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Opinion & Analysis (1024)

As the city of Maputo prepares itself to host the World Economic Forum African summit this week under the theme Engaging Business in Development it is apt to reflect on the economic track record of Africa.
Tony Blair's Africa Commission is due to make its report public on how to assist African development early next year. What should this report contain? The problem for Blair and his fellow travellers is not that they lack the best intentions. The commission's establishment is an indication of the priority the UK prime minister has attached to Africa, which, he has said, is a "scar on the conscience of the world".
Why are most Africans in Sub-Saharan Africa poor and why are they getting poorer while most people in the rest of the world are becoming better off? The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund who have become Sub-Saharan Africa’s fairy godmother and godfather respectively, every year churn out statistics that tell the same tale – Africans are poor and in many instances have fallen so far down it is difficult to imagine them getting poorer. With poverty and growing impoverishment go conflicts over scarce and shrinking resources. Hence Sub-Saharan Africa’s apparently never ending cycle of violent conflicts.
A recent survey by the South African Institute of International Affairs on the experience of South African companies and subsidiaries operating in Egypt found that most regard it as a promising market.
Ghana's New National Patriotic Party government is facing a keenly awaited political contest in December when Ghanaians go to the polls to elect a new president and parliament. But Ghana's robust economic growth over the past four years under President John Kufuor's leadership is the government's trump card.
EGYPT faces the first contested presidential elections in its history next Wednesday. President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling party, the National Democratic Party (NDP), is poised to win. Mubarak’s liberalisation of the economy, the introduction of fiscal, monetary and institutional reforms, and the country’s relative political stability are his trump cards. For international and local investors this means a continuation of investment-friendly policies.
MINING in Africa appears to be the lifeline for the viability and sustainability of SA’s mining giants, which are facing rising costs related to deep-level mining and ageing mines. A recent survey by the South African Institute of International Affairs, conducted among South African mining firms on their African operations, has found that most respondents see the continent as a promising market.
Although Africa boasts some lucrative emerging markets and oil and gas fields that, once fully operational, could be geo-strategically important for the North (given the volatility of the Middle East), the continent is off the radar screen of most foreign investors. In fact, its natural and mineral resources have been more bane than boon. It is up to African governments to lead they way in ensuring that Africa is put on the international business map.
Ghana has emerged as the hub for SA companies seeking to do business in West Africa. This is at the expense of the larger Nigeria, which is still seen as a risky investment destination, and Côte d'Ivoire, which descended into civil war two years ago.
THE World Economic Forum meeting in Cape Town will discuss the role that the private sector, and specifically SA, can play in supporting the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad).
With its capital and principal port of Dakar located on the westernmost point of Africa, Senegal is poised to become the gateway to Francophone west Africa. The semi-arid former French colony is regarded as the economic success in the region with its strong commitment to the rule of law and democratic institutions.
A prevailing dilemma for leaders from the Group of Eight (G8) and Africa centres on the future prospects of the much-hailed New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad).
The ambitious eastward expansion of the European Union (EU), emphasised by the European Commission's recommendation to begin accession negotiations with Turkey, has not assuaged fears in SA and on the continent of a potential declining European focus on Africa.
22 April 2005, Business Day DEVELOPING Asia is moving up SA’s strategic agenda. In recent months China and India have dominated the headlines as we move to start free-trade negotiations with them. Those processes, particularly that with China, are proving contentious. Partly in consequence, little attention has been paid to southeast Asia.
China has captured the world's attention. There are two reasons for this: 1.3 billion people and a rate of economic growth doubling the economy every five years since 1980.
READERS of these pages should be aware of the regular statistical consommé on China and the effect of its economic growth. For example, if the People’s Republic had to reach US car ownership levels, it would consume more oil than is currently produced daily and the 600-million cars on China’s roads would be more than all the cars in the world today; and if the Chinese annually ate as much fish per capita as the Japanese, they would consume the entire world fish harvest.
THE test of a democracy is not whether its leaders never fall foul of the law, or bring high office to disrepute. It is whether — if, or when, they do — leadership understands the responsibility of applying the principle of zero tolerance of corruption unequivocally. By that count, SA has earned kudos in recent weeks: progress on Travelgate, and most notably the bold move of releasing Jacob Zuma from his responsibilities as deputy president.
Africa needs China. As in other parts of the developing world, China’s insatiable appetite for natural resources is creating unprecedented demand for commodities, pushing prices to new highs and fuelling economic growth across the continent.
As an election observer in the general elections in Mozambique at the beginning of this month, I criss-crossed the north-western province of Tete in order to cover as many polling stations as possible. Passing baobab trees on our way to polling stations in tiny villages, my observer team from the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA) came across many others on the same mission: numerous local observers, a team of parliamentarians from the southern African region, and international observer groups from the European Union (EU), the Commonwealth and the Carter Centre.
When floor crossing was first introduced its expediency was camouflaged in the diaphanous cloak of “conscience”. If it was diaphanous then, it has no semblance of apparel now. And the emperor has been exposed.
In late February a diplomatic flurry in the regional trading firmament erupted.  Our Foreign Minister stated in Parliament that the EU, out of fear over the Chinese trade "threat", is using Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the EU to lock in old colonial trading relationships. Subsequently Peter Mandelson, EU Trade Commissioner, descended on Pretoria and Gaborone. What is going on? 
As published on allAfrica.com After a brief stop in Chad last week, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France went on to visit a country not traditionally part of the French area of influence in Africa - South Africa. The trip was made against the backdrop of a complete overhaul of France's Africa policies, in which Sarkozy is proclaiming partnerships with equal nations instead of relations based on old colonial ties. Romy Chevallier of the South African Institute of International Affairs explains the background.
The despatching of 135 Chinese peacekeeping troops to the troubled Darfur region this week as part of the UN-AU hybrid force highlights the changing role that China is playing in Africa.  Once opposed to any form of international intervention in the domestic affairs of states, the Chinese government is becoming an active participant in UN peacekeeping, providing over 7500 military observers, engineers, medical teams and other specialists in support of peace and stability.  Indeed, since 1990 China has sent troops to 15 UN peacekeeping missions ranging from East Timor to Western Sahara, making it the largest contributor among the five…
China is an enigma. It continues to be a communist state while at the same time depending on capitalist dynamics to achieve economic progress and a prosperous society. It is also a land where both vestiges of an ancient civilization and manifestations of a modern nation serve to confirm its position as a leading civilization.
The extravagance on show at the China-Africa Summit in Beijing last November marked the beginning of a consolidation of ties between the two regions. The world watched in wonder as Chinese and Africa leaders celebrated their ever-deepening economic and political ties against the backdrop of Chinese acrobatic troupes, African drumming exhibitions, the piercing wail of Peking opera and panoramic tourist posters of the African savannah.
Monday, 29 October 2007

China in Africa

Nowhere in the world is China’s rapid rise to power more evident than in Africa.  From multi-billion dollar investments in oil and minerals to the influx of tens of thousands of merchants, labourers and cheap consumer goods, China’s economic and political reach is redefining Africa’s traditional ties with the international community.  Two-way trade has jumped from a modest US$10 billion in 2000 to over US$55 billion in 2006, making China the continent’s third largest trading partner while China’s US$1 trillion in foreign currency reserves are being mobilised to fund projects as far away as Katanga and the equatorial forests of…
Reality is a hard taskmaster. It can be the spoiler of grand ideals, but also the voice of reason. Within two weeks of each other, the European Union and the African Union held their mid-year summits: the former hoped to save some elements of its stalled constitutional process; the latter envisaged the edifice of continental government. The outcomes of both were compromises ... as is the habit of summits.
As published in Business Day THE recent meetings of the Group of Seven (G-7) finance ministers in Essen, Germany, and of legislators from the Group of Eight (G-8) in Washington, were pivotal not only because of their shared focus on climate change but because of which states were invited to participate. Alongside the traditional members were representatives of the five big emergent countries - China, India, Brazil, Mexico and SA. This process of restructuring reveals the increasingly apparent legitimacy and efficiency gap in the institutional set-up, a deficiency that radiates out from the G-7 and G-8 summit arrangements to the…
Business Day AS THE world’s poorest, most agriculturally dependent continent, Africa is the most vulnerable region to global climate change. It is estimated that Africa’s gross domestic product could decline up to 10% because of the effects of this phenomenon. Yet, the World Economic Forum on Africa and recent discussion on Africa’s economic outlook for this year made minimal mention of climate change and its economic ramifications for African countries. This is cause for concern, given that climate change is one of the most significant sustainable-development challenges facing the world, with huge implications for all economic enterprises.
IN THEIR first referendum since 1963, Kenyans took to the polling booth in November to vote on a new constitution. The result was a resounding 'no' vote that was both stinging rebuke to incumbent president Mwai Kibaki and a sign of intensifying political conflict.