African innovation combines smart, economical responses with bold high-tech solutions. As the roller coaster of commodity prices dips, and debts and deficits grow, some of the talk about innovation and success can seem a little surreal. Yet activists, businesspeople and officials in Africa insist the need for innovation has never been stronger. From solar power and containing epidemics to the world’s fastest-growing film industry, this feature looks at a few of the latest successes.
The reconstruction needs for regions affected by Boko Haram are huge. Officials and community activists held a workshop in Abuja in April to discuss the government’s four-year recovery plan for the northeast. Meanwhile, a joint assessment by the federal government, the European Union and the World Bank in April reckoned it would take about $9bn to rebuild affected areas. However, improving security, relaunching economies and fostering justice and reconciliation are proving challenging.
The ruling party is struggling to convince voters and bankers that it can clean up the government’s books and hold former regime members to account, after the discovery in April of two state-guaranteed loans worth more than $1bn. The loans were taken out by shadowy companies linked to the intelligence services. The discovery has triggered an economic and political crisis unprecedented since the early 1990s.
Former Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) leader Zwelinzima Vavi and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) boss Irvin Jim are combining forces to shake up South Africa’s labour unions. They plan to start a new labour federation next year. Both bear grudges against Cosatu,which expelled Numsa in 2014 and Vavi in 2015 over conflicts about personality and politics.
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INVESTING SUPPLEMENT ON COTE D’IVOIRE
A comprehensive guide to investing in Cote d’Ivoire, from the political and historical situation, to a detailed analysis of the key areas of investment, including infrastructure, petrol, gas, mining and agriculture.
Some of 83-year-old President Biya’s supporters want him to continue in office for another term in 2018 while others are calling for an early vote. With the government intimidating the opposition, there is little chance of Biya’s critics being able to push back against it. This country focus also looks at the state of the economy; people to watch; development of the mining sector; challenges in agribusiness and includes an interview with Protais Ayangma Amang, President, Entreprises du Cameroun.
Two decades ago 55,000 workers lost their jobs in the textile industry. The provinces of Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal were the worst hit. Against the odds, the industry is now bouncing back and creating jobs thanks to a combination of smart government intervention and entrepreneurial tenacity.
Morocco is the latest African government to ban free internet calling services, riling consumers in the process. Protesters have accused mobile operators Maroc Telecom, Meditel and Inwi of trying to maximise profits by forcing customers to buy expensive international talk time.
OIL & GAS
This dossier looks at how Mozambique and Tanzania have been hard hit by low gas prices, which is driving investors to look closer to home for new customers and business opportunities. It also looks at the Nigerian government’s promise to shake up its management of the oil industry, although changes so far have not been quick or deep. It also considers how investment in Egypt’s domestic refining and the liberalisation of the gas and electricity sectors augur lower prices for consumers.
ART & LIFE
A career change is never easy, especially in a society where middle-age means quiet comfort. Turning this notion on its head are three Kenyan women of words who are not short on action.