South Africa is at major crossways on all fronts

It gives me great pleasure and remains a huge privilege to welcome my readers to the 2020 launch of another stunning year of reflections on African business and economic focus.

May I take the opportunity from the outset to thank all of my readers for the massive support, continued interactions and messages based on the 36 African focus articles of 2019.

I truly look forward in 2020 to a larger response and even larger suggestions on matters that concern and interest you about Africa.

The year starts well for South Africa, as it is in the seat, chairing the African Union (AU) in 2020. Many would argue that, domestically, South Africa is at major crossways on all fronts and indeed matters of leadership, economy and investors confidence, are on the minds of all interested parties.

On a global front, many in the African business sphere, are keeping a very close focus on specifically three countries’ actions and influences on the African continent.

The US, China and Britain, no doubt have huge investment and trade stake holdings in Africa. The US is interesting, as the continued embattled Trump administration needs to declare what 2020 holds for them on their trade policies to African nations.

China, no doubt for the past decade, has been a major player in Africa, in specific funding and construction. With the global economy going through ups and downs and a so-called imminent cease-fire in the US-China trade wars, the rising superpower might wish to advance its expansion into Africa in 2020.

Last, but not least, is the UK, with all eyes focused on the intended Brexit date tomorrow. No doubt with Brexit still pending, the UK will seek more openings in other markets, and it seems there is now a new view on capturing the old markets and trade of the Commonwealth areas. This would make sense, but it is imperative that should a shift be on the cards to renew the old partnership between the UK and Africa, Africa fights for a better deal. Anything less would be a revival of the past colonial era.

One of the greatest challenges facing Africa remains the lack of infrastructure and planning of such projects on the continent. Several countries have major national development plans in progress, but the bankability of these projects is severely lacking.

The AU should be the focus on a master infrastructure plan to connect Africa. Hopefully 2020 will bring a revival to all of the 55 nations in Africa, as they strive for a united Africa.

Algeria – Islands of the Mazghanna Tribe

Algeria is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya, Tunisia, and Western Sahara. Algeria is the tenth-largest country in the world, and the largest in the Arab world and Africa (followed by Democratic Republic of the Congo). Only 12 percent of its land is inhabited with over 90 percent of the country covered by the Sahara Desert. Algiers is the country’s Capital City and an important economic, commercial and financial centre. The name Algiers, is a truncated form of the city’s older name Jazā’ir Banī Mazghanna (جزائر بني مزغنة, “Islands of the Mazghanna Tribe”.

The former French colony which gained its independence in 1962 is well known for its cherries and dates which are amongst the best in the world. There is also a variety of bird species which makes the country an attraction for bird watchers.

The country has an estimated population of 42.2 Million and a GDP of $180 Billion (World Bank 2018). Petroleum and natural gas make up 98 %t of the country’s exports. The country’s crude oil reserves were the 16th largest in the world with 12,200 million barrels of oil reserves (at the start of 2017) and they are the 3rd largest producer of crude oil in Africa (2019). Algeria’s economy is highly dependent on hydrocarbons, and on global oil and gas prices. GDP growth reached 1.5 percent in 2018, compared to 1.4 percent in the previous year, and was sustained at 1.5 percent the first quarter of 2019. Growth in the hydrocarbon sector was slow, with economic activity contracting by 6.5 percent in 2018
During the 1990s – 2000s, Algeria fought a brutal civil war against an Islamist insurgency and the memories of those dark years have often kept demonstrators at bay. The protesters have rejected the vote, the first since former President Bouteflika was forced out by the military amid nationwide demonstrations in April, citing fears that the election is a mechanism for the political elite to retain power.

Algeria’s religion composition is made of Sunni Muslim (state religion) 99%, Christian and Jewish 1%. Women in Algeria, unlike those in other Islamic nations, make up 60 percent of the student population. They also have considerable prominence in society as 70 percent of Algeria’s lawyers and 60 percent of its judges are women. Algerian women make a larger contribution to household income than their male counterparts which is special looking at their religion and culture on gender orientation.

On the Neil Economic Scale, the price of a can of coke is 69.57 Algerian Dinar (DZD) (R8.59) and the price of a litre of petrol is 41.97 DZD (R5.18). The country has an average inflation rate of 2.5%.

Algeria is one of a handful of countries that have achieved 20% poverty reduction in the past two decades. The Algerian government took significant steps to improve the well being of its people by implementing social policies in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The country’s oil boom has enabled the authorities to clear Algeria’s external debt, invest in infrastructure projects, and improve the country’s Human Development Indicators. Algeria has significantly improved its human capital development: its position on the World Bank Human Capital Index (HCI) that measures five key indicators in health and education is 93rd out of 157 countries. Between 2012 and 2017, its HCI value remained more or less constant at 0.52, however in 2017, it was lower than the average for its region and income group. The resignation of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika has also left the country uncertain and the youths hoping for regime and system change.