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6 people to watch in Central Africa in 2014

By The Africa Report
Posted on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 15:32

Nelida Karr – Equatorial Guinea: Polyglot prize-winner

The 23 year old, a professional musician since she was 17, is one of the few artists from Equatorial Guinea to attract international attention.

Radio France Internationale announced in September that she is one of the 12 finalists for its Découvertes 2013 prize, making her the first to hail from the Central African country.

The daughter of musicians, Karr launched her second album, Batobiera, in June 2013.

Incorporating locally tinged jazz, soul and gospel, and singing in Spanish, Igbo, Bubi and Fang, she defines her music as a fusion between traditional and modern.

With young people in Malabo and Bata taking part in the hip-hop scene, she is a rarity as a young musician looking to preserve the country’s culture and local languages.

Joshua Osih – Cameroon: Young blood rising

The charismatic native of Ndian in south-west Cameroon has emerged as a strong contender to succeed 72-year-old John Fru Ndi as the head of Cameroon’s leading opposition party, the Social Democratic Front (SDF).

A combination of blistering media flare-ups against President Paul Biya and internal clamouring for more youths to take the helm of the SDF propelled 45-year-old Osih from provincial chairman to party vice-president in 2008.

In the October 2013 legislative elections, he won a parliamentary seat in the economic capital, Douala.

Dieudonné Nzapalainga – Central African Republic: Archbishop on the frontline

Archbishop Nzapalainga of Bangui is trying to calm religious tensions that followed the overthrow of President François Bozizé by the Seleka rebels in March 2013.

He is one of few religious leaders to speak out against the predominantly Muslim Seleka’s attacks on the civilian population.

Nzapalainga has been speaking with members of both the Christian and Muslim communities to try to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Pope Benedict XVI appointed him to the archbishopric in 2012.

Albert Yuma- Democratic Republic of Congo: Miner with a mind of his own

The chairman of state-owned mining company Gécamines is a Teflon-coated operator who survives mainly because he has the confidence of President Joseph Kabila.

Ministers say Yuma should consult them about big decisions, but he sees things differently.

In October 2013, he declined to inform them that he intended to sell a 20% stake in Kamoto Copper Company to Israeli mining mogul Dan Gertler.

Yuma became head of Gécamines in 2010 thanks to Augustin Katumba Mwanke, an influential adviser to Kabila.

Yuma has overseen several opaque mining deals brokered by Mwanke, most of which involved the sale of Gécamines assets to companies with links to Gertler.

The International Monetary Fund has criticised the deals, but they have not been fully investigated.

Bédoumra Kordjé – Chad: Pan-African ambitions

At 61, finance minister Bédoumra Kordjé would like to succeed African Development Bank (AfDB) president Donald Kaberuka in 2015.

Until 2012, when President Idris Déby Itno asked Kordjé to return to Chad as minister of economics and planning, he had spent most of his career at the AfDB, becoming director, secretary general and vice-president.

He pushed for the development of infrastructure and participated in the working group on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.

He hopes that his new political experience will make him a prime candidate, especially since a Central African has never held the bank’s top post.

Serge Thierry Mickoto – Gabon: Mr diversification

The man who has the task of breaking Gabon’s dependency on oil revenue is Serge Mickoto, the director of the Fonds Gabonais d’Investissements Stratégiques (FGIS).

He manages the state’s shares in companies and the investments of the Fonds Souverain de la République Gabonaise (FSRG), through which about 10% of the government’s annual oil revenue flows.

The former director of BGFI Bank’s Equatorial Guinean operations oversaw an agreement for FGIS to purchase an 8% stake in the Oragroup bank in October 2013.

The FGIS already has stakes in about 50 different companies in Gabon and abroad, the names of which it has not disclosed.

It is also working with Singapore’s Aman Resorts to build eco-lodges.

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