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H I G H L I G H T S

•  SPECIAL FOCUS: AFRICA TECH

Four Unicorns

Covid lockdowns pushed many Africans to use digital platforms for payments and shopping. Many continue to do so even as the pandemic recedes. This is leading to a frenzy of new products and investments in Africa's digital economy. African startups have raised $3.1 billion in the first half of this calendar year, ensuring they will surpass the $ 4.4 billion raised in all of 2021. In 2019, they raised only $1.4 billion. 

Three of the

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H I G H L I G H T S

•  UKRAINE WAR’S ECONOMIC FALLOUT
•  LOCAL RESPONSES
•  EUROPE LOOKS TO AFRICAN GAS
•  POLITICS AND UKRAINE WAR
•  RUSSIAN MILITARY STEPS
•  MINING AND MOZAMBIQUE
•  VAX PLANT TO CLOSE
•  BITCOIN WARNING
•  NOT SO JOLLY ROGERS
•  E-COMMERCE OF BLOOD
•  TOOZE ON AFRICA

UKRAINE WAR’S ECONOMIC FALLOUT

The economic repercussions of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has put paid to hopes for a robust African economic recovery. With the Covid-19 pandemic receding, the International M

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H I G H L I G H T S

•  COUPS AND THE KREMLIN
•  FOURTH COVID WAVE 

COUPS AND THE KREMLIN

While the world’s attention is on the Ukraine, Russia is extending its influence into Francophone regions of the Sahel in countries like Mali and Burkina Faso. The latter two countries recently had coup d’etats against weak democratic governments, joining other military takeovers in nearby Guinea and Chad. While Burkina Faso and Mali both have a long history of coups, these were partly precipitated by army a

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H I G H L I G H T S

•  ETHIOPIA UNDER SIEGE
•  SUDAN’S COUPSTERS
•  BLINKEN’S TOUR
•  MOZAMBIQUE ARMS UP
•  ISLAMIC STATE FACTIONS
•  DROUGHT AND BRIBES

ETHIOPIA UNDER SIEGE

Embattled Ethiopian president, Abiy Ahmad, signalled an interest in mediation efforts led by the African Union and the United States as his country’s present civil war completed its first year. Abiy had used the Ethiopian army to end Tigrayan control of the Ethiopian government last year. But ethnic Tigrayan guerrillas defea

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H I G H L I G H T S

•  NEW CHINA DEBT STORY
•  GUINEA GAMBIT
•  COBALT IN THE CONGO
•  KENYA’S TRAIN OF DEBT
•  GHANA AND OTHERS
•  LESSONS FROM INDIA

NEW CHINA DEBT STORY

China is changing how it provides finance to African governments with a shift to smaller, more targeted loans and grants. State-backed financial institutions like the Export Import Bank of China and the overseas investment insurance agency Sinosure are more choosy about extending credit. One consequence: European export financ

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H I G H L I G H T S

•  CHINA’S AFRICA STRATEGY

CHINA’S AFRICA STRATEGY

Based on the writings of Chinese stategists, Nadege Rolland of the Washington-based National Bureau of Asian Research concludes in the report “A New Great Game? Situating Africa in China’s Strategic Thinking” that Beijing has an emerging, but seemingly informal, strategy regarding Africa. China “aims at making the continent fit into a new subsystem comprising much of the ‘global South’ that China aspires to dominate.” By pers

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H I G H L I G H T S

•  NIGERIA ON THE BRINK
•  COVID THIRD WAVE
•  POLITICAL UPDATE
•  DARK SIDE OF INDIA IN AFRICA

NIGERIA ON THE BRINK

Embattled Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari asked the United States for assistance to tackle a spreading wave of insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and secessionist violence that is threatening to undermine Africa’s largest country. Reports that Buhari had gone as far as to ask the US secretary of state Tony Blnken to move the headquarters of the US African Co

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MOZAMBIQUE LNG PLAN ON HOLD

Mozambique’s $24.1 billion Afungi liquefied natural gas (LNG) project received a major setback after French energy firm Total put construction activities on hold following renewed attacks by insurgents. Indian firms Oil India and ONGC Videsh together own a 30% stake in the terminal, the largest Indian investment on the continent.

Total closed down the terminal site and cancelled all construction contracts after a force of about 100 insurgents overran the nearby port o

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INFRASTRUCTURE STIMULUS

AU & AFC New Push. The African Union is setting up an infrastructure fund to help bridge the continent’s infrastructure financing deficit of $ 60 to 90 billion a year. Raila Odinga, African Union’s high representative for infrastructure, said the continent was facing infrastructure financing difficulties thanks to donor fatigue and higher debt levels. China, one of the biggest external funders of infrastructure in Africa, has sharply reduced its funding because of fears o

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100,000 COVID DEATHS

Africa passed 100,000 confirmed Covid-19 deaths this month with signs the continent’s healthcare systems are struggling to contain the virus. “We are more vulnerable than we thought,” the director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong. Lack of oxygen, ventilators and other medical equipment is proving to be a major issue. The continent’s leaders have also complained they are last on the list when it comes to the supply of Covid vaccines,

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ETHIOPIA’S POWER SHIFT

The Ethiopian Federal Army has retaken control of most of the rebellious province of Tigray following fighting that began in November. Pockets of resistance continue in the mountainous region, leading to new waves of refugees crossing the border into Sudan. Ethiopia has deployed more troops and built fences along its Sudanese border area to block refugee movement. The presence of Eritrean soldiers in Tigray, working in tandem with Ethiopian troops, has been confirmed and

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Ethiopian Province Rebels

A spreading military confrontation between the Ethiopian regime of President Abiy Ahmed and the Tigrayan provincial government could become a larger regional struggle, drawing in neighbouring Eritrea and Sudan. 

Tigrayans, a small ethnic group in northern Ethiopia, wield disproportionate political influence thanks to their lead role in overthrowing the military regime in 1991. Since then, Ethiopia has been ruled by a coalition of regional parties representing the major

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COVID May Force Zambian Default

Zambia may be the first African government to default on its sovereign debt because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Zambian President Edgar Lungu’s government is seeking “the suspension of debt service payments for a period of six months” from private creditors holding around $3 billion in international bonds. Zambia blamed “a combination of declining revenues and increased unbudgeted costs caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.” Bondholders will meet with Zambian officials

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Crises in the Sahel

Mali coup. A military coup in Mali highlights the multiple challenges facing the governments in Africa’s Sahel region: multiple Islamicist insurgencies, tribal conflicts over water and land, and overall environmental degradation thanks to climate change.

Mali’s embattled president, Boubacar Keita, was overthrown on August 18 by military officers who say they will rule for at least three years. The crisis combines two trends, one in the Sahel and the other among Francophone

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Seven COVID Risk Profiles
 
A detailed study of the Covid-19 pandemic in different African countries showed a distinct set of risk profiles as determined by four factors: international exposure, urban population, age and press freedom. 
 
Gateway countries had high levels of international engagement including tourism and trade. This group of countries, which comprise the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa and Algeria, account for 64% of all reported Covid-19 cases and

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African Supply Chains Go Local
 
The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted supply chains for foreign goods into Africa and made local entrepreneurs recognize the need to prioritize local manufacturing. Many retailers in Africa had simply imported goods, flying in products from China and India and then reselling them. British property consultancy Knight Frank showed in a recent study that transport costs constitute 50-75% of the prices of African retail goods.
 
"People want to get rich quickly, so the

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Covid Helps Somalia Consolidate

The Somali government is using the pandemic to strengthen its legitimacy at a time when its control of the southern part of the country is challenged by Al Shabaab, an Al Qaeda affiliate, and the northern areas of Somaliland and Puntland are quasi-independent. 

One, the Somali authorities, arguing they needed to spend their funds on responding to the virus, persuaded European governments to pay off their outstanding $ 500 million debt to the World Bank and African D

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Africa And COVID-19
 
First Recession in 25 Years: The Covid-19 pandemic and the commodity and tourism crash it has triggered will push Africa into a recession for the first time in 25 years, said the World Bank. Africa may be the worst-affected continent by the present crisis. 

The World Bank calculates sub-Saharan Africa will see growth fall from 2.4% in 2019 to between -2 to -5% this year. The Bank’s vice-president for Africa, Hafez Ghanem, said, “African countries are likely to be hit partic

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Pandemic Arrives in Africa
 
By the end of March, the World Health Organisation had confirmed 4,351 cases of Covid-19 and some 135 deaths across Africa. The continent's under-resourced health services has made the virus’s spread in the continent of particular concern. WHO says its statistics are “likely to significantly underestimate” the true number of cases. Forty-six countries have been affected on the continent. A number of African governments, such as Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Zambia, hav

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Africa Digest | February 2020

US Visa Blocks Undermine Policy

The United States continues to send crossed-signals regarding its policy to Africa. On one hand, the Trump administration controversially issued visa restrictions against citizens of four African countries and is preparing to reduce US involvement in military operations in the Sahel region. On the other, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right after the Munich Security Conference, travelled to Senegal, Angola and Ethiopia - to make the case for stronger economic r

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About the Author

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri

Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times And Distinguished Visiting Fellow- AAC

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.