Tons of activity on the continent this week, ranging from the farcical diplomatic movements at the African Union, to the unveiling of Africa’s own tablet, to anti-Wade Protests in Senegal, and finishing up with the commencement of the knock-out rounds in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon in the Africa Cup of Nations.
- The week started with South Africa being confident that their candidate for African Union Chair was in pole position for the job. Dlamini-Zuma, the South African Home Affairs minister, was set to be the first women to hold the Commission’s top post, with South Africa apparently using diplomatic duplicity in telling their allies in the Francophone world to publicly support the current chairman, Jean Ping, but then vote for for Dlamini-Zuma on the secret ballot.This was apparently the tactic that South African used in defeating a Gaddafi backed resolution in the past. But why would you reveal your strategy to the national paper of record BEFORE the vote? So of course, the vote did not produce a clear winner and was put off till thesummer. This led to a story about South Africa’s leadership, or lack there of, on the continent.
- Allister Sparks writes in Business Day that more education investment is needed in South Africa. He discusses the needs of children, and the danger of not meeting their needs in the post-apartheid South Africa. A social project near the township of Alexandra in Johannesburg is his example for what can be done.
- Senegal hots up this week with anti-Wade protests sparking violence in the country. This is the first Presidential election of 2012 on the African continent. It will be important to watch which side has learned the most from the Arab Spring, the protestors or the Government. This might become the most important story of the foreseeable future on the political side in Africa. Foreign Policy also weighs in with a good piece on Wade asking if the election might be a referendum on his state spending, specifically on the Monument de la Renaissance Africaine. This is a telling quote from a Wade spokesman:
“Every five years the Senegalese citizens have the right to express themselves… on 26 February if they decide they don’t want no more Abdoulaye Wade for president, Abdoulaye Wade will not be president, so it’s all in their hands.”
- The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) set an all-time high this week. Reuters says that stocks are trading at price to earnings ratio of 13, meaning the same as US stocks, but no analysis on whether that’s a good thing!
- Responding to the low-cost tablet coming out of India, the African equivalent (set at a far higher price tag at USD$ 300) was launched. It’s made and sold by a company from the Democratic Republic of Congo, but manufactured in China. Interestingly, the device is only on sale in the DRC! This makes me wonder what market they are appealing to by starting with a market size that seems pretty small for high-tech electronics, can’t possibly be the local community? Maybe the foreign NGOs? Their website is only in French, so they’ll need to make an English version to appear to the richer Anglophone countries one would think.
- Ghana’s mobile future is under review in the One Blog. Apps, government intervention, and effect of ICT on transparency and governance are discussed with a Ghanian ‘social media’ entrepreneur. He’s spoken at TEDxYI and been featured in the Christian Science Monitor.
- A piece in The Africa Report talks about how faster internet in Africa is ‘coming’. I think most people would say that faster isn’t as important as cheaper, but from what I’ve heard from industry analysts, the price factor is likely the last piece of the supply chain to see the effects of the submarine cables landing on the continent.
- Voice of America had an interesting story about Facebook’s growth on the continent. It’s interesting because the references in the story are the recent report on Twitter usage, an Internet World Stats report that has Facebook users in its database and one social media professional in East Africa. The story got quite a bit of circulation, but I wonder how sound the story is based on the lack of comprehensive data that it uses.
- Found this interesting report on ICT in the coming years. So few academics are willing to make predictions, so I thought it’s worth a look.
- It looks as though the new social network from Google has yet to take root in Nigeria. But here are some nice statistics on who uses Google+ on the continent and their demographics in Nigeria.
- The Africa Cup of Nations heads into the second phase with the knock-out rounds commencing on Saturday. ESPN has a brief preview the quarterfinals. The big news from the week was that Sudan was able to qualify. Seems to be much goodwill for the Sudanese, despite the actions taken by its political leaders. Africa Is A Country has a nice round-up of links and news about the competition. My dark horse favorites, Botswana, was soundly defeated (and finished dead last), but my pick for the tournament, Cote d’Ivoire might have to go through both Host nations to get to the final, so there is still difficulty in the bracket for them.
- While North Africa isn’t under the purview of AWIR, the big story in ‘sport’ that’s dominating the ‘Africa’ headlines is the stadium disaster in Port Said. I’ve seen people question whether this is a ‘soccer’ or ‘stadium’ disaster. I would wager that this has more to do with the security/political system as a whole in the country, but we’ll have to see what comes out of the official investigation…
Is mobile Africa’s Future? by IBM