John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Economy"

Rand Falls as Finance Minister Gordhan is Ordered Home

by John Campbell
South Africa's Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan (L) walks with his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas as they walk from their offices to a court hearing in Pretoria, South Africa, March 28,2017. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

On March 27, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas were on an investor road show to the United Kingdom and the United States when they were abruptly ordered to return to South Africa by President Jacob Zuma. There was media speculation that Zuma was about to reshuffle his cabinet, removing from office the well-regarded finance minister and his deputy. (There is much speculation that former ESKOM CEO Brian Molefe will replace Gordhan.)The Rand (ZAR), South Africa’s currency, swooned, losing 3 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar. Foreign investor confidence in South Africa, which had been on the upswing, fell. Read more »

Digital Jobs in Africa: The Way Forward

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Entrepreneurs work on their projects at Nailab, a Kenyan firm that supports technology startups, behind the latest initiative, which targets entrepreneurs for their ideas on providing sex education through technology and social media in Nairobi, Kenya, July 4, 2016. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)

This is a guest post by Diptesh Soni, a consultant in the Johannesburg office of Dalberg Global Development Advisors. Diptesh is a former CFR Africa program intern.

Across the world, there is an inescapable sense that the machines are coming, and they’re going to take our jobs. This fear is not new. From the cotton gin, to the tractor, to the assembly line and beyond, jobs have, and will continue to face threats from technological advances. Read more »

Nigeria Claims $4.7 billion Lost Due to Oil Attacks

by John Campbell
Smoke and flames rise from a pipe-line fire in Ebute-Oko near Lagos November 30, 2000. The fire at the leaking oil pipeline, believed to have been started by a nearby cooking fire, has killed more than 60 people, many of them fishermen in wooden canoes that were engulfed by the flaming liquid. More than a dozen burned bodies littered a beachhead at the village of Ebute-Oko which faces the central business district of Lagos across a lagoon.

Maikanti Baru, the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company stated on December 14 that the company’s subsidiary Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) lost 1.5 trillion naira (about $4.9 billion) from militant and criminal attacks on its oil production facilities to date in 2016. Baru went on to say that NPDC recorded fifty-nine separate security incidents that resulted in crude production being shut down or deferred. Read more »

South Africa’s President Zuma as Mafioso

by John Campbell
South African President Jacob Zuma laughs ahead of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's medium term budget speech in Cape Town, South Africa, October 26, 2016. (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham)

Critics worldwide of South African President Jacob Zuma characterize his administration as “Mafiosi” in style. South African society is characterized by gross inequality, generally with blacks on the bottom and whites on top. Ostensibly, the president’s goal is the “transformation” of this characterization of society, even if that means an assault on constitutional institutions and the rule of law. However, in cahoots with personal allies, notably the Gupta family, instead of “transformation” he is seeking to remain in power and preserve his wealth. Thus far, he has been successfully countered by the strength of South Africa’s institutions, a mobilized civil society, and the democratic faction within the African National Congress (ANC). Calls for his early recall are mounting within the ANC. A trenchant exposition of this “Mafioso” perspective is provided by Richard Poplak, in the Daily Maverick. Read more »

A Face of Nigerian Corruption

by John Campbell
Nigeria's former President Goodluck Jonathan and wife Patience Jonathan arrives at the polling ward for accreditation in Otuoke, Bayelsa State March 28, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has frozen U.S. dollar bank accounts that former Nigerian First Lady Patience Jonathan claims are hers. The total value of the accounts is worth $31.5 million. She has applied to the Federal High Court in Lagos to unfreeze the accounts. Many Nigerians, including the Nigeria Labour Congress, are asking how she accumulated $31.5 million in the first place. Read more »

Africa’s Changing Economic Landscape

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A truck is loaded with bags of tea leaves at a plantation in Nandi Hills, in Kenya's highlands region west of capital Nairobi, November 5, 2014. (Reuters/Noor Khamis)

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

Bloomberg Markets’ Michael Cohen and Helen Nyambura-Mwaura have analyzed the current state of Africa’s economies in a very interesting article. They point out that despite the current poor performance of Africa’s larger economies (particularly Nigeria and South Africa), some of the continent’s smaller economies, especially in East Africa, are doing well and will likely continue to do so. Read more »

Home Truths About the Size of Nigeria’s Economy

by John Campbell
Traders work at the Nigerian Stock Exchange in Lagos, February 13, 2015. The naira has crashed through the key level of 200 to the dollar this week in a rout sparked by weak oil prices and escalating tension over the postponement of a presidential election in Africa's biggest economy. (Reuters /Joe Penney)

In 2014, following the first revision of Nigeria’s gross domestic product data in two decades, Abuja announced that its economy had overtaken South Africa’s as the largest in Africa. Using the rebased data, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that that Nigeria’s economy grew at 12.7 percent between 2012 and 2013. Thereafter, there was some triumphalist rhetoric about the size and strength of the economy from personalities in then-president Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in the run up to the 2015 elections and among those promoting foreign investment in Nigeria. However, in 2016, reflecting the dramatic fall in petroleum prices and the value of the national currency, the naira, the IMF concluded that Nigeria’s GDP had fallen behind that of South Africa. The Economist noted that foreign investors are likely to be discouraged by the latest figures. Read more »

Illegal Mining and the Role of “Zama Zamas” in South Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A miner is seen underground at Lonmin Plc's Karee mine in Marikana, Rustenburg 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, March 5, 2013. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Nathan Birhanu is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. He is a graduate of Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

In recent years, the mining industry has struggled to turn a profit due to a slowdown in demand from China’s economy and an oversupply from producers. South Africa’s mining companies, who export primarily platinum, iron ore, gold, coal, and manganese, have been heavily affected by the downturn. Read more »

Africans in China: The Pivot Back

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
African traders buy clothing at a shopping mall in Guangzhou July 31, 2009. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

This piece has been co-authored by Nathan Birhanu and Bochen Han. Nathan is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program and is a graduate of Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development. Bochen is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Asia Studies program and is an undergraduate majoring in political science at Duke University. Read more »

BREXIT and Africa

by John Campbell
People chat in front of an electronic board displaying movements in major indices at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange building in Sandton Johannesburg July 9, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

It is early to assess the long term consequences for sub-Saharan Africa of the United Kingdom’s (UK) vote to leave the European Union (EU) on June 24. However, in the short term, it is useful to look at the performance in the exchange rates and stock exchanges of Nigeria and South Africa since the referendum. They provide something of an indication of the wider impact Brexit had on Africa. Nigeria and South Africa together account for more than half of sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product. Both have long had close ties with the UK, especially with respect to trade and financial services. In addition, there are myriad other ties between the UK and Nigeria and South Africa. For example, there is a large British expatriate community living in South Africa. The Nigerian expatriate population in the UK is also significant, and wealthy Nigerians have long favored the UK for education, health services, and second homes. Read more »