Africa Brief 28 May 2014
A Society full of Niches
by Cees Bruggemans words 1400
The SA footprint is highly fragmented, when thinking race, language, religion, geography, income, wealth.
Three broad groupings appear to matter.
Africa Brief 6 May 2014
Africa's Golden Gas Coast
by Cees Bruggemans words 1170
In the olden days they had a way of naming African coasts for what these had to offer most. So in West Africa there was the Ivory Coast, the slave coast and the gold coast. This old tradition is coming back into focus when looking at Africa's eastern flank.
Africa Brief 10 April 2014
On a Chinese Africa Brink? 10/4
by Cees Bruggemans words 1160
The Chinese-in-Africa story has probably improved a great deal in the telling, but there is enough to give us a firm outline of a very distinct approach and highly probable future.
Africa Brief 3 April 2014
Unlikely Ethiopia 3/4
by Cees Bruggemans words 2240
To South Africans, Ethiopia must be one of the unlikeliest places to consider investing and doing business. Far away, difficult to access, poorly developed.
Yet others, perhaps coming from different, more challenging, less privileged origins, clearly see things differently. Does it make Ethiopia a place to watch this decade, or simply a bridge too far this century?
Africa Brief 4 March 2014
Lesotho's 2015 Budget 4/3
by Cees Bruggemans words 1530
The Lesotho Budget for 2014/2015 was, as in recent years the case, refreshingly open and honest as the Minister of Finance tried very hard to tell the country that there are severe structural shortcomings that need to be addressed with considerable urgency.
Africa Brief 20 February 2014
Limpopo's tantalising decade 20/2
by Cees Bruggemans words 1100
Limpopo Province is still feeling a little raw, after a few really bad years in which Juju's crowd ran things into the ground and ultimately had to be politically recalled, and the new provincial team having to reorientate and reposition, and this taking some time.
Africa Brief 30 January 2014
Resilient Botswana 30/1
by Cees Bruggemans words 1550
The Botswana economy slowed down to a 4% growth pace through to early 2013 due to poor mining performance, but has since picked up speed, especially on the diamond output and export side. For 2014, better global and mining prospects look set to continue growth at 5%, also benefitting from a depreciated Pula even as inflation is expected to stabilize at 4%-5%.
Life cannot all be about destructive political elites, about daily news flow focused on political dismemberment and fragmentation, or about corruption past, present (and future), about economic under-performance, supply constraints, labour disruption, and steadily gathering stagnation even as the blame game remains mostly focused on apparently indefinite global crisis mutation (even if the SARB message has become a lot more nuanced as many domestic shortcomings are now regularly highlighted).
It is not the quality of 30 year plans that will make us whole, but whether the public sector can improve its game by more than just a notch, union labour can become constructive, supply constraints can ease, confidence seep back, trade competitiveness be regained, fixed investment be upped.
A first impression of a Ghana when looking at the map may be of a small country, squeezed in between its West African neighbours, with giant Nigeria only 300km to the east, once past genuine little Benin and Togo.
Yet physically, Ghana has as much landmass as the United Kingdom. It comes across as box-sized. Similarly like Cape Town-Knysna (500km east-west) bordering to the south on the Atlantic Ocean, and stretching another 700km north-south (Cape Town-Namibian border).
Into that box press 25 million people, about half the population of South Africa. Living more in the tropical south than the dry grassland north. Still more rural than urban. The two biggest cities (Accra and Kumasi) hold 9% and 8% of the total population respectively. The top 20 cities hold about 1\3 of the total population.
The total labour force is 11.5 million strong (2008), again about equal to half the SA labour force.
So physically and demographically Ghana is impressive and mostly holding its own in our company. Also in quality terms. In the African context, it ranks closely after Mauritius, Sechelles, Botswana and South Africa in terms of governance - very high in other words compared to the other 48 countries on the continent.