John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Showing posts for "Economy"

South Africa’s Currency Falls Again on Rumors of Finance Minister’s Arrest

by John Campbell
South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan gestures during a media briefing in Sandton near Johannesburg, March 14, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan gestures during a media briefing in Sandton near Johannesburg, March 14, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

On May 15, the Sunday Times (English, Johannesburg) published rumors of the impending arrest of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan over alleged revenue service irregularities. However, on May 16, Beeld (Afrikaans, Johannesburg) reported that President Zuma denied the Sunday Times report. Nevertheless, the South African national currency, the rand (ZAR), fell the following two days, reaching its weakest level in two months; it has fallen 2.1 percent against the U.S. dollar since March 15. Read more »

South Africa Moves Against Secretly-Owned Companies

by John Campbell
Demonstrators carry placards as they march to protest against corruption in Cape Town, September 30, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) Demonstrators carry placards as they march to protest against corruption in Cape Town, September 30, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

The Tax Justice Network-Africa has issued a press release praising the South African government’s commitment to register and make public the “beneficial owners” of all companies incorporated in the country. “Beneficial owners” are those who ultimately benefit from a company. In many countries, governments do not require such information, resulting in anonymously owned companies that may be used by corrupt politicians or others who want to hide their identity. The “Panama Papers” highlight the role such companies play in activities ranging from money laundering to tax evasion. Read more »

South Africa and Iran Aim to Resume Strong Trade Relationship

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a news conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 26, 2016. (Reuters/Faisal Mahmood) Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a news conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 26, 2016. (Reuters/Faisal Mahmood)

Tyler Falish is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program, and a student in Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

South African President Jacob Zuma was in Iran for a two-day state visit on April 24 and 25. While in Tehran, Zuma and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani signed eight bilateral trade agreements as part of a commitment to increase non-oil trade between the two countries. Trade between the two nations plummeted after the imposition of expanded sanctions on Iran by the U.S., EU, and UN. According to UN Comtrade, in 2012—the most recent year of significant trade between the two countries—trade was valued at approximately $1.3 billion. By comparison, bilateral trade in 2015 totaled only $30 million. Read more »

What Is New About Sectarian Fighting in Nigeria’s Middle Belt

by John Campbell
A tribal Fulani boy stands near cows at a local milk collecting centre in Dangwala Karfi village on the outskirts of Nigeria's northern city of Kano January 19, 2016. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) A tribal Fulani boy stands near cows at a local milk collecting centre in Dangwala Karfi village on the outskirts of Nigeria's northern city of Kano January 19, 2016. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

Sectarian conflict in Nigeria’s Middle Belt is attracting more attention both at home and abroad. Typically, conflict involves Muslim Fulani herdsmen clashing with Christian Barome (or other small tribes) farmers. Conflict between pastoralists and farmers has been endemic for years in the Middle Belt, where the predominately Christian south and the mostly Muslim north meet. The coincidence of boundaries between religions, land use, and ethnic groups promotes conflict, as does its manipulation by politicians to advance their particular agendas. Historically, the Fulani preyed on minority tribes to feed the slave trade. When Christianity arrived in the Middle Belt, it was embraced by the minority tribes, as opposed to the Islam of the slave catchers. Read more »

No Legal Rhino Horn Trade for South Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A veterinarian inspects a tranquilized black rhino after it was dehorned in an effort to deter the poaching of one of the world's endangered species, at a farm outside Klerksdorp, in the north west province, South Africa, February 24, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) A veterinarian inspects a tranquilized black rhino after it was dehorned in an effort to deter the poaching of one of the world's endangered species, at a farm outside Klerksdorp, in the north west province, South Africa, February 24, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

The South African government has announced that it will not petition the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) for a legal trade in rhinoceros horn. South Africa formed a committee to determine the viability of a legal trade in rhino horn in February 2015. After nearly a year of deliberating, the committee’s recommendation was “that the current mode of keeping the country’s stock levels be kept as opposed to the trading in rhino horns.” Read more »

The Likelihood of Instability in Zimbabwe

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe gestures as he arrives to address Zimbabwe's Independence Day celebrations in Harare, April 18, 2016.(Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe gestures as he arrives to address Zimbabwe's Independence Day celebrations in Harare, April 18, 2016.(Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

Tyler Falish is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program, and a student in Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

Last spring, the Council on Foreign Relations published a Contingency Planning Memorandum (CPM) by Ambassador George F. Ward that described the potential for political instability and violence in Zimbabwe. Amb. Ward detailed three paths to instability in Zimbabwe: President Robert Mugabe’s death before an appointed successor is installed; a serious challenge to Mugabe’s control driven by increased factionalism; and an economic crisis triggering demand for political change. He also offered three corresponding “warning indicators”: any sign that Mugabe’s health is in decline; indication of increased dissent or infighting within the ruling party, Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF); and public unrest. Read more »

Africa Returns to the Markets

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Nigerian naira notes are seen in this picture illustration, March 15, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde/Illustration) Nigerian naira notes are seen in this picture illustration, March 15, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde/Illustration)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

In early April, South Africa issued its first sovereign bond in over two years. The ten-year, $1.25 billion bond was oversubscribed by a factor of two. This is the first international bond issued by a sub-Saharan African nation in 2016. It is likely to be followed by Kenyan, Nigerian, and Ghanaian issuances. Read more »

Fire Destroys Market in Nigeria’s Second Largest City

by John Campbell
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a shopping mall in Balogun market at the business district in Lagos January 12, 2015.  (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a shopping mall in Balogun market at the business district in Lagos January 12, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

Over the weekend—near the end of the Christian observance of Holy Week—a fire broke out in Kano’s Sabon Gari market. It eventually destroyed 3,800 shops, according to the Nigeria Emergency Management Administration (NEMA), obliterated at least two trillion naira (approximately ten billion dollars) worth of goods, and affected at least 18,000 traders. The NEMA director general said, “This is the biggest market fire outbreak Nigeria has ever witnessed. This is a serious calamity.” (Despite the magnitude of the disaster it has not been reported in the mainstream Western media.) Read more »

South Africa Unlikely to Join Nigeria in Fight Against Boko Haram

by John Campbell
Members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) return after taking part in a Capability Demonstration at the Roodewal Bombing Range in Makhado, in the northern province of Limpopo, May 9, 2013. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) return after taking part in a Capability Demonstration at the Roodewal Bombing Range in Makhado, in the northern province of Limpopo, May 9, 2013. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Following a press briefing by Nigerian Defense Minister Mansur Dan-Ali, Nigerian media are saying that South Africa is joining the fight against Boko Haram, the radical jihadist movement that has killed over twenty thousand and displaced internally up to three million people over the past six years. The briefing took place following the defense minister’s meeting with his South African counterpart, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nquakula. (South African President Jacob Zuma is in Nigeria on a state visit.) Read more »

South Africa and Barclays Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A Barclays logo is pictured outside the Barclays towers in Johannesburg, December 16, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) A Barclays logo is pictured outside the Barclays towers in Johannesburg, December 16, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

The recent rumor of Barclays PLC’s potential sale of its African businesses has caused a stir in South Africa. While Barclay’s has yet to confirm any decisions, there is plenty of reason to suspect the rumors are credible. Barclay’s has recently had to pay large regulatory fines for illegally rigging the London interbank rate, they have cut back substantially in Asia, and, perhaps worst of all, economic growth has significantly decreased in Africa. If Barclays PLC were to divest of holdings in Africa, it begs the question of who would buy their shares in Barclays Africa, specifically South Africa-based ABSA, one of the country’s largest banks. Read more »