CHAD – The Dead Heart of Africa

 

Chad, named after Lake Chad, is a landlocked Sahelian country in central Africa which is often referred to as the “Dead Heart of Africa’’ due to its distance from the sea and desert climate. The country is bordered by Cameroon in the southwest, by the Central African Republic in the south, by Libya in the north, by Niger in the west, by North Sudan in the east and it has a border with Nigeria just across Lake Chad. Chad is the largest of the 16 landlocked countries in Africa.

It gained independence from France in 1960, though France still remains a source of Chad’s budget, funding about 30% of the national budget. After independence, Idriss Deby who was an army officer and a graduate from Muammar Gaddafi’s World Revolutionary Center helped Hissen Habre topple Goukouki Oueddei government in 1982. Furthermore, in 1990 after being appointed as the chief military adviser to the Presidency, Idriss Deby toppled the government of President Hissene Habre and he became the president of Chad. Since then he is still Chad’s president making him the 4th longest current serving African President with 29 years in power.

With a population of 15.8 million, GDP of $11.05 billion and the unemployment rate of 5.9%, Chad is one of the world’s least developed countries, with a Human Development Index (HDI) ranking of 186 out of 189 countries and territories (UNDP, 2018). The country is ranked 165 out of 180 countries in the 2018 Transparency International corruption perception index and 182 among 190 economies in the World Bank Doing Business 2019 report.

Chad’s main economic activities are primarily agriculture i.e rearing of livestock, Cotton, Cattle and Gum Arabic which are primary non-oil exports. In 2017 the sector accounted for almost 50% of GDP and it also employees 90% of the population. However, the economy depends heavily on oil, which accounted on average for 78% of total exports in 2016– 18 and 89% in 2018. Oil revenues averaged more than 65% of total non-grant revenues and 60% of the national budget. This dependence on oil revenue affected the public debt which rose up to 49.2 % of GDP in 2018 however, there has been a recovery in the oil prices which might result in an estimated fall to 45.4% in 2020 (AEC,2019). The country is said to have gold deposits, silver, diamonds, quartz, bauxite, granite, tin, tungsten, uranium, limestone, kaolin, and salt (ATA,2019) despite its dependency on oil.

The major exports in 2017 were led by Crude Petroleum which represents 92.3% of the total exports of Chad, followed by Insect Resins, which account for 2.67%. The imports were led by Packaged Medicament’s which represent 6.47% of the total imports of Chad, followed by Soap, which accounts for 3.41%. The top export destinations are the United States, China, the Netherlands, India, and Turkey, and top import origins are China, France, Cameroon, India, and Belgium-Luxembourg.

On the Neil Economic Scale, the price of a can of coke in Chad is 597 CFA (R14.85) and a litre of petrol costs 600 CFA (R14.92). Inflation Rate is -2.8 which is rare in Africa.

Investing in Chad has been difficult due to its limited infrastructure, lack of trained workers, extensive government bureaucracy, and poor governance. The country is also experiencing violence and instability from internal rivalries between ethnic groups, conflicts in neighbouring countries and fighting the extremist group Boko Haram, which have negatively impacted the country’s competitiveness and growth. The government has however made regional integration a pillar of its development strategy and also assisting more than 450 000 refugees from neighbouring countries who make 4% of Chad’s population.

Djibouti – Land of the White Gold

The country named after its capital, Djibouti City, Djibouti lies in northeast Africa on the Gulf of Aden in the Horn Of Africa and at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. Formerly known as French Somaliland (1896–1967) and the French Territory of the Afars and Issas (1967–77), the country took Djibouti as its name when it gained independence from France on June 27, 1977. It borders Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia. The country which is almost the size of Massachusetts, is mainly a stony desert, with scattered plateaus and highlands

With an estimated population of 960 000 people and a GDP of $1.97 Billion (World Bank 2018), the country is home to the 3rd most Saline Body water and 6th in the World called lake Assal. The lake is a crater lake in the Danakil Desert in central Djibouti. Dormant volcanoes and black lava fields back its emerald water.

More than 155m below sea level, it’s the lowest point in Africa and the third-lowest point on Earth after the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. No outflow occurs from the lake, and due to high evaporation, the salinity level of its waters is 10 times than that of the sea. Lake Assal is the world’s largest salt reserve which has been named the “White Gold” and has given life to its nation.

Djibouti has had its geographical location working to its advantage which can be seen in the Developed countries’ interests in setting up either a base or shipping representation in the country. located at the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, the gateway of the Suez Canal – through which 10 percent of the world’s oil exports and 20 percent of all commercial goods travel. The Gulf of Aden/Red Sea is a critical water space, through which a significant amount of global merchant shipping passes, China has advanced in taking advantage of this by setting up a military base in Djibouti in 2017 – a step that elevated the African nation’s status while sparking concerns over China’s military might. This forms China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”, supporting Beijing’s juggling of commercial and military objectives in Africa. It hosts other military bases for France, the United States, Japan, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as well as other foreign countries with forces supporting global anti-piracy efforts.

The country’s economy has been driven by a state-of-the-art port complex, among the most sophisticated in the world. The size of its economy limits its ability to diversify production and increases its reliance on foreign markets, making it more vulnerable to market downturns and hampering its access to external capital. The country has low agricultural productivity as only 4% of the country’s land is arable, hence relying on imports for food supply.

On the Neil Economic Scale, the price of a can of Coke in Djibouti is 90 DJF (Djiboutian franc) (R7.48) and the price of a litre of petrol is 220 DJF (R17.30). The inflation rate is around 2.18%.

Djibouti’s Doing Business ranking improved from 171th in 2016 to 99th in 2018. The government continues to focus on financial-, telecommunications-, and trade-related services, solidifying the country’s position as an important regional business and trade hub in the Horn of Africa. As a result, the economy relies heavily on the service sector, which accounts for some four-fifths of the country’s gross domestic product. The government of Djibouti has maintained a good and stable political environment and governance issues are not part of the list of problems but most significant are environmental problems – deforestation, desertification, water pollution, and the protection of its wildlife. The country remains with great potential bigger and greater than its size.

Sierra Leone – The Lion Mountains

 

Characterised by British Colonial Heritage which came to an end on the 27th of April in 1961, Sierra Leone is an English-Speaking country in West Africa bordered by Guinea in the Northeast, Liberia in Southeast and The Atlantic Ocean in the Southwest.

Named the “Lion Mountains” by the Portuguese Explores, Sierra Leone has an estimated population of 7.6 Million and an estimated GDP of 4 Billion (World Bank 2018). The largest and Economic Hub of the country is its Capital city Freetown. The country has gone through several coups and has had its fair share of unrest, civil wars, and Ebola outbreaks but it remains as one of the most religiously tolerant countries with the 77% Muslim majority coexisting with the 23 % Christian minority with close to nonreligious driven conflict.

Sierra Leone like many of its African compatriots is richly blessed with many natural resources like Diamond, Iron, and Gold. In 1972 On February 14, the country made headlines when the world’s third-largest gem-quality diamond- called the “Star of Sierra Leone”- was discovered in Koidu. Historically the diamonds became the source of unrest as the rebel groups had control of the major diamond deposits and they became known as Blood Diamonds as they fuelled procurement of arms and gave rise to the uprising in the country for more than 4 decades. Today the country remains one of the top 10 largest producers of Diamonds in the world and artisanal mining is still the second-largest employer from agriculture in the country.

Sierra Leone remains dependent on agriculture which can be seen by the 60% contribution to the GDP of the agriculture sector in 2017 with major cash crops like Coffee, rice and cocoa production. The stagnation of the economy in 2018 could be explained the reduction in mining sector output as they were a major disruption in productivity on the Tonkolili and Marampa mines which are major Iron-ore mines. This could persist to 2019 as the government has cancelled major Mining Licenses including Tonkolili and Marampa. Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio, since his election last year, has been reviewing mining contracts and considering changes to the law that would ensure the West African nation benefits from its natural resources.

Electricity supply is still a major constraint in the country and the lack of infrastructure, and an unfavourable business environment will also continue to harm growth. Tourism prospects were also particularly affected by this situation, and China cancelling funding $400m (£304m) for a new airport near the capital in 2018. The IMF has advised the country to avoid huge capital projects which could put the country in a debt trap as the level of public debt (62.99 % of GDP in 2018) is too high.

On the Neil Economic Scale, the price of a can of coke in Sierra Leone is 11407.50 SLL (R17.14) and the price of a liter of petrol is 8,500 SLL (R12.77). The average Inflation rate is 15.2%.

Sierra Leone remains a great country with so much potential of transforming the prospects of its people. The new Government through President Julius Maada Bio has put in place new measures to fight against corruption, improve the quality of life of the population by channelling revenue generated from its natural resources to the development of the country. The estimated $250 Million foreign currency generated from diamond exports could do so much good for the people of Sierra Leone and the government has been trying to improve governance of strategic resources to ensure the beneficiation of the people.

Cameroon – Home of the “Chariot of Gods”

 

Cameroon, commonly known as “Africa in miniature” is a country that is sandwiched between Central Africa and West Africa and bordered by six countries, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, and Nigeria. Historically and geographically, the country is in West Africa, although it is not a member state of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). It’s a home of the world’s largest frog known as Goliath Frog, which grows up to 34 cm (a little over 13 inches) in length and weighing up to 3.3 kg (7.3 pounds). Not only that but it’s also a home of the tallest mountain in West Africa, Mount Cameroon and the famous volcano locally know as Mount Faka or the Chariot of Gods which is the country’s main tourist attractions. Finally, it’s a home of Samuel Eto’s Elis, one of the greatest African footballers of all time and one of the best strikers in the world who won African Player of the year 4 times.

After World War 1, the country was divided into two zones one lead by the British (Northern and Southern Cameroon) and the other part lead by France (French Cameroon). In 1960, French Cameroon gained its independence with Ahmadou Ahidjo as the president and the following year, Southern Cameroon joined in to form the Republic of Cameroon while Northern Cameroon chose to join Nigeria. After Ahidjo ruled for 20 years he later resigned and handled overpower to the then prime minister Paul Biya who was sworn-in on the 6th of November 1982. 86 years Paul Biya is still the president of Cameroon making him the 2nd longest current serving Africa president after Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea with 37 years in power.

With a population of over 25 million, of which 90% are people under 25 years (AFD,2019), and unemployment rate of 3.4% Cameroon is a lower-middle-income country ranked 152 out of 180 countries in the 2018 Transparency international corruption perceptions index and 166 out of 190 economies in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 report.

Cameroon is endowed with rich natural resources, including oil and gas, minerals, high-value species of timber, and agricultural products, such as coffee, cotton, cocoa, maize, and cassava. It has the most diversified economy in Central Africa, with the primary sectors contributes highly to the domestic economic activities. It’s the fifth-largest producer of cocoa in the world and one of the largest producers of crude oil in Sub Saharan Africa. (World Bank 2019). Its major export is crude oil (contributing 40% of the total export), timber, cocoa, bananas, and coffee and its top imports are refined petroleum, rice, crude petroleum, special purpose ships, and packaged medicament.

On the Neil Economic Scale, the price of a can of coke is 514 CFA (R13) and the price of a liter of petrol costs 630 CFA (R15.53). The average Inflation rate is estimated to be at 2.12%

The country’s GDP rose to $38.05 billion in 2018, an increase of 10.25 % in the previous year. The growth was mainly due to an increase in gas production; a slower contraction in the oil sector; continued dynamism in construction, processing and logging sectors; and a robust service sector (MPO 2019). To reach economic emergence by 2035 and based on the Strategic Document for Growth and Employment (2010–2020), a 10-year strategy for the Vision 2035, the government has implemented a substantial investment program to accelerate growth, create decent jobs, and reduce poverty. (AEO, 2019). However, the conflict between the English minority Cameroon’s Anglophone crisis remains detrimental to the development and growth of the country mainly causing harm to the young population as thousands had been either displaced or killed and out of schools.