Nigeria Now Has Africa’s Largest Economy

Revised GDP reports for Nigeria’s economy in 2013 reveal that the country has surpassed South Africa as the African continent’s largest economy. The original estimate of 42.4 trillion naira has now been adjusted to 80.2 trillion naira, allowing Nigeria to “leapfrog” South Africa’s economy and ascend to 24th on the global list of economies.  The primary factor of Nigeria’s GDP ascension has been the growth of the telecom industry; the increase of mobile technology and cell phone usage made this particular industry responsible for a quarter of the rise in GDP.  Other contributing industries include manufacturing and even film making industries. The new figures also reveal that the oil and gas industry, once thought to be the dominant resource of the Nigerian economy, has halved its percentage of GDP.  According to The Economist, “Nigeria now looks like an economy to take seriously.”




Mozambican Water Solutions

Mozambican President Armando Guebeza has inaugurated the Sampene Water Distribution Centre in the province of Zambezia as a new piece in the water supply system for Quelimane, Zambezia’s capital.  The Centre is both a reservoir and a pumping station with the capacity to hold up to 2,500 cubic metres of water.

Funding for the Centre was provided through a joint effort between the World Bank and the Mozambican government, costing approximately $2.1 million dollars.  The construction project created 100 new jobs.


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Fish Farming to Revitilize Economy and Fight Youth Unemployment in North-Eastern Nigeria

Nigerian Wetland Fishermen

Nigerian Wetland Fishermen

Bauchi, Nigeria – During a workshop organized by the Hadejia/ Jama’re Komadugu Yobe Basin Trust Fund, Dr Hassan Haruna Mbildya, head of the organization, identified fish farming as a way to revamp a stagnating economy and to fight poverty amongst unemployed youths in Nigeria’s Northeastern region.

Dr. Mbildya said “The fishery sector of the economy has a lot of potentials that has not been utilized, that is why the trust fund has brought these participants and consultants together to brainstorm on how to revitalize the regional economy through fishing business”

The workshop organized by Dr. Mbildya’s fund aims at providing knowledge and technical assistance to participants that are interested in updating the industry and creating new employment opportunities for the young and unemployed. The fishing industry currently employs over a million people and the money turnover is significant. Even the smallest markets, like the one in Gadar Maiwa, employ over a hundred workers and realize more than a million naira per week. The Komadugu Yobe river Basin alone, Dr. Mbildya claims, is home to at least a hundred of these markets and the total sector turnover amounts to more than a billion naira. The project to revitalize the industry aims at  increasing the total turnover of the sector, and most importantly, fighting poverty by employing the region’s growing youth.

The workshop organized by the Yobe Basin Trust Fund takes place within a broader regional effort to increase the size and efficiency of the fishing industry. Three West and Central African countries (Nigeria, Cameroon, and Sierra Leone) have already agreed on two three-year fishery and aqua-culture projects starting in January 2012. The projects cost 500,000 US dollars each  and are funded by the West and Central Council for Agricultural Research. Because the sub-sector contributes three percent to regional GDP and is one of the leading export markets, revamp projects like Dr. Mbildya’s workshop are crucial to the future of the regions economy and a vital aspect of the fight against poverty.

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South African Platinum Workers Return to Work

4000975239                                Anglo platinum workers picketing their job site.

Workers from the South African platinum producer Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) returned to work after a brief strike on Tuesday. The picket began this passed week when the workers started their wildcat strike without the approval of their union. The mineworkers’ action came in response to the suspension of 19 union workers in the Rustenburg mining belt in the North West province.

Although short-lived, the strike  shut down operations at two mines. The Association of Mineworkers and Constriction Union (AMCU) noted that their workers have returned to their jobs after the suspension was lifted from the 19 union workers. There has been no word about whether or not the wildcat strikers will bear any repercussions for their actions directly; however, Amplats has stated an intention to cut anywhere between 6,000 to 14,000 jobs in an attempt to make up for the cost associated with the wildcat strike and previous related strikes.

Perhaps Amplats intends to use these job cuts as a scare tactic to deter its employees from participating in future pickets. As the world’s largest producer of platinum, Amplats cannot afford to be afflicted by anymore strikes of this kind.


Ghanaian Government Cracks Down on Illegal Mining

A recent wave of arrests has marked an increased effort by the Ghanaian government to clamp down on foreign illegal mining. Pressure by local artisan miners, who feel threatened by the scale and veracity of the predominantly Chinese operations, together with increased concerns over the environmental effects of their mining practices have led government officials to order detentions of foreign workers throughout the country.

Ghanaian Police forces have arrested a total of 161 Chinese citizens, many of whom crossed borders from neighboring countries in order to bypass immigration authorities. The arrests were focused in the Ashanti region, long known for its rich gold deposits. The region has been mined for decades by local artisans with very little equipment and traditional, low impact methods. The arrival of the Chinese, however, has marked a shift towards medium scale operations that have a greater impact on the land and local business.

According to the Bank of Ghana, in 2011 the country made 4.9bn from gold exports. The economy as a whole has been growing at one of the fastest paces on the continent (7.9 % in 2012). The arrests, which aim at protecting the interests of the local miners, are creating a bitter dispute  with workers of one of Ghana’s most important trading partners. The Chinese, who are keen on maintaining a privileged trading status with the African country, have already agreed to pay bail and fines for breaking the country’s immigration laws. Authority’s in the Guangxi region, where many of the Chinese workers reside, are currently urging people not to go to Ghana to work in Gold mines.


Earthmoving equipment at a mine in Africa. Photo: AFP

In general, Chinese authorities are urging Chinese workers to respect the laws of the host country and are determined to work with Ghanaian authorities to settle the issue.

While Chinese officials are keen on maintaining good relations with Ghana, the arrested workers have been more outspoken in regards to the nature of their arrest. Ghanaian policeman have been described raiding camps, mines, hotels and any place where the foreign workers gather. In the opinion of the workers, their methods have not been ‘gentle’. Many of the arrested Chinese citizens have described the process as hastened and in some cases coercive, alleging to stolen cash and stolen car keys.

Nonetheless, the clampdown has earned the Ghanaian government praises from Global Rights, a leading global human rights organization. According to the NGO, Ghana’s recent crackdown on illegal miners, particularly the foreign illegal ones, was a step in the right direction. The Global Rights’ Country Director for West Africa, Mrs. Abiodun Baiyewu said the arrests ” Will create a comprehensive atmosphere for trade and investment in Ghana thereby boosting investor confidence. The VPs will further ensure constant dialogue among extractive host communities, the government, and the mining companies thereby ensuring that the interests of all stakeholders are protected”.

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Benin and Haitian President Discuss Future Cooperation

In mid October, 2012 La Francophonie summit was held in the Democratic Republic of Congo. During the summit, the President of Benin, Boni Yayi, met with the Haitian President Michel Martelly to discuss the possibility of cooperation between the two countries. President Yayi stated that Benin is “with Haiti” and wants to help with the development of the country. The two Presidents are considering a summit in order to lay out the terms of cooperation to help Haiti with development and policy.

In 2010, Benin signed an agreement with the Haitian State to provide scholarships to Haitian students and provide them with a higher education in Administrative Sciences, Economic and Financial Sciences, Biological and Environmental Sciences, Human and Social Sciences, or Science and Technology. President Martelly and President Yayi discussed the students and the program during the summit.

Haiti President Michel Martelly and Benin President Boni Yayi

Promising Infrastructure Deal Between South Africa and Alstom Trains

A Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) train.

A Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) train.

The infrastructure industry in South Africa is steadily on the rise. On December 5, 2012 the South African government proudly announced its most recent economy boosting deal with Alstom SA, a French railway company, which will renovate South Africa’s passenger trains.

This development has been 20 years in the making, as the nation has been working toward a total railway renewal. Presently, there are about 4,600 usable passenger coaches working through the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa. Some African nations have let their colonial-era train systems fall to ruin, but South Africa has kept theirs in full function. Even still, the majority of the working trains are over 30 years old. Clearly, the new venture with Alstom SA will greatly benefit the South African infrastructure but it will also ease the unemployment levels; as part of the deal, 3,600 coaches are set to be built and they will require new employees to do this work. In fact, an estimated 8,000 new jobs are projected to be created within South Africa as a result of this deal.

Transport Minister Dikobe Ben Martins was pleased to mention how much this will modernize and elevate the safety standards of the South African railroads. He also said that it represents a complete revival of the “rail engineering sector [that will contribute] to skills development and job creation amongst other bigger objectives.” Finally, he promised South African citizens that all future plans regarding the railway system will have the highest levels of transparency between the government and the people.

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Food Security Innovations in Senegal, But Not Without Difficulty

Peanut%20farmerSenegal’s population in the northern Sahelian region has been plagued by drought and the threat of starvation for years. Millions were at risk of starvation this past year as a devastating drought hit the region. However, people in Darkar, Sengal’s capital and largest city, have been developing horticulture to better sustain themselves against drought through the innovative use of space.

The story below shows that over 3,200 people work at 113 different production sites producing agriculture for their own sustenance and trade. The problem, however, is that most of such is being done on government land, which is up for grabs by the housing development sector, making it difficult for farmers to use the land they have used for years. The government’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Infrastructure has been working to help promote horticultural practices. The fate of food security in one of Africa’s principle democracies is being determined by the hand of innovation.

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Sec. of State Hillary Clinton Makes a Stop in Dakar

The Secretary of State made a stop in Dakar, Senegal on her way across the continent stopping at various developing African countries to talk about US investment in the continent.  This is a change from past years when a trip to Africa was usually for humanitarian purposes.

Recently, the United States has been making moves toward stronger investments in developing African countries.  The NY Times states that 7 out of 10 world’s fastest growing economies are in Africa.  The main competitor in investment has been China.  This Friday, the African Presidential Center will host Ambassador Zhong Jianhua, who is the Special Representative on African Affairs for the People’s Republic of China and will talk about Chinese investment in Africa.

Tanzania Holds Its Fifth Census Count

The Population and Housing Census, which began Sunday August 26th, is Tanzania’s fifth post- independence census count. The main objective of this census is “to contribute to the improvement of quality of life of Tanzanians through the provision of up to date and reliable data for development planning, policy formulation, planning and service delivery, as well as for monitoring and evaluating population programs.”

The past censuses in Tanzania have been less successful than hoped, and most censuses done in colonial times were actually used mainly to identify adult tax payers. The recent censuses in post colonial Tanzania have often been tainted with discrimination and prejudice.

This census is being held by the National Bureau of Statistics and the Zanzibar Office of the Chief Government Statistician. The more specific goals of this census include district profiling to provide planners with more accurate data, social and economic development planning, and providing data for researchers in various fields of study.