Business: Latest News
Staff, 3:53 pm
Recently renewed by U.S. President Barack Obama, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA, allows qualifying African countries to export certain products to the U.S. duty free. U.S. exports to Africa, however, are subject to customs duties. Incoming President Donald Trump isn’t going to go for that, says Herman Cohen, a former U.S. ambassador to several African countries. “I have the feeling that he will ask African governments to accept reciprocity in trade relations,” Cohen said.
Dana Sanchez, 3:04 pm
At the World Economic Forum, where finance ministers attract as much attention as presidents, Pravin Gordhan’s presence this week in Davos is expected to be a show of strength, leadership and survival. Gordhan was asked to be SA finance minister after a bizarre, four-day, four-finance-minister sequence of firings by President Zuma. Deputy South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is leading Team SA at WEF. Cyril could use some “sparkle on his presidential ambitions,” a commentator said. Zuma won’t be attending.
Dana Sanchez, 12:29 pm
Despite reports of inequality and xenophobia, South Africa’s relative wealth and stability continue to draw migrants from all over Africa. South Africa has the highest number of pending asylum claims in the world — more than 1 million. African refugees heading to Europe get disproportionate media coverage. A far greater number would rather seek security and livelihood elsewhere in Africa. Of the world’s 17 million displaced Africans, only about 3 percent are in Europe. The vast majority are in Africa.
Staff, 3:13 pm
Morocco’s investment in sub-Saharan Africa the past decade represents 85% of its overall foreign direct investment stocks. The story of its national carrier, Royal Air Maroc, testifies to its expansive economic ambition on the continent. Morocco has expanded economic ties with many African countries through trade and investments since it left the African Union. It now seeks to return to the A.U., boost these ties and settle the unresolved matter of the Western Sahara. It has support of 28 African countries. Leaving the A.U. was a “strategic mistake,” a stakeholder said. “Africa is our natural home.”
Staff, 1:38 pm
A four-page list of Africa-related questions from Trump’s transition team to the State Department suggests a U.S. pullback from development and humanitarian goals but not necessarily from trade. How does U.S. business compete with others in Africa? Are we losing out to China? How much U.S. funding is stolen due to corruption? Why should we spend these funds on Africa when people are suffering in the U.S.? Americans believe the U.S. spends 25% of its budget on foreign aid. In reality it’s closer to 1%.
Staff, 1:01 am
As a Chinese official dangled the possible reward of $40-billion US in desperately needed investments, Nigeria this week hastily ordered the shutdown of a trade office by China’s rival, Taiwan. The Chinese diplomatic offensive has ramped up sharply since last year, when the independence-minded Democratic Progressive Party emerged victorious in Taiwan’s election. Since then, Beijing has lured two more African countries away from Taiwan’s embrace, while also battling to weaken Taiwan’s links to individual African politicians.
Dana Sanchez, 5:03 pm
Democratic Alliance opposition leader Maimane met this week with the Palestinian and Israeli business leaders to discuss how trade can be used for peace when politics fail. Zuma has endured overwhelming criticism from South Africans over corruption. Citizens voiced their displeasure at the polls in the August municipal elections. All major South African areas are now controlled by the DA except for Durban, Bloemfontein and Kimberley. Zuma needs a place to hide, a critic said. The narrative of the “oppressed” is a safe place for him.
Staff, 8:15 am
Blockchain has applications in industries other than financial services, a stakeholder says. Start-ups are already offering products that cover specific use cases. Interest was intense at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Africa in Cape Town. Most of us do not understand TCP/IP protocol, but that doesn’t stop us from surfing the web and exchanging emails. In the same way, clients will come to trust blockchain the same way they trust the Internet. Organizations starting now on a blockchain journey will have a first-mover advantage.
Global Risk Insights, 12:13 pm
While the world electrification rate is roughly 84 percent, only 19 percent of the sub-Sahara Africa population is connected. The grid is unlikely to expand fast enough to satisfy demand. Pioneering business models relying on pay-as-you-go could push off-grid solar energy to reach 9 million African households by 2020. Despite the early success of off-grid solar energy access through pay-as-you-go payment models, challenges remain.
Dana Sanchez, 11:08 am
Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates invested $9 billion in Africa over the course of 15 years, and said he plans to spend another $5 billion there in the next five. The world’s richest man says Africa is proof that life is getting better for more people. His optimism is not universal. His funding of GMO research to improve crop yields and reduce famine has been controversial. Anti-GMO voices don’t deter him. Here are five reasons why Gates said he sees the glass as more than half full in Africa.
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