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Nigeria’s President continues to divide opinions

Comments (0) Africa, Politics

Muhammadu Buhari

When Muhammadu Buhari was elected as Nigerian President in March 2015; it was the culmination of a long and controversial involvement in Nigerian politics. While many have criticized his record on human rights, others have praised his seemingly incorruptible nature, and efforts to battle domestic terrorism. As recent health concerns have yet to be fully abated, the future of the President remains uncertain.

A history of political struggle

Muhammadu Buhari was born on December 17th 1942, in Daura, Katsina State, to a large family in which he was the 23rd child. By the age of 19, Buhari had joined the military, and within one year he had been sent to the UK for officer training. Buhari returned to Nigeria in 1963 and from here, until his election in 2015, he was rarely away from the political struggles within the country.

After serving the government in the Nigerian Civil War, Buhari was involved in the 1966 Counter Coup, before supporting the 1975 Coup that briefly led to him taking on nonmilitary roles within the new government.

But it is the 1983 Coup, that he led, which threw him into the limelight. Buhari took power from January 1984 until August 1985, in which time he led a fierce stamp down on political corruption, indiscipline and rising crime. While the measures were seen by many as necessary for economic reform, widespread human rights abuses were reported, and press freedom was severely curtailed.

Buhari’s brief stint in power came to an end in 1985, when he was overthrown and put into detention for 3 years. However, his ambitions as a leader saw him return to politics with a failed Presidential bid in 2003, followed by two more attempts at gaining democratic election in 2007 and 2011.

Legitimacy and the Future

Buhari finally succeeded in becoming the democratically elected President in March 2015, when Nigeria elected him to replace incumbent leader, Goodluck Jonathon. Buhari’s commitment to breaking the cycle of corruption within Nigerian politics was almost immediately displayed when he had former national security advisor, Sambo Dasuki, arrested for embezzling $2 billion worth of funds that were assigned for the battle with Boko Haram.

Several other senior government figures have also found themselves in jail, as Buhari looks to cut out the rot that he feels has hampered Nigerian progress for too long. However, this has echoes of similar moves that he made in his brief run of power in the 1980’s, and the world’s leaders are unlikely to be supportive of the other measures that Buhari employed at the time, including executions for drug users, and public floggings for people who did not line up at bus stops in an orderly fashion.

Thus far, none of the obvious abuses of the past have manifested themselves under Buhari’s new leadership, and there has been marked improvement in the security in Nigeria’s north-eastern region, which has borne the brunt of much of the nation’s Islamic extremism.

However, a recession hit Nigeria soon after Buhari’s electoral triumph, and Islamist forces pushed out of the north-east have begun to increase attacks within the nation’s oil rich, Niger Delta region. Buhari has also faced criticism over his recognition of women in government, as his cabinet is only 16% female, compared with the previous regime’s 31%.

Major concerns over Buhari’s health

Most recently, there have been major concerns over Buhari’s health, and whether he would be capable of continuing in power. In January of this year, Buhari traveled to the UK for treatment on an unspecified condition, and remained there for 7 weeks, before returning to Nigeria in March. Buhari then returned to London for more treatment on May 7th, and thus far has not gone back to his nation.

Although his wife has assured concerned Nigerians that he is recovering well, there is a growing demand in Nigeria for him to be declared unfit, and while vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, has been in control during Buhari’s absence, there are several other potential leaders looking for their chance to take the top post.

Buhari is a man who has fought in wars, coups and survived an assassination attempt in 2014; so regardless of ones opinion on his policies, it cannot be said that he is easily broken. The future of his leadership looks uncertain, but if he is physically capable, then we can be assured he is likely to do his utmost to retain his position.

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Africa fails to benefit from global investment surge

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Featured

Chemical Industry

Direct investment to Africa declined by 7% to $54 billion, giving the continent only 3% of the total worldwide investment, according to a new United Nations report.

Direct foreign investment soared in 2015 to its highest levels since the 2008 financial crisis, but Africa did not share in the wealth.

Globally, direct investment flows increased by 40% to $1.8 trillion, according to World Investment Report 2016 (pdf) by the United Nations Commission on Trade and Development.

At the same time, direct investment to Africa declined by 7% to $54 billion, giving the continent only 3% of the total worldwide investment.

While investment in North African nations, notably Egypt, increased, sub-Saharan Africa saw declines as resource-based commodities faltered and economies weakened, led by a decline of more than 60% in South Africa.

Egypt, Sudan see growth

Investment flows to North Africa increased by 9% to $12.6 billion, an increase largely driven by a boost in Egypt of 49% to $6.9 billion. The increase in Egypt reflected expansion of foreign investment in banking and pharmaceuticals as well as large investments in telecommunications.

Investment in Sudan increased 39% to $1.7 billion, thanks largely to continuing Chinese investment in oil production.

In sub-Saharan Africa, Angola reported investment more than tripled to a record $8.7 billion in investment in 2015 after years of declines. The UN report said the increase reflected loans to local institutions by foreign parent organizations.

Elsewhere on the southern continent, weak commodity prices stifled investment.

Investment in West Africa decreased by nearly 20% to less than $10 billion, in large part because of a slump in investment in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy. Investment fell to $3.1 billion last year largely because of lower commodity prices, a faltering currency, and delays in major developments such as multi-billion dollar offshore oil operations.

Investment in Central Africa declines

In Central Africa, investment inflows dropped by more than a third to $5.8 billion. The Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Congo reported declines as commodities operations suspended operations.

Factory Workers in Kayonza, Africa

Factory Workers in Kayonza, Africa

East African investment was steady at $7.8 billion.

The European Union and the United States invested more than $2 million in Ethiopia. Investment in Kenya reached a record $1.5 billion as a result of investor confidence in the business environment and growing domestic consumption.

Southern African investment also held steady at just under $18 billion, driven primarily by the large increase in investment in Angola.

South Africa posts steep drop

Other nations saw steep declines. Investment in South Africa fell by 69% to $1.8 billion, its lowest level in a decade. The UN report said weak economic performance, lower commodity and higher power costs were to blame.

After years of record growth, Mozambique saw a 24% decline to $3.7 billion. The report blamed uncertainty about the 2015 elections and lower gas prices as well as the cancellation of major mining operations.

Meanwhile, investment outflows from Africa also declined by 25% to $11 billion because of weaker export demand and falling commodity prices. The continent’s largest foreign investor, South Africa, cut its investments by 30% to $5.3 billion. Angola investors reduced their investment abroad to $1.9 billion, less than half the 2014 amount.

U.S., U.K. lead in African investments

The top investor economies to Africa in 2015 were the United States ($66 billion), the United Kingdom ($64 billion), and France ($52 billion). As China seeks to increase ties to the continent, direct investment from the Asian nation more than tripled from $9 billion to $32 billion. South Africa was the fifth largest investor to the continent at $26 billion.

The report said the global investment surge was unlikely to continue at 2015 levels. It attributed the 2015 increase to a spate of cross-border acquisitions and  mergers.

The United Nations said investment to Africa could grow this year to as much as $60 billion. New projects valued at nearly $30 billion were announced in the first quarter of the year, up 25% from the same period a year earlier.

The report predicted the largest increases in Egypt and North Africa. “But a more optimistic scenario also prevails more widely, for example in Ethiopia, Mozambique,  Rwanda and the United Republic of Tanzania,” the report said.

However, depressed prices for oil and mining commodities will continue to be a drag on investment in other parts of Africa.

“The world economy continues to face major headwinds, which are unlikely to ease in the near term,” the report said.

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DR Congo slashes growth forecast for 2016 to 5.3 pct: cenbank

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

KINSHASA (Reuters) – The central bank of the Democratic Republic of Congo has slashed its GDP growth forecast for 2016 to 5.3 percent, compared with 6.9 percent last year, as a slump in commodity prices batters its mineral-dependent economy.

The central bank statement obtained by Reuters on Monday did not give details as to what was behind the revision. Congo has suffered from falling prices in its key mineral exports, including copper, cobalt, tin and diamonds.

Its previous estimate in April projected growth at 6.6 percent for this year, itself revised down from 9 percent earlier. The latest estimate brings it closer to the IMF forecast, currently at 4.9 percent.

Congo, Africa’s biggest copper producer, relies heavily on raw materials, which account for 98 percent of export earnings. After bouncing back at the start of the year, copper on the London metal exchange fell by a quarter last year, and has fallen further in 2016.

 

 

(Reporting by Aaron Ross; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Joe Bavier)

 

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