Togo – Time for change

Many decades ago, between the 16th and the 18th century Togo and its surrounding regions were known as “the slave coast” as Europeans would visit the region in search of slaves. Fast track through decades, Togo has been independent for about 60 years now since it gained independency on the April 27th, 1960. The Togolese Republic as it was formerly known as is a small West African country only 21,925 sq mi with an average density of 253 people per square mile. It extends south to the Bight of Benin and is bordered on the north by Burkina Faso, Benin to the east, and Ghana on the west. Contrasting the geography of the centre of the country, mostly hills, the north is mostly rolling savanna and the south is both savanna and woodland plateau. A more interesting fact is Togo is located very close to the equator and thus, experiences tropical hot and humid climate in the central regions and the south and dry, arid weather towards the north.

While many languages are spoken in Togo, mainly those of the Gbe family, French is its official language. People with indigenous beliefs make up the largest religious group, but Christians and Muslims also make up a significant minority. Greetings are elaborated in Togo with it being very important to say hello to everyone when coming and going. More so if you want to greet somebody in Togo, you should shake their hand a say a verbal “Hello” in French (Bonjour), Ewe (Woezo-lo!), Kabiye (Alafia-we) or another tribal language. When it comes to food, it is seen as rude to smell food that has been cooked for you for any reason. It is rude to ask what it is you are eating as well. Togo is much a starving country, and a meal cooked for you in the country is a big deal. So, you are to eat it without asking any questions and while you at if the meat is served, break the bones and suck the marrow. Not doing so is seen as wasteful to the Togolese. However, since independence, Togo has struggled to build a stable country and economy with the Eyadema family at the helm for decades. Faure Gnassingbe Eyadema succeeded his father, who died in 2005 after ruling the country with an iron fist for 38 years but in recent years hundreds have died that challenged his victories at the polls.

Togo’s economy is small and depends on subsistence and commercial agriculture. Phosphate mining used to be the primary industrial activity, but due to increased foreign competition, and the collapse of world phosphate prices, Togo has been relying more on the export of cement and clinker to nearby countries. Several setbacks in the early 1990’s such as strikes and political unrest hurt economic growth by shrinking the tax base and disrupting the economy to a point that education in Togo was compulsory only for six years mainly because of teacher shortages and poor infrastructure.

On the Neil economic scale, a can of coke cost 1.69$ – CFA franc (R 0,50) and the price of litre petrol is 1. 25$ – CFA franc (R 0,38). The inflation rate for consumer prices in Togo moved over the past 40 years between -3.5% and 39.2%. For 2019, an inflation rate of 0.7% was calculated and was recorded at -0.40% in June of this year (2020).

Togo has received validation from the World Health Organization (WHO) for having eliminated human African trypanosomiasis or “sleeping sickness” as a public health problem, becoming the first country in Africa to reach this milestone. Togo’s achievement comes after more than two decades of sustained political commitment. The wish of the Togolese people is that the same sustained political commitment can be made to their election crisis. According to the 2019 corruption perceptions index, Togo is among the most corrupt countries in the world, ranking 130 out of 180 with only North Korea’s ruling dynasty that has held executive power for longer. The overall feeling is that it is time for a change. But all the opposition parties can hope to oust this regime is a post-electoral crisis. And that, sadly, could lead to fresh bloodshed and more suffering for the Togolese people.

Liberia – The Path to Light

Liberia was perceived as an example of Africa’s ability at self-rule and self-determination and due to this known as the Black Zion. After overcoming two civil wars, the country still has an interesting historical, cultural and landmarks to flaunt. Few people knew that the country was found by freed slaves from the Americas hence the deep connections between the U.S. and Liberia. Its capital, Monrovia, is named after the fifth U.S. president, James Monroe, who served in the White House from 1817 to 1825. More interestingly the connection runs in billionaire media producer Oprah Winfrey NDA, who traced her ancestry to the Kpelle Tribe of Liberia. Speaking of female dominance, it is the only African country that had a female president in office, Lady Ellen Johnson Sirleaf known as Africa’s Iron Lady. Liberia in the current day is run by the “people’s president” George Weah, a footballing icon.

Better known as the Republic of Liberia is an African country located on the west coast of the African continent and one of the world’s oldest democracies having attained independence from the United States of America in 1847. According to the CIA World Factbook, the country has one of the youngest population with an average age of 17.9 years which can be correlated with the fact that women can get married at the age of 18, and men aged 21. Geographically Liberia is surrounded by Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Côte d’Ivoire on three sides, while the south coast borders the Atlantic Ocean and It serves as one of the biggest exporters of iron ore in Africa. The longest river in Liberia is named after a fish which is derived from the cavalla horse mackerel found at its mouth and the country is home to the endangered and mysterious pygmy hippopotamus. So, with these few marvels mentioned why are not many people visiting? Interestingly neither the World Bank nor the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), have figures for foreign arrivals. The country’s old infrastructure can be attributed to the civil war which lasted from 1989 to 1997 and the influence of the Cannibal Warlords. Power shortages in the country are common, facilities at tourist attractions rudimentary, the only proper hotels (in the Western sense) are clustered in Monrovia (the capital), and roads often little more than dirt tracks. Business and economy are constrained by a small domestic market, high transportation costs and poor trade links with neighbouring countries. To add to this, the country is struggling to recover fully from the effects of multiple shocks in recent years; namely, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak, the collapse of commodity prices, UNMIL withdrawal and the perception of risk associated with the political transition in January 2018.

On the Neil economic scale, a can of coke cost L$150 Liberian dollar (R 5,96) and the price of a litre petrol is L$1.12 Liberian dollar (R 0,94). Liberia’s economy is projected to contract by 1.4% in 2019, following the modest growth of 1.2% in 2018. Inflation reached 31.3% by August 2019, up from 26.1% the previous year (World Bank, 2019).

Despite all the issues covered, President Weah has made necessary efforts to diversify the economy by investing more in public infrastructure, agriculture and supporting small and micro enterprises with capital, but it will be sometime before these yield results. The government intends to build a highway along Liberia’s 350-mile coast as well as connecting roads into the interior. He also maintains popular support in the legislature. Both will be crucial as he attempts to implement reforms and pro-poor development programmes. With five years left to go, hope in the president remains high.

Sudan – Time, Hope and Patience

Sudan is a country in North-Eastern Africa which gained independence from Egypt and the UK in 1956. Previously called Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, the country has a rich history and before the split with South Sudan on 9 July 2011, united Sudan was the largest country in Africa and the Arab world by area. It is considered a treasure trove for archaeologists, due to a large number of prehistoric artefacts. Sudan’s post-independence history has been tumultuous, characterised by multiple coups and economic woes. These were exacerbated by international tensions – and later sanctions – following the government’s decision to allow terrorist leader Osama bin Laden to reside in Khartoum in the 1990s.

The country with a population of close to 42 Million (World Bank 2018) is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west and Libya to the northwest. Khartoum is the capital and largest city of Sudan despite the most populous city being Omdurman. Islam is an integral part of Sudan’s social fabric and media landscape as well as a politically mobilizing and polarizing force. The Arab presence is estimated at 70% of the Sudanese population. By far the most popular tourist attraction in the country, the Pyramids of Meroe are one of the last remaining symbols from an ancient civilization. The best time to visit is just before sunset when the sun illuminates the structures with a golden hue. The Pyramids of Meroe were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011. Sudan’s economy is basically agricultural, with inadequate infrastructure and ridden by the civil wars and social and ethnic conflict. Sudan lost most of its oil reserves (over 80 percent), after the secession of South Sudan. Unlike the rest of the Arab world that is mostly barren desert, Sudan has a significant size of arable land. The country has the potential to produce most of its food needs and export some to the Arab world. Despite Sudan accounting for less than 10% of Arab land, it counts for almost half of its arable land. GDP growth was an estimated 4.1% in 2018, up slightly from 3.3% in 2017. On the supply side, mining (growth of 6.3%), agriculture (3.7%), and manufacturing (1.5%) were the main contributors to growth. GDP growth is projected to be 3.6% in 2019 and 3.8% in 2020, benefiting from a strong commitment to ongoing macroeconomic policy and structural reforms, including removing tax exemptions and the like.

On the “Neil economic scale, a can of coke cost 18,58 SDG (R 6,00) and the price of litre petrol is 7,70 SDG (R 2,44). Sudan inflation rate though fluctuated substantially in recent years from 16.91% in 2016 to 63. 29% in 2019 with a projected rate of 50.43% in 2020.

Sudan faces key challenges include institutional and human capacity weaknesses, high youth unemployment, a high external debt burden, and climate change. However, there is hope with time and determination in Sudan as there are key opportunities include huge unexploited agricultural potential, an improved national policy environment, and private sector potential. Sudan also holds huge private investment opportunities in large-scale irrigated agriculture, dairy farming and animal husbandry, forest enterprises involving gum Arabic, and the leather supply chain for regional and global export, with the potential to increase national income and foreign exchange earnings by promoting exports of manufactured and semi-manufactured goods.

Senegal – Gateway to Africa

In the 16th century when the Portuguese visited the country’s coast, the fishermen said “sunu gaal”, which translates into “these are our boats”. The Portuguese, who understood nothing, simply named their land “Senegal”. Fast forward a few centuries, Nelson Mandela in his book “Long Walk to Freedom” stated that the Senegalese are handsome people and that the society showed how disparate elements– French, Islamic, and African– can mingle to create a unique and distinctive culture.” Provided this information we can see this in Senegal’s national flag which bears three colours: red, yellow and green. They are the official Pan-African colours and a star in the middle that represents universal unity.

Senegal has two prominent nicknames: the land of Teranga and the gateway to West Africa. The “Gateway to Africa” tag was earned through the presence of the Senegal River, by which the Portuguese and the French were able to make inroads to Sudan and Central Africa. The government is a multiparty democratic republic and became independent in 1960 after three centuries of French colonial rule. Dakar, the capital lies on the Cap-Vert peninsula, the most westerly point in Africa. In 1840, the French government declared Senegal a permanent French possession, abolished all forms of slavery, and granted full citizenship to those born in Senegal. More ironically Senegal’s traditional and national sport is wrestling, likely as a coincidence of wrestling France for three centuries.

Senegal has been among Africa’s most stable countries, with three major peaceful political transitions since independence. In a presidential election held on February 24, 2019, the Senegalese people voted in President Macky Sall for a second term. Predominantly rural, and with limited natural resources, the Economy of Senegal gains most of its foreign exchange from fish, phosphates, groundnuts, tourism, and services. Growth has been high, over 6% since 2014, and the forecast remains optimistic, particularly with oil and gas production expected in 2022. Growth accelerated to over 7% in 2017 and is expected to remain over 6% in 2018 and the following years. All sectors supported growth in 2018, but agriculture – due to support programs, robust external demand, and large infrastructure investments in the context of Emerging Senegal Plan implementation remain key drivers. Although the country is 93% Muslim, Senegal’s first president was Catholic (Renowned poet Léopold Sédar Senghor).

On the Neil Economic scale, a can of coke cost 431.11 CFA (R 10,59) and the price of a litre petrol is 593.50 CFA (R 18,74). The inflation rate for consumer prices in Senegal moved over the past 39 years between -4.1% and 32.3%. During the observation period from 1979 to 2018, the average inflation rate was 3.9% per year. For 2018, an inflation rate of 0.5% was calculated. Overall, the price increase was 317.72 %. An item that cost 100 Franc in 1979 was so charged 417.72 Franc at the beginning of 2019.

Despite Senegal having over 20 ethnic groups speaking more than one language, the different groups have coexisted in harmony. Senegal is the only country in West Africa that wasn’t overrun by a military coup and its democratic stability has earned it many allies in Europe and the Americas. The country truly fits the Senegalese proverb “The chameleon changes colour to match the earth, the earth doesn’t change colour to match the chameleon”. Senegal has a reputation for transparency in government operations. The level of economic corruption that has damaged the development of the economies in other African states is very low. Today Senegal has a democratic political culture, being part of one of the most successful democratic transitions in Africa.

Nigeria – The Giant of Africa

“There is no country in the world with the diversity, confidence, talent and black pride like Nigeria” stated by Kenyan author, Binyavanga Wainana for Nigeria for being a stalwart of black pride and identity. The country regarded as the “Giant of Africa” has 36 states and a Federal Capital Territory known as Abuja, features over 250 different ethnic groups with many different languages. The former British colony is Africa’s most populous country with an estimated population of 202 Million (World Bank 2019) and will double in size to 400 million people by 2050. Nigeria has a diverse geography, with climates ranging from arid to humid equatorial. More spectacular, the Niger Delta (the second-largest delta on the planet), has the highest concentration of monotypic fish families in the world and is also home to sixty percent of Nigeria’s mangrove forests. The country with a name derived from Niger river which is the largest and longest river in West Africa is home to one of the Oldest Locations of Human Existence, The Nok Civilisation (dating back to 1500BC).

It is interesting to know that Nigeria has more Muslims than Saudi Arabia and has the largest Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa with a religion composition of 52% Islam and 47% Christianity. The country is dominated by Sunni Muslims concentrated in the North whilst the South is dominated by Christians. Religion in Nigeria has also influenced some of the customs and the way of living in most of the Muslim Families as they consider the left hand to be unclean and using it to be a sign of disrespect. Those that believe this do not eat, shake hands or receive items with their left hand. Nigeria’s economy has been driven over the years by Crude oil exports as the nation is the largest producer and exporter of Crude Oil in Africa. The country is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and is a major source of U.S. imports. The region’s biggest economy (an estimated GDP of $397 Billion in 2018) and largest consumer base is reliant on oil and gas for its revenue, the economy itself is more diversified, with manufacturing, banking and insurance, retail and agriculture all major contributors. However, each of these sectors could grow faster and create more opportunities if structural problems are overcome, among them, the country’s electricity shortage, corruption and bureaucratic bottlenecks.

On the Neil economic scale, a can of coke cost 150 Naira (R 5,96) and the price of a litre petrol is 138.62 Naira (R 6,30). Though Nigeria inflation rate fluctuated substantially in recent years it tended to increase through 1999 – 2018 period ending at 12.1 % in 2018 with a 4.43% decline from 2017.

Nigeria has managed to turn the entertainment industry into a major GDP contributor by transforming showbiz from an African perspective. In 2009, UNESCO reported the Nigerian film industry – also known as “Nollywood” – had overtaken Hollywood to become the world’s second-largest film industry, behind India’s Bollywood. In the following decade, output more than doubled to 2,500 films a year – and the industry is continuing to grow, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers. It is estimated to employ more than 1 million people and to generate more than $7 billion for the national economy, accounting for around 1.4% of Nigeria’s gross domestic product. New cinemas are opening, and box office revenue is predicted to reach $22 million by 2021.

 

Egypt – A land of mysteries

Egypt also is known as the Arab Republic of Egypt is a country in North Africa with great significance in the history of humankind. The oldest surviving work in mathematics was written by the ancient Egyptian scribe Ahmes around 1650 B.C. Found on the Rhine Mathematical Papyrus, it is titled “The Entrance into the Knowledge of All Existing Things and All Obscure Secrets. The ancient Egyptians were the first people to have a year consisting of 365 days divided into 12 months who also invented clocks.

The ancient Greek historian Herodotus called Egypt “the gift of the Nile”. This mighty river Nile, which flows north from the heart of Africa to the Mediterranean Sea is Egypt’s pride. For the ancient Egyptians, the Nile was mysterious. Unlike most other rivers, it flows south to north, it floods in the summer, and no one knew where the water came from. Explorers discovered the source of the Nile in East Africa just 150 years ago. Mystery surrounds Egypt’s origin, its religion, and its monumental architecture: colossal temples, enormous Sphinx and the pyramids which are the only remaining wonder of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Even though Mexico, not Egypt, has the largest pyramid in the world in terms of volume, Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Cheops at Giza remains popular than The Cholula Pyramid (sometimes referred to as Quetzalcoatl) of Mexico which was built around the year A.D. 100.

Today, Egypt is the world’s most populous Arab country and the third most populous nation in Africa, (Nigeria 1st and Ethiopia 2nd). Located in the north-eastern corner of Africa, where Africa and Asia meet, it links the Muslim countries of southwest Asia with those of North Africa. Cairo is Egypt’s capital and the largest city and the largest city in Africa. Situated on both banks of the Nile, it is Egypt’s commercial and cultural Centre as well as the seat of government. Egypt’s second most important waterway is the Suez Canal, which links the Mediterranean Sea with the Gulf of Suez, an arm of the Red Sea. The canal is one of the world’s chief commercial waterways. The canal and the Isthmus of Suez are the traditional boundaries between Africa and Asia.

Egypt’s economy was highly centralized during the rule of former President Gamal Abdel NASSER but opened considerably under former Presidents Anwar EL-SADAT and Mohamed Hosni MUBARAK. Agriculture, hydrocarbons, manufacturing, tourism, and other service sectors drove the country’s relatively diverse economic activity. Egypt’s economy is growing rapidly. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew to 5.6% in the third quarter of 2019 against 5.4% in the same period of 2017-2018. The North African state is now targeting 6% GDP growth in the 2019/20 fiscal year which runs from 1st July to 30th June. The country’s economic freedom score is 52.5, making it’s economy the 144th freest in 2019 and is ranked 11th among 14 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. The single biggest donor of Egypt is the US government, which has provided more than USD 25 billion in economic assistance since 1975.

On the “Neil economic scale”, a can of coke cost 3.50 EGP (R 3,18) and the price of litre petrol is 8.75 EGP (R 7,96). Though Egypt’s inflation rate annual inflation rate dropped to 2.4 percent in October 2019 marking the lowest annual inflation rate in recent records. The inflation rate plunged from 17.5 percent in October 2018 to 2.4 percent in October 2019.

It is amazing to imagine that an ancient civilization like Egypt’s invented toothpaste, paper as well as keys and locks. The Egyptians are intelligent people with a glorious history which has left a mark on civilization and we continue to celebrate it through counting and time. We question whether the land of mysteries is a part of this world or a portal to another dimension of life imagine before Facebook came to Egypt to showcase user identification, forensic fingerprint powder had been used for fingerprints, yip, the world’s oldest synthetic pigment produced by yours truly – ancient Egyptians, proud Africa.

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.

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.