Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Is Africa run better than before?

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“People look at headlines from two or three countries and forget there are 55 countries in Africa and in most of them life is normal.”

That is what Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese-born telecoms entrepreneur and one of Africa’s best known business leaders, told Reuters at the launch of the 2008 Index of African Governance by his foundation.

Sudanese-born telecommunications entrepreneur Ibrahim speaks at a news conference - April 2008/Finbarr O'Reilly / Reuters

The index showed that governance had improved in almost two-thirds of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa since the 2007 index.

It follows weeks after the Transparency International corruption perceptions index, on which African states featured heavily among the worst offenders.

What chance for Zimbabwe’s deal?

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President Robert MugabeThere have been so many swings from optimism to pessimism and back again, that Zimbabweans might find it hard to believe there finally appears to be a power-sharing deal after two months of talks.

According to both sides, President Robert Mugabe has agreed to share power with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai after 28 years of rule that concentrated power in his own hands.

Angola votes

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UNITA leader votes in Angola******Angola’s last election led to the resumption of civil war that took another decade to end and cost countless lives.******This time the atmosphere  around the election is very different, despite some initial problems at voting stations – scores failed to open on time in Luanda, which could lead to an extension of voting.******The ruling MPLA won the war in 2002 when UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi was killed. His former rebel group has now been transformed into a political party, but it is given little chance of electoral success and is unable to do much but complain the campaign has been unfair.******mesavoto2.jpg******Angola is one of the world’s fastest growing economies thanks to booming oil production – not that much of the wealth has trickled down to the two-thirds of Angolans who live on less than $2 a day.******The election is being touted by Angola’s government as a demonstration of how far the country has come from the civil war and an example in Africa after flawed elections elsewhere.******Angolan ruling MPLA party stand******But the MPLA’s electoral dominance meant the contest was very one-sided and there appears little chance of a dispute on the scale of those that led to the troubles in Kenya and Zimbabwe, where election results were close.******The election is undoubtedly a big step for Angola. How significant will it prove for Africa as a whole?

Development aid: how can it work?

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Child sells bread on Angolan streetMinisters and officials from more than 100 countries, as well as representatives of multilateral development and financial agencies, are meeting in Accra, Ghana this week (Sept. 2-4) to discuss ways of making development aid more effective. 

At its best, development aid from rich countries to help the world’s most needy can really touch the poor, giving them the means and the know-how to transform their lives and future in self-sustaining projects that profitably plug their labour and activities into the globalised world.

How much damage will Mauritania’s coup do to Africa?

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a-man-walks-in-front-of-mosque-in-central-nouakchott-february-2-2008.jpgSoldiers took power in a coup in Mauritania on Wednesday after presidential guards deposed President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi when he tried to dismiss senior army officers. Abdallahi took over only last year after winning elections to replace a military junta that had ruled since it toppled the previous president in a bloodless coup in 2005. The largely desert nation, one of Africa’s newest oil producers, has suffered five coups since 1978 but Africa as a whole has transformed its reputation for violent government ousters in recent years after notching up around 80 successful coups and many more abortive attempts between the 1950s and 2004.

There have only been a handful of military seizures in the last five years compared to the heyday of military takeovers in the 1960s. In the mid-70s around half of African countries had military governments. Since then, democracy has gradually made ground and attempts to seize power are strongly frowned upon.

Does the West still matter for Africa?

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First on Zimbabwe, now on Darfur, Western countries have lost out at the U.N. Security Council to African states backed by China and Russia.

A Western attempt to get sanctions imposed on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s government flopped on July 11. Three weeks later, when it came to renewing the mandate of peacekeepers in Darfur, Western countries bowed to demands to include wording that made clear the council would be ready to freeze any International Criminal Court indictment of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide. The United States abstained, but that made no difference to the vote.

Is Africa beginning to stand up to Mugabe?

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Nigeria is unhappy at Robert Mugabe’s continuing presidency in Zimbabwe.

The opinion of Africa’s most populous nation and its second biggest economy is hard to ignore, although some may observe Nigeria’s own presidential elections last year were not above reproach. “We express our strong displeasure at the process leading to the election and its outcome,” Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe told reporters, saying any negotiations over the future shape of Zimbabwe’s government should set the flawed election process to one side.

Robert Mugabe

A few hours earlier, Botswana had called on southern African nations to refuse to recognise Mugabe.

Could hotel scandal threaten Kenya’s government?

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Grand Regency hotelKenya’s parliament and critics are calling loudly for Finance Minister Amos Kimunya to be fired for his role in the secretive government sale of a luxury hotel under murky circumstances. Pressure is mounting for Kimunya to resign or for his political patron, President Mwai Kibaki, to fire him over the sale of the Grand Regency hotel to a company that includes Libyan investors and at least one senior Kenya Central Bank employee.

The matter has tested the government set up in a power-sharing deal to end a bloody post election crisis

Enter the new farmers

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Wheat field in RomaniaWhat’s with farming these days? The humble, even if slightly romantic vocation, is attracting a new breed of participants as investing in farmland and agriculture becomes the latest fad in the world of investments.
 
With financial markets in tumoil and commodity prices at record highs, traditional financial players such as investment banks and hedge funds, and even sovereign wealth funds of cash-rich emerging economies are increasingly looking at farm land as the next major investment avenue.

The motivations are varied — from pure financial punting to concerns about food security. Underlying all this is the belief that the rapid economic expansion of China and India could add more than a billion people between them to the ranks of consumers of meat and wheat-based products. And then there is the growing demand for land to grow crops for biofuels.

Should Tsvangirai abandon poll?

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rtx74fw.jpgIt’s decision time again for Morgan Tsvangirai. 

With violence spreading and African countries joining the ranks of those who say Zimbabwe’s election run-off cannot be fair, the opposition leader is considering whether to withdraw – which would leave President Robert Mugabe to continue his 28 year rule unchallenged.

Talk is still doing the rounds that South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki has been trying to get the sides to call off the election and form a national unity government, but progress seems limited at best. South Africa’s Star newspaper said Mugabe rejected the proposal.

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