Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
Many South Sudanese hoped the country’s emergence as the world’s newest nation would begin an era of prosperity, but the country has remained mired in disputes with its northern neighbour over oil, the border and a many other issues.
The landlocked South shut off its oil production in January, instantly erasing 98 percent of state revenues, as part of a dispute with Sudan over how much it should pay to export crude using pipelines and other infrastructure in the north.
Discontent has been rising over the oil shutdown, which piled hardships on people already weary from years of conflict. While many South Sudanese are still basking in the pride of their hard-won political freedom, they are starting to ask when they will enjoy the material benefits of independence.
Prices have been soaring, forcing many people to tighten their belts while corruption has gone largely unchecked.
South Africa’s economy is still largely under the control of whites who held power under apartheid, President Jacob Zuma has said calling for a “dramatic shift” to redress the wealth balance more evenly in favour of the black majority.
Zuma, speaking at the start of a major policy meeting of his ruling African National Congress, said the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality posed long-term risks for Africa’s richest country 18 years after the end of apartheid.
By Isaac Esipisu
The continents’ newest and second Africa’s female president took over the reins of power in Malawi to offer a new and more responsive style of leadership that is expected to spur economic recovery of one of Africa’s poorest nation. Joyce Banda was sworn in as president two days after President Bingu wa Mutharika died of heart attack at 78.
The new president, Joyce Banda started her presidency in an enthusiastic and robust way; mending ties with foreign donors that could see Malawi pull out of an economic crisis. The new president of Zambia , Michael Sata, is making the transition easier, contributing 5 million litres of petrol that should help the economy. Banda, a 61-year-old policeman’s daughter who won recognition for championing the education of underprivileged girls, now enjoys widespread support among a population whose lives grew increasingly difficult under Mutharika
By Isaac Esipisu
Although the role of political parties in Africa has changed dramatically since the sweeping reintroduction of multi-party politics in the early 1990s, Africa’s political parties remain deficient in many ways, particularly their organizational capacity, programmatic profiles and inner-party democracy.
The third wave of democratization that hit the shores of Africa 20 years ago has undoubtedly produced mixed results as regards to the democratic quality of the over 48 countries south of the Sahara. However, one finding can hardly be denied: the role of political parties has evidently changed dramatically.
Ethiopia’s handful of TV channels are not carrying much news lately. Instead, broadcasters are spending most of their time covering every phase of the construction of a new mega dam along the country’s Nile waters.
From mawkish ballads to patriotic poems and documentaries, programmes are waxing eloquently about how far the impoverished African nation has come since the dreaded Communist junta was toppled two decades ago, by defying Egyptian pressure and embarking on a massive project from its own coffers.
He was referring to the agriculture sector’s outsized influence on east Africa’s largest economy. Farming, including coffee and tea growing, accounts for a quarter of output and employs nearly two-thirds of the population.
Over a third of electricity is generated from dams which are fed by rainfall, with drought leading to outages, which affect manufacturers and other firms.
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.
Sudath Perera has every reason to be content. He started up his textiles factory outside the Kenyan capital Nairobi nine years ago; today, he employs 1500 workers and turns over between 18 and 20 million U.S. dollars a year.
“We are contributing to the local economy by creating employment,” he says. “And indirectly there are a lot of local suppliers also relying on us.”
Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki has guarded his country jealousy since independence, pushing a self-reliant attitude that encourages Eritreans to rebuild Eritrea for themselves.
But in order to develop the potentially lucrative mining and trade sectors, he will have to open up the country more to foreign money and therefore possible foreign influence.
from The Great Debate UK:
-Michael Keating is director of the Africa Progress Panel. The opinions expressed are his own.-
After a decade of solid progress Africa is now facing the daunting task - at a time of economic crisis - of maintaining stability, economic growth and employment, addressing food security and combating climate change. No country on the continent is escaping the impact of volatile fuel and commodity prices, the drop in global demand and trade.