The bonds of our historic ties are unbreakable. I reaffirmed Ethiopia’s solidarity with Sudan to @SudanPMHamdok in our discussions today. Our commitment to economic integration, joint progress & regional stability remains, as we explore opportunities to enhance bilateral ties. pic.twitter.com/bo0fnxMVRj
— Abiy Ahmed Ali 🇪🇹 (@AbiyAhmedAli) August 25, 2020
1 – Abiy Ahmed
Peace and prosperity
Dynamic, a reformer and an adept diplomat, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is at the heart of tectonic change in Ethiopia and in the region. The country was starting to outgrow the governing and economic model that had turned it into East Africa’s largest economy. Cue Abiy’s great opening: of the economy to foreign investment, the landlocked country to ports in the Horn of Africa, the state to differing opinions, and the region to new dynamics. He ended the war with neighbouring Eritrea (which won him the Nobel Peace Prize) and has taken a strong line on the GERD dam with Egypt. In two years Abiy has achieved much, but he is also juggling mounting security issues at home and abroad. This has taken him from being a symbol of unity to treading a thin line between order and authoritarianism.
2 – Aliko Dangote
Refining the system
The energy market in West Africa will never be the same again. Since 2016, Aliko Dangote has been constructing Dangote Refinery in Lagos, Nigeria. Due to be completed at the end of this year, the refinery is expected to be one of the world’s largest – with the capacity to process around 650,000 barrels of crude oil a day. The company expects fuel production within two months of construction completion and this will reverse the decades-old system the country has of exporting crude oil and importing refined petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel and lubricating oil. Industry experts say it is more likely that production will start in 2022, but it will ultimately ease pressure on Nigeria’s currency by freeing up about $8.7bn used to import refined petroleum products each year, as well as create many jobs. Africa’s richest man, owner of the Dangote Group, has an estimated net worth of $10bn.
We are committed to mobilizing resources both within the private sector and other sectors to help eliminate malaria and address the current COVID-19 pandemic. I call on private sector, donors, public sector, NGOs and others to redouble their commitments in eliminating malaria.
— Aliko Dangote (@AlikoDangote) April 25, 2020
3 – João Lourenço
Off with their heads!
Becoming Angolan president after 38 years of José Edouardo dos Santos in September 2017, it was as if João Lourenço pulled a switchblade on his former protector on the day of his inauguration. Starting with the presidential daughter Isabel dos Santos, sacked from state oil company Sonangol, and her brother José Filomeno (‘Zeno’), arrested for embezzlement, one by one, heads rolled through every strata of government, removing the tentacles of Dos Santos’s patronage structure. The key question now, for cynics, is will he be willing to make constitutional changes that dilute the centralised power structure that allowed these abuses to happen?
4 & 5 – Nana Akufo-Addo & Alassane Ouattara
Currency and cocoa
Ghana & Côte d’Ivoire
There is more than an entente cordiale between the presidents of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. Their joint projects are shaking up the region. First in cocoa: Akufo-Addo and his francophone neighbour are working together to disrupt the international market for the soft commodity and better protect the livelihoods of West Africa’s many cocoa farmers.
Ouattara and Akufo-Addo succAeeded in negotiating a $400-per-tonne surcharge on this season’s harvest, and, in doing so, coined a phrase (first heard at The Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan in 2018): ‘Cocopec’. Ouattara, an economist by profession, also caused a stir in West Africa at the end of last year by his surprise announcement – on a podium shared by France’s President Emmanuel Macron – of the proposed new currency, the eco, replacing the CFA franc (see page 12) in eight West African francophone countries. The project was soon backed by Ghana, despite the concerns from Nigeria and other anglophone countries that the eco was stealing thunder from the wider regional currency that has been planned. Akufo-Addo may be tempted to win support for landing the headquarters of the future regional central bank in Ghana by backing Ouattara in the battle of West African wills.
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