Friday, May 23, 2003
Here's another article about the big Ashanti/AngloGold merger:
The Ghanaian government has what is called a gold share in Ashanti, with which it could scupper any deal.

"Ashanti is a political hot potato," said one precious metals analyst.

The business logic behind a deal is clear, and many believe that such a merger would add value for AngloGold shareholders.

"The merger is something which on the face of it seems to have perfectly clear business logic to it," said Graham Birch, who manages about $1,5bn invested in the precious metals and the mining sector for Merrill Lynch in London.

I wonder how much of an effect the "nationalism" issue will have on the Ghanaian government's position. Governments (not just African governments) usually face a lot of internal resistance when it comes to divest these Commanding Heights sort of businesses. The current government has been trying to accelerate privatisation, but it will be interesting to watch this play out.

Bush is talking tough about reforming agricultural trade and is even taking on the GM issue:
Bush said Europeans, by closing their markets to bioengineered foods, have caused African nations to avoid investments in such crops. "European governments should join -- not hinder -- the great cause of ending hunger in Africa," he said. Accusing those who subsidize agricultural exports of preventing poor countries from developing their own crops, he added: "I propose that all developed nations, including our partners in Europe, immediately eliminate subsidies on agricultural exports to developing countries so that they can produce more food to export and more food to feed their own people."

By making the challenges to Europeans before the meetings of the Group of Eight leaders in Evian, France, Bush significantly escalated a food fight with European governments, which have been resisting genetically altered crops in the face of broad public opposition. Earlier this month, the United States and several other countries filed a lawsuit with the World Trade Organization complaining about a 5-year-old European moratorium on bioengineered crops.

The talk is good, but I'd like to see some results... Last year's "Farm Security Bill" wasn't particularly encouraging.

This article from the Spectator paints a pretty sorry picture of the Catholic and Anglican churches' attitude toward the recent goings-on in Zimbabwe:
Ncube is an astonishing man, fighting a private battle against despotism and murder that has unmistakable echoes of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s lonely crusade against Nazism during the second world war. Bonhoeffer was executed just before the end of the war; Ncube is running the same kind of risk. Like Bonhoeffer, Ncube is estranged not just from the ruling regime but from much of the Church that he serves, since its leading members have preferred to collaborate with the regime.

But none of us in Britain has the moral right to condemn the churchmen on the ground in Zimbabwe, any more than we have the right to condemn the Protestant pastors in wartime Germany who cheered on Hitler. We cannot imagine the perils they are under or the compromises they are forced to make; nor do we know the little acts of human goodness they still perform. This exemption cannot be made, however, for the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches in London. Our bishops do not live under daily threat of arrest, torture and mutilation. They are not followed by the secret police. But our churches, too, are mesmerised by Mugabe, and afraid to speak against him, as the shameful story of the archbishop’s visit to Britain last week demonstrates.

I'm too young to remember the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, but it seems to me that Desmond Tutu became (and remains) a hero in the West in both religious and secular circles for his principled stand against the South African regime. So why is it that faithful church leaders in Zimbabwe, such as Ncube, find themselves alone? Not only has the Church failed to condemn evil, the Church appears to be aiding it...shades of Rwanda.

(Via Instapundit)

Wednesday, May 21, 2003
And speaking of emerging markets, the Gulf of Guinea oil reserves will have a lot to do with whether the next 25 years is a boom or a bust:
African governments and major international oil explorers are meeting in Angola to discuss to how to exploit offshore oil from West and Central African nations.
Discussions will centre on the Gulf of Guinea, which includes Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Gabon, Angola and the Republic of Congo.

"The Gulf of Guinea has potentially the largest oil reserves as far as offshore deep water oil is concerned," said conference organiser Obiajulu Okuh.

Oil reserves haven't exactly brought prosperity to countries like Nigeria and Angola, so if I were an African head of state, I would be looking for other models...

Holman Jenkins makes the argument for privatisation (in Iraq, but could be applied anywhere else):
Our proposal is a variation on privatization, with a twist that might at first offend nationalist sensibilities but on closer inspection would undoubtedly win a sweeping majority in any referendum of Iraqi voters.

It starts with auctioning oil extraction rights to ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, Shell, BP and other publicly traded oil giants in a "pooling of interest" deal. Iraqis wouldn't receive ownership of oil but ownership of stock in foreign oil companies. These stakes would be protected by Western laws and traded on international stock exchanges. The value of their holdings would be on transparent display. Iraqis could see on a daily basis an index of how the world's investors judge the prospects of their investments.

Some will moan that selling Iraq's oil reserves to international companies would be selling Iraq's birthright, depriving the nation of its wealth, blah, blah. But the wealth of Iraq would continue to exist in the wealth of individuals, who would be free to cash out of oil stock and diversify into mutual funds or borrow against their shares to capitalize a business or build a home.

I think he makes a plausible case...but of course with me, he's basically preaching to the choir.

Is Africa the next emerging market?
"The essence of a developing country is that most things haven't been done, and everything that hasn't been done represents an opportunity," says Hermann Chinery-Hesse, the founder of Ghana's biggest software firm.

"Africa's like the wild west, you can do things that really change the landscape," agrees UK-born David Bolton, a tech whizz-kid who accepted the challenge to help Ghana's computer programmers on the invitation of the government who discovered his African roots.

"I'm here because it's virgin territory and the last-emerging market," says Alexander Sulzberger, who owns a firm selling wholesale bandwidth to countries along the West African coast.

Demand for bandwidth is growing tremendously, he explains, saying his turnover has risen to $150,000 within two years. "That's simply not possible in any established marketplace," he says.

Of course there a lot of barriers to be overcome before west Africa becomes the next Singapore or South Korea -- most notably lack of infrastructure, corrupt government, and excessive regulation. But this article does show that there are intelligent people asking the right questions and that's a big part of what brings about change.

Business news...

AngloGold of South Africa is trying to buy Ashanti Goldfields, the NY Times reports:
Ashanti has six mines in four African countries — Ghana, Guinea, Tanzania and Zimbabwe — and exploration projects in seven countries on the continent. The company is expected to produce 1.6 million ounces of gold this year. If the deal goes through, AngloGold's total output is expected to be 7.5 million ounces in 2003, half a million ounces more than the current No. 1 producer, Newmont Mining.

AngloGold, which is based in Johannesburg, has been trying to expand beyond South Africa. In July, the company bought a 46 percent stake in the Argentine mine Cerro Vanguardia, raising its total ownership to 92.5 percent.

If it goes through, the deal will make AngloGold the largest supplier of gold in the world.

Here's another:
Stakeholders in the West Africa gas pipe-line project yesterday in Abuja signed an agreement to deliver its first methane gas by June 2005.
Gaius-Obaseki said the pipeline would link Nigeria and Ghana at the onset with a supply of 450 million cubic feet of gas, before considering extending the facility to Benin Republic and Togo, "after sorting out some hiccups".

I don't follow Mauritanian news very closely, but I thought this was interesting:
State radio aired repeated appeals Tuesday for people to call new anti-terror hotlines with reports of suspicious behavior, the latest step in a crackdown on Islamic extremists in the Arab-dominated West African nation.

Over the past two weeks, police have arrested pro-Iraq Islamic leaders, members of Mauritania's banned Vanguard Party who back Saddam Hussein, and those affiliated with several Islamic organizations suspected of funding extremist groups.

State radio urged residents to call the hotlines "to save their lives and defend their country from terrorist threat."

I'd always had the idea that Mauritania was something like the African version of Iran, but this article seems to contradict that characterization. In fact, it says that since the 1991 Gulf War (in which the Mauritanian government supported Saddam), the government has actually become more western-oriented.

Interesting... Jonathan is blogging about a new proposal for East African integration. The proposal would create a federation with the purpose of coordinating the member states economically, politically and militarily.

Is this the beginning of the rise of the Anglosphere in East Africa?

Monday, May 19, 2003
Here's an article about the plans to establish an African security force by the year 2010 which would deploy under the authority of the African Union's Security Council. Oddly, there's no mention of Qaddafi in the article, although I'd read before that he was one of this proposal's main proponents.

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