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Opinion & Analysis (1024)

As the 37th SADC Summit kicks off, the longstanding question of how to best spur industrial growth and development in the region is at the top of policymakers’ agendas. Greater integration of countries into global and regional value chains is a key focus area given the summit’s theme: Partnering with the private sector in developing industry and value chains.
''If you are not at the table, you are probably on the menu.''
On 8 August Kenyans head to the polls to elect a president, parliament and local officials. The world will be watching closely as the two main candidates face each other for the second time. Uhuru Kenyatta (55) defeated Raila Odinga (72) in 2013 with 50.5% of the vote against 43.7%. Latest opinion polls agree that this contest will be tight, but differ on who is leading. IPSOS Kenya gauges 47% for Kenyatta and 43% for Odinga. Infotrak has Odinga narrowly ahead: 47% vs 46%. However, given the failures of opinion polls during the Brexit vote and the US Presidential elections…
The rapid expansion of Africa’s cities over the past decades has meant an increasing demand for infrastructure, service delivery and jobs. At the same time African policymakers, urban planners and researchers are clamouring to find innovative solutions to meet these demands. The onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – which will see a fusion of technologies that blur the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres – will compound these challenges and experts need to plan adequately for the disruptions.
As part of the G20 initiatives last week, the World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, or We-Fi, was launched. This was an idea initiated by Ivanka Trump at the April 'Women 20' meeting in Germany. We-Fi seeks to avail over US$1 million to empower women entrepreneurs in developing countries through access to finance, mentorships and technical training, as well as public policy advocacy and reforms on gender equality.
The ANC and the National Party were nationalist movements driven by grievance against the British.
In June, South Africa’s public protector announced there would be a new investigation into the #GuptaLeaks allegations of corruption at the highest levels of government. It’s a symptom of South Africa’s broader problems.
The 12th Summit of the G20 will take place on 7-8 July in Hamburg, representing the culmination of the German presidency of 2017. As expected the German government ran an effective presidency giving substance to the guiding theme, ‘Shaping an Interconnected World’ and building consensus under leading topics of ‘building resilience’, ‘improving sustainability’ and ‘assuming responsibility’.
G20 leaders will launch a Compact with Africa as the major new initiative of their 7/8 July summit in Hamburg, Germany.
Friday, 23 June 2017

Brave new world

We are a far cry from the 1800s and the so-called glory days of the British Empire, but sentimentality over ‘making Britain great again’ fuelled the British vote to exit the European Union (EU).
The Kingdom of Lesotho is a country of extremes: breath-taking beauty and widespread poverty. It’s classified by the UN as one of the least developed countries in the world.
In 2016, one of the defining terms when it came to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) political situation was 'le glissement'. Meaning 'slippage', this word was popularly used to refer to President Joseph Kabila’s efforts to stay in office by repeatedly delaying elections The strategy worked. Kabila’s mandate officially ended in December 2016, yet he is still president and there are still no signs of an upcoming vote.
It’s no exaggeration to say that African elephants are in grave danger. The forest elephant, native to Central Africa, is on the edge of extinction. Savanna elephants, in southern Africa, are being poached at a rate of roughly 27,000 a year.
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.