Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

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

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IVORYCOAST/GBAGBO

   

“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.

Gbagbo lost the presidential election in November last year, according to U.N. certified results, but he has refused to hand over power to rival Alassane Ouattara, citing fraud.

That has left regional powers, the AU and the United Nations all up against the same problem: how to convince Gbagbo to exit gracefully?

All change for Nigeria?

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Nigeria’s central bank sliced through the hubris of the business elite with its $2.6 billion bailout out of five banks and the sacking of their heads in what looks as though it could be a new era for corporate governance in Africa’s most populous country.

Recently appointed Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi said lax governance had allowed the banks to become so weakly capitalised that they posed a threat to the entire system, and described the move as the beginning of a “restoration of confidence” in sub-Saharan Africa’s second biggest economy.

Africa back to the old ways?

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The overthrow of Madagascar’s leader may have had nothing to do with events elsewhere in Africa, but after four violent changes of power within eight months the question is bound to arise as to whether the continent is returning to old ways.

Three years without coups between 2005 and last year had appeared to some, including foreign investors, to have indicated a fundamental change from the first turbulent decades after independence. This spate of violent overthrows could now be another reason for investors to tread more warily again, particularly as Africa feels the impact of the global financial crisis.

Sign of change in Zimbabwe?

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President Robert Mugabe joined the mourning for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s wife on Tuesday and called on Zimbabweans to end violence and support his old rival to help rebuild the country.

The death of Susan Tsvangirai in a road crash in which her husband was also injured has, at least on the surface, brought about a show of unity between Zimbabwe’s bitterest foes that might never have looked possible.

How will Africa weather financial storm?

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Kenyan Maasai herdsmen walk on the animal migration corridor at the Nairobi National Park November 12, 2007. REUTERS/Antony Njuguna

Isolation might seem like a good idea when it comes to the storm sweeping global finance and there is no doubt that African countries are among the most isolated in the world economy.

Avoiding the impact seems unlikely, though, particularly at a time when Africa as a whole has been enjoying its fastest growth for decades and the continent has become an increasingly popular investment destination – not only for Asian countries in search of resources but for frontier investors willing to take higher risks for higher returns.

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