Items of Interest: April 30

The following items from April 30 may emerge to become significant factors impacting geomarket developments in Africa:

Angola: The Russian ambassador met with the Angolan speaker of the national assembly to reiterate the invitation for President João Lourenço to participate in the inaugural Russia-Africa Summit that is scheduled for October 24 in Sochi.

Significance: Russia has invested considerable political capital over the course of the last several months in sending delegations to African capitals in order to personally deliver presidential invitations to attend the inaugural Russia-Africa Summit. That Russia will host a summit for Africa conforms to geostrategic behavior others, including China, India, the European Union, France, and the United States have exhibited. Russia has been a consistent ally to many African states, and forms of strategic cooperation have historically taken shape in security and political exchanges of national and regional substance, with a lesser emphasis on singular or standout economic deals.

Côte d’Ivoire: Former President Henri Konan Bédié met in Daoukro with traditional rulers from the capital Abidjan region, while incumbent President Alassane Ouattara met days earlier in Yamoussoukro with traditional rulers from Bédié’s home Baoulé base. 

Significance: Political posturing to traditional rulers in Côte d’Ivoire is to ensure electoral success when the country holds a presidential election in 18 month’s time. Ouattara has not ruled out standing for a third presidential term, nor has Bédié ruled out returning to elected office. Active rival campaigning conveys that reconciliatory political cooperation aimed to avoid risks of conflict in the country has yet to materialize.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: The National Agency for the Promotion of Investments presented on reforms underway to improve the country’s business environment by 2020.

Significance: Absent from the business promotion seminar that attracted foreign and local businesses was mention of the Congo government’s Mining Code that was revised in 2018. As far as foreign mining operators are concerned, the Mining Code was adversely amended and does not make for an improved business climate. Effecting substantial policy change especially regarding the Mining Code is unrealistic in the near term, certainly not before President Félix Tshisekedi appoints a consensus cabinet informed by the preferences of the Common Front for Congo alliance who dominate the country’s legislature. Instead, moderating the effects of the Mining Code is a more credible scenario in the months to come.

South Africa: Latest opinion polling indicates the ruling African National Congress holds a falling but still majority lead in general elections set for May 8. 

Significance: While there is no likelihood of the African National Congress losing a majority win on May 8, falling support compromises the ruling party’s ability to govern independent of coalition parties. Coalition government considerations would elevate the role and inputs of the Economic Freedom Fighters party in government and policymaking. A substantial majority victory, while equally unlikely, does not mean, however, a clear mandate for the government led by President Cyril Ramaphosa given the competing, pragmatic, and ideologically-driven policy preferences present within the diverse African National Congress.

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