Our neighbourhood. Top Developments
1. Cameroon. President Paul Biya’s new presidential term began this week. It takes place in the midst of pronounced structural challenges regarding (a) secessionist activities in the South West and North West, (b) a largely kinetic government response that strains domestic and international consensus, (c) centralised power without a succession plan. Risk events to keep an eye on include the proposed all anglophone conference this month, the trial of anglophone secessionist leadership getting underway, human rights violations from both sides in the anglophone regions, deployment of security services, and the health of the president.
2. Democratic Republic of Congo. Major opposition parties are meeting in Geneva to discuss a single candidate to run against President Joseph Kabila’s anointed successor, former minister Emmanuel Shadary, next month.
3. Nigeria. MTN Nigeria regulatory woes may well be at a turning point. According to recent news reports, the two parties are close to a deal regarding the USD8.1 billion fine for the alleged illegal repatriation of profits. Of course, the rumour mill has turned before.
4. Nigeria. Foreign banks UBS and HSBC have closed shop in Nigeria, according to a Central Bank of Nigeria announcement. For now, no details explaining the move have been provided.
5. Senegal. USD550 million ‘Senegal Power Compact’ announced by the Millennium Challenge Corporation – aiming at (a) regulatory reform, (b) improving transmission network and (c) extending access to power in rural areas.
6. Sierra Leone. President Julius Maada Bio took office this year planning a review of the mining sector. The emphasis thus far has been on identifying corrupt licensing activities and boosting revenues to the state. More recently, the president has called for an increase in local beneficiation; particularly in the diamond industry.
7. Zambia. The past couple of days have been dominated by Finance Minister Margaret Manakatwe’s press conference in which she stated that (a) public debt has increased to USD9.4 billion, (b) international reserves are USD1.7 billon and (c) an IMF staff mission is in the country.