1AfDB Report: Africa’s 2019 Economic Outlook
Africa’s economic growth continues to strengthen, reaching an estimated 3.5 percent in 2018, about the same as in 2017 and up 1.4 percentage points from the 2.1 percent in 2016. East Africa led with GDP growth estimated at 5.7 percent in 2018, followed by North Africa at 4.9 percent, West Africa at 3.3 percent, Central Africa at 2.2 percent, and Southern Africa at 1.2 percent. Of Africa’s projected 4 percent growth in 2019, North Africa is expected to account for 1.6 percentage points, or 40 percent. But average GDP growth in North Africa is erratic because of Libya’s rapidly changing economic circumstances. AFDB experts say that regional integration is now more pertinent than ever in continuing the continent’s economic growth.
2Somalia’s Mogadishu Rocked by Attacks
Islamic militants in Somalia have shot dead a senior manager running the port of Bossaso. Hours after the shooting in Bossaso, a car bomb explosion occurred in the capital close to Mogadishu mall, killing at least 11 people and wounding several others. The al-Shabab armed group has regularly carried out such attacks in the past and their stated aim is to remove the Western-backed central government and establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law. The attack came three weeks after a deadly assault by the group on a luxury hotel complex in Nairobi, in neighbouring Kenya. The US embassy on Monday issued a warning to its citizens about an ongoing threat from Islamic extremists in the east African country.
3Trump’s Africa Surprise
US National Security Advisor John Bolton unveiled a formal strategy for Africa in December. The document was originally slated for public release but has subsequently been classified, meaning that many details of the strategy will remain hidden from public view. Nevertheless, his comments provide some welcome insight into the Trump administration’s philosophy on Africa. The Trump administration has expressed desire to negotiate a model free trade agreement with an African nation. The initiative called “Prosper Africa,” will eventually provide another vehicle to spur US investment in Africa. Mr. Bolton’s words rang true regarding the need for the US to take the long-overdue steps to work alongside African partners, creating “…greater independence, self-reliance and growth, rather than furthering dependency, domination, and debt.”
42019 Nigeria Election: How ‘Godfathers’ Influence Politics
“Godfathers” in Nigerian politics don’t usually run for office themselves, but many believe they are the ones who decide the election winners and losers. With campaigning well under way for general elections on 16 February, these are the men – and they invariably are men – who pull the strings behind the scenes. They are political sponsors, who use money and influence to win support for their preferred candidates. Most politicians shy away from the term “godfather” as it has become loaded – associated with bullish tactics and undemocratic practices. “Some of the godfathers are not really out to get money, they just want respect, they want to be venerated if they come into the state; they want to be recognised as the most important person in that society,” says Emmanuel Onwubiko, from Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria.
5‘Disappointed’ South Africa Summons Ambassadors on Investment Memo
South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) expressed “disappointment” with five embassies for telling President Cyril Ramaphosa that foreign investment is at risk because of the country’s failure to prosecute people for government corruption. The United States, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, sent a joint memorandum to Ramaphosa through their diplomatic missions in Pretoria to warn that foreign investment was at risk. Ramaphosa has vowed to root out corruption and address policy uncertainty in Africa’s most advanced economy. An inquiry into state corruption is currently underway. “We are satisfied that all the branches of our democratic state, including state agencies, are vigorously pursuing their respective mandates to address our current challenges,” DIRCO said.
6Africa Embraces an $8 Billion Solar Market for Going Off-Grid
The World Bank says annual outages in sub-Saharan Africa can range from 50 hours to 4,600 hours — at the latter end, that’s more than half a year. So an off-the-grid solution is proving valuable in the region and throughout Africa. From Kenya to Tanzania, Uganda to Rwanda, Nigeria to Ivory Coast and even war-torn Somalia, Africans are embracing solar energy solutions that help them power their homes even without being connected to the grid, on an unparalleled scale. “There’s this incredible market opportunity that’s not being met by the relatively small handful of companies that are operating on the continent,” says Jem Porcaro, senior director for energy access at the United Nations Foundation. The World Bank estimates that the sector will see sales worth $8 billion by 2022.
7Rise in Size of African Families May be Tied to Less Schooling
Sending Africa’s girls to school can help slow population growth many years later, a new study suggests. Dropping fertility rates in some African countries stalled out roughly 20 years after the period in the 1980s when the portion of girls who attended school leveled off or fell. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) report, led by IIASA demographer Wolfgang Lutz, says the findings underscore the need to increase investments in education, especially for girls, to curb population growth in Africa to more sustainable levels. Lutz’s team says because schools became a higher priority in Africa starting in the 1990s, the current projection that the global population will increase by 2 billion to 9.8 billion by 2050 could be too high.
SOURCES: Science Mag
8African-led Churches are Taking Charge of the Gospel in England
African immigrant populations in Britain are bringing with them a rapidly growing wave of Christianity. As indigenous church populations have dwindled in the United Kingdom, numbers at churches founded by African immigrants have swelled. The cultural center of Christianity has shifted, Africa has become the world’s largest Christian continent. While in 1950 an estimated 80% of the world’s Christians were in Western countries, by 2025, at least 50% of the world’s Christians will be in Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia.
SOURCES: QUARTZ AFRICA
9The 2019 List of Africa’s Billionaires
Buffeted by plunging stock prices and weaker currencies, the number of African billionaires has shrunk to just 20, down from 23 a year ago. Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote has retained his spot as Africa’s richest person, for the eighth year in a row according to the Forbes Africa Top Billionaires 2019 list. His estimated $10.3 billion net worth, however, is nearly $2 billion less than a year ago, primarily due to a roughly 20% drop in the stock price of Dangote Cement, his most valuable asset. South Africa’s Nicky Oppenheimer (73) of diamond company DeBeers is in at number three at a reported net worth of $7.3 billion, while the controversial Johann Rupert (68) is the second listed South African at number five, with a net worth of $5.3 billion, thanks to his chairmanship of companies such as Swiss luxury goods firm Compagnie Financière Richemont. Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club owner and mining magnate Patrice Motsepe falls just short of the top 10, in at number 12, at a net worth of $2.3 billion. Only two women are featured in the top 20, Angola’s Isabel dos Santos and Nigeria’s Folorunsho Alakija at number nine and 19 respectively.
10West African Fine Dining Chef Returns to NYC With a Hip Harlem Restaurant
The Senegalese-born chef of Le Grand Dakar fame opens his long-anticipated new restaurant in Harlem’s Africa Center. “Stepping into Teranga will feel like taking a journey through the depth and the diversity that the continent has to offer,” Chef Pierre Thiam explains. Teranga is as much about showcasing the diversity, complexity and deliciousness of African food as it is about sharing Africa’s impact on cultural traditions all over the world. An ornate fishing boat from Senegal stands in the entrance. Nigerian-American painter Victor Ekpuk provided simple, swirly murals for the walls, which will switch out every few months from different African artists. The restaurant sits on the first floor of The Africa Center. The partnership with the Africa Center was both “an amazing coincidence” of timing and a result of a similar mission: making contemporary African culture more mainstream, Thiam says.