Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

‘New moment of promise’ for Africa?

Photo

As expected, U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech to Africa in Accra had plenty to say on the importance of good governance – but there was also a very strong message that his “new moment of promise” is one that Africans have to seize for themselves.

“You have the power to hold your leaders accountable, and to build institutions that serve the people. You can serve in your communities, and harness your energy and education to create new wealth and build new connections to the world. You can conquer disease, end conflicts, and make change from the bottom up. You can do that. Yes you can. Because in this moment, history is on the move,” Obama said.

“Freedom is your inheritance. Now, it is your responsibility to build upon freedom’s foundation. And if you do, we will look back years from now to places like Accra and say that this was the time when the promise was realized — this was the moment when prosperity was forged; pain was overcome; and a new era of progress began. This can be the time when we witness the triumph of justice once more.”

To listen to the whole speech, you can find a link on the White House website.

As Obama put it: “Make no mistake: history is on the side of these brave Africans, and not with those who use coups or change constitutions to stay in power. Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.”

Should West back Zimbabwe’s government?

Photo

The United Nations has joined Zimbabwe’s power-sharing government in appealing for more than $700 million in humanitarian aid for the ruined country.

But while Western countries may show willing when it comes to emergency aid, they are still reluctant to give money to the government between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, his old rival.

Will South Africa’s poor always back ANC?

Photo

It’s one of the biggest ironies in South African politics — the most loyal ANC voters are often those the party appears to have let down most bitterly.

For millions of poor, mostly black South Africans, life has barely changed since the African National Congress defeated apartheid under Nelson Mandela in 1994.

G20. How did Africa do?

Photo

Before the G20 meeting, there was a lot of talk inside and outside Africa about making sure the continent did not get left out while the world’s richest and most powerful set out plans to save their own economies.******So how did Africa fare?******On the face of things, perhaps not too badly.******“Our global plan for recovery must have at its heart the needs and jobs of hard-working families, not just in developed countries but in emerging markets and the poorest countries of the world too,” the communique says in paragraph 3.******In concrete terms:******• Resources available to the IMF will be trebled to $750 billion.***•  There will be support for a new allocation of Special Drawing Rights of $250 billion – something that could help poor countries***• There will be support for $100 billion more lending by Multilateral Development Banks (those include the World Bank Group and the African Development Bank)***• There will be $250 billion support for trade finance.***• Use will be made of resources from IMF gold sales “for concessional finance for the poorest countries”.***• Global financial institutions will be strengthened and reformed, ensuring that emerging and developing economies, including the poorest, must have greater voice and representation.”******The point on the gold sales was something for which Africa, represented at the summit by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, had made a particular push.******But not all appeared so impressed. In East Africa based Business Daily, Allan Odhiambo’s piece was headlined “Africa thrown to back burner at G20 meeting.”******According to Nigeria’s ThisDay newspaper, President Umaru Yar’Adua’s main lament was the fact that Africa’s most populous country was not there (South Africa, with the continent’s biggest economy, was represented).******South Africa’s President Kgalema Motlanthe was quoted as saying he was “quite pleased” with the results of the summit.******How well do you think the G20 did for Africa? Will Africa really have a bigger say over the global financial system in future? Will that help?

G20: A perspective from Africa

Photo

- Iraj Abedian is the chief executive of Pan-African Investment & Research Services. The opinions expressed are his own -

Although Africa had no role whatsoever in causing the financial and economic crisis, the prevailing economic meltdown has put at risk Africa’s growth and development prospects.

from The Great Debate:

Africa and the global economic crisis

Photo

- Jorge Maia is head of Research and Information for Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, established in 1940 to promote economic growth and industrial development. The opinions expressed are his own -

Serious shockwaves are hitting Africa's shores as the global economic crisis unfolds.

Is East Africa ready for oil?

Photo

Buoyed by recent discoveries of commercial scale oil deposits in Uganda, east African policy makers, foreign oil explorers and their local partners trooped to a five-star hotel on the Kenyan coast this week to reflect on the progress and chart future strategies.Viewed as a frontier region for oil exploration, east Africa’s first major oil find was made by Tullow Oil and Heritage Oil companies in the Albertine Basin, which spans the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (whose improving relations are making the exploitation of the reserves look morel ikely).Before that, Tanzania had found vast reserves of natural gas in Songo Songo and Mnazi Bay areas.Just like Rwanda, which hopes to revolutionise electricity generation in the region through methane gas from Lake Kivu, Tanzania hopes to power cars from the gas and generate much needed electricity from its natural gas.The regional economic power house Kenya has, however, had disappointing results so far in its search for oil.Although 32 wells have been sunk here since the 1950s, only traces of oil and gas have been found. It is now reprocessing data gathered over that period in the hope new knowledge and technology will reveal hidden deposits.Drilling, an expensive affair that prospectors say can cost a firm $200 million for one well, took a commercial break in the 1980s. But it has also seen a resurgence of interest, thanks to last year’s rise of crude in global markets.Kenya issued 14 exploration licenses last year and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) is set to sink its first well in the second half of this year in the eastern province.Kiraitu Murungi, the nation’s energy minister, told the meeting in Mombasa they were praying day and night for the new well and data reprocessing to show signs of oil.On the other hand,  Uganda — long reliant on Kenya’s ageing oil refinery for its supply of petroleum products — has grand plans for its newfound oil resources.They include the construction of a state of the art modern refinery at an estimated cost of $1.3 billion to process its oil as well as oil from any new finds in the region.Uganda’s energy and mineral development minister, Hillary Onek, spoke of the plans with a grin and added that the region, believed to share common geology, could be headed for a better future as it taps its oil and gas reserves to power development.However, as officials and oil prospectors retired to the hotel’s restaurants and beach bar for a drink in the evenings, they must have wondered if a few obstacles may not block the path to that prosperous future.The global financial crisis is weighing heavily on the finance base of some companies prospecting in the region.Lack of local skilled manpower in oil and gas industry is also worrying. So is the big question of how to equitably manage revenues from oil and gas so that oil and gas do not turn into a curse for the region as they have elsewhere on the continent.Is east Africa ready to handle oil and gas? Will oil discoveries help local communities?

Can shea nuts help the women of Mali?

Photo

By Rainer Schwenzfeier

How can African countries earn more from their raw materials. And how can the women of Mali improve their ability to trade with buyers in the West?

Korotouma Doumbia, a 29-year-old from south-west Mali, has no education or formal skills but she manages to earn the family income. She harvests shea nuts and turns them into shea butter, a popular ingredient in many western cosmetics.

Time to stop aid for Africa? An argument against

Photo

Earlier this month, Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo argued that Africa needs Western countries to cut long term aid that has brought dependency, distorted economies and fuelled bureaucracy and corruption. The comments on the blog posting suggested that many readers agreed. In a response, Savio Carvalho, Uganda country director for aid agency Oxfam GB, says that aid can help the continent escape poverty – if done in the right way:

In early January, I travelled to war-ravaged northern Uganda to a dusty village in Pobura and Kal parish in Kitgum District. We were there to see the completion of a 16km dirt road constructed by the community with support from Oxfam under an EU-funded programme.

Time to stop aid for Africa?

Photo

Far from being all bad news for Africa, the global financial crisis is a chance to break a dependence on development aid that has kept it in poverty, argues Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo, who has just published a new book “Dead Aid”.

Moyo’s book, her first, comes out at a time when Western campaigners, financial institutions and some African governments have been warning of the danger posed to Africa by the crisis and calling for more money from developed countries as a result. The former World Bank and Goldman Sachs economist spoke to Reuters in London.

  •