All Posts (111)

Remembering Africa's Goan Diaspora

Both the British and Portuguese empires recruited Goans to help administer their colonies in Africa. Other Goans simply migrated to places like Mozambique to seek work. Many of the Portuguese-speaking African countries but even the Anglophone East African states continue to have small groups of Indian-origin with roots going back to Goa. 

A review in the Mint newspaper recently looked at a set of books on some prominent African Goans and the experiences of that community that have…

Read more…

More Direct Flights to Africa

Air connectivity between India and Africa improved with the launch of three new air services. Air Tanzania introduced a three times a week flight between Mumbai and Dar es Salaam in July. Air India announced its intention to resume Mumbai-Nairobi flights in September. Ethiopian Airlines will start a service between Addis Ababa and Bengaluru from October. Direct flights between India and Africa remain rare with 80 per cent of traffic going via hubs in other parts of the world. There are…

Read more…

Angola's Mammoth Privatisation Drive

Oil-rich Angola will launch one of the biggest privatisation drives ever carried out in Africa later this year. The ambitious plan will cover 190 state-owned enterprises including 32 major firms and will last until 2022. Angola’s debt equals to 80% of its GDP, double the rate five years ago. Slumping oil prices have put pressure on its finances.

The Privatisation Programme, or ProPriv, will encompass the country’s ports, airlines, banks, insurance firms, medical centres, some of…

Read more…

Moody’s recently rated African countries on the basis of their ability to absorb potential negative economic and financing shocks through increased spending. Rwanda, Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire were rated as having high levels of flexibility when it came to government spending. Namibia, Mauritius, South Africa and Ghana, however, have 80 per cent of their budgets committed to mandatory spending. Namibia and Ghana have additional financial risk because of the weakness of their government’s…

Read more…

While the opioid crisis in the United States is garnering attention, Africa is home to a similar problem of widespread addiction to an over-the-counter opioid drug called tramadol. While tramadol is relatively mild, an illegal variant going under similar sounding names like Tramal but mixed with hashish and other toxic substances is becoming a major social problem in many parts of Africa and West Asia.
 
According to most reports, is manufactured in India and Pakistan, trafficked…

Read more…

Visas for Chinese Made Easier

Chinese nationals can now arrive in 27 African countries without applying for a visa beforehand, says a study on Chinese migration to Africa. The numbers of Chinese staying in Africa is difficult to ascertain but the Migration Policy Institute estimates them to be between one to two million. There is also no clear link between visitor numbers and the degree of Chinese investment in the country concerned. The primary reason for increased Chinese movement seemed to be an overall improvement in…

Read more…

Nigeria Set to be Polio-free

On August 21, Nigeria marked three years since it has reported a case of polio. With this milestone, Nigeria should be designated polio-free by the World Health Organisation in a few months. If the disease is officially declared gone in Nigeria, the entire continent of Africa has a good chance of being declared polio-free by 2020. 

Even seven years ago, Nigeria accounted for half of all polio cases in the world and was, along with Afghanistan and Pakistan, one of the three countries…

Read more…

Huawei Spying Scandal

Huawei, the controversial Chinese telecom firm, was accused of helping officials in Uganda and Zambia to spy on their political opponents. 

The Wall Street Journal article detailed how Huawei technicians helped Zambian security officers to get access to social media accounts of the opposition. Among other acts, the Chinese firm helped Zambian officials to spy on opposition bloggers running a news website critical of President Edgar Lungu. In Uganda, Huawei helped the government…

Read more…

A consortium of Indian firms and their partners in late June made the final decision to invest $ 20 billion to build a liquid natural gas terminal in Mozambique for the Rovuma Offshore Area 1 gasfield. Indian firms hold 26% share in the investment. The first gas shipments are expected in 36 to 48 months from now. Rovuma has over 2 trillion cubic metres  of gas, equivalent to roughly 70 years of India’s present annual gas consumption. The terminal will consist of two LNG trains with a total…

Read more…

Ghana, the Gold Coast Again

Ghana is the biggest gold producer in Africa, officially over taking South Africa last year. The West African state mined 4.8 million ounces of the yellow metal as compared to South Africa’s 4.2 million, capping a trend that had been evident for some years. 

Fifteenth century European traders who encountered the coastal area of Ghana dubbed the region the Gold Coast because of the wealth of its local kingdoms, notably the Asante. When it became a British colony it carried the name…

Read more…

Zimbabwe's Currency Crisis

Zimbabwe’s economy is struggling under triple-digit inflation, a fallout of the country’s continuing inability to maintain a stable local currency. The crisis has been compounded by a ban on the use of dollars for local transactions and a drought that has nearly halved the annual harvest. Inflation reached 175 per cent in June despite the government running a small budget surplus and raising interest rates to 50%. 

The opposition and some economists have argued the government…

Read more…

African Bonds Find Buyers

Among the 10 best performing bonds this year, six are from Africa, says the Bloomberg Barclays Emerging Markets Sovereign Index. Some of them have performed extremely well: Kenyan bonds have given 20% return, nearly double the index as a whole. 

Most African governments have junk or near-junk credit ratings but with a third of the global debt market giving negative or zero interest, investors have begun picking up these more exotic issues. Angolan Eurobonds, rated six levels…

Read more…

Too Many Summits

Japan will host its seventh summit with African leaders in August while Russia will hold its first in October. China concluded its version a few months ago. India will host its next summit next year as will the European Union. South Korea and Turkey are among the other countries who have joined the Africa summit fray. But African leaders are increasingly complaining about the plethora of such events and the costs involved in attending so many such events. There is also evidence of growing…

Read more…

Ebola Emergency

A year-long ebola virus breakout in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was officially declared “a public health emergency of international concern” by the World Health Organisation in mid-July. The outbreak has claimed over 1,600 lives with nearly 2,500 people having become infected. The declaration does not result in any trade or travel restrictions.
 
Bringing the Congo outbreak under control has been hampered by the lack of international funding and the provision of medical…

Read more…

Record Year For Fintech Funding

Africa’s fintech sector has raised $ 320 million in funding since 2015 and its ecosystem has grown 60 per cent in the past two years, according to a new report “Finnovating for Africa 2019: Reimagining the African Financial Services Landscape” by the agency Disrupt Africa. Last year was the best for the sector with $ 132.8 million in funding being raised. The number of African fintech firms has increased from 301 to 491 since 2017. Last year 210 African tech startups in all sectors raised…

Read more…

Africa Shrugs Off Huawei Concerns

Despite reports that Chinese equipment was behind a data security breach in its secretariat early last year, the African Union in May signed a new memorandum of understanding on ICT cooperation with the controversial Chinese electronics firms Huawei.  Even as the United States and other Western governments introduced bans on Huawei’s equipment, the Nigerian president visited one of the Chinese firm’s Beijing research centres in late May. The governments of major Huawei markets in Africa,…

Read more…

The Glory That Was Medieval Africa

The kingdoms of early medieval Africa were genuine rivals to their Western counterparts in wealth, power and even political development. A century and a half before Christopher Columbus, the kingdom of Mali sent unsuccessful expeditions of hundreds of ships to find the “limits of the Atlantic Ocean.” Mansa Musa famously brought between 13 to 15 tonnes of gold with him to Mecca, distributing so much he depressed gold prices for years afterwards. The kingdom of the Kongo elected its leader at…

Read more…

Gulf of Guinea’s Piracy Problem

The Gulf of Guinea is supplanting the Somali coast as the world’s primary centre of maritime piracy. A study by the Observer Research Foundation noted that piracy incidents along the 6000 kilometre gulf coast had jumped from 54 in 2014 to 112 in 2018. As there was no international naval patrolling in the area, unlike in Somalia, and local naval capacity was limited, the pirates were facing little in the way of pushback. 

The main local source of piracy was the Niger river delta…

Read more…

Tanzania Suspends Chinese Port

Tanzanian President John Magufili announced on June 14 he was suspending construction of the $ 10 billion Bagamayo port, the largest Chinese port project in East Africa and a key element of the Belt Road Initiative. He criticized the Chinese for placing conditions that would only be accepted by “mad people” including that no rival ports would be built along much of the coast, China receive a 99-year lease and that Tanzania should not question any investments made in the port area. Magufili…

Read more…

Egypt Moves to Save Water

Egypt has begun enacting tighter water management policies as it faces a decreasing supply of water from its lifeline, the Nile. The country’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation announced in May a 20-year plan to reduce consumption, encourage recycling of water and the use of desalinated water for urban centres. After many years of delay, the government placed a ban on the amount of water-intensive rice that farmers can grow.  But in a sign of how difficult it is to move away from…

Read more…

About the Author

Pramit Pal Chaudhury

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times, and Distinguished Fellow & Head, Strategic Affairs, Ananta Aspen Centre

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.