Johannesburg: Chinese companies may not be collecting many more government contracts in Botswana in the near future if Ian Khama has any say in the matter. As he is the president of the thinly populated and resource-rich country and since the party he leads is dominant in parliament, the prospects for Chinese bidders for infrastructure tenders are not looking good. "You know, we have had some bad experiences with Chinese companies in this country," Mr Khama said in a recent interview.
Johannesburg: China's economic involvement in Africa has thus far been dominated by that country’s need for and extraction of resources, and its exporting to Africa of all types of "Made in China" manufactures. Its construction contractors, telecom players and banks are also big players in the infrastructure arena, energetically and successfully selling to Africa. But as China’s business landscape evolves and its engagement with Africa deepens, one wonders how much scope there is for China to boost Africa’s manufacturing capacity.
Johannesburg: Despite impressive economic growth and political progress in many parts of Africa, the new year has begun with three cases of instability: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Central African Republic. Three key subregions — the Great Lakes, West Africa, and Central Africa — could thus be plunged into eruptions that could spread their deadly lava across borders. If Africans are to establish what Kenyan scholar Ali Mazrui described as a Pax Africana, it will be important to address the domestic, regional, and external dimensions of this instability.
Johannesburg: Ousted Madagascan president Marc Ravalomanana has gone to the Constitutional Court to appeal against restrictions on his movements within and outside South Africa. At issue is whether a South African court can prevent a person from travelling while he is under investigation, but has not been questioned, arrested or charged.
Johannesburg: Aviation is an important enabler of growth of national, regional and international trade and tourism — especially in Africa, which is still grappling with problems of underdeveloped infrastructure. Underdeveloped road and rail networks in huge parts of the continent means that the airline industry gains even greater significance at a time of a fast-growing middle-class that appears more than ever before committed to the idea of a more integrated continent.
Johannesburg: Perhaps ABBA’s song, Money, money, money, should be the African Union (AU) anthem. Similar refrains were the depressing mood music throughout most of the 39-year existence of its predecessor, the generally unlamented Organisation of African Unity (OAU), before it was put to sleep in 2002. For both bodies, whose combined 50th anniversary will be celebrated next May, finances have always been a debilitating problem.
Johannesburg: Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies says a "comprehensive strategy" is needed to deal with the intensified competition imported chicken poses to local poultry producers. But his solution — raising general tariffs instead of imposing antidumping duties — has disappointed local producers.
Johannesburg: South African can learn useful lessons about the relationship between growth, poverty reduction and urbanisation from the other Brics nations. The economies of China, India, Brazil and Russia accounted for almost half of growth in world output between 2000 and 2010. The role of urbanisation in the economic transformation of these countries has not been widely appreciated — but now a set of reports have been published that compares urban growth in each nation. The timing is apposite, with Census 2011 revealing far stronger growth of SA’s cities than expected.
Johannesburg: Beijing Automotive Works (BAW ) South Africa is cancelling plans to assemble the Inyathi taxi in South Africa as the company faces mounting anger from the taxi industry. This will be embarrassing for Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, who opened the company’s plant in Springs, Gauteng, last week, saying that it would help to "reindustrialise South Africa". BAW is a Chinese state-owned company and the government was promoting its entry into South Africa as taking on Toyota’s dominance in the minibus market.
Johannesburg: Last month marked the celebration of Oliver Tambo, the ninth and longest-serving president of the African National Congress (ANC). Renowned for his gentle humility, punctilious perfectionism and understated wisdom, he led the party between 1967 and 1991. At his funeral in 1993, Nelson Mandela described Tambo as "a great giant who strode the globe like a colossus". He was the political mentor of several ANC leaders, such as Thabo Mbeki and Pallo Jordan, inculcating in them values of integrity, honesty and open debate. He kept the party together in exile during its most difficult period. It was thus fitting that Nigeria’s most eminent scholar-diplomat, Ibrahim Gambari, was last month awarded the Companion of OR Tambo, South Africa’s highest decoration for foreigners.