its culture to the world’s poorest continent. Last year the Asian giant overtook the U.S. as Africa’s top trading partner, confirming to the West that it has a real battle on its hands to maintain its influence over African nations.
Only the most foolhardy commentator would dare to say anything optimistic about the coming year in Sudan, four months away from highly charged elections and 12 months from an explosive referendum on southern independence.
So here goes — five reasons why Africa’s largest country might just manage to reach January 2011 without a return to catastrophe and bloody civil war, despite the worst predictions of most pundits.
At a meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh this month, China promised to double the aid it gives to Africa and even forgive the debt of some of the continent’s poorest countries.
We’ve known for some time that Chinese are migrating to Africa to exploit business opportunities. But it’s perhaps less known that growing numbers of Africans are also moving to China to live and work.