JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Muammar Gaddafi was once crowned Africa’s “King of Kings” by minions from south of the Sahara and the turmoil in Libya can only increase the chance of north Africa’s revolts flinging sparks across the desert.
There has been little echo of the Arab uprisings so far.
The dynamics are different in sub-Saharan Africa with ethnic division, less urbanized populations and poorer communications making it harder to organize mass movements in some states while unprecedented growth prospects reduce the impetus elsewhere.
There is still barely an investor conference on Africa which goes by without someone making negative reference to The Economist’s famous article from more than a decade ago which dubbed it the “Hopeless Continent”.
The article caused great offence to many and while the numerous and horrific civil wars of the time could alone have appeared to justify it, Africa was in fact heading into the greatest decade of growth since most of its countries became independent.
So South Africa has found a place with the BRICs – although as this story explains that appears to be more about political calculation than any reflection of its relatively puny economic weight.
If South Africa is joining the BRICs then it will certainly add to the debate over what the relevance of the group is both as a political club and as a buzzword for a bunch of dynamic emerging giants to which investors might want to shift some money – and there are now a collection of BRIC funds out there to help those who seek to.
One of the biggest obstacles to investing in African stock markets is the paucity of listed companies and the limited number of shares traded on them.
So the prospect of two fairly major delistings is not a particularly comfortable one for African exchanges at a time they are trying to encourage more companies to list and to capitalise on the growing investor appetite for Africa.
It may seem odd to ask the question only a day after he was sworn in, but will Guinea’s President Alpha Conde go when the time comes?
Long-suffering opposition leader Conde is the first freely-elected president of a country that has known dictatorship, with varying degrees of brutality and oppression, for pretty much the entire period since independence from France in 1958. And French rule wasn’t that much fun for Guineans either.
There’s a fascinating (and rather beautiful) map of facebook connections around the world, which you can find here.
No surprise that looking at Africa, large areas are blank – there aren’t many facebook users in the Sahara Desert or Congo rainforests.
A new sort of hut could be popping up in parts of Africa soon – one serving pizza – as Yum! Brands becomes the latest global giant to announce ambitious plans for growth on a continent where nobody seemingly wants to be left behind.
While some may think African asset prices a bit overhyped, there is certainly plenty of appetite for the long term view that this will be a continent with growing business opportunities and an increasingly large number of people ready and able to splash out on Western brands.
Mediation has already started after another bad election in Africa.
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki was in Ivory Coast at the weekend to try to sort out the mess after election results ratified by the United Nations were rejected by the Constitutional Court, the army and incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, who had himself sworn in again as president quickly. His opponent Alassane Ouattara said he was president.
Mbeki, all smiles as he met Gbagbo, is used to brokering deals. He helped negotiate the deal for Zimbabwe’s unity government between President Robert Mugabe and now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, ending months of turmoil at the time. Tsvangirai had led in the first round in early 2008 but boycotted the second after violence against his supporters.
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – In the hunt for high-yielding assets in Africa, investors may need caution in judging whether risks justify returns that are in some cases near all-time lows.
While sub-Saharan Africa has established its place as one of the world’s best long-term prospects — the International Monetary Fund forecasts growth over 5.5 percent next year — some analysts and money managers question whether asset prices reflect all the dangers.
The ‘s’ in BRICs is lower case, pluralising the grouping of the world’s large and dynamic emerging economies. But South Africa’s aspirations to make it BRICS with a capital ‘S’ became clearer when Russia revealed Pretoria had “applied” to join.
Just what an application to join the BRICs means is still a bit unclear. Although Brazil, Russia, India and China have met for two summits and are due to hold a third in China next year to discuss common interests, the acronym was coined in 2001 by Jim O’Neill, now chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset management and at the time the bank’s chief economist.