African press review 16 April 2013

Relations between South Africa and Nigeria and good news for investment in Kenya are two of the topics in today's papers...


BusinessDay's editorial looks at relations between South Africa and Nigeria, as President Jacob Zuma arrives in Abuja for a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan.

According to the Johannesburg-based financial daily, Zuma’s visit to Africa’s most populous nation is long overdue.

Nigeria is a significant trading partner of South Africa, second only to Angola in how its importance is perceived by Pretoria. Nigeria is the economic powerhouse in West Africa.

The country’s 162-million population makes it a huge market, as illustrated by the profits raked in by South African cellular operator MTN and pay-to-view satellite TV company DStv.

Nigeria is also a military power and drives most of the peacekeeping operations conducted by the Economic Community of West African States.

Rivalry between the two nations is to be seen on several levels.

Goodluck Jonathan vehemently opposed the eventually successful candidature of South African Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the chair of the African Union Commission.

The Nigerian economy is growing at twice the rate of South Africa's.

This year, Nigeria won the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, and its fans reminded their South African compatriots that the only time South Africa won, in 1996, Nigeria was absent.

The editorial concludes by pointing out that it is important to the growth of the rest of the continent that South Africa and Nigeria   Africa’s biggest economies by far   work more closely to build up two-way trade. Both countries need to sing from the same hymn sheet in their approach to African crises too, to deliver the message that South Africa is not a lone ranger. The botched mission in the Central African Republic is a tragic example of what to avoid in future.

Also in BusinessDay, news that the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union has threatened to ratchet up the pressure on the Department of Basic Education this week, despite labour analysts warning that their industrial action is ill-advised.

Last week, Sadtu members began a work-to-rule campaign   teachers stayed in class for seven hours a day, but performed no extra duties such as marking, hosting departmental events or attending workshops.

Sadtu’s grievance is the amount paid to teachers for setting and marking matric exam papers.

Opposition Democratic Alliance Basic Education spokeswoman Annette Lovemore has accused Sadtu of embarking on an illegal strike by withholding labour. Sadtu responded that there would be no disruptions to teaching, but insisted members would work-to-rule.

Labour analysts questioned Sadtu’s ability to justify the campaign, warning that the union’s actions may be viewed as an unprotected strike.

From Wednesday, union members plan to picket outside schools.

South Africa has approved 80 million euros in budgetary support to its cash-strapped neighbour Zimbabwe to help plug a gap in Harare's finances ahead of national elections that are now expected to take place in the second half of the year, Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti said on Monday.

Zimbabwe’s economy has been on the mend since President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai agreed to share power after disputed 2008 elections but the country is still suffering a hangover from a decade-long recession widely blamed on the policies of President Mugabe.

Uganda has agreed with the French company Total and China’s CNOOC to build a small oil refinery, in a compromise removing one obstacle to commercial output of the country’s oil.

The Ugandan government said on Monday it had agreed with the two energy companies on an initial processing capacity of 30,000 barrels per day   well below the 200,000 barrels per day Kampala had previously advocated.

Kenya's post-election violence 2007-8

Rather than build a major refinery in Uganda, Total and CNOOC favour a pipeline to export most of the country's crude via Kenya’s Indian Ocean coastline, saying there is insufficient local demand for a refinery of the size Uganda wanted.

The main story in the Kenyan Standard looks to Boston with the news that Athletics Kenya representative Barnabas Korir has confirmed all Kenyan athletes attending the Boston Marathon are safe and have boarded a chartered plane to Nairobi via Amsterdam following the explosion in which three people died.

Kenyan Ambassador to the United States Elkanah Odembo also confirmed that the athletes were safe.

According to regional newspaper the East African, Kenya is hoping to attract at least 300 million euros in foreign direct investments over the next three months, in the wake of a smooth political transition that has raised business leaders’ confidence in the economy.

As a result of political uncertainty ahead of the 4 March General Election, Kenya missed its foreign direct investment targets for the half year ending March 2013, according to data from the Kenya Investment Authority.

The heightened political risk forced Kenyan businesses into holding cash while others suspended expansion plans. Now most business leaders say the swearing in of President Uhuru Kenyatta on 9 April is likely to open the floodgates of investment.

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