Staff, 8:31 am
Much of the affection towards central Abuja has to do with its relative calm compared to Lagos. The infrastructure is better with most streets paved. Reliable power can be an issue but where there’s a dead stoplight there’s a traffic warden. There’s less concern about crime here with security high due to the many embassies and government buildings. Still you’ll find security walls around major hotels and random police checkpoints around the city after dark. But one feels safer walking down a random street in Abuja versus Lagos.
Staff, 6:29 pm
The Trump campaign made no mention of Power Africa in any campaign materials. The sole data point seems to be a 3-year-old tweet complaining that money going to Africa will be stolen, but one tweet from before the campaign doesn’t tell us much about future policy. Power Africa boosts American jobs by creating opportunities for U.S. companies. The Obama administration did bar public support for coal plants, which will likely be reversed by the new White House.
Staff, 8:57 am
It’s an odd comparison, but it has some merit. Marrakech can seem a bit like Las Vegas. There’s the cloying heat the moment you step off the plane, the abundance of global mega-resort chains, and a rotating roster of world-class DJs touring colossal clubs in this glittering desert oasis. And just like Vegas, Marrakech is a shopper’s paradise. Its medinas and alleyways are crammed with hole-in-the-wall operations hawking everything from gossamer djellaba gowns and sumptuous carpets to vials of argan oil and delicate combs fashioned from camel bone.
Staff, 6:12 pm
Where there are challenges or deficits, business and investment opportunities often emerge in the informal sector. The East African informal sector contributes 30-40% of GDP. Operating off the grid (not paying taxes), informal-sector employers and employees run the risk of punishment, limited police protection, and lack of social support services. Consumers help keep the informal sector growing, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Formal companies are getting rich providing services to the millions of consumers who use informal services. Here are some of them.
Staff, 12:00 am
Throughout 2016, the perception of bitcoin as a new safe haven persisted. People thought that if the U.S. Federal Reserve hiked interest rates, bitcoin’s perceived use as protection against economic uncertainty might be diminished. Its price might then fall. But despite the dollar’s 2016 gains and year-end rate hike, bitcoin still outpaced. When the U.S. dollar surges, currencies in emerging markets are devalued, increasing demand and the price of bitcoin, says investor Vinny Lingham.
Staff, 7:19 pm
Countries conventionally seen as resource-poor, like Ethiopia and Rwanda, maintained higher growth in 2016 — as high as 8% in agriculture-heavy Ethiopia, despite the worst drought in decades. Successful African economies focused on expanding and diversifying to attract foreign investment. Some economists predict improvement in African economies in 2017 as commodity prices rise. Others are less optimistic that resource-dependent countries can change tack at this point. Diversification doesn’t happen overnight.
Staff, 4:43 pm
Demo Africa has sent 20 African startups to Silicon Valley over the last four years. Arriving there is no guarantee of success. Twelve of the startups are still alive and breathing, four are on life support and four “are just dead and done,” said angel investor Stephen Ozoigbo. Demo Africa was launched five years ago by the U.S. State Department. It’s the African edition of a bigger group of events that include Demo U.S., Russia, Europe, Brazil and Demo China. The Demo-brand launchpad has helped big-name startups such as Adobe got exposure.
Staff, 8:50 am
Longtime Gambian ruler Yahya Jammeh took power in a coup 22 years ago. He lost the country’s Dec. 1 election, and initially conceded defeat, congratulating opposition leader Adama Barrow for his “clear victory.”Jammeh said, “I will help him work towards the transition. Then Jammeh changed his mind. The 15-country Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is threatening military intervention with troops led by Senegal.
Staff, 4:53 pm
Ethiopia’s controversial Gibe III dam got an official inauguration Saturday. UNESCO has condemned it. Human rights groups say it has displaced people in the Omo Valley and will decrease water downstream all the way to Kenya’s Lake Turkana. A far more controversial Ethiopian dam, Africa’s largest ever, is scheduled for completion in 2017. The Grand Renaissance Dam will produce the equivalent electricity of six nuclear reactors.
Staff, 9:19 am
South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko would have been 70 years old today. He was killed at age 30 by South African police while in detention. Biko fought to promote black consciousness during apartheid. While in medical school, he co-founded South Africa’s Black Consciousness Movement, which rejected apartheid and encouraged pride in racial identity and cultural heritage. Google is honoring the memory of Biko today with a doodle, altering the logo on its homepage. Apart from Nelson Mandela, nobody symbolized the struggle against the apartheid more than Steve Biko.