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Opinion & Analysis (1011)

Meeting his counterparts in Europe on his first overseas trip in May, President Donald Trump failed to reassure them that the military alliance, which has been the backbone of the Atlantic relationship since the end of the Cold War, will receive the same degree of commitment from the US as in the past.
Industrialisation is a key driver of sustainable development. It creates jobs, adds value and promotes trade through greater integration into global value chains. At the same time, entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are critical to every economy by creating jobs and innovative goods, promoting a competitive environment and economic growth, and facilitating income distribution. The South African government recognises the need for entrepreneurship and SMEs’ engagement with industrialisation efforts to address some of the key socio-economic challenges in the country, particularly poverty, inequality and unemployment. However, South African entrepreneurs still face a number of constraints that hinder greater…
In 1979 Iran underwent an Islamic Revolution, surprising ‘experts’ around the world and transforming its country from a United States-supported monarchy to an Islamic Republic. The ideology of the revolution was rooted in teachings spread by Ayatollah Khomeini. His firm belief in the need for jurists who were experts in Islamic law and could act as guardians of the people came to shape not only the revolution but the new constitution, system of government, and the electoral system.
Earlier this year, president Xi Jinping strode the world stage at Davos with his statement that 'We should commit ourselves to growing an open global economy… Pursuing protectionism is like locking oneself in a dark room.'
On 7 May 2017, the French people spoke and elected Emmanuel Macron as their next President of the Republic. Gathering 66.06% of the votes against 33.94% for his opponent Marine Le Pen from the far-right Front National, this second round concludes an unprecedented presidential race in several respects. Beyond the victory of a newcomer in French politics, these elections marked a harsh side-lining of the two main parties – the Parti Socialiste and Les Républicains – as well as the significant rise of populist movements. While France faces a drastically altered political landscape, this election also matters for Africa.
The World Economic Forum on Africa met on 3-5 May in Durban, and discussions included the need to enhance nations’ development through technological advancement.
On 24 March, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its first order awarding financial compensation – on an individual basis – to the victims of the Bogoro village attack in 2003 in the Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The court sentenced Former Congolese warlord Germain Katanga in March 2014 to 12 years in prison (later reduced to eight years), on four counts of war crimes and one count of crimes against humanity for these atrocities. Breaking new ground, a symbolic compensation of $250 has been awarded to each of the 297 identified victims of those…
On 29 April, President Donald J Trump reached 100 days in office as president of the United States. A controversial head of state, whose election campaign and subsequent ascension to power was met with widespread criticism and resistance, particularly from large US cities, the dust certainly has not settled by now for his administration. Instead of assuaging fears and infusing greater certainty into global affairs, the announcement that his budget intends to cut $1 billion dollars in foreign aid and diplomacy to fund various ‘America First’ projects has the rest of the world concerned about the fate of peace, security…
  Sunday 23 April saw French citizens vote in the first stage of their presidential elections, with a second run-off stage for the two lead candidates Emmanuel Macron (of En Marche!) and Marine Le Pen (of the National Front) on 7 May. While Macron won a majority of the vote (65.8%) in the second round, the pertinent conversation to be had is not one of victories and losses, but one of opinions rather than outcomes – opinions that veer strongly towards the favourite new buzzword in politics: populism.
When it comes to the economic reputation of a country are credit rating agencies (CRAs) part of the problem or part of the solution? This question has received increasing focus since the 2008 financial crisis, particularly in light of the impact these agencies’ ratings can have on already vulnerable countries by affecting their ability to access capital markets and, importantly, foreign direct investment.
'Our transformation will be built through economic participation, partnerships and mobilisation of all our capacities.' said ex-Minister Pravin Gordhan, during his 2017/18 budget speech. At the heart of Gordhan’s proposed strategies to further inclusive economic development, with the help of the private sector, lies the potential of South Africa’s cities to stop dividing people and instead act as the agents of transformative economic growth. It is here, in cities, that South Africa has the opportunity to break the patterns that have led to its current inequalities, by, for example, rethinking urban planning to address unemployment, economic exclusion and marginalisation. But…
With the passing of struggle stalwart Ahmed “Uncle Kathy” Kathrada this week, we are freshly reminded of his legacy in the anti-apartheid movement as well as that of other struggle heroes who fought for freedom. Among them are ANC President Oliver Reginald Tambo and Steve Bantu Biko, the liberation activist murdered by security police 40 years ago, both of whom were commemorated on human rights day last month.
On 3 April the sword that had been dangling over our heads for the last two years finally came down – South Africa was downgraded by S&P Global to sub-investment grade with a negative outlook. But we may be in ‘good’ company. We have joined both Brazil and Russia in the junk status club. However, our rand-denominated debt is still two notches above sub-investment level, albeit with a negative outlook. As most of our debt is rand-rather than dollar-denominated this is a silver lining.
In a midnight press-release, President Zuma announced the results of his latest cabinet reshuffle, that predictably included the sacking of the country’s revered Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan.
Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum, argues that the single most important challenge facing humanity today is how to understand and shape the new technology revolution. What exactly is this revolution, and why does it matter, especially for Africa?
A prominent thread in the conversation about Africa’s development since the end of the Cold War has been the need for good governance. The continent’s resource and economic constraints have posed serious problems but a consensus has emerged that Africa’s success would hinge on getting its policies, institutions and public administration in order. This need for good governance was underscored by the tide of democratisation in the 1990s.
Today’s global political landscape is characterised by a number of disruptions to the status quo. A challenge to democracy revealed itself in the form of populism, as the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s win attested. The threat of climate change, violent extremism and mass migration continues to shake Africa. In the midst of these developments, the 28th African Union (AU) Summit, held in Addis Ababa last month, on 30-31 January 2017, was markedly different to previous meetings.
If the first two months are anything to go by, 2017 will be an unusual year for Africa as two of its largest trading partners – China and America – are undergoing major political and economic transitions.
This year's African Union (AU) January summit, appropriately themed around the potential of the continent’s youth, sought to position the continental body to meet the challenges of the coming decades – an era during which the continent, having fallen behind its global peers, is pursuing a decisive developmental breakthrough.
‘Grandpa, it’s enough.’ Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters party in South Africa, has called for President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe to step down and not ‘overstay his welcome’. At 92, Mugabe is the oldest president in the world, bearing ironic comparisons to the gods of Ancient Greece. Like Zeus, who refused to share power with his siblings, Mugabe is unlikely to step down anytime soon.
So much has been said about Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s term as Chairperson of the African Union Commission already, that regardless where one sits in estimation of her, good or bad, she certainly shook things up! Not only was she the first female AUC chair, but in a complete break with tradition, she was also the first South African. The furore surrounding her election continued throughout her tenure as her brash style proved difficult for many African diplomats to swallow.
How drastically the world has changed since this time last year. The cumulative odds on a Trump electoral win and a ‘yes’ to the Brexit referendum were 20 to 1. This shows how poor we are at predicting events, Black Swan events especially. Nonetheless, fund managers are tasked with interpreting data and predicting future trends to allocate clients’ capital efficiently. With the 2017 ‘Investing in African Mining Indaba’ how should they be thinking?
After his inauguration on Friday, Donald Trump is now the 45th president of the United States. His decidedly short inauguration speech evoked his central narrative of populism and domestic focus, with very little foray into policy detail.
Before fleeing over the weekend, President Yahya Jammeh plunged his country into a political crisis whose outcome will resonate far beyond Gambia’s borders. Having conceded victory to opposition candidate Adama Barrow after the 1 December election, Jammeh reversed himself a week later.
South Africa has variously styled itself as a ‘bridge’ between the North, the global South and Africa as well as a ‘gateway’ into the continent. It also sees itself as a spokesperson for Africa, given its membership of the alliance of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa BRICS and the G20.
Just at the time that the world signed a landmark development compact – the 2030 Agenda – and climate change agreement, the slogan ‘Take our country back’ or ‘Make America great again’ became the clarion anti-establishment call in parts of Europe and the US. The liberal international order, especially of the last 25 years, is considered by many analysts to be under threat and Germany is regarded by some as a bastion against its decline.
Just ten days into his tenure as United Nations’ Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres chose his first formal address to the UN to be about the importance of conflict prevention and sustaining peace. At a UN debate sponsored by the government of Sweden on 10 January, the new SG said, ‘Prevention is not just a priority, but the priority.’
There is an increasing global demand for food, water and energy. All three are inter-linked, a fact that has increasingly become the focus of attention for policy makers and governments.
China has published a notice that the processing and sale of ivory and ivory products 'will be stopped by December 31, 2017.' Following a decision taken at the latest Convention on International Trade in Endangered Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) conference to end all domestic trade in ivory, China has duly made a credible commitment to this end.
On December 15 2015, President Jacob Zuma assented to the controversial Protection of Investment Act when much of the South African public was on a festive holiday break. This piece of legislation is meant to replace the bilateral investment treaties that SA terminated in 2012, resulting in consternation and outcry from the international investment community based in the country.