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Press review Africa

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Africa press review 20th April 2017


A story in the Nigerian Vanguard reports that defence minister Mansur Dan Ali has warned it could take years to find all the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamist militant group Boko Haram three years ago.

Speaking on radio on Wednesday, the minister likened the inability to find the girls to US efforts to find Osama bin Laden after the invasion of Afghanistan.

The retired brigadier general said the military was committed to that task and all Boko Haram's forest hideouts near their northeastern stronghold were being searched.

“It took the US up to seven, eight, up to 10 years before they could get to bin Laden. We are continuing our campaign in the Sambisa Forest in all its nooks and corners."

His statement comes just a few days after President Muhammadu Buhari declared that the government was in touch with the kidnappers, on the third anniversary of the  abduction last week the paper notes.

In its efforts to impose a strict form of Islam in Nigeria, Boko Haram seized 276 students from a government secondary school in the town of Chibok, Borno State, in April 2014.

About 57 managed to escape soon after while the government negotiated the release of some 21 of the girls last October. Over 190 are still missing.

Ethiopia urged to tap youth power

An analysis piece in South Africa’s Mail & Guardian says Ethiopia can convert its youth “bulge” as it puts it from a political problem into an opportunity.

Sosina Bezu an economist from the Norway-based Michelsen Institute says the East African country has a lot going for it, with over 70 percent of its population under the age of 30. But without providing access to employment it can go nowhere.

Every year more than a million young Ethiopian men and women join the labour market. Instead of being seen as a threat to political stability with their recent role in political protests, the youthful nation should be viewed as an “economic muscle” she writes, but that “must be backed by appropriate policies”.

Bezu compares Ethiopia’s demography with that of China’s in the 1980s and of East Asian countries in the 1950s, both of which have led to spectacular growth hinging on a young workforce.

Over the past 12 years Ethiopia has been lauded as one of the fastest growing economies in the world she continues, with average GDP of 10.8%. It has also seen a significant decline in poverty, from 39 percent in 2004 to 23 percent in 2015.

Despite continuing to be wracked by drought and political protest, Bezu urges the way forward is to turn the young population from a political risk to an economic boon and “engine for growth”.

How? Job creation is essential she says, which would then boost demand and investment in the country. “The government should create an enabling environment for the private sector by improving the country’s dismal business environment,” she says,
at the same time as creating effective employment schemes.

While applauding recent efforts to boost job opportunities as “a step in the right direction”, she urges policymakers and politicians to stop using access to jobs as a political football.

Ramaphosa ramps up business support

South Africa’s Times reports that deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa told investors and industry chiefs gathering in Johannesburg on Wednesday night that despite the economy being under serious strain, South Africans still hope for a better tomorrow.

This comes after two credit ratings Standard and Poor's and Fitch downgraded the country’s rating to junk status last week, as the currency continued to slide following a major cabinet reshuffle.

S&P said Thursday it has not ruled out further downgrades if political uncertainty stalls growth.

Speaking at a Black Business Council economic recovery meeting, Ramaphosa said "there is still a lot of collaboration between business‚ labour‚ government as well as society,” reports the paper.

Council president, Danisa Baloyi, urged him to implement the much-promised “radical economic transformation” immediately "and stressed the importance of funding and support for small businesses in order to ensure inclusive growth".

But face of poverty still black

Putting a much stronger face on the story, Business Day headlines declare the “Time for radical economic change is now, Ramaphosa says”.

It reports the deputy president as saying at Wednesday's dinner that transformation is urgent “for more than two decades after the advent democracy, the face of poverty remained black and African.” 

“Ramaphosa is up against former AU Commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in the race to succeed ANC president Jacob Zuma,” it goes on.

Radical economic transformation has become a catchcry during the battle between factions in the ANC vying for dominance in the run-up to the party’s elective conference in December 2017.

Despite his feisty message, Ramaphosa did admit that the country’s political landscape was “fractious” the paper concludes.