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Russia’s charm offensive in Africa (Cold War 3.0)

The first-ever Russia-Africa summit was held on October 23-24 in Sochi, Russia, marking the culminating point of the return of Russia to Africa. More than 50 African leaders including Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa and President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique were in attendance.  Russia, which is the 11th largest economy in the world with a GDP of $1.63trn, is certainly punching above its weight. The country is taking advantage of the distractions of China and the US on trade wars on one hand and the Euro area and Brexit on the other.

Africa’s ageing dictators hold on to power

The average age of SSA rulers is now 72, whilst the median age in the continent is 19. This mismatch is now taking its toll. For example, since mid-October, thousands of Guineans have been demonstrating against proposed constitutional amendments, which would allow President Alpha Conde (81) to run for a third term in office. Although Condé has not explicitly stated that he will run for a third term, the speculation about a possible constitutional revision has fueled political and social tensions and is likely to make investors and donors nervous. Guinea has a turbulent political history, so the prospect of a protracted and acrimonious constitutional reform process is worrying.

Zim dollar makes a comeback

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has begun circulating Zimbabwean dollar banknotes for the first time in a decade. The new local dollar notes and coins are being introduced in an attempt to alleviate liquidity shortages in the economy and regain control of the country’s monetary policy. However, domestic confidence in the local currency is very low, owing to extremely high inflation, which is eroding the purchasing power of Zimbabwe dollars. Improving economic fundamentals will therefore be vital to the success of the new currency.

This publication addresses these and other issues.

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