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Chinese President Xi Jinping bowed, rhetorically, to growing criticism of his country’s investment and aid programmes in Africa at the annual Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). He promised “five Nos” would govern China’s policies with the continent: no change to development paths, no domestic interference, no imposition of China’s will, no seeking of political gain and no “strings” to financial assistance. Xi said his country had “full respect for Africa’s own will.”
China’s aid programmes are winning “hearts and minds,” especially in Africa. AidData, which assesses development programmes in the College of William and Mary, in its 2017 Listening to Leaders Survey placed China’s aid programme as the 21st in the world in terms of “perceived influence,” up from 29th only three years ago. India’s aid programme saw a jump from 31st to 24th. This placed both of them higher on the table than the larger aid programmes of Japan and Canada.
Farmers in Niger have, through their own efforts, planted millions of Gao trees and successfully made degraded land fertile again. According to scientists, the Gao revolution is the largest scale positive transformation of the environment ever done in Africa. The best part is that the farmers have not been funded or pushed to do this: they have been planting Gao trees because they have experienced the remarkable regenerative capabilities of the tree.
South Africa’s outgoing anti-corruption investigator, public protector Thulisile Nomkhosi "Thuli" Madonsela, released a 355-page report on how much the Gupta brothers, an Indian business family originally from Saharanpur, held sway over the government of ex-prime minister Jacob Zuma. The report implicates Zuma, at least three of his ministers and the Guptas in a web of corruption.
Kofi Annan, the first black African to become United Nations Secretary-General and co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, died on August 18 at the age of 80. A Ghanaian by origin his many accomplishments include the creation of the Millennium Development Goals which provide targets for social development for developing countries to this day, the establishment within the UN of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council, and the setting up of the Kofi Annan Foundation.
A recent study by the Counter Terrorism Centre in West Point concludes that the Islamic State (IS) has nine regional branches in Africa and commands roughly 6,000 fighters across the continent. With the IS being wiped out in Syria and Iraq, its four-year-old presence in Africa may become its main base of operations and recruitment.

Just before his country went to the polls on July 30, former Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, announced he would not support his own party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), in the coming Zimbabwean elections. He said he would prefer the main opposition candidate, Nelson Chamisa.

Mugabe was overthrown in an internal coup by his own defence minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa. While ZANU-PF is expected to win, in part because of its control over the state…

Ethiopia’s diplomatic blitzkrieg also reflects the changing geopolitics of the Horn of Africa and its surroundings. These new alignments are largely being driven by the Persian Gulf struggle of Iran and Qatar versus Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. That is why the UAE played a backroom role in Prime Minister Abiy’s peace initiatives with Eritrea and Egypt.

The two sets of Gulf rivals had sought allies in the Horn because of the civil war in Yemen. In 2015, Djibouti ended the…

Ethiopia’s new leader, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, has been in office for barely four months but has already achieved the political equivalent of rock star status. Abiy came to power after months of protests against the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) forced the resignation of his predecessor. While Ahmed comes from one of the four constituents of the EPRDF, he is the first to come from the section representing the Oromo – the country’s largest but politically…

Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to South Africa for the annual BRICS Summit in late July. Along the way, he made state visits to Rwanda and Uganda. This was the first such a visit by an Indian leader to Rwanda.

In visiting Rwanda and Uganda, Modi completed an Indian diplomatic outreach to the countries of East Africa. India has focussed prime ministerial and presidential visits to the region as part of a larger attempt to develop stronger ties with littoral Indian Ocean nations.…

The Chinese government helped finance the $20-million budget of a film “China Salesman” starring martial arts star Steven Seagal and former boxer Mike Tyson that was released in English a few weeks ago. The film claims to be first Chinese film shot in Africa with a plot based on a “true story.”

The plot mirrors other Chinese-sponsored or Chinese made action films like “Wolf Warrior II” in portraying hapless Africans being exploited by white Europeans or Americans being saved by…

Beijing announced plans to host a China-Africa defence and security forum in China from June 26th to July. Chinese military officials say the forum will look at regional security, how China can help upgrade – and finance – African security forces and how to improve defence cooperation generally.

The move to institutionalize Sino-African defence cooperation is seen as a logical extension of the extensive economic and political relationship that has developed between Africans and…

Nearly 130 tech hubs were opened across Africa in the past two years, says the international telecom industry body GSM Association. The body said it had recorded 442 active incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces as of March 2018, up from 314 such places from two years before. Nigeria continued to experience the highest growth in such centres, seeing its numbers increase to 55 from 23 and placing it just four centres below traditional leader South Africa.

The survey said…

Some of India’s best-known tea companies have been setting up tea estates in East Africa. Luxmi Tea, owners of the Makaibari brand, McLeod Russel, Dhunseri Tea and Jay Shree Tea have set up tea-growing estates in Uganda, Malawi and Rwanda. The primary motive: the much fatter profit margins that accrue in Africa.

Business Standard reported that compared to margins of Rs 15-20 per kilogram earned from Assam tea, these companies were earning Rs 40-90 from Ugandan and Rwandan tea. Tea…

The Sahel nation of Niger has asked India to build a convention centre in its capital Niamey in preparation for its hosting of the 2019 African Union summit. New Delhi, which plans to name the centre after Mahatma Gandhi, sees this is an opportunity to promote India’s profile. It has agreed to provide a grant to finance the project. 

The Economic Times reported that similar Gandhi Convention Centres are being planned for eight other African countries: Uganda, Zambia, Malawi,…

South Africa’s new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has announced a drive to garner $100 billion in foreign investments to revive his country’s stuttering economy. The success of this campaign will be a crucial test of Ramaphosa’s plans to move South Africa away from the cronyism of his predecessor, Jacob Zuma.

Ramaphosa hopes a large portion of this will come in the form of Chinese capital. A large delegation of Chinese businesses from Zhejiang will visit South Africa soon. South African…

After two years of debate and delay, Tunisia’s parliament passed a Startup Act in April. The legislation’s passage was praised by Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed in a tweet “Tunisia has just passed the Startup Act. Another step to take our economy into the digital age.”

The Startup Act is seen as a major boost for entrepreneurship in a country whose economy has been battered by unemployment of 36 percent, huge foreign and government debts, a currency that has depreciated by…

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…

Pan-African economic integration is “gathering speed” says a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) report, “Pioneering One Africa,” and it is a group of African companies that are driving the process.
The report identifies 75 African companies across 18 countries, including airlines, financial institutions and telecom operators, which are leading the integration of the continent.  Half of these firms are South African. Ten of them, the next largest cluster, are from Morocco.

“On…

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…

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.