Africa Now - Weekly Newsletter (Week 35, 2021)
Samir Bhattacharya, Research Associate, VIF

Dear Readers,

Africa is experiencing greater productivity, stability and trade than ever before. As the continent has been entwined with several challenges including poverty and disease, cycles of conflict, military and dictatorial one-party states etc, the continent has often been referred, particularly in the Western media, as hopeless or dark continent. However, Africa has made a significant turnaround since the start of 21st century and the continent is now being referred as “Rising Continent” and “Hopeful Continent.” As all major powers across the globe have been showing interest to get engaged with the continent, it is definitely on its way to claim the 21st century.

Africa’s engagement with India represents an opportunity for better, more equal relations. Despite the millennial old relation and presence of more than three million people of Indian origin, India has been slow to seize the opportunities that has been on offer in the new Africa. However, lately India-Africa ties have been witnessing steady and deeper engagement. India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS-I) held in 2008 is a watershed moment in that direction. Since that event, India-Africa trade has grown constantly, nearly at 35% every year. Today India is third largest trading partner, accounting for 6.4 percent of total African trade, worth USD 62.6 billion in 2017-18.

Over the past few years, Indian Government has infused a renewed momentum in its outreach to the continent which reflects in its multiple high-ranking official visits resulting in several mutually beneficial bilateral and regional partnership agreements. In 2015, in the side line of Paris Climate summit, India along with France launched International Solar Alliance (ISA) and India is actively pursuing African countries to participate in ISA activities. Based on its decades-old goodwill in Africa, India is also partnering with Japan to expand several infrastructure developments projects under the aegis of Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) Project.

With this increasing strategic opportunities for Indian engagement in the continent, VIF is launching “Africa Now”, a weekly newsletter for Africa. The newsletter will present the emerging social, political and economic issues in Africa that are pertinent in the Indian context such as India’s national security, multilateral and cross border global issues, trade and investment, environment along with some interesting op-eds/blogs giving glimpse of African politics, arts, culture, society etc. We believe that a better knowledge and understanding of different issues in Africa will keep Indian citizen aware and help to take a more positive view of the continent. This should also help Indian policymakers in their foreign policy decision-making.

So, let’s delve into the continent together with Africa Now and stay updated with the continent. And in this journey, any valuable feedback/suggestions from you along the way will be appreciated.

शुभम् भवतु !

Welcome to Africa Now, your weekly newsletter for Africa, presenting the most important developments in the continent - news that matters.

Week 35, 2021
A CELEBRATION OF DEMOCRACY IN ZAMBIA

Even though Africa is witnessing more and more elections, most analysts dismiss them as being “lawful but illegitimate. Political scientists consider political transition as the most important criteria to evaluate the level democracy in a country and from that perspective, the record of power transition in African countries, with a few exceptions, is anything but smooth. Given this backdrop, when last week Zambia's veteran opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has been sworn in as president, it created a ripple effect and raised hope among several opposition leaders across the continent. A word of caution is in order here. In the past, many new leaders portrayed as liberators turned into tormentors once in power. Come what may, for the moment we remain hopeful on the prospect of diffusion of democracy in Africa, while opposition leaders across Africa can draw some lessons.

LATEST NEWS IN AFRICA
WHO: COVID-19 vaccination triples in Africa but still low

COVID-19 vaccinations in Africa have tripled during the past week, though protecting even 10 percent of the continent by the end of September remains “a very daunting task,” the Africa director of the World Health Organization has said. The continent saw 248,000 new confirmed cases during the past week, with at least 28 countries experiencing a surge in infections driven by the Delta variant. Click here to read...

Kenya faces year of uncertainty before key polls

With major constitutional changes suspended for now, and swirling new alliances taking shape, Kenya's political scene is shrouded in uncertainty as the country eyes crucial elections due a year from now. Here is a look at how Kenya got here and what lies ahead when East Africa's powerhouse elects a new president and parliament next August. Click here to read...

Ethiopia to build local rival to Facebook, other platforms

Ethiopia has begun developing its own social media platform to rival Facebook (FB.O), Twitter (TWTR.N) and WhatsApp, though it does not plan to block the global services, the state communications security agency said on Monday. Click here to read...

‘Hunger Season’ Looms in South of Madagascar on Longer Drought

Southern Madagascar is on the brink of a severe humanitarian crisis as hundreds of thousands struggle with the impact of a prolonged drought, according to a United Nations official. “The hunger season is coming,” Issa Sanogo, the UN resident coordinator on the Indian Ocean island nation said on Saturday. People may be left “without the means to eat, without money to pay for health services, or to send their children to school, to get clean water, and even to get seeds to plant for the next agricultural season,” he said. Click here to read...

How Africa can seize the moment and start resetting its relationship with the IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will inject $650 billion in Special Drawing Rights into the global economy. It will allocate them among its member states, which can then decide for themselves how they want to use their Special Drawing Rights. Click here to read...

US Sidelined by Chinese Influence Campaign in Africa

China's global ambitions may have taken a hit in the United States, Europe, Australia, Japan and India, but in Africa, its sustained power and influence are forcing Washington to recalibrate its strategy toward the continent, home to 54 nations. Click here to read...

Egypt throws a spatula in Indian Basmati rice exports

In what could turn out to be a concern for India in the long-term, Egypt will start growing Basmati rice and market it from next yearClick here to read...

NTPC lands raft of solar project contracts in Cuba, Malawi, and Niger

India’s strategy of showcasing its green energy credentials to land projects overseas has gained traction, with state-run NTPC Ltd securing a raft of project contracts under the aegis of International Solar Alliance (ISA) in Cuba, Niger, and Malawi to help set up solar parks to meet these countries’ electricity demands, said two people aware of the development. Click here to read...

Ethiopia crisis: A country in turmoil, India says it needs world's support - in pics

The Ethiopian crisis, which is a combination of power struggle and a call for political reform, has proved dear for the East African nation's civilians, many of who have been killed while others are being forced to live amid severe food crisis. India has said that Ethiopia needs all the support it can get from the international community amid the Tigray crisis. Click here to read...

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