LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Whatever the outcome of Nigeria’s tight Feb. 16 election, the next leader of Africa’s most important country will be four times older than his average compatriot. Given the need to rejuvenate a moribund, oil-dependent economy, that’s not ideal. Opposition challenger Atiku Abubakar is hardly a breath of fresh air and has a graft-tainted reputation, but his talk of relaxing the state’s grip on the currency and oil sector is at least a step in the right century.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - European politicians, as well as passengers who appreciate more leg room, will lament Airbus sounding the death-knell of the A380. Few others will shed tears for the gas-guzzling behemoth. As with the supersonic Concorde, another engineering marvel, the superjumbo owed more to regional political ambition than commercial logic. The aerospace group can now focus on closing its valuation gap with U.S. rival Boeing by churning out more of the nimbler, greener two-engine jets that airlines want to fly.
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (Reuters Breakingviews) - Africa is alternating between the red carpet and the red card in its approach to the mining sector. As executives of the biggest firms gathered for this week’s annual industry conference in Cape Town, the continent’s politicians were to be seen quaffing Shiraz in the shadow of Table Mountain to drum up inward investment. At least one major state is taking a different approach, though.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - China and the United States’ global Cold War has an increasingly important theatre: Africa. On different metrics Uncle Sam and the Middle Kingdom can claim to be the continent’s biggest player. In 2019, China will pull ahead.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Twenty-five years after genocide, German cars are rolling off production lines in Rwanda. To keep motoring the tiny, landlocked East African country needs access to markets. Luckily, one on its doorstep is set to buck the global trend towards balkanisation.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - As rolling power blackouts hit South Africa this week, an old gag resurfaced. “What did South Africans use for lighting before candles?” Answer: “Electricity.” The problems at state-owned Eskom are no laughing matter, though. Energy rationing is not even the most serious issue: the utility is broke and its debt pile is too much for the government to handle.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - As the world investment spotlight illuminated Riyadh last month, bosses of limelight-shunning Naspers stayed at home to unveil plans to pour $315 million into South African tech startups. That’s small compared to SoftBank’s $93 billion Vision Fund, powered in part by Saudi petrodollars. But the emerging market internet giant’s quietly-quietly $8 billion tech war chest is still worth watching.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Donald Trump has discovered Africa. After years of paying scant attention to the continent’s economic development, Washington is trying to counter China’s pervasive influence. Yet doubling financing to poor countries to $60 billion – the same amount Beijing pledged to Africa this month – sounds worryingly Cold War. If a desire to trump his Chinese counterpart, rather than solid financials, is the U.S. president’s main objective, American taxpayers will pay the price.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Newly installed chief executives like to get bad news out of the way early on. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is taking that practice to extremes. The “Ramaphoria” that surrounded his accession six months ago was extinguished on Tuesday when official data showed the economy sunk into recession in the first half of the year. The ruling African National Congress is still destined for election victory next year. But without a solid win Ramaphosa’s grip on the party, and his ability to push through growth-boosting economic reforms, will be in doubt.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Just because beer is cheap, it doesn’t mean you should drink. Africa has for years been drunk on cheap Chinese credit, a habit that has led to waste and even sovereign default. China is now preaching sobriety, but neither Africa’s borrowers nor their lender are showing much appetite for restraint.