All Posts (76)

Italians Make a Return to the Horn

Fed up with the European Union’s inability to stop the waves of African migrants arriving in southern Europe, Italy is making a cautious return to its colonial-era stamping grounds of Eritrea in Ethiopia. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte made a state visit to the two countries in October last year, the first high-level outreach by Italy to the Horn of Africa since the 1990s. 

Conte’s action is partly a sign of Italy’s desperation regarding its refugee crisis. Illegal seaborne…

Read more…

Terror Threat to Mozambican Gas Plans

Suspected Islamic militants carried out two attacks on assets of the Anadarko Petroleum Corporation in Mozambique on February 21, killing one and injuring six. This represents the first coordinated attack by the militants, who operate in the northernmost Cabo Delgado province, against the $ 50 billion worth of natural gas investments planned in that area.

Anadarko has 75 million trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves in the offshore Rovuma gasfield. About a third of the…

Read more…

UK Loses Chagos Judgement

In a major victory for Mauritius, the International Court of Justice ruled on 25 February that the British occupation of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean was illegal. The World Court said the territory should be returned to Mauritius "as rapidly as possible" and portrayed it as the final stage of the decolonization of Mauritius. The ruling was advisory and non-binding. 

The Chagos archipelago, home to the military base of Diego Garcia on lease to the United States, is…

Read more…

Nigeria's Tech Brain Drain

Among the issues the new Nigerian government may need to address has been growing evidence that the country’s much lauded tech sector is beginning to suffer from a growing migration of its best tech minds to the West – and even other parts of Africa.
 
While part of this is about income, with even tech workers in South Africa earning substantially more than their Nigerian counterparts, the anecdotal evidence indicates the challenging business environment is even more of a…

Read more…

Buhari Re-elected In Nigeria

Nigerian President  Muhammadu Buhari was officially re-elected on 27 February for another term to lead Africa’s largest country. He defeated his closest rival, People’s Democratic Party candidate Atiku Abubakar, by nearly four million votes. Administrative problems and delays marred the election process, but the result has been accepted by the international community. 

The expectation is a second-term Buhari government will push ahead with its popular social welfare…

Read more…

Africa's Startup Boom

The total amount of startup funding in Africa rose nearly 400 per cent in 2018, says the latest venture investment report of WeeTracker. The actual number of deals doubled but funding rounds are increasingly over $ 5 million each. In total, African startups raised a record $725.6 million across 458 deals. 

Increased investor confidence in startups, especially Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya – the three largest hubs, has meant big ticket deals are increasingly common. The top 10…

Read more…

Congo's Testy Elections

The Democratic Republic of the Congo underwent its first peaceful transition of power in 60 years when its new president, Felix Tshisekedi, was sworn in on January 24th. The election result was highly controversial and there remains the possibility of unrest in the eastern part of the country where the defeated candidate, Martin Fayulu, remains popular. 

The national election commission had given Tshisekedi 38.5 per cent of the vote and Fayulu 35 per cent after the December 30…

Read more…

Ramaphosa Republic Day Guest

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was the chief guest at India’s 70th Republic Day celebrations, the second leader from Pretoria to have been so honoured. Nelson Mandela was chief guest in 1995. It was the fourth time the two leaders of India and South Africa have met in less than a year. 

Ramaphosa and Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed a three-year agreement to improve strategic and economic relations. The two countries agreed on the need for greater economic cooperation…

Read more…

How Ethiopia Flew Away

Ethiopian Airlines is the largest airline in Africa – and among the most successful aviation corporations in the developing world. A case study of how the airlines evolved into what it is today was carried out by the African Development Bank. 

The report describes how the airlines began in 1946, earned its wings through an agreement with the now defunct TWA, indigenised talent over a period of three decades and then endured the roller coaster of Ethiopia’s coups, civil war and…

Read more…

Madagascar: BPO Hub

Madagascar has emerged as one of the fastest growing business processing and outsourcing (BPO) centres in Africa. The Indian Ocean island country combines low wages and excellent broadband to provide francophone call centring services. 

There are now over 230 BPO firms in Madagascar employing nearly 15,000 people, up from nearly zero just a decade ago. One of the country’s remarkable strengths is the best broadband in Africa with speeds that better some developed countries like…

Read more…

Tale of Two Protests

The governments of Sudan and Zimbabwe have been unable to quell weeks of civil protests which have left dozens killed in both countries. 

Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst unrest since 1995 with rioting in Harare and most major cities. Inflation has soared to over 40 per cent, sharply reducing the buying power of urban poor. There are shortages of essential supplies like petrol and bread. 

President Emmerson Mnangagwa seized power in 2017, overthrowing…

Read more…

China Gets Somalian Fishing Rights

In December, Somalia announced it was granting tuna fishing licenses to 31 Chinese vessels along its coastline. 

Somalia has the longest coastline on mainland Africa and has struggled to tap its rich fishing resources or stop external fishing vessels from poaching in its waters. 

The one-year agreement would allow China Overseas Fisheries Association, a trawling company created by Beijing in 2012 to exploit overseas fishing rights, to have exclusive rights for tuna…

Read more…

Mombasa, the Next Hambantota?

A leaked report by Kenya’s auditor general reported that the country’s main port of Mombasa would be in danger of Chinese takeover if Kenya’s rail system failed to pay off a loan from China. The media reports were partly denied by the government but a number Kenyan newspapers demanded that Nairobi come clean on the terms of the loan. Some cited the example of Hambantota, the Sri Lankan port taken over by a Chinese firm as part payment for a loan. “Sri Lanka and Zambia have become textbook…

Read more…

US's New Africa Policy Targets China

The United States announced a new Africa strategy that would seek to counter the growing influence of “great power competitors” China and Russia. The new Africa Prosper strategy was outlined by the Trump administration’s National Security Advisor John Bolton on December 14th in a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC. 

There were three broad elements to the Africa strategy. 

One, the US would advance free and fair trade and commercial relations with the…

Read more…

Africa Largest Chinese Aid Recipient

Africa was the largest recipient of overseas Chinese development finance between 2000 and 2014, says a study by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC. 

The report calculated that China provided a total of $354 billion in loans, grants and other assistance to countries around the world. Just over a third of this was provided to Africa. China gave $ 121.6 billion for 2,390 projects, with 60 per cent of these being in the transport and energy sectors.…

Read more…

Angola’s J-Lo Anti-Corruption Drive

Politics in Angola, Africa’s second largest oil exporter, has caught observers by surprise. The new president, João Lourenço, has launched a vigorous anti-corruption crusade that has directly targeted his predecessor’s family, the powerful Dos Santos Clan. 

Lourenco, known popularly as J-Lo, was expected to quietly acquiesce to the family’s enormous  economic power, accrued during the 38-year rule of President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos. Instead, Lourenco has launched a number…

Read more…

Election Fever and Ebola in Congo

Congo, one of Africa’s largest but most fractious countries, saw its opposition parties agree in November to a single candidate for the December 23 presidential election, the relatively unknown politician Martin Fayulu. In keeping with Congo’s confused polity, this unity of purpose lasted just a few hours. The country will now face a three-way electoral battle, but one that is still likely to spell the end of Joseph Kabila’s 17-year long rule of the country.

Fayulu was chosen to run…

Read more…

Sudan Coming in From the Cold

The United States is moving towards ending Western isolation of Sudan. US State Department officials met with Sudanese Foreign Minister Al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed in Washington last month to finalise plans to remove the “state sponsor of terrorism” designation that is presently applied to Khartoum. 

Sudan was blacklisted in 1993 and has since been unable to attract foreign investors, access multilateral financial aid and otherwise benefit from the global economy. The Barack Obama…

Read more…

Africa’s Scientific Brain Drain

Africa suffers the worst brain drain problem of any developing region with even medium level skilled workers like nurses and technicians among those who leave. In the field of science the loss is even greater. The Global State of Young Africa survey of young African scientists has been trying to identify the barriers that they face to staying in the continent. The survey concluded that “the extreme factors include war and political instability. But the more common ‘pushes’ are a desire for…

Read more…

Red Ink Over Djibouti Train

The Addis Ababa-Djibouti freight railway, a much-touted component of the Belt Road Initiative in Africa, came under unusual criticism from a senior Chinese financial official. An official of the China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation, known as Sinosure, complained his agency had incurred $ 1 billion in losses because of the project’s poor planning.

The $ 4 billion railway is the economic backbone of a Chinese push for influence in the Horn of Africa. Though completed last year,…

Read more…

About the Author

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri writes on political, security, and economic issues. He previously wrote for the Statesman and the Telegraph in Calcutta. He served on the National Security Advisory Board of the Indian government from 2011-2015. Among other affiliations, he is a member of the Asia Society Global Council, the Aspen Institute Italia, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and the Mont Pelerin Society. Pramit is also a senior associate of Rhodium Group, New York City, advisor to the Bower Group Asia in India, a member of the Council on Emerging Markets, Washington, DC, and a delegate for the Confederation of Indian Industry-Aspen Strategy Group Indo-U.S. Strategic Dialogue and the Ananta Aspen Strategic Dialogues with Japan, China and Israel. Born in 1964, he has visited over fifty countries on five continents. Mr. Pal Chaudhuri is a history graduate from Cornell University.