Editor’s Note: January 16, 2019

Who cares about what Africa wants?

“We were not tricked into this.” These are the words of Lubinda Haabazoka, the president of the Economics Association of Zambia, in a letter published by Bloomberg.

This was in response to an article about China’s Belt and Road Initiative, with Haabazoka criticizing the portrayal of ties between Zambia and Beijing as giving the impression that “we are somehow not in control of our own destiny.”

He raises an important issue – the underestimation of Africa’s agency in dealings with external partners. From development policy to investment and trade, the continent’s economies are often seen as helpless or clueless victims of foreign influence.

This is misleading.

Sierra Leone recently turned down a $400m Chinese-funded infrastructure project following a review, while Côte d’Ivoire has set up a task force to monitor projects backed by Beijing. Meanwhile Congo, Zambia and Tanzania are battling the global mining industry over royalties and taxes.

Africa’s external affairs have also never been more competitive. Big players like the US and China are part of an ever growing list of international partners looking to strengthen economic ties with the continent.

Whether this agency is being used effectively is debatable, but it’s a mistake to assume Africa has no say in shaping its economic fortunes.

From The Continent

Somalia-based militant group Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack on a luxury hotel in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, which has left at least 15 people dead. It’s the latest in a series of high profile attacks by the group in recent years, which it says are in reprisal for Kenyan troops being stationed in Somalia. More: Associated Press


Democratic Republic of Congo opposition leader Martin Fayulu has launched an official appeal against the result of the country’s contentious December 30 presidential election, which saw Felix Tshisekedi declared the winner. Congo is facing mounting regional and international pressure for a recount amid claims that Fayulu was the rightful winner. More:Reuters

The Daily Stat

6.75%

South Africa’s benchmark interest rate, which the country’s central bank is expected to hold during its first monetary policy committee meeting of the year from January 15 - 17. More: Bloomberg

The Global Perspective

Trade between India and Africa rose 22.2% in 2017/18 to $62.66bn according to theFinancial Express  newspaper, becoming Africa’s third-largest export destination. Delhi has ramped up commercial engagement with the continent in recent years, with hopes of boosting bilateral trade beyond the $100bn mark. More: Financial Express

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has acquitted Côte d'Ivoire’s former president Laurent Gbagbo of war crimes in relation to post-election violence in 2011. The decision is seen as a blow to the ICC’s credibility, which has faced repeated accusations of unfairly targeting Africa. More: BBC

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