When some of the most influential figures in emerging markets finance spoke to a group of Reuters editors, they were asked about top picks for growth beyond the so-called BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China.
One continent came up again and again – Africa – and one country in particular – Nigeria. Goldman Sachs global head of economic research, Jim O’Neill, highlighted the improvement in the growth-environment index of Africa’s giant over the past decade.
The first World Cup in Africa also highlights a dramatic change driven by forces more powerful than football.
While the competition may help change Africa’s image in the minds of any outsiders still fixated on cliches of bloodshed and famine, those in the know long ago spotted Africa’s emergence from no-go zone to frontier market and are seeing the returns.
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – From pulsating slums to the lavish mansions of the new rich, celebrations for the first World Cup in Africa also highlight a dramatic change driven by forces more powerful than football.
“It will help clear age-long beliefs that Africa and Africans are still in the stone age,” said veteran Nigerian sports broadcaster Larry Izamoje.
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Nelson Mandela’s great grand-daughter was killed in a car crash on Friday hours before the World Cup kicks off in South Africa, a tragic note amid revelry for the biggest sports event the continent has held.
Former President Mandela, 91, is credited with helping South Africa win the World Cup bid in 2004 as well as ending apartheid, and South Africans had hoped to see him at the opener between the hosts and Mexico despite his frail health.
South Africa’s place as the sole economic giant in Africa is set to decline in coming decades as its growth is outstripped by countries to the north that have emerged as some of the fastest growing in the world.
As part of a package of Reuters reports on Frontier Markets, my colleague Ed Cropley takes a look at the importance for South Africa’s future of positioning itself as a springboard to the rest of the continent.
“Europe possibly needs an Afribond,” commented one contributor this week on the Thomson Reuters chatroom for fixed income markets in Kenya.
A nice quip from Henry Kirimania of The Cooperative Bank of Kenya and a reminder of just how much better placed Africa is now in terms of its debt burden than it once was and particularly in relation to what might now be regarded as the world’s Heavily Indebted Formerly Rich Countries.
NAIROBI, May 12 (Reuters) – The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor will seek arrest warrants by the end of the year for up to six Kenyans from both sides of the election violence that killed 1,300 people in 2008.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo told Reuters during a five-day visit to Kenya that although there was evidence against many more people, he could only prosecute the two to three most responsible from both sides and would leave others for local courts.
"The plan is to present the two cases with six people before the end of the year and then we hope to have the hearings in 2011," he said in an interview. "We will select the worst incidents … There are more persons responsible, yes, I’ve got evidence against 20 more, yes, but I will select two or three."
The violence erupted after the opposition and the president’s party both claimed victory in a December 2007 poll. The ICC’s formal investigation began in March 2009.
The Rift Valley was the epicentre of the bloodletting and essentially pitted Kalenjin supporters of now Prime Minister Raila Odinga against Kikuyu backers of incumbent President Mwai Kibaki, who was eventually declared the winner.
Bringing those most responsible for the violence to justice quickly is seen by many Kenyans and crisis mediator Kofi Annan as key to avoiding a repeat at the next elections due in 2012 in east Africa’s biggest economy. Foreign donors and local markets are also closely watching the issue.
"If we are not doing justice in this case there will be chaos and more chaos and more violence," Moreno-Ocampo said.
A major fear among Kenyans is that if senior figures from only one side were targeted there would be more violence when the ICC names its chief suspects later this year.
BOTH SIDES RESPONSIBLE
But the prosecutor said both sides were in his sights. The security forces were responsible for hundreds of extrajudicial killings and Moreno-Ocampo said some of their crimes were committed as part of those by one of the political factions.
"We found that some of the allegations against the police form a pattern that could be connected with one of the cases," he said. "We can associate some of the police activities with some of the organisations who committed the crimes."
He would not say whether Kibaki and Odinga, who are now the leaders of the fragile coalition formed after the violence, could or could not be considered suspects. He said he did not know yet who would be charged.
"We will select the worst incidents, we will try to follow who committed them and we will decide according to the evidence who the parties will be," he said.
Moreno-Ocampo said it was not his responsibility to try and avoid further political upheaval and that elections would dictate political responsibility.
"I am following the evidence. I present criminal investigations, not political analysis," he said. "My only job is to end impunity for past crimes and prevent future crimes."
Moreno-Ocampo’s most high-profile target so far is Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has been charged by the ICC on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur conflict.
The arrest warrant for Bashir by the ICC, set up in 2002 as the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal, was the first ever issued for a sitting head of state.
The prosecutor said the fact Bashir was re-elected in March changed nothing, saying Adolf Hitler would no doubt have won if a poll had been held in Germany in 1942. But he said it might now take longer to bring Bashir to justice.
"Normally, heads of state are arrested after they are demoted," he said. "I hope he is demoted tomorrow." (Editing by Reed Stevenson)
It might surprise some that African business leaders are much more optimistic than the global average, which is what a new survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers shows.
The study, for which hundreds of executives were surveyed, suggested optimism had held up in Africa despite the global downturn.
Nigerian, Kenyan and South African banks have been making forays into the rest of the continent in search of growth so it was interesting to see Angola’s biggest bank opening an office in Johannesburg this month.
Banco Africano de Investimentos, Angola’s biggest bank by deposits, sees the office as a launchpad for ventures further afield in the southern African region as well as in business between Angola and South Africa.
Angola’s banking sector has enjoyed huge growth since the country emerged from a three-decade long civil war in 2002 as one of the world’s fastest growing economies thanks to booming oil production and high oil prices.
Nigeria’s former military leader Ibrahim Babangida has made clear his plans to run for president in next year’s election and for “IBB”, a self-proclaimed “Evil Genius”, to take such a decision can only be a sign that he thinks it is in the bag.
If elected, a generation would have passed since he plunged Nigeria into one of its darkest spells by annulling a 1993 election which was widely regarded as fairer than some of the few before and at least some of those since.