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US and France threaten DRC with sanctions after deadly protest FT
The US and France have threatened to impose targeted sanctions on
senior officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo after at least 17
people were killed in demonstrations organised by the opposition to
protest against President Joseph Kabila’s apparent bid to cling to
power after his term ends.
Evariste Boshab, the DRC interior minister, said 17 people were killed
in Monday’s protests in the capital Kinshasa and other cities, which
he described as an “attempted uprising”. Opposition politicians and
human rights activists put the death toll as high as 53.
Mr Kabila’s second term as leader of one of Africa’s most
resource-rich countries is due to end on December 19 but he has not
said that he is going to step down and no preparations to hold an
election have started. He has also charged Moise Katumbi, one of his
main challengers, with hiring mercenaries as part of an alleged plot
to topple him.
Most opposition parties believe the ruler who has been in power since
his father Laurent was shot in 2001 wants to stay in power for as long
Independent analysts say it could take up to 18 months just to update
the electoral roll in the country that is four times larger than
France but with a population of about 80m and wracked by myriad
internal conflicts and rebellions. In addition to having one of the
world’s richest copper deposits, the DRC is also a large exporter of
other minerals including cobalt and diamonds.
The country’s constitutional court has said Mr Kabila can stay in
power until an election is held, without giving a date when that would
be. Earlier this month the government said a national unity government
would be formed later this year to rule until elections.
Most of the main opposition parties have rejected this and Monday’s
protests in Kinshasa, Goma and Kisangani were aimed at putting
pressure on the president to step down when his term ends.
Offices of politicians loyal to Mr Kabila were set on fire and giant
posters of the president were torn down, with protesters chanting
“it’s over for you”, Reuters reported.
As security forces dispersed the thousands-strong crowds in Kinshasa
many people were killed, including three police officers, and scores
of people were injured and arrested.
Etienne Tshisekedi, leader of the Union for Democracy and Social
Progress, an opposition party, on Monday night called for a “popular
mobilisation every day until December 19”, a spokesman said.
Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French foreign minister, in New York on Monday
described the situation as “extremely worrying and very dangerous”. He
said European governments “will discuss” imposing sanctions.
Washington, which imposed sanctions on Celestin Kanyama, Kinshasa’s
police commissioner, in June following the suppression of protests,
also said on Monday it “remains ready to impose additional targeted
The US state department said it was “disappointed” at the failure of
the DRC’s electoral commission to stick to the constitutionally
mandated electoral timetable and “deeply alarmed” by Monday’s
“Today’s events underscore the need for a truly inclusive dialogue
process aimed at reaching consensus on holding presidential elections
as soon as technically feasible and guaranteeing the country’s first
democratic transition of power,” it said in a statement.
It added it was “outraged” by the “physical obstruction and verbal
aggression” directed against Tom Perriello, Washington’s special envoy
for the region, when he left Kinshasa airport on Sunday.
May 2015 "The revolutionary contingent attains its ideal form not in the place of production, but in the street"
PAUL Virilio (born 1932) is a French cultural theorist and urbanist.
In his book ‘Speed and Politics’ he says: “The revolutionary
contingent attains its ideal form not in the place of production, but
in the street, where for a moment it stops being a cog in the
technical machine and itself becomes a motor (machine of attack),
becomes in other words a producer of speed.’’
As we look around the world today, we can see a battle for the
‘street’ from the streets of Bujumbura to the streets of Baltimore. In
November last year, I wrote about Ouagadougou’s signal to sub-Saharan
Africa and concluded that: We need to ask ourselves how many people
can incumbent shoot stone cold dead in such a situation – 100, 1000,
This is another point: there is a threshold beyond which the incumbent
cannot go. Where that threshold lies will be discov- ered in the
throes of the event.
Therefore, the preeminent point to note is that protests in Burkina
Faso achieved escape velocity.
Silicon (Valley) Is the Hot New Commodity in Africa
The titans of Silicon Valley are undeterred by the economic slump
afflicting much of Africa.
Facebook Inc., Google, Oracle Corp. and Uber Technologies Inc. are at
the leading edge of turning the world’s frontier markets digital. As
the commodity crash buffets the continent’s biggest economies, the
interest and investments couldn’t come at a better time.
Almost half of foreign direct investment projects in Africa last year
were in technology, telecommunications, financial services and
consumer products. The amount dedicated to oil, gas and mining dropped
to 6 percent -- from almost a quarter in 2005 -- according to EY, a
“There’s been a big shift from an almost exclusive focus on extractive
sectors to those such as consumers and renewable energy,” said Michael
Lalor, the Johannesburg-based head of EY’s Africa Business Centre.
“There’s a growing base of consumer demand as that happens.”
African growth has slowed since 2014 as waning demand from China
hammered prices of raw materials from oil to copper and coal. Of the
three biggest sub-Saharan economies, Nigeria’s is shrinking and South
Africa and Angola are barely growing.
Investors have adapted by focusing more on the continent’s young
population and rising middle class as harbingers of opportunity.
Countries less exposed to commodities are reaping the benefits. The
number of foreign direct investment projects carried out by
private-sector companies in Kenya rose to 95 in 2015 from 62 the
previous year, the biggest increase among African nations, according
“Kenya is really benefiting in terms of long-term investment,” said
Martina Bozadzhieva, an analyst at London-based Frontier Strategy
Group, which advises firms looking at emerging markets. “A lot of
companies see it as a much more reliable, less vulnerable destination
than, say, Nigeria or Angola.”
Investment in West Africa’s Ivory Coast, which the International
Monetary Fund said will grow 8.5 percent this year, more than anywhere
else on the continent, is also booming. Heineken NV announced a new
brewery last year, French retailer Carrefour SA opened its first store
in December and Burger King launched its first sub-Saharan restaurant
outside of South Africa there the same month.
To be sure, the gap between promise and reality has bruised earlier
generations of foreign investors in Africa. Heineken Chief Executive
Officer Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said he was “praying” for higher oil
prices to boost beer sales, while retailer Truworths International
Ltd. pulled out of Nigeria in February, citing red tape and capital
Still, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg just traveled to Kenya and Nigeria
on his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa. In Nigeria, where his
personal fund in June invested $24 million in Andela, a Lagos-based
start-up software developer, he said he was “blown away by talent and
entrepreneurs in this country.” In Kenya, he said he wanted to learn
how businesses were using mobile money.
Oracle said this month that Africa was a “priority market” in which
“cloud technology will undoubtedly drive the next phase of growth for
Since launching in South Africa in 2013, Uber has entered Nigeria,
Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Morocco and Egypt. Last year CEO
Travis Kalanick named the continent as one of his priorities, along
with China and India.
Though only 15 percent of African adults own a smartphone, compared
with around two-thirds of Americans, there are still plenty of
opportunities. That’s true even in markets suffering economic slumps,
according to Alon Lits, who heads Uber in sub-Saharan Africa.
“At this stage, it’s probably more of a middle-class option,” Lits
said from Johannesburg. “But we’ve seen a huge increase in smartphone
adoption across the continent. We’re seeing consistent growth across
all markets. In a tough environment, if anything, people may look to
get rid of one vehicle in the household and look at alternatives,
removing the burden of a fixed cost.”
While minerals, oil and gas will continue to attract substantial money
from abroad, internet-based industries will become more prominent over
the next few years, according to Adeniyi Adedokun, an economics
teacher at McPherson University in southern Nigeria.
“Investors need to diversify,” he said. “It’ll take time, but they are
changing their strategies. They’re focusing on manufacturing and
construction. And telecommunications is attractive due to the growth
of broadband and smartphone penetration.”
Guinness Nigeria Posts First Loss in 30 Years as Downturn Weighs
Guinness Nigeria Plc, the country’s second-biggest brewer, posted its
first loss in at least 30 years as a downturn in Africa’s most
populous nation increased costs and cut demand for its brands.
The local unit of Diageo Plc posted a loss of 2 billion naira ($6.4
million) for the 12 months through June compared with a profit of 7.8
billion naira a year earlier, it said in an e-mailed statement on
Tuesday. Revenue dropped 14 percent to 102 billion naira due to the
“effect of foreign-exchange policy and the devaluation of the naira’’
and a weak economy, Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndegwa said in the
statement. Operating profit plunged to 4.4 billion naira from 15.7
The currency has lost almost 40 percent of its value against the
dollar since June, when the Central Bank of Nigeria removed the peg of
197-199 naira per dollar after more than a year. That increased price
pressures in the nation that imports goods from fuel to industrial
inputs. Gross domestic product contracted by 2.1 percent in the three
months through June from a year earlier, while inflation accelerated
to 17.1 percent in July, the highest rate since October 2005. The
economy is on track to shrink 1.8 percent this year, according to the
International Monetary Fund.
Guinness plans to invest 12 million pounds (15.6 million) in a plant
in Benin City, in the south of the country as it seeks to cut costs,
while it will consider selling Guinness stout and the herbal drink
Orijin in South Africa to attract foreign exchange, Ndegwa said in a
Sept. 9 interview.
The company’s shares closed at 100 naira on the Nigerian Stock
Exchange in Lagos. The stock is down 17 percent since the start of the
year, compared with a 5.4 percent gain by Nigerian Breweries Plc, the
biggest beer maker controlled by Heineken NV. The Nigerian Stock
Exchange All Share Index has retreated 1.5 percent this year.
Botswana at 50: the end of an African success story? The Conversation
It is 50 years since Botswana attained independence from British rule.
Over the decades, the small landlocked country has been regarded as a
role model for success in Africa. It has achieved political stability,
democratic government, and remarkable economic growth.
With these white minority regimes now long gone, Botswana has lost its
claim to exceptionalism. Today, there are valid reasons to question
Botswana’s “success”. The Botswana Democratic Party has remained in
power since independence and President Ian Khama, Seretse’s son, shows
increasing signs of authoritarianism.
Homosexuality is illegal and the San, an indigenous hunter-gatherer
population, face appalling levels of discrimination.
Growth is slowing in an economy that has failed to diversify away from
diamonds. More worrying, Botswana’s supply is expected to run out
within the next two decades.
As the nation reaches 50, the historical context of Botswana’s
“success” reveals it to be an outstanding example of image-building in
circumstances where survival was tied to international visibility.
Botswana may be reasonably depicted as a “United Kingdom” that
triumphed because of its inspiring message of interracial unity.
Nonetheless, the portrait of success is outdated. It is unlikely to be
revived for future anniversaries without substantial improvements in
economic progress, human rights, and social justice.
Central Bank Kenya @CBKKenya
The Governor spoke to a benign inflationary Trajectory, a stable and
even ''teflon'' shilling, a muscular reserves position and most
importantly what looks like a standstill in credit growth since last
year. Therefore, The cut was justified. Furthermore, The Governor has
spoken of the Banks making a ''down-payment'' a few weeks ago. This 50
basis point cut was the Central Bank's down-payment -
Private-sector loan growth at 7.2% in July from 21.4% year ago @Business
“The ructions in the financial sector and the obstacles to credit
expansion are likely to be viewed as a greater threat than inflation
at the moment,” Bohlund said.
Kenya’s credit growth has been slowing since 2014 and has lagged gross
domestic product expansion in the recent past, according to a
Renaissance Capital note on Sept. 15.
“It’s going to be a bumpy ride ahead for the banking sector,” Jibran
Qureishi, a Nairobi-based economist at Stanbic Holdings Ltd., said by
phone after the decision. “We see credit growth contracting even
further. This will compromise the central bank’s ability to manage
inflation. We expected them to take time to understand the
transmission of the rate cap.”
Kenya Bashes Its Bankers By Lionel Laurent Bloomberg Gadfly
The frontier market of Kenya isn't often on U.S. or European
investors' radar. It should be. It offers a timely reminder of
financial markets' complacency about the risk of populism; and the
attractiveness of bashing banks to win votes.East Africa's most
advanced economy has introduced a law setting a cap on commercial
lending rates and a floor on deposit payout rates, an instant squeeze
on margins that sent shares of Kenyan banks to their lowest in years.
Investors were clearly unprepared for a measure designed to make banks
poorer -- or less greedy, depending on your point of view -- in the
face of what Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta described as ordinary
citizens' frustrations about the cost of credit and earnings from
There's no denying Kenyan banks make rich returns. The country's
largest bank by assets, KCB, has a return on equity of 24.7 percent,
according to Bloomberg data, while rivals Cooperative Bank and Equity
Group are on 24.5 percent and 26.9 percent respectively. That's not
just leagues ahead of the 5-7 percent ROE at Europe's biggest banks,
it beats the 15-18 percent at South Africa's top lenders. Market
concentration may have something to do with it: Kenya's seven biggest
lenders (there are about 43 in total) hold 80 percent of the banking
But capping interest rates risks damaging the Kenyan economy and
stunting credit growth, a danger not lost on officials at the
country's central bank and finance ministry, who opposed the measure.
If banks stop catering to anyone but the safest credit risk, it may
encourage shadow banks or dodgy lenders to step in. If smaller banks
find it harder to make ends meet, they may get bought up, making those
dominant banks even bigger. And the new loan cap, at 4 percentage
points above the base central bank rate, sets a potentially
"unreasonable" ceiling for Kenya's risk premium, according to
investment firm Cytonn.So why take such a chance? Well, next year's
election and a bank-bashing law may be just the ticket to win votes.
Some analysts reckon it's a purely populist move.Yet the sell-off of
Kenyan bank stocks over the past month suggests markets weren't
adequately prepared for this risk, with the chorus of credible
dissenting voices perhaps lulling investors. And while it's easy to
dismiss this as the kind of problem specific to emerging markets,
there are echoes of the anti-elite vibe in Europe and the
U.S.Championing the banks, in particular, isn't much of a vote winner.
The U.S. election has put the restoration of Glass-Steagall back on
the table, with Republicans calling for big banks to be broken up.
British chancellor Philip Hammond is trying to put a protective arm
around the City of London by exploring continued access to Europe's
single market, but he's clashing with the crowd-pleasing instincts of
the "three Brexiteers", Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David
Davis.There's still hope that pragmatism will prevail. Calls for a
restoration of Glass-Steagall look like posturing, while Moody's
reckons that even if the U.K. quit the single market, its finance
firms could probably still do plenty of business in the EU.Yet the
Kenya experience shows the potential for nasty surprises in a populist
age, whether self-harming or not. Don't forget that Brexit itself
caught investors on the hop.