Monday, 19 February 2018

SOUTH AFRICA: President Ramaphosa mulls new cabinet and a new budget

We start in South Africa as the country comes to terms with last week's upheavals and looks forward to a new cabinet and a budget on Wednesday (21 February). Its northern neighbour, Zimbabwe, has been in mourning after the death of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

As dramatic events played out last week in South Africa, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn surprised many by resigning his office. A new state of emergency was also announced ahead of a ruling party congress. In Nigeria, the chief statistician says that although farmers have stepped up production and the oil price is stronger, growth will not exceed 3% this year.


SOUTH AFRICA: President Ramaphosa mulls new cabinet and a new budget
Fresh from multiple accolades for his State of the Nation Address last Friday (16 February) and a steeply rising stock exchange index, President Cyril Ramaphosa has two main tasks this week: ensuring the reading of a financially credible and politically acceptable budget on Wednesday (21 February) and appointing a new cabinet.

The two are closely linked, given widespread calls for Ramaphosa to sack or reassign current Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, a close ally of ex-President Jacob Zuma.

There is no shortage of talented politicians who could take on the finance portfolio, most of whom had fallen foul of Zuma and his business friends, the Guptas. In the running are: Nhlanhla Nene, a former finance minister whose sacking by Zuma precipitated a run on the rand; his former deputy Mcebisi Jonas, who reported that the Guptas had offered him over US$50 million to take over the finance portfolio; former South African Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni, who had become increasingly critical of Zuma over the past year; former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who became a leading opponent of Zuma's network of business allies and insider deals; Zweli Mkhize, a  former treasurer-general of the African National Congress, is a strong contender as a respected politician from KwaZulu-Natal who stood apart from Zuma's tightly-controlled patronage network in the province.

Whoever reads the budget will have to explain how the government will pay for the introduction of free tertiary education and vocational training for students from poor backgrounds this year, as promised by both Ramaphosa and Zuma and enshrined in official ANC policy. Ramaphosa allies argue that the planned reform of state-owned enterprises and some sales of government assets could help finance the new deal for college students.

Most vulnerable in Ramaphosa's coming reshuffle are: Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, heavily criticised for authorising an expensive media campaign to promote her claimed achievements in the ministry; Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, linked to the corrupt payments to the Estina dairy farm in the Free State, now under investigation; Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen, close to the Guptas and Zuma's finance minister for three days; Public Service and Administration Minister Faith Muthambi, an ultra-loyalist to Zuma who faces questions of financial mismanagement; and Energy Minister David Mahlobo, another Zuma acolyte who has been pushing a nuclear power deal worth tens of billions of dollars with Moscow's Rosatom.

ZIMBABWE: Changing tone, President Mnangagwa calls for national day of mourning for oppositionist Tsvangirai
The death of Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, last Wednesday (14 February) from cancer, has left the opposition party he founded in disarray. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has seized the opportunity to woo wavering opposition supporters by signalling a more conciliatory attitude to the government's opponents.

Mnangagwa, a shrewd tactician, made a point of inviting Tsvangirai to his inauguration after the ousting of Mugabe last December, organising a motorcade for the veteran opposition leader. In recent weeks he held private meetings with Tsvangirai, who has been visibly ailing for the past year.

In theory, Tsvangirai's anointed successor, Nelson Chamisa, 40, takes over the party leadership and will be the party's presidential candidate in national elections due by the middle of the year. Chamisa, a former communications minister in the MDC's ill-fated coalition government with ZANU-PF, is not universally popular within his party. One of his toughest challengers will be his former fellow MDC Vice-President Thokozani Khupe, who has ambitions of her own for the presidential ticket.

ETHIOPIA: Ruling party to hold key conference after security crackdown and Premier Hailemariam's resignation
The opposition might well accuse Premier Hailemariam Desalegn of trying to bury bad news by announcing his resignation on 14 February, at the height of political furore in South Africa. The following day, as Cyril Ramaphosa took power, the ruling Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front declared a state of emergency.

The immediate reason for Hailemariam's exit and security crackdown is the unrest in the Oromo and Amhara regions, which has intensified over the past three years.

Human rights organisations quickly condemned the state of emergency declaration, which runs counter to the signs of political liberalisation following last month's release of hundreds of political prisoners in Oromia.

Hailemariam will remain premier until the EPRDF holds a national conference to pick a successor. Political insiders suggest the new premier is likely to come from Oromia in a bid by the party to dampen down opposition in the region.

NIGERIA: Chief statistician points to farming boom but warns recovery still fragile amid worries about election spending
Yemi Kale
, the highly-respected Statistician General, the head of the National Bureau of Statistics, forecasts that a boom in infrastructure spending and much higher borrowing will push up growth levels to 3% this year.  But the economy remains far too dependent on oil exports, he added.

'Oil got us into recession and largely took us out,' Kale told the Economic Outlook Summit organised by Business Day newspaper in Lagos last Friday (16 February). Failing to build up reserves in a period of high oil prices cost the country dear when export revenues crashed in 2015. Forex reserves have increased to over US$40 billion, a $10 bn. increase in the past year.

Efforts at diversifying the economy are having some success, said Kale. Farm output had risen to 29% of gross domestic product by the end of 2017, from 21% a year earlier. But the share of services and industry in GDP had fallen over the same period as a result of cuts in foreign exchange allocations.

Fiscal reforms, such as incentives to persuade tax evaders to return their money to the country, and a push to promote non-oil revenues along with a restructuring of the government's domestic debt obligations should boost state revenues, said Kale.

He cautioned that the economy also faced multiple risks, from geopolitical tensions in the country to politicians of all parties preparing a spending bonanza ahead of national elections in February 2019.



IN VERY BRIEF

FINANCE AND DEBT: Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa all plan major Eurobond issues in coming months

ZAMBIA: IMF rejects the Lungu government's spending plans, pushing it to negotiate new loans from Beijing

DJIBOUTI: President Guelleh's Rassemblement populaire pour le progrès to take more seats in parliamentary elections on 23 February

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

SOUTH AFRICA: Zuma chooses the messiest exit after marathon executive committee meeting

This week we start, inevitably, in South Africa with the latest scenes from the seemingly unending drama of President Jacob Zuma's departure. Then to Nigeria where the government is belatedly acknowledging calls for sweeping constitutional changes. In Tanzania, President John Magufuli's resource nationalist campaign continues to hobble a gold mining company. Ghana's Finance Minister is in Asia drumming up interest in another Eurobond issue. Finally, a security chief once detained for coup plotting returns to favour in Sudan's Islamist power structures.

SOUTH AFRICA: Zuma chooses the messiest exit after marathon executive committee meeting
Choosing to prolong the agony, Jacob Zuma has rebuffed the latest bid to edge him out of the presidency after ignoring a formal demand to quit by the African National Congress. The call was made after a 13-hour meeting of the ANC's National Executive Committee which only ended in the small hours of 13 February.

Although there is no formal deadline, party insiders say that unless Zuma publicly accedes to the party's recall motion – essentially a sacking – the ANC will organise a no-confidence vote against him in parliament within days. This could trigger the most disruptive – and perhaps the most humiliating – departure for Zuma.

Beyond the resignation drama, Zuma is also likely to hear more news about whether he will face prosecution on a raft of corruption charges linked to the government's US$5 billion arms deal with Western companies in the late 1990s.

*We will publish a full analysis on the Zuma exit and its political implications on the website today.

NIGERIA: Buhari backs call for state police forces as herder-farmer clashes spread in the Middle Belt
Concern about the worsening security problems in the Middle Belt and northern states have boosted calls for sweeping amendments to the constitution, including allowing the creation of state police commands. Currently, the Nigeria Police Force is under strict federal control. Politicians in the centre have jealously guarded their power over the police, arguing that allowing state governors to establish their own police forces could balkanise the nation.

Now, both major parties, the governing All Progressives Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, are tabling their own plans to restructure the federation. How much these plans are a bid to win votes in next year's national elections remains an open question. Any serious constitutional reform is unlikely to get through parliament in less than a year. The popular demand for such changes is increasing.

Last week President Muhammadu Buhari's office came out for the first time in favour of establishing state-level police forces. He has come under growing pressure to respond more effectively to the brutal clashes between cattle herders from the north and settled farmers in the Middle Belt. It has become the dominant security issue in Nigeria and Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris has been widely accused of favouring the herders and acting too slowly to protect farmers.

TANZANIA: Acacia's dispute with President Magufuli enters its second year, cutting gold production
The row between the government and the gold-mining company Acacia Mining, an affiliate of Canada's Barrick Gold, is slowing the local company's operations. Acacia's revenues dropped by almost a third last year after the government banned the export of gold and copper concentrate. It's the latest evidence of the effects of President John Magufuli's resource nationalist campaign, which has resonated throughout the region.

Acacia's biggest headache is the confrontation with Magufuli over his accusations that it connived with local officials to under-report the value of its exports. After a specialist panel Magufuli set up reported back, Acacia was presented with a $190 billion tax bill late last year.

The company denies all wrongdoing. Parent company Barrick has taken the lead in the negotiations with the government, offering a settlement of $300 million late last year. But since then there has been little movement in a dispute which is depriving both company and government of substantial revenues. Acacia's new Tanzanian managing director, Asa Mwaipopo, is leading efforts to improve relations with the government.

GHANA: Finance Minister tests appetite for bond sale in Asia ahead of President Akufo-Addo's state visit to China
Although he still has to get backing for a major bond issue from parliament, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta is in Singapore and Hong Kong this week to drum up interest for Ghanaian paper in the Asian markets. He plans to float the bond in April.

It will be a vital part of the government's efforts to raise funds for programmes such as universal free secondary education and the One Factory, One District plan. Officials in Accra told Africa Confidential that there was already substantial interest from big Asian economies in Ghana's industrialisation plans.

Ofori-Atta is travelling with executives from three local banks, Ghana Commercial Bank, Fidelity and Standard Chartered. Although Ghana's debt is running at over 60% of gross domestic product, which the government inherited from its predecessor, its bonds remain popular with international investors who regard it as one of the most stable countries in the region.

SUDAN: President el Beshir reappoints Salah Gosh as spy chief five years after he was accused of coup plotting
The return of Salah Abdallah Mohamed 'Gosh' as director of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) raises fresh questions about the direction of the National Congress Party (aka National Islamic Front) regime after a wave of protests over worsening economic conditions.

President Omer Hassan Ahmed el Beshir sacked Gosh as his security advisor in 2011 amid signs of growing rivalries within the Islamist regime. A year later, Gosh and several other top intelligence and military officials were arrested after being linked to a coup plot. Some of the soldiers were sentenced to gaol terms but Gosh was released without charge after eight months in detention.

Director of the NISS until 2009, Gosh was held responsible for planning behind the government's military campaign in Darfur, in which over 300,000 people, mainly civilians, died, according to the United Nations. Despite being subjected to sanctions and a travel ban for his involvement in what the International Criminal Court classifies as a genocide, Gosh was able to establish effective relations with intelligence agencies in Britain and the United States.

On one occasion he was smuggled into London for urgent cardiac treatment. It may be partly those ties, as Khartoum tries to make the most of Washington's decision to drop sanctions, that have brought Gosh back to the centre of national security. The move may also signify the regime's growing concern about internal coherence as rivalries intensify to succeed President Omer.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Kenya's authoritarian drift

It took Chief Justice David Maraga to give a constitutional perspective to the political ructions in Kenya over the last week. The government has ignored court orders to lift its closure of four television stations that broadcast Raila Odinga's theatrical inauguration as 'People's President' on 30 January. And instead of producing Miguna Miguna, the self-styled general of Odinga's National Resistance Movement, on 7 February as the court ordered, the government deported Miguna, who has dual Canadian-Kenyan nationality, the day before. Obeying court orders is not optional, Maraga pointed out: it is an obligation in a constitutional democracy.

Developments in Kenya over the past year, such as the shooting of opposition supporters and serial harassment of dissidents have prompted comparisons with Daniel arap Moi's authoritarianism. Arrests of opposition MPs and suspending the passports of Odinga's allies are part of a growing crackdown. And the publication of a fake obituary of Jimi Wanjigi, an opposition financier, in a Nairobi daily points to a particularly sinister sense of humour among Odinga's adversaries. Some fear the next step might be the arrest of Odinga himself, a move that would surely send up the balloon in areas such as Nairobi's Kibera and upcountry Kisumu.

Odinga argues that post-election disputes make Uhuru Kenyatta's government illegitimate. Flouting court orders, forced deportations and suspending passports is profoundly helping his argument.

Monday, 29 January 2018

AFRICAN UNION: Summiteers in Addis try to manage a military scramble in the Horn and the Sahel amid fresh reform efforts

We start this week in Addis Ababa where the African Union is faced with a slew of tough decisions on security and restructuring its management. And then to Nigeria where former President Olusegun Obasanjo's open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari has shaken up local politics. In South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa's gradualist change agenda is moving ahead with fresh investigations into political and business malfeasance, and his decision that the country cannot afford to spend tens of billions on a Russian-built nuclear power project.

AFRICAN UNION: Summiteers in Addis try to manage a military scramble in the Horn and the Sahel amid fresh reform efforts
Reforming the African Union bureaucracy, boosting its fund-raising capacity, and allowing free movement of peoples across national boundaries were all on the agenda at the organisation's summit, which was due to end today (29 January).


One plan is to follow the protocol adopted by the Economic Community of West African States, which envisages a phased ending of immigration controls. The conference also heard more about the proposal to finance the AU through a 0.2% tax on imports into all member states. This approach has won support from smaller and medium-sized states but the biggest countries are far less enthusiastic. Across the board, there has been little sign of consensus on the key reform issues so far.

AU Chairman Paul Kagame, Rwanda's President, is leading a troika of leaders, including Chad's Idris Déby Itno and Guinea's Alpha Condé, to shape the reform plans. Some ideas, such as an audit to identify bureaucratic inefficiencies, met less opposition but others, such as strengthening sanctions mechanisms against states that breach AU protocols, got a more hostile reception.

Kagame is keen to resolve key questions about relations between the AU and the regional economic communities – such as which takes precedence in resolving conflicts. For example, the AU has ceded power to regional groupings in the Sahel and Somalia but plays the leading role in Central African Republic. Then there are questions about how the AU works with organisations such as the New Partnership for Africa's Development and the African Peer Review Mechanism, which were launched 15 years ago by Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo but have since lost momentum.

Alongside these institutional issues are the pressing security concerns in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. Debate between member-states has been focusing not only on the wave of deadly attacks in Mali and Somalia but also on the increasing presence of foreign forces in those two regions. Although France has the biggest foreign military force in Africa, concentrating its troops in West and Central Africa, Djibouti is now hosting militaries from at least ten foreign powers, including China and the United States.

The United Arab Emirates has a presence in Somaliland, having opened a base at Assab port in Eritrea in 2015. We hear Egypt, at loggerheads with Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project, has been in discussions with Eritrea about basing rights there. Turkey, which has a military base in Somalia, is negotiating for a presence in Sudan. Some of these deployments reflect the regional rivalries in the Middle East: the stand-off between Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt versus Qatar and Turkey.


Although the risks of this build-up of foreign forces, including African states being drawn into disputes outside the continent, have been flagged by members of the AU's Peace & Security Commission, it is unclear how they can be managed within the AU's existing structures. For now, the question of foreign military bases is regarded as wholly within the sovereign powers of national governments which are under no obligation to notify, much less consult the AU Commissions about their security arrangements.


NIGERIA: A new opposition movement – Coalition for Nigeria – is due to launch on 31 January after Obasanjo's critiqueThe epistle from Olusegun Obasanjo, retired general and head of state, to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him not to run for a second term in next year's elections continues to reverberate around the country.

It laid the ground for Olagunsoye Oyinlola, a former governor of Osun State and a close associate of Obasanjo's, to announce that he would be launching a new political movement, the Coalition for Nigeria, on Wednesday (31 January) with the backing of seven State governors, 20 senators and 100 members of the House of Representatives.

If nothing else, it has fired up the debate about the Buhari government's performance and what the opposition People's Democratic Party might have to offer. Not only did Obasanjo find little to commend in the Buhari government's performance on the economy, governance, anti-corruption and counter-insurgency in the north-east and middle belt, he also lashed out at his former political vehicle, the PDP.

Obasanjo says the two-party system in Nigeria is broken and that the country's best way forward is to support the Coalition for Nigeria, which will campaign for inclusive growth and good governance. If the new Coalition wins the support at all levels that its organisers claim, it stands a strong chance of breaking the mould of Nigerian politics.

SOUTH AFRICA: Ramaphosa rules out Zuma's mega-deal for Russian nuclear power but woos mining companies
The unravelling of President
Jacob Zuma's networks in the wake of Cyril Ramaphosa securing the presidency of the African National Congress continues apace. The National Prosecuting Authority's Asset Forfeiture Unit and the Treasury are pursuing 17 separate cases of corporate malfeasance linked to claims of 'state capture' by businesses close to Zuma. The investigations target some 50 billion rand (US$4.2 bn.) in assets.

Zuma's business associates, the Gupta family, deny all wrongdoing and are said to have left South Africa in December. The family is yet to respond to the latest round of allegations about their involvement in the Estina dairy project in Free State, the Uxolo Diamond Cutting Works and their purchase of the Optimum coal mine from Glencore.

Perhaps the biggest financial headache for Zuma will be the determination of Ramaphosa, and his ally former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, to block contracts worth tens of billions of dollars with Russia's state nuclear agency, Rosatom, to build several power stations.

On 25 January, Ramaphosa said the plans to build power stations to generate 9,600 megawatts are to be suspended first because South Africa has a surplus of generating power and secondly because it lacks the finance to make such an investment.

In December, Zuma ally Energy Minister David Mahlobo had said the nuclear projects would go ahead but at a slower pace than initially planned. It now seems he has been countermanded by Ramaphosa amid a deafening silence from Zuma.

Meanwhile, mining companies are talking up the chances of some important policy announcements at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town from 5-8 February. Companies expect some concessions from the ANC on the indigenous ownership and Black Economic Empowerment rule in the Mining Charter.
It could prove a critical test of Ramaphosa's ability to navigate between the pressures of big companies to dilute legislation in exchange for promises to boost investments and his commitment to improve living standards for South Africans more widely. 

The week ahead in very brief

ZIMBABWE: President Mnangagwa talks up prospects for growth and credible elections and then meets IMF chief at Davos

CONGO-KINSHASA: President Kabila fails to name a date for elections and his exit at first press conference in six years

CAMEROON: Political crisis in western region escalates as 43,000 nationals flee to Nigeria


BANKING & FINANCE: Blockchain and crypto-currencies could leapfrog traditional systems in Africa predicts head of research at London-based Exotix Capital

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Obasanjo's counsel

For the past four decades there has been a recurring motif in Nigerian politics. A new government takes power on the crest of popular approval but soon falls short of expectations.

The sequence started with Shehu Shagari's National Party of Nigeria government, which was then overthrown by General Muhammadu Buhari in December 1983. Buhari's regime was overthrown in a palace coup by General Ibrahim Babangida in August 1985. A popular uprising followed the annulling of an election in 1993, and General Sani Abacha seized power. After the restoration of constitutional rule, Olusegun Obasanjo was elected president, handing over in 2007 to Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, who died in 2010, leaving his Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan to take over. By 2014, popular opinion had moved decisively against Jonathan and he was overwhelmingly defeated by Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.

On each occasion, Obasanjo, in his role as a 'founding father', has published an open letter criticising the incumbent and calling for change. And change has duly happened. His letter of 24 January urging Buhari not to seek re-election next year continues the theme. So far, the response from officials in Abuja has been muted irritation but activists in the governing party are likely to take it much further, given Obasanjo's influence. If nothing else, it has opened up the debate about the country's political system, the quality of governance, and accountability.

Monday, 22 January 2018

AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT: Trade, war, elections, and financing make for an agenda full to bursting point

We start in Addis Ababa this week with the opening of a critical summit of the African Union. Then to Monrovia for the carnival-like inauguration of President George Weah. After that we go to the European courtrooms for the latest episode in Nigeria's pursuit of ill-gotten oil wealth.

AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT: Trade, war, elections, and financing make for an agenda full to bursting point
Meeting in Addis Ababa for a week starting today (22-29 January), Africa's presidents, foreign ministers and top diplomats face a formidable agenda at the AU summit. Armed conflicts, election disputes, financing mechanisms for the AU itself and a continental trade treaty need resolving.

AU Commission chairman and veteran Chadian diplomat Moussa Faki Mahamat has been working to boost cooperation with the United Nations and the European Union. His itinerary of the past year – South Sudan, Somalia, Congo-Kinshasa, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Mali and Mauritania – is a guide to the AU's most pressing political and security problems.

There are also deepening, chronic crises, some tracked by the international media and others overlooked. Libya's political crisis and the horrific conditions faced by African migrants is now receiving attention after global media coverage but the challenges to President Paul Biya in Cameroon by Anglophone oppositionists and their Francophone allies has been largely ignored.
Beyond national crises, there are several regional disputes brewing: most directly between Ethiopia and Egypt over the potential of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam to reduce the flow of the Nile; and the reverberations in Africa of the diplomatic ructions between Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran, and the Saudi-led alliance fighting a war in Yemen.

At the summit, Rwanda's President Paul Kagame takes over from Guinea's Alpha Condé as Chairman of the AU. He will be urging his fellow leaders to accept a formula to finance the organisation by levying a 0.2% tax on imports into all member states.

LIBERIA: George Weah's inauguration draws soccer stars and raises high hopes for economic revival
The first African to be voted best footballer in the world, George Weah, was also the first ex-professional footballer on the continent to be inaugurated as president of his country today (22 January). Among the invited celebrities was Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o.

Weah's presidency faces the tough realities of creating jobs, building many more roads and power stations, and attracting more investors to launch productive enterprises. Almost two-thirds of Liberia's 4.5 million people are under 25 and Weah's vote came overwhelmingly from the younger generation, many of whom are tired of what they see as politics dominated by a sterile elite.

NIGERIA: Abuja is suing JP Morgan bank for $875 million in oil corruption row
The dispute over the sale of a prospecting licence OPL 245, one of the richest in the region, to Royal Dutch Shell and Italy's ENI, has now drawn in the New York-based investment bank. Nigeria has hired top barristers in London to retrieve some $875 million which it says was illegally transferred to a former oil minister, Dan Etete, by JP Morgan.

The Bank has until March to file its defence. Like Shell and ENI, which face legal action in the Italian courts, JP Morgan denies any wrongdoing.


IN VERY BRIEF

ZIMBABWE: President Mnangagwa brings forward elections to May after reshuffling the military and intelligence services

AFRICA: Mobile money companies top the list of investor start-ups in Africa according to Disrupt Africa report

EGYPT: Opposition candidates claim their campaigns are being blocked in run-up to Presidential elections in March

RWANDA/TANZANIA: Presidents Kagame and Magufuli agree to lay foundation stone on 407-kilometre railway from Isaka to Kigali

TUNISIA: Security forces claim to have killed a top Al Qaida official after warnings about returning jihadist fighters

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Multi-speed Africa in 2018

In politics as in economics, 2018 will be the year of the variable-speed Africa, as our special survey of the year ahead makes clear. Sometimes, the sharp differences are between regions: high-growth economies in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya in the east compared with slow growth South Africa, Angola and Zimbabwe in the south. Sometimes, there are sharp differences within regions: Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal are growing strongly but Nigeria's forecast growth for the year barely exceeds population growth. Nigeria's lacklustre economic revival points to a continuing negative trend: some of the continent's biggest economies, such as Angola and Algeria, are chronically under-performing.

The political contrasts across Africa are sharper still. South Africans are following in minute detail the constitutional and judicial manoeuvring aimed at removing Jacob Zuma from the state presidency. In Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya and Nigeria, constitutional and electoral reform is on the table, even extending parliamentary oversight of presidents' spending. But in Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic, and Libya, the contest for power is more about armed groups than amendments to the constitution. To that list must now be added Congo-Kinshasa, where President Kabila's obduracy is sparking several disparate rebellions, and Cameroon, where four decades of misrule are coming home to roost as rebellion takes hold in the country's western provinces.