All Posts (85)

E-Commerce Firm Jumia Goes Public

Jumia, an e-commerce platform, went public on the New York Stock Exchange in mid-April and immediately reached a valuation of over one billion dollars. While branded by the media as “the first African tech startup" critics asked whether it was genuinely African and whether it represented a sound investment. 

Jumia claims to have four million dedicated users, of which about a third are in Nigeria, the company’s largest market. But the company lost one billion…

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General Haftar Goes to Tripoli

In the latest chapter in Libya’s continuing civil war, March saw the rebel army of General Khalifa Haftar move from its bases in Tobruk and Benghazi in eastern Libya all the way into the suburbs of the capital Tripoli. Neighbouring militia then mobilised to support the United Nations-backed Tripoli government and by mid-April Haftar’s offensive into Tripoli had started to grind to a halt. Reports of airstrikes and the arrival of armed patrol boats indicate the foreign backers of both Libyan…

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In an example of how Africa’s governments fail to benefit from their mineral sales, a Reuters analysis showed that the United Arab Emirates in 2016 imported more gold from Africa than any other country but almost none of this was listed in the export figures of the African countries concerned. 

The Reuters study showed that the UAE imported $ 15.1 billion worth of gold from Africa in 2016, about 446 tonnes of gold. Of the 46 African countries from which the UAE imports gold, 25…

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This year’s mini-Arab Spring ended the decades long reigns of Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algeria and Omar al Bashir in Sudan. The struggle of power between the entrenched politico-military establishments of the two countries and the popular movements dominating the streets, however, continues to play out. 

Sudan’s ruling Military Transitional Council and the opposition alliance, the Declaration of Freedom and Changes Forces, agreed in principle in mid-April to form a joint body to…

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A to Zoning of African Politics

Oxford University Press has published a new Dictionary of African Politics that puts together a lexicon of African political terms. Besides some difficult academic concepts like neo-patrimonialism, it also include the following:

Zoning: A Nigerian expression to describe the practice of alternating the presidency between the northern and southern parts of the country.

Skirt and Blouse Voting: A Kenyan expression to split one’s presidential and legislative votes…

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Rwanda Vs Uganda

Rwanda and Uganda relations have hit a new low with the former virtually closing its borders to all trade and human movement from its eastern neighbour. The falling out between Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, and Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, is the culmination of a series of incidents going back to two years.

Last year, Uganda arrested and dismissed a number of senior security officers claiming they were assisting the Rwandan authorities to track and extradite political…

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The head of Algeria’s ruling party, the National Liberation Front (FLN), on March 21 declared his party’s support for the popular protests calling for the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Media reports say Bouteflika, who has ruled Algeria for 19 years, may step down on April 28.

The protests began in February when Bouteflika, 82, announced plans to run for a fifth term as president and hold elections in April. In a mass movement that has drawn parallels to the…

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US Media on Africa

A study on US media coverage of Africa released in January concluded that not only does Africa receive little attention, what little it does is marked by negative stereotypes. The report, by the Norman Lear Center of the University of Southern California, looked at print, television and social media.

Among its findings were that Europe received about seven times more references than Africa; out of 700,000 hours of television programming only 25 major scripted storylines were…

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India Helps Out Mozambique

India was among the first international responders to arrive at the Mozambican port of Beira after it faced the full brunt of Cyclone Idai on March 15. Three Indian naval ships, INS Sujatha, INS Shardul and INS Sarathi, arrived with food, clothes, medicine and potable water five days after the storm hit the Mozambican coast. Mozambique’s defence minister visited the ships as the aid was transferred to the local defence forces. 

According to the Red Cross, the cyclone…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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.