All Posts (111)

Starting Up in Africa

There is increasing evidence Africa’s nascent tech startup culture has evolved to a new level. For the past decade the continent’s startup funding was dominated by angel and early-stage investors who operated in the $ 10,000 to $ 50,000 range. The past few years have seen deals up to $ 100,000 making their appearance. What was missing were Series A fund deals involving six-figures. These are now taking place regularly.

In one week in April, the continent saw Lagos based…

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America, Africa and Rexit

The five-nation tour of Africa by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in early March was completely overshadowed by his dismissal, via Twitter, by US President Donald Trump as the secretary returned from his tour.

During his tour Tillerson outlined the current US policy towards Africa. The policy acknowledged the economic and demographic rise of the continent, noted the need for greater intra-African economic ties but also warned against China’s model of infrastructure…

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Sino- Africa: Hides and Polls

Chinese impact on Africa continues to manifest itself in curious ways. How Chinese demand for ivory and rhino horn is encouraging poaching in Africa is well-known. Less known is that a similar Chinese belief in the potency of donkey meat is causing serious problems for the lowly African donkey.

Donkey skin is used for ejiao, a Chinese traditional medicine used for a number of ailments ranging from anemia to impotency. Ejiao production, reported the Guardian, consumes four million…

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Indian Envoys and Energy

India made two major policy announcements regarding Africa in March.

The Indian cabinet approved the opening of 18 new Indian embassies in Africa covering a host of countries that, until now, India had no direct diplomatic presence. This will expand the number of missions India has in Africa to 47 and helps New Delhi to fulfil promises it had made during the last Indo-Africa Forum Summit.

According to the Public Information Bureau the countries to be covered are Burkina Faso,…

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Panther's Progress

The Hollywood superhero movie, Black Panther, caused unusual cultural ripples in Africa and among black people globally. The movie, based in a fictional East African nation of Wakanda and based on a 1960s Marvel comic, was notable for having an African hero, a cast that was almost completely black, and portraying Wakanda as wealthy, socially peaceful and possessing of advanced technology.

Black Panther did well in the Indian box office, pulling in Rs 248 million in its opening…

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Fall of Two Leaders

South Africa and Ethiopia experienced regime change this month. Domestic political upheaval led to their respective leaders resigning their offices, though in somewhat different circumstances.

South African President Jacob Zuma was forced to resign on February 14th when his own party, the African National Congress, threatened to support a vote of no confidence against him. Zuma sought to avoid resigning right to the last, agreeing only when it became clear the vote would go against…

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Illicit Capital Flows

The OECD released a report on illicit financial flows from West Africa showing how these flows – driven by corruption, trade fraud and crime – undermined the capacity of regional governments to finance their development. While a common phenomenon in the developing world and Africa as a whole, the report argued West Africa felt this problem more “acutely.” Illicit financial flows are estimated to cost Africa about $ 50 billion a year in lost funds, greater than the continent’s total foreign…

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China's Hard Win, Soft Loss

In January last year Nigeria ordered the Taiwanese trade office to relocate from the capital, Abuja, to Lagos. Two months later it delivered further humiliation saying the office director should leave the country because his “security” could not be guaranteed. When Taiwan resisted, military personnel in June sealed the Abuja office.

Last month, the Taiwan trade office reopened in Lagos. But Nigeria has warned it plans to review the reciprocal understanding that allows for the trade…

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Single Aviation Market

Africa took a large step towards making itself a single aviation market with the coming into force of the Single African Air Travel Market on January 28. Twenty-one African countries representing 670 million people are the initial signatories to the agreement. The SAATM includes Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya and Mozambique among its first members.

Modelled after similar treaties governing air travel in Europe and Latin America, the agreement is expected to promote…

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Delay in Natural Gas from Mozambique

Indian hopes for a natural gas bounty from its offshore holdings in Mozambique have been put off until 2022. ONGC Videsh, Oil India and Bharat Petroleum control 30% of the Rovuma Area 1 offshore gasfield with proven reserves of 75 trillion cubic feet. It had originally been hoped gas production would start by 2019.

The reasons for the delay seems to be threefold. Political and economic instability in Mozambique has slowed down decision making in the country. The other consortium…

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Digital Africa

Africa’s startups raised a record $195 million in 2017, a sharp increase of 51 per cent, according to a report by Disrupt Africa. Almost a third of this venture capital went into financial technology, indicating an investor assumption that more and more Africans will move to mobile banking in the coming years.

Somewhat like Indians, 83% of Africans remain outside the formal sector. Some analysts believe the success of M-Pesa and similar mobile digital payments in Africa indicates many…

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China Spies on African Union

In a seeming case of Chinese espionage, data has been transferred from servers in the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia to Shanghai for five years at unusual times of the day.

China had built and equipped the African Union headquarters as a gift five years ago, providing the building with all its electronic systems. In January 2017, technicians at the African Union discovered that data transfers from their servers were peaking between midnight and 2 am — when the headquarters…

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Wars Along the Nile

The countries along the Nile and its tributaries are becoming tangentially involved in geopolitical battles emanating from West Asia. Simultaneously, a separate local dispute over the control of the Nile’s waters is beginning to bubble.

An internal Arab Sunni rivalry puts Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt on one side and Qatar and Turkey on the other. The confrontation is partly ideological – Qatar and Turkey support the Muslim Brotherhood and are close to Shia Iran,…

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Present and Future Elections

Kenya’s contested election continue to be a source of political friction. After the courts ruled that the first round of the elections was tainted, an equally flawed second round was held. In both cases, the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta emerged as the winner.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga had boycotted the second round after evidence surfaced of political interference in the workings of the election commission. He has spoken of forming a parallel government complete with a swearing-in…

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Zuma Down, But Not Out

Last week South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, selected Cyril Ramaphosa as its new leader defeating the candidate backed by President Jacob Zuma. While this has been interpreted to mean the beginning of the end of Zuma’s scandal-ridden rule, Ramaphosa will find the path to cleansing the South African system long and difficult.

Zuma and his coterie, have been responsible for what is rated the most corrupt regime in South Africa’s history. An estimated $11 to $15…

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China's Commodity Slowdown

How much did the global commodity downturn effect China’s economic relations with India? The first China Africa Economic Bulletin of Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies has attempted to calculate the impact.

The first shock was an enormous drop in Chinese imports from Africa. Between 2014 and 2015, Chinese imports dropped 42%, from $ 79.8 billion to $46.1 billion. The primary cause was the dramatic fall in the price of oil, China’s largest import from…

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Turkey's Somalia Crush

Passengers of Turkish Airlines last month found a complimentary magazine on their seat with a cover story on the opportunity Africa represented for Turkish firms. Ankara has made a concerted bid to expand trade and investment ties with not only its traditional markets in North Africa but increasingly in sub-Saharan Africa as well. Part of Turkey’s new Africa policy, however, also derives from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s belief that his government needs to develop a larger global…

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Overthrow of Mugabe  

Robert Mugabe, the only ruler Zimbabwe has known, resigned on November as his party, ZANU-PF, moved to impeach him. The 93-year-old Mugabe ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years and was Africa’s second-longest ruling president at the time of his removal. His vice-president and the man behind the intra-party coup, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was sworn in on 23rd November as his successor.

His fall was precipitated by his decision to sack…

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China Tightens Grip on Congo's Cobalt

The global push for electric vehicles is set to make cobalt one of the world’s most strategically important elements. Over 60 percent of the world’s cobalt comes from one country: the sprawling central African country officially called the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Chinese firms already control most of the cobalt trade from the Congo and recently showed their intent to further tighten their grip on this all-important element. 

In late September, the Congolese Mines…

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Strategic and Beautiful Djibouti

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind became the first Indian head of state to visit the tiny enclave nation of Djibouti. Djibouti recently became host to China’s first Indian Ocean military base, but reflecting its strategic location at the confluence of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden it is also home to bases by France, the United States and Japan.

Lonely Planet, however, has listed it as one of the top tourist destinations of 2018. This is because of Djibouti’s unusual geology. Says…

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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.