All Posts (119)

Africa Talk in America

Three African language groups are among the top ten fastest growing languages spoken at home in the United States, says a survey by the US Census Bureau. Swahili and related languages from East Africa, Yoruba/Igbo/Twi from Nigeria and Ghana, and Amharic/Somali from Ethiopia and Somalia make it to the list, reflecting the growing migration link between Africa and the US. Since the 1970s, African migration has doubled every decade though in absolute terms the numbers remain small. The US…

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Business Friendlier Togo

Togo and Nigeria saw their rankings jump in the most recent World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index. Togo jumped a remarkable 40 points, and now comes in at number 97 on the overall list. Nigeria jumped an impressive 15 points, but is still 131st on the list. Togo was rewarded for streamlining regulatory and administrative processes, and lowering electricity rates. Mauritius is the top-ranked African country in the list at 13th place.  South Africa saw its position fall two…

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African Union Reforms

The 2016 Kagame report outlined means by which the African Union could become more effective in promoting peace, security and prosperity in the continent. Among its more important recommendations was to dilute the AU’s tradition of non-intervention. The AU proved important in efforts to ease out illegitimate leaders in Gambia and Cote d’Ivoire. It was unabIe to build a consensus among neighbouring member-states when it came to suspect elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo and has…

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Putin’s Africa Summit

Underlining a growing footprint in the continent, Russia held its first African summit in Sochi on October 23-24. President Vladimir Putin hosted delegates from 54 African countries and described Russia’s Africa relations as “on the up.” The summit reflects a larger Russian pattern of seeking new diplomatic avenues following Western sanctions. Russia’s Africa policy remains limited, focussing on a handful of key countries and leaders, with an emphasis on military relations.

Russia…

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Nobel for Ethiopian Leader

Ethiopian President Abiy Ahmed became the twelfth African Nobel laureate. Ahmed won the peace prize for signing an agreement between Ethiopia and its northern neighbour Eritrea ending a decades-long territorial dispute that has resulted in armed conflict in the past. The award went along with local ethnic protests that claimed 67 lives, a reminder of Ahmed’s continuing political difficulties in home and the possibility of a difficult re-election campaign in 2020.

Some of the bloodiest…

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China’s Bagamayo Problem

Africa is known as a nodal point for China’s Belt Road Initiative, especially the continent’s Indian Ocean littoral.  Chinese influence on the continent has grown substantially as a consequence and Africans have expressed strong approval of China in surveys. Lately, however, falling commodity prices and greater scrutiny of Chinese debt requirements have resulted in political and commercial problems for some of these investments. These are some of the more recent…

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Tech in Africa

Naspers is second largest e-investor in India

South African fund, Naspers, is the second-largest overseas internet investor in India having put in $ 4 billion over the past five years. In an interview with The Economic Times, the head of Naspers Bob van Dijk, indicated India would remain a key market for the company which is now second only to SoftBank in the number of internet investments in the country. 

Naspers globally has a market capitalisation of $…

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Resources and Africa

India considering barter trade 

At least three African countries, Rwanda, Ghana and Zambia, have asked India to consider bartering its exports to their countries for minerals and other commodities. The African countries are facing shortages of hard currency and looking for ways to avoid dipping into their foreign exchange reserves. 

India’s State Trading Corporation is among the firms studying the proposals. Among the ideas being proposed: the railway…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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.