Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Is Africa a good bet?

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For those looking to invest in Africa, the best prospects are in Nigeria and Ethiopia according to a new index of potential investment destinations published this week.

But should anybody want to put money into Africa at a time the global financial crisis and falling prices for export commodities, on which the continent is so reliant, have discouraged investors who had begun to see some African countries as promising frontier markets?

“Africa is going to overtake the Middle East to become the second fastest growing region in the world after emerging Asia. It will be affected by the global financial crisis but it is much less exposed than many places,” Katharine Pulvermacher, chief executive of business consultancy African Rainbow said this week on the launch of its Star of Africa index.

The index’s creators told my colleague Peter Apps that potential growth in energy, water and communications consumption could amply reward investors taking the risk in Africa. South Africa, Mauritius and Tanzania took third, fourth and fifth place respectively on the index. Somalia, Chad and Eritrea were the least appealing countries for investors.

Somalia’s new chance

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How times change. Somalia’s new Islamist president has been feted in Ethiopia, whose army drove him from power two years ago – with Washington’s backing – when he headed a sharia courts movement.

Sheikh Sharif Ahmed was greeted with a standing ovation from African Union leaders at a summit in Ethiopia, which pulled the last of its troops out of Somalia last month, leaving the government in control of little beyond parts of Mogadishu. The hardline Islamist al Shabaab militia control much of the rest of southern Somalia.

Which way will Somalia go?

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The withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia has left a nation beset by conflict for nearly two decades at a crossroads.

Ethiopia invaded to oust Islamists from the capital, but insurgents still control much of southern Somalia and more hardline groups that worry Washington have flourished during the two-year intervention.

Colonial borders. Does Africa have a choice?

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Lord Lugard, founder of Nigeria

The lines of Europe’s carve up of Africa were finally taking shape. On March 11, 1913, Britain and Germany agreed who got which bits of a swampy corner of the continent that few in either of the cold and distant countries had heard of.

Two states that did not exist at that time put the border agreement into effect again on Thursday with Nigeria formally handing over the Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon.

Where is Eritrea headed?

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eritrea_president.jpgEritrean President Isaias Afwerki is probably one of Africa’s least-known yet controversial leaders. After a successful 30-year independence war against neighbouring Ethiopia, he won praise from the West in the 1990s for being part of a “new generation” of  progressive African leaders. In recent years, however, the Eritrean president has been increasingly criticised from abroad as running his small Horn of African nation along authoritarian lines.

Not usually keen on giving interviews to Western media, President Isaias Afwerki sat down this week for a nearly two-hour chat with Reuters’ Asmara correspondent Jack Kimball and East Africa bureau chief Andrew Cawthorne. In it, he criticised the United Nations, denied an incursion into Djibouti, outlined Eritrea’s economic policies and accused the United States of trying to destabilise his country.

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